Mike Sando of ESPN.com has a long piece where he talks to his anonymous insider friends and gets their thoughts on the various actions of the 32 member clubs. Full thing here, edited version below:
For a while, the Cardinals had what one former general manager called the two best quarterbacks in the 2019 draft. Top overall pick Kyler Murray was one of them. Incumbent Cardinals starter Josh Rosen, subsequently traded to Miami for a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 fifth-rounder, was the other.
“Murray is No. 1, hands down — as good or better than [Baker] Mayfield,” the former GM said. “But they gotta fix the offensive line in Arizona or they might get the little guy killed. Murray is not going to back down. He is going to run around to make a play, and defenses in the NFL are a little different than the Big 12.”
Most execs thought selecting Murray was an easy call even though Arizona used a first-round pick for Rosen just last year.
“Murray is a game-changer, and then [second-round cornerback Byron] Murphy is a ball hawk,” a general manager said. “[Third-round defensive end] Zach Allen is very active, [second-round receiver Andy] Isabella was very productive. The late part of their draft is a bunch of free agents, in my opinion, but the early part is very intriguing.”
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There is one overriding concern.
“If you can’t pass protect and you can’t run block, I don’t care who your quarterback is,” an exec said. “It can be f—ing Tom Brady and you are not going to survive.”
The three teams making the largest percentage jumps up the draft board via trades have one thing in common: Their coaches could be under pressure after disappointing 2018 seasons.
“Teams make the bigger moves up to get that quality player so they can sustain success, or you make a move like that to get your quarterback of the future,” a GM said.
The Falcons are trying to sustain a window that closed last season, but not necessarily for good. They selected guard Chris Lindstrom 14th overall and then traded up from the 45th slot to select tackle Kaleb McGary at No. 31 in an obvious desire to improve their offensive line.
“We think McGary can be the best offensive lineman in this draft,” a different GM said. “What we don’t know is exactly where that would be on the line.”
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“We really liked Lindstrom but were a little surprised they took him at 14,” an evaluator said. “Pass-rusher is still a giant question mark. Maybe they think everything will take care of itself if they just protect Matt Ryan, but they could be in a lot of shootouts, so you’d better have the ball at the end and hope your D is not on the field.”
This Ravens draft was largely about adding speed and weaponry to the offense, but the big decision Baltimore made one year ago — trading up to select quarterback Lamar Jackson — affected what execs thought of the latest moves.
“The receiver they took in the first round, [Marquise] ‘Hollywood’ Brown, effectively replaces John Brown in their offense,” an evaluator said. “He is more dynamic, but if you look at John Brown’s stats, he put up big numbers with Joe Flacco, and then the moment Lamar Jackson became the quarterback, his numbers completely tanked.”
The Bills seemed to be one of those teams that had things fall their way early when Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver remained available to them in their ninth overall slot.
“I personally thought they had one of the best drafts in terms of quality from top to bottom,” a former GM said. “All their picks were good players with traits. Ed Oliver is a penetrating nose tackle who makes a ton of tackles for loss — disruptive against run and pass. They took two tight ends I liked, an effective back [Devin Singletary] and a massive, massive right tackle [Cody Ford] who was a one-year starter but really dominated.”
Not everyone was as enthusiastic.
“Oliver is going to be interesting because he is so [relatively] small,” another exec said. “Being so small, he is an exception, and that is scary. I don’t think they over-drafted him, though. I’m sure they did their homework and feel great about him. I just think the Aaron Donald comparisons miss the mark. He is not that explosive.”
In February, Josh Hermsmeyer of FiveThirtyEight unveiled a quarterback projection model suggesting Kyler Murray and Will Grier were the 2019 draft-eligible quarterbacks with the best pro prospects based on completion percentage above expectation.
