The Draft will always be the preferred way to build your team. Yes, flashy big name, expensive free agents will please the fan bases, but it’s the draft where you build your core young players, whilst paying them much less than the guys on a second contract. Hit on a decent draft class, and your franchise will reap those rewards for at least 4 years, fail and you’ll have to overpay in the Free Agent market to rectify those mistakes.
Now everyone is familiar with the guys in the top 3 rounds, but the best franchises get the most out of their Day 3 selections. In this series I’ll be taking a quick look at, position by position, late round and undrafted players who I had high on my board, who may have a chance to make an impact on the team who selected them.
We’ll start, as always, with the Quarterbacks…..
Only 2 Quarterbacks got selected on Day 3, they were Ian Book of Notre Dame (Round 4, pick 133, New Orleans) and Sam Ehlinger of Texas (Round 6, Pick 218, Indianapolis). Both, whilst being fun to watch, have big arm strength concerns and get flustered under pressure, leading to bad decisions. I imagine neither will be more than third string material in the NFL, so I’m going to pick a couple of undrafted guys to talk about.
Jamie Newman, Georgia/Wake Forest (Undrafted, Philadelphia)
Newman was thought of as a possible third round pick entering the year. He transferred from Wake Forest to Georgia after really impressing in the 2019 season for the Demon Deacons, but instead of competing for the starting job there, he decided to opt out of the season and enter the draft. It seemed a strange decision at the time, and ultimately it cost him being drafted.
At Wake Forest he ran a very heavy zone read/RPO offense, and he did it well. At 6’3 and 234lb he’s a big bruising runner, he consistently took runs up the middle and made good gains and had enough wiggle to make people miss too. He would make the correct read more often than not and showed a very good understanding of the offense he was running. Newman’s problems came when the offense was forced to throw the ball, either on obvious 3rd downs or whilst Wake Forest were chasing a big deficit. When teams knew he was throwing, his technique issues and accuracy problems showed up. He could certainly hit wow plays every now and then, and it was those plays that would draw you in and keep you believing, but those plays weren’t consistent enough.
On the 2019 tape I graded, he had impressive outings against solid defenses in North Carolina and North Carolina State, but absolutely stunk it up against a very good Clemson team. I also had him looking good against Boston College, but he followed that up with an average performance against Louisville, so consistency was a big issue.
He did get a Senior Bowl invite, and this was a chance for teams to asses him for the first time in over a year, but those same inconsistencies came up in practice, looking great on one play and missing wide open receivers the next. This carried over into the game too, and his week in Mobile did little to ease the doubts teams already had.
Having said that, it still seemed that Newman’s 2019 tape would be enough to get him selected anywhere from the fifth round onwards (I had him as QB 10, sixth round grade), but he fell out of the draft altogether and landed as an undrafted free agent in Philadelphia.
Now Philly is a very interesting landing spot for him, as of course they have parted ways with Carson Wentz and we assume it will be Jalen Hurts running the show there now. Newman’s skill set is somewhat similar to Hurts, so he makes a nice back-up option to him, and he certainly seems to fit the system better than Joe Flacco, who the Eagles signed on a one year $3.5 Million deal. I can see Newman making the 53-man roster if he can have a good training camp and making Flacco expendable, but the worst case for him will be a practice squad slot running the scout team.
Shane Buechele, Southern Methodist (Undrafted, Kansas City)
Buechele’s story is very interesting. He initially went to Texas as a heralded 4-star recruit for then head coach Charlie Strong. He started as a Freshman and Sophomore with mixed reviews and ended up losing his job to the aforementioned Sam Ehlinger in 2018.
He decided to transfer to SMU and put up 2 impressive seasons there. He led a very explosive offense, throwing to a trio of next level pass catchers in James Proche (Round 6 2020), Kylen Granson (Round 4 2021) and Reggie Roberson, who will be picked in next year’s draft. He certainly was fun to watch, and the 3 games I caught this year (Texas State, Tulane and Tulsa) showed development from his decent tape from 2019.
Buechele carries an air of authority and leadership on the field, and when given time can make most NFL throws. The arm strength isn’t great, the deep balls can flutter on him a bit, but when SMU needed a play, Buechele would oblige more often than not. He’s a great, fun college quarterback but he’s lacking top end traits and size – Buechele measures 6’1 and 207lbs, and although it wasn’t surprising he went undrafted, I had him as QB 11 and a Sixth/Seventh round grade on him, and thought he would get selected at some point.
He, like Newman, has landed in a very interesting spot. Kansas City obviously have Patrick Mahomes but backing him up currently is Chad Henne. Henne did OK when he had to step in while Mahomes was injured last year for a game but is certainly expendable. Henne is on a cheap deal, but it runs out at the end of this year, so Kansas City may think it’s worth developing one of their younger guys. I do like the two other quarterbacks Buechele will be competing with (Jordan Ta’amu and Anthony Gordon), but he can beat those out with a good camp, and perhaps work his way up to Mahomes’ back-up in the not too distant future.
Who are your late round or even undrafted QB’s that you think could be gems? Let us know on Twitter @Full10YardsCFB or get in touch with me @LordLucken
Next up in this series will be the Running Backs…..