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Looking Back at the First Round of the NFL Draft

The first round of the NFL draft got real weird, real quick. Who had the best drafts? Who had the worst drafts? The sleepers, the steals, the trades, and more.

Chicago Draft Town by SwimFinFan is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Looking Back at the First Round of the NFL Draft

Estimated Reading Time: 12 Minutes

The first round of the NFL draft wasted no time in providing us some shockers for picks. The first one coming at the fourth pick by the Raiders. Hey, they promised us a surprise pick, and boy they gave it to us.

But that’s not even the half of it. The draft continued to provide us more surprises, and while this draft included a lot of linemen and defense, it was one of the more entertaining drafts to watch. I seldom stay up to watch the first round in its entirety each year, but this time I stayed up right until the last pick made by the defending Super Bowl Champions, New England Patriots.

Here are some of my initial thoughts and reactions from the first round:

The Raiders Threw Us a Curveball with Their First Pick, But it Wasn’t a Bad One

Clelin Ferrell? Did not see that coming. As I had predicted in my Mock Draft 2.0, the Raiders were going to throw us an absolute curveball for the fourth overall pick. But it was not who I was expecting, and quite frankly, it’s not a bad pick. Ferrell, to me, has first-round talent and could have gone anywhere between 10th and 15th on the board in my opinion. The Raiders needed a pass rusher and they got one. Now, will he be a Khalil Mack replacement? I’m not so sure; time will tell.

The Raiders Actually Didn’t Have a Bad Draft

Again, the Ferrell pick is shocking, but it’s not a bad pick. The Raiders also desperately needed a running back and they got the only RB who has been buzzed about and could be a first-round talent in this draft: Josh Jacobs.

Oakland might have gotten away with waiting until their second-round pick to draft him, but nevertheless they needed an RB big time and they got one. Marshawn Lynch retired, and all their other running backs are free agents. With their last pick in the first round, the Raiders rightfully made an addition to their secondary, and probably got the best or second-best safety in the draft in Johnathan Abram out of Mississippi State. Really not a bad night at all for Oakland.

The Absolute Worst Pick of the Draft Was Daniel Jones at Sixth Overall

What is Dave Gettleman doing? Unless Jones turns out to be a great quarterback, this is such a mind-boggling, stubborn, and terrible pick. I don’t even think Daniel Jones is a top three or four QB coming out of this draft. I’m serious, and they picked him SIXTH OVERALL. Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, Will Grier are all quarterbacks I would have taken ahead of Jones.

If I had to come up with a quarterback power ranking from this draft it would look like this:

  1. Dwayne Haskins
  2. Will Grier
  3. Kyler Murray
  4. Drew Lock
  5. Daniel Jones (maybe?)

They had the option of selecting either a much better quarterback prospect in Dwayne Haskins, or Josh Allen who had 17 sacks last year for Kentucky. But instead Jones is taken; who had a 59% completion rate at Duke in the ACC, and threw for 14 touchdowns to 11 interceptions in his second year. Jones had 52 touchdown passes in three seasons at Duke. Dwayne Haskins threw for 50 touchdowns IN A SEASON and in the Big 10.

Daniel Jones also had 29 interceptions in three seasons at Duke. Remember, you don’t play as many games in college than you do in the NFL. Throwing 29 touchdowns in three years of college ball is a lot…it’s not great. And the worst part about this is Jones was most likely going to be available at the 17th pick, and the Giants could have taken him then.

Giants, Packers, Falcons Had the Worst Drafts

After unbelievably taking Daniel Jones at sixth overall, the Giants used their second pick in the first round they got as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade and selected defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. Again, what are you doing Gettleman? Lawrence is a solid player, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not what the Giants need right now. And while I think Lawrence can be a good player, he was taken too high. He’s a borderline first-round pick, and instead of getting a pass rusher which the Giants really need, they got more of a run-stuffer. Lawrence was taken way too high. This is who you traded OBJ and took a major cap hit for?

Deandre Baker Was the Best Pick; But Giants Gave Up Way Too Much

The best pick the Giants made all night was at 30th when they selected Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker. I think Baker can be really good. But was it worth the price the Giants paid? They gave up their early second-round pick (37th), a fourth-round pick, and a fifth-round pick to get the 30th pick in the first round?

