|Coby Fleener joins his Stanford teammate Andrew Luck in Indianapolis as the No. 34 pick. (AP)|
After teams used the new collective bargaining agreement like a discount coupon to target premium players in the first round of the NFL Draft, they entered round two Friday night eyeing plenty of potential Pro Bowl stars among the best of the rest.
That included five of the 26 players invited by the NFL to attend the festivities at Radio City Music Hall. Six slid out of the first round, but Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn decided to fly home to Atlanta rather than sweat out a second night in the so-called green room.
After 20 hours of conjecture about what it would do with the No. 33 overall pick to kick off the second round, St. Louis ultimately decided to hang onto the selection and went with Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick.
The No. 10-rated wide receiver in this class according to NFLDraftScout.com ratings, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Quick was selected ahead of the SEC's Reuben Randle (LSU) out of the SEC and the ACC's Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech). Quick is the school's all-time leader in receptions (202), receiving yards (3,418) and touchdown catches (31).
The first round moved at a frantic pace, featuring nine trades as selections piled up faster than the television broadcasts could run through their packages. The trades didn't come as furiously to kick start the second round, but teams at the top clearly had their prospects targeted.
The Colts wasted no time with the No. 34 overall pick, grabbing tight end Coby Fleener and reuniting him with former Stanford teammate Andrew Luck.
"I think I told him to give them the honest opinion of me," Fleener said when asked if Luck lobbied for the Colts to draft him. "I don't think he would do anything outside of that and basically told me you have my support, but ultimately it's up to the coaching staff and the general manager. [It's] their plan, not his. I'm glad I fit into that plan and I'm excited to be a Colt."
After watching Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark carve up defenses since 2003, the Colts now have another dynamic quarterback-tight end tandem to watch develop. Like Clark, Fleener is capable of lining up at tight end, in the slot or even out wide and is a big target at 6-6, 247.
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Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw, the No. 18 overall prospect in this draft by NFLDraftScout.com, was the highest-rated player to slip out of the first round. He went to Baltimore at No. 35 and will have a chance to replace free-agent departure Jarrett Johnson.
"To be playing for Coach [John] Harbaugh and [general manager] Ozzie Newsome and playing with Ray Lewis... it's going to be great. I'm real excited right now. It feels good. It would have been special last night as well, but I can't let it hold me back. I was in shock last night, but I'm ready."
Upshaw comes out of coach Nick Saban's 3-4 scheme, where he often played the Crimson Tide's "Jack" position as an outside linebacker and sometimes at end. He should be an excellent fit in Baltimore's attacking 3-4 scheme as well.
Moving the first round to Thursday night in primetime proved effective in generating increased buzz heading into the second day. After the Browns pulled a major surprise with the selection of Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden at No. 22, erstwhile incumbent starting quarterback Colt McCoy saw his name quickly surface in trade rumors.
However, his future in Cleveland remained in limbo with coach Pat Shurmur telling ESPN before the start of round two that the Browns did not have any trade talks regarding McCoy to that point.
Whether Weeden or McCoy lines up under center to start the 2012 season, the Browns again skipped over a huge need at wide receiver to secure more bulk up front with Cal offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz at No. 37.
After Jacksonville selected defensive tackle Andre Branch, the Rams used one of their picks from the Robert Griffin III trade on controversial cornerback Janoris Jenkins. One of the most physically talented cover men in the draft with mid-first round talent, Jenkins' stock tumbled over off-field concerns.
Jenkins was dismissed by Florida coach Will Muschamp following a second marijuana-related charged and played for North Florida in 2011 after considering entering the draft last year. Jenkins denied recent reports that he continued to use marijuana while at North Alabama.
On the field, he has Pro Bowl potential with a rare combination of instincts, quickness and agility. Scouts at the Senior Bowl compared his physical skills to that of longtime ballhawk Asante Samuel.
The best remaining player entering Friday according to NFLDraftScout.com, Glenn had to wait another nine picks to celebrate with family, going No. 41 to Buffalo. The 345-pounder who ran a staggering 5.15-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine projects as a right tackle or potential guard.
Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, considered a first-round prospect by some scouts but lacking a real physical streak, went to Miami at No. 42.
The Jets then moved up five spots to snag Hill, who flashed a wide smile at the home crowd as he took the stage and led the fans in a chant of "J-E-T-S ... Jets! Jets! Jets!"
"I'm ready to give the Jets fans something to scream about," he said.
Once Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still was selected by Cincinnati at No. 53, Randle was the only player left in the green room. He tumbled all the way to the final pick of the second round while watching wide receivers Alshon Jeffrey (No. 45, Chicago) and Ryan Broyles (54 Detroit) go ahead of him.
On the positive side, Randle wound up with the world champion Giants, who also added Virginia Tech running back David Wilson with the final pick of the first round. The Giants lost Mario Manningham in free agency, so Randle steps into a situation where he'll have an opportunity to compete for significant snaps immediately.
LSU coach Les Miles stayed with Randle through the entire two rounds it took to hear his name called.
"I just stay humble. I knew my opportunity was going to come," Randle said. "I'm not really going to stress about the situation. It's about what you do after you're drafted. I'm going to go out and work hard for these guys.
The Giants believe they scored a steal in part due to the inconsistent quarterback play Randle had to endure at LSU.
"The way LSU plays, they run the ball, they play defense and those two quarterbacks, to be quite honest, are not very good," Giants director of college scouting Mark Ross said. "So he didn't get a lot of chances. When the ball came to him he was productive, but he just didn't get a ton of chances to win games, to catch, but when they went his way he made plays."
For Still, it was the end of a nerve-wracking process for a prospect who was rated as a potential top 10 pick by many scouting services before the combine.
"It was exciting but it was also hard," he said. "But it is a great opportunity and I'm trying to take this opportunity head on."
Other second-round picks of note included Denver grabbing 6-7 Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler at No. 57 to groom behind Peyton Manning. Osweiler has just 15 career starts after making the switch from basketball, but is athletic and has a big arm that the Broncos can take a year or two to develop.
"I could not be any more excited to be going to Denver to learn from Peyton Manning," he said. "A lot of quarterbacks might be upset about having to sit behind somebody, whereas I look at it as a tremendous opportunity to learn from one of the best, if not the best, quarterback to ever play the game."
The 49ers made a splash with Oregon running back LaMichael James at No. 61. The undersized but versatile big-play threat let the nation with 150.42 rushing yards per game last season. He can also make an impact in the return game.
James enters a stacked backfield that includes Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon.
"Yeah, actually I know who Kendall Hunter is. He's from East Texas too, so I know exactly who he is," James said. "But I like Brandon Jacobs. He's a good running back and so is Frank Gore. I look up to him. I think he's an awesome running back. I think he's one of the best running backs in the league. So, if I have to sit behind him and learn, it's just a good opportunity for me to get better."