NFL Draft Day 2: Four stories to watch
Meanwhile, Smith sat in the green room and waited…and waited…and waited some more. Aaron Rodgers, who had his own stunning drop back in 2005 Tweeted at Smith to keep his head up, but the ex-Mountaineer could only hold his head in his hands until the Ravens took safety Matt Elam at No. 32, at which point the night ended for Smith and everyone else.
Despite thoughts that he might skip Friday’s proceedings, Smith will be in the house for Day 2 of the draft. He might not have to wait long to have his name called, but his wait will, at least for a little while, likely be the biggest of these few stories to watch on Friday night.
Manuel being the only quarterback taken in the first round means that there are several signal-callers who could and should see their names read in the second and third rounds. Smith is obviously still at the top of that list, but NFLDraftScout.com has seven others – including Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib, USC’s Matt Barkley, North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon, and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones – with second and/or third-round grades that could go.
The question of “when” now turns to “where,” especially in Smith’s case; he would seem to be an especially good fit for Chip Kelly’s new offense in Philadelphia, who would likely snatch him at No. 35, but the Jaguars (No. 33) and Jets (No. 39) could be interested, both Arizona (No. 38) and Oakland (No. 42) could be players if he continues to drop, and Seattle (No. 56) could snatch him to back up Russell Wilson.
In their Friday second-round mock, NFLDraftScout.com has Nassib going to Jacksonville at No. 33, Smith to Philly at No. 35, and Barkley to Arizona at No. 38, and notes that the third round could be where teams like the Jets, Raiders, Seahawks, and maybe even Browns could look for a good value pick to develop and/or challenge the incumbent.
The other big “drop” of Day 1 was Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, who was rated by NFL Draft Scout as the best inside linebacker in the draft but was left out of a first round that saw only four linebackers – all of them OLBs – taken.
Te’o’s stock has fallen a bit thanks to a poor showing in the BCS Championship Game and his well-known off-field controversy, but the early-middle rounds are where teams often gamble and take the best player available if he remotely fills a need.
NFL Draft Scout’s mock has Te’o being the second ILB taken in Round 2, going to Oakland at No. 42 one pick after Buffalo selects LSU’s Kevin Minter. He could pair nicely there with Rolando McClain (ironically, an Alabama alum) if they switch to a 3-4 defense early, but several teams could look to add him as quality depth inside and Baltimore, with the retirement of Ray Lewis, might try to snag their next marquee middle backer if he’s still available at No. 62.
Where Honey Badger At?
Tyrann Mathieu didn’t play a down in 2012, but the troubled ex-LSU cornerback still had a Top 70 overall grade and Top 10 corner grade according to multiple outlets.
Mathieu’s talented, but the “Honey Badger’s” off-the-field issues (up to and including his dismissal from the Tigers program for drug violations) and his lack of size (he’s 5-foot-9) have hurt him quite a bit and turned him from a probable first-rounder into a question mark.
NFL Draft Scout’s mock has him going to Seattle at No. 56 as the fourth corner taken in Round 2, but he could go anywhere from much higher (say, Carolina at No. 44 if there’s no offensive linemen or receivers they like) to not at all. Wherever Mathieu goes, however, it’s likely that “Honey Badger don’t care” as long as he’s selected.
The Jets and Giants have one pick each in Friday’s rounds, with Gang Green sitting at Nos. 39 and 72 and Big Blue at Nos. 49 and 81.
In the last 24 hours, the Jets have drawn criticism over their choice to select defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson at No. 13 rather than upgrade any part of an offense that ranked No. 30 in the NFL last year, but they may end up okay; the aforementioned mock has them taking Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, who would be both a great fit and excellent value, at No. 39, and he should be the pick if he’s there, and their third-rounder comes early enough that there should still be a few quality offensive linemen to choose from at worst, but they could also find a potential steal – maybe troubled/injured Cal wideout Keenan Allen?
The Giants, meanwhile, got a versatile lineman in Syracuse’s Keith Pugh in Round 1, and now need to turn their attention to linebackers and/or another pass rusher. Said mock has them taking UConn’s Sio Moore, an outside backer, at No. 49, although inside linebacker Arthur Brown from Syracuse seems like a Jerry Reese intangibles guy and there should be plenty of good, physical backers available (perhaps Oregon’s Kiko Alonso?) as late as No. 81.
Big Blue also could use some more offensive line depth and perhaps a corner, so if Round 2 brings a linebacker, their third round choice could, at the risk of sounding cliché, simply be the best player they have left on their board at one of those two spots.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES