NFL Draft 2019: Round 4-7 Grades for Every Pick
Day 3 of the 2019 NFL draft is underway, and Bleacher Report has you covered with grades, scouting reports, analysis and insights on:
- Impact wide receivers like Iowa State's Hakeem Butler, who slipped through the cracks in the first three rounds;
- Versatile defenders like West Virginia linebacker David Long and Florida defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who could immediately help teams;
- Developmental quarterbacks like Washington State's Gardner Minshew and Buffalo's Tyree Jackson, who could be the guys everyone is talking about in three years;
and much more!
Stay with us for all the action all day Saturday!
Round 4 Pick-by-Pick Grades
103. Arizona Cardinals: Hakeem Butler, Wide Receiver, Iowa State
They’re mighty! They’re fascinating! They’re flawed! Get ready, true believers: Here’s the skinny on a member of the 2019 Draft Class Legion of Wide Receiver Superheroes!
Superpowers: Super size, super speed, super everything
One Weakness: Hands cursed by the ancient trickster deity Dropskizotl
Superhero Comparison: Groot
Butler shares the beloved Guardian of the Galaxy’s ability to reach out with branch-like appendages and overpower opponents with his size and arboreal strength. Groot is also the ultimate team player.
Wide Receiver Comparison: Vincent Jackson
Secret Superhero File
Butler dropped 12 passes last season and 21 in the last two, per Sports Info Solutions. The drops are a combination of obvious concentration lapses and plays in which Butler brings in the ball awkwardly. He needs some work on the JUGS Machine, and probably some coaching on the finer points of catching a football (hand placement when waiting for the ball to come, etc.).
Once the dropsies are brought under control, the Cardinals will have an uncanny weapon on contested catches and along the deep sidelines. Butler tracks the ball well and can snatch it from impossible-looking locations. He’s also a load after the catch with surprising agility to go with his size and speed. He also gets high marks for character/work habits.
This is a great pick: outstanding value, a player who can be mentored by Larry Fitzgerald and someone who can combine with tiny second-round pick Andy Isabella to create a variety of mismatches in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.
104. Cincinnati Bengals: Ryan Finley, Quarterback, North Carolina State
Deadly accurate quarterback comparison: Mike Glennon 2.0
Finley is the ultimate generic-brand quarterback prospect: tall and experienced at a major program with a pretty good arm. I once described Daniel Jones as a “chicken quesadilla” prospect: the quarterback equivalent of the bar snack you order when you are hungry but don’t know what you want. Finley is the shrink-wrapped turkey sandwich for which you pay $16 at the airport.
He’s a good underneath passer who puts nice touch on deep passes between the numbers. But his deep sideline throws lack zip and accuracy, he locks on to his primary receiver, and mistakes snowball when he gets pressured.
Finley maxes out as a peripatetic backup who will probably get a handful of starting opportunities because NFL decision-makers are the kinds of guys who eat an awful lot of airport turkey sandwiches.
This is the Bengals’ version of the Giants’ Daniel Jones selection. Finley isn’t a replacement for Andy Dalton. He’s a justification to keep starting Andy Dalton. And the Bengals traded up to do it. Ugh.
105. New Orleans Saints: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Safety, Florida
Strengths: Speed, versatility
Weaknesses: Physicality, tackling technique
Gardner-Johnson called himself the “most versatile defensive back in the draft” at the combine, and there may be something to that. He played mostly slot corner for the Gators, moving to strong safety in some packages, and he has the man-coverage chops to handle tight ends and running backs who flex out.
Gardner-Johnson was a prep track star who ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at the combine, and the speed and burst are evident on tape. He can be effective as a blitzer, and while he’ll overrun some plays and get washed out by the left tackle in others, he’s good enough in run support to be a factor.
It’s a matchup-based league, and every defense needs a player like Gardner-Johnson who can handle a variety of assignments based on the offensive personnel. This is a safe, smart selection that feels a need. It’s also a fine value at the start of the fourth round.
106. Oakland Raiders: Maxx Crosby, Edge-Rusher, Eastern Michigan
Strengths: Length, quickness
Crosby recorded 18.5 sacks in the last two seasons, with enough production against opponents like San Diego State (2.5 sacks last year) and Kentucky (2.0 sacks in 2017) to prove he wasn’t just feasting on mid-major also-rans. Crosby has long arms and legs, some pass-rushing
moves and a careening style that straddles the line between “aggressive” and “almost uncoordinated.” He flails around the field in pursuit and is easy to knock off balance because of a lack of leverage and upper-body strength.
Crosby is a long-range project with traits that could turn him into a top sack producer if harnessed. He also joins Maxx Williams as the only double-X Maxxes in NFL history. Double-X Maxx was probably a popular baby name in the mid-1990s, because even babies were really exxtreme in the mid-1990s.
The Raiders need edge-rushers in bundles after recording just 13 sacks last year, and Crosby and top pick Clelin Ferrell will upgrade their pass rush. But then, there was nowhere to go but up, and the Raiders appear to have picked both players a little too high.
107. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anthony Nelson, Defensive End, Iowa
Strengths: Size, quickness, hand technique
Weaknesses: Leverage, high-end agility
This is a great draft for both eye-popping edge-rushers and sturdy defensive ends who don’t blow you away with superheroic moves but do a lot of things well. Nelson falls into the latter category: He’s a big guy (6’7”, 271 lbs) with a rip move and other techniques to keep pass protectors off balance, plays the run well and has enough quickness to be more than a blocking sled on passing downs. Don’t expect double-digit sacks from Nelson, but he can stay on the field for three downs and be a factor against both the run and pass. He’ll play an immediate role on a team whose defensive end depth chart consists of Jason Pierre-Paul and a lot of failed projects.
108. New York Giants: Julian Love, Cornerback, Notre Dame
Strengths: Zone coverage awareness
Weaknesses: High-level traits
Love, a three-year starter for the Irish, projects as a useful nickel or dime cornerback: smart, alert, capable of handling most assignments and just big and fast enough to not be a liability. His upside is limited, and his man coverage, press technique and ability to shed blocks all need refinement before he becomes anything more than a role player.
Other draft analysts are much higher on Love than I am. But Love does fill a need for a team that drafted Deandre Baker late in the first round and needs a lot more depth and competition in the secondary.
109. Indianapolis Colts: Khari Willis, Safety, Michigan State
Strengths: Hustle, physicality
Weaknesses: Overall athleticism
Hey, the Colts traded two fourth-round picks to move up! And they didn’t use the pick on a linebacker I think is a reach. Instead, they crossed things up by selecting a strong safety I think is a reach.
Willis is a high-effort defender with a knack for showing up at the end of the play to clean up a tackle or pull a teammate off the ground after a pass breakup. Yep, that’s faint praise on a scouting report. Willis lacks the speed and lateral quickness to be effective in coverage or be a factor off the blitz, and he will overrun some tackling opportunities because he has to go full speed to get involved. Hustle and experience make him worth a look to see if he can become more than a special teamer.
The Colts are just trolling at this point. I’m gonna give this one a harsh grade, and if I look like a nitwit about it by mid-October, so be it.
110. San Francisco 49ers: Mitch Wishnowsky. Punter, Utah
Wishnowsky is a former Aussie rules football player. He’s a big, physical athlete (6’2”, 218 lbs) who ran a 4.63 40-yard dash at the combine. Most of his booming punts came on running-start-style kicks (which would get blocked in the NFL), but he has other clubs in his bag, including the ability to flop the ball in the coffin corner after a quick-step delivery. He has the upside to be a Pro Bowl-caliber punter, but his delivery needs a lot of fine-tuning.
I like Wishnowsky, but he’s not the top punter on my board (yes, I have a punter board). And of course, this is the fourth freakin’ round, and the 49ers have lots of other work to do, so you know what’s coming, gradewise.
111. Atlanta Falcons: Kendall Sheffield, Cornerback, Ohio State
Strengths: Speed, athleticism
Weaknesses: Technique, physicality
Based on their selections so far, the Falcons’ long-term strategy consists of:
-Drafting the biggest, most likable guys they can find;
-Keeping Matt Ryan alive forever;
-Losing lots of games by 56-53 final scores because they built their entire roster out of guards and ignored critical needs on defense.
Looks like they are finally addressing their defense. It’s about time.
Sheffield is a top track athlete (he set the Ohio State record in the 60 meters last year) who transferred from Alabama (by way of Blinn College) and started 17 games over two years for the Buckeyes. He has the long speed to stay with any receiver and looks the part of a top press cornerback, but opposing quarterbacks aren’t afraid to challenge him because he doesn’t track deep balls or play his receiver well and doesn’t work to position himself to take away the passing window.
Sheffield’s a developmental speed-size guy. He’s not a bad value in this round, but from a big-picture standpoint, he may be a little too little, a little too late.
112. Washington Redskins: Bryce Love, Running Back, Stanford
Strengths: Patience, explosion
Love tore his ACL at the end of last season and had ankle injuries prior to that. His yardage total dropped from 2,118 yards (8.1 yards per carry) to 739 (4.5 ypc) as a result of the injuries, weaker blocking and a more pass-oriented Cardinal offense.
The 2017 version of Love looked like LeSean McCoy at his best. Love excelled at following convoys of blockers from the I formation or on pulling-lineman plays, exploding through a crease and then stringing together moves on the second level to turn six-yard gains into 30-yarders. The Love we saw in 2018 still had a burst and long speed but was more likely to get tripped up in the open field or not quite create space for himself with a jump cut.
Love would have been a top-15 pick in 2018, so this could be a steal. And he can swap injury stories with Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice. Let’s just hope they aren’t always meeting around the MRI machine.
113. Baltimore Ravens: Justice Hill, Running Back, Oklahoma State
Strengths: Speed, elusiveness
Weaknesses: Size, power
Hill is a lean runner with outstanding burst and wiggly hips in the open field. He’s at his best on draw plays, misdirection runs and when he gets the ball in space. He lacks the power to run between the tackles when everything isn’t blocked up, has rudimentary receiving and pass-rushing skills and can be easy to bring down when moving laterally behind the line of scrimmage.
Look for Hill to be a changeup back for Mark Ingram II. And after the Hollywood Brown and Miles Boykin selections earlier in the draft, I want to play the Ravens on Madden as soon as possible.
114. Minnesota Vikings: Dru Samia, Guard, Oklahoma
Strengths: Size, quickness
Samia was a big, ornery member of the big, ornery Sooners line. He’s quick and long-armed with a nasty finish, but he gets blown backward surprisingly often for a blocker of his size and talent. Samia needs to recite the “low man wins” mantra a little more often, though he has the talent and demeanor of a future NFL starter. He’s a fine selection to start what promises to be an active day for the Vikings.
115. Carolina Panthers: Christian Miller, Linebacker, Alabama
Strengths: Athleticism, pass-rush ability
Weaknesses: Durability, consistency
Miller was an oft-used situational defender for the Tide, not a starter, but it’s not unusual for Alabama to be so deep on the front seven that even the role players are prospects. Miller is an effective edge-rusher with some pursuit ability and coverage chops, making him a good fit at outside linebacker in what we used to call 3-4 defenses. He missed much of 2017 and last year’s national championship game with biceps and hamstring injuries, respectively, so durability may be a concern, especially if he bulks up for the NFL.
Miller is another wave/situational edge-rusher. He fills a need, but once again I have better players on the board, meaning it’s time for me to hammer the Panthers yet again.
116. Tennessee Titans: Amani Hooker, Safety, Iowa
Strengths: Instincts, physicality
Weaknesses: Range, positional limitation
Iowa coaches created a specialized safety-linebacker role for Hooker last year, and he projects as a package safety who replaces the “Will” linebacker in the NFL. He’s compact, well-built, physical and does a lot of “linebacker” things well, including sifting through space in pursuit as a run defender.
