After looking at the top three players at offensive each position in this year’s upcoming draft, I am transitioning from the players in the lights to the players in the shadows. This is, of course, a reference to sleeper prospects as I will be looking at the top three offensive sleepers in the NFL draft.
Included in this list will only be players considered to be day three picks. With that in mind, the NFL each year has lots of players drafted on day three that have turned out to be solid players. Yearly, teams pass up on many solid players in the later rounds. Who are the top offensive sleepers this year? Well, let’s find out. Here are the top three offensive sleepers in the NFL draft.
Top Three Offensive Sleepers in the NFL Draft
Jaret Patterson (Buffalo)
The first player of the top three offensive sleepers in the NFL draft is Jaret Patterson. Jaret Patterson has been one of the most consistent running backs in college football in the past three years, but he has rarely been talked about. He has flown under the radar because he plays for the University at Buffalo, so he doesn’t play the best defenses. Although they aren’t the greatest defenses, Patterson didn’t just play well against them, he dominated.
In three years, Patterson put up monstrous stats. He rushed for a total of 3,884 rushing yards, 52 touchdowns, and had an average of 6.1 yards per carry. If that doesn’t prove his dominance, well then maybe this will: In a game against Kent State this season, he rushed for a mindblowing 409 yards, eight touchdowns, and had an average of 11.4 yards. In general this season, he was a man playing amongst boys.
At 5’9″, 195 pounds, Patterson is on the smaller side, but he runs with a lot of force and is known for being a powerful back. Patterson is generally considered to be a downhill runner, but he also has some catching abilities which he displayed in 2019 when he had 209 receiving yards.
Patterson is a powerful running back with great consistency. At his smaller size, he can slip through blocks, but he can also power through defenders when needed. Although he likely won’t be a starter in the NFL, he can be a very good back up running back, especially on third downs.
Jaelon Darden (North Texas)
The second player of the top three offensive sleepers in the NFL draft is Jaelon Darden. As I have mentioned before, every year in the NFL there has been a couple of very good players coming out of day three in the draft. Jaelon Darden stands out as a can’t-miss day three player. He is very similar to one of the steals of the draft from last year, Darnell Mooney.
A big concern for many scouts is Darden is only listed at 5′ 9″, 174 pounds. Though he does need to get bigger, size has proven to be deceiving and has turned out to be not impactful, as was the case this past season with Darnell Mooney. Regardless, Darden is a very intriguing prospect due to his explosiveness. He is a dynamic downfield threat with very good hands that could become a very dangerous weapon in the NFL.
In his first three years of college, Darden didn’t put up the best numbers, as he had 156 receptions for 1,592 and 19 touchdowns. Although it is slightly concerning that he wasn’t the most consistent in college, his phenomenal senior season can’t be overlooked. Darden finished in the top five of many statistical categories this past season.
He had 74 receptions which were fifth in the nation, 1,190 receiving yards which were third in the nation, and 19 touchdowns which were second in the nation. Based on all this production, Darden was one of the best wide receivers this past season. With that production and his explosiveness downfield, he should not be passed upon, especially by a team that needs a wide receiver. He can turn out to be one of the best downfield threats in the NFL.
Davis Mills (Stanford)
The final player of the top three offensive players in the NFL draft is Davis Mills. First of all, Davis Mills is pure prospect. If drafted, he will need to be developed, as he is quite inexperienced with only 438 pass attempts under his belt. Overall, Mills didn’t put up flashy or impressive numbers, but he brings many intriguing traits to the table.
Starting off with his production in his two college seasons, Mills passed for 3,468 passing yards and 18 touchdowns while throwing eight interceptions. Though those numbers aren’t the best, he finished his college career with a 65.9% completion percentage which is very solid compared to other college quarterbacks. His stats don’t truly represent him, but his abilities and skills do.
Standing tall at 6’4″, 225 pounds, Mills has great size for a quarterback. He has a rifle for an arm, which correlates with his incredible accuracy on the deep ball. To reiterate, so this doesn’t get overlooked, Mills has an absolute cannon and can throw lasers around the field. He also has good reads and can work through his progressions. Lastly, against pressure, Mills is pretty good, as he lets the ball out quickly and has some mobility that helps him escape pressure to run for a first down or just have the time to throw it away.
Davis Mills is a pure prospect with great size, an extraordinary arm, and in general, is very talented. Mills has all the tools to be a great quarterback in the NFL, he just needs to put it together and needs more experience. With that in mind, a team should most definitely take a flier on him in the sixth or seventh round. Lastly, Mills can succeed, but he needs to go to a team with a lot of patience and a head coach that is excellent at developing players.