Keep an Eye on These Guys

Ten intriguing players drafted in later rounds who, for better or worse, could shape the near- and long-term future of the franchises that took them

By
Greg A. Bedard
· More from Greg·
Amaro provides yet another weapon for Geno Smith—or Michael Vick—with the Jets. (Brett Deering/Getty Images)
New Jet Amaro provides another weapon for Geno Smith—or Michael Vick. (Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Is it possible for the three-day NFL draft to feel like a blur? That’s the way it looked to me after all seven rounds and 256 picks.

From Jadeveon Clowney going to No. 1 to the Texans and the Jaguars taking Blake Bortles third overall to sit for a season on Thursday, to Michael Sam being the first openly gay player to be drafted, with seven picks to spare on Saturday, the draft was its usual whirlwind.

While my brain is still functioning (barely), here are the 10 picks that caught my eye for various reasons, with a lean towards the final four rounds that took place on Saturday:

Jets: TE Jace Amaro (second round)

When you have a young quarterback like Geno Smith, it helps to have a good group of short to intermediate receivers because they represent less stressful targets (compared to downfield receivers) and can also be a bailout when things get hairy. The Jets signed running back Chris Johnson, who has terrific hands, and has added a very good receiving tight end in Amaro to go with the underrated Jeff Cumberland. Add in Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley (we’ll wait to see what Stephen Hill, David Nelson and Jacoby Ford do), and the Jets have set up a situation in which they should know very quickly whether Smith has the right stuff—or whether they should hand the keys to Michael Vick.

Patriots: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (second round)

This isn’t about the actual pick—Ryan Mallett is going to be gone within the year so New England needed another quarterback—but more about whom they passed on. Three picks later, at the top of the third round, former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien took Iowa TE C.J. Fiedorowicz for the Texans. He’s not exactly a Rob Gronkowski clone, but at 6-5, 265 pounds, and athletic, he’s of the same ilk. A problem for the Patriots has been the lack of comparable backups to the oft-injured Gronkowski. When he goes out, it causes a lot of scrambling for the offense as it has to rely more on receivers, which takes away some of Tom Brady’s effectiveness. The Patriots had a chance to solidify things a little bit, especially since Gronkowski’s timely return from knee surgery is no sure thing, and they passed. The Patriots obviously think a lot of Garoppolo to pick him there.

Jaguars: Aaron Colvin, CB (fourth round)

Was on his way to being one of the second-tier of cornerbacks taken in the second round when Colvin suffered a torn right ACL on the second day of Senior Bowl practice. Colvin won’t play this season, but with the proper rehab he should be a starter in 2015. He’s an excellent all-around player. This was a very smart move by GM Dave Caldwell. QB Blake Bortles has a redshirt mate.

49ers: WR Bruce Ellington (fourth round)

Classic Trent Baalke. As if the San Francisco general manager didn’t enter the draft with enough picks (11), he wound up making 12 selections. Baalke moved up and down a few times (four pick trades and a deal for Bills receiver Stevie Johnson on Friday alone). One of those deals was a trade down with the Browns for the 49ers’ third-round pick in exchange for a fourth- and a sixth-round selection. The 49ers chose Ellington, a lightning-quick former basketball star who is still learning the game. His skill set is different from the other Niners receivers, so look for Ellington to be a key contributor in the short passing game at some point.

Cardinals: QB Logan Thomas (fourth round)

While the rest of the NFL moves toward smaller and more mobile quarterbacks (heck, even Bill Belichick drafted a 6-2 passer), Cardinals coach Bruce Arians just keeps plucking sequoias to stand in the pocket and heave balls down the field. That’s not right or wrong, just interesting. I like Thomas, who is 6-6 and 248 pounds, with hands that are nearly 11 inches, a lot. Yes, he’s a raw piece of meat but, boy, he has a dazzling skill set with a big arm and nice touch. If Arians can work his magic, he could really have something here once Carson Palmer is finally done.

The Cards tabbed Thomas as yet another big pocket passer. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
The Cards tabbed Thomas as yet another big pocket passer. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Seahawks: WR Kevin Norwood (fourth round)

Got a glimpse of the Alabama product at the Senior Bowl, and he instantly impressed because of his ability to high point the ball against coverage. He a solid all-round receiver who also ran well at the combine (4.48 in the 40). He’s going to surprise and contribute quickly, like most players coached by Nick Saban.

