10 mid-round gems from the 2017 NFL Draft

Senior Analyst Steve Palazzolo identifies 10 mid-rounders that should make a significant impact for their teams.

| 4 weeks ago
George Kittle

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

10 mid-round gems from the 2017 NFL Draft


The middle of the draft is where general managers make their money (so they say), but particularly in this draft, there were a plethora of starters to be had with such great depth at multiple positions. Finding starters and contributors in the middle rounds is crucial for future success, and a number of players are well set up to make immediate contributions next season with potential to move into starting roles in the near future. Here are the best mid-round picks from the 2017 NFL Draft.

Los Angeles Chargers logo header

1. Desmond King, CB, Iowa (Round 5, pick No. 151)

King’s production was as good as it gets in college, and while he may not be the best man-coverage cornerback in the draft, he brings great value to the Chargers’ secondary. King was looked at as a safety by many NFL teams, but as a zone corner, he has excellent feel for route concepts and good ball skills to go with it. If the Chargers deploy him in a variety of zone coverages, King can excel, just as he did at Iowa, where he put up three strong coverage grades (82.4 in 2014, 87.0 in 2015, and 85.1 in 2016). Throw in his sure tackling (only 11 misses on 176 attempts over the last three years) and the Chargers got a solid football player in the back half of the draft.

Jacksonville Jaguars

2. Blair Brown, LB, Ohio (Round 5, pick No. 148)

Production and athleticism match up to make Brown a potential steal in the fifth round. His 92.4 PFF overall grade ranked second in the nation, as did his 91.5 grade against the run. Brown was also solid in coverage, ranking seventh with an 85.6 mark. He’s had the best tackling efficiency in the draft class, missing only three of his 134 attempts last season, and he has three-down potential if given the opportunity in Jacksonville.

Washington Redskins

3. Chase Roullier, C, Wyoming (Round 6, pick No. 199)

Finding a starting offensive lineman in the sixth round represents great value, and that may be what the Redskins found in Roullier. He was one of the nation’s best guards in 2015, earning a 90.6 overall grade that season, and ranked 11th in the nation after moving to center in 2016 (81.8 overall grade). Roullier has the quickness and power to play in any scheme in the run game, and he’s been solid in pass protection, surrendering only 14 total QB pressures on 882 attempts over the last two years. Expect Roullier to compete for snaps at either left guard or center very shortly.

San Francisco 49ers

4. George Kittle, TE, Iowa (Round 5, pick No. 146)

One of the better all-around tight ends in the draft, Kittle is a shifty route runner and a solid run blocker, and his ability to block on the move could make him a do-everything option for the 49ers. Expect Kittle to compete for snaps as a “move” tight end, but he can also contribute as a traditional fullback in new head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Kittle was the No. 5 tight end on our final draft board, and the 49ers are hoping to get production similar to his 2015 season, when his 82.3 overall grade was fifth in the nation, despite playing only 383 snaps.

New Orleans Saints

5. Trey Hendrickson, Edge, Florida Atlantic (Round 3, pick No. 103)

No edge defender recorded more than Hendrickson’s 78 QB pressures, as he notched nine sacks, 13 QB hits, and 56 hurries on only 348 rushes in 2016. He’s no one-year wonder, either, as he picked up 15 sacks, 13 QB hits, and 24 hurries on only 305 rushes in 2015, so there is a track record of getting after the quarterback. Combine that with a strong workout in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine, and Hendrickson fills an immediate needs for the Saints where he can step in as a pass-rush specialist.

New England Patriots

6. Deatrich Wise, Edge, Arkansas (Round 4, pick No. 131)

There will be many comparisons to former Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers, who is coming off a breakout season for the Patriots, and just as we were much higher on Flowers than his fourth-round status suggested (we had a first-round grade on him in the 2015 draft), we also feel that Wise came off the board later than expected. He fits the classic mold of a New England edge rusher, with good length and technique; it showed on the field to the tune of 15 sacks, 23 QB hits, and 44 hurries on 524 rushes, just over a season’s worth of action. Wise has the frame to kick inside to rush the passer, so look for him to be used immediately all over the defensive front for the Patriots.