He covered slot receivers frequently for the Hawkeyes but will have to be matched up carefully in that role in the NFL.
Hooker ran a 4.48 at the combine but doesn’t play to that speed in the open field on tape. Still, I love this pick: Hooker is better than many of the hybrid/box safeties who have already been drafted.
117. Detroit Lions: Austin Bryant, Defensive End, Clemson
Strengths: Length, athletic upside
Weaknesses: Leverage, pass-rush moves
The Lions drafted Ezekiel Ansah fifth overall in 2013 and haven’t selected an edge-rusher in the first three rounds since. They added Trey Flowers in the offseason, but Flowers is more of the kind of all-purpose defender who makes Bill Belichick look brilliant than someone who records a dozen sacks for the guy who followed Belichick around with a pencil behind his ear.
Bryant had 17 sacks over the last two seasons for the best defensive line in the nation. He’s big, quick and physical but has rudimentary pass-rush moves and an upright style that gets him pushed around at times. The 6’4”, 271-pound Bryant looked good as part of the weekly Clemson feeding frenzy but doesn’t project as an 8.5-sack-per-year defender in the pros. He’s a developmental pick for a team that has needed immediate help for years.
118. New England Patriots: Hjalte Froholdt, Center/Guard, Arkansas
Strengths: Versatility, leverage
Weaknesses: Power, quickness
Froholdt began playing club-team American football in Denmark; played defensive end, tight end and punted for a high school team in Ohio as an exchange student for a year; moved back to Scandinavia to play for an adult club team; returned to America to attend a Florida performance academy; committed to Arkansas as a defensive lineman; and then moved to guard and finally to center. Got all that?
The best thing that can be said is that despite his unusual football journey, Froholdt looked like just another sturdy SEC interior lineman when facing opponents such as Alabama. He’s a find-a-way type who is still developing as a center and should stick as a multisub.
Add “dudes from Denmark” to “Navy guys,” “skinny white receivers” and “long snappers” on the list of stereotypical Day 3 Patriots selection.
119. Cleveland Browns: Sheldrick Redwine, Safety, Miami
Strengths: Speed and range
Weaknesses: Physicality and tackling
Redwine and fellow Hurricanes defensive back Jaquan Johnson were teammates in Pop Warner and at Killian High School in Miami. Imagine the poor neighborhood quarterbacks who faced them since middle school. They probably switched to baseball or bowling in the ninth grade.
While Johnson (still on the board) is more of a thumper, Redwine is a converted cornerback who played free safety last year. He has sideline-to-sideline range that makes him valuable in run support and when cleaning up plays, but he’s an inconsistent tackler who can get pushed around by blockers. He has experience and tools for coverage but is inconsistent and will misread some route combinations.
Redwine’s speed and safety-corner versatility should help him stick as a sixth or seventh defensive back. The Browns can now draft for depth and development. Times really are changing.
120. Seattle Seahawks: Gary Jennings, Wide Receiver, West Virginia
Strengths: Long speed, hands
Weaknesses: Quickness, route experience
Jennings operated mostly out of the slot for the Mountaineers in 2018 and split touches with David Sills (still on the board) and Marcus Simms. His tape is full of tunnel screens and shallow crosses, with some big plays on rub routes and deep wheel routes, making it hard to project what he will do against NFL press coverage.
Jennings is fast, experienced and has sure hands in traffic. He fits the Seahawks system well as a slot receiver and complement to second-round pick D.K. Metcalf. Add the Seahawks to the teams I can’t wait to try out in Madden.
121. New York Jets: Trevon Wesco, Tight End, West Virginia
Strengths: Size, run-blocking
Weaknesses: Receiving skills
Wesco typically lined up as an H-back in a loaded Mountaineers offense with only so many touches to go around. He caught 26 passes last year while opponents worried about stopping David Sills, Gary Jennings and others, but he’s not a smooth, natural receiver or route-runner. Wesco’s calling card is his wham-bam blocking style when crossing the formation on split-zone plays or taking on defenders at the second level.
Wesco will make an appealing lead blocker in short-yardage situations, an effective special teamer and a useful enough third tight end who can make opponents pay for assigning their slowest linebacker to him in man coverage. He may be a slight reach, but the Jets have a whole lot of question marks at tight end, so Wesco fills a need.
122. Pittsburgh Steelers: Benny Snell, Running Back, Kentucky
Strengths: Power, production
Weaknesses: Speed, versatility
Snell is the great-nephew of Jets legend Matt Snell, the all-purpose power back who was the unsung hero of Super Bowl III. Snell said at the combine he watches film of his uncle before bed. “Just a player with so much power. Power to stay low. It would take like three guys to tackle him,” Snell said of the AFL great. Yep, that was Matt Snell.
This member of the Snell family is also a load to bring down, finishes his runs hard, has some cutback ability and can generate yards even when everything is not blocked up. Lack of receiving experience and breakaway speed could limit his role, but Snell tested well at the combine, and his rugged running style could give him extra touches.
Steelers fans who are already mad at me for pointing out that the team appears to be hopelessly lost in the past can feel free to disregard this grade for a player who is a little like a less versatile Rocky Bleier.
123. Baltimore Ravens: Ben Powers, Guard, Oklahoma
Strengths: Experience, demeanor
Powers is yet another longtime Sooners starter with solid fundamentals and a nasty disposition. He’s less gifted than teammates Cody Ford and Dru Samia, but he meets NFL thresholds, and coaches love a lineman who loves to finish his blocks. I think that’s it for Oklahoma linemen, folks.
124. Seattle Seahawks: Phil Haynes, Guard, Wake Forest
Strengths: Bouncer’s mentality
Weaknesses: Bouncer’s physique
DRAFT CRUSH ALERT! (Multiple flame and heart emojis)
Haynes is a bad-body bruiser with the power to bulldoze opponents, gobs of starting experience and—this is the best part—the athleticism and awareness to pick up blitzers and slide from defender to defender in pass protection.
On the downside, Haynes has technical/balance lapses and ends up on the ground too often, particularly late in games, which suggests a conditioning issue. Once he’s leaned out slightly, Haynes could develop into another Shaq Mason.
Reports of Seattle’s offensive line improvement last year were somewhat exaggerated. The Seahawks allowed 51 sacks, the eighth-highest figure in the NFL. Look for Haynes to immediately challenge one of the veterans (Mike Iupati and D.J. Fluker) the Seahawks have penciled in at guard.
125. Cincinnati Bengals: Renell Wren, Defensive Tackle, Arizona State
Strengths: Size, power, first-step explosion
Wren frequently wins the race off the line of scrimmage, plays with great leverage and has a knack for blowing up short-yardage plays.
On the downside, Wren produced only three career sacks. The Sun Devils played him mostly at nose tackle, but even when he wasn't double-teamed, Wren could be slow to disengage and doesn't have much of a pass-rushing game.
Wren performed well during Senior Bowl week when coaches moved him off the nose to the 3- and 5-techniques and he took his explosiveness with him. Wren will start his career as a wave defender on the interior, but he could develop into a starter.
The Bengals are going to be active this afternoon. And that’s a relief, because after the offseason I was tempted to send someone around to knock on their windows to make sure they were OK.
126. Chicago Bears: Riley Ridley, Wide Receiver, Georgia
Welp, we’ve got one of these superhero capsules left, so let’s use it.
They’re mighty! They’re fascinating! They’re flawed! Get ready, true believers: Here’s the skinny on a member of the 2019 Draft Class Legion of Wide Receiver Superheroes!
Superpowers: Sticky hands, super agility
One Weakness: Sibling rivalry
Superhero Comparison: Havok
Alex Summers always pales in comparison to his older brother Scott “Cyclops” Summers, leader of the X-Men, yet he’s an effective superhero in his own right. Ridley’s brother Calvin (who plays for the Atlanta Falcons) has the flashier skills, but Riley has the potential to be an X-factor in his own right.
NFL Comparison: Robert Woods
Secret Superhero File
Ridley was trapped in a crowd of quality receivers at a run-heavy program, but he stood out because of his route running, hands, catch radius and dependable blocking. He’s the kind of receiver who can line up next to the tight end in some formations and do the run-blocking dirty work, slip past the defense on a play-action pass or snare a tough catch in traffic on 3rd-and-medium.
This is a strong value pick. Ridley is not cut out to be a star, but he will work well as a cog in the diversified Bears offense and make some of his teammates better.
127. Baltimore Ravens: Iman Marshall, Cornerback, USC
Strengths: Technique, awareness
Weaknesses: Frame, lateral quickness
Marshall was a four-year starter for the Trojans. He possesses great eyes and instincts in zone coverage, fluid hips and sound technique in man and the awareness and toughness to contribute in run support. He projects as a solid third or fourth cornerback who won’t get roasted if forced to start. Good organizations grab a dozen guys like this each offseason and make them battle for roster spots.
This is not a high-impact pick, but the Ravens have had a productive fourth round. Former general manager Ozzie Newsome must be smiling down on them. From the office he still keeps at the team facility.
128. Dallas Cowboys: Tony Pollard, Running Back, Memphis
Strengths: Jack of all trades…
Weaknesses: …you know the second half of that expression.
Meet Jaylen Samuels 2.0. Like the Steelers’ fifth-round pick last year, Pollard is a running back/receiver/H-back slash player. The Tigers slid him all around the formation, motioning him out of the backfield and often using him as a blocker in bunch-receiver formations. Pollard is dangerous with the ball in his hands, with both long speed and some tackle-breaking ability, but he’s not a natural running back and lacks the quickness and hands to play wide receiver. Pollard would have been a West Coast offense fullback in the early 1990s, catching 60 passes per season and taking some changeup handoffs. It’s not clear where he fits today, but Samuels found a niche, and Pollard can too.
So the Cowboys just got a versatile weapon for Jason Garrett to deploy creatively. Can’t wait to see how that works out.
129. Oakland Raiders: Isaiah Johnson, Cornerback, Houston
Strengths: Size/length, zone coverage
Weaknesses: Run support
Another tall cornerback (6’2”) with a fast 40 time (4.4 at the combine) and arms that reach all the way to heaven, Johnson played wide receiver for the Cougars until his junior year. He’s inexperienced at cornerback but smart and active in zone coverage. He hasn’t been tested as much in man coverage, and he’s passive when taking on blocks and defending the run. Height, speed, some awareness and the ball skills of a wide receiver: The Raiders will take it and work out the details later. Grade: B+
130. Los Angeles Chargers: Drue Tranquill, Linebacker, Notre Dame
Strengths: Experience, fundamentals
Tranquill was a starter for the Irish for so long that it feels like he was a co-captain with Joe Montana. He also does so many little things well that it’s easy to imagine him developing into a Pro Bowler. Tranquill stacks and sifts well on run defense, takes proper pursuit angles to prevent 10-yard runs from becoming 50-yarders, has experience as a safety and finds a way to ride faster tight ends and backs in man coverage. But he’s a lumbering change-of-direction athlete, which will limit him as a space defender in the NFL.
Tranquill projects as a special teams captain for the next decade. Whether he becomes more depends on how creatively the Chargers (who seemed with past picks to want to create a base 1-2-8 defense) scheme to maximize what he does well and hide his limitations. Another high-character, low-risk pick for the Chargers.
131. Washington Redskins: Wes Martin, Guard, Indiana
Strengths: Size, reliability
Martin is a sturdy, nuthin’-fancy interior lineman. Washington’s running backs will appreciate having Martin in the mix of players blocking in front of them. Once those running backs are done throwing emoji shade on the internet, anyway.
