2020 NFL Draft Day 2 winners, losers: Rams, Colts get boost

  • WINNERS AND LOSERS: DAY 1
  • DAY 2

It’s become a football hipster mantra that Day 2 of the draft is more fun than Day 1. If nothing else, the second round on Friday night felt like a preview for August’s fantasy football drafts. Starting with the Bengals taking Clemson wideout Tee Higgins off the board with the first pick of the day, a lot of offensive depth charts look a whole lot better after Friday. On to the winners and losers:

Moving Up

Joe Burrow’s red zone efficiency: The more I watched Higgins, the more I couldn’t understand why his draft stock slipped late in the draft process. An A.J. Green fan and an A.J. Green clone in many ways, Higgins will learn from the master for one season before Green likely leaves in free agency. (The Bengals placed the franchise tag on Green this year.)

It’s hard to overstate how much better the Bengals’ offense should look next season. They get Green and last year’s top-10 draft pick and tackle Jonah Williams back, in addition to Higgins and Burrow coming aboard. Burrow is at his best when picking mismatches, and he should find plenty in the red zone with two jump-ball artists in Green and Higgins supported by running back Joe Mixon and slot maven Tyler Boyd. This is not a test: The Bengals are going to be fun.

The Indianapolis Colts offense: The second round is general manager Chris Ballard’s round. He drafted seven(!) second-rounders in the 2018 and ’19 drafts, including 2018 Defensive Rookie of the Year Darius Leonard and excellent starting right tackle Braden Smith. This time around, Ballard re-shaped the team’s offense with wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor. While Taylor’s passing down skills are a question mark, both players add terrific physicality and competitiveness to the Colts’ offense. Taylor will turn Marlon Mack into a complementary player, while Pittman has the skill set to step right into a starting role. Philip Rivers couldn’t have possibly landed in a more fortuitous situation to revive his career.

Bill Belichick’s dog: Who knew that Belichick was such a master at creating staged social media content?

Belichick leaving his dog to stare at a computer in his Nantucket compound while the Patriots were on the clock will be the image I remember this virtual draft by. It should be no surprise that Belichick has such a good boy, later rewarded with a treat.

"What does it mean? What does the dog know? Should we be letting a dog make our picks? Am I gonna be replaced by that dog???" – half of the NFL right now pic.twitter.com/isd1jXH1of

It should also be no surprise that Belichick’s first pick at No. 37, Kyle Dugger, was a safety from a school you’ve never heard of, Division II’s Lenoir-Rhyne. The very Patrioty evening continued with another versatile Michigan linebacker (Josh Uche) to pair with Chase Winovich and a pair of tight ends (Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene) to close out the evening.

Jared Goff: It’s been a disorienting nine months for the Rams’ golden boy, from a sluggish third season under Sean McVay to seeing teammates Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks leave town. Friday’s pickups of Florida State running back Cam Akers and Florida receiver Van Jefferson should serve to reclaim the Rams’ offensive identity. Akers was one of my favorite value picks heading into the draft, a sudden three-down runner with quick feet who had plenty of practice making people miss behind a bad offensive line. The Rams definitely have a type at receiver. With his clinical routes and toughness, Jefferson was compared to Cooper Kupp by NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah before the draft. Like Kupp, Jefferson could transition to the league quickly.

Panthers defense: Matt Rhule may be an offensive coach, but he knew the Panthers had more pressing issues on defense entering this draft. Second-round defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos was perhaps the most talented pass rusher on the board Friday, and third-round safety Jeremy Chinn came at a great value after slipping due to some injury concerns. Combine these picks with the seventh overall selection, Derrick Brown, and Rhule has a needed youth infusion to a defense that collapsed under Ron Rivera.

The Cowboys staying true to their board: The Cowboys didn’t need CeeDee Lamb on Thursday, but it would have been crazy to pass on his value in the first round when the talent wasn’t there at more pressing positions like cornerback and the defensive line. Jerry Jones staying true to his process paid off Friday when cornerback Trevon Diggs fell to Dallas in the second round and defensive tackle Neville Gallimore fell into the third. There just isn’t that big of a difference between Diggs and the rest of the cornerbacks taken outside the top 10, while Gallimore’s intriguing skill set could have gone a lot earlier, too. The Cowboys picked up value and need.

Derek Carr: The Tom Brady rumors were annoying, but Carr has to be thrilled with his bosses. General manager Mike Mayock added receivers with three of his first four picks. Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden and South Carolina’s Bryan Edwards provide different flavors than first-round speedster Henry Ruggs. (Bowden, announced as a wideout, will be more of a "joker" running back, according to Mayock.) The Raiders know that teams need three or four quality receiving options in nearly every play in today’s NFL and aren’t leaving anything to chance.

Sam Darnold: Jets general manager Joe Douglas is not playing it safe. First-round tackle Mekhi Becton may have the highest upside of any offensive lineman drafted, even if he came with a little extra risk. Late second-round pick Denzel Mims was a similarly polarizing prospect, a ridiculously smooth athlete with inconsistent hands and a silly NFL Scouting Combine. Douglas did a great job moving around the draft board, amassing extra picks and still finding a potential No. 1 wideout in Mims with the No. 59 overall pick. By the time Douglas made a trade with the Patriots late in the round, it was clear things are different in the Meadowlands.

Moving down

Eagles Twitter: It was a rough 24 hours for Eagles Twitter. While it hurt to see the rival Cowboys land CeeDee Lamb, the outcry over the Eagles getting the consensus fifth or sixth receiver (Jalen Reagor) in the draft instead of the consensus fourth receiver (Justin Jefferson) played like forced outrage, especially considering Reagor’s explosiveness fits the Eagles’ needs better. By the time the Eagles took quarterback Jalen Hurts late in the second round Friday, the greater Philadelphia area thought they were being gaslighted.

Fans blessed to have a franchise quarterback irrationally losing their minds when their team drafts (gasp) another quarterback is one of the dumbest draft weekend traditions. Quarterback value is so out-sized in the NFL that smart teams (like the Patriots and Saints) put a premium on their backup spot even when they have all-time greats at the position, whether it’s in free agency or the draft. After Michael Vick’s near-MVP season and Nick Foles’ Super Bowl MVP, you’d think the Eagles fans would appreciate the value of a backup quarterback.

The same folks who love to mention Carson Wentz’s durability problems somehow want to see Josh McCown or Mark Sanchez potentially playing meaningful snaps for the team again.

The Jimmy Graham signing: Bears general manager Ryan Pace’s pickup of Jimmy Graham didn’t make a lot of sense a month ago. It makes even less sense now after the Bears made their first pick of the draft, Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet. The Illinois native has a skill set that could develop and flourish, but Pace’s steadfast investment in tight end after tight end in Chicago has yet to pay off.

Trent Williams and Yannick Ngakoue: So much for veteran trades in this draft, barring some low wattage moves on Day 3. The Vikings, who were reportedly interested in Williams, drafted tackle Ezra Cleveland. The Jaguars said publicly that there were no offers for Ngakoue and his options to get out of town are limited. Would Williams potentially sit out two straight seasons to avoid playing for Washington again?

Aaron Rodgers: After drafting Rodgers’ replacement on Thursday night, the Packers took virtually the only running back in this class (AJ Dillon) who isn’t an asset on passing downs. Don’t be so sure that Dillon even beats out Jamaal Williams as the complementary hammer alongside Aaron Jones in the Packers’ backfield.

Kerryon Johnson: The Lions couldn’t wait around for Johnson to stay healthy. By adding dynamic running back D’Andre Swift near the top of Round 2, the Lions relegated Johnson to backup status. Swift looks like a star, with a complete skill set that adds much-needed juice to the Lions’ offense. He’s the type of explosive running back who would have been taken in the top 15 picks if this draft took place in 2005.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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