Th­ese late NFL picks could prove to be steals

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - FANCY STATS BY MIKE RENNER sports@wash­post.com

In 2016, it was Dal­las quar­ter­back Dak Prescott and Chicago run­ning back Jor­dan Howard. Two years ago, it was Mi­ami run­ning back Jay Ajayi, New Eng­land de­fen­sive end Trey Flow­ers and At­lanta de­fen­sive tackle Grady Jar­rett. Day 3 of the NFL draft still can pro­vide long-term, qual­ity starters, but teams just have to know the right places to look.

Through Pro Foot­ball Fo­cus’s grad­ing, we have iden­ti­fied th­ese five play­ers as the most likely 2017 can­di­dates to out­per­form their Day 3 draft sta­tus with their new teams.

1. Carl Law­son, OLB, Ben­gals (Round 4, 116th pick over­all)

Med­i­cal is­sues likely dropped the Auburn edge de­fender to the fourth round, but fully healthy, this is the steal of the draft. Law­son earned the fifth-high­est pass­rush­ing grade in the na­tion last year de­spite play­ing only 65.1 per­cent of the Tigers’ de­fen­sive snaps. He might be lim­ited to be­ing a des­ig­nated pass rusher early in his ca­reer, but there’s lit­tle to sug­gest he won’t be ex­tremely ef­fec­tive in that role.

2. Ge­orge Kit­tle, TE, 49ers (Round 5, No. 146)

Kit­tle is ev­ery­thing San Fran­cisco Coach Kyle Shana­han wants in a tight end. The Iowa prod­uct can block and has speed to stretch the field on cross­ing routes. That com­bi­na­tion is go­ing to be hard to keep off the field. In 2016, Kit­tle earned the fifth-high­est run-block­ing grade of any tight end in the coun­try. As a fan­tas­tic blocker and ex­plo­sive ath­lete, Kit­tle will fit in nicely with the 49ers.

3. Des­mond King, CB, Charg­ers (Round 5, No. 151)

Whether it’s at cor­ner­back or safety for Los An­ge­les, King has an in­nate feel for cov­er­age that can’t be taught. While his ath­leti­cism and size are lack­ing at the NFL level, King made up for those short­com­ings with other traits at Iowa. In 2015, he led the na­tion with 20 com­bined in­ter­cep­tions and pass breakups. That play­mak­ing abil­ity will trans­late to the NFL.

4. Ste­vie Tu’ikolo­vatu, DT, Buc­ca­neers (Round 7, No. 223)

Tu’ikolo­vatu has all the skills nec­es­sary to be­come a rare NFL star at nose tackle. In his fi­nal sea­son at South­ern Cal, Tu’ikolo­vatu was eas­ily the high­est­graded de­fen­sive tackle in run de­fense.

5. Eli­jah Hood, RB, Raiders (Round 7, No. 242)

With Mar­shawn Lynch, 31, as the starter, there’s likely a good deal of car­ries to be had be­hind the for­mer Seat­tle Sea­hawk in Oak­land. An in­jury-ham­pered 2016 likely dropped Hood to the sev­enth round, but the North Carolina prod­uct’s 2015 tape is that of an early-round back.

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