Best 2020 Undrafted Free Agent Landing Spots

255 players were drafted into the NFL over the weekend. The draft process hardly ends there though. Dozens of players immediately sign with teams as undrafted free agents. While most fail to make a meaningful impact, there have been plenty that have gone on to be great players. Tony Romo, Priest Holmes, John Randle, Kurt Warner, Warren Moon, Wes Welker, Antonio Gates and many more went on to have great, and in some cases, Hall of Fame careers.

More recently, Austin Ekeler, Phillip Lindsay, Charvarius Ward, Corey Littleton, Taysom Hill and Matt Breida all never had their name called during the draft, but went on to carve out roles in the league. Lindsay reached the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Ward just won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs. Every year, there is someone that slipped through the cracks and goes on to wow the league. Here are some of the players best positioned to achieve that kind of success from this year’s crop of undrafted free agents.

Washington made up logoThaddeus Moss, TE, LSU – Washington
Randy Moss’ son does not possess the same type of athletic ability as his father, but Thad Moss has the makings of a solid possession receiver. He caught 47 passes from Joe Burrow this season en route to a national title and showed his ability to make plays on the biggest stage with two touchdowns in the championship game against Clemson. He lacks elite speed, but he definitely has the chops to help out in the passing game. Given that Washington seems set to enter the season with Jeremy Sprinkle as their starting tight end, there is potential that Moss could earn playing time as early as this year.

Jets logoJavelin Guidry, CB, Utah – New York Jets
The Jets did take a corner in this draft in Bryce Hall, and I love that pick. However, there isn’t a ton of depth in this group that mostly just features Colts castoffs. Guidry is a track star who ran a 4.29 40 at the combine. Reminder that Henry Ruggs ran a 4.27. I’m surprised that no one decided to take a flier on him. He is a bit undersized at 5’9″, but he has a good shot to make the roster and compete for maybe a role as their dime corner or a special teams role.

Seahawks logoAaron Fuller, WR, Rhode Island – Seattle Seahawks
One of my favorite sleepers in this draft, I think Fuller could be the latest unheralded prospect to find success in Seattle. He has really impressive body control and there are some already comparing him to Doug Baldwin. There are definitely some things he will have to overcome from a traits perspective. He has smaller than average hands and slightly shorter arms. I think he could have some issues catching the ball away from his body at the next level, but he did it really well in college. If he can adjust to the game speed, I think he has a chance to make the roster and eventually become a contributor.

Browns logoA.J. Green, CB, Oklahoma State – Cleveland Browns
Picture this. The Browns are facing the Bengals. Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams are both out due to injury (something that happened a few times in 2019) and Cleveland needs someone to cover Cincinnati’s top receiving threat. And that is how we get our first A.J. Green vs. A.J. Green matchup. Fun scenario’s aside, the former Oklahoma State corner is big and physical. He didn’t always win his matchup at the Senior Bowl, but he did not back down from anyone. Green regularly battled with the best receivers in this class during that practice week and I liked what I saw. He is definitely a little underdeveloped from a technique standpoint, but I think his physical traits are good enough for him to make the roster and provide some important depth at the position.

Cowboys logoFrancis Bernard, LB, Utah – Dallas Cowboys
I like my Utah defensive players. Bernard has impressive lateral quickness and is very comfortable in coverage. He is also really good at shedding blocks and has the ability to contribute as a situational blitzer. His biggest knocks are his size and his tackling, the latter being something he will need to improve upon if he wants to make the roster. He should provide some really good depth though and might even be able to work his way into the lineup for some sub-packages in obvious passing situations. Given the injuries Dallas has had at the position in recent years, Bernard could end up being valuable.

Lions LogoHunter Bryant, TE, Washington – Detroit Lions
One year after drafting T.J. Hockenson in the first round and signing Jesse James in free agency, the Lions are set at the position for the time being. I still really like the move to grab a high-upside player like Bryant. He had 852 yards receiving this year at Washington and was a finalist for the Mackey Award. He is definitely a flex option rather than an inline blocker, but he gives the team some flexibility going forward. James’ contract has an out after this season if Detroit decides they want to save some money.

Packers logoStanford Samuels, CB, Florida State – Green Bay Packers
Not seeing Samuels drafted was a big surprise. I thought he would come off the board some time in round five. He doesn’t possess blazing speed, but he has good size at 6’1″ and looked very comfortable in coverage at Florida State. He was an All-ACC honorable mention his final year in school and had six interceptions over the past two seasons. I think he has a good shot to make the roster as a developmental corner.

Colts logoRodrigo Blakenship, K, Georgia – Indianapolis Colts
Yeah we can put kickers on here! One year after watching Father Time finally catch up with Adam Vinatieri, the Colts will be auditioning new kickers. Blakenship is something of a folk hero after his career at Georgia. He never missed an extra point in college and made 80 of 97 career field goal attempts during his four years as the starter. He has a powerful leg which will translate well to the next level. If he can find a way to get back to the level he was at during his sophomore year when he made 87 percent of his kicks, the Colts will have found themselves a great kicker.

Jaguars logoJames Robinson, RB, Illinois State – Jacksonville Jaguars
With rumors that Leonard Fournette is unsettled in Jacksonville and no clear succession plan in place, I think Robinson has a good chance to make the roster. He was one of the best backs in all of FCS last year. He is north-south runner who can catch the ball out of the backfield and pass block as well. Robinson tore up the East-West Shrine Bowl during the pre-draft process. Don’t be surprised if he is getting some touches this season if Fournette ends up elsewhere.

