All “Day 3″ Team, 2008-2012
PFF's Gordon McGuinness presents a squad drawn entirely from the latter rounds of the 2008 through 2012 drafts - how would your team stack up against these guys?
All “Day 3″ Team, 2008-2012
Concluding our series of assembling the best rosters from each day of the past five NFL drafts, we come to our All “Day Three” Team, built from players selected in rounds four through seven.
While you will certainly find plenty of picks that simply didn’t work out on this day, this is also where the sleepers and hidden gems are found. But how does it stack up with our All First Round and All “Day Two” teams?
We’ll let you be the judge of that.
Quarterback: Kirk Cousins (No. 102 overall, 2012)
Best Season: +5.2 (2012)
Once upon a time the New England Patriots drafted quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round. Sadly, in all the time we’ve been grading here at Pro Football Focus, no other team has been able to find a top signal-caller after the third round. So much was the struggle to find a quarterback to start for the All “Day Three” Team that it came down to Matt Flynn and Kirk Cousins, who have combined to start just three games in their NFL careers. Ultimately we went with Cousins because, unlike Flynn, we’ve yet to see a bad game from him to counteract the good play. After a solid rookie season in limited duty, Cousins may be called on to start as the Washington Redskins begin their 2013 season, depending on the health of Robert Griffin III, but we won’t rush to anoint him as a franchise quarterback just yet.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Flynn (No. 209 overall, 2008)
Running Back: Alfred Morris (No. 173 overall, 2012)
Best Season: +18.3 (2012)
Is it perhaps just a myth that it’s easy to find quality running backs late in the draft? Bar a big season from Peyton Hillis in 2010, it’s another position that lacked an outstanding performance until Alfred Morris came along in 2012. Stepping in as the Redskins’ starter from Week 1, he had a phenomenal first season in the league, topping 1,600 yards on the ground and rushing for 13 touchdowns. Those numbers are impressive on their own, but when you consider that 1,001 of those yards came after contact it’s clear just how good Morris was beyond the help of his blockers. Finishing the year fifth among starting running backs with an Elusive Rating of 51.0, only Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch forced more missed tackles as runners. Obviously it’s just one season, but the Redskins look to have found themselves a very special player in the sixth round of last years’ draft.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Goodson (No. 111 overall, 2009), LaRod Stephens-Howling (No. 240 overall, 2009), Peyton Hillis (No. 227 overall, 2008)
Fullback: Bruce Miller (No. 211 overall, 2011)
Best Season: +13.3 (2012)
Unlike our first two positions, you’ll find plenty of quality fullbacks drafted in the fourth round and beyond, with them ranging from newer, pass-catching players to the rare throwbacks who keep the dying art of lead blocking alive. With a back like Morris behind him, we wanted to go with a lead blocker like San Francisco’s Bruce Miller to lead the way. Coming into the league as a linebacker, where he won Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year honors in his Junior and Senior seasons, Miller made the switch to fullback look pretty effortless. His second season was better than his first and, though it’s not something that sees much praise these days, he’s up there with the best lead blockers in the game right now.
Honorable Mention: Jerome Felton (No. 146 overall, 2008)
Wide Receivers: Antonio Brown (No. 195 overall, 2010), Pierre Garcon (No. 205 overall, 2008) and Brian Hartline (No. 108 overall, 2009)
Best Seasons: Brown (+16.3, 2011); Garcon (+8.7, 2012); Hartline (+7.1, 2012)
Another position that isn’t exactly littered with stars drafted late, Antonio Brown headlines our receiving trio. Drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, it took him until late in his rookie year to get the chance to make more impact as a receiver, but by the time the 2011 season rolled around he had become a key part of the Steelers’ offensive plans. Sure handed, with just 10 drops in his first three seasons in the league, Brown has the speed to get behind defenses but is just as good on shorter routes too.
Pierre Garcon was lucky enough to go from catching passes from arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time in Peyton Manning, to a quarterback who had one of the best rookie seasons we’ve ever seen in Robert Griffin III. Still, he has been impressive in his own right, and should have his share of big performances in Washington with RG3.
While he may not have been as consistent as the other two, Brian Hartline showed enough in a breakout 2012 campaign to earn his spot on this team. Finishing tied 14th among all receivers with a Yards Per Route Run average of 2.08, he’s set up to partner well with new Miami Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace in 2013 and beyond.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Williams (No. 101 overall, 2010), Cecil Shorts (No. 114 overall, 2011)
Tight End: Aaron Hernandez (No. 113 overall, 2010)
Best Season: +20.9 (2011)
Though he isn’t the same blocker as teammate Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez has been a key player for the New England Patriots since they drafted him in 2010. His versatility has seen him line up all over the field, even seeing a few rushing attempts in his time, and he does some damage as a slot receiver too. Back in 2011, which was the best season of his three-year career, Hernandez racked up 422 yards and a Yards Per Route Run average of 1.99 from the slot. Season 2012 wasn’t quite as impressive but, if he can stay on the field, don’t be surprised to see him with more than 1,000 yards receiving again in 2013.
Honorable Mention: Dennis Pitta (No. 114 overall, 2010)
Tackle: King Dunlap (No. 230 overall, 2008) and Bobbie Massie (No. 112 overall, 2012)
Best Seasons: Dunlap (+6.6, 2012); Massie (-13.1, 2012)
With a name that matches his size, King Dunlap has seen time at both left and right tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles. His play has generally been good, but he stepped up in a big way to fill in at left tackle last season in the most action he has seen in his career. That season convinced the San Diego Chargers Dunlap was worth a chunk of their free agency cash in the hope he can help settle Philip Rivers’ nerves.
On the other side you’re probably wondering how on earth Bobbie Massie can make this team with a grade as poor as his was in his rookie season. Well, while that’s true, and while you can’t disregard the awful start to his career, Massie really turned it around in the second half of 2012, allowing just 14 total pressures in the final nine games of the season. To put that in context, that’s one more pressure than he allowed against Miami in Week 4 alone.
Honorable Mention: None
Guard: Carl Nicks (No. 164 overall, 2008) and Josh Sitton (No. 135 overall, 2008)
Best Seasons: Nicks (+35.6, 2010); Sitton (+37.2, 2010)
Drafted just 29 picks apart in the 2008 draft, our offensive guards are up there with the best in the league. Though he missed most of his first season in Tampa Bay through injury, Carl Nicks has been among the best players at his position since entering the league. This is highlighted by the fact that his Pass Blocking Efficiency Rating has never been below 97.4 to end a season.
His partner on this team, Josh Sitton, became a starter in his second season and hasn’t looked back since. His lowest graded season since then has been a whopping +20.8, with him never ranking lower than sixth among all right guards in that time.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Slauson (No. 193 overall, 2009); Geoff Schwartz (No. 241 overall, 2008)
Center: John Sullivan (No. 187 overall, 2008)
Best Season: +26.4 (2012)
Completing the interior of the All “Day Three” Team is another player from that 2008 draft in Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan. Overcoming a slow start to his career, marred with more poor performances than good ones, Sullivan has really turned it around these past two seasons, developing into the best at his position in the league.
Honorable Mention: None
For the All “Day 3″ Defense, read on to Page 2…
Gordon McGuinness | Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst
Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.