Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft was bananas. Day 2 didn't include any seismic news from the reigning MVP, but we still learned a lot about where teams are headed in 2021. On to the winners and losers from Friday!
Jets QB Zach Wilson: 2018 No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold couldn't play the guitar in New Jersey, in part because of his supporting talent. Jets general manager Joe Douglas is doing everything possible to make sure that doesn't happen to Wilson after he was taken No. 2 overall on Thursday. Slot receiver Elijah Moore was taken No. 34, adding to a quietly impressive receiver group that includes Corey Davis, Denzel Mims, Keelan Cole and tight end Chris Herndon. It's worth wondering if trusty slot receiver Jamison Crowder will even be on the team in Week 1, because Moore has a similar skillset with more explosiveness.
Douglas also used the third-round pick he obtained from the Seahawks in last year's Jamal Adams trade (along with the Jets' own third-round pick, No. 66) to move up for guard Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first round, providing an extra layer of protection for Wilson. Moore was Douglas' only pick on Day 2, with the Jets choosing quality over quantity so far in coach Robert Saleh's first year at the helm. Despite Saleh's defensive background, the Jets are all about supporting Wilson. Darnold may be watching in Carolina and wondering why the Jets waited so long.
The Broncos' self-confidence: I liked everything about the Broncos' offseason -- until the draft started. Once that happened, they started making selections like a defending Super Bowl champion instead of a five-win team. On Thursday, they passed on quarterbacks Justin Fields and Mac Jones to draft cornerback Patrick Surtain II ninth overall despite already having four quality players at the position in a cornerback-friendly scheme, including three big free-agent pickups in the last two years.
On Friday, they traded up to draft UNC running back Javonte Williams with the No. 35 pick. Williams was my favorite running back in this class, and I'm looking forward to watching him run alongside Melvin Gordon on a loaded Broncos offense. But after Denver gave Phillip Lindsay away for nothing, this was a cherry-on-top-of-the-sundae pick by a team that still had other needs. (Especially at quarterback!) Yes, this is my delayed griping about passing on Fields, but I'm worried that an otherwise loaded roster is going to be held back by incumbent QB Drew Lock.
The above two paragraphs will self-destruct if the Broncos somehow land Aaron Rodgers, which I do not expect to happen.
The Dan Campbell culture taking over in Detroit: I had an idea that Campbell would take big uglies with attitude in his first draft as the Lions' head coach. Second-round pick Levi Onwuzurike (No. 41 overall), a nasty defensive tackle, fits the bill.
"I like to f--- people up. I like to get off the line and just put my helmet or my hands on an offensive lineman and f--- up an offensive scheme, pretty much. I like pushing 'em back 2, 3 yards and just making 'em feel like s--," Onwuzurike told the Detroit media.
The Lions' first three picks, including offensive tackle Penei Sewell and defensive tackle Alim McNeill, weigh a combined 938 pounds.
The Browns' defense: Between free agency and the draft, Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry has transformed the defense with authority. Trading up to snag instinctive Notre Dame cover linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah late in the second round was a coup after Owusu-Koramoah's tape earned him a spot as Daniel Jeremiah's 15th-ranked player overall. Berry's daughter was born on Thursday, so he's had an incredible couple of days.
Patrick Mahomes' comfort: At the risk of ignoring the rest of the roster, the Chiefs are absolutely determined not to allow Mahomes' pass protection to fall apart again. After trading a first-round pick to the Ravens for tackle Orlando Brown Jr., the team used its original second-round pick (No. 63 overall) on center Creed Humphrey.
Since the season ended, the Chiefs have added Brown, Humphrey, big-ticket guard Joe Thuney, former Pro Bowler Kyle Long and center Austin Blythe to their offensive line. Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and last year's draft pick at tackle, Lucas Niang (a third-round pick), also return after opting out in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chiefs suddenly have more linemen than they know what to do with!
Dave Gettleman proving everyone wrong: The Giants' general manager was 0-for-54 trading back as a general manager until the 2021 NFL Draft -- then he did it twice in a row! The move back in the second round looked even better after the Giants landed pass rusher Azeez Ojulari at No. 50, who is a terrific fit that fills a huge need in New York. He'll have a chance to start right away.
The NFL's open-mindedness about weight: One day after Heisman trophy winner DeVonta Smith was drafted with a top-10 pick despite recently weighing in under 170 pounds, the Rams selected 155-pound speedster Tutu Atwell in the second round. Let's promote body diversity!
The Miami Dolphins: Before I finished my winners, I just wanted to give a shout out to the Dolphins. They had five picks in the first three rounds, and they all made sense, filling needs with upside, explosive athleticism and versatility. Coach Brian Flores and GM Chris Grier have spearheaded a dramatic, impressive rebuilding job with a lot of turnover and a roster now built in their image.
The Cowboys' best-laid plans, again: One day after the Cowboys traded out of their first-round pick because the top two cornerbacks were off the board, they may have been burned again. Raiders GM Mike Mayock traded up one spot ahead of the Cowboys in the second round, to No. 43 overall, reportedly intending to steal TCU safety Trevon Moehrig from Dallas. The aggressive fist-bumping by the Cowboys' brain trust after selecting cornerback Kelvin Joseph at No. 44 looked like overcompensating for the camera.
Moehrig dropped because of an injury suffered in recent workouts, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, which helps explain how someone who registered as a top-20 talent on Daniel Jeremiah's board fell so hard. If Raiders fans want to feel better about Thursday's first-round pick, Alex Leatherwood, they can just imagine Moehrig went to Las Vegas in Round 1, and that Leatherwood was part of the endless run on tackles in Round 2!
Larry Fitzgerald's chances of returning to the Cardinals: The status of the greatest Cardinal of them all has been an awkward subject. The team has said publicly it wants to give the 37-year-old Fitzgerald time to make a decision on retirement, but the Cardinals' actions have made it clear they've moved on. If signing A.J. Green didn't convince you, the drafting of second-round slot receiver Rondale Moore on Friday night should. Moore's presence could also threaten Andy Isabella, a previous second-round draft pick by Kliff Kingsbury who has not produced in two seasons.
Kirk Cousins' job security: Third-round pick Kellen Mond probably won't threaten Cousins' job in Minnesota in 2021. The team needed a backup quarterback, but it also needed an insurance policy if it chooses to pull the ripcord on Cousins eventually. Mond will provide another option and offer a talking point for the Minnesota media, although Cousins' ex-teammate Robert Griffin III beat everyone to the punch.
"I can tell you right now No. 8 in Minnesota is probably not real happy right now because Kellen Mond represents exactly what he doesn't do well," Griffin said on Bleacher Report. "Cousins has been collecting checks there in Minnesota for a long time."
The Texans' communication skills: Houston's first pick of the draft didn't come until the top of the third round because previous showrunner Bill O'Brien traded the picks away to Miami for left tackle Laremy Tunsil. Houston drafted Stanford quarterback Davis Mills, which made sense, with Deshaun Watson's status in limbo. It made less sense that, according to NFL Network's Peter Schrager, Mills had no idea he was the selection until he saw his name called on TV. If Mills was on Twitter, he could have learned that he was possibly the Texans' new quarterback of the future a few minutes earlier!