compiled by Vincent Verhei
For this special NFL draft edition of Audibles, as with our regular Audibles feature, the FO staff sends around e-mail comments about the draft. We share information, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed as we watch. We then compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site. While these e-mails are written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of the draft. That means we aren't going to discuss every pick, or every talking point. We watch the draft as fans as well as analysts, so the discussion may be colored by our rooting interests and aspects of the draft may not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all.
Bryan Knowles: Love the fit of Elijah Moore to the Jets at No. 34; I totally get why the Jets didn't trade down despite tons of reported interest. He could be Deebo Samuel for Mike LaFleur.
Scott Spratt: I wonder if that Moore selection means the Jets will release Jamison Crowder. They could save about $10 million in cap space if they do, and they suddenly have depth at wide receiver after adding Corey Davis and Keelan Cole in free agency and drafting Denzel Mims last year.
Aaron Schatz: Denver trades away a fourth-round pick to move up five spots to get running back Javonte Williams. I agree that you start considering running backs in the second round, but I still wouldn't be trading away additional draft picks to move up for them at this point.
Scott Spratt: I agree, Aaron. That sixth-round to fourth-round pick conversion is huge for just five spots in the second round.
Rivers McCown: The running back market is booming! Three in the top 35!
Vince Verhei: I was worried that if Williams somehow slipped to Seattle, Pete Carroll would not be able to resist him, so I'm glad he's gone.
Bryan Knowles: Also, the Broncos already have a ton of money invested in Melvin Gordon, and then they have Royce Freeman and Mike Boone behind him. I'm not sure why they felt they needed to go up to add someone else to the stable.
Rob Weintraub: Still no offensive linemen off the board—setting up well for Cincy to grab its preferred lineman.
Rob Weintraub: Interesting pick of Jevon Holland by Miami—you can have the Dutchman return punts so you don't risk Waddle...
And somehow they took an ad break not with the Bengals up, but Philly. First shocker of the night...
Scott Spratt: Melvin Gordon has negative rushing DVOA in five of his six career seasons. I think he's a bit better than that suggests, but I don't think the Broncos were set at running back.
Rob Weintraub: Well the Bengals are pulling their patented "trade down in the second round" move (now four times in five years) with the Pats, according to reports. New England will pick 38, Cincy now 46.
Rivers McCown: 2014-2017: 13 running backs taken in the first two rounds
2018-2021: 20 running backs taken in the first two rounds and counting...
Aaron Schatz: I appreciate the Patriots getting the best defensive tackle in the draft—a pass-rusher as much as a run-stopper in Christian Barmore. I do not like them dealing away two fourth-round picks in order to do it.
Rob Weintraub: Two fourths for an eight-pick drop! That'll work...
Scott Spratt: The Patriots may have sniped the Panthers' preferred pick, at least. Carolina just traded back after the Barmore selection.
Rob Weintraub: In a different situation I'm sure the Bengals would have stayed pat and picked the likes of Barmore, but getting a pair of extra picks is too good for them to pass up.
Bryan Knowles: I'd joke that the extent of Bill Belichick's COVID scouting was calling Nick Saban, but that appears to be the go-to strategy for a fifth of the teams this year. Drowning in the Crimson Tide.
Scott Spratt: Come on, Bryan. Urban Meyer took a Georgia player in the second round. They weren't even in the college football playoff!
Tom Gower: Ryan Pace can't help himself from trading up, can he? I get why, based on the public perception of Teven Jenkins, but there were apparently more serious than realized concerns, likely injury-related, that led to his fall.
Bryan Knowles: After a decade of holding steady, Dave Gettleman has just traded down for a second time. I'm flabbergasted.
Rivers McCown: My head is spinning from all the trade action early on in Day 2, Dave Gettleman is working the board this year, baby!
Rob Weintraub: Yes Jenkins was off Cincy's board for the injuries. I think they were extremely leery of Landon Dickerson, too. But it isn't the first round, they shouldn't worry—Bengals second-rounders don't immediately break things like their first-rounders do.
Scott Spratt: I like that the Lions have drafted offensive and defensive linemen with their first two picks. Seems like they might have their rebuild on the right track.
Bryan Knowles: Dolphins are using all that excess value and vaulting up the board twice in the second round. A little confused by the Jevon Holland pick, but Liam Eichenberg was the best lineman left, and the Miami offensive line is a big bag of question marks. Great pick.
Bryan Knowles: I'm kinda enjoying what the Raiders are doing with the draft—safety Trevon Moehrig is a decent grab at a position of need in the first round, and Alex Leatherwood is an intriguing Day 2 pick...
