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Draft Recap - First Round
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2018 NFL Draft Round 1 Recap

Well that was actually fun! I’ll be honest, usually I get to somewhere around the 6th pick before I’m like “why am I watching this”. But this year, the 2018 NFL Draft delivered on all levels. The production itself was awesome, and the crowd was bonkers all night, booing at the right time and backing off when they were supposed to. Nothing, however, matched the electricity of multiple trades and shocking picks.

It was phenomenal television. I loved all seventeen hours of it. I may not have a wife anymore, but it might have been worth it.

Let’s break down everything that just happened because a lot just happened.

1. Cleveland Browns – Baker Mayfield (QB – Oklahoma) and 4. Denzel Ward (CB – Ohio State)

There was no way around the truth concerning the team selecting first and fourth overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. This was supposed to be a franchise altering turning point for this team. The fans probably wanted to walk out of Round 1 knowing that their team was in good hands. Unfortunately the jury’s still out.

Baker Mayfield remains one of the most polarizing quarterbacks in the draft, and that’s saying a lot considering how leaky this whole group seems to be. He has all the tools and while I see some comparisons to Manziel, I simply see more Brees. So what if the kid has some growing up to do? Don’t most kids?

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You could honestly have thrown all the top five quarterbacks in to a lottery drum and drawn any one of them out and you’d have the same luck of pinpointing who has the brightest future. The Browns feel like Mayfield is the best of the bunch and they could be right. They might not be. Because it’s the Browns, we assume that they’re wrong.

But we all had concerns about DeShaun Watson and he’s an early MVP candidate heading in to his second year after coming off ACL surgery. This league is weird and while we know everything about the past, we know nothing about the future.

That being said, Denzel Ward was a mistake at the fourth pick. You just…you just take Bradley Chubb and figure out the salary cap stuff much, much later. The fear for the Browns is that they were going to fall in to the same trap as the Lions did with the Stafford-Suh-Calvin Johnson debacle that destroyed their salary cap. Even if Ward turns out to be a stud, which is entirely in the realm of possibility, he’s nowhere near the prospect that Chubb is right now.

It’s not a bad draft, but it just doesn’t feel like it was as good as it could have been.

2. New York Giants – Saquon Barkley (RB – Penn)
Yes, yes, and more yes. The Giants have started no name running backs for a decade, and that includes guys like Brandon Jacobs who they won a Super Bowl with. Barkley is by the far the best prospect in this entire 2018 NFL Draft, and the Giants now have the explosive playmaking on all ends of their offence to really make an impact. Well, that all depends on which Eli Manning we get this year. But this is exciting and checks all the boxes.

3. New York Jets – Sam Darnold (QB – USC)
It was weird watching the draft guys talk about Darnold as if he could’ve used another year in college. Then why is he rated so high? That’s like a pro team drafting a sophomore in high school and then saying that he just needs about five more years of high school and post-secondary. It’s strange. I don’t love it, but I do love the Jets dipping back in to the USC well because it worked out so well last time. If Darnold needs time to grow, that’s fine because this team needs time to keep rebuilding. See you in a year, Sam.

5. Denver Broncos – Bradley Chubb (DE – NC State)
How do you contend with a division that has Phillip Rivers, Derek Carr and second year breakout star Patrick Mahomes? You put them on their butts. Chubb joins a defensive line that already boasts Von Miller and Derek Wolfe. This was a “best player available” tactic that I will endorse 100% of the time. Jon Elway finally got it right in the draft once again, though he needed Clveland to be completely boneheaded to do it.

6. Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson (G – Notre Dame)
If there’s anything left of Andrew Luck’s body to protect, Nelson will do a fine job of it. If there isn’t, then they probably should’ve drafted a quarterback. No matter what, Nelson was a no brainer pick for a team that needed help on the offensive line. You can’t go wrong with drafting elite offensive linemen. Nelson will be inking a long term extension while two-thirds of this draft class is pining for a job. That’s how this works.

