11 May 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Best picks of Day 3

(USA Today)
Today was the final day of the 2014 NFL Draft and while rounds four through seven do not carry cache the first three, these rounds are vital for building a good football team as any scout or personnel executive will tell you. Without further ado, here are the best picks of Day 3.
1st Round Grades
Best Picks: Day 2

4th Round
101. Philadelphia Eagles - Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida
It has been noted before that the Eagles' secondary was a mess last year but even after signing a number of defensive backs in free agency, drafting some more help was not a bad idea by any stretch. Watkins may not have been the best corner for the Gators, but he can play both corner and safety and is both speedy and athletic. He also fits what the Eagles are looking from their secondary players.

102. Washington - Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson
Breeland is a guy that probably should have gone off the board by now but some character concerns likely sunk his prospects a little. Regardless, Washington is getting a good value and a good player at a position that was a mess for them a year ago. He has excellent ball skills and is a long corner that can disrupt wideouts at the line of scrimmage from getting into their routes.

107. Oakland Raiders - Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
This is a pick that could turn into a steal for the Raiders while also bolstering the interior of their defensive line, where they could use some more help next to Pat Sims. Ellis is a massive tackle that is really good at stuffing running lanes. But for a player with such size, he has really nice quickness and is underrated at rushing upfield against the pass.

108. Seattle Seahawks - Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA
The Seahawks made a typical Seahawk selection here with the UCLA pass rusher. March slipped down some boards due to some off the field concerns, but that has never been much of a concern for John Schneider and Pete Carroll. Marsh is a tremendous athlete and has ideal length to fend off blockers off the edge. And Seattle could have used some more depth on the edges with Chris Clemons signing with the Jaguars.

112. Tennessee Titans - DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
With the Titans moving to a 3-4 defense, they were going to acquire more pieces that suit that defense and therefore, Jones makes a lot of sense at this juncture. Jones projects to be a very fine nose tackle thanks to his bulk and his power. He is athletic for a big guy and he the ability to be a better pass rusher than his sack totals would indicate. Not to mention that this is also a fine value for him.

113. New York Giants - Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
If Williams was any good at catching passes out of the backfield, he may have been the first running back off the board. Anyways, he is a fine value here in the middle of the fourth for a team that needs better production from the running back position. Williams is a horse and he is a tough and powerful runner who is hard to bring down on first contact. Tom Coughlin also love high character guys like him and his Boston College guys too.

117. Chicago Bears - Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Chicago did not have a huge need for another running back behind Matt Forte but with Michael Bush being released, a spell back made sense, particularly at the kind of value that they got Carey for here. Jay Cutler will appreciate his hands out of the backfield and he is a balanced rusher that is quick in the hole and has a nice burst through it.

118. Pittsburgh Steelers - Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
The Steelers needed to continue to find more weapons for Ben Roethlisberger in this draft and following up the nice selection of Dri Archer in the third round, they follow that up with the tremendous talented Bryant. If Bryant was more polished and had more experience, he would have gone much earlier. However, he is very raw. But with his physical abilities, there is no reason that with a little coaching he can be a serious steal.

121. Green Bay Packers - Carl Bradford, LB, Arizona State
Green Bay continues to fill needs along their defense and they helped to fill a need of some inside linebackers with this shrewd selection of this ASU prospect. Bradford is a versatile player that can play inside or outside and his nice instincts and fundamentals should allow him to be a contributor right away. He plays the run very well and has nice athleticism.

135. Houston Texans - Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
I did not love Savage as much as other quarterbacks in the draft but even then, this is a very good value for the Texans to get a potential starting quarterback considering he was rumored to go as high as the second round. Savage bounced around a number of schools during his collegiate career but he has a great arm and puts nice touch on all of his throws. With time, he can be a nice starting quarterback in the league.

139. Atlanta Falcons - Prince Shembo, DE/OLB, Notre Dame
The Falcons had an important need for some pass rushers coming into the draft and while they waited a little longer than some expected, they have added a very solid player to their 3-4 mix. Shembo is not a great athlete but he is a hard work, is very disciplined, and has an excellent motor off the edge. He also looks like a fine run stuffer as well.

140. New England Patriots - Cam Fleming, T, Stanford
I was a little surprised to see Fleming fall all the way to the bottom of the fourth round because he could have easily gone on Friday night. This is a really nice value for the Patriots as they will add more depth to their offensive line with this versatile Stanford product. He is a tough run blocker and has ideal size for a tackle but he could also slide inside as well.