Bengals: QB A.J. McCarron (fifth round)

Liked this pick because Andy Dalton finally has another quarterback on the roster who has the potential to be a starter in this league. Even though I have been critical of Dalton, I don’t think McCarron is ever going to beat him out. But I do think this is going to help Dalton. I think he’s been too coddled by coach Marvin Lewis, and that has contributed to some of Dalton’s struggles. The arrival of McCarron has the potential to give him the little push he needs to get over the top. Dalton knows that fans will be calling  for McCarron has soon has he slips up, so he won’t give McCarron an inch. If it goes the other way, the Bengals finally have another quarterback who has played in (and won) a lot of big games.

Bears: QB David Fales (sixth round)

Doesn’t overwhelm you with his physical skills, but Fales is a quick-thinking and -throwing quarterback who is perfect for coach Marc Trestman’s offense. At worst, Fales is a quality NFL backup, which the Bears need immediately. After only two years at San Jose State, he has a lot of room to grow and learn, and he’s in a perfect spot to do that with Trestman.

Panthers: RB Tyler Gaffney (sixth round)

The MMQB on the Draft

Josh Gordon’s potential suspension casts a pall on Manziel Mania in Cleveland. FULL STORY


Peter King on the boldest move of the draft—Buffalo’s big Sammy Watkins gamble. FULL STORY


Greg Bedard’s first-round breakdown. FULL STORY

What, the Panthers didn’t have enough running backs with DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert and Kenjon Barner? GM Dave Gettleman is a very smart man, so I’m sure he had his long-term reasons for making this pick. However, the Panthers have serious needs at both tackle positions. You’re telling me there wasn’t one tackle worthy of a flyer in this spot?

Steelers: CB Shaquille Richardson (fifth round)

Wasn’t as impressed with GM Kevin Colbert’s draft as many pundits were because while many of the players have high ceilings, almost every pick has the potential to bust because they’re not quite (close) scheme fits or are lacking in other areas. I was not a fan of the Richardson pick because the Steelers are desperately in need of cornerback help right now with Ike Taylor quickly declining and William Gay more of a slot corner. Richardson is a project at best, and a big-time reach in this spot. This was not a very deep draft for good corners, and Colbert probably didn’t address the spot soon enough.

Bills: OT Seantrel Henderson (seventh round)

I don’t care if he was a seventh-round pick. And I don’t care that if you drew a picture of a franchise left tackle, this 6-7, 331-pound athlete with sweet feet would be it. Henderson has been nothing but trouble since being one of the top high school recruits in the country. Multiple failed drug tests during college at Miami and then, again, reportedly during the scouting combine. Henderson couldn’t even finish his pro day workout. And on the field, he’s not even good. Henderson didn’t come close to earning the privilege of hearing his name called during the draft. He should have been undrafted. That’s what he earned.

mmqb-end-slug-square

More from The MMQB
45 comments
Jason1988
Jason1988

"This was not a very deep draft for good corners, and Colbert probably didn’t address the spot soon enough."

-According to whom? Because almost every other "expert" seemed to think this was an extremely deep class for WRs and CBs considering the amount of underclassmen that declared. 

"Wasn’t as impressed with GM Kevin Colbert’s draft as many pundits were because while many of the players have high ceilings, almost every pick has the potential to bust because they’re not quite (close) scheme fits or are lacking in other areas."

-Literally every single pick fits the Steelers' scheme; offensively and defensively. Shazier was prjected to be a 3-4 ILB and Tuitt was considered to be the best 3-4 DE in the draft. Richardson is a great man-to-man CB who can also play zone. McCullers is a huge 3-4 NT. I mean the guy is monstrous. 

I just don't get your indifference towards the Steelers' draft. Most people consider it one of the best drafts this year. Even though it's way too early to judge, I'm impressed with the picks, as well, considering they fill needs all over the field. 


RickMathews
RickMathews

The think the WR the Charges got should be on the list.

Bernard4195
Bernard4195

Agree on the Steelers not taking a CB higher.  Drafting a small RB from Kent State in the 3rd round seems like a luxury pick for a team that has so many glaring holes on defense. 

Scramble
Scramble

You listed two guys from the second round, that's not a later round pick.

RosaNosabe
RosaNosabe

Colvin is potentially the steal of the latter round draft picks. He has 1st round talent, dominant at Oklahoma, and with today's advancement in medical technology, a perfect quick recovery has become a routine.

Joel1
Joel1

Seantral Henderson has been a (maturity) train wreck.

Joining the NFL will only fuel this dumpster fire.

gary41
gary41

Logan Thomas has size, athletic ability and arm strength, but how about the rest??  Given, he has potential, but that just means he is VERY deficient.  It would have been nice to see progress from year to year, with less interceptions and fumbles.  That is a 1st class red flag.  He was not the 6th best QB off the board and may not even make the team---as a QB.   

