The second and third rounds of the 2020 NFL draft are all about big college stars who put up even bigger numbers:
- Running backs Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin) and J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State) each rushed for more than 2,000 yards and scored 21 rushing touchdowns last year. Neither of them got drafted in Round 1. And now that the first round is over, even the Running Backs Don't Matter crowd won't sneer when they do get selected.
- USC's Michael Pittman Jr. (101 receptions) and Clemson's Tee Higgins (13 touchdowns, 19.8 yards per catch) headline a receiver group that is still chock full of potential NFL playmakers.
- A.J. Epenesa of Iowa (22 sacks between 2018 and 2019) was overlooked in the first round, due in part to some unimpressive combine numbers. Some team will soon be selecting a rugged, hard-nosed all-around defender.
- Few collegiate stars have ever burned brighter than Jalen Hurts, who led Alabama to a national championship (with a ninth-inning save by Tua Tagovailoa, of course) and then took Oklahama to the College Football Playoff with 3,851 passing yards, 1,298 rushing yards and 53 total touchdowns last year.
These are Bleacher Report's pick-by-pick grades for the second and third rounds of the draft.
33. Cincinnati Bengals
Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Time for another Elite Receiver Report Card, your guide to determining what the big-name wide receivers in the 2020 draft class do best.
Speed and Quickness: B. Higgins is a size-speed specimen who catches some defenders in off coverage by surprise by hitting an extra gear off the snap. He isn't shifty, though.
Routes and Releases: A-. Higgins possesses an inside release which, with his size, creates a positioning advantage for slants and in-breaking routes. He's very good at snapping off short outs and quick slants. He varies speeds in the open field and can pinwheel safeties with crafty double-moves. But separation was an issue in college against elite cornerbacks such as Jeff Okudah.
Hands: A+/B-.Higgins has an exceptional catch radius and ability to bring down contested and deflected balls. He once went horizontal to keep one toe in on a sideline grab vs. Virginia. As with many collegiate receivers, he suffers from focus drops.
YAC Potential: B. He's a big, fast dude who will house it if he turns upfield. But Higgins can be corralled on screens.
Blocking and such: C. He's a "catch the defender" blocker.
The current Bengals receiving corps of A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross III looks good on paper, but Green has played only nine games in the last two seasons, and Ross has battled injuries and inconsistency for his entire career. Joe Burrow needs some reliable weapons to call his own.
Higgins projects as a possession receiver and a mismatch target at the NFL level. Sammy Watkins was a better prospect leaving Clemson, but Higgins may be a similar pro: dangerous when facing soft coverage and/or a second-tier cornerback, but ordinary if asked to be the first option in a passing game. If Green can still provide some juice and Boyd remains a steady producer, Higgins should be fine.
34. Indianapolis Colts
Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
It’s a second-round receiver run! Which means it's also time for another Elite Receiver Report Card, your guide to determining what the big-name wide receivers in the 2020 draft class do best.
Speed and quickness: C+. Pittman times well and meets NFL minimums, but he has gather-up speed off the line and is a little stiff and methodical when changing direction.
Routes and releases: B. Pittman is a fine route technician but loses velocity in and out of his cuts. His size and burly frame allow him to present a big target and shield defenders on comebacks and crossing routes.
Hands: A-. Pittman is reliable on easy catches and can make fingertip over-the-shoulder grabs. He isn't quite as competitive on 50-50 balls as a receiver with his traits should be.
YAC Potential: C. He's your basic big body who can be tough to bring down with a head of steam.
Blocking: B+.Pittman is huge, and he demonstrates some feistiness when run-blocking. He also contributed on special teams.
No Colts receiver caught more than 45 passes last season. T.Y. Hilton is now 30 and is coming off an injury-marred season. The rest of the Colts receiver depth chart consists of Zach Pascal (would be a fine No. 4 receiver), Parris Campbell (promising slot guy), Daurice Fountain (former draftnik favorite) and Marcus Johnson (perennial Eagles OTA MVP). Philip Rivers could definitely use some better weapons.
Pittman is the son of the former Buccaneers all-purpose running back. He came into his own with 101 catches in his senior year after not quite reaching expectations early in his college career. Pittman projects as a non-flashy possession receiver. His father stayed in the NFL for a decade by doing all the little things well. Pittman can also have a long career if he continues to refine his route running and reliability. Like the Bengals' selection of Tee Higgins a few minutes ago, this is a safe, solid pick that will help get the Colts going in the right direction.
35. Detroit Lions
D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
Strengths: Cutback ability, vision, power
Weaknesses: Running backs don't matter
Georgia guard Solomon Kindley spoke at the combine about all of the great running backs he has blocked for, including Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. So, what did he have to say about Swift?
"Blocking for D'Andre Smith was very exciting because as he gets past me, I know it's gonna be a show," Kindley said. "I'm ready for him to get past me to see what he's gonna do."
Swift is a prototypical NFL running back. He's a tough downhill runner with devastating one-cut ability, the power to finish runs and the receiving chops to be useful on passing downs. Having shared touches with the likes of Chubb and Elijah Holyfield, he also isn't as worn down as other collegiate workhorses.
Swift has Todd Gurley-esque potential. That makes him an incredible value in the second round. The Lions will get his best years at a relatively low salary and worry about wear and tear (or let his next employer worry about it) later. And the Lions have a need at running back after last season's injury rash. With that said, the Lions have needs at much harder-to-fill positions like edge-rusher, making this a questionable selection.
36. New York Giants
Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Strengths: Play diagnosis, preparation, versatility
Weaknesses: Dive-stick tackling
Another draft, another Alabama safety.
Each Alabama safety, from Eddie Jackson to Landon Collins to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to Minkah Fitzpatrick to Mark Barron to McKinney, is unique in his own way. Barron was a linebacker hybrid, Fitzpatrick a cornerback hybrid, Collins a traditional box safety and so forth. Yet each is fundamentally the same: They all have tremendous instincts and anticipation skills thanks to their Nick Saban tutelage, they all play fast (even if their 40 times don't reflect it), and they all have at least some usefulness at all three levels, from pass-rusher to underneath defender to center fielder.
McKinney thrives as a deep safety, where he diagnoses pass routes swiftly and gets a great break on the ball in the air. He's also a lethal situational blitzer. His biggest weakness is one he shares with Clinton-Dix: a tendency to come in too hot and whiff on open-field tackles. He also may not be the best matchup defender against speedsters hiding in the slot.
As the list above illustrates, Alabama safeties usually have productive careers as NFL starters. McKinney should be no exception.
The Giants ranked 31st in the NFL at defending deep passes, according to Football Outsiders. Antoine Bethea (now a free agent) looked like he was running in quicksand, rookie Deandre Baker simply wasn’t ready to play, and it may turn out that Jabrill Peppers’ true position really is "athlete." Newcomer James Bradberry, a year of experience for Baker and a nice retirement party for Bethea should help. But so should reinforcements like McKinney in the secondary. This is a safe selection of a player who slid a little bit.
37. New England Patriots
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir Rhyne
Strengths: Athleticism, upside
Weaknesses: Tackling, level-of-competition issues
Entering Thursday night, here were the unofficial odds on how the Patriots would approach this year’s draft:
- Select a quarterback to replace Tom Brady, probably by trading up, and heralding a bold new era in Patriots football: 20-to-1 odds.
- Select an assortment of long snappers and lacrosse players while trading all over the draft board, causing our brains to hemorrhage as we try to discern Bill Belichick’s master plan: 2-to-1 odds.
- Say "Tom who??" and go about their business as if nothing unusual at all happened to them in the offseason: 4-to-5 odds.
- Have an actual dog sitting at Bill Belichick’s desk instead of Bill Belichick: 40-to-1 odds.
Hmm, it seems that the Patriots did a little bit of the first three. Someone who played the odds just right could really rack up.
This cut-up of Dugger of a road game at Mars Hill University (somewhere in North Carolina) gives a sense of the level of competition he faced in college. This is the Division II, trees-along-the-sideline, random-dudes-chatting-behind-the-end-zone level.
Dugger looks like a video game Create-a-Player, and he's a guided missile when a play develops in front of him, arriving suddenly to break up screens or meet running backs in the hole. But he is exceptionally raw. He overruns plays in the open field; lunges, dives and misses tackles; and his coverage technique consists mostly of being the best athlete on the field and knowing quarterbacks won't challenge him.
Dugger is a great athlete and a great story, but he sets off my Obi Melifonwu alarm. The UConn defensive back ran a 4.40-second 40 at 6'4" and 224 pounds at the 2017 combine, and the Raiders drafted him in the second round despite his poor instincts and fundamentals. The NFL is not a developmental league, and players with this profile are rarely given two years to ramp up and refine their games.
I hope Dugger succeeds, but don't be surprised if he finds himself on the weekly inactive list once the season starts. And while the Patriots usually get graded on a genius curve, we're going to withhold judgment now that they have entered a bold new era.
38. Carolina Panthers
Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State
Strengths: Size, agility, hands
Matt Hayes profiled Gross-Matos for Bleacher Report last November, telling the tragic story of his childhood. Gross-Matos' biological father died while saving him in a boating accident when he was a toddler, and his older brother died from a lightning strike just steps away from him on a youth baseball field when he was 11 years old. It's a powerful and ultimately uplifting tale of a blended family coming together to support one another and overcome adversity. We can't have too many stories like that these days.
Gross-Matos is a fluid, agile athlete who defeats blocks by out-positioning his opponent and using his arms to swat the blocker's hands away. He can win the leverage battle in run defense and is good at recognizing misdirection plays and finding the ball. He isn't twitchy nor a true pass-rushing technician, and he will look like just another guy for long stretches, but he has the tools to be a dominant every-down defender. Gross-Matos and Derrick Brown will form the core of an all-new defensive front for Matt Rhule’s Panthers.
39. Miami Dolphins
Robert Hunt, OT, Louisiana-Lafayette
Strengths: Size, movement skills
As mentioned when they drafted Austin Jackson in the first round, the Dolphins allowed 58 sacks last season, tied for the league lead. In addition to drafting Jackson, they signed center Ted Karras (because former Bill Belichick assistants believe that free agency comes with a two-ex-Patriots-per-year minimum) and Ereck Flowers (because LOLOLOLOLOLOL).
OK, to be fair, Flowers played fairly well for Washington last year after doing more to hasten Eli Manning's retirement than the ravages of age themselves could do. Yep, he played so well that a 3-13 team chose not to re-sign him. Anyhow, this selection continues the offensive line rebuild. It should keep on continuing.
Hunt began his career at guard but ended it as the starting right tackle for the Ragin' Cajuns. He's a massive 323-pounder with quick feet in pass protection and surprising lateral quickness. He's effective when pulling or blocking on sweeps. Hunt is a lunger who can get caught off-balance by edge-rushers and has other technical flaws, but his raw tools are on par with some of the better-known offensive tackles in this draft class. This pick is a bit of a reach, despite the upside.
40. Houston Texans
Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
Strengths: Hands, lateral quickness
Weaknesses: Injury history, sack production, leverage
Bill O'Brien is the type of guy who gets mad and rage-quits when losing to himself in Solitaire. He's the type who throws a fit five minutes into fixing a flat and throws his lug wrench into a lake. We've roasted O'Brien for the DeAndre Hopkins trade until his meat thermometer melted, and the jokes are already a little tired, but the fact remains that he clearly lacks both the long-range planning ability and the temperament to be a general manager.
