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The biggest “Sleepers” in the 2021 NFL Draft (Offense)

Some lesser known offensive players who could make a splash in the 2021 NFL Draft.

NCAA Football: UL Lafayette at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

We all love the flashy names in the early rounds of the draft, but many people undermine the value of Day 3 of the draft. As of 2018, 56% of NFL rosters were made of Day 3 picks and undrafted free agents. While all of us enjoy the superstars on Day 1 and 2, let’s remember that Day 3 is very important as well.

Today, we are going to look at some of the potential stars that will most likely be available on Day 3. Running back always has intriguing names on Day 3, but there is some serious Day 3 talent at other positions as well. The Steelers will not be able to address every team need in the first two days, which means that they will need to hit on a couple Day 3 picks if they want to go into the season with no major holes on the roster.

The players listed below are prospects that I think the Steelers should consider on Day 3. Be sure to share your thoughts on the prospects you think the Steelers should consider on Day 3 in the comment section.

Let’s take a look at some players that are flying under the radar but could be potential steals if they fall to Day 3, or even undrafted free agency.


Quarterback

Jackson Erdmann — St. John’s

There is nothing to get excited about at the quarterback position on day three, but if you wanted to take a shot on someone who will likely go undrafted, look no further than Jackson Erdmann. He obviously did not play against stout competition, but he is a dual-threat quarterback who has a nice arm and displays good downfield accuracy. I doubt that he ever becomes a starter, but he may be able to develop into a solid backup at some point.


Running Backs

Elijah Mitchell — Louisiana

There have been a long line of successful day three running backs in the NFL, and Mitchell could very well be the next one in that line. Mitchell was splitting time with Trey Ragas in 2020, but he was clearly the more explosive back, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. He weighed in at 201 pounds at his pro day, but he played between 215 and 220 pounds. That weight was likely lost in effort to run a fast 40 (ran a 4.38), but I have no doubt that he is going to put that weight back on once he is in the NFL.

Mitchell does a great job of breaking tackles in the open field, and he has reliable hands as a receiver out of the backfield. He also shows willingness and effort as a blocker, which is something that the Steelers value in running backs. Below is his tape against a stout Iowa State defense. Mitchell turned in a terrific performance until he was knocked out of the game with four minutes to go on a play that should have been targeting. I encourage you to check it out. There are also some highlights of him below that are worth a look. The first play on the highlight reel was a thing of beauty. Don’t you love watching running backs bulldoze defenders?

Deon Jackson — Duke

Jackson is an explosive runner who has a nice blend of speed and power. The only major flaw in his game is ball security, as he was accounted with five fumbles last season. That is the main reason why I would be a bit hesitant to draft him. However, he would be more than worth the risk if he goes undrafted. The guy has 4.4 speed at about 220 pounds, and he is a reliable receiver and pass blocker. If he can learn to secure the ball, he could be a nice running back down the line.


Other sleepers at running back: Gary Brightwell (Arizona), Jah Maine-Martin (North Carolina A&T), Gerrid Doaks (Cincinnati), Jake Funk (Maryland), Kene Nwangwu (Iowa State)


Wide Receiver

Simi Fehoko — Stanford

Fehoko was highly touted coming out of high school, and he finally began to break out during the PAC-12’s shortened season. Fehoko is similar to Chase Claypool athletically, but there are a few minor differences. Fehoko is slightly faster and a slightly better route-runner, but Claypool is a little bigger, has better hands, and can high-point the ball better. I expect this guy to go early day three, but if he were to drop to round six, the Steelers should definitely consider taking him. Here is his tape against UCLA, the game where he went off for 230 yards. It is worth noting, however, that he had two easy drops in that game as well. You will see the good here, but there were a few negatives in the game as well.

T.J. Vasher — Texas Tech

Vasher has some injury concerns, but he is another talented receiver who can get vertical. At 6-6, 215 pounds, Vasher could afford to add some muscle to his lanky frame, but he is solid in contested catch situations and is a solid route-runner for a receiver his size. He generally displays good hands, and his wiggle allows him to make things happen after the catch. I understand that the injuries are concerning, but as a sixth or seventh round pick, he is more than worth the risk.

