Round 1 of the NFL Draft is in the books, and it was a wild ride, with many riser, fallers and trades. We here at SportSmasher.com have been following the NFL Draft process closely as always, and are ready to name our winners and losers of round one, as well as our best players available in round two. Let’s get into it:
Denver Broncos: Luck and bad decision making by another team (in my opinion) made the Denver Broncos huge winners in the 2018 NFL Draft, as they selected NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb, who I thought was the best defensive player in the draft. After the Cleveland Browns selected Baker Mayfield first overall, it was assumed by many that they would select Bradley Chubb fourth overall, but the Browns passed and reached for cornerback Denzel Ward. The Broncos coveted Bradley Chubb, and had a trade in place with the Buffalo Bills to trade down, but were shocked when the Browns passed on Chubb and canceled the trade. The best defensive player in the draft unexpectedly fell into the Broncos laps at pick number five making them big winners on draft night.
Chicago Bears: I had Bradley Chubb as the best defensive player in the draft, but I had Roquan Smith right behind him neck-and-neck, so the Bears got an amazing talent at eighth overall. In the hours leading up to the draft, I heard rumors that Roquan Smith was being considered by the Browns at fourth overall (they should have taken him) as well as the Denver Broncos at fifth. I was told there was no chance Roquan Smith would get past the Colts at sixth overall. He did, he fell into the Bears laps, and they got their next great sideline to sideline linebacker who is going to be a star in Chicago. My pick for defensive rookie of the year is Roquan Smith, it’s a no brainer, he is going to have an instant impact.
Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers sat back, and with the seventeenth pick in the draft, had another one of the draft’s top defensive players fall into their laps. Derwin James has some concerns about his coverage abilities which caused him to slide, but he is a tone setter and a team leader, he will immediately make the Chargers defense better. The Chargers were soft up the middle last season, and while they need to add some bulk in the front seven in the coming rounds, Derwin James is a physical presence who will make the defense more fearsome.
Green Bay Packers: The Packers loved Jaire Alexander, but they traded down from fourteen to twenty-seven with the Saints, and picked up the Saints 2019 first round pick in the process. That is huge, the Packers now have two first round picks in 2019, which is extremely valuable. Then the Packers traded back down, from twenty-seven to eighteen and still got their guy Jaire Alexander while only giving up a third round pick and a sixth round pick in the process. Master manipulation of the draft board by Green Bay.
New York Jets: The Jets had Sam Darnold on the top of their board all year, but thought there was no chance that he would fall to them with the third pick, so they apparently were set on taking Josh Rosen third overall. The Browns passed on Sam Darnold, the New York Giants took Saquon Barkley, and Sam Darnold fell into the Jets laps. The Jets got the top player on their board third overall, they thought they had no chance at him, and they are thrilled today.
New Orleans Saints: It is clear that the Saints thought that they were a situational pass rusher away from winning the Super Bowl, because they gave up their 2019 first round pick to trade up and select raw pass rusher Marcus Davenport, who has an extremely high ceiling but needs a lot of work. Davenport might be a ten sack player as a situational pass rusher right away, but I would have rather stayed put and drafted a pass rusher like Harold Landry (who is still on the board), that is more polished and ready to contribute now while hanging onto my 2019 first round pick. The Saints should be good this season, but they have a 39-year-old quarterback, and they are an injury to Drew Brees away from needing a quarterback in 2019 and having no draft pick to acquire one. The Saints went all in on 2018, let’s see if it pays off.
Cleveland Browns: I am not going to kill the Browns for selecting Baker Mayfield, I am not a fan of his, but their talent evaluators thought he was the best quarterback prospect in the draft. If I was running the Browns, I would have taken a much safer quarterback Sam Darnold (who is three years younger), because the Browns organization could not afford to gamble and needed to get this pick right. I will kill the Browns for what they did for the fourth pick, because they reached for talented Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, and left several much better prospects (Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson, Roquan Smith) on the board. Even if the Browns needed a cornerback, this is a very deep cornerback class, and the Browns have plenty of draft picks to fill the need. The Browns are currently on the clock with the first pick in the second round, cornerbacks still on the board include Josh Jackson, Donte Jackson and Carlton Davis. I would rather have taken Bradley Chubb or Quenton Nelson or Roquan Smith at four, instead of reaching for Denzel Ward, and then taken one of the remaining corners with the first pick of the second round.
Dallas Cowboys: With Sean Lee injury prone and getting up there in age and mayor questions about the short and long term durability of Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys had linebacker as the top need on their draft board, so they selected Leighton Vander Esch out of Boise State. I like Leighton Vander Esch as a prospect, but he was only a one year starter at Boise State, although he was extremely productive and was the conference player of the year it was a small sample size. Vander Esch was incredible at the NFL Combine, so while his tape is good, I am worried he was a bit of a workout warrior. He also was flagged due to a neck injury. The measurables freaks love Vander Esch, if he can utilize those measurables on the field he could be great, but they do not show on tape regularly enough.
