2016 NFL draft grades: Analysis of third-round picks
The story of the third round? Michigan State QB Connor Cook finds himself still on the board heading into Day 3. But Christian Hackenberg (who was taken in the second round by the Jets), Jacoby Brissett and Cody Kessler are all gone, with the Pats' pick of Brissett coming as a pretty big surprise. He'll be a QB2 for the first four games of the season, should Brady's suspension hold, and then looks to be a QB3 for quite a while. As for Cook, how much farther will he fall as we head into Rounds 4–7?
Meanwhile, Baylor DT Andrew Billings is also still up for grabs, while other defensive tackles such as Maelik Collins, Javon Hargrave and Adolphus Washington all heard their names called on Friday night.
Chris Burke hands out his grades for all of the third-round picks.
NFL draft round 3 order
1 (64). Tennessee Titans
Kevin Byard, S, Middle Tennessee State
Analysis: There's a bit of an ongoing safety run, and the Titans grab one of the more underrated prospects at that position. This was a spot they needed to address somewhere, though, and Byard should contribute on passing downs. A little surprising to see him go before Justin Simmons and Darian Thompson, though.
2 (65). Cleveland Browns
Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State
Analysis: It was easier to see Emmanuel Ogbah making a permanent home in a 3–4 defense, as Cleveland is expected to run, than it is Nassib, who is a productive pass rusher. He definitely looks like a better 4–3 end fit.
3 (66). San Diego Chargers
Max Tuerk, C, USC
Analysis: No question that the Chargers had to address their offensive line. I didn't necessarily think center would be the first spot they hit, but Tuerk probably was the third-best in this draft behind Ryan Kelly and Nick Martin. If he's healthy, he will help Philip Rivers and, more importantly, could give Melvin Gordon more space.
4 (67). Dallas Cowboys
Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska
Analysis: The Cowboys have yet to land any help off the edge on defense. Collins gives them another penetrating option from the tackle spot, despite his limited sack production in 2015. Coordinator Rod Marinelli loves to rotate guys up front, so Collins will pitch in. Is that enough to justify a top-70 spot?
5 (68). San Francisco 49ers
Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State
Analysis: This all comes down to the status of Redmond's knee, which he injured in 2015. Assuming he gets all the way to 100% in the near future, he has the instincts and quickness to be a playmaking slot corner, if not a versatile man/zone defender on the outside.
6 (69). Jacksonville Jaguars
Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Maryland
Analysis: Yet another defensive chip for Ngakoue, who may find himself in Gus Bradley's Leo role as a pass-rushing specialist. We've seen several DTs drop in this draft because teams were concerned about their ability to contribute vs. the pass; the opposite is true for Ngakoue, a linebacker-turned-DE. He's raw, but could be real good.
7 (70). Baltimore Ravens
Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU
Analysis: This pick works particularly well on the heels of Baltimore's second-rounder, Kamalei Correa, who will help restock the OLB position. Kaufusi provides a needed boost along the defensive line. With his size and length, think of him as a consolation prize to someone like DeForest Buckner, who Baltimore passed over in Round 1.
8 (71). New York Giants
Darian Thompson, S, Boise State
Analysis: Thompson's sluggish 40 time at the combine probably knocked him down boards, but he is an absolute ballhawk in the passing game. Pairing him with Landon Collins gives the Giants a heck of a 1-2 combo, and Collins can help cover up some of Thompson's recognition shortcomings.
9 (72). Chicago Bears
Jonathan Bullard, DE
Analysis: Not sure how it was Bullard got caught up in the DT slide and lingered into Round 3. Kudos to the Bears for landing him here. He will be an interesting piece for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, as Bullard's best spot would have been as a 4-3 three-tech. In Chicago's 3-4 he nonetheless has the strength to hold an edge and can kick inside vs. the pass.
10 (73). Miami Dolphins
Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama
Analysis: Per Miami's beat reporters, Drake himself admitted he did not expect to hear his name this early. And with Kenneth Dixon, Devontae Booker and others still out there, it's hard to figure why he did. Drake can be explosive from time to time, but he will have to carve out a role as a complementary piece behind Jay Ajayi.
