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NFL Draft Round 1 Grades

Copy of sports4sports media

Cleveland Browns

1: QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
4: CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State)

Cleveland had two top five selections, and while both are solid picks, both can also easily be questioned. Should the undersized Mayfield been taken as the first selection? This means the Browns saw Mayfield as the best QB option in the draft, and that’s not the easiest statement to defend with QBs such as Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen on the board. With the fourth selection, the best player on the board was almost unanimously DE Bradley Chubb out of NC State. However Cleveland thought their secondary needed the attention, so they passed, and allowed Chubb fall nicely into Denver’s lap at five. Are these players neccasarily doomed as NFL players because they may have been drafted a tad too early? Absolutely not, but one can’t help what the mindset of the Cleveland decision makers were while making these selections.

Final Grade: C

New York Giants

2: RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State)

The Giants made their expected pick that had been reported for weeks. Obviously the thought of it being a possible smoke screen is always plausible, but clearly the Giants fell in love with the Penn State halfback, and what’s not to love? He’s a back that has great vision out of the backfield, can catch out of the backfield, and overall athleticism is off the charts. It’s something the Giants haven’t had in years, and instantly boosts their offense. The only factor one could argue against this pick was should it have been used to draft a potential franchise QB? Clearly it wasnt much of a thought, as the Giants had their pick in moments after the Browns took Mayfield.

Final Grade: B+

New York Jets

3: QB Sam Darnold (USC)

Everyone knew the Jets were taking a QB at three, the question was who would be available, and who the Jets preferred. With Cleveland taking Mayfield first overall, the Jets had the opportunity to take who many deemed the best quarterback in the draft, Sam Darnold. This was almost an obvious choice, and it’s a selection all Jets fans should be pleased with. Darnold is one of the most polished QBs in the draft, and along with Josh Rosen, is likely the most NFL ready of the QB draft class.

Final Grade: A

Denver Broncos

5: DE Bradley Chubb (NC State)

Denver found themselves with one of the best talents in the draft landing on their lap at five. Many were stunned how Cleveland passed on the defensive end at four, and once they did, Denver wasn’t going to allow the best defensive player in the draft drop any further. While this pick is easily understandable, as it enforces the good ole’ strategy of ‘take the best player available,’ Denver likely needed to address the offensive side of the ball, in particular, a potential franchise QB. Still, one can fault any team for taking the best player on the board, and that’s exactly what Denver did on Thursday night.

Final Grade: A-

Indianapolis Colts

6: G Quentin Nelson (Notre Dame)

Hallelujah, the Colts addressed the o-line! Andrew Luck has single handedly made Indy competitive with almost no protection, and this should have been a priority years ago. Not only did they secure the best lineman in the draft, they traded down, and secured extra draft picks in the process. This was the absolute perfect scenario for Indianapolis, and Colts fans should rejoice on the prospect that Luck might actually have a few seconds to scan the field in the pocket.

Final Grade: A+

Buffalo Bills

7: QB Josh Allen (Wyoming)
16: LB Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech)

The Bills had to make two separate trades just to get there, but in the end, they landed at 7, and grabbed Josh Allen as their potential franchise QB. Allen is a raw talent with an absolute cannon. His athleticism, mobility, and arm are evident when watching his highlights in Wyoming. The one concern many teams have is his accuracy, and while accuracy is somewhat coachable, it’s not an easy task to instantly master. It’s a risky pick, and many argue it should have been outspoken Josh Rosen taken at seven instead. However, Allen’s big arm, and massive body were seen as ideal credentials to deal with the Buffalo weather. This pick is tough to grade, as Buffalo did have to give up a lot just to get to seven, not to mention taking a guy, that at this point, is literally as a toss-up. The Bills second first rounder cam at number 16, and they utilized it to draft one of the best linebackers in the draft. Edmonds was likely the best player on the board, so you can’t fault Buffalo for going defense here, but the Bills probably needed to add a few more weapons to an inconsistent offense, and a new QB at the helm.

Final Grade: B-

Chicago Bears

8: LB Roquan Smith (Georgia)

The Bears were… How do we say this nicely… Bad. The Bears were bad, and on both sides of the ball. So it was anyone’s guess what direction they went with the eighth overall selection. Smith is seen as the best linebacker in the draft class, and should instantly bolster their run defense, as well as provide an a defensive presence in the middle of the field. The Bears are essentially starting from scratch, and starting with an inside linebacker as promising as Smith, it’s definitely a worthy place to start.

Final Grade: B-

San Francisco 49ers

OT- Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)

The Niners provided a shiny new tackle for their potential franchise QB in Jimmy Garoppolo. McGlinchey was touted as the best tackle in the draft, and should ease Garoppolo into feeling comfortable in the pocket. There were likely a few more talented players on the board, but the pick makes sense. It addresses a team need, and assures their new youthful QB the protection he needs to speed up the rebuilding process in San Francisco.

Final Grade: B

Arizona Cardinals 

10: QB Josh Rosen (UCLA)

Arizona traded up for a bag of sand, and catapulted from 15 to 10 in the process. Ok, it wasn’t really a bag of sand, but Oakland was willing to go back five spots in the first round for a 3rd, and 5th round pick… It might as well have been. Arizona on the other hand gave up nothing major, moved into the top ten, and grabbed their franchise QB they’ve been desperately seeking. Rosen is likely the most NFL ready in the QB draft class. He has pin point accuracy, great ball placement, a great arm, and he can read defenses with ease (something that can’t be taught). If it weren’t for his outspoken demeanor, Rosen could have been considered as a top 5 selection, and many had him ranked as the best QB overall in terms of ability. The knock on Rosen (other than his arrogant demeanor) would be his size/durability. If Rosen can stay healthy, there’s no question he’ll make some noise in this league.

Final Grade: A

Miami Dolphins

11: S Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)

Miami might have gotten a major steal with Fitzpatrick at 11. Miami’s secondary was one of the worst in the league last season, and adding the best safety in the draft class will certainly help their cause. Fitzpatrick is guy who brings the overall package to the NFL with great coverage, physicality, speed, and overall excitement. While many saw this as an option to address the plethora of other needs, this pick was the right one. Fitzpatrick was the best player on the board, and gives Miami a much needed staple in the secondary.

Final Grade: A

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12: DT Vita Vea (Washington)

The Bucs solidified their defensive line this offseason by acquiring Jason Pierre-Paul from the Giants, and drafting Vea (we’re not bothering with his real name, trust us, you don’t want us to). at 12. Vea was likely not the best player available on the board with names such as Derwin James also available, but clearly TB made it their mission to completely overhaul the defensive line, and Vea fills that requirement nicely.

Final Grade: C+

Washington Redskins

13: DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama)

Lucky 13, or perhaps unlucky 13. Washington went with a questionable selection of DT Payne out of Alabama. This isn’t a necessary knock on Payne, but a knock on how Washington felt they needed to utilize the 13th selection to draft him. If the Redskins were that much in love with Payne, they could have easily looked to trade down, and still likely able to draft the Alabama product. The Redskins aren’t really known as a ‘draft savvy’ team, and this pick further proves the claim. The fact the Redskins actually had a first round pick (as they often trade them away), and this is how they utilize it… Wow.

Final Grade: D+

New Orleans Saints

14: DE Marcus Davenport (UTSA)

New Orleans traded up 13 spots to acquire the 14th pick from the Packers, and they gave up a first rounder in the process. So when you give up as much as New Orleans did you expect there to be good reason. Yeah, no… Davenport is extremely athletic, but still has a lot of work before he’s considered a proven top 15 selection. The fact he comes out of a small school such as UTSA only further questions why in the world did New Orleans feel the need to give an arm, and a leg , when in all likelihood, they could have landed him at 27. Not one of New Orleans’ brightest moments, but perhaps they see something nobody else does.

Final Grade: D

Oakland (Las Vegas) Raiders

15: OT Kolton Miller (UCLA)
– Acquired WR Martivis Bryant from Pittsburgh for 2018 3rd round pick

The Raiders may have had the most interesting draft, and not because of who they actually drafted. They were willing to lake a lackluster offering from Arizona to forfeit their top ten selection, still had the opportunity to draft Derwin James to a depleted, and inept secondary, but instead went with lineman Kolton Miller. This selection shows just how important lineman are to any given offense. Was it Oakland’s most dire need? Absolutely not. Was it the best player on the board? Absolutely not. Yet the Raiders felt propelled to draft one anyway. If it weren’t for their trade in acquiring WR Martavis Bryant from Pittsburgh, this would have been the worst draft performance of round 1. However it was salvaged by sending a 3rd round pick (from Arizona) to Pittsburgh to add another toy for QB Derek Carr.

Final Grade: C

Los Angeles Chargers

17- SS Derwin James (Florida State)

The Chargers possibly walk away with the most value of any pick in the first round. The fact James was available at 17 was stunning, and LA wasn’t going to allow him to fall any further. James is a shutdown safety, and many argue he’s on the level of Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick. Top 10 talent at number 17, Chargers nation (if there is any) should be thrilled with this pick.

Final Grade: A

Green Bay Packers

18: CB Jaire Alexander (Louisville)

Green Bay was able to acquire a 2019 1st round pick, make numerous trades, and in the end grab a hopeful secondary talent in Alexander. It’s no secret that Green Bay needs to address the defensive side of the ball, and while they jumped through a few hoops to end in their final landing spot at 18, Alexander is a great fit, and should instantly boost a mediocre secondary.

