NFL Rookies Drafted by the Wrong Teams
It's never too early to pinpoint potential flaws in rookie selections. At times, it's fairly easy to see where an NFL front office could have done better with filling roster voids. Perhaps a team should have thought twice about a prospect before choosing another.
At this point, a coaching staff can justify any pick. However, some of the selections raised eyebrows as questionable fits. Did a club whiff on a high draft choice? Did a general manager erroneously add depth over need?
The eight team-prospect matches below don't fall under the head-scratcher category. The teams may have acquired a talented asset, but the players may soon realize another landing spot would've been a quicker jump-start for their professional careers.
Who are the odd men out, and where should they have gone in April's draft?
Mike Hughes, Cornerback, Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings went with the best player available at No. 30. Mike Hughes is joining a crowded cornerback unit with multiple layers of depth and two established starters on the boundaries.
Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes started 16 games apiece in the previous campaign. They're both former first-rounders (2013 and 2015, respectively), and the Vikings exercised the latter's fifth-year option for 2019.
The Vikings re-signed their primary slot defender from the previous term in Terence Newman. He is heading into his age-40 season but will still be a valuable asset in the secondary. Mackensie Alexander, the team's 2016 second-rounder, took a significant amount of snaps in the slot as well.
In Minnesota, Hughes may not see significant snaps until 2020 unless he's able to beat Alexander for a spot on the inside.
Better Fit: Jacksonville Jaguars
The UCF product would have landed in an ideal spot at No. 29 to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who let their slot cornerback, Aaron Colvin, walk in free agency. Hughes could've pushed D.J. Hayden, who signed with the team in March, for his spot on the inside.
Jessie Bates, Safety, Cincinnati Bengals
Interceptions can fluctuate from one year to the next, but the Cincinnati Bengals likely acquired safety Jessie Bates with the intention to generate more turnovers. During rookie minicamp, he flashed as a punt returner, according to Jay Morrison of the Dayton Daily News. But the Wake Forest product would turn more heads as a ball hawk on the back end.
Bates must climb a steep hill to see extensive time on the field with Shawn Williams and George Iloka in the starting spots. Last year, cornerback Darqueze Dennard and safety Josh Shaw played the most snaps in the slot.
Better Fit: Kansas City Chiefs
The second-rounder could push for limited looks in a reserve role, but he may have stepped into a starting spot with the Kansas City Chiefs. Eric Berry's position flexibility provides room for Bates' deep coverage ability in the secondary.
Kansas City selected safety Armani Watts in the fourth round, which isn't a poor selection in that spot. Nonetheless, Bates finds himself behind two established starters on the books through the 2020 season.
D.J. Chark, Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars have overcompensated for wideout Allen Robinson's departure to the Chicago Bears. The front office re-signed Marqise Lee, inked Donte Moncrief to a one-year deal and drafted D.J. Chark Jr. in the second round.
By the way, Keelan Cole led the team with 748 receiving yards in the previous season. Dede Westbrook spent half of his rookie year on injured reserve but flashed as a reliable target through November and December.
Did the Jaguars need a receiver in the second round with four capable playmakers at the position? No.
Better Fit: Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts should have taken Chark with one of their three second-round picks before the Jaguars' 61st selection. At 6'4", 198 pounds with a 4.34 40-yard dash, the LSU product would have challenged Ryan Grant for the No. 2 spot in a depleted wide receiver corps.
Brandon Parker, Offensive Tackle, Oakland Raiders
It's clear Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden didn't think too highly of the depth at offensive tackle.
Selecting Kolton Miller in the first round made sense with an open spot on the right side and with 35-year-old Donald Penn recovering from Lisfranc surgery. However, adding perimeter offensive lineman Brandon Parker in the third round seemed excessive.
The Raiders already had David Sharpe, Jylan Ware, Denver Kirkland, Breno Giacomini and Vadal Alexander as reserve tackles on the roster. The fifth lineman on that list will serve a four-game ban due to a performance-enhancing drug violation.
Still, assuming Penn returns, Parker probably falls into a backup role. Furthermore, he'll go through an adjustment period as an FCS product moving up in competition level.
Better Fit: Houston Texans
For those who justify Parker as a third-round pick, he would have a far better chance at taking early snaps with the Houston Texans, who need assets to push Julie'n Davenport and rookie Martinas Rankin for starting perimeter spots.
Justin Reid, Safety, Houston Texans
Last year, the Texans extended free safety Andre Hal's contract through the 2020 season. They then signed Tyrann Mathieu in March. The front office selected safety Justin Reid in the third round of the draft.
