Predicting Every NFL Team's Biggest Rookie Surprise
It's inevitable that lots of surprises will emerge from the 2018 NFL rookie class. We're predicting the biggest one for each team.
Sometimes it's an undrafted free agent who becomes a valued sub-package player or starter. Other times it's an early-round pick who can outperform the lofty expectations that comes with his draft status.
With grades set and rosters settling prior to training camp, teams aren't going to be seeing major changes unless they sign one of the few proven veterans still on the market. That leaves an identifiable path to earning opportunity for a select handful of players on each team.
These are the rookies who are most likely to grab that opportunity.
Arizona Cardinals: CB Chris Campbell
No team values its second cornerback spot less than the Arizona Cardinals. After finally finding a solid stopgap option across from Patrick Peterson in Tramon Williams last year, the team allowed him to walk in free agency. Aside from journeyman veterans, the only notable competition the team added was Penn State cornerback Chris Campbell.
The sixth-round pick is a terrific athlete, measuring 6'1" and 195 pounds with electric explosiveness. His pro day performance is similar to those of former first-round picks Gareon Conley, Kyle Fuller and Jalen Ramsey, per MockDraftable.
Campbell is far from a reliable cover man, which is why he was a late-round pick. Nevertheless, he'll only have to beat out Brandon Williams, Marcus Williams and Bene Benwikere to start. The former Nittany Lion must improve his route recognition and balance in his backpedal to become effective.
Atlanta Falcons: DT Deadrin Senat
Instead of investing in a run-stuffing defensive tackle in the first two rounds, the Atlanta Falcons wisely prioritized getting more value prior to addressing a position that can often be filled toward the end of Day 2. It was a gamble to pass on Taven Bryan, B.J. Hill and Nathan Shepherd, but they still nabbed a great role player in the third round.
USF defensive tackle Deadrin Senat will be exactly what the team needs next to Grady Jarrett.
Senat is a stout but strong presence as a 1-technique, boasting a broad 314-pound frame. He holds the leverage advantage on almost every NFL blocker because of his 6'0" stature. He can step in right away and be an early-down player.
Two reasons Senat fell were lack of pass rushing and lack of physical upside. He's strong but not especially fast or twitchy. His job will be to occupy blockers and allow the rest of the defense to fly around the field without worry of blockers reaching them.
Baltimore Ravens: C Bradley Bozeman
Few sixth-round picks walk into a starting opportunity, but the Baltimore Ravens were able to address a glaring need with the 215th overall pick. Alabama center Bradley Bozeman not only continues the pipeline from Nick Saban's Crimson Tide to Ozzie Newsome's Ravens, but it's also a pairing that makes perfect sense for the value.
Bozeman was an All-SEC performer as a senior and had 29 starts over his final two years at Alabama. The 6'5", 311-pounder isn't the most athletic or strongest player, but he was lauded by NFL.com's Lance Zierlein for his ability to utilize his natural length and toughness. It's also likely he can address his lack of power as a finisher just by filling out his frame on an NFL weight program.
The competition for Bozeman to start isn't stern. Former undrafted free-agent Matt Skura hasn't proved himself at the NFL level, and 2017 draft picks Nico Siragusa and Jermaine Eluemunor haven't played center at the NFL level. Bozeman can be a major bang-for-their-buck investment.
Buffalo Bills: WR Austin Proehl
As passing games have spread out, collegiate production from offensive skill plays has ballooned over the last decade. It's uncommon to see prospects enter the league without solid numbers, but that's why trait-based evaluation is important. The Buffalo Bills were able to select North Carolina slot specialist Austin Proehl with the 255th overall pick because his numbers weren't up to snuff.
Proehl accumulated just 91 receptions for 1,265 yards and five touchdowns over the course of four years. His most productive season was unsurprisingly with the best quarterback he played with, Mitchell Trubisky in 2016. His savvy and ability to manipulate space in the slot is going to immediately stand out compared to his peers.
His father, Ricky Proehl, enjoyed a 17-year career in the NFL, and the younger Proehl shows some of the similar traits. His biggest competition for slot snaps will be veteran Jeremy Kerley, a journeyman who's struggled to stay on the field the last several years. Proehl is more sudden and brings a greater contrast to the unit than Kerley, meaning he should earn significant playing time in his rookie season.
