Kyle Lauletta, Richmond
The Senior Bowl and combine were huge for Lauletta. He was overshadowed by the bigger prospects at the position in Mobile, but quietly capped an impressive week of practice by taking home MVP honors for the game. Lauletta followed up that performance by clocking 52 MPH throwing from both the right and left side at the NFL combine. I knew he didn’t have great arm strength, but that number matches Mason Rudolph’s time and is also the same as what DeShone Kizer managed last year. In other words, Lauletta meets the minimum benchmark for arm strength so one of his biggest perceived pitfalls is not actually an issue.
Mike White, Western Kentucky
I mentioned Lauletta being the MVP of the Senior Bowl, but that distinction could have just as easily gone to Mike White. He may have been helped by the all-star rules that force vanilla defenses, but he definitely showed that he has capable arm talent. I think White has a floor of a decade-long backup at the pro level with a ceiling as a starter that you can win with as long as the offense around him is good.
Both of these guys have a chance to sneak into Day 2 of the NFL draft. They’re the two most likely prospects I’ve identified as potential future starters so I decided to grab both of them early. I’m fully onboard with the strategy of drafting two quarterbacks in the same draft if you don’t already have a good one.
Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Adams is getting lost in the shuffle this spring because of another impressive class of running backs. I have a 3rd round grade on him, but I’m almost certain he can be acquired with a 4th or 5th round pick. Some attribute his success at Notre Dame to the team’s offensive line (Nelson & McGlinchey), but I think that’s a disservice to the big back. He reminds me of Tyrone Wheatley and I think he’d be half of a great running attack if paired with a lightning back (like Nyheim Hynes) in the NFL.
John Kelly, Tennessee
I think Kelly will play for a while as a quality backup. He has enough size and pass catching ability to start as well. He reminds me of what Mike Davis became last year in Seattle.
Darrel Williams, LSU
I love Darrel Williams. Last year, I staked my reputation on Aaron Jones developing into a starting running back and he accomplished that much sooner than expected. This year, my guy at the position is Darrel Williams. He is a big back who can catch the ball. He was voted team MVP last season and still managed to be productive despite having Derrius Guice ahead of him on the depth chart. Williams may never be a star, but I think he is the classic example of a prospect who will make more noise in the pros than he did in college because it’ll be almost impossible to end up in a situation with runners as talented as Guice and Leonard Fournette in the backfield.
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Ballage is an interesting prospect because he looks like David Johnson at first glance. I don’t think he’s as good of a runner as Johnson. Then again, there were many scouts who didn’t think David Johnson was as good of a runner as David Johnson during his draft year. Realistically, I think Ballage has a little bit of upside, but he has a very safe floor as a dependable third down back who can pass block, catch, and give you a few carries each game with impressive size.
Daniel Marx, Stanford
Marx has flown under the radar, like fullbacks typically do these days, but he was a gigantic asset to that Stanford running game as the lead blocker. He may not even cost a draft pick, but I could see him sticking around in the league for a long time.
We were only allowed to draft 40 total players tro our rosters, but I couldn’t hold back from drafting a full assortment of running backs. I absolutely love this position class and I’m not afraid to claim that it’s comparable to last year’s outstanding rookie group. With my setup, I would use all three of the halfbacks and then Ballage would be the third down back. Obviously, Marx would play fullback and act as the lead blocker.
Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa
Fountain was my first overall pick in this draft because he is my favorite Day 3 player. I’ve not felt this strongly about a Day 3 receiver since Brandon Marshall’s draft year. Fountain was great all week at Shrine Game practice and then put together a dominating performance in the actual contest that was reminiscent of Marshall’s Hula Bowl effort. He will also contribute immediately as a punt returner. I’ll be making a strong case for Fountain to be included in NFL Rough Draft’s final top 100 rankings because I think there’s a chance he is drafted earlier than most are currently projecting.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, South Florida
Valdes-Scantling has been very productive during the past couple seasons at South Florida, but he burst onto the scene at the combine by posting some gaudy workout numbers to go along with his impressive size. Valdes-Scantling reminds me of Chargers receiver, Tyrell Williams.
Antonio Callaway, Florida
Callaway is this year’s Dede Westbrook. He wouldn’t have been eligible for our Day 3 draft if not for some issues with stolen credit cards during his time at Florida. Like Westbrook, his draft forecast will be round 4 to possibly not being drafted at all. However, complicating the matter is the fact that, unlike Westbrook, Callaway didn’t play during his final season. That could push him down a bit further than the fourth round, but it’s difficult to say for sure. The eventual outcomes for Dorial Green-Beckham and USC’s Mike Williams don’t bode well for him in that regard.
Trey Quinn, SMU
There are currently a lot of slot receivers available to be acquired by NFL teams. Eric Decker, Jordan Matthews, and Jeremy Maclin are all free agents and Jermaine Kearse may be joining them soon. In the draft, you have Christian Kirk, Equanimeous St. Brown, DaeSean Hamilton, Keke Coutee, Richie James, Deontay Burnett, and Quinn. This may not be a receiver class that has a lot of high-end potential players, but there is impressive depth that will push some strong talent down to the third day. There’s no reason Trey Quinn can’t step in and contribute right away and he may be available in the 5th round.
Fountain was my first overall pick and my top receiver for the Day 3 draft. He would also return punts for my team. Callaway would slide into the other starting spot with Valdes-Scantling coming in to stretch the field and in the red zone. Trey Quinn is my slot receiver.
Durham Smythe, Notre Dame
Smythe is known more for his blocking ability than as a pass catcher, but Notre Dame wasn’t a great place to showcase receiving ability the past couple years. I thought Smythe looked good catching the ball and running routes during Senior Bowl practice and I think he has a chance to eventually become an inline starter.
Will Dissly, Washington
Dissly may be the best blocking tight end in the class. He will play for a long time as a result.
Chris Herndon, Miami
Herndon is definitely the best receiving option of my group. His draft stock relies heavily upon his medical report. If his knee is healthy, he could sneak into the top 100 picks.
I simply decided to draft tight ends to fill an assortment of different roles. Smythe would be the starter since he has the best combination of receiving and blocking ability. Dissly is obviously the blocking specialist and Herndon is more of a big slot option.
Brett Toth, Left Tackle, Army
Toth parlayed a strong practice week at the Shrine Game into a Senior Bowl invitation and he was impressive in Mobile as well. He would be a slam dunk top 100 selection if not for his military commitment. Someone is going to draft him on Day 3 because he is a potential starting left tackle once his 2 years of service have concluded. The biggest knock on his game is that he needs development as a pass protector, but that’s simply due to inexperience because Army runs the ball so much.
Matt Gono, Left Guard, Wesley
Gono was a starting tackle at Wesley, but he moved inside to guard and was the most dominating player at the NFLPA Bowl. His name isn’t mentioned by most media outlets, but I guarantee the scouting community has taken notice.
Scott Quessenberry, Center, UCLA
I viewed Quessenberry as a safe bet to land somewhere between rounds 4-6 before the combine. However, his 84.6% SPARQ rating was third amongst offensive linemen and the top overall score for an interior player. That may push him back up into consideration for the third round along with Michigan’s Mason Cole and LSU’s Will Clapp.
Colby Gossett, Right Guard, Appalachian State
Gossett is the type of Day 3 selection that is often made by good teams. He will make a roster and contribute as a cheap starting right guard or top backup interior lineman. He proved that he belongs in the NFL after holding his own against top competition at the Senior Bowl.
Will Richardson, Right Tackle, North Carolina State
Richardson has ideal height, bulk, and arm length for a starting offensive tackle. He has some off the field concerns that he’ll need to clear up. If he does that, there’s no reason he should fall out of the top 3 rounds.
Gregory Senat, Swing Tackle, Wagner
Senat is a really interesting developmental prospect who has potential as a starting left tackle. I think he compares favorably to the more heralded Alex Cappa. Both of those guys are probably going to be gameday inactives during their rookie seasons, but Senat actually has significantly longer arms. Give this guy a redshirt year and you could end up with a starting left tackle by the end of his rookie contract.
Timon Parris, Versatile Backup, Stony Brook
Parris is another example of a prospect who could be a late round steal after flying under the radar due to injury. He broke his leg and missed the Senior Bowl and combine as a result. However, he projects as a potential NFL starter at either tackle position or guard.
I slotted player roles into my descriptions for each of the prospects on my offensive line. My takeaway is that there is more starting potential on the line than there usually is on Day 3. I can see Richardson and Gossett coming off the board before that, but those other players are all really interesting developmental talents.
Defensive Line (Base 4-3)
Duke Ejiofor, Edge, Wake Forest
Ejiofor may even find a home in the second round if his recovery from labrum surgery checks out so I was happy to have the opportunity to draft him in our Day 3 draft. He makes a lot of plays in the backfield.
Ade Aruna, Edge, Tulane
Aruna is very raw because he has only played football for the past 6 years after coming to the States from Nigeria. He and John Franklin were the two most impressive defensive linemen at the NFLPA Game and Aruna registered an 85% SPARQ rating at the combine. He doesn’t have the same ceiling as Ziggy Ansah, but he is at least comparable as a prospect. Early in his career, I expect him to be a situational pass rusher.
Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State
Lewis isn’t an outstanding pass rusher, but he has the ability to set the edge as a run defender in the NFL. A base 4-3 team will find a home for him in the bottom half of it’s 8-lineman rotation.
