After a record 40 trades, some shocking picks, Josh Rosen drama, and a ton of players on defense, the 2019 NFL Draft is in the rearview. That means it’s time to hand out some way-too-early grades.
These grades are based on a combination of factors, starting with player value. It’s much less about player quality and more where they’re drafted. After that, filling needs and personnel fit are considered. Early picks get weighted higher. Really, no team gets dinged for a Day 3 pick, but their grade can improve slightly for a good one.
Of course, these are way too early. We’ll revisit them in a few years to see the true value.
This draft started with quarterback Kyler Murray first overall. He undeniably has superstar talent. It was just an odd decision a year after trading up to take Josh Rosen with the No. 10 pick.
Getting Hakeem Butler at No. 103 was arguably Arizona’s best choice. He’s going to be a red-zone specialist, with his size and ability to go up and get the football. The pick they got for Rosen this year from the Dolphins ended up being Massachusetts wide receiver Andy Isabella, who will play inside. He’s a little inconsistent but all speed.
Defensive lineman Zach Allen, taken in the third round, gives Arizona a player who can work at end or three-technique tackle.
Georgia center Lamont Galliard was a good late Day 3 pick, but this team needed to address the offensive line earlier.
The Falcons clearly viewed the offensive line as a priority, to get the most out of quarterback Matt Ryan. The team used the No. 14 pick on guard Chris Lindstrom, then traded back into the first round to take right tackle Kaleb McGary at No. 31. Atlanta has put an absurd amount of resources into the offensive line this offseason.
On Day 3, the Falcons got nice depth with cornerback Kendall Sheffield, pass rusher John Cominsky, and big running back Qadree Ollison.
Where’s the defensive tackle, though? That was arguably the team’s biggest need, and it went unaddressed.
The Ravens went heavy on speed. After sliding down to No. 25, they took the first wide receiver off the board in Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown. He can take the top off a defense and give Lamar Jackson a good deep target.
The Ravens added more speed in the third round with Notre Dame’ receiver Miles Boykin, and then again with Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill at No. 113. He’s a nice complement for Mark Ingram.
Since this is the Ravens, they addressed the front of the defense with end Jaylon Ferguson at No. 85 and nose tackle Daylon Mack at No. 160. In between, they beefed up the offensive line with Oklahoma guard Ben Powers.
Finally, Trace McSorley is a solid backup quarterback because he can do some of the same things as Jackson.
Some questionable picks in the top eight caused defensive tackle Ed Oliver to drop into Buffalo’s waiting hands. A three-technique defensive tackle was one of the Bills’ big needs, and they got a potential star in the Houston product.
The team then maneuvered to target the offensive line, taking Cody Ford, who can play guard or tackle, at No. 38.
Dawson Knox at No. 96 wasn’t bad consolation for missing on the early tight ends. He needs to be developed, but he has starter potential. Running back Devin Singletary gives the Bills a solid player, if this is LeSean McCoy’s last season in Buffalo. Safety Jaquan Johnson, taken in the sixth round, is a solid addition. At this time a year ago he was expected to potentially become a top 100 pick.
But where’s the wide receiver? That’s a miss by the Bills.
The Panthers knew what they needed and got it. That started in the first round with edge rusher Brian Burns at No. 16. He’s pure speed off the edge, something the team had to get in this draft.
Carolina jumped up to No. 37 in the second round to take Ole Miss left tackle Greg Little. That trade up was pretty costly, though. Little is a player with immense talent, but his play is inconsistent. If the Panthers can figure him out, he could be a starting left tackle.
Taking West Virginia quarterback Will Grier at No. 100 is nice insurance for Cam Newton.
This offseason, the Bears got rid of Jordan Howard and replaced him with a similar player stylistically in David Montgomery at No. 73. This is a classic mid-round running back who can generate a ton of yards. Montgomery specializes in powering through tacklers.
The Bears had to get a wide receiver, and got a good one in Riley Ridley at No. 126. He’s an expert route runner who gets open with quickness. He’s pretty similar to 2018 pick Anthony Miller. Seventh-round pick Stephen Denmark was worth a flier because of his pure size and potential.
