Diamonds in the Rough: Every Team’s Best Day 3 Pick in the 2023 NFL Draft
They say that NFL teams sell jerseys with the first round picks and build rosters on day three of the NFL Draft.
Sure, day-one guys are generally the highest-ceiling players, but there’s no doubting the importance of a strong day three in the NFL Draft. It’s a task that can make or break a team’s class and impact their depth and ability to target positions of need in the subsequent free agency periods.
So, I’ve put together a list of my favorite day three picks for every team from the 2023 NFL Draft.
Arizona Cardinals — John Gaines II, Guard
Pick: No. 122 (Round 4)
John Gaines was one of the quickest and most athletic guards in this class at the combine. The Cardinals might have found two starting offensive linemen in this NFL Draft, with Paris Johnson Jr. up top and Gaines in the fourth round. Gaines gives the Cardinals some flexibility as he can play both guard spots and center.
Atlanta Falcons — Clark Phillips, Cornerback
Pick: No. 113, (Round 4)
Clark Phillips doesn’t have the size or speed to be an every-down starter in the NFL. However, he has the instincts and hands for the ball (six interceptions in 2022) that could make him a contributor at the nickel for the Falcons.
Baltimore Ravens — Kyu Blu-Kelly, Cornerback
Pick: No. 157 (Round 5)
Blu-Kelly has excellent foot quickness and long arms that will allow him to stay with receivers and make plays on the ball. Baltimore signed cornerback Rock Ya-Sin to start opposite Marlon Humphrey on Wednesday. Still, Blu-Kelly should be Humphrey’s backup and get some looks as a rookie, especially if there are injuries atop Baltimore’s razor-thin secondary depth chart.
Buffalo Bills — Nick Broeker, Guard
Pick: No. 230 (Round 7)
School: Ole Miss
Broeker lacks the explosiveness you would like to see in a starting guard, but he’s an assignment-sound player. Broeker will provide the Bills with depth at all three interior spots. That’s excellent value for the 230th pick in the NFL Draft.
Carolina Panthers — Chandler Zavala, Guard
Pick: No. 114 (Round 4)
School: North Carolina State
Chandler Zavala was a non-combine invitee but has NFL size, play strength, and movement skills. He can move around the inside but will probably back up Chandler Corbett on the right side to start his career. Still, I think he could be a starter for the Titans on the interior one day.
Chicago Bears — Tyler Scott, Wide Receiver
Pick: No. 133 (Round 4)
I love this pick! Tyler Scott has elite speed and sticky hands and can stretch the field. He’s a lot like Darnell Mooney. Suppose the Bears choose not to extend Mooney. In that case, they already have his potential replacement in their wide receivers room with the Tyler Scott selection.
Cincinnati Bengals — Chase Brown, Running Back
Pick: No. 163 (Round 5)
Chase Brown will slot in behind Joe Mixon to start the season and could eventually replace Mixon. That’s excellent value for a fifth-round pick. Cincinnati continues to do well in the NFL Draft.
Cleveland Browns — Dawand Jones, Tackle
Pick: No. 111 (Round 4)
School: Ohio State
The Browns landed a projected first or second-round talent at tackle in the fourth round. Jones will start his career behind Jedrick Wills Jr. at left tackle, but don’t be surprised if he eventually replaces Wills on the left side in the next couple of seasons.
Dallas Cowboys — Deuce Vaughn, Running Back
Pick: No. 212 (Round 6)
School: Kansas State
Vaughn was eighth in the nation in rushing yards (1,552) and No. 1 in scrimmage yards (1,936) for the Kansas State Wildcats. However, Vaughn is five-foot-five, and his measurables don’t stack up with the elite prospects in this draft. That could explain why he was available for the Cowboys at No. 212 on Saturday.
Denver Broncos — Alex Forsyth, Center
Pick: No. 257 (Round 7)
Alex Forsyth battled with injuries during the pre-draft process but was among the higher-graded senior centers in the draft. Great value for the Broncos here, landing Forsyth in the seventh round.
Detroit Lions — Colby Sorsdal, Tackle
Pick: No. 152 (Round 5)
School: William & Mary
Sorsdal is an athletic and versatile lineman who has excellent size (6-5, 304). He interviewed well for multiple teams in the pre-draft process.
Green Bay Packers — Colby Wooden, Defensive Tackle
Pick: No. 116 (Round 4)
Wooden will be a day-one rotation piece on Green Bay’s defensive line. He will join Lukas Van Ness and Karl Brooks in the mix for immediate roles with the Packers in a class that injected some juice and depth into their defensive front.
Houston Texans — Jarrett Patterson, Center
Pick: No. 201 (Round 6)
School: Notre Dame
Houston double-dipped at center in this draft. Juice Scruggs will be their center, and Notre Dame’s Jarrett Patterson will provide depth at multiple interior positions.
Indianapolis Colts — Darius Rush, Cornerback
Pick: No. 138 (Round 5)
School: South Carolina
Rush possesses outstanding speed (4.36) and athleticism. He has the ability to run routes with any wide receiver. However, the tackling needs to be much better at the next level. Still, Rush figures to be second on the Colts’ depth chart on the outside this season and could see snaps with injuries in his rookie season.
Jacksonville Jaguars — Parker Washington, Wide Receiver
Pick: No. 185 (Round 6)
School: Penn State
Had Parker Washington not missed the entire pre-draft process with an injury, he likely would have been a top-100 pick in the NFL Draft. Jacksonville will probably use Washington as the second slot wide receiver behind Christian Kirk, so an immediate role player in the sixth round makes this a high-value pick for the Jaguars with tons of upside if Washington can stay healthy.
Kansas City Chiefs — Chamarri Conner, Safety
Pick: No. 119 (Round 4)
School: Virginia Tech
Chamarri Conner is a versatile defensive back who could see some snaps this season as a nickel back. Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo loved Conner, and Chiefs scouts said that Conner’s versatility drew the Chiefs to him. Connor will probably be a day-one contributor on special teams as well.
Las Vegas Raiders — Jakorian Bennett, Cornerback
Pick: No. 104 (Round 4)
The Raiders needed a cornerback in the draft. Still, they couldn’t pass on Tyree Wilson when he fell to them at No. 7. However, Jakorian Bennett was projected by many to be a late first-round or early second-round pick in this class. Vegas snagging the Maryland corner at No. 104 is excellent value.
Los Angeles Chargers — Derius Davis, Wide Receiver
Pick: No. 125 (Round 4)
Quentin Johnston’s TCU teammate Derius Davis has remarkable speed (4.36 40 and 1.46 10-yard split) and was responsible for five punt-return touchdowns in college, averaging 15.0 yards per return in his career. Davis could be an immediate contributor in Los Angeles in the return game.
Los Angeles Rams — Zach Evans, Running Back
Pick: No. 215 (Round 6)
School: Ole Miss
Zach Evans will be in the mix for a job this season in Los Angeles. Heck, he might even be the No. 2 back by the time they break camp. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry in college, and his tape had no shortage of explosive plays. Landing a starter or role player in the sixth round would be a rare “W” in this Rams draft class.
Miami Dolphins — Elijah Higgins, Wide Receiver
Pick: No. 197 (Round 6)
Elijah Higgins can work in the middle of the field or outside. He will likely get immediate work as a tight end in Mike McDaniel’s offense in Miami. Higgins is a screen pass threat, and his quick start-stop ability will make him a threat with the ball after the catch.
Minnesota Vikings — Jay Ward, Cornerback
Pick: No. 134 (Round 4)
Ward is a high-motor cornerback (who also played safety in college) who has solid play recognition and read abilities. Minnesota needed secondary help, and Ward could see immediate snaps at nickel for the Vikings.
New England Patriots — Kayshon Boutte, Wide Receiver
Pick: No. 187 (Round 6)
Kayshon Boutte was once considered a first-round caliber talent, but a disappointing 2022 season — 48 catches for 538 yards and two touchdowns — for LSU, as well as some injuries and effort concerns, caused his stock to drop pretty hard. Still, he’s an exciting talent and worth the risk of a sixth-round pick.
