One hundred and five picks are officially in the books, but it looks like Day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft will still offer plenty of talent for teams looking to find late-round contributors. Players such as Jabril Cox, Jamar Johnson and Rashad Weaver profile as players who can step in as rookies and add quality competition to a roster.
Here is one potential target for all 32 teams entering the final four rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.
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The Cardinals were linked to South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. They didn’t get a chance to select Horn, given that he came off the board inside the top 10 picks in the draft, but they could target his teammate, Mukuamu, at some point on Day 3. Mukuamu is one of the longest cornerbacks in this draft and could be a useful piece in press-man coverage in certain matchups for the Cardinals.
Gowan actually comes in higher on the PFF big board (69th overall) than Georgia cornerbacks Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell, who were drafted in the late-first and early-second round range. He only really has one year on tape against AAC competition, but that year was impressive. Gowan finished the year with an 80.1 coverage grade and has an intriguing combination of size and movement skills. Atlanta has yet to address the cornerback position through their first three picks.
Washington is one of PFF’s highest-ranked players entering Day 3, at 57th overall on the final big board. He’s one of the most instinctual defensive backs in this class and plays above his size. The size (5-foot-8 and 178 pounds) remains a limiting factor, though. It’s difficult to imagine that Baltimore wouldn't be able to make use of his skill set in their secondary, whether it be at safety or in the slot.
The Bills had been linked to Clemson running back Travis Etienne in the first round, but Jacksonville didn’t allow them to entertain the idea of selecting him at No. 30 overall on Thursday. Mitchell isn’t quite Etienne, but he does profile as one of the more explosive running backs in this class after running a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. That speed element isn’t something they don't currently have at the position with Devin Singletary or Zack Moss.
The draft picks of Troy Pride Jr. in 2020 and Jaycee Horn in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft seemingly indicate that Carolina would like to play more man coverage. Brown fits into that mold in the slot. He played outside at Oklahoma but is a more difficult projection outside in the NFL at his size. Brown’s physicality allows him to play bigger than his size, though. He has allowed fewer than 300 yards into his coverage in each of the past two seasons as a starter.
It would have been hard for Chicago’s first two picks to go much better than Justin Fields and Teven Jenkins. However, the trades mean that the Bears’ next selection comes in the fifth round. Powell is one of the few wide receiver prospects who could be available in that range and could contribute meaningfully early in his career. As the PFF Draft Guide says, he has NFL-ready tools as a No. 2 or 3 with body control and nuance to his routes.
The Bengals should continue to add depth on the interior of their offensive and defensive lines on Day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Wilson was a first-round prospect at one point, but a noticeable decline in play this past season at Florida State alongside underwhelming testing numbers has led to a plummet for his stock. He still profiles as someone who can win with power on Cincinnati’s defensive line.
It would have been difficult for the Browns to have done a better job improving their defense this offseason. One-year deals for Jadeveon Clowney and Takkarist McKinley solidify the edge defender spot in the short term, but they could still use long-term options to pair with Myles Garrett. Weaver isn’t an elite athlete, but he does offer an impressive combination of length and power. He’s coming off a career-best 89.5 PFF grade in a return from injury in 2020.
Dallas spent two third-round picks on defensive linemen Osa Odighizuwa and Chauncey Golston, but this is a unit that could still use a few more pieces to compete for spots heading into 2021. Togiai never took on a significant role at Ohio State, as his career-high 291 defensive snaps played this past season can attest. He showed in that limited action that he could be disruptive, though. He makes some sense for Dallas as a 3-technique on Day 3.
Ja’Wuan James is expected to return to the team in 2021. It’s likely difficult for Denver to rely on him at that right tackle spot, given that James has played in just 63 offensive snaps since signing with the Broncos before the 2019 season. A tackle like Jaimes would provide some depth in the case that James misses time again. The Nebraska product understands angles and has good feet for the position, but he’ll have to add some weight in the NFL.
Unsurprisingly, Detroit has decided to build through the trenches through the opening stages of the 2021 NFL Draft. Offensive tackle and defensive tackle were the sources of each of the Lions’ first three selections. Fehoko doesn’t play in the trenches, but he does seem like the kind of physical specimen at receiver that Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell would get excited about. Despite a unique combination of size and speed, Fehoko is still very raw as a receiver. He’ll have time to develop in Detroit as they rebuild if selected.
