On NFL draft’s second day, many teams pass on selecting quarterbacks

Florida quarterback Kyle Trask throws against Oklahoma during the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 30, 2020, in Arlington, Texas.
Florida’s Kyle Trask, pictured Dec. 30, was chosen by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 64th overall pick Friday night. No quarterbacks were taken with pick Nos. 16 to 63.
(Ron Jenkins / Associated Press)

As he stepped to the lectern to announce Pittsburgh’s second-round pick Friday night, Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris got an immaculate reception.

No claps.

The congenial Harris, as popular in rival Browns Country as the IRS, was among the legendary players announcing the selections on the second day of the NFL draft. He was delighted to announce the Steelers had selected a player from his alma mater: Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth.

The Rams selected Louisville wide receiver Tutu Atwell in the second round of the NFL draft Friday. They also traded a third-round pick to the 49ers for two fourth-round picks, then added a linebacker.


Though that pick might not have thrilled Pittsburgh fans hoping the team would select an heir apparent to 39-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, it underscored a theme of the night: What happened to all the quarterbacks?

After an opening night when quarterbacks were selected 1-2-3 for just the third time in the Super Bowl era, and five were taken in the first 15 picks, the appetite for them dropped off the table.

Franco Harris announces the Pittsburgh Steelers' pick during the second round of the NFL draft April 30, 2021.
Franco Harris announces the Pittsburgh Steelers’ selection during the second round of the NFL draft Friday night in Cleveland.
(Steve Luciano / Associated Press)

Not until the final pick of the second round was another quarterback selected, with Tampa Bay taking Florida’s Kyle Trask to learn at the elbow of Tom Brady.

During that quarterback-free zone between picks 16 to 63, there were multiples of every position selected except tight ends, punters and kickers. That includes eight offensive tackles, seven receivers and even three centers.

Was there a dramatic drop-off in quarterback talent after Alabama’s Mac Jones was taken 15th by the Patriots? Perhaps, but the NFL is replete with stories of late-round passers making a splash, none bigger than Brady going in the sixth round.

It was just a strange lull during which a lot of teams — like Harris on the field — zigged when people expected them to zag.
At the start of the third round, it was noteworthy that Houston used its first pick of the draft on Stanford quarterback Davis Mills. That was a reminder that the Texans are moving on from Deshaun Watson, who remains under investigation by the league after 22 women accused the star quarterback of sexual misconduct and filed civil lawsuits. Before those accusations became public, Watson had insisted he wanted to be traded.

Even though he had the biggest day of his football career Friday, when he was drafted 75th overall by the Dallas Cowboys, UCLA defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa is still a small step behind his older brother.

In 2015, his brother, Owa, a defensive end for the Bruins, was drafted one pick earlier — 74th overall — by the New York Giants. He’s currently a free agent.

Ah, big brothers. Always have to be first.

UCLA's Osa Odighizuwa pressures USC quarterback Kedon Slovis on Dec. 12, 2020.
UCLA defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa pressures USC quarterback Kedon Slovis on Dec. 12 at the Rose Bowl. Odighizuwa was picked 75th overall by the Dallas Cowboys.
(Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Has to be soothing to Green Bay fans that A. Rodgers plans to stay with the Packers as long as possible.

Then again, that’s Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers. The Packers traded up from 92 to 85 in the third round to draft him.

Rodgers is the son of Tee Martin, the former University of Tennessee quarterback who coaches receivers for the Baltimore Ravens.

As for Aaron Rodgers, his future is murkier in the wake of reports that he doesn’t want to return to the team.

Rams general manager Les Snead wouldn’t say if the team tried to trade for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers earlier this offseason.

Teams continued to display their well-founded infatuation with Alabama players. Eight members of the Crimson Tide were selected in the first two rounds, the most by any school in the first two rounds of the draft.

That marked the 12th time New England’s Bill Belichick has drafted a player coached in college by his friend, Nick Saban. According to ESPN, that’s the most players selected by a pro-college coach combo since the common draft era began in 1967.

Alabama has had 39 first-round picks since Cincinnati took tackle Andre Smith with the sixth pick in 2009. But the most first-round picks the school had in a given draft was four.

The Chargers started Day 2 of the NFL draft by picking a potential starter on defense, cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. out of Florida State.

Since 2009, the Crimson Tide has had 60 — sixty! — players selected in the first or second round.

The New York Jets didn’t do much to build around quarterback Sam Darnold during his bumpy career there, but it seems they’re determined not to make that mistake again.

After using the No. 2 pick on Brigham Young quarterback Zach Wilson, the Jets took USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker with the 14th pick, taking the best interior lineman in this class, then in the second round chose Mississippi receiver Elijah Moore, who led the nation last season in catches and yards.

Alijah or Elijah, Wilson was saying hallelujah.