P.J. Hall, 3-Tech, Sam Houston State
Hall is one of the most underrated players in this draft class. The media has talked up Deadrin Senat and Poona Ford for being underrated because of their lack of height. That’s correct, but P.J. Hall belongs in that conversation as well and he may actually be at the top of the list. Don’t be surprised if Hall is selected before the end of the third round. He is a pocket-pusher and was the most dominating defensive player at the Shrine Game.
John Atkins, NT, Georgia
Atkins will occupy blockers as a nose tackle. He fits most defensive schemes, but won’t be called on to make plays in the backfield.
R.J. McIntosh, DE & 3-Tech, Miami
McIntosh is an interesting prospect because he’ll be more valuable toward the end of his rookie deal after developing for a year or two at the start of his career. With that said, nobody is going to be able to sneak this guy through waivers and onto a practice squad. McIntosh is going to have to make it as a 7th or 8th defensive lineman as a rookie, but his position versatility makes him a safe bet to be able to accomplish that in a base 4-3.
I prioritized position versatility because we were only allowed to draft 40 players. Ideally, I would have liked to add another edge rusher, but my squad should be pretty strong against the run with some solid interior push.
Linebacker (Base 4-3)
Fred Warner, WILL, BYU
I actually feel fairly confident Warner will not make it to Day 3 of the NFL draft so I was pretty happy to land him in this draft. He is athletic and can match up against backs and tight ends in the passing game. He looked good, for the most part, at the Senior Bowl despite getting beat on a long touchdown reception by Rashaad Penny in the game.
Dorian O’Daniel, WILL-MIKE, Clemson
O’Daniel is going to be a great weapon to combat opposing offenses as a nickel linebacker. He has the athleticism of a safety. He is fast and registered a 6.64 3-cone time at the combine which showed that he is also quick. I like him as a WILL backer who can play the MIKE position on passing downs.
Frank Ginda, MIKE, San Jose State
Ginda is known for making plays behind the line of scrimmage at San Jose State. For some reason, he seems to be flying under the radar within media circles, but I’d imagine scouts are very well aware of his potential to be a starting MIKE linebacker. I paired him with O’Daniel in my draft because I like Ginda’s ability to fight through blocks on first and second down while O’Daniel is almost like having an extra safety on the field on third down.
Matthew Thomas, SAM, Florida State
Thomas made a lot of noise at the combine where his workout was good enough to land a SPARQ score of 95.4%. He can play all three linebacker positions in a 4-3. Those two facts alone should get him drafted before the end of the fifth round.
I feel really good about my linebacker group. I accumulated a lot of athleticism and potential. I would use Warner, Ginda, and Thomas as my base group of starters with Warner and O’Daniel making up my nickel package.
Dane Cruikshank, CB-FS, Arizona
I really like Cruikshank as a cornerback. He is another player that I personally don’t think will even make it to Day 3. Some teams may view him as a safety and I love the position versatility that he offers, but I like him best as a boundary corner. He was one of the best players during the practice week at the Shrine Game.
Michael Joseph, CB, Dubuque
Joseph was an absolute star at DIII Dubuque and proved it wasn’t a fluke at the Senior Bowl. His biggest issue is that he gets beat deep sometimes, but he timed in the low 4.5s at his pro day so I think he can stay outside at cornerback. I’m interested to see what type of a player Joseph can be with a year or two of coaching.
Darius Phillips, CB-KR, Western Michigan
Phillips is fast and could play nickel or outside. He’ll also be a very good kick returner at the next level.
Jordan Whitehead, SS, Pittsburgh
Whitehead is another versatile safety. I suppose he could be viewed as a free safety by some, but I really like him as a strong safety. He could also fill the big nickel role for an NFL team and match up against tight ends or some of the taller slot receivers in the league.
Tarvarius Moore, FS, Southern Miss
Moore has been a very good player for Southern Miss and his pro day workout last week was off the charts.
Holton Hill, CB, Texas
Hill has Day 2 skills, but he has some off field flags to address. Hill is a big physical press corner with starting potential if he stays committed to the sport and keeps himself out of trouble. I thought he had a chance to go in the first round at this time last year.
With the 40-man roster restriction, I once again valued position versatility. There are so many quality Day 3 cornerbacks in this class and if I had one more pick, I would have added one more.
Michael Dickson, P, Texas
Dickson is going to be in the third round conversation. He has the potential to be a top 5 punter in the NFL.
Griffin Oakes, K, Indiana
Oakes was 2 blocked kicks away from having a perfect 2017 campaign. He doesn’t appear to have a really strong leg as his career long is only 51 yards, but he is very accurate and can handle kickoffs.
Hunter Bradley, LS, Mississippi State
Bradley was at the Shrine Game. He won’t get drafted, but he has been reliable so he may get a shot in an NFL camp.