1 Rookie to Keep an Eye on for Every NFL Team Coming Out of OTAs

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystJune 4, 2021

1 Rookie to Keep an Eye on for Every NFL Team Coming Out of OTAs

0 of 32

    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Every opportunity to impress a coaching staff matters.

    Organized team activities may be considered voluntary and the NFLPA encouraged its members not to attend, but too many realize these reps are mandatory to their career arcs.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said the quiet part out loud recently.

    "These guys out here are working their ass off," Arians said, per The Athletic's Greg Auman. "I'd like to see about 10 more of them that are fighting for jobs that they don't know they're fighting for."

    Anyone who has played football at any level understands what a coach actually means when he says something is voluntary and not every professional player has the luxury of a big contract or secure roster spot, even the recently drafted rookies.

    Yes, the majority of the class is safe from the onset of their careers, but not all of them. They have something to earn the moment they put on those new colors for the first time. First impressions are often critical to their development.

    None of the following rookies heard their names called in the first round or even became their respective teams' initial selections, yet all of them should come out of organized team activities as potential long-term pieces of the puzzle for the 2021 campaign and beyond.

Arizona Cardinals: WR Rondale Moore

1 of 32

    Matt York/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals were set at wide receiver with DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk and A.J. Green on the roster prior to the draft. Yet the organization decided to select Rondale Moore in this year's second round because the Cardinals staff saw the potential in adding his explosivity to the scheme.

    "We're going to use him in as many different ways as we can," head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters a month ago.

    Moore certainly didn't disappoint once he started to work with his new coaches.

    "Very, very confident young man," Kingsbury said. "Played in a great system there at Purdue so very familiar with some of our offensive terminology, the way we do things. But just like attitude, he’s a worker, he’s focused, he’s business-like. All he wants to do is to continue to meet and to continue to work out and continue to run routes."

    The rookie will be all over the field, including special teams as a returner.

Atlanta Falcons: C Drew Dalman

2 of 32

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons are reworking their offensive front, specifically center and left guard. To address the situation, new general manager Terry Fontenot drafted a pair of offensive linemen in the third and fourth rounds.

    Both Jalen Mayfield and Drew Dalman will have an opportunity to compete for the left guard spot. Even though Dalman was drafted later, he is more valuable because he brings center-guard versatility.

    Currently, Matt Hennessy projects as Alex Mack's replacement, but Dalman remains part of that competition as well.

    "Yeah, that's kind of the big thing is that we are all just offensive linemen at this point," Dalman told reporters. "We are working everything. We are doing everything to be ready."

    Furthermore, the fourth-round rookie is an ideal fit in Arthur Smith's offensive scheme due to his lateral quickness and overall agility.

Baltimore Ravens: OG Ben Cleveland

3 of 32

    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Ben Cleveland fell into the latter portion of the third round, but the mountainous blocker is tailor-made to play in the Baltimore Ravens' physical, run-first offensive scheme.

    Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman called Cleveland "the best run-blocker in the draft," per ESPN's Jamison Hensley.

    With Kevin Zeitler already set at right guard, Cleveland will move to the left side, though he played on the strong side with the Georgia Bulldogs.

    Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz sees a 357-pound lineman with good feet, awareness and ability to recover.

    Baltimore made lot of changes up front with Ronnie Stanley returning to left tackle, Bradley Bozeman moving to center, Zeiter's addition and Alejandro Villanueva's signing. It's an opportune time for Cleveland to assert himself as a starter at left guard.

Buffalo Bills: Edge Carlos Basham Jr.

4 of 32

    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills expect much from last year's second-round pick, A.J. Epenesa, as the focal point of the team's pass rush the fall.

    But the organization also understood its defense need more punch when rushing opposing quarterbacks. Specifically, the unit needed to get younger with Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison doing the heavy lifting last season.

