Every year the NFL Draft comes and goes, and the team’s that draft well in the later rounds are often the teams that consistently find themselves in the postseason. With the 2020 NFL Draft coming this upcoming week, I thought I’d give my sleepers.
My definition of a sleeper isn’t necessarily an NFL superstar, but rather someone who can surpass expectations and be an important contributor. Someone like wide receiver Darius Slayton, who was a productive receiver last season, and running back Aaron Jones, who has developed into a good starter for the Green Bay Packers, who were productive sleepers after being drafted in the fifth round of their respective drafts.
Without further ado, some offensive players who will be great value picks in this year’s draft:
Gabriel Davis | UCF | Wide Receiver
Davis was one of the most productive receivers in the nation last season, as he accumulated 72 receptions, 1,241 yards, and 12 touchdowns in his junior season. In arguably the deepest receiver draft of the 21st-century, Davis finds himself as a late day three pick, but he’s still a player that can contribute.
Davis isn’t the fastest receiver, but he has a good build that he uses to his advantage and he comes out of his breaks very well. He’s a crafty receiver that stretched the field well in college. While I’m not sure he will be as effective in that area at the next level, I do think he can create separation against NFL corners.
The best evidence of Davis translating to the NFL would have to be his film against Stanford when he was left on an island with Paulson Adebo, who is a potential first round pick in the 2021 Draft. Davis had four catches, 63 yards, and a touchdown, but he created separation and got himself open even more often. If he had better quarterback play, he would have been closer to 100 yards.
Cole McDonald | Quarterback | Hawaii
McDonald is this year’s Gardner Minshew. Both men came from pass-heavy offenses and are severely underrated when looked at by NFL scouts. McDonald is my eighth rated quarterback, but if he falls into a system that doesn’t over extend him, he can be solid.
At 6-foot-4, McDonald has NFL size and is seen as an intriguing prospect. His 14 interceptions are worrisome, but when you take his 500+ pass attempts, it is not as bad. Jalen Hurts, for example, is seen as a day two pick, but had only six less interceptions in more than 150 less attempts. McDonald is far from perfect, but his turnover numbers are exaggerated due to an abundance of attempts.
McDonald has good pocket mobility, and his 4.58 40-yard-dash shows he’s also a danger to escape the pocket at a professional level. He comes in with a good I.Q. similar to Minshew, but is limited in his array of throws. You won’t be wowed by McDonald’s arm, but his in game smarts and ability to extend the play suggests he can be a premium backup that can be trusted to start a few games.
James Morgan | Quarterback | FIU
Morgan is a potential sleeping giant in this draft. The 6-foot-4, 213 pound quarterback has rather pedestrian numbers, but one quick look at his film and the tools at his disposal become obvious. Morgan’s numbers were hindered by poor receiver play and him toughing out a knee injury.
Morgan has the potential to be an absolute gunslinger at the next level; he has a big arm, is willing to sit in the pocket, and is a decent athlete. Like any gunslinger, his decision making isn’t perfect, but his arm talent often makes up for it.
Morgan is a definite developmental talent who needs to sit out a year or two to discover his full talent, but his upside is too much for me to not fall in love. In a time where there is an unprecedented amount of depth at the quarterback position, Morgan is a flier worth taking.
Colby Parkinson |TE | Stanford
In a season where starting quarterback KJ Costello got injured, Parkinson once again showed his importance in the offense as Davis Mills safety blanket. Parkinson’s touchdown numbers took a dip after he had 7 in 2018, but was still named an All-Conference selection.
Parkinson figures to be a red zone threat at the next level by using his 6-foot-7 frame to his advantage against defenders. He uses his body well when beating defenders, and when he enters the league, he could be a safety blanket who could be productive as a team’s third or fourth option. Parkinson’s versatility could be used in two tight end sets, which is how he was deployed in his sophomore season.
Tight end is one of the weaker positions in this draft, but a capable, big-bodied receiver like Parkinson on day three could be a great value for a team.
Michael Warren II | RB | Cincinnati
A running back by committee has become the new norm in the NFL, and Warren would be a perfect fit in a committee.
Warren is a bruising power-back who doesn’t go down easily. He creates yards after contact, is light on his feet for a player his size, and accelerates his production with good field vision. In the last two seasons, Warren has accumulated 2,594 rushing yards and 33 rushing touchdowns.
While it may not be his trademark, Warren was asked to be a receiver in college catching 46 passes, 385 yards, and three touchdowns in his last two seasons.
Warren has legitimate two-down potential as a competent receiver and a good runner. Warren has a lot of tread on his tires with over 500 carries in his college career, but his intense running style, combined with his field vision, makes me believe he can be very effective in a committee.