(Reuters) – One night after selecting LSU’s Joe Burrow with the first pick of the NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals wasted no time finding him a target by nabbing Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins with the first pick of the second round on Friday.
Higgins, who grew up rooting for the Bengals, had 1,167 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns last season and is already familiar with Burrow’s game, having faced his now team mate in last year’s national championship game.
The 21-year-old Higgins will benefit from playing under seven-time Pro Bowl receiver AJ Green as the Bengals look to revitalize the struggling franchise, which has gone 29 seasons without a playoff victory, the longest active streak in the NFL.
“We’re about to tear it up, you just watch and see,” a smiling Higgins said.
“And we’ve got Joe at quarterback? Come on now. We’re gonna go crazy.”
The Bengals weren’t the only franchise in the market for receivers on Friday.
The Colts selected towering USC wideout Michael Pittman immediately after Higgins was taken off the board, giving quarterback Philip Rivers a big target next season when he takes the reigns in Indianapolis.
The Detroit Lions then added a potent offensive weapon of their own in the form of explosive Georgia running back D’Andre Swift.
Two dynamic safeties — Xavier McKinney of Alabama and Kyle Dugger of Lenoir-Rhyne — rounded out the first five picks of the second round after being selected by the New York Giants and New England Patriots, respectively.
The Philadelphia Eagles raised eyebrows when they picked Heisman runner-up Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma 53rd overall — earlier than many expected the quarterback to go.
Hurts, who can beat defenses with his arm or his legs, will back up the oft-injured Carson Wentz and may be asked to sub in for him in certain situations as the trend toward mobile quarterbacks continues to rise.
The 21-year-old Hurts began his college career at Alabama before losing his starting job to Tua Tagovailoa and transferring to Oklahoma, where he led the Sooners to the college football playoffs last season in dramatic fashion.
“It’s all been unprecedented,” Hurts said of his unlikely path to the NFL.
“To sit here and have this opportunity to go to the next level, it’s a blessing.”
In an emotional moment, the Detroit Lions selected Notre Dame defensive end Julian Okwara in the third round, pairing him with his older brother and fellow defensive end Romeo.
Upon learning the news the brothers embraced, Julian broke into tears and their ecstatic family cheered in one of the highlights of the second day of the three-day event.
The draft is being held in a virtual format this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with players, coaches, general managers and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell all participating from their homes.
While the first round generates the most attention, 35 Hall of Fame players have been selected in the second round or later including all-time passing leader Drew Brees and four-time Super Bowl champion Joe Montana.
Television viewership for Thursday’s first round broke records with an average of more than 15.6 million people tuning in for one of the few live sports events left on a professional calendar.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Kim Coghill)