Patriots thrive, cowboys confuse on the second day

Round 1 of the NFL draft deserves most of the attention of fans and the media, but the steps general managers and coaches take on Day 2 can be just as important to teams’ fortunes.

Offensive linemen and cornerbacks were in high demand on Friday, and there was even a mini-run on quarterbacks that picked up three callers within four picks. After completing the first three rounds, some teams and players stood out as clear beneficiaries of the evening’s action, while some others stayed behind in questionable places.

Here are the biggest winners and losers of Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft:

WINNER

New England Patriots: Bill Belichick’s most recent day 2 record was spotty at best, but this is the kind of move the manager needs to speed his team’s return to form. The Patriots kept the Nick Saban pipeline going after placing Alabama quarterback Mac Jones at number 15 overall, and used their round two picks for another Crimson Tide product, Christian Barmore, a talent the first round and perhaps the best available player to enter on the defensive tackle Friday. New England continued to increase their pass rush by adding Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins towards the end of the third round.

Both players need more polish and consistency in their approach, but Belichick seems like the right person to help them reach their potential. The movements represented a significant step in reloading the defense.

Zach Wilson: New York Jets GM Joe Douglas has apparently learned from his missteps with Sam Darnold as he is now investing heavily in providing the BYU quarterback and No. 2 selection. After joining USC offensive guard Alijah Vera-Tucker on Round 1, Douglas used the only remaining slice of his Friday arsenal to provide Wilson with a seedy and outdated target in Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore. The state of secondary school could cause Wilson to catch up frequently as a freshman, but the offensive parts are starting to unite nicely.

Los Angeles chargers: Premier players in distress have now fallen twice into the lap of GM Tom Telesco in this draft. A day after solving their longstanding left tackle problem by securing the Rashawn Slater in the northwest, the Bolts cemented their secondary school with Asante Samuel Jr., the cornerback of the US state of Florida, number 47. Beyond his size, Samuel has almost everything it takes to be a longtime starter at the next level. Georgia Tre ‘McKitty’s tight end, however, was a reach in the third round.

Rondale Moore: At just 5 to 7 and 181 pounds, Moore was faced with an unclear pro perspective as he waited to see if the organization that selected him would be open enough to use him in a way that suits his talents. The Purdue wide receiver – the No. 49 Arizona Cardinals pick – landed in perhaps the optimal spot, however, as coach Kliff Kingsbury has shown himself willing to overlook the size for groundbreaking talent. Moore definitely fits that bill, and Kyler Murray should be able to figure out ways to get the ball into space for his explosiveness to show through.

Dave Gettleman: It’s never too late for someone to change their behaviors as the New York Giants’ typically rigid 70-year-old GM has now traded back twice on draft. His stretch on Saturday was particularly impressive as round two pass rusher, Azeez Ojulari of Georgia, and round third cornerback Aaron Robinson were designed to bolster the defense in both the short and long term.

Cleveland Browns: No one would have turned a blind eye if the Browns had made their first pick against Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Instead, Cleveland added northwest cornerback Greg Newsome II and returned for the versatile defender in the middle of the second round. Owusu-Koramoah’s explosiveness and range should be put to good use in Defense Coordinator Joe Woods’ plan. Anthony Schwartz, the third round recipient, is unpolished but has a solid claim to be the fastest player in this year’s draft.

Patrick Mahomes: The Kansas City Chiefs have no intention of harassing their star quarterback again after injuries along the offensive line helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ rush to pass him in Super Bowl 55, which added another former Oklahoma highlight in the Center of Creed Humphrey added. The decision was made with the immediate consent of the caller himself.

Kyle Trask: The Florida quarterback may face an uphill battle to establish himself as a reliable starter in the NFL, but he’s in a promising place for development after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made him the final round two pick. Tom Brady and Bruce Arians are ideal tutors for the young passerby, and Trask will not face any pressure to take action for some time.

Miami Dolphins: After the Denver Broncos skipped his team to pick North Carolina, which trailed Javonte Williams early in round two, GM warned Chris Grier later Friday not to reach for a need. That patience has paid off as the safety of Jevon Holland and Hunter Long on day two adds to an impressive performance that started with Jaylen Waddle, the first round receiver, and Jaelan Phillips, the pass rusher. A running back would round out the class, but Miami is in good shape.

