2022 NFL Draft Sleepers: Two Florida WRs flying under the radar in strong class

A pair of 2022 NFL Draft sleepers made waves for the Florida offense in Week 7 -- but they're not the only ones who deserve recognition.

Another week of college football has passed, and with it came a slew of standout performances from players who are proving they belong. Having witnessed the action, let’s pick out our next 11-man roster of 2022 NFL Draft sleepers! Who makes the list heading into Week 8?

2022 NFL Draft Sleepers: Week 8

Before we get into our next batch of sleepers, make sure you check out last week’s group if you didn’t get the chance. That group was headlined by a pair of Big Ten standouts in Nicholas Petit-Frere and David Ojabo. This week, a pair of Florida receivers lead the pack, followed by a talented group of defensive players.

Florida WR Jacob Copeland

There are a select few high-profile Power Five schools that dominate the recruiting cycle. But when coaching sours at those schools, sometimes high-level talent can go underdeveloped or under-utilized.

That’s the situation that’s arisen at Florida in 2021. The offense has been inconsistent, both due to coaching and quarterback play. But two receivers are shining through — most notably, Jacob Copeland.

Copeland flashed as a reserve receiver in 2019 and 2020 but still hasn’t picked up the dominant workload coveted from early-round prospects. Still, Copeland has made the most of his opportunities. He currently has 23 catches for 423 yards and 4 touchdowns in seven games.

The Florida WR’s talent is clear. He ran a 4.44 and had a 37.4-inch vertical out of high school. He’s also shown to use coordination at the catch point and amass yards after the catch with elusiveness and contact balance.

The 6’0″, 202-pound playmaker has been buried by yet another strong receiver class. But despite his average production, Copeland’s a player who could go on to be a much better pro.

Florida WR Justin Shorter

Justin Shorter doesn’t feel like a sleeper because he started his collegiate career as one of the most prestigious players at his position. Shorter was a top-10 recruit and consensus five-star prospect when he originally signed with Penn State. But since then, his career has been largely unspectacular. He flamed out at Penn State, transferred to Florida, and people forgot about him.

Now, however, it’s time to remember Shorter. Listed at 6’5″, 228 pounds, Shorter had a 4.52 40-yard dash and a 34.2-inch vertical out of high school. He’s an athletic freak and coming off perhaps the best game of his career — a 6-reception, 113-yard, 2-touchdown outing against LSU.

In that game, Shorter showed off downfield ability as well as fast feet and crisp lateral agility as a route runner. He’s always had the name recognition, but now, he might have the legitimacy as a draft prospect as well.

Tennessee DT Matthew Butler

The interior defensive line class appears underwhelming on the surface, but there may be a few gems underneath that surface. Tennessee’s Matthew Butler is one of them. A fifth-year senior for the Volunteers, Butler is currently embarking on a career year. In just seven games, he already has career highs in both tackles for loss (5) and sacks (3). It’s taken a while for Butler to break out, but his traits easily catch the eye now that he has.

Butler stands at 6’4″, 295 pounds, and has great proportional length and power. His explosiveness also stands out, as Butler is consistently quicker off the snap than his teammates. He had a 5.11 40-yard dash and a 32.5-inch vertical out of high school, so it comes as no surprise. He can work on stacking counters more often, but Butler has the physical tools to be one of the top defensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Pittsburgh OT Carter Warren

Last week, we spotlighted a pass catcher who’s benefited from Kenny Pickett‘s emergence. Now, it’s time to give some love to one of the players who’s kept Pickett clean: OT Carter Warren.

A redshirt senior, Warren has been Pitt’s best offensive lineman this year, and the discrepancy is easy to see on film. Warren has elite length and great frame density at 6’5″, 315 pounds, and his extensions are incredibly violent. He has great grip strength as well and moves well laterally. He doesn’t have much buzz, but Warren has starting upside if he can clean up his lower body mechanics.