    General manager Brandon Beane drafted back-to-back edge-rushers in the first and second round. Gregory Rousseau may have come off the board earlier, but Carlos Basham Jr., who has more playing experience and an outstanding athletic profile, is more prepared to contribute immediately and push Epenesa.

    "Competition breeds excellence, in my opinion," Epenesa told reporters. "That's the way of the business. These guys are great guys and they've been working hard. They've done some great things out on the field."

Carolina Panthers: OT Brady Christensen

5 of 32

    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    The left side of the Carolina Panthers offensive line is completely unsettled and third-round offensive lineman Brady Christensen will be critical in how the team proceeds with this year's starting five.

    The question is whether he'll eventually take over at left guard or tackle since the Panthers value him at both positions.

    "Remember, we have Brady Christensen," head coach Matt Rhule said during the draft, per the team's official site. "Third-round tackle, second-round guard."

    As such, Christensen will continue to work both spots to determine where he'll ultimately land in the lineup.

    "I'm just trying to be the best version of me at any position they want me to play, so I'm trying to learn every spot and be ready to go in and compete and excited to do so," Christensen told reporters.

Chicago Bears: CB Thomas Graham Jr.

6 of 32

    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    Unfortunately, Chicago Bears wide receiver Dazz Newsome suffered a broken collarbone Tuesday, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Otherwise, the sixth-round draft pick would be slotted here.

    Instead, his sixth-round partner, cornerback Thomas Graham Jr., gets the nod, because the undersized corner, who opted out of last season, can walk into a significant role with continued strong showings.

    "I absolutely think there's an opportunity for him," head coach Matt Nagy told reporters. "You guys could see two years ago what type of player he was. We saw it. Really, really talented."

    Graham can immediately take over the slot with Desmond Trufant and Jaylon Johnson working outside the numbers.

    "In our game and most games that you play, reps mean something," defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend said when asked about Graham. "But the things that you like about him are how consistent he is. He is a playmaker. He can see the ball in the air, he can find it, track it."

Cincinnati Bengals: OG Jackson Carman

7 of 32

    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Bengals selected wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase with the fifth overall pick in this year's draft, but the team's draft class hinges on Jackson Carman's development along the offensive line.

    Many (myself included) questioned whether the organization made the right choice when it bypassed the class' best offensive line prospect, Oregon's Penei Sewell, for Chase when the team's biggest need centered on properly protecting quarterback Joe Burrow.

    The Bengals decided to wait until the second round and target Carman, who's expected to move from tackle to left guard.

    "We were working on me getting more comfortable in my guard stance and critiquing the nuances and different weight shifting and where my feet exactly should be," Carman told reporters about the transition. "Different weight angles and things like that. Just fine-tuning some things."

Cleveland Browns: WR Anthony Schwartz

8 of 32

    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Anthony Schwartz didn't get a lot of reps during the Cleveland Browns' organized team activities because the third-round receiver was nursing an injury. Then again, none of the Browns received many reps since head coach Kevin Stefanski centered the team's recent sessions on teaching the young players with plenty of drill work.

    "He is fine," Stefanski said of Schwartz. "In the offseason, you have a lot of little nicks and guys work through things, they are out for a day and they are back in there and some guys are sick and out for a day. That is the normal course of the offseason."

    In the speedy receiver's case, he's already put in plenty of work alongside veteran Jarvis Landry to give him an advantage as mandatory minicamp approaches.

    "Working out with a five-time Pro Bowler, a guy of his caliber, not everyone gets to do that," Schwartz told reporters at rookie minicamp. "I feel like learning from him is going to do a lot for me moving forward and it’s going to help me get a jumpstart on really probably the rest of the rookies out there."

Dallas Cowboys: LB Jabril Cox

9 of 32

    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys brass knew they had to be better on defense and no one was safe, even a linebacker room that already featured Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.

    Dallas chose linebackers Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox with the 12th and 115th overall picks, respectively.

    "I think when you talk about Cowboys ownership, it's about them doing their jobs on adding talent to make the team better," Smith told reporters when asked about the message sent from the front office.

