2014 NFL Draft: 10 Under-the-Radar Sleepers with Pro Bowl Potential

Scott Carasik@ScottCarasikContributor IIMay 2, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: 10 Under-the-Radar Sleepers with Pro Bowl Potential

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Every year, there are multiple under-the-radar prospects who wind up developing into Pro Bowl players. The 2014 draft will be no different as there is a massive amount of talent in it from top to bottom. There will even be quite a few players who go undrafted who go to Pro Bowls.

    Throughout this season, covering different college football games, a couple of guys really caught my eye. They popped off film despite not being heralded as the best players in the draft or future Hall of Famers. These are just a few guys who really stood out as potential Pro Bowl talents this year.

WR Damian Copeland, Louisville

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    It’s very rare for this many talented receivers to come out in the same year, but 2014 is looking like an epic wide receiver class. Damian Copeland is someone who could have stayed in school and been a second-day pick in 2015.

    But when his coach bailed on the program to go to Texas, he decided it was time to move on. While he may not be drafted as high as his talent level would suggest he should, he will be a solid slot receiver early while he learns the system.

    Projected Selection Range: Round 4-Round 6

    Career Stats

    2013: 13 games played, 58 catches, 780 yards, 5 touchdowns, 3 carries, 21 yards

    2012: 13 games played, 50 catches, 628 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 carry, 3 yards

    2011: Suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the season

    2010: 8 games played, 8 catches, 113 yards, 1 tackle

    2009: Redshirted

    Combine/Pro Day Measurements

    Height: 5'11" Weight: 184 pounds

    Arm length: 31.375" Hand measurement: 9.0"

    40-yard dash: 4.50 sec. 10-yard split: 1.50 sec.

    20-yard shuttle: 3.90 sec. Three-cone drill: 6.53 sec. Bench reps: 12 reps

    Vertical jump40.0" Broad jump10'0"

S C.J. Barnett, Ohio State

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    There are always unheralded safety prospects who come out of nowhere and look excellent. They normally play strong safety and fit well into a scheme the way George Wilson, Will Hill, Kam Chancellor or even Robert Lester have. They get protected roles in coverage and are supposed to tackle well.

    C.J. Barnett is a solid coverage corner who excels in run defense. With the right role, he could look very similar to how Wilson looked in both Tennessee and Buffalo. Barnett is intelligent and a leader for the Buckeyes and will be able to translate his off-field effort into on-field success in the pros. 

    Projected Selection Range: Round 6-Undrafted

    Career Stats

    2013: 13 games played, 84 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, 5 pass deflections

    2012: 9 games played, 56 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 6 pass deflections

    2011: 13 games played, 75 tackles, 1.0 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 6 pass deflections, 3 kickoff returns, 61 yards, 1 carry, 4 yards

    2010: 2 games played, 5 tackles, 1 pass deflection, redshirted after two games due to injury

    2009: 8 games played, 4 tackles

    Combine/Pro Day Measurements

    Height6'0" Weight204 pounds

    40-yard dash: 4.63 sec. 10-yard split: 1.67 sec.

    20-yard shuttle: 4.16 sec. Three-cone drill: 6.86 sec. Bench reps22 reps

    Vertical jump37.5" Broad jump10'4"

OT Charles Leno, Boise State

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    Offensive tackles who are laterally agile always tend to perform better in the NFL than those who aren’t. It’s part of how pass blocking works. Offensive tackles who have better-than-average length also do better in pass blocking in the NFL.

    Charles Leno has both. At 6’4", 304 pounds, he has surprisingly long arms (34.375") and understands how to chop his feet quickly enough to perform well as a pass-blocker. If Leno can develop his run blocking to match his pass blocking, he could be a great pro player at left or right tackle.

    Projected Selection Range: Round 3-Round 5

    Career Stats

    201313 games started at left tackle

    2012: 13 games started at left tackle

    2011: 13 games started at right tackle

    2010: 10 games played along the offensive line

    2009: Redshirted


    Combine/Pro Day Measurements

    Height6'4" Weight304 pounds

    Arm length34.375" Hand measurement10.125"

    40-yard dash: 5.25 sec. 10-yard split: 1.81 sec.

    20-yard shuttle: 4.40 sec. Three-cone drill: 7.57 sec. Bench reps21 reps

    Vertical jump31.5" Broad jump9'4"

LB Terrance Bullitt, Texas Tech

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    Offensive coordinators are always looking for ways to find the holes in defenses that are there because of mismatches in personnel. When a defensive coordinator figures out that he needs to try to do the same, guys like Terrance Bullitt will be much more valuable.

