The Bears were shrewd, Tyrod Taylor has competition, the Rams have rough vibes and more on the first three rounds of the draft.
After all of the posturing before Round 1 of the NFL Draft about where the top five quarterbacks would go, it was freeing to go into night two talking mostly about safeties, running backs and offensive linemen. Round 1 might have all the glitz and glamour, but Rounds 2 and 3 are the real meat of the NFL Draft, where teams’ preferences diverge, steals are to be had and pick announcements begin to be met with quizzical-but-polite applause from even the most fervent fans. Aside from the fact that we don’t know if Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love got a new receiver on Friday, here are our picks for the night’s winners and losers.
What if I told you … Dave Gettleman traded down not once but twice in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft? And that he still was able to get a difference-making receiver in Round 1 and an edge rusher with first-round ability in Round 2? It’s a heck of a haul. Azeez Ojulari was an extremely productive rusher at Georgia—15 sacks in 23 games—and medical red flags may have contributed to his dropping out of Round 1. But Ojulari told reporters that there are no problems with the knee he tore in high school; he was also cleared by James Andrews. If that is the case, the Giants will have gotten a major steal at No. 50—while also picking up a 2022 third-rounder. Savvy, tendency-breaking performance for the Giants GM.
Yes, the Chicago Bears
The Bears did the opposite of the Giants, trading up in both Rounds 1 and 2, but both were sensible moves to land players that could change the team’s fortunes. After moving up for Justin Fields on Thursday night, Chicago traded up again to nab a big protector for their new QB: OT Teven Jenkins, who did not allow a sack in his last two seasons at Oklahoma State. Jenkins, who many expected to be taken in the first round, projects as a starting right tackle. GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy had to go for it in this year’s draft, and they did so shrewdly.
L.A. Chargers’ Draft Board
Not only was OT Rashawn Slater still available when the Chargers picked at No. 13, but on Friday night, CB Asante Samuel, Jr. fell to them at pick No. 47. Tackle and cornerback were the Chargers’ two biggest needs, and with each pick they got a player widely expected to be gone at that slot.
While his old team is giving its new quarterback the support Darnold never had, his new team is doing a lot for him, too. The Panthers used all of their Day 2 picks to support their QB, selecting WR Terrace Marshall, Jr., OT Brady Christensen and TE Tommy Tremble.
The Cowboys’ first four picks were, necessarily, all on defense, a boon for a new defensive coordinator. After taking LB Micah Parsons in the first round, Dallas added Kentucky CB Kelvin Joseph in Round 2, and UCLA DT Osa Odighizuwa and Iowa DE Chauncey Golston in Round 3.
For those of us (all of us) impatiently watching Kings of Leon perform a song from 13 years ago after the draft’s scheduled start time of 8 p.m. on Thursday, the lack of dawdling on Friday night was very pleasing.
The Vibe in the Rams’ Malibu Draft Mansion
GM Les Snead isn’t there because of a positive COVID-19 test (get well soon), there’s a creepy portrait of Roger Goodell looming over Sean McVay and the first name they turned in, 149-pound WR Tutu Atwell, received a, shall we say, lukewarm reaction.
H/T to editor Mitch Goldich who pointed out that Tyrod Taylor, yet again, is with a team that used a high draft pick on a QB. It was not as high as No. 1 (Baker Mayfield) or No. 6 (Justin Herbert), but pick No. 67 was the highest draft pick the Texans had, which they used to take Stanford’s Davis Mills (read more on what this means from Conor Orr).
The Analytics Crowd
Specifically, those who can no longer poke fun at Gettleman. He traded down! Twice!
For those of us clinging desperately to the fleeting sense of feeling young, the realization that the NFL now has players born in the 2000s, like Marshall (June 9, 2000) and Ojulari (June 16, 2000), was a tough blow.
Roger Goodell’s chair
The commissioner’s brown leather chair, from which he conducted last year’s pandemic draft in his basement, made a commemorative journey to Cleveland. But unlike the artifacts preserved behind glass panels in the nearby Halls of Fame, this chair was handled by dozens of fans, poised to absorb stray glitter from team logo necklaces or alcohol-laced body fluids (how else were fans expected to stay warm?). Orr is confident this is not actually Goodell’s real chair—on the off chance it is, it will not be for long.
Anyone Standing Outside in Cleveland
Weather in Cleveland in late April is a gamble. It could have been worse, but ideally Adam Schefter would not have had to cocoon in a blanket.
More NFL Draft Coverage:
• Live Tracker: Pick-by-pick grades
• Orr: Is Urban Meyer ready for Trevor Lawrence?
• Orr: Drafting Trey Lance will define Kyle Shanahan’s legacy
• Vrentas: The Patriots’ post-Brady era begins now