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NFL draft grades 2017: Day 2 shows off the strengths of the draft

Trades dominated the first part of round two while teams targeted defensive backs

NFL: 2017 NFL Draft James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

The second day of the 2017 NFL draft showed off the depth of this year’s selection process. Many of the players taken on Friday were considered first-round picks at some point.

The early part of the day was dominated by several trades and defensive backs. In fact, the second round featured 10 defensive backs and 25 players on defense in total.

Late in the day teams were taking players with specific traits they can develop. The value wasn’t always there, but there was potential. The letter grades for each team were decided on a number of factors: Relative value, need, system fit, risk, and potential.

Arizona Cardinals

2-36: Budda Baker, S, Washington

3-98: Chad Williams, WR, Grambling State

When Arizona moved up in the second round, many thought it would be for quarterbacks DeShone Kizer or Davis Webb. Maybe it should have been. The Cardinals might have taken a quarterback in the first round if there wasn’t a run, then they punted on the position and gave up multiple picks to get Baker. He’s obviously a good fit, and there’s a need after the Cardinals lost Tony Jefferson. He should play well there. But if the Cardinals want a developmental quarterback – and they do – they passed on some good ones.

Williams was a surprise choice in the third round. He was productive at Grambling thanks to his speed and ability to go up and get the ball. He needs to get better running routes, but he’ll learn from the master in Larry Fitzgerald.

Grade: B-

Atlanta Falcons

3-75: Duke Riley, LB, LSU

After Dan Feeney got picked a little bit before Atlanta’s third-round selection, the Falcons were put in a tough spot to fill the biggest need on the roster. Riley was a decent fall back. He replaced current Falcon Deion Jones at LSU and has a similar playing style. He’s just not as exciting of an athlete as Jones. He does, however, have good instincts and he can stay on the field for three downs. He’s not the best at getting off blocks and he doesn’t play with a ton of power, but he fits the system.

Grade: B-

Baltimore Ravens

2-47: Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston

3-74: Chris Wormley, DL, Michigan

3-78: Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama

The Ravens needed an edge rusher, and got one in the ultra-athletic Bowser. He had 8.5 sacks last season, and Houston, for some reason, didn’t rush him that much. Bowser has the speed to play tight ends and might just be scratching his potential.

Wormley in the third round is a really good system fit for the Ravens. He can play all over the line and gives the Ravens another player who can disrupt the pocket. That’s also the case for Williams, who is a pass-rush specialist. He doesn’t provide much else, but he could be an excellent sub-package addition. There were some wide receivers available at No. 76 who could offer a greater impact.

Grade: B

Buffalo Bills

2-37: Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina

2-63: Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple

The Bills needed to get a pass catcher in this draft, and they got one of the surest ones. Jones is production personified with 399 career receptions for 4,279 yards and 23 touchdowns. The fit is a natural one and the trade Buffalo made for it was necessary.

The Bills jumped back into the second round with speculation they could be after a quarterback. Instead they went with the big blocker in Dawkins. He played left tackle at Temple, but should slot into the right side for the Bills.

Grade: B+

Carolina Panthers

2-40: Curtis Samuel, WR/RB, Ohio State

2-64: Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan

3-77: Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M

The Panthers doubled up on all-around offensive threats by getting Samuel to go along with first-round pick Christian McCaffrey. Samuel is a speedy player who can work out of the slot and get deep. In that regard he fits the system. At some point, however, the Panthers need to get a pass rusher or two. The Panthers are going to be fun on offense, and they’ll have to be good since the defense is lacking in edge rushers.

Moton is a right tackle or guard for the Panthers. He started 52 games for Western Michigan and upgrades Carolina’s line. Hall was the smart pick at No. 77. He was a little hot and cold as a pass rusher, but he’s a good all-around player and replacement for Kony Ealy.

Grade: C+

Chicago Bears

2-45: Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland

After trading up to get Mitchell Trubisky in the first round, the Bears smartly traded back in the second round to get more picks. That factors into this grade, and will alter Chicago’s draft as a whole. Shaheen, the team’s second-round pick, is a nice pairing to go along with Trubisky. The small-school tight end is a big athlete with a ton of upside.

