The definition of "draft steal" can vary person to person or team to team, but I believe a "steal" is a player who performs at a level well beyond their draft slot.
Earlier this week, I identified some of the potential draft steals on offense. Today I'm delving into potential draft steals on the defensive side of the ball:
Roy Robertson-Harris, DE, UTEP: The cousin of former All-Pro offensive lineman Carl Nicks, Robertson-Harris simply looks different in the uniform than most everyone else he played with and against. With long arms and an athletic build, Robertson-Harris is made for the edge. He's athletic enough to play standing up and strong enough to put his hand in the ground as a traditional 4-3 defensive end. While he can be a little inconsistent at times, his flashes are most definitely NFL-caliber. If this year's production was any indication, he could become a quality NFL starter with more coaching.
Scooby Wright III, ILB, Arizona: While his name is very recognizable, that doesn't mean "Scooby" can't be a draft steal. Wright put together one of the most productive seasons we've ever seen on the defensive side of the ball back in 2014, but was able to play in just three games in 2015 due to injury. Wright's athletic testing numbers and overall speed aren't up to the early round league standards for his position, but he has predictive instincts and initial quickness that puts him ahead of most blockers en route to the ball. Wright has the toughness and instincts to become a quality, starting inside linebacker.
Juston Burris, CB, North Carolina State: Burris' name isn't bandied about much in draft circles, which is surprising given his above-average size (6-foot, 212 pounds) for the position. Burris isn't just big, though. His 4.53-second 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine is considered a solid time for a big cornerback. I'm a fan of his football character on the field -- the way he competes and never backs down from a physical challenge, and how he plays his role in run support. While Burris doesn't have eye-catching ball-production numbers, there is enough there to believe he has a chance to be a competitive NFL cornerback.
Aaron Wallace, OLB, UCLA: Wallace was a forgotten man for much of his time at UCLA, but an opportunity opened up for him with the injury to Myles Jack last season, and Wallace capitalized. An NFL evaluator had me turn on UCLA tape against Cal and said "just watch the defense for about 20 plays and tell me what you see." It took less than 20 plays for me to blurt out "Man, No. 51 (Wallace) has some juice off the edge." And that was what the evaluator was looking for. I wrote Wallace's draft profile a while back, but my "strengths" regarding his athleticism showed themselves at his pro day earlier this month. Wallace's father was a star linebacker at Texas A&M for the vaunted "Wrecking Crew" defense and was a second-round pick of the Raiders. While the junior Wallace might not get drafted as early as his father, he has the pass-rush potential and athleticism to become a better pro than college player.
Three more prospects with steal potential
Su'a Cravens, LB/SS, USC: I didn't want to list Cravens within the top four because there is a chance that he could go inside the first two rounds. However, if he slips into the third round or later due to the lack of speed and explosiveness he showed at his pro day, I'll be more than happy to push him into that group. Cravens, who is turning down requests to work out for NFL teams, isn't for everyone because he doesn't have a clean position fit due to his lack of speed at safety and size at linebacker. However, he's a fearless playmaker who is always into something. The team that takes Cravens will know it stole one by the time OTAs are over.
Kyle Peko, NT, Oregon State: I was watching tape of an offensive lineman who was taking on Oregon State and I kept getting distracted by No. 99 disrupting running plays and being a general nuisance to the offense. I looked him up and found out it was Peko. His path to success in 2015 was a bumpy one thanks to eligibility issues surrounding his academics, but once he made it on the field, Beaver fans were treated to a disruptive, gap-shooter with some of the most impressive balance and change of direction that you will find from an interior player in this draft. Peko's draft stock is liable to fall a little because he's a bit undersized (6-1, 305).
Farrington Huguenin, DT, Kentucky: There is nothing flashy about Huguenin. He's not an exciting pass rusher, didn't post electric numbers at his pro day and doesn't have a resume of all-conference production in the SEC. I'll tell you what he is, though -- tough and strong. Huguenin has a chance of going later on Day 3 (Rounds 4-7) of the draft, but he has the ability to be a solid, rotational 3-4 DE with the ability to two-gap and play the run. It won't be a sexy pick, but he does offer very good value for the right team.