Class Sleepers – AFC West

With most NFL draft’s it’s usually the first round picks who receive much of the attention and attract most of the spotlight. Yet over the years when you go back and review successful draft classes it’s typically the “sleepers” or day three selections that make a good class turn into a great class. With that in mind we reviewed each NFL teams draft class, per division, and attempted to point out who potentially could turn out to be that groups “sleeper” AFC West Denver Broncos – Will Parks, S Arizona 6th rd. 44th pick (#219 overall) Having lost their top two backups at safety, in David Bruton Jr. and Omar Bolden, during free agency the Broncos knew that they needed to replenish some of their depth on the back-half of their defense. The Broncos used two draft picks in the 2016 draft to add Boston College’s Justin Simmons, and Arizona’s Will Parks to help reload at safety. Will Parks was a two-year starter and versatile defender for the Wildcats over his four-year career. He leaves Arizona having complied 197 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 20 pass break-ups, and four interceptions. Parks is a tough competitor who plays hard down in and down out. At 6’1” and 204 pounds he possesses good size and length for the position. He is an aggressive downhill punisher, who will tackle through his target. He is able to come up and set a hard edge when defending the run, and displayed the ability to shed blockers and find the ball carrier while playing as a box safety closer to the line of scrimmage, as his 20 tackles for loss over the last two seasons can attest to. Initially Parks will be looked upon to provide depth at both safety positions as well as help on special teams. However, with his ability to tackle and help defend the run, as an in the box safety, Parks could force his way onto the field sooner than many may have anticipated for a sixth-round pick. Kansas City Chiefs – Dadi Nicolas, OLB Virginia Tech 6th rd. 28th pick (#203 overall) With Outside linebacker Justin Houston undergoing surgery in February to repair a torn ACL in his left knee you had a feeling that the Chiefs would target an outside backer at some point in the draft. Not necessarily to replace Houston, but just to add some quality depth at the position. That point came in the sixth-round in the form or former Virginia Tech Hokie Dadi Nicolas. Nicolas is a talented physical specimen who has tree limbs for arms (35 inches) and very impressive lower-body explosion and burst. Nicolas posted a 41 inch vertical, 4.74 forty, and 7.04 three-cone time which speaks favorably to his agility, body control, and quickness. Nicolas is quick off the line at the snap of the ball and is able to use his speed to provide a consistent pass rush off the edge. Nicolas has good balance and lateral quickness with an active body that is always hustling on the field. Nicolas, who played defensive end at Virginia Tech, will be converting to outside linebacker with the Chiefs so there will be a learning process he will need to go through initially. However, the talent and athleticism is there for Nicolas to develop into a genuine pass rushing threat off the edge for the Chiefs in the years to come. San Diego Chargers – Jatavis Brown, OLB, Akron 5th rd. 38th pick (#175 overall) Looking to improve some of their overall depth and team speed at linebacker the Chargers took a big step towards that direction by selecting the 2015 MAC Defensive Player of the Year in Akron’s Jatavis Brown, with their fifth-round pick. Brown, who at 5’11” and 227 pounds ran a 4.47 at one of the NFL’s regional combines, was a tackling machine for Akron. In his four-years he totaled 340 tackles, a school-record 41.5 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks, and 10 forced fumbles. Brown possesses terrific instincts for the linebacker position. He plays fast and hard with a non-stop motor. Brown’s ability to quickly change directions, and natural-bend allow him to chase down ball carriers from sideline-to-sideline. He is an explosive tackler who can quickly close in on his targets. Although he is strong (33 reps at 225-pounds) Brown’s size and ability to take on impact at the point of contact remain a slight concern in terms of how he will hold up physically in the NFL. The Chargers will start him off at inside linebacker where he will be backing up starters Denzel Perryman and Manti Te’o, but with his speed, quickness, and tacking ability a future move to safety isn’t totally out of the question for Brown. Oakland Raiders – DeAndre Washington, RB Texas Tech 5th rd. 4th pick (#143 overall) Washington is a multi-purpose back who led the Big-12 in total yards from scrimmage in 2015 with 1,877, while his 16 total touchdowns ranked third in the conference. Washington is a thickly-built runner who plays with more power than most would expect out of someone who is 5’8” and 204 pounds. He runs hard with good balance showing off his lower-body strength. He demonstrates good instincts and vision able to quickly identify a hole and hits it hard. Washington is also a very good pass catcher out of the backfield, finishing his collegiate career with 124 receptions. He projects more as a change-of-pace back who can come and spell starter Latavius Murray for either a series or two or possibly even on third downs. With no other runner on the roster firmly entrenched as the primary back-up do not be surprised if Washington lays claim to that role coming out of training camp. Danny Shimon is a graduate of Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp.  Follow Danny on Twitter @dshimon56
Danny Shimon
NFPost Scouting 101 & Scouting Seminar Graduate. Bears writer for www.windy-citysport.com

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