AROUND THE NFL
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com on the “attendance” of the draft:
The NFL’s TV ratings possibly were down by two percent for the first night of the draft in Nashville possible because all those extra people were actually at the draft in Nashville.
Via the Tennessean, the NFL initially estimated that 500,000 fans attended the event from Thursday through Saturday, before adjusting the estimate to 600,000.
With no turnstiles or other means for getting an official head count, the math can get fuzzy — and the numbers can conveniently get inflated, since the bigger the event seems, the better the deal the NFL can get from the cities that will be hosting it in the future.
Indeed, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp estimated crowds of 200,000 for Thursday and 200,000 for Friday, per the Tennessean. The third day, as usual, ended up being more sparse (as the photo accompanying this article suggests). Then again, the third day seems to last forever, so maybe 200,000 were there at different stages of a very long afternoon/early evening.
Whatever the official number, and whether it was or wasn’t influenced by the introduction of “alternative facts,” the draft is a big deal. Even though the ultimate reality show’s ultimate reality show is ultimately a show about nothing, since in light of today’s technology the whole thing could be done via group text message.
Now, obviously, many of those “attending” the Draft were paying little attention to the actual proceedings as most of Broadway is a bunch of bars that would have had plenty of folks in “attendance” if nothing special was going on. And, from presidential inaugurations and other Washington events, we know that estimating the size of crowds standing in the middle of a space is often in the eye of the prejudices of the beholder.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Giants GM Dave Gettleman proclaims there were two teams that were ready to pounce on QB DANIEL JONES prior to New York’s second pick in the draft, the 17th overall selection. Mark Sanchez of the New York Post:
Dave Gettleman is convinced he has company in his firm belief in Daniel Jones.
The Giants general manager, who has been ridiculed for using the No. 6 overall pick on the Duke quarterback, said Saturday, upon the draft’s conclusion, that he knows “for a fact” two teams would not have allowed Jones to fall to the Giants’ No. 17 overall pick.
Those two teams, according to SNY: the Redskins and Broncos.
Both clearly were in the market for a quarterback, though Washington owner Daniel Snyder reportedly was infatuated with Dwayne Haskins, whom the Redskins picked at 15. Denver waited until the second round to make Drew Lock its potential quarterback of the future.
“I know for a fact there were two teams that would’ve taken him before 17,” said Gettleman, who passed on Josh Allen for Jones, as the Giants continue to lack quality pass-rushers. “I know that for a fact. … It wasn’t easy for me to pass up Josh Allen. For me, my background, that was very, very difficult. But I think that much of Daniel Jones.”
After the fact, the Broncos are claiming they just messed with Gettleman’s mind. Broncos insider Mike Klis of 9News:
It was NOT the Broncos. They were not taking any QB at 10. And Drew Lock was their No 1 QB on board, not Jones. There was some talk of trading back into late first round for Lock. But no QB at 10. Sorry Mr. Gettleman, Broncos can’t bail ya out on this one. #9sports
Peter King sits down with Gettleman:
Odd travel weekend, and I was writing outside on a lovely early Sunday morning in Phoenix, at a table in the back of my hotel. Middle-aged guy approaches, introduces himself. “Giants fan,” the guy said. “Talk me off the ledge. Does Gettleman know what he’s doing?”
“I’ll give you one,” Gettleman himself said over the phone an hour later. “I was at my bagel shop this morning. Guy said to me, ‘Dave, great pick.’ “
Just a feeling: The guy at the bagel shop is not in the majority among Giants’ fans.
My big question to Gettleman in the wake of the weekend centered around taking Duke quarterback Daniel Jones at six. (Isn’t that the question on every Giants fan’s brain right now?) Actually, I had a couple of questions. That was the first, and then, why was Gettleman trying to trade with Denver at 10—which John Elway told me in Denver after the first round.
Why, I asked, did Gettleman not do what the chalk said there—get the desperately needed pass-rusher, Josh Allen, at six, and then take the calculated risk of letting Jones slide, and getting him either with the second first-round pick (17th) or in a slight trade-up from 17?
“I agonized over that,” Gettleman said from his office in New Jersey. “I agonized. Before the draft, we discussed that thoroughly as a group—first last Friday, then again Wednesday. Obviously we had great regard for Josh Allen. But the one thing I have learned is you don’t fool around with a quarterback. If he’s your guy, you take him. If you put 32 general managers in a room and gave ‘em sodium pentathol [truth serum], every single one of them would tell you a story of how they got cute in a draft and it cost them a player they wanted. So you don’t get cute there. You don’t get cute with a quarterback.”
Gettleman told me he “knows for a fact” there were two teams that wanted Jones between six and 17. I could not find them, though I certainly can’t say with certainty that two do not exist. Either way, Gettleman believed it was not a risk worth taking. And so instead of having some percentage of a chance to get Allen at six and Jones at 17 (or earlier in a trade-up), the Giants got Jones at six and run-stuffing defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence at 17. Finding a run-stuffer, obviously, is easier than finding a pass-rusher. So we’ll see how it works out.
But let’s go through the exercise and see about the two teams and Jones, starting with Jacksonville at seven. No; just signed Nick Foles. Detroit; highly unlikely with Matthew Stafford in-house. Buffalo; no, Josh Allen (the Wyoming QB) just drafted last year. Denver at 10: I was there, and Broncos had Drew Lock number one on their QB board. Bengals at 11; doubtful but don’t know for sure. Green Bay at 12; highly unlikely. Miami at 13; unknown. Atlanta at 14; no way. Washington at 15 seemed locked in on Dwayne Haskins. Carolina at 16; highly unlikely. So Miami, maybe. I can’t find another one that appears likely to have had Jones in the crosshairs, though that doesn’t mean it was not so.
The bile aimed at Gettleman was, even by New York standards, extreme.
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Gettleman brings some of this on himself when he says things like he fell in “full-blown love” with Jones after watching him play three series at the Senior Bowl … as though that’s all he had to see to mortgage the Giants’ franchise on Jones. Clearly he studied the quarterbacks at length and decided Jones had the arm strength and mental makeup to be the best of the four atop this draft. “Being the quarterback of the New York Giants is a mental load,” he said. “If you can’t handle the mental aspect, you can’t make it. That’s one of the things we liked about Daniel.”
Part of Gettleman understands the visceral reaction to the pick. He told me if he couldn’t deal with the brickbats he’d go back to coaching high school football. (At a fairly significant salary reduction.)
But part of him is sad for what the business has become.
“The bottom line is, I have confidence in what I do and who I am,” he said. “I’ve been a part of organizations that had pretty good quarterbacks—Jim Kelly, John Elway, Kerry Collins, Eli Manning, Cam Newton. I’ve led a charmed life with the quarterbacks on the teams I’ve worked for. I know what good ones look like. The other thing is, résumés matter. Every once in a while, I wish the people taking the shots would take a minute to look at my résumé. I’ve been a part of teams that went to seven Super Bowls. I had a hand in some of them. But today, there’s no patience. And there’s no room for civil discourse in our society, which I find sad.”
I would have done it a different way, I think. I’d have taken Allen at six and found a way to trade back for Jones, if I was that worried about missing him at 17. To me, the risk to acquire a pass-rusher (an essential element the Giants do not now have) would have been worth it. But the point about Jones, and going all-in for a quarterback you like, is something every GM has to do at some point. I don’t believe Gettleman was dumb for picking Jones, because quarterback-prospecting is one of the most inexact things a GM has to do. Lawrence is a solid but likely overpicked defensive tackle. The third first-rounder, cornerback Deandre Baker, could well be a day one starter at a position the Giants had a big need.
Nothing anyone could tell Gettleman could dissuade him from thinking the Giants got a lot better over the weekend—even if the sixth pick doesn’t play for a year or two. Football requires patience to judge whether players turn out to be good, particularly at quarterback. But the Giants haven’t won a playoff game in seven years. Eli Manning’s a swell guy, but seven-year droughts are not often broken by 37-year-old quarterbacks. It’s time to turn the page. Fans want change now. With the Giants, it’s not happening that fast.
“In three years,” he said, “we’ll find out how crazy I am.”
Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com defends Gettleman’s calculation:
If Jones was Gettleman’s top-rated quarterback, taking him at No. 6 was probably smarter than sitting and waiting and hoping he would be there at No. 17. The Giants need a successor to Eli Manning and couldn’t risk missing out on their top choice. But few outside the Giants organization had Jones rated as highly.
Peter King says Jones is the next Eli with a chart:
Size 6-5, 218 6-5, 220
Hair, length Brown, short Brown, short
High school education Southern prep school Southern prep school
College education Southern university Southern university
College coach David Cutcliffe David Cutcliffe
QB mentor Peyton Manning Peyton Manning
Years as college starter 3 3
College starts 37 36
Draft round 1 1
Division 1 athlete siblings 2 3
Polite Very Very
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A Giants draft pick named DB COREY BALLANTINE cannot celebrate his selection as he is shot and a friend is killed. Paul Schwartz of the New York Post:
Saturday afternoon, Corey Ballentine was selected by the Giants in the sixth round of the NFL draft, quite an achievement for a player from a Division II school in Topeka, Kansas.
Early the next morning, Ballentine and a close friend and teammate on the Washburn University football team were involved in a shooting that resulted in the death of Dwane Simmons and a gunshot injury to Ballentine that is considered non-life threatening.
Ballentine is expected to make a full recovery.
According to WIBW in Topeka, officers responded Sunday around 12:45 a.m. to the 1400 block of 13th Street in Topeka on reports of gunfire. Reports indicate Simmons, 23, died in the street from a gunshot wound. Ballentine, 23, was taken to an area hospital.
“We are aware of the tragic situation and continue to gather information,” the Giants said in a statement issued by the team. “We have spoken to Corey, and he is recovering in the hospital. Our thoughts are with Dwane Simmons’ family, friends and teammates and the rest of the Washburn community.”
A 3 p.m. press conference at Washburn University, scheduled for Ballentine to discuss getting drafted by the Giants, was postponed.
Washburn University President Dr. Jerry Farley, in a statement to the campus community, said: “We come to you this morning with sad and difficult news. Early this morning two of our students were the victims of an off-campus shooting. Dwane Simmons, a junior and a member of the football team, was killed in the incident. In addition, Corey Ballentine, a senior, was injured. Ballentine is expected to make a full recovery.
“Any time we lose a student it is a sad occasion, but it is particularly poignant to lose a student through such a senseless act. Both Dwane and Corey have been great examples and representatives of the football team and of Washburn University in general. This was a terrible way to end a day which should have been a day of celebration and a day to look forward to Dwane’s upcoming year at Washburn and the beginning of Corey’s professional career.”
A cornerback, Ballentine was the 180th player taken in the draft.
“It was surreal,’’ he said Saturday after he received the call from the Giants. “I’m sure you have heard it a lot, but this is something I have always dreamed of. It took me back to the moment when I got recruited to college and I told my coaches this is something I wanted to do, I wanted to go to the NFL. We were all kind of giggling and here the moment is, I’m getting the call from the New York Giants. It’s just surreal because I didn’t know how I was going to do it, I know I wanted to do it, I just didn’t know how. Now that the moment is here, I’m trying to soak it in really.”
