2024 NFL Draft Day 3 Sleepers

Brenden Rice

2024 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Offense | 2024 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Defense
2024 NFL Draft Potential Busts | 2024 NFL Draft Day 3 Sleepers

Third-day Sleepers for the 2024 NFL Draft

Throughout NFL history, there have been steals in mid- to late rounds of drafts. 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 of the 2024 NFL Draft who could turn out to be draft-day steals.

Ray Davis, RB, Kentucky

The 5-foot-8, 220-pound Davis has a lot of talent evaluators who like him and are targeting him in mid-rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft. As a runner, Davis is a downhill physical force. He is a true North-South power back who plows over defenders and constantly picks up yards after contact. Thanks to his power and strength, Davis is dangerous in short-yardage and goal-line situations because he is a very physical runner who shows no fear to hit the hole with authority. Davis does a fantastic job of keeping his legs churning after contact. He is a decisive runner who charges downfield and is not one to dance in the backfield. He displays zero hesitation to stick his nose into a scrum and power through the defense to generate positive yardage. As a receiver, Davis does a nice job for a power back. He showed the ability to contribute as a receiver in 2023, generating quality production through route-running and reliable hands. I think Davis could become a three-down starter in the 2024 NFL Draft, and if he ends up as a fourth-round pick, he would be a huge steal.

Ainias Smith, WR, Texas A&M

Smith was a dangerous player in the SEC over the past few seasons, but inconsistent and revolving quarterbacks really hurt Smith’s production. Beyond being quick and sudden, the 5-foot-9, 190-pounder is a slippery route-runner who is a danger who can rip off yards after the catch. Smith possesses quick feet and elusiveness in the open field to weave through defenders to pick up extra yardage. His size probably limits him to the slot, and he suffered a broken leg in 2022. Those factors could all combine to push Smith to Day 3 of the 2024 NFL Draft. At that spot, however, Smith could be a steal.

Brenden Rice, WR, USC

Rice has good size to him, but what separates him from other big wide receivers is some dangerous build-up speed. The 6-foot-2, 208-pounder is fast when he opens it up vertically, and his dangerous speed lets him get deep down the field. After some build-up, Rice has a second gear to accelerate down the field and stretch defenses over the top. He can run by double coverage and create separation from defensive backs by beating them in a vertical race downfield.

Rice’s speed and route-running are impressive for a wideout of his size. He still could use some development for the NFL. While Rice shows some deep speed, he could stand to improve running at top speed on short and intermediate routes. That will help him to generate more separation. Rice does not always play up to his speed, and that is a point of improvement for his pro coaches. Still, he has talent to work with and could end up becoming a third-day steal from the 2024 NFL Draft.

Khyree Jackson, CB, Oregon

There is no doubt that Jackson has a pro skill set with special combination of size and speed. The 6-foot-3, 194-pounder is tall and long, plus possesses some straight-line speed. Jackson also is a gritty competitor who battles receivers with no fear. With the Ducks for his final season of college football, he impressed while recording 34 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions and seven passes broken up.

Off-the-field issues are the main reason Jackson will slide. Those issues caused him to be kicked out of Alabama in 2022, which was his second season with the Crimson Tide after spending four years in the community college ranks. Some NFL team sources said Jackson is a bad dude, but if Jackson can clean up his off-the-field issues and focus on football, the talent is there for him to be a starting-caliber pro.

Jaylin Simpson, S, Auburn

Simpson is a skilled defensive back who has good instincts and is versatile on the back end. He covers a lot of ground on the back end and is a smart defender who displays the route recognition to stay in position to defend the deep part of the field. While with the Tigers, Simpson showed some ball-play ability and the talent to play a variety of concepts. Along with being a capable coverage safety, Simpson is a willing tackler and run defender who also can contribute on special teams.

Simpson will slide in the 2024 NFL Draft because he is skinny. At 6-foot, 179 pounds, he needs to add weight for tackling in the NFL. If Simpson can develop in a pro strength and conditioning over his rookie season, he could turn into a quality starter by the end of his first pro contract.

2024 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Offense | 2024 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Defense
2024 NFL Draft Potential Busts | 2024 NFL Draft Day 3 Sleepers


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