NFL Draft 2014: Burning Questions for Day 2
After months of anticipation and an endless supply of conjecture, we finally have the first round of the 2014 NFL draft in the books.
With that being said, let the second-round speculation and chatter begin!
With many needs unmet and several talented players still anxiously waiting to get their names called, Day 2 of the draft offers up a delicious plate of intrigue and mystery.
These are the burning questions for the second and third rounds of the draft.
Will the Texans Grab a QB with the First Pick in the Second Round?
Now that we know the Texans will go to work with Jadeveon Clowney on defense, who will be the opening-day starter at the quarterback position? Ryan Fitzpatrick was their lukewarm free-agent acquisition, and he is better suited as a solid backup option.
Heading into Week 1 with Fitzpatrick at the helm would be a disappointing offseason for Houston, to say the least. Houston becomes the third team in three years for the former Ivy League QB. He saw a ton of action last year backing up Jake Locker in Tennessee and ranked 22nd out of 47 QBs in my 2013 power rankings.
With that said, it seems logical to assume Houston is ready bring in a rookie signal-caller to compete for the starting job come opening day.
It would be a shame to have such a talented roster struggle for the second year in a row because of lackluster quarterback play.
Derek Carr of Fresno State is still on the board, and many analysts had this cannon-armed rookie being drafted in the latter part of the first round.
Carr is the younger brother of the first pick in Texans franchise history, David Carr, who ultimately turned out to be a dud. Would Derek follow eerily similar footsteps?
Tom Savage is another QB option for Houston. He’s a big-bodied (6’4” and 228 pounds) prospect out of Pittsburgh who is also gifted with a strong arm. Savage has ascended draft boards recently, and he is certainly an intriguing possibility.
In Matt Miller’s latest full mock draft, he has the Texans taking LSU QB Zach Mettenberger with the 33rd pick overall.
Mettenberger has had some bad publicity recently after reportedly failing a drug test at the scouting combine for allegedly diluting his sample. He’s also currently in the process of recovering from knee surgery.
Alabama's AJ McCarron is a proven winner who understands how to avoid the type of mistakes that cost his team the game. The ceiling may not be as high for McCarron as some other names mentioned, but his track record in college does speak for itself. The 33rd pick may be a bit high, but if he’s who the Texans believe in, they have to take him here.
Lastly, Jimmy Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois is a guy Bill O'Brien may see promise in. He has a quick release and looked sharp at both the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game.
If Houston doesn’t feel strongly about these players, it could look to trade down and let another QB-needy team have the pick of the litter at 33. Either way, the Texans have to draft a QB at some point in this draft.
Who Are the Best Players Available?
- Trent Murphy, edge-rusher, Stanford—Led the nation in career sacks by the time he left.
- Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming—In his three years at Wyoming he rushed for 1,529 yards and 20 touchdowns, while throwing 76 touchdowns and 28 interceptions.
- Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State—Had a 42-inch vertical jump and finished the three-cone drill in 6.53 seconds at his pro day, via NFLDraftScout.com.
- Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU—Second-most productive edge-rusher in this draft based on career and per-game statistics.
- Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State—Great physical tools and production, plus he looks like a playmaker on tape.
- Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana—Built like a prototypical No.1 wideout with exceptional explosion and strength.
- Rashaad Reynolds, CB, Oregon State—Finished fifth among CBs in career interceptions and has good physical tools.
- Marqise Lee, WR, USC—The most productive college wide receiver in this draft.
- Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood—Big (6’1”, 198 lbs), smooth athlete with enormous potential.
- Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor—One of the fastest and most explosive running backs in this draft.
Obviously opinions will vary greatly on the best players available depending on who you talk to. Using a draft metric that factors in measurables, film study, college production, character issues and medical issues, which are weighted together with a heavy emphasis on film, I was able to determine a comprehensive prospect ranking system.
According to this, the top 10 available players heading into the second round are as follows:
Clearly we get some illustration of just how deep this wideout class is. Four of the top 10 remaining prospects are pass-catchers.
What Offensive Weapons Are Left for the Jets on Day 2?
With the Jets going defense for yet another year in the first round, just when exactly do they plan on giving their young quarterback some weapons?
As we can see from the previous slide, there are several talented wide receivers still available in the second round. The Jets must snag one, or perhaps even two, of these guys by the time the draft is over.
Allen Robinson is the best option if they’re looking to acquire a guy who has the capabilities to be a true No. 1 receiver. In addition to his consistency, Robinson has impressive vision and can turn a short pass into a highlight play.
Marqise Lee could be a potential target for them in the second and would be a great value pick considering many mock drafts had the Jets taking Lee in the first round. However, they would probably have to trade up from the 17th pick into the top 10, where Lee is most likely going to be taken.
The Jets may also look to a guy like Jace Amaro, the tight end from Texas Tech. He’s a solid receiver option who can provide Geno Smith with a much-needed security blanket.