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, explaining why he picked a player from a small school, said: “Corey Ballentine, he’s 5-10, he’s 196 pounds, he runs 4.44, plays 4.44. He’s got ball skills, he’s played the nickel, he’s played outside. How do you pass him up?”
Details of the shooting are described as “murky”.
We learned that the nickname for Washburn University, which counts PGA TOUR golfer Gary Woodland among those who have also attended the school, is the Ichabods.
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com likes the Eagles’ improved offensive depth:
Eagles’ offensive depth: The potential trade of slot receiver Nelson Agholor never materialized. Instead of parting ways with a piece, the Eagles only added to their offensive arsenal with second-round picks Miles Sanders (No. 53 overall), a running back, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (No. 57 overall), a wideout. Sanders has a chance to end March trade acquisition Jordan Howard’s run as the Eagles’ starting running back before it even begins, while Arcega-Whiteside adds another possession threat for Carson Wentz to find in tight quarters.
The depth at running back, wide receiver and tight end (where Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert comprise the best duo in football) should give coach Doug Pederson a ton of play-calling options in the fall. Even the team’s first-round selection (tackle Andre Dillard, No. 22 overall) was typical of the long-term thinking the Eagles are known for because he likely will begin his career on the bench behind Jason Peters. This is a group built to withstand injuries and create matchup problems in nearly any situation.
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com notes where the Falcons focused their draft attention:
Falcons’ offensive line: It’s safe to say the Falcons believe their 2018 season was doomed by their offensive line, not just poor injury luck. After spending mid-tier money on a trio of free agents (Jamon Brown, Ty Sambrailo and James Carpenter), the Falcons doubled down with two first-round picks: guard Chris Lindstrom (No. 14 overall) and right tackle Kaleb McGary (No. 31 overall). The Falcons traded up for McGary, possibly believing that he was a favorite of the Patriots, who held the 32nd overall pick, in the first round.
All of this investment in one area puts pressure on new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to turn the unit around in a hurry, which is great news for Matt Ryan and running back Devonta Freeman. It’s as if GM Thomas Dimitroff is saying this is a Super Bowl roster, provided he can just get the line right.
A strange pick in Carolina. “This has nothing to do with Cam Newton,” GM Marty Hurney said after the Panthers used a third-round choice on West Virginia quarterback Will Grier. Nothing? I am not buying what Hurney’s selling. In the last two years, Newton has had rotator-cuff surgery (2017) and arthroscopic shoulder surgery (2019), both on his throwing shoulder. Cam turns 30 in two weeks. It’s okay to say, “We need some insurance at the most important position in sports.” Because that’s what this is.
The Buccaneers spent their time drafting defense. Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com:
Buccaneers’ defense: For as much grief as quarterback Jameis Winston has gotten during his time in Tampa, Mike Smith’s defense was a far bigger problem throughout the three-season Dirk Koetter era. GM Jason Licht’s first draft with coach Bruce Arians at the helm reflects that.
Tampa’s first five picks, spread over the first four rounds, were all on the defensive side of the ball. LSU’s Devin White (No. 5 overall) will join Lavonte David to comprise one of the fastest linebacker duos in the league. The Bucs loaded up in the secondary with two cornerbacks (Sean Bunting, No. 39 overall, and Jamel Dean, No. 94 overall) and a safety (Mike Edwards, No. 99 overall) in Rounds 2 and 3, then a defensive end (Anthony Nelson, No. 107 overall) in Round 4. This isn’t the first time Licht has gone heavy on defense, of course, and his previous efforts failed. But this is the clearest sign yet that Arians believes he has the talent to win big now on offense, provided the defense can hold up. Former Jets coach Todd Bowles, now the Bucs’ defensive coordinator, has a great chance to rebuild his coaching stock after being fired in New York, because this group already had talented players (David, Jason Pierre-Paul, Vita Vea and Gerald McCoy) before this draft.
As he headed out the door, QB JOSH ROSEN made a lot of friends in the Valley of the Sun (he may have even had them before KYLER MURRAY was drafted). Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:
Traded but not yet gone, former Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen had one more thing to do before packing up his stuff and moving to Florida.
He appeared at Larry Fitzgerald‘s Celebrity Softball Game on Saturday. According to the Arizona Republic, Rosen specifically stayed for that event.
“I think that’s just a testament to who he is as a man,” Fitzgerald said. “He could have very easily gone down to Miami already, or just said, ‘Hey, I’m not gonna do it,’ but it shows you his commitment, his character, and just friendship. I’m very fortunate to call him a friend. Looking forward to seeing him do great things in Miami.”
Per the Republic, Rosen received a standing ovation before winning the home run derby and ultimately being named MVP of the game. He also addressed the crowd.
“I just want to say thank you to everybody,” Rosen said. “We didn’t win as many games as I would have hoped, but I had a great time and an unbelievable year. Sad to see it up, but new chapters, new beginnings, and I’m excited for things to come. I’ll always be a Cardinal and root for you guys for as long as I’m on my feet.”
“I don’t think anybody could have handled it more professionally than he has,” Fitzgerald said. “I mean he’s been a consummate professional throughout this whole process. And, you know, I think he’s got a lot of people’s respect for the way he conducted himself. And I know all of us are rooting for him in his next stop.”
Plenty of other people will be rooting for Rosen, too. Despite the knocks he took prior to the 2018 draft for (God forbid) having opinions and being willing to share them, Rosen has handled himself admirably over the past few months. And, frankly, the Cardinals should have kept him.
What if Kyler Murray isn’t as good as he’s expected to be? What if he gets injured? The Cardinals will wish they’d kept Rosen and the three years, $6.2 million remaining on his contract.
It’s unclear why the Cardinals believed Murray and Rosen couldn’t coexist, for a year or maybe longer. Maybe the manner in which Rosen has handled himself shows that they could have.
Here is Peter King on the dynamic behind the selection of Murray with GM Steve Keim leaping to take credit/blame/responsibility:
Kliff Kingsbury has learned a few things in his four months on the job as an NFL head coach. This is one thing: “People just make sh— up,” Kingsbury said, calmly, in a conference room at the Cardinals training facility late Saturday.
I asked Kingsbury if he ever said at the combine that it was a “done deal” the Cards were drafting Kyler Murray first overall.
“No,” he said. “Never.”
I asked Kingsbury what he’d have said if GM Steve Keim had told him a month ago the best thing for the team was to keep Josh Rosen at quarterback and draft Nick Bosa.
“I’d have said, ‘Let’s go to work,’ “ Kingsbury said. “That’s why I signed on here. I knew I was coming here to try and improve the offense. We were last in everything. Try to help Josh become a better player, more comfortable in the system, continue to build him. That was my job. If that was what we were going to do, that’s what I signed up for in the first place.”
“Biggest misconception about your role in this?” I asked.
“That I rolled here and was just like, ‘We’re taking Kyler Murray,’“ Kingsbury said. “First off … I don’t have that type of juice coming in the door. That wasn’t how it went down at all.”
This was an hour or so after the draft. Kingsbury and the man who hired him, Keim, sat together to discuss one crazy era of Cardinals football—the drafting of Josh Rosen 10th overall a year ago, the hiring of a coach who’d been fired at Texas Tech to pilot the franchise, the marginalizing of Rosen, the drafting of Murray, the unloading of Rosen to Miami, the drafting of three receivers to turn the Cards’ offense into Kingsbury’s personal Madden game.
I turned to Keim, who has put his GM career on the line with this coaching hire and this draft choice, and asked: “Did you seriously weigh the alternative of keeping Rosen and saying, ‘Sorry, Kliff, I’m not giving you your guy?’ “
“Absolutely,” Keim said. “That’s my job. All spring, your mind races with the different scenarios. At the end of the day, you had to look and say again, ‘What is really going to catapult us into being different?’ I’ve always been a visual guy and I’ve always had success evaluating quarterbacks when I trusted my instincts and my gut. I’ve missed on the guys that looked the part, smelled the part, you tried to invent and because all the things were connecting the dots. You scouted them and said, ‘Okay, they’re going to be a player because they look like this. I’m not saying that’s Josh Rosen. I’m saying I had my real success, guys I’ve loved that have been great NFL players, based on instinct.
“When I closed my eyes and I visualized Kyler Murray running around State Farm Stadium in red and white, for whatever reason, all I saw was just fireworks, excitement, a must-see [environment] where fans have to go and show up and see this thing. Him being the architect was a phenomenal fit for me.”
Interesting way to evaluate: scouting through visualization. “I either visualize them or I just have bigger balls than my brains,” Keim said. “I’m not scared to make a mistake. That could cost me my career but at the same time, to be great and to have success you gotta be willing to take chances—ones that you believe in.”
Clearly, that’s what this time in Cards history is about. Arizona took a chance on Kingsbury, and is taking another one on Murray. This is a franchise adrift, with a GM with his job on the line, a head coach the league looks at dubiously, and now a 5-10 quarterback the new coach has pined for since the kid’s sophomore year in high school in Texas. (True story: Kingsbury, then Texas Tech coach, offered 5-foot-5 sophomore quarterback Kyler Murray a full scholarship as a sophomore at Allen High in 2012.]
Keim said he didn’t study Murray thoroughly till after he studied the free-agent prospects. So it wasn’t till mid-March, Keim said, that he dug in on Murray tape. Until then, he said, there’s no way the organization would have made the decision to draft Murray—because Keim contractually has final say on the draft. “I was reluctant to study him because I knew what we had in Josh Rosen,” Keim said. “As I watched the first game, I watched the second game, I couldn’t put down the controller. All I wanted to do was keep watching this kid on tape. I don’t know if I wrote down ‘wow’ 100 times, or 500 times, but my hand got tired of writing it. In the time I’ve been doing this, I haven’t seen a guy who could throw like him and run like him. I’ve seen guys who could do one of each, but I’ve never evaluated a guy who possesses the skill set to do both things at such a high level. I was also studying guys that I was falling in love with, like Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, really having to really weigh which player makes the biggest impact for us. It became crystal clear in the end it was Kyler Murray.”
Keim was adamant about Kingsbury expressing his opinion, then staying out of the way of the evaluation process. “The thing I respect the most about Kliff is he never once interrupted the process,” Keim said, with Kingsbury sitting across the conference table. “He never once came down and put his fist on the table and said, ‘I want Kyler Murray. I have to have him.’ I knew that he loved him as a player, but he allowed the process to take care of itself. To me, that was the only way we were going to get it right.”
So now, in the wake of drafting four players to help Kingsbury run his offense, let’s see where these Cardinals are. Kingsbury’s offense, a cousin of Mike Leach’s Air Raid scheme, will often run four wide receivers and one back; it’s important to have specific roles for the receivers, but in the case, say, of second-round receiver Andy Isabella from UMass, Kingsbury found a receiver who can be used in the slot, outside, and on Jet Sweep-type plays, because Isabella is experienced at all three roles. Kingsbury likely envisions an offense, at least at first, with Isabella and the ancient but still productive Larry Fitzgerald in either slot, with second-year wideout Christian Kirk and this year’s 103rd pick, 6-5 Hakeem Butler, outside on either side. And, of course, strong runner and receiver David Johnson should get 300 touches out of the backfield. There will be a consistent no-huddle element too, so some of these Arizona games will be survival-of-the-fittest track meets.
