The dramatic NFL offseason continued last weekend with the annual draft, and while some teams drafted into more wins this season, others already want 2019 to be over.
Winner: Arizona Cardinals
And so it begins. After a tumultuous offseason, the Cardinals somehow got it right in the draft – finally fully committing to Kyler Murray, and giving him a multitude of weapons to throw to in his first year. Murray instantly gives the team star power and marketability, but his transition should be made easier with sleeper wide receiver picks Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler. The offensive side of the ball looks to be figured out for new coach Kliff Kingsbury, but the defense also got considerably better with the second round pick of standout Washington corner Byron Murphy. Deionte Thompson, who acted as the clear leader of the Alabama defense last year, somehow slipped to the Cards in the fifth round, and acted as the bow that tied together a solid draft.
Loser: New York Giants
The rest of the NFL is laughing at the Giants after this offseason. It was hard to picture them getting any worse than they are, but then they went and drafted Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones isn’t the worst quarterback in the world, but he’s not even close to being worthy of the sixth overall pick. New York easily could’ve snagged him with their 17th pick, or literally done anything but take him at six. After taking someone who only completed 59 percent of his college attempts, the Giants then decided out of the blue that DeAndre Baker was the best corner in the draft, and traded back into the first round for someone they easily could’ve grabbed in the second round. The rest of the draft was so-so, but drafting Darius Slayton in the fifth round over a plethora of more talented receivers sums up the Giants perfectly – they do the exact opposite of what makes sense at every turn. David Gettleman must be sabotaging them on purpose at this point.
Winner: Denver Broncos
Drew Lock makes the Broncos’ class. For a second round pick, Lock has the potential to be a home run for Denver. While Lock is enough to mark down the Broncos as winners, they also addressed key needs by adding star tight end Noah Fant and versatile offensive lineman Dalton Rinser. With a solid group of skill players already in Denver, and Noah Fant being added to the mix, the Broncos are just a couple years away from something special with Lock under center.
Loser: Cincinnati Bengals
What else do you expect from Cincy? The Bengals continued to fill in the Browns’ spot for ‘laughingstock of the AFC North’ as their draft class was finalized on Saturday. Jonah Williams is a solid first rounder and figures to start immediately, and Ryan Finley is a decent project to develop behind Andy Dalton, but the rest of this class is a whole lot of nothing. The Bengals didn’t select a wide receiver, which they desperately needed after injuries have plagued their core the last two seasons. Their second round pick, Drew Sample, might as well have been invisible at Washington last year, with only 25 catches on the season (six of which came against Auburn, Ohio State, and Stanford). Sample easily could’ve been found in the fourth or fifth round. The Bengals had ten picks in the draft, but not a lot to show for it.
Winner: Cleveland’s Steals
Cleveland had a great run in free agency, but they’ll find a way to screw it up… right? Apparently not. While Cleveland didn’t have the best overall draft, they managed to find diamonds in the rough with multiple picks. Greedy Williams somehow slipped to the middle of the second round, so Cleveland just did the right thing (can you believe it?!?) in taking the LSU defensive backfield product. Sheldrick Redwine (the first turnover chain wearing at Miami) slipped into Clevland’s hands in round five, and Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson did the same. Both are absolute dogs and figure to get playing time next year. Redwine is a versatile safety that can move into the box and will act as a nice stand-in for Jabrill Peppers.
Loser: Detroit Lions
A tight end at number eight? My sister knows next to nothing about football, but even she could make a better pick than the Lions did in the first round. T.J. Hockenson is a hell of a player, but unless he’s the second coming of Kellen Winslow (Sr., duh) or Tony Gonzalez, he’s not ever going to be worth the eighth overall pick. The Lions wasted their other picks on an over-valued linebacker in Jahlani Tavai, another tight end (why?), and running back Ty Johnson, who is an injury concern whenever he stands up too quickly. Austin Bryant was a nice steal in the third round, but it doesn’t make up for the rest of the lackluster class.
Winner: Tom Brady
When does Tom Brady not win? After Rob Gronkowski’s retirement and Chris Hogan’s departure, things looked to be going south for the six-time champion; so what does New England do? Goes out and drafts a physical presence that can stretch the field in N’Keal Harry. The former ASU wide receiver is a bona-fide stud, and is sure to fill in Gronk’s role in New England’s offense by attacking the seams and abusing defensive backs everywhere. Along with Harry, the Pats gave Brady some insurance by drafting a three-year starter at West Virginia in tackle Yodny Cajuste; and added an understudy in the fourth round with plenty of upside – former Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham.
Loser: Dallas Cowboys
Caleb Wilson may be this year’s Mr. Irrelevant, but the Cowboys draft class is filled with irrelevance. Jerry Jones must have been blind-folded, drunk, or both while selecting his franchise’s new players. The thought of adding depth to a talented roster makes sense, but the Cowboys could’ve improved at the wide receiver spot after losing Cole Beasley in free agency, or drafted one of the many talented defensive backs in a draft loaded with them. The defensive back they did select, Michael Jackson (sadly not the king of pop), is a nice pick for a fifth rounder, but they should’ve done better.