NWBill
NWBill

I thought Buffalo had an excellent draft+trade package this year (and so far the undrafted signings aren't too shabby, weither) but Seantrel Henderson in the 7th? That was a head-scratcher. I can onnly imagine that, if he hasn't already, Doug Marrone is gonna sit down with this guy and tell him, "This is your ONE and ONLY ONE shot; if you want to stay, and play, in this league ....you'd better grow up and benefit from your God-given talent - cause I will throw you OFF this team faster than you can blink if you screw with us. So - what's it gonna be? You going to continue to be a punk, or are you gonna become a man?"

Redskins
Redskins

Just as I think Manziel will be another spectacular bust, I think McCarron is a steal, with a solid, maybe spectacular, future

AlaGator
AlaGator

How did I know that somehow A J McCarron would be shoved into this article?  Oh, well.  NFL teams need clipboard holders too.

Edward Mahan
Edward Mahan

The patriots are reliving the era in hockey of Harry Sinden of the Bruins.  The Kraft Patriots want to be "competitive" and make the playoffs every year but mostly to make money. They refuse to sign playmakers and choose good enough players instead. They call it "depth".  It is actually a travesty.With the highest ticket prices in the league and a great QB they should be trying to get at least one more Lombardi, but NO, that might cost too much money! Why would we do that. I would have rather they trade Brady for picks, at least then it is clear what the priority is and, if you don't plan on winning anything, you might as well.

ianlinross
ianlinross

Throw in Aaron Lynch, drafted by the 49ers. An amazing specimen of a DE who peaked as a freshman at Notre Dame before transferring to South Florida where he was absolutely AWOL. Million-dollar body type, ten cent head.

49ers had so many picks they could afford to take a flyer on him. 

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

" his ability to high point the ball against coverage."


What does high pointing the ball mean?  That is a hip phrase that a lot of analysts are using.

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

I think I get you ("a blur (draft)"), Greg, but for me, NFL draft has become one of those tiresome TV mini-series (some were great) that keeps coming back, day after day after day, but with a lot more build-up.  I think I'd find it more intriguing if ESPN and all the sports sites weren't 'persuaded' to pitch it so hard.  Over-kill.  And I don't think adding a 4th day will bring it into better 'focus,' either.  NFL personnel may agree.  Pull it back, Rajah.  

KristianColasacco
KristianColasacco

The second round is hardly considered "late rounds".  I was expecting an article that dug a bit deeper than this.

stevenchas1264
stevenchas1264

Really dude (wisconsin death trip) its about playing football not about sexual orientation

its idiots like you that make it almost impossible to move forward do you care to share any of your other phobias

 


Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

Packers had a rather uneventful draft, and I don't think they solved anything outside of the Safety position.  No OL, ILB or CB help at all. Just WR help a little, and not much else. 


Anybody catch that clip of Sam making out with his male girlfriend after he got drafted by the Rams? OMG...YIKES!

dillonbarabasz
dillonbarabasz

So Seantrel Henderson doesn't deserve to be drafted because he screwed up a few times with Marijuana? That doesn't change the fact that the dude was a beast in college. Marrone loves his big lineman. You don't get to decide whom deserves to be drafted because even though he did falter a bit, he still had to work extremely hard to get here. He doesn't need pundits like you saying he doesn't deserve to get drafted. He's a 7th round pick for christ's sake and he is a low risk/ high reward pick.

Jason1988
Jason1988

Glaring holes? Where? They have signed Mitchell, they have a young #2 CB in Allen and Taylor is still a good #1. They picked up a starting DE in the draft and a pass-rushing MLB, as well. 

People fail to realize that the Steelers' secondary is indeed secondary. First comes the pass rush, then come the turnovers. 

JayGuthy
JayGuthy

@RosaNosabe  Jets had like 22 picks this draft and you would think they would at least have drafted one injured red shirt or one player expected to go higher, that did not.  Think they whiffed with many if not most of their 12 picks this season.

jbcuster
jbcuster

@Edward Mahan  Are you a Pats fan of the 21st century? Do you remember the 70s, 80, and 90s. All the great Brady crap is in the past, his accuracy is fading fast. His pre-snap reading of defensive play is still his greatest asset, yet his throws downfield and outside the numbers is not great. The man has no mobility and can't extend a pass play if needed. Many experts have said that the Patriots are one of the best run sports teams in any sport. I personally wouldn't trade Mr. Kraft and Coach Belicheck for anyone.

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

@Edward Mahan  The Patriots have won all of their Super Bowls with that philosophy.


Super stars cost a premium because they're easy to identify and they please fans, but if you can identify talent they're the least efficient way to win.  


Smart teams find the inefficiencies in the market and pounce on them. 


