First Impressions on the NFL Draft
I’m starting to write this following the Titan’s selection of Isaiah Wilson with the 29th overall pick out of Georgia. There are still 3 picks left to be made, but I have some thoughts, and I’m exhausted and want to get to bed sooner rather than later. Here are my first impressions on some of the picks made tonight during the first round as well as thoughts on this new draft format overall and a look ahead to some Day 2 action. The Dolphins just went with Noah Igbinoghene out of Auburn. Let’s get to it.
Very few trades early
We didn’t see the first trade until the 13th pick and that was to allow the Patr- I mean Bucs to move up one whole pick to get Tristian Wirfs out of Iowa (which was a steal). There wasn’t another trade until the early 20s where the actual Patriots traded out of the first round (surprise, surprise) to allow the Chargers to make move up and grab Kenneth Murray which might end up being the steal of the draft. Seeing the entire top 10 stick to their picks shocked me, specifically the Giants and Lions.
Needle to the Cowboys
This was the floor for Ceedee who could have gone as early as 8th to the Cards. After watching Henry Ruggs of all people become the first receiver taken off the board at 12th, no one knew what to think. Many people thought he’d be the third receiver off the board so him going to Las Vegas automatically sent either Jerry Jeudy or Lamb to Dallas. Jeudy went 15th to the Broncos (another surprise to me) which left Jerry Jones with a choice: select Cesar Ruiz, go and get Kristian Fulton or make the splash play (which has been foreign to Jerry) and select Lamb. In the words of the Lonely Island, “Getcha towels ready, it’s about to go down”.
SEC dominated the draft
15 players. The SEC saw 15 players go off the board in the 1st-round, starting and finishing with LSU Tigers. Burrow started it with the 1st overall pick and Clyde Edwards-Helaire finished it being the first running back taken off the board at 32 to the Kansas City Chiefs. 5 LSU Tigers, 4 members of the Alabama Crimson Tide, 2 Georgia Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers, a Florida Gator, and a South Carolina Gamecock all heard their name’s called Thursday night. This shattered the record of the most players picked from a single conference in the 1st round, breaking the previous record of 12 held by the SEC from 2017 and the ACC from 2005.
Arizona starting tonight’s chaos
After seeing Carolina go with Derrick Brown at seven, I thought Isaiah Simmons was a lock for the Jags at nine. Arizona has an obligation to protect Kyler Murry, a diminutive quarterback who, if he gets hit too much, is bound to be injured. Instead, they decided to sure up their defense by taking Simmons out from under Shad Khan’s beautiful handlebar mustache. This forced Jacksonville to select C.J. Henderson out of Florida 9thoverall, which was his ceiling. Had they seen it coming earlier, they could’ve likely traded down with a team like Atlanta. This was the domino effect that saw players like Ceedee Lamb go to Dallas and the Raiders reaching for Damon Arnette one to two rounds early.
Packers securing Aaron Rodgers’ replacement
I tweeted it. I called it. “If Love doesn’t go 20th, he could fall out of the first round.”. This was the only place Love could fall past Jacksonville that made sense this late in the first round. 15 years ago, the Packers drafted a kid out of Cal to become the heir to Brett Favre’s throne and history repeated itself with almost the exact same pick. Love is a project and sitting behind one of the greatest of all time for a few years will do wonders for him just like it did for Rodgers. I can’t wait for the Pack to take some 8-year-old kid living in Austin 15 years from now in the first round to replace Love.
The AFC’s future is bright
The Bengals, Dolphins, and Chargers all picked up their quarterbacks for the future Thursday night. One is a for sure day one starter while Herbert will probably win the job no later than week 6. Depending on when teams can see their players will determine when Tua sees any real playing time. This draft has set up the AFC for pure dominance over the next 12-16 years. With names like Patrick Mahomes, Desean Watson, Lamar Jackson, and even Josh Allen just to name a few already in place, the young QB movement is evident. The last two old heads still kicking it in this division are Big Ben and Philip Rivers who is now with the Colts and their replacements could be announced Friday night sometime in rounds two and three. New England is in desperate need of a quarterback and if Belicheck is as committed to Jarrett Stidham as he claims to be, you might not see the Pats pick a signal called until day three if that. Do not be surprised if you see Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) also representing the AFC this time next year.
Moves to look for in Day 2
Round two might as well be an extension of the first round just due to all the players still available with first-round grades. I (of course) have some hot takes that could play out tomorrow, so bear with me. Look for D’Andre Swift to go as early as Detroit but no later than Houston in the second round. Guys like Jonathon Taylor and J.K Dobbins will be the next to go shortly after. A plethora of high-level secondary players could start coming off the board as early as Cincinnati. Yetur Gross-Matos is someone to look at the Patriots selecting with their first pick in the draft. I believe Tee Higgins is the favorite to be picked by Indy with the 34th pick. Things get interesting starting with Jacksonville at 42. You could possibly see a string of quarterbacks picked from 42 all the way 50 ending with the Bears. Chicago has two picks in this stretch and is obviously not sold on Trubisky. Guys like Hurts and possibly Fromm could be looked at here. The most intriguing pick in Pittsburgh. I believe Jacob Eason is the perfect replacement for Big Ben. Mason Rudolph just didn’t show me enough to warrant being “the guy” after Roethlisberger calls it quits and Eason is Big Ben Lite. Whether they pick him at 49 or go receiver and wait until the third round to pick him up, Eason’s fall ends with Pittsburgh.
I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for a day 2 of the NFL Draft in my life. I don’t know if it’s because I’m starting to do mock drafts, the talent still available, or a combination of both but I plan on keeping a close eye out tomorrow. I see some superstars who will now forever have a chip on their shoulders. This should be fun.