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Complementary pieces in the NFL Draft

The perfect prospect doesn’t exist: here is how you build him.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 11 East Carolina at Cincinnati

No prospect is perfect, and sometimes teams will draft a player with obvious flaws because they are elite in another area. It may be a bruising rusher who can convert third and short all day every day but lacks the breakaway speed or the ability to contribute in the pass game. It may be a tight end who is dominant in the pass game but limited as a blocker.

When this happens, it is important to have a complement, someone who can fill a very specific role and make up for the primary player’s shortcomings.

So if you draft a player with specific limitations early in the draft, what can you do? You are in luck GMs, because Day 3 has just what you need. Here are some complementary players in the 2023 NFL Draft.

So You Drafted a Tight End Who Can’t Block...

There are tight ends and then there are just wide receivers with Frankenstein’s measurables.* So if you draft a play-making tight end who can’t even block a troll on Twitter, what should you do?**

You should draft Purdue’s Payne Durham.

Durham is a throwback tight end. He primarily lines up in the Y position, right next to the offensive tackle with his hand in the dirt.*** Durham is 6-foot-5, 253 pounds and knows how to throw that weight around. He can open holes for your running back and is a good, reliable receiver. Durham is not a dynamic playmaker, but that’s okay. That’s why you drafted the other guy first. Durham will make an excellent complement and for the low-low price of a 5th Round Pick.

So You Drafted a Tight End Who Runs a 4.7 40...

So, you drafted a blocking tight end in the early stages of the draft. Let me know how that works out for you. Do yourself a favor and complement him with Miami’s Will Mallory.

Mallory ran a 4.54 40, which was the fastest of any tight end at this year’s NFL Combine. He runs good routes and gets separation up the seam. He has good hands and can pull in off-target throws.

Mallory is the playmaker your fans were hoping for when you took a glorified guard in Round 2, so give them a break and take Mallory in Round 5.

So You Drafted a Running Back who runs a 4.6 40...

Your old-school GM upbringing struck again, and you opted for three yards in a cloud of dust on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.+ That’s okay. There is a great complement who will be available on Day 3 and his name is Keaton Mitchell.

Mitchell ran a 4.37 40, but he’s still on the board heading into Saturday because he tips the scales at a minuscule 179 pounds. It’s not just his forty that you’ll find impressive. Mitchell is quick in and out of cuts and a very exciting player to watch. He ran for over 2,500 yards and 23 touchdowns over the last two seasons at East Carolina.++

A back of his size is never going to hold up as an every-down player, but that’s okay. That’s why you are getting him in Round 5. He would be an excellent complement to Mr. Plow, who you drafted last night.+++

So you Drafted a Running Back who is Sub-200-Pounds...

Were you seduced by the speed of a 190-pound back on Day 2?^ Well, you better get a bigger body to complement him. Fortunately, Day 3 has an answer and his name is Chris Rodriguez Jr.

The Kentucky rusher tips the scales at 217 and ran a respectable 4.51 40 at the NFL Combine. He has the ability to power through would-be-tacklers and has shown promise as a pass protector and receiver out of the backfield.

Since you drafted a smaller back early on, fans and talking heads are probably talking about injury risk.^^ Rodriguez is not only an excellent complement but has the versatility to fill in if injuries arise. All things considered, he is an excellent value in Round 5 and will help you manage the situation you’ve put yourself in by drafting Particle Man early.

So You Drafted a Running Back who can’t Pass Protect...

This is a tough one. Not many college running backs are refined pass protectors. The handful who are will likely be long gone before the draft reconvenes on Saturday, so what is a GM to do?

You’ve got to get creative.

Please tell me that the guy you drafted at least brings value as a receiver out of the backfield. If so, that’s great. Why would you keep him in to block anyway?

Instead, draft Oklahoma tight end Brayden Willis in the 6th round. At 6-foot-3 241, Willis is an off-the-ball, move tight end, essentially a modern-day fullback. Leave him in to pick up the blitz and let your pass-catching running back free release into his route. That’s probably why you drafted him anyway

*It should actually be “Frankenstein’s monster’s measurables,” but that just reads sloppy.
**Muting a defensive end has little to no impact in the run game.
***Or more likely, the pellets of recycled tires that adorn field turf.
+An old school GM upbringing traditionally involves attending a Bruce Springsteen on your 13th birthday.
++Which is surprisingly even east (and north) of Coastal Carolina.
+++Hopefully you drafted Mr. Plow and not The Plow King, who has a way less catchy name and jingle.
^The shame, you have children.
^^Perhaps American rock band “The Talking Heads” is a fan of your franchise. If so, your mentions on social media are no doubt full of comments like “How did I get here?” after that pick.