Green Bay Packers

7. Vince Biegel, LB, Wisconsin (Round 4, pick No. 108)

Wisconsin has been churning out productive edge defenders in recent years, and Biegel may be the best of the bunch. He picked up 20 sacks, 26 QB hits, and 84 hurries on his 713 rushes over the last three years, and his 15.3 pass-rushing productivity ranked 11th in the draft class in 2016. Throw in his solid run-defense (87.8 grade in 2015 and 82.4 in 2016), and Biegel is more than just a pass-rush specialist. Green Bay may have hit on a potential starter early in the fourth round — great value for that point in the draft.

Philadelphia Eagles

8. Mack Hollins, WR, North Carolina (Round 4, pick No. 118)

Look beyond Hollins’ 4.54-second 40-yard-dash time at the NFL Combine, because he has game speed that plays. He has that long-striding ability to get on cornerbacks quickly, and it showed in his 20.6 yards per reception at North Carolina and 20 touchdowns on only 81 catches. He may never be a high-volume receiver, but Hollins’ speed should make him an immediate deep threat, and when combined with his strong special-teams ability, the Eagles got a valuable player in the fourth round.

Seattle Seahawks

9. Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado (Round 4, pick No. 111)

Thompson won the PFF College Coverage Player of the Year award after picking off seven passes and breaking up seven more. He played both free safety and over the slot at Colorado, showing his center-field skills to read and make plays on the ball and the coverage skills to hold his own in the slot. That versatility will be coveted in the Seattle secondary, where Thompson can cross-train and provide valuable at multiple spots. He may have to wait his turn to see the field in Seattle, but Thompson would have started for a number of teams if he landed in a different place.

Dallas Cowboys

10. Xavier Woods, S, Louisiana Tech (Round 6, pick No. 191)

Another free safety/slot prospect, Woods showed great ball skills in both roles at Louisiana Tech, finishing with 14 interceptions and 10 pass breakups on 127 targets over the last three years. Woods’ 85.0 PFF coverage grade ranked 16th among safeties last season, and he adds a movable piece to the Dallas secondary that received an impressive overhaul in the draft. We expected Woods to come off the board much earlier than the sixth round, so expect him to compete for immediate playing time for the Cowboys.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • Indian-Homie

    Wow! 49ers in every list lately (solid Draft Grade of A or A-) signing good UDFA, and solid mid-round picks. I’m lovin the Shannahan/Lynch era.

    • chango666

      lol, and they’ll still finish at the bottom of the heap in the NFC West . . .

      • JimmyCrackCorn

        The Rams will give them a run for that title!

        • Andre Taylor

          No sir they will not, unless Jared Goff shows that he was worthy of being the number one overall pick in last year’s draft.

      • PacificEaglePhan

        lol @ chango666. Seriously though, they had a million picks and stole even more from the Bears. Hard to go wrong.

    • A random Lions fan.

      Don’t forget C.J. Beatherd. 😉

      • Tim Edell

        I was stunned Beathard went in the 3rd round.. he reminds me of a Matt Barkley/ TJ Yates type Qb

        • Andre Taylor

          Yes that is true

        • Andre Taylor

          Beathard was drafted to be a solid back-up, the 49er’s made a good decision not to reach for any of the so-called top QB’s in this draft. Choosing to focus on building the overall talent back up, and looking to get either Kirk Cousins next year or one of the 2018 QB’s as their franchise QB.

    • Andre Taylor

      Indian-Homie even as a Raven fan, there is no way to ignore what rookie GM John Lynch and HC Kyle Shanahan did in this years draft. By next year, the 49er’s will be a bon-a-fide contender.

      • Indian-Homie

        Thanks homie. I’m still mad bout that Harbaugh Bowl, WE WERE SO CLOSE haha. Good game tho

  • Luiz Pelusi

    What about Carl Lawson? Was a top 20 on your mocks…

    • Andre Taylor

      Luiz even as a Raven fan, you have to respect the value the Bengals got in this years draft. Like its freaking crazy, WR John Ross in the 1st round, although there will be some backlash for the selection of RB Joe Mixon. It doesn’t take away from the fact that he was the best all around RB in this class, to get him in the 2nd round was a steal. Jordan Willis will end up starting day 1, he has the size, skillset, length and strength to be a double digit sack artist his rookie year. With Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins proven pass rushers, teams will not be able to cheat to one side. Dunlap will slide inside next to Atkins on 3rd down, and mid-round steal Carl Lawson will be opposite Willis. The Bengals will be able to apply lots of pressure with just their front 4, which will benefit both the LB’s, the secondary and their offense. The only real issue that i have with Cincinnati’s draft, was them not addressing the O-line.