What’s different with Kingsbury’s system, his friends in coaching say, is how game-plan-specific his weekly plans will be. A sixth-round pick of the Patriots in 2003, Kingsbury spent that season (New England’s second Super Bowl season) on IR with an arm injury, but soaked in the Bill Belichick philosophy about varying the weekly game plan. With Belichick, every game plan is a snowflake; no two look alike. And though Kingsbury’s passing offense will be the wide-open, four-wideouts-on-the-field-regularly scheme, he’ll be sure to tailor it to that week’s opponent too.
Kingsbury told me the system for Murray will be “very similar” as his Oklahoma scheme under the progressive Lincoln Riley. “His ability to escape the pocket, escape those D-lineman when they can’t get off blocks—it’s just unique. And to still be able to drop back and survey the field and still be able to get the ball out on time, get through his progressions … When you spread people out he’s a weapon in a bunch of different ways. That’s tough on defenses because if you want to rush him upfield and he takes off, good luck catching him. And if you sit back, he can still pick you apart. The way we spread people out, the tempo in which we play, he’s the guy who can really thrive in system.
“We’re going to play the game at times wider than probably most people do in the league. We’re going to use the entire field and make them cover five wides and the quarterback and that’s tough on defenses.”
Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella, a second-round pick from UMass. (Getty Images)
I was really curious how Kingsbury, back in 2012, just having taken the Texas Tech head-coaching job, could have been so smitten with a tiny quarterback in Allen, Texas. “Well,” Kingsbury said, ”nobody could touch him, he could throw it from the pocket, the mechanics were great. He was the quickest player on the field. I just always believed that he could be great. I’d never seen anything like it on the field, a combination of that type of quickness and explosiveness and a true drop-back passer. So we developed a relationship through the years. He always knew that I believed in him and saw great things coming. It’s been a wild ride and crazy to see how it’s all turned out. I think everybody just assumed since he was undersized he couldn’t play at the next level.”
So here is Murray, at the next level, and at the next level after that. The highest level. The NFL.
This is going to be a great test tube football season in Arizona. In the NFL this year, no coach/QB combo platter will be under more scrutiny. A coach with a losing college record, and the first sub-6-foot quarterback to be drafted in the first round. And going number one overall! Kingsbury and Murray will be must-see TV, and must-see Keim visualization.
“I think both of us are competitive and have a chip on our shoulder,” Kingsbury told me. “What’s been said out there … “ His voice trailed off. He knows. “Now it’s time to go. We’ve heard all the talk and the talking’s done now. It’s about what we do from this point forward. When he came in here [Friday], we both kind of had that conversation and that mindset. That was more what our meeting was about.”
“Any celebrating that you finally got your guy after all these years of chasing him?” I asked.
“Not yet, no,” Kingsbury said. “There won’t be any celebrating till we win some games.”
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, who we don’t think of as a Negative Nelly, isn’t thrilled with the selection of Murray.
On the biggest night of his life, so far, Kyler Murray wore a pink three-piece suit as a hat tip to his favorite movie, “The Great Gatsby,” and bright white, designer sneakers as a nod to his favorite shoe company and sponsor, Nike.
The outfit became complete in Murray’s eyes when he donned a Cardinals hat after the team selected the former Oklahoma quarterback with the first overall pick Thursday night.
Arizona is where he wanted to go, so to Murray the evening was perfect.
For the Cardinals it was anything but. They will say different, of course, but drafting Murray is a move fraught with risk, and a mistake.
The Cardinals already have a young, talented quarterback, Josh Rosen, who was the 10th overall a year ago. They gave up two draft picks in a trade to get him.
A year later, they have more needs than Nashville has boots, and the only way Murray helps them is if he is a transcendent player.
I’m not convinced he will be. The Cardinals would have been better off sticking with Rosen and drafting Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa or Alabama tackle Quinnen Williams.
Cardinals team president Michael Bidwill, general manager Steve Keim and coach Kliff Kingsbury think differently.
Drafting Murray creates more questions for a franchise full of them.
Will they keep both young quarterbacks? Trade Rosen?
If they were going trade Rosen, it would have been better to do it before the draft than after. But maybe the Cardinals didn’t get a suitable offer and are hoping one arrives before the start of the 2019 season.
Parting with Rosen comes at a cost. A year ago, the Cardinals added three quarterbacks: Sam Bradford, Mike Glennon and Rosen. Bradford and Glennon are gone now but occupy $8 million of cap space. If the Cardinals trade Rosen, that number escalates to $16 million for three quarterbacks who aren’t on the roster.
Or, maybe the Cardinals are prepared to start the upcoming season in an uncomfortable situation: with two young, talented quarterbacks taken only a year apart.
It’s the most affordable option. But that’s like a divorced couple staying under the same roof: it only makes sense from a financial standpoint.
It doesn’t sound as if Murray knows exactly what the Cardinals plan is.
“All I can do is go in, work hard and try to make the team better each and every day,” he said.
Rosen, who worked hard and tried to make the team better by attending all voluntary work this spring, including a minicamp practice on Thursday, can’t be pleased.
But that’s the nature of the NFL, where the philosophy is to love the one you’re with until something better comes along.
Rosen is working under a contract that guarantees him $17 million, and he’ll likely move on to a better situation.
Draft experts have long predicted Murray would be the first overall pick, and he underwent the expected scrutiny in recent weeks. There were questions about his commitment to football, how much control his father would have in his career and how Murray, who is on the quieter side, would handle media attention.
Thursday night, he did it with a smile. In a press conference after his selection, Murray mentioned that a Cardinals fan in the crowd waved at him to get his attention, then told him the Cardinals didn’t want him; they wanted Bosa.
“It was kind of funny,” Murray said.
The fan has a point. The Cardinals already have a quarterback and are in need of offensive linemen, receivers, tight ends, defensive linemen, cornerbacks, etc.
Murray, the Heisman Trophy winner last year, is immensely talented, and the first person to be taken in the first rounds of the NFL and Major League Baseball drafts.
But he is hardly a sure thing at the NFL level. He’s short (5-feet-10-inches) and started one complete season in college. It was only after that season that he committed to football over baseball, returning signing bonus money to the A’s.
Murray’s commitment to football could be tested by injuries and difficult seasons. Since entering high school, Murray’s teams have lost just three times when he’s started. The Cardinals lost that much in the first month last season, and it’s questionable if they will be any better this fall.
The Cardinals have been bold with their two biggest moves this off-season, but it’s questionable if they have been smart. Kingsbury was fired by Texas Tech after the season, has never coached in the NFL and couldn’t win in college with Patrick Mahomes as his quarterback.
Murray is short, and until January, regarded as more of a baseball prospect than a football one.
Supposedly, he and Kingsbury put the Cardinals among the cool, trendy teams leading the NFL into a different era.
I’m dubious. Like “The Great Gatsby,” I don’t see this ending well.
On the other hand, Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com likes what the Cardinals did in the draft in a list of most improved groups:
After breaking down all the winners and losers from Day 1 and Day 2, let’s wrap up the 2019 NFL Draft with a look at which groups across the league have improved the most.
Cardinals’ passing game: All of the focus on the Josh Rosen saga took some attention away from the fascinating overhaul of Arizona’s offense. Whether they succeed or not, Kliff Kingsbury’s crew should transform from the worst unit in football to one of the groups I’m most excited to watch in 2019.
There simply hasn’t been a prospect quite like No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray to come along before, especially one that will enter the league with a coach even more aggressive than he is. Kingsbury’s spread attack and Murray’s combination of arm strength and running ability should provide a great preview of where the NFL is going over the next decade.
Second-round pick Andy Isabella, taken with a choice (No. 62 overall) acquired from the Dolphins in exchange for Rosen, profiles as a Brandin Cooks-like addition to the offense. Monstrous fourth-rounder Hakeem Butler (No. 103 overall) was viewed as a top-20 player by some draft analysts because of his physicality and deep-ball potential. Adding these two receivers to a corps featuring Larry Fitzgerald and second-year pro Christian Kirk gives Murray and Kingsbury a chance to hit the ground running offensively in September, provided the line can hold up. (The presence of star runner David Johnson should make that easier.) If the bold makeover pans out, pairing Kingsbury and Murray together could prove to be a move that was ahead of its time.
This from Peter King:
Doug Baldwin might be done. The Seattle wideout and team conscience has had three off-season surgeries, is 30, and GM John Schneider acknowledged Baldwin could retire. “Whatever happens, Doug will go down as one of the great players in the history of this program,” coach Pete Carroll said. Undrafted out of Stanford, the slight Baldwin used guile and extreme competitiveness to catch 551 balls and score 55 touchdowns in eight seasons. He will be missed, in so many ways, if he’s gone.
Peter King feels certain on what Denver was up to:
Things you should know about the Denver Broncos:
If they didn’t trade the 10th overall pick to Pittsburgh on Thursday, they were taking Devin Bush (the player Pittsburgh traded up to grab) at 10, not Noah Fant (the tight end the Broncos drafted after trading down).
When round one ended, GM John Elway had no intention of getting all aggressive to go get Drew Lock, because Denver is smitten with 34-year-old ex-Raven Joe Flacco. I knew, because I asked Elway 45 minutes after the round. “Our comfort with Joe enabled us to pass on a quarterback,” Elway told me. “What made that decision is, Joe is fitting really well with what we want to do offensively, and he looked great in our minicamp last week. He really put on a throwing exhibition last week in camp. I truly think we’ve got a guy coming into his prime.”
Denver had the Giants and Falcons on the phone during the trade with Pittsburgh. The Giants made a competitive offer, Elway said, but not as good at Pittsburgh’s … and the Steelers, by the way, stonewalled Elway when Denver pushed for a first-rounder in 2020.
If you saw my mock draft, you may recall I had Denver trading back into the first round at 31 with the Rams, so the Broncos could take a plummeting Lock near the end of the round. The Lock drop surprised me, and surprised a lot of people around the league. But you’ve got to be logical about quarterbacks in the draft. It’s easy to say Drew Lock is a first-round pick, and in many years he’d have been a top-half-of-the-first-round pick. But there’s got to be a team that wants him enough to use a first-round pick on him too. As I left Denver near midnight, prepared to flying to Oakland at dawn Friday, I eliminated Lock for Denver—though I knew he was the number one quarterback on the board here. The Broncos were married to Flacco, and if he flunked out, they’d try to find a path to the top of QB-rich first round next April.
Driving back to my hotel, I got this vibe over the phone from a plugged-in league GM: Don’t assume they’ve abandoned Lock. Flacco is what he is.
Of course, late that night, Elway and his right-hand personnel man, Matt Russell, studied the board some more. When they got in the next morning, they thought seriously about getting the best two guys remaining on their board: tackle Dalton Risner of Kansas State and Lock. Risner was their pick at 41. Elway worked on the Bengals, at 42, and finally worked a deal to move from 51 to 42 in exchange for fourth and sixth-round picks.
Elway really didn’t want to deal those picks. He really didn’t want to draft a quarterback here, because he wanted to show faith in Flacco. But Elway’s a quarterback. He knows if you don’t have your long-term guy, you’re perpetually searching for him. Lock was his number one quarterback in this draft. If he could get Lock with the 42nd pick, he had to do it. He just had to.
Being in Denver, and then being sure Elway was done at quarterback for 2019, and then being a time zone away and seeing this Hall of Fame quarterback go after a quarterback the next day … it brought the biggest draft lesson crashing home: This is an emotional game, and the draft is an emotional business. Who can blame the great Elway for trying to find the next Elway with the 42nd pick in the draft?
