AROUND THE NFL

The fifth-year option deadline is a great way to get a read on how a team feels about their first round skills a few years previously.  Michael David Smith has this year’s review for the class of 2016:

 

When NFL teams decline to pick up the fifth-year option for a first-round draft pick, they’re essentially saying that pick fell short of expectations. By that measure, 45 percent of the first-round picks in the 2016 NFL draft fell short.

 

The fifth-year option decisions are in for all of the first-round picks from 2016, and 17 of them were picked up, while 14 were declined. (New England was stripped of its first-round pick for Deflategate.)

 

That makes the 2016 first round a fairly disappointing one. In each of the last two years, 20 fifth-year options were picked up and 12 were declined.

 

Teams picking at the top of the draft were satisfied with their picks, as the Top 7 players all had their options picked up. The highest pick to have his option declined was Titans offensive tackle Jack Conklin, drafted No. 8 overall. Two first-round picks, 15th overall selection Corey Coleman of the Browns and 26th overall selection Paxton Lynch of the Broncos, had no fifth-year option because they have already been released from their rookie contracts.

 

Here’s the full list:

 

1. Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams: Picked up.

 

2. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: Picked up.

 

3. Joey Bosa, DE, Los Angeles Chargers: Picked up.

 

4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Picked up.

 

5. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Picked up.

 

6. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Baltimore Ravens: Picked up.

 

7. DeForest Buckner, DE, San Francisco 49ers: Picked up.

 

8. Jack Conklin, OT, Tennessee Titans: Not picked up.

 

9. Leonard Floyd, LB, Chicago Bears: Picked up. The Bears are picking up Floyd’s option, Garafolo reports.

 

10. Eli Apple, CB, New York Giants: Not picked up. New York traded Apple to the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 23. The Saints will not pick up Apple’s option.

 

11. Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Picked up.

 

12. Sheldon Rankins, DT, New Orleans Saints: Picked up.

 

13. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Miami Dolphins: Picked up.

 

14. Karl Joseph, S, Oakland Raiders: Not picked up.

 

15. Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns: Cleveland traded Coleman to the Buffalo Bills in August. The wideout has since spent time with the Bills, Pats and Giants. Coleman was assigned a one-year tender by New York in March.

 

16. Taylor Decker, OT, Detroit Lions: Picked up.

 

17. Keanu Neal, S, Atlanta Falcons: Picked up.

 

18. Ryan Kelly, C, Indianapolis Colts: Picked up.

 

19. Shaq Lawson, DE, Buffalo Bills: Not picked up.

 

20. Darron Lee, LB, New York Jets: Not picked up.

 

21. Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans: Picked up.

 

22. Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins: Not picked up.

 

23. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings: Not picked up.

 

24. William Jackson, CB, Cincinnati Bengals: Picked up.

 

25. Artie Burns, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Not picked up.

 

26. Paxton Lynch, QB, Denver Broncos: Released by Denver in September. Signed a reserve/future contract with the Seattle Seahawks in January.

 

27. Kenny Clark, DT, Green Bay Packers: Picked up.

 

28. Joshua Garnett, G, San Francisco 49ers: Not picked up.

 

29. Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Arizona Cardinals: Not picked up

 

30. Vernon Butler, DT, Carolina Panthers: Not picked up.

 

31. Germain Ifedi, OT Seattle Seahawks: Not picked up.

 

*Fifth-year salaries are determined by draft position. The first 10 picks earn pay equal to the average of the 10 highest salaries at their position. The remainder of the first round is the average of the third through 25th highest salaries at the position. Per the CBA, a player’s position is determined by where he took the most snaps during his third league year.

 

So 11 of the first 13 were picked up, and 14 of the first 18.  Then only 3 of the last 13.

 

NFC EAST

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

The DB saw something in the eyes and expression of QB DANIEL JONES when his selection was announced.  We aren’t sure how to characterize it – perhaps, apprehension?  Perhaps, determination?  Perhaps, fear?  But in any case, it didn’t seem to be unbridled joy.

 

With that in mind, this from Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones seems to be aware that a lot of people think picking him sixth overall was a mistake. But he doesn’t want to give it much thought.

 

Jones, the quarterback from Duke whom the Giants liked a lot more than most outside observers, said today at the team facility that he just isn’t going to listen to what fans or the media have to say on the subject.

