The second round of the NFL Draft came and went Friday night in Kansas City without any of Tennessee football’s draft hopefuls hearing their name called. Then the third round started and the run began.
First it was quarterback Hendon Hooker taken at No. 68 overall by the Detroit Lions. Back-to-back Vols went off the board a few picks later, when wide receivers Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman were picked at No. 73 and No. 74 to the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns, respectively. Up next was edge rusher Byron Young at No. 77 to the Los Angeles Rams.
Here are the grades and the analysis from NFL media for each of Tennessee’s four third-round picks:
Hendon Hooker — Third Round | No. 68 Overall | Detroit Lions
ESPN‘s Matt Miller: “My No. 27 overall prospect, Hooker has the tools to be a quarterback of the future in Detroit depending on how well Jared Goff plays in 2023 as his contract winds down. Hooker, once healthy from his torn ACL, brings a mobility to the position that Goff doesn’t offer, but he is a similar thrower and leader of an offense. It’s tough to predict third-rounders as future starters, but Hooker has the ability to be one and was drafted into a great situation in Detroit.”
NFL.com‘s Chad Reuter: Landing Hendon Hooker in the third round was a steal, even though he’s coming off an ACL tear. He will be a strong backup for Jared Goff and could become the starter down the road.
Pro Football Focus — Pick Grade: Good | “Lions QB Jared Goff has two years remaining on his contract, so the Lions are wise to draft a potential successor behind him. Hooker fell in the draft after an unfortunate ACL tear at the end of the 2022 season that took him out of a Heisman race, but he earned a 93.4 passing grade on deep throws and is great in a clean pocket. If he can improve under pressure once healthy, he could prove to be a great pick.”
CBS NFL — Pick Grade: B- | Chris Trapasso: “This is closer to where I had him graded. Pocket passer with some athleticism but won’t run away from NFL defenders. Accuracy and arm strength are good, not great. Threw to many wide open receivers in college. Somewhat of a strange long-term option at QB given his age. Exudes leadership. Teddy Bridgewater type.”
Jalin Hyatt — Third Round | No. 73 Overall | New York Giants
ESPN‘s Steve Muench: “The Giants have signed Jamison Crowder and Parris Campbell to complement Darius Slayton. However, Sterling Shepard is coming off a torn ACL, they cut Kenny Golladay and traded Kadarius Toney last year. Hyatt is a vertical threat who will make it tough to load up against the run and rotate the coverage to Slayton’s side of the field.”
Pro Football Focus — Pick Grade: Good | “Hyatt won the Biletnikoff Award as the top wide receiver in college football, averaging 18.9 yards per reception and scoring 15 touchdowns. He is a burner on the outside that needs some refinement but has all the athletic ability necessary to excel at the next level. Hyatt’s 40-yard dash, vertical and broad jump were all above the 85th percentile. The Giants add a much-needed outside weapon for QB Daniel Jones.”
NFL.com‘s Chad Reuter: “Trading up for the explosive Hyatt in the third round made sense, as the Giants need more speed on the outside.”
CBS NFL — Pick Grade: B+ | Chris Trapasso: “Burner who actually plays faster than his 40 time of 4.40. I like adding another field-stretcher to this team for Daniel Jones. He’ll lighten boxes for Saquon Barkley. Doesn’t have a well-rounded game now and is not great after the catch. This is about the right position in the draft for him to land.”
Cedric Tillman — Third Round | No. 74 Overall | Cleveland Browns
ESPN‘s Matt Miller: “Even after making the trade for Elijah Moore, the Browns had a need for a big, physical outside receiver coming into this draft. Tillman is that player. He will push Donovan Peoples-Jones for reps and could work his way into the starting lineup early in his career. Tillman’s work on slant routes and his jump-ball ability will play well opposite the possession-style Amari Cooper.”
NFL.com‘s Chad Reuter: “Cleveland had given up a third-round selection in the Deshaun Watson deal but regained one in the trade for receiver Elijah Moore. They used that pick on a complementary receiver in Tillman, who offers nice size and physicality.”
Pro Football Focus — Pick Grade: Very Good | “In a draft class of undersized wide receivers, Tillman was among the few top prospects with prototypical X measurables. He has good size, he is physical and he attacks the football in the air. With the additions of Tillman and the trade for Elijah Moore, Deshaun Watson will have more options in the passing game entering his second season with the team.”
CBS NFL — Pick Grade: B+ | Chris Trapasso: “Classic, old-school perimeter WR. Ultra-physical. Nasty. Back-shoulder, rebounder type. Great, not amazing athlete and doesn’t excel after the catch. Hampered by injuries in 2022. I like the addition for Deshaun Watson.”
Byron Young — Third Round | No. 77 Overall | Los Angeles Rams
ESPN‘s Matt Miller: “The Rams add a potential replacement for Leonard Floyd, who led the team in sacks and pressures last year. Young needs to get stronger against the run, but he should make an immediate impact as a pass-rusher and develop into a starter early in his career.”
NFL.com‘s Chad Reuter: “The Rams received a third-round pick from Miami for three-time All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey (77th overall), which they used to add the up-and-coming Young to bolster a really thin group.”
Pro Football Focus — Pick Grade: Good | “The Rams have quickly become really thin along the defensive front around Aaron Donald. Young projects as a good fit in Los Angeles’ defense, and he’s one of the most explosive edge prospects in this class off the edge. He is by no means a finished product, as he falls into the 25th percentile in PFF pass-rush grade over the last two seasons, but he has traits worth betting on at this stage of the draft.”
CBS NFL — Pick Grade: D+ | Chris Trapasso: “Young is super fun on film. One of the best, most explosive outside speed rushers in the class. Gumby-like around the corner. But that’s really all he can lean on. He’s a much older prospect who wasn’t all that productive from a pressure perspective. Like the position addressed, but this is a round or two too early.”
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