The 2018 NFL draft is over, and now it’s time to review the picks and hand out grades way earlier than they should be.
The grades are based on a number of factors, including taking the best players available, filling needs and if some good trades were made.
Sort of like mocks, draft grades are more about creating discussion than completely destroying a team’s picks. Of course, fans and teams will see their draft class differently than I do. And some of them will absolutely be wrong a year from now. With that in mind, feel free to leave your own below.
After failing to make the playoffs the past two seasons, the Cardinals needed an impact draft. They got one. A year after just missing out on Patrick Mahomes, general manager Steve Keim moved up to take UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen with the 10th overall pick. To me, Rosen is the best quarterback in this entire draft. Giving up picks in the third and fifth rounds to move up wasn’t too cost prohibitive.
The Cardinals then found a good compliment for Rosen in wide receiver Christian Kirk in the second round. Receiver was a big need for the Cardinals, so it was smart to get Kirk at No. 47. He should see a lot of targets after Larry Fitzgerald retires. Offensive lineman Mason Cole was a questionable choice in the third round. Offensive line was a need for Arizona, but Cole doesn’t have a set position.
Most, including me, thought the Falcons’ draft had to start with a defensive tackle. But Atlanta passed on a few good ones early, including Taven Bryan, before taking Deadrin Senat with the 90th pick. He should get a lot of snaps on that defensive line.
The Falcons opened things with Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley in the first round. This may or may not say something about the future of Julio Jones. Ridley is at worst a very high end No. 2 receiver because he runs nearly perfect routes and has good hands. Cornerback Isaiah Oliver was one of the steals of the second round. He can handle the physicality of NFC South receivers like Mike Evans and Devin Funchess.
With Tevin Coleman entering the final year of his rookie deal, the picked up Southern Miss running back Ito Smith. He’s not a big power back, but he’s ultra quick and will make defenders miss in open space. he can catch the ball pretty well too. That’s one of the better Day 3 picks of the draft.
Ozzie Newsome played all the hits in his last draft as general manager of the Ravens. After making his name as an evaluator by taking Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis in the first round, he finished the 2018 draft with two first rounders. Tight end Hayden Hurst was a bit of a surprise but the Ravens at least were able to move back and take him. Then Newsome made the big move back into the first round to take quarterback Lamar Jackson. If that pick works out, he set up the future of the Ravens.
Of course, Newsome wasn’t done there. He then took offensive tackle Orlando Brown in the third round. A likely starter at right tackle, Brown has first-round talent. At No. 86, the Ravens picked up Mark Andrews, who I rated higher than Hurst at tight end coming into the draft. As expected, an Alabama player was picked up as well in the form of cornerback Anthony Averett. He profiles as a solid dime package cornerback. Center Bradley Bozeman was the second Crimson Tide player for Newsome.
Texas safety Deshone Elliott is a good playmaker against the run and pass, he just has to diagnose faster. If he starts to do that, he has starter ability.
The draft for the Bills will be judged on whether or not seventh overall pick Josh Allen becomes a franchise quarterback. If he does not, the Bills paid a steep to go up and get him. If he does, it’s obviously great. Personally, I question whether or not he’ll become a more accurate passer in the NFL.
Much of the rest of Buffalo’s draft was a delight. Getting Tremaine Edmunds with the 16th pick was a strong move. Some expected him to go top 10. He has the tools to be a star in the NFL. The cost to trade up was worth it. Then on the draft’s second day the Bills got a steal in Stanford defensive tackle Harrison Phillips. He can line up over the nose and produce. Fourth-round pick Taron Johnson of Weber State is a solid nickel cornerback. Guard Wyatt Teller was a nice fifth-round pickup. Don’t be surprised if he pushes for a starting job early.
Carolina has needed a lead wide receiver since Steve Smith was dumped, and in D.J. Moore they got a receiver who compares favorably to him. Wide receivers slid in the first round, so getting Moore at No. 24 was a good value choice. He should see a lot of targets from Cam Newton.
