Throughout Day 3, we got a chance to salute the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force and West Point Cadets at the Draft just before they announced a pick—always a good tradition.
Also, many teams had people with special circumstances, especially ones that were affected by the recent set of tornadoes in the Midwest. Great tradition.
The boos subsided a bit on draft day, thanks to a notable exception from the podium: Roger Goodell. He talked to some media, but let the former players, individual teams and armed forces members make the picks for him.
Clint Boling (OG, Georgia), Sam Acho (DE/OLB, Texas), Luke Stocker (TE, Tennessee) and Christian Ballard (DT, Iowa) all went fast on the drafts third and final day. All had second or third round grades for me and all were great values here in the fourth round.
I expect all three to be major contributors, with Boling being the most likely early starter for the Bengals at guard.
Colin McCarthy, outside linebacker from Miami (FL), was my top rated player left in the in the draft, and found a perfect scheme fit for the Titans. A great cover man with under rated athletic ability, McCarthy could push for a starting job very early.
A run in the middle of the fourth round on receivers in Edmund Gates (to Miami), Greg Salas (to St. Louis), and Division III Cecil Shorts (to Jacksonville).
Think Salas has the best chance to succeed early on a wide open receiver depth chart in St. Louis, Gates has the best chance to be a 800-1000 receiver down the line and Shorts I think the biggest reach, but the Jaguars are known for reaching in the draft.
Jalil Brown, one of our favorites at Optimum Scouting, was taken by the Chiefs and I think they got a steal here in the fourth round. I wouldn't be shocked at all to see Brown play very early for the Chiefs, who could use the secondary help for Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry.
The Texans continued to add defensive help, and getting playmaking cornerback Rashard Carmichael is a great value in the fourth round. They have taken numerous middle round cornerbacks in the past, but Carmichael has the speed, ball skills, and vision in coverage to actually be a starter, and a solid one, down the road.
Denver traded up for former basketball player Julius Thomas from Portland State. He and Jordan Cameron both went in the fourth round as basketball converts with high ceilings. I'd take Thomas more, think he has a more NFL build, but both are boom or bust guys.
Dallas finally got secondary help in the fifth round, going with the athletic, long, quick hipped Josh Thomas from Buffalo. Still, Thomas gives up a lot of big plays in the secondary, needs safety help, and struggles with inconsistency.
Not to be harsh, but sounds like the Cowboys secondary already.
Jacquizz Rodgers, running back from Oregon State, was taken by the Falcons in the middle of the round, one of the best players on the board at the time. He'll give Jerious Norwood a run for his money as a speedy, No. 2 running back rotational guy next season.
Three guys we didn't have graded as NFL Guys (not even PFA guys) that were taken here were Kealoha Pilares (from Hawaii ), Gabe Miller (from Oregon State) and Rod Issac (Middle Tennessee State).
I'd be shocked to see these guys stick around in the league based on our reports on them, but if I had to be okay with one, it'd be Issac. He's a cornerback that no one's heard of, but the last time Jacksonville did that, they got Derek Cox from William and Mary, who had a nice season last year.
If it wasn't for being diagnosed with (a low grade and treatable version of) Lymphoma, Marcus Cannon of TCU would have been a solid second round guard prospect. But as the Patriots, who selected him in this round, have done throughout the draft, they've take guys they don't plan on playing in year one in favor for long term value.
The Eagles had success the past few years with LeSean McCoy from Pittsburgh at running back, and in the fifth round they went another Pitt running back in Dion Lewis, who doesn't have great deep speed but has great vision, good explosiveness. Could be a solid rotational guy.
Ahmad Black of Florida fell on draft day despite being very exciting and production at safety thanks to major size concerns. However, that should be hidden a bit in Tampa Bay and he could play corner or safety there and be very productive.
With Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards both free agents this year, the thought was that the Jets would go after a receiver in the first few rounds if one fell. They finally took one in the fifth round, but Jeremy Kerley of TCU is more of a slot receiver.
Odds are, this means that Brad Smith is gone or will have drastically reduced playing time.
Nathan Enderle from Idaho picked by the Bears here. A little odd considering he's a lot like backup Caleb Hanie, who actually played admirably this year when Cutler went down in the playoffs.
Chris Carter of Fresno State was considered a fast riser just before that draft thanks to his explosiveness as a pass rusher on the outside. While he didn't go as high as projected (thought of as a possible third or fourth rounder), he's a great value for the Steelers as the rich get richer.
