The NFL draft will always have hidden gems year after year. Whether it is Tom Brady, Marques Colston, Richard Sherman, or Josh Norman the league is littered with those guys every season. Let us take a look at some prospects in the 2016 NFL draft that can receive the moniker as draft day sleepers.
Leonte Carroo – After crushing the combine it forced many evaluators to go back and watch the tape of the ultra productive Carroo. The former Rutgers star can do it all in the short, intermediate, and deep passing game as he is the go to guy who gets peppered with target after target. Put on the Michigan State game and you get to see his competitiveness and relentlessness on each and every play. Carroo’s excellent hands and willingness to attack every pass with physicality will result in a steal for the team that drafts him.
Sheldon Day – Not being blessed with superior size or speed will leave Day dropping down the draft boards. What Day is though, is a competitive football player with great technique and versatility to be a great rotational piece to a defensive line. He can play inside or outside with a twitchy, quick, elusiveness that will make it difficult for offensive lineman to contain him. Day is considered a tweener without an ideal position but a good football player is a good football player and he should improve a team’s defensive line.
Eric Murray – If I had one word to describe Murray it would be solid. The former Golden Gopher cornerback does everything solid and will be a very reliable guy on the outside. Murray plays the game with a focus and consistency like no other and is unflappable despite what is going on around him. Put him on an opposing receiver and say that’s your man and watch him battle the entire game. His lack of size will have teams passing on him in the draft but put on the tape and you will see a player that doesn’t let his size define him.
Harlan Miller – I fell in love with this kid watching him at the Senior Bowl practices due to his smoothness in and out breaks and ball skills. Mix in the confidence Miller plays with and you have a small school stand out who can make an impact at the next level. He does however come with some question marks being a slighter thin framed guy (6’0 180 lbs) who ran a 4.65 40 at the combine. Yes there are concerns about him going up against grown men in the league but you can’t teach ball skills and instincts and Miller has that to go along with great length.
Malcolm Mitchell – I remember when Mitchell was supposed to be the next big Georgia receiver to be a productive NFL star. As a freshman Mitchell caught 85 passes for 1200 yards and 8 TDs and was destined to become a star for the Bulldogs until a 2013 ACL injury derailed him. The injury coupled with size and speed concerns will drop Mitchell into the later rounds of the 2016 NFL draft. But Mitchell is a gamer that a team should take a flier on as he has dependable hands and runs routes with a smoothness that quarterbacks love to target. If drafted by the right team with a coaching staff who can get the best of his abilities, Mitchell can be an absolute steal in the latter rounds.
Aaron Green – Those of you who watched Patriots running back Dion Lewis take the league by storm before his knee injury know the value of a speedy change of direction demon. Enter former TCU RB Aaron Green who possesses a shiftiness and elusiveness matched by very few in the 2016 NFL draft. Green’s diminutive stature isn’t warranted of an early round pick but the league has turned into a spread em out track meet and this type of league plays to Green’s strengths. I can see Green making a difference with a contender, especially on third downs.
Thomas Duarte – The lack of talent from the tight end position over the last couple drafts has been apparent. So let me dig a little bit and give you a guy who can end up being the best receiving tight end in the 2016 draft, Thomas Duarte. Let’s start off by saying that Duarte has a long way to go in becoming an inline tight end due to his inability to block. Duarte is a pass catcher who is very deceptive with his route running abilities and has the ability to set up defenders and get open in the middle of defenses. Think Jordan Reed’s potential for Duarte who in the right offensive scheme can be a very productive player in the league.