The 3rd round of the Draft can have huge ramifications for NFL teams. It’s between rounds 3-6 that the upper echelon teams seem to find diamonds in the rough who go on to contribute significantly to their respective teams.
Such decisions can have long-term effects. Joe Montana was a 3rd round pick. Terrell Owens and Jason Taylor are also notable 3rd rounders.
Since John Elway took the executive reigns of the Denver Broncos in 2011, his 3rd round picks have been Nate Irving, Ronnie Hillman and Kayvon Webster. Although it’s way to early to determine Webster’s destiny, it’s obvious that Irving and Hillman have both been disappointments.
Irving was drafted to be the “Mike” linebacker of the future. He hasn’t been able to out-play the likes of Joe Mays, Keith Brooking and Paris Lenon. Ronnie Hillman looked poised to have a breakout 2013 campaign. He was the #1 running back on the depth chart all through training camp and pre-season. A bad case of fumblitis curtailed his rise, however.
An argument can be made that it’s way too early to say that any of the above players are a “bust”. But at the very least, all but Webster have been disappointing. For what it’s worth, I still believe in all of them.
But Elway needs to hit in the 3rd round this year. And I think he will. This draft class is remarkably deep. One player that the Broncos could target is the University of Utah’s Trevor Reilly.
He enters the draft as a redshirt-senior. As a Utah resident, I’ve watched Reilly personally throughout his college career. Since Star Lotulelei left for the NFL, Reilly has been the Ute’s best player. He is the quintessential edge playmaker.
At 6’5, 245lbs, he could stand to add 5-10 pounds to his frame, to have a NFL body. Throughout his time at Utah, he literally played all over the Ute’s front 7. In 2013, he started 8 games at right defensive end. He’s played every linebacker position, including “Mike”.
As a team captain in 2013, he led the team in tackles with 100. He also notched 16 tackles for a loss (TFL) and 8.5 sacks. Reilly has a nose for the ball. He’s not the most quick-twitch athlete in the draft, but makes up for it with his motor. He always takes good angles to the ball and rarely misses a tackle. As a pass rusher, he uses his hands to punch and has a tremendous under-arm rip move to gain leverage around blockers on the edge.
The down-side to Reilly, is that he just turned 26. He served a LDS mission and is married with 2 kids. But he doesn’t have as many miles on his tires as a typical 26 year old pro. He’s got a lot left in the tank.
In today’s NFL, a team can never have too many pass rushers. And with Reilly’s versatility, he could contribute immediately.
It’s possible that the Broncos could choose to go offense in the 3rd round, whether it’s OL, or WR. Furman’s Dakota Dozier could still be on the board when the Broncos pick at 95.
At 6’4, 313, Dozier projects as an interior lineman in the pros, even though he played left tackle throughout his career. He has excellent abilities as a pass protector. He could use some work on his technique, but NFL coaching will refine those deficiencies.
The Broncos could also look at Oregon’s Josh Huff. At 5’11, 206lbs, he has good size. Huff has an uncanny knack for making plays. He possesses great body control and has soft hands. He does have character concerns, however. But under the tutelage of Peyton Manning, Huff could be very potent playmaker.