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Six late-round picks likely to exceed expectations in 2016

There is a long history of late-round players becoming inexpensive core players, and sometimes even superstars. Players who go late in the draft often fall because of a lack of size, speed or college production. However, sometimes the size or speed deficiencies can be overcome by instincts, work ethic and competitive drive.

In other instances, players fall through the cracks due to playing at a lower level or not getting the best opportunities in college. Late-rounders can thrive when they find the perfect fit for what they do. Here are 6 late-round picks from this year's draft who could become major factors this season.

Paul Perkins, RB, New York Giants

Draft:Round 5, No. 149 overall
On paper, the Giants have quite a logjam at the running back position, which is headed up by veteran Rashad Jennings, who is coming off of a career high for rushing yards. However, at 31 years old, I'm not expecting Jennings to be the be-all, end-all option under new head coach Ben McAdoo. Perkins is a more creative runner than any of the backs in the Giants' stable, and was obviously hand-picked by McAdoo and his staff. I'm not advising you to go overboard with Perkins in your fantasy football drafts, but he does have a shot at outperforming his draft slot this season.

Drew Kaser, P, San Diego Chargers

Draft:Round 6, No. 179 overall
I'm sure you might be sleeping on a punter, but Kaser is not that guy to sleep on. He has a huge leg with an ability to dig the Chargers out of a deep hole and flip the field. When you break Shane Lechler's college punting records at Texas A&M like Kaser did, you might have a shot of becoming a big deal in the special-teams world. Kaser will be the opening-day punter, and could end up near the top of the league in net punting as a rookie.

Matt Ioannidis, DT, Washington Redskins

Draft:Round 5, No. 152 overall
One glance at the depth chart will tell you that Ioannidis has a chance to work into the Redskins' defensive-line rotation quickly. He has enough power at the point of attack to handle himself against NFL blockers and proved to be very disruptive during Senior Bowl week in January. While he won't light up the stat sheet, he'll be in a good spot to fight for potential game reps early in the season if he plays with some consistency in preseason camp.

D.J. Reader, NT, Houston Texans

Draft:Round 5, No. 166 overall
The Texans swung and missed with their selection of Louis Nix in the third round of the 2014 draft, but Reader has a chance to succeed where Nix failed. While Vince Wilfork is still the starter in Houston, Reader -- thanks to his bulk and power -- has a great shot to step into rotational reps behind Wilfork. Reader's tape shows a big man who can generate movement at the line of scrimmage and the Texans understand that they need to find a successor for Wilfork quickly. Reader could be a bigger factor than anyone expects -- even as early as 2016.

LeShaun Sims, CB, Tennessee Titans

Draft:Round 5, No. 157 overall
Sims will step right into the secondary in Tennessee, where he will be the biggest cornerback of the bunch at 6-foot, 203 pounds. While his time at Southern Utah didn't prepare him to step right onto the field against NFL-level wide receivers, Tennessee's lack of quality starters at the position and a brand-new coaching staff could work in Sims' favor. The big corner could surprise early on under Dick LeBeau's tutelage.

Jakeem Grant, WR/KR, Miami Dolphins

Draft:Round 6, No. 186 overall
When you look at the Dolphins' depth chart at wide receiver, you see plenty of players with size, but no speedsters who can work from the slot and run away from cornerbacks on crossing routes. Grant is a little bit of a longshot to get much receiving work as a rookie, but I wouldn't rule him out considering his combination of instant acceleration and long speed to make defenses pay after the catch. He should step right into work as a kick returner. Grant doesn't need much of a crease to make kick-return units pay, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him put it in the paint in 2016.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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