Secondary was arguably Carolina’s biggest need in the draft, and it was addressed with the 55th pick by taking LSU cornerback Donte Jackson. His athleticism and speed can’t be questioned. In the NFL, he’ll have to get stronger because more physical receivers can simply bump him off. But if he’s covering smaller guys, Jackson can make plays. The Panthers got another secondary player in the third round in Rashaan Gaulden. He’s a combo safety and cornerback who at the least gives Carolina a really good depth piece.
One of the better value picks of the draft was the Panthers getting Indiana tight end Ian Thomas with the first pick of the fourth round. He’s one of the draft’s best all-around tight ends. Edge Marquis Haynes left Ole Miss with the school record in sacks and tackles for loss, and could be a nice situational player for Carolina.
The Bears used the draft to fill needs, and they got a few starters, beginning with linebacker Roquan Smith with the eighth pick. Smith is going to be a star in the NFL. He’s the definition of the modern NFL linebacker because he’s quick to diagnose, and he can make plays all over the field.
The Bears needed to get a guard in this draft, and that’s where Iowa’s James Daniels will line up. It’s a little bit of a risk because it’s a position change, but like new teammate Kyle Long, Daniels is a really good athlete and he can handle himself in the middle. Then to secure a starting wide receiver, the Bears gave up a second-round pick to select Anthony Miller of Memphis at No. 51. Along with Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, the Bears have now revamped their entire passing game for Mitchell Trubisky.
The grade would have been higher but the Bears didn’t address cornerback.
It seems like the Bengals always take name players in the draft, and this year was no different. After missing out on center Frank Ragnow by a pick, the Bengals took Ohio State’s Billy Price in the second round. Price is never going to blow you away with athleticism, but he’s an aggressive and powerful blocker.
The Bengals picked apart the second day of the draft, getting a few starters. Safety Jessie Bates III is one of the draft’s best coverage safeties. He’s the type of safety the Bengals needed for the back of their secondary. Ohio State’s Sam Hubbard slid further than expected, but he’s a versatile player with good athleticism. A pick later, linebacker Malik Jefferson gives the Bengals another good athlete. Are you seeing a theme here for Cincinnati’s defense?
Running back Mark Walton of Miami, picked in the fourth round, was a good move as well. He should push Joe Mixon for carries.
Taking quarterback Baker Mayfield first overall is a big, splashy move that will define the regime of new general manager John Dorsey. First things first, Mayfield isn’t the second coming of Johnny Manziel. There was no more accurate quarterback in this draft than Mayfield. It was also a culture pick. The Browns don’t have a identity or a leader. They do now with Mayfield, a player teammates love. The Browns followed up that pick by taking Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward fourth overall. Pass rusher Bradley Chubb may have been a better choice, but Ward is the draft’s best cornerback and gives the Browns a shut down corner.
On the draft’s second day the Browns checked off some needs, starting with offensive lineman Austin Corbett. Where he plays in the NFL is to be determined. Leading up to the draft, the consensus opinion is that he’d have to move inside to guard, but the Browns are set there. That makes the pick a little curious. Running back Nick Chubb, taken 35th overall, is a talented and powerful back who should eventually become Cleveland’s lead runner. After passing on Bradley Chubb, the Browns smartly picked Miami’s Chad Thomas at 67th. He wasn’t overly productive at Miami, but has tools.
Trading up in the fourth round to take Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway was a curious move. Callaway has a checkered past, and reportedly failed a drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine. Memphis linebacker Genard Avery was a steal in the fifth round.
Leighton Vander Esch getting picked by the Cowboys was expected to happen if he was available, and that was the case. In him Dallas got a great athlete who can patrol the middle of the field. He’s an asset in coverage with his ability to read the quarterback and make a break on the ball.
After the better tight ends were taken off the board by the time Dallas picked at No. 50, the Cowboys got good value in offensive lineman Connor Williams. He could fit at tackle or guard in the NFL, particularly if the Cowboys want to move La’el Collins inside.
