2013 NFL Draft: Grading the second day
Teams swinging for the fences in the first round often come up empty, but a more measured, logical approach often results in better players drafted in later rounds. No one did that better Friday night than last year's Super Bowl opponents. Which other teams fared well in rounds two and three?
Many fans don't appreciate the mindset that NFL decision-makers take with their first-round pick. Rather than fill obvious areas of need or even take the best-player-available strategy, many clubs are swinging for the fences, to steal a metaphor from baseball.
The problem with swinging for the fences is that, all too often, one swings and misses. Projecting rare athleticism to suddenly turn into production is why the first round is littered with more strikeouts than home runs. It is the second and third rounds when teams start leveling their swings and hitting the line drives that result in the singles and doubles that we see the consistently successful teams in the NFL use to re-tool their rosters.
No one did that better Friday night than the two teams that met in the Super Bowl last year, the San Francisco 49ers and world champion Baltimore Ravens.
Below are quick-hitting thoughts on how each team fared on Day Two of the 2013 draft.
* Teams were placed in their original order of the first round, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins and New England Patriots, each of which actually traded their first picks.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Lots of potential, not a lot of production for the Chiefs with tight end
and running back
. Grade: C
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Love the physicality of safety Jon Cyprien and cornerback Dwayne Gratz . For the first time in years, the Jaguars will have a little bit of snarl in the secondary. Grade: B+
3. Oakland Raiders: Al Davis might be smiling from the heavens with the way that Reggie McKenzie is drafting as OT Menelik Watson and OLB Sio Moore are highly athletic (despite Watson's slooow 40-yard dash) and pop on tape. Grade: B
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly took great advantage of tight ends while at Oregon, and he'll have a moveable chess piece with Zach Ertz to manipulate defenses geared toward stopping the Eagles' established stars. Bennie Logan was a surprise, as many saw him as a better fit as a DT in a 4-3. Grade: C
5. Detroit Lions: Quietly, a solid second day with the addition of a highly athletic cover corner in Darius Slay and earth-mover Larry Warford . Grade: B-
6. Cleveland Browns: Only one pick on Day Two, but it was spent on one of the better, more instinctive corners in the draft in San Diego State's Leon McFadden . McFadden has natural coverage ability and ball skills, but he's also just under 5-foot-10. Grade: C+
7. Arizona Cardinals: Easy to fall in love with the Cardinals' guts to gamble on
, who'll be moved to free safety. Mathieu is reunited with fellow LSU playmaker
, giving Arizona two of the best playmakers in all of the NFL in their secondary, as well as the Tigers' MVP, inside linebacker
, a physical, instinctive run-stuffer. Grade: B+
8. Buffalo Bills: EJ Manuel will have a sure-handed receiver like he had at Florida State with the ultra-smooth Robert Woods , landed by the Bills in the second round. Kiko Alonso was the guy making all of the plays that Dion Jordan (Miami, No. 3 overall) was supposed to make and could surprise, as could Texas' highly-athletic (and surprisingly tough) wideout, Marquise Goodwin . Grade: B
9. New York Jets: Give the Jets credit. They nabbed the quarterback Geno Smith in the second round that some of us thought they might be targeting in the first, instantly raising the heat on Mark Sanchez to either perform on the field or land another modeling gig. Third-round pick Brian Winters is hardly a pretty boy on the offensive line. His mauling style will make him a quick favorite of blue-collar Jets fans. Grade: B+
10. Tennessee Titans: No one found better pure athletes on the second day of the draft than the Titans, who, with wide receiver Justin Hunter , cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson and outside linebacker Zaviar Gooden , might have three quarters of an Olympic track team. The only concern is that each has shown thus far to be better athletes than football players... Grade: B
11. San Diego Chargers: Manti Te'o is going to take his fair share of ribbing from teammates and opponents (and their fans). But once he proves himself to be a quality starter in the NFL, all of the heckling with quiet down. I love (make that LOVE) the addition of Keenan Allen in the third round for a team that has struggled with consistency at receiver. Te'o will be solid; Allen will prove a steal. Grade: A-
