Every year the NFL Draft is full of sleeper picks. Think back to guys like Tom Brady and Marques Colston. A sleeper pick doesn’t have to be a guy drafted in the 6th or 7th round that comes out and produces, though. It could be a guy who people have slept on because of their size, speed, or just their mentality. Every player has a chance to take a sub-par college career and then be a great NFL player. I mean, look at Willie Parker. He was an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina and then became a great back for the Steelers while he was there. You also have draft busts. I don’t have to tell Chargers fans that (Ryan Leaf). The NFL Draft is all about finding quality players and taking risks. Let’s look at some of these types of guys in this year’s NFL Draft.
1. Stedman Bailey, WR, WVU
Bailey is one of those guys that will get knocked for his size but I’m going to call it right now: He’ll be the steal of the draft. He plays physical and has drawn comparisons to Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers. He’s only 5’10″ and 188 pounds. Last season he caught 114 passes for 1,622 yards and an NCAA-leading 25 touchdowns. He has strong hands, is disciplined, and is a stand-up guy.
2. Stefphon Jefferson, RB, Nevada
At 5’10″ 213 pounds, Jefferson is great size for an NFL back. He rushed for 1,883 yards and 24 touchdowns his junior year at Nevada before declaring early for the draft. He also averaged 5.0 yards per carry last season. He has great patience and waits for the play to develop and then hits the hole hard. He doesn’t have great speed, but would be a great compliment type back.
3. Matt Scott, QB, Arizona
Scott had an under-the-radar type of senior season. He’s the type of guy you draft later, sit behind your starter and let him learn and soak up everything he can, then unleash him. He threw for 3,620 yards and 27 touchdowns. He also ran for 632 yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s a dual threat type of guy and with the way offenses are changing in the NFL, he’d be a good fit in a couple of years.
4. Steve Greer, ILB, Virginia
Greer is another one of those guys who gets knocked for his size. At 6’2″ 230, he might be asked to move to outside linebacker. At Virginia, he recorded 122 tackles, 7.5 for loss, 2.0 sacks, and 4.0 broken up passes. He plays with a high motor and finds the ball quick and attacks. He reminds me a little of Jon Beason, a guy who can play any linebacker spot.
5. Trey Wilson, CB, Vanderbilt
Wilson is projected to be a 6-7th round pick but he’s the definition of sleeper. He tallied 36 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble and 8 passes broken up in 2012. He also had a solid East-West Shrine game to get him noticed by scouts. He won’t be that guy to come in and start at the #1 spot, but he can definitely come in and play tough every snap.
This year’s draft could be full of lots of sleepers or lots of busts. That’s the fun of the draft, no one can predict how these guys will play out their careers in the NFL. Just remember, John Stallworth, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Terrell Davis and Roger Staubach all went after the 6th round.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @Welch1048.