We've seen prospects rise up draft boards this offseason based on their performances in big events such as the NFL Scouting Combine, but some players that I think highly of still aren't getting their full due. I'm highlighting some of those players with my 2015 NFL Draft All-Underrated Team. I don't expect any of these players to be picked in Round 1, but I expect each to be drafted, and I like their odds of being very productive in the NFL.
I unveiled my all-underrated offense on Tuesday. Here's a look at my picks for the all-underrated defense.
Defensive ends:*Anthony Chickillo, Miami (Fla.); *Cedric Reed, Texas
The skinny: Chickillo was an absolute terror in the East-West Shrine Game. He's a tough kid who will surprise people. Reed had a much better junior season than senior season, but he reportedly played through a torn meniscus during his senior year. If you turn on the 2013 tape of Reed playing opposite Jackson Jeffcoat, Reed jumps out at you, and he got better as the 2014 season progressed. He destroyed West Virginia last season.
Defensive tackles:*Derrick Lott, Tennessee-Chattanooga; *Bobby Richardson, Indiana
The skinny: Lott is another guy who performed well at the East-West Shrine Game. I keep hearing his name when I talk to evaluators. As for Richardson, I was told I'd better take a good, long look at him. He's someone to keep an eye on.
Outside linebackers:*Kyle Emanuel, North Dakota State; *Jake Ryan, Michigan
The skinny: Emanuel might project to defensive end for some teams, but was a very productive player for a team that won four consecutive FCS championships. Ryan isn't going to blow anyone away with his measurables, but he's always around the ball. He might be one of those high-energy guys that makes it very hard for a team to cut him.
Inside linebacker:*Ben Heeney, Kansas
*The skinny: Like Ryan, Heeney has a nose for the ball, and his production is off the charts. He can be a core special-teams player right away and will prove that he belongs.
Cornerbacks:*Donald Celiscar, Western Michigan; *Bobby McCain, Memphis
The skinny: Celiscar is a tough player, and that really shined through last season vs. Virginia Tech, among other games. I won't be surprised if he ends up playing safety in the NFL. McCain is a terrific athlete, as he showed at the combine, with great instincts.
Safeties:*Durell Eskridge, Syracuse; *James Sample, Louisville
The skinny: Sample was overshadowed at Louisville playing opposite Gerod Holliman, who tied the FBS single-season interception record (14) last season. Sample's stats aren't as gaudy, but I think he's a consistently excellent player, and I won't be surprised if he gets picked before Holliman. Eskridge is a long, rangy guy, and teams might make him a press corner at the next level.