Which offensive sleepers will wake up in AZ?

General Managers across the NFL are scouring the college ranks for this year's diamonds in the rough. Cards GM Rod Graves has found success in recent years with late-round selections, a feat he hopes to continue this April. Brad Wilbricht looks at this year's over-looked prospects and unveils his top offensive sleepers in the 2008 draft.

Quarterback: Mark Nicolet, Hillsdale College

Nicolet burst onto the scene after being named MVP of the Div. II all-star game, known as the Cactus Bowl. He passed for 103 yards and three TDs, while adding 41 yards on the ground. Although Nicolet lacks ideal size (6'2", 224 pounds), he displays good overall awareness. He demonstrates the ability to read opposing defenses and find open receivers.

Nicolet features the arm strength needed to make all throws at the NFL level. During his senior season, he racked up 3,335 yards passing and tossed 31 touchdowns. The main concern regarding Nicolet is his level of competition. Scouts question his ability to perform against NFL caliber players.

The Cardinals have no major need at quarterback and could take a chance on a late-round prospect like Nicolet. He has improved dramatically over the past two seasons and could boast the most potential of the unheralded quarterbacks.

Running Back: Albert Young, Iowa

Young (5'9", 208 pounds) is a multi-talented threat who was slowed by injuries early in his college career. He features polished blocking skills and is an excellent receiving target. Young is a tough runner with outstanding lower-body strength. He excels after contact and is determined to wear down opposing defenses.

Young possesses exceptional instincts and vision. Although he lacks top-end speed, he compensates with quickness and a swift change of direction. He was extremely productive for the Hawkeyes, racking up 3,878 total yards and 25 touchdowns. Young must overcome durability problems that hampered him in college. Young red-shirted his freshman year after suffering a knee injury in spring practice. In 2004, he missed the team's final ten games after requiring surgery to repair a torn ACL. If healthy, Young could provide the Cardinals with an excellent third-down option.


WR Ernie Wheelwright
Doug Pensinger/Getty

Wide Receiver: Ernie Wheelwright, Minnesota

Wheelwright possesses excellent size (6'4", 215 pounds) and adequate top-end speed for a player of his stature. His long arms and strong hands allow him to excel in jump-ball situations.

Wheelwright has proved to be extremely durable. He played in all 49 games during his college career without suffering a major injury. He thrives in the vertical passing game, averaging 15.3 yards per completion. In addition to football, he demonstrated his versatility while participating on the basketball and track teams.

Wheelwright caught 26 career touchdowns for the Golden Gophers and would provide the Cardinals with an additional red-zone target. His inconsistency and sub-par route-running skills have hurt his draft stock, but his upside in undeniable. He has enormous potential and would benefit learning from the Cardinals tremendous tandem of wide receivers.

Tight End: Kolomona Kapanui, West Texas A&M

Kapanui originally committed to USC, but transferred to West Texas A&M due to academic and playing-time issues. He possesses a wide frame (6'3", 275 pounds) and good lateral quickness in the trenches. Kapanui is a solid route-runner and has the ability to read plays as they develop. His durability and small-school experience remain his biggest concerns.

Kapanui appeared in only six games in 2006 after suffering from a hip injury. Prospective teams also question how effectively he can adjust to the fast-paced NFL game. After struggling through injuries, Kapanui broke out in 2007. He caught 39 passes for 481 yards and seven touchdowns. His combination of athletic ability and size make him an intriguing late-round prospect for the Cardinals.

Offensive Line: Will Arnold, LSU

Arnold (6'3", 320 pounds) is another player who's been plagued by injuries, but shows promise when healthy. He's effective at the point of attack and features good quickness along the offensive line. Arnold demonstrates excellent awareness and plays with a mean streak. He is an extremely disciplined player and committed very few penalties during his college career.

Arnold was hindered with leg injuries in 2006 and 2007, causing him to miss eight games over that span. In addition to injury problems, Arnold lacks ideal mobility. He often loses leverage and struggles against athletic defensive lineman. Entering the 2007 season, Arnold was considered a top prospect at guard. However, his draft stock has continued to fall due to durability issues. If Arnold can stabilize his health, he possesses the versatility to provide instant depth along the Cardinals O-line.


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