Leading up to the NFL Draft, the Triple Take crew of Mike Prisuta, Dale Lolley and Matt Williamson reviewed each position group and ranked the prospects in each. Now with the NFL Draft entering Day 2, the trio look ahead to what's left – and what to look out for on Friday night.
Matt's Take ...
Matt Williamson: With so much anticipation for this draft, there wasn't much drama or unforeseen action in the early portions of the first round. There were zero trades until the 13th pick when Tampa Bay moved up just one spot to get Tristan Wirfs, the last of the top tier offensive tackle. And overall, there weren't selections that came as a huge surprise. Maybe Henry Ruggs going as the first wide receiver (a pick Al Davis would have been proud of) took people by surprise or Andrew Thomas being the first offensive tackle being picked was a little shocking, but still, the first half of the opening frame pretty much went as expected.
The Patriots traded out of the 23rd choice with the Chargers moving up to grab Kenneth Murray giving Los Angeles their hopeful long-term quarterback in Justin Herbert and leader of the defense in Murray for years to come. The 49ers traded up to the 25th pick with Minnesota moving to 31. San Francisco selected Brandon Aiyuk, the sixth wide receiver selected in the first round. Then the Packers moved up to add Jordan Love as their apparent successor to Aaron Rodgers. So obviously the trading action picked up and team decision makers had no problems in that regard with communication or the potential roadblocks of drafting from their respective homes.
As Day 2 starts, the Bengals once again lead off, but Indianapolis owns two picks in the first dozen selections. After adding three first round picks, Miami has two additional selections in the second round. The Bears and Rams, neither of whom made a pick on Thursday, also have two picks in this next frame as do playoff teams Baltimore, Seattle and New England.
We knew this wasn't a top-heavy class for running backs and safeties. That being said, it was a little surprising that zero players at these two positions went in the first 31 picks with Clyde Edwards-Helaire going as the final pick of the first round to the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs. As you can see, there are some highly intriguing players at these two positions remaining. Here are 10 enticing prospects in alphabetical order that shouldn't have to wait long to hear their names called on Friday:
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State - Akers shows fantastic balance, power and overall ability for the position. Akers also happens to be an outstanding blocker, which speaks to his competitiveness and strong desire to do all the little things to be great. A quarterback-turned-running back, the best might be ahead for Akers.
Zach Baun, LB/Edge, Wisconsin – Braun can rush the passer. He can play up tight on the line of scrimmage, often over a tight end. Baun can more than hold his own in coverage in the short zones, but also shows very good burst and bend coming after the quarterback. And he is relentless. Baun is a really good football player, but his size is a concern if he is asked to play exclusively on the edge.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State - He basically gets a B+ or better in every major category for the running back position. Inside running. Outside running. Receiving. Athletic ability. His vision and cuts are superb and he can string together moves, but Dobbins is also powerful and compact. There is an awful lot to like here.
Grant Delpit, S, LSU - At his best, Delpit is long and rangy and excels as the last layer of defense like few in this class. He breaks on the ball in the air extremely well. This ranking gives Delpit a little bit of the benefit of the doubt and is banking on him being closer to the 2018 version that what we saw last season.
Josh Jones, OT, Houston - Jones was utterly dominant this past year for Houston and is a four-year starter. He uses his hands very well and is comfortable in space or on an island in pass protection. Jones can get his pads too high during his pass set or in the run game but is a good enough knee bender with great overall flexibility to get that corrected.
Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama - McKinney profiles as a do-it-all leader of a defense that compares to someone like Malcolm Jenkins, who is now back with the Saints. He his highly instinctive and wastes very few steps in coverage or against the run. He is also an accomplished blitzer. McKinney gets his hands on the football quite a bit and is equally effective in the box or playing from a two-deep shell.
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor - His high points at Baylor were very impressive and he has an outstanding pure blend of size and downfield speed. A world class athlete, Mims goes up and plucks the ball off the rim with regularity deep downfield.
Michael Pittman, WR, USC - The first thing that stands out about Pittman is his enormous frame and obvious physicality. Pittman has a massive catching radius and soft reliable hands. He can beat up a defense with short and intermediate routes, but also has very good build-up speed to really do damage downfield.
