NFL Draft: Round 3 Analysis

↵What was once Day 1 is now Day 2, meaning we still have a busy third round of analysis ahead, and of course it starts with a trade:
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↵Lions trade up to take Kevin Smith at No. 64 overall. Detroit wanted its pick of all the players remaining, and was willing to send a sixth-rounder to Miami just to move up two spots. The Leos clearly love Kevins with common last names for their backfield, but they better hope Mr. Smith is a lot more durable and productive than Mr. Jones. Smith certainly wasn't a Silent Bob at Central Florida as one of the nation's most prolific backs.
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↵Rams take John Greco at No. 65. A solid pick for St. Louis. It desperately needed some youthful help along its interior offensive line. Greco is one of the draft's top guards, and the Rams got a player who should have been drafted in Round 2.
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↵Dolphins take Kendall Langford at No. 66. Shocking. Bill Parcells starts working on his defensive line on Day 2 after getting a stud for his offensive line on Day 1. Also, with the Hampton tackle being taken, the smaller schools are getting some love early on Sunday.
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↵Panthers take Charles Godfrey at No. 67. The 2008 season was very disappointing for the Iowa Hawkeyes, but Godfrey (pictured) stood out on their defense. Carolina gets a big corner who can help it right away. ↵

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↵Falcons take Chevis Jackson at No. 68. Not to be outdone by the division rival Panthers, Atlanta wastes no time in getting its similarly built corner. Now we're back up to the biggest schools. Jackson was a key part of the national champs' defense.
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↵Chargers trade up to take Jacob Hester at No 69. This was an unnecessary deal and selection this early. Watching Hester run hard at LSU, it's clear he has great heart and toughness, but his upside is limited to a backup running back. The Patriots preyed on San Diego's desperation to back up LaDainian Tomlinson, and came away with stealing a fifth-rounder and a 2009 second-rounder.
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↵Bears take Earl Bennett at No. 70. Wow, Chicago must really think Vandy's offensive players were dandies in '07. Chris Williams will start at tackle, and Bennett, with his smarts, hands and frame, can't be ruled out of starting at wide receiver, considering the team's depleted state at the position.
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↵Ravens take Tavares Gooden at No. 71. Baltimore has a history of hitting on defenders from Miami -- Ray Lewis, Ed Reed -- and they also hit on a need here to help rebuild their defense. Gooden can eventually start for them at outside linebacker, and may end up being a better defender than Hurricanes teammate Calais Campbell.
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↵Bills take Chris Ellis at No. 72. Like I said in early Round 2 with cornerback Brandon Flowers, I like Virginia Tech defenders. I just think they get it. Ellis can contribute as a pass rusher as a rookie. Buffalo is quietly having a good draft after grabbing a corner and a wideout on Day 1.
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↵Chiefs take Jamaal Charles at No. 73. I love this pick. This is whom the Chargers should have taken as LT's new backup. KC can't be sure about the future of Larry Johnson, and Charles gives them someone to at least steal a few touches to keep Johnson healthier. The explosive Longhorns back is more like a first- or second-round talent.
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↵Panthers take Dan Connor at No. 74. Carolina got another hardnosed Dan at linebacker a few years ago, but unfortunately, Dan Morgan never could stay on the field healthy. Going to Linebacker U. to get Connor is smart pick. The Panthers will love his work ethic.
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↵49ers take Reggie Smith at No. 75. The Oklahoma cornerback was tabbed as a potential first-round pick, so the Niners should be happy with striking this value. Once again, Mike Nolan goes defense. Smith will have the chance to learn well in the secondary from Nate Clements.
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↵Chiefs take Brad Cottam at No. 76. KC comes away with another good pick. Cottam might end up being the best tight end in this class if he can stay healthy. And remember, Tony Gonzalez just turned 32 in February.
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↵Bengals take Pat Sims at No. 77. An unnamed Sporting Blogger/Cincinnati fan had been hoping since Day 2 started that the Auburn defensive tackle would slide to his team. Chris gets his wish as the Bengals address perhaps their biggest need with a good value here.
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↵Patriots take Shawn Crable at No. 78. There's something about Michigan linebackers and the 3-4 defense, at least in New York and New England. The Jets grabbed David Harris last season, and Victor Hobson left the Jets for the Pats in the offseason. Crable and first-rounder Jerod Mayo are fine picks to help the Pats rebuild that LB corps.
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↵Texans take Antwaun Molden at No. 79. Who knows if and when Dunta Robinson will come back and be an effective cornerback for Houston? So the team had to hedge its bets and draft a corner sometime in the first three rounds. Again, Molden is another CB with great size to potentially handle those big receivers.
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↵Eagles take Bryan Smith at No. 80. So we're back on the small-school run with Smith, a linebacker from McNeese State. He's an underrated outside guy who can be molded well as an aggressive defender in Jim Johnson's scheme.
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↵Cardinals take Early Doucet at No. 81. Better late in the third round than never for Early. He's the third LSU Tiger off the board on Day 2, and the wide receiver probably slipped because of injury issues. In the short term, I think Doucet can be a good No. 3 receiver, and his starter's potential helps if the Cards can't agree with Anquan Boldin. ↵

