The phenomenon of Day 3 draft picks is surprising as rookies take shape in the NFL every year. Last season it came through Dameon Pierce, Jack Jones, Romeo Doubs, Tyler Allgeier, Braxton Jones and Tariq Woolen.
In 2021 it was Amon-Ra St. Brown, Evan McPherson, Elijah Mitchell and Trey Smith.
The year before, it was L’Jarius Sneed, Gabriel Davis and Darnell Mooney. In 2019, Gardner Minshew, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Maxx Crosby were instant hits. In 2018, Taron Johnson, Genard Avery and Avonte Maddox proved they could play out of the gate.
While it’s not guaranteed that all of the Day 3 2023 squads below will thrive as rookies, they’re the most likely to make an immediate impact due to their talent and opportunities on their new teams.
Round 5, No. 138 overall
Rush will have to compete against second round selection Julius Brents for playing time. But the fact that the Colts chose two super-long, very athletic turns in this class indicates that they have a great need for size and athleticism in the girth of their secondary turns. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rush outsmarts Brents early on. He is much faster in a straight line and found the football in the SEC more times than Brents during his solid collegiate career.
The Colts have made it lately with unlikely pieces on defense – like Kenny Moore and former Day 3 pick Isaiah Rodgers – and Rush is a big talent with the physical, body control and natural ball skills to quickly acclimate to the NFL level .
Round 6, No. 180 overall
It feels like the entire Cardinals roster, aside from a limited number of positions, has vacancies. While former first-choice Isaiah Simmons has progressed from linebacker to essentially full-time slot defender, Arizona still has a specific need to deploy a small, excited nickel angle every Sunday to take on lightning-fast slot receivers.
And Clark has a serious argument as the most sudden, plant-and-drive explosive cornerback in the entire 2023 class. At six feet tall and weighing 181 pounds, he’s not exactly petite either. Perfect size to stick with inside wideouts trying to win with foot speed and acceleration out of their breaks. If Budda Baker is traded, Clark’s importance on defense skyrockets, but I believe he still has enough natural talent to make waves early in camp and preseason as a playmaker in an increasingly important position in today’s NFL. That should give him more playing time than most rookie sixth-rounders in 2023.
Round 6, No. 210 overall
Douglas could have hit 80 passes in his rookie season if Tom Brady had still been the Patriots’ quarterback. The Liberty receiver is that kind of stocky but sudden closing weapon with enough downfield juice to keep cornerbacks honest. It has the feet to execute dynamic, intricate routes underneath and reliable hands. Douglas dropped just eight passes in his last three seasons with the Flames. Now, of course, Mac Jones isn’t Brady. But New England still wants to move football around the field methodically, and Douglas can absolutely be that viable chain-moving target from the slot either beating the man outright or rushing for vacancies in the zone before blasting the ball through the defense. in his hands.
The Patriots have 41.3% of their 2022 goals available, meaning passcatchers who received more than 40% of the team’s total goals a season ago are no longer on the team. There’s plenty of opportunity for Douglas — and fellow sixth-round wideout Kayshon Boutte.
Round 7, No. 219 overall
The Lions have just over 40% of their targets available from 2022 – 227 to be exact – and while the likes of Sam LaPorta, first-round versatile defenseman Jahmyr Gibbs and 33-year-old trusty vet Marvin Jones will be among those take the opportunity, Detroit isn’t super deep in the perimeter receiver. While Jones has maintained reasonable levels of productivity over this long career, he is no longer a real vertical threat.
That’s exactly where Green can step in and get noticed. At nearly 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Green ran 4.47. While his vertical was below average, his time of 6.99 in the three cones indicates above average speed, especially relative to his size. He won on exactly 50% of his contested catch situations – a pretty high number, actually – and had only three drops on 65 targets. Come to think of it, there’s actually a lot of Marvin Jones in Green’s game. He can be a fun, occasionally splashy option in the Lions’ dynamic offense in 2023. Green rocks after the catch too.
Round 7, No. 222 overall
I can’t remember the last time I wrote that much and was so high on a seventh-round running back selection right after the draft. On the other hand, McBride had no business in the seventh round. There weren’t 15 better backs than him in this class. Yes, he competed in Conference USA at UAB, but McBride’s film did well with many of the top backs in the league, as did his numbers.
Since he was not healthy enough to fully train before the draft, this may have contributed to his late enlistment. Regardless, McBride is a slippery, elusive, effortless power-through-contact rusher with feature-back format. And yes, 5-foot-10 and 210 pounds is big enough to carry a workload between tackles in the modern NFL. McBride finished seventh in all college football last season with 76 forced missed tackles and his average of 4.60 yards after contact per rush was second in the nation among qualifiers. Given the uncertainty surrounding Dalvin Cook’s future, and only Alexander Mattison ahead of him on the depth chart — Ty Chandler will be McBride’s main competitor — this rookie has a path to taking virtually every seventh round unseen.