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NFL Draft: Breaking Down the Day 2 Skill Players

With only eight skill position players coming off the board in Round 1, there was plenty of fantasy-relevant talent available in Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday. While 14 total skill position players came off the board Friday night, several of the names called surprised fans and draft analysts alike, such as the Jets selecting Penn State's Christian Hackenberg with the 51st overall selection. Without further ado, let's take a look at how Rounds 2 and 3 shaped how you'll be looking at these rookies once you're on the clock in your fantasy drafts.

Hunter Henry, TE (Arkansas) 6-5/253

Selected 35th overall by San Diego

The best pure tight end in the class didn't have to wait long on Day 2 to find a landing spot as he was scooped up by the Chargers with the fourth pick in the second round. Henry was the third overall tight end in his recruiting class (2013) and made an immediate impact with the Razorbacks, winning All-SEC Freshman honors on the strength of a 28-catch, four touchdown campaign. He parlayed that into a couple more successful years in Fayetteville, including a 51-catch campaign in his junior season. With the Chargers letting Ladarius Green walk in free agency, tight end was a definite need in San Diego, especially considering that Antonio Gates is in the twilight of his career. Rookie tight ends have a checkered history of making an instant impact in their first year, with John Carlson's 627 receiving yards (55 Rec., 5 TD) setting the high water mark at the position since 2005. Another hurdle for rookie tight ends tends to the adjustment to blocking NFL defensive ends and outside linebackers, and while Henry's blocking isn't considered problematic, it could be something that cuts into his snaps early in the year.While it may take a season or two for Henry to fully get going, especially given Gates' presence, Henry's combination of size, athleticism, and natural hands should translate well to the NFL.

Sterling Shepard, WR (Oklahoma), 5-10/190

Selected 40th overall by the Giants

Although Baylor's Corey Coleman and TCU's Josh Doctson came off the board first among Big XII receivers, Shepard is no slouch. Shepard's resume is nothing short of impressive as he wrapped up his storied career at Oklahoma as the Big XII's seventh-most prolific receiver with 3,482 total receiving yards. He's a menace with the ball in his hands, using his combination of short area quicks and straight line speed (4.48 40 yard dash) to make defenders look foolish. Given the team context, Shepard will be the Robin to Odell Beckham's Batman, but that's not necessarily the worst thing. especially considering that the Giants aren't shy about letting Eli Manning let it rip (623 PA in 2015, 6th in NFL). The Giants' new head coach and former OC, Ben McAdoo, will find innovative ways to use his speedy new weapon, which should up Shepard's value among rookie wideouts taken in fantasy drafts this summer. The questions swirling around Victor Cruz's future with the team due to a devastating knee injury could very well give Shepard an easier path to finding playing time in the early goings as well. In all, Shepard profiles as a strong complimentary piece in what should be a favorable landing spot for his skillset.

Derrick Henry, RB (Alabama),  6-3/243

Selected 45th overall by Tennessee

The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner was as mercurial a running back prospect as we've seen in recent memory, with some talent evaluators giving him a first round grade while others questioned whether he was even worth being the second back off the board. At 6-foot-3, 243 pounds, Henry is a hulking back that during his time at Alabama was literally confused for defensive lineman DaShawn Hand , who is a monster in his own right. The lazy concerns regarding Alabama running backs at the next level mostly stem from Trent Richardson, but Henry will have to blaze his own path in order to quiet the naysayers. Henry's athletic profile  is a bit of a mixed bag as his 40 time of 4.54 is nothing to scoff at for a man of his stature, and his 37 inch vertical and 130 inch broad jump are impressive,  but his short area agility (4.38 shuttle, 7.20 3 Cone) raise questions about his ability to elude tacklers in the backfield before he can turn on the jets at the second level. In terms of team context, Tennessee is a curious landing spot for Henry given that the Titans just acquired an expensive back in DeMarco Murray, who has four years remaining on his deal. The Titans and coach Mike Mularkey haven't been shy about having a traditional power run game, which suits Henry's skill set, and the fact that they spent their first pick on tackle Jack Conklin backs up that notion. Still, it's hard to imagine Henry carving out a significant role off the bat behind Murray and a mish-mosh of other questionable backs like Bishop Sankey or David Cobb. Henry has the ability to quickly ascend the depth chart, but his ceiling is as the second back behind Murray for the foreseeable future.

