Class Sleepers – NFC East

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” NFC East Dallas Cowboys – Charles Tapper, DE Oklahoma 4th rd. 3rd pick (#101 overall) Heading into the draft defensive end was a big need position for the Cowboys after deciding not to resign free agents Greg Hardy, and Jeremy Mincey, while also having both DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory suspended for the season’s first four games due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. After deciding to bypass the position on their first three picks the Cowboys were able to get their defensive end in the form of Oklahoma’s Charles Tapper at the top of the fourth round. Tapper is an athletically gifted edge defender who does a nice job of converting speed to power. He possesses long arms and deceptive strength at the point of attack, and is capable of holding his ground versus double-teams. Tapper performed well at the combine running a 4.59 forty with a 1.64 ten-yard split, coupled with 23 reps on the bench press and a 34 inch vertical. Tapper’s limited production at Oklahoma is somewhat deceiving (only 13.5 sacks for his career) due to the fact he was asked to play a position not ideally suited for his skill set as a defensive end on a three-man line. Tapper was asked to do more two-gapping then rushing up field and getting after the quarterback. With the Cowboys and in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s defensive system Tapper will be given the opportunity to use his athletic ability to go after the passer. Look for him to be used early on as a situation pass rusher supplying speed off the edge. New York Giants – Paul Perkins, RB 5th rd. 10th pick (#149 overall) The Giants not only received terrific value in the fifth round by selecting UCLA running back Paul Perkins, they may have also landed one of the steals of the draft. Perkins leaves UCLA having rushed for almost 3,500 yards in three seasons to go along with 29 rushing touchdowns. He led the PAC-12 in rushing as a sophomore in 2014 with 1,572 yards, becoming the first Bruin to do so since DeShaun Foster back in 2001. Perkins plays with outstanding balance and anticipation excelling at cutting back against the grain picking up big chunks of yardage. He has tremendous vision, and is patient as a runner allowing his blockers time to set up. He is elusive in the open field and is almost always able to make the first defender miss. While he may not possess the ideal size or breakaway speed Perkins has a knack for finding running lanes and producing in key moments of a game. The Giants running back combo of Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams produced a combined 1,120 rushing yards last season which ranked the Giants 18th in rushing overall. With the addition of Perkins, they added a runner who will help supply a quicker more elusive option in the backfield which should nicely compliment the north south downhill running style that both Jennings and Williams possess. Philadelphia Eagles – Jalen Mills, FS 7th rd. 12th pick (#233 overall) Jalen Mills is a versatile defensive back who over his career at LSU started games at cornerback, free safety, and nickel back. Not built to play safety in the NFL look for Mills to excel inside as a nickel corner in some of the Eagles sub-packages. Mills is quicker than fast with loose hips and the ability to quickly change directions. His 3-Cone times at the combine (6.86) are indicative of the agility he possesses. While his 37-inch vertical shows he has some explosion in his legs. Although he may lack the strength to land a good jam on a receiver he makes up for that with his quickness and ability to turn and mirror the receiver off the line of scrimmage. Some off the field issues and past injury concerns may have played a role in Mills dropping to the seventh round, but Jalen Mills is not your typical seventh round selection. Look for him to have a prominent role on both the defense and special teams as a rookie next season for Philadelphia. Washington Redskins – Steven Daniels, ILB 7th rd. 11th pick (#232 overall) Steven Daniels is a hard hitting instinctive linebacker who plays much bigger on the field than he measures off it. Daniels will not blow you away with his measurable but when you turn on the tape you see a linebacker physical at the point-of-contact, able to take on blockers, shed and make a play. He is a terrific run defender who displays good instincts for the position. He is able to offset the lack of speed or burst by knowing the opponent’s tendencies and getting in position to make the play. Daniels was the leader of a very tough Boston College defense in 2015, where he had 86 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and six sacks as a senior. Daniels, a former high school teammate of the Panthers Luke Kuechly, will be thrown into the mix at inside linebacker and allowed to compete with veterans Mason Foster, Perry Riley Jr., and Martrell Spaight. While Daniels best chance of seeing the field as a rookie might probably be on special teams, it will not surprise me to see Daniels get some snaps playing inside linebacker for the Redskins next season. It could turn out that keeping Daniels on the sidelines might be harder, for the Redskins coaching staff to do, than originally anticipated. 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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