It was an exciting Day 2 at the NFL Draft as we saw the Steelers grab the son of a former Steeler great, the Titans took another swing at Tannehill’s replacement, and the Raiders found a replacement for Darren Waller. I touched on some of the most head-scratching picks from Day 2 this morning, but here are some of the most underrated picks from Rounds 2 and 3!
Atlanta grabs the potential heir to Jake Matthews
Pick 38: Matthew Bergeron, OL, Syracuse
Matthew Bergeron was a name that picked up steam late in the process and there was a ton of buzz that he could hear his name called on Thursday night. He had to wait until Friday, but Atlanta grabbed one of my favorite players left on the board.
Berergon was a four-year starter at LT and RT at Syracuse, but we could see him kick inside to guard to start his career but don’t rule him out as the potential LT of the future. He’s a work in progress in pass protection, which could be why he ended up in the second round, but he really shines in the run game.
Arthur Smith loves to run the ball and they just used the 8th overall pick on Bijan Robinson. While offensive line is never the sexy pick, Bergeron should be able to help open up running lanes for Robinson and Tyler Allgeier for the next several years.
Giants fortify the interior of their offensive line
Pick 57: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
John Michael Schmitz was a player that I thought the Giants could look to target in the first round at 25 or in a potential trade-down spot. To be able to grab him in the back half of Round 2 is such great value.
Michael Schmitz was a four-year starter at Minnesota and should be a plug-and-play starter for the Giants. He’s an incredibly smart player and Jim Nagy, Senior Bowl Director, had nothing but good things to say about him and his ability to contribute right away.
The Giants struggled along the offensive line for years. Now they’ve spent two first-round picks in their tackles and a second-round pick on a center to protect the investment they made in Daniel Jones this offseason. Add in the pick of Jalin Hyatt in the third round and it was a home-run day for the Giants.
Bengals take another versatile defensive back from Michigan
Pick 60: DJ Turner, CB, Michigan
Last year the Bengals spent a first-round pick on Daxton Hill, a chess piece for Lou Anarumo in the secondary. In the back half of Round 2 this year, they added another versatile piece in DJ Turner.
While Turner likely won’t be able to play safety like Hill, he can play inside and out at the cornerback position. Turner was the faster guy at the combine and you can see his all-around athleticism on film. While he’s not short, he is very lean, which could give him some issues with more physical receivers, but he’s able to overcome it most of the time with his football IQ and plus-athleticism.
The Bengals have done a fantastic job of letting the board fall to them as I think they got great value in Myles Murphy in the first round and Turner and Jordan Battle on Day 2. As the Bengals head towards signing Burrow to a mega contract, these value picks are going to play important roles on this defense in the future.
Denver grabs another Day 2 hybrid LB
Pick 67: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
Drew Sanders in the third round will be in consideration for my biggest steal of the draft. I would’ve loved to see Dan Quinn get his hands on Sanders, but Denver has taken a liking to these tweener linebackers that can come off the edge like Baron Browning and Nik Bonitto.
Sanders was a five-star athlete that committed to Alabama before transferring to Arkansas for his junior season and found his footing as an off-ball linebacker/pass rusher. In his first season as a full-time starter, Sanders racked up 103 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 6 pass deflections, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception.
If you just ask him to be an off-ball linebacker, you’re leaving a lot of potential on the table as he needs to improve his take-on skills and could use some work in coverage. If you use him in a role like Minnesota did with Anthony Barr for many years, this could be one of the biggest values of not just Day 2, but the entire draft.
San Francisco trades up to join the party on Day 2
Pick 87: Ji’Ayir Brown, S, Penn St.
It took until the 87th pick for San Francisco to make their first pick, but I think they found a player that will make a big impact on their defense. After Demeco Ryans took Jimmie Ward to Houston with him, there was a hole left in the back end of this defense.
Ji’Ayir Brown played all over the field for the Nittany Lions as he played centerfield, down in the box, and in the slot. He didn’t test as well at the combine as many expected, but his instincts help him play much faster. In two seasons as a starter, Brown had 18 pass deflections and 10 interceptions.
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Maybe he’ll never be an All-Pro safety, but I think Brown has the potential to be a starting safety in the league for a long time. I didn’t love San Francisco’s next pick (Jake Moody), but I’m all about the Brown pick.