This year’s draft class is one of the best classes that I have evaluated in quite some time. At the top of the draft we have an outstanding crop of players, with potentially five franchise quarterbacks, two franchise left tackles, and a trio of future No. 1 receivers. Teams who are picking within the first 12-15 picks will be extremely happy with the players they’ll have the ability to choose from and it is likely that the player they choose will be a day-one difference-maker early on. This is not to make any fan of a team who isn’t in the top 15 feel bad, as I believe that this draft is not just extremely talented, but very deep as well.
When I made my Top 50 Big Board a few weeks back I tweeted out that the difference between player 20 and player 38 is very minimal. This is a testament to the depth of this year’s class, and you can easily see very talented players begin to fall relative to where you have them on your board. Because of this, I fully expect to see players who have first-round grades by multiple teams slip to the second round because other teams have higher grades on other players. This could lead to a very active top of the second round as teams look to trade up to secure the players they feel should not be there in round two.
Now, this isn’t really anything earth-shattering. Every year we see teams do deals prior to the start of day two to target specific players who fell to the second round. I remember in 2017 when the Arizona Cardinals traded up in the second round to select Budda Baker, as they felt he was a first-round player who inexplicably slipped. I’d say that trade has more than paid off. Another trade-up in the second round that comes to mind is the Indianapolis Colts trading up in last year’s draft to select Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor. Again, Taylor was a player the Colts felt should have been selected in round one and they could not sit and wait any longer to get their guy.
Given that this class is so deep, I fully expect to see a ton of activity early in Round 2 as good players will inevitably fall. Here are five players I could see teams being very aggressive moving up for prior to the start of day two if they fall out of Round 1.
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
This is an easy one. A trend we have seen over the last three years is that teams love to draft running backs at the top of the second round. Players such as Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones, D’Andre Swift, and Jonathan Taylor all came off the board early in round two, and I can easily see that trend continuing in this year’s class. Harris is very likely to be a first-round pick and is the favorite to be the first running back off the board. However, if he does go behind Travis Etienne, there is a chance he falls to the second round just because teams may invest in other positions with their top pick. If Harris falls, I fully expect teams to trade up to get him and he shouldn’t last more than four or so picks into Round 2.
Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington
The defensive tackle position is one of this year’s weakest groups. I personally have Onwuzurike as my No. 1 defensive tackle in this class and think he is deserving of a first-round selection. Now, that sentiment isn’t shared by a lot of folks in the draft community and there is a growing belief that Alabama’s Christian Barmore will be DT1 on draft day and could hear his name called a lot earlier than expected. If Onwuzurike is available at the beginning of day two, teams may want to move up to secure one of the draft’s only interior disruptors.
Terrace Marshall, WR, LSU
Marshall is likely to be drafted in Round 1, but depending on how the back half of the first round shakes out, could fall to the second round. If he falls, he will join the likes of Elijah Moore, Rondale Moore, and Kadarius Toney as receivers who are likely to be in consideration early in round two. Teams will be tempted to move up for Marshall because, unlike the other three, he possesses outstanding size and has proven to win on the outside against physical defensive backs. If a team is looking for a traditional outside receiver who can win down the field with very good speed and ball skills, Marshall could be their guy.
Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
If Moehrig falls to the second round it means that no safety was drafted in Round 1. It would be the first time in many years that a safety doesn’t go on the opening night of the draft, but it’s a scenario that I could see happening. Let me clarify: Moehrig is extremely deserving of a first-round pick. I have him as a top-20 player in this class and I am willing to bet my credibility on him succeeding in the pros. However, the fact of the matter is that the teams in the back end of the draft may not be targeting a safety. If Moehrig is available in round two, I could see a team trading up to get the No. 1 safety on the board, but they may not be able to as I could very easily see the Jaguars drafting him with the first pick of the second round.
Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
This year’s offensive tackle class may not be better than last year’s at the top of the draft, but I think it has more depth. Because of that depth, talented players like Cosmi may fall to the second round. I personally like Cosmi a lot more than the consensus—and to me, he is a surefire first-round tackle. If he does fall to the second, it would be easy to see a team moving up to secure a starting left tackle whose best football is ahead of him.