Carolina Panthers: S Rashaan Gaulden
The decision to move on from veteran Kurt Coleman opened a secondary hole for the Carolina Panthers. Coleman was a hard-hitting presence who was decent in two-high coverage but had become expensive and considerably less productive. Thus, the Panthers didn't hesitate to address the position by adding safety Rashaan Gaulden in the third round.
Gaulden is one of the interesting studies of this class as he had solid tape but had a terrible combine performance. None of his results in the athletic testing ranked above the 36th percentile among defensive backs, with finishes in the 13th percentile or worse in four of the six explosion drills. But he proved to be an impactful player over the last two seasons at Tennessee, and he'll earn a major role because of his on-field ability.
Though the Panthers did add Da'Norris Searcy in free agency, Searcy is more of a coverage option as a third safety and is coming off a rough stint with the Tennessee Titans. Gaulden is more physical and effective in pursuit angles, making him a natural Coleman replacement.
Chicago Bears: G James Daniels
The Chicago Bears had a terrific draft class. Their first three picks round out a roster that had already undergone a major facelift. While it's easy to envision first-round pick Roquan Smith making an immediate impact and second-rounder Anthony Miller filling out the receiver corps, it'll be guard James Daniels who surprises the most.
He'll outperform his expectations because of how much he'll benefit his teammates as they're rearranged.
Sliding Daniels to guard and keeping Cody Whitehair at center will help both positions. Whitehair is a well-rounded player who showed Pro Bowl-caliber talent in his first two seasons. Daniels is a terrific athlete but not quite the pass protector that Whitehair is, making it easier to play the rookie next to the center, who can provide veteran help. Kyle Long's presence to his left makes this an elite young interior offensive line.
Daniels' ability to reach-block and also find the edge on pulls makes him a tantalizing talent. This trio should immediately find traction for both Mitchell Trubisky and Jordan Howard to have success.
Cincinnati Bengals: LB Malik Jefferson
A high-profile recruit who never quite reached the hype at the University of Texas, linebacker Malik Jefferson may benefit from a more refined role and a big opportunity to start his career. The new Cincinnati Bengals linebacker steps into a linebacker corps having to cover for Vontaze Burfict's four-game suspension. Jefferson's incredible athleticism will be a perfect fit for the weak-side linebacker job while Burfict is out.
If Jefferson plays well, then the Bengals would be more likely to explore ways to move on from the troublesome Burfict. The 6'3", 240-pound Jefferson is devastatingly fast shooting gaps and refined his tackling efficiency in 2017 as he finished with 110 total tackles. He's not yet ready to be a middle linebacker full-time, as his processing and ability to shed blocks is lacking, but that's why the weak-side job is a better fit for him.
The third-round pick also has considerable upside in coverage assignments. Though he wasn't asked to cover tight ends often, he is a quality player in space against receivers and running backs.
Cincinnati's staff must instill confidence in Jefferson and keep him playing to his uncommon strengths. If the coaches do, he's going to be a major steal and a notable surprise.
Cleveland Browns: WR Antonio Callaway
One of the top priorities for the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL draft was to inject a massive amount of talent into the offense after last year's terrible results. They accomplished that with four of their first six picks being on that side of the ball. Fourth-round receiver Antonio Callaway is risky after he missed the 2017 season, but his talent can make it all worthwhile.
Callaway was one of the more physically gifted players in the class, possessing the ability to get on top of corners before they can transition out of their backpedal. He just never had the quarterback play to take full advantage of those opportunities.
Callaway has a history of marijuana-related incidents but showed remorse in admitting his issues. If he can adhere to NFL rules on marijuana, then his speed will cause him to leapfrog other young receivers on the roster.
Dallas Cowboys: TE Dalton Schultz
The timing of Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten's retirement rumors—which were confirmed Thursday— weren't ideal for the team to potentially hide its need to address the position. The Philadelphia Eagles moved in front of the Cowboys in the second round to take Dallas Goedert, who may have been a Cowboy had the Eagles not known about it. Nevertheless, the Cowboys had a great draft haul, and now all eyes will be on Dalton Schultz.
The former Stanford Cardinal was never an overly productive player in college, totaling just 55 receptions, 555 yards and five touchdowns in three years. So expectations aren't for him to become a Pro Bowler, but he's also athletic enough to become more than a depth piece as a rookie. Schultz will be a contributor for this Cowboys passing attack in 2018.