11 (74). Kansas City Chiefs (from Bucs)
KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame
Analysis: Are the Chiefs getting the Russell who in 2013 appeared en route to being one of college football's top corners? If so, then this could turn out to be incredible value. Russell never quite looked himself last season due to injury. It's still obvious why Kansas City likes him: size and strength outside.
12 (75). Oakland Raiders
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Analysis: The Raiders' third-round pick actually might be better than their second-rounder. Calhoun, without question, is at least as ready as Jihad Ward to produce as a rookie. He is a value here, and he can be a three-down defender. Another chip for the Raiders' emerging front seven.
13 (76). Cleveland Browns (from Titans via Rams)
Shon Coleman, T, Auburn
Analysis: Nothing wrong with this pick, despite Coleman being a step down from OTs that Cleveland could have nabbed earlier. He was a left tackle for Auburn, but it's probably better for both him and the team to break him in at Mitchell Schwartz's vacated RT spot. If he develops, he eventually could replace Joe Thomas on the left.
14 (77). Carolina Panthers (from Browns, through Eagles, Lions)
Daryl Worley, CB, West Virginia
Analysis: Comparing Worley to the other cornerbacks still on the board, this pick arguably is coming a round or two early. But Carolina obviously went up to get him because he fits its system. Worley is big and plays nasty on the outside, which is what GM Dave Gettleman wants. He's not a Josh Norman replacement, but he is a piece to the puzzle.
15 (78). New England Patriots (from Saints)
Joe Thuney, G, North Carolina State
Analysis: Thuney would have made sense for a lot of teams because of his versatility—he legitimately could help at all five line positions, in a pinch. New England has found itself in several of those pinches lately, with injuries at OT and inconsistency inside. Thuney is a perfect safety net.
16 (79). Philadelphia Eagles
Isaac Seumalo, G, Oregon State
Analysis: The Eagles announced him as a center; the NFL Network had him listed as a guard. Have to assume the latter is where he'll wind up in Philadelphia, what with Jason Kelce and Stefan Wisniewski already on board. Seumalo probably starts off as a backup for all three interior line spots.
17 (80). Buffalo Bills
Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State
Analysis: The Ryan brothers' imprint is all over this Buffalo draft, as this is now three straight defensive picks. Washington has Pro Bowl-level talent as a pass rusher, though it didn't always show up consistently. The Bills will get him plenty of one-on-one chances with Marcell Dareus occupying blockers next to him.
18 (81). Atlanta Falcons
Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford
Analysis: At some point in this draft it would be nice to see Atlanta find more help for its O-line. While Hooper can and will pitch in as a blocker, he's really intriguing because of how he can contribute in the passing game. He will give the Falcons options as an H-back or out of the slot, perhaps creating some of the mismatches Tony Gonzalez used to.
19 (82). Indianapolis Colts
Le'Raven Clark, T, Texas Tech
Analysis: Given the teams with tackle needs, Clark stood out as a possible Round 2 (or even late Round 1) pick. The gap between him and No. 31 pick Germain Ifedi is negligible. His huge frame should allow him to step in at right tackle immediately, and the Colts can run right behnd him.
20 (83). New York Jets
Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia
Analysis: A confusing Day 2 for the Jets, what with Christian Hackenberg earlier on Friday and now their second linebacker of the draft, following Darron Lee in Round 1. Jenkins can defend the run and might be able to develop into a solid pass rusher, but where is he playing on this defense?
21 (84). Washington Redskins
Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Analysis: Fuller's 2015 injury lowered his draft ceiling. This is a terrific landing spot for him, because a) Washington already has a bunch of capable CBs (including Josh Norman), so he can ease his way back; and b) his game is best suited for the type of zone like defensive coordinator Joe Barry employs.
22 (85). Houston Texans
Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State
Analysis: Potential-wise, this is an A+ pick—Miller has an unbelievable ceiling that he only just started to scratch as a wide receiver. As a fit, it's a little more wait-and-see because of the Will Fuller selection on Day 1. Will he get enough opportunities? And when is Houston going to help its defense?
