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2020 NFL Draft: D'Andre Swift among Day 2's top value picks

After Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft, I used my model that predicts future player performance to identify the five best value picks from the first round. Now that we've wrapped Rounds 2 and 3, I've analyzed each of the 74 picks from Friday night to determine the five best Day 2 values.

Drafted No. 36 overall (Round 2).

He's listed as a safety, but McKinney also played nickel linebacker and was an effective blitzer while at Alabama. One of my favorite notes on him: When defending slot pass catchers, he prevented completions at the second-best rate (24.4 percent, per my computer vision) among safeties in this draft class. As far as his fit with the Giants goes, McKinney represents exceptional value for New York because his versatility will help improve a defense that ranked 27th in computer-vision-measured pressures and tied for the third-most big plays allowed (122).

Drafted No. 54 overall (Round 2).

Epenesa was the 20th overall player on my neutral-fit model, which ranks players independent of landing spot. But put him on the Bills roster ... and yikes for AFC East QBs. Buffalo's defense ranked in the top 10 in all the predictive metrics that I track last year without Epenesa, so the rich get richer. The Iowa edge rusher's 58 QB pressures led the Big Ten last season, per PFF. He could have easily gone in the first round, so to fall to Pick No. 54 and to this team, offers significant value. The Bills' stacked defense should enhance his positives and help mask his still-developing traits. As of right now -- at the end of Day 2 (and admittedly way too early) -- the Bills are my model's AFC East favorite with Epenesa helping to increase that margin of victory.

Drafted No. 35 overall (Round 2).

My model has Swift rated as the No. 1 RB in the 2020 draft. The Georgia back's college tape showed exceptional production that forecasts for a short learning curve in his transition to the NFL. No running back in this class was able to help his team stay ahead of the chains when contacted on rushing downs more than Swift (7 percent more than the next-closest back, per my computer vision tracking); considering the number of inside rushes he attempted, this stat is especially impressive. His computer-vision-tracked route running (second-best in my model) and receiving efficiency (just 3 drops on 76 targets, per PFF) add high-probability versatility to the Lions' offense -- a unit that ranked 27th in rushing first down percentage (20.1 percent) and was not a source, or threat, of big plays in 2019. Take a deep breath, Lions fans, there's legit reason for hope in the run game.

Drafted No. 61 overall (Round 2).

Snagging my model's 24th-best overall player and third-ranked corner at Pick No. 61 is a big windfall for the Titans. Fulton had 20 forced incompletions in 2019 at LSU (tied for most in the FBS, per PFF) and his 44.9 completion percentage allowed in coverage was a top-20 mark. My computer vision adds that he has experience and high-level production against every route in the route tree, as well.

Tennessee and Indianapolis are the (way too) early favorites to take the division, per my model. For the Titans -- and its rising offense -- to stave off the Colts and the reigning AFC South champs Texans, they'll have to continue reinforcing a defense that will feature a new defensive play caller and figures to face a lot of passes late in games.

Drafted No. 72 overall (Round 3).

Jones was the No. 5 tackle in my neutral-fit model. For a team with a significant need at OT like the Cardinals to achieve this value in the third round is a massive win. Jones has a slightly higher projected value in pass protection than as a run blocker, per my model, based on how his game speed reactions as a four-year starter map to historical reference points. Arizona got the steal of the free agency period, when they traded for DeAndre Hopkins, and now they get a solid protector for Kyler Murray at a bargain price.

Honorable mentions (listed in the order they were selected):Jaylon Johnson, CB, Chicago Bears (Round 2, No. 50 overall); J.K. Dobbins , RB, Baltimore Ravens (Round 2, No. 55); Denzel Mims, WR, New York Jets (Round 2, No. 59); Zack Baun, LB, New Orleans Saints (Round 3, No. 74).

Follow Cynthia Frelund on Twitter @cfrelund.

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