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Round 2 of NFL draft starts with receivers

Higgins, Pittman Jr. are first picks of second day

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In this still image from video provided by the NFL, Tee Higgins, front center, is selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of the NFL football draft, Friday, April 24, 2020.
In this still image from video provided by the NFL, Tee Higgins, front center, is selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of the NFL football draft, Friday, April 24, 2020. (NFL via AP) Photo Gallery

Pitch and catch.

While only one quarterback, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, was taken on the second day of the NFL draft Friday, the guys who haul in passes were everywhere.

Starting with the top two selections on Day 2 — Clemson’s Tee Higgins to Cincinnati and Southern California’s Michael Pittman to Indianapolis — seven wideouts were drafted in the second round. Add that to the six who went in the opening session, and it set an NFL record through two rounds.

Three more receivers were selected in the third round — were teams running out of prospects?

“It doesn’t matter who your quarterback is, you want him to have as many weapons as possible,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “A lot of great offenses have those weapons at their disposal.”

Yep, the NFL these days is built on passing offenses. This draft is loaded with outstanding pass catchers. Many teams had both Higgins and Pittman rated as top-32 talent.

So Cincinnati held firm atop the second round by grabbing Higgins to catch Joe Burrow’s passes. The pair worked out together heading toward the draft.

And Higgins idolizes Bengals star receiver A.J. Green.

“I actually model my game after him,” Higgins said. “Man, it’s crazy. I was just talking about this to my good friend — I could end up with the Bengals and be his teammate one day. Now that this moment is here, it’s surreal.”

In addition to finding what they hope will be their franchise quarterback in LSU’s Burrow with the first overall pick, the Bengals (2-14 last season) added a threat who can make the spectacular reception.

Pittman takes his 6-foot-4, 224-pound frame to Indianapolis. The Colts had no first-rounder, and they quickly gave new quarterback Philip Rivers a target in Pittman, whose father also played in the NFL.

“I think they brought me in to make an impact right now and they have Philip Rivers, who I think is a Hall of Famer,” Pittman said. “I’m happy I get to start with like a Hall of Fame quarterback.”

Hurts wound up in Philadelphia, which has an established QB in Carson Wentz. But the Eagles envision using Hurts, who was at Alabama before being beaten out as starter by Tua Tagolvailoa.

“We’re always going to be about the QB position,” Eagles draft boss Howie Roseman said. “It’s the most important position in sports. … We think Jalen is an incredible teammate.

“We believe Carson will lead us to our next championship. … We are quarterback developers.”

So is the SEC, which, truthfully, develops every type of player. Through 106 selections, 40 came from that conference — far more than the previous high. Indeed, 40 for a conference through four rounds was the previous record.

National champion LSU had 10, tying the 2016 Ohio State record through three rounds, while perennial power Alabama added nine.

Two positions barely or not addressed at all in the first round got some attention directly after Higgins and Pittman were selected. Georgia’s D’Andre Swift became the second running back chosen, by Detroit. LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the only RB who went in the opening round, last to Super Bowl champions Kansas City.

Swift is a dynamic playmaker unlike anyone the Lions have had in the backfield in years — maybe since Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, who retired in 1998.

Four more running backs went in the round.

Safety was ignored on Thursday, but immediately was addressed by the Giants in Round 2 with Alabama’s Xavier McKinney. New York’s secondary has been a sieve.

“He also has that ability to be a quarterback on the back end, a signal caller for the defense,” coach Joe Judge said. “He fits the mold of a smart, tough, fundamentally sound guy we are looking to build with.”

New England finally surfaced with the 37th overall spot after trading out of the first round. Coach Bill Belichick was nowhere in sight — his dog appeared to be manning his laptop — as the Patriots chose Kyle Dugger, a safety from Division II Lenoir-Rhyne. Dugger not only was the first player not in FBS to be selected, but only the second from a non-Power Five conference. Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, who went 26th overall to Green Bay, was the other.

After a record 15 of the 32 players in the first round came from the Southeastern Conference, another 10 SEC players came off the board in Round 2. And that’s not including Hurts, who transferred to the Big 12 for his final season.

Other teams making their initial selections Friday night saw:

• TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock going to Houston;

• Chicago adding a 10th tight end to its roster in Cole Kmet of Notre Dame;

• Another Irish player, wideout Chase Claypool, a Canadian, to Pittsburgh;

• Florida State’s Cam Akers to the Rams, who had released their standout running back, Todd Gurley last month, with Gurley surfacing in Atlanta;

• Buffalo adding to an already solid defense with Iowa end A.J. Epenesa, one of the Big Ten’s outstanding defenders.