    Parsons and Cox are also more than capable of taking Smith and Vander Esch's jobs. According to David Helman of the Cowboys official site, the two rookies "worked together a lot" during organized team activities.

    Parsons is basically guaranteed a starting spot, but Cox's extended involvement should be noted since he's an ideal complementary piece as a versatile defender who's comfortable working in space.

Denver Broncos: RB Javonte Williams

10 of 32

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    All attention on the Denver Broncos falls squarely on the team's quarterbacks and whether Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Lock will start this fall.

    However, the gaze from those watching should shift slightly to another spot in the backfield since the Broncos have significant talent at running back. Melvin Gordon III may be considered the team's lead back, but Denver chose Javonte Williams near to the top of the second round for a reason.

    "We like his skill-set," Broncos head coach Vic Fangio told reporters.

    "We are very happy to have him and we think he has a chance to be a very good player for us. You never have enough backs. Backs are the easiest position on offense to get the ball to. You just have to hand it to them or throw a short pass and they make it happen."

    The Broncos' running game will be a focal point of the offense whether Bridgewater or Lock starts. Williams could easily find himself in a featured role.

Detroit Lions: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

11 of 32

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    The Detroit Lions have the worst wide receiver corps in football. As such, very little is standing in the way of a rookie from immediately stepping in and being a significant part of the team's passing attack.

    Detroit drafted one wide receiver with Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fourth round.

    St. Brown is a silky smooth route-runner but he's not an explosive target. Still, his maturity, refinement and versatility should be a big part of the team's offense and special teams under the direction of new head coach Dan Campbell.

    "He definitely has taken this seriously and we know he's got some ability," Campbell told reporters. "I would tell you he's growing, he really is. And not just growing in the receiver room, there's things he's doing in Dave Fipp's area of the field, the special teams, that you're like, 'OK, this is pretty good.' I think he's right on track. Just keep growing and small steps every day. But it's been good."

    This year's 112th overall pick should be a natural working out of the slot.

Green Bay Packers: WR Amari Rodgers

12 of 32

    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    The Green Bay Packers' unwillingness to invest a first-round pick in a wide receiver to help quarterback Aaron Rodgers is well-known. So, the second general manager Brian Gutenkunst chose Amari Rodgers in this year's third round, the importance of the selection increased.

    The first-team All-ACC performer will enter the league with expectations well beyond a typical mid-round pick. Rodgers is excellent with the ball after the catch. He can line up in all different positions and be used more as a gadget player/playmaker instead of a typical outside receiver.

    Furthermore, the Packers view him as a potential dynamic returner.

    "He catches the ball, one," special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton told reporters. "Our No. 1 job as a punt returner is not to give the ball back to the offense. He has a great idea on how to track a ball. ... His approach to [the catch point], he understands the importance of it, and that’s what makes him very valuable to us right now as a prospective punt returner."

Houston Texans: WR Nico Collins

13 of 32

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    So much turnover occurred with the Houston Texans roster since Nick Caserio took over as general manager that it's difficult to name which players are even on the team, let alone who has the best opportunity to emerge by outperforming expectations.

    In this case, it's best to listen to those around the Texans' rookies, and wide receiver Nico Collins earned respect from the onset of organized team activities.

    "This guy doesn't look like no rookie to me," veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks told reporters. "You talk about a guy who's out there, that's coachable ... you love to see that from a young guy. Guy's explosive, natural hands. ... Looking forward to continuing to work with him and seeing him grow."

    Collins brings something different as a big-bodied (6'4", 215 pounds) target compared to Cooks, Randall Cobb and Keke Coutee.

Indianapolis Colts: TE Kylen Granson

14 of 32

    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich already said the team's fourth-round selection, tight end Kylen Granson, will be a big part of the offense even before the draft.

    "I like Granson a lot," Reich told others in the Colts' war room, per The Athletic's Zak Keefer. "He's gonna play."

