3 SEC Sleepers For The 2020 NFL Draft

Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For a conference that has dominated the NFL draft as long as the SEC has, can you really say that any prospect is a "sleeper," at this point?

(Yes, you still can.)

Just because they play in what many people refer to as the NFL's minor league system doesn't mean all these draft eligible players are destined for the first round or even draft cycle fame. Some players will end up being late round and even undrafted picks, and because of that there are players who don't get as much hype as others going into a season.

This year there are a handful of players who I believe aren't getting enough hype as we sit here in the month of August, but by draft time there's a chance that almost everyone could know their names.

Marco Wilson, CB, Florida

It's weird to say that Marco Wilson is "forgotten," as he is still so young, but his timeline as a college football corner has been quite accelerated, so the time he's missed makes it true.

As a true freshman in 2017, the younger brother of former Colts second round pick Quincy Wilson made the SEC All-Freshman Team after playing in 11 games with 34 tackles and a team leading 10 pass break ups. But unfortunately for Wilson, and for Florida fans, he tore his ACL in Week 2 against Kentucky in 2018.

At 6-foot, 190 pounds, Wilson plays a style of corner that is very valuable in today's NFL. His preference is to play man coverage, and he likes getting physical with wide receivers at the catch point. As just a true freshman, Wilson showed an advanced level of comfort playing with his back to the ball. These, along with the appropriate athletic traits, are the skills you want to see for a highly drafted cornerback.

Wilson will play opposite C.J. Henderson this season, so teams will likely still throw the ball Wilson's way plenty. If he shows progression, even from what we saw his freshman season, his stock could soar.

Monty Rice, LB, Georgia

They call him "The Businessman."

The former 3-star linebacker Monty Rice played in nine games for Georgia last season, starting five. He was third on the team in tackles with 59 before a foot injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.

As if his serious, business-like (hence the nickname) approach was prevalent before, those around the Georgia program -- players and coaches -- say Rice is even more eager and focused on the 2019 season, seeing as his 2018 season was cut short.

There are some who are saying that Rice will be the man to fill the shoes left by former first round pick Roquan Smith. Those are some big shoes to fill -- from an athletic, leadership and centerpiece stand point. But there are some who believe Rice is ready. In his first year as a starter, Roquan averaged 7.3 tackles per game. Before his injury, Rice was averaging 6.5

Smith went on to have a 137 tackle season in 2018 -- his third and final year -- before declaring for the NFL Draft. That's what Rice is shooting for in his third season. So far his athleticism shows up more than his anticipation. Marrying the two will be what allows him to go from a sleeper to a stud.

Michael Divinity, LB, LSU

When watching LSU's linebackers last season, it was hard for your eyes to not immediately go to future first round pick and now Tampa Bay Buccaneer Devin White. But there was another linebacker playing next to him that has some NFL talent, too.

In 2018, the 6-foot-2, 240 pound Michael Divinity started 11 games and finished the season with 54 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. He was listed as an outside linebacker last year, doing a decent amount of work on the edge as a pass rusher, but this season LSU lists him as an inside linebacker.

LSU has two linebacker positions: MAC and ROVER. Devin White played the ROVER position last season, and though Divinity isn't taking over White's roll, he is slotted to play the MAC position. The switch is an interesting one because Divinity showed some nice pass rush flashes in 2018 -- though the flashes were just flashes, not consistent. He looked the part of a pass rusher, but didn't have enough moves mastered to consistently make a different off the snap or even in counter situations. Divinity will still get to pressure the pocket up the middle, as LSU does that often with their linebackers. If Divinity can round out his game and show he can provide pressure from the middle, too, teams will have two seasons of productive tape to analyze and enjoy in an area of the game that holds heavy impact.

Written By:

Trevor Sikkema

Senior NFL Draft Analyst

Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-Host of the Locked On NFL Draft Podcast.

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