We made it, guys. After months of buildup (including 2 that led me to giving up other sports, League of Legends, and most of my homework) the 2019 NFL Draft is over. Now it’s time to look back over some of the picks and see who did what in order to improve where.
Let’s dive in.
Atlanta Falcons select Chris Lindstrom - OL
The Falcons had a bit of a utilitarian draft. I really liked Chris Lindstrom, and while 14 may seem rich to some, I believe he’ll prove worth it, health willing. Kaleb McGary seemed rich with Dalton Risner available, but he could immediately help with the state of the offensive line. After that, I really liked the flier on John Cominsky in the fourth. He’s making a bit of a jump to the league out of Charleston, but offers serious upside.
Arizona Cardinals select Lamont Gaillard - OL
It’s a bit tough to decide on a favorite pick for the Cardinals, and it should be considering they had the first pick in every single round. Theoretically they should have grabbed the top slider out of every preceding round. By and large, they did something close to that. I really liked Byron Murphy, Zach Allen, Andy Isabella, and Hakeem Butler for them, but Lamont Gaillard stands out. One of the unsung reasons Josh Rosen had such a rough rookie year in the desert was the 52 sacks he suffered. Part of that was a problem with the scheme, and a rookie is going to give up a few he shouldn’t, but that offensive line was horrible. Gaillard won’t fix much right away, but he was a pick I liked for Denver and he has a pretty high ceiling.
Baltimore Ravens select Miles Boykin - WR
Simply put, he was my favorite receiver this side of N’Keal Harry in the draft. He’s an athletic freak and could grow into a prototypical X-receiver with a bit of seasoning. He and Hollywood Brown give Lamar Jackson the kind of weapons that can grow with him, and I loved that rationale. Outside of that, Baltimore had a really solid draft as well. Iman Marshall may become a safety that will help the secondary. Daylon Mack was a talented underachiever in college that could over perform his draft slot with NFL coaching. Ben Powers is has low-end starting potential. Jaylon Ferguson had a troublesome 3-cone but his tape is phenomenal. Trace McSorely was one that really intrigued me. I never fully considered him as an NFL QB, but it makes perfect sense for him to backup Jackson in the Baltimore system.
Buffalo Bills select Ed Oliver - DL
I gave this move an A+ in my Day 1 grades for a reason. I think he winds up as one of the best two picks in this entire draft. Words fail to capture how much fun his 2018 Houston tape is to watch. My biggest fear is Buffalo finds a way to screw him up. After that, I really liked the move to secure Dawson Knox. He’s a solid blocker and developing receiver with a lot of talent to become a security blanket for the scattershot Allen. Cody Ford made a lot of sense as well. He wasn’t a great scheme fit for Denver and was a bit riskier than I like my offensive lineman, but brings size and loads of power to a Bills front that needs both.
Carolina Panthers select Will Grier - QB
This one could make you scratch your head a bit. After all, Brian Burns was my favorite Edge rusher in this class and Grier finished behind Brett Rypien on my final QB board. Part of that was fit into the incoming Broncos scheme, but also because I hated the idea of taking a QB after round one (Lock was a RD1 guy who slid, which threw a wrench into that thinking). Still, if you’re going to go after a Day 2 QB, a guy like Grier is where it makes sense. He has some noticeable holes in his game and may never solve them enough to be more than a backup. If that’s the case, I think he turns into a wildcard reliever who can pull off some upsets he shouldn’t. However, the ceiling is higher because his biggest strengths are also the prime traits I look for in a quarterback: exceptional accuracy and ball placement. If Newton’s shoulder starts to hamper him over the next couple seasons, the Panthers could very well have an heir on the roster.
Chicago Bears trade their 1st round pick for Khalil Mack
9/10 of the time, I don’t agree with the idea of giving away your 1st round pick for an expensive veteran (the Frank Clark trade, for instance) because a 1st round pick is a cost-controlled starter for 4 years. Mack (and OBJ) are exceptions because they’re both Hall of Fame talent. The fact that Chicago got a 2020 second as part of the deal still baffles me.
Trade official, source tells ESPN:— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 1, 2018
Bears get: Khalil Mack, a 2020 second-round round pick and a conditional 2020 fifth-round pick.
Raiders get: 2019 first-round pick, 2020 first-round pick, 2020 third-round pick, 2019 sixth-round pick.
