2020 NFL Draft: Biggest Steals and Reaches for Rounds 2-3

Jesse Pantuosco
April 24, 2020 - 5:59 pm

Day 1 of the 2020 Draft is in the books and what an opening night it was. This year’s content buffet came complete with super-yachts, Tristan Wirfs’ mom getting the literal red-carpet treatment, mysterious outfit changes, CeeDee Lamb’s phone-snatch heard ‘round the world (he was the steal of the draft, both literally and figuratively), Kliff Kingsbury living his very best life and further proof that robe life is indeed beautiful. Risers, fallers, stunners (Jon Gruden’s obligatory galaxy-brain pick came at No. 19 this year), Round 1 had it all and then some. I promise you, faithful readers of RADIO.COM, years from now, we’ll all remember where we were the night Aaron Rodgers had his pride shattered and Isaiah Wilson’s mom became a legend.

Rounds 2-3 will be a tough act to follow but here’s hoping Day 2 supplies just as much chaos as its manic predecessor. I’ll be keeping this blog updated all night with sporadic thoughts on any and all Day 2 happenings. I’ll be covering steals, reaches, trades, Jalen Hurts Watch and much more as we begin the middle portion of this year’s draft festivities.

33. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: STEAL

The Bengals opened the second round with a bang, adding a weapon for Joe Burrow by tapping Clemson receiver Tee Higgins with the 33rd overall pick. A first-team All-ACCer with a wealth of big-game experience (he’s a veteran of two national championship games), Higgins is a big, athletic target who many have compared favorably to his new Bengals teammate A.J. Green. With Burrow, Green, Higgins, John Ross, Auden Tate and Joe Mixon (assuming his contract dispute blows over) in tow, the arrow for Zac Taylor’s offense is pointing way up.

34. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts: STEAL

The receiver-palooza continues. Six wideouts were taken in Thursday’s first round and now two more have come off the board in Round 2 with Higgins headed to Cincy and Indy using its first pick of the draft (the Colts surrendered their first-rounder in last month’s DeForest Buckner trade) on USC standout Michael Pittman Jr.. The Colts found themselves embarrassingly shorthanded at receiver last season (injuries to T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell and Devin Funchess did little to help the situation), at one point starting Zach Pascal, Marcus Johnson and undrafted D-II product Ashton Dulin in three-wide sets. Wanting to avoid a similar fate in 2020, Indy made a beeline for Pittman (son of former Buccaneers running back Michael Pittman Sr.), a 6’4” contested-catch artist who broke out for 11 touchdowns en route to All-American status in 2019. Newcomer Philip Rivers will certainly appreciate this selection.

35. D'Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions: STEAL

No one offered Georgia’s D’Andre Swift a seat at the first-round table last night, but the Lions were more than happy to accommodate him in Round 2, snatching him up at pick 35. Arguably the most complete running back in the draft—his wheels are better than Clyde Edwards-Helaire and he catches the ball with far more consistency than Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor—Swift makes plenty of sense for the Lions, who have come to realize they can’t trust injury-plagued Kerryon Johnson to stay on the field. For the fantasy crowd, Swift should be a popular pick in dynasty drafts this summer.

36. Xavier McKinney, S, New York Giants: STEAL

After taking a beating in the secondary last season, New York needed a defensive tent-pole to stop the bleeding. McKinney, a key cog in Nick Saban’s Alabama defense, was expected to go in the first round but had to sweat it out an extra 24 hours as penance for his lackluster Combine performance. Either way, this was a no-brainer for a Giants unit that was manhandled by opposing QBs last year (fifth-most passing yards allowed). We know Dave Gettleman loves his hog mollies but not every pick can be a 300-pounder.

37. Kyle Dugger, S, New England Patriots: REACH

We figured Bill Belichick had something up his sleeve after trading out of the first round Thursday night. Some posited the Pats were angling to draft Tom Brady’s successor (Jalen Hurts, perhaps?) with the 37th pick, but instead New England ponied up for Kyle Dugger, a 24-year-old safety from Division II “Lenoir-Rhyne University.” That’s a tough one to wrap my head around but maybe Emperor Bill knows something the rest of us don’t.

41. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts: STEAL

“911, I’d like to report a theft.” Put the Colts behind bars because getting Jonathan Taylor, the fourth-leading rusher in FBS history, this late in the game is highway robbery. The 40 teams who passed on him should be ashamed of themselves. Some were scared off by Taylor’s mileage (he logged almost 1,000 touches over his three-year run in cheese country) and lack of receiving expertise, but he’s an athletic freak (4.39 forty) with a marble-chiseled body reminiscent of fellow football mutant Saquon Barkley. Clearly the Colts had their eye on Taylor, trading up with Cleveland to get their man at 41 overall. With Taylor poised for workhorse responsibilities, 2017 fourth-rounder Marlon Mack will likely be relegated to handcuff status. Perhaps Indy would even entertain trading Mack, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Not a bad haul for the Colts, who have aced each of their second-round selections (Michael Pittman Jr. went to them with the 34th pick).

42. Laviska Shenault, WR Jacksonville Jaguars: STEAL

After shoring up the defense with a couple of blue-chippers on Day 1 (C.J. Henderson and K’Lavon Chaisson), the Jaguars gave their offense a shot of life Friday by pulling the trigger on Colorado playmaker Laviska Shenault with the 42nd pick. Shenault carries risk—injuries marred his final year in Boulder and he tanked the Combine with a dismal forty time (4.58). But he’s a thick-bodied bull-dozer in the mold of A.J. Brown and can make plays with the best of them. His versatility and ball-carrying prowess should serve him well in Jacksonville, where Shenault figures to line up opposite field-stretcher DJ Chark.

43. Cole Kmet, TE, Chicago Bears: STEAL

Kmet represents a marked improvement for the Bears, who whiffed on free agent Trey Burton (author of the iconic Philly Special in Super Bowl LII) while receiving equally limited contributions from draft bust Adam Shaheen. Chicago did address tight end by poaching Jimmy Graham from division-rival Green Bay in free agency, but he’s in steep decline and even at his peak, the former Saints and Seahawks mainstay was always a blocking liability. You could probably say the same of Kmet, a former pitcher (he led the Irish in saves as a freshman) with soft mitts and plus athleticism, who didn’t take enough advantage of his 6’6” frame in college. After seeing two tight ends go in the first round last year (Iowa products T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant), the Bears were the first to take the plunge in 2020. Kmet’s Notre Dame teammate, receiver Chase Claypool, went off the board six picks later, aligning with the Steelers at No. 49.

46. KJ Hamler, WR, Denver Broncos: STEAL

Like Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) in the cinematic masterpiece Draft Day (obviously I’m kidding—that movie was a dumpster fire and not even close to being worth its $3.99 rental fee on iTunes), John Elway went into this draft with a clear mandate: receiver no matter what. After roping in Jerry Jeudy as Courtland Sutton’s new running mate on the outside, Elway went back to the receiver well in Round 2, solidifying Denver’s slot position by pulling in Penn State chess piece KJ Hamler. He’s not the biggest target (5’9”/178 were his Combine measurements) but the former Nittany Lion is plenty explosive and should mesh well with cannon-armed sophomore Drew Lock in the Mile High City.

51. Trevon Diggs, CB, Dallas Cowboys: STEAL

There was talk of Diggs going to Dallas in the first round but instead of addressing the secondary as many expected, the Cowboys pulled an audible when CeeDee Lamb became available at 17. But it all worked out for the Cowboys, who were able to snag Stefon Diggs’ younger brother with their second-round selection. A rangy athlete (he’s a converted wide receiver), Diggs should fill the void left by free-agent departure Byron Jones at cornerback.

52. Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams: STEAL

After turning the page on injury-prone (not to mention overpaid) Todd Gurley, the Rams needed to leave this draft with a backfield horse and that’s exactly what they accomplished with this pick. You could quibble whether the Rams should have taken J.K. Dobbins (who was snatched up three picks later by the Baltimore Ravens) over Akers, but there’s plenty of untapped potential here. Even with an inferior offensive line, Akers still rolled up huge numbers at Florida State, finishing his career in style with a magnificent 18-touchdown send-off in 2019. Well-rounded with a shiftiness that can’t be taught, put a bow on Akers because Christmas came early for the Rams with this selection.

53. Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: REACH

Pack it up. The Jalen Hurts watch is over. Seeing the Oklahoma star land with Philadelphia breaks my heart, both for Carson Wentz (who the Eagles already hung out to dry with spare parts for receivers last year) and the fantasy football community, who surely could have benefited from Hurts’ rushing ability. I’m not sure what the Eagles’ plan is here—if Hurts is merely insurance for Wentz or if Philadelphia has a Taysom Hill-type role in mind. Hurts is a nice player to have on your roster, but using a second-round pick on him when the Eagles are already cutting Carson Wentz a check for $32 million annually is a head-scratcher.

54. A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Buffalo Bills: STEAL

The Bills, who shipped their first-round selection to the Vikings in exchange for Stefon Diggs, caught 53 teams sleeping at the wheel. Epenesa’s draft stock sunk like a stone after bombing the Combine, but even if his athletic profile is lacking, the Iowa product proved plenty productive in college, surging to 11.5 sacks with four forced fumbles and 15 tackles for loss in 2019. A first-round talent who somehow got lost in the shuffle, Epenesa making it to Buffalo at 54 is a minor miracle. He adds to a Bills defense that was already among the league’s stingiest.

55. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens: STEAL

Dobbins—the fifth running back taken in this year’s draft proceedings following Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor and Cam Akers—doesn’t fill an obvious need for the Ravens, who led the league in rushing by a wide margin last year. But you can never have enough backfield depth and perhaps Baltimore made this pick with an eye toward the future. Mark Ingram is 30, an ominous benchmark at a position that doles out punishment like no other. A polished receiver who tied Taylor for third in the nation with 2,003 rushing yards during his farewell campaign at Ohio State, Dobbins adds another explosive element to what was already the league’s most potent rushing attack. After experiencing playoff heartbreak at the hands of Tennessee in last year’s Divisional Round, the Ravens are stocking up for another run at the Lombardi Trophy.

57. Van Jefferson, WR, Los Angeles Rams: REACH

I expected the Rams to pursue a receiver in the draft after jettisoning Brandin Cooks and his enormous contract earlier this month. I just didn’t expect it to be this one, especially with Denzel Mims just BEGGING to be picked after inexplicably sliding into the latter half of the second round. Jefferson is a safe, no-frills choice at a position where the Rams, coming off a forgettable 9-7 campaign, could have used some razzle dazzle. He’s also a redundancy, largely functioning out of the slot, the same part of the field where Cooper Kupp does most of his bidding. The Rams had a chance to make a “wow” pick with Mims at 57, but instead they went for the shrug emoji in Jefferson.

58. Ezra Cleveland, OT, Minnesota Vikings: STEAL

I can just imagine my boss saying, “Jesse they can’t ALL be steals.” But what am I supposed to do when there’s this much value on the board? There were rumblings Cleveland, a 6’6” enforcer who dominated the Mountain West during his three-year run at Boise State, could go as early as the first round. Obviously, those rumors proved meritless as Cleveland’s precipitous fall didn’t stop until Minnesota rescued him at pick No. 58. Landing a fringe first-round talent this late into Day 2 is a coup and it also fills a need for the Vikings, who buried Kirk Cousins behind an anemic line last season. Score one for the Purple People-Eaters.

