Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft is over, and 74 more college stars saw their pro dreams come true. Players coming from programs ranging from LSU and Ohio State to Lenoir-Rhyne and Dayton heard NFL commissioner Roger Goodell call their names to shove them off on their NFL journeys.
The ripples of Friday night’s decisions won’t be fully understood for at least a decade as early-round picks fizzle and overlooked prospects rise to the top of the NFL. Even so, we can gather a pretty good idea of which players, teams, and college programs are celebrating a little bit harder than others as the draft nears its halfway point.
So who looks best after a quick glance in the rear view mirror? And which teams may need to stick their landing on Day 3?
Winner: Every team that got a first-round talent on Day 2
On Thursday night, 32 elite football players were welcomed into the NFL fraternity. But the amount of sheer talent that was still waiting to be drafted was incredible:
One personnel director calls this “the deepest second round in the last 25 years.” He believes there are 20 players available tonight that could have been first-round picks; there usually are 7-10. “There will be as many starters in this round that there are in the first round.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 24, 2020
So many names who were expected to be drafted in the first round — and might have been in any other year — remained on the board. Safety Xavier McKinney was a popular mock draft pick for the Cowboys or Dolphins. So was cornerback Kristian Fulton to the Raiders, edge A.J. Epenesa to the Patriots, cornerback Jaylon Johnson to the Vikings, OT Josh Jones to the Dolphins, and WR Denzel Mims to the Packers, among others.
Other players who could’ve sneaked into Round 1 included safety Antoine Winfield Jr, OT Ezra Cleveland, and even running backs D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor or J.K. Dobbins. (Please, no debates about the value of a first-round running back right now.)
All of those players were available heading into Day 2. Teams like the Colts (Taylor, Michael Pittman Jr.), Cowboys (Trevon Diggs, Neville Gallimore), Giants (McKinney), Bills (Epenesa), Jets (Mims), and Cardinals (Jones) were the ones to benefit most.
Winner: The scary as hell Ravens running game
No team had more rushing yards than the Ravens in 2019.
Lamar Jackson earned MVP honors by becoming the first NFL quarterback to ever eclipse 1,200 rushing yards. He was joined in the Baltimore backfield by Mark Ingram, who racked up 1,018 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Oh, and don’t forget about Gus Edwards, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry.
That unstoppable ground game somehow got even better Friday when the Ravens added J.K. Dobbins with the 55th pick.
Dobbins rushed for at least 1,000 yards in all three of his seasons at Ohio State. In 2019, he became the first Buckeyes running back ever to have a 2,000-yard season. That’s something Eddie George, Ezekiel Elliott, Archie Griffin, and many other great running backs didn’t accomplish.
Baltimore definitely didn’t need Dobbins’ help. Unfortunately for the entire AFC, he’ll make the Ravens — who are putting together an excellent draft — even harder to stop.
Aaron Rodgers landed on our list of Day 1 losers because the Packers drafted Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. But at least that pick made some sense. Yes, Green Bay could’ve provided Rodgers with the help he needs to win a Super Bowl, but he’s 36 and the Packers need to consider life after his retirement.
That logic can’t be applied to the Eagles’ pick, though.
Wentz is 27 and has five seasons left on his contract. It’s hard to figure out what exactly the team was thinking when it drafted Jalen Hurts in the middle of the second round. While Philadelphia knows all about the benefits of a quality backup quarterback, there were plenty of better ways to improve the roster.
Instead, there’s legitimate reason to question Wentz’s future with the franchise. A team doesn’t draft someone in the second round unless it foresees that player being a long-term fixture.
The Broncos’ 2019 second-round pick gave them a lot of reason to be optimistic last year. Lock finished his rookie season 4-1 as a starter with seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
On Thursday, Denver gave him some help by picking Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy with the No. 15 pick. Unsurprisingly, Lock was happy about it:
The Broncos didn’t stop there, though. In the second round, they Penn State receiver KJ Hamler with the 46th pick. Lock was excited about that too:
Suddenly, Lock has a quite the arsenal. Jeudy and Hamler are joining an offense that already had receiver Courtland Sutton and 2019 first-round tight end Noah Fant. Adding center Lloyd Cushenberry in the third round was just the icing on the cake.
Winner: Good dogs
A fully virtual NFL Draft promised us one very important thing: a lot of good dogs on TV. But the first day was a little bit disappointing. While Giants coach Joe Judge talked about how well-versed his golden retriever Abby is about the 2020 class, she didn’t make a single appearance.
Fortunately, there was a much larger dog presence in Day 2. Bill Belichick even turned into one:
No wonder the Patriots dominated the last two decades.