7. Buffalo Bills – Josh Allen (QB – Wyoming)
Traded two 2nd rounders and the 12th overall to Tampa

The Bills had long coveted Allen for various reasons, and I”ll admit that he looks great on tape and in drills. He has all the makings of the prototypical, big arm stud that we all know and love. Whether or not he’s ready right now is another question, but Patriots fans will be thrilled that the Bills are putting time in to a rebuilding project around a guy who is still a year away from being NFL ready. Which sort of makes you wonder why they

8. Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith (LB – Georgia)
No concerns here. Roquan is a man of sheer and utter violence, fitting the Monsters of the Midway mold that Chicago should take more pride in than they do. The Bears are a sneaky good team right now, and if Mitch Trubisky makes a leap like Wentz and Goff did in their sophomore campaigns, I love the Bears in 2018. This is a terrific, smart pick.

9. San Francisco 49ers – Mike McGlinchey (OT – Notre Dame)
Everything I wrote about Nelson applies to McGlinchey. These two have been the best linemen in the country for two straight seasons. It’s about time the Niners started getting some proper new blood up front, especially now that they have a $137.5 million man to protect.

10. Arizona Cardinals – Josh Rosen (QB – UCLA)
Traded 1st, 3rd and 5th rounder to Oakland Raiders for 10th overall
Rosen himself said that nine teams just made a big mistake in overlooking him. Dude, they all got a really good look at you and all of them said “no thanks”. He’s smug and confident in the ways I don’t like, but he’s exceptional at slinging the football. There’s no indication that the Cardinals are remotely close for contesting in the NFC West, or in the NFL next year. If Rosen isn’t professional enough to keep his outspoken mouth shut as Sam Bradford pilots the Cardinals to begin the season, that will be his downfall.

11. Miami Dolphins – Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB – Alabama)
I loved all the confidence building press stuff that Miami leaked in order to assure Ryan Tannehill, as if a massive contract extension wasn’t enough. Fitzpatrick is perhaps the best secondary player in this draft and goes a long way in giving the Dolphins an edge that they lack. People seemed to throw touchdowns on this team at will. A great add no question. Four and a half out of five pigskins.

12. Tampa Bay Bucs – Vita Vea (DT – Washington)
Traded 7th overall for 12th, 56th and 60th pick in 2018 NFL Draft

The Bucs wheeled like front office champions…and then took the wrong guy? It’s like this team can’t help themselves from trying to draft defensive linemen. Vita Vea is an unreal, mountain of a man, but he’s not Derwin Smith who most certainly filled a position of need. That being said, all of the defensive linemen outside of Gerald McCoy are a bit long in the tooth and Vea adds some much needed youth in the trenches. I’m not panning the pick as much as other people, but Smith would’ve seemed like the better pick. Don’t worry, Tampa fans! They have three more picks to screw up in Round 2! A great trade. Maybe not the best choice with the pick they traded down for.

13. Washington Redskins – Da’Ron Payne (DT – Alabama)
Payne has actually been the more highly rated defensive tackle in the draft. It’s also mind boggling that they didn’t take Derwin Smith either as he would’ve been an excellent match for their hard hitting secondary. Such is life. Payne is the bringer of his namesake and will be much loved in Washington…and much needed.

14. New Orleans Saints – Marcus Davenport (DE – Texas-San Antonio)
Traded two 1st rounders, 5th rounder for 14th overall pick in 2018 Draft

Well that was anti-climactic! After giving up two first round picks to get up to 14th, everyone thought they were going to take Lamar Jackson as an obvious heir apparent to Drew Brees (they’re both short! Awwww!). But for Marcus Davenport? Are you nuts?! You could’ve landed this guy with your original 27th pick…or on Friday!!!!

15. Oakland Raiders – Kolton Miller (OT – UCLA)
The Raiders kept shifting back in the draft because…well I don’t know why. Doesn’t Gruden love everybody? Miller seems like a logical pick, and probably the best investment for the money. But it seems like an unsexy and logical choice considering how bonkers the Raiders have been in free agency. This pick sort of got brushed under the rug when the Raiders also pitched a third rounder to Pittsburgh for Martavis Bryant. That’s a steal for a guy who wasn’t good last year that the Steelers don’t want anymore anyways.

