Unlike the NBA Draft, the NFL Draft’s unpredictability is not so much in whether or not the top college stars will be selected, but where they’ll be selected.
Because the NFL has seven rounds instead of two, and 250-plus picks instead of 60, it’s a pretty big surprise when a highly decorated college football star isn’t drafted at all. The NFL has had more than a few veterans who were undrafted and eventually became standout pros — some of them Hall of Famers — but usually those gems were understandably under-the-radar college players. It may be later than expected (Michael Sam), but award-winning talent from high-major NCAA programs typically hear their names called.
So consider it a notable surprise when Duke safety Jeremy Cash was not among the 29 defensive backs chosen on the final day of the 2016 NFL Draft — nor was he one of the 16 DBs taken on Day 2, or one of the seven DBs selected in the first round.
Cash, who originally went to Ohio State as a three-star recruit out of Plantation (Fla.) High School, transferred to Duke and was a three-year starter. As a senior this past season, Cash recorded 100 tackles, 2.5 sacks, four pass breakups, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Cash was an 2015 All-American according to just about any committee or media outlet that mattered. He was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (nation’s best DB), the Chuck Bednarik Award (nation’s best defensive player) and the Lott IMPACT Trophy (nation’s best defender combining performance and character). He was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year while playing in the same conference as Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey, the the No. 5 overall pick and the first DB taken in this year’s draft.
But for one reason or another — some say he’s a safety/linebacker ‘tweener, some say his injury history was alarming — Cash was not chosen. The 6-foot, 210-pounder quickly signed a free-agent deal with the Carolina Panthers, however, and will report to training camp with the defensive NFC champions this month.
The entire list of DBs who were drafted on Day 3:
104. Ravens — Tavon Young, CB, Temple
106. Chiefs — Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota
108. Buccaneers — Ryan Smith, CB, North Carolina Central
111. Lions — Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah
118. Jets — Juston Burris, CB, North Carolina State
124. Bears — Deon Bush, S, Miami (FL)
127. Bears — Deiondre’ Hall, CB, Northern Iowa
129. Browns — Derrick Kindred, S, TCU
133. 49ers — Rashard Robinson, CB, LSU
141. Panthers — Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma
157. Titans — LeShaun Sims, CB, Southern Utah
159. Texans — K.J. Dillon, S, West Virginia
167. Cardinals — Marqui Christian, S, Midwestern State
173. Browns — Trey Caldwell, CB, Louisiana-Monroe
178. Chiefs — D.J. White, CB, Georgia Tech
185. Bears — DeAndre Houston-Carson, S, William & Mary
189. Cowboys — Anthony Brown, CB, Purdue
196. Eagles — Blake Countess, S, Auburn
204. Dolphins — Jordan Lucas, S, Penn State
205. Cardinals — Harlan Miller, CB, Southeastern Louisiana
209. Ravens — Maurice Canady, CB, Virginia
212. Cowboys — Kavon Frazier, S, Central Michigan
218. Bills — Kevon Seymour, CB, USC
219. Broncos — Will Parks, S, Arizona
233. Eagles — Jalen Mills, S, LSU
244. Vikings — Jayron Kearse, S, Clemson
245. Bengals — Clayton Fejedelem, S, Illinois
249. 49ers — Prince Charles Iworah, CB, Western Kentucky
253. Titans — Kalan Reed, CB, Southern Miss
NOTABLE UNDRAFTED PLAYERS
Jeremy Cash, S, Duke
DeAndre Elliott, CB, Colorado State
Trae Elston, S, Ole Miss
Jonathan Jones, CB, Auburn
Tyvis Powell, S, Ohio State