Offensive Sleepers in 2014
2014 “All-Sleeper” Team: Offense
When the NFL Draft gets underway on May 8, fans of all 32 teams will be glued to their televisions to find out what prospect their team will select. First-round draft picks are usually sure things, but the later the draft goes on, the harder it becomes to evaluate talent. The best organizations know how to find the diamond in the rough; the next Tom Brady, Terrell Davis, or Richard Sherman.
QB – Zack Mettenberger, LSU
With a prototypical build, weighing in at 6-5 and 235 pounds, Zack Mettenberger looks like an NFL quarterback. He has a strong arm and good pocket presence, understanding when to utilize a check down route or to throw the ball away, instead of forcing it into coverage. The signal caller is also experienced taking snaps under center in a pro-style offense, despite his tall frame being more suited for shotgun snaps.
His big arm works to his advantage, leading the SEC in yards per completion with 16.1 yards in his senior year. In his second season as a starter, the Georgia native took a big leap forward in his progression, throwing for 3,082 yards, 22 touchdowns, and eight interceptions while completing 64.2% of his passes.
He needs to develop his touch more, knowing when to take advantage of his strong arm and when to take a little bit off on passes. In December of 2013, Mettenberger tore his ACL in a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks, ending his senior season.
Mettenberger also benefitted from throwing to two wide receivers who will likely go in the first two rounds of May’s NFL draft in Oden Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
Also considered: Aaron Murray, Georgia; Brett Smith, Wyoming
RB – James White, Wisconsin
The former Wisconsin Badger compares to Ray Rice in terms of size and weight. Measuring in at 5-9, 204 lbs, White played in a run-heavy offense splitting carries with sophomore Melvin Gordon. While some may view that as a negative, it shows that White is capable of coming off the bench in situations where his skills can be utilized as a change-of-pace back.
In his senior year, White carried the ball 221 times for 1,444 yards and 13 touchdowns, showing sharp cuts and relatively explosive speed. He also caught 39 passes for 300 yards and two more scores.
Where White struggles are in his measurements. He has relatively short arms and small hands, which makes him less of a threat in the passing game. He has questionable strength, which is needed to break tackles at the professional level.
Also considered: Storm Johnson, UCF; James Wilder, Jr., Florida State
WR – Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
The most interesting thing about this prospect is his height. At 6-6 and 225 pounds, Brandon Coleman has the size to be an excellent split end in the NFL. Along with 34-inch arms and a 32.5-inch vertical leap, Coleman provides a massive target for quarterbacks.
A deep threat on every play with deceptively quick strides, Coleman averaged over 19 yards per catch in three years as a starter at Rutgers and tied a school record for career touchdowns with 20. In his senior season, Coleman caught 34 passes for 538 yards and four touchdowns.
However, Coleman is a developmental prospect. Despite putting up 21 reps on the bench press at the combine (second most among receivers), Coleman does not play with the physicality expected of someone with his body. His long legs also cause him to struggle coming back to balls and breaking down on short routes.
Also considered: Cody Latimer, Indiana; Devin Street, Pittsburgh
TE – Crockett Gillmore, Colorado State
Earning first team All-Mountain West honors, the 6-6, 260 lb. tight end out of Colorado State had an impressive senior season. He finished third on the Rams in receptions and yards, catching 47 passes for 577 yards and two touchdowns.
Gillmore is also a talented run blocker, showing good instincts and technique to get a good initial shove off the line of scrimmage.
While his 4.89 second 40 time left much to be desired, Gillmore’s frame and 33.5-inch vertical leap allows him to be best utilized as a red zone target.
Also considered: A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State; Joe Don Duncan, Dixie State
OT – Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt
Setting a Vanderbilt record with 51 career starts, the offensive lineman showed versatility by playing left and right tackle, as well as left guard and center in his career. He shows quick feet and good movement. He is more of a pass blocker than a run blocker, only allowing two sacks in his final two seasons in Nashville.
Johnson would need to put on weight to succeed as an NFL lineman. However, at 6-5 and just under 300 pounds, he has the ability to put on muscle weight. His arms are also a little bit short compared to other NFL tackles at 33 and one-eighth inches, which could hinder him against NFL pass rushers.
Also considered: Seantrel Henderson, Miami; Charles Leno, Boise State
OG – Dakota Dozier, Furman
An FCS All-American left tackle, Dozier has the skill set to be a dominant NFL interior lineman. The former Furman Paladin is an excellent athlete; aggressive off the snap and a furious blocker. Dozier played well against FBS competition in out of conference games in his career, notably against LSU in his senior season.
A bit of a raw prospect, Dozier does not possess elite footwork and has gotten by on athleticism over technique at lower levels. He also has a habit of overextending his reach, which can lead to whiffed blocks. However, the right system and coaching staff will likely be able to correct his flaws.
Also considered: Cyril Richardson, Baylor; Anthony Steen, Alabama
C – Jonotthan Harrison, Florida
Starting in every game back to his sophomore year, Harrison’s most well-known highlight came last season when he blocked teammate Quinton Dunbar on a run against FCS Georgia Southern; a play that still tops ESPN’s “Worst of the Worst” list.
Playing with great agility for his size (6-3, 304 lbs.), Harrison is able to consistently get leverage against tackles and generate movement in run blocking. He is also good at anchoring his weight in pass protection to protect his quarterback from A-gap blitzes.
Despite this, he has a habit for letting quicker linemen get across his face and only has average recovery skills to make up for it. His speed also raises questions about his ability to cut off linebackers at the second level.
He is also a little bit prone to holding, and would need a good coach to break him of that habit.
Also considered: Bryan Stork, Florida State; Weston Richburg, Colorado State
The NFL Draft is the most important event for NFL teams to address their roster’s needs. Scouting is relatively easy for blue-chip prospects, but it becomes more and more difficult as the rounds pass. A prospect that can contribute on the field drafted in a later round is just as valuable as a first-rounder. Finding a prospect in later rounds gives them even more value, drafting when value is low and making the most out of an investment.
Kristopher Rogers is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.