The NFL's 2017 draft produced another eventful night Friday. Let's get right to the highlights.
1. Historic run on defensive backs
The Green Bay Packers opened the night by drafting Washington cornerback Kevin King, rekindling a run of defensive backs that did not end until a total of 11 had come off the board by the end of the second round. In all, there were 19 cornerbacks or safeties selected in the first two rounds of this draft, the most in the common draft era dating to 1967. (The previous high had been 16, in 2005 and 2006.)
By the end of three rounds, that total had swelled to 29 -- 18 cornerbacks and 11 safeties -- and helped push the number of defensive players selected over that span to 63. That's also a record in the common draft era.
Friday, the Packers took NC State safety Josh Jones later in the round to pair with King. The New York Jets drafted safeties at No. 6 overall (LSU's Jamal Adams) and No. 39 (Florida's Marcus Maye). Both Florida and Washington had three defensive backs selected in the second round, a day after Ohio State had three defensive backs taken in Round 1.
What's with the emphasis on the back end? Mostly, it was a matter of talent. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. included a total of 19 defensive backs among his top 70 draft prospects: 11 cornerbacks and eight safeties. It was a good year to need high-end help at those positions.
2. Helping Cam
Cam Newton has won the league's MVP award and taken the Carolina Panthers to a Super Bowl during his first six NFL seasons. Along the way, he has been one of the NFL's least accurate passers -- a well-known deficiency that the Panthers addressed in a nuanced way in this draft.
Newton's career completion percentage is 58.4 percent, ranking No. 33 of 35 qualified passers over that span. He's not much better on short passes, having completed only 60.9 percent of throws that travel less than 10 yards in the air. That ranks No. 34 (of 35) in the NFL, and it's a terrible efficiency on what should be the easiest pass a quarterback throws. You would hope the Panthers' top two picks can help improve those numbers in a big way.
Running backs Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel -- taken in Round 1 and Round 2, respectively -- both are excellent receivers. Ideally, they can help Newton turn more of those shorter passes into receptions and in turn big gains.
Samuel caught 74 passes in 2016 for Ohio State. McCaffrey caught 37 last season for Stanford, 45 the year before and displayed receiver-like hands and route running at the February scouting combine. The Panthers would be well advised to weave both players into their short passing game, as they undoubtedly are planning already, and maximize their natural skills.
3. Browns get their QB
Cleveland fans got after me Thursday night and Friday morning when I pointed out the Browns' two-year aversion to seeking out a high-end quarterback.
Even after expertly accumulating additional draft assets, the Browns stayed out of the scramble for Jared Goff and Carson Wentz in 2016. Then, they stood by this year as other teams maneuvered for Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes II.
To their credit, the Browns finally drafted a promising -- albeit raw -- quarterback Friday night. Notre Dame's Deshone Kizer was the best quarterback available when their second-round pick came up at No. 52 overall.
An optimist would say the Browns' patience was rewarded. After all, they did not need to use a first-round pick or trade up to get a talented passer who was regarded well enough to be invited to attend the draft as a possible first-round selection.
A pessimist -- and I would never dispute that label -- might suggest the Browns took a passive approach to a position of outsized importance. They sat, waited and will have to accept the limitations of a player whom the league collectively considered the fourth best of the top four prospects.
Kizer showed promise at Notre Dame, but his inconsistency was evident, most notably in his accuracy numbers. He completed 67.3 percent of throws that traveled 10 or fewer yards in the air, ranking No. 42 among Power 5 quarterbacks. He also was judged to be off target, by ESPN Stats & Information video analysis, on 9.2 percent of those throws -- the second-worst rate among qualified Power 5 passers.
There are no perfect prospects, whether at No. 1 overall or No. 52. And in truth, it's tough to argue that Trubisky unequivocally will be a better pro than Kizer. So I'll say this: The Browns were down to their final strike, at least for 2017, before they took a swing at a quarterback they could credibly claim to be a developmental starter. It was about time.
4. Cook, Mixon find homes
Two talented running backs were snapped up in the first 16 picks Friday night after each fell out of the first round. The Minnesota Vikings took Florida State's Dalvin Cook at No. 41, pegging him as the long-term replacement for Adrian Peterson, and the Cincinnati Bengals added Oklahoma's Joe Mixon to their lively locker room at No. 48.
The Vikings said they were satisfied after researching Cook's off-field issues in college; he was charged with criminal mischief in 2014 and completed pretrial intervention and was acquitted of misdemeanor battery after an alleged incident outside a bar in 2015.
But the Vikings' decision to trade up for Cook suggested they did not plan to draft Mixon if he was available. Mixon punched a woman in 2014, breaking four bones in her face, and accepted a plea deal. Oklahoma suspended him for the 2014 season. The video of the incident was released in December, and according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, only four of the league's 32 teams were willing to draft Mixon.
You could have gotten good odds that one would be the Bengals, who often embrace players with sketchy on- and off-field histories. They've continued to stand by cornerback Adam Jones and linebacker Vontaze Burfict, for example, and on Mixon, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said: "I don't know who isn't disgusted with what they saw. But that's one day in a young man's life and he's had to live that since then and he will continue to have to live that. He gets an opportunity to move forward and write his script from then on."
Mixon will be by far the most scrutinized rookie in the NFL this season, and for better or worse, he has gone to a franchise with plenty of experience -- and some success -- in handling those situations.
5. Pearson for (draft) commissioner!
Hopefully you caught receiver Drew Pearson's introduction of the Dallas Cowboys' second-round selection, which turned out to be Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. Pearson turned in a rousing riff amid the requisite booing from fans in Philadelphia. He thanked the NFC East rival Eagles for "allowing me to have a career" in the NFL and threw further shade by noting he had played for the "five-time world champion Dallas Cowboys." (The Eagles have not won a Super Bowl.)
The scene was all the proof we need to shove commissioner Roger Goodell away from the podium on a permanent basis. And if you didn't think so at that moment, you were probably convinced when Eagles long-snapper Jon Dorenbos gave a high-energy welcome to Eagles third-round pick Rasul Douglas, a cornerback from West Virginia.
The annual boos Goodell absorbs were a cute shtick at first, but now they're just predictable and not even that cathartic. How about going full WWE and allow the former players, celebrities and other notables to turn it up a few notches? More fun. Less boos. (See, I'm not always pessimistic!)
The NFL can and should file this suggestion as priority 1,567 in a busy offseason. But I can't imagine a single objection emerging among draft fans. Let's gooooooooo!