- Sure, spending the 10th overall pick on a player isn’t a classic “steal,” but when that player is the best quarterback in the draft and best on-field prospect in years at the most important position, that’s definitely a steal. The Cardinals only had to give up the 15th pick, a third-round pick, and a fifth-round pick to move up to the 10th spot to get their guy. That’s relatively cheap considering how much teams normally have to give up in order to move up and select a franchise quarterback. Rosen gives the Cardinals a face for their franchise for the next decade. He’s such a clean prospect and the only true knock on him is his apparent personality issues, but that’s just bogus. Rosen is so similar to Aaron Rodgers when it comes to his personality and that’s not a bad thing. With Rosen at the helm the Cardinals have a mechanically sound quarterback with a big arm and accuracy on all levels. He’s dealt with poor offensive lines and iffy skill positions around him at UCLA for the last three seasons, meaning he’ll be comfortable with the Cardinals despite their lack of talent. Getting a star quarterback is the start of the rebuilding process and Arizona is in good shape. Three quarterbacks went ahead of Rosen, so getting him at 10 is incredible value.
- Pro Comparison: Matt Ryan
- Selected: 10th overall by Arizona Cardinals
RB- Derrius Guice, Washington
- Another player who slid due to “personality issues.” The knock on Guice is his immaturity. Word is he likes video games a little too much and is overly quirky. Neither of those seem like bad things considering what “personality issues” other players in the league have. It’s not like Guice is the quarterback, he’s a running back and a damn good one. Based on tape and on the field talent Guice is the clear second best running back in this class, yet he was the seventh one selected. Washington needs a run game and Guice will juice their’s up instantly. He runs violently and constantly finishes his runs, but he isn’t one dimensional. Despite being a powerful between the tackles guy, Guice has home run hitting ability and can rip off chunk runs. He’s the perfect fit behind a big mean Washington offensive line. Don’t be surprised to see Guice lead all rookies in rushing as he’s a better pure runner than Saquon Barkley.
- Pro Comparison: Marshawn Lynch
- Selected: 59th overall by Washington
Flex- John Kelly, LA Rams
- Last year the biggest steal of the NFL Draft was a Tennessee running back named Alvin Kamara. This year another Tennessee running back felt through the cracks and the Rams scooped him up. John Kelly was the 15th running back selected in the draft. Despite the fall he landed in a great place. Kelly is a bowling ball between the tackles and would rather run over a defender than by them. He also was the only consistent source of offense for the Volunteers this past season and because of that he was heavily involved in the passing game. Getting a guy like Kelly this late in the draft to backup Todd Gurley is terrific. Kelly can add some attitude to the Rams run game while allowing for the offense to operate at its full capability because, like Gurley, he can make plays as a pass catcher.
- Pro Comparison: Maurice Jones-Drew
- Selected: 176th overall by LA Rams
Z WR- Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
- After getting a draft steal in the first-round with Rosen the Cardinals followed it up in the second round with another steal in Christian Kirk. Getting Rosen a young offensive weapon was a smart move and Kirk being on the board that late was lucky for Arizona. As the fifth wide receiver taken, Kirk brings a dynamic playmaking ability to the Cardinals core. He is the best YAC receiver in the class and can play inside as a slot or outside as the Z receiver. With consistent hands and a running back like ability in the open field, Kirk should see a lot of action as a rookie. On top of that he brings value as a punt and kick returner. With Kirk there to be Rosen’s best friend at wide out it should make for an easier transition for both players.
