The Pittsburgh Steelers get to dictate the direction of the second round, and many believe they'll wind up dealing the No. 32 overall pick by this evening.
The thought is that one or more of those teams is interested in Kentucky quarterback Will Levis.
I texted with several sources for the top players who should come screaming off the board once the second round begins. Look for the aforementioned Levis going early along with BJ Ojulari, Joey Porter Jr., Brian Branch, Jalin Hyatt, Hendon Hooker and Joe Tippmann. I also won't be surprised to see Derick Hall go quickly tonight.
Will Levis drop not shocking
The Will Levis fall was both surprising and unsurprising. Many around the league believed the Colts would scoop up Levis with the No. 4 overall pick (and I myself was fairly convinced of it, too.)
But the question always was, if Indy doesn't take him, who will? That's what one GM asked me rhetorically Thursday leading into the draft. And so it wasn't shocking that he left the green room without an employer.
ESPN reported Thursday night there were concerns over the health of his toe. That has played somewhat of a factor. But teams have been concerned about his drop in production last season (explained away by a poor supporting cast and new offensive coordinator) and his personality. One quarterbacks coach described him as "jittery." Two GMs pointed to how anxious he gets in the pocket. Another said there was a disconnect in the interview.
None of this is to say Levis is bad person or even has character issues. But the same sort of leadership traits that helped 5-foot-10 Bryce Young become the unquestioned No. 1 overall pick appear to be lacking from the Kentucky QB, at least in the eyes of many NFL teams.
Lions moves head-scratching
The biggest surprises of the first night of the draft dealt with positional value. Sources I spoke with around the league were blown away by two running backs going in the top 12. There was less surprise that the Falcons took Bijan Robinson at No. 8 and more that the Lions — having lost their top guy Devon Witherspoon a pick before them at No. 5 — traded back to get the second running back in the draft class at No. 12.
Of course, the Lions feel they got a premium player at an important position for what they want to do on offense. And Jamhyr Gibbs' pass-catching abilities will be crucial as they navigate the first six games of the season without Jameson Williams due to his suspension for violating the league's gambling policy.
Jaguars get picks ... and their man
The Seahawks and Eagles emerged as big winners on Thursday night with their drafts, but I also really liked what Jacksonville GM Trent Baalke did. Slotted at No. 24, he traded down one spot with the Giants as New York feared Deonte Banks may be selected by another team on the phone with Jacksonville.
Then he traded down two spots with the Bills so they could hop up and get Dalton Kincaid. By going from No. 24 to 27, the Jags picked up selections in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds. The Jags felt confident the teams with whom they were trading wouldn't take an offensive tackle — there were tackle-thirsty teams that were calling, by the way — and collected picks before getting OT Anton Harrison.
Wheeling and dealing
- Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort threw a bucket of cold water on the idea they could deal wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins during the draft. But there are other veterans who could be dealt around the league Friday or Saturday. Keep an eye on what Minnesota may do with outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith. He still has two more years on his deal and is set to count $15.49 million against the cap this season. There are some rumblings the Vikings could move him.
- Plenty around the league are watching what the Lions may do with RB DeAndre Swift after selecting Gibbs at No. 12. Same goes for the Jets and Carl Lawson after taking Will McDonald.
- For all the talk of them always moving down, a team I could see moving up Friday is New England. The Patriots pick at No. 46 and 76 but they have four fourth-rounders to help them move up if and when they'd like.
- As far as trading down in the second, watch out for Carolina (No. 39), New Orleans (No. 40) and the Jets (No. 43).