With the draft in the rearview mirror, who nailed it? Who blew it? And who left us scratching our heads?
With the lingering doubt that Alex Smith will ever play again, Washington NEEDED to find their quarterback of the future in this draft. Somehow, Washington waited around until pick number fifteen, and the most pro-ready QB was still on the board. Dwayne Haskins threw for fifty touchdowns last year at Ohio State. Fifty. As in 5-0. He’s a risk taker who will push the ball down the field. But he’s not careless, he threw only eight interceptions. If he can learn on the fly and continue to make good decisions, he can very easily be the best signal caller in this draft. Not bad for the middle of the round.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers didn’t have a lot of obvious needs. They were a very well-rounded team that was only a few pieces away from a deep playoff run. With their first pick at number twenty-eight overall, they probably weren’t expecting to see Jerry Tillery still on the board. Considered by many to be a top ten pick, Tillery is a top flight interior lineman who just slid down the board because of the glut of talent at EDGE and DE. The Notre Dame product is very versatile and will make an immediate impact on an already good team.
New England Patriots
It can be hard to grade out Patriot draft picks, as they tend to ignore measurables in favor of more abstract concepts like coachability, game intelligence and versatility. That being said, they did a lot to address need in this year’s draft. Using the last pick in the first round to grab N’Keal Harry from ASU will give New England a solid WR 1. He’s a big guy who can elevate for the ball, and he’s drawing comparisons to Dez Bryant. But the real steal for me is the third-round selection of Michigan edge rusher Chase Winovich. The tape on this guy is crazy. He’s equal parts Clay Matthews and Lattimer from “The Program” (ok, hopefully without the PEDs). He’s an absolute monster who gets after quarterbacks with one of the highest motors I’ve ever seen. He could very well make life a living hell for QBs in the AFC East for years.
John Elway ain’t scared. I’ll give him that. After scuffling around with Case Keenum last year, Denver brought in veteran signal caller Joe Flacco from Baltimore. Flacco is a strong pocket passer who can move the ball downfield. He’s also thirty-four. The prevailing wisdom was that Elway saw the future in Missouri QB Drew Lock. So, when Denver picked coveted Iowa TE Noah Fant with the twentieth pick, they raised a few eyebrows. Almost everyone had Lock going to Denver, including us. He did. Eventually. Denver waited until the second of their back to back picks (9-10) in the second round. His upside is palpable, and I’m guessing that Elway sees some of himself in the young man.
So, a few things of note. First, the Raiders sent all their scouting home as the draft approached. Not sure if paranoia set in for coach Gruden, but if you’re going to do a super-secret strategy, wouldn’t you expect them to you know… do something? Instead, they use the fourth overall pick to grab Clelin Ferrell. Good player. I had the Raiders taking him. With their third pick, 24th overall. The Raiders clearly have a road map going forward, because they passed over a host of players that graded out higher than Ferrell to bring him in. I’m not saying that he won’t be a good player. I think he will. I just think Oakland could have had him further down the board.
Only time will tell, but I have a bad feeling about Kyler Murray. Russell Wilson is the exception that proves the rule, not the new mold for quarterbacks in the NFL. Murray’s evasiveness is impressive, and the guy is a winner at the college level, but I see too much Johnny Manziel in his game. Add that to the fact that Arizona traded a way a host of picks to move up for Josh Rosen last year, only to trade him away for peanuts to Miami and you’ve got some colossal draft capital mismanagement. The Cardinals aren’t even close to contending this year, and Murray isn’t enough to fix that. It’s not going to help that he will be thrown into the lion’s den. They should have traded back for as many picks as that number one could have gotten them. As it stands, I still see them in the basement of the NFC West, unless someone’s quarterback goes down.
New York Giants
They swore up and down that they were taking the best available player. Repeated it. Constantly. Like the Cardinals, the Giants have a lot of holes to fill, so using the sixth pick in the draft to take Daniel Jones, who was (maybe) the fourth-best QB available was…just weird. Funny enough, we had the Giants taking Jones, at seventeen over all. He’s got a good frame, and we’ll give him some benefit of the doubt for throwing to a cast of characters who won’t be playing on Sundays, but the overwhelming odds are that Jones would have been available later. At sixth-overall, it’s a miss for me, unless he unseats Eli Manning before the end of the year.
What happened with D.K. Metcalf? One of the biggest combine crushers, the Ole Miss wide receiver looked poised to go no later than the middle of the first round. Falling to Seattle at the end of round two looks like a steal.
Same question for Greedy Williams. I had him in the top twenty overall so seeing him fade into the second round was downright shocking.
Why didn’t the Patriots draft a tight end? My guess is that Belichick and company know that trying to fit a square peg into a Gronk-sized hole won’t work.
Photo courtesy of NFL.com