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2017 QB Rankings

Mitch

  1. Mitchell Trubisky North Carolina 6’2 ⅛ 222 Jr. Redshirted one season. Called Mitch throughout his college career, he made the announcement after the season that he will go by Mitchell going forward. He will turn 23 before the start of the season so he’s an older player despite leaving school a year early. He’s a one year starter but made the most of it with a great 2016 (3,748 yds, 68.2%, 30 TD/6 INT, 158 QB Rating). 3rd Team ACC in 2016 due to Lamar Jackson and DeShaun Watson being in his conference (you could argue he was the 3rd best QB in the nation but also the 3rd best in his conference). Despite his age and his lack of experience it takes about 1 minute to see this kid is a 1st rounder. His physical tools are obvious as his 4.67 40 at the Combine translates to the field and he has a solid frame to go with accuracy and arm strength. He’s a good looking kid too and should get a fair amount of attention from the female section of a team’s fanbase. His one flaw is his 9 ½ hand size which is on the small size but at least is ‘9 which tends to be the cutoff for scouts. Their frames are different (he’s thicker and shorter) but Mitch’s game is very similar stylistically and as a prospect to Ryan Tannehill. Both are athletic guys with good arms and good accuracy that you just wish were a little more accurate and had a little more experience (Tannehill was a 2 year starter). Other comps for Trubisky are Carson Wentz and Blake Bortles, all of which emphasize his athleticism and limited starting experience. Trubisky excites me as he has good velocity, is accurate throwing on the run, has elite movement skills for a QB and seems to read the field with ease. He is surprisingly polished with his ball fakes and ball handling on zone reads. He throws a good deep ball. I love his game as he can do the zone read and RPOs (run pass option) which have become so popular in the NFL yet on third and long he can be a quality pocket passer and thread the needle. I also love his completion percentage being 68%. His Florida State game was one I scouted and that defense is full of NFL talent yet he started 19 of 21 in that upset win showing that his high completion percentage isn’t just against poor competition. In 13 games he only had 2 sub 60% completion games, DeShone Kizer had 6 in 12 games to put that in perspective. Mitchell is similar to three QBs I gave 1st round grades to (Tannehill, Wentz, Bortles) yet I like Mitchell the most of the four. I like his athleticism more than Wentz and he doesn’t have the huge jump in competition Wentz had coming from North Dakota State. I like his accuracy more than Tannehill’s and he doesn’t have Ryan’s penchant for choking in the biggest moments. I like his accuracy much more than Bortles and he doesn’t come off like a meathead like Blake did. Mitchell has all the tools you look for in a QB and likely would be a Top 3 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft if he returned to school. Yes, 1 year of experience is worrisome but nonetheless Mitchell seems like a safe pick to me as he has so many plus tools (if we are going to use baseball terms for a minute) that I think he’ll be an average starting QB in the worst case scenario. Top 10 as my #1 QB who has franchise QB level talent 3/20/17.
  2. Patrick Mahomes Texas Tech 6’2 225 Jr. Former elite HS baseball prospect who was expected to be a Top 3 round pick out of HS until he told everyone he was going to college for football. His pitching background shows with his surprising arm strength. He had a 4.80 40 and wowed me with a 4.08 shuttle (1st among 16 QBs and a number that a WR would be fine with) which shows his incredibly quick feet which you see on film. He only has ‘9 ¼ hands which are the smallest in this draft. He reminds me a little of Jimmy Garoppolo but I like Jimmy’s quick release and superior fundamentals more. He only made 2nd Team Big-12 in 2016 despite his amazing numbers (5,052 yds, 65.7%, 41 TD/10 INT). His 2015 season was high volume/low efficiency (4,653 yds, 63.5%, 36 TD/15 INT). He’s a gunslinger and his 29 INTs in 2 ½ seasons is poor for a top QB prospect. He comes from a spread offense that is very gimmicky from how little they run the ball to how wide their OL splits are. Against Oklahoma in 2016 he attempted 88 passes for 734 yards! Again, he comes from a gimmicky offense. He is adept at the short and intermediate passing game with solid timing and accuracy. I love his quick feet as he sets up incredibly quickly after the snap and really uses his feet to get in good positions. That being said he oftentimes is too antsy in the pocket and uses his feet when he should have just stayed motionless. He’s a bit of a scrambler and sometimes reminds me of Jeff Garcia on certain plays. His best attribute is either his quick feet which buy him additional time and let him scramble or his accuracy on the run and his ability to just flick the ball 30-40 yards effortlessly. His arm strength is top notch as he ends warmups by throwing the ball 60-75 yards in the air and can throw the ball +60 yards while he’s on one knee. Mahomes is a gunslinger who has no discipline and could drive a coach crazy with his decision making. That being said he makes some incredible throws and maybe could develop into a gunslinger, franchise QB type. On the negative side, he is barely 6’2, didn’t put up great efficiency numbers (his QB Rating wasn’t in the Top 10 despite his gimmicky offense and insane number of pass attempts) and he’s accurate but not extremely accurate. On the positive is that he probably has the quickest feet of any QB in the draft, has the strongest arm of any QB in this draft and makes throws that I honestly have never seen before. (Side note: I have a feeling that the Arizona Cardinals are drooling over him and will maneuver up from the 2nd or down from the 1st for him). He has some Brett Favre to his game which is incredibly exciting but wow is he raw. I honestly don’t know what to do with him. I like him as a developmental type who has an extremely high ceiling but at what point do you pull the trigger on someone with such a high bust potential and who almost needs to be completely broken down and rebuilt from scratch in terms of technique, footwork and how he plays the position. He’s definitely the wildcard in this QB class. In the end I’d take a chance on him early as his arm talent is elite and some throws of his in the 2016 OU and Baylor games are among the best throws I’ve ever seen a college QB make. Top 20 as my #2 QB who could be a total bust and out of the league in 3 years or on his way to being a Top 5 QB and a perennial Pro Bowler 3/20/17.
  3. DeShaun Watson Clemson 6’2 ½ 221 Jr. He ran a 4.66 40 (3rd best among 16 QBs) and a 6.95 3 cone both of which are very impressive. He was the runner up for the Heisman in 2016 and 3rd in 2015, reminding me of Andrew Luck who was 2nd two straight years. Won the Davey O’Brien Award in 2015. Led his team to the BCS Championship Game vs. Alabama back to back years, barely winning in 2016 and barely losing in 2015 but playing great in both games. His coach compares him to Michael Jordan due to his leadership and his will to win. He’s thickly built and should be able to continue as a dual threat at the next level. He doesn’t have the same speed as Russell Wilson but reminds me of him as a runner stylistically and character wise. Wilson is much shorter, faster and more accurate though so the comparison of the two doesn’t extend to them as passers. His stats are pretty incredible, especially for an underclassmen. He has two +4,000 yard seasons, three seasons of 67% completion and three seasons of +150 QB Rating. He also is a prolific runner and had 9 rushing TDs last year (41 passing). His 5 TDs with 288 yards passing and 85 yards rushing against Virginia Tech is his most underrated game and is even more impressive considering Trubisky had his worst career game by far against that same defense. Watson is a winner and everyone that ever meets the kid raves about his character. His 420 yards passing against Alabama in the come from behind win is a performance for the ages and shows just how clutch he is. Look to his close wins vs. Louisville, NC State and Virginia Tech or his blowout 31-0 win vs. a very good Ohio State team and you can see that Watson is as clutch a prospect as there will ever be. He has a very calm demeanor in games and I think it helps him be clutch as he rarely looks excited or down after plays, he’s very even keeled. That being said there are obvious red flags to his game that weigh him down as a prospect. His 30 INTs the past two years is pretty poor, especially considering how much talent he has around him and the system he is in which gives him a lot of dink and dunk passes. His YPA, TD/INT ratio, QB Rating and QBR all went down from 2015 to 2016 so I didn’t see him progress a lot as a passer like I had hoped. Compare that to Johnny Manziel who had his yards, completion percentage, YPA and QB Rating all go up in his final season and use that as a benchmark of what you are expecting from a dual threat “improving passer.” He isn’t very accurate and throws some ducks at times that make you scratch your head. He is a rhythm passer and sometimes tries to “guide the ball” when he’s out of rhythm which results in some terrible efforts. He’s more athlete than quarterback at this stage of his career so a team that takes him will need to use that athleticism aggressively otherwise he could really struggle at the next level. He was helped tremendously by having Mike Williams’ huge catch radius as there are a lot of balls that he threw low, high or away from him that were completed. He shows touch on jump balls and back shoulder throws. For as good of an athlete as he is, he doesn’t evade rushers that well and struggles within the pocket in terms of escapability. He also isn’t good at reading defenses and often seems to have already decided where to go with the ball before the snap. Some teams evaluate QBs as much on character as they do on tools. Those teams will love Watson as he has a lot of Russell Wilson, Tim Tebow to him in that regard. Others have specific tools they want (arm strength, height, accuracy, etc.). Those teams will pass on Watson as he has some major red flags. I lean more to the latter than the former so it’s not surprising that Watson really concerns me as a prospect. I absolutely love his character, leadership, work ethic and the level of success he had in college but the kid is a VERY raw passer who lacks accuracy, pocket poise and skill at reading a defense. Those are some HUGE red flags in regards to becoming an NFL passer. A team that takes him will need to use zone read and RPOs as I suspect he will never fully develop into a great pocket passer. That being said, the NFL is becoming more open to dual threat QBs all the time and he does pass well enough to fit a Seattle, Carolina, Buffalo type system that doesn’t ask their QBs to pass too often. Late 1st Round as my #3 QB 3/20/17.
  4. Brad Kaaya Miami 6’3 ⅞ 214 Jr. He didn’t workout at the Combine. All-Time passing leader at Miami despite leaving a year early. He’s a three year starter for the Hurricanes who had only slight improvements to his numbers from his freshman to his junior season. That shows consistency (58.5-62.0% all three years, 3,198-3,532 yards, QB Rating 142-150) but also a lack of growth which is a little concerning. The one thing he did improve dramatically on in his last year was his TD/INT ratio as he went from 26/12 as a freshman, 16/5 as a Soph to 27/7 as a Junior basically going from 2 to 1 to 4 to 1. One reason for his lack of growth is likely tied to the fact that he was in three different offensive systems in his three seasons at Miami. Despite being black he’s a pocket passer and had negative rushing yards all three seasons (sacks count against rushing totals in college). He throws a great deep ball and is arguably the reason why Phillip Dorsett became a 1st round pick as he wasn’t considered anything special from 2011-2013 (1,261 yds and 7 TDs COMBINED) and then had a great 2014 season under Kaaya in his freshman year (871 yds, 10 TDs with a 24.2 yards per reception average!). He’s a very tough player that has a lot of film of him standing tall in the pocket and delivering a strike despite a defender in his face. He’s an obvious leader. He has film of threading the needle against good coverage, something few QBs in this class have. He has good velocity on his throws and can really gun it on outside throws. He is skinny and needs to add probably 10 lbs to his frame. He also needs to work on his lower body athleticism as he isn’t fast and isn’t smooth in his rollouts. He goes to his second and third options in the passing game and seems to understand how to read a defense. He is very patient in the pocket and gives his receivers every last second to get open. His accuracy is inconsistent as he sometimes misses easy throws. His throws are not dink and dunkers which also separates him from most of this QB class. Deep ball teams like the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers could fall in love with Kaaya as an heir apparent. He’s a VERY easy kid to like and has an obvious kindness about him that will likely endear him to some coach, GM or owner. I think some team will surprise everyone with how early Brad goes as he’s a perfect grooming candidate: Great character, big arm, good tape, young (21 years old), needs experience. He knocked it out of the park on Gruden’s QB Camp. A bit of a nerd who seems very intent on watching film, another plus for a grooming candidate-his time not playing won’t go to waste. I love Brad and think he’s a legit prospect who could develop into a very good starting QB down the road. I think it would serve him best if he had a redshirt year as a rookie but he seems confident and developed enough that he could play as a rookie if needed. His intangibles are elite, his deep ball is elite and his accuracy and ability to read a defense are solid. I think he’s the steal of this QB class and would target him if I couldn’t get my hands on Trubisky. Early 2nd round as my #4 QB 3/20/17.
  5. Nathan Peterman Pittsburgh 6’2 ½ 226 Sr. Redshirted one season. Five years out of HS so he is an older prospect. He had a 4.82 40 (average), ‘31 vertical (2nd best among 16 QBs) and average agility drills. Signed with Tennessee out of HS as a top recruit. As a freshman he got hurt and then Dobbs the next year replaced him and never gave the job back. After graduating from Tennessee in 3 years he transferred to Pitt where he played his final two seasons. He noticeably improved from 2015 (2,287 yds, 61.5%, 20 TD/8 INT, 138 QB Rating) to 2016 (2,855 yds, 60.5%, 27 TD/7 INT, 163 QB Rating). Last year he was 8th in the nation in QB Rating and puts him in the area where most NFL prospects get to. He had great stats vs. Clemson (308 yds, 5 TD/0 INT in their upset 43-42 win). He looks and has a frame like an NFL QB. He’s smart and agile as a runner so you just wish he was a little faster as it could be a valuable part of his game. I’d get him in a gym with a speed trainer and see if he could become a 4.65 athlete as it’d be a big benefit to his game. He’s tough and fearless in the open field. He had five +20 yard runs in 2016. Nathan is one of those prospects that you just say, “oh so close.” You wish he was just a little taller, a little faster, a little more accurate and a little more experienced. He’s a good prospect the way he is but if he was a little better in any of those areas you’d have a 1st round pick. Instead you have a developmental type that intrigues you but makes you wonder if he is not QUITE there in too many categories. The Clemson game is a good example. He had a nice 9 yard zone read which made him look athletic but he only ran for 18 yards the entire game. He had a few nice thread the needle throws, had a good touch pass to a TE for a TD and an outstanding fade throw against perfect coverage. Yet he missed on a number of deep balls, had a batted ball at the LOS, threw some off target slants and had a lot of misdirection dump offs that gave him easy throws. It was a well called game by the OC and much wasn’t due to the play of Nathan. Interestingly enough he actually reminds me of a poor man’s Mitchell Trubisky. He stays with a play too long and it often costs him with sacks, fumbles and borderline interceptions. He’s very good at improv when the play breaks down. Unfortunately he does it too much and sometimes should just go to his next read and not leave the pocket so much. He ran a simplified system and often only had half the field to read. I like Nathan and could see a team LOVE him. He has a lot of tools to work with and has a chance to develop into a starter. The problem is that he relied a lot on his running in college and I just don’t think he’s athletic enough to continue that in the NFL. He’s fearless in the open field and I worry he’ll have some concussions early in his career until he realizes he can’t play the same way in the pros. As a passer he’s somewhat accurate and has solid velocity but doesn’t seem to have experience reading defenses and isn’t great at any one thing (lacks a cannon of an arm, isn’t amazingly accurate, doesn’t have great touch on the deep ball, etc.). He’s a good developmental prospect as I’d like to see if he can improve on any of his above average tools to become something legit. That being said I worry that he has too many holes in his game and the hope that he can improve dramatically isn’t really valid but is more wishful thinking than reality. Mid 2nd round as my #5 QB 3/20/17.
  6. DeShone Kizer Notre Dame 6’4 ½ 233 Soph Redshirted one season. He ran a 4.83 40 (4th worst among 16 QB), 8’11 vertical (3rd worst), and a 7.40 3 cone (worst) so he didn’t impress athletically. He started each of the past two years and has similar stats with 2,884 yds, 63%, 21/10 and a 150 QB Rating in 2015 followed by 2,925 yds, 58.7%, 26/9 and a 145.6 QB Rating in 2016. The fact that most of his stats regressed a little in year two AND he left school with two years of eligibility remaining is a huge red flag. Does this kid think he’s made it once he’s drafted? It’s even more disconcerting seeing him leave after a 4-8 season. That’s not leadership. He has a great frame and uses it well as a runner, lowering his head for extra yards and showing good strength and toughness. He seems to be faster on film than 4.83 and that number surprises me as he sometimes looks downright fast, especially for his size. Last year he had 6 games of +50 yards rushing and looks like he will be able to continue that at the next level. On a quick glance he looks the part of an NFL QB with his great height and good arm strength. He has a nice, clean delivery. Unfortunately the results aren’t impressive. 6 of his 12 games last year he completed less than 60% of his passes with 2 games being sub 50%. In today’s no defense college football that is atrocious. If you are interested in Kizer it’s for one of two reasons. 1) You are a team that wants a dual threat QB and have a lot of packages that Kizer can implement with RPOs (run pass option) and zone reads being key to your system. 2) You see him as a ball of clay and like his frame, arm and legs. He won’t turn 22 until the NFL playoffs next January so there is a valid argument that he’s far from a finished product. Those are the only two reasons you like Kizer because right now it is obvious that he isn’t accurate, isn’t good at reading defenses, isn’t a dominant QB in college (yet somehow he will be in the NFL?), and he isn’t a leader. I really hate that this kid is leaving 2 years early AFTER a terrible season in which he didn’t perform all that well. I had similar comments about Blaine Gabbert and he was a colossal bust. Stylistically and frame/game wise he’s similar to EJ Manuel, another bust, but at least you can see more talent and youth in Kizer than Manuel. I see the potential with him but don’t like the kid’s film and hate the kid’s decision to leave early and the circumstances around him doing it. Some team will overlook these things and hope he can become a quality starter in a year but I wouldn’t recommend him as he seems like a future bust and, if he does succeed, a team will be stuck with a selfish, me first individual. Early 3rd round as my #6 QB 3/20/17.
  7. Chad Kelly Ole Miss 6’1 ⅝ 224 Sr. He wasn’t invited to the Combine due to his off the field behaviors (arrested for a bar fight in December 2014, kicked out of Clemson for it, and involved in a brawl October 2016 at his brother’s football game). He’s also coming off a torn ACL and lateral meniscus so there is a lot for scouts to sort through. 2nd Team SEC in 2016 despite missing 3 games (2nd Team SEC in 2015 as well). He’s sub 6’2, doesn’t have a strong arm, comes from a gimmicky offense, relies heavily on his dual threat status which is questionable at the next level, and has off the field issues. Initially it seems like Kelly isn’t worth anyone’s time but I see some NFL potential in him despite all of those negatives. He’s just athletic and tough enough to be capable of pulling off a little dual threat in the pros and he’s good at reading defenses and adjusting on the fly. The fact that the best coach in the game (Nick Saban) couldn’t figure him out two straight years (43 pts in loss in 2016 with 421 yds passing 3TD/0 INT, 43 pts in win in 2015 with 341 yds passing 3 TD/0 INT) shows what kind of talent Kelly has. He’s an accurate passer, makes good decisions and has a very quick release. I personally think he could become an NFL caliber passer if a QB coach worked with him on his fundamentals as his footwork is very inconsistent. I think at worst Kelly projects as a good backup who could surprise defenses with his unique style of play. It wouldn’t shock me though if Kelly developed into a low end starter down the road as he has some impressive tools with his accuracy being underrated. 4th round as my #7 QB 3/20/17.
  8. Davis Webb Cal 6’4 ½ 229 Sr. He had a 4.79 40 which was okay but impressed with a ‘33 vertical (2nd among 16 QBs) and 4.21 shuttle (3rd). He only has ‘9 ¼ hands which are the smallest in this draft. He has a weird journey as he unseated Baker Mayfield at Tech but then was beat out by Patrick Mahomme a few years later, eventually transferring to Tech. In both offenses he was a dink and dunker with little tape of threading the needle or throwing the ball downfield. Despite playing in very QB friendly offenses he never had a QB Rating above 139. He’s one of the tallest and strongest armed Tech QBs so he can’t be discounted on that factor as he doesn’t have a noodle arm by any means. He doesn’t have great velocity on his balls, has a lot of touch, but can throw it deep. I agree with those that see some Nick Foles in him as frame, style and velocity/arm strength it is a fair comparison. There is a lot of film out there which I could point to and say that his accuracy is flat out bad. That is worrisome to me as it’s the single most important characteristic I look for in a QB. There also is some film that makes him look like a 1st rounder as he’s big, throws a good deep ball and looks the part of an NFL QB. He’s an underrated athlete. I don’t like him as a developmental project due to his poor accuracy, experience in two gimmicky offenses and lack of velocity on his balls so I am downgrading him on my board. I suspect he will be drafted higher than this but also suspect he will be a failure as a starter and will quickly join the “career backup” club which should keep him employed in the NFL for 8-12 years. Late 4th round as my #8 QB 3/20/17.
  9. Jerod Evans Virginia Tech 6’2 ¾ 232 Jr. He ran a 4.80 40, had a ‘26 ½ vertical and a 4.41 shuttle. He’s a one year starter but made it count with 3,552 yds, 63.5 completion percentage and a 29/8 TD/INT ratio. As a runner he’s a little like Dak Prescott as he’s thick, strong and quick but isn’t that fast. I question how good he’ll be as a runner at the next level. If he is effective though, he has the body type to do it semi-regularly as his thick body can take a hit. As a passer I don’t like his release point but it seems to work decently for him, accuracy wise. He throws a very catchable ball and is adept at fades and throwing jump balls for his teammates to make a play for him. He doesn’t have a lot of zip on his passes and I question how effective he will be at throwing the comebacks, curls and outside timing routes. I really question why he came out a year early. He only has one season under his belt, he is a very rudimentary passer and he only fits schemes that will accentuate his dual threat abilities, which are borderline at best. Style wise he is eerily similar to Dak but Dak was a long time starter in the SEC and still only was taken in the 4th round. Evans will be lucky for that, though Dak’s success and their similar styles might convince a team to take a shot in the dark on him. I didn’t like Dak last year (mistake obviously) so I’m having trouble not disliking Evans. He does some good things as a passer and is quick and sturdy as a runner but to me he looks like a career backup. 5th round as my #9 QB 3/20/17.

