Oct 1, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back Clinton Lynch (22) is brought down by Miami Hurricanes defensive back Corn Elder (29) during the second quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
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The 2017 NFL Draft winds down with Rounds 4-7 on Day 3, but which player should each team be targeting on Saturday?
Day 3 of the 2017 NFL Draft has arrived. Starting with the fourth round and going all the way through Round 7 and the 253rd pick, it’s going to be a long day.
Though the perception is that the NFL Draft is over after the first three rounds, there are still players left on the board that could have a Day 1 impact. Moreover, there are players that could have a long-term impact. After all, some guy named Dak Prescott was taken on Day 3 a year ago.
So who should each team target on Day 3, just one player of the many left? Let’s take a look.
Buffalo Bills: Connor Harris, LB – Lindenwood
With the loss of Zach Brown in free agency, the Bills need to make a run at trying to deepen their linebacker corps. Harris certainly isn’t a player on the mainstream radar, which tends to happen when you play at Lindenwood. However, he’s a undersized leader and a tackle-grabbing machine. Though it might be a shocking pick when it happens, he’ll be a project with tremendous upside and the work ethic to succeed. With no picks until the fifth round, he should be on Buffalo’s radar.
Miami Dolphins: Isaac Asiata, OG – Utah
The selection of Charles Harris still looks a bit curious in the first round, even if they got Raekwon McMillan in the second round. Not taking Reuben Foster in Round 1 effectively pushed other needs back to later rounds. Now they don’t pick until the fifth round and need a guard they can hopefully plug in immediately as Laremy Tunsil moves to tackle. Asiata has the size to be effective in the role, even if he needs a bit of work with his footwork.
New England Patriots: Howard Wilson, CB – Houston
Go figure, but the immediate needs of the Patriots aren’t exactly dire. Hence why they used their second third-round pick to take an offensive lineman that won’t see the field until 2018 barring injury. This pick has the same thing in mind. Though Malcolm Butler is back for the 2017 season, chances are that the stingy Pats aren’t going to pay him the money he wants. Thus, they need a project like Howard Wilson with nice physical tools, but a need to develop while he waits his turn.
New York Jets: Nathan Peterman, QB – Pittsburgh
Frankly, you could say just about any position on the field and it’d be a need for the Jets. However, there’s no way that they can feel confident in what they have at quarterback with Christian Hackenberg, Bryce Petty and Josh McCown. Peterman is an underrated prospect in this class and could compete just as well as any of the trio already in place. They’ll have to hope he gets to them in Round 4, but they should have his name highlighted.
Sep 10, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Eddie Jackson (4) prepares to hit Western Kentucky Hilltoppers tight end Stevie Donatell (87) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Cowboys: Eddie Jackson, SS – Alabama
The Cowboys doubled down on cornerback on Day 2 of the draft, a decision that no one can fault them for. When you go from having Nolan Carroll, Anthony Brown and Orlando Scandrick starting and improve that unit to be Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis, you’re doing well. With that said, they need to account for the loss of Barry Church at strong safety as well. Jackson is a playmaker with the potential to do that, but will also help decrease Lucky Whitehead’s role on special teams.
Any reasoning behind the Davis Webb pick for the Giants is easy to see. As for Evan Engram and Dalvin Tomlinson, they were both massive reaches for secondary needs on this team. The most pressing need remains an upgrade at tackle. Though the elite players aren’t in the fold any longer, they can add a starter in Adam Bisnowaty from Pitt that should still be an upgrade to help keep aging Eli Manning from getting demolished.
Philadelphia Eagles: Marlon Mack, RB – South Florida
I would’ve thought that Marlon Mack would be off the board already given what I saw from him on tape. Even so, the Eagles are in need of upgrading at running back and have yet to do so. Mack is an all-purpose back with the ability to run between the tackles, but also with solid hands as a pass-catcher. If he’s still there early in the fourth round, he’ll have to be a serious consideration for Philly.
Washington Redskins: Jeremy McNichols, RB – Boise State
Much like with Mack, a team taking McNichols well before now wouldn’t have been crazy. Yet the Redskins are still in need of a reliable player in their backfield. McNichols will, at the very least, offer diversity to Robert Kelley, but his body of work in college suggests he has the potential to take the spot all to himself sooner rather than later.
