The second round was bountiful, with 20 starters coming from the 32 picks and a few stars mixed in. The Titans found a game-breaking wide receiver in A.J. Brown, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. What’s in store for him and another breakout star receiver, DK Metcalf of the Seahawks, in their second seasons? Eagles running back Miles Sanders took his time but developed into the dual threat many envisioned. What does a sophomore season look like for him?
NFL Nation reporters assess how every second-round pick did in his first season and then project what 2020 will bring on this scale:
He’s a star
On his way
He’s a starter
Has a lot to prove
Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Analysis: There was a lot to like about Murphy in 2019, but he has a lot to learn. He was thrown into the fire early after Patrick Peterson was suspended for the first six games. Murphy was able to hold his own after he was moved inside and then outside. With Peterson set to return for 2020 season and Robert Alford, who missed last season with an ACL injury, expected back, Murphy will be able to play in one spot consistently and get some needed guidance from two veterans.
Rating: He’s a starter. — Josh Weinfuss
Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
Analysis: Ya-Sin, who was projected by some to be a first-round pick, started 13 of 15 games as a rookie. One of his biggest challenges was going from being a man-to-man cornerback at Temple to playing more zone with the Colts. Ya-Sin was often praised by the coaching staff for his ability to shake off bad plays. “He had some really good moments, and he had some ugly moments,” general manager Chris Ballard said in January. “Let me tell you what I love about this kid: He’s exactly what we thought he was going to be in terms of grit, toughness.” Ya-Sin was called for nine penalties, second most on the team. He had 62 tackles, five passes defended and an interception. He’ll have the inside track to start alongside veteran Xavier Rhodes this season.
Rating: He’s a starter. — Mike Wells
Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Analysis: He has a chance to be a Pro Bowl right tackle if he can be a little more disciplined. The biggest thing is penalties. Taylor was tied for the NFL lead with 15, nine of which were holding penalties. They were mainly a result of being slightly out of position and grabbing to compensate. Clean up some footwork and that number should go way down. Even with those issues, Taylor was one of the Jaguars’ better offensive linemen last season and the organization is excited about his potential.
Rating: He’s a starter. — Michael DiRocco
Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
Analysis: As his rookie season wore on and he got more comfortable, Samuel became the Niners’ most versatile and dangerous offensive weapon. He accounted for 961 yards from scrimmage, which ranked second among all rookies, and scored six touchdowns. He also set a record for rushing yards by a wide receiver in the Super Bowl with 53. To take the next step to full-blown stardom, Samuel will need to cut down on drops (his seven were tied for second most in the league), but his role in the offense should only continue to expand as he enters Year 2, making Samuel a vital piece on coach Kyle Shanahan’s chessboard.
Rating: On his way. — Nick Wagoner
Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
Analysis: Little seemed on his way to being the left tackle until suffering his second concussion in a month during an Oct. 2 game against the Texans. He didn’t get onto the field again until Week 11, and then landed on injured reserve. Doubts about his rookie season prompted the Panthers to trade for veteran left tackle Russell Okung, giving Little time to grow into the position. He still could be the future left tackle, but now there’s no need to rush him into that spot.
Rating: Has a lot to prove. — David Newton
Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Analysis: Ford was on a learning curve in his first season blocking for a quarterback who does most of his work outside of the pocket. He split the right tackle job with Ty Nsekhe but shined toward the end of the season when he held his own against pass-rushers such as Von Miller, DeMarcus Lawrence, T.J. Watt and J.J. Watt. Ford is not a finished product but is an NFL starter right now. Whether his long-term position is tackle or guard remains to be seen.
Rating: He’s a starter. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Sean Murphy-Bunting, CB, Central Michigan
Analysis: Coach Bruce Arians called out Murphy-Bunting in the preseason because he wasn’t making the plays in games he was making in practice. But that was due to his learning the outside and nickelback roles. Murphy-Bunting started 10 games, lining up on the outside and moving inside in nickel situations. He had a game-winning interception at Jacksonville in Week 13 and had a pick-six against the Lions in Week 15. “Coming from that day that he said that until now, I feel like it’s been a big improvement,” Murphy-Bunting said.
Rating: He’s a starter. — Jenna Laine
Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
Analysis: Mullen became a starter at cornerback in Week 8 after the Raiders dealt 2017 first-round pick Gareon Conley to the Texans. Solid but not spectacular, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Mullen showed a certain “stickiness” in coverage and finished with an interception, 10 passes defensed and 50 tackles. But perhaps he impressed coach Jon Gruden most when he started the season finale, with a playoff spot still in play, a week after being stretchered off the field. “He is the brightest light of the whole thing for me,” Gruden said in his season-ending news conference. “He’s got a huge upside, and to get our second-rounder playing well is something I’m mostly very excited about.”