Colorado State wide receiver Michael Gallup was one of my favorite picks of the draft at No. 81. He’s not a direct replacement for Dez Bryant, but does a lot of the same things. Boise State’s Cedrick Wilson, taken at No. 208 overall is a nice speed player. Watch out for fourth-round pick Dorance Armstrong. He struggled last season, but his 2016 tape was good for a pass rusher.
Getting Bradley Chubb and to go along with Von Miller sets Denver up with one of the best pass rush pairs in the NFL. It was a surprise that Chubb was still available at fifth overall. He’s a player who is just as good against the run as he is rushing the passer. Maybe more importantly, he can keep some double teams off Miller.
Denver also took mirror versions of some wide receivers they already have on the roster. That would be Courtland Sutton being the new Demaryius Thomas and Daesean Hamilton the new Emmanuel Sanders. It makes you wonder what they’ll do with the veteran players, because Sutton and Hamilton are NFL starters.
The Broncos got another weapon on offense in the third round with Oregon running back Royce Freeman. He’s a power back who can carry the load for Denver. He’s a better runner on the edge than you’d think. Cornerback Isaac Yiadom is a nice back of the roster dime player, at worst. Fourth round linebacker Josey Jewell is a tackle machine. He could push for a spot in the starting lineup.
The knock on this draft class is that the offensive line wasn’t really addressed.
One of the first things that new Lions head coach Matt Patricia said after getting the job in Detroit was that he likes to build from the inside out. He stayed true to his word in his first draft. It started in the first round with center Frank Ragnow, who could be Detroit’s version of Travis Frederick. When he’s healthy, Ragnow dominates up front.
On the third day of the draft the Lions got more beef with defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand in the fourth round and offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby in the fifth. Hand is a good athlete, but he never quite lived up to his blue chip potential at Alabama. No one really knows why Crosby fell to the 153rd pick, but he’ll make the roster as at worst a swing player.
The Lions had to come out of this draft with a lead running back, and they got one in Kerryon Johnson of Auburn. He averaged nearly five yards a carry at Auburn the past two seasons.
Detroit showed last season by taking Kenny Golladay the franchise doesn’t mind surprising people. They did so in the third round this year with Tracy Walker of Louisiana-Lafayette in the third round. The safety has good ball skills and doesn’t mind coming up against the run.
New Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst wasn’t shy in his first draft. He moved from the 14th to 18th pick while adding a first-round pick in the 2019 draft. Then at No. 18 he took Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander, a player they probably would have picked 14th. The Packers doubled up on cornerbacks by taking Iowa’s Josh Jackson in the second round. It was a surprise in that Green Bay had some other needs, but you can’t fault the value.
In the third round, the Packers added a versatile and athletic linebacker in Oren Burks. He has to become more disciplined against the run, but his athleticism can’t be coached. Not many people expected Burks to go that high, though.
Green Bay brought in three wide receivers in J’Mon Moore in the fourth round, Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the fifth round and Equanimeous St. Brown in the sixth round. That’s a lot of draft capital on one position.
The Texans’ first pick wasn’t until the third round, but they still got a starter-level safety in Stanford’s Justin Reid at No. 68. He’s a good all-around player who is effective against the run and pass.
The Texans then took a starting-caliber offensive lineman in Martinas Rankin at No. 80. He can play anywhere along the offensive line. When he’s healthy — which he wasn’t for much of last season — Rankin can handle speed rushers on the edge. Houston took a couple of tight ends Jordan Akins of Central Florida and Jordan Thomas of Mississippi State. Akins is already 25, so he needs to be an factor early in his career. Houston needed to do a little more in this draft on the defensive line and at cornerback.
The single best pick of the entire draft may have been the Colts taking Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson with the sixth overall pick. This draft had to be about keeping Andrew Luck healthy, and Nelson is a player who can keep the pocket clean.
In the second round, the Colts found the perfect Tampa-2 linebacker in Darius Leonard of South Carolina State. He’s an athletic off-ball linebacker with has range. The 36th pick was a little early for Leonard, but he’s a perfect system fit. The Colts followed that up immediately with the 37th pick by taking another guard in Auburn’s Braden Smith. Having Smith and Nelson should tell you what the Colts want to do on offense this season.