When the Panthers selected Grier in the third round, I asked NFL analytics directors what they thought of the pick. One analyst whose model differed from Hermsmeyer’s on some other prospects agreed with the optimistic assessment for Grier. Carolina selected the West Virginia quarterback 100th overall — not early enough to directly threaten Cam Newton, but early enough to make Grier potentially relevant down the line.
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First-round pass-rusher Brian Burns and second-round tackle Greg Little are the draft choices from whom Carolina needs contributions this season.
“I am a little hesitant on their tackle and might have taken one with their first-round pick, and then tried to get multiple second-tier rushers later,” an evaluator said. “But Norv [Turner] did a great job last year scheming protection when they really did not have any tackles. Maybe they are confident Norv can scheme around it, and getting pressure is more important.”
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“I do like Burns a lot,” an evaluator said. “He was a little raw among this pass-rush class but I would have taken him, too.”
The Bears did not select until the third round after trading their first- and second-round choices last year.
“[Third-round pick] David Montgomery will be a good back for them,” an exec said. “He is not fast, but he has good quickness, will make people miss and he can catch the ball. The receiver they took [Riley Ridley] is a good route runner with pretty good hands. I don’t know if he is explosive, but he is a bigger, stronger guy.”
The Bears used two of their five picks for running backs after shaking up the position by trading Jordan Howard to Philadelphia.
“The kid from Florida Atlantic [Kerrith Whyte Jr.] was one of the top five backs in this class, but he tested poorly and fell,” an evaluator said. “Ridley is a polished receiver, but not a separator. If Ridley’s brother [Calvin] does not have the year he had with Atlanta, I wonder if Riley Ridley drops a little. It’s like with [Nick] Bosa or [Chris] Lindstrom or any of these guys whose brothers or dads had successful careers. Teams feel better about taking them.”
Fans took note when the Steelers traded up 10 slots into the 10th overall choice to select linebacker Devin Bush one pick ahead of Cincinnati. Were the Bengals intent on taking Bush? They could have been, but multiple execs thought both AFC North rivals were happy with how the scenario played out ultimately.
“Once the Bengals took [tackle] Jonah Williams, part of me thought that was who they had in their mind the whole time,” an evaluator said. “Every time I mocked the first round, I kept having Cincy taking a tackle. There was some potential that Buffalo would take Jonah at nine, but when Ed Oliver fell, that allowed Jonah to fall.”
A GM said there are mixed reviews on Williams.
“He is such a great technician that I think he will succeed,” this GM said.
After New England selected Vanderbilt corner Joejuan Williams with the 45th overall pick, the Browns pounced, trading up three slots to No. 46. The target? Another corner named Williams.
“Getting Greedy Williams without having a first-round pick is a steal for Cleveland,” an exec said. “He is long, fast and disruptive and has good ball production. It is hard to complete balls on him, but there are some lapses in concentration.”
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“People were mocking Greedy Williams to teams in the top 10 not that long ago,” an evaluator said. “Some of our guys loved him, but he is on the small side and could get pushed around by NFL receivers. He has relied on his superior talent to this point and needs to prove he’s going to work at the craft. That said, Cleveland has to be ecstatic getting him where they got him.”
The Cowboys were one of five teams that traded their first-round pick before the draft. They got receiver Amari Cooper, while other teams included their No. 1 picks in packages that netted Mack (Bears), Beckham (Browns), Frank Clark (Chiefs) and Marcus Davenport (Saints). Most execs polled thought the Cowboys came out OK with Cooper.
The first-round pick Dallas would have possessed — No. 27 overall — was one the Raiders used for safety Johnathan Abram. An evaluator thought Abram was the best player on the board at that time, and would have been a logical choice for the Cowboys. Receiver N’Keal Harry, selected by New England at No. 32, could have been another.
“Cooper has more value than Abram right now, but looking dollar for dollar in the future, you will get more bang for your buck from Abram,” an evaluator said.
A GM said he rated second-round Cowboys defensive tackle Trysten Hill ahead of Christian Wilkins, the defensive tackle the Dolphins selected 13th overall. Some of the appeal depends on the fit, which is a big part of these evaluations.
