2014 NFL Draft: Top 10 second-day observations
A record number of wide receivers in the first two rounds, no running back off the board in the top-50 picks and other observations from the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft
The Houston Texans stood pat at the top of the draft for the second consecutive day Friday, but the jockeying for rare talent available on Day 2 of the NFL Draft began directly behind them with the Dallas Cowboys swinging a trade with bitter rival Washington, of all teams.
Ten takeaways from Day 2 of the NFL Draft:
1. Cowboys replacing DeMarcus (Ware) with Demarcus (Lawrence): After going offensive line in the first round with Zack Martin, the
The Cowboys didn't want to wait and hope he slipped to No. 47, the 15th pick in the second round. Dallas needed to get above Atlanta at No. 37 and a few other teams who were considering a pass rusher so the Cowboys packaged that No. 47 pick, along with their third-round pick, to move up to No. 34 and select Lawrence. While the trade up was costly, it was worth it in order to secure the edge rusher the Cowboys coveted and a player they hope will grow.
2. Buccaneers building a basketball team: All jump balls, all the time. With 6-foot-5 wide receiver Vincent Jackson already on the roster, Tampa Bay drafted Texas A&M's Mike Evans at No. 7 overall in the first round and added Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the early second round. Both targets stand 6-5 and play with the physical demeanor to box out defenders and out-jump everyone around them to highpoint and come down with the football.
Starting quarterback Josh McCown had a pair of tall trees in Chicago with Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall and now he has his own version in Tampa with the trio of Jackson, Evans and Seferian-Jenkins. Tampa added Charles Sims who is relatively small at 6-feet, but he has the most reliable set of hands among running backs in this draft class.
3. Browns pass on wide receiver, answer OL and ILB needs: Prior to the start of the second round, news broke of Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon reportedly failing a drug test, which would mean a potential yearlong suspension from the NFL. While the outcome of this is a mystery right now as the appeal process plays out, the attention of many around the NFL, and of course Browns fans, shifted to the team drafting a wide receiver, a need position regardless of the Gordon news.
Cleveland held the third pick in round two, No. 35 overall with several highly rated wide receivers on the board. But the Browns stuck to their draft board and addressed another need area, picking Nevada offensive lineman Joel Bitonio. Then in the third round (pick No. 71), Cleveland again passed on a wide receiver and selected Iowa linebacker Christian Kirksey, a player who fits inside and will likely battle with Craig Robertson for the starting job next to Karlos Dansby. The Browns then traded back into the third round to draft Towson running back Terrance West, giving Cleveland an impactful one-two punch at running back with West and free agent signee Ben Tate.
4. New record for receivers selected in the first two rounds -- 12 : One of my "bold" predictions before the draft was that this deep wide receiver class would produce a record 12 receivers in the top two rounds. And that's exactly what happened when the Miami Dolphins drafted LSU's Jarvis Landry with the No. 63 overall pick, the 12th receiver drafted in the 2014 class.
Five wideouts were taken in the first round (Sammy Watkins, Evans, Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin) followed by seven in the second frame (Marqise Lee, Jordan Matthews, Paul Richardson, Davante Adams, Cody Latimer, Allen Robinson and Landry). And the receiver train didn't slow down with three more coming off the board in the third round, headlined by the Eagles drafting Oregon's Josh Huff, reuniting him with his college head coach, Chip Kelly.
5. No RBs in first 53 picks (NFL record) ... and then a run: The draft has never gone 40 picks without a running back going off the board. Until now, as the running backs were pushed down the board until the 53rd overall pick when the Tennessee Titans drafted Washington's Bishop Sankey. And that pick started a mini-run on the position as the Cincinnati Bengals followed with LSU's Jeremy Hill at pick No. 54.
Two picks later at No. 57, the San Francisco 49ers drafted Ohio State's Carlos Hyde, who many believed to be the top back in this class. The Titans needed a back to replace Chris Johnson and the Bengals added a second-round running back in consecutive years after selecting Gio Bernard last year. But the 49ers' selection is interesting with a crowded stable of backs already on the roster with Frank Gore, Marcus Lattimore, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James.
6. Survival of the fittest in NFC West: Speaking of the 49ers drafting Hyde, the NFC West has evolved into the new black and blue division with the tough, smash mouth style. And several picks through three rounds have only backed up that thought. After drafting offensive tackle Greg Robinson and defensive tackle Aaron Donald in the first round, the Rams added versatile safety Lamarcus Joyner in the second round, a player who compares favorably to Tyrann Mathiue on the field.
The 49ers added Hyde, USC center Marcus Martin and Wisconsin inside linebacker Chris Borland in the second round, while Arizona selected Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas, who is already one of the top 10 blocking tight ends in the NFL before he even takes a snap. Add those players with the first round crop from this division and it's easy to see why it's considered the most violent and competitive in the NFL.
7. Packers grab another second round WR: Randall Cobb in 2011. Jordy Nelson in 2008. Greg Jennings in 2006. Packers general manager Ted Thompson has a history of drafting wide receivers in the second round who have not only panned out, but gone on to excel as pivotal members of the Packers' offensive success. Fresno State's Davante Adams is the latest second rounder for Green Bay, pick No. 53.
Green Bay lost Jennings last offseason and James Jones a few months ago to free agency, but the Packers reload with Adams, a player who compares favorably to the 49ers' Michael Crabtree. He led the country in catches (131) and receiving touchdowns (24) in 2013, setting a new school record in receiving yards (1,718). Adams had the benefit of catching passes from Derek Carr in college and it gets even better with Aaron Rodgers in the NFL.
8. Louis Nix plummets down boards: I had the Houston Texans drafting the Notre Dame defensive tackle at No. 33 overall in my second-round mock draft. I was right on at least his new city. Houston went with UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo with the first pick in the second round followed by Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz with the first pick in the third round. But with Nix falling and still on the board, Houston traded back into the third round to get the Irish nose tackle at No. 83 overall.
Nix battled a knee injury combined with conditioning issues last season that gave several NFL teams pause. He was going to be valued more by defenses utilizing a three-man front, but not many could have guessed he would slip out of the top 75 picks altogether. Nevertheless, coordinator Romeo Crennel needs a stout anchor for the middle of his defensive front and Nix will be able to do that and more.
9. Washington, Indianapolis and Seattle make first '14 picks: The Redskins and Colts didn't own first-round picks, while the Seahawks traded theirs to Minnesota on Thursday. The Redskins finished with the second-worst record in the NFL last season, but the Rams held the rights to that pick in the first round. Washington had the second pick in the second round, but traded back with rival Dallas. The Redskins ended up drafting defensive end/outside linebacker Trent Murphy in the mid-second round followed by Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses in the third.
The Seahawks traded down again in the second round, but ended up selecting twice, picking Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson and Missouri offensive tackle Justin Britt. And the Colts, who were the final NFL team to make their first selection of this year's draft, went with Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort in the second round followed by Mississippi wide receiver Donte Moncrief in the third round.
10. Patriots draft potential successor to Tom Brady: With Ryan Mallett entering the final year of his contract and Brady not going anywhere for a few years, it was time for New England to find a new backup via the draft to groom. I'm not sure many thought that would be in the second round, though, in the form of Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo with the 62nd overall pick.
Despite turning 37 years old before the 2014 season, Brady is under contract for the next four seasons. But New England saw an opportunity to draft a young, raw passer who needs to sit and learn before he's ready for NFL snaps and goes to a situation where he can learn from one of the best. One scout told me Garoppolo is the "smartest" quarterback he has scouted in 10 years. Garoppolo does a lot of things very well, especially with the mental part of the game.
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