2017 NFL Draft – Top 10 Sleepers

Over the years, I’ve seen a number of sleeper articles – some of the so called “sleepers” have been high picks.  I don’t come out of my bubble often, but for the purpose of my top 10 sleepers, I have used the CBS Sports.com/NFL Draft Scout rankings.  Anyone in their top 200 at the time of writing (18 April) doesn’t count as a sleeper.  I’ve cheated a little with Joshua Dobbs, who I think has momentum and will likely be a top 100 pick, but I do like him more than most, so have included him.  NFL Draft Scout rankings are in brackets, with the lowest ranked as the highest sleeper.

  1. Jordan Johnson – RB – Buffalo (976). Any such article wouldn’t be complete without trying to pick the next undrafted player to be productive in a zone scheme. When I wrote my Draft guide a couple of years ago, I picked Zach Zenner (Lions), so that has worked out okay so far.  Johnson was on a poor team, yet still managed to get over 1,000 yards.  He has the size needed for the system and runs with his shoulders square to the line.  He can also feel the backside cut.  This is a deep RB class, so hopefully he doesn’t get lost!
  1. Tau Lotulelei – LB – UNLV (573). Lotulelei has got very little press, but he’s an instinctive LB who just makes plays. He will have to adjust his game a little as he will gamble and come under some blocks, but I think he can do it.  He’s not the biggest (229 lbs), and his pro day 40 wasn’t the best, but he can get off blocks and is tough, so I’ll back him.
  1. Jylan Ware – OT – Alabama State (481). What value would you put on a left tackle prospect with future starting potential? Higher than 481 I suspect.  Ware is better in pass protection right now, but many teams would be happier than someone being a better run blocker.  His pro day numbers were good (low 4.9’s in his 40 at 317 lbs), so I would expect him to be drafted and with development, he has a shot to start down the road.
  1. Krishawn Hogan – WR – Marian (372). In the summer I had two weeks off work recovering from surgery, and being able to do little, got through a bunch of tape. One of the players I watched was Hogan, who for much of the season wasn’t getting any press at all.  He’s gone from that to being mentioned by Daniel Jeremiah on NFL.com.  Hogan was clearly the best player on the field in every game I saw.  His coaches knew it, putting him at wildcat QB inside the ten yard line, where he was highly productive.  He has plus hands and I think he’ll enjoy a productive NFL career.
  1. Jehu Chesson – WR – Michigan (285). Coming into the season, I liked Chesson a lot. He had a down year, and indeed, I thought his confidence was fragile at times.  I also believe he wasn’t 100% the entire season.  However, he’s a plus athlete and I have seen it from him, so it’s just a case of hoping he lands in the right spot.
  1. Brendan Langley – CB – Lamar (244). The CB class is deep and that’s a big part of the reason why Langley is going to be drafted later than he might in past years. He’s not going to be a fit for a press heavy team, but his ball skills are plus and he should excel with an off man or zone heavy team.
  1. Bryan Cox Jr. – DE – Florida (241). I had Cox in my top 100 early in the season, but he’s had some injury issues and his stock has dropped. However, the talent hasn’t changed and I think he has a chance to help from day one.  He’s a good run defender, showing the ability to get off blocks.  He’s not the best pass rusher in this class – and his Combine numbers weren’t great – but I think he can stick as a base LDE.
  1. Josh Harvey-Clemons – S – Louisville (218). Harvey-Clemons has some off the field concerns as he was dismissed from Georgia, which likely plays a part in this ranking by CBS. Of course, Joe Mixon is still ranked high, so it shows how imperfect these things are.  He played more of a hybrid LB role in 2016, but I like him as a Kam Chancellor style safety in a Seahawks system (and there are quite a few other teams running this system).
  1. Joshua Dobbs – QB – Tennessee (214). Dobbs is someone who I personally have on the borderline of my top 100, so this ranking from CBS feels wrong – but he’s here and so I’m claiming him as a sleeper! Dobbs was better in 2015 when plays broke down and he could go into sandlot mode.  I thought he improved around structure in 2016, getting through his progressions and showing he can throw with anticipation.  The character “reg flag” prospects always seem to get press, but first class people like Dobbs should be celebrated more – and at this position, intangibles are key.
  1. Dylan Cole – LB – Missouri State (208). I thought Cole’s tape was deserving of a Combine invitation – and he’s definitely a miss as he went out and ran a 40 in the high 4.4’s at 239 lbs at his pro day. Throw in “plus” bench press, broad/vertical jumps, shuttle and cone drills and you have an outstanding all-around workout.  Whereas Lotulelei above lacks the timed speed to continue to come under blocks in the league, Cole might just get away with it.  He has experience in man and zone coverage, where he looks good.  It is a good group of off-line LBs this year, so he’s getting lost in the shuffle, but I like him to make an impact.
Updated: April 18, 2017 — 4:52 pm


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  1. I don’t know how much American sports media you get in England but the hype on Josh Dobbs right now is pretty loud. Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. have both been all over ESPN the last couple of days saying that Dobbs is going to be drafted in the 2nd round. Same with Daniel Jeremiah at NFL Network. Apparently most teams have 3rd round grades on him so the teams that like him the most believe they will need to spend a 2nd round pick on him if they want to secure him.

    1. I listen to bits and pieces of podcasts at work, but TV wise you have to get NFLN online and I don’t bother. I think in Dobbs case CBS are off, it will be interesting to see if he suddenly leaps 100+ spots a few days before the Draft in their rankings!

  2. Dakota Cox university of New Mexico senior. 403 career tackles, with many awards and kudos. A sleeper linebacker that no one is looking at. This kid has tremendous talent. Any other school outside New Mexico, and he would be in the top ten linebackers.

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