Can Joe Flacco get someone to catch a pass? Just any kind of weapon will do. As of right now, he’s throwing to Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman. Between being one-dimensional and not being able to get on the field, respectively, that’s a frightening receiving corps moving forward. Thus, getting the Ravens away from their defense and adding a big body on the outside with great hands in Hansen would be in the best interest of an offense that was downright bad a year ago.
Cincinnati Bengals: Caleb Brantley, DL – Florida
Brantley is a second-round pick that’s slipping due to red flags regarding accusations that he got into a physical altercation with a woman. However, reports about the incident seem to indicate these claims might be erroneous. Even so, the Bengals already took the biggest PR hit they could by taking Joe Mixon in the second round. They need talent on the interior of their defensive line. On the field, getting Brantley in the fourth round is a steal.
Cleveland Browns: Jeremy Clark, CB – Michigan
It’s hard not to love how the Browns have handled their draft to this point. With that being said, they still have a long way to go and plenty of holes left to plug. One important area they have to address is the cornerback group that currently features Joe Haden and horror stories. Jeremy Clark is a massive corner at 6-3, 220 pounds, but he also has potential coming off of an injury in his final college season. The size and upside are going to be hard for a needy team like Cleveland to let pass by.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Chad Kelly, QB – Ole Miss
Disregarding the fact that Chad Kelly is an enigma (not used affectionately) off the field, Kelly has a tremendous skill set as a quarterback. He has a nice arm and surprising athleticism. Clearly there is refinement needed in his decision making and so on. However, we saw the Giants get their quarterback of the future and the Steelers need to look to do the same. If there’s one player that could mimic the skills of Kelly best, it’s Ben Roethlisberger.
Oct 3, 2015; Madison, WI, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson (67) during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Iowa won 10-6. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears: Desmond King, CB/S – Iowa
After a trade in the second round, the Bears were able to get a little bit more capital to work with in this draft. Even still, they have to get players that can get on the field in the 2017 season, something they haven’t done yet. Thus, they need someone like Desmond King, a versatile player capable of filling multiple roles in the secondary in addition to being able to return kicks.
Detroit Lions: Jaleel Johnson, DL – Iowa
What the Lions have done in the 2017 NFL Draft to this point has been impressive, though they probably reached on Kenny Golladay. Even so, they still have work and their focus should be on the interior of their defensive line. Lucky for them, there’s tremendous value still left on the board at the position. As such, they need to nab an underrated player like Jaleel Johnson that can get after the passer and is a relentless worker in the trenches.
Green Bay Packers: Brian Hill, RB – Wyoming
The Packers can’t go into the season with Ty Montgomery being the sole option at running back. He’s effective, but not cut out for that workload. Thus, going after a bigger running back in the later rounds would make sense. Hill is certainly a load at 6-1, 219 pounds and would provide a nice complement to Montgomery, especially if he can find the same success he did in Wyoming.
Minnesota Vikings: Jarron Jones, DL – Notre Dame
With all of the injury concerns along the defensive front of the Vikings, they need depth and versatility that can fill in. They could potentially wait a bit to take Jarron Jones, but he’s a player that would fit the need and be great value. He has Day 2 talent, but the effort isn’t always there for him it seems. Mike Zimmer can help draw that out of him and make him a stud.
Mar 2, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; San Diego State offensive lineman Nico Siragusa speaks to the media during the 2017 combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Texans: Nico Siragusa, OG – San Diego State
After making a splash to trade up for Deshaun Watson, the Texans have still done a nice job to get player in positions of need that should contribute right away. They should do that again in the interest of helping two incoming rookies in Watson and running back D’Onta Foreman. Nico Siragusa has the chops to slot in at guard right away. That would be ideal if he’s there for them as they need an upgrade on the interior.
Indianapolis Colts: Any Offensive Guard Or Tackle
Protect Andrew Luck. Please, please protect Andrew Luck. The defense has improved a great deal in this draft, but the quarterback is the team’s greatest asset. It’s time to invest in keeping him healthy beyond just Ryan Kelly.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Dorian Johnson, OG – Pittsburgh
Taking Cam Robinson in the second round was exactly what the Jaguars should be doing, giving Leonard Fournette a road-grading tackle and a player with upside to keep Blake Bortles upright. They need more than one upgrade on their line, though, and could make it early in the fourth. Johnson is the best guard on the board by a wide margin, a second-round player to many. He’d be great value and help the offense further.
