|(Dallas Morning News)|
1st Round Grades
Given their success with high-risk prospects like Tyrann Mathieu, the Cardinals seem like a logical fit for defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche and he should help provide the replacement for Darnell Dockett that they have lacked. They had to wait a little longer than originally expected for a center but they got themselves a good one in the fourth round in Evan Boehm. That said, save for sixth round corner Harlan Miller, I didn't love the rest of what they did especially after reaching for corner Brandon Williams.
The Falcons used most of their early selections on their porous defense but I really wasn't a fan of any of the picks. Safety Keanu Neal was a reach at 17, linebacker Deion Jones was a little bit of a reach at 52 and fourth round linebacker De'Vondre Campbell doesn't look like much of a contributor. Also, they failed to address their pass rush or anything along their offensive line. That said, I did like the pick of tight end Austin Hopper as his athleticism makes him an intriguing player in the receiving game.
From what we know, the Ravens were going to take Laremy Tunsil until this whole video came out and then they backed off and took Ronnie Stanley instead. I would've just taken Tunsil but Stanley is a very good tackle prospect in his own right and he helps to fill a need. Ozzie Newsome then showed his drafting acumen with a bevy of quality picks including pass rusher Kamalei Correa, wideouts Tavon Young and Chris Moore and running back Kenneth Dixon. Keenan Reynolds was one of the feel-good picks of the draft and I think the Ravens could find some intriguing uses for his athleticism.
There was a lot to like in my opinion from this draft by the Bills. Their first two picks were pretty good values in end Shaq Lawson and linebacker Reggie Ragland, both of whom help to fill needs at their respective positions. Adolphus Washington has some concerns regarding his athleticism but he should be able to fill in all over the 3-4 front that Buffalo employs. Cardale Jones may be raw, okay he is very raw, but he has got a big arm and very nice athleticism so that he can apply some polish, he could be a fun NFL quarterback. And when he is healthy, Jonathan Williams is a nice running back.
Cornerback was certainly a need for the Panthers but they really went after it hard, using three of their first four picks on the position. The sole exception was first round tackle Vernon Butler, a pick which I didn't love at the time considering there were bigger needs but he was a solid value at the 30th pick. The defensive backs they did take were fine but the first one, James Bradbery, seemed like a reach at 62 and he is rather raw. Also, why did they completely neglect their need at the offensive tackle position?
Some folks were not happy with the Bears trading up to take Leonard Floyd but I could defend it since I think the Giants were gonna take him at 10. They could have just stayed put to take another similar player (like a Shaq Lawson) but alas. I like Floyd and I think he's a solid fit for what they're trying to do defensively. K-State lineman Cody Whitehair was a great pick because he can help out their offensive line thanks to his versatility. Jonathan Bullard was also a great value at 72 and he should help their d-line fit better into the 3-4 scheme. The rest of the way saw Chicago addressing their needs in a reasonable solid fasion.
Considering that all of the top receivers were off the board, the Bengals decided to bring in another corner because Leon Hall is still a free agent and also because you could never have too many corners today. William Jackson III was also a very good value at the 24th pick and his length and speed are very intriguing. Tyler Boyd dropped because of some character questions but we are talking about the Bengals here and he's got good hands. Linebacker Nick Vigil was a fine pick but tackle Andrew Billings was an even better one who was a total steal in the 4th.
There was a lot I liked from the Browns here. Their first three picks, wideout Corey Coleman and ends Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib, were all solid values and help to fill some big holes on their roster. And receiver Rashard Higgins should be a solid contributor out of the fifth round. But one pick out of the 14 was a very bizarre one and that was taking USC quarterback Cody Kessler in the third round. They only took him about three rounds too early and ahead of superior prospects like Connor Cook, Dak Prescott, Cardale Jones and a few others.
I do like Ezekiel Elliott as a player and I think behind the powerful Dallas offensive line, he can put up some big numbers. Plus, while that line would make any running back look better, Elliott is certainly an improvement over a tandem of Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris. That said, they should have went defense (ie Jalen Ramsey). They did go defense with linebacker Jaylon Smith in Round 2 and while he is a terrific player, who knows when he will be able to play after his brutal knee injury. I didn't love the rest of their draft either but Dak Prescott, as a potential replacement for Tony Romo, was a nice value in Round 4.
The Broncos entered the draft still without much in terms of an answer at quarterback but they moved up in the first round to acquire Memphis's Paxton Lynch. Lynch is raw and isn't ready to play right away but his arm and especially his athleticism should make him a great fit for Gary Kubiak's offense. Adam Gotsis may have been a reach but he should be a nice fit for Wade Phillips' defensive front and their next three picks, safety Justin Simmons, running back Devontae Booker and guard Connor McGovern were all pretty good.
