Last updated on May 24th, 2023 at 08:31 pm
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.
3 thoughts on “5 Steals on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft”
The Packers are fascinating to me. I can’t wait to see what it looks like without 12 under center. Mind you, as I heard on a podcast recently, the chances that Green Bay has yet ANOTHER transcendent quarterback in Love . . after having two back to back in Favre and Rodgers, ain’t great. But you don’t need transcendent.
I’ve been a big advocate of not having a transcendent QB. Winning home games in Green Bay in January is not done by throwing it 50 times. Packers just need a game manager who can run the offense competently and make the throws when it counts. If Jordan Love ends the game 13-18 for 170 yards and a TD, I’m assuming the Packers won that game.
The one thing I find myself reminding Packers fans far too often is that we can’t decide if Love is the longterm future from one season. Rodgers wasn’t an MVP right after Favre left. Packers went 6-10 that first year. As much as the front office will insist they’re not rebuilding, I’m comfortable with a 7-10 season if there’s recognizable progress from all the young players drafted the past few years.
This is an excellent point TB. Look at the early 2000’s New York Giants. Eli will never be confused with Tom Brady and yet, he beat him not once but twice!
Yes, everything today with the young QB has to happen five minutes ago and why? I don’t get that either. You’re building a team, and according to your game plan, it behooves the Packers to see if Love can be that game manager for more reasons than the one.