What a wild 1st Round that was last night. We knew it was going to be unpredictable, but I don’t think anybody realized exactly what that would result in.
Personally, I expected a few trades to occur very early on. However, the first trade didn’t happen until the Bills moved up to #7. After that, all hell broke loose.
Some highly rated prospects fell. Some lower rated prospects were reached for. For the first time in modern era Draft history, four QBs were taken in the Top-10. For the first time since 2011, no wide receivers were taken in the Top-20. And I have no official stat, but it sure seemed like one of the largest numbers of offensive linemen drafted in the 1st Round.
It was a very fascinating start to the 2018 NFL Draft, and I have no shame in admitting that I was very wrong in my predictions. With that, here are my grades for each team in the 1st Round of this year’s Draft.
Pick 1.1 – QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Pick 1.4 – CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
The Browns got their quarterback and an impact defender. That’s what they needed to have with these picks. But they get a B from me because I don’t think either is the player they should have taken. Mayfield could be a star, but he could also be a complete bust. That’s not a #1 overall pick. And Ward is the best corner in this class, but Bradley Chubb should be more an impact player. The Browns have a chance to do really well in this Draft with three 2nd Round picks tonight.
New York Giants
Pick 1.2 – RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Saquon Barkley is my top player in this class, so I have no issue with the Giants taking a running back this high. They likely won’t pick this high again for a while, so they missed out on a chance to grab their QB for the future, but I think GM Dave Gettleman thinks this team can compete for a playoff berth as currently constructed, so adding Barkley to an offense with Odell Beckham Jr. is a great move.
New York Jets
Pick 1.3 – QB Sam Darnold, USC
The Jets traded three 2nd Round picks to move up here and get their quarterback. I don’t know if they realized that Darnold would be available here, but they pounced, and they were smart to do it. I prefer Rosen as a prospect, which is why they only get a B+ from me. But I do think Darnold over Allen was the right move. Darnold probably has the safest floor of the QBs in this class, but his ceiling also isn’t quite as high as some of the others. He enters a good situation in New York.
Pick 1.5 – EDGE Bradley Chubb, NC State
This is not a knock on Chubb as a prospect, as I believe he is the top defensive player in this class. This grade is more based on team needs. The Broncos had an awful year, and have needs all over the field, including in the secondary, offensive line, and quarterback. There were great players to be had at all of those positions. Chubb and Von Miller will form a fantastic pass rushing duo, but the Broncos had a real chance to fill a need and get a great player at the same time, which teams rarely have a chance to do, and they whiffed.
Pick 1.6 – OG Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
The Colts have needs at every position that’s not quarterback (assuming Andrew Luck is healthy), and they got my 2nd best player in this entire class. Priority number one should be to protect Luck, and Nelson is a potential Hall of Famer at guard. The Colts have three 2nd Round picks tonight, so they can address needs on defense with at least two of those picks. So far, so great for the Colts.
TRADE – BUF receives Picks 1.7, 7.255; TB receives Picks 1.12, 2.53, 2.56
Pick 1.7 – QB Josh Allen, Wyoming
TRADE – BUF receives Picks 1.16, 5.154; BAL receives Picks 1.22, 3.65
Pick 1.16 – LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
Everybody knew the Bills were looking to move up to get a quarterback. However, to give up two 2nd Round picks to go up just five spots is a hefty price, and I’m not sure if Allen is going to be a successful NFL QB. They then moved up again to grab the slipping Edmunds, and while he will help them, they gave up another premium pick, this time a 3rd Rounder. They now have just one pick tonight, near the end of the 3rd Round, and they have a lot of holes on their roster. They get a QB and a good linebacker, but gave up too much in my opinion.
Pick 1.8 – LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
I think the Bears were hoping that Quenton Nelson would fall to them, but they got a great consolation prize in Smith. Whether he plays inside or outside, he could be the next in a long lineage of star linebackers to play for the Bears. Linebacker might not have been the most glaring need for the Bears, but this value was too good to pass up.
San Francisco 49ers
Pick 1.9 – OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
It’s clear with this pick that John Lynch’s #1 priority is to protect Jimmy Garoppolo, and he got the best tackle prospect in this class to help do that. McGlinchey will start at right tackle from the get-go, and could eventually move to left tackle. That’s exactly what the 49ers need. The value wasn’t great, as this is a weak offensive tackle class, so that’s why it gets a B grade from me.
TRADE – ARZ receives Pick 1.10; OAK receives Picks 1.15, 3.79, 5.152
Pick 1.10 – QB Josh Rosen, UCLA
This was a fantastic move by the Cardinals. They needed a QB of the future, and they got my top QB prospect in this class. And do do it, all they had to give up was a 3rd and a 5th. They hand onto their 2nd Rounder and get a potential star quarterback. That’s an A grade if I’ve ever seen one. I think Rosen’s “off-field issues” won’t be a problem down in Arizona.
Pick 1.11 – S/CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Fitzpatrick was a Top-5 prospect in this class for many evaluators, so the Dolphins got tremendous value snagging him at #11. With the Top-4 quarterbacks off the board, the Fins were smart to not reach for Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph, and rather draft a much needed impact player for the back end of their defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
TRADE – TB receives Picks 1.12, 2.53, 2.56; BUF receives Picks 1.7, 7.255
Pick 1.12 – DT Vita Vea, Washington
I think the Bucs did really great in trading down with the Bills, picking up two 2nd Round picks to go back just five spots. I also think that Vea will be a very good pro player. However, I think the Bucs have much more pressing needs, and there were better players available (Tremaine Edmunds and Derwin James to name a couple). That is why they get a B+ and not an A or A- from me.
Pick 1.13 – DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
As far as filling needs goes, this is a great pick for Washington. Payne is a five-technique that can play inside or on the edge, and he’s arguably the best run-stopper in this draft class. However, I think this was a slight reach, which is why it gets the lower grade. I saw some mocks that had Payne falling to the 2nd Round. He’s sort of one-dimensional as a tackle, not showing much of an ability to rush the passer.
New Orleans Saints
TRADE – NO receives Pick 1.14; GB receives Picks 1.27, 5.147; 2019 1st Rd
Pick 1.14 – EDGE Marcus Davenport, UTSA
I debated whether or not I wanted to be this harsh, but this trade/pick combination makes no sense to me. If they would have made this exact trade and taken Lamar Jackson, as everybody expected when they made the move, they would have gotten an A from me. Davenport could be a great pass rusher in this league, but the key words there are “could be.” He’s a project, and to trade a future 1st Round pick to move up and take a project, for a team that is a Super Bowl contender, just seems ass backwards to me.
TRADE – OAK receives Picks 1.15, 3.79, 5.152; ARZ receives Pick 1.10
Pick 1.15 – OT Kolton Miller, UCLA
TRADE – OAK receives WR Martavis Bryant; PIT receives Pick 3.79
I decided to include the trade for Martavis Bryant when grading the Raiders because they used the 3rd Round pick they got in the trade with Arizona to acquire him. I love the trade for Bryant. He gives the Raiders one of the most fearsome WR corps in the league. I don’t love the Miller pick. He was a reach at this point, and there were a lot of impact defensive players available that they could have had. It’s clear with these moves that Jon Gruden is running the show.
Los Angeles Chargers
Pick 1.17 – S Derwin James, Florida State
This is who the Raiders should have taken. If you told the Chargers that they’d have the opportunity to draft Derwin James without moving up, they probably would have called you crazy. But here we are. James has been compared to Kam Chancellor, but faster. That is the exact type of player the Chargers’ defense needs. As a Raiders fan, it sucks to say it, but the Chargers were probably my biggest winner of the 1st Round.
Green Bay Packers
TRADE – GB receives Picks 1.27, 5.147, 2019 1st Rd; NO receives Pick 1.14
TRADE – GB receives Picks 1.18, 7.248; SEA receives Picks 1.27, 3.76, 6.186
Pick 1.18 – CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville
The Packers were one of the most active teams on Thursday night, first moving back from 14 to 27, then moving back up from 27 to 18 to get one of the top cornerbacks in this class in Alexander, who had been flying up draft boards due to his speed and ball skills. Through two trades, the Packers basically gave up a 3rd and a 6th and moved back four spots in the 1st Round to get a 5th this year, a 1st next year (which is huge) and still got the player they probably would have taken at 14. I still think it’s a slight reach for Alexander at 18, so that is why they only get a B+. Despite that, it was still a fantastic first night for Green Bay.
Pick 1.19 – LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
The Cowboys had a chance to get the wide receiver of their choosing with this pick, which they need badly, but they instead chose to take the eventual successor to Sean Lee in Vander Esch. Some teams were scared by some neck issues, and the fact that he only really had one productive season at Boise, but he can play inside or outside and is a fierce competitor. I like the pick, just think they should have gone receiver instead.
Pick 1.20 – C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas
I expected the Lions to take an offensive lineman here, I just didn’t think it would be Ragnow. He is a good player, but he was expected to last until the 2nd Round, so it was a reach. It does fill a need though, so I won’t downgrade this move too much. He’ll help their run game immensely.
Pick 1.21 – C Billy Price, Ohio State
Back to back centers in the 1st Round, that may be a Draft first. The Bengals have needs across their offensive line, so this pick makes a lot of sense. Price tore his bicep at the Combine, and many expected that to affect his draft stock, but he actually went just as high as he might have prior to the injury.