5th Round
144. Jacksonville Jaguars - Telvin Smith, OLB, Florida State
You think your stock will fall if you test positive at the Combine? Well, Smith probably could have gone as high as the third round before he tested positive, so there's that. Smith is an excellent athlete with great speed, making him a potential defensive weapon that coach Gus Bradley would love to work with. Due to his lack of size, Smith will likely bounce around as a sort of a linebacker/safety hybrid.

145. Minnesota Vikings - David Yankey, G, Stanford
The Vikings could use an upgrade at left guard. Charlie Johnson is more or less a meh player, and they signed the immortal Vlad Ducasse who is more or less a trainwreck of a player. And how they were able to get Yankey in the fifth round is pretty ridiculous, but it is excellent value for them. Yankey is a smart lineman that makes up for his lack of athleticism with fine instincts and good feet.

153. Buffalo Bills - Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
Speaking of guard value picks, Richardson was thought to go earlier but he was a mess at the Senior Bowl. However, there is some talent here and for a team that never adequately replaced Andy Levitre at guard, it is a heck of a pick. Richardson is a powerful blocker that can maul in the running game but he is likely limited to playing guard due to his inconsistency in pass protection.

156. Denver Broncos - Lamin Barrow, MLB, LSU
The Broncos struggled all year to get production out of the middle linebacker position and it was one of their top needs. They did not address it until the fifth round but they found a solid player in Barrow that should be able to contribute right away. Barrow is a little raw but he is a very sound run defender and has a nice ceiling.

158. Detroit Lions - Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
Hey, who doesn't love the Ivy League? Reid should have gone earlier than this and it is a steal for Detroit that they got him at the 158th pick. He has a nice mix of size and athleticism for a tackle and should be a nice player for the Lions to utilize on passing situations inside. His technique is very sound as well but the questions about his level of competition will persist until he steps onto the field.

159. Jacksonville Jaguars - Chris Smith, DE/OLB, Arkansas
A key and unique aspect of Gus Bradley's defense is the LEO position, which is essentially an end/linebacker hybrid whose sole responsibility is to get upfield and pressure the passer. Smith, who could have gone earlier, is an ideal fit for that position. He plays with a high motor and shows a lot of toughness and instincts on the field.

164. Cincinnati Bengals - A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Will McCarron be a consistent starter in the NFL? I am not certain. The game manager title seems like a pejorative but it accurately fits the kind of player McCarron is. His arm is not great nor is he particularly mobile but he is battle-tested, makes good decisions and is a smart football player. He can push Andy Dalton and could be a starter if surrounded by a very good team. And I think he should have gone earlier than this.

171. Miami Dolphins - Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana
For a team that has some issues at the outside linebacker position, the Dolphins waited a while to take one but they got a good football here in Tripp. Tripp has a nice combination of athleticism, size and length that makes him an intriguing project for defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle to work with.

176. Green Bay Packers - Jared Abbredaris, WR, Wisconsin
Beyond the obvious of the Packers taking a local kid, this is a very nice pick because Abbredaris should have gone off the board earlier. In fact, I thought he could have been a third round pick or maybe even higher. The Packers did not need another receiver after taking Davante Adams in the second but as I said then, Ted Thompson loves to stockpile weapons for Aaron Rodgers. He has great hands and runs excellent routes.

6th Round
178. Tennessee Titans - Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
I know why Mettenberger slipped on draft day: he failed a drug test at the Combine, had some injury concerns with his back and is coming off a torn ACL. But I think it is ridiculous that he fell to the sixth damn round, considering I had him ranked higher than a quarterback that went late in the second. Mettenberger can start in the NFL and be a good one, so Jake Locker better prove himself to Ken Whisenhunt. He's got a strong arm, ideal size and is accurate. However, he is more or less a statue in the pocket.

185. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
To complement the massive receiving pairing of Vincent Jackson and first round pick Mike Evans, Tampa Bay adds the speedy Herron. He is not a big receiver by any stretch but he can be explosive with the football in his hands.

186. Washington - Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
I was not a huge Seastrunk fan but he should have gone earlier than the sixth round. And for Washington, they did not need another running back under Alf Morris but Seastrunk is a nice change of pace complement for him. He is not particularly big and there are some concerns about his durability but he is an elusive back that can make defenders miss in space. He also showed off nice hands at the Combine.

