It is almost a week out from the draft, the dust has settled and players are nestling into their new homes. The first round has gotten all the buzz, both positive and negative. But teams are made and broken with their deep cuts. With that in mind, here are five selections on both day two and day three that, on paper, seem like perfect fits.
Indianapolis Colts – CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple
Chris Ballard has emphasized length, physicality and character with his defensive draft picks, and Ya-Sin fits all of those traits to a T. He is a willing tackler, but more importantly, Ya-Sin loves to engage at the line of scrimmage. He should be a day one starter in Indy.
New Orleans Saints – C Erik McCoy, Texas A&M
Max Unger’s retirement kind of came out of nowhere, and left a gaping hole in the middle of the New Orleans line. Thankfully, they were able to fill that hole pretty quickly in the second round with McCoy. He is a big, meaty center who loves to block on the move, which should blend well into Minnesota’s run-heavy system.
Minnesota Vikings – TE Irv Smith Jr., Alabama
If the Vikings brass say they expected Smith to be there with the 50th pick, they are lying. Smith was a fringe first round prospect who fell into Minnesota’s lap. With him, they add a downfield dimension they have rarely had from the tight end position. Plus, Smith figures to be a benefit in the run game, though he may require adjustment time as an in-line blocker.
Tennessee Titans – WR A.J. Brown, Mississippi
Tennessee has not had a 1,000-yard wide receiver since Kendall Wright in 2013. And while Brown may not be that in his first year, he has the separation ability to be a dangerous, productive weapon out of the slot. At the very least, he can draw attention on the same side of the field as Corey Davis and give Marcus Mariota more space to work with.
New England Patriots – Edge Chase Winovich, Michigan
Frankly, it seems like a miscarriage of justice that the defending champs were able to land Winovich in the third round. He is the quintessential Patriots defender: good, not great athleticism, undying motor and has multiple plans as a pass rusher. If anyone can harness Winovich’s aggressive style into a more complete player, Bill Belichick can.
Arizona Cardinals – WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa State
The Cardinals are building a team around Kliff Kingsbury’s idea of what works. Now, whether or not that results in wins is to be seen. But the pieces are coming into place, to be sure. Butler as a fourth rounder is excellent value for a high ceiling player, and he should play well off the smaller, quicker receivers Arizona has. With Butler on the outside and Andy Isabella and Christian Kirk working around him, Arizona could have a myriad of young options in play already for Kyler Murray.
Oakland Raiders – CB Isaiah Johnson, Houston
It is fair to be critical of what the Raiders did in round one. But outside of that, Mike Mayock had a really strong draft, particularly in rounds four and five. Johnson was a pick that particularly stood out, given the Raiders’ need in the secondary and Johnson’s unmatched physical attributes. He has a lot of work to do technique-wise, but he is a former receiver and still new to the position. Given time, Johnson has upper-echelon upside.
Los Angeles Rams – DT Greg Gaines, Washington
Los Angeles has built a defensive line full of hyper-quick disruptors, but they have not gotten a space-filler inside. Michael Brockers was supposed to be that. However, his role has shifted outside a bit, as has Aaron Donald’s. If nothing else, a meaty nose like Gaines in the rotation can draw bodies away from Donald, and let him dominate with his explosion. That is good value in round four.
Denver Broncos – LB Justin Hollins, Oregon
Above all, Denver has found long, athletic, impactful pass rushers through the draft the past few years. From Shaq Barrett to Shane Ray to the stars in Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, the Broncos love to stockpile that type of player. Hollins fits will in that mold. He is raw and plays with much more finesse than power, but Hollins’ explosive athleticism is impossible to teach. Plus, he has experience all around the field and can step off-ball if need be.
Baltimore Ravens – DT Daylon Mack, Texas A&M
With Baltimore’s developing defensive line, they can afford to take fliers on upside projects in the mid rounds. Mack was a former top recruit who never lived up to his billing at Texas A&M. That is, until his breakout senior season. While short and squatty, Mack is explosive and disruptive when he brings his hands consistently. It may have taken him a while to figure out his game, but if he is coming around, he could be a factor in the Ravens’ rotation early on.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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