2023 NFL Draft: 5 biggest steals of Day 2

Paradise, Nevada, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Michael Mayer (87) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Brigham Young Cougars during the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

  • Michael Mayer: The Notre Dame TE isn’t a gifted athlete by any means, but he checks every other box as a receiver and a blocker.
  • Brian BranchThe Alabama defensive back is the best nickel prospect in this draft class and one of the best tackling defensive backs since PFF began tracking college football in 2014 (2% missed tackle rate).
  • O'Cyrus Torrence: After starting his career at Louisiana, he made the move to the SEC with ease, finishing 2022 with an 89.9 PFF run-blocking grade, which was the best in the Power Five last season.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft was full of surprises — both good and bad. Nonetheless, we are going to focus on the good by detailing some of the biggest steals from the second and third round of Friday's NFL festivities.

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R2 (35) LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: TE MICHAEL MAYER, NOTRE DAME

PFF Big Board rank: 19

The Golden Domer’s wait finally ended in the second round, as the Raiders traded up to Pick 35 for one of the most polished prospects in the class. Mayer isn’t a gifted athlete by any means, but he checks every other box as a receiver and a blocker. He has a high-level football IQ and was the engine of the Notre Dame offense in 2022. Mayer was targeted more than any other tight end in the country this past season and earned an FBS-best 92.5 PFF grade in the process.


R2 (45) DETROIT LIONS: S BRIAN BRANCH, ALABAMA

PFF Big Board rank: 15

The Lions have made several big “reaches” already in this draft based on PFF and consensus big boards, but they get one of the better values here with Branch. He’s the best nickel prospect in this draft class and one of the best tackling defensive backs since PFF began tracking college football in 2014 (2% missed tackle rate).


R2 (59) BUFFALO BILLS: G O'CYRUS TORRENCE, FLORIDA

PFF Big Board rank: 30

Like the Giants just a few picks ago, this could have easily been the Bills’ first-round selection. A mountain of a man at the position, he can still move better than his size would suggest. After starting his career at Louisiana, he made the move to the SEC with ease, finishing 2022 with an 89.9 PFF run-blocking grade, which was the best in the Power Five last season.


R3 (79) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: WR JOSH DOWNS, NORTH CAROLINA

PFF Big Board rank: 38

Downs was WR5 on both the PFF big board and the consensus big board but came off the board to Indianapolis as WR12. He is undersized, even for the slot, but he is one of the better underneath separators in this class and wins in contested situations over the middle of the field. Downs hauled in 13-of-18 contested targets for UNC in 2022.


R2 (57) NEW YORK GIANTS: C JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ, MINNESOTA

PFF Big Board rank: 35

If the Giants had made this pick in the first round, nobody would have really batted an eye. He led all centers with a 92.3 PFF grade in 2022 and graded well both on zone and gap plays. He’s a big guy but can really move and was a four-year starter at Minnesota. Simply put, he is one of the best run blockers at the position to enter the draft in recent years.

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