Top 10 Sleepers In The NFL Draft
This article is about players in the upcoming NFL draft who have the potential to explode in the NFL, but are currently seen as a little hope of even being considered worthy of a draft pick. The NFL is a hard industry to work in, there is little love unless you have good stats and measurable’s, however there are some quality players in the NFL draft and we will give you our top 10 examples of little known draftees.
1. T.J. Barnes – Georgia Tech – DT
Draft Prjection – 7th-UDFA
T.J. Barnes is a big bodied defensive tackle who can fill a gap across a defensive line. At 6-7 and 369lbs, Barnes is a big unit, similar to a young Albert Haynesworth. Barnes is not a 3 down lineman, but can be an effective rotational lineman.
Barnes did not have elite statistics coming out of college, but he was good at closing down running lanes with his big frame and often was able to swallow up two blockers to open up lanes for other defenders. Drawing so much attention means that Barnes can help a team that is small across their defensive line, teams like the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers come to mind.
Barnes does not get great feet movement going forward, but is great at the initial point of contact making him able to get past the first level quickly, his slowness sometime stops him from getting to his man but he can pressure a QB well.
2. Marcus Davis – Virginia Tech – WR
Draft Projection – 6th-UDFA
Marcus Davis is a big bodied target with good match speed. At 6-3 and 233lbs, Davis can be an elite receiver in the NFL. He had a lowest recorded 4.47 forty time and a high of 4.58, he is very much in the mold of a Kenny Britt type of receiver. Davis is strong for a receiver achieving 19 reps at the combine.
Davis is a player who can get physical and can be a solid blocker in the NFL. Davis is a late round expectation who comes with great physical intangibles. He has the height to get up and take the top off a defense, with a 39 inch vertical jump he has shown the athleticism required to be able to achieve this.
There are big question marks over his Davis’s work ethic and motivation to be the best at the next level. Once drafted Davis would be one of the better receivers to come from this draft class, forget your hyped receivers like Patterson of Tennessee and Austin of West Virginia, Davis is the name everyone should talk about, this kid will be a play maker.
3. Cody Davis – Texas Tech – FS
Draft Projection: 4th-5th round
Cody Davis is a big free safety who has some wheels. At a height of 6-2 and capable of running a 4.41 forty time, Davis will be fast enough to keep up with the games evolving offense’s. Davis ran the 40 in 4.42 and 4.41 seconds at the Texas Tech pro day. He had a 41 1/2-inch vertical and 10-foot-3 broad jump. His short shuttle time was 4.00 seconds and he had a 6.78-second three-cone drill. He had 15 lifts on the bench press.
Davis showed that he has what you look for in a hard hitting safety who is capable of making a play on the ball. He is rising up draftboards, but is currently only ranked as a possible 5th round selection. This kid is minimum 3rd round talent and any team lucky to pick him up beyond that is getting an absolute steal.
With 2012 stats that read 101 total tackles, 1 defensive touchdown, 3 interceptions and 6 pass defense’s Cody would be a top 10 pick if he was a player for a bigger program. Cody has everything you look for in a safety, he can play both sides, cover the play from side to side and has a good football IQ and recognizes plays quickly.
Davis plays at the ball with a bulldog tenacity and does not stop going until he can get his man, he has the ability to play physical man to man coverage and come up in the run game. Davis is a multi-purpose safety and will be a great addition to any NFL roster.
4. Joe Kruger – Utah – DE
Draft Projection: 5th-6th round
You can find Joe Kruger low on many draftboards, this shouldn’t be the case. This player is a high motor guy and at 6-6 and 269lbs, Kruger is a wrecking ball and can potentially have a stand out career depending on which system he is drafted into. Kruger will work best in a 4-3 system and a team like the Tennessee Titans or the Oakland Raiders could definitely use a player of Kruger’s skills.
His 2012 stats are not a true reflection of his abilities, he was under utilized and is an every down end. He has the arm length to get the initial push as a defensive end and is more than capable beating his man. Kruger shows good foot movement and timing off the snap. He is a player who can get into the back field, moving at a 40 time of a lowest recorded 4.72, Kruger can get to the QB as well.
Kruger has everything that you look for in a prototype defensive end, draft him late and give him a year to grow and he can become the next Jarred Allen type of book end. The former Utah Ute can surprise a lot of people and is not garnering enough attention. Watching the tape on Kruger you can not help but be impressed, he crushes running lanes and can take on two defenders with ease. His passing moves could be more refined as his swim moves looks more like he is drowning, but his bull rush is strong.
5. Cierre Wood – Notre Dame – RB
Draft Projection: 6th-7th round
Cierre Wood was a great ball mover for the Fighting Irish, he was averaging an eye popping 6.5 yards per carry in 2012 and has strong claims to go as high as the 4th round. Unfortunately this draft for tailbacks is the same as the quarterbacks, there isn’t a lot of love out there.
With the changing offensive systems in the NFL the tailback position is becoming less valuable to most teams, hard nosed football is a dying art, but the quick footed Wood could bring that back. He is a dynamic player who can do it all, he can catch, he can juke and most of all he can break tackles, this kid is elusive.
Wood is not a name that has been talked about a lot in this draft class, he declared for the draft and forewent his senior season, Wood could go to several teams and instantly improve their ground games, the Carolina Panthers and San Diego Chargers are two sides you would think of.
When it comes to carrying the ball Wood does so with flair, he was part of a two back system at Notre Dame and managed to put up decent numbers from a low number of carries, from 114 carries Wood amassed 742 yards with 4 touchdowns.
