Throughout NFL history, there have been steals in mid- to late rounds of the draft. Some of these players are backups for a few seasons before earning starting roles and excelling. This article picks out some potential sleepers for the third day of the NFL Draft who could be draft-day steals.
Javarius Leamon, OT, South Carolina State
Leamon really impressed scouts in 2016. Sources say that Leamon is athletic with an above-average ability to anchor against bull rushers. He is a little finesse and will need to improve his strength for the NFL, but team evaluators feel he has the potential to grow into starting left tackle. At 6-foot-7, 322 pounds with long arms, Leamon is a very good athlete with tons of developmental upside. He could be similar to Terron Armstead as a small-school player who ends up developing into a good NFL starter.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International
In a typical draft, Smith would probably be a third-round pick and one of the top receiving tight ends in the draft class. The 2017 class, however, is loaded with tight end talent, so Smith will probably slip to the third day. The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder is fast and athletic. He could be a real mismatch weapon against linebackers and safeties. Scouting sources from across the league have compared Smith to the Bills' Charles Clay. Thus, Smith could be a real steal on the final day of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Darius English, OLB, South Carolina
As a late-round sleeper pick, I think English could be a nice value as a DPR - designated pass rush - contributor in a 3-4 defense while playing outside linebacker. In 2016, English totaled 60 tackles with 13 for a loss, nine sacks, one pass batted and two forced fumbles. He has good length and can put pressure on the quarterback, but is undersized and lean for the NFL. If he develops in a NFL strength and conditioning program, he could be a nice value pick.
Brenden Langley, CB, Lamar
Langley really impressed me at the Senior Bowl with his size, speed and athleticism. In Mobile, he did an excellent job of running with receivers and preventing separation. Following that performance, he ran faster than expected at the combine with a time of 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Langley also put together an impressive senior season for Lamar with 43 tackles, seven passes broken up and six interceptions. He could sneak into the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft, but on Day 3, I think he could be a sleeper steal for some team.
Sojourn Shelton, CB, Wisconsin
Shelton (5-9, 178) is an undersized corner, yet he really does an excellent job of running with his receives and preventing separation. To close out his senior year, Shelton had a really nice game covering and limiting Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis. While Shelton doesn't have the size to be an outside corner, I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up being a steal as a late-rounder or undrafted free agent who competes as a nickel cornerback.
Fish Smithson, S, Kansas
Smithson could slide late in the 2017 NFL Draft because he is undersized, but he has tremendous instincts and was an impressive defender on tape over the past two seasons. In 2016, Smithson totaled 93 tackles with seven passes broken up, four interceptions and two forced fumbles. He led the nation with 7.9 solo tackles per game in 2015 on 87 solo tackles. He totaled 111 stops with two interceptions, five passes broken up and one forced fumble on the year. I could see Smithson being a player who ends up being a steal because he is so instinctive that he makes up for a lesser skill set.