NFL draft day 2 steals and reaches: Which teams hit mark, which missed?
Compared to what everyone was led to believe in the days prior to it, Round 1 was a relatively tame experience. Round 2 quickly ratcheted up the excitement, as the Titans traded down from the 33rd pick to kick off an energetic evening.
Which of the 67 picks made on Friday night hit the mark? Which misfired? Here are the Day Two steals and reaches:
Landon Collins, S, Giants (No. 33): Sure, this was the opening pick on Day 2, and New York had to trade up to make it. But Collins was arguably the top player at his position this year—many had him ahead of Round 1 selection Damarious Randall—and there was a significant safety drop-off behind him.
This also was not merely a best-player-available move by the Giants. They had a noticeable void at safety, so Collins slots in as an immediate starter.
Jordan Phillips, DT, Dolphins (No. 52): Phillips is raw (17 college starts) and required back surgery in 2013. It's hard to find much else to dislike on his scouting report, especially in the middle of Round 2. Was this too much of a luxury pick for the Dolphins? Perhaps. They are, after all, rather loaded along the defensive line. On the other hand, the 330-pound Phillips provides bulk they did not have before. He could have been a Round 1 choice and no one would have blinked.
Jake Fisher, OT, Bengals (No. 53): A little connecting of the dots between Round 1's end and Round 2's beginning seemed to point toward the tackle-needy Titans nabbing Fisher. They didn't, even after sliding back from 33 to 40 in a trade. Instead, it was the Bengals, who interestingly enough also took OT Cedric Ogbuehi in Round 1. Fisher was a tremendous value. Now, is there anywhere to play him?
Maxx Williams, TE, Ravens (No. 55): Much like Collins at safety, Williams was almost unanimously considered the best available prospect at tight end—another prospect group lacking star power. He slid into the back half of Round 2 nonetheless, having been passed over twice by several teams who could have used his pass-catching abilities. Their loss will be Baltimore's gain, and thanks to a trade up, the Ravens might have swiped Williams out from under Pittsburgh's nose.
Randy Gregory, DE, Cowboys (No. 60): "The franchise that drafts me won't have to worry about me off the field," Gregory told Yahoo's Rand Getlin on Friday morning, "but the teams that didn't select me will have to worry about me on the field."
Where this story goes from here relies largely on Gregory. He was, hands down, a high Round 1 talent in this draft class, only to be sabotaged by his own off-field transgressions (two failed drug tests at Nebraska, another at the combine). Dallas signed Greg Hardy earlier this offseason, so we already knew Jerry Jones and co. were not opposed to taking a leap. This one could pay off in monstrous fashion. Gregory has All-Pro potential as a pass-rusher.
A.J. Cann, G, Jaguars (No. 67): Nothing overly flashy or exciting, just a solid pick at good value. Laken Tomlinson may be the best 2015 guard, but the gap between him and Cann is not as cavernous as their respective draft spots would indicate (Tomlinson was taken No. 28 by Detroit). A four-year starter in college, Cann should push from the get-go.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks (No. 69)/Jaelen Strong, WR, Texans (No. 70): Back-to-back nice finds at receiver. Lockett is a deadly route-runner and dangerous return man who should find the sailing rather smooth in Seattle's offense. He brings a little of Golden Tate's reliability and a little bit of Percy Harvin's versatile athleticism (without all the Percy Harvin-related issues).
Meanwhile, Strong was thought to be a possible Round 1 option once the big three WRs (Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker) were selected. Together with DeAndre Hopkins in Houston, Strong should outproduce this draft spot.
Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, Giants (No. 74): The best draft picks occur when a team's need matches up with value on the board. That's what happened here for New York in landing the run-stuffing Odighizuwa. He'll need some time to find a consistent pass-rushing approach, but the Giants still have Jason Pierre-Paul, Robert Ayers and others to handle the heavy lifting there.
P.J. Williams, CB, Saints (No. 78): A DUI charge (later dropped) delivered a blow to Williams's draft hopes, mere days before the league descended on Chicago. Had that situation never occurred, Williams might have had a shot at Round 1; he certainly would have been taken before we were 77 picks deep. Plan on seeing him playing a high number of snaps as a rookie.
Paul Dawson, LB, Bengals (No. 99): Bit of an oddity with this comp-pick selection—the Bengals were awarded it for losing Michael Johnson in free agency last offseason, only to re-sign Johnson (but keep the pick) once he was cut by Tampa Bay. Playing with house money, Cincinnati scored a gem to close out Round 3. Dawson posted subpar marks at the combine, but he's a pure playmaker from the linebacker spot.
That Tartt was the third safety off the board (depending on how Jalen Collins is classified) was not that shocking. It was unexpected to see it happen this early, and by a team that does not have an obvious need at safety. Making it even more intriguing moving forward: Philadelphia traded up to select CB/S Eric Rowe one pick after Tartt heard his name called. If Rowe pans out as Tartt scuffles for playing time, San Francisco could be second-guessing this one.
Mitch Morse, OL, Chiefs (No. 49): Because of the relative lack of depth among interior O-linemen in this class, Morse felt ticketed for a Round 3 or 4 slot. Not sure anyone had him pegged as a top-50 guy. The Chiefs also seem set on moving him to center, not guard, where many thought he'd end up, or tackle, where he spent most of his time at Missouri.
Frank Clark, DE/OLB, Seahawks (No. 63): A surprising pick not because Clark is devoid of talent, by any means—he's a long, aggressive edge rusher who shows a knack for getting into the backfield. Rather, the reason Clark was expected to linger into Day 3 stemmed from an ugly domestic-violence incident. Clark was kicked off the Michigan team because of it, then held a bizarre, rather uncomfortable media session discussing the occurrence at the combine. Given the NFL's efforts to crack down on domestic incidents after the Ray Rice fiasco, Clark's status was very much in limbo. Or, at least, it would have been had Seattle not pounced.
Jordan Richards, S, Patriots (No. 64): Like a team captain on Family Feud ignoring all his teammates suggestions while trying to steal the board, Bill Belichick cares not for the general consensus. Time and again, he's gone off the beaten path during the draft to take a player several rounds above his perceived value. Richards got the nod this year, at the end of Round 2. He was a solid player for Stanford, yet little more than a late Day 3 prospect by most accounts.
Sean Mannion, QB, Rams (No. 89): The Rams reached for Mannion at 89. The Ravens stole DT Carl Davis one pick later, at No. 90. St. Louis did not need Davis, per se, but the draft approaches contrasted in noticeable fashion for two teams at opposite ends of the NFL spectrum—Baltimore, a perennial contender with a recent title; St. Louis, seemingly stuck in the chase for .500.
Not everyone is down on Mannion. The MMQB's Greg Bedard, for example, tweeted that he was "a Mannion guy. Think he's better than most have given him credit for." While that may prove true, little aside from size (Mannion is 6-6) justifies a Round 3 selection. The Oregon State product put up huge numbers in college, but his lumbering motion is bound to be problematic. The Rams already have a quarterback who needs to pick up the pace of his game, in new starter Nick Foles.