By College Football Analyst Josh Buchanan for TonySoftli.com
RD PICK TEAM PLAYER
2 62 New England Jimmy Garoppolo
Garoppolo is a player I have consistently said didn’t need to be taken too high because he was a developmental guy who could potentially be a starter 3-4 years down the year and was more valued in the mid rounds. While he went in the second round he turned out to go to a team who plans to have their franchise signal caller (Tom Brady) for a few more years. This could be the perfect marriage as Garoppolo learns from a future Hall of Famer and has the time to sit and develop.
3 67 Miami Billy Turner
Turner was a solid pick for Miami who was valued in the 3rd or 4th round and should make the 53 man roster as a rookie. His quick feet and ability to play either guard or tackle should allow him to contribute as a backup early on and could potentially be a starter.
3 91 Arizona John Brown
This pick was a surprise because most, including myself, viewed Brown as a late round prospect. GM Steve Keim pulled the trigger in a bit of a surprise but sees Brown as a return specialist and slot receiver who can make plays with his speed. His slight frame and build is a concern but when you run 4.3s it’s hard to get your hands on him. Brown will either be seen as a huge reach or make the Cardinals look smarter than everyone else when all is said and done.
3 94 Cleveland Terrance West
The Browns took a player who I ranked #1 at one point and really feel could have come off the board in the 2nd round. West is a big back with the ability to run over people and put a team on his shoulders. The junior from Towson has a chance to contribute early on with veteran Willis McGahee back and the fact he should beat out Edwin Baker and Fozzy Whittaker for playing time.
3 96 Minnesota Jerick McKinnon
We know McKinnon won’t start with Adrian Peterson there but the only other rookie on the roster is Dominique Williams of Wagner, whom he should beat out, and then there is Brandan Bishop and Joe Banyard among the returners. Expect McKinnon to be the backup to AP.
4 125 Miami Walt Aikens
Miami needed corners and Aikens should not only make the 53 man roster but could see significant time. There is no question Brent Grimes is their best corner but he could get in the rotation and join Will Davis and Don Jones as those who see plenty of playing time in 2014. His size and speed make him someone that should be a nice compliment to the shorter Brent Grimes.
4 127 Cleveland Pierre Desir
It was somewhat of a surprise that Aikens went ahead of Desir after the postseason Desir had but this could turn out to be a huge blessing for Pierre. He is very raw and needs to learn a lot more about the game of football before he should start but has the ability to beat out everyone on the roster except Haden and Skrine as a rookie and should eventually take over as the starter with Haden. Expect him to make the team and contribute as a rookie.
4 136 Detroit Larry Webster
Webster was announced as a tight end but he is listed as a defensive end on the roster. He joins a team where he should see significant time on special teams and be a solid backup as a rookie. He is expected to play behind Ezekiel Ansah, Jason Jones, and join Devin Taylor as the top backup. His basketball background and lack of extensive football experience make him a developmental prospect I would have taken in the 6th or 7th round but Detroit sees him as another lengthy, athletic pass rusher to join with another young, raw talent in Ansah and potentially see as a freakish starting duo in a couple years.
4 137 NY Jets Dakota Dozier
I loved this pick and I’m sure southeast regional scout Jay Mandolesi had a big part in it. Dozier is a guy who didn’t play well early in the fall so he was snubbed by the Senior Bowl but he finished strong and had a good postseason to prove worthy of a 3rd or 4th round pick. When you look at the roster there is a good shot he starts as a rookie alongside Brian Winters as he could beat out Will Campbell and Caleb Schlauderaff. Whether he starts or not will show exactly how much Dozier works because I think he has the talent to start and should be a starter as a rookie.
4 138 Baltimore Lorenzo Taliaferro
I have Taliaferro rated as a fullback and thus had this pick as a reach because I valued his position as more of a 7th round pick, considering he would need to bulk up for the position. His skill set has people saying he is a tweener so the pick here at 138 was a surprise to many. Luckily for him he was drafted as a tailback and while he won’t start, he will compete with Bernard Pierce and Bernard Scott for time as a backup. Taliaferro would be an ideal practice squad player as a rookie but the fact he can block, play special teams, and be a grind it out type runner makes him someone the Ravens will want on the 53 man roster. For him to make the roster he will have to beat out Pierce or Scott so this is a position battle worth watching in training camp.