- Pro Comparison: Golden Tate
- Selected: 47th overall by Arizona Cardinals
X WR- Equanimeous St. Brown, Green Bay Packers
- Not only was Equanimeous St. Brown the 25th WR taken in the draft, he was the third one taken by the Packers. Based strictly on ability and athleticism, St. Brown is at least a top 12 talent at his position in this draft class. Apparently, he and his father rubbed teams the wrong way in a sort of Lonzo/LaVar Ball kind of way. Don’t worry, like Lonzo he has two younger brothers. His two brothers actually have a shot at the NFL though…anyway back to EQ. St. Brown is a tall, lean, catch radius machine who adds a deep threat ability to the Packers offense. He’ll have to compete with a handful of players, but if he can keep his head on straight, getting a guy with his size and athleticism paired with Aaron Rodgers could be scary
- Pro Comparison: Martavis Bryant
- Selected: 207th overall by Green Bay Packers
Slot- Trey Quinn, Washington
- If you’re going to go in the seventh-round of the NFL Draft, you may as well be the last pick so you can be crowned Mr. Irrelevant. This year Mr. Irrelevant might actually be relevant, as Trey Quinn has the talent to make Washington’s roster. Even though 32 wide receivers went ahead of him, Quinn’s one of the most natural slots in the class. After transferring from LSU, he spent one season at SMU and set their single season record for catches with 114. With solid size and athleticism for a slot, Quinn can be in Washington’s receiver rotation. He’s a savvy route runner with consistent hands and an underrated YAC ability. Quinn could even see time as an outside receiver in Washington with the uncertainty surrounding their current group.
- Pro Comparison: Julian Edelman
- Selected: 256th overall by Washington
TE- Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys
- It was a weak tight end class and there’s not really a true “steal” at the position. As the 10th tight end taken Dalton Schultz probably fell right where he should value wise, but he could have a major impact as a rookie. One of the three best blocking tight ends in the class, Schultz wasn’t used that much as a pass catcher for Stanford. When they did involve him he was effective and showed off nice movement skills for a 6-5, 244-pound tight end. With Jason Witten retired and no proven talent on the team Schultz should play significant snaps, at least as a blocker. He may not be a steal, but it’s solid value considering where other tight ends fell in this class.
- Selected: 137th overall by Dallas Cowboys
- There were rumors of a potential Tyrell Crosby slide due to some issues in his pass blocking technique, but the Lions getting him in the fifth is theft. He is one of the more pro-ready linemen in this class. If Crosby can’t overcome the technical issues with his pass blocking he’ll do just fine kicking inside to guard. He’s got the size and length teams look for in tackles and is one of the best run blockers in the class. Most tackles are looked at for the left side, but Crosby is what you generally covet in a right tackle. Even if he doesn’t earn a starting spot as a rookie he should be the Lions go-to backup at almost every offensive line spot. This pick looks like an even bigger steal in the context of the quality of offensive linemen that went before Crosby. There were a ton of reach picks on athleticism, and while Crosby doesn’t blow you away athletically, he’s ready to play now.
- Pro Comparison: Morgan Moses
- Selected: 153rd overall by Detroit Lions
OT- Chukwuma Okorafor, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Like with Crosby, the steal label for Chukes Okorafor is helped by the context of who at his position was selected before him. Okorafor isn’t a pro-ready prospect, but he has far more consistent tape than some of the tackles selected ahead of him. For Okorafor to fall to Pittsburgh is great for him and them. With a stable offensive line in place Okorafor won’t have to see the field often as a rookie. He can sit and learn to play in the NFL before taking over either at left or right tackle. At his size, 6-6, 320-pounds, Okorafor has awesome footwork. He had arguably the best footwork in the draft and at times flashed top 50 ability and looked like a potential franchise tackle. Again, it helps he can sit and learn because he needs to add strength, work on his run blocking, and learn to use his length and hands in pass pro. This pick will payoff down the line.
- Pro Comparison: Levi Jones
- Selected: 92nd overall by Pittsburgh Steelers
OG- Connor Williams, Dallas Cowboys
- There isn’t much of a reason buzzing around why Connor Williams fell this far in the draft. The only explanation seems to be that he lacks the length to play offensive tackle in the NFL. Even so, he had by far the best tape of any offensive lineman in this class not named Quenton Nelson. Kicking Williams inside to guard will only make his success in the NFL come even sooner. With his pass and run blocking technique, movement skills and flair for playing through the whistle, he’ll be great at guard. Also with Dallas putting him at left guard his biggest issue, footwork, can be hidden. He’s going to plug-and-play at left guard flanked by Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, and the sky is the limit for Williams as a rookie. Getting a guard with All-Pro ability mid-second-round is incredible especially when he’ll be paired with the best guard in the league in Zack Martin.
