Winners and Losers from Rounds 2 and 3
Two more rounds, over 100 picks in two days, and still 150 more to go tomorrow. This is the NFL Draft, and it is a marathon not a sprint. After the big time first round players on Thursday, teams start to really build their team’s depth over the final six rounds. Teams can find real difference makers in a deep draft like this one. For the most part teams had a good night, including Chicago being able to get some redemption and Alabama nearly tying the record for the most players taken in the first three rounds. In a night that saw nearly 15 trades, there was plenty of excitement (and boos) to go around in Philadelphia.
After an unexpectedly long day for the Crimson Tide on Thursday, they bounced back with a historic day on Friday. They had five more players selected on Friday, pushing their total to nine in the first three rounds and being one shy of tying Ohio State’s record of ten. They broke the record for the most picked in the first 55 picks when Cam Robinson, Ryan Anderson, and Dalvin Tomlinson were taken in the second round. Then they broke the record for the most selections in the first 80 picks when Tim Williams and ArDarius Stewart were taken by the Ravens and Jets, respectively. Even more impressive is that five of the seven picks came from Alabama’s front seven. This just goes to show why they are always at the top of the college football pyramid.
Loser: Mark Ingram
What did Mark Ingram do to Sean Peyton? After being a first round pick in 2011 for the Saints, they have been reluctant to give him the lead back role. Look at his numbers! He has averaged 4.4 yards per carry for his career and averaged 5.1 this past season. Yet, he is always having to share. It seemed this year he would finally get his shot and in a matter of three days the Saints signed Adrian Peterson and drafted Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara. I get passing on Kamara at 67th overall would have been tough, I had a serious draft crush on Kamara, but you have to feel for Ingram. He is suddenly looking at possibly being the third running back on the depth chart or at least heavily splitting carries even after a career year in games played, yards, and yards per carry. Someone…free Mark Ingram!
Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I had trouble finding many teams that were having “bad” drafts, but there were certainly some teams doing better than others. After the gift of OJ Howard falling into their laps on Thursday, the Buccaneers followed it up with a strong Friday. With their first pick, Tampa were able to address the weakest part of their defense when they picked hard-hitting strong safety Justin Evans out of Texas A&M. Evans will dominate as a box safety and add some more punch to the Tampa defense. In the third round the Buccaneers were able to get another weapon for Jameis Winston in Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin. Godwin turned heads at the combine and in his three-year career he accumulated 2,421 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns. Finally, Tampa Bay traded into the end of the third round and selected LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith. Fellow LSU Tiger Kwon Alexander now has someone to pair with in the linebacking corps. The Buccaneers are poised to make a run in the always unpredictable NFC South next year.
Few teams had bad days, but some position groups fell farther than expected. The quarterbacks were one group that saw their stock plummet on the second day. After the flurry of trades at the top of the first round that saw Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson find homes, we did not have another quarterback selected until Cleveland took DeShone Kizer at 52nd overall. Davis Webb, who some claimed was a first rounder (they were nuts, but that is an argument for another day), did not go until the third round to the New York Giants. Then guys like Pitt’s Nathan Peterman and Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs were passed up when San Francisco took Iowa’s CJ Beathard about three rounds earlier than expected. Now Kizer and Webb actually ended up in pretty good situations, but it seems that everyone stopped buying into the “this class is not as bad as they say” hype.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts
There is no other team that can claim they have gotten as much value as the Colts in their picks, except for maybe San Francisco. New Colts GM Chris Ballard had holes to fill all over their defense and especially in the secondary. On Thursday, Malik Hooker, the second best safety who has drawn comparisons to Earl Thomas, fell to them at the 15th pick. Then today they were able to draft cornerback Quincy Wilson, who was likely a candidate at 15 for them. Getting two of the best at their positions in areas of need without having to move up is a big win for the Colts. To top it all off they were able to get some more pass rush help in the third round when they took Ohio Bobcat Tarell Basham. All three were incredible value picks and should go a long way in turning around the Colts defense.
Loser: Running Backs
Another group that slipped was the running backs. There were probably five running backs that had a realistic shot of going in the first round, but we only saw two. Friday, Dalvin Cook was first off the board after the Vikings moved up to get him with the ninth pick in the second round. Next, the Bengals were able to trade back TWICE to get the highly controversial Joe Mixon with the 48th pick. As we have discussed, Alvin Kamara slipped all the way to the third round, even though many had him projected to go in the first half of the second round. D’Onta Foreman fell even farther to the Texans at 89th overall. Kareem Hunt went a few picks before Foreman, which is about where we expected. It wasn’t all bad though as Pitt’s James Conner, who probably has one of the most inspiring stories of any prospect in the draft, was taken by his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers at the end of the third round. The overall depth of this class probably allowed for some teams to wait and address the position later, but for all the hype the group has received, they had a longer than expected Friday night.
Winner: Defensive Backs
Another record setting group today were the defensive backs. We knew going in that this was a special secondary group, and teams pounced. In the first three rounds (107 picks), there were 29 defensive backs taken. Put another way, 27% of all the picks through three rounds were either a cornerback or a safety, which is absolutely crazy when you think about it. That was obviously a record and there are still some very talented players left at the position like Miami’s Corn Elder, Iowa’s Desomnd King, and Alabama’s Eddie Jackson who probably won’t have to wait long to have their names called on Saturday. This may end up being a class of players that we talk about for a very long time.
Honorable Mention: The Chicago Bears
After spending all day being ridiculed by the media, myself, reporters, analysts, dogs, cats, Egyptians, and anyone else you can think of, the Bears went out and recouped some of the picks they used to go up and get Mitchell Trubisky. While only time will tell if Trubuisky was worth it, people can relax after the Bears traded down with the Cardinals. They sent two thirds and a fourth to San Francisco, and were able to get back two fourths from Arizona on Friday. I can see how many are still mad at the Bears for giving up that much for an unproven quantity, but after getting some picks back Friday they can rest a little easier.
Rounds 4–7 begin on ESPN and NFL Network at noon today and will run well into the evening, so settle in while we work our way through the final 149 picks. The draft doesn’t end there though because all the players who are not taken will immediately have their phones blown up by teams wanting to make them priority undrafted free agents. And that is like a whole game in and of itself. I’ll be watching the draft all day, so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation about your thoughts on Twitter (@Rookie_Rhino), we’ve gotta find some way to pass the seven hours!