His main competition for the starting job will be project Rico Gathers and third-year tight end Geoff Swaim. Neither has built any clout for the team to put faith into, leaving the door wide open for Schultz. As a fourth-rounder, he would be a good return on investment as a second tight end, and winning the job would be a big surprise.
Denver Broncos: DB Isaac Yiadom
Since trading All-Pro cornerback Aqib Talib, Denver hasn't found a clear replacement. While incumbent Bradley Roby is ready to be a full-time starter, the Broncos needed to add a capable outside corner to keep Chris Harris Jr. in his familiar slot role. That's where third-rounder Isaac Yiadom can make his mark.
The 6'1", 190-pounder is an average athlete, and that was reflected as he was utilized in multiple roles at Boston College. His technique as a corner is going to be what determines whether he can overcome mediocre speed and fluidity to be a starter. But with his main competition being Tramaine Brock and Will Parks, he can outperform expectations of being a backup or nickel piece exclusively.
Yiadom will fit into Talib's press-heavy role because he's one of the more physical defensive backs with effective hand usage and play strength. If the Broncos want to use Harris on the boundary more often, which he is capable of, then Yiadom would still be battling Brock and Parks for the starting nickel job. Neither has cemented himself as anything more than rotational depth at this point, so a hot training camp can lock Yiadom in as a starter.
Detroit Lions: C Frank Ragnow
Even a first-round pick can blow away expectations and be a surprisingly effective contributor. That'll be the case for Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow, who was a dominant collegiate player as he manned the middle of Arkansas' punishing rush attack. Ragnow is one of the best center prospects of the last decade, possessing elite movement ability at 6'5" and 308 pounds.
The three-year starter benefitted from notching experience at two positions. His knowledge of both the right guard and center spot shows on down-blocks and in his spacing on pulls. He's quick to the point of attack and maximizes the impact he creates.
His fit in the Lions' line couldn't be better, and that's why he'll outperform expectations. While most of Detroit's rookie class will be rotational players at best this year, he'll help the offensive line be an elite unit in 2018. The running game will finally become more of a threat.
Green Bay Packers: WR J'Mon Moore
It's clear that the Green Bay Packers felt their receiving corps needed an overhaul. They took three WRs on Day 3 of the draft, and it's their first who will surprise the most. Former Missouri receiver J'Mon Moore will quickly become a favorite of All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Moore brings a changeup to the receiving room, which will still be led by veterans Davante Adams and Randall Cobb but lacks a clear third option. He has terrific route running and an ability to create space quickly off the line of scrimmage. He's not a dominant vertical or downfield player but will bring value immediately as a short and intermediate receiver.
He's more polished than all of the young receivers sans Adams in the group, and that'll endear him to Rodgers, who has had to increasingly create time on his own as receivers struggle to get open. Moore will allow the offense to stay on time and within rhythm, reducing the responsibility on Rodgers' shoulders. It won't take him long to earn considerable playing time.
Houston Texans: WR Keke Coutee
A fourth-round pick to the Houston Texans, former Texas Tech receiver Keke Coutee will be the latest playmaker to benefit from playing with electric quarterback Deshaun Watson. But Watson will also see the dividends of playing with a true slot man after the hodgepodge of athletes the Texans have tried to convert to the position. Coutee's experience settling into zones will separate him from Braxton Miller and Bruce Ellington for this role.
The 5'10", 180-pounder amassed 159 receptions, 2,424 yards and 17 touchdowns in his three-year career in the Red Raiders' spread offense. Watson will remind Coutee of former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, as both are terrific passers when the play breaks down and it's time to create something out of nothing.
Reliability will also be a factor in Coutee's favor. While Miller and Ellington have struggled to stay healthy, Coutee didn't miss a game in his final two seasons. The unit will resemble a prototypical model with Coutee in between the dominant DeAndre Hopkins and the speedy Will Fuller V.
Indianapolis Colts: WR Deon Cain
One of the biggest winners from the third day of the 2018 NFL draft was wide receiver Deon Cain. The former Clemson Tiger may not play with superstar Andrew Luck right away as Luck's status is still up in the air, but even Jacoby Brissett would help Cain be a valuable surprise for this offense. Brissett is one of the better deep passers in the league, and the Colts have a big need for playmaking.