2017 TE Rankings

OJ Howard

  1. OJ Howard Alabama 6’5 ¾ 251 Sr. He’s a bit of a late bloomer as he was rarely used his first two seasons (14-17 catches, 260-269 yards, 0-2 TDs each year) and then exploded onto the scene in 2015 (38 602 yds 2 TDs) and 2016 (45 595 yds 3 TDs). Alabama is a run oriented offense that rarely ever uses the tight end on offense. In fact in Nick Saban’s 10 years at Alabama, Howard is the only TE to have a season with 400 or more receiving yards. The fact that he had nearly 1,200 yards his final two seasons combined becomes even more impressive when seen in that context. At the Combine he impressed with a 4.51 40 at +250 lbs. His 22 reps were good too but his best numbers in my eyes were his agility drills as his 4.16 shuttle and 6.85 3 cone were both elite. To put that in perspective that 3 cone time of 6.85 at 251 lbs bested Sammy Watkins at 211 lbs (6.95), Allen Robinson at 220 lbs (7.00), Jordan Matthews at 212 lbs (6.95) and was eerily close to Brandin Cooks time despite weighing only 189 lbs (6.76). OJ is an absolute freak of nature. To have that kind of quick twitch athleticism for such a big man is amazing. He has legit 4.51 speed and it shows on film as seen by his four +40 yard receptions in BCS bowl games. He isn’t a great route runner and is more of a battler for a few extra yards after the catch than a gamebreaker but he’s an elite size/speed guy who has Pro Bowl written all over him. What’s scary in fact is that parts of his game are still so raw AND his team rarely accentuated him on offense yet he still put up great stats and looked like a stud. I never was a huge fan of Tyler Eifert (I was wrong) or Eric Ebron (I was right) and Gronk came out of college coming off a major back injury so Howard goes down as the highest rated TE I can remember. The sky is the limit with him as he has Pro Bowl potential even if he doesn’t improve his fluidity and route running as he’d be a rich man’s Martellus Bennett type in that scenario. If he does learn the finer points of the game though and becomes a well rounded player then we are looking at the next Gronk/Jimmy Graham type as guys with his frame aren’t supposed to be so damn athletic! Top 10 as my #1 TE and the highest rated TE I’ve graded in the past 10 years.
  2. Evan Engram Ole Miss 6’3 ⅜ 234 Sr. He’s really just a bulked up WR as many wideouts nowadays are 6’3 220 which isn’t far off from where he is at. With a 4.42 40 and ‘36 vertical though he’s a size/speed freak. He was the most productive tight end in football last year (65 926 yds 8 TDs) and had two other seasons with 38 receptions, +450 yards receiving and 2 TDs so he’s had a very productive career. His 9 121 yds 1 TD against FSU in the opener and his 9 138 yds 1 TD vs. Alabama were impressive as those are NFL caliber athletes he did it against. He had 6 games of 95 or more yards receiving. He runs like a WR and has good jump ball skills with a number of his TDs being hail mary types. His burst is evident on film so he’s not just a workout warrior. He usually lines up in the slot for Ole Miss ala how the Patriots use their TEs and he works the middle of the field. He’s tough and can break tackles. He has really good hands. He’s one of the hardest prospects to grade as it’s simply how you use him. In the right system he has Pro Bowl potential ala Jordan Reed or Aaron Hernandez, two valid comps. In the wrong system he’s a TE that can’t block or a WR that struggles to get open on the outside. His blocking is inconsistent as he gives effort, usually, but isn’t that strong and takes terrible angles sometimes. I could see this looking really stupid down the road for me but I think he’s a future Pro Bowler and a potential star. Have a team like the Patriots draft him and he could be a household name as I see good hands, surprising strength and toughness and elite speed. He very likely won’t be drafted this high but I love the kid and see him as an elite prospect as the next wave of “tight ends.” Late 1st round as my #2 TE 3/13/17.
  3. David Njoku Miami 6’4 246 Soph Redshirted one season. He has ‘35 ¼ arms which are incredibly long for an OT let alone a TE. He ran a 4.64 40 (7th out of 19 TEs), ‘37 ½ vertical (3rd), 11’1 broad (2nd) and 6.97 3 cone (3rd) so a lot of elite numbers except for his 40. He came into college ready to contribute with 21 362 1 TD in 2015 as a redshirt freshman and 43 698 yds 8 TDs in 2016. His leaping TD over his own blocker and a defender is about as athletic of a play as you will ever see a TE make. He’s got a legit TE frame but still leans more towards a move TE than a traditional one. He is okay at the POA on blocks. He has great after the catch ability, both with his speed and as a tackle breaker. I think Njoku would be the #1 TE in quite a few drafts but isn’t even on a lot of team’s radars in this one. He’s still a baby and really should have stayed in school another year but some team could get a steal with him if they give him time to grow and develop him as a blocker. He looks faster on film than 4.64 and was among the best at the Combine in the TE group in every other drill. He is fluid, fast, has good hands and is very good after the catch. I see him surprising people with how good he is in 4 years. Early 2nd round as my #3 TE 3/15/17.
  4. Jordan Legett Clemson 6’5 ½ 258 Sr. He didn’t run the 40 and was below average in all of the other drills (vertical, broad, 3 cone). He was rarely used his first two seasons (26 total catches) and then exploded onto the scene with 40 525 yds 8 TDs in 2015 and 46 736 yds 7 TDs in 2016. In 2016 he was the second most productive tight end in the nation. He has surprising talent after the catch and can make defenders miss in the open field. He’s a pretty fluid guy for basically 260 lbs. He has good hands and can make the difficult catch. He isn’t much of a blocker, in fact he’s maybe the worst blocker in this draft in terms of size/blocking ability as I expected more from a guy with his weight, and is more of a flex tight end. He played on a team with a lot of talent and often was wide open due to the scheme and DeShaun Watson’s unique skill set. I like Legett and would love him if he ever embraced being a blocker as he has some rare skills for a guy his size. That being said he picked a bad year to come out as this is the second best TE class I’ve ever graded (the 2010 NFL Draft is hard to beat) and Howard, Engram and Njoku all seem clearly superior to me. He falls into that next category with Butt and Hodges with every team having different rankings of those three I suspect. I like Legett a lot and see some Zach Ertz in him with his surprising agility and smoothness for a guy his size so he leads that next group. Mid 2nd round as my #4 TE 3/14/17.
  5. Jake Butt Michigan 6’5 ½ 255 Sr. Tore ACL in Orange Bowl loss putting his availability for his rookie season in doubt. He didn’t work out at the Combine. He had 51 654 yds 3 TDs in 2015, 46 546 yds 4 TDs in 2016 (spot duty in 2013-2014 with combined 41 446 yds 4 TDs). Mackey Award Winner in 2016. He has a good frame, great hands, runs solid routes and has a good burst. Notice I am not raving about him. He reminds me of Maxx Williams coming out of Minnesota a few years ago as you can see the talent but question whether he’ll ever be a Top 10 TE. Butt has Top 32 talent for the position so he’ll clearly be a starter at the next level but I don’t see him ever being a Pro Bowler or being a top target. He will be consistent though and for a team that doesn’t want to accentuate the position but needs a solid starter for it, he’ll be a great value due to his ACL injury and the lack of sizzle to his game making him a prime candidate to slide on draft day. Maxx Williams, Dwayne Allen, Clive Warford, and Dennis Pitta are all solid comps (talent wise) with Pitta being the best case scenario. A very safe, lower ceilinged player who will contribute immediately once he is fully cleared medically. Mid 2nd round as my #5 TE 3/13/17.
  6. Bucky Hodges Virginia Tech 6’6 257 Jr. Redshirted one year. He had a 4.57 40 (4th among 19 TEs), ‘39 vertical (best) and 11’2 broad (best). With a large frame those already great numbers become incredible. He was a precocious youngster with 45 526 yds 7 TDs as a true freshman, among the best numbers of any TE in the country. Since then he’s been consistent but not dramatically better than that with 40 530 yds 6 TDs in 2015 and 48 691 yds 7 TDs in 2016. He’s another flex/move TE that is built more like a wide receiver than a TE. He played in the 240s at school and then bulked up for the Combine but I’m impressed since he kept his speed despite the added weight. He has incredible hands and has plenty of highlight reel catches. He is great at the diving catch and at winning jump balls. He doesn’t have Engram’s pure speed but can threaten the seam. He’s smart, confident and experienced as a playmaker. I don’t see him being a Pro Bowler but I really like him as a #2 TE paired with a more traditional, bigger one. Early 3rd round (almost sneaks into the late 2nd) as my #6 TE 3/14/17.
  7. Gerald Everett South Alabama 6’3 239 Sr. Redshirted one year. Five years out of HS so he is an older prospect. He’s another borderline WR, flex TE. He ran a 4.62 40, ‘37 ½ vertical and 6.99 3 cone all of which are very good. He’s a poor man’s Evan Engram and has a very similar frame. He had 49 717 yds 4 TDs in 2016 and 41 575 yds 8 TDs in 2015. He had big games vs. Miss State and San Diego State, both of which were some of the best teams on his schedule. He won’t be a star like Engram but he has good speed, very good hands and looks to be a quality #2 TE for a team that likes to have an H-back or move tight end. Game theory wise there is a chance he becomes a steal as a lot of teams don’t like these guys at any price and with Engram being superior to him in every way it could result in him sliding on draft day. Late 3rd round as my #7 TE 3/13/17.
  8. George Kittle Iowa 6’3 ¾ 247 Sr. Redshirted one year. Five years out of HS so he is an older prospect. He had a 4.52 40, ‘35 vertical and ‘11 broad all of which were near the top among TEs. He was never extremely productive as he only had 6 receptions his first two seasons and then had 20-22 catches, 290-314 yards and 4-6 TDs each of his final two seasons. Iowa players are always well coached and usually have limited upside, with Kittle fitting both descriptions well. He’s a very good blocker both in effort and technique. He arguably has the best blocking technique of any TE in this draft class. He has a similar frame and game to Dwayne Allen, though he’s a poor man’s version of Allen. Kittle fits well as a #2 TE as he is solid at everything, great at nothing. Some team’s prefer a speedier/smaller guy as the #2 TE but a lot of teams prefer to have two tight ends that can actually block. For those teams, Kittle will be highly regarded in this deep tight end class that has more WR like TEs than any class I can remember. Kittle is old school and could be drafted higher than anticipated since there are fewer guys like him every year. Late 3rd round as my #8 3/14/17.
  9. Jeremy Sprinkle Arkansas 6’4 ⅞ 252 Sr. Redshirted one year. Five years out of HS so he is an older prospect. He had ‘34 ½ arms (3rd best among 19 TEs) and a 4.69 40, ‘29 vertical and 9’8 broad all of which were average to below average. His arm length is that of an OT though and he’s basically 6’5 so he has a nice frame to build upon. He was suspended for shoplifting in a rather bizarre incident at the bowl festivities as every player was given 90 minutes to select $450 of merchandise. He took that and then stuffed his bag with $260 more of merchandise? What a piece of shit. He sprinkles with his hands after every touchdown, not bad of a pun/touchdown routine. He’s long and lean with a bit of a top heavy frame ala Jared Cook. He has an NFL frame and solid speed making him a future quality #2 TE. In 2015 he had 27 catches for 389 yards and 6 TDs as the #2 TE behind Hunter Henry. In 2016, with more chances, he had 33 catches but only 380 yards and 4 TDs. He’s a willing blocker but will need to add weight to be anything more than below average due to his top heavy frame. He’s a solid prospect if teams will overlook his one off the field incident. Late 4th round as my #9 TE 3/13/17.
  10. Adam Shaheen Ashland 6’6 ½ 278 Jr. Redshirted one season. In some ways he’s more built like an OT than a TE and will be used in that capacity at the next level. Don’t be fooled though as he can catch passes, setting a Division II record for most receptions by a TE in a season (70 803 yds 10 TDs in 2015). He followed it up with 57 867 and 16 TDs! Former basketball player and it shows in how he attacks the ball in the air. He ran a 4.79 40 which is very athletic for a guy that is basically 280 lbs. His 7.09 3 cone is even more impressive and shows up on film as he’s very agile for a man his size. Unfortunately he doesn’t have much of a vertical so my thoughts of him being a blocker most of the time and then a killer red zone threat is minimized after seeing his miniscule leaps against defenders. At 6’6 ½ he doesn’t need a huge vertical but it was still pretty poor. That being said there is something to this kid and I’m very intrigued. Just as a blocker he’s intimidating but the way he moves is special. He’s as raw as can be but I’d take a chance on him in the middle rounds as my #3 TE as he has a very high ceiling and could be a good blocker until other parts of his game mature. Late 4th round as my #10 TE 3/15/17.
  11. Jonnu Smith Florida International 6’2 ⅝ 248 Sr. He had a 4.62 40, ‘38 vertical and 22 reps all showing off that he’s short, thick and explosive. He’s been incredibly productive with four seasons of +35 receptions, +350 yards receiving and 2 or more TDs. Interestingly enough, his best season was in 2014 with 61 710 yds 8 TDs. He’s bulked up a lot since the end of his career as he was 6’3 232 going into his senior year. Engram and Everett are smaller than him but he’s clearly the worst blocker in this draft class. Some of his “blocking” is akin to bullfighting, ole! He’s similar to Engram and Everett in style and size but he’s much more WR than TE than those guys as this guy isn’t tough and doesn’t block. He also is very productive though and has a noticeable burst so he’s a later round type for this style and likely won’t be drafted since there are two obviously better version of him in this draft and so few teams even want this type of player. 5th round as my #11 TE 3/13/17.
  12. Eric Saubert Drake 6’4 ¾ 253 Sr. Redshirted one year. Five years out of HS so he is an older prospect. He didn’t run the 40 and was mediocre in his explosion drills, not surprising due to his huge size. His ‘10 ⅜ hands are massive. He has arguably the best hands of any TE in this class with elite body control and the ability to make the one handed catch. His tape is impossible to scout with due to how low his competition level was but he moves around well, has elite hands and showed NFL caliber athleticism, though by no means is he a physical freak. I’d take a flier on him in the later rounds. Late 5th round as my #12 TE 3/15/17.
  13. Ricky Seals-Jones Texas A&M 6’4 ⅝ 243 Jr. Redshirted one season. A physical freak who was an elite prospect out of HS (#1 WR in Texas, Top 50 prospect in the nation) who never fully put it together. He ran a 4.69 40 with a ‘28 vertical and 7.46 3 cone all of which are atrocious for a WR and only average for a TE. To me he proved time and again that he was more hype than substance so I want no part of him as a WR. I think he could be a decent late round flier type as a TE though as he’s already in the 240s and is ripped so he has the strength and bulk to warrant a look there. 6th round as my #13 TE 3/25/17.

Mike Mayock I want your job (2016 NFL Draft Board Comparison)

Mike Mayock

With last year’s comparison going so absurdly well for me (2015 recap) I thought about just calling it a career, also a crying newborn gave me a few sleepless nights worth of reasons too, but I decided to keep the tradition alive as it’s just too much fun. Below are 10 comparisons where my draft board (Top 150 players) differs distinctly from Mayock’s draft board (Top 100 players). These comparisons will be good to keep in mind with training camp starting for many teams tomorrow. Enjoy!

  1. Jared Goff vs. Carson Wentz: This comparison had to be done as these two QBs will be compared to each other their whole career. The Rams and I liked Goff (#3 on my board, #10 on Mayock’s) while the Eagles and Mayock liked Wentz (#9 on my board, #1 on Mayock’s). One reason I like comparing my board to Mayock’s is that he knows what he’s looking for and isn’t afraid to stick a flag in the sand for a guy, no matter the opinion of others. Going into the Senior Bowl, he was really talking up Wentz and argued he was a likely 1st rounder when no one else was. For him to end the draft with Wentz as his #1 Overall Prospect is a little surprising to me but I say bravo as more analysts should stick to their guns and make aggressive rankings instead of “averaging in” prospects after talking to 3-5 scouts. While I am giving Mayock respect, I do disagree with him as Wentz has all the upside in the world but has a lot of bust potential while Goff to me is a surefire Top 20 starter in the league. He has less upside due to his smaller frame and lack of running ability but he can thread the needle and should lead the Rams to the playoffs quite regularly while supported by Todd Gurley and that great Rams D-Line.
  2. Noah Spence vs. Kevin Dodd: This one is arguably my most favorite comparison as I had Spence as one of the most underrated players in this draft (10th on my board, 32nd on Mayock’s, ended up being taken 39th) while Dodd was one of the most overrated players to me (79th on my board, 30th on Mayock’s, ended up being taken 33rd). It’s rare when two players on extreme ends of the spectrum can be compared to each other like this, same position/Mayock disagrees with me/actual NFL draft agrees with Mayock, so I’m a happy camper on this one. I could see Spence being the defensive rookie of the year and Dodd is right up with Eli Apple and Jarran Reed as the highest drafted players I expect to bust. This one looks good long term for me.
  3. Mackensie Alexander vs. Eli Apple: I think Alexander (14th on my board, 48th on Mayock’s) is the real deal, though I worry about his long speed a little and his attitude a lot. Apple on the other hand (71st on my board, 22nd on Mayock’s) was the most overrated player in this draft. Maybe I underestimate size/speed in cornerbacks as his was elite but his film just never impressed me. He had poor instincts, showed no heart, made few plays in 2015, and his tape didn’t match his Combine numbers athletically. Then the Giants surprised everyone by taking Apple #10 Overall, even Mayock would have called that a reach, and now I am VERY interested in seeing how Apple works out. One positive is that with Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins already in tow he could be given the #3 WR most games. That’s one way to make a rookie look better than he is so if he struggles next year it’s a huge red flag as he couldn’t be in a better situation.
  4. Andrew Billings vs. Jarran Reed: I’m a big fan of Andrew Billings (#29 on my board, #44 on Mayock’s) and I think we both were surprised he lasted as long as he did on draft weekend (#122 in the 4th round). To me he is one of the best value picks in the draft and it’s no surprise that the Bengals took him as they have stealthily built one of the best 53 man rosters in the NFL due to their skills in drafting on Day 3. Reed on the other hand was one of the most overrated players in this draft in my opinion (140th on my board, 24th on Mayock’s). He went 49th Overall and was considered by many to also be a steal but obviously I disagree. My issue with Reed is that he has no pass rush skills and is nothing but a two down run stopper. In the NFL, as it is now, you can argue that a run stopping DT isn’t even a two down player but is now a one down player and I don’t consider him great value. Unfortunately the Seahawks might start him as a rookie, as defensive tackle was a need area for them, while Billings is likely the #4 DT on the Bengals in 2015 so this comparison appears a bit unfairly weighted toward Reed for next year. In the end though talent rises to the top so I expect Billings to eventually outproduce Reed.
  5. Connor Cook vs. Paxton Lynch: Cook to me was the #3 QB in this draft (19th on my board, 71st on Mayock’s) while Lynch was a distant #4 in my QB Rankings (38th on my board, 20th on Mayock’s). The NFL sided with Mayock on this one as Lynch went 26th Overall after not one but TWO teams tried to trade up for him, while Cook fell to the 100th Overall Pick. Lynch only has Mark Sanchez to beat out for the starting job while Cook has up and coming star Derek Carr. Nonetheless I have to make this comparison because I feel like Cook is an underrated prospect who has starting caliber talent. Most NFL teams don’t seem to agree with me and the road toward starting will be much tougher for Cook than Lynch but we will see how things shake out. Right now this one doesn’t look too favorable for me.
  6. Jonathan Williams vs. DeVontae Booker: To me this was a two running back draft as after Elliott and Henry there was a steep drop off in talent and everyone had a different opinion on who was the #3 guy. Many chose Booker as that guy so it isn’t surprising to find Mayock with a high ranking of him (#51). I ranked Booker 104th as I didn’t see him as a stud back like many did. My #3 back was Jonathan Williams (#77) as I thought he was unfairly punished for missing all of last season due to an injury. I’m unsure what Mayock thought of him but he didn’t make his Top 100 so he clearly liked him less than I did. This one could take a few years to settle out since both are expected to start the season as the #3 RB for their teams (Bills and Broncos respectively).
  7. Emmanuel Ogbah vs. Shaq Lawson: This one is a little confusing. Ogbah on my board is 15th and Lawson is 16th so to me they are the same value. On Mayock’s board, Ogbah is 29th and Lawson is 13th so he sees a noticeable difference between the two players. NFL teams agreed with Mayock with Lawson being drafted 19th and Ogbah 32nd. It isn’t a huge difference but my point is that Ogbah to me was one of the best players in this draft and somehow was still on the board in the 2nd round. He will be one of the steals of this draft at #32 and Mayock can’t say he agrees considering he ranked him 29th. This one is all about Ogbah becoming an 8-12 sack SDE in a 4-3 ala the kid he reminds me so much of, Ziggy Ansah.
  8. Kendall Fuller vs. Will Redmond: Kendall is a guy I had a 1st round grade on all of the 2014 season so when he got hurt in the 2015 season, and tried to play through an obvious injury which caused him to have some really bad tape, I forgave him as if it never had happened. That is why he was #18 on my board, higher than any analyst I could find. Mayock clearly disagreed with me on that grade as he had him #93 on his board. Redmond on the other hand was nothing special in my eyes (#117) and was ranked about a round lower than Mayock viewed him (#76). Honestly this one comes down more to Fuller than Redmond as Fuller needs to become an impact cornerback for me to not look stupid for giving him a 1st round grade. No one viewed him in that light so if he becomes the ball hawking slot corner I expect him to become, then it will be that much sweeter.
  9. Jack Allen vs. Evan Boehm: Usually I don’t make comparisons of guys this far down both our draft boards, simply because at some point in the draft the odds become good that NEITHER will pan out, but I really liked Allen’s tape the past two years at Michigan State and was shocked he wasn’t drafted. He was the #88 player on my board with a 3rd round grade yet didn’t make Mayock’s Top 100 and, again, wasn’t even drafted in the real thing. Boehm on the other hand was given a free agent grade by me but made Mayock’s Top 100 at #94. Also NFL teams agreed with Mayock as Boehm was drafted #128 in the 4th round and, again, Allen wasn’t drafted. Did I mention that Jack Allen wasn’t drafted? Keep in mind the kid was a four year starter, 2x 1st Team Big 10, 1st Team All-American in 2014, and 2nd Team All-American in 2015 (only beaten out by 1st rounder Ryan Kelly from Alabama). Kind of seems like he was worth taking a flier on at least in the late rounds but what do I know…we shall see. I bet Allen makes a roster and becomes a solid starting center at some point in his career.
  10. Jonathan Bullard vs. Sheldon Day: I’ve noticed that Mayock LOVES to overrate Notre Dame players so I usually make at least one Notre Dame comparison each year, as to me, it’s easy money. This year it’s Bullard from Florida (ranked #34 by me, #65 by Mayock) vs. Day from Notre Dame (ranked #111 by me, #61 by Mayock). Day looks like a future #3 or #4 rotation DT that will make a niche career for himself due to his hustle. That’s valuable, to an extent, but not 2nd round valuable which Mayock rates him at. Bullard on the other hand was one of the most underrated players in this draft as I see star potential with him if put in the right system. He’s a tweener 4-3 DE/DT and reminds me a bit of Malik Jackson coming out of Tennessee a few years back. Yes the 6 years for $90 million this offseason, Malik Jackson. Now THAT is the kind of player you give a 2nd round grade to. I like my odds on this one.

2016 Cowboys Draft Overview

ezekiel-elliott-nfl-dallas-cowboys-ezekiel-elliott-press-conference-4-850x560.jpg (850×560)

Every player drafted by a team last Thursday-Saturday was deemed a quality player by someone. That’s important to remember as there were quite a few picks that EVERYONE hated and quite a few picks that EVERYONE loved. History tells us that some from each category will surprise us by not being what we initially thought. Maybe Jalen Ramsey is a bust at #5, maybe Eli Apple becomes a perennial Pro Bowler at #10. With that in mind I wanted to give both sides to each pick of the Cowboys. Below are the Cowboys 9 draft picks with my player profile of them, an argument for the selection, an argument against the selection and then my final thoughts in a quick overview. The first two picks will be lengthy as these were valuable assets at #4 and #34 which often determine a franchise’s future for a long time. Hit on them, like the Raiders did in 2014 with Khalil Mack and Derek Carr, and your future looks bright. Miss on them, like the Browns did in 2014 with Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel, and you are right back at the top of the draft after having endured more years of losing and misery. These picks are valuable and are worth discussing in detail while the rest can be analyzed more quickly.

Selection: 1st Round (#4 Overall)

Ezekiel Elliott Ohio State 5’11 ¾ 225 Jr. He ran a 4.47 40 which is elite for a RB of his size. His ‘10 ¼ hands are huge, tied for the biggest amongst all running backs at the Combine, and is good to see as big hands usually means few fumbles. He had 1,821 yds rushing in 2015 which would be in the running for tops in the country most years. Last year it was only good for 5th but at 6.3 ypc he did it very efficiently. I also love how consistent he is as he had 1,878 yds in 2014 on 6.88 ypc. Considering how different his 2014 and 2015 offenses were, it is a testament to his pure talent that he could excel in any situation. Teams in 2015 knew Ohio State struggled throwing the ball, they stacked the box and Elliott still exploded on them. Michigan State and Hawaii (38-0 win so not necessarily a valid game to complain about) were the only teams that held him to under 4.3 ypc. As a runner he’s a complete back as he’s a good pass blocker, pass catcher out of the backfield, he can lower his shoulder to get tough yards and then he can break a long one to the end zone. His 2015 Indiana game is impressive as he broke numerous long runs and each one wasn’t just a wide open hole he raced through but a cut here, a broken tackle there and then he was in the open field and couldn’t be caught. His lateral quickness and vision are rare for a back with his strength and quickness. He can juke guys and leap over guys but he doesn’t get too fancy with his footwork and usually is one cut and go. NFL teams will like that N/S style he has. Purely on talent his ceiling isn’t as high as Todd Gurley’s was last year, who I openly stated had Hall of Fame potential, but Elliott is one of the most talented backs to come out of college in quite awhile and he’s very safe too. He doesn’t lack the burst that resulted in Trent Richardson being a bust, he isn’t injury prone like Gurley and he dodges people and avoids punishment unlike next year’s Top 5 pick Leonard Fournette. Elliott projects as a future Pro Bowl running back who will excel as a runner and receiver. He’s the rare prospect that can both be called one of the flashiest players in a draft and also one of the safest as a prospect. Top 10 as my #1 RB 4/27/16.

Defending the pick: Ezekiel Elliott was one of the best players in this draft. He graded out as one of the best running backs to come out of college in years. He will be joining the best offensive line in football and, if he pans out, the Cowboys will have the best rushing attack in the NFL for the next 4-6 years. Why are so many people having a problem with this pick? He has a 4 year rookie contract at $24,965,720 so basically 4 yrs $25 mil ($6.25 mil a year). Everyone just last offseason were clamoring for the Cowboys to trade for Adrian Peterson. Peterson is 31 years old and is on a 3 year $42 million deal ($14 mil a year) yet people are upset we drafted a 20 year old who will get $6.25 mil a year? I don’t get it. At the end of his 4 year rookie contract I fully expect Elliott to have 2-4 Pro Bowls and 1-2 rushing titles on his resume. Moneyballing the running back position has become so in vogue that it has become almost standard practice around the league. When viewed through the prism of certain teams, Patriots, Saints, Mike Shanahan led offenses, the results appear overwhelmingly in favor of the strategy yet Tom Brady and Drew Brees are two of the best QBs in NFL history. You can put crap around them and they will dominate regardless. Tony Romo is a very good QB but he isn’t Tom Brady. In 2014 when DeMarco Murray led the NFL in rushing, Romo led the NFL in QB Rating at 113.2. Only one other season in his 11 year career has he had a QB Rating over 100 (102.5 in 2011). Clearly he played his best football when he had an elite running game tethered to him. Also the idea of moneyballing the running back position is a theory in a vacuum. It basically assumes that none of your draft picks or salary cap has been apportioned and therefore it is worthwhile to spend more of your money on other positions than one that is easily filled on a “replacement player” level and isn’t durable long term. This vacuum scenario is not relevant to the Dallas Cowboys who have already invested three first round picks on their offensive line and soon will be re-signing these Pro Bowl players to +$10 mil a year contracts. The Cowboys have already allotted a lot of resources into creating an elite offensive line so it makes sense to conclude this strategy by getting the best running back you can find to maximize those earlier investments. Everyone needs to calm down with their holier than though, trendy theories about the running back position because Elliott will be the rookie of the year in 2016, will be a Pro Bowler within his first two years and will have a rushing title within his first three. Jump on the Elliott bandwagon before you look foolish.

Panning the pick: The Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott at #4 overall. At the news conference they stated they wanted to recreate the 2014 balanced offensive attack as they saw it as their best way to win a title. News flash, they didn’t win the title in 2014 and they weren’t even that close. This is important to understand as that year the Cowboys had the leading rusher in the NFL (1,845 yards on 4.7 ypc) and had the highest rated QB in the league (113.2 QB Rating). So basically they were as good as can be on offense AND STILL couldn’t make it past the 2nd round of the playoffs. Why? Because their defense was terrible. The Cowboys had a chance to improve on that terrible defense with the #4 and #34 picks in this year’s draft and instead chose a running back and a linebacker that won’t play in 2016. Bravo. It takes balls to look at a team with 5 Pro Bowl caliber offensive players (6 if you include Dan Bailey) and 0 Pro Bowl defensive players and determine that your next foundation type player to be added should be on offense. Elliott is a very talented player and he will be very successful in a Cowboys uniform but I didn’t see a problem with Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris in 2016 and would have much preferred a combination of Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack or Jalen Ramsey and Noah Spence added to this team’s defense. A healthy Romo and Dez with that offensive line will make for a Top 10 offense. The issue was the defense and, somehow, the 2016 defense wasn’t improved on in free agency or in the draft. This is a failed pick that is only redeemed in some peoples’ eyes because it is a flashy pick. Well make sure you get front row seats to the Elliott show folks because its run appears likely to end in December every year.

Overall: I was surprised how negative the response from the media was on Elliott. It is hard to argue he won’t be a Pro Bowl running back and that it wasn’t a huge addition to this team. That being said I was fine with Elliott only if Ramsey wasn’t available and am very surprised the Cowboys didn’t trade down from #4 to #6 with the Ravens for their 3rd rounder. I have my doubts that anyone was looking to trade into the Top 5 for Elliott so it seemed like a surefire trade if the Cowboys had to have Elliott over Ramsey. That being said the Cowboys have become reluctant to trade down in the 1st Round, after years of doing it regularly, and it might be time to just trust them as in the last six drafts they’ve been the best team in the league at drafting in the first round with 4 Pro Bowlers (Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin), a potential Pro Bowler (Bryon Jones) and a mediocre starter (Morris Claiborne). I see Elliott joining the first group which means the Cowboys are a great season by Byron Jones away from drafting 6 Pro Bowlers in the past 7 drafts. Maybe we should all give Cowboys management a break. I worry that Ramsey becomes a perennial Pro Bowler at cornerback or safety and makes us regret passing on him but the Elliott pick was a solid one and is being unfairly panned. I give it a B+

 

Selection: 2nd Round (#34 Overall)

Jaylon Smith Notre Dame 6’2 223 Jr. He’s listed at 240 at Notre Dame so his 223 Combine weight surprised me. Many people viewed him as the #1 Overall Prospect before his injury. I’ve never been as high on him as others have as his two +100 tackle seasons is good but his 4.5 sacks, 1 INT and 3 FF in 3 seasons is hardly elite. Also I’ve always viewed WLB in a 4-3, his most natural position fit, as one of the easiest positions to fill and would have a hard time pulling the trigger on him until all of the highly rated QBs, LTs, pass rushers and cornerbacks were off the board. On the field he was dynamic as he has 4.5 or possibly even 4.4 speed and is very physical for his size. I’ve had a 1st round grade on him since his Sophomore year and have had him on my radar since his freshman year so he has very good pedigree (top HS recruit as well). Where he’s special is in pass coverage as he has the speed and agility to defend the pass as well as any linebacker in the country. Pre-injury I had him as a mid to late 1st rounder. Yet everyone’s grade on him changed after his bowl game injury as it was devastating. He tore his ACL and MCL but most importantly he suffered nerve damage that possibly will never fully heal. It’s telling that even his agent admitted he won’t be playing in 2016 as the agents always sell teams around draft time about them being ready for training camp and other bullshit (best example is Marcus Lattimore’s agent selling teams that he’d be ready for game 1 as a rookie, he basically never played again). Smith has pass rush potential if he can play in the 240s but his pre-injury grade was based too much on potential. Mayock said he had special pass rush skills yet how can he say that when he had a grand total of 1 sack in his last year in college? Smith was always overhyped to me as he looked like a potential Pro Bowl 4-3 LB but you don’t take guys like him over an elite LT like Tunsil or an elite S like Jalen Ramsey. This idea that he was in the discussion as the 1st Overall Pick is ludicrous and is being exacerbated by the media that loves the story of the “fallen star.” Smith though would have settled in as a mid 1st on my board and he’s worth a roll of the dice after the end of the 2nd Round as he does have Pro Bowl potential. There is a distinct possibility that he doesn’t play in 2016 and comes back as a shell of his former self in 2017 but I’d roll the dice on him at some point as his upside is immense. Early 3rd round as my #5 LB who is a roll of the dice due to his devastating injury 4/26/16.

Defending the pick: When a prospect you had a Top 10 grade on is available at #34 you don’t think about it, you just turn in the card with his name on it. The best franchises in the NFL don’t draft for need, they take the best player available. The best franchises in the NFL don’t look at a team for the upcoming season but look at a team five years from now. Teams with long term outlooks end up winning more often than teams with short term outlooks so we shouldn’t be criticizing the Cowboys for drafting with one eye to the future. Admit it, if the Patriots had traded up in the draft and taken Jaylon Smith everyone would have fallen all over themselves praising the “genius of Bill Belichick.” The Cowboys take him and they’re idiots. Mel Kiper had Jaylon Smith as his #1 Overall Player last November and the Cowboys got him at #34. This could be the steal of the draft but everyone in Dallas is so worried about the 2016 season they can’t even see it.