Taylor Decker was a solid yet unspectacular selection at pick 16 and he should be able to either be a future replacement at left tackle or play right away on the right side. I also liked the value of A'Shawn Robinson in the 2nd Round and he should help improve their tackle situation that was greatly weakened when Ndamukong Suh left town a year ago. They spent the bulk of their remaining picks on building up depth in the trenches on both sides of the ball and they mostly did a solid job.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay could have gone with better prospects than Kenny Clark with their first pick (Myles Jack or Vernon Butler to name two) but I don't hate the pick either. He will help fill the need caused by B.J. Raji's retirement at the nose. Tackle Jason Spriggs didn't really fill a need but he was a solid value at 48 and he could develop into a quality starting tackle down the line. Linebackers Kyler Fackrell and Blake Martinez were both fine picks and should help address the team's big need at inside linebacker. That said, I would have liked to see them do more to address the receiving corps.
A common theme for the Texans has been acquiring speed and they did more of that in the draft. Will Fuller may not have the best of hands but he is a true deep threat and he should complement DeAndre Hopkins well. They added another receiver in Braxton Miller and he and running back Tyler Ervin will bring a whole lot of speed to the mix. Nick Martin should help out at the center position as well as possibly at guard while safety K.J. Dillon and defensive tackle D.J. Reader were both solid late-round selections.
Ryan Grigson neglected the offensive line for far too long and it came back to haunt him as Andrew Luck battled some injuries big-league last season but their gaping hole at center should finally be filled after the selection of Alabama center Ryan Kelly. And Grigson was not done as he made three more solid line picks in tackle Le'Raven Clark, tackle Joe Haeg and center Austin Blyte. The Colts also made some decent defensive selections in nose tackle Hassan Ridgeway and linebacker Antonio Morrison. All in all, the best draft Grigson has had in a while.
It is a rarity in which you could make a case that a team with only one first round pick lands the two top defensive players in the draft but that's the case for the Jaguars. Jalen Ramsey should be an impact player at either cornerback or at safety and while the knee concerns regarding Myles Jack are legitimate, he is too talented of a player to be available early in the 2nd Round. It made sense that they continued to go defense-heavy and they landed some good prospects like end Tyrone Holmes and tackle Sheldon Day. Also, Brandon Allen should develop into a solid backup for Blake Bortles.
Kansas City Chiefs
Who doesn't love when teams move down to pick up multiple picks? The Chiefs did just that this weekend and they still made out pretty well. Chris Jones may need a little more seasoning but his agility should help him make an impact inside or outside on the defensive line. Defensive back KeiVarae Russell is a bit of a wild card thanks to some character concerns but he has got the ability to play corner or safety. I also liked their pick of corner Eric Murray with the 106th pick. Andy Reid will have his work cut out with wideout Demarcus Robinson but I think that Kevin Hogan could develop into a passable backup quarterback.
Los Angeles Rams
As I said on Thursday night, I didn't love the big trade-up for Jared Goff because they turned over a truckload of picks and because I am not certain he will develop into the franchise quarterback they desperately need. Tyler Higbee was an interesting selection at 110 considering that he just got arrested for assault and some didn't think he would be drafted at all. Should he stay out of trouble (a big if), he could be a good target for Goff. Receiver Pharoh Cooper probably could have gone earlier than he did and the Rams drafted a few more potential targets in tight end Termarrick Hemingway abd wideout Mike Thomas. But of course, this will all come down to Goff.
So not an eventful draft night for Laremy Tunsil, eh? Poor guy has his Twitter hacked and it posts some dumb video he recorded years back and it destroys his draft stock in real time. Tunsil probably should have gone ten spots before he did but I don't think the Dolphins will mind considering he looks like a future Pro Bowler on the blind side. However, his fit right now is not certain. The rest of their draft was a bit of a mixed bag as Kenyon Drake could help replace Lamar Miller, Leonte Carroo (man, what a name) is a solid wideout even after they overpaid to trade up for him and fellow wideout Jakeem Grant has too much speed to not be a factor.
I'm not surprised that Laquon Treadwell wasn't the top wideout selected but he was still a really good pick for the Vikings considering that he should complement Stefon Diggs pretty well. Their next selection may have been even better as I long thought Mackenzie Alexander would go late in the first, obviously much earlier than pick 54. Granted he doesn't fill a need but we love having a surplus of cornerbacks. I don't have a bone to pick with any of their remaining selections and I think many folks are intrigued by German wideout Moritz Boehringer.
New England Patriots
Without a first round pick thanks to the whole Deflategate brouhaha, the Pats had to hit on the picks they did have but I really didn't think highly of what they did. Cyrus Jones may not have been the top defensive back on the board but he does help to fill a need for depth at cornerback. Joe Thuney is a decent lineman who fits a lot of what the Pats like from their linemen. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett was an odd choice considering they already have Jimmy Garappolo, Vincent Valentine was a reach at 96 and they failed to address their pass rush at all.
New Orleans Saints
The first two days went pretty well for New Orleans. Sheldon Rankins seemed like a good fit for the Saints for quite a while and he will be a big upgrade to their defensive line since he has familiarity in various defensive schemes. Michael Thomas was a nice value at 47 and he should help improve their receiving unit while safety Vonn Bell, also of Ohio State University, was a pretty good pick at 61. That said, their last two picks didn't do a whole lot for me and they failed to address the pass rush or their linebacking unit.
