So many players, every single year seem to fly under the radar around draft time. It is however understandable seeing as how many player there are to cover and analyze in great depth. So times so much so that it makes me feel bad for them considering how much they get picked. Scouts want o know how fast they run, how fast they take a test, sexual preference, opinions on just about anything, how high they jump and oh my god player “A” has an eighth of an inch bigger hand than player “B”. It’s just almost too much. This year is pretty great draft class. Since there are a number of positions that are loaded with talent it was inevitable a few get left off the hype train. Let our very own Kennan Allen be an example of that. Allen was a 3rd round pick who was labeled as too slow for an NFL receiver. I mean come on!?!? Last year I picked Ryan Switzer to be my hidden gem and while the jury is still out on him because he had hardly any offensive playing time. Although he did look every bit of it in the kick return game. I had also picked David Johnson and Jay Ajayi in previous years. This year I’m going out on a limb and picking four guy’s. Two of them are not exactly sleeper’s just under hyped, while the other two are more of what would be considered actual sleepers.
To start off with I’m picking a guy who will no doubt be a first round selection and possibly even top 20. That guy is Leighton Vanderesch. While is no sleeper the fact remains that the attention, or lack thereof on this guy is baffling. Supposedly the consulting draft committee told Vanderesch to stay in school for another year. If he had he would be top 10 talent. The lack of hype is due to the fact that he was only a starter for one year. That and the linebacker ranked ahead of him are monsters in their own rite. At 6’4 256lbs this guy has the prototypical size for a middle linebacker. Not only that the athleticism is great for a guy of his size. With a 40” vertical and 4.6 40 yard dash he has the makings of the next Brian Urlacher and or Luke Kuechly.
Jesse Bates of Wake Forrest would be next on the list, and even though he is not as obvious a name to be noticed as Vanderesch but his stock has been rising quit a bit. Scouts have been saying they would like him to put on a little more weight; however he plays bigger than he is. Tape shows he is more than a willing hitter and actually seems to search for contact. He was one of the top performers in the agility drills such as the shuttle drill and 3 cone drills. He seems to be the type of safety that would fit very well in Bradley’s single high safety schemes. While all the attention is being garnered by the safeties from Alabama, James from Florida State, and even Reid from Stanford, I believe Bates will land in the mid second to early 3rd round.
Now to start the guys who are actual sleepers rather than just under hyped. The guy who made a name for himself during the senior bowl, Kyle Lauletta, I have grown quit found of. Not only did he burst onto the scene and win senior bowl MVP but also displayed the ability to throw touch passes along with the ability to throw into tight windows. While he isn’t what you would consider a superb athlete, he is still fairly mobile. He had a 4.8 40 yard dash and a 114” broad jump. While I would never trust him to start right off the bat, I can see him being a 2-3 year project that develops into a star. The Garoppolo , Rodgers treatment sort of speak.
A guy who is more of a deep sleeper is Memphis linebacker Gerard Avery. First team American Athletic Conference honors. He is a great fit as a “Will” backer in the NFL. His final year in Memphis he had 22 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sack’s. Avery was used as a Blitzer quite a bit as his number point to. He was also asked to cover the slot a number of times. He will translate well to Zone coverage’s in the flats. Especially watching a running back out of the back field. He is a well-built physical type of player that presents great value in say the fourth round maybe late 3rd.