Giants Way Ahead of Their Picks’ Projections

Baker may not even pan out to be the best CB in this draft, but I do have a lot of faith in him becoming a great player in the league. He was arguably the best cornerback in the SEC last year. I just think, again, at the 37th pick Baker could still have been available for the Giants to select. I like the pick, but I don’t like the price that was paid. Just an awful draft night for the G-Men, and I sort of feel like Dave Gettleman is a guy who really doesn’t have a plan for things, and just flies by the seat of his pants.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers did not have a good draft either. I think Rashan Gary, especially with his shoulder injury, is a risky pick at 12th overall. He has the talent, but will he stay healthy? I could be wrong but this pick has bust written all over it. Very feast or famine pick at 12th. There are some guys who have really good college careers, and then they get to the league and they become a bit overwhelmed. That’s what I’m afraid of here – I’m not a fan of this pick.

Then the Packers traded up nine spots to take Darnell Savage Jr., safety out of Maryland. I didn’t quite get this. Green Bay must really like this kid, because I do not think he’s a first-round safety.

Packers Got a Safety, But Did They Get the Right One

There were plenty of other safeties I would have taken ahead of Savage Jr. – I could probably count FIVE. Trading up nine spots, and two fourth-round picks to get a Day 2 safety who could have even been available in the third round is not a smart move in my opinion. I get that the Packers need a safety, but this is a major head-scratcher and a major reach for me.

Defense, Defense, and Defense

It’s just odd to me that the Packers, who practically went all defense in last year’s draft, went all defense here again, when they clearly need help on their offensive line. They do know that their quarterback is Aaron Rodgers, right? And that he makes A LOT of money? I am not quite sure what the Packers are doing, and to me, it really is starting to seem like they are wasting the talent of Rodgers, and that’s a shame. This is a guy who I feel like should have at least two Super Bowls on his resume, but the Packers can’t even get into the playoffs nowadays. I’m ok with them not taking a receiver in the first round, but I am not ok with them not taking any o-line help.

Atlanta Falcons

And finally, the Atlanta Falcons are the third team who I thought did not have a good draft. Chris Lindstrom…I like the kid…I think he can be decent…but he was taken way too high. I had Lindstrom going 23rd in my mock draft. He went 14th. Then the Falcons traded up with the Rams and took another offensive lineman in Kaleb McGary, who I think is a Day 2 guy.

I get that the Falcons want to protect Matt Ryan. But I don’t quite understand the double down at o-line when YOUR DEFENSE WAS ONE OF THE WORST IN THE LEAGUE LAST SEASON, and this draft is LOADED with top talent on the defensive side of the ball. It’s like if my dog needed dog food, and I walked into PetSmart and got a squeaky toy instead.

I think I get what the Falcons are doing, I just don’t know if it’s a good plan this early in the first round.

And by the way, here are some defensive playmakers the Falcons passed on at 14th overall:

Brian Burns, DE, Florida State

Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame

Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

Jachai Polite, DE, Florida

I would have been totally fine with the Falcons taking any of those players at 14th.

The Texans’ Pick Is Odd, but at Least They Address Their Biggest Need

I wasn’t expecting Tytus Howard to go this high. But the Texans desperately needed o-line help. Deshaun Watson was sacked 62 times last season – the most of any QB in the league. While Howard seems more like a Day 2 guy, I do believe however that he is better than most people think, and at least the Texans know what their biggest needs are. So, odd pick, but not all that bad. It at least makes sense.

Redskins, Vikings, Chargers, Had the Best Drafts

Washington killed it. They didn’t even have to move up the board and Dwayne Haskins fell right into their laps. The Redskins needed a quarterback and they probably got the best one in the draft. Its funny to me that the quarterback who the Giants should have taken at sixth overall goes to their divisional foe. Now the Giants will have to live with facing a very motivated Haskins twice a year for the next decade. Wow.

