2022 NFL Draft Day 3 Takeaways: Patriots continue to surprise, punters are popular picks and the Ravens plan at receiver

NFL Draft Daily looks at top stories, historical trends, player performances and more all through the lens of the NFL Draft. After all, the draft is finally here! Check back in tomorrow for another entry.

The Patriots drafted Mac Jones in the first round just a year ago. (Wikimedia Commons)

Interesting approach in New England continues
The Patriots have made headlines the past few days for shocking everyone with some of their early picks. Saturday didn’t generate any headlines, but it was still a surprising afternoon. New England took Bailey Zappe in the fourth round, ahead of Sam Howell. I supposed the Pats view Zappe, who broke several D-1 passing records at Western Kentucky, as a backup quarterback to Mac Jones. I definitely would have expected Bill Belichick to bring in a veteran to back up Jones. That pick was sandwiched by a pair of running backs. This made absolutely no sense to me. New England has Damien Harris and James White as veteran backs. Rhamondre Stevenson was a third-round selection last year. They also have depth with J.J. Taylor still on the roster. I can’t envision a scenario where the Patriots keep six running backs. White did miss most of this past season with a hip injury, so perhaps this is the end of his time in New England.

A run on punters
Well, that’s probably untrue. It wasn’t so much a run, as much as it was surprising to see two punters selected as early as they were. For the first time since 2007, two punters were selected in the first four rounds. Jordan Stout and Jake Camarda were joined later in the draft by Matt Araiza, the booming punter from San Diego State, and Trenton Gill. That made it the most punters taken in one draft since 2018. Not a huge storyline, but something draft nuts like me are interested in.

Speaking of punters
While the unexpected number of punters coming off the board in the fourth round was fun, it did raise some interesting questions in Baltimore. The Ravens traded away Marquise Brown on Thursday night to acquire a first-round pick, which eventually, following a trade down with the Bills, turned into Tyler Linderbaum. Lamar Jackson was notably unhappy with the decision to move on from Brown and he made it clear on Twitter.

Yeah, definitely not a good sign for the Ravens. Jackson and Brown were very close, so this was obviously tough to swallow. Baltimore could have made it a bit easier to swallow by finding a new receiver for Jackson. However, despite having seven Day 3 picks, including six in the fourth round, the Ravens did not draft a receiver. Before you panic, the Ravens are actually flush with young mid-round receivers. They have taken Devin Duvernay, Tylan Wallace and James Proche over the past two drafts. That is in addition to taking Rashod Bateman in the first round in 2021. It seems like they are counting on one of them to step up. There are also veterans receivers like Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton and Odell Beckham Jr. still available. I have a feeling that is how Baltimore plans to address the position.

Sam Howell has a chance to start sooner than you might think
The Commanders grabbed Sam Howell with the first pick of the fifth round, stopping the slide for a player that entered the college season as a projected first-round pick. Most quarterbacks taken in the fifth round are not taken with real hopes of starting in the NFL. Strange things happen though. Mike White, a fifth-round pick in 2018, started for the Jets this past season when injuries popped up. Gardner Minshew was a sixth-round pick in 2019. However, I think there is a chance Howell could be in contention to be Washington’s 2023 starter. First of all, he is reunited with one of his college wide outs in Dyami Brown. Second, the Commanders can release Carson Wentz after this season with ZERO dead money. It’s a move that would save the team about $26.1 million in cap space. Now, if Wentz is able to reclaim the form he showed early in his NFL career with the Eagles, this won’t even be a question. But if he struggles again like he did down the stretch with the Colts, this could get interesting, especially if Washington is not in a position to take one of the top quarterbacks in the 2023 draft. Just some food for thought regarding a quarterback I had an early third-round grade on. I think he has starter potential in the league.