Purdue LB Jalen Graham

Jalen Graham was a player who caught my eye earlier in the season. He measures in a bit light at 6’3″, 220 pounds, but his frame is surprisingly filled out, and he flashes physicality, instincts, and short-range explosiveness. Now, the long, versatile Boilermakers defender is coming off a standout performance in a surprise win against Iowa.

A versatile high-motor player, Graham has immense coverage upside — and he’s also shown he can stand tall in run defense. He can improve his efficiency of motion, but Graham has tantalizing potential in the modern NFL.

Texas OLB Ovie Oghoufo

The 2021 EDGE class is stacked. On the surface, there might not be room for a player like Ovie Oghoufo to break through. Nevertheless, the Texas defender has some intriguing traits.

Oghoufo is somewhat reminiscent of Joseph Ossai pre-breakout. Although he’s a bit smaller than Ossai, he’s versatile and just as explosive off the snap. He’s also shown he can employ rushing moves while bending around the corner. A former Notre Dame commit, Oghoufo has the pedigree and talent to potentially break out.

Louisiana DT Zi’Yon Hill

The Sun Belt isn’t as talent-dense as the SEC, but that lower talent floor can provide a good opportunity for skilled players to stand out and boost their stock. That’s what Louisiana’s Zi’Yon Hill may have done this season. Standing at 6’1″, 283 pounds, Hill has 26 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble this year. Hill has near-elite proportional length for his shorter frame, and he also shows off exciting twitch and energy on pass-rushing reps.

Syracuse DL Cody Roscoe

One interior defensive lineman wasn’t enough (neither was two). This week, we’re giving you three 2022 NFL Draft sleepers on the interior defensive line, closing it out with Syracuse defensive lineman Cody Roscoe.

Like Hill, Roscoe is a smaller defensive lineman at 6’1″, 275 pounds. He can line up in multiple spots, and his hot motor is translatable all across the front. Roscoe is having a monster season, with 7.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss in seven games. He has a ton of juice off the line and some sneaky flexibility.

San Diego State S Trenton Thompson

He’s a sixth-year senior with a season-ending leg injury on his record. Thus, Trenton Thompson is likely a late-round pick at best. But no one can deny that the San Diego State safety has been balling out this year. Over the past two weeks, Thompson has 2 picks and 5 deflections. In fact, 1 of those picks and 3 of those breakups came this past week against San Jose State. Through it all, Thompson has flashed athleticism and impressive ball skills.

Thompson is up to 8 deflections on the year in six games played, and he’s one of the top defensive playmakers in college football.

2022 NFL Draft sleepers at the FCS level

Here are the FCS prospects to keep your eye on.

Nicholls State WR Dai’Jean Dixon

If you find yourself parsing the FCS for potential 2022 NFL Draft sleepers, it won’t take you long to come across Nicholls State WR Dai’Jean Dixon. With 51 receptions, 747 yards, and 6 touchdowns in six games this year, Dixon is one of the most productive playmakers at his level. Having had the opportunity to watch some of his film recently, it’s clear he has some talent.

Dixon is listed at 6’4″, 200 pounds, and he’s a phenomenal vertical athlete for his size. He has enough explosiveness to stack defenders as well as rise up for high passes. He sometimes has trouble losing focus at the catch point, but all the physical traits are there for him to be a dynamic NFL weapon. Dixon could rise up big boards through the offseason.

Montana State EDGE Daniel Hardy

If you’re an FCS prospect looking to make a name for yourself as an NFL Draft sleeper, here’s a helpful tip — give everything you got. If you need an example to follow, look at Montana State’s Daniel Hardy. At 6’3″, 223 pounds, Hardy is a bit undersized by traditional EDGE standards. But he has good proportional length, solid get-off, and his motor runs hot all the way to the whistle.

Hardy’s motor is evident in his production. So far this year, Hardy has 13 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 3 deflections, and a forced fumble in seven games. He’s been dominant across the 2021 season, and that domination — bred by his all-out energy — could earn him a few extra looks when the 2022 NFL Draft cycle rolls around.

Ian Cummings is a Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and his voice and face on Pro Football Network Daily. Follow him on Twitter @ian_cummings_9.

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