Rating: On his way. — Paul Gutierrez
Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
Analysis: Risner started 16 games at left guard and played all but 38 snaps. The Broncos drafted him because they believed he could be a fixture at guard “for a long, long time,” coach Vic Fangio said. Risner could also play tackle or center, if needed, given that he started at both positions in college. Risner will be the starter at left guard in 2020, and because of his talent, approach and work ethic, many believe he will be a captain at some point. Even as a rookie, the veterans lauded his leadership.
Rating: On his way. — Jeff Legwold
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Analysis: Lock started the final five games of the 2019 season. Although the Broncos went 4-1, the jury is still out on his long-term outlook. The Broncos scored more than 16 points in seven games last season, but three of those came in Lock’s five starts. Coach Vic Fangio and president of football operations/general manager John Elway said early in the offseason Lock would be the starter in 2020, and they have waived Joe Flacco and signed Jeff Driskel as the backup. With the current social distancing restrictions and Colorado’s stay-at-home order, Lock has had to do much of the work with the playbook remotely, and he will have to continue to do that with OTAs and the rest of the offseason program a question mark.
Rating: He’s a starter. — Jeff Legwold
Jahlani Tavai, ILB, Hawai’i
Analysis: He was a surprise pick last year at No. 43 but ended up being a factor for the Lions. Tavai played a little bit of everywhere when he was used — which is why it fits to say he has a lot to prove. It’s a matter of figuring out how Detroit wants to deploy Tavai. Does he play the middle, do they move him outside, does he rush the passer? How does he fit in a crowded linebacker room? Having a potential mentor in Jamie Collins might help, but if Tavai builds on a 58-tackle, two-sack rookie season, there’s reason to believe he’ll be a difference-maker in 2020.
Rating: Has a lot to prove. — Michael Rothstein
Elgton Jenkins, C, Mississippi State
Analysis: He took over as a starter in Week 3 and finished eighth among NFL guards in ESPN’s pass block win rate metric (95%) and first among rookie offensive linemen regardless of position. He was named to the Pro Football Writers of America all-rookie team and was part of an offensive line that blocked for 18 rushing touchdowns, the most by a Packers team in 10 years. While the Packers view him as a long-term star at guard, he could move to center at some point after Corey Linsley‘s time is up. If the Packers had to do it again, they might take Jenkins in the first round.
Rating: He’s a star. — Rob Demovsky
Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt
Analysis: Through no fault of his own, Williams was buried on arguably the deepest cornerback depth chart in the NFL, behind Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones, so he played sparingly. There’s still reason to think he will become a key contributor, but he hit a different type of speed bump this offseason when he was arrested after officers stopped him for speeding and found that he had a controlled substance, drug paraphernalia and prescription drugs without a prescription, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Rating: Has a lot to prove. — Mike Reiss
Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Analysis: Williams stood out in training camp, which propelled him to becoming a Week 1 starter to begin last season opposite Denzel Ward. Williams started all 12 games after missing four weeks early in the season because of a hamstring injury. At times, Williams proved to be a more willing tackler than his draft reputation suggested, though he also had plenty of whiffs, especially later in the season. Williams had some rough moments in coverage but overall showed he has the ability to cover in this league.
Rating: He’s a starter. — Jake Trotter
Marquise Blair, S, Utah
Analysis: Blair could use his own category: “Should’ve played more.” He’s somewhere between having a lot to prove and being a starter because it’s a mystery to many — including some in the Seahawks organization — why he didn’t start late last season while Quandre Diggs was hurt. Missing significant time in the spring and summer because of hamstring and back injuries didn’t help, but Blair lived up to his reputation as a thumper and made some big plays over three midseason starts. Veteran strong safety Bradley McDougald ($5.43 million cap charge) has a year left on his deal, but Blair will have a chance to beat him out for the starting job next to Diggs.
Rating: Has a lot to prove. — Brady Henderson
Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M
Analysis: Not only did McCoy fill a glaring need for the Saints after Pro Bowl center Max Unger retired last spring, but he was also widely praised as the top rookie center in the NFL last season. The 6-foot-4, 303-pounder actually led the Saints with 1,058 snaps while starting all 17 games, including the playoffs. Pro Football Focus had McCoy graded as the fourth-best center in the NFL — and the only one with both a pass-blocking and run-blocking grade above 75.0. And the Saints’ offense didn’t miss much of a beat, tying for third in the NFL in points per game (28.6) and fewest sacks allowed (25).
