Day 3 is over and that concludes the NFL Draft. Day 3 provided many storylines as players that fell far finally landed on their feet in some ideal spots. With that being said, let’s take a look at the surprises and steals of the final day as well as who had the best, and worst, draft this year.
Steelers Ignore Linebacker Spot
The Pittsburgh Steelers are showing a great deal of faith in Vince Williams and must be hopeful Ryan Shazier will return in 2019. Williams is a solid starter, but in 2018 he will need a running mate as the Steelers do run a 3-4 scheme. They took two hard hitting safeties in Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen, so you have to wonder if one of those guys might drop down into the box as they are aggressive at attacking the line of scrimmage.
Chargers “Miss” Kickers
To the dismay of many, the Los Angeles Chargers ignored their need to find a consistent kicker. They have Caleb Sturgis but reports still leaked out of their camp hinting at the idea of drafting one. They will likely sign one now that the draft is over, so we will have to see how this plays out.
Kickers and Punters Galore
Speaking of kickers, the guys that specialize at booting the ball in some way had a field day on Saturday as six of them (four punters and two kickers) were drafted. The roll started in the fifth round as the Seattle Seahawks snagged Michael Dickson and of course other teams started to follow suit. It was kind of like fantasy football when the first guy grabs a kicker so everyone else panics and grabs one. The other kicking specialists selected were Johnny Townsend, JK Scott, Daniel Carlson, Logan Cooke, and Jason Sanders.
A Career Reset for Tavon Austin
The Dallas Cowboys, as they continue to move forward without Dez Bryant, sent a sixth rounder to the Los Angeles Rams for Austin. Austin brings a ton of talent that would make offensive coordinators drool, but he was never able to put it all together in LA. It will be interesting to see if Jason Garrett can figure out a way to reinvigorate the former first round sensation.
The Green Bay Packers drafted Equanimeous St. Brown in the sixth round and he is a guy Aaron Rodgers will love as he is 6’5 with speed to burn. He fell really far and it could be due to how raw he is out wide. He will need to develop as a route runner, but he could see the field early. Oddly enough when DeShone Kizer, the backup to Rodgers, was at Notre Dame St. Brown nearly eclipsed 1,000 yards and was a hot commodity heading into his final year. The Cowboys got word on Friday that Jason Witten was retiring and they did a good job getting his replacement in Dalton Schultz. He can block, catch, and go out wide as a receiver. Schultz should have a chance to fill the void Witten left behind.
Reports leaked out of PJ Hall’s camp saying he never thought he could go as high as the second round after the Oakland Raiders drafted him there. Well, that pick should no longer be magnified as adding another defensive tackle in Maurice Hurst Jr. gets them off the hook. The former Wolverine is a bowling ball in the trenches and should provide instant impact as a rotational player.
Braxton Berrios, probably one of the better names in the draft, struggled making an impact his first three years at Miami as he only compiled 45 catches, 496 yards, and three touchdowns as a slot receiver. In his final year as a Hurricane, he caught 55 passes, had 679 yards, and scored nine times. Now, he is the newest slot receiver for the New England Patriots and he could develop into a starter for them. The Rams snagged John Kelly and while most teams like a change of pace back the Rams clearly do not. Kelly is violent, physical, and tormented SEC teams. Does that sound familiar? It should as he now has a chance to spell Todd Gurley every now and again. Finally, Josey Jewell provides the Denver Broncos with a middle linebacker they need alongside Todd Davis. He has good instincts and uses them to anticipate plays despite his lack of speed.
Low Risk High Reward:
Mark Walton, Antonio Callaway, Azeem Victor, and Jack Cichy were once high-profile players that could have been drafted on Day 1 or 2. However, injuries or off-the-field concerns lowered their stock. They are now in a position to make the teams that drafted them look like geniuses or they could just get cut sooner than later.
Walton was one of the premiere backs in the FBS the last two years, but a season-ending injury cost him a chance to improve his stock. As a junior for Miami, Walton had 1,117 rushing yards to go with 14 touchdowns. At 5’9 and 205 pounds, he is similar to former Hurricane Duke Johnson Jr. Now, Walton heads to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Callaway has had issues pertaining to marijuana usage and it is odd that the Cleveland Browns took him considering his track record is similar to Josh Gordon. Nonetheless, the former Gator has the speed to make defensive backs tremble, 4.41. His big play ability makes him a threat from anywhere on the field and he can return kicks as at Florida, as a freshman, he returned two kicks for touchdowns.