- Pro Comparison: Joe Staley
- Selected: 50th overall by Dallas Cowboys
- Usually the seventh guard off the board isn’t expected to make a huge impact as a rookie, but Wyatt Teller is going to need to. With a depleted offensive line and the skill set of Teller, he’ll likely start at right guard in Buffalo. Teller is a hardnosed and mean run mauling guard. He’s the type of player opposing defensive linemen hate going up against. The odd thing is Teller is quietly a freak athlete. At 6-5, 314 pounds he tested as one of the most athletic linemen at the NFL Scouting Combine. The size, athleticism, mean streak and effort he brings to the table are so similar to former Bills guard Richie Incognito. Expect Teller to be starting for Buffalo by the end of the year.
- Pro Comparison: Richie Incognito
- Selected: 166th overall by Buffalo Bills
- In a top heavy center class, the talent thinned out quickly and there’s no true steal. It’s between potential future starting centers Scott Quessenberry, a Chargers fifth-round pick, and Bradley Bozeman. Bozeman didn’t go until the late sixth-round and was the seventh of the eight centers selected. He didn’t shine for Alabama, but Bozeman was consistent at center for them. Although he wasn’t invited to the Scouting Combine he had a big week in Mobile, Alabama at the Senior Bowl. He was one of the best interior offensive linemen in pass pro throughout the week. With his size, 6-5, 296 pounds, and time to sit and learn, Bozeman can be groomed to eventually start at center in Baltimore.
- Pro Comparison: TJ Johnson
- Selected: 215th overall by Baltimore Ravens
- One of the most surprising falls in the draft was Harold Landry falling out of the top 40. Of course, the Titans were smart and traded their second and third-round picks to Oakland to move up and take Landry. Bradley Chubb is the only clear more talented edge player in this draft class than Landry. Yet, Landry slid because he lacks some size and battled injuries as a Senior. His tape shows a non-stop pass rusher who has a devastating ability to bend and dip to beat tackles around the edge. Pairing that with his athleticism and explosiveness and he looks like a double digit sack player. Only two edge rushers went ahead of Landry, but in a weak class his fall is crazy. The Titans got a big time steal and Landry should find a role as a situational pass rusher early on before taking over as a starter down the road.
- Pro Comparison: Cameron Wake
- Selected: 41st overall by Tennessee Titans
1-Tech ID- Harrison Phillips, Buffalo Bills
- It’s funny that the Bills ended up with both Wyatt Teller and Harrison Phillips. Teller steps into the Incognito role and Phillips should step into the Kyle Williams role after this season. Phillips doesn’t look like the regular nose tackle, he’s just 6-3, 307-pounds, but his technique makes up for that. He’s an absolute leverage beast and his wrestling background has a lot to do with that. At Stanford, Phillips was an incredible force as their 1-tech and the Bills must be happy he fell to the end of the third-round. As the 10th defensive tackle taken, Phillips is a better all-around player than about half the players taken before him. His floor is high because he knows how to play on the interior and command double teams. Finding an NFL-ready 1-tech that understands how to play his role right away is rare. The value of Phillips at 96th overall is better than the second defensive tackle taken, Da’Ron Payne, at 13th
- Pro Comparison: Kyle Williams
- Selected: 96th overall by Buffalo Bills
3-Tech ID- Maurice Hurst, Oakland Raiders
Someone asked me if there’s a DT I’d take in the 1st. This is the one.
- The situation for Mo Hurst is a lot different than the rest of these guys. He would have been a first-round pick if not for a heart issue. Oakland took their chances and stopped his fall at the top of the fifth-round. Still, if he plays this will be a massive steal. Hurst is the best true 3-tech in this draft class and only Vita Vea is better as an interior presence, and not by much. Hurst is the gap shooting pass rusher every team wants in their 3-tech today. He’s disruptive and can apply pressure with ease from the inside. As the 11th interior defensive lineman taken, Hurst is a dark horse for Defensive Rookie of the Year as long as his heart checks out. In the second-round Oakland took defensive tackle PJ Hall and Hurst is expected to play over him despite going three rounds later. If he’s capable of playing Hurst can be the biggest steal of the draft.