16. Buffalo Bills – Tremaine Edwards (LB – Virginia Tech)
Traded No. 65 pick and No. 22 to Baltimore in exchange for No. 16

Ummmm…did the Bills just trade up and down and around for a 19-year-old linebacker (who has an incredible tailor by the way) and Josh Allen? This is like the opposite of the movie Draft Day.

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17. Los Angeles Chargers – Derwin James (S – FSU)
The Chargers probably laughed all the way to the bank with this one. I wonder how fast they put in the pick after James fell this far? This is an awesome pick for the Chargers, who surged strongly to the finish line last year and missed the playoffs by one game. This is a huge move for the other team in Los Angeles. They could literally burn up every pick in a dumpster fire for the rest of the 2018 NFL Draft and still get an “A grade” if I did that sort of thing.

18. Green Bay Packers – Jaire Alexander (CB – Louisville)
Traded 1st rounder and 7th rounder to Seattle for 1st, 3rd, 6th rounders

The Packers sure as hell went out of their way to work with a blood rival in order to draft a corner back that isn’t that highly rated. Alexander is cerebraly talented, and the Packers made the age old mistake of asking ‘what do we need now’. It’s not Alexander’s fault that the Packers have had a brutal secondary for the past three years that’s only gotten older and worse. Now it’s his problem.

19. Dallas Cowboys – Leighton Vander Esch (LB – Boise Stae)
If you’re like me, you probably said, “who?!” when Jerry Jones milked the clock (as he should have) to savor the moment of the draft being hosted in his own backyard. What a moment for him. Vander Esch makes all sorts of sense if Jaylon Smith (last year’s gift in the second round) and Sean Lee can stay on the field. If they can’t, you’re asking the rookie to do a lot of heavy lifting that I don’t’ know he can sustain. Nobody does! Nobody knew who this guy was until Thursday night! Rashaan Evans out of Alabama feels like the guy you take if you’re trying to fill a void in your linebacking corps.

20. Detroit Lions – Frank Ragnow (C – Arkansas)
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Billy Price (C – Ohio State)

Centers often go overlooked as a central cog in the football machine. But neither of these guys seems to be worth a first rounder. I guess if you need to fill the positions out you go for it, but there were many more picks available here that would’ve been more fun. For both teams.

22. Tennessee Titans – Rashaan Evans (LB – Alabama)
Swapped 1st Rounders with Baltimore, as well as a 4th for a 6th
Evans is the kind of dice roll you need to take if you’re Tennessee, who were abysmal defensively last year. He’s a solid player, although relatively undersized and underpowered. The spent a truck load of money on all sorts of players this off season so this pick may not matter, and Evans is an Alabama product to the upside is ever present even if his physical metrics aren’t up to par (for a football payer, he is a specimen!).

23. New England Patriots – Isaiah Wynn (G – Georgia)
Acquired from Rams in exchange for Brandin Cooks

The best part about this pick was how befuddled the Patriots fans in the crowd were because they were hoping for someone else and nobody knows the names of offensive linemen in the draft unless they’re a top-5 overall prospect. You gotta protect Brady, especially with Nate Solder gone.

24. Carolina Panthers – D.J. Moore (WR – Maryland)
As I wrote in early pieces, I liked D.J. Moore out of Maryland more than any other receiver in the draft. I even touted him as a +225 pick to beat out his position rivals as the first receiver taken. And the Panthers desperately need receivers who can make big plays. Moore is a surreal talent and will join the rest of the physical freak shows in Carolina. Love the pick. Love the fit too.

25. Baltimore Ravens – Hayden Hurst (TE – South Carolina)
Traded 1st rounders with Tennessee and received a 4th pick for a 6th
You know the golden rule – any time you can take a 25 year old rookie who washed out of the major leagues and scored all of two whole touchdowns during his final year of college, you don’t hesitate. Good lord. All of that wheeling and dealing for this?!

