Steve Reacts: The 2019 NFL Draft, First Round

With all the tattoo blogging and movie assessing that I’ve done in between April 23, 2019 and now, it’s a known fact that I’m very late to the party in giving my opinions on each and every first round selection of the 2019 NFL Draft. 

However, better late than never. Especially since I promised in a previous sports entry of mine that I would indeed give my opinions on each and every first round selection of the 2019 NFL Draft. And with that being said, here I am giving said opinions.

The teams, picks and opinions are all listed below:

  1. Arizona Cardinals-Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma. This pick makes sense from the standpoint of rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s connection with Murray. Plus, it makes sense from a schematic standpoint, as Murray will be a better fit than Josh Rosen (traded to the Miami Dolphins) in Kingsbury’s offense. The Cardinals get an A.
  2. San Francisco 49ers-Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State. If not for core muscle surgery during his junior season, then Bosa could have really presented a challenge for the Cardinals, in terms of picking between him and Murray. An interior lineman such as Quinnen Williams or Ed Oliver to pair up with DeForest Buckner would have been a good route to go here. However, you can never too many outside pass rushers, as depth at that position was a huge factor for teams, such as the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles winning Super Bowls this century. And with that being said, Bosa makes perfect sense here. The 49ers get an A.
  3. New York Jets-Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama. Williams is a popular name on the defensive side of the ball for the Jets, as their defensive coordinator is Gregg Williams and they have a stud defensive lineman in Leonard Williams. The Jets will still utilize a 3-4 defense, which means that both Leonard and Quinnen Williams will be 3-4 defensive ends. Defensive end in a 3-4 scheme has typically been more of a dirty work position. But given the success that Aaron Donald, J.J. Watt and Chris Jones have had with raw sack numbers from that position, the pick of Quinnen Williams isn’t a reach from that standpoint. The Jets hope that this Williams Wall can produce numbers like Donald, Watt and Jones have. A- for the Jets.
  4. Oakland Raiders-Clelin Farrell, DE, Clemson. Farrell doesn’t have the name that Nick Bosa has. Plus, Montez Sweat was also rated higher than Farrell heading into this draft. But Farrell was one of the more decorated defensive ends coming into this draft, as he was a 2018 Consensus All-American, along with winning both the 2018 Hendricks Award and 2018 ACC Defensive Player Of The Year Award. Plus, he ended his college career at Clemson with a national championship. Farrell might seem like a reach at number four. But once upon a time, the Raiders drafted some player named Khalil Mack from the University of Buffalo and we all know the player that Mack has become. Farrell might not become Mack overnight, but he’s certainly an upgrade over what they had at defensive end last season. Given all of Farrell’s accomplishments and the aforementioned fact that he’s an upgrade for them at defensive end, I’ll give the Raiders an A-.
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Devin White, ILB, LSU. The Buccaneers transition to a 3-4 defense under Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles, a defense that the former wants to employ, as he wants to implement the Pittsburgh Steelers culture in central Florida, while the latter has coordinated that alignment both as defensive coordinator of the Cardinals (under Arians) and head coach of the Jets. A key position in their version of the 3-4 is the “Money ‘Backer”, an inside linebacker who is an extremely athletic tackling machine, something that White was during his time at LSU. He is young (21 years old), but he will thrive under the tutelage of Lavonte David to become the next great Buccaneers linebacker. An A for Tampa Bay.
  6. New York Giants-Daniel Jones, QB, Duke. The Giants finally draft Eli Manning’s successor in Daniel Jones, a player that went to the passing camp that is run by both Eli and his much more decorated older brother, Peyton. Plus, Jones played under David Cutcliffe, a coach whom the Manning Brothers also played under during their collegiate careers. So from a familiarity standpoint, the pick makes sense. However, Jones is a reach here, as Dwayne Haskins was the better quarterback prospect heading into this draft. Based on Jones’ history with the Manning Brothers and playing under Cutcliffe, I’ll give the Giants an A-.
