The Bengals continued their offensive makeover on Friday, following up Thursday night’s selection of LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with a prominent receiver to catch his passes. The Bengals used the first pick of the second round to take Clemson’s Tee Higgins, projected as a first-round talent by many NFL observers.
Higgins had 59 catches for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, although his season ended in disappointment at the hands of Burrow, who engineered a 42-25 win over Clemson in the National Championship. Higgins had three catches for 52 yards in the loss.
Higgins was the latest in a run on wide receivers that draft experts consider one of the best in recent memory. The Colts continued that trend with the second pick of the second round, taking USC’s Michael Pittman, who will try and reinvigorate an offense that now features former Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. Pittman will play alongside veteran wideout T.Y. Hilton. The Colts fortified the offense even further by taking Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor with their second second-round choice.
Defense took center stage for much of the remainder of the round, with the Giants taking Alabama safety Xavier McKinney, another first-round talent, followed by the Patriots, who had traded out of the first round (23 overall) and took safety Kyle Dugger out of little-known Lenoir-Rhyne. Dugger played well in the Senior Bowl, drawing favorable comparisons to Kam Chancellor, the former hard-hitting safety who was part of the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom that won a Super Bowl and went to another.
The Panthers, who took Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown in the first round, went defense again in Matt Rhule’s rookie season as head coach, taking Penn State edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos at 39th overall. Gross-Matos was considered a potential first-round pick who will now join a Panthers’ team looking to make up for the loss of recently retired linebacker Luke Kuechly.
Jacksonville continued the receiver run by taking Colorado’s Laviska Shenault Jr. at 42 overall, while the Bears added to an already tight end position with Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet. Highly regarded safeties Grant Delpit of LSU, taken by Cleveland, and Antoine Winfield Jr., son of former NFL defensive back of the same name, went to the Buccaneers.
Atlanta added to its pass rush stabled with Auburn’s Marlon Davidson, and the Seahawks, who declined to re-sign pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, went with Tennessee edge rusher Darrell Taylor.
In a bit of a surprise, the Eagles made former Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts their second-round choice, adding some intrigue, given that Carson Wentz is the established starter. Hurts will undoubtedly serve as Wentz's backup for now, with the possibility of being used in some run-pass option packages. Philadelphia has had good fortune with backups before; Wentz understudy Nick Foles wound up replacing the injured starter late in the 2017 season and went on to win the Super Bowl over the Patriots.
Buffalo’s defense got a gem of a pass rusher in A.J. Epenesa of Iowa with its second round pick, while the Rams began to replenish their receiver room with Florida wideout Van Jefferson. The Rams last month traded away Brandin Cooks to the Texans. New England continued its defensive makeover with second-round linebacker Josh Uche of Michigan.