 

“It’d be hard to be completely unaware of that stuff,” Jones said. “But I don’t focus on that. There’s a lot to focus on, there’s a lot to learn for me right now, being here, learning the offense, trying to pick up a lot of stuff, so I’m not sure I can afford to really focus on that too much.”

 

That’s the right answer. All Jones can do is get to work and try to prove that drafting him was the right call. Whether the Giants made a mistake or not remains to be seen, but for Jones, letting the outside noise get to him would definitely be a mistake.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

CAROLINA

QB CAM NEWTON extends a welcome to rookie QB WILL GRIER.  Herbie Teope of NFL.com:

 

 

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on Thursday provided his first public thoughts on the team’s drafting of Will Grier in the third round.

 

Grier became the first quarterback the Panthers drafted since Newton in 2011, and some might believe the addition of another young signal-caller could provide tension.

 

Newton, however, fully embraced Grier’s selection with a warm smile.

 

“A lot of people — the natural — you would think that I feel intimidated,” Newton said at the grand opening of his cigar bar and restaurant in Atlanta, via Josh Sims of FOX 46. “That’s not the case here.

 

“I reached out to Will. I actually seen Will play in high school with him being in Charlotte and I’m just excited. Like I said, for him to come on a team that I know he possesses a rare talent and I’m excited.”

 

Grier, the 100th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, won’t be a challenge to Newton’s position as the clear established starter any time soon.

 

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney emphasized after the draft that the team’s use of a third-round pick on Grier bolstered depth at the quarterback position, and was not an indictment on Newton.

 

“Cam Newton is our starting quarterback and franchise quarterback,” Hurney told reporters, via the Panthers’ official website. “This is just about bringing in young guys to develop and depth.”

 

With Newton entrenched atop the depth chart, Grier will compete against backup quarterbacks Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen for a spot on the roster.

 

AFC WEST

 

KANSAS CITY

WR TYREEK HILL has an attorney and the attorney has found/created texts (with perfect grammar) that throw Hill’s girlfriend under the bus.  ESPN.com:

 

The attorney for Tyreek Hill issued a detailed denial of child abuse allegations made against the Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver in a recording that was released last week, while also accusing Hill’s fiancée of abusing their 3-year-old son.

 

In a four-page letter sent to the NFL on Thursday, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN, attorney N. Trey Pettlon went through the key accusations made by Hill’s fiancée, Crystal Espinal, in a recording she secretly made, which was broadcast April 25 by KCTV in Kansas City.

 

In the recording, Espinal says, “He kept saying, ‘Daddy punches me,’ which you do when he starts crying. What do you do? You make him open up his arms, and you punch him in the chest.” Pettlon addresses that accusation, writing there have been times when Hill has tapped his son on the chest and told him to “man up, buddy” or “don’t cry, my man” while denying grabbing his son’s arms as part of physical discipline.

 

“He [Hill] categorically denies he has ever ‘punched’ his son in the chest or anywhere on his body, or otherwise touched him in the chest in a mean-spirited manner or as a form of discipline,” Pettlon wrote.

 

Pettlon denied Hill played any role in breaking their son’s arm. The attorney notes the boy was examined at the hospital and the injury was considered an accident.

 

Hill also denies Espinal’s assertion that their son is “terrified” of him, with Pettlon adding that this was a claim he was hearing from Espinal for the first time. Pettlon addressed Hill’s response from the audio, in which the wide receiver tells Espinal, “You need to be terrified of me, too, b—-,” and wrote that Hill’s comment was “inexcusable.”

 

The letter confirms the recording is of Hill and Espinal. Following the release of the audio, Hill was barred indefinitely from all team activities by the Chiefs.

 

Pettlon also cites text messages between Hill and Espinal, claiming Espinal admitted to leaving marks on their son while spanking him.

 

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said Saturday that the team is conducting an internal investigation into the matter, and Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe, who declined to press charges a day before the audiotape surfaced, has reopened the case.

 

The team and the Johnson County District Attorney’s office declined comment on Pettlon’s letter Thursday when reached by ESPN.

 

Hill is willing to meet with NFL investigators, Pettlon said, and will cooperate with the investigation “to the extent that he can under the law.”

