By Allan Erickson
Wow……. What an amazing turn of events we had last night. From Mayfield to trade downs, I’ll break each pick down for you, and how they improve their respective teams.
1- Baker Mayfield- QB, Cleveland Browns: Wow, word came out that the Browns were high on Mayfield about 48 hours before draft time. People are already trashing the Browns for, well, being the Browns, and taking a player that many felt was an at best 6th overall pick. However, Mayfield has something that many of the great quarterbacks, past and present posses, and that’s swagger. He had a moxie about him that’s admirable to some, and annoying to others. The Browns have Tyrod Taylor in place, so Baker Mayfield can learn the system, develop some chemistry with his teammates, long before he needs to be inserted into the lineup. In reality, Mayfield should be a Cinderella story for most of America, at least us that don’t hate Oklahoma. He went from junior college, to walk-on at OU, to eventually Heisman trophy winner. This is someone who has the potential to turn the Browns franchise around, and while most had him as the 3rd-4th best quarterback in this draft class, the Browns fell in love, and they got their guy.
2- Saquon Barkley- RB, New York Giants: absolute home run here for the G-Men. A few years ago, the Giants had a great defense, and though it fell off last season, there is still a lot of potential on the defensive side of the ball. The Giants have sured up their offensive line, and added the one thing they’ve been missing since winning 2 Super Bowls- a running game. Barkley is hands down the best player in this draft. He’s the perfect combination of power and speed, he’s an excellent blocker in pass protection, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield like Le’Veon Bell. Best pick of the night, by far, goes to the New York Football Giants.
3- Sam Darnold- QB, New York Jets: The Jets finally found their franchise quarterback, most had Darnold ranked as the top quarterback in this year’s class, and he winds up in the big apple. Darnold has all the potential to stabilize the quarterback position for a franchise that hasn’t had that asset since Vinny Testeverde. There’s one underlying problem with Darnold, he is careless with the ball at times. A year behind Josh McCown or Teddy Bridgewater will do Darnold a lot of good. He can extend plays outside of the pocket, but he needs to work on ball control, and the Jets will finally have a quarterback for the long haul.
4- Denzel Ward- CB, Cleveland Browns: here’s a head scratcher for me. Ward is a solid corner, but the clear pick here would have been pairing last year’s first rounder Myles Garrett with the best edge rusher in this draft. Chubb is a stud, someone who reminds me a lot of Julius Peppers, strong, fast, athletic, and helpful setting the edge in the run game. I like Ward, and the Browns were in desperate need of a cornerback, however; I think they may have missed one here.
5- Denver Broncos- DE, Bradley Chubb: see above praise for Chubb on how I feel about this pick. Now, pair that with Von Miller and you have the most dynamic duo of pass rushers in the NFL. Scary front line for the Broncos, and a great pick by Elway and company.
6- Indianapolis Colts- Guard, Quenton Nelson: the colts were able to pick the best offensive lineman in this draft, and finally get some protection for whoever is playing quarterback for them next season. If it’s Andrew Luck, the colts have a chance to make a quick turnaround in one of the weakest divisions in football. Solid pick here, nothing sexy about it, but this is an old fashion, hogmolly of a football player.
7- Josh Allen QB, Buffalo Bills: there was some controversy earlier in the week with some racist tweets from Josh Allen’s twitter account, and while I’ll never condone racism, he was a stupid 14 year old kid. Now, he gets the chance to play for one of the most loyal fan bases in the NFL. Allen has a rocket of an arm, Brett Favre like style, gunslinger mentality, and a huge passion for the game. He’s got the size and athleticism of Cam Newton, he may need some time to develop, and get used to the elements that playing in Buffalo will bring, but the Bills traded up to get their guy at quarterback.
8- Roquan Smith LB, Chicago Bears: The bears got a steal of a player here. He’s fast, he’s physical, and plays a downhill, run stopping game. He’s also a solid edge rusher, when needed. He’ll need some work in both man-to-man and zone coverage, but the Bears got a 3-down linebacker to add to their young core of talent on the defensive side of the ball.