132. Seattle Seahawks: Ugo Amadi, Safety, Oregon
Strengths: Character, return skills
Weaknesses: Size-speed profile
Amadi is 5’9” but has long arms and a physical style. He was a team captain who gets high marks for leadership and can be a pesky blitzer and edge-defender in run support. He also took over punt return duties last year and produced some big plays. Amadi lacks the lateral quickness to be a mighty-mite slot corner, which makes him a square peg schematically for most teams, but the Seahawks know their type of defender when they see him.
He’s still a “football player” whom Seahawks coaches should love. Special teams skills will keep him on the roster to start his career.
133. New England Patriots: Jarrett Stidham, Quarterback, Auburn
Deadly accurate quarterback comparison: Christian Ponder
The Patriots used to draft Tom Brady heir apparents all the time: Ryan Mallett in the third round in 2011, Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round in 2014, Jacoby Brissett in the third round in 2016. Then the Garoppolo situation got weird and Brady started making Facebook documentaries about his immortality. Since then, Brady has been backed up by the non-threatening Brian Hoyer and someone named Danny the Halfling (oops, make that Danny Etling).
Stidham is an athletic, high-effort player with a broken pocket clock and spotty accuracy. He throws off his back foot, rushes his throws and sometimes looks to run at the first sign of trouble.
Stidham was less skittish and more accurate in 2017 than 2018 (when Auburn’s program fell off a bit), but the difference is sometimes overstated. Opponents like Clemson and LSU had him reaching for the ejector seat in 2017, though he did rebound with poised performances against other tough SEC foes that year. At any rate, it’s discouraging to see a quarterback’s pocket presence go in the wrong direction during his college career.
Stidham looked great in Senior Bowl seven-on-sevens and sounded great in interviews. He’s exactly that kind of quarterback. The Patriots will make a big show of claiming he’s their quarterback of the future and then trade him for a second-round pick to some desperate team.
134. Los Angeles Rams: Greg Gaines, Defensive Tackle, Washington
Gaines is a space-eater with a dad bod. He's the poster child for the “low man wins” concept, holding the point of attack against double-teams by outleveraging blockers. Gaines was a four-year regular for the Huskies but has rudimentary chops as a pass-rusher and offers little value outside the phone booth area between the guards. Gaines can eat up blockers for Aaron Donald for a tiny fraction of Ndamukong Suh’s salary.
135. Atlanta Falcons: John Cominsky, Defensive End, Charleston
Strengths: Run defense
Weaknesses: Level of competition
The Falcons allowed 124.9 rushing yards per game last season (eighth-worst in the NFL) and 4.9 yards per rush (fourth-worst). Neither figure is cataclysmically awful, but the Falcons defense excels at looking just good enough in each area to disguise how bad it really is.
Cominsky was an option quarterback in high school, but at the University of Charleston, he moved to defensive end, bulked up from 215 pounds and worked his way up to Mountain East Defender of the Year honors. Cominsky performed well enough at the Senior Bowl to prove he belonged in an NFL camp. He runs well, has some agility, weighs 286 useful pounds and gets high marks for character/work habits. On the downside, he’s a raw pass-rusher who didn’t produce many sacks against low-level competition. But he will help the Falcons as a run defender right away.
136. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Jordan, Center-Guard, Ohio State
Strengths: Size, versatility
Michael Jordan is one of those names that should be retired from society forever, like “Abraham Lincoln, James T. Kirk or Gilgamesh. I mean, you know it’s bad when one of the most beloved and successful actors in Hollywood has to go by the name Michael B. Jordan, with the B subliminally suggesting, Hey, I might play Adonis Creed and Killmonger, but I’m still just the alternate version of the main guy with this name.
Anyway, this particular Michael Jordan was a mammoth three-year starter at center and guard for the Buckeyes. He’s more of a catch-and-engulf blocker than a mauler, and he has just enough quickness to get by.
Jordan projects as a better guard than center because he won’t have to move laterally in pass protection as often at guard, but he adds value as a multiposition sub. Not a needle-mover, but not a bad investment at the end of the fourth round.
137. Oakland Raiders: Foster Moreau, Tight End, LSU
Strengths: Experience as a blocker, athletic potential
Weaknesses: Receiving chops and production
Moreau was a block-early-and-often tight end who caught just 52 career passes for the Bayou Bengals but produced some tasty workout results at the combine. He’s not the pile driver you’d want when selecting a block-first tight end, and he winds up on the ground more than you’d like. But his mixture of tenacity and tools is intriguing.
Moreau could develop into a Jack Doyle-like starter, though he’s more likely to max out as a No. 2 tight end who excels on special teams and ruins fantasy weeks with two or three goal-line touchdowns per year. He won’t replace Jared Cook’s production in Oakland, but there will only be so many footballs to go around anyway.
138. Philadelphia Eagles: Shareef Miller, Defensive End, Penn State
Strengths: Tools, competitiveness
Miller was raised in difficult circumstances in North Philadelphia—his brother was shot and killed in West Philly in 2015—and became a competitive, reliable defender for the Nittany Lions.
Miller has a quick initial burst and hits hard, and he tested well at the combine. But he’s a straight-ahead pass-rusher who spends too many snaps latched to his pass protector.
Miller is an effort-and-upside pick. He projects as a wave/rotational lineman on a deep Eagles line. But he should fit the locker room culture for his hometown team, and he could have untapped potential.
Round 5 Pick-by-Pick Grades
139. Arizona Cardinals: Deionte Thompson, Safety, Alabama
Strengths: Awareness, range, ball skills
Sigh. Another Alabama safety. Let’s run him through the Alabama Safety Comparison Tool and see what we come up with:
Landon Collins (now with the Redskins): Not really a comp. Collins is more of a box safety. Thompson does his best work in the deep middle, where he is outstanding at reading the quarterback and pass patterns and getting a jump on the ball. Also, Collins is a much better tackler than Thompson, who has dive-stick tendencies.
Minkah Fitzpatrick (Dolphins): Closer, but Fitzpatrick is more of a cornerback-safety hybrid. Thompson matches up well with tight ends and “heavy slot” type receivers in man coverage. But if a top receiver sneaks into the slot, you want Thompson in the deep middle, not man-to-man.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Bears): If Thompson’s tackling disintegrates, he may bounce from team to team like Clinton-Dix. But they don’t have similar games.
Mark Barron (now with the Steelers): Box safety-turned-linebacker. We’re getting colder and colder.
Eddie Jackson (Bears): Bingo! Jackson was downgraded as a prospect because of multiple injuries and the difficulty of evaluating an Alabama free safety (they spend a lot of time watching their teammates’ butts as plays get blown up in front of them). But Jackson has grown into an All-Pro who has outstanding instincts and the ability to turn any errant pass into a defensive touchdown.
Thompson can catch and run like a wide receiver, giving him splash-play potential in addition to the ability to shut down the middle of the field.
Thanks, Alabama Safety Comparison Tool! We’ll call you back for Xavier McKinney next year!
Also: Will someone please remind the Cardinals that their offensive line is a mess and their quarterback is 5’10”?
140. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryquell Armstead, Running Back, Temple
Strengths: Size-speed moves
Weaknesses: Receiving chops, patience and vision
Armstead hails from Millville, New Jersey, one of my favorite small towns (it has a super-cool folkcraft and glass-blowing workshop) and, more importantly, the hometown of Mike Trout. So Armstead could become the most successful and highest-paid running back in NFL history and still only earn about one-fourth as much as the best-known athlete from his little hometown.
Armstead has a nifty-shifty running style and powers through arm tackles. He ran a 4.45-second 40 (with great shuttle/cone results) at the combine at 220 pounds, so he has the athletic profile to be a big-play threat in the NFL. But he has minimal receiving experience and is a one-speed back who must learn to wait for blocks to develop.
Armstead has the sleeper potential to be a Matt Breida type. And with Leonard Fournette about one traffic violation away from career purgatory, Armstead should get some opportunities.
141. Pittsburgh Steelers: Zach Gentry, Tight End, Michigan
Gentry is a mammoth tight end who caught 49 passes and averaged 16.7 yards per catch for the Wolverines, typically surprising defenders up the seam who weren’t expecting a guy who looks like a right tackle. The Steelers just got a developmental blocking tight end and another Ryan Switzer (third-round pick Diontae Johnson) as their compensation in the Antonio Brown trade. Don’t shoot the messenger, Steelers fans.
142. Seattle Seahawks: Ben Burr-Kirven, Linebacker, Washington
Burr-Kirven was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year after recording 176 total tackles last season: 94 solo and 82 assisted. He’s always around the ball, thanks to good quickness and anticipation. But once Burr-Kirven is blocked, it’s all over: He cannot shed, gets blown backward at times and sometimes opts to take the beltway around the blocker rather than engaging him. Burr-Kirven could stick as a “Will” linebacker and special teamer.
143. New York Giants: Ryan Connelly, Linebacker, Wisconsin
Strengths: Size, instincts
Connelly is a stout, tough middle linebacker who played through a torn abdominal muscle last season. He’s solid between the tackles and when handling the coverage basics, but Sean Payton would start drooling uncontrollably if he saw Connelly matched up in man coverage on Alvin Kamara. Connelly projects as a two-down linebacker who leaves the field on passing downs, meaning he faces an uphill battle in today’s NFL. But he’s a former walk-on, so he knows all about uphill battles. Connelly is your typical Giants linebacker prospect: a high-effort guy who is not all that great.
144. Indianapolis Colts: Marvell Tell III, Safety, USC
Strengths: Speed, range
Weaknesses: Lean frame, physicality
Tell is a lanky 6’2”, 198-pound free safety with good instincts. He could grow into a valuable matchup defender against taller receivers and faster tight ends if he develops his man-coverage chops and improves as a block-shedder and tackler near the box. For now, he’s purely a deep defender, which limits his value.
The Colts have now drafted three straight linebackers and safeties. Not all the picks will pan out, but that’s how you fill a need—by creating competition.
145. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Matt Gay, Kicker, Utah
Gay is a self-taught kicker with a herky-jerky delivery. He went 30-of-34 with a bunch of 50-plus-yarders to win the Lou Groza Award in 2017 and followed that up with 26 field goals on 31 attempts (with some blocks) last year. He looks a little like a cross between Sebastian Janikowski and some kicker from the 1970s, but he’s been known to drill 60-yarders with ease in scrimmages. Gay may have to tune his mechanics to succeed, but he has rare natural talent.
I got to talk to Gay before the draft. I like him a lot, so I’m not gonna dredge up what happened the last time the Bucs drafted a kicker. But no team gets a good grade for drafting a specialist before the fifth round—unless the Bears do it.
146. Detroit Lions: Amani Oruwariye, Cornerback, Penn State
Strengths: Size, character/intangibles
Oruwariye ran a 4.47-second 40 at the combine at 6’2” and 205 pounds. The size is evident on tape, but the speed is not: Oruwariye is one of those long-limbed athletes who loses a step when turning to run or changing direction. Oruwariye’s mother is a 15-year Navy veteran, and he has the work habits and leadership skills you would expect of someone from a military family. When you’re tall, run fast and work hard, the NFL will try to find a place in the secondary for you. This is a solid pick at this point in the draft.
147. Buffalo Bills: Vosean Joseph, Linebacker, Florida
Strengths: Speed and range
Weaknesses: WTF moments
Coaches have a saying about players who don’t know their assignments: “He just runs around out there.” Joseph just runs around out there. He’s fast and hustles, and his best moments often come when he peels off his assignment to make a play against a teammate’s receiver or a scrambling quarterback. But Joseph missed 32 tackles in two seasons, per Sports Info Solutions. He runs around blocks in the hole instead of trying to make a play and has been spotted inventing new zones to cover that have nothing to do with what the coaches called. Joseph is so athletic and aggressive that he’s worth stashing on a practice squad with $50 bills pasted into the pages of his playbook to make sure he keeps reading it. He’s another tone-setter for the Bills and a fun lottery scratcher pick in this round.
