2019 NFL Draft: My 10 later-round sleepers who will turn out to be awesome value picks
On Day 3, just about all of these prospects will be available at great value
A whole lot of shiny stars will come off the board in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, which finally begins today at 8 p.m. ET, but you probably already know those players inside and out. Once Round 1 is over, though, there will still be 222 picks to go.
Deep sleepers make the three-day event worth watching on Friday and Saturday, when most of the glamour first-round talents have already taken private owners' jets to their new teams' facilities and had their debut NFL press conferences,
As for the actual draft, you'll be able to stream our live coverage right here on CBS Sports HQ (or download the CBS Sports app for free on any mobile or connected TV device) breaking down all the picks and everything you need to know during draft weekend.
It never, ever hurts a team to hit on a first-round pick, but uncovering a gem later in the draft is a boon to the complex, ever-evolving team-building process.
Here are the prospects I view as the biggest sleepers in the 2019 NFL Draft.
You can check out the entire CBSSports.com aggregate rankings for the 2019 class right here.
Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, Washington
I've been on the conductor of the Burr-Kirven train for months now. He's my LB1, and a top 15 overall prospect on my board. Yes, ahead of Devin White (LB2) and Devin Bush (LB3). Of course, the latter two will be picked well before BBK. This combination means he's my biggest sleeper in this draft class.
The main, consensus dings on BBK are his lack of size, length, and athleticism. At the combine, he measured in at 6-foot-0 with 31 7/8-inch arms. White was 6-0 with 32 1/8-inch arms. Bush was 5-11 with 32-inch arms. Yes, Bush (4.42) and White (4.43) timed faster than Burr-Kirven (4.56), but his 4.56 in the 40 placed him in the 88th percentile among linebackers at the combine over the past 20 years. And these comparisons aren't intended to bash the two Devin's. They're meant to dispel the notions that BBK is too small or isn't long or athletic enough. None of those things are true. White (39.5") and Bush (40.5") bettered the former Washington star in the vertical, Burr-Kirven had better three cone and short shuttle times than both of them.
As for his actual game, Burr-Kirven diagnoses quickly, is an efficient block-shedder and traffic-sifter in the run game, tackles well, and is excellent in coverage thanks to lightning-quick route-recognition skills and the athleticism to close on the football in a hurry.
For the analytics advocates out there (and I'd consider myself one), BBK accounted for 17.4% of Washington's solo tackles and 19.0% of the team's total tackles in 2018. While I don't have a comprehensive tackle share database, I've checked into some hits and busts at the linebacker spot. Between 15% and 20% is outstanding ... and then you have Luke Kuechly who had a 22.5% solo tackle share and a 21.9% total tackle share in his final season at Boston College.
Terronne Prescod, OG, NC State
Prescod started the pre-draft process as my OG1, and after not being invited to the combine then posting sub par figures at the NC State pro day, I've moved him down a bit on my big board while moving a handful of guards in front of him.
But the redshirt senior will finish in my Top 75, considerably higher than the consensus. Most have him an as undrafted talent. While there's a decent chance Prescod isn't drafted, I think he should be.
In my NFL comparison project, I picked Eagles star guard Brandon Brooks as my comparison for Prescod. His pro day occurred after that article was published, and his across-the-board numbers and times were much closer to Mike Iupati than Brooks. As a gigantic, road-grader himself, Iupati is a probably a better comparison for Prescod.
Loaded with experience, the 6-5, 320-plus pounder fared well in the Wolfpack's zone-heavy blocking scheme, a feat in itself given his size. He has vice grips for hands, and while his lateral twitch will be tested against quick one-gappers at the NFL level, he's anchor is outstanding against bull rushes or any type of power move.
David Long, CB, Michigan
My biggest knock on Long's game is his tendency to be overly grabby down the field at times. Then again, over the past two seasons at Michigan, he proved to be a physical, suffocating press man corner. While we're on this topic, please point me to a physical, suffocating press man corner who didn't deserve the "overly grabby" label? He's not quite 5-foot-11, so that, in theory, could be another ding on his game.
But only Deandre Baker -- my CB2 -- was better mirroring receivers downfield, and Long had a ridiculous combine. He ran 4.45 in the 40. His three cone time (6.45) placed him in the 97th percentile at the position. His short shuttle time was in the 87th percentile. Long has elite short-area quickness and solid press man technique.
The teams that want to put their corners on an island on the outside should try to land Greedy Williams ... but if that doesn't materialize, Long has to be a top priority on Day 2. And he's not a sleeper by the traditional definition if he's a second-round pick, but I believe the former Michigan star will outplay his draft position.
Hjalte Froholdt, OL, Arkansas
Froholdt went into the season with a fair amount of hype after flashing while playing next to 2018 first-round pick Frank Ragnow. Following a down year for Arkansas, it was easy to overlook the Denmark native.
He lacks a bit in the length department for the guard or center spot, and he needs more sand in his pants, which is a #FootballGuy term for an offensive lineman who needs to get heavier in order to get more effective against bull rushes.
But Froholdt many times proved to be capable of generating serious torque with his upper body, and his athleticism stands out every game. His three cone and short shuttle times were in the 85th and 83rd percentiles among all offensive linemen at the combine over the past 20 years. Oh, and he started 37 straight games for the Razorbacks. Lastly, he did work against Quinnen Williams' in 2018.