12. Miami Dolphins: While I'm not nearly as high on Miami's top pick, Jordan, I did like what general manager Jeff Ireland did on Day Two. Cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis are more athletic than given credit for, and each plays with the physicality needed to be successful in the NFL. Dallas Thomas is quite possibly the most versatile offensive lineman in the draft and, ironically enough, considering he was the No. 77 overall pick, could take over for Jake Long (who wore No. 77) at left tackle. Grade: B
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: An intriguing second day ... At 6-2, 185 pounds, Johnthan Banks has the length and ball skills (16 career interceptions) to play press opposite Darrelle Revis . The bigger (literally and figuratively) story, of course, is strong-armed pocket-passer Mike Glennon in the third round, which clearly puts Josh Freeman on the hot seat. If Glennon wasn't such a stationary target, I'd like the gamble more. Grade: C+
14. Carolina Panthers: Teams often talk about protecting their quarterback by adding an offensive line and weapons for him to throw to. Leave it to former linebacker Ron Rivera to beef up the defensive line to protect his prized middle linebacker Luke Kuechly with Kawann Short , after selecting Star Lotulelei in the first round. Grade: B
15. New Orleans Saints: Really like the selection of highly-athletic offensive tackle Terron Armstead as a potential replacement for Jermon Bushrod at left tackle. Armstead had wowed at the East-West Shrine Game and improved throughout the week as a late Senior Bowl addition before his eye-popping combine workout. If big Jon Jenkins can stay away from the po'boys, he could be a star in New Orleans. Grade: B+
16. St. Louis Rams: An interesting mix of high upside ( Alec Ogletree ) and production ( Stedman Bailey ) and both ( T.J. McDonald ) on Day Two. I'm higher on the McDonald selection than most. While he's a bit stiff in the hips, I believe he can be an effective eraser in the middle due to the Rams' stellar cornerback play. Grade: B
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Whether it is good or bad news, the Steelers have become awfully predictable. Le'Veon Bell is another big back who'll not only pound defenders but slip by (or leap) over them. Markus Wheaton is a virtual clone of Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders , the lean, highly athletic wideouts the club has stolen in the middle rounds of past years. Grade: B
18. Dallas Cowboys: I wasn't a huge fan of the value the Cowboys received with center Travis Frederick but like their Day Two picks. Tight end Gavin Escobar is a talented receiving specialist who'll complement (and potentially ultimately replace) Jason Witten. Terrance Williams simply led the country in receiving yards the year after RGIII left the building and is among the elite vertical threats in the 2013 class. JJ Wilcox is a high-upside gamble after just one season at safety. Grade: B+
19. New York Giants: Upside, upside, upside. The Giants love to re-stock their defensive line, and they certainly have two athletes in 6-3, 320-pound defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and hybrid defensive end Damontre Moore who could do it. Each has the tools to be standouts but struggled, at times, with dedication. Head coach Tom Coughlin is old school, so this could be an interesting combination. Grade: B
20. Chicago Bears: I thought the selection of Kyle Long was a reach in the first round and, unfortunately, I have similar reservations about linebacker Jon Bostic in the second. Bostic is a highly athletic thumper inside who will perform his job capably, but I thought there were better players available. Grade: C
21. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals had been long rumored to like Giovani Bernard as a complement to Benjarvus Green-Ellis. They wasted no time in showing it, making the multi-purpose Tar Heel the first running back drafted in 2013. The Bengals re-stock the defensive line each year, and the 6-8, 277-pound Margus Hunt has the athleticism to prove a steal -- just like Michael Johnson , Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins as non-first-round picks for the Bengals. Finally, Cincinnati nabbed one of my personal favorites in Shawn Williams , a no-nonsense safety who'll bring some toughness in the secondary. Grade: A
22. Washington Redskins: They needed to address their secondary and, in David Amerson , nabbed a lanky ball-hawk (NCAA-leading 18 career interceptions) with first-round traits. Tight end Jordan Reed is a virtual clone of former Florida Gator Aaron Hernandez and could prove to be similarly effective as the Patriots' standout as a move tight end or H-back in this scheme. Grade: B
23. Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings did not have a second- or third-round selection after their aggressive moves on Thursday. I loved what they did in the first round, however.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Not an exciting second day of the draft for Colts fans, but Hugh Thornton is a versatile and tough interior lineman who'll help keep Andrew Luck firing touchdowns. Grade: B
