If Day 1 had chalk, Day 2 had more of it. Surprises were in short supply, though running backs flew off the shelves (six of them). For the first time since 2005, zero quarterbacks went in the second round, but someone from “Hobart” did. Without further ado, let’s dive into the headlines.
FREE FALL OF THE NIGHT
Monday, LSU G/T La’El Collins was a cinch first rounder and arguably the draft’s top offensive lineman. Saturday, he’s still without a home, and in danger of going undrafted. Caught up in a murder investigation — of which he is not a subject — Collins appears to have fallen off most draft boards entirely. Sensing a situation spiraling out of control, Collins issued a Friday decree that he would only sign this year were he a second- or third-round pick. The move was designed to project confidence of his innocence, and save some monetary face after falling out of the first round. Instead, it may have wrecked what little remained of Collins’ draft star, as teams now have zero incentive to select him on Saturday. From a potential employer’s point of view, drafting Collins can now only produce two results: 1. He doesn’t sign and holds out for next year’s draft. 2. He’s drafted and later gets bad legal news. Collins will become a free agent if he goes undrafted, and be ineligible for next year’s draft. Collins’ best bet may have been keeping his day-three strategy to himself. Now, the worst-case scenario is his most-likely scenario.
POWER MOVE OF THE NIGHT
Before Todd Gurley was the next Adrian Peterson, T.J. Yeldon was the next Adrian Peterson. Yeldon never lived up to that unfair moniker, but was a three-year stud at Alabama nevertheless, averaging 5.77 yards per carry and piling up 3,816 yards from scrimmage as part of Nick Saban’s ever-lethal running back committee. Now he finds himself the leader of the Jaguars’ committee, and a potential fantasy stud for 2015. GM David Caldwell envisions Yeldon as a “three-down back,” and though he’ll cede some touches to Denard Robinson, Yeldon is in line for a heavy rookie workload. Yeldon isn’t as powerful as his 6-foot-1, 226-pound frame would suggest, but he boasts special lateral agility. He can catch the ball and protect the quarterback as a blocker. Yeldon is everything fantasy owners should be looking for in a rookie running back.
FREE FALL OF THE NIGHT II
As a pass rusher, Randy Gregory has drawn Charles Haley comparisons. As a 22-year-old kid ready to make the leap from amateur to professional … the reviews have been decidedly more mixed. That’s why one of the draft’s best pure pass rushers almost fell all the way out of the second round. But the Cowboys stopped Gregory’s slide, nabbing him at No. 60 and filling a huge need in the process. According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, there are worries Gregory suffers from mental-health issues. NFL.com has reported there are concerns about his ability to “handle the mental rigors of professional football." There’s a real chance Gregory goes bust. But if he can get his affairs in order — and bulk up his 235-pound frame — he could come away as the steal of the draft.
RISK OF THE NIGHT
The nation’s No. 1 overall recruit in 2012, Dorial Green-Beckham is a 6-foot-5, 237-pound matchup nightmare who scored 17 touchdowns in 25 collegiate games. But there’s your first cause for concern. Green-Beckham’s college career wasn’t short because he redshirted and came out after two years, but because he got kicked off Missouri’s team. Green-Beckham couldn’t stop breaking the law in Columbia, getting caught twice with marijuana and accused of domestic violence. He spent 2014 playing for Oklahoma’s practice squad. When he was on the field, Green-Beckham would have flashes of brilliance, but struggled to play up to his massive frame. He didn’t always separate the way his 4.49 speed suggested he should. If he breaks right, Green-Beckham could be the league’s next great touchdown scorer. If he breaks bad, he’ll be one of the great “what if?” football stories of the past 10 years.
OFF-THE-FIELD NUGGET OF THE NIGHT
On the field, new Chiefs WR Chris Conley is a deep threat with jaw-dropping measurables (4.35 speed, 45-inch vertical, 11-foot-7 broad jump). Off of it … he likes “Star Wars.” A lot. Conley is a burgeoning filmmaker, and last year he channeled his talents into fan-fiction film “Retribution.” He spent months on the endeavor, managing to rope in teammate Todd Gurley and coach Mark Richt. The Chiefs are hoping they’ve found their new lid lifter. We should all be hoping we’ve found the NFL’s best new character.
PLAYER TO WATCH ON DAY 3
Boise State RB Jay Ajayi is a potential three-down star, but might have a bum right knee. At best, he could be the ninth running back off the board. At worst, he could go undrafted, a la Chris Polk in 2012. Ajayi will be worth a dynasty-league flier wherever he ends up, but his story may end up being one of medicals instead of measurables.
SECOND PLAYER TO WATCH ON DAY 3
Bryce Petty was supposedly “flying up draft boards," but now Saturday is here, and he has no idea where he’ll be flying to sign his rookie contract. Petty posted awe-inspiring numbers at Baylor, but is coming from an offense that’s an alien being when compared to NFL systems. Petty has good size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds), a good arm and nice athleticism, but will he get the NFL benefit of the doubt? Days 1 and 2 suggest a resounding “no.”
THE NOT SO BIG 12
Through three ends, no conference has had more players chosen than the Pac-12’s 26. Next is the SEC’s 22 and the ACC’s 20. The Big 12? Seven. That’s only one more than Florida State by itself.