Day 3 of the 2017 NFL Draft came and went with a surprising lack of intrigue, but there were still plenty of impactful fantasy additions in the final four rounds as well as some oft-reported moves which did not come to fruition during the three-day event.
With the draft in the rear-view mirror, it is now clear some of the most hotly anticipated trades of the offseason are simply not going to happen. Jimmy Garoppolo will stick with the Patriots for at least another year, A.J. McCarron will remain in Cincinnati, and, despite a ridiculous rumor during the first round, Kirk Cousins will pilot the Redskins this season.
At corner, both Malcolm Butler and Richard Sherman remained with the Patriots and Seahawks respectively at the close of the 2017 draft, and with the lure of a first rounder who could help this year off the table, the safe money is on both staying put this season. For Butler, it likely will be just this season as he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent next spring. Sherman is still under contract for two more seasons, but it would not be surprising if trade rumors pop up again this time next year.
While the quarterbacks and corners were the big stories heading into the draft, there are other players who remain on the block. Chief among them is Sheldon Richardson, who the Jets shopped to both the Cowboys and Redskins during the draft and are reportedly still looking to move. On the offensive side, the 49ers were not coy about their desire to trade Vance McDonald, and the Redskins are clearly interested in moving Matt Jones.
Jeremy Hill is also an interesting name to watch over the next couple months. Coming off back-to-back bad seasons, Hill will face competition from second-rounder Joe Mixon as he heads into his contract year. The Bengals do not have a ton of depth at running back and Gio Bernard is coming back from a knee injury, but it is pretty clear Hill’s future lies elsewhere whether he leaves via trade this year or in free agency next spring.
Most of the quarterback work was done during the first two days, leaving just a few stragglers from the disappointing class on the board Saturday. Most surprising among those was Pitt’s Nathan Peterman, who drew round-two projections before the draft only to fall all the way to the end of the fifth round (171). Peterman did end up in a good spot with the Bills, who were one of the teams linked with him before the draft. Buffalo’s long-term future at quarterback is still unsettled despite Tyrod Taylor’s restructured deal.
Miami’s Brad Kaaya, who has perhaps the most impressive family lineage of any prospect this year, also tumbled further than expected, ending up with the Lions at the end of round six (215). With Matthew Stafford set to sign a massive extension in the very near future, Kaaya has little shot to earn a starting job anytime soon, but his future was always going to be as a backup.
Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs was the first quarterback off the board on Day 3, landing with the Steelers at No. 135 in the fourth round. Dobbs can make some wow throws and is as smart as anyone, but his ball placement and decision making leave a lot to be desired. Luckily, he will get every chance to develop behind Ben Roethlisberger.
Finally, Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly received the “honor” of being this year’s Mr. Irrelevant, ended up with the Broncos as the final pick of the draft. Riddled with on- and off-field concerns, Kelly is a long-term project.
Unlike the quarterbacks, there was plenty of talent and opportunity left on the board at running back on Day 3, with the Packers perhaps the most interesting destination of the group. Green Bay did not waste their opportunity, either, selecting BYU’s Jamaal Williams in the fourth round and UTEP’s Aaron Jones in the fifth. Coach Mike McCarthy made clear Ty Montgomery remains his starter, but there is still room for a 12-15 touch complementary back in this offense, and one of these two picks could take hold of that role. Williams is probably the better “early-down” option, but Jones is more versatile and a better runner.
The Eagles’ selection of San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey in the fourth round is perhaps most interesting for what Pumphrey is not. A slight 178 pounds, Pumphrey is not a workhorse back who can come in and replace Ryan Mathews this season, and the Eagles have now failed to add that player in either free agency or the draft. More interestingly, EVP Howie Roseman mentioned Mathews when he was talking about the running backs after the draft and said the runner has been cleared to resume working out following neck surgery. It is still possible Philly cuts Mathews and brings in someone like Jamaal Charles or LeGarrette Blount to handle the lead work, but Mathews’ future with the Eagles is much brighter than it appeared two months ago.
Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine was the first runner off the board on Day 3, landing with the Redskins with the seventh pick of the fourth round. He is nothing special athletically, but Perine is a solid back who can create with power and is unlikely to make mistakes, which is not something you can say for Matt Jones. Perine should compete for a role right out of the gate while Jones is almost certainly on his way out the door.
Aside from the Packers’ selections, Clemson’s Wayne Gallman and USF’s Marlon Mack might have landed in the best spots of the Day 3 backs, with Gallman going to the Giants and Mack ending up in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, it is possible neither player is very good. Mack is the better of the two and has the physical gifts to be dangerous in open space, but he struggles with patience and vision inside and is way too eager to bounce runs. He will need some polish to become Frank Gore’s successor. As for Gallman, he is an effort back who is going to give his all, but he lacks the athleticism and functional power to be a lead runner. His selection ultimately is good news for Paul Perkins, but the Giants could certainly still look to add someone like Blount.
With the tight end class as strong as it has been in years, it was inevitable a couple would slip further than expected, and that is exactly what happened to Michigan’s Jake Butt and Virginia Tech’s Bucky Hodges.
Butt’s slide ended first when he was taken off the board by the Broncos with the first pick in the fifth round. It is a good landing spot for the Michigan man, who Denver expects to be cleared from his torn ACL in August or early September. Virgil Green has struggled to become anything more than a blocker, 2015 third-rounder Jeff Heuerman struggled to do anything of note in his return from injury last season, and A.J. Derby is still unproven. Butt is highly unlikely to contribute early, but he could establish himself as a starter as the season goes on.
Hodges’ fall was slightly more surprising because he is not dealing with an injury and has an athletic profile teams are usually willing to take a chance on, which the Vikings eventually did with the 201st overall pick in the sixth round. If Hodges can clean up his routes and cut down on his drops, he can be a mismatch in the passing game. This could end up being a value pick for Minnesota.
Round five ended up being the sweet spot for tight ends, with Iowa’s George Kittle going to the 49ers the pick after Butt while Clemson’s Jordan Leggett (Jets, 150), Arkansas’ Jeremy Sprinkle (Redskins, 154), and Drake’s Eric Saubert (Falcons, 174) joined them in the ranks of the drafted later in the round. Saubert is a good athlete and Leggett has good size, but Kittle is the most interesting of the bunch. Already a good blocker and plus athlete, Kittle could develop into a solid all-around tight end if he can improve in the passing game.
Dede Westbrook was the name at receiver heading into Day 3, so it is not surprising the Jaguars took him off the board with the third pick in the fourth round. Westbrook has the speed and ability after the catch to be a weapon for the Jaguars, but off-field concerns are the reason he was still available on the third day, and his ability to deal with those issues will determine the level of success he has in Jacksonville.
Other than Westbrook, there was not a ton to get excited about at receiver. Texas A&M’s Josh Reynolds has an opportunity to work his way into a big early role with the Rams, but the thin-framed receiver could face a difficult transition to the NFL. Mack Hollins (Eagles, 118), Jehu Chesson (Chiefs, 139), and Robert Davis (Redskins, 209) are interesting size-speed prospects, but all three have a lot of work to do. Ryan Switzer (Cowboys, 133) is a good receiver, but his skills might be redundant to Cole Beasley’s in Dallas.
Long story short, the crop of third-day receivers was mostly disappointing this year, and it will be surprising if many breakout in year one.
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