What's that? I have the picks backwards? I think maybe it's Las Vegas who has them backwards, but still.
Rob Weintraub: Yes I think the Bengals were hot for Eichenberg but had to know going back to 46 was a risk for that pick.
Tom Gower: I have no idea how you know how good Jaguars 45th pick Walker Little is, because he opted out of 2020 and tore his ACL in the first game in 2019, so he basically hasn't played football in a couple of years.
Aaron Schatz: Your Bengals got you an offensive lineman, Rob. The offensive tackle run has arrived.
Bryan Knowles: Is Carman going to stay at tackle, I suppose is the question—a lot of big boards, including Scouts Inc., had him shifting inside to guard. No matter the answer, the Bengals will find a use for him, I'm sure. Wouldn't argue against them drafting another lineman today as well.
Bryan Knowles: And of COURSE Walker Little went to Jacksonville. He tore his ACL! That's the siren song for Trent Baalke; he just can't help himself.
Aaron Schatz: Chargers needed a cornerback. I had CFL refugee Tevaughn Campbell listed as a starter. Asante Samuel is a great pickup for them.
Rivers McCown: Forget Tim Tebow's workout, I want to hear about Marcus Lattimore's comeback in Jacksonville.
Rob Weintraub: I'd be shocked if he ever becomes much of a tackle despite his athletic traits. 32.5-inch arm-length guys seldom make that leap in the pros. If they are drafting him to mold into a powerhouse pulling guard than it could work. He is a monster of a man. Cincy native too, for what it's worth.
Passing on Penei Sewell, though, put a lot of pressure on getting a good player here. They could have had Eichenberg, etc. Clearly the team feels new offensive line coach Frank Pollack can make something solid out of him, and they don't hear or feel the outside noise.
Without a doubt they take another lineman—maybe two, especially with the extra fourths courtesy of Mr. Bill.
Bengals go LSU-Clemson Tiger/Tiger in the first two rounds for the second straight draft.
Bryan Knowles: I thought the 49ers might take Samuel at 43 before trading down as their cornerback position at the start of this offseason was a cardboard sign saying "please don't throw here, signed the management." Seeing him go one pick before they get back on the clock makes me sad. I'm sure Aaron Banks will be fine, but dang it!
Rivers McCown: A true Dan Campbell man.
Levi Onwuzurike, with an all-timer of a quote: "I like fucking people up. I like to get off the line and just put my helmet or my hands on an offensive lineman and fuck up an offensive scheme, pretty much. I like pushing 'em back 2, 3 yards and just making 'em feel like shit."
— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) May 1, 2021
Vince Verhei: I listed wide receiver as "Not a Need" for Arizona in our ESPN draft guides. So of course they use a second-round pick on Purdue wideout Rondale Moore.
First team to 40 points wins in Arizona, I guess. Kliff Kingsbury really is building a Big 12 team.
Aaron Schatz: I guess they're giving up on Andy Isabella?
Derrik Klassen: My leading thought for the night is that the Bengals skipping on Penei Sewell looks even worse. Just significantly tougher to find offensive tackle talent outside the first round than wide receiver talent, in my opinion. I suppose this could have been circumvented to some degree by taking Teven Jenkins, but man, I do not like the Bengals approach and taking Jackson Carman as their Sewell "consolation."
Rivers McCown: Andy Wasabella.
Scott Spratt: Isabella has just 30 catches in two seasons and had a -24.4% receiving DVOA last year. I suspect they're ready to move on.
Rob Weintraub: I mean, does anyone feel more like a Cardinal than Rondale Moore?
Giants wind up with Azeez Ojulari. Great value if he stays healthy.
Scott Spratt: The Panthers traded back again. Am I the only fan excited to not make picks?
Rivers McCown: No Scott, I'm right there with you. Except for the trade down part.
Rob Weintraub: The problem with all the "take a tackle to protect Burrow!" talk is that virtually everyone seems to forget they just drafted a top-10 left tackle, Jonah Williams, whom they love despite the injuries that have limited him to a dozen games or so in two seasons. They have said throughout that he will remain the left tackle. And they signed Riley Reiff for right tackle, who may not be a long-term answer but will be better than anyone they'd draft and throw in as a rookie, I guess aside from Sewell. Where they are really lacking is size and power at guard, and that's where they envision Carman. If he develops into a tackle eventually, which I doubt, that's gravy.
Tom Gower: My favorite team's general manager doesn't know how to trade down, so I don't know what it feels like.
