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The Best & Worst 2019 NFL Draft Classes

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Denver Broncos GM John Elway finds himself in good company with his 2019 NFL Draft class.

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NFL: NFL Draft
If Lock hits his ceiling this class will send Denver back into the stratosphere.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

If the NFL Draft was easy everyone would contend for Super Bowls. Yet they don’t, in part because there’s so many teams that can’t seem to get out of their own way. Some of it is poor player development, but a lot of it is accumulating the wrong kind of players, or failing to address serious needs.

So who had the most disappointing drafts?

5. Atlanta Falcons & Cincinnati Bengals

Neither team had a terrible draft as I liked their first selections. Both Chris Lindstrom and Jonah Williams should help bolster the offensive line. Where each team started to err was reaching for needs and forgetting value after that. Kaleb McGary is the kind of guy you root for, but on the field he’s probably a serviceable starter. Drew Sample is a blocking tight end that could exceed expectations as a receiver, but it’s all projection.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

I loved the Devin Bush selection if only because I believe Bush has a really good chance to be the best linebacker from this class. He’ll need to be to justify a 2019 2nd, 2020 3rd, and the 10th overall selection. After him, the Steelers had the kind of draft defenders will justify with Kevin Colbert’s track record and little else. Maybe Draft Twitter was way off the mark on Diontae Johnson’s value, I really doubt it. I liked Sutton Smith as a Day 3 project, and Justin Layne makes sense, but the rest of the class is pretty low ceiling.

When you consider Colbert gave up Antonio Brown for pennies on the dollar, a dark cloud hangs over this class.

3. Oakland Raiders

This ranking is a bit weird compared to the other’s on this list. All three of the Raiders first round picks could come in and start this year and I’ll still be watching the guys they passed on before I judge Mike Mayock a success. That’s how it goes when you pass on Ed Oliver for a low ceiling Edge rusher, Montez Sweat for a running back, and Jerry Tillery for a strong safety. The only picks I really loved (hated) for Oakland were their day 3 selections as both Isaiah Johnson and Maxx Crosby give them a couple of really high ceiling guys who could turn into studs if they develop.

2. New York Giants

Dave Gettleman is using a fan in a bagel shop to defend the Daniel Jones selection. That’s all you need to know about number 6. He traded back into the first for Deandre Baker, who may fit their scheme but seems to offer a low ceiling with some degree of risk. I liked Dexter Lawrence and think he could be a special player, but 17th overall felt pretty dang rich.

Oshane Ximines did intrigue me. He’s coming to the league out of Old Dominion with advanced hand moves and a decent athletic profile. I also thought pretty highly of Julian Love and Darius Slayton. If I (or the vast majority of NFL fans) are right about Daniel Jones, one of these day 3 guys will need to emerge as a Hall of Famer for Dave Gettleman to retain his job.

1. Houston Texans

I liked Kahale Warring. Charles Omenihu in the fifth makes sense. Outside of that they were left dumbstruck when the Eagles traded above them to grab Andre Dillard and never really recovered. It’s a shame because Deshaun Watson deserves so much more than what Bill O’Brien and Brian Gaine got for him this offseason. I don’t think any championship contender slid further.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Some team’s did everything right this weekend. Now it’s on the to cooks to make a great meal with the ingredients they’ve been given.

Who gave their coaching staffs Kobe Beef?

5. Los Angeles Chargers

I mentioned yesterday that Broncos Country is lucky the Bolts don’t have a fanbase, and mean it. From a pure value standpoint it looks like Tom Telesco will have the two biggest first round steals of the last two drafts when it’s all said and done. It’s a bit strange how it all worked out. No one predicted Derwin James would fall to LA in 2018. Everyone but Pro Football Focus thought Jerry Tillery would fall to them in 2019.

It isn’t as though that was the only good pick Telesco made, either. Nasir Adderly was expected by most to go to the Eagles in the first. He’ll give them a strong slot defender and could grow into a poor man’s Earl Thomas down the road. Trey Pipkins is a bit of a reach and a project but he was one of my favorite project tackles in this class. Drue Tranquill shouldn’t take long before finding a home so long as his knees hold up. He’s one of the better coverage players in this class. Even Easton Stick makes sense as a QB3 and Taysom Hill type.

4. Tennessee Titans

This one may split some opinions because Jeffery Simmons is unlikely to do much in 2019. It’s why I hated on the pick last Thursday because this team was so darn close to the playoffs last year. But Andrew Luck, Frank Reich, and Chris Ballard are in the division. If the Titans are going to keep up they’ll need to make long play moves and solid picks deeper down the board. They did just that in 2019, and I can’t take issue with any selection.

