The 2016 NFL Draft saw two quarterbacks taken in the top two slots and a multitude of Ohio State Buckeyes taken throughout the weekend. The thing that is intriguing are those taken on day three that you may not have even noticed. Those that you see scroll across the bottom ticker and think “Wow, Jake Rudock to the Lions. Holy crap I forgot about him.” I hate countdown lists just as much as the next guy but I could not help myself in this case so I present to you the top ten late round steals of the 2016 NFL draft.
2016 NFL Draft: Top 10 Late Round Steals
10. Keenan Reynolds, ATH (Navy)
With the 182nd pick the Baltimore Ravens drafted a quarterback that is listed as a running back but may play a little wide receiver. The easiest knock on Reynolds is the fact that we do not exactly know where he will be playing or if he will even be playing at all. Due to Reynolds’s enrollment in the Naval Academy, he must do service time so we may not even get to see Reynolds suit up for one to two years, which led to his fall in the draft and his fall on this list. Reynolds broke the record for most career touchdowns in his time at Navy which means he has a natural nose for the end zone. Keenan’s years under center have led him to have incredible awareness, which will help him read the field when returning kicks and has led him to have phenomenal balance and unmatched leadership, especially coming from the Navy. The down side on Reynolds’ profile is that his size makes it almost impossible for him to break tackles in the open field. Reynolds has also had issues with fumbles in the past. We hope for nothing but the best for this young man and would like to thank him for his service to our country. We salute you Keenan.
9. Malcolm Mitchell, WR (Georgia)
Mitchell comes into the league looking like the second coming of T.Y. Hilton with his combination of explosiveness and hands, which makes for big play potential. Big play potential is exactly what the Patriots are lacking at the receiver position, as they can only live off of tight end production for so long. Mitchell’s route running ability is astounding for a rookie that blew out his ACL in 2013. Mitchell is an absolute gold mine if he can stay healthy. The downside about Mitchell is his lack of size. At 6’0”, 198 pounds, Mitchell is an undersized receiver that will not be able to fight for extra yards and probably see his YAC numbers hover around the lowest in the league. Though he lacks size, the Patriots have made a living with undersized receivers through the years such as Troy Brown, Wes Welker, and currently Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Mitchell slipped because of his size but I believe he will prove to be an excellent addition.
8. Moritz Boehringer, WR/TE (Germany)
If you watched the draft or watched any of the pre-draft coverage, you learned about this German freak of nature. Boehringer is an unproven talent as the first ever European player to be drafted into the NFL. Boehringer has major upside with his ability to jump off the line into his routes and his solid hands which make for a home-run threat when put together. He looks like a German Gronk that runs like Tavon Austin and can go to the gym and bust out twenty reps of 225 without breaking a sweat. The major downside that turned many teams away is the lack of competition he faced in the GFL last year. If you have seen his tape, it looks as if he is playing against any local high school team that could gather up twenty guys to play. As far as we know, Boehringer should be an absolute beast hybrid receiver on paper but will have a bit of a transitional period in his career. The Vikings were lacking in the receiving department going into the draft but found a couple new weapons for young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Every fan hopes to see Boehringer make the transition and become the star he seems to be on paper so I see this as a steal for Minnesota.
7. Ricardo Louis, WR (Auburn)
The Cleveland Browns took essentially every receiver they had on their board this year. Ricardo Louis was the second-best player on that list of five taken. Louis has been criticized because of his lack of ability to attack the ball at its high point, which led to many big drops on jump balls. This past year Louis faced an increased workload with Duke Williams getting the boot from the team early in the season. He handled the spotlight extremely well, which bodes well for his career in the league. The biggest upsides to Louis are his second gear speed, awareness, ability to get open, prototypical size, and his route running ability which makes him a home-run threat on every down. Louis made a living off of the deep ball and post route at Auburn so he should be a main focus in the Cleveland passing game. The one trait that I absolutely love about this guy is his heightened ability to return punts and kicks, which instantly makes him a first day contributor for any squad. The Browns swiped Louis in round four and I see him possibly panning out to have a Tyler Lockett type rookie year in Believeland.
6. Kelvin Taylor, RB (Florida)
Living in a shadow is never fun but in this case I can see Kelvin Taylor surpassing the shadow cast by his father. The first plus I saw when looking at his highlights was his football speed. He may not have the 40-time that scouts were hoping for (believed to be a cause for his slip in the draft) but when he gets those pads on, he switches gears real fast. Taylor is a shifty little back that can be a major asset in the passing game with his soft hands. The negatives on this kid are his lack of size and power, lack of patience, and the fact that he has been compared to his father since day one. The negative I saw within minutes of watching his highlights was his inability to make decisions and stick with them. At times he would make three to four different moves just to get back to his original hole. Taylor has been around the game since he was a young boy, which means that he is already a veteran in his own mind. I believe Taylor could steal the backfield from Carlos Hyde if he works hard enough this season. Fun fact: Taylor had 0 fumbles in his career at Florida (510 touches, 486 carries). Unreal.
