Sleeper Prospects

By | March 31, 2016

As you likely know by now from reading my articles on this site, I am wary of cliche’ titles and overused classifications. But we try to comply with the needs and wishes of our readership, bless your hearts. So below you will find a list, of a Baker’s Dozen (my usual preference) of prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft who are sleepers, or under the radar, or whatever. Basically they are players who I think more highly of than seemingly most Draftniks do. In some cases I think some talent evaluators are sand-bagging on their opinion of these players, in others instances it may purely be my personal preference in players. Whatever the case may be, I just wanted to bring them to your attention for study and consideration for your Prospect lists.
As I often do, I am listing them alphabetically for your perusal, not ranking them per se.

A late add to the Senior Bowl rosters who looked like he belonged from the minute he hit the practice fields. He has decent speed, but even better quickness. Could sneak into the later rounds as a slot guy and Return Specialist. Should clearly help the bottom of someone’s roster.

A full sized TE, and a productive player at the lower level of competition. He has good hands and can get open across the middle of the field. Blocks alright and could get better. Showed well at the NFLPA Game. THen tested well overall at the Combine. In a weak TE group he might get drafted late.

Another solid OL prospect from the MAC who is versed in run and pass blocking. Was invited to the Shrine venue and looked solid all week. Caught attention on game day with blocking 30 yards downfield on a sweep play. Like many MAC OL, he has had to learn both pass pro and run blocking. He can handle all 3 Interior OL spots, which will have even more appeal in the NFL. Not flashy, but solid.

I am always a bit skeptical of Pro Day numbers, but word is he was surprisingly fast and we may be looking at a solid player who played for a losing program. He has very nice size if his reported speed is legit. He was at NFLPA Game and looked good, though not dominant. He could be getting more team visits than we might have thought a month or two ago.

No it’s not another comeback attempt by His Airness, but a nice looking athlete with some good small school game tape. JORDAN was at the Shrine venue and looked like he belonged in the midst of a very crowded secondary group. He has nice size and could be considered for duty at S.Could help on Special Teams right away IMO.

If you go back to my Fall, Who Caught MY Eye series you will find LATHAN thumb-nailed. And I still do not understand his seeming lack of attention from personnel people. He plays smart and alert ball and has the size and length to impact a game. I still believe he would make a nice rotational DE in a 3-4 base scheme.

Another big guy from a small school, who went to the NFLPA week and caught attention with his strength and a touch of quickness for his size. He did a solid job controlling the center of the line of scrimmage in work at the NFLPA venue.

Everyone seems to have spent much of last fall watching OAKMAN/BILLINGS on the Baylor DL, but it was PALMER who got my attention almost every time I watched the Bear’s D. He looked clearly athletic enough to move to OLB in a 3-4 pro scheme and provide coverage a well as pass rush off the edge. I cannot believe we didn’t see him at one of the 3 main Star Games.

Another guy who relies on elite quickness and field vision to escape tacklers and make big plays for his team. He finally won a WR job as a senior and played effectively. He’s small but not tiny. IF he doesn’t get drafted late I would expect his agent to get multiple calls to sign on as URFA.

Another nice looking athlete, who earned some attention for himself at the NFLPA Game and then turned in some nice numbers at his school’s Pro Day. I’m not sure he’s still a sleeper based on the number of times I have read his name in the past month or so. Athletic, instinctive prospects on the Corner don’t get ignored.

RYAN SMITH/CB/NC CENTRAL 5’11/199 4.47/40
Not a possessor of elite speed, but I can guarantee you he’s not a sleeper in most NFL Personnel departments right now. He got an invite to the Combine and the most pleasant surprise was he didn’t weigh 175 lbs. as many thought he would. He had a solid career for Central and and should get drafted late.

The former Oklahoma RB switched positions a couple years ago and is still unpolished in his coverage work, but he hits hard and his 4.37/40 was Top 10 at the Combine. He may be confined to Special Teams work for a couple of years, but think about SAM SHIELDS who switched positions late in college and worked out as an URFA for THE PACK.

WENDALL WILLIAMS/WR/RS/CUMBERLAND 5’9/185 4.22/40 (estimate)
This guy’s name exploded when he rocked a Regional Combine with a hand-held 40-time listed as low as 4.19 seconds. He’s from a small school, and is a tiny package, but… He clearly has exceptional speed and quickness ala J.J. NELSON, who the Cardinals found some uses for last year. I hope he has a frequent flyer account with an airline, for all the visits he may be making right now. The NFL does not ignore pure speed and clearly this young man has that.

Not proclaiming anyone above will cause you to change your Top 100 lists, but you might want to check these guys out a bit if you’re a devoted Draftnik, or your favorite team lives and dies with the Draft Process. I’d be glad to have the 13 names above signed to my team’s roster on Draft Sunday.