After getting jumped by Pittsburgh for linebacker Devin Bush, the Bengals took offensive tackle Jonah Williams at No. 11 overall. Maybe he’ll be the one to fix the team’s ongoing issues at tackle.
The Bengals helped their blocking issues further with Washington tight end Drew Sample at No. 52. That seemed a little early for him.
It was evident coming in that the Bengals needed a starting linebacker. They got one at No. 72 with Germaine Pratt of NC State. He’s a close comparison to Vontaze Burfict.
Cincinnati needed a quarterback and got one in NC State’s Ryan Finley. He’s accurate with otherwise average tools. But can he be anything more than a solid backup?
The Browns started by jumping up a few spots to No. 46 to take LSU cornerback Greedy Williams. Considered by some the best cornerback in the draft, Williams has length and ball skills. He fell into the middle of the second round, though, because of his tackling.
The Browns followed up at No. 80 with BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki, a relentless player who was lined up at multiple spots. The third round seemed a little early for him, though.
At No. 155, the Browns got one of the better players on Day 3 with linebacker Mack Wilson. He isn’t overly physical but has athleticism.
Cleveland needed depth more than starters this year, so there’s not a ton to get excited about.
When the Cowboys finally picked at No. 58, they had some options. Namely, Virginia safety Juan Thornhill was available, as was Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf. Instead, the Cowboys took defensive tackle Trysten Hill, a player who is quick off the line and will play the important under tackle role.
Connor McGovern, taken at No. 90, solidifies the offensive line as a swing backup on the inside. At No. 128, the Cowboys got a do-everything player in Memphis’ Tony Pollard. He’s a good return man who can play running back or in the slot. Miami’s Michael Jackson, a cornerback, and Joe Jackson, an end, fill needs late.
Jalen Jelks in the seventh was a sneaky good choice. He could be this draft’s version of Kemoko Turay.
Denver made one of the smartest first-round moves by trading back from No. 10 to No. 20. Despite that, the Broncos were still able to land Iowa tight end Noah Fant. He could star in that offense.
The Broncos got a steal with offensive lineman Dalton Risner in the second round. He can play right tackle, either guard spot, or center. He will plug into the line and be so effective you never notice him.
The Broncos then got quarterback Drew Lock, a pick some expected in the first round. He’s a good choice to groom behind Joe Flacco. John Elway’s history of drafting quarterbacks is pretty bad, though.
Just about every year, an undersized defensive tackle falls further than he should and makes a big impact. This year, that could be Dre’Mont Jones.
There’s a discussion to be had about the value of taking a tight end in the top 10. But if you’re going to do that — as the Lions did with T.J. Hockenson at No. 8 — then take a sure thing. This helps further turn the Lions into the Patriots of the Rust Belt. Really, that was the theme of the draft. Linebacker Jahlani Tavai was a reach at No. 43 but a player the Patriots supposedly wanted.
The Lions traded up for Boston College safety Will Harris. He’s not flashy, but he has experience and should be solid. Clemson defensive end Austin Bryant can be moved around. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye has size and ball skills. His technique needs a lot of work, though.
Instead of helping Aaron Rodgers, the Packers went heavy on defense early. That started with Michigan’s Rashan Gary at No. 12. He’s a movable piece for coordinator Mike Pettine. But can he live up to his potential after he was often ineffective in college? The Packers then moved up in the first round to take safety Darnell Savage at No. 21.
The Packers didn’t get either tight end in the first round but could get similar production out of third-round pick Jace Sternberger. Second-rounder Elgton Jenkins should factor in at center or guard.
It was a little surprising that the Packers didn’t take a wide receiver at some point high. Maybe the Packers really like Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown.
The most obvious need in the entire draft was Houston and a left tackle. It had to be devastating to see the Eagles take Andre Dillard right in front of them. That left the Texans to take Tytus Howard of Alabama State at No. 23. Most thought he’d be a second-round pick. Houston then took Northern Illinois left tackle Max Scharping in the second round. It wouldn’t be a shock if he got snaps before Howard.
Cornerback was the other big hole, where the Texans went in the second round with Lonnie Johnson of Kentucky. He has good footwork for a bigger corner and will come up and blitz. Defensive lineman Charles Omenihu is a player coordinator Romeo Crennel will move around.
