Everyone expects a #Stud in the first round. If you're picking high, you damn well better walk away with a football player who can change the course of your franchise and play multiple contracts with your team.
It sounds nice, doesn't it? We all know it doesn't work out that way in reality. Teams reach on upside, they misjudge character concerns, they gloss over weaknesses...it happens. But you know what else happens? The magic of Day 3 provides a gift or two every, single year. The players who land in the perfect situation and rise above the odds, despite not being picked through the Draft's first three round.
This week's Studs & Duds is dedicated to you, the little guys. The Day 3 prospects everyone is sleeping on...or the Day 1/2 players who need to get kicked back into the final day of the Draft. To be clear: I have 4th-Round grades or later in each of the following players. It's just a question of whether or not I like their skills relative to the consensus.
STUD - Cornerback Tim Harris, Virginia
If you ignore the fact that Tim Harris has been on the Van Wilder college plan, woo nelly. Harris has been at Virginia for six years, or approximately one year less than how long it took our first dud to run the 40.
Harris is violent. He's a strong mover in space and I love his versatility on the back end. Health concerns are, of course, a concern...but his football IQ really pops off the screen at you. It's hard to be impressive in a secondary that includes Safety Juan Thornhill and 2020 CB1 Bryce Hall (write it in Sharpie, idc idc). And yet Harris wowed me when I settled in to take a look. There's risk here, but there's also reward.
DUD - Running Back Elijah Holyfield, Georgia
Goodnight, sweet prince. I entered with the Combine certain you'd wrap up a top grade at the position and make a solid case to be a potential early down back in a pro rotation. And then you underwent the athletic testing and I went back to cross reference the tape. Whether it's right or wrong, I don't see Holyfield being drafted, not in this crop of runners and not with such poor athletic testing.
I love his footwork and I appreciate his vision at the LOS. But Holyfield (who sits 138 on my personal big board) doesn't contribute in the passing game and has abysmal testing. Running backs like that don't get drafted with any urgency.
STUD - Quarterback Brett Rypien, Boise State
You can keep all the other Day 3 passers in this year's class. If I'm going to try one on for size, it's going to be Brett Rypien. As a matter of fact, Rypien, who is my QB6, would be my preferred target in the actual draft aside of three names: Murray, Lock and Haskins. Grier and Jones rank ahead of Rypien for me, but the cost to target them is too rich for my blood.
Rypien has got the mental side of the game working for him and quarterback is a position based largely on processing information.
DUD - Defensive End Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
We need to take some advice from Elsa here and just let this one go. Let it gooooooo. Ferguson is super productive, but I'd challenge anyone to pull up the tape that shows a first round player. And trust me, I've ground the tape. It ain't there.
Couple that with some of the most frustrating athletic testing you'll see on this side of Jachai Polite and it's just about a wrap for the Jaylon Ferguson hype train, as far as I see it.
STUD - Linebacker Josiah Tauaefa, UTSA
Now, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. I know NFL.com's Bucky Brooks was a big fan of Josiah entering the Combine, he had him ranked as high as LB5. I'm not *that* high on Josiah, but in a bad (read: awful) linebacker class, he is LB8 and I have a 4th-round grade on him.
Josiah is a pretty urgent moving linebacker and I'm a fan of his mental processing skills. I have five linebackers with Day 1 or 2 grades out of 36 written reports. In a bad LB class, Tauaefa could be a breath of fresh air in the middle rounds.
DUD - Cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr, Kentucky
I'm fully prepared to plant my flag on this hill and if Lonnie exceeds my expectations, shame on me. Johnson simply does not move the needle for me. I thought he was pretty rough around the edges in coverage. He's likely to get targeted early because of his size and length, but he's not a player I'd want to stake my reputation on.