NFL Draft Round 1 Analysis
Day 1 of the NFL draft is over, so it’s time to review what we saw. The first round was filled with surprise picks, trades (although later than expected), and of course, plenty of drama. Here are my thoughts on each pick.
Arizona Cardinals- Kyler Murray QB/Oklahoma
Well, it’s official. The Cardinals are the first team to use back to back top 10 picks on quarterbacks since the Baltimore Colts in the early 1980s. While there will be questions about Josh Rosen’s future, they clearly got the guy coach Kliff Kingsbury has been coveting. Their connection connection has been well documented by the NFL media. It remains to be seen if Murray is actually the best player in this draft, but he has all the tools to succeed in this offense. Kingsbury runs an explosive offense that is similar to the one that Kyler succeeded with at Oklahoma. The questions about Murray have been mostly related to height and the possibility of playing baseball, but he has the abilities to make plays for this offense.
2. San Francisco 49ers- Nick Bosa DE/Ohio State
I have said that Nick Bosa gets more attention because of his family name, but he can still be a productive NFL player. He has the ability to rush the passer from the outside and can play inside if need be. The tape is slightly limited, but the questions with him are more about his commitment and health than his ability because he only played 3 games for the Buckeyes in his final season.
3. New York Jets- Quinnen Williams DT/Alabama
Williams was also in consideration for the top pick. He is a powerful and skilled defensive tackle who can rush the passer and stop the run. He is a MONSTER on the field, and has a great attitude and work ethic. He was originally a backup defensive end at Alabama, but spoke to Nick Saban about changing positions and getting on the field. He put on the weight to move inside and has thrived. If that doesn’t show commitment, then I don’t know what does.
4. Oakland Raiders- Clelin Ferrell DE/Clemson
The first surprise pick of this draft. The surprise isn’t the position but the player. It’s no secret the Raiders have needed pass rushers ever since they traded Khalil Mack to Chicago, but Ferrell was regarded as more of a late first round pick. I can remember GM Mike Mayock raving about this guy when he worked for the NFL Network, so it’ s not as shocking as some may think. I do think that Ferrell benefited from playing with fellow first rounders Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence, and he’s not as athletic as some of other pass rushers who were available. He could be productive, but I don’t think he will meet expectations for a top 5 pick.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Devin White LB/LSU
The Bucs have been linked to Devin White throughout the draft process, so it’s no surprise that he was there selection. White is seemingly all over the field and a good leader for the middle of a defense, something that Tampa sorely needs with Kwon Alexander leaving for San Francisco.
6. New York Giants- Daniel Jones QB/Duke
A bit of a surprise given that Dwayne Haskins was still available, but there was a rumor circulating that Jones would be the pick at 6 a few days ago. I think they could’ve gotten him later, but not as late as their second pick at 17. Jones gets common comparisons to the Manning brothers because he played for David Cutcliffe at Duke, who was Peyton’s QB coach at Tennessee and Eli’s head coach at Ole Miss. Can he live up to the comparisons? He’s shown some impressive flashes, but time will tell.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Josh Allen DE/Kentucky
The Jags should be thrilled to add Allen, who was projected to be a top 3 or 4 selection at worst. Jacksonville rode their defense to the AFC Championship game in 2017-18, and they need to get back to that philosophy. Allen had 17.5 sack last season in the SEC and was the conference’s defensive player of the year. He has also shown the ability to play off the ball and in coverage as a linebacker. Allen is a fantastic player and was going to be a home run for whoever drafted him.
8. Detroit Lions- TJ Hockenson TE/Iowa
Lions fans understandably have mixed feelings about this pick. Personally, I don’t love it, but I definitely understand it. The Lions have had horrible production from their tight ends in recent years. They signed Jesse James away from the Steelers, and the addition of Hockenson should give them a formidable duo for once. GM Bob Quinn mentioned last night that the offense would use a lot of “12 personnel” (1 RB, 2 TE), which provides even more reason for this pick. While they could’ve benefited from an elite pass rusher, and I’m not a fan of tight ends in the top 10, but adding the top tight end in recent draft memory will ultimately benefit the offense.
9. Buffalo Bills- Ed Oliver DT/Houston
Kyle Williams’ retirement opened up a hole in Buffalo’s defensive line. Ed Oliver is a tremendous addition. He went into the college season as a top 3 player, but battled an injury all year. He has drawn comparisons to Aaron Donald, but Buffalo fans need to temper their expectations a bit. Oliver can play all across the line and will be an immediate contributor, possibly even in the rookie of the year conversation, but overall he is not Aaron Donald.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (from Denver)- Devin Bush LB/Michigan
The first trade. Pittsburgh has been looking for a linebacker like this since the unfortunate Ryan Shazier injury. Bush is only 5’11”, but plays a complete game. He’s a great tackler and is always around the ball. Plus, his speed makes him great in coverage. As a Spartan, I fault him for being a Wolverine, but I’ll admit when a guy can play ball. He’ll be an excellent Steeler.