Panning the pick: Some will argue for Smith by stating he was a Top 10 or even Top 5 pick on their board before the injury, I am not one of them as he didn’t have great instincts, was overrated as a pass rusher and is kind of a rich man’s Darron Lee in my eyes. He seemed to be a more athletic but less well rounded linebacker compared to Myles Jack, whom I preferred, so it’s especially aggravating seeing the Cowboys take Smith over Jack. Both were 1st round talents that slipped due to injury concerns but Jack is currently healthy and is ready to practice at mini camps this summer, let alone when the regular season comes around this fall. Why did the Cowboys have to pass on him for Smith who won’t play in 2016 and may never play again? Also the chatter was that Smith was a 2nd or 3rd rounder while Jack was a 1st rounder. I’m not convinced that Smith wouldn’t have been still on the board at #67 when they drafted again and then my mind almost explodes thinking of the possibility that the Cowboys could have drafted Jack AND Smith if they had just switched the order. You don’t take guys with medical red flags as serious as Smith’s until the impact players are off the board. When the Cowboys were on the clock at #34 there were still impact players to be had. Myles Jack, Noah Spence, Mackensie Alexander, Su’a Cravens and Vonn Bell all seemed like good values on the defensive side of the ball and would have been considered likely candidates to start this year for the Cowboys. Smith won’t play in 2016 and IF/WHEN he steps on the field again it will be one year closer to Tony Romo’s retirement party.

Overall: Smith could become one of the steals of the draft but he was a huge risk for any team to take in this draft. I didn’t see the Cowboys being a good fit for this risk as they need impact players on their defense now and somehow didn’t add one despite picking near the top of Rounds 1 and 2 for the first time in over a decade. Also I tire of the Cowboys apparent lack of an overall strategy as the Elliott pick seemed to be an all in on the last few Romo years and then rumors went around that the Cowboys tried to trade up for Paxton Lynch and then they chose Jaylon Smith, two picks that seem to be a 180 degree change from the Elliott/all in approach. Finally the fact that the Cowboys passed on Jack for Smith is probably the most frustrating part of the whole thing as Jack seemed like the perfect middle ground where they got their Top 10 talent at linebacker AND add someone of impact to their defense for 2016. Instead they chose a linebacker that only arguably has a higher upside and it cost them any chance of adding a stud defender for this season. The Cowboys better be right on Smith or this will be an embarrassing miss in their history and could turn the 2016 draft into Elliott and a bunch of players no longer with the team. I grade this pick a C-

 

Selection: 3rd Round (#67 Overall)

Maliek Collins Nebraska 6’1 ⅞ 311 Jr. He had a great 40 (5.03) and really good quickness drills (4.52 shuttle, 7.53 3 cone). He only had 1 season with more than 30 tackles but did have 8 sacks in his 3 year career with his Sophomore year (45 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 10.5 TFL) being better than his Junior year. He’s a one gap penetrating type DT and has good arm length for that type (‘33 ⅛). He has a noticeable burst when attacking a QB and his highlight reel is pretty impressive. He clearly missed Randy Gregory in 2015 though and can be easily shut down if double teamed. He has a few plays where he just beats his man immediately off the snap but most of his sacks, pressures and TFL come from a bull rush where it takes him a decent amount of time to disengage from his blocker. Championship wrestler in high school going 48-0 his senior season. He isn’t that strong and needs to gather himself to take down a QB. His short area quickness and burst are elite as was his 2014 film making me wonder what happened in 2015 as his production was very mediocre. He probably played himself from a late 1st/early 2nd to a mid 3rd round grade because of it. Collins is a tough grade as there are flashes of Pro Bowl talent but he’s too inconsistent as a pass rusher production wise and as a run defender he is mediocre at best due to his average strength. Mid 3rd round as my #10 DT who has a high ceiling but is scheme specific (one gap only) and has a lot of bust potential in him 4/23/16.

Defending the pick: Collins is a perfect fit for Rod Marinelli’s scheme as he’s an explosive, one gap DT that is at his best when he is penetrating. The Cowboys will use him in a rotation so his questionable strength and run stuffing skills won’t be exploited and will allow him to do what he does best, rush the passer. He flashes Pro Bowl skills so there is a high ceiling on him. He also has been productive the past two years in a Big 5 conference so he should be expected to be the #3 DT, behind Crawford and Thornton, from day 1. He is a good combination of value and schematic fit. Don’t be surprised if Collins plays a lot in 2016 and wins a starting job in 2017.

Panning the pick: In 2014 Collins was on a loaded defensive line and looked great. In 2015 he was by himself and regressed a bit, making me question whether he wasn’t a bit overrated previously due to the talent around him. Collins has serious bust potential to him and I question why the Cowboys chose him over more talented defensive tackles like Jonathan Bullard, Andrew Billings and Hassan Ridgeway. He was solid value in the 3rd round while those guys would have been steals at that spot.

Overall: Collins is solid value and a perfect fit for the Cowboys scheme so I have no problem with the pick. It wasn’t a steal by any means and with the DT class having such depth you could argue they should have addressed other positions and taken a DT later but that’s nit picking. Good value and great fit equals good pick. I grade this pick an A-

 

Selection: 4th Round (#101 Overall)

Charles Tapper Oklahoma 6’2 ⅝ 271 Sr. He has extremely long arms (‘34 ⅜) for his size and his ‘11 ½ hands are some of the largest I’ve ever graded. His 4.59 40 is elite for a true DE. His sack total of 15.5 the past three seasons is not impressive but he consistently helped in other areas with 37-50 tackles each of those years. He plays tentatively and isn’t a true playmaker. His size/speed ratio is elite but it doesn’t show up on film as he’s very tightly built, isn’t aggressive as a rusher and isn’t instinctive against the run. I did not like his film and came away thinking he would be a bust. He shows his elite speed on one play though where he races +40 yards down the field to catch an Alabama WR. It’s pretty impressive and he has a good motor but at best Tapper will be a backup at the next level and would be a little surprised if he isn’t just a flat out bust. Early 7th Round as my #13 PR 4/25/16.

Defending the pick: He ran a 4.59 40 at 271 lbs. Look at the size/speed ratio of guys in the 1st round and you will notice that Tapper has pretty much all of them beat. The Marinelli scheme requires speed rushers off the edge and Tapper has the speed to provide that. The defensive linemen at Oklahoma aren’t used in the standard way most teams use them so Tapper has been underutilized a bit and is the reason his sack production was only mediocre. Rumor has it the Cowboys will use him inside at DT sometimes just like they did Jack Crawford the past two years. He is an ideal candidate for that role due to his long arms and huge hands.

Panning the pick: Tapper has elite size/speed ratio and it got him nothing but 3 mediocre sack seasons in college because his instincts, hips and agility were so bad. Now he’s moving up another level in competition and he NOW will be productive? Not likely. Impact pass rushers are almost never found after the late 2nd/early 3rd round so Tapper likely will be a bust. I graded him as a 7th rounder as I didn’t see a strong likelihood that he’d be any more productive than former standout Oklahoma defensive end Jeremy Beal who was a bust. The fact that they are talking about him as a defensive tackle prospect not a defensive end to me smells of desperation.

Overall: Tapper will not be a starting defensive end in the NFL. I am sometimes wrong on prospects but it seemed pretty straight forward that he couldn’t cut it at that position. So his value really comes down to how the Cowboys will use him. I never thought of him as a defensive tackle but it makes some sense as his size/speed ratio is elite, his hand size is almost off the charts, his arm length is very good and he’s strong against the run. Maybe moving him inside will unleash that athleticism which was so easily contained outside. I still don’t love the pick, especially with so much talent still on the board (I really liked Eric Murray, Tyler Higbee, Hassan Ridgeway and Andrew Billings all who were taken within the next 20 picks) but the Tapper pick isn’t as bad as I initially thought IF they try him inside at DT as that does intrigue me. I grade it a C

 

Selection: 4th Round (#135 Overall)

Dak Prescott Mississippi State 6’2 ¼ 226 Sr. Dak is a unique prospect as at 6’2 ¼ 226 with a 4.79 40 he has a thickness to him to go along with some speed and quickness which made him a legit dual threat in college. Unfortunately 4.79 isn’t terrible fast in the NFL and when you watch him against a team like LSU his mediocre athleticism is apparent. He was a darkhorse Heisman candidate the past two seasons as the offense was basically built around him and he produced with 56 TDs to 16 INTs (3.5 to 1). Unfortunately I don’t see his game translating well to the NFL as he isn’t quick twitch fast, his 226 lbs isn’t Cam Newton like so he won’t be a regular short yardage rusher in the NFL, his accuracy is mediocre and even his arm strength has me less than impressed. I’ve seen him in the Top 5 of some QB Rankings by analysts but I don’t see why as to me he’s a backup at best but likely a bust at the next level. 7th Round as my #11 QB 4/6/16.

Defending the pick: Dak is a winner. He came into Mississippi State with that program being a dog and left with it being one of the better teams in the SEC. He won in the SEC then he went to the Senior Bowl and won MVP at that game and he will win in the NFL. He’s a good combination of size, athleticism and throwing ability as he has far more touch than many dual threat QBs. He likely will never be a starter but his all around game could win the Cowboys a few games here or there if/when Romo gets hurt again. For a fourth round pick it’s good value.

Panning the pick: Prescott isn’t fast enough to be a dual threat in the NFL, if you disagree with me watch the LSU tape where he is just gobbled up by their NFL caliber athletes. That will force him to be a pocket passer and he just doesn’t have the arm strength, accuracy or experience to be good in that role. He came from the same system as Tim Tebow, has a similar body type to Tebow and will be a bust like Tebow.

Overall: Prescott had a 7th round grade on my board as I saw him as a great college player that just didn’t transition well to the pros. He has good touch but poor accuracy and arm strength and his film is just ridiculous as he NEVER had to make NFL caliber throws. The system he came from is so gimmicky and rudimentary that I just question whether he’ll even make the Cowboys roster, let alone become the quality backup QB the Cowboys desperately need. I grade this pick an F

 

Selection: 6th Round (#189 Overall)

Anthony Brown Purdue 5’11 ¼ 192 Sr. He ran a 4.35 40 which was among the best 40’s for DBs at the Combine. He’s a big time tackler with 3 seasons of +50 tackles in his career. He didn’t have an INT though until his senior season (4 INTs that year) which is a big red flag. He has some great film as a run defender as he’s strong, physical and aggressive in that area. In 2015 he only played CB but in 2013-2014 he played CB and S with FS probably being his best fit as he lacks the hips or agility to stay at cornerback in my opinion. He’s just too tightly built to make a good cornerback, despite his elite speed, and doesn’t seem to locate the ball in the air very well. At FS though you might have a sleeper as he’s a very good run defender and has all the speed you can ask for in terms of range. His lack of ball skills and tracking ability will be a red flag at FS though too so he has his negatives but he’s an interesting prospect due to his size, speed and ability as a run defender. Late 4th round 5/5/16.

Defending the pick: Brown has elite speed, solid size and is a great run defender. He could be a CB if the Cowboys gave him help with linebackers on certain routes as he can give a good press off the line and has the speed to cover a wideout deep so he’d only need help with the intermediate routes due to his poor agility. Or he could play at free safety where he’d be an upgrade speed wise over JJ Wilcox. Either way Brown is a great value in the 6th round and should be able to battle for a role somewhere in the Cowboys secondary.

Panning the pick: 4 interceptions in 3 seasons as a starter. Yep sounds like a Cowboys secondary player to me. Why do the Cowboys bitch and moan to the media about how they need more turnovers and then draft players like this? If he works out, and with 6th round picks it is a big if, they will have a player with poor ball skills. That is the last thing this secondary needs more of. He is very tightly built and struggles to move laterally so I question his ability as a corner and if he’s a safety you have another safety with no ball skills.

Overall: Brown is probably the best value of any of the Cowboys picks this year. I didn’t grade him before the draft but in hindsight it makes a lot of sense as he’s fast, physical and was a productive three year starter in the Big 10. I think he’s more FS than CB but maybe he could play either spot if the team matched him up on the team’s bigger, slower wideout. At FS though he’d give much needed competition to JJ Wilcox, assuming Byron Jones is a CB in 2016, and his 4.35 40 shows that he has elite speed, something none of the Cowboys secondary has. I really like this pick and grade it an A-

 

Selection: 6th Round (#212 Overall)

Kavon Frazier Central Michigan 5’11 ⅞ 187 Sr. He played regularly all four years at Central Michigan. He had 5 INTs in his career but only 1 INT in his final two seasons (3 INTs as a Soph in 2013). The school listed him 19 lbs heavier than his Combine which makes me wonder if he cut weight to run a fast 40 time. He’s a strong, physical player that looks like a future SS in the pros. He’s very aggressive in run support and is an emotional player that could be a leader of a defense some day. He has some good film as a special teams standout and he fits that profile perfectly with his good size and hitting ability. He ran a 4.58 40 at his pro day with a ‘40 ½ vertical and 10’8 broad jump all of which are outstanding. He has solid agility and is a sure tackler but I don’t see 4.5 speed on film. All of his film is him attacking the ball in front of him and I can’t find any real footage of him tracking a ball down the field and only a little film of him breaking on a pass in front of him. He looks like a core special teamer with a chance to become a starter at SS if a team uses that position as an in the box type guy. 6th round 5/5/16.

Defending the pick: The Cowboys need to add competition to all of their secondary positions and Frazier is an elite athlete that projects as a possible future starter at SS. He should be immediate competition for Jeff Heath as the backup strong safety and could be an option to replace Barry Church down the road.

Panning the pick: Frazier shows no cover skills on film and projects as a career special teamer in my eyes. I question whether he will even make this team’s roster as Jeff Heather is very good in that area and Frazier might be caught in a numbers game.

Overall: Ironically enough NFL.com compared Frazier to Barry Church in their draft profile as an immediate impact special teams player who could develop into a starter down the line. That is what Church did and the Cowboys must be hoping that lightning strikes twice. I think Frazier is solid value in the 6th round as he looks like that classic, backup/special teamer with a chance to develop. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t make the roster but also wouldn’t be surprised if he was a backup for a few years and became a mediocre starter a la Church. He has no cover skills though so I can’t be too excited as it again makes me question how the Cowboys evaluate secondary prospects. I grade this pick as a B-

 

Selection: 6th Round (#216 Overall)

Darius Jackson Eastern Michigan 6’0 221 Sr. He wasn’t invited to the Combine. He’s a bit of a one year wonder with less than 300 yards rushing and under 5.0 ypc each of his first three seasons. He only has 44 career receptions in 4 years and wasn’t used much in the passing game. At his pro day he ran a 4.35 40 and wowed in other areas too (‘41 vertical, 11’1 broad jump-both being among the best at the RB position). He has good size so that athleticism makes him a rare size/speed guy but I didn’t see it translate to the field when watching his film as he has more of a sneaky quickness to him than an uber athleticism. To me he’s a workout warrior who is only worth a shot in the late rounds due to his amazing pro day. 7th round 5/5/16.

Defending the pick: The Cowboys clearly love drafting elite athletes (Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Randy Gregory, etc.) and Jackson was arguably the best athlete drafted on all of Day 3. In the 6th round that’s worth it even if he doesn’t pan out as getting a chance to work with a kid of his upside is rare this deep in the draft. Also he can be the team’s #5 RB and move up to #4 or even #3 next year depending on how free agency works out with McFadden and Dunbar.

Panning the pick: Honestly this is less about Jackson as a prospect and more about the position Jackson plays, running back. With the Elliott pick at #4 the Cowboys had a depth chart with Elliott, Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris and Lance Dunbar. That is probably the best depth chart at any position on the team yet they take another running back? What is even worse is this kid is from a small school, is a one year wonder (under 300 yards rushing till his senior year) and never had a great yards per carry. He likely won’t even make the team.

Overall: The Cowboys are more about athleticism than I am and I am more about productivity than they are so it’s not surprising to see them take a guy like Jackson and for me to hate it. I have two issues with him. First off, why did he never dominate a lower level of competition despite his freakish athleticism. He barely was even on the field until 2015 and even his senior season (1,078 yards rushing on 5.18 ypc) is mediocre. Secondly why would the Cowboys draft another running back anyway? To me this pick is not good value and is a terrible fit. I grade it a F

 

Selection: 6th Round (#217 Overall)

Rico Gathers Baylor 6’6 273 Jr. He hasn’t played football since he was 13 but has the size, length, strength and agility which make him an ideal candidate to switch from PF in basketball to TE in football. He ran a 4.75 40 at his pro day. He led the Big 12 in rebounding in 2015. I couldn’t find any film of his pro day and, obviously there isn’t any footage of him playing football, so I had to go off his basketball film. He’s a thickly built, athletic kid with great dexterity and amazing hops. He did some in between the legs dunks that could win a slam dunk competition so he likely has a +40 inch vertical. His frame suggests football though over basketball as again he’s extremely thickly built and lacks the length to stay inside or the agility to move outside to small forward. He is an interesting prospect but without ever seeing him run a route or catch a football I really can’t grade him. Incomplete 5/5/16.

Defending the pick: When you review previous drafts you quickly see that certain positions are almost a waste of a pick after a certain point. There are practically no quarterbacks or left tackles taken after the first two rounds that become starters and there are practically no starting cornerbacks or tight ends after the first four rounds. At tight end only Mychal Rivera, Luke Wilson, Charles Clay, Kellen Davis and Brent Celek are regular starting tight ends that were drafted in the past 10 drafts after round 4. Of those only Clay and Celek can be considered quality starters for their teams. So taking a tight end in the 6th round is a low probability roll of the dice anyway. In that case why not roll the dice on greatness and take a kid like Gathers that has Pro Bowl athleticism at least. He is raw as can be but the Cowboys depth chart is already pretty set at tight end with Witten, Escobar and Hanna so Gathers is a luxury pick that can be kept if they find something in him at training camp or can easily be cut without a second thought if he is a bust. Also Jason Witten is the best possible teacher for a raw tight end so why not draft a project for him to mentor?

Panning the pick: First off this was a 6th round pick not a 7th round pick. I didn’t see Gathers being drafted at all but to take him in the 6th round instead of the 7th is even more surprising. Second off he’s being compared to Jimmy Graham, Jordan Cameron and others but the problem with that comparison is they played in college. Gathers didn’t just not play in college, he didn’t play in high school as his last playing experience was as a 13 year old. Finally probably my biggest issue with Gathers is that he had the eligibility to go back to Baylor and play football in 2016 and he declined. I worry that he is just looking to get a few hundred thousand dollars out of a team by teasing them with his talent. Why would he not want to go back to Baylor to play football in college for a season to hone his craft and remove some of the rust from his game? To me that lack of willingness to take the necessary steps in the process make me question his desire to fulfill his “childhood dream.”