148. San Francisco 49ers: Dre Greenlaw, Linebacker, Arkansas
Greenlaw is a converted safety who runs like the wind but is frustrating to watch because he loses track of the ball and gets knocked around by blockers too easily. He has the raw tools to stick on special teams and intriguing upside. This must be the “raw-and-unpredictable-but-fun-defender” portion of the draft. And you know what? I’m down for it.
149. Oakland Raiders: Hunter Renfrow, Wide Receiver, Clemson
Strengths: Slot receiver stuff
Weaknesses: Not all that spectacular at slot receiver stuff
Renfrow is famous for being Clemson’s answer to Julian Edelman, but not all tiny white slot receivers on championship teams are Edelman. (Or Danny Amendola. Or Wes Welker. OK, we’ll stop.)
With short arms and small hands, Renfrow is small even by the standards of his archetype. His 40 time was poor (4.59 seconds), and his shuttle and agility drill times were average at best. He’s not the ideal jitterbug for working underneath routes.
As for the tape: There’s a lot of good stuff, but much of it comes against easy-to-elude ACC safeties and linebackers in coverage.
Renfrow’s upside isn’t Edelman, but Jeremy Kerley—a guy just quick, competitive and sure-handed enough to stick around for years as a short-pass target.
150. Green Bay Packers: Kingsley Keke, Defensive Line, Texas A&M
Strengths: Athleticism, flash plays
Weaknesses: Power, consistency
Keke is the wrong kind of tweener: not explosive enough to be a full-time edge-rusher, not physical enough to play the 3-tech consistently.
He shows flashes of being a dominant player, usually when he wins off the first two steps and explodes through the line for a sack or stuff. There’s also a lot of tape of Keke getting knocked backward, taken upfield or latched to blockers in between those highlights.
The Packers have roles in their defense for defenders like Keke. He could stick as a wave defender and generate some sacks if schemed to go one-on-one against slower tackles and guards. But if the Packers are expecting much more, he’ll go breaking their hearts.
151. Miami Dolphins: Andrew Van Ginkel, Linebacker, Wisconsin
Van Ginkel recorded 12 sacks for the Badgers over the last two seasons and intercepted two passes in 2017. He’s versatile, athletic and hustles, with a tiny bit of pass-rush razzle-dazzle. He feels like a reach, but the Dolphins need depth everywhere and may see him as a multiposition sub at linebacker.
152. Atlanta Falcons: Qadree Ollison, Running Back, Pitt
Ollison rushed for 1,121 yards in relief of James Conner in 2015 and then got stuck behind Conner and Darrin Hall for two seasons, reemerging last year with 1,213 yards. He’s a bit of a poor man’s Conner without the receiving chops, mixed with a little bit of Ito Smith 2.0. The Falcons need to reload at running back, but Ollison is a reach.
153. Washington Redskins: Ross Pierschbacher, Center-Guard, Alabama
Strengths: Experience, intangibles
Pierschbacher was a four-year starter for the Crimson Tide and earned his master’s degree in marketing in December, which should give Washington fans a sense of his intelligence and work habits.
As for Pierschbacher the athlete, he lacks ideal size and athleticism, and his slow feet could turn into a big problem in pass protection. Pierschbacher’s technique is solid when he gets position on a defender, and he has a lot of experience hustling and looking for work while his quarterbacks scramble.
Pierschbacher projects as a useful multiposition sub, but he could become an adequate starter at guard. With this pick and the Wes Martin pick, the Skins are really loading up on that sort of player.
154. Carolina Panthers: Jordan Scarlett, Running Back, Florida
Strengths: Measurements, quickness
Weaknesses: Character concerns
Scarlett was cited for marijuana possession as a freshman, which is just kids being kids these days (and for about the last 50 years), and was also suspended after being charged with credit card fraud for allegedly using card information that was not his to purchase electronics, which is definitely not just kids being kids. Scarlett shows flashes on film and timed well in the 40 (4.47 seconds), but he’s not a jaw-dropping athlete. The risk-reward ratio on this pick leans hard toward “risk.” I don’t love this Panthers draft class.
155. Cleveland Browns: Mack Wilson, Linebacker, Alabama
Strengths: Pass coverage, read-and-react skills
Weaknesses: Block-shedding, special traits
Wilson is an off-the-rack Alabama linebacker, which means he’s very good: assignment-sound, smart, adept in coverage and space and capable of bringing a little sizzle when blitzing. He lacks the size-speed-physicality combination that separates the solid linebackers from the All-Pros. Then again, C.J. Mosley had a similar portfolio coming out of Alabama, and he turned out just fine.
I had a mid-second round grade on Wilson. The Browns are doing a fine job of scooping up rock-solid SEC defenders who slip in the draft.
156. Denver Broncos: Justin Hollins, Edge-Rusher, Oregon
Hollins spent five seasons at Oregon, redshirting after his freshman year while the team cleared a logjam of edge-rusher types. He recorded 10 sacks and eight forced fumbles over the last two seasons. Hollins has explosive burst when turning the corner to get to the quarterback and doesn’t need a road map in zone coverage. That’s the extent of his game, but this is the fifth round, and Hollins’ main job in Denver will be to watch Von Miller and take notes.
157. New York Jets: Blake Cashman, Linebacker, Minnesota
Strengths: Production, workout results
Cashman was a dependable starter for the Gophers for three seasons. He recorded 104 tackles last year and showed some promise as a blitzer in past seasons (7.5 sacks in 2016). He ran a 4.5-second combine 40, so the tools are there for Cashman to become more than another power-conference playmaker who turns into an NFL special teamer.
158. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Jackson, Cornerback, Miami
Strengths: Length, press coverage
Weaknesses: Anticipation in zone coverage
This pick originally belonged to the Steelers, then went to the Raiders, then the Bills, then back to the Raiders and then the Cowboys. Phew.
Jackson is tall (6’1”), fast (4.45 40 at the combine) and tough at the line of scrimmage. He likes to jar his receiver off course with a nasty strike at the line; at times, there’s a little too much striking downfield. Jackson is slower to react in zone, and he’s not as stout in run support or on receiver screens as his coverage style would suggest. But he turns and runs well on deep routes, and he wasn’t tested often last year.
I like this pick: Zone coverage can be taught, but Jackson’s man-to-man skills are hard to find.
159. New England Patriots: Byron Cowart, Defensive Tackle, Maryland
Strengths: Athletic upside
Cowart was a star recruit who washed out of the Auburn program after three seasons as a little-used reserve.
"I didn't have the IQ coming out," Cowart said at the combine of his early-career struggles. "I was just thinking, 'You wake up, you practice a little bit, and it happened in the game.'"
Cowart transferred to Maryland, improved his work habits and blossomed under head coach Matt Canada and position coach Jimmy Brumbaugh.
Cowart has the measurables and athletic potential of an NFL starter, but he still looks like he's figuring things out on tape.
Why yes, this does sound like the profile of a dude Bill Belichick miraculously transforms into a Pro Bowler.
160. Baltimore Ravens: Daylon Mack, Defensive Tackle, Texas A&M
Strengths: Size, quickness
Weaknesses: Stamina, consistency
Mack is a hulking 336-pounder with excellent burst. 'Nuff said, right? He also possesses an effective swim move and good hand technique, and he can hold the point of attack against double-teams when he isn't gassed.
Mack is easier to handle late in games, which will happen when a 336-pounder plays a ton of snaps. He also offers little in pursuit. But he should stick as a wave defender in the middle who offers something on both running and passing downs.
161. Houston Texans: Charles Omenihu, Defensive Line, Texas
Strengths: Size, upside
Omenihu is big (6’5”, 280 lbs), long-armed (36”), competitive and reasonably athletic. He fits best as a 5-technique end in the modern evolution of a 3-4 defense. Place him between the tackle and tight end, and he will get upfield and disengage from blocks frequently enough to disrupt blocking schemes and generate a few sacks and stuffs.
Omenihu isn’t a great technical pass-rusher, but he displayed some untapped potential at the Senior Bowl. Don’t pencil him in as a potential replacement or anything, but he’s a good system fit and value.
162. Minnesota Vikings: Cameron Smith, Linebacker, USC
Strengths: Experienced and reliable
Weaknesses: His strengths are being experienced and reliable
Smith started 45 games in four seasons for the Trojans. He’s a capable middle linebacker who has no real deficiencies.
Sometimes I write a capsule for a solid-but-unspectacular Just Another Guy type player and think, “He’s a future member of the Vikings.” And here we are.
163. New England Patriots: Jake Bailey, Punter, Stanford
Strengths: Hang time, kickoffs
Weaknesses: Slow delivery
Bailey is a fine directional punter who delivers high hang-time punts and is reliable on kickoffs. His only flaw, a methodical delivery, can be fixed: He’s not one of those college punters who takes four extra steps or anything.
No, Patriots, you don’t get a pass from the “draft a punter” grading curve.
164. Indianpolis Colts: E.J. Speed, Linebacker, Tarleton State
Speed is a converted high school quarterback and receiver with some injury concerns and a 2018 arrest on his record. Forgive me if I just punt on this one.
165. Dallas Cowboys: Joe Jackson, Defensive End, Miami
Weaknesses: Quickness, leverage
Michael Jackson and Joe Jackson in one round? That would have been a heck of a duet on MTV in 1985. “Beat It … Steppin Out!” Or maybe “Is Billie Jean Really Goin’ Out with Him?”
Jackson is a big, heavy-fisted, relentless thumper of a defensive end who got most of his 22.5 career sacks from overpowering his blockers or hustling against quarterbacks who held the ball too long. There’s no finesse in Jackson’s game, and he spends far too many snaps just wired to his blocker, but this is the time in the draft to select strong, high-effort dudes and see what you can make of them.
166. Los Angeles Chargers: Easton Stick, Quarterback, North Dakota State
Stick replaced Carson Wentz for the Bison and became the winningest quarterback in FCS history, leading his team to 49 victories and two national championships—three if you count his Nick Foles impersonation for the injured Wentz in the 2015 playoffs, four if you count the title earned when he was a redshirt freshman.
I like Stick better than many of the quarterbacks drafted ahead of him. His scrambling ability provides extra value, his mechanics and accuracy were showcased at his pro day, and North Dakota State runs lots of pro-style sets against competition no weaker than what’s in the Mountain West or Conference USA.
Stick is a small-program Steve Young. While that doesn’t mean he can be anything like the real Steve Young, it makes him worth developing.
I really like Stick, and I like this pick, but I cannot think of a quarterback any more unlike Philip Rivers to bring in as a backup/protege.
167. Philadelphia Eagles: Clayton Thorson, Quarterback, Northwestern
Deadly accurate quarterback comparison: Trent Edwards meets Jacoby Brissett
Thorson is a tough, competitive four-year starter from a major conference. He has good mechanics and footwork but a methodical delivery. His arm strength is fine, he finds second or third targets well, and he can make tough throws/good decisions on the run. But his accuracy gets random beyond 20-25 yards.
Thorson played for the academic powerhouse of his conference, and a lot of his film against Big Ten opponents consists of near-instantaneous sacks, hopeless scrambles against unblocked defenders and hit-as-he’s-thrown interceptions. It takes a lot of projection/optimism to see through all that. But Thorson’s fundamentals, traits and intangibles add up to a quarterback who is at least worth stashing and trying to develop.
Look for the Eagles to stash Thorson behind Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld as an extra insurance policy. Not a bad pick, but I can’t shake the sense that they really wanted Wentz’s old buddy Easton Stick. The Chargers beat them to him.
168. Tennessee Titans: D’Andre Walker, Edge-Rusher, Georgia
Strengths: Lateral quickness, Effort.