Cortez Broughton, DT, Cincinnati
Watching Broughton two years ago was maddening but illuminating. At nearly 290 pounds, he spent the majority of his time the edge. Strange coaching choice. While he was awkwardly out of position, Broughton flashed impressive bend around the corner.
In 2018, in which he predominantly played inside where he belonged, Broughton exploded for 18.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. No, his hand work isn't Aaron Donaldian. His first step is as dynamic as any defensive tackle in this class not named Ed Oliver, and his hips are extremely fluid, which allows him get to the ball even when he has to change directions.
Here are his pro day figures (he wasn't invited to the combine):
So, Broughton is a plus athlete with a high motor and requisite power to play inside. He will be a steal late in the draft.
Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State
Rypien doesn't have an big, NFL arm, and at times, he looks very immobile inside the pocket. However, he rarely drops his head when facing pressure, has the ability to drift away from it, and is a deft pocket passer who throws accurately to his second and third reads at any level of the field.
As for experience, something I feel is vital for quarterback prospects, Rypien has plenty of it. And then some. He appeared in 50 games for the Broncos. FIFTY! Also, Rypien is keenly aware of his arm-strength limitations and put many anticipation throws on film. He's not afraid to stay aggressive downfield throughout the course of a game, and his deep-ball accuracy is arguably the best in the class. The 6-2 quarterback threw 90 touchdowns and 29 interceptions in his collegiate career, and his completion percentage increased in each of the last three seasons.
I'm assuming Rypien will be on the board on Saturday, and given his accuracy, full-field reading skills, pocket maneuverability, and anticipation throwing capabilities, the Mountain West's all-time leading passer can be a backup as a rookie and has starting upside because the improvements he needs to make are mostly physical.
Chuma Edoga, OT, USC
Edoga is entering the NFL at the ideal time, when the league is pass-happy and likely trending toward becoming pass-obsessed. He's a super talented pass blocker thanks to feather-light feet and long arms he deploys accurately.
At 6'3-1/2" and 306 pounds, Edoga clearly has to gain weight to stay on the edge at the NFL level, and there are probably some offensive line coaches who'll see him listed at 6-3 and automatically hate the idea of him playing tackle in the pros. Back to his long arms ... they're nearly 35 inches long, longer than Jonah Williams, Andre Dillard, Kaleb McGary, Yodny Cajuste, Cody Ford, and Dalton Risner.
Edoga feasts on outside speed rushes and has enough lateral mobility to mirror back to the inside against a counter. Yes, bulking up in the weight room will be important for him against powerful NFL bull rushes. But he's ready to match the speed around the corner that often overwhelms young tackles on Sundays.
Antoine Wesley, WR, Texas Tech
Wesley is generating essentially zero buzz right now, and I'm cool with it. Especially for the sake of this article on sleepers. At a touch over 6'4" and 206 pounds, Wesley obviously has room to add weight to his lanky frame, which will be important for him to do at the NFL level.
On the field though, Wesley did just fine at his lighter weight. The dude catches everything. With his hands. On passes thrown anywhere in his vicinity. He has big mitts and 34-inch arms, which placed him in the 94th percentile among receivers at the combine over the past 20 years.
Despite his sleek frame, Wesley isn't stiff. He certainly plays more smoothly than his disappointing agility drill times at the combine would indicate. He has fluid hips and ankles, which helps a great deal when separating and especially after the catch.
Because he needs to add weight and get stronger, Wesley could be considered a "project," but he's really not. He already has many of the elements needed to play receiver well that can't be coached.
Kerrith Whyte, RB, Florida Atlantic
Devin Singletary, Whyte's teammate at Florida Atlantic, is my RB1 in this draft class. White has an outside chance to ultimately represent better value. Seriously.
Whyte wasn't invited to the combine ... but ran 4.36 at his pro day (yes, add a tenth of a second or so) and had a 42-inch vertical. The 5-10, 197-pound back's film is loaded with big plays that are the byproduct of tremendous twitch through the line of scrimmage, plus contact balance, and shifty cuts through the second and third levels of the defense.
In 2018, behind Singletary, Whyte carried the ball 134 times for 866 yards (6.5 yards per) and caught 10 passes for 160 yards with two receiving scores. He's a dynamic athlete likely available late on Day 3.
Phil Haynes, OG, Wake Forest
Haynes' athleticism popped on tape, and at the combine. At Wake Forest, he was routinely quick to notice and stop stunts or delayed blitzers in their tracks, responsibilities not easily carried out by slower-footed guards, and he made his presence felt as a combo-blocker in short areas. As a puller in space, Haynes can look a little clunky.
At nearly 6'4" and 322 pounds, Haynes impressively timed a 5.20 in the 40 (65th percentile at his position), had a 31-inch vertical (81st percentile), and a 108-inch broad jump (82nd percentile) ... the latter two being excellent signs of elite explosiveness for a man his size.
Haynes also did 31 reps on the bench press, and his strength is easy to spot on film as well, although he's not a true people-mover. He simply blocks what's in front of him. I think Haynes should go somewhere on Day 2, but he'll likely be available on Saturday, and the redshirt senior has the skill set and power to be a reliable, starting guard in the NFL.
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