Peter King on WR TYREEK HILL:
Tyreek Hill has to go. Audio surfaced in Kansas City on Thursday, in connection with injuries suffered by Hill’s 3-year-old son, with the son saying, “Daddy did it.” Further, when the boy’s mom told Hill the son was terrified of him, Hill said to her, “You need to be terrified of me too, bitch.” The Chiefs barred their all-pro wide receiver, Hill, from team activities after hearing the tape, and now must take the next step: cutting Hill, who already was walking a thin line after punching the woman in question in the stomach when she was pregnant. The second-round choice of Georgia sprinter Mecole Hardman (4.33 speed) telegraphed the end for Hill in Kansas City.
Peter King with some good stuff on the Jon Gruden/Mike Mayock relationship:
The headlines on the Raiders in the last week or so are all Mayock-related. Scouts banned from the building. Mayockian … Clelin Ferrell over-draft at number four overall. Mayockian … Patience (I’ll explain). Mayockian … Makeup as important as talent, a scouting trait from the Belichick tree. Mayockian.
Now it’s Friday morning, the day after the Ferrell-Josh Jacobs-Johnathan Abram makeover, and I’m in the same chair in Mayock’s office that Gruden was in 24 hours earlier when just the two of them hatched the exact plan for their three-choice first round:
• At number four, try to trade down for value, but whether at four or as low as they’d like to risk going, 13 to Miami, be sure to procure Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell.
• At number 24, trust the board and the draft research. Know that Josh Jacobs was very likely to be there, and resist temptation to use draft capital to trade up.
• At number 27, be patient again and let Abram, the hard-hitting Mississippi State safety, fall to us. If he doesn’t, there will be options we like.
The phone never rang at four. Mayock and Gruden wished it had, but they never got a call. So they stayed there and picked a solid guy who won’t be the edge-rusher Josh Allen or Brian Burns will be; Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will take his leadership and practice habits and edge-setting and hope he can be an eight to 12-sack guy. No guarantee though. Ferrell at 13, with an extra first-rounder from 2020, would have been the dream; Ferrell at four, with no extra compensation, was acceptable.
Mayock had a chance to go to 16, Carolina’s slot, and ensure getting Jacobs. Nope. He thought Jacobs would last, and he didn’t want to sacrifice a good pick. A few minutes later, Mayock went to the draft board in the draft room on the second floor of the Raiders’ facility. He wrote down seven names in red marker. He said they’d have at least two left by the time they got to pick 24.
There were not two left then. There were four. And the two Gruden and Mayock wanted above all were Jacobs and Abram.
New Raiders running back Josh Jacobs and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. (Getty Images)
Interesting thing happened when the emotion of drafting Jacobs died down. Now it was pick 25. Baltimore on the clock. Ravens GM Eric DeCosta surely would have dropped down two spots for a fifth-round pick, knowing it was highly likely he’d get the same guy at 27 he could get at 25. Mayock wondered if they should make the trade. Gruden pushed. Mayock said he thought Abram would be there at 27; let’s sit. Mayock ignored the ringing phone, saw Marquise Brown and Montez Sweat go at 25 and 26, and then Gruden the Golden Retriever was back.
“Can I call? When can I call?”
Funny story about Abram. At the Senior Bowl, Gruden and the Raiders were coaching the North Team. Abram was on the South, but he was not playing because of a shoulder bruise. Abram’s a football junkie and he hung around the North practice, watching Gruden and his staff coach.
“Who the hell are you?” Gruden said the first day.
“Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State.”
“Number 38! Mississippi State! I am your biggest fan!” Gruden said.
Abram was at Gruden’s practice every day the rest of the week, just watching.
On Friday night, Gruden said: “I wanted the safety. I wanted this safety. Physical, tough, smart, loves football. I didn’t want just a safety. I think it’s hard to teach tackling now. They don’t practice it. You gotta find some guys that are really eager and interested in making tackles. This guy’s a throwback Raider safety. He reminds me of Jack Tatum and George Atkinson and Charles Woodson and some of the guys we’ve had walk through here. The middle of our defense, we need to strengthen that. Man, was I happy to get him.”
When Ferrell, Jacobs and Abram came into the facility Friday afternoon, it was easy to see why Gruden and Mayock zeroed in on them. Ferrell got emotional talking about being a leader on a storied franchise. Jacobs said he wanted to play special teams, just so he could be on the field more. Abram sounded like a guy who’d taken an overnight class in Silver And Black 101.
“This place … what a rich history, what a culture, what an honor to be part of this franchise,” Abram said. “But the Silver and Black’s in need of a rebirth. Lotta great things can happen here. Antonio Brown’s here. We got a franchise quarterback. We got Vegas around the corner. It’s an amazing time in the history of this place. And we get to write the new history.”
Raiders safety Johnathan Abram, a second-round pick from Mississippi State. (Getty Images)
Now a day-two postscript. Raiders were due to pick third in the second round, 35th overall. When the day started, two of the Mayock’s seven red-markered players were still on the board. Great, Mayock and Gruden thought; we’ll probably get one of them at 35.
Both red guys were there at 35. Mayock gambled, trading from 35 to 38 with Jacksonville and netting a fourth-rounder.
Both red guys, still there at 38. Mayock gambled, trading from 38 to 40 with Buffalo, netting a fifth-rounder.
At 40, they were still there. No more gambling. Mayock drafted the third of the red-markered guys, Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen.
What I found interesting, sitting with Mayock for 45 minutes as he digested his first night, was how much this GM job seemed like his calling. He did football games on TV, he dissected the draft on TV, and no one knows if he’ll be great at this or just okay; it’ll take years to know. But what I saw was a guy who had patience, which is the calling of good GMs. They’ve got to be willing to lose a guy they want to get the max value on a pick. Mayock showed that several times in this draft.
“I’m gonna give you a great quote that Ozzie Newsome said to me at the Senior Bowl,” Mayock said. “I’ve known Ozzie forever. He congratulated me on the job. I said, ‘Do you have any advice?’ He said, ‘Mike, having an opinion is a hell of a lot easier than having to make a decision.’ I thought that was so well said back then. And then I really felt the weight of it last night.”
Now for the Mayock-scout relationship, and the infamous Ian Rapoport tweet about sending the scouts home.
Mayock: “I came in at an atypical time for a GM, in January, and we had a four-month run that might’ve been the most important in the history of the Oakland Raiders as far as a draft and free agency. We’ve been to one playoff game in 16 years. They’ve been doing things a certain way around here and it hasn’t worked. They bring me in in January and I inherit a group of scouts for four months. I was 100 percent transparent with them the first week I got here. I told every single scout that they might not like the fact that a media guy’s their boss, which they probably didn’t. I told them I knew I had to earn their respect, and I would. But they also had to earn my respect and they had four months to do it because all their contracts were up. I made the decision three weeks ago that when the scouts’ work was done in this building, I was gonna send most of them home. I told them, and 45 minutes later it was on Twitter. So the decision to send them home, in hindsight, was the right one.
“I’ve known for years there have been leaks out of this building. Al Davis had a phobia about it when he was in his prime. He was really good about keeping it from happening. My deal, the bottom line for me, is you’ve got to trust the guys you work with. To me, if you’re a good teammate, what goes on in this building stays in this building.”
Gruden needed Mayock. Gruden’s match with the GM he inherited when he re-took the coach job 16 months ago, Reggie McKenzie, a good football man, was an arranged marriage. Gruden wanted a grinder.
“Mayock’s like Abram,” Gruden said. “He just wants it.”
Can it last? The book on Gruden is that he falls out of love with people—he loves them, then he loves someone else, and there are rocky times. But he hasn’t worked with many like Mayock. When Gruden sees Mayock, he sees the personnel version of himself. The plus in this relationship, as this weekend showed, is that the GM won’t just bend to the Gruden when Gruden wants something badly. In each of the big decisions in this first draft—waiting for Jacobs, waiting for Abram, trading twice while angling for Trayvon Mullen—the gamble worked. Mayock’s a rookie, but he’s a precocious rookie.
“I’ve known Mike since I was offense coordinator at Philadelphia, I guess that was 1995. I work there, I see Mike. I get the [head-coaching job] here, I see Mike. I go to Tampa, I see Mike. I started broadcasting, I see Mike. I really got to know Mike then. His preparation is no bullsh–. A lot of these guys go on TV and they read the headlines but they don’t do the work. You know what I mean? He’s well respected because of the amount of preparation he does. And he’s a great listener and a great teammate too. I think we both have a strong desire to get this franchise going again. It’s an exciting time really because of the future of the Raiders and where we’re heading, players that we’re bringing in. It’s a pretty cool experience with him.”
It’s going to be a fun franchise to watch. Gruden, Antonio Brown/Tyrell Williams, Josh Jacobs, Derek Carr, Mayock, Vontaze Burfict … Imagine if they’re good—I mean, TV-ratings good, AFC West-challenging good. How fun will that be? It just might happen.
This from Peter King:
At Ohio State, linebacker Ryan Shazier wore number 10.
At Michigan, linebacker Devin Bush wore number 10.
In the first round of this draft, Bush was pick number 10.
Shazier was an every-down linebacker for the Steelers.
Bush projects to be an every-down linebacker for the Steelers.
Peter King names his GM of the Draft:
GM of the Draft: An unknown one—Miami’s Chris Grier, who, with two trades in the span of an hour Friday night, turned the 48th overall pick into Josh Rosen, a sixth-round pick and a second-round pick in 2020. The Dolphins now have a year to see if the 10th pick in the 2018 draft, Rosen, can be the QB of the future … and if not, Grier will have five extra picks (as of now) in 2020 to find that franchise passer in a richer crop of prospects next April. “I know some people say we’re tanking,” Grier said from Florida on Saturday night. “That’s the furthest thing from the truth. It’s gathering draft capital, plus we’ve now got a quarterback to come in and compete for us.”
NEW YORK JETS
I think there are bad looks, and then there’s Le’Veon Bell skipping the first days of voluntary workouts with the New York Jets. Resting up after the tough 2018 campaign, I guess.
THIS AND THAT
SCORING THE DB’S MOCK DRAFT
We had 24 of the first rounders in our 32 picks. We had the four quarterbacks all going to the team that picked them (albeit Drew Lock at 10 and Daniel Jones at 17 and Washington trading up).
CHAD REUTER’s DRAFT GRADES
From Chad Reuter of NFL.com. He gives out a lot of As (we can’t figure out why Green Bay got one for example). His worst grade is C+ – and since he loved LB DEVIN WHITE we are not sure why the Buccaneers got one of the two he handed out, just because the corner picks are deemed iffy.
Full analysis here, severely edited below:
I’ve heard the argument that it’s worthless to grade draft picks immediately after they are made, but I don’t agree.
Keep in mind that my quick-snap grades for the 2019 NFL Draft are not based on how I expect a player’s career to progress over the next four or five years — no one knows what the future holds. These grades are, however, an evaluation of the process each team undertook to select the players they did, and whether each selection from this weekend is of appropriate value given the player’s performance in college and overall athleticism.
