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TDB's 2011 Sleeper List

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In years past I have run some threads titled "Spotlight On: Player X" which a lot of people liked so for this year I am just going to keep one thread with my 2011 Sleepers, and I'll add one player from my sleeper list every week -- if I have some extra time I will try to add 2 in a week.

My sleepers are all guys whose names you probably do not know, or maybe you once knew and have since forgotten. I think maybe only one or two have been mentioned on ESPN or NFL because they blew up the combine as expected.

I am not going to post them in order of who I think will be the best, but I will try to rotate between offense and defense. I have narrowed down my sleeper list for this mainly based on the Falcons' team needs, but I may throw in some other names at positions we are presumably set at.

I will make my post with my first sleeper later tonight.


1) Brandon Saine, RB, Ohio State

2) Rob Housler, TE, FAU

3) Michael Lockley, LB, FAU

Edited by The Dirty Bird
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Got any of mine?

RB - Johnny White, Bilal Powell

WR - Ronald Johnson, Aldrick Robinson.. Dare I say DeAndre Brown?

TE - Zack Pianalto

OL - Zane Taylor, Chris Hairston, Adam Grant, Jake Kirkpatrick, Carl Johnson

DT - Lawrence Guy, David Carter

DE - Ricky Elmore, Markus White

LB - Alex Wujcak, Brian Rolle

CB - Anthony Gaitor, Brandon Hogan, Byron Maxwell, Richard Sherman, Josh Thomas

S - Dom DeCicco, Johnny Brown, Brian Lainhart, Brett Greenwood

Edited by Rai
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Name: Brandon Saine

Position: RB

College: Ohio State

Measurables: 5'11, 220 lbs, 4.40 40 yard dash, 34.5 inch vertical


Brandon Saine to me is a running back with serious NFL potential but was stuck in a committee attack in Ohio State that also ran mostly out of the spread to take advantage of Pryor's ability as a runner and passer as a QB.

The knocks on Saine are that he was not overly productive at Ohio State and that he has an injury history. But with where his draft stock is at right now (7th round-UDFA), I don't think there are many better values in the draft. Saine reminds me a little bit of an Ahmad Bradshaw kind of running back -- very good speed, can catch the ball out of the backfield and elude a defender, and is a strong runner.

Some reports have Saine marked down as a not great in-between-the-tackles runner, but from what I've seen, and I watch a lot of Big 10 football, suggests otherwise. There are also other reports that say he "Runs hard, lowers his shoulders and gets up field in a hurry."

Most importantly, in looking at Saine for our team, he is one of the best pass catching RBs in this draft -- I actually think he is the best pass catcher -- and he is a very good pass blocker as well.

He is one of the faster players in college football -- some have him ranked in the Top 10 -- with his 40 time being 4.40 and he runs the 100 in 10.3 seconds. Basically, if you let him get around the corner this kid is gone. We're looking for a home run hitter, and it would be great if he could also run routes out of the backfield more than just into the flat, and Saine can do exactly that. The clip below shows two plays of Saine (#3) from the Rose Bowl catching the ball down field very well, almost looking like a good WR prospect.

(Go to 0:46 and 1:32)

Ohio State used Saine merely as a 3rd down back, but he has the size, speed, and other physical tools to develop into a 3 down RB in the NFL. If he's not given the chance to do that, he could be a **** of a 3rd down back for a team as both a runner, pass blocker, and pass catcher.

Strengths from his NFL.com combine profile:

Saine is a big back that can run. Possesses a quick first step and a second gear to exploit seams. Tough runner that shows good lean and always falls forward in short yardage situations. Has enough wiggle to make the first defender miss. Effective receiver and willing blocker in the passing game.

Weakness from his NFL.com combine profile:

A bit stiff in the hips and struggles to make sharp cuts. Possesses less than ideal vision, looks to bounce runs outside too often and misses the open running lanes at times. Does not always run with a good pad level and lacks the lower body strength to push the pile. Not very durable.

Snippets from other scouting reports:

Saine excels as a pass-catcher out of the backfield and Ohio State has used him all over the field in order to create mismatches along the outside.

Saine has very good speed and a natural elusiveness.

He will need to find a team willing to use him in unique ways (like Kansas City's Dexter McCluster).

Excellent combination of size and speed, former track star and one of the fastest players on the Ohio State roster.

Good in pass protection, does a great job of clipping defenders... Solid receiver out of the backfield.

Saine is a natural leader and has a great competitive fire.

High potential because of his size and speed, ran well at the combine.

The problem is, either because of how he used at Ohio State by the coaching staff or for whatever other reason, Saine has not lived up to his potential. He was never given the chance to be a feature back (Beanie Wells and then a senior season RBBC attack) and since Pryor went to OSU and they moved to a spread attack, he was never really given the chance to run the ball consistently.

Brandon Saine currently projects as an undrafted free agent, which is why he is one of my bigger sleepers as opposed to someone that may slide to the 4th round.

