11/30/19 Indiana, Brycen Hopkins

Fifth-year tight end Brycen Hopkins catches a pass over the middle of the field. Hopkins led Purdue in yards and touchdowns, catching eight passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Hopkins also scored Purdue's first touchdown against Indiana during a game in 2019 on a 72-yard pass reception.

The 2020 NFL Draft wrapped up Saturday afternoon, with 32 owners scouring a pool of the best talent in college football. Everybody’s talking about the big first-round picks and who “won” or “lost” the draft.

That’s valuable content, but I want to focus on something a little different.

Most viewers understandably don’t make it to the third day of the draft, after most of the household names have been taken. But there’s some undervalued talent hidden in those last four rounds.

The Los Angeles Rams picked Purdue tight end Brycen Hopkins in the fourth round, about where I figured he’d go. The Rams have been using tight ends as blockers in recent seasons, largely because they’ve had Todd Gurley at running back and a pass-first Jared Goff at quarterback. Now that they’ve released Gurley and apparently drafted FSU’s Cam Akers to replace him, could drafting a receiver-first tight end like Hopkins signal a shift in their offensive scheme?

One of the most interesting anomalies of the draft came from New England head coach Bill Belichick. After losing Tom Brady in free agency, the Patriots made seven picks and took no quarterbacks. Turns out, that wasn’t a Belichick long-con strategy; he just didn’t get a quarterback, according to ESPN.

My theory is that Belichick wanted to draft Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm to try to recapture the “late-round undervalued QB” juju that got him Brady in the first place, but the Buffalo Bills out-conned him and took Fromm in the fifth round. Who knows if it’ll pay off, but the Patriots are without a figurehead for the first time in nearly two decades.

The Miami Dolphins took Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry in the seventh round of the draft as a running back, and putting him on the same offensive line as Tua Tagovailoa could be explosive. Perry was a terror at Navy in his last season, throwing for 1,084 yards, rushing for 2,017 yards and almost literally running circles around Army in a 31-7 trouncing. If he can effectively link up with Tua and Miami’s receiver corps, they could make a really fun offensive attack this season.

Purdue inside linebacker Markus Bailey was undervalued for his past injuries. He was the fifth overall inside linebacker in the draft, but the Cincinnati Bengals took him with their seventh-round pick, after most of the top 10 had already been taken by other teams.

On pure talent and past-season production, Bailey stood out, and probably would have gone much earlier, but I think the number of injuries combined with his shortened 2019 season created a question of durability among owners. I really hope he can prove himself and do well in Cincy, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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