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NFL Draft Grades: Grading all 32 picks in the first round

Why wait to find out if they’re good? Instant reaction. Grading every single pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

NCAA Football: Wyoming at Iowa
Noah Fant got an A.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

So this will be one of those posts we look back on and laugh in a couple seasons, but here’s my best attempt to give you my thoughts on the picks as they come in. This should go without saying but it’s near impossible to accurately predict the human element so guys could always get injured or wash out.

That said, it’s fun to evaluate the process. My grade is based on three things.

  1. The opportunity cost of the pick.
  2. Does it fit a short or long term need?
  3. What I think of the player.

So let’s get started.

1. Arizona Cardinals - Kyler Murray - QUARTERBACK

I’ve had Murray as number one forever. Most people have. I thought someone may trade up and Steve Keim would be tempted by a haul, but in the end he gives Kliff Kingsbury an exceptional fit for his new offense. I had the Oklahoma Sooner as my top overall QB. Murray is riskier than number 1 overall picks in previous years because the baseball question, his size, and just one year starting in college. Then you consider the Rosen factor.

Joe’s Grade: B

2. San Francisco 49ers - Nick Bosa - EDGE

This pick was boring, but had to happen. For all the investment San Fran has in their defensive line they still could use more edge rushers. Bosa should combine with Dee Ford and DeForest Buckner to help Robert Saleh’s defense nasty, so long as he can stay healthy.

Joe’s Grade: B

3. The New York Jets - Quinnen Williams - DEFENSIVE LINE

The best player in the draft falls to 3. Gregg Williams now has Leonard Williams and Quinnen Williams. If I had one complaint about this pick it’s that there are far too many Williams’ in New York. The most valuable building block to any defense is interior pressure. If you remember my predictive mock, I thought the Jets would trade down and go offense to help Darnold. In the end they couldn’t get enough value and went with the BPA. That’s the smart move.

Joe’s Grade: A+

4. Oakland Raiders - Clelin Ferrell - EDGE

Ferrell is a good fit for the Raiders 4-3 scheme and he’s a decent player, but I did not think he was a top 5 prospect. Maybe Mayock saw the National Championship and disagreed as the Clemson Tiger did give Jonah Williams fits early on. I personally think this has a decent chance of busting. Ferrell does not scream top tier edge rusher with his 4.4 Short Shuttle and 7.26 3 Cone Drill. He also comes from a D-line with more talent than the Raiders’ one. It’s riskier than some will tell you and at the end of the day this pick feels pretty rich given the opportunity cost.

Joe’s Grade: D

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Devin White - LINEBACKER

This pick seemed predestined if White could make it past the Raiders. That doesn’t make it a bad pick. White was the number 3 player on my Broncos Board and I think he’ll be a day 1 starter and impact player in Todd Bowles defense. The only complaint I could feasibly throw out is the positional value isn’t as good as an edge or QB, but we’re entering an NFL where 3 down backers make C.J. Mosley money. This makes sense.

Joe’s Grade: A

6. New York Giants - Daniel Jones - QUARTERBACK

Raise your hand if you had Daniel Jones as your QB2. I had him behind Brett Rypien.

Joe’s Grade: F

7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Josh Allen - EDGE

As I said when I predicted this yesterday, it makes a lot of sense.

Joe’s Grade: B

8. Detroit Lions - T.J. Hockenson - TIGHT END

I like Hock a lot and this fit makes a lot of sense for the Lions. Matt Stafford is the kind of quarterback that will surely benefit from a sure handed intermediate target. Matt Patricia will definitely be happy to have a tight end that can neatly fit into the identity as a run first O he is trying to build. They just also had some pretty serious needs so tight end here seems pretty rich.

Joe’s Grade: C+

9. Buffalo Bills - Ed Oliver - DEFENSIVE LINE

I think he winds up as one of the best two picks in this entire draft.

Joe’s Grade: A+

10. Pittsburgh Steelers - Devin Bush - LINEBACKER

Up until 10 minutes before I posted my Day 1 Big Board I had Devin Bush as my LB1. I think that highly of him. He fits what the Steelers D needs out of their backers and will add a ton of speed to the second level for them.

Joe’s Grade: A

11. Cincinatti Bengals - Jonah Williams - OFFENSIVE LINE

He’s the best lineman in this class, should be a starter on day 1, and should stick in the league until his body starts to fail him. Is he a tackle? Is he a guard? He would have played inside in Denver, but the Bengals just paid Bobby Hart, that line is a mess.

