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Trilly's NFL Draft Manifesto Vol. 4: Final Day of the Draft

Vol 3: Day Two of the NFL Draft

Volume 4: Final Day of the Draft (Rounds 4-7)

So we handled our lines and secondary on Day One. We stocked up on skill players and linebackers on Day Two. Now, we look for longshots and try to find the next Tom Brady on Day Three, right? Wrong, dumdum!

Round 4 may not be where you find your superstars, but guys consistently fall here that are ready to contribute to a team immediately. At this point, I'm still not too focused on positional needs. You may notice that's a theme. I want the good talent that falls because somebody else overdrafted for positional need. These guys may have played at a smaller school or battled a significant injury in college. Recent selections (as fourth rounders may be considered as project players, I'm starting with the 2017 Draft as it's too soon to completely call the 2018 & 2019 Drafts):

2017: 

  • Eddie Jackson- S (2018 First-Team All-Pro, 2-time Pro Bowler)
  • Tarik Cohen- RB (2018 First-Team All-Pro, 2018 Pro Bowl)
  • Marlon Mack- RB (Back-to-back 1k total yard seasons)

2016:

  • Joe Schobert-LB (2017 Pro Bowl, Co-leader in tackles)
  • Tyler Higbee- TE (63/64 career games played, 700+ yard season in 2019)
  • Pharoh Cooper- WR(2017 First-Team All-Pro, 2017 Pro Bowl)
  • Dak Prescott- QB (2-time Pro Bowler)
  • Blake Martinez- LB (2017 Co-leader in tackles)

2015:

  • Trey Flowers- DE (28 sacks in four seasons, starter for two-time Super Bowl champion)
  • Jamison Crowder- WR (299 catches in five seasons)
  • Za'Darius Smith- DL (2019 Pro Bowl, 22 sacks in last two seasons)
  • Kwon Alexander- LB (2017 Pro Bowl)
  • Shaq Mason- OL (started 70 games for two-time Super Bowl champion, 2018 PFF All-Pro)
  • Daryl Wiliams- OL (2017 Second-Team All-Pro)

2014:

  • Devonta Freeman- RB (2015 Second-Team All-Pro, 2-time Pro Bowl)
  • Bashaud Breeland- CB (78 career starts, starter for Super Bowl champion)
  • Anthony Hitchens- LB (78 career starts, starter for Super Bowl champion. Apparently the same person as Bashaud Breeland.)
  • Tre Boston- S (60 career starts, 14 interceptions)
  • James White- RB (78 games played, 3900 total cards on 6.6 yards per touch. 3-time Super Bowl champion)

2013:

  • Alex Okafor- DE (60 career starts, 27 sacks. Super Bowl champion)
  • David Bakhtiari- T (Four-time All-Pro)
  • Kyle Juszczyk (Four-time Pro Bowl)

On day three, just about anything you can get is a win. A guy that can start for you during his rookie contract is a home run. Sliding into a Pro Bowl is a two-run dinger. An All-Pro appearance is a three-run and a guy making it to his second contract with the same team? Might be a grand slam.

And those are just the fourth rounders! You can use the 5-7th rounders on special teamers, athletic marvels, guys that started playing football recently, trying to find that longshot quarterback, etc. Or you could be smart and trade them for All-Pro talent.

These last couple of years, we have seen proven talent get traded for day three picks. The catch is that the talent is usually older, unhappy in their current role, or looking for a new contract. I am perfectly fine with that catch if it keeps landing me proven players.

This happened a couple of times this past season. Let's see how they worked out.

From March 2019:

The Cowboys announced they have acquired defensive end Robert Quinn from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round pick.

Quinn churned out 11.5 sacks in 14 games for the Cowboys this past season. The beauty of this? The Bears signed Quinn to a 5 year/$70 million dollar contract so the Cowboys should get a 3rd-4th round pick in next year's draft as a compensatory pick.

Seattle pulled this one off in October:

The Seahawks made a trade Wednesday to bolster their secondary, acquiring safety Quandre Diggs in a trade with the Detroit Lions. The Seahawks will send a 2020 fifth-round pick to the Lions in exchange for Diggs and a 2021 seventh-rounder.

In five starts with Seattle, Diggs had three interceptions, a fumble forced, a fumble recovered and a defensive TD. He made the Pro Bowl team as an alternate. We'll find out tomorrow who Detroit drafts with the pick they got for Diggs. Maybe he will be a Pro Bowl alternate too!