11. Cincinnati Bengals- Jonah Williams OL/Alabama
I’ll admit I expected Haskins to be this pick once he fell this far, but the Bengals were in need of offensive lineman. Williams has talent, but the question is will he be a guard or a tackle? He played tackle at Alabama, but their are concerns about his length. He’s on the shorter side for an NFL tackle and has short arms, so he may be destined for guard. He can be a productive player if developed in the correct position.
12. Green Bay Packers- Rashan Gary DL/Michigan (drafted as a LB)
Surprised by this one. The labral tear Gary apparently suffered in college didn’t keep him waiting long to get drafted. As I stated in a previous post, I’m not a Gary fan. He was a major high school recruit, but failed to live up to the hype in college, even with plenty of playmakers to around to take the attention of the offense away from him. The most interesting part of this pick is that he was drafted as a linebacker. Most scouts had Gary pegged as a pass rushing defensive tackle, who could also shift to defensive end in some situations. It will be interesting to see how they use him, but I’ve always thought of Gary as a bust.
13. Miami Dolphins- Christian Wilkins DT/ Clemson
Miami passed on a quarterback for a great defensive player. Christian Wilkins is one of my favorite players in this draft. He’s a FORCE on the defensive line and possibly the best of a loaded group of Clemson defensive lineman. I think he could’ve been a top 10 pick if the circumstance came, but he’ll be a great player for Miami.
14. Atlanta Falcons- Chris Lindstrom G/Boston College
I think Atlanta would’ve taken Wilkins if he was still available. They loved Ed Oliver and wanted to add to the defensive front. They also needed to add protection for Matt Ryan. I didn’t expect Lindstrom to be drafted quite this high, but he’ll be a quality starting guard.
15. Washington Redskins- Dwayne Haskins QB/ Ohio State
Come draft day, everyone knew the Redskins loved Haskins. There was even speculation that they were willing to trade all the way up to the top 5 to select him if they had to. But they didn’t have to. They stayed where they were, and the board fell their way. They grabbed a local guy and the best pocket passer in the draft. Haskins will most likely compete for the starting job and be the QB for the next decade.
16. Carolina Panthers- Brian Burns OLB/Florida State
Carolina needed a pass rusher with the loss of Julius Peppers. Burns has the ability and athletic profile to be one of the top defenders in the league, but he also has high-risk. He has the height and length, but was listed at only 227 lbs on the Seminoles’ team website. That’s not big enough to play on the edge in the NFL. The question was if he could add weight and maintain his speed and athleticism. All indications from this offseason indicate that he was able to do so. I really like this pick.
17. New York Giants (from CLE)- Dexter Lawrence DT/Clemson
Another Clemson d-lineman. The Giants had a need here after trading Damon Harrison to the Lions mid-season. Lawrence is huge presence in the middle and a generates great penetration at the point of attack. There are some character concerns, since he missed the College Football Playoffs for failing a drug test, but coaches say it was a huge misunderstanding. If he really has his act together, he will be a good starter.
18. Minnesota Vikings- Garrett Bradbury OL/ NC State
As a Detroit fan, I hate this. As a football fan, it’s a great fit. Minnesota finally added a quality draft pick to its offensive line. They’ve had problems protecting the quarterback for years and really needed to protect their investment in Kirk Cousins. Bradbury was my top guard after an incredible showing at the Senior Bowl. He has a good base and strong hands that make him a good run and pass blocker.
19. Tennessee Titans- Jeffery Simmons DT/Mississippi St
Ideally, you want an immediate impact player in the first round. Simmons will not be that because he tore his ACL this offseason and will probably miss the season. However, when healthy, he is a top 10 talent in this class. If you watch the Bulldogs’ games, the entire defense stands out, but no one stood out to me more than Simmons. I immediately pegged him as a potential first round pick a couple years ago, and he’s been incredible to watch since. He’s always in the backfield and beating guys off the ball. Once healthy, he will make a dominant tandem in Tennessee with Jurrell Casey.
