The closer we get to the NFL draft, the more time we spend honing in on Round 1. It makes sense; the first round is the only thing we can hope to really predict. By the time it’s finished, trades and surprises make predicting the second round and beyond near impossible.
However, I do want to focus on some Day 2 players, teams and fits that are particularly exciting. So much so that I'd imagine these teams have these players circled on their boards and even if they have to move off their spots in the second round, they will hope to add them.
This list is far from comprehensive nor is it exclusive — Miami could use a lot of the safeties, not just the one I've listed — it's just my favorites.
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
When I look at Carolina's receiving corps, I generally like what I see — Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel — but I have two concerns.
Head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady didn't draft any of these players and added Anderson largely because of the Temple connection. Anderson's safe on a two-year deal; but with the Panthers clearly in sell mode, players like Moore and Samuel could very well be on the trade block as Rhule and Brady aren't really invested in their development.
This is exacerbated by the second concern: similar skill sets, particularly in Samuel's case. A lot of what he does well is what Anderson does well. Both are speed players with good enough routes but who make most of their money as deep bomb or short yards-after-catch players. Nobody on this roster fills the role of the above-the-rim or contested-catch threat on the outside.
But Denzel Mims does and Rhule knows this after coaching (and dominating with) Mims at Baylor. Rhule has keyed-in on adding players with who he is familiar with and Mims is as familiar as it gets. He can fill an outside receiving role for the Panthers to allow Anderson and Moore to win in the slot.
Ashtyn Davis, S, California
The Dolphins have needed a safety since Minkah Fitzpatrick’s departure at the beginning of 2019. When looking at Fitzpatrick replacements, it feels self-evident the Dolphins would value Xavier McKinney or Jeremy Chinn, someone who plays in the box.
But when I look at a roster with elite man cover options in Byron Jones and Xavien Howard — who are at their best near the line of scrimmage, playing vertical third coverage — I immediately want to prioritize a free safety. Reshad Jones was cut after the season and now Miami needs someone with range, hitting power and ball skills to support its outside corners and allow it to play plus-1 in the box.
If that's anyone in the class, it’s Ashtyn Davis. The groin injury that kept him out of the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine could keep his stock low enough to be had at No. 56.
Lynn Bowden, WR, Kentucky
No team in the NFL got more out of their rushing quarterback last season than the Ravens did; few teams in college football got more out of their rushing quarterback than Kentucky did last season.
Lynn Bowden isn't a true passer; he's a wide receiver of a gadgety mold but that could work well in Baltimore. The Ravens have wideouts Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin to develop on the outside, but Bowden could offer reps from the slot while spending some time in the backfield as a threat on option plays to both run and pass besides Lamar Jackson.
Is it necessary? Absolutely not. But Taysom Hill isn't necessary, he's just confusing and inconvenient. Adding another layer to the already difficult task of preparing for the Lamar-led Ravens offense is a great chess move for the cost of a Day 3 pick which is where Bowden will be going.
Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
The Cowboys are in a tricky position. They have a desperate need at EDGE and a lot of needs that could be survived but all feel pressing. They have enough talent at cornerback, interior defensive line, tight end and safety that they could get by next year without feeling forced into grabbing a starter at each position.
I'd be hunting high-risk, high-reward picks in the later rounds which Bryce Hall certainly is. He'll be devalued because he's scheme-specific — he has to play in Seattle’s cover 3 mold — and his injury history. Hall, however, fits what Dallas valued under DB coach Kris Richard last year: tall, long, speed, ball skills. With Byron Jones out of the building, they need another player who can win in deep third coverage -- that's Hall.
If Hall can't stay healthy or if he struggles then the Cowboys missed on a Round 3 pick (82nd overall), which is an unsure thing to begin with. They would back with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. If Hall hits as an outside starter in their system, it’s huge value outside of the top 80.
Marlon Davidson, IDL, Auburn
I don't have Marlon Davidson graded that highly, but it sounds like he's going to be an early pick. If so, it will be to a team that is well-suited to his strengths as a 4-technique with inside/outside rush versatility, a hot motor and a lot of physicality. It screams teams from the New England defensive tree, which Houston is certainly one.
The Texans lost D.J. Reader in free agency this year after losing Jadeveon Clowney to franchise tag shenanigans the last offseason; the strength of their team and specifically the defensive line is weakening. Davidson can immediately take a starting defensive end spot in Houston’s 3-man fronts, rush from the inside when it goes for even fronts and still present an outside rush threat against NFL tackles on base downs. He won't be a high sack number player next to J.J. Watt, but he will immediately boost the rest of the defensive line with his effort and strength.
Davidson has always been a great second fiddle to Derrick Brown; so the Texans make him second fiddle to Watt and let him continue cleaning up scraps and winning the clutch battles when offenses skew their attention to the star.