Day 3 at the NFL Draft is off and running, and some intriguing picks were made early: the Philadelphia Eagles moved up to get Matt Barkley, three-time national champ Nico Johnson is off the board, and wide receivers Ace Sanders and Josh Boyce have NFL homes.
Here's a look at the first five picks of the fourth round:
No. 98, Philadelphia Eagles (from Jaguars): Matt Barkley, QB, USC
The Eagles traded with the Jaguars for the first pick of the fourth round and got a quarterback, grabbing another guy Chip Kelly faced off against as a Pac-12 head coach. Somewhat of a weird fit -- Nick Foles seems like the backup -- but the Eagles seem to want Barkley, considering they made a trade to get a guy who some thought could be a No. 1 pick after his junior year. From SB Nation's post on the pick:
"He doesn't have the strongest arm, but he can put the ball on you," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said on NFL Network. "It's about the player, not the plays. They're going to run plays to take advantage of his skill set."
No. 99, Kansas City Chiefs: Nico Johnson, LB, Alabama
Johnson won three national championships as a starter for the Crimson Tide, the 33rd SEC player in 99 picks and yet another Alabama guy. He fills a need for the Jags at inside linebacker. A brief writeup of Johnson:
He is a disciplined player who plays his assignment well and takes on blockers to free up his teammates, allowing them to make plays. He is also skilled at shedding blockers and won't be out-hustled. But he lacks as a playmaker, never solidifying his roll [sic] as a starter at Alabama. He is better suited to play the run than to drop back in coverage.
No. 100, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from Raiders): Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois
One of the worst defenses in the league last season traded with the Raiders, allowing them to add a playmaker on the defensive side in the ball. Spence continues in the tradition of Illinois defensive linemen such as Whitney Mercilus and Corey Liuget. On Spence's time at Illinois:
Spence redshirted his freshman year, but became a full-time starter the following season. He was named as a First-Team Freshman All-American by several sources after recording 45 total tackles, four tackles for loss and a sack. He would go on to start 38 consecutive games during his tenure at Illinois.
No. 101, Jacksonville Jaguars: Ace Sanders, WR, South Carolina
Sanders is a speedster who could be able to contribute on special teams, but his size -- just 5'8 -- raised concerns. On Sanders:
Sanders is undersized at just 5'7, but he plays with fearlessness and has brilliant vision, particularly on punt returns. Before his teammate, Jadeveon Clowney, damn near murdered someone on the football field, Sanders provided us with among the best highlights of the college football season with his punt return touchdown against Georgia.
No. 102, New England Patriots: Josh Boyce, WR, TCU
Like Sanders, Boyce is an absolute speedster, running a 4.38 at the combine. He'll add to a Pats team that's looking to replace Wes Welker and has a pair of injured tight ends. Here's a writeup on TCU's career touchdowns leader:
He's thicker than he is tall, and his 22 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine was second among wide receivers. While working with two different starting quarterbacks in 2012, Boyce had 66 catches for 891 yards and seven touchdowns. Seeing Boyce having big games wasn't rare in 2012. Perhaps the biggest was his six-catch, 180-yard (career high) output against West Virginia. Boyce snared the game-winning 2-point conversion in double-overtime, and his 94-yard touchdown catch earlier in the game was the third-longest play in TCU history.