The third round of the NFL Draft may not be as flashy as the first round, but it is a point in the draft where there is a lot of variability in how careers turn out, and where future contenders can separate themselves. The majority (56%) of picks in the third never start a majority of their team’s games in more than 1 season in the NFL, but you can also get guys like Will Shields, Terrell Owens, Curtis Martin, Hines Ward, and Jason Taylor.
The Patriots made the biggest splash when they selected quarterback Ryan Mallett with the 74th pick. It will cause some Tom Brady buzz. Brady has already reportedly responded via text to Kurt Warner that “he is playing ten more years.” I don’t think we should view this as any threat to a healthy Tom Brady in the next few years. The Patriots simply saw too much value in Mallett at that point. Think of it like their willingness to trade a 2nd today for a 1st next year, or a 3rd today for a better pick tomorrow. The overreaction, and yes that’s what it was, to all this Mallett off the field stuff will subside. If he literally keeps his nose clean, and other teams start to see him dealing in pre-season and in relief of Brady if he ever misses a game with injury, they’ve turned it into a good investment.
And I’m not saying that everything the Patriots do turns to gold. I find their use of two picks in the second and third round on running backs to be rather curious. I think they’ve made their share of mistakes in personnel evaluation. But they handle the mechanics of the draft and understanding pick value well. View this like a trade back for more value and future picks, except they also handle depth at the quarterback position and insurance against a Brady injury in the process.
In other third round selections, I know that Buffalo is an easy target because of their recent drafts and lack of success, but I am really liking what they are doing in 2011 so far. They avoided getting in on the quarterback rush in a seller’s market, sitting pat and taking arguably the best or one of the best guys at each spot, and in doing so addressing three levels of a bad defense. In the third round, it was ILB Kelvin Sheppard, adding to DT Marcell Dareus in the 1st and CB Aaron Williams in the 2nd. I also really liked what the Chiefs, Bucs, and Saints did here.
Kansas City supposedly took a chance on DE Justin Houston, a first round talent who fell due to reports of a drug test fail. But as the majority of thirds don’t pan out, I like taking a better talent here. Heck, several guys who appear now like great character guys will make mistakes in the next few years, but you are getting a discount right at the draft.
The Bucs just continued to add talent on defense to bolster what looks to be an emerging offense in 2011, adding to the defense with ILB Mason Foster of Washington, to go with the Da’Quan Bowers pick from the last round (I’ll have more on thought in a bit). I was critical of the Saints for giving up a lot in the Mark Ingram deal, but they made two solid picks this year, with OLB Martez Wilson and DB Johnny Patrick.
[photo via Getty]