The 52nd pick was used on high-upside pass rusher Kemoko Turay of Rutgers. In Indianapolis, he’ll often play with his hand down, and then they took another edge player in Ohio State’s Tyquan Lewis. The Colts needed to get 4-3 ends, and now they have them in Turay and Lewis. The Colts obviously did work in the second round, but did they get good value?
On the third day of the draft the Colts got good skill position players in running back Nyheim Hines of North Carolina State and Clemson wide receiver Deon Cain. Both should make the roster and get the ball.
Most though the Jaguars would use their first-round pick on an interior offensive lineman, but defensive tackle Taven Bryan was too good to pass up at No. 29. He’s a little bit of a luxury choice with Marcell Dareus, Malik Jackson and Calais Campbell on the roster. But his first step quickness is incredible.
Getting D.J. Chark with the 61st pick was a good value for the Jaguars after some thought he’d be a first-round pick. Chark is a big play speed receiver who can take the top off a defense. In the third round, Jacksonville got a potential starter in Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison. Coaches in Jacksonville are going to love his fiery attitude.
Jacksonville finally addressed the offensive line in the fourth round with Will Richardson of North Carolina State. He started for three years at right tackle, and could play there or guard in the NFL. Leon Jacobs of Wisconsin in the seventh round was a smart choice as a stash on the practice squad player. His athleticism is really good for an edge player.
The Chiefs were aggressive to get their first pick of the draft, moving up in the second round to take Ole Miss edge rusher Breeland Speaks at No. 46. It makes some sense because the Chiefs need another edge rusher and he can play outside and inside. However, that was really early for him.
Kansas City also moved up in the third round to take Florida State defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi at No. 75 He’s a powerful run stopper who gets low and has good instincts to find the ball carrier. The Chiefs finally addressed their secondary on the third day of the draft with safety Armani Watts and cornerback Tremon Smith. Getting Smith at No. 196 was solid value because he’s a high-end athlete. But this is a team that needed to get a cornerback earlier in the draft. Perhaps my favorite pick for Kansas City was Dorian O’Daniel in the third round. He’s a good combo safety/linebacker.
The Chargers had a plan going into this draft, and it was to get more athletic and physical on defense. After using their first four picks on that side of the ball, it was mission accomplished for Los Angeles. It all started with Florida State safety Derwin James, a steal of a pick at No. 17 overall. He is going to be a superstar in the NFL.
With the 48th pick, they got USC pass rusher Uchenna Nwosu. He can be moved around but his best spot is playing off the edge. More than a safety and edge player, the Chargers needed a defensive lineman. They got one in the third round with Justin Jones of North Carolina State. He can play three-technique thanks to his ability to get up the field and create pressure. In the fourth round they got a thumper safety in Kyzir White of West Virginia. The Chargers finally addressed the offensive line in the fifth round with UCLA’s Scott Quesenberry. The line could have been addressed sooner in this draft. The Chargers also didn’t take a quarterback, so expect one early next year.
The Rams didn’t have a pick until No. 89 overall, so it’s hard to get too excited about their draft. Offensive tackle Joe Noteboom is a good developmental offensive tackle who has the traits to become a starter. How fast he gets there may depend on how many more years Andrew Whitworth plays. Center Brian Allen was a decent, but still unexciting pick, in the fourth round.
Later in the fourth round, the Rams got another depth piece in defensive end John Franklin-Myers. He’s a good power end who will help against the run game. Linebacker Micah Kiser, taken 147th overall, was actually my favorite pick the Rams made. He’s a smart player who lead the ACC in tackles the past three seasons. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was a sneaky good pick in the fifth round. He’s a situational pass rusher, but a good one.
The Rams had four picks in the sixth round, and the best one was Tennessee running back John Kelly. He’s obviously not going to overtake Todd Gurley, but he’s similar in many ways.
