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9 Winners and 4 Losers from the second day of the 2021 NFL Draft

If the Broncos can figure out quarterback, George Paton has had a terrific first draft.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 27 Military Bowl - North Carolina v Temple
Pookie Williams was my RB1
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The day after a rumored deal for Aaron Rodgers consumed George Paton’s first draft as general manager, the Broncos followed up on the Patrick Surtain II over Justin Fields selection by grabbing immediate help on the second day of the NFL Draft.

Winners

Javonte Williams

I had Pookie as the top running back on my Broncos’ big board and he lands in the perfect rushing scheme to maximize his strengths. The Broncos Counter, Power, and Pin-and-Pull concepts will look a heck of a lot more exciting in 2020. Williams is also a willing blocker who should become a legitimate four-down back as he refines his technique.

Baron Browning

An elite athlete with the skillset to become an impact player, questions about Browning’s mental processing dogged him throughout the draft process. While it’s concerning the Buckeye bounced between positions without finding a home at Ohio State, he lands in a perfect situation to reach his potential. Vic Fangio’s on the short list for best linebacker coaches in the league and his system will fully utilize what Browning can do as a blitzer.

Trade enthusiasts

The Broncos made three trades on Friday and four when you add in Teddy Bridgewater. George Paton’s burning up the phone lines. I’m not a huge fan of the move up to get Pookie, even if I love him as a prospect. Jumping back from 71 to 76 and then falling back to the end of the third with the Saints secured the Broncos a ton of Day 3 capital:

5. (152)

5. (164)

6. (219)

7. (237)

7. (239)

7. (253)

While there is a rather large fall-off in impact after the top 120 or so picks in most drafts, this isn’t a normal draft. Without the Combine and limited face-to-face interaction between scouting departments across the league, NFL teams have vastly different grades on their boards this year. Paton looks like he’s gambling on a few promising sliders falling into his lap. Worst case scenario, Denver has a number of positions that will benefit from additional depth.

Viking trade enthusiasts

George Paton’s former boss could have shown the Broncos’ new boss how it’s really done. First the Vikings slid back in the first and came away with Christian Darrisaw before Rick Spielman made three picks in the third. Kellen Mond gives Klint Kubiak a developmental project to try and groom to replace Kirk Cousins in 2023. Both Wyatt Davis and Patrick Jones should help along their respective side of the line of scrimmage.

Detroit Lions

After taking Penei Sewell to open the draft, Brad Holmes has followed up on it by working to fortify the defensive line. Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeil may need a little time to really make their impact felt, but they could eventually turn the run defense into a strength and make it tough for quarterbacks to step up in the pocket. McNeil was my favorite nose tackle with underrated burst and Onwuzurike profiles as the kind of gap shooting three technique that’ll be a headache for protection schemes.

Los Angeles Chargers

Tom Telesco saw Rashawn Slater fall in his lap yesterday before drafting Asante Samuel Jr. and Tre McKitty tonight. Slater immediately gives them competition for an offensive line that badly needed it. Samuel Jr. is a hand-in-glove scheme fit for the Staley defense and I assume he’ll eventually become a Star for them. McKitty is a blocking tight end who could become a decent tertiary receiver.

Chazz Surratt

The Minnesota Vikings let Eric Wilson walk in free agency and replaced him with a linebacker prospect with a preternatural feel in coverage. Surratt will need to improve in just about every facet of the run game, but he’s football young at linebacker and brings range and physicality that can’t be taught. Landing in Mike Zimmer’s defense gives Surratt a chance to play behind two nose tackles who can help keep him clean.

Cleveland Browns

I would have given Andrew Berry high marks if he’d taken Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the first round. That the Browns got him in the second is going to look like a steal in the Joe Woods’ scheme, where he’ll play a role similar to Will Parks in 2018.

Dayo Odeyingbo

I struggled with placing the Vanderbilt defensive lineman on my Broncos’ board because he tore his Achilles in January, which cost him a chance to work out in the pre-draft process. On tape, he looked like he’d fight for the second best DL because of his athleticism, motor, and burst. Landing with the Indianapolis Colts should give him a chance to heal at the pace he needs and the Matt Eberflus defense is one that’ll make the most of his ability to shoot gaps down the road.

Losers

Lloyd Cushenberry

If you remember the 2020 draft, the Broncos settled on Lloyd Cushenberry after they couldn’t trade ahead of the Atlanta Falcons for Matt Hennessy. He played every single offensive snap rookie, but there’s no way to sugarcoat the way he struggled. Early on Cush was so bad it was dragging Dalton Risner and Graham Glasgow down with him.

While the Broncos sang his praises for improving along the way, it made too much sense to grab Quinn Meinerz when he slid to them at 98. A left guard at Wisconsin-Whitewater, he’ll probably fight for snaps at center.

Las Vegas Raiders

In Jon Gruden’s first offseason he traded Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears for a haul that became Josh Jacobs, Blessuan Austin, Damon Arnette, and Bryan Edwards. Las Vegas spent the 2021 offseason cutting veterans from a roster that finished 8-8 and replaced them with cheaper rookie contracts. There’s definitely a chance Alex Leatherwood and Trevon Moehrig could become good players: I liked both prospects, in all honesty. But Chucky’s four years into a 10-year, $100 million deal and no closer to a Super Bowl than when he started this second stint with the Raiders.

The Kansas City Chiefs

A top heavy roster adds Orlando Brown, who is going to cost a lot to re-sign as a left tackle after spending the last couple of years in a very run heavy offense that protected him in pass protection. On top of that, Brent Leach used his first pick in the draft on Nick Bolton. The Missouri Tiger will be an immediate fan favorite with his instinctive run thumping style, but he’s a tape over traits guy who lacks the range and length to make a huge difference on passing downs.

To be completely fair, I do like the decision to take Creed Humphrey and he should quickly lock down the pivot. It’s just that much like 2020, I believe the Chiefs are taking a suboptimal approach to building around Patrick Mahomes.

Azeez Ojulari

For months it looked like the Georgia Bulldog would find his way in the first round of the NFL draft. He combines a very good burst with run defense, an instinctive feel for his opponent, and a pro-ready Crosschop move. He still needs to develop counters and improve at using his speed to threaten inside, but he’s only 20 years old. I suspect the concerns about his knee knocked him down the board and cost him millions.