With Day 2 of the NFL Draft behind us, there have been many headlines drumming up. The biggest question of the draft so far has been how far will Maurice Hurst Jr. fall as teams have been avoiding him. Outside of that, let’s take a look at the surprises, steals, and hidden gems left over for Day 3.
The Raiders had a rough night on Thursday and it got worse on Friday. They drafted PJ Hall at defensive tackle in Round 2. It was a good move as he could potentially start over the incumbent Justin Ellis, but they had a more glaring need at tailback. Derrius Guice was on the board and maybe they are comfortable with their trio of backs. It will be interesting to see how they play this year. Brandon Parker is a good move as he provides depth at tackle.
The problem does not lie in the Bengals offense as their issues are on the defensive end. Unlike Oakland, Cincinnati filled their holes with timely impact players. They grabbed Jesse Bates III out of Wake Forest who plays safety with good range, instincts in coverage, and ball skills. With back-to-back picks in the third, they snagged Sam Hubbard and Malik Jefferson who could help the 30th ranked run defense.
New York Giants
The Giants are showing a commitment to becoming a more balanced team on offense and what better player to help with that than Will Hernandez. Hernandez, with his ancient neck roll, is built a lot like Isaiah Wynn and has the mean streak of him as well. He wants to dominate the man across from him and should be a starter right away. Defensively, Lorenzo Carter is another one of those hybrid linebackers in this draft like Tremaine Edmunds and Leighton Vander Esch. Like the two first round backers, Carter is 6’5 and 250 pounds with versatility the Giants should love. BJ Hill, defensive tackle, should help against the run and provide sacks.
Cleveland had one of those “meh” kind of days. They did a good job building a wall up front when they snagged one of the better guards in the draft in Austin Corbett. Many would prefer Hernandez, but the former Nevada lineman provides versatility along the front. The decision to draft Nick Chubb was a bit peculiar especially after signing Carlos Hyde, but Hyde does have a tendency to get injured. Chad Thomas can help the Browns as they only generated 34 sacks last year. However, you could make the case for Sam Hubbard or Arden Key as being better options.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The team that improved the most, on paper, in Day 2 was the Buccaneers. They got a Jamaal Charles-esque back in Ronald Jones II as he averaged 6.1 yards per carry in his career as a Trojan. You have to wonder if the rookie success of Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey weighed on them when choosing him. MJ Stewart and Carlton Davis provide them with depth as they have to see some of the more elite quarterbacks and receivers in the NFC South. Alex Cappa is a small school guy, but his run-blocking is monumental. The Bucs will hope he can scratch and claw his way onto the field as they ranked 23rd in rushing a year ago.
There were plenty of players who fell to spots in which they could contribute right away. Courtland Sutton gives the Denver Broncos that third receiver they desperately needed as Bennie Fowler ditched town. Sutton can play outside while Carlos Henderson and Emmanuel Sanders can operate in the slot. Josh Jackson gives the Green Bay Packers a strong trio as they added Jaire Alexander in the first round to go with 2017 pick Kevin King. The rich got richer as the Philadelphia Eagles watched Dallas Goedert fall to them. Goedert has elite ball skills, can rumble after the catch, and can help provide matchup nightmares when the Eagles run double tight end sets.
Guice, for whatever reason, tumbled to the second round to the Washington Redskins. The running backs in Washington have been playing musical chairs for the last few years so expect Guice to get a chance to start. He already plays angry and falling in the draft should add to the fuel for the bootlegger. Justin Reid waited nearly as long as his brother, Eric Reid, has been waiting for a job. The Texans picked up the Stanford standout and he has a chance to learn from Tyrann Mathieu.
Other notable players like Ronnie Harrison and Michael Gallup fell to perfect homes for them. Harrison went to the Jacksonville Jaguars and has the personality and play-making ability to fit in there. He could see time on the field as rotational safety. Gallup is physical, has a long reach, and can go up to get the ball a lot like Dez Bryant. However, he is only 6’1. He has adequate speed, 4.51 40, but he is not going to stretch the field vertically. At Colorado State, Gallup finished with 176 catches, 2,690 yards, and 21 touchdowns in just two years. Gallup could morph into a starter for the Dallas Cowboys. Lastly, Mason Rudolph has been compared to Ben Roethlisberger in terms of physical makeup as well as the way he plays. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in the third round as he now has a chance to be groomed by Big Ben.
Maurice Hurst Jr.
The fall for one of the better players in the draft continues. You have to wonder how far will he fall. Hurst Jr. was projected to go in the first round of many mock drafts, but once news surfaced about his heart condition teams started to give him the cold shoulder. At Michigan the last two years, he accumulated 10.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for losses. He is undersized at 6’2 and sub-300 pounds, but his low center of gravity helps him beat centers and guards. The former Wolverine is not Aaron Donald, but he has a few of his features.
Equanimeous St. Brown
If St. Brown played at UCLA, USC, Oklahoma, Louisville, or even Wyoming with any of the five quarterbacks that were drafted on Thursday, he would easily be one of the better receivers in this draft. The guy is 6’5 and ran a 4.44 yet somehow he is still available. He will make some quarterback happy with his vertical threat and red zone activity ability.
When you cut on the film, it is hard not to see Okoronkwo as he speeds off the edge as a stand up pass rusher. He blew up a lot of plays the last two years for the Sooners as he generated 17 sacks and 29 TFLs. His lack of size probably hurt him, only 6’1, and he is not the best in coverage. Still, Okoronkwo had the talent to go as early as the second round.
Depending on where Jewell might go, he could still end up starting even as a potential Day 3 selection. There are not many elite inside linebackers as the drop-off is steep after Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner. Jewell is active when you cut on the film as he fills holes in the hurry and did a good job managing Saquon Barkley during the season. His lack of speed makes you wonder if he can develop as a coverage inside backer. Nonetheless, Jewell could end up starting wherever he goes and would be a two-down backer.
Crosby has ideal size at 6’5 and 310 pounds, but he lacks the necessary athleticism teams look for in an offensive lineman. He could come in and provide a level of toughness to an offensive line as he has a mean streak. The former Oregon Duck has to improve has a pass blocker to make a living in the league.
One of the more productive backs in the draft is Jackson. Everyone in the stadium knew Jackson would get the ball when they played Northwestern. They would still have a hard time stopping him as he is just an absolute workhorse. He rushed for 1,000 yards all four years as a Wildcat and he was a good option in the passing game. Teams might be in the business for a Kareem Hunt-esque back and Jackson has the talent.
So your team might have missed out on Derwin James. Allen is a spitting image of James in terms of the way they play. Allen could provide a defense with another linebacker on obvious run plays and he can play well in coverage. He is not the best in coverage, but that can improve over time.
With Day 3 getting set to start, it is safe to say that their will continue to be some surprises. Let’s see how everything unfolds before offering final thoughts on the entire draft process.