New York Giants
Eli Apple was definitely a reach at the 10th selection and he wasn't even the top cornerback on the board (Vernon Hargreaves, anyone?). However, that pick likely got affected by the Laremy Tunsil shenanigans and Jack Conklin being snatched up by the Titans before them. They probably should have taken Tunsil anyways considering they ultimately did nothing to address their line. Sterling Shepard wasn't a terrible pick in the 2nd Round and he gives the Giants hopefully something opposite Odell Beckham Jr. I did like the rest of their picks but they really may regret not touching the offensive line.
New York Jets
New York got their draft started the right way with a very solid selection of linebacker Darron Lee as he will fill a big need in the middle of their linebacking unit. Christian Hackenberg is somebody whose potential I think may be all over the place because he is very consistent. Considering the Jets don't know how to develop quarterbacks, I wouldn't have my hopes up. Jordan Jenkins was a nice pick and he seems like a good fit for the Todd Bowles defense but I'm not sure Juston Burris can help boost the corner position.
Karl Joseph definitely fills a need at safety but he is coming off a torn ACL and was a reach anyways with the 14th pick. Linemen Jihad Ward and Shilique Calhoun were solid picks in the second and third rounds respectively and they should also fill some needs on their defense, although both are projects. Trading up for Connor Cook was bizarre considering they already have their franchise quarterback. I guess the hope is that he could get some trade interest if he plays well. If DeAndre Washington could hold onto the football, he could be a poor man's Darren Sproles.
Philadelphia's draft performance is solely reliant on Carson Wentz developing into a franchise quarterback considering how much they had to give up to be in position to take him at the second pick. I like Wentz but just as with Jared Goff, I am not sold that he is going to be a franchise quarterback and thus worth the haul of picks. The Eagles then barely had any picks until the last couple of rounds, save for lineman Isaac Seumalo who was a decent pick at 79 overall. I did love their seventh round selection of Jalen Mills but for the rest, it was largely meh.
The Steelers really needed to go secondary and specifically cornerback after their pass coverage was a mess at times last year but Artie Burns was a reach at 25. He is a terrific athlete that simple needs to learn the position more. Sean Davis was a better pick in the 2nd Round and he could play corner or safety but he is also raw as well. Tackle Jaron Hargrave may not be your Casey Hampton-type run stuffer at the nose but I think his quickness could make him effective there. Jerold Hawkins is also raw but he has the talent to help out the offensive line. But linebacker Tyler Matakevich was a nice find in Round 7.
San Diego Chargers
I know a lot of folks like Joey Bosa and so do I but I didn't love the Chargers taking him third overall considering I don't really see where he fits in the team's 3-4 defense. Their next two picks were solid as I like Hunter Henry and he should help fill the void left by Ladarius Green alongside Antonio Gates and center Max Tuerk should be able to fill a number of roles along their offensive line. However, I did not like how the team completely failed to bring in any sort of secondary help.
San Francisco 49ers
DeForest Buckner was a great pick with the seventh selection and not just because he, like Chip Kelly, is a University of Oregon guy. He fills a big need on their defensive line and some thought he was the top defensive player in the draft. The rest of their draft was a mess. Trading back in the first round to take Stanford guard Joshua Garnett was a completely unnecessary move, even as he will fill a need at guard and is a solid player. Corners Will Redmond and Rashard Robinson were both solid picks but how does this team wait until Round 6 to take a quarterback?
Germain Ifedi was a Seattle target for a while because his versatility will come in handy for their awful offensive line, and for them to take him after trading down was even better. He is raw, however, and needs some polish. Defensive tackle Jarran Reed was a great value with the 49th pick and running backs C.J. Prosise (90) and Alex Collins (171) were both very nice picks to boot. I didn't particularly care for the rest of their picks so there's that.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
You can't talk about this draft for the Buccaneers considering how insane it was for them to trade up in the second round to take...a kicker. Now Roberto Aguayo is a pretty solid kicker and definitely the top one in the draft but I mean, come on. The great thing is that the rest of their draft was pretty good. They were able to trade down and still get their target in cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III after the Giants reached for Eli Apple, defensive end Noah Spence was a steal at 39 and the remainder of their picks were solid as well. But again, a kicker!
I wasn't a huge fan of Tennessee trading back into the top ten to take tackle Jack Conklin considering that I think he's limited to the right side and also because Laremy Tunsil was still on the board, but he did fill a need. It didn't make much sense to take Alabama back Derrick Henry in the second round considering they already have DeMarco Murray, plus I'm not the biggest Henry fan either. I did like bringing in linemen Kevin Dodd and Austin Johnson as both should help a mediocre defensive front.
Now I like Josh Doctson a lot and I could see the rationale behind his selection but there weren't more pressing needs at the time? That said, the rest of the draft was pretty good. Su'a Cravens should be able to contribute either at safety or at linebacker (both of which are needs), Kendall Fuller was a fabulous value with the 84th selection and tackle Matt Ionnidis should help improve their defensive line. Keith Marshall is coming off a torn ACL but he is a great gamble in the final round. It goes to show how drafts go when you actually have a guy in the mix (Scot McCloughan) who knows what he's doing.