New Orleans Saints — Jake Haener, Quarterback
Pick: No. 127 (Round 4)
School: Fresno State
The Senior Bowl MVP can sling it. Jameis Winston will be gone next season, and Haener will be Derek Carr’s primary backup in New Orleans. Since I don’t have much confidence in Carr, Haener is in an excellent position to get a look when the Saints eventually pull the plug on the Carr experience in NOLA.
New York Giants — Eric Gray, Running Back
Pick: No. 120 (Round 4)
In a class loaded with running back talent, the Giants found a potential change-of-pace back for Saquon Barkley in the fourth round. Good value here for Joe Schoen and the Giants.
New York Jets — Carter Warren, Tackle
Pick: No. 120 (Round 4)
Thanks to Bill Belichick trading the No. 14 pick to the Steelers, the Jets couldn’t land a much-needed tackle in the first three rounds of the draft. However, Carter Warren could become a valuable swing tackle in New York. According to Dane Brugler, he would have been a top-100 pick had he not missed most of the last six months with a knee injury.
Philadelphia Eagles — Kelee Ringo, Cornerback
Pick: No. 105 (Round 4)
Kelee Ringo slipping to No. 105 was a surprising turn of events. However, there were talented cornerbacks aplenty in the early rounds of the draft. Ringo is a candidate for my Day 3 diamonds story that will drop on Friday. So again, a great value in that pick for Howie Roseman and the Eagles.
Pittsburgh Steelers — Corey Trice Jr., Cornerback
Pick: No. 241 (Round 7)
Corey Trice Jr. was a top-100 talent whom the Steelers landed at No. 241 in the NFL Draft. Trice is a depth addition for the Steelers right now, but he has excellent positional versatility. He could be a contributor for the Steelers if healthy. If he does, this is an exceptional value for Pittsburgh in a draft that I ranked as my fifth favorite in the class due to the efficiency that features six of their seven players being top-100 talents on Dane Brugler’s big board.
San Francisco 49ers — Ronnie Bell, Wide Receiver
Pick: No. 253 (Round 7)
Ronnie Bell could see work as a slot option in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and a returner on special teams. Despite his athleticism and speed, Bell didn’t develop into a reliable deep or vertical threat at Michigan. However, there isn’t a better staff and system to extract the value out of Bell than Kyle Shanahan’s in San Francisco.
Seattle Seahawks — Kenny McIntosh, Running Back
Pick: No. 237 (Round 7)
Kenny McIntosh averaged 5.6 yards per carry on 149 carries with 10 rushing touchdowns at Georgia last season. Oh, and he caught 43 passes for 505 yards (11.7 YPC) and two touchdowns. It’s a running back by-committee world in the NFL, and I see McIntosh getting some run behind Kenneth Walker III in Seattle.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Payne Durham, Tight End
Pick: No. 171 (Round 5)
Payne Durham was a consistent pass catcher and reliable blocker at Purdue. Durham caught 56 passes for 560 yards and eight touchdowns for the Boilermakers in 2022. Durham could be a red zone target and a reliable blocker for the Buccaneers, setting him up for a potentially limited role in their offense.
Tennessee Titans — Josh Whyle, Tight End
Pick: No. 147 (Round 5)
Josh Whyle had more than 30 scholarship offers, including Wisconsin, Auburn, Georgia, and Tennessee coming out of high school but chose Cincinnati. He immediately becomes Tennessee’s No. 2 tight end behind Chigoziem Okonkwo. He could provide the Titans with a vertical threat in the passing game sooner than later as he arrives in Tennessee with a strong receiving profile.
Washington Commanders — K.J. Henry, EDGE
Pick: No. 233 (Round 7)
K.J. Henry might have been the third Clemson defensive lineman taken in the draft. Still, he led them all in quarterback pressures last season. Henry isn’t projected to have the size to be an every-down player in the NFL. Still, he has the tools to be a situational pass rusher in Washington.