Every year players slip through the cracks of the NFL draft and out-shine their draft slot. Here are five potential sleepers for the 2018 class.
Without fail there will be rookies entering the NFL that were drafted in the later rounds and become contributors for their team. Last year second round pick Alvin Kamara won rookie of the year for the New Orleans Saints. Other players like Desmond King and Carl Lawson were big time players for their team. All three were not first round picks.
Predicting the players that will become major players for their teams is a tough challenge. This is a list of five players that are likely going to be drafted after day one. These talented prospects have the potential to be this years’ sleepers.
Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forest
One of the most valuable and special traits of athletes the play the safety position is the capability to play single high coverage. Being the last line of defense and a center fielder can dictate the entire defense. Jesse Bates of Wake Forest is one of the few players in this draft class that has that capability.
Bates is an ascending player, improving every year. The coaching staff asked more of him every time he stepped on the field and he answered. His best football is ahead of him. The 6-foot-1, 200 pound safety only played two seasons in college, both as a productive member of Wake’s secondary. Bates’ first season as a starter saw him gather five interceptions, among the national leaders.
There are holes to his game, which is why he is being discussed as a second or third round pick rather than a first rounder. Despite those holes, the skills he brings to the table are more than enough to qualify him as a sleeper in this class. He is a great athlete on the second level who possesses quick feet and loose hips. During his time in college he excelled in both man and zone coverage. Bates was also not afraid to mix it up in the run game, evident by his 100-plus tackle seasons each of the last two years.
Whatever team drafts Bates will have a safety who can control the entire back-end. He may need a season to add strength but will contribute immediately on special teams and sub-packages.