First Round Pick Grades
- Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma (C-)
This is not an absolute bust of a pick because at least it is a quarterback. However, how many times has this team tried to get cute finding the newest small quarterback with guys like Weeden, Manziel, and Kessler. He can play, but Big 12 quarterbacks rarely do well in the NFL. He is also the 4th quarterback on most analysts big boards. This is borderline a failing grade in my book.
- New York Giants: Saquon Barkley RB Penn St (B-)
I am not a big running back in the first round guy and also not a fan of teams passing on Sam Darnold twice. The bridge for Eli was sitting here and they went for a running back. In the past 5 seasons alone none of the top backs were big factors in Super Bowl runs. From Le'Veon Bell to Adrian Peterson to Zeke Elliott to even way back to Gale Sayers and Barry Sanders. It is an over draft for an over hyped position. Plus, this line is still bad. The only reason why this is a B is because he can play and make yards. I just do not think he is the answer to all their woes like a quarterback could be.
- New York Jets: Sam Darnold QB USC (A++)
Wow! The Jets may have actually found their replacement for Joe Namath after all of these years. Darnold can handle the New York media, be a great leader, and will be a sponge learning from Josh McCown. The Jets have to be in heaven for taking a risk moving up to the 3rd pick and still coming away with the top quarterback. If they some how do mess this up then you know the Jets are totally cursed.
- Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward CB Ohio St (C)
The Browns keep Browning all over the place. Not only do they pass on the top quarterback, but they also passed on the top edge rusher. Ward can be a fine corner, but he is too undersized for my liking being a top 5 pick at corner. Also, corners are too dependent on a pass rush for them to be successful. I also do not get the hype of Buckeye corners just because one in Marshon Lattimore worked after guys like Bradley Roby, Eli Apple, and Gareon Conley have not done much. Another terrible pick where they could have found two generational players and they came away with none.
- Denver Broncos: Bradley Chubb DE N.C. State (A++)
This is how teams like the Broncos, Patriots, Ravens, and Steelers continually win the draft. Bad teams take stupid players and let good teams land the good ones. In this case the Broncos win big time pairing Chubb with Von Miller recreating their top defense during their Super Bowl run. They could have taken a quarterback, but I trust Chubb more and Case Keenum at quarterback than making Keenum compete with a rookie.
- Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson OG Notre Dame (A)
Not a sexy pick at all, but it was the right pick for this team. They have two injury prone guards on their roster in Jack Mewhort and Matt Slauson with Nelson in the fold they will have a rock solid option at least in one spot. I do not have this at an A+ since I think they should have traded down gathering more picks over just a guard even though I know he is a Pro Bowl caliber player. Zach Martin alone is not bringing the Cowboys to a Super Bowl and neither will Nelson in the long run.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Traded to the Bills - Josh Allen QB Wyoming (C+)
Giving up just two seconds and swapping firsts is not a bad swap in possibly drafting their quarterback of the future to battle with Sam Darnold. If you read any of my articles thus far or mocks I am not sold on Josh Allen really panning out. His accuracy issues is something that is tough to fix just ask Jeff George, Jay Cutler, and others over the years. However, if they do let him sit behind A.J. McCarron for a year then maybe it does work out. At least they took a shot at quarterback making the future of the AFC East once Brady retires very interesting.
- Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith LB Georgia (B-)
Not a terrible pick really, but I would have preferred them moving down to get more draft capital and still land a top defender. I am also skeptical of a small linebacker in the middle of the defense and the fact that in the modern day NFL inside linebackers have not really made or break a defense. Some top linebackers like Luke Kuechly, Lavonte David, and Ryan Shazier have yet to sniff really good success without a talented surrounding cast. Though if he does perform like he can for 10+ plus years and captain a top defense then they could have done worst.
- San Francisco 49ers: Mike McGlinchey OT Notre Dame (C+)
Not a terrible pick, but this was a bit of a reach even though the 49ers under John Lynch have not been shy taking guys no matter where they are if they like them. He can be a solid left tackle, but I think he would be a much better right tackle. Book ending him with Joe Staley on the left side can give them a Titans esque line when they drafted Jack Conklin in the same slot two years ago. Not bad, but trading back would have been better and getting him a bit later.
- Oakland Raiders: Traded to the Cardinals - Josh Rosen QB UCLA (A)
Again, trading a second and third pick essentially to get a quarterback is not bad much like the Bills earlier. Especially after the hauls the Chiefs and Texans gave up last year to move up. Rosen was the second best quarterback in my eyes and many others throughout this process. If you're worried about him being "too smart" then you're just a weak coach not comfortable being challenged. My biggest issue is his durability issues and if that gets magnified in the NFL. Sitting behind Bradford and bulking up a bit can help him a lot. I also, like him sliding a bit and being questioned that may create a chip on his shoulder he needs to work harder. The Cardinals had to make this pick since they were the only team in the NFC without a solid quarterback moving forward and now landed the one with the highest floor in this draft.
- Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick DB Alabama (B+)
I am normally not fans of Alabama defensive backs since they have the benefit of playing behind top defensive lines. However, not many earn a starting job as a freshman with coverage calling duties like Fitzpatrick. He is not the fastest, biggest, or most explosive, but he is a pure solid all around football player. Fitzpatrick is a solid pick and gives them a chess piece to battle these new quarterbacks coming into their division. The only knock on him is he has yet to really hone his craft at one position moving around often on defense.
- Buffalo Bills: Traded to the Bucs - Vita Vea DT Washington (A)
I love this pick even though it is a bit redundant with them already having Gerald McCoy, but their All-Pro stud has been a tad injury prone. Vea in the fold will take pressure off Vea and clear out room for their talented linebackers. They could have gone defensive back, but they have had trouble with drafting that side in the first round so this is a very good safe pick here. They also got a few draft picks and still probably got their guy so all around very good pick.
- Washington Redskins: Da\'Ron Payne DT Alabama (A+)
If you read my mocks I have been a big fan of Payne's for a long time. I like him a tad more than Vea due to his ability to rush up field rather than be an at the line stuffer like Vea. Payne to me also has more upside as he gains more experience having been stuck behind his former and now current teammate Jonathan Allen. If Allen can stay healthy the two can make an exciting tandem in the middle of their defense. Good pick all around.
- Green Bay Packers: Traded to the Saints - Marcus Davenport DE UTSA (D)
Giving them a D for Davenport and for how bad this pick is. I follow a strict code of not using future assets to move up in the draft even for a quarterback and especially first rounders. The Saints just did that on a non quarterback and it will come back to haunt them if say Brees retires suddenly next season. Davenport can turn into a nice pass rusher down the line and he was the 2nd best in a weak class, but this is still to risky of a move. The only plus here is that they continue to focus on upgrading this defense.
- Arizona Cardinals: Trade to the Raiders - Kolton Miller OT UCLA (F)
This is a terrible over draft and now we are officially in Jon Gruden drafting his "grinders" as he continues to show me that he is out of touch with the NFL. Miller is too thin to start immediatley and needs a year in an NFL weight room before he is really ready to play in my book. He could be a good tackle down the line, but you don't draft a tackle in the first round and sit him so he will probably be a poor right tackle with his lack of power. This is just a bad pick and the Raiders continue their recent trend of poor drafting after one miracle season with Khalil Mack and Derek Carr.
- Baltimore Ravens: Trade to the Bills - Tremaine Edmunds LB Virginia Tech (C)
Again, not a fan moving up for a positional player, but they really did not budget too much of the future to do so. They also take a possible stud that slid more than expected in this draft. Coach Sean McDermott did want his linebackers to fit his system and Edmunds can be that guy. His age worries me at 19 meaning he will probably hit his prime years after his rookie deal that may cost them or make them hesitant to give him his fifth year option if he struggles. Not a bad pick possibly moving forward, but I am not sold on him really panning out and not a fan of moving up for positional guys.
- Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James S Florida St (B)
This was the right pick and they were linked to him for awhile now. He is a talented safety with a ton of upside thanks to his size, strength, and speed. They finally land their replacement for Eric Weddle two off seasons later and have a talented back of the defense guy to go along with their pass rushers. His only downside is his rawness and his lack of natural instincts worries me a bit. However, he has explosive ability to be a steal here.
- Seattle Seahawks: Traded to the Packers - Jaire Alexander CB Louisville (D)
I am not a buyer of Alexander's talent. He also comes with some off field baggage and big medical red flags attributed to his knee in particular. Trading down was smart at first, but now moving up to land a corner who is in my opinion just as good as Mike Hughes, Josh Jackson, and Donte Jackson who they could have gotten at 27 would have been a better pick. Plus, they have been terrible drafting defensive backs of late and need to fix that pass rush to help out their young secondary. Bad pick if you ask me.
- Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch LB Boise St (D+)
I was never sold on LVE's potential after being a one year wonder this past season. He is a big and long talented linebacker who can cover well. However, the Cowboys had bigger needs and could have landed a better valued linebacker later. He also comes with some major injury concerns with his neck issues. I do like that he gives them an option to take the reigns if Sean Lee continues to get hurt. They really could have done better still.
- Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow C Arkansas (C)
I love Ragnow and would have loved to see him get him in the 2nd round and go edge rusher here. This is a deep center class in my opinion and they could have gotten someone similar or Ragnow later. He should be a solid player however and can see him turning into a Travis Fredrick type pick here where ever one hates it, but it turns out great. I would love to be wrong since I do like Ragnow a lot.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Billy Price C Ohio St (B)
Price would have made more sense to the Lions instead of Ragnow there if they chose they really were determined to go with center there. Price was already pegged to be a first rounder and his injury could have seen him slide. However, he is set to be ready by camp in August. This is a good pick for a team who needed to find a new center to maybe pull this mediocre line together. Solid albeit non flashy pick.