Taking this snapshot now also gives a baseline evaluation of teams’ decision-making processes. If a prospect is considered a great pick on the day of the draft, but ultimately doesn’t pan out in the league, that’s a completely different evaluation of his new team’s decision than identifying a player who was considered a reach at the time he was picked. Waiting for three years to grade these picks leads to revisionist history, not an accurate evaluation of a decision that was based on what was known when the player was selected.
Draft picks: Houston DT Ed Oliver (No. 9 overall); Oklahoma OT Cody Ford (No. 38); Florida Atlantic RB Devin Singletary (No. 74); Mississippi TE Dawson Knox (No. 96); Florida LB Vosean Joseph (No. 147); Miami S Jaquan Johnson (No. 181); North Carolina A&T Edge Daryl Johnson (No. 225); Boston College TE Tommy Sweeney (No. 228)
Overall grade: A-
Draft analysis: Buffalo got nice value in the top 10 by eschewing trade offers to take Oliver. Ty Nsekhe was a solid swing tackle pickup in free agency, but trading up to select Ford early in the second round (giving up just a fifth-rounder in the deal) gives the Bills their future starting right tackle, although Ford could slide inside to guard if injuries to others dictate the move.
Draft picks: Clemson DT Christian Wilkins (No. 13 overall); Wisconsin OG Michael Deiter (No. 78); Wisconsin LB Andrew Van Ginkel (No. 151); Ohio State OT Isaiah Prince (No. 202); Auburn FB Chandler Cox (No. 233); Washington RB Myles Gaskin (No. 234)
Overall grade: A-
Draft analysis: Wilkins is a quality person and an excellent player with the versatility to play anywhere on the line. The team never really replaced Ndamukong Suh, and Wilkins has the ability to be really disruptive inside.
We absolutely take the Friday acquisition of Josh Rosen into account in this grade. Landing the second-year QB for a late-second-round pick this year and 2020 fifth-rounder was an absolute bargain. Trading down in Round 2 in a deal with the Saints before making the Rosen deal was also a great move.
New England Patriots
Draft picks: Arizona State WR N’Keal Harry (No. 32 overall); Vanderbilt CB Joejuan Williams (No. 45); Michigan DE Chase Winovich (No. 77); Alabama RB Damien Harris (No. 87); West Virginia OT Yodny Cajuste (No. 101); Arkansas OG Hjalte Froholdt (No. 118); Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham (No. 133); Maryland DE Byron Cowart (No. 159); Stanford P Jake Bailey (No. 163); Mississippi CB Ken Webster (No. 252)
Overall grade: A
Draft analysis: When Rob Gronkowski had to move outside in the playoffs this past season, it was pretty clear that New England needed a reliable big receiver to win downfield. Harry should meet that need quite well.
The Patriots’ interest in Williams was not a well-kept secret — he had the versatility they needed in the secondary. Giving up a third-round pick to go get him was not a Belichickian-type move, but if they had a first-round grade on him, I won’t blame them for making the deal. They found a steal in Winovich in the third round. He’s the type of high-motor, versatile lineman who will be a factor early on. Harris is an all-around talent who was worthy of a selection 20 picks earlier than his drafting spot. Cajuste has injury issues and doesn’t have the greatest feet, but he could work his way into starting at right tackle.
New York Jets
Draft picks: Alabama DT Quinnen Williams (No. 3 overall); Florida OLB Jachai Polite (No. 68); USC OT Chuma Edoga (No. 92); West Virginia TE Trevon Wesco (No. 121); Minnesota LB Blake Cashman (No. 157); Rutgers CB Blessuan Austin (No. 196)
Overall grade: A-
Draft analysis: Williams was a dominant player at Alabama and will be a thorn in the side of NFL offensive lines.
Draft picks: Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown (No. 25 overall); Louisiana Tech OLB Jaylon Ferguson (No. 85); Notre Dame WR Miles Boykin (No. 93); Oklahoma State RB Justice Hill (No. 113); Oklahoma OG Ben Powers (No. 123); USC CB Iman Marshall (No. 127); Texas A&M DT Daylon Mack (No. 160); Penn State QB Trace McSorley (No. 197)
Overall grade: A
Draft analysis: Multiple NFL general managers told me they would have a hard time picking Brown, a 166-pound receiver, in the first round. Sure, he lacks size, but his talent reminds me of DeSean Jackson, who was also under 170 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine when he came out. If Brown has that sort of career, the Ravens will have done well. Plus, they gained two Day 3 picks (Nos. 127 and 197) by trading down three spots in a deal with the Eagles and still selecting the guy they likely wanted at No. 22.
Ferguson joins former third-round pick Tim Williams as a developing pass rusher for the Ravens. Ferguson could have gone much earlier, so I suspect Baltimore fans will come to appreciate his talents. Adding a larger receiver in Boykin made sense with the lack of wideout depth for Ravens.
Draft picks: Alabama OT Jonah Williams (No. 11 overall); Washington TE Drew Sample (No. 52); N.C. State LB Germaine Pratt (No. 72); N.C. State QB Ryan Finley (No. 104); Arizona State DT Renell Wren (No. 125); Ohio State C Michael Jordan (No. 136); Texas A&M RB Trayveon Williams (No. 182); Auburn LB Deshaun Davis (No, 210); Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson (No. 211); South Dakota State CB Jordan Brown (No. 223)
Overall grade: A-
Draft analysis: Cincinnati desperately needed help at offensive tackle, and Williams proved he can handle playing on the left or right side at Alabama. With both of the top inside linebackers off the board, this pick made a whole lot of sense. Just a solid pick.
Finley has the chance to be a starter eventually, whether it is in Cincinnati after the Andy Dalton era concludes or with another team via trade.
Draft picks: LSU CB Greedy Williams (No. 46 overall); BYU LB Sione Takitaki (No. 80); Miami S Sheldrick Redwine (No. 119); Alabama LB Mack Wilson (No. 155); Oklahoma K Austin Seibert (No. 170); Southeast Missouri OG Drew Forbes (No. 189); Tulane CB Donnie Lewis (No. 221)
Overall grade: A-
Draft analysis: To become a legitimate playoff contender in the AFC, the Browns needed another offensive weapon. They were certainly not likely to find a player of Odell Beckham’s caliber available to them at No. 17, the first-round pick they sent to the Giants in the OBJ swap. Giving up a late third-round pick and safety Jabrill Peppers as part of the deal was not exorbitant, either, and Cleveland signed veteran Morgan Burnett to help replace Peppers.
The Browns made their pick in this year’s draft on Friday night, as GM John Dorsey parted with a fifth-round pick to move up three spots for Williams, who will be a factor in coverage early in his career with Cleveland.
Draft picks: Michigan LB Devin Bush (No. 10 overall); Toledo WR Diontae Johnson (No. 66); Michigan State CB Justin Layne (No. 83); Kentucky RB Benny Snell (No. 122); Michigan TE Zach Gentry (No. 141); Northern Illinois Edge Sutton Smith (No. 175); Alabama DT Isaiah Buggs (No. 192); Akron LB Ulysees Gilbert (No. 207); Maryland OT Derwin Gray (No. 219)
Overall grade: A-
Draft analysis: I was so happy to see two inside linebackers go in the top 10 picks. Bush is worthy of that investment, as he moves like a safety and pounds ball-carriers with impunity. The picks they parted with to move up in the deal with the Broncos — Pittsburgh sent them a 2019 second-round pick (No. 52) and 2020 third-rounder — isn’t a ridiculous price to pay, but the Steelers could have found a much-needed corner had they stayed at No. 20 and a starting inside ‘backer in the second round (or later).
Draft picks: Alabama State OT Tytus Howard (No. 23 overall); Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson (No. 54); Northern Illinois OT Max Scharping (No. 55); San Diego State TE Kahale Warring (No. 86); Texas DE Charles Omenihu (No. 161); Central Michigan CB Xavier Crawford (No. 195); Texas A&M RB Cullen Gillaspia (No. 220)
Overall grade: C+
Draft analysis: Howard has the athleticism to succeed in the NFL despite playing at FCS-level Alabama State; he proved that at the combine and acquitted himself nicely at the Senior Bowl. This really smells like picking for need, although they decided not to reach for their other big need, a cornerback. If Andre Dillard — whom the Eagles traded up to select one spot before the Texans were on the clock — stars in the league and Howard does not, people will wonder why Houston did not go up to get the top left tackle in the draft.
Draft picks: Temple CB Rock Ya-Sin (No. 34 overall); TCU OLB Ben Banogu (No. 49); Ohio State WR Parris Campbell (No. 59); Stanford LB Bobby Okereke (No. 89); Michigan State S Khari Willis (No. 109); USC S Marvell Tell (No. 144); Tarleton State LB E.J. Speed (No. 164); Mississippi State Edge Gerri Green (No. 199); Utah OT Jackson Barton (No. 240); Ole Miss OL Javon Patterson (No. 246)
Overall grade: A
Draft analysis: The Colts moved out of the first round to pick up a 2020 second-round pick, which is the type of move I like. Moving from 26 all the way down to 46 could have taken them out of the running for the best available players on Friday night, but that scenario didn’t play out. Ya-Sin could have been picked late in the first round.
Draft picks: Kentucky DE Josh Allen (No. 7 overall); Florida OT Jawaan Taylor (No. 35); Josh Oliver (No. 69); Murray State LB Quincy Williams (No. 98); Temple RB Ryquell Armstead (No. 140); Washington State QB Gardner Minshew (No. 178); Auburn DT Dontavius Russell (No. 235)
Overall grade: A-
Draft analysis: The Jaguars got great value in Allen, a top-three talent, at No. 7 overall. They can play him all over the place to wreak havoc as a pass rusher, and he can make plays in coverage, too. It was either Ed Oliver or Allen at this pick, and I can’t blame them for going in this direction with former first-round pick Taven Bryan waiting in the wings.
Finding Taylor in the second round was a great pick, and the price they paid to move up for him is no big deal given that he was one of the top linemen in the draft.
Draft picks: Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons (No. 19 overall); Mississippi WR A.J. Brown (No. 51); Charlotte OG Nate Davis (No. 82); Iowa S Amani Hooker (No. 116); Georgia OLB D’Andre Walker (No. 168); West Virginia LB David Long Jr. (No. 188)
Overall grade: A
Draft analysis: If Simmons had not torn his ACL in February, he would have been picked much higher. Teams believe he has been a model citizen since his 2016 arrest. His physicality and aggressive play give him a shot at being special.
Tennessee found great value in Brown in the middle of the second round, adding him to Marcus Mariota’s arsenal, which already includes Adam Humphries, Taywan Taylor and Corey Davis. Davis was projected to go in the third round as a guard, and he could compete for the spot opposite Rodger Saffold in 2019 or 2020.
The Titans added depth with Hooker, Walker, and Long on Saturday, all three of whom could be starters within two years.
Draft picks: Iowa TE Noah Fant (No. 20 overall); Kansas State OL Dalton Risner (No. 41); Missouri QB Drew Lock (No. 42); Ohio State DT Dre’Mont Jones (No. 71); Oregon OLB Justin Hollins (No. 156); Colorado WR Juwann Winfree (No. 187)
Overall grade: A
Draft analysis: Fant is an athletic freak who will stretch defenses. He’s not the complete package as a run blocker and receiver in the way former teammate T.J. Hockenson is, but he will be a weapon for veteran Joe Flacco. The Broncos made this pick after trading down in a deal with the Steelers, picking up an extra second-round pick this year (No. 52) and 2020 third-round selection in the deal. They did pass on a chance to pick Devin Bush, who could have been a great addition to the defense, but you can’t blame the Broncos for taking the draft capital and running.