Michael Thomas, WR (Ohio State), 6-3/212

Selected 47th overall by New Orleans

Early in the draft process, Thomas was getting touted as the possible No. 1 receiver in this draft, but he was ultimately surpassed by five other wideouts before hearing his name called. Still, Thomas is a big, polished, and complete receiver that lands in a pass-happy offense led by Drew Brees. Thomas is a prototypical possession receiver that lacks the elite speed (4.55 40) to truly stretch the field, but his hands are about as pure as any in this class and he has been lauded for his precise route running. He also sports excellent body control and an ability to make tough catches on the boundary. The Saints have one reliable and established threat at receiver in Brandin Cooks, whose quick and shifty skillset complements a player like Thomas. Willie Snead appears to have a hold on the second receiver spot in the Saints' offense, and Brandon Coleman is still in the mix, but New Orleans taking Thomas in the second round suggests that they see room for improvement in the receiving corps. Thomas could very well push for playing time in the early goings, especially if a player like Coleman don't see the writing on the wall. In an offense that saw four receiving threats haul in 45 or more catches last season, don't be surprised if Thomas earns his way into a solid role as a rookie.

Christian Hackenberg, QB (Penn State) 6-4/228

Selected 51st overall by the Jets

The Jets had been rumored to be on the market for a quarterback early on in this draft, and those rumors proved true Friday night when they spent their second round pick on Hackenberg. While Hackenberg does fit a need, there are legitimate questions as to whether he deserved to be the fourth signal caller off the board. Hackenberg was anointed as a future No.1 overall pick after an impressive freshman season in Happy Valley that netted him Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in 2013. However, Hackenberg floundered in his last two years at Penn State under head coach James Franklin and offensive coordinator John Donovan. His completion percentage and touchdown totals hit the skids while his interceptions piled up after his freshman season; he combined for 28 touchdowns and 23 picks over his final two years and his completion percentage fell from an already-average 58.9 percent as a freshman to 55.8 in 2014 and 53.3 in 2015. Hackenberg's allure comes from his prototypical size, arm strength, and background in a pro-style system, but his pocket presence, accuracy, and his downward trajectory over the final two years of his time at Penn State suggest that he is a project by any definition. The Jets aren't resolving their 2016 quarterback situation with this pick regardless of what comes of the Ryan Fitzpatrick situtation. If Hackenberg is thrust into the starting role in 2016, it could be a long season for both him and the Jets.

Tyler Boyd, WR (Pittsburgh), 6-2/200

Selected 55th overall by the Bengals

Boyd landing with the Bengals in the late second round is a nice marriage of value and need for a team that just lost its second and third wide receivers to free agency this offseason with the departures of Mohamed Sanu (Atlanta) and Marvin Jones (Detroit). The cupboard was bare on the outside behind A.J Green, with Brandon Tate penciled in as the No.2 before the draft got underway. Boyd was a hyper-productive player at Pitt, racking up 254 catches for 3,361 yards and 21 total touchdowns in his three-year career despite playing alongside average quarterbacks. He should be able to immediately work his way into the offense, but there will be a learning curve in terms of adjusting to NFL coverages and he does have some limitations as an athlete (4.58 40, 4.35 shuttle, 34 inch vertical). He showed an innate ability to make contested catches in college, but those ball skills will be put to the test at the NFL level due to that relative lack of hops. Still, Boyd does have quality hands and the landing spot in Cincinnati ought to allow him to carve out one of the more prominent roles among his peers in this class.

Kenyan Drake, RB (Alabama), 6-1/210

Selected 73rd overall by the Dolphins (3rd Round)

Drake was a jack of all trades at Alabama, flashing potential as a running back, pass catcher, and special teams ace under head coach Nick Saban. But, as the saying goes, jack of all trades,  master of none. It's difficult to accurately predict how Drake will be used in Miami because he is such an exceptional athlete (4.45 40, 123 inch broad jump) but he's not specialized at any one facet. The versatility that Drake brings to the table is undeniable, and he should make an immediate impact on special teams, but the words "special teams" don't instill a ton of confidence in prospective fantasy owners. The running back picture down in Miami is a blurry one, with the likes of Jay Ajayi, Daniel Thomas, and Damien Williams all vying to lock up the lead back role. Drake's athleticism could earn him a heavier workload in the future, but as a rookie, his lack of vision and general raw profile make him a largely unappealing fantasy option in 2016.

Austin Hooper, TE (Stanford), 6-4/248

Selected 81st overall by the Falcons (3rd Round)

Hooper is the latest in a long line of Stanford tight ends to find their way into the NFL. At 6-4, 248, Hooper checks the box in terms of size and he does bring blocking ability to the table, which should help endear him to the Falcons' coaching staff. With massive hands (10 5/8 inches) Hooper is also no slouch in the passing game. He was one of quarterback Kevin Hogan's favorite targets in 2015, corralling 34 passes (T-2nd on the team) for 438 yards and six touchdowns.  The Falcons do have the likes of 31-year-old pass catching tight end Jacob Tamme and fellow Stanford product Levine Toilolo in the fold at tight end, but their willingness to go up and get Hooper in the third round shows that they are looking to beef up the position. As mentioned before, expectations for a rookie tight end should be tempered, but Hooper is an interesting project that should factor into the Atlanta offense in year two.

