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NFL AM: Best Available on Day 3 of the NFL Draft

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Two days and three rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft have come and gone and with them 98 picks have been made.

There have been a few quarterbacks, well more than a few defensive lineman and even a kicker came off the board in Round 2. But as Day 3 begins, with rounds 4-7 on the slate, there are still plenty of legitimate pro prospects waiting for the call. Here are just a few and a thought on where each will end up.

  1. Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor – Some mocks had Billings going as high as late in the first round, so the drop in Billings’ stock is somewhat puzzling. But it might be tied back to the fact that he’s not a prototypical DT for a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. At 6-1, he doesn’t have the length to be a truly dominant NT in a 3-4 and at 311 pounds he lacks the flexibility, burst and versatility to play the 1-tech or 3-tech in the 4-3. Still, some team is going to take chance on Day 3, banking on the fact that, at worst, he can be a solid rotational player. Best guess: San Diego Chargers.
  2. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State – Another guy who was mocked by many in the first round to the Broncos, Cook’s precipitous drop began when Paxton Lynch landed in Denver’s lap. Since then, three other quarterbacks have come off the board, including Jacoby Brissett and Cody Kessler, two shocking late third rounders. Cook’s fall has brought questions about his ability to lead back to the surface, stemming from his exclusion for Michigan State’s list of team captains in his final season. There are also some concerns about Cook’s shoulder injury suffered late last season. Still the guy’s college resume blows away that of Kessler and his ceiling is somewhere between serviceable NFL starter and solid backup. There’s a market for that in the QB-needy NFL. Best guess: Dallas Cowboys.
  3. Devontae Booker, RB, Utah – Projected by many to be the third running back off the board, Booker remains on the board as Day 3 begins, mostly due to a lack of interest shown in the running back position thus far. Only three have been selected since Ezekiel Elliott came off the board to Dallas at No. 4 overall. That makes it likely there’s a run on running backs on Day 3 and Booker should be among the first to go. Booker is a guy who played in a NFL scheme with the Utes and proved he can be an every-down back, he’s also got the bowling ball body to have success at the NFL level (Think C.J. Anderson), and enough quickness to pay it off. Best guess: Baltimore Ravens
  4. Christian Westerman, OG, Arizona State – A total of 17 offensive lineman have come off the board in two days, including seven guards and yet Westerman hasn’t heard his name called. That should change on Saturday. The 6-3, 300-lber is one of the most athletically gifted lineman in the draft with the instincts to succeed at the next level. He’s also versatile and can handle any run blocking scheme he’s thrown into. He’ll need to add some bulk to truly succeed at the next level, which means he likely doesn’t contribute from day one, explaining his fall in the draft, but whoever gets him will have better short-term depth and a great long-term prospect. Best guess: Jacksonville Jaguars.
  5. Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Texas – It seems like a guy like Ridgeway slips through the crack every year and many of them become, at worst, solid rotational pieces at the next level. At 6-3, 303 pounds, Ridgeway can be that, if he lands in the right spot and puts in the work, something that wasn’t always the case over the course of his college career. His size makes him a bit a 3-4/4-3 tweener, but his power and athleticism probably fit best at the 3-technique in a 4-3. Ridgeway is one of those guys with all the talent and questionable commitment, a perfect Day 3 pick. Best guess: Los Angeles Rams.
  6. Jerald Hawkins, OT, LSU – Like at guard, seven names came off the board at offensive tackle in the first two days. In this top-heavy class, things were bound to slow down after four OTs went in the first 16 picks. But business should pick up on Day 3 as teams search out depth pieces for their trench units. At 6-6, 305, Hawkins fits the bill and then some. His height gives him the length that teams covet and his footwork has drawn high marks, but he doesn’t have the athletic ability you’d hope for and his technique needs serious work. Best guess: Cincinnati Bengals.
  7. Charles Tapper, EDGE, Oklahoma – Tapper has the prototype build teams look for in a 4-3 rusher off the edge, but he’s going to need some work to get there in terms of technique and mentality, so he isn’t likely to contribute right away at the next level. He showed flashes of being an effective bull rusher throughout his time at Oklahoma but those glimpses of excellence were usually offset by plays where he got outworked or his technique faltered. If a team with an aggressive defensive coordinator and line coach and some vet leadership gets their hands on him, look out: Best guess: Denver Broncos
  8. Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State – It’s been a strange draft for inside/middle linebackers as only two have come off the board in 98 picks, with the first one, Reggie Ragland, a solid first round talent, falling all the way to 41 overall. The class is weak, but teams need depth on defense, especially on the inside where injuries tend to happen more often these days. Perry has the size and skillset to contribute immediately if he has to, especially against the run as he is excellent in pursuit, but he’s a bit of a liability in the passing game and that could scare teams away. Still, it doesn’t get much better than the talent and production at the position on Day 3. Best guess: Detroit Lions
  9. Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma – Ten years or so ago, Sanchez would have been a prototype corner among the first off the board at the position, but as the game has changed and size has started to matter more at the position, smaller corners have become and endangered species. Still, the kid can play, and moreover, he’s a ball hawk and there has to be a place on the roster for that. He’s solid in coverage, even against bigger receivers but to make those plays on the ball he takes a lot of risks, making him the feast-or-famine type. Best guess: Seattle Seahawks
  10. Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia – Being one of the oldest players in the draft doesn’t necessarily bode well for a skill position player, especially at wideout in today’s youth driven NFL, but Mitchell has made a career out of proving doubters wrong, overcoming significant injuries to contribute annually at Georgia. He’s a steady route-runner with sure hands, and although he doesn’t have the best burst to create separation, there are still a variety of ways to use him and teams should covet his compete level, which will make him an immediate contributor on special teams. Best guess: Minnesota Vikings

About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys