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Maximizing Value: 5 Players Who Could Outperform Their Draft Position | 2023 NFL Draft

The NFL draft is an important event for teams to build a competitive roster, and maximizing value is crucial. While early first-round picks may seem like a surefire way to hit a home run, finding quality contributors on days two and three is where general managers can truly make their mark. While every team has a differing approach to the draft, some teams have been particularly successful at finding value in recent years.

The Baltimore Ravens, for instance, have a track record of finding impact players in the middle rounds of the draft. In 2018, the Ravens drafted Mark Andrews and Orlando Brown in the 3rd round, grabbed center Bradley Bozeman in the 6th round, and traded into the late first to grab Lamar Jackson.

The New England Patriots have been historically successful at finding players who fit their system and can contribute in key ways. Tom Brady is the more known late-round commodity, but other players throughout the Belichick era, like Julian Edelman (2009, 7th rounder), a former college QB, or Jacobi Meyers (2019, undrafted), another former college QB. Both transitioned to the WR position.

The Kansas City Chiefs have found a lot of success in recent years in finding impact players on offense. If you remember, the Chiefs drafted Tyreek Hill in the 5th round of the 2016 NFL Draft and Travis Kelce in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Draft value is not a one size fits all situation. There are often circumstances surrounding the reason a talented player falls into the middle rounds. It could be the prospect's production in college, his athletic profile, or the player has a character flaw. The reality in each draft is that there will be value in the middle to late rounds.

While every team has its own unique approach to the draft, these teams have demonstrated a strong ability to identify talent and maximize the value of their draft picks.

Today, we will look at five players that could be steals based on their current NFL Draft projection.

Auburn RB Tank Bigsby: A Hidden Gem in the 2023 Running Back Class

Relevant Measurables

Ht: 6'0"

Wt: 210

40: 4.56

Projected Draft Round: 3rd-4th

The 2023 NFL Draft features several talented running backs, but teams searching for a steal in the mid-rounds should keep a close eye on Auburn's Tank Bigsby.

Auburn's rising star made a name for himself during the 2021 season by rushing for over 1,000 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns. Though he narrowly missed reaching that mark again in 2022, he still found the end zone 10 times while splitting carries with Jarquez Hunter.

Bigsby's physicality as a runner resulted in an average of 5.4 yards per carry on 179 attempts, a significant improvement from the previous year. Despite not being the fastest back in the class, his 4.56-second 40-yard dash time, paired with his agility and vision, makes him a force to be reckoned with.

While he may have some limitations as a pass-catcher, Bigsby's growth in that area could see him become a true three-down back in the NFL. And with his incredible value for being available late on Day 3, he is a great addition to any team looking to bolster their running game.

Nebraska WR Trey Palmer: A Speedster with Upside

Relevant Measurables

Ht: 6'0"

Wt: 192

40: 4.33

Projected Draft Round: 3rd-6th

Trey Palmer, a former five-star recruit who transferred from LSU to Nebraska, has made a name after performing at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine.

Palmer's most significant selling point is his pure speed, which could make him valuable to an offense if utilized correctly. While his ball skills and overall game are still raw, his potential to develop into a complementary wide receiver target and a big-play creator in a vertical offense is enticing.

Overall, Palmer's upside could be limited, but his speed and athleticism make him an intriguing option for teams looking to add depth at the wide receiver position on Day 3 of the draft. In the worst-case scenario, he could still be a dynamic return player who earns a spot on the 53-man roster and plays on gameday.

Stanford WR Michael Wilson: A Sleeper Pick with Potential

Relevant Measurables

Ht: 6'2"

Wt: 213

40: 4.58

Vertical: 37.5"

Projected Draft Round: 3rd

Despite attending Stanford, Michael Wilson may have flown under some people's radars due to his injury history, which limited his playing time. However, he showed promising potential in the limited snaps he did receive. In 2019, Wilson saw the field for more passing snaps than he did from 2020-2022 combined.

At 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds, Wilson is a bigger wide receiver who impressed scouts with his crispness in getting out of his breaks. This is a vital skill for success at the NFL level, and Wilson's ability to execute with precision could make him a valuable asset for a team in need of a reliable target.

Although his injury history may have contributed to his being overlooked, his strong showing at the Senior Bowl has likely put him on the radar of NFL teams. It's doubtful he'll be available beyond Day 2 of the 2023 NFL draft, making him a potential sleeper pick with significant upside.

Maryland CB Deonte Banks: A Strong and Athletic Cornerback

Relevant Measurables

Ht: 6'0"

Wt: 197

40: 4.35

Vertical: 42"

Projected Draft Round: Late 1st-Early 2nd

Deonte Banks possesses desirable size and athleticism; standing at 6'2" and weighing 205 pounds, he has excellent speed and agility. His fluid transitions and a rare ability to mirror opposing receivers make him an asset on the field.

Banks uses his size and impressive closing ability to get from point A to point B in a flash to disrupt the catch point. He can excel in both press and man coverage. Banks is an appealing player for teams that place a premium on press coverage and Cover 3 schemes.

Before the NFL Combine, Banks was considered a potential day-two pick. After he ran a 4.35 40, and posted an explosive 42" vertical, Banks is not as much of a sleeper as he was once considered and is generating mid to late 1st round NFL Draft buzz. If he does fall to the late 1st or early 2nd, he will be a great value.

Wisconsin IDL Keeanu Benton: A Well-Rounded Versatile Defensive Lineman

Relevant Measurables

Ht: 6'4"

Wt: 309

Projected Draft Round: 2nd-3rd

Keeanu Benton is a highly regarded defensive lineman in the upcoming draft class, known for his well-rounded abilities. He has a wide range of pass-rushing moves, which he uses very effectively. Over his four years at Wisconsin, Benton has been a consistent performer, but his senior season was truly exceptional, with 27 run stops, 28 pressures, and 6 sacks.

Benton's explosiveness is a key factor in his success, allowing him to gain leverage at the point of attack. He also has a strong anchor, making him effective in both the run and pass game.

Benton showcased his potential at the Senior Bowl, impressing scouts with his ability to play anywhere along the line. As a well-rounded defensive lineman, Benton has the potential to make a significant impact at the next level.


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