    He’s got great size and speed for a linebacker. However, he can cover like a safety and isn’t afraid to hit anyone. He’s a great fit for a multiple-front defense and isn’t afraid to shed blocks. Bullitt is a lot like an unpolished Telvin Smith with more top-end potential.

    Projected Selection Range: Round 6-Undrafted

    Career Stats

    2013: 13 games played, 37 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 1 QB hurry, 9 pass deflections

    2012: 9 games played, 19 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 3 QB hurries, 2 pass deflections

    2011: 12 games played, 56 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 1 QB hurry, 1 fumble forced, 4 pass deflections, 1 blocked kick

    2010: 11 games played, 23 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1 fumble forced, 1 pass deflection

    2009: Redshirted


    Combine/Pro Day Measurements

    Height6'3" Weight230 pounds

    40-yard dash: 4.53 sec. 10-yard split: 1.58 sec.

    20-yard shuttle: 4.18 sec. Three-cone drill: 6.75 sec. Bench reps14 reps

    Vertical jump40.0" Broad jump10'3"

RB Kapri Bibbs, Colorado State

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    When it comes to running backs, the guy with the least amount of wear and tear is always the one who makes the longest impact for his NFL team. Kapri Bibbs has very little wear and tear on him and can also score from anywhere on the field. On top of that, he’s tough as nails.

    He’s played with turf toe and been great averaging well over six yards per carry. More important than that is his ability to gain three or four yards on a regular basis before knocking one out of the park. Teams love guys who can set up 2nd-and-6 or 3rd-and-3 more than the big-play guys after many one-yard runs.

    Projected Selection Range: Round 4-Round 6

    Career Stats

    2013: 14 games played, 281 carries, 1,741 yards, 31 touchdowns, 8 catches, 59 yards, 3 tackles

    2012Played at Front Range Community College in Ft. Collins, Colorado

    2011: Redshirted at Front Range Community College in Ft. Collins, Colorado


    Combine/Pro Day Measurements

    Height5'9" Weight212 pounds

    Arm length31.375" Hand measurement8.5"

    40-yard dash: 4.54 sec. 10-yard split: 1.53 sec.

    20-yard shuttle: 4.61 sec. Three-cone drill: 7.50 sec. Bench reps24 reps

    Vertical jump29.0" Broad jump8'10"

CB Ricardo Allen, Purdue

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    Nickel cornerbacks are in high demand in the NFL. So are playmaking cornerbacks. Ricardo Allen could project well as a nickel, but his best role is to be the second-best cornerback on his own team. It would allow him to get targeted a lot.

    That would then allow him to make a ton of plays similar to what Brent Grimes used to do in Atlanta. He’s a true ball hawk, and if he can learn how to be more patient when he diagnoses routes and throws, he could be dangerous in the NFL.

    Projected Selection Range: Round 5-Round 7

    Career Stats

    2013: 12 games played, 53 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks, 6 interceptions, 1 fumble forced, 3 pass deflections

    2012: 13 games played, 45 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 1 interception, 4 pass deflections, 1 defensive touchdown

    2011: 13 games played, 79 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble forced, 4 pass deflections, 1 blocked kick, 1 defensive touchdown, 1 punt return, 7 yards

    2010: 12 games played, 73 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 3 interceptions, 4 pass deflections, 2 defensive touchdowns

    Combine/Pro Day Measurements

    Height5'9" Weight187 pounds

    Arm length30" Hand measurement9.25"

    40-yard dash: 4.51 sec. 10-yard split: 1.59 sec.

    20-yard shuttle: 4.15 sec. Three-cone drill: 6.90 sec. Bench reps13 reps

    Vertical jump37.0" Broad jump10'0"

TE Blake Annen, Cincinnati

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    Blake Annen is a tight end who has all the potential in the world if a team would just teach him how to play tight end and not the role he played at Cincinnati. He was completely misused as an H-back whose main job was to block over half the time.

    NFL teams should be focusing more on his raw ability as a receiver and natural athleticism. He could end up looking like Antonio Gates if given the right opportunity. He has great speed and size, and if he can learn the receiving aspects, he would be scary for the right offense. 

    Projected Selection Range: Round 6-Undrafted

    Career Stats

    2013: 13 games played, 16 catches, 183 yards, 2 touchdowns

    2012: 10 games played, 1 catch, 2 yards

    2011: 10 games played, 2 catches, 33 yards

    2010: No stats available

    2009: Redshirted


    Combine/Pro Day Measurements

    Height6'4" Weight247 pounds

    40-yard dash: 4.41 sec. 10-yard split: 1.61 sec.