Injuries derailed Hilliard’s career at Ohio State. Last season was the first time in his collegiate career that he played more than 150 defensive snaps. He finished the season with 231. When healthy, Hilliard offers a well-rounded game with good size and athleticism on tape. The only issue is that the words “when healthy” are doing a lot of work in that sentence. But that’s why Hilliard will likely be available late into Day 3. He’s a potential source of value if he can stay on the field.
Bynum’s bottom line in the PFF Draft Guide reads, “Bynum has a tailor-made Cover 2 corner skill set.” Lovie Smith, the first-year defensive coordinator for the Texans, is known for his Tampa 2 defense that will likely return to Houston next season. Free-agent additions of Terrance Mitchell and Desmond King II shouldn’t keep Houston from adding another cornerback like Bynum at some point on Day 3.
Surprisingly, the Colts’ only two selections in the 2021 NFL Draft have both been edge defenders. A left tackle and complementary receiving option appear to be the team’s two biggest remaining needs. They’re unlikely to find a tackle who can start immediately as a rookie on Day 3, but someone like Johnson could contribute early in his career at wide receiver. He has legit speed from the slot and was the highest-graded wide receiver in the one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl.
Sample seems like the kind of versatile defensive lineman that the new coaching staff in Jacksonville is looking for. He can play both outside and between the tackles at 6-foot-3 and 267 pounds. He is coming off a 90.4 pass-rushing grade with Tulane in 2020, a massive leap over previous seasons. An impressive week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl showed that grade was no fluke.
We’ll follow up with Sample’s teammate at Tulane (Johnson) as an ideal target for Kansas City. The Chiefs are still in need of another legitimate pass rusher off the edge opposite Frank Clark. Johnson is a different style of pass-rusher than Sample, best suited when given space to work with outside the tackle. He just has a natural feel as a pass rusher and can react quickly to opposing tackles. That should translate to the NFL despite a lack of elite physical tools.
Moore is a big, strong man along the interior offensive line. Thirty-one bench press reps at his pro day with arms over 34 inches shows just how strong he is. With the trades of Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson this offseason, the Raiders should be looking to add depth inside at some point on Day 3. Moore might need a little bit of time to acclimate to life in the NFL coming out of Grambling, but he has the physical tools to be an impact starter down the road.
Linval Joseph is entering the final year of his contract with the Chargers, and he will turn 33 years old this season. Adding a younger option at nose tackle would be prudent forward-thinking for Los Angeles. The high end on Brown’s tape is impressive with his size, length and strength. A lack of consistency on his tape is frustrating, though. It’s why he earned just a 69.2 overall grade in 2020. This point of the draft isn’t a bad time to bet on him figuring it out with what he can offer.
Dalman is one of the better center scheme fits for Los Angeles in this draft. He performs well on the move and is coming off a 90.1 run-blocking grade in 2020 at Stanford. There are clear athletic and physical limitations with Dalman, but the Rams’ scheme would do a better job than most of limiting them while taking advantage of his strengths.
The Dolphins are one of few rosters in the NFL that could clearly use some additional competition at the running back position. Herbert underwhelmed early in his career at Kansas before breaking onto the scene this past season at Virginia Tech, where he earned a 91.3 rushing grade on the season. Herbert averaged 4.7 yards after contact per rushing attempt and forced 42 missed tackles on just 155 carries. He has elite contact balance and is a sneaky big-play threat as a runner.
Minnesota brought in Xavier Woods to replace Anthony Harris in free agency this offseason, but they could still add some youth to the safety position. Hamlin has ideal size and length for the position, does a good job of diagnosing routes in coverage and contributes against the run. The Vikings took Hamlin’s college teammate, Patrick Jones, in the third round.
After selecting Mac Jones in Round 1, New England looked to bolster their front seven with the selections of Christian Barmore and Ronnie Perkins on Day 2. Look for them to add a few more weapons offensively on Saturday, though. St. Brown is capable of running a full route tree, both in the slot and outside. He’s not the flashiest of options at the position, which is why he fell to Day 3, but he does profile as a solid complementary option in the Patriots’ offense.
