The things people do for a good deal on Black Friday amazes me. Whatever it is about a heavily discounted purchase that forces people to cut short Thanksgiving with their families, camp in parking lots and trample others while stampeding into a store is not something that connects with me.
What does resonate with me is getting a steal on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. If teams draft wisely and do their homework, hitting on early picks should be the norm. But coming away with major contributions from picks on Day 3 is the mark of a good scouting department.
There have been several Day 3 selections from the 2018 NFL Draft that have rewarded their respective teams investments. Let’s examine the best 5 so far.
DL Da’Shawn Hand, Detroit Lions (Round 4, Pick No. 114)
Hand’s Alabama pedigree has prepared him well to step in right away as a prominent piece of the Lions defensive line. Making plays as both a run defender and pass rusher, Hand’s play strength and technical refinement has allowed him to make an immediate impact.
Hand is a gap-sound defender that has played all along the defensive line for Detroit. His versatility and balanced skill set is highly valuable and Hand’s not just been a Day 3 steal but among the top performing rookies regardless of where they were drafted.
DL Maurice Hurst, Oakland Raiders (Round 5, Pick No. 140)
Hurst was always a first-round talent but concerns over his heart condition destroyed his draft stock. Oakland was comfortable investing a fifth rounder on him and he has rewarded the Raiders with first-round caliber play.
Hurst is an athletic, penetration-style interior defender that is capable of wrecking the line of scrimmage. Should everything remain satisfactory with his heart, Hurst has the upside to become one of the NFL’s top playmaking defensive tackles.
CB Taron Johnson, Buffalo Bills (Round 4, Pick No. 121)
Johnson immediately won the starting slot corner job for the Bills and he’s been sensational for the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense and No. 2 defense overall.
One of my favorite sleepers in last year’s class, Johnson is grading out as a top-15 corner for PFF. Johnson is excelling in coverage like a seasoned pro. He is matching up in the slot, offering the versatility to pattern-match in man coverage while showing terrific awareness with his spacing as a zone defender. He is a physical and aggressive run defender that already has a sack, forced fumble, interception and 3 pass breakups this season.
LB Genard Avery, Cleveland Browns (Round 5, Pick No.150)
Factoring in as a starter and sometimes rotational player, Avery has been a productive playmaker for the Browns’ defense despite having to wait until the fifth-round to hear his name called in April.
Avery is an athletic specimen who has found production as both a pass rusher and run defender. His motor is unrelenting which blends with supreme athletic ability to make plays on the field. He is still developing in pass coverage and his processing skills but he’s an exciting defensive chess piece given his traits.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers (Round 5, Pick No. 174)
Valdes-Scantling needed considerable development coming out of college which pushed him to the fifth round but pairing a 6-foot-4 and 206 lbs receiver that has 4.37 speed with Aaron Rodgers was a good idea. What Rodgers can do with the football accelerated Valdes-Scantling’s ability to contribute and he’s found terrific production of late.
Valdez-Scantling only caught 1 pass in Green Bay’s first three games but has tallied 23 receptions for 407 yards and 2 TDs over the last seven games. With veterans Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison set to become free agents at the end of the season, Valdes-Scantling has the makings of a viable starter alongside Davante Adams.
TE Chris Herndon, New York Jets (Round 4, Pick No. 107)
DL Bilal Nichols, Chicago Bears (Round 5, Pick No. 145)
DB Avonte Maddox, Philadelphia Eagles (Round 4, Pick No. 125)