Highlights and Low Points of the NFL Draft First Round
Thursday's draft was a spectacle that nobody quite expected to unfold the way it did. From five quarterbacks taken in the first, to six lineman taken, to some crazy trades, the first round of the draft lived up to all the hype and more.
The gambling Cleveland Browns
It came to many as a shock, but the Browns called Baker Mayfield's name at No. 1 to make him the first overall pick. Most draft analysts had him being the third or fourth available drafted quarterback, but the Browns took him based off his attitude and leadership capabilities.
Instead of grabbing a top pass rusher in Bradley Chubb, the Browns decided to take Ohio State corner Denzel Ward at the fourth overall pick, which was a really questionable choice. When Cleveland allowed a league-worst 68.6 completion rating by opponents, that's why their priorities were toward getting a defensive back.
The early winners
The New York Jets and the Denver Broncos slept extra well last night, contingent on the Browns picks. The Jets capitalized on the highest-rated quarterback out in Sam Darnold, while the Broncos stole Bradley Chubb at the fifth overall pick.
Denver was rumored to have been in the trade talks with Buffalo, but after seeing Chubb on the board, they knew they couldn't pass up on the top talent.
Saquon Barkley finding his landing spot in New York is also what the top running back wanted, and it's also a place where he can make an immediate impact.
Linemen, linemen and more linemen
This week, there's been constant jabbering of just how valuable linemen can be in the NFL. Some analysts thought just two offensive linemen would go, while others thought possibly four. Turns out there were six linemen drafted in the first, with three tackles, two centers and one guard.
Guard Quenton Nelson was the first to go at sixth overall to the Colts, followed by tackles Mike McGlinchey, ninth overall to the 49ers, and Kolton Miller, 15th overall to Oakland.
After Detroit chose center Frank Ragnow of Arkansas and Cincinnati selected center Billy Price of Ohio State, it marked the fifth time in draft history that multiple centers were selected. To round out the draft, tackle Isaiah Wynn of Georgia was selected to the Patriots.
Five quarterbacks chosen in the first
Along with Mayfield, USC’s Sam Darnold (No. 3, New York Jets), Wyoming’s Josh Allen (No. 7, Buffalo), UCLA’s Josh Rosen (No. 10, Arizona) and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson(No. 32, Baltimore) rounded out the first round picks for quarterbacks.
The five quarterbacks chosen tied the second-best first round for quarterbacks since the common draft was implemented in 1967. The only one to beat this year's draft was the infamous 1983 draft that had John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien and Dan Marino selected.
However, four quarterbacks selected in the top 10 became the most in a draft since the inception of the common draft era in 1967. Heisman winners Mayfield and Jackson became the third pair of former Heisman trophy winners to be selected in the first round as well.
Trades took over the first
For better and for worse, trades captivated the middle of the first round. Both Buffalo and Arizona made the early decision to trade up for quarterbacks, which were each understandable.
Then all hell broke loose with trades. The Saints traded up with the Packers, giving up a lot, to take pass rusher Marcus Davenport, who could be worth the mid-round pickup. The Bills traded up with the Ravens at No. 16 for Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, while the Packers moved back up with the Seahawks to take Louisville corner Jaire Alexander.
It didn't mean a first round pick when it came to the trade between the Raiders and the Steelers that sent Martavis Bryant to Oakland for a third round pick.
The Ravens made two more trades, giving up two spots to the Titans, so Tennessee could draft Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans, and getting the final pick at 32 from Philadelphia to take Lamar Jackson.
How bout them Cowboys?
Drafting Leighton Vander Esch, a former walk-on and one-year starter, came as a disappointment to a lot of Cowboys fans, who cried for a receiver to replace Dez Bryant.
Even though Vander Esch was chosen a little high, he has a rare combination of size, athleticism and length as a linebacker. With Sean Lee turning 32 this off-season, the Cowboys need to think for the future in terms of a linebacker. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli can help him improve getting off blocks and develop him into a top-tier linebacker.
More big question marks
It came a surprise to many to see Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley fall to No. 26 in the draft to Atlanta, but man, oh man, did the Falcons get a steal. Julio Jones just got some incredible company to go along with the receiving core.
Kolton Miller, Frank Ragnow and Billy Price all were drafted early as linemen, which also raised some eyebrows.
But then at the end came two big surprising picks in the first. First at No. 27, the Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny of San Diego State, who was probably slated to go in the third or fourth round, at best. It's definitely a stretch for the Seahawks, but maybe they saw something that we don't know with Penny. Also at No. 28, the Steelers picked Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds, who was picked to go in the second or third round, at best.
Biggest steals come late
I love the D.J. Moore pick by Carolina late in the draft to a team that desperately needs a receiver. Also seeing the humble Calvin Ridley break down in tears, surrounded by family when he was taken by Atlanta was special.
For the Ravens, though, they got two huge steals in the first round. First, they took tight end Hayden Hurst, who has Todd Heap-like potential for the Ravens. Then, they picked up quarterback Lamar Jackson, as he promised one thing:
"The Ravens are getting a Super Bowl out of me."
Hernandez sees the second day
Hernandez could be drafted immediately in the second round, with teams that need a linemen, like the Browns, Giants, Bears, Dolphins and Broncos, all picking in the top-10 of day two.
What a sight it would be to see Hernandez rejoin the likes of Sean Kugler in Denver, who is picking eighth overall in the second and has reportedly shown a great deal of interest in the guard.
Former Miners that have gone in the second round of the draft include Thomas Howard (2006, Oakland), Eugene Epps (1963, Washington), Bob Wallace (1968, Chicago), Charlie West (1968, Minnesota), Volley Murphy (1969, Minnesota), Grady Cavness (1969, Denver) and Gary Keithley (1973, St. Louis).