Greg Gabriel: 7 NFL draft Day 3 steals

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Every year in the NFL draft we see players get picked higher and lower than we anticipated. One reason for this is no matter how hard a draft analyst works on preparing for the draft, he doesn’t have anywhere close to the information that each NFL clubs has. There is always character and medical information that has an effect on where certain players go — and outside of the NFL that information is not known.

This year there were several players who were drafted lower than I felt they would be, making them, in my opinion, steals and tremendous value picks for the clubs that selected them. Here are a few:

Tyrell Crosby – OT – Oregon – Detroit – Fifth Round

Crosby was an All Pac-12 performer at Oregon and a multi-year starter. He had experience as a starter at both right and left tackle. His tape was excellent, but his Senior Bowl week was a little disappointing. Still, he lasted until the fifth round, where the Detroit Lions selected him. I felt that, at worst, Crosby was a second-round talent. That said, he had a foot injury that caused him to miss most of 2016. The after effects of that injury might be the reason he lasted so late in the draft.

Duke Ejiofor – Edge – Wake Forest – Houston – Sixth Round

Ejiofor produced some strong tape while at Wake Forest. He finished his career with 23.5 sacks and 41 tackles for loss. He is an excellent competitor who consistently goes snap to whistle and always has a plan when rushing the passer. A player like that should go much higher than the sixth round. The reason might be medical, as he had labrum surgery following the 2017 season and was unable to work out for any coaches or scouts. It will interesting to see how he plays for the Texans.

Kyle Lauletta – QB – Richmond – N.Y. Giants – Fourth Round

In the draft, quarterbacks who aren’t considered to be upper-echelon players often get drafted later than their talent level. One of the reasons is clubs will prefer to draft a positional player who can contribute earlier in his career while the QB sits and learns. That may be the case with Lauletta. He has eventual starter ability, and showed that with his MVP performance at the Senior Bowl. While at Richmond, his play was very consistent. Another potential reason for his slide is a torn ACL late in the 2016 season. That may have given clubs some reservations when thinking about taking him higher.

Armani Watts – DS – Texas A&M – Kansas City – Fourth Round

If you just watched tape and didn’t know Watts' size, you would have thought that he would be drafted much higher than the fourth round. At 5104 – 202, Watts doesn’t have prototypical NFL safety size. He also did not run at the combine, and then ran much slower than expected at the Texas A&M Pro Day. Though he timed just 4.64, Watts plays much faster. He has very good range and ball skills, and finished his career with 10 career interceptions. I’ll be surprised if Watts isn’t an eventual starter for the Chiefs.

Justin Watson – WR – Penn – Tampa Bay – Fifth Round

It’s my opinion that Justin Watson will be this year’s Cooper Kupp. Watson is bigger and faster than Kupp, measuring 6023 – 215 and timing 4.44 at the Penn pro day. He also posted a 40” vertical jump and a 10’4” standing long jump. Watson was a very good route runner with sure hands at Penn. Don’t be surprised when he contributes much more than expected from a fifth round pick.

Tim Settle – DT/NT – Virginia Tech – Washington – Fifth Round

When Settle declared for the Draft, he was the talk of the scouting world, and at that time many felt he could go as high as the second round. He didn’t perform quite as expected at the combine, which hurt his stock. Still, Settle has exceptional natural strength and does a very good job occupying blockers and disrupting the run game.What he lacks is top stamina, as he tires late in games and when on the field for long drives. Just a third-year sophomore, he is still young and will mature. He has unlimited upside and should get a lot of play time as a rookie.

Christian Sam – LB – Arizona State – New England – Sixth Round

Sam was a tackling machine at Arizona State in 2017 with 127 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. He also has top instincts. What hurt him was he missed all but a few plays of the 2016 season with a foot injury, and then he ran slower than expected at the combine (4.75). I expect Sam to be a starter for the Patriots by Year Two at the latest, as well as get significant play time as a rotational player as a rookie

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