5. Kenneth Dixon, RB Louisiana Tech
Since Ray Rice’s suspension and subsequent dismissal from the league, the Baltimore Ravens have searched all over for someone to replace him or even erase the memory of him. I believe Kenneth Dixon will be the man that the city of Baltimore will love along with every fantasy owner that is able to snag him for their team. Dixon, much like Keenan Reynolds, has a nose for the end zone, considering he held the record for most touchdowns in a career before Reynolds took that crown back two days later. Dixon was able to score in multiple ways at Tech which makes him an asset in the passing and run game. Though he has middle of the pack speed, he makes up for that with his quick fit and ability to make defenders miss in the open field. The only knock on Dixon is his competitive drive that makes him attempt to do too much which led to a multitude of fumbles throughout his career. Will Dixon be the Ravens solution in their backfield? I believe so.
4. Dak Prescott, QB Mississippi State
“The right-handed Tim Tebow” is just one of the nicknames handed to the physical specimen out of Stark Vegas. For the past five years the Dallas Cowboys have lived on the edge without a single backup quarterback worth a damn so it is good to see that they have found someone capable. Though Dak is an excellent pickup, Jerry Jones still seems a little upset he couldn’t land Paxton Lynch, which is ridiculous seeing how Dak will most likely turn out to be a better pro. Prescott is a rare combination of size, toughness, awareness, high football IQ, and running ability which makes him a sleeping giant that just needs to be awakened. Prescott showed some flaws this past year in his deep ball accuracy which probably resulted from his fear of being sacked. Prescott was the most sacked quarterback in the SEC West last year, which had the big man hearing footsteps. I believe with the right coaching and offensive line (like the great wall of Dallas), Dak could be the next Cam Newton. He just needs the reps to get there.
3. Kentrell Brothers, LB (Missouri)
Kentrell Brothers was the first name that came to mind when I started thinking of valuable late round picks. Brothers, much like Scooby Wright, is a veteran field general with all the skills to make it big in this league. Brothers is an absolute beast when it comes to big hits in the run stopping department. He has the size and intelligence to stuff holes before they even appear, which makes him quick on his feet. Though he is quick on his feet, he is not quick with his feet so he isn’t a very efficient pass rusher. Brothers climbed up my board because he is exactly the run stopper that the Vikings needed on their defense because the team has to face tough running backs like Eddie Lacy, David Johnson, and Doug Martin, among others, in the NFC year after year. There have been questions about his maturity in the past, which may have raised flags for some teams. My favorite part of watching his highlights was seeing just how dangerous he is on special teams. Brothers blocked two punts and a field goal last season and he participated on the kickoff squad, which means he may get to impress his coaches if he can make some waves on the special teams squad early in his career. Though he is not a pass rusher, he is a run stopping defensive leader which makes him an absolute steal for the Vikings.
2. Jalen Mills, DB (LSU)
Jalen Mills is hands down the biggest defensive steal of the 2016 NFL Draft. Mills has essentially been a starter for the past four years on an NFL caliber defense at LSU. LSU seems to produce at least one or two defensive backs each year that turn out to be absolute studs and I believe Mills is next in line. He played safety for most of his career in Baton Rouge but I believe he will be much better suited at slot corner for the Eagles. Mills started his freshman year at that very position and actually proved to be one of the top lockdown corners for the Tigers. His ability to mimic routes and play the deep ball makes him one of the best available in this draft and very comparable to Vernon Hargreaves III. The reason we didn’t hear more about Mills in the draft is because of his lack of size, his inability to help in run defense, and the fact that he does not have a defined position. However, the Eagles hit the jackpot when he fell into their hands in the seventh round. His potential is higher than any other player I have seen taken in this year’s draft, so I see Jalen Mills becoming one of those guys we talk about when we talk about late round picks that became superstars. He is one of my favorite picks of the draft.
1. Jordan Howard, RB (Indiana)
If you take a look at my original list you would not see Jordan Howard’s name appear until number five but after watching his tape and knowing what I have seen out of him since his high school days, he jumped to the top of my board. Like I said, I have had the chance to watch Jordan since he transferred to Gardendale High School all the way through his days at UAB and on to Indiana. I have loved watching every step of his career because he seems to become “the man” wherever he goes. Howard has a supernatural ability to play at his absolute best in the biggest games. Throughout his career there has been a question mark surrounding his speed and cutting ability. However, he makes up for that in his ability to lower his shoulder, drive his feet, and keep fighting for every yard he can get until the whistle blows on every play. With his ability to take down defenders, he has developed a mindset of invincibility which has led to him taking some pretty big hits that could have easily been avoided. Howard’s big game ability makes him a front runner to take over for Matt Forte in Chicago. If you are sitting there asking “What about games that aren’t that big? How is he week to week?” I have a fun stat for you. Howard ran for at least 145 yards in every full game he played last season, so he definitely has the consistency to be an every-down back in the league. Howard has played his entire career as an underdog and slipping under the radar to Chicago may just be the best thing that could have happened for him, the Bears, and fantasy football players everywhere. I believe Howard will come in as a situational back to start the season but eclipse Langford at some point to become the Chicago Bears next starting running back.