2022 NFL Draft: 10 underrated sleepers who won’t be picked early but will turn into quality players

The bulk of the hype entering the NFL Draft is typically centered on who will go in the first round, as fans generate visions of immediate stardom for the players their teams will pick. But the draft, which is set for Thursday through Saturday in Las Vegas, is a seven-round affair that offers more than just a single pick for teams to try and get rich quick.

If played right, teams can find value throughout the draft, both with immediate contributors and long-term fits who may have slipped through the cracks of the first round after poor showings at the combine or for other reasons. Take Detroit Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, for example. The former USC star went in the fourth round to the Detroit Lions in last year’s draft and proceeded to catch 90 passes as a rookie.

Defensively, one example of a steal is Saints cornerback Paulson Adebo, who was a third-round pick out of Stanford last season. Adebo made 17 starts as a rookie, picked off three passes and would almost certainly be taken higher in a re-draft of the 2021 class. As it stands, he’s a mid-round steal for the Saints to build around moving forward.

So who are the overlooked potential difference makers in the 2022 NFL Draft pool? Here is a a look at 10 underrated sleepers to watch on Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft.

DL DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M

You’re telling me that an Associated Press First-Team All American capable of playing multiple spots on the defensive line after a strong three-year run at a great college program has no chance of going in the first round? That seems to be the consensus among draft experts, which means that Leal is going to be a steal for someone when

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Fantasy Football Week 9 Sleepers: Jeremy McNichols best bet to fill Derrick Henry void, plus DFS lineups

I’m curious to see how the Titans plan to replace Derrick Henry (foot), who is out for 6-10 weeks. It doesn’t appear like offensive coordinator Todd Downing wants to change things in Tennessee, even with Henry not on the field.

On Thursday, Downing said, “I’d be doing the offense a disservice if I jerked the wheel on our identity at this point of the season with Derrick Henry out.”

It sounds like Downing still wants to lean on the ground game, which bodes well for either Adrian Peterson or Jeremy McNichols. For now, give me McNichols heading into Week 9 at the Rams — and maybe the rest of the year.

McNichols will be the one playing on passing downs. And despite what Downing said, I expect the Titans to be forced to throw the ball more with Henry sidelined. That will likely happen Sunday night against the Rams if the Titans are chasing points as expected. 

McNichols already has at least three catches in four games this season. He should get the chance to carry the ball more as well, and he’s a nice sleeper for Week 9. 

We’ll see what happens with Peterson, who is 36 and last played for the Lions in 2020. He could be the best running back for the Titans, and maybe he keeps Tennessee’s run game afloat.

But I’m skeptical to trust Peterson, which is why I’d lean toward McNichols, who has been Henry’s backup all season. I’m hoping McNichols steps up and takes over for Henry in Week 9 and beyond.

McNichols is one of my favorite sleepers in Week 9.

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