If Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft was surprisingly predictable, then the best way to describe Day 2 is "surprisingly ... boring." After a first round with 18 offensive players, including 13 skill players selections, Friday saw just eight skill players taken in the second round and 11 in the third.
And three of those 19 players were backup quarterbacks taken after pick 60. Four more were tight ends who went after pick 55, two of whom were praised first and foremost for their blocking abilities in their CBS Sports draft grades. So yeah, that's not what we were hoping to see from a Fantasy perspective.
Oh, but things get worse from there! Only two running backs were drafted Friday, one to the Broncos and one to the 49ers -- i.e., two teams with entrenched starters. And, of the 10 wide receivers drafted, you could probably only realistically expect maybe half of them to be in their team's top three in the receiving hierarchy.
It was a weird night, to say the least, but it's always important to remember that we have no real way of knowing how much any of these players are going to end up playing right now. Our initial reaction might be negative, but you always want to be careful not to let your first opinion calcify. Plus, while maybe the rookies didn't land in particularly exciting situations, there are plenty of established players who are breathing a sigh of relief that their jobs are more secure today than they thought they might be.
We've written plenty about the prospects taken through the first few rounds, and I put together some longer thoughts on all of the second-round wide receivers to see who has the best chance of being the next D.K. Metcalf or A.J. Brown -- although, in all honesty, there's not necessarily an obvious choice, and you can listen to Saturday's post-draft Fantasy Football Today podcast here for Heath Cummings and Dave Richard's take on the question, too.
You can read about many of the other prospects below before you get to my biggest winners and losers from Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
I'll be back Sunday to wrap up the draft and try to provide some bigger picture observations, and you can follow along with the third day of the draft as the Fantasy Football Today Watch Party continues at noon at YouTube.com/FantasyFootballToday. Then the whole Fantasy Football Today team will be providing our updated rankings for every position next week, beginning with new QB rankings Monday. If you've got any questions about how this rookie class will shake out, how to approach your rookie draft, or anything else, send them to Chris.Towers@CBSInteractive.com, because I'll definitely be looking out for them this week.
- QB: | | | |
- RB: Williams to DEN | |
- WR: R.Moore to ARI | E.Moore to NYJ | Marshall to CAR | Collins to HOU | | | | |
- TE: Freiermuth to PIT |
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James Robinson had his Fantasy value crushed in Round 1, and Davis and Gaskin were the next two on the chopping block. Allegedly. Turns out, maybe the Falcons and Dolphins don't see the same need the rest of us do, as they made it through the first three rounds without touching the position. In fact, the Falcons traded the pick that the Broncos used to make Javonte Williams the third back taken.
Both teams will likely snag someone in the fourth or fifth round to fill out their RB room, but you shouldn't be too worried about any competition brought in that late -- only five running backs over the last decade have had more than 200 rush attempts as a rookie after being drafted in the fourth round or later and only four in the last five years have even had 150 carries. The chances of anyone drafted that late making a significant contribution as a rookie are exceedingly slim -- those numbers come from a pool of 163 running backs over the last decade.
At the very least, Gaskin and Davis will almost certainly get the first crack at the starting job, and both could be very valuable Fantasy options with three-down skills. How's that for dodging a bullet?
The dirty secret of the first couple of seasons of Murray's career is that he really hasn't been a very good passer. Even the apparent leap he made in 2020 before a shoulder injury knocked him off the pace was largely built around a ton of short throws with receivers making plays with the ball in their hands. That fits in with Kliff Kingsbury's offensive philosophy, and Rondale Moore should be an excellent fit for that philosophy too, as 71% of his yards at Purdue came after the catch.
Moore is short, but he's well built -- he threw up 24 reps on the bench press -- and he could be exactly the kind of No. 2 the Cardinals need with DeAndre Hopkins. Moore seems like the kind of player who could have a very good start in a limited role and become a Fantasy mainstay by the end of the season.
I can't say I'm optimistic about the chances of Darnold having a great season, to be clear. He's been arguably the worst quarterback in the league since his debut, and while there have been flashes and extenuating circumstances throughout, he still just hasn't played well on his own merits.