Braxton Miller, WR (Ohio State), 6-1/201

Selected 85th overall by Houston (3rd Round)

A tremendous three-year starter at quarterback before a shoulder injury before the 2014 season altered his career, Miller spent his last season at Ohio State as a versatile offensive weapon. Taken as a receiver late in the third round, Miller presents a solid value for the Texans as he was projected to go as high as the second round. The Texans have shown a commitment to filling out their receiving corps in the past two drafts by picking up Jaelen Strong in 2015 and adding Notre Dame's Will Fuller in the first round this year. Miller's rawness as a receiver will make him a developmental project in Houston, but the receiving corps appears to be set for the time being, so Miller will have time to develop his route running and ball skills. There's no question Miller flashed the potential to cut it as a receiver during his brief time at the position in 2015, but he's unlikely to be a big factor in the Texans offense as a rookie unless coach Bill O'Brien gets creative and uses him in specialized situations.

Leonte Carroo, WR (Rutgers), 6-0/211

Selected 86th overall by the Dolphins (3rd Round)

Carroo battled injury, suspension, and uneven quarterback play during his time at Rutgers, but his production when he was on the field speaks for itself. Despite missing four games in his final year at Rutgers, Carroo managed to rack up 10 touchdowns on just 39 catches while averaging 20.74 yards per reception. He scored three touchdowns in a game three separate times in 2015, including his electric performance against a tough Michigan State defense. A nagging ankle injury stymied his draft stock a bit as he was unable to fully participate in the combine, so he will need to prove to the Dolphins coaching staff that he can stay on the field. In terms of landing spot, Carroo finds himself in a crowded receiving corps that features other young and improving targets such as Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills. With those three locked into the top three spots, Carroo's odds of making an immediate impact are slim. However, Carroo possesses the ball skills, tenacity, hands, and nose for the end zone that make him someone to take a closer look at in 2017.

C.J Prosise, RB (Notre Dame), 6-0/220

Selected 90th overall by the Seahawks (3rd Round)

A converted wide receiver thrust into the lead running back role following Tarean Folston's season-ending knee injury in the opening game of 2015, Prosise proved to be a natural at the running back position. He racked up 1,029 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground in 2015 while battling through a tough high ankle sprain and naturally, he showed solid pass-catching ability out of the backfield that should help his transition to the NFL.  Marshawn Lynch's retirement made drafting a running back a priority for Seattle, and Prosise's versatility should play well in the pacific northwest. Thomas Rawls looks to have the inside track at being the Seahawks' workhorse in 2016, but Prosise's sheer athleticism, versatility, and speed (4.48 40) should help the Notre Dame product ascend the depth chart and push for the No.2 role in their backfield.

Jacoby Brissett, QB (North Carolina State), 6-4/231

Selected 91st overall by the Patriots (3rd Round)

Brissett was a surprising pick at 91, not only because of the Patriots' security at the quarterback position, but because he went well ahead of where he was projected to come off the board and he did so before several other more highly-touted signal callers. Destined to be the Patriots' No.3 quarterback once Tom Brady returns from suspension, Brissett looks to be an insurance policy in New England in the event that Jimmy Garoppolo gets traded or hits free agency after the 2017 season. Brissett has tools that can be developed and maximized under coach Bill Belichick's tutelage, but as a fantasy option, it'd probably be best for prospective owners to look elsewhere for now.

Cody Kessler, QB (University of Southern California), 6-1/220

Selected 93rd overall by the Browns

If Jacoby Brissett's name getting called on Day 2 was a surprise, Kessler coming off the board two picks later was equally shocking. The Browns likely took Kessler as a developmental project with Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown set to battle it out for the starting role. Still, for Kessler to come off the board before the likes of Connor Cook, Cardale Jones, Dak Prescott, Vernon Adams, or even a similar quarterback like Brandon Allen, is nothing short of head-scratching. Kessler was undoubtedly productive during his time in a pro style system at USC, but he lacks ideal size and arm strength to garner consideration as a starter  at the next level. He figures to serve as a backup for his first few years in Cleveland barring a major roster shakeup.

Nick Vannett, TE (Ohio State), 6-6/257

Selected 94th overall by the Seahawks (3rd Round)

Vannett was the final skill position player and third tight end taken on Day 2 of this year's draft. Glancing at Vannett's numbers alone is a misleading exercise that gives the wrong impression of just how talented the behemoth tight end really is. His career highs for receptions (19, in 2014 and 2015) and yards (220 in 2014) show that Vannett was not necessarily underutilized, but rather the product of a college system that had enough playmakers at other positions to make the tight end position less of a focal point. His hulking frame should allow him to hold up as a blocker,  and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer praised Vannett's ability as a route runner. Seattle has a slew of tight ends, but when you consider that Jimmy Graham is coming off a torn patella tendon, which is a devastating injury, Vannett may sneakily have more upside than one may think at first glance. His role will depend on Graham's rehabilitation and Pete Carroll's plans for Luke Wilson, but Vannett is quietly a tight end that may make more of an impact than the hype surrounding him may suggest.