Overall: Few 6th round picks ever end up starting for an NFL team let alone become an impact starter so to take a piece of clay with his upside makes some sense. I question though why they couldn’t trade down into the 7th round for a guy most didn’t see being draft worthy but whatever he’s just a low risk/high reward roll of the dice. I give the odd pick a C

Round 4-7 Live Blog

With Day 3 picks there are going to be a lot of no names, a lot of flier types and the picks are going to come fast and furious. As such I will only be highlighting the really good, interesting and really bad picks so I’ll skip around a bit. With the draft beginning, below is the Top 50 players available as of the beginning of the 4th round.

  1. Connor Cook QB Michigan St.
  2. Andrew Billings DT Baylor
  3. Jalen Mills S LSU
  4. Hassan Ridgeway DT Texas
  5. Tyler Johnstone OG Oregon
  6. DJ White CB Georgia Tech
  7. Eric Murray CB Minnesota
  8. John Theus OT Georgia
  9. Zack Sanchez CB Oklahoma
  10. Keyarris Garrett WR Tulsa
  11. Pharoh Cooper WR South Carolina
  12. Tyler Higbee TE Western Kentucky
  13. Scooby Wright LB Arizona
  14. Eric Striker LB Oklahoma
  15. Spencer Drango OG Baylor
  16. Kevin Hogan QB Stanford
  17. Jonathan Jones CB Auburn
  18. Jonathan Williams RB Arkansas
  19. Jerald Hawkins OT LSU
  20. CJ Prosise RB Notre Dame
  21. Kentrell Brothers LB Missouri
  22. Kenneth Dixon RB Louisiana Tech
  23. Jerell Adams TE South Carolina
  24. Joe Haig OT North Dakota St.
  25. Roger Lewis WR Bowling Green
  26. Jack Allen C Michigan St.
  27. Vadal Alexander OG LSU
  28. Malcolm Mitchell WR Georgia
  29. Connor McGovern OG Missouri
  30. Jordan Howard RB Indiana
  31. Miles Killibrew S Southern Utah
  32. Jordan Payton WR UCLA
  33. Maurice Canady S Virginia
  34. Devontae Booker RB Utah
  35. Matt Judon PR Akron
  36. Fahn Cooper OT Ole Miss
  37. Sebastian Tretola OG Arkansas
  38. Sheldon Day DT Notre Dame
  39. Alex Collins RB Arkansas
  40. Cardale Jones QB Ohio St.
  41. Tyler Matakevich LB Temple
  42. Joe Schobert LB Wisconsin
  43. Kolby Listenbee WR TCU
  44. Tyler Ervin RB San Jose St.
  45. Cole Toner OG Harvard
  46. Jeremy Cash S Duke
  47. Bryce Williams TE East Carolina
  48. Joshua Perry LB Ohio St.
  49. Brandon Allen QB Arkansas
  50. Jake Brendel C UCLA

99. Browns: Joe Schobert-He was #42 available so it is solid value. Most see him as a 3-4 OLB but I think he’s too small for that position so I’d move him inside to 3-4 ILB for the Browns. Who knows what they do with him or if he even makes an impact but at #99 it’s a solid pick and continues the excellent draft the Browns are having.

100. Raiders: Connor Cook-Despite this being only the 2nd pick in Day 3 it could end up staying as the best pick in all of Rounds 4-7. What a great pick. I had a 1st round grade on him and even if you disagree it’s hard to argue he shouldn’t have been taken in the first 3 rounds. He’ll be a great backup and if he excels in the preseason he could become trade bait in the future.

Cowboys on the Clock: Andrew Billings, Andrew Billings, Andrew Billings! Please! Also Jalen Mills as a CB/S could be great for that secondary, which so far looks earlier similar to the bad secondary of the past four seasons.

101. Cowboys: Charles Tapper-I do not like this pick. He was the #61 available player on my board and I had a 7th round grade on him as I just didn’t see the production or the agility that made me think he’d ever be anything in the pros. In fact the only reason I had a draftable grade on him was because he had a very good Combine. Word is they will use him up and down the line and maybe put him at DT in passing downs. That worked well for Jack Crawford who was a bust as a DE for the Raiders so maybe he works out, just not at the position I thought he’d play. Below is his draft profile:

Charles Tapper Oklahoma 6’2 ⅝ 271 Sr. He has extremely long arms (‘34 ⅜) for his size and his ‘11 ½ hands are some of the largest I’ve ever graded. His 4.59 40 is elite for a true DE. His sack total of 15.5 the past three seasons is not impressive but he consistently helped in other areas with 37-50 tackles each of those years. He plays tentatively and isn’t a true playmaker. His size/speed ratio is elite but it doesn’t show up on film as he’s very tightly built, isn’t aggressive as a rusher and isn’t instinctive against the run. I did not like his film and came away thinking he would be a bust. He shows his elite speed on one play though where he races +40 yards down the field to catch an Alabama WR. It’s pretty impressive and he has a good motor but at best Tapper will be a backup at the next level and would be a little surprised if he isn’t just a flat out bust. Early 7th Round as my #13 PR 4/25/16.

103. Jaguars: Sheldon Day-I like this pick here. He was #37 available and looks like a good #3 rotational DT with a chance to develop down the line as a starter. That’s solid value in the 4th round and you have to love his motor, his work ethic and his leadership as he was a multiple selection as a captain, one of only two dozen or so players in Notre Dame’s history to earn that honor. He’s a locker room glue guy and has solid athleticism. Good pick.

106. Chiefs: Eric Murray-Great pick, #6 available, as I see him as having starter caliber talent and in Day 3 you draft elite traits and look less at red flags. Murray isn’t a fast corner but he’s arguably the biggest hitter and strongest tackler in this entire CB class so he has some elite traits that are worth taking a look at in the 4th round. Great pick.

110. Rams: Tyler Higbee-This is a great pick as it is very good value (#10 available), a perfect fit (quick name the starting TE for the Rams, exactly) and I went back and change my initial grade on Higbee because I watched a little more tape of him and delved more into his arrest charge to become more comfortable with him. Hot sports opinion: Higbee has a higher upside than Hunter Henry as this kid is big, fast and agile. He could become a Pro Bowl tight end but at worst he should be a good #2 TE and that alone is worth a 4th round pick. Great pick.

111. Lions: Miles Killibrew-He is a good pick, #28 available, as he is a big time hitter and should be an immediate impact player as a special teamer and can be a nickel linebacker while he develops his coverage skills.

112. Patriots: Malcolm Mitchell-This is a great pick as it is good value, #25 available, and a perfect fit. The reason?  Mitchell plays slot receiver and the Patriots are the only team in the league that often has two slot receivers on the field at the same time. Also Mitchell played both sides of the ball and the Patriots are the only team in the league that has their wide receivers sometimes play a little cornerback. All just conjecture at this point but if he can stick on that roster I think the Patriots will use him to the best of his ability.

116. Colts: Hassan Ridgeway-Well now 3 of the 4 undervalued, athletic DTs on my board are gone. Ridgeway was the #3 available player so he’s a steal at this point as I saw 1st round athleticism in this kid. He’s raw though and has some off the field issues so he fell but you can argue that Ridgeway has more talent than quite a few DTs that were taken long ago so in the 4th round he’s worth a roll of the dice.

117. Rams: Pharoh Cooper-I love this pick. He was the #8 available and just looks like an interesting combination of size, speed and agility. He reminds me a bit of Stevie Johnson of the Bills/Chargers as he isn’t a usual route runner and does things a bit differently than most wideouts but he consistently makes plays. Getting Cooper with Tyler Higbee in the 4th round is two potential starters IN THE 4TH ROUND?! That’s impressive. I think this also shows the Rams are losing interest in Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin and these other flier types at wideout they compiled the past few years (Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens, etc.). This franchise has not found quality wideouts in the draft or free agency so I like them sort of pushing the reset button.

119. Texans: Tyler Ervin-He is an interesting pick, #35 available, as he has the Dri Archer type of game with elite speed where he can be a kick returner, punt returner, 3rd down back and possibly as a slot receiver. I think Ervin has potential to be an impact player if used correctly. He couldn’t hold up physically if given too big of a workload but I also think it’d be a mistake if he was used solely on special teams.

122. Bengals: Andrew Billings-This is probably going to be the 2nd best pick on Day 3 (behind only Connor Cook). Billings had a late 1st round grade on my board (#1 available) so he’s great value but it’s also a great fit as the Bengals have a deep DL and use a rotation system which will allow him to immediately get his feet wet and could allow them to not re-sign a player in future years ahead of him so that he can get some playing time.

134. Ravens: Kenneth Dixon-He is a good pick, #14 available, and reminds me of Tashard Choice as he has great vision, good toughness and is just a smooth runner. He’s a perfect #2 runner as he can give you 5-7 carries a game when the starter is healthy and then can take over and give you a 20-25 carry game when the starter is hurt. A lot of change of pace guys can’t become “the guy” for even short stretches so it’s a nice benefit to have.

Cowboys on the clock. Here is my current Top 10.

  1. Jalen Mills S LSU
  2. Tyler Johnstone OG Oregon
  3. DJ White CB Georgia Tech
  4. John Theus OT Georgia
  5. Zack Sanchez CB Oklahoma
  6. Keyarris Garrett WR Tulsa
  7. Scooby Wright LB Arizona
  8. Eric Striker LB Oklahoma
  9. Spencer Drango OG Baylor
  10. Kevin Hogan QB Stanford

135. Cowboys: Dak Prescott-I don’t like this pick but he’s the Senior Bowl MVP, was a winner in the SEC and a dark horse Heisman candidate for the past two years. I just think his accuracy, arm strength and ability to thread the needle are very questionable. Also he’s not as athletic as he gets credit for as a guy I liked a lot more, Kevin Hogan, is bigger and faster. That would have been my pick as a developmental QB but who knows, maybe Dak works out. He did have his group of supporters for sure, I was not one of them. Profile below:

Dak Prescott Mississippi State 6’2 ¼ 226 Sr. Dak is a unique prospect as at 6’2 ¼ 226 with a 4.79 40 he has a thickness to him to go along with some speed and quickness which made him a legit dual threat in college. Unfortunately 4.79 isn’t terrible fast in the NFL and when you watch him against a team like LSU his mediocre athleticism is apparent. He was a darkhorse Heisman candidate the past two seasons as the offense was basically built around him and he produced with 56 TDs to 16 INTs (3.5 to 1). Unfortunately I don’t see his game translating well to the NFL as he isn’t quick twitch fast, his 226 lbs isn’t Cam Newton like so he won’t be a regular short yardage rusher in the NFL, his accuracy is mediocre and even his arm strength has me less than impressed. I’ve seen him in the Top 5 of some QB Rankings by analysts but I don’t see why as to me he’s a backup at best but likely a bust at the next level. 7th Round as my #11 QB 4/6/16.

139. Bills: Cardale Jones-I didn’t love Jones but with the last pick in the 4th round it makes sense. He reminds me of Logan Thomas, who was a bust by the way, as he has a huge frame, a huge arm and a lot of potential as just an overall athlete. He isn’t very accurate or experienced but one interesting nugget is that he never lost a game as a starter in his career. That’s pretty crazy. As a developmental QB prospect he makes sense as his ceiling is very high. He likely will be a bust but it’s worth a roll of the dice here, especially because the Bills run a system that allows their QBs to run which will help him.

141. Panthers: Zack Sanchez-This is the 3rd CB taken by the Panthers. The previous two were not even on my board but the 3rd was a steal (#5 available) and I really like it. He has elite ball skills (+15 INTs) and really knows how to jump routes. Since the Panthers play a lot of zone and let their corners take chances he is a perfect fit for their system. Great pick!

144. Broncos: Connor McGovern-I like this pick, #18 available, as he has great versatility as a player and looks to have some upside to him. It isn’t a steal or anything but in the 5th round it makes a lot of sense for a team that needs surprisingly a lot of help, despite winning a championship last year, due to their expensive star players that forced them to say goodbey to a lot of talent via free agency.

145. 49ers: John Theus-I love this pick, #4 available, as he has elite experience (4 year starter at both tackle spots in the best conference in the nation) and has the size to be a capable starting right tackle. He lacks elite strength as a road grader and isn’t athletic enough to be a LT but should be able to have a solid career as a role playing starter.

146. Ravens: Matt Judon-A lot of interesting picks recently. Judon was my #21 available and was one of the most interesting prospects in this entire draft as his film looked great and he had a good Combine. The issue is his level of competition at Akron is just terrible and it’s really hard to get a good read on these small school prospects. That being said he’s a perfect roll of the dice type which is what you are looking for in the mid to late rounds as all the sure fire starters are already gone so you have to go for the high upside/high bust potential guys or settle for career backups.

150. Bears: Jordan Howard-He is a good pick, #17 available, as he has some great attributes (vision, strength and aggressiveness) which should make him a short yardage, goal line specialist at worst and the thunder to Jeremy Langford’s lightning at best.

154. Browns: Jordan Payton-Another very good pick for the Browns, #17 available, as he looks like a solid #2 or #3 WR as he isn’t a great athlete but is a smooth route runner, has good hands and solid size/speed ratio.

155. Colts: Joe Haeg-Back to back good picks, #13 available. Haeg comes from North Dakota State where he was the blindside protector for Carson Wentz the past two years. He isn’t a great athlete and isn’t that strong but he has a ceiling as an average RT and he could develop into that role in a few years. A good pick at this point in the draft and again shows the Colts commitment to get better protection for Andrew Luck.

156. Bills: Jonathan Williams-I love picks like this where a team overlooks an injury and goes back to the previous year’s tape. He didn’t play in 2015 but in 2014 he looked good and I think it is a steal at this point (#10 available). His smooth running style intrigues me and I had him as my #3 RB in this draft. No one else had him that high but I find it interesting that Devontae Booker, the most common prospect as the #3 RB, is still on the board. The reality is that this was a 2 RB draft and then the board got muddled. I love Williams, others liked Booker, others liked Dixon and some had Prosise as their #3. Time will tell but Williams in the 5th round is a steal in my eyes.

160. Vikings: Kentrell Brothers-I like this pick a lot (#10 available) as it’s good value and Brothers is a big hitter that excels in run support but who needs to be surrounded by athletes as he isn’t a great one himself. Anthony Barr fits pretty well profile wise in that regard and makes the Brothers pick look even better.

162. Chiefs: Kevin Hogan-One of the better picks on Day 3 (#8 available) as I saw Hogan and Cody Kessler as the two best “developmental” types as mid to late rounders (didn’t see Connor Cook lasting into the middle rounds). Hogan has elite height and speed for the position, is accurate and seems to understand how to attack a defense. His issue simply is that his arm strength is terrible. Of course his weight is pretty low too and I see him as a guy that will gain 10-15 lbs over the next 2-3 years and you will see his arm strength noticeably improve. If it does not he will be a career backup but if he can add some strength to his arm he could become a surprise starter in a few years. This is a great pick and it isn’t surprising as Andy Reid seems to always be taking quarterbacks that surprisingly fall. A few years ago it was Tyler Bray out of Tennessee and he’s looked good in the preseason. A few years before that it was Chase Daniels who secured a nice deal as a backup who will compete for the starting job in Philadelphia. Hogan is the next in this line.

168. Browns: Spencer Drango-Another GREAT pick by the Browns. He was the #7 available player on my board who played at LT but who will play OG in the pros. I love guards that played LT in college as it shows they have good feet and good athleticism. I’m frankly surprised Drango dropped this far as this isn’t a great guard class and he seemed to be one of the better ones in it. I definitely liked him more than Westerman who was taken earlier this round. The Browns probably a round ago wrapped up the award for best draft in 2016 so this is just icing on the cake.

170. Cardinals: Cole Toner-I like this pick, #18 available. Some have him as an OT, I have him as an OG. He had a bad Senior Bowl week but it was a huge step up in competition vs. Harvard so I give him a bit of a pass. Keep in mind Chad Ochocinco, Andy Dalton, Josh Norman, etc. are good players that struggled at the Senior Bowl. In the late 5th round he’s a good OG/OT tweener that you give a good OL coach and tell him to find a spot for him. Solid pick.

171. Seahawks: Alex Collins-I like this pick, #16 available, as he’s good value and the Seahawks have a good young runner in Thomas Rawls but he only has 147 career carries and was injured pretty quickly when the team turned to him as the workhorse back. He needs help and the Seahawks added Prosise in the 3rd and Collins in the 5th. Prosise has a higher upside but Collins is probably the more complete player now so don’t be surprised if Collins is #2 in 2016 while Prosise continues to learn the RB position, former wide receiver at Notre Dame.

174. 49ers: Fahn Cooper-Good pick. He was my #14 available and looked very solid at LT and RT the past two years with Ole Miss. In the pros he’s solely a RT prospect and that is a good fit as the 49ers have an All-Pro in Joe Staley at LT while their RT position is in flux with the current issues involving Anthony Davis. At worst he provides good depth but there is a starting spot available to him if he is quick to develop.

178. Chiefs: DJ White-This is a great pick, #3 available, and the Chiefs are starting to have a really good draft. Getting DJ White and Eric Murray on Day 3, two guys who had 2nd round grades on my board, is outstanding value. Both are stronger, physical guys which is their preferred profile at CB. White also was a team leader and was incredibly productive last year. I suspect White or Murray is a starting CB in 2018. Considering that player will be making less than $800k a year, that is a great ROI.

179. Chargers: Drew Kaser-I didn’t grade the special teams players so he wasn’t on my board but Aguayo was the best kicker to come out of college in years and Kaser was the best punter to come out of college in years. Aguayo in the 2nd made sense, Kaser in the 6th is a steal. Keep in mind the Jaguars took the best punter in the draft a few years ago in the 3rd round, famously ahead of Russell Wilson, so usually when you have that once every few years type punter, like Kaser is, he is taken earlier than the 6th round. This is a sneaky good pick.

184. Giants: Jerell Adams-This is a great pick, #7 available, as he was my #4 TE and he is at least the 8th TE taken. On upside he has a higher ceiling than Austin Hooper and his surprisingly athleticism and quickness for his size reminds me of a poor man’s Martellus Bennett. The Giants have had a bad draft this year but Adams is a great pick.

Cowboys on the clock: At this point in the draft you aren’t really going completely off your board but are starting to look at your board and saying, who is a guy that for sure will be drafted in the next 60 picks if we don’t take him as now you are maybe skipping over guys that could be available as undrafted free agents. I would love to see Scooby Wright or Eric Striker taken here as both are good fits as WLBs in Marinelli’s scheme. Wright has an injury concern though and very easily could go undrafted. Johnstone is another that I love but isn’t favored by a lot of people and could easily go undrafted as well. Mills is still undrafted for unknown reasons as he dominated at the Senior Bowl and had a late 1st/early 2nd round grade on my board. I guess off the field issues but who knows.