Simmons gives them a top 5 talent so long as he can regain his form. Nate Davis could start early and has a lot of upside if he can iron out his technique. A.J. Brown gives Marcus Mariota much needed help in the receiving corps. Amani Hooker was my favorite pick, as I wrote here. D’Andre Walker will have an opportunity to refine his game under Mike Vrabel. David Long was a worthwhile flier in the 6th.

3. Denver Broncos

I’ve gone at length to explain my love for the Broncos class in multiple places recently, so instead of just repeating myself here I wanted to do a little exercise. If everything goes to plan, the Broncos starting lineup in 2020 will look like this:

QB: Drew Lock

QB2: Brett Rypien

RB1: Phillip Lindsay

RB2: Royce Freeman

TE1: Noah Fant

TE2: Jeff Heuerman

RT: Ja’Wuan James

RG: Dalton Risner

C: Connor McGovern

LG: Ronald Leary

LT: Garett Bolles

X WR: Courtland Sutton

Z WR: Tim Patrick

Slot WR: DaeSean Hamilton

FB: Andy Janovich

CB1: Chris Harris

CB2: Isaac Yiadom

CB3: Bryce Callahan

S: Kareem Jackson

S: Justin Simmons

S3: Will Parks

LB: Todd Davis

LB: Josey Jewell, Justin Hollins, X?

Edge: Bradley Chubb

DL: Dre’Mont Jones

DL: Shelby Harris

Edge: Von Miller

Even when you stop to consider the uncertain contract situations with both Harris’, Leary, Simmons, Emmanuel Sanders and the majority of the defensive line, that is a really exciting foundation. Especially if you add in the $60+ Million in cap space Denver could have to play with in 2020.

2.Baltimore Ravens

As you’ll notice if you check out my Way Too Early Power Rankings today, the Baltimore Ravens were the biggest riser. There’s a big reason for that. Eric Decosta stole a lot of my favorite players out from under everyone’s noses. First there’s Miles Boykin, who was my favorite pick of their class.

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.

Even the picks I didn’t list made a lot of sense. Justice Hill got some love from Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network and gives Baltimore some serious juice in the backfield behind Jackson.

1. Indianapolis Colts

I made this point on Twitter yesterday, but it sure looks like Chris Ballard has been playing 5 Dimensional Chess since coming on the job last year. First he moved down from 3 to 6 in order to give the New York Jets their franchise quarterback, which gave him a ton of draft capital. Then he hit on Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard and others in the 2019 class. He followed that up with what looks like an even more impressive haul in 2020. I mentioned it yesterday.

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.

Rock Ya-Sin also makes a ton of sense for Indy. Many had him pegged as a first round talent and he’ll give them a corner who offers the potential to man up on defenders. Ballard did all this while gathering another future second round pick from Washington. It’s hardly fair, but he can only play by the rules we set for him.

Your Broncos Links

The best picks of the 2019 NFL Draft - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos got a few I really love. Here were the best picks of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Chris Harris Jr. contract: John Elway hopes to talk to CHJ after draft - Mile High Report

Last night, John Elway indicated the door was still open to working something out with Chris Harris.

Denver Broncos: How Noah Fant can thrive in Denver’s offense - Mile High Report

We take a peak at the film to find some ways for Denver to use their shiny new draft pick.

Denver Broncos undrafted free agent tracker 2019 - Mile High Report

Tracking all of the undrafted college free agent rumors and reports tied to the Denver Broncos.

Todd McShay calls Drew Lock the Denver Broncos best value pick - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos had themselves a solid 2019 NFL Draft, but according to Todd McShay of ESPN there was no bigger value pick than Drew Lock.

Denver Broncos: The evolution of John Elway’s NFL Draft strategy - Mile High Report

Under the leadership of John Elway, the Denver Broncos have struggled when it comes to finding talent in the NFL Draft. However, the past two drafts indicate that Elway and his staff have evolved and finally found a winning formula to acquire collegiate talent.

Draft Grades: Denver Broncos grade out well in 2019 NFL Draft - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos appear to have nailed the 2019 NFL Draft with back-to-back good drafts now. Here’s how they graded out.

New draftees excited to get to work with Broncos’ coaches - Mile High Report

You heard that right - the coaches.

Thank you, John Elway - Mile High Report

Ah, what joy it is to be proud of where our team is headed.

