Future playmakers found in the late rounds of NFC/AFC West drafts

Dayna O’Gorman
Senior NFL Reporter

By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG

When people talk about NFL stars who were found in the late rounds of the draft, there are a few names that are always brought up. Tom Brady, Richard Sherman, Bo Jackson, Terrell Davis… it’s a long list. The western divisions in both conferences have a tendency to find these players regularly and turn them into superstars. Let’s take a look at this year’s picks and see if there could be another future star.

You can find an entire list of AFC draft picks for each team here.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs have found some fantastic late round steals in the past. KR Dante Hall, DE Jared Allen, and most recently G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. This year late round gem could also be an offensive line player.

Nick Allegretti, an offensive guard, was picked up in the seventh round. While most believe he will have to work his way up through the Chiefs system, he fits the scheme perfectly. Allegretti allowed zero sacks in 15 games, but more impressively, he didn’t allow any quarterback hits in the entire 2018 season. Keep an eye out for him to quickly move up to backup, and possibly starter in the next few seasons.

For the Los Angeles Chargers (I still type San Diego Every. Single. Time.) their steal could come to them via the sixth round. Linebacker Emeke Egbule was expected to go in the fifth round, but when he was still there at pick 200, the Chargers grabbed him. The linebacking corp needed an added boost, and with Egbule’s versatility and athleticism, he could help immediately.

While I’m not sure I’d consider the third round a “late round” but the Denver Broncos had 3 picks in the first two rounds, so defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones was their fourth pick of the draft. Denver has a couple of defensive line players going into their final contract year, so depth was important here. Jones has steadily improved each year in college, and the Broncos are hoping that trend continues. He has 13 tackles for loss last year, more than his first two years combined.

Oakland Raiders. What a draft! They needed to rebuild and rebuild they did. 3 picks in the first round, 1 in the second, it was all about the early rounds for Oakland. But, the Raiders are all about cornerbacks from Houston, and they added one more in the 4th round. Isaiah Jones is a converted receiver, who had a solid two years at CB with 4 interceptions and 18 pass breakups. Rumor has it the Raiders may want to convert him to safety.

NFC West

You can find an entire list of NFC draft picks for each team here.

The Arizona Cardinals are another team that had some serious rebuilding to do. Now I know everyone wants to talk about QB Kyler Murray and the trade of QB Josh Rosen to the Miami Dolphins, but I’d rather talk about a fourth-round pick. WR Hakeem Butler has the potential to be a serious steal. At 6’5″, 227 lbs, he is the perfect compliment to Larry Fitzgerald. Great speed and great on the edge, Butler could become a huge addition to Arizona.

Punters are people too. They are also late round draft picks. While many experts believe the San Francisco 49’ers grabbed punter Mitch Wishnowsky too early and were thrilled with the draft overall, I disagree. They had a need at the position and as we have all learned over the last few seasons, kickers and punters can make or break a game very quickly. Wishnowsky is an Australian born player (seeing quite the trend of Australian rugby player becoming NFL punters) who won the Ray Guy Award and was an All American in 2016.

Sometimes rich get richer the draft, and the Los Angeles Rams may have done just that. One of the best picks, according to many in the media, was third-round pick, RB Darrell Henderson. The Rams moved up to grab him in the third round and it was a great move. Is he just an insurance policy for RB Todd Gurley? Possibly. But with 6.2 yards per carry after contact, that’s a hell of an insurance policy.

And finally, we’ve come to the Gods of late round gold, the Seattle Seahawks. Wilson, Sherman, Carson, Wright, Chancellor. The list of late round steals is huge. The Seahawks General Magician, umm… I mean MANAGER, John Schneider turned 4 draft picks into 11 this year. And as in the past, he and head coach Pete Carroll found a couple of players who have the possibility to be added to that illustrious list.

The one getting a lot of attention is WR Gary Jennings. Taken in the fourth round, Jennings had an amazing year in 2017, with 97 receptions and 1,097 yards. Fighting an injury in 2018, his numbers were down, but his speed and agility at the combine made him a desirable target. With WR Doug Baldwin‘s future uncertain, the addition of DK Metcalf and Jennings were exactly what the Seahawks needed.

Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG

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