Every new NFL draft cycle brings a wave of discovery, and that discovery process never truly ends. There are always new sleepers to unearth and add to the watch list, and this preseason 2023 NFL Draft All-Sleeper Team perfectly represents that. Which prospects deserve more hype than what they’re getting at this point?
2023 NFL Draft All-Sleeper Team: Offense
In the last cycle, sleepers emerged at more than one position on offense. Kenny Pickett, already an intriguing mid-round prospect, had a career year and leveraged it into a Round 1 selection. Zion Johnson and Ikem Ekwonu also rode dominant campaigns to first-round landing spots, and countless others went on to dot the Day 2 and Day 3 ranks. Below, you’ll find the top 2023 NFL Draft sleepers on offense, as well as the links to the full lists.
NC State QB Devin Leary: The 2023 NFL Draft QB class is wide open after C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young. A passer who needs more love in the second tier is Devin Leary. Leary might not be elite in any area, but he has a good arm, solid mobility, and excellent poise, especially in clutch moments. He’s a candidate to play his way into early-round territory.
UAB RB DeWayne McBride: UAB’s DeWayne McBride is one of the most efficient running backs in the nation. Last season, he put up 1,371 yards and 13 touchdowns on 205 attempts, averaging 6.7 yards per attempt. While he’s not much of a receiving threat, his mix of burst, contact balance, and physicality on the ground is very appealing.
Central Michigan RB Lew Nichols III: Even after earning 1,848 yards and 16 scores on 341 carries in 2021, Lew Nichols III falls under the radar. He could be a value deal in the 2023 NFL Draft. At 5’10”, 220 pounds, he’s well-leveraged and extremely dense. He not only has burst but also the creative instincts to navigate through congestion.
Virginia WR Dontayvion Wicks: There aren’t many receivers in college football put together quite like Dontayvion Wicks. He’s 6’1″, 206 pounds, with arms that will likely measure over 33″. He brings length, density, explosiveness, and natural body control and is a tremendous match for the three-level threat definition.
Michigan State WR Jayden Reed: Jayden Reed doesn’t quite have the physical makeup that Wicks does, but he’s a formidable three-level threat in his own right. He’s not an elite size threat at 6’0″, 185 pounds, but he brings great speed and burst, excellent catching instincts, slippery RAC ability, and toughness as a blocker. He’s the full package.
Stanford WR Elijah Higgins: Treylon Burks enamored onlookers with his physical profile in the 2022 cycle. Elijah Higgins should garner similar respect, at least for his size. He’s a massive 6’3″, 235-pound pass catcher with excellent length and conversion ability at the catch point. If he can expand his route tree, look out.
Stanford TE Benjamin Yurosek: Higgins isn’t the only Stanford pass catcher worth keeping an eye on. Benjamin Yurosek is also an underrated player at his position. Yurosek is noticeably underweight, but he’s an explosive, light-footed athlete whose high-level coordination and ball-tracking ability help to compensate.
Baylor TE Ben Sims: There will always be a place in the NFL for tight ends who can do a little bit of everything. That’s Baylor TE Ben Sims in the 2023 NFL Draft. Sims might not be elite anywhere, but at 6’4″, 253 pounds, he’s well-sized, methodical as a route runner, and highly competitive in both phases.
Syracuse OT Matthew Bergeron: In a wide open tackle class, sleepers could ultimately emerge as bona fide early-round prospects. Matthew Bergeron is a candidate to follow that path. He has great size at 6’5″, 327 pounds, but is also a phenomenal short-area athlete with grip strength, power, and active hand usage.
Tennessee OT Darnell Wright: Were this All-Sleeper Team to be put together in real life, Darnell Wright would have added value as a tackle with experience on both sides. But his impact goes far beyond versatility. Wright is a massive, dominating specimen with the upper-body torque and elite power capacity to be an early-round pick.
Utah G Sataoa Laumea: The Utah Utes have a severely underrated guard prospect in Sataoa Laumea. Laumea brings a good combination of athleticism, hip fluidity, play strength, and power to the fold, and he maximizes those traits with steady leverage and technique.
Kentucky G Kenneth Horsey: The Wildcats had two linemen selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, while a third signed as a UDFA. Kenneth Horsey will be the next in a long line of Kentucky players to make the leap. Horsey is alluring because of his combination of natural leverage and elite proportional length, but his character will only help his cause.
Wisconsin C Joe Tippmann: With so much returning talent at center, Wisconsin’s Joe Tippmann sometimes falls under the radar. But Tippmann should eventually make his name known on the 2023 NFL Draft stage. He’s athletic, powerful, and tenacious and has very good leverage acquisition for a 6’6″, 320-pound blocker.
2023 NFL Draft All-Sleeper Team: Defense
Prospects like Aidan Hutchinson, Devin Lloyd, and Devonte Wyatt were considered sleepers very early on in the 2022 NFL Draft cycle. As we’ve seen countless times before, early sleepers can go on to become bona fide early-round contenders. Which defensive 2023 NFL Draft prospects have that potential this cycle? Here’s the All-Sleeper Team on the defensive side, complete with links to the full positional lists.
Oregon DT Brandon Dorlus: Odd and hybrid-front teams will likely circle Brandon Dorlus early in their evaluations. The Ducks defender constantly popped on film while I watched Kayvon Thibodeaux, and he now has a chance to make a name for himself. At 6’3″, 285 pounds, Dorlus is an alignment-versatile lineman with surprising power capacity.
Miami DT Akheem Mesidor: The “twitched-up ball of energy” mold is a fun one at DT. Several 2023 NFL Draft prospects fit this mold, including Miami’s Akheem Mesidor. At 6’2″, 272 pounds, he doesn’t have the size of other DTs. But he’s extremely dense and well-leveraged, and his explosiveness and high-energy style only compound his appeal.
Army EDGE Andre Carter II: Andre Carter is becoming a known commodity in the draft community. But there’s still some room for catching up in the general media. You don’t often find a 6’7″, 265-pound edge rusher as quick and flexible as Carter. He has room to keep refining his hand usage, but the tools are early-round quality, without a doubt.
Missouri EDGE Isaiah McGuire: Isaiah McGuire looks like a prospect who can explode with another strong year. He’s a long, high-mass EDGE at 6’4″, 272 pounds. With that frame, he brings great strength and power capacity, but he’s also explosive and shows off eye-catching ankle flexion around the apex. His rip moves can be devastating.
Purdue LB Jalen Graham: The modern linebacker is here, and he looks like Jalen Graham. Trenton Simpson will deservedly get first-round hype, but Graham is another hybrid with tantalizing potential in the right place. Listed at a compact 6’3″, 220 pounds, Graham can cover from the slot or crash the box with force.
Tennessee LB Jeremy Banks: The early success of Nick Bolton will have evaluators looking for the next compact, instinctive linebacker to be the glue of their second-level units. Jeremy Banks is a candidate to fill that archetype in the 2023 NFL Draft. A former RB, he’s a bit undersized. But he’s a rangy tackling machine who’s progressing quickly.
Duke LB Shaka Heyward: Prospects with versatility will always be coveted on the defensive side of the ball. That’s something that Shaka Heyward especially brings to the table. The 6’3″, 240-pound linebacker can play in space, but he’s also effective on the blitz and as an extra edge setter against the run. His size makes him very unique.
Syracuse CB Garrett Williams: If you’re looking for a CB who makes an impact on the ground and in the air, Garrett Williams is your man. The 6’0″, 189-pound Williams has the high-level ball skills and competitive focus to make plays at the catch point. But he’s also an extremely tenacious run support defender with superb burst and tackling ability.
Miami CB Tyrique Stevenson: Cam Smith would have been on this list, but he’s quickly become a mainstream early-round prospect. In his place is Miami’s Tyrique Stevenson. Stevenson’s talent is alluring. He’s 6’0″, 214 pounds, with long arms and elite explosiveness. But he’s also surprisingly fluid, disciplined, and sound with his technique.
Marshall DB Micah Abraham: It takes a top performer to stand out in the MAC. That’s what Micah Abraham is. As a true junior in 2021, he put up a pick and 14 pass deflections. Abraham is noticeably underweight, but he’s long, plays low in his stance, and can quickly turn and run with receivers. And his production on the ball speaks for itself.
Florida S Rashad Torrence II: Entering his first year of eligibility, Rashad Torrence is already an exciting prospect with his projection. The 6’0″, 205-pound Torrence has a strong frame with excellent short-area twitch and fluidity, and when he presses the throttle, he’s off. He’s also shown he can manage space in deep coverage and enforce downhill.
Missouri S Jaylon Carlies: Missouri has more than one defender worth keeping an eye on in the 2023 NFL Draft. Beyond McGuire, they also have safety Jaylon Carlies, who could be a sleeping giant at the position. Carlies is 6’3″, 204 pounds, with awesome length. He’s a force in the box, but he also shows off range and playmaking ability in coverage.
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