And yet, the Texans were one-and-three-quarter games away from the Super Bowl last year. O'Brien gets results despite himself. And if he can stumble into some difference-makers with the few draft picks he has left, he could turn the Texans into even stronger contenders.
With Blacklock, O'Brien just stumbled into a difference-maker.
Blacklock's father, Jimmy Blacklock, was one of the first African American basketball players at the University of Texas in the early '70s. He then went on to play for (and now coach) the Harlem Globetrotters. Blacklock said at the combine that he saw about 10 or 15 Globetrotters games when he was growing up but that he gravitated toward football because basketball was "too soft."
Errr, do you get the impression that Blacklock thought basketball was "too soft" because he was watching guys spin the ball on their fingers, pull each other's shorts down and throw buckets of confetti at the referees?
Blackrock has pass-rushing moves he called "club rip" and "chop rip" at the combine, which are as effective as any I have seen from a defensive line prospect since Chandler Jones. He uses them to easily disengage from blockers and gain position on them. He also excels at moving laterally at the snap and crossing his blocker's face, again putting him in position to disrupt the play and making him very useful on stunts and twists. When facing a double-team, he effectively submarines his blockers to penetrate the backfield and blow up plays.
All of these moves resulted in only 5.5 career sacks, in part because an Achilles injury erased Blacklock's 2018 season, but also because he plays a little high and is much easier to block if his initial move is countered. He often arrives at the quarterback a step late, sometimes delivering a big blow (and incurring a big penalty) anyway.
Production aside, he has a unique set of skills that any defensive coach would love to work with. Yes, even Bill O'Brien and his staff.
41. Indianapolis Colts
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Strengths: Power, yards-after-contact
Weaknesses: Hands, ball security
Taylor is a bruising power runner who took the South Jersey-to-Wisconsin running back shuttle (Ron Dayne, Anthony Davis, Corey Clement) and rushed for nearly 6,200 yards with the Badgers. His workload makes it tempting to compare him to Dayne, the 1999 Heisman winner and all-time Badgers leading rusher who also hailed from the 8-5-6.
Dayne enjoyed some brief success in a thunder-and-lightning Giants backfield with Tiki Barber but faded quickly in the NFL. He offered nothing in the passing game and was worn down by 1,251 collegiate touches.
Taylor is both quicker and faster (he paced all running backs at the combine with a 4.39-second 40) than Dayne ever was, has lower mileage and has more potential receiving value. Still, the two backs are similar enough to make Colts fans nervous. Every time Taylor dragged two or three Big Ten defenders for a few extra yards, he incurred wear and tear that could shorten his NFL career. Taylor also lost 15 fumbles while clawing for those extra yards, and he dropped enough passes to make offensive coordinators wary of using him as a third-down back.
The upside for Taylor may be Michael Turner, the size-speed battering ram who had a few mammoth seasons for the Falcons in the late 2000s before his odometer flipped. The downside is Dayne and dozens of other Big Ten plowhorses who turned into ordinary-at-best NFL rushers.
Philip Rivers, Taylor, Marlon Mack, Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell and whatever is left of T.Y. Hilton are going to make for one interesting offense. It will be fun watching Frank Reich put all of these pieces together.
42. Jacksonville Jaguars
Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
Time for another Elite Receiver Report Card, your guide to determining what the big-name wide receivers in the 2020 draft class do best.
Speed and Quickness: B. Shenault has the gather-up speed to eat cushions and glide past defenders. He timed poorly at the combine (4.58-second 40), but he looks faster on tape.
Routes and Releases: B. Shenault works comeback routes and short stuff very well. He also shows some variety in his stem. He's a well-built dude who creates a little space for short receptions with his body, but he isn't creative when releasing off the line.
Hands: C+. He gobbles up short passes, but he doesn't do a great job tracking and competing for deep passes. Shenault may end up getting rerouted on his NFL deep routes and then looking for a flag that's never thrown.
YAC Potential: A. He's a determined runner who can break tackles and drag defenders. The Buffaloes even used him as a short-yardage Wildcat runner. Shenault also returns kickoffs, but he had a long return vs. Nebraska ruined when he got caught from behind and stripped.
Blocking and such: D+. Shenault watches catches from teammates instead of looking for someone to block, and he sometimes whiffs on blocks he needs to make.
Shenault is either the next Deebo Samuel, who will perplex opponents with his reverses and open-field rumbles after short receptions, or a toolsy enigma like Cordarelle Patterson who's destined to end up bouncing around the league as a return man and trick-play specialist. The closer you study Shenault, the harder it becomes to gauge his pro potential because there are so many concerns mixed among the traits. That somehow makes him perfect for the Jaguars.
He duplicates many of the skills incumbent ball-in-space receiver Dede Westbrook provides. Shenault is almost certainly an upgrade over Westbrook. How big of an upgrade, and how well Gardner Minshew II and Doug Marrone will be able to use him, are both still to be determined.
43. Chicago Bears
Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
Strengths: Size, athleticism, YAC ability
Weaknesses: Quickness off the line, blocking consistency
The Bears drafted Adam Shaheen in 2017 and signed Trey Burton in 2018 in an effort to build an offense in which two tight ends slid all over the formation in search of mismatches. They combined for 23 receptions while battling injuries last year. Burton is now gone, and Shaheen was the subject of predraft trade rumors.
This offseason, the Bears signed Jimmy Graham to play his usual mildly disappointing glorified slot receiver role, but a second mismatch-worthy tight end would do wonders for Matt Nagy's offense. Then again, so would a capable quarterback or a competent general manager, but we digress.
Kmet's father, Frank Kmet, was a defensive lineman for Purdue in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His uncle, Jeff Zgonina, played defensive tackle in the NFL for roughly 6,000 years (17, actually) and may best be known as a member of the turn-of-the-millenium Super Bowl Rams teams. Kmet was both a tight end and a relief pitcher for the Fighting Irish baseball team, with 10 saves and 66 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched (that's probably awesome; we don't know much about college baseball statistics) in two seasons.
Kmet is a big, well-built tight end with soft hands, enough speed to stress the seam, a truck-with-the-brakes-cut running style after the catch and the willingness to deliver a blow when blocking. He's technically raw and a little lumbering off the snap, which can result in bad positioning on blocks and a slow release into his route, neutralizing some of his other traits.
Notre Dame is a tight end factory, but Kmet doesn't project as a Kyle Rudolph/Tyler Eifert-level prospect. He may be more of a sturdy underneath target who grows into his role as a blocker but maxes out as the fourth or fifth option in the passing game.
In short, the Bears remain obsessed with upgrading at tight end while quietly deteriorating at several other positions.
44. Cleveland Browns
Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Strengths: Play diagnosis, aggressiveness
Weaknesses: Tackling, durability
"I get a lot of hate and slander from the media and the experts," Delpit said at the combine. "They say tackling is definitely the thing I have to improve on from last year."
Sorry, dude. We aren't hating or slandering. It's just one word in the "weaknesses" category. We'll say (We said) the same thing about Xavier McKinney! Blame those draft hipsters who try to sound extra cool and insider-y on Twitter. Yuck, Grant Delpit tackles like he's trying to catch a squirrel with a butterfly net. Give me the guy from Northern South Dakota A&T instead!
Delpit played through an ankle injury in 2019. As he pointed out at the combine, the injury did impact his tackling, though there were also some typical technical issues (trying to make the highlight reel instead of breaking down properly) that he cleaned up throughout the season. The injuries are more of a concern than the tackling: He rarely misses time but is always dealing with shoulder or ankle injuries, and he broke his collarbone during the 2018 spring game.
Delpit has tremendous instincts, runs well enough to handle man coverage in the slot and will stick his nose in the pile as a run defender. A fully healthy Delpit could become a Pro Bowl safety. We just haven't seen much of that fully healthy guy yet.
The Browns defense missed a league-high 140 tackles last season, according to Pro Football Reference. Some of the offenders (Joe Schobert, Jermaine Whitehead) are no longer in the team's plans. Others (Mack Wilson) should become better tacklers with experience.
The same can probably be said of Delpit. The Browns had better hope so.
45. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
Strengths: Athleticism, knowledge of the game
TOMPA BAY BRADYFICATION PROJECT PHASE II: Build a Patriots-like secondary.
The Buccaneers had a strong pass defense last year, thanks in large part to Shaquil Barrett and an outstanding defensive line. But they intercepted only 12 passes, finished 29th in the NFL in defense on deep passes, according to Football Outsiders, and fielded one of the most anonymous secondaries in the NFL. Tom Brady's offense must be supported by a great defense, not because age has turned him into a mere game manager (sacrilege!), but simply because the Buccaneers are all-in to win this year.
So, they drafted Antoine Winfield Jr…wait, wasn't Antoine Winfield Sr. still playing for the Vikings last year? I could have sworn I saw him filling in while the fire marshals were hosing Xavier Rhodes down. [Checks rosters] Nope, looks like the elder Winfield retired in 2012. But you probably remember him: a mighty-mite Cover 2 cornerback who played forever for the Vikings and Bills and was known for jumping underneath routes and lighting up running backs 30 pounds heavier than him.
Winfield Jr. is about as diminutive as his father: He was 5'9" and 203 pounds at the combine, where he also ran a 4.45-second 40. He's also a film junkie who looks at times like he's reading the quarterback's mind. On the downside, he shares his father's aggressiveness as a tackler but doesn't wrap consistently (a real problem when you are always hitting guys bigger than you), and he has a history of foot and hamstring injuries.
Winfield fits best as a matchup defender against quick slot receivers and Alvin Kamara/Christian McCaffrey types. If he stays healthy, his speed, film-room chops and aggressiveness will keep him in the NFL for a long time.
The Buccaneers are absolutely crushing this draft, along with their Bradyfication.
46. Denver Broncos
K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State
Time for another Elite Receiver Report Card, your guide to determining what the big-name wide receivers in the 2020 draft class do best.
Speed and quickness: A. Hamler is 5'9" and weighs 178 pounds. If he wasn't fast, we wouldn't be talking about him.
Routes and releases: C+. Hamler has nifty hips (again, we wouldn't be talking about him otherwise) and changes speeds in the open field to create sudden separation. He rarely sees a jam, however, and has the luxury of running around wide-open spaces much of the time.
Hands: B. Hamler has reliable hands and can adjust to bad balls, but he's a tiny downfield target.
YAC Potential: B. He runs plenty of reverses and screens and returns kicks. Naturally, he has some moves. He's no human game controller or anything.
Blocking and such: C-. He makes defenders work extra hard to toss him aside. But they still do.
Hamler is vexing. He isn't the Tavon Austin type of trick-play/big-play specialist that he's advertised as, and it takes some imagination to project him as a DeSean Jackson-esque pint-sized deep threat. His upside may be John Brown, who has bounced from the Cardinals to the Ravens to the Bills and is often miscast as a go-to target. There's also a high likelihood that Hamler maxes out as a return man.
This pick was a reach, but it also makes sense in tandem with the Jerry Jeudy selection. The Broncos are trying to build an almost Chiefs-like receiving corps, and they are not afraid to take some risks to do it.
47. Atlanta Falcons
Marlon Davidson, DL, Auburn
Strengths: Power and run defense as an end; quickness as a tackle
Weaknesses: Speed and pass-rushing capability as an end; power as a tackle
Davidson provided the quote of the combine when asked what he liked most about playing football: "I can literally go out there and hit a man consistently and pound him, and the police don't come. That is the most enjoyable moment about ball, to just go out there and really abuse somebody, and they won't say anything about it in the press or anything. I ain't in no headlines, in handcuffs, no mugshots, no nothing. I'm out here just physically abusing my man."