After some expected them to go get a quarterback, the Dolphins held at the No. 11 pick in the first round and Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick dropped into their laps. Fitzpatrick is one of the five best players in the draft, so to get him at 11 was a steal. He can do a little bit of everything for the Dolphins.
The Dolphins had to get a tight end in this draft, and found two in Mike Gesicki in the second round and Durham Smythe in the fourth round. Gesicki is the pass catcher and Smythe is the blocker. That’s a position fixed for the Dolphins. Ohio State’s Jerome Baker is a good depth player, at least, for his coverage skills and athleticism. It wasn’t a shock that the Dolphins took Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage. He’s a good all-around back whom many compared to Kenyon Drake leading up to the draft.
The Vikings added strength to a strength in the first round of the draft by taking Central Florida cornerback Mike Hughes. Hughes is capable of coming up and playing man and dropping back in zone coverage. He’s willing to be aggressive, and doesn’t hesitate to mix it up at the line of scrimmage.
With a versatile player like Mike Remmers on the roster, the Vikings were able to take whomever they considered the best offensive lineman with the 62nd overall pick. That was Pittsburgh’s Brian O’Neill. He’s an athletic tackle who can get to the edge in a hurry. O’Neill started a lot of games at right tackle for Pittsburgh, so moving back there from the left shouldn’t be a problem.
The Vikings have several players up front who are free agents after the season, including Danielle Hunter. Snagging Ohio State end Jalyn Holmes gives them a nice insurance policy. Late in the draft the Vikings also picked up Tulane’s Ade Aruna, who is a 6’5 freaky athlete who can be developed the same way as Hunter. Don’t sleep on the pick of guard Colby Gossett in the sixth round. He started 46 games at Appalachian State and should stick on the roster.
Hold on, the Patriots may have just made another trade. It’s clear how New England viewed this draft. With two first-round picks, they perceived the value at the top as good and then the middle rounds as bad.
In the first round, New England got starters in offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn and running back Sony Michel. Wynn was arguably the best blocker in the SEC a season ago and gives the Patriots a player who can play at tackle or guard. Michel is the definition of a Patriots running back. He’s fast and agile, and plays with more power than you may think. He can also catch the ball out fo the backfield. If his health holds up, a lot of people expect Michel to be this year’s Alvin Kamara.
In the second round the Patriots moved up to take Florida cornerback Duke Dawson. It was strange the Patriots traded up for him, and that he was the choice over some other cornerback prospects.
Christian Sam was a sneaky good choice at No. 178. He should be able to play inside and outside linebacker for the Patriots and has good size and athleticism. It was not a shock that the took Braxton Berrios in the sixth round. He’s an asset as a punt returner, and you know he’ll be coached up as a slot receiver.
Out of this draft the got 2019 picks in the second and third rounds. Getting the third rounder also means they ultimately got defensive tackle Danny Shelton for free.
The Saints gave up a first-round pick in next year’s draft to move up from No. 27 to 14 to get UTSA pass rusher Marcus Davenport. Beyond Cameron Jordan, the Saints don’t have much of a pass rush so this fills a need. However, this is a lot to give up for a raw player with a limited pass rush repertoire. This is a pick to make a Super Bowl push.
Tre’Quan Smith is a big and athletic wide receiver who is good after the catch. However, his hands can be inconsistent. But this is the type of big swing a good team can make and hope it works out. If so, Smith will be able to put up big yards. It’s just a matter of how many targets he’ll even see with Michael Thomas, Cameron Meredith, Ted Ginn and Brandon Coleman on the roster.
Fifth-round pick Natrell Jamerson is what the draft is all about. He played wide receiver, cornerback and safety at Wisconsin. In the NFL, his role as a special teams player. It was a specialty draft choice, but still a good one. He may not see a lot of snaps on defense, but he’s going to impact the game for the Saints.
The New York Giants are in win now mode, and they got some players in this draft that will help them do it. At second overall, the Giants took running back Saquon Barkley as expected. Having him along with Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard at receiver gives the Giants one of the best groups of offensive playmakers in the NFL.
The Giants got another big impact player in the second round with UTEP guard Will Hernandez. He’s an immediate starter for the Giants and will open holes for Barkley.