Eagles LogoAdrian Killins, RB, UCF – Philadelphia Eagles
Another East-West Bowl participant, I think Killins fits well in what the Eagles like to do offensively. He has a very slight build, but he has good vision and the speed to bounce any play to the outside and pick up extra yardage. I can see Philly using him as a third-down back similar to what they used to do with Darren Sproles. Killins needs to improve his hands if he really wants to lock down that role, but he has the agility and instincts to thrive in it if he does.

Way-Too-Early 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Five QBs go in Round 1

Welcome to the class of 2021! Yes it is definitely really early for me to be starting work on this, but this is usually just a fun way to introduce some of the best prospects heading into the upcoming college football season. The current draft order is based on Super Bowl odds from Caesar’s Sportsbook. If you don’t like where your team is picking, you can take it up with them.

This looks like it has the makings to be a special class with some great quarterbacks and another group of talented wide receivers. Let’s get started!

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1. Jacksonville Jaguars (250-1) – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
If Jacksonville is picking here next year, it’s probably because the Gardner Minshew sequel was not as good as the original. Trevor Lawrence is the clear top prospect heading into the 2021 season. He struggled in the national championship game, but that should not overshadow two years of relative dominance while leading a team to back-to-back title games, winning one of them. He could be a franchise-altering player for the Jaguars.

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2. Washington (150-1) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Much like Jacksonville, if Washington ends up picking in the top two, I don’t see Dwayne Haskins’ job being safe. He wasn’t drafted by this current regime and if you can upgrade at quarterback, you have to. Fields is a dynamic athlete with a strong arm and lots of impressive film. He will compete with Lawrence for the top spot in this draft class. He would give Ron Rivera a franchise quarterback to go with the star pass rusher he just drafted. The Columbus to D.C. pipeline is taking shape.

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3. Carolina Panthers (125-1) – Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
I have to admit I am surprised to see the Panthers picking in the top three, but Vegas knows best. This would give Carolina a chance to continue building a stout defense by adding the best pass rusher in this draft. Rousseau recorded the second most sacks in the country in 2019, trailing only Chase Young. That was his first year of college ball as well after redshirting his first season. Another dominant season would lock him into the top five.

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4. Miami Dolphins (100-1) – J’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Dolphins have their franchise quarterback. Now it is time to get an elite weapon for him to work with in the passing game. DeVante Parker seems to be making strides, but J’Marr Chase was the best college receiver in America as a sophomore. It will be interesting to see how Chase does with a quarterback other than Joe Burrow. His talent alone should stand out though. Even when his number inevitably dip, he will be worthy of a top-five selection.

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5. Cincinnati Bengals (100-1) – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
There was some buzz around the Bengals looking to find an offensive tackle in the 2020 draft. With Jonah Williams set to make his debut, it probably won’t be a huge need, but if you can protect your young quarterback, that seems like a worthwhile investment. Sewell would have been the top tackle selected this year if he had been eligible. He spent the past two seasons protecting Justin Herbert’s blindside very effectively. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him going even earlier than this next April.

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6. New York Jets (100-1) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Jets fans are excited about landing Denzel Mims in the second round of the 2020 draft. If he has a stellar rookie season, perhaps this won’t be a big need for the team, but the receivers room is still lacking talent in New York. Jaylen Waddle is an electric burner at Alabama and would be an impact player for Sam Darnold. He is dangerous in the open field and projects better to the NFL than his teammate DeVonta Smith given his size. Still, you should expect it to be another year where two Alabama receivers go in the first round.

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7. Detroit Lions (60-1) – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Give Bob Quinn some credit. He put together a solid draft class for the Lions. Detroit added some potential difference makers on defense through both the draft and free agency, but still needs a long-term solution at linebacker. Parsons and Alabama’s Dylan Moses will be vying for the top spot in these positional rankings, but I will give the edge to the Penn State star. He is a sure tackler that comes without Moses’ injury history. That Lions defense would have two really great building blocks in Parsons and Jeff Okudah.

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8. Arizona Cardinals (60-1) – Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
No question about it, this is not the biggest need for the Cardinals. They traded for former Clemson star DeAndre Hopkins and have some developing options in Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella. Larry Fitzgerald is going to retire eventually (right?) and at that point, I think Kliff Kingsberry will be looking to find another top flight receiver to pair with Hopkins. Ross made waves as a freshman for making some spectacular catches in Clemson’s rout of Alabama in the National Championship game. He plays in one of the most loaded receiving groups in the country as well. Based on his talent, this would be great value for Arizona.

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9. Atlanta Falcons (60-1) – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
It was maybe the worst-kept secret around this draft that the Falcons wanted help at corner. They might have reached a bit on A.J. Terrell in the first round. Even if he turns out to be a solid starter, the team could definitely use more help at the position. Patrick Surtain II’s name is familiar because his father was a three-time Pro Bowler with the Dolphins during the early 2000s. The younger Surtain is the latest Alabama corner to catch scouts’ attention. He has the prototypical size and speed to excel in the NFL and faces top competition regularly for the Tide.

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10. Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans (55-1) – Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
Miami loaded up on offensive line help and grabbed a high-upside corner after selecting Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 draft. Now it is time to add more talent to the front seven. As I mentioned earlier, Moses has some injury questions he will have to answer after missing the entire 2019 season with at torn ACL. However, if you go back to his sophomore year, you will see a leader on the Alabama defense capable of making plays at the line and holding his own in coverage. The Dolphins loaded up on ex-Patriots linebackers in free agency, but they could use a young prospect to rebuild that position group around.