TRADE – TEN receives Picks 1.22, 6.215; BAL receives Picks 1.25, 4.125
Pick 1.22 – LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama
The Titans move back from the 4th Round to the 6th Round in order to move up three spots and get one of the top linebackers in this class. The label of “Alabama Linebacker” is enough to scare anyone given their recent track record, but Evans is a clean prospect, and he’s probably the best pure inside linebacker in this class. He’s a thumper, and he adds a necessary punch to the middle of the Tennessee defense.
New England Patriots
Pick 1.23 – OG/OT Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
Pick 1.31 – RB Sony Michel, Georgia
I hate giving the Patriots credit, but they did a really good job with their two 1st Round picks, landing the pair of roommates from Georgia. Wynn projects best as a guard, but the Pats have taken guys with similar measurables and skill sets and turned them into good tackles. Meanwhile, they lost Dion Lewis to the Titans, so they replace him with a better version of the same player in Michel. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be one of the most electrifying players from this class.
Pick 1.24 – WR D.J. Moore, Maryland
The Panthers have a lot of needs for a team picking this high. They could use some depth at pass rusher, or they could have taken a linebacker as insurance for the oft-injured Luke Kuechly. I expected them to solidify their back end with a corner or safety. Wide receiver was a need as well, but to take Moore over Calvin Ridley is a mistake in my mind. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Ridley would have been much better opposite Devin Funchess.
TRADE – BAL receives Picks 1.22, 3.65; BUF receives Picks 1.16, 5.154
TRADE – BAL receives Picks 1.25, 4.125; TEN receives Picks 1.22, 6.215
Pick 1.25 – TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
TRADE – BAL receives Picks 1.32, 4.132; PHI receives Picks 2.52, 4.125, 2019 2nd Rd
Pick 1.32 – QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
What a start to this draft for the Ravens, and I don’t think anybody saw it coming. They traded back twice, going from 16 to 25, picking up 3rd and 4th Round picks in the process. They then took one of the most talented tight ends in this draft class. After that, they had an opportunity to move back into the 1st Round and land one of the most polarizing QB prospects in recent memory. Joe Flacco has no more guaranteed money after this season, so they can groom Lamar Jackson and turn the reins over to him in 2019. A fantastic 1st Round for Baltimore.
Pick 1.26 – WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
I can’t give out an A+, because to me, that means perfect, and I don’t think anybody had the perfect day on Thursday. The Falcons might have been the closest to an A+ though. For Calvin Ridley to fall into their laps is bonkers to me. I expected the Falcons to consider going WR with this pick, but I didn’t think there’d be any way Ridley would be available. They now have a tremendous 1-2 punch at the receiver position with Julio Jones and Ridley.
TRADE – SEA receives Picks 1.27, 3.76, 6.186; GB receives Picks 1.18, 7.248
Pick 1.27 – RB Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
This is nothing against the player whatsoever. I like Penny and I think he can be a very productive running back in the NFL. I think he’ll help on special teams a bunch from the get-go as well. This gets such a low grade because they probably could have had him in the 3rd Round. I have no problem with taking a potentially transcendent running back in the 1st Round, like Saquon Barkley. Penny is not Barkley, and the Seahawks could have done so much else with this pick.
Pick 1.28 – S Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech
I don’t want to knock this too much because seeing Ryan Shazier walk out on stage to announce this pick was just awesome. I hope he can fully recover one day and possibly even play football again. But when you look at the actual pick, it’s a mistake to me. They need a safety badly, and they filled that need, but there were about five or six other safeties available that are better prospects than Edmunds. Trumaine and Terrell are the first pair of brothers to be taken in the same 1st Round of the Draft, so that’s pretty cool I guess.
Pick 1.29 – DT Taven Bryan, Florida
I really thought the Jags would take Lamar Jackson and develop him for a year behind Blake Bortles. That would have gotten a much higher grade from me. I like Bryan a lot. He’s raw and he’s still learning the position, but he’s got all the measurables and potential. I just don’t think defensive tackle was a major need for this team. They would have been better off taking one of the many offensive linemen that are still available.
Pick 1.30 – CB Mike Hughes, UCF
This is another team that I thought should have addressed the offensive line with this pick, especially with guys like Will Hernandez, Tyrell Crosby, James Daniels and Connor Williams still on the board. But instead they looked at their secondary, saw the aging Terence Newman, and decided to take his replacement in Hughes. Like Newman, Hughes is a little undersized, but he should be effective in the slot from day one and eventually join Xavier Rhodes on the outside with some development.
TRADE – PHI receives Picks 2.52, 4.125, 2019 2nd Rd; BAL receives Picks 1.32, 4.132
The rich get richer. Dropping 20 spots seems like a lot, but I tend to think that most of the prospects that will go in the 2nd Round are rated very close together, so they’ll still get a very good player with the 52nd overall pick. To pick up a 2nd Rounder next year to make that move is huge.
Teams Without a Pick Yesterday:
Kansas City Chiefs (traded to Buffalo)
Houston Texans (traded to Cleveland)
Los Angeles Rams (traded to New England)