The Broncos made a splash in Round 2, selecting a versatile offensive lineman in Risner and a fantastic value in Lock. This pairing could be the team’s battery for a decade if Risner lines up inside and the strong-armed Lock allows GM John Elway to move on from Flacco in two years.
Kansas City Chiefs
Draft picks: Georgia WR Mecole Hardman (No. 56 overall); Virginia DB Juan Thornhill (No. 63); Western Illinois DT Khalen Saunders (No. 84); South Carolina CB Rashad Fenton (No. 201); Utah State RB Darwin Thompson (No. 214); Illinois OG Nick Allegretti (No. 216)
Overall grade: B+
Draft analysis: The Chiefs sent three picks to the Seahawks for Frank Clark earlier this week. Clearly, they viewed him as a better fit for their new defensive scheme than Dee Ford (who they traded to San Francisco this offseason), and Clark is indeed a superior player..
For some time, I’ve thought the Tyreek Hill situation might push the Chiefs to pick Hardman in the second round. Recent events — a prosecutor has reopened a child abuse investigation involving Hill — made it clear they needed another potent receiver and returner, and giving up a fifth-round pick to trade up for Hardman was surely an easy decision. Saunders is an excellent backup for Derrick Nnadi, similar in stature and explosiveness off the ball.
Los Angeles Chargers
Draft picks: Notre Dame DT Jerry Tillery (No. 28 overall); Delaware S Nasir Adderley (No. 60); Sioux Falls OT Trey Pipkins (No. 91); Notre Dame LB Drue Tranquill (No. 130); North Dakota State QB Easton Stick (No. 166); Houston OLB Emeke Egbule (No. 200); Cincinnati DT Cortez Broughton (No. 242)
Overall grade: B+
Draft analysis: The Chargers ignored needs at offensive tackle and in the secondary to address the need at DT in Round 1. Tillery is a load when allowed to get upfield, especially when he keeps his hips low to push through blocks. They were apparently not as worried as some teams about the shoulder surgery the tackle had before the draft.
Adderley is a versatile cover free-safety prospect who can replace the released Jahleel Addae and will complement Derwin James quite well.
Draft picks: Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell (No. 4 overall); Alabama RB Josh Jacobs (No. 24); Mississippi State S Johnathan Abram (No. 27); Clemson CB Trayvon Mullen (No. 40); Eastern Michigan DE Maxx Crosby (No. 106); Houston CB Isaiah Johnson (No. 129); LSU TE Foster Moreau (No. 137); Clemson WR Hunter Renfrow (No. 149); Prairie View A&M Edge Quinton Bell (No. 230)
Overall grade: B+
Draft analysis: They started the day with their highly publicized three first-round picks, including two received in trades for veteran players (edge Khalil Mack to Chicago; WR Amari Cooper to Dallas). Ferrell is a good player, and it’s not surprising the team felt pressure to replace Mack. Ferrell was the next best pure front-four pass rusher on the board after No. 2 overall pick Nick Bosa, but he came off the board well before most people expected.
The Jacobs selection at No. 24 was not a surprise, not only due to his immense talent but also the retirement of Marshawn Lynch. Abram is a very good safety who brings pop and quickness to the secondary. He will be a leader for the Raiders in the future and it won’t be surprising if former first-round pick Karl Joseph is traded to make room for him on the field. Oakland had only one pick on Friday night, but used it on Mullen to address a big positional need.
Oakland found a high-effort pass rusher in Crosby in the fourth round, as well as an athletic, raw, quick-footed corner in Johnson. Moreau is the receiving tight end the Raiders needed, and Renfrow will be a long-time inside receiver in the league.
Draft picks: UCF DT Trysten Hill (No. 58 overall); Penn State OG Connor McGovern (No. 90); Memphis RB Tony Pollard (No. 128); Miami CB Michael Jackson (No. 158); Miami DE Joe Jackson (No. 165); Texas A&M S Donovan Wilson(No. 213); Ohio State RB Mike Weber (No. 218); Oregon Edge Jalen Jelks (No. 241)
Overall grade: A
Draft analysis: Amari Cooper showed what he could become when teaming with Dak Prescott last year. Yes, Dallas gave up a first-round pick to get him, but let’s remember — he’s just 24 years old, not a veteran who will be in his 30s before too long. If the team can’t sign him to a long-term deal, then the grade gets adjusted downward, but I don’t see that happening.
New York Giants
Draft picks: Duke QB Daniel Jones (No. 6 overall); Clemson DT Dexter Lawrence (No. 17 overall); Georgia CB Deandre Baker (No. 30 overall); Old Dominion DE Oshane Ximines (No. 95); Notre Dame CB Julian Love (No. 108); Wisconsin LB Ryan Connelly (No. 143); Auburn WR Darius Slayton (No. 171); Washburn CB Corey Ballentine (No. 180); Kentucky OT George Asafo-Adjei (No. 232); Syracuse DT Chris Slayton (No. 245)
Overall grade: B
Draft analysis: I mentioned Jones as a sensible replacement for Eli Manning back in November. The QB possesses a lot of positive traits, and it was time for the Giants to find a successor for Manning. However, many people do not believe Jones is an elite prospect, so the value of the pick will be questioned until he proves otherwise. They received an extra first-rounder in the trade of Odell Beckham to the Browns, and they selected Lawrence, a massive defensive tackle, with the pick. If he shows the ability to push the pocket as well as provide a wall inside, he’ll be a major success. GM David Gettleman moved back into Round 1 to pick Baker, the top prospect at a position of need, giving up two Saturday picks (which they had a lot of) in the deal.
Draft picks: Washington State OT Andre Dillard (No. 22 overall); Penn State RB Miles Sanders (No. 53); Stanford WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (No. 57); Penn State DE Shareef Miller (No. 138); Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson (No. 167)
Overall grade: A
Draft analysis: Jason Peters has had a great NFL career, but he’s 37 years old and his contract is due to expire after next season.
The Eagles decided not to pick Alabama RB Josh Jacobs in the first round, but they got the second-best back in the draft in the second round.
Draft picks: Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins (No. 15 overall); Mississippi State OLB Montez Sweat (No. 26 overall); Ohio State WR Terry McLaurin (No. 76); Stanford RB Bryce Love (No. 112); Indiana OG Wes Martin (No. 131); Alabama C Ross Pierschbacher (No. 153); North Carolina LB Cole Holcomb (No. 173); North Carolina State WR Kelvin Harmon (No. 206); James Madison CB Jimmy Moreland (No. 227); Oklahoma Edge Jordan Brailford (No. 253)
Overall grade: B+
Draft analysis: The fact that they did not have to move up to get Haskins was a major bonus. His arm is live and he has the ability to distribute the football to all parts of the field.. Finally, Washington traded up to grab Sweat, who will be a fine pass rusher if his heart condition does not prevent him from reaching his potential. They really needed depth at outside linebacker, where Sweat fits quite well. I am generally not enamored with giving up future second-round picks, but this guy’s talent is worthy of taking that sort of chance.
Haskins’ arm and McLaurin’s speed will team up to make big plays in Washington as they did in Columbus. If Love’s burst can return over the next year, Washington found a strong contributor in the run game. Martin and Pierschbacher fill a major need in the interior offensive line for the Redskins. Brailford is a pass rusher who was a value near the end of the draft.
Draft pick: Iowa State RB David Montgomery; Georgia WR Riley Ridley (No. 126); Kansas State CB Duke Shelley (No. 205); Florida Atlantic RB Kerrith White (No. 222); Valdosta State CB Stephen Denmark (No. 238)
Overall grade: A
Draft analysis: Khalil Mack was 100 percent worthy of the Bears’ interest. He played lights-out in 2018 and I suspect will be a force over the next few seasons, barring injury (which was a bit of a concern last year). There’s no question he was worth giving up their 2019 first- and sixth-round picks, as well as the 2020 third-round pick as a sweetener. And parting with a 2020 first-round pick and swapping second-round picks with the Raiders next year may only be a minimal loss for the Bears if they are a playoff team and Oakland does not greatly exceed its win total from last season.
When they were finally on the clock Friday night (they dealt away their second-rounder this year in a draft day trade last year to land WR Anthony Miller), the Bears found their new running back in Montgomery, who can carry a heavy workload. They had to give up a 2020 fourth-round pick as part of the deal, though.
Getting Ridley in the fourth round was an absolute steal. I thought he was a second-round value.
Draft picks: Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson (No. 8 overall); Hawaii LB Jahlani Tavai (No. 43); Boston College DB Will Harris (No. 81); Clemson DE Austin Bryant (No. 117); Penn State CB Amani Oruwariye (No. 146); Old Dominion WR Travis Fulgham (No. 184); Maryland RB Ty Johnson (No. 186); Georgia TE Isaac Nauta (No. 224); Arizona DT P.J. Johnson (No. 229)
Overall grade: B
Draft analysis: I love Hockenson as a two-way tight end prospect. He will be a strong target for Matthew Stafford and a nice blocker in the run game. But he wasn’t the top player available: it was defensive tackle Ed Oliver. Time will tell which way they should have gone with that pick.
Green Bay Packers
Draft picks: Michigan OLB Rashan Gary (No. 12 overall); Maryland S Darnell Savage (No. 21 overall); Texas A&M OG Elgton Jenkins (No. 44); Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger (No. 75); Texas A&M DE Kingsley Keke (No. 150); Toledo CB Ka’dar Hollman (No. 185); Notre Dame RB Dexter Williams (No. 194); TCU LB Ty Summers (No. 226)
Overall grade: A
Draft analysis: Gary’s production wasn’t what you would have liked at Michigan and his off-field business interest turned off some teams.
The Packers got a steal in Keke, who could become a starter. Hollman was a former walk-on who starred for Toledo. Depth at running back was a big need for Green Bay, so Williams will get a shot to play early.
Draft picks: N.C. State C Garrett Bradbury (No. 18 overall); Alabama TE Irv Smith (No. 50); Boise State RB Alexander Mattison (No. 102); Oklahoma OG Dru Samia (No. 114); USC LB Cameron Smith (No. 162); Arkansas DT Armon Watts (No. 190); Wyoming S Marcus Epps (No, 191); Elon OT Oli Udoh (No. 193); Texas CB Kris Boyd (No. 217); Oregon WR Dillon Mitchell (No. 239); Colorado State WR Olabisi Johnson (No, 247); Air Force LS Austin Cutting (No. 250)
Overall grade: A
Draft analysis: Bradbury is athletic and tough, considered one of the best center prospects to be picked in some time. Minnesota’s offensive line was in dire need of improvement so this selection will make quarterback Kirk Cousins and running back Dalvin Cook extremely happy.
Smith is a move tight end who was a nice value.