Joe’s Grade: A

12. Green Bay Packers - Rashan Gary - DEFENSIVE LINE

I did not realize how much I didn’t like Gary until I was talking with Tim Lynch on the Mile High Report Stream last night. I think he’s a good fit in the Mike Pettine defense. I just think this was really rich for him. Every time I watched Michigan’s D last year I noticed Bush, or David Long, or Chase Winovich. Every once in awhile Gary showed up. Green Bay grabbed an athlete and hope he can develop into an NFL lineman. We’ll see.

Joe’s Grade: D

13. Miami Dolphins - Christian Wilkins - DEFENSIVE LINE

If Gary is the athlete learning to be an NFL defensive lineman, Wilkins is the quintessential NFL lineman. He’s also a pretty darn good athlete. I expected Miami to go offensive line here because that fin line is baaaaad, but Wilkins start day 1 and should grow into a solid starter that can play all over Brian Flores defense.

Joe’s Grade: B

14. Atlanta Falcons - Chris Lindstrom - OFFENSIVE LINE

Secretly the Atlanta Falcons are a playoff contender in 2019. They need better interior line play if they’re going to make it. Jamon Brown and James Carpenter shouldn’t be starting for the Houston Texans. This is a bit high for Lindstrom but he’ll step in day 1 and make a big impact.

Joe’s Grade: B

15. Washington - Dwayne Haskins - QUARTERBACK

Before the Flacco trade I thought Case Keenum would have been the perfect bridge quarterback as he’s the kind of A+ dude who will serve as a great mentor even once he’s lost his job. Combined with the fact that Jay Gruden’s offense is probably the best scheme fit out there for Dwayne Haskins and I really like this pick. I have no faith in Snyder to properly build around him though.

Joe’s Grade: A

16. Carolina Panthers - Brian Burns - EDGE

If the Oakland Raiders would have picked Burns at 4 I would have still given them a better grade. I think Burns floor is lower, but his ceiling is much higher than Ferrells. All of the things that the Clemson Tiger disappointed in Burns aced and he’s a stupid good edge bender. He’s a bit risky and should be a situational edge rusher year 1, but this pick makes a lot of sense and the potential is there.

Joe’s Grade: B

17. New York Giants - Dexter Lawrence - DEFENSIVE LINE

I love DLaw more than most. I did not think he was a top 20 player in this draft. Love the player, hate the opportunity cost. Classic Gettleman.

Joe’s Grade: D

18. Minnesota Vikings - Garrett Bradbury - OFFENSIVE LINE

I predicted this one and think it’s a hand in glove fit. Minny badly needed a center out of this draft. Now they won’t need one again for at least 5 years.

Joe’s Grade: A+

19. Tennessee Titans - Jeffery Simmons - DEFENSIVE LINE

This was unexpected. Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel must feel a lot more confident in their job security than I do. I love Simmons as a talent. For the last 4 years of his contract he has a better chance than at least 10 players above him to become an All Pro. I don’t think he will do a whole lot to help them chase the playoffs in year 1. I’m very curious to see what the Titans do to help Mariota on Day 2.

Joe’s Grade: C

20. Denver Broncos - Noah Fant - TIGHT END

If you would have told me before the draft that Elway was going to trade back and pick up a 2019 2nd and 2020 3rd and get a guy that I debated as TE1? I would have told you you were lying. In the end I had Hock higher on my final Day 1 Big Board in part because I thought he was a better inline tight end and run blocker. I wonder what would have happened if Detroit had gone after Oliver or a offensive line help.

In the end, it won’t matter. Woody Paige was right and the Broncos wound up with a true mismatch weapon. Fant is going to be too fast for linebackers to deal with down the seam and too big for most safeties to body up on. He’ll need to improve as a blocker, route runner, and there are some concentration drops on his tape, but I love this pick. Fits an immediate need with an elite talent and Denver received extra capital in a very deep talent tier (20-60 is loaded) and got 2020 capital to help chase a franchise QB.

Joe’s Grade: A

21. Green Bay Packers - Darnell Savage - SAFETY

I liked Savage more than most. When I watched him I saw a bit of LaMarcus Joyner and his ability to disrupt opposing passing games jumps off the tape. I did not expect him to go in the top 21 picks. Peculiar draft the Packers new GM is having.