But where’s the running back? That has consistently been an issue under Bill O’Brien.
The Colts dipped out of the first round while picking up a 2020 second-round pick. That was a smart move by general manager Chris Ballard. His first pick, physical cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, was thought to be a first-rounder by some.
It was surprising to see Ben Banogu taken at No. 49, but the Colts had to get a line player who fits a 4-3. Parris Campbell, taken at No. 59, can be a weapon. He’s not going to catch everything, but when he does, watch out.
For the second year in a row, the Colts got a speed linebacker. This year it was Bobby Okereke of Stanford. He can play inside a little more, which Indianapolis needs. Safeties Khari Willis and Marvell Tell should at least be good backups and special teams players.
The only mistake is not taking a defensive tackle.
Jacksonville won by letting the draft come to them.
No one thought the Jaguars would take Kentucky’s Josh Allen at No. 7, because no one thought he’d be there. He can help fix a defense that took a step back last season.
The Jaguars moved up from No. 38 to No. 35 to take Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, a player some thought Jacksonville would take at No. 7 overall. The Jaguars also waited and got a nice pick in San Jose State’s Josh Oliver. Temple running back Ryquell Armstead could steal some carries from Leonard Fournette.
Quincy Williams, taken at No. 98, is a speedy linebacker/safety hybrid, which fits the Jaguars. It was pretty surprising that he was taken so high, though.
The Chiefs made a slight move up in the second round to get their first pick in at No. 56. They took Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman, a pure speed receiver and possible replacement for Tyreek Hill. He’s still developing, so it was surprising to see him taken before someone like Parris Campbell of Ohio State.
Getting defensive back Juan Thornill was a great move at No. 63. He can do a little of everything with a history at cornerback, safety, and even a little linebacker. Defensive tackle Khalen Saunders gives the Chiefs an incredible athlete for a defensive tackle.
The Chargers went in with one of the NFL’s most talented defenses. They exited with an even more talented defense. In the first round, Los Angeles got Notre Dame defensive lineman Jerry Tillery, a big body with impressive movement skills. One of the best value and system fit picks in the entire draft was the Chargers getting Delaware safety Nasir Adderley with the No. 60 pick. They like versatile defensive backs, and he’s the perfect foil for budding superstar Derwin James.
The odd move was waiting on an offensive tackle. At No. 91, the Chargers took Trey Pipkins, a developmental prospect. The Chargers needed a sure thing.
Notre Dame linebacker Drue Tranquill has good range and gives them a nice backup and special teams player. Easton Stick is a decent backup quarterback.
This was a depth draft.
They finally got on the clock at No. 61 after multiple trade downs and took safety Taylor Rapp. He can be a replacement for Mark Barron at a fraction of the price. By the end of last season, Rams running back Todd Gurley was worn out (or hurt). The Rams got some insurance with Darrell Henderson of Memphis at No. 70.
At No. 79, the Rams got their Lamarcus Joyner replacement in David Long. He’s an aggressive corner who could stand out in the slot and playing the middle of the field. Bobby Evans, the big Oklahoma left tackle taken at No. 97, is solid insurance if this is Andrew Whitworth’s last season.
The Dolphins fleeced the Cardinals. First Miami dropped down from No. 48 to No. 62. Then it used the No. 62 pick to trade for quarterback Josh Rosen, a potential franchise quarterback. If he’s not, he’s cheap and the Dolphins can move on easily.
In the first round, the Dolphins helped fortify their defensive line with Christian Wilkins at No. 13. He specializes at getting pressure. Guard Michael Deiter, taken at No. 78, fills a big need. He’s experienced, playing four years at Wisconsin, and should step into the starting lineup. He’s one of the better picks inside the top 100.
Miami’s last pick, running back Myles Gaskin, has a real chance to stick on the roster. He’s a slippery back who will make tacklers miss.
The Vikings had to fix their offensive line. That started with Garrett Bradbury at No. 18. He can play center or guard. Veteran Pat Elflein will man the other. Minnesota doubled up on interior blockers at No. 114 with Dru Samia of Oklahoma.
