Win the draft, win the Super Bowl. In truth, it's pretty much that simple.
If you keep on failing to build through the NFL draft, you can't build a winner. Just ask the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns.
This week offers hope for some tortured fanbases. This is the year the team turns it all around. On no other day of the NFL calendar does optimism reign this much. Everybody has the same record, and everybody has the same opportunity of adding key players for the upcoming season.
Obviously, some teams do much better than others.
Looking back on Day 2's results, four teams separated themselves from the pack in terms of success on draft day.
|NFL Draft Results—Rounds 1-3|
|Arizona Cardinals||(27) Deone Bucannon, SS; (52) Troy Niklas, TE; (84) Kareem Martin, DE; (91) John Brown, WR|
|Atlanta Falcons||(6) Jake Matthews, OT; (37) Ra'Shede Hageman, DT; (68) Dezmen Southward, FS|
|Baltimore Ravens||(17) C.J. Mosley, ILB; (48) Timmy Jernigan, DT; (79) Terrence Brooks, FS; (99) Crockett Gillmore, TE|
|Buffalo Bills||(4) Sammy Watkins, WR; (44) Cyrus Kouandjio, OT; (73) Preston Brown, ILB|
|Carolina Panthers||(28) Kelvin Benjamin, WR; (60) Kony Ealy, DE; (92) Trai Turner, OG|
|Chicago Bears||(14) Kyle Fuller, CB; (51) Ego Ferguson, DT; (82) Will Sutton, DT|
|Cincinnati Bengals||(24) Darqueze Dennard, CB; (55) Jeremy Hill, RB; (88) Will Clarke, DE|
|Cleveland Browns||(8) Justin Gilbert, CB; (22) Johnny Manziel, QB; (35) Joel Bitonio, OT; (71) Christian Kirksey, OLB; (94) Terrance West, RB|
|Dallas Cowboys||(16) Zack Martin, OT; (34) Demarcus Lawrence, DE|
|Denver Broncos||(31) Bradley Roby, CB; (56) Cody Latimer, WR; (95) Michael Schofield, OT|
|Detroit Lions||(10) Eric Ebron, TE; (40) Kyle Van Noy, OLB; (76) Travis Swanson, C|
|Green Bay Packers||(21) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS; (53) Davante Adams, WR; (85) Khyri Thornton, DT; (98) Richard Rodgers, TE|
|Houston Texans||(1) Jadeveon Clowney, DE; (33) Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG; (65) C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE; (83) Louis Nix, DT|
|Indianapolis Colts||(59) Jack Mewhort, OG; (90) Donte Moncrief, WR|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||(3) Blake Bortles, QB; (39) Marqise Lee, WR; (61) Allen Robinson, WR; (93) Brandon Linder, OG|
|Kansas City Chiefs||(23) Dee Ford, DE; (87) Phillip Gaines, CB|
|Miami Dolphins||(19) Ja'Wuan James, OT; (63) Jarvis Landry, WR; (67) Billy Turner, OT|
|Minnesota Vikings||(9) Anthony Barr, OLB; (32) Teddy Bridgewater, QB; (72) Scott Crichton, DE; (96) Jerick McKinnon, RB|
|New England Patriots||(29) Dominique Easley, DT; (62) Jimmy Garoppolo|
|New Orleans Saints||(20) Brandin Cooks, WR; (58) Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB|
|New York Giants||(12) Odell Beckham, WR; (43) Weston Richburg, C; (74) Jay Bromley, DT|
|New York Jets||(18) Calvin Pryor, FS; (49) Jace Amaro, TE; (80) Dexter McDougle, CB|
|Oakland Raiders||(5) Khalil Mack, OLB; (36) Derek Carr, QB; (81) Gabe Jackson, OG|
|Philadelphia Eagles||(26) Marcus Smith, DE; (42) Jordan Matthews, WR; (86) Josh Huff, WR|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||(15) Ryan Shazier, OLB; (46) Stephon Tuitt, DE; (97) Dri Archer, RB|
|San Diego Chargers||(25) Jason Verrett, CB; (50) Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB; (89) Chris Watt, OG|
|San Francisco 49ers||(30) Jimmie Ward, SS; (57) Carlos Hyde, RB; (70) Marcus Martin, C; (77) Chris Borland, ILB; (100) Brandon Thomas|
|Seattle Seahawks||(45) Paul Richardson, WR; (64) Justin Britt, OT|
|St. Louis Rams||(2) Greg Robinson, OT; (13) Aaron Donald, DT; (41) Lamarcus Joyner, CB; (75) Tre Mason, RB|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||(7) Mike Evans, WR; (38) Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE; (69) Charles Sims, RB|
|Tennessee Titans||(11) Taylor Lewan, OT; (54) Bishop Sankey, RB|
|Washington Redskins||(47) Trent Murphy, OLB; (66) Morgan Moses, OT; (78) Spencer Long, OG|
|Selections via NFL.com|
San Francisco 49ers
It isn't really fair that the San Francisco 49ers keep on stockpiling these draft picks and having these talented players fall right into their laps. Although the Niners had four picks on Day 2, volume isn't always a guarantee of value.