 

Thoughts from Mike Florio:

 

Attorney N. Trey Pettlon has sent a four-page, single-spaced letter to the NFL, which was then obtained by (leaked to) ESPN.com. (Pettlon is the likely leaker. After all, no lawyer has ever written a four-page, single-spaced letter of which the lawyer wasn’t proud.)

 

In the letter to NFL special counsel for investigations Lisa Friel, Pettlon denies on Hill’s behalf any and all allegations of abusing his three-year-old son. Somewhat surprisingly, Pettlon implicates Espinal, accusing her of using a belt on their child and quoting test messages to Hill in which Espinal says, “I hurt [our son]. I’m the one that did it.”

 

Pettlon confirms that Hill’s voice appears on the disturbing audio that surfaced last week; predictably, Pettlon constantly refers to the audio as a “secret recording,” a device aimed at making Espinal look bad for creating it.

 

Secret or not, nothing changes the fact that, while arguing whether the child is terrified of Hill or respects him, Hill said to Espinal, “You need to be terrified of me too, bitch.” Pettlon admit that the “comment is inexcusable,” and that Hill “wouldn’t ask me to defend that here.”

 

Two paragraphs later, Pettlon tries to excuse and defend the comment, saying “it seems clear from the audio that Ms. Espinal is not in fact terrified of Tyreek.”

 

Pettlon shouldn’t be faulted for any of this. Anyone accused of wrongdoing is entitled to a defense, and Pettlon is providing that service to Hill, for a fee.

 

But that doesn’t mean the letter should be regarded as entirely accurate and truthful. The challenge for Pettlon is to take an ugly set of facts and spin them as positively as possible. In one specific respect, he tries a little too hard.

 

In the second paragraph of the letter, Pettlon confirms that the child suffered a broken arm, and Pettlon claims that the “investigation was closed with nothing about the injury to suggest it was anything but an accident.” Later in the letter, Pettlon claims that the district attorney “reviewed all the evidence . . . before he declined to prosecute either party in this case.” These contentions ignore the fact that the district attorney public declared that he believes a crime was committed against the child, and that the decision not to prosecute resulted only from an inability to prove conclusively who committed the crime.

 

No matter what Pettlon now says, the district attorney would have charged Hill and/or Espinal but for an inability to prove that one or the other committed the crime. The audio potentially changes that analysis, or at least possibly emboldens the district attorney to charge both of them and let the jury sort it all out.

 

There’s a separate problem for Hill. Pettlon wrote to Friel not to exonerate Hill in a court of law but in an effort to minimize Hill’s potential punishment under the Personal Conduct Policy. The final decision will be based in large part on whether the Commissioner finds Hill to be a credible witness, whether Espinal will cooperate with the investigation, and whether she will implicate or exculpate Hill.

 

The fact that Hill’s lawyer seems to blame Espinal for criminal conduct could embolden Espinal to blame the broken arm and other instances of potential abuse on Hill. Under the reduced standard of proof that applies to NFL disciplinary cases, it wouldn’t take much to trigger a ruling that Hill violated one or more provisions of the Personal Conduct Policy. And, as a practical matter, Hill’s admitted history of choking and beating Espinal while she was pregnant with the child will not cause the league office to view the evidence in the light most favorable to Hill.

 

Here is the key text message:

 

Text message exchange between Tyreek Hill and Crystal Espinal after the Dubai recording, as included in the letter to the NFL:

 

“Crystal you know I didn’t cause any bruising or harm to [our son.] But for some reason I still may be charged,” Hill texted to Espinal.

 

In response, she texted back by saying, “I know you didn’t. I did. I hurt [our son.] I’m the one that did it. I was hurt and mad at you so I blamed you for everything.”

 

– – –

LB DERRICK JOHNSON has called it a fine, perhaps Hall of Fame, career.  Herbie Teope of NFL.com:

 

Another Kansas City Chiefs legend not with a team will end his career as a member of the team.

 

Middle linebacker Derrick Johnson is signing a one-day contract next week with the Chiefs and will retire, ESPN’s Adam Teicher reported.

 

Johnson’s decision comes one day after his former teammate, running back Jamaal Charles, signed a one-day contract and retired.

 

The 36-year-old Johnson entered the league in 2005 as a first-round pick (15th overall) with the Chiefs, and went on to enjoy a productive career in Kansas City as the heart and soul of the defense before his release in March 2018.

