2024 NFL Draft Day 2 Takeaways: Eagles, Steelers shine, no love for QBs

Western Michigan v Iowa
Western Michigan v Iowa / Matthew Holst/GettyImages

100 picks down and still 157 more to go. Day 2 was a wild one, with trades early and often shaking up the second and third rounds. There were some head-scratching moves, some genius trades and a few surprising trends. Let's break down everything that happened on Friday and take a look at the best players still available heading into Saturday.

Falcons pass on Jer'Zhan Newton
Newton sliding out of the first round was already a bit of a surprise. For him to not be the first defensive tackle taken in the second round is simply stunning. The Falcons selected Ruke Orhorhoro instead, trading up to take him. Newton wound up going with the next pick, which was also a confusing selection for a Washington team that has plenty of talent on the interior of the offensive line, but needs help on the edge after trading away Montez Sweat and Chase Young. Maybe the bottom line is that Atlanta just has a different board than everyone else in the league at this point.

Defensive tackles fly off the board
Byron Murphy was the only true defensive tackle to come off the board in Round 1. Darius Robinson was a bit of a tweener. However, the run on defensive tackles got started early. I already talked about Orhorhoro and Newton. T'Vondre Sweat and Braden Fiske joined them almost immediately afterwards in the top 40. Maason Smith and Kris Jenkins worked their way into the top 50. Michael Hall went to the Browns at 54. Clearly, the league is doubling down on the value they place on these disruptive interior defensive linemen.

Eagles completely revamp their secondary
Philadelphia was patient in Round 1, letting Quinyon Mitchell fall into their lap at No. 22 overall. They were not waiting around for a similar lucky break in Round 2. The Eagles made a significant move up with the Commanders to take Cooper DeJean and end his slide. Clearly, Howie Roseman wanted to turn the secondary into a strength. DeJean played corner in college, but it is easy to project a move to safety at the next level. He could also wind up playing in the slot as well. Bringing back C.J. Gardner-Johnson gives the Eagles the ultimate flexibility. A secondary featuring Darius Slay, Mitchell, DeJean, Gardner-Johnson, James Bradberry, Reed Blankenship, Sydney Brown, Kelee Ringo and Eli Ricks is one of the deepest and most talented groups in the entire league.

Panthers trade down, then back up for a running back
Carolina is clearly determined to get more offensive talent in place around Bryce Young. That being said, I don't think many expected them maneuvering the board to draft a running back was in the cards. Jonathan Brooks is a really talented runner, but he is coming off a torn ACL. He could wind up being the lead back in Carolina, but the Panthers still have Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders under contract. It was an aggressive move for a team with plenty of other needs at tight end, corner, linebacker and edge rusher.

Steelers turn offensive line into a strength
Pittsburgh has spent years getting by with mid-round picks and generally average play across their offensive line. Clearly, Omar Khan is determined to change that in the Steel City. The Steelers drafted Broderick Jones in the first round in 2023, who seems set to be the team's starting right tackle for the future. In 2024, he double-dipped on the offensive line to open the draft. Troy Fautanu was joined by Zach Frazier on Day 2, giving Pittsburgh two new starters on the offensive line for the 2024 season. The unit, which figures to still feature Isaac Seumalo and James Daniels, suddenly Russell Wilson is set to play behind one of the better offensive lines in the league.

Adonai Mitchell falls out of the top 50
Whatever you may have thought about Mitchell heading into the draft, it was a bit of a shock to see him slide out of the top 50. Mitchell had a really strong career, playing in five career playoff games across three seasons at Georgia and Texas. He tested fantastic as well at the combine, posting an absurd 4.34 40-yard dash after measuring in at 6'2.5". None of that points to a player that slides to the middle of the second round. Inconsistent effort and questionable motor are the most likely cause of Mitchell's fall. He lands in a great situation for him to change the narrative. Shane Steichen is a fantastic offensive coach. If he can get the most out of Mitchell, this Colts offense featuring Michael Pittman Jr., Josh Downs, Jonathan Taylor and Anthony Richardson is going to be very difficult to defend.