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11. New York Giants (50-1) – Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
The Giants will be disappointed to see both Parsons and Moses off the board already. They could use some help at linebacker. However, this is shaping up to be another great receiving class and New York should take advantage. While Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are both productive receivers, this group seems to lack a go-to playmaker. Moore tore up the Big Ten as a freshman in 2018. He seemed set to do it again in 2019 before injuries derailed his season. He is definitely a bit undersized at just 5’9″, but he is a game-changing player. That is something the Giants need to find for Daniel Jones to reach his full potential.

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12. Chicago Bears (50-1) – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Given his struggles in his third season, the Bears seem reluctant to commit to Mitch Trubisky. They traded for Nick Foles to provide some immediate competition, but it feels like the Bears are ready to find a new prospect to develop. Lance comes from the same school that produced Carson Wentz and he dominated the FCS last year. He became the first freshman to win the Walter Payton Award and he also won the Jerry Rice Award. He throws a really nice deep ball and has good zip on his throws. He is also incredibly mobile. Lance definitely needs to work on his pocket presence and footwork, but from an arm talent perspective, it’s all there.

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13. Denver Broncos (50-1) – Walker Little, OT, Stanford
Garrett Bolles has really struggled in Denver. He picks up way too many penalties for the Broncos to feel comfortable paying him when his contract is up. After neglecting the position all together in the 2020 draft, this should be a priority. Little had a strong 2018 season but missed almost the entire 2019 season with a knee injury. With him returning to school for his senior year, he will get the chance to remind everyone why there was buzz about him being a first round pick before he got hurt. He moves well and plays with enough power to anchor down the left side of the line. He would be an upgrade for John Elway and company.

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14. Los Angeles Chargers (45-1) – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
L.A. tabbed Justin Herbert as it’s quarterback of the future. Now it needs to invest in protecting him. They traded away Russell Okung and did not grab a tackle in the 2020 draft, so this feels like the biggest need remaining for the team. Alex Leatherwood was Alabama’s starting left tackle in 2019, but wasn’t protecting Tua Tagovailoa’s blindside because he was a lefty. He played at guard prior to last season, so another year at tackle will be really good for him. By the end of next year’s draft, he could be a plug-and-play option for the Chargers.

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15. Cleveland Browns (35-1) – Xavier Thomas, DL, Clemson
Cleveland put together a strong draft class ready to contribute right away while also building some depth for the future. Without a ton of obvious needs, the Browns can opt for the best player available, which at this point would be Xavier Thomas. Thomas is the latest Clemson defensive lineman capable of being a difference maker at the next level. He is a bit of a tweener, lacking elite speed but also not being big enough to kick inside at 6’2″, 265 pounds. He is really solid against the run though and has shown flashes of being able to generate pressure as a pass rusher. Thomas likely projects best as a 4-3 defensive end and could take over for the aging Olivier Vernon.

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16. Las Vegas Raiders (30-1) – Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
I really liked what the Raiders did in the later rounds of the draft. Unfortunately, I think they reached big time at a position of need with Damon Arnette. In the end, it does not feel like Las Vegas solved it’s lockdown corner problem. Israel Mukuamu reminds me a bit of Noah Iginoghene given his size and speed. Put on his tape against Georgia and you will see the potential for him to become a ballhawking corner capable of shutting down one half of the field. He is massive at 6’4″ and possesses good speed given that size. If he puts together a strong season, he could be the first corner off the board given his intangibles.

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17. Jacksonville Jaguars via Los Angeles Rams (30-1) – Marvin Wilson, DL, Florida State
The direction of the Jaguars as a franchise would take a major U-turn with the addition of Trevor Lawrence. They have a few intriguing pieces to work with, but why stop adding to this defense? Wilson is a local kid who generated some first round buzz before deciding to return to school. He had 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks during his junior campaign. He also only appeared in nine games after a hand injury cut his season short. If he can stay healthy through all 12 games this year, he should put up even better numbers and be in a position to be vying for the top interior lineman off the board.

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18. Tennessee Titans (30-1) – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Full disclosure, I spent a good deal of 2019 mocking running backs to the Titans as well. I know this seems ludicrous given the presence of Derrick Henry, but remember that he is playing on the franchise tag for 2020. Without a deal in place for him to stay in Tennessee, it would not shock me to see the team opt for a young option to anchor their backfield. Replacing one former Alabama back with another seems like a good idea. Harris has not had heavy usage for the Tide given the depth of options they have at the position, but he is easily the most effective and versatile. He caught 27 passes and seven touchdowns in 2019. He has the potential to be a three-down back that would fit well into the Titans’ run-first scheme.

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19. Minnesota Vikings (28-1) – Jay Tufele, DL, USC
Minnesota had one of the best drafts of any team in the league, finding great value and getting some help at much needed positions. That does not leave a ton of weak spots on this roster that I can identify at the moment, so let’s say the Vikings look to upgrade their defensive line. Jay Tufele is built in a similar mold to Derrick Brown. He is big at 305 pounds, but moves well and is capable of generating some pressure. He has 10 tackles for loss through his first two seasons with USC and could be in line for a big year.

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20. Pittsburgh Steelers (28-1) – Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest
It is time for the Steelers to start creating a succession plan to Ben Roethlisberger. Newman played really well in his first full season as a starter at Wake Forest. He has desirable size and arm strength to play the position. He will get a chance to really elevate his status playing in the SEC as a transfer. Having Newman here is mostly assuming that he will take the next step in his development while playing at a big name school to raise his profile. I think his arm talent is enough for Pittsburgh to be interested.

