The first-round guys get all of the attention and accolades. And they should. These are ear-marked as starting athletes to fill holes any franchise has. Plus, they make the most money with the largest contracts of the new guys.
But great players don’t always reside in the first-round, or the top three rounds for that matter.
It is widely known that QB Tom Brady was a sixth-round selection as was RB Terrell Davis whose residence is now the Pro Football Hall of Fame. QB Bart Starr was taken in the 17th round. Another quarterback, Johnny Unitas, was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the ninth-round and never played a down in preseason before he was cut. Hall of Fame wide receiver Harold Carmichael wasn’t taken until Round 7. Yeh, those are all Hall of Famers, too. In fact, the list of players who made it big taken in the later rounds is simply pages and pages of data.
With this in mind, there are several future NFLers in this year’s draft that aren’t being talked about, rarely noticed, and with minimal press coverage, but could help the Browns in numerous positions. Here’s seven players that you may want to follow, in no particular order.
LB Logan Wilson – 6’, 2” 241 pounds
40 time: 4.63
Career starts: 50
Projected round: 3
Logan is a big-time linebacker at a weaker college program. Started 50 games as a four-year starter, so durability is not an issue. Excellent tackler and run stopper. Very physical and wraps up. Will need some coaching for his coverage skills since he rarely was required to get back in college. Good range and will process running plays with ease. Three years voted as team captain and a high character guy. Was a dominant force at the Senior Bowl.
He is a well-disciplined athlete and is a finisher. Very good in pursuit. Not the fastest guy on the field, but productive. Had 409 total tackles, seven sacks, five forced fumbles, 34.5 tackles for loss, 14 pass defenses, one touchdown and 10 interceptions during his college days. A bit old-school and is very good at leveraging blocks. Quality processor and could start Day 1 most likely at the SAM position.
Logan Wilson projects as a viable NFL starting linebacker at the pro level. His football intelligence shines through as a plus quality, often allowing him to pick and choose his spots to shoot gaps. His mobility may ultimately hinder his ceiling but there’s no reason why Wilson cannot be an every down starter at the NFL level — he’s got the mental sharpness, tackling skills and physicality to provide value.
OG Robert Hunt – 6’, 5” 323 pounds
40 time: 5.30
Career starts: 34
Projected round: 3
Blue-collar athlete from a very small town. Exceptional drive and finishes blocks. Hunt suffered a sports hernia his final year which kept him from competing at the Senior Bowl but is almost completely healed. Has very good power and can be violent.
Versatility is one of his best traits in that he has played every position on the line in college and high school. Started 13 games at left guard his freshman year while in his sophomore season he was stationed nine games at left guard and two games at left tackle. As a junior, he remained at left tackle for all 14 games and then was switched to right tackle for his senior campaign until his injury.
The competition Hunt faced in college may be a concern, but make no mistake he is a talented player. Hunt is projected as a guard with comfort on either side and should get better with some nurturing. Very quick out of his stance. Nice anchor. Has some issues with sustaining point of attack, but once he sets his hands he is power against power. Best suited for man blocking schemes and does not perform well at the second level. Is a finisher, though. Nice down blocker and is a run blocking machine. Projected in Round 3 and could come in right away and compete for a starting position.
Hunt is a potential Day 2 pick. Before Hunt was injured last season, he earned an 80.7 pass-blocking grade and 86.0 run-blocking grade for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Hunt has the size and power to be a tackle, but because of his lack of quickness, he profiles better in his eyes as an interior player rather than a bookend.
WR Aaron Parker – 6’, 3” 209 pounds
College: Rhode Island
40 time: 4.57
Career starts: 36
Projected round: 6
Never heard of this kid? That’s okay, NFL scouts have. Parker is a gifted athlete but faced small school competition which may be holding his status back. Very aggressive and won’t back down to bigger safeties. Has an excellent jump radius and can adjust to poorly thrown balls with tremendous body control.
Parker has some size, but ran a disappointing 4.57 at the combine. Career receiving yards are 3,443 with 30 touchdowns. Is also a punt returner. Selected to the East-West Shrine Game where he dominated cornerbacks. He has the ability to stretch the field and is a playmaker. Skilled hands with combination of length and agility, but is a sloppy route runner.
The knock on Parker isn’t his abilities but the fact that he rarely faced any competition in the defensive backfield, so nobody really knows what his ceiling really is. It’s more a creation of the perception as an athlete and whether he can compete at the next level. Would fit nicely into the slot receiver role.
His body control, timing and hand strength translate on any level of football. He’s not fast and is too content to win in the air rather than with clever route running. Parker’s instinctive working zone-beaters underneath and his toughness as a run blocker will earn him points. Parker was highly productive during his URI career, earning himself an invitation to the East-West Shrine Bowl. But in order to have an impact in the NFL he’ll need to sharpen things up when it comes to his route running.