People thought the Patriots were crazy to draft Gronkowski and Hernandez in the same draft.  The patriots realized that they were both very high talents who rightly deserved to be 1st rounders, and when teams couldn't stop that tandem, they looked pretty smart.  Of course with Gronk seemingly always hurt and Hernandez now behind bars, it doesn't look quite as brilliant, but that's how you set yourself up to have more talent than every one else:  by identifying the players and positions that are under valued, and playing schemes that aren't the norm, in order to take advantage of your unusual talent.


salvaje50
salvaje50

@Edward Mahan Ever heard of the salary cap?  This isn't MLB.  The patriots spend just as much money as most teams.  they just don't spend most of it on 6-10 players like other teams do.  They spread it over the whole roster because they know they will lose multiple players ti injuries every year.

kzehn2324
kzehn2324

@unitcaptain11  Means that the receiver is willing to go get the ball at the highest point of his vertical rather than wait for the ball to come to him. By waiting, it allows DBs a lot more chances to make a play.

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

@unitcaptain11  Grabbing the ball out of the air at the very highest point of your jump, which means you have a really great sense of space and timing.  This skill makes it difficult or impossible for defensive backs to bat the ball away or intercept it, especially with a large receiver or some one who leaps well.

KristianColasacco
KristianColasacco

@unitcaptain11   It's when you grab the ball at the highest possible point of your jump. It basically means the guy can jump out of the gym and get a ball before others can. 

RichGalapo
RichGalapo

@Wisconsin Death Trip  Shame on all of you for attacking this person and shame on the dolphins for suspending Don Jones. What happened to freedom of speech? If Michael Sam wants to say he's gay make out with his partner on TV thats his constitutional right. If Wisconsin Death Trip or Don Jones have something to say about it thats their constitutional right too. People who post hateful things are hoping you come out and attack them. They're baiting you!! It hurts worse when you ignore them. When did Americans become so sensitive? 


On a side note I think its pretty awesome Sam got drafted however its not because he's gay. I think its amazing that anyone can show the type of commitment it takes to be recognized by the leaders at the sports highest level and nice to see people get rewarded for hard work they put in. Im happy for him and every other player that got drafted exactly the same. 

FDowney
FDowney

@Wisconsin Death Trip Having watched my daughter kiss her (very female) girlfriend, I didn't bother me at all. If it bothered you, you're the one with the problem.

al321
al321

@Wisconsin Death Trip  Nah, I was too busy trying to find your clip of getting drafted into the NFL. Oh wait, it doesn't exist.

AnthonyW.Gibbs1
AnthonyW.Gibbs1

@Wisconsin Death Trip  How is that any of your business? He kissed his boyfriend upon being drafted.  Good for him.  People like you trip me out always minding everyone else's business except for yours.  I tell the Kindergartners I teach the same thing I'll tell you: if you mind your own business and focus on your own life you'll do wonders.


Trust me.


Leave Michael Sam alone.

David2
David2

@Wisconsin Death Trip Yes, I was so disappointed to see Sam and boyfriend act in exactly the same fashion as other straight couples have over the years that the draft has been televised.  How dare they!

Mike26
Mike26

@dillonbarabasz  Seantrel Henderson won't last 2 years in the NFL. He has little work ethic, lack of passion for football outside the games themselves, and not much intelligence when it comes to being a serious athlete (pot how many times?).  He was lucky to be drafted at all.

MoeLarryAndJesus
MoeLarryAndJesus

@dillonbarabasz The problem is Henderson was an underachiever in college.  He was a beast in high school, but a disappointment after that.

el80ne
el80ne

@JayGuthy @RosaNosabeIt's because Idzik sucks. He's a cap guy. Doesn't have the cojones to be GM and the draft demonstrates it.

el80ne
el80ne

@Bearsclone @Edward MahanThe Patriots haven't been able to exploit arbitrage opportunities to maximize draft value like they used to. Just look at their most recent drafts and the bust numbers. These days, it's teams like the niners and seahawks that do that really well. Meanwhile, Belichick has to go out and pay market value for a Revis or trade for Talib because he can't seem to coach up defensive players any more.

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11



Makes sense.  Thanks for the replies.
I have heard it described as "catching the ball at it's highest point", but of course that almost never happens, because the ball is on the way down when it is caught, except maybe on a little shovel pass.

EricKillian
EricKillian

And also time his jump to be at the highest point

Folsom49er
Folsom49er

@David2 @Wisconsin Death Trip


Personally I hope Sam makes the Team so in the future this will be No Big Deal. As it is right now every Media Org. is making wayyy too much of "The Kiss" & continue to show that video over & over. It's almost like they want any reaction to keep the story alive.

Newsletter