Scott Spratt: This is the best addition of Macho Man Randy Savage to a non-wrestling event since that Skyrim mod.
Aaron Schatz: The Browns stopped Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah's slide and they traded up to do it—with a trade that was *even* based on the more advanced draft value models. Love that Browns front office.
Bryan Knowles: Love the Browns finally stopping Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah; enjoyed the Randy Savage impersonator. But more importantly, did Charles Davis just refer to Hogan/Savage as the Towers of Power? For shame, man.
Derrik Klassen: JOK has to be a regular off-ball linebacker in Cleveland, I would imagine. They have four decent (if healthy) cornerbacks and I'm personally high on Ronnie Harrison as a third safety, so I'm not sure how JOK sees much work in the slot.
Rob Weintraub: Given the secondary injury history in Cleveland and tackling issues at linebacker, I'm sure JOK will be a depth move-around guy at worst.
Tom Gower: Titans take Dillon Radunz with their second-round pick. I wondered just how high of a priority tackle would be for them. Yeah, Kendall Lamm is currently penciled in as their starting right tackle and that's not great, but they came into the draft with five other pretty significant needs. I mean, we have Daylon Mack as their third defensive tackle as of right now (realistically, it might be last year's fifth-round pick Larrell Murchison, but he barely played last year and I'm waiting for them to take one to update that); their third outside linebacker is "your guess is as good as mine"; they don't have a tight end who can function as both a blocker and a receiver; and they don't have three legitimate receivers; so I wasn't super-high on them taking a tackle. But if they wanted a new one, I guess now is the time to do it.
Vince Verhei: "Russell, we know you're frustrated, but sit tight and we'll get you a new receiver as soon as we can, OK?"
Rivers McCown: I had Radunz to the Colts in our draft guide instead of the Titans, haha. I like the pick. I do wonder if A.J. Brown is going to get 200 targets next year.
Scott Spratt: The Packers could learn from the Seahawks' example, Vince.
Carl Yedor: Seattle's front office has left its mark on drafts over the years by trading down, but those trades typically take place in the late first round. They tend to look to trade up more often in the second round and aggressively pursue guys on their board such as DK Metcalf and Jarran Reed, to name two. This year that wasn't an option considering that they entered the draft with just three picks.
They did stick at 56 here and pick wide receiver D'Wayne Eskridge, which I was a touch surprised about considering the lack of pick volume, but they were very wary of how COVID would impact player evaluations. That should not have been a reason to simply ignore this season. Seattle needed a third receiver badly because the depth chart right now is Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and a bunch of question marks afterward. Eskridge is 24, which isn't ideal, but it was at least a logical position to attack instead of, say, running back.
Vince Verhei: OK, I laughed out loud at the framed portrait of Roger Goodell in the Rams' war room.
Aaron Schatz: D'Wayne Eskridge was Playmaker's preferred sleeper. Although there isn't really value when your sleeper goes in the second round. PFF apparently hates him. We'll see.
Scott Spratt: Aaron, maybe you should consider renting the FO crew a house somewhere tropical for the draft next year.
Vince Verhei: Scott, that seems like a great usage of some of that sweet, sweet Twitch money.
I also had wide receiver as "Not a Need" for the Rams. So of course they take Tutu Atwell out of Louisville.
The NFC West is never boring, that's for sure.
Derrik Klassen: Tutu Atwell makes sense for the Rams in that these McVay/Shanahan/etc. schemes tend to love some sort of deep threat, particularly from the slot. The issue year one is that the Rams have DeSean Jackson, so it kinda seems like Atwell is mostly a gadget player until at least Year 2.
Scott Spratt: That may only be an issue for a game or two, Derrik, given Jackson's recent injury track record.
Carl Yedor: And then the Rams follow up Seattle's pick of a short wide receiver with a short receiver of their own in Tutu Atwell. Interested to see how McVay uses Atwell this year. He probably fits in as a field-stretcher for them. Dane Brugler of The Athletic had Atwell and Eskridge ranked 10 and 11, respectively, on his board. Terrace Marshall is still out there though.
Tom Gower: The Cardinals took Rondale Moore, listed at 5-foot-7 in Dane Brugler's draft guide. The Seahawks took D'Wayne Eskridge, listed under 5-foot-9. The Rams took Atwell, also listed under 5-foot-9. What do NFC West teams know that I do not?
Derrik Klassen: That's a good point, Scott. Probably optimistic of me to believe DJax is playing 17 games.
Scott Spratt: At least my Panthers still like big receivers, Tom.
