The 2022 NFL draft took place this past weekend and 262 college athletes from all over the country had their dreams come true. While all these guys are happy now, the realization will eventually sink in. They were drafted not so they can fulfil their dream but for the teams to find the next super star. By the last pre-season game, some of these guys will be on a practice squad and the hopes of running out of the tunnel and playing a NFL snap will begin to fade. However, there are a few that were drafted late or some who were overlooked and went un-drafted who will excel on the gridiron and who exceeded expectations. Just like there will be some that will go down as complete draft busts.
We all know Tom Brady’s story. He was drafted in the 6th round as the 199th pick in the 2000 draft. Now 22 years later he is a superstar with 7x Super Bowl Titles, 5x Super Bowl MVP, 3x NFL MVP, 15x Pro-Bowler, just to name a few accomplishments.
Let’s look at another all-time great. Zach Thomas was drafted in the fifth round of the 1996 draft by the Miami Dolphins. Zach went on to be a seven time Pro-Bowler and seven time All-Pro linebacker. He was named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and in 2015 was inducted into the College Football Hall-of-Fame.
So who is this years sleeper pick? Damone Clark, LSU linebacker, has incredible intangibles. Drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 5th Round with the 33rd pick. Damone underwent surgery right after the NFL combine which hurt his draft stock, but when you do an honest evaluation of him, he has first round grades. He led the LSU Tigers on defense in 2020 and 2021 in tackles. In 2021, he lead the SEC and was second nationally in tackles with 135. He is 6’3″ and ran a 4.5 40 at the NFL combine. Just to remind you, he performed that 40 yard dash hurt, so his 40 time is actually faster.
What makes Damone one of my 2022 NFL Draft sleepers? Besides the fact that he is a tackling machine, Damone is a sideline to sideline player, rangy, and has great instincts. In 2021, he dominated the SEC and was a 2nd Team All-SEC and 2nd Team All-American as well as a Finalist for the Butkus Award (for the best linebacker in the country).