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2024 NFL Draft Day 3 Recap: Patriots, Eagles add talent depth

Panthers kick off Round Four by selecting TE Ja’Tavion Sanders

One of my favorite tight ends of this year's class, Ja'Tavion Sanders, came off the board a little later than expected but may have found a good home in Carolina. Selected as the TE4 of this year's class, Sanders is a field-stretching tight end who totaled 99-1295-7 over his last two seasons and averaged a solid 9.0 ADOT. His 1.75 YPRR for his career ranks 18th amongst 74 tight end prospects since 2021.

Sanders looks athletic on tape but underwhelmed at the NFL Scouting Combine. His 4.69 40-yard dash was fine, but as an undersized tight end (6'4/245), he struggled in explosiveness drills and earned a barely above-average 5.75 RAS.

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Fortunately for Sanders, the Panthers have a thin tight end. He should have ample opportunities to earn a role before the start of the season.

Broncos stop Troy Franklin’s slide, draft WR with pick 102

One of the more inexplicable slides of this year's draft was that of Oregon's Troy Franklin. A lanky receiver at 6-foot-2, 178 pounds, Franklin ran a solid 4.41 40-yard dash at the combine and was viewed by many as an early Day 2 pick. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein comped the former Duck to Saints wide receiver Chris Olave.

Now in Denver, Franklin, who averaged 16.0 YPR over his final two seasons, reunites with teammate and No. 12 overall pick Bo Nix. With Courtland Sutton's future with the team somewhat up in the air, it's possible Franklin will find a role sooner rather than later despite his fourth-round status. There's also no guarantee Sean Payton plays second-year receiver Marvin Mims more, despite moving up to select him in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

There are multiple paths that could lead to Franklin earning a role early in camp. He should be a solid late-round selection in season-long leagues and best-ball drafts.

Patriots bolster WR corps with UCF’s Javon Baker

In less than 48 hours as a Patriot, No. 3 overall pick Drake Maye saw his team add more weapons for him than they did in three years for the now-departed Mac Jones. After nabbing Ja'Lynn Polk with the 37th overall pick on Friday, the Patriots ran things back early in the fourth round with the selection of UCF's Javon Baker.

Baker averaged 21.9 YPR in his final season with the Knights and totaled 1,935 yards and 12 touchdowns in his final two seasons after transferring from Alabama after the 2021 season. Baker brings good size (6'1/202) and athleticism (7.84 RAS) to the receiver position and caught 56.4 percent of his contested targets for his career. He played 80.7 percent of his career snaps out wide and could make a strong push for snaps in a Patriots wide receiver room led by veteran Kendrick Bourne.

Ravens draft North Carolina WR Devontez Walker 113th overall

Devontez Walker is a fourth-year prospect who spent two seasons at Kent State (2021-2022) before transferring to North Carolina in 2023. Walker missed four games at the start of last season due to the NCAA declaring him ineligible for being a "two-time transfer." The decision — deemed ridiculous by all — was eventually overturned, and Walker wound up totaling 41 receptions for 699 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games with the Tar Heels.

Walker broke out in 2022 at Kent State and averaged an impressive 16.8 YPR for his career. His 2.38 YPRR ranks 36th amongst 129 prospects since 2022, while his 17.5 career ADOT is good for the fifth highest. He's a pure outside receiver who could have a chance to see action in 11 personnel early with Odell Beckham Jr. now gone. Still, he'll need to outperform veterans Rashod Bateman and Nelson Agholor if he hopes to earn those reps.

We wouldn't count on Walker to deliver much as a rookie, but an impressive 2024 could lead to a more significant role in 2025.

Dolphins select Tennessee speedster Jaylen Wright

One of the league's fastest backfields added another element of speed when the Dolphins selected Jaylen Wright with the 120th overall pick. Wright (5'10/210) blazed a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine and had fantasy managers excited heading into draft weekend.

While that excitement shouldn't be dulled, expectations for 2024 should be tempered as long as Raheem Mostert and De'Von Achane are present and healthy. We'd expect both Mostert and Achane to see the majority of backfield touches early in the season, but Wright, who rushed for 282-1888-14 over his final two seasons, will be ready should either back miss time.

In addition to his high-end speed, Wright proved elite at creating yards after contact over the last two years (4.04 YCO/ATT) and forced a missed tackle on 28.0 percent of his carries. Wright's fourth-round draft capital and RB3 status in a talented backfield will suppress his ADP. Still, Wright has a chance to be a high-upside stash behind two running backs with notable injury histories.

Eagles draft Clemson satellite back Will Shipley to pair with Saquon Barkley

It's hard to get excited about a running back playing behind Saquon Barkley, but I wouldn't be too quick to write off the impact Will Shipley could make as a rookie. While we shouldn't expect him to see many early-down touches over Barkley, Shipley could eventually work into the mix on select passing downs on an Eagles team known for rotating its backs. However, it is worth noting that the Eagles haven't had a back of Barkley's caliber in quite some time. He's also fresh off signing a three-year, $37.75 million contract.

Nevertheless.

During his three years at Clemson, Shipley caught 84 passes for 584 yards and two touchdowns, but he did struggle at times to create after the catch. His 8.6 YAC/REC and 7.0 YPR both rank near the bottom amongst running back prospects over the last five years.

Shipley is an elite athlete who earned a 9.58 RAS at Clemson's pro day. In addition to blazing a 4.45 40-yard dash, he also showed elite explosiveness in both the vertical and broad jumps and posted a shifty 6.88 time in the three-cone drill.

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He'll have more appeal in dynasty leagues than in 2024 season-long leagues, but Shipley faces little competition behind Barkley. Kenneth Gainwell is the incumbent veteran, but he saw a 42 percent snap share compared to D'Andre Swift's 58 percent snap share and never saw more than nine opportunities in a game after Week 2.

