Nashville, Tenn. — The defensive big guys dominated the opening round of the NFL Draft. So in Round 2, it was time for the guys who have to block them to take center stage.
Five of the first dozen selections Friday night were used on offensive linemen, beginning with Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor, projected by many to go the previous round. Jacksonville traded up with Oakland to get him.
“It was a little devastating,” Taylor said of being ignored Thursday. “I just have so much confidence in myself and I have high expectations for myself. I feel like I have something to prove … so I’m just looking forward to seeing what happens next.”
What was next in the round was a concentration on tackles, guards and centers, plus a bunch of defensive backs after only two were chosen in the opening 32.
Carolina traded up for Mississippi tackle Greg Little. Buffalo did the same to get Oklahoma guard Cody Ford. Denver took center/tackle Dalton Risner of Kansas State. Mississippi State guard/center Elgton Jenkins landed with Green Bay.
Risner could get a chance to protect Missouri’s Drew Lock, the fourth quarterback chosen, but the first since Dwayne Haskins at 15th overall. Lock, like Taylor, had been considered a first-round possibility.
The second round began with cornerbacks Byron Murphy of Washington and Rock Ya-Sin of Temple going to Arizona and Indianapolis respectively.
A bit later, that run continued with Central Michigan’s Sean Bunting, Clemson’s Trayvon Mullen, Vanderbilt’s JoeJuan Williams, LSU’s Greedy Williams —at one point considered the top defensive back in this crop — and Utah safety Marquise Blair.
Half of the opening 18 selections Friday night were from the SEC. For one of those, Taylor, the wait was somewhat worth it because of where he wound up.
“I’m only two hours from home, so that’s a major blessing for me and my family, just having this opportunity,” he said. “(I’ve been) dreaming about this since I’ve been a kid. I’m more than blessed and happy to have this opportunity.”
Packers bolster line
After spending their first-round selections on defense, the Packers went to new coach Matt LaFleur’s side of the ball to start Day 2.
They did not pick a weapon for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Instead, the Packers used their second-round pick (No. 44 overall) on offensive lineman Jenkins, who started Mississippi State’s last 26 games at center over the past two seasons but played all five spots on the offensive line during his career. He is expected to start at guard in Green Bay
The Packers were in the market for offensive line help, and they have an immediate opening in the starting lineup at right guard. Veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga is also entering the final year of his contract, but Packers college scout Charles Walls said the team picked Jenkins as a guard.
“We took him as a guard, but you watch the tape, you feel comfortable putting him anywhere you need him to be,” Walls said. “Definitely a light bulb goes off when a guy with that much value, that much versatility falls to you.”
The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Jenkins, who turns 24 in December, grew up in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and was a three-star recruit coming out of high school. He redshirted his first year at Mississippi State, then played in eight games in his first two active seasons — six at left tackle and two at left guard. He moved to center as a junior in 2017 and started every one of the Bulldogs’ games there after that.
“I feel like I can play all positions,” Jenkins said.
“Right now, they’re looking at me at guard. But I feel like I can play all the positions on the line.”
New Packers quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy was Mississippi State’s offensive coordinator last season.
On Thursday, the Packers selected pass rush specialist Rashan Gary from Michigan (No. 12 overall) and speedy safety Darnell Savage from Maryland (No 21).
Vikings get tight end
The Vikings selected Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. with the 50th overall pick in the second round, adding another potential field-stretching pass-catcher for quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Smith became the fourth Alabama tight end drafted in the last eight years, with O.J. Howard the most recent in 2017 by Tampa Bay with the 19th overall pick in the first round. Smith is the son of former NFL tight end Irv Smith, who played the first five of his seven seasons in the league with New Orleans.
The Vikings have one proven tight end in Kyle Rudolph, a two-time Pro Bowl pick and ninth-year veteran who’s long been a reliable receiver.
The Vikings picked North Carolina State center Garrett Bradbury in the first round on Thursday night.
Bears take RB Montgomery in 3rd
David Montgomery used to draw inspiration watching highlights of Walter Payton on his grandfather’s VCR, so consider this a moment of sweetness.
The Chicago Bears addressed one of their biggest needs with their first pick in the draft, trading up with the New England Patriots to take the star running back from Iowa State on Friday night.
Montgomery said he felt “grateful, blessed.” And being drafted by Chicago was particularly special.
“I watched Walter Payton when I was younger,” he said. “Seeing how he ran, trying to correlate a lot of the ways he ran into my game.”
Chicago moved up 14 spots to grab Montgomery at No. 73 overall, making him the first Cyclones player drafted since 2014. The 5-foot-10, 222-pound Montgomery ran for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns in three seasons. He had 1,216 yards rushing and 13 TDs as a junior.
Chicago also acquired a sixth-round pick (205), while New England got the No. 87 pick and a fifth-rounder (162) this year as well as a fourth-round selection in 2020.
QB Rosen dealt to Dolphins
The Arizona Cardinals cut ties with quarterback Josh Rosen, shipping last year’s No. 10 overall draft pick to the Miami Dolphins at a bargain price — a second- and fifth-round NFL draft pick.
Rosen, a former UCLA standout, became expendable when Thursday the new-look Cardinals used the No. 1 selection on Kyler Murray, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Oklahoma.
The Dolphins gave up the No. 62 selection, along with a fifth-rounder next year, for the rights to Rosen. Miami already had traded back in the second round from No. 48, so the move was even less costly than it would have been at the beginning of the night.