NFL draft winners and losers: John Elway tries again at QB with Drew Lock, and it better work
At some point, patience has to run out, even for a guy who is synonymous with your franchise itself.
Denver Broncos general manager John Elway took another swing at quarterback. He traded up with the Cincinnati Bengals and took Missouri quarterback Drew Lock at No. 42 overall.
Most picks early in the second round don’t feel this heavy. Most picks in the 40s don’t seem like they’ll be a big part of a GM’s future with the team. But Elway has now tried practically everything to figure out quarterback. Joe Flacco seems like a short-term answer. Elway needs Lock to be The One, though he didn’t really operate like Lock was that big of a priority.
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The Broncos had the 10th pick, a spot some thought Denver could take Lock or another quarterback. They moved down to No. 20. They drafted tight end Noah Fant from Iowa. The Broncos didn’t move up from No. 41, even though it was at least plausible that someone else in need of a quarterback could have traded up to get Lock, considered a first-round talent by many. When the Broncos were up at No. 41, they took … Kansas State offensive lineman Dalton Risner. Then the Broncos traded with the Bengals, another team that could have been in the market for a quarterback, and finally took Lock.
Risner should be a nice player and the Broncos needed to add to the line. But it’s rare to take an offensive lineman before a guy you think can be your quarterback of the future. The way the Broncos waited made it seem like the Broncos liked Lock, but they didn’t love him. When Elway tweeted out Denver’s second-round picks, he said Lock was “going to learn from Joe and compete for the backup role.” Feel the excitement.
But make no mistake: This is an important pick for Elway, even in the second round.
The Broncos have tried everything at quarterback since Manning retired. They tried turning seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian into a starter. First-round pick Paxton Lynch failed spectacularly. They signed Case Keenum to a large, albeit short-term, contract before trading him to Washington this offseason. They traded for Flacco, who wasn’t happy last year in Baltimore after the Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson in the first round and probably won’t be happy with Lock behind him now.
Lock could be that answer. He was considered a first-round prospect by many for a reason. He has a strong arm and good experience, having started 50 games at Missouri. It’s not crazy to think he could be a very good NFL starter.
It’s always worth pointing out, as people pile on Elway, that he did build a team that won a Super Bowl about 39 months ago with Manning as an absolute shell of himself. That’s not nothing. But since then, very little has gone right. The Broncos suffered back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1971-72. A lot of the problem, aside from poor drafting in general, has been the inability to figure out the quarterback position.
It’s still hard to imagine Elway ever being on the hot seat in Denver. Other than perhaps Drew Brees with the New Orleans Saints, no individual is more synonymous with a franchise than Elway with the Broncos. But Broncos fans, who aren’t used to being down long, are getting restless. Elway had a good draft last year and seems to have done well for himself through two days of this year’s draft. But it all comes down to the Hall of Fame quarterback fixing his quarterback problem.
If Elway uses the No. 42 pick on Lock — and to be fair, that is good value, even if the Broncos showed no desire to get him before that — after shipping off a fourth-round pick on a questionable trade for Flacco and neither player works out, will he be around to take another shot at figuring out the Broncos’ ultimate solution at quarterback?
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from day two of the NFL draft:
Indianapolis Colts: Hey, weren’t the Colts in the losers category after Thursday night’s first round?
Always trust Colts general manager Chris Ballard. He did well for himself in the second and third round.
The Colts took Rock Ya-Sin, a cornerback from Temple who many figured would go in the first round. They took TCU edge rusher Ben Banogu next in the second round, filling a need. Receiver Parris Campbell, a blazing athlete out of Ohio State, was the team’s third second-round pick and should fit well with Andrew Luck. Bobby Okereke from Stanford should pair very well as an off-the-ball linebacker next to superstar Darius Leonard.
The Colts haven’t been aggressive this offseason. They weren’t big players in free agency despite the most salary-cap space in the NFL, then they traded out of the first round Thursday night. But they did quite well to find value on the second day, which is proving to be a trend for Ballard.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills found a lot of value, especially with their first two picks.
In the first round, they took Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver with the ninth pick. That could end up being a steal. Oliver is one of the most talented players in the draft.
Then in the second round, the Bills helped their offensive line. They traded up, ahead of the Buccaneers, and got Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford. The Bills will have to decide if he’s best suited at guard or tackle, but either way he’ll help protect second-year Josh Allen. Florida International running back Devin Singletary has a similar skill set to LeSean McCoy, which comes in handy as McCoy nears the twilight of his career. Ole Miss tight end Dawson Knox needs development, but he has promise and the Bills need some dynamic talent on offense. That seemed like a good gamble to take in the third round.
The Bills have been slowly adding through the draft, and needed one big draft to make a big leap. Maybe this class will be what Buffalo needed.
Sioux Falls and Old Dominion: It’s always fun when an off-the-radar college gets some shine at the NFL draft.
Before Friday, the only NFL draftee in Sioux Falls history was Bryan Hansen, a punter the Saints took in the ninth round of the 1984 draft, 237th overall (Hansen had a nice 15-year career for five teams). But in the third round on Friday, offensive tackle Trey Pipkins went to the Los Angeles Chargers with the 91st overall pick. As Trey Wingo pointed out on ESPN, Sioux Falls had a player go off the board before football factory USC; Trojans offensive tackle Chuma Edoga went with the pick after Pipkins as the first USC player selected.
At least Division II Sioux Falls had one player drafted in its history. Defensive end Oshane Ximines made history when the New York Giants drafted him in the third round. Ximines is the first Old Dominion player ever drafted. ODU receiver Travis Fulgham has a chance to be drafted on Saturday.
Most of the draft is dominated by many familiar college football powers. It’s always fun when some smaller schools crash the party.
San Francisco 49ers ... perhaps: 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have gotten a pass. They’re 10-22 together. They have gotten a bit of a free ride due to Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury last year, and the fact they landed Garoppolo in the first place (though that was a gift from Bill Belichick).
The 49ers have hit on some picks — tight end George Kittle was a clear grand slam — but they’ve missed plenty. Solomon Thomas, the No. 2 pick of the draft just two years ago, was reportedly on the trade block this week.
This draft is huge for the 49ers. Defensive end Nick Bosa seems like a can’t-miss pick, which most No. 2 overall picks should be. But the second-round pick, Deebo Samuel, was a little odd. He’s a good player, but he seems repetitive. Samuel can play the slot or outside, but his short-area quickness and versatility seems to make him more of a slot weapon. The 49ers drafted slot receiver Trent Taylor two years ago and slot receiver Dante Pettis last year.
The 49ers’ next pick was 6-foot-5, 226-pound Jalen Hurd from Baylor .. who was used mainly as a big slot receiver at Baylor, after making a name at Tennessee as a running back and transferring. The 49ers have a type.
San Francisco has to turn some of the excitement into wins, and soon. A good 2019 draft class would help. They certainly shouldn’t lack at receiver.
Arizona Cardinals, at least with their big trade: The Cardinals traded Josh Rosen for UMass receiver Andy Isabella, an undersized, fast player who they took with the 62nd pick. They also had to trade a 2020 fifth-round pick along with Rosen to the Miami Dolphins.
Didn’t expect to read that paragraph a year ago, did you?
The Cardinals had to sell low. It became a necessity, in their minds, once they drafted Kyler Murray. The Cardinals traded a third- and fifth-round pick to move up five spots and take Rosen, got a year out of him and then traded Rosen and a fifth-round pick for a second-rounder. So it goes.
The Cardinals did make a nice pick to start the second round with Washington cornerback Bryon Murphy. He can perhaps finally settled down the spot opposite Patrick Peterson, assuming Peterson isn’t traded. Isabella and third-round pick Zach Allen, a defensive end from Boston College, could be good players.
But after waiting so long to officially decide to draft Murray and trade Rosen, which ruined their leverage, it’s hard to like what they got for the 10th pick of last year’s draft.
All of the Patriots’ veteran running backs: Another running back for the Patriots?
The Patriots took Sony Michel in the first round last year. They still have James White and Rex Burkhead. It didn’t seem running back was on their radar. Then they took Damien Harris, a very talented back out of Alabama, in the third round. The depth chart gets more crowded.
It seems like a nice value pick for the Patriots, even if it creates a logjam, and Harris seemed to see it coming.
"The Patriots are obviously a great organization," Harris said at the NFL scouting combine, via NBC Sports Boston "People like to compare them to (Alabama). Coach Belichick and Coach (Nick) Saban, everybody knows they're great friends. People like to think they run their programs the same, so that would be an easy fit for any guy that's come out of Alabama. It would be an easy transition, so I don't know. Hopefully I get a chance to meet with them just like all the other 31 teams."
Between first-round pick N’Keal Harry, a potential No. 1 receiver, and Harris, the Patriots stocked up at the skill positions. Competition for touches in New England should be fierce.
Will Grier: Grier, a quarterback from West Virginia, had to come into the draft with high hopes. Many thought he could be a second-round pick.
Instead, Grier had to wait until one of the final few picks Friday night to hear his name called, and he got stuck behind a former MVP who is still in his prime.
The Carolina Panthers selected Grier with the 100th overall pick, the first quarterback they’ve taken since Cam Newton. Newton is still with the Panthers and entrenched as the starter. Grier could get a shot to play because Newton does take punishment and his health is an issue, especially coming off offseason shoulder surgery. But Grier will likely have to wait his turn ... for a long time.
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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab
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