Georgia sets a new benchmark
In 2020, 14 LSU players heard their name called, matching Ohio State in 2004 for the most players selected in a seven-round draft. Georgia surpassed that on Saturday. Derion Kendrick and John FitzPatrick went with back-to-back picks in the seventh round to set a new record with 15 players drafted from one school in a single draft. It underscores just how talented the Bulldogs were this season and how much Kirby Smart will have to replace this upcoming season. I have a feeling the Dawgs will be moving up in my Pro Potential Power Rankings.

The Steelers do it again
Pittsburgh made a sixth-round selection that probably didn’t turn too many heads, but continues a fun trend for this Steelers team. They selected Connor Heyward, a fullback out of Michigan State. He is the brother of Cam Heyward, the Steelers’ stalwart defensive tackle. It actually gives the team four sets of brothers on the roster. Just a fun nugget from today’s draft coverage that gives a bit more context and intrigue to the selection of a sixth-round fullback.

The Jets had a good draft
I want to close this out by talking about my team a bit. Part of the reason that I am such a huge fan of the NFL draft is because I’m a Jets fan. When your team is regularly not in the playoffs, you start to think about the future and what could be. Browns and Lions fans know what I’m talking about. There is always hope, followed by bitter disappointment. For the first time in a long time though, I think I might be willing to let myself be optimistic. The Jets crushed this draft on paper. They found value, filled needs and navigated the board with a veteran savvy that felt very out of place given how this team has been run for the past decade. I certainly don’t think the Jets are Super Bowl contenders, but they might actually be a year away from legitimately competing. They rounded out their draft by taking Max Mitchell from Louisiana and Micheal Clemons from Texas A&M. Mitchell has the potential to kick inside in the NFL, which would fill a need for the Jets. Meanwhile, Clemons brings some pass rushing depth to the roster.

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2022 NFL Draft Day 2 Takeaways: Quarterbacks continue to slide, Nakobe Dean’s unexpected drop and length draft pick announcements

NFL Draft Daily looks at top stories, historical trends, player performances and more all through the lens of the NFL Draft. After all, the draft is finally here! Check back in tomorrow for another entry.

Ridder was the second quarterback selected in the draft at No. 74 overall. (Wikimedia Commons)

If we thought yesterday was rough for quarterbacks…
Kenny Pickett was the only quarterback taken on Thursday. We all assumed there would be a flurry early in the second round that would see Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder, Matt Corral and Sam Howell all come off the board. Instead, it took until 10 picks into the third round for another quarterback to come off the board. It was the longest we had to wait for the second quarterback to be selected since 1996. Perhaps even more surprising, it was Ridder, not Willis who landed with Atlanta. We knew this quarterback class was not thought of too highly by decision makers in the league, but this was ridiculous.

Willis lands in a great spot
Jon Robinson said earlier this offseason that he wanted to find Ryan Tannehill’s successor in this draft. Well, now we know who they intend that to be. Willis will get the chance to sit and learn during his first year or two in the NFL. Tannehill’s contract runs through 2023. Willis has a tremendous amount of upside with his strong arm and mobility. However, he has no pocket awareness and needs to learn how to process at an NFL level. Given Tannehill’s struggles in the postseason each of the past two years, the Titans clearly feel they needed to work on a succession plan. Willis, who was the No. 20 player on my board, has the potential to be better than Tannehill ever was.

Nakobe Dean’s unexpected fall
Five Georgia defenders were selected on Day 1. As it turned out, we had to wait until the middle of the third round for the next one to be selected. Nakobe Dean was frequently projected to go late first-round, early second-round. His tumble confounded draft analysts and fans alike. Reports started to surface that Dean passed up shoulder surgery this offseason after coming off pectoral and knee injuries. Those injury concerns caused a massive drop. This is a good situation for Dean though, who will get to play with Jordan Davis again in the NFL. He will also not be asked to start in 2022, allowing him to get healthy.