D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia - Swift is a very natural catcher of the football and often makes hauling in poor throws look easy. Although he ran very well at the Combine, Swift isn't a true burner on the field. But there should be a lot of chunk runs in his future at the NFL level.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin - He is very powerful, fast and consistently shows subtle nuanced moves to create space for himself. The biggest concern with this workhorse is Taylor's fumbling and it is a real problem. Taylor is also very underdeveloped in the passing game. There is no reason to think that he won't be a decent catcher of the football, but that wasn't tapped into much at Wisconsin. Taylor also has a lot of work to do in pass protection.
Dale's Take ...
Dale Lolley: The first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night was one of runs.
First came the early - and expected - run on quarterbacks, as three went in the first six picks.
The offensive tackles were the next group that saw a significant run, as five went in the first 18 picks, including USC's Austin Jackson to the Miami Dolphins at pick 18, the selection they got from the Steelers as part of the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade.
The first wide receiver wasn't selected until pick 12 by the Raiders, but the real run on receivers began at pick No. 15 when Alabama's Jerry Jeudy went to the Denver Broncos.
After that, there were five receivers taken in the next 11 picks, topped off by the San Francisco 49ers moving up to pick 25 to select Arizona State's Brandon Aiyuk.
The final run - and overall theme - of this draft was all about the Southeastern Conference.
There were 15 SEC players taken overall, a record for one conference in the first round of the draft. Fittingly, the first player selected, quarterback Joe Burrow by the Cincinnati Bengals, and the last player taken in the first round, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire by the Kansas City Chiefs, were both not only SEC players, but also were teammates at national champions LSU.
The Tigers led the way for the SEC with a school-record five players selected on the opening night of the draft.
My top-10 players remaining regardless of position:
Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU - The third-best defensive tackle in this draft, it's surprising he made it out of the first round given talented big men usually go fast.
Josh Jones, OT, Houston - Got a lot of first-round consideration. Talented offensive tackles don't last long into Day 2.
Zach Baun, LB, Wisconsin - Could play inside or outside. He's got plenty of talent.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State - Blessed with good size and outstanding speed, Dobbins also catches the ball well.
Michael Pittman, WR, USC - A big, physical receiver who can run. Pittman is polished enough to play early.
Antoine Winfield, S, Minnesota - My top-rated safety this year, Winfield is a playmaker. No pure safeties went in the first round.
Lavishka Shenault, WR, Colorado - A talented guy with the ball in his hands, his injury history is concerning. But his talent is big.
Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama - Can play all over a defense. He won't last long on Day 2.
Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State - A 4-3 defensive end, Gross-Matos should interest teams looking for a pass rusher early in the second round.
De'Andre Swift, RB. Georgia - Many were shocked he didn't go in the first round. Swift is a solid performer across the board.
Mike's Take ...
Mike Prisuta: It wasn't a case of safety first, or 10th, 20th or even last in the first round of the NFL Draft.
There weren't any tight ends taken, either.
So both of those positions remain wide open heading into tonight's second and third rounds.
Running back is, as well, with the exception of LSU's Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was taken with the 32nd overall selection (last in the first round) by Kansas City.
For the most part, teams in search of offense focused on quarterbacks (four), those they throw the ball to (six wide receivers went) and those who do the protecting (six offensive tackles were selected).
The defensive emphasis was placed on covering wide receivers (six cornerbacks heard their names called).
That's left a lot on the board heading into tonight's second round.
Here's a look at where some of the more intriguing players are waiting:
Wide receiver: Eight players that were given first-, first/second-, second- or second/third-round grades by draft analyst Dan Brugler of The Athletic are still available for selection. Among them are Baylor's Denzell Mims, Colorado's Laviska Shenault Jr. and 6-foot-4 Michael Pittman Jr. of USC.
Running back: All but Edwards-Helaire are still out there, including three with a lot of steam as three of the top four or five available heading into the draft (Ohio State's J.K. Dobbins, Georgia's D'Andre Swift and Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor).
Linebacker/edge: Wisconsin's Zach Baun remains an option who can play inside or outside and rush the passer off the edge.
Safety: Six players have second- or second/third-round grades according to Brugler, with Alabama's Xavier McKinney the highest-rated prospect of the bunch.
Defensive line: Auburn's Marlon Davidson has played on the edge and inside and was receiving a lot of first-round buzz prior to the draft.
Offensive line: It wouldn't have been a surprise had Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones gone in the first round, but he didn't.