26. Atlanta Falcons – Calvin Ridley (WR – Alabama)
Nobody had a more wild ride to the draft than Calvin Ridley, who was graded as high as 3rd overall and eventually went 26th. I have doubts about Ridley. He could very much be Julio Jones, but he’s much more likely to be Amari Cooper. Lacks top end speed, separation and seemed to sneak open against bad secondaries or blown coverage. That’s a great skill, but one you don’t need in the NFL unless you’re playing the Saints in the NFC divisional round of the playoffs (it still hurts doesn’t it?).

Pairing two Bama boys to catch passes from Matt Ryan isn’t a bad thing, and the benefit that Ridley will get is playing alongside Julio Jones who still faces double and triple coverage all the time. And at the 26th pick? It’s a great value as well.

27. Seattle Seahawks – Rashaad Penny (RB – San Diego State)
Swapped for first rounders with Green Bay
Presumably the Seattle Seahawks swapped with Green Bay for salary cap reasons because there were no other picks involved. The Seahawks also have so many needs that they could’ve literally taken anyone of note and walked away happy. Instead, they took Rashaad Penny.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Terrell Edmunds (S – Virginia Tech)
A top level safety who can play both secondary positions? Yup, sounds like what Pittsburgh needed exactly. Also cool that the Edmunds became the first pair of siblings to be drafted in the first round. Edmunds is great and the only reason the Hokies were remotely relevant last season defensively. He was their engine, and may now be the glue that keeps the Steelers in contention.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Taven Bryan (DT – Florida)
The Jaguars always seem to be thinking a bit too far forward, and the Bryan pick is an example of that. Bryan plays the same position as their two pro bowlers Malik Jackson and Macrell Dareus, the latter of which is probably on his last legs as an elite threat. This affords Jacksonville the opportunity to take a chance on a guy that could replace them in two seasons. But for a team that was literally in the AFC Championship game last year, it certainly seems like they could’ve done more.

30. Minnesota Vikings – Mike Hughes (CB – UCF)
Urgh. The best defence in the league just got even better. Great pick. The team doesn’t need him. In fact, they took care of all their needs in free agency. He’s a great project to work on. Great choice.

31. New England Patriots – Sony Michel (RB – Georgia)
I feel like New England really tossed and turned on this. On the one hand, they had been heavily linked to Lamar Jackson. On the other hand, Sony Michel is a pretty amazing replacement for Dion Lewis (who bolted for greener pastures in Tennessee). As much as they wanted to replace Brady with a backup they could groom for the next little while, Belichik could not have felt good about Jeremy Hill being his lead back. Nobody should.

Michel has some small, technical problems with his ball carrying but is otherwise a sensational athlete. He was on full display during the SEC Championship and the college football playoffs, where he buried Oklahoma single handedly. The Patriots are routinely bagged for not leaping for elite offensive talent, and they could have gone for Courtland Southerland here but Sony Michel is an intelligent pick for what they like to do with the football.

32. Baltimore Ravens – Lamar Jackson (QB – Louisville)
Traded a 2nd and 4th to Philadelphia for a 1st and 4th
Now this is how you end the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft! To everyone’s shock, the Baltimore Ravens moved back in to the first round thanks to the genius of Ozzie Newsome (who the broadcast team kept calling Ozzie Smith for some reason) and made the pick that everyone was clamoring for the entire first round. The Saints absolutely whiffed. New England went in a different direction. Nobody else really needed him, but then Baltimore came calling.

After dealing with Joe Flacco for what feels like the entire span of the dark ages, the Baltimore fan base finally has a new savior to drag them in to their next era of football. Jackson is an electric quarterback and while he has his warts, he’s also an exhilarating talent. Baltimore deserves someone like him, and Jackson deserved to be taken in the first round.

A perfect end to what was an exceptionally exciting opening round to the 2018 NFL Draft.

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