      • doug brown

        Im a die-hard Browns fan of 30+ years & love what they did in the draft but have to admit that the Bengals had a great draft as well & got some serious value in the middle rounds. You could argue that they landed four 1st round talents in Ross, Mixon, Willis & Lawson! Plus, I think Malone & Glasgow are probably mid to late day 2 talent most drafts.
        The niners draft was excellent so long as Foster’s shoulder doesnt end up a chronic issue.
        I hope that isnt the case as Id love to see him on the field this season at full strength. If healthy, he will be a studd in very short order! Also, dont overlook the Ravens draft. Williams & Wormley could be big time mid-round picks for Ozzie. I liked what Dallas & Indy did to solidify their secondaries & what the Chargers did to help Rivers in LA.
        New Orleans may have quietly improved more than any team by strengthening their defensive backfield with Lattimore & Marcus Williams, the middle with Anzalone & the edge with Hendickson. They also helped Brees by taking Ramczyk & Kamara. Talk about good mid round steals, Hendrickson was listed but how about Kamara & Anzalone all in the 3rd! IMO the Bears, Bills, Rams, & Falcons were probably the weakest drafts from top to bottom although I thought even those teams had a pick or two that I liked, i.e. Eddie Jackson in the 4th was a good value pick for Bears.

        • Andre Taylor

          Well as a diehard Raven fan, i liked every pick that Ozzie made except DL Chris Wormley. After getting CB Marlon Humphreys in the 1st round and OLB Tyus Bowser in the 2nd round, the Ravens had 2 picks in the third. After investing 5 draft picks and getting 2 undrafted free agent starters for our D-line. Even after trading DL Timmy Jernigan, we didn’t have a pressing need there. However right there in reach was WR JuJu Smith-Schuster with our 1st pick in the third round. We could have drafted him, and still got OLB Tim Williams, along with the 2 O-linemen we drafted in the 4th and 5th round. JuJu Smith- Schuster is a Anquan Boldin clone, giving Joe Flacco a young, #1, alpha WR to move the chains. Wormley was not as pressing of a need to the D-line as Smith-Schuster would have been to our WR unit. Allow Breshad Perriman to play the slot, and Mike Wallace to man the other outside WR position. Unless Ozzie knows that Josh Gordon will be reinstated and will sign with Baltimore, there is no excuse not to have drafted at least 1 WR. I agree your Browns had a hell of a draft, and as i said so did the Bengals. Now where i dont agree is the Saints, outside of ILB Alex Anazlone and DE Trey Hendrickson, also if CB Marshon Lattimore is healthy. The rest of their draft made little sense, to be honest Lattimore and Anazlone are major injury risk, as was the LT they drafted out of Wisconsin. Then after already having RB Mark Ingram as the starter, they sign future HOF’er Adrian Peterson. Did not have an issue with that, mainly because it gives you depth and power at the RB position. But to trade a young WR, who has given you over a thousand yards receiving both years he has been in the NFL for the 32nd pick in the draft, lying to your fans that you wanted to improve your defense. Then using excellent draft capital to pick an injury risk LT, and a RB they didn’t need makes no sense. The Saints, the Bears, the Rams, all had low level drafts. I also dont agree with you on the Falcons, to me they had already filled their needs in free agency. Then addressed the rest in the draft, barring any major injuries, or unforseen turn of events. The Falcons will be one of the top 3 teams in the NFC.

          • doug brown

            Yeah I wasnt taking into account the Saints trading Cook then replacing him with a 1yr (major program) starter at LT with hip injury. I think Kamara is a good fit for Brees as a change of pace but they are a little thick at RB especially for a d-starved team.
            I dont like Falcons draft though at all outside of McKinnley. But they will def be a top team again with that offense & young d. So its true they didnt have a lot of holes to fill as the WCSB Champs…. or Woulda Coulda Shoulda Been Champs.
            I also agree that Smith Schuster woulda been a great fit in Baltimore. I was watching him hard as a Brown fan too. Sucks Pittsburgh snagged him! >:(