The Colts have two proven NFL receivers in T.Y. Hilton and Ryan Grant, with a clear opening for a vertical threat on the outside. Cain's athletic profile shows two significant advantages in speed and change of direction, and he translates that speed to the field. Playing Cain will force defenses to keep their safeties high, which will open up space over the middle for tight end Jack Doyle.
Most telling about Cain's collegiate production was his absurd 18.1-yards-per-catch average in 2015-16 with Deshaun Watson at quarterback. He's a big-play magnet even in a limited role. Chances are good that he'll earn a starting job quickly this summer.
Jacksonville Jaguars: S Ronnie Harrison
The Jacksonville Jaguars' lavish spending will finally catch up to them next offseason, as they're set to be over the cap by $17.8 million. Their rollover cap from this year will help negate that, but they've already started to make tough decisions. The team declined the fifth-year option on edge-rusher Dante Fowler Jr., and that won't be the last cost-saving move.
Veteran Barry Church is a possible cut next year, too, as he's set to make $6.3 million. The Jaguars grabbed his potential replacement in the 2018 third round in Ronnie Harrison. The former Alabama strong safety hits like a hammer, making it possible for him to also fill a pseudo-linebacker role.
Harrison is a little limited in coverage because of his lack of speed and flexibility to turn and run, but the Jaguars already use two high safeties the majority of the time. He's proved capable of holding his own with a half-field responsibility at Alabama. He'll begin this year as a rotational piece, but it won't be surprising if the Jaguars begin to decrease Church's snaps in favor of Harrison as the year goes on.
Kansas City Chiefs: S Armani Watts
My instant reaction to the Kansas City Chiefs' draft haul was that it was mediocre. The only clear path for playing time is for nose tackle Derrick Nnadi as a one- or two-down run-stuffer and safety Armani Watts. Watts was a great selection in the fourth round as a deep safety, and he will be a surprise despite being drafted where backups are usually drafted.
The Chiefs lack competition for Watts as a true free safety who can cover significant ground from a single-high alignment. Incumbents Eric Murray and Daniel Sorensen are better in the box as third safeties who lack the instincts and athletic advantage to do more than that role. Watts has the rare ability to find the ball and create turnovers.
His production—10 career interceptions, five fumbles recovered and seven fumbles forced—is as impressive from the position as any safety's in the last few classes. Finding a starter in the fourth round would be huge considering the rest of their class may not provide much of an impact in the first year.
Los Angeles Chargers: RB Justin Jackson
Former Northwestern star back Justin Jackson fell into the seventh round, which was a sign of how deep the positional class was. Jackson was stuck in an offense that lacked impactful blocking, often leaving him to grind out tough yards. The 6'0", 199-pounder has a great opportunity to establish himself as the backup in Los Angeles despite being a late-round flier.
He will benefit from not having to be a workhorse like he was in college, where he accumulated 1,264 touches, 6,298 yards from scrimmage and 42 total touchdowns. He's as much of a receiving threat as he is as a runner. His durability and reliability will translate because he's also a tremendous athlete despite being underweight.
With premier explosion scores and open-field quickness, Jackson will benefit from a spread offense like Los Angeles'. He's a supercharged version of Austin Ekeler and similar to Danny Woodhead. He could become a highly efficient third-down back behind Melvin Gordon.
Los Angeles Rams: LB Micah Kiser
The Los Angeles Rams didn't have many major needs entering the 2018 NFL draft. They had to add offensive line depth, a pass-rusher who could play this year and a competent middle linebacker. They hit on each of those.
As for the latter, fifth-round linebacker Micah Kiser will walk into one of the league's weaker positional battles. He's set up to succeed instantly, and one year from now he'll look like a considerable steal for a mid-Day 3 pick. The hope for players at this stage of the draft is to be a special teamer, but Kiser will give the Rams much more.
He totaled at least 117 tackles in each of the three years he started at Virginia. His ability to make plays around and behind the line of scrimmage thanks to his quick first step will be a difference-maker when it comes down to him or Bryce Hager for the starting job. His 19 career sacks, 12 passes defensed, six fumble recoveries and eight forced fumbles all help highlight a playmaker's skill set at a position where the Rams are weakest, making it likely he outperforms his draft-slot expectation.