Seattle Seahawks: I give the Seahawks partial credit, they traded down and regained a third and sixth round pick, which they were lacking. However, I do not understand the player that they drafted twenty-seventh overall at all, this team has a lot of needs and they elected to draft running back Rashaad Penny. I do think that Penny is a talented prospect, but he has some major flaws (awful in pass protection and blitz pickup, runs too high), and he would have been available much later in the draft. Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson, a big corner who fits the Seahawks scheme perfectly, would have been a great fit and I would bet that they still could have grabbed Penny later. I projected Penny as a third round, and I would have much rather have drafter Derris Guice, Nick Chubb or Sony Michel here, they are superior prospects at the same position.
Round Two Mock And Best Available:
33) Cleveland Browns – Geron Christian, OT (6’6 310lbs) Louisville – The Browns kick off the second frame by adding a left tackle of the future, which has become a position of need, after the recently retired Joe Thomas held it down for a decade.
34) New York Giants – Will Hernandez, OG (6’2 310lbs) Georgia – The Giants needs along the offensive line are well documented, they draft massive guard Will Hernandez, who will open holes for Saquon Barkley in the running game.
35) Cleveland Browns – Harold Landry, DE/OLB (6’3 250lbs) Boston College – The Browns passed on a pass rusher in round one and try to make up for it by drafting an ultra-productive pass rusher, who many expected to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft after collecting 16.5 sacks as a junior, then slid a bit due to injuries senior year holding him to 5.0 sacks.
36) Indianapolis Colts – Derrius Guice (5’10 215lbs) LSU – The Colts need help at tailback, and they get a great prospect who can carry the load right away in Derris Guice, who has star potential.
37) Indianapolis Colts – Josh Johnson, CB (6’ 195lbs) Iowa – The 2017 NCAA interception leader slides a bit due to the zone scheme he played in at Iowa, but he is a great fir for the Colts.
38) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ronald Jones II, RB (5’11 200lbs) USC – The Buccaneers need an upgrade at running back and they get one here by selecting USC star Ronald Jones II who had 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2017.
39) Chicago Bears – Isaiah Oliver, CB (6’1 190lbs) Colorado – The Bears have been tied to Isaiah Oliver throughout the draft process, the big and long armed corner would be a nice fit for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s defense.
40) Denver Broncos – Donte Jackson, CB (5’10 180lbs) LSU – In this scenario the Broncos draft a speedy cornerback who can replace Aquib Talib and start right away in their secondary.
41) Oakland Raiders – Maurice Hurst, DT (6’2 285lbs ) Michigan – Now medically cleared after an issue was detected at the combine, Hurst is a first round caliber talent, and the soft up the middle Raiders defense needs more beef up front.
42) Miami Dolphins – Mike Gesicki, TE (6’5 245lbs) Penn State – The Dolphins need a tight end and Mike Gesicki is an absolute athletic freak who reminds scouts of Rob Gronkowski at times, but he needs to play more consistently.
43) New England Patriots – Mason Rudolph, QB (6’5 235lbs) Oklahoma State – The Patriots get their developmental quarterback who may ultimately take the reins once Tom Brady retires.
44) Washington Redskins – Christian Kirk, WR (5’10 200lbs) Texas A&M – Alex Smith needs weapons on offense, and Christian Kirk is a speedy receiver who does his best work in the slot, and also can help in the return game.
45) Green Bay Packers – Jessie Bates, S (6’1 200lbs) Wake Forest – The Packers need a safety to replace Morgan Burnett, and Jessie Bates is a hot name as the draft approaches, he is an athletic safety who would be an excellent fit.
46) Cincinnati Bengals – D.J. Chark, WR (6’3 200lbs) LSU – D.J. Chark can flat out fly, he ran a blazing 4.34 40-yard-dash at the NFL combine, he can use his elite speed to get behind defenses and could be a star if he develops consistency.
47) Arizona Cardinals – James Daniels, C/OG (6’3 306) Iowa – The Cardinals get a versatile center or guard who can help protect Josh Rosen for the next decade.
48) Los Angeles Chargers – Harrison Phillips, DT (6’4 305lbs) Stanford – The Chargers hit a home run in the first round, but the middle of their defense is still soft, so they draft some beef for the defensive line.
49) Indianapolis Colts – Martinas Rankin, OT (6’5 305lbs) Mississippi State – The Colts must protect Andrew Luck, their offensive line has been an issue for too long, and they get an upgrade by drafting Rankin.
50) Dallas Cowboys – Sam Hubbard, DE (6’5 270lbs) Ohio State – The Cowboys get a relentless defensive lineman with a high motor who can live up inside or outside and could have star potential in Sam Hubbard.
