Welcome back to this second and final part of a post-NFL draft special. Last week, we talked about players drafted in the later rounds of this past draft. Those were only a few names to watch out for in the upcoming NFL season, mainly because we only covered those who got the phone calls in rounds 4-5.
Today, let’s shed some light on a few names taken in rounds 6-7.
More Late-Round Draft Picks Who Could Rise in 2023
Jose Ramirez: Outside Linebacker (196th Overall)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have quite the rebuilding process on their hands. They are dealing with an aging roster, a disappointing 2022 campaign, and Tom Brady calling it a career. In addition, All-Pro linebacker, Lavonte David won’t be able to lead the Bucs defense for much longer, so he’ll need the younger guys to step up in a big way.
One potential name is Eastern Michigan product, Jose Ramirez. The three-time All-MAC selection and 2022 MAC Defensive Player of the Year can bring much-needed help on Tampa Bay’s front seven. With Shaquil Barrett still on the squad, Ramirez will be able to learn that he can from the two-time Super Bowl champion.
In the meantime, Bucs fans will have to be patient with this squad. Rebuilding processes are always difficult, and not always successful. But given enough time, Ramirez and Pro-Bowl linebacker, Devin White, can be a one-two punch that can help get this roster back into Super Bowl contention.
Xavier Hutchinson: Wide Receiver (205th Overall)
The Houston Texans made a significant splash in the latest draft. To nobody’s surprise, the organization selected Ohio State quarterback, C.J. Stroud, with the second overall pick. But then, they traded up to take the third overall pick, which they used on Alabama star linebacker, Will Anderson, Jr. Drafting Stroud wasn’t enough however; they needed to build around their new signal caller.
Xavier Hutchinson, the All-American out of Iowa State University, can be an impactful weapon for Stroud. The three-time All-Big 12 wideout may not have had the best numbers in college. But he now has a chance to make his mark under the bright lights.
Hutchinson will be joining the likes of veterans Nico Collins and Robert Woods, the latter having won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams. Not to mention, the Texans brought in tight-end, Dalton Schultz, from the Dallas Cowboys. If Hutchinson can build the right chemistry with these veterans, he can help set the tone for a potentially potent offense.
Zach Kuntz: Tight End (220th Overall)
It’s safe to argue that no team in the NFL has made more noise during the offseason than the New York Jets. With Aaron Rodgers moving east from Green Bay and taking a few of his Packers teammates with him, Jets fans have much to look forward to in 2023. But if there’s one thing that New York cannot overlook is how to use a certain rookie they drafted 220th overall.
Zach Kuntz, a tight-end out of Old Dominion, made a name for himself at the NFL Combine. He stands 6’8, weighing 251 lbs., and proceeded to record the following: a 40-inch vert, a 10′ 8″ broad jump, and a 40-yard dash time of 4.55 seconds.
Having substantial amounts of upside potential is not enough. It’s up to Kuntz to put in the work and climb to the top of the depth chart. Rodgers does have a plethora of wide receivers like Corey Davis, Garrett Wilson, Randall Cobb, and Denzel Mims. But Kuntz can be that big, towering target that can bail Rodgers out of sticky situations.
DeWayne McBride: Running Back (222nd Overall)
With the departure of their star running back, Dalvin Cook, the Minnesota Vikings will now be looking to find a worthy successor. It will be no easy task, given how crucial Cook was to the offense’s success over the years. One rookie can prove to be a notable candidate, and his name is DeWayne McBride.
During his tenure at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, McBride put his name and the Blazers team on notice. McBride recorded over 1,000 rushing yards, over 10 rushing touchdowns, and averaged over 6.5 yards a carry in each of his last two seasons. In addition, he was named All-CUSA twice and 2022 CUSA Offensive Player of the Year.
Collegiate accolades will only get you so far in the big leagues, and McBride knows this. Veteran Vikings running backs, Alexander Mattison and Ty Chandler, will be competing for the same spot he wants. Hopefully, McBride’s old-school, workhorse approach to the position will give him a boost and help him in winning the starting role.
Main Image: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports