Observations from Day One of the NFL Draft
It was an entertaining first round of the NFL Draft as Cleveland started things off with a bang, or more like a thud. The run on quarterbacks started with the top pick and the selection of Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield. Five quarterbacks were drafted in the first round, four in the top ten, with Heisman Trophy winners opening and closing the round. Six defensive backs and offensive linemen were selected with two of those linemen surprisingly being true centers. As expected, trades were the story of the draft with seven taking place in the first round.
Let’s take a look at what teams I thought did well and some teams that left me scratching my head.
My Day One Winner – Baltimore Ravens
I love what the Ravens did in the first round. Ozzie Newsome is going out with a bang as he addressed an immediate need selecting South Carolina tight end Haydon Hurst making his current quarterback happy. Newsome then set the team up for an exciting future by trading back into the first round and selecting quarterback and Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
Other teams that did well on day one include, the Los Angeles Chargers who had the best value pick at 17 as they selected Florida State’s Derwin James. I had James, a dynamic safety, rated as the sixth best prospect overall. It may sound odd to say this but the Broncos got a steal at five as N.C. State’s Bradley Chubb slipped to them. Chubb is one of the top three players in the draft. Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley fell into the Falcons lap at pick 26 giving Matt Ryan another weapon on offense. Lastly, the best need/value/top talent pick went to the Colts at six as they selected Notre Dame offensive guard Quenton Nelson.
My Day One Head Scratcher – Cleveland Browns
It was pretty universal that the top three players in the draft were Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, and the aforementioned Quenton Nelson and Bradley Chubb. Somehow the Browns walked away with none of them while owning picks one and four.
I love what Cleveland did last year in round one but taking Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield number one overall this year was perplexing. The Browns have had a horrid time finding their next franchise quarterback, so choosing one with character and even physical flaws, he is six feet tall, left me stunned. You can argue Mayfield’s great accuracy, fire and intangibles but I will argue he has way too big of a chip on his shoulder. He is too concerned and driven by what other think of him and got into a verbal even perverse sparring match against the Kansas Jayhawks. Come on man, they're Kansas. He was late, un-prepared and indifferent for a meeting with the Chargers. He was also late for the Senior Bowl and had to be persuaded to play in the game. The comparisons to Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, or laughably Brett Farve are just not accurate. Cleveland general manager John Dorsey loves his gunslingers but I think he will miss on Mayfield. The Browns also missed by passing on Nelson and Chubb, and instead selecting Ohio State corner Denzel Ward who is the top rated corner prospect.
Other teams that missed on day one include the Saints who gave up too much to trade up for UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport. I love Davenport’s upside but not for an extra first round pick. The Cowboys passing on a wide receiver looks worse today as Jason Witten retires and now their offense is lacking two big weapons. Linebacker was a need but not enough to justify the drafting of Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch. He’s had one great season, a solid combine but also a cervical issue that sidelined him two years ago. Two other picks that were questionable were the Seahawks selection of San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny and the Steelers going with Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds.