Although Day 3 of the NFL Draft doesn’t feature the big names that the first and second nights have, future starters often are found in the later rounds. We may not know which players will pan out for a few years, but let’s take a crack at determining who won and lost on Saturday.
A handful of teams got absolute steals in the fourth and fifth rounds, while other players currently on rosters should be concerned about their job status.
Loser: Eric Decker
The Jets parted ways with a number of pricey veterans this offseason, and Decker could be the next to go. After drafting ArDarius Stewart in the third round, the Jets took Chad Hansen out of Cal, another wide receiver who has good size. He's a potential replacement for Decker, who’s recovering from offseason surgery and will cost the Jets $8.75 million against the cap in 2017. If they cut him, they’ll save $5.75 million, so the move is certainly feasible. His status with the team doesn’t look great after the last two days of drafting.
Decker's job could ultimately be safe, though, after news broke that Devin Smith tore his ACL and is out for the season. Still, the Jets' drafting this weekend indicates Decker may not be safe.
Winner: Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals got one of the best pass rushers in the draft at the top of the fourth round, landing Carl Lawson of Auburn with the 116th pick. If not for injury concerns, Lawson probably would have been a second-round pick, possibly sneaking into the first round.
He fits perfectly in Cincinnati’s 4-3 front and will play valuable snaps as a rookie, even if just as a situational pass rusher. The Bengals got a steal as long as he can stay healthy.
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Winner: Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys had one of the best drafts, locking that up on Saturday in the final rounds. The steal of the entire class could prove to be safety Xavier Woods, whom the Cowboys scooped up in the sixth round (191 overall). He was one of their 30 pre-draft visits, so to get him in the second-to-last round was remarkable. They also added Ryan Switzer, the best route-runner in the draft and a dynamic punt returner. Marquez White is a raw corner, but in Rod Marinelli’s system, he fits extremely well and could develop into a future starter. Dallas did well on Day 3.
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Loser: College bowl games
Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey may have started a trend with top prospects skipping bowl games. Jake Butt’s free fall on Saturday didn’t do the NCAA any favors, either. The Michigan tight end tore an ACL in the Orange Bowl, ending any chance he had at going in the first round. He wound up falling to the fifth round where he was scooped up by the Broncos, costing himself millions of dollars for the next four years.
Players probably will be more willing to sit out bowl games after seeing how it impacted Butt this year. The same happened to Jaylon Smith last year, and his injury was more severe. This isn’t a good trend developing for the NCAA.
Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars had only two picks before the seventh round on Saturday, but they used them wisely. They landed Oklahoma's Dede Westbrook, a shifty receiver with character concerns -- which absolutely shouldn't be overlooked -- and a big hitter in Ohio linebacker Blair Brown. Both players will play valuable snaps as rookies despite being somewhat of luxury picks at positions that weren’t exactly needs. The Jaguars came away with a good haul as a whole in the draft.
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Winner: Denver Broncos
The Broncos snatched up the free-falling Butt in the fifth round, landing a future Pro Bowler at tight end. Of course, the reason Butt slipped in the draft was because of his torn ACL, likely landing him on the PUP list, if not injured reserve to start the season. However, reports suggest he could be ready to go in September, which would be an incredibly quick turnaround for a player coming off a significant knee injury.
The Broncos also added Georgia's Isaiah McKenzie, who’s a shifty receiver and a dynamic return man – an area that Denver struggled in last season.
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Loser: Tyrod Taylor and Cardale Jones
The Bills aren’t committed to Taylor long-term, which is part of the reason they drafted Pitt QB Nathan Peterman in the fifth round. Peterman compares to Andy Dalton and is as pro-ready as many of the QBs in this class, and could put some pressure on Taylor -– especially with a new coaching staff.
Peterman will push Jones for the backup job and next year, when the Bills have a financial decision to make on Taylor, they could turn the keys over to Peterman, depending on how he’s developed. This isn’t a great sign for Taylor’s future.
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Loser: Pick announcements
Whether it was the Texans’ cheesy announcement from the International Space Station or an orangutan sharing the Colts’ selections, many of the announcements were, well, weird. I get that the NFL is trying to have fun with it, but after a while, it just gets old. Mike Mayock was visibly annoyed with a monkey getting as much television coverage as it was, as were the rest of us.
At least it wasn’t as bad as Tony Richardson spelling Jets “J-E-T-E” on Friday night.
Winner: Michigan Wolverines
The Wolverines dominated, but they were particularly prominent on Saturday. A total of five Wolverines were taken on Day 3, giving Michigan 11 total – the most of any school in the country.
The players taken on Saturday, in order, were Ben Gedeon, Ryan Glasgow, Jehu Chesson, Butt and Jeremy Clark. The five Wolverines taken on the third day was more than many schools had altogether, including powerhouses like Georgia, Texas, Oregon and Nebraska. That’s quite the feat for Michigan.
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