The first round of the NFL Draft is in the books and the only guarantee was that Roger Goodell was going to get booed. Other than that every mock was busted by the time the top five played out. It was a lot of fun and featured a slew of trades that kept fans and media on their toes.
Some teams came away with pieces that could go a long way towards winning a title. Some teams, meanwhile, made some moves that at the moment seem perplexing. Here are some of the winners and losers of the first round.
WINNER – CHRIS BALLARD
The Colts are winners but more importantly so is their GM. Ballard took over after the disastrous Ryan Grigson administration. He dodged a bullet when Josh McDaniels bailed on him and he ended up with Eagles OC Frank Reich.
He didn’t need a quarterback so he acquired a ton of picks from the Jets to move from third overall to sixth. They need all the picks they can get because the Grigson rein squandered every pick that wasn’t Andrew Luck or T.Y. Hilton.
The Colts were able to snag Quenton Nelson who is not only a once in a generation guard but someone who instantly changes the culture of the offensive line. He’s a mauler and someone who will keep Luck upright.
WINNER – FIRST ROUND RUNNING BACKS
Saquon Barkley was the only running back guaranteed to go in the first round. The Seahawks surprised everyone by eschewing positions of need in order to take Rashaad Penny out of San Diego St. It was a weird move and one that won’t help if they don’t fix their Spongebob level porous line.
The Patriots were expected to find Tom Brady‘s successor in the first round but they didn’t. Instead, amount they took Isaiah Wynn to fix their line. When it still looked like they’d take Lamar Jackson at 31 they surprised everyone again by going with Sony Michel out of Georgia.
LOSERS – CLEVELAND
The Browns seemed poised to finally have a draft that would transform the team. John Dorsey’s first two picks as GM were strange. First of all, the lead up to the draft was so unnecessarily convoluted it felt like it was written by Kurt Sutter. The number of smoke screens were akin to a Gob Bluth magic show and yielded the same results.
Unless the Browns wanted to gin up offers on the fourth pick it seemed weird to play everything so close to the vest. Taking Baker Mayfield was also strange considering his limitations as a passer. He could be good but the floor on him is so deep a Balrog could live there.
With their fourth pick, they selected corner Denzel Ward. In a vacuum it’s a great pick but the fact that they didn’t trade down was odd. Ward likely would’ve been there if they traded down. Instead, they reached when the better move would’ve been to take Barkley first and Mayfield at four because the Jets were taking Sam Darnold anyway. Classic Browns.
LOSERS – NEW ORLEANS
In the grand scheme, the selection of defensive end Marcus Davenport would’ve made the Saints winners. The problem is that they gave up A LOT to get him. Most assumed that by giving the Packers not only their first this year but their first next year the pick would’ve been Lamar Jackson. That turned out to not be the case. Davenport will be a monster for the Saints who are clearly in win now mode. Still, it’s likely they would’ve gotten him at a lesser price than the Bills gave up to draft Josh Allen.
LOSERS – OAKLAND
The Raiders rightly traded down and got more picks. Unfortunately, they didn’t make the most of them. Kolton Miller is a fine tackle and if this had been their only move they’d be winners. However, they also traded a third rounder they got from Arizona to trade for Martavis Bryant. On one hand, he’s another weapon for Derek Carr. On the other, he’s not reliable and could be suspended at any point in the season. It’s possible Gruden can get the most out of him but its awfully risky.
WINNER – JOHN ELWAY
Elway’s time as Broncos president has been a mixed bag. He won a Super Bowl three years ago but after Peyton Manning retired to the land of Papa John’s and Budweiser things went to hell. The quarterback position became the Bermuda Triangle of mediocrity and the defense took a step back. He lost Wade Phillips and poor Vance Joseph had to wake up every day to rumors he’d be fired.
He wound up with the 5th pick and despite signing Case Keenum it was rumored he’d be in the quarterback sweepstakes. He got lucky and instead got to take DE Bradley Chubb, arguably the best defensive prospect in the draft. All of a sudden the pass rush is scary again and he didn’t have to do anything to get him. Rumor has it he tried to trade back in but nothing came to fruition. He still has enough picks to fill out the rest of the roster.
LOSER – PITTSBURGH
Yes, they unloaded Martavis Bryant creating cap space and gaining an extra pick. Yes, they had the best moment of the night by having linebacker Ryan Shazier announce the pick after a devastating injury. Unfortunately, they blew their pick by selecting Terrell Edmunds. His brother Tremaine Edmunds would’ve been a Danny Ocean level steal here. Picking Terrell was a bigger reach than Reed Richards can make. The Steelers fell victim to drafting for need and not value.
LOSER – LOS ANGELES RAMS
The Rams didn’t have a pick tonight because they felt compelled to trade for Brandin Cooks. Les Snead wanted another big time receiver but considering that they could’ve had D.J. Moore or Calvin Ridley at this spot it seems like a waste. Sure, hindsight is 20/20 but the Falcons swooped in and got Ridley who can not only be a game breaking receiver, he comes in on a cost controlled contract. Cooks wants big time money next year and while the Rams will have $90 million next year, they still have to pay a lot of people. The Rams have been winners all off season but now this trade is starting to look worse.
WINNER – OZZIE NEWSOME
The retiring Ravens GM decided to go out in style. After a string of drafts that set the team back following their Super Bowl, Newsome left his incoming administration in a good place. He traded down twice to nab tight end Hayden Hurst with the 25th pick. It seemed weird that he’d go tight end but that was just the appetizer.
Newsome traded up with the Eagles in order to take Lamar Jackson. This was welcome news to a fan base that grew to despise Joe Flacco who may have had one of the greatest post season runs ever but could never replicate it. To make matters worse his contract was a bigger anchor than the the Lord of the Rings TV series is to Amazon. Now they have a quarterback of the future and they’ve solved their tight end problem.
Flacco only has one year of guaranteed money left on his deal so they can move on after this season. Jackson is coming into a great situation. He can develop for a year and then the offense can be tailored to him. Newsome went out in style. The Ravens were big winners Thursday Night.
LOSER – ROGER GOODELL
Goodell needs to just own the fact that everyone hates him. Just come out like Vince McMahon and feed off the boos. The NHL’s Gary Bettmen does. The fact that Goodell tried to hide behind Cowboy’s legends Troy Aikman, Jason Witten, and Roger Staubach was cheesy. The crowd of course saw through that and Goodell’s joke afterwards cratered. Then his introduction of Ryan Shazier made him come off like the first draft of Westworld before they added the personality or humanity. Not a good night for Roger.
WINNER – ROGER STAUBACH
The 76-year-old Hall of Famer showed he still has it. After throwing a pass into the crowd the Browns considered taking him over Baker Mayfield.
The first round was full of fireworks and while the quarterback bonanza is over there are still a ton of quality guys left. There’s still time for the winners to keep winning but also for the losers to turn it around. This draft has been unpredictable and should continue to baffle us all.