Rating: On his way. — Mike Triplett
Ben Banogu, OLB, TCU
Analysis: The Colts thought Banogu would be a linebacker when they selected him, but he moved to defensive end during offseason workouts. Banogu spent his rookie season as part of the Colts’ rotation at defensive end. He didn’t have more than two tackles in a game and finished with 2.5 sacks. “Flashes from Ben, but need more,” GM Chris Ballard said. “I think he’ll continue to develop.” Banogu will have an opportunity to get even more snaps if the Colts don’t re-sign veteran defensive end Jabaal Sheard. Banogu, Kemoko Turay and veteran Justin Houston are the Colts’ top three pass-rushers.
Rating: Has a lot to prove. — Mike Wells
Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
Analysis: Smith was gradually worked into the mix and exceeded expectation. When the Vikings lost receiver Adam Thielen for almost two months, Smith stepped into a bigger role (36 catches, 311 yards, two touchdowns) and emerged as a reliable target for quarterback Kirk Cousins. That’s why it’s possible the replacement for Stefon Diggs might already be on Minnesota’s roster, given how much Gary Kubiak’s offenses rely on tight ends. In his 21 seasons as a head coach or offensive coordinator (1995-2015), Kubiak’s tight ends have received an average of 23% of targets per season. Target share should increase for Smith and Kyle Rudolph in 2020 after they were underutilized at times last season.
Rating: On his way. — Courtney Cronin
A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Analysis: Brown has become a primary weapon for the Titans’ offense. He was the franchise’s first rookie to record a 1,000-yard receiving season since Ernest Givins in 1986. Brown’s ability to gain yards after the catch is as good as that of any receiver in the NFL and led to his having the second-highest average yards per catch (20.2) last season. Brown had four touchdown receptions of 50-plus yards, which was the most by a rookie since Randy Moss had five in 1998 with the Vikings. The charisma Brown showed as a rookie made him one of the most popular players on the team.
Ranking: He’s a star. — Turron Davenport
Drew Sample, TE, Washington
Analysis: Sample didn’t have many chances as a rookie. Before he missed the last seven games of the season because of an ankle injury, he ranked 80th in routes run by tight ends, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. To put that in perspective, Bengals tight ends Tyler Eifert and C.J. Uzomah ranked 19th and 31st, respectively. Sample will be asked to increase his production with Eifert signing with Jacksonville. In nine games, Sample had five catches for 30 yards.
Rating: Has a lot to prove. — Ben Baby
Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
Analysis: It took some time for Sanders to find his footing, but once he did, he became a force. A dual threat out of the backfield, he averaged more than 5 yards per carry and 97 all-purpose yards from Week 8 on — a surge that pushed him into the Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation. The offense stabilized when Sanders emerged as the lead back, benefiting from his surprisingly sure hands and explosive style of play. There is no doubt he’ll be the primary ball carrier moving forward, with the chance to be among the most productive backs in the NFL.
Rating: On his way. — Tim McManus
Lonnie Johnson Jr., CB, Kentucky
Analysis: Johnson has a chance to be a starter in 2020 after an up-and-down rookie season. Coach and general manager Bill O’Brien believes Johnson has a lot of potential, which is clear based on how much he played as a rookie. “He’s going to have to build that catalog so that he can just refer to his notes when he goes up against a guy, and he’ll know what to expect and how he should be able to play him,” former defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said in December. Houston is hopeful that Johnson can take that step between his rookie and second NFL seasons because it is depending on him to play significant snaps in a secondary that has question marks.
Rating: Has a lot to prove. — Sarah Barshop
Max Scharping, OT, Northern Illinois
Analysis: Scharping was part of the Texans’ revamped offensive line that included left tackle Laremy Tunsil and rookie right tackle Tytus Howard. Scharping had a big jump to make last season from playing at Northern Illinois to the NFL, and he did so relatively well. O’Brien has praised Scharping for being “very coachable” and said he thought the guard improved as his rookie season progressed. Scharping is expected to be Houston’s starting left guard again in 2020.
Rating: He’s a starter. — Sarah Barshop
Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia
Analysis: As a rookie, Hardman delivered exactly what the Chiefs hoped he would: big plays. His touchdowns last season came from 42, 83, 21, 30, 63, 48 and 104 yards. Whether he gives the Chiefs even more this season depends on his playing time. The Chiefs are holding on to Sammy Watkins and re-signed Demarcus Robinson, so Hardman might not get the ball much more than he did as a rookie. That’s fine with the Chiefs as long as the big plays keep coming.
