The second day of the 2018 NFL Draft wrapped, which means we’re roughly halfway through the draft — time-wise we’re past the point, but there are still four grinding rounds to go on Saturday. Whose family doesn’t love a little draft party at noon? (Answer: mine.) Friday’s action felt a little subdued after a wild Thursday, but we still saw plenty of teams separate themselves from the pack.
Let’s take a look at some winners and losers from the second day of the draft, bearing in mind we are just grading them on Friday’s action. If you love these, hate these or just need to yell at someone I’m there for you on Twitter @WillBrinson.
Friends of the program Chris Trapasso and Ryan Wilson joined me to break down winners and losers from Rounds 2 and 3 on the Pick Six Podcast. 40 minutes of deep-dive draft action on our daily NFL podcast (expanded for the draft this weekend). We also look ahead to Rounds 4-7. TBH it’s the best way to get your day started! Subscribe: via iTunes | via Stitcher | via TuneIn | via Google Play.
New York Giants
Fans of the G Men showed up in my mentions all day Friday after I named them a loser for taking a running back No. 2. Hopefully they’ll be appeased after I flip them to the other side following Dave Gettleman’s decision to wet his beak with a little Hog Molly — the Giants went to the trenches with all three of their second-day picks. Things started poorly for Gettleman, with him deciding to make fun of nerds in his post-Round 1 press conference:
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) April 27, 2018
Seriously, he was mocking analytics and people who devalue running backs by pretending to type on a keyboard. Just yell “take that, nerrrrrrrds!” or something while you’re at it. Instead of doing that, Gettleman just decided to annihilate the draft on his second day with the Giants.
With the second pick of the second round, he nabbed Will Hernandez, a nasty guard out of UTEP who will work well in combination with Barkley. Then he circled back with the No. 66 pick and snared Lorenzo Carter, the Georgia pass rusher who should give an injection of pass-rushing speed to James Bettcher’s defense. Gettleman rounded out his day by grabbing NC State defensive tackle B.J. Hill with the No. 69 pick. Hill was excellent in pre-draft workouts and gives the Giants a nasty rotation on the interior between Damon Harrison (who can take more breaks now), Dalvin Tomlinson and Hill.
Even the staunchest anti-RB-early person would admit the Giants are doing a tremendous job in this draft through the first two days, and their haul on the second day makes them much stronger on both sides of the line, where Gettleman loves to be staunch. Take that for data.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Give Jason Licht a lot of credit for the foresight he showed on Thursday night when the Buccaneers were willing to sit there at No. 7, palm out, taking the Bills’ money so Buffalo could move up and grab Josh Allen. Licht risked losing out on a prospect he wanted, but instead he was able to move down and get Vita Vea anyway. The move paid massive dividends on Saturday, when Licht used a pile of second-round picks to improve the Bucs roster.
Ronald Jones fills a need (running back) after Doug Martin’s offseason departure, and even if he isn’t a true feature back, he can take this primary job and run with it. He’s as explosive as any back in the draft, a true home run threat. M.J. Stewart is an underrated corner out of North Carolina, although grabbing him at No. 53 felt a little bit higher than he might go. Still, a position of need for the Bucs. Carlton Davis is a double down at that spot and a nice selection out of Auburn. Alex Cappa, who looks like he might go on tour with Widespread Panic in his spare time, was described by Mike Mayock as a bouncer — tossing people out of the club and whatnot — on the NFL Network broadcast. We went from shots of Cappa looking like a hippie from Humbolt to him rag-dolling Division II kids.
Making good picks is pretty important in the NFL Draft (duh). But it’s easier when you make smart moves to acquire more picks. When those become quality selections, that’s how you hit a home run in the draft. Licht may have just done that on Day 2.
What an offseason Chicago is having so far. It’s like they took the transaction log from the 2017 Rams, printed it out and did their best to just follow it. It’s working! Day 2 of the draft featured more help for Mitchell Trubisky, as the Bears utilized a pair of second-round picks to snag a pair of highly-coveted players. James Daniels out of Iowa was the top center on a lot of boards after Billy Price’s injury and his fall to No. 39 was a little surprising given the emphasis on interior offensive linemen in the draft during the early proceedings. Giving Trubisky a young center to work and grow with is a smart move. So is adding the extremely talented Anthony Miller, a Memphis wide receiver the Bears picked up with the No. 51 overall selection. His upside is through the roof. Their pass-catching depth chart now features Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Miller, Kevin White (he has upside!), Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen. There is major sleeper potential with this team, at least in April.
Good teams have a plan to build on their draft selections, and the Cardinals appeared to have one on their second day of the draft. The Cardinals didn’t have one of their third-round picks because of the trade for Rosen, but that should factor in here — they used a third- and fifth-round pick to land a franchise quarterback. Nicely done. Even better, they went out and gave him some help in the second day of the draft. First up was the selection of Christian Kirk, a guy who sort of fell through the cracks in this weak draft class for receivers. He’s the sort of slot receiver type who can make life much easier for Rosen/Sam Bradford, while also diversifying the receiving corps around Larry Fitzgerald. The Cards had a compensatory pick in the third round as well and managed to snare Mason Cole out of Michigan, an interior offensive lineman who gives the Cards some flexibility and could end up being a long-term center for Rosen.
