Saquon Barkley and Denzel Ward will be stars in the NFL.

That’s not exactly a bold prediction, is it?

OK, that’s fair enough. What is a bold prediction is naming a handful of guys who will get picked on Day 3 or be undrafted and still make a Pro Bowl. Five B1G players have done that since 2012 (Joe Schobert, Micah Hyde, Jordan Howard, Kirk Cousins, Mike Daniels)

With the NFL draft just a week and a half away, let’s try and find those B1G prospects for 2018:

1. Ian Thomas, Indiana TE

I wasn’t really crazy about the tight end usage at Indiana during the Kevin Wilson era, at least in the passing game (Ted Bolser was really the only tight end who ever got involved in the passing game). How fitting that once Wilson left, Thomas got a chance to flash that potential. He would’ve put up bigger numbers than his 376 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns if not for a midseason injury.

If you don’t know Thomas’ story, it’s pretty remarkable. He lost both of parents within a year when he was 9 and was raised by his older siblings. He transferred to Indiana in 2016 after bursting on to the scene as one of the top JUCO tight ends in 2015.

But make no mistake, Thomas is more than just a feel-good story. He makes highlight-reel catches downfield and he moves extremely well at 6-4, 258 pounds (via Sky Designs):

Thomas had a solid performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, but I still don’t expect to come off the board on the second day considering he basically had just one season as a contributor at the FBS level.

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But if I’m a general manager looking to snag a diamond in the rough tight end on the third day, Thomas would be my guy.

2. Leon Jacobs, Wisconsin EDGE

I’m always curious what happens when a guy who played a bunch of different positions finally gets to focus on doing one thing. That’s why I think Jacobs has some big-time potential. His back-and-forth career between fullback and linebacker made him a valuable piece at Wisconsin, but I want to see what Jacobs becomes as just an edge-rusher.

When he finally got his shot to emerge at outside linebacker, Jacobs made the most of it. He had 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks for a Wisconsin defense that was lights out in 2017.

Physically, he passes all the tests. At 6-3, 230 pounds, he ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash after throwing up 26 bench press reps at the combine. That should quiet any concerns that Jacobs was just a “system guy” at Wisconsin.

He could thrive in the right 3-4 system, especially if there’s a path for him to see some immediate playing time.

3. Sean Welsh, Iowa OL

There are certain guys who just succeed wherever they go, and you bet on them to overcome whatever shortcomings they could have at the next level. Welsh is one of those guys.

He’s an undersized Iowa offensive lineman (that seems rare) who didn’t blow anyone away at the combine, and he isn’t in the same class as some of the elite offensive linemen in this class. But why can’t Welsh be the next stud Iowa offensive lineman in the NFL? He’s a notoriously hard worker, which he showed by his willingness to play all over for the Hawkeyes based on need.

Welsh, who earned first-team All-B1G honors doesn’t strike me as the guy who is going to show up to camp and surprise everyone by earning a starting role immediately. Maybe an injury puts him in that spot, or maybe he just becomes more and more valuable as a run blocker that a team has no choice but to start him.

I’m not saying I expect Welsh to be the next Marshal Yanda, but I do expect him to provide a ton of value that far exceeds his Day-3 projection.

Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

4. Jermaine Carter Jr., Maryland LB

Perhaps the B1G’s biggest combine snub was Carter, who basically tackled everything in sight the last three years. Maybe the fact that he played at Maryland and not Michigan or Ohio State led to that. I don’t know.

What I do know is that at 6-0, 228 pounds, that dude was everywhere. I get that Carter isn’t 240 pounds like you’d hope inside linebackers are, but hasn’t he been shedding blockers his entire career? You don’t lead your team in tackles three straight years without an ability to make plays in the open field.

Still, there’s a good chance that Carter won’t hear his name called next week. When you don’t get a combine invite and don’t play for a particularly good team, that’s what the odds suggest. In all likelihood, Carter will have to scrap and claw to make a roster, much like he did after he got to Maryland when he wasn’t even one of the nation’s top 100 outside linebackers in the 2013 class.

Carter is going to make his new NFL team extremely happy when they turn to him after a rash of midseason injuries and they realize that he’s just as good as the starter.

5. De’Mornay Pierson-El, Nebraska KR

Again, another non-combine guy who has an uphill climb just to get drafted. Maybe it’s years of putting Pierson-El on my annual list of bounce-back candidates that brought me to this point. I’m saying that Pierson-El will bounce back from his non-combine invite and have an emergence in the NFL.

No, not as a receiver. As a return specialist.

What if Pierson-El doesn’t have to spend his time rehabbing another foot/leg injury or working on his route-running skills? Pierson-El can just return punts and kicks and immediately become a star doing what he does best.

Perhaps I’m convinced that it’s still 2014 and I can’t erase how good Pierson-El was as a true freshman. In case you forgot, he was electric. He seemed like a safe bet to become one of college football’s top special teams weapons for years to come. In my opinion, injuries and the pursuit of playing receiver prevented that from happening.

Call me crazy, but I’ll bet on Pierson-El one more time in the NFL.