Day one of the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, and it was a first round full of surprises. With 8 trades in the first round and 6 offensive linemen off the board in the first 32 picks we now have a much better idea of what teams are prioritizing and what their strategies are for building the futures of their franchises—and in other instances, we have less of an idea.
Now that the dust from the first round of 2018 is beginning to settle, it’s time to analyze and reflect on how teams made the draft work for them or how they got worked. Here are my grades for the first rounds of the teams from the NFC West.
LA Rams — (No picks)
Okay, we get it, Jared Goff is your guy and you want to give him weapons, but trading out of the first round all together for the sake of bringing in Brandin Cooks seems like overkill. Even more dubious when you watch so many teams reinforcing their offensive lines in this draft, and consider that the Rams could have traded back pretty far in the first round and still had their choice of wide receivers (D.J. Moore was the first WR off the board at 25 to Carolina).
Cooks is a great athlete and a great acquisition for the Rams, but they’ve sacrificed a lot to acquire a young man who has been underwhelming at times, catching balls from Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Congratulations, Rams — you played yourselves.
Seattle Seahawks — (27th Overall: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State)
Once again, the NFL GMs and talent scouts leave everybody scratching their heads. Sure, the ‘Hawks need a new feature back, but there are much more urgent needs in Seattle and there were much higher ranked running back options available like Derrius Guice, Ronald Jones II or Nick Chubb.
In one sense, you’ve got to give the Seahawks credit for believing in their guy and sticking to their strategy, but in absolutely every other sense, this pick makes none. The Legion of Boom is no more and the Seattle defense is eroding from week to week and this pick does nothing to help salvage what used to be the identity of this franchise, nor does it do anything to improve their offensive line which has been a problem in recent years and will severely affect Penny’s ability to make an impact in his rookie season. All for the sake of adding a running back who might have still been available deep in the second round.
San Francisco 49ers — (9th Overall: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame)
If you’re going to pay Jimmy Garappolo like he’s Aaron Rodgers, you better invest in protecting him like he’s Aaron Rodgers. There are still some questions about Jimmy G’s ability to sustain the success he had last season over the course of a whole year and I would have preferred them to go defensive with this pick, but given how busy the first round was for offensive linemen, it’s really hard to argue with the 9ers nabbing the best tackle on the board in the top 10.
I really like the decision to invest in reinforcing that offensive line, but I think that passing on players like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Tremaine Edmunds may be something that the 9ers regret. Nonetheless, it’s a wise—if unexciting—strategy, protect your quarterback of the future. It seems almost too simple.
Arizona Cardinals—(10th Overall, from Raiders: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA)
It didn’t take long for analysts to proclaim that UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen was falling down the board. The Cardinals must have also seen an opportunity, as they traded up to nab him 10th overall. Experts seem torn on whether Rosen or Sam Darnold is the most ready to start in the NFL right away, but if Sam Bradford remains healthy through preseason, Rosen may not have to prove his NFL readiness any time soon.
I have doubts about the culture fit of a self-proclaimed loud-mouth like Rosen in a market like Arizona—especially when they could have comfortably landed Lamar Jackson much later in the first who I believe would be a better locker-room fit without sacrificing two of their middle round picks to land him. The Cardinals feel that they’ve added a better QB than Jackson will be, and at this point and I have no evidence that they’re wrong.