Last night the first round of the NFL draft, completed following all social distancing guidelines, went off without a hitch. It was a meaningful live sporting event on TV. And it was great! I have to give the NFL an A for putting on a smooth (albeit a bit long) production. It almost felt like normal. Almost.
This edition of the draft was touted as being deep in O-linemen and receivers, with a good mix of can’t miss stalwart defensive players. How did each team fare last night? Let me get out my red marking pen and play teacher.
Teams that did not have a pick in the 1st round: Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots.
ARIZONA CARDINALS: 8th pick. LB, Isaiah Simmons, Clemson. GRADE: B+
I would like to have seen the Cardinals take an offensive lineman here to give added protection for Kyler Murray and open some holes for the run game. Nevertheless, Isaiah Simmons stands to be a tremendous asset, especially in coverage. Cards are going to be a factor in 2020.
ATLANTA FALCONS: 16th pick. CB, A. J. Terrell, Clemson. GRADE: B-
The Falcons used this pick to fill a need at CB, but I feel there were better players available. At worst they could have traded down a few spots and still got a CB and added picks. That hurts the grade. I like the player though. He should be able to step in and be productive as he adjusts to the pro game. Maybe 10 or so spots too high.
BALTIMORE RAVENS: 28th pick. LB, Patrick Queen, LSU. GRADE: B+
I thought the Patriots would have taken Queen, but they traded out of the 1st round. Queen is a fast versatile LB who can can do pretty much everything from the position. The Ravens were thin at LB last year, and adding Patrick Queen in this spot is a solid pick.
CAROLINA PANTHERS: 7th pick. DT, Derrick Brown, Auburn. GRADE: A
I felt Derrick Brown was the best defensive player in this draft not named Chase Young. A strong massive defensive player who disrupts the line of scrimmage, he will fit in well in Carolina.
CINCINNATI BENGALS: 1st pick. QB, Joe Burrow, LSU. GRADE: A+
The Bengals did exactly what everyone knew they would. They get an A+ for the player, not so much for what got them there. Every indication points to Burrow being a future star in the NFL. He has Ohio roots and is also a great person off the field. There will be some growing pains in a city that has not played a playoff game since 1991. Joe Burrow was born in 1996.
CLEVELAND BROWNS: 10th pick. OT, Jedrick Wills, Alabama. GRADE: A
I’m not being a very harsh teacher, but his is great pick for the Browns. They didn’t jump to try and grab a WR too early and got one of (if not the) best lineman in this class. The Browns need a left tackle, and Wills might be the most ready to fill that role without starting on the right side for a year.
DALLAS COWBOYS: 17th pick. WR, CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma. GRADE: A
A lot of good draft students! CeeDee was the best WR in this draft, if you asked me. He fell into the laps of the Cowboys and they did a great job taking the best value here. The Dallas offence should be among the most potent in the Conference next year.
DENVER BRONCOS: 15th pick. WR, Jerry Jeudy, Alabama. GRADE: B+
The Broncos get a tremendous receiver in Jeudy, but take a hit on the card for passing on Lamb. Still they get exactly what they wanted in a wideout who can step in and play right away. Along with Courtland Sutton, Drew Lock should be a happier QB this season.
DETROIT LIONS: 3rd pick. CB, Jeff Okudah, Ohio State. GRADE: A
Hard to fault the Lions in any way here. They traded Darius Slay after the 2019 season and get the best corner in this draft, at a fraction of the price.
GREEN BAY PACKERS: 26th pick. QB, Jordan Love, Utah State. GRADE: C-
I like Jordan Love, and there are a number of teams I think he would be a good fit on. I just don’t think that team is a team with Aaron Rodgers at QB. Sure he is 36, but also he is 36. You need pieces to win with one of the games best QB’s right now. The fact that they traded up to do it is further puzzling.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: 9th pick and 20th. CB, CJ Henderson, Florida and LB, K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU. GRADE: A
The Jags snagged CJ Henderson with the number 9 pick, a necessary move after trading away disgruntled CB Jalen Ramsey. With the number 20 pick they got a great pick in K’Lavon Chaisson who should be able help the Jags pass rush in the years to come.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: 32nd pick. RB, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LUS. GRADE: B
I thought the Chiefs would take a RB here…just not this one. I had him rated as the 3rd best back in the draft. Perhaps they know more than I do in KC (likely) but I think the general consensus is there were better running backs available. Still a decent selection at 32.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: 12th pick and 19th pick. WR, Henry Ruggs, Ohio State and CB Damon Arnette, Ohio State. GRADE: C
A couple of strange picks in good positions here. Ruggs is lightning fast receiver who can stretch out a defence. Just he was likely the 3rd ranked WR. No doubt he is a game breaker and still not too bad of a pick. Arnette is a bit of a head scratcher. There were a number of CB’s I (and most) had ahead of him here. Time will tell if these were genius moves. For now, they get a well earned c.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: 6th pick and 23rd pick. QB, Justin Herbert, Oregon and LB, Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma. GRADE: B
I like the Chargers picking up Herbert who has potential to be a high end starter. I just think the 6th pick was high. Could have traded down and still got him. They traded up to get Kenneth Murray which was a strong move, but cost them a second and a third. I don’t believe there will be a player of his caliber in the 2nd or 3rd, so all in all not too bad. Just not great.
