Analysis: Fallers and Position Runs

Every year, players drop unexpectedly in the NFL draft

NEW YORK -- The value at defense waned throughout the second round, making it clear that the top remaining prospects on that side of the ball would go off the board quickly Sunday.

And there were multiple runs on positions in the third round, as teams wishing to fill a need at a certain position panicked to get one of their top prospects at that spot. Some of those picks will prove to be reaches, leading to the historical 35-40 percent success rate of third-round selections.

After running back Shonn Greene went first on Sunday to the Jets (whose trade up for Greene was a bit strange considering the other backs of similar value available to them later on), the next eight picks went to defense including five defensive linemen. Underachieving but athletic end Michael Johnson, end/tackle Alex Magee and tackle Jarron Gilbert were in that group, along with long end Matthew Shaughnessy and nose tackle prospect Terrance Knighton. Later on in the third round, active tackles Roy Miller and Corvey Irvin, on the upswing through their senior year and postseason draft process, came off the board.

Other runs happened in the third round, with interior linemen Antoine Caldwell, Louis Vasquez and Kraig Urbik going 77-79, and then four receivers in five picks: Derrick Williams, Brandon Tate, Mike Wallace, Ramses Barden and Patrick Turner.

Cornerbacks flew off the board at the end of the round, with every other pick between 86 and 96 being used at that position. All except former Oregon State Beaver Keenan Lewis (Pittsburgh) are smallish but fast or aggressive nickel back prospects. Historically, teams like to pick those types of corners near the end of the third round.

FREE FALLING

Very few players dropped out of Day 1 after being expected to be chosen. Three were selected in the third round; Johnson and Gilbert fell because of consistency issues and tight end Jared Cook was not considered the all-around tight end teams want in the top 60 picks (see below).

A few other players dropped further into the second day of the draft than was expected:

RB Andre Brown, North Carolina State (No. 129, fifth, NY Giants): The next Matt Forte went in the fourth round instead of the second because of injury concerns; he did miss time due to foot problems during his career in Raleigh.

LB Marcus Freeman, Ohio State (No. 154, fifth, Chicago): Joins Vanderbilt cornerback D.J. Moore as productive college players falling down the board. Got healthy after the season and looked like the athletic playmaker teams expected to see all season. But teams take the film seriously, so they saw him as a mid-round pick.

C Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas (No. 106, fourth, Cincinnati): In any other draft, Luigs would have likely been a top 100 pick. But because the teams needing centers took advantage of the depth in the top 50, Luigs' stock fell despite a strong career in the SEC.

OT Jamon Meredith, South Carolina (No. 162, fifth, South Carolina): Apparently health issues trumped Meredith's athleticism and versatility. He could play left or right tackle or either guard spot, like the Packers' fourth-round pick T.J. Lang, so that appears to be the sort of player the Packers value.

CB D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt (No. 119, fourth, Chicago): His 40 times were not spectacular, but Moore's ability to make plays in coverage was not ignored by the Bears.

OG Duke Robinson, Oklahoma (No. 163, fifth, Carolina): This long-time Big 12 star was not considered a top value pick because he seemed to be a weak-side/strong-side 'tweener - not the most powerful drive-blocker, nor the quickest blocker on the move. Carolina could have found a great bargain in the fifth round, however, if he stays in shape and takes to coaching.

DE Lawrence Sidbury, Richmond (No. 125, fourth, Atlanta): Extremely productive small-school prospect has the speed off the edge to be a pass-rushing force as a defensive end or linebacker.


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