Miami Dolphins: RB Kalen Ballage
Two years after drafting athletic running back project Kenyan Drake, the Miami Dolphins returned to the well to select Kalen Ballage. Like Drake coming out of Alabama, Ballage is a poor interior runner who struggles to stay patient while plays develop. But Drake's flourished as a tough-nosed, relentless back with excellent acceleration. He also has balance to offset his issues, and Ballage shows much of the same upside.
The most impressive aspect of Ballage's game was on display at the 2018 Senior Bowl, where he was moved around as an H-back who could make catches out of different alignments. The Dolphins needed to fill Damien Williams' roster spot, and Ballage is capable. Miami can afford to take it slow with him as a runner, considering veteran Frank Gore's arrival.
His 4.4 yards-per-carry average over his four-year career is abysmal compared to his peers. Investing into a 6'2", 228-pounder who blazed a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 6.91-second three-cone drill is a good roll of the dice, though, especially when his responsibilities won't be tethered to the run game this year.
Minnesota Vikings: G Colby Gossett
A team as set as the Minnesota Vikings rarely has a starting opportunity for a rookie, but sixth-rounder Colby Gossett has the chance to jump from Appalachian State to starter on a Super Bowl contender. The 6'5", 311-pound right guard was one of the Sun Belt's top players, as his blend of athleticism and a readymade frame is oozing with untapped potential.
While the Vikings could've justified drafting two guards, Gossett won't have much competition in front of him. 2017 fifth-round pick Danny Isidora and Gossett should have the inside track on starting, completing the overhaul of a line that was in shambles as recently as two years ago. Like Isidora, Gossett has great movement ability that translates into Minnesota's balanced zone-and-gap rush attack nicely.
It's likely Gossett will finish the year with significantly more snaps than second-round tackle Brian O'Neill. Gossett's not a perfect technician and would benefit from adding more functional strength to his lower body, but he can do enough to hold his own as a rookie. It'll also help having second-year center Pat Elflein next to him.
New England Patriots: OT Isaiah Wynn
If one just looked at the film of all the left tackles in the 2018 draft class, former Georgia lineman Isaiah Wynn was the most dominant. But because Wynn is short for the position, standing 6'3" and weighing 313 pounds, he fell into the New England Patriots' laps at No. 23 overall. Length is important for tackles to keep edge-rushers out of their core, but Wynn's technical prowess is so good that he'll overcome it.
This was also the perfect fit because of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia's presence. Scarnecchia's going to get the most out of any lineman he works with, and Wynn's key to survival will be staying patient in his kick slides and keeping active with impactful hand usage. His staying at left tackle and finding rookie success will be a surprising development to those who thought Wynn would have to move inside because of his lack of size.
The additions of Wynn and former San Francisco 49ers tackle Trent Brown will instantly boost the unit's pass-blocking upside. Quarterback Tom Brady needs a strong line to stay healthy. Wynn's ability to mirror rushers and stay balanced throughout contact will keep his value high as a tackle.
New Orleans Saints: DB Kamrin Moore
The New Orleans Saints have made a concerted effort to improve their special teams over the last few years. They've acquired enough depth on both sides of the ball that it's unlikely they'll draft immediate starters, making it important they target cheap, talented special teamers to provide an impact in the third phase of the game. That's where sixth-round pick Kamrin Moore will make a difference.
The 5'11" corner likely won't see the field on defense unless injuries pile up, and the rest of the Saints' rookies have defined roles. Moore's a feisty special teams gunner with good speed and experience. The latter point is key, as most collegiate studs never play special teams because of the large rosters.
Moore has a path to becoming their fifth corner as well. The only other slot option the Saints have is starter Patrick Robinson.
New York Giants: Edge-Rusher Lorenzo Carter
Part of the fallout from the New York Giants' decision to take running back Saquon Barkley second overall was the sacrifice they had to make with a pass-rusher. By waiting to fill the most important defensive position, they wound up with uber-athlete Lorenzo Carter in the third round. The Georgia alum has the chance to claim a premier position for a team aiming to make the playoffs after a disastrous 2017.