To clarify, Davidson got a big laugh from this remark and began leaning into the routine. So if you have a "Marlon Davidson is wrong about enjoying aggravated assault, here's why" thinkpiece in the works based on those quotes, perhaps consider another angle.
Davidson is a 303-pounder with a dad bod who lined up as both a stand-up edge-rusher and an interior defensive tackle for the Tigers. He sets the edge well as a run defender, uses his arms effectively to disengage and swim away from blockers, and can apply some pass pressure with either a bull rush or just enough quickness and torque to win with athleticism now and then.
As a tackle, he's quick off the blocks and stays low, can hold his own against a double-team and can use initial quickness to cause some disruption. He hustles to the whistle and often gets involved in plays on the opposite side of the field.
Davidson has enough positives to turn into Cameron Jordan after a year of NFL coaching and conditioning. That's an ambitious comparison, but Davidson's unique playing style and engaging personality should keep him in the league for a long time, even if he turns into more of a complementary defender than a star.In the short term, he’ll line up next to Grady Jarrett and play roles similar to the ones he played next to Derrick Brown at Auburn. And he’ll make the Falcons defensive line much better as a result.
48. Seattle Seahawks
Darrell Taylor, Edge, Tennessee
Strengths: Explosiveness, upside
Weaknesses: Consistency, run defense
Hey, look: The Jets are trading back in the draft! Because their roster is SO STACKED that they don’t need to select players from one of the deepest second rounds in recent memory. (That was sarcasm, folks). Ah well, the Jets' latest loss is the Seahawks’ gain.
The Seahawks recorded only 28 sacks last year, tied for the second-lowest total in the NFL. Bruce Irvin returns to the team this year after an 8.5-sack season for the Panthers, but Jadeveon Clowney is dangling in free-agent limbo and unheralded defensive tackle Rasheem Green led the team with four sacks last year. So edge rush is a position of obvious need.
Taylor is a boom-or-bust edge-rusher who mixes huge games (three sacks against Georgia and four against Kentucky in 2018, two each against Mississippi State and South Carolina last year) with long disappearing acts. When he's on, he uses hip and head fakes to gain the advantage on his blocker, torques around the edge suddenly and delivers a jolt when he reaches the quarterback. When he's off, he's one of the last guys off the line of scrimmage at the snap and crashes into his blocker without a plan. Whether the issue is concentration, conditioning or something else, the long stretches of sluggish play are what separate Taylor from the first-round picks.
He is an adequate-at-best run defender who too often allows himself to be taken where his blocker wants him to go. He fits best as a stand-up edge-rusher on passing downs, at least at the start of his career. He can be dangerous right away in a 20- to 25-snap role. He fills a need, and he’s the type of player (for better or worse) that the Seahawks like to build their defense around.
49. Pittsburgh Steelers
Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame
Speed and quickness: A-/C-. Claypool ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the combine, ending conversation that the 238-pounder might move to tight end. But he's slow and deliberate when changing direction.
Routes and releases: B.Despite his lack of lateral quickness, Claypool finds ways to get open underneath, and he can use his frame to defeat jams and shield defenders in traffic.
Hands: B+. Like many of this year's best receivers, Claypool is very good at making contested catches but is inconsistent with easy ones. He works back to the ball well to help his quarterback.
YAC Potential: C+. He'll truck some 5'9" defenders.
Blocking: A. He's huge and has a tight end's mentality.
Robert Woods is Claypool's upside. Kendrick Bourne is a more likely comparison. Both receivers are excellent blockers who can slip past defenders who think they're going to get walloped for big gains on play-action passes. Receivers like Claypool rarely become stars, but their versatility and ability to contribute on special teams help them stay on the field and on the roster. The Steelers will likely use him as a possession receiver underneath.
This isn't a splashy pick, but it will ensure that Ben Roethlisberger has plenty of weapons when he emerges from his cave in the Allegheny Mountains and prepares to mount a comeback.
50. Chicago Bears
Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
Strengths: Vision, length
Weaknesses: Deep speed
Johnson is a tall cornerback who is aggressive in press coverage, but his best attribute is his vision on plays developing in front of him. He quickly and smoothly adjusts when receivers criss-cross and can spot efforts to fake him out of position, which makes him especially effective in underneath-zone and matchup-zone (where defenders have to switch whom they are covering, basketball-style, when receivers cross in front of them) coverages.
Johnson spoke about the importance of good vision at the combine.
"Everything for me is eyes, because you can have bad eyes and you can never win," he said. "But I feel like if you have good eyes, you put yourself in an opportunity to really make a play on the ball."
Johnson's biggest weakness is a lack of deep speed. He isn't equipped to cover burners down the field without safety help if he cannot maul and redirect them at the line, but few defenders are. Johnson is a physical, versatile defender who should quickly develop into a productive starter.
This is a fine pick for the Bears. It's also their last pick until the fifth round unless they trade up because of the picks they dealt away for Nick Foles and to move up for David Montgomery last year. (They sent their first-round pick to the Raiders as part of the Khalil Mack trade, which feels like it happened when George Halas ran the team.) Sometimes, a high grade on a selection doesn't tell the full story of how badly a front office messed up a draft.
51. Dallas Cowboys
Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Strengths: Technique, NFL-readiness
Weaknesses: Lack of elite traits
Diggs is the younger brother of Bills receiver Stefon Diggs. When their father died, Stefon became a father figure for Trevon.
"He's like my dad, honestly," Diggs said of his brother at the combine. "He has always taken care of me. I always ask him everything, no matter what. Two o'clock in the morning, I'm asking him questions."
The brothers were too far apart in age for Trevon to be able to cover Stefon in the playground growing up. So what does Trevon think it will be like to cover Stefon in the NFL?
"I feel like it will be easy," Diggs said at the combine. He then paused and made a face to make it clear that he was kidding.
The rest of this draft grade is standard Alabama defender boilerplate. Diggs is technically sound and assignment-clean, makes adjustments on the fly and communicates well with fellow defenders, and has the athleticism to handle most matchups. He's no size-speed marvel, and he's a lunging tackler who can get shaken off by tougher ball-carriers, but the Cowboys can just drop Diggs into their secondary and not worry about him for the next few years.
So, the Cowboys significantly upgraded their receiving corps with CeeDee Lamb in the first round and then easily replaced Byron Jones with this pick. Jerry Jones is crushing this draft. Maybe we should all make our decisions on weird couches in the middle of creepy all-white rooms.
52. Los Angeles Rams
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
Strengths: Quickness, receiving skills, balance, power-to-size ratio
Weaknesses: Blocking, size
The Rams crashed from being darling-geniuses of the NFL to just another cap-strapped mediocrity so quickly that the force of their impact could have leveled a small forest.
Two years ago, they were the whiz kids with all the answers. Now, they're reeling from the losses of Brandin Cooks, Todd Gurley and many lesser-known role players, scraping the ceiling of the salary cap to keep a crumbling offensive line intact and trying to upgrade through the draft after trading away multiple first-round picks on players like Jalen Ramsey who are destined to cause even more future cap problems. The Rams are a cautionary tale of what happens when you bet everything on squeezing through a tiny Super Bowl window. (The Bears, meanwhile, are what happen when you aspire to be the Rams and whiff).
So the Rams spent their first pick of the night replacing Gurley, who will still cost them a chunk of dead-cap space. At least they picked a pretty good running back in Akers, who once stayed in an eighth-grade football game despite being so dehydrafted that he was throwing up while he was running.
"Everybody wanted to take me to the hospital, but I felt the need to finish the game," he said. "I knew I could. I knew my body. I finished the game."
Bleacher Report does not condone leaving puking eighth-graders in football games, even if they really want to. In fact, we actively condemn it. Seriously, they're eighth-graders: toss their cellphone in the back of the ambulance and they will chase it. And if you think eighth-graders "know their bodies," watch Big Mouth.
Anyway, all's well that ends well.
"I did good," Akers added. "After that happened, I came back and ran another 80-yard touchdown two plays later. ... I came out, took some Powerade, water, had some mustard and I went back in three plays later and ran for a touchdown again."
Apparently, mustard (like pickle juice) may help combat dehydration. So they gave it to the puking kid. And he ran for a touchdown, because he was the best player on the field, and also, no one wants to tackle the puking kid.
Let's just stop telling Akers' old tale and provide a link to the Mayo Clinic's recommendations on dehydration in youth sports instead.
Akers' tape is both fun and frustrating to watch. He's smooth, quick and capable of both juking and stiff-arming tacklers. But the Florida State offensive line looked like the college equivalent of the 2016 Seahawks offensive line, so Akers needed lots of moves and muscle just to reach the line of scrimmage. Many of his receptions were quick flares or middle screens with the defense ready to pounce on him.
Akers' blocking looks comically bad at times and excellent at others. That could be a byproduct of often having three defenders collapsing the pocket at once, leaving him to solve a multiple-choice problem while trying to protect the quarterback.
Akers' compact frame, quickness and occasional blocking misadventures recall Kenyan Drake. He'll be a major factor in the Rams' running back committee. Gosh, if only they thought of selecting players like Akers before they drafted Gurley.
53. Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
Packers: Let's create a contentious quarterback controversy instead of addressing the needs that could propel us to the Super Bowl!
Eagles: Hold. Our. Beer.
Bleacher Report's Pinpoint-Accurate Quarterback Comparison: Original-recipe Ryan Tannehill, as opposed to last year's Single Barrel Reserve Ryan Tannehill.
Hurts may have had the most unique, singular career of any player in college football history: two major programs, a significant (if star-crossed) role for a national champion, enough comebacks and plot twists to fill a movie trilogy. But as a prospect, Hurts is relatively conventional: a mobile quarterback with a big arm but inconsistent accuracy, mechanics and decision making. We get one or two of those every year.
But Hurts' odd career arc, coupled with Lamar Jackson's success, makes his evaluation complicated. Perhaps Hurts is another Jackson who is just a customized offense away from an MVP season? Or maybe he would better off (yawn) switching to wide receiver or in a (double yawn) Taysom Hill role? The Hurts who led Alabama to the national championship game in 2017 or Oklahoma to the college football playoffs last year can be touted as a Jackson-Patrick Mahomes-type superweapon. The Hurts who lost his job to Tua Tagovailoa can easily be written off as just another scrambler.
If there ever was serious talk about moving Hurts to wide receiver—it always sounded like a stick-figure argument for cool kids on Twitter to dunk on—Hurts erased it with strong showings during Senior Bowl week and his combine throwing sessions. While some elements of his mechanics need work, some are incredibly smooth: his play-fake, set and delivery on an RPO are efficient and lightning quick, for example. And while "the next Lamar Jackson" will be a millstone around the necks of many scrambling prospects in the years to come, most modern NFL offenses have been rebuilt to make the most of the things Hurts does best.
So despite his up-and-down college career, Hurts is no boom-or-bust prospect. At worst, he could grow quickly into a more mobile Mitch Trubisky. Tighten a bunch of screws and he can become Deshaun Watson. But he's most likely to fall in the range between Bad Tannehill and Good Tannehill.
