CLEVELAND – The second night of the 2021 NFL Draft might not feature as much fanfare as Thursday night’s first round, but the second and third rounds can prove critical to crafting dynamic rosters for NFL teams in the future. The Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans know this all too well.
The Cowboys enter Friday with four selections -- one in the second, three in the third -- while the Texans will finally select their first player from this year’s draft with the 67th overall pick in the third round.
Round 2, Pick 44 -- Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
After missing out on the top two cornerbacks in the draft and taking linebacker Micah Parsons with their first-round selection, the Dallas Cowboys continued to stock up on defensive players by taking Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph. Despite playing in 11 games with the LSU Tigers as a true freshman, Joseph was suspended for the team’s bowl game for violating team rules. Two years later, Joseph suited up for the Kentucky Wildcats and started the first nine games of the 2020 season, posting 25 tackles, four interceptions and a pick-six. He opted out of the final two games. Many draft experts view Joseph as a raw talent that could develop with time, and he’ll get the opportunity to do just that on one of the league’s most porous secondaries.
Round 3, Pick 75 -- Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA
The Cowboys were one of the worst teams in the league at generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2020. They drafted UCLA’s Osa Odighizuwa to try and help in the trenches. The brother of a former NFL defensive lineman, Odighizuwa was a three-time state wrestling champion in high school and put up numbers as a redshirt freshman. From there, he only improved. As a junior, he led the Bruins with 10 tackles for loss and posted 3.5 sacks in 12 starts. Last year, after racking up 30 total tackles and four sacks, he was named a first-team all-conference pick and accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
Round 3, Pick 84 -- Chauncey Golston, DE, Iowa
More help from the defensive line comes in the form of Iowa defensive end Chauncey Golston. A first-team All-Big Ten playmaker for the Hawkeyes, Golston notched 45 total tackles, 8.5 of those for loss in only eight starts last season. He’s also had a nose for the football, recovering three fumbles and recording an interception over the course of his four-year career. The main question surrounding the six-foot, five-inch, 269-pound lineman is whether he can hold the point of attack. The Cowboys are hoping he can develop into a consistent contributor.
Round 3, Pick 99 -- Nahshon Wright, CB, Oregon State
The Cowboys’ final pick of the third round remains on the defensive side of the ball, and they select their second cornerback of the draft to help a much-maligned secondary. After an impressive stint at Laney junior college in Oakland in 2018, Nahshon Wright made the jump to Oregon State in 2019 and promptly led the Beavers in interceptions with five interceptions over the next two seasons. In that span, he also tallied 64 tackles and eight pass breakups. Draft experts say that his speed might be his biggest issue, but he makes up for that with ball-hawking instincts. Time will tell if his skills can translate to the professional level.
Round 3, Pick 67 -- Davis Mills, QB, Stanford
There are plenty of areas of need for the Texans as they enter this draft, but with quarterback Deshaun Watson currently embroiled in legal controversy and wanting out of the organization entirely, it appears that Houston has decided to draft Watson’s replacement.
Enter Davis Mills. One of the top-rated quarterback prospects coming out of high school in Atlanta, Mills finally took over the starting job as a sophomore in 2019 and never looked back. He was named team captain heading into 2020 and finished fourth in the FBS with nearly 26 completions per game. His final passing stats: 1,508 yards, seven touchdowns to just three picks.
Draft analysts view Mills as a work-in-progress with plenty of arm talent. Regardless, the Texans have sent a clear message with this selection: the organization is ready and willing to move on from Watson.
Round 3, Pick 89 -- Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
Houston dealt a fourth- and fifth-round pick this year along with a fourth-round pick next year to the Panthers in order move back up into the third round and select Michigan wide receiver Nico Collins. He might have opted out of the 2020 season, but Collins showed impressive improvement throughout his three years with the Wolverines. In 2019, he was named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year and led the Big Ten conference by averaging nearly 20 yards per catch. The final stats from that season: 37 catches, 729 yards and seven touchdowns.
Wide receiver wasn’t necessarily a position of need for a Texans passing attack that finished near the top of the league is yards per game in 2020, but it’s still a dynamic, young weapon for whoever suits up at quarterback to utilize in the future.