          • Andre Taylor

            I actually liked what the Falcons did, Takkarist McKinley is a relentless, high motor pass rusher who actually playes the run very well. With NFL coaching and strength and conditioning program, Mckinley will only get, bigger, faster and stronger. Plus having DE/OLB Vic Beasley drawing double teams and most of the attention from him, he should be able to contribute 6 to 8 sacks year one. I think CB/NB Damontae Kazee is an underrated pick up, although he is a bit undersized, his instincts and nose for the football will translate well to the NFL. RB Brian Hill gives them Quality depth behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. At 6ft 1, 220lbs, at the very least he will contribute in the red-zone. Also adding LB Duke Riley to the LBing corps, will only make give them 3 of the most athletic, and fast LB’s in the NFL. At 6ft 1, 235lbs, with 4.56 speed, along side MLB Deion Jones, and SLB De’Voudre Campbell who both had excellent rookie seasons will not only give them more speed and depth, but allow Beasley to play the elephant position full-time. Lastly some may see OG Sean Harlow as a reach, however i disagree. I think will end up as the starting RG from day one, Harlow has 37 college starts under his belt, also versatile with the ability to play RG or RT. Good size and length, with good core strength. As for the Saints, Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis should both be fired. Giving up Cooks was a joke, you simply do not give away young, productive WR’s, with 4.35 speed still on their rookie deal. Then wasting premium picks on an inexperienced, injured LT that you did not need especially in the top 3 rounds is just shameful, on top of drafting a RB that you didn’t need, even for depth when you have major needs on defense. With the draft being so deep at the position, they could have drafted a 3rd down, change of pace RB in the 5th, 6th or even 7th round, there were plenty to choose from. The Saints will be last in the division, and struggle to reach 500. Future HOFer Drew Brees, deserve better.

          • doug brown

            Yeah I do like Kazee a lot myself. Thought he was overlooked in such a deep CB class. The one complaint i had with Browns draft is I thought they shouldve taken a couple CBs. Especially now that Wilson is injured. But I thought signing Channing Stribling as an UDFA was a good move.
            Honestly, this draft was so deep its hard to find a teams who didnt get something out of it. The more i think about the Falcons draft, the better it looks. You’ve swayed me a bit haha. Im still ok with the players the Saints got except for the Ramczyk for Cooks trade. I love Lattimore if he can stay away from the hammy issues & I think Marcus Williams was the best Free Safety in draft this side of Malik Hooker. Saints had one of/or the worst passing defenses in NFL & they will be a big part of improving that. Trey Hendrickson had some great combine & SPARQ #s. He could be an immediate impact player.
            I do agree they shouldve waited for a COP RB, but he was likely the BPA on their board & as a Browns fan, I hate drafting for need. Ive seen it fail way too much in Cleveland. Although there were plenty of great players available at that point in this draft. The NFC South is always a crap shoot but I think Atlanta takes it with TB on their tail as a WC. Carolina & NO are hard to figure for me. Still interested how the Panthers use Mcaffrey & Samual with Stewart…and Cam.

          • Andre Taylor

            Carolina’s draft made a ton of sense actually, McCaffrey and Samuel are both versatile and can play multiple positions. Actually Stewart, McCaffrey and Samuel can all be on the field at the same time. The Panther’s were stuck with 2, big, possession type WR in Benjamin and Funnchess, TE Greg Olsen and not much else. Especially after losing Ted Ginn to the Saints, by adding McCaffrey and Samuel’s they are able to disguise what they are doing on offense. With the ability to move both all over the formation, as a former D1 College DE/OLB i would be worrying if faced with dealing with those 2, because of their , versatility, and speed. As fair as the Saints, there is nothing wrong with drafting BPA, however if you ask most GM’s they will say its within reason. There were to many different options at positions of need when they selected LT Ramczyk and Kamara, then add in the Cooks trade. The whole thing was just backwards, their offense was fine with WR’s Cooks, Thomas and Sneed, RB’s Ingram and Peterson, and TE Coby Fleener. Drew Brees would have had a full allotment of talent on the offensive side of the ball. Why mess it up, bringing in older Ted Ginn when they had Cooks. Had Payton and Loomis left the offense alone, they could have used free agency and the draft to rebuild their defense. There is only one ego in the NFL bigger than Sean Payton and thats Bill Belichick. Although i liked what the Falcons and Carolina did it the draft and free agency, neither did as well as Tampa Bay. Adding WR Deshawn Jackson, who has game breaking speed. Then drafting the best TE prospect in the draft, along with TE Cameron Brate. Along with rookie WR Chris Godwin, and rookie RB Jeremy Mcnichols. Then adding DT/DE Chris Baker, resigning DT/DE Will Gholston, and S Chris Conte. Then signing free agent SS J.J. Wilcox, signing FS Justin Evans. With MLB Kendell Bechwith to add some thumper and better run defense. So yeah the Saints will be at the bottom of the division.