Minnesota wants to be a more run-oriented offense, so the choices on the second and third day make sense. Tight end Irv Smith Jr. can line up all over the field and is a reliable pass catcher and blocker. The team’s third-round pick, Alexander Mattison of Boise State, is a nice backup for Dalvin Cook.
It was a little puzzling, though, to wait until the back of the sixth round to take a defensive lineman in a draft loaded with them.
New England Patriots
New England surprised some people by using the No. 32 pick on Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry. He’s a big outside target who is physical at the catch point.
In the second round, the Patriots made a rare trade up. They got versatile cornerback Joejuan Williams, who could be an outside cornerback or safety. Michigan’s Chase Winovich, taken at No. 77, has a good first step and good handwork. He can be used standing up or with his hand down. Fifth-round pick Byron Cowart bounced around schools and positions, but Bill Belichick could move the former blue-chip recruit around the defensive line.
The Patriots also drafted a quarterback, Jarrett Stidham of Auburn with the No. 133 pick. He could be molded, but he was inconsistent in college. Watch the Patriots turn offensive linemen Yodny Cajuste and Hjalte Froholdt into good starters.
Whether it was Max Unger or Jeff Faine, the Saints always seem to have good, smart centers. So when Unger retired, it was evident that they needed one. That’s why they moved up to land Erik McCoy with a second-round pick.
In the fourth round, the Saints moved up to take Florida defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, a player some thought could be taken in the first round. He was arguably the best player available at No. 105.
Light on draft picks, there’s not much impact after McCoy and Gardner-Johnson, though those two are great picks.
New York Giants
Oof. The Giants got the most attention by taking Duke quarterback Daniel Jones at No. 6. He could’ve been the pick at No. 17, and even that would’ve been a reach, in terms of potential. Him at No. 6 is one of the biggest head scratchers in recent drafts.
Dexter Lawrence at No. 17 was another odd choice. He’s a good player and should make an impact. But why trade a known commodity in Damon Harrison for a fifth-round pick and take his replacement in the first round? The Giants traded back into the first round for cornerback Deandre Baker, their best first-round pick.
Oshane Ximines is a classic, Giants-style pass rusher with his ability to play standing up or with his hand down. Arguably their best value pick was Julian Love at No. 108. He has great instincts to play the nickel.
New York clearly wanted to fix its defense. After exploring a draft back, the Jets stood at No. 3 and took Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. He’s one of the two elite players in this draft. They followed it up at No. 68 with Florida pass rusher Jachai Polite. If the draft took place when the college football season ended, Polite wouldn’t have lasted that long. He was doomed by a bad combine and interviews. Coordinator Gregg Williams will know how to utilize his skill as an edge player.
After that, Chuma Edoga is a little undersized for a tackle, but he gets out on the move. Trevon Wesco is, at the least, a good blocking tight end. Blake Cashman could make his name on special teams and filling in at linebacker.
The big issue is waiting until the end of the sixth round to get a cornerback.
Oakland’s grade is less about the players and more about where they were drafted. That started with defensive end Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 overall. He’s good, but virtually no one considered him one of the five best players in the draft. As long as you don’t mind using a first-round pick on a running back, the Raiders got the top one with Josh Jacobs at No. 24. Safety Jonathan Abram, taken at No. 27, gives the Raiders a tone setter.
Oakland was more than happy to drop down in the second round before selecting Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen. He’s a high-level athlete with good length. After being the NFL’s worst team at getting after the quarterback, the Raiders were smart to take Eastern Michigan’s Maxx Crosby at No. 106. Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow can be a weapon in the slot.
The Eagles will go as far as Carson Wentz can take them. To keep him healthy, the Eagles moved up in the first round to secure left tackle Andre Dillard. It’s a shrewd move, but he’ll sit for at least a season behind Jason Peters.
It was clear that Philadelphia had to come out with a running back. After skipping on Josh Jacobs in the first round, the Eagles used the No. 53 pick on Miles Sanders of Penn State. He’s a quick back who will make people miss. He’s not much for contact, but he’ll get a nice share of carries for Philadelphia. Wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside gives Wentz a nice jump-ball target.
It’s curious that they didn’t address cornerback.
