Day 3 of the draft is where General Managers and Scouting Departments alike make their money. Let’s recap Rounds 4 thru 7 of the 2016 NFL Draft.
1. The Cleveland Browns continued to dominate being “On The Clock” with nine Day 3 selections four of which came in the 4th round. At the top of the 4th round Cleveland selected OLB Joe Schobert of Wisconsin an athletic, productive, well-coached football player that consistently finds himself around the football. Wide receivers Ricardo Lewis of Auburn (4th round), Jordan Payton of UCLA (5th round), and Rashard Higgns of Colorado St. (5th round) all led their respective teams in receiving in 2015 and possess different skill sets; but they all could make an impact for the Browns as early as 2016. Lewis offers the most after the catch, meanwhile Payton soaks up targets as the Bruins all-time leader in receptions and “Hollywood” Higgins despite a lack of top end speed makes big plays downfield with remarkable body control. With 1st round pick Corey Coleman in the fold the Browns aren’t expecting anything from Josh Gordon. In the 7th round and with their final selection the Browns nabbed ILB Scooby Wright of Arizona (a CPGM Headley Favorite), a highly productive and injury-prone two down prospect that I can see sliding in as Karlos Dansby’s replacement and becoming a fixture in Cleveland’s starting defensive unit.
2. The Oakland Raiders traded up in the second round with the Cleveland Browns to leap frog the Dallas Cowboys and draft QB Connor Cook of Michigan St.. With nothing much to speak of behind starter Derek Carr using a Day 3 pick to select an experienced signal caller with a winning pedigree projected to go anywhere from the bottom of Round 1 to the end of Day 2 is worth the investment despite his idiosyncrasies. Fifth and seventh round selections RB DeAndre Washington of Texas Tech and OG Vadal Alexander were astute selections. Alexander has a ton of upside and if he takes to coaching could be an absolute steal in the seventh round. He has to learn how to sustain and finish blocks but he has all the tools. Washington was the unsung hero of the Red Raiders offense and should serve as a change of pace, passing down back who makes contributions in the return game at a minimum. Sixth round selection OLB Cory James of Colorado St. is Joey Porter’s protégé’ and despite a lack of size (6’0 229 lbs.) was a consistent 4-year starter that tallied double digit tackles for loss routinely and 26 sacks over his college career.
3. In what I have concluded was a reactionary (look to the future) draft class, I thought the Dallas Cowboys salvaged things somewhat with a decent Day 3 effort (and third round selection Maliek Collins). Defensive end Charles Tapper of Oklahoma is the prize of Day 3 selected in the 4th round. With Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence set to serve 4-game suspensions at the beginning of the season Tapper could very well be a starter in Week 1 of the 2016 season. He offers strong physical traits and an excellent motor but needs work on pad level and hand placement. Jerry Jones missed out on Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook but he did land QB Dak Prescott of Mississippi St. with their second 4th round pick. Prescott was highly productive in college operating from the gun in a spread offense. As a fan, I would have preferred Stanford’s Kevin Hogan or Arkansas’ Brandon Allen considering their pro-style background to serve in an apprenticeship to Romo but Prescott makes Dallas’ backup quarterback situation better than it was last season given his strong arm and athleticism. Dallas’ quartet of 6th round selections: CB Anthony Brown of Purdue, SS Kavon Frazier of C. Michigan, RB Darius Jackson of E. Michigan, and former Baylor power forward Rico Geathers (tight end) all tested through the roof at either the combine, pro day or personal workouts. Good athletes, but are they good football players?
4. San Diego must be convinced that better luck in terms of injuries along the offensive line and the addition of offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will remedy all of their pass and run blocking issues from a season ago because they continued to address perhaps their deepest position group on Day 3 of the draft, linebacker. At any rate there should be plenty of competition at inside linebacker with Denzel Perryman and Manti Te’o atop the depth chart and new comers Joshua Perry of Ohio St. and Jatavis Brown of Akron in the mix. Perry has prototypical size (6’4 254) and a physical style of play that could get him on the field on early downs. Brown has freakish athleticism and would be better suited as a 4-3 WILL linebacker drawing comparisons to Deion Jones for his size (5’11 227) and sideline-to-sideline speed.
