The draft is over and the analysis begins. Thousands of draft experts will be dropping opinions on potential superstars and those picks that just seem like a bust. But this article is more positive. We’re going to take a ride through the late rounds to see what teams got the best draft bargains.
Are you ready? Let’s go.
James Proche (WR SMU) – Baltimore Ravens Round 6 #201
If you’ve had any interaction with me during the draft process, I will have dropped the name of the best statistical WR in SMU history.
Proche was nothing short of outstanding at SMU, going over 1000 yards in both 2018 and 2019, while catching 27 touchdowns. In fact, in 2019 he led the entire NCAA in receptions with 111 and has appeared in the #1 spot for all major receiving categories in the AAC (yards, touchdowns and receptions).
Watching Proche at the combine just solidified the analysis that he had exceptional ball skills and excelled at locating the ball. He looked smooth and natural during all the drills, just as he did throughout the season for SMU.
The knock on Proche is around his physicality and speed off of the line of scrimmage. This and his ability to separate early from defensive backs at the pro level caused concern from scouts. He is also an outside threat with an inside receiver’s body type, which could create some misuse at the NFL level.
As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I can’t tell you how sad I am that this prospect ended up in Baltimore. But with the current dearth of proven wide receivers at the Ravens, he has a good chance to make an impact and can certainly be considered one of the top draft bargains this year.
Willie Gay Jr (LB Mississippi State) – Round 2 #31
You might say that grabbing a highly rated linebacker in round two isn’t one of the draft bargains worth shouting about. Let me convince you otherwise.
Willie Gay Jr showed otherworldly speed for a 243lb linebacker (4.46 40 yard dash) and unlike with most speedy prospects, this speed shows up on film. In fact, PFF awarded Gay the highest coverage grade of any linebacker in the 2020 class. He showed the ability to sniff out and smother quick passes behind the line of scrimmage, whilst providing above average skills to flip his hips and cover the field.
Where Gay really stands out on film is his ability to aggressively pursue ball carriers from the backside of plays. He displays top level closing speed and when his angles are right, he shows the willingness to hit…hard.
The 7th ranked LB in 2020 could be a steal at the bottom of the second for the world champion Chiefs.
Curtis Weaver (EDGE Boise State) – Miami Dolphins Round 5 #164
Any time you can get someone with the college production of Curtis Weaver outside of the 2nd round, you might want to pop that champagne. Ranked as the 52nd overall player in this draft, Weaver fell all the way to the 5th round. He was eventually drafted at #164 by the Miami Dolphins.
So just how much of a bargain did the Dolphins get here? Well, Weaver was the 6th ranked EDGE player in the 2020 draft and ranks #5 all time in NCAA for sacks after only three seasons at Boise State. Over the last 3 seasons, no player in the FBS has recorded more sacks (34). Weaver also had 56 total pressures last season, only two fewer than second overall pick Chase Young.
Weaver is a stand up rusher, has proven himself super productive and has the stats to back it up. So why did he drop so far?
From the film, it’s evident that there are huge positives but some obvious weaknesses – primarily against the outside run. When presented with one on one match ups with a tackle, Weaver is nearly unstoppable and shows power and bend to crash the pocket. However, when covered by a TE, or working inside, he loses this explosive effort and prefers to engage the blocker to find a path.
Does college production truly translate to NFL success? This will be a great case study to figure out if Weaver is a draft bargain or a wasted pick.
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Tyler Biadasz (C Wisconsin) – Dallas Cowboys Round 4 #146
This pick might simply be fantastic value because the Eagles helped the Cowboys make it. With the retirement of perennial all-pro Travis Frederick at 29, the Cowboys needed to fill the center position. They once again looked to Wisconsin for the solution. Ranked as 76th best player by CBS in the entire crop of draft eligible players, Tyler Biadasz dropped all the way to the 4th round at #146.