EDGE Alex Highsmith – 6’, 3” 248 pounds
40 time: 4.70
Career starts: 45
Projected round: 4
Very productive and durable player with 45 career starts. Had 15 sacks his senior season, two forced fumbles and 21.5 tackles for loss which was second in the nation. His career tackles for loss numbers are a whooping 47. Doesn’t have the girth and meatiness to take on larger offensive tackles, but his first step off the snap is impressive. Needs to work on getting more separation on blocks and shedding them quicker.
Highsmith is a high-motor athlete and has quite a few moves. Is good at pass rushing and run stoppage. He will need to add weight if he is going to sustain hits all game at the NFL level. Very instinctive, but needs to improve his hand power. Will project as a developmental player at first until he can get bigger to handle larger offensive tackles. High character guy.
During his first two years at Charlotte, Highsmith lined up at linebacker and really struggled to make an impact. He made the switch to defensive end in his junior season and it paid off in big dividends. The switch turned him from just another role player to now a mid-round draft pick. Even better, Highsmith is still very raw and still has a ton of room for improvement. For him to be putting up those numbers are almost absurd. He has an extremely high ceiling and could be a perfect fit. Highsmith probably fits best schematically as an edge rusher that may have to drop back in coverage from time-to-time.
CB A.J. Green – 6’, 2” 202 pounds
College: Oklahoma State
40 time: 4.62
Career starts: 40
Projected round: 4
Has good reach and the size most teams want. Very productive in a variety of coverage and will challenge receivers. Green will need to hit the weight room and get stronger, but is an instinctive player and not afraid to take on larger receivers. Tackling efficiency is decent but not great. Needs to improve his run stoppage production.
Exceptional transitional skills and good ball defense actions when the ball is up for grabs. Not real fast and cannot go yard-by-yard with speedier pass catchers, but is a challenger. He will struggle to catch up once beat. Can contribute right away on special teams or as a nickel corner. Is a bit grabby when the ball is in flight.
Terrific cover corner with next-level ball skills. Smooth and quick-footed in reverse, fluid in transition and plays faster than his 40 time. Battles receivers at the line, stays with them step for step down the field and effectively positions himself to defend the throw. Sticks to receivers everywhere on the field, stays with assignments and displays a burst to the ball out of his plant. Often slow to transition off the line and loses a half-step to opponents. Possesses a thin build and may struggle in battles. Green has short arms and small hands. Ran poorly at the Combine.
SS K’Von Wallace – 5’, 11” 199 pounds
40 time: 4.53
Career starts: 45
Projected round: 5
Very good run support player but is not a huge guy like a lot of safeties are. Team captain on a good football program. Wallace is excellent off the blitz and is a team leader. Has good, deceptive speed and enjoys the thief role in the deep zones.
Wallace is not afraid to take on bigger running backs or tight ends and will lay his own lumber. Scrappy and mobile. Does lack some recovery abilities when pushed by bigger receivers and because he is a bit undersized does not have the reach or length with stretching high-point catches. Is a versatile player, though, as he has played every cornerback position as well. Does not pattern match very well with man coverage but is aggressive. Is not a deep cover guy.
Played a lot of football for Clemson with 156 total tackles, two sacks and 15 pass defenses. Is probably a fifth-round selection which the Browns do not own presently. Wallace is a sparkplug and would offer special teams and nickel help. He is a perfect compliment to the safety rotation with quality depth.
Wallace is a big time striker from the safety position. He is at his best when he is in run support and blitzing from his safety spot. When he is around the line of scrimmage he can make plays one on one as he is a fearsome hitter. Don’t discount his ball skills, he can create interceptions as well.
EDGE Jason Strowbridge – 6’, 4” 267 pounds
College: North Carolina
40 time: 4.89
Career starts: 42
Projected round: 4
Strowbridge raised quite a few eyebrows at the Senior Bowl taking on much larger offensive tackles and guards and came away with a very good impression. He is a bit undersized, but uses that lightness for speed with a quick first step off the edge. He has the ability to get deep on his opponent’s pushes to which they become leaners instead of blockers.
A hustler without a doubt, but does struggle with his leverage. Can play the one-gap DT or off the corners on either side. Particularly brawny on the strongside edge. Has terrific upper body strength, but his lower body will need some beefing up at the next level. Strowbridge has good pop with his hands and can separate from his blocks. Has some difficulty with grip on a runner at times but has a nice bull rush with a strong upper torso.
123 total tackles in his college career and just 10.5 sacks. Projected as a fourth-round pick that will come in and push the starters and provide positive depth right away.
Strowbridge had 45 tackles with three sacks, a forced fumble and a pass broken up in 2019. He accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl and had a good week of practice, displaying toughness at the point of attack. He also showed more speed and athleticism in the pass-rushing one-on-ones than his 2019 sack total would have suggested. A riser.
Which of these 7 players would you like to see the Browns draft?
This poll is closed
LB Logan Wilson
OG Robert Hunt
WR Aaron Parker
EDGE Alex Highsmith
CB A.J. Green
S K’Von Wallace
EDGE Jason Strowbridge