Another October deal:

The Dolphins agreed to trade running back Kenyan Drake to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a conditional 2020 draft pick, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported, per a source informed of the pact. The team later confirmed the trade.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport added that the pick is a sixth-rounder that can become a fifth-round pick.

Drake started eight games for the Cardinals and put up over 800 total yards and 8 touchdowns on 5.4 yards per touch. This allowed them to trade David Johnson for DEANDRE HOPKINS.

Baltimore pulled this one off during the season:

The Rams are shipping starting cornerback Marcus Peters to the Ravens in exchange for linebacker Kenny Young, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday afternoon.

Rob Parker of Fox Sports first reported the trade. The Rams later confirmed the transaction, which included an undisclosed 2020 draft pick sent to L.A.

Peters arrived in Baltimore and turned in an All-Pro season before being rewarded with a contract extension. Kenny Young didn't start a game last season for the Rams after the trade.

Smart teams noticed the trend and doubled down. The Diggs trade worked out so well for Seattle last season, they tried the move again this for this upcoming season:

The Seahawks made a significant addition to their secondary on Tuesday, acquiring cornerback Quinton Dunbar in a trade that sent a fifth-round pick to Washington.

Dunbar, 27, started 11 games last season before going on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, and recorded four interceptions, eight passes defensed and 37 tackles. Pro Football Focus put Dunbar on its second-team All-Pro team, and gave him an 87.6 overall grade, the second-best mark among cornerbacks last season.

That's the second-best overall grade but let's see how Dunbar did in coverage. He is a cornerback, you know.

Ahh, second again. Very well! For reference, Washington traded Dunbar for a fifth-round pick…and then traded a fifth-round pick for a backup quarterback. Awesome. I wonder why bad teams stay bad?

Like Seattle, Baltimore went hunting for day three value again. From March:

The Jacksonville Jaguars are trading Calais Campbell to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a fifth-round pick, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported. The Ravens quickly got to work on a new contract for Campbell, coming close to finalizing a new two-year, $27 million deal that includes $20 million guaranteed, Rapoport reported.

Calais Campbell has made five Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams. He's the reigning Walter Payton Man of the Year. He was voted PFF's Run Defender of the Year and voted the 26th best player in the league by his peers just this past season. The Jaguars are betting that his best years are behind him. For a fifth-round pick, the Ravens are betting that he can outproduce a fifth-round pick over the next two seasons. I'm with Baltimore.

Also this year:

Denver agreed to trade a seventh-round draft pick to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for Casey on Wednesday. By trading for Casey, the Broncos also agreed to take on his contract, which has three years remaining.

If Spotrac’s accounting is accurate, Denver could cut Casey at any time without a “dead money” cap hit (the dead money will be on Tennessee’s books). If that’s accurate, trading for Casey was a low-risk move with the potential for big reward.

It's true. Casey does have a big salary remaining, $38 million over three years. He's also currently on a streak of five straight Pro Bowls. I know Pro Bowls aren't the best measure for high-end talent, but there's an All-Pro selection in that mix as well. The Broncos give up a seventh-rounder for a guy that they can cut at any time for no penalty. Ask Von Miller and Bradley Chubb if they'd rather have a seventh-rounder out there rushing the passer or if they'd prefer Casey.

There are more of these trades but you get the point. What's the average return on investment for a day three pick? I'll never know because I'm shipping mine out for proven veterans. Of course, you can't build an entire team like this due to the salary cap. But you can absolutely plug a couple of holes with veteran production for the low, low price of a day three pick. There will be your Richard Sherman's and Antonio Brown's occasionally. Guys that fall to day three and work to become staples on the All-Pro team. But I'm playing the odds and those are the exceptions and not the norm. Turning day three picks into great production can be my norm, as the Ravens and Seahawks have shown us. Most likely, one of three things happens:

  1. The guy stinks. He's as old and washed up as his last team thought he was. In that case, you let his deal expire or cut him with zero dead cap money and minimal lost trade value.
  2. He shows up and has a solid year. You thank him for his contributions and watch another team pay him. You might even get a comp pick back the following season.
  3. He shows up and plays well. In this case, you give him a new contract to keep playing for you because that is what you do with good players traditionally.

I'm fine with all three of these outcomes. Picks from the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds don't pan out so teams accumulate as many as they can in hopes that one pans out. I'd rather go the other way and flip them for known commodities, even ones that have already turned 30 years of age! Tomorrow is our last part of the manifesto. We'll take a look at the types of players from each position to value.

Join us tonight for Friday Night Pints!