This article is part of our NFL Draft series.
Before we get to the picks from Rounds 4-7, I want to discuss a few of the veterans who benefitted from the events of the past three days. I'm hardly the first to note that Chase Edmonds, Myles Gaskin and Mike Davis all came out of the draft relatively unscathed, contrary to the expectations created by mock drafts and rumors.
The Cardinals and Falcons didn't draft any running backs at all, while the Dolphins merely added a seventh-round pick, Gerrid Doaks out of Cincinnati. Each of Edmonds, Gaskin and Davis now looks better than 50/50 to handle a lead role, and this is also good news for likely backups James Conner (AZ), Salvon Ahmed (MIA) and Cordarrelle Patterson (ATL).
On the other side of the coin, James Robinson and Melvin Gordon took big hits Thursday/Friday, though I do wonder if the Dolphins or Falcons might try to trade for Robinson. This should be an especially attractive option in Atlanta, where cap considerations might make it tricky to add any RB (besides Davis) with a decent-sized contract. Robinson, a 2020 UDFA, is scheduled for cap hits of $782k and $887k the next two seasons.
Now let's take a look at the skill-position picks from Day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft:
- Ian Book — Notre Dame (4th Round, 133rd overall)
The Saints probably expect Book to be their long-term backup, rather than challenging to be the next franchise QB after Drew Brees' retirement. Of course, neither Taysom Hill nor Jameis Winston seems especially likely to be that guy either, so Book could get a look as soon as late 2021 or early 2022 if he holds his own in practice.
Book completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 7.8 YPA at Notre Dame, throwing for 8,948 yards, 72 TDs and 20 INTs while winning 30 of 35 starts. He also had 1,517 rushing yards and 17 TDs, and he did will in all the athletic tests at this pro day, including a 4.65 40-yard dash. The 6-foot, 210-pound Book might've been a Day 2 Pick if he was a little taller. Check out what Sean Payton said about him in March:
Other QB(s) Drafted
- Sam Ehlinger — Texas (6th Round, 218th overall)
- Michael Carter — UNC (4th Round, 107th overall)
Carter was picked nearly two full rounds after college teammate Javonte Williams, who had similar yardage numbers (but twice as many TDs) for the Heels last season. Williams is bigger and stronger, and his highlight reel is more explosive, but Carter's the more natural pass catcher, so it won't be too much of a surprise if he ends up having the better NFL career.
While QB and O-line play could be shaky, Carter definitely has a shot to earn Week 1 snaps in New York, where La'Mical Perine, Ty Johnson, Tevin Coleman and Josh Adams are the other backfield options for the new coaching staff. A committee is the most likely outcome, but Perine and Carter are reasonable late-round fantasy picks with RB2 upside.
- Kene Nwangwu — Iowa St. (4th Round, 119th overall)
Stuck behind David Montgomery and Breece Hall at Iowa State, it wasn't until his ridiculous pro day that the 23-year-old Nwangwu emerged as a serious NFL prospect. Among RBs in the 2021 draft class, Nwangu put up top-five numbers in the 40-yard dash (4.31, 1st), three-cone drill (6.83, t-1st), vertical jump (38.0 in., 2nd), broad jump (125 in., t-5th) and bench press (22 reps, t-3rd).
He also finished his college career with only 143 carries (5.2 YPC) and seven receptions, so there's a good chance the Vikings drafted Nwangwu primarily for special teams. Consider him a Mike Boone replacement, rather than a potential long-term Dalvin Cook replacement... just don't forget about him entirely, because the workout numbers hint at some tiny shot at stardom.
- Rhamondre Stevenson — Oklahoma (4th Round, 120 overall)
Stevenson played only two seasons at Oklahoma and wasn't a regular starter until 2020, at which point he ran for 665 yards and seven TDs in six games. The strong finish to his college career was then followed by a less-than-stellar pro day, even by the standards of a 231-pound back. Sony Michel has been a bust and may not be long for the roster, but the Pats still have Damien Harris and James White, so Stevenson probably needs an injury ahead of him in order to break through.
- Chuba Hubbard — Oklahoma St. (4th Round, 126th overall)
Hubbard has the name of a 240-pound bruiser, but in reality he's on the slender side for an NFL back, checking in at 6-foot, 210 pounds. He ran for 2,094 yards in 2019, and he'll now have a decent shot at the No. 2 role in Carolina, where Rodney Smith, Reggie Bonnafon and Trenton Cannon represent the not-so-stiff competition for backup work.