5 143 Tampa Bay Kadeem Edwards
Edwards joins a team who signed just one rookie guard after the draft and has Oniel Cousins, Jason Foster, Carl Nicks, and Patrick Omameh on the roster. He should make the 53 man roster and see time behind Carl Nicks and Oniel Cousins, two seasoned veterans. This was a good pick and I fully expect him to see some time as a backup and eventually develop into a very good backup or adequate starter in the NFL.
5 158 Detroit Caraun Reid
This was a great value pick as I saw Reid as a 3rd or 4th round value. He will backup Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh while joining Corvey Irvin to form a quality backup duo. He won’t have to start as a rookie but could potentially take over when it comes time to decide on the contract of Fairley and Suh.
5 171 Miami Jordan Tripp
I really liked this pick as a steal late in the 6th round because Tripp can play special teams and both inside and outside linebacker. That should put him over the hump when time comes to pick the 53 man roster and should allow him to see time over other backups on the roster. I really think he will develop into an adequate starter in the NFL.
6 184 Minnesota Kendall James
This was a great pick because James is not only fast but he can play special teams and be a nickel corner as a rookie. He will join rookie Jabari Price and will have competition with Xavier Rhodes, Shaun Prater, Captain Munnerlyn, and Derek Cox, among others, for the final roster spots. He has a battle on his hands to make this roster but has a shot because of his special teams ability.
6 190 Miami Matt Hazel
Hazel has more talent than most of the current roster and should be the #6 receiver behind Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, and Brandon Gibson. While he will be low on the depth chart early on, he should get the final roster spot. His work ethic will determine if he is just a journeyman or has a good career because he was born with NFL talent. This was a very good pick for the Dolphins looking to fill out their spots at wide receiver on the 53 man roster.
6 195 NY Jets Brandon Dixon
Dixon was the second corner drafted behind Dexter McDougle and joins a team who has Dee Milliner and others returning. There is no doubt Dixon should not start as a rookie but can contribute on special teams and be a good nickel corner that can jam receivers. This is a good pick and will allow the raw corner time to develop, which he needs, with the situation on this roster. I really like this pick late in the 6th round and think it should pan out for the Jets long term.
6 196 Arizona Walter Powell
Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn, and John Brown will definitely have a roster spot, or at least Brown should, so there is room to make the roster as he will compete with Dan Buckner, Jaron Brown, Corey Washington, Brittan Golden, Kelsey Pope, and Kevin Smith for the last two spots. I expect Powell to join Buckner on the 53 man roster and Brown to compete with Washington for a practice squad spot. Powell’s ability on special teams should be what ultimately earns him a spot on this roster.
6 198 New England Zach Moore
Moore is a big end with length and a lot of upside but already listed 3rd string on the depth chart. He will compete with Will Smith, Michael Buchanan, and Jake Bequette to make the 53 man roster. If cut, I expect him to make the practice squad but he has the type of upside you hate to lose and he should get the last roster spot for ends.
7 226 St. Louis Mitchell Van Dyk
Van Dyk was a surprise pick and a player I didn’t have in my top 150 small schoolers but at 6’7 with his feet he became a player the Rams coveted and will compete with Mike Person and Joe Barksdale for a backup spot on the roster. I expect him to make the practice squad as a developmental prospect.
7 234 Miami Terrence Fede
Fede was not given fair treatment by the media when drafted and while I had him as a priority free agent, he is a guy who should make the 53 man roster with his size, length, and bulk to play the position. Expect him to find himself behind Olivier Vernon, Dion Jordan, and Cameron Wake on the 53 man roster.
7 235 Oakland Shelby Harris
Harris was dismissed from Illinois State and did not play in 2013 but still got drafted after a good pro day workout. His junior campaign in 2012 was very impressive and helped get him drafted as well. He comes into a tough situation with LaMarr Woodley, Justin Tuck, Ryan Robinson, Jack Crawford, and Neiko Thorpe back but if he plays well enough he could earn a roster spot. I think he ends up on the practice squad as long as he has a solid preseason.