20. Denver Broncos (from Pittsburgh)- Noah Fant TE/Iowa
This adds a new element to Denver’s passing game. Fant is a prototypical receiving tight end. He’s big-bodied, athletic, and fast as hell (4.5 40 yard dash at the combine). He needs to work on his blocking to be a complete tight end, but he will be a dynamic playmaker for Joe Flacco and whoever comes after him.
21. Green Bay Packers (from Seattle)- Darnell Savage S/Maryland
Surprise pick here. Savage was a projected third rounder but has been a fast riser. Green Bay has had issues with its secondary and needed a safety to fill the void left by Haha Clinton-Dix. Savage will come up and hit you and has good coverage and ball tracking skills. High potential but low floor.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (from Baltimore)- Andre Dillard OT/Washington State
Some had Dillard as a top 10 pick or THE top offensive tackle. He is definitely the best pass blocker in this draft. Adds protection for Carson Wentz and a potential successor to Jason Peters.
23. Houston Texans- Tytus Howard OT/Alabama State
Tytus Howard was going to go earlier than anyone expected, but it wasn’t supposed to be in the first round. The tackle put himself on the map with an outstanding week at the Senior Bowl. Houston needed protection for Deshaun Watson, and Howard has the tools to be a starter, but it is worth noting that Jawaan Taylor and Cody Ford were still available.
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago)- Josh Jacobs RB/Alabama
Is anyone actually surprised by this? One of the worst kept secrets in the NFL was how much Gruden loves Jacobs. With Marshawn Lynch retiring (again), he was destined to be a Raider. One advantage Jacobs has is he doesn’t have the mileage on his body that most running backs come in with. Alabama runs a pretty good committee style backfield that also included fellow draft prospect Damien Harris. Jacobs has the ability to be a brusier between the tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield.
25. Baltimore Ravens (from Philadelphia)- Marquise Brown WR/Oklahoma
Speed, speed, speed. It seems pretty clear that Baltimore is basing its new offense on speed. Quarterback Lamar Jackson can run with the best of them. The Ravens have some possession receivers and tight ends, but needed someone who can take the top off the defense. Brown is only 166 lbs but is probably the fastest WR in this draft (we don’t know for sure because he’s been too injured to run).
26. Washington Redskins (from Indianapolis)- Montez Sweat DE/Mississippi St
I didn’t expect this one, mostly because Washington has used so many first round picks on the defensive line, but when a player of this caliber slides this far, you go get him. Sweat is an intriguing player. Coming into the offseason, the concerns were if he had power and could add weight. Not only did he do both, but he ran the fastest 40 ever for a defensive lineman. After all that, he was a projected top 15 pick by most. I thought he would go top 10, so I am very high on him. He’s had a recent concern with a heart issue, but it think Sweat will be one of the best defensive ends in the league.
27. Oakland Raiders (from DAL)- Johnathan Abram S/Mississippi St
Hardest hitting safety in college. His new teammate, Josh Jacobs, even said it on the radio. I love Abram. He’s physical and instinctive. I expect him to be a high-end safety in this league.
28. Los Angeles Chargers- Jerry Tillery DT/Notre Dame
A tough defense gets even tougher. Watch the Michigan/Notre Dame game to start last season, and Tillery stands out. He’s a big defensive tackle who can play inside or slide all the way out to the 5 technique. I wasn’t sure he’d be a first rounder, but he’s a guy I’ve been high on all season. Expect a good career for him.
29. Seattle Seahawks (from Kansas City)- LJ Collier DE/TCU
I thought Collier was more of a third round guy. He had a good set of practices and flashed potential at the Senior Bowl. He’s not really long but could be an average starter. I think Pete Carroll can develop him, but he was not worth the first round pick, even this late.
30. New York Giants (from Seattle from Green Bay)- DeAndre Baker CB/Georgia
One of the biggest surprises of the first round was that only one corner was drafted. A smaller surprise was that Baker was that guy. He definitely has first round talent, but he was largely considered the third best corner. The Giants needed secondary help, and Baker could be the playmaker they need.
31. Atlanta Falcons (From LA Rams)- Kaleb McGary OT/Washington
With Cody Ford and Jawaan Taylor still on the board, this was a bit of a surprise. McGary was once considered a first round guy but fell off. He’s an average starter to me, but won’t blow you away. Nevertheless, Atlanta clearly has put effort into protecting Matt Ryan.
32. New England Patriots- N’Keal Harry WR/Arizona St
New England kept a pick! The Pats picked a high-ceiling big-play receiver. He’s not the smaller, under-the-radar, New England prototype, but he may be more. Harry is tall and has number one receiver potential. Belichick has a reputation for developing over-looked players, so I’m excited to see what he can do with a higher profile.