Round 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books and with it came a few surprises, to say the least. Here are my five quick takeaways from the evening.
- Baltimore Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome worked the draft board like a champ. He moved down from 16 to 25, adding extra picks in the process, to find a true MAN at tight end in Hayden Hurst. Then, he traded back into the first to find the most dynamic talent in the entire draft, quarterback Lamar Jackson. In doing so, he ensured that the Ravens would have a fifth-year option on Jackson, buying them a little more time to figure out what they have in the QB and also giving Jackson a little extra time to learn how to do his thing the NFL way. Oh, yeah, this was Newsome’s last draft as GM in Baltimore, as he plans to retire after this season. Nice way to go out.
- The Jaguars passed on Lamar Jackson and there was this not-so-silent cheer from our draft radio room when that happened. Look, Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan is a nasty, quick-penetrating lineman, but he can disappear from a game in a quick second. Jackson, with Fournette, in that Jaguars running game would’ve given me and many others nightmares. We started dreading that situation around pick 15 or so and when we heard Bryan’s name, a HUGE sigh of relief came from everyone.
- The power of the interior linemen came to the forefront. We haven’t seen this many interior candidates in quite some time. Quenton Nelson at six. Frank Ragnow at 20. Billy Price at 21. Then, depending on how you see Isaiah Wynn as a guard or a tackle, the Patriots took the Georgia star at 23. He’s probably going to play tackle for them immediately, but transition to guard in the future and star. Furthermore, there are more talented interior dudes on the way as well on Friday, in particular.
- Last year the Texans moved 13 spots for the most dangerous weapon in the 2017 NFL Draft class - Deshaun Watson. The Saints gave up more to move up the same number of spots and then selected boom/bust project Marcus Davenport, edge rusher from UTSA. Now, don’t get it twisted, Davenport was a top 15-20 pick in my eyes with the caveat that he’s still got a long way to go and far from a polished product. But, to give up next year’s first as well to go get him? I was stunned.
- Speaking of trades, the Arizona Cardinals gave up only a third and a fifth to move up five key spots to get Josh Rosen. That was stunning. When they traded up, it was no surprise at all, but to see how little the Raiders got in return, especially knowing that Miami could’ve taken a quarterback at 11 and the Cardinals were desperate to have one. They could’ve really won that deal and taken Arizona to the cleaners. But, they let Arizona have their cake and then let them eat it too.
Left on the board of interest…
Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa - When I watched Jackson at the combine, I was a bit surprised how awkward he looked in his drills. He stumbled and fell often and didn’t look like the smooth, aggressive athletic cornerback that picked off B1G quarterbacks repeatedly. That said, his game play was outstanding and teams will get a solid player in the second round.
Will Hernandez, G, UTEP - He’ll go early in the second round, but playing guard and only guard was probably why teams didn’t put a priority on him. He will go no later than pick six (Tampa Bay) or pick seven (Chicago) in the second round.
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU - Rashaad Penny’s selection by Seattle late in the first round over Guice was a little bit of a head scratcher, but I love Penny, so I wasn’t too surprised. Plus, the buzz over Guice off the field was louder than it should’ve been. He’s a tough kid with an eclectic, outgoing sort of manner and concerns were voiced for the last few weeks leading up to the draft. Cleveland, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay all have a running back need, especially Tampa Bay, and they all draft once or twice in the top six of the second round.
Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College - Someone is going to trade up on Friday to come get the pass rusher extraordinaire. His lack of excellence of playing the run could be a factor here, but when I went back to read what I wrote about Whitney Mercilus in his draft profile, I thought of Landry. It’s nearly a similar write up which left me thinking who wouldn’t want to find a Whitney Mercilus type in the top of the second round?
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU - This was not a banner draft for receivers, as only D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley came off the board, in the mid-to-low 20s mind you. Furthermore…
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M - Kirk is also still on the board. I though with Sutton’s size and speed, he’d go off the board before Ridley. I thought Kirk would potentially slip because of the perception of him as just a slot receiver. Both should hear their names early in Friday night.
Connor Williams, G-T, Texas - A few things probably worked against Williams to be a first-rounder. One, he’s smaller and lighter than most NFL OL. Two, he has short arms, which works against him being a tackle. Three, those two in combination don’t usually make one a good candidate for a guard. Four, a team traded up right at the end of the draft with a quarterback need. Five, his injury in 2017 took away the majority of his season and his play was hampered as result when he did come back.
For the Texans, I don’t know if Thursday night was any indication of things to come. There wasn’t an unexpected run on offensive tackles but that could happen in round two. The board pretty much came together with few player surprises in the first round, outside the selection of Terrell Edmunds from Virginia Tech. I had him just outside the Harris 100, so that was a big miss by me and I wasn’t alone. I’m certainly looking forward to tonight and what the Texans do with these three third-round picks.