NFL

Steals of the NFL Draft: Rounds 1-3

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Round 1, Pick 9: Buffalo Bills draft DT Ed Oliver

It wasn’t the most pressing need for the Bills, but they had to have been thrilled when Oliver fell into their lap with the ninth pick. A consensus top-five talent, Oliver should replace Kyle Williams on the Bills defensive line, which is fitting. Both have faced questions about being undersized, and both use their incredibly high motors to make some great plays. A safe pick that ends up being a steal could spell problems for AFC East quarterbacks in the coming years.

Round 1, Pick 26: Washington Redskins draft DE Montez Sweat

Washington didn’t have to trade up from 15 to select Dwayne Haskins, but they did give up two second-round picks to the Colts in order to take Montez Sweat at 26. Considered to be one of the top pass rushers in the draft, Sweat’s stock dropped after he was diagnosed with a minor heart condition, that may or may not have been misdiagnosed anyway. He tallied 22.5 sacks over his last two seasons at Mississippi State, ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the combine, and the Redskins were able to get him late in the first round, for just a pair of second-round picks.

Round 2, Pick 3: Jacksonville Jaguars draft OT Jawaan Taylor

After also managing to steal Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick, the Jaguars traded up in the second round to select Jawaan Taylor, who they were projected to take in the first round. Jacksonville needed protection for Nick Foles after allowing 53 sacks in 2018, and Taylor’s size and physicality made him the perfect selection early in the second.

Round 2, Pick 16: New Orleans Saints draft C Erik McCoy

The Saints sent three picks to Miami in order to move up 14 spots and draft McCoy, but they managed to fill what was probably their biggest void after the retirement of Max Unger. McCoy can play guard if needed, but he will likely compete for the starting center job from the moment he steps on the field. He started 39 games over three seasons at Texas A&M and has shown high intelligence both on and off the field.

Round 2, Pick 19: Tennessee Titans draft WR AJ Brown

Perhaps overshadowed by fellow Ole Miss receiver DK Metcalf following the combine, Brown still came off the board first in the second round. He isn’t small, listed at 6’1″, 226, and he’s able to catch the ball in traffic with some pretty good speed for his size. He should be able to bring a spark to a Titans offense that only passed for 205 yards per game last season.

Round 2, Pick 28: LA Chargers draft S Nasir Adderly

Adderly was mocked in the late first or early second rounds, so getting him at 60 overall has to feel like a win for the Chargers. Adderly has excellent ball-hawking ability, and has the versatility to play either safety or cornerback. Pairing him with Derwin James and Casey Hayward in the Chargers secondary should provide an immediate improvement after LA released Jahleel Addae this offseason.

Round 3, Pick 13: New England Patriots draft DE Chase Winovich

Another top pass rusher who fell due to some concerns about his size, Winovich could end up being a perfect fit in New England. Similar like guys to Mike Vrabel and Kyle Van Noy, he can play either on the line or as a linebacker. He’s not explosive, but he still recorded 34.5 TFLs in the last two seasons at Michigan, along with 18.5 sacks. 77 overall is a good value for someone who can rack up that level of production.

Round 3, Pick 19: Pittsburgh Steelers draft CB Justin Layne

Steelers fans may have been miffed when they selected receiver Deionte Johnson with their first pick in the third round, but they more than made up for it by selecting Layne. He wasn’t expected to fall that far due to his size (6’2″, 192) and physicality, but he was and Pittsburgh was able to fill its biggest need in the middle of the third round with a pretty good player. Layne broke up 15 passes and had 72 tackles for Michigan State last season.

Image Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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