These days, it’s not hard to find a mock draft from your favorite writer, and more and more, we’re seeing two- and three-round mocks, even in November and December. What’s less common is a look at the players at the fringes of the draft who might wind up earlier in Day 3, or who may get snubbed in all seven rounds but wind up as a solid pro.
My friend, former Titans college scouting director Blake Beddingfield, did just that this week when he presented 50 sleepers in the ’21 draft class in a 90-minute Zoom session. Participants were treated to a quick summation of each player listed, as well as stories, comps and insights on the ’21 draft class and how the game is changing. It was a blast, and I got lots of positive feedback from members of the audience.
Here’s a look at five of the 50 players and why he likes them.
- Jaelon Darden, WO, North Texas: Undersized receiver with very good speed and agility. Slot-type on the next level with ability to return punts. Solid run vision. Good stop-and-go quickness with ability to get up to top speed in a flash. Solid hands; catches the deep ball well, tracks and secures. Not a starting slot in the NFL, but can be a solid backup and return punts. I like his ability to stick and make a team with upside to produce in a number of ways. Versatility is a plus. Fifth or sixth round.
- Devin Hafford, DC, Tarleton State: Solid size and frame. Good on-the-ball skills. Productive. Has some hip and back stiffness when turning and running, but has the frame to move to safety and play in sub packages. Straight-line speed is solid but lateral movement is adequate. Has good instincts. Only played one game in 2019 due to injury, but has upside. How he comes back from injury is key. PFA for now, but could be a late-rounder with production and good pro day.
- Deon Jackson, OH, Duke: Good size and frame. Powerful runner. Experienced with marginal production as a runner, but he has been an all-around back with production as a receiver. Has good hands. Also a kick returner. Has enough quickness and speed to be effective. Not a frontline-type player, but versatile with good size. 7th/PFA.
- Tyarise Stevenson, DT, Tulsa: Massive guy who’s a classic two-gap nose tackle. However, he’s a run-down player only, and not a pass rusher. Limited-range player who takes up space and blockers. Dirty work-type, not a playmaker. Not a fit for every team. PFA.
- Joe Schulthorpe, OG, NC State: Best at right guard, but has also played center, and that versatility is valuable. Solid size for both positions, and has shown effectiveness at both spots. Has backup traits on the interior offensive line and a. role as a three-position backup in the NFL. Fifth or sixth round.
If you’d like to hear the rest of Blake’s 50 sleepers as well as a breakdown of each of them, plus a list with notes on each of them, click here. You’ll be charged $35 and we’ll ship out the link and the list immediately. For what it’s worth, several active NFL scouts have already purchased it.
We’ll talk more about Blake’s Zoom session this week in our Friday Wrap, which comes out every Friday at 7:30 p.m. EDT. If you haven’t already, register for it here.