The first round grabs the headlines, but the best NFL teams add value throughout the draft. Nailing that first round pick is important, sure, but if you can grab a starter in the third round or beyond, then you’re really doing some work. And in a 2020 class as reportedly deep in a few spots as this one, it stands to reason that we should take a more in-depth look at some of our favorite later round prospects.
Here’s who we’re keeping an eye on outside the first round.
Paul Noonan – Tyler Huntley, QB, Utah
Projecting late-round quarterbacks to be anything outside of “bad backups” is usually foolhardy, but Huntley is going to make a bunch of people look foolish. My own made-up stats quickly identified Huntley as someone to keep an eye on, but if you don’t care for QBOPS, CPOE tells the same story, and CPOE has a history of identifying college quarterbacks who will succeed at the next level.
I can't believe I'm about to say this but... why isn't Tyler Huntley getting any NFL talk? 4th in QBR for non-triple option QB's in the draft, and 3rd in our CPOE last season. The rest of the top 5 in CPOE had elite WR talent at LSU, Bama, OU, and USC... Huntley did not. 1/2— Paul Sabin (@SabinAnalytics) April 8, 2020
The fact is that almost no quarterbacks who are as accurate and explosive as Huntley bust in the NFL. Combine his outstanding accuracy with the fact that he was a three-year starter who improved every year, and you have a good prospect. Add a dash of “probably” outstanding athleticism (Huntley was excluded from the combine for no good reason, but did do one of those personal pro days that we should all be skeptical about), and that’s enough for me to conclude he should be one of the best prospects in the class and not some late-round flier.
If you watch the tape, you can see why scouts have their issues. He occasionally throws a wobbly ball, and his footwork in the pocket can get messy. All of that said, his issues are all completely fixable, and many are caused by what appeared to be an awful line. Outside of Burrow and Tua, there is no other quarterback I would rather have in this draft. Just watch him land in New England.
Shawn Wagner – Darnell Mooney, WR, Tulane
Barring a major surprise, the Packers will add multiple wide receivers in this year’s draft. I really want a slot receiver who can open up the middle, juke defenders, and create mismatches, and there are several players that Green Bay can draft without using high-round picks. One is Mooney, who had sub-4.4 speed and an impressive vertical for someone his size at 5’10. I see a player that can track the ball well over his shoulder, win a jump ball at times, and still bring the ability to take a short pass the distance after the catch. One draft pundit recently asked why an NFL team would take KJ Hamler in round two if they could still get an explosive player like Mooney in the later rounds. I would agree. Mooney is one of my favorite players for the later rounds, in addition to Mississippi State linebacker Willie Gay.
Tex Western – Tanner Muse, S/LB, Clemson; Jack Driscoll, OT, Auburn
I’m going to cheat and give you two players, both at positions of potential need for the Packers. The first is an offensive tackle who I feel is flying way under the radar. Driscoll spent three years at UMass, then moved to Clemson as a graduate transfer and started at right tackle for two seasons in the SEC. He immediately took to the higher level of competition and was a rock for the Tigers for two years.
At the Combine, Driscoll said he looks to David Bakhtiari as an inspiration and sees many similarities between himself and the All-Pro Packer. It’s easy to see why — both are very good athletes with quick feet (Driscoll ran the 40 in 5.02 seconds with a 1.74 10-yard split) and are intelligent players. Like Bakhtiari, Driscoll will probably come off the board early on day three. He’s easily worth the Packers’ third-round pick in my eyes and I think he could end up as the Packers’ latest mid-round offensive line star.
The other player is Muse (pronounced MOOZ), who played free safety at Clemson but is a perfect fit for Mike Pettine’s hybrid safety/linebacker spot. Indeed, at the Combine, Muse told me that most teams were looking at him as a linebacker thanks to his 6-foot-2, 227-pound frame. He tested tremendously well with a 4.41-second 40 and a 3-cone time of 6.84. That’s perhaps a bit better than he looks on tape, but he still shows the size and speed to keep up with modern NFL weapons in coverage and has a nose for the football. Like Driscoll, Muse should be an early day-three player who can contribute on special teams in a rotational role on defense as a rookie.
Peter Bukowski – Joshua Kelley, RB, UCLA; Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian. State
If Tex can cheat, so can I.
Green Bay faces a difficult decision on how to handle Aaron Jones with his contract set to expire after 2020 and Kelley fits the mold of an every-down back in a Matt LaFleur offense. Chip Kelly runs plenty of outside zone at UCLA, to go with the inside zone concepts fans will remember from Mike McCarthy.
Kelley brings the one-cut ability to get downhill, and the speed hit seams for chunk runs with his 4.49 speed. Plus, he caught 27 passes last year which means he at least isn’t a throw-away on third down. He’s a Packers “type” as well.
Evans is another guy I really like on Day 3 if they’re looking for a back who can also be useful in 2020. He’s twitchy, explosive, and dynamic with the ball in his hands. Plus, he could be your returner right away, play on third down catching passes, and lighten the load on Jones as a runner. He’s not a replacement back at 5-foot-11, 203. He’s just not big enough. But as a complementary piece, he’s potentially explosive in limited touches.
Jon Meerdink – McTelvin Agim, DL, Arkansas
I’ve been on the Agim Team for quite a while, and I may have introduced this topic to Tex just for an excuse to talk about him.
If value is what you’re after late in the draft, it’s hard to do better than an athletic defensive lineman who can play multiple spots. That’s Agim, who brings an excellent overall athletic profile to the defensive line.
After joining Bret Bielema at Arkansas as a defensive end, Agim added 30 pounds to his frame to slide inside as a senior. He’s considered a solid rotational prospect at both end and tackle and considering the Packers have a fair amount of questions along the line beyond Kenny Clark, adding a player with decent size who can play both inside and out seems like a common-sense move.
Plus, McTelvin is just an elite first name, and I’d love to live in a world where the Packers can have both a McTelvin and a Kingsley on the defensive line.