2017 NFL Draft sleepers and under-the-radar players
There is consensus for standouts and first-round selections of the 2017 NFL Draft, which begins April 27. However, there are hidden gems that can be uncovered on Day 2 and Day 3 that can be serviceable players.
Dak Prescott and Malcolm Mitchell went from under-the-radar 2016 fourth-round picks to high-impact players on their respective NFL teams. Prescott, who played at Mississippi State, was the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He passed for 3,667 yards and had 28 touchdowns while guiding the Cowboys to the NFC East championship.
Mitchell, a wide receiver from Georgia, made the PFWA All-Rookie Team on the strength of 32 receptions, 401 yards and 4 touchdowns. He helped the New England Patriots rally past the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl 51.
The 2017 NFL Draft is bound to have a few players that outperform their expectations. Here are prospects that SEC Country believes will be pleasant surprises.
2017 NFL Draft sleeper: Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M WR
Reynolds wasn’t the hyped recruit that Ricky Seals-Jones or Speedy Noil were. And even though he never had stable quarterback play at Texas A&M, he always put up numbers with the Aggies. In his final year in College Station he snared 12 touchdown catches.
He didn’t test super well at the NFL combine, but he was never going to. He’s someone like Mitchell, who could help a team as a rookie despite being a later-round rookie. And when you can make plays like this against Alabama, you’ve got a spot in the NFL.
Wow. What a catch by Josh Reynolds! Don't go anywhere, @AggieFootball is right back in this thing. https://t.co/vsG0vQG7uw
— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) October 22, 2016
2017 NFL Draft sleeper: Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama DL
It’s easy to get overshadowed on the Alabama defense, but Tomlinson was a key cog in the Alabama defense last year. He does have some injury history but he’s very athletic for his 6-foot-2 287 pound frame. He’s also a former state-wrestling champion from high school.
While Solomon Thomas is someone who will be drafted high because of his ability to play on the inside and outside of a defensive line, Tomlinson might be able to do the same. And you can get him much later in the NFL Draft.
2017 NFL Draft sleeper: Carl Lawson, Auburn DE
Lawson, Derek Barnett, Jonathan Allen and Myles Garrett were named First Team All-SEC last season. Barnett, Allen and Garrett are all pegged to go in the first round, Lawson could be waiting all the way till Saturday to hear his name in the fourth round.
Lawson also knocked out 35 bench press reps at the combine, the most among any defensive linemen. The reason he’s not viewed as highly is injury history, as he tore his ACL and had a hip injury that cost him time as well. When healthy, he’s clearly a great player, which makes him well worth taking in the draft.
"Carl Lawson is an agile, athletic edge w/ dip & burst to turn corner. His acceleration out of his bend is jaw-dropping."
– @nfldraftscout. pic.twitter.com/VVpJmUCnXz
— BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) April 18, 2017
2017 NFL Draft sleeper: Brad Kaaya, Miami (Fla.) QB
There are as many as four quarterbacks who could be taken in the fourth round, but Kaaya isn’t one of them. And while Kaaya isn’t as flashy as say a Mitchell Trubisky or Patrick Mahomes, he’s a solid player that has some Prescott potential. He came in and started as a true freshman at Miami and has played through a coaching change. He made strides last year under Mark Richt and threw for 27 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions.
He won’t be drafted as a starter, but if he’s thrust into the role for whatever reason, don’t be surprised if Kaaya keeps it in the NFL.
2017 NFL Draft sleeper: Duke Riley, LSU LB
Similar to Tomlinson, Riley was overshadowed on a very talented LSU defense. In fact, he may not have even been the best linebacker on the team as Kendell Beckwith was great for the Tigers before going down with a late season injury. And after Beckwith went down, Riley stepped up and ended up leading the team in tackles.
And while scouts say not to pay attention to the logo on the side of the helmet, LSU has put a couple of really solid linebackers in the NFL in the recent years in Kwon Alexander and Deion Jones in the past few years. Riley won’t be drafted as highly as they were but he’s a got chance to shine in the NFL.
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