My take on several draft selections that were particularly astute as well as those that were head scratchers.
A.J. Cann South Carolina – OL – Selected 67th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cann, not unlike 1st round pick Laken Tomlinson of Duke is a plug and play guard. I don’t understand why interior linemen Mitch Morse, Ali Marpet and Jeremiah Poutasi were selected before Cann. I was shocked he wasn’t selected in Round 2 and to get him in the third round is a steal. I imagine Marpet’s positional versatility gave him the nod over A.J. but Cann has fewer question marks considering Marpet played at Hobart, Division III. The Jaguars have done a phenomenal job of putting together a young, talented offensive line and recent free agent signing Stefen Wisnewski and A.J. Cann may be the final pieces to the puzzle.
Jaelen Strong Arizona State – WR – Selected 70th overall by the Houston Texans, Strong is a better prospect than 1st round pick Breshad Perriman and the wide receiver needy Texans land him in the third round. YES! Perriman may have a slightly higher ceiling but Strong’s floor is substantially higher than the UCF product’s respective floor. With DeAndre Hopkins establishing himself as a #1 Strong can refine his route running and focus on moving the chains as the 2nd option in the Texans’ passing game. The Andre Johnson era is over in Houston but by pairing strong with Hopkins the Texans now have two young, big bodied receivers, with sure hands, the ability to go vertical and high point the football.
Tevin Coleman Indiana – RB – Selected 73rd overall by the Atlanta Falcons Coleman was my third rated running back in a deep and talented 2015 running back draft class. Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah grabbed the majority of the running back headlines in the Big Ten this past season but Coleman’s 2,000+ rushing yards were incredibly impressive and he didn’t feast solely on lesser competition as evidenced by his 27 carries 228 yards and 3 touchdowns against the eventual National Champions, the Ohio St. Buckeyes. Coleman is already an accomplished pass blocker, has solid hands and his one cut style is a perfect fit with the Atlanta Falcons moving to a zone-blocking scheme. Had Coleman been healthy enough to participate at the NFL Combine he wouldn’t have made it out of the 2nd round but as a result of his absence in Indianapolis the Falcons acquire a home run hitter with every-down ability at a discount.
Eli Harold Virginia – LB – Selected 79th overall by the San Francisco 49ers I expected Harold to be selected in the 1st round particularly when the anticipated fall of Shane Ray and Randy Gregory began. Sure, not every team runs a 3-4 defense but it’s hard to find players in the collegiate ranks with the ability to rush the passer and play in space and Harold is one of the few. The 49ers are going through a transitional period but landing Harold in the Round 3 no less, will certainly help the 49ers re-tool defensively. Harold can bend and set the edge. A phenomenal “get” by the 49ers’ organization.
Duke Johnson Miami (FL) – RB – Selected 77th overall by the Cleveland Browns. This is not an indictment of Duke Johnson or the round he was selected in, I would not have been surprised to see Johnson selected in Round 2. Instead I dislike this pick because the Browns have a severe need at wide receiver and with a plethora of picks they could have made a play for Jaelen Strong. I imagine the Browns will use Johnson predominantly on passing downs with Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West in the backfield mix but I think that would be a mistake as well. He has three-down RB chops “Please believe me — Dave Chappelle.” While Johnson will excel in the passing game, the Browns will continue to be pedestrian on the outside.
Sammie Coates Auburn – WR – Selected 87th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers Coates is physically gifted but he isn’t a natural pass catcher and suffers from inconsistency. I don’t like this pick because Coates does not address a need in Pittsburgh nor does he strike me as the “best player” available at this point in the draft. The Steelers’ offense was already stacked with young playmakers at wide out and the defense is in dire need of impact players particularly in the secondary. Additionally, Coates doesn’t bring anything unique to the Steelers’ roster. I don’t expect him to return kicks and he is more of a straight line, deep threat, a skill set the Steelers already have in Martavis Bryant…Sammie Coates…yeah…No….
Chaz Green Florida – OL – Selected 91st overall by the Dallas Cowboys Green is a “swing” tackle with good pass blocking technique. However, with a glaring need at running back and a run on the position in the 3rd round Dallas had an opportunity to select my 5th rated running back Jeremy Langford out of Michigan State. Langford’s smooth and patient running style would have been a terrific fit behind a dominant run-blocking offensive line. While Green provides positional flexibility he isn’t expected to start and isn’t particularly adept at run-blocking. This pick is particularly questionable considering that Dallas didn’t draft a running back at all on the heels of losing Demarco Murray to the Philadelphia Eagles.