Victor and Cichy are both 6’2 and above 230 pounds at linebacker. They also suffered gruesome leg injuries during their time in college. Victor had the look of a potential first rounder in 2015 as he had 95 tackles, nine tackles for losses, 1.5 sacks, and one interception for the Washington Huskies. He ran into some trouble outside the gridiron which derailed him as well. The Raiders drafted him and it could pay off as they need help at linebacker. Cichy goes to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and could help them on special teams.
Best/Worst Draft Classes:
In Ozzie Newsome’s last draft, the Ravens made impact pick after impact pick. They got Joe Flacco a pacifier in Hayden Hurst. Hurst is explosive after the catch and can step out wide from his natural tight end spot. They got Flacco’s potential replacement in Lamar Jackson as they stole him with the 32nd pick. Orlando Brown is well worth developing as he can come in and develop into a starter at either tackle spot. Also, he could be the extra blocker they send in on obvious running plays as he is a mauler. Mark Andrews gives Flacco another versatile tight end to work with.
Defensively, Anthony Averett has the speed, fluidity, and technique to overcome an aging Brandon Carr. Drafting DeShon Elliott in the sixth round gives them another option they could use in dime packages. Meanwhile, on offense, Jordan Lasley could develop into starter as Josh Rosen always found him open as he has a nose for the ball.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers quietly built one of the more physical defenses with speed over the span of three days. They got a top 10 talent in Derwin James and snagged Uchenna Nwosu in the second round. Nwosu had 11.5 TFLs, 9.5 sacks, and 13 pass deflections in his final year at USC. Those two remind you of Kam Chancellor and Bruce Irvin who Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley coached in Seattle. Justin Jones gives them some much needed help at defensive tackle. Kyzir White is built and plays a lot like James, but he will more than likely become a hybrid between linebacker and safety. These are all players who could help the Chargers stop the run as they finished 31st a year ago.
Offensively, Scott Quessenberry gets to transition into a new form of blue and yellow as he started at center for UCLA. He has good power and long arms to help him as an interior offensive lineman. Dylan Cantrell is 6’3 at receiver but could help in the slot as he is extremely agile. Justin Jackson was their final pick and he could have a chance to compete with Austin Ekeler as the backup to Melvin Gordon. Jackson finished top 10 in rushing in NCAA history as he accumulated over 1,000 yards all four years at Northwestern.
The Cowboys did not have the best draft, but they had one worth noting considering their circumstances. They chose to cut Bryant late in the draft process and many had them taking a receiver in the first round. Instead, they filled a huge void with Leighton Vander Esch. They got help up front with Connor Williams who pummels opponents when blocking. His versatility is a bonus too as he can play guard or tackle. They got Dak Prescott some help out wide by acquiring the aforementioned Austin and drafting Michael Gallup as well as Cedrick Wilson. Also, they got Schultz out of Stanford.
They got more depth in the trenches as they got Jihad Ward from the Raiders for Ryan Switzer. Dorance Armstrong Jr. gives them a pass rusher with high sack potential too. It is a copycat league and seeing the Philadelphia Eagles win it all with a limitless defensive line rotation clearly got the Cowboys motivated. To top it all off, they drafted Bo Scarborough as he could compete with Rod Smith in one of the more heavyweight battles for a chance to spell Ezekiel Elliott.
Buffalo had the worst draft. The Bills traded up in a hurry to snag Josh Allen with Rosen and Jackson still on the board. They could have waited it out at the twelfth spot, but that is easy to say in hindsight. They did come back and select Tremaine Edmunds as they traded up again. He gives them an impact player who could start right away. With the exception of the Edmunds pick, things continued to go south as the Bills drafted Harrison Phillips who is a good player, but he is nothing more than a run stopper. They could have easily gone with Hurst Jr. as he can rush the passer from the defensive tackle spot and stop the run.
Another option with that third-round pick could have been selecting a tight end like Ian Thomas. They could have also used St. Brown as they are thin out wide. The Bills selected good players they just failed to find a Matt Milano replacement, get a backup tight end, add a player on the offensive line, and talented player that were free-falling. The inability to build the offense puts Allen in a bad spot as he could get thrown in sooner than later.
The draft came and went and everyone is excited about each and every pick they have made. The next hurdle will be getting some of the top picks to sign as contract situations lingering into training camp can effect the player and the team.