What. A. Night.
Day one of the 2019 NFL Draft absolutely lived up to the hype, and then some.
If you were lucky enough to be a fan of a team that didn’t absolute send their franchise into a nose dive, then you were probably able to enjoy not only your team’s selection, but the misfortune’s of others, as well.
Like the group of us on the live draft show Thursday night. We had so much time to kill before the pick at #28 but that didn’t stop us from giggling ourselves into a stupor over the mind-numbing picks made by the New York Giants and the Oakland Raiders.
It made the night so much easier to get through and has us all looking forward to more of the same through the next six rounds.
But as far as the first round goes, there were some definite winners and all-too-apparent losers. Here are those I believe fit into one or the other.
Cincinnati Bengals: Without having to trade up and part with any picks, the Bengals were able to sit tight and select arguably the top offensive linemen in the entire class. With the offensive tackle position one of the premium positions in football, you’d be crazy to have thought the top dog would fall out of the top 10. Well, that’s exactly what happened for Cincy and now they have a guy to plug into that right tackle spot if (when) they realize all that money they gave to Bobby Hart was a complete waste. Until then, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them put Jonah Williams at guard simply to get their best players on the field all at once.
The Washington Football Team: Washington also ended up being another team that didn’t have give up anything to select the player they needed the most. Dwayne Haskins wound up being the third quarterback off the board in a surprise turn-of-events when most analysts had him as either the second, or even first, quarterback in their rankings. Before it was all said and done, they also traded back into round one and picked up Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat who was another top talent to take an inexplicable fall on opening night.
Washington was able to add two premiere pieces at two of the most important positions on the field in one night. These moves will certainly keep them right in the thick of the NFC East.
Denver Broncos: The Broncos were able to trade back in the first and still got their guy in tight end Noah Fant. Most analysts have had either him or TJ Hockenson as their top TE and both were expected to go within the top-15. For Denver to gain some extra draft capital and still pick the most athletic tight end in recent memory, that can only be a win. Coincidentally, that gives the Broncos four tight ends who all played their collegiate football in the Big Ten with Jake Butt (Michigan), Jeff Heurmann (Ohio State), Troy Fumagalli (Wisconsin), and now Fant (Iowa).
New York Giants: Giants’ general manager Dave Gettleman has gotten a ton of flack on social media in 2019 and, to be fair, it’s absolutely deserved. Ranging from the OBJ trade to undermining the importance of analytics in modern day football, DG has garnered his fair share of doubters.
With two first round picks prior to Thursday night, he had a chance to quiet those who are calling for his job and set the franchise in the right direction with two picks within the top-20.
Spoiler Alert: He did not do that.
With the sixth-overall selection, the Giants selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones to be the heir-apparent to Eli Manning. In his post-day one presser, Gettleman left much to be desired as he skirted around answering the tough questions and simply reflected anything negative feedback onto the reporters.
Oh boy, there's a lot to unpack here:#Giants GM Dave Gettleman was asked when in the process he realized Daniel Jones was "his guy". His response: (4:52-6:53)https://t.co/e12yewrr5r pic.twitter.com/nlttftcf3S— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) April 26, 2019
The Giants then went on to select Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence with pick #17. Lawrence was highly regarded as a massive run-stopper who was likely limited to just being a two-down presence, especially in year one. Most recent mock drafts were starting to forgo including Lawrence as he was widely considered to fall out of the first entirely. With Dalvin Tomlinson and last year’s third-round pick, B.J. Hill on the roster, the pick of a defensive tackle becomes even more confusing.
Lastly, the Giants traded back up with Seattle to the 30th pick to select Georgia’s Deandre Baker as the first cornerback off the board. This might have actually been their best pick in the first in terms of value but Baker likely wasn’t getting pick on day one and could have easily fallen to the Giants in round two.
In the first and most surprising pick of the night (prior to the Giants at #6), the Raiders selected Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the fourth-overall pick in the draft. For those who haven’t been extremely tuned-in this draft cycle, Ferrell was a consensus player likely to come off the board between picks 15 and 25. But when Jon Gruden likes a player, he just can’t help himself. To be fair, Ferrell is an excellent player at the Raider’s greatest position of need, but they could have potentially waited until 24th (where Montez Sweat was still available) and picked up a blue-chip player, as well.
Their second pick was not a surprise in the slightest as they selected Alabama running back Josh Jacobs. With the recent news of Marshawn Lynch retiring for the second time, this was a necessary pick.
Raiders gonna Raider, however.
With the 27th pick, they selected Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram to sure-up the secondary. With better options at safety still on the board, this was another head-scratcher. Abram is a good player, don’t get me wrong, but most had him as their fourth-best safety in the draft. More versatile players such as Delware’s Nasir Adderley and Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson would have been much better value in that slot.
Time will tell, but I don’t think this haul even makes up for the Khalil Mack trade.
Atlanta Falcons: Offensive line was certainly the biggest need for the Falcons coming into Thursday night. At pick #14, they had their pick of the litter. Garrett Bradbury, Cody Ford, and Jawaan Taylor were all still on the board. Atlanta went a different direction and selected Boston College’s Chris Lindstrom, the consensus #1 guard in this year’s class. Not a terrible pick, but Lindstrom was likely off the board with the last few picks in the first and was possibly going to be available in round two. Questionable but he’ll be a good player for the next decade. It was their next pick that really had the Falcons Faithful up-in-arms.
When the Rams were on the clock at #31, the Falcons sprang back into the first. We all knew it was going to probably be another offensive linemen, but which one would it be, Ford or Taylor? The answer was neither.
The Falcons gave up picks to go up and get....Washington’s Kaleb McGary.
McGary has a long, compelling history. It’s a wonderful feel-good story of triumph that has led him to his dream of playing in the NFL. The bad part is that he was likely going to be ready and available in the second round when the Falcons were up once again. At 6-foot-7 and 320 pounds, McGary is one of the most athletically-gifted prospects at his position which was likley the deciding factor in this selection. The Falcons love their athletes and they got two of them. Let’s just hope they didn’t give up too much in the process.