Day 2 of the 2012 NFL Draft might not have had the same star wattage as Day 1, but it was just as interesting. First round selections are the ones that sell the jerseys in August, but it’s the Day 2 guys who help you win Super Bowls in February. Here were 10 storylines from Friday night’s second and third rounds:
1. The Jets love their projects: The Jets are like a desperate housewife in the suburbs or a restless 7-year-old kid — they always need a project. In addition to taking Quinton Coples in the first round on Thursday — a guy who’s pre-draft rep was the plague of playing below expectations — New York traded up four spots to grab 6-foot-4 wide receiver Stephen Hill on Friday.
Hill, a starter at Georgia Tech, played in a triple option offense. The result? A whopping 49 career receptions. But, he is a speedster, and his 4.36 40-yard dash time in Indianapolis left scouts impressed.
The Jets then grabbed linebacker Demario Davis, an outside pass rusher out of Arkansas State, in the third round. All three picks are classic Jets selections: boom or bust. The Gang Green contingent in Radio City Music Hall is certainly hoping for the former.
2. The Colts go the BFF route: Some draftniks had Coby Fleener listed as a top 20 talent. The Colts went out and got Andrew Luck’s top target and good buddy at Stanford in the second round with the 34th overall pick. Fleener’s great. A 6-foot-6, 250 pound tight end who wowed scouts with a blazing 40 time at his pro day, he’ll immediately become Luck’s No. 1 option in the Indianapolis offense.
In the Kevin Bacon portion of the NFL Draft — I present you this "Three Degrees of Separation" scenario: Jim Harbaugh coached Luck and Fleener in college at Stanford. Chuck Pagano coached under Jim Harbaugh’s brother John in Baltimore. Chuck Pagano will coach Luck and Fleener in the pros.
3. The Rams are building a team … finally: After years of questionable selections and terrible records, the new Rams brass made a splash in the draft’s first two nights by trading back, loading up, and filling the roster out.
Consider this: Steven Jackson has rushed for 1,000 yards or more in each of the past seven seasons. In that time span, the Rams have gone a combined 22-83.
Team VP Kevin Demoff, general manger Les Snead and new head coach Jeff Fisher traded back twice in the first round (from 2 to 6 to 14), and traded back again on Friday night. In the end, they stockpiled picks for this year and the future, and got some very talented players on Day 2.
Brian Quick, though not as highly publicized as other wideouts taken on Friday, had a big career at Appalachian State and impressed the Rams in workouts. He’ll likely be expected to step into a No. 1 1 or 2 wideout role for Sam Bradford immediately.
In Janoris Jenkins, they get one of the top man-to-man cover cornerbacks in the entire draft. You know the deal with Jenkins — great player on the field, but very questionable off it. He was kicked off the University of Florida team for multiple incidents with marijuana, and he is the father of four children from three different women. He says he’s matured. The Rams certainly hope so.
In the third round, the Rams took a guy I had rated as a top 50 player, Trumaine Johnson out of Montana. Johnson played with Jeff Fisher’s son in college. Demoff, Snead and Co. are loading up. The Rams could be relevant again soon. Maybe.
4. Ben Roethlisberger is a very happy (and much safer) man: The Steelers struck gold when they drafted Maurkice Pouncey in 2010. With Pouncey injured and out of the lineup in 2011, the line struggled. Ben Roethlisberger took a beating last season, getting sacked 40 times and evading about 40 more.
The Steelers went out and drafted David DeCastro, the top guard — and arguably the top offensive lineman — in the draft with the 24th overall pick on Thursday. On Friday, they grabbed Mike Adams, a highly decorated left tackle out of Ohio State, with the 56th overall pick.
Multiple scouts told me Adams had the most "NFL-ready" frame of any tackle in this draft, but off-the-field issues (tattoo situation at Ohio State, a failed combine drug test) knocked him down some teams’ boards. For what it’s worth, I had the Steelers grabbing Adams in the first round of my seven-round mock draft. They got him at 56.
5. Peyton gets a protégé: The Broncos traded out of the first round on Thursday night and drafted a collection of intriguing picks on Friday. After selecting defensive end Derek Wolfe from Cincinnati with the 36th overall pick, they got 6-foot-7 quarterback Brock Osweiler out of Arizona State.