 

Johnson then joined the Oakland Raiders, but played in just six games before the Raiders cut him loose.

 

He finishes his career as the Chiefs’ all-time leader in tacklers (1,151), while adding 14 interceptions, 27.5 sacks and 40 quarterback hits. Johnson was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2010 and a four-time Pro Bowler (2011-13, 2015).

 

AFC SOUTH

 

HOUSTON

QB DESHAUN WATSON approves of recent Texans moves (even if some of the “experts” have their doubts).  This from Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

After a season in which the Texans frequently failed to protect quarterback Deshaun Watson, they tried to rectify the situation in the draft.

 

Houston drafted Alabama State left tackle Tytus Howard in the first round and Northern Illinois right tackle Max Scharping in the second round, and Watson is pleased about that.

 

“We just find ways to get better,” Watson said, via the Houston Chronicle. “The front office knows exactly what they want, what they want to do with the organization and what we need to do to try to take that next step. I knew exactly what they were going to do in the draft, and what they want to do in the future. We drafted two young guys who can come in and compete and love football and want to come in and learn. They’re going to have an opportunity to come in and learn from the veteran guys and continue to try to make us better.”

 

As Watson continues to develop as a quarterback, he’s also going to have to take more responsibility for recognizing the pass rush and getting rid of the ball quickly. And Texans coach Bill O’Brien could probably address the problems the Texans had with pass protection last season with his game plans and play calling. But two young offensive tackles should be an important part of putting Watson in a better position to succeed.

 

AFC EAST

 

NEW ENGLAND

QB TOM BRADY is quick to admit he does not feel pressure to maximize his earnings.

 

Six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady took time out of his busy offseason of riding horses in Costa Rica, getting over the loss of Rob Gronkowski and launching a Twitter account to visit “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Thursday night.

 

After sitting through a minute-long standing ovation from a Los Angeles-area but Patriots-friendly crowd, Brady answered myriad questions ranging on topics from his longevity and competitiveness to his relatively low salary.

 

On the latter subject, Brady explained to Kimmel why, in the age of record-breaking QB contracts, he remains the 18th highest-paid QB in AAV ($15 million).

 

“That’s a good question. That’s usually, when I don’t want to answer a question, I always say, ‘That’s a good question,'” Brady said when asked why he isn’t the highest-paid player in football. “I think the thing I’ve always felt for me in my life, winning has been a priority. And my wife [model Gisele Bundchen] makes a lot of money.

 

“I’m a little smarter than you think. Actually, it’s a salary cap. You can only spend so much and the more that one guy gets is less for others. And for a competitive advantage standpoint, I like to get a lot of good players around me.”

 

Brady is entering the final season of a two-year restructured contract signed in 2018 and carries a team-high $27 million cap hit in 2019.

 

The Pats QB also spoke about his offseason workout plan, which does not involve showing up to New England’s voluntary programs, which began last week, but does apparently involve throwing to off-the-street receivers at UCLA.

 

“I feel like I always want to be ready to go,” Brady said. “I can actually go enjoy myself if I’m in game shape. It wouldn’t take me too long to get ready. But to have the ability to do that in the offseason and keep things sharp is still important to me.

 

“I think definitely [I’m trying] to improve. I feel like after all these years, there’s a certain feeling you get when you throw the perfect pass. I’m sure that’s like that in other careers, but when you’re really on, you’re nailing it, you want to repeat it.”

 

Brady has said many times over the last few years that he wants to play until he’s 45. The Patriots quarterback added that he’s not tired of playing the position.

 

“Not to this point,” Brady explained. “To be at the top of give your team a chance to win every season, you have to put a lot into it. I try to bring my best everyday. i try to be the best teammate, leader and also physically to stay prepared. No one wants someone that’s taking up space.

 

“I’ve played a long time. Six [Super Bowls], I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams having acheived that. As a competitor, you get to line up and get to go after it again.

 

“Damnit, I want to win! What’s wrong with winning?!”

 

In addition to sitting down in the host’s studio, Brady, Kimmel and Patriots favorite Guillermo went out into Los Angeles to exhibit the quarterback’s accuracy.

 

As a gag, the future Hall of Famer threw a football through a window of what might be the home of actor Matt Damon’s home. You can watch here.