FMIA: 2019 Draft Scenes—Agony In Jersey, Making [Stuff] Up In Arizona and High Drama In The Raiders Room – ProFootballTalk

If they didn’t trade the 10th overall pick to Pittsburgh on Thursday, they were taking Devin Bush (the player Pittsburgh traded up to grab) at 10, not Noah Fant (the tight end the Broncos drafted after trading down). When round one ended, GM John Elway had no intention of getting all aggressive to go get Drew Lock, because Denver is smitten with 34-year-old ex-Raven Joe Flacco.

I knew, because I asked Elway 45 minutes after the round. “Our comfort with Joe enabled us to pass on a quarterback,” Elway told me. “What made that decision is, Joe is fitting really well with what we want to do offensively, and he looked great in our minicamp last week. He really put on a throwing exhibition last week in camp. I truly think we’ve got a guy coming into his prime.”

Denver had the Giants and Falcons on the phone during the trade with Pittsburgh. The Giants made a competitive offer, Elway said, but not as good at Pittsburgh’s … and the Steelers, by the way, stonewalled Elway when Denver pushed for a first-rounder in 2020.

Gettleman defends Giants’ Daniel Jones pick; inside the Rosen saga, more draft wrapup | SI.com

Elway was all over Lock during Senior Bowl week, before the draft hype machine revved up for 2019 and lying season kicked off. When it comes to the draft, sometimes, the oldest rumors are the most reliable rumors. And there’s an added benefit to the way the Broncos did this too. As with Miami using a second-rounder on Rosen, because Denver didn’t spend more than a second on Lock, there’s really no reason the Broncos couldn’t take another quarterback in 2020 if they really fall for one. And they have that extra third-rounder now as capital, if they need to move up to do it.

Audibles at the Line: 2019 NFL Draft Day One | Football Outsiders

Vincent Verhei: That is an enormous price Pittsburgh paid in that deal. I love making fun of John Elway as much as anyone, but that’s a great deal he just made for Denver.

Tom Gower: I’m with Derrik on Bush to the Steelers, and it’s a fit, but the value is just so much. Bush was a nigh-unanimous pick to the Broncos at 10, but they’re not close to winning and getting a couple players is better than the difference between Bush and whoever they’ll be able to get at 20.

Audibles at the Line: 2019 NFL Draft Day Two | Football Outsiders

Derrik Klassen: There goes Drew Lock to Denver at 42. Honestly, most people assumed Denver would make this pick a full round earlier. For what felt like an inevitability to happen now, at a more fair spot for Lock’s value, I kind of like the move.

2019 NFL Draft | The Best Value Picks On Day Two

Round 3 Denver Broncos – Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State In general, the Denver Broncos had a great draft. They put a focus on their offense and were still able to snag a talented defensive tackle in the third round. Jones had a second-round grade on my board, but he fell into the second round thanks to a run on defensive backs and offensive linemen. Jones can step in and start for the Broncos right away. He’s got great burst, plays below pad level, and shows consistent effort on every snap. He’ll be able to rush the passer and make plays at the line of scrimmage. The Broncos should see an immediate return on their investment.

Silva’s AFC Draft Grades

Joe Flacco is included in this class after Denver acquired him for the No. 113 pick. GM John Elway executed a savvy day-one trade with the Steelers, netting the No. 52 pick and Pittsburgh’s 2020 third-rounder in exchange for a ten-slot first-round drop, there knocking out a need with the draft’s most-athletic tight end in Fant. Risner is the Broncos’ probable new starting right guard, Lock is their potential quarterback of the future, and Jones offers immediate-impact potential as a sub-package inside rusher. Hollins blends plus athleticism with plus college production and will help replace Shaq Barrett behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. I think Elway maximized his picks, pulled off a very plus-expected-value trade, gave himself monster upside if Lock becomes a hit, added a future day-two selection, and got three probable year-one impact players from this six-man class. That’s pretty good.

Grade: B+

2020 NFL mock draft: Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa goes No. 1. Sorry, Josh Rosen - SBNation.com

10. Denver Broncos: Nick Coe, DE/DT, Auburn The Broncos picked up the contract option on defensive end Derek Wolfe, but he’s had some health troubles in the past. At 6’5 and 291 pounds, Coe is a fit in Vic Fangio’s defense.

2019 NFL draft -- Biggest post-draft questions for all 32 teams

Do the Broncos have the patience and discipline to let Drew Lock find his way?

