5 B1G questions for Night 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft
Let’s just say there were some head-scratching picks late in Round 1.
As a result, only 5 B1G players came off the board on Thursday night. That’s actually better than the average of 4.5 during the 2010s, but it still felt a bit underwhelming compared to the mock drafts.
That means there are a whole bunch of talented B1G prospects still available heading into Night 2 of the NFL Draft. Like, way more talented B1G prospects are still available than I thought.
I have plenty of questions about Rounds 2-3 … but I narrowed it down to 5:
1. Do the Colts get A.J. Epenesa at No. 34?
“With the second pick of the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select … A.J. Epenesa.”
I mean, that has to happen, right? Epenesa falling out of the first round is bonkers, but what that means is that a team like the Colts should be chomping at the bit to get him. He can play defensive end in that 3-4. A team who needs to get more pressure on the quarterback like Indianapolis can do so much worse than Epenesa.
I truly believe Epenesa took too much criticism because the guy he was compared to most, Chase Young, was a physical freak unlike many we’ve seen at the position in the last 20 years. Epenesa might not be on that level physically, but someone is going to love the film, the production and the work ethic. If the Colts don’t scoop him up at No. 34, perhaps the Patriots at No. 37 would make sense.
Whatever the case, someone needs to pick Epenesa immediately.
2. Does Jonathan Taylor wait longer than he should?
Did I think Taylor would be the first tailback off the board? No. I thought D’Andre Swift would earn that title, and that Taylor be the first B1G player picked in the 2nd round. But that’s not what happened, and after the way things played out, I’m rethinking that belief because of the aforementioned Epenesa. The Chiefs getting Clyde Edwards-Helaire might’ve been a surprise, though it made perfect sense schematically.
Who makes the most sense for Taylor in Round 2? The 3 most favorable landing spots for the record-setting Wisconsin back are Miami at No. 39, Indianapolis at No. 44 and Tampa Bay at No. 45. The issue is that if he doesn’t come off the board in one of those spots — which could happen if Swift is higher on their boards — he could fall a ways down the second round.
That’s the nature of the beast at the running back position. Taylor, J.K. Dobbins and Swift could all wind up falling later than many expected just because there clearly isn’t that high demand at the position this year.
What does that mean? Someone is about to get tremendous value for one of the best backs in NCAA history.
3. Is Antoine Winfield Jr. going to suffer from the lack of top-end safeties?
It kind of feels like he already did by not getting picked in Round 1.
A whopping total of zero safeties came off the board. That’s right. Zero. Not even Xavier McKinney, who some dubbed as the top safety in the class, got a Round 1 sniff. What we saw was teams not being afraid to reach for guys who can cover.
But Winfield’s skill set still translates extremely well. The former Gopher is versatile in the back end, and he can play in nickel, as well. That’s why some had him coming off the board in the first round.
Giants Round 2 Pick 36
Minnesota S Antoine Winfield Jr
This kills two birds with one stone because you can move Julian Love to the nickel corner. Winfield is a playmaking baller with great ball skills. Best player available at an important position. pic.twitter.com/UZygscJeem
— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinner_) April 23, 2020
How long will Winfield have to wait? Who knows. The bigger McKinney and Grant Delpit could both be picked ahead of Winfield. Perhaps the Bears at No. 43 or No. 50 could take Winfield to play alongside Eddie Jackson. That would be an ideal Day 2 landing spot for the skilled defensive back.
4. Will we see 3 B1G receivers picked on Friday?
So far, we’re still waiting on that first one off the board. All signs point to that guy being K.J. Hamler. It probably bodes well for him that we saw 6 receivers come off the board on Thursday. Hamler’s ability to stretch a defense should give him a market in Round 2.
Perhaps the better question is what happens to the likes of Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tyler Johnson. Both feel like they could go anywhere from late-second round to the middle of Day 3 and it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise.
They’re sort of opposites from an evaluation standpoint because Peoples-Jones was the physical freak who didn’t necessarily have the production while Johnson had the production but not the obvious physical freak attributes. Peoples-Jones could be the guy who is better in the NFL than he was in college, and Johnson could be the guy who was better in college than he was in the NFL. Combine them and you’d have the perfect wideout.
Unfortunately, that’s not how this works. Both of these guys could easily slip into Day 3 in what’s obviously a deep receiver class.
5. Who suffers the most head-scratching fall?
This always seems to happen. Maybe it’s someone who was expected to come off the board late in Round 1 or perhaps it was an early-second round guy who doesn’t get picked in the first 2 days. Remember Connor Cook in 2016? Or what about Desmond King in 2017? Goodness, King’s free fall was a joke then and now.
It’s hard to predict these things, obviously, but what about someone like Dobbins? Could there be some lingering health concerns that combined with the lack of positional value have him falling deep into Round 3? It’s possible, though that shouldn’t be the case after how valuable he was for Ohio State.
Or maybe Zack Baun, who was projected to go in the first round by some final mock drafts, falls into Round 3 because of the presumption that he’s a fit in a 3-4 defense. That shouldn’t happen because of how well he covers and gets to the quarterback, but who knows?
For whatever reason, it always seems to happen without any warning signs.
Here’s hoping that by night’s end, we have more answers than questions.