DeMarcus Love (Arkansas) and Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock) both were taken early by the Vikings here in Round 6, and I wouldn't have had any problem if the Vikings took either of these two guys two or three rounds earlier. Both potential long term starters, with Fusco possibly pushing this year.
Now, lots of depth on that Vikings offensive line, but questions about the left tackle still there with Bryant McKinnie struggling last year.
Quan Sturdivant from North Carolina fell a lot on draft day, but could be a solid inside linebacker in the NFL. I heard he fell because of questions about his work ethic and character on and off the field, and that worries teams when they look for what used to be a leadership position on a roster.
The Dolphins went with Tulsa fullback/tight end hybrid Charles Clay in the sixth round. I think they could have filled a few other needs, and it'll be interesting to see how he fits into their offense. Provides versatility for this offense, but not sure if they can use him correctly.
Byron Stingily, former offensive tackle from Louisville, wasn't given a draftable or PFA grade by us, but reportedly had a stellar workout for NFL scouts at his pro day.
That seems to have been enough for him to get drafted, but I still feel he'll never have it come together in the NFL.
The Cowboys have a lot of question marks at receiver, with Dez Bryant reportedly having a lot of problem handling the professional football life, and Roy Williams reportedly on the outs in Dallas. Miles Austin is a stable force, but they could really use some depth and a new influx of youth at the position, and Dwayne Harris of East Carolina could do that.
Tyrod Taylor of Virginia Tech landed in Baltimore, who is a little bit less developed but a more athletic version of Troy Smith, who they let go this past season. I think he could be a Brad Smith-like if he's open to it, I don't think he has the same passing potential as Smith. Could be Joe Webb though, hopefully not Pat White.
Greg Jones of Michigan State was lingering on the board thanks to some lackluster athletic ability, but the Giants could have found a starter in the late round area, as Jones could fit well as a weakside linebacker in the Giants system. And could be very successful with this Giants pass rush and defensive line improved once again earlier in this draft.
Jerrell Powe, the best nose tackle on the board for a while in the draft, landed in Kansas City. The Chiefs passed on Phil Taylor in the first round (actually traded with the Browns who selected him).
While Powe may not be close to Taylor as far as a safe pick, if Powe can flip the switch and stay focused and consistent, he could be a great value and a long term starter at nose tackle.
Virgil Green, a workout warrior with good tape as a senior but not a complete tight end, slipped all the way to the seventh round here despite teams showing interest early. The former Nevada Wolfpack member won't have to travel far, as the Broncos scooped him up as another athletic tight end.
Back to back small schoolers went in the seventh round, both of which should have went two or three rounds earlier. Justin Rogers ended up in Buffalo and Korey Lindsay end up in Cincinnati.
Greg McElroy of Alabama was a steal in the seventh round for the New York Jets. Remember when the Packers took two quarterbacks after Aaron Rogers first year as a starter?
One of them was late round pick Matt Flynn, now considered one of the best backups in the NFL. McElroy could be that plus much better.
Bruce Miller from Central Florida, former defensive end but has too short of arms to last in the NFL as a pass rusher, was announced as a running back, likely a fullback convert. Good athlete, could work out well.
Ivy Leaguer Shane Bannon, fullback prospect, landed late in Kansas City with the Chiefs. Don't have many notes on him, but just a fun fact.
Greg Romeus, former first round possible from Pittsburgh, fell on draft day thanks to some terribly unlucky injuries. Actually, one of the main reasons he returned for his season despite being considered a solid first round pick because he wanted to finish his degree.
Give him a few years and if he can get to 80-90 percent before his injury, he'll be a more than capable NFL defensive end.
Scotty McKnight, taken by the Jets from Colorado, is a surprise drafted receiver. He and Mark Sanchez are close friends, according to Adam Schefter, so it makes sense. Don't expect much out of him though.
Stanley Havilli of USC went much later than I thought, falling to the Eagles who were happy to scoop up another running back. While the fullback position is dying, getting a guy who I feel could be the next Peyton Hillis is a steal and a heck of a value here.
Worst case scenario, he's an every down fullback and a pass catcher out of the backfield.
One of the most amazing stories in the draft is the Miami Dolphins taking safety Jimmy Wilson from Montana. Wilson spend 25 MONTHS in jail for a murder before he was acquitted.
A must story to know, incredible.
Mr. Irrelevant called by Aaron Aloysius of DraftBreakdown.com in being Cheta Ozougwu, OLB from Rice.