Sometimes teams ace the NFL Draft’s three-day exam. Their picks pair top prospects with glaring holes in their lineups, and their trades not only bring extra assets for next year’s draft but stock a roster with foundational talent. Sometimes you land a transformational player. Sometimes you trade one away. Sometimes you do both in one deal, like the Eli Manning-Philip Rivers deal in 2004.
And sometimes teams make moves that immediately alienate their fanbase and create a chorus of boos at whichever venue the NFL has graced with its springtime presence.
While this phenomenon is typically attributed to the New York Jets and their tortured followers, it’s not endemic to just one franchise. Teams across the league have baffled and frustrated fans by being too smart for their own good, trading up or down for a player who may not make sense on the surface, or picking up a boom-or-bust player rather than addressing a position of need.
Other times, these picks just make us feel sorry for the players involved, either because of the destination or because of an inexplicably long wait in the green room.
So which draft-day decision will leave fans the most confused? We’ve got some ideas — or at least our picks and trades that would infuriate us the most.
The Patriots trade up to select Duke QB Daniel Jones
New England doesn’t move up in the draft often, especially in the first round. When it has, these moves have paid off. Players like Dont’a Hightower, Matt Light, and Rob Gronkowski were all the result of climbs back up the draft ladder.
So hearing ESPN report the words “the Patriots have traded up” would perk up ears across the Northeast on Thursday night. And then “to select Duke quarterback Daniel Jones” would uncork a torrent of curse words so dense and powerful it would escape Earth’s atmosphere before crashing into and devastating an alien planet some 59 million light years away.
New England needs an exit strategy in case Tom Brady can’t, in fact, play until he’s eligible for Social Security checks, and current backup Brian Hoyer isn’t the man for the job. The Patriots need a young quarterback to develop into a starter a la Jimmy Garoppolo (and, to a lesser extent, Jacoby Brissett), but Jones doesn’t look like the guy. While he presided over a prosperous era of Blue Devil football (13 wins as a starter and a pair of bowl victories in his final two seasons), his resume doesn’t exactly scream success.
Jones’ best year — the one that made him a first-round prospect and convinced him to give up his final year of NCAA eligibility — came against an awful ACC where 10 of the league’s 14 teams gave up 25 points or more per game. He shrunk against potent defenses like Clemson and Miami (zero touchdowns, 3.7 yards per pass). He finished the year averaging only 6.8 yards per attempt — 91st-best among FBS starting quarterbacks. His advanced stats are worse than any other passing prospect this spring except Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson.
The Patriots have a boatload of draft capital and will have plenty of trades to make to pare down their roster — as is tradition. But New England needs to address its receiving and defensive line weaknesses before adding a shaky understudy to sit behind Brady. Belichick has done enough in his seemingly infinite reign over the Patriots to earn the benefit of the doubt with his picks, but giving up capital to get Jones would flood Boston’s sports talk radio with (more) vitriol that wouldn’t recede until the regular season starts ... in 2022. — Christian D’Andrea
Dwayne Haskins falls to the Los Angeles Chargers
This isn’t a knock on the LA Chargers or Dwayne Haskins, who is widely considered the second-best quarterback in the draft after Kyler Murray.
Bill Connelly’s data shows Haskins is one of three quarterbacks with the highest ceilings this year. And in our mock draft database, Haskins is a popular, if not overwhelming, choice for a few teams: the Giants, Broncos, Bengals, and Dolphins in particular. (In the past few weeks, our own Dan Kadar has been projecting Haskins to the Bengals.) All of those teams have a pick in the top half of the draft.
You know who doesn’t? The Chargers, who will make their first selection at No. 28 overall. Yet this mock draft at Yahoo thinks Haskins could drop all the way there.
Haskins isn’t a perfect quarterback prospect. He didn’t always handle pressure well in college — from opposing defenses, that is. From a mental standpoint, he played his best when the stakes were highest and the spotlight brightest. The first time he got significant playing time, he was a freshman who came on in relief of an injured J.T. Barrett and led the Buckeyes to a comeback win at Michigan. The last time he suited up in scarlet and gray, he won Rose Bowl MVP honors.
