Day 2 of the 2013 NFL Draft saw several big names fly off the board, a lot of movement, and a few teams just sticking to their boards. Here are ten takeaways from Friday night:
1. Matt Barkley could be next year’s Russell Wilson. Or not.
Matt Barkley was the consensus 2013 NFL Draft top overall pick when the pundits made their big boards last April, but 97 picks came and went and he still wasn’t selected on Friday. Barkley had an outstanding 2011 season, but struggled mightily in 2012 before injuring his shoulder and missing the team’s bowl game.
At the Combine, sources at multiple teams assured me that his shoulder wouldn’t be an issue if he threw well at his March 27 Pro Day. Unfortunately, he didn’t. One source told me, "He threw very poorly." Barkley was the starting quarterback at highly competitive Mater Dei High School (California) for four years, before earning the starting job and holding the gig down for four years at USC. This is a guy who’s played under the bright lights and has delivered. But can he throw the football? Is he going to show he has the athleticism and arm to make a play when his team needs one?
The recent history on USC quarterbacks — Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez, even Matt Cassel — isn’t great. Can Barkley break the trend and prove his doubters wrong?
Russell Wilson slipped to the end of the third round a year ago and led his team to the playoffs in Year 1. Barkley’s going to have a tough road ahead of him to even get on the field, but success is not impossible. I want to make sure that we don’t say he "slipped," though. I’m not so sure he was high on many draft boards.
2. Mark Sanchez versus Geno: Let’s get it on!
Rumored to take him as early as No. 9 or 13 on Thursday, the Jets couldn’t pass on West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith when he fell to them at 39th overall on Friday.
Smith, to the great dismay of Jets fans everywhere, came out of the gates, telling the NFL Network, “We’re going to the playoffs next year.” If Mark Sanchez were released, it’d be a $17 million salary cap hit. If they cut him with a June 1 designation, he’d count $12.4 million on the 2013 cap, and $4.8 million in 2014. That’s a lot of money to just eat, and after the Darrelle Revis situation — I can’t see Woody Johnson and Co. doing that.
A few days after being booed by New York fans at a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden and after two years of the Jets missing the playoffs, Sanchez is no longer a fan favorite or a lock to be the starter next year. John Idzik, who joined the Jets front office in January, did not select Sanchez. He did, however, pick Smith on Friday. The fans in Radio City enthusiastically cheered the pick.
You thought Tebow-Sanchez was a hot topic in New York? Geno-Sanchez may blow it out of the water. Buckle up. As writer Tom Rock at Newsday joked, Rex Ryan may need to find a tattoo removal place in New Jersey.
3. The Buccaneers are addressing their pass defense in a major way.
When I spoke to Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik at the NFL Draft Scouting Combine in February, he said his team needed to upgrade their pass defense. The Bucs have done that and then some this offseason.
The 32nd-ranked pass defense a season ago added All-Pros Dashon Goldson and Darrelle Revis, won a case with the league and were able to restructure Eric Wright’s contract, and drafted Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks in Friday’s second round. Banks, who was given an indication that the Buccaneers were interested in him, was a bit concerned when the team acquired Revis last weekend.
“I really like the way he plays the game,” coach Greg Schiano said of Banks. “He’s a captain, and he was a guy who made their defense go, period. You love that, especially in a corner. That doesn’t happen very often.”
4. The Bengals were big winners tonight, and it wasn’t just because of the rookies.
Cincinnati, fresh off two straight trips to the playoffs, made big waves on Friday by not only drafting Giovani Bernard and Margus Hunt, but by re-signing right tackle Andre Smith to a three-year deal. Smith, whose contract situation has dragged on all offseason, inked the contract just before Cincinnati’s pick of Bernard.
With Tyler Eifert, the Bengals’ first-round pick, and Bernard as added weapons and Smith locked up to protect the quarterback, Andy Dalton really has no excuses on the offensive side of the ball. The weapons and the protection are there.
Is Dalton the long-term guy? He needs to get over the hump and win a playoff game in 2013.
5. Patrick Peterson, All-World ‘Badger Sitter’? Tyrann Mathieu, one of the Draft’s most intriguing prospects, had quite the week.
On Wednesday, a flier was tweeted out promoting his NFL Draft party for Thursday night, indicating that he was a first-round pick. He turned to Twitter and said he didn’t tweet that out and the party was quickly canceled. He also went at it with NFL Network analyst and former NFL GM Charley Casserly over Twitter, responding to a negative Casserly tweet about him by tweeting, “Some things you never forget.”
