On Friday, offensive linemen and cornerbacks were in high demand, and there was even a mini-run on quarterbacks, with three signal-callers being taken in the span of four picks. With the first three rounds complete, a few teams and players stood out as clear beneficiaries of the evening’s action, while several others were left in questionable spots.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from Day 2 of the 2021 NFL draft:
New England Patriots: Bill Belichick’s recent record on Day 2 has been spotty at best, but this is the kind of haul the coach needed to accelerate his team’s return to form. Keeping the Nick Saban pipeline running after taking Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with the No. 15 overall pick, the Patriots used their second-round selection on another Crimson Tide product in defensive tackle Christian Barmore, a first-round talent and perhaps the best player available entering Friday. New England further bolstered its pass rush by adding Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins toward the end of the third round.
Both players require more polish and consistency in their approach, but Belichick seems like just the person to help them realize their potential. The moves represented a significant step in the defense’s reloading.
Zach Wilson: New York Jets GM Joe Douglas has evidently learned from his missteps with Sam Darnold, as he’s now investing heavily in providing the BYU quarterback and No. 2 pick ample support. Following his move to trade up for USC offensive guard Alijah Vera-Tucker in Round 1, Douglas used the lone remaining piece of his Friday arsenal to equip Wilson with a shifty and surehanded target in Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore. The state of the secondary could leave Wilson playing catch-up frequently as a rookie, but the offensive pieces are starting to come together nicely.
Los Angeles Chargers: Premier players at positions of need now have twice fallen into GM Tom Telesco’s lap in this draft. One day after resolving their longstanding left tackle issue by securing Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater, the Bolts solidified their secondary with Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. with the No. 47 pick. Beyond his size, Samuel has almost everything else needed to be a longtime starter at the next level. Georgia tight end Tre’ McKitty was a reach in the third round, however.
Rondale Moore: At just 5-7 and 181 pounds, Moore faced an unclear pro outlook as he awaited to see whether the organization that selected him would be openminded enough to use him in a fashion befitting his talents. The Purdue wide receiver – the Arizona Cardinals’ choice with the No. 49 pick – landed in perhaps the optimal spot, however, as coach Kliff Kingsbury has shown himself willing to overlook size for game-breaking talent. Moore certainly fits that bill, and Kyler Murray should be able to find ways to get him the ball in space, which will allow his explosiveness to shine through.
Dave Gettleman: It’s never too late for one to change their ways, as the typically rigid 70-year-old GM of the New York Giants now has traded back twice in the draft. His Saturday haul was particularly impressive, as second-round pass rusher Azeez Ojulari of Georgia and third-round cornerback Aaron Robinson should be able to boost the defense in both the short and long term.
Cleveland Browns: No one would have batted an eye if the Browns had used their first-round pick on Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Instead, Cleveland added Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II and returned for the multi-talented defender in the middle of the second round. Owusu-Koramoah’s explosiveness and range in coverage should be put to good use in defensive coordinator Joe Woods’ scheme. Third-round wide receiver Anthony Schwartz is unpolished, but he has a solid claim as the fastest player in this year’s draft.
Patrick Mahomes: The Kansas City Chiefs have no intention of letting their star quarterback get harassed again after injuries along the offensive line helped allow the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ pass rush victimize him in Super Bowl 55. Following its trade for offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., the team added another former Oklahoma standout in center Creed Humphrey. The decision was met with immediate approval from the signal-caller himself.
Kyle Trask: The Florida quarterback might be facing an uphill battle to establish himself as a reliable starter in the NFL, but he finds himself in a promising place for his development after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made him the final pick of the second round. Tom Brady and Bruce Arians are ideal tutors for the young passer, and Trask won’t face any pressure to step into action for some time.
Miami Dolphins: After the Denver Broncos leapfrogged his team to select North Carolina running back Javonte Williams early in…