 

As an aside, here is how NFL.com described Matt Damon.

 

Massachusetts native and “Stuck on You” and “We Bought a Zoo” star Matt Damon’s home.

 

Is the DB nuts?  When we think of Matt Damon, we think of the Bourne movies, “Good Will Hunting” and “Saving Private Ryan.”  Or, with some prompting, you could go with “The Martian” or “The Departed” or the Ocean’s movies.

 

Here is someone’s list of his top 15 movies, that based on the ones the DB is familiar with, seems to be a good list:

 

15. ROUNDERS (1998)

Damon plays a law student who gets involved in the world of underground poker tournaments. While the film met with mixed results Damon gives a strong performance as his character finds himself torn between a career in law and the love of his girlfriend.

 

14. THE BROTHERS GRIMM (2005)

While Heath Ledger gave the more transformative performance as the shy and awkward younger of the two Grimm brothers, Damon holds his own as the more self-assured and confident of the two. The complicated relationship of the two brothers who would go on to create the famed Grimm’s Fairy Tales is nicely detailed and Damon manages to show a wounded side of his character in regards to his sister’s death.

 

13. OCEAN’S TRILOGY (2001, 2004, 2007)

Damon played the pick pocket Linus Caldwell in this highly successful series of films which he made with his friends George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. These films don’t really challenge Damon’s range to much but he clearly seems to be enjoying himself as do most of the all-star casts of the three films.

 

12. THE RAINMAKER (1997)

A few weeks before “Good Will Hunting” opened, Damon had the lead role in this adaptation of a John Grisham novel. Damon is earnest and likable as a young lawyer who stumbles into a ground breaking legal case.

 

11. SCHOOL TIES (1992)

Damon’s first major role was in this story of anti-Semitism at an elite private school in the 1950s. Damon who has made a career of usually playing likeable characters is cast against type here as the villain of the film. He is smarmy and bratty as the student who outs the lead character as being Jewish.

 

10. THE BOURNE SERIES (2002, 2004, 2007, 2016)

Damon latched on to a highly successful franchise when he took on the character of former CIA agent Jason Bourne. The films vary in quality but Damon brings an intelligence and relatability to a character that could have come across as a standard action hero in lesser hands.

 

9. TRUE GRIT (2010)

The Coen brothers took on a big challenge when they chose to remake the classic John Wayne western that won him the Best Actor Oscar in 1969. Jeff Bridges took the Wayne role and also received Oscar recognition with a Best Actor nomination. Damon took on the role played by singer Glen Campbell in the original film.

 

8. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998)

It could be argued that “Saving Private Ryan” is the greatest film Matt Damon has ever been in but this list is ranking the best Damon performances so it ends up a little lower than people may have expected. Damon appears later in the Steven Spielberg film as the title character of the film, a soldier whose three brothers were killed in action on Omaha Beach during the World War II battle known as D-Day.

 

7. COURAGE UNDER FIRE (1996)

This is one of Damon’s best early roles but surprisingly it is a film that almost drove him out of the acting profession. Damon plays a gulf war veteran who is so traumatized by his experiences that he develops a heroin addiction upon his return home. Damon lost 40 pounds to play the scenes of addiction in the film.

 

6. SYRIANA (2005)

Even though walked away with a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, Damon also shines in the film as an ambitious energy analyst who befriends an Arab Prince and oil tycoon. He is particularly riveting in the later scenes of the film and especially in a shocking moment when his character is involved in a car explosion.

 

5. THE DEPARTED (2006)

This film was the one that finally won Martin Scorsese a Best Director Oscar. It also took the Best Picture award that year and the film offers Damon one of his most challenging roles. He is paired with Leonardo DiCaprio as two young men both involved in various ways in both organized crime and law enforcement.

 

4. INVICTUS (2009)

Damon received his second acting Oscar nomination (as Best Supporting Actor) for this true story of how a soccer team victory in South Africa helped heal the racial wounds that country suffered through under apartheid.

 

3. THE MARTIAN (2015)

Damon won a Golden Globe as Best Comedy Actor for this story of an astronaut stranded on Mars and unable to communicate with anyone to show he is still alive. He does great work in scenes that don’t have any other actors in them and require his star quality alone to sustain audience interest. Damon received his third Oscar acting nomination for this film.

