One night after the number of viewers tuning in to the 2020 NFL draft’s first round exceeded a record 15.6 million people, there were still hundreds of aspiring draft picks awaiting their fateful phone call from the comfort of their homes.
With the likes of cornerback Damon Arnette, linebacker Jordyn Brooks and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire earning surprising first-round designations, the door was left open for teams to snag big names without having to sign them to first round contracts.
But when it was all said and done, the definition of big name was up for interpretation. While Tee Higgins and Jonathan Taylor are recognizable to nearly every college football fan, Lenoir-Rhyne’s Kyle Dugger, a Division II blue-chip prospect, also had the honor of being a second-round pick, to the Patriots, no less.
At some picks, teams jumped at the chance to select players who fell out of the first round. At others —like the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 53 — the surprises continued, with Twitter truly going off the rails. Here’s what went down in rounds two and three Friday evening.
The former Cal star didn’t have to wait long into the third round for his professional career to officially begin. After just a few selections in round three, Davis found himself on the same roster as Sam Darnold, Le’Veon Bell and one of the NFL’s top safeties, Jamal Adams.
While Adams occupies the strong safety position, former Florida star Marcus Maye currently slides in as the starting free safety for New York, the position Davis saw the most time at during his collegiate career.
“I know the vets are starting Monday, so I want to start as soon as possible with whatever I can do, whether that’s film stuff, whether that’s getting on a field tomorrow,” Davis said in a conference call. “I’m hyped up and I’m ready to get started.”
A product of Santa Cruz High School located just a couple of hours from Berkeley, Davis will make the cross-country trip to New York and compete with the green and white. His selection by the Jets marks the first NFL pick from Cal’s program since 2018, when linebacker Devante Downs and defensive end James Looney were taken in the seventh round.
‘First round talent’ in round two
Four former Alabama products under Nick Saban were selected in the first round, but safety Xavier McKinney was not among them. Neither was defensive back Trevon Diggs, another player pegged with first round talent.
To see McKinney slide to No. 36 and Diggs to No. 51 came as a bit of a surprise, but they weren’t alone among the draft picks with aspirations of a first round selection. Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos was heralded as a late first round pick, but ultimately will suit up beside Derrick Brown with the Panthers after Carolina scooped him up at No. 38.
Another presumed first rounder in the eyes of draft analysts? Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun. It would take until the third round, at pick No. 74, when Baun’s name would finally come off the board, with the Saints moving up to snag the former Badgers star.
Las Vegas’ selection of Arnette was likely the biggest head-turner Thursday night. Philadelphia and general manager Howie Roseman took things a step further a day later, selecting popular quarterback Jalen Hurts at No. 53 overall, despite the fact that 27-year-old Carson Wentz is still on the roster.
Prior to the selection, Hurts’ versatility actually forced teams to re-think his future as a quarterback at the next level, but with the ascent of Lamar Jackson leading the way for mobile signal-callers in the NFL, Hurts’ stock reached its pinnacle midway through round No. 2. But it’s the destination, Philadelphia, that not many folks saw coming.
Delayed, but not denied: Safeties make their move
For the second consecutive draft, a safety was not selected in round one, meaning a run on the “center field” of football defenses was almost inevitable. Following McKinney and Dugger’s back-to-back selections, LSU’s Grant Delpit and Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. were chosen just a handful of picks later, pitting four safeties in the first 13 picks of the second round.
That left Southern Illinois safety Jeremy Chinn and Cal’s own, Ashtyn Davis, as the highest projected safeties midway through round two. But rather than extend the run on safeties, teams with needs in the secondary diverted attention to Diggs, Utah’s Jaylon Johnson and LSU’s Kristian Fulton (yes, quite a few Tigers were selected this year), cornerbacks with early second round grades.
When the Panthers traded up to select Chinn with the final pick (No. 64) of the second round, leaving Davis as the highest-ranked safety, it marked five safeties taken in round two alone.
Quarterbacks linger as third round ends with a thud
A year ago, not many people could have predicted that Utah State’s Jordan Love and Hurts would be selected before Georgia’s Jake Fromm, and they certainly would not have expected them to go before Washington’s Jacob Eason, a former five-star product with the build of a modern-day pocket passer.
But with Love becoming the destined heir of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and Hurts’ surprise selection, the third round began with Fromm and Eason looking on nervously, despite being ranked as two of the top ranked available players.
Their evening dragged on and ultimately concluded without the two quarterbacks hearing their names called. While many pegged the Patriots as a potential landing spot for one of the top remaining quarterback prospects, New England opted to bolster its dried up source of tight ends with trades for UCLA’s Devin Asiasi and Virginia Tech’s Dalton Keene late in the third round.
Best available heading into Saturday
Jared Allen. Shannon Sharpe. Tom Brady. Three of the many NFL stars who began their careers with selections in the fourth round or later. More than 100 picks into the 2020 draft, there’s still gold out there in the form of an underrated or unheralded prospect.
While Fromm and Eason certainly aren’t unheralded, the value they offer at this point in the draft makes them the best available players left heading into day three. Elsewhere, the likes of Utah’s Bradlee Anae, Oregon’s Troy Dye and Boise State’s Curtis Weaver headline the top remaining defensive prospects, while Ohio State’s K.J. Hill, Washington’s Hunter Bryant and Florida’s La’Mical Perine figure to be fourth round picks early Saturday.