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Gaffney's 10 Best Available For Round 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft

While night one of the 2024 NFL Draft didn't go chaotic the way of trades, there were several stunners on Thursday Night, with a record six quarterbacks going in the opening 12 picks, including Michael Penix and Bo Nix, and some surprise names going in the back half like Jordan Morgan to the Packers, and Ricky Pearsall to the 49ers.

Now, heading into Friday evening, there's some real-deal talent still on the board, the first seven of which I have graded first-round-caliber talents. So, if you're a fan of teams like the Patriots, Cardinals, or Commanders, you have a golden opportunity to piggyback off some strong Thursday Night selections. Based on my top 50 board, here are the 10 best available before the draft clock starts again.

No. 1) Cooper DeJean, CB (Iowa) [Big Board Rank: No. 17]

A leg injury that ended DeJean's 2023 season a bit early would likely explain his slide, but out of the first round entirely was a bit of a surprise. He has a great size profile, and his elite proficiency as a zone defender should hopefully get him drafted before we hit the 40s, regardless of whether teams view him as a corner or safety. Indianapolis, whom I projected to pick him at 15, still getting him and even trading up to do so wouldn't stun me, but some other teams in the 30s could vie for his services.

No. 2) Johnny Newton, IDL (Illinois) [Big Board Ranking: No. 18]

This was the one player to fall out of round one, and that shocked me the most. Newton has some legitimate upside as a day-one interior pass rusher, and some teams that could've used him, most prominently the Miami Dolphins, passed at the opportunity to do so. Assuming picks 33 and 34 are for receivers, Arizona should have some good offers to move off 35 so someone can jump up for Newton.

No. 3) Adonai Mitchell, WR (Texas) [Big Board Ranking: 20]

Mitchell's wait to get drafted will likely be the quickest of the 10 players you see here. Buffalo or New England, or even a team that moves a vet receiver to one or both of those teams (looking at you, San Fransisco and Cincy), would be making a big mistake passing up on a 6'4" receiver with the route running and body control ability that Mitchell has.

No. 4) Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB (Alabama)

Like DeJean, I imagine McKinstry's foot injury played a significant role in why he's still available. If not, I was surprised to see Nate Wiggins go ahead of him anyway. Ultimately, if Arizona is sticking at 35 no matter what, he makes a ton of sense after they went Marvin Harrison Jr. and Darius Robinson on Thursday.

No. 5) Jackson Powers-Johnson, IOL (Oregon)

Graham Barton going over JPJ wasn't on my bingo card, but his standing in this class had been said to be lower in NFL circles than in the public. Regardless, it wouldn't stun me if he does slip a bit more due to positional value, if nothing else, but if he's available in round three, that would genuinely be shocking.

No. 6) Ladd McConkey, WR (Georgia)

McConkey is another receiver I don't anticipate being available for long. His great hands, inside-outside versatility, and some good deep speed and route running make him a fit anywhere in the league. If Buffalo isn't interested in Mitchell, he'd be their next-best option.

No. 7) Mike Sainristil, CB (Michigan)

You can talk about the value of slot defenders all you want; Mike Sainristil is an excellent football player who'd make any roster better on day one. The memes about Jim Harbaugh only drafting Michigan guys are fun and good, but I don't see him letting one of his key defensive pieces slip by him at 37 unless they would prefer not to take chances with interior defender Kris Jenkins.

No. 8) Kingsley Suamataia, OT (BYU)

Tackles flew off the board last night, and I have no reason to believe that will be any different on Friday. If anything, the process might be sped up a few notches. After drafting Jayden Daniels, I can't see the Commanders passing up on a guy like Suamataia, or even Patrick Paul, or Kiran Amegadjie if you want to go there, with picks at 36 and 40.

No. 9) Ja'Tavion Sanders, TE (Texas)

Vegas beat Indianapolis to the punch on Brock Bowers if they wanted to go that route, and if Sanders is available at 46, I imagine Chris Ballard makes him a Colt, especially if some of the better cornerback options previously stated are out of the question and they would prefer not to move up. Not a super great blocker, but you're not bringing in Sanders to block on 65% of his snaps. He's a difference-maker as a pass catcher and would be great with Anthony Richardson.

No. 10) Chris Braswell, EDGE (Alabama)

Last but not least is Braswell, who didn't quite have the athletic testing scores as a guy like Chop Robinson did, but he was a proven producer with the Crimson Tide, with eight sacks in his lone year as one of Nick Saban's primary edge rushers. A yan to Dallas Turner's yin; he's not as bendy and doesn't possess elite length, but he can win with power. It's a different regime there now, but Washington loved some Bama guys for a period in the 2010s, and I could see them tap into that well again in Adam Peters' first year.

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