Day 3 Draft Picks That Could Have the Biggest Impact
Whilst Aaron Rodgers has taken over the NFL news outlets for the past week. I’d like to go back to the 2021 NFL draft. Some of the recent draftees like Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson will have immediate pressure to perform on the NFL stage. I want to take a look at some of the day 3 picks, and show you which ones I think can have an immediate impact on their respective teams.
For guys selected on day 3 just making the 53-man roster would be an achievement. 1st round picks are almost certain to make their teams rosters, whilst it’s estimated 2nd and 3rd round picks have at least a 90% chance. After that the chances of players making it to the roster start to decline drastically, 75% in the 4th and 5th. Then even further to 30% in the 6th and 7th.
Last Year’s Success Stories
I’m not interested in players who just filled up a roster spot, or even guys showing future potential. I’m looking for the ones who can have an immediate impact. I’ve picked out 5 that did it last season. 4th round pick Gabriel Davis managed to make an impact in an already talented Wide Receiver core in Buffalo. With impressive rookie stats of 35/599/7. Chicago’s 5th round Receiver Darnell Mooney also had an impressive rookie season, with stats of 61/631/4 and looks set to be a starter in 2021.
The PFWA all-rookie team for 2020 was made up mostly of top-round picks, but there were some exceptions. Notably, Kansas City Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, who impressed with 2 sacks, 7 pass deflections, and 3 interceptions in his rookie season. Another to make it was New England Guard Michael Onwenu, the 6th round pick put together a solid season on the Patriots offensive line.
Most impressive of all was Jacksonville’s, James Robinson. The undrafted Running Back started week 1 for the Jaguars and had a season that made a mockery of his undrafted status. A thousand-yard season with stats of 240/1070/7 plus receiving stats of 49/344/3. Putting him up there with the best in the league, and also a deserved place on the PFWA all-rookie team. So let’s move on to this year’s draft class.
It was a bit of a surprise Brevin Jordan fell as far as the 5th round. A big Tight End with yards after the catch ability. An impressive college career at Miami yielded over 1300 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Quarterback position in Houston is very publicly up in the air. Despite that uncertainty, the lack of a genuine top Tight End and playmakers in general. Allows Jordan to immediately become a favored option for whoever the Quarterback is, and make an immediate impact.
Sometimes which team a player finds himself on, is just as important as their ability. Iowa Wide Receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette got the perfect landing spot when he was drafted by Minnesota in round 5. Not only a team that desperately needed a returner but also has no clearcut WR3 and lacked over-the-top speed for Kirk Cousins to take advantage of with his deep balls. Smith-Marsette ticks all those boxes. His college career was good but not great, but it is worth noting he was dealing with substandard quarterback play. In the NFL amongst better players, he could shine more than ever.
The days of teams taking a 1st round Running Back to be the centerpiece of the team seem to be a thing of the past. Rookies who you can run into the ground for 3 or 4 years, before being replaced is the way things are trending. Finding one in the mid to late rounds is where Michael Carter comes in. The New York Jets Running Back room is crowded, but without a standout starter — well suited to the wide zone scheme being implemented by new Head Coach Robert Salah and Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur. The rookie out of Florida will have every chance to stake his claim for the starting role.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
USC Wide Receiver Amon-Ra St Brown was a surprise slip to the 4th round. He slipped into a fortunate position in Detroit, where the receiver group isn’t strong. A competitive player with a high football IQ, and excellent route running. St Brown is perfect to play out of the slot, where the competition currently is Kalif Raymond. A player who’s bounced around the league, and had success as a returner and the occasional big play. St Brown can make his mark in year one as a consistent pass catcher on short-yardage plays.
Finally a look at the defensive side of the ball, where Minnesota got a steal landing Jaylen Twyman in the 6th round. A team whose pass rush was nonexistent last season, and still has question marks over it now. Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson will start at tackle, with both known more for their run-stopping ability. There is room for a pass-rushing specialist like Twyman to make an impact early on. Being able to come in on obvious passing downs, and just letting him pin his ears back and go after the Quarterback. Is the perfect way to introduce a player like Twyman to the league.
Last, of all, I want to give a shout-out to Mr. Irrelevant Grant Stuard. Selected by the reigning Super Bowl champions with the last pick of the 2021 draft. I don’t expect Stuard gets anywhere near the field in his position of Linebacker, but I do believe he can make the 53 man squad. Due to his reputation as a special teams specialist. Anytime the drafts Mr. Irrelevant can make a team roster, it is a great achievement.