The Broncos’ decision-makers made it clear this past weekend: Lock has plenty to work on and needs time to address those things as the “quarterback of the future,” as John Elway put it. Elway and coach Vic Fangio have been adamant that Joe Flacco is the starter. Everybody involved will have to stick to that, through any losses, Flacco interceptions and the general swirl that usually surrounds a quarterback in waiting. And Flacco, who already has won over his new Broncos teammates, will need to be at his composed best to handle the questions sure to come his way about Lock. In the end, the Broncos will be at their best if Flacco is the quarterback Elway and Fangio think he is and if Lock gets the time he needs to grow into the player he can be. -- Jeff Legwold

NFL Power Rankings: New Orleans Saints on top after 2019 draft - NFL.com

The Broncos seriously improved their football team early Friday evening. No longer will offensive line be a sore spot for John Elway, as the team added a physical player who can play multiple spots up front in Dalton Risner (No. 41 overall), then swung around to get quarterback help -- otherwise known as Joe Flacco insurance -- in Drew Lock with the very next pick in the draft. There were analysts, including scouting emperor Gil Brandt, who felt he was one of the top QBs in the draft. It sounded like Flacco would be irritated if Denver took a quarterback in the draft. Nobody cares if you’re mad, bro.

NFL Links

AFC West roundup: Denver Broncos’ rivals make an impact with their Day 3 draft selections - Mile High Report

Day 3 concludes with the Chiefs, Chargers and Raiders all making a draft impact.

Tyreek Hill decisions expected this week – ProFootballTalk

As explained here on Sunday, the Chiefs and/or the NFL are expected to take further action regarding receiver Tyreek Hill this week. For the NFL, the better description would be “any” action, because the NFL has flatly ignored HIll’s situation...

Josh Rosen on the Cardinals, the Dolphins and Moving On | SI.com

“I absolutely would have competed if they kept me, but I would’ve been kind of bummed about it because I knew I wouldn’t get a fair shake,” Rosen says. “A GM’s not going to draft a quarterback and draft another one the next year, higher, and then play the first one. It’s admitting you made two mistakes. It just wouldn’t happen. I wouldn’t hesitate to compete, but I would know pre-emptively I wouldn’t get a shot even if I won the competition.”

Dolphins open to drafting another QB down the road - NFL.com

In many ways the Dolphins Rosen move is similar to the Broncos with Lock. If they fall for someone like Justin Herbert next year, Lock won’t stop them from chasing another QB.

Larry Fitzgerald: You get the sense Kyler Murray is a special talent – ProFootballTalk

When the football world was waiting to find out if the Cardinals would take Kyler Murray or stick with Josh Rosen, Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald opted to keep quiet about the call by saying it was above his pay grade.

Gettleman: In three years, we’ll find out how crazy I am - NFL.com

I think it’s noteworthy that Gettleman has never drafted a franchise QB before. He inherited Cam Newton with the Panthers and Eli Manning with the Giants. How he’s handled it suggests to me it won’t go well.

Giants sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine injured in shooting - NFL.com

Giants sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine was injured and a former teammate was killed after an off-campus shooting in Topeka, Kan. early Sunday morning, according to Washburn University.

Dallas Cowboys: DT Trysten Hill signed work ethic contract | Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Trysten Hill, who had trouble with his coaching staff Central Florida last season, was forced to sign a work ethic contract with Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli before the team picked him in the 2nd round on Saturday.

NFL Draft 2019: Is Jets’ Leonard Williams on trade block after Quinnen Williams’ arrival? Mike Maccagnan says ... - nj.com

General manager Mike Maccagnan talks through the Quinnen Williams-Leonard Williams dynamic after the Jets’ No. 3 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

NFL Draft Grades: Silva’s NFC Draft Grades - Fantasy Columns

Evan Silva unveils his 2019 post-draft grades for all 16 NFC teams.

Clay Matthews can’t believe the Packers already gave away his No. 52

No. 52 for the Packers is no longer Clay Matthews; it’s Rashan Gary.

Ziggy Ansah visits the Seahawks – ProFootballTalk

We noted yesterday that former Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah is among the pass rushers the Seahawks could consider, and now the Seahawks are taking a look. Ansah is in Seattle today visiting the Seahawks, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Early look at the best 2020 NFL draft prospects

The 2020 NFL draft is a mere 360 days away! Here is an early look at some of the best prospects for next year’s crop, heading into the 2019 college football season.

Meet Salli Clavelle, the 49ers scout breaking into the NFL’s scouting boys club – The Athletic

“I’m still treated like a scout, which is pretty cool. They don’t treat me, oh, she’s a woman scout. They just treat me as a scout.”

Super Bowl, divisional odds, over/under and playoff odds for all 32 NFL teams for 2019 season

The Browns -- yes, those same Browns who won one game in two seasons before last year’s 7-win campaign -- are favorites in the AFC North. Here are the odds you need to know for all 32 NFL teams.