When you look at the Saints’ receiving corps, they’re still missing a deep threat that defenses have to respect. Darden brings that speed, coming off a 2020 season in which he averaged over 16 yards per reception and notched nearly 20 receiving touchdowns. He also brings high-end quicks — his biggest strength in the PFF Draft Guide. That’s evident in his 23 missed tackles forced after the catch this past season despite an average depth of target nearly 13 yards downfield.
There is a lot to like about what the Giants have done so far in the 2021 NFL Draft, but the clear negative to their plan thus far has been a failure to address the offensive line. Smith may not be a plug-and-play quality starter. However, he is clearly more talented than your typical Day 3 guard prospect. The former five-star recruit has some impressive physical tools, but a battle with blood clots in his lungs somewhat stalled his development at Tennessee. Smith is worth a shot for a team like the Giants who could use help on the interior heading into 2021.
The fact that Cox is still available heading into Day 3 is a complete surprise. Cox suffered a hamstring injury before LSU’s pro day, but it’s hard to imagine that injury has kept a top-60 player on both PFF’s Big Board and The Athletic Consensus Big Board off of teams’ radars. Cox has earned coverage grades of at least 83.0 in three straight seasons as a starter between North Dakota State and LSU. That coverage ability would be welcome in Robert Saleh’s new defense in New York.
After attacking the wide receiver position in Round 1, Philadelphia turned toward the trenches on Day 2. That leaves perhaps their biggest need, cornerback, as still unaddressed to this point. Graham has an argument to be the best cornerback available entering Day 3. His game isn’t flashy, but he does have multiple years of solid play on tape for Oregon despite opting out of the 2020 season. Graham turned in PFF grades of at least 80.0 in both 2018 and 2019 for the Ducks.
Third-round pick Kendrick Green projects to be the favorite to step in at center for Pittsburgh in 2021, but the team hasn’t done anything to address questionable starting options at tackle as of yet. In a tackle class where several guys don’t have the requisite length to stay outside, Forsythe has no such problems at 6-foot-8 with arms over 34 inches. The Steelers could bring him in to compete with guys like Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner for the two starting tackle jobs.
Williams is coming off an impressive 2020 season at Oklahoma State. He allowed just 10 receptions and fewer than 150 receiving yards into his coverage all year in nine games played. That 2020 season was a case of Williams rounding into form late, though. He’s on the older side for a prospect, turning 25 this September. The 49ers were able to return most of their free agents in the secondary, but they’re still one Jason Verrett injury away from having real questions at cornerback.
Hudson is a project. A lot of his technique will have to be reworked at the NFL level. Despite that, Hudson is such a natural mover at his size that he ended the 2020 season with a 79.9 pass-blocking grade. The Seahawks could view him as a developmental depth piece with the ability to play either tackle or guard in the NFL.
Barnes, an edge convert, played a hybrid role in Purdue’s defense throughout his career with the boilermakers. He’s an intriguing fit in Todd Bowles’ blitz-heavy defense in Tampa Bay, where he could come along slowly as an off-ball linebacker behind Devin White and Lavonte David while being used situationally as a blitzer.
Losing Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith in free agency and replacing those two players with just Josh Reynolds likely isn’t how Tennessee would prefer to head into the 2021 season. Wallace was expected to come off the board on Day 2 but should interest the Titans if he continues to slide. Wallace has been highly productive since 2018 at Oklahoma State, with PFF grades of at least 80.0 in each of those three seasons. While he might have work to do to become a complete wide receiver, Tennessee could use his ability on the vertical route tree in 2021.
This is a weak tight end class overall, but there are certainly some positives to what Jordan can offer as a Day 3 tight end prospect. Jordan can cut and make defenders miss in a way that resembles a running back more than it does a tight end. And letting him operate on short and intermediate targets over the middle of the field is where a team like Washington would get the most out of him. Washington tight end Logan Thomas is fresh off a breakout season in 2020, but he is also entering the final year of his current contract in 2021.