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Rapid Reaction: Third Round Opportunity Outlook


What a crazy ride Day 2 of the draft was. I’m exhausted from excitement. The landing spots attained by the high end skill position players in this class is going to make this draft class a force for years to come.

The third round will have a more abbreviated version on each player.

Round 1 is available here.

Round 2 is available here.

Diontae Johnson

64th overall, Pittsburgh Steelers

This is a sound landing spot for Johnson as Pittsburgh has a quality history of drafting receivers. The depth chart should allow him to ascend as high as the second WR option. He has the quickness to play inside if needed, which could be a boon for him if the team decides they want more outside snaps for Juju Smith-Schuster. Prior to the draft, the only other real slot option on the roster was replacement-level Ryan Switzer. The road to snaps on the outside this season is impeded by Donte Moncrief and James Washington. Moncrief is improperly viewed by the community; he is a quality — albeit not elite — player and will be useful. Johnson’s path is to surpass Washington in 2019 and operate as the third option with room to grow moving forward.

Opportunity Grade: B-

Jalen Hurd

65th overall, San Francisco 49ers

This is a tough situation for Hurd to walk into. He’s walking into what will be an open competition and is an underdog. He will have to beat out at least one of Deebo Samuel, Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin or Jordan Matthews to realize any fantasy viability and that is a bad bet for 2019. His draft capital investment will keep him on the roster to give him an opportunity to grow but he will remain a developmental project for the foreseeable future.

Opportunity Grade: D

Josh Oliver

67th overall, Jacksonville Jaguars

Oliver, a favorite of mine throughout the draft process, walks into a situation dripping with opportunity. The only positional competition is Geoff Swaim who I view as nothing more than a stop gap at the position. Oliver can truly ascend as he has an insane ability advantage over his team peers and will be able to command as much of a market share as he can earn. From a TE perspective, there is real ceiling here.

Opportunity Grade: A

Darrell Henderson

68th overall, Los Angeles Rams

This is a more puzzling pick. It feels like a quality insurance investment after their two incumbents in Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown were injured late in the season. He will compete with Brown for direct backup duties and will need Gurley’s status to change to be truly viable.

Opportunity Grade: D-

David Montgomery

71st overall, Chicago Bears

The writing has been on the wall for weeks that Nagy wants a bellcow and soured on the RB room he had to end the 2018 season. The team needed specifically Montgomery to tumble into the third round and once he did, they pounced, trading up to snag him. He has the potential for bellcow usage from day one, and there is an argument to be made that he is on par with Josh Jacobs. This is simply a dream situation.

Opportunity Grade: A+

Devin Singletary

72nd overall, Buffalo Bills

All of a sudden the backfield is quite crowded in Buffalo. LeSean McCoy remains as a holdover while both Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon were brought in via free agency. Now none of these players are resembling world beaters but it creates a snap share alarm for “Motor” in 2019. He also projects as more of a runner than pass catcher (not that the touch of Josh Allen is currently an enviable commodity) and it stands to reason the passing work belongs to Yeldon. Singletary’s volume is not locked in and will likely be just a flex option while working through the timeshare.

Opportunity Grade: C-

Jace Sternberger

73rd overall, Green Bay Packers

This is a fantastic spot for Sternberger. There is just one step up from nothing standing in his way from seizing top-dog TE duties in Green Bay, and he likely will only lose snaps to the corpse of Jimmy Graham for one season or less. While Robert Tonyan flashed ability in 2018, the third round investment on Sternberger will give him the inside track to being the future at the position and he is certainly not without the ability to claim it.

Opportunity Grade: A-

Terry McLaurin

74th overall, Washington

We knew Washington was a mess at the WR position and McLaurin brings familiarity to their new QB Dwayne Haskins as they are college teammates. McLaurin had a very favorable combine and it boosted his projected draft slot in a big way. I personally projected him as a special teams ace that could also play WR but this investment likely allows plenty of room for him to be a WR first. He will open 2019 with only Paul Richardson and Josh Doctson as hurdles. Doctson will be the easier of those two hurdles to clear.

Opportunity Grade: B

Kahale Warring

84th overall, Houston Texans

This is a spot with little resistance for Warring. He will walk into the TE room leading the pack in ability from day one. The team tried to get by with patchwork stopgaps and dart throws at the position for multiple seasons and have now made the investment in targeting a player with at least a chance of being a difference maker. If and when a single TE is able to command a very large piece of the snap and target market share pie in Houston, they will be set up for massive success.

Opportunity Grade: A-

Damien Harris

85th overall, New England Patriots

Harris had the unfortunate outcome of tumbling down the board far enough that he was taken by a team that simply doesn’t need him, as he’s little more than a luxury selection. A better runner than receiver, he should be viewed as insurance for Sony Michel and potentially a fourth part of a RB committee. He almost certainly needs injuries ahead of him to gain fantasy viability in the foreseeable future.

Opportunity Grade: F

Miles Boykin

91st overall, Baltimore Ravens

When this is a putrid landing spot for a first-round receiver, it’s only that much worse for a player garnering a lesser investment. The third round should still be considered a quality investment on a rookie, but the situation remains horrific in Baltimore for pass catchers, especially wide receivers, and it’s unlikely any wide receiver has fantasy viability there, mirroring 2018. The one positive, tied to the massive hypothetical that is the unlikely improvement of Lamar Jackson, is that the only in-house competition he will face is Marquise Brown, who will play in the NFL at around 160 pounds.

Opportunity Grade: D-

Dawson Knox

94th overall, Buffalo Bills

The Bills missed on the top two tiers of tight ends, but still addressed the position with the best available player at the top of the third tier. He will start his career behind free agent acquisition Tyler Kroft and battle incumbent Jason Croom for No. 2 duties. He will need to develop in a situation where target share for any specific player is a massive question mark. This is a late-round dart throw situation in rookie drafts as the both the skill sets and opportunity available are question marks.

Opportunity Grade: C-

Alexander Mattison

100th overall, Minnesota Vikings

The team was clearly not content to roll into the 2019 season with Mike Boone as the handcuff and change of pace option to Dalvin Cook, and they’re solidifying their depth at the position with this pick. There are worse spots than landing behind a talented yet so far fragile bellcow candidate back, but there are much much better ones as well. Mattison’s fantasy output will remain the full reciprocal of Cook’s level of health.

Opportunity Grade: C

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