On a night when many anticipated a second-round run on quarterbacks, NFL teams instead waited until the third round of the draft on Friday to turn their attention to signal-callers.
Teams that seemingly needed a young quarterback such as the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons both passed twice on drafting a QB in Round 2.
That left QBs such as Liberty’s Malik Willis, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral and North Carolina’s Sam Howell all waiting to hear their name called as the Las Vegas event moved into Round 3.
Friday’s development came after only one quarterback was chosen in the first round — Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, by the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 20.
Ridder finally went off the board to the Falcons 10 picks into the third round, No. 74 overall.
“They’re going to get everything out of me — a Super Bowl out of me,” Ridder said on ABC’s draft broadcast. “I’m not leaving until I get a Super Bowl.”
Willis, once considered a potential top-10 pick, was chosen by the Tennessee Titans a dozen picks later.
“He was the best player on our board,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson told reporters, adding that Willis “has a lot of work to do, obviously, like all the young kids do, but we’re excited to add him to the team and let him compete.”
Corral went to the Carolina Panthers with the 30th pick in the third round (94th overall). Howell, among other prospects, will have to wait until the draft concludes with Rounds 4-7 on Saturday.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began Round 2 by choosing Houston defensive end Logan Hall. The pick originally belonged to the Jacksonville Jaguars before they moved up six slots in a trade with Tampa Bay on Thursday evening, allowing the Buccaneers to kick off Thursday night’s action.
The Green Bay Packers then traded up to select Aaron Rodgers’ newest weapon, North Dakota State wideout Christian Watson. The Packers sent two second-round picks (Nos. 53 and 59) to the Minnesota Vikings to move up for Watson.
“If you love a player, you just find a way to get him,” Packers director of football operations Milt Hendrickson said.
Two picks later, the New York Jets traded up with their crosstown rival Giants to choose Iowa State’s Breece Hall, the first running back off the board in the 2022 draft. Thursday marked the first time since 2014 that no running back was selected in the opening round.
Many expected Seattle to choose a quarterback with either the 40th or 41st pick with Russell Wilson now in Denver. However, the Seahawks opted to go with a pair of Big Ten standouts — Minnesota linebacker Boye Mafe and Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III.
Meanwhile, Atlanta had a pair of second-round picks and chose two defensive players — Penn State defensive end Arnold Ebiketie at No. 38 and Montana State linebacker Troy Andersen 20 picks later.
One of the most popular positions Friday once again was wide receiver, as seven were picked in the second round after six wideouts were chosen Thursday.
The New England Patriots (Baylor’s Tyquan Thornton at No. 50), Steelers (Georgia’s George Pickens at No. 52) and Kansas City Chiefs (Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore at No. 54) chose wide receivers in Round 2.
Moore will be part of a wide receiver committee that attempts to replace the production of Tyreek Hill, who was dealt to the Miami Dolphins earlier this offseason.
“The one thing that stood out with this kid is he is smart,” Kansas City director of football operations Mike Borgonzi said of Moore. “If you watch this kid on film, he’s not the biggest guy, but he is fearless across the middle. Dependable. For a smaller guy, he really goes up and gets the ball. We feel really good about fitting him into this offense.”
–Field Level Media