Belichick traded down three times already in the 2022 draft. (Wikimedia Commons)

Bill Belichick marches to the beat of his own drum
I have learned better than to really question what Belichick does. That being said, it seems like the Patriots are picking off a very different board than the rest of the league. Cole Strange in the first round was a bit of a stunner. Tyquan Thornton might have been even more surprising. He went ahead of George Pickens, Skyy Moore and Alec Pierce, among others. Marcus Jones in the third round was pretty on par with expectations. New England clearly had a very different board from many others out there. That being said, both players are good scheme fits and should be productive early in their careers. It was just a surprise to see the Patriots take these players where they did.

No one navigates the draft like Eric DeCosta
After having Kyle Hamilton fall into their lap and trading back into the first round to take Tyler Linderbaum, the Ravens landed another elite prospect in David Ojabo. He unquestionably comes with injury concerns and will miss much of this season after tearing his Achilles in March at his pro day, but the upside is incredible. He was regularly mocked to go in the top 15 prior to the injury. Baltimore took it a step further in the third round when it grabbed Travis Jones. They didn’t panic, they simply retooled their defense with a number of players that will help them in 2022 and beyond. Linderbaum replaces one of their biggest free-agent losses. With six, yes that’s right six, fourth-round picks, the Ravens will continue to rebuild the depth on their roster and potentially add some 2023 draft capital if they trade a couple of those selections.

Extending their fives seconds of fame
If you were watching the draft, you witnessed some very long lead ups to the announcement of the pick. With celebrities and former players announcing several of the Day 2 selections. For the most part, it went well. There were a couple of slip ups, like Elvis Dumervil calling it the 2002 NFL Draft. However, there were a few notable announcements that took WAAAAAY too long to get to the pick. Former Vikings player turned actor Ed Marinaro took over two minutes to read the name on his card. So long in fact, that the NFL sent a runner on stage to ask him to wrap it up. Kyle Brandt and The Miz took their time, going as far as to declare the Bills and Browns respectively the future champions of Super Bowl LVII. It was probably the worst part of the draft. Just get on the stage, say hi to the fans and read the card. It’s not that hard.

Best players available
As you would expect, the consensus started to fall apart on Day 2. Plenty of players expected to go on Day 3 found their way into Day 2 and vice versa.

47. Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
52. Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
59. Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
64. Sam Howell, QB, UNC
66. Amare Barno, EDGE, Virginia Tech
67. Cade Otton, TE, Washington
69. Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
82. Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State
84. Domonique Robinson, EDGE, Miami (Ohio)
87. Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State
91. Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida
93. Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State
94. Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis
95. Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
97. Tyler Goodson, RB, Iowa
98. Daniel Bellinger, TE, San Diego State
99. Pierre Strong Jr., RB, South Dakota State

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2022 NFL Draft Day 1 Takeaways: Willis reaches Day 2, receivers go early and often, staggering number of trades

NFL Draft Daily looks at top stories, historical trends, player performances and more all through the lens of the NFL Draft. After all, the draft is finally here! Check back in tomorrow for another entry.

Willis was the No. 15 player on NFL Mock Draft Database’s Consensus Big Board. (Wikimedia Commons)

Rough day for quarterbacks as Malik Willis drops to Day 2
Kenny Pickett became the first (and only) quarterback selected at No. 20 overall. That was the latest the first passer came off the board since 1997. Pickett ended up being the only quarterback selected in the first round as well, the first time that has happened since 2013. It was a bit of a shock given the hype around Malik Willis leading into the draft. He is a high-character guy with great arm strength and impressive mobility. He is a bit of a project, but I have a feeling he won’t last long on Day 2. Tampa, Seattle, Tennessee and maybe the Giants are all in play in the first 10 picks of the round as it currently stands. I am stunned that he is still on the board. He is my top remaining player.