5. Day 3 continued to mark the Jaguars reaping the benefits of one faux pas after another committed by Dallas when they landed one of my favorite Day 3 prospects DT Sheldon Day of Notre Dame in the 4th round. I consider him somewhat of a poor man’s Aaron Donald. The Jaguars continued to stack their defense, a consistent trend throughout the 2016 offseason when they proceeded to draft FCS sacks leader (18), DE/OLB Tyrone Holmes of Montana. Jacksonville put the final stake in my Dallas Cowboys heart when they selected QB Brandon Allen of Arkansas. Allen was my fourth ranked QB prospect heading into the draft.
6. For a moment, just a moment on Day 2 I questioned Ravens’ General Manager Ozzie Newsome. I took another look at his selections and realized my error in judgment. As if that weren’t enough The Great OZ demonstrated his mastery of the draft process by actively working the phones, trading picks and ultimately acquiring a plethora of talent at great value. Newsome put on a clinic on Day 3.
- 4th Round – CB Tavon Young – Temple – Skill set and tenacity to land the staring nickel back position come Week 1 of 2016 season.
- 4th Round – WR Chris Moore – Cincinnati – Big play vertical threat suited for Joe Flacco’s strengths.
- 4th Round – DT Willie Henry – Michigan – 1-gap penetrator that will contribute immediately in sub-packages and has starter upside.
- 4th Round – RB Kenneth Dixon – Louisiana Tech – 87 total TDs good for 2nd in FBS History; best hands out of backfield in class.
- 5th Round – DE Matt Judon – Grand Valley St. – Size/power/speed dynamo that dominated Division II; 20 sacks in 2015.
- 6th Round – WR Keenan Reynolds – Navy – 88 total TDs good for 1st in FBS History; will make living in slot and special teams.
If the Ravens get anything out of Breshad Perriman in 2016 Ozzie Newsome deserves a raise.
7. Cornerback Eric Murray of Minnesota headlines the Kansas City Chiefs’ Day 3 selections. Murray is a Day 2 talent knocked for not having prototypical size or length but will contribute on special teams and in sub-packages immediately. Wide receivers Demarcus Robinson of Florida and Tyreke Hill of W. Alabama (formerly of Oklahoma State) add more speed and explosiveness to the roster but they are both raw and have character concerns. Andy Reid likes to collect quarterbacks and he got a good one in the 5th round in Kevin Hogan of Stanford. Hogan will be pigeon-holed by most as a quality backup but he may actually end up being a better Alex Smith. Cornerback D.J. White of Georgia Tech was a steal in Round 6 (Chiefs selected 3 CBs to help replace Sean Smith) and OLB Dadi Nicholas of Virginia Tech offers the type of pass rush upside well worth a 6th round selection.
8. As I stated in a previous post the Buccaneers spent considerable resources to move up to select kicker Roberto Aguayo on Day 2 limiting their ammunition for Day 3. Nontheless, they snagged sleeper CB Ryan Smith of North Carolina Central and OT/OG Caleb Benenoch of UCLA to add depth to a lackluster offensive line. Smith lacks eye-popping size and speed but he has the makeup of a professional cornerback a position the Bucs were severely thin at last season.
9. The New York Giants only had three selections on Day 3 but they made the most of them. They added OLB B.J. Goodson of Clemson, an underrated prospect to a woefully thin linebacker corps. Committed to the running back by committee approach Paul Perkins of UCLA offers great value in the 5th round and may already be the best all-around back on the Giants’ roster. Tight end Jerrell Adams of South Carolina had no business being available in the 6th round. His 6.9 yards (avg.) after the catch suggests playmaker.
