Every year millions of people tune in to the NFL Network to watch hundreds of young men run around in their underwear to get a first glimpse of possible prospects their team could pick up. I know that sounds weird, but it’s the truth. Along with watching for the familiar names people like to watch out for the “sleepers” in the positions their team needs. Every year there is a couple of guys that no one has really ever heard of that blow people’s minds at the combine and their draft stock skyrockets. Terron Armstead is one of those guys for me. A small school offensive tackle who put up amazing numbers at the combine and was projected to go in the 4th or possible 5th round and went in the 3rd round to New Orleans. Yes, if you can’t tell I’m bitter the Colts didn’t nab him and we wouldn’t be wondering who is going to play right tackle right now. So with that said here is my list of sleepers that you should keep your eye on as the combine begins on 2/26.
1. Deiondre Hall – CB (Northern Iowa)
Hall is a built like a prototypical cornerback. He has the speed to be one on one and plays physical as well. He doesn’t shy away from contact and has the ability to be a ball hawk as well. As with all the gentlemen on this list there is a concern about the level of talent he played against during his time at Northern Iowa. He reads the field well which would make him a candidate for moving from CB to Safety in the NFL, but I think he would be able to play either position. He isn’t a plug and play guy and he will need time to develop some of his skills. However, it won’t take him long to get up to speed and be ready to go when his number is called.
2. Victor Ochi – OLB (Stony Brook)
Ochi had an amazing Shrine game. He was able to put constant pressure on the quarterback and was very good at playing the run as well. He has a non-stop motor and loves to hit people. His biggest knock against him is his size. He is only 6’1 so he is much shorter than you would like for a 3-4 outside linebacker but he knows how to use his body to get to where he needs to be. He has great strength and shows an above average knowledge of using his size to create leverage on the bigger, stronger offensive tackles. He is set right now to go in the 5th-6th rounds, but with a great combine I can see him jumping into the 4th round.
3. Miles Killebrew – Safety (Southern Utah)
Killebrew is already getting a lot of attention by draft gurus so it’s hard to have him on the list as a sleeper. However being from a very small school the level of talent he played against will be held against him and he will be a late day two pick at best. Todd McShay has said that Killebrew reminds him of Deone Bucannon and that is a good draw for Killebrew. He is a physical safety who reminds me of Leroy Butler from his days in Green Bay. He can cover if need be, but he will be much more effective filling in on the run and giving the defense 8-men in the box. I have seen Killebrew going as late as the 5th round but I feel that he will go in the 4th round and no later. He could end up having a great combine like Jaquiski Tartt did last year and rise into the late 2nd round.
4. Michael Jordan – CB (Missouri Western)
No not that MJ, but this MJ is impressive in his own right. Jordan comes from a tiny school that hasn’t had a player drafted from it in two decades. Jordan shows off well with good size and knows how to use his hands effectively. He does play from a small school, but during the East-West Shrine Game he showed that bigger competition doesn’t scare him and he did not back down the whole game. He was very impressive for someone who came from such a small school. Jordan is projected to go in the 7th round or undrafted altogether, but I don’t think he will let that happen. He will need a very impressive combine and pro day and if he can use his skills to impress I believe he could go as early as the 5th round. He isn’t polished yet but he is someone that could be thrown into a special teams roll to become acclimated with the NFL and work his way into a backup or even starting role.
5. Joe Haeg- OT (North Dakota State)
Haeg is the anchor for the Bison’s offensive line and is a two-time All-American. Haeg is someone that I absolutely love and feel that any team who drafts him will be getting a starter at right tackle for 10 years at least. He is projected as a mid 3rd round pick to late 4th round but had he played at a Division I school he would be a late 1st to mid 2nd round pick this year hands down. Haeg can still be a riser on people’s draft boards with a great combine to show that what people say about him isn’t off-base. If Haeg goes in the 4th round for some reason then he will be considered a steal by anyone who knows anything about football.