Defense the focus of Day 2 of NFL draft

Published 11:57 pm Friday, April 26, 2024

The Associated Press

Defense became the focus of the NFL draft in the second round after a record-setting 23 offensive players were selected on Day 1.

First, the Buffalo Bills and the Los Angeles Chargers gave their star quarterbacks new wide receivers. Then, 20 of the next 30 picks Friday night were defensive players, many who slipped because of the run on quarterbacks, wide receivers and offensive tackles Thursday.

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After trading down twice and out of the first round, the Bills opened the second round by selecting Florida State’s Keon Coleman to give Josh Allen another playmaker who can help replace Stefon Diggs.

“He has everything pretty much you want in a quarterback,” Coleman said of Allen. “I’ll love to play with him.”

The Chargers, who chose Notre Dame left tackle Joe Alt over wideouts Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze with the fifth overall pick, traded up to take Georgia’s Ladd McConkey at No. 34. Justin Herbert will be counting on him to fill the void following the departures of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

“Just watching his game, it comes easy to him,” McConkey said of Herbert. “He can make any and every throw. Excited to get out there, get in rhythm with him, show him what I can do and gain his trust.”

Seven wide receivers went Thursday night, tying a record for most in the first round. Four more went in the second.

No quarterbacks were taken in the second round after a record six went in the top 12 on Thursday, including five of the first eight picks. The most receivers drafted in the first two rounds is 13 in 2020.

After Atlanta moved up to take Clemson defensive lineman Ruke Orhorhoro and Washington took Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton, New England chose Washington’s Ja’Lynn Polk to make it 10 wide receivers in the top 37. Adonai Mitchell from Texas became the 11th wideout taken when the Colts selected him at No. 52.

The Bills raised plenty of eyebrows in trading the 28th pick to AFC rival Kansas City, which took wideout Xavier Worthy. Buffalo then dealt the 32nd pick to Carolina and watched the Panthers take wideout Xavier Legette.

But the Bills added a third-rounder and more draft capital and still ended up with a receiver in Coleman, who had 50 receptions, 658 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns last season. Coleman, however, ran a disappointing 4.61-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been caught from behind,” Coleman said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to not be able to run by somebody. More so than that, I don’t think there was ever just one DB that just sat when I was running at them. So that pretty much tells you all you need to know.”

The Chargers swapped picks with the Patriots to get McConkey, who is a polished receiver with deceptive speed.

“That is just a little bit extra motivation,” McConkey said of Los Angeles trading up to get him. “They want me, they came up and got me, so I’m going to give everything that I have to them and make sure that it is worth it.”

Teams were wheeling and dealing with seven trades in the second round.

The Titans took a chance on Texas defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat with the 38th pick after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Sweat visited Tennessee after the incident and new coach Brian Callahan along with general manager Ran Carthon and defensive line coach Tracy Rocker went to his home to visit him and his family.

“We had some tough conversations while we were there,” Carthon said.

After Florida State defensive tackle Braden Fiske went to the Rams, the Philadelphia Eagles moved up to grab Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean at No. 40. The Eagles made Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell the first cornerback taken at No. 22 and the addition of DeJean fortifies a now-crowded secondary that includes Darius Slay and James Bradberry.

DeJean started a run on cornerbacks with three more going in a row. Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry went to New Orleans, Georgia’s Kamari Lassiter was selected by Houston and Arizona chose Max Melton from Rutgers.

The Raiders got a first-round talent at No. 44, selecting Oregon interior lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson.

Texas A&M linebacker Edgerrin Cooper went to Green Bay before Jonathon Brooks became the first running back selected at No. 46 by Carolina.

The Giants got Minnesota safety Tyler Nubin, the Jaguars took LSU defensive lineman Maason Smith and the Bengals chose Michigan defensive lineman Kris Jenkins.

The Commanders, who got picks Nos. 50 and 53 from the Eagles in the deal for No. 40, chose Michigan cornerback Mike Sainristil with the first of the two selections. They went with Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott at No. 53.

West Virginia center Zach Frazier went to Pittsburgh with the 51st pick, giving Russell Wilson more protection. They took interior lineman Troy Fautanu at No. 20 on Thursday.

The Browns made their first pick of the draft at No. 54, going with Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Hall Jr. The Dolphins took Houston offensive tackle Patrick Paul and the Cowboys selected Western Michigan edge Marshawn Kneeland.

Alabama edge Chris Braswell went to Tampa Bay. The Packers got Georgia safety Javon Bullard. Houston added Notre Dame offensive tackle Blake Fisher.

Utah safety Cole Bishop was Buffalo’s pick at No. 60. The Lions chose Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. Washington offensive tackle Roger Rosengarten was selected by the Ravens.

The second round concluded with the Chiefs taking BYU offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia and the 49ers choosing Florida State cornerback Renardo Green.

Teams shifted back to offense in the third round with 18 of the first 25 picks on that side of the ball. Highlights included three players from national champion Michigan going in a row.

The Rams took Wolverines running back Blake Corum at No. 83, the Steelers chose wide receiver Roman Wilson and the Browns selected guard Zak Zinter.