Back to the comfort of the sofa again early this morning to watch the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland bathed in sunshine to watch Rounds 2 and 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft. This is where the draft gets interesting. The drama of Round 1 followed by less fanfare but the meat and bones of the draft, looking for the value picks from this year's college football class.
A quick nod to the New York press who came up with two great headlines yesterday to herald the arrival of the Jets' first round pick Zach Wilson, selected from Utah's Brigham Young University:
So, back to Rounds 2 and 3. Teams would have 7 minutes instead of the first round's ten to make their picks, so the four hours ahead would feature rounds two and three instead of the one over the same spell yesterday. By the end of the middle of the third round, we'd reached a backlog and the picks were coming thick and fast.
Draft expert Daniel Jeremiah highlighted that today would "separate the good from great organisations", as the depth of this year's college football to NFL Draft class is revealed. Night two, he predicted, would show a very good range of offensive and defensive line players and to expect trades, as teams were looking to trade up for value picks.
So, the highlights:
Round 1 Value available in Round 2
Due to the rich array of talent and some surprising selections on Day One, there was some Round 1 talent available and snapped up in Round 2.
The Jets, having traded up yesterday to get Alijah Vera-Tucker to protect new QB Zach Wilson, gave him Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore to throw to at the top of the second round. Having landed Justin Fields at No.11 yesterday in a move to go up from No.20, Chicago traded up again, twelve places, to secure Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins to shore up their offensive line and protect their investment in their new quarterback.
North Carolina's RB Javonte Williams added some power to Denver's running attack at No.35 and Las Vegas reversed the perception of a reach for Alex Leatherwood at No.17 yesterday, by landing an absolute steal at No.43 in TCU safety Trevon Moehrig. You could arguably have reversed the two in order taken, but the result is two strong picks for the Raiders.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah's trade-up selection by the home town Browns was greeted by one of the biggest cheers of the night. Pegged as a possible top 15 selection, a pre-Draft injury dropped him down teams' draft boards but he was great value for Cleveland at No.52.
Sleeping a little uneasy tonight...
Vikings QB Kirk Cousins and Texans QB Deshaun Watson won't have appreciated seeing Texas A&M and Stanford passers Kellen Mond and Davis Mills selected by Minnesota and Houston respectively at the top of Round 3. Watson, the subject of some 22 lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct, won't have enjoyed the selection of Mills as further highlighting his current troubles. The Texans seem to have moved on.
Cousins is just 33, young still for a quarterback and the selection of Mond with the No.66 pick suggests the Vikings may have run out of patience with the former Washington quarterback. Mond is a smart, athletic player with four years' experience in the SEC, the toughest conference in college football and will be strong competition for Cousins.
Rodgers to Rodgers
In more quarterback related drama, the Packers seemed to have made an olive branch move by trading up seven spots to No.85 to secure another A Rodgers, Clemson's talented receiver, Amari, for their apparently disgruntled quarterback, Aaron, Olive branch or not, this was a very good pick for Green Bay, who finally picked a receiver. They also solidified their offensive line with the selection of Ohio State center Josh Myers in Round 2.
The Need For Speed
The NFL is getting faster. Adding to the terrifying array of receiving talent in Arizona, the Cardinals picked up Purdue receiver Rondale Moore, while lightning fast wideouts D'Wayne Eskridge from Western Michigan and Louisville's Tutu Atwell were taken by Seattle and the L.A. Rams late in the second round.
"The Gut" Finds a Home
One of the stories of the draft, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater's Quinn Meinerz was taken at No.98 by the Denver Broncos. In a draft dominated by players from traditional powerhouses like Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Clemson, this 6'3", 320lb offensive lineman is just the fifth player taken in the top 100 picks from a Division III school. A former high school wrestler, Meinerz was invited to the Senior Bowl where he dominated better known players from bigger schools. His tucked in jersey, exposing his belly, gave him the nickname "The Gut" and emerging cult hero status. He'll be fun to watch.
Rounds 4-7 get under way later today, culminating in the selection of the last pick in the draft, "Mr. Irrelevant" at No.254.