Top Sleeper: Julius Thomas, TE Portland State
Before you stop and say "who?" and begin to laugh at me, take this into consideration.
He was a walk on to the football team after being a standout college basketball player. With that in mind, let's look at two current NFL TEs; one was a rookie last season and one is an established veteran.
The New Orleans Saints took a bit of a raw athletically talented tight end last season in Jimmy Graham, a former basketball player at "The U". In some dynasty fantasy football circles, some people used a roster spot nearly all season hoping this guy would get some playing time this season. After all, Shockey was getting old, and Drew Brees was at the helm, he seemed poised for a breakout year. It wasn't until week six that he saw the field.
After a rookie season that brought him 356 yards and five touchdowns, he is an up-and-coming young prospect who was drafted in the late rounds of the draft. Some thought he wouldn't even make the roster, and he ended up making believers out of some skeptics.
The other was Antonio Gates, who was a former basketball player at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Like Graham, Gates only played college football for one season but managed to make an impact in that one season. Gates is arguably the best tight end in the National Football League and is one of the great "Cinderella Stories" of the NFL Draft.
This is what gives me hope that someone like Thomas can succeed. He is certainly athletic and has very soft hands, and while not completely involved in the offense, can boast a 15.6 YPC average and two touchdowns in his one season at Portland State.
While the success of those that went before him doesn't necessarily mean that he will be, it certainly is credible to say that he COULD succeed. Any team that spends a pick in day three on this guy has a chance to find a truly talented guy for a low pick. Late round picks are mostly supposed to be low risk-high reward guys anyways, and Thomas certainly fits that criteria.
Best of the Rest:
- Schuylar Oordt, Northern Iowa
- Stephen Skelton, Fordham