Picking NFL draft steals: 10 underrated players who could turn into gems

    –Full-time analyst for Pro Football Focus
    –Contributor to ESPN Insider’s NFL coverage

Not every late-round pick in the NFL draft is created equal. In fact, many late-rounders have yet to perform at a high level even in college and are purely athletic players with upside. Sometimes, though, you’ll see very productive college players with more than enough tools to succeed at the NFL level fall in the draft for one reason or another.

We identified 10 such prospects in the 2020 NFL draft whose Pro Football Focus grades and college stats suggest they will end up being steals for the lucky — and smart — teams that drafted them.

Pick 67. Detroit Lions: Julian Okwara, Edge, Notre Dame

PFF’s draft rank: 28

A broken leg toward the end of last season torpedoed any sort of first-round hype, but it’s doubtful he’d have slipped out of the top 50 picks had he turned up to the scouting combine at 100 percent. Pass-rushers like Okwara usually get overdrafted, not underdrafted. And he is one of the most explosive edge rushers in the entire draft class.

At only 252 pounds, Okwara has bull-rush pressures on tape against 350-pound Georgia tackle Isaiah Wilson and 370-pound Louisville behemoth Mekhi Becton — both of whom were first-rounders. Okwara was sixth in the country with 61 pressures as a junior and followed it up with a 90.4 pass-rushing grade last season. The Lions get an edge rusher who is not only productive but also has the perfect versatility for their scheme.

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