It’s unlikely they go with a running back in Round 2 considering they invested a good amount of money to bring in the former Titan and one-time 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson.
When Will QB AJ McCarron Come Off the Board?
We mentioned McCarron earlier as a possible option for the Texans with the 33rd pick, but it's unlikely any team is willing to draft this guy so soon.
During his collegiate career, McCarron led Alabama to two national championships while completing 67 percent of his passes over two years against top-notch SEC defenses.
However, since entering the draft, this collegiate success story has been quite the polarizing prospect. With limited arm strength and concerns about him needing a strong supporting cast in order to succeed, McCarron will likely slip out of the second round altogether, while guys like Carr, Mettenberger and Garoppolo should be taken early on Day 2.
McCarron hinted that he doesn't care where he gets drafted in an interview with ESPN's Kevin Neghandi. "It's a blessed opportunity to be in this situation," McCarron said. "Whatever team I land to, I'll be ready to earn my stripes and the respect from the older guys there."
The ideal situation for AJ, whether he knows it or not, would be to sit behind a proven vet for a couple of years in order to learn the nuances of the position and mature into a more complete QB.
With that said, McCarron could potentially come off the board in the third round but would be more likely to last sometime into the fourth.
Possible teams in the hunt for McCarron in the third round could be the Texans with the 65th pick overall or the Raiders, Buccaneers, Rams, Cardinals, Chiefs, Bengals or even the Patriots.
How Many RBs Will Be Drafted on Day 2?
So far not a single running back has been drafted in the NFL draft. Though this is not a surprise to most draft analysts, there seems to be more of a grey area when it comes to predicting when the run on running backs will happen.
Most of the chatter suggests we should see a lot of RBs start flying off the board around the fourth round. That theory, if true, would mean a ton of talented ball-carriers would be left twiddling their thumbs for a long while this weekend.
However, at least five RBs have a very real shot at being drafted in the second or third round Friday.
Some names at the position we could hear on Day 2 are Carlos Hyde (6’0”, 230 lbs) from Ohio State, Jeremy Hill (6’1”, 233 lbs) of LSU, Tre Mason (5’8”, 207 lbs) from Auburn, Andre Williams (5’11”, 230 lbs) of Boston College and Bishop Sankey (5’9”, 209 lbs) out of Washington.
Of those four names, Sankey has the most impressive measurables, but his tape is incredibly underwhelming, especially for a guy who has such impressive physical tools. Hyde and Hill both have the frames to be every-down RBs and workhorses at the position. Hill appears to be the faster of the two, but each prospect has been known to run over defenders with regularity.
A Day 2 running back who could be a sleeper in the third round is Storm Johnson out of the University of Central Florida. He has an impressive combination of size, vision, power and elusiveness. His weakness, however, is top-end speed and ball-carrying. If Johnson can’t figure out how to hold on to the ball, he may never see significant playing time in the NFL.
Andre Williams looks and plays like Ron Dayne reincarnate, only faster. This could be a major problem for opposing defenses looking to stop a guy who is 230 pounds of pure muscle.
Look for some solid NFL starters to emerge from this group by the end of the night.
How Far Will Ra’Shede Hageman Slide?
According to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, Ra’Shede Hageman (6’6”, 310) is listed as the seventh-best player available for Day 2. Brandt had this to say about him:
Hageman has size, power and explosion but lacks consistency, otherwise he would be ranked higher. He might be too tall to play defensive tackle in the NFL but is good enough to convert to end. At the combine, he ran the 40 in a hand-timed 4.97 seconds. He has 34 1/4-inch arms and posted 32 reps in the bench press.
When watching this guy on tape, you see a player who appears to be playing at three-quarters speed with a complete lack of passion or motor. These are players NFL teams generally tend to stay away from, but his athleticism and size are compelling enough to cause some team to take the cheese early on Day 2.
It would be a huge surprise if Hageman is still available after the second round. Possible landing spots are the Redskins with the 34th pick, the Steelers, Cowboys and 49ers.
Who Will Land Kyle Van Noy?
BYU’s talented pass-rusher Kyle Van Noy is an instinctual playmaker who had a much better year in 2013 than his stats suggested. He went from 13 sacks in 2012 down to four sacks in 2013. Regardless of the drop in production, Van Noy’s tape looked equally as impressive, as he made made impact plays consistently for that defense.
The ideal scenario for Van Noy is to fall to a 3-4 team where he can come off the edge and utilize his natural playmaking ability. The Jaguars could be a team that grabs him, considering they have a position designated for a player like Van Noy called the Elephant backer. Seattle drafted Bruce Irvin in the first round a few years back to play this position.
Tennessee is a potential destination considering both scheme and need would suggest some interest. The Titans are making the switch to a 3-4 defensive front and need an outside presence coming off the edge.
Ryan Riddle is a former NFL player and currently writes for Bleacher Report.
You can check out more of his work at Draftmetric.com.