On Friday, he went to one of the best places possible — Arizona. Mathieu’s been living with the family of college teammate and Cardinals All-Pro Patrick Peterson and will have a big brother of sorts by his side during the 2013 season and beyond.
Additionally, as Adam Schefter reported Friday night, Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ step-daughter has dated “The Honey Badger” in the past. Mathieu has reportedly agreed to take a weekly drug test with the Cardinals, as well. He knows he doesn’t have much room for mistakes. Hopefully, he can just play some football. That’s where I have my concerns. Character issues aside, I’m not sure he’s an NFL cornerback.
6. It’s time for Jake Locker to put it together. If he doesn’t, the Titans could be drafting a QB in the first round in 2014.
Entering Year 3 in Tennessee, 2011 first-round quarterback Jake Locker has no more excuses. It’s time. The Titans have gone above and beyond to give him offensive tools and protection this offseason. In addition to a first-round receiver in Kendall Wright last year, the Titans added Shonn Greene, Kevin Walter, Delanie Walker and a Pro Bowl caliber offensive guard in Andy Levitre this offseason. They added another protector, road-paver Chance Warmack, on Thursday and went out and traded up to get University of Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter on Friday. That’s a lot of help. It’s time for Jake Locker to step it up and deliver on being a top 10 pick.
7. Jerry Jones got his 6-year, $108 million man some weapons.
The Cowboys loaded up with a cadre of offensive players to support their 32-year-old franchise quarterback over the course of the Draft’s first two days.
Jerry and Stephen Jones and Co. took Baylor wide receiver Terrence Williams with the No. 74 pick that they got in the first-round trade with the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday. Williams joined Travis Frederick and tight end Gavin Escobar as three offensive players being selected with Dallas’ first three picks of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Williams was a stud at Baylor last year, catching 97 passes for 1,832 yards, averaging 18.9 yards, with 12 touchdowns. That’s without Robert Griffin III, Josh Gordon or Kendall Wright in the lineup.
Escobar, meanwhile, is a bit less of a proven entity. In two seasons at San Diego State, he only started 11 games.
"It’s all based on the scheme," Escobar said when asked about his lack of starts. "There’s different packages I might be in, and, also, the start of the game might not really be when the tight end is playing the majority of the downs."
8. Manti Te’o will face off against a familiar foe every day in practice in San Diego.
Te’o, a second-round prospect with a lot more media attention than most second-round picks in NFL history, was taken by the San Diego Chargers. San Diego’s first round selection? Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker.
You may recall Fluker and his teammate (and current Tennessee Titan) Chance Warmack dominating Te’o in the 2012 BCS Championship Game. Te’o’s nightmare four months of speculation and prodding are finally over. He joins a good organization with a strong defensive coordinator in John Pagano. How he’ll fare as a pro will be awfully interesting.
Hopefully, better than he fared in that game against Fluker.
9. The Giants are building from the inside out.
While New York’s other franchise owned headlines with the Geno Smith pick, the Giants did what the Giants tend to do in April — stuck to their board and selected the top players on it.
New York’s offensive line was beefed up on Thursday with the selection of Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh.
On Friday, they beefed up the pass rush and defensive line in taking Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and Texas A&M sack master Damontre Moore. Giants fans who are excited with the picks should be. Moore was expected to be a late first, early second-round selection as recent as the Combine. After subpar workouts, he slipped to the third round, going to New York 81st overall.
On Hankins, Jerry Reese said: "He can snap some heads back with his initial contact.". On the 20-year-old (yes, 20) Moore, the GM explained, "You can’t pass on guys with those kind of sack numbers.” No, you can’t. Especially after losing Chris Canty, Michael Boley and Osi Umenyiora over the past few months.
10. The Jaguars are starting to look like Seahawks South.
Gus Bradley wasted no time building this team like the team he worked for up in the Pacific Northwest.
The team got a road paving, no-nonsense franchise left tackle on Thursday and added two very dynamic defensive backs on Friday. Johnathan Cyprien is a six-foot, 217-pound do-everything safety who can both lay the wood and provide strong coverage against the pass. Many teams had him listed as a first round safety. When he fell to 33, Bradley pounced. I may like the third-round selection, Dwayne Gratz out of Connecticut, even more. Gratz reminds me a bit of Casey Hayward, the standout rookie for the Packers in 2012. He’s a ball hawk with the ability to cover bigger receivers.
Jacksonville was quiet throughout the free agency signing period and coach Gus Bradley has been very open about being okay with undrafted rookies competing with veterans for starting spots. He picked up three guys ready to go to battle in the first two days.