In a draft that will be defined by overeager trades for quarterbacks, Cleveland Browns executive vice president Sashi Brown didn’t force a pick on a passer. Instead, he waited for perhaps the most talented signal-caller in the draft to fall all the way to No. 52.
There’s no telling if Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer will be the man to end the Browns‘ quarterback curse or if he’ll just be another named crossed out on the back of a T-shirt, but at least the process to acquire Kizer was on point.
The Browns should be in the business of drafting a quarterback every season until they find one, with trades and free agency providing more options. Call it the “spaghetti against the wall” approach that worked so well for the Seahawks after they stumbled onto Russell Wilson in Round 3 of the 2012 draft after rolling through veterans Charlie Whitehurst, Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Flynn. The Browns weren’t ready to go all-in on Kizer, or they would have taken him in the first round. But his talent was worth taking a shot on for value.
Kizer has the size, athleticism and arm strength to potentially succeed in the AFC North under Hue Jackson’s tutelage. And, after all, Kizer was still just the fourth of the Browns‘ five selections in the first 65 picks. The team has similarly incredible capital in next year’s draft to find a premium quarterback. The regular season remains a work in progress in Cleveland, but draft time is Sashi time until further notice.
The rest of Day 2’s winners, losers and instant impact players are below
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: The Chargers are doing everything possible to make their franchise quarterback comfortable. After taking a deep threat Thursday in Clemson’s Mike Williams, the Chargers continued to try to fix their offensive line Friday by selecting two guards: Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp and Indiana’s Dan Feeney. Lamp was a Mike Mayock favorite, who could wind up playing center.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers: Get drafted by Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and watch the yards and money eventually pour in. Just ask previous Colbert picks, such as Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Martavis Bryant and Mike Wallace. Smith-Schuster, a late second-round pick from USC, may not play much right away, but he landed in an ideal spot. Bryant, for one, wasn’t worried that Smith-Schuster was coming on his corner.
Green Bay’s secondary: So much for general manager Ted Thompson ignoring need for “best player available.” The woeful Packers pass defense needed help and got it quickly. Washington cornerback Kevin King, the first pick of the second round, has prototypical size to play man coverage and possesses terrific ball skills. Third-round safety Josh Jones is another very athletic player who also covers slot defenders.
Niners GM John Lynch, again: The new 49ers general manager keeps winning. He picked up the Saints‘ 2018 second-round pick (and a seventh-round pick) in exchange for his third-rounder. While the Saints sell out for this season, Lynch is thinking long term like a veteran.
Seattle’s line play: It wasn’t a surprise that Seahawks general manager John Schneider used the first two of his six (!) picks Friday to get bigger upfront. Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell has top-five talent, and Pete Carroll is just the coach to squeeze that talent out of him. Center Ethan Pocic from LSU fills a huge need and provides clarity to a jumbled Seahawks line. Seattle also added behemoth defensive tackle Nazair Jones to the mix late in the third round.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: Buffalo was in desperate need of another wideout and nabbed ultra-productive East Carolina product Zay Jones in the second round. Temple’s Dion Dawkins could wind up filling Buffalo’s empty right tackle spot. It should be encouraging for Taylor that new coach Sean McDermott wasn’t only focused on defense and didn’t try to draft a quarterback to replace Taylor.
Malcolm Butler jersey owners: Patriots fans should get at least one more year of use out of their No. 21 jersey. There’s little chance Butler will get traded now with only Day 3 picks left, and, as a result, New England will have one of the best cornerback combos in football with Butler and Stephon Gilmore — at least for one season.
Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula The Carolina offense grew stale last season. If Shula can’t come up with a creative attack after adding Christian McCaffrey and Ohio State RB/WR Curtis Samuel, then the Panthers need a new coordinator. Carolina also picked up offensive lineman Taylor Moton with their second pick in Round 2.
Fans of the Wu: We were overdue for a Raekwon in the NFL, as the moms who grew up listening to Wu-Tang Clan came of age. Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan went to the Dolphins in the second round, one of three straight defensive picks by Miami. Next up is hopefully a fast-talking cornerback named Ghostface Killah.
Calvin Pryor, S, New York Jets: General manager Mike Maccagnan sent a clear message by drafting strong safety Marcus Maye in the second round after selecting safety Jamal Adams in Round 1: Pryor, the Jets‘ first-round pick in 2014, will be on another team by the end of the week, if New York can find a trade partner for him.
Mark Ingram‘s fantasy owners: First, Adrian Peterson signed earlier this week to share the early-down work in New Orleans. Now, third-round pick Alvin Kamara will take some of the Saints‘ passing-down snaps — an area in which Ingram showed improvement during the 2017 season. New Orleans gave up a lot to draft Kamara, so expect the Saints‘ backfield snaps to be split three ways.
Bears fans, again: The trade for No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky on Thursday was questionable, but did he really need to be booed when he was shown on the jumbotron at Friday night’s Bulls game? It’s become an initiation rite for new Bears quarterbacks, apparently, as Mike Glennon was booed recently at a Cubs game.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants: Not only did the Giants fail to address their offensive line again on Day 2, but the team selected quarterback Davis Webb in the third round. Webb has an uphill battle to eventually succeed Manning, but it’s a sign that the team is looking ahead to life after Eli.
Day 2 picks set to make instant impact
Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: It was no surprise that the Bengals took a shot on Mixon despite his well-documented off-field issues, picking him at No. 48 overall. They didn’t draft him to sit on the bench, and the discomfort about Mixon’s status will only grow when it becomes clear how well his game translates to the next level, now that he’s been given the opportunity. As far as talent goes, Mixon was the most complete running back in this draft, and he has a good chance to immediately displace Jeremy Hill as the team’s starter.
Cam Robinson, OT, Jaguars: The Jaguars made it clear Friday night that the No. 34 overall pick will compete to start at left tackle, if recent trade acquisition Branden Albert chooses to return to the field rather than hold out for more money. This pick carried a message and it’s possible the team could just cut Albert if Robinson looks good in the offseason.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings: It turns out Latavius Murray was just a placeholder. Cook has a more complete game than Murray and could be the one in the starting lineup in Week 1 playing against Adrian Peterson and the Saints.
Winners and losers after Day 2 of the 2017 NFL Draft – NFL.com