Grading Every First Round Pick
You’re guaranteed to be shocked at some point while watching the NFL Draft and 2019 was no different. Two teams had three selections each in the top 32. The Patriots took a wide receiver in the first round for the first time. We almost even made it through the top 10 without seeing a trade. Most fans have probably watched highlight tapes of their teams pick(s), but here’s how I feel about every pick in the first round.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
The Arizona Cardinals traded up last year to draft Josh Rosen. They then had a terrible season. After that, they fired their coach after one year, and now spent the first overall pick on a QB. A team with two quarterbacks really is a team with no quarterback. This pick gets a C+ from me. I like Kyler Murray. I like Josh Rosen. What I don’t like is of drafting two QBs in the first round back-to-back and trying to trade one. There were better directions to go with this pick.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Going into the draft, the 49ers desperately needed some help along their front seven. Luckily, Nick Bosa was available for them and he’s considered by many to be the top player this year. Personally, he’s my top EDGE defender at a position of need so this pick gets a A- from me.
3. New York Jets
For the second year in a row, the Jets are picking at #3 overall. For the second year in a row, the Jets gets a stud that can be considered the top player in the draft. I was expecting a trade here but the Jets did the smart thing and took the best player in the draft. I give this pick an A+.
4. Oakland Raiders
Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
This was the first surprising pick of the night, luckily it was quickly overshadowed by the #6 pick. I like Clelin Ferrell’s game but I don’t like him enough to take at #4 so this pick gets a C+ for me. Ferrell is a high floor prospect that’ll be able to contribute immediately in Oakland. I’m just not a massive fan of the value.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Devin White, LB, LSU
Once Tampa Bay lost Kwon Alexander, people started connecting the dots that maybe Tampa Bay was interested in Devin White early on. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. Devin White is the #2 prospect on my big board so grabbing him here is great value. I give the Bucs an A for this pick.
6. New York Giants
Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
This is possibly the worst Giants pick that I’ve ever witnessed. As a Giants fan, there were no picks that I saw as possibilities that would have been worse than this one. This grade gets a D- from me. Daniel Jones isn’t in my top 50 so I’m hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. I’m not the fan that’s ready to give up on him already. After having some time to think about it I’m approaching this the same way I approached the Odell trade. I hate it, but it’s trust the process time.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
The NFL is as pass-happy as it’s ever been and the most popular strategy for slowing down opposing offenses is to harass the quarterback. Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Taven Bryan, and now Josh Allen should be able to do that. In order to maximize his potential, he’ll have to be used as the versatile piece that he is. This pick gets a B from me, but if utilized properly, he could be a steal.
8. Detroit Lions
Although Lions fans are ready to pack it in after passing on Ed Oliver, they need to understand some things. Matt Patricia is a great defensive mind, if he thought Ed Oliver was worth it here, he would have made sure that was the pick. Another thing is that Hockenson is a fantastic TE prospect that’s going to help this offense in every way. I’m a huge fan of Hockenson and for that reason, I give this grade an A+.
9. Buffalo Bills
Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
Ed Oliver is a versatile piece defensively that was widely considered a top 3 prospect in this draft early on. Another year of not great production along with faulty size worries drove down his stock a little bit, but he should still succeed in Buffalo. With Harrison Phillips as the 1-technique and Oliver as the 3-technique, Buffalo has the potential to have a top, young DT group for years to come. This pick gets a A from me.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers
Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
The Steelers traded up with Denver to make sure they secured Devin Bush before the Bengals could get to him. After losing Ryan Shazier, the Steelers have been lacking top talent at linebacker . In a division with guys like Lamar Jackson, Joe Mixon, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt, you need to be able to make some plays defensively. I love this fit, this gets an A- from me.
