SportsPulse: NFL Draft expert Steven Ruiz breaks down the pros and cons of QB Kyle Trask and his potential in the NFL.
On Friday, offensive linemen and cornerbacks were in high demand, and there was even a mini-race on quarterbacks where three signal callers were taken during four selections. With the first three rounds completed, a couple of teams and players stood out as clear recipients of tonight’s action, while several others were left in questionable spots.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft:
New England Patriots: Bill Belichick’s latest record on Day 2 has been tarnished at best, but it’s the kind of move the coach needed to speed up the team’s return to form. Keeping the Nick Saban Pipeline Running After Taking Alabama quarterback Mac Jones by No. 15 overall pick, the Patriots spent their second-round pick on another Crimson Tide product in defensive tackle Christian Barmore, a first-round talent and perhaps the best available player. Friday. New England further strengthened its pass-rush by adding Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins toward the end of the third round.
Both players demand more polish and consistency in their approach, but Belichick seems like just the person helping them realize their potential. The movements represented an important step in the re – loading of the defense.
Zach Wilson: New York Jets GM Joe Douglas has apparently learned from his mistake with Sam Darnold, as he now invests heavily in delivering BYU quarterback and No. 2 pick ample support. After his move to act up to USC offensive guard Alijah Vera-Tucker in round 1, Douglas used the remaining lonely piece of his Friday arsenal to equip Wilson with a shifting and confident goal in Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore. The state of the secondary could leave Wilson in playing catch-up often as a rookie, but the offensive pieces are starting to come together nicely.
Los Angeles Chargers: Premier players in emergencies have now twice fallen into GM Tom Telesco’s lap in this draft. One day after solving their long-standing left tackle problem by securing Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater, the Bolts strengthened their secondary with Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. with No. 47 choice. In addition to his size, Samuel has almost everything else needed to be a long-term starter on the next level. Georgia’s narrow end Tre ‘McKitty, however, was a reach in the third round.
Rondale Moore: At just 5-7 and 181 pounds, Moore faced a vague perspective as he waited to see if the organization that chose him would be open enough to use him in a way that suited his talents. The Purdue-wide receiver – the Arizona Cardinals’ No. 49 pick – may have landed in the optimal spot as coach Kliff Kingsbury has shown willingness to overlook size for game-breaking talent. Moore certainly fits that bill, and Kyler Murray should be able to find ways to get him the ball in space, allowing his explosiveness to shine through.
Dave Gettleman: It’s never too late for one to change their ways, as the typically stiff 70-year-old GM from the New York Giants has now acted twice back in the draft. His Saturday stretch was particularly impressive as second-round pass rushing Azeez Ojulari of Georgia and third-round corner kick Aaron Robinson should be able to strengthen the defense in both the short and long term.
Cleveland Browns: No one would have struck an eye if the Browns had spent their first round on Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Instead, Cleveland added Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II and returned to the multi-talented defender in the middle of the second round. Owusu-Koramoah’s explosiveness and range of coverage should be put to good use in Defense Coordinator Joe Woods’ scheme. Third-round wide receiver Anthony Schwartz is unpolished, but he has a solid claim as the fastest player in this year’s draft.
Patrick Mahomes: The Kansas City Chiefs do not intend to let their star quarterback be harassed again after injuries along the offensive line helped allow the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ pass-rush to sacrifice him in Super Bowl 55. After his trade with offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. ., the team added yet another former Oklahoma standout in center Creed Humphrey. The decision was met with immediate approval from the signal caller himself.
Kyle Trask: The Florida quarterback may face an upward battle to establish himself as a reliable starter in the NFL, but he finds himself in a promising spot for his development after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made him the final pick in the second round. Tom Brady and Bruce Arians are ideal educators for the young passerby, and Trask does not face any pressure to step into action for some time.
Miami Dolphins: After the Denver Broncos jumped through their team to pick North Carolina, who ran back Javonte Williams early in the second round, GM Chris Grier warned later on Friday against reaching a need. This patience has paid off as day 2 additions of safety Jevon Holland and the tight end Hunter Long add to an impressive move that began with first round wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and passing rusher Jaelan Phillips. A runback would help round out the class, but Miami is in good shape.