Osweiler, a tower of a young man, will become the tallest quarterback in the NFL since Dan McGwire was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 1991. Osweiler only started one season for the Sun Devils, but he was productive. ASU didn’t win too many games, but Osweiler threw for 4,026 yards and tossed 26 touchdowns. In addition to Peyton Manning, he’ll have a guy named John Elway in his ear. This all bodes well for Brock Osweiler’s future.
"I can’t be any more excited to learn from Peyton,” Osweiler said. “Some quarterbacks may be disappointed in that, but I can learn from one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game." Great approach from the former Gonzaga basketball recruit.
6. The Jaguars are just a punter away from being competitive: Apparently, that’s the feeing in Jacksonville these days. Maybe all the praise over the Justin Blackmon pick on Thursday night went to the heads of the Jags’ front office. On Friday, with spots to fill all over their roster, the Jaguars selected a punter — yes, a punter — with their third round pick.
Don’t get me wrong, punters like Andy Lee and Shane Lechler are valuable players — but the third round? Jacksonville has other needs.
7. The Eagles pick up some D, more D, and a little more D: If Eagles fans were perplexed with their team’s defensive effort during the 2011 season, Philadelphia brass addressed their concerns on Thursday and Friday night.
After taking defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in the first round on Thursday night, Philadelphia went defense/defense with its first two selections on Friday. Vinny Curry is a menacing pass rusher off the edge out of Marshall and Mychal Kendricks, an instinctive 5-11 inside linebacker out of California, is an immediate upgrade over Casey Matthews inside. With all this new talent, defensive coordinator Juan Castillo can’t afford to have his unit start slow out of the gates like it did in 2011.
8. Jeff Ireland! Not a bad job! Who knew?!: Public Enemy No. 1 among Dolphins fans, general manager Jeff Ireland had a really nice Thursday and Friday night, picking up a host of players who can step up and contribute.
After taking the future franchise quarterback in Ryan Tannehill in Round 1, the Dolphins scooped up Stanford lineman Jonathan Martin, a "first round talent" with the 42nd overall pick on Friday. Martin, an athletic and smart tackle (both his parents are Harvard-educated), watched Andrew Luck’s blindside for Luck’s three years in Palo Alto.
With the 72nd pick, the Dolphins grabbed a talented defensive end/outside linebacker in Olivier Vernon out of the University of Miami. Vernon missed several games with an NCAA suspension, but is an excellent edge rusher who can make a splash at the next level.
Michael Egnew, the team’s second third round pick, isn’t much of a blocker, but was once considered the top receiving tight end in all of college football. Blaine Gabbert’s number one target at Missouri, Egnew caught 90 balls in 2010. He’ll get on the field and cause problems for opposing defenses.
9. Ozzie the wizard: Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta, the braintrust behind the Baltimore Ravens’ greatness, did what they do — they drafted tremendously on Friday night.
After trading out of the first round on Thursday, they got a first round talent in outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw with the 35th overall pick. Upshaw was as high as top 15 on some teams’ boards and was the MVP of the BCS National Championship Game. I spoke to Upshaw at Radio City on Friday night, and though he was upset that he fell to the second round, he was thrilled with his ultimate destination.
“I mean, it’s Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs … It’s going to be a great experience to go and play under those guys or play with those guys,” Upshaw said. “I mean, really, I’m just at a loss of words to be actually drafted now, and I’m ready to just get back to the football part.” The Ravens lost longtime linebacker Jarret Johnson to the Chargers in free agency this offseason. Upshaw could be even better.
After the Upshaw coup, Baltimore grabbed Kelechi Osemele, a 333-pound guard who was an all-conference offensive tackle in college. Osemele provides depth, youth, and more talent to an already strong offensive line.
With its third pick of the night, Baltimore got some insurance at running back with Bernard Pierce, a do-everything back out of Temple. Three swings, three hits. It’s the Baltimore way.
10. Remember the big dogs of the Sunshine State?: Florida International and University of Central Florida each had players selected on Friday night. Florida and Florida State, however, did not. My, how the times have certainly changed.