Thursday was a great day for Touchdown Tom, with the Buccaneers moving up one spot in the draft order to secure Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs. It’s a good thing they did, because the rest of the NFC South spent Friday loading up on players to take Brady down.
First, the Panthers took Penn State edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos with the 38th pick. He made it clear what his immediate NFL goal is for the 2020 season.
Yetur Gross-Matos: I want to sack Tom Brady.
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) April 25, 2020
The Atlanta Falcons were next when they picked Auburn pass rusher Marlon Davidson at 47th overall. The All-SEC defensive lineman will likely line up at defensive tackle in Dan Quinn’s defense, which added Dante Fowler Jr. earlier in the offseason.
New Orleans got in on the pass rush party too. After not picking in the second round, the Saints traded away a 2021 third-round pick to move up and take Wisconsin edge rusher Zack Baun at 74th overall.
Brady got some help of his own in Day 2. The Buccaneers added running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the third round (and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. in the second round, which probably only reminded Brady of how old he is). But that didn’t do much to change the fact that he’s clearly in the crosshairs of the other NFC South teams.
Rodgers didn’t get his first-round wideout. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing; borderline Day 1 talents like Tee Higgins, Laviska Shenault, Denzel Mims, and Michael Pittman Jr. were all on the board to begin Day 2. With a little luck or another trade up the draft board — like the club did to select Rodgers’ possible replacement, Jordan Love — one of those players would be the next big addition to the Packers’ receiving corps.
Green Bay got none of those players. It got a Boston College power back with 21 collegiate receptions to his name (AJ Dillon) and a third-round tight end out of Cincinnati who had 92 catches and 1,117 receiving yards … in four years with the Bearcats (Josiah Deguara). Instead of getting an immediate boost to his passing game, Rodgers got a couple of lottery tickets who may not make his offense any better.
Winner: Matt Hennessy
The former Temple offensive lineman didn’t just get drafted with the 14th pick in the third round Friday night by the Falcons. As the 3.14 pick, he also won a shit load of pizza.
As the 78th pick, Matt Hennessy gets free @pizzahut for a year. As the 2020 Pizza Hut Pi Pick
— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) April 25, 2020
That’s an award that should only go to offensive linemen. Congrats on the pizza, Matt.
Loser: Roger Goodell’s gas tank
The commissioner’s doing more work than usual during the draft. In a typical year, Goodell would only announce the first-round picks. The other rounds have recently been handled by trash-talking NFL alumni (who could forget Drew Pearson roasting Philadelphia?), animals, and league representatives other than Goodell reading the picks.
But this year Goodell has to read off all the selections and it seems to be wearing him out. Just look at him by the time the back half of the third round rolled around.
There’s another 149 draft picks coming Saturday. Is Goodell going to make it?
Loser: QB Jake Fromm
Fromm had to go through the first two nights of the draft without hearing his name called. What’s even worse is that there was a camera in his living room that captured him having to wait in agony:
We still don’t understand why Fromm declared for the NFL Draft this year. He had three OK seasons in Athens, but he was also coming off his least efficient year and failed to impress at the NFL Combine.
If he had returned in 2020, his team could’ve still won the SEC East division and he would’ve gotten a chance to his boost his NFL resume with a bounce-back year. Sure, maybe he didn’t want to come out in 2021, the same year as Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields (aka Fromm’s former backup). But he’s already seen five quarterbacks go ahead of him this year. Who knows how much longer he’ll be waiting alongside his generically handsome family.
Winner: Tight ends
There were six tight ends taken in the first rounds of the last three drafts. That streak ended this year, when zero tight ends went off the board on the first night of the draft. It wasn’t a shock, by any stretch. But it confirmed what many already thought about the positional group: It’s the weakest of the draft class.
The second night of the draft was another story. Now, as many tight ends (five) as quarterbacks have been selected through two nights of the draft.
Tight ends started making their comeback one-third of the way through the second round, when the Bears took Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet with the No. 43 overall pick. (Did the Bears need a tight end? Probably not.)
The third round is where things really started to pick up, though. Four different tight ends heard their name called by an increasingly sleepy Goodell: UCLA’s Devin Asiasi, Cincinnati’s Josiah Deguara, Virginia Tech’s Dalton Keene, and Dayton’s (yes, Dayton!) Adam Trautman.
Two of them, Asiasi and Keene, have been the Patriots’ only two offensive draftees so far. Belichick might not be done, either, with players like the highly athletic Albert Okwuegbunam and “Randy Moss is my dad” Thaddeus Moss still available on Day 3.