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars-Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky. One thing that propelled the Jaguars being one win shy of reaching Super Bowl LII was their ability to sack the quarterback, thus the defensive moniker “Sacksonville”. However, a midseason trade of Dante Fowler Jr. in 2018 decimated their depth on the defensive line, thus a reason why the Jaguars took a nose dive that season. Offensive line was a need for the Jaguars as well, but the Jaguars also needed quality depth behind Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, something that the 2018 Bednarik Award winner provides. Allen will contribute right away, as well as form a one-two punch at defensive end with Ngakoue for years to come. Absolutely an A for the Jaguars.
  8. Detroit Lions-T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa. The Lions invested in the tight end position during free agency when they signed former Steeler Jesse James on the first day of that period. But two tight end sets are more trendy in today’s NFL. So from that standpoint, Hockenson makes sense. However, the biggest need for the Lions heading into the draft was an impact safety, a position that they still haven’t addressed. I’ll give the Lions a B.
  9. Buffalo Bills-Ed Oliver, DT, Houston. 4-3 defensive tackle play and 3-4 defensive end play have been a staple of teams such as the Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, as those teams boast players at those positions who reached double digit sacks last season, along with giving the New England Patriots problems along the interior. Such a reality, along with filling the void left by Kyle Williams’ retirement, make this pick a no brainer. Oliver graded as the highest rated defensive tackle in this draft, but wasn’t a fit nor a need for the eight teams in front of the Bills. The Bills get tremendous value, by getting a top five prospect at this point of the draft. Absolutely an A for the Bills.
  10. Pittsburgh Steelers-Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan. The absence of Ryan Shazier hurt the Steelers for the rest of the 2017 season and the entire 2018 season, as they had no difference maker at that position, even though Vince Williams put forth a valiant effort. However, Williams is better suited as “Robin” and not “Batman” as a 3-4 inside linebacker. This was absolutely a need pick for the Steelers. Especially when there’s a strong possibility that Shazier may never play again. Absolutely an A for the Steelers.
  11. Cincinnati Bengals-Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama. The Bengals offensive line was a disaster last season, as evidenced by the Chiefs mauling them in that 45-10 loss during Week 7, along with Andy Dalton suffering yet another season-ending injury. Drafting offensive linemen in the first round is a sure thing more times than not. And given that Williams was the best offensive lineman prospect in this draft, this pick was an absolute no brainer for the Bengals. Absolutely an A for them.
  12. Green Bay Packers-Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan. Gary is a smaller and lighter version of Julius Peppers, in terms of his height and weight. The Packers had the future Hall Of Fame defensive end as a 3-4 outside linebacker from 2014 to 2016, and advanced to the NFC Championship Game in two of those three seasons. Gary is more than capable of playing that position, as he’s too light to play defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. I give the Packers a B for drafting him as very quality depth for their outside linebacking corps.
  13. Miami Dolphins-Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. The Dolphins were both atrocious and bereft of talent at the defensive tackle position in 2018, with the very first sign of that being a 38-7 thrashing against the Patriots in Week 4. The Dolphins drafting Wilkins is a common thread by Patriots AFC East foes, which is draft a position that gives the Super Bowl LIII champions problems on a regular basis. Wilkins comes from the college football program (Clemson) that boasted the nation’s best defensive line, a unit that helped defeat Alabama to win a national championship for the second time in three seasons. Wilkins is another threat against both the run and the pass, thus potentially turning a weakness into a strength for the Dolphins. Like many teams thus far on this list, the Dolphins get an A.
  14. Atlanta Falcons-Chris Lidstrom, OG, Boston College. In my mock draft, I had Lidstrom going 23 to the Houston Texans, but as an offensive tackle to give that team more protection for Deshaun Watson. Lidstrom got drafted a little earlier than I thought. But given the Falcons’ problems along the offensive line last season, they need all the help that they can get. And for that reason, I give the Falcons an A.