Walker bends and changes direction well in pursuit of the quarterback but lacks explosion and flat-out speed and wins off the snap at times. He has a good enough first step, plus some hand technique, to generate sacks on his own. But many of his sacks come on hustle plays or stunts after he lines up in an interior gap and so on.
Walker is a hustling, high-energy defender with some athletic upside who must be schemed carefully. I had a third-round grade on him, so I like him here as both a value and a scheme fit.
169. Los Angeles Rams: David Edwards, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
Edwards was a high school quarterback, and his quick-footed athleticism is evident on tape. His technique was all over the place last year, but he was playing through a shoulder injury that may have limited him or forced him to overcompensate in his sets, balance and hand usage. Edwards is a high-upside project who could conceivably be coached into a starting NFL left tackle. He’ll compete with third-round pick Bobby Evans for the right to be Andrew Whitworth’s heir apparent.
170. Cleveland Browns: Austin Seibert, Kicker-Punter, Oklahoma
Weaknesses: Consistency as a kicker and punter
It’s a kicker and punter epidemic! Even the darlings of the offseason aren’t immune!
Seibert was the Sooners kicker and punter for four years. He holds the all-time NCAA scoring record for kickers and lots of other marks. He has the leg for kickoffs but shows shaky range on field goals and isn’t a serious prospect as a punter. Touchbacks and 35-yarders could keep him in the NFL, but he probably maxed out as an all-time great collegiate specialist.
171. New York Giants: Darius Slayton, Wide Receiver, Auburn
Strengths: Size, speed, big-play potential
Weaknesses: Route running, contested-catch capability
Slayton is a fast, well-built boundary receiver with deep-threat capability. There are a lot of guys like that in this draft class: Mizzou’s Emanuel Hall, Notre Dame’s Miles Boykin, N.C. State’s Kelvin Harmon and so on. The ones who stick usually block well and excel at gobbling up 50-50 balls. Slayton offers little as a blocker—he can get steamrolled by physical defenders—and will lose track of deep balls or lose competitions for contested catches. With Hall and Harmon still on the board, this was an iffy selection.
172. Atlanta Falcons: Jordan Miller, Cornerback, Washington
Strengths: Length and speed
Weaknesses: Size and physicality
Miller was overshadowed by Byron Murphy and Taylor Rapp for the Huskies, but when his teammates limited their pro day participation (they had little to gain), Miller put on a show. Like approximately 3,000 other cornerbacks in this class, he’s tall (6’1"), long-armed, timed well in the 40 (4.49 seconds) and takes the “hope they run to the opposite side of the field” approach in run support. It’s hard to project a No. 2 college cornerback with a great safety behind him into the NFL, but the Falcons have a lot of spots to fill in their secondary, and Miller has the raw tools to succeed.
173. Washington Redskins: Cole Holcomb, Linebacker, North Carolina
Strengths: Range, zone coverage
Weaknesses: Block-shedding, explosiveness
Holcomb was a tackle muffin for the Tar Heels, recording over 100 in both 2016 and 2018 (and 93 in 2017). He blew up at his pro day, running a 4.48-second 40 with other exciting results. He’s rangy, active and alert, but he lacks pop when attacking the line of scrimmage. I like Holcomb: He looks comfortable playing in space and pursuing, and linebackers who can play in space and pursue stick around for years in the NFL. This is a great selection for the end of the fifth round.
Round 6 Pick-by-Pick Grades
174. Arizona Cardinals: KeeSean Johnson, Wide Receiver, Fresno State
Strengths: Experience, effort, possession receiving
Weaknesses: Speed, elite traits
KeeSean Johnson is not to be confused with Keyshawn Johnson Jr., son of the former New York Jets great, no matter what your search engine tells you. (Keyshawn Jr. is at the University of Arizona).
KeeSean caught 275 passes in four years as a regular for the Bulldogs. He’s reliable on quick outs and short comeback routes plus the usual quick screens that pad the stat totals of top receivers at mid-majors. But Johnson lacks top speed or elite quickness. He blocks well and does the little things, which means he could stick as a fourth or fifth receiver.
Andy Isabella (second round), Hakeem Butler (fourth) and Johnson all do different things, and their strengths and weaknesses complement each other well. Guess we can stop worrying about Kyler Murray’s weapons. We should keep worrying, however, about Murray’s protection.
175. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sutton Smith, Edge-Rusher, Northern Illinois
Undersized (6’0”, 233 lbs), super-productive pass-rusher who recorded 29 sacks over the last two seasons. Smith timed well in workouts and was good-not-great at the Senior Bowl. Smith looks like a one-trick stand-up edge-rusher who either wins with explosion off the snap or disappears. The Steelers historically have both a role and a weakness for such players.
176. San Francisco 49ers: Kaden Smith, Tight End, Stanford
Strengths: Size, hands
Weaknesses: Quickness, routes
Smith looks like a Pro Bowl tight end during warmups: huge, thick and well-built, like someone who can run over/around/through anyone and anything. On tape, he shows flashes of being that guy as a blocker and possession receiver. But the whole is not yet the sum of its parts.
Smith lacks quickness and craftiness as a route-runner, and he doesn’t make the bone-crushing blocks for which you hope from a guy who is more a possession target than a Travis Kelce type. He fits as a backup to George Kittle who will add value in two-tight end sets.
177. New Orleans Saints: Saquan Hampton, Safety, Rutgers
Strengths: Size-speed combination
Hampton ran a 4.48-second 40 at the combine at 6’1” and 206 pounds, and he has just enough quality film to merit a long look. Shoulder injuries limited him in 2016 and 2017, and he lacks a signature trait as a defender. Hampton gets high marks for his intangibles and should stick on special teams; he may have potential that remains untapped because he had injuries for two years.
178. Jacksonville Jaguars: Gardner Minshew, Quarterback, Washington State
Deadly accurate quarterback comparison: Kliff Kingsbury, Graham Harrell, Connor Halliday, whomever Mike Leach is currently meeting on some recruiting visit somewhere
Minshew transferred from East Carolina to Washington State and immediately began putting up eye-popping numbers (4,779 yards and 38 touchdowns last year) in Mike Leach’s mirage-fostering offensive oasis.
If the Jaguars are looking for a pesky, undersized, potato gun-armed passer who rallies the troops and tries to pick defenses apart with a million flare passes and shallow crosses, they found their man. Mishew has the skill set of a career backup who ends up becoming a head coach and offensive guru in about—checks the ages of current head coaches—eight years.
In the meantime, he will compete with Cody Kessler to back up Nick Foles. It’s a good thing they wear different uniform numbers, or else it would be hard to tell them apart.
179. Arizona Cardinals: Lamont Gaillard, Center, Georgia
Strengths: Toughness, effort, intangibles
Weaknesses: Dad bod
The Cardinals finally drafted a center! Kyler Murray won’t have to reach down and scoop up snaps at his ankles the way Josh Rosen did! Though the same snaps would probably reach Murray’s thighs. Yep, that’s a short joke. The humor is getting edgy in the sixth round.
Gaillard is a converted defensive tackle who anchored the Georgia offensive line for two seasons, paving the way for Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Elijah Holyfield and others. He’s built like a barrel and doesn’t move all that well, but he has staved off some talented recruits to hold on to his job, and he fared well against SEC defenses. He may be one of those high-effort-and-IQ bad-body centers Andy Reid and his coaching disciples like to develop into starters. Let’s see how Kliff Kingsbury fares with him.
180: New York Giants: Corey Ballentine, Cornerback, Washburn
Strengths: Tools, special teams potential
Weaknesses: Level of competition
Ballentine is a lot like Pierre Desir, another long-armed tiny-school cornerback who rode a solid Senior Bowl performance into the NFL. Desir, from Lindenwood University, bounced around for a few years but developed into a useful matchup defender. Ballentine excelled on special teams for the Washburn Ichabods (yes, the Ichabods) as both a return man and kick blocker, and he gets good character and effort marks. Ballentine has the potential to become a core special teamer and nickel/dime defender.
181. Buffalo Bills: Jaquan Johnson, Safety, Miami
Strengths: Instincts, physicality
Johnson ranks just below Johnathan Abram of Mississippi State among the most fun defensive backs to evaluate in this year’s class. Johnson gets plowed by offensive linemen but still somehow makes tackles, flies into holes to upend ball-carriers and crashes into officials who get between him and the football. He’s a top diagnostician who gets high marks for his intangibles, and while he sometimes just throws shoulders instead of tackling, he usually gets the job done.
Now the bad news: Johnson was 5’10”, weighed 191 pounds and ran a 4.69 40 at the combine. Those are the measurables of a camp body, not a future starter.
Johnson plays much, much bigger and faster than his combine results, so he could be a sleeper steal here. And boy, the Bills sure are drafting a wild ‘n’ wooly defense.
182. Cincinnati Bengals: Trayveon Williams, Running Back, Texas A&M
Strengths: Open-field running, receiving and pass protection
Weaknesses: College workload, top-end speed
Williams became an Alvin Kamara fan and friendly rival when Texas A&M faced Tennessee in 2016, and Williams said at the combine he patterned his game after the Saints Pro Bowler. There are some similarities: Williams is versatile in the passing game, combines finishing power with some highlight-stick moves in the open field and has good vision and technique as a pass protector. But he is less of a speedy all-purpose back than a workhorse. He rushed for 1,760 yards and 18 touchdowns last year, and the workload is a moderate concern: Williams has taken a lot of hits between the tackles in three seasons for the Aggies.
Usage concerns aside, Williams is one of my favorite players in this draft: a potential three-down back who doesn’t tip the offensive tendency when he is on the field and will create some highlight-reel plays on screens or when running against six-man boxes.
This is the best thing the Bengals have done all weekend. Way to go.
183. San Francisco 49ers: Justin Skule, Offensive Tackle, Vanderbilt
Skule is the kind of tackle you find in the middle of the sixth round: a three-year starter in a major conference who is big (6’7”, 317 lbs) and physical enough to hold his own but lacks the quickness and athleticism to be much more than a camp body at the NFL level. There are several similar players to Skule on the board plus one or two with higher upside.
184. Detroit Lions: Travis Fulgham, Wide Receiver, Old Dominion
Strengths: Size, ball skills
Weaknesses: Speed, routes, level-of-competition concerns
Fulgham is a well-built, competitive mid-major big-play threat who averaged 17.2 yards per catch and scored nine touchdowns for the Monarchs last year. He finds his second gear quickly to glide past defenders and has good concentration/ball-tracking skills and a wide catch radius. He also blocks hard for his teammates on sweeps and swing passes.
Fulgham lacks long speed and is a rudimentary route-runner. He would fit best as a special teamer to start his career, but the Lions are thin at wide receiver, so he will get a chance to play right away.
185. Green Bay Packers: Ka’dar Hollman, Cornerback, Toledo
Pro day superstar with a reputation for physical play in the secondary. Hollman is a 25-year-old rookie who still needs refinement, but he’s considered a high-upside pick.
186. Detroit Lions: Ty Johnson, Running Back, Maryland
Johnson is a compact rusher who gained 1,004 yards for the Terps as a sophomore in 2016, but his production slipped in 2017, and he missed a chunk of last season with a calf injury. Johnson was a dangerous kickoff returner (two career touchdowns) but has not been productive as a receiver, limiting his third-down value. There are better all-purpose backs on the board. The Lions are outsmarting themselves again.
187. Denver Broncos: Juwann Winfree, Wide Receiver, Colorado
Weaknesses: Durability, production
Winfree was a top recruit who played behind Stefon Diggs as a freshman at Maryland, withdrew from the school after an indefinite suspension, resurfaced at Colorado and mixed huge games (a two-touchdown performance against USC in 2017) with ill-timed injuries. The 6’3”, 215-pound Winfree is big, versatile, slippery as a route-runner and has matured off the field. He has super-sleeper potential if he can avoid nagging injuries. The Broncos found a local gem when they signed Phillip Lindsay last year; why not return to the well?