    Granson is an undersized tight end at 6'2" and 241 pounds, but he'll bring explosive qualities to an offense that currently features Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox.

    "He adds a speed element to our room that I really think is going to help us offensively," general manager Chris Ballard said. "Especially on third down."

    All of these projections came to life in organized team activities when Granson showed he can make difficult grabs in the end zone, per J.J. Stankevitz of the team's official site.

Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Tyson Campbell

15 of 32

    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    The Jacksonville Jaguars used their two first-round picks to build up the offense before moving ahead with defensive back Tyson Campbell at the top of the second frame.

    Campbell's addition is critical, though. His skill set will help new head coach Urban Meyer realize his vision for the Jaguars defense.

    "He played safety in high school and he was a state champion in Florida in the 100 (meters), and we're going to dual-teach him right out of the gate corner and nickel," Meyer told reporters. "And if you can do that, you have CJ Henderson, Shaq (Griffin), Tyson Campbell and a guy named Tre Herndon. You have 6-foot, 6-foot-1 legitimate 4-3 guys in your coverage position—which is critical."

    Sure, Campbell came off the board with the 33rd overall pick. But Jacksonville's coaching staff clearly has big plans for him that extend beyond just being an outside corner.

Kansas City Chiefs: C Creed Humphrey

16 of 32

    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    What the Kansas City Chiefs achieved by completely rebuilding their offensive front in one offseason is nothing short of astounding. The Chiefs now have talent everywhere along their offensive line—which creates competition at multiple positions.

    Austin Blythe started 47 games over the last three seasons, including all 16 a year ago as the Los Angeles Rams center. He's operating under a one-year, prove-it deal this year, though. Whereas, the Chiefs sunk a second-round investment in fellow pivot Creed Humphrey.

    Center seems to the logical destination, but the Chiefs cross-train their linemen in order to get the best five on the field. Humphrey is no exception.

    "I just got here so I'll be trying out different spots and I’m just ready to come in and compete whether it be center, whether it be guard, whether it be tackle," the rookie told reporters. "I'm coming in here to compete and that's all I know."

Las Vegas Raiders: Edge Malcolm Koonce

17 of 32

    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders' inability to consistently generate pressure isn't a secret. The team has been searching for the right combination to harass opposing quarterbacks since it traded Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears.

    General manager Mike Mayock already made significant investments in Clelin Ferrell, Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue, whom the team signed in free agency. The Raiders drafted Buffalo's Malcolm Koonce, too.

    "His value will be on third down,” Mayock told reporters. "He's a natural pass-rusher."

    Koonce may never develop into an every-down defender, but his capability of creating pressure can't be stressed enough. He played in only six games last season yet managed five sacks and six tackles for loss. In 2019, the two-time first-team All-MAC performer posted one of the nation's highest pass-rush win rates.

    "He's got a toolbox that you'd be surprised to see from a kid from Buffalo," Mayock said. "He's got outside slip, he's got a spin move. He's got a fake spin move. ... You don’t see many college guys with a fake spin move."

Los Angeles Chargers: CB Asante Samuel Jr.

18 of 32

    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Brandon Staley is tasked with starting all over again after molding the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense a year ago.

    The Los Angeles Chargers aren't devoid of defensive talent, but a few pieces were still missing at the start of the offseason. In particular, Staley relied heavily on Troy Hill last season to play outside and nickel corner. The same role should be waiting for this year's second-round pick, Asante Samuel Jr.

    "This guy can get you the ball. That's something we really value ... somebody who can get you the ball," Staley told reporters. "He's an outstanding open-field tackler. So you put in the bloodlines, and man, you feel really good about this pick."

    Plenty of flexibility can be found within the Chargers secondary to flesh out Staley's schematic approach of dropping more into coverage.

    "I just want to do what I do and just be myself. I'm not trying to be Derwin James, I'm not trying to be [Rams CB] Jalen Ramsey," Samuel said. "I'm just trying to be Asante Samuel Jr. Whatever that is, that's what I'm going to do and just try to get one percent better every day."

