Bears, Patriots take puzzling paths on Day 2


The second day of the NFL draft doesn’t carry the same pomp and circumstance as the first does, but its importance is readily evident.

While top picks can prove to be franchise cornerstones, drafting well in the second and third rounds can be an essential step for establishing a contender. And with the strength of this year’s group resting in its depth rather than its marquee talent, Friday’s picks could go a long way toward determining the fate of several franchises. And while the full fallout won’t be apparent for some time, there were some figures that immediately stood out.

Here’s our full breakdown of the winners and losers of Day 2 in the NFL draft:

NFL draft Day 2 winners

Baltimore Ravens

General manager Eric DeCosta is putting on a masterclass in how to keep a roster stocked with top talent. After a fine Day 1 haul brought in safety stud Kyle Hamilton and stalwart center Tyler Linderbaum, Baltimore continued to navigate the order deftly by nabbing David Ojabo, the promising Michigan pass rusher whose first-round hopes were dashed after a torn Achilles suffered at his pro day. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder will be staying in the Harbaugh coaching family as he jumps from the Wolverines to Ravens, and he should help Baltimore become significantly more disruptive as soon as he’s fully healed. Adding UConn nose tackle Travis Jones, who earned some late first-round buzz thanks to his overwhelming strength, is another nice touch for a defense that was due for a stronger punch up front.

Kansas City Chiefs

Through the first two days, perhaps no other team did a better job of filling its most significant needs while keeping an eye toward overall value. General manager Brett Veach and coach Andy Reid got off to a strong start, netting cornerback Trent McDuffie and pass rusher George Karlavtis on Thursday. But scooping up Western Michigan wide receiver Skyy Moore in the second round felt like the real coup, as the fleet-footed target will equip Patrick Mahomes with another major playmaking asset in the post-Tyreek Hill landscape. Cincinnati safety Bryan Cook and Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal were promising additions in the third. Repeating as AFC champs for a seventh consecutive West crown will be difficult given the heightened competition within the division, but the Chiefs should be more than satisfied with how they’ve restocked their roster.

Matt Ryan

After acquiring the veteran quarterback in a trade earlier this offseason, Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard returned to his restrained ways, opting not to spend big on some key problem points with the offense. Ballard instead addressed those spots nicely Friday, bringing on a deep-threat wide receiver (Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce, second round), matchup nightmare tight end (Virginia’s Jelani Woods) and potential starter at left tackle (Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann, third round). With leading target Michael Pittman Jr. (6-4) joining Pierce (6-3) and Woods (6-7), Ryan now has a supersized crew of pass catchers to whom he can lob the ball. Not bad for a signal-caller who, just a few months ago before his break with the Atlanta Falcons, was saddled with arguably the league’s worst receiving corps.

Houston Texas

Bravo, Nick Caserio. Elevating one of the league’s most talent-starved rosters will require more efforts like this, which represents a good start. Second-round Baylor safety Jalen Piter adds another serious dose of playmaking flair to the secondary on top of Thursday’s selection of cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. with the No. 3 overall pick. The Texans then looked at Alabama twice, landing solid contributors in wide receiver John Metchie III later in the second round and linebacker Christian Harris in the third.

Rookie wide receivers

The mad dash for pass catchers began Thursday, but it didn’t end there. Day 2 featured seven receivers hearing their names called in the second round and four more in the third. And there are still some starting-caliber options available on Day 3.

Drew Lock

The Seattle Seahawks were seen as a prime candidate to roll the dice on a quarterback in the second round, and many assumed they would use either the No. 40 or 41 picks on a passer. Instead, they went with Minnesota pass rusher Boye Mafe and running back Kenneth Walker III. Barring another move, it looks like Lock will get his chance to show what he can do after arriving from the Denver Broncos in the Russell Wilson trade.

Christian Watson

As far as rookie openings go, there aren’t too many better opportunities to contribute early than stepping into the Green Bay Packers’ passing game after Davante Adams was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders and Marquez Valdes-Scantling left for the Chiefs. The 6-4, 208-pound North Dakota State product will have plenty of chances to use his deep speed (4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash) on long bombs from Aaron Rodgers. Beats stepping into a rebuilding effort.

