The Most Overlooked Gems in the NFL Draft


Every year, the NFL Draft captures the attention of football fans around the world. While the top picks garner the most hype and headlines, there are always hidden gems lurking in the later rounds that end up making a big impact. These overlooked prospects often prove that draft position isn’t everything. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most underrated players in this year’s draft class who have the potential to be difference-makers at the next level. 

T’Vondre Sweat: The Disruptive Force 

Defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat out of Texas may have slipped to the 2nd round due to some off-field concerns, but his on-field talent is undeniable. At 6’4″ and 366 lbs, Swett is a massive space-eater in the middle who requires double teams on nearly every play. 

What sets Sweat apart is his surprising quickness and pass-rushing ability for a man his size. He’s not just a run-stuffer; Sweat has a repertoire of moves and the lateral agility to create pressure up the middle. Paired with star DT Jeffrey Simmons, the Tennessee Titans’ defensive line could be downright scary with Sweat collapsing pockets. Don’t be surprised if Sweat makes an immediate impact as a rookie and develops into one of the draft’s biggest steals. 

Terrion Arnold: The Reliable Corner  

It’s extremely rare to find a player ranked as one of the top two or three defensive players in most experts’ draft analysis falling all the way down to No. 24. However, thanks to the heavy rush of offensive players in the first half of the opening round, the Detroit Lions were able to move up and take advantage. By selecting Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold, the Lions found an immediate impact player who will give wide receivers like Justin Jefferson fits in the coming years. 

Arnold is coming off a tremendous season where he was named first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC. He tied for sixth in FBS in 2023 with five interceptions and was fifth with 17 passes defended. Arnold isn’t just known for his athletic ability, he’s also got tremendous speed and strong footwork. Additionally, he’s excellent at stopping the run, something that should help the Lions money line next season when playing good running backs.  

Tyrone Tracy Jr.: The Versatile Weapon 

The New York Giants may have found a hidden gem in the 5th round with Purdue running back Tyrone Tracy Jr. A former wide receiver at Iowa, Tracy made a smooth transition to the backfield and showed natural running ability in his first season at the position. Given the loss of Saquan Barkley, the Giants are looking for someone to step up as the new No. 1 guy. 

Tracy’s experience as a pass-catcher makes him a nightmare matchup coming out of the backfield. He runs crisp routes and has reliable hands. In a pass-happy Giants offense, Tracy could thrive as a chess piece that creates mismatches. Whether it’s catching screens, running wheel routes, or taking handoffs, Tracy has the skill set to be a significant contributor from day one. Fantasy football managers should keep Tracy on their sleeper radar. 

Kamal Hadden: The Ballhawk 

University of Tennessee cornerback Kamal Hadden’s stock soared after a standout final season, but he still feels undervalued as a 6th-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs. Hadden’s instincts and ball skills are elite. He has a knack for reading the quarterback’s eyes, breaking on throws, and making plays on the ball. 

In the Chiefs’ cover 2 heavy scheme under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Hadden projects as an ideal fit. His ability to patrol underneath zones and attack throws should lead to an abundance of pass breakups and interceptions. Hadden has the upside to develop into a true No. 1 corner and a turnover machine on the back end. Chiefs fans should be excited about the playmaking potential Hayden brings to the secondary. 

Dylon McMahon: The Anchor 

The Philadelphia Eagles have a history of finding mid-round gems on the offensive line (Jason Kelce). NC State center Dylon McMahon could be the next in line. A three-year starter in college, McMahon is technically sound with the athleticism to thrive in a zone-blocking scheme. 

McMahon’s intelligence, toughness, and leadership qualities make him an ideal fit in the Eagles’ OL room. While he may not start from day one, McMahon has the potential to be the long-term answer at center given Kelce’s retirement. McMahon is hoping to make a seamless transition and solidify the interior of the Eagles’ line for years to come. This is the type of pick that doesn’t generate a ton of buzz on draft day but could pay major dividends. 

The Bottom Line 

The NFL Draft is an inexact science. For every can’t-miss prospect, there are dozens of overlooked players who end up carving out great careers. This year’s class is no different. From T’Vondre Sweat’s disruptive potential to Tyrone Tracy Jr.’s versatile skill set to Dylon McMahon, there are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. 

The key is finding the right fit. Whether it’s scheme, coaching, or opportunity, landing in the ideal situation can be the catalyst for a breakout. So while the first-round picks get all the attention on draft night, remember that impact talent can be found on all three days.  

These underrated prospects have the potential to be the unsung heroes that help take their teams to the next level. Only time will tell, but don’t be surprised if we look back on this draft in a few years and marvel at the number of steals that emerged from the later rounds. The NFL Draft is the ultimate exercise in projecting potential. For these hidden gems, the sky’s the limit.