Despite Mathieu's versatility, head coach Bill O'Brien made it clear that he wants him to focus on the safety position, per Houston Chronicle reporter Aaron Wilson: "We told him that we really do value—as you know—we value versatility, but we also understand that a guy needs to have basically one home. He needs to understand and master that one home, which is safety for Tyrann."
Colvin signed a four-year deal with the team in March to fill the slot position. Regardless of how impressive Reid looks, he may have to settle for a limited role in the first couple of seasons behind an All-Pro in Mathieu and Hal, who's logged nine interceptions over the past three years.
Better Fit: Dallas Cowboys
It's hard to blame the Texans for taking Reid in the third round. He notched five interceptions and six passes defensed last year at Stanford. However, his coverage skills would have been put to immediate use with the Dallas Cowboys, who moved Byron Jones back to cornerback and need a back-end defender capable of forcing turnovers at a high rate.
Antonio Callaway, Wide Receiver, Cleveland Browns
This isn't a knock on fourth-round wideout Antonio Callaway, who owned his predraft missteps. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted a part of their conversation: "He said he smoked [marijuana] weeks before but vowed, 'I take full responsibility for everything.' Callaway said Antonio Brown counseled him 'There is too much opportunity to be messing up.'"
According to Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Mary Kay Cabot, Callaway could push 2016 first-rounder Corey Coleman far enough that the Browns ship him out of town:
"I do think that Callaway has a chance to steal some of Coleman's playing time. He starts out his career in Stage One of the NFL's Substance Abuse Policy, which means [Callaway] has very little margin for error. ...
"Coleman's first two seasons have been disrupted by broken hands, but he has to step it up this season. If someone makes the Browns a decent offer, I believe they'd trade him."
It seems as though the front office has put Coleman on the hot seat, but Callaway could encourage the team to hit the eject button. He's a talented pass-catcher, but Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis made small strides last season.
Higgins and Louis have the talent to round off a solid group behind Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry and Coleman on the depth chart. Adding the Florida product limits their potential opportunities in the aerial attack. As a result, we'll probably see minimal progress from both receivers in the upcoming campaign.
Better Fit: Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings signed wideout Kendall Wright to a one-year deal, but Callaway would have been a solid pick to push another underachieving 2016 first-rounder in Laquon Treadwell for the No. 3 spot. There's less wide receiver depth in Minnesota compared to Cleveland and more opportunities for a middle-round pick with high upside.
Kyle Lauletta, Quarterback, Richmond
The New York Giants opted to take running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2 and added quarterback Kyle Lauletta in the fourth round. The Richmond product didn't receive as much predraft attention as Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen or Josh Allen, but NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein gave him a third-round grade.
Like many of the picks on this list, it's not a total head-scratcher, but the Giants also have 2017 third-round selection Davis Webb on the depth chart. Furthermore, based on general manager Dave Gettleman's draft picks, he's going all in on Eli Manning for at least the final two years of the 37-year-old quarterback's deal.
In a draft committed to Manning, the Giants should have considered offensive tackle Will Richardson as competition for Ereck Flowers, who will line up on the right side this year.
Better Fit: New Orleans Saints
The FCS product doesn't have the strongest arm, but the New Orleans Saints have a big-body target in Michael Thomas (6'3", 212 lbs) and reliable options in the short passing game out of the backfield.
Furthermore, the current backup, Tom Savage, completed 56.1 percent of his passes with the Texans last season and struggled to find the end zone for the majority of his time in Houston. Lauletta could have at least given the Saints another potential option for a successor to the 39-year-old Drew Brees.
DaeSean Hamilton, Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos
Penn State product DaeSean Hamilton isn't short on confidence. Prior to the draft, he appeared on NFL Network's Good Morning Football and stated he's a top-10 wide receiver and leads his peers as a route-runner.
It's too bad we may not see those skills on full display early in Denver. He's slotted behind Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and fellow rookie wideout Courtland Sutton.
Furthermore, the Broncos hope quarterback Case Keenum will replicate his play from the previous campaign to put all those players to use. As the No. 4 wide receiver in an offense with a 30-year-old quarterback who's flashed for one season, it's not an ideal landing spot.
Better Fit: New York Jets
The New York Jets only have three wide receiver salaries on the books beyond 2018, per Spotrac. Within a unit likely undergoing changes next season, Hamilton would have had an opportunity to build chemistry with Darnold in a short period.