The Arizona Cardinals have done well with their late round picks the last two seasons under general manager Steve Keim. In the third round, they landed Tyrann Mathieu and John Brown in consecutive years. They got Andre Ellington in the sixth round in 2013 and Ed Stinton in the fifth round in 2014.
What sleepers could Arizona get this year in the NFL Draft?
According to SB Nation's Dan Kadar, there are eight players who could be late round sleepers and make a solid impact in their first year in the league. That list includes three pass rushers, which happens to be an area of need for the Cardinals and a likely focus in the draft.
The list includes some cornerbacks and receivers, as well as a running back that fits the big and fast back Arizona could seek, but this will focus on the pass rushers.
Here they are:
Norkeithus Otis, 6'1, 235 pounds, OLB, North Carolina
If he didn't play through a hamstring injury in 2014, chances are a lot more people would know about Otis. In 2013, he registered 49 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. Otis played the hybrid "bandit" position for North Carolina. Basically, it's a mix of being a traditional end and stand-up rush linebacker. When he's healthy, Otis displays a good burst and has range in space. In the right situation, Otis could have a nice role as a pass rush specialist in the NFL.
Gabe Martin, 6'2, 236 pounds, OLB, Bowling Green
Playing in the Mid-American Conference, it was easy to overlook Martin. But with a career of 246 tackles, 31 tackles for loss and 10 sacks, he's on the radar as a late-round prospect. He has solid instincts and good range to make plays sideline-to-sideline. At the least, Martin should be able to start his career making a contribution on special teams player and could slide into a starting weak-side position.
Kyle Emanuel, 6'4 1/2, 254 pounds, OLB, North Dakota State
For teams searching for a pass rusher deep in the draft, Emanuel is an attractive choice. Last season he had an unbelievable 32.5 tackles for loss, 19.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. More importantly, he has the skills to back up those numbers. Emanuel hustles to the ball on every play and plays aggressively. He'll likely move from end to linebacker in the NFL to take advantage of his motor and agility.
Should the Cardinals take a flyer on any one of these guys? Emanuel has the right size for what the Cardinals like to do with their outside linebackers. What about Martin or Otis?