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21. New England Patriots (25-1) – Chase Garbers, QB, California
If it turns out the Patriots do in fact need to draft a quarterback in the first round next season, I have a feeling they will be drafting much earlier than this. I might be a bit higher than most on Garbers, but from what I have seen, I think he can be an NFL quarterback. He uses his legs well both to extend plays and pick up extra yardage when the play breaks down. He doesn’t have the strongest arm in the world, but he throws a decent deep ball and has really good touch on sideline throws. Cal was ranked and undefeated before Garbers went down with an injury last year. In fact, the Golden Bears were actually undefeated in games Garbers started and finished last season. Given his play style, injuries could be a major issue for him. If he can stay healthy and put together another good season, I think he will earn this first round hype.

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22. Indianapolis Colts (25-1) – Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami
You might not be too familiar with Quincy Roche, especially when you see Miami next to his name. He is a transfer from Temple, where he dominated the AAC. He finished fifth in the nation last year in sacks. Coming into a Miami defense that might already boast the best returning pass rusher in the country, Roche could be in for a monster season. The Colts will eventually have to replace Justin Houston and this might be the best chance they get to do that.

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23. Buffalo Bills (25-1) – Creed Humphrey, OL, Oklahoma
Buffalo seems poised to take over in the AFC East with Tom Brady now in Tampa. To do so, they will need to continue building in the trenches. They landed A.J. Epenesa in the second round of the 2020 draft. Finding someone to bolster the interior of their offensive line is the next step. Humphrey is about as solid as they come for interior offensive linemen. He was voted second-team All-American in 2019 and did not allow a sack while starting every game for the Sooners. Given Mitch Morse’s injury history, this is a smart pick. Worst case scenario, the Bills can start Humphrey off at guard.

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24. Philadelphia Eagles (20-1) – Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
It was an interesting draft for the Eagles, who waited a long time to address their secondary. While I really like their pick of Tanner Muse, I think they need another safety to pair with him. Cisco reminds me a bit of a bigger Antoine Winfield Jr. He is a ballhawking safety with a staggering 12 interceptions over the past two seasons. He has a nose for the football as one of Syracuse’s leading tacklers, despite only featuring in nine games last season. He would be a welcome addition to this Eagles secondary.

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25. Green Bay Packers (16-1) – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
I still don’t understand how the Packers completely ignored their need for receivers. They have a bunch of bodies, but not too many reliable targets capable of making plays. Bateman is an all-around playmaker. He is capable of making post up plays in the red zone and high-pointing the ball down the sideline. Bateman has really impressive run after the catch ability as well. He isn’t an elite route runner, but he understands how to get separation. Even if he can’t, he is more than capable of dunk on smaller corners. I think this would be the type of target Aaron Rodgers can get the most out of.

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26. Seattle Seahawks (15-1) – Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
With Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette moving on to the NFL, it will now be Shaun Wade’s job to lead the Ohio State backfield. He could have potentially come out this season and gone in the first two rounds. A return to school with a chance to be the top dog for a program that regularly churns out NFL caliber defensive backs will probably be a great move. The Seahawks do not have much proven depth at corner and might honestly be looking for a starter across from Shaquill Griffin by this time next year. Wade has the size to work in that Seattle system.

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27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-1) – Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
It has been a really long time since we have seen the Buccaneers picking this late in the first round. While Tristan Wirfs seems set to start at right tackle this season with the potential to move to the left side later in his career, Tampa Bay could use some help on the interior of this line. For Tom Brady, and honestly for whoever comes after him, protection is essential. Davis is an athletic road grader who is more than comfortable blocking out in space as well. He would provide a huge boost for this run game and help give Brady all the time he needs to pick defenses apart.

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28. New Orleans Saints (14-1) – Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
The Saints have been rotating through former Giants corners trying to find someone to start across from Marshon Lattimore. With only four selections in the 2020 draft, there was no chance to find a young corner to develop either. New Orleans needs an infusion of young talent at the position. Paulson Adebo is a big, physical corner that most teams in the Pac-12 don’t even bother throwing at any more. Part of that is because they are afraid of Adebo and the other part is because the rest of Stanford’s secondary was brutal in 2019. Had it not been for an injury, I think Adebo would have come out this year and likely gone in the second round. He would give the Saints a much more reliable number two corner.

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29. Dallas Cowboys (13-1) – Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami
Dallas crushed the 2020 draft, probably producing the best class on paper in the league. This team is set up well to compete into the future, but there are still some areas for improvement. Blake Jarwin is a solid tight end, but far from an elite option. Brevin Jordan is an athletic player who can make plays in space. He isn’t used too much as a blocker, but regularly chips pass rushers. When he is used as a blocker, it is usually just for him to eventually release out into the flat on a delayed route. I think he would give the Cowboys a playmaker across the middle of the field.

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30. Baltimore Ravens (8-1) – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Baltimore is another team that pulled in a strong draft class. They landed some great pass catchers this year, but I think the team will have a tough time passing up on another speedy playmaker. DeVonta Smith would help with that. He is small, but incredible fast. It’s not his height (6’1″) that worries about his ability to translate, it’s his frame. He only weighs 175 pounds. I wonder if he would be able to withstand the punishment handed out by some of the harder hitting defensive backs in the league. If he can add about 10 pounds while not sacrificing too much speed, I think Smith will find himself going in the top 20 come next April.

