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2018 NFL Draft: late round targets who are just as good as higher prospects

Lower-round draft picks that can fill the same roles as some of the more highly touted prospects.

One of the frustrating aspects of being a fan of the NFL draft is that popular analysis is fixated on the NFL Draft’s first round. While the first round is significant, for obvious reasons, prospects that are drafted in rounds two through seven make up the bulk of a team’s draft class and ultimately determine if that class was above-average or a complete bust. To that end, and inspired by a series of weight loss books, I wanted to highlight prospects that can fill similar niches to more hyped prospects and won’t cost much draft capital to boot.

Draft QB Mike White in the fourth, not Mason Rudolph in the second

Mike White and Mason Rudolph are strikingly similar prospects. Both are 6’4”, over 220 pounds, seniors, and come from simplified college spread systems. But while the Oklahoma State quarterback struggles with the mental and anticipatory aspects of the position, White is light-years ahead of him in that regard. At the Senior Bowl, White was routinely able to look off safeties and fire the ball into tight windows.

Draft WR Jaleel Scott in the fifth, not Courtland Sutton in the first

There were hopes that Sutton would run a 4.50, or better, 40-yard dash time at the combine. Unfortunately for him, Sutton recorded a time 4.54 which will not quiet the doubts raised about his speed. That time was virtually the same as another big-bodied wideout, New Mexico State’s Jaleel Scott, who ran a 4.56 40. It’s clear that neither player has the speed or route-running ability to threaten corners on the outside. But if you’re looking for a huge target in the intermediate area of the field or in the red zone, Scott will fare just as well as Sutton.

Draft DT Deadrin Senat in the third, not Vita Vea in the first

Vita Vea is a bear against the run, but his pass rushing skills are severely lacking. Because of his athleticism, there is a lot of hope for growth, which is why teams view him as a first round prospect. Senat is some 20 pounds lighter than Vea, but is equally effective against the run. His bowling ball-like frame and brute strength allow him to stay low and out-leverage opponents. Senat will never be a dominant interior pass rusher, but there’s no guarantee Vea will be either.

Draft LB Oren Burks in the fifth, not Jerome Baker in the second

Rangy linebackers that can cover are all the rage in the NFL nowadays. The need for one routinely outstrips the supply, which leads to the elevation of average players like Baker. For all his purported speed and ball skills in coverage, Baker never really impacted football games in 2017. I think the word to describe his play would be “soft.” Burks, on the other hand, offers just as much athleticism in coverage, but actually has the desire to tackle and participate against the run.

Draft RB Justin Jackson in the sixth, not Mark Walton in the third

Walton and Jackson would fit snugly into an outside zone rushing attack. While Walton has straight-line speed on his side, Jackson has the patience and polish that is tailor-made for that type of scheme. As a pass catcher, Jackson may be the most pro-ready target in the draft. Walton is also somewhat of an injury risk, as he dealt with a season-ending ankle injury his senior year.

Note: if you are reading this in Apple News, you won’t be able to see the embedded GIFs. Click through to the site to watch the prospects.