NFL Draft Day 3 and Undrafted Free Agent Steals

Day 3 of the NFL Draft has two important parts. Round 4 kicks off around lunchtime and over the next several hours, teams fill out their rosters with players who will have to fight for bottom of the roster spots.

Once the final pick in the 7th round, known as Mr. Irrelevant, is chosen, a frenzy begins. Teams get on the phones and scramble to sign rookies who slipped through the draft. These players have an uphill battle to even make the team’s practice squad, let alone the active roster. Many are developmental players who have certain physical skills but raw football instincts. Most will find their way to different jobs, different leagues, and different practice squads. But every so often there’s a James Harrison, Tony Romo, Antonio Gates, or Kurt Warner.

Dawand Jones, OL, Browns – Round 4 (Pick 111)

An absolute mountain of a person. At the combine, Jones measured 6’8″ and 374 pounds with 36-3/8 inch arms. Since arm length has been measured, that’s top 20 in NFL history. Why does that matter? Because an offensive tackle with that arm length who uses his hands well is practically unstoppable. Pass rush moves are pointless if 36 inch arms get under your pads. It may take him some time to develop enough as a pass blocker to play the left side, but he could be a dominant run blocking right tackle from the start, especially for a run-heavy team like Cleveland.

Nick Herbig, Edge, Steelers – Round 4 (Pick 132)

If you’re hoping to get around a tackle’s 36 inch arms, you need an edge rusher who’s proficient at keeping hands off him. Herbig is already skilled at keeping linemen out of his pads, he has good speed and a quick first step, and he has the strength and form needed to hold the edge against the run. He couldn’t have possibly landed in a better spot than Pittsburgh. At 6’2″ and 240, he may be asked to bulk up a bit, but it may not be completely necessary. Being on the shorter side of edge rushers, it’s possible the Steelers will prefer to have him maintain his size to keep his acceleration and bend. It’s also possible he’s moved off-ball, but that would be a waste of his pass rushing skills.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, Browns – Round 5 (Pick 140)

Prediction time: Thompson-Robinson will be the Browns starting quarterback by 2025 after they figure out a way to lessen the blow from Deshaun Watson‘s contract. DTR has a solid arm and a great feel for receivers, as well as phenomenal athleticism and running ability.

Owen Pappoe, LB, Cardinals – Round 5 (Pick 168)

This isn’t a surprising, unknown name to anyone who watched the NFL combine. Pappoe ran a 4.39 40 with a 1.52 split. Then to convince anyone worried he’s just an undersized burner, he put up 29 bench reps. It may take him some time to develop proper NFL-level instincts so he doesn’t get swallowed up, but in the meantime, he has the kind of straight-line speed to make outside run plays impossible for offenses. He doesn’t need to make the right first step to be an immediate contributor. Just the second one, and he’ll make up ground in a flash.

Jose Ramirez, Edge, Buccaneers – Round 6 (Pick 196)

Similar to Herbig, Ramirez has great hands and a solid first step, but he’s also similarly undersized. What Ramirez brings is great change of direction (sub-7 seconds in 3-cone drill) and natural instincts for redirecting when the QB steps up in the pocket. He’ll need time to develop against the run, but he can contribute on passing downs right away.

Andrei Iosivas, WR, Bengals – Round 6 (Pick 206)

I’ve been telling myself if he lasted just one more pick, the Packers obviously would’ve taken him instead of a kicker. But alas, I don’t actually believe that. Give this kid the time to develop a deeper route tree, and you’ll start hearing his name. Being in a WR room with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd will help him develop. While those guys may make it hard to get reps, Cincinnati can’t pay them all once Joe Burrow gets his bag. A few years down the road, expect to hear a lot about Iosivas. He’s the ideal combination of size and athleticism to go along with natural deep ball instincts and jump ball skills.

Zack Kuntz, TE, Jets – Round 7 (Pick 220)

Welcome to the NFL, you’ll be catching passes from Aaron Rodgers. No pressure. Then again, he may not be ready to make a significant impact while Rodgers is still playing. Even so, for a 7th round flier, this is a phenomenal stash pick. Kuntz is a 6′ 7″ giant, with a 40 inch vertical. He also ran a 4.55 40 and 6.87 3-cone. He hasn’t played enough football to develop the natural instincts he’ll need at the NFL level, so this is definitely a project pick. Still, the upside is immense. Kuntz may never be much of a run blocker, but it’s always possible to get him to a point where he’s not too much of a liability in the run game so the team can take advantage of his size and athleticism.