No team made a bigger jump in the first round. They gave up a lot to get linebacker Devin Bush of Michigan. The need was obvious. The value not as much.
In a pick from the Antonio Brown trade, the Steelers got another small Mid-American Conference wide receiver in Diontae Johnson. The similarity to Brown feels kinda troll-ish. At the least, Johnson can be a good return man. He was picked 66th overall, though Pittsburgh viewed him as a first-round player, which was surprising.
On Day 3, the Steelers took several very Steelers players. Cornerback Justin Layne is the big outside corner they needed. Benny Snell, a brilliant pickup, is a power back who fits the offense. If James Conner struggles, Snell could be a star. Zach Gentry was this draft’s version of Jesse James as a big, unrefined tight end with some athleticism.
The 49ers got the best player: defensive end Nick Bosa. That choice alone makes this is a good draft.
Before this weekend, San Francisco had minimal talent at wide receiver. Getting Deebo Samuel at No. 36 was a coup. Kyle Shanahan is a great play caller who can scheme success for receivers. Now he has a good one to go along with 2018 second-rounder Dante Pettis. The 49ers added another receiving option in Jalen Hurd at No. 67. He can do a little of everything.
The 49ers took the first specialist, All-American Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky at No. 110.
Here is another team that waited on cornerback, though. With their last pick, the 49ers finally addressed the position and got Tim Harris.
This was a very Seattle draft: a ton of trades, players drafted higher than most expected, and filled needs. That started with their first-round pick. L.J. Collier is a consistent and powerful lineman whom they probably view as a new Michael Bennett.
Seattle kept moving back in the second round before settling at No. 47 and taking Utah safety Marquise Blair. Like Collier, Blair was selected earlier than anticipated. Blair is a hard-hitting safety with speed who can play nickel.
Seattle ended D.K. Metcalf’s drop by trading up to No. 64 to get him. The wide receiver has big-time traits, but he’s limited as a route runner. They added another receiver with Gary Jennings of West Virginia. If Doug Baldwin does retire, the Seahawks smartly safeguarded themselves.
They upgraded their nickel package with defensive back Ugo Amadi and linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven.
Linebacker Devin White of LSU, taken fifth overall, was the player the Buccaneers needed. He should assert himself as Tampa’s defensive captain. He was one of the best picks in the first round.
Head coach Bruce Arians expressed a desire to improve the pass defense. Second-round pick Sean Bunting will help. While it was a surprise to see him go ahead of LSU’s Greedy Williams, Bunting gives Tampa a physical press man cornerback who can play outside. Cornerback Jamel Dean has tools that can be developed. The Buccaneers got nice depth with coverage safety Mike Edwards and defensive end Anthony Nelson.
The impact after White seems minimal. Maybe the kicker they drafted this year, Matt Gay, can stick.
Tennessee probably can’t get a full grade after drafting defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons with the No. 19 pick. A player with top-five skill, Simmons might miss the season after tearing his ACL.
When wide receivers dropped deep into the second round, the Titans got a nice steal with A.J. Brown. He might be this draft’s JuJu Smith-Schuster. He can play inside or outside, and doesn’t hesitate to make plays in traffic.
Guard Nate Davis, taken at No. 82, is a dominant run blocker who gets low and overpowers linemen. It was a little surprising to see him in the top 100. The Titans got more value on Day 3 with Iowa safety Amani Hooker at No. 116. He could push for a starting job. Edge rusher D’Andre Walker and linebacker David Long were steals on Day 3.
Sometimes the draft is about getting lucky. That was the case when quarterback Dwayne Haskins slipped to No. 15. To fill the need at pass rusher, Washington jumped back into the first round to get another player in free fall with Montez Sweat. He can stand up and rush the edge.
Washington paired Haskins with Ohio State teammate Terry McLaurin, a speedy receiver who does all the small things. A couple years ago, some thought Stanford running back Bryce Love would be a top-64 pick. Then a torn ACL killed his stock. If he’s healthy, he gives Washington a shifty runner with a history of explosive plays. It’s a big risk, considering Derrius Guice has his own ACL issues, though.
Wide receiver Kelvin Harmons was straight-up theft in the back part of the sixth round. But this is a theme of these grades: Where was the cornerback?