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Draft Central | 2022

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2022 NFL Draft: Eight "Sleeper" Options For No. 24


By this point in the NFL Draft process, the names of likely prospects become repetitive. Especially surrounding the Cowboys and their impending 24th overall selection in the first round.

A trade-up or a trade-down scenario is always present on draft night, depending on how the board falls. Teams get aggressive, others get conservative, while the remaining stay put and allow the other prospects to fall. All making for the most unpredictable night on the NFL calendar.

Even so, there is always a short list of names that seem to be the most likely. Offensive lineman Zion Johnson (Boston College), Kenyon Green (Texas A&M), and Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa) are at the top of that list. While talented wide receivers Treylon Burks (Arkansas) and Chris Olave (Ohio State) were each on the visit list earlier in the month.

There is a strong likelihood that the Cowboys first round pick will be one of the five previously listed names. However, with so many holes on the roster and the volatility of the first 23 picks, there is always room for the not-so-common selection to be made. Allowing for the creation of a second list, the sleepers.

Prospects that may not be as well known, but still hold a certain chance to be on the card when the decisions are made behind the closed doors of the War Room.

The first few names, unsurprisingly, are also on the offensive line. Bernhard Raimann from Central Michigan has been known to link with Dallas and is thought to be a first-round prospect. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 303-pounds, he is a little light to be in the first-round offensive tackle conversation, but his ceiling is keeping him there.

A transition from tight end to tackle halfway through his collegiate career doesn't help his stature, despite adding 60-pounds to his frame over the last two years. Raimann may not be the most exciting pick at 24th overall but his potential to be the tackle of the future could be enticing enough to look at either in the first, or as a trade up prospect in the second.

Other offensive names are also possible to sneak up, including offensive tackle Tyler Smith from Tulsa, who had rumored to be in the conversations at the back end of the first into the second. Wide receivers Drake London (USC) and John Metchie III (Alabama) could also be in the mix as high-level targets. London would most likely be taken before 24, while Metchie could easily land after the Cowboys' pick, so each could be a target if trade talks emerge when the round begins to unfold.

All of which would fill the voids left by the departures of Amari Cooper and La'el Collins this offseason. While prepping for the future in either the receiver room or on an aging offensive line.

Defensively, there doesn't seem to be a ton of noise surrounding the first-round selection. Which could either mean Dallas isn't interested, or they're keeping their options close to the chest while planning to upgrade at key spots like linebacker, interior defensive line, and edge rusher.

Jordan Davis has been one of the darlings of the draft season. He is a big-meaty defensive tackle out of Georgia, who has the athleticism and the tape to be top 15 worthy. Conversely, there could be some hesitation from teams because of his stamina and two-down limitations rather than being an every-down contributor in the NFL.

If Dallas went with the defensive tackle position, it would be the fourth straight draft with at least one defensive tackle taken in the first three rounds. Luckily, there are other ways they could upgrade their front seven. George Karlaftis, edge rusher out of Purdue, could slip to 24 with the right number of changeups in the early picks.

Dallas could also draft a linebacker like Devin Lloyd (Utah) to pair with Micah Parsons for the future, but only if the board dries up at offensive line and wide receiver. Lloyd has the ideal size, speed, and versatility to play the middle linebacker role and turn the second level of the Cowboys defense into one of the most feared in the NFL.

All the names mentioned fit the many needs for Dallas, and while they aren't the more mentioned names in the draft, they all bring a level of value to their position.

So how about a sleeper position?

Cornerback is a position that Dallas draft nuts have mentioned for years. But with the emergence of Trevon Diggs along with the pairing of veterans Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis, the corner spot is on the backburner. However, Kaiir Elam has met with the Cowboys previously and could be a great fit for the future.

Drafting a cornerback isn't a massive need, but Elam could instant depth and playmaking skills. Is it enough to take Elam in the first round over another massive need? Not likely, but also not impossible.

The adage of 'expect the unexpected' has been truer than ever each of the last few seasons. CeeDee Lamb in 2020 and Parsons last year were two names called unexpectedly compared to the others that were in the fold throughout the offseason.

So, the question must be asked, who could it be this year?

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