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31. San Francisco 49ers (8-1) – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
After making a Super Bowl run, the 49ers seemed primed for another deep postseason push. With some new additions to the receiving corps and Deforest Buckner’s replacement already on board, San Francisco can afford to target a game-breaking running back. Etienne has incredible speed and elusiveness. He has shown some signs of development as a receiver. If he can do that more in 2019, he will have a shot to be the first running back selected. He would pair really nicely with Raheem Mostert and after trading away Matt Breida, I think the Niners will be interesting in adding to their backfield.

Chiefs Logo32. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1) – Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee
The reigning champs seem poised to defend their title. Brett Veach added a new running back to the mix and found some much-needed help for the secondary. While the Chiefs have some depth at the tackle spots, they could use some new talent on the interior of their offensive line. They have to protect the quarterback they are going to pay after all. Trey Smith has battled through blood clots in his lungs. When he is on the field, he is an All-American caliber guard. He was actually ESPN’s top-rated recruit back in 2017. If he can stay on the field this season, he has a chance to go even earlier than this in the draft.

2020 NFL Draft takeaways: Who crushed it and who missed out?

Draft weekend has officially come to a close. It will go down as the most memorable in history for a laundry list of reasons, starting with Roger Goodell’s ever-changing wardrobe and incredibly comfy chair. 255 players heard their names called and 50 or more so players have signed on as undrafted free agents. I think it way too early to start handing out grades on draft classes. It takes about five years to be able to begin appropriately evaluating how teams did.

That being said, I think we can start handing out some winners and losers tags. Balancing filling team needs with taking the best player available. Some teams did that really well. Others, not so much. Here are the teams that crushed the draft and the teams that could have fared better.

Winners:

Cowboys logoDallas Cowboys
Biggest impact: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma (17th overall)
Best value: Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah (179th overall)
I think it would be hard to qualify the Cowboys as anything other than the winners of this draft. They landed a top-10 talent in CeeDee Lamb at 17, then filled a major need at great value with Trevon Diggs in the second round. Dallas filled another need with Neville Gallimore, who slid into the third. Reggie Robinson is an interesting smaller school prospect to develop with decent size and speed. Tyler Biadasz has the potential to be a starter this season, which is great to find at the end of the fourth round. Travis Fredrick retired this offseason, so that was a huge hole to fill. I had a second-round grade on Bradlee Anae as well, who fell into the fifth. Taking a flier on a developmental quarterback in the seventh is never a bad idea either. Everyone other than Ben DiNucci has the potential to contribute this year. I think the Cowboys scored a really good core to develop.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Arizona Cardinals
Biggest impact: Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson (8th overall)
Best value: Josh Jones, OT, Houston (72nd overall)
Arizona didn’t overthink things with Isaiah Simmons on the board. It definitely wasn’t their biggest need, but he is an incredible defensive playmaker. The Cardinals had no second-round pick because of the DeAndre Hopkins trade. However, all 32 teams would take Hopkins in the second round in a heartbeat. Josh Jones was one of the biggest steals of the draft. His drop to the third round was stunning. Leki Fotu and Rashad Lawrence help beef up the interior of the defensive line. Evan Weaver will contribute on special teams right away and provides solid depth at linebacker. Nabbing local kid Eno Benjamin in the seventh round was another impressive move to work into the backfield rotation. In two years, this roster has been thoroughly turned over.

Bengals LogoCincinnati Bengals
Biggest impact: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (1st overall)
Best value: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson (33rd overall)
Sure they had it easy picking up Joe Burrow, but the Bengals filled some big needs and found solid value down the line. Tee Higgins probably should have gone in the first round and gives Burrow a huge target to grow with. Logan Wilson is quick cover linebacker and no team in the league needed help at the position more than Cincinnati. Akeem Davis-Gaither is a similar player to Wilson, but that isn’t bad thing given how much talent the group lacked. Khalid Kareem should be a rotational player up front capable of eating up plenty of defensive snaps. Hakeem Adeniji is a developmental tackle to work with and Markus Bailey is worth a flier in the seventh. He has some major history, but when healthy, he could be a starting caliber NFL player. There will be a learning curve as the Bengals continue to rebuild, but they have some solid pieces in place now.

Vikings logoMinnesota Vikings
Biggest impact: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU (31st overall)
Best value: Kenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State (255 overall)
Minnesota let the board come to them, traded back well and reloaded at some key positions. Having Justin Jefferson fall to them was a bit of luck, but trading back and still taking Jeff Gladney was a very skillful move. Ezra Cleveland is a tackle prospect worth developing. He might not be totally pro ready, but he is a future starter. Cameron Dantzler, D.J. Wonnum, James Lynch and Troy Dye are all high-upside players who can provide depth right away. Harrison Hand is an intriguing option on the back end as well. I thought K.J. Osborn was a reach, especially given the other receivers on the board. Kenny Willekes and Josh Metellus were very productive starters in college and well worth kicking the tires on in the later rounds. It wasn’t a very sexy draft for the Vikings, but this sets them up well for this season and beyond.

