Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft was certainly filled with some ebbs and flows. Seeing teams make plays for some elite-level talent remaining on the board was really nice. That included the Denver Broncos finding a potential No. 1 receiver in Courtland Sutton and the Tennessee Titans getting an EDGE rusher in Harold Landry that some had going in the top 10 of the first round.
On the other hand, certain players fell much more than we envisioned. That included an LSU product in Derrius Guice who many had pegged as a top-20 pick. He’s a major loser here. The same can be said for multiple teams who failed to acquire value at positions of need.
Here’s our look at the biggest winners and losers from Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Winner: Green Bay Packers
Josh Jackson. There’s not a whole lot we can add here to shed a light on just how tremendous of a pick this was for Green Bay. The former Iowa standout recorded eight interceptions against elite Big 10 competition last season. At 6-foot-1 and 196 pounds, he has the size to hold up in first year defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s system. There might be some questions about Jackson’s ability to make an immediate impact given his small college sample size, but the upside is through the roof here.
Adding Jackson to the mix with first-round pick Jaire Alexander gives Green Bay two likely starting outside corners moving forward. Both have the attitude to transition well to the next level. And for a team that missed out on the secondary in free agency, the Packers did extremely well to rebound here.
Loser: Detroit Lions
We all knew the Lions needed a running back early in this draft. After all, they have not had a 100-yard single game rusher since Reggie Bush back in 2013. That’s an insane stat, even in today’s NFL. That’s why it wasn’t a shock to see Detroit move up with New England for the 43rd pick Friday evening. What wasn’t expected was the running back this squad took. Instead of picking up a back in Derrius Guice that many had pegged as the second-best in the class, the Lions went with likely Day 3 pick Kerryon Johnson.
The Auburn product is of that three-down variety Detroit needed. But he doesn’t appear to be anything more than a thumper at the next level. He has issues with finding holes on his own, possessing poor field vision. To make matter mores difficult for Lions fans, they yielded a fourth-round selection to the Patriots to move up just eight spots for a player that might have been there in the first place.
Winner: New York Giants
If the Giants were going to go out there and spend the No. 2 pick on a running back, it only made sense for the team to get him help along the offensive line. That’s exactly what GM David Gettleman and Co. did early Friday by selecting former UTEP guard Will Hernandez with the 34th overall pick. At 6-foot-2 and 327 pounds, Hernandez is a massive guard and hard to move at the point of contact. Surprisingly, he also has the capability of pulling to the outside due to decent athleticism.
Hernandez should slot in as the Giants’ starter at either right or left guard. He’s an immediate upgrade over John Jerry and Patrick Omameh. This is going to do absolute wonders for Saquon Barkley as a rookie. It’s also meant to help an aging Eli Manning in pass protection. First-round value at a position of utmost need.
Loser: Russell Wilson
This one scribe just can’t comprehend how the Seattle Seahawks continue to ignore pass protection in front of franchise quarterback Russell Wilson. It started in Round 1 when Seattle reached for a running back in Rashaad Penny who couldn’t block a feather in the passing game. Then, on Friday, Seattle continued to ignore pass protection. That includes the selection of defensive lineman Rasheem Green No. 79 overall.
I absolutely love Green as a prospect in Seattle’s defense. That’s not the issue here. Instead, Seattle chose to add to that position when offensive tackles Orlando Brown and Chukwuma Okorafor were still on the board. At this point, it’s logical to question if Wilson somehow did something to piss off GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll. That seems to be the only explanation here.
Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh might now have its heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger under center. It comes in the form of a quarterback in Mason Rudolph, who we projected the Steelers to add…in Round 1. Not kidding. For some reason the Oklahoma State product found himself still on the board in the third round. A strong-armed quarterback with the same exact frame as Big Ben, Rudolph actually received some late pre-draft play as a potential first-round pick.
Not only that, Pittsburgh selected Rudolph’s former teammate, wide receiver James Washington, in the second round. The former Cowboy battery mates will now call Steel Town home for the long haul, giving an already talented Steelers offense a line of succession moving forward. Job well done by GM Kevin Colbert and Co. here.
Winner: New England Patriots
What an absolutely shocking inclusion into the winner column here (sarcasm font). Moving up and down the board on Day 2, the Patriots were able to pick up the best slot corner in the draft in the form of Florida’s Duke Dawson in the second round while adding a second-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft from the Chicago Bears. That’s not a bad haul right there. Now add in the fact that New England still boasts five picks on Day 3, and they can continue to build depth moving forward.
Though, what made Day 2 so swell for the two-time defending AFC champs was the addition of right tackle Trent Brown in a trade with San Francisco. New England yielded a later third-rounder for a fifth rounder in the deal. With Brown, the Pats get someone who was among the better right tackles in the game last season. Sure Brown had conditioning issues in San Francisco. He’s going to have to work on that with the Patriots. But it’s an area Bill Belichick and Co. had to address after losing tackles Cameron Fleming and Nate Solder in free agency.