So Bears get back second-round pick, too
Granted, this and the Mitchell Trubisky trade left Chicago with little to work with last weekend. Of the moves they did make, I thought David Montgomery and Riley Ridley made a lot of sense for their roster. Frankly, I ignored this running back class because Denver didn’t need one with Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, and Devontae Booker, but I looked into Montgomery after hearing some of the chatter about him. He could be a good cheap replacement for the departed Jordan Howard. Ridley gives them a smart route runner who Lance Zierlein compared to James Jones. Their 7th round selection of Stephen Denmark is a perfect example of what I think teams should do with their selections in the final rounds: attempt to grab a raw project that would otherwise be tough to land in the UDFA market.
With pick 238 in the 2019 NFL Draft, the #Bears select Stephen Denmark, CB, Valdosta State.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 27, 2019
Stephen Denmark posted a Elite #RAS with Elite size, Good speed, Elite explosiveness, Poor agility at the CB position. pic.twitter.com/PP7gkTfw5W
Cincinnati Bengals select Jonah Williams - OL
Williams was my top rated OL for the Broncos. He should step in at tackle and be a solid upgrade over Billy Hart. If that fails, he’d be able to slide inside where he has a Pro Bowl ceiling. I’ll admit that after the first round I didn’t think much of the Bengals’ draft. That isn’t because I doubt Drew Sample, Germaine Pratt, or Renell Wren, but because I think they could have gotten better value at each pick. Ryan Finley is the kind of low upside backup you take when you have Aaron Rodgers, not Andy Dalton. Deshaun Davis is a guy.
I did like the flier on Rodney Anderson. Yes, he’s been hurt a ton, which led to his availability. He’s also been really good when healthy, so maybe he can stay off IR and provide them a steal. It’s a worthwhile gamble that far down the board.
Cleveland Browns select Greedy Williams - CB
I had a second round grade on Greedy Williams on my Broncos adjusted board.
99% certain Greedy goes much higher than I have him. This ranking isn’t meant to be controversial, but merely a reflection of how I think he fits the Broncos scheme. He’s a first round talent, but the things he does best won’t be valued as highly in the Fangio system. He’d probably be my number one corner if I thought Denver was looking for a press man coverage artist. They aren’t. He also isn’t big on tackling, which hurts him.
I did not expect the rest of the NFL to be so cool on him. He’s plenty good in coverage and pair with Denzel Ward to give the Browns two great, young corners. Beyond Greedy’s slide, Sheldrick Redwine and Mack Wilson also give them an infusion of talent to the D. I’ve heard the word that Wilson’s coaches at Alabama did him no favors. I also know there was first round talk about his tape for big parts of last Fall. He’s a promising gamble.
They also got Odell Beckham Jr. from this class, which hardly seems fair.
Dallas Cowboys select Michael Jackson - CB
I had this to say about Jackson after studying him as a potential fit for Denver.
Another one of those Madden corners I fall too hard for. He’s a size/speed prospect with long arms and good tackles, but may never be more than a depth guy due to so-so play in coverage. He fits what Fangio looks for in a corner and would be a worthwhile late flier and developmental guy.
I think he’s a great fit for Kris Richard’s defense and could give them a strong boundary guy down the road. The 5th seems about right given his athleticism. I also liked Trysten Hill, even if I wouldn’t have grabbed him in the second. That isn’t an indictment of his tape, as he’s clearly talented, but I’m skeptical of the guys that require special contracts.
Detroit Lions select Amani Oruwariye - CB
Honestly, I didn’t think too much of the Lions draft. I like T.J. Hockenson and he makes a ton of sense as an outlet weapon for Matthew Stafford, but at 8, the value seemed off considering their other needs. Oruwariye was the other side of the coin. I’d heard for awhile that the league wouldn’t be as high on him because of concerns over his consistency and tackling issues, but with coaching and some polish, he could blossom into the best cornerback from this class. To get a guy with that ceiling in the 5th? I dig it.
Green Bay Packers select Jace Sternberger - TE
If the Broncos had decided to pass on Noah Fant in the first, Sternberger would have been the next best seam stretching weapon in this class.
I liked Darnell Savage, Elgton Jenkins, and Kinglsey Keke as well for them. I didn’t always like where they went, per say, but all three were good scheme fits and address positions of need. Keke in particular was a really good value in the fifth. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to me if he gives them more than Rashan Gary in 2019.
Houston Texans select Kahale Warring - TE
Prior to the draft, I told everyone with ears that I had Warring as my favorite tight end, and I like the fit with Deshaun Watson in an offense that will make use of a two-way tight end. Warring’s got a ways to go to reach his ceiling, but he looks like he could become the next Todd Heap. He’s a contested catch beast and has a mean mindset to bully when asked to block. Outside of this pick, I was pretty cool on Houston’s draft. Charles Omenihu was fair value and could be good with time, but I don’t think they did enough to build up an offensive line that gave up 62 sacks to Watson last year. It’s going to hurt them in the Fall.
