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Who is the best sleeper pick in the first round of the NFL draft?

April 24, 2013
  • Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert is considered by many to be the top tight end in the NFL draft.
Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert is considered by many to be the top tight… (Dave Martin / Associated…)

Writers from around the Tribune Co. offer their sleeper picks for Thursday's first round of the NFL draft. Let us know yours in the comment section.

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

If Utah defensive tackle Star Lotuleilei were to slip into the teens, he’d be a steal. He’s worthy of being the No. 1 overall pick if his heart checks out, and his agent says doctors have fully cleared him after a heart scare at the scouting combine in February.

He’s a Haloti Ngata-type disruptive force in the middle, the kind of guy who can blow up a play on his own. There are enough quality offensive tackles in this draft for the Chiefs to get one in the second round. Players of Lotuleilei’s caliber are more rare.

Matt Vensel, Baltimore Sun

Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert is considered by many to be the top tight end in this draft, but he has kept a low profile during the pre-draft process. There is no buzz about him visiting with teams. Draft analysts can’t seem to find an obvious place to slot him when compiling their mock drafts.

Yet, there is a chance he could be the first offensive skill player selected, going somewhere in the first 10 or 15 picks. Then again, he could also slip into the second round.

Wherever he winds up, Eifert should have an impact. He had a very productive college career (140 catches for 1,840 yards), he’s a natural receiver with size (6-foot-6, 250 pounds) and soft hands. And while he needs to improve his blocking, his playmaking ability as an in-line tight end who can be flexed out into the slot should make up for it. He’s an intriguing prospect.

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