NFL Draft 2013: Sleeper Picks with Huge Upside
The 2013 NFL draft offers up some fascinating sleeper prospects.
Even with impressive displays at the combine, some athletes just remain overlooked or get outshined at their respective positions.
Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy is one of the best examples.
While performing quite well for Jerry Franklin the past two seasons, Stacy also put on a solid show for the NFL in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, the running back class as a whole doesn't present much top-heavy talent compared to 2012, so attention is focused on other positions.
Because of that, Stacy only goes unnoticed a bit more.
Well, remaining off the radar simply makes Stacy and these prospective talents greater selections later in the draft.
Jamie Collins: LB/DE, Southern Miss
Measuring at 6'3", 250 pounds, Jamie Collins of Southern Miss shined at the combine.
There, he ran 4.64 seconds on the 40-yard dash, vaulted to 41.5 inches on the vertical leap and soared to 139 inches on the broad jump.
Clearly, he's quite the athlete, but Collins also produce impressively well for the Golden Eagles. Originally suiting up in the secondary, Collins moved to the front seven. Between 2011 and 2012 he accounted for 190 tackles, 39.5 of which were for losses, five forced fumbles and 14 defended passes.
Possessing the size and athleticism to impact as a 3-4 rush linebacker or 4-3 defensive end, Collins brings discipline and reliable playmaking instincts. He does need to brush up on quicker hand techniques to get off blocks. That will only come through NFL development and experience.
Ryan Swope: WR, Texas A&M
Expect Texas A&M's Ryan Swope to get selected on Day 2 of the draft weekend.
Despite only collecting over 1,000 receiving yards in college, he brings route-running skill and explosiveness to the position.
For one, Swope blazed to 4.34 seconds on the 40-yard dash and hit 6.76 seconds on the three-cone drill. Secondly, his dependability as a receiver is well established with 233 catches from 2010 through 2012.
That's part of an offense that has featured dual-threat quarterbacks in Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel. The Aggies weren't dropping back and targeting Swope down after down.
Line him up in the slot, wing or the outside, and Swope's hands will help move the chains on third down.
Include his solid size and strength for the position, and Swope will seal blocks downfield. Whether it's helping out a scrambling quarterback, a running back looking for a lane or setting up a receiver screen, this is a guy any offense can quickly count on.
B.W. Webb: CB, William & Mary
The potential of B.W. Webb is quite evident.
At the combine he displayed electrifying quickness by clocking 3.84 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and 6.82 seconds in the three-cone drill.
Webb also revealed his explosive capabilities with a 40.5-vertical leap and 132-inch broad jump. Now he must get stronger to develop as an every-down cornerback in pro football. Fortunately, Webb's playmaking skills will buy him much time to get acclimated.
During his campaign at William & Mary, Webb defended 30 passes, recorded 151 tackles and 11 picks. As his career progressed, though, Webb's numbers regressed as he simply locked down in coverage and was challenged less and less.
Unsurprisingly, Webb performed well at the Senior Bowl.
What also inflates his marketability are special teams. Serving as a punt returner for the Tribe, Webb piled up 604 yards on 70 attempts and scored twice. He's currently a sound fit as a nickel/dime back, but Webb will also get on the field to contribute as a return man.
Brian Schwenke: Center/Guard, California
California's Brian Schwenke isn't one of the faster offensive linemen, but he's quick in short-area space.
Running 7.31 seconds on the three-cone drill at the combine, Schwenke possesses the initial burst to work well in the trenches.
He's a better run-blocker than pass-protector, although Schwenke forming a wall on the pocket's interior is underrated. His strength must certainly improve, because that does leave him vulnerable to bull rushes and inside blitzes.
Nevertheless, Schwenke's hand techniques are solid, and he maintains impressive balance when setting up to block. Last season, one positive note for the Golden Bears was their running game.
Cal averaged 183 rushing yards per contest, and the three main ball-carriers combined to average 7.1 yards per attempt. Schwenke's ability to immediately create running lanes and get downfield enhances his draft stock.
And he's only going to improve as a pass-blocker with more reps against NFL athletes.
Zac Stacy: RB, Vanderbilt
Zac Stacy is compact—yet powerful and explosive like a cannonball.
He was measured at 5'8", 216 pounds in Indianapolis and bolted to 6.70 seconds on the three-cone drill.
In addition, Stacy pumped out 27 reps on the bench press, so he brings the ability to quickly build up momentum and pack the punch when breaking tackles.
Although he wasn't a bruising runner for the Commodores, the SEC features excellent defenses. Stacy still managed to accumulate 2,334 rushing yards between 2011 and 2012, which displays consistency in college football's toughest conference.
He was fed just over 200 carries each of those seasons, so bodily wear is not too significant. The guy also makes plays out of the backfield and supplies excellent ball-carrier vision with patience.
Easily a third-down back to kick off his career, Stacy possesses the entire repertoire to become a No. 1 running back in pro football.
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