NFL 2012 Draft: Top 5 Sleepers

By Michael Stewart
March 05, 2012 10:59 pm
652 Views 6 Comments
Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego St.
Rated as the 8th best Quarterback and projected to be selected in the 4th round. Lindley is a big, strong armed QB that can put too much faith in that arm at times. He has very good size, the toughness and willingness to stay in the pocket at the very last second. Lindley can be very erratic at times, but his upside outweighs his downside. With the right coaching, perhaps Lindley can develop at the next level to be a more consistent Quarterback.
Darrell Scott, RB, South Florida
Rated as the 26th best Running Back and projected to be selected in the 7th round or perhaps unsigned. Talent is not an issue for Scott; he has great size at 6'1 230lbs, runs hard on every carry. Scott has surprising speed once he gets going, but needs to work on his mental toughness. If everything checks out and he shows some added maturity, Scott has the skills to develop into a contributor at the NFL level.
Malik Jackson, DE, Tennessee
Rated as the 13th best Defensive End and projected to be selected in the 4th round. Jackson transferred out of USC after the school was hit with countless violations from the NCAA; which restricted USC to participate in bowl games. Jackson transferred to Tennessee and spent most of his time playing DT for the Vols. This limited his ability to make a name for himself as a DE prospect; which is why he is projected a 4th round draft pick. Jackson will never be a big play threat, but he is a better pass rusher than he's given credit for and his all around skills give him the ability to play at the NFL level.

Akiem Hicks, DT, Regina
Rated as the 15th best Defensive Tackle and projected to be selected in either the 4th or 5th round.  Hick’s has also shown scouts that he could play the outside edge (DE) as well. At 6’5 and weighing 318 pounds, Hicks best time in the 40 yard dash was an astounding 4.98 seconds. With a wing span of 84 inches, scouts feel that Hicks has only begun to show his potential and have labeled him a project. Given the right situation and coaching, Hicks could emerge as a dominant Defensive Linemen in the next 2-3 years.
Ryan Steed, CB, Furman
Rated as the 19th best Cornerback, and projected to be selected in the 4th round. Steed is another small school guy that could surprise some people. He has the natural athleticism, quick feet, and hips to turn and run with receivers. Steed has shown the ability to be a big play machine with 14 career picks and has displayed some toughness and physicality. All the tools are there for Steed to make a name for himself in the NFL. He probably will not hear his name called until the fourth round, but he will be a player that outperforms some of the guys drafted ahead of him.

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By Michael Stewart
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3 years ago
Good pick with Hicks. I featured him in my defensive sleepers article. I love his size and athleticism. I think he needs to develop his fundamentals but, if you can get him in the sixth round, it's well worth the risk.
3 years ago

Thanks, There's something about Hicks that keeps me reading more and more about him. Hicks began his college career at Sacramento Community College. He then enrolled at LSU as a junior college transfer, but was ruled ineligible because of alleged recruiting violations, and ended up at Regina. I've seen lots of video on him and he reminds me of Jason Pierre-Paul when he's running because he has such long arms. I'm not implying that he is the same type of player as JPP, just similar in running style. Would love to see the Giants draft him in the 5th or 6th round.
3 years ago

Out of curiosity, do you think the lack of NFL-caliber competition at Regina is an issue, or do you think he will translate quickly in the pros?
3 years ago

There's no doubt that playing at Ragina will be an issue for Hicks as you mentioned the level of competition he faced. However; keep in mind he was recruited by LSU coming out of junior college and his departure from LSU wasn't due to his inability to perform. Hicks is going to need 2-3 years to acclumate himself to the speed and talent level of the NFL. Which is why many scouts have him going somewhere between the 5th and 7th rounds and why he's labeled a project. Hicks processes raw ability and with the right coaching and system, I truely believe he can succeed at the NFL level and be a potential Pro Calibur player.
3 years ago
Good choices... what do you think of Emmanuel Acho out of Texas?
3 years ago

linebacker Emmanuel Acho is a quality OLB. I believe he is currently projected a 4th to 5th rounder. I know he had knee surgery and maybe that has put him in those rounds. He could have been on this list as well should he be drafted in the 4th or 5th round, he will make that team very happy. He's a little under sized,but that didn't hurt Jesse Armstead. In fact, Acho reminds me alot of Armstead with his speed and size. Acho could get a little bigger as his frame would suggest, but he plays with an endless motion and could be a steal in the later rounds.

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