The NFL Draft is an imperfect science.
Scouts, fans, and analysts alike will spend time watching and projecting players to the next level, just to be wrong the majority of the time. Every so often, there are players who slip through the cracks, get overlooked, and then shine at the next level.
Here are some names that will likely be called on Day 3 that you should look out for in this year’s draft.
NFL Draft sleepers below are listed in descending order of position, not necessarily ranked by likelihood that they’ll break out.
Before reading our 2023 NFL Draft Sleepers, stay up to date with the latest NFL bets and football futures odds.
NFL Draft Sleepers 2023
1. Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane
A history of knee injuries will likely push Spears into Day 3 of the draft, but everything on tape is encouraging for him to have success in the NFL.
Spears is an extremely patient runner, but is able to explode once he has made his read. He is going to produce with the ball in his hands, regardless of whether he is making defenders miss or maximizing yardage after contact.
- See where Spears falls in our NFL Draft Prospect Rankings.
There always seems to be a breakout running back from the middle rounds each year, and Spears has a strong case to be the one for the 2023 class.
2. Dontayvion Wicks, WR, Virginia
After a standout 2021 season, Wicks had plenty of hype. However, he and the rest of the Virginia offense struggled to produce in 2022 and his draft stock has taken a hit as a result. (Wicks is currently slated to go to the Commanders in the sixth round of Anthony Cervino’s latest NFL Mock Draft.)
It shouldn’t have.
Wicks has a very impressive release off the line of scrimmage with great pacing and body control to be in position to produce consistently. He had too many drops this past season, but that can be ironed out.
I believe Wicks truly has star potential in a draft class that is fairly shallow at receiver.
3. Nick Saldiveri, OL, Old Dominion
Whether Saldiveri plays at tackle or guard will depend on his team’s preference, but he should be able to succeed either way.
In a zone-blocking scheme, Saldiveri is a perfect fit. He has excellent foot speed that translates to success both in passing sets and when operating on the move. Along with that quickness, he also generates plenty of momentum, which gives him enough punch power to offset his defender.
Saldiveri still has some room to grow from a technique and strength standpoint, but he could be a huge steal on Day 3.
4. Nick Hampton, EDGE, Appalachian State
Teams are always in need of more pass rushers, and this year’s class is deep with options. Unfortunately, that tends to put some of the smaller school guys under the radar, which seems to be the case here with Nick Hampton.
After recording seven sacks in nine games this past season and 11 the year before, it’s clear that Hampton is an intimidating presence off the edge.
He is best suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker who wins with speed, but with NFL training and development to get him stronger, Hampton could be a high-impact player rushing the passer.
5. Jay Ward, S, LSU
If you rewatch the LSU defense, it won’t take long for you to think you’re watching a Jay Ward highlight reel.
Ward is very instinctual, which allows him to operate in both safety spots. He also has the versatility to work as slot corner if needed. Despite weighing just 188 pounds, Ward also crashes downhill extremely well to limit plays from breaking for big yardage.
While he is expected to be a Day 3 pick, the safety should be able to work himself into a role on his new team and blossom into much more in time.
NFL Draft Day 2 & Day 3 Players To Watch
- Zach Evans, RB, Ole Miss
- Israel Abanikanda, RB, Pittsburgh
- Marvin Mims Jr., WR, Oklahoma
- Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue
- Michael Wilson, WR, Stanford
- Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR, West Virginia
- Antoine Green, WR, North Carolina
- Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
- Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State
- Blake Freeland, OT, BYU
- Tyler Steen, OT, Alabama
- Anthony Bradford, OG, LSU
- Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas
- Isaiah McGuire, EDGE, Missouri
- Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State
- Cory Trice Jr., CB, Purdue
- Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina
- JL Skinner III, S, Boise State
- Jartavius Martin, S, Illinois
- Sydney Brown, S, Illinois
- Daniel Scott, S, California
- AJ Finley, S, Ole Miss