Day 3 of NFL draft has low profile, high significance

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 22, 2013 - 9:45 AM

With the spotlights dimmed, savvy GMs target sleepers with star potential in rounds 4-7.

hide

Vikings defensive end Brian Robison has produced after entering the NFL with far less fanfare than Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, left.

Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • Star Tribune file ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

When New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees hoisted the Lombardi Trophy following Super Bowl XLIV, three of his starting offensive linemen and his No. 1 receiver were guys who had entered the NFL via the fourth round or later.

So even in an era in which anybody with a laptop and Internet access can — and seemingly does — produce a detailed first-round mock draft, no modern-day draft “guru” had or celebrated the Saints taking right guard Jahri Evans of Division II Bloomsburg University 108th overall in 2006 … or Hofstra receiver Marques Colston with a supplemental compensatory seventh-rounder in 2006 … or left tackle Jermon Bushrod 125th overall in 2007 … or left guard Carl Nicks in the fifth round in 2008.

When the excitement of Thursday’s first round passes and Friday brings a close to the second and third rounds, even the most educated and caffeinated NFL fan probably won’t know how to react to what his favorite team does on Day 3.

Rounds 4-7 will unfold rapidly in front of a bleary-eyed, sun-deprived nation that’s still digesting what happened 48 hours earlier. But that Day 3 action is an important part of building a franchise. It’s the day teams strive to improve their special teams, create reliable depth throughout the roster and prove that their scouting department has a nose for sniffing out future Pro Bowl gems such as a Brandon Marshall (fourth round, 2006), a Robert Mathis (fifth round, 2003), an Antonio Brown (sixth round, 2010), a Cortland Finnegan (seventh round, 2006) or a Wes Welker (undrafted, 2004).

“We have specific goals for each round,” said Rick Spielman, Vikings general manager. “I think the Day 3 guys, if you’re lucky enough to get starters, you’re doing a heck of a job … You go back to what kind of football player are they, and can this guy play better than where he was drafted?”

Since Spielman assumed control of the Vikings’ draft in 2007, he’s plucked six players from Rounds 4-7 who are current starters or key contributors. Defensive end Brian Robison (fourth round, 2007), nose tackle Letroy Guion (fifth round, 2008), center John Sullivan (sixth round, 2008) and safety Jamarca Sanford (seventh round, 2009) are the starters. Lineman Everson Griffen (fourth round, 2010) is a key defensive player and Blair Walsh (sixth round, 2012) is the league’s reigning All-Pro kicker.

“Those [Day 3] guys can be special teams players and contribute if they have to play,” Spielman said. “The main thing for me is you’re adding depth to your roster where you have to make sure that you’re comfortable playing those guys if they have to play. But they’re still helping you to win ballgames.”

From 2003-2012, the New England Patriots acquired a league-high eight “Day 3” players and rookie free agents who went on to become Pro Bowl players. San Diego and Dallas tied for second with seven apiece. The Cowboys got quarterback Tony Romo (2003) and receiver Miles Austin (2006) as rookie free agents. The Chargers got Antonio Gates and Welker as rookie free agents in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

The Bears led NFC North teams with four. The Vikings and Packers were second with three, while the Lions had one.

The only teams that haven’t uncovered at least one future Pro Bowl player via this route are St. Louis and Washington.

Using the past 10 drafts, one could assemble quite an All-Star team using just “Day 3” players and undrafted rookies who have played in at least one Pro Bowl. Here’s one possible All-Star squad (teams listed are the ones that selected the player):

WRs: Brandon Marshall (Broncos, fourth, 2006); Wes Welker (Chargers, undrafted, 2004). Left out: Victor Cruz (Giants, undrafted, 2010).

LT: Jermon Bushrod (Saints, fourth, 2007).

LG: Carl Nicks (Saints, fifth, 2008). A two-time All-Pro.

C: Dan Koppen (Patriots, fifth, 2003). Left out: Scott Wells (Packers, seventh, 2004).

RG: Jahri Evans (Saints, fourth, 2006). Four-time All-Pro.

RT: David Diehl (Giants, fifth, 2003).

TE: Antonio Gates (Chargers, undrafted, 2003).

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 100 FINAL
Charlotte 115
New York 80 FINAL
Chicago 111
Golden State 108 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Utah 94
Denver 114 FINAL
Portland 120
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 FINAL
Carolina 3
Florida 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
Ottawa 3 FINAL(OT)
Toronto 4
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 4 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Colorado 5
Dallas 4 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 73 FINAL
NJIT 78
Notre Dame 66 FINAL
Kentucky 68
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
D.C. 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 2 FINAL
Columbus 1
Portland 1 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Houston 0
Seattle 0 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 69 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 73
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What should the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close