1. Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield — QB, Oklahoma
Right out of the gate we start with a bang! Defying more level-headed prognosticators, new GM John Dorsey doesn’t go with the expected pick of USC’s Sam Darnold, who most pundits feel has a higher floor than Mayfield.
Baker Mayfield has drawn comparisons to a spectrum of former players: on one side, you have crash-and-burn disappointments like Johnny Manziel and on the other, game-changers like Jeff Garcia. He’s a rah-rah player who won the Heisman and fires people up. A common knock on him is that he’s only six feet tall, and some quarterbacks of that height have struggled to find throwing lanes around and between the seven-foot tall ogres NFL lines are stacked with. But others, like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, have done juuuuust fine.
Mayfield’s deep ball hangs a little, which may or may not be a bad thing for my boy Josh Gordon, who can go up and get it, but Cleveland takes the first of their two picks with aggression. They’re not on their heels. Dorsey went and got his guy, which you have to admire considering that Mayfield is only considered to have somewhere between the third and fifth ranking of quarterbacks based on measurables. For my money, the fact that he recreated Brett Favre’s 1991 draft photo makes him A-ok in my book.
2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley — RB, Penn State
Superstar. Broadly considered the head-and-shoulders, far-and-away best player in the draft, Barkley ends up on football’s most demanding stage. New York fans got a gift that will keep on giving for years to come as they get to watch his exotoic, game-changing 4.4 speed and take-it-to-the-house-from-anywhere gamebreaking ability. I like this kid a lot.
Meanwhile, everyone in New England grumbles as erstwhile goober Eli Manning retains his grip on the starting job. It was ballsy for the Giants to pass on a quarterback here, especially considering Eli’s numerical decline. But they have a bunch of pieces in place, and now they have one of the best running backs in the league to take pressure off of Manning. It’s a gamble, but I guess they figured they couldn’t pass on the next Le’veon Bell. Tough to blame them. Saquon is stupid good. And handsome as fuuuuuuuuuck. New York’s gonna love him.
3. New York Jets: Sam Darnold — QB, Southern California
Darnold is everybody’s darling. More of the prototypical QB build, 6’3”, 221 lbs, blah blah blah. He can make all the throws, has decent accuracy and should be able to anchor the Jets offense to many rewarding 8-8 seasons. Yes, he has all the measurables. He also drops more balls than an ancient Babylonian castrator. The real reason I’m not sold on him is the shape of his head. You can’t possibly win with a head like that! How tired must his neck always be?
And I don’t understand his last name. Darnold? It’s bugged me for years.
“Hey this is Sam Darnold!”
“Nope, Sam Darnold.”
“Nope, just Darnold. Like Darn and Old. But smooshed together. To make something awful.”
I looked up the etymology of the name and instead got this, which may be the absolute worst thing on the internet. It’s so offensive I considered not posting it. But suffer with me.
That’s just some unhappy bot-generated life-draining horror. Which is what, ultimately, Sam Darnold’s career may resemble for the Jets. You just can’t sell me a Quarterback with a D-lineman’s head and expect me to whistle past the graveyard. No way. I do hope I’m wrong about him, though. I love me some Todd Bowles.
4. Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward — CB, Ohio State
Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, expected the Browns to go Bradley Chubb here. He’s safe, dominant, and would have given their defense a sick 1-2 punch with last year’s first overall pick Myles Garrett. You could hear the air come out of the room when they selected Ward, a corner, with the fourth overall pick. Corners are TOUGH. Teams whiff on corners all the time. But Ward is consistently graded as the best corner in the draft. 4.32 speed, which is head-shakingly nuts. And he has great instincts. Not a ton of turnovers in college, and he’s just under six feet tall, which could present problems for him in the pros. But maybe not. Maybe he’ll be elite. It remains to be seen how two out-of-the-box picks will work out for the Browns, but you have to admire their gumption. Because at this point, that’s all they have. The Browns haven’t won a game in, like, two years. 1-35 in that span. So, gumption FTW until we hear differently. That said, coming out of the first round, the Browns have two Day 1 starters. That’s a positive.