- Kenneth Gainwell — Memphis (5th Round, 150th overall)
Gainwell was discussed as a potential Day 2 pick earlier this offseason, despite opting out of 2020. He stunk up the agility drills at his pro day, but he also ran a 4.44 40 at a stocky 5-8, 201. Gainwell worked ahead of Antonio Gibson in 2019 for the Tigers, piling up 1,459 rushing yards, 610 receiving yards and 16 TDs. As much as I like Boston Scott, this is serious competition for the No. 2 RB spot in Philadelphia.
- Elijah Mitchell — ULL (6th Round, 194th overall)
Mitchell is a four-year contributor who ran for 878 or more yards in each of his final three seasons, but he didn't do much damage as a receiver after his sophomore campaign, and his attention-grabbing 40 time (4.33) was at least partially a product of dropping down to 201 pounds. That said, a 4.33 at 201 pounds is still excellent, and we know Kyle Shanahan values breakaway speed more than most other coaches that built their offenses around outside zone. Mitchell and Raheem Mostert are the speed guys, while Jeff Wilson and third-round pick Trey Sermon offer more power. Good luck figuring it all out for fantasy....
Other RBs Drafted
- Gary Brightwell — Arizona (6th Round, 196th overall)
- Larry Rountree III — Missouri (6th Round, 198th overall)
- Chris Evans — Michigan (6th Round, 202nd overall)
- Khalil Herbert — Va. Tech (6th Round, 217th overall)
- Jake Funk — Maryland (7th Round, 233rd overall)
- Gerrid Doaks — Cincinnati (7th Round, 244th overall)
- Kylin Hill — Miss. St. (7th Round, 256th overall)
- Jermar Jefferson — Oregon St. (7th Round, 257th overall)
Evans is the workout warrior. Rountree is the four-year contributor who never really improved after a highly promising freshman year. Herbert didn't emerge as a legit NFL prospect until he was a fifth-year senior, after transferring from Kansas to VT. Funk suffered two ACL tears in college, but he did take 60 carries for 516 yards (8.6 YPC) and three TDs in only four games his senior season.
Anyway, there's nobody from this group I'll be targeting in dynasty drafts. Hill would've been on my radar with a better landing spot, but he has no shot to be higher than third on the depth chart in Green Bay if Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon stay healthy.
|9||Amon-Ra St. Brown||DET||5-11||197||4.59||4.26||6.9||38.5||127||20|
- Dez Fitzpatrick — Louisville (4th Round, 109th overall)
Can't say I know much about Fitzpatrick, but I do know the Titans need a wide receiver, after they lost Corey Davis and Adam Humphries earlier this offseason. Tennessee is arguably the best WR landing spot in terms of snap opportunity right now, though neither Fitzpatrick nor Josh Reynolds seems likely to see a large number of targets even if he earns a three-down role. While Fitzpatrick never topped 833 yards in a season at Louisville, he was a four-year starter who scored nine TDs as a freshman (with some help from Lamar Jackson).
- Amon-Ra St. Brown — USC (4th Round, 112th overall)
St. Brown is a five-star recruit who had 750 yards as a true freshman, 1,042 as a sophomore, and then 478 yards and seven TDs in six games as a junior. He now enters the NFL as a 21-year-old, perhaps dropping to the fourth round on account of a 4.59 40, which admittedly is really bad for a 197-pound wideout. Just don't call him a terrible athlete, as he did test well in the other drills, including a 38.5-inch vertical and 127-inch broad jump.
I really like this pick for the Lions, and also like how it gives St. Brown an opportunity to earn playing time right out of the gate. Detroit's WR group is arguably the weakest in the NFL, with Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman and Geronimo Allison representing the veteran contingent. I'll be zero percent surprised if either St. Brown or 2020 fifth-round pick Quintez Chepus is a Week 1 starter.
- Jaelon Darden — North Texas (4th Round, 129th overall)
Any fantasy interest in Darden can probably be limited to extremely deep dynasty leagues, and maybe some formats with return yardage. He's joining arguably the best WR group in the NFL, likely slotting in sixth behind Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson. Darden is a four-year college contributor who exploded for 1,190 yards and 19 TDs in nine games his senior season, but you'd like to see a guy his size (5-8, 174) running a sub-4.4 at a pro day, not a 4.44.
- Tylan Wallace — Oklahoma St. (4th Round, 131st overall)
Medical concerns may have dropped Wallace to Day 3, after he suffered a torn ACL in 2019 and a sprain in the same knee in 2020. He nonetheless topped 900 yards in both campaigns, and that was after a 1,491-yard performance as a sophomore in 2018. Wallace seems like a solid prospect, but it's hard to imagine a significant Year 1 competition, playing in a run-first offense that already has Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins and first-round pick Rashod Bateman at wide receiver.
Note: RotoWire's Mario Puig put Wallace 17th in his Pre-Draft Rookie Top 50, the highest ranking for any player that didn't end up being a Day 1 or 2 pick.
