The Texans draft is in the books, but their 13 opponents had their at-bats as well. Unfortunately, the AFC South, in particular, did well, in my estimation.
The Titans added future starters all the way through the draft, starting with defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons. Ironically, he might be the one player who doesn’t do a ton this year due to an ACL tear in pre-draft training in January. On the air on Friday night, I called the A.J. Brown pick as the Titans needed another dependable piece in the passing game. But, I threw my water bottle at the wall when Charlotte guard Nate Davis was selected in the third round. I had a huge draft crush on the neck-roll-wearing/frog-stance-having interior destroyer. Here’s their full draft:
1st - Defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
2nd - Wide receiver A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
3rd - Interior OL Nate Davis, Charlotte
4th - Safety Amani Hooker, Iowa
5th - Edge D’andre Walker, Georgia
6th – Off-the-ball linebacker David Long, West Virginia
Hooker is a versatile chess piece in any secondary and Walker might have been the best fifth-round pick in this draft. He’s as dynamic a pass rusher as any Day 2 prospect. I had him at #52 in my final Harris 100 rankings. Long? He was just the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Yikes, what an excellent draft for the Titans.
Jacksonville’s top two picks were probably as impressive as any team’s top two picks. When the Giants bypassed Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen (for Duke quarterback Daniel Jones), the Jaguars were ready in no time flat to nab one of the nation’s top sack artists (17.0 in 2018). Then, they got another gift in the second round when Florida star tackle Jawaan Taylor fell to them due to some medical concerns. Yeah, that exact same thing happened to Myles Jack a few years ago and I’m still waiting to see his arthritic knee be an issue. Here’s their full draft:
1st - Edge rusher Josh Allen, Kentucky
2nd - Offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, Florida
3rd - F-Tight end Josh Oliver, San Jose State
3rd - Safety/linebacker Quincy Williams, Murray State
5th - Running back Ryquell Armstead, Temple
6th - Quarterback Gardner Minshew, Washington State
7th - Interior defensive line Dontavius Russell, Auburn
Oliver is a glorified, BIG receiver, while Williams was a complete unknown to many people. Then again, Quinnen Williams who went #3 to the Jets, remember him? That’s his brother. So, Quincy Williams is going to be a problem. I had a running back draft crush on Armstead and I’m convinced that he’ll be the starter there in due time. Yeah, I know what I said.
The Colts moved up and down the draft board throughout the weekend and GM Chris Ballard held to his word during his pre-draft press conference. He said he’d see the media Thursday night… “or Friday” on his way out, indicating that the Colts might trade out of the first round. Then, they did, which left them with three second-round picks. They took Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, TCU Edge rusher Ben Banogu and Ohio State speedster receiver Parris Campbell. All three should find a way to impact that squad in 2019 and beyond. Here’s their full draft:
2nd - Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, Temple
2nd - Edge Ben Banogu, TCU
2nd - Wide receiver Parris Campbell, Ohio State
3rd - Off the ball linebacker Bobby Okereke, Stanford
4th - Safety Khari Willis, Michigan State
5th - Safety Marvell Tell, USC
5th - Off the ball linebacker E.J. Speed, Tarleton State
6th - Edge Gerri Green, Mississippi State
7th - Offensive tackle Jackson Barton, Utah
7th - Center Javon Patterson, Ole Miss
Campbell’s going to be an issue, even before he learns the full route tree. He’s got legit 4.3 speed and is the perfect catch and run candidate for quarterback Andrew Luck. Okereke had a tremendous senior bowl, but he’ll have to win a job from Anthony Walker or Steven Adams to be on the field consistently. I like Tell as an athlete and Willis as a football player. If Ballard could put the two together as one safety, it would’ve been a first-round pick.
The rest of the Texans schedule will have rookies dot the roster, starting with the Saints. They didn’t pick in the first round due to the Marcus Davenport trade in 2018. But, they crushed the second round, getting their starting center for the next 10 years - Erik McCoy from Texas A&M.
The Chargers hit a home run with Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery in the first round. He should find a home in between star edge rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Ugh.
The Panthers decided to draft everyone from the Southeast. Brian Burns from Florida State. Greg Little from Ole Miss. Will Grier from Florida (then West Virginia). Christian Miller from Alabama. Jordan Scarlett from Florida. Dennis Daley from South Carolina. Terry Godwin from Georgia. That’s six players that played in the SEC, which includes Grier who started his career at Florida, and one from the ACC. Interesting.
The Falcons fixed the right side of their offensive line with first-rounders Chris Lindstrom from Boston College and Kaleb McGary from Washington, two of my absolute favorite prospects heading into draft weekend. Keep an eye on greater Houston homeboy Kendall Sheffield from Ohio State in the fourth round - he could be a major steal. A 6-2 corner that runs 4.3? Whooo!
The Chiefs traded out of the first round as a result of the Frank Clark deal, but they still hit home runs, especially with new home-run hitter Mecole Hardman from Georgia. That cat can absolutely fly. Then, they landed Juan Thornhill, safety from Virginia, and agile and quick defensive lineman Khalen Saunders from Western Illinois with their next two picks, both Harris 100 favorites.
The Raiders had three first-round picks and even though Clemson edge rusher Clelin Ferrell went a few spots higher than expected, the Raiders found three foundational pieces in Ferrell, Alabama running back Josh Jacobs and Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram. Houston cornerback Isaiah Johnson went in the fourth round and could find his way on the field early given the Raiders situation at cornerback. But, the capper was Clemson star slot receiver Hunter Renfrow in the fifth round. He has a GREAT chance to win that slot receiver job right out of the chute.
GM John Elway went and found the quarterback of the present when he traded for Joe Flacco earlier this offseason. Elway also found his quarterback of the future when he landed Drew Lock in the second round. Flacco and Lock will love speedy tight end Noah Fant, who was selected at pick #20 after a Broncos trade down. Local kid Dalton Risner might be the best value pick of all, though, and should start from Day 1 on an offensive line that needs some dudes.
Baltimore just got faster and more dangerous on offense. Oklahoma star receiver Marquise Brown and Notre Dame receiver Miles Boykin are polar opposites size wise, but they’re in the same speed range, which should really help quarterback Lamar Jackson. Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill has similar juice, so the Ravens can put a TON of speed on the field and make life very difficult for defenses in the AFC North.
Over the past two years, the Patriots lost pass catchers Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Rob Gronkowski. So, they were in the market for a pass-catcher and took one in the first round for the first time under Bill Belichick - Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry. He’s a bit bigger than DeAndre Hopkins but wins in a similar way - with glue sticks for hands. Drafted receivers haven’t had much success in New England so Harry has an uphill battle, but he has all the traits that the Patriots love and should succeed.
Tampa Bay lost linebacker Kwon Alexander to free agency so it targeted his replacement LSU star linebacker Devin White early in the draft at number five overall. Then, the Bucs went to the cornerback well for the second year in a row, snatching Central Michigan’s Sean Bunting and Auburn’s Jamel Dean. One of the best value picks for Tampa Bay was its fourth-round selection of Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson. I had him in the top 60 of the final Harris 100 and he was selected on Day 3.