Indianapolis Colts trade for a 2020 second round pick.
Generally speaking, I love moves made to accumulate future capital. In a league with seemingly infinite resources, yet a ridiculous bust rate, the best thing to do in the draft is make more picks than everyone else. Chris Ballard understands that, and the Colts are quickly becoming better for it.
It doesn’t end there though, as Indy also made some excellent picks last weekend. Ben Banogu, Parris Campbell, and Bobby Okereke were all guys I had my eyes on for Denver. The value didn’t always match where I ranked them, but all were high upside, athletic prospects. I’d feel a bit skeptical if they had gone to a team like the Jets, but with Indy I’d bet all three blossom into contributors. I’m really excited to see what Andrew Luck and Frank Reich can do with a talent like Campbell.
On Day 3, I really liked Marvell Tell. He’s a safety that may move to corner at the next level because he isn’t quite as physical as you’d like (one big reason I didn’t consider him for Denver) but should be a solid coverage player down the road.
Jacksonville Jaguars select Jawaan Taylor - OL
If you kept up with the millions of mock drafts floating around between January and April, you saw Taylor go to the Jags at 7. Probably more than once. It almost seemed as predestined as Bosa to San Francisco. Come draft day, Josh Allen’s slide seemed to put an end to that. I really liked that move for the Jags, as they’ll need edge help sooner than you’d think, but I never expected Taylor to make it out of round 1 with teams like Houston and Baltimore closing out the night. Apparently a knee injury knocked him down the boards and he found his way to North Florida after all. He should step in as a starter from day 1 so long as his medicals check out.
Tom Coughlin didn’t rest on his good luck in the first two rounds, though. I liked Josh Oliver as an outlet receiver for Nick Foles, even if I had him closer to the 4th. Dontavius Russell was a good pick to end the draft as well. I didn’t include Gardner Minshew in my QB rankings because he’s somewhat of a poor man’s Baker Mayfield, but stranger things have happened than an accurate air-raid QB stealing reps from a so-so incumbent.
Gardner Minshew & Nick Foles in Jacksonville pic.twitter.com/kqXpICuKRI— Mark (@MarkLawson_1) April 27, 2019
Kansas City Chiefs trade their first round pick for Frank Clark - EDGE
As I mentioned earlier, I oftentimes believe these first round trades for veteran talent are poor decisions. When you consider the optics of the trade in the middle of the Tyreek Hill situation, it looks pretty bad. Then you remember the Dee Ford trade earlier this Spring and it’s peculiar how KC went about things. It’s great, Broncos Country. Any move that makes it harder for the Chiefs to run the AFC West for the length of Patrick Mahomes’ career is a decision I love.
Cost of the 29th pick per the two cash swaps we have on record through the lens of the Havard Sports Analytics chart:— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) April 21, 2019
Clark should ask for more than Flowers got. Is he worth $108M-$119M+ in opp. cost over 5 years?
Unfortunately, the Chiefs went on to make some decent moves in the actual draft. They were a big winner on Day 2 of the draft.
Hardman will be remembered as the Tyreek Hill replacement but gives Patrick Mahomes a stupidly fast blink and he’s gone burner. He’ll need to improve at his route running, but can step in day 1 as the closest thing this draft had to Devin Hester.
Where Reid really took the thing home is Juan Thornhill. I had him as my third safety on the board but he was this close to Darnell Savage who went in the first. He’s an exceptional athlete and should grow into a great free safety for them. That will free up the Honey Badger to play in the intermediate zone, the slot, etc.
Later in the third round the Chiefs came away with Khalen Saunders. He’s a dancing bear. A Nose tackle who can do back flips at 320 lbs. A disruptive wardaddy.
Los Angeles Chargers select Easton Stick - QB
It’s hard to find many Chargers picks I love from a Broncos fan’s perspective. Tillery got them an A+ on Day 1.
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.
They also won Day 2.
Nasir Adderley’s ceiling is a poor man’s Earl Thomas and his floor is decent corner. He was a guy who most pegged for the first round for the longest time, so the value seems really good. Then you consider how pairing him with Derwin James with Tillery, Bosa, and Ingram in front of him is pretty dang scary. The Gus Bradley defense has no excuses this year.
Trey Pipkins was a bit rich in the late third to me, as I had him for Day 3. That said his ceiling is really high and the Chargers badly need a long term plan for their offensive line. He shouldn’t play this year if LA is serious about protecting Rivers though.