NFL Draft Day 2

Second round

33. Cincinnati, Tee Higgins, wr, Clemson.

34. Indianapolis (from Washington), Michael Pittman Jr., rb, Southern Cal.

35. Detroit, D’Andre Swift, rb, Georgia.

36. N.Y. Giants, Xavier McKinney, s, Alabama.

37. New England (from L.A. Chargers), Kyle Dugger, s, Lenoir-Rhyne.

38. Carolina, Yetur Gross-Matos, de, Penn State.

39. Miami, Robert Hunt, ot, Louisiana-Lafayette.

40. Houston (from Arizona), Ross Blacklock, dt, TCU.

41. Indianapolis (from Cleveland), Jonathan Taylor, rb, Wisconsin.

42. Jacksonville, Laviska Shenault Jr., wr, Colorado.

43. Chicago (from Las Vegas), Cole Kmet, te, Notre Dame.

44. Cleveland (from Indianapolis), Grant Delpit, s, LSU.

45. Tampa Bay, Antoine Winfield Jr., s, Minnesota.

46. Denver, K.J. Hamler, wr, Penn State.

47. Atlanta, Marlon Davidson, de, Auburn.

48. Seattle (from N.Y. Jets), Darrell Taylor, de, Tennessee.

49. Pittsburgh, Chase Claypool, wr, Notre Dame.

50. Chicago, Jaylon Johnson, cb, Utah.

51. Dallas, Trevon Diggs, cb, Alabama.

52. L.A. Rams, Cam Akers, rb, Florida State.

53. Philadelphia, Jalen Hurts, qb, Oklahoma.

54. Buffalo, A.J. Epenesa, de, Iowa.

55. Baltimore (from New England through Atlanta), J.K. Dobbins, rb, Ohio State.

56. Miami (from New Orleans), Raekwon Davis, dt, Alabama.

57. L.A. Rams (from Houston), Van Jefferson, wr, Florida.

58. Minnesota, Ezra Cleveland, ot, Boise State.

59. N.Y. Jets (from Seattle), Denzel Mims, wr, Baylor.

60. New England (from Baltimore), Josh Uche, lb, Michigan.

61. Tennessee, Kristian Fulton, cb, LSU.

62. Green Bay, A.J. Dillon, rb, Boston College.

63. Kansas City (from San Francisco), Willie Gay Jr., lb, Mississippi State.

64. Carolina (from Kansas City through Seattle), Jeremy Chinn, s, Southern Illinois.

THIRD ROUND

65. Cincinnati, Logan Wilson, lb, Wyoming.

66. Washington, Antonio Gibson, wr, Memphis.

67. Detroit, Julian Okwara, de, Notre Dame.

68. N.Y. Jets (from N.Y. Giants), Ashtyn Davis, s, California.

69. Seattle (from Carolina), Damien Lewis, g, LSU.

70. Miami, Brandon Jones, s, Texas.

71. Baltimore (from L.A. Chargers through New England), Justin Madubuike, dt, Texas A&M.

72. Arizona, Josh Jones, ot, Houston.

73. Jacksonville, DaVon Hamilton, dt, Ohio State.

74. New Orleans (from Cleveland), Zack Baun, lb, Wisconsin.

75. Detroit (from Indianapolis), Jonah Jackson, g, Ohio St.

76. Tampa Bay, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, rb, Vanderbilt.

77. Denver, Michael Ojemudia, cb, Iowa.

78. Atlanta, Matt Hennessy, c, Temple.

79. N.Y. Jets, Jabari Zuniga, de, Florida.

80. Las Vegas, Lynn Bowden Jr., wr, Kentucky.

81. Las Vegas (from Chicago), Bryan Edwards, wr, South Carolina.

82. Dallas, Neville Gallimore, dt, Oklahoma.

83. Denver (from Pittsburgh), Lloyd Cushenberry, c, LSU.

84. L.A. Rams, Terrell Lewis, de, Alabama.

85. Indianapolis (from Philadelphia through Detroit), Julian Blackmon, s, Utah.

86. Buffalo, Zack Moss, rb, Utah.

87. New England, Anfernee Jennings, lb, Alabama.

88. Cleveland (from New Orleans), Jordan Elliott, dt, Missouri.

89. Minnesota, Cameron Dantzler, cb, Mississippi State.

90. Houston, Jonathan Greenard, lb, Florida.

91. New England (from Seattle through Houston and Las Vegas), Devin Asiasi, te, UCLA.

92. Baltimore, Devin Duvernay, wr, Texas.

93. Tennessee, Darrynton Evans, rb, Appalachian State.

94. Green Bay, Josiah Deguara, te, Cincinnati.

95. Denver (from San Francisco), McTelvin Agim, dt, Arkansas.

96. Kansas City, Lucas Niang, ot, TCU.

Compensatory Selections

97. Cleveland (from Houston), Jacob Phillips, lb, LSU.

98. Baltimore (from New England), Malik Harrison, lb, Ohio State.

99. N.Y. Giants, Matt Peart, ot, Connecticut.

100. Las Vegas (from New England), Tanner Muse, s, Clemson.

101. New England (from Seattle through N.Y. Jets), Dalton Keene, te, Virginia Tech.

102. Pittsburgh, Alex Highsmith, lb, Charlotte.

103. Philadelphia, Davion Taylor, lb, Colorado.

104. L.A. Rams, Terrell Burgess, s, Utah.

105. New Orleans (from Minnesota), Adam Trautman, te, Dayton.

106. Baltimore, Tyre Phillips, g, Mississippi State.

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