Days one and two of the 2011 draft have come and gone. But plenty of projected day-two picks remain available heading into day three.
The third day of the draft begins at noon eastern.
Here’s a look at eight interesting players left:
1. Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi: NFL Films guru Greg Cosell has likened Stanzi’s skill set to Matt Schaub’s when Schaub was coming out of Virginia. Though he was inconsistent his first three years at Iowa, Stanzi’s game took off as a senior when he completed 64.1 percent of his passes with a 25:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He’s considered to fit best in a West Coast offense due to a lack of ideal arm strength. But he is an accurate thrower, and we suspect Stanzi will be one of the top picks in round four. The Redskins make quite a bit of sense after passing on signal callers on the draft’s first two days.
2. Abilene Christian wide receiver Edmond Gates: A big-time vertical threat. Though he played against weak, D-2 competition, Gates averaged 18.26 yards a catch with 27 receiving scores in four years at Abilene Christian. At the Combine, Gates tied track athlete Ricardo Lockette for the fastest forty time (4.37) among wide receiver prospects. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock predicted earlier this month that Gates wouldn’t make it out of the draft’s second day. But he has, and will be a steal on Saturday.
3. Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter: Hunter has drawn some Maurice Jones-Drew comparisons for his thick lower half and tough running style at just 5-foot-7 and 199 pounds. Last year, he finished second in Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year voting. In his career, Hunter averaged 5.91 yards per carry, scored 37 rushing touchdowns, and was even an All-Big 12 Academic pick. Hunter ran 4.43 at his Pro Day and is another likely round-four selection.
4. Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones: Jones has blinding speed. He ran in the 4.32 to 4.35 range at his April 14 Pro Day, and looks an awful lot like Chris Johnson or Jamaal Charles at 6-foot-1, 196. Fumbles have been an issue — Jones put the ball on the ground 17 times in his final two college seasons — and he’s been injury prone as well. Jones was still a projected day-two pick because his speed is so difficult to find at the running back position. He is also a homerun threat on returns.
5. Fresno State linebacker/defensive end Chris Carter: Carter was the 2010 WAC Defensive Player of the Year, and is another favorite of Cosell. In his final two seasons at Fresno, Carter notched 29.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, and six forced fumbles. Though he’s a bit of a “tweener” at 6-foot-1, 245, Carter is highly explosive and has experience at both defensive end and linebacker. Unless there’s some off-field issue we don’t know about, Carter needs to go early today.
6. Southern Illinois cornerback Korey Lindsey: Lindsey is a playmaking corner, and was among the most popular players on the pre-draft visit and workout circuit. Though he is just 5-foot-10, 181, Lindsey was a shutdown defensive back in the Missouri Valley Conference. He was a three-time first-team selection in the league, picking off 14 career passes. Opponents refused to throw at Lindsey as a senior, and he managed just one. Also a two-time first-team All American in the FCS, Lindsey is going to make someone happy in the fourth or fifth round.
7. Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich: Herzlich’s story is well known, so we won’t cover it too in-depth. But he showed incredible toughness, bouncing back from a bout with Ewing’s Sarcoma to play football in 2010. If not for his unfortunate situation in 2009, Herzlich might’ve been getting comparisons to Brian Urlacher. He was that sort of player before the cancer — a playmaker in coverage and banging, thumper in the box.
8. Iowa defensive lineman Christian Ballard: Ballard was a projected second-round pick, with some mocks even slotting him late in round one after stellar offseason workouts. But a failed drug test at the Combine and unimpressive production as a senior (five tackles for loss, three sacks) have left him available for day three. He’s a 3-4 “five technique” prospect at 6-foot-4 and 288 pounds.
Other notables: Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews, Appalachian State safety Mark LeGree, Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones, Texas defensive end Sam Acho, Florida safety Ahmad Black, Tennessee tight end Luke Stocker, Indiana receiver Tandon Doss, North Carolina linebacker Quan Sturdivant, Nebraska running back Roy Helu, TCU tackle/guard Marcus Cannon, Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams, Hawaii receiver Greg Salas, Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers, Georgia guard/tackle Clint Boling, New Mexico State cornerback Davon House, Utah cornerback Brandon Burton, Nevada tight end Virgil Green, Ohio State cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, Louisville running back Bilal Powell.