On Day 3, Drue Tranquill, Emeke Egbule, and Cortez Broughton made a lot of sense for them. I was lower on Easton Stick than Tom Telesco, but he’s a 6th round quarterback. Hardly costly. We’re probably lucky the Bolts don’t have any fans because they’d be insufferable with the way their GM has drafted lately.
Los Angeles Rams trade down from 45.
Remember how I said I like trade downs? The Rams worked to accumulate draft capital after giving away a slew of picks in recent years and it makes a lot of sense. Despite the fact that they just played in a Super Bowl and look favored to do it again, LA needs long term help at corner and along the offensive line. Their depth chart is also woefully thin in spots.
It helps that they made some fantastic selections once they finally did use those picks. I didn’t like Taylor Rapp for Fangio’s D, but he’s a great fit in Wade Phillips’ as a safety-backer. David Long is the closet thing the 2019 draft had to a Chris Harris Jr. I was ready to fight people on my “Bobby Evans is a third rounder” hill.
The Miami Dolphins trade for Josh Rosen - QB
The skeptic in me still believes the Dolphins will grab the top quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft, but the best part about this trade is they may not have to. Rosen gives them a 22-year old signal-caller that would have been my top QB prospect in this year’s class. They got him for a steep discount, and if he isn’t the answer they’re looking for, he’s easy to move on from or keep as a number 2 after the season. Ridiculously smart move that I wish Elway had done.
As for the rest of the ‘Phins draft, I liked Christian Wilkins for them. Both Isaiah Prince and Michael Deiter should help an offensive line that really needs talent. Unfortunately for Rosen and the South Beach fan base, there was only one draft until they have to play out the 2019 string.
Minnesota Vikings select Dru Samia - OL
The guard I love: Dru Samia
You’ll start to notice a lot of these guys have shown up in my Monday Mock draft series. For good reason, I don’t like to take guys unless I believe in them. I believe in Samia. He isn’t a fit in every scheme which is why he’ll slide on draft day, but if Rich Scangarello is running an outside zone based offense? He’s a hand in glove fit, and a junkyard dog to boot.
If you remember, Gary Kubiak also runs the outside zone. Samia is going to be a stud for the Vikings. That’s a good thing because they badly needed offensive line help, which is just one reason I also loved Garrett Bradbury for them. I predicted that pick for them in the lead up to the first round last Thursday, but it made too much sense to overthink.
I also really liked the value Minny got on Dillon Mitchell, Oli Udoh, Cameron Smith, and Kris Boyd. I dug the way the Vikes weren’t afraid to trade down. Then they took a lot of fliers on upside guys, which is the smart way to rebuild the talent on the back end of your roster when you’re paying out the nose for the top end.
LOVE what the Vikings are doing on Day 3.— Thor Nystrom (@thorku) April 27, 2019
Eli Udoh is exactly the kind of developmental OT the Purple needed to fall to them late.
6’5/323 who can move — 60th percentile SPARQ. A mauler.
My one-sentence report: “Could give The Mountain a fight.”pic.twitter.com/XC1wUFpBON
New England Patriots select N’Keal Harry - WR
It broke my soul to watch my favorite receiver in this class go to the dark side. This is what I thought of N’Keal Harry when I dreamed of his fit for the Broncos offense.
He profiles as a modern Z-receiver in today’s NFL, equally capable of tearing up the slot as he is outside. Depending on how the Broncos view DaeSean Hamilton, the Z-receiver is the biggest long term need for the receiving corps. The Sun Devil’s got the tools to be a standout blocker. Chances are he will make corners’ lives hell if they want to play the run.
Harry may need time to adjust to NFL speed, but his route running is already advanced and would compliment the current receiving corps beautifully. He is a threat to every level of the field and will need to be accounted for, which should free up Courtland Sutton to play to his strengths. Swings, slants, fades, hitches... he’s won on all of it and more. His massive catch radius and physicality jump off the tape. If he plays up to his talent he has elite number 1 potential.
Over the weekend, I read that he impressed the Pats on his visit with how quickly he picked up their offensive assignments. It wouldn’t surprise me if he steps in early and thrives with Brady putting him in positions to get yards after the catch.
I also really liked the value New England got with Chase Winovich and Hjalte Froholdt. Don’t confuse me for one who’s simply licking Belichick’s bootstraps, though.
Jarrett Stidham goes to the one place where he could prove every single evaluator wrong. Put him in the McDaniels' incubator and see what happens.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) April 27, 2019
Still think he's a nobody though.
