<
>

Five NFL draft sleepers from the SEC

It was surprising to see Carl Lawson, one of the SEC's best natural pass-rushers, fall to the fourth round. Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

Well, the NFL draft is over and your team is 1,000 times better. Yep, that's not hyperbole. That's pure, unadulterated fact.

And what makes us that much more giddy about our respective team's draft is the ability to find that diamond in the rough. Star picks are obvious, but that sleeper pick is what you brag to your friends about.

The SEC might have led all conferences in draft picks (53) for the 11th straight year, but there was a lot of sleeper value in some of those selections, as 23 SEC players were taken during the final four rounds.

So who were the best of those undervalued picks? Who are the top SEC sleepers from the 2017 NFL Draft? Let's take a look:

1. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn: How one of the SEC's best natural pass-rushers fell to the fourth round (pick 116, to be exact) was a bit surprising. Yes, he has an injury-plagued past, but he's coming off of a nine-sack season with 13.5 TFLs. I've seen where his arm length is too short, but this guy has an absolute motor and is very good against both the run and the pass. He could begin as a third-down end, but he has every-down potential. The Cincinnati Bengals got a real steal with Lawson.

2. Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU: Playing in a pass-restrictive offense for three years didn't help Dupre (he never reached 700 receiving yards in a season). The late seventh-round pick (No. 247) has been knocked when it comes to his speed, but at 6-foot-3, 196 pounds, he's a big target for the Green Bay Packers and has the hands and the strength to be a major red zone weapon for Aaron Rodgers. Dupre might not develop into a Hall of Fame receiver, but Rodgers had to be excited about getting a physical threat like that so late in the draft.

3. Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Georgia: McKenzie's fifth-round selection (No. 172 to the Denver Broncos) was about right, but he has a ton of special-teams upside at the NFL level. He could make an impact for the Broncos at the slot position, but his real potential is in the return game, where he had five punt returns for touchdowns and kickoff return for a touchdown in three years at Georgia.

4. Will Holden, OL, Vanderbilt: A lot of people didn't know much about Holden before or probably even after the draft. But at 6-foot-7 and change, Holden should garner a lot of immediate attention from his Arizona Cardinals teammates. Holden was drafted in the fifth round by the Cardinals (No. 157). He's a quick, strong lineman, but needs to get stronger in his core. He held his own against better SEC pass-rushers and could be fine with more of a zone blocking scheme.

5. D.J. Jones, DL, Ole Miss: Another rarely talked about prospect, Jones was a -- sorry, Rebels -- bulldog for Ole Miss in the middle. He's not a guy who collects a lot of stats (just 8.5 TFLs the last two years), but he was excellent at pushing plays toward his teammates. Jones went in the sixth round (No. 198) to the San Francisco 49ers, which is probably about right for him, but he's solid against the run and could develop into a quality nose tackle in the future.