Los Angeles Rams: LB Ernest Jones

19 of 32

    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    Ernest Jones may be only 21 years old, but he's quickly taking charge of the Los Angeles Rams defense when he's on the field. The rookie is already making the calls with the first-team defensive unit. 

    "That's what I was kind of brought in here for, to be vocal and continue what I did in college," Jones told reporters. "The first few days, [I was] being a little cautious and nervous [about] speaking in front of [teammates]. In just these last few days, I've become comfortable with them.

    "Once you see something, you take control, you call it out. Not being nervous, you know, bashful."

    Jones fell to the third round because he's not the swiftest linebacker. But his ability to process and relay information will be vital to the Rams defense and could very well earn him a starting role.

    Kenny Young and Micah Kiser return, but the linebackers were considered a weakness in last year's top-notch defensive performance. Jones has the potential to improve the group.

Miami Dolphins: S Jevon Holland

20 of 32

    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins released veteran defensive back Bobby McCain a month ago. McCain started 36 games over the last three seasons, but the selection of second-round safety Jevon Holland helped facilitate the move. 

    "As a free safety in our defense, we really need him to right the wrongs and really know all the other individual spots and know how the 11-piece puzzle on defense works," defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander said of Holland, per the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Safied Deen

    "So, for him to be able to establish that, know what to say, in what situations, and also be loud and confident in his demeanor in order for him to take command and play free safety or any position on the field."

    Like McCain, Holland brings flexibility to the Dolphins secondary. This year's 36th overall pick is comfortable working as a safety or slot corner. In fact, his slot coverage grade since the start of the 2019 campaign ranked first overall, per Pro Football Focus

Minnesota Vikings: OG Wyatt Davis

21 of 32

    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Vikings are well on their way toward starting a pair of rookie offensive linemen this fall.

    Chris Darrisaw will take over at left tackle after the team chose him with this year's 23rd overall pick. Wyatt Davis has more of an uphill climb to claim the right guard spot, but he's the most logical option to claim the starting role. But the Vikings coaching staff plans to work both with the second- and third-team offenses for now.

    "We want those guys to earn their stripes," offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak told reporters.

    Sure, sure.

    Darrisaw is the team's left tackle due to his draft status and veteran Dakota Dozer is an awful pass blocker, which means Davis is the best option at guard.

    "If they're the best guys, they're going to play," head coach Zimmer said. "It just depends on how soon that happens."

New England Patriots: Edge Ronnie Perkins

22 of 32

    Alonzo Adams/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots lacked a true explosive edge-rusher since the team traded Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals five years ago.

    Since then, no pass-rusher managed more than 7.5 sacks in a regular season. A year ago, Chase Winovich led the squad with 5.5 sacks. This type of effort isn't good enough.

    The Patriots drafted Oklahoma's Ronnie Perkins with this year's 96th overall pick. Perskins graded among college football's best edge defenders last season. His overall and pass-rush graded ranked second and sixth overall, respectively, per Pro Football Focus' Jon Macri.

    Perkins brings dynamic traits and versatility to New England's defense.

    "Ronnie's a versatile playerhe's played on both ends of the line, left and right, strong side, weak side, he's also reduced down and played some 3-technique," head coach Bill Belichick told reporters. "So if you watch him play, you get a number of opportunities to evaluate his playing strengths, especially against bigger people."

New Orleans Saints: CB Paulson Adebo

23 of 32

    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The fact the New Orleans Saints haven't added anything to their cornerback room other than drafting Paulson Adebo with a third-round pick says a lot about what the rookie can do in the team's system.

    Currently, the Saints don't have a specific answer at left cornerback.

    Adebo played the same spot during his collegiate career and excelled in man coverage. Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is one of the game's most aggressive playcallers and often leaves his corners on an island. This year's 76th overall pick excels in man coverage with a 96.1 grade when in singled up (h/t SB Nation's Peter Bukowski).