  15. Washington Redskins-Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State. The best quarterback in this draft goes to the team that started four players at the position in 2018. One of those players, Alex Smith, is most likely done playing football, and the other three players (Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, Josh Johnson) are far from long-term solutions at the position. Haskins could very well be the player that gives the Redskins long-term stability at the position that they haven’t had since Joe Thiesmann was quarterbacking the team. An A for the Redskins
  16. Carolina Panthers-Brian Burns, DE, Florida State. With all due respect to Julius Peppers, the Panthers struggled getting after the quarterback in 2018, thus a big reason why they squandered a 6-2 start that season. The Panthers hope that a switch to the 3-4 puts them back in Super Bowl contention, along with jump-starting their pass rush. Burns is the first outside pass rusher to be drafted in the first round by the Panthers since Peppers, and they hope that his bounce back junior season in 2018 can translate into sustained success at the next level. Given Burns’ upside and how easy it is for a 3-4 outside linebacker to get double digit sacks as a rookie, I’ll give the Panthers an A.
  17. New York Giants-Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson-The trade of Damon “Snacks” Harrison to Detroit last season left a huge void at nose tackle for the G-Men, which was also a need for them heading into the draft. The selection of Lawrence might seem like a reach at this spot. But look at what the Steelers did in 2001, as they drafted Casey Hampton around this part of that draft to become an eventful anchor of their vaunted 3-4 defense. Lawrence was more of a run stuffer and pocket pusher at Clemson than an Aaron Donald type pass rushing defensive tackle anyways, so the pick makes sense here from that standpoint. I’ll give the Giants an A.
  18. Minnesota VikingsGarrett Bradbury, C, NC State-The Vikings need all the protection that they can get for their $84 million investment, Kirk Cousins. Getting a rookie to be the pivot of the offensive line might seem risky, given the expectations in Minnesota. However, Bradbury will be 24 when the season begins, and that’s an age where the game doesn’t seem too big for offensive linemen. Bradbury will make an instant impact for the Vikings and will go on to be a great center for years to come. Absolutely an A for the Vikings.
  19. Tennessee TitansJeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State-Mississippi State has been a defensive goldmine lately, as that school produced both Fletcher Cox and Chris Jones. The Titans hope Simmons can be on the same level as those two players. Simmons did have a simple assault transgression in 2016, as well as a regression in his season-to-season sack total (5.0 sacks in 2017, 2.0 sacks in 2018). However, it’s been reported that he has learned from the former of those two things, and is in a perfect environment to grow as both a player and person with Mike Vrabel as his head coach and veteran players, such as Cameron Wake, as his teammate. Based on the sack regression yet upside, I give the Titans an A-.
  20. Denver BroncosNoah Fant, TE, Iowa-A youth movement appears to be in order for the Broncos on offense, as they drafted both Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton in last year’s draft, along with signing Phillip Lindsay as an undrafted free agent shortly after that. Drafting Fant adds to that youth movement, as he gives them their most athletic tight end since Julius Thomas. He was the lesser utilized of the two tight ends at Iowa, but Joe Flacco will help him unleash his gifts at the pro level. Fant will put up numbers similar to what Rob Gronkowksi put up in his rookie season. Absolutely an A for the Broncos.
  21. Green Bay PackersDarnell Savage Jr., FS, Maryland-The Packers made strides on defense last season, but their secondary was still an issue. Especially with Morgan Burnett signing with the Steelers prior to the 2018 regular season, as well as trading Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Washington Redskins during last season’s NFL trade deadline. The Packers signed Adrian Amos away from the rival Chicago Bears, but needed another impact player at the position. Enter Savage Jr., whose heat-seeking missile relentlessness and ability to be a ball-hawk make him a cross between Troy Polamalu and Eric Berry, two of the best safeties in recent memory. There were very few knocks on him coming into the draft, such as being too aggressive, occasionally being caught peeking into the backfield and having a light frame (5-11, 198). However, two of those things can and will be corrected, along with him putting on just a bit more weight yet not losing his elite athleticism. I expect his rookie season to be similar to Derwin James’ rookie season, which was last year. Absolutely an A for the Packers.