Receivers fly off the board
We knew this was a good receiver draft. The NFL is treating it like a great receiver draft. Four receivers went in the top 12 picks. Six went in the top 18. A.J. Brown and Marquise Brown also got traded (more on that in a moment). The Eagles immediately paid A.J. $100 million. In short, it was another wild day of receiver movement. The offseason saw Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill moved followed by mega extensions. That came on the heels of huge contracts for Mike Williams and Christian Kirk. With the cost of keeping good receivers skyrocketing, it should come as no surprise that receiver prospects are in high demand. Perhaps the most surprising move was Jahan Dotson going at No. 16. The Commanders clearly covet speed, but it was a bit of a surprise to see him go ahead of Treylon Burks. Dotson was also the biggest reach of draft slot versus ranking on my board.

Questionable trades by the Cardinals and Vikings

I can’t figure out what the Cardinals are playing at. Sure, Hollywood Brown might be better than some of us think and a good fit for the offense, but why on Earth are you parting with a first-round pick to acquire a receiver who has averaged 51.3 yards per game in his career. This is also just one year after selecting Rondale Moore, who has a very similar skill set. I don’t question the fit. I do question the value proposition here. Especially when you see what A.J. Brown was traded on the same day. The Ravens have the best front office in football.

Then there are the Vikings, who traded down 20 spots AND gave up their second-round selection and only received a pair of Day 2 picks to do so. It was such an odd trade, no matter how you slice it. For one, they did not recoup enough draft capital in the move. Secondly, they allowed their division rival to grab one of the most explosive and dynamic players in this draft. What was the biggest need Minnesota had heading into the draft? Cornerback. So they allowed their rival to grab a receiver they do not have anyone to cover. Not sure what the thinking was there.

Trades, trades and more trades
A whopping NINE trades went down on Day 1 of the draft. This is just two years removed from a draft where we had zero trades in the first round. I think it really underlines how much opinions vary on this draft class. Keep in mind, we already had a ridiculous number of trades leading up to this draft. In the end, only 23 teams made a first-round selection.

Aidan Hutchinson became the highest drafted Michigan player since 2008. (Wikimedia Commons)

Defense reins supreme early
Five defensive players opened the draft. It was the first time since 1991 that we had at least five straight defensive players selected. There were six straight that year. In a loaded draft of corners and edge rushers, it should not be a huge surprise, but given how much the NFL has shifted towards the offense in the past 20 years, this is a huge departure from the norm. We did immediately go on a run of seven straight offensive players. I don’t think this is a sign of things to come. It simply highlights how talented this draft is from a defensive perspective.

Jermaine Johnson II’s surprising slide
Johnson was the No. 10 player on my board. He was No. 11 on the NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board. With plenty of teams needing edge rushers (Eagles, Ravens, Texans and Cowboys), it was a big surprise to see him fall all the way to the 26th pick. As a Jets fan, I’m thrilled New York traded back into the first round to grab him. There is no question that Johnson was not quite at the same level as his counterparts when it came to winning consistently in pass-rush situations. Still, I think he is the best run defender of any of the top four edge players (Walker, Hutchinson and Thibodeaux). He wasn’t bad as a pass rusher either, posting 11.5 sacks this season. He just might not be elite. Either way, this was one of the biggest surprises of the night outside of Willis.

Best players available
I actually feel pretty good about how my board lined up with the league’s. Only Kenny Pickett, Jahan Dotson, Tyler Smith, Lewis Cine and Cole Strange fell outside my top 32 prospects. I fully expected Pickett and Dotson to go in the first. Smith and Cine were a little more unexpected, but not shocking. Strange was really out there. I like him a lot as a prospect, but I thought he would go at the end of the second round, not the end of the first. Here are my top remaining prospects.

20. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
21. Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson (first-round cut off)
24. David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
29. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
32. Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
33. Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
34. Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
35. Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
36. Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
38. George Pickens, WR, Georgia
39. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
41. Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
42. Sean Rhyan, OL, UCLA
43. Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
44. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
46. Travis Jones, DL, UConn
47. Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
48. Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
50. Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
52. Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
53. Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
54. Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor (2nd-round cut off)
55. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
56. Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
57. John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
58. Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
59. Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
60. Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin
61. Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma
62. Logan Hall, DL, Houston
63. DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
64. Sam Howell, QB, UNC
65. Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama
66. Amare Barno, EDGE, Virginia Tech
67. Cade Otton, TE, Washington
68. Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State
69. Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
70. Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
71. Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia
72. Josh Paschall, EDGE, Kentucky
73. Nicholas Petit-Frère, OT, Ohio State
74. Cameron Jurgens, C, Nebraska
75. Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia Tech
76. Cordale Flott, DB, LSU
77. Dylan Parham, G, Memphis
78. Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
79. Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State
80. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
81. James Cook, RB, Georgia
82. Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State
83. Nick Cross, S, Maryland
84. Domonique Robinson, EDGE, Miami (Ohio)
85. Wandale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
86. Sam WIlliams, EDGE, Ole Miss
87. Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State
88. Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
89. Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
90. Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA
91. Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida
92. Bryon Cook, S, Cincinnati
93. Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State
94. Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis
95. Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
96. JT Woods, S, Baylor
97. Tyler Goodson, RB, Iowa
98. Daniel Bellinger, TE, San Diego State
99. Pierre Strong Jr., RB, South Dakota State
100. Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma

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2021 NFL Draft takeaways: Which teams nailed it and which teams would like a do-over

The 2021 NFL draft is in the books! While I don’t believe in giving out draft grades as soon as the draft ends and none of these players have played even a down in the NFL, I do think it is interesting to look at how the draft unfolded. There were a few teams that found great value at positions of need while others were left reaching or neglected to fill large holes on their roster. Here are my initial reactions to what went down in Cleveland.

Talk about nailing the draft

At first glance, there were a few teams that I think had really strong drafts. They navigated the board well, found great value and filled out their roster for 2021 and beyond. If your team is not here, that does not mean I hated their draft. There are only so many clubs that can impress in a weekend.

Washington Football Team
Biggest impact: Dyami Brown, WR, UNC (82nd overall)
Best value: Shaka Toney, EDGE, Penn State (246th overall)
This is by far my favorite draft class. It is way too early to start handing out grades, but Jamin Davis, Samuel Cosmi, Benjamin St-Juste and Dyami Brown could all be starters this year. Washington filled a number of positions of need and found some great value throughout the draft. Darrick Forest, Dax Milne and Toney are all solid depth pieces who could contribute in situational roles as early as this year. I think there is tons of upside with both Cosmi and Toney. I couldn’t believe they were both still available when they were finally selected. The only knock you could have would be not finding a quarterback to develop. Perhaps Washington really views Taylor Heinicke as a developmental option, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is obviously a stop-gap solution.

Atlanta Falcons
Biggest impact: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida (4th overall)
Best value: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan (68th overall)
Atlanta quietly had a great draft. They grabbed one of the best receivers in the draft in Pitts. Richie Grant, Jalen Mayfield and Drew Dalman will all push for playing time this year. Avery Williamson will be a special teams standout. Ade Ogundeji has outrageous length to work with and Frank Darby could be a steal in the sixth round. The Falcons also grabbed Jaret Patterson as an undrafted free agent. Not drafting a running back was one my biggest negatives here, so getting him helps soften that blow.

Carolina Panthers
Biggest impact: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina (8th overall)
Best value: Daviyon Nixon, DL, Iowa (158th overall)
There was a lot to like in what the Panthers did in this draft. Carolina found some gems in the later rounds. Tommy Tremble could be the team’s No. 2 tight end this year and his blocking is a huge asset. Daviyon Nixon had a second-round grade from me and Shi Smith earned a late third-round mark. Landing them in the fifth and sixth respectively is great value. Terrace Marshall gives Sam Darnold another reliable receiver to work with as well. Chuba Hubbard will be a great change-of-pace back behind Christian McCaffrey. Oh, and Jaycee Horn fills a huge need and is pro ready. Carolina has put all the pieces in place for Sam Darnold to be successful.

