Every year, hidden gems emerge from the deep parts of draft boards and get picked high on draft day. In 2012, it was Bruce Irvin who snuck into the first round and made a splash with the Seahawks. Last year, multiple players went high but made immediate impacts on their team.
Who will be that player the 2014 NFL Draft? We often talk about sleepers, but who will be picked higher than everyone thinks? Let’s try to project this year’s surprising selections.
Billy Turner, Offensive Tackle, North Dakota State
The need for NFL-caliber offensive tackles may be at an all-time high. While we look at players like Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews to be the studs of the class, we don’t often see FCS players in the mix. Turner, a senior from the FCS National Champions might be the exception.
Turner plays with violence and toughness, an under-rated trait for a starting offensive tackle. Standing tall at 6’5”, the athletic lineman is good on his feet and should be able to thrive in any blocking scheme. Starting the season as an unknown, Turner has risen on many boards and now looks to grade out as a late Day Two, early Day Three pick.
Turner’s best fit would be a team with a competition. He shouldn’t be relied upon to start right away, but he will thrive in a competition setting in Training Camp and pre-season.
Charles Sims, Running Back, West Virginia
You’ll hear a lot about running backs like Carlos Hyde and Bishop Sankey, but Sims is a player you’re going to want to keep an eye on.
Leading the Mountaineers this season, Sims showed the ability to not only be an effective runner, but a pass-catcher as well. He accounted for 14 total touchdowns and 1496 yards.
Sims is a very consistent rusher who has a great burst when he hits the hole. He showed this in his game against William & Mary, one where he ran for 120 yards and a touchdown.
The big-bodied back has great ability and will be looked at as a duel-threat option at the next level. Expect him to get looks in the second day of the NFL Draft.
Corey (Philly) Brown, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
I watched Ohio State games looking to scout players like Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde, but it was often “Philly” Brown that stood out and made me look back at his play higher than other’s on the field.
As a receiver, Brown does the little things right. He needs work with his hands and could use some fine-tuning, but that will come with time. He caught 10 touchdowns this year and was able to put up a very nice 8-116-0 line against Clemson.
Brown will get looks due to his ability to return punts. He showed several times his ability to use great speed and vision to set up good field position for the Buckeyes. In a game where the punt return may be the most exciting play, using a pick on a WR/KR player is very appealing.
Look for Brown to compete in someone’s camp in July.