Defense Becomes Focus Of Nfl Draft In Round 2 After Bills And Chargers Get Receivers Early

Crowds fill an area outside of the draft stage during the second round of the NFL football draft, Friday, April 26, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Crowds fill an area outside of the draft stage during the second round of the NFL football draft, Friday, April 26, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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Defense became the focus of the NFL draft on Friday night after a record-setting 23 offensive players were selected in the first round.

The Atlanta Falcons, who shocked everyone by taking quarterback Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8, kicked off the shift by moving up to take Clemson defensive lineman Ruke Orhorhoro with the third pick of the second round.

“I can’t let them down, and I’ll do everything in my will power to not let them down," Orhorhoro said.

The Commanders then took Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton and a total of 20 defensive players went in a round that saw seven trades as teams were wheeling and dealing to get their guy.

The Titans took a chance on Texas defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat with the 38th pick after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Sweat visited Tennessee after the incident and new coach Brian Callahan along with general manager Ran Carthon and defensive line coach Tracy Rocker went to his home to visit him and his family.

“We had some tough conversations while we were there,” Carthon said.

After Florida State defensive tackle Braden Fiske went to the Rams, the Philadelphia Eagles moved up to grab Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean at No. 40. The Eagles made Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell the first cornerback taken at No. 22 and the addition of DeJean fortifies a now-crowded secondary that includes Darius Slay and James Bradberry.

“All I wanted was an opportunity to play,” said DeJean, who was projected to be a first-round pick. “Obviously, there’s a little frustration yesterday, but I’m excited with where I’m at."

DeJean started a run on cornerbacks with three more going in a row. Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry went to New Orleans, Georgia’s Kamari Lassiter was selected by Houston and Arizona chose Max Melton from Rutgers.

The third round was nearly split with 20 of the 37 picks being offensive players.

Day 2 opened with the Buffalo Bills and the Los Angeles Chargers giving their star quarterbacks new wide receivers.

After trading down twice and out of the first round, the Bills opened the second round by selecting Florida State’s Keon Coleman to give Josh Allen another playmaker who can help replace Stefon Diggs.

“He has everything pretty much you want in a quarterback,” Coleman said of Allen. “I’ll love to play with him.”

The Chargers, who chose Notre Dame left tackle Joe Alt over wideouts Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze with the fifth overall pick, traded up to take Georgia’s Ladd McConkey at No. 34. Justin Herbert will be counting on him to fill the void following the departures of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

“Just watching his game, it comes easy to him,” McConkey said of Herbert. “He can make any and every throw. Excited to get out there, get in rhythm with him, show him what I can do and gain his trust.”

Seven wide receivers went Thursday night, tying a record for most in the first round. Four more went in the second. The most receivers drafted in the first two rounds is 13 in 2020.

New England chose Washington’s Ja’Lynn Polk to make it 10 wide receivers in the top 37. Adonai Mitchell from Texas became the 11th wideout taken when the Colts selected him at No. 52.

No quarterbacks were selected on Friday after a record six went in the top 12 on Thursday, including five of the first eight picks.

The Bills raised plenty of eyebrows in trading the 28th pick to AFC rival Kansas City, which took wideout Xavier Worthy. Buffalo then dealt the 32nd pick to Carolina and watched the Panthers take wideout Xavier Legette.

But the Bills added a third-rounder and more draft capital and still ended up with a talented receiver in Coleman, who had a disappointing 4.61-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been caught from behind,” Coleman said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to not be able to run by somebody. More so than that, I don’t think there was ever just one DB that just sat when I was running at them. So that pretty much tells you all you need to know.”

The Raiders got a first-round talent at No. 44, selecting Oregon interior lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson.

Texas A&M linebacker Edgerrin Cooper went to Green Bay before Jonathon Brooks became the first running back selected at No. 46 by Carolina.

The Giants got Minnesota safety Tyler Nubin, the Jaguars took LSU defensive lineman Maason Smith and the Bengals chose Michigan defensive lineman Kris Jenkins.

The Commanders, who got picks Nos. 50 and 53 from the Eagles in the deal for No. 40, chose Michigan cornerback Mike Sainristil with the first of the two selections. They went with Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott at No. 53.

West Virginia center Zach Frazier went to Pittsburgh with the 51st pick, giving Russell Wilson more protection. They took interior lineman Troy Fautanu at No. 20 on Thursday.

The Browns made their first pick of the draft at No. 54, going with Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Hall Jr. The Dolphins took Houston offensive tackle Patrick Paul and the Cowboys selected Western Michigan edge Marshawn Kneeland.

Alabama edge Chris Braswell went to Tampa Bay. The Packers got Georgia safety Javon Bullard. Houston added Notre Dame offensive tackle Blake Fisher.

Utah safety Cole Bishop was Buffalo’s pick at No. 60. The Lions chose Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. as fans in Detroit roared when Hall of Famer Barry Sanders walked to the stage with the mayor to announce the pick. Washington offensive tackle Roger Rosengarten was selected by the Ravens.

The second round concluded with the Chiefs taking BYU offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia and the 49ers choosing Florida State cornerback Renardo Green.

Third-round highlights included three players from national champion Michigan going in a row. The Rams took Wolverines running back Blake Corum at No. 83, the Steelers chose wide receiver Roman Wilson and the Browns selected guard Zak Zinter.

That prompted new Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh to sing Michigan's fight song in Los Angeles’ draft room.