NFL Draft 2012: Five Late Round Sleepers

Oct, 15, 2011; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Travis Benjamin (3) on the sidelines in the third quarter at Kenan Stadium. The Hurricanes defeated the Tar Heels 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Every year in the NFL Draft, a handful of gems are found in the later rounds. This year’s class should be no different. Here are some late-round sleepers for the 2012 NFL Draft:

1. Chase Ford TE 6’7 255

Ford disappeared this past season for the Hurricanes. The enormous tight end turned it around in the East West Shrine game making a few tough catches in practice throughout the week, and then made a highlight reel play in the league.

I think if Ford gets good coaching in the league he can make an immediate impact. Ford is built like a house, and is large enough to be a matchup problem for anybody on the field, but still fast enough to be difficult for a linebacker to run with. He is the ultimate seam threat if he goes to a team that can groom him and use him. Remember the last raw 6’7 tight end that came out of Miami? That would be Jimmy Graham.

Ford currently is slated to go in the 6th round.

2. Kaniela Tuipolotu NT 6’0 310

Tuipolotu is built like an ideal nose tackle. At 6’0 he will be low to the ground, and at 310 he has the power to be able to command double teams. While he may not be a top 5 nose tackle, he definitely could develop into a starting caliber player, and at worst a solid rotation guy.

The best part about Tuipolotu is that he might be able to be had as an undrafted free agent.

3. Junior Hemingway WR 6’1 225

Take a look at this guys combine performance, now look at his career stats with Denard Robinson as his QB. How is this guy graded so low!? At 6’1 225 and 4.53 speed Hemingway has the look of an NFL starter. Some team is going to take him between rounds 5-7 and they are going to get a potentially elite WR.

When I watch Hemingway I see a lot of similarities to Anquan Boldin. Similar sized, powerful, and good speed. He also is a pretty good route runner as well. I think the worst case scenario is he becomes a good slot WR.

4. Travis Benjamin WR 5’10 172

My second Miami Hurricane on the list, Benjamin is a true deep threat. Why is he on my list? Because this late in the draft, teams are looking for a skill that they can add to their team right away, that they can develop the rest of the package. Benajmin has legitimate 4.36 speed and plays even faster than that.

Benjamin can come in to a team day 1, and become a situational deep threat as well as potentially take over a teams return game. He doesn’t run the whole route tree, but if developed properly this could be a dangerous player.

Benajmin will be drafted in about the 6th round.

5. Brandon Bolden RB 5’11 222

In 2009 an SEC running back went undrafted, and now he is arguably the best running back in the league. That brings me to Brandon Bolden. Very productive as a junior, he had a setback as a senior, though he showed flashes of returning to old form against Auburn. Bolden is built for the NFL, and if he can stay healthy he may become a solid starter in the league.

He can probably be had in the 6th or 7th round, if not undrafed.

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