The concern with waiting to draft a player such as Carter is his production has never matched his talent, as he had just 14 sacks over four seasons. But they're gambling he'll capitalize on an opportunity to play across from Olivier Vernon. Interestingly, per MockDraftable, his athleticism compares closely to that of another former SEC edge-rusher who lacked collegiate production, LSU's Danielle Hunter, now of the Minnesota Vikings.
Hunter's improvement came thanks to an unleashed role, and Carter will need to be allowed to do the same. Keeping him focused on the quarterback early will maximize his natural gifts. He stands to earn a lot of snaps even as a sub-package player early on, so don't be surprised if he accumulates more sacks than what's normally the case from a middle-rounder.
New York Jets: DT Nathan Shepherd
The New York Jets have one of the NFL's most uniquely run defenses. Instead of relying on the second level to help blitz, head coach Todd Bowles prefers them in coverage, putting a big emphasis on his down linemen to create pressure. The Jets allocated two picks and traded for defensive end Henry Anderson during the draft to help beef up the latter unit.
Nathan Shepherd was the key selection. He's a big man from a small school, standing 6'4" and weighing 315 pounds. His film from Fort Hays State was dominant, and he backed it up with an impressive combine. His explosion drills were all above the 52nd percentile among defensive tackles, drawing a MockDraftable comparison to 2017 Cleveland Browns breakout rookie Larry Ogunjobi.
While most expect small-school players to take a back seat for a few years, Shepherd will be ready for 2018. He has the opportunity to earn a starting job across from Leonard Williams despite being a third-round pick. He'll whip slower tackles and guards with a quick first step when aligned over the top.
Oakland Raiders: LB Azeem Victor
There have been few depth charts as weak as the Oakland Raiders' linebacker situation over the last few years. The position wasn't addressed properly this offseason either, as the team added only replacement-level veterans Tahir Whitehead and Emmanuel Lamur. While the Raiders have been justly criticized for their rookie class, taking a flier on Washington linebacker Azeem Victor could pay off if he's healthy.
Victor didn't play much in 2017 as he recovered from a fractured right leg that required surgery toward the end of 2016. His explosiveness wasn't fully back in the fall, but the combine did contain signs that the 6'2", 240-pounder has tools. If Victor is 100 percent healthy, he can earn his way onto the field.
His 2015 season was stellar, as he was flying around the tackle box as a plus-finisher in space. But he wasn't eligible for the draft as a true sophomore, and he never recaptured that momentum. Unless Whitehead shows more run-game prowess, the Raiders will be pleasantly surprised by Victor's run-stopping ability and speed.
Philadelphia Eagles: CB Avonte Maddox
The Philadelphia Eagles quickly recovered from losing star slot corner Patrick Robinson to the New Orleans Saints in free agency by drafting Pittsburgh's Avonte Maddox in Round 4. The 125th overall pick will immediately earn a starting job, as he has the ideal frame and mindset to become a high-end slot corner.
The Eagles are also loaded with boundary corners, and Maddox's competition will likely be safeties instead of an established veteran.
The 5'9", 184-pounder has terrific change-of-direction skills and short-area burst. Although his size and route recognition make him a mixed bag in man assignments, the Eagles run one of the league's heaviest zone-coverage defenses. Maddox will benefit considerably from this, as he'll keep receivers in front of him and react quickly to incoming passes.
Most importantly, Maddox has the ball skills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has favored. His 34 passes defensed and eight interceptions are elite production. His blend of toughness, experience and knack for playing the ball will endear him immediately to the staff.
Pittsburgh Steelers: HB Jaylen Samuels
The Pittsburgh Steelers may have had a controversial draft, but their decision to take H-back Jaylen Samuels from North Carolina State may end up being one of Day 3's best. Samuels is a versatile athlete who's made plays wherever he's been asked to.
The 6'0", 225-pounder racked up 2,958 total yards as a running back and receiver, averaging 7.7 yards per touch and 47 scores. He's a tough-nosed runner with enough speed to break off chunk plays. The Steelers have one of few offenses that can use him with its current personnel without making it known he may get the ball.
Samuels worked out with the tight ends at the combine, but he'll provide depth as a slot receiver more than a traditional tight end because of his lack of length. But on third downs and in the red zone, he'll bring shiftiness that will be valuable when facing linebackers and less-athletic safeties.