    20-yard shuttle: 4.30 sec. Three-cone drill: 7.19 sec. Bench reps25 reps

    Vertical jump34.0" Broad jump10'0"

DL Kona Schwenke, Notre Dame

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    Kona Schwenke might have been primarily a reserve in the four years he spent at Notre Dame, but don’t let that affect your view of his talent. Schwenke is an ideal fit for a 3-4 team that likes quick penetrators over edge-setting pluggers.

    He could also provide a ton of value as a 3-technique under tackle in a 4-3 front. Schwenke reminds me a lot of Rod Coleman. He just needs the right coach and scheme, and he could be a seven- or eight-sack guy who is playing solid run defense.

    Projected Selection Range: Round 6-Undrafted

    Career Stats

    2013: 12 games played, 23 tackles, 0.5 tackles for Loss, 0.5 sacks, 1 QB hurry

    2012: 11 games played, 5 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 0.5 sacks

    2011: 3 games played

    2010: 4 games played, 2 tackles, 1 QB hurry

    Combine/Pro Day Measurements

    Height6'4" Weight285 pounds

    40-yard dash: 4.94 sec. 10-yard split: 1.64 sec.

    20-yard shuttle: 4.49 sec. Three-cone drill: 7.19 sec. Bench reps27 reps

    Vertical jump29.0" Broad jump: 9'0"

QB Brett Smith, Wyoming

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    Want a franchise quarterback and not have to spend a first-round pick to get one? Then take Brett Smith in the second or third round and let him sit and develop behind a guy for a season or two. Smith has all the tools every quarterback in the NFL needs.

    He just needs to learn how to adjust to a pro scheme and play behind a line that understands how to block. His line in college was awful, but he still found a way to make it work. If he gets the right situation in the pros, he could be the Tony Romo or Tom Brady of this class.

    Projected Selection Range: Round 3-Round 5

    Career Stats

    2013: 12 games played, 293-of-468 (62.6 percent), 3,375 yards, 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 124 carries, 571 yards, 4 touchdowns, 3 tackles

    2012: 10 games played, 205-of-330 (62.1 percent), 2,832 yards, 27 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 114 carries, 248 yards, 6 touchdowns, 1 catch, 10 yards, 1 tackle

    2011: 13 games played, 253-of-415 (61.0 percent), 2,622 yards, 20 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 139 carries, 710 yards, 10 touchdowns, 2 catches, 17 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 tackles


    Combine/Pro Day Measurements

    Height6'1.75" Weight206 pounds

    40-yard dash: 4.59 sec. 10-yard split: 1.61 sec.

    20-yard shuttle: 4.18 sec. Three-cone drill: 6.98 sec. Bench reps18 reps

    Vertical jump31.0" Broad jump: 10'8"

DE/OLB/FB Nikita Whitlock, Wake Forest

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    In the NFL, rushing the passer is just as important as stopping the run is. That’s where Nikita Whitlock’s talent really comes in. Sure, he played nose tackle in college and would consistently get swallowed by double-teams, but he projects better to linebacker or defensive end in the pros.

    In the right scheme, Whitlock could easily be the next Elvis Dumvervil. He’s undersized but intelligent and plays with a fight that few show. If there’s a guy in this year’s draft who could be a statistical leader after going undrafted, it’d be Whitlock.

    Projected Selection Range: Round 6-Undrafted

    Career Stats

    2013: 12 games played, 82 tackles, 18.0 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks, 7 QB hurries, 2 fumbles forced, 3 pass deflections, 2 blocked kicks, 1 punt return, 25 yards

    2012: 10 games played, 51 tackles, 5.5 tackles for yoss, 3.0 sacks, 2 QB hurries

    2011: 13 games played, 64 tackles, 14.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 3 QB hurries, 1 fumble forced, 1 pass deflection

    2010: 12 games played, 44 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, 2 QB hurries, 2 fumbles forced, 3 pass deflections

    2009: Redshirted

    Combine/Pro Day Measurements

    Height5'9.75" Weight250 pounds

    40-yard dash: 4.82 sec. 10-yard split: 1.69 sec.

    20-yard shuttle: 4.34 sec. Three-cone drill: 6.91 sec. Bench reps43 reps

    Vertical jump33.0" Broad jump9'0"

    All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All combine and pro day info is courtesy NFL Draft Scout. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.

    Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.


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