posted at 4/7/2009 2:20 PM EDT
I'm not sure what happened to the last sleepers thread, so I thought I'd start a new one. With the Peppers rumors heating up and the talk about trading up for Maualuga, we've understandably started to overlook the lower rounds. Honestly, rounds 4 - 7 comprise the bulk of the draft, and how well we pick up quality depth--or even surprise superstars like Brady--goes a long way in determining how competitive we remain long-term.
I'm sure you all have favorite underrated players to share, so let's discuss. Here are three sleepers who have really caught my interest.
DT Everette Pedescleaux
: extremely stout at the point of attack, Pedescleaux often faces double teams, many of which he defeats. He's 6'6 and 305 pounds, with a trim physique. I could see him adding an extra 5 pounds of muscle in our weight program and becoming virtually immovable against the run. He's also deceptively athletic for a big man, putting up 11.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks as a defensive tackle. His unit led their conference in rushing defense, although he admittedly played at a small school against questionable opposition.
You can't question his motor, however. I love how he fights through two or three blockers to the quarterback, or hustles 20 yards down the field to tackle a WR. He plays hard, has a good nose for the ball, and absolutely obliterates centers or guards when left one on one. His YouTube highlight video shows quite a bit of game tape, both positive and negative, and I'm shocked that he isn't projected higher than the 6th or 7th round.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GH9lJT3lK8
RB Antone Smith
: Although he will probably become a third-down back in the NFL, Smith reminds me of MJD. He's a bowling ball with great balance, vision, and speed, running his pro day 40 in 4.33 seconds. My favorite attribute? His jaw-dropping 31 reps on the bench. We've talked a lot about Devin Moore on this board, but this kid looks just as fast and even stronger. He wasn't used much in college, with only a couple hundred career
carries, so he's extremely fresh. The highlight video I found shows he catches the ball cleanly and naturally out of the backfield, and can make a defender miss in the open field. Take a look.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fbFCU4zHiYLB Josh Mauga
: A warrior. He played his senior season in pain, suffering from a torn pectoral muscle. He doesn't jump out at you on film, but he always seems to be in the right place at the right time, and by his own admission he loves to take on guards at the point of attack and blow up the play at the line of scrimmage. A former wrestler, he's not a flashy tackler, but once he gets his hands on a player, he always manages to take them to the ground.
He's got decent size (6'2, 245) and speed (4.55 projected 40), and before injuring his knee in 07, had 3 interceptions and a few passes defended through 8 games, which tells me he can hold his own in coverage. As popular as Jasper Brinkley has become on this board, I think Mauga might be the better 3-4 prospect due to his physicality and nose for the ball. Consider this: he averaged over 11 tackles a game prior to his inury. Impressive. Once he recovers he should be primed to explode onto the scene at the pro level.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v95u3yNoquU