    Marshon Lattimore will continue to play his regular spot on the right side of the formation. Patrick Robinson, P.J. Williams and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson excel over the slot. A pathway toward Adebo starting is clear, as long as he transitions well after opting out of the 2020 campaign.

New York Giants: Edge Azeez Ojulari

24 of 32

    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    Azeez Ojulari is already the most gifted edge-rusher on the New York Giants roster.

    "He's a freaky-looking player," linebacker Martinez told reporters. "Just watching him today, he made some great plays out there in practice, showed some athleticism, things like that."

    The 20-year-old excelled during his final season on campus with a pass-rush grade near the same level as those posted by Chase Young, Josh Allen and Nick Bosa, per Pro Football Focus' Brent Rollins.

    Supposed injury concerns seem to have factored in Ojulari falling into the second round. Also, questions arose about the edge-rushers full capabilities as a pass-rusher arose. Ojulari clearly displayed the class' best speed rush. The dip-and-rip might be his best move, but it's not his only one.

    "That's not the only move I've got, but it's just the most effective to get to the quarterback, and it works," the rookie told reporters. "If not, I'll just try something else, find something else that'll work."

New York Jets: RB Michael Carter

25 of 32

    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    The New York Jets don't have a feature back currently in place. Or do they?

    The organization chose North Carolina's Michael Carter with the 107th overall pick in this year's draft. Carter, who shared a backfield and generally outproduced former teammate Javonte Williams, fell in the draft because he's not the biggest back (5'8", 201 pounds) and lacks a true top gear.

    Yet, the fourth-round pick displayed some of the best vision and natural running ability in the entire class. He's a natural fit in the Jets' new outside zone scheme under offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.

    The Athletic's Connor Hughes reported that the rookie rotated with veterans Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson on the Jets' first-team offense during organized team activities. Carter could easily turn into New York's lead runner.

    "Michael's got tremendous vision, he's got tremendous speed, burst. He's got the ability to make people miss," Jets head coach Robert Saleh told reporters after the draft.

Philadelphia Eagles: DL Milton Williams

26 of 32

    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Once the Philadelphia Eagles escaped the Alabama vortex they were stuck in during the first and second rounds—DeVonta Smith and Landon Dickson should be excellent professionals after playing for the Crimson Tide—the franchise landed a potential-packed defensive lineman in Louisiana State's Milton Williams with the 73rd overall pick.

    Williams immediately adds depth to both defensive end and the interior. New teammates already see his potential within the scheme.

    "I love the (Milton Williams) pick," defensive tackle Javon Hargrave told reporters. "He got a motor. He can really help us. I'm impressed by some of his abilities."

    Hargrave should be impressed. Williams is an unbelievable athlete on par with Aaron Donald. While the previous statement may seem hyperbolic at first blush, the athletic testing between both is quite similar. Obviously, the rookie shouldn't be compared to Donald from an on-field perspective. Even so, Williams should bring quite a bit to the Eagles' defensive front.

Pittsburgh Steelers: C Kendrick Green

27 of 32

    Andy Manis/Associated Press

    Kendrick Green is trying to follow in the footsteps of the greats who preceded him at center for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    The third-round rookie is expected to make a full-time transition over the ball, though he can play either guard spot. At Illinois, Green started only four games at center. Yet he's seen as a natural at the position. More importantly, he brings a level of competitiveness and nastiness to the position that's been lacking along the Steelers offensive line for some time.

    "It just sets the tone, especially at that position," offensive line coach Adrian Klemm told reporters. 'It's the belly of the beast. He comes out and he's playing with that type of demeanor that carries throughout the group. If we play collectively like that, it is contagious on the team."

    Green will have competition from veterans J.C. Hassenauer and B.J. Finney, but the job is likely the rookie's to lose because of his attitude and natural ability.