Ravens logoBaltimore Ravens
Biggest impact: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU (28th overall)
Best value: James Proche, WR, SMU (201st overall)
Very few teams draft as consistently well as the Ravens. Patrick Queen is a perfect fit in a massive position of need and J.K. Dobbins adds another dynamic player to potentially the scariest backfield in football. Devin Duvernay and James Proche are instant impact players at receivers that should work well with Lamar Jackson. Justin Mandubuike is a solid prospect to work with on the defensive line and could eventually take over for the 31-year-old Brandon Williams. Malik Harrison plays downhill and could become an extremely disruptive player in a few years. Tyree Phillips and Ben Bredeson offer offensive line depth too. Geno Stone isn’t a flashy player, but he was really good value in the seventh round. Give Eric DeCosta a lot of credit. This has the makings of a very good class that sets them up really well for the future.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay Buccaneers
Biggest impact: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa (13th overall)
Best value: Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota (161st overall)
When filling needs meets finding great value, you tend to have a solid draft. Tristan Wirfs is the perfect player to anchor the right side of the line for Tom Brady. Antoine Winfield Jr. is a ballhawking playmaker who should add some explosiveness to an underrated secondary. Ke’Shawn Vaughn provides another dimension to a Buccaneers backfield that has really struggled in recent years. Tyler Johnson provides great depth at receiver after a stellar career at Minnesota. This team got better at important positions and positioned themselves well to compete this year. I don’t need to explain how important that is with a 44-year-old quarterback.

Losers: 

Eagles LogoPhiladelphia Eagles
Biggest surprise: Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma (53rd overall)
Biggest reach: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU (21st overall)
Now some of this is personal preference, bordering on being a premature grade, but I was not a huge fan of the decisions the Eagles made in this draft. Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson drew a lot of scrutiny and rightfully so. That was one of the biggest surprises of the first round. Philadelphia then had the biggest surprise of round two by taking Jalen Hurts. Carson Wentz has an injury history, but this team was desperate for receivers, corners and linebackers. Finding a sub-package quarterback given the other holes on this roster is questionable at best. Davion Taylor and K’Von Wallace are solid mid-round picks. The Eagles did eventually find receiver depth in John Hightower and Quez Watkins in addition to trading for Marquise Goodwin. They might have also found a steal in Prince Tega Wanogho. Not taking a corner was a big miss though and waiting until the late third round to take a defensive player could cost Philly in the short term.

Packers logoGreen Bay Packers
Biggest surprise: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State (26th overall)
Biggest reach: A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College (62nd overall)
No team’s draft confused me more than the Packers. Coming off an NFC championship appearance, it was clear Green Bay needed some more reliable receivers and an injection of talent at linebacker. Instead, the Packers traded up to take a project quarterback, despite having one of the best passers in the league. Then they drafted a running back in the second round despite having Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams already on the roster. Josiah Deguara and Kamal Martin finally hit on some needs and Green Bay built a lot of offensive line depth in the later rounds. The fact that the front office didn’t draft a single receiver is shocking. In what was the deepest receiver draft in at least a decade, not finding more options for Aaron Rodgers to work with borders on malpractice in football. This was a perplexing approaching by Brian Gutekunst.

Seahawks logoSeattle Seahawks
Biggest surprise: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech (27th overall)
Biggest reach: Damien Lewis, G, LSU (69th overall)
Seattle stayed true to form, reaching in the first round before taking some high-upside prospects to develop later in the draft. Jordyn Brooks is an enticing player, but I had an early third-round grade on him. I think Darrell Taylor could be a good get for the Seahawks, but they reached on Damien Lewis in the third in an attempt to find some more protection for Russell Wilson. I like Alton Robinson in the fifth round, but Freddie Swain came from off the radar with much better prospects on the board. At least Colby Parkinson and DeeJay Dallas should be solid roll players as rookies.

Bears logoChicago Bears
Biggest surprise: Darnell Mooney, WR, Tulane (173rd overall)
Biggest reach: Mooney
It is amazing how different the league feels about the Khalil Mack trade two years later. Given the amount of cap space he takes up and draft capital it took to acquire him, Chicago probably would’ve been better off without the pass rusher. Given that the Bears were already down a first round draft pick, the team decided to take their 10th tight end. Their second pick of the round was much better in Jaylon Johnson at a big position of need. Darnell Mooney was another example of a team passing on better prospects at the position. Kindle Vildor is a really solid add in the fifth, but I can’t get behind waiting to find offensive line help until the seventh round. Chicago just does not seem like it had a great plan in place entering the draft.

Washington made up logoWashington
Biggest surprise: Antonio Gibson, RB, Memphis (66th overall)
Biggest reach: Gibson
It is hard to put Washington in this category after landing a star edge player in Chase Young. However, they didn’t have a great draft after that. With Adrian Peterson, Bryce Love, Derrius Guice and Peyton Barber on the roster, taking a third-down back is a questionable move alone. I didn’t think Antonio Gibson was worth going before the fifth round either. Josh Jones was on the board there, which would have been a great get after not getting a ton in return for Trent Williams. I don’t think Saadiq Charles will be able to fill that void in year one either. There took a couple of fliers on players from big-name programs that often got lost in the shuffle at their respective school. Ron Rivera is a great coach, but I don’t think this set him up super well for success in his first season.

Patriots LogoNew England Patriots
Biggest surprise: Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech (101st overall)
Biggest impact: Justin Rohrwasser, K, Marshall (159th overall)
Dare I put them in this category??? New England is often playing chess while the rest of the league is playing checkers. This year, it felt like the Patriots were trying too hard to out think the rest of the league. Kyle Dugger is raw, but if anyone can get the most of out his skills, it will be Bill Belichick. Josh Uche should also be a solid situational rusher as well. The Pats overdrafted two tight ends and then spent a fifth-round pick on a kicker that it seemed like no one else was even thinking about drafting. Failing to select a quarterback to develop as part of this class is a little surprising as well. I never thought Belichick would be aggressive in finding a passer, but ignoring the position all together seems like a mistake. You know that Dustin Woodard will be a Pro Bowler within two years though undrafted free agent will turn into Jarrett Stidham’s equivalent of Julian Edelman making me look like a fool for ever suggesting they had a bad draft.

