A multitude of defensive playmakers await in Round 2 of the NFL draft following an unprecedented spree of offensive selections

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Darius Robinson

The surge of quarterbacks, wide receivers, and offensive linemen chosen in the NFL draft’s initial round pushed many standout defenders further down the selection list, offering top teams a chance to snag players they might not normally have access to.

It also meant that several top defensive prospects found themselves waiting until the second round to be picked. One player in this group is Cooper DeJean, the cornerback from Iowa who suffered a lower leg injury in November but has since been given the green light to resume playing football.

DeJean is known for his exceptional ability to intercept passes and is also highly regarded as a punt returner, averaging 13.1 yards per return over the last two seasons.

Among the other defensive players likely to be chosen early on Friday night are Edgerrin Cooper, an inside linebacker from Texas A&M, and Kool-Aid McKinstry, a cornerback from Alabama.

Cooper led the Aggies in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks, demonstrating his all-around defensive prowess. McKinstry, known for his distinctive name, is considered a player who can step in and contribute immediately.

Similar to DeJean, McKinstry is both an outstanding punt returner and is recovering from an injury.

Darius Robinson

He missed the NFL scouting combine due to a broken bone in his right foot but showcased his skills at his pro day in March before undergoing surgery to repair the fracture. He is expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp.

Another player worth mentioning is Jer’Zhan Newton, a defensive tackle from Illinois known for his exceptional ability to rush the passer from the interior. Over the past two seasons, he consistently pressured the quarterback over 100 times and recorded impressive stats with 13 sacks and 22 1/2 tackles for loss in 2022 and ’23.

Newton, who underwent foot surgery after the season, did not participate in workouts at the combine or his pro day.

The first defensive player selected on Thursday night was Liatu Latu, an edge rusher from UCLA who had an outstanding senior season with 13 sacks and 21 1/2 tackles for loss. The Indianapolis Colts picked him with the 15th overall selection after a flurry of quarterback picks, followed by offensive linemen, wide receivers, and a tight end.

In previous drafts, the earliest a defensive player was chosen was in eighth place in 2021 when the Carolina Panthers drafted cornerback Jaycee Horn.

Overall, the first round saw six quarterbacks, seven wide receivers, nine offensive linemen, and one tight end selected. On the defensive side, there were five edge rushers, three cornerbacks, and one lineman drafted.


By Ritik

Ritik Katiyar is pursuing a post-graduate degree in Pharmaceutics. Currently, he lives in Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India. You can find him writing about all sorts of listicle topics. A pharmaceutical postgrad by day, and a content writer by night. You can write to him at [email protected]

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