Combine star Troy Apke leads DBs on Day 3 of NFL Draft

Troy Apke

Sorry if I’m not so sorry about the plight of the football player who slides a few picks lower than expected in the NFL Draft.

While there are some truly unfortunate bigger-picture areas of concern — e.g., would Heisman-winning QB Lamar Jackson have been chosen much higher than 32nd overall if he weren’t Black? — for the most part, a guy who had top-10 dreams but winds up at the end of the first round or going in the second round is still in very good shape for his pro career moving forward.

My sympathy lies more with the players who are still waiting for that life-changing phone call on Day 3 of the draft. The ones who weren’t picked in the first three rounds, who go into the final day of the draft having to confront the possibility that they may not get selected.

That was the reality for the few dozen defensive backs that were either fortunate enough to get drafted in rounds four through seven on Saturday, who went undrafted but signed a free-agent deal, or who are still out there unsure what their professional future holds.

The first DB off the board on Saturday was Penn State safety Troy Apke, who was a breakout star at the scouting combine in March. Apke’s 40-yard dash time of 4.34 seconds wowed NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders so much that he couldn’t even mask his astonishment that a White kid had run that fast. That viral moment put Apke’s name on the mainstream radar — much more than his senior season for the Nittany Lions when he racked up 55 tackles, one sack and one interception, or when he won MVP of the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

The Redskins had a pretty good pass defense last season, ranking sixth in passing yards allowed, but there was a hold at safety following the Su’a Cravens saga.

Cravens was Washington’s second-round draft pick out of USC in 2016. After appearing in 11 games as a rookie backup, he was projected to start this past season. But then Cravens suddenly decided he wanted to retire from football. He dialed that back to just wanting to reconsider his future, and sat out the 2017 season. Cravens chose to return to the NFL, and the Redskins proceeded to trade him to the Broncos.

The team then further addressed the position by picking Apke early in the fourth round. Here are all the DBs from Day 3:

***** *****

108. Washington Redkins — Troy Apke, S, Penn State
110. Oakland Raiders — Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin
117. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh
118. Baltimore Ravens — Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama
119. Los Angeles Chargers — Kyzir White, S, West Virginia
121. Buffalo Bills — Taron Johnson, CB, Weber State
124. Kansas City Chiefs — Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M
125. Philadelphia Eagles — Avonte Maddox, CB, Pittsburgh

142. San Francisco 49ers — D.J. Reed, CB, Kansas State
146. Seattle Seahawks — Tre Flowers, S, Oklahoma State
148. Pittsburgh Steelers — Marcus Allen, S, Penn State
151. Cincinnati Bengals — Davontae Harris, CB, Illinois State
152. Tennessee Titans — Dane Cruikshank, S, Arizona
154. Buffalo Bills — Siran Neal, S, Jacksonville State
164. New Orleans Saints — Natrell Jamerson, S, Wisconsin
170. Cincinnati Bengals — Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan

179. New York Jets — Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane
182. Arizona Cardinals — Christian Campbell, CB, Penn State
184. San Francisco 49ers — Marcell Harris, S, Florida
188. Cleveland Browns — Simeon Thomas, CB, Louisiana
189. New Orleans Saints — Kamrin Moore, CB, Boston College
190. Baltimore Ravens — DeShon Elliott, S, Texas
196. Kansas City Chiefs — Tremon Smith, CB, Central Arkansas
209. Miami Dolphins — Cornell Armstrong, CB, Southern Miss

222. Houston Texans — Jermaine Kelly, CB, San Jose State
241. Washington Redskins — Greg Stroman, CB, Virginia Tech
243. New England Patriots — Keion Crossen, CB, Western Carolina

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