Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Did Patriots draft Tom Brady's heir apparent?

The Patriots picking Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round Friday was intriguing. It's the earliest New England has selected a quarterback since Tom Brady became a starter. With Brady now 36 and backup Ryan Mallett entering the last year of his deal, Garoppolo could be groomed to take over for two-time MVP Brady. "I've looked up to him since I was a little kid," Garoppolo said. "It's a great opportunity."

Running away

With no running backs taken in the first round for the second straight year — the first time that has occurred — ESPN analyst Todd McShay put it best:

"Everybody is playing chicken with the running back position."

Washington RB Bishop Sankey (left) finally snapped the streak, getting selected in the second round (54th overall) by the Titans. It was the latest the first running back has been taken in the draft.

"Running backs can rejoice!" ESPN's Trey Wingo joked. "Your value is restored."

Then, two of the next three picks were running backs, with LSU's Jeremy Hill (55th, Bengals) and Ohio State's Carlos Hyde (57th, 49ers). Maybe teams were just getting more bang for their backs?

Biggest steal

Southern California WR Marqise Lee (below left) was considered a first-round talent, but he fell to the Jaguars in the second round, 39th overall. Lee, the Biletnikoff Award (top receiver) winner in 2012, is coming off a relative down year with the Trojans, but he should be an immediate impact player for Jacksonville, which averaged just 15.4 points per game last season, lowest in the NFL. Plus, the Jaguars will be without suspended WR Justin Blackmon, probably a reason they took Penn State WR Allen Robinson 61st overall.

Quote of the day

"The rich get richer."

ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, on the Broncos (and QB Peyton Manning) getting another weapon in Indiana WR Cody Latimer (56th overall)

Number of the day

12 Wide receivers taken in the first two rounds, the most in the first two rounds during the common draft era (since 1967).

Sizing up the NFC South

The Bucs' division opponents continued to have strong drafts. The Falcons bolstered their defense in the second round with Minnesota DT Ra'Shede Hageman (37th overall) and in the third with Wisconsin S Dez Southward (68th). New Orleans added Nebraska CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste (left, 58th) to a stout defense. The Panthers, who led the NFL with 60 sacks, added a rusher in Missouri DE Kony Ealy (60th). They also got LSU OG Trai Turner.

Around the league

BAD NEWS BROWNS: It's surprising the Browns didn't draft a receiver with their first five picks as star WR Josh Gordon faces a seasonlong suspension after another failed drug test months ago, this time for marijuana, ESPN's Outside the Lines reported Friday. It was unclear whether Gordon, who led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards, will appeal. Gordon said his suspension last year was due to him using cough syrup that contained codeine, a banned substance.

ODD MAN OUT: The Bills traded veteran WR Stevie Johnson to his hometown 49ers before Friday's second round, receiving a conditional fourth-round pick that can become a third-rounder, ESPN reported. Johnson became the odd man out after Buffalo traded up five spots Thursday to pick Clemson WR Sammy Watkins at No. 4 overall; the Bills also have former Bucs WR Mike Williams. The 49ers, meanwhile, were in the market for a receiver with the loss of WR Mario Manningham in free agency.

RATINGS SOAR: Though Johnny Manziel likely wasn't happy about his first-round free fall, ESPN probably was. The first round of the draft drew 9.9 million viewers to ESPN on Thursday night, the Nielsen Co. said, destroying the record for the event the network has shown since 1980. The previous high was 7.3 million viewers in 2010. On the NFL Network, another 2.4 million watched draft coverage, Nielsen said, making for a total of 12.4 million. Viewership was up 60 percent from last year's 6.2 million.

HERE'S JOHNNY! Manziel Mania was in full effect upon his arrival in Cleveland on Friday. By 5 p.m., the Browns said, they sold 2,300 new season tickets since the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner was drafted. LeBron James wore a Manziel Browns jersey on the Heat's plane ride to Brooklyn for their playoff series. On Twitter, actor Mike Epps superimposed a photo of Manziel's head on James' body on the downtown building mural "We are Witnesses." Manziel called himself the low man on the totem pole, though noting that 12 of the Browns' 16 games next season come against teams who passed him up in the draft. "You do grow a little bit of a chip," he said.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

   
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