  22. Philadelphia EaglesAndre Dillard, OT, Washington State-It appears 2019 will be Jason Peters’ last season in the league, as the drafting of Dillard suggests as such. Peters will mentor Dillard to take over for him in 2020 to ensure that the Eagles continue their excellent play along the offensive line. Despite this pick being considered a luxury for a team that boasts the aforementioned Peters, along with two All-Pros in Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, this is an A for the Eagles. Especially when it will become a necessity in 2020.
  23. Houston TexansTytus Howard, OT, Alabama State-Offensive line was a need for the Texans heading into this draft, but two much more proven players in Cody Ford and Jawaan Taylor were available here. Howard wasn’t even mentioned as a top 10 draft prospect at the offensive tackle position. As I stated in my analysis of Jonah Williams going to the Bengals, offensive linemen are usually sure things in any NFL Draft. However, I don’t get that sense with Howard, who didn’t go to a power five school like Ford (Oklahoma) and Taylor (Florida) did. Based on how head-scratching this pick is, I’m afraid that I have to give the Texans a D.
  24. Oakland RaidersJosh Jacobs, RB, Alabama-Jacobs never had a season at Alabama where he rushed for at least 1,000 yards. However, the Crimson Tide are a running back-by-committee team anyways, so Jacobs doesn’t deserve an indictment for no 1,000 rushing yard season during his collegiate career. Despite 1,491 combined rushing yards during his years playing under Nick Saban, Jacobs emerged as the best running back in a class that’s mostly devoid of any First Round talent at the position. His college production might make him seem like a reach, but his body type is similar to Marshawn Lynch, a player that the Raiders need to replace, as Beast Mode is most likely going to retire. His Alabama career and the possibility of how Jon Gruden will utilize him net the Raiders an A- grade.
  25. Baltimore RavensMarquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma-Another head-scratching move, based on the fact that the Ravens are more of a running team than a passing team with Lamar Jackson. Plus, the Ravens had three huge voids (Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosely, Eric Weddle) to fill on their all-world defense coming into this draft. However, Jackson is more than capable of developing into a good passing quarterback at the next level. Given the glaring defensive voids that I just mentioned, I’ll give the Ravens a B.
  26. Washington RedskinsMontez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State-The Redskins lost their solid number two pass rusher in Preston Smith to the Packers during the off-season, thus causing a glaring need at the outside linebacker spot opposite Ryan Kerrigan. They get a steal here with Sweat, whom many had as the third best pass rusher behind Nick Bosa and Josh Allen in this draft. However, he dropped in the draft, due to a heart condition that was reportedly detected at the scouting combine. I hope that the aforementioned heart condition isn’t an issue for Sweat at the next level, because I’d hate for his life to be at risk. If he can find a way to play and play at a high level without the aforementioned heart condition being an issue at all, then the Redskins will have a formidable front five with both their defensive line and two outside linebackers for 2019 and beyond. Given the slight risk involved, I’ll give the Redskins an A-.
  27. Oakland Raiders-Jonathan Abram, S, Mississippi State-Reggie Nelson still remains unsigned, while the Raiders made 2019 a “prove it” year for Karl Joseph, their First Round pick of 2016. Regardless, Abram is an upgrade over both those players, based on Walter Football’s scouting report on him. And like Darnell Savage Jr., there are very few knocks on his game that can be easily corrected. Derwin James was the latest gold standard in rookie safety play last season, and both Abram’s scouting report and measurables make him comparable to the Los Angeles Chargers’ all-world safety. Absolutely an A for the Raiders.
  28. Los Angeles Chargers-Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame-The Chargers have two beasts at defensive end in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, but no pass rushing threat from the interior, as well as no one to tandem up with Brandon Mebane inside to consistently stop the run (see 2018 Divisional Round Game against the Patriots). Enter Tillery, a player who checks those two boxes. Based on the scouting report per Walter Football, Tillery has had both off the field issues and a lack of motivation, the latter of which was a knock against both Kris Jenkins and Chris Jones heading into their respective Drafts. But given the high character players that the Chargers have on their defense, Tillery will grow as both a player and person. Absolutely an A for the Chargers.