          • doug brown

            Oh I didnt mean Carolinas draft was hard to figure, I meant that NO & Carolina are kinda hard to figure out as far as how good they will be from season to season. Seems like they run hot/cold other than Carolina in 2015. I loved them doubling down on McCaffrey & Samuel, another guy who I think flew a little under the radar in such a deep class. I think they add a completely new & pretty unique element to Carolinas offense which they are sorely lacking. That being the element of surprise. I guess I shoulda said i am “anxious” to see what they will do. Sorry for the confusion. And TB will cause a lot of d coordinators some long nights in the next few years. I can see Jamis & co. really flourishing with the the weapons he has now. I dont doubt at all the Saints will be at the bottom, I just think its so hard to make that call prior to OTAs. On paper they certainly appear to be the weak link but i still think they are good enough to compete within the divisional games. And you never know when major cog on a team is going down with injury which can change everything… unless your the Patriots of course smh. Time will tell my man.

          • Andre Taylor

            Oh ok, its cool. I think Carolina misjudged somethings after an impressive 2015 season, although i think CB Josh Norman is a bit overrated. They missed his ability on the defensive side of the ball, and went way too young at the CB position. I think GM Dave Gettleman learned his lesson, so they brought back future HOF DE Julius Peppers, NB Captain Munnerlyn. Then resigned veteran DE Charles Johnson, DE Wes Horton, and DE Mario Addison, Peppers and Johnson will provide the veteran leadership needed to compete for a championship. Its great to have young, productive talent, however you also need that mixture of youth and veteran leadership, guys who have been through and in big game situations. Yet still getting a good prospect like DE Daeshon Hall, who can learn behind Peppers and Johnson while catching up to the speed of the NFL game. 2nd year CB James Bradberry had a solid rookie season, and will only get better. Along with Daryl Worley, the secondary will be alot better, especially with more consistent pressure from the front 4. One of the most interesting moves of the off-season was adding LT Matt Kalil, since a impressive rookie season, Kalil has battled injuries and inconsistencies. I think reuniting with his brother, pro-bowl, C Ryan Kalil will make a hugh difference. Finally healthy, while playing with his brother, Matt should rebound and give the Panthers the best LT play since Jordan Gross retired. The interior of the line is set with LG Andrew Norwell, C Ryan Kalil, and RG Trai Turner, with the RT position going to the winner of rookie T/G Taylor Morton or Daryl Williams. With the loser providng depth, along with veteran OT Michael Oher becoming the swing tackle. WR’s Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess being healthy, with Philly Brown, and both rookies McCaffrey and rookies will make a big difference in how QB Cam Newton and the offense runs. I do think the NFC South will be very competitive, with Carolina, Atlanta and Tampa Bay all have the talent to win the division. With the Saints coming in last place, Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis made sure of that with bad decision after bad decision in the off-season and draft.

  • chango666

    Lol, no hate brother, just the facts . . . :-)

    • Andre Taylor

      Im not a 49er’s fan, so im not speaking from a homers prospective. However based upon what San Francisco did in free agency, with new GM John Lynch suckering the Bears into giving up multiple picks to move up one spot to reach for Mitch Tribisky. The 49er’s are well on their way to where they were during the Jim Harbaugh era, Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster alone will change the defense overnight

  • crosseyedlemon

    A healthy Jake Butt – TE Michigan (5th round. pick No. 145) will provide the Broncos with a good chain moving option.

  • Keith R Mathews

    The draft the 49er’s had impressed me enough to give me hope for a mid-range record this season, and better in the future as more drafts refine the player roster.
    I had my eye on Kittle all along. He is exactly my definition of a 49er tight end.

  • Woof!

    Woof!