If just one quarterback choice within the first spherical of the NFL draft was thought of a shock, the second spherical raised the shock issue.
With Malik Willis and Matt Corral awkwardly ready within the inexperienced room in Las Vegas, and Sam Howell and Desmond Ridder ready for the cellphone to ring at dwelling, the second spherical got here and went with out a quarterback choice. It was simply the third time within the final 30 years — becoming a member of 1996 and 2000 — that just one quarterback was taken by way of two rounds.
The Falcons lastly ended the 53-pick drought that adopted Kenny Pickett’s choice to the Steelers (No. 20) by grabbing Desmond Ridder early within the third spherical (No. 74). Even that transfer was a shock, as a result of the Falcons had been extra steadily linked to the Atlanta-area native Willis as excessive as No. 8 total. However the dual-threat Ridder fashions his sport after Marcus Mariota, the Falcons’ new starter within the post-Matt Ryan period.
The Titans mercifully ended Willis’ wait at No. 86, after dealing a fifth-round decide to maneuver up 4 spots. The Panthers adopted swimsuit by buying and selling as much as No. 94 for Corral, which common supervisor Scott Fitterer later admitted to reporters seemingly took him out of the commerce marketplace for a veteran — particularly displaced Browns starter Baker Mayfield.
Malik Willis was drafted within the third spherical by the Tennessee Titans.AP
“We’re ready and ready,” Ridder instructed Falcons media. “I lastly texted Malik, ‘What’s happening? They don’t like us or what?’ He simply mentioned, ‘Let’s wait, be affected person.’”
Willis’ tumble was in contrast to something seen in years — if not many years — as a result of there are not any recognized character pink flags. Maybe one of the best latest comparability is offensive sort out La’el Collins, who slipped from a attainable first-rounder to undrafted in 2015 when he was wished for police questioning (not a suspect) in a dying.
“It’s not like 20 years in the past,” one league supply mentioned. “Head coaches are getting fired after one or two years. There’s much less time to develop quarterbacks.”
The pre-draft hype machine had Willis as excessive as No. 2 total at factors after it was fed with tales about how he crushed his interviews with groups. The Titans are a logical match as a result of quarterback Ryan Tannehill is underneath contract for 2 extra years — and lots of consultants say it would take no less than one till Willis is able to take the sector after starring at Liberty.
“I can’t predict the longer term,” Titans common supervisor Jon Robinson mentioned when requested how shortly Willis will likely be prepared. “He’s received a number of work to do — like all [rookies] do — however excited so as to add him to the group and compete.”
This draft was the primary since 1997 to not have a quarterback chosen within the first 19 picks. However the fact was revealed when the clock began ticking and quarterback-needy groups began passing — just like the Falcons after buying and selling as much as No. 38, the Seahawks with back-to-back picks at No. 40 and No. 41, the Vikings after buying and selling as much as No. 42, the Lions after the good thing about teaching Willis on the Senior Bowl at No. 46.
Former Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral was chosen by the Carolina Panthers.Icon Sportswire through Getty Photographs
The Giants, who had been a curious gambler’s favourite to draft Willis at No. 36 earlier within the day, traded down twice, drafted receiver Wan’Dale Robinson and by no means thought of drafting a second-round quarterback, in response to common supervisor Joe Schoen.
“I’m a little bit stunned,” Schoen mentioned after selecting at No. 81. “With all of the pre-draft chatter, I assumed a few these guys would have already got been gone. The quarterback place, the quantity taken, just isn’t like one other place with excessive quantity, so probably not [a big impact on draft board].”
With each decide, Pickett grew to become a much bigger winner because the narrative shifted from his surprising slip from his anticipated ceiling of No. 6 to the Panthers to his anticipated flooring with the Steelers. And it grew to become clearer that the failings of a flippantly regarded quarterback class had been much more alarming, particularly if in comparison with a 2023 class that might match 2021 and 2018 when it comes to placing 5 quarterbacks within the first spherical.
Corral joins a Panthers quarterback room that features Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker.