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NFL Draft 2011: Andy Dalton and 10 Sleeper Picks Your Owner May Want to Consider

Mike FosterCorrespondent IOctober 8, 2016

NFL Draft 2011: Andy Dalton and 10 Sleeper Picks Your Owner May Want to Consider

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    The 2011 NFL Draft is just two days away, and with each hour gone by comes more and more "certainty" about who's going where, and when.

    Like a broken record, we've already heard who's supposed to be the top player at each position, who's a small school sleeper, etc.

    But, like in every draft, there are players who went from big names to small prospects for reasons we may not understand.

    Some players who were extremely productive in college just don't get the recognition they deserve heading into draft day, and their stock is hurt accordingly.

    Before the NFL owners think they have got it all figured out, here are 10 players who definitely need to be reconsidered by NFL teams before Thursday night rolls around.

Tailback, Da'Rel Scott

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    School: Maryland

    Class: Redshirt Senior

    Career Stats: 430 carries, 2,401 yards rushing, 17 touchdowns

    Why pundits don't like him: 

    Scott struggled in 2009 and 2010 with production and playing time, rushing for just 425 yards and 708 yards in those respective seasons.

    Many quickly forgot about Scott's standout season in 2008, and began focusing on other ACC running backs like Ryan Williams, Montel Harris and David Wilson, leaving Scott as an afterthought during the course of the 2010 college football season. 

     

    Why he's a sleeper:

    Playing time for Scott in his final two seasons overshadowed his mightily productive year in 2008, where he carried for 1,133 of his 2,401 total career rushing yards.

    What scouts might have ignored is the fact he averaged over five yards a carry in the final three years of his tenure with the Terps. His touchdown totals are also skewed because of his time off the field.

    He's an explosive and athletic runner, and ran a nice 4.40 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.  

Cornerback, Shareece Wright

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    School: Southern California

    Class: Redshirt Senior

    Career Stats: 126 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception

    Why pundits don't like him: 

    Wright battled injury in 2008 and missed all of 2009 due to academic issues, completely killing his high profile heading towards the end of his college career and the beginning of his NFL journey.

    He also recorded just one career interception, which doesn't excite anyone looking for playmakers.

     

    Why he's a sleeper:

    Wright was a highly recruited prospect, and highly regarded player in Southern California. Had he played a full career he would have shed more light on his potential for the next level.

    His four career sacks are an impressive statistics, as well as his production as a senior, which included 73 tackles.

    Also, we all should know by now that a lack of interceptions is not necessarily a bad thing. Wright's speed and downhill tackling ability could make him a very reliable cornerback at the next level. 

Linebacker, Akeem Dent

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    School: Georgia

    Class: Redshirt Senior

    Career Stats: 233 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 5 sacks

    Why pundits don't like him:

    Dent is simply an afterthought. He was a one-hit wonder in a defense that was vastly overlooked, on a team that won only six games and therefore never received much positive attention from the national media.

    He isn't a freak of nature, nor was he even the most highly regarded talent coming into Georgia.

     

    Why he's a sleeper:

    In 2010, Dent defined production. He had 122 tackles in his senior season, including 66 solo.

    He also recorded at least 10 tackles in seven games during 2010. He has good size, and can get bigger, but nothing can downplay how consistent he was during the course of his final year Between the Hedges. 

Tight End (H-Back), D.J. Williams

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    School: Arkansas

    Class: Senior

    Career Stats: 149 receptions, 1,831 yards, 10 touchdowns

    Why pundits don't like him:

    At 6'2", 245 pounds, Williams definitely doesn't look the part of a prototypical NFL tight end. He might be four inches short of today's gold standard.

    He's also not seen as a player who can be a solidified blocker, which worries most NFL teams that run conventional offenses.

     

    Why he's a sleeper:

    D.J. Williams was a big-time playmaker for the Hogs through the course of his collegiate tenure. He had his best season in 2008, in Bobby Petrino's first year guiding the offense, with 699 receiving yards on 58 receptions. He nearly matched that feat with his production this past fall, going for 627 yards as a senior.

    Williams may not be a conventional blocking tight end, but the NFL's offensive schemes are trending in more liberal directions.

    Williams could definitely fit into an offense like Atlanta's or Green Bay's, as well as others which like to utilize mismatches from the backfield. H-back is likely Williams' place at the next level.

Receiver, Greg Little

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    School: North Carolina

    Class: Senior

    Career Stats: 86 receptions, 969 yards, 6 touchdowns

    Why pundits don't like him:

    Apparently Greg Little's character is a major red flag, which seems to be the case for nearly all of the North Carolina players who enter this year's NFL draft following major suspensions and/or dismissals from the team in 2010.

    Whether you want to believe Little is malicious or not is your choice, but it's also evident that his absence from team activities not only hurt his image but also the statistics that fuel pundits' excitement.

     

    Why he's a sleeper:

    Watch this man's tape. Five minutes spent looking up Greg Little's name on YouTube is likely all it will take to for you to fall in love with this guy. He's an aggressive and physically imposing receiver with outstanding hands and playmaking ability.

    His large frame helps with his confidence and influence over the middle, but he possesses the ability to make plays on the perimeter as well.

    His career statistics come nowhere close to doing justice. As long as he can't get in trouble for talking to NFL scouts at the next level (which he can't), he will bud into a star player in the coming years.


Cornerback, Davon House

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    School: New Mexico State

    Class: Senior

    Career stats: 202 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 11 interceptions

    Why pundits don't like him:

    It's not that pundits don't like Davon House. In fact, he's really not ranked that low on most NFL Draft boards.

    The problem is that House comes from one of the worst teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, especially when it comes to defensive production. Therefore, not a lot of people were chattering about him before the draft season rolled around.

     

    Why he's a steal:

    For one, we know some big name cornerbacks like Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara, Jimmy Smith and more are going to be taken before House.

    Team need at cornerback is usually perceived to be relatively high during drafts, which means House likely won't be sitting in the draft room during the seventh round.

    But, he's still underrated. At 6'0", 200 pounds, House is a good-sized corner. His interceptions totals definitely look nice as well.

Running Back, Evan Royster

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    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    School: Penn State

    Class: Redshirt Senior

    Career stats: 686 carries, 3,932 yards, 29 touchdowns

    Why pundits don't like him:

    Royster was never a flashy runner in college, and he definitely didn't add flair to his outfit with a slow 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine.

    His yards per carry average also dropped from 6.5 in 2008 to 4.9 in 2010, giving many reason to believe that the offensive line was the pivotal aspect of Royster's success. 

     

    Why he's a slepper:

    Well, give him an offensive line, and you have a productive running game, do you not? It's hard to imagine why so many dislike Royster, ranking him way back in most draft boards.

    His consistent production through the course of his career cannot be ignored, as he will leave as Penn State's all-time leading rusher.

Quarterback, Andy Dalton

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    School: Texas Christian

    Class: Redshirt Senior

    Career stats: 10,314 passing yards, 71 touchdown passes

    Why pundits don't like him:

    It's simple. Dalton isn't 6'5", he doesn't have a cannon arm or insane running ability.

    With prospects like Cameron Newton, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett (who look like they were created a football player yielding laboratory) it's hard to rank Dalton as a high draft pick.

     

    Why he's a steal:

    Anytime you can get a quarterback who consistently threw for around 2,500 yards for four straight years, you're getting a solid player.

    Dalton exemplifies consistency, and improved as a passer in terms of overall efficiency drastically from his freshman year to his senior year.

    He's also the most proven winner of the bunch.

Receiver, Chris Matthews

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    School: Kentucky

    Class: Senior

    Career stats: 93 receptions, 1,279 yards, 12 touchdowns

    Why pundits don't like him:

    Matthews was never really in the spotlight while playing in Lexington, especially considering the overall talent level of receivers in the Southeastern Conference during the past two years.

    What makes Matthews even more unattractive is his lack of production, which is to blame on his transfer from JUCO to Kentucky towards the latter part of his college career.

     

    Why he's a steal:

    Against the names of A.J. Green and Julio Jones, Matthews doesn't make much of a case for himself.

    But, if you isolate his attributes and critique him as his own entity, Matthews starts to look more and more like a top receiving prospect. He's 6'5", 220 pounds, has great hands and good route running ability. 

    Playing with the likes of Randall Cobb, he never was the "star" player in the Wildcat offense, but his 61 catches, 925 yards and nine touchdowns definitely made for a great senior season. Matthews could translate very easily into an NFL roster, and maybe turn some heads while he's at it.

Quarterback, Tyrod Taylor

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    School: Virginia Tech

    Class: Senior

    Career stats: 7,017 passing yards, 44 touchdowns

    Why pundits don't like him:

    Again, like Dalton, Taylor just doesn't measure up as a top, prototype prospect. His past of rather statistically unimpressive seasons might hinder the way scouts perceive him.

    Taylor made a name for himself with extracurricular antics in the backfield, but doesn't have a lot of tape that convinces scouts of his fundamental potential.

     

    Why he's a sleeper:

    Taylor is a playmaker. He's always been viewed that way, and he helped anchor that perception with a 24-touchdown, five-interception year in 2010.

    He never really had a great offensive line either, but still managed to be very productive and exciting during his days with the Hokies.

    His ability to make plays on the run, extend plays, and very good arm strength and deep ball accuracy make him an exciting prospect.

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