23 (86). Miami Dolphins
Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers
Analysis: This is about where Carroo was expected to go. It's unexpected to see Miami trade up for him—or any wide receiver—with DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry already on the depth chart. The lone defensive pick the Dolphins have made thus far is on a CB who needs ample development time.
24 (87). Cincinnati Bengals
Nick Vigil, LB, Utah State
Analysis: Presumably, the Bengals are eyeing Vigil as a middle linebacker behind veteran Rey Maualuga, and that is sort of classic Cincinnati—pick a player who will be needed down the road. Hard to knock the system much since it keeps producing. There's just little exciting about this selection, and it probably will not help much in 2016.
25 (88). Green Bay Packers
Kyler Fackrell, LB, Utah State
Analysis: Can we give this an incomplete grade? Fackrell was an edge player throughout his college career, but with Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers locked in for the Packers, is it possible Ted Thompson gets a little creative again and uses Fackrell inside? Either way, Fackrell is a reliable player and should be at least a decent pro.
26 (89). Pittsburgh Steelers
Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina
Analysis: The Steelers addressed their secondary with their first and second picks, so taking a look along the D-line was an obvious next step. Hargrave is a handful, and he will team with Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt to give the Steelers a front that can come after the quarterback in waves.
27 (90). Seattle Seahawks
C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame
Analysis: Had to assume that the Seahawks would look for another running back in this draft, following Marshawn Lynch's retirement. Prosise will take some time to be a real impact player, but he does offer a skill set that pairs well with Thomas Rawls. He's a passing-down threat out of the gate.
28 (91). New England Patriots
Jacoby Brissett, QB, North Carolina State
Analysis: The real story here is Connor Cook falling completely off the map in the opening three rounds. Even though Brissett has his fans, this is a long-term play—he doesn't process the game quickly enough to be successful in the near future. He's QB2 with Tom Brady suspended and then QB3 for as long as Jimmy Garoppolo is around.
29 (92). Arizona Cardinals
Brandon Williams, CB, Texas A&M
Analysis: This is the type of pick an organization can make when it has few needs. Williams has played CB for all of one season, thus making it hard to see him being a full-time starter without multiple seasons learning his position. Arizona can give him the benefit of time. It also could have taken him a round or two later.
30 (93). Cleveland Browns
Cody Kessler, QB, USC
Analysis: Don't get it. Obviously, Hue Jackson has proven that he knows what he's doing at the quarterback position, but Kessler doesn't show much to indicate that he can be a future NFL starter. There were numerous quarterbacks with higher apparent upside still left, most notably Connor Cook.
31 (94). Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos)
Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State
Analysis: Oh, hey, an Ohio State guy. Given the chance to be more of a receiving threat than Ohio State provided him, Vannett could become a very dangerous seam-attacking weapon. His floor is as a chain mover and athletic blocker. He's great insurance if Jimmy Graham's injury lingers, or a wonderful complement if Graham gets back.
32 (95). Detroit Lions
Graham Glasgow, C, Michigan
Analysis: The Lions' 2014 third-rounder, Travis Swanson, likely now will cede his job to the 2016 third-rounder. Glasgow won't blow anybody away but he will keep Matthew Stafford's pocket clean up the middle. And if the Lions want to see what Swanson can do, Glasgow can backup at guard, too.
33 (96). New England Patriots
Vincent Valentine, DT, Nebraska
Analysis: What happened to Andrew Billings? The Baylor defensive tackle shockingly slid through Round 3, and this was another spot where he could have fit. Valentine is a fine pick in his own right—a run-stuffer whose size and role brings to mind the comparison of Vince Wilfork.
34 (97). Seattle Seahawks
Rees Odhiambo, T, Boise State
Analysis: The Seahawks must feel decent about Odhiambo's medical situation (broken ankle, requiring surgery). If they're right, then they might have swiped one here because Odhiambo is a big-bodied guard who likes to punish defenders. Well worth taking a shot at a position of need.
35 (98). Denver Broncos
Justin Simmons, S, Boston College
Analysis: Denver is lacking depth at safety. Simmons provides it, and then some. He has shown more than enough of a comfort level against both run and pass to trust him in any situations, and his versatility could lead the Broncos into three-safety looks on occasion. Excellent value to close Round 3.