I do not profess myself to be an expert in the intricacies of interior offensive line play, but a player who anchored a top rushing attack for new Colts draftee Jonathan Taylor and won the Rimington trophy for the nation’s best center would seem to be a solid addition in the fourth round.
Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR Michigan) – Cleveland Browns Round 6 #187
Donovan Peoples-Jones out of Michigan might be the best value pick out the this whole group when we revisit this in 2021. DPJ was the 29th receiver drafted this year, which means the Browns managed to draft the 14th ranked receiver after 14 other pass catching prospects ranked below him. If that isn’t one of the top draft bargains this year, I don’t know what is.
The knocks on DPJ are interesting and don’t always marry up to the tape. Dismissed as not sudden enough off the line of scrimmage and accused of allowing press corners to bully him out of the game, DPJ certainly didn’t pad the stats sheet at Michigan like other top prospects.
He finished his three year career in Ann Arbor with only 1300 yards and 103 receptions, but scored 14 times through the air. This means that every 7th catch (or so) was a touchdown. It’s important to remember that he also pulled double duty as a return threat; running back 89 kicks for 743 yards throughout his time with the Wolverines.
Watching the tape shows a prospect that tends to make the easy catches look clumsy, and the difficult catches look second nature. He showed the ability to adjust to back shoulder throws, and has a natural knack for boxing out DB’s in the end zone. There were issues with drops in 2019, but with the ball in his hands, DPJ is a proven threat. He shows intelligence in following his blocks and a decisive turn of speed when he sniffs the goal line.
He could contribute early as a kick returner for the Browns and I believe he has a great shot to be one of the top draft bargains and earn some playing time alongside the elite talent Cleveland has a wide receiver.
Troy Dye (LB Oregon)- Minnesota Vikings Round 4 #132
The Minnesota Vikings landed a stud linebacker in former Oregon standout Troy Dye. Ranked as the sixth interior linebacker and the 82 ranked player in the entire crop prior to the draft, Dye dropped all the way to the 4th round. The Vikings stopped the slide at pick 132, which has to be considered a huge bargain.
Dye offers great pass coverage as a former safety and improved his pass rushing ability in his senior season; delivering 26 pressures in 107 pass rushing snaps. When he gets into the backfield, he shows fantastic pursuit and tracks the ball carrier to the outside rapidly and aggressively.
In terms of his physical stats, he ran a 4.48 40 yard dash and he looks a little slight in the upper body. But he has the frame (6’4″ 230lbs) of a player that can add bulk in an NFL programme. Defending the run is not a strength, but Dye routinely showed intelligence when attacking gaps at speed to make up for his lack of size.
He consistently improved over his four years in Oregon, and was a key cog in that defense, logging over 700 snaps and 397 tackles in his time with the Ducks. He is the only player ever to lead Oregon in tackles through the full four years of his career.
A great pick for the Vikings and one of the top draft bargains this year.
Prince Tega Wanogho (OT Auburn) – Philadelphia Eagles Round 6 #210
The Eagles could have drafted a future starter at the tackle position with the former Auburn Tiger Prince Tega Wanogho. Ranked as the 12th best tackle in what was considered a strong tackle class (a rarity these days), Tega Wanogho lasted all the way until pick 210 in the 6th round, 139 spots below his initial ranking.
This fall is less of a mystery, as Prince has a very limited football background and before college, had only a year of high school football under his belt. Tackle is a position that requires a unique blend of athleticism and football IQ, and a prospect with a low level of experience should be seen as a risky pick.
The value here is in the outstanding athletic traits that he offers. Measuring in at 6’5″ and just over 300lbs, Tega Wanogho consistently showed a natural ability to protect his quarterback – a trait which I can only imagine NFL teams value quite highly.
With the right environment and some time to develop, we could be looking at the future of the tackle position in Philly and a great way to round out our draft bargains.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @JackMullins55 to get more draft updates, Steelers news and fantasy advice.
Jack is an NFL nerd with a passion for player stories and watching too much draft coverage. He's a DB coach with the Exeter Demons University team in the UK and a Steelers fan.