When it comes to the NFL Draft, it’s hard to call many picks great or bad until a year or two after the draft was held. However, we can still try to narrow down what teams appear to have added great talent. On the second and third day of the NFL Draft (Rounds 2-7) that’s where you start to see top collegiate players slip further down the board and teams getting talent and value at once.
Here are some of the best selections from day two and three.
Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor- Indianapolis Colts (2nd Round/41st pick)
A bruiser of a runner with game-changing speed, Taylor was unstoppable in college and is one of the best backs of all time statistically. Taylor almost always faced a stacked box and was still able to rush for over 2,000 yards in 2019. While ball security is an issue for Taylor, that’s a correctable one and is the complete package otherwise. The Colts got an absolute steal here and have their running back of the future.
Michigan WR Donovan Peoples-Jones- Cleveland Browns (6th Round/187th pick)
DPJ was more than worthy of being a sixth round selection and Cleveland got tremendous value for a player that some thought would be drafted in the second or third round. Peoples-Jones’ career at Michigan didn’t meet the hype surrounding his arrival to UM as a five-star prospect, but still showed his athleticism and high ceiling potential with big plays here and there throughout his career. DPJ will be able to return kicks and punts as a rookie and also compete to be the No. 3 WR.
Iowa DE A.J. Epenesa- Buffalo Bills (2nd Round/54th pick)
Epenesa had 22 sacks combined in 2018-19 and was one of the best pass rushers in college football. Epenesa fell in the draft due to a less than desirable 5.04 40-yard dash and perceived lack of explosion, but what he does have is a full arsenal of pass-rush moves and techniques that are already advanced for someone entering the NFL. Bills head coach Sean McDermott is a defensive minded man that will be able to utilize Epenesa in an impactful way for a Buffalo team that can realistically win the AFC East in 2020.
Michigan OG Michael Onwenu- New England Patriots (6th Round/182nd pick)
Onwenu needed to go to a team with a power scheme, and he did in the New England Patriots. Not many players win one-on-one vs. Onwenu with strength alone and there were many times he was an immovable object at Michigan that doesn’t lose to bull-rushes. Onwenu can’t really pull with any kind of quickness and can lose against speed rushers, but he can clear people out to open up holes in the running game and provides adequate pass protection as well. Onwenu is strong as an ox and weight over 340 pounds, he already has NFL size and strength, now he just needs to lose a little more weight for added agility and he may stick around in the NFL for a while. A solid late round pick for the Patriots.
Washington QB Jacob Eason- Indianapolis Colts (4th Round/122nd pick)
It was surprising to see Eason fall this far, and was even more surprising to see Jake Fromm fall to the fifth round. The Colts have QB Phillip Rivers who doesn’t have much gas left in the tank along Jacoby Brissett who’s a quality backup at best but they needed to draft someone who could be their quarterback of the future. Eason lands in an ideal spot as he’ll have time to grow for a year or two behind Rivers instead of being thrown into the fire prematurely. Head coach Frank Reich is a former NFL QB who knows how to get the best out of his quarterbacks, and that should remain true with Eason. Although Eason was inconsistent at Washington, he has a very strong arm and frame along with toughness. He’ll have to get better facing blitzes but the Colts taking Eason in the fourth round was an easy decision seeing as they need to start trying to find a long-term solution at the position.
Penn State WR K.J. Hamler- Denver Broncos (2nd Round/46th pick)
The Broncos offense added a couple major weapons in the first two rounds in the form of Hamler and Alabama wideout Jerry Jeudy. Hamler has game-changing speed and was one of the fastest players in the 2020 class (didn’t run at the NFL combine, though) and will be able to take the top off a defense. Hamler’s a good route runner too and can shake and bake defenders to shed tight coverage and leave them in the dust. Hamler’s skill-set is a bit different than tall and tough WR No. 1 Courtland Sutton and the smooth slot route running of Jerry Jeudy, which will lead to the Broncos offense having more success as a whole. Hamler’s dangerous in the open field and should have a handful of big plays as a rookie. Great pick by the Broncos and gives second year QB Drew Lock yet another quality target.
LSU CB Kristian Fulton- Tennessee Titans (2nd Round/61st pick)
Fulton was Pro Football Focus top rated SEC cornerback the past two seasons, a player who competed at a high level against Jerry Jeudy and Tee Higgins. An ankle injury in 2018 and a year long suspension in ‘17 for tampering with a drug test led to Fulton slipping, but Fulton could wind up being just as good as OSU CB Jeff Okudah when things are all said and done. A playmaker despite only coming down with one interception last season, Fulton’s 14 pass breakups in 2019 show he can make the big plays when necessary.
Houston OT Josh Jones- Arizona Cardinals (3rd Round/72nd pick)
Mel Kiper had Jones going No. 33 overall in his last mock draft in mid-April, Pro Football Focus ranked Jones as the top offensive tackle in the 2020 draft class, but Jones slipped all the way to the 3rd round. Per PFF, on 1,282 pass-blocking snaps through three seasons Jones allowed only 18 pressures. ESPN’s NFL Draft Predictor said there was less than a 1% chance that Jones would be available when the Cardinals drafted him. Based on this data, his film, and his 6-foot-5 319 pound frame, it seems like Arizona drafting Jones was a steal.
Texas A&M Punter Braden Mann- New York Jets (6th Round/191st pick)
Yes, a punter made the list. If you’re a punter and you get drafted, there’s a good chance you’ll be sticking around in the NFL for awhile. Mann has a powerful leg (54.3 of punts went over 50 yards) and is a pooch punt master. NFL.com writer Lance Zierleinc says Mann has “a chance to become a top-five punter in the league” and I agree. Mann’s film looks like he’s a pro already and has all the tools necessary to become an All-Pro selection very soon in the NFL. Expect to see a lot of Mann in 2020 due to the Jets offense being mediocre at most.
Ohio State RB J.K. Dobbins- Baltimore Ravens (2nd Round/55th pick)
Dobbins was a great back at OSU from his freshman season to his last snap, and the Ravens are getting a RB that will aid their run-first attack. The Ravens had the most rushing yards in NFL history last season and they aim to keep Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and Gus Edward’s legs all fresh by adding Dobbins to the equation. Dobbins skill-set is similar to Ingram’s, but Ingram is now 30 years old and the hope will be for Dobbins to become his replacement by 2021 or ‘22. Dobbins will still see a good chunk of carries as a rookie and his pass-catching abilities will help him get on the field, too. It was a steal of a pick by the Ravens who get a player that can help them immediately and fits their scheme perfectly.