10. The L.A. Rams got the draft started with QB Jared Goff and weren’t heard from again until Day 3. It’s no secret the Rams have struggled to find consistent receiving threats let alone a true #1 target in recent years but I thought they did an admirable job of putting weapons around Goff during the draft. In fact, 4 of their 5 Day 3 selections were either a wideout or a tight end. Former receiver, TE Tyler Higbee of Western Kentucky has sticky hands, good athleticism, and should make a living down the seam. Wide receivers Pharoh Cooper of South Carolina and Mike Thomas of Southern Mississippi compete like no other and will make plays in the short to intermediate part of the field, particularly after the catch. Thomas and Cooper combined for 23 touchdowns in 2015 and should provide a jolt to the Rams pedestrian passing game.
11. The Detroit Lions continued to place an emphasis on becoming a more physical team particularly at the point of attack. Safety Miles Killebrew of Southern Utah selected in the 4th round will be a nickel linebacker at minimum. Joe Dahl of Washington State was a great value selection in Round 5. Dahl, was a consistent left tackle in Mike Leach’s pass heavy offensive attack but he will make his living at guard where his toughness (plays through injuries), grit, nastiness and good not great technique should result in him becoming a starter down the line.
12. Frankly, you have to pay as much attention to the New England Patriots’ undrafted free agents as you do their draft selections. The Patriots (4) sixth and seventh round selections are relative unknowns but undoubtedly fit the “Patriots Way.” Fourth round pick, WR Malcolm Mitchell of Georgia was limited by injuries during his college career but could realize his potential if he can stay healthy and earn Tom Brady’s trust.
13. Defense continued to dominate the Chicago Bears offseason narrative well into the draft but 5th and 7th round selections RB Jordan Howard of Indiana and WR Daniel Braverman of W. Michigan have a chance to contribute immediately to the Bears’ offense. Howard’s injury concerns pushed him out of Day 2 consideration but he will form an intriguing 1-2 punch with Jeremy Langford. The Bears lack depth at wideout and Braverman’s production (109 catches in 2015) and ability to get open should result in meaningful snaps early in his career. The Bears of course didn’t neglect their revamped defense and placed an emphasis on the secondary in the latter rounds. Fourth round selections Deon Bush of Miami and CB Deiondre’ Hall of Northern Iowa (I think he plays safety in base sets) made veteran safety Antrel Rolle expendable. I really like 6th round pick FS DeAndre Houston-Carson of William & Mary. He’s a former corner with good size (6’1 201) with the coverage/tackling skills NFL teams covet in today’s safeties. He could end up being quite the steal.
14. The Indianapolis Colts added four offensive linemen in this draft including two on Day 3. However, their two defensive selections in the 4th round really stood out to me. Inside linebacker Antonio Morrison of Florida is among my favorite Day 3 selections. He skews towards 2-down thumper but his instincts, leadership and competitiveness may result in him playing on all three downs. Considering how soft the Colts were defensively a year ago and the lost of free agent ILB Jerrell Freeman I like Morrison’s chances to be a starter by midseason assuming he stays healthy something that proved challenging for him while at the University of Florida. Defensive tackle/end Hassan Ridgeway may have found himself in the first round conversation had he returned to Texas for another year. Some argue he is more talented than the New England Patriots’ 2015 first round selection Malcolm Brown but health and a dedication to his craft (conditioning) are concerns.
15. With CB Antonio Cromartie and LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson on the outs CB Justin Burris of N.C. State and OT Brandon Shell of South Carolina offer depth at key positions and could develop into quality starters. Wide receiver Charone Peake of Clemson is a special athlete (6’2 209; 35.5 inch vert; 4.37 40-yard-dash) but playing in the shadows of DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant as well as suffering from inconsistent hands torpedoed his (career) production . However, he is well worth the 7th round flier the Jets took on him.
16. The Houston Texans weren’t on the clock often with a total of six picks in the 2016 draft (three in Day 3) but their Day 3 picks were solid football players. San Jose St. scatback Tyler Ervin was selected in the fourth round, much earlier than a substantial number of tailbacks I had higher on my board. That being said Ervin is only a “scatback” in terms of his size. He’s a willing between the tackles ball-carrier and considering where he was selected I imagine he will be given the opportunity to carve out a passing down role. Fifth round selection K.J. Dillon of West Virginia is no Karl Joseph but should be a core special teamer at least. With their 2nd of two fifth round selections the Texans grabbed 1-technique D.J. Reader of Clemson. Reader got lost in the shuffle considering all the talent that flanked him in Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd but you need “grease” at the nose in your 3-4 and I wouldn’t count him out as Vince Wilfork’s eventual replacement.
17. While WR Moritz Boehringer of Germany dominated headlines during Day 3 I thought the Minnesota Vikings made a number of Day 3 selections of note. Offensive tackle Willie Beavers of W. Michigan picked in the 4th round has starter potential and probably should have come off the board on Day 2 considering his experience and versatility. Kentrell Brothers of Missouri is a highly productive, blue-collar, lunch pale-type linebacker that will find it difficult to break into the Vikings talented starting lineup; but he will provide depth and lead all coverage units. I believe the end is near for TE Kyle Rudolph in Minnesota considering last year’s 5th round selection MyCole Pruitt is in line for an expanded role and this year’s 6th round selection David Morgan of Texas-San Antonio offers excellent upside as an inline tight end. Morgan was named as a 2nd team All-American in 2015. The Vikings’ brass continued to stack their roster and add quality depth in the 7th round by selecting OLB/DE Stephen Weatherly of Vanderbilt and S Jayron Kearse of Clemson. Both players will have to make their living on special teams initially although Weatherly could fulfill a Danielle Hunter time role as a situational pass rusher with Hunter likely to take play more snaps in 2016.
18. The Cincinnati Bengals did well for themselves on Day 3 by stealing NT Andrew Billings of Baylor and OG Christian Westerman of Arizona State. If Billings offered 3-down ability he would have been in the first round. However, his 2-down prowess was good enough to garner a Day 2 selection in my estimation. Fortunately for the Bengals he was available on Day 3 in the fourth round. Geno Atkins and Andrew Billings together means tough sledding for the opposition up the middle. I’m still trying to figure out why Westerman lasted until Round 5. He isn’t a mauler but he’s incredibly sound technically and can play the pivot and both guard spots. Wide receiver Cody Core of Ole Miss was selected in the 6th round but his athletic gifts and a lack of receiving depth in Cincy could lead to a decent role in obvious passing situations during his rookie season.
19. What started as a PAC 12 focused draft class turned out to be a pretty well-rounded haul for the San Francisco 49ers. Fourth round selection CB Rashard Robinson formerly of LSU is a little light but has the length and speed to be a very effective man-to-man corner at the pro level. Fifth round selection DE Ronald Blair is a prototypical 5-technique and I believe he’s going to push last year’s 1st round pick Arik Armstead for snaps. The 4-year starter from Appalachian St. was highly productive with 20.0 sacks in an odd-man front over the last two seasons as he consistently made plays behind the line of scrimmage. In the 6th round the 49ers snagged WR Aaron Burbridge of Michigan State. He won’t wow you with his athleticism but will likely carve out a lengthy career due to his consistency and competitiveness.
20. The Denver Broncos landing RB Devontae Booker of Utah in the 4th round is ridiculous. Mike Mayock reported that teams cooled on Booker due to questions about his capacity to learn an offense. They said the same things about Frank Gore. Booker is a carbon copy of Arian Foster and he gets to play in Gary Kubiak’s zone scheme. Dark horse for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
21. After Rex Ryan went on his defense focused draft binge on days 1 and 2, three of the Bills four Day 3 picks were on the offensive side of the ball; two of which caught my eye. I wasn’t a fan of the Cardale Jones pick in the fourth round but the Ohio St. “pinch” QB was clearly high on the Bills’ board. Fifth round selection RB Jonathan Williams of Arkansas doesn’t have a clear path to playing time but LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams aren’t exactly poster boys for durability so I like the value Johnathan Williams brings at this point in the draft.