The NFL Draft is an incredibly busy time for front offices. It is difficult enough to keep track of the board and see, which prospects are remaining, but teams also make trades to better their position. In general, trading down provides more value to a franchise, since they are acquiring more assets. The risk of this move is that sometimes their ideal players get taken before their turn. On the other hand, trading up can work if the player is of high quality, addresses a need, and did not require too much draft capital.
There were six trades in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, below are their grades.
1. Denver Broncos (No. 35 and No. 219) – Atlanta Falcons (No. 40 and No. 114)
Denver traded up to acquire running back Javonte Williams from UNC . Williams is a fine running back, who was expected to go in the second round of the NFL Draft. The Broncos have a well-rounded roster with quarterback as the biggest question mark. As good as Williams is, quality running backs can regularly be found in the later rounds of the draft. This started the run on trading up in the second round.
Atlanta used the 40th pick on UCF safety Richie Grant. This provides a much-needed boost to their safety group. Grant is a versatile defender with solid ball skills. He spent time lining up as a free safety, in the slot and at times even in the box.
Denver: B –
Atlanta: B +
2. New England Patriots (No. 38) – Cincinnati Bengals (No. 46, No. 122, No. 139)
The Patriots surprised many in the football world when they went on a shopping spree in the free-agent market. They made a shocking move again when they traded up in the second round of the NFL Draft. For the longest time, New England was known for trading down and finding players that serve as cogs in their machine.
This move was worth it, as they snagged the best interior defensive lineman in the class, Alabama’s Christian Barmore, who is a legitimate first-round talent. He is great at getting to the passer and plays with violent hands that help dismiss blockers. Barmore adds a different dimension and is an upgrade to the defensive line.
The move to get an elite receiver in Ja’Marr Chase, instead of tackle Penei Sewell was criticized since quarterback Joe Burrow took a beating last season and had his season cut short due to an injury. The front office looked to make amends as they went offensive line with their 46th overall selection.
They opted to go for Jackson Carman, which would have been fine but higher-rated tackles Samuel Cosmi and Dillon Radunz were still on the NFL Draft board at the time.
New England: A+
3. Chicago Bears (No. 39, No. 151) – Carolina Panthers (No. 52, No. 83, No. 204)
The Bears drafted a bodyguard for quarterback Justin Fields in Tevin Jenkins. Jenkins is steady in pass protection, but is a monster run blocker and plays with a mean streak. It was quite surprising seeing him fall this far. This is a step in the right direction in building around Fields.
Carolina opted to trade down again this time with the Cleveland Browns.
4. Miami Dolphins (No. 42) – New York Giants (No. 50, 2022 3rd Round)
The Dolphins chose offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg from Notre Dame. He is an athletic pass protector with the versatility to slide inside to guard. Tua Tagovailoa will be happy with this selection. Miami probably felt that a run on offensive linemen was coming soon, which prompted them to pull the trigger on this trade, although Eichenberg or another similarly rated lineman probably would have been available at their original spot.
The Giants’ move to get Kadarius Toney was questioned by some considering the team already has receiving options like Kenny Golladay. No such questions were made with their No. 50 selection in the NFL Draft of Azeez Ojulari. He is an edge defender with a high ceiling and addresses a position of need and a premier one at that.
New York: A
5. Las Vegas Raiders (No. 43, No. 229) – San Francisco 49ers (No. 48, No. 121)
If the Toney selection was questioned, the Raiders choosing Alex Leatherwood was interrogated, especially since there were better prospects at the same position available, such as Christian Darrisaw. The front office redeemed themselves when the widely-regarded best safety in the class, Trevon Moehrig fell to their laps. He instantly makes their secondary better and is great value at number 43.
San Francisco made the odd move of picking a prospect, who is not a clean fit in their scheme and does not fill a massive roster hole. Guard Aaron Banks is strong in the run game but is not as mobile as one would like.
Las Vegas A
San Francisco C-
6. Cleveland Browns (No. 52, No. 113) – Panthers (No. 59, No. 89)
Carolina trades: 2nd Rd (52), 4th Rd (113)
Cleveland trades: 2nd Rd (59), 3rd Rd (89)
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) May 1, 2021
The Browns hit a home run when they snagged the falling Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round of the NFL Draft. The linebacker has excellent coverage skills and usually had a first-round grade. He is one of those players that you draft and figure out how to use after.
Carolina is giving Sam Darnold another weapon in wideout Terrace Marshall, Jr. This is a great value selection and Marshall can learn behind receivers, Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore. He has great size, plays with physicality, and is a threat after the catch.