Day 1 of the NFL Draft gets the most attention but day 2 and 3 always see a few teams make very strong moves which should make immediate impacts. On the flip side, many teams miss the mark and seem to be just throwing darts at the draft board. Let’s take a quick look at some of the winners and losers from the last two days of the draft.
NFL Draft Day 2 Winners
The Panthers did a great job in bolstering their defense after finishing second to last in scoring defense last year. Their new head coach Matt Rhule is ensuring that Carolina does not repeat that performance in 2020. With the 38th pick, Carolina went with Etur Gross-Matos, who many speculated would be off the board on Thursday. Considered one of the most talented edge rushers in the draft, the Penn State product produced 40 tackles, 14.5 for loss, and nine sacks last season. He has the size to succeed on an NFL line at 6’5 264 and will be thrust into the starting lineup from day one.
The Panthers then made a move and traded up to pick 64 to take safety Jeremy Chinn. Much like Gross-Matos, Chinn was considered one of the best prospects at his position and should be an immediate starter. Coming off a Buck Buchanan Award, Chinn is versatile and adds another young talent to this new-look defense.
Combine those two with the first-round pick of Defensive Tackle Derrick Brown and the Panthers now have a trio of starting defensive players who will pull them out of the statistical basement.
Next up, the Jets were also big winners this weekend. A phrase rarely uttered by anyone. They made a great pickup by taking Denzel Mims from Baylor to help give them another wide receiver for Sam Darnold to play alongside. He is a true speedster who torched defenses for 28 touchdowns in his 3 years with the Bears. He is also a big target at 6’ 3’ and was one of the best performers at the combine, not only praised for his results but also his work ethic. He might be worth a flier as a fantasy sleeper in the later rounds if Quincy Enunwa keeps his No 1 spot.
New York Jets
The Jets tackled their needs in the secondary with the 68th pick and selected Ashtyn Davis from California. A lynchpin of the Golden Bears defense, the two years started reeled in six interceptions and made quarterbacks think twice about throwing to his side of the field. He has the ability to cover the slot or play single-high safety and gives New York additional versatility to their backfield.
Their defense got a further boost from the addition of Jabari Zuniga with the 79th pick who could be a real sleeper pick and a great outside linebacker out of the game. The Florida four-year starter had an impressive combine and was on the board much longer than many expected. Especially considering the lack of edge defenders in this draft.
The only real head-scratcher here was New York taking Quarterback James Morgan with the 125th overall pick. The Jets already have a 23-year-old quarterback, and Darnold is far superior so why the pick here? Morgan is a big strong-armed QB and it seems the Jets are rolling the dice he develops into a legit backup and possibly more. Unlikely but stranger things have happened.
And Now The Losers….
Las Vegas Raiders
Moving on to the losers from day 2 of the NFL Draft, first up we have the Las Vegas Raiders who started off strong in the first round, taking Henry Ruggs III in the first round to give them another receiving option. But then they took two more receivers with back to back picks in the third round which seems like a bit of overkill.
They started off by taking Lynn Bowden with the 80th pick and while he is an interesting player, there were better options on the board at 80. Lynn spent time as a running back, quarterback and wide receiver at Kentucky. When he played under center, he rushed 185 times for 1,468 yards and 13 touchdowns as a non-traditional QB. I’m just not convinced he plays any of those 3 positions well enough to make an impact at the professional level.
Next up, at 81, the Raiders to Bryan Edwards out of South Carolina. So that is three wide receivers in their first four picks and the Raiders already have Hunter Renfrow and Tyrell Williams on the roster. They just don’t have room for all of them and might have wasted one of their picks. Oh and Edwards is hurt too, dealing with a foot injury that is considered not too serious but it’s a concern. He is actually a much better prospect than Bowden as a wideout and is probably bummed he has to deal with such a crowded receiving core in Las Vegas.
They then picked up three uninspiring defensive players, capped off by taking cornerback Amik Robertson. At 5-foot-8 he is shorter than my girlfriend and will be relegated to the slot, or practice squad.
Green Bay Packers
Last, and also least from the NFL Draft day 2 and 3, we come to the Green Bay Packers. They end up in this category for the third straight day and I am beginning to really question the sobriety of their front office. For a team that has such a legendary quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, they don’t seem very committed to actually giving him anyone to throw to.
They instead chose to take his eventual successor in the first round and a running back in the second. If the Packers’ goal was to annoy both their fanbase and franchise quarterback, mission accomplished.
They kicked off day 2 of the NFL Draft by selecting RB A.J. Dillon with the 62nd overall pick. A real head-scratcher considering they already have an excellent starter in Aaron Jones already. Sure, they are adding quality depth. But they have obvious holes they keep ignoring at the wideout position. They could have had Antonio Gibson, Devin Duvernay or Bryan Edwards with that pick to make it a little less obvious they are clowning Rodgers.