“Hill is not a good fit in Dallas, he is a great fit,” this GM said. “He is athletic, he is fast and he went to the perfect spot where he has a great coach [Rod Marinelli] who can get it out of him. He is a very good nose in that scheme who can play 3-technique and be an every-down player. He has more talent upside than Wilkins does.”
That is not a unanimous opinion.
This served a dual purpose for the Broncos. They addressed short-term needs with first-round tight end Noah Fant and second-round tackle Dalton Risner, and long-term planning with second-round quarterback Drew Lock.
“What happened to Joe Flacco the past couple years when he didn’t have a good receiving tight end?” an evaluator asked. “Fant gives him one, which he needs. Then they get the big right tackle for the best offensive line coach in the league in [Mike] Munchak. If Flacco plays well, they will get more than fourth-round pick for him.”
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“I thought Drew Lock was their best value pick,” an exec said. “Lock has an arm and he can throw from every angle.”
How early is too early for selecting a tight end? Your answer to that question largely determines how you feel about the Lions’ draft.
A sampling of what insiders are saying about T.J. Hockenson, the tight end Detroit selected with the eighth overall choice:
Personnel director: “They got a solid tight end. He doesn’t scare you as a receiving threat, but he is a solid blocker. He was probably the best overall tight end.”
Executive: “It wasn’t even close for me personally between Hockenson and Fant. I thought Hockenson was awesome. If we had been in position to trade up for him, I would have done it in a heartbeat and would not have blinked.”
Evaluator: “If you think Hockenson is Rob Gronkowski, great, but he is not that. The only time you draft a tight end in the first round is if you’re getting an absolute freak who is athletically unique. Vernon Davis was that and he’s still playing. To use a top-10 pick, that guy has to be Gronk.”
Green Bay Packers
The Packers entered the draft with two first-round choices. They confounded execs by using the 12th overall pick on Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary before earning praise for selecting Maryland safety Darnell Savage Jr., albeit after trading up nine slots at the expense of two fourth-round choices.
“You spend big money on the two Smiths [Za’Darius and Preston] in free agency and then you draft Gary, who kind of plays the same position,” an evaluator said. “So, when we go to a four-man front, Za’Darius Smith can rush inside, but if it’s second-and-6, they are going to run at one of those guys inside whether it is Gary at 267 or Smith at 270, and then you have Kenny Clark, who is about to get paid and you have [Dean] Lowry. If you did what you did in free agency, Gary falls down the list and doesn’t get picked at 12.”
Even if the Packers’ defensive staff has an excellent plan for Gary, execs worried about the gap between the expectations for Gary at Michigan and his actual performance, plus a shoulder injury that could affect him in the future.
“Gary is a polarizing selection because he did not have a lot of sacks, but he is explosive, big and powerful,” a GM said. “They came back with the fastest safety on the board in Savage, who has very good ball skills. The center they got [Elgton Jenkins] is probably an immediate starter. [Jace] Sternberger is a speed F tight end that can stretch the vertical seams. I thought they had four quality hits and then we will see how it goes.”
Is trading up nine spots for a safety the way to go?
“Teams with multiple first-round picks sometimes operate like they are playing with house money,” an evaluator said. “They can be willing to trade up to make something happen. Savage will be a really good player and I’m excited to see how [defensive coordinator Mike] Pettine uses him, but just let the player fall to you.”
The Texans looked smart two years ago for trading up ahead of Arizona to select quarterback Deshaun Watson with the 12th overall choice. They appeared less apt this year when Philadelphia traded ahead of them to select tackle Andre Dillard, if you buy the widely held assumption that Dillard was preferable to the tackle Houston selected one spot later, Tytus Howard.
“Houston was clearly going to take a tackle at that spot,” an evaluator said. “That is part of the reason Philly jumped them. Maybe Houston tried to trade down at that point, but why not move back a few spots to take Howard later? I just don’t think any team was going to take him there.”