11. Cincinnati Bengals
Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama
The Bengals were so desperate to fix their offensive line that they made one of the worst decisions of the offseason by re-signing Bobby Hart to a 3-year extension. The Bengals drafting Jonah Williams at #11 overall improves their offensive line greatly. This grade gets a B+ from me, Williams is versatile enough to play any spot on the offensive line. If you don’t like him as your left tackle, you can move him around. Cincinnati could definitely use help like that.
12. Green Bay Packers
Rashan Gary, DL/EDGE, Michigan
I’m personally not a fan of Rashan Gary at all. He has the physical tools to a be a success in the NFL, but he had little/no production in college. I said previously that I think the best fit for Gary would be with Mike Pettine in Green Bay. I’m not a huge fan of Gary but fit means a lot to their success so this gets a B+.
13. Miami Dolphins
Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
I’m a bit lower on Christian Wilkins than most are but I love his character and think his presence in the Dolphins locker room could work wonders. This is a team that everyone is expecting to tank this upcoming season. Having a locker room presence like Christian Wilkins should make everything go smoothly behind the scenes. This pick gets a B from me. I’m not a huge fan of the value on film but character is nearly invaluable, Wilkins is one of the highest-character prospects this year.
14. Atlanta Falcons
Chris Lindstrom, IOL, Boston College
This was another shocking pick early on. I like Lindstrom’s game, I like his floor, but I’m not sure that I like the value here. Lindstrom is one of those guys that is good at exactly what most people think he’s good at, if he’s used properly then he can be worth pick 14. I do however think that he will be used properly and prove his value. This pick gets a C+ from me.
15. Washington Redskins
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Dwayne Haskins had a bit of a rough week and a half before the draft when a lot of people started questioning his game more, and the tumble landed him in the Washington DC area. As a Giants fan, I hate this pick. As an analyst, I love it. This was a pretty easy A- for me. The value is there, the scheme fit is phenomenal, and the potential is off the charts.
16. Carolina Panthers
Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
Brian Burns really saw his stock climb a ton after his Combine performance. This is the pick that Carolina needed to make. They have a huge need on the edge and Burns is could solve that problem. Burns is capable of playing a out of a 2 or 3-point stance. I give this pick a B, if Ron Rivera can get Burns to maximize his potential, we might be looking at a steal.
17. New York Giants
Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson
The Giants are finally surprising people with their picks and it’s not a good thing. I don’t like the value and I don’t like the scheme fit. I don’t like taking someone that’s only going to play ~40% of the defensive snaps, if that. This pick gets a D+ from me, mainly because the Giants took a guy that’s a non-factor against the pass.
18. Minnesota Vikings
Garrett Bradbury, IOL, NC State
When you run an offense like the Vikings, with the pieces that Minnesota has, a huge part in being successful is to be able to both protect your quarterback and open up running lanes for your running back. Drafting Garrett Bradbury was the smart choice here to fix the interior offensive line so this pick gets a B+ from me.
19. Tennessee Titans
Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
Jeffery Simmons was already an interesting case before tearing his ACL during pre-draft workouts. A tremendous football player that was caught on video fighting a woman as senior in high school, Simmons has supposedly been a model citizen since then. If Simmons really has changed and he recovers easily from his torn ACL, this pick will be a steal. The pick gets a B because there are a lot of “if”s surrounding it.
20. Denver Broncos
The #4 player on my board, Fant is an absolute mismatch nightmare that should really thrive in the Broncos offense. Joe Flacco knows how to pass to the tight end and Fant’s blocking ability will help open up more lanes for Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. This pick gets an A+ from me for fit and value.
21. Green Bay Packers
Darnell Savage, S, Maryland
The Packers traded up from 30 to 21 to take Darnell Savage. The commitment to defense in this draft and all throughout free agency is exactly what I was hoping to see. Green Bay has a new, offensive-minded head coach with an experienced and creative defensive coordinator so giving Mike Pettine more pieces to use defensively is going to benefit this team in the long run. I give this pick a B. The only thing keeping it from being higher is that I’m not as sold on Savage as others are.