Wood is a tall back measuring in 6-1 and 215lbs, he has the ability to move producing a 40 time at its lowest of 4.46. He can be a solid starting NFL tailback at the next level.
6. Sanders Commings – Georgia – CB
Draft Projection: 6th-7th round
Sanders Commings is a big bodied corner who could slot in and be capable of sticking to the hybrid NFL tight end. At 6-2, 216lbs, Commings is a thoroughbred cornerback. Sanders has the ability to quickly read a play and make adjustments. He is a big physical corner who has speed posting a lowest forty time of 4.34.
In today’s modern NFL you need a corner who can be like a roaming safety to take care of the hybrid tight ends, Commings would be able to keep up with and read the movements of opposing receiving threats. With 3 interceptions, 51 total tackles and 2 pass defense’s, Commings can make the leap to the next level.
Commings does have a weak first step, but he does have good recovery speed, against a speed receiver like Mike Wallace he wouldn’t be able to catch him. Commings makes up for this in his physical style, jamming the receiver early, his 23 reps at his pro day of 225lbs showed he is strong for a corner and can give as good as he gets from opposing receivers.
Sanders can take his game to the next level and be a hard hitting corner/hybrid safety and will be an asset to which ever team takes the well rewarded risk of drafting him. Easily has the talent of a second round draft pick but is not as heavily liked as other corners.
7. Herman Lathers – Tennessee – OLB
Draft Projection – 5th-6th round
Herman Lathers is a prototype kind of linebacker, he will need a year to develop but has the potential to turn into the next London Fletcher. A hard hitter who can be a blitzing lineman hitting his gaps, Lathers can provide any team willing to give him the chance to sit for a season a complete linebacker.
The Vol produced 61 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception and 2 pass defense’s during his 2012 campaign. Lathers has the rare ability to anticipate a players movements before they make them, he is able to get himself into a good position time and time again. He would work better as a weak side linebacker in a 4-3 defense, Oakland again could be a good fit for this player, however Oakland do not have time to sit on player’s.
Lathers will be a good contributor on special teams and has the work ethic to grow in the NFL. With Lathers patience will get you your reward.
8. Mike Catapano – Princeton – DE
Draft Projection – 7th-UDFA
Mike Catapano was the Ivy League defensive player of the year in 2012 and has solid measurable’s to be an NFL pro at the next level. Catapano is 6-4 and 271lbs defensive end that is capable of running a 4.75 forty time. Catapano led the Ivy League with 12 sacks, 15.5 tackles for a loss, 41 tackles, and he had five games with at least two tackles for loss, Catapnao also average 1.5 sacks per game over his collegiate career.
Catapano is not only a top athlete but he is also a student of the game with a very high football IQ capable of making the right pre-snap reads to set up the defense to make the play. A natural born leader who can come to the NFL as a day one starter and is a deep, deep sleeper in this upcoming NFL draft.
The Princeton Tiger won the Bushnell cup with his 2012 performance and has impressed several scouts in interviews. Catapano is a defensive end to look out for in this draft, his stock could sky-rocket as we get closer to draft day.
9. Mychal Rivera – Tennessee – TE
Draft Projection: 7th-UDFA
Mychal Rivera was the tight end for an offense that had two top 10 wideouts in this draft. Playing behind Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter means you wont see the ball thrown your way too often, Rivera made the most of his opportunities.
Rivera had 36 receptions for 562 yards and 5 touchdowns that’s a staggering 15.6 yards per catch, making Rivera a chain mover. Playing on an offense that had more heads than a Hydra made things difficult for Rivera, considering the inconsistent QB play from Tyler Bray and other premium targets surrounding him, Rivera would have had better numbers.
At 6-3 and 244lbs, Rivera is a good blocking tight end as well, people have knocked his blocking ability but he has great feet to get off the edge in the run game and can help seal the edge to create a pocket. Rivera is a gem in this draft and there has not been any hype or media for a player who should be hyped. Rivera will be one of the best kept secrets of this draft.
Inconsistent QB play hurt Rivera’s stock but his impressive yards per catch average should be enough to garner a draft choice, if Taylor Thompson of SMU could pull it off last draft then it shouldn’t be an issue for Rivera.
10. Keith Pough – Howard – ILB
Draft Projection: 6th-7th round
Keith Pough was an under the radar type of draft prospect, up until he had a solid combine. He has big questions over his game speed, scouts were questioning his consistent 4.8 forty times and were hoping better from him at the combine, unfortunately he put up a 4.87 forty time and only helped his stock in the field drills.
Pough recorded 72 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks, while breaking up 4 passes. He finished up his career as the FCS all time record leader for tackles for loss. Pough is a hard nosed ILB and will put his body on the line to make the play. Pough is an athletic chase linebacker with speed to close on quarterbacks in the pocket and running backs from the backside. Pough is a good wrap up tackler and can be an elite tackler at the next level.
Pough has a lean build for an ILB at 239lbs and 6-2, Pough can play at a high motor intensity and is an every down ILB. His acceleration and speed concerns scouts raised are silenced by his ability to get in the backfield, his closing speed is the best of any ILB in the draft.
There we have it folks, after months of tape watching, the Fat Beard Sports Evaluation Center (F.T.E.C) has found their top 10 sleepers of the NFL draft. The unknown’s or non-hyped players have been un-earthed. We are particularly high on Marcus Davis and Joe Kruger who have both featured in many articles found here on Fat Beard Sports.