John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien. They all heard their names called before Dan Marino. The 1983 NFL Draft class might have been the best talent ever assembled. But it also taught the league and the fans that players tumble down a pretty steep hill for a myriad of reasons.
Marino was the sixth passer taken in the first round and found a home in Miami. The gods were with him on that fateful day.
Aaron Rodgers waited and waited until the Green Bay Packers drafted him and made him the immediate heir apparent to Brett Favre. Emmitt Smith took a bit of a tumble before the Dallas Cowboys drafted the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.
After last year’s “Laremy Tunsil” incident where a picture of an immature college kid wearing gas mask smoking a substance made headlines, the Mississippi tackle tumbled to No. 13. Once again, the Miami Dolphins were the benefit of such a move.
This year, there could be fireworks and excitement in the first round. Cornerbacks figure to highlight the first 32 picks with a smattering of pass rushers and potentially a sizable amount of signal callers. It could also mean someone takes a “Tunsil-like” fall. The rookie from Miami proved he was one of the better draft picks last year. And with the potential for someone to “slip” it could mean a franchise cashes in on greatest later rather than sooner.
Here is a look at seven potential players who could tumble in the first or second round of the NFL Draft and prove to be a steal for whichever team picks them.
Dalvin Cook, Running Back, FSU – Cook can still be the best back to come out of this draft class. But there are still questions about his pass blocking, his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and the company he keeps off the field. Cook has breakaway speed and showed at his Pro Day he can do what is asked of him on the next level. I think he is a top 15 talent that could slip to the back end of the first round.
Deshone Kizer, Quarterback, Notre Dame – All you hear now is there will be a run on quarterbacks. There will also be as many as five taken in the first round. But Kizer is the signal caller nobody is talking about. If there is a list in order of passer: Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Davis Webb and then Kizer. The Notre Dame product could slip to the back of the first or early second round. Someone is going to get a solid quarterback later than expected.
Reuben Foster, Linebacker, Alabama – For whatever the reason, this could be a situation where Foster moves up the board (4th to Jacksonville) or falls farther than 9th to Cincinnati. Baltimore will be licking its chops if he is there at 16. Foster might be the best player in this Draft and could still tumble. That basis is purely on how draft classes have fared in the past.
Malik McDowell, Defensive Tackle, Michigan State – McDowell could be in play as early as the middle of the Draft (16th to Baltimore or 17th to Washington). There are also reports he could slip as far as 28th to Dallas. McDowell is the best defensive tackle in this draft and should make an impact on the team that drafts him. Look for him to slide a bit. Therefore, he could find a team he can fit into a rotation without the need to start immediately.
Takkarist McKinley, Outside Linebacker, UCLA – This is purely because of numbers. McKinley, who is an outside linebacker, may slip to the last few picks of the first round or the first half of the second round because the linebacker unit isn’t strong. There will be a run on cornerbacks and potentially quarterbacks, sending him further down the draft list. McKinley has great size at 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds. He could find a home in the NFL as an edge rusher.
Zach Cunningham, Outside Linebacker, Vanderbilt – A month ago, there was no doubt Cunningham would be a top 20 pick. Now, with defensive backs getting all the publicity, Cunningham takes a tumble. The idea that five teams could draft quarterbacks in the first round could also send him into a tailspin. Cunningham could be the next Derrick Johnson, but teams will take other needs before drafting him.
Jalen Tabor, Cornerback, Florida – The only “Teez,” Tabor has been is in his workouts at the Combine and his Pro Day. There is no doubt Tabor is a great athlete and cover cornerback. There are three years of highlight reels showing what he can do on a football field. Teams may shy away from him because of his brashness and his poor practices. But the team that takes him will get one of the best players in this draft.