Rating: On his way. — Adam Teicher
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford
Analysis: Arcega-Whiteside finished 29th among rookies in receiving yards with 169, unable to achieve the instant success multiple players from his draft class enjoyed. That came as a bit of a surprise given the ability he had shown at Stanford and during the preseason. Asked to learn all three receiver positions, he suffered from information overload. With better coaching and a little more seasoning, Arcega-Whiteside has the potential to blossom in Year 2. But with the Eagles looking to bolster the position in the draft, he’s going to have to earn his snaps in 2020.
Rating: Has a lot to prove. — Tim McManus
Trysten Hill, DT, UCF
Analysis: Hill was inactive for more games (nine) than he played (seven). That’s never a good thing for a second-round pick. He wasn’t expected to be a major piece on the defense as a rookie, but the Cowboys certainly expected more than six tackles, a quarterback pressure and a tackle for loss. He came to the Cowboys with questions about work ethic and maturity, and he did not help himself by falling asleep in a team meeting early in the season. The Cowboys added Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe as free agents, so Hill will have to earn his playing time in the rotation. Teams like to say a player makes his biggest jump from Year 1 to Year 2. The Cowboys have to hope that’s the case for Hill, because he has a long way to go.
Rating: Has a lot to prove. — Todd Archer
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
Analysis: Campbell’s season was full of injury after injury. Hamstring. Hernia. Hand. Foot. Those injuries forced the speedster to spend more time on the sideline than on the field. Campbell played seven games and his impact in those games was minimal. Campbell had 18 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown. The opportunity will be there for Campbell to redeem himself, because T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal are the only two experienced receivers returning.
Rating: Has a lot to prove. — Mike Wells
Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
Analysis: Adderley’s potential impact with the Chargers remains uncertain after he played four games his rookie season, primarily on special teams, before he was placed on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury. Adderley could face an uphill battle to earn playing time this season because of a crowded secondary. But Chargers coach Anthony Lynn recently expressed confidence in his ability. “He is a good athlete; I wouldn’t bet against the young man,” Lynn said. “But we just need to get him on the field.”
Rating: Has a lot to prove. — Lindsey Thiry
Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
Analysis: Rapp took advantage of an opportunity to move into the starting lineup following a season-ending injury to John Johnson. In 15 games, including 10 starts, Rapp intercepted two passes, returning one 31 yards for a touchdown, and had 100 tackles and eight pass deflections. Rapp’s rookie season, while considered a success, wasn’t without error. In Week 16, with the Rams clinging to playoff hopes, Rapp blew a third-and-16 coverage against the 49ers, who went on to win 34-31. Johnson will return to the starting lineup in 2020, but Rapp is expected to maintain a starting role as he takes over for the retired Eric Weddle.
Rating: On his way. — Lindsey Thiry
Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
Analysis: Isabella learned how steep the learning curve is to play in the NFL; he got on the field for 38 offensive snaps in the first eight games. He found a bit of a role in the second half of the season, catching eight passes for 181 of his 189 yards in the final eight games. Isabella’s speed is undoubtedly his best asset, but because of his lack of growth in other areas, he was limited to fly routes and jet sweeps for the most part. With an offseason to work on his short-yard separation and diving into the film, Isabella is poised to make a jump in 2020. But how big?
Rating: Has a lot to prove. — Josh Weinfuss
Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
Analysis: Thornhill had a significant role in the Chiefs’ improved defensive performance last season. His superior range allowed him to not only make plays but also free Tyrann Mathieu for his wide-ranging role. Thornhill missed the playoffs and Super Bowl LIV after tearing his ACL in the final regular-season game, but the Chiefs are expecting him back at some point in 2020.
Rating: He’s a starter. — Adam Teicher
DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Analysis: So much for that talk he could only run go routes. The Seahawks couldn’t have asked for a better debut from Metcalf. His 58 regular-season catches was second among NFL rookies and second by a rookie in franchise history. He then set a Seahawks playoff record with 160 yards in the wild-card round, also an NFL postseason record for a rookie in the Super Bowl era. He had a touchdown in that game to go along with seven in the regular season. Also impressive: Metcalf played in all of Seattle’s games even though he had knee surgery 19 days before the opener. He and Tyler Lockett give the Seahawks one of the NFL’s better wide receiver duos.
Rating: He’s a star. — Brady Henderson
Published at Wed, 01 Apr 2020 17:03:16 +0000