Multiple execs singled out the Colts’ trade with Washington as their favorite from during the draft. Indy sent the 26th pick to the Redskins for the 46th pick and a 2020 second-rounder. The Colts then sent the 46th pick to Cleveland for the 49th pick and a fifth-rounder.
“That two next year could wind up being pretty high,” an exec said. “There were probably 15 players worthy of a first-round pick. If you could get out and get a similar player in the second round and add a high pick next year, that is just smart.”
Staying focused on the big picture requires discipline.
“When I initially saw that, I thought I’d rather have the 26th pick and take Johnathan Abram there instead of Ben Banogu at 49,” an evaluator said. “I just loved Abram as a leader. Bigger picture, Banogu and whoever they pick next year will probably be better.”
Indy emerged from the second round with cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, Banogu and receiver Parris Campbell. Only Campbell was selected with the Colts’ original pick.
“They got a pass-rusher [Banogu] that fits their mold, but you get that acquisition of the second next year, which you have to do in order to keep building,” a GM said.
The Jaguars got positive reviews on multiple fronts: for taking the perceived best player available in Josh Allen with the seventh overall choice; for trading up three spots in the second round to make sure they landed tackle Jawaan Taylor, whom some expected them to select in the first round; and for using their third-round pick on a player one evaluator considered important for new quarterback Nick Foles.
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Two evaluators said they thought Taylor could be the best tackle in the draft. Some thought Allen carried more risk than some of the other players available.
“All in all, I love the process,” an evaluator said.
Kansas City Chiefs
Tough draft for the Chiefs. The Tyreek Hill situation blew up not long after the team sent its first-round pick to Seattle for Frank Clark. Kansas City then scrambled to select a potential Hill replacement with second-round receiver Mecole Hardman.
“Frank Clark is part of this draft class — the rusher they needed who will be a great fit inside and outside to do a lot of dynamic things,” an evaluator said. “You worry about a guy going from underdog with a chip on his shoulder to having made it and gotten paid.”
One GM said Hardman’s initial burst in a short area came closer to approximating Hill than any drafted receiver’s initial burst over the past few years. This GM thought Hill was a more natural receiver, however.
“The only player in this draft with Tyreek HIll speed is ‘Hollywood’ [Ravens first-rounder Marquise Brown] from Oklahoma,” an exec said. “Andy Reid is amazing at putting players in situations that make them look good, but I am not necessarily a believer in Hardman. He is a one-trick speed pony.”
Los Angeles Chargers
One team used only its own seven selections in this draft. That team was the Chargers, who do not mistake activity for achievement, as John Wooden famously said.
“They exercise patience, they study the draft, they let it come to them and that is prudent,” said a rival GM whose team nonetheless made multiple trades and was lauded for some of its maneuvering.
Chargers GM Tom Telesco said he would have traded down from the 28th overall slot if Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery had not been there. Telesco called Tillery the last of 13 players available who carried first-round grades.
“The second-round pick [safety Nasir Adderley] is interesting,” an evaluator said. “They made a tough call cutting Jahleel Addae. Well, Adderley can play center field, which now means Derwin James is going to be near the line of scrimmage, where he is even better. So they potentially get better at two positions.”
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams share a city with the Chargers, but not much in the way of approach. They traded up or down six times in this draft, and when they used a second-round choice for safety Taylor Rapp, it marked the first time in the past two drafts that the Rams selected a player in the first two rounds.
Trading up 24 slots in the third round to take running back Darrell Henderson amplified questions about Todd Gurley II’s medical outlook.
“I wouldn’t touch Gurley in fantasy,” said an evaluator who does not play fantasy.
The trade for Josh Rosen was easily the most interesting aspect of a Dolphins draft designed to be more about substance than style. Taking a defensive tackle (first-rounder Christian Wilkins) and an interior offensive lineman (third-rounder Michael Deiter) isn’t going to captivate South Florida.