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↵Chiefs take DeJuan Morgan at No. 82.
Morgan probably expected to go much higher when he decided to leave N.C. State early after his junior season. But his talent probably matches the third round. This is the first iffy pick by KC, but it still fills a need.
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↵Buccaneers take Jeremy Zuttah at No. 83.
The Bucs have done a great job with selecting good interior offensive linemen in recent drafts, and this continues that trend. Zuttah was one of the key blockers for Ray Rice at Rutgers. ↵

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↵Falcons take Harry Douglas at No. 84.
Douglas is best suited as a slot-type receiver. Atlanta might finally have its No. 1 in Roddy White, but it needed more playmakers at the position.
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↵Titans take Craig Stevens at No. 85.
Tennessee gets help for Vince Young in this tight end, but not in the way you think. It's clear Jeff Fisher wants to run the ball often, as Stevens is a great blocker, and should help both rookie Chris Johnson and LenDale White. He'll also be key in providing extra pass protection for VY. ↵

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↵Ravens take Tom Zbikowski at No. 86.
Baltimore must have loved the fight in this part-time boxer. On the field, Zbikowski was a scrappy safety for Notre Dame, and his grit is what got him drafted here. He also contributed nicely in the return game for the Irish and will be a good special teams plugger as a pro.
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↵Lions take Andre Fluellen at No. 87.
Fluellen was hurt by his lack of size, but it's not necessarily a bad thing in the Tampa 2 that Detroit now runs. You also need to trust that coach Rod Marinelli knows what to look for in defensive tackles. ↵

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↵Steelers take Bruce Davis at No. 88.
Shocking: Pittsburgh takes an end/outside linebacker with its blitzing 3-4 defense in mind. It will take the UCLA star time to transition into the right edge presence.
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↵Texans take Steve Slaton at No. 89.
I was wondering when someone would pull the trigger on the West Virginia speedster. Slaton can thank the likes of Darren Sproles and Maurice Jones-Drew for getting him drafted this high. In Gary Kubiak's zone blocking scheme, Slaton can cut-and-go with success, but will he hold up for more than a dozen touches per game?
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↵Bears take Marcus Harrison at No. 90. The Bears continue with a busy Day 2 by addressing another big need at defensive tackle. They just can't seem to keep their rotation healthy, and what happens up front is vital to the success of their linebackers. The big Arkansas product is a good value here. ↵

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↵Packers take Jermichael Finley at No. 91.
Green Bay figured to take an athletic tight end at some point in the draft to help Aaron Rodgers. Finley is a bit raw, but he will allow to the Pack to stay creative with their two-tight end packages with Donald Lee.
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↵Lions trade up to take Cliff Avril at No. 92.
Detroit comes out aggressive with its second move upward to get the guy it wanted after taking Kevin Smith in the top of the round. Purdue has quietly become a good machine for upfield outside linebackers (Shaun Phillips, Anthony Spencer), and Avril's speed and quickness is built for the Tampa 2. ↵

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↵Colts take Phillip Wheeler at No. 93.
Tampa 2 linebacker run! Indy always seems to need linebackers to execute Tony Dungy's scheme. Wheeler comes in with great wheels, especially when going aggressively after the quarterback.
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↵Patriots take Kevin O'Connell at No. 94.
The Pats are always thinking ahead, aren't they? The tall, strong-arm O'Connell is the classic Day 2 QB project. Tom Brady's bad ankle in the Super Bowl and Matt Cassell's bad performance against Miami probably got New England to take a young backup who can be groomed for down the line. ↵

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↵Giants take Mario Manningham at No. 95. Manningham steps into the right situation -- a winning team with a good locker room and front office -- to turn his off-field woes around and deliver the on-field skills he showed at Michigan. Playing with Plaxico Burress -- who has changed a lot himself since entering the league -- will help the rookie wideout. ↵

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↵Redskins take Chad Rinehart at No. 96.
With our first compensatory pick, Washington grabs some much-needed depth for its offensive line, especially with Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen both getting up there and both often getting banged up. ↵

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↵Bengals take Andre Caldwell at No. 97.
Cincy grabs its second receiver of the draft. Interesting. Either Jerome Simpson or Caldwell figures to see plenty of action, competing for the No. 3 job in the wake of Chris Henry's release. Also, we might start believing the Bengals will not budge with Chad Johnson as they make some immediate plans to get by if he holds out.
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↵Falcons take Thomas DeCoud at No. 98.
Another position Atlanta hasn't quite figured out is safety. DeCoud gives the team a good value here, and the Falcons continue to have a fine draft in an important draft year for them. ↵

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↵Ravens take Oniel Cousins at No. 99.
Baltimore was smart to get linebacker Tavares Gooden early in Round 3, and now it works on rebuilding the offensive line with this unheralded tackle out of UTEP. It's a pretty swift round, and other than Slaton, no real big surprises.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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