New Orleans trade up for Erik McCoy - OL
Remember how I said I love trade backs to accumulate draft capital (I know, I just told you twice)? Guess what I normally hate.
Consider what Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton did the exception. With Drew Brees all but certainly playing out his final year in the Big Easy, there is no tomorrow. That made Max Unger’s sudden retirement all the more painful. With free agency in the rear-view, the Saints suddenly had a glaring need for a starting center. McCoy gives them just that and should grow into a stalwart in the middle.
On day 3, Loomis did it again, this time trading up to catch Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. The Florida Safety was a lock in most first round mocks, but rumors surfaced over the weekend that his interview process left a lot of teams cold. If Dennis Allen can navigate that, he could have a Swiss Army knife and instant contributor this year. Alize Mack was another flier I liked. His tape was inconsistent in spots, but he’s a natural hands catcher and could flourish in the Payton offense.
New @Saints DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson had the draft class' highest grade from the slot among SEC defenders and allowed a paltry 45.4 passer rating on throws into his coverage. #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/txDJyOxa5F— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 27, 2019
New York Giants select Oshane Ximines - EDGE
It’s not a good sign that Gettleman had three first round picks and none of them were great decisions. For the record, I like Dexter Lawrence. I just think 17 is really rich for him. As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, Daniel Jones at 6 has quickly become the funniest pick of the entire draft.
Raise your hand if you had Daniel Jones as your QB2. I had him behind Brett Rypien. pic.twitter.com/W3HKDX0eQ6— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) April 26, 2019
As for Ximines, he could be a pleasant surprise out of Day 3. I was late to his tape, but when I finally got to it, he really flashed. Yes, he has a bit of a jump to the NFL. He also brings with him advanced hand moves and plus athleticism. Another late round guy that could surprise in the Big Apple are Julian Love out of Notre Dame. I’d think the same for Darius Slayton, but fear his skill set will be wasted with Daniel Jones’ so-so arm. The Auburn Tiger had 32 catches for 20+ yards in his career with 8 that went for 50+.
Scheme Fit (2)— Nick Turchyn (@Tmanic21) April 28, 2019
Think right away OX can hang his hat in sub-package at Left Edge. If paired w/a Stunt threat like Lawrence, believe his long arm (right handed) is a step up to Carter’s. Perhaps overlooked is how the personnel “fit” is more important than scheme #GiantsPride pic.twitter.com/WAhXu0lIYB
New York Jets select Blake Cashman - LB
Cashman was a bit of a draft darling after he blew up the Combine, which led to some surprise when he still slid this past weekend. I suspect a big part of it was his medical questions (multiple shoulder surgeries) and very short arms. Regardless, he’ll give Greg Williams a trash collector. I suspect he’ll start out as a special teams ace and flourish into a starter if he can avoid injury. Outside of the Minnesota linebacker, there were only two draft picks New York made that jumped out at me. Quinnen Williams was a no brainer, he looked like the best player in this class. Then there was Chuma Edoga, who got a bad rep coming out of USC, but offers starting upside as a tackle or guard.
Oakland Raiders spend 3 1st round picks on a SS, RB, and Edge
There’s a pretty decent chance that Josh Jacobs, Clelin Ferrel, and Johnathan Abram start for the Raiders in 2019. After all, they fielded an AAF defense (RIP) in 2018 and Marshawn Lynch retired. But when you consider what Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden could have taken with the 4th (Ed Oliver or Devin White), 24th (Montez Sweat ), and 27th (Jerry Tillery) picks, their first round turns into a bit of a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ for me.
Oakland elected to grab culture guys at positions the modern NFL tend to ding because of positional value. When you take an Edge player in the top five, it brings the expectation that he’ll grow into a consistent 10+ sack kind of pass rusher. Running backs are generally a bad investment in the earliest rounds because it’s so easy to find capable legs later in the draft. A safety like Abram needs to become Kam Chancellor or Derwin James to justify that much capital. Quite simply, the opportunity cost and value are poor, even if all three players turn out to be decent.
Unfortunately for Broncos Country, Mayock started hitting homers later in the draft. I had Trayvon Mullen lower than many, but I can see the fit in Paul Guenther’s D. As Tim Lynch and I talked about on Twitch Sunday, both Maxx Crosby and Isaiah Johnson are the kind of upside grabs that could hit big on day 3. Then there was the Jared Cook replacement. Foster Moreau tested like an elite athlete and didn’t do much in college. You watch the tape and it’s fair to wonder if that’s more LSU’s fault than his. He’ll need time to improve his route running, but could pay off big.