22. Philadelphia Eagles
Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
Jason Peters won’t be around much longer and Philly knew that, trading up to take Dillard was a smart move. Philly secured an offensive lineman and got him at a good value so that gets this pick a B+. Whenever Andre Dillard does play, the Eagles can rest easy knowing that Carson Wentz will be better protected and hopefully kept upright. I believe that Dillard is the best pass-blocker in the Draft.
23. Houston Texans
Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State
Deshaun Watson was consistently abused in the backfield last season so Houston had to take the best offensive lineman that they could. That just so happened to be Tytus Howard. I’m not as sold on his game but I think he addresses the biggest need for Houston. I give this pick a B.I’m not a huge fan of Howard but he’s capable of getting the job done.
24. Oakland Raiders
Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Considered by many to be the top running back in this class, Josh Jacobs fell right into the laps of the Oakland Raiders and they now have a great trio with Carr, Jacobs, and AB. This pick gets a B- from due to Jacobs being the #2 running back on my board behind David Montgomery.
25. Baltimore Ravens
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, WR, Oklahoma
This is one of the biggest high-risk/high-reward picks of the first round. Brown is an absolutely electrifying athlete that is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Hollywood opens up the passing game by being a phenomenal catch-and-run threat, a great deep-ball option, and by making safeties respect him, freeing up space for the run game. I give this pick an A-, I love Hollywood’s game and if he can stay healthy he’ll produce .
26. Washington Redskins
Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Another pick, another big win for this Washington team. I don’t think that Sweat’s heart concern is nearly as big as it should be but there will always be a question about it. Based off of the tape and athletic testing, Sweat could very well be a top-8 player so getting him here at 26 is fantastic value for Washington. I give this pick an A-, I don’t think a team would take him before mid-day 2 if the heart was something to be legitimately concerned about.
27. Oakland Raiders
Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
This pick is an A+ without a doubt. He hits, he covers, he makes plays on the ball. Abram is going to add A LOT of attitude to this Raiders defense that kind of just got punched in the mouth a ton last season, that can change big-time with both Ferrell and Abram.
28. Los Angeles Chargers
Tillery has shown flashes of potential to be a dominant force along the defensive line, he’s just never really shown it with much consistency. The Chargers just needed some talent between Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and Jerry Tillery should be able to step in right away and contribute. This pick gets a C+ from me, I think it was a good but not great pick.
29. Seattle Seahawks
LJ Collier, DL/EDGE, TCU
It seems like every year the Seahawks try to make a move that’s more about surprising people than actually improving their team. They have the highest-paid QB in football, both Cody Ford and Jawaan Taylor were available and they took a defensive end that has a 2nd-3rd round grade from me. I give this pick a D+, they addressed a need but it was way too late to get a top EDGE and way too early to take Collier.
30. New York Giants
Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Giants traded up to be the second team to pick three times in the first round. The Giants also made Deandre Baker the first CB selected this year over guys like Greedy Williams, Byron Murphy, and Rock Ya-Sin. I love his film, I’m worried about his work ethic and why he interviewed so poorly, but if we’re talking strictly film, he’s great. Baker is physical, sticky, and addresses a need so this is the best Giants pick of the first round for me with a B grade.
31. Atlanta Falcons
Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
The last real shock of the night, the Falcons traded back into the second round in order to take Kaleb McGary. I think this was a big reach, he’s just not a first round player to me. I give the Falcons a C- for this pick, he’ll be able to step in immediately and start at right tackle over Ty Sambrailo so they get an immediate contributor, it’s just earlier than I would have taken him.
32. New England Patriots
N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
For the first time ever, Bill Belichick has selected a wide receiver in the first round of an NFL Draft. N’Keal Harry is someone that will step in and be able to start immediately and because of that, I’m giving this pick an A-. I like the scheme fit and pairing Harry with Tom Brady sounds amazing, especially considering Harry made Manny Wilkins Jr. look good. Patriots fans should be salivating to watch this offense go to work again.