As many fans have seen (with great envy in our case), late round prospects can be very rewarding. It has become common knowledge at this point that the better teams in the NFL right now have built through the draft. In addition, many of those teams draft picks have provided solid starters or adequate depth behind their lineup.This phenomena of 3rd or 5th round picks being starters can be a scary thought when we think about some of the players we have drafted in the past few years, but this is a reality to successful franchises like the Green Bay Packers. My purpose here is to showcase some potential "sleeper" prospects if you will.
These players will "impress for less" as i stated in my very first (and very sloppy) post. The point of all this is to find success with later round picks which I think we can all agree, has not been the case for the Denver Broncos. This Post will focus on Defensive Backs (My personal favorite).
Brandon Harris CB, Miami. 5'10 191
If there is one corner in this draft that resembles Champ Bailey the most, it would be Brandon Harris. Now I am not saying he will be that good because his ceiling is much lower than that. However, he and Champ possess a lot of the same skills. Both excel in man-to-man and lesser so in zone. Both are extremely fluid in the hips which I love to see out of DB's (No Homo). They both have excellent instincts and phenomenal closing speed. Out of our CB's right now I think Champ and Syd'Quan Thompson have the most burst out of there breaks. Harris is on that level as well. What Champ and Harris have most in common is that closing speed that you love to see. This is a player who as a sophomore was second in the nation in pass deflections. He is all ACC-academic as well, and is known to be very coach able. In closing, what I like most about this guy is the fire you see him play with. He really steps up to the competition and puts it upon himself to beat the opposing WR. Miami has been notorious for under developing talented DB's lately. Another highly rated corner was Sam Shields (Who I believe was key in getting the Packers to the Superbowl.) Harris will need some developing in zone coverage but he will be a good corner in the future.
Jimmy Smith CB, Colorado 6'2 205
Jimmy Smith has great size and speed. He hasn't really gotten picks with his abilities, but he has shutdown opposing receivers. Really good in press coverage where he can use his body and speed effectively. People have been saying he could be like Nmandi Asomugha. Although physically he has a lot of those traits, he is nowhere near as helpful in run support and he isn't as rangy as Nmamdi is. In addition I don't feel like he will get at that elite level because, from a mental standpoint, he is not at that level. Anyway he will probably get into the 1st round because of his size speed package. I don't think he a comparison to Nmandi is fair, on the other hand I can see him being a similar player to Brandon Carr.
Aaron Williams CB, Texas 5'11 205 and Curtis Brown 5'11 185, Texas
Williams is a real athletic safety. He can make plays on the ball and has a lot of tools to be really good but hasn't produced a lot in terms of picks he is a solid mid 2nd round corner in my book. Curtis Brown is similar in terms of production but both have very good upside. Williams is intriguing because of his great feet and hips. He can turn and run with ease. Mayock says he could be the number one Safety instead of the number 3/4 corner-back. Reminds me of former longhorn Aaron Ross.
Brandon Burton CB, 6'0 190 Utah
I really like Brandon Burton. He could be a real sleeper at corner back. He has good speed and size, is very athletic and has great hips. He is very physical at the line and will disrupt routes. His hips are very fluid and he can turn them with ease after initial bump. He plays very fast and aggressive which I love about him. The guy has faster football speed than his average 40 would indicate. The guy flies around the ball. I think he could be our answer to Vincent Jackson in a few years. Jonathan Baldwin, a similar player to Jackson, was shutdown by Burton. His play style speed and aggressiveness remind be of Cortland Finnegan.
Ras-I-Dowling CB/S, 6'1 200 Virginia
Ras is a very aggressive hard hitting corner. He has good deep speed but he is not quick enough for guys like Wes Welker. I really like him at safety because he has great instincts and deep speed which could be used a lot more efficiently. His play resembles Ike Taylor because of that Physicality. Unfortunately he has had a lot of injuries. He is a 2nd round pick but I think he will fall and we should consider grabbing him.
Chis Culliver CB/S, 6'0 200 South Carolina
Culliver has great, quick feet. He could line up across the slot and do well. He also has good size and great speed. He does not have great burst however so receivers can get separation out of there breaks.I would really like him as a safety he has a lot of potential. He is being looked at by half the NFL for a reason.
My later round sleepers are:
Curtis Marsh CB Utah State
Richard Sherman CB but should try Safety Stanford
Shareece Wright CB USC
Davon House CB New Mexico State
Buster Skrine CB Chattanooga
Rashard Carmichael CB Virginia Tech. VT has a lot of good corners by the way.
The above mentioned should be considered in the middle of the 4th round. I would be satisfied if I got one in the 5th. Steals after that.
Brandon Hogan WVU. Athletic player but he isn't a great person. Maybe he can change.