Day three of the draft is not for the faint of heart, especially when its most notable prospect comes off the board with the first pick. That was the case on Saturday, where the Eagles traded up to get Matt Barkley at No. 98. But for those patient and diehard enough to dive into it, there’s every bit as much entertainment to be found on day three as there is on day one or two. Here are the most notable developments from the third and final day of the 2013 NFL Draft.
GOT SOME HARD BARK ON HIM
Fair or not, Matt Barkley was pretty much the dictionary definition of a “pretty boy” heading into his senior season at USC. Eight months, six losses, one separated shoulder and 98 draft picks later, the “pretty boy” has some hard earned new “character.” The notion that Barkley would have been a guaranteed first-round pick had he declared last season is deeply flawed. Would he have gone higher than No. 98? Without a doubt. But the same deficiencies that sent Barkley tumbling down the board this year — a weak arm, limited mobility, little room to grow — would have shown up on tape last year, too. Barkley as a surefire top-ten pick was a media creation, and as we learned time and again this weekend, the draft can be painful for prospects whose tape doesn’t match their hype.
Now Barkley needs to rely on his qualities that don’t show up on tape. For all the hand wringing over his arm strength, he’s gained plaudits for his leadership and attitude. If Barkley is going to carve out an NFL career, it will have to be on the back of his accuracy and intangibles. Of course, even that might not be enough in Philadelphia, where despite Chip Kelly’s protestations to the contrary, the idea that a QB as lead-footed as Barkley can succeed in his lightning-paced offense just isn’t realistic. It’s going to be a tough couple of years for the football world’s former No. 1 pretty boy, but he can survive them if he displays something his detractors swear he doesn’t have: True grit.
FREE FALL OF THE NIGHT
Tyler Bray was never viewed as an early-round pick. Despite his rocket arm and massive 6-foot-6 frame, he was too inconsistent on-the-field, and too much of a headache off of it. But it’s fair to say a player whose arm has drawn comparisons to Joe Flacco and Ryan Mallett’s wasn’t expected to slide all the way off the draft board. That’s exactly what Bray did, watching 254 other players — 11 of whom were quarterbacks — get their names called as he stared at a phone that wouldn’t ring. As far as undrafted free agents go, Bray made a soft landing. He’s headed to Kansas City, where the race for No. 3 duties is wide open, and he’ll get to work with one of the top QB gurus of his era in Andy Reid. But a player who left Tennessee a year early is almost certainly wondering what might have been had he spent one more year in college honing his scattershot craft. Odds are, Bray’s draft-weekend wait wouldn’t have been so interminable in 2014.
FREE FALL OF THE NIGHT II
Two former Tennessee Volunteers can play this game. But therein lies the first difference. Whereas Tyler Bray chose to become a former Vol, Da’Rick Rogers was given no choice but to transfer after earning an indefinite suspension last August. Rogers was banned for failing multiple drug tests and clashing with coaches. He ended up at FCS Tennessee Tech, where he lit up the stat sheet to the tune of 78 catches for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns. This, after he posted a 67/1,040/9 line his final year at Tennessee. At 6-foot-3, 217 pounds with 4.52 wheels, Rogers has the measurables to go along with the production. He just doesn’t have the attitude, which is why he joined Bray in his descent into undrafted territory. Rogers quickly signed as an UDFA with the Bills, who placed an emphasis on finding freak athletes this year. Rogers certainly qualifies, but it won’t mean anything if he can’t fall in line. If he does, he has a chance to be this year’s Vontaze Burfict: A decorated but disgraced former elite prospect who makes good after being given a second chance. Rogers has the talent, now he needs the sense.
BIGGEST MISS BY MOCK DRAFTS
Johnathan Franklin was the first running back off the board on day three. That’s all good and well, but many projected him to be the first running back off the board, period. By the time the dust had settled, five runners had found new homes before Franklin. “Why?” isn’t exactly clear. Unlike last year’s big RB faller, Chris Polk, Franklin doesn’t have any obvious medical concerns. His 4.49 speed is more than adequate for a player his size (5-foot-10, 205), while he’s been compared to Frank Gore, Doug Martin, Ray Rice and Warrick Dunn, among others. He’s solid both between the tackles and in the passing game. Whatever it was, one of the smartest talent evaluators in the game in Ted Thompson decided he couldn’t watch Franklin fall any further even though he had already used the No. 61 pick on Eddie Lacy. Now Franklin and Lacy have the opportunity to form one of the league’s top “thunder and lightning” duos as rookies. The presence of the other means neither is likely to emerge as an RB1, but at worst, we could have a pair of RB3s on our hands.
BIGGEST REACH OF THE NIGHT
While it’s hard to call the No. 237 pick a reach, it’s even harder to call B.J. Daniels a quarterback. The newest 49er threw for just 52 career touchdowns at USF despite being a four-year starter and attempting over 1,100 passes. That’s not to mention his 39 picks or 57.2 completion percentage. Daniels has some running ability, but not enough to suggest he has a legitimate shot at becoming the next Brad Smith or Antwaan Randle El. The 49ers had an excellent weekend, but capped it off with a truly baffling pick.