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Sleepers in the draft.....


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Here some interesting sleeper prospects

http://www.footballsfuture.com/2006/sleepers.html(very good draft webpage)

There are five defensive prospects among my top sleepers: DT Jesse Mahelona, LB Jon Alston, LB Will Derting, LB Torrance Daniels, and S Pat Watkins.

Tennessee DT Jesse Mahelona is a name well known in college football. After two seasons at Orange Coast(CA) College, Mahelona was one of the elite defensive recruits in the nation. He made an immediate impact on the Vols defensive line with 18.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. He was a Playboy AA entering the season, but like the entire Tennessee program, he had a disappointing season. Mahelona got a lot of attention from opponents and coupled with his lack of refinement kept him out of the action quite a bit. Mahelona is an excellent prospect from a physical standpoint. He has excellent quickness and speed for a tackle, and is very strong. He has shown the ability to dominate at various times, but needs more technique work to make an impact on a consistent basis. If placed in the right system that will harness Mahelona's athletic talents, he could be a standout in the NFL. The talent and toughness is there, he just needs more work to develop his skills.

LB Jon Alston from Stanford isn't your typical linebacker. He's a tad undersized at 6'1 223, and he's got ridiculous speed, clocking a 4.40 40 at the combine in February. With those measurables, you would immediately think safety, but Alston has been a standout outside linebacker for the Cardinal. He has used that speed and quickness to post 113 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, and 15 sacks over the past two seasons. Alston has the agility and cover ability you would expect of a player with those dimensions, but the sack numbers show he knows how to get to the passer as well. He flies around the football field doing whatever is asked of him, and the result is usually positive. Alston is a linebacker, but with his athletic talent, some teams may view him as a safety. Wherever he plays, he is a playmaker and a name to keep an eye on.

Another Pac-10 linebacker has flown under the radar. Washington State's Will Derting is a football player. That is the only description that does him justice. He is not the biggest, the fastest, or the most athletic, but the guy knows how to play football. Derting's football instincts are second to none. He reads and reacts as quickly as any player in this draft. There are no wasted steps and no hesitation once Derting reads the play. The problem with Derting is his durability. He is a bit undersized for the linebacker position, and is coming off a knee injury that limited his senior season to just six games and only 35 tackles. It is understandable that he only carries a Day Two grade, but if this kid is healthy, he is a guy you will hear a lot about in the NFL.

As deep as this safety class is, Pat Watkins of Florida State may have the most upside of them all. Aside from Vernon Davis, there may not be a better physical specimen in this draft. At the combine in February, Watkins measured up at 6'5 211lbs, ran a 4.42 40, and had a 41" vertical jump. Those numbers are amazing. At that size, and with that jumping ability, he has the potential to be a shutdown performer in the red zone. It will be impossible to throw the ball over the top of Watkins. Watkins is not just a workout wonder. On the field he has shown the ability to cover and come up in run support, and the instincts to diagnose plays. The main flaw in his game is his lack of bulk, as you can see just by looking at him. While he was a very good college player, he never dominated like his talent suggests he should. But the progress he has shown along with his physical talent, he is a player with major potential at the next level.

The token Division II player on this list is Torrance "Tank" Daniels of Harding College. His name is not included just to have a DII player; he is a legitimate talent. Daniels is one of the more versatile defenders in this draft. He was a four year starter at rover, playing a hybrid safety/linebacker role. That is quite a feat for a player that is 6'4 245lbs. Not only has he played roles similar to that of a safety and a linebacker, Daniels has also lined up as a defensive end for the Bison. His career numbers show his versatility: 237 tackles, 34 for loss, 18 sacks, seven interceptions, 27 passes defensed, 11 forced fumbles, and five fumble recoveries. On the field, Daniels shows the necessary speed and athleticism to play at the next level. He also did not get the nickname "Tank" for no reason, as he has delivered numerous devastating hits during his four year career. Of course, coming from such a small school, there are concerns about how well he projects to the next level. Talent is not the issue, but the speed and pace of the game are. Tank Daniels is the epitome of a developmental prospect. He may not hear his name called in April, but he is a guy that could stick on a practice squad for a year or two, the slowly work his way on to the field, beginning with special teams.


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