  1. Jalen Mills S LSU
  2. Tyler Johnstone OG Oregon
  3. Keyarris Garrett WR Tulsa
  4. Scooby Wright LB Arizona
  5. Eric Striker LB Oklahoma
  6. Jonathan Jones CB Auburn
  7. Roger Lewis WR Bowling Green
  8. Jack Allen C Michigan St.
  9. Vadal Alexander OG LSU
  10. Maurice Canady S Virginia
  11. Devontae Booker RB Utah
  12. Sebastian Tretola OG Arkansas
  13. Tyler Matakevich LB Temple
  14. Kolby Listenbee WR TCU
  15. Jeremy Cash S Duke

189. Cowboys: Anthony Brown-He ran a 4.35 40 and seems like a good athlete that lacks toughness. I did not scout him and he was not on my board but I only have one other CB, Jonathan Jones from Auburn, with any real talent left on my board so I’m not worried about them taking him instead of someone else on my board. Clearly they decided they needed to address the CB position in this draft. I agree but just disagree about them starting the process in the 6th round. To me most good starting cornerbacks in the NFL are taken in rounds 1-3. Yes you can argue all positions are kind of like that but QB, LT, Pass Rusher and CB is more so as you see a lot of mid to late round (or undrafted) guys starting at OG, C, LB and S. You don’t see a lot at CB. Maybe Brown surprises but to me they had their shots at Jalen Ramsey, Kendall Fuller and others yet went other directions. I think that is a mistake as again the Cowboys will have Scandrick, Carr, Claiborne, Church and Wilcox in their top 6 DBs which will be the 4th straight year they’ve had that combo. I just can’t logically process why they see that combination fail every year and never address it. (Yes they added Bryon Jones last year in the 1st round but those 5 DBs still have stayed in their spots for the past 3 years, 4 years if you remove Wilcox. The logic still holds up as Jones only is 1 member of a 4-5 member secondary. You need more than 1 body to improve a unit dramatically.)

192. Bills: Kolby Listenbee-He wasn’t my favorite player but he’s #14 available and surprisingly dropped so some will argue he’s a steal at this point. I don’t necessarily agree as he’s a one trick pony, pure speed, but at this point in the draft you’re searching for elite traits and he has one. He easily could be a bust but he also wouldn’t shock me as a #3 WR for the next 8-10 years. Solid pick.

193. Titans: Sebastian Tretola-He’s a physical mauler type that I liked but didn’t love, #12 available. Everyone who scouts him knows his strengths and weaknesses so guys like him are more scheme fits than good/bad players. With the Titans he’s a great scheme fit as he will play opposite Chance Warmack who is another mauler type with questionable athleticism. This is a good value pick in the 6th round as in the right scheme he has starter potential.

201. Jaguars: Brandon Allen-I love Brandon’s tape and think he’s a great fit here, #15 available. He reminds me of Case Keenum with his size, surprisingly strong arm and really good mobility. That being said Keenum is more a great backup than anything else and Allen projects as that too due to his small size, 6’1 215. Watch the 2015 tape though and you will see the best QB in the SEC and a guy that really can thread the needle and make plays when everything breaks down. Don’t be surprised if he excels in the preseason in 2016 or 2017 and there are trade rumors about him as he won’t be supplanting Blake Bortles.

209. Ravens: Maurice Canady-I like this pick, #10 available, but some will say it’s an absolute steal as I had the distinct impression that I had him graded lower on my board than the consensus. The reason is I think he’s a safety not a cornerback and downgraded him as a result. It will be interesting to see where the Ravens take him but again it looks like Newsome made a good value pick in the latter rounds, surprise surprise.

211. 49ers: Kelvin Taylor-Some will love this pick due to his bloodlines but I don’t as he has no burst, his yards per carry were under 5.0 each of his three seasons which is terrible, and I think he wouldn’t have even been a high level recruit out of High School except for his dad so now he’s a late round pick because of his dad? The fact is Florida probably was happy to see him leave early for the NFL as they probably felt like they needed to play him due to his dad’s connections but he just wasn’t that good in college and won’t be good in the NFL. He’s not his dad. Move on.

Cowboys on the clock, here are my Top 10 Available:

  1. Jalen Mills S LSU
  2. Tyler Johnstone OG Oregon
  3. Keyarris Garrett WR Tulsa
  4. Scooby Wright LB Arizona
  5. Eric Striker LB Oklahoma
  6. Jonathan Jones CB Auburn
  7. Roger Lewis WR Bowling Green
  8. Jack Allen C Michigan St.
  9. Vadal Alexander OG LSU
  10. Devontae Booker RB Utah

212. Cowboys: Kavon Frazier-Another guy I didn’t have on my board. I will go back and scout these Cowboys selections that I didn’t draft so I can get a feel for them. Per Bucky Brooks, one of my favorite media analysts, Frazier is gaining weight (played at 215 and is currently 225) so the idea is that the Cowboys want him as a WLB in their 403 and not as a SS. That makes sense as 4-3 WLB is an easy to fill but also a very valuable position for their defense and currently I see no talent behind Sean Lee. They are well off at SLB but surprisingly WLB is a need, at least depth wise, so this makes sense.

216. Cowboys: Darius Jackson-RB Eastern Michigan. Not on my board. I’ll scout him and post a profile later.

217. Cowboys: Rico Gathers-TE Baylor. Now I don’t have him on my board BUT I know this kid. He’s a high profile guy in the media as he’s a former power forward who is switch sports a la Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzalez. Now those latter two had at least one season of football so Gathers is raw as can be BUT their depth chart at TE is pretty set already with Witten, Escobar and Hanna so they can afford to “redshirt” him if you will. He is a pick for 2017 not 2016 just like their 2nd rounder Jaylon Smith.

233. Eagles: Jalen Mills-This is one of the best picks in the entire draft. He’s #1 available on my board and has been for quite awhile as I saw him as a late 1st/early 2nd round grade. Now there are some off the field issues with him and I don’t sit down with guys at the Combine to interview them  so I have to assume this has contributed to his fall down the board as on talent alone he is a very good FS prospect. He had a great Senior Bowl week, played cornerback actually, showing great cover skills and you have to wonder what the media and I don’t know which caused him to fall this far. If he gets that cleaned up he should be a steal at this point and at worst is a great roll of the dice in the 7th round.

234. Raiders: Vadal Alexander-He’s great value, #8 available, and a great fit as the Raiders are the most heavy OL in the league with Keleche Osemele at OT, Menelik Watson, Donald Penn, Gabe Jackson, Austin Howard, etc. To add a guy like Alexander shows they know their profile and they are drafting accordingly. I love that. This is one of the better picks on Day 3.

246. Steelers: Tyler Matakevich-He’s #9 available and is a physical guy that goes all out. He has a never ending motor and fits well in a Steeler’s uniform. At worst he’s a core special teamer and at best he’s

250. Browns: Scooby Wright-Okay okay okay. I’m trying not to get too excited about this pick but dude his 2014 season was one of THE GREATEST SEASONS EVER!!!! I’m just saying this kid can’t do what he did in 2014 and then never be heard from again. I LOVE this pick. Also considering the Browns wrapped up the best draft this year in the 4th round, it is no surprise that they added him in the 7th round! Maybe the best pick in Day 3, I thought Connor Cook would be that pick but Scooby in the 7th? Really? I just don’t get how guys this productive fall so far.

Round 2-3 Live Blog

Below are the Top 50 players currently available.

  1. Myles Jack LB UCLA                                Top 10
  2. Noah Spence PR Eastern Kentucky    Top 15
  3. Mackensie Alexander CB Clemson
  4. Emmanuel Ogbah PR Oklahoma St.
  5. Kendall Fuller CB Virginia Tech
  6. Connor Cook QB Michigan St.              Top 20
  7. Shon Coleman OT Auburn
  8. Reggie Ragland LB Alabama
  9. Derrick Henry RB Alabama
  10. Andrew Billings DT Baylor
  11. Hunter Henry TE Arkansas
  12. Jalen Mills S LSU
  13. Jonathan Bullard DT Florida                  Early 2nd Round
  14. Hassan Ridgeway DT Texas
  15. Tyler Johnstone OG Oregon
  16. Adolphus Washington DT Ohio St.
  17. Jason Spriggs OT Indiana
  18. DJ White CB Georgia Tech
  19. Michael Thomas WR Ohio St.                 Mid 2nd Round
  20. Tyler Boyd WR Pittsburgh
  21. Carl Nassib PR Penn St.
  22. Cody Whitehair OG Kansas St.
  23. Cody Kessler QB USC
  24. Eric Murray CB Minnesota
  25. Cyrus Jones CB Alabama                          Late 2nd Round
  26. Braxton Miller WR Ohio St.
  27. John Theus OT Georgia
  28. Zack Sanchez CB Oklahoma
  29. Keyarris Garrett WR Tulsa
  30. Von Bell CB Ohio St.
  31. Su’a Cravens LB USC
  32. Pharoh Cooper WR South Carolina       Early 3rd Round
  33. Tyler Higbee TE Western Kentucky
  34. Jaylon Smith LB Notre Dame
  35. A’Shawn Robinson DT Alabama
  36. Bronson Kaufusi PR BYU
  37. Scooby Wright LB Arizona
  38. Eric Striker LB Oklahoma
  39. Spencer Drango OG Baylor
  40. Kevin Hogan QB Stanford
  41. Xavien Howard CB Baylor
  42. Max Tuerk C USC
  43. Jonathan Jones CB Auburn                       Mid 3rd Round
  44. Christian Hackenberg QB Penn St.
  45. Maliek Collins DT Nebraska
  46. Sterling Shepard WR Oklahoma
  47. Kamalai Correa Boise St.
  48. Nick Martin C Notre Dame
  49. Jonathan Williams RB Arkansas
  50. Jerald Hawkins OT LSU

With the 2nd Round about to begin rumors are flying around that the Dallas Cowboys are trying to trade up. That is pretty odd considering they are only 2 spots away from the Browns pick. They moved up two years ago in the 2nd round for DeMarcus Lawrence when they viewed him as the last pass rusher available that would be an impact player. They clearly are in the same line of thinking, though I disagree as I have two pass rushers (Noah Spence and Emmanuel Ogbah) with 1st round grades staring them in the face right now. Also I would love to see them get a guy like Mackensie Alexander who has a Pro Bowl ceiling and absolutely dominated 1st round pick Will Fuller last year. To me the Cowboys have too many needs to trade up a few spots for a pass rushers, especially with the amount of talent on the board, but that appears to be what they are trying to do. Ogbah supposedly is the star of their eye and it they can swing the trade it’d be expensive and somewhat wasteful, but still a very good big as Ogbah has a similar build, back story (African decent) and talent level as Ziggy Ansah of the Detroit Lions.

Also a few other interesting nuggets:

  • The Cowboys apparently were offered the Ravens 3rd rounder to move down from 4 to 6 so the Ravens could get Jalen Ramsey. I’m shocked that they didn’t take that trade as Ramsey, arguably the best player in the entire draft, falling to them at #4, created an opportunity and made their #4 more valuable than it should have been. What did they do with it? Nothing. The Jaguars took TJ Yeldon last year, the 49ers at #7 took Carlos Hyde two years ago and other teams lower down the rank didn’t have a huge need at RB. Only the Dolphins at #13 seemed to really be interested in moving up for Ezekiel Elliott so unless they were sure the Jaguars would want to drop from 5 to 13 I think the Cowboys just wasted an opportunity to net a free 3rd rounder.
  • Also apparently the Cowboys actively sought to trade up for Paxton Lynch. I wasn’t a huge fan of Lynch so I’m glad that failed but more importantly is the fact that the Cowboys, if successful, would have ended the 2016 NFL Draft with a shiny new RB and QB and then a borderline starter on defense with their 4th round pick. Who could possibly think that strategy made sense considering the needs of the Dallas Cowboys? It also seems very counter productive as Elliott wasn’t the best player on the board but, it can be argued that he would make the biggest initial impact so taking Elliott was an “all in for the last 2-3 years of the Romo era.” To follow up that “all in” pick with Paxton Lynch, which was the exact opposite, seems to show me that the Cowboys still don’t have a comprehensive strategy that they are following and are just kind of making things up as they go along. Not a good sign.

32. Browns: Emmanuel Ogbah-Well it’s a good pick, #4 overall on my board, and now makes sense as to why the Cowboys were trying so hard to trade up. They probably were told by the Browns that he was the pick and the Cowboys then tried to overpay to convince them to trade down.

33. Titans: Kevin Dodd-This is a good pick by most people but I had him as my #50 available player as he was a one year wonder (no production at all the first 2 seasons at Clemson, I me NO production) and looked like he lacked the agility or burst to be special. We shall see if he exceeds expectations and becomes a dominant pass rusher or if he’s the next Clemson bust.

34. Cowboys: Jaylon Smith-I like the pick but don’t love it (#33 available) as the moneyball way to do this would be to trade down consistently until Smith or Jack was off the board and then you trade up for the other one. Smith and Jack were similar grades on my board (pre-injury), I liked Jack a bit more due to his strength, but either one could have fallen to the late 2nd/early 3rd round. Why be the first team to take one when there are two. Just trade back, gain value and then move up whenever the first one is gone. Of course Smith was the #1 Overall player on a number of boards this season so if he is healthy he is very good value here. I just worry more with Smith than Jack as Smith had nerve damage and his knee injury was pretty gruesome.

35. Chargers: Hunter Henry-#10 available on my board, this is where I expected Henry to go, though not the team I expected him to go to. Henry isn’t a great athlete and doesn’t project as a star tight end but he’ll be a solid starter, think Dennis Pitta, who runs good routes and has great hands which make him a red zone threat on jump balls. Good pick.

36. Jaguars: Myles Jack-Well he didn’t last long so there goes my moneyball strategy. I like the Jaylon Smith pick but love the Myles Jack pick as he was better pre-injury in my opinion, had a less severe knee injury, had his injury longer ago and Jack is a better fit for the Jaguars than Smith is for the Cowboys scheme wise. Jack was a serious contender for being picked at #5 so for them to get Ramsey and Jack in successive rounds makes the Jaguars the early leaders for best draft.

37. Chiefs: Chris Jones-This is a huge man that I thought fit best in a 3-4 scheme so he fits well but I had him as an early 4th rounder and with athletic guys like Billings, Bullard and Ridgeway still available at DT I think most would agree that this was a reach. Bad value but it could still work out as Jones fits well in their scheme and Dontarri Poe is a free agent next year.

38. Dolphins: Xavien Howard-He was the #37 available so ti is a slight reach, especially with Mackensie Alexander still available, but he has good speed and has great ball skills so he has potential. I just question his speed and think he might be a zone guy solely.

39. Bucs: Noah Spence-He was the #1 available on my board and is neck and neck with Myles Jack as the best picks in the 2nd round. Spence had an amazing Senior Bowl and was arguably the better player in 2013 when he and Bosa teamed up as edge rushers.I really was hoping he or Alexander would be the Cowboys pick at #34. Final thought: If Spence had gone #11 to the Bucs I don’t think anyone would have been shocked. Instead he went #39 to the same team. Great pick!

40. Giants: Sterling Shepard-Wow this is early. I heard people were into him but early 2nd round seems like a reach to me. I had a mid 3rd round grade on him (#40) as to me he looks like a career slot guy, though he has just enough size to possibly be outside. He’s a fun guy to watch but guys his size are a dime a dozen and without top end speed I question how much more valuable he will be than Jamison Crowder (3rd rounder last year) or Cole Beasley (undrafted).

41. Bills: Reggie Ragland-I compared this guy to David Harris so it makes sense that Harris’ long time coach and biggest supporter Rex Ryan, took him here. This is a safe pick, is a great fit and is really good value in the early to mid 2nd round as he could have gone in the 20’s.

42. Ravens: Kamalei Correa-He was the #40 player available so another slight reach BUT this kid is interesting as he isn’t great as a rusher but has great agility and is very physical so he could be a very good ILB in a 3-4. I’ll be curious where the Ravens play him as the more he is asked to rush the passer the less valuable he is in my opinion.

43. Titans: Austin Johnson-I like Johnson but dislike this pick as he is hard to argue as the best DT available with so many more athletic options still available. I would love to see Johnson’s career vs. Billings, Bullard or Ridgeway 3-5 years from now. Johnson looks like a mediocre starter or good #3 DT aka rotation DT. That isn’t great value in the mid 2nd round.

44. Raiders: Jihad Ward-Well that old man Willie Brown is awesome. I hope I’m that fun to be around when I’m 80. Ward was loved on some boards so this isn’t a reach to most but I had him as the #77 available as I saw a raw project type that doesn’t look like he can contribute anytime soon. Again though many saw Ward as a 2nd rounder so it makes some sense in that way.

45. Titans: Derrick Henry-I love this pick value wise (#5 overall player on my board) but they just traded for DeMarco Murray? Just a curious decision but again it’s great value and with the Titans having SO many picks due to the trade down from #1 to #15 they maybe just said let’s take the best player available and with so many picks we will get all of our needs filled anyway. What a luxury.

46. Lions: A’Shawn Robinson-I was expecting to hate the pick when the Alabama DTs went but I think this pick is solid. It is a little early on my board but not too much for a great run stopper. He “fell” because he doesn’t do anything other than stop the run but it’s not hard to argue he’s the best run stopper in the draft and they added him at #46. Solid pick and great fit for a franchise that seemed to really miss Suh last year.

47. Saints: Michael Thomas-This is a great pick (#13 available) as he has size, strength and really good hands. He isn’t the fastest guy on the field but they already have a guy with elite speed, Brandin Cooks, and Thomas could be a perfect compliment to him long term. Good fit, great value.

48. Packers: Jason Spriggs-One of the better picks in the 2nd round (#12 overall) as it’s good value, I had him rated higher than the Texas A&M tackle with the last pick in the 2st round, and a great fit. Brian Bulaga has been injured non-stop the past two years and they have really struggled to handle edge rushers when he’s been out. He immediately becomes their swing tackle and might even start over Bulaga at right tackle as a rookie.

49. Seahawks: Jarran Reed-Some will say this is one of the steals of the draft as I heard chatter that he could go as high as #13. I will not be one of those saying this as I viewed Eli Apple and Jarran Reed as the two most overrated prospects in this draft and had a mid 6th round grade on Reed. He is a solid run defender, not even an elite one like his teammate A’Shawn Robinson, and does nothing else. I do not like this pick but of course Seattle has such a great defense that he can do nothing but stop the run and will be okay so it shouldn’t be too bad for them as he likely will play a lot as a rotation DT. Billings though in that defense would be scary.

50. Texans: Nick Martin-With Ben Jones and Brandon Brooks both leaving in free agency they needed an interior OL and Martin was decent value here (#35 available).  He has great bloodlines and should eventually be able to start for them at OG or C.