 

2. GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997)

Damon and Affleck inspired generations of aspiring actors to write their own material when they won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. He also received a Best Actor nomination for his role as a janitor who turns out to be a math genius. Blocked from pursuing his natural talents due to childhood abuse Damon’s character is helped by a psychologist played by Robin Williams (Oscar for Best Supporting Actor).

 

1. THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY (1999)

Damon was robbed of an Oscar nomination for “The Talented Mr. Ripley” easily the most complex role the actor has ever taken on. He is just riveting in this story of an aimless young man with identity issues who is employed by a wealthy tycoon to go to Italy and find the tycoon’s wayward son Dickie (Jude Law). Damon’s character of Ripley is a compulsive liar who both falls in love with and also wants to become the ultra-smooth Dickie.

 

Here is a list of the top grossing movies:

 

1          The Martian                           $228,433,663   

2          The Bourne Ultimatum         $227,471,070   

3          Saving Private Ryan             $216,540,909   

–           Interstellar                             $188,020,017               

4          Ocean’s Eleven                     $183,417,150  

5          The Bourne Supremacy        $176,241,941  

6          True Grit                                 $171,243,005 

7          Jason Bourne                         $162,434,410  

8          Good Will Hunting                   $138,433,435 

9          The Departed                          $132,384,315             

10        Ocean’s Twelve                      $125,544,280 

11        The Bourne Identity                $121,661,683 

12        Ocean’s Thirteen                    $117,154,724 

13        Elysium                                      $93,050,117

14        The Talented Mr. Ripley            $81,298,265

15        The Monuments Men               $78,031,620 

 

Nowhere on either list do “Stuck On You” and “We Bought A Zoo” appear.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

BROADCAST NEWS

FOX and the NFL are changing the commercial format for Super Bowl 54.  Shalise Manza Young of YahooSports.com:

 

The NFL and Fox will make an effort to improve the Super Bowl viewing experience – but not, of course, at the expense of profits.

 

Via John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, Super Bowl LIV will have fewer commercials breaks than in previous years, though not fewer commercials.

 

For the first time in decades, the NFL and Fox, which will broadcast Super Bowl LIV next February, will air four commercial break per quarter, down from five.

 

Each break will be 30 seconds longer, however, and the league and the network say viewers will barely notice the added time.

 

Ourand writes that the league approached Fox with the idea, and had research showing that viewers felt game pace was better with fewer breaks.

 

Players will likely agree.

 

“For several years now, we have been working with our broadcast partners to make changes to our game broadcasts that are intended to improve the viewing experience,” NFL vice president of broadcasting Cathy Yancy said. “We’ve seen positive results from these efforts.”

 

Over the last two years, other NFL playoff games on all networks have had four ad breaks per quarter.

 

Fox will be able to have one “floating” break, which can be used for unscheduled stoppages, like for an injury.

 

Fox executives don’t believe the change will impact ad sales.

 

Companies spend months crafting just the right commercial to air during the Super Bowl, and pay handsomely to do so: Fox will charge between $5.5 million-$6 million per 30-second spot. That’s roughly what CBS commanded for Super Bowl LIII.

 

 

 

 

2019 DRAFT

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:

 

Arizona Cardinals

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.”

– – –

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.”

 

Atlanta Falcons

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.”

– – –

“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.”

 

Baltimore Ravens

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.”

 

Buffalo Bills

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.”

 

Carolina Panthers

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.

– – –

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.”

– – –

“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.”

 

Chicago Bears

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.”

 

Cincinnati Bengals

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.

 

Cleveland Browns

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.”

– – –

“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.”

 

Dallas Cowboys

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.

 

Denver Broncos

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.”

– – –

“I thought Drew Lock was their best value pick,” an exec said. “Lock has an arm and he can throw from every angle.”

 

Detroit Lions

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.”

 

Houston Texans

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.”

 

Indianapolis Colts

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.

 

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

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.

– – –

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.

 

Miami Dolphins

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.”

 

Minnesota Vikings

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.”

– – –

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?

– – –

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.”

 

Oakland Raiders

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.”

 

Philadelphia Eagles

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?”

– – –

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.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

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 Seahawks

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.

– – –

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.

 

Tennessee Titans

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.”

 

Washington Redskins

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.