14 running backs, 21 wide receivers, one kicker and two long snappers were among those to hear their names called as teams claimed the best of the rest on the third and final day of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The New York Jets also snagged themselves not one but two Michael Carters, taking Michael Carter the North Carolina running back in round four followed by Michael Carter II the Duke cornerback in round five, while the New Orleans Saints came away with the most winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history in Ian Book following the retirement of Drew Brees.
Houston linebacker Grant Stuard wrapped proceedings up in Cleveland as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made him the honouree “Mr Irrelevant” with the 259th and final pick of the Draft, sparking the racing for the premier undrafted free agents and handing the torch to Las Vegas ahead of 2022.
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With its next pick, the @NFL selects … Las Vegas! See you in 2022. 😎 🏈 #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/mOVSaIJOAU
The Jacksonville Jaguars raised the curtain on day three by turning to powerful USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele with the first pick of the fourth round, before the Jets made it all offense with their first four picks for the first time since 1983 by gobbling up North Carolina’s talented Carter, who had 1,245 rushing yards for nine scores in 2020.
Having lost A.J. Brown in free agency, the Tennessee Titans filled a need at wide receiver with Louisville’s Dez Fitzpatrick, and the Detroit Lions followed suit on the back of Kenny Golladay’s departure by securing the contested catch ability of USC slot option Amon-Ra St. Brown.
The Dallas Cowboys made it six straight defensive selections when they added a linebacker partner for first-round choice Micah Parsons in LSU’s Jabril Cox with the 115th overall pick. Jerry Jones also couldn’t resist adding another weapon in the fifth round as he claimed the vertical threat of 6’4″ Stanford receiver Simi Fehoko, who notably had 16 catches for 230 yards and three touchdowns in his final college game.
Duke defensive end Chris Rumph II continued a fine haul for the Los Angeles Chargers at 118th overall, before the champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens provided quarterbacks Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson with more toys in North Texas receiver Jaelon Darden and Oklahoma State receiver Tylan Wallace at No. 129 and No. 131, respectively.
New Orleans hinted towards the future by making quarterback Book the 133rd overall pick, the Cleveland Browns filled a hole at defensive tackle with Ohio State’s Tommy Togiai 132nd overall following Sheldon Richardson’s departure, and dynamic Miami tight end Brevin Jordan finally found a home with the Houston Texans at 147th overall in round five.
The Seattle Seahawks sought added protection for Russell Wilson with Florida offensive tackle Stone Forsythe at No. 208, and the Browns introduced UCLA wide receiver/running back swiss army knife Demetric Felton at No. 211.
[email protected] assumed he was getting a phone call about becoming an undrafted free agent.
Instead, he got the call of his life 📞 pic.twitter.com/V1bbyYglo3
Day three also provided a nod to special teams. Florida’s Evan McPherson became the first and only kicker to be drafted as he headed to the Cincinnati Bengals with the No. 149 pick, before the Minnesota Vikings welcomed Central Missouri’s tight end/punter hybrid Zach Davidson at No. 168.
There was a special moment for Thomas Fletcher and Camaron Cheeseman late in the sixth round when the Carolina Panthers and Washington made the Alabama and Michigan long snappers the respective 222nd and 225th overall picks.
In a prime example of how players can slide, Tennessee guard Trey Smith, deemed a top 100 prospect by some, eventually fell to the Kansas City Chiefs with the 226th pick.
Late-round running backs
As has become the norm at the NFL Draft, potential starting running backs awaited in their numbers as 14 fell in total on day three.
Following the Jets’ pick of Carter, the Vikings were next up as they offered Dalvin Cook backfield support in the form of Iowa State’s Kene Nwangwu at No. 119, before the New England Patriots took Oklahoma’s Rhamondre Stevenson one pick later.
The Carolina Panthers selected college football’s 2019 leader in rushing yards Chuba Hubbard out of Oklahoma State at No 126 and the Memphis’ multi-purpose threat Kenneth Gainwell landed with the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 150 in the fifth round.
A running back overhaul continued for the San Francisco 49ers, who made Louisiana back Elijah Mitchell the 194th overall pick having drafted Ohio State’s Trey Sermon in the third round and signed free agent Wayne Gallman.
The Chicago Bears provided competition for the likes of David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen and Damien Williams with Virginia Tech’s Khalil Herbert (No. 217), while there was still time for the Green Bay Packers to add the power running and receiver threat of Mississippi State’s Kylin Hill (No. 256) and for the Lions to introduce Oregon State’s Jemar Jefferson (No. 257).
Undrafted free agents
The run on undrafted options was typically immediate, the Atlanta Falcons claiming the home-run speed of Louisville running back Javian Hawks and the Vikings signing up Indiana slot receiver Whop Philyor.
Seattle were particularly busy post-Mr Irrelevant, bolstering their receiver considerations with South Dakota State’s Cade Johnson and Florida State’s Tamorrion Terry, while taking one of the leading HBCU products in North Carolina Central cornerback Bryan Mills.
Having drafted Michigan running back Chris Evans in the sixth round, the Bengals also signed Kansas’ Pooka Williams Jr, and the Lions followed up the arrival of St. Brown by providing an opportunity to Wake Forest receiver Sage Surratt.
Jacksonville invited in Illinois receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe and Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses, and the Jets called on Ole Miss tight end Kenny Yeboah.
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