During every NFL draft, a few players squirm in the green room or on their couches while we scramble to uncover whether a player failed a drug test or has a previously unknown medical red flag to explain why they are lasting so long on the board. This year, teams sent a resounding message that they were reluctant to take players who have been sidelined by injuries.
Who were the biggest fallers in the draft this year?
1. Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants
The last player in the green room, Randle fell all the way to the Giants' last pick of the second round (No. 63) after they were strongly considering him in the first round. According to Art Stapleton at NorthJersey.com, Randle was one of five players the Giants were looking at in the first, making him a no-brainer in the second. For a quality organization like New York to still see him as a potential first-rounder says that his fall was likely just bad luck.
By comparison, he didn't have the production of Alshon Jeffery or speed of Stephen Hill. The Rams and Lions must have really loved Brian Quick and Ryan Broyles to take them ahead of Randle, and the Giants are the benefactors.
2. Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
Miller was widely considered to be in a group with David Wilson and Doug Martin (both first-round picks) in contention to be the second RB off of the board. Miller was the speed option out of the three, but he lacked the pass-blocking and short-yardage ability to be an every-down back. Concerns about a shoulder injury probably dogged his stock as well.
The Dolphins are set at running back with Reggie Bush and 2011 second-round pick Daniel Thomas, but they still gave up a fourth, sixth and 2013 sixth to move up to the second pick of the third day to get Miller.
3. Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins
Cousins had second-round buzz coming out of the combine, with some even putting him in play for teams like Cleveland or Miami that were looking for their QB of the future. Instead, Cousins fell all the way to the third day, where the Redskins took him with the 102th pick. He'll be the long-term backup to Robert Griffin III and potential trade bait down the line.
4. Bobby Massie, OT, Arizona Cardinals
Massie was considered one of the top right tackle prospects in the draft. He was getting into the first round of some mock drafts, and teams like the Jets and Browns were certainly strong possibilities in the second. His lack of strength and power might have caused a fall to the 112th pick, but he hung tough in the SEC for three years, which should trump any idea of Massie in a vacuum.
The Cardinals didn't take help for their league-worst offensive tackle group in the first three rounds, but Massie can bail them out.
5. Brandon Boykin, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
A borderline first-rounder going into the Senior Bowl, Boykin broke his fibula in punt coverage during the game. That, plus worry about his concussion history pushed him to the 123rd pick. The Philadelphia Eagles came into the draft needing corners for the long term, but neglected the position on the draft's first two days.
6. Jared Crick, DE, Houston Texans
Crick was a first-rounder on some boards coming into the season; then he tore a pectoral muscle and watched his stock fall. According to the Daily Nebraskan, Crick even benched 225 pounds 26 times at his pro day to show the pros the pec was sound.
He didn't go off the board until the Houston Texans' 126th pick. They'll make him a fearsome complement for one-man-gang J.J. Watt at defensive end in Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense.
7. Marvin Jones, WR, California
Jones wasn't the most productive, biggest or fastest wide receiver prospect, but his game was very consistent in a so-so passing offense. He projected well as a solid all-around No. 2 receiver who should go off the board in the third round. The Bengals made him one of their many excellent picks this week at No. 166, at the end of the fifth round.
This pick came to Cincinnati from New England in the deal for Chad Ochocinco.
8. Alfonzo Dennard, DB, New England Patriots
Dennard was in the first round of some early mock drafts; then a bad week at the Senior Bowl that was ended by a hip injury caused him to fall in the second on most boards, if not third. Then he was arrested last weekend for assaulting a police officer among other things, as reported by the Omaha World-Herald. The Patriots feel that their strong culture can straighten out character-risk players, so they took Dennard in the seventh round at the 224th pick.
The Cavaliers had a rough draft. Minnifield took a tumble, and their other top prospect, Cam Johnson, also sweated out a long wait. Johnson was expected to go in the third or fourth round as a 4-3 defensive end/3-4 outside linebacker 'tweener. He can rush the passer, which is one of the most coveted skills in the NFL.
His sickle cell trait could keep him from being an every-down NFL player, but Bruce Irvin isn't one either, and he went 15th overall to the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson also ended up in the NFC West, but with San Francisco at the 237th pick.
10. Chris Polk, RB
Polk was ultra-productive and a workhorse at Washington, but a degenerative hip condition caused him to fall (per Brad Evans of Yahoo!). Or maybe it was his shoulder surgeries (per ESPN's Rich Cimini), although the shoulders were cleared by Dr. James Andrews as tweeted by B/R's own Matt Miller. His interviews could have played a role, as tweeted by ESPN's Cecil Lammey.
Whatever it was, the NFL got this one wrong. He ran like a champ with the medical issue(s). Even if he doesn't last more than two to three years in the NFL, that is worth a fifth- or sixth-round pick. The NFL didn't judge Polk worthy of any pick.
Hopefully he can follow in the footsteps of 2009 undrafted free-agent Arian Foster and lead the NFL in rushing one day.
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