Every year, there are selections made in the NFL draft that leave fans and media members alike scratching their heads. That includes college football writers.
Yahoo Sports college football writers Nick Bromberg and Sam Cooper have watched as much college football as anybody over the past couple years. Below they made their selections for the players they believed were picked too high and too low in this year’s draft based on their college football production.
Overdrafted: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Round 1, Pick 6 – New York Giants
Here’s the thing with Daniel Jones. He’s one of those guys where if you watch him long enough, you can see what a team like the Giants likes about him. He has size and toughness. He’s more athletic than you’d expect. He throws the ball with nice touch and accuracy, especially on intermediate routes. But No. 6 overall? Picked before Dwayne Haskins? If you would have told any close follower of college football either of those things a few months ago, they would have said you were crazy. Jones could very well become an average starter, but at no point has he ever flashed the potential of second QB taken overall.
- Sam Cooper
Underdrafted: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Round 2, Pick 10 (No. 42 overall) – Denver Broncos
If Jones was overdrafted at No. 6 then it’s easy to see how Lock was a steal at No. 42 by the Denver Broncos. Look, we have no idea how this draft class of quarterbacks — or anyone for that matter — will pan out in the NFL. But Lock has a stronger arm than Jones and, quite frankly, had much better college production than Jones did as well. He just didn’t play for Eli Manning’s college coach.
Lock will do well to sit for a year in Denver, though if Joe Flacco’s balky back acts up or he struggles, Denver fans will want to see what Lock can do. The best-case scenario is that doesn’t happen until 2020 and Lock has plenty of time to take lots of snaps under center to appease Elway’s quarterback preferences.
- Nick Bromberg
Underdrafted: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Round 2, Pick 14 (No. 46 overall) – Cleveland Browns
This one was shocking. There is no way that Greedy Williams is the seventh-best cornerback in this draft. Williams has the size you’re looking for at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. He can turn his hips and run with speedy wideouts and also has the physicality to stay in position against bigger receivers. He led the SEC in interceptions as a redshirt freshman and teams knew not to throw his way last season.
So why did Williams fall? There were some grumblings about how he handled the pre-draft process and concerns about his willingness as a tackler. A few years from now, Williams will be considered a steal when you compare him to a few of the corners selected before him. (Cooper)
Underdrafted: Irv Smith, TE, Alabama
Round 2, Pick 18 (No. 50 overall) – Minnesota Vikings
Smith was projected by many to be off the board in the first round. Instead he went after both Iowa tight ends and 30 picks after Noah Fant went at No. 20 to the Denver Broncos. Smith was better than O.J. Howard was at Alabama and had 44 catches for 710 yards in 2018. You know Alabama tight ends have to block too, so it’s not like Smith is simply a pass-catching tight end. He should be worth the pick for the Vikings. (Bromberg)
Overdrafted: Drew Sample, TE, Washington
Round 2, Pick 20 (No. 52 overall) – Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals must really like Sample’s blocking ability. Sample was the fourth TE off the board when Cincinnati took him at No. 52. In an NFL that’s increasingly moving toward pass-catching tight ends, Sample does not fit that bill. At least based on his college production. He had just 46 catches for 487 yards in his 28-game career. Maybe the Bengals are wanting to run the ball a lot more and Sample fits in those plans. After all, the team did take two running backs later in the draft. (Bromberg)
Overdrafted: Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia
Round 2, Pick 24 (No. 56) – Kansas City Chiefs
Did the Chiefs reach to grab Hardman as a potential replacement for Tyreek Hill? Hardman was a five-star recruit in the 2016 class, but was recruited as an athlete. He began his career as a DB before transitioning into a speed receiver at Georgia. His college totals look like this: 60 catches, 961 yards and 11 touchdowns. UGA used him on a lot of jet sweeps and quick throws and sent him deep as a kick returner. Hardman has top-flight speed, but I’m a little skeptical that will translate to for a guy who may not run the crispest routes. KC is going to have to scheme things up to get him the ball in space. The upside is certainly there, but it may take Hardman a while to produce the way Chiefs fans are hoping. (Cooper)
Overdrafted: Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor
Round 3, Pick 3 (No. 67) – San Francisco 49ers
Jalen Hurd has boom or bust written all over him. Hurd’s college journey is well-documented. He was a five-star running back for Tennessee who rushed for 2,635 yards in three seasons for the Vols. But at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, he thought he would be better project as a wide receiver at the next level. He transferred to Baylor and caught 69 passes for 946 yards in his lone season as a wideout. Nobody doubts Hurd’s talents, but he has plenty of work to do technically to refine his game as a receiver. That’s why many believe the 49ers will use him as a multi-use offensive weapon more than just at receiver. Still, he’s very far from a sure thing. (Cooper)
Underdrafted: David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
Round 3, Pick 9 (No. 73) – Chicago Bears
After trading away Jordan Howard, the Bears had to be thrilled that David Montgomery fell in their laps early in the third round. Montgomery was a focal point at Iowa State for three years, putting up 2,925 yards and 26 TDs rushing along with 71 catches for 582 yards in the passing game. Montgomery has a knack for picking up extra yards in tight spaces, is a solid receiver out of the backfield and is an asset in pass protection. Montgomery perhaps doesn’t have the star potential of a guy like Miles Sanders, but it’s hard to see him being anything other than reliably productive as a pro. (Cooper)
Underdrafted: Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State
Round 3, Pick 19 (No. 83) – Pittsburgh Steelers
After losing Le’Veon Bell in free agency and trading away Antonio Brown, the Steelers took defenders with two of their first three picks. After drafting Michigan LB Devin Bush in round one, Layne was the team’s third-round choice at No. 83. Layne, projected as a possible top-five corner in the draft, ended up being the 10th corner taken.