9- Mike McGlinchey Tackle, San Fransisco 49ers: well, the 9ers signed their quarterback to a long-term deal in the offseason, why not get him some much needed protection. McKinnon was a solid free agent pickup in the backfield, we may see a west coast offense similar to that of Walsh’s in the 80’s and 90’s. McGlinchey is the most polished tackle in this draft, and will probably start on the right side, but eventually will move over and protect Jimmy Garapolo’s blind side for years to come.
10- Josh Rosen QB, Arizona Cardinals: with the departure of Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians, the Cardinals needed to lockup a franchise quarterback for new head coach Steve Wilks. Rosen was projected to be picked in the top 5, so it was a surprise to see him fall this far in the draft, in fact, the Cardinals had to make a trade to get him. Rosen is a grinder, he works tirelessly to perfect his trade, with some patience, this will be a very good pick for the Cardinals.
11- Minkah Fitzpatrick DB, Miami Dolphins: we’re seeing more and more of these hybrid defensive backs having success at the next level. The immediate NFL comparison to Fitzpatrick is a young Thomas Davis, drafted as a safety, in a pinch can stay as a nickel corner or safety, but may see a move to outside linebacker. He is a downhill player who attacks the run game, and plays tight coverage in the back end. Solid pick up for the Fins.
12-Vita Vea DT, Tampa Bay Bucs: in somewhat of a head scratching fashion, the Buccaneers solidified one of the best front 4’s in the NFL. I question the pick because this was the perfect spot for Derwin James to land. However, JPP, Gerald McCoy, Vinny Curry, and Vea form a very formidable front four.
13- Da’Ron Payne DT, Alabama: beefing up the defensive line, a few years ago they did this to the offensive line. The Skins are building a strong front on both sides of the ball. Reuniting Payne with Jonathan Allen is huge, they played together at Alabama, and I look forward to this duo making noise in years to come for Washington.
14- Marcus Davenport DE, New Orleans Saints: Panther fans, such as myself, were really hoping the Saints didn’t pick Lamar Jackson, here. They traded up for this pick, and thankfully, Jackson wasn’t paired with Sean Peyton. However, one NFL executive said that Davenport is a player they’ve had their eyes on for a while, now. And the saints believe this is the guy that takes them to the next level, defensively. Only time will tell.
15- Kolton Miller Tackle, Oakland Raiders: Jon Gruden, in his return, traded down and gained some assets, while drafting the only other tackle worthy of being a first round selection. I’m assuming he’ll start on the right side, then whenever Donald Penn retires, will move over and protect the blindside of Derek Carr. He’s much better in the run game than the pass game, but this guy could develop into a perennial all-pro player. He’s got all the intangibles, just needs more reps.
16- Tremaine Edwards LB, Buffalo Bills: good lord did you see this guy? He looked like a brick wall, oh, and he ran a 4.59 40 yard dash at the combine. The commentators kept referring to him as a “freak” and it didn’t take me long to realize why. The beauty of this pick is Edwards’ versatility. He’s a guy who can rush the passer, stop the run, and drop back into coverage. He’s only 19, so he’s got some maturing to do, but he has the tools to be a generational talent, whatever position he may play at this level.
17- Derwin James Safety, Los Angeles Chargers: how? How in the world a player from DBU with 3 years of solid tape slipped this far down into the first round, I’ll never know. But the chargers should be charged with burglary, because they got the steal of the first round. He can cover, he defends the run, he is a great open-field tackler, and he’ll be a great addition to the Chargers roster.
18- Jaire Alexander CB, Green Bay Packers: lots of potential with this pick. Ball hawking defensive back, who loves contact, and loves to make plays in the run game. The only slight on Alexander is his lack of height. If you watch his tape, you’ll see that sometimes, taller receivers will just go up and snatch the ball out of the air. He’s not a lock-down corner, but he could turn into one for the Packers.
19- Leighton Vander Esch LB, Dallas Cowboys: maybe the most intriguing story of the first round. Here’s a guy who graduated from a high school with 309 other students. He started playing football and there was so little participation that he played 8-on-8 until becoming a walk-on at Boise State. Sean Lee will be a great mentor for this young man, who’s oversized for a linebacker, but is also athletic for his size. He’ll play the middle, and allow Lee to play his regular position, on the outside, and the defense should take a step forward in 2018/2019.