188. Tennessee Titans: David Long Jr., Linebacker, West Virginia
Strengths: Blitz capability, pursuit
Weaknesses: Size, coverage
The Mountaineers used the 5’11”, 227-pound Long as a cross between a “Will” linebacker and a pint-sized edge-rusher, blitzing him on 43.8 percent of pass plays, per Sports Info Solutions. He was a big-play machine last year: 108 tackles, seven sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss. Long shows some burst as a blitzer but gets lost in zone coverage; he’s aggressive in run defense but lacks pop when he faces an offensive lineman and hits the dive stick too often when tackling. Shortcomings aside, I love this pick: Long is a guided missile; it’s up to Tennessee to guide him wisely. The Titans are really crushing it in the late rounds.
189. Cleveland Browns: Drew Forbes, Guard, Southeast Missouri State
Strengths: Size, power
Weaknesses: Level of competition
Forbes played left tackle for the Redhawks and produced his share of Hulk-smash pancake blocks. He’s a mauler who lacks the quickness of an NFL tackle, and he relies more on his upper body than his leverage to subdue defenders. Forbes is worth a developmental look at guard, a position where the Browns may have a need now that Kevin Zeitler has been exiled to the Giants.
190. Minnesota Vikings: Armon Watts, Defensive Tackle, Arkansas
Strengths: Hand usage
Weaknesses: Consistency, experience
Watts is a late bloomer who rarely played until last year, when he exploded for seven sacks. He’s a flash player who rips blockers to the ground with his long arms to generate big plays. He’ll then disappear for long stretches because he doesn't have great burst off the line. He loses leverage at times and doesn't appear to have much of a pass-rushing plan.
Watts performed well at the Shrine Game and has the traits of a wave lineman who can play outside on rushing downs and move inside to rush the passer. This is a solid depth pick.
191. Minnesota Vikings: Marcus Epps, Safety, Wyoming
Two straight Vikings picks: Try to contain your excitement! Kidding aside, the Vikings just got a pair of good values. Epps was a tackle muffin for the Cowboys (325 in four seasons as a starter) who can get the job done in zone coverage. He’s no bruiser, but he has the quickness and awareness to compete for a role as a matchup defender.
192. Pittsburgh Steelers: Isaiah Buggs, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
Strengths: Power, hand usage
Weaknesses: Pass-rushing creativity
Buggs played mostly defensive end for the Tide, but he projects as a defensive tackle (or a two-gap end in the Steelers scheme). He recorded 9.5 sacks in 2018 thanks to hustle, an effective rip move and the fact that he was surrounded by NFL talent.
Buggs won't be a double-digit sack producer in the NFL, but he's reliable, versatile and will play the run well and do the dirty work. As a result, he’ll stick in the league for a long time.
See that: I don’t hate everything the Steelers have done in the last five months!
193. Minnesota Vikings: Oli Udoh, Offensive Tackle, Elon
The Vikings are on a roll, folks! They own the sixth round!
Udoh earned the coveted Shrine Game-to-Senior Bowl promotion in January, which is a sign coaches and scouts liked his preparation and approach in the lesser all-star game and wanted to see how he handled the level of competition at the bigger one. Udoh handled it well, so here we are.
You know by now how it goes with small-program left tackles: Udoh's technique is raw, and he's used to being the biggest dude in the stadium, so he faces a long development cycle. But the Vikings already addressed their offensive line issues earlier, so they won’t have to rush Udoh onto the field.
194. Green Bay Packers: Dexter Williams, Running Back, Notre Dame
Strengths: Quickness, upside
Weaknesses: Speed, character concerns
Williams was arrested for possession of marijuana and an unlicensed handgun in 2016 (a teammate later testified that the gun was his) and was suspended for four games in 2018 for undisclosed reasons. So character may be an issue.
Williams can be quick-footed and elusive in the open field and appears to have the patience to set up blocks. He wasn’t used much as a receiver but looked good in the limited opportunities he got. Williams’ size-speed profile isn’t overwhelming (5’11”, 212 lbs; 4.57-second 40), and he didn’t play much before 2018. Throw in the off-field concerns, and this feels like a reach.
195. Houston Texans: Xavier Crawford, Cornerback, Central Michigan
Crawford transferred from Oregon State last year to join Sean Bunting and give the Chippewas an excellent pair of bookend cornerbacks. Crawford has decent size (5’11”, 187 lbs) and speed (4.48-second 40), quick hips to turn in transition and anticipation and burst on plays in front of him. Crawford missed time with a back injury at Oregon State and isn’t a thumper in press coverage or run support. He projects as a versatile nickel or dime defender. Pair Crawford with earlier pick Lonnie Johnson, and the Texans have done a good job patching up the holes in their secondary.
196. New York Jets: Blessuan Austin, Cornerback, Rutgers
Austin is a long-armed 6’1” defender who missed most of the last two seasons with ACL injuries. He ran a 4.65-second 40 at Rutgers’ pro day but came back in early April to improve his time to 4.56. Austin looked like a rising star in 2016, but it takes a lot of projecting and ACL finger-crossing to see him as much more than a long shot.
197. Baltimore Ravens: Trace McSorley, Quarterback, Penn State
Deadly accurate Quarterback Comparisons: Mike McMahon, Bruce Gradkowski, every other feisty, mobile, peashooter backup
McSorley is a fleet-footed, competitive, undersized ball-sprayer who looked great running options with Saquon Barkley and tossing touchdowns to Chris Godwin, Mike Gesicki, DaeSean Hamilton and others while opponents focused on Barkley. But he was often overmatched last year.
There was some predraft chatter about moving McSorley to defensive back, but he’s the kind of quarterback who wins coaches over in the meeting room and then wins fans over by running around in the fourth quarters of preseason games.
McSorley is a tremendous fit behind Lamar Jackson (and Robert Griffin III), because the Ravens can tailor their offense to a mobile quarterback and not worry about changing everything if there is an injury (and then using that as evidence mobile quarterbacks cause problems at the NFL level). It only took NFL coaches about 30 years to figure out this concept, and we congratulate them on their growth.
198. San Francisco 49ers: Tim Harris, Cornerback, Virginia
Harris is a 6’2” defender who played well as a senior and had an exceptional pro day but missed big parts of two seasons with injuries. The 49ers intercepted just two passes last season, so they should not have waited until the sixth round to address their secondary. There are also safer, more experienced cornerbacks still on the board.
199. Indianapolis Colts: Gerri Green, Edge-Rusher, Mississippi State
Now Chris Ballard is drafting the “other” Mississippi State guy who played across from Montez Sweat. STOP TROLLING ME, CHRIS BALLARD. Green recorded just 3.5 sacks last year and looked a little undersized (6’4”, 252 lbs) and miscast as a defensive end. He has great measurables, but once again, I am scratching my head.
200. Los Angeles Chargers: Emeke Egbule, Linebacker, Houston
Strengths: Burst, hustle
Weaknesses: Position fit
The Houston coaching staff’s insistence that Ed Oliver was a nose tackle was baffling. Their use of Egbule was downright mystifying. Egbule fits best as a disruptor around the line of scrimmage, but the Houston coaches often put the 245-pounder in off coverage against slot receivers. Egbule did make some hustle plays in coverage, but he’s not Derwin James. He does have upside and a relentless play style, however, so this is a great pick for a team that simply does not believe in old-fashioned defensive positional labels.
201. Kansas City Chiefs: Rashad Fenton, Cornerback, South Carolina
Well-built defender (5’11”, 193 lbs) with a knack for press coverage but a penchant for getting flagged when he’s about to get beat. Basically Marcus Peters with less talent or sizzle. There are better press-cover cornerbacks still on the board.
202. Miami Dolphins: Isaiah Prince, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
Strengths: Height, experience
Weaknesses: Quickness, technique
Prince is a long, lumbering right tackle who succeeded in the Big Ten with pure power and the ability to lock defenders out with his long arms. He is high-cut and upright, which leads to leverage issues, has slow feet and gets caught leaning too far forward.
This is a projection pick based on traits and effort. The Dolphins, of course, aren’t planning to do much this year, so they’ll be patient.
203. Atlanta Falcons: Marcus Green, Wide Receiver, Louisiana-Monroe
Short-but-sturdy slot receiver (5’8”, 190 lbs) and dynamic return man who brought back four kickoffs for touchdowns in 2017 and a punt in 2018. I’m always skeptical of tiny small-program “play-in space” guys (they often mysteriously lose a step and start pulling hammies at the next level), but Green timed well (4.39-second 40 at his pro day), his return chops should keep him in the league, and it’s not like the Falcons need him to start anytime soon. He could do well in Taylor Gabriel’s old role.
204. Seattle Seahawks: Travis Homer, Running Back, Miami
Strengths: Timed speed, pass protection
Weaknesses: Size, ball security
Old-school NFL coaches like Pete Carroll love running backs who can pass protect, and Homer excels at it. All NFL coaches hate running backs who fumble, and Homer does so a little too often. Balance things out, and we end up with a sixth-round pick who will likely stick because his speed and blocking skills will make him useful on special teams.
205. Chicago Bears: Duke Shelley, Cornerback, Kansas State
Strengths: Closing speed, competitiveness
Weaknesses: Height/length, injuries
Warning: This cutup of Shelley against Oklahoma State will make you fall in love. He wrestles an interception from a receiver in the end zone; lurks in underneath coverage for a second interception in garbage time; impersonates a guided missile to blow up some plays in front of him; stands up a tight end in run support; and generally wins your heart as the ultimate mighty-mite cornerback.
Shelley is just 5’9” and not powerfully built (173 lbs), so he projects as a slot corner for the Bears. A leg injury limited him to just seven games in 2018, and he got picked on as a less-experienced defender in 2017, so there’s not as much of that tasty Oklahoma State tape as you would like. But Shelley can develop into one of those small cornerbacks who finds his way onto the field because he’s always around the football. The Bears just drafted Bryce Callahan 2.0
206. Washington Redskins: Kelvin Harmon, Wide Receiver, N.C. State
Strengths: Size, contested-catch ability, competitiveness
Harmon’s family moved to the United States from Liberia when he was a child and settled in southern New Jersey, where his father worked long hours in a furniture factory to support the family. He plays with a blue-collar attitude plus a dash of the “Mamba mentality;” he trained at Kobe Bryant’s facility in the offseason.
Physicality at the line and a “Get Ball No Matter What” mindset on contested catches separate Harmon from the many other well-built boundary receivers in this draft class. Harmon maxes out as a No. 2 possession guy, but his size (6’2”, 221 lbs) and toughness will make him useful on running downs and in bunch formations, which will keep him on the field. Great position fit, great dude, great value: a rare Washington trifecta!
207. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ulysees Gilbert III, Linebacker, Akron
Gilbert is an undersized linebacker (6’0”, 224 lbs) who takes good angles in pursuit and has some burst when blowing up plays in the backfield. He’s not overly physical, so he will have to demonstrate strong coverage chops to stick on the Steelers roster. Gilbert will be Devin Bush’s understudy.
208. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Scott Miller, Wide Receiver, Bowling Green
Strengths: Speed, production
Miller caught 215 passes in just over three seasons as a regular. He ran a 4.32-second 40 at his pro day. But at just 174 pounds, Miller is tiny even by slot receiver standards. It’s hard to project a player his size (5’9”) into a regular NFL role, no matter how creative the head coach.