5. Denver Broncos: Bradley Chubb — DE, North Carolina State
With the ink still drying on Ward in Cleveland, the Broncos manually close their jaw and thank the football gods as they pencil in the best defensive player in the draft. Bradley Chubb won both the Hendricks and Bronko Nagurski awards for being the nation’s top defensive end AND top overall defender. And now he goes to the land of Von Miller, a personal hero of his, where offenses get swallowed up and spit out like chardonnay at a vintner orgy. Bradley Chubb is a goddamn instant force as is and he’s only going to get better. He can range and press. Stunt and shimmy. Every quarterback in the AFC West should immediately put on a pair of tighty-whities and crap in them. This Broncos defense is going to accost some fools. The best part is that it’s no longer improper of me to suggest that Broncos coach Vance Joseph has a huge Chubb.
6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson — OG, Notre Dame
An offensive guard at #6 should tell you why Quenton Nelson is as close to a can’t-miss talent as you can have in the draft. This dude is an absolute rebirth of the Kraken and throws defenders around like CG skeletons in a Ray Harryhausen movie. He’s a combination of crazy motor, outstanding fundamentals and a wrecking ball mentality. He just added 400 yards to Marlon Mack’s rushing totals and 16 years to Andrew Luck’s life. Thank god there’s a new regime in Indy! If Grigson and Pagano were still there, this pick would have been a receiver. Instead, finally, someone realizes that you have to keep your QB on his feet. I really love new head coach Frank Reich. And this pick is exactly his personality. Fucking solid. Solid and dependable as the day is long. Look at the eyes on Quentin Nelson. They’re dead! Dead eyes! You think he has any qualms about driving defensive tackles into retirement? No way. He’s a killer. This is the beginning of a much, much better chapter for the Colts. Now if only there was a way to fire Jim Irsay…
7. Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen — QB, Wyoming
“Oh Roger! I can’t wait to help you keep Black people down! Hahahahahahahahahahaha! Ahhhhh. Good times.”
At #7 we get the first trade of the draft! The Bills come up the 12 slot by way of the Bucs and part with two second-rounders to grab Josh Allen. People are so torn about this kid. He’s a biggun. 6’5” and weighs, like, 240 wringing wet. You could feed a family of four for a month with the meat on his neck. He has decent mobility and a cannon for an arm. But he may only have college-level accuracy and a five-cent head. He’s most likely to be the Ryan Leaf of this draft. Also, some tweets emerged right before the draft that made him look like a bigot. So that’s nice! I say bust, and I say it with earnestness. Not because he’s a racist. But because he’s a racist who can’t aim the ball or throw on the run. You think it was cold in Buffalo last year? It’s about to get a lot colder.
8. Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith — LB, Georgia
The Bears couldn’t have had a better player fall to them. Linebacker was their biggest need and Smith may be the field marshal they needed. Some people wonder if he has the strength needed to control the middle of the field, but he’s fast and smart and a natural leader and that’s going to go a long way. If he works out, he’s going to be an Urlacher-level fixture in the Bears defense for a decade.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Mike McGlinchey — OT, Notre Dame
Dude looks like a state cop to me. That’s what I always think when I see him: Statie. The highest-rated tackle in the draft. But still like thirteen rungs lower on the talent level than Quentin Nelson. Still, I was hoping he’d somehow fall lower so the Patriots could grab him at 21 but no such luck. McGlinchey is a smart pick, and should keep future superstar and NFL-undefeated quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo upright for years to come. At 6’8” and 309 lbs, he’s a solid piece, though — in what seems to be a statement that defies reason — people wonder if he’s strong enough. This dude could fold me up like a pizza box and Aerobie me into the next county, but he may not be strong enough for the NFL. That’s nuts. Still, he’s technically sound, has good instincts and should be a good component at the next level. Both San Francisco and Indy have new coaches and I love what they’re building.
10. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Rosen — QB, U.C.L.A.
Arizona trades up with Oakland at 10 to nab their franchise quarterback in Josh Rosen. I really like this kid. He’s got an edge that people don’t like, but I think he’s just smarter than the average bear and sick of all the bullshit. He’s like a caged lion. He just wants to get out there to throw. There are concerns about his durability, but man he throws a pretty ball. Sam Bradford is currently the starter in Arizona, but he has some fragility to him as well, so Rosen could see the field sooner rather than later. But Rosen makes it four QB’s in the top 10, which has never happened before, and not one of them a looker. Seriously, the weirdest looking crew of face-of-the-franchise faces I’ve ever seen.
