Predicting NFL draft sleepers for Browns, Chargers, Jaguars

Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) runs with a 66-yard touchdown reception against Georgia at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)
Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) runs with a 66-yard touchdown reception against Georgia at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Credit: Stephen M. Dowell

Credit: Stephen M. Dowell

Every NFL draft produces "sleeper" selections. Here are three by AFC teams in the recent draft.

Browns WR/returner Antonio Callaway

Due to bad behavior, Callaway didn't play last year with the Florida Gators.

The man who drafted him has had very good results with players whose off-field decisions scared off other NFL talent men.

With the Chiefs, John Dorsey drafted three players who raised significant questions about off-field character. Tyreek Hill and Marcus Peters, notably, had fallen off some NFL draft boards due to their transgressions.

Hill and Peters along with Travis Kelce became All-Pro performers after Dorsey brought them to Kansas City.

Florida suspended Callaway for the 2017 season after charges of credit-card fraud and marijuana use.

Dorsey, running his first Browns draft, got Callaway with a fourth-round pick, same as the price he paid in 2016 for Demarcus Robinson, a Gators receiver who'd failed drug tests.

Robinson is entering his third season with the Chiefs, after catching 21 passes last year.

Callaway is both very quick (10-yards split of 1.52 seconds) and fast (4.41) as a 200-pounder who stands 5-foot-10 {.

He became the first player in school history to account for touchdowns in five ways: rushing, receiving, returning a punt, returning an onside kick, and passing.

Peters was Dorsey's first pick in 2015.

A cornerback with rare anticipation and ball skills, he was kicked out of school after repeated clashes with Washington Huskies coaches.

The San Diego Chargers were among several NFL teams that had concerns about Peters' volatile personality.

Dorsey took Peters 18th and turned him over to veteran coach Andy Reid and secondary coach Emmitt Thomas, a Hall of Fame cornerback.

The early on-field returns were excellent. Peters led the NFL with eight interceptions as a rookie and followed with an All-Pro season in 2016.

However, his antics took a toll last year. Reid held him out of one game after Peters launched a penalty flag into the stands. His refusal to attempt tackles, which he described as a business decision, didn't endear himself to teammates or coaches. Fed up with Peters, the Chiefs traded him to the Rams with one year and a club option left on his contract.

Though Kelce didn't generate comparable character concerns, he was suspended for an entire college season at Cincinnati. He played tight end but was also athletic enough to play wildcat "quarterback" for the Bearcats.

Minutes after Dorsey took him in the third round five years ago of his first Chiefs draft, Reid got on the phone and gave Kelce a tough-love chat.

Kelce, a highly athletic tight end, became a dominant pass-catcher in his second NFL season and got a five-year contract with $20 million guaranteed after his third season. Though he has exasperated Reid with personal fouls, Kelce is a top-5 tight end who is central to Reid's program.

The biggest of Dorsey's gambles was the fifth-round selection of Hill, who'd been banned from the NFL scouting combine due to his suspension by Oklahoma State after he choked and punched his pregnant girlfriend.

The Chargers were among the teams that worked out Hill, a receiver and returner who'd landed at West Alabama.

To many teams, he was radioactive.

Hill no doubt has provided the Chiefs extreme football value above salary-and-bonus cost. His stunning impact on NFL games is best appreciated in person. Simply, he is too quick and fast for most opponents. Also, he's tough, sure-handed, agile, alert and durable.

The 24-year-old has two years left on a four-year contract that averages less than $700,000 per season.

In addition to Reid, a stable core of Chiefs veteran players headed by San Diegan Alex Smith, Tambi Hali and Justin Houston no doubt factored into Dorsey's decisions to invest in potentially volatile prospects.

Callaway joins a Browns receivers corps that includes a No. 1 split end, Josh Gordon, who has had numerous setbacks due to substance issues. However, Dorsey's offseason additions included two durable, consistent veterans in quarterback Tyrod Taylor and receiver Jarvis Landry.

Browns head coach Hue Jackson is far less accomplished than Reid as a head coach and handler of personalities.


Chargers RB Justin Jackson

Jackson knows how to play and has several good physical and competitive traits.

Will they translate into the NFL?

The 20th and final running back drafted this year, the seventh-round selection is among several backs attempting to win a spot behind starter Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.

Ekeler went undrafted last year but earned the No. 2 role after demonstrating very good play strength and good quickness.

Jackson became Northwestern's starter as a 185-pound true freshman and rushed for 1,187 yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 games that season.

A four-year starter who averaged 4.8 yards per carry in his career, he joined former Wisconsin back Ron Dayne as the only Big Ten players to rush for at least 1,000 yards in four seasons. In addition, he caught 122 passes, including 44 as a senior.

Jackson, who is 5-foot-11 | and 199 pounds, has good NFL quickness and ability to change direction.

In Big Ten games and the Pinstripe Bowl against Pittsburgh, he also showed good play strength, a rare knack for avoiding hard hits, and good balance. He often got the better of collisions, due to body control.

He has an excellent jab with his left arm that he applied several times per game, and at 4.5 seconds his sprint speed is pretty good.

Jackson figures to master the playbook. He majored in economics and was a second-team Academic All-America.


Jaguars WR/returner D.J. Chark

LSU insiders rave about Chark's vertical play speed, energy and winning intangibles.

As a late second round-pick, he's not a true sleeper. But he caught only 66 passes in his career, a factor in seven receivers going before him in the draft.

LSU lacked accuracy and polish in the passing game, reducing the chances of downfield connections with Chark.

Six-foot-3 and 198 pounds, Chark averaged 20.5 yards per reception.

In the Senior Bowl, where he was paired with passers more capable than his LSU teammates, he fared well.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, he ran an excellent 4.41 in the 40-yard dash.

Chark, as a rookie, will get opportunities to punish safeties for crowding the box to stop Jags running back Leonard Fournette.

Not an advance route runner, he may not be ready to run NFL option routes, but as a rookie may be able to make big plays on play-action throws and other shot plays.

Chark averaged 10.6 yards rushing on 25 carries within an LSU offense that featured jet sweeps and receivers motioning across the formation.

He began returning punts last season, and took two of 18 for touchdowns. He needs work in this area but will give the Jags another option.