Football

2022 NFL Draft: Top 5 Late-Round Sleepers

Some of the best value players end up coming in the later rounds and predicting who has been a challenge for teams as these are often players who were overlooked or passed on earlier for some reason out of their control. Last year, the 49ers knocked it out of the park with Elijah Mitchell who was taken in the 6th round with the 194th overall pick. In this article, we’ll be looking at the top 5 likely day 3 picks who are sleepers that could end up making a significant impact early on.

#1: Pierre Strong Jr. – Running Back, South Dakota State

Despite battling injuries in the 2021 season, Strong Jr. still came out on top as the #1 rusher in all of the FCS. He had almost 1,700 rushing yards in 2021 and 18 touchdowns on his way to being a Walter Payton Award finalist. At the combine, Strong Jr. put up an incredible athleticism score of 99. Breece Hall was the only other running back to get that score in this year’s class and both are freaks of nature. Strong Jr. got that even after the injuries he’s endured and is being overlooked for simply playing in the FCS. 2 years ago, we saw James Robinson out of Illinois State go undrafted and look how that turned out. Strong Jr. is going to be a massive steal for a team that’s lucky enough to get him. 

#2: Charlie Kolar – Tight End, Iowa State

A two-time finalist for the John Mackey award, Charlie Kolar was a standout tight end for the Cyclones. After not being heavily recruited, Kolar chose Iowa State after missing out on dream school Oklahoma. Kolar is on a mission to prove to them that they made a mistake in not extending him an offer. The Academic Heisman winner has a high football IQ and just needs to use his size to be more physical. Kolar has the measurements to be elite and knows how to get open, but his physicality is lackluster. For a team with an established starting tight end, Kolar could develop under them and potentially take over the starting job in a couple years time. 

#3: Cole Strange – OL, Chattanooga

Another player who dominated at the FCS level was offensive lineman Cole Strange who thrived at Chattanooga. Strange was a tremendous blocker who allowed very few sacks during his 5 years as a starter. During the times that Strange did have to play against tougher competition such as a matchup against Kentucky and in the Senior Bowl, he didn’t let his FCS label get the best of him and stood his own. Strange could work on his techniques, but the athleticism is there and he should make for a nice high-end backup, low-end starter for a team in the later rounds. 

#4: Isaiah Likely, Tight End, Coastal Carolina

Leading all tight ends in receiving touchdowns, Isaiah Likely was a dynamic playmaker in 2021 for Coastal Carolina as he helped lead them to their first bowl win in program history. He did this with over 900 receiving yards on the season after having to go through surgery during the previous offseason. Injuries and a weak strength of schedule for Coastal Carolina is causing Likely to be overlooked, but he’s a true receiver at its core and would make a great addition for a team like Cincinnati or the Giants in need of one. 

#5: Carson Strong, Quarterback, Nevada

Carson Strong’s last name is perfectly fit as he has one of the strongest arms of any quarterback in this class. Strong has a cannon of an arm but doesn’t have the mobility of the other quarterbacks. Strong didn’t have the mobility before his knee surgeries, but now after he’s in a worse spot. Strong’s closest resemblance is to a traditional pocket passer like Matt Ryan or Ben Roethlisberger and would do best on a team with a more stable offensive line to give him the ample time he needs to get the ball anywhere on the field. Hopefully Strong can continue to recover and step up the plate in a year or two after. Once he’s ready, he’ll be a capable NFL starter.

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