(SportsNetwork.com) - Nearly everyone understands the road to steady and consistent success in the NFL runs through the draft.
And hitting on the majority of your first-round picks is certainly a prerequisite to prosperity in the league but the really good organizations set themselves apart during Day 3 of the process when all the big names are off the board and Rich Eisen has to occasionally fumble through his homework while announcing a name, secretly hoping Mike Mayock jumps in with a nugget of information.
At this point everyone understands what players like Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Leonard Williams or Amari Cooper bring to the table so it's time to take a look at some of those lesser-known draft prospects who could make an impact down the road.
Here's some of The Sports Network's best potential Day 3 options:
Quarterback: Blake Sims, Alabama - In a year where the talent at the QB position is shaky, someone should take notice of a passer like Sims, who was a four-star recruit at the high-school level. Georgia wanted to make Sims a defensive back while Michigan earmarked him as a quarterback. Nick Saban eventually won out by giving Sims the opportunity to come in as an athlete while deciding on a future position.
After redshirting as a freshman with the Crimson Tide, Sims first lined up at running back before becoming a hybrid as a runner as well as the backup to A.J. McCarron. He then beat out Florida State transfer Jake Coker for the starting quarterback job in 2014 and excelled in the toughest conference in all of college football, earning Second Team All-SEC honors after completing a solid 64.5 percent of his passes for 3,487 yards and accounting for 35 touchdowns (28 passing, seven rushing).
At just 5-foot-11 Sims is obviously not the prototype of what the NFL wants at the QB position but he's shown some Russell Wilson-like qualities, including a quick release, enough arm strength to get the football downfield and the mobility to move the pocket and extend plays.
"I think my footwork is going to be a big thing for me to be great," Sims said when discussing his potential at the pro level. "Also, I can always get better with film work and just reading the defenses. I think it will be a great transition. I think have a great opportunity to show the NFL what I'm capable of doing, and whoever decides to draft me to their team, I think they'll make a great pick."
Running Back: Jeremy Langford, Michigan State - Langford doesn't have the build you look for when projecting NFL RBs but he's a natural with the ball in his hands, flashing the ability to read and understand his blocks, along with the vision to get north-south very quickly.
He's also got solid hands and the ability to catch the football out of the backfield. A year on the practice squad with a good strength coach implementing a solid plan could pan out for Langford, especially if he can keep his 4.42 speed while adding muscle mass.
"I've been the underdog my whole career," Langford said. "I think my versatility is huge in the NFL, (the ability) to be a three-down back. I feel I can run the ball between the tackles and get the short yards."
Wide Receiver: Kenny Bell, Nebraska - This draft is loaded with legitimate WR prospects and you could argue as many as 20 could earn at least a third-round grade. When mining for late-round value, it's important to find a player who can help in multiple areas.
Bell, the son of former Broncos WR Ken Bell and the Cornhuskers' all-time leading receiver, is very lean with little functional football strength so he can get bullied at the line of scrimmage with press coverage. He does, however, have a high football IQ, very quick feet and the ability to stick his foot in the ground and go. As a fourth of fifth option, running out of stacked formations, Bell could serve as a vertical threat. He's also a solid blocker despite his slight frame and should be a solid specials teams coverage option.
"You can rely on me to make big plays when they need to be made and I consistently catch the ball, do my assignments, and I'm consistently reliable both on and off the field," Bell said when talking about his strengths. "In this day and age I think it's very, very important for guys to be just as reliable off the field as on the field."
Tight End: E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State - At 6-foot-2 and about 260 pounds Bibbs doesn't have the height or length that's en vogue now in the NFL but he does have the frame to get bigger and stronger in the ensuing years, along with solid body control and the innate ability to adjust to the football while it's in the air.
The Chicago native also has some very large hands which is always a desirable trait when you are talking about people who have to catch the football for a living. If Bibbs can become a sharper route runner, he projects to be a reserve tight end at the next level.
Offensive Line: Andrew Donnal, Iowa - Brandon Scherff, a sure-fire, first- round pick, is the Iowa offensive lineman who gets most of the attention but his bookend in the Hawkeye State, Andrew Donnal, is also going to be making a living by playing on Sundays.