James Cook

Neat setup here, as the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook will get to square off against his sibling this season after being selected in the second round by the Buffalo Bills. But the better news for the younger Cook might be in the team fit. The Bills already seem keen to utilize Cook’s talents beyond merely as a ball carrier, as general manager Brandon Beane said Friday night that Buffalo viewed the big-play threat almost like a wide receiver. Beane also likened Cook to JD McKissic, the dynamic running back the Bills missed out on in free agency. Keep an eye on the Georgia product as one who could make waves with big gains as a rookie.

Les Snead

The “(expletive) them picks” mentality looks pretty attractive when it produces a Super Bowl and an NFL draft wait that involves hanging out in the Hollywood Hills until pick No. 104. With the penultimate selection of the third round, the Los Angeles Rams general manager grabbed Wisconsin offensive guard Logan Bruss. Regardless of the selection’s value, if this setup allows for more instances of Snead and McVay reacting to surprising picks in real time as they did Thursday, others should be all for it.

2022 NFL DRAFT PICKS: Team-by-team look at all 262 selections

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NFL draft Day 2 losers

Rookie quarterbacks

Friday served as a pretty unkind referendum on this year’s crop of passers, with no signal-callers taken in the second round on the heels of Kenny Pickett being the lone first-round choice at the position. It marked only the third time in the last 30 years that one quarterback had been selected in the first two rounds, as well as the latest into a draft since 1996 before two players at the position had been selected. Typically, passers will be pushed up boards even when sporting some serious flaws. That the 2022 group didn’t enjoy that same draft stock inflation highlights that these passers have a long way to go before making any contributions in the pros.

Nakobe Dean

Outside of the quarterbacks, the Butkus Award winner’s plummet was arguably the most baffling development of Day 2. Yes, the 5-11, 229-pounder is oddly built for a non-premium position. But proven playmakers and touted leaders don’t tend to last all the way to the No. 83 overall pick, where the Philadelphia Eagles ended his slide in the third round. Multiple reports said lingering injuries were partially responsible for Dean’s tumble, though both he and general manager Howie Roseman denied that there was any issue. Playing once more behind former Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis is a nice touch, but Dean will need again to demonstrate the blitzing prowess and coverage ability that made him such an important piece of the Bulldogs’ title-winning defense.

Justin Fields

As one of eight teams without a first-round pick after trading up for Fields last year, the Chicago Bears were in a precarious position for upgrading the second-year quarterback’s supporting cast. Even when time came for the team’s two second-round choices, however, Chicago instead looked to upgrade its secondary with Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon and Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker. The Bears brought on a third-round receiver in Tennessee’s Velus Jones, but the 6-0, 204-pound target doesn’t add a different dimension to a pass-catching crew that offers little beyond Darnell Mooney.

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Gillette Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Bill Belichick

A day after he raised eyebrows by making Tennessee-Chattanooga guard Cole Strange an unlikely first-round pick, Belichick once again puzzled many with his first choice on Friday. For all his deft drafting over the years, the New England Patriots coach has a messy record in the second round and at wide receiver. Those two trends collided when he selected Baylor’s Tyquan Thornton, an all-or-nothing speedster who could be neutralized by more physical NFL cornerbacks. He stayed true to form by adding a dynamic and versatile cornerback in Houston’s Marcus Jones, but the third-round selection might not be enough to compensate for the loss of JC Jackson in free agency. At least he fleeced the next team on the list.

Carolina Panthers

Desperate to add an alternative to Sam Darnold in the draft after opting for left tackle Ikem Ekwonu with the No. 6 pick, the Panthers moved up into the third round to grab Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, giving the Patriots a fourth-round pick and a 2023 third-round selection. Given the state of the Panthers, that second asset is likely to be a much higher choice than the No. 94 slot Carolina used on Corral. And while the Panthers now at least have a Plan B behind center, it’s not one that Matt Rhule and Co. can really depend on in any meaningful way given Corral’s lack of experience reading full fields.

Baker Mayfield

With the Panthers having made their move for a quarterback, the possible landing spots are drying up for the disgruntled former No. 1 pick for the Cleveland Browns. Maybe the Seahawks or another team that passed on this year’s group of quarterbacks will emerge, but Friday seemed like the prime window for Mayfield to be moved.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2022 NFL draft winners, losers: Patriots, Bears puzzle on Day 2





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