So...what does that mean for Hurts, Carson Wentz and the Eagles? It’s hard to say right now. But the Eagles just kept Philly sports talk radio in business until the end of the quarantine. And whatever role Hurts plays—backup, challenger, Wildcat, whatever—he cannot possibly help the Eagles as much as an edge-rusher or another receiver would have.
54. Buffalo Bills
A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa
Strengths: Size, power, hands, productivity
Weaknesses: Stiffness, testing results
Epenesa is this year's version of DK Metcalf.
For those of you who don't eat, drink and sleep draft folklore, Metcalf ran a 4.33-second 40 while looking like Thor at 228 pounds last season, but his cone and shuttle results were so bad that it caused a draftnik tizzy. Metcalf fell into the second round (as much because of injury concerns as combine results), where the Seahawks drafted him, used him as a screens-and-bombs receiver along the sideline and were rewarded with a 58-catch, 900-yard, seven-touchdown season. The sheer volume of "how did we get this wrong?" navel-gazing among draft hipsters at season's end nearly crashed the internet.
Epenesa had a weak combine, including a 5.04-second 40 with a tortoise-like 1.78-second 10-yard split. The split is the major concern, because it measures the likely distance between Epenesa and the quarterback on a typical play. Epenesa does look rather stiff when changing direction on tape, so the bad workout results appear to verify skepticism about his gaudy collegiate production (22 sacks, 30.5 tackles for a loss in 2018-19).
So, why didn't the Bills immediately wipe Epenesa off their draft board? For the same reason teams like the Seahawks didn't give up on Metcalf. Draft evaluation is about what a player does exceptionally well, not what he is average to bad at. Epenesa is a power rusher with a great punch, subtle pass-rushing moves and the ability to shed blocks. He's not supposed to be Von Miller screaming off the edge. He's more of a big thumper who takes on offensive tackles directly and holds the point-of-attack on running plays.
There's also the matter of testimonials: As I wrote during the combine, several opponents (and teammates) called Epenesa the toughest defender they ever faced, or the second-toughest besides Chase Young. The opinions of the guys who had to block him matter more than a 10-yard-split result.
Epenesa projects as a stout defender who will generate eight to 10 sacks in his best years but will be an all-purpose contributor in a typical season. If you don't think that's worth the 54th overall pick, you may have been staring at the combine decimal points a little too long.
The Bills were big winners this offseason. They traded a first-round pick for Stefon Diggs (a smart move, even in a stacked receiver class) and added Josh Norman and Mario Addison to their collection of 2015 Panthers (both should remain useful role players on a deep, talented roster). That put them in the enviable position of being able to add to their strengths instead of drafting for immediate needs. They just added a first-round talent in the middle of the second round.
Watch out, AFC: The Bills are legit.
55. Baltimore Ravens
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
Strengths: All-around rushing skills
Weaknesses: Receiving consistency, usage issues
Let's allow Dobbins to address that "receiving consistency" knock: "A lot of people try to say that I can't catch because I took my eyes off the screen pass in the playoff game," he said at the combine. "But I had more than 70 catches, so I think I can catch pretty good."
Dobbins raises a good point: Reputations (and entire scouting reports) can be built around one high-profile mistake. But the drop against Clemson wasn't his only concentration lapse, so we'll stick with "receiving consistency" as a weakness, especially since he is strictly a screen/outlet target.
Dobbins is otherwise the complete package as a rusher. He has excellent vision, swivel-y hips, jump-cut ability, the contact balance to blast through arm tackles and finish runs, and enough breakaway speed to win his share of foot races in the secondary. He's second on the all-time Ohio State rushing list, behind the legendary Archie Griffin but ahead of Ezekiel Elliott, Eddie George and other workhorses. His 725 collegiate carries (301 of which came in 2019) are a minor mileage concern, but at some point, teams must stop worrying about how worn out a running back might be five years from now and select the ones who can help them right now.
It isn't hard to figure out what the Ravens have planned here: Dobbins and Mark Ingram II taking turns running the read option with Lamar Jackson. Frankly, it sounds like a lot of fun. But it also sounds like a very modest upgrade for a team that could have used another receiver for Jackson instead. After all, Dobbins and Ingram won’t do much good if a team like the Titans mounts a big lead on them in the playoffs again.
56. Miami Dolphins
Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama
Strengths: Size, power, potential
Weaknesses: Production, secondary pass-rushing moves
Davis received a "minor" gunshot wound to the leg in a barroom incident in August 2017. "It wasn't nothing like a big situation. Just being in the wrong place at the wrong time," he told reporters at the combine about it.Not only did Davis play a few days later, but he recorded a sack against Florida State.
Still, Davis' production in college left something to be desired. He recorded 8.5 sacks in 2017 but had only 2.0 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss in the subsequent two seasons, neither of which began with a gunshot wound to the leg. Davis went from a potential top-10 pick to a late second-rounder as many teams may have felt as though he's just another stout SEC run-plugger, albeit one with upside.
There's an elite defensive tackle lurking in Davis. There are also enough yellow flags to cause concern that he isn't cut out to live up to his potential. The Dolphins are building according to the old Bill Parcells "Planet Theory," and Davis will join Christian Wilkins to form a stout defensive tackle tandem. But Davis is neither the best player on the board nor does he fill a need, which makes this pick a mild reach.
57. Los Angeles Rams
Van Jefferson, WR, Florida
Strengths: Size, competitiveness, routes
Jefferson's father, Shawn Jefferson, played 13 seasons for the Chargers, Patriots, Falcons and Lions. Van Jefferson transferred to Florida when Ole Miss was facing NCAA discipline and caught 12 touchdown passes over the last two seasons.
Jefferson is big, tough, crafty as a route-runner and capable of outmuscling defenders on contested catches. He also may be one of the slowest legitimate prospects in this wide receiver class. Not only does he lack deep speed, but he takes a long time to get into gear.
Jefferson also turns 24 in July; he's four months older than JuJu Smith-Schuster. Lack of speed and extra years in college are a bad 1-2 punch for a receiver prospect; they're signs that he might have maxed out against younger defenders in the SEC.
Brandin Cooks’ departure leaves the Rams thin at wide receiver behind Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods in an offense built for three wide receivers. But Cooks was a burner who lifted the lid. Jefferson is a tough competitor from an NFL family, but he’s more like Woods, and his ceiling is fairly low while his bust potential is high. Jefferson and Cam Akers (drafted earlier) are fine players, but they barely qualify as replacements for the players the Rams lost last month.
58. Minnesota Vikings
Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
Strengths: Athleticism, zone blocking
Weaknesses: Lateral quickness, consistency when drive blocking
Cleveland played through turf toe in his final season on the Smurf Turf, so his tape is a mixed bag. At times he looks like a mauling run-blocker, but at other times he fails to generate much drive. He's smooth and quick-footed in pass protection, but he sometimes let defenders beat him with quickness. A lack of confidence when planting his feet could explain some of these inconsistencies, but it's best to think of Cleveland as a long-range work in progress. He blew up the combine with a 4.93-second 40, 30 bench-press reps and fine shuttle and workout results, giving him high athletic upside.
Cleveland is the first Vikings pick in this draft who is not a direct replacement for one of their free-agent departures. It’s encouraging to know that they can do more than just try to bail out the boat this weekend. With that said, they may not be in the best position to draft developmental linemen since they have so many other needs.
59. New York Jets
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Speed and quickness: A.Mims was a big winner at the combine, running a 4.38-second 40 at 6'3" and 207 pounds. Receivers in the wide-open Big 12 (who don't see many jams) are sometimes not quite as speedy as advertised, so the combine results verified that Mims was as fast as he looked on tape.
Routes and releases: C.Mims is a rudimentary route-runner, though he uses stutter-steps and head fakes to keep defenders guessing in soft coverage.
Hands: A+/C. Mims is a classic "make the impossible catch/drop the easy one" type of receiver. He's capable of breathtaking toe-tap and fingertip catches and shows a knack for adjusting to bad balls. A 2018 hand injury may have contributed to some of his drops.
YAC Potential: B.His highlight stick is a little limited, but Mims can run away from defenders in open space.
Blocking and such: C+. Mims made an impression at the Senior Bowl in this category, demonstrating a physicality that wasn't always easy to spot on game tape.
The Jets have not had a 1,000-yard season from a wide receiver since Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker did it in 2015. Slot possession receiver Jamison Crowder led the team with a 78-833-6 stat line last season, Robby Anderson is now in Carolina, and Quincy Enunwa is Facebook friends with everyone in the MRI department. The Jets added Breshad Perriman (who makes Enunwa look indestructible) as a free agent on the strength of his 25-506-5 December hot streak, which is the sort of move that has backfired on the Jets approximately 4 trillion times in the past.
Mims' phenomenal Senior Bowl week and combine showed that he's more than just a jump-ball specialist. He could develop into a Kenny Golladay type and finally give the Jets the kind of go-to receiver they have lacked for years.
60. New England Patriots
Josh Uche, LB/Edge, Michigan
Strengths: Initial quickness, effort, upside
Weaknesses: Experience, pass-rushing plan
The Patriots didn’t just lose Tom Brady this offseason, of course. They also lost Jamie Collins, Duron Harmon, Kyle Van Noy, Danny Shelton and Stephen Gostkowski via trades and free agency, with the Lions and Dolphins wrestling each other in the parking lot to scoop up most of the defensive players. The Patriots have sloughed off useful role players and replaced them with slow-cooked developmental prospects and bargain-bin replacements for this entire century, but this is no ordinary offseason, and there aren’t as many ready-made replacements on the roster as usual.
Uche was a backup and situational pass-rusher until his senior season at Michigan, when he not only recorded 7.5 sacks but displayed surprising versatility when dropping into coverage. He comes off the line as an edge-rusher at 100 mph, and while he sometimes just crashes into his blocker without a plan, he keeps moving forward after contact and can mix things up with a stutter-stepping inside move.
Uche's late-career development suggests he has untapped potential, and his open-field speed and high motor should make him useful on special teams while he develops. Like Kyle Dugger, whom the Patriots selected earlier in the second round, Uche is a bit of a work in progress. And as with Dugger, we won’t get carried away with "the Patriots know what they're doing" logic when assigning this grade.
61. Tennessee Titans
Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Strengths: Size and athleticism
Fulton faced a two-year NCAA suspension for tampering with a urine sample in 2017. He claimed that he "panicked" because he had smoked marijuana prior to the test and attempted to switch samples.
As youthful indiscretions go, that would appear to be a rather significant one—and also slightly silly, as witnesses saw Fulton pouring a cup of urine into the testing cup—but he eventually got the suspension reduced to one year and reportedly has stayed out of trouble (and passed many drug tests) in between. Fulton said at the combine that few teams even asked about the suspension.
On the field, Fulton shines in press coverage but is far less consistent in zone. His footwork and vision both seem to be a little unreliable when playing off his receiver, particularly on slants and dig routes. He's also inconsistent in run support, with a habit of getting stuck on blocks when the ball is headed in his direction.
The Titans ranked 21st in pass defense last season, according to Football Outsiders. They parted ways in the offseason with unreliable cornerback Logan Ryan, an expensive holdover from their "let’s grab some Patriots" era, leaving them with little depth behind Malcolm Butler (another holdover from that era) and Adoree' Jackson.
Fulton is long, fast, athletic and started for the national champions. The Titans will take his traits and leave it to their coaches to worry about the details.
