NFL Draft 2012: Sleeper Players Sure to Surprise

Andrew KulhaSenior Analyst IIIFebruary 25, 2012

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 23:  Rueben Randle #2 of the LSU Tigers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It's easy to predict that a first-round stud like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III will be a star in the NFL, but it really takes skill, instincts and a good eye to be able to determine a sleeper pick.

When everybody else is surprised that a player is blowing up, you'd be able to say: "Yeah, I saw it."

That's the dream scenario for every NFL scout or draft writer.

The 2012 NFL draft is jam packed with star players, but let's take a look at a few sleepers who are sure to surprise:


Rueben Randle, WR, LSU

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03:  Rueben Randle #2 of the LSU Tigers against the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2011 SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

At 6'4'', 208 pounds Randle has the potential to be a very dangerous wideout in the NFL. He's got the physical stature and speed that leads me to believe he can be a deep threat, but he's also big enough to play big across the middle and at the line of scrimmage.

That's what I like so much about Randle—he strikes me as a player who can make plays all over the field.

He's got the speed to be a deep threat, but the size and physicality to be a possession receiver. He runs good routes, has good hands and can be a great playmaker in the NFL.

He might even be able to squeak into the first round if there's a run on wideouts. If he slips out of the first, he will be an instant value.


Chris Rainey, RB, Florida

Chris Rainey has breakaway speed, and he very well be one of the most explosive players in the 2012 NFL draft.

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 10:  Chris Rainey #1 of the Florida Gators runs for yardage during a game against the UAB Blazers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 10, 2011 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

He has every ability to come into the league and be a dangerous third-down back, as he can also be very effective catching passes out of the backfield. Rainey has excellent speed, footwork and vision, and once he gets an opening he's almost impossible to catch.

I wouldn't be surprised if an NFL team utilizes him like the Saints did with Darren Sproles.

If that's the case, he's going to be a massive sleeper.


Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 06:  Jarius Wright #4 of the Arkansas Razorbacks celebrates a touchdown pass reception against the Kansas State Wildcats during the Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 6, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/G
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I love the potential that Wright will be bringing to the NFL. He's extremely fast and can get behind the defense and make plays, but he's also a threat to catch it in the slot and make something happen with his feet.

His combination of good hands and incredible speed can be very dangerous in the right system. I see him translating very well to a slot receiver at 5'10'', 180 pounds.

I'd compare him to Packers wideout Randall Cobb or Vikings stud Percy Harvin as a best-case scenario.

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