2017 NFL Draft Day 2 Winners and Losers: Rivers gets help, Eli gets a replacement
The Vikings' Latavius Murray and Bengals' Jeremy Hill also get put on notice with Cook, Mixon picks
We're three rounds into the 2017 NFL Draft and, quite frankly, it's hard to find a team whose draft has gone completely off the rails. That's a testament to the depth in this draft. The third round rolled into the compensatory portion and there were some highly productive players coming off the board. There also weren't a lot of just-awful picks this year. The depth is pretty impressive.
But as always, some franchises stand out for doing well and some stand out for doing poorly. There are also the players currently on rosters who saw their lives negatively impacted by the circumstances that unfolded during the second and third rounds.
Now it time to sort the winners from the losers.
If you have some picks you like or some picks you hate, leave them in the comments or hit me on Twitter @WillBrinson.
The aging Chargers quarterback, headed to Los Angeles and still looking for his first Super Bowl title, got handed a very nice present from general manager Tom Telesco on the second day of the draft. Rivers found himself frequently pressured during the 2016 season, getting sacked 36 times (tied for ninth in the league) and ranking fifth in Pro Football Focus' Pressure Percentage metric among all quarterbacks. The Chargers stole Russell Okung in free agency but certainly weren't done, grabbing a pair of linemen in the second round Friday. Forrest Lamp might have been the best offensive lineman in the draft and the Chargers got him at 38th overall. He can play all over the line and should improve the Bolts' pass protection and rushing attack. At 71st overall, Dan Feeney out of Indiana could make an impact right away, considering how badly the Chargers needed upgrades at guard. We're not factoring it here, but don't sleep on the Chargers adding Mike Williams on Thursday either. Even if you don't love that particular pick, it's clear the Chargers are pushing to help Rivers.
You could argue that Newton was a winner during the first round, what with the Panthers going out and getting Christian McCaffery, whose hands GM Dave Gettleman described as "suction cups." Gettleman was not done helping out his franchise quarterback on the second day, either, using the Panthers' first second-round pick (No. 40 overall) to grab Ohio State RB/WR hybrid Curtis Samuel, whose nickname is the "Brooklyn Blur." Then the Panthers dipped back in and snagged Taylor Moton, a beefy lineman who could very well end up starting at right tackle. The Panthers also added Daeshon Hall from Texas A&M -- the Aggies' "other" DE -- to give them a younger edge rusher to add into an older rotation. But it was Newton who really made out like a bandit. He should be thrilled.
Taken late in the third round, with a comp pick at No. 105, there might not be a more inspirational story in the draft than the former Pittsburgh Panthers running back who overcame not just a torn ACL but a cancer diagnosis to get drafted in the NFL. The best part? Conner isn't going far, with the Pittsburgh Steelers taking him. What a story he is, having been born in Erie, Pennsylvania, playing at Pittsburgh, being a 2014 first-team All-ACC player, tearing his ACL and, again, beating cancer in 2015 before making first-team All-ACC again in 2016. Now he'll stay in Pittsburgh and potentially become a dominant player for the Steelers. Don't sleep on him becoming a better-than-you-expected pro player.
Ted Thompson didn't draft until the second day, but he drafted well when he got there. The Packers traded down several times and did a lot of good with their three Friday picks to improve a defense that was consistently gashed last year. Kevin King with the first pick in the second round was a fantastic pick (and netted for the effort). Josh Jones at No. 61 gives them a punishing safety in the back end. Montravius Adams scored and gives the Packers another body on the front seven. This was a very nice second day.
After spending an offseason watching their defense hemorrhage players and leaving many people wondering if the Dallas D could keep up its end of the bargain, the draft has been a firm answer for the Cowboys. The second round was particularly impressive for Dallas in beefing up a secondary that badly needs talent. The Cowboys stole Chidobe Awuze with the 60th overall pick, and could see him on the field very early.The do-it-all Colorado DB was the fourth-ranked cornerback according to NFLDraftScout, and was projected as a first-round pick by a lot of people. The Cowboys got him without trading up. Jourdan Lewis is facing criminal charges but claimed Friday he believes those will be dropped.
If he's cleared, the Cowboys will have come away with a pair of high-value cornerbacks on the second day of the draft to pair with Taco Charlton, their first-round pick. Dallas hasn't moved around much but the board has come to them and it has worked out well.
The Giants did Eli Manning a favor on the first night by grabbing him another weapon, but they didn't really help him out on Day 2. Instead of dipping into a deep offensive line pool, New York drafted Dalvin Tomlinson, an Alabama defensive tackle, with the 55th pick and Davis Webb, the California quarterback, with the 87th pick. Tomlinson is a very nice add at that spot and the pick earned an A from Pete Prisco. But offensive linemen like Dion Dawkins and Taylor Moton were still on the board. Manning needs some help in protection and the Giants haven't gotten it for him this offseason, much less in this draft. Webb earned a B from Prisco and, again, isn't helping Eli Manning, who has never missed a game since he took over as the starter midway through his rookie season. The Giants owe it to the franchise to start planning for life after Manning (he's 36 years old) but adding a backup quarterback doesn't protect Manning or do anything to help him win now.
Latavius Murray: The Vikings' starting running back should probably be concerned for that starting job after Minnesota traded up to use a second-round pick on Florida State star Dalvin Cook, who fell a long way into the second round after being a projected top-15 pick for much of the offseason. During the broadcast, Cook was referenced as a guy with major red flags. Regardless, he's headed to the Vikings now. Cook is a very special football talent and the Vikings just invested in their offensive line. Cook is, unquestionably, better than Murray as a running back and could ultimately be the starter here when the season starts. It might be a surprise if he isn't.
Another running back who everyone assumed would be starting is now in a very crowded backfield. Hill has always had Giovani Bernard running with him, but those two are totally different backs. Cincy never believed Bernard could shoulder the load as a full-time back, even when the coaching staff just preferred to keep giving Hill 2.9 yards per carry. Drafting Joe Mixon changes that. Take out the horrible nature of Mixon's behavior off the field in an incident several years ago, if only for the sake of talking about the Bengals depth chart. Don't ignore what he did, but the Bengals are going to play him regardless after investing a high pick. That's not good news for Hill, who was largely lethargic during the 2016 season, save for a couple huge games against the Browns.
The Rams did their young quarterback a favor and picked up some weapons in this draft, but there are certainly questions about how the assemblage is occurring. Los Angeles spent a whopping four picks in 2016 -- Tyler Higbee, Pharoh Cooper, Temarrick Hemingway and Mike Thomas -- on either tight ends or wide receivers. They weren't early picks, because the Rams spent all their early picks on Goff. But they were still investments. So what does it say about their picks that they immediately came back and spent more picks on tight ends and wideouts? When you add Gerald Everett (South Alabama), what does it say about Higbee? Cooper Kupp is an exciting player, but is he going to be good with Tavon Austin and Robert Woods? That's an odd group of wideouts. The Rams also added Josh Johnson out of Boston College.
This is the No. 45 overall player on the NFLDraftScout big board in a league where pass rushing is at an absolute premium. We saw a lot of guys expected to go in the first round off the board right where they should have been, with Charles Harris, Takkarist McKinley, T.J. Watt and Charlton coming off in the mid-to-late first round. Lawson was a part of that group and he's heading into the fourth round without hearing his name called. It's a very odd drop and there is a good chance we'll hear a surprising reason for why it might have happened sooner than later.
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