- Jacob Harris — UCF (4th Round, 141st overall)
Harris has the honor of being the first skill-position pick that I'd never heard of before he was drafted. He was a late breakout with 539 yards and eight TDs in 10 games his senior season, before running a 4.40 40 at 6-5, 219. Draft analysts love to call this a ceiling/floor pick, but if you look at the recent history of similar prospects, the ceiling is guys like Chris Conley and Donte Moncrief, while the floor is a bunch of dudes you've probably already forgotten. Martavis Bryant almost did the thing.
Courtesy of StatHead, the list below shows WRs drafted in Rounds 3-5 (2001-2020) with minimum criteria of 6-2, 200 lbs., and a 4.45 40 or faster. Not to say they're all direct comparisons to Harris, but most are also size-speed freaks who didn't dominate in college. The version of this prospect that's actually good will almost always be a first/second-round pick, though DK Metcalf darn near fell to the third a couple years back.
WRs in Rounds 3-5 with min. criteria of 6-2, 200 lbs., 4.45 40-yard dash (2001-2020)
Other WRs Drafted
- Ihmir Smith-Marsette — Iowa (5th Round, 157th overall)
- Simi Fehoko — Stanford (5th Round, 179th overall)
- Cornell Powell — Clemson (5th Round, 181st overall)
- Frank Darby — Arizona St. (6th Round, 187th overall)
- Marquez Stevenson — Houston (6th Round, 203rd overall)
- Shi Smith — South Carolina (6th Round, 204th overall)
- Racey McMath — LSU (6th Round, 205th overall)
- Jalen Camp — Georgia Tech (6th Round, 209th overall)
- Demetric Felton — UCLA (6th Round, 211st overall)
- Seth Williams — Auburn (6th Round, 219th overall)
- Dazz Newsome — UNC (6th Round, 221st overall)
- Mike Strachan — Charleston (7th Round, 229th overall)
- Tre Nixon — UCF (7th Round, 242nd overall)
- Ben Skowronek — Notre Dame (7th Round, 249th overall)
- Kawaan Baker — So. Alabama(7th Round, 255th overall)
- Dax Milne — BYU (7th Round, 258th overall)
I had Felton and Williams at the bottom of my bench in one devy league, hoping they'd be mid-round picks. Releasing Williams is now an easy choice, but I'll hold on to Felton a little longer on account of his potential RB eligibility. He had 668 rushing yards and only 159 receiving yards in a six-game senior season at UCLA, after mostly playing wide receiver in 2018 and 2019.
- John Bates — Boise State (4th Round, 124th overall)
Bates never had more than 273 receiving yards in a season and ran a 4.82 40 at his pro day. This is a pick for blocking and special teams, not any threat to Logan Thomas.
- Kylen Granson — SMU (4th Round, 127th overall)
Granson put up 1,257 yards and 14 TDs in 22 games for SMU, after transferring from Rice. He's already 23 years old, but he did run a 4.63 40, albeit at 6-1, 241. We haven't seen many 6-foot-1 tight ends in recent years, but the lack of height won't matter too much if he's mostly working as an H-back or slot receiver.
The landing spot is intriguing, as Frank Reich seemingly loves to pass to his tight ends, but doesn't have a great receiving threat between Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox. All the better that Alie-Cox is scheduled for free agency next offseason, while Doyle is scheduled for a $4.7 million non-guaranteed base salary. Granson could get a serious look in 2022 if he proves adequate in a depth role as a rookie.
- Luke Farrell — Ohio St. (5th Round, 145th overall)
Farrell finished his college career with only 380 yards and ran a 4.81 40 at his pro day. He's slightly more interesting than Bates, not that it means much.
- Brevin Jordan — Miami (FL) (5th Round, 147th overall)
Jordan had 287 yards and four TDs as an 18-year-old freshman, followed by 35-495-2 in nine games (2019) and 38-576-7 in eight games (2020). He won't turn 21 until July, and his 4.69 40 time was at least acceptable.
Other TEs Drafted
- Noah Gray — Duke (5th Round, 162nd overall)
- Zach Davidson — Central Missouri (5th Round, 168th overall)
- Ben Mason — Michigan (5th Round, 184th overall)
Gray never reached 400 yards in a season at Duke, but he did run a 4.6 flat at his pro day, albeit after checking in on the small side (6-3, 240) for a tight end. Davidson is a DII product, and he'll need to add some muscle to his 6-6, 245-pound frame. Mason likely will be a fullback or H-back, or maybe just a special teams guy.
- Evan McPherson — Florida (5th Round, 162nd overall)
McPherson made 51 of 60 field-goal attempts (85.0 percent) and 149 of 150 PATs (99.3 percent) in three collegiate seasons. He'll be the favorite in a camp kicking battle with Austin Seibert.