“You are building a team, guys like that are the way you want to start it,” a former GM said. “As far as the quarterback, they could have had [Dwayne] Haskins at 13 but maybe they had a higher grade on Rosen coming out. The contract is so favorable that it’s really a good deal for Miami.”
The Vikings selected four offensive players in the first four rounds, tied with Washington, Baltimore and Cincinnati for the second-most behind New England. Three of the four could affect the offensive line: first-round center Garrett Bradbury, second-round tight end Irv Smith Jr. and fourth-round guard Dru Samia.
“Bradbury is talented — that is a good get for them,” a personnel director said. “Anything to help stabilize their offensive front is good. Bradbury is not a power guy, so he doesn’t scare me as much, but they needed to address the line and he helps them.”
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When the draft ended, the Vikings had traded down five times. That was the most trade-downs in the NFL, but those five moves covered a total of 24 spots, netting a series of picks in the final rounds.
“In the third round, they just start moving back and accumulating a bunch of sixth- and seventh-round picks,” an exec observed. “I don’t really know what that does for them — it is unclear to me how valuable that is. Maybe it is smart. Maybe they are drafting free agents, which is not a bad idea as long as you are not missing out on the player you would have picked in the third round.”
New England Patriots
New England made five selections in the first three rounds and seven in the first four. Both were league-high totals for the reigning Super Bowl champs.
“They have been searching for receivers and so they go with N’Keal Harry in the first round, a freak who can get vertical, can high-point the ball, has very good body control,” a former GM said. “Let’s say Josh Gordon falls through. They have a big-length receiver on the other side. Harry offers a poor man’s Randy Moss outside.”
Though the Patriots in the Bill Belichick era have not been known for selecting wide receivers early in drafts, this was the seventh time the franchise selected one of the first two wideouts selected in a class. Chad Jackson, Terry Glenn, Hart Lee Dykes, Irving Fryar, Stanley Morgan and Ron Sellers also enjoyed that distinction.
“I love N’Keal Harry — he was my No. 1 receiver,” a GM said. “They haven’t drafted receivers early, but Belichick is really good at understanding every draft is different. He understands, ‘I am taking the guy, he is a receiver, I don’t care.'”
Execs were intrigued by second-round selection Joejuan Williams, a supersized corner without traditional speed for the position. They could have predicted Michigan’s Chase Winovich would wind up in New England, so closely does he match the Patriots’ template (an exec called him a “hard ass” with a “nonstop motor”). Another exec saw third-round running back Damien Harris as a potential hedge against the expiration date on Sony Michel’s knees.
“Their draft did not stand out to me and they have not been much better or worse than average in the draft recently,” this exec said. “But if a lot of teams take a slow corner, they ask him to do what they do. When New England does, they figure out exactly how they want him to play.”
New Orleans Saints
While the Patriots were selecting five players in the first three rounds, the Saints were selecting just one, a stark contrast for two contending teams.
New Orleans badly needed a center after Max Unger’s retirement and found one in Erik McCoy after trading up 14 spots in a deal that gave Miami the pick they used for acquiring Josh Rosen.
“There were three standout centers in this draft and New Orleans got the last one to fill a glaring hole,” an exec said.
New York Giants
The Giants are under siege from so many angles that it’s helpful to separate what league insiders find truly objectionable from criticisms they consider irrelevant:
Highly objectionable: Bypassing Sam Darnold in the 2018 draft and instead selecting Saquon Barkley from a class that was strong for running backs.
Objectionable: GM Dave Gettleman’s inability to communicate a coherent message regarding the team’s thinking.
Less objectionable: Valuing Daniel Jones enough to select him in the first round this year.
Not at all objectionable: Selecting Jones sixth overall instead of 17th overall once the organization decided Jones would be their next franchise quarterback.
