Uncut Gems: 2020 Late Round Draft Sleepers

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Everyone nowadays is looking for a bargain. Something for nothing is not only a motto or a Foo Fighters’ song, but it’s also a way of life for NFL executives, scouts, and coaches. If one could maximize a premium product without paying a high price, that’s a maximum yield on investment. The NFL Draft is only days away and every NFL franchise could use secondary help and offensive lineman at a great price in the later rounds.

 

These are the decisions that make or break a team. Depth, finding talent in the strangest of places that later become plug-and-play starters is the motive. These gentlemen can fill the holes on any team, at a low draft price. To find these precious stones, one must venture out of the Power-5 and into the FCS, Division II and historically black colleges for some of the rawest talent you never knew about. Making moves like this as a general manager separates the chess players from their novice counterparts. With uncut gems like these available in the 2020 Draft, gaining them ensures eventual checkmates.

Cris Page, Catawba, DB

Cris Page is a four-year starter coming out of Catawba. The quiet kept college out of North Carolina has had the pleasure of watching a rare talent, considering Page was a four-time SAC Conference team selection. At 5’11”, 185 lbs and with 12 career interceptions collegiately, he is not to be played with. An appendix rupture his junior year is the only reason one would find him playing Division II ball.

His high school football team went 1-9 his senior year (Heritage), but he had nine interceptions. Hard to be noticed when you’re a standout on a losing team, hence how he ended up in Catawba. His cover skills were phenomenal. With a major in Communications, he easily explains to opposing wide receivers why and how they’re having bad days. He sheds blockers and is a ball-hawk when challenged in coverage. A third-round talent, and a fifth-round sleeper.

Daniel Reid-Bennett, Elon University, DB

Elon University isn’t known for shaking up the college football world. In fact, in 2019 they went 5-6. But that doesn’t mean that talent can’t be found at this Colonial Athletic Association establishment. Bennett reminds me of Brian Dawkins. A secondary player who has a nose for the football and hunts down anyone with it. The 6’1″, 195 pound safety or corner had 71 tackles and 11 pass breakups his senior year.

One of his best games was against Wake Forest, in which he collected 13 tackles, one pass breakup, and an interception. As a three-year starter, he collected 229 career tackles and 32 passes defended. If you watch the film on Bennett, he is a very physical player. He has cover skills, range on the field, excellent tackler and tremendous versatility. Those in the know would snatch him in the fourth round, but he might be available in the fifth. A player like this can change a team’s fortunes.

Marcus Pettiford, North Carolina A&T, OL

The MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) has produced a player or two. There are a lot of teams in the NFL in desperate need of good offensive lineman. Look no further than the North Carolina A&T Aggies’ Marcus Pettiford. He began his collegiate career at 278, and as an offensive lineman, he struggled at first. However, once the 6’3″ lineman gained some weight and started playing at 305 pounds, he became a menace. He was a three-time First Team All MEAC and a 2019 FCS All American. But his story only gets better.

Pettiford was academically ineligible for the 2016 season. He overcame his academic shortcomings and rejoined the team in the fall of 2017. The team had a historic season that year. He won Offensive Lineman of the Year over South Carolina State’s Alex Taylor, another sleeper late on draft boards. Dominant offensive lineman who run 5.1 are scarce. North Carolina A&T has had a player drafted three of the last four years. He should make it four of the last five.

Artevius Smith, East Tennessee State, DB

Smith has been dealing with adversity for some time now. After losing his mother and battling the streets to discover better opportunities, Smith became a standout in the SOCON Conference. At 5’9″, 185 lbs, his original position was running back. Artevius didn’t start playing defense until his junior year. To explain what Artevius Smith is in one word, I’d say it would be raw.

He excels at strong safety and nickel. Smith had a breakout year in 2019, leading his team at East Tennessee State in tackles (89) and interceptions (5). He’s a defensive back that can play every down. He has been known to assist in shutting down running games. Smith was also named a Buck Buchanan Award Finalist. One could compare him to a poor man’s honey badger. A gym junkie who can run a low 4.3 forty, he distributes excellent instincts and amazing closing speed. He belongs on an NFL roster and will show the benefits as soon as they give him the opportunity His FBI (Football Intelligence) is through the roof.

Christian Angulo, Hampton University, CB

The cherry on top of the whipped cream is the man out of Hampton University. At 6’2″, 195 pounds, he has natural skills that you can’t teach. He was a former Cincinnati Bearcat, but couldn’t get any playing time, so he ventured east. Angulo’s 2019 season was one to remember. He displayed top cover-corner skills and had 14 passes broken up with three picks in his back pocket.

Angulo is under the radar because he was a former Division I FBS transfer and because of a discrepancy on his paperwork, most scouts thought he was a junior. The senior exhibited excellent press-man coverage and is a natural ballhawk. Some might have heard of the standout wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden from Liberty and some of his accolades. Antonio Gandy-Golden had 79 receptions for 1,396 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2019. Angulo shut him down.

He has great size for an NFL corner, intangibles in man and ball skills, and will run a 4.4 to 4.5 forty time. He benched 225 21 times for his Pro Day, so he will not get pushed around, and he could be the answer to any team’s prayers in search of good to great secondary coverage. Angulo is a gamer who will brighten any defensive coordinator’s face.

In the later rounds is where you strike gold and change the trajectory of a franchise. We can find these gentlemen in the later rounds of this year’s draft. Game changers, opportunists, and warriors can be found in the draft if you know where to look. These players shine on the big stage like diamonds, because they have already made it through the rough. If you have the time, tell a friend or owner in need where you can gain one of these uncut gems.

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