The first two days of the NFL Draft always get the lion’s share of media attention and understandably so — this is where the star players we’ve fallen in love with through college football finally make the meaningful transition to the NFL. Every year, though, we see teams find franchise changers in the later rounds that often go unwatched and undiscussed. Here’s a look at the 5 biggest sleeper picks heading into the 2022 NFL Draft.
The 5 Biggest Sleepers in the 2022 NFL Draft
1) WR Dontario Drummond
Height: 6-1 Weight: 217lbs 40 Time: 4.65s
Drummond is a highly intelligent, smooth catcher out of Ole Miss who’s been consistently underrated because of his 40 time. While speed unquestionably matters at the position, Drummond isn’t slow to the point where it negates what he brings to the field with his hands and mind. Playing in the fastest collegiate conference in football, Drummond was never caught from behind and bailed out QB Matt Corral on multiple occasions by finding open space when his QB was flushed from the pocket. Additionally, Drummond had one of the deepest route trees in college football. If nothing else, his skillset as a blocker and kick returner will give him some versatility at the next level.
Aside from speed, the biggest knocks on Drummond were his inability to create consistent separation and his dependence on RPOs or “smoke-and-mirror” type plays to get open.
2) OG Dylan Parham
Height: 6-3 Weight: 313lbs 40 Time: 4.93s
The Carrollton, GA product turned Memphis RG, Dylan Parham has turned into a consistently formidable pass blocker who’s been underrated because of mild deficiencies in height and arm length. Despite being only 6’ 2”, Parham has an incredibly strong frame and elite quickness that allows him to move with faster pass rushers. He had the most success in college playing RG, though he has the ability to play RT and LG as well. Where Parham really makes his money is with his mobility, particularly in the lower body, enabling him to get under people quickly and maintain a leverage advantage. He also has quick hands at the POA. On a more intangible level, he’s been described as someone with strong leadership qualities and a great work ethic.
Because he’s a bit shorter, he can struggle against powerful rushers with a higher pad level. He would also benefit from playing with a little more urgency in run blocking.
3) TE Isiah Likely
Height: 6-4 Weight: 241lbs 40 Time: 4.68s
While he doesn’t have the imposing frame characteristic of TE’s like Gronk or Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely makes up for his size with speed and agility in the passing game. In his junior season at Coastal Carolina, Likely recorded 912 receiving yards on 59 catches for 15.5 yards a reception. He’s got an expansive route tree and can bring down passes with contact. In the open field he looks more like a taller receiver than a bulky TE. Yet, he is still a solid blocker particularly in the pass blocking.
He’s a couple inches shorter than you’d want an NFL TE to be which may show up when he tries to high point the ball. He may also struggle against bigger defensive ends who can disregard him on size.
4) DE Khalid Duke
Height: 6-4 Weight: 244lbs 40 Time: 4.80s
Maybe the riskiest sleeper pick on the board, Khalid Duke deserves a spot here because of his ability to track mobile quarterbacks. In an NFL that’s moved in the direction of quarterbacks who can buy time with their feet, Duke is great at tracking and chasing quarterbacks off the edge. I could see a team like the Raiders who are in a division with Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson taking a flier on Duke and using him in a sort of “spy” capacity — much like the Browns did with Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah in a division with Lamar Jackson. In a pure scouting report sense, Duke has great anticipation and vision that allow him to follow plays as they develop and the strength to bring guys down even if he’s still engaged with a linemen.
Despite these qualities, Duke never produced at a high level at Kansas State and would only really work in the NFL in a 4-3 scheme because of his build. He also isn’t very agile laterally and is dependent upon his vision and instincts being right.
5) RB Leddie Brown
Height: 5-11 Weight: 215lbs 40 Time: 4.64s
Similar to Drummond, Leddie Brown is a versatile back who makes up for what he lacks in speed with skill and toughness. Coming out of West Virginia, Brown separated himself from other Big 12 backs with his lateral quickness and ability to get low and find holes in short yardage situations. He’s great between the tackles and bouncing off tackles to create yards after contact. In addition, he’s a pass catcher out of the backfield with 36 receptions for 217 yards in his Senior season. In the open field, Brown can plant his foot and change direction better than anyone. Overall, he’s an agile yet physical back that plays smart and is best between the tackles.
His weakness is a lack of explosion at the line. While he had success in college and never got caught from behind, this is something that, more likely than not, will be exposed at the next level. Given his skillset, it may serve him well to put on more muscle mass and transition to a fullback role, though whether or not this is something Brown will commit to is still very much a question.
FS Cam Taylor-Britt
DE Amare Barno
C Donhovan West