The first night of the 2019 NFL Draft is in the books. While there were some high moments, the opening night included a litany of teams staying in their original spots. The trading didn’t really begin until the Denver Broncos (No. 10 overall) elected to swap selections with the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 20 overall). With 10 defensive linemen in the top 20 selections, the identity of this draft class became apparent quickly. A defense-laden class overall, teams did not shy away from picking their choice from the bountiful crop.
Here’s my recap of the first round and a look ahead to day two:
1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
All of the rumors and speculation finally came to a close and the Cardinals elected to take the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. With Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, and David Johnson, Murray enters an enviable situation, but the team must continue to build up the offensive line in front of him in the tough NFC West. The previous connection between new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Murray helped make this selection easier. He now has his signal-caller under-center to engineer his Air Raid offense in the desert.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
A defense that set an NFL single season record for the fewest forced turnovers ever (7), pairing Bosa with Dee Ford gives the 49ers a formidable duo off of the edge combined with the interior of DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas. The former Buckeyes edge rusher can make an immediate impact on a defense that hasn’t had a consistent edge rusher since the glory days of Aldon Smith.
3. New York Jets: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The Jets pick the best player in the draft and pair him with Leonard Williams. The former leader of the Crimson Tide defensive front brings the type of disruption and dominance up the middle that the team has been sorely lacking. He’s a terrific fit in Gregg Williams’ aggressive and penetrating style of defense due to his relentless nature and effectiveness with his hands.
4. Oakland Raiders: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
A franchise that had a league-low 13 sacks a year ago, the Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden tenure elect to take Ferrell. Coming as a huge surprise to most, he was an overshadowed prospect in this talented edge rusher class. After nursing a toe injury, Ferrell was unable to participate in the Scouting Combine and Clemson’s Pro Day. He steps in right away to help out the league’s worst scoring defense last season (29.2 points per game allowed).
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White, LB, LSU
One of the easiest picks to project prior to the start of the draft was White to the Buccaneers at the 5th overall slot. Losing Kwon Alexander via free agency left a large void in the middle of the team’s defense. White brings an immediate presence and leadership to the heart of Todd Bowles’s defense. A team that plays against Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan twice a year will need the type of threat that White brings at the epicenter.
6. New York Giants: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
The Giants’ love for Jones wasn’t a secret. That’s why Dave Gettleman was comfortable selecting him much earlier than anticipated. A similar demeanor and playing style to Eli Manning, the franchise decides to make him the heir apparent to the former two-time Super Bowl champion, who’s entering the final year of his contract. Jones fits Pat Shurmur’s short-to-intermediate attacking style of offense perfectly, and he’s a thrower that will need adequate surrounding parts. The supporting cast in the Big Apple provides that with Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard on the perimeter.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
After dealing away Dante Fowler Jr. last season, the team suddenly needed another edge rusher. The Jaguars make the easy decision of taking the best player available in Allen. The reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year provides another ferocious presence off of the edge. His versatility to stand up or put his hand in the dirt enables him to play right away. Adding him into the mix with Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Marcell Dareus, Abry Jones, and Taven Bryan gives the team a solid rotation moving forward.
8. Detroit Lions: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Many were skeptical of this pick prior to the draft because of the franchise taking a tight end in the top 10 (Eric Ebron) in 2014, but the team felt no ill will, and it is vital to evaluate each prospect separately. Hockenson is a safe player who provides value in two areas, as a pass catcher and as a tenacious in-line run blocker. Being that he can be a contributor in multiple facets, the team was fully comfortable taking him with the No. 8 overall pick. The reigning John Mackey Award winner adds to a position on the depth chart that’s bare.
9. Buffalo Bills: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
The Bills add more speed and explosiveness to their defense by selecting Oliver. A true penetrating presence on the interior of Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier’s defense, he brings an explosive dynamic that the defense doesn’t have currently on the depth chart. Adding more speed to the first level of the group was essential, and Oliver adds to that area and much more. A home-run pick for a team that continues to build a competitive roster, especially in the trenches, on both sides of the ball.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
The Steelers trade picks No. 20, 52, and a 2020 third-round selection in order to trade up to secure the new leader in the middle of their defense. With Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield on the upswing in the division, the Steelers needed a centerpiece in order to engineer the operation and keep up in the AFC North. Bush brings a sideline-to-sideline type of threat that has sorely been lacking since Ryan Shazier suffered his catastrophic injury. Now with Bush’s presence, the franchise has a key cog in the middle.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Seeing that replenishing the offensive line talent was of the utmost importance, the Bengals elect to not select a quarterback at this spot. They go with a high floor and high ceiling type of prospect in Williams. After selecting Billy Price in the first round a year ago, they continue to build up the offensive front by taking the former Alabama offensive tackle. Depending on the decision with Cordy Glenn at left tackle, Williams has the ability to become entrenched as the starter at either of the tackle spots to provide protection for Andy Dalton right away.
