A hectic first day of the NFL Draft is officially over, and we’re just getting started. A day full of trades and surprise picks, nobody could have predicted the shocking picks that were selected tonight. I’m going to go over my favorite day 1 picks and talk about the top available players for day 2.
New York Jets take Sam Darnold at no. 3: I was skeptical of the Jets trading up weeks before the draft and sacrificing 3 2nd round picks to make it happen, but they were gifted with the best QB in the draft. Darnold becomes an instant future franchise player in New York who doesn’t have to start until he’s fully ready. With long time veteran Josh McCown and the knowledgeable Teddy Bridgewater to go along with an underrated supporting cast with Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, and Quincy Enunwa, Sam Darnold is a great position to succeed and was a great value for the Jets.
Chicago Bears take Roquan Smith at no. 8:: Thanks to some questionable decisions ahead of them, the Bears were able to sit pat and have Roquan Smith fall right into their laps. A player I assumed would be gone by no. 6, the Bears get an incredible talent at LB who can slide right into Jerrell Freeman’s old role and become a cornerstone of this defense. A player who will provide much needed speed, Chicago got one of the best picks on the night without having to do any maneuvering to get him.
LA Chargers take Derwin James at no. 17: There’s nothing quite like having a surefire top 10 talent fall all the way to 17. There were at least 5 spots I thought Derwin would go to make him reach nowhere near the Charger’s range. Incredibly, he kept being passed on, and now LA has one of if the not the best young secondary in football. Jason Verrett, Casey Hayward, Desmond King, and now Derwin James will be a terror on the rest of their competitive division and provide much needed support to a team on the rise.
Dallas Cowboys take Leighton Vander Esch at no. 19: A team I did not believe would prioritize a LB on day 1, the Cowboys made one of the best picks of the night. A big, yet athletic playmaker from Boise St., LVE, Jaylon Smith, and Sean Lee will form a fantastic trio. Although there are injury concerns with all three of them, the raw talent of Vander Esch was way too appealing to pass up on in the late teens in a weaker WR class, their perceived biggest need.
Baltimore Ravens trade up for Lamar Jackson at no. 32: After questioning what the Ravens were doing for most of the night, they made a fantastic move to secure a future franchise QB at 32 in Lamar Jackson. While he probably won’t, Lamar is good enough to take over for Joe Flacco on day 1 and greatly improve the underwhelming Ravens offense. Getting the third best QB in the draft when he was the 5th one taken with the last pick of the 1st round is a tremendous value that sets up the rest of the draft well.
Least Favorite picks:
Buffalo Bills trade up for Josh Allen at no. 7: You knew it was coming. A QB with little to offer outside of the physical aspect of the game, Josh Allen was nowhere near worth a first round pick, let alone trading away an additional 2 second rounders for the right to take him. Selecting him with Josh Rosen still on the board is completely baffling, and makes no sense in any way. One of the best comparisons I’ve seen for Allen is Logan Thomas, a current Bills TE.
New Orleans Saints trade up for Marcus Davenport at no. 14: While everyone thought the Saints were about to get Drew Brees successor Lamar Jackson, they shocked just about everyone by taking the super raw Marcus Davenport from UTSA. An EDGE with a long way to go, spending two first with Harold Landry continuing to be on the board into day 2 is very poor value for a guy I believed was a mid day 2 selection himself.
Oakland Raiders move back to take Kolton Miller at no. 15: The curse of Tom Cable strikes again. The man responsible for taking the Seattle Seahawks o-line and not developing anything has spent a top 15 pick on the athletic specimen Kolton Miller. He dazzled with combine scores such as a 10’8″ broad jump, Miller still needs a ton of development as a football player, and not to mention there were much better tackle options available, such as Isaiah Wynn and even Connor Williams.
Baltimore Ravens move back to take Hayden Hurst at no. 25: Normally I’m a fan when teams move back, accumulate more picks, and then select a player. However, Hayden Hurst is a 25 year old TE with no great strength to his game. For a offense that lacks explosive playmakers, TEs such as Mike Gesicki or Dallas Goedert or even a WR such as Calvin Ridley would have done a much better job at making a stagnate offense much tougher to defend.
Seattle Seahawks move back to take Rashaad Penny at no. 27: The Seahawks have been so good at moving back and taking undervalued players who outperform their draft position for so many years. That is why the selection of Rashaad Penny was surprising to everyone. With RBs such as Derrius Guice, Sony Michel, and Nick Chubb still available, Seattle reached for a player almost certain to still be there a round later. Penny does has some impressive athletic scores, but not moving back again and prioritizing him round 1 makes little sense.
Pittsburgh Steelers select Terrell Edmunds at no. 28: This was easily the most surprising pick of the night. Terrell Edmunds was a player many had outside of their top 100 players and considered him an early day 3 prospect. A normally intelligent organization like the Steelers could have taken a different player and waited on Edmunds or could have allowed another team to move up and then take him after the trade down. They had been linked to a S for awhile, with Justin Reid being the odds on favorite.
Top Players for Day 2: