Football fans across the world got a much-needed break from the current state of affairs in the world as the NFL completed its first-ever, fully virtual NFL Draft. I’ve already broken down every skill-player from the first four rounds, and now I’m going to wrap up this series by giving you my favorite sleepers from the later rounds of the draft. These guys were selected in rounds five-through-seven or signed as undrafted free agents.
Check out my breakdown of previous rounds here:
Round 5, pick 151 – Joe Reed – WR – Los Angeles Chargers
Joe Reed was the first skill-position player selected in the 5th round, as the Chargers scooped up the versatile WR out of Virginia. Reed’s most likely path to playing time as a rookie is on special teams where he will be in the mix to return kicks. He can play out of the slot and is the type of athlete that had teams asking about his willingness to play RB at the next level in the pre-draft process. Reed is worth a look at the end of 4th rounds in rookie drafts.
Round 5, pick 161 – Tyler Johnson – WR – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I had Tyler Johnson pegged as a late 3rd, early 4th round talent so I was shocked to see him slide clear into round five. I believe he is ready to contribute at the NFL level as a WR3 right away, but his path to that level of playing time is definitely clouded in Tampa Bay, as they boast one of the deepest arrays of offensive weapons in the league. Johnson lacks elite speed but makes up for it with his size and body control, routinely finding openings in the zone and boxing-out defenders for contested catches in traffic. I’m a believer in Johnson’s talent, even though he may struggle to climb the depth chart as a rookie. I’m snagging Johnson in the 3rd round of rookie drafts.
Round 5, pick 166 – Quintez Cephus – WR – Detroit Lions
I believe Quintez Cephus is one of the biggest candidates to do next-to-nothing as a rookie before coming out of nowhere to enter the mix as a deep league flex option in year two. Cephus had some off the field issues that kept him on the sidelines for the entirety of the 2018 season, but he came back strong in 2019 to lead the Wisconsin WRs in catches, yards and TDs. I’m intrigued to see how much he can improve in his second year back on the football field. Most of the Lion’s WRs are playing out the season on expiring deals, so there may be room for Cephus to step into a decent-sized role after this year. He definitely needs to clean up certain areas of his game as his footwork and lack of deception can prevent him from creating separation on his routes at times, but he showed enough for me to be comfortable grabbing him at the start of the 4th round in rookie drafts.
Round 5, pick 168 – John Hightower – WR – Philadelphia Eagles
John Hightower is an explosive vertical field stretcher that was used in the run and return game in his time on the blue turf at Boise State, and he is now in a curious wait-and-see situation in Philadelphia. He’s buried on the depth chart behind Alshon Jeffrey, DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor and a few others right now, but if the veterans in that group struggle to produce or stay healthy like they did last season the Eagles could be forced to make a major shake-up at the position soon. I would have to be in a pretty deep league to draft Hightower as I have him outside of my top-48 rookies, but I’m throwing him on my watchlist and monitoring from a distance.
Round 6, pick 187 – Donovan Peoples-Jones – WR – Cleveland Browns
Donovan Peoples-Jones is a big receiver that will struggle to separate from faster defensive backs early in his career but has the physical tools to develop into a legit threat around the red zone in the future. He’s near the bottom of the pecking order for targets in the passing game in Cleveland right now, but he has some of the physical tools needed to turn into a productive NFL player down the road. I don’t think that he ever turns into a huge contributor in PPR leagues, but his raw, physical upside is worth taking a swing on in the 4th round of rookie drafts.
Round 7, pick 220 – K.J. Hill – WR – Los Angeles Chargers
I was floored when K.J. Hill lasted until the 7th round, and I would bet money on him having a better NFL career than several of the WRs selected ahead of him. Hill is a catch machine that will be able to run an expansive route tree from day one. Hill works best out of the slot, and while he’s not the dynamic field stretcher that takes the top off of the defense, he’s a crafty route runner and isn’t afraid of working into the middle of the field. He’s going to need a few seasons to develop and find a clear path to consistent playing time, but he has all the tools to outperform his 7th round draft slot and turn into a flex-option in PPR leagues down the road. I’m grabbing Hill in the 4th round of rookie drafts.
Round 7, pick 222 – Eno Benjamin – RB – Arizona Cardinals
Eno Benjamin falls into the same group of guys as K.J. Hill that I was shocked to see slide this late into the draft. Some analysts at NFL.com gave Benjamin a 3rd round grade, and while I think that is a bit aggressive, I figured he would come off in the 4th or 5th round near guys like LaMical Perine and DeeJay Dallas. Benjamin will battle it out with Chase Edmunds for the backup RB role behind Kenyon Drake and may have the advantage over Edmunds for extra 3rd down work due to his ability as a receiver. I’m confidently grabbing Benjamin in the 3rd round of rookie drafts and stashing him for this season. Drake is playing this year out on the franchise tag, so he’s no lock to return to Arizona past this year. If that happens, Benjamin has shown the ability to be a three-down back in college and could be a sleeper heading into the 2021 season.
UDFA – Thaddeus Moss – TE – Washington Redskins
It appears that long-term questions about the health of Thaddeus Moss’ foot caused him to go undrafted, but the Redskins wasted no time scooping up Moss as a UDFA. A lot of people see “Randy Moss’s son” and think that he’s going to be an elite pass-catching TE like Gronk, but it’s actually his skills as a blocker that could help him find his way onto the field early in his career. He does have some explosiveness after the catch and can contribute in the short area passing game to provide a safety valve for QBs to dump the ball off to. Like all rookie Tight Ends, you can’t expect much in year one, but if Moss can stay healthy I wouldn’t be shocked to see him have a better career than some of the Tight Ends that were selected in the later rounds of the draft.
UDFA – Jeff Thomas – WR – New England Patriots
Jeff Thomas was a 5th round talent at the Wide Receiver position, but his repeated suspensions and poor decision making off the field in college scared teams off and caused him to go undrafted. He now finds himself with a chance to earn a roster spot with the New England Patriots as they undergo a major transformation on the offensive side of the ball. He may need to find a role on special teams to make the squad as a rookie, but he was undeniably explosive with the ball in his hands in college. He’s a guy that I could see developing into a flex-level option in his third and fourth seasons if he can get his head on straight. I’m only drafting Thomas in the deepest leagues, but I’m adding him onto my watchlist and monitoring him from a distance everywhere.