62. Green Bay Packers
AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Strengths: Size-speed-power package
Weaknesses: Receiving, mileage
Now that the Packers have turned their quarterback meeting room into the most hostile work environment this side of a colony of honey badgers, it’s time for them to actually try to solve some of their problems!
Or...maybe they can just grab another running back instead!
Dillon's grandfather, Tom Gatewood, was a Notre Dame wide receiver from 1969-71. Here's Gatewood in the 1971 Cotton Bowl against Texas: He catches a pair of passes from a fellow named Joe Theismann before pulling a hamstring while turning upfield for a touchdown. You don't get this kind of cross-generational draft coverage anywhere else, folks.
Dillon is surprisingly nimble for a 247-pound bruiser, and he has both excellent vision and cutback ability, plus a Derrick Henry-like 4.53-second 40 at the combine. He's a much better prospect than Andre Williams, the Boston College piledriver whom the Giants drafted in the fourth round in 2013 and who lacked the quickness and versatility to succeed at the NFL level.
I compared Dillon to Henry at the combine, which may have been an example of getting lost in the moment. The "prospect comp" game is unfair enough without comparing a guy to an NFL player coming off one of the hottest playoff streaks in history. But if Dillon's receiving chops develop (he caught only 21 passes in three seasons as a featured back) and 845 collegiate carries don't take their toll too soon, he could be a James Conner type of all-purpose back.
Dillon will rotate with Aaron Jones, probably eating up many of Jamaal Williams' touches. The Packers appear to be rebuilding a new roster underneath their current roster. It's an interesting strategy for a 13-3 team with a cantankerous face-of-the-franchise quarterback. And by "interesting," I do not mean "wise."
Like the player. Don't like the decision.
63. Kansas City Chiefs
Willie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State
Strengths: Burst, tackling
Weaknesses: Off-field concerns, consistency
Gay was suspended for eight games at the start of the 2019 season as part of a major academic fraud scandal that involved several Mississippi State athletes. He then missed the Music City Bowl, reportedly for getting into a practice altercation with freshman quarterback Garrett Shrader.
In between the incidents, Gay was a high-energy defender with a great size-speed combination and the explosiveness to blast through traffic and deliver big hits. His play recognition was very hit-or-miss: He often diagnosed the play quickly and hustled to the ball, but he either took a bad angle and ended up chasing the play from behind or overran the ball-carrier in the open field. Gay recorded five sacks in 2018 and could be effective as a blitzer/penetrator from the "Mike" position or the edge.
The Chiefs allowed 4.9 yards per rush last season, tied with the Seahawks for the fourth-worst rate in the league. They still possess the most effective run defense there is—scoring a zillion points per game so opponents must abandon the run to catch up—but it's a good idea to have a Plan B. If Gay proves that he can be reliable in coverage and off the field, he could be that Plan B. It’s the sort of risk a defending champion has to take every now and then.
64. Carolina Panthers
Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
Weaknesses: Injury history, instincts
Chinn's uncle is Hall of Famer Steve Atwater. We love comparing newly drafted players to their famous fathers/brothers/uncles/grandpas here in the Bleacher Report draft grades (we might have gotten a little carried away with Antoine Winfield Jr.), but we aren't going to do that here. We just like the sound of "Hall of Famer Steve Atwater" because Atwater waited so many years for the honor.
Anyway, Chinn was a combine superstar. He ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash, had a 41" vertical (tied for the second-best among defensive backs) and a 138" broad jump (best among defensive backs) at 6'3" and 221 pounds. He has the measurables of an ideal box safety/outside linebacker hybrid: big enough to thump the run, fast enough to chase Travis Kelce up the seam.
But while Chinn was a productive starter at a top FCS program, his career is dotted with injuries, and his tape shows him arriving a step late more often than a step early. He has a lot of developmental upside if he stays healthy, and he had some first-round buzz entering the draft. He's a solid building block for an organization that got many great years from Thomas Davis, one of the original safety-linebacker hybrids.
65. Cincinnati Bengals
Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming
Strengths: Athleticism, anticipation in coverage
Weaknesses: Angles, tackling consistency
Wilson recorded a remarkable 409 total tackles and 10 interceptions as a four-year contributor for the Cowboys. His play recognition and anticipation in the middle of the field is excellent. He'll jump underneath routes, sniff out option fakes and arrive at the same time as the ball on screen passes.
Wilson gets sucked in by play action at times, occasionally negates his speed with bad angles or gets stuck in traffic and flicks the lunge stick on a few too many open-field tackles. But like Oklahoma's Kenneth Murray (drafted earlier by the Chargers), he's around the ball so often that it's easy to pick out lots of little mistakes and make too much of them. Wilson is a pure middle linebacker, and his zone-coverage skills could keep him on the field for all three downs.
Wilson is a fine pick for a Bengals team with many needs all across the defensive depth chart.
66. Washington Redskins
Antonio Gibson, RB-WR, Memphis
Strengths: Athleticism, versatility, big-play ability
Weaknesses: Consistency, reliability
Gibson played a hybrid running back/receiver role for the Tigers: lots of screens and bench routes from the slot mixed with some draw plays from the backfield, plus kickoff returns. The double/triple duty made for some hectic weeks of practice.
"I was always in the receiver room," he said at the combine. "And then they would come in and sprinkle in, 'A.G., you've got this, this and that' for running backs, and they would throw it into team periods.
"I would get my reps done in practice, and then by game day, I was fine. If I needed anything extra, I would go in late at night and talk to the coach, if I needed to look at something or if there were some reads I need to learn."
Gibson looked like Barry Sanders against SMU, with long rushing, receiving and return touchdowns. He shows flashes of game-breaking ability, and his 4.39-second 40 at the combine suggests his athleticism will translate to the NFL. But there are long stretches where he looks like just another mid-major slot guy, particularly against stiffer competition.
Gibson could develop quickly into a cross between Deebo Samuel and Austin Ekeler. At the very least, he should be like Washington all-purpose back Chris Thompson, only better and not injured for months at a time.
67. Detroit Lions
Julian Okwara, Edge, Notre Dame
Strengths: Athleticism, production
Weaknesses: Block shedding, run defense
Okwara's brother, Romeo Okwara, went undrafted out of Notre Dame a few years ago, spent a few seasons on the Giants bench and then emerged to record 7.5 sacks for the Lions in 2018. Julian is a better prospect than his brother, but he may require a similar extended developmental period.
Okwara is a pure stand-up edge-rusher who can win with quickness and explodes into the ball-carrier. He lacks a plan when blockers latch on, though he does keep moving through contact, so he could grow into a useful run defender if he adds bulk, strength and experience. He's alert when responding to option meshes, and he's quick enough to drop into zone coverage now and then without embarrassing his defensive coordinator.
Okwara will probably max out as a situational edge-rusher, but he has the right mix of traits and hustle to stick on a roster and contribute. An all-Okwara pass rush sounds like fun, and the Lions need edge-rushers, but this pick is a reach that demonstrates a disturbing lack of imagination on the Lions' part.
68. New York Jets
Ashtyn Davis, S, California
Strengths: Speed and athleticism, effort/intensity
Bruce Feldman of The Athletic wrote an in-depth profile in August on Davis that is worth your time. The cheat-sheet version: His father was in the popular California-based hip-hop group Code III, which opened up for acts like Rage Against the Machine and the incomparably NSFW Body Count in the 90s; substance abuse issues run on both sides of the family (Davis abstains from drugs and alcohol); a painful medical condition slowed his progress as a young athlete, but he overcame it to become a track star; he then aggressively pursued his passion for football by walking on at Cal and working his way up the depth chart.
Davis' track speed is obvious on tape, and he's a tall, long-armed defender who should match up well against bigger receivers and faster tight ends in the slot. He tackles better than the "track guy playing safety" elevator pitch suggests, but like many college safeties, he misses some tackles when he fails to come under control and break down.
Davis is a work-in-progress defender who may start his career as a special teamer. If his instincts develop, he could become an Eric Rowe type of matchup defensive back. However, the Jets have the great Jamal Adams and the pretty good Marcus Maye at safety. That makes this pick a little like the defensive version of the Packers' Jordan Love selection.
Maybe Adam Gase is not playing mind or money games with Adams. Maybe the Jets hope to upgrade from Maye or play lots of heavy nickel fronts. But some teams don't get the benefit of the doubt, especially when they have needs at just about every other position.
69. Seattle Seahawks
Damien Lewis, G, LSU
Strengths: Size, power
Weaknesses: Grabowski tendencies
Lewis played right guard for the national champions. He excels at driving straight off the ball and smashing into defenders with outstanding leg drive and leverage. He's quick enough to reach and strike second-level targets, and he engulfs most defenders in pass protection.
Lewis' biggest issue is that his arms get wide when he's blocking, and he gets grabby when defenders try to disengage. SEC officials are pretty forgiving, but NFL officials will flag him two or three times per game if he doesn't come up with a better plan for wiring up defenders.
Lewis has ideal power and adequate athleticism, so Seahawks coaches will take their time teaching him to keep his hands low and inside. Unfortunately, the Seahawks' offensive line coaches don't have a great track record of teaching linemen much of anything.
Reaches like this are why Russell Wilson has spent much of his prime running for his life. But based on need and Lewis' upside, let's not grade too harshly.
70. Miami Dolphins
Brandon Jones, LB/S, Texas
Strengths: Pursuit, downhill playing style
Weaknesses: Size, speed
Jones is a tricky evaluation. He was at his best when he lined up as a glorified "Will" linebacker for the Longhorns, where he could blow up receiver screens and battle through blocks to make plays around the line of scrimmage. He made a ton of open-field hustle tackles and pass breakups in pursuit. But Jones is slow-footed for a defensive back and hovers around 200 pounds, making him a liability in man coverage and an unlikely candidate to make an official move to linebacker.
If you fall in love with high-effort players, you'll fall in love with Jones. Lots of NFL coaches fall in love with high-effort players, and the Dolphins are really loading up with high-effort tough guys in this draft, regardless of whether they fill obvious needs.
Jones may max out as a special teamer, but he'll get every opportunity to be something more.
71. Baltimore Ravens
Justin Madubuike, DT, Texas A&M
Strengths: Size, athleticism
Weaknesses: First-step quickness, power
Madubuike was a combine rock star, and his workouts reflect the tape. While he is sometimes sluggish out of his stance, his first two steps are lightning-quick, allowing him to beat blockers to where they want to go and close on the quarterback suddenly once he penetrates. He also rips would-be blockers aside when he gets them off-balance. Madubuike is more of a 3-tech disruptor than an anchor against the run; he'll win some leverage battles but lacks the raw power to handle double-teams.
Madubuike would have been a first-round pick if his first step off the line was more explosive. If he becomes better at anticipating the snap or finds another way to get out of the gate quicker, he could be special.The Ravens are stacked on the defensive front (with Brandon Williams anchoring the middle), but they have a long track record of successfully bringing players like this along slowly and turning them into quality starters.
72. Arizona Cardinals
Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Weaknesses: A head-ducker
Jones is a bit of a movie buff. He told reporters at the combine that he loves "great cinema," was a fan of the movie Inception and would enjoy a career as a film editor or camera operator if he weren't heading to the NFL.
So, who would Jones like to play him in a movie? "I'm saying Denzel Washington," he said.
Er, Denzel is 65 years old. (Yeah, we didn't believe it either, but IMDB.com doesn't lie). So it would take some tricky CGI or makeup to allow him to play the 22-year-old Jones. But maybe Denzel could play the old Jones looking back on his career or something.