However, San Francisco drafted Carlos Hyde, Marcus Martin, Chris Borland and Brandon Thomas. While not all of those players fill immediate needs, they're all talented and provide plenty of upside. ESPN's Chris Sprow summed it up well:
Those guys don't need to step up right now. They provide long-term replacements for the 49ers' current starters.
When it comes to Thomas, San Francisco can let him rehab all season without expecting anything, much like what it's done with Marcus Lattimore:
With how much talent is already on the 49ers, drafting this well should deliver a Lombardi Trophy sooner rather than later.
Staying in the Bay Area, we move to the Oakland Raiders, who almost never draft well but somehow have their stuff together this year. Having Khalil Mack fall to No. 5 was fortuitous, but in some years, you might have seen the Raiders bungle it up by taking someone else.
On Day 2, Oakland selected Derek Carr, viewed by some as a first-rounder, and Gabe Jackson, who can help improve what was a weak offensive line last year.
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman thought Carr was a great pick for the Raiders:
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that they had the former Fresno State QB at the top of their board, so to have him fall to them in the second round had to have been a great feeling:
During a conference call, Carr spoke about how much getting drafted by the Raiders means to him, per the team's official website:
Oh my gosh, it means everything. I am so happy. My uncle [Lon Boyett] was a Raider. I can’t remember when off the top of my head right now, but he was a tight end for the Raiders when Coach [John] Madden was the coach. So, it’s been in my blood for awhile. Especially being in the valley, being from Fresno, there are definitely a lot of Raider fans that I run into.
While Carr certainly has his problems, he was the best that Oakland could've hoped for at that position, and passing up Mack in order to take Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel would've made no sense.
And Jackson's the kind of player who won't blow you away, but he'll be solid for a lot of years. He could start right away for the Raiders, and to get that kind of quality in the third round is impressive.
Selecting the best player in the entire draft is always a good start. While the Houston Texans' Day 2 draft selections couldn't possibly provide the kind of impact that adding Jadeveon Clowney does, they added good value and filled some needs.
No pick was better than Louis Nix at 83rd overall. How in the world did he slip that far? Some mocks had him pegged as a possible first-rounder.
Instead, he falls to the third and joins what is a ridiculously imposing defensive line:
Consistency was an issue for Nix at Notre Dame. His talent isn't in doubt, though. Perhaps playing with Clowney and J.J. Watt will help to bring out the best in him.
Let's not forget about Xavier Su'a-Filo, either. Su'a-Filo excelled when moved to guard at UCLA. His lateral movement is questionable, so playing inside helps to cover that. Expect Su'a-Filo to start in Week 1.
Green Bay Packers
Speaking for the rest of the league, Aaron Rodgers doesn't need any more help.
After watching James Jones head for Oakland, the Green Bay Packers knew that adding another wide receiver in the offseason would probably be a good idea. Davante Adams can step right in and be the red-zone threat that Jones was:
Adams isn't a great athlete, but he has other skills to compensate for that. Playing with a quarterback like Rodgers kinda helps, too.
With Khyri Thornton, the Packers have their replacement for B.J. Raji. When Raji's contract is up at the end of the 2014 season, Green Bay will have a lot more flexibility. In the meantime, Thornton can wait a little lower down the depth chart and pick up some valuable knowledge.