NFL Draft 2011: Quan Sturdivant and 5 Third-Round Sleepers

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NFL Draft 2011: Quan Sturdivant and 5 Third-Round Sleepers
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

As I mentioned in yesterday’s look at possible Round 2 sleepers in this year’s NFL draft, part of the problem with predicting later-round draft picks is that you never truly know the mindset of each individual team.

Some teams might have a player like Dontay Moch rated as I had him yesterday (a second-round pick), but others would pass on him until the fifth or sixth round.

Along those same lines, predicting a later-round steal becomes doubly difficult because it depends almost as much on the players as the system that he goes to in determining whether or not his value will be that high.

Take Danny Woodhead. Beyond the obvious characteristics that led to him being undervalued (his size and the relative obscurity of his school), he eventually wound up on the Jets.

They were a team that, at that point, had no real need for a running back (being stocked with a combination of Thomas Jones/LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene during Woodhead’s tenure in New York).

Yet when he got to New England, a team stricken with injuries at the running back position, he immediately found a place. On top of that, New England’s offensive versatility suited Woodhead much more than the power running style of the Jets.

It was the system plus the player that created the Danny Woodhead that New Englanders loved last season. Without that perfect combination, he’d still just be an anonymous guy who was trying to make it in the NFL.

Predicting draft picks in the third round is similar. It takes a good environment that’s conducive for the player to develop.

Yet it also takes a good player to develop once he’s in that environment. So off we go with Round 3 sleepers.

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