51. Jets: Christian Hackenberg-On one hand I like it as the Jets have two low level talents at QB in Geno Smith and Bryce Petty, neither of whom look like good short term or long term options at QB and Hackenberg at one time had a 1st round grade on my board. On the other hand Hackenberg has major accuracy issues and is a bit of a drama queen. I don’t know if he’s a great fit for the New York media or for big personalities like Brandon Marshall demanding the ball from him. I also don’t like Hackenberg over Cook as I think that will come back to haunt them.

52. Falcons: Deion Jones-#48 available

53. Redskins: Su’a Cravens-Another good pick by the Redskins (#23 available) as it is solid value and Cravens is just a tough football player that makes plays. He isn’t a stud athlete and has some tweener status to his game but put him somewhere, scheme around his weaknesses, and watch him make plays for you. Damn the Redskins are doing well.

54. Vikings: Mackensie Alexander-Here’s a hot sports opinion for you, Alexander will beat out Trae Waynes long term at CB. I love Alexander and think this is arguably the best pick in the draft (#1 available). He has some Darrelle Revis to his game and could really surprise people with how quickly he becomes a top flight starter.

55. Bengals: Tyler Boyd-This is 3 very good picks in a row. I like Boyd value wise (#11 available) and fit as he reminds me a bit of Marvin Jones with his multifaceted skill set as he’s a good route runner, has good size, has good speed and has good ball skills but isn’t elite in any one category. He’s a perfect #2 WR long term and everyone knows the #1 WR spot won’t be open in Cincinnati for a long time. Great value and great fit.

56. Bears: Cody Whitehair-4 straight good picks as Whitehair has good value here (#12 available) and was the #1 OG on most boards that I saw. A little surprised he went nearly 30 picks AFTER the 1st OG was taken so this is good value and fits well on a Bears team that has a mediocre OL despite having a perennial Pro Bowler in Kyle Long.

57. Colts: TJ Green-He wasn’t rated this high for me (#41 available) but many would argue this is a steal. He had an amazing Combine and just wowed everyone with his size/speed. I personally was confused by his tape as he is so fast but is not agile at all so I don’t see him being a good FS and thought his best fit was bulking him up to become a SS. The Colts are going the opposite way and moving him down to CB where he will be a press corner. I guess we both agree he isn’t a fit at FS but then chose very different paths in fixing that problem. It will be interesting to see how it works out.

58. Steelers: Sean Davis-And it was pick #58 where we had our first player not on my board. Not saying it’s a bad pick, as I didn’t go too deep research wise, but getting someone in the 2nd round not on my board isn’t a good sign. 4th round isn’t a red flag but 2nd round? Not great.

59. Bucs: Roberto Aguayo-Well interesting two straight picks not on my board but I didn’t grade kickers or punters this year so Aguayo isn’t the same as the Davis pick. In fact I know Aguayo as he’s been the best kicker in the country for the past 3 years straight! Just off the top of my head I know he didn’t miss a kick one year in his career. He has great accuracy and great leg strength so it makes sense for him to go this early. Also he gets to reunite with QB Jameis Winston which is a fun story if nothing else.

With the Cowboys 7 picks away here is my Top 15 available

  1. Kendall Fuller CB Virginia Tech
  2. Connor Cook QB Michigan St.         Top 20
  3. Shon Coleman OT Auburn
  4. Andrew Billings DT Baylor
  5. Jalen Mills S LSU
  6. Jonathan Bullard DT Florida            Early 2nd Round
  7. Hassan Ridgeway DT Texas
  8. Tyler Johnstone OG Oregon
  9. Adolphus Washington DT Ohio St.
  10. DJ White CB Georgia Tech
  11. Carl Nassib PR Penn St.
  12. Cody Kessler QB USC
  13. Eric Murray CB Minnesota
  14. Cyrus Jones CB Alabama                     Late 2nd Round
  15. Braxton Miller WR Ohio St.

60. Patriots: Cyrus Jones-Well he’s off my Top 15 for the Cowboys showing he was a good value pick (#14). I actually love the fit as he has good toughness and is very versatile which all screams New England. He likely will be a solid nickel CB and be in competition with Julian Edelman (who they don’t want returning punts anyway) as the team’s main punt returner. This is a good pick.

61. Saints: Von Bell-#18 available so he’s good value and I like him here. Initially he had 1st round chatter which I thought was ridiculous but as a late 2nd rounder he’s perfect here as he projects as a solid starter and getting solid, and cheap, starters in the 2nd and 3rd round is what the draft is all about.

62. Panthers: James Bradberry-Another guy not on my board. He played at Samford as a CB.

63. Broncos: Adam Gotsis-He isn’t great value here on my board (#81 available) but he intrigued me as this Australian born player is raw but has a great frame and is incredibly agile for his size. There was some very good tape with this kid but he’s coming off a knee injury and won’t contribute as a rookie, likely, so I downgraded him. Long term projects coming off knee injuries usually don’t go this high but he does have a lot of potential.

64. Titans: Kevin Byard-Another guy not on my board. He went to school at Middle Tennessee and is a SS.

Cowboys pre-pick discussion: Well all the elite defenders are gone except Kendall Fuller, my favorite-though I’m not surprised he’s still available here. Does that mean the Cowboys start adding depth by getting one of the very talented defensive tackles like Billings, Bullard, Ridgeway or Washington? Do they take Connor Cook since they clearly are in the QB market after trying to trade up for Lynch? I think DT is the pick.

65. Browns: Carl Nassib-I LOVE this pick. #11 available on my board as this kid is a one year wonder but he has elite size, strength and production-at least last year. He probably won’t be a big time pass rusher but his profile as a high motor type guy fits well in their scheme as a 3-4 DE.

66. Chargers: Max Tuerk-#24 available he fits well here as I had an early 3rd round grade on him and think he has the potential to become a Pro Bowler. He is a veteran with 4 years as a starter as he played all over the line. He also is a great athlete and is long armed, two requisites for the center position in my book. He was injured last year so this could look like a steal in a year or two if he pans out.

67. Cowboys: Maliek Collins-Well I picked the position but not the player, despite throwing up my top 4 DTs as options. Collins though isn’t a huge reach here (#25 available) as I had a mid 3rd round grade on him and considered him to be a guy with a high ceiling though with a lot of bust potential. Also I like his fit in Rod Marinelli’s scheme as they like their defensive tackles to shoot gaps and attack which works well for his skill set. Below is his profile:

Maliek Collins Nebraska 6’1 ⅞ 311 Jr. He had a great 40 (5.03) and really good quickness drills (4.52 shuttle, 7.53 3 cone). He only had 1 season with more than 30 tackles but did have 8 sacks in his 3 year career with his Sophomore year (45 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 10.5 TFL) being better than his Junior year. He’s a one gap penetrating type DT and has good arm length for that type (‘33 ⅛). He has a noticeable burst when attacking a QB and his highlight reel is pretty impressive. He clearly missed Randy Gregory in 2015 though and can be easily shut down if double teamed. He has a few plays where he just beats his man immediately off the snap but most of his sacks, pressures and TFL come from a bull rush where it takes him a decent amount of time to disengage from his blocker. Championship wrestler in high school going 48-0 his senior season. He isn’t that strong and needs to gather himself to take down a QB. His short area quickness and burst are elite as was his 2014 film making me wonder what happened in 2015 as his production was very mediocre. He probably played himself from a late 1st/early 2nd to a mid 3rd round grade because of it. Collins is a tough grade as there are flashes of Pro Bowl talent but he’s too inconsistent as a pass rusher production wise and as a run defender he is mediocre at best due to his average strength. Mid 3rd round as my #10 DT who has a high ceiling but is scheme specific (one gap only) and has a lot of bust potential in him 4/23/16.

68. 49ers: Will Redmond-#57 available

69. Jaguars: Yannick Ngakoue-#76 available who I had a mid 6th round grade on. Yannick is one of the bigger reaches in this draft and somewhat taints what, to this point, had been the best draft for any team. That being said, they could draft Miley Cyrus and I’d still have to credit them for taking two of the five highest rated players on my board.

70. Ravens: Bronson Kaufusi-He is a good value here, #19 available, and really intrigued me as this guy is just massive. There were times on film where his 6’6 290 frame chasing around smaller school guys just looked unfair. He will be a perfect fit as a 3-4 DE. Very good pick.

71. Giants: Darian Thompson-He was #53 available on my board as he didn’t seem to be athletic or agile enough to be a good safety unless he was put in the right scheme. That being said he had a lot of interceptions in his career so guys like this usually are either playmakers or busts. They don’t usually fall in between. Thankfully I see him being the latter so it looks like another poor pick by the G-Men.

72. Bears: Jonathan Bullard-Great pick (#6 available) and it is surprising how many really good DTs are still on the board at this point in the draft. Initially I had the late 2nd/early 3rd round as the place of best value at DT but now that spot appears to be shifting down to the entire 3rd round and probably early 4th. Bullard is one of the most athletic DL in the draft on a size/speed ratio. Some have him actually as a DE but I think his best fit is as a 1 gap DT where his elite quickness and burst can cause havoc. Great pick!

73. Dolphins: Kenyan Drake-He was the 69th available to me and isn’t a great value here. That being said Drake flashed high level potential quite a lot at Alabama so I guess they are saying he was caught in a numbers game and is more talented than his production showed. I disagree and stated as such in my profile of him, “Some people might still think of Drake as a late bloomer with starter potential but they are mistaken as he’s shown his true colors, he’s a tease and can’t be counted on for consistent production. Late 5th round as my #10 RB who is a good late round addition to a backfield due to his elite athleticism 4/28/16.” Drake will continue to tease but he won’t be consistent enough to warrant being taken in the 3rd round.

74. Chiefs: KeiVare Russell-He isn’t on my board but I actually like him and lost track of him during his career due to his injuries. At one time I had a 2nd round grade on him and him being taken in the 3rd round seems very logical to me. He is another medical concern guy and could be a steal if he ever gets back to 100%.

75. Raiders: Shilique Calhoun-He was the #37 available and isn’t a bad pick here. I always saw him as vastly overrated but that is because I heard a lot of 2nd round chatter on him. He isn’t a good pass rusher and I hate guys like him who have no burst but hey in the mid to late 3rd round it isn’t terrible at all as he can be just a #3 DE like he should be.

76. Browns: Shon Coleman-Another GREAT pick! He was the #3 available guy on my board who I had a 1st round grade on as he has the athleticism to be a starting LT. He’s raw and will likely be a RT as a rookie but I expect him to start in place of Joe Thomas at some point in the future. I’m noticing a trend of loving the Browns draft whether it is the trade downs or the actual picks, Corey Coleman was a solid pick but I preferred Treadwell or Doctson. I’m telling you, if Jimmy Haslam lets these guys work, the Browns will be a very talented team in 2018 with a core group of young players that can compete for years to come.

77. Panthers: Daryl Worley-CB out of West Virginia. He was not on my board.

78. Patriots: Joe Thuney-LB out of North Carolina State. He was not on my board.

79. Eagles: Isaac Seumalo-Three straight guys not on my board. Sigh. This wasn’t happening a few years ago.

80. Bills: Adolphus Washington-Well this is a great pick (#7 available) and is another of the 4 value DTs to go with Billings and Ridgeway still available. Add him with Shaq Lawson and the Bills have added some very good DL.

One side note though is the “Rex Ryan phenomenon.” Rex Ryan is not a smart, analytical guy. If you sign Ryan as your coach you are signing him for his personality as he’s funny, enthusiastic and has a great energy level to him. He’s been very successful in his career but he’s never won a championship and somehow he’s allowed to always blame the offense for this stain on his resume. Go back to the Jets draft the 6 years he was coach and you will see that he almost entirely took defense. Yes he took Mark Sanchez in the Top 5 in his first year but then he took Kyle Wilson (CB), Muhammad Wilkerson (DT), Quinton Coples (DE), Dee Milliner (CB), Sheldon Richardson (DT) and Calvin Pryor (SS) in the 1st round. That is 6 straight 1st rounders on defense and I’m not even mentioning the numerous second round and third rounders he took as well as the high premium he placed in free agency on defense. Now the Bills take defense three straight rounds and I see the same thing happening again. He will soon be bitching about the GM taking an offensive player, just like he did when they chose WR Stephen Hill (yes a bust but in that draft they chose a defensive player in the 1st, 3rd and 4th round and he STILL bitched about taking an offensive player in the 2nd?), and you will watch as the offense gets worse and worse with the Bills. Then he will be fired and, guess what? He will say “look at my defensive rankings. I was fired because we had a bad offense. Not my fault.” I’m surprised he gets such a free pass considering his career coaching record is 54-58. Back to the draft.

81. Falcons: Austin Hooper-He was the #26 available player so while I think the kid has a low ceiling and is kind of boring, I do think it’s a solid pick. That being said the Falcons keep trying to draft mid round guys like Hooper and Toilolo at the position despite the obvious fact that Ryan loves throwing to tight ends and he hasn’t been really dominant since Tony Gonzalez retired. I would look to move up for a stud TE in the next 1-2 years if I were GM of that team.

82. Colts: Le’Raven Clark-Another solid pick by the Colts as they obviously are making it a priority to protect Andrew Luck better after he had his first injury plagued season. Clark (#33 available) was a late 3rd round grade on my board so it fits and I see some potential for him to become a quality starting RT. The kid is long and has surprisingly quick feet for his body frame.

83. Jets: Jordan Jenkins-#35 available

84. Redskins: Kendall Fuller-Well I mentioned earlier how much I liked the Redskins draft and it only is compounded from here as Fuller was my #1 overall player available and was a 1st round grade on my board. I wasn’t surprised he dropped to the 3rd round due to the chatter about his injury but come on, the kid balled out in 2013 and 2014 and then tried to gut it out in 2015 and some people mentioned his poor tape last year? He was playing on an injury that would sideline 99% of players. Why not mention it as a positive as to how tough he is and how much he loves the game? He’s small and is quicker than fast but he fits perfectly as a slot corner and, guess what, he loves football and makes plays which is something that seems to be the MO of all of Scott McCloughlan’s picks have in common. Doctson, Cravens and now Fuller. That is three guys that live, breathe and sleep football. And that’s on top of the Josh Norman signing. Not good Cowboys fans, not good.

85. Texans: Braxton Miller-He was the #9 available on my board so he’s good value and he’s a good fit. I didn’t like the Will Fuller draft pick in the 1st round and think Miller has the potential to be the #2 receiver opposite DeAndre Hopkins, outperforming Fuller. It’s early though and Miller is raw so both could struggle as rookies. Miller’s upside is high due to his elite quickness and agility for his muscular frame. He is a unique physical specimen that I think will become a very good wideout once he “figures it out.” Great pick.

86. Dolphins: Leonte Caroo-#36 available

87. Bengals: Nick Vigil-LB Utah State. He did not make my board.

88. Packers: Kyler Fackrell-He was my #43 available but I bet some view this as a steal as a lot of people like Fackrell. He is a long framed linebacker that is a good at everything, great at nothing so I don’t know if the Packers will use him at ILB or OLB in their 3-4.

89. Steelers: Javon Hargrave-He was the #25 available and is a good pick here. He’s a small school DT from South Carolina State who moves too well for a guy his size. He fits perfectly as a 3-4 DE and I like this pick a lot. Good value, great fit.

90. Seahawks: CJ Prosise-Some might be surprised how few RBs have been taken to this point but I am not as I saw this as a 2 RB draft with just a bunch of specialists (Drake, Tyler Ervin) and backups (Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon). Prosise and Jonathan Williams in my opinion are the only two guys with starter potential so it makes sense he was taken here.

91. Patriots: Jacoby Brissett-I didn’t like him at Florida and didn’t bother scouting him at North Carolina State so he isn’t on my board despite me knowing a bit about him. I don’t like it by the way. If you couldn’t tell.

92. Cardinals: Brandon Williams-Another guy I know that wasn’t on my board. He’s a former RB from Texas A&M that moved to CB his last year in college as he had much higher upside. Obviously the coaches were right as there aren’t many 6’0 210 cornerbacks with 4.5 speed. He’s a talented project that could work out as he played surprisingly well as a 1st year corner.

93. Browns: Cody Kessler-Let me know if you’ve heard this before? I love this Cleveland Browns pick! Cody was #7 available and while I disagree with Kessler over Cook I really like Cody. He is smart, accurate and is arguably the best QB in this draft at reading a defense. He reminds me a bit of Chase Daniels and could be that high end backup, low end starter with an outside chance of being a mid level starter. Every time I watched Kessler I said, “Is he really not a potential 1st rounder?” Then I’d see his measurables or watch more film and calm myself. I highly suspect that Kessler will be a #1 or #2 QB 5 years from now. I highly suspect Brissett won’t be in the league and Hackenberg might not be either. Very interesting pick here.

94. Seahawks: Nick Vannett-He’s the #56 available. He projects as a career #2 or #3 TE who will be more of a blocker than a receiver. He does have good hands though and some think he is underrated as an athlete and potential receiving threat. I do not and is why I put him farther down the draft than late 3rd round.

95. Lions: Graham Glasgow-He’s the #57 available and was right next to Nick Vannett on my board which is odd as they were taken 1-2 on the “real” board. Glasgow didn’t look that great on film and I see this as a reach. To me he will be a bust.

96. Patriots: Vincent Valentine-I scouted Nebraska and didn’t notice this guy when scouting Maliek Collins, 3rd rounder from the Cowboys. I see this kid being another 2nd-3rd round bust which has become a Bill Belichick specialty and which he isn’t skewered for because he is so good as a coach and gets so many late round/free agent steals.

97. Seahawks: Rees Odhiambo-OG from Boise State that wasn’t on my board. The Seahawks really went after the lines in this draft, taking a RT, DT and OG. Unfortunately I thought the RT was a slight reach, the DT was a huge reach (though is a steal on some boards) and the OG is a complete unknown. As usual I disagree with the Seahawks draft and, considering they’ve been one of the worst drafting teams in the league since 2013, I will side with my analysis until the picks actually put on the pads and start playing.

98. Broncos: Justin Simmons-FS from Boston College. Not on my board and I didn’t scout him but I was intrigued by his highlight reel they showed as he does look like an NFL caliber athlete with potential as a centerfield type.

2016 NFL Draft Live Blog (1st Round)

Alright here we go. Make sure to refresh regularly.

The top of the draft will be quite boring as the first two picks are already known yet they still will likely take their entire alotted time before handing in the pick. While we wait I wanted to mention a few more items.

-The board is done and I was surprised how weak this RB class is. It easily could be viewed 3 years from now as 2 starters (Elliott and Henry) and then a bunch of backups and busts. What is interesting about that is certain teams (Dolphins, Cowboys, Browns) have been rumored to be seeking a RB in this draft. If you want one that you know can play as a rookie you likely need to move up to get one of these two guys so don’t be surprised if Elliott goes in the Top 5 and if Henry is taken in the late 1st round.