Then the Redskins, who needed help at pass rusher, made a reasonable trade up with the Colts to take Montez Sweat, who I think will be an immediate impact player. I had Sweat going 16th in my mock draft and he went 26th. Redskins needed a QB – they got one. They needed a pass-rusher – they got one. Bravo Washington…a very good draft.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings desperately needed o-line help, and they probably got the best interior offensive lineman in the draft. I think Garrett Bradbury will be very good. The Vikings had one pick to make but I think they literally made the best pick they could have made. I am GLAD they did not take a receiver or tight end instead. Vikings stayed true to their biggest needs – they did what they needed to do and I applaud them for it.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers made a great pick at 28th overall. I paid a lot of attention to Notre Dame football this year, and this dude Jerry Tillery can really play. Yes, the Chargers need o-line help too, but they also really needed a quality defensive tackle and they got one. Tillery will start right away – great pick.

The Ultimate Sleeper Pick

I think L.J. Collier, the defensive end out of TCU, will be the best first-round pick no one will have ever heard of. He is sneaky good and a great fit for that Seattle defense. Collier will be a surprise, you watch. Big time sleeper pick.

The Ultimate Steal Pick of the Night

Mainly because of the shocking picks by Oakland and New York, the Jaguars cannot believe they managed to take Josh Allen at SEVENTH overall in the draft. There was no way Jacksonville was passing on Allen here. An absolute steal. I mean the Redskins’ picks were good steals, but this blows my mind. Allen could be the best player in this entire draft.

Steelers and Patriots Know What They’re Doing

Say what you want about the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they usually know what they’re doing.

At very first glance, I liked the Steelers trading up to get Devin Bush, but the more I look at it and think about the move, I LOVE what the Steelers did. They clearly needed help at linebacker, and Devin Bush could arguably be the best one in the draft.

The Nice Thing About Picking a Linebacker

The Steelers are smart…they pay attention. With guys in their division such as Lamar Jackson, Nick Chubb, Mark Ingram, Joe Mixon, and David Njoku, getting a quality linebacker in the middle is a great way to counter the play of the aforementioned AFC North players. I think Bush is a great fit…he’s got tremendous speed…and really the Steelers didn’t give up that much to get him if you think about it. They only gave up their late first-round pick, their second-round pick which was also LATE, and a future THIRD-round pick in 2020. Really not bad at all, and I think Bush is an immediate impact player.

The Steelers Trade Was Fair

The Steelers don’t have a second-round pick now, but they do have two third-round picks; one of them being the second overall pick in that round. So, in the grand scheme of things, I think it was a fair trade up the board for the Steelers to get an immediate impact player on defense, and address their need at linebacker too. You also gotta love them moving up right in front of their rival, Bengals, and taking a player who Cincinnati would have loved to have selected.

And the last two times the Steelers made a big trade to move up the draft board in the first round – they took Santonio Holmes, a Super Bowl MVP, and a guy named Troy Polamalu…you might have heard of him.

Patriots Pick Receiver First

Patriots fans, relax. I’ve already heard a handful of Patriots fans rip on their first-round pick taking Arizona State receiver, N’Keal Harry.

Do you really doubt Bill Belichick?

The Patriots have never taken a wide receiver in the first round in franchise history, and they also have not had much success drafting receivers either. But I really like N’Keal Harry. I actually had him going 30th to the Packers in my mock draft. I think Harry is taken right about where he should be taken…he’s strong…has good hands…hard-worker…and I think he could very well be a top-3 receiver to come out of this draft. I’m serious. And if he wasn’t, I don’t think Belichick and the Patriots would have taken him in the first round. New England has a ton of draft picks this year…they could use another receiver…and I’d say they got a pretty good one.

You can rip on this pick all you want, but the Patriots always know what their doing. When it comes to a lot of things football, I never have doubted a decision made by the Patriots, EVER. Trust your team Patriots fans – they’re almost always right.

Two Great Franchises

The Steelers and Patriots are very smart organizations…they know what they’re doing. You think it’s a coincidence they’re tied for the most Super Bowl wins in NFL history?

A lot of talent left on the board, so the next couple days at the Draft should be good!

Matt lives in Newnan, Georgia but was born and raised in Upstate New York. He is a fan of the New York Yankees, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Boston Celtics. At the collegiate level, he is a Notre Dame and Syracuse fan (yeah he can root for both, and what?!) He must, however, find a soccer team to root for. So him out there. All suggestions are welcome. You can catch Matt on the Turf mostly covering NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football and Basketball, and Horse Racing (that is not a typo, he practically grew up on a racetrack). It's nothing's strictly sports.

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