2021 NFL Draft Third-Day Sleepers

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2021 NFL Draft Day-Three Sleepers

Published April 26, 2021.
By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

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 Day 3 who could be draft-day steals. Two years ago, some picks included Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin – Washington – and Kentucky running back Bennie Snell Jr. – Steelers. Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson – Rams – and Georgia guard Solomon Kindley – Dolphins – were listed here last year and then had solid rookie seasons.

Jaelen Darden, WR, North Texas
Darden could be a third-day steal in the 2021 NFL Draft, as he is a fast and shifty receiver with a nose for the end zone. Darden produced an excellent senior season by catching 74 passes for 1,190 yards and 19 touchdowns. He could be a Cole Beasley-type slot receiver for the NFL. If Darden (5-8, 174) weren’t so undersized, he would be a second-day pick in the 2021 NFL Draft given his ability to get open and move the chains.

Tamorrion Terry, WR, Florida State
Terry looked like a potential first-round pick this time a year ago because of his superb 2019 season for Florida State, recording 44 receptions for 892 yards and eight scores. He played well in 2018 as well, and throughout his time at Florida State, Terry was constrained by the Seminoles lacking consistent play out of their quarterback, offensive line, and rushing attack. Terry (6-4, 203) has some speed to get downfield and mismatch size. It would not shock me if he ends up being a really nice value and turns into a quality starter.

Trevon Grimes, WR, Florida
At most schools, Grimes would have been the No. 1 receiver and could have produced a huge senior year. But at Florida, he was the third option because the Gators had a generational tight end in Kyle Pitts and an explosive playmaking No. 1 receiver in Kadarius Toney. Grimes flashed as a senior, showing mismatch size and an ability to make some big plays downfield. He got the better of Patrick Surtain in the SEC Championship Game and succeeded against other good SEC defensive backs who will play on Sundays. With his skill set, Grimes could also be a special teams contributor. I think he could be a nice value pick in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Tre’ McKitty, TE, Georgia
My opinion along with some other scouts I’ve spoken with is that there are only two mismatch receiving tight ends for the 2021 NFL Draft: Gators star Kyle Pitts and Georgia’s McKitty. For the NFL, McKitty is a solid receiving tight end who could be a valuable contributor and a mismatch problem for defense. McKitty (6-4, 247) is a good athlete with the speed to generate separation from coverage. He has a nice burst out of his breaks to create space from defenders and get open for his quarterback. McKitty has nice twitch for a tight end off his size and second-gear quickness. He does a nice job of working the middle seam, slants, and is capable along the sideline. With his surprising speed, he can challenge defenses vertically running down the seam or along the sideline. If McKitty gets to the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, he is going to be a steal.

Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida
Slaton reminds me of D.J. Reader coming out of Clemson. Reader ended up being a steal for former Texans general manager Rick Smith, as Reader became one of the top nose tackles in the NFL after being selected in the fifth round. I think Slaton has similar potential because he is big, thick, quick and athletic for his size. Slaton (6-5, 343) is a load at the point of attack to get a push upfield and hold his ground as a run defender. He will never put up big sack numbers, but he could help free up edge rushers and linebackers while serving as a tough run defender.

Richard LeCounte, S, Georgia
LeCounte (5-11, 190) does not have great size and speed, but he is a solid football player who produced a lot of big plays for the Bulldogs over the last two seasons. In 2019, which was his last full season, LeCounte totaled 61 tackles, four interceptions, three passes defended and two forced fumbles while providing steady coverage deep down the field. I think LeCounte willi at least be a good backup and special teams contributor in the NFL, but he could exceed expectations and become a starter.

Paris Ford, S, Pittsburgh
Ford was one of the nation’s best safeties over the past two seasons and is an instinctive force in the middle of the field. In pass coverage, Ford excels in zone. He covers a ton of ground and uses his instincts to disrupt passing lanes. Ford does a nice job of breaking up contested catches by going for the ball rather than taking out the receiver. He shows impressive ball skills for a physical safety and is a threat to create turnovers. Ford is a superb run defender who comes downhill or flies to the perimeter to make tackles, showing zero hesitancy to get physical. If it weren’t for major character concerns, Ford would be an early-round pick. As it stands, he probably will slide to Day 3, but if he can stay out of trouble, Ford could be a major steal from the 2021 NFL Draft.

2021 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Offense | 2021 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Defense
2021 NFL Draft Potential Busts: Offense | 2021 NFL Draft Potential Busts: Defense
2021 NFL Draft Day-Three Sleepers

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