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2023 NFL Draft sleepers: Day 2 standouts and Day 3 hidden gems to target

Last week, we identified the six can’t miss prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, according to the Next Gen Stats Draft Model. Leveraging the same model, we're now spotlighting the top potential sleepers in this year's class.

By combining Daniel Jeremiah's ranking of the top 150 prospects and the results of the NGS Draft Model, we've identified starter-caliber players who are still available heading into Round 2 on Friday.

This is the fourth year we've released our list of Day 2 standouts and Day 3 hidden gems. In 2020, our top Day 2 standout was Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Taylor; in 2021, Green Bay Packers CB Eric Stokes; last season, it was Chicago Bears S Jaquan Brisker. All three earned starting roles as rookies. Taylor reached All-Pro status in Year 2.

There's intel to be gleaned beyond the featured players at the top of each section, too. Don't overlook the "MORE NAMES TO KNOW" below. Over the years, those lists have correctly identified a raft of instant-impact players, including Jordyn Brooks, Jeremy Chinn, Chase Claypool, Kyle Dugger, Willie Gay Jr. and Logan Wilson in 2020 alone.

Who made this year's list of Day 2 standouts and Day 3 hidden gems?


Jalin Hyatt
Tennessee · WR · 21 years old
  • DJ’s Big Board Ranking: No. 42
  • Production Score: 88
  • Athleticism Score: 86

Innovative NFL offensive architects have embraced a fundamental principle: speed creates space, and space creates opportunities. Hyatt, perhaps the top field-stretcher in the draft, exemplifies this principle. The reigning Biletnikoff Award winner burst onto the scene as a junior, topping the SEC in receiving yards (1,267) and touchdowns (15), including a historic five-touchdown performance against Alabama. PFF reveals that over half of his receiving yards (677) and touchdowns (8) came from deep targets. However, concerns remain about whether his impressive college production will translate to the NFL, given the opportunities provided by playing in a super-spread offense under Josh Heupel.

Despite these concerns, Hyatt's athletic profile suggests an innate ability to stretch the field for any offense. Going beyond his 4.40-second time in the 40-yard dash, Hyatt's top speed of 24.29 mph during his 40 run (as recorded by NGS tracking data) placed him as the third-fastest player at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. Further solidifying his explosiveness, Hyatt registered a 1.50 10-yard split, an 11-foot-3 broad jump and a 40-inch vertical, with those latter two numbers placing him in the top 10th percentile of wide receivers since 2003.

This blend of speed potential (86 athleticism score) and peak performance (88 production) has earned Hyatt the top spot (87 overall) in the NGS draft score among wide receivers. With such tremendous upside, Hyatt is a prime Day 2 target for a speed-needy team that decides to pass on a receiver in Round 1.

DJ Turner II
Michigan · CB · 22 years old
  • DJ’s Big Board Ranking: No. 62
  • Production Score: 74
  • Athleticism Score: 97

Turner officially ran the fastest 40-yard dash among this year's combine participants, logging the only sub-4.3 time in Indy. Turner’s elite 40 speed, combined with a 1.47 10-yard split and a 10-foot-11 broad jump, earned him a 97 NGS athleticism score -- the highest of any Michigan prospect in the NGS dataset dating back to 2003.

Although Turner lacks the ideal arm length of a prototypical press cornerback (30 3/4 inches, slightly below the position average), his exceptional speed allowed Michigan to trust him in press coverage. According to PFF, just six players in the FBS played more press than Turner (394 snaps) over the 2021 and '22 seasons. Opposing quarterbacks targeted Turner 130 times in his final two seasons, but the speedy corner rose to the challenge, allowing completions on fewer than half of those targets (59).

Josh Downs
North Carolina · WR · 21 years old
  • DJ’s Big Board Ranking: No. 60
  • Production Score: 88
  • Athleticism Score: 76

Downs enters the draft with the second-highest overall score of any wide receiver in the 2023 class, trailing only Jalin Hyatt (88). At 5-foot-8 3/4 and 171 pounds, Downs might have been considered a sure-fire first-round pick if he had a larger frame.

The second-team All-American posted 90-plus receptions, 1,000-plus receiving yards and eight-plus touchdowns in each of his last two seasons at Chapel Hill. Those marks helped Downs earn an 88 NGS production score, tied for the second-highest among 2023 draft-eligible receivers behind only Jordan Addison (91).

Downs and DJ Turner II share more than just a place on this list. The two players were once teammates and key contributors to the North Gwinnett High School team that won the 7A state championship in 2017. At NGHS, Downs finished third in the state in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump. That translated to the combine, where the North Carolina star jumped 10-foot-11, putting him in the top 6 percentile among wide receivers invited to the event since 2003.