Philadelphia Eagles trade up for Andre Dillard - OT
If it feels like a cop out that I went with the Iggles first pick, I was also a really big fan of the J.J. Arcega-Whiteside move (just ask my brother, he’s an Eagles fan and I messaged him immediately upon the pick coming in). I won’t lie though, Dillard is the kind of freaky athlete I wish Elway would have found for his left tackle back when Denver was looking. He’ll need time to adjust to the pro game, but he’s already a strong pass protector and will become the kind of answer to speed rushers Bolles never will.
I didn’t study most of Philly’s other picks save for Clayton Thorson, who I didn’t like.
Looks like Clayton Thorson is more elusive than we give him credit for, just watch as he dodges his friend (probably named Todd). pic.twitter.com/wFUu7McfvI— John Barchard (@JohnBarchard) April 27, 2019
Pittsburgh Steelers select Sutton Smith - LB
I may be the only person who thinks the Broncos 2020 third could turn out to be a high(ish) pick. That said, Devin Bush was a great selection for Pittsburgh as they badly needed to grab some speed for the second level of their defense. Bush will give them a blitzer, as well as a linebacker Keith Butler will be able to match up against some receivers.
Bush can cover too, folks, get excited.pic.twitter.com/or9XOvq2C5— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) April 26, 2019
So why is Sutton my favorite pick for Pittsburgh? In college, he was one of the more exciting edge rushers I saw last year as he racked up 29 sacks and 56.5 tackles for loss the last two seasons at Northern Illinois. Unfortunately, he also measured in a smidge under 6’1 and 235 lbs, way below NFL standards for edge rushers. He’ll need to move off ball ‘backer if he’s to ever play more than a really specialized role on defense. In the meantime, he looks like he’ll be a special teams standout. In time, he’s the kind of long-term project that could turn into a stud nickel backer that can blitz, cover, and run.
Outside of their linebacker grabs, I’m on the fence for the Steelers draft. Diontae Johnson got a pass by most analysts because Pittsburgh has been money when it comes to wide receivers, but few, if any, had him as a second round talent. Justin Layne did, though. Some even had him as high as a first rounder. Or he could be another toolsy corner who goes to Pennsylvania and is never heard from again.
Seattle Seahawks select Ben Burr-Kirven - LB
He’s the kind of guy that wins despite the negatives. One of the biggest strengths of his game is playing in space as he’s a natural coverage player and brings the kind of twitchy athleticism that Todd Davis and Josey Jewell don’t. While he’s definitely undersized he’s slippery, so blockers need to work to keep their hands on his jersey. He’s incredibly instinctive and active, both things that coaches love and could hone to turn him into a heat seeking missile at the professional level.
For Denver I saw him as a guy who could turn into a stud rotational player that could provide more range in coverage. He’d have some issues in short yardage, but most teams in the NFL play nickel 60%+ of the time. Throughout the process, he’s been my favorite linebacker. I held out hope Fangio would see the potential fit despite the holes in his game. John Schneider and Pete Carroll got to him first.
"We’re expecting you to be the tackling machine you’ve always been, OK?" Pete Carroll told Ben Burr-Kirven over the phone.— Seattle Times Sports (@SeaTimesSports) April 27, 2019
"I will be, Coach. Don’t worry,” Burr-Kirven responded. https://t.co/VOFyvhvt4Y
The rest of the Seahawks’ draft was the kind of typical Schneider draft: mostly decent players who seem to be reaches. L.J. Collier was a day 3 talent for me because he’ll never be a standout pass rusher. Marquise Blair is a day 2 talent I marked for day 3 due to his jump from Utah and aggression that spills outside the whistles. Both are gamers, and that’s something Seattle seems to place a premium value on.
Cody Barton, D.K. Metcalf, and Ugo Amadi look like good picks for their systems. As a whole, they got enough quantity by trading down that I expect them to find a few good players. With Russell Wilson set to make $30+ million, that’s the smart play. I just find myself wondering if they could have found more.
San Francisco 49ers select Deebo Samuel - WR
Even before you consider the political, social media drama swirling around Nick Bosa, I was never as high on him as most. It’s a pick that makes a lot of sense considering the 49ers need edge help, I just think he’ll be a poor man’s version of his brother Joey.
On the other hand, Deebo is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Shanahan offense. It’s a reason why I liked him for the Broncos. He’ll give them a Z/Slot receiver who looks like a running back with the ball in his hands. Even better for them, he should be able to contribute early on as he comes into the league as one of the better route runners.
