NEW YORK — As we enter Day 2 of the 2011 NFL Draft, here are some topics we’re mulling as teams set their draft boards for Rounds two and 3. Teams change their boards after the first round, adjusting to what happened and re-assessing the players who are left.
- When it comes to injured players still on the draft board, it’s smart for teams to look past the latest physical and focus on the long-term longevity of players with medical question marks. The most notable player in this category is Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers, who slid out of the first round because of questions about his surgically repaired knee. Teams with multiple picks in a round — like Cleveland, Denver, San Diego, Washington and New England in the second — have the leeway to take a chance on a player like Bowers. A couple of seasons ago, the Patriots took the same chance on WR Robert Tate, who was injured and for whom they had to wait a season. That turned out pretty well. That’s the value of owning multiple picks in these rounds. The Broncos chose LB Von Miller with the second overall pick in the draft, and if they were thinking ahead, they could have been planning to take a chance on Bowers with the third pick of the second round.
- I see a lot of players left on the board between 30 and 45 who are very equal. The key for teams in the middle rounds is to identify the tiers that exist within position groups and which groups are comparatively strong versus the others. If two players are relatively equal at different positions, teams always lean toward the player from the weaker group who will give them the greater value. There’s no question that quarterbacks are paramount in the draft process, and teams always should overdraft at the position. But with Andy Dalton and Ryan Mallett still on the board, if teams have them rated similarly with a player at another position, they have to ask themselves if they can get better value at the other position in the next round. The answer is yes, which makes the quarterback the better value and the decision easier.
- I’m expecting there to be a run on cornerbacks in the second round. Teams’ draft boards at defensive line and offensive line were decimated in the first round, as 20 of the 32 picks were at those positions. At this point, linebackers and defensive backs become paramount because they hold more value than other positions. It’s not until they come off the board that I expect the value of other positions to gain value. Given the percentage of the time that NFL teams play in nickel and sub packages, you’re really looking at defensive backs being three-down players. Of the guys on the board, I really like Brandon Harris of Miami, Aaron Williams of Texas and Ras-I Dowling of Virginia, the top three defensive backs on my Hot 100.