- Mel Kiper Jr., Football analyst
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Last year, one of the incredible stories of the draft was how much production we saw from the fifth round. Take a look -- Round 5 was pretty remarkable when you put it in context. Karl Klug and Pernell McPhee combined for 13.0 sacks as interior linemen. T.J. Yates started and won a playoff game. Denarius Moore had some huge days for Oakland, and Richard Sherman played cornerback at a Pro Bowl level for a solid stretch of the season in Seattle.
Every single one of these guys had obvious holes on draft day. That's the blunt assessment you'll hear from teams drafting in Rounds 4-7. There's plenty of talent, but whether it's health, size, lack of speed or glaring weaknesses in a technical aspect of the game, teams are hoping it pans out, but rarely expecting major impact.
Still, the odds tell us we'll find plenty from this range. So let's take a look at some guys who could play key roles, even as rookies. Remember, there's a lot of projection here, as not one of these guys is currently penciled in to start.
WR Joe Adams, Panthers
The Panthers got some production out of bigger wideouts Legedu Naanee and Brandon LaFell last year (a combined 80 catches), but the search for a slot-type with return skills could lead to Adams. The Armanti Edwards experiment hasn't begun. Adams is likely to get early reps as the punt returner, and his sub-4.5 speed could be used in the passing game.
Mel Kiper breaks down the players picked in Rounds 4-7 who could have an early impact, including Lamar Miller, Danny Coale and Alameda Ta'amu.