Other sleepers at wide receiver: Racey McMath (LSU), Jacob Harris (UCF)


Tight End

Brock Wright — Notre Dame

You are probably familiar with Tommy Tremble, but there is another Notre Dame tight end who has some intrigue as well. Brock Wright was buried on the depth chart behind Cole Kmet in 2019 and then Tommy Tremble and Michael Mayer in 2020. Wright is a good in-line blocker, but not many people are aware of his athleticism. At Notre Dame’s pro day, Wright ran a 4.62 in the 40, a 4.25 in the 20 yard shuttle, a 7.27 in the 3-cone drill, and did 26 reps on the bench. Wright was actually rated higher than Tremble coming out of high school, but he was not used much in the passing game, accounting for only 7 receptions in his collegiate career. However, all indications seem to point to Wright having reliable hands. His athleticism makes me think that he is capable of doing at the NFL level, but his elite blocking by itself makes him worthy of late day three consideration. Wright is also well-respected in the locker room. If he can reach his full potential, he has a chance of becoming a low-end starter down the line.

Miller Forristall — Alabama

The Steelers did well with another tight end named Miller. Forristall did not test as well as I thought he would athletically, but he is a good blocking tight end with reliable hands. He was more of an H-back at Alabama, but he has the versatility to line up just about anywhere. There is a chance he may even become a fullback in the NFL. He needs to add some weight, but he is an incredibly tough player who will play through the whistle. There are also some injury concerns with Forristall, but I believe he could develop into a nice backup tight end in the NFL if he stays healthy.

Matt Bushman — BYU

This is Pittsblitz56’s guy, and I do not want to steal his thunder, but before Bushman’s achilles injury, he was clearly Zach Wilson’s top target and projected to be a day two pick. Being one of the older prospects in this class and not playing for a year has destroyed his stock, but he should not be pushed aside. Bushman is not a consistent blocker at this point, but he shows good effort and could become better in that department with good coaching. As a receiver, he is a solid route-runner and has reliable hands, but it will be interesting to see if he still has the speed he had before the injury. He will be a hot name in undrafted free agency.

Other sleepers at tight end: Nick Eubanks (Michigan), Quintin Morris (Bowling Green), Shaun Beyer (Iowa), Jack Stoll (Nebraska), Josh Pederson (Louisiana-Monroe)


Offensive Line

Jaylon Moore — OT — Western Michigan

If I am being honest, I like Moore’s tape better than I liked the tape of former Bronco Chukwuma Okorafor. Moore has good mobility and moves with great fluidity, and he has some sneaky power as a run blocker. The big issue he has is lunging and playing over his feet. Although that could cause issues in the NFL, it is a fixable issue. He does a good job winning the battle for leverage in the run game, but he needs to show more effort when he gets to the second level. Nonetheless, potential starters at left tackle are not easy to find on day three. Here is his tape against Toledo. His Senior Bowl highlights can also be seen below.

There are several other tackles that deserve to be recognized as well. Josh Ball from Marshall has some serious off-field concerns, but he has the talent to become a starting left tackle as well. Landon Young went under the radar at Kentucky, but he is a former five-star recruit who tested very well at his pro day, recording a 5.00 in the 40, a 30.5 inch vertical, and 34 reps on the bench. Lastly, Carson Green was a big part of Texas A&M’s offensive line, which was considered one of the top offensive lines in the country. He shows good physicality in the run game and holds up well in pass protection despite his physical limitations.

Other sleepers at offensive line: Kendrick Green (C/G — Illinois), Robert Jones (OT/G — Middle Tennessee)


Which sleepers from this list do you like? Are there any offensive players not mentioned in this article that you think deserve to be recognized? Let me know your favorite offensive sleepers in the comment section below, and stay tuned to Behind the Steel Curtain as we near the biggest event of the NFL offseason.