2020 NFL Draft: Day 2 surprises and best players available

We are two days in, but still not even halfway through the NFL draft. This class is loaded with talented players that found their NFL homes on Friday. While the first round gets the biggest billing, this is where teams make their money. If you can find value in the middle rounds of the draft, you are going to be a very successful franchise. The teams that do this best (Seattle, New England, Baltimore) seem to always have players ready to step in when injuries strike or players leave in free agency. That’s because they find the diamonds in the rough.

I will talk about my favorite prospects still on the board, but first, let’s talk about some of the most shocking developments from rounds two and three. Check out day one’s biggest surprises here.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma vs UCLA, Sept 14, 2019, Pasadena, CA
Hurts was the runner-up for the Heisman in 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

Eagles take Jalen Hurts
Wait … what??? Philadelphia signed Carson Wentz to a mega-extension worth north of $100 million prior to the 2019 season. So logically, at pick 53, the Eagles selected Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. Sure, the team could use a reliable passer to backup Wentz, who has a history of injuries. However, drafting a quarterback in the second round feels like a very odd decision given the cirumstances. Philly needs help at corner, linebacker and wide receiver, even after taking Jalen Reagor in round one. Howie Roseman has often been one of the general managers capable of finding talent in the later rounds, but his draft plan in 2020 is a mysterious to most outsiders. On back-to-back days, the Eagles made headlines for who they decided to draft, but not for ideal reasons.

Josh Jones slides … again
Well I definitely overestimated how much the NFL would like Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones. I had him going 18th overall to the Dolphins. Instead, he stayed on the board all the way until pick 72 for the Cardinals (who have had a great draft so far if you ask me). He is definitely a little raw, but he is a solid offensive tackle and there are tons of teams who were rumored to be interested in help at the position. He was my fourth-ranked player at the position, but was the eighth selected. This is just one fan’s opinion, but I was shocked to see Jones fall so far. Maybe that’s less of a reflection on him as well. After six offensive tackles went in the first round, only Ezra Cleveland went in round two and Jones was the first one off the board in the third.

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Swift went 35th overall to the Lions on Friday night. (Wikimedia Commons)

Teams reaching on running back
After Clyde Edwards-Helaire went with the last pick of the first round, there was some buzz that we could see a run on running backs. Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift and J.K. Dobbins all went as expected in round two, along with Cam Akers. What was surprising was to see A.J. Dillon and Antonio Gibson come off the board soon after. I like Dillon a lot, but I thought the Packers, once again, had bigger needs at receiver and linebacker. Dillon was still a bit of a ways down my board as well. Gibson was a stunner. I didn’t have him in my top 150 prospects and as my 12th running back overall. I wasn’t alone in the skepticism on Gibson either, Bleacher Report had him 164th overall, 98 spots later than he was selected by Washington. Green Bay’s decision is a bit more forgivable. Washington’s follow up to Chase Young was definitely a bit underwhelming.

Broncos double up on receivers
I applaud Denver for waiting and landing the best receiver in this draft. Getting Drew Lock a receiver to pair with Courtland Sutton made a ton of sense. I think Jerry Jeudy will have a great career in Denver. The surprise here was that then the Broncos dipped back into the position group to take Penn State’s KJ Hamler. Hamler is a speedster out of the slot with tons of big-play ability. I am not a huge fan of him as a prospect given his size and issues with drops. I was surprised to see the Broncos passing on either a corner or offensive lineman (although they did fill both positions later.) I didn’t think Denver really needed another receiver with Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton already in the fold prior to the draft, but they clearly want depth at the position.

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Prior to 2019, the Jets were the only team with which Bill Belichick had never traded. (Wikimedia Commons)

Jets and Patriots make a trade
This definitely caught me by surprise. Very rarely do these franchise negotiate trades, but maybe it really is the sign of a new era in New England. The Jets and Pats actually brokered a trade early in the 2019 season that sent Demaryius Thomas to New York in exchange for a 2021 6th round pick. This latest trade between the two teams that saw the Patriots acquire the 101st pick, which they spent on Virginia Tech tight end Dalton Keene. As part of the deal, the Jets landed two fourth rounders this year and New England’s 2021 sixth-round pick. Believe it or not, the two teams have now just swapped 2021 sixth rounders. If you are still reading at this point, know that I appreciate your love for football and quirky draft nuggets.

Through three rounds, there is a lot of talent still on the board. I actually see a ton of prospects in my top 100 available, 21 to be exact. Considering there have already been 106 selections, I am really positive about the players still on the board. Some quality defensive options, a bunch of lanky receivers and a pair of former Georgia quarterbacks highlight the group. Here are my favorite remaining prospects:

24. Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
52. Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
55. Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
56. John Simpson, G, Clemson
59. Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah
62. Ben Bartch, OT, St. John (Minn.)
65. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
66. Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn
67. Troy Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame
73. Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech
80. Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
81. Leki Fotu, DL, Utah
84. Larrell Murchison, DL, NC State
86. Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
87. Kenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State
88. K’Von Wallace, S, Clemson
89. Thaddeus Moss, TE, LSU
91. Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
92. Ben Bredeson, G, Michigan
93. K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State
100. Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
101. Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
102. Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
104. Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
105. James Lynch, DL, Baylor
106. Logan Stenberg, G, Kentucky
109. Solomon Kindley, G, Georgia
110. Trevon Hill, EDGE, Miami
113. Evan Weaver, LB, California
114. Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF
116. Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State
117. Jason Strowbridge, DL, UNC
123. Quintez Cephus, WR, Wisconsin
124. A.J. Green, CB, Oklahoma State
125. Francis Bernard, LB, Utah

2020 NFL Draft: First-Round Surprises and Best Players Available

That was exactly what everyone in the sports world needed. A nice dose of excitement, chaos and entertainment. Cincinnati, Washington and Detroit kicked the draft off with some predictable picks. After that, nothing was guaranteed. Trades started coming fast and furious in the 20s. Miami and Los Angeles stayed put and took franchise quarterbacks. Tons of wide receivers and corners came off the board, maybe not in the order most expected.