188. St. Louis Rams - E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
You win with defense in the NFC West and while St. Louis already took a corner in this draft, double dipping makes a lot of sense considering the need. And hey, you get a local kid at it so everybody wins. Gaines is not a big corner but he plays bigger than his size. He plays hard and smart at the same time.

200. Kansas City Chiefs - Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, G/T, McGill
Anytime a Canadian gets selected in the NFL Draft, the people win. And this Canuck can play and he gives the Chiefs some flexibility as he could end up at guard or at right tackle down the road. He is raw and will be making a sizable adjustment to the NFL but he has the skills to be a good lineman thanks to his length and his impressive work he does with his hands.

213. New York Jets - Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
It seems like of late, Boyd was forgotten as a quarterback prospect a little bit. But even then, he should have gone earlier than the sixth round. Yes, Boyd is not particularly big and he struggles with his accuracy but he still has a very live arm and some nice athleticism to boot. He has the game to develop into a solid quarterback down the road.

215. Pittsburgh Steelers - Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
I had been mocking the Steelers Louis Nix in the first round for a little bit as for their 3-4 defense to excel, they need to get better production from their nose tackles as Steve McLendon may be a better fit to play end. This is good value for a massive McCullers who has a high ceiling once he realizes the physical goods he has. He is raw but with good coaching can turn into a real force.

7th Round
222. Jacksonville Jaguars - Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
They already drafted Blake Bortles so why not bring in his backfield partner from the Knights? The Jaguars threw too much coin at Toby Gerhart to be their starting running back but I would not put it past reality that Johnson become the top back by the end of the year. He does fumble a lot but he is a powerful runner that is a nice receiver out of the backfield.

233. New York Jets - Trevor Reilly, DE/OLB, Utah
Did Reilly fall into the final round because he's 26? Other than that, I cannot see why he fell this far but I am sure the Jets are happy to get this talented edge rusher to help fill a big need. He has battled injuries but he has the skills and the game to play right away in the Meadowlands. In fact you could see him starting at some point.

237. Buffalo Bills - Seantrel Henderson, T, Miami 
Henderson was a big disappointment in Coral Gables after being a huge recruit. There is no question that he has the talent to be a very good player but the big question is how much he wants it. Therefore, this is an excellent pick with low risk and high reward for the Bills if they can coach him up and turn him into a player.

240. San Diego Chargers - Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor
Reese is pretty small so he is more or less limited to the slot but even then, he is a nice weapon for a team to have thanks to his speed and his nice hands. He should complement Keenan Allen very well and Philip Rivers will like throwing to this kid.

245. San Francisco 49ers - Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma
We love the fullback position. It is a dying breed so you love when you have a team like the Niners that still play smash mouth football and utilize a fullback. Millard will essentially be redshirted as he recovers from a torn ACL but he is an intriguing player due to his ability to block, run and catch out of the backfield.

248. Dallas Cowboys - Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
I think Dixon should have gone earlier in this draft and I think it is somewhat puzzling that he fell into the seventh round. Then again, I am only a guy with a computer and mediocre facial hair. Dallas needs all the help they could defensively and Dixon should be able to contribute right away defensively. He is a big hitter and is a nice athlete.

249. St. Louis Rams - Michael Sam, DE, Missouri
Sam does not have a position and is that classic tweener, he also is not particularly athletic either. However, he should have gone higher than this. He is a very good pass rusher, something every team could use. Sam has a really good first step off the line of scrimmage and has a great work ethic. He should help make a deep defensive line even more dangerous.

254. Dallas Cowboys - Terrence Mitchell, CB, Oregon
Dallas did some work with their seventh round picks as they made four very solid picks to help their defense. Mitchell could have cracked the fourth round according to some folks so it is weird to see him fall all the way to the third to last selection. Mitchell is a hard worker with solid size for a corner and he utilizes good anticipation and good instincts to his advantage.

256. Houston Texans - Lonnie Ballentine, S, Memphis
Would you want to be Mr. Irrelevant? It's not the best title in the world but you get a trophy (of a guy fumbling a football) and get to spend a week in Newport Beach, so there's that. Ballentine is a solid player and a good pick for Houston to add some more depth to their safety corps. He is a bit of a project but he has nice physical tools with good size and nice speed. Should be tremendous right away on special teams.

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