Jones may not look much like Denzel Washington, but he looks like he would catch 50 passes per year if moved to tight end. He's a lean, slightly high-cut 319-pounder who looks great on the move, whether pulling or walloping some poor defensive back on screens. His length and quickness allow him to match up well with quicker edge-rushers. His biggest weakness, besides the fact that 319 pounds may have been his combine show weight (he appears to have maxed out around 300 pounds on the field), is a tendency to duck his head when blocking. That's a mechanical flaw that negates power and allows defenders to get a leverage advantage.
Jones is athletic enough to be a top pass protector at left tackle if he becomes more mechanically sound.
The Cardinals allowed 50 sacks in 2019, 52 in 2018 and 52 in 2017, yet they haven’t invested a first- or second-round pick on an offensive lineman since selecting D.J. Humphries at No. 24 overall in 2015, General manager Steve Keim likes to build offensive lines out of expensive assortments of other team’s journeymen starters: Justin Pugh, Marcus Gilbert, J.R. Sweezy and (in the past) Mike Iupati, Jared Valdheer, Andre Smith and others. It’s a great way for a team to get far less than it bargained for, and also possibly get the quarterback slaughtered.
Jones could prove to be a first-round value in the third round. And if Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t let him line up as a tackle-eligible and catch a pass or two, the Cardinals will be denying the world some great highlight-reel cinema.
73. Jacksonville Jaguars
DaVon Hamilton, DT, Ohio State
Strengths: Penetration quickness, motor
Weaknesses: Pass-rushing technique
Hamilton was Chase Young's 3-tech and general wingman for the Buckeyes. He blossomed last season after three seasons (plus a redshirt year) as a backup, recording 6.0 sacks (most of them against weaker programs; sorry, Maryland) but only 18 solo tackles.
Hamilton is quick off the line, is pretty good at disengaging and will make the play in the backfield once he gets there. He's just a one-note penetrator and disruptor, however: few moves, adequate-not-great base against the run and so forth. As such, he fits best as a rotational lineman with enough juice to be useful as a 3-tech.
The Jaguars are trying to replace impact players on their defense with sturdy role players. That’s very Jaguars of them.
74. New Orleans Saints
Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Strengths: Explosiveness, range
Weaknesses: Pass-rushing and coverage technique
Baun's first letter from the Wisconsin football program was addressed to "Zack Brown." Did they confuse him with the former Titans and Bills linebacker? Was it country-rock fan mail? Dude, We absolutely loved The Foundation. Will you play next year's Spring Fling? That sort of thing never happened to Joe Burroughs. Oops...we mean Joe Burrow.
Anyway, Baun recorded 12.5 sacks for the Badgers last season, but he's more of an all-around linebacker than a pure pass-rusher. He generates sacks (and tackles for loss) by winning with his first move or by coming unblocked and exploding into the quarterback or ball-carrier. He has incredible open-field range and anticipates plays well, both in underneath coverage and when chasing down running backs, though he's very raw in man coverage.
Baun is an old-fashioned "Sam"-type linebacker. In the NFL, that means he might line up as a traditional linebacker on early downs and rotate with the edge-rushers on third downs. He isn't an Anthony Barr-level prospect, but he's a Barr-like player.
This was a tremendous pick for the Saints, who moved up to select Baun. Their roster is stacked at just about every position except linebacker, and they are perennially searching for that one player who will propel them from the playoffs to the Super Bowl. They might have found him this time.
75. Detroit Lions
Jonah Jackson, G, Ohio State
Strengths: Technique, lateral quickness, alertness
Weaknesses: Leverage, power
Jackson transferred from Rutgers to Ohio State for his final college season because, well, you would too if you were a college football player.
"It came down to both education and athletics," Jackson toldTodderick Huntof NJ Advance Media. "I wanted to pursue my master's degree somewhere else, and Rutgers didn't have my degree at the time. So, I wanted to see what else was out there for me academically. And, athletically, I just wanted to see what else the world had to offer."
For the record, Jackson's area of academic interest was educational administration. I taught in New Jersey for many years and had lots and lots of principals and superintendents (educational administrators, in other words) who went to Rutgers. But perhaps Ohio State offers a master's in educational administration with a concentration in "not getting your butt kicked every Saturday." Rutgers stopped offering that years ago.
Anyway, Jackson is an agile, quick-footed blocker who excels at getting position on his defender, whether when zone-blocking, combo-blocking or peeling off a double-team to take on a late blitzer. He's a bit narrow and lean for an interior lineman, and he lacks the raw power to do Quenton Nelson-type stuff. Jackson may always need support against Aaron Donald types, but he's a natural fit for a modern NFL offense, and he should quickly develop into a capable starter. This is a strong pick for a Lions team that clearly wants to get more rugged in the trenches.
76. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt
Strengths: Big-play potential, emerging passing-game value
Weaknesses: Vision, consistency
TOMPA BAY BRADYFICATION PROJECT, PHASE III: Upgrade the running game.
Tom Brady came to rely on running backs like Sony Michel and James White late in his Patriots career not because his skills were diminishing (heretics who suggest such a thing are burnt at the stake), but because it’s important to keep defenses off-balance. (That was never very important when Brady was in his prime, but…ahhh, get away from me with those pitchforks and torches. I’ll stop!)
The Buccaneers averaged only 3.7 yards per carry last year and 3.9 and 3.7 yards per carry in the previous two seasons, respectively. Ronald Jones II improved in 2019 after a miserable rookie year, but Brady needs a committee of backs who can run, catch and block.
Vaughn is known for some huge games in tough Vandy losses. He rushed for 243 yards and two touchdowns on only 13 carries in the 2018 Texas Bowl against Baylor (this brief cut-up is a much-watch hype video for Bucs fans), but the Commodores still lost 45-38.
He recalled that day when speaking to reporters at the combine.
"Before the game started, we had a little break. I was in the game room playing. I was like, 'Air hockey, I won air hockey. 2K, I won 2K. Madden, I won Madden.' There was another game I won. I was like, 'No, I'm done.' I just kept winning, so I feel like that just kind of sparked that whole drive that I had that game."
Imagine for a moment what it must have been like for Vaughn's teammates to have lost to him in air hockey, 2K, Madden and some other game (it's OK to admit you were playing Super Smash Bros., Ke'Shawn), then go out and lose to Baylor.
Vaughn also rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns in a 66-38 loss to LSU in September. But in between his mammoth games are lots of ordinary ones, albeit for the conference's academic powerhouse against a brutal schedule.
Vaughn doesn't always see cutback lanes and will unwisely bounce plays outside. When he finds a crease, however, he displays a remarkable combination of power and straight-ahead speed.
Vaughn made strides as a receiver in 2019, and he's an alert, physical pass protector. Those skills will keep him on a roster and in a rotation. His upside appears limited, but he's capable of having some Chris Carson-esque seasons as the rugged all-purpose guy if called upon. And on the Buccaneers' stacked offense, a Chris Carson type will look very, very good.
77. Denver Broncos
Michael Ojemudia, CB, Iowa
Strengths: Length, underneath coverage
Weaknesses: Transition quickness
Direction and momentum are important factors in any rebuild. An organization that merely strives to "get better" in some vague way ("we'll be aggressive and hard-hitting!") ends up like the Jets, adding players willy-nilly for a decade or more without ever building anything. Successful teams both build upon their strengths and address weaknesses. Add in a little luck, and suddenly everything starts heading in the right direction.
The Broncos wandered in an offensive wilderness after Peyton Manning's retirement, due in part to John Elway's peculiar taste in quarterbacks and a series of miserable drafts. All the while, they kept their championship-caliber defense from falling apart by adding pieces like Bradley Chubb around Von Miller. Two solid drafts (plus one pick) later, they now have an offense of Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, Noah Fant, Melvin Gordon III and Phillip Lindsay, while newcomers Jurrell Casey and A.J. Bouye (and now Ojemudia) have arrived to bolster the defense. There's still work to be done, particularly on the offensive line. But the Broncos are now a team with forward momentum. They can start planning for the playoffs instead of just trying to escape the basement.
Ojemudia was one of my favorite players at the Senior Bowl. Cornerbacks largely struggled there because the wide receiver group was so excellent, but Ojemudia was able to consistently harass top receivers and glue himself to them in 1-on-1 drills.
Ojemudia's tape for the Hawkeyes was less consistent: He doesn't appear all that quick when turning to run, and a defender who looked rugged and physical in Mobile, Alabama, often got wired to blockers on Saturdays. However, a week of daily practices made a bigger impression than the game tape.
Ojemudia has the tools to be a quality starting cornerback, making him a fine pick at this point in the draft for a team that suddenly doesn't have all that many needs to fill.
78. Atlanta Falcons
Matt Hennessy, C, Temple
Strengths: Pass protection, quickness
Weaknesses: Raw bulk and power
Hennessy, the brother of the Jets long snapper Thomas Hennessy, is an impressive pass protector on tape, with a knack for mirroring and adjusting to a pass-rusher's moves. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked first among all centers in both blown block percentage in the passing game (0.2 percent blown blocks) and Sports Info Solutions' proprietary pass-blocking points system. He's also quick-footed when moving laterally for outside zones or other combo blocks.
Hennessy weighed 307 pounds at the combine but looks leaner on tape. He's no mauler, but he's the kind of technician who can develop into a starter.
79. New York Jets
Jabari Zuniga, DE, Florida
Strengths: Athleticism, effort, upside
Weaknesses: Run defense, consistency
Draft Crush Alert! Zuniga gets a perfect 1,600 on the eyeball test, has quick, active hands and feet, hustles to the whistle and does a lot of little things well. Best of all, he has experience working inside as a disruptive 3-technique tackle on passing downs, making him useful in "NASCAR" packages in the NFL.
A high-ankle sprain erased much of his 2019 season, and Zuniga's collegiate production was low (18.5 sacks in three-and-a-half seasons as a regular) for someone with so many positive traits. If the Jets are expecting a natural 12-sack edge-rusher right off the bat, they might have selected the wrong guy. But Jordan Jenkins was the only player on the Jets front seven to record more than three sacks last season. (Safety Jamal Adams recorded 6.5, but he can’t be expected to do everything). They need a complementary pass-rusher and all-purpose lineman who can move all over the line while causing havoc and has the potential to develop into something more, Zuniga is an excellent choice.
80. Las Vegas Raiders
Lynn Bowden Jr., All-Purpose Back, Kentucky
Strengths: Elusiveness, fearlessness as a slot receiver
Weaknesses: Man without a position
Bowden was a slot receiver for the Wildcats from his freshman year through the first few games of last season. He then switched to option quarterback, rushing for 1,468 yards and 13 touchdowns while tossing 6-15 passes per game.
Randall Cobb, who played a broadly similar all-purpose role for the Wildcats in the late 2000s, is almost too easy of a comparison, but Cobb was quicker and more polished as a receiver. Taysom Hill is another enticing comp, but Bowden is a grittier catch-in-traffic type, while Hill appears to be faster. Joe Webb may be the best comp.
Bowden is feisty (he got into an altercation with a Virginia Tech defender, and also one of his own coaches, before the Belk Bowl) and could thrive on special teams while vying to earn some snaps as a slot receiver or Wildcat. He would have been a fine sixth-round pick for a team with few needs. But the Raiders do things their own way, even though it rarely pays off.
