The 2018 NFL Draft is officially in the books. After three exciting days of drafting, trades, and team building it is now time to evaluate and discuss the highs and lows of the weekend. In other words, the winners and losers of the draft. For now, the jury is still out on each and every pick. Until draft selections start competing in training camp, preseason, and most importantly regular season action we really wont know for sure who the real winners and losers of this draft will be. We wont get an honest assessment until later this fall.
For now, on the surface, we are going to take a closer look at teams that made selections that upgraded the value of their rosters. We are also going to take a look at some teams that might have left us scratching our heads. Here are my Top 5 Winners and Top 5 Losers of the 2018 NFL Draft. In addition, I have included a write-up of the San Francisco 49ers draft.
San Francisco 49ers:
I did not include the 49ers in my top winners or bottom losers of this year’s draft. Overall, I thought the majority of the 49ers picks addressed needs and will hopefully make the team better moving forward. I happened to really like the Mike McGlinchey pick. When you invest 137.5 million dollars in a quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo) you better protect him. The 49ers did just that by grabbing the best tackle prospect in the draft. Jimmy G gets protection and the 49ers get a right tackle who fits what Kyle Shanahan desires. The hope is that McGlinchey makes the switch to left tackle once Joe Staley calls it a career. Dante Pettis is a home run threat and comes with great value as a receiver who can lineup in the slot and on the outside. He was perhaps the most dangerous and successful punt returner with nine touchdowns last year. His size is a little concerning though. One of my favorite picks was Fred Warner, the linebacker out of BYU. Tarvarius Moore was drafted to play cornerback, and we will see if that actually happens. I’m skeptical about it. My least favorite pick by far was defensive end Kentavius Street. Street tore his ACL a few weeks ago at his pro day. Pre-Injury he was drafted right where he should be. However, by the time he sees any sort of practice time let alone game action, we will already be discussing next year’s draft selections. The 49ers have had a horrible history of drafting players with injuries like this, and to be honest, with all due respect to John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan this one was just a head scratcher. Especially with the talent still on the board. Cornerback D.J. Reed in the fifth round was great, and even though he is undersized for what the team seeks, he will be a great fit to cover the slot. He is also a dangerous kickoff return specialist. Another head scratcher in my opinion was safety Marcell Harris who missed all of last season with a torn achilles. Again, even with a new regime in place this team has a troubling pattern of selecting players with injuries. Julian Taylor was a depth pick on the defensive line and the 49ers ended with a bang selecting receiver Richie James. According to many analysis he slipped and it looks like the 49ers got great value out of him in the 7th round. Overall, I trust that Lynch and Shanahan know who fits their system a whole lot better than anyone else. This was a good draft for the 49ers. I just wouldn’t put them in the top 5 winners overall.
Top 5 Winners
General Manager David Gettleman was a winner within the first ten minutes of day one when he selected the best player in the draft, running back Saquon Barkley. While taking a running back at two is risky, Barkley is worth that risk, and will instantly make the Giants a better team. His abilities as both a runner and receiver are going to give defensive coordinators fits. This was a no brainer of a selection. However, Gettleman didn’t stop there…He drafted guard Will Hernandez in the second round, pass rusher Lorenzo Carter and defensive lineman B.J. Hill in the third round and Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta in the fourth round. Lauletta was such a great value pick and could be the future franchise quarterback for the Giants. His pro comparison is Jimmy Garoppolo. Overall, this draft was a successful one for the Giants and while I can’t predict they will win the division next season, I am confident they will not be in the cellar.
The rich get richer, don’t they? Nothing like having 3 first round pas rushers lining up along the defensive line. John Elway must have been one happy camper when Bradley Chubb fell into his lap. Chubb is by far the best pass rusher in this draft and one of the best overall defensive players. There have been rumblings that Denver may not be keeping both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Whether or not that is the case, the team made a great selection drafting who I think is the best wide receiver in this draft class, Courtland Sutton who somehow slipped to the second round. Elway kept the strong momentum going in the third round selecting running back Royce Freeman. A strong, bruising back from Oregon who will replace the recently cut C.J. Anderson. Isaac Yiadom was added at the end of the third round for cornerback depth. A smart move after trading Aqib Talib. The Broncos may have a home run threat in day three selection receiver DaeSean Hamilton as well as linebacker Josey Jewell. Overall, The Broncos came out of this draft with a roster getting awfully close to the one that won a Super Bowl 3 short years ago.
Specifically, Andrew Luck…the biggest winner. No really, he must have been jumping up and down like a kid in a candy store when general manager Chris Ballard doubled up on guards in the first two rounds of the draft. Andrew Luck is the heart and soul of that team and keeping him healthy and upright is the highest priority. Not only did Indy hit a home run with their first pick, they might have drafted the highest graded player in Quenton Nelson. Nelson is probably the best guard prospect in the last ten years. Indy added another highly ranked guard in Braden Smith. Luck should see more clean pockets moving forward and he is as dangerous as any passer when he has time. Indy also had one of the worst linebacking depth charts entering the draft and selected Darius Leonard. Indy also addressed a glaring need at the pass rushing position selecting Kemoko Turay out of Rutgers and Tyquan Lewis. Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins are good value picks in the fourth and fifth rounds and should provide depth with Marlon Mack in the backfield. Luck also got some weapons in receivers Daurice Fountain and Deon Cain out of Clemson. It was a big weekend for the Colts and perhaps even bigger for Andrew Luck who gets big time protection with a pair of guards and more weapons with a pair of wide receivers.