“I have no idea where Daniel Jones would have gone if he was not taken at six,” an exec said. “I would be surprised if Dave Gettleman knew exactly where he was going to go, but I do believe he thought he would be gone by 17, and if that is the case and he is your guy, just take him. That is good process by him. I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, and certainly Gettleman is not doing a good job selling his vision and actions to the media. It is so weird.”
Another exec seemed dumbfounded when Gettleman publicly identified Washington as a team that would have selected Jones.
“All Dave has to say is that Jones is their franchise guy and he does not give a s— what anyone else says,” this exec said.
This exec said his team ranked Jones second among the quarterbacks in this draft, behind Murray. Others had Jones ranked lower. As I’ve said for years, quarterbacks and head coaches are two of the most important figures in any organization, and NFL teams aren’t really sure how to hire either one.
New York Jets
At the request of an exec who was curious, I polled several evaluators to see how they rated Jets first-round pick Quinnen Williams relative to pass-rusher Josh Allen. A strong majority favored Williams. Was the gap between them large enough for the Jets to set aside the idea that Allen would have filled a more pressing need?
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Execs pointed to character and/or off-field concerns for multiple picks the Jets selected after the first round, notably Jachai Polite and Chuma Edoga.
“If you had question marks, you fell in this draft, unless the Jets took you,” an evaluator said. “The Raiders took those guys last year. This year, the Raiders take a bunch of high-football-character guys and the Jets were the ones rolling the dice.”
The Raiders seemed to draft solid building blocks with their three first-round picks even if execs questioned the value of taking Clelin Ferrell fourth overall.
“Oakland drafted Ferrell with the fourth pick and there are quarterbacks who are not blazers that are faster than him,” an exec said. “That would worry me. Then, on TV, [Jon] Gruden and [Mike] Mayock did a good job getting the analysts to send out their message that this was a culture builder, but then they just traded for Antonio Brown, so what kind of culture are you building there?”
One evaluator who graded Ferrell especially high — up there with Josh Allen — thought the Clemson defensive end was closer to his ceiling than some of the other prospects.
“I would rather have Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper if you are asking me,” another evaluator said, “but hey, they are filling needs. The Clemson guy is consistent and good at every area without standing out in any. The safety [Johnathan Abram] is physical but not great in coverage. The running back [Josh Jacobs] is probably the best of the lot, and he didn’t even start at Alabama.”
A third evaluator thought the Raiders filled needs sufficiently to become competitive next season and generate some excitement heading to Las Vegas.
“This was a quantity draft more than a quality draft, not just for the Raiders but overall,” this evaluator said. “It was less about finding ‘blue’ guys as much as it was about finding guys who were maybe ‘blue’ in one area.”
The Eagles selected only five players for the second year in a row, matching their lowest total since the team selected four in 1989. They spent a third-rounder in a trade for Golden Tate, fourth- and sixth-rounders in their first-round trade with Houston and a seventh in a trade for defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway.
“The trade by the Eagles to get the tackle [Andre Dillard at No. 22] was a really good trade because I think Houston would have taken him at 23,” an exec said. “If you go from Jason Peters at left tackle to Dillard and you don’t have to move Lane Johnson, you could have continuity at left tackle for 20 years. Who can say that?”
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A GM called second-round running back Miles Sanders undervalued even though he thought Sanders must learn to run tougher between the tackles. This GM thought third-round receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside had the length, body control and hands to complement the Eagles’ receiving corps.
Desperate for a successor to the injured Ryan Shazier, the Steelers traded up 10 spots in the first round to select inside linebacker Devin Bush. That was the largest percentage climb up the draft board by any team on draft day.
“They got a really good player and from a culture standpoint, that was a really good move for them,” a former GM said. “I really like [third-round receiver] Diontae Johnson as well. He can return, he can play inside, he can play outside. For what they lost [Antonio Brown], that was a really good pick. In some ways, they lost some talent but probably steadied their locker room ship.”
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers could have selected Quinnen Williams second overall. They took Nick Bosa instead. There were few objections.