  29. Seattle Seahawks-L.J. Collier, DE, TCU-Walter Football didn’t have Collier ranked as a top ten defensive end prospect heading into this draft, along with the fact that the most sacks that he had during a single collegiate season was 6.0. This is a head-scratching move, because a more accomplished pass rusher in Jaylen Ferguson was available at this stage of the draft. However, Collier’s unique build and nonstop motor make comparable to the king of NFL “tweeners”, with that player being Hall Of Famer John Randle. Collier doesn’t have Randle’s unique trash talking ability, but he could very well put in the work to make strides the way that Randle did during his illustrious career. Given all the unknowns with Collier right now, I’ll give the Seahawks a B.
  30. New York Giants-Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia-There has been talk of Janoris Jenkins eventually being traded. And if that’s the case, then the 2016 spending spree that the Giants had on defense will go for naught, as both Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Olivier Vernon have been traded. The Giants appear to be in rebuilding mode, first by drafting Eli Manning’s possible successor (Daniel Jones) at number six and then Harrison’s replacement (Dexter Lawrence) at number seventeen. Baker being selected here is unique in the sense that he’s an eventual replacement for a guy (Jenkins), who’s both still on the roster yet could be traded as early as this off-season. Off the field issues provide the biggest question for Baker. Especially on a team that’s in rebuild mode. However, his measurables and skill set make him very comparable to Darrelle Revis. I’ll give Baker the benefit of the doubt in terms of him being able to grow as a person. But until that question is answered, I’ll give the Giants an A-.
  31. Atlanta Falcons-Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington-From what I read about McGary, he doesn’t have quick feet to combat pass rushers, something that the Falcons will face right out of the gate with Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen in Week 1, Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett in Week 2, and Justin Houston in Week 3. Those players will attack McGary early and often. The Falcons should have drafted Cody Ford or Jawaan Taylor here, because they both have better feet in combatting every good to great pass rusher on the Falcons’ 2019 schedule. McGary could improve as the season goes on. But right now, I’m not a fan of this pick. D- for the Falcons.
  32. New England Patriots-N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State-Wide receiver became an issue for the Patriots after their Super Bowl LIII victory against the Rams, as Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson left for the Panthers and Bears, respectively. Plus, Phillip Dorsett disappears for long stretches, along with the fact that Julian Edelman is more towards the end of his career and Josh Gordon is indefinitely banned from the league. Given all of that, Harry is a no brainer for the Patriots, as his work ethic falls in line with the “Patriot Way”. Harry is a younger version of Larry Fitzgerald, an opposing player that Bill Belichick is very fond of, thus a reason why Harry is the last pick of the first round. Especially when the Cardinals refused to trade their great wide receiver. If Tom Brady does indeed play four more years as he’s stated multiple times, then what a pre-retirement gift that he has at his disposal with Harry. Harry’s backstory makes him absolutely easy to root for, even if the team that he’s on now is the most reviled in NFL history. Once Brady retires, it wouldn’t surprise me if Harry becomes the face of the franchise the way that Fitzgerald has been the face of the Cardinals franchise. Absolutely an A for the Patriots. 

Of course, these grades will be subject to change, as none of the Draft picks listed above have played a down of pro football yet. But I mostly like what I see from both an immediate need standpoint and a future need standpoint, the former of which applies to a team, such as the Bills, and the latter of which applies to a team, such as the Eagles. We shall see how these 32 First Round picks do in their respective rookie seasons, as well as their respective careers moving forward. I’ll check back with you all about these 32 players ten years from now. 

In closing, I’m not sure when I’ll be blogging about sports again. But when I do, you’ll find out about it in The Nog. So whenever that time will be, so long everybody!