Darnell Washington
Georgia · TE · 21 years old
  • DJ’s Big Board Ranking: No. 33
  • Production Score: 75
  • Athleticism Score: 91

There may not be a more intriguing height-weight-speed prospect in this year’s class than Washington. At 6-6 5/8 and 264 pounds, Washington ran a 4.64 40-yard dash in Indianapolis. His height, arm and hand size all rank in the top 10th percentile of tight ends since 2003, and he shares a similar size and speed profile with Rob Gronkowski.

Washington posted an outstanding combine performance at Lucas Oil Stadium, earning a 91 athleticism score in the NGS Draft Model. Among his many eye-popping numbers was his 4.08 short shuttle time, which was the third-fastest by a tight end over 260 pounds at the combine since 2003.

Overshadowed by All-American Brock Bowers for much of his Georgia career, Washington amassed just 45 receptions over his three years as a Bulldog. However, he capitalized on those opportunities, averaging an impressive 17.2 yards per reception. While the dynamic athlete still has room to develop as a receiver, Washington's formidable frame should enable him to contribute immediately as an inline blocker at the next level.

MORE NAMES TO KNOW IN THE DAY 2 RANGE: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina; Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin; Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State; John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota; Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State.


Rashee Rice
SMU · WR · 23 years old
  • DJ’s Big Board Ranking: No. 123
  • Production Score: 79
  • Athleticism Score: 84

On Day 3 of the NFL draft, it's unusual for prospects who have the trifecta -- size, athleticism and collegiate production -- to still be available. But should Rice still be on the board when Round 4 begins, he would qualify as such a talent.

At just under 6-1 and 204 pounds, Rice's official 40 time of 4.51 seconds is close to the average for wide receivers who ran at the combine over the last five years (4.50 seconds). However, it's his outstanding 1.49-second 10-yard split and 41-inch vertical jump that catapulted him to an 84 NGS athleticism score, tying for the fourth-highest mark among receivers at the 2023 combine.

The second-team AP All-American led the FBS in receiving yards per game (112.9) and concluded his senior season with 96 receptions for 1,355 yards and 10 touchdowns. To put those numbers in perspective, SMU's next-leading receiver finished with just 37 receptions.

Ricky Stromberg
Arkansas · C · 22 years old
  • DJ’s Big Board Ranking: No. 124
  • Production Score: 69
  • Athleticism Score: 86

Pedigree and athletic profile make Stromberg an enticing prospect who should be available come Day 3. A four-year starter at Arkansas, Stromberg took home the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which is awarded to the best blocker in the SEC, in his final season, when he did not allow a QB hit on 399 pass-blocking snaps, according to PFF.

Stromberg earned the second-highest athleticism score (86) among interior offensive linemen in this draft class after showing off his explosiveness and change-of-direction skills during his pre-draft workouts. At the NFL Scouting Combine, he tied for the highest vertical jump (32.5 inches) among all interior offensive linemen, and at his pro day, Stromberg clocked a 7.5-second three cone -- close to the threshold that predicts elite performance for interior linemen at the next level.

A.T. Perry
Wake Forest · WR · 23 years old
  • DJ’s Big Board Ranking: No. 126
  • Production Score: 81
  • Athleticism Score: 72

Perry is an intriguing Day 3 prospect who possesses an ideal combination of height (6-3 1/2), length (33 1/4-inch arms), speed (4.47 40), explosiveness (11-foot-1 broad jump) and quickness (6.81-second three cone at his pro day).

On the field, Perry consistently demonstrated his prowess as a receiver, exceeding 70 receptions, 1,000 yards, and 10 touchdowns in each of the 2021 and '22 seasons, becoming the first player in program history to log multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons. As NFL teams evaluate their options in the later rounds of the draft, Perry's blend of physical attributes and consistent on-field performance makes him an enticing prospect to watch.

Zack Kuntz
Old Dominion · TE · 23 years old
  • DJ’s Big Board Ranking: Not ranked
  • Production Score: 67
  • Athleticism Score: 94

Kuntz spent his first three seasons at Penn State, totaling three receptions before transferring to Old Dominion. He became a focal point for the Monarch's aerial attack in 2021, hauling in a team-high 73 receptions. Kuntz's final year of eligibility in 2022 was cut short after five games due to a knee injury. 

Despite just one year of plus production, the 23-year-old tight end profiles as a rare athlete with an impressive frame. Measuring in at an impressive 6-7 3/8, 255 pounds, Kuntz checked every box at the combine. Explosiveness? Kuntz cleared the elite 35-inch threshold in the vertical jump by five inches. Speed? Kuntz ran a 4.55-second 40, the fastest time at the combine among players measuring 6-7 or taller since 2003 and second-fastest time among tight ends this year. In fact, Kuntz ranked in the 90th percentile at his position in all five measurable drills this year.

MORE NAMES TO KNOW IN THE DAY 3 RANGE: Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati; Luke Wypler, C, Ohio State; Jakorian Bennett, CB, Maryland; YaYa Diaby, Edge, Louisville.

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