If he progresses and corrects some of his flaws, which he does have, he could really become a weapon for a team like the Falcons. He could be a 3rd down back that must be accounted for at all times, and he could be lined up in the slot and act as a slot WR with his great hands on some plays if he can learn some WR routes.

We're looking for home run hitting ability, and Saine provides this as both a rusher and a receiver. It's very rare a running back can locate the ball in the air down field and make a tough catch, but Saine can do it. He also provides great value for his pass blocking which is something very undervalued from a 3rd down RB.

Saine has all the raw talent, and he "is a natural leader and has a great competitive fire." The intangibles are certainly there, and he's absolutely worth a flier as a 7th round RB.

If all he does his rookie season is come in as the 3rd down RB and pass block for Matt Ryan to keep him clean, he was well worth a 7th round pick. If he makes some plays on screens and catching passes out of the backfield -- something we haven't had in years -- then he was a steal.

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Let's see if I can reiterate this -- this is a thread I plan to use for my own sleeper list.

Please don't post a list of your sleepers in here.

Comments on the players I post are welcome.


Sorry man, maybe you should start another thread where we post our top sleepers and you give your input or something like that

Please continue to post your sleepers

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry DB, but this is a forum not a blog.

Never claimed it was a blog. But like many people make a thread with their own mock draft, people then don't post their own mock draft in that person's thread -- they comment on that person's mock draft. This follows the same premise, that's all. Pretty standard of how this board has been run for the past several years I've been here.

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Ohio State running back Brandon Saine -- Arizona, Cleveland, Cincinnati, JAX, NO, PHI, STL and WAS have all shown the most interest in him.


Looks like a lot of teams realize the sleeper potential of Brandon Saine

Is there still a negative connotation on Big 10 RBs. Beanie Wells has not been a world beater Antonio Pittman, Tony Hunt, Chris Perry are even worse. Not even going to mention Clarett. Mendenhall and Green are holding it down. But I still am not a fan of Big 10 Rbs.

Edited by Polar Bear Jones
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Is there still a negative connotation on Big 10 RBs. Beanie Wells has not been a world beater Antonio Pittman, Tony Hunt, Chris Perry are even worse. Not even going to mention Clarett. Mendenhall and Green are holding it down. But I still am not a fan of Big 10 Rbs.

You can do the same thing for every conference to put it simply. I don't understand why people are afraid of Big 10 RBs -- Mendenhall is a beast, Shonn Greene is very promising, Marion Barber in his prime was great, Beanie Wells is good when healthy and also has promise. I truly believe that if Larry Johnson was not drafted by the Chiefs who had Priest Holmes, he would have been a shoo-in for the HOF. It was a joke he didn't win the Heisman. In 2004 he started 3 games and ran 581 yards and 9 TDs and had 278 receiving yards and 2 TDs(played sparingly in 7 other games behind Priest). In 2005 he started 9 games -- everyone remembers this when Priest got hurt halfway through the season and Johnson was unleashed -- and ran for 1,750 yards and 20 TDs and had 343 receiving yards and 1 TD. That's in half of season! The next year the Chiefs ran him into the ground with 416 carries, and he went for 1,789 yards and 17 TDs, 410 receiving yards and 2 more TDs. Then he got hurt in 2007.

Sorry for all the LJ love, but my point is that you can find a good RB in any conference in any round. We'll see what happens with Mikel Leshoure, and also late rounder Evan Royster who was once projected a 1st round pick - a sleeper I will touch on later.

i have never heard of any of these people. i guess thats the point.

I don't know who gave you a -1 but I +'d it away. That is generally the point of a sleeper thread, it's players you either have not heard of or are expected to last late into the draft that could end up being productive. Enjoy the board.

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Sleeper #2

Rob Housler, TE, Florida Atlantic

Measurables: 6'5, 250 lbs, 4.55 40 yard dash, 22 bench reps of 225

Housler is a player with legitimate TE size, WR speed, and good hands. What separates him from guys like Virgil Green and Julius Thomas (I like him too) is that he can block and has the size and strength to become quite a good blocker on the line. Housler is the rare TE that can stretch the middle of the field and beat a safety deep in coverage. He's my #1 sleeper at TE because of his combination of size and speed, and he's a balanced talent.

He's a little raw, just like every player to come out of FAU over the years, but he's got top notch intangibles and physical tools to work with. He's the kind of player that can play as a #2 TE on a team in his first year, primarily as a pass catcher, while he grows as a football player.

Although he is raw and went to FAU, Housler had some of his best games against the top competition he faced which is something I like a lot -- on the biggest stage, you come up big.

Last year he had 38 catches for 626 yards and 4 TDs. Housler is so athletically gifted that the coaching staff gave him 2 carries and he took them for 32 yards. Against Michigan State, he had 7 catches for 75 yards, and against Texas he had 64 yards and 2 TDs.

Housler is the perfect developmental TE for us in this draft. He may not have the upside of Jimmy Graham since Graham never played football and had unbelievable physical tools, but Housler may not be much different from a guy like Graham. We'll see what some real NFL coaching and an NFL strength program will do for him, not FAU coaching.

