From Kyler Murray to Caleb Wilson, the 2019 NFL Draft weekend was action packed with exciting selections and mind-numbing decisions. After taking some time to process all 256 picks, I’ve come up with my list of the best from each round.
Every team’s war room comes out of the NFL Draft thinking that they nailed the draft, but the fans usually have mixed review. We see celebrations, anguish, and confusion in the eyes of those loyal to their favorite franchise. I took the liberty to give my thoughts on which selections in each round were the best. Here is that list:
1st Round (16)– Brian Burns, EDGE Carolina Panthers
An ideal draft selection is one where you can combine both need and value. Carolina did just that when they selected Burns at 16. Arguably the top pure pass rusher in the class, Burns’ ability to corner and dip is nothing short of elite, and he’s the explosive presence off the end that Ron Rivera’s defense has been sorely lacking. Let’s face it, a duo of Mario Addison and Bruce Irvin isn’t scaring anyone. There’s some weight and run stopping issues that likely caused teams to shy away from the Seminole product, but this is a freak athlete with natural double-digit sack potential. In a league putting more and more priority on producing pressure, this is about as easy as a pick gets.
1st Round (9)- Ed Oliver, DL Buffalo Bills
Similar to Carolina, Buffalo also stayed patient and landed a defender with star potential in Ed Oliver. Able to slide into the interior rotation with Harrison Phillips and Star Lotulelei right away, Oliver more than fills the hole Kyle Williams created with his retirement. He can get rerouted too often and needs to become a better defender against the run, but this is a pure freak of nature with mind-blowing traits. That type of talent falling into the Bills lap makes them a clear draft winner.
2nd Round (62)– Josh Rosen, QB Miami Dolphins
Okay, this isn’t technically a “selection,” but Miami got the steal of the draft in Josh Rosen. He didn’t have the most stellar of rookie seasons, and I know that’s putting it mildly. However, this is a former Top 10 pick, just twelve games removed from being a blue-chip prospect. He showed enough promising flashes around a dreadful supporting cast last year to make this to a worthwhile investment for the Dolphins. After trading their original 2nd Round pick for the 62nd selection and a 2020 2nd Rounder, they potentially just got a Franchise QB for a simple delay of a pick. In the end, the reward far outweighs the risk. If you have a problem with this move, I have a problem with you.
2nd Round (64)– D.K. Metcalf, WR Seattle Seahawks
Imagine having a superhero draft and letting the Incredible Hulk fall to 64. That’s the equivalent of the type of value Seattle got in D.K. Metcalf. Like with Hulk’s unpredictability and anger issues, Metcalf doesn’t come without his problems, even if they are mostly overblown. He ran a limited route-tree, produced relatively average collegiate numbers, and put up inferior agility testing times. However, the Ole Miss product is too dominant on tape and athletically to make those concerns worry me. We haven’t seen a freak specimen in Metcalf’s mold quite possibly ever. He might be the only WR in this class with legitimate WR1 potential. He was a Top 10 talent on my big board, and the Seahawks were able to scoop him after not 1, not 2, not 3, but seven wideouts came off the board. Incredible.
3rd Round (76)– Terry McLaurin, WR Washington Redskins
Dan Snyder and company may have had the strongest draft of any club. McLaurin is a big reason as to why. Forget the instant chemistry and security he’ll provide his former collegiate QB in Dwayne Haskins. He is a technician with scary speed and supreme nuance. McLaurin carved up the competition at this year’s Senior Bowl. Josh Doctson hasn’t developed as Washington has hoped, and Jamison Crowder bolted for New York in free agency, which makes McLaurin a prime candidate to be an immediate starter. Throw in his superb blocking and special teams skills, and this is a home run selection.
3rd Round (77)– Chase Winovich, EDGE New England Patriots
A player with high effort who is an underrated athlete and was drafted by the New England Patriots at a terrific value. I’ve never heard that one before. Rashan Gary may have been the more well known Wolverine rusher, but it was Chase Winovich who was the superior collegiate player. An intense competitor with elite hustle, Winovich is a refined end with polished hand usage and solid bend. He may be more limited than some of the premier talents in the class, but to find a player of his caliber in Round 3 is extremely impressive. With Tre Flowers leaving in free agency, Winovich joins a versatile group of defensive lineman including Michael Bennett, and Deatrich Wise. A role similar to the one Rob Ninkovich had would be ideal.
4th Round (103)– Hakeem Butler, WR Arizona Cardinals
The first pick of round 4 may have just been the best one. Similar to Metcalf, I have a hard time understanding Hakeem Butler’s fall. He’s a raw route-runner who needs extreme work on technique and releases, but the athleticism and tape show a pure game-breaker with massive upside. He answered speed concerns with his testing, exhibited eye-popping yards-after-catch ability throughout the film, and displayed sublime fluidity and agility at the combine. And yet, for some odd reason, Butler still fell on draft day. Thankfully for Arizona, they will be the ones to reap the reward. Able to learn behind one of the most polished wideouts of all time in Larry Fitzgerald, Butler can gain some much-needed development while competing for a day one role in the Cardinals’ wide open WR corps. This was a big win for both sides.
