April 28, 2011

There are always surprises throughout the draft's seven rounds, so here are 15 names to remember, some well-known and others true sleepers.

Byron Stingily/T/Louisville: Stingily could well be the biggest sleeper in this year's draft. He offers as much potential as many of the higher rated tackles. Snubbed by the combine, Stingily is an outstanding pass-protecting left tackle who has the footwork and body type to start in the NFL. His recent schedule included more than a dozen pre-draft visits to teams around the league. Stingily is expected to be the first non-combine player selected in the draft, somewhere in round four.

Lance Kendricks/TE/Wisconsin: Kendricks has made a huge jump up draft boards and is benefiting from the poor crop of tight ends available. He's a legitimate downfield threat and scouts say his blocking is very underrated. Kendricks is a top 45 choice; some teams think he could move up into the late part of round one.

James Carpenter/OL/Alabama: Alabama's starting left tackle the past two seasons, Carpenter has a lot of upside. Scouts loved his performances in the postseason and predict he could quickly break into the starting lineup at guard or tackle. He's gone from a third-round choice to a player who could be a surprise pick late in round one.

Greg Salas/WR/Hawaii: Salas is one of the hidden gems at the wide receiver position. He's one of the best route runners in the class and possesses some of the surest hands. Several teams have him graded in the top 50.

Cameron Jordan/DL/California: Jordan has made a late surge up draft boards, and it's easy to see why. After a terrific college career he was nothing short of dominant during the Senior Bowl and performed brilliantly at the combine. He'll end up in the top 10 picks, either to the Dallas Cowboys or Washington Redskins.

JJ Watt/DL/Wisconsin: Teams love the immense potential Watt brings and the ability to use him in a variety of systems. He's a three-down defender who has attracted late interest by a number of teams picking in the top 12.

Danny Watkins/OL/Baylor: Watkins isn't a dominant lineman, but rather a smart, tough prospect who can play any of four positions. Many think Watkins will sneak into one of the final spots in the first round.

Randall Cobb/WR/Kentucky: Cobb has been compared to everyone from Antwaan Randle El to Anquan Boldin based on his versatility and productivity. He has the skills to line up in the slot or on the flanks as a second wideout. The elusive ballhandler is dangerous running after the reception or returning punts. Numerous teams rate Cobb as the third receiver in this year's class. He's expected to be drafted during the opening selections of round two.

Ras-I Dowling/CB/Virginia: Dowling was considered a potential first-round choice before the season but played in just five games as a senior due to assorted leg injures. The consensus in the scouting community two months ago had Dowling dropping out of the top 75. Yet a solid 40 time at the combine was followed up by a sensational pro-day workout. Dowling now looks like a lock in the second round.

Jarvis Jenkins/DL/Clemson: Teams love the versatility Jenkins brings to the field. Defenses that employ a four-man front project Jenkins as a three technique lineman due to his athleticism. Three-four alignments like Jenkins at end because of his size. It adds up to the Clemson senior moving into the draft's top 60 selections.

Jalil Brown/CB/Colorado: Brown was picked on by opposing quarterbacks the past two seasons as teams purposely threw away from his teammate Jimmy Smith. Brown's solid play in 2010 and good pre-draft workouts helped his draft status. The depth at cornerback is thin during the initial 75 selections and teams are now looking at Brown as a potential second-round choice.

Chris Carter/OLB/Fresno State: The college defensive end who most projected to rush linebacker in a three-four alignment is now also getting consideration at weakside linebacker in a conventional defense. Carter's versatility and ability as a three-down defender has pushed him into the third round, a full frame higher than his grade before the combine.

Derek Newton/T/Arkansas State: Initially graded as a sixth-round pick, Newton is projected as a swing lineman who can play guard or tackle on the strong side. Teams love his combination of size (6-feet, 5-inches and 311 pounds) and athleticism (5.0 in the 40). Expect Newton to be off the board somewhere in round four.

Mana Silva/S/Hawaii: Silva was never a blip on the scouting radar before the season, but a terrific senior campaign followed up by a strong pro-day has pushed him into the later rounds. His eight interceptions last season were among the best in the nation. His 40 time of 4.42 during pro-day was almost .2 faster than scouts thought possible. Look for Silva to be selected somewhere in rounds five or six.

Martell Webb/TE/Michigan: An afterthought through most of the draft process, Webb is getting looks in the later rounds by teams needing a blocking tight end. He caught just nine passes the past two seasons, but scouts love the athleticism Webb brings in his 265-pound frame.

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