What We Learned At The 2019 NFL Draft
After all the tweets, the interviews, the rumours, the conjecture and the mock drafts, we finally know who will be playing where when the season starts. Let’s look at what we learned at the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee. First off the board, in a move that will have shocked almost no one, was QB Kyler Murray - a charismatic player with the potential to be the best dual-threat QB to ever have played in the NFL. Last year’s first-round pick for Arizona, Josh Rosen made the switch to Miami with the Dolphins on day two of the draft. Rosen has too much potential to be playing second fiddle to another QB, and his move is more down to the the strategic intention of incoming Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who had fancied Murray before he was appointed there. Rosen will now be crossing divisional swords with fellow first-round draft classmate, Sam Darnold at the Jets, who also has a lot to prove with a stronger roster in New York this season. The Niners, with the second pick, took DE Nick Bosa - another widely expected pick and one that most 49ers fans (myself included) are very happy with. Rounding out the top 3, the Jets took DT Quinnen Williams in yet another pick that was both assumed and lauded.
And then the wheels fell off the mock-draft cart. The Raiders shocked many with the drafting of DE Clelin Farrell at no. 4 overall, a great player but not the best available at that position on most boards. That would be the first of several shocks in the first round of the draft. The next would occur just two picks later with the Giants selecting QB Daniel Jones sixth overall. The response to this selection has been incredible - fans and media alike are seemingly outraged by the pick with many proclaiming it to be “the worst” or “a conspiracy” which I, frankly, do not understand. When I watched film on Daniel Jones, I saw a talented QB with significant promise who had battled adversity in the form of a poor supporting cast. The next shock came with the twelfth pick - nothing to do with LB Devin Bush, who went right around where I had expected, but rather how he was acquired. The Steelers trading up to get him was particularly shocking purely because they so rarely trade draft picks, preferring to stay in their lane and see who falls to them. This time, they moved up to get a player in a position of need who is vastly better than the next best player at that position. The Green Bay pick was interesting to me; I’m a big fan of DE Rashan Gary and my mock draft had him going to the Giants at no. 6, I had not expected Green Bay to take an edge rusher with either of their first-round picks. That said, I think it could be a great fit and I think both Green Bay and Gary can be happy with the selection.
There were several other notable picks in the first round; firstly, Denver getting Noah Fant at no. 20. I still think the Broncos need a franchise QB - Flacco is not a long-term option - but Fant is incredible value at that point in the draft and he is a game-changer for that offence. Plus the Broncos will have the extra picks they acquired in the trade with the Steelers and there are still 2 QBs on the board that have real potential. I think the Eagles did well to move up ahead of the Houston Texans and take OT Andre Dillard - another pick with great value at that point of the draft - and, although I had expected them to draft RB Josh Jacobs, they got some great protection for Carson Wentz. Talking of Josh Jacobs, the Raiders got an absolute weapon here! Jacobs is hands down the best running back in this draft and coupled with the free agency additions, this offence is looking really good. The Ravens got a similarly spectacular offensive weapon on the next pick with the selection of WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown - cousin of Raiders star WR Antonio Brown. Brown will almost certainly elevate Lamar Jackson as a passer and, coupled with the offseason addition of Mark Ingram, makes the Baltimore offence absolutely fearsome. Finally, the New York Giants trading back into the first round to select CB Deandre baker is a great move for them - Baker is a superb player and the top corner on many Mock Draft boards.
On the second day, the biggest news was Miami acquiring QB Josh Rosen through a trade with Arizona - a great trade for Miami who gets a talented young QB to be the new face of the franchise and only gives up a second-round pick this year and a fifth-rounder next year. In other quarterback news, the Broncos used the 42nd pick to select QB Drew Lock; a prospect who many believed would go in the first round. Hopefully, this will prove to be a good pick for John Elway whose track record selecting QBs has been less than excellent. And finally, at the end of the third round, the Carolina Panthers added a backup for Cam Newton with the selection of Will Grier. Grier was a top 5 QB on most boards and I think the Panthers got a good value pick here. Other notable selections on the second day include DE Chase Winovich to the Pats, an edge rusher who both looks and plays like Clay Matthews; and WR D.K. Metcalf going to Seattle at the end of the second round after starting off as a high first-round prospect on many draft boards. I also liked the hometown Titans selection of A.J. Brown - a stud wide receiver and great value where they got him - an all-around great pick. The Philadelphia Eagles caught my eye in the second round, drafting two players with a little less hype than others at their positions but a ton of talent; RB Miles Sanders and WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Both of these players are great prospects who I think will be great additions to a team looking to recapture the form of the 2017-18 season which culminated in their first and (so far) only Super Bowl win.
As day three began, there were a couple of big-name players still on the board and hoping to be selected soon. The most notable of these was WR Riley Ridley, brother of the excellent 2018 rookie WR Riley Ridley, who had inexplicably slipped beyond the third round. He would eventually be claimed with the 24th pick of day 3 (no. 126 overall) by the Chicago Bears. In fourth round quarterback news; Cincinnati traded up 6 places to take Ryan Finley, and the Pats took Jarrett Stidham. In the fifth round, the Chargers took QB Easton Stick and the Eagles took QB Clayton Thorson; also notable was Arizona’s selection of S Deionte Thompson, a player who had slid from his expected draft position on day 2. In round 6, there were some noteworthy picks: Jacksonville’s selection of QB Gardner Minshew, and Baltimore’s selection of QB Trace McSorley. I really like the Trace McSorley pick as well as several others the Ravens have made - they appear to be building a truly unique offence around Lamar Jackson and I expect McSorley to be used as more than a backup QB.
Overall, a lot of teams had great drafts and every team had at least one pick I liked. There was, however, a standout for me and that was the Green Bay Packers who did a good job of all 3 main objectives - protecting Aaron Rodgers, providing weapons for Aaron Rodgers, and getting the ball into the hands of Aaron Rodgers. All four of their picks from the first two days were, in my opinion, top-5 prospects at their position; and in my opinion, the standout was their first pick (twelfth overall) - DE Rashan Gary. Gary is a big, versatile edge rusher with not only talent, but also a great attitude, a ton of personality and some star power. I can’t wait to see this guy play in the NFL and I can’t wait to see this team on the field. The other standout performance of the 2019 NFL Draft was the city of Nashville, Tennessee who, as host city, put on just the greatest show. Finally, I must congratulate every player who was selected this weekend and wish you all the best in your professional careers.