12. Green Bay Packers: Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan
There are plenty of mixed opinions on the draft status of Gary, but most agreed that he would become a top-15 selection. With his traits and flashes of dominance in spurts, the Packers didn’t let him fall past their selection at No. 12 overall. Adding Gary to Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, and the newest additions of Preston and Za’Darius Smith, provides a potentially very good rotation if Green Bay can somehow find a way to get the most out of Gary going forward.
13. Miami Dolphins: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
The Dolphins didn’t address the trenches on either side of the ball in last year’s draft, but that quickly changed with the first selection of this year’s edition. A head coach in Brian Flores that has a defensive background with a team that’s in full-on rebuild mode, getting the former Tigers leader is an ideal fit and selection at this spot. Wilkins brings athleticism and value at multiple spots along the interior. He’s a prospect who has been a culture changer at every stop that he’s been exposed to.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College
The first of two first-round selections, Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff wanted to address the offensive line. Despite signing Jamon Brown and James Carpenter this offseason, the team still opts to upgrade immediately at both spots. Lindstrom will be pegged immediately at either guard spot, and one of the two free agency additions will be left as a depth swing piece as the next man off of the sideline.
15. Washington Redskins: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Colt McCoy and Case Keenum aren’t the long-term solution in the nation’s capital. After rumors surfaced that the team wanted to trade up in order to secure their signal-caller, their patience paid off and Haskins fell into their lap. Getting arguably the best quarterback in the draft at their original draft slot without having to surrender any extra draft capital is a huge win for the Redskins. After a dark cloud hung over the team following the devastating injury to Alex Smith, they now have their quarterback of the future in Haskins, who may just be scratching the surface of his ceiling after starting only 14 games at Ohio State.
16. Carolina Panthers: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
A team that has been starved for pass rushing help was faced with the task of replacing the best edge rusher in team history in Julius Peppers. Burns provides the immediate upside as an edge rusher on the perimeter. His ceiling as a pass rusher in unmatched in this class. For a team that’s needed that type of presence coming off of the edge, this is a team-prospect match that makes a lot of sense.
17. New York Giants: Dexter Lawrence, NT, Clemson
With their second of three picks in the first-round, Gettleman opts to select Lawrence. The definition of the “hog molly” term that the general manager loves to express, at 6’6″ and 340 pounds, he is the living example of that up the middle of the team’s defense. Known as a vertical pocket pusher and an above average run stuffer, he provides a large presence. The biggest questions surrounding Lawrence will be the value that he brings to the table on late-down situations.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Garrett Bradbury, Center, N.C. State
Offensive line was the clear position of need, and after signing Kirk Cousins, it was paramount that the team continue to provide protection for him. Bradbury is an immediate plug-and-play option at the heartbeat of the Vikings’ offensive line. Likely sliding Pat Elflein to left guard, the team now has their top five blockers at the top of the depth chart in place. The Vikings are a team that employs a predominantly zone-based scheme, which is an area in which Bradbury excelled at N.C. State. The transition for Bradbury should be seamless.
19. Tennessee Titans: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Many were unsure about where Simmons would fall following the ACL tear while training for the Combine. That, combined with a sketchy off-the-field past prior to his time at Mississippi State, wasn’t enough to scare the Titans away from drafting him. A prospect who some saw as a near-elite talent didn’t fall outside of the top 20. The Titans are a team in need of players that can generate penetration, and Simmons will be able to provide that once he returns from his injury. Pairing him with Jurrell Casey gives Mike Vrabel’s defense a rock solid interior.
20.Denver Broncos: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
The Broncos get really good value with selecting Fant with the No. 20 overall selection. An offense that lacked a versatile weapon at tight end certainly gets one in Fant. Jeff Heuerman, Jake Butt, and Troy Fumagalli are the only players currently manning this spot on the depth chart. Fant walks into an ideal situation where he could potentially become an immediate starter.
21.Green Bay Packers (via SEA): Darnell Savage, S, Maryland
Trading the No. 30, 114, and 118 overall selections, the Packers paid a relatively cheap price in order to move up from their original spot. Selecting Savage continues to build depth in the secondary after selecting Jaire Alexander in the first round a season ago and adding Adrian Amos during free agency. Savage is a jack-of-all trades type of threat that fulfills multiple positions. His versatility only adds to the now talent-rich secondary in Green Bay.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (via BAL): Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
The Eagles trade up ahead of the Texans, another team that was in search of an offensive tackle, in order to select the talented left tackle from Washington State. Dillard provides an immediate heir apparent to Jason Peters as the best pass protecting offensive tackle of this draft class. The best aspect about this pick is that he’s not forced to play right away. For a player that needs to continue to add strength in order to improve on his consistency as a run blocker, being under the tutelage of Peters and Lane Johnson is a perfect environment.
