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Of course, the first round of the NFL Draft draws all the attention. But often, drafts are won and lost in rounds two and three. That said, there are a lot of talented players still on the board.
The NFL Draft continues Friday night with rounds two and three and here are five players to watch.
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (RS Junior)
I still believe Joey Porter is the best of this cornerback class. I can’t believe I even have to write about him as a Day 2 pick. He has ideal size for a corner (6’2 1/2″) and although he looks very lean, he’s extremely strong (17 reps on bench press, tied for second among DB). He tested really well at the Combine and, according to Pro Football Focus, his 40% forced incompletion rate in 2022 led all Power Five cornerbacks. This kid should not still be on the board.
Brian Branch, DB, Alabama (Junior)
Another kid I think deserved far better on NFL Draft night. Not getting selected in the first round is outrageous. I get it — he doesn’t have the physical and athletic traits that everyone else does. But the kid just plays unbelievably good football, has an excellent leadership profile, and can (and will) run a defense at the NFL level. He may never be a “box score” guy, but the team that drafts him is going to get a player who makes their team better.
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (Senior)
All of a sudden, Will Levis went from overrated to underrated. As a Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft, I HATED him. But as a second-round pick? Give me Levis all day. He’s suddenly a great value.
He’s a solid quarterback prospect who needs time to develop. As a day-two draft pick, he won’t be rushed. This actually might end up being a great thing for Levis and he could end up in a much better situation than if he had been taken by the Texans or Colts.
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee (RS Senior)
Hooker is 25 years old. That’s both good and bad. He should come in ready to play from Day 1, but it’s also concerning that he didn’t pop sooner. Still, now that he fell out of the first round, he’s hard to bet against. He’s not going to be a star, but he should be able to win some games — cheaply, contract-wise — at the NFL level. He’ll be 29 by the time he needs a second contract, and that could be valuable to a team that has everything else but just needs a solid game-manager type.
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (Junior)
Mayer made an impact all three seasons with the Irish, including tying for the team lead in catches as a freshman. According to PFF, he actually out-snapped Tommy Tremble in his freshman season and Tremble was the 83rd overall pick last season. Teams are looking for matchup nightmare receivers and that’s exactly what Mayer can be. We’ve seen what elite tight ends like Travis Kelce can mean for an offense, and Mayer’s upside is tantalizing.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @RealDanZak