NFL Draft Sleepers to Watch on Days 2 and 3

The 2020 NFL Draft day has finally arrived, giving sports fans the closest thing to a live sporting event in months. Day 1 of the draft was filled with college football stars, as each team hoped to find their franchise cornerstone in the first round. Although the first round was full of exciting names, a plethora of NFL superstars began their careers being drafted in the later rounds. The following are a few notable non-first-round picks who are having successful NFL careers include:

  • Tom Brady (No. 199)
  • Alvin Kamara (No. 67)
  • Russell Wilson (No. 75)
  • Richard Sherman (No. 154)
  • Julian Edelman (No. 232)

These are just a few of the many current NFL stars not selected in the first round of the draft. Looking at this list, one point stands: there is plenty of hidden talent in the later rounds of the draft. With that being said, let’s take a look at who could be the next diamond in the rough.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU

Clyde Edwards-Helaire does not have the prototypical size for an NFL back, but if you watched him play in his final collegiate season, you’d see he has as much heart and passion for the game as anyone. Coming in at a towering 5-foot-7 and 207 pounds, Edwards-Helaire did all the dirty work for the reigning national champions.

He may have been overshadowed by Joe Burrow and LSU’s other elite offensive weapons, but Edwards-Helaire had a remarkable final college season. He finished his final season with 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground plus 55 receptions for 453 yards and a touchdown through the air. He’s the jack of all trades as far as running back skill sets come: reliable in short-yardage situations, elusive in open space, not afraid to run over a defender in his path, and has possibly the best hands in this running back class. With the skills he possesses, he can be a three-down back for any team in the league. If you’re still skeptical, let his game film speak for itself … specifically his four-touchdown performance against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

NFL Comparison: Maurice Jones-Drew

Devin Duvernay, WR, University of Texas

Devin Duvernay has the build of a running back but the hands and speed of a receiver. Collin Johnson has a higher draft grade, but Duvernay is the one who really sticks out if you watched any Texas game last season.

He ended his senior season with 106 catches for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns. Throughout his career at Texas, he caught 176 balls and only has one career drop, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he didn’t drop a single pass at the NFL combine. Other than his elite hands, Duvernay also has great straight-line speed, showcased at the NFL combine where he ran a blazing 4.39 40-yard dash and shows top-tier intensity on every play.

Despite his many strengths, he does have some limitations. He does not have great size for an NFL receiver and he has tight hips, which limits him as a route runner. Overall, he passes the eye test and will be a steal for any team that drafts him in the later rounds. His ceiling is an elite slot receiver with the ability to make an impact in the return game as well.

NFL Comparison: Wes Welker with more speed

Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne University

Lenoir-Rhyne University is a relatively unknown Division II school, but Kyle Dugger may put them on the map. He’s projected to be the first player drafted from the school since 2000 and potentially the highest pick in school history, the last one being John Milam (San Francisco 49ers’ fifth-round pick).

Registering in at 6-foot-1 and 217 pounds, Dugger has the prototypical size that the NFL likes to see at the safety position. He likes to play downhill and make the ball carrier pay, which allows him to play in the box when necessary. He has excellent range, ball skills, and the speed to track down the ball carrier. Not only is he a ball-hawk on defense, but he is also a proven return man, showcased by his six career punt return touchdowns.

There are a few concerns with Dugger, however. He plays slow at times, relying on his athleticism to recover and make plays. Playing for Lenoir-Rhyne, he was always the best and most athletic player on the field, which he was able to get away with considering he was playing against Division II competition. That will not work in the NFL, so he will need to develop quicker instincts to plays.

Drafting Dugger in the early rounds of the draft is a gamble due to his small-school background, but he could easily be a steal in the later portion of the draft. At the very least, he can help immediately on special teams and eventually develop into a legitimate starting safety in the league once he gets adjusted to the speed of the NFL level.

NFL Comparison: Jaquiski Tartt or John Johnson

Marlon Davidson, DL, Auburn University

The combination of Davidson and Derrick Brown was a formidable defensive front at Auburn University. Although Brown is getting more hype in draft circles, Davidson is not a player to overlook.

In his senior season, he was named to the All-SEC First Team, along with his teammate, Brown. He recorded six-and-a-half sacks and 12 tackles for loss, ranking sixth in the SEC.

Davidson was versatile in his time at Auburn, with the ability to play on both the exterior and interior of the line. He has decent size, but you’d like to see him put on a few more pounds if an NFL team prefers him to play on the interior.

Davidson’s length is one of his issues. Once he’s engaged with a blocker, he has some trouble getting free. If a team needs him to play on the outside, he’s capable, but he will need to improve on his first step and speed moves, as his power is his forte.

He’s athletic, takes up space, and can get to the quarterback. Playing against and performing well against the toughest competition in the country in the SEC shows that he is a legitimate ballplayer. He may take some time to develop, but he has the ability to be a quality starter in the NFL.

NFL Comparison: Fletcher Cox

Antoine Winfield Jr.

Antoine Winfield Sr. was a highly productive player throughout his career. His offspring, Antoine Winfield Jr., has the ability to carry on his father’s legacy in the NFL.

Injuries held him back in 2017 and 2018, but Winfield impressed in his final season at Minnesota. In 2019, he registered 85 total tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, and seven interceptions. He likes to play downhill and deliver the big hit, but he’s also reliable in coverage. He has a nose for the football and is extremely instinctive, which worked out well for him in his collegiate career. He can play in the box, help with run support, and is physical enough to cover tight ends when necessary.

Winfield’s length and range are not elite, but his instincts and playmaking ability made up for that at the collegiate level. At the NFL level, he may struggle a bit making plays on jump balls or covering bigger receivers due to his limited length. As previously stated, injuries are also a big concern with Winfield. He missed multiple games in 2017 and 2018 with hamstring and foot injuries.

Overall, Winfield looks to be a solid NFL prospect. He has the ability to play both zone and man, he can play in the box, and can deliver a big blow to the ball carrier. If he stays healthy, Winfield is capable of becoming a good starter in the NFL with his ball-hawking ability and toughness in the run game and in coverage.

NFL Comparison: Tyrann Mathieu 

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