Today’s Spare Change: Draft Sleepers on Offense

April 20, 2010 |

While most draft “experts” will argue over the ranking of players in the 2010 NFL Draft, there’s no debate that this year’s draft class has more talent than possibly anybody has ever seen before. 

With only a couple of days left before the draft begins the only thing that we really know is that the St. Louis Rams will most likely select Oklahoma QB and former Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford first overall, but even that could change since the Rams and Bradford haven’t agreed on a contract.  Other than that this year’s draft is a complete mystery.  I’ve tried several times to makes sense of the draft mess through six separate mock drafts, but I’d probably have a better chance of forecasting the draft with higher accuracy by throwing darts at players name’s than actually thinking through it logically.

Regardless of which order the players are selected it’s pretty clear by now to at least narrow it down to the 35-40 players that will be selected amongst the 1st round (32 picks) on Thursday.  While we all might be more familiar with names like C.J. Spiller, Russell Okung, and Dez Bryant, typically NFL team’s “win” or “lose” the draft with their selections in rounds 3-7.  Ask any current or former NFL GM and they’ll all agree that while you don’t want to miss with your high dollar 1st round pick, what a team does later in the draft has a larger impact on the team’s success more so than anything else.

Here’s my “sleepers” on the offensive side of the ball for the 2010 NFL Draft, the guys that should be available in rounds 3-7….

QB:

  • Dan Lefevour, Central Michigan-  Lefevour is a kid that won’t be ready to start in the NFL for at least the next two seasons, but if a team can be patient with him they should reap the rewards within a few seasons.  He reminds me of Tony Romo a little, because the talent is clearly there, he’ll just need some time to reform his game to be successful in the NFL.  I think Lefevour should be available in the 3rd round.
  • Ryan Perriloux, Jacksonville State-  You might have heard of the name Ryan Perriloux, but chances are you’ve never seen a Jacksonville State game in your life.  Perriloux was one of the top high school recruits a few years ago and ended up at LSU primed to take over after JaMarcus Russell left the Tigers, but Perriloux left the program to head to the relatively unknown Jacksonville State program to resurrect his career.  Physically Perriloux is a stud, mentally he’s not, but perhaps he’s matured enough to find a NFL GM to draft him in the 6th or 7th round.

RB:

  • Ben Tate, Auburn-  Auburn is no stranger to producing top NFL backs from Bo Jackson to Carnell Williams to Ronnie Brown.  I don’t see Tate at that level right now, but physically Tate is as gifted an athlete as they come.  He’s got great size at 5’11”, 220 lbs. to run hard, but also the agility to make defenses miss.  Tate could be a steal in the 3rd round.
  • LaGarrett Blount, Oregon-  Blount became a household name immediately this college football season, but not for his play on the field, it was for his right hook to the face of a Boise State player.  After a lengthy suspension Blount has a lot to prove to the NFL scouts and GM’s, but because of his “issues” Blount will slip much farther in the draft than his talent suggests he should.  I don’t see Blount as a 1,000 yard rusher, but I can see him being a goal line monster at 6’1″, 241 lbs.  LaGarrett should be able to contribute in the red zone from day 1, so taking him in the 4th round might not be a bad idea.
  • Trindon Holliday, LSU-  Holliday reminds me of Darren Sproles a lot.  Small in stature, but big with speed.  He’s more of an “athlete” than a pure RB, but he’ll make an impact somewhere on the football field whether it’s on special teams or as a 3rd down RB.  His speed is off the charts and should become at worst an elite kick returner similarly to Jermaine Lewis.  Take Holliday in the 7th round and enjoy watching him make people look foolish with his elusiveness.

WR’s:

  • Eric Decker, Minnesota-  If not for his foot injury this past season, Decker would be a name we’d be more familiar with at this point in the process than he currently is.  At 6’3″, 217 lbs., Decker has ideal WR size to play in the NFL and his talent could be more suited for the NFL game than the college brand.  I see Decker as a hard worker, a great route runner, and a kid that has enough speed and strength to make big plays.  While Decker isn’t a #1 WR, using a 3rd pick on him would be a steal for a team to cement their #2 WR on the field.
  • Shay Hodge, Ole Miss-  Hodge has decent size (6’1″) to play WR in the NFL, but he’s definitely not a “burner” by any means.  The NFL team that drafts Hodge will get a very solid and well taught WR that has sure hands and will run good routes.  He’s more of a possession receiver than anything, but who couldn’t use a guy like that in the 5th round?
  • Joe Webb, UAB-  The former QB turned WR is a physical specimen that will take some time to develop into an NFL WR, but there is no denying Webb has the talent to make the transition.  At 6’3″, 220 lbs., Webb has ideal WR size and lets not pass over the 4.45 40 yard dash he ran at the combine.  It may take a couple of seasons for Webb to learn his new position, but his versatility can only help him, especially with more and more teams running some sort of “wildcat” offense at times.  I’d take Webb in the 6th round and hope he makes the transition.
  • Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green-  He’s not very tall, he’s not very fast, but all this kid does is catch the football.  Barnes caught 155 receptions last season with 19 of those going for TD’s.  While BGSU isn’t Oklahoma, the reality is that Barnes can catch the football, the rest is up to the coaches.  Take him in the 7th round and enjoy the steal.

TE’s:

  • Ed Dickson, Oregon-  Believe me there’s a lot more to this draft regarding TE’s than just Jermaine Gresham and Rob Gronkowski.  Dickson slips in the draft because his Oregon Duck team had an awful QB that couldn’t throw the ball.  I love the potential I see in Dickson and would feel pretty good about taking him in the 3rd round.
  • Jimmy Graham, Miami-  Graham is a project player after only playing one season of college football after switching from basketball to football before his senior season, but Graham will be a red zone monster in the NFL with his excellent size (6’6″, 270 lbs.).  Sure he’s going to take some time to learn how to run routes and block on the line, but give him a year to learn behind a polished veteran and Graham will make some NFL GM smile for years to come.  I’d jump at the chance of nailing down a talent like Graham in the 3rd round.
  • Tony Moeaki, Iowa-  He needs to improve his blocking, but Moeaki can definitely catch the ball.  He’s a little smaller than most teams would like to see at TE, but his size, speed, and strength make him a matchup nightmare.  He comes from the same school as another TE that’s not physically intimidating, but Dallas Clark is still one of the best in the league despite his lack of size.  I’d feel very comfortable taking Moeaki in the 4th round.
  • Garrett Graham, Wisconsin-  Graham has incredible hands, there’s no denying that, but he’s more of a H-back than a pure TE.  I see a lot of Chris Cooley in Graham, which makes Graham an intriguing prospect for most NFL teams.  Graham can contribute immediately in the NFL as a pass catcher and as a blocker, but getting him in the weight room will be a must to become successful at the next level.  I think Graham will delight his new NFL team after seeing what they got from a guy they drafted in the 4th or 5th round.

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