Edge defender Lorenzo Carter is a raw athlete with great movement skills. His production never matched his athleticism because he needs to get stronger. But if he’s developed properly, he can be a star. He should be a solid player on special teams as well. North Carolina State defensive tackle B.J. Hill can play over the nose and stuff the run. He could push for the starting job next to Damon Harrison.
Quarterback Kyle Lauletta, taken in the fourth round, is a nice developmental choice. He moves around the pocket well, and can read a defense. He’s a good system fit with head coach Pat Shurmur.
When the Browns passed on quarterback Sam Darnold with the first pick, he became the obvious choice for the Jets. Darnold’s flaws are obvious. He has to figure out his turnover issues — both fumbling and throwing interceptions — but he’s good at throwing his receivers open and he’s unflappable.
After not having a second-round pick due to the trade that landed them Darnold, the Jets had to hit with the 72nd overall pick. They did with Fort Hays State defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd. He’s an aggressive interior lineman who is at his best ripping past offensive linemen and getting into the backfield.
Cornerback Parry Nickerson was one of the better picks on the third day of the draft. He provides good depth as a nickel corner. Fellow sixth round Foley Fatukasi is a pure nose tackle, but a good one. A below-average run defense in New York got a boost with Fatukasi.
Jon Gruden’s first draft back as an NFL coach was strange. It began by trading down from No. 10 to 15 to take UCLA left tackle Kolton Miller. He’s a solid prospect, but he needs a lot of work. Hopefully it can happen in a hurry because Donald Penn just turned 35. Miller is just an unrefined athlete who needs to be coached up. The Raiders opened the third round by taking North Carolina A&T offensive tackle Brandon Parker. He’s an obviously talented player, but raw as well.
Can line coach Tom Cable do in Oakland what he struggled to do in Seattle the past few seasons?
Edge rusher Arden Key was another puzzling choice. He’s a situational pass rusher who needs to get much stronger in the NFL. He has some off-field issues, which caused him to fall to 87th overall. The Raiders also used a pick on Wisconsin cornerback Nick Nelson, who may not play this season due to injury.
The best choices Oakland made were on the defensive line. In the second round they picked up disruptive Sam Houston State tackle P.J. Hall. Then in the fifth round they stopped the free fall of Maurice Hurst. The Raiders are suddenly disruptive up the middle.
After sitting out the first day of the draft, the Eagles hit on the second and third days of the draft. South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert should easily replace Trey Burton and Brent Celek from a pass catching standpoint.
At the 130th pick, the Eagles got a pass rusher in Josh Sweat that some thought would sneak into the first round. Where he plays in Philadelphia is a little unknown. It could be standing up since the Eagles have so many defensive linemen. If he’s healthy, he could be a steal of the draft.
The Super Bowl champions got better during the draft. The knock is that they didn’t get an offensive lineman earlier than Matt Pryor in the sixth round. He’s a solid right tackle. The Eagles also picked up one of my sleepers in Australian rugby player Jordan Mailata in the seventh round.
For six years in a row, the first pick for the Steelers came on the defensive side of the ball. It was a shock to see Terrell Edmunds get taken in the first round by Pittsburgh. Know one saw that coming, but Edmunds can come down hill and can cover. Still, the value is questionable.
Wide receiver James Washington, taken at No. 60 overall, is a good vertical threat who will help the Steelers replace Martavis Bryant, who was traded to Oakland. Mason Rudolph at No. 76 is a pick that got a lot of attention. Can he be the successor to Ben Roethlisberger or is he just another Landry Jones? At the least, it was a good value choice. Western Michigan left tackle Chukwuma Okorafor could move to the right in the NFL, but he’s a solid player and a replacement for Chris Hubbard. Taken in the fifth round, safety Marcus Allen graded out higher than Edmunds for some.
From a value standpoint, arguably Pittsburgh’s best choice was Jaylen Samuels of North Carolina State. He’s a combo tight end, fullback and running back. If there’s a team that can figure out how to use him, it’s the Steelers.