- Pro Comparison: Geno Atkins
- Selected: 140th overall by Oakland Raiders
- The only explanation for Josh Sweat falling to the late fourth-round is teams are worried about his gruesome knee injury from high school effecting him in the NFL. Sweat is the type of player NFL teams tend to overdraft. He’s 6-5, 251-pounds and one of the best athletes in the draft. Florida State misused him so the stats aren’t eye popping, but when they let him rush the passer instead of protect gaps he flashed major talent. If his knee stays healthy he can get in on the Eagles defensive line rotation as a rookie. He’s got the explosiveness off the ball, hand use and motor that Philadelphia covets in a pass rushers. In a year that lacks pass rushers on the edge, 12 were taken before Sweat. Most of those guys are less talented and far less athletic. As long as he can stay healthy Sweat can be very impactful.
- Pro Comparison: Danielle Hunter
- Selected: 130th overall by Philadelphia Eagles
Chalk this one up as a crazy play for Christian Sam. Unreal read/reactionary quickness to pick this ball off. You can tell he studied this one. pic.twitter.com/RTOZH1gKz4
— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) March 26, 2018
- After way over drafting a linebacker in the fifth-round, Ja’Whaun Bentley, the Patriots wrote their wrongs and got Christian Sam in the sixth. With a weak linebacker core the Patriots needed to find someone who can play multiple spots, that’s Sam. He’s a thicker linebacker at 6-1, 244-pounds and excels against the run due to his instincts and thumping style. Sam is a natural Patriots linebacker. The lack of athleticism caused Sam to be the 19th off-ball linebacker picked in the class. He’s far more NFL-ready than some of the athletic players taken ahead of him and it will show. Even though he tested poorly, Sam doesn’t struggle with his lack of athleticism on tape. Every year linebackers with NFL-ready instincts slide in the draft due to lack of athleticism and every year teams regret it.
- Pro Comparison: Reggie Ragland
- Selected: 178th overall by New England Patriots
MLB- Josey Jewell, Denver Broncos
- Yes, a Big Ten linebacker who was statistically dominant in college, but didn’t test all that well and lacks some size, slid in the draft. This is a familiar story, like Sam’s, because the NFL wants to find freak athletes over good football players. The only linebacker in the draft has better instincts than Josey Jewell is Roquan Smith and even that’s debatable. Jewell is a freak when it comes to putting himself into the right position to make a play. That’s why the lack of athleticism didn’t show up on tape, he makes up for it by being a football genius who knows how to play the game. Even though he was the 12th off-ball linebacker taken, Jewell has a good chance to lead all rookies in tackles if the Broncos play him. Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis have been fine for Denver, but adding Jewell with his instincts into the inside of that defense can be huge. With the pass rush in place they needed a consistent force versus the run at linebacker.
- Pro Comparison: Sean Lee
- Selected: 106th overall by Denver Broncos
SLB- Genard Avery, Cleveland Browns
- Unlike the other two linebackers, Genard Avery tested incredibly athletically. He was one of the most athletic linebackers at the combine, but a knee issue caused his fall into the fifth-round. At Memphis, Avery was used both as an off-ball linebacker and as an edge rusher, and he was their tone-setter. He hits with everything he has and is fantastic when coming up versus the run. Thanks to his time playing edge he’s also one of the best blitzing off-ball linebackers in the class. He’s got the ability with his athleticism and demeanor versus the run to play anywhere in a linebacking core. Even with the athleticism (4.59 40-yard dash), size (6-1, 248-pounds), and production (44.5 TFLs, 21.5 sacks) he was the 17th off-ball linebacker taken. Cleveland has a sound linebacker core right now, but Avery could find a niche role with his skill set for them.
- Pro Comparison: Zach Brown
- Selected: 150th overall by Cleveland Browns
CB- Josh Jackson, Green Bay Packers
- There was a time Josh Jackson was seen as the best cornerback in this draft class. There was also a time almost every mock draft had the Packers selecting him in the first-round. Lucky for them he fell and they cashed in on the steal. After an uninspiring combine, Jackson’s stock began to waver, but falling to the mid-second-round is surprising. Jackson has rare ball skills and has top cornerback upside with his fluidity. The Packers don’t have a lot at cornerback right now and Jackson should end up as a starter this season. He’s got the best ball skills on the team and is a classic give and take corner. Meaning he’ll give up some big plays, but he makes them back with big plays of his own.