San Francisco 49ers: CB Tarvarius Moore
New San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tarvarius Moore made the jump from one-year starter at Southern Miss to a top-100 pick. He's a stunning athlete, ranking in the 97th percentile or better in the 20-yard split, 40-yard dash and broad jump. The 6'1", 199-pounder has the ideal body to develop into a playmaking corner.
Despite the fact that he played at safety, the 49ers see the upside in trying him at corner, per Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. He played 13 games in 2017, leading the team with 87 tackles and three interceptions. He also had 10 pass breakups and is oozing with raw talent.
He has a potential path to making an impact, too. Ahkello Witherspoon and Richard Sherman will play, but the rest of the corner depth chart is unsettled. If Sherman suffers a setback from his torn Achilles, Moore can start if he can beat out fellow rookies D.J. Reed and Tarvarus McFadden. He has the physical profile to do it and shock everyone.
Seattle Seahawks: OT Jamarco Jones
The Seattle Seahawks' draft looks as if the franchise is pivoting back to being a run-heavy offense. That it prioritized the running back position in the first round with Rashaad Penny was surprising, but so was the decision to take Ohio State tackle Jamarco Jones in Round 5. While he doesn't fit their usual athletic standards, he has the chance to prove the numbers wrong if he plays well.
Jones is a little undersized at 6'4", 299 pounds, but he was an efficient, high-quality player in college. He also had one of the worst combine performances of all time, according to Pride of Detroit's Kent Lee Platte. Though the odds are against Jones, he'll be squared off against Germain Ifedi for the starting right tackle job.
Keeping Jones as a downhill blocker will help maximize his output and keep him in his comfort zone. Ohio State often called inside zone and trap runs, and Seattle can benefit from that.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Alex Cappa
Three years after finding a huge success story in Hobart guard Ali Marpet, Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht went back to the small-school well in Round 3 to draft Alex Cappa. The Humboldt State product will play right tackle for the Buccaneers, as Licht told WDAE-AM 620 (via Bonnie Mott of Bucs Wire). Considering Demar Dotson hasn't played a full season since 2014, Cappa can be the latest Day 2 success story for Licht.
The 6'6", 305-pound Cappa dominated his competition and drew NFL attention. He's a power-blocker despite being light for his frame, combining advanced hand work and leverage play. He often threw defenders out of the way as if he were competing against middle schoolers.
That won't happen as much in the NFL, and Cappa must continue to add muscle to improve in the run game. But he's likely to get the chance to play, and if he does, he's one of the rare Division II rookies who could make an impact.
Tennessee Titans: S Dane Cruikshank
There weren't many candidates for the Tennessee Titans, as they only selected four players. Their first two, linebacker Rashaan Evans and edge-rusher Harold Landry, should be impactful. Sixth-round quarterback Luke Falk will fight for a roster spot. That leaves safety Dane Cruikshank, who would've been a strong candidate for this pick even if the Titans had 10 draft selections.
Cruikshank was a two-year contributor for Arizona. He's a tremendous athlete, has great size (6'1", 209 lbs) and is a devastating hitter over the middle. He had five interceptions, 12 passes defensed and a forced fumble in two years. His 4.41-second 40 speed and 25 combine bench press reps show at the point of impact as he disrupts passing attacks.
Cruikshank will earn the third safety role Da'Norris Searcy once occupied. He'll also be a key special teamer. He can be a super-subpackage contributor who plays at 100 mph and ends up around the ball.
Washington Redskins: RB Derrius Guice
The draft process for new Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice was a rough one. He was slammed for immaturity despite being someone "who does not drink, does not smoke, does not have a criminal record," per the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero's source. There's also been much doubt cast on his ability to impact the passing game thanks to just 32 career receptions and poor pass-blocking tape.
The latter concern is fair, but no team can mitigate those weaknesses like the Redskins, since they have Chris Thompson. Thompson's a premier third-down back with elite receiving skill, so it's unlikely any rookie running back would've seized his role in 2018.
Guice can continue to improve, but in the meantime, he'll be the hammer who'll drive this offense. He's the first true star back the franchise has had since Clinton Portis.
Guice is powerful even when he doesn't fully lower his shoulder into tacklers. He's quick enough to avoid big hits and has the acceleration to pull away for chunk plays. He has the potential to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year.