MIAMI DOLPHINS: 5th pick, 18th pick and 30th pick. QB, Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama, OT, Austin Jackson, USC; CB, Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn. GRADE: B+
I like everything the Dolphins did here including trading down 4 spots to pick up an additional 4th. In Austin Jackson they got the best lineman available at there spot and a solid corner in Igbinoghene at number 30. I don’t hate the Tua pick, I just think they might have been better off riding Fitzmagic and Rosen and getting in on the tank for Lawrence. This may happen anyway. A bit of a risk with Tua, but has potential to be a star.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS: 22nd pick and 31st pick. WR, Justin Jefferson, LSU and CB, Jeff Gladney, TCU. GRADE: A+
The Vikings made away like bandits in the 1st round, getting the best WR available at #22 in Justin Jefferson who will fill the gaping hole at WR2 left by Diggs. They also traded down 5 spots and picked up and additional 4th and 6th round pick and STILL managed to get their man in CB Jeff Gladney. Filled two huge needs with quality picks and a couple more lottery tickets for later. SKOL!
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: 24th pick. C, Cesar Ruiz, Michigan. GRADE: B+
The best center in the draft (who says he was born to play center) Ruiz might get a look at guard in New Orleans. I hope he gets to play the position he was born to play, but a solid pickup for the Saints.
NEW YORK GIANTS: 4th pick. OL, Andrew Thomas, Georgia. GRADE: A
Getting arguably the best lineman in a deep and strong linemen draft is always a good thing. Will be a big help for Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.
NEW YORK JETS: 11th pick. OL, Mekhi Becton, Louisville. GRADE: B+
Mekhi Becton is a monster. 6-7 and 360lbs and a tremendous athlete to boot. He needs a bit of refinement and put the work in to become the player worthy of this high a pick, but he has all the tools and as the old saying goes, “you can’t teach size”.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: 21st pick. WR, Jalen Reagor, TCU. GRADE: B-
Jalen Reagor is a very good wide receiver prospect and should translate into a pretty good NFL player. BUT, there were a number of receivers that appear to be rated better and had better combine numbers as well. They must have seen something most didn’t, but I think this pick could have been had in the 2nd.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: 14th pick and 25th pick. DT, Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina; WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State. GRADE: B
This started off as a very promising draft as the 49ers traded down one spot and picked up a 4th rounder from Tampa Bay and got an excellent DT in Kinlaw. They then went ahead and traded that pick away, plus a 6th to move up and take WR Brandon Aiyuk at 25. There were better receivers on the board.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: 27th pick. LB, Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech. GRADE: B
Nothing remarkable here. Brooks is a good linebacker most projected into the 2nd round. He is coming off of shoulder surgery so I bit of a risky pick especially in the 1st.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: 13th pick. OL, Tristan Wirfs, Iowa. GRADE: B+
Wirfs is and all-out animal and is a great pick for the Bucs here. He will anchor this line for years to come. They just didn’t need to give up a 4th to move up one spot. Cost them the A.
TENNESSEE TITANS: 29th pick. OL, Isaiah Wilson, Georgia. GRADE: B
A pretty good offensive lineman, but I think he is more of a 2nd rounder and had a couple OLs ahead of him here. Still a nice piece to help that ground and pound running game in Tennessee.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS: 2nd pick. EDGE, Chase Young, Ohio State. GRADE: A+
The best defensive player in the draft and many felt the best player in the draft. ANOTHER defensive stud for the Redskins line. Chase Young is an elite talent. This defensive front will be scary. Secondary? Not so much. But this will be a fun group to watch. Meet you at the quarterback!