The second day of the 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone with one of the deepest classes in recent memory providing plenty of immediate starters. Five players really stand out above the rest, though, as not simply early starters, but also impact rookies at positions of need. With all the talk about the weak offensive line class, surprisingly, two players on this list have the ability to step in and immediately start at tackle or guard in the NFL.
Round 2, pick No. 35 overall: Malik McDowell, DI, Michigan State
Lost in the mixture of struggles for the Seahawks’ defense in 2016 was the fact that the interior of their defensive line offered nothing in terms of pass-rushing ability. Ahtyba Rubin, Tony McDaniel, and Jarran Reed combined for 34 QB pressures on 788 pass-rushing snaps. McDowell immediately upgrades that in a big way. In 2015, McDowell recorded 49 QB pressures (five more than Solomon Thomas had this past year) on only 334 pass rushes. Injuries and inconsistency plagued him in 2016, but at his best, he still dominated Wisconsin for seven pressures on 25 pass rushes.
Round 2, pick No. 38 overall: Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
Positional value and a loaded draft pushes Forrest Lamp into the second round, but for my money, Lamp is as sure a thing at guard in the NFL as Myles Garrett is at defensive end. Last season, he allowed zero sacks, two hits, and two hurries. That includes 40 pass-blocking snaps against Alabama, where he allowed all of one hit the entire day. Lamp should step in and immediately help the Los Angeles O-line.
Round 3, pick No. 97 overall: Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
We had Cordrea Tankersley at No. 39 overall on our big board, making his selection at No. 97 an impressive value. His feet get a little clunky at the line of scrimmage, but he makes up for it with his length and recovery speed. One of his best comps as far as NFL corners go is actually Dolphins corner Byron Maxwell. He gives the Dolphins the freedom to press extensively to allow that talented defensive line more time to get home. Over the past two years, he’s allowed a passer rating of only 41.2 into his coverage.
Round 2, pick No. 64 overall: Taylor Moton, G, Western Michigan
While Lamp has the most impressive grading profile over the past three seasons, Moton is a close second. He was our 11th-highest-graded guard in 2015 before becoming our eighth-highest-graded tackle this past year. Moton surrendered all of eight QB pressures all season long and zero sacks. He impressed at the Senior Bowl, as well, making him a solid option to start immediately at right tackle in Carolina.
Round 2, pick No. 56 overall: Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn
Everyone knows about Melifonwu’s freakish athletic traits at this point, but he’s much more than just that. He’s a capable tackler in the open field and breaks aggressively in off coverage. Last season, he missed only nine tackles on 116 attempts. The former UConn safety could also be a matchup weapon at the next level, employed to shut down either larger receivers or tight ends in man coverage. Pairing him with Karl Joseph on the back end could be a fun combo for years to come.