Recapping the 2019 NFL Draft: Biggest winners, losers, steals and reaches
Another draft is in the books and once again there are all these grades being handed out and experts criticizing what teams did. While I don’t think you can properly evaluate prospects until they turn into actual players on the field and even then it takes some time, I do believe we can look at how these teams stuck with the principle of “best player available”, if they reached to fill needs and how their draft picks could help them out going forward.
Not only that, we can also look at specific players or coaches and how these selections will impact them directly. Therefore, I list the biggest winners, losers, steals and reaches from draft weekend, considering the information we have at this moment and the rankings I had put together.
Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray
I could have taken the Arizona Cardinals in general here, because I thought their third day selections were absolutely amazing, but I went with the team’s new dynamic head coach-quarterback duo.
Coach Kingsbury got his way with a guy he has been looking to work with for about five years now. They also added an arsenal of weapons for Murray including UMass speedster Andy Isabella who they selected with the pick they acquired via the Josh Rosen trade to Miami. Then they picked Iowa State’s monster receiver Hakeem Butler with the first selection on day three in addition to another wideout who I liked quite a bit in Fresno State’s KeeSean Johnson with the first pick of the sixth round
Arizona even snapped up Mr. Irrelevant, Caleb Wilson, who I had as my fifth-ranked(!) overall tight end. The UCLA TE might not jump off the screen to everybody, but he has that ability to set up defenders at the top of his routes and like I said in my positional rankings, he reminds me of Antonio Gates after the catch. You could certainly argue that offensive line should have been more of a priority for the Cardinals, but they grabbed one of my top 100 overall prospects in first-team All-SEC center Lamont Gaillard from Georgia with a sixth-rounder they acquired earlier.
Suddenly, one of the most boring and least creative offenses in the league could turn into one of the most exciting ones with that Kingsbury version of the Air-Raid and pass-catchers all over the place. Adding to that, they also got some excellent defensive pieces with my number one corner in Washington’s Byron Murphy with the 33rd selection, a versatile big D-linemen in Boston College’s Zach Allen in the third round and one of my top true center-fielding safety in Alabama's Deionte Thompson.
If you want to know why I have the Bills here, just look at where they picked their guys on the first two days and where they were on my board: Ninth pick Ed Oliver (DT, Houston) – 4 on my board, 38th pick Cody Ford (OT/G, Oklahoma) – 15, 74th pick Devin Singletary (RB, FAU) – 52, 96th pick Dawson Knox (TE, Ole Miss) – 85. All four of these guys were excellent value picks and they all fit really well with this team.
Oliver is the perfect 3-tech defensive tackle to replace Kyle Williams, Ford gives them position flexibility on the O-line and should start at right tackle straight away. As far as Singletary is concerned, I already called a mini LeSean McCoy to eventually replace Shady in Buffalo and Knox should be their starting tight end rather soon, because he has all the talent in the world but didn’t get many opportunities in that Ole Miss offense.
I also love the Bills’ sixth-round pick Jaquan Johnson (S, Miami), who I had slightly outside my top 100, and Boston College tight-end Tommy Sweeney in the seventh is a good blocker and security blanket as a TE3 at the very least. The one position they didn’t address was cornerback, but I think the guy who would have really fit their scheme in Washington’s Byron Murphy was the first pick in the second round already.
Other than that, they filled a lot of needs while also getting some of the best players on the board at that point. With all the guys Buffalo brought in via free agency and this crop of rookies combined with a second-year gunslinger in Josh Allen, this team could surprise some people when you look at what the defense did already last season when the offense was somewhat capable.
Washington Redskins fans
Finally, the Redskins have a quarterback they are really excited about again. Not since 2014 when Robert Griffin III was really banged up and replaced by Kirk Cousins has Washington had a guy everybody could rally behind, considering the front office never wanted to give Cousins that long-term contract he was seeking for.
Dwayne Haskins could have gone as early as sixth overall and probably should have considering which quarterback the Giants actually went with, but the ‘Skins watched the Broncos, Bengals and Dolphins pass on him, which led to the former Buckeye sliding all the way to 15 and no moves needed to be made to get the second-best quarterback in this draft.