Layne had just two interceptions over the last two seasons but that’s a bit of a fluke — he had 23 passes defensed in that same time period. He was one of the best defensive players on the Spartans in that time period and it’s easy to see him stepping in as a significant contributor right away. (Bromberg)
Overdrafted: Alexander Mattison, RB, Boise State
Round 3, Pick 39 (No. 102) – Minnesota Vikings
Mattison was picked way ahead of guys like Justice Hill, Benny Snell, Trayveon Williams and 10 picks ahead of Bryce Love. Mattison rushed for 1,415 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2018 but averaged less than five yards a carry in an offense that also featured quarterback Brett Rypien. It’s not like teams were loading the box against Boise State knowing the passing attack couldn’t beat them over the top. Mattison could turn out to be a perfectly fine NFL running back. But 102 feels high when there were so many other good backs available. Especially for a team like Minnesota who isn’t exactly starving for running backs. (Bromberg)
Underdrafted: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame
Round 4, Pick 6 (No. 108) – New York Giants
While the Giants were rightly panned for the Daniel Jones pick, they made some really nice choices as the draft progressed. This is one of them. Julian Love had 36 passes defended over his last two seasons with the Irish and is a corner who gets praise for his technique and smarts as opposed to elite speed. Anybody who watched the College Football Playoff semifinal game against Clemson knows what Love meant to the Notre Dame defense. As soon as he came off the field with an injury, Clemson was able to torch the Irish secondary. Love will find a way to make an impact right away for the Giants. (Cooper)
Underdrafted: Benny Snell, RB, Kentucky
Round 4, Pick 20 (No. 122) - Pittsburgh Steelers
Benny Snell and James Conner in the same backfield for the Pittsburgh Steelers is a college football fan’s dream scenario. Snell was one of the most likeable and productive players in college football in 2018 as he ran for 1,449 yards and 16 scores in Kentucky’s ground-based offense. Yeah, the 500+ carries he’s amassed over the last two seasons is likely a concern for NFL teams as is his lack of receiving ability, but it’s impossible to argue if a team had chosen Snell 30 picks earlier. (Bromberg)
Underdrafted: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
Round 5, Pick 17 (No. 155) - Cleveland Browns
If you’re an avid consumer of mock drafts you probably saw Wilson as a first-round pick in a few of them. Instead he went at No. 155 to the Cleveland Browns. Wilson had 65 tackles in 2018 for Alabama and has the chance to be a three-down linebacker in the NFL. At the very least, he should be a contributor on special teams right away for a Browns team that enters 2019 as one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL. (Bromberg)
Underdrafted: Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M
Round 6, Pick 9 (No. 182) - Cincinnati Bengals
Don’t be surprised if Williams ends up being the featured back at some point this season for the Bengals. He was the man who carried the Texas A&M offense in 2018 with 271 carries for 1,760 yards. That’s 6.5 yards a carry in a schedule that featured SEC West opponents. Pretty dang good.
Yet Williams lasted until the sixth round. He was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals, who also took Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson. Anderson flashed skills that put him in a class with Williams and others as the best running backs in college football but he suffered myriad injuries in college. The Bengals did a good job getting running back value. (Bromberg)
Undrafted free agents
David Sills, WR, West Virginia - Buffalo Bills
By now you know Sills’ story. He was the kid offered as a middle-school quarterback by then-USC coach Lane Kiffin who ended up turning into a star wide receiver at West Virginia.
But despite some massive production over the last two seasons, Sills was not picked on Saturday and ended up signing as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills. He still needs some work as a route-runner and perhaps NFL teams didn’t think his red zone production would translate to the pros. But boy, was that red zone production prolific. Sills averaged over 15 yards a catch in 2017 and 2018 and scored 33 touchdowns. He could stick somewhere. (Bromberg)
Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson - Dallas Cowboys
Consider this: A tackle who was a four-year starter on a team that wins two national titles and was selected as a first-team All-American on two occasions didn’t get picked at all in the NFL draft.
Crazy. NFL teams clearly didn’t see what they wanted from Hyatt over four years, though it’s worth wondering if being a four-year starter hurt him because there was so much game tape compared to a guy who teams could consider a project with just a season or two of tape. Anyway, Hyatt agreed to free-agent deal with the Atlanta Falcons, a team that needs some line help. He could end up making the team. (Bromberg)
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