The decision to add Shipley to the mix looks like a thinly veiled attempt to move on from Gainwell if the rookie outperforms him.

Saints select South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler in Round Five

With so many teams desperate for a quarterback, some thought Spencer Rattler would hear his name called on Day 2. Instead, the former South Carolina Gamecock, once thought to be the consensus 1.01 of the 2022 NFL Draft, slipped all the way to the fifth round and will have a chance to battle Jake Haener for the right to be Derek Carr's backup.

The arm talent has always been evident with Rattler, who broke out as a redshirt freshman at Oklahoma in 2020 when he threw for 3031-28-7 while completing 67.5 percent of his passes. However, in 2021, he was eventually benched in favor of Caleb Williams and transferred to South Carolina for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

A lack of offensive weaponry and poor offensive line play made life difficult for Rattler in the SEC. In two seasons with the Gamecocks, he threw for 6,215-37-20 yards and averaged an ADOT of 7.5 yards. A quarterback with a big-time throw rate of 9.4 percent in 2020 saw that number reduced to 2.9 percent in 2023, looking like a shell of his former self for much of the season.

He's nothing more than a dynasty stash at this time, but with Derek Carr not long for the Saints beyond the next few years, Rattler could be a valuable asset in the long term if he returns to his old form.

Tyrone Tracy Jr. joins Giants backfield

Purdue's Tyrone Tracy Jr. was already one of the more intriguing backs heading into the draft, and he caught the attention of fantasy managers when the Giants selected him with the 166th pick.

A former wide receiver turned running back, Tracy has only one year of experience at the position but rushed for 114-714-8 while averaging 4.44 YCO/ATT and forcing a missed tackle on 40.4 percent of his attempts. It's a small sample size, but Tracy's 39 percent missed tackles forced rate for his career is tied with the likes of Javonte Williams, Bijan Robinson, and 2024 second-round pick Trey Benson — an impressive feat even for a back with just 148 career carries to his name.

Tracy caught 112 passes for his career, with 19 of those receptions coming as a running back last season. For a player with the ability to make defenders miss, Tracy's 6.8 YAC/REC and 7.3 YPR from last season leave much to be desired, but it doesn't make him any less interesting as a player.

Tracy ran an impressive 4.48 40-yard dash at the combine and earned an overall RAS of 9.78, proving to be an elite athlete at his position.

Given his draft capital, Tracy will need to earn his way onto the field this season. He'll also be stuck behind Devin Singletary, who played under head coach Brian Daboll during their days in Buffalo. With that said, the Giants' backfield is thin. Second-year running back Eric Gray and fourth-year special teams ace Gary Brightwell are all that stand between Tracy and an early RB2 role. While both have more experience at the position than Tracy, neither should be viewed as a lock for meaningful touches.

The athletic measurements and one year of solid production are encouraging. Tracy is a fun late-round dart throw in best ball leagues who could be one back away from making a fantasy impact in his rookie campaign.

Chargers add Kimani Vidal to veteran backfield

There were few Day 3 running backs I liked more than Troy's Kimani Vidal. I highlighted some encouraging metrics for him in March after he turned in a solid combine and earned himself an 8.84 RAS.

The Chargers used the 181st pick in the draft to add Vidal to a backfield that features 29-year-old Gus Edwards and an injury-riddled J.K. Dobbins, who is attempting to return from a torn Achilles suffered last September. Dobbins also suffered a torn ACL in 2021.

Vidal will be knocked for doing his damage in the Sun Belt Conference. Still, the high-end efficiency metrics and an ability to catch passes (91 career receptions) could make him a tremendous fit in what's expected to be a run-heavy scheme under Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

The Chargers' backfield is littered with the kind of backs we'd hope to see compete against a talented Day 3 running back. Vidal will need to work for every opportunity in camp, but there's a legitimate possibility he looks like the best Chargers back in camp this summer.

New Hampshire RB Dylan Laube goes in Round Six to the Raiders

Dylan Laube is a small-school prospect who spent six years with the New Hampshire Wildcats. During that time, Laube amassed more than 2,600 yards and 28 touchdowns on the ground and added another 155-1654-14 through the air while averaging a solid 10.7 YPR.

His abilities as a dual threat out of the backfield caught the attention of scouts, who invited him to the combine, where he ran a 4.54 40-yard dash at 206 pounds and posted an 8.79 RAS.

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The Raiders used the 208th overall pick on Laube, thrusting him into a backfield led by third-year running back Zamir White and former Viking Alexander Mattison. While both backs should be considered favorites to work ahead of Laube on early downs, White and Mattison combined for just 45 receptions last season, and neither was particularly efficient throughout the year.

Laube will see a significant improvement in the competition he faces once he gets to camp, but if he adjusts well, his calling card and what made him an intriguing prospect could come into play. Far from the most impressive runner, his ability to make plays in the passing game and pickup significant yards after the catch could set him apart in the Raiders' backfield.

Amongst 64 FBS and FCS running backs who saw at least 30 targets last season, Laube's 10.4 YPR was good for eighth-best, while his 10.3 YAC/RAC ranked 19th highest among the group.

He's a long way from earning offensive snaps as a rookie, but Laube's third-down abilities, should they translate early to the pro game, could create a path to more playing time. With that said, a knock on his game has been his struggle in pass protection, which tends to go hand-in-hand with seeing third-down opportunities.

Laube also specialized as a returner and returned four kicks/punts for scores in his career. His utility on special teams should boost his chances of making the 53-man roster.

NOTE: Stats and information courtesy of PFF.comRotoViz.com, and SportsReference.com.