NFL Draft 2013: Prospect Sleepers and Steals

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NFL Draft 2013: Prospect Sleepers and Steals
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

With the 2012 college football season now in it's last leg, NFL draft boards are beginning to take shape.

NFL teams are midway through their own seasons at this point, and they have a pretty good idea of their future.

Some are rebuilding.

They will focus on adding as much talent as they can get their hands on through the draft. Others are looking for more polished veteran players, and will instead use the draft to fill immediate needs and to add depth at thin positions. 

This year's crop of talent isn't quite as exciting as last year's. The 2012 draft class featured two of the best college quarterbacks in history, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, as well as a bevy of electric athletes like star wide receivers Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright and Michael Floyd.

Next spring's group has a more traditional talent distribution, with a few multi-talented stars at the top and a lot of role players and one-trick ponies throughout. As a result, teams looking to build their foundations, will have to scout and work especially hard to find value in the draft's later rounds.

Many of the NFL's top players were late round picks or undrafted free agent signings. For every franchise player like Luck or Calvin Johnson (second pick in '07), there's a Jamarcus Russell (1st overall in '07) type whiff. But, for teams like the Patriots and Steelers,  there's also a late round gem like Tom Brady (199th pick in 2000) or a James Harrison (undrafted in 2002) if player scouting is made a priority. 

The late rounds of the NFL draft are generally reserved for developmental projects and role players. But if a team is savvy in player scouting, there's also plenty of impact-level talent to go around—even if it's harder to find.

These prospects have significant flaws that can range from sub-par athletic ability, checkered injury histories or off the field problems. Some of them have simply had bad luck, or have played for small programs or below the DI level. 

In terms of investment return, the risk is definitely higher after the first two or three picks, but a smart spending team can hit jackpot if they can acquire a blue chip talent for undrafted free agent money. And even for those teams that don't strike it rich with a diamond in the rough like Jason Peters or Wes Welker (both undrafted Pro Bowlers), they can still find very valuable commodities for their niche positions or on special teams.

Here are six potential late round steals on Draft Day 2012:  

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