Thursday night in Arlington, Texas, many NFL teams began a draft they were hoping would reshape their franchise. The scouts called this draft class one of the best and deepest in recent years. All eyes were on the Cleveland Browns with the first pick and the most needs of any team.
The Browns chose Baker Mayfield out of Oklahoma with the first-overall pick. Mayfield walked onto the Oklahoma football team and led them to the playoffs his final year. He draws comparisons to Brett Favre in competitiveness but also to Johnny Manziel with size and attitude at times. I like Mayfield, but I don’t feel that he’s a number-one-pick caliber player.
The Browns also had the luxury of the fourth-overall pick, but they reached with this one, selecting Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. He’s an elite corner at the college level and should have a very successful NFL career, but they could have traded down and still gotten him.
For the rest of the league, there wasn’t as much pressure. The Giants picked Penn St. running back Saquon Barkley second overall. Barkley is the best player coming into the draft and will balance out the Giants offense and take pressure off of Eli Manning. They are a playoff-caliber team when healthy, and Barkley solidifies their chances of making a run this year.
The Jets took quarterback Sam Darnold out of USC third overall, who I think will be the biggest bust in the draft. Darnold struggled to read defenses his entire career and failed to protect the football. He throws into double coverage and deep-safety help far too often. Darnold turned the ball over 36 times in 24 career games at USC.
At fifth overall, the Broncos got NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb. He is the best defensive lineman in the draft by far and, paired with Von Miller, will be an absolute nightmare for opposing teams.
The Bills traded into the seventh spot and selected quarterback Josh Allen out of Wyoming. He’s a wildcard. A physical specimen that could be the best quarterback in the draft or could never develop into a starter. It’s a bold move, but he has upside.
The Chicago Bears got the best defensive player in the draft with the eighth pick, linebacker Roquan Smith. Expect to see him producing from the start of the season.
Minkah Fitzpatrick was drafted 11th overall by the Dolphins. Fitzpatrick is the most complete defensive back and can play corner or safety. I was surprised to see him fall this far, he’s going to be a star.
A little further down, the Carolina Panthers selected Maryland receiver D.J. Moore 24th overall instead of Alabama’s Calvin Ridley. Ridley is the best receiver in the draft and went 26th to the Falcons. This pairs him with Julio Jones and I can’t really think of a team that’s going to be able to cover them both. A great pick for the Falcons.
The Arizona Cardinals very quietly had my favorite draft. They got quarterback Josh Rosen out of UCLA with the 10th pick. Rosen is the best quarterback in the draft. I like him in Arizona especially alongside David Johnson. When it’s his time to start he’ll flourish, especially with their second pick, Texas A&M wide out Christian Kirk. Kirk is a versatile slot receiver who can blow by coverages and make defenders miss once he has the ball. Arizona has the veterans to develop both of these players and become a real contender in years to come.
With the 23rd and 31st picks, the Patriots took Georgia offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn and teammate Sony Michel. Bill Belichick has an offense where it’s easy for running backs to flourish, and I expect nothing less from Michel. He’s is a great college back who finds a way to get first downs and get in the endzone. He should have a huge year.
The last selection from the first round I want to mention is the Ravens pick of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson will start as an NFL quarterback and could be better than Deshaun Watson was last season. He could also turn out like Robert Griffin III, but I’m excited to see him develop. Jackson could fit in with up and coming dual threat quarterbacks finding success in the NFL and maybe even be the best of them all.