Jets get Rodgers another weapon
Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh got the memo: improve the offense. Douglas went to work in free agency, signing Tyron Smith, John Simpson and Mike Williams while trading for Morgan Moses. New York needed some depth behind these aging veterans. So far they have found it. Olu Fashanu will be the heir apparent to Smith at left tackle. Third-round pick Malachi Corley gives the Jets another receiver, and specifically one that should command a large majority of the snaps out of the slot. Corley is a former running back who has drawn comparisons to Deebo Samuel. That is a bit rich, but Corley should be an instant-impact player.

Seahawks land potential starter in the third round
Seattle did sign Laken Tomlinson in the past couple weeks, but those of us who regularly do mock drafts and assess team needs know that for a little while there, Ourlads did not have a left guard listed for the Seahawks. Christian Haynes played right guard at UConn, but I imagine he will head into training camp competing for one of the two starting guard spots. He was great for the Huskies, making 49 career starts. He is pro-ready and should boost Seattle's offensive line immediately.

National champs take over Day 2
Michigan had an exciting, but relatively short night on Thursday in terms of celebrating former players moving on to the NFL. J.J. McCarthy went No. 10 to the Vikings, but he was the only player selected. Day 2 changed that. Kris Jenkins and Mike Sainristil went with back-to-back picks in the second round. Junior Colson reunited with Jim Harbaugh in Los Angeles early in the third round and then three former Wolverines went off the board in a row. Blake Corum, Roman Wilson and Zach Zinter all went in succession. They are tied with Washington for the most players selected through three rounds.

Packers continue to cause confusion
Trying to understand what the Packers are doing on draft day is a fool's errand. Green Bay entered the draft in need of some secondary help. They drafted Jonathan Bullard out of Georgia in the second round, a defensive back with the ability to play safety or in the slot. However, they kept passing on cornerbacks, instead opting to draft two off-ball linebackers and a running back. The Packers needed a linebacker, but doubling up so soon was a bit of a surprise. Drafting Marshawn Lloyd after signing Josh Jacobs and bringing back A.J. Dillon was unexpected as well, but this front office has shown that they value the position more highly than the league as a whole. Let me be clear, I don't think the Packers have had a bad draft so far, it is just not at all what we would have expected heading into the weekend.

No quarterbacks taken on Day 2
This quarterback class was perceived as top-heavy from the start, especially once players like Shedeur Sanders, Carson Beck and Cam Ward all returned to school. That being said, I think most people expected to see at least one quarterback sneak into Day 2 of the draft. There were many who expected Michael Penix Jr. or Bo Nix to be on the board when the second round started, but both went in the top 12. Spencer Rattler was the leading candidate to hear his name called at some point on Day 2 once Penix and Nix were off the board, but the former Oklahoma protege is still waiting heading into Saturday. I anticipate him coming off the board early in Round 4, possibly to the Giants at 107, the Jets at 111 or the Raiders at 112. Michael Pratt and nearly a dozen more signal callers are in the mix to be selected on Day 3 along with Rattler.

Best players available
T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State
Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon
Jaden Hicks, S, Washington State
Ja'Tavion Sanders, TE, Texas
Cade Stover, TE, Ohio State
Cam Hart, CB, Notre Dame
Cedric Gray, LB, UNC
Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina
Javon Baker, WR, UCF
Brendan Rice, WR, USC

There are some surprising names on this list. Let's start with T.J. Tampa. ESPN's consensus board had him 46th overall. PFF had him at 51. Daniel Jeremiah had him at 84. Dane Brugler had him at 55. For him to still be available at 101 is truly head-scratching. It's not like corners have not gone either. 13 have already come off the board. I imagine his wait on Day 3 will be short, but I don't think anyone anticipated him making it through the third round.

Troy Franklin falls into a similar category. The former Oregon star was ranked 73rd, 29th, 76th and 58th by ESPN, PFF, Jeremiah and Brugler respectively. Needless to say, his range was expected to be mid-second to early third. You have to wonder if his lighter weight profile (5th percentile) or his smaller hands (9th percentile) pushed him down boards for NFL teams.

Otherwise, there are a couple of tight ends I really like that should be in the mix as quality TE2s on NFL rosters with the potential to be mid-tier starters in the future in Sanders and Stover. Hicks is an exciting safety prospect with untapped potential. Hart is a long, physical corner like Tampa who has CB2 potential at the next level. Gray was a Senior Bowl standout who will find his way onto the field early. Rattler, as I talked about above, is the most intriguing quarterback remaining. Rice and Baker will be solid contributors at the next level.