First, a shout out to Ozzie Newsome who will go down as one of the best general managers in NFL history. Ozzie had a great first night, trading down and then selecting the highest graded tight end in Hyaden Hurst out of South Carolina. The Ravens then ended night one with a bang trading back into the final spot and selecting quarterback Lamar Jackson. It seemed like everyone (Except Joe Flaco) loved that pick. Jackson landed in a great situation in Baltimore and will become their quarterback of the future. Baltimore beefed up their offensive line taking Orlando Brown who saw his stock drop after a poor workout at the combine. Ozzie continued to get Flaco and eventually Jackson targets with the selection of tight end Mark Andrews. Hurst and Andrews are probably the best two tight ends in the draft. Defense took over from here, and it wouldn’t be an Ozzie draft without selecting an Alabama prospect and this time it was cornerback Anthony Averett in the fourth round. He also added linebacker Kenny Young and wide receiver Jaleel Scott. The receiver theme continued in the fifth with the selection of Jordan Lasley. For a team who had one of the worst set of receivers these selections could improve those rankings. Overall, Ozzie gave the Ravens one last great draft.
All the talk leading up to the draft was that the Packers needed to improve the secondary. They did just that drafting two of three best cornerbacks in Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson. They selected Alexander after trading back and gaining draft capital. The Packers secondary went from question marks to significantly improved. The defense continued to improve with the selection of linebacker Oren Burks. With the departure of Jordy Nelson wide receiver was addressed with J’Mon Moore. Aaron Rodgers also gets protection with tackle Cole Madison who I thought was good value in the fifth round. One of the best punters JK Scott and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling closed out the fifth round. One of my favorite selections on day three was Equanimeous St. Brown the wide receiver out of Notre Dame. Overall, it was a strong first draft for general manager Brian Gutekunst.
Top 5 Losers
To start things off, the Chiefs did not have a first round selection this year. That pick was packaged last year in order to move up for quarterback Patrick Mahomes. That decision still puzzles me. We shall see how Mahomes turns out. Kansas City badly reached for Breeland Speaks in the second round, and continued the defensive line trend in the third with the selection of Derrick Nnadi. The questionable selections continued with Dorian O’ Daniel. The Clemson product is small for the position and doesn’t seem to be a threat to start anytime soon. What was most confusing to me was after trading Marcus Peters the Chiefs didn’t address the cornerback position until they selected Tremon Smith in the sixth round. Overall, it was a confusing and questionable draft for the Chiefs who will enter next season with a rookie quarterback.
Well, the Faithful might like seeing this team in the losers, but honestly they earned it. Their weekend began selecting Rashaad Penny 27th overall. To say this was a reach is an understatement. This was a ridiculous reach, especially with players like Will Hernandez and Connor Williams still on the board. I understand the Seahawks needed a running back, and even if they wanted to select one in the first I could think of four backs they could have taken before Penny. Once again, the Seahawks went two straight days without selecting an offensive lineman. I suppose they like Russell Wilson playing the game, “Run For Your Life”. I will give them points for the Shaquem Griffin selection. I would have loved to have had him in red and gold. Seattle didn’t address the offensive line till late in the fifth with the selection of Jamarco Jones. Somehow, someway they went the entire draft without selecting a cornerback. They also lost receiver Paul Richardson in free agency and did not draft a single receiver. Crazy!
The Jets gave up A LOT for Sam Darnold, and so be it…You do what you have to do to get your quarterback of the future. I hope he works out for them. What I didn’t like about the Jets was everything that followed. After trading both 2nd round picks in the Darnold trade with the Colts, you would think a team who struggled offensively would start getting their new franchise quarterback some help. Instead, they addressed the defensive line, which I thought was a strength of theirs last year. In fact, the only offensive players they drafted were running back Trenton Cannon and tight end Christopher Herndon. No receivers…no offensive lineman…and a rookie quarterback who threw a ton of interceptions last year…good luck gang green!
Only the Cleveland Browns could have pulled this off with the draft capital they had in their possession. Baker Mayfield over Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen. Denzel Ward over Bradley Chubb. Austin Corbett over Will Hernandez. I honestly was scratching my head with their first three picks. I like Nick Chubb but don’t love him, and let’s not forget he had a gruesome knee injury that almost derailed his football career. Chubb was not asked to be a workhorse after that and shared the backfield with Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift at Georgia. We shall see if Mayfield makes me eat my words, but overall I felt that even with so many premium high picks, Cleveland left far better talent on the board. The veterans they traded and signed in the offseason will most likely prevent another 0-16 debacle, but how improved this team will be will be interesting to watch in 2018.
Did the 49ers really select the top player remaining on Oakland’s board? If so, two things to keep in mind. One, that coin toss in February was a BIG DEAL. Two, with the 49ers selecting Mike McGlinchey it knocks the Raiders’ first night off the rails. The Raiders did trade back, but then reached for tackle Kolton Miller who was at best a fringe first round pick. The reach for picks continued in the second round when they picked defensive lineman P.J. Hall. The Raiders got great value for Arden Key who’s on the field play warrants a first round selection. However, the Raiders will be holding their breath hoping Key stays out of trouble off the field. The Raiders waited till day 3 to address cornerback, a position they need to significantly upgrade. Their best pick in the draft came in the fifth round with Maurice Hurst who kept sliding and sliding. Overall, I thought it was a draft of missed opportunities and one too many reaches for the Raiders.
Who are YOUR biggest winners and losers of the NFL Draft? What are your thoughts on the 49ers selections? Please share in the comments below!