Draft picks: Boston College OG Chris Lindstrom (No. 14 overall); Washington OT Kaleb McGary (No. 31 overall); Ohio State CB Kendall Sheffield (No. 111); Charleston DE John Cominsky (No. 135); Pittsburgh RB Qadree Ollison (No. 152);Washington CB Jordan Miller (No. 172); Louisiana-Monroe WR Marcus Green (No. 203)
Overall grade: B+
Draft analysis: Lindstrom will be a decade-long starter in the interior for the Falcons. Surprisingly, GM Thomas Dimitroff did not manage to move up for a defensive tackle like Ed Oliver or Christian Wilkins to meet their top need. Lindstrom is a safe pick and an upgrade over the veteran free agents the team signed, but they could have used another difference-maker on defense.
Draft picks: Florida State DE Brian Burns (No. 16 overall); Mississippi OT Greg Little (No. 37); West Virginia QB Will Grier (No. 100); Alabama DE Christian Miller (No. 115); Florida RB Jordan Scarlett (No. 154); South Carolina OT Dennis Daley (No. 212); Georgia WR Terry Godwin (No. 237)
Overall grade: A-
Draft analysis: Burns made himself a lot of money by adding weight for the combine. With his explosiveness and bend, adding strength to his frame will help him meet his potential. They met their need for an offensive tackle in the early second round, giving up a third-round selection to move up 10 spots and select Little. He should help protect Cam Newton and Grier, a third-round selection who will likely beat out the team’s current backup QBs for a job.
New Orleans Saints
Draft pick: Texas A&M C Erik McCoy (No. 48 overall); Florida S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (No. 105); Rutgers S Saquan Hampton (No. 177); Notre Dame TE Alize Mack (No. 231); Idaho LB Kaden Elliss (No. 244)
Overall grade: B-
Draft analysis: It’s too early to determine whether edge rusher Marcus Davenport was worthy of giving up this year’s first-rounder plus a fifth-round choice last year. There wasn’t another pass rusher available in the first round for which the Saints could have waited, but a wide receiver like D.J. Moore or Calvin Ridley could have helped the team in 2018 and beyond (and would have cost less draft capital). Davenport must excel as a pass rusher over the next three years to make this deal worthwhile.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Draft picks: LSU LB Devin White (No. 5 overall); Central Michigan DB Sean Bunting (No. 39); Auburn CB Jamel Dean (No. 94); Kentucky S Mike Edwards (No. 99); Iowa OLB Anthony Nelson (No. 107); Utah K Matt Gay (No. 145); Bowling Green WR Scott Miller (No. 208); Missouri DT Terry Beckner Jr. (No. 215)
Overall grade: C+
Draft analysis: White is a star inside linebacker who will lead the Bucs’ defense for years to come. Thankfully, his talent was not overlooked due to the diminished value that’s often placed on his position. If Josh Allen becomes a star pass rusher, though, Tampa Bay fans will wonder “what if?”
Bunting could be a good player for Tampa Bay, but there were other corners of higher value available in the early second round. Dean’s film was quite inconsistent, but the team thought his potential on the outside was worthy of a third-round choice.
Draft picks: Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray (No. 1 overall); Washington CB Byron Murphy (No. 33 overall); Massachusetts WR Andy Isabella (No. 62); Boston College DE Zach Allen (No. 65); Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler (No. 103); Alabama S Deionte Thompson (No. 139); Fresno State WR Keesean Johnson (No. 174); Georgia C Lamont Gaillard (No. 179); Morgan State OT Joshua Miles (No. 248); Temple DT Michael Dogbe (No. 249); UCLA TE Caleb Wilson (No. 254)
Overall grade: A
Draft analysis: New head coach Kliff Kingsbury decided to bring in “his quarterback” rather than work with 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen. I can’t blame him. Coaching in the NFL is difficult enough without passing up a quarterback you believe in. Josh Rosen might succeed in Miami, and I hope he does, but taking Murray first overall was the right move for Kingsbury and the Cardinals.
Los Angeles Rams
Draft picks: Washington S Taylor Rapp (No. 61 overall); Memphis RB Darrell Henderson (No. 70); Michigan CB David Long (No. 79); Oklahoma OG Bobby Evans (No. 97); Washington DT Greg Gaines (No. 134); Wisconsin T David Edwards (No. 169); Penn State S Nick Scott (No. 243); Texas Tech LB Dakota Allen (No. 251)
Overall grade: B+
Draft analysis: General manager Les Snead must have seen all of his first-round prospects come off the board, as the Rams traded back to No. 45 overall (from No. 31) so the Falcons could select Kaleb McGary.
San Francisco 49ers
Draft picks: Ohio State DE Nick Bosa (No. 2 overall); South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel (No. 36); Baylor WR Jalen Hurd (No. 67); Utah P Mitch Wishnowsky (No. 110); Arkansas LB Dre Greenlaw (No. 148); Stanford TE Kaden Smith (No. 176); Vanderbilt OT Justin Skule (No. 183); Virginia CB Tim Harris (No. 198)
Overall grade: A-
Draft analysis: The 49ers picked the best player in the 2019 NFL Draft in Nick Bosa. Adding him to a D-line that already includes Dee Ford means the Niners will greatly improve their pass rush..
Samuel’s ability to work inside and outside, his toughness, and his strong hands made him a no-brainer pick for the receiver-needy Niners in Round 2.
Draft picks: TCU DE L.J. Collier (No. 29 overall); Utah DB Marquise Blair (No. 47); Mississippi WR D.K. Metcalf (No. 64); Utah LB Cody Barton (No. 88); West Virginia WR Gary Jennings (No. 120); Wake Forest OG Phil Haynes (No. 124); Oregon CB Ugo Amadi (No. 132); Washington LB Ben Burr-Kirven (No. 142); Miami RB Travis Homer (No. 204); Florida State DT Demarcus Christmas (No. 209); Hawaii WR John Ursua (No. 236)
Overall grade: A-
Draft analysis: It was shocking to no one that the Seahawks moved down from the 21st overall selection to get more picks later in the draft (two fourth-rounders from Green Bay). With the extra pick they gained by trading edge rusher Frank Clark to the Chiefs, the Seahawks selected Collier, who is a very similar player. Forget about his 4.91 40 time — he’ll be a stout run defender and powerful pass rusher. Then, GM John Schneider acquired even more draft capital by trading the 30th overall selection to the Giants for a second-, a fourth- and a fifth-round pick.
THOR NYSTROM’s DRAFT GRADES
He’s at NBCSports.com and he doesn’t pull any punches. Edited below, full thing here
Baltimore Ravens | Snap grade: B+
Loved the first three picks. (WR Marquise Brown, EDGE Jaylon Ferguson, WR Miles Boykin). Fate of class will be decided by the soundness of Hollywood Brown’s foot, whether or not Sack Daddy Ferguson’s speed-to-power heavy game translates (myself and Jim Nagy are among the crowd that thinks it will, most of #DraftTwitter is on the other side), and whether Miles Boykin can play up to his athletic ability. The athleticism on Baltimore’s offense with Lamar Jackson, Justice Hill, Hollywood, Boykin (and, to a lesser extent, Mark Andrews) is unreal. Dibs on Ravens in Madden.
Buffalo Bills | Snap grade: B
The Bills absolutely crushed their first three picks (DL Ed Oliver, OT Cody Ford, RB Devin Singletary). Buffalo is going to love Ed Oliver, or as I call him, John Randle 2.0.
Cincinnati Bengals | Snap grade: C+
Getting T Jonah Williams at 1.11 was clutch. I thought the Bengals had a regrettable Day 2, but they roared back with a strong Day 3.
Cleveland Browns | Snap grade: A-
Despite not having a first-round pick, the Browns emerged with a first-rounder — free-falling CB Greedy Williams. Assuming he’s healthy (rumors suggest the fall had to do with an undisclosed health concern), that’s highway robbery.
Denver Broncos | Snap grade: B
I’ve been a Drew Lock’s-not-a-first-rounder truther for over a year, but, even though I wouldn’t have done it, I’m not going to bash taking him at 2.42. I thought the rest of the picks were nice, particularly stealing DL Dre’Mont Jones in Round 3.
Houston Texans | Snap grade: B
The Texans could have traded a nominal amount of draft capital to move up a few spots to take Andre Dillard, and instead overdrafted Tytus Howard when the Eagles beat them to the punch. That was a regrettable sequence. But after that, the Texans killed it pick after pick.
Houston took verified #myguys Scharping and Warring. In addition to the Lonnie Johnson selection, that was three straight picks right around where I had them slotted overall. I felt like we were sharing draft boards. I wish I could grade them higher than a B, but they’d have had an A+++ with Dillard and only would have had to sacrifice a few late-rounders to do it. You do that. You just do.
The Eagles acquired No. 22 (Dillard) from the Ravens for No. 25 (Hollywood Brown), a fourth-rounder, and a sixth-rounder. Houston would’ve beat that offer with No. 23, a fifth-rounder (the Omenihu pick) and a sixth-rounder (the Crawford pick). Let me ask you, reader: Would you rather have Tytus, Omenihu and Crawford or Andre 300 and a UDFA DL like Daniel Wise and a UDFA CB like Derrek Thomas?
Indianapolis Colts | Snap grade: D
I assume #DraftTwitter will love this class, but I think the Colts, feeling themselves, got cute after the Rock Ya-Sin pick (and perhaps even with it). Banogu never put it together at TCU under one of the best defensive staffs in the nation, Parris Campbell can’t catch balls more than 10 yards downfield, and Indy may get very little out of their six Day 3 picks.
Jacksonville Jaguars | Snap grade: A-
Jacksonville destroyed their first two picks, getting one guy I didn’t think had any chance of dropping to 1.7 in the first place (EDGE JOSH ALLEN) and then a guy many thought would go at 1.7 (JAWAAN TAYLOR) in the second. Outside of the bizarre Quincy Williams pick, I liked what Jacksonville was doing.
Kansas City Chiefs | Snap grade: D+
S Juan Thornhill was a really strong value at 2.63, and I think RB Darwin Thompson is going to surprise, particularly now that he wound up in KC. He’s a great receiver and a freak athlete in the Tarik Cohen mold. But, man, the WR Mecole Hardman pick at 2.56 was rough, and CB Rashad Fenton (6.201) feels like a wasted pick. There were multiple UDFA WRs I would have preferred to Hardman.
The Chiefs could have traded back an entire round and gotten Hakeem Butler (the first pick in the fourth round). The Chiefs would have gotten a minimum of a 2020 third-rounder for their troubles (for context, the Saints gave the Dolphins No. 62, No. 202, and a 2020 second-rounder for No. 48).
Or, heck, they could have stayed put and taken D.K. Metcalf. Reader, there are three boxes. I’d like you to pick a present to give to Pat Mahomes, our lord and savior. Box A: Hakeem Butler, a fifth-rounder, and a 2020 third-rounder. Box B: D.K. Metcalf. Box C: Mecole Hardman. You give that choice to a thousand men, the only one who opens Box C is Brett Veach.
Los Angeles Chargers | Snap grade: A
Making one pick late in each round, the Chargers sat back patiently waiting as the NFL slid value pick after value pick into their slot. This was less a pillaging of talent and more of an audit on the NFL, and I loved it. Tillery is a triumphant pick at 1.28, for reasons you can read about in my defensive line deep dive (links to my position reports and top-500 board are on the bottom of page 2).
Adderley was my S1, Tranquill fits where the NFL is going at LB, and Easton Stick (6th round, North Dakota State) is a Taysom Hill-level sub-package offensive weapon option in the short-term who could turn into Phillip Rivers’ heir apparent in the long-term. I think this is what people miss about Stick: Even if he never becomes a starting-caliber quarterback, he’s still at minimum a decent backup NFL quarterback who can do Taysom Hill things as a sub-package and special teams player.