Sam Darnold: A day after the Carolina Panthers chose not to bring a top pass to push Darnold, the team exercised the quarterback’s fifth-year option. That was just the start of today’s good news for the signal caller, as the front office bowed to him with his day 2 move by LSU-wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. (who already has experience with offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s system), BYU offensive tackle Brady Christensen and Notre Dame tight-end Tommy Tremble. Not bad for a player who seemed to have a hard time finding a starting spot before the Panthers threw themselves at him in a trade.
Trey sermon: The Ohio State runback and Oklahoma transfer ended his college career in recovery with a late rise, and his pro prospects are especially promising after landing with the San Francisco 49ers in the third round. Kyle Shanahan’s plan should be the perfect fit for the sermon, and 6-0, 215 pounds left should form a fun pair with quarterback Trey Lance, who can also ravage through defense with his legs.
Aaron Rodgers: Maybe the moves don’t pull the disgruntled quarterback, but the Green Bay Packers did at least something to help him. The team addressed its gap in the middle by taking Ohio State’s Josh Myers in the second round before finally picking up a wide receiver in Clemson’s Amari Rodgers in the third.
Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones and Co. made it their mission to load the defense with the kind of playmakers that new coordinator Dan Quinn will enjoy. However, the returns from four day 2 elections were mostly uninspiring. Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph could become the ballhawk, which this secondary has long lacked, but his inexperience and underdeveloped sense of the position make him a risky opportunity for a significant role early in his career. Neither UCLA’s Osa Odighizuwa nor Iowa’s Chauncey Golston do much to move the needle along the defensive line, and Oregon State cornerback Nahshon Wright is a massive project.
Carson Wentz: The Indianapolis Colts are apparently not so worried about outsiders about their hole at left tackle. GM Chris Ballard double-dipped on his defensive front by taking on Vanderbilt DE Dayo Odeyingbo after grabbing Michigan DE Kwity Paye on Day 1. Maybe another step will come, but this should raise serious concerns for a quarterback who took a league-high 50 sacks in 2020 despite only playing in 12 games.
Najee Harris: It seemed like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ focus would turn to its patchwork front after the team used its top pick Thursday on the Alabama run. But the organization chose instead Penn State tight Pat Patieriermuth in round 2. The Steelers finally turned their attention to the line in the third round with Illinois center / guard Kendrick Green, but the addition feels a little overwhelming. Given Ben Roethlisberger’s diminishing ability and the prospects along the line, Harris could have a tough time as a rookie.
Seattle Seahawks: So much for giving Russell Wilson his much-needed offensive help. Seattle had other plans with its first choice, grabbing Western Michigan receiver D’Wayne Eskridge in the second round. The goal of 5-9, 190 pounds has easy speed, but he is already 24 and more of an open field threat than a complete receiver.
Los Angeles Rams: Can a 155 pound receiver successfully navigate the NFL? We’re figuring out the answer when Louisville receiver Tutu Atwell takes the field for Sean McVay. Given Ram’s abundance of pass-catching opportunities with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson and DeSean Jackson in the fold, this choice felt like a bit of a luxury for a team that had other conditions to tackle.
Jared Goff: While the Detroit Lions take a patient approach to their rebuilding after Matthew Stafford, they do little to give Goff weapons in the passing game. GM Brad Holmes has not selected a receiver through the first three rounds, leaving the team with layoffs Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams as the leading options. This will be a run-heavy outfit, but even with second-year back D’Andre Swift’s contribution in the passing game, the configuration may not hold for Goff.
Melvin Gordon: The Broncos runners expressed his displeasure earlier in the offseason, saying he felt he was “overlooked.” With Denver using an early pick from Williams, it looks like Gordon is at least facing a second-round share in the backfield. As he enters a contract year, he will have to make the most of the opportunities that come his way.
Davis Mills: While Trask is entering the NFL in perhaps an ideal situation, Mills is already at the center of a mess with the Houston Texans. The Stanford signalman is probably not ready for any significant role early in his career after just 11 starts in college, but Houston can not really commit to any path in the midst of uncertainty about Deshaun Watson’s future. Although the star quarterback and the franchise are making a clean break, it hardly seems like the right atmosphere for a young signal call to develop properly.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.