You could see it in the reactions of all their fans, that this was what everybody wanted, instead of going into the season with Case Keenum and Colt McCoy running the show in the absence of Alex Smith. However, not only did Washington find their franchise signal-caller, they also got him one of his favorite weapons at Ohio State with Terry McLaurin in the third round, a 2017 Heisman finalist in Stanford’s Bryce Love who is joining an already strong running back room and two offensive linemen on day three in Indiana’s Wes Martin and Alabama’s Ross Pierschbacher to add depth to an O-line that always seems to be banged up.
Oh, and they grabbed my sixth-best wide receiver with the 206th freaking pick – Kelvin Harmon from N.C. State, who could be a starting wideout week one. Add to that the selection of Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat at 26th overall after trading back into the first round and a seventh-round steal in nickelback Jimmy Moreland from James Madison and these Redskins fans should be really happy with what their team did after some disturbing reports of how owner Dan Snyder was interested in “taking over the first round”.
Man, this Ravens offense will look completely different this season. Last year they started the season with Joe Flacco under center, Alex Collins in the backfield and Michael Crabtree as the number one receiver on the outside. That might have been the least dynamic trio in all of football – and I’m not saying those guys weren’t good players, but they just don’t scare anybody with speed or elusiveness.
Inserting former Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson into the starting lineup completely transformed that Baltimore offense, making them easily the most run-heavy and most productive rushing attack in the league. However, keeping up with that approach of letting Jackson run 15 to 20 times a game can’t be the long-term solution and this team needed to surround their QB with playmakers, as the only guy who really got the job done in big spots was Willie Snead in the slot. Therefore Eric DeCosta, who had an outstanding first draft in general, went into last weekend with the focus of adding speed to the field.
After trading back three spots in the first round, the Ravens got the biggest deep threat in the draft with Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown at 25. Then in the third round they added one of the best size/speed wideouts in Miles Boykin from Notre Dame and the most explosive running back in Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill with their final pick on day two.
They would go on to grab mauling guard in Oklahoma’s Ben Powers, who I thought was the sixth-best interior offensive linemen and with the 197th pick they selected Penn State signal-caller Trace McSorley, who certainly won’t be a threat to Jackson’s starting spot, but brings a winning mentality and can give Lamar a breather every once in a while. Moreover, you could see both those guys on the field at the same time occasionally.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams jumped all over the board and added some excellent value prospects. They started Thursday night with the 31st pick but traded back twice and didn’t make their selection until 61 when they grabbed my fifth-highest ranked safety in Washington’s Taylor Rapp, who should be a perfect fit in LA with his secure tackling skills and ability to run the alley.
With those moves they added two third-round selections and a fifth. However, they would exchange two picks in the late 90s to come back up in that third round to grab running back Darrell Henderson at 70th overall, who was a big-play machine at Memphis and can take some pressure off a banged-up Todd Gurley.
The next pick was Michigan cornerback David Long, who might not have the measurements NFL teams are looking for but has all the feistiness and physicality you could ever wish for. In another trade which was made possible by exchanging fourth and fifth-round picks with the Patriots, the Rams moved up four spots for their final day two selection to grab Oklahoma tackle Bobbie Evans, who I had right around that 100 range and could be the eventual replacement for veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth, while they also have Joseph Noteboom from last year’s draft.
The Rams would make one more trade with New England on Saturday, when they flipped two fifth-rounders they had already acquired to grab a shade nose tackle in Washington’s Greg Gaines, who will be a rock against the run for them and allow Aaron Donald and those guys to get upfield even more. With the fifth-rounder they had left they grabbed another developmental tackle in Wisconsin’s David Edwards, who I really am intrigued by, and in the seventh they got another guy in Texas Tech linebacker Dakota Allen, who I think could end up playing a major role for them. No team moved around more and some of those picks were excellent.
Other teams that had a good draft
Los Angeles Chargers