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    To me, a sleeper is a guy that outperforms his draft ranking. The guy that catches on as Mr. Irrelevant, or the unheralded 6th rounder that goes on to retire as the GOAT. Finding such players is an NFL scout and GM’s job. Being good at it is the realm of just a handful, and it’s the organizations that can find talent in later rounds that often find a way to succeed in the postseason. With that said, here are five guys all ranked to go in round five or later that I think will outperform their 2023 NFL Draft position.

    Riley Moss, CB, Iowa

    6’1, 193 lbs, 4.45 40-yard dash

    Projected 5th to 7th round

    Ranked 13th to start the combine, Moss measured in with the ideal size and showed better than expected speed with a 4.45 in the 40. That goes along with a solid size for the position. A ballhawk with three pick 6s for his college career, Moss is a zone coverage guy who may be worth upgrading to a third or fourth-round pick for the zone-oriented Bears, Cardinals, Giants, or Lions, rather than converting to a traditional Free Safety, as might be the desire of other teams interested in him. 

    Ryan Hayes, O-Line, Michigan

    6’ 6’’, 298 lbs, 32 1/2’’ arm, 1.78 10-yard split

    Projected 6th to 7th round

    Though he finished with a 40 right between Top-3 OT Peter Skronski and likely 1st-round OG Steve Avila, Hayes’ combine performance was considered just average – please – dude was a two-year starter at left tackle for a unit that won consecutive Joe Moore Awards for the best OL in the nation. He’s downgraded because his short arms mean he’ll need to switch to OG in the NFL, but scouts get paid to find these guys and Hayes has not been hiding. He’s an easy backup right away with a path to starting in Year 2. I can see round four or five in an O looking for interior pass protection for a drop-back passer.

    Braeden Daniels, O-Line, Utah

    6’4”, 294 lbs, 33” arms, 1.71 10-yard split

    Projected 6th to 7th round

    Tied for second among all O-linemen with a 1.71 10-yard split at the NFL Combine, Daniels allowed only 5 sacks in almost 1,400 pass-blocking snaps during his collegiate career. That makes Daniels the rare lineman who can both protect the passer and who has the motor to pull to the edge and lead block. He will need to move to the interior at the next level, hurting his draft grade much like Michigan’s Ryan Hayes, but Daniels is very well-equipped for the transition. I would not be surprised to see him go in the fourth or fifth round to a team looking for value at the OG.

    AP Photo/Darron Cummings

    Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia

    5’11, 192 lbs, 28 ⅞” arms, 4.67 40-yard dash

    Projected 6th round to UDFA

    Ranked between QB#7 and QB#12 depending on who you’re reading, Bennett is an undersized but mobile quarterback, from a winning, pro-style offense. He was a finalist for the Heisman and won the Burlsworth Trophy as the nation’s top walk-on player. Bennett is linked to the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree and exhibits the playmaking tendencies that the system of offense is predicated upon. The risk on the crocodile-armed Bennett is using a draft pick to take him as your QB3, then either having to cut him or not having a place to stash him on your practice squad come the regular season, and getting nothing in return. The upside is: the dude knows how to win. Maybe someone will gamble on that.

    Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princeton

    6’3”, 205 lbs, 4.43 40-yard dash

    Projected 7th round or UDFA

    Ranked as low as the #40 WR on some draft boards, Iosivas showcased his exceptional track and field athleticism in Indy, finishing with a 4.43 40, and tied for 5th in the vertical jump. While a top-notch runner and leaper, the Princeton man needs to work on his route running and hands and must learn to run after the catch with physicality. He’s worth a pick in round 6 or 7 for a team seeking athletic playmakers and special teams contributors, otherwise he will probably get a shot as a priority UDFA for a team seeking an athlete on special teams.

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