Rivers McCown: Man, I'd be so in on the Panthers as a trendy sleeper if they didn't have Sam Darnold at quarterback.
Tom Gower: Hopefully his knees are actually in better shape than yours or mine, Scott. Terrace Marshall is a fun player who would have gone a while ago if healthy.
Scott Spratt: How am I just now finding out that Carlos Basham goes by "Boogie Basham?" Suddenly I love the pick.
Rob Weintraub: Kellen Mond is going to be a popular choice to replace Kirk Cousins on Minneapolis sports-talk radio this winter...
Bryan Knowles: Recap of last few picks: Meh quarterback, Baalke torn ACL guy, meh quarterback, meh quarterback.
Tons of fun :P
(The Houston Texans select Stanford QB Davis Mills.)
Rivers McCown: Thanks, I hate it.
Rob Weintraub: Bengals take defensive end Joseph Ossai in the third round. Desperately needed a pass-rusher, and he's an athletic freak. We'll see if he develops into Carlos Dunlap, or his inconsistency follows him to the pros. Thought they might go Milton Williams, small-school Geno type here, or maybe Quinn Meinerz. But pass rush trumps those needs.
Scott Spratt: The hipster Minnesota sports talk radio stations can now demand that linebacker Chazz Surratt start over Kirk Cousins at quarterback, Robert.
Carl Yedor: I support the fullback representation by the Raiders in having Alec Ingold announce two back-to-back third-round picks tonight.
Scott Spratt: The NFL Network shows a stat for all of the pick announcers, and for Ingold, they showed that he has two career receiving touchdowns. Outstanding.
Scott Spratt: They did it! Green Bay did it! They drafted a wide receiver!
Bryan Knowles: They'll save money on jerseys, too, when Amari Rodgers takes No. 12 after Aaron is traded, right?
Tom Gower: He did it! Jon Robinson trades back! Got a fourth-round pick for moving back from 85 to 92. I can stop my constant complaint about how he has never traded back while on the clock in the first five rounds of the draft.
Bryan Knowles: Trey Sermon's not a terrible player for this point in the draft (though BackCAST is NOT a fan), but the 49ers are passing up on Elijah Molden and Ifeatu Melifonwu to take him. I'm fairly sure I'm somewhere on their cornerback depth chart as it currently stands. And they traded up for him!
The 49ers are filling positions of need, I suppose, but Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, and Kyler Murray are in your division; it is conceivable that, at some point, you're going to have to cover someone.
Aaron Schatz: Running back was a position of need? With Raheem Mostert, Wayne Gallman, JaMycal Hasty, and Jeff Wilson?
Scott Spratt: Woah, I thought Kyle Shanahan only drafted running backs with sub-4.40 40 times. Sermon ran a 4.60.
Bryan Knowles: Aaron, none of those guys are under contract for 2022 (though Hasty is an exclusive-rights free agent). It was a Round 4 or 5 need, not a Day 2 need, but I get grabbing someone at some point.
Scott Spratt: Texans doing Texans things. Did I see that right that they traded next year's fourth-rounder plus the two later picks this year for this Panthers' pick?
Bryan Knowles: I really enjoy the Browns' picks here on Day 2. Anthony Schwartz is going to leave people in the dust. All Cleveland needs to do now is teach him where to run and what to do when the ball is headed his way. You know, minor details.
Tom Gower: After trading back, the Titans take a couple of guys late in the third round.
The first, Monty Rice, is a real head-scratcher to me. I thought they might think they could use a little more depth at linebacker, but thought they were likely to be relatively confident in their top three of Rashaan Evans, the re-signed Jayon Brown, and David Long, who got experience filling in for Brown after he was injured last year. Given their remaining needs (my prediction for tonight was they'd add much-needed depth at outside linebacker, wide receiver, and tight end), I didn't see a real way for outside linebacker to make it onto a priority list. Robinson has been primarily a current needs-oriented drafter, and I'll be very curious how he describes this selection.
The second, Elijah Molden, doubles down on their need at cornerback. He was a safety in the base defense at Washington and projects as a slot corner and maybe plus. I'll be curious how the Titans project him, if it's as a safety who can play slot, as a pure slot corner and core special teams player, or what. He was a terrific college player and most people had him going much higher, but isn't big at only 5-foot-9 and didn't run well with a 4.60s 40-yard dash. Also, they already took a corner and have significant needs at outside linebacker, wide receiver, and tight end. Even with the extra fourth-round pick they got from trading back, I'm curious to see how they fill their remaining needs and which remain unfilled.