81. Las Vegas Raiders
Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina
Strengths: Release, experience
Weaknesses: Big-play ability
Edwards was a four-year regular in the Gamecocks offense with 234 career receptions, the most in program history (more than Alshon Jeffery, Sterling Sharpe or Deebo Samuel, among others). He's nimble and creative when releasing off the line; that, coupled with his 6'3" frame, makes him an inviting target on short run-pass options. He has the sneaky speed to slip past defenders on longer routes, and while he isn't elusive, he's a determined runner on screens and reverses who will drag defenders for a few yards.
Edwards lacks the pure speed and explosiveness to be more than a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver at the NFL level, but he could develop into a Nelson Agholor-level (Super Bowl year, not meme year) contributor. Of course, the Raiders already have Agholor. They also just drafted Lynn Bowden Jr. and Henry Ruggs III, and they also have incumbents like Hunter Renfrow and Tyrell Williams.
However it shakes out and whomever is at quarterback, the Raiders will have a diverse group of passing-game weapons.
82. Dallas Cowboys
Neville Gallimore, DL, Oklahoma
Strengths: Athleticism, motor
Weaknesses: Run defense, leverage
Gallimore was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, and was the top-ranked football player in Canada coming out of the Canada Prep Academy, which totally sounds like an imaginary school made up by some American who knows nothing about Canada (its feeder program is Snowshoe Maple Syrup Rush Lyrics Junior High). It's actually an Ontario-based all-boys prep school that caters to young men interested in earning American football scholarships. Gallimore was the first Canadian ever to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and ended up starting 38 games for the Sooners.
Gallimore is quick, fluid and agile, making him a high-impact defender on passing downs, and he's a high-effort player who will run ball-carriers down from behind. However, his leverage, anchor and power all need a lot of work, and it's hard to envision him as a 60-snap starter as an interior defender in the NFL.
Gallimore had an exceptional combine, and there are worse ideas than drafting a top athlete with a high motor and hoping he thickens out a bit. Gallimore could be effective right away in a 30-snap role.That's all the Cowboys will need him for since they already have Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe in the middle of their defense.
83. Denver Broncos
Lloyd Cushenberry III, C, LSU
Strengths: Power, line calls/adjustments
Weaknesses: Lateral quickness
Cushenberry looked phenomenal at the Senior Bowl, winning several one-on-one pit drills and even knocking South Carolina's Javon Kinlaw out of action by knocking him to the ground (and causing a minor injury) in one rep. He's an alert center who handled lots of adjustment/communication responsibilities in an uptempo offense, and he has a strong initial punch when engaging defenders.
Cushenberry may not be a top athlete, but few centers are. He's a brawler who understands assignments and has leadership traits. That's everything a starting NFL center should be.
The Broncos are absolutely, positively crushing this draft.
84. Los Angeles Rams
Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama
Strengths: Athleticism, hand/arm usage
Weaknesses: Bulk, injury concerns
Having shed Dante Fowler Jr. and Clay Matthews, the Rams entered the draft with no edge-rushers. Like, practically at all. Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers (who also would be gone had he passed his Ravens physical) make life easier for whomever is rushing from the edge, but the Rams still needed more than Samson Ebukam on the outside to force quarterbacks to step up into Donald’s zone of control.
Lewis missed much of the 2017 season because of an elbow injury and all of 2018 due to a torn ACL. He stayed healthy last year and recorded six sacks as part of a deep rotation of edge defenders for the Tide. He's incredibly toolsy: long-armed, quick and fluid, with the athleticism to string together multiple moves. He's at his best when extending an arm to keep his blocker at bay and then countering with some secondary move. Lewis is lean and can get steam-rolled in run defense, though he's effective in pursuit and can drop into coverage without needing Google Maps to guide him.
A strong Senior Bowl week solidified Lewis' status as a high-upside prospect. If his injuries are behind him and he can add a little mass to his 6'5", 262-pound frame without losing quickness, he could develop into a double-digit-sack producer. There's some risk involved, but the Rams have to incur a little risk to get the kind of players they need to return to contention.
85. Indianapolis Colts
Julian Blackmon, S, Utah
Strengths: Downhill style, open-field speed
Weaknesses: Instincts, on-ball play
Blackmon is a long, lean converted cornerback who played mostly deep safety for the Utes. He's at his best when attacking downhill and blowing up plays in front of him. He recorded nine interceptions and plenty of pass breakups throughout his collegiate career, but his on-ball play is inconsistent. He sometimes loses track of the ball in flight and allows deep receptions, which is a huge no-no for a free safety.
Blackmon has the traits to compete for a role as a free safety/matchup corner. This is a reach pick for a Colts team that has more immediate needs in the secondary.
86. Buffalo Bills
Zack Moss, RB, Utah
Strengths: Power and finish, jukes and open-field running, receiving skills
Weaknesses: Speed, workload, injury concerns
Moss is a careening, violent runner who welcomes comparisons to Marshawn Lynch.
"I've heard people say, just by looking at me, they want to get into a cold tub," he said at the combine.
And that scouting report came from an NFL team, according to Moss, not an adoring fan.
There's more to Moss' game than broken tackles. Once he gets in the open field, he possesses the burst to breeze past defenders and plenty of button-mashing moves to elude them. The results are lots of explosive runs, although Moss could be more consistent with his use of power. He gets bottled up in short-yardage situations, and he also has a bad habit of running with his shoulders parallel to the sideline when bouncing plays to the outside, making him easy pickings when the defense strings out the play.
Moss worked out through a tweaked hamstring at the combine (hence his 4.65-second 40) and missed part of 2018 with a knee injury. Lots of touches + lots of contact + little injuries during a workout = a real concern about his potential shelf life. But at his best, Moss could be like former Texans running back Arian Foster: almost as powerful as Beast Mode, but more reliable in the passing game and less unpredictable after the whistle blows.
It should go without saying that Moss is a natural fit for the Bills, who want to hammer opponents between the tackles to set up Josh Allen play-action moon launches.
87. New England Patriots
Anfernee Jennings, LB/Edge, Alabama
Strengths: Size, pass-rushing technique, leadership traits
Weaknesses: Speed and quickness
Jennings was a stand-up edge-rusher for the Tide who dropped into coverage now and then. He's powerfully built, uses his hands well and has an effective jab-step move to work inside when rushing the passer. However, it takes some imagination and a little optimism to see him as a multipurpose linebacker, as he's a lumbering open-field runner whose coverage technique consists of dropping into a zone and hoping for the best.
Jennings was a team captain in 2019, and he has a high leadership-character-effort reputation. He projects as a situational edge-rusher for most teams, though the Patriots always have their own agenda with players like Jennings.
The Patriots are acting as though they didn't lose the greatest player of all time in free agency this offseason. Maybe that's hubris. Maybe it's wisdom. Either way, it looks like Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham are indeed going to be their quarterbacks for 2020. Expect a slight downgrade at the position.
88. Cleveland Browns
Jordan Elliott, DT, Missouri
Strengths: Power, short-area quickness
Weaknesses: Consistency, productivity
Elliott is a rectangularly built 302-pounder who anchors the point of attack like a henge and can suddenly disengage from blocks to make tackles within his phone booth. He's stout enough to handle double-teams and quick enough to have some impact as a pass-rusher. However, Elliott recorded only 5.5 sacks in two seasons as a regular for the Tigers. Double-teams and scheme assignments played a role, but Elliott looked ordinary and blockable for long stretches.
Elliott is a safe, low-volatility pick. At worst, he'll be a useful rotational space-eater in the middle; at best, he'll be a solid 1-tech tackle who won't light up the stat sheet but will do the dirty work. This isn’t a splashy pick, but the Browns are often better off avoiding splashes.
89. Minnesota Vikings
Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
Strengths: Length, vision in zone coverage
Weaknesses: Run support
Per the Sports Info Solutions Rookie Scouting Handbook, opponents threw at Dantzler only 28 times in 2019. He allowed 14 completions but broke up 11 plays.
College cornerback stats can be tricky to interpret, but if opponents only throw your way two or three times per game and you are almost as likely to break up the pass as allow a completion, you are probably doing a bang-up job.
Dantzler is 6'2", fundamentally smooth and quick to diagnose what's happening in front of him. He's an aggressive tackler who crashes hard off the edge when blitzing, but he's lean and has linguine calves (though he's well-built overall), making him easy for blockers to truck.
Dantzler's coverage chops appear to be NFL-ready, and he should develop quickly into a capable starter.
Dantzler and first-round pick Jeff Gladney are an upgrade over what Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes were but a downgrade from what Rhodes and Waynes were supposed to be. The Vikings will take it, mostly because it’s the best they can do.
90. Houston Texans
Jonathan Greenard, Edge, Florida
Strengths: Quickness, footwork, effort
Weaknesses: Block shedding
Greenard really impressed me at the Senior Bowl. In one two-play sequence of full-squad drills, he "sacked" Justin Herbert (you can't hit a quarterback in practice, but you can whiz past him menacingly) and then stuffed a running back in the hole on the next play. He also got the better of some top linemen in pit drills.
Greenard lost the 2018 season to a wrist injury after transferring from Louisville, and he played with a heavily wrapped hand for much of his final season, which may have limited his ability to fend off blockers. He still recorded 10 sacks, but three of them came against Florida State, which barely counts. (Sorry, Noles fans. That offensive line is a comedy routine.)
Greenard may have untapped upside as a sack producer. This is an excellent pick. The Texans are doing very well with the picks they have.
91. New England Patriots
Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA
Strengths: Route running
Asiasi hauled in 44 passes for 641 yards and four touchdowns for the Bruins last year after transferring from Michigan in 2017 and playing a limited role in 2018. He aces the eyeball test and is a polished route-runner with excellent footwork and body control at the top of his stem.
Asiasi faces a typical problem heading into the NFL: He blocks like a big slot receiver but doesn't quite run and catch like one. He's unique enough as a route-runner to merit a long look to see if he can turn into an Eric Ebron type.
This is exactly the sort of tight end the Patriots usually don’t draft because they value blocking so much at the position. There are at least five better, more versatile tight end prospects still available.
92. Baltimore Ravens
Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas
Strengths: Speed, toughness, ball tracking
Weaknesses: Height, quickness
Duvernay is built like a third-down back: He's 5'10" with a thick lower body and a low center of gravity. The Longhorns used him as a slot receiver and trick-play threat (reverses, some option passes), but he isn't the wiggly jitterbug his measurements would indicate.
Duvernay is at his best when stretching the seam and running deep sideline-breaking routes from the slot, where he can gain separation and use his ability to track over-the-shoulder throws to compensate for his lack of size. It's an odd assortment of traits.
Duvernay's upside may be Albert Wilson, who has proved to be a serviceable big-play threat for the Chiefs and Dolphins. He'll fit the Ravens offense nicely since he'll get chances to slip past the safeties on read-options.
This isn't a bad pick at all, but the Ravens needed receiver help earlier.
93. Tennessee Titans
Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State
Strengths: Quickness, elusiveness
Weaknesses: Power, decisiveness
Evans was a big winner at the combine, running a 4.41-second 40 with competitive jumping results (125" broad jump and 37" vertical jump). He's a compact, determined runner who racked up 1,480 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns last season with huge games against opponents like Charlotte (234 yards, three touchdowns) and Texas State (154 yards, three touchdowns) and pretty good games against stiffer competition like South Carolina (23 carries for 85 yards).
Evans is crafty in the open field and can weave through traffic and battle through arm tackles when he gets to the second level. But he's quick to bounce plays to the outside, gets bottled up in the backfield too often, isn't as useful in the passing game as a rusher of his type should be (21 receptions last year) and has a duck-the-head-and-lunge blocking style.
Evans has some NFL traits, but he needs a lot of refinement to become anything more than a fringe player. The Titans surely see him as the lightning to Derrick Henry’s thunder. It could very well happen. But they also could have just drafted a kickoff returner.
94. Green Bay Packers
Josiah Deguara, TE, Cincinnati
Strengths: Quickness, blocking effort
Weaknesses: Lack of size-speed traits
Deguara looks like a natural fit as a role-playing H-back/fullback in the NFL. He's a pesky, quick-footed blocker who can be effective on outside zones or when lead-blocking. He has the hands to be useful in the flat and enough athleticism to turn upfield and make things happen if the defense forgets about him.
Deguara's upside is strictly limited, but if the Packers are looking for an Andy Janovich type, they might have just found one. Why they would be looking for a Janovich type is the third-biggest mystery of the Packers' draft so far.
95. Denver Broncos
McTelvin Agim, DT, Arkansas
Strengths: Short-area quickness, burst
Weaknesses: Technique, consistency
Agim recorded 9.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss in his final two Razorbacks seasons and also forced six career fumbles. He's a 309-pounder with sudden short-area quickness who can win with his first two steps and then explode into the ball-carrier or quarterback, often ripping the ball free with a powerful swat. However, those big plays are often scattered among long stretches of invisibility.
Agim is the sort of player NFL teams draft because they believe they can get the most out of his best traits. Based on that reasoning, he has high upside, especially on a stacked Broncos defensive line. He's perhaps a bit of a reach, but the Broncos are now in position to gamble a bit on potential.
96. Kansas City Chiefs
Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
Strengths: Massive size, quick feet
Weaknesses: Dad bod, injury concerns
Niang looks so much like former TCU tackle Marcus Cannon that I had flashbacks while watching his tape. Both are chunky dudes who don't carry their weight very well, but both possess some quickness and can flatten opponents. Niang has some skills (like a smooth short set) that reveal he is far more athletic than he looks, but a 2019 hip injury is a yellow flag for a man of his size.
Cannon was slowly molded into a quality starter by the best coaching staff on earth in Foxborough. Andy Reid is pretty darn good at molding offensive linemen too, particularly bad-body types. This is a fine depth-and-future selection.
97. Cleveland Browns
Jacob Phillips, LB, LSU
Strengths: Downhill style, productivity
Weaknesses: Block-shedding, lack of elite traits
Phillips led the national champions with 56 solo tackles and 113 total tackles last year, ahead of fellow linebacker Patrick Queen (drafted on Thursday by the Ravens) and safety Grant Delpit (drafted earlier by the Browns). He's well-built and was at his best when attacking one of the many gaps in the line of scrimmage created by the LSU defensive line or when making pursuit tackles.
However, Phillips can get caught flat-footed in the open field, gets wired to blocks and lacks the size-athleticism combination of a top three-down linebacker. He projects as a backup, but his hustle and sound tackling style should make him a useful special teamer.
98. Baltimore Ravens
Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State
Strengths: Stack-and-shed ability, box play
Weaknesses: Range and coverage speed
Just a few more picks, folks. Remember: No matter how sleepy you are, Roger Goodell is even sleepier.
Harrison, a Columbus native and two-year starter for the Buckeyes, is a traditional box middle linebacker. He diagnoses running plays quickly, maintains his assignment, takes on blockers and does all of the little things that make high school coaches misty-eyed. He does just enough to get by in coverage—he's alert in underneath zones and can cover a fullback or big tight end man-to-man if called upon—and can provide some pass-rushing heat off the edge as the complement to a Chase Young type.
Harrison will probably be a two-down linebacker for the Ravens. There's still a role for in-the-box thumpers at the NFL level, but it's rarely a starring role.
99. New York Giants
Matt Peart, OT, UConn
Strengths: Size/arms, footwork, potential
Weaknesses: Power, hands
Great arms but bad hands: If that isn't peak scouting jargon, we don't know what is! Peart had the longest arms of any lineman at the Senior Bowl or combine at 36⅝". The long arms, coupled with a smooth kick-slide in pass protection, allowed him to corral most of the mid-major edge-rushers he faced. But he lacks a rugged initial punch when engaging defenders, which both negates his power when run-blocking and can allow NFL-caliber pass-rushers to dictate their moves to him.
Peart gets an A-plus on the eyeball test, but he played for a woeful Huskies program and wasn't tested much. Many opponents just blitzed from the other side of the field or sent a sacrificial defender to take Peart wide so a blitzer could work inside him. He has one or two traits of an All-Pro tackle, and that makes him a sound value in this round for a Giants team that needs all the help it can get on the offensive line.
100. Las Vegas Raiders
Tanner Muse, S, Clemson
Strengths: Size, speed, instincts
Weaknesses: Change-of-direction quickness
The first three words of Muse's NFL.com scouting report read "slow-footed safety," and NFL.com wasn't alone in suggesting he was slow. However, he ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at 227 pounds at the combine. And that isn't just track speed which can't be seen on tape: Check the 2:17 mark of this cut-up of the Fiesta Bowl, and you'll see Muse chase down Ohio State's J.K. Dobbins from 10 yards behind for a shoestring tackle. Speed is not an issue for him.
The rest of that NFL.com scouting report checks out, though. Muse makes plays all over the field but lacks change-of-direction quickness and can get pushed around by blockers at times. But 227-pound safeties with sub-4.5 speed and the instincts to diagnose plays and get to the ball are worth a look, no matter the nitpicks (and big whiffs) on the scouting report.Muse is a solid value late in the third round.
101. New England Patriots
Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech
Strengths: Blocking, hands
Keene played a conventional, old-fashioned tight end role for the Hokies. He lined up next to a tackle, blocked on running plays (and many passing plays) and caught tight end screens and short passes over the middle.
He's a solid blocker by college tight end standards, has reliable hands and rumbles hard up the field when he turns the corner after a catch. He's no speedster or route-running technician, however, and most of his big plays were schemed up by misdirection, "leak" routes and such.
Blocking skills could keep Keene in the NFL for a while, but he has limited upside.
That’s two one-dimensional tight ends for the Patriots. It’s almost as if they think they still have Gronk and merely need to draft some backups. At least this one can block.
102. Pittsburgh Steelers
Alex Highsmith, Edge, Charlotte
Strengths: Hands, alertness, intangibles
Weaknesses: Mass and anchor
Highsmith had an eye-opening game in the 49ers' blowout loss against Clemson: He sacked backup quarterback Chase Brice, nearly got to Trevor Lawrence a few times (once after using a deft spin move on his blocker) and consistently got the better of Clemson's left tackles and tight ends. If that's what he did against a powerhouse, you can imagine what he did against Charlotte's typical competition: He had a monstrous 4.5-sack game against Old Dominion, and other opponents often gave him the Chase Young treatment.
Most lower mid-major edge-rusher prospects win by being the best athlete on the field and beating sluggish small-program offensive linemen in the first two steps after the snap. Highsmith is a fine athlete with excellent initial quickness, but his calling cards are a strong punch and NFL-caliber ability to disengage from blocks, plus the awareness and reaction quickness to diagnose misdirection and find the ball-carrier after options. That's a typical SEC skill set, as opposed to a Conference USA skill set.
Highsmith may start his career as a situational edge-rusher, and he may always need to be protected at the point of attack in the running game. But the combination of refined technique and athleticism makes him an intriguing, high-upside prospect. A classic Steelers selection: When in doubt, grab an edge-rusher with tools.
103. Philadelphia Eagles
Davion Taylor, LB, Colorado
Taylor was raised according to the Seventh-day Adventist faith, and his family strictly kept Friday evenings and Saturdays as the Sabbath. That prevented Taylor from playing high school football. He ran track instead, and he then worked his way up from the JUCO ranks after his family gave him their blessing to pursue football.
For a still-inexperienced defender, Taylor handled a lot of responsibilities for the Buffaloes defense. He was officially a "Will" linebacker, but he covered slot receivers, was given some A-gap blitz assignments and would split wide when opponents spread the field for tunnel screens. Taylor is still raw when it comes to engaging blocks and other important details, and it's a stretch to think he can cover top slot receivers at the NFL level, but he's fast, rangy and explosive when he's close to the ball.
Taylor has sky-high upside and isn't quite the novice that his background suggests. Look for him to start on special teams but quickly grow into (at least) a productive nickel linebacker. This is a solid pick for an Eagles team that always seems a little short when it comes to athleticism at linebacker. At least they didn’t draft another quarterback.
104. Los Angeles Rams
Terrell Burgess, S, Utah
Strengths: Speed, instincts and preparation
Weaknesses: Size/frame, quickness
Like teammate Julian Blackmon (drafted earlier in this round by the Colts), Burgess is a cornerback-turned safety. He's more versatile than Blackmon, having spent more time in the box and in a slot role, and he blazed a 4.46-second 40 at the combine at 202 pounds. Burgess' speed is most evident in pursuit, where he hustles down a lot of plays from the far side of the field. He's adequate in coverage but is a little lean, and he lacks ideal change-of-direction speed.
Pure speed, high grades for his film work and intangibles and some positional versatility make him worth a look as a dime defender. With that said, plenty of guys in this draft class are selling similar services.
105. New Orleans Saints
Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton
Strengths: Athleticism, receiving skills
Weaknesses: Level-of-competition concerns
Trautman is a lot like Dallas Goedert, the South Dakota State tight end who the Eagles drafted in the second round in 2018. Like Goedert, Trautman is a small-town, small-school, multisport athlete whose basketball skills are evident when he adjusts to a bad pass, high-points the ball or makes plays in traffic.
Both Goedert and Trautman were often the best player on the field at their level of competition, which makes evaluation tricky, and both were high-effort blockers, which is not the same as being great blockers. I profiled Goedert before the draft and spoke to Trautman extensively at the Senior Bowl, and both are engaging, likeable dudes with the temperament to thrive in an NFL environment.
Goedert had an up-and-down early career until the Eagles ran out of wide receivers last year and needed him to play a bigger role in the offense. He then responded with productive, impressive games down the stretch and in the playoffs. Coaching, scheme and patience matter for players like Goedert and Trautman, who can get buried if they don't develop as blockers or drop their first deep-seamer.
Of course, Trautman just landed in one of the best offensive environments in the NFL.
The Saints traded up to add Trautman and Zack Baun today. Those are the kind of aggressive moves that have kept them in Super Bowl contention throughout Drew Brees’ late career.
106. Baltimore Ravens
Tyre Phillips, G/T, Mississippi State
Strengths: Basically a bulldozer
Weaknesses: Moves laterally like one, too
Nothing could be more Ravens than picking four players in the third round. And being the Ravens, they got four pretty darn good ones.
Phillips is so big that he shows up on USGS maps, and he's roughly as wide as he is tall. He's overpowering when moving in a straight line, and he was able to get by as a left tackle for the Bulldogs because defenders needed two bus transfers to get around him.
However, Phillips' lateral quickness and agility will always be limitations. He stumbles and bumbles when trying to pull-block or maneuver. With that said, Phillips should be effective enough at Hulk Smash tactics to develop into a serviceable guard who fits the Ravens’ power-oriented scheme.