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5 Underrated NFL Rookies to Watch

One of the best safeties in the league according to Pro Football Focus. — by Stephen Lee/USA Today
One of the best safeties in the league according to Pro Football Focus. — by Stephen Lee/USA Today

Tarvarius Moore, S, San Francisco 49ers

After being taken in the third round, 95th overall, Moore comes into the league relatively unknown. After starring at Southern Miss, he lasted until the third round despite being one of the best cover safeties in the draft. That could come back to bite some of the teams in the butt, and could be a blessing for the 49ers.

Moore is a smooth cover safety that has the skills to cover all over the field. He could be a center fielder in Cover 1 or Cover 3. He could also man up in the slot, or on tight ends and running backs. This will be huge for the 49ers defense as they face the likes of Todd Gurley, David Johnson, and Rashaad Penny twice a year.

Despite only starting for two seasons for Southern Miss, Moore looks ready to shut down players in the passing game. He also showed that he isn't afraid to come up and lay the lumber on a ball carrier with his 87 tackles as a Senior.

With the loss of Eric Reid to free agency, this defense was hurting for a talented safety that can help the young corners on this team. With his speed and quickness, Moore has the potential to develop into a special safety on the terms of an Earl Thomas or Eric Berry. They got lucky that Moore fell to them here.

Ian Thomas is ready to take the league by storm.
Ian Thomas is ready to take the league by storm.

Ian Thomas, TE, Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have refused to realize that Greg Olsen is aging in past drafts, but seem to have acknowledged that fact with the selection of Ian Thomas in the fourth round. Thomas comes into the league with very little production at Indiana, but very high potential. He has the speed and hands to be dangerous in the NFL, but lacks the production to prove that he belongs in the NFL.

But the Panthers offer him one of the best mentors he could ask for in Greg Olson. Thomas has a very similar game to Olson, as he flashes solid speed to get open and break out big gains. He also has a similar red zone ability to Olson, as evidenced by his 5 touchdowns as a Senior.

Thomas was mainly used as a red zone threat at Indiana, but could be an every down tight end that eats up yards with each target. He needs to add some more muscle to be able to hold up in the running game, but currently has the look and feel of a Zach Ertz when he plays. Look for Thomas to explode onto the scene as a second tight end in two tight end sets. He will flash some big plays for the Panthers this year.

White was a 2nd round talent that lasted till the 4th round. — by NFL.com
White was a 2nd round talent that lasted till the 4th round. — by NFL.com

Kyzir White, S, Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers managed to steal two safeties in this year's draft that have Pro Bowl talent. The Bolts already had two solid afeties in Jahleel Addae and Tre Boston. But now they have possibly better safeties in Derwin James and White.

White was seen as a clear second day player to most mock drafts. But he lasted all the way until the Charger's 4th round pick. That will prove to be a mistake if White can live up to his talent. White should be able to come into the NFL and immediately fit into a rotation with Addae at strong safety for the Chargers.

His instincts and glass-eater mentality are what will set him apart early on, as he has a knack for finding the ball and brings the thunder when supporting the run. He could find more time on the field as a hybrid linebacker/safety that covers tight ends. that will help bring the most out of what he has to offer.

White may not be the best athlete in this draft, but is a born leader that can direct this defense much in the same way that Eric Weddle used to. His leadership and work ethic will make him a coach favorite, and he will stand out early with big hits and coverage that will shut down the tight ends he faces.

Settle could be the steal of the draft in round 5. — by Reddit
Settle could be the steal of the draft in round 5. — by Reddit

Tim Settle, DL, Virginia Tech

The Redskins are quickly building one of the scariest defensive lines in the NFL. After taking Da'Ron Payne in the first round, the grabbed a massive steal in Settle in the fifth round.

Settle should be able to start at nose tackle in the Redskins' 3-4 base set. But he is the rare nose tackle that has the athleticism to play anywhere along the defensive line. This will allow him to be a three down defensive lineman.

Settle shows unique explosion in his tape that allows him to destroy plays in the backfield. He has the quick first snap that will allow him to shoot gaps and create pressure in the backfield. As a rookie, Settle should wrack up some solid stats as he moves around the line. His unique blend of strength, size, and quickness will allow him to put linemen on skates and will make sure that fans notice him. Look for him to make to set up camp in NFL backfields this season.

Cain is yet another talented Clemson reciver that will leave his mark on the NFL. — by Pro Football Focus College
Cain is yet another talented Clemson reciver that will leave his mark on the NFL. — by Pro Football Focus College

Deon Cain, WR, Indianapolis Colts

The Colts struck gold in the sixth round with their selection of Cain. The NFL is packed with talented receivers from Clemson, and Cain is going to join them as one of the better ones. Cain is still a bit raw, when it comes to route running (big surprise for a kid from Clemson). But he has excellent hands and the athletic ability to easily separate from corners.

With Donte Moncrief leaving in the offseason, the Colts needed to find a receiver to replace him. Cain can more than fill that role. He is built very similar to Moncrief and has a lot of the same qualities. He has solid speed that allows him to take the top off the defense. He has solid hands that will allow him to haul in passes from Andrew Luck or Jacoby Brissett.

Cain is a three year starter that put up solid numbers in a packed Clemson offense. After averaging 760 yards each of the past two seasons, and hauling in 15 touchdowns over that time, he seems ready to take the NFL by storm. Cain should come in and immediately slide in as the WR2 and begin to prove himself in the AFC South. He has the speed and hands to terrorize corners and should have his share of big plays that make their way onto ESPN. If he lives up to his talent, this may be the best value pick of the draft.