Though the highlight reels and storylines may not be as prevalent on days two and three of the NFL Draft, the value in return is unmatched. Rookie starters flow throughout the draft as a trend of Day 1 starters over the past few seasons rise to the upper 20’s with a handful coming in the second and third day of the process.
Scheme fits, opportunities and, of course, talent (physical and mental) all play within the makeup of how quickly a rookie can adapt to the flow of the league. A large group of players have those traits to provide heavy contributions in their first year in the league.
Arizona Cardinals: 3 (72) Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Rumored to comes off the board late in the first round, Arizona finds tremendous value with Jones at 72. With heavy buzz stemming from his performance in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, Jones has the tools to blossom into a Day 1 starter in Arizona. Despite your feelings on if DJ Humphries is worth a long-term contract, Jones will look to be groomed into starting on the right side for time being given Marcus Gilbert’s one-year contract worth just over $1 million.
Brief scouting report: Jones (6-5, 319) sports a massive frame with heavy mitts and a stout lower half. He uses his hands with appropriate placement at all levels of the field and continues to move them throughout the rep to keep balance. Houston’s pass sets didn’t call him to move upfield too often but he proves to be a good enough athlete and accelerator to climb to the second level and be effective in the screen game. He finishes with plus power. He started 45 games at left tackle for the Cougars.
Denver Broncos: 3 (83) Lloyd Cushenberry III, IOL, LSU
Denver came away with a solid class overall with a handful of prospects that can help the team immediately, especially on offense. Cushenberry is definitely part of that list of players that will have early contributions. Denver addressed its center vacancy in free agency when signing Graham Glasgow for the next four years. Even though Cushenberry started 28 games at center for the national champions, his skill set will help provide consistency at right guard. Offensive line coach Mike Munchak will have Cushenberry ready to go in the opener.
Brief scouting report: Cushenberry (6-3, 312) is one of the more powerful linemen in the 2020 NFL Draft class. His burly upper body with tree trunk legs provides the needed girth and anchor to sustain and revert power in both facets of the game. He creates plenty movement in the run game being able to strike with an accurate target followed by finishing ability. His issues come when squaring off with length and quicker defensive linemen with finesse upper body moves but get him moving forward and sitting back in pass protection and he will be just fine.
Minnesota Vikings: 3 (89) Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
Losing three cornerbacks in a free agency period is almost unheard of. Minnesota tackled the need early in the process making Jeff Gladney (TCU) the 31st overall pick but more bodies needed to be added. Head coach Mike Zimmer has the reputation of transforming project talent into heavy contributors and All-Pro candidates. Dantzler has the physical makeup to fit the schematic setting of what Zimmer looks for in his defensive backfield.
Brief scouting report: Despite having a lean frame (6-2, 188), Dantzler doesn’t shy away from physical matchups. He embraces contact with a sense of confidence and aggression. He likes to play hero ball in which it will sometimes get him in trouble but have to respect his aggressive attitude. Dantzler plays with above average anticipation with the high intellect to jump routes for pass breakups. His speed is concerning as he clocked in with a 4.64 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Buffalo Bills: 4 (128) Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF
With its original first round pick, wide receiver was the primary need for Buffalo. With its addition of Stefon Diggs in exchange for a first round pick and some change, the anxiety of the need dramatically dropped. However, more members to the WR corps. was needed. Working on building the basketball team of receivers, Buffalo did just that with Davis shaping out the versatility of roles within the unit. Davis brings a vertical, physical threat that Buffalo lacked a season ago.
Brief scouting report: Davis (6-2, 216) showcases big-play ability with an attractive combination of size and speed. He’s not a fluid route runner but has the subtleties with the nimble feet to create enough separation to burst downfield. He struggled with some drops in 2019 but overall sports an attractive catch radius and does well in contested situations.
Baltimore Ravens: 4 (143) Ben Bredeson, OG, Michigan
Naturally, when a player of high caliber retires, an organization wants to act as quickly as possible to find his replacement. Marshal Yanda’s effectiveness may never be matched, but Bredeson’s grit, consistency and translatable skill set gives the Ravens a comfortable prospect that can help mend the blow of the hall of famer. Though Lamar Jackson’s slashing ability may state otherwise, Baltimore enjoys pounding the ball in between the tackles with hard-nosed linemen and Bredeson fits the bill.
Brief scouting report: He won’t blow you away with exceptional athleticism, but he won’t lose battles despite the inefficiencies. He (6-5, 314) packs a punch at the point of attack and has the lower body anchor to withstand initial contact from power rushers. He shows proper hand placement to distribute his weight and redirect the path of his matchup.
Dallas Cowboys: 4 (146) Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
It’s only natural to depart with one Wisconsin center (Travis Frederick) and draft another. How many times did you hear that when Biadasz was selected? Dallas traded with division foe Philadelphia to get the three-year starter and couldn’t be happier. Biadasz has the game experience and intellect to be a Day 1 starter in an offense that needs some reassurance in the interior.
Brief scouting report: Biadasz (6-4, 314) plays with appropriate leverage and contact balance. He will occasionally get uprooted given his shorter length, but he shows the recovery ability to sink and sustain. Once he is engaged, he is not going to budge. He showcases hand technique and balanced footwork. His game experience correlates to his high football IQ with awareness of coverages and blitzes.
A few others…
New Orleans Saints: 3 (105) Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton
Jacksonville Jaguars: 4 (137) Josiah Scott, CB, Michigan State
Las Vegas Raiders: 4 (139) Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech
Baltimore Ravens: 6 (201) James Proche, WR, SMU