The NFL Draft is where championship teams get built. Nowhere is that more true than the first round. Missing a pick in the first round is the quickest way to throw off a franchise’s progression. That’s why teams like Oakland continue to struggle. Great teams, however, pick with value and know when to trade up or down.
With that in mind, let’s look at who came out of the first round in the best position to succeed.
The Washington Redskins: This is a lot more about what the Redskins didn’t do than what they did. Rumors were flying around that Redskins owner Dan Snyder was trying to trade into the top 10 because of his extreme infatuation with quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Doing so would have cost an arm and a leg and bankrupt the team’s draft capitol for the foreseeable future. Instead, the franchise waited for Haskins to fall to them at 15, where he is much more of a value pick. That is already a phenomenal first round for Washington, but they traded back into the first round to select OLB Montez Sweat at 26. Sweat was a projected top 10 pick before being misdiagnosed with a heart condition. But the man can get after a quarterback quickly. For god’s sake, he ran a faster 40-yard dash (4.41) than Patriots first-round receiver N’Keal Harry (4.53).
The Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars were perhaps the luckiest team in the draft. While any team should get a great player at pick 7, the Jags might have snagged the best player in the entire draft, OLB Josh Allen. Allen is a three-down linebacker with the strength to shed blocks and the speed to close on any quarterback. The only reason he made it to 7 is that the Raiders and the Giants are idiots and the Jets are addicted to drafting defensive tackles.
San Diego Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers didn’t make any fancy moves yesterday. They just sat back at 28 and let an elite talent at a position of need come to them. DT Jerry Tillery is the kind of hog in a hole that the Chargers defense needs. Pro Football Focus ranked Tillery their seventh best player in the draft. Maybe if they had Tillery in the playoffs, Sony Michel would have run for less than 800 yards.
— PFF LA Chargers (@PFF_Chargers) April 26, 2019
The Oakland Raider: What the fuck are you doing Oakland? They took DE Clelin Ferrell at 4, RB Josh Jacobs at 24, and S Jonathan Abram at 27. Each of those picks seemed like a reach. Abram was the probably the best value on the board so I’ll give them a pass for that. But Clelin Ferrell was likely to be available in the 20s, there was no need to take him at 4. Josh Allen, Ed Oliver, and Rashan Gary would all have been better picks. Josh Jacobs is the best running back available but it is wildly unlikely anybody would have taken him before Oakland picks in the second round. The only shred of hope for Raiders fans was Jon Gruden had three first round picks, and it seems like even that’s gone now.
The New York Giants: If Oakland earned a “What the fuck?” New York deserves a “You fucking bunch of inbred idiots!” for taking quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick. There were transcendent defenders available that are franchise changers. Instead, the New York Football Giants elected to go with the 6th best quarterback available. Dan Jones is a fucking third round talent, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. New York then took DL Dexter Lawrence at least ten picks too soon. Big Blue finished the day by trading their second, fourth, and fifth round pick to get the 4th-best cornerback, Deandre Baker, before any of the better options were picked. Every single one of these picks is hilariously bad.
The Atlanta Falcons: Apparently the Falcons are dedicated to reaching for Day 2 linemen. Atlanta took OG Chris Lidstrom at 14. ESPN ranked him at the 41st in their overall rankings and others had him ranked similarly. Atlanta then traded their second and third round picks for the 31st pick and a sixth-round pick. Atlanta COULD have taken OT Jawaan Taylor, who is regarded as one of the top tackle talents. INSTEAD, they took OT Kaleb McGary, a tackle who was likely available in the mid-third.
Photo: USA Today