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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sleeper Watch: 8 Sleepers for Detroit Lions in 2013 NFL Draft

Zach Rogers, WR, Tennessee- Zach is one of the most intriguing players I've watched. He is relatively small for the outside, 6' 179 pounds, but could transition nicely playing Z receiver at the next level. He started the season fourth on the depth chart behind Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and Da’Rick Rogers, but slowly moved up to the Y slot along with playing Z and O in Tennessee's offense. Former Tennessee head coach and current Dallas Cowboy wide receivers coach had high praise for him in his press conference in October.

"Zach has the greatest consistency of all in how he practices. It reminds me of how Wes Welker was when I was at the Dolphins. He practiced so fast that the quarterback knew exactly were he was gonna be on all his routes."

How come Rogers hasn't received the attention of the others in the receiving core?

"Probably because his stature is not like the other guys. You know, not as long, not as physical that sort of thing. Zach's always been fast, always had a knowledge of the game, he's always had good hands. He's a classic case of a senior playing good football."

Quicker than fast, Rodgers has the speed and quickness you look for in a slot receiver. Possesses great hands, plays bigger than his size when going over the middle of the field, and has the blow by speed running a 4.49-forty yard dash. Anyone a fan of NC States David Amerson, who could potentially be a pick for the Lions on day 2? Check this play out.

"They are definitely keyed in on those guys and they should be," Rogers said. "They deserve all the credit they are getting right now, they are great players. They are getting all of the attention and I am kind of sneaking in behind defenses.”

Sound like a situation he may find himself in if he came to Detroit? Rogers possesses the great work ethic, intangibles, leadership and character you look for in late round picks. Not to mention he has good speed to go with his good hands. If the Lions find him on the open market come April 29th, they should jump at the opportunity to grab him.

Mike Catapano, DE, Princeton- The most intriguing sleeper prospect to date. Catapano is a tank, standing 6'4 with a lean 275 pound frame while running an impressive 4.65-forty yard dash. He reportedly measured in at an incredible 7 foot wingspan as well. In 2012, he posted a stat-line of 12 Sacks, 15.5 TFL and 3 FF which led to him receiving the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. He reportedly trains year round doing MMA training.

Mike Smith who has trained many great NFL defensive ends had this to say about Catapano: "I've trained a lot of great Dl/LB/OLB, Mike Catapano wont take a back seat to anyone in this years draft! He will be special!"

Catapano would be a great addition to the Lions suddenly depleted defensive end core that currently has one player signed. Has terrific upside as well as work ethic and high character.

If you haven't had the chance to check him out, I would encourage you view this.

Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon- Mellette is a receiver just up the Lions ally. He has good size, 6'3 216 pounds, and has plucking hands rather than letting the ball come into his body. Mellette also broke Terrell Hudgins' SoCon record with 1,639 receiving yards in 2011. He could become a terrific compliment to Calvin Johnson if the rest of the league doesn't catch onto this kid.

Kerwynn Williams, RB, Utah State- I've been high on Williams for awhile now, even placing him in my latest Lions mock draft. He has great top end speed, very quick, shows the ability to return kicks if necessary and is great out of the backfield. His receiving skills impressive as he averaged 15.5 yards per catch on 45 receptions, with three of those going for 50+ yards. He amassed over 2100 total yards and scored 20 touchdowns in 2012, while hitting 11 runs of 50+ yard scampers showing his home-run ability. 

General manager Martin Mayhew has said he will address the need for a home run threat in the backfield, Williams just may give that to him.

Ace Sanders, WR, South Carolina-  The Lions need a jolt in their return game and Ace will bring that. Potentially the most explosive player coming out of this years draft, Sanders had 45 receptions and 9 touchdowns last year for the Gamecocks. Standing 5’8 and 170 pounds, Sanders lacks the size to become a future number one receiver in the NFL. However, he brings explosiom amd quickness needed to run the slot. The Lions lacked a true home run threat on offense and in special teams last season, Sanders will bring both. He had 28 punts for 429 yards and two TDs in 2012 leading to his selections first team all-SEC as a punt returner.

Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt- Stacy is an explosive runner. He is the all-time leading rusher in Vanderbilt history with 3,143 yards. He has great lateral quickness and possesses good hands that were more prevalent in 2011. He plays quick in pads and could be just what the Lions need in the backfield as a receiver. He isn't a true home run threat, so drafting him may not be an option. However, if he is left on the market following the draft, the Lions would be smart to bring him in.

Michael Williams, TE, Alabama- Many of you are thinking why would the Lions draft another tight end, Here's why. They seem to be heading towards revamping the offensive line in an effort to become a well balanced offense, unlike last seasons record setting season in which Matthew Stafford set the record for most passes thrown. Williams will help. He is a powerful run blocker who would come in and help right away. His hands aren't great, but he would be a solid upgrade over Will Heller. 

Williams has great size at 6'6, 269 pounds, and was a major catalyst to Alabama's power run game. Won three National Championships and caught 24 catches for 183 yards and 4 touchdowns last season.

Travis Bond, OG, North Carolina-  Bond is ginormous, standing 6'7 weighing 330 pounds. He has great lower body strength and finishes in run blocking. He struggles at times with his feet in pass protection, something many guards struggle early on with. He struggled with his weight in 2011, getting up to 372 pounds, however, he dropped the weight and played at 330 the rest of the season. He is a project the Lions could develop down the rode at Guard with his great size and run blocking ability.