Grade: B

Cincinnati Bengals

2-48: Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma

2-73: Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State

Perhaps no team did more work on Mixon than the Bengals leading up to the draft. It’s easy to see why teams wouldn’t take Mixon, and a ton of teams didn’t have him on their draft board. But Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has never shied away from taking in players with issues. On the field, Mixon is impressive with his mixture of size and speed.

In the third round, Willis could go down as one of the bigger steals of the draft. He’s a stellar athlete and gives the Bengals the pass rusher they need. If Willis can be more consistent, he could be a double-digit sack player for Cincinnati.

Grade: B

Cleveland Browns

2-52: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

3-64: Larry Ogunjobi, DT, Charlotte

After skipping on quarterback in the first round, the Browns got their quarterback in Kizer. At 6’4 and 233 pounds, he’s a fit in the AFC North. The issue is that his accuracy is spotty and he seemed to rub Notre Dame coaches the wrong way. Cleveland needed to get a quarterback, but it shouldn’t stop the Browns from taking one in the first round in 2018.

Ogunjobi will be the three-technique defensive lineman the Browns need. Charlotte played him over the nose but he can shoot the gap fairly well. The issue on day two for the Browns is that they still haven’t found players in the secondary.

Grade: B-

Dallas Cowboys

2-60: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado

3-92: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan

I love the pick of Awuzie. He was easily the top cornerback available at No. 60 and can do a little of everything really well. The Cowboys need some toughness in their secondary and he provides it. He can blitz the edge, play the slot and will get physical at the line of scrimmage.

Lewis was a productive player at Michigan, but because of his off-field stuff, some teams didn’t have him on their draft boards. Lewis doesn’t have amazing athleticism or size, but his instincts are great for a cornerback and he can make plays. Dallas had to fix its secondary and took steps to do so.

Grade: B+

Denver Broncos

2-51: DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State

3-82: Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech

3-101: Brendan Langley, CB, Lamar

Denver obviously needed to add talent up front on defense, and Walker can do it. He’s a power end that fits the system nicely. He’s a player I had pegged as a third rounder, however.

The Broncos got a solid receiver in Henderson in the third round. He’s a speedy receiver who can play the slot or outside and help in the kick return game. He can take the top off defenses on vertical routes. He’s also a strong blocker for a receiver. Langley, a Georgia transfer, has solid ball skills and knows how to press. He’s more of a developmental selection. Is taking a fourth cornerback the right choice at 101?

Grade: C

Detroit Lions

2-53: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida

3-96: Kenny Golladay, WR, Northern Illinois

When Tabor ran poorly at the NFL Scouting Combine and his pro day, he dropped from a possible first-round pick to this range. He’s excellent as an off-man cornerback and should start straight away for the Lions.

Golladay was something of a surprise third-round pick. He’s a big receiver with some speed, but he needs to catch with his hands better and run crisper routes. Are the Lions going to take a player who can get after the quarterback at some point?

Grade: C

Green Bay Packers

2-33: Kevin King, CB, Washington

2-61: Josh Jones, S, North Carolina State

3-93: Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn

The Packers could have easily auctioned the 33rd pick off to the highest bidder, but they smartly stood on it and made a pick that combines need and value. King had 26 career passes defended at Washington and knows how to make a play. This was a pick the Packers needed to make.

Jones as a smart choice with the second pick in the second round. North Carolina State moved Jones all over the place and can line up at safety and cornerback. He fits the system. Green Bay continued its run on defense with Adams. He had some excellent games at Auburn and has good interior pass rush moves and quickness. If the Packers can get him to play hard every game, he can perform like a first-round pick.

Grade: A

Houston Texans

2-57: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

3-89: D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas

The obvious comparison for Cunningham is Benardrick McKinney, so you can understand the system fit. Cunningham can struggle to get off blocks, but he’s a good athlete and moves smoothly in space. The value is good.

