In Part 1 yesterday, we hit the top half of the NFL Draft. Moans and groans were heard, but I stand by most of the picks made as being well grounded. I firmly believe the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft is where the rubber is going to meet the road, and determine the future for quite a few teams. While pundits ooze about the first round talent being the best in years, I think the second round has prospects that'll rank as the best in NFL history.
So let's get to it, and have a great Easter Sunday!
#17 - Dallas Cowboys - Calvin Pryor, FS/SS?, Louisville - Look, whether they want to admit it - EVER - the Cowboys selecting middle round center prospect Travis Frederick in the first round (#31) of the 2013 draft was a miscue. General Manager-in-training Jerry Jones had a disconnect within his war room, and they somehow passed on Johnathan Cyprien and Matt Elam - two key need safeties - who flew off the board after the Cowboys took a center... A Center, and a marginal one at best. Safety is still a top priority for the Jones-s, er, uh, Cowboys... They tried to recover from their draft day gaff by taking J.J. Wilcox in the 3rd round, but when your FREE SAFETY leads your secondary in tackles (Barry Church, 107 tackles), there's a problem. While Pryor is a free safety - and Deone Bucannon or Jimmie Ward would be better selections as true strong safeties - a draft wouldn't be a draft if Jerry Jones didn't muck things up just a tad, now would it? I have to say the Cowboys' defense could be intriguing with both Pryor and Church deep, combined with Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr at corner back... Another strong option here is Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri.
#18 - St. Louis Rams (via NYJ) - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State - Les Snead and Jeff Fisher have trended toward the second round being their true Draft day battle field. With picks at #6, #12 and #17 in the next round, they need to find a player who can plug n' play Day 1. Anthony Barr is still an option, as is Notre Dame's OT/OG Zack Martin. But Gilbert offers a Jeff Fisher style player who could move straight into the starting line up; shifting Janoris Jenkins into slot coverage on passing downs. Rams fans are stunned by their pick, as Snead and Fisher look at one another, nodding agreement that they've just officially past the honeymoon safe line. Then they both point at their scouting department guys, who begin to squirm in their seats...
Miami Dolphins San Francisco 49ers - Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA - TRADE! Loaded down with picks in later rounds - and feeling the need to find a possible emergency replacement for the troubled Aldon Smith - they deal the #30 pick overall, along with #24 and #29 in the second, plus #13 in the third. Miami's need lists are long, especially along their offensive line, so this one makes perfect sense to them. The 49ers could go Bradley Roby here, which is only a slight reach, but would fill an important need in their race to keep up in the NFC West.
#20 - Arizona Cardinals - Zack Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame - The Cardinals stunned the NFL world in rookie head coach Bruce Arian's debut. Offense-mined, he know the right side of his offensive line is troubling. Bobby Massie has done well, but not great. Martin offers a capable right guard option, and the ability to possibly slide out to right tackle in a pinch. They could use an outside linebacker, and with Ryan Shazier sitting on the board they're tempted. But the Ohio State star doesn't really project as a 3-4 OLB, so they take the safe pick with Martin.
#21 - Green Bay Packers - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan - Known for finding gold in the draft - except at left tackle - the Packers roll the dice again to try and find someone to help protect Aaron Rodgers. Since 2008, he's been sacked 223 times. 223! They need help at both tackle and guard, but the former Cal star quarterback needs a blind-side double check. I have mixed feelings about the boom or bust factor of the ego driven tackle from Ann Arbor. But there's no better place to shape a guy into a "team first" player than Green Bay.
#22 - Philadelphia Eagles - Odell Beckham, WR, LSU - With the departure of DeSean Jackson, the fast paced Chip Kelly offense needs to slide someone into his place. Brandin Cooks could be an option here, but I like Beckham's skill set - and NFL level ability to play Day 1 - more. Ryan Shazier is a solid option here too. The Eagles need a sideline-to-sideline linebacker in a big way.
#23 - Kansas City Chiefs - Eric Ebron, TE, UNC - Alex Smith is never going to be a down the field quarterback, so finding a top tight end is on coach Andy Reid's mind. Compared to the 49ers Vernon Davis by some, I'm constantly puzzled at the thirst to hit on the next big tight end who can play basketball...? Ebron has pluses and minuses, but this could be a solid pick to move the Kansas City offense to the next level. Building up their offensive line would be a good idea here, but they go another route...
#24 - Cincinnati Bengals - Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA - All the gabble about Andy Dalton this off season has coach Marvin Lewis looking at his offense. The interior of the Bengals' offensive line is a weak spot in both the passing and running games. Su'a-Filo is the kind of player who gives you just enough pass protection, to go with run blocking skills.
#25 - San Diego Chargers - Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State - The Chargers have a gaping whole at corner back, and not just in pass coverage. Roby gives them an aggressive run stopper, along with solid cover skills. They stare at DE Kony Ealy for a while, who's somehow still on the board? But they go with someone who can help cut down on Denver's Peyton Manning shredding their secondary.
#26 - Cleveland Browns - Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri - Pass rush is a good thing, and the Browns lack someone who can consistently get to Big Ben, Flacco and Dalton in the slogging AFC North. Ealy has the run defense C.V. to add to the Cleveland defense in a big way.
#27 - New Orleans Saints - Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State - They need a linebacker who can come off the edge in a big way, and Shazier fits the bill. Rob Ryan fluffs his gray locks at this pick, then heads to McDonald's. The Saints need corner back help, so Kyle Fuller - CB, Virginia Tech is an option here, and would fit Ryan's defense.
#28 - Carolina Panthers - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State - They were getting nervous, and they should be. Cam Newton literally is without anyone to throw a pass to after the departure of Steve Smith to Baltimore. Personally, I think this is a "fit-reach", and asking Cooks to come close to the rugged Smith as a rookie is a bit much. But the OSU star offers a high speed option Newton hasn't really had, so there's an opportunity here for both players.
#29 - New England Patriots - Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame - When has Bill Belichick EVER taken someone NFL fans think he should? Never is the answer, and this year he won't change. They have need of a wide receiver, but Aaron Dobson - ask around, and you may get the feeling I was high on this young receiver out of Marshal last year... - is developing nicely. "The Hoody" glances at tight end Jace Amaro out of Texas Tech for a moment, then listens to his defensive coordinator about how woeful his pass rush was in 2013.
#30 - Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco) - Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama - Post-Jonathan Martin fiasco, the Dolphins desperately need an offensive right tackle, guard, and a center who knows when to play nice in the locker room. Kouandjio could represent a small reach to some, but not much. He's enormous, at 6'7" and arms that'll reach Bermuda from Miami. At only 21 years of age, he's raw, but mold-able. (Not to mention too damn big to pick on, eh?)
#31 - Denver Broncos - C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama - Injury warning flags aside, Mosley falling this far is too good for the Broncos to pass up. If healthy, Mosley will fill a huge need for a building AFC West defensive power. Manning can only do so much, and the Broncos defense need to take that next step up if they want to win the Super Bowl, or even compete against Seattle and the NFC West, who just so happen to all be on Denver's schedule this season.
#32 - Seattle Seahawks - Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State - Pete Carroll always seems to reach a bit in the draft, and this time around is no exception. They need help a guard, pure and simple. Stanford's David Yankey and Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson are there on the board, but only one represents the pure road grading machine Marshawn Lynch needs. Jackson is headed to the Pacific Northwest, and will open gaping hole for "Beastmode". This isn't a sexy pick by any stretch of the imagination, but it's the right one...