I think it is way too early to start handing out grades for the first round. We can do that a few years from now. (I should really go back and regrade the 2015 draft class.) Instead, let’s discuss the biggest surprises of the first round. There are plenty to discuss, but I think the first one is pretty obvious.

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Rodgers turned 36 in December. (Wikimedia Commons)

Packers trade up for Aaron Rodgers’ successor
Of all the teams to take a chance on Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, I did not have Green Bay anywhere in the conversation. Thinking about it though, this is exactly what the franchise did with Brett Favre towards the end of his career. They saw a talented quarterback sliding and pounced to find their next franchise passer. What makes this so shocking is that Aaron Rodgers has shown no signs of slowing down. This offense is in desperate need of more playmakers. In a draft stocked with them, it felt like a great chance for the Packers to find Rodgers more weapons. Instead, they found the man who will potentially replace him. After being just a game away from the Super Bowl last year, this feels like an odd move. Credit the Green Bay for being forward thinking, but I definitely did not expect this.

Josh Jones’ slide
I had Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones pegged to go at 18 to the Dolphins. He was my 21st overall prospect and my highest remaining offensive lineman. Miami decided to take USC product Austin Jackson. When the Chargers traded back into the first round, I assumed it was for Jones. They opted for Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray. Tennessee had a chance to take Jones as well, but chose a different tackle in Georgia’s Isaiah Wilson. I was just about convinced the Jones would find a home in the first round. He is a bit older at 23, but he is a physical player with solid technique. It would not be a shock to see the Bengals take Jones at 33, but it is unclear when his slide might end at this point.

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Okudah was the highest drafted corner since 1997. (Wikimedia Commons)

Corner craze in round one
I did not think we were going to see six cornerbacks go in the first round. A.J. Terrell at 16 to the Falcons felt like a bit of a reach to me, but I had seen some first-round buzz around him. Damon Arnette to the Raiders 19th overall was truly a stunner. Then, Noah Igbinoghene went to Miami at pick 30. Teams felt like they were reaching a bit at the position, especially given some of the other players available. K’Lavon Chaisson felt like a great fit for Atlanta. Las Vegas passed on a lot of talented corners to take Arnette, who I had 11th at the position. Miami has spent tons of money locking up Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. Igbinoghene is definitely a luxury pick for the Dolphins, who have a ton of draft picks. Pass rusher felt like a bigger need though with some solid players available. I thought there was depth at the position in this draft, but the league went all in much early than expected. Three felt like a safe number to peg with Jeff Okudah, CJ Henderson and Jeff Gladney in the mix. I didn’t expect that number to double. I think there are some really good options still available too with Bryce Hall, Kristian Fulton and Jaylon Johnson still on the board, so this trend might continue.

Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson
I think TCU receiver Jalen Reagor will end up having a solid NFL career, but I think the Eagles missed big time on LSU’s Justin Jefferson, who went a pick later to the Vikings. Reagor plays a bit like former Philadelphia standout DeSean Jackson. He had an uneven 2019 season, but his game speed is impressive. Reagor is definitely a bit undersized, but he posted an outrageous 42-inch vertical at the combine. However, Jefferson is coming off a monster year and is a much better prospect in my opinion. He is really just a bigger, more physical version of Reagor. Jefferson ran a better 40 time, posted better stats and played against much better competition. I think Jefferson would have fit Philly’s system as well. This one left me scratching my head.

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Edwards-Helaire had over 1,800 total yards and 17 TD in 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire as RB1
Between D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins and Jonathan Taylor, I thought Clyde Edwards-Helaire would be at least the second back drafted. I had him as my third running back behind Dobbins and Swift. CEH is a physical runner with the ability to be a receiver out of the backfield as well, even if he doesn’t have blazing speed. He reminds me a lot of Maurice Jones-Drew and feels like a good fit for the Kansas City offense, but I don’t think many people expected him to be the first running back off the board. There is also something to be said for Andy Reid drafting a running back for the first time in his 21-year career as a head coach. Very happy for him after he turned in a great season, but I definitely did not see this coming.

Not really enough to warrant it’s own subhead, but I was very confused by Seattle’s pick of Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks. He is a solid player, but I thought he would go middle of day two and that was definitely not the biggest need for this Seahawks defense.

Best Players Available

Those were the biggest talking points of the night for me. As teams turn their attention to rounds two and three tomorrow, here are my top remaining prospects:

18. Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
20. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
21. Josh Jones, OT, Houston
23. A.J. Epenesa, DL, Iowa
24. Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
26. Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
28. D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
29. Zach Baun, LB, Wisconsin
30. Ross Blacklock, DL, TCU
31. Grant Delpit, S, LSU
33. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
35. Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
38. Neville Gallimore, DL, Oklahoma
41. Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
42. Matt Hennessy, OL, Temple
43. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
45. Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
46. Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
47. Lloyd Cushenberry, OL, LSU
48. Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
49. Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir Rhyne
50. Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah