Five Picks I Like: Day 2
With Day 2 in the books Gordon McGuinness checks in with some draft selections that impressed him with value and opportunity coming together.
Five Picks I Like: Day 2
While Day 1 of the NFL Draft brings us the most excitement, Days 2 and 3 are equally important, if not more so, when it comes to building a team to compete. From filling out depth, to grabbing those players that slipped out of Round 1. This is where the best front offices in the league show their worth, picking up players who can contribute for three to four years at a lower cost, lessening the burden on the salary cap.
As always, we have an opinion on the best picks, so here are five picks from yesterday that I really liked, and why I think they are a good fit with the team that drafted them.
Devin Smith, WR, Pick 37, New York Jets
A first round talent that slipped into the second round, Smith was great value for the Jets here at pick 37. Better, in our opinion at least, than several of the wide receivers who went before him, he was the top deep threat in this draft class. His 754 yards on passes travelling 20 or more yards in the air were 180 more than any other wide receiver in this class, while he caught 17 of the 18 catchable deep passes thrown him way. What makes him stand out is just how good he is at locating the ball downfield. Speed obviously plays a huge role in the success of a receiver on big passes downfield, but a receiver who can track the ball as well as Smith will always help out his quarterback if the throw isn’t perfect.
Randy Gregory, ED, Pick 60, Dallas Cowboys
Off the field issues caused him to drop, but the Cowboys were able to pick up one of the best pass rushers in this draft because of that, with Gregory worthy of a first-round pick based on his performance on the field alone. He had the fourth-highest Pass Rushing Productivity Rating of any 4-3 defensive end in this draft at 13.4, after registering 50 total pressures in his final season at Nebraska. The off-the-field stuff will be a concern to many, but if the Cowboys can keep him focused on the field, they’ll have stolen a Top-10 talent in Round 2.
Henry Anderson, DI, Pick 93, Indianapolis Colts
A pick that everyone here at PFF absolutely loved. We were incredibly high on Anderson coming into the draft, seeing him as a player who can have a massive impact in the NFL. Several of us even like him enough to think that he’s going to have a bigger impact in the NFL than Leonard Williams, who was drafted sixth overall. What makes Anderson so special is that he can rush the passer better than any 3-4 defensive end in this draft class, with a Pass Rushing Productivity Rating of 12.2 against Power 5 foes. Landing in Indianapolis is a perfect fit for him too, allowing him to transition into the NFL in the same role he had at Stanford.
Paul Dawson, LB, Pick 99, Cincinnati Bengals
Finishing Day 2 with one of the best picks of the draft so far, the Bengals added the instinctive Dawson at linebacker. Concerns about his workout numbers surely played a part in him slipping, because when you watch the film on Dawson, he just makes plays. He lead all linebackers in this draft class with a Run Stop Percentage of 23.3% against Power 5 Opponents, with the next highest mark coming from Wisconsin’s Marcus Trotter all the way back at 14.3%. He reads the running game as well as anyone, and it won’t be a shock to us to see him end up at the best linebacker from this draft class.
Jaelen Strong, WR, Pick 70, Houston Texans
The biggest surprise to me in this draft so far has been just how far Strong fell. For me he was one of the Top five receivers in this draft class, and to see him fall all the way to the third round represents daylight robbery from the Texans. He has his issues, and needs to learn to use his size better to get off press coverage, while also improving his route running, but he’s a rough diamond who just needs a little bit of polishing to be a very good receiver in the NFL. He’ll go up and win the ball for his quarterback, and fits really well as a “big slot” receiver in the mould of Anquan Boldin. In fact, his 4.06 Yards Per Route Run from the slot vs Power 5 foes were the most of any receiver in this draft class.
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Gordon McGuinness | Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst
Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.