The Cincinnati Bengals will be on the clock with the 21st overall pick in Thursday night's NFL Draft. The team has 10 picks in the seven rounds, including two each in Rounds 2, 6 and 7.
But the draft doesn’t end there.
Head coach Marvin Lewis and staff have a strong track record of finding diamonds in the rough among the leftovers. They have unearthed a few gems, most recently linebacker Vontaze Burfict last year.
Here are some sleepers for Cincinnati to keep an eye on:
New Hampshire cornerback Dontra Peters is nicknamed the “Swiss Army Knife” for a reason. He can play defensive back, wide receiver, running back, kick returner and punt returner. Peters was an all-conference running back in 2010 and 2011, and was second in the conference with 1,533 all-purpose yards. In 2012 he made an unselfish move to defense to give the team a presence at the corner position. Peters led the team in interceptions with four while registering 49 total tackles (41 solo, 8 assisted), a forced fumble, four pass breakups and an assisted tackle for loss.
The 5-foot-11, 201-pound Peters is a press corner and good in run support. He’s athletic with good upside and will continue to learn the CB position with experience/training. New Hampshire played a lot of man coverage and some zone. He may be best served at safety in the pros.
Peters worked out for the Seattle Seahawks and at least half a dozen teams have expressed interest.
Projection: Priority Free Agent
South Florida linebacker Sam Barrington may be the most versatile in the draft at his position. He played all three linebacker spots his senior season. Barrington is a blue-collar guy who plays with tenacity. He’s an excellent hitter who shows explosion when he strikes and can stop a ball carrier on contact. He is physical and aggressive with a nose for the ball. He’s good at taking on blocks and shows great sideline-to-sideline pursuit. He has the ability to compete for a starting spot at the WILL position.
Barrington has football smarts and demonstrates strong leadership on defense. He has good ball skills and is an intense competitor.
Projection: 4th or 5th round
Illinois State outside linebacker Evan Frierson (6-1, 237) is raw but extremely athletic and productive. He recorded 138 tackles, 13 sacks and 27 tackles for loss in two seasons with the Redbirds. Frierson transferred from Illinois after his sophomore year. He has good size, quickness, change-of-direction and ability to rush the passer. He plays with high intensity and motor with good burst in pursuit.
Frierson worked out for the Bengals at his pro day. Others showing interest includes Chicago, Seattle and the New York Jets.
Projection: 6th or 7th round
Old Dominion inside/outside linebacker Craig Wilkins may be a sleeper but his stock has been on the rise since his pro day.
The 6-foot-1, 238-pound Wilkins ran 4.5 in the 40-yard dash with a 36-inch vertical jump and banged out 28 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. The little-known linebacker led his team with 90 tackles and 6.4 sacks during the 2012 season. He finished his college career as ODU's all-time leader in tackles with 340, tackles for loss with 40.0, sacks with 13.5, fumbles forced and fumbles recovered, and is tied for the career lead with nine interceptions. Wilkins is one of the more intriguing linebackers in the draft.
Cincinnati and Cleveland worked him out.
Projection: 7th round
Furman running back Jerodis Williams put up some impressive numbers at Coastal Carolina’s pro day. At least one scout clocked him anywhere between 4.47 and 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, 4.26 in the short shuttle and 6.53 in the three-cone drill (tied for second-best at the combine).
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Williams recorded a 39.5 vertical and 10-foot, 1-inch broad jump. The following highlight reel speaks for his talent.
Projection: Priority Free Agent