51) Detroit Lions – Anthony Miller, WR (6’ 190lbs) Memphis – Matthew Stafford needs more targets on offense, and the most underrated receiver in the draft caught 95 passes for 1,434 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2017.
52) Philadelphia Eagles – James Washington, WR (6’ 210lbs) Oklahoma State – The Eagles get another big play weapon on the outside, to replace Torrey Smith, who is an expert at making plays downfield.
53) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Anthony Averett, CB (5’11 185lbs) Alabama – The Bucs get a corner with big game experience who can step in right away and can eventually take over for Brent Grimes.
54) Kansas City Chiefs – Ronnie Harrison, S (6’2 207lbs) Alabama – The Chiefs need a safety, and Ronnie Harrison is a physical player who is a gifted athlete, he will be an immediate upgrade in Kansas City.
55) Carolina Panthers – Connor Williams, OT (6’5 315lbs) Texas – The Panthers get a very good offensive line prospect, who slid a bit in 2017, after battling through injuries.
56) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Orlando Brown, OT (6’8 350lbs) Oklahoma – Despite the fact that Orlando Brown had one of the worst combine’s in recent memory, he is an incredible physical talent, and the Buccaneers hope Brown lives up to his film and not his workouts.
57) Tennessee Titans – Dorance Armstrong, OLB (6’4 255lbs) Kansas – New head coach Mike Vrabel will want to upgrade his pass rush, and the Titans get an excellent athlete in Dorance Armstrong, who will likely start his career as a situational pass rusher.
58) Atlanta Falcons – Dallas Goedert, TE (6’5 255lbs) – The Falcons have made getting more weapons on offense to keep the attention off Julio Jones a priority, Dallas Goedert is a tight end, but he can also line up out wide or in the slot. Immediate upgrade over Austin Hooper in the passing game.
59) San Francisco 49ers – Equanimeous St. Brown, WR (6’5 215lbs) Notre Dame – The 49ers go get a big and athletic target for the face of their franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
60) Pittsburgh Steelers – Lorenzo Carter, OLB (6’5 250lbs) Georgia – An athletic freak who was incredible at the combine, Lorenzo Carter would be a great fit in Pittsburgh, the Steelers need to upgrade their pass rush.
61) Jacksonville Jaguars – Kyle Lauletta, QB (6’3 215lbs) Richmond – The Jaguars get a smart and accurate quarterback to compete with Blake Bortles and who can step in if Bortles falters.
62) Minnesota Vikings – Arden Key, DE (6’6 250lbs) LSU – An enormous physical talent who should really be top fifteen pick, Arden Key has character concerns and injury issues which will cause him to slide, but a strong organization like the Vikings will gamble on a potential double digit sack producer.
63) New England Patriots – Carlton Davis, CB (6’1 205lbs) Auburn – The Steelers get a big and physical cornerback as they continue to rebuild their secondary.
64) Cleveland Browns – Marcell Ateman, WR (6’1 215lbs) Oklahoma State – The Browns get a target in the passing game who can get vertical for their new quarterback.
– Brain O’Neill, OT (6’6 305lbs) Pittsburgh
– Nick Chubb, RB (5’11 228lbs) Georgia
– Braden Smith, OG (6’6 303lbs) Auburn
– Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB (6’1 245) Oklahoma
– Kerryon Johnson, RB (6’ 210lbs) Auburn
– Mark Andrews, TE (6’5 255lbs) Oklahoma
– Justin Jones, DT (6’2 310) NC State
– Austin Corbett, OG (6’4 305lbs) Nevada
– B.J. Hill, DT (6’4 315lbs) NC State
– Nathan Shepherd, DT (6’5 315lbs) Fort Hays St.
– Josey Jewell, LB (6’1 235lbs) Iowa
– Trenton Thompson, DT (6’4 295lbs) Georgia
– Breeland Speaks, DE/DT (6’3 285lbs) Ole Miss
– Dante Pettis, WR (6’1 192lbs) Washington
– Deon Cain, WR (6’2 200lbs) Clemson
– Malik Jefferson, LB (6’3 3235lbs) Texas
– Da’Shawn Hand, DE/DT (6’4 295lbs) Alabama
– Duke Dawson, CB (5’11 195lbs) Florida
– Nick Nelson, CB (5’11 205lbs) Wisconsin
– DaShon Elliot, S (6’2 205lbs) Texas
– Tavarus McFadden, CB (6’2 200lbs) Florida State
– Darius Leonard, LB (6’2 215lbs) South Carolina State
– Jordan Whitehead, S (5’10 195lbs) Pittsburgh
– DaeSean Hamilton, WR (6’1 205lbs) Penn State
– Josh Sweat, DE/OLB (6’4 250lbs) Florida State