25.Seattle Seahawks: They were criticized a year ago for taking a pass-rushing specialist in Bruce Irvin with the No. 15 overall pick. This year, they traded down before nabbing another surprise in running back Christine Michael . The former Aggie offers more natural talent than Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch . But to warrant this selection, he'll need to show improved dedication and durability. Defensive tackle Jordan Hill is a high-motor plugger who'll provide some pass rush from the interior on passing downs. The Seahawks might have to get creative if many of the NFL-leading 10 selections that they possess on Day Three are to make their talented roster. Grade: C
26. Green Bay Packers: They only had one selection on Day Two, but he could to be a huge one, nabbing running back Eddie Lacy , a player many (including myself) projected them to take a round earlier. Lacy has drawn comparisons to Steven Jackson for his blend of power and agility. Considering the red-zone opportunities that he could get with Aaron Rodgers throwing the football, Lacy could be an offensive rookie of the year candidate. Grade: A-
27. Houston Texans: I really like what they did. Safety D.J. Swearinger is a versatile, highly physical safety who'll add to the toughness of the secondary. In a similar way, Sam Montgomery could surprise (if he remains focused on football) as an edge rusher. People tend to gloss over the fact that he was a much more consistent and productive defender at LSU than Barkevious Mingo , whom the Browns took at No. 6 overall. Finally, offensive tackle Brennan Williams earned first-round grades from a number of scouts and only lasted until the third because of the fact that he is coming off a torn labrum. Massive and highly athletic, he's a perfect fit at right tackle. Grade: A
28. Denver Broncos: I've compared Montee Ball to Curtis Martin, so I'm clearly high on his talent. And considering how much John Fox loves running the ball, Ball has the opportunity to be successful immediately. He's a workhorse who left Wisconsin as the NCAA leader in touchdowns, but I wonder how much tread he has left on his tires. I like cornerback Kayvon Webster 's athleticism but thought there were more pro-ready defensive backs still on the board. Grade: B-
29. New England Patriots: They started off hot on Day Two but dropped off as the evening went on. Former Southern Miss linebacker Jamie Collins is a former safety who just kept getting bigger. He has exciting athleticism and physicality but needs significant polish. I love the Aaron Dobson pick and actually projected this match here. His size and speed should give Tom Brady the vertical threat that he has been missing since Randy Moss, another Marshall product, left town. I'm not quite as high on the former Rutgers teammates in the third round. Logan Ryan is more smooth than explosive. Duron Harmon, like several Patriots picks in the past, was a surprise and, frankly, a reach. Grade: C+
30. Atlanta Falcons: After aggressively trading up to select Desmond Trufant -- the best cover corner in the draft -- in the first round, they only had one pick on Day Two. They nabbed another quick pass defender in Robert Alford . Like Trufant, Alford had scouts buzzing at the Senior Bowl due to his coverage skills. Grade: B
31. San Francisco 49ers: Boasting one of the league's most talented rosters and an arsenal of draft picks, they bounced throughout the draft (each of their first four picks was acquired via trade) to land two exciting pass rushers and one of the more intriguing tight ends in a very strong class. Tank Carradine plays with the physicality and motor to warrant his nickname of "Tank" and only slipped to No. 40 overall due to a late knee injury. Corey Lemonier is a bit straight-linish, but he has a quick first step, an improving spin move and both the length and build to contribute immediately. At 6-foot-4, 267 pounds, Vance McDonald looks the part of an in-line blocker, but his primary contribution will be as a pass catcher, a similar role to what he played while often being split out wide at Rice. Grade: A-
32. Baltimore Ravens: After retirement and free-agent defections seemed to gut a proud defense over the off-season, they simply reloaded their roster with the best possible picks. Linebacker Arthur Brown will prove to be a steal in the second round. It would be hyperbole to say he's the second coming of Ray Lewis, but he's an upgrade from Dannell Ellerbe . Brandon Williams has become one of my favorite players in this draft. The broad-shouldered, three-time All-American really impressed me at the Combine and took up a spot on my all-underrated team. He'll play early (and well) at nose guard, potentially freeing Haloti Ngata to wreak havoc all over the defensive line. Grade: A
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