Finding Value in the 4th
When you get to the third day of an NFL draft you’re not necessarily expecting to find stars. It’s what makes it so satisfying when you actually do.
Any player you can find that ends up contributing for your team is a win. Whether they end up your star receiver, a solid special team contributor or a backup guy who does a serviceable job while you rest the starters. Today I’m going to break down the final four rounds of the draft and give you my favorite five picks from each one.
Trey Flowers, ED, New England Patriots
I was stunned when Flowers made it to Day 3. Just what were people watching with him? A powerful edge defender, he’s not going to destroy you with speed but look at the problems he gave La’el Collins? He has the ability to be an every-down defender, kicking inside in nickel and causing havoc there. From a production point of view had the highest grade of all draft eligible-edge defenders in 2014.
T.J. Clemmings, OT, Minnesota Vikings
The injury is obviously a concern, and I don’t think he’s a guy who is close to being ready to handle pass rushers at an NFL level. But there’s a lot to like about Clemmings who had the highest run-blocking grade of any tackle in the 2014. There isn’t a tackle who destroys defenders like him, and he could immediately latch on as a sixth lineman in jumbo packages while he becomes a more comfortable pass protector.
James Sample, S, Jacksonville Jaguars
Sample isn’t flashy but that didn’t stop him picking up the third-highest production grade of all safeties in the 2014 season. Able to support in the run game and with the closing speed to impact receivers on shorter routes, he has a real shot at earning a starting spot early in his career. 12 combined pass break-ups and picks were second in the country to teammate Gerord Holliman.
Jake Ryan, LB, Green Bay Packers
Filling a need in the fourth? I like that very much. The Packers have such a deluge of safeties that you can count of a nickel defense that will offer some protection to Ryan in the passing game, but as an early-down impact defender he has a chance to start. Had the fourth-highest run defense grade of all linebackers.
DeAndre Smelter, WR, San Francisco 49ers
His ACL injury complicates thing but Smelter is victim of an offense that didn’t throw the ball a lot so didn’t produce a host of yards. His production numbers though were pretty spectacular. His 4.36 yards per route run were tops in the nation. Also a vicious run blocker for the position.
I think he ends up at guard long-term, but Daryl Williams has a real chance to start for the Panthers given their options at tackle … I don’t think he’ll be an every-down player, but the Ravens may have found a replacement for Pernell McPhee in Za’Darius Smith who had the seventh-best grade rushing the passer of interior defenders then kicked some backside at the Shrine Game … Atlanta lost Harry Douglas and replaced him with Justin Hardy who was the third most productive slot receiver in the FBS last year.
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