NFL teams approach the last round of the draft several different ways. Some take shots on players with high ceilings that need work and NFL level coaching. Others take a player in a position of need with a limited upside who can potentially contribute quickly. It’s all based on how organizationally the draft is viewed. The five players below are seventh round draft picks that should not only make their respective team but contribute on Sundays.
Jordan Poyer, DB – Philadelphia Eagles via Oregon State
Once Chip came to Philadelphia the Oregon State rivalry was left behind in Eugene, proven by his excitement over drafting Jordan Poyer. Chip already knew and respected Poyer long before Jeffrey Lurie came calling. When Kelly first entered the building – he worked with GM Howie Roseman outlining position specific requirements for the scouting staff; ranging from athletic/physical attributes to what he expected character wise from players. Despite public perception of small speedy players – Kelly desires SIZE, especially on defense. Poyer is a player who had a breakout senior year with seven interceptions and did an excellent job playing the nickel corner. While he is not the most explosive athlete, lacking ideal speed for the position – he has the size (6’0) and physical nature desired from the new staff. Kelly also wanted players who LOVED football– which was evident by the Eagles 2013 draft. While visiting Oregon State this season, Head Coach Mike Riley could not have been higher on Poyer in terms of his intangible characteristics and his makeup as a football player. I expect Poyer to give 2012 fourth round pick Brandon Boykin (5’9) a run for his money for the third corner job. At the end of the day I won’t be surprised if Kelly goes with a player he was involved in drafting, and knows well from college.
Michael Williams, TE – Detroit Lions via Alabama
Detroit was one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL in 2012, with just a little over 1600 yards from scrimmage. After signing Reggie Bush, the Lions have high hopes of becoming more balanced in 2013. Michael Williams really functioned as a third OT during Alabama’s last two national championships, but does enough as a receiver to keep defenses honest – four TD’s in 2012. Williams has a proven track record in the SEC of being able to hold up on the line. At 6’5 and almost 280 pounds, he should help the running game immediately. Keep an eye on number 89, his physical presence is felt against Georgia in the SEC Championship game. Williams consistently owned Jarvis Jones on contact, a player the Steelers believed was worth of the seventeenth pick. While Chance Warmack and Eddy Lacy received the majority of the credit, Williams was a key part in Alabama’s running game that averaged 227 yards per contest. In a division with Clay Mathews, Jared Allen, and Julius Peppers – the Lions need a tight end who can handle the pressure. Coming from the SEC, Williams will be as ready as any rookie to handle the responsibility of blocking these men.
Marquess Wilson, WR – Chicago Bears via Washington State
After a dominant season in 2011, Wilson had a ton of “buzz” entering his junior campaign. But the Leach regime and Wilson just mixed like oil and water – which led to the ultimate blowup late in the fall with him quitting the team. While doing my homework on Wilson during the fall, having worked back to his high school days; the overall message was positive. People spoke highly of him and he really had no previous incidents on his resume. But as an organization it’s hard to discount a player quitting on his team, despite how much positive feedback you may receive on the player. Anyone who knows Bears GM Phil Emery can safely assume he did his fair share of homework on Wilson. From a talent standpoint his play justified a third/fourth round type grade. A fluid athlete who is big (6’3”), and has proved he can make plays on the field. For a team that desperately needs playmakers at WR, I can imagine the Bears were ecstatic at the point in which they selected Wilson. While he may not contribute week one, don’t be shocked to see him having a role by the second half of the year.
Kerwynn Williams, RB – Indianapolis Colts via Utah State
Having worked with Colts GM Ryan Grigson in Philadelphia, it’s safe to say that he is one of the most aggressive personnel men in the NFL. His scouts rave about his willingness to do anything to improve the team. While he hit the football lottery selecting Andrew Luck – he quickly surround his star quarterback with play makers. In the 2012 draft alone he selected five weapons for Luck including a potential workhorse running back in Vic Ballard. Despite being undersized, Williams (5’8”) should be a perfect complement to Ballard and newly signed Ahmad Bradshaw. He had a breakout season in 2012, after previously playing behind current NFL runners in Seattle’s Robert Turbin and Tampa Bay’s Michael Smith. As a backup he served on special teams for years, becoming the WAC all-time leader in kickoff return yards. He became the full time starter in 2012 and the rest is history. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield (45 catches) should really benefit Luck and new Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton. I see Williams being the starting KOR man, while mixing in for the two horses on some passing downs.
Jeremy Harris, DB – Jacksonville Jaguars via New Mexico State
Harris has a lot of things going for him heading into training camp. New Defensive Back Coach Dwayne Walker was his head coach in college, helping him develop into an all-conference performer. Gus Bradley comes to the Jaguars via Seattle where long/tall corners are required. While Harris is not as athletic as Richard Sherman, he has similar length (6’2) to develop into the press heavy defense that Bradley will surely employ. Beside newly drafted Dwayne Gratz who is expected to start – the Jaguars still have many unknowns at corner. While Marcus Trufant will probably earn the nod going into the season, look for Harris to compete for the third corner role, bumping Trufant inside. Harris is the ideal scheme fit, with a position coach who will fight for him. Any personnel man knows when a position coach has a vested interest – he tends to push his guys into action. While I don’t ever see Harris having Richard Sherman’s success, he should push to become a starter down the road.