“I had them graded the same but would have taken Bosa,” a former GM said. “It depends on your system. They are both three-down players to me. Bosa can play in a base 4-3 and then in sub, move into a 3-technique because he is so good with his hands. You cannot teach that stuff.”
Bosa was such a highly regarded prospect that selecting him second overall required relatively little discernment. The move did have other implications, however.
“Basically, you are saying that with the third pick two years ago, you missed with Solomon Thomas,” an evaluator said.
The 49ers’ decision in the second round was more difficult. Execs gave them high marks for selecting South Carolina receiver Deebo Samuel.
“The thing about Samuel is you can say ‘slot guy’ and he probably is, but you can bump him outside some,” an evaluator said. “He has return ability, really good run after the catch, is a great kid and a tough kid.”
Seattle entered this draft with four selections and exited with 11 players, none more polarizing than second-round receiver DK Metcalf. Evaluators see him as a boom-or-bust prospect, with most of them leaning toward bust.
“DK will be really good for them,” a dissenting evaluator said. “Everyone wants to crush him. Meanwhile, everyone is saying nothing but great things about the Stanford receiver that Philly took [JJ Arcega-Whiteside], but Metcalf is a better athlete who can go up and play the ball as well and has higher upside. He definitely has bust potential, but his ceiling is one of the top receivers in the NFL.”
This evaluator envisioned Russell Wilson finding Metcalf deep down the field on scramble drills.
“I wasn’t a fan, but where they took him was better than where everybody was saying he was going,” a former GM said.
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Some had first-round pick L.J. Collier as a second-round talent. Seattle ideally would have taken him there, but a run on defensive linemen forced the Seahawks’ hand at a position of great need.
“We liked that kid,” an evaluator from a team with a highly ranked defense said. “They lost Frank Clark and he is basically Frank Clark and maybe even better. The kid is talented. He plays with dog and is versatile. I like the fit and the pick. Were they a little rich? Maybe, but that is a pretty good get for them.”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs could have had pass-rusher Josh Allen with the fifth overall choice. They took inside linebacker Devin White instead. Evaluators did not crush them.
“I love Devin White and think he is one of the top players in the draft,” a GM said. “I love everything about him — the person, how he plays the game. He is a better football player than Josh Allen.”
An exec from a team with pass-rush needs said Allen wasn’t as high on their board as outsiders might have suspected.
“He does not play violently and might just be a stand-up linebacker at the end of the day,” this exec said.
An evaluator did point out that inside linebackers as short as the 6-foot-0 White haven’t sustained high levels of play as a general rule over the past decade or longer.
The Titans used the 19th overall pick for a defensive tackle (Jeffery Simmons) with a recently torn ACL. Is that a luxury they can afford? Most evaluators thought it was, including a few who thought Simmons was among the top two players in the draft.
“I would have taken that pick every day,” a GM said. “He is one of the top two players in this draft. His character does not scare me one bit.”
The Redskins got their quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, without trading up from the 15th overall slot. They made a huge move up the board for Montez Sweat, one of the most talented defensive linemen in the draft. Opinions were mixed.
“Sweat could be the best pass-rusher in the draft, but there are serious medical and character concerns that took him off some boards entirely,” an evaluator said. “He is a potential Randy Gregory. Washington’s entire defense, or most of it, will be interesting that way based on some of the guys they’ve got.”
Haskins gives Washington badly needed hope at quarterback.
“I think their biggest thing is, not so much record, but they renewed excitement to sell tickets,” an evaluator said. “I think they did get two good picks with Haskins and Sweat. The talk before the draft was that they were willing to do anything to get a quarterback, but they stayed patient and he fell to them.”
This evaluator called Haskins a better version of Jameis Winston — better because Haskins sees things quicker.
“Haskins has the potential to be a classic West Coast quarterback, the type of guy Bill Walsh would have liked to have gotten his hands on,” this evaluator said.