-Every year there are rumors that so and so is sliding. Well this year Myles Jack, Paxton Lynch, Robert Nkemdiche and Mackensie Alexander are all rumored to be sliding while Jack Conklin, Ryan Kelly, DeForest Buckner and Ronnie Stanley are all racing up draft boards. We will find out soon enough what is rumor and what is truth.

  1. Rams: Jared Goff-The Rams took the local kid from Cal who has a great arm, quick release and can really thread the needle. I’m a little surprised how few people initially loved Goff like I did (#3 Overall). More people slowly came around on him, often happens in this herd mentality league, but to me it wasn’t a hard evaluation. He’s a very talented player that just immediately pops out on film for me. Yes he has a thin build and small hands but Goff has a Jay Cutler type game, minus the lack of intangibles, and should be the starter in LA from Day 1. Also let’s keep in mind that Gurley had a thousand yard season despite missing 3 games and not being 100% so this offense will be run oriented and will allow the offensive coordinator to pick his spots in when Goff will be asked to throw the ball. That will be a luxury few rookie QBs have so it’s a good situation for Goff and a good pick by the Rams.
  2. Eagles: Carson Wentz-On one hand you have guys like Mayock who rate him as the best QB in the draft, Mayock even rates him as the best overall player in the draft. On the other hand he only started for 1 1/2 years, he didn’t play division 1 football and he didn’t have good accuracy on medium and deep throws. Wentz is a Blake Bortles type kid as you love the frame and athleticism and hope he has enough accuracy to be a good passer. We shall see how it all works out but if it is an abject failure then it couldn’t have happened to a better team. For the Eagles to trade so much to trade for a QB who then busts would be a huge benefit for the Cowboys and others in the NFC East.
  3. Chargers: Joey Bosa-And now the draft officially begins. With the Chargers taking Bosa they decided to skip the #1 OT to come out of college in years in Laremy Tunsil and the #1 DB to come out of college in years in Jalen Ramsey. It also sets up the Cowboys perfectly with Ramsey and Elliott all available at #4. I’m not a huge fan of Bosa this early but hey the kid has a great motor, elite hand fighting and is very good against the run. I made the argument that Bosa in the Top 5 is a solid double instead of going for a homerun but risking a strikeout. I still like that analogy because Bosa will be a 10 year starter at a valuable position but I’m exhaling right now knowing that Bosa won’t be a Cowboy.
  4. Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott (Pre-Pick) With the Cowboys on the clock at #4, four of my top 5 players are still available, which is odd, so the Cowboys have to be smiling. Tunsil, Ramsey and Elliott are my top 3 players available and it likely comes down to Ramsey vs. Elliott. Do you choose a Pro Bowl caliber RB and supercharge that running game or do you take a Pro Bowl caliber DB to join Byron Jones as another versatile CB/S combo player? I’d take Ramsey and not look back. (Pick) Elliott is the pick and while I’m a little disappointed in Ramsey not going here I do love the fit and think he becomes the favorite for rookie of the year. Also I had him as the #4 player on my board so it is hard to say he was a reach when he was taken at #4. Now with Tunsil and Ramsey still on the board you CAN make that “reach” argument but hey Elliott is a fun, sexy pick that will be very productive.
  5. Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey-Wow for the Jaguars you have to love that Ramsey fell to them. I don’t think anyone saw this occurring 3 weeks ago. With Dante Fowler coming back from injury and Malik Jackson signed this offseason, the Jaguars D could take another step and help their burgeoning offense now and then. This team looks playoff caliber.
  6. Ravens: Ronnie Stanley-Well I thought Ozzie Newsome would try and move up for Tunsil so for him to fall in Newsome’s lap is pretty ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is Ronnie Stanley being taken over Tunsil. I know Stanley has longer arms and is more squeaky clean but I think this will be something they regret for years to come. Tunsil is such a special player and just effortlessly handles edge rushers.
  7. 49ers: DeForest Buckner-He fits their scheme perfectly but I had Buckner as the #21 player on my board as I just don’t see Buckner being a double digit sack guy and that is what they need. Their defense hasn’t been elite ever since Aldon Smith got into trouble off the field and ruined his career. They need that stud rusher as otherwise their mediocre secondary gets exposed. Buckner isn’t that stud rusher so I’m not a huge fan of this pick.
  8. Browns: Trade with the Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin-What? I must be missing a failed drug test or something on Tunsil as I don’t understand how he’s not at least the 2nd OT taken. I like Conklin as a mid to late 1st rounder but he isn’t an elite talent and looks more like a very good RT than a potential All-Pro LT like Tunsil. This is the worst pick in the draft so far. I also am so confused at the move up. Were the Giants targeting him at #10?
  9. Bucs: Trade with Bears: Leonard Floyd-Wow this is the 4th trade in the Top 10 this year. How amazing is that! Floyd was the #27 player still available on my board so obviously I see this as a reach. He reminds me of Dion Jordan as this versatile linebacker without much pass rush production who everyone assumes will just “get it.” Well Jordan and Barkevious Mingo never got it and their lack of production in college in hindsight made them obvious busts. We shall see if Floyd can tap his immense potential or not.
  10. Giants: Eli Apple-(Pre Pick) Please do not take Laremy Tunsil. Ereck Flowers is a better fit as a RT than a LT so if Tunsil is taken they would have arguably the best duo of tackles in the league. (Pick) I love this pick because it is TERRIBLE and the Giants just blew a Top 10 pick! Apple was the #62 available player on my board and not even a top 5 CB so for him to go ahead of Hargreaves as the #1 CB is shocking. YES!!!
  11. Bucs: Vernon Hargreaves-Good pick. Hargreaves one pick after Apple will be a fun comparison and should embarrass the Giants for years. I’m confused why the Giants weren’t interested in him as his film is SO much better than Apple’s. Oh well, Giants loss. That being said this draft is already getting weird and lots of talent is falling. What team is brave and takes Tunsil or Jack. If the roll of the dice works you have an All-Pro.
  12. Saints: Sheldon Rankins (Pre-Pick) The more I think about it the more I think the Saints have to trade Drew Brees. He has dominated like normal the past two years and the Saints aren’t even in playoff contention due to their atrocious defense. If they trade Brees they’d get a decent haul and immediately would be one of the 3 worst teams in the league which is what they need to be for a year or two so they can upgrade their overall team talent. Hindsight being 20/20 but would the Rams have given a similar haul for Brees that they gave to move up for Goff? Their D is great and their running game is very good so I could see them make that trade so they go into the new LA market as an immediate playoff team and a contender for the title. Also would Brees take a paycut if he was trade to the Broncos? Brees has made +$140 mil in his career and might consider, having just seen Peyton pick up a ring late in his career despite an atrocious year statistically. Just a few thoughts. (Pick) I like Rankins but this is a bit high in my opinion. The Saints are terrible all over their defense so why not trade back and use the depth at DT in this draft to add a valuable pick in the 3rd round and still get a 1st round caliber DT 10 picks later. Rankins will be a good starter from Day 1 and the Saints will still be a terrible defense. Nothing changes short term with this pick.
  13. Dolphins: Laremy Tunsil-This is the best pick in the draft. I know teams are scared about the pot video but come on lots of players smoke weed in the NFL and the fact that he hasn’t failed any drug tests at Ole Miss or at the Combine show me that he smokes weed but he doesn’t have to do it all the time, Randy Gregory being the opposite case. Also this could motivate Tunsil. The two trades were expected to cost him millions and now this video has cost him even more. Tunsil has been a blue chip player since high school and is effortless in pass protection. Imagine what happens when he becomes even more motivated to dominate. I think the Dolphins just made Ryan Tannehill a better QB and Jay Ajai a better RB.
  14. Raiders: Karl Joseph-Wow. That is interesting. I love Joseph but had him as a prime target for the Cowboys at the top of the 2nd round. As a mid 1st guy he’s a bit of a reach. That being said the kid has great character, his teammates love him, he’s one of the biggest hitters in the draft and he has good agility in coverage. He is a complete safety and each year I’m surprised at how quickly the safeties go. It is probably time I stop being surprised as “surprise” 1st rounders like Deone Bucanon, Damarious Randall, etc. just shows me that there aren’t enough good safeties to fill rosters. Also the Raiders are taking the right guys now. Mack, Carr, Joseph, Cooper. These are football lifers who you don’t have to motivate. The Raiders have been such a disfunctional locker room for so long that I like their strategy of placing a big emphasis on work ethic and character. A bit of a reach but Joseph won’t be a bust, he just probably would have been there at #20 if they had traded down.
  15. Browns: Corey Coleman-He was the #3 WR on my board so to go #1 at the position is surprising. That being said he has a little Odell Beckham to him as he’s explosive and quick. He has the highest upside of the three wide receivers but also is the rawest, shortest and has the highest bust potential. It’s a roll of the dice but it makes some sense. If I were the Browns I would have taken Doctson or Treadwell, probably Doctson due to Treadwell having his own red flags.
  16. Lions: Taylor Decker-Remove injury red flag Myles Jack from my board and Decker was the #1 player available so I love this pick both in value and in fit. He’s more of a RT than a LT but reminds me of Taylor Lewan in that he has just enough athleticism to be able to handle LT if necessary. With Reiff already there he gets to go to his better fit at RT where he should be a ten year pro. One of the 3-4 best picks in the draft at this point.
  17. Falcons: Keanu Neal-Eli Apple is the worst pick in the 1st round and Neal is probably the 2nd. I had him as the 85th best available player and a 4th round grade but am not surprised by this “reach” as I will be saying the same thing when the Alabama defensive tackles go as well. I just didn’t like Neal’s film and thought he was nothing but a big hitter. In today’s NFL you need cover guys on your back end and he can’t cover anyone. Kam Chancellor can’t either and that is their new head coach (former Seattle DC) but Seattle’s D is run by Thomas, Sherman, Bennett, Wagner and then Chancellor in that order. Since Atlanta doesn’t have Pro Bowl caliber guys at those other spots adding a guy like Neal won’t work as well. This to me is a huge bust.
  18. Colts: Ryan Kelly-I like Kelly but had him in the 2nd round not the 1st. That being said no one graded out better in 2015 (0 sacks last year) and analytics is becoming a big deal on OL prospects, a reason I think Conklin moved up so much late in the process. Also Kelly is the only immediate starter in this center class and it is hard to fault a GM for trying to protect a franchise QB so this pick makes a lot of sense.
  19. Bills: Shaq Lawson-I like this pick, #6 available, as he has a high upside and could have gone in the 7-12 range with me having no problem with the pick. Some had Lawson higher than Bosa due to his better athleticism but obviously most did not agree with that sentiment. I didn’t either as Lawson was a 1 year starter and has some bust potential, as do all Clemson DL. That being said it’s a good pick, good value and good fit.
  20. Jets: Darron Lee-Well I knew someone would roll the dice on this kid’s greatness. I don’t love him as he’s a soft linebacker and I hate those types but he isn’t a reach here and some see him as a future star linebacker. Also the fit makes sense as coach Bowles loves to blitz his linebackers and safeties (think Bucannon, Mathieu, Dansby for the Cardinals under Bowles) and Lee’s best attribute is his speed. He ran a 4.4 40, faster than most running backs and wide receivers and will excel as a blitzer. I don’t love Lee but if I was to take him I’d want Bowles as his coach.
  21. Redskins: Trade to the Texans: Will Fuller -Will Fuller over Doctson? I question this. I know the Texans wanted speed to complement DeAndre Hopkins but watch the Clemson game where Mackensie Alexander shut him down and I question how a team would take Fuller ahead of Alexander. It isn’t a reach though here as he was the #12 guy on my board and this 1st round has had much worse reaches than this so I don’t even classify it as such, just a little surprising with Alexander still available despite thoroughly embarrassing him.
  22. Redskins: Josh Doctson– (Pre-Pick) The Cowboys just added a Pro Bowl caliber RB to the best OL in the league and the Giants and Eagles made what I consider questionable moves, right Joe? Let’s see if the Redskins make it 0-3 and screw up their pick. (Pick) I love this pick which SUCKS! Doctson was very very close to being my #1 WR as he has a lot of DeAndre Hopkins to his game with his great leaping ability and ability to highpoint the ball. He will be a very good fantasy WR as he will have some 10 TD seasons. He was the #4 player available on my board. Good value, great fit as he’s the big WR with DeSean Jackson being the smaller, speed guy.
  23. Vikings: Laquon Treadwell-He was the #3 player available so this is great value at #23 as at one time he looked like a future Top 5 or Top 10 pick. He isn’t fast so he fell a bit but his hands, strength and size are really top notch and he could really dominate smaller cornerbacks. He’s a poor man’s Dez Bryant so I like this pick, definitely more than Texans taking Fuller. This ends the run on receivers, the cornerback run probably comes next.
  24. Bengals: William Jackson III-Well the CB run has just begun, like I predicted. I really like Jackson as he’s tall and has great ball skills. If he was a little quicker and faster I would have made the Marcus Peters comparison but he just worries me a bit due to his lack of quick twitch. The Bengals love taking cornerbacks in the 1st round (Dennard, Kirkpatrick, Johnathan Joseph, etc.). It’s a smart trend as you can never have enough cornerbacks in this pass happy league so I agree with their strategy.
  25. Steelers: Artie Burns-I kind of want to go back and scout Burns as I had a late 3rd/early 4th grade on him so I didn’t have him this high but a lot of others did so maybe I missed something on him. He is tall and has the profile of a good press corner but to me he’s Mike Rumph as he’s very tight and I just didn’t love his tape. We shall see how Burns works out but at the very least you have to wonder why Mackensie is dropping since he had the highest upside of any CB in this draft in my opinion and is still on the board with 4 CBs taken.
  26. Broncos: Paxton Lynch-Well I made the comparison to Brock Osweiler so I’m surprised I didn’t ever make the connection, mainly because I saw the Broncos taking a QB more in the middle rounds. I think it makes some sense but of course I’m a Connor Cook guy so this isn’t my cup of tea. Lynch is raw with a strong arm, great build and has accuracy. I just didn’t see him reading defenses or threading the needle so I don’t see him starting as a rookie. It makes some sense though as Sanchez obviously isn’t the long term solution nor is Colin Kaepernick, Brian Hoyer or Ryan Fitzpatrick in my opinion.
  27. Packers: Kenny Clark-Wow this isn’t a horrible pick, a reach yes but not as bad as Apple, Neal or Burns per my board, but wow I’m surprised as Clark is a blue collar boring guy so to take him at #27 reminds me of Ziggy Hood in the late 1st round by the Steelers. Clark is a rotational, solid starter type. I don’t agree with this valuation by Ted Thompson.
  28. Chiefs: Joshua Garnett-Wow maybe this is the worst pick of the 1st Round and they moved up for him? He was the 82nd best player available and had a 4th round grade so there are so many reasons why I hate this maneuver. I didn’t see one draft site saying Garnett was the #1 OG in the class. I didn’t hear any 1st round chatter about him. I don’t see hm being a guy that wouldn’t have been there early in the 2nd round. This just doesn’t make sense. The 49ers have been a great drafting team the past few years but Buckner and Garnett on my board is 0-2 with Garnett being almost a negative 1 it’s so bad.
  29. Cardinals: Robert Nkemdiche-I love this pick, #5 available on my board, as it’s great value and he fits well in that locker room. I could see a Peterson and/or Mathieu mentoring him and giving him a talk about this being a huge opportunity for him and to make the most of it. I also think it is the time in the draft where you start rolling the dice on the high risk/high reward guys like Nkemdiche, Myles Jack and maybe even Jaylon Smith if the knee checks out long term and you’re only worried about losing him for 2016 and not beyond.
  30. Panthers: Vernon Butler-He was #27 available with a late 2nd round grade on my board so it’s a reach to me but the DT class was differently ranked on everyone’s board so it isn’t that big of a surprise. What is more of a surprise is that they went DT instead of DE or CB as DT and LB are the two biggest strengths of their team. It makes me wonder if they are already admitting that Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei BOTH won’t be re-signed. Maybe they looked at how difficult life has been for the Jets with Muhammad Wilkerson’s contract negotiations and are going to sign one, trade the other or just lose the other for a 3rd round compensatory pick and plug in Butler as if nothing bad even happened. It’s an interesting long view look at running a franchise but considering they just let their best DB go for nothing it shows again that the Panthers won’t be held hostage by a player no matter how talented they are.
  31. Seahawks: Germain Ifedi-I love the fit as the Seahawks have a terrible OL. I also think this could work out as Ifedi has a lot of talent and at one time had a 1st round grade on many boards but he dropped to an early 3rd round grade as he never developed from his earlier years and it seems like a bit of a reach. I don’t mind reaches as much when they fit a need so well and this one definitely does so it’s a solid pick for a franchise that really could use some good drafting as there past 3 drafts have been pretty atrocious.

Final Thoughts: I think the Jaguars (Ramsey), Rams (Goff), Cowboys (Elliott), Redskins (Doctson) and Dolphins (Tunsil) all made very good selections that should make their teams noticeably better in 2016. I think the Colts (Ryan Kelly), Cardinals (Nkemdiche), Bills (Lawson) and Vikings (Treadwell) all made selections that are good fits for what they are trying to accomplish and likely will work out well for those franchises, though on a lower expectation level than that first group of teams I mentioned. Finally I think that the 49ers (Buckner, Garrett), Giants (Apple), , Bears (Floyd), Falcons (Neal) and Steelers (Burns) all made very questionable moves that could be disastrous. I think we will look back at this draft and wonder why Myles Jack, Noah Spence, Mackensie Alexander and Emmanuel Ogbah weren’t 1st rounders. These four guys have high grades on my board and were in the 1st round mix. The other guy with a high grade on my board that is still available is Kendall Fuller but I was already prepared to have him still available long after he should be as most don’t value him like I do. The Cowboys are on the clock 2 selections from now so most likely all or all but one of those four guys will be available and three of them (Spence/Ogbah at DE, Alexander at CB) fill a need. The Cowboys draft was good with Elliott at #4 and it could become great if they grab one of those guys at #34. My final thought: Tyron Smith is 25 years old, Travis Frederick is 25, La’el Collins is 22 and Zack Martin is 25. Elliott is a baby at 20 years old and will be just entering his prime when this OL is in the middle of theirs. I preferred Dallas took Jalen Ramsey as I viewed him as a better pure talent but Dallas just paired one of the better RB prospects to come out of college in awhile with the best offensive line in the NFL AND we should expect them to play together for the next 5-7 years. Tony Romo is 36 years old and is injury prone. There are worse things than hitching your wagon to the league’s best rushing attack so that you can more comfortably maneuver around the eventual decline of your franchise QB. John Elway won his only Super Bowls late in his career when he relied on a dominant running game. Maybe Tony Romo will get to ride off in the sunset too as a Super Bowl winner who played second fiddle to an All-Pro running back that dominated the competition.