Isaiah Bolden, CB, Patriots – Round 7 (Pick 245)

Bolden was the only draft pick out of an HBCU school, a fact that wasn’t lost on his former Jackson State coach, Deion Sanders. While some of his skills are still raw, Bolden’s sky high ceiling really should’ve taken him off the board much sooner than this. He’s a prototypical 6’2″, 203 with long arms and 3a 8 inch vertical. Sprinkle on a 4.31 40 and you have to wonder how such an athletic marvel was almost forgotten. He’ll take some time to develop as a corner, but he can return kicks right away. In 2021, he averaged a nation-best 36.9 yards/kick return. The only reason he didn’t continue returning kicks last season is because Deion wanted him to focus on playing corner. He’s got the agility to cover slot, the speed to cover outside, and even the size to play safety if they want. This was a big miss by the rest of the league.

Malik Cunningham, QB, Patriots – Undrafted

New England made it very clear how much they wanted Cunningham by giving him $200k guaranteed, the most ever for a UDFA in team history. While his skillset has been scrutinized by those hesitant about his future as a QB, Cunningham put those concerns to rest by telling the Pats he’ll play wherever they want him to play. He just wants to get on the field. This is a Bill Belichick player. He’s Pandemic Rice: endlessly versatile and happy to help. Don’t underestimate how important he could be down the road.

Noah Gindorff, TE, Seahawks – Undrafted

Gindorff is the anti-Zack Kuntz. He doesn’t have elite athleticism or pass-catching potential. But he can block. At 6’6″, 268, he’s a huge presence that could see the field early as a blocker in 2-TE sets. That is, if they keep him as a tight end. There was some pre-draft talk that he could potentially take some time to bulk up and play tackle. That should say a lot about what teams think of his blocking skills. He would be a unique, versatile player at either position.

Andre Carter II, Edge, Vikings – Undrafted

It’s difficult to know if the West Point product is ready for the NFL, and it’s unlikely we’ll know anytime soon. But if he does show up, it won’t be with a whimper. The main thing that led to him going undrafted was some underwhelming combine and Pro Day testing, but it’s easy for those numbers to be taken out of context. Carter’s military service put him on a regimen designed to be an Army soldier, not a football player, and yes those are different things. Point is, he’s 6’7″, 260 with quick feet and long arms. The rest is coaching. He only benched 11 reps at the combine and ran a 4.91 40 at his Pro Day. Big deal. He has size, he has smarts, and it stands to reason he has discipline and the desire to improve. If they develop his skills and manage his strength, Carter could go from draft day forgotten to the guy QBs think about the night before the game.

5 thoughts on “NFL Draft Day 3 and Undrafted Free Agent Steals”

  1. Okay my NFL expert, answer me this . . .

    Since I’m only familiar with the kid from UCLA, I have a question regarding the Browns quarterback situation. Would Cleveland have been better off sticking with Baker or had that ship already sailed? Because it seems as if the Watson signing has been a debacle from the get.

    1. I have little doubt they would’ve been better off sticking with Baker. It’s hard to say with certainty because Watson could be great this year and it could all work out for them. But considering the time Watson spent away from football, all the off-the-field issues and character questions, and then the weak performance he gave when his suspension was up… I just see no reason to believe he’ll get back to the form he once was. It’ll take quite a bit to get him off the field, because as much as coaches try to say performance is all that matters, they made too big an investment to send him to the bench. But if he continues to struggle and Thompson-Robinson shows some promise, he could slowly ease his way into fans minds as a solution.

      Baker’s mistake was playing injured. He tried to be the tough guy and play through a shoulder injury, but it was clearly affecting his game and Browns fans turned on him. I hope he lights it up for Tampa.

      1. What a mess Haslam has made of this organization and it’s a shame because the Browns were on the uptick not too long ago.

        I agree with you on Baker. He screwed himself with that decision, and I wish he’d thought better of it but hey, that was and is his makeup. To the better and worse ends of the spectrum.

        1. And that’s something these players need to get out of their head. This tough-it-out machismo thing doesn’t work anymore. If Ray Nitschke played with broken fingers, it was because he was better with broken fingers than his backup was healthy. That’s just not the case in the NFL anymore.

          The Packers slumped when Rodgers played through a broken thumb, the Bills slumped when Allen played through an elbow injury, and the Browns slumped when Baker played through his shoulder injury. But Rodgers and Allen are MVP-level players, so no one is about to tell them to sit down. Baker wasn’t at a level where he could “tough it out” and be forgiven for poor play.

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