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Grading the Fits of West Virginia's Draftees

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The 2019 NFL Draft featured five Mountaineers and saw a handful more sign with teams as free agents. Let's take a look at who landed in the best situations.

QB Will Grier, Carolina Panthers (Round 3, Pick 100)

Grier was predictably the first Mountaineer off the board, though I don't think many expected him to last until the 100th pick. Regardless, Grier landed in a pretty good situation. He returns to his hometown of Charlotte, NC and will play in an offense that has increasingly utilized the spread over the past several years, with the emphasis they've placed on acquiring playmakers during that same period meaning that Grier should have some decent guys to throw to if and when he gets his opportunity. He's also fortunate to be in a place where he'll be able to grow behind a former MVP without being expected to contribute right away. However, as a consummate BFG fan, I might've preferred somewhere where the path to playing time was a little more clearly defined. Cam Newton is just now turning 30 years old and barring injury has several more good years left, while someplace like New Orleans, New England, or LAC would offer similar opportunities for growth behind quarterbacks who will likely be on their way out of the league before Will's rookie contract is up.

Grade: B+

OT Yodny Cajuste, New England Patriots (Round 3, Pick 101)

Cajuste's recent quad surgery caused him to slide a bit further than he probably would've wanted, but he could not have asked for a better landing spot than New England. The Patriots and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia have a reputation for taking raw talents like Cajuste and turning them into offensive linchpins, and question marks with New England's existing two-deep mean that Cajuste should have the opportunity for immediate playing time provided he can get and stay healthy. Cajuste will need to improve his technique as a run blocker to reach his potential, but I expect he's very excited with how things played out.

Grade: A

WR Gary Jennings, Seattle Seahawks (Round 4, Pick 120)

Consider me first in line to buy Gary Jennings stock in Seattle. DK Metcalf will definitely get more hype, but if reports are true about Doug Baldwin's looming retirement then there's nobody on the roster better suited to fill his shoes than G-man. Baldwin has made his bacon over the last several years as a deep threat out of the slot, which just so happens to be exactly the role that Jennings thrived in at West Virginia. His excellent performance at the combine proved that he has the physical skill set to be effective at the next level, so if he can establish an early rapport with Russell Wilson he should have the opportunity to be productive immediately.

Grade: A

TE Trevon Wesco, New York Jets (Round 4, Pick 121)

In the weeks and months leading up to the draft I often mentioned that all 32 teams in the NFL could use a guy like Trevon Wesco. Despite that, however, I don't love where he landed. Wesco was widely regarded as the best blocking tight end in the draft, and showed enough in the passing game last year that I thought he’d be awesome as a complimentary piece on a team with an established pass catching tight end (Kansas City, San Francisco, etc). The Jets are in the midst of rebuilding their offense around Sam Darnold and LeVeon Bell, and Chris Herndon showed flashes last year, but I'm not sure that they have enough weapons at the other skill positions to allow Trevon to fill that complimentary role that he's so well-suited to. Best-case scenario, he exceeds expectations and is able to become a primary pass catching threat in the mold of a middle-class man's Rob Gronkowski. Worst-case scenario, he's unable to shoulder the load as a primary playmaker and gets relegated to lead blocker for Bell. I think he has a long NFL career in either scenario, but there are a bunch of other teams that I would've preferred for him.

Grade: C+

LB David Long, Tennessee Titans (Round 6, Pick 188)

How the Big 12 DPOY fell to the 188th pick is beyond me, but it's hard to argue that Long landed in a pretty good situation. He'll be working with two very respected defensive minds in head coach Mike Vrabel and defensive coordinator Dean Pees and should fit right into their preferred three-down scheme as an inside linebacker. Pees loves to send pressure out of unconventional looks, so Long's experience and proficiency at rushing the passer out of a 3-3-5 should see him challenge for situational playing time right away. He'll have to work his way through a relatively crowded rotation for significant playing time on regular downs, but with Wesley Woodyard as the only established veteran starter, the opportunity is definitely there for him to do just that.

Grade: B+

WR David Sills IV, Buffalo Bills (UDFA)

I get that Sills had trouble separating at the college level, especially against press coverage, but the guy was an elite playmaker down the field and in the red zone and for him to not get drafted is an absolute scandal. Fortunately, he went to a team with a dearth downfield and red zone playmakers outside of Zay Jones. Sills may never develop into a consistent, every down playmaker, but considering how closely his skill set aligns with the Bills needs I expect him to challenge for situational playing time right away.

Grade: A

DT Kenny Bigelow, New Orleans Saints (UDFA)

The Saints utilize Bigelow's preferred four-down defensive front, which will allow him to line up over the guard instead of the center and afford more opportunities to rush the passer. There's a lot of depth ahead of him, but if he can stay healthy, his ability to play a variety of positions and raw talent should be enough for him to make the team.

Grade: B

S Dravon Askew-Henry, Pittsburgh Steelers (UDFA)

I'm sure this is exactly the situation the Dravon would've hoped for after not hearing his name called over the weekend - the Aliquippa native is headed home to play for his hometown Steelers, a team that utilizes a variety of nickel packages amd safety hybrids as part of its base defense. It's hard to see him making an impact anywhere but special teams in the immediate future, assuming he makes the team at all, but you couldn't ask for a better landing spot for him to continue his career.

Grade: A+

S Toyous Avery, Seattle Seahawks (Camp Invitee)

In a vacuum Avery provides exactly the kind of physical presence that the Seahawks have been lacking since Kam Chancellor was relegated to the PUP list in 2018. However, as a camp invitee (the NFL's version of the preferred walk-on), he'll have to climb a mountain to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. Whether it works out or not, even earning the chance to join the Legion of Boom is a great opportunity.

Grade: B