Sam Darnold: The day after the Carolina Panthers decided against hiring a top passer-by to push Darnold, the team exercised the option of quarterback for the fifth year. This was just the beginning of the day’s good news for the signal caller when the front office tackled him with his second day of LSU-wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. (who already has experience with Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady’s system), BYU Offensive Tackle, cheered Brady Christensen and Notre Dame to quit Tommy Tremble. Not bad for a player who seemed to have a hard time finding a place to start before the Panthers pounced on him in a trade.

Trey sermon: The reclining state of Ohio and the Oklahoma transfer ended his college career on the upswing late, and his prospects for the pros are particularly promising after finishing third-round with the San Francisco 49ers. Kyle Shanahan’s scheme should fit Sermon perfectly, and the 6-0, 215-pound back should make a fun pair with quarterback Trey Lance who can romp his legs through the defense too.

Aaron Rodgers: Perhaps the moves won’t calm the angry quarterback, but at least the Green Bay Packers did something to help him. The team addressed their hole in the middle by taking Josh Myers, Ohio, in the second round before picking up a wide receiver at Clemson’s Amari Rodgers in the third round.

LOSER

Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones and Co. made it their business to load the defense with the kind of playmaker that new coordinator Dan Quinn would enjoy. The returns from four picks for Day 2, however, were mostly uninspiring. Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph could become the Ballhawk who was long absent from this secondary school, but his inexperience and underdeveloped grasp of the position make him a risky option for a major role early in his career. Neither UCLA’s Osa Odighizuwa nor Iowa’s Chauncey Golston are doing much to move the needle along the line of defense, and Oregon state cornerback Nahshon Wright is a daunting project.

Carson Wentz: Apparently, the Indianapolis Colts aren’t that concerned about outsiders because of their hole in the left tackle. GM Chris Ballard doubled up on his defensive by taking Vanderbilt DE Dayo Odeyingbo after grabbing Michigan DE Kwity Paye on Day 1. Perhaps another step is coming, but that should raise serious concerns for a quarterback who picked up 50 sacks in the league in 2020 despite only playing 12 games.

Najee Harris: It sure seemed like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ focus would shift to the patchwork front after the team took advantage of their top picks on the returning Alabama on Thursday. But the organization chose Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth instead in Round 2. The Steelers finally turned their attention to the line in the third round with Kendrick Green, the Illinois center / guard, but the addition feels a bit overwhelming. With Ben Roethlisberger’s declining skill set and prospects across the board, Harris could have a tough time as a rookie.

Seattle Seahawks: So much for giving Russell Wilson his coveted offensive line assistance. Seattle had other plans with its first selection and got West Michigan recipient D’Wayne Eskridge in the second round. The 5-9, 190-pound target has an easy pace, but he’s already 24 and more of an open field threat than a full receiver.

Los Angeles Rams: Can a 155 pound recipient successfully navigate the NFL? We’ll find out the answer when Louisville recipient Tutu Atwell takes the field for Sean McVay. Given the Rams’ plethora of pass-catching options with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, and DeSean Jackson, this selection felt like a luxury for a team with other business to deal with.

Jared Goff: While the Detroit Lions patiently approach the post-Matthew Stafford rebuilding, they don’t do much in the passing game to give Goff guns. GM Brad Holmes didn’t select a recipient in the first three rounds, so the team has two main options, Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams. This will be a race-heavy outfit, but even with D’Andre Swift’s second year passing contributions, the configuration for Goff could be untenable.

Melvin Gordon: The returning Broncos voiced his dissatisfaction earlier this off-season, saying he felt “overlooked”. With Denver making an early pick for Williams, it seems like Gordon will have at least one more share of time in the backfield. Since he is entering a contract year, he must take advantage of all available opportunities.

Davis Mills: While Trask enters the NFL in what may be an ideal situation, Mills is already at the center of a mayhem with the Houston Texans. The Stanford caller may not be ready for a substantial role early in his career after just eleven college starts, but Houston can’t really get on with the uncertainty about Deshaun Watson’s future. Even with the star quarterback and franchise taking a clean break, this hardly seems like the right atmosphere for a young signaler to develop properly.

Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.

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