4th Round (105)– Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DB New Orleans Saints
I need someone to explain Chauncey Gardner-Johnson falling as far as he did like I’m five years old. The Florida product checked seemingly every box and tremendously improved his tape throughout this past season. I’d go as far to say no prospect had a more impressive jump from 2017 to 2018 film. His tackling technique continues to need work, but Gardner-Johnson was one of the few defenders in this class with legit single high potential. In an ever growing passing league, his slot and nickel ability are both significant. A perfect scheme fit in New Orleans given their plethora of three safety looks, he can slide right in as a key contributor.
5th Round (139)– Deionte Thompson, DB Arizona Cardinals
Besides completely butchering Josh Rosen’s trade value, the Cardinals destroyed draft weekend, and Deionte Thompson is a prime example of just that. Before putting forth abysmal performances in this year’s College Football Playoff, Thompson was a player being talked about as a top ten pick. While his aggressive tendencies and lack of long speed hurt his stock drastically, there was still absolutely no reason for the Alabama product to fall as far as he did. Yes, he was injured and unable to perform at the Combine or his pro-day. Yes, the sour end to his career rubbed some folks the wrong way. But, this is a talented playmaker with insane range. The last time an opportunistic Alabama safety fell to round 5, it worked out pretty well for the Chicago Bears. Now I’m not saying that will be the case in this scenario, but I’m also not saying it won’t.
5th Round (149)– Hunter Renfrow, WR Oakland Raiders
This pick may not be a “steal” on the surface, but the more you look into it, the better the Hunter Renfrow selection for Oakland becomes. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have repeatedly stated that character and leadership are among the most important qualities they’re looking for. Perhaps no player in the entire class exemplifies that more than Renfrow. The fit is also perfect because Derek Carr excels throwing underneath, an area Renfrow specializes in. With his polish and high-end route-running skills, look for Renfrow to make an immediate impact as a “chain mover” type presence.
6th Round (206)– Kelvin Harmon, WR Washington Redskins
With the likes of Will Fuller, John Ross, and now Marquise Brown being first-round selections, it’s no secret that the NFL values speed. Unfortunately, with a 4.62 40 yard-dash and legitimate separation concerns on his tape, Kelvin Harmon doesn’t fit that bill. However, we’re talking about a physical, imposing pass catcher with superb technique that possesses starting potential. Two hundred five picks shouldn’t be made before him. Enough said.
6th Round (184)– Travis Fulgham, WR Detroit Lions
People may have been surprised when the Lions pulled the trigger on a relatively unknown Old Dominion pass catcher when they did. However, if you’ve watched his tape, you know just how solid a value they’re getting. A lean and agile outside weapon, Fulgham was extremely impressive at this year’s Senior Bowl. About as well rounded as you can get, he combines excellent blocking skills with some fantastic body control. Ironically, his ceiling is comparable to his new teammate Marvin Jones, and Fulgham’s traits allow him to be a superb fourth or fifth receiver to begin his career. That’s well worth a sixth-round selection.
7th Round (227)– Jimmy Moreland, CB Washington Redskins
We continue this list with another Washington pick, and another Senior Bowl stand out. Jimmy Moreland is small. It’s why he was picked in the 7th Round, and it’s why he’s been consistently overlooked. But dang, the guy can play. I love corners with swagger, and Moreland has it in spades. Whether it be trash talking or feistiness, the James Madison product oozes confidence on a routine basis. It’s that personality that will hopefully lend itself to a productive and successful NFL career.
One of the few defenders able to go toe to toe with the likes of Renfrow and Deebo Samuel in Mobile, his quick twitch and superb fluidity makes him an ideal next level slot corner. By round seven, teams are usually just throwing darts at the board, hoping a few may stick. His height limits his ceiling (literally and figuratively), but Moreland is one dart well worth throwing.
7th Round (217)– Kris Boyd, CB Minnesota Vikings
Sometimes a great selection isn’t about where you had a player ranked, but more about how his traits blend with the organization he’s going to. This proves true with Kris Boyd and the Vikings. A seventh-rounder on my final board, it’s clear Boyd is far from a top prospect. Getting demolished by McLaurin throughout Senior Bowl week, the former Longhorn is a technical mess. He also can’t make a play on a ball in the air to save his life. However, he’s got the prototypical size, freakish athleticism, and put together a remarkable 2017 campaign. Massive development is needed, but getting drafted by Minnesota is a giant step in the right direction. Mike Zimmer is arguably the best defensive backs coach in the league, and Boyd has starter level traits. In a seventh-round void of a lot of great selections, this gamble is a great one.
Whether it be value, need, or fit, many factors go into a great selection. Ultimately the picks highlighted above seem to fill at least one of those aspects, which is why they were chosen as such. The draft may be a lottery, and those lottery results may not become available for another few years, but hopefully, some of these blurbs give you a brief look into that potential winning ticket.