Foreman is a nice backup for Lamar Miller. He’s a powerful running back who gets up to speed in a hurry. He’s not much of a pass catcher, and he’s sort of straight line as a back.

Grade: B

Indianapolis Colts

2-45: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

3-80: Tarell Basham, DE/OLB, Ohio

If the Colts wanted players who can create turnovers, they’ve done it with Wilson and Malik Hooker. Wilson had six career interceptions and excels when he can use his size and strength to press receivers at the line of scrimmage. This pick could have been a pass rusher, but their secondary is now fully transformed.

The choice of Basham in the third round was one of my favorite picks of the day. Indianapolis had to get a pass rusher this draft and got one who has a good burst and power. He might need to stand up for the Colts more than he’s used to.

Grade: B

Jacksonville Jaguars

2-34: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

3-68: Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois

If there was an offensive lineman worth a top-five pick, the Jaguars should have taken him. There wasn’t, but they got a player who some thought had top-five talent at one point in his college career. Robinson can be put anywhere on the line. He’s pro-ready as a run blocker and should get better as a pass blocker.

Some thought the Jaguars would have taken a pass rusher in the round, but they waited until the third to get one in Smoot.

Grade: B+

Kansas City Chiefs

2-59: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova

3-86: Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo

There is a ton of upside with Kpassagnon. He’s a massive athlete that will fit nicely on the Chiefs’ defensive line. But like the pick of Patrick Mahomes, you’re probably not taking him to get a lot of return in 2017. Kpassagnon needs to play with better balance and leverage, but he has the talent to get there.

To me, Hunt is the best pick the Chiefs have made yet. There’s no reason he can’t become the lead back in Kansas City and accumulate more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage as a rookie.

Grade: B-

Los Angeles Chargers

2-38: Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky

3-71: Dan Feeney, G, Indiana

The additions of Lamp and receiver Mike Williams should make Philip Rivers extremely happy. Lamp is one of the draft’s best players and a sure thing. He’ll work at guard or center for the Chargers and boost the team’s run and pass game. Smart pick.

I like Feeney as a player as well, but does taking a second interior blocker make sense instead of getting a defensive back? This will keep Rivers upright obviously, so it’s hard to hate the pick too much.

Grade: B

Los Angeles Rams

2-44: Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama

2-69: Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington

3-91: John Johnson, S, Boston College

With their first pick, it was obvious the Rams needed to get a pass catcher. They were able to trade back a bit, accumulate a pick they needed badly, and still got a pass catcher in Everett. He’s the modern tight end and can be their Jordan Reed. He is at his best in space and will help Jared Goff in the short passing game. The value didn’t quite match the need for me.

The pick of Kupp was a solid one after JuJu Smith-Schuster was off the board. Kupp catches pretty much everything thrown his way. He’s not a flashy player, but he’s another receiver who will hopefully accelerate Goff’s development. Johnson in the third round is a dependable player. He’s not an overly flashy player, but he’s solid in coverage and decent enough coming up against the run. He needs to get better as a tackler.

Grade: C+

Miami Dolphins

2-54: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

3-97: Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson

Many thought the Dolphins would take a middle linebacker in the first round when they picked pass rusher Charles Harris. Instead they waited and got a good player in McMillan. He’s a classic thumper linebacker who will help the team’s run defense.

Tankersley was a good, necessary pick in the third round. The Dolphins badly need talent at cornerback and got a player some thought would be picked in the second round. Tankersley has solid size, got better every year at Clemson, and has good play recognition (29 passes defended in the past two seasons).

Grade: B-

Minnesota Vikings

2-41: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

3-70: Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State

The Vikings needed to get a running back and they moved up to No. 41 and got the best one in this year’s draft. Cook is electric when he has the ball. I don’t care how he tested at the NFL Scouting Combine. On the field he’s a playmaker who runs with speed, shiftiness and enough power. With Cook it doesn’t matter if the offensive line is bad. He can make plays on his own.