So let me ask you another question, reader: Where does Taysom Hill go if you redraft the 2017 NFL Draft? What round? Okay, whatever you just answered, you need to bump it up a round to account for the possibility that Stick can develop enough as a passer to become a viable starter (he’s objectively superior to Hill in this phase)
Miami Dolphins | Snap grade: D-
I thought there were better options on the board than DL Christian Wilkins, and the rest of the haul is forgettable.
New England Patriots | Snap grade: A-
And another one! WR N’Keal Harry was an awesome pick, EDGE Chase Winovich was a Round 3 steal, and I think both T Yodny Cajuste and G Hjalte Froholdt will outplay their draft slots.
New York Jets | Snap grade: A
Sensational. You get the best player in the class at 1.3, you get strong value on all three Day 2 picks, and then you get the biggest steal in the latter portion of the draft in LB Blake Cashman in Round 5. Assuming Cashman’s shoulders hold up, he’s going to surprise.
Oakland Raiders | Snap grade: F
I actually loved what the Raiders did on Day 3, but I refuse to bump them up to a D- for the small-potatoes stuff. Thursday night, Mike Mayock’s first day in charge of the draft, was one of the most breathtaking squanderings of draft capital that we’ve even seen on Day 1 of the draft.
Mayock took a mid-first rounder at 1.4, a second-round passing-down back with 18th-percentile athleticism at 1.24*, and an athletically-limited one-trick-pony enforcer SS with 36th-percentile athleticism at 1.27 who I predict will be outperformed by more than one safety who went on Day 3.
*(laughably, this news was leaked months in advance, probably because Mayock had loose loops about his Jacobs affinity with his NFL.com friends, who helped stoke Jacobs’ out-of-control buzz by mocking Jacobs in the top-five after the national title game — and yet no team bothered to hop Oakland for Jacobs, all the indication you need that Mayock and Jon Gruden were on an island with regards to Jacobs’ value range).
These weren’t even Las Vegas-esque high-upside gambles. Where’s the upside here? Can you envision Farrell becoming one of the class’ top-three players 20 years down the line? Can you envision Jacobs and Abram becoming top-25 players in this class? How? At their respective positions with their respective games in the modern NFL, each would have to become superstars to qualify.
Jacobs would have to become an every-down stud (something he’s never been) and Abram would have to become at least “objectively good” in coverage (something he’s never been), and both will have to get their without upper-tier athleticism. Those are two new cars whose value dropped by half as they were driven off the lot.
Pittsburgh Steelers | Snap grade: B-
The Steelers made a nice move up to take Devin Bush, my second favorite linebacker in this class, but their later selections were hit-and-miss.
Tennessee Titans | Snap grade: A+
This is how you do it. DL Jeffery Simmons was an inspired pick — he likely would have gone in the top-10 if not for the ACL tear — and WR A.J. Brown, S Amani Hooker and EDGE D’Andre Walker were all mega-steals. There’s like a 22% chance that A.J. Brown will end up as this class’ best receiver when we look back in 20 years. And his floor is as a volume-reception Leonard Fournette-sized athletic big slot. A.J. Brown is worth this slot even if he never develops even 1% better. What he is right now will play in the NFL. And he’s probably going to keep improving.
Arizona Cardinals | Snap grade: A-
The Cardinals crushed every pick from Byron Murphy through to Mr. Irrelevant Caleb Wilson. A monster Day 3 effort began by absolutely stealing WR Hakeem Butler and S Deionte Thompson. For the Day 2-3 treasure chest, I give Arizona an A++. Butler is my favorite pick in the entire draft. Monster value. Butler’s absolute floor is as a one-tricky pony downfield coinflip guy who can get higher than any defensive back in NFL history.
– – –
But for a team with a Swiss-cheese roster and multiple needs, I disagreed with the decision to draft QB Kyler Murray at 1.1 and sell low on QB Josh Rosen to facilitate it. I also disagreed with the decision not to address the offensive line until Round 6.
Kyler Murray’s placement wasn’t top-notch at Oklahoma, and it’s not going to improve in the NFL if he’s running around like a pinted-size Tecmo Bo back there because the Cardinals couldn’t be bothered to take an offensive linemen until they’d first taken three receivers and 178 players had already been selected. This was a draft like I recruit in NCAA 2014. That’s a compliment and an indictment all rolled into one. Kyler Murray had better pan out.
Atlanta Falcons | Snap grade: D+
I’m a fan of G Chris Lindstrom and T Kaleb McGary, and good for the Falcons for moving aggressively to fortify the OL, but I have minor quibbles with the value range on each. The rest of the class is an odd assortment of more extreme overdrafts, from boom-or-bust SPARQ stars (Sheffield, Cominsky) to low-probability moving-in-quicksand guys (last three picks).
Carolina Panthers | Snap grade: C
LB Brian Burns was an awesome pick and a value bonanza. The Packers picked Rashan Gary ahead of this guy! Burns is gonna be a sick pass rusher, guaranteed. We know he can do one thing (and that one thing only). But that’s one more thing than Rashan Gary can do right now, and Gary will never do one thing as good as Brian Burns can rush the passer. I loved the Grier pick at 4.100.
The teams with QB needs had either filled their quota or were sleeping on the wheel with Grier’s eval, so the Panthers figured “screw it.” Grier’s floor is Case Keenum. Easy value approximation stick: Where does Keenum go in the re-draft of his class? He goes above 100. Choosing Greg Little over Cody Ford will come back to haunt, and I thought Scarlett and Godwin were throwaway picks.
Chicago Bears | Snap grade: C
I absolutely loved the RB David Montgomery pick in Round 3 — I think he’s the best back in the class — and I thought Denmark and Whyte were worthwhile lottery tickets at 7.222 and 7.238, respectively. But I can’t rate the class higher than average because they took a value bath on 40% of their picks in a five-man class by going off grid on the pint-sized, unathletic Shelley and chasing Riley Ridley’s mythical ceiling.
His genetic association with the opponent’s WR1 that game, Calvin, plus the insane luck of having the best performance of his 28-game career on the big stage while upstaging his Round 1 NFL WR brother in front of the nation, flattered his eval throughout with circumstantial bias. The other 27 games… weren’t like that.
Dallas Cowboys | Snap grade: F
I didn’t get it. And I like DL Trysten Hill more than most! But that pick started an over-draft party that Dallas was unable to turn the music down on (with the exception of the Round 5 Miami kids).
Detroit Lions | Snap grade: C+
I’ll repeat what I’ve been saying since January: Hockenson is the best TE prospect to enter the league since Vernon Davis, and if I was forced to bet my life on one player from this class making the Hall of Fame, it’d be him. Loved that pick. The rest of the class didn’t do much for me, with the exception of getting CB Amani Oruwariye at 5.146, a nice value.
Green Bay Packers | Snap grade: C-
Bizarre Day 1, as Green Bay over-drafted the heck out of Rashan Gary, who never developed at Michigan with an NFL coaching staff led by Jim Harbaugh, and then used a second-first rounder on Darnell Savage when guys like Amani Hooker, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Deionte Thompson were available on Day 3. Liked the rest of the haul, though. TE Jace Sternberger is going to do real damage with Aaron Rogers.
Los Angeles Rams | Snap grade: B+
Strong, workmanlike draft. The Rams didn’t have a ton of draft capital but made their limited dollars stretch far by snapping up several value propositions. Les Snead and Sean McVay plucked criminally underrated CB David Long and Last Chance U star Dakota Allen, an undersized, rangy kid who gets after it in run defense.
The most fascinating pick of the class is RB Darrell Henderson, the only skill-position prospect the Rams selected. Are the Rams more concerned about the health of Todd Gurley than they’re letting on?
Minnesota Vikings | Snap grade: B+
C Garrett Bradbury was a slam-dunk pick (I would have taken Dillard, but Bradbury is a perfect fit and was a fine value at 1.18). I also thought the Vikings absolutely pillaged on Day 3, consistently getting tremendous value all the way into Round 7. But I can’t go higher than a B+ because I thought the Purple had a disastrous Friday.
New Orleans Saints | Snap grade: B
Not much to judge here, but I thought the Saints got really good value from the slots they were in.
New York Giants | Snap grade: D
Loved the CB Julian Love pick (in the 4th round), didn’t dig the rest of it. And this is coming from one of the guys who’s highest on Daniel Jones in the industry (No. 32 overall in my rankings). But taking Jones No. 6 is just reading your opponents incorrectly at the poker table. If he’s your guy, fine. But you need to drop back 10 slots and pick up something real nice along the way, like a 2020 first-rounder. And if somebody snipes you on Jones in your new slot, who cares?
Daniel Jones isn’t a unicorn prospect, he’s a Tier 2 QB in a bad class. And the Giants already have a 2019 starter on the roster. Next year’s QB class is way better, and in a hilarious twist after Gettleman passed on Sam Darnold for Saquon Barkley last year, the Giants are now hurtling toward another high draft pick in a 2020 draft that will be stacked with quarterbacks — but they’ve now frozen themselves out of a chance at Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa.
And they did that because Gettleman wanted to show us media nerds that he could let his freak flag fly by impulse buying Jones over elite prospects like Josh Allen, TJ Hockenson, Ed Oliver and Jonah Williams. He showed us! Even Jones’ most ardent supporters don’t believe he has superstar ability. It’s not about Jones, I think he’s an NFL starter, that’s why I graded him as a first-rounder. It’s about the slot. You don’t take a value bath up high like that.
Philadelphia Eagles | Snap grade: A-
Getting Andre Dillard at 1.22 was highway robbery. I was stunned he fell — I think he was the offensive linemen in this class, and a top-6 overall talent. The Eagles continued to build up on offense in Day 2 with second-round RB Miles Sanders and WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Arcega-Whiteside provides a sturdy red-zone target for Carson Wentz even if he never develops much beyond that, while Sanders is going to be a major player if he hits his ceiling.
San Francisco 49ers | Snap grade: C
I preferred Josh Allen to Bosa, but I have no issues with that pick. I have more issues with the slight overdraft of Deebo Samuel (especially considering DK Metcalf went at the end of the round and Hakeem Butler went with the first pick in the fourth).
I loved the WR Jalen Hurd pick. Super underrated prospect whose floor is way higher than the draft media has implied because we know he’ll at minimum be a usable big slot who can also grind out yards in short-yardage situations out of the I-formation. I thought the 49ers snoozed through Day 3.
Seattle Seahawks | Snap grade: D+
I laughed out loud when the EDGE LJ Collier pick (1.29) was announced. I fully expected a defensive John Schneider to try to spin to the media that another team wanted to trade for Collier after the pick was made, as he did after the horrifying Rashaad Penny selection. Metcalf and Burr-Kirven were good values.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Snap grade: C-
Devin White was a no-brainer, and EDGE Anthony Nelson (4.107) was great value shopping. The rest of the class was meh for me.
Washington Redskins | Snap grade: A+
It feels weird to love a Redskins class, but Washington crushed it this year. Haskins at 1.15 was such a coup, as was Sweat at 1.26. Also loved the dart-throw on Love, and scooping up possession WR Kelvin Harmon at a clearance price.