Every year NFL teams put countless time, effort, and resources into scouting college prospects. A year-round process, teams are always looking for the next Hall of Famer. No matter what methods an organization uses, talent often slips, goes unseen, or even worse, a player never produces. Fans will always wonder how Tom Brady got passed up an astonishing 198 times. Or how a genetic freak like D.K. Metcalf wasn’t a first-rounder on traits alone. Certainly, the Green Bay Packers are always looking for the sleeper who is flying under the radar and could be a real steal down the road. Without further ado, here are the 2021 NFL Draft Hidden Gems.
Marquez Stevenson – WR – Houston
Marquez Stevenson measured in smaller than expected at 5’10” and 182 lbs. However, he plays bigger and faster than his build indicates. A down-field threat with sub 4.4 speed, Stevenson can score at any time. He needs to clean up his route-running and is a little bit of a body catcher. That being said, Stevenson can produce right away as a slot receiver and special-teams ace. Some fine-tuning is certainly needed and if Stevenson can add strength/weight, he could have a very nice future.
Landon Young – OT – Kentucky
How this bruiser was flying under the radar is a mystery, but that may no longer be the case. After an elite pro day, Landon Young turned some heads. All this country-strong farm boy did in the SEC was put defenders into the dirt. This 2020 First-Team All-Conference prospect isn’t flashy, just a hard worker that could be a long-time NFL starter. A Bryan Bulaga clone, Young would plug-and-play on the fly.
Rodarius Williams CB – Oklahoma State
I just love Rodarius Williams‘ game! This four-year starter, and brother of NFLer Greedy Williams, is like an annoying bee on wide receivers. You can’t get him off of you. He is quietly confident and is as technically sound as any cornerback in the draft. While not considered an elite athlete he is still a smooth mover. A mentally tough player that doesn’t get rattled, Williams will be a nice addition for any team.
Joshuah Bledsoe – S – Missouri
For teams in need of a big nickel or a versatile safety that can play many roles, Joshuah Bledsoe is your guy. This battle-hardened leader fits today’s 3 safety roll. Bledsoe is a sure tackler who excels in the box but can also play center field or cover a tight end. Instant special-teams contributor Bledsoe will find his way onto the field one day.
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Javian Hawkins – RB – Louisville
Don’t let his size fool you, Javian Hawkins was a workhorse over the last two seasons. He is lightning in a bottle and creates explosive plays on the regular. A lot like Aaron Jones, Hawkins finds the tiniest seam and gets to daylight. He is a perfect late-round back to add juice to any backfield. Hawkins was not used much as a receiver but teams should look to get him touches anyway they can.
Walker Little – OT – Sanford
Walker Little might not fit the definition of a sleeper. He isn’t flying under-the-radar per se, it’s just hard to place his draft stock. In 2019, he was injured early and last year he opted out. Prior to that, he was a high-profile tackle. Some had him as the best performing pass protector in college football. Because Little did not play football for two seasons, teams have either forgotten him or have serious question marks. If he’s around in rounds 3 or 4, a team could be getting a top 20 future Pro Bowl tackle. The skill-set is there.
Joshua Kainduh – Edge – Florida State
A prized recruit coming out of high school, Joshua Kaindoh never lived up to the billing mostly because of injuries. Still, with a long 6’7″ frame, Kaindoh is a piece of clay ready to be molded. Right now, he fits as an even front defensive end but I think his best football is adding some good weight and playing 5 technique in a 3-4 defense. He posses a lot of upside if he can stay on the field.
Brandin Echols – CB – Kentucky
The second Kentucky player on this list. A week ago Brandin Echols may not have been getting much attention. After his pro day, however, he has teams going back and watching his tape. Echols jumped out of the gym and his movements scream trusted slot corner at the next level.
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