There is no drama like live sports. The NFL has done an incredible job of marketing its amateur draft, because that concept now firmly applies to an event that realistically could be pulled off with no fan attendees or television coverage. In fact, for a long time that was the case. It’s a spectacle now though, and we were treated to some spectacular moments on Day 1 of the 2019 draft.
There had rumors for a few days that the New York Giants were interested in Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. It’s anyone’s guess as to why, but that rumor was out there.
And then the mad lads actually took him.
With the sixth overall pick, the Giants took a quarterback from Duke who had never been as much as an honorable mention all-ACC selection. As with most draft picks, he seems like a good enough guy and you root for him to find success in his career. But for a team with about a thousand holes and a glaring quarterback issue, reaching for maybe the fourth-best passer in the draft is going to be remembered forever.
Clemson EDGE Clelin Ferrell coming off the board at No. 4 to the Oakland Raiders was easily the biggest early curveball of the draft. He’s a good scheme fit for Oakland’s 4-3 base defense and has been highly regarded as a prospect for some time. However, with arguably the second-best EDGE still available in Kentucky’s Josh Allen, it was certainly a surprising pick.
Like always, a couple moves seemed to come out of nowhere. Nobody expected the Green Bay Packers to take Michigan EDGE Rashan Gary at No. 12 overall, and Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard to the Houston Texans may have stunned some (mostly because of his alma mater). But the Raiders going full Raiders set the tone for a wild day.
Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins was rated by some analysts as the best quarterback in the draft, which made it fairly stunning he was third one taken. Kyler Murray wasn’t a surprise, while Jones was, but the Washington Redskins aren’t complaining after their quarterback of the future fell right into their lap with the 15th pick. The Redskins traded back into the first round to grab Mississippi State EDGE Montez Sweat with the 26th pick, making this a sensational day for Washington (you could make that argument that a good day for the Redskins was the biggest surprise).
Nothing tops lucking into Haskins though, who probably should have gone sixth overall to the Giants. Now New York will get to face him twice a year for the foreseeable future, I’m sure Dave Gettleman won’t regret that. Dan Snyder came out of this first round looking good, what a time to be alive.
See “Biggest moment.”
A couple teams are going to get starting-caliber offensive tackles in the second round after Florida’s Jawaan Taylor and Oklahoma’s Cody Ford somehow weren’t taken in the first 32 picks. Taylor was often mocked in the top 10 leading up to the draft, making him arguably the biggest sliding prospect. Watch for Arizona to make a play for one of them with the first pick of the second round.
Defensively, both Byron Murphy from Washington and Greedy Williams from LSU were ranked as the top cornerback in the class at some point during the pre-draft process, and now both are still available in the second round.
And we can’t forget Drew Lock, who was projected as high as a top-10 pick and constantly as a first rounder at some point. He’s still available, and there a couple teams in the first half of the second round (i.e. the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals) who could look at him as their quarterback of the future, something both teams are in the market for.
The Raiders didn’t necessarily get the best value for their picks in the first round, but they still filled some needs with their three selections. Ferrell is a good player who immediately helps an anemic pass rush, though until he racks up big numbers on the field there will be questions about whether or not Oakland should have taken Josh Allen instead.
With the 24th selection the Raiders took Alabama running back Josh Jacobs. On the plus side, he’s the best running back in the class and fills a need, considering Oakland’s running backs corps is mostly just some guys. But are you really maximizing your team’s potential by taking a running back in the first round? Then, at 27, the Raiders took safety Johnathan Abram from Mississippi State. They need secondary help, and while corner was a bigger positional need they just had to get a playmaker somehow.
It’s hard to know exactly what the plan was for Denver on Thursday. With the 10th pick, Dwayne Haskins was on the board and would have been a sensible pick, even an obvious one. Instead, the Broncos traded back 10 spots and took Iowa tight end Noah Fant instead. Fant is an excellent athlete and an instant pass-catching threat, but if the Broncos don’t end up getting Lock and subsequently a long-term plan at quarterback, this will seem like a bizarre set of circumstances.
The Chargers had just one selection in the first round and stood pat at No. 28, and they came away with a quality player. Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery is coming to Los Angeles, a beast of a defensive lineman whose good is great but was known who occasionally go AWOL while in college. It was a smart, steady pick for L.A., shoring up the defensive interior and further establishing itself as the best defense in the division.