209. Seattle Seahawks: Demarcus Christmas, Defensive Tackle, Florida State
Weaknesses: Sacks come but once a year
There are times when Christmas uses heavy hands and a burst of athleticism to rip away from his blocker and disrupt a play in the backfield. If there were more of those times, Christmas would have been a Day 2 pick. But this is the round to take a guy who flashes now and then to see if you can develop him, and Christmas is the perfect stocking stuffer. (Sorry!) The Seahawks, of course, have a fine track record when it comes to developing inconsistent and/or raw defenders.
210. Cincinnati Bengals: Deshaun Davis, Linebacker, Auburn
Davis is a physical, high-effort, no-nonsense defender who is at his best when attacking the line of scrimmage. He takes on blockers well in the hole and adds a little value as a blitzer. Davis will have to be matched up carefully in the passing game, because he lacks elite quickness. If you could make one player out of Davis and Bengals third-round pick Germaine Pratt, you would have a Pro Bowl linebacker.
211. Cincinnati Bengals: Rodney Anderson, Running Back, Oklahoma
Strengths: Jump-cuts, vision.
Anderson lost most of the 2015 season to a broken leg, all of 2016 to a back injury and most of last year to a knee injury. That leaves 2017, when he gained 1,442 scrimmage yards and scored 18 touchdowns with some huge-production games against opponents who were on their heels to stop Baker Mayfield.
Anderson displayed big-play capability for the Sooners, but the injuries, an upright rushing style and the sheer number of yards he gained while running through wide-open spaces make it hard to project him as more than a role player and an injured reserve frequent flyer.
Anderson will battle earlier pick Trayveon Williams for a role and touches. Williams will win. But if Anderson stays healthy, he could merit a few touches because of his big-play potential.
212. Carolina Panthers: Dennis Daley, Offensive Tackle, South Carolina
Daley spent two years as the Gamecocks' starting left tackle, squaring off against Josh Allen, Clelin Ferrell, Brian Burns, Jachai Polite, D'Andre Walker and other elite edge-rushers. That Daley, a JUCO transfer, didn't allow 50 sacks per year was an accomplishment.
But Daley did have some brutal performances against this who's who of sack specialists. He can get windmilled by speed-rushers, beat by inside moves, miss cut blocks and so on.
Frankly, I lack the scouting acumen to see a lineman getting beat by a top defender and project him to be an NFL starter based on size and learning experiences. That seems like the kind of wishful thinking that kept Ereck Flowers in the Giants lineup for years. But folks in the scouting community sees NFL upside in Daley, and when have they ever steered us wrong?
Folks, I am not dragging the Panthers on purpose. They keep drafting players about whom I wrote negative scouting reports.
213. Dallas Cowboys: Donovan Wilson, Safety, Texas A&M
Strengths: Awareness, aggressiveness
Weaknesses: Targeting penalties, injuries, agility
Wilson’s another enforcer-type safety like Mississippi State’s Johnathan Abram (now with the Raiders) or Utah’s Marquise Blair (Seahawks). Enforcers incur penalties in both college and the NFL these days, and he got flagged for targeting several times with the Aggies.
He lacks Abram’s all-around game and Blair’s athleticism, and he missed 2017 with an ankle injury. Safeties like Wilson were named to Pro Bowls in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but times have changed. Wilson will now have to prove he’s healthy and reliable enough to earn a roster spot. Still, not a bad pick at the end of the sixth round. We’re near the end of the sixth round? Hooray!!!
214. Kansas City Chiefs: Darwin Thompson, Running Back, Utah State
Thompson is a low-center-of-gravity all-purpose back who averaged 6.8 yards per rush, 15.3 yards per reception and scored 16 touchdowns for the Aggies last season. He’s a nasty finisher who can rip through arm tackles and has a little bit of open-field wiggle. Thompson lacks long speed and isn’t quite the Alvin Kamara type as a receiver that his numbers suggest, but he’s a good fit in an offense that gives running backs a lot of room to run.
Round 7 Pick-by-Pick Grades
215. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Terry Beckner Jr., Defensive Tackle, Missouri
Beckner is an undersized former top recruit (6’4”, 296 lbs) who has torn up just about every ligament in both knees that medical science is aware of. It would be great to see him recapture his former potential, but it’s a long shot.
216. Kansas City Chiefs: Nick Allegretti, Center-Guard, Illinois
A bad-body, high-effort, great-intangibles team captain with experience at both center and guard. Andy Reid loves these guys the way he loves Hawaiian shirts and mac ‘n’ cheese.
217. Minnesota Vikings: Kris Boyd, Cornerback, Texas
Strengths: Physicality, measurables
Weaknesses: Grabbiness, quickness
Rick Spielman said earlier this week that his wife warned him not to come home if he drafted another cornerback. Rumor has it this isn’t the first time Spielman’s decisions caused marital discord:
Spielman: Honey, I just traded a first-round pick for Sam Bradford!
Mrs. Spielman: Go sleep on the pullout sofa.
Spielman: Honey, I just signed Kirk Cousins for $84 million!
Mrs. Spielman: I’m going to Aunt Ethel’s for a month. There’s leftover casserole in the fridge.
Spielman: Honey, I just drafted a kicker in the fifth round. His name is…
Mrs. Spielman: All your clothes are in a heap in the backyard, doused with butane. And look, I just struck a match!
Let’s hope the Spielman marital edict doesn’t apply to late-round fliers.
Boyd is the player people who hate Richard Sherman think Richard Sherman is. He always seems to have a hand on his receiver, and he can get carried away with his aggressiveness. Boyd doesn’t look all that fast on tape but times very well (4.45-second 40): He appears to rely too much on his physicality instead of good footwork and positioning.
Overall, Boyd is inconsistent and perplexing. There are times when he just can’t stick with better receivers and other times when it looks like he has gotten in their heads. But in the seventh round, he’s worth a night or two on the couch.
218. Dallas Cowboys: Mike Weber, Running Back, Ohio State
Strengths: Experience, timed speed
Weaknesses: Special qualities
Weber has been a regular for the Buckeyes since 2016, when he rushed for 1,096 yards. He’s dependable with the vision and jump-cut ability to find holes at the line of scrimmage, and he’s effective enough as a receiver to serve as an outlet. Despite a 4.47-second combine 40, the size-speed-explosiveness package of an NFL starter just isn’t there, but Weber has the skill set of a guy who sticks around for years as a third running back. The Cowboys are loading up on Ezekiel Elliott insurance policies on Day 3.
219. Pittsburgh Steelers: Derwin Gray, Offensive Tackle, Maryland
Gray weighs 320 pounds, has long arms, delivers a forceful punch on contact and moves well enough. That’s all you can ask for in this round. Not a bad depth pick for a team with an aging offensive line.
220. Houston Texans: Cullen Gillaspia, Fullback, Texas A&M
Gillaspia was a reserve Aggies linebacker until last year, when he switched to fullback and touched the ball 10 times in 10 games. He’s physical, and he’ll make his living on special teams. Bill O’Brien must have seen the Patriots use a fullback to great effect in the Super Bowl and decided to update his impersonation.
221. Cleveland Browns: Donnie Lewis, Cornerback, Tulane
Lewis broke up a lot of passes for the Green Wave and appears to have sound instincts, but he’s not much of a size-speed specimen. There are higher upside cornerbacks on the board, but Lewis gets the job done, and the Browns may be looking for dime defenders and special teamers who can play immediately now that they aren’t looking four years down the road.
222. Chicago Bears: Kerrith Whyte, Running Back, Florida Atlantic
Strengths: Quickness, burst
Whyte was Devin Singletary’s changeup back for the Owls. (Singletary was drafted by the Bills.) Whyte gets to full speed in a hurry, can be a June bug in the open field and has the leg drive to plow through some tackles. Whyte would be a better prospect if he had more receiving experience and was more natural catching the football. As it is, he’s in line to be Tarik Cohen’s understudy and insurance policy.
223. Cincinnati Bengals: Jordan Brown, Cornerback, South Dakota State
Weaknesses: Run support
Brown is a toolsy defender who shut down the best receivers at the high-FCS level. Run support is a serious concern—he spent much of the playoff game against option-based Kennesaw State getting cut-blocked or wired to the receivers he was defending—but Brown is quick, smooth and more technically sound than the typical small-program corner, and he’s a good value in the seventh round. Not a bad final pick for the Bengals on a busy afternoon.
224. Detroit Lions: Isaac Nauta, Tight End, Georgia
Strengths: Agility, blocking
Nauta is a quick-footed positional blocker with a nasty streak who has potential as a short-range receiving weapon. He’s a fluid athlete who can get open against linebackers—he was often covered by linebackers in Georgia’s ground-and-pound offense—and has sure hands when gobbling up passes over the middle. Nauta lacks seam-stretching speed and isn’t very quick off the line, which limits his upside.
He’s a classic backup tight end whose blocking will help him stick to the bottom of a crowded depth chart.
225. Buffalo Bills: Darryl Johnson, Edge-Rusher, North Carolina A&T
A size-wingspan-athleticism small-school guy who was productive against lower-level competition. Johnson isn’t a refined pass-rusher, and there are better all-around prospects still on the board. So ends the Bills’ streak of drafting defenders whose scouting reports read “OMG THIS IS LIKE WATCHING AN OLD TASMANIAN DEVIL CARTOON.”
226. Green Bay Packers: Ty Summers, Linebacker, TCU
Summers posted some yummy combine results, including a 4.51-second 40 at 241 pounds, and he does a lot of things pretty well: He can handle zone coverage, sticks his nose in the gap in run defense and so on. He gets glued to a spot while diagnosing plays and isn’t a thud tackler, so he doesn’t flash on tape the way he does in drills. Summers could develop into a starter in the Packers system, which still has roles for linebackers who are better between the tackles than on the move.
227. Washington Redskins: Jimmy Moreland, Cornerback, James Madison
Strengths: Ball skills, aggressiveness
See, this is the kind of defender I would have expected the Bills to select in the seventh round. Moreland was a human highlight factory at the FCS level: 18 interceptions, six pick-sixes and a sampler platter of blocked kicks, tackles for losses on screens and so forth. There’s a lot of cherry-picking on Moreland’s sizzle reel, and he’s frail (5’10”, 179 lbs) by NFL standards, but he has the quickness, tenacity and hunger for the ball to turn into a dangerous mighty-mite slot defender and special teamer.
228. Buffalo Bills: Tommy Sweeney, Tight End, Boston College
Strengths: Size, blocking
Sweeney has the size of a top NFL tight end, blocks hard and flashed the ability to extend and make difficult catches in an offense that wasn’t friendly to receivers. But he’s slow-footed, doesn’t show great lateral quickness when running routes and needs to refine his blocking fundamentals (he’s a head-ducker and waist-bender).
Sweeney has potential as a No. 2 tight end and role player for a team that should still plan to run the ball behind multi-tight end sets an awful lot.
229. Detroit Lions: P.J. Johnson, Defensive Tackle, Arizona
Massive 334-pound human with power and a little bit of quickness. Don’t overthink it.
230. Oakland Raiders: Quinton Bell, Edge-Rusher, Prairie View A&M
The Raiders’ final pick of an interesting draft is a lanky converted wide receiver (6’4”, 219 lbs) who recorded 7.5 sacks against low-level competition last year. Bell is obviously a practice-squad stash. Overall, the Raiders draft is tricky to evaluate: On paper, it looks good, but when you factor in all the draft capital they had—and all that they sacrificed to get it—the enthusiasm is a little more measured.
231. New Orleans Saints: Alize Mack, Tight End, Notre Dame
Strengths: Athletic measurables, ball skills
Weaknesses: Quickness, blocking, consistency
Mack is a tall (6’4”), well-built (249 lbs), versatile player with NFL-caliber straight-line speed and an impressive ability to catch the ball away from his body. But his game doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts. Mack is slow-footed off the snap, easy to bring down after contact, ordinary as a route-runner and a catch-and-steer blocker. He has the traits of a tight end who sticks in the NFL for years but never becomes more than a role player. The Saints needed to find a way to upgrade their receiving and tight end corps in this draft. Mack is far too little too late.