Elflein is a great pick in the third round for Minnesota. He’s a smart blocker who played in 54 games who can work into the starting lineup as a rookie for the Vikings. He could be a Pro Bowl player in a hurry for Minnesota.

Grade: A+

New England Patriots

3-83: Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State

3-85: Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy

Of course the Patriots can sit back and let the draft come to them and ace their first pick. Rivers is a stellar pass rusher who plays with a high motor and can play standing up or with his hand in the dirt. New England needed a pass rusher and Rivers could push for a lot of snaps early in his career.

Garcia a couple picks later was a smart choice as well. He’s an athletic and experienced left tackle who could push to start at some point soon for New England.

Grade: A

New Orleans Saints

2-42: Marcus Williams, S, Utah

3-67: Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

3-76: Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida

3-103: Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic

Instead of getting a pass rusher in the second round – and there were a few available – New Orleans decided to continue a run on the secondary with Williams. The three-year starter at Utah is at his best in single-high coverage. Adding him with first-round pick Marshon Lattimore should tell you what the Saints think of their pass coverage.

There was some talk that Kamara could be a first-round pick, and the Saints basically used a second to get him by trading a pick from that round in 2018 to make the pick. Kamara is a nice player to pair with Mark Ingram. He’s got good speed, can be put in the slot and can do some things on special teams.

Anzalone is a solid linebacker who moves well and is a sound tackler. The big knock on him is health and durability. The Saints finally got a pass rusher late in the third round with Hendrickson. He has unique athletic numbers for the position, but it didn’t always show up in games.

Grade: B-

New York Giants

2-55: Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama

3-87: Davis Webb, QB, California

When the Giants let Johnathan Hankins walk in free agency it opened up a need in the middle. As long as Tomlinson can stay healthy – he’s had knee issues in the past – he fits the role nicely. The 55th pick was a little high for me.

The Giants were expected to take a quarterback in this draft, and they got one in Webb. It was smart to take him instead of waiting longer. Webb is a football junkie with solid tools for a quarterback. He’s in a good situation with the Giants to learn behind Eli Manning for a season or two.

Grade: B-

New York Jets

2-39: Marcus Maye, S, Florida

3-79: ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama

Maye, along with Jamal Adams, fixes New York’s issue at safety. I’m not as big of a fan of Maye as others. He’s a speedy safety who is at his best in the box finding the ball and chasing it. As a single high safety he leaves a bit to be desired.

In the third round the Jets picked up Stewart, who was a solid value selection. He fits a need for the Jets, assuming they have a quarterback who can get him the ball. They might not.

Grade: C+

Oakland Raiders

2-56: Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut

3-88: Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA

I really thought this pick was going to be Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham, but Melifonwu is a nice pickup. He can come up and play like a linebacker but he has really impressive athlete to be developed as a coverage player. A 6’4 super athlete in the secondary is so very Raiders.

Vanderdoes is a powerhouse defensive tackle. He’s going to be the defensive tackle the Raiders need to take up blockers and stuff the run. He was a much better player in 2014 before injuries slowed him down. If he can work on his stamina and shape and stay healthy, the Raiders found a good player. But those are large ifs.

Grade: B

Philadelphia Eagles

2-43: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

3-99: Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia

As long as Jones is healthy he’s a great choice for the Eagles. Before he got hurt at his pro day he was expected to be a top 20 pick. The Eagles came into draft weekend desperately in need to talent at cornerback and Jones provides it. That, of course, is assuming he can get on the field early in his career.

Taking Douglas in the next round was a savvy move. Both could develop into starters for the Eagles in a hurry. Douglas has good measurables and knows how to use his size and strength advantage on the outside. Sometimes he can get too aggressive, but if he can refine his game he’ll outplay his draft slot.

Grade: B-

Pittsburgh Steelers

2-62: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Southern California

3-94: Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee

3-104: James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh

There are moments where Smith-Schuster looked like a first-round pick at USC. He’s a physical pass catcher who is a little bit like Anquan Boldin after the catch. The issue with the pick is how many targets Smith-Schuster might see in a packed wide receiver group in Pittsburgh.

