Winners and losers from busy Day 2

Winners and losers from busy Day 2

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2022 NFL Draft: Winners and losers from busy Day 2 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft is officially over.

Even though two days are gone, there are still 157 picks to be made on Saturday with rounds four through seven.

Before we get to the final day, it’s time to look back at Day 2. Three quarterbacks were selected, 12 trades were executed and countless teams made moves that could make or break their 2022 seasons. The beauty of the draft is that those teams don’t know which side of the fence they’re on until these players take the field – and I won’t pretend to know either.

Regardless, here are some winners and losers from Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft:

The great quarterback drop of 2022 was unfortunate for the prospects involved. Desmond Ridder and Malik Willis likely expected to be gone on Day 1 – or at least early on Day 2. Falling to Nos. 74 and 86, respectively, seemed impossible as recently as Friday afternoon. The bright side for these two rookies is that they landed in positive situations – Ridder with the Atlanta Falcons and Willis with the Tennessee Titans.

Let’s start with Ridder, who led Cincinnati to the College Football Playoff in 2021. The Falcons are in the midst of a total rebuild after trading franchise legend Matt Ryan. Marcus Mariota is in line to start under center this season after years as a backup.

With a hungry rookie in the building, Mariota should be concerned about his job security. The last time Mariota began a season as a starting QB, he quickly lost the job to Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee.

Speaking of Tannehill’s Titans, the offense might not be under his control for much longer. Willis was the presumed top quarterback in this draft before falling all the way to No. 86. He’s in the perfect situation with a playoff team and a proven head coach in Mike Vrabel.

After trading star wideout A.J. Brown and drafting rookie receiver Treylon Burks, the Titans could be pivoting to a soft rebuild. Willis might not start immediately, but the first sign of trouble could thrust him into action. Tannehill has no margin for error after an ugly playoff loss in January.

Winner: George Pickens

Pickens was the darling of Draft Twitter leading up to this weekend – and he couldn’t have found a better home. Pittsburgh notoriously finds hidden receiver gems and develops them into stars.

The Steelers have drafted notable WRs outside the first round under general manager Kevin Colbert, including Diontae Johnson (2019), JuJu Smith-Schuster (2017), Martavis Bryant (2014), Emmanuel Sanders (2010), Antonio Brown (2010), Mike Wallace (2009) and Antwaan Randle El (2002). Pickens could be Colbert’s parting gift alongside first-round QB Kenny Pickett, as the longtime GM is set to retire following the draft.

Pickens had a rocky stint at Georgia despite showing obvious flashes of high-end talent. He comes with some character concerns and is fresh off a torn ACL, suffered in March 2021. The 21-year-old returned to the field in 2021 to play four games, totaling five receptions for 107 yards – including a 52-yard catch in the national title game.

You just knew the Panthers couldn’t resist taking a quarterback.

After dealing their second-round pick for QB Sam Darnold and their third-round pick for CB C.J. Henderson, Carolina was left without a Day 2 pick. As the quarterbacks began to drop, though, Matt Rhule and Co. decided to move back up.

The Panthers traded up to No. 94 and took Ole Miss QB Matt Corral. That pick could be fine – it seems like decent value considering Corral attended Day 1 of the draft and expected to be off the board early.

Corral doesn’t make the Panthers losers – it’s what they gave up. Carolina surrendered a 2023 third-rounder and 2022 fourth-rounder to the Patriots. Once again, the team failed to value its future in hopes of striking gold on a potential franchise QB. It seems like another short-sighted risk for a coach and front office that will be on the hot seat in 2022.

Winner: Rookie running backs

No running backs were drafted on Day 1. On Day 2, the tailbacks showed out with six selections – three in the second round and three in the third. It’s clearly poor value to take a running back in the first round, but there was plenty of value in finding these top players outside the top-32.

Iowa State’s Breece Hall led things off, going to the New York Jets at No. 36. Shortly afterward, the Seattle Seahawks picked Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III at No. 41. With the penultimate pick of the second round, the Buffalo Bills grabbed James Cook from Georgia.

After Cook’s selection at No. 63, the league cooled off on running backs. But once the 91st pick hit, there was a string of RBs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Rachaad White from Arizona State. LSU’s Tyrion Davis-Price went to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 93. To wrap things up, the Washington Commanders picked Alabama’s Brian Robinson Jr.

These running backs won’t get the same buzz as the first-round picks, but they all have a chance to contribute immediately. Running backs are often most effective early in their careers when they have less tread on their tires – so these teams might be on to something.

Loser: Cleveland Browns

The awkward tension between the Browns and Baker Mayfield looks like it will continue.

Throughout the night on Friday, there were reports that the Browns and Panthers were discussing a Mayfield trade. Then, all of a sudden, the Panthers traded up and drafted Corral. So, you can cross Carolina off the list of Mayfield suitors.

With the Panthers off the table, options are thinning for the Browns. The Seahawks remain a possibility, though they seem committed to giving Drew Lock a chance. Who else is even left? The Texans have Davis Mills. The Lions have Jared Goff. The Giants have Daniel Jones. None of those guys are sure-fire stars, but the teams seem content with them for 2022.

At this point, the Browns could be stuck with Mayfield and his $18.9 million cap hit. All while paying Deshaun Watson with a record-setting deal. Oh yeah, and Watson could still get suspended due to his sexual assault allegations. It’s certainly a tricky situation in Cleveland, but it’s a situation that can be blamed entirely on the front office for pursuing Watson.

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