Joe’s Grade: C

22. Philadelphia Eagles - Andre Dillard - OFFENSIVE LINE

I had Jonah Williams as my top offensive lineman out of this class for the Broncos. I did not have Dillard on that board, but only because he projects as a pure tackle and will need some time to develop. If Denver did not have Mike Munchak to coach up Garrett Bolles I would have had Dillard as OL1. I love his ceiling and think he’ll be a standout pass protector for Carson Wentz.

Joe’s Grade: A+

23. Houston Texans - Tytus Howard - OFFENSIVE LINE

Howard is one of those guys you take in the first round because you want that fifth year option if he pans out. You’re not going to know if he’ll get there until his second or even third training camp because he has so far to go. For that reason I had him as a Day 3 option for Denver, only moving him up to 2 because there was no way he’d slide that far. Deshaun Watson was sacked by everyone last year. Howard doesn’t necessarily help that issue in 2019. I suspect Houston wanted Dillard and swerved when Philly sniped their guy.

Joe’s Grade: C

24. Oakland Raiders - Josh Jacobs - RUNNING BACK

In a vacuum Jacobs is a great pick. Derek Carr needs help around him to look close to competent and Jacobs is a strong outlet receiver and powerful runner. Here’s the catch: Oakland’s defense is so bad that taking a back this high feels horrific when you consider the opportunity cost. As a Broncos fans I’m loving this draft for Gruden and Mayock because they could have wound up with Ed Oliver and the best Cornerback in this class.

Joe’s Grade: D

25. Baltimore Ravens - Marquise “Hollywood” Brown - RECEIVER

If I was in charge of building an offense around Lamar Jackson and told to get a receiver, I would grab a big contested catch guy who can make hay if the QB isn’t perfect. Instead Eric DeCosta grabs a vertical burner to take the top off the defense. He’s a new GM that has been considered a top flight front office guy forever, so maybe he’s got me on this one. He’s been able to see where Jackson has progressed to date and the QBs legs should cause a lot of opportunities for Brown to wreck things in broken play situations.

Joe’s Grade: B

26. Washington - Montez Sweat - EDGE

I had Sweat as my number 3 Edge rusher in this class and would have liked him at 41 if he slid that far because of his heart questions. It’s weird that Snyder had a good day 1. Just weird. This grade gets a hit because I don’t like giving away future picks, I think it’s a silly gamble because you never know when injury luck is going to tank your team.

Joe’s Grade: C

27. Oakland Raiders - Johnathan Abram - SAFETY

I like the idea of Abram more than I like Abram. In the new Madden he’s going to look like Sean Taylor. He’ll be big, fast and hit like a truck. In real life he’s going to be a limited coverage guy who tight ends like Noah Fant should run circles around. In a perfect world he’s your Kam Chancellor thumper who can shut down the intermediate zones and help as a robber. I don’t think Abram’s ever that good in space.

Joe’s Grade: C

28. Los Angeles Chargers - Jerry Tillery - DEFENSIVE LINE

For as bad as I think the Raiders draft went, Tom Telesco has gotten off to another strong one. While everyone and their mom saw Derwin James for the steal he was, Jerry Tillery has fallen under most radars. Not mine. I had him as the 7th player on my adjusted Broncos board and he’ll give the Chargers a strong interior rusher between Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

Joe’s Grade: A+

29. Seattle Seahawks - L.J. Collier - EDGE

I was lower on Collier for Denver than I thought he’d go, but I did not see him as a first round pick. This is another one of those Rashaad Penny picks from John Schneider.

Joe’s Grade: F

30. New York Giants - DeAndre Baker - Corner

If you read my Day 1 board you know my thoughts on Baker. I think he’s a decent scheme fit for the Giants so maybe it works out. I think the scheme fit and cost of trade works in the Gettleman’s favor. I just don’t think the player is that good.

Joe’s Grade: B

31. Atlanta Falcons - Kaleb McGary - OFFENSIVE LINE

Most people will say he’s a right tackle tonight, but I think he’ll come in as a guard as a rookie and eventually slide out if he can. He’s tall as all get out at 6’7 and has played right tackle his career to date, but he’s not going to be a strong enough protector on the edge day 1.

Joe’s Grade: C

32. New England Patriots - N’Keal Harry - RECEIVER

Much like Oliver to the Bills, tonight was when some of these dreams had to die. Darn the AFC East. In all reality Harry steps into one of the perfect situations for his skillset. Josh McDaniels will help him avoid press jams and put him in favorable situations to make the most of his incredible YAC ability. Tom Brady will deliver passes that let him Moss people.

Joe’s Grade: A+