Cleveland Browns
Biggest impact: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB/S, Notre Dame
Best value: Owusu-Koramoah
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was a top-20 player on my board and the Browns got him at 52. That alone might be enough to make them winners. However, they also grabbed Greg Newsome, one of my favorite corners in this draft, and Anthony Schwartz, a field-stretching receiver with untapped potential. James Hudson is a great value in the fourth round with a lot of upside. Having depth on the offensive line is never a bad thing either. I really like all of the Browns picks across the board. Tommy Togiai could compete for a role this season, maybe in goal line and short yardage situations. Tony Field is a great depth linebacker with a nose for the football. Richard LeCounte is talented but has to clean up his off-the-field issues. Demetric Felton is a fun gadget player for Kevin Stefanski to deploy as well. Well-rounded draft for Cleveland that filled a lot of team needs.

Minnesota Vikings
Biggest impact: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech (23rd overall)
Best value: Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State (97rd overall)
When you trade down and take a player everyone expected you to take before the trade, you are doing well. Minnesota landed two new starting offensive linemen in Darrisaw and Davis. I had both ranked in my top 32 players. The Vikings landed some other key contributors in Chazz Surratt and Patrick Jones II. Janarius Robinson, Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Jalen Twyman are all good value picks in the later rounds. I think Minnesota did an excellent job of planning for the present and the future. Kellen Mond gives the Vikings a development quarterback as well, who could potentially take over for Kirk Cousins down the line. Bottom line, Minnesota addressed some big needs without reaching. That’s a recipe for success.

Even the best laid plans go to waste

We all go into the draft expecting to go one way. Very quickly, it ends up going another way. The best front offices can pivot and recover when the unexpected occurs. With the benefit of hindsight, here a few teams that might want a do-over.

Seattle Seahawks
Biggest surprise: D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan (56th overall)
Biggest reach: None
Let’s make something clear, this has nothing to do with who the Seahawks decided to draft. It is much more about who Seattle didn’t decide to draft. Russell Wilson made it clear he wanted offensive line help. The front office ignored that entirely, waiting until the sixth round to select Stone Forsyth. D’Wayne Eskridge is an exciting player, but the Seahawks absolutely could have filled the role of a third receiver later in the draft, especially when your top two options are D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. I touched on it in my Day 2 surprises, but there were a number of good linemen on the board at that spot. I was also stunned that Seattle did not trade down. With only three picks in the whole draft, moving down to pick up one or two more selections would’ve been a wise move. The three players they took were good ones, but it feels like the Seahawks could have done more.

Dallas Cowboys
Biggest surprise: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State (12th overall)
Biggest reach: Nahshon Wright, CB, Oregon State (99th overall)
It feels weird to put the Cowboys in this category. On one hand, I love Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox. I think both are great players and Cox was an absolute steal in the fourth round. However, this is a team that already has Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith at linebacker. While Dallas was smart to address its defense, linebacker was the one spot that didn’t feel like a huge need. Rashawn Slater was still on the board with both Tyron Smith and La’el Collins coming off major injuries. Then there was the Cowboys’ third round. Osa Odighizuwa went a bit earlier than expected, but filled a need. Chauncey Golston did too, but I liked him in the fifth round. NahShon Wright is long, but I was shocked to see him go this early. I don’t think this was an awful draft for Dallas by any means, but it was a weird one. I think they could’ve done better with the picks they had and the players still on the board.

