Day 2 of the NFL Draft is truly special. Often considered the most important day of the draft, it differs from the other days because teams have more latitude and can focus on filling specific needs. Round 1 is full of big investments, high drama, and make or break franchise decisions. Day 3 is swinging for a diamond in the rough, or a handful of special teams contributors. After the beginning of the night scramble to grab 1st round talent that dropped, Day 2 takes off with the steals.
Trenton Simpson, LB, Ravens – 3rd Round (Pick 86)
Can’t seem to find a legitimate source, but I’ve seen in multiple places that during last year’s Miami-Clemson game, Ray Lewis said Trenton Simpson is the best college linebacker he’s ever seen. I hope Ray gave Trenton a call last night. This kid can fly. At the combine, he ran a 4.43 40, then duplicated that at Clemson’s Pro Day. He also added 25 bench reps and a 40.5 inch vertical. The fact that a late 3rd round pick convinced people the Ravens wouldn’t exercise Patrick Queen‘s 5th year option should tell you what a great value this is. They’ll expect him to contribute quickly.
Tucker Kraft, TE, Packers – 3rd Round (Pick 78)
Call me a homer. That’s fine. This is an outstanding TE for the middle of the 3rd round, just 36 picks after taking another TE in Luke Musgrave. If I ran a team, we’d have 6 TEs and 2 FBs, so you’ll get no argument from me on taking Kraft. He runs the 40 in the 4.6s, did 23 bench reps, and has a nice vertical and broad jump. Most impressive was his 7.08 in the 3-Cone (measures agility, change-of-direction, and body control). Not many TEs run that drill. It’s not typically flattering for them, so if they run it, it’s because they know their time will help them. Tucker’s time helped him.
Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Bears – 3rd Round (Pick 75)
If you could picture a Bears defensive back, I bet Stevenson would be in that frame. He’s a strong, physical corner who punches well above his weight class. He gave up just 17 catches in 11 games last season. Change-of-direction is a bit stiff, but his 4.45 straight-line speed and 1.51 split acceleration is more than enough to catch up if his first punch doesn’t land.
Brian Branch, S/CB, Lions – 2nd Round (Pick 45)
I kid you not, after the headscratcher picks from the Lions in the 1st round, I said I think someone switched their Thursday and Friday draft boards. I meant it as a joke, but now I have to wonder. No one would have batted an eye if they took Branch at 12, Sam LaPorta at 18, Jahmyr Gibbs at 34, and Jack Campbell at 45. It’s a bit of a weird pick because they just signed C.J. Gardner-Johnson in the offseason, who played a similar safety/slot corner role for the Eagles. In any case, this is great value.
Matthew Bergeron, OL, Falcons – 2nd Round (Pick 38)
Atlanta could’ve made this list twice with edge rusher Zach Harrison in the 3rd round. Bergeron could be a day 1 starter at either tackle position. Moving inside is also a possibility, but I think it negates his strengths. 29 bench reps and nasty streak make him viable inside, but the real prizes in his game are his feet and hands. Born in Quebec, he’s a former hockey player (which always matters for some reason) who gets good position against edge rushers. And once he has you, it’s over, which tells me he knows the proper, kinda sorta legal-ish hand placement tricks we’ve seen from some of the best tackles in the game.