NFL draft winners, losers: Bears puzzle with punter pick on Day 3

NFL draft winners, losers: Bears puzzle with punter pick on Day 3


Day 3 of the NFL draft never can yield the same level of drama as the previous two nights, but Saturday brought about more than just closure to the festivities in Detroit.

With analysts widely questioning the depth of this year’s class, teams nevertheless went about their business in trying to find longshot starters and long-term assets. Several big-name college standouts saw their extended waits finally end, while others had to settle for trying to latch on with teams as undrafted free agents.

Here are the teams, players, picks and moments that stood out the most from Saturday.

NFL draft winners of Day 3

Howie Roseman

No one maneuvers around the draft board quite like the Philadelphia Eagles executive vice president and general manager. Roseman orchestrated nine trades throughout the course of the draft, the most for any one team since 1990. He extracted some substantial additional value for the future by doing so, including a 2025 third-round pick thanks to his willingness to part with a fourth-rounder this year. And his Day 3 picks themselves were solid, too, with fourth-round running back Will Shipley, fifth-round receiver Ainias Smith and sixth-round receiver Johnny Wilson all looking capable of aiding the passing game through specific roles. The speedster Smith also could yield big value as a returner in the aftermath of the league’s new kickoff return rules.

Bo Nix

In making the jump to the Denver Broncos’ expected starting quarterback from an Oregon offense that provided him lots of easy quick hits, Nix looked to have a somewhat inauspicious setup for his pro transition. The outlook might be more favorable after Saturday, when the Broncos nabbed Troy Franklin – Nix’s former favorite target on the Ducks – in the fourth round after the receiver’s slide. One of the major adjustments Nix will need to make will be holding onto the ball longer and letting plays develop after many of his attempts were at or behind the line of scrimmage. With the speedy Franklin at his disposal, however, the signal-caller has a target with whom he already has a rapport and an established track record of connecting on downfield shots. Good chance for Franklin to emerge as at least a solid No. 2 as early as his rookie year … though Nix has to hope Courtland Sutton’s discontent with his contract doesn’t boil over.


Good day elsewhere for the Ducks, who had six players selected in total on Saturday, including five in Round 4. Running back Bucky Irving landed in a solid spot with the Buccaneers, who seem intent on improving a run game that averaged a league-worst 3.4 yards per carry last season.


No, Jim Harbaugh’s assertion that his final Wolverines squad would break Georgia’s record for players taken in a single draft (15) didn’t pan out. But Michigan still set an all-time school best with 13 of its products hearing their names called throughout the three days, which also was the top mark among all schools this year. A late push – four players came off the board in the seventh round – helped seal the honor. And it was only fitting that Harbaugh put the team over the top by nabbing wide receiver Cornelius Johnson with his final pick at No. 253 overall.

Running backs

The long-awaited run on ball carriers finally began Saturday, with seven being claimed in Round 4. None is likely to end up in featured roles, to the extent such a thing is even within reach for a rookie anymore (recall how the season started out for 2023 No. 8 overall pick Bijan Robinson). But several still have a reasonable path to early playing time.

Anthony Richardson

Chris Ballard is leaving no doubt about his intent to equip his second-year quarterback with sufficient support as Indianapolis tries to tap into the 6-4, 244-pound passer’s singular playmaking potential. After giving him dynamic second-round receiver Adonai Mitchell on Friday, Ballard returned with fleet-footed guard Taron Bortolini in the fourth and fast-moving receiver Anthony Gould in the fifth. No question that Richardson should return from his season-ending shoulder surgery feeling empowered.


Take a bow, Motown. You put on a fine show and turned out quite the crowd, establishing a record with more than 700,000 fans. The competition to host is stiff, but here’s to betting the event should be coming back down the line.

Jared Wiley

What tight end wouldn’t want to learn under Travis Kelce, catch passes from Patrick Mahomes and operate in Andy Reid’s scheme? The TCU product, whom the Kansas City Chiefs picked in the fourth round, landed in a nearly optimal situation for the long term. And don’t overlook the possibility that he makes his mark in the passing game right away, as Mahomes might quickly be drawn to a big-bodied target who can move the chains, especially given the unsure state of Kansas City’s receiving corps as a potential Rashee Rice suspension looms.

International flair

On a day the NFL put the spotlight on its fan base outside of the United States, it was only appropriate that the globetrotting continued with a couple teams’ selections. The Detroit Lions rolled the dice by trading to get into the fourth round for Giovanni Manu, the 6-7, 352-pound offensive tackle from British Columbia whose development likely will require an extended timeline. To kick off the seventh round, the Buffalo Bills turned to English rugby player Travis Clayton. Good showcase for the International Pathway Program.

Qwan’tez Stiggers

Another outlier in the draft process, Stiggers rode his one year of Canadian Football League stardom into a spot in the fifth round of the NFL draft. It’s an almost unfathomable ascension for a prospect who withdrew from Division II Lane College and did not play a snap of college football after his father died. And the New York Jets’ inside look at the team’s phone call informing Stiggers of the pick made the moment that much better.

NFL draft losers of Day 3

Spencer Rattler

His draft slide finally ended, but it was a full-on crash landing for a quarterback who once appeared to be not too far both from the top tier of passers. In the end, there were 137 selections between Bo Nix and Rattler, which set a record for the largest gap between quarterback picks. Perpetually in win-now mode, the New Orleans Saints don’t seem like an operation in good position to develop a young quarterback, and Derek Carr’s contract likely locks him in for at least two more years.

Chicago Bears

When a franchise lands one of the most decorated draft prospects in years and equips him with a go-to target, maybe it’s immune from draft criticism. But the fourth-round selection of punter Tory Taylor was truly puzzling for a franchise that had just four choices before trading into the fifth for promising pass rusher Austin Booker. While using a pick on a punter isn’t as ill-advised as investing in a kicker, this still seemed like a stretch, especially with the rest of the roster needing to be rounded out. No. 1 pick Caleb Williams apparently told the record-setting Taylor “you’re not going to punt too much here.” But coach Matt Eberflus went so far as to call him a “weapon.” We’ll see.

Dak Prescott

Despite their glaring need for a running back, the Dallas Cowboys did not add a single ball carrier in the entire draft. This would seem to only heighten the possibility of Ezekiel Elliott’s return. Is this what Jerry Jones’ version of “all in” looks like? Having Prescott hand off to a back who averaged 3.5 yards per carry last year seems to be setting the offense up to fail. Things sure have changed since Mike McCarthy’s “run the damn ball” remark last offseason … but not for the better.

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