Every fan and analyst is looking to spot the sleepers at this point in the draft cycle. However, there are always late-round picks who flourish, and identifying them can be the difference between a winning and losing franchise.
Those who regularly check betting odds for college football will be familiar with many of the best 2022 NFL Draft sleepers. However, others might not be aware of the names who could be a surprise package when the 2022 regular season gets underway later this year.
It seems like the fanfare surrounding the NFL Draft increases each year. The accessibility of both game replays and statistics makes it more challenging than ever to pick out sleeper picks – teams are spoilt for choice when it comes to data, making it less likely that a player slips through the cracks.
With that said, there are still some potential sleepers in 2022. Here are our five.
Damone Clark, LB
A linebacker out of LSU, Damone Clark has curiously gone under the radar with many high-profile draft scouts thus far.
Clocking almost 250 tackles over the last three seasons, Clark has the quantifiable production to match the eye test. He looks like an NFL linebacker and has received numerous accolades for his attitude and leadership. That combination should make him a success in the professional game – don’t be surprised to see Clark have an impact in 2022, even if he falls to the third or fourth round.
There are bound to be busts in what is a loaded wide receiver class. Also, there are some who have been overshadowed by more accomplished peers when they would usually be receiving a fair bit of buzz themselves.
One such talent is Calvin Austin III out of Memphis. Far from a complete receiver, Austin III is a speedster who must be put into a specific role in the NFL.
While he’s likely no more than a third option, he can be dangerous in that role with the right coaching and quarterback.
Most boards place Marcus Jones outside the top 75. He’s likely a cornerback in the pros but has played as a receiver in college and has repeatedly proven himself as a dangerous returner.
Tied for eighth in pass deflections last season, Jones has the smarts to be an effective corner from day one. As a returner, though, he could well be elite. Wherever he lands, he’s going to transform the special teams game.
The top programs overlooked Leo Chenal as a high school prospect. Physical attributes were cited as holding Chenal back, yet he’s coming off an immensely productive season for Wisconsin and enters the 2022 Draft as one of its most intriguing prospects.
He’s not the perfect prospect, but Chenal has erased some of those athleticism concerns with his performances at the NFL Combine. The mix of a high motor and good skills makes Chenal a potential standout at linebacker.
Switching wideout duties for a tight end, Isaiah Likely is a project player right now. His blocking and route running needs plenty of work, though there’s a foundation for an effective NFL tight end.
Teams will be cautious given the apparent downside here. However, it’s worth noting that Likely put up 912 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns last season and has a knack for the big play. So there’s a scenario where he’s one of the better tight ends in the league within a couple of seasons.