7 236 Green Bay Jeff Janis
Janis was considered mostly a straight line fast guy who needs to improve his hands and that’s why he was valued as a 6th or 7th rounder by most. He comes into a tough situation to make the 53 man roster and may have to aim for the practice squad. The Packers return Jordy Nelson, Chris Harper, and Randall Cobb. They drafted Jared Abbrederis and Davante Adams ahead of him and will likely keep them. There is one more roster spot up for grabs so the competition will be fierce but he has a shot to earn it. Worst case he ends up on the practice squad but his speed and size are something worth keeping as the #6 receiver, if they indeed keep 6.
7 250 St. Louis Demetrius Rhaney
With the lack of depth at guard and center and the fact he can play both, it would be shocking if he doesn’t make the 53 man roster or practice squad. Rhaney is a good athlete who did very well in the postseason, which ultimately got him drafted.
7 252 Cincinnati Lavelle Westbrooks
This will be a tough roster for him to make with Dre Kirkpatrick, Chris Lewis-Harris, Leon Hall, Adam Jones, and Onterio McCalebb on the roster but he has the talent that he should make the practice squad. Westbrooks is a raw player with a lot of ability who is ideal for a practice squad. His 40 time at the combine had me leaning towards a priority free agent projection on him but the Bengals are looking to stock up at corner and he potentially gives them quality depth.
7 255 Atlanta Tyler Starr
Starr should make this roster to join fellow rookie draft pick Marquis Spruill on the 53 man roster. They didn’t have great depth last year and he has better physical tools than a few returning linebackers on this roster. If he can learn the playbook, he should make this roster.
Below is a look at where the small schoolers came off the board and my top 25 undrafted small schoolers.
|SMALL SCHOOL DRAFT BOARD|
|Rank||Rd||Pick||Team||Pos||First Name||Last Name||School||Rd. Proj.|
|1||2||62||New England||QB||Jimmy||Garoppolo||Eastern Illinois||2nd|
|7||3||67||Miami||OT||Billy||Turner||North Dakota State||4th|
|15||5||143||Tampa Bay||OG||Kadeem||Edwards||Tennessee State||6th|
|33||6||190||Miami||WO||Charles “Matt”||Hazel||Coastal Carolina||7th-PFA|
|18||6||195||NY Jets||DC||Brandon||Dixon||Northwest Missouri State||6th-7th|
|13||6||198||New England||DE||Zach||Moore||Concordia St. Paul||6th|
|149||7||226||St. Louis||OT||Mitchell||Van Dyk||Portland State||FA|
|24||7||236||Green Bay||WO||Jeffrey “Jeff”||Janis||Saginaw Valley State||7th|
|62||7||250||St. Louis||OC||Demetrius||Rhaney||Tennessee State||PFA|
|TOP 25 UNDRAFTED SMALL SCHOOLERS|
|3||Signed||St. Louis||DE||Ethan||Westbrooks||West Texas A&M||5th-6th|
|6||Signed||San Diego||WO||Torrence||Allen||West Texas A&M||7th|
|7||Signed||Oakland||OB||Carlos||Fields Jr.||Winston Salem State||7th|
|9||Signed||Dallas||QB||Dustin||Vaughan||West Texas A&M||7th|
|10||Signed||Jacksonville||OT||Joshua “Josh”||Wells||James Madison||7th|
|13||Signed||Jacksonville||H-Back||Reginald “Reggie”||Jordan||Missouri Western State||7th-PFA|
|14||Signed||NY Giants||DE||Kerry||Wynn Jr.||Richmond||7th-PFA|
|16||Signed||Green Bay||NT||Michael “Mike”||Pennel||CSU-Pueblo||7th-PFA|
|20||Signed||New Orleans||OC||Matt||Armstrong||Grand Valley State||PFA|
|21||Signed||San Diego||OB||Colton||Underwood||Illinois State||PFA|
|22||Signed||New Orleans||TE||Nicholas “Nic”||Jacobs||McNeese State||PFA|
|23||Signed||New Orleans||OH||Tim||Flanders||Sam Houston State||PFA|
27 of 32 NFL teams have drafted small prospects over the last 3 years. Only Buffalo, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, and Tennessee have passed on small prospects while Baltimore leads all teams with 8 picks, St. Louis is second with 7 and Green Bay third with 6 over the last 3 years.