Another day in the books

Eric Galko
National Football Post

The first-round of the 2014 NFL Draft brought plenty of excitement. Between surprise quarterback picks and top-end values slipping down the board, every selection beginning at third overall kept draft fans on the edge of their seats.

Day 2 provided its own style of excitement with teams jostling for talent through trades early in the second round, the only two quarterbacks taken landing in unique spots one of the draft’s best defensive prospects sliding to the third round.

The Houston Texans kicked off Day 2, but not by taking a quarterback or filling their biggest need of a nose tackle, instead opting for the best offensive lineman on the board in Xavier Su’a-Filo of UCLA. But quickly after pick 33, the trade action commenced and never looked back.

The Cowboys traded away both of their Day 2 picks in order to acquire pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence of Boise State, who was rumored to be in consideration for Dallas’ first-round selection and will now be asked to replace the departed DeMarcus Ware. Early in the second round also saw the Lions trade up for linebacker Kyle Van Noy, the Rams trade up for defensive back Lamarcus Joyner and the Eagles trade up for receiver Jordan Matthews, who they had considered with their first round selection.

But the focus of the second round was set to be on the remaining quarterbacks in regards to how early they’d go and which teams would take the talented passers.

Fresno State’s Derek Carr was the first to come off the board, landing in Oakland at pick 36 overall, where he’ll battle with Matt Schaub as the opening day starter. Possessing a plus-arm, under-appreciated athleticism and extremely high character, Carr needs development before he can be counted on as a full-time starter.

The second passer to come off the board was Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo. Long-rumored to be in the early second round discussion, Garoppolo fell to pick 62, where the New England Patriots scooped him up. A high-character, athletic passer with a quick release and great leadership qualities, he’s a perfect fit for the New England locker room. Garoppolo lands in arguably the best place a young quarterback could: He’ll be groomed by the Patriots organization, can learn from Tom Brady and potentially inherit the team in 3-4 years.

Derek Carr
Derek Carr

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr landed in Oakland where he'll compete with Matt Schaub.

The second round saw seven receivers, led by USC’s Marqise Lee and Penn State’s Allen Robinson landing in Jacksonville, while Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews was drafted by the Eagles, all of which were rumored to be first rounders. Lee’s knee injuries are the main culprit to his draft-day slide, while Robinson’s fall was tied to his less-than-stellar 40 time, but both will be counted on to develop into Blake Bortles’s weapons of the future.

As for Matthews, he’ll bring a Jordy Nelson-like dynamic to the Eagles offense, giving Chip Kelly another offensive weapon to utilize. Davante Adams, Paul Richardson, Cody Latimer, and Jarvis Landry also heard their names called within the top-64 picks.

2014 marked the first time in draft history a running back failed to be selected within the top-50 overall picks. Only three ball-carriers went in the second round: Bishop Sankey to the Titans, Jeremy Hill to the Bengals and Carlos Hyde to the 49ers. Sankey will be expected to carry the load as a rookie, while Hill and Hyde walk into teams where feature backs are already in place, meaning they’ll likely be eased into their starting roles.

The third round started out far less exciting, with offensive linemen being taken with five of the first 14 picks. Rumored first rounders Morgan Moses and Marcus Martin found their waits over, landing with the Redskins and 49ers, respectively. Moses could offer immediate right tackle starter value, while Martin’s versatility as both a center and guard was likely the reason the 49ers drafted him.

Wisconsin product Chris Borland found a home in San Francisco along with Martin. While he may not be viewed as immediate start need, he’s a high character, high motor player who is an ideal fit for the 49ers’ 3-4 defense. San Francisco has done a great job in the past two drafts of consistently selecting top prospects as they begin to slip on draft day, and Borland appears to be another one of those players.

The talk of the third round centered upon how far Notre Dame’s Louis Nix would fall. The near-consensus top nose tackle in the 2014 NFL draft by those in the media and NFL, Nix slipped all the way to round three despite plus athleticism for a nose tackle who can fit in a 3-4 or 4-3 system. The Houston Texans ended his draft day slide, trading up with the Philadelphia Eagles to the 83rd pick in order to draft him. We had predicted that Nix would be taken at pick 33 to address Houston’s biggest defensive need, but they landed the Notre Dame defensive lineman 50 picks later instead.

The final big name of Day 3 to be selected was Dri Archer, the speedster from Kent State. After producing at a high level at running back, receiver and returner during his college career, Archer made a name for himself this draft season after running a 4.26 40-time. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him with the 97th pick in the draft and all eyes will be on how they use him.

Second round-worthy talents like Pierre Desir of Lindenwood, Caraun Reid of Princeton and David Yankey of Stanford remain on the board and those are just some of the prospects to keep an eye on as Day 3 starts up on Saturday. There are plenty of top prospects along with more quarterback intrigue that should make Saturday another must-watch event for fans and followers of the NFL.

Follow Eric on Twitter: @OptimumScouting

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