We’re entering the final rounds of the NFL Draft, but there’s still plenty of buzz to sort through.
Some notes to explain a little more on where we are with the draft winding down …
• Alabama LB Dylan Moses started Day 3 still looking for a home, despite at one point having been looked at as a first-round type of athlete—he’s the same dude who had an eighth-grade highlight tape go viral in 2012, was ranked as a consensus Top 15 recruit in the high school class of 2017 and earned playing time right away with the best college program in the country. So what happened? Basically, his progress flat-lined. He hasn’t gotten a whole lot better over the last four years, and that sort of thing can make teams wonder if there’s anything more in his game. There’s still upside there. But not many people figured Moses would be in this spot three years ago.
• Ohio State DB Shaun Wade is another interesting case. When he decided to return for his fourth year in Columbus, after his third year ended on the infamous targeting call on Trevor Lawrence in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl, many believed he’d become the eighth Buckeye corner in a stretch of eight drafts to go in the first round. Part of his decision to come back to school was to show the NFL he could play outside corner. But once he got out there, he struggled, lacking the suddenness to play on the perimeter. And his stock plummeted. So now, it’ll be interesting to see who gets him—with his value probably in the slot corner/safety hybrid role his played during a stellar 2019 campaign.
• Tennessee G Trey Smith is someone to root for today. He suffered from blood clots in his lungs earlier in his time in college, and as such medical concerns have led to teams shying away a bit. But when he’s played, and he hasn’t missed a game in two years, he’s been really good. (How teams handle these sorts of things can vary depending on how their doctors see it effecting a player like Smith’s chances at NFL longevity.)
• As for the quarterbacks, Notre Dame’s Ian Book (fellow Domer Brady Quinn and I discussed him on the podcast, and Quinn sees him as a Colt McCoy type in the pros) might be the next one drafted—but it could be a while. I don’t believe any of the remaining QBs (Arkansas’ Felipe Franks, Texas’ Sam Ehlinger, etc.) are guaranteed of being selected, in part because once you get into the fifth round, really, it becomes a crapshoot.
• Jabril Cox, the LSU safety/linebacker, has a slipped a little, and could be an interesting hybrid for someone (he was a superstar at the FCS level for North Dakota State before transferring). I think what hurts him is what hurt Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who fell to Cleveland in the second round with teams having trouble placing him positionally in an NFL defense.
• Someone who knows Urban Meyer pretty well joked with me after the first round that new Jaguars coach was just going to keep picking off Clemson players, but there was a point he made there that rung true—Meyer knows Dabo Swinney’s program well, and how most of the players who’ve come from it have been high-character people. So it makes sense that he’d comfortable laying the foundation for his program with prospects like that.
• Speaking of that first round for Jacksonville, Travis Etienne joined Najee Harris and Javonte Williams in again illustrating the new sweet spot for top tailbacks in the NFL draft. This year, like last year, three went in the 24-45 range. Five went in that area back in 2018.
• I wouldn’t make much of the Davis Mills pick, re: Deshaun Watson. The Texans really only have Tyrod Taylor at the position, absent Watson, and Taylor’s on a one-year deal. They were going to have to get one somewhere, and that was where the second tier at the position was coming of the board. And besides, if you think a pick in the 60s is going affect a massive organizational decision like the one facing the Texans, in what to do at the position given all that’s happened, well, then we’ll just have to disagree.
• While we’re on the quarterbacks, new Buccaneer Kyle Trask might’ve been the most polarizing guy in the class. Some thought he was an intriguing developmental guy, others thought he wouldn’t project to the NFL at all. I can say this, the place he went—Bruce Arians’ Tampa—is about as ideal a fit as Trask was going to find in the pros.
• Thanks to everyone for following along the last three days! It’s a busy, stressful time, but I still love the draft like I did when I was 12 years old. And I appreciate all of you coming along for the ride.
More NFL Draft Coverage:
• Orr: Is Urban Meyer ready for Trevor Lawrence?
• Orr: Drafting Trey Lance will define Kyle Shanahan’s legacy
• Vrentas: The Patriots’ Post-Brady Era Begins Now