- Buffalo Bills: Traded to the Ravens then to the Titans - Rashaan Evans LB Alabama (C-)
Again, I hate moving up for positional players it just makes no sense to budget picks for a middle linebacker. Especially, Evans who I like, but have him more in the second round range. Linebackers really do not factor into top defenses as much as they used to. Unless, if they put Evans on the edge where he could possibly fit under the tutelage of new head coach Mike Vrabel then this pick can make sense. Not a huge fan of the pick and the Titans using picks to move up to make it.
- New England Patriots: Isaiah Wynn OT Georgia (C+)
This is the time when borderline guys in the first round can start blurring the line. One of those guys is Wynn who I am not shocked went this high and to a team in need of a tackle. However, I am not sure he stays there long term with his shorter arms and kicking inside is probably a better fit. I doubt he is a replacement for Nate Solder on the left side. Overall, not a great pick and you know what the Patriots are not known for being good drafters in the first round in particular over the years.
- Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore WR Maryland (C-)
This pick makes no sense to me since he does essentially the same stuff as Curtis Samuel and Christian McCaffrey. He is even the same size and runs like a running back like both of them. I am never a fan of redundancy on an offense and think when they're more diversified they are more dangerous. Now the Panthers have a lot of the same things making it easier to defend. Speaking of defense I think that side of the ball needed more help than offense. I think Moore will just be another bust late first round receiver that is becoming a growing trend in recent seasons.
- Tennessee Titans: Traded to the Ravens - Hayden Hurst TE South Carolina (B)
The only reason this pick is a B is how they were able to move down and gather a lot of extra picks. I am not a huge fan of the Ravens trying so hard to find a tight end to rival what the Patriots accomplished drafting Rob Gronkowski. Drafting Calvin Ridley would have made more sense in my opinion and this is still a reach even though they traded down a few times. Hurst to me was not even the clear cut top tight end and at his age of 25 I do not know how much of a ceiling he truly has even though he is just now playing tight end the past couple seasons after being a minor league baseball player. Not a great pick in my opinion.
- Atlanta Falcons: Calvin Ridley WR Alabama (B+)
I really like this pick, but I am not sold he can be a true number one target. His talent is much better than the other receivers in my book with his hands, route running, and savvy technique being an experienced player. He should step in day one and take attention away from Julio Jones for once. Plus, they have his former OC in Steve Sarkisian that can help his transition be easier possibly. I would not be shocked if he has a Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster type impact this season. Solid pick that made a lot of sense.
- New Orleans Saints: Traded to the Packers then to the Seahawks - Rashaad Penny RB San Diego St (Millen Grade)
Trading down was smart, but Penny really?!?!?! I had to steal Walterfootball's Millen grade for this one. Penny is the 10th or further down the line best back in the draft. Not only do I hate running backs in the first round, but especially ones that are not dynamic nor are they good pass catchers. Penny is an old school one cut back who I am not sure can even beat out the ones they already had on their roster. It's official John Schneider's drafting abilities the further away Pete Carroll is from his time at USC has gone in the trash.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Terrell Edmunds S Virginia Tech (C+)
I think the safety position has been marginalized a tad as offenses are getting smarter to avoid the good ones. Guys like Fitzpatrick and James earlier make sense due to their athletic talent. Then the ones like Edmunds who are more projects with a decent upside is a bit too risky to take in the first round. The Steelers taking a safety makes sense, but I am just not sure here was the right time and if Edmunds was the right guy.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Taven Bryan DT Florida (B-)
Not a big fan of Bryan as a prospect, but he could have gone as high as 19 to the Cowboys so this is a bit of a nice value. However, Bryan is a bit of a project and players from Florida recently leave a lot to be desired in the NFL. He lucks out sitting behind Marcell Dareus and Malik Jackson. It's a pick that makes sense for them since Jackson's contract may be a burden on them next year as their cap space is becoming an issue. I am not a fan of the prospect, but this pick is not terrible.
- Minnesota Vikings: Mike Hughes CB UCF (B-)
Again pick makes sense, but I am not a fan of the prospect. Hughes is a talented athlete, but is being forced up boards due to the demand at the position. He is more of a mid to late second round talent in most drafts, but this corner class is generally weak all around. However, the Vikings did need an upgrade across from Xavier Rhodes and this pick makes sense. I cannot fault them going with Hughes this late in the first round.
- New England Patriots: Sony Michel RB Georgia (C)
This pick makes sense for the Patriots after losing Dion Lewis, but then why bring in Jeremy Hill and all these other backs over the past couple seasons. I also still stand behind my philosophy of drafting running backs later in the draft. In fact, the Patriots are the reason why always finding backs later or undrafted that make plays for them. I am sure Michel will play well for them, but this pick confuses me coming from a team that has been using heavy running back rotations over the past few years.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Traded to the Ravens - Lamar Jackson QB Louisville (C-)
Joe Flacco is now on shaky ground, but I was still not a fan of them trading up to get him. I really like Lamar Jackson's talent, but I am not totally sold on him being successful. Also, if they do transition to him it will not be totally smooth since Flacco's offense and Jackson's will probably be two totally different schemes to fit their different skill sets. Maybe in a year or two he can prove me wrong. This pick does make sense to help them maybe move off from Flacco, but I am not sold on Jackson being that guy.