Indianapolis Colts
Biggest Surprise: Dayo Odeyingbo, EDGE, Vanderbilt (54th overall)
Biggest Reach: Kylen Granson, TE, SMU (127th overall)

Indianapolis got off to a great start to the draft with Kwity Paye in the first round. Things went downhill from there. Dayo Odeyingbo is an intriguing talent, but he is coming off a torn Achilles suffered in January, so he likely won’t contribute this year. It was also a bit early for him and they had already drafted Paye. With a huge need at left tackle and other needs at receiver and corner, doubling up at defensive end was an odd choice. Kylen Granson was one of my least favorite picks. He went way too early and there were better players on the board, both in general and at the position. Waiting until the seventh round to draft an offensive lineman is questionable given the team has no real plan at left tackle. Carson Wentz proved last year that he does not thrive under pressure. I thought the Colts would prioritize protecting him. Still don’t understand the Sam Ehlinger selection either. Indy just took Jacob Eason last year. Definitely not my favorite draft on paper.

Dylan Moses and Mavin Wilson
Heading into the 2020 NFL draft, I had a late first-round grade on Dylan Moses. Even with the ACL injury and him missing his entire junior season, I figured a team would take a flier on him by the end of the second round at the latest. When he returned to school, he became one of the top prospects for 2021. I mocked Moses No. 10 to the Dolphins in my way-too-early mock draft. Moses had a rough 2021 season. He looked nowhere close to the explosive athlete we saw in 2019. His change of direction speed was gone and he reportedly dealt with a meniscus injury. I thought he would slide into the middle rounds of this draft. For him to go undrafted is wild. It was likely due to the lack of medicals for teams this year. Still, Moses missed out in a big way by returning to school. I will be rooting for him to prove people wrong in Jacksonville. Much of the same can be applied to Marvin Wilson. He was a fringe first-round pick in 2020 mocks, but decided to return to school. He debuted at No. 17 to the Jaguars in my way-too-early mock for 2021. Wilson had a checkered season that started with a public dispute with new Florida State coach Mike Norvell. He only recorded one sack, which came against Jacksonville State, in a disappointing season. Wilson ended up going undrafted as well, signing with Cleveland as an undrafted free agent. He signed a deal worth $192,000 guaranteed. For reference, Joe Tryon, who went to Tampa with the final pick of the first round, is expected to sign a deal worth $11.1 million with a $5.4 million signing bonus, per Spotrac.

While I have you here, a few more thoughts on this draft

These next two teams didn’t really fall into either category, but I felt like they were worth talking about because of the moves they made.

Houston Texas
Biggest impact: Nico Collins, WR, Michigan (89th overall)
Best value: Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami (147th overall)
Houston has now signed Tyrod Taylor, traded for Ryan Finley and drafted Davis Mills. Deshaun Watson’s future looks murkier than that of even Aaron Rodgers right now. Adam Schefter was reporting on Saturday that there are people in NFL circles who believe Watson won’t play in 2021. Credit the Texans for being aggressive in trying to find his successor. Well, as aggressive as a team who traded away a ton of premium draft picks to acquire Laremy Tunsil can be. Houston is still undoubtedly one of the worst-run franchises in football, but this is a positive start for Nick Caserio and company. Instead of feeling like this team is headed for a tear down, they suddenly have an exciting, raw quarterback to develop with an on rebuilding. Nico Collins and Brevin Jordan could both be involved in the offense this year. The Texans are still bad, but I like what they did with limited resources.

Buffalo Bills
Biggest impact: Carlos Basham, DL, Wake Forest (61st overall)
Best value: Basham
For the third year in a row, Buffalo invested significant draft capital into its defensive line. In 2019, it was Ed Oliver with the ninth overall pick. A.J. Epenesa landed with the Bills in the second round in 2020. This draft saw Buffalo grab defensive linemen with its first two picks, selecting Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham. Only San Francisco is able to rival the amount of young talent the Bills currently boast up front. What makes this group particularly scary is the versatility. You could really start any of them anywhere along the defensive line and feel pretty good about that decision. That doesn’t even take into account that Buffalo still has veterans like Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison and Vernon Butler. This undoubtedly sets the Bills up to have one of the best defensive lines in the league going forward. Also love the addition of Spencer Brown in the third round.

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