20- Frank Ragnow Center, Detroit Lions: The lions got an extremely versatile interior lineman. He can play center, or either guard position, which is huge to have. He’s a strong guy, very athletic when pulling and getting to the next level. Needs some help in pass protection, but a solid pick for protecting Stanford and helping a run game that continues to struggle.
21- Billy Price Center, Cincinnati Bengals: read the comments above on Ragnow, I feel the exact same way about Price. He’s a little weaker in the run game, but much stronger in pass protection, and has the same versatility to play all three interior lineman positions.
22- Rashaan Evans LB, Tennessee Titans: as the third best defensive player to come out of Alabama, Evans has been overlooked a bit. He’s a guy who has the potential to be an all-pro, but hasn’t shown us much. He was injured in 2016, so he only started for one year at Alabama. But playing that caliber against the SEC gauntlet, earned him a spot in the first round.
23- Isaiah Wynn Tackle, New England Patriots: only have one word for this pick… REACH. The Patriots has 2 first round picks, and took a player most had 2nd to 3rd round draft grades on. Nate Solder left New England, and tackle was a position of need, but they didn’t need to pick Wynn this early in the draft. I’m sure I’m wrong, and Belichick will turn him into an all-pro, though.
24- DJ Moore, Wide Receiver, Carolina Panthers: absolute slam dunk on this pick. The Panthers picked up a vertical threat this offseason in Torrey Smith, they also added Wright as a slot guy, but they needed a second outside wideout opposite Devin Funchess. Any pick Steve Smith endorses, I’ll be happy with.
25- Hayden Hurst Tight End, Baltimore Ravens: not sure here. The ravens traded down twice, sending their fans into a frenzy, and then drafted a tight end they could have gotten in the next round. Not sure what the Ravens were going, but we’ll see how it works out.
26- Calvin Ridley Wide Receiver, Atlanta Falcons: boy oh boy… the rich get richer. No way the Falcons thought Ridley would be available here. Add him to an already explosive offense with Ryan, Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman, you’ve got the absolute best offense in the NFL.
27- Rashaad Penny RB, Seattle Seahawks: well, the Seahawks finally addressed what they’ve been missing since the departure of Marshawn Lynch. But did they take the right back? I like either of the Georgia running backs (Chubb, Michel) here more than Penny. Rashaad is a bruiser, and fits well in the scheme of Pete Carrol’s offense, but I think the Seahawks could have used one of the UGA backs a little better here.
28- Terrell Edmunds Safety, Pittsburgh Steelers: with the departure of Mike Mitchell, the Steelers needed to pick a safety and sure up their secondary. Edmunds is a guy who will come in and compete, likely start day 1, and be a contributor on defense. He’s not an X factor, but he’s someone who’s going to add consistency in the back end for Pittsburgh.
29- Taven Bryan Defensive Tackle, Jacksonville Jaguars: the Jags added a solid interior pass rusher in the first round. His size and strength jump out at you. He’s surprisingly athletic, and he’ll join forces with an already stout defensive line. Look for Jacksonville to remain in the top-5 defensively, and perhaps make another run deep in the postseason.
30- Mike Hughes CB, Minnesota Vikings: the Vikings added a corner to play opposite of Xavier Rhodes. Hughes needs to become better with his hands, not letting receivers get free releases off the ball will be huge for him at the next level. He joins a very physical secondary, a place he can learn how to play a little more physical. He has underrated ball skills, and can make plays when the game is on the line.
31- Sony Michel RB, New England Patriots: great pick here from Bill and company. Michel is a powerful runner, with much less wear and tear on his body than most college running backs have, due to splitting carries with Nick Chubb at Georgia. He’s a tough, hard nosed runner, who can catch the ball out of the backfield, and make big plays between the tackles.
32- Lamar Jackson QB, Baltimore Ravens: what a pick at 32. To get a former Heisman trophy winner at the bottom of the last round is a steal. This is someone who can take Joe Flacco’s job as early as this season. Flacco hasn’t been any good for some time now, and it may be time to put a new face as the quarterback for the Ravens. Jackson impresses everywhere on tape, and he’s such a great athlete, that the Ravens will be able to find ways to get him involved in games, even when Flacco is playing.
That sums up day 1 of the NFL draft. What a night, and a dream come true for these young gentleman. Rounds 2 and 3 tomorrow, until then, Allan Erickson signing off.