59. Denzel Mims, WR, New York Jets: STEAL

After inviting unnecessary risk with last night’s selection—I contend Tristan Wirfs, who was still available at that juncture, has a much safer floor than work-in-progress Mekhi Becton—Joe Douglas and Adam Gase redeemed themselves with this beauty of a pick. Mims, an All-Big 12 performer who blew the lid off with a Herculean Combine performance, seemed all but certain to go in the first round … until he didn’t. Somehow 12 receivers found homes before Mims, but the NFL’s loss is the Big Apple’s gain. Well-built (6’3”/208) and vertically-minded, Mims should seamlessly step into the role vacated by free-agent defector Robby Anderson.

62. A.J. Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers: REACH

I’ve been pounding the drum for Dillon longer than I care to remember, but I have to question his fit in Green Bay, where the Packers already have a three-down hammer in Aaron Jones (with Jamaal Williams sprinkled in for posterity), who erupted for 19 touchdowns during his breakout 2019. Maybe the Packers are getting out ahead of Jones’ inevitable departure in free agency next offseason, but what Green Bay really needed was another downfield weapon for Aaron Rodgers. Dillon has rare athleticism for his body type (his measureables are near-identical to LeGarrette Blount’s), but he’s a non-existent pass-catcher and makes little sense for an offense that already has its backfield bases covered. This is the Packers’ most puzzling selection since Thursday night when they took Jordan Love 26th overall.

64. Jeremy Chinn, S, Carolina Panthers: STEAL

Calling Carolina’s defense—a unit that failed so miserably that it ultimately cost Ron Rivera his job last season—a train wreck would be entirely too kind. It was more like a horror movie and, despite an affinity for offense, rookie coach Matt Rhule knew what he had to do in this draft. Save for linebacker, the Panthers have addressed every facet of their defense, improving up front (Derrick Brown), on the edge (Yetur Gross-Matos) and now in the secondary with hard-hitting safety Jeremy Chinn out of Southern Illinois. The safety position didn’t get any first-round love but it’s been a feeding frenzy ever since with Xavier McKinney, Grant Delpit (who, like every player in this draft, hails from LSU), Antoine Winfield Jr. and Chinn among the many talents taken in the second round. After fielding an abysmal secondary in 2019, the uber-athletic Chinn should be a breath of fresh air for Carolina.

72. Josh Jones, OT, Arizona Cardinals: STEAL

It was Cold-Shoulder City for Jones in the first two rounds but the Houston alum finally found a taker in Round 3, with the tackle-needy Cardinals stepping up to the plate at pick 72. After an early run with Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton, Tristan Wirfs, Austin Jackson and Isaiah Wilson all finding homes in the first round, it’s been a quiet night on the tackle front with only one (Ezra Cleveland) coming off the board in Round 2. Jones didn’t wow anyone with his athleticism in Indy, but his prototypical size and length give him a strong foundation. Kyler Murray took entirely too many sacks as a rookie (he tied for the league-lead with 48) but hopefully that won’t happen again with Jones protecting his blind side.

74. Zach Baun, LB, New Orleans Saints: STEAL

What happened here? Many pegged Baun as a likely first-rounder, but the draft, like life itself, rarely goes according to plan. It may have been a longer wait than he expected, but Baun’s phone finally rang at pick 74 and he couldn’t have asked for a better landing spot, joining a stacked New Orleans team with Super Bowl aspirations. Outside of All-Pro Cameron Jordan, the Saints didn’t pack much of a pass-rushing punch last season. That's where Baun, who submitted his pass-rushing credentials with 12.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss in 2019, can make a difference.

86. Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo Bills: STEAL

I’m not naïve as to why Moss was left on an island, begging and pleading for his NFL livelihood before the Bills threw him a life preserver at pick 86. He chunked the Combine with a pedestrian 4.65 forty and also has injury questions to answer for after his 2018 was cut short by knee surgery. But let’s not forget that he’s the reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, an achievement marked by his 17 touchdowns (15 rushing, two receiving) and 1,804 yards from scrimmage. A compact battering ram with the build of Doug Martin, few running backs in the college realm ran with the authority Moss showed during his successful Utah tenure. After failing to woo Melvin Gordon in free agency, the Bills now have their yin to Devin Singletary’s yang.

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