2016 NFL Draft Day-Two Values: Defense

2016 NFL Draft Day-Two Values: Defense
2016 NFL Draft Potential Busts: Offense | 2016 NFL Draft Potential Busts: Defense

2016 NFL Draft Day-Two Values: Offense | 2016 NFL Draft Day-Two Values: Defense

2016 NFL Draft Day-Three Sleepers

Published April 22, 2016
By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

In the recent weeks, there have been a lot of questions about who are my value picks in the 2016 NFL Draft class. A value or sleeper prospect is basically a player who gets drafted after the first round and proves to be a steal. The second day of the draft is where the men are separated from the boys among NFL general managers. All the players have strengths and flaws, but the top evaluators find future starters and team building blocks on Day 2. Every year, I pick my favorite second-day value. Here is my record.

2008 Pick: Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
2009 Pick: Mike Wallace, WR, Ole Miss
2010 Pick: Brian Price, DT, UCLA and Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida
2011 Pick: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
2012 Pick: Derek Wolfe, DL, Cincinnati
2013 Pick: Larry Warford, G, Kentucky
2014 Pick: Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
2015 Pick: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M and Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
2016 Pick: Jaylon Smith, LB Notre Dame and Sheldon Day, DT Notre Dame

Overall, this list is very strong with the one exception being Brian Price. Unfortunately, family tragedies robbed him of being able to put an NFL career together. Flowers has had a Pro Bowl career. Wallace has been a good pro receiver and helped get the Steelers to a Super Bowl. Houston is a pass-rushing terror for the Chiefs, while Warford is one of the best young guards in the NFL. Warford has been better than top-10 picks at guard in the same draft class, Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper. Hill flashed as a rookie and could be in store for some good years.

Last year, I went with Cedric Ogbuehi with Ronald Darby being my backup. Since Ogbuehi was selected in the first round, he doesn’t count for the long-term track record. Darby had a strong rookie year for Buffalo and looks like he’ll have a very good NFL career.

Here is a breakdown of a sleeper prospect at each position for the 2016 NFL Draft class. All the players will be prospects who are going on the second or third day of the draft. If a player is a perceived to be a late first-round pick, I generally don’t include him as an option.

Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame
My choice for the top value pick in the 2016 NFL Draft is below, but since he is a unique player in a different circumstance, I’m going to make a second choice to go with him. The other player I’m selecting for the top value pick in the 2016 NFL Draft is Day. This was a really tough choice because this is such a deep class of defensive linemen. I also thought about UCLA’s Kenny Clark, Baylor’s Andrew Billings, Ohio State’s Adolphus Washington, Penn State’s Austin Johnson and Nebraska’s Maliek Collins.

I went with Day because he is very fast and disruptive at the point of attack. Day has the speed to fire his gap and get after quarterbacks in the pass rush. He also causes havoc in the ground game with the speed to chase down backs. Day (6-0, 293) is undersized, so he’ll slide in the draft, but I think he could turn into a high-impact interior defender who ends up being a Pro Bowler.

2015 Pick: Michael Bennett
2014 Pick: Dominique Easley and Taylor Hart

Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame
This was an easy choice for me as Smith is a rare talent. He would have been a top-five pick had he been healthy, but after a devastating knee injury, he is projected to slide to the second day of the 2016 NFL Draft.

For the next level, Smith does everything well and there isn’t a weakness in his game. In run defense, he has sideline-to-sideline speed to track down ball-carriers. Smith has tremendous instincts to be a force near the line of scrimmage, too. In pass coverage, Smith is an extremely rare prospect. He could be a tremendous linebacker weapon to neutralize receiving threat tight ends and help against receivers in the middle of the field. For zone coverage, Smith is skilled to pick up receivers coming into his area and keeping them from getting open. Smith also is a dangerous blitzer when given the opportunity to rush the passer.

Smith also is great off the field with his character and work ethic. Because of that, I think Smith will be the steal of the 2016 NFL Draft. He will probably miss the 2016 season, but I believe his intangibles will allow him to come back from this injury and play again at a high level. I think the team that drafts Smith will be rewarded with a player who could be one of the top inside linebackers in the NFL.

2015 Pick: Denzel Perryman
2014 Pick: Kyle Van Noy

Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
This was another tough choice because of Fuller coming off a serious injury and I really like Baylor’s Xavien Howard and Miami’s Artie Burns. Some teams feel that based off the tape, Fuller is the best cover corner to prevent separation in the 2016 NFL Draft. He was tremendous at running with speedy wideouts and battling big receivers. Fuller was gritty in the ground game and a real presence for his defense. If Fuller were healthy and had repeated his freshman or sophomore season as a junior, he would be a slam-dunk top-20 pick. If Fuller can get healthy and return to his previous form, he’ll be one of the steals of the 2016 NFL Draft.

2015 Pick: Ronald Darby
2014 Pick: Marcus Roberson

Keanu Neal, S, Florida
Neal is on the bubble of the first-round in some mock drafts, but I think there’s a 50-50 chance he ends up being a second-rounder. At Florida, Neal showed everything you need to see for him to be a versatile NFL safety. As a sophomore, he was good playing the free safety role as a deep center fielder. He showed he can cover receivers deep and be a reliable last line of defense. In 2015, Neal was the strong safety and a physical force who showed he could play some dime – obvious passing situations – linebacker as well. He was a tough tackler and run defender as the eighth man in the box. He also was an enforcer in the short to intermediate part of the field with an intimidating presence. The 6-foot, 211-pounder is instinctive, strong and fast. In the NFL, he would be great in a defense that likes to flip its safeties pre-snap. I think Neal will have a long productive NFL career.

2015 Pick: Damarious Randall
2014 Pick: Dion Bailey

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