Donnal spent the 2014 season playing right tackle while Scherff locked down the left side in Iowa City. While nowhere near the prospect Scherff is, Donnal shapes up as a versatile option who could play RT in the NFL or move inside to guard. At 6-6, he's got the prototypical frame and adequate, if unspectacular athleticism. Donnal's biggest strengths, however, are his football IQ and competitiveness. A player who rarely makes a mental mistake, the Ohio native is very tenacious and plays through the whistle.
Scherff and Donnal both arrived at Iowa as part of the 2010 recruiting class and both will now be leaving for the NFL.
"Coach (Kirk) Ferentz considers Iowa's program a developmental program, and so a lot of the time Iowa doesn't get the big four or five star recruits. But what they do a really good job of is developing players and making sure they're fundamentally sound," Donnal said. "(We are) just solid technicians and students of the game."
"I'm a versatile player and I think that's one of my strengths is that I can do both sides, left, right and guard, tackle, do kinda whatever," he continued. "So I'm trying to make that pretty clear I'm willing to do whatever."
Edge Defender: Tony Washington, Oregon - Washington is the kind of prospect who plays faster than the stopwatch indicates. Normally an edge defender who runs a tick under a 5.0 would be written off but Washington lined up in the same role super-athlete Dion Jordan did for the Ducks, rushing the passer on one play, lining up over the slot on another or putting his hand on the ground in other instances.
At 6-3 and 247 pounds Washington could fit in at defensive end or outside linebacker but he needs to add a little bulk and strength to be an every down defender. That said, he's worth a flyer later in the draft because he looks like a natural finisher off the edge.
"I'm a hard worker. That's the No. 1 thing," Washington said. "I'm going to get into the organization, I'm going to learn the playbook, I can play everywhere they want me to play, try to make an impact on special teams. At Oregon, we kind of specialized in that, so I can play all over on special teams if they give me an opportunity."
Linebacker: Damien Wilson, Minnesota - Wilson wasn't heavily recruited out of high school in Mississippi and went the FCS route at first, developing into a solid pass rusher at Alcorn State before heading to community college where he was the JUCO National Defensive Player of the Year at Jones County Community College.
By his junior year Wilson transferred to Minnesota, where he hit the ground running as a thumper inside. As a senior with the Golden Gophers, Wilson led the team with 119 tackles and was Second Team All-Big Ten.
Wilson is an active player who understands his role in the defense and has an NFL-level ability to key and diagnose. He has had some weight issues at times but if he keeps that under control, Wilson could develop into a two-down, downhill thumper.
"I'll be more comfortable in a 4-3 but I'm pretty sure I can do a 3-4," Wilson said. "I was talking to some guys who were in a 3-4 and it's really not too much difference in between them. Defense is defense, get the ball on the ground."
Cornerback: Cody Riggs, Notre Dame - A big-time recruit out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Riggs committed to Florida over Notre Dame and had a solid career for the Gators before making the move to South Bend as a graduate transfer. He started 11 games for the Irish in 2014 and proved he had NFL potential, flashing above-average speed, along with solid short-area quickness and top notch footwork.
Riggs is also very versatile, playing both CB and safety in college, although his technique in coverage still needs work, perhaps a nod to the fact he played under four different defensive coordinators. Sound and patient coaching could make a big difference at the next level and Riggs has everything you need to eventually excel as a nickel back.
Safety: Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern - There isn't going to be a ton of safety help in this draft so teams will be willing to roll the dice on prospects that flash a trait or two. Campbell, a Philadelphia native, was very productive at Northwestern and looks like a solid in-the-box option who enjoys playing downhill and throwing his body around.
As you might expect from a Wildcats player, Campbell is very intelligent and is regarded as a high-character pick, nothing to sneeze at in today's NFL environment. If he can at least hold down the fort in coverage, Campbell has a chance to spend quite a few years in this league.
"At Northwestern, we played right and left safety, so I could be the strong safety position or the free safety position," Campbell said. "I feel like I'm pretty rangy as a free safety, and as a strong safety, I feel like I embrace the physicality of the strong safety position well."