Cincy isn’t getting any attention because they’re the one AFC North team that isn’t MAKING A SPLASH. The Ravens got Lamar Jackson, the Steelers got Mason Rudolph, the Browns got Baker Mayfield, and the Bengals are just piling up boring non-quarterbacks. Fortunately for Cincy that’s what they need if they want to win in 2018 and they added some really nice players on defense in Day 2. Wake Forest safety Jesse Bates is a hard-hitting addition to an already volatile secondary, Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard is another body Cincy can put in its increasingly deep pass-rush rotation and Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson was a guy who profiled as a first-round pick this time last year, so there is plenty of upside there for growth. The Bengals have upside as a contender in their division or a wild-card team this year, but need impact guys out of the draft to make it happen.
Can I be honest here? I’m scared to suggest the Raiders aren’t doing things the right way because I’m worried Jon Gruden is just outflanking all of us and we don’t realize it yet. People are very high on Kolten Miller, but there’s reason to be concerned if it’s a Tom Cable-driven decision. On Day 2 of the draft, Oakland scooped up defensive lineman P.J. Hill, offensive lineman Brandon Parker and edge rusher Arden Key. They also used a pick they acquired from the Cardinals to trade for Martavis Bryant from the Steelers. So in total the Raiders have added two offensive linemen, even though the offensive line has long been considered one of the strengths of this team. And then two more of the picks were used on getting guys with MAJOR red flags in Key and Bryant. Plugging those guys on the same roster for a California-based franchise that’s plotting a move to Las Vegas seems like a dangerous proposition.
New York Jets
Again, this is a Day 2 breakdown. And the Jets, by virtue of their pre-draft decision to give up a bunch of picks in a swap of No. 6 and No. 3 with the Colts, ended up with just a single pick on the second day of the draft. Instead of announcing more picks, the team’s social media account spent the day tweeting out pictures of Sam Darnold traveling.
Next stop: 1 Jets Drive pic.twitter.com/PAV0bos3XZ
— New York Jets (@nyjets) April 27, 2018
With their only pick, the Jets secured a quality defensive lineman in Nathan Shepherd and they have their franchise quarterback in Darnold. We didn’t praise them enough yesterday, but getting Darnold deserves a ton of credit. He was the consensus top quarterback in this draft, is still very young, could develop into a superstar and might finally answer the Jets issue at quarterback.
Having said all that, the Jets gave up a ton to get him and the process deserves some criticism. Their decision to move up was predicated, we have to think, on being OK with one of three quarterbacks. (Presumably Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen.) They might have landed their top choice, but it wasn’t necessarily by design, and it’s possible they could have stayed at No. 6, gotten one of the quarterbacks they wanted and still kept all those second-round picks. For a franchise trying to rebuild and put pieces around a new franchise quarterback, those picks are valuable. They only got one of them on Friday.
Steelers’ 2018 title hopes
This is a weird one, because I don’t mind the Steelers’ second day of the draft from a larger perspective. Getting the combo of Mason Rudolph and James Washington, two guys who lit things up for Oklahoma State, is tremendous for the long haul. At some point Ben Roethlisberger is walking away from football and the Steelers hope Rudolph can replace him. If he does, Rudolph will be a steal in the third round, and giving him a receiver in Washington he’s familiar with should help him grow. Also: the Steelers hit home runs on approximately 75 percent of the receivers they draft in the middle rounds, so expect Washington to become a Pro Bowler at some point. Rudolph, by the way, was taken with the pick acquired in the Martavis Bryant trade. The Steelers also added Chuks Okorafor, a Western Michigan offensive lineman, with the 92nd pick. These might great selections, but the Steelers should be in “win now” mode and I’m not sure any of the guys from Day 2 are going to help them win in 2018. They certainly don’t want to see Rudolph doing anything other than taking a knee.
Jimmy Garoppolo truthers
Everyone is aware Bill Belichick traded Jimmy Garropolo to the 49ers for a second-round pick. Which means there are many people who want to know what exactly that pick — No. 43 in this draft — ended up being. Ideally it’s a quarterback, because then we can directly compare that quarterback to Jimmy G for the rest of time. Any player would be fine, though, because it offers a comp of some sort to get worked up about when Garoppolo is winning title after title in the Bay Area. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Belichick and Nick Caserio traded four times on Friday, moving all over the board and managing to completely convolute the concept of what they got in return for Garoppolo. As best we can tell, it’s a fourth-round pick (No. 105), a 2019 second-round pick and some small percentage of cornerback Duke Dawson (they used No. 117 to move up and grab him). Well played by the Patriots because it’s going to be at least another full year before anyone can reasonably ascertain what they got in return. Kick the can down the road and avoid scrutiny. It’s a smart move.
Dallas has had a pretty nice draft, and the setting looks fantastic for making the draft a permanent traveling sideshow (expect it to circle back through Arlington on a regular basis after this weekend). But the combo of having all different kinds of fans in the arena has emboldened other people to come in and just trash talk Cowboys fans.
The Eagles were the trolliest of all, because, on the same day that rumors circulated of Cowboys tight end Jason Witten retiring, the reigning Super Bowl champions traded up in front of Dallas to land a tight end, who happened to be NAMED DALLAS. Specifically, Dallas Goedert out of South Dakota State, who was at one time considered the top tight end in the draft class and a guy who will fit in well behind Zach Ertz. Philly sent David Akers out to announce the pick and he went full WWE on the crowd, letting Cowboys fans know that the last time they were in the Super Bowl, these draft prospects “weren’t even BORN.”
DAVID AKERS IS A SAVAGE 🔥 pic.twitter.com/NP52RDmVmh
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) April 28, 2018