2014 NFL Draft Sleepers Who'd Fit Perfectly with the Detroit Lions
Since the 2014 NFL draft is a few weeks later than usual, the number of guys who can be labeled as sleepers is dwindling. There's just too much time to fill. It's inevitable that almost every guy will get discussed at some length.
However, that doesn't mean we can't get creative. Not everyone on this list is going to be a late-round pick. In fact, a couple will likely come off the board in the second day.
But they're still sleepers in some way. For our purposes, we are focusing on the guys who aren't getting enough buzz regarding how they would fit with the Detroit Lions.
South Dakota Outside Linebacker Tyler Starr
The new-look Lions defense won't be so reliant on the front four to create pressure. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin's experience with the 3-4 will be blended with Gunther Cunningham's love of the 4-3 to create a scheme that will exploit the best of both worlds.
At least, that's the hope. One obstacle from realizing such a dream is the lack of a pass-rushing linebacker who can keep a defense off balance.
South Dakota's Tyler Starr isn't a finished product, but he can be that guy once he adds strength and technique to his game.
However, his incredible athleticism would translate well to the role the Lions are looking to fill. Starr posted the best three-cone drill time (6.64) of any linebacker at the combine while also posting a solid 4.15 20-yard shuttle score. His quickness and acceleration are exactly the traits that an outside linebacker looking to rush from the edge needs to put an offensive tackle on his heels.
Miami Offensive Tackle Seantrel Henderson
There has been some chatter about the Lions looking for an offensive tackle in the first round. I'm not a huge proponent of taking Taylor Lewan in that spot due to his character concerns, both off and on the field. There are too many better options in the first round to take such an unwarranted risk.
But somewhere further down the trough might be the perfect time to take such a shot in the dark.
Seantrel Henderson finished high school as one of the best prospects in the nation. He responded to that love by getting complacent and looking for a good time instead of putting in hard work.
On the field, it showed. The once and future first-round lock partied his way out of the first two days of the draft, and a poor showing at his pro day left the third day in limbo.
However, there is a lot of talent to be mined under all those emotional concerns. If he can get his priorities in order and learn how to act like a professional athlete, the 6'7", 331-pound tackle could be the steal of the draft.
Besides, the Lions return every starter from a unit that finished as the one of the best in the league. They have time.
Georgia Tech Defensive End Jeremiah Attaochu
Don't worry, I know offensive tackles are boring, so we'll spend the rest of the slideshow breaking down guys with an explosive element. It's more fun for everybody that way.
First on that list for a reason is defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu. A healthy buzz is starting to grow around the kid, and it's easy to see why.
Attaochu blazed his way to a 4.59 40-yard dash and has the sudden quickness needed to burst by offensive tackles. While he lacks traditional 4-3 defensive-end size at 6'3" and 251 pounds, there is room for more bulk on his lanky frame without having to sacrifice his natural ability to blow by guys.
As was covered in the Starr slide, Austin will be looking for non-traditional ways to create pressure. Attaochu can contribute immediately in this area and on special teams while getting stronger and learning under defensive-line guru Kris Kocurek.
Louisville Defensive End Marcus Smith
Checking in at identical size to Attaochu is Louisville defensive end Marcus Smith. Just like the Georgia Tech prospect, Smith's 4.68 40 proves he's a guy with enough speed to create havoc in the backfield.
In the NFL, where every down is a passing down, a guy who racked up 14.5 sacks last season can certainly carve out a role. Smith also needs to get stronger but can make a living as a special teamer and situational rotation player for the time being.
Smith doesn't have the same initial burst as Attaochu, but he is better in a technical sense. He can use his hands and has a more polished repertoire of pass-rushing moves. Plus, he understands the importance of attacking the ball instead of just the man.
Tennessee-Martin Wide Receiver Jeremy Butler
The Lions have a tendency to favor wide receivers with height. In the later rounds of the draft or even in free agency, they might find the man who fits exactly that profile in Jeremy Butler.
There are always worries about a player who didn't play in a major conference. Yet, it's hard to imagine too many teams overlooking his 6'3", 224-pound frame.
Butler isn't the explosive playmaker who will burn guys off the line, but his ability to track deep passes and occasionally break a tackle is evident by the accompanying video. Plus, his knack for finding the soft spots in the zone and creating a big target would do well with Matthew Stafford's habit of overthrowing receivers.