I’ve championed teams to take Jalen Reeves-Maybin throughout the draft process. Injuries have killed his draft stock to laughable degrees. However, he’s healthy and has tremendous versatility at linebacker, able to do anything you ask of him with effectiveness. The Titans could use that playmaker in the middle of the defense and could see him fall to them in the fifth round.
Sep 3, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators offensive lineman David Sharpe (78) and Massachusetts Minutemen defensive lineman Sha-Ki Holines (95) battle at the line of scrimmage during the second half of a football game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The Gators won 24-7. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons: David Sharpe, OG/OT – Florida
Sharpe played tackle in college, but projects to possibly play guard if necessary at the necessary. He has exceptional size and moves well for the position. Obviously the offense isn’t the first thing you think about needing to be improved when it comes to the Falcons. However, they could stand to see an upgrade in the trenches to pave the way for their talented running back duo.
Carolina Panthers: Jake Butt, TE – Michigan
The Panthers don’t need a tight end right now as Greg Olsen is still trucking along and making defenders look silly in the process. With that being said, Olsen isn’t a young player and Carolina does need to look for his replacement. Butt would’ve been a high Day 2 pick if not for tearing his ACL in the Orange Bowl. He’ll have time to recover behind Olsen, though, and will be a major asset.
New Orleans Saints: Davon Godchaux, DL – LSU
There’s a good chance that Godchaux is off the board when the Saints make their final pick of the draft in the sixth round. With that being said, they’d be wise to address the interior of the line with that pick and add depth, which Godchaux would do while adding upside.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carlos Watkins, DL – Clemson
Watkins’ draft stock fell after the Combine and his pro day when he didn’t test particularly well. You know what he does do well, though? Make plays in the trenches on the defensive line. That’s a big need for the Buccaneers moving forward and Watkins could potentially play right away if necessary, but should have time to grow and play just situationally right away.
Nov 5, 2016; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats linebacker Elijah Lee (9) celebrates a fumble recovery during a game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. The Cowboys won the game, 43-37. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos: Elijah Lee, LB – Kansas State
The Broncos already addressed their defensive line, but now they need to make sure that the guys immediately behind them are set and solid. Elijah Lee is the hard-nosed tackler that seems made for the Broncos defense. He’s not an athletic freak by any means, but he could come and be a run stuffer and play a key role in the unit.
Most of this draft has been about improving depth for the Chiefs. However, this might be one of their more immediate needs given the injuries to Derrick Johnson that continually pop up every time that the highly talented linebacker takes the field. Blair Brown is being undervalued in this class and would be a huge addition for them on the second level of the front seven.
Los Angeles Chargers: Tedric Thompson, FS – Colorado
The Chargers will be on the clock with the sixth pick in the fourth round, so they will almost have their pick at anyone they’d like. They should like a playmaker at centerfield safety, which is what Tedric Thompson will provide for them. Their defense actually doesn’t have many holes when healthy. But safety is one and Thompson can fill it.
Oakland Raiders: Anthony Walker Jr. – Northwestern
General manager Reggie McKenzie might have to say about 12 prayers at the same time that Anthony Walker drops to the Raiders. It’s hard to hate on the value that he’s added on defense to this point. While that may be so, the hole at linebacker becomes more glaring the more it’s not addressed. They need to do something about that.
Carson Palmer’s longevity in this league is going to run out relatively soon and the Cardinals don’t have a contingency plan currently in place. Joshua Dobbs has as much upside as just about any quarterback in this class. Letting him come in and work with Bruce Arians could bring the best out of him and make him the ultimate successor to Palmer in the desert.
Los Angeles Rams: Dorian Johnson, OG – Pittsburgh
We’ve already touched on Johnson once before, but I think he almost has to be the pick for the Rams with the fifth pick on Day 3. Johnson is far better than a fourth-round player and the Rams at guard right now are a dumpster fire. Open up holes for Todd Gurley and let Jared Goff breathe a little bit.
San Francisco 49ers: Will Holden, OT – Vanderbilt
There’s everything to love about how the 49ers have done in this draft, save for the curious selection of C.J. Beathard at the end of the third round. While that may be the case, Holden is a big tackle that needs work on his technique. Yet, the potential is truly massive for the SEC product and he’ll be able to come out in a big way and make an impact if allowed to develop behind Joe Staley.
This is general and basic and it needs to be. Of course the Seahawks found great value throughout the first three rounds on defense. That’s their calling card. Their calling card last year was also not being able to block anyone and Russell Wilson running for his life. They need to try anything to remedy that moving forward.