San Francisco 49ers: RB Trey Sermon

28 of 32

    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers chose running back Trey Sermon with the 88th overall pick in this year's draft.

    The addition of a third-round running back isn't a big deal for any other team. In San Francisco, a Day 2 investment in a position seen as devalued due to the system says a lot about how the team views Sermon's potential.

    Unsurprisingly, Sermon already ran with the first-team offense, albeit Raheem Mostert is dealing with a knee injury, during the organized team activities, per the Sacramento Bee's Chris Biderman.

    Mostert may share reps with the rookie upon the veteran's return, but Sermon runs differently than anyone else currently on the roster.

    "He's such an aggressive runner," tight end George Kittle told reporters last week. "He's a big body. He just likes to run through people, but he still has a finesse to his game, which is awesome to see. He's a fast guy that runs downhill, and I love that in this offense."

Seattle Seahawks: OT Stone Forsythe

29 of 32

    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The Seattle Seahawks made only three draft selections this spring, so options are limited when it comes to potential rookie contributions.  Of the three, the final pick is the most intriguing. The Seahawks chose Florida offensive tackle Stone Forsythe with the 208th overall selection.

    "He's got tremendous length and his stature, he's just built so beautifully," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told reporters. "He's really just perfectly fit for the position, left tackle."

    Currently, long-term stalwart Duane Brown mans Russell Wilson's blind side.

    But Brown turns 36 before the start of the 2021 campaign, and Wilson made sure to make his overall displeasure of Seattle's previous protection issues publicly known this offseason. Forsythe has the physical tools to help sooner rather than later, especially since he has experience at both tackle spots.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Kyle Trask

30 of 32

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Yes, Tom Brady is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starting quarterback and that's not going to change at any point in the near future. But the Bucs made a rather significant investment in the game's most important position when general manager Jason Licht chose Florida's Kyle Trask in this year's second round.

    On an already loaded team, the long-term development of Brady's potential heir apparent over the course of this season is significant.

    Veteran backup Ryan Griffin told reporters that Trask "looks really good compared to other rookies he's seen" with a good arm and accuracy.

    Head coach Bruce Arians showered his new signal-caller with even more praise.

    "I'm really impressed,” Arians said. "Mentally, he's not far behind what Andrew did in the same offense. What Andrew did that year was unbelievable. I'm not saying he’s Andrew Luck, but mentally he’s really, really sharp."

Tennessee Titans: LB Monty Rice

31 of 32

    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans once appeared set at linebacker with 2018 first-round pick Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown playing off the ball. Neither is guaranteed to be with the team after this season.

    Titans brass chose not to pick up Evans' fifth-year rookie option and Brown is a free agent after this season as well.

    Tennessee responded by selecting Monty Rice in this year's third round.

    "He kept showing up, kept making plays," head coach Mike Vrabel told reporters. "When we talked with him, got to know him, this is a confident player who was willing to lead inside and was productive."

    A transition seems inevitable. Rice and veteran David Long Jr. should push for playing time over Evans and Brown this season and ultimately replace them.

Washington Football Team: WR Dyami Brown

32 of 32

    Susan Walsh/Associated Press

    The Washington Football Team may still have questions at quarterback, but a) Ryan Fitzpatrick is a capable starter and b) the organization's front office made the necessary moves to make life easier for whomever's behind center.

    The third-round selection of wide receiver Dyami Brown opened the playbook up even more. According to Pro Football Focus, this year's 82nd overall pick ranked first receptions, yardage and touchdowns on go routes since the start of the 2019 campaign.

    He and Fitzpatrick should be on the same page sooner rather than later.

    "Oh man, that's a guy right there. That's a guy. I like him a lot," Browns said during an interview on 106.7 The Fan's BMitch & Finlay (h/t Washington Wire's Bryan Manning). "You know, he's out there, he's composed. He likes to throw deep. I've just seen him throw deep a few times, he has a great arm."

    Brown's ability to stretch the field will be a nice complement to Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.