Loser: Oakland Raiders
If the first two days of this year’s NFL Draft are any indication, Raiders fans are going to be in for a long decade. After reaching for Kolton Miller in the first round and giving up a third-round pick for Martavis Bryant Thursday, the Raiders were back at it with Jon Gruden at the helm Friday. It didn’t turn out too swimmingly.
Moving back in the second round with New England, the Raiders picked up Sam Houston State defensive tackle P.J. Hall. How much of a reach was this? Hall himself indicated that he was “really surprised” by being picked in Round 2, noting he didn’t hear about that possibility at all during the pre-draft process. Oakland then took North Carolina A&T tackle Brandon Parker about three rounds too early in a third-round trade up that yielded a fifth-and-sixth round pick to Baltimore. That’s just ugly. And adding Arden Key later in the third doesn’t change this.
Winner: Denver Broncos
This is something special. After seeing Bradley Chubb fall on to their laps with the fifth pick Thursday night, GM John Elway and Co. were able to pick up a perfect possession receiver for Case Keenum in Round 2. That came in the form of 6-foot-4 wide receiver Courtland Sutton from Southern Methodist. Sure there’s issues regarding Sutton’s ability down the field, but he boasts the largest catch radius of any receiver in the class. He also has a plus-level set of hands.
Sutton is an immediate Day 1 impact player behind the likes of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in Denver. Moving forward, he projects to be a potential No 1 receiver with more seasoning. You can’t ask for a whole bunch more with the 40th pick.
Loser: Cleveland Browns
It’s not necessarily that Cleveland took lackluster players on Day 2. Each prospect they added will play a role in the team’s long-term rebuild. Instead, it’s all about the team failing to find value with each pick. That started with the top overall selection of Round 2, Nevada offensive lineman Austin Corbett. The idea here is that he can play swing tackle immediately. Though, with the likes of superior prospect such as Will Hernandez, Braden Smith, Connor Williams and Orlando Brown on the clock, it made little sense to go with Corbett.
A bit later in the second round, Cleveland opted to add former Georgia running back Nick Chubb to the mix. That came with the likes of Derrius Guice and Ronald Jones, two prospects who most had higher than Chubb on the board. Let’s not even talk about Chubb’s knee issues while he was in Athens. To make matters even more questionable, Cleveland exhausted a third-round pick on Miami (F) pass rusher Chad Thomas. He’s going to have to move inside in the team’s scheme. That selection made little sense with more natural EDGE guys available.
Winner: Andrew Luck
Fresh off the Indianapolis Colts selecting Quenton Nelson No. 6 overall on Thursday evening, the team doubled down in a big way on guard in Round 2 by selecting Auburn product Braden Smith. At 6-foot-15 and 315 pounds, Smith is a bit leaner than Nelson. There’s also a chance Indianapolis could play him at right tackle. No matter what direction they go with the former Tiger standout, it’s going to be a massive upgrade over what Luck had in pass protection when he last took to the field in 2016.
Finally, the Colts have decided to invest offensive line help in front of a franchise quarterback who has seen his career railroaded by injury. In Nelson, the team got a Day 1 Pro Bowl-caliber performer. In Smith, it picked up a Day 1 starter. It’s hard to complain about that.
Winner: Tennessee Titans
It’s readily apparent that first-year head coach Mike Vrabel has had some input in Tennessee’s plans during his initial draft with the team. Adding linebacker Rashaan Evans in the first round was one thing. That’s an immediate need for the Titans. But being able to pick up former Boston College standout pass rusher Harold Landry in Round 2 was an absolute coup. Prior to dealing with ankle issues last season, Landry led the FCS in sacks back in 2016. He has the speed and technique to be an immediate situational EDGE guy.
For a Titans squad that saw Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo take a step back last season, this pick coupled need with some tremendous value. After all, there were pre-draft suggestions that Landry might find his way into the top 10.
Winner: Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta received tremendous value picking up consensus No. 1 receiver Calvin Ridley at the end of the first round. It then picked up even more value at the bottom of Round 2 by selecting Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver. Many had the former Buff slated to go in the first round. It didn’t happen. Instead, he saw lesser cornerbacks go off the board before him.
At 6-foot and 201 pounds, Oliver has the size and physicality to take on wide receivers on the outside in press coverage. That’s something the Falcons utilize under Dan Quinn. He’s more than likely slated to be a future starter opposite Pro Bowler Desmond Trufant. Not bad value at the end of the second round.
Loser: Derrius Guice
It took 59 picks before the consensus No. 2 running back in the class found himself selected by the Washington Redskins. That’s a dramatic fall for a player in Guice who many had slotted as a top-20 pick in the months leading up to the NFL Draft. Following the Redskins’ pick, more information came out regarding his fall down the draft board. Said reports include dishonesty and a perception that Guice himself is lazy (more on that here).
Even then, it’s shocking to see a total of six running backs go off the board before a ball-carrier that dominated SEC competition over the past two seasons. Here’s to hoping Guice’s maturity issues are not long-term. He’s a special back.