- Pro Comparison: Marcus Peters
- Selected: 45th overall by Green Bay Packers
NB- Parry Nickerson, New York Jets
- One of the less surprising steals of the NFL Draft is the Jets getting Parry Nickerson in the sixth-round. Nickerson was a late riser, and coming from a small school like Tulane and being just 5-10, 182-pounds, there was a good chance he’d be a later round pick. But Nickerson has starting nickel ability. He’s a superb athlete with terrific ball skills. For Tulane he matched up wherever the opposing team’s best receiver was and always held his own despite his size. He plays bigger than he is with a feistiness and swagger that NFL nickels need. Nickerson was the 21st cornerback taken, but should compete to play for the Jets. With starting nickel Buster Skrine in the last year of his contract with the Jets and the secondary getting younger, Nickerson could be starting by year two.
- Pro Comparison: Patrick Robinson
- Selected: 179th overall by New York Jets
- Without a first-round pick the Texans still managed to end up with a first-round talent in the third-round. Justin Reid is a lot close to the Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick level than he was given credit for. The only guess as to why he fell is he’s a jack of all trades and master of none. Sometimes that can hurt draft stocks because there’s no one true position you play. At Stanford, Reid played cornerback, nickel, single high safety, box safety and dime linebacker. His versatility is mouth watering and the Texans secondary needs it. Reid was the fifth safety off the board and he is definitely better than two of the four taken above him. With his ability to play all over he’ll hit the field early and often in Houston. Reid should make his money playing a big nickel role, where he played the most at Stanford. With his size and athleticism, he has the ability to cover slots, running backs, and tight ends. He’s pretty much a coverage chess piece for any defensive coordinator.
- Pro Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins
- Selected: 68th by Houston Texans
SS/Overhang- Minkah Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins
- With Josh Rosen being a steal at 10th it was justified by him playing the most important position. For Minkah Fitzpatrick to be a steal as a defensive back going 11th, it’s because he is a top five talent in this class and now the quarterback of the Dolphins defense. Fitzpatrick’s football IQ is off the charts and Nick Saban has called him one of the smartest players to ever come through Alabama. He also checks the boxes for size, versatility, and athleticism. It feels like Fitzpatrick is such a safe pick it caused him to fall, but a player of his caliber is the future of the NFL. More and more frequently we’ve seen this overhang defender role takeover on defense in the NFL. It allows for teams to play nickel as a base set while still being able to combat the run at a high level. The overhang is integral to defensive success; the Vikings have proven that with Harrison Smith. Fitzpatrick might be a “new wave” type of player, but he’ll make taking a player of his position this early the new norm. It won’t be long before the Dolphins credit Fitzpatrick as the reason their defense works and the most important non-quarterback on their roster.
- Pro Comparison: Charles Woodson
- Selected: 11th overall by Miami Dolphins
CB- Dane Cruikshank, Tennessee Titans
- This is sort of cheating to have Dane Cruikshank on the list as a cornerback. Technically the Titans selected him as a cornerback and list him there, but he’s a lot closer to a nickel/safety/overhang than he is a corner. At Arizona he was basically their version of Minkah Fitzpatrick. He was the weapon they used to stop spread offenses and create mismatches for themselves. Cruikshank tested extremely well for his size and has the versatility needed in today’s defensive backs. If Cruikshank is classified as a cornerback, he was the 18th one taken. He went after guys who aren’t going to be anything more than special teams players and backups. Meanwhile, Cruikshank has a chance to be the Titans X-factor in their secondary. They have their five starting defensive back spots on lock, but without a bigger cornerback in their starting core Cruikshank can handle bigger receivers for them. He can also play the strong safety spot in major passing downs and have the team move Jonathan Cyprien into a dime linebacker look. Getting a guy with this much athleticism and versatility this late is great value.
- Pro Comparison: Tyvon Branch
- Selected: 152nd overall by Tennessee Titans