N.F.L. Draft: What to Look for on Day 2 and Day 3

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The first round of the N.F.L. draft commands much of the attention, and rightly so.

But the second and third rounds can be just as important because teams often find valuable players who were not among the first 32 picks.

And don’t ignore the later rounds, either. Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady, owner of seven Super Bowl rings, was drafted by New England in the sixth round in 2000. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who signed a four-year, $160-million contract this off-season, was drafted in the fourth round in 2016.

Below is a complete guide to understanding the rest of the 2021 N.F.L. draft.

The second and third rounds start Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern time. The final four rounds will start Saturday at noon. ABC, ESPN and NFL Network will continue to broadcast the event.

The Philadelphia Eagles entered Thursday holding 11 draft picks, the most in the league, with but traded a third-round pick to end up with 10 total selections — nine on Friday and Saturday. Jacksonville, Miami and Kansas City will be very active early on Day 2, as each has two second-round picks.

The Seattle Seahawks have a league-low three picks remaining — one in the second round, one in the fourth, and one in the seventh.

Expect to see a lot of running backs and defensive players taken, because there are plenty of options.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Najee Harris and Jacksonville picking Travis Etienne, some of the best running backs remaining include North Carolina’s Javonte Williams, Ohio State’s Trey Sermon and Oklahoma’s Rhamondre Stevenson.

Teams started taking defensive players toward the middle of the first round, but some talented prospects still remain on the board. They include Texas Christian safety Trevon Moehrig, Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore and Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr.

Regardless of position, some of the best available players include Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Mississippi receiver Elijah Moore and Oklahoma State offensive tackle Tevin Jenkins.

Kansas City, along with the Houston Texans, the Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams, did not pick in the first round. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

While the first round was full of potential talent, some general managers use those draft picks as currency to acquire proven stars.

Look no further than the Rams, who for five consecutive years have not participated in Day 1 draft festivities because they traded out of the first round. After trading quarterback Jared Goff and two future first-round draft picks to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford this off-season, the Rams are not slated to make a first-round selection until 2024.

And in 2019, General Manager Les Snead used two first-round picks in a deal with Jacksonville to acquire cornerback Jalen Ramsey, arguably the best player at his position. In 2020, the Seahawks followed a similar model by sending two first-round picks to the Jets for the star safety Jamal Adams.

When asked about the steep price of trading two future first-round picks to Miami for this year’s third overall selection, which the 49ers used on quarterback Trey Lance of North Dakota State, San Francisco 49ers Coach Kyle Shanahan referenced the Rams and the Seahawks, fellow members of the N.F.C. West.

“I think those decisions were awesome for their teams, and I hate playing against them because of it,” he said.

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