The rest of their draft was adequate. I liked Jalen Hurd, even if the 3rd feels rich. Tim Harris and Kaden Smith were guys that should tread water in their respective roles. Mitch Wishnowsky is a 27 year old punter. Why draft that in the 4th?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Devin White - LB
I liked Sean Bunting and Jamel Dean as developmental corners for the Todd Bowles defense. They certainly need both. Mike Edwards could give them help on the backend and looks like a special teamer at worst. He brings the kind of varied skill set that should thrive in the Buc’s new defense. Matt Gay is another place kicker for Jason Licht. The fact that he was drafted before any offensive player is a bit damning.
But it’s White who will make or break this draft for Bruce Arians. Teams are rarely rewarded when they take off ball linebackers at 5th overall. White could be the exception. He brings the kind of ridiculous speed and coverage ability to stand out as a stalwart from the very beginning of his career. He needs to, if Tampa Bay’s going to compete for the South in 2019.
A Tiger is headed to Tampa.— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 26, 2019
Buccaneers select Devin White No. 5 overall pic.twitter.com/6jFNStTYdo
Tennessee Titans select Amani Hooker - S
I was a bit harsh on the Titans for selecting Jeffery Simmons in the first round. I love his fit and he’ll give them a top 5 talent down the road, I just worry it doesn’t help them compete with the Indianapolis Colts this year. However, Jon Robinson found an instant contributor in round 2 when he nabbed A.J. Brown. Marcus Mariota badly needs receiving help, and the Ole Miss star brings advanced route running and deceptive athleticism with him to the pros. Nate Davis is an underrated small school guy who could find starting reps early on.
Where Tennessee really impressed was Day 3. I had Darnell Savage, Juan Thornhill, and Hooker relatively close together on my safety board. The former Hawkeye gives Mike Vrabel a versatile defensive back who wins with anticipation. He isn’t quite as explosive as the two taken before him, but is plenty fast enough to eventually start and thrive in 2 deep or intermediate coverage. He’s also a willing box player.
After Hooker, the Titans found D’Andre Walker in the 5th, who seems to have fallen because of an inability to run as he recovered from hernia surgery. He’s not as polished as recent Georgia Edge players, but could develop into a solid rotational player in time.
Washington select Dwayne Haskins - QB
If you read my GIF Horse on Haskins, this one may come as a bit of surprise. I said this:
He’s hard to truly pin down because OSU put him in position to light it up but also hid him with its scheme and supporting cast. Jake Fromm is another player I have similar questions for, but because he’ll play three years before going pro, there will be ample opportunity to analyze how he grows, as well as how he reacts to changes in the talent around him.
There’s no such chance with Haskins, and combined with his questionable fit in the Rich Scangarello offense, it leaves me very hesitant to draft him 10th overall.
Those concerns are a bit muted in the Jay Gruden offense, which seems like a much better system to exemplify his strengths. After all, the 2018 version was built to maximize Alex Smith. It shouldn’t be long before Haskins pushes Case Keenum to the bench.
I also liked the addition of Terry McLaurin on day 3, and he’ll probably play right away. It’s not like he has much in the way of competition. Helping his cause is strong route running, underrated athleticism, and chemistry with the new franchise signal caller.
Two other moves jumped out at me. I’m not big on trading 2020 picks, but Montez Sweat isn’t a terrible gamble. I also really liked Jimmy Moreland in the 7th. He’s coming out of James Maddison where he was a big fish with 18 career interceptions. He’ll need to swim in the ocean now, but ball skills tend to translate.
Finally, the reason most of you clicked on this article.
Denver Broncos select Justin Hollins - EDGE
It’s hard to narrow down the picks to just one, as so many moves Elway made this weekend jump off the page. I loved the decision to leverage Devin Bush into a 2020 3rd, as well as day 2 capital. As MHR’s Jeffery Essary pointed out in his exceptional film study yesterday, Noah Fant is poised to eat in the Scangarello offense. He tested better than Courtland Sutton did at the combine. Needless to say, I expect him to grow into the kind of mismatch weapon Andrew Luck has in Eric Ebron.
Day 2 brought Dalton Risner home. If you’re like me, you put a lot of weight into Brandon Thorn’s offensive line evaluations. He and I both thought the world of the Risner acquisition.
Denver getting Risner at 41 is phenomenal. Much-needed and really helps transform the OL.— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) April 26, 2019
After grabbing immediate help along the offensive line, Elway elected to trade up to 42 with the Bengals in order to solve the biggest long-term issue facing the Broncos since Peyton Manning retired. More than once, I’ve mentioned my trepidation about Drew Lock. If Elway had made the jump at 10, I’d be cautiously optimistic because his inconsistencies, decision-making, and accuracy leave a lot to be desired.
At 42, he’s a developmental project that didn’t cost the team two immediate starters. He’s a lottery ticket you got half off. The value is too dang good to pass on. While I was initially put off by the trade up because I loved some of the day 3 talent in this draft, recent news paints the cost in a far better light.
When 71 came around, there were a number of prospects I hoped for. Dre’Mont Jones wasn’t my first choice, but I love the pick. Interior pressure has been the missing piece between the 2015 defense and previous seasons. When Elway chose Derek Wolfe over Malik Jackson, quarterbacks were given a chance to step up in the pocket in order to dodge Von Miller and the edge rush. With Shelby Harris and Dre’Mont, that won’t be so easy anymore. Neither player is a perfect fit in the 3-4 base scheme. They’ll shine in nickel personnel where Fangio can play them both as A/B gap rushers to shoot gaps and wreck passing games.
Day 3 gave me my favorite pick. Early on Sunday, it seemed like a long shot.
Another trade: 49ers trading LB Dekoda Watson and a sixth-round pick (No. 212) to the Broncos for a fifth-round pick (No. 148), per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 27, 2019
Drew Lock cost Denver 125, and then Elway made the trade for Dekoda Watson. Broncos Country was none too pleased to grab a 31-year-old Edge rusher on the last year of his deal. It was a bit of a disappointment in the middle of the promise all draft prospects offer, but the move made a ton of sense to me. When you watch Fangio’s defense, his #3 edge has to play a myriad of roles. He has to provide some pressure as a pass rusher, as well as stepping into space as a coverage player. As much as I like Jeffrey Holland, he’s relatively unproven and a complete unknown in the new defense. Beyond that, the veteran free agent market was pretty bare with Aaron Lynch resigning with Chicago.
So why Watson, you may ask. Well, here’s a thing worth remembering when it comes to player trades in the NFL. A team is making the pick based on previous knowledge. When the incoming player is a star like Khalil Mack or OBJ, it’s easy to gamble on talent fitting the scheme, but lower tier players take a lot of guess work. A prior relationship with a guy like Watson meant Elway knew who he was bringing into the locker room, so there was comfort there. Beyond that, Watson gives Fangio a well-rounded veteran who can fill the number 3 edge role in 2019 while the younger rushers develop.
Which brings us to Hollins. I wrote about him at length here. Back when I was studying up on him, this note by Doug Farrar really caught my eye:
Of all the defensive linemen and linebackers in this draft class—and it’s the deepest defensive line class in recent memory—Hollins may be the most freakish athlete. At 6’5” and 245 pounds, Hollins has the athleticism to do everything from rushing the passer from the edge to covering receivers in the slot. Athletically, he brings former 49ers and Seahawkslinebacker Julian Peterson to mind. Hollins doesn’t always bring that athoeticism to the field in ways you’d want—he especially needs more and better moves as a pass-rusher—but if you’re looking for one guy to blow up the drills at his position, Hollins would be a good one to bet on.
If you’re old enough to remember Julian Peterson, the comments by Fangio and Elway on Hollins’ fit as a kind of inside/outside player shouldn’t surprise you. He has prior experience playing in space as well as rushing off the edge. Then you consider his production, 14 sacks, 36 tackles for a loss, 7 forced fumbles, and 8 batted passes during his 3 years starting for the Ducks. Don’t forget his athletic profile.
Love this pick. Love it.
After the draft, three other picks jumped out at me. I had Brett Rypien as my QB4 in this class. Ahead of Daniel Jones, ahead of Will Grier, ahead of every other quarterback drafted after Drew Lock. I don’t think he has the highest ceiling, which may be why he fell. It doesn’t help that his arm isn’t extraordinary and he’s pretty undersized. Where he wins is with his mind, accuracy, and eyes. That’s enough for me.
George Aston may be my favorite player bio this side of Sam Jones.
Malik Reed has already had a pretty dramatic trip to the Broncos. Initially his agency reported that he’d sign with Denver, only to delete the tweet when news starting breaking that he was going to the New York Jets. Alas, he wound up a Bronco anyway. There’s a decent chance he’ll stick to the roster. Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network had this to say about him:
Malik Reed is an interesting projection, as he doesn’t fit the mold of a pure EDGE. Reed was moved to off-ball linebacker for many of his reps in 2018, which allowed him to still attack forward but also put him in space to attack off of the second level as well. Reed has a lot of room to grow as an off-ball defender but it does suggest there’s a role ahead for him as a more versatile defender in the pros. Reed has impressive instinct attacking forward and rushing the passer.