The draft is fun! When Atlanta’s making good picks and there’s weirdness happening everywhere else, it’s actually a pretty compelling time, even if it pales in comparison to the actual playing of football. Fortunately for us, Atlanta put together a nice second day of the 2018 NFL Draft (on paper) and there were plenty of trades and intrigue around the rest of the league.
Here’s some thoughts regarding yesterday’s action.
The Falcons told us before the draft that they had very few needs, and they’ve made it apparent that they feel that way with their draft class thus far. Out of their first three selections, only one addressed a true 2018 need, and that was their third round pick.
After getting Calvin Ridley in the first round, the Falcons absolutely stole Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver in the second. Oliver was a player I thought might go before pick #26, given his obvious talent, and the fact that he made it all the way to the team’s second round pick felt borderline miraculous. The team snapped him up and figures to make him a prominent piece of their secondary this year, and he may well be the team’s long-term #2 if Robert Alford exits the stage after 2020.
Then the Falcons got Deadrin Senat, the USF defensive tackle whose power and technique have drawn favorable comparisons to Grady Jarrett, though I don’t know that he’ll be quite as good at the end of the day. Senat does figure to be an immediately impactful run defender who is a natural rotation partner for Jack Crawford on the interior, and the Falcons at least have a capable rotation at the position now.
In short, the Falcons got better by bolstering their secondary and defensive line on the second day of the draft, potentially turning a very good defense into a great one. If the offense bounces back and these rookies deliver, Atlanta’s going to be scary as hell again in 2018.
Around the NFL
- We saw teams trying desperately to get themselves in a position where they can defend against some of the best passing attacks in the NFL, particularly on the NFC side. The Buccaneers snagged two cornerbacks, the Panthers picked a hyper-fast one, and the Packers grabbed another corner after picking Jaire Alexander in the first, all in the service of counteracting the potent passing attacks expected to be found in Atlanta, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Green Bay, and a handful of other teams. Given that this cornerback class has some legitimately interesting players, you can hardly blame them.
- There were some surprise selections and some falling players. Derrius Guice was, I thought, perhaps the second-best running back in this class, and he fell way down the board while players like Nick Chubb went earlier than I suspected they would have. You could argue that the Falcons took Senat a bit early—at least per projections—but every year we’re reminded that each team has a unique board and they really do not care about our mocks at all.
- The NFC South is better, but how much better? I’ve liked the Buccaneers draft the best thus far, as they landed an impactful defensive tackle in Vita Vea, a couple of interesting cornerbacks, and a high-upside runner in Ronald Jones. The Saints are much better if Marcus Davenport is a hit, but there’s no guarantee of that, while the Panthers are better at receiver thanks to D.J. Moore but have a mixed class otherwise. We’ll see.
Your thoughts on the second day?