Sutton is a player who, a couple years ago, some considered a potential first-round pick. Injuries, though, devastated him. He has some extra value as a punt returner. Conner is one of the great stories of this draft. He’s in a good spot in Pittsburgh where he can eat up short yardage and vulture touchdowns from Le’Veon Ball inside the five-yard line.

Grade: B-

San Francisco 49ers

3-66: Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado

3-104: C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa

Witherspoon was overlooked some at Colorado playing opposite Chidobe Awuzie, but he has some good physical skills in his game and has good growth potential. He’s a little spotty right now, but his size is too intriguing to let slide further in the draft.

The San Francisco grade gets a little bit of a boost after trading the 67th pick to the Saints for a 2018 second-round pick. On a team that’s starting to build from the ground up, acquiring assets higher in the draft is the smart move.

The team finished the third day by trading back into the third round to take Beathard. That was weird. He doesn’t have a lot of flash or arm strength in his game. I had a higher grade on Nathan Peterman of Pittsburgh.

Grade: C

Seattle Seahawks

2-35: Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State

2-58: Ethan Pocic, G/C, LSU

3-90: Shaquill Griffin, CB, Central Florida

3-95: Delano Hill, S, Michigan

3-102: Nazair Jones, DT, North Carolina

3-106: Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan

The knock on McDowell is that he runs hot and cold and needs to be motivated. Seattle and the competitive environment they have is a great place for him to be. McDowell fits as a movable defensive lineman. But to pass on offensive linemen multiple times is a risky proposition.

Pocic was a really good pick at No. 58 and makes up some for not taking an offensive lineman earlier. He’s a little big for a center but he has excellent football smarts and is a really good athlete on the line. His fit in Seattle is perfect. He’ll remind Seahawks fans of Max Unger. Griffin is a athletic cornerback with good instincts. He was inconsistent, though. Hill was overshadowed on a loaded Michigan defense. Hill is a good at coming up against the run, but doesn’t provide a ton as a coverage player. He can be a good understudy for Kam Chancellor and help on special teams.

Some thought if Jones returned for his senior season he’d develop into a first-round player. This could be a sneaky steal late in the third round. Darboh flashed at times for Michigan. He runs really good routes and has good hands. He’s not going to beat defenders with speed, but he’s going to be a player.

Grade: B

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2-50: Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M

2-84: Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State

3-107: Kendall Beckwith, MLB, LSU

The Buccaneers had to get a safety this draft, and Evans is an aggressive tackler with solid range. I viewed him more as a third round player. He should start for Tampa Bay, but he needs to get more consistent as a tackler.

Godwin really came on late in the draft process thanks to some excellent workout numbers. He might not be a No. 1 wideout, but for the Buccaneers he doesn’t have to be. Beckwith would have gone higher in the draft had he not tore his ACL in November. He’s good at coming up against the run and could be used in a pinch playing outside. He’s not much dropping back in coverage, so he might only be a two-down player.

Grade: C-

Tennessee Titans

3-72: Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky

3-100: Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International

Taylor, who had great production at WKU, will be an excellent slot player for the Titans. He’s another weapon for Marcus Mariota to go along with first-round pick Corey Davis. Giving up a fourth-round pick didn’t make a lot of sense considering the other wide receivers available.

Smith is a movable receiver who can work inline, in the slot and coming out of the backfield to create mismatches. He’s a good athlete and plays with speed.

Grade: C+


2-49: Ryan Anderson, LB, Alabama

3-81: Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA

Often overshadowed at Alabama, Anderson is a physical pass rusher who excels at getting under blockers and using leverage. Washington needed to get better on third downs and Anderson does it thanks to his all-around game and tenacity.

If Moreau were healthy he would have been a high second-round pick. He plays with good speed, is a solid tackler and can turn and run with receivers. He doesn’t have the best hands, though, and is coming off a torn pectoral muscle.

Grade: B-

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