He was only a full-time starter for one season — though he obliterated Ohio State’s and the Big Ten’s single-season passing TD record in that time with 50. He also finished third in the Heisman voting.
He’s not the most graceful runner, even if he’s more effective than you’d think.
He led FBS with 4,831 passing yards, though his stats did benefit from a very efficient, and speedy, Ohio State receiving corps.
That said, if you’ve ever seen him play, you know this kid has got it. Cannon arm, intelligence, poise, engaging personality, strong leadership, and a firm grasp of the playbook:
The Film Room: @dh_simba7 is back for #OSUProDay and spent time with his old QB coach @ryandaytime breaking down some film & reliving his development from backup quarterback to Heisman finalist.#DevelopedHere #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/XHv1Wk5Fa0— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) March 20, 2019
I don’t know if there are any sure things at quarterback in this class. I know there are some question marks about Haskins’ game. Learning behind a veteran like Philip Rivers wouldn’t be a terrible situation for Haskins or any young quarterback. Rivers is 37 and despite his preternatural ability to stay healthy, you just never know when that decline is coming. Tyrod Taylor is a quality backup, but he’s not going to be the future of the franchise: STILL.
WHY THE HELL WOULD HE BE THE FOURTH QUARTERBACK OFF THE BOARD?
After Daniel Jones even? REALLY?
Even this close to the draft, when the rumors are plentiful and the lies are flying at a rate that would make even a politician blush, I am baffled — nay, appalled — that this is even a suggestion.
This chip is on my shoulder and it’s staying there..— Dwayne Haskins, Jr (@dh_simba7) April 8, 2019
— Sarah Hardy
The Dolphins trade for Josh Rosen on draft day
A few reporters have already suggested that it could make sense for the Dolphins — who just dealt Ryan Tannehill to the Titans in March — to trade for Rosen. The starting quarterback in Miami for now is Ryan Fitzpatrick, and finding a passer for the future is going to be the most significant challenge in the Dolphins’ rebuild.
So there’s definitely some logic behind the idea of trading for Rosen, a 22-year-old passer who was a top-10 draft pick last year and could be had at a decent price.
If the Cardinals plan to draft Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick — which is the scenario most have predicted will come to fruition — Rosen is probably going to be on the trade market. The Dolphins should be an interested party.
The only reason I’d hate this trade is because poor Rosen deserves so much better.
Miami is going to be trash in 2019 — probably on purpose. In the last couple months, the Dolphins have parted ways with Tannehill, running back Frank Gore, receiver Danny Amendola, offensive linemen Josh Sitton and Ja’Wuan James, and pass rushers Cameron Wake, William Hayes, Andre Branch, and Robert Quinn. Left behind is an empty husk of a roster that’s perfect for losing a bunch and stacking resources.
Trading for Rosen wouldn’t jeopardize that plan. He could even sit behind Fitzpatrick for a while. But the likely scenario is he’d eventually be tossed into the fire to get destroyed in a Miami offense that may somehow manage to be worse than the Cardinals one he played for in 2018.
Rosen’s days in Arizona may be numbered. If he ends up getting traded, I hope for his sake that he finally gets a chance to show if he was worth a top-10 pick in the first place. — Adam Stites
The Giants draft D.K. Metcalf
There’s no doubt that the Giants could use a dynamic receiver for their offense after shipping Odell Beckham Jr. off to the Cleveland Browns. They recently gave money to Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate, but both of those players are better suited for the slot. The Giants are still missing an explosive, outside receiver only can make big plays down the field from the outside.
Logically speaking, D.K. Metcalf would make a ton of sense. He averaged 21.9 yards per catch in his final season at Ole Miss and dominated the NFL Combine, running a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at 6’3 and 228 pounds. He would add an element of explosion that the New York offense doesn’t have outside of Saquon Barkley. The Giants also have two first-round picks.
But please. Please don’t pair him with Eli Manning. For some reason, the Giants seem set on keeping the 38-year-old quarterback for at least one more season. His current skillset doesn’t quite match up with the downfield element that Metcalf brings. Just look at this throw from the Giants’ game against the 49ers last year.
Metcalf deserves to play for a quarterback with a rocket arm and hopefully a quarterback who is going to stick around through the duration of his rookie contract. That ain’t Manning. — Charles McDonald