Every year, prospects get drafted into bad situations and put into spots where their talents aren’t maximized. This year, there were three players I thought landed in bad situations.
I liked two of them, linebacker Trenton Simpson and quarterback Tanner McKee, during the pre-draft process. Coming into the draft, both players projected to be valuable to any NFL roster. However, the teams that ended up drafting them were a bit surprising.
Let’s dive into why Simpson, McKee and one other player — offensive lineman Steve Avila — might’ve landed in the wrong place after the 2023 NFL Draft.
Eagles: QB Tanner McKee, Round 6
I thought McKee would be selected by a different team. His arm strength and overall field vision are appealing. He played for an inconsistent Stanford team that did not surround him with great players. He did not have elite wide receivers or great protection.
The dirty pockets he dealt with in college are outstanding preparation for the NFL. He was forced to adjust, play off-script and take hits, making him a draftable quarterback prospect. McKee is much more of a pocket passer and is not a threat to run the ball. He wants to hang in the pocket and make throws. Philosophically, your backup quarterback should have a similar skill set to your starter (see Cleveland’s fifth-round pick, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, compared to Deshaun Watson).
Teams should not have to change their plan in the middle of a game if their starting quarterback gets injured. McKee can’t do the same things Jalen Hurts can do and is a completely different player. McKee is not a threat to run and, for the most part, will not execute the same plays Hurts will.
I understand using an athletic “package” quarterback if your primary starter is a pocket passer, but that is completely different than what the Eagles do. Maybe they are hoping McKee flashes when he gets an opportunity to play, and they will trade him for draft picks. Either way, it’s worth keeping an eye on his development and fit over the next few years.
>> READ: McKee’s Full Scouting Report
Rams: IOL Steve Avila, Round 2
When I study the Los Angeles Rams offense, I see a team that needs athletic offensive linemen who can get out of their stance quickly, have good feet, play with balance and get up to the second level. They tend to give up some size and strength in order to have linemen who are light on their feet.
This is why it was surprising they selected Avila. He is a mauler who can really move the pile, but he is just an average athlete with tightness in his lower body and is not a natural mover in space.
Avila shows off his strength and toughness and loves putting defenders in the dirt — that is his game. That might not be a fit for what the Rams want to do, but I am sure they love what he can bring to their offensive line. He will bring an element of toughness to this team and make it stronger.
He also has position flexibility, which is extremely important in today’s game. At TCU, he started at center, guard and right tackle. It will be interesting to see how he plays and how the Rams use him in 2023.
>> READ: Avila’s Full Scouting Report
Ravens: ILB Trenton Simpson, Round 3
The Baltimore Ravens always have been known for their defense and how they play on that side of the football. The Ravens have a core draft philosophy that has worked year after year. While I like Simpson, he’s not a great fit for their defense.
Simpson certainly has the natural ability, and there is a good chance he will become a good pro, but the more thought I put into it, the more I was surprised the Ravens picked him. The Ravens, especially on defense, target players with speed, toughness and instincts (STI). Simpson certainly has speed and toughness, but I have questions about his instincts. For a Ravens inside linebacker, instincts are critical.
Simpson is just a bit late to react and does not recognize things quickly. Because of his natural athleticism, size, length and speed, he got away with it at Clemson in the ACC, but in the NFL, he could have some issues. I understand the Ravens’ thought process: Simpson has the S and the T, and two out of three ain’t bad at this spot in the draft. I am sure they believe they can coach him up to become more instinctive.
Maybe the Ravens don’t have as much of an issue with Simpson’s instincts as I do. Maybe his ability trumps his eyes. It will be interesting to see how his career progresses.
>> READ: Simpson’s Full Scouting Report
T.J. McCreight is a former front office executive for the Philadelphia Eagles and the former director of college scouting for the Indianapolis Colts. He also previously served as the director of pro personnel with the Arizona Cardinals. Follow him on Twitter at @NFLTJ25.