Final Grade: A-

Dallas Cowboys

19: LB Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)

Many assumed Dallas would address the hole at wideout after releasing Dez Bryant just weeks ago. Well Jerry Jones, and company thought differently, and felt the defensive side of the ball was a higher priority. Vander Esch is a solid selection directly from the ‘smurf turf,’ and will proceed to assist an already much improved defense from two years ago.

Final Grade: B

Detroit Lions

20: C Frank Ragnow (Arkansas)

Detroit when with bolstering the o-line despite needs on the defensive side of the ball. Ragnow will help a mediocre Detroit running attack, and should help giving Stafford plenty of time in the pocket. Solid pick, not great.

Final Grade: B

Cincinnati Bengals

21: C Billy Price (Ohio State)

Cincinnati had one of the worst o-lines in football last season, so this selection makes the most sense. Some thought the prospect of QB Lamar Jackson might have been an enticing choice, but you can’t fault the Bengals fro addressing one of the worst o-lines in football.

Final Grade: B

Tennessee Titans

22: LB Rashaan Evans (Alabama)

Another Alabama product, Evans is a guy that can give provide a pass rushing presence, as well as tackling ability. Evans is a versatile defensive option that Tennessee could end up using in numerous formations. He’ll be a great fit for a Titans team that needs some spark on a very average defense.

Final Grade: B+

New England Patriots

23: G Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)
31 Sony Michael (Georgia)

The Pats looked to the University of Georgia for their first round draft selections. Drafting Wynn makes sense to the loss of Nate Solder in free agency, and New England has established a reliable running game in years (to be fair they haven’t really needed to with a guy named Tom Brady running the offense). Still, it will take pressure of an aging Brady if New England can indeed provide a consistent running game. While these selections fill gaping holes, it’s odd New England didn’t address the defensive side of the ball at all. We imagine we’ll see that in the next few rounds.

Final Grade: B+

Carolina Panthers

24: WR D.J. Moore (Maryland)

There’s no doubt Carolina needs help at wideout. However we can’t help bring up how Calvin Ridley was still available. Ridley is the more polished receiver, and while Moore perhaps brings more potential, at this point Carolina should only be drafting ‘sure things’ at wideout, as Devin Funchess, and Kelvin Benjamin continue to be inconsistent/unable to stay healthy.

Final Grade: C+

Baltimore Ravens

25: TE Hayden Hurst (South Carolina)
32: QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)

A good tight end in an NFL offense has become a luxury that all NFL teams covet. Baltimore remembers the Todd Heap days, and would love to bring in a tight end that can bring that type of glory back to the TE position in Baltimore. Hurst wasn’t the top ranked TE on the board, but Baltimore did at least trade back to make this selection (hint hint Redskins). Baltimore then made a move to trade up for the final selection of the evening, and took a potential successor to Joe Flacco in former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. Baltimore utilized trades to their advantage yesterday, and they did it extremely well in acquiring one immediate, and one future need.

Final Grade: B+

Atlanta Falcons

26: WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama)

Atlanta may have added the best receiver in the draft, and they were able to land him at 26. The duo of Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley could cause nightmares in any secondary, not to mention it makes it a lot tougher for teams to automatically double cover Julio Jones every passing play. Great pick, great value, well done.

Final Grade: A

Seattle Seahawks

27: HB Rashaad Penny (San Diego State)

Penny is a nice piece that fills in a void in the Seattle backfield. However Seattle should have focused on either fixing their once dominate defense, or addressing a subpar o-line. It’s not a knock on Penny, but this draft is deep at RB, and Seattle likely had higher priorities that should have taken precedent.

Final Grade: C-

Pittsburgh Steelers
28: SS Terrell Edmunds (Virginia Tech)
Edmunds is seen as a slight reach, but at the same time, Pittsburgh needed secondary help in the worst way. It wasn’t the best player on the board, but it addresses a desperate team need.
Final Grade: C

Jacksonville Jaguars

29: DT Taven Bryan (Florida)
So the Jaguars addressed the defensive line with the 29th pick. Someone should tell them they likely had the best defense in the NFL last season, and their offense was likely the demise of their cinderella playoff run. Having nothing to do with Bryan, the Jags are set at defense, but don’t tell them that.
Final Grade: C-

Minnesota Vikings

30: CB Mike Hughes
Hughes will help bolster an average secondary with his supreme coverage ability. This is another scenario where Minnesota likely addressed the wrong side of the ball, as while they acquired Cousins in free agency, they still have a lot of work to do with that offense. Another receiver, and at least another lineman at the minimum.
Final Grade: C

NFL Draft

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