2013 NFL Draft: 10 Prospects That Experts Are Sleeping on
The 2013 NFL draft is only a couple weeks away, and I'm here to serve as your alarm clock since people are sleeping on several players that deserve more attention.
Seriously, wake up. If you don't catch on soon, the draft will come and go without the proper respect being paid to some undervalued prospects.
You've undoubtedly heard of some of the guys on this list, but that doesn't mean they are being evaluated correctly or talking about enough.
Click through to find some of the hidden gems in this year's class.
All statistics regarding combine results and physical attributes are courtesy of NFL.com.
Conner Vernon, Wide Receiver
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
At this point, if you've been reading my draft articles for a while, you know I have a man crush on Conner Vernon. He could be the next uber-productive receiver that no one saw coming.
He doesn't have the measurables that NFL teams covet such as speed (4.68 40-yard dash) and height (6'1"), but he catches everything.
He finished his college career as the all-time ACC leader in receptions and receiving yards. He caught my eye at the Senior Bowl by bringing in everything thrown his way.
Vernon isn't the sexiest pick in this draft, but he might be the most consistent receiver available.
Le'Veon Bell, Running Back
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Another slide, another reason to yell at me. In the interest of full disclosure, my interest in Le'Veon Bell piqued because he played for my alma mater.
But don't let that fool you. This kid can play at the next level.
He's a big back (6'1", 230 pounds) that runs angry, and is not a believer in the theory that his position take the most punishment in football. No, his playing style lends itself to the belief that running backs are supposed to dish out the most pain.
And Bell is much more than just a bruiser. He can catch the ball too (78 career catches) and make plays in space. Whoever grabs the former Spartan will be pleasantly surprised with his ability.
Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, Defensive End
Cornellius Carradine NFL Player Comparison
Cornellius "Tank" Carradine is starting to make some noise among experts, and B/R's own Matt Miller is leading the charge. He has Carradine going at No. 15 to the New Orleans Saints to help them transition to a 3-4 defense.
Carradine is an extremely talented pass-rusher who has everything general managers should be looking for: size, speed and power. Unfortunately, his 11 sacks in 2012 will be remembered on draft day just as much as his torn ACL suffered in late November.
Expect to hear more about Carradine over the next two weeks.
Michael Hill, Running Back
Photo via StJosephPost.com
Finding Division II players capable of contributing to a winning NFL roster is akin to panning for gold. You keep straining out pounds of river bottom in the hopes of finding that one shining nugget.
The 2013 version of that nugget is Missouri Western State's Michael Hill.
Hill has a Ray Rice-like bowling ball structure at about 5'10" tall, but he packs over 200 pounds onto his frame that is considered too small for the NFL.
He also has the burst to find a home next season. He had 12 carries at the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic and streaked to 148 yards with two scores.
Kawann Short, Defensive Tackle
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This pick is similar to the "Tank" Carradine selection. Yes, both guys are expected to get drafted in the first two or three rounds, but that grade is simply too low.
Kawann Short was a force on a Purdue team that lacked anybody to complement him. But with all the attention focused solely on him, he still found ways to make plays (15.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks).
Short has the girth (308 pounds) to play the interior and the agility to pierce pockets. Let him hit the weight room and fill out a little further, and he'll be a playable NFL nose tackle.
Corey Lemonier, Defensive End
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How often does a SEC player fly under the radar? The amount of media attention that is paid to the owners of the last seven national titles makes it an extremely rare occurrence.
Well, Auburn's Corey Lemonier is Halley's Comet. It doesn't come around often, but when it does, it’s a memorable experience.
Lemonier is fast (4.6 40-yard dash) and loves to get after the quarterback. He has a few things to work on, but his long arms and classic pass-rushing build will get at least one general manager to bite.
Datone Jones, Defensive End
Datone Jones NFL Player Comparison
I know what you're thinking: "We all know who Datone Jones is, dude. You didn't unearth a sleeper."
In the most conventional sense, Jones isn't a guy who will come out of nowhere. But he is being overlooked and often dismissed when discussing this year's crop of pass-rushers.
The UCLA stud is thick enough (283 pounds) to hold his own along the line, with great agility (4.32 20-yard shuttle). He isn't a freak athlete like Dion Jordan or Ezekiel Ansah, but he's a complete player. He deserves to go higher than he is currently being projected in most circles.
Quinton Patton, Wide Receiver
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This one is the most defensible overlooked player on the list. There are a plethora of comparable receivers available in this draft, so Quinton Patton getting lost in the shuffle is understandable.
But that doesn't make it right.
Patton was as prolific as any wideout in the country, bringing in 183 receptions for 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns in just two years at Louisiana Tech.
Yes, he wasn't in the SEC, but this is an NFL receiver. Maybe everyone is hung up on his minus-five yards rushing in 2012, because I don’t understand what else it could be.
Phillip Thomas, Safety
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I thought about putting Jonathan Cyprien in this spot, but everyone has caught on to the small-school sensation by now. However, those same experts are still ignoring Phillip Thomas.
The safety from Fresno State has had trouble penetrating top-five lists despite his impressive repertoire of skills. He's an athletic safety who has all the natural attributes of a football player.
He won't wow you in any one aspect of the game, but he commands all of his tools with the confidence of a Thorpe Award finalist.
Knile Davis, Running Back
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That's right: We've got another comet.
Knile Davis' disappearing act the last two years has wiped out the perception that he has an NFL future. His 2012 output (112 carries and 3.4-yard average) has left a stain on his draft image that I thought the combine would erase.
Davis showed up healthy and strong, racking up 31 repetitions on the bench and blazing to a 4.37 40-yard dash time. Why he still isn't getting much buzz is beyond me.
Watch tape from 2010; this kid can play the game. He runs tough and can make plays out of the backfield in the passing game. He just needs a chance.