232. New York Giants: George Asafo-Adjei, Tackle, Kentucky
Undersized (6’5”, 306 lbs) for a tackle prospect, experienced, apparently well-regarded for effort and technique based on the scant bits of information available on him. Somehow, this feels like the perfect penultimate selection to the Giants draft class: a prospect Dave Gettleman probably loves for reasons few others can ascertain.
233. Miami Dolphins: Chandler Cox, Fullback, Auburn
Cox is a blocking-only fullback selected to remind you that the Dolphins are both old-school and a satellite/bootleg/cosplay version of the Patriots now and are therefore obligated to do Patriots stuff, like carry a fullback.
234. Miami Dolphins: Myles Gaskin, Running Back, Washington
Strengths: Productivity, experience
Weaknesses: Decisiveness, big-play potential
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein compares Gaskin to former Huskies running back Bishop Sankey, and while same-program comparisons can often be a little lazy (which never stops me from making them, but never mind), the shoe fits.
Gaskin, like Sankey, was productive in the Pac-12 for multiple seasons and has most of the traits the NFL is looking for in a running back: quickness, balance, some cutback ability, receiving potential if not productivity.
Sankey was a second-round pick by the Titans in 2014, but the traits never came together to make him anything more than a back-end committee guy. Gaskin is a much better value in this round.
235. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dontavius Russell, Defensive Tackle, Auburn
Russell is a well-built 319-pounder and former top recruit with lots of frustrating tape. He's often the last guy off the line at the snap, lacks any pass-rushing plans when lined up at end, doesn't do anything dangerous with his hands and can get outleveraged by blockers. Russell started in the SEC for four years, so if he was destined to put his game together, it should have happened by now. This is a traits pick. Then again, this is the round for a traits pick, and the Jaguars still have enough talent on the D-line to make a player like Russell useful in a limited/situational role.
236. Seattle Seahawks: John Ursua, Wide Receiver, Hawaii
Ursua was super-productive for the Rainbow Warriors last season: 89 catches, 1,343 yards, 16 touchdowns. His measurables suggest he’s similar to Gary Jennings, drafted earlier by the Seahawks. They’ll compete for a slot role.
237. Carolina Panthers: Terry Godwin, Wide Receiver, Georgia
Godwin was a four-year starter but has always been the second to fourth receiving option in a run-oriented system. He’s a lean, scrappy blocker on the edge with long arms, and he does the little things well (concentration and tracking on deep balls, etc.) Godwin’s ability to contribute without getting many touches could help him stick as a fourth wideout/special teamer. So he’s not a bad seventh-round selection, but please catapult this Panthers draft class into the smoldering caldera of an active volcano.
238. Chicago Bears: Stephen Denmark, Cornerback, Valdosta State
Oh, this is totally a Create-a-Player situation: 6’3”, 220 pounds, 4.46-second 40 and other 99-rating measurables at his pro day and a name that sounds like a motel alias. Someone just invented Stephen Denmark and slipped him into the draft lists to see if we would all plagiarize scouting reports on a nonexistent person, right?
Nope: There’s some film. And it shows someone who appears to be an edge-rusher running around at cornerback, laying wood to receivers, blitzing at times and getting by in coverage by being too big and scary for small-program quarterbacks to want to test.
Denmark is a converted receiver with little experience on defense. He’s either the ultimate matchup weapon or a fun project who will never escape the practice squad. I have no idea what the Bears plan to do with him, but I’m giving them a high grade, because I am just rooting for chaos at this point.
239. Minnesota Vikings: Dillon Mitchell, Wide Receiver, Oregon
Strengths: Quickness, speed
Weaknesses: Drops, consistency
Mitchell is fun to watch: a slippery receiver with quick hips and great body control who can get open underneath and turn upfield quickly for yards after the catch or to threaten defenders deep. He also drops some easy passes, often looks like he’s doing his own thing on routes and left Oregon with some whispers about his maturity and work habits. Mitchell put enough good stuff on tape to be worth a look. Immature people often mature (it’s called life), and he could be special after a few extra sessions in the film room and with the JUGS Machine. And the Vikings could use an upgrade in the slot.
240. Indianapolis Colts: Jackson Barton, Offensive Tackle, Utah
Tall, well-built two-year starter. Played for the Utes with his brother, Cody. The Deseret News ran an article about the Barton brothers headlined, “Cody Barton, Jackson Barton make Utah’s pro day a bro day.” For some reason, that headline made me incredibly, irrationally angry. But let’s not hold that against Barton, your typical developmental seventh-round tackle.
241. Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Jelks, Edge-Rusher, Oregon
Strengths: Length, hustle and pursuit
Weaknesses: Athleticism, technique
Jelks has long 34⅝-inch arms and nasty punch/swat/swim moves to keep blockers from latching on. Beyond that, he’s not slippery as an edge-rusher, lacks ideal burst and bend, and combine testing revealed a lack of pure speed and quickness.
Jelks makes plays in pursuit and crashes down the line on runs away from him, adding value as a run defender and space player. The Ducks usually lined him up as a Wide 9 edge-defender (and as a 3-technique tackle at times for some reason). Jelks will be more effective as a stand-up linebacker or situational pass-rusher. Limitations notwithstanding, he’s a great value.
242. Los Angeles Chargers: Cortez Broughton, Defensive Tackle, Cincinnati
A late bloomer who recorded 7.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for losses last year after a quiet early career for the Bearcats, Broughton is a bad-body type who gets low, fires off the line, holds his own against double-teams and can win if his blocker makes a mistake. Don't expect him to tally 7.5 sacks per year in the NFL, but he has the tools to stick as a backup tackle.
243. Los Angeles Rams: Nick Scott, Safety, Penn State
Scott is an undersized converted running back with some experience as a return man. He has a high-character reputation and projects as a special teams captain type.
244. New Orleans Saints: Kaden Elliss, Linebacker, Idaho
The Vandals used Elliss as a 238-pound edge-rusher, part-time zone defender, kick-blocker and—why not?—a big-play tight end at times. Elliss caught seven passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns in 2017, intercepted four passes in 2016 and had seven sacks last year. He’s quick and physical, has the ball skills of a receiver and has no natural position whatsoever on an NFL football field. The Saints should stash him on the practice squad and see if he becomes some sort of sub-package terror, like the defensive version of Taysom Hill. Either that or build a time machine, go back to the 1930s and make him an All-Pro two-way “end.”
245. New York Giants: Chris Slayton, Defensive Tackle, Syracuse
Strengths: Initial quickness
Slayton is a first-step winner who causes a lot more mayhem in the backfield than his 7.5 career sacks would suggest. He uses his hands to disengage well and has some other semirefined skills. He should be an effective 20-30-snap wave defender, and he has the upside to be more. Not a bad pick, Giants!
246. Indianapolis Colts: Javon Patterson, Center-Guard, Ole Miss
Strengths: Quickness, leverage
Weaknesses: Size, power
Patterson played left guard for the Rebels alongside Sean Rawlings at center, but he projects as a center or a multiposition sub in the NFL. Patterson has a thick lower body and is quick out of his stance and competitive, but he’s no mauler. He lacks an NFL-level defining trait.
247. Minnesota Vikings: Olabisi Johnson, Wide Receiver, Colorado State
Strengths: Athleticism, route running
Johnson was the No. 2 receiver across from Preston Williams (still undrafted) and played second fiddle to Michael Gallup in previous seasons. He’s a crisp route-runner with some speed and quickness, and he tested well at the combine.
It can be hard to evaluate complementary weapons at struggling mid-major programs (there’s plentiful film of sacks, errant passes and short throws to Johnson to wade through, especially in 2018). But Johnson brings enough to the table that he warrants a look in camp. Dillon Mitchell, drafted eight picks ago, is the more likely receiver to play an immediate role for the Vikings.
248. Arizona Cardinals: Joshua Miles, Offensive Tackle, Morgan State
Miles has 33⅝” long arms. Long arms are great for an offensive lineman, primarily because they can be used to lock out a defender away from his body and neutralize their moves, but it’s not like the lineman with the longest arms gets to change his name to Orlando Pace or anything. Miles was impressive in Shrine Game practices and has the athleticism to develop, but his film is pretty raw. This is a tools-based wait-and-see selection.
249. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Dogbe, Defensive Line, Temple
Strengths: Pass-rush plan, agility
Weaknesses: Tweener traits
Dogbe is off-brand Ed Oliver. Like the Houston star (drafted in the first round by the Bills), Dogbe often played out of position as a nose tackle. He would attack double teams with a wide array of swim and spin moves plus a quick first step and a frenetic style of play.
Dogbe is bigger than Oliver, but it’s not the size of the Dogbe in the fight that matters. (Sorry.) What matters is he isn’t nearly as explosive as a top 3-technique or edge-rusher but is a little light and small (6’3”, 284 lbs) for the nose. Still, this is a great value pick.
This has been a pretty strong draft for the Cardinals. But I still feel they should have done much more to upgrade their offensive line.
250. Minnesota Vikings: Austin Cutting, Long Snapper, Air Force
A service academy long snapper? Quit working Bill Belichick’s side of the street, Vikings.
251. Los Angeles Rams: Dakota Allen, Linebacker, Texas Tech
Tough, athletic, fly-around defender with limited instincts. The Rams appear to be angling for special teamers in later rounds.
252. New England Patriots: Ken Webster, Cornerback, Ole Miss
Webster was a part-time starter for the Rebels whose career went sideways after a knee injury in 2016. He timed well in offseason workouts and is a well-built defender who will provide some physicality at cornerback. The Patriots get another bargain if Webster has fully recovered and has untapped potential.
253. Washington Redskins: Jordan Brailford, Edge-Rusher, Oklahoma State
Strengths: Burst, aggressiveness
Weaknesses: Tackling, technique
Brailford overcame some early-career injuries to record 27 tackles for loss over the last two seasons and nine sacks last year. The Cowboys lined him up everywhere from the edge to middle linebacker to create mismatches, and it highlighted Brailford’s versatility and his limitations. Brailford can win on the first step or knife through an interior gap to blow up plays in the backfield, but he’s a mistake-prone open-field tackler (11 missed tackles last year, per Sports Info Solutions), looks uncomfortable in coverage and doesn’t have many moves besides go fast, hit hard.
Brailford is well-built, athletic, competitive and was a top prep recruit, so there’s enough to be worth a long look. Washington may work him in as a wild-card pass-rusher as Oklahoma State did. He’ll need work if he hopes to become more than a situational defender, but this is a heck of a late-draft value.
254. Arizona Cardinals: Caleb Wilson, Tight End, UCLA
Strengths: Athleticism, potential
Wilson is the son of Eagles defensive line coach Chris Wilson. He committed to Old Dominion to play quarterback at the start of his college career, switched to USC as a walk-on tight end while his father was coaching there and then transferred to UCLA after a redshirt season and the firing of his father.
Wilson had some huge late-career games in Chip Kelly’s offense, including 11 catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona State and nine receptions for 184 yards in his finale against Stanford. He also had a few big games in 2017 but missed much of the year with a foot injury.
Wilson has the traits to be a solid tight end, plenty of production when healthy and some technique and physicality as a blocker. The athleticism and upside are there, but he’s a work in progress. His route running, ball skills and blocking leverage all need to develop before he becomes more than a fringe NFL player. But as Mr. Irrelevants go, he’s a fine choice.
And the draft ends fittingly, with Kliff Kingsbury (the new Chip Kelly) drafting a Chip Kelly player as the finishing touch for his offense.