2015 NFL Draft: Best Picks of the 7th Round

7th round picks are, for the most part, long shots to stick on NFL rosters. They are more likely to be cut than they are to earn regular playing time. Special teams is the main avenue to longevity in the NFL for most 7th rounders. However, there are always guys who outperform expectations and succeed as NFL players.

To grade draft picks and determine which ones are the "best," I use a metric I call Value Score. Value Score is calculated by dividing where a player was drafted by where I had that player ranked on my 2015 Big Board.

Value Score = Draft slot where Player X was selected/Rank of Player X on my board

When a pick earns a Value Score greater than one it means that the player who was drafted would have been near the top of my board at that point in the draft, and I may have picked the same player were I making the decision. A Value Score less than one means that its highly unlikely I would have made the same selection with that draft pick. The higher the score, the more likely it is I would have made the same pick. 

Exactly one-third (13 of 39) of 2015 7th round picks earned a Value Score greater than one. The list of these players is below, along with my analysis of three picks I liked in particular. 

My Favorites:

WR Dezmin Lewis, Central Arkansas - Buffalo Bills

Draft Slot: 234

My Rank: 95

Value Score: 2.46

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Playing wide receiver for the Bills isn't exactly an envious proposition these days. The quarterbacks competing for the starting QB job (Matt Cassell, E.J. Manuel, Tyrod Taylor) have all been below-average up to this point in their respective NFL careers. The Bills are deep at receiver (Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Percy Harvin, Marquise Goodwin, Chris Hogan) which leaves Lewis as no lock to make the final 53 man roster. What Lewis brings that none of Buffalo's other receivers do is size. Standing at 6'4 - 215 lbs, Lewis is the tallest receiver currently on the Bills roster. 

Lewis reminds me a bit of WR Marques Colston coming out of Hofstra in 2006, who was also picked in the 7th round. Both were about 6'4 - 215 lbs when they entered the draft, played at small schools and put up numbers just good enough to get drafted. Colston has been of the most productive 7th round picks in NFL history, and has certainly benefited from playing with QB Drew Brees in New Orleans. Lewis will not be afforded a similar luxury in Buffalo. He will have to earn his roster spot, but if given a chance, he could prove to be an asset as a possession receiver and a red zone target. 

CB Darryl Roberts, Marshall - New England Patriots

Draft Slot: 247

My Rank: 178

Value Score: 1.39

Darryl Roberts was not invited to the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine and his draft stock was lower than it should have been as a result. He is listed at 6'0 - 182 lbs and has an impressive physical skill set, one that doesn't often last until the 7th round. At his pro day, Roberts ran a 4.36 second 40 yard dash and excelled in every drill. 

Of the 13 7th round picks that earned a Value Score greater than one, I believe Roberts has the best chance to earn playing time in 2015. The Patriots lost cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Kyle Arrington in free agency this offseason and have multiple holes to fill in the secondary. Roberts will have his work cut out for him as a 7th round pick, but he has the talent to cover NFL wide receivers.  

WR Tre McBride, William and Mary - Tennessee Titans

Draft Slot: 245

My Rank: 103

Value Score: 2.38

I was a bit surprised Tre McBride lasted all the way to the 245th pick. He was never going to be an early round pick at only 6'0 - 210 lbs coming out of William and Mary, but I expected him to be off the board before the 7th round. A whopping 18 teams attended his pro day after McBride's exceptional combine performance. His results are shown in the graphic below. 

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What impressed me about McBride's college career was that he caught 55 passes for 897 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore. Performance as an underclassman often correlates more strongly to NFL production than does success as a junior or senior, and oddly McBride's best season statistically was his sophomore year. Rumor has it that concerns about his attitude along with a potential ankle injury led to McBride's draft slide. In the 7th round, I don't mind taking a chance on a player with a few red flags. McBride was a quality value pick for the Titans. 

Top Value Scores of the 7th Round

  1. WR Dezmin Lewis (Bills) - 2.46

  2. WR Tre McBride (Titans) - 2.38

  3. TE Ben Koyack (Jaguars) - 1.86

  4. CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (Browns) - 1.84

  5. OL Corey Robinson (Lions) - 1.80

  6. S Gerod Holliman (Steelers) - 1.59

  7. LB Hayes Pullard (Browns) - 1.58

  8. TE Rory Anderson (49ers) - 1.51

  9. CB Darryl Roberts (Patriots) - 1.39

  10. LB Xzavier Dickson (Patriots) - 1.36

  11. CB Dexter McDonald (Raiders) - 1.26

  12. OL Austin Shepherd (Vikings) - 1.15

  13. OT Laurence Gibson (Cowboys) - 1.09

For these players, the most important thing will be to make a roster and earn reps. Sometimes it is beneficial to be cut if it allows for a move to a team with less depth at that player's position. It will be interesting to see which of these players make rosters right away and which ones benefit from changing teams.  

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