Draftmas is a gift that keeps on giving, whether you want it to or not. Day three of the draft produces a few players every year that give rise to the popular myth that position X doesn’t need to be taken in the first round because you can find them later. Today’s X’s are pass rushers and linebackers.
Five Day Three Draftmas Gems
Avery Moss, DE Youngstown State
6’3″ and 264 lbs at the combine, Moss is a long and lean flame thrower off the edge. He is a pure speed rusher who would fit in to a sub package role quickly, but will likely take a season in the strength and conditioning program to get up to NFL standards. Young was kicked off Nebraska’s campus, not thrown off the team but actually kicked out of school in 2014, for exposing himself to another student in 2012. That’s why he’s going on day three, if at all. He was productive at the NCAA level before going to Youngstown St. where he was apparently a model player.
Hunter Dimick, DE, Utah
Not invited to the combine, but at the Utah pro day Dimick ran a 4.7 40 yard dash, and put up 38 bench reps which was three more than anyone at the combine this year. He only jumped 28″ up and 9’1″ across, but his 20 yard shuttle and three cone were 4.13 and 7.15 respectively. Those are some excellent timed results for a 6’3″ 269lb defensive end. The shuttle time would have been the best among the DL group at the combine. Dimick also produced for the Utes, with 14.5 sacks to lead the Pac-12 this season.
Josh Carraway, DE TCU
Twitchy and explosive, but also undersized. He chases down backside running plays tenaciously and flashes the ability to hand fight, but generally relies entirely on his athleticism. He is likely a multi-year project, but if he can put on 15 lbs without slowing down, and learn the fundamental basics of defeating blockers with his hands and footwork, Carraway could be a very good pro by his third season.
Jayon Brown, LB, UCLA
Brown has been getting some love lately from draft Twitter, and being projected by some as high as the fourth round. I think he is a better player than Zach Cunningham. Cunningham is more explosive and longer, but Brown is a better football player. He is also an experienced special-teamer, which makes his selection by Bob Quinn on day three a little more likely than some teams. This is one of my late round gems that may slide into the end of day two if there is an early run on linebackers.
Marquel Lee, LB, Wake Forrest
Lee is in the same mold as Antwione Williams as a player. He is an explosive hitter, has great short area quickness and is well built at 6’3″ and 240lbs. Lee has great instincts in coverage, and his initial reaction in running plays is usually right, but he lacks a feel for blocking. He tends to bog down in traffic, and chase plays from behind. He will need to work on that, because his 4.78 speed isn’t catching anyone in the NFL.
Four Mock Drafts
Chad Reuter of NFL.com has mocked Reuben Foster to the Lions, whose recent issues at the combine (getting sent home after failing a drug test) may leave his top ten talent available at pick number 21. Openly sought team target Haason Reddick is Lance Zierline’s choice. His blend of athleticism and inexperience makes him an intriguing target. Daniel Jeremiah has the Lions selecting David Njoku: with Dalvin Cook, Jabrill Peppers, Quincy Wilson, and T.J. Watt still on the board. Bucky Brooks selected Jarrad Davis with Haason Reddick still on the board. he also had Malifonwu, Charlton, and Gareon Conley will available.
Draftmas being a somewhat flexible holiday, I am giving myself a redo on yesterday’s mock drafts, in which I included more than four mock drafts from a single source. Wilson and Dubrin’s tallies will be removed, for the sake of propriety, and added only if I can’t find more suitable choices near the end. That leaves the running total:
- Watt 2
- Charlton 2
- Foster 1
- Reddick 1
- Njoku 1
- Davis 1
Three Draftmas Snack Ideas
Tortillas, once they have been turned in to nachos, are the thing you dip in the salsas I showed you yesterday. Here are three simple tortilla recipes. If you don’t have a tortilla press, (which, like, why would you?) two meaty hardcover college text books wrapped in cling wrap are a solid replacement. In descending order of flavor strength corn>flour>rice. In descending order of moisture retention Wheat>Corn>Rice.
Wheat Flour Tortilla
This is the basic one that uses stuff you very well may already have access to.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup water
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, and stir in the water and oil. Turn the substance on a floured surface. To flour a surface, you literally just sprinkle some flour on it. Knead it 12 times.
- Divide the dough in to eight portions, on a floured surface roll each in to a ball and squish it flat with a press, or those two text books. it should be about 7″ when you’re done. There should be eight of them.
- In a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray cook the tortillas over medium heat for 1 min on each side.
- 2 cups of Masa Harina (a special corn flour for making tortillas that have been treated with calcium hydroxide)
- 1-1/2 cups of water
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Mix the baking soda and flour in a bowl.
- Check the package of Masa Harina to verify the water amount. It does vary a bit with each brand.
- Knead the dough for several minutes. if it seems to be drying out, add a bit of water, if it seems a little too wet, add a bit of Masa.
- Take a plum sized hunk of dough and roll it in to a ball, you should get about 16.
- Press the tortillas
- Cook them on medium heat for about one minute per side
- 1-1/4 cups of rice flower
- 1/2 cup of potato flour
- 1/4 cup of tapioca flour
- 1-1/2 tsp Xanthan gum
- 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp powdered milk
- 1 cup water
- Mix the dry ingredients, and add the water, knead if for a few minutes
- This one makes 8 balls that squish in to 10 inch tortillas.
- Heat a griddle to a medium hot and cook for about 1 minute per side.
Now you’ve got tortillas, but they’re not nachos you can effectively dip. If you’ve got a deep fryer, that’s an easy problem to fix. Cut them up and fry those things. If you do not have a deep fryer, a heavily oiled pan set on high will suffice. Fry the chips for a short period on each side. Re-oil the pan between tortillas, and do a test wedge before you lay a bunch out to get the timing right for your range. If you’d rather just make tacos, you are good to go. Merry draftmas, and happy snacking.
Two First Round Draftmas Busts
Watson is not an accurate or strong armed passer. It is possible to get by without one of those traits, but can you name a good NFL starting quarterback that doesn’t excel in one of those? Word is that the 49ers might take him, but Watson is not even close to pro ready. However he will still be their best quarterback when Bryan Hoyer gets killed on the field half way through the year. Any other team that might take him will almost assuredly force him in before he is prepared. Unless he happens to get to one of the better teams near the end of round one, he is not going to have receivers that can bail him out. Ardarius Stewart and Mike Williams did that a lot during Watson’s collegiate career.
Trubisky falls in to the category of players that almost never succeed at the quarterback position, those with fewer than 20 games started in college. It is not the lack of experience alone that causes them to fail. The lack of tape exposing their flaws is a problem for evaluators. After 30 games of game tape a player has shown everything he does well, and more importantly everything he doesn’t. Five starts in to his career, NFL teams will start to expose every flaw Trubisky has in a way that college defenses just can’t on a small sample size. The lack of visible flaws makes coaches and scouts overvalue players on a consistent basis. They get drafted too high because there appears to be no downside, and no one wants that kind of coal in their draftmas stocking.
And Another Inconvenient Draftmas Truth
Three years from today, the difference between a fifth round draft pick and a seventh round draft pick is a 2.6% chance of remaining on the team’s roster. Using 15 years of draft data Topher Doll researched how many players from what round were retained. Initially a fifth round pick has a 22.8% higher chance of making the 53 man roster to start their rookie season. Seventh round draft picks almost always end up on the practice squad however, and are still with the team, just not playing.
The reason that the beginning of a player’s fourth season is important, is that rookie contracts for day three players are three seasons long. Teams are able to offer them identical restricted free agent tenders for a fourth year. The only reason for the player not to be on the team is that the team does not want them. Over the course of those three seasons, the difference in the percentage of draft picks retained drops. Rounds five, six, and seven are virtually indistinguishable. The quality of the players is indistinguishable by the end of their rookie contracts.