2014 Sleeper WR: Jeff Janis
In an exceptionally strong draft class of wide receivers, it isn't difficult finding sleepers. They're scattered all over the place. With so many NFL-ready receivers available in the draft, the prospects who would usually be getting more exposure are now slipping through the cracks. There are around a dozen who could be selected in the first two rounds, and those 12 prospects are all expected to be able to start Day 1 in the NFL. Of the sleepers who will go in the later rounds, one receiver not getting enough hype is Jeff Janis of Saginaw Valley State. The senior wideout was named to the 2013 AP Little All-American First Team as well as the 2013 AFCA Division II Coaches' All-America Team.
Janis has prototypical big wide receiver size at 6-foot-3, 219 pounds. That's perfect receiver size, and he's extremely durable. At the Combine, Janis ran an official 40 time of 4.42, which turned some heads. He runs precise short and intermediate routes. but his greatest strength is his ability to separate and accelerate. Janis has the quickness to break out of a route and separate from a defender consistently.
This past season, Janis caught 83 balls for 1,572 yards and 14 TDs. He also ran for two TDs. In 2012, he led Division II with 1,635 receiving yards; in 2011, he had 968 receiving yards. That's more than 4,100 receiving yards in the last three seasons.
On paper, Janis is the perfect wide receiver. He puts up crazy numbers and scores touchdowns. But there's one thing we need to take into account -- Division II competition. Janis has played exclusively against Division II opponents and has never had the chance of playing a big school from Division I. This will be held against him, along with his habit of catching with his body rather than his hands. Janis' hands are slightly undersized, and he may be prone to drops. If a quarterback doesn't hit him right in the chest, it's questionable as to how many passes he can pluck out of the air.
With the exception of his hands, he has incredible measurables. He has the opporunity to succeed in the NFL and from what I understand, he is extremely passionate about the game of football. He's a dedicated worker and will put in the time to become a better player.
Before this season, not many people knew about Jeff Janis. But after this season and after the Combine, he's finally getting eyes on him. I believe Janis will be drafted in the 6th or 7th round, especially since teams will run out of the need to draft receivers with so many going early. Janis is a great route runner and has great separation and I think he can be productive in any system he ends up in.