While Housler ran a 4.55 40 at the notoriously slow Combine, some scouts had him clocked at 4.46 in the 40 yard dash. He also had a very impressive 4.21 short shuttle. Right now he and Jordan Cameron are battling for #1 developmental TE prospect in my rankings, but Housler's potential as a blocker and football experience give him the edge right now.

Some stuff to watch:

more of a break down of him:

watch the clip of him getting open against the Texas secondary. his speed down the seem makes the defense look plain stupid.

He's raw, he needs to work on his blocking technique, but with a year of developing, Housler could be a starter in the NFL.

Also just an interesting tidbit:

Florida Atlantic TE Rob Housler said he models his game after Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez after watching and following him over the years, pointing to how well he takes care of his body.

Read more: http://www.kffl.com/player/24268/NFL#ixzz1JBKJAWao

While I'm talking about the FAU Owls, another sleeper on that squad is LB Michael Lockley.

Lockley is 6'2, 240 lbs, and ran a 4.56 40 yard dash at his pro day. He also reps 225 22 times, and had a unbelievable 38.5 inch vertical jump and 4.40 short shuttle. Don't write him off as a workout warrior though because that wouldn't be true.

He led the team in tackles with 120 total tackles, had 6.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 FF and 1 PBU. He ranked 24th nationally in tackles as a senior, and also blocked 4 kicks which is unbelievable.

He also was not a 1 year wonder, as a junior he had 94 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 3 PBU, 1 FF, and 1 QB hurry. He got better at blitzing as a senior which accounts for the sacks and probably also the blocked kicks.

He is a high hustle player with very nice physical tools -- it isn't very common to see a 6'2, 240 lbs linebacker with 4.56 speed and a 38.5 inch vertical leap. Just as impressive as his vertical leap was his short shuttle. He ran a 4.40 short shuttle. Aaron Williams, CB prospect for the Texans that many of you want the Falcons to draft in the 1st round, ran a 4.60 short shuttle. This however came from a LB who weighs 240 lbs.

Lockley will likely go undrafted or some team will take a chance on him with their 7th round pick, and I hope that team is us. Lockley was a key special teams player for the Owls and he could certainly be one in the NFL. On top of that, he has the size, speed, and attitude to be a contributing player on an NFL. If he lands in the right place, a la London Fletcher, he could end up becoming a starting LB in a 4-3. He has the size and quickness to play any of the LB spots, and could start right away as a nickel LB in pass situations.

Some tidbits from an interview with Michael Lockley:

What is your pet peeve?

“People not working as hard as they can.”

Who is your current off the field role model?

“My dad, James Lockley first, and the sports person I look up to would have to is Kobe Bryant because he’s a champion.”

What are you most proud of?

“Sticking it through and about to be graduating college.”

What aspect of your game do you feel is your strength?

“Athletic ability and being able to do some things that people can’t do. Like if there’s a play somebody can’t make, I feel like I can make it.

What game are you looking forward to the most next season?

“The first game, always looking forward to the first game.”

What do you want FAU fans to know about you personally?

“When I’m not playing football, I’m still just working out. I like to go to the beach and hanging out with my friends. I work out all the time. It’s something that my dad instilled in me.”


I especially love:

What game are you looking forward to the most next season?

“The first game, always looking forward to the first game.”

The kid just had a great attitude and will work to try to become a star. I don't know if that's in the cards for him, but he's definitely a sleeper as someone not projected to be drafted and has tantalizing physical tools and a great work ethic. Who knows, he could be the next London Fletcher as a long-time starting MLB for a 4-3 D after going undrafted....except he's far more athletic and bigger.

Watch the video in the link below to see just how explosive he looks in drills at his pro day.


And here's a break down video of him by a coach of his:

And if you care to watch it, Lockley talks about how he takes special teams and blocking kicks seriously and his technique:

So there are sleepers 2 and 3, FAU alums Rob Housler and Michael Lockley.

Edited by The Dirty Bird
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Housler used to be a big time sleeper for me but I've cooled off him a bit. He's mainly a pass catching TE right now but even still, he does body catch at times and doesn't have the most secure hands in this class.

Edited by Rai
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Housler used to be a big time sleeper for me but I've cooled off him a bit. He's mainly a pass catching TE right now but even still, he does body catch at times and doesn't have the most secure hands in this class.

Which is why with his physical tools he isn't a going to be a Top 92 pick. He definitely catches a little too much with his body, but he can make hands catches and that is something that can be worked on with a year of developing. And I agree with him being mainly pass catching TE right now, but he puts forth the effort as a blocker and he has legit TE size to block, 6'5 and 250 lbs. From Day 1 he provides a mismatch in 2 TE sets, since he can fly down the middle of the field and cause some mismatches.

His TE idol is also Tony Gonzalez and he models his game after him. I'd imagine he'd follow TG around like a puppy and learn everything he could from him, more than most other rookie TEs would try to.

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