23. Houston Texans: Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State
Surrendering a league-leading 62 sacks a season ago, the Texans needed to address many spots along their offensive front. Howard goes a bit earlier than most expected, but he gets a chance to step in right away to be a contributor to a unit that is starving for talent to protect Deshaun Watson. Entering a sort of sink-or-swim type of environment, he will be forced to develop very quickly on a team that doesn’t have much talent up front.
24. Oakland Raiders (via CHI): Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
A prospect-team fit that many projected for months leading up to the draft was placing Jacobs in the Silver and Black. With Marshawn Lynch officially hanging up his cleats and Isaiah Crowell being the only serviceable option behind quarterback Derek Carr, Jacobs gets a chance to capitalize on a prime opportunity to step in right away and contribute immediately.
25.Baltimore Ravens: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Despite the Lisfranc injury to his foot that kept him from performing at the Combine, Hollywood Brown still maintained his first-round billing. Providing Lamar Jackson with as many weapons as possible was seen as essential. A heavy run-oriented offense, teams chose to stack the box against the Ravens last season. Now with Brown in the fold, it will be difficult to do that because of the vertical speed factor that he brings to the table. An explosive playmaker with video game-like afterburners, Brown provides a totally different dynamic that forces defenses into a bind.
26.Washington Redskins (via IND): Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Surrendering a 2020 second-round selection, the Redskins trade back into the first-round. After selecting Dwayne Haskins with the No. 15 overall pick, they opt to transition to the other side of the ball with Sweat. Running a 4.41 at 6’5″ and 260, the former SEC edge rusher is a freak athlete that moves very fluidly. The natural pass rusher that the team needed to fill the void that Preston Smith left behind after leaving via free agency, Sweat gives the team that high upside rusher that they have been searching for.
27.Oakland Raiders (via DAL): Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
Mike Mayock continues to build up Gruden’s roster with toughness and attitude. Selecting Abram brings that tone-setting option who always seems to play with an edge. The former leader of the Bulldogs’ defense brings a certain type of physicality and leadership to the back-end of the Raiders’ defense. The Raiders will no longer lack an identity in their secondary with Abram at strong safety.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
With Brandon Mebane set to turn 34 next season, Tillery is a young option to place alongside Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, and Justin Jones along the interior defensive line. A high upside prospect, Tillery battled through a torn labrum during the back stretch of last season, but if he displays the consistency that he showed earlier in the year, he could prove to be a steal at this spot.
29.Seattle Seahawks (via KC): L.J. Collier, EDGE, TCU
There are plenty of mixed opinions about the early seelction of Collier, but after trading Frank Clark, there was a need off of the edge. All of the top-end talent was already selected, and the Seahawks went with a mature player that has a well-rounded skillset. Known for his heavy hands and stout ability at the point of attack, Collier will be able to play right away, but there may be a bit of an adjustment period for him. He’s known as a rusher that may not always finish home with sacks, but he’s consistently been able to generate pressure throughout his career.
30.New York Giants (via SEA): Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
This was the first time in franchise history that the team made three selections in the first round after they traded back into it. Dave Gettleman ends the night by selecting the reigning Jim Thorpe Award winner in Baker. Needing help in the secondary after parting ways with Eli Apple, he brings a potential shutdown option to a team still searching for a young and reliable corner on the outside. Baker provides an immediate boost.
31.Atlanta Falcons via (LAR): Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
After drafting Chris Lindstrom with the No. 14 overall pick, the Falcons continue to build up their offensive line by picking McGary. One of the best background stories of any prospect in this class, it was a surreal moment for him. Now facing the task of coming in right away and expecting to compete with Ty Sambrailo, he walks into a situation where he could be a day one starter as a rookie following a competitive training camp battle.
32.New England Patriots: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
The Super Bowl champions end the night selecting the multi-purpose receiver in Harry, who brings an added dynamic in many areas outside of just being a pass catcher. Being in an offense that puts an emphasis on placing players in the most desirable spots, he will be a fantastic fit with Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady. With his struggles to separate, there may be ways that the offensive scheme can manipulate him open and manufacture him some easy touches on the perimeter.
Best of the Rest:
- D.K. Metcalf
- Greedy Williams
- Jawaan Taylor
- Deebo Samuel
- Drew Lock
- Cody Ford
- A.J. Brown
- Dalton Risner
- Rock Ya-Sin
For more NFL Draft news and analysis, follow Jordan on Twitter @JReidNFL