But the Panthers are doing their best to ensure there won't be any extenuating circumstances this season. They beefed up the offensive line in free agency, and then after losing Curtis Samuel, they picked Terrace Marshall from LSU in the second round in what could turn out to be a steal. Will it be enough for Darnold to take the leap they need him to? And, furthermore, can he be good enough to elevate the very talented receiver group featuring D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Marshall, along with Christian McCaffrey at RB? Teddy Bridgewater was just good enough last season, and the Panthers are betting Darnold can be more than that in the right situation. This sure looks like it should be the right situation. Now it's up to Sam to take advantage.
People who like drafting rookies
At this point, I think there are probably 10 rookies who will be worth drafting in most 12-team leagues this fall: Ja'Marr Chase, Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, DeVonta Smith, Javonte Williams, Terrace Marshall, Jaylen Waddle, Rondale Moore, Trevor Lawrence, and Elijah Moore, in that order. (Edit: Make that 11, with of course Kyle Pitts at tight end). And I don't expect that to change much Saturday. And Chase and Harris are the only ones I would draft with the expectation that I can rely on them to be consistent contributors starting in Week 1.
There's plenty of upside here, but I don't exactly love the landing spots for a lot of these guys -- Etienne sounds like he'll be a role player to start, Smith is in a low-volume pass offense that uses their tight ends a ton, Marshall is playing with Darnold, etc. This could turn out to be a productive rookie class, and surely someone unexpected will emerge as a difference maker, as happens every year. But if these rookies start to get pushed up draft boards, I may be passing.
Green Bay's chances of keeping Aaron Rodgers happy
We're not exactly sure what is fueling Rodgers' unhappiness with Green Bay. The decision to draft Jordan Love last year seems like it's part of it. Reportedly contentious contract talks are obviously playing a role. Or maybe now that he's gotten a taste of that sweet, sweet JEOPARDY!-hosting life, he knows what else is out there. But you have to imagine the lack of investment in pieces around him hasn't helped the relationship.
The Packers did select Amari Rodgers in the third round, and he has the skills to be a solid playmaker with the ball in his hands, possibly giving them that reliable second option they've been missing. Of course, an 85th pick doesn't typically move the needle much, and it wouldn't be a surprise if Rodgers (the wide receiver) doesn't make much of an impact. At this point, it seems like a long shot that the Packers will actually move the reigning MVP, but I'm not sure the first three rounds have done much to make him feel better, either.
I don't know if the selection of Javonte Williams -- a pick the Broncos traded up to make -- necessarily means Gordon won't be the starter in 2021. But it sure narrows his margin for error. With the departure of Phillip Lindsay in free agency, the Broncos seemed like a natural fit to take a running back in the draft, but I was hoping it would be more like a complementary guy.
Williams might just be The Guy. He definitely should be come 2022, because Gordon is an impending free agent, but it very well may happen in 2021 at some point, too. Gordon was shaping up to be one of my favorite values at the running back position since you could often get him in the third or fourth round in early mock drafts, and he might still be a value if this knocks him to the sixth round range. However, his floor just got a lot lower, and his ceiling did too.
The Steelers added a versatile three-down back in the first round and the top tight end in the class with their first two picks, and honestly, I don't feel much better about their offense right now. This team has serious offensive line issues, and while they did draft their likely starting center in the third round, it remains a significant question mark.
Whether they leaned so heavily on the short passing game because of the offensive lines issues last season or Roethlisberger's own limitations, I'm not super optimistic about the chances of getting a vintage Big Ben season. If anything, the addition of Najee Harris might make it more likely they throw less. Roethlisberger has great weapons around him, but I don't know if he's up to the challenge anymore. And I don't know if the scheme will elevate.
Crowder was a focal point of the Jets passing game over the last couple of years, and if it wasn't for injuries, he likely would have had a career-best 2020. However, there have been rumblings about him possibly being released for months, and the selection of Elijah Moore makes that seem even more likely. It doesn't guarantee it, but even if Crowder is still on the roster come Week 1, Moore seems likely to cut into his role as the primary slot option.
Crowder's best hope might actually be to get released, and I wouldn't have much interest in him outside of the very last rounds if he stays with the Jets.