The ninth pick may have seemed early to tackle Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, but if the 49ers didn’t take him, the Raiders would have at No. 10.
McGlinchey could start his career on the right side, but Joe Staley turns 34 in August. McGlinchey could be his successor. This pick is about positional value. It’s a little bit questionable at No. 9, but it is logical.
The 49ers moved up in the second round to get slot receiver Dante Pettis with the 44th pick. Pettis excels on short routes where he can utilize quick movement to get open and make a play after the catch. BYU linebacker Fred Warner, taken at No. 70, is experienced and productive. He can play all over the place, and is good in zone coverage where he can utilize his athleticism and length.
Kentavius Street probably won’t play this season after tearing his ACL at his pro day. But had he been healthy, some thought he might go in the second round. Safety Tarvarius Moore and cornerback D.J. Reed are solid depth pieces for the 49ers.
Who blocks for Russell Wilson? That is the overarching theme of the draft for the Seahawks. That’s the lead storyline for Seattle. The secondary one taking running back Rashaad Penny in the first round. The system fit is obvious, and if it happened in the second round it would’ve been fine. but taking him at No. 27 was a stunner.
If the can be coached up properly, third round pick Rasheem Green was a solid pick up at No. 79. The Seahawks clearly needed defensive linemen in this draft, and Green fits the type of player they usually like up front.
As expected the Seahawks took Shaquem Griffin of Central Florida at No. 141. Look, the story of Griffin is obviously a great one. But as good as the story is, he’s a better football player. He can be put at safety or linebacker and make plays. I liked the pick of punter Michael Dickson, the best specialist in the draft this year. Moving up for him was a little odd. But again, who blocks for Russell Wilson? Taking Ohio State’s Jamarco Jones in the fifth round was fine, but he needs developing.
Taking defensive tackle Vita Vea in the first round over safety Derwin James was a puzzling move. Vea is a really good player, and will help a re-shaped defensive line that already added Beau Allen, Vinny Curry, and Jason Pierre-Paul. Safety was a just a need for the Buccaneers and it wasn’t addressed until the fourth round with Jordan Whitehead of Pittsburgh.
Between those two picks the Buccaneers got some starters in cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis. Taken at No. 63 overall, Davis was a good value at the end of the second round. Running back Ronald Jones II is a playmaker and should get a majority of the carries for the Buccaneers. He may be an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate. Alex Cappa has good potential at guard.
Sixth round guard Jack Cichy could stick as a nice backup if he can stay healthy. Had he not been injured last year, he may have been a top 100 pick.
The Titans jumped ahead of the New England Patriots in the first to take take Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans. That alone earned head Titans head coach Mike Vrabel some credit. Evans played a lot on the outside at Alabama and has the physicality to play the middle.
Tennessee then jumped up to the 41st pick in the second round to take Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry. From a draft value standpoint, getting him was a great selection. However, the pick cost of Nos. 57 and 89 was high, and there are concerns about his health. But if’s healthy, the Titans have a rebuilt linebacker unit. Fifth-round pick Dane Cruikshank gives Tennessee a versatile defensive back who can play safety and cornerback.
Arguably no team had a better first two picks in the draft than Washington. It started with defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne with the 13th pick in the first round. He rejoins former Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen in Washington and gives them a pair of excellent run stuffers. Payne is better than he’s getting credit for at creating pressure.
Derrius Guice was the storyline of the second round of the draft and a steal at No. 59. On pure talent, Guice is a first-round player. He runs with balance, vision and power. He’s also deceptively fast. If Guice is clean off the field, Washington has a star back.
Offensive tackle Geron Christian, taken 74th, is one of the draft’s more athletic pass blockers. He may not see the field for a while, but there’s a lot to work with in his game. Washington got another run stopper in the fifth round with Virginia Tech’s Tim Settle. He was by far by best player available when he was selected. He may not be an every down player, but he’s a good run stopper. If he can stay healthy, sixth-round pick Shaun Dion Hamilton could be a good player as a weak-side linebacker.