11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick — S, Alabama
This is a player who can do anything in the secondary. The Dolphins got a gift here. A natural playmaker with a nose for the ball, he should anchor the Miami backside for years to come. He’ll start and thrive on Day 1.
12: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vita Vea — DT, Washington
The header photo up top is Vita Vea. Six-foot-four and weighing in at, like, 900 pounds. He’s a mountain of a man, and offensive lines aren’t going to be able to push him around. He did a staggering 41 reps on the bench press at the combine, further solidifying his legend as a demigod of mythical strength. What a boon to drop down from #7 and still pick up a piece like this. That Bucs defensive line of Gerald McCoy and Vita Vea in the middle with JPP and Vinny Curry on the outside? That’s the stuff nightmares are made of. One final note: Vea was a RUNNING BACK in high school, so you know he has great feet. Imagine trying to tackle that dude? Your scap would break in three.
13. Washington Football Team: Da’Ron Payne — DT, Alabama
After Vita Vea goes off the board, Washington snags another man-mountain in Da’Ron Payne. That’s a great name. And this giant brings the pain to the tune of 300 pounds. Back in 2004, the Washgingtons lucked into Sean Taylor in the draft, and it looked like they might do it again with Florida State’s Derwin James, but instead, they decided to anchor their line with the second Bama D-tackle in as many years.
14. New Orleans Saints: Marcus Davenport — LB/DE, Texas-San Antonio
I don’t know this player enough to say whether or not the Saints made the right move but they gave up a first-round pick next year to come up and get this pass rusher. They must love him and Green Bay drops down to the 27th pick and goes home counting their money. I just don’t know about this pick. They must have seen something special in Davenport that pretty much everyone else missed.
15. Oakland Raiders: Kolton Miller — OT, U.C.L.A.
The last of the first-round-graded O-linemen gets plucked by the Raiders at 15. Dude is 6’9”. You read that right. He blocks out the sun. In high school, he worked part-time as the treehouse for the Keebler Elves. I’ve been on ferris wheels shorter than Kolton Miller. That said, he’s a little bit of a project, as he hasn’t really zeroed in on pro-style mechanics yet. But the Raiders bank on keeping Derek Carr upright and that’s the correct choice. SIDE NOTE: The Raiders also traded a 3rd rounder (79th overall) for Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant. Bryant has talent to spare but a slighted attitude and a penchant for the weed, so Pittsburgh is thrilled to get a 3 for him. Word is that this draft class is especially deep on day 2 (rounds 2-4) and many teams are trying to load up with more picks in that zone. It’s a fresh start for Bryant, who, when he’s on his game, can take the top off the defense and is a red zone beast.
16. Buffalo Bills: Tremaine Edmunds — LB, Virginia Tech
The Bills jump up again in the first round to grab Tremaine Edmunds, who appears to be a rare talent. 6’5” and he has that crazy middling, atypical build for a linebacker where he might just be the kind of swiss army knife you need for a pure big nickel formation, meaning he can muscle tight ends AND run with them. Sean McDermott is no joke as a coach and he’s going to get the most out of Edmunds. I hate the Josh Allen pick but I love this one.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James — S, Florida State
Maybe the craziest thing about this draft is that the best safety dropped all the way to 17. It’s Christmas and Easter and every other holiday in San Diego as they get the gift of a century in Derwin James. He’s got everything, including a huge personality. That Chargers secondary just got a whole lot better in one pick.
18. Green Bay Packers: Jaire Alexander — CB, Louisville
The Pack dropped down to 27 when the Saints came marching in on 14, and then they jump back up into Seattle’s spot to grab the second best corner on the board. This was a little bit of a desperation move for Green Bay as their secondary was routinely torched last season by inferior talent. He’s a little raw, and he may end up spending his early days as a nickel corner. Maybe the best thing about this pick is his punt returning, which is yet another box the Packers need to check. All in all, it fits, but the Pack had to back into it a little.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch — LB, Boise State
This is one of my favorite picks in the draft. A 6’4”, 256-pound walk-on linebacker who hunts the ball like The Kurgan hunts heads. He looks like a goddamn Aryan prototype, so I just sit here and pray that he’s actually a good dude. He’s got only limited playing time under his belt, but he seems like the kind of instinctive player who is only going to get better. I never wish for anything good to happen to the Cowboys, but here they may have unearthed a jewel.
20. Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow — C, Arkansas
People love this big ugly. You can’t have a good line without a good center, and Ragnow is among the best in this year’s class, though not, certainly in a class by himself. New coach Matt Patricia must have seen something in the big personality and big body he liked. I love this trend of new coaches making smart picks. Patricia, a defensive mind, grabs a center. Matt Nagy in Chicago, an offensive guru, grabs a linebacker. This new generation of coaches seems to get it.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Billy Price — C, Ohio State
Back to back centers. I’m a HUGE believer in centers. A smart center is like a second QB on the field. I don’t know a lot about Price other than he’s a weight room animal, but tough to go wrong with a center.
22. Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans — LB, Alabama
New Titans coach Mike Vrabel, a former Patriots linebacker, must have really liked the hybrid-type qualities that this Bama linebacker gives him, despite Evans only really playing one year in college. The Titans moved up three spots to land him. Depending on whom you ask, he’s either a flash in the pan or a future elite 3-4 system linebacker with the ability to set the edge. Bonus: Vrabel heard through the grapevine that Belichick liked Evans, so he jumped up above his old team and fucked them. That’s positively Belichickian.
23. New England Patriots: Isaiah Wynn — G, Georgia
With Evans snatched from their grasp, The Pats do the ho-hum thing and fill their greatest position of need, offensive tackle…with a guard. Uhhhhh. Yeah. Everyone says this dude is a guard and not a tackle. Here’s the thing: Patriots O-line coach Dante Scarnecchia is the best in the business and if he says Wynn is a tackle? He’s a tackle. That’s good enough for me. I was just happy the Patriots didn’t trade down like they always do.
24. Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore — WR, Maryland
At 24 we get the first receiver off the board. There isn’t a single mock draft that didn’t have the Panthers grabbing anyone but Moore or Calvin Ridley, the two 1st round level WR’s. Former Panthers wide receiver/phenom Steve Smith commented that this kid would fill his shoes, and that’s about as high of praise as I can think of.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Hayden Hurst — TE, South Carolina
This is a big, lanky kid who was drafted into the MLB to be a pitcher. I’m not sure you can fool Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome about tight ends, being a Hall-of-Fame tight end himself. This is Ozzie’s last first-round pick of his career as he’s going to retire at the end of the season.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Calvin Ridley — WR, Alabama
People are torn on Ridley, but this pick felt like a steal to me. Like Bradley Chubb going to the already terrifying Broncos Defense, Ridley positioned on the other side of the field from Julio Jones in that dangerous Atlanta offense? Glitter cannons exploding everywhere. This is the best place for a young Bama receiver to learn from a Pro-Bowl Bama receiver. If Ridley lives up to his billing, this is a match made in heaven.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Rashaad Penny — RB, San Diego State
With the decimation of the Legion of Boom, I fully expected the Hawks to go defense here, but when you consider how atrocious they were at running the ball last season, it makes sense. You just don’t see smart organizations like the Seahawks burning first rounders on dime-a-dozen running backs. Penny is slightly better than that, but he doesn’t have the take-over-a-game ability of a Saquon Barkley or a player like the Bulldog’s Sony Michel or Louisiana State’s Derrius Guice. Weird pick. Maybe Pete Carroll was chewing too much gum when he reviewed the RB tape.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Terrell Edmunds — S, Virginia Tech
Undoubtedly, the most powerful moment of the draft was when injured Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, whose spinal injury left him partially paralyzed last season, walked to the podium on the arm of his girlfriend. Whew. That was hard to watch and great to watch at the same time. He announced the Steelers pick: Terrell Edmunds, brother of #16 overall pick Tremaine Edmunds. That’s the first time two brothers were taken in the first round in the same draft. There’s no doubt Pittsburgh will sculpt Edmunds into a force.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Taven Bryan — DT, Florida
I know less than nothing about this pick, but the Jags know defense and with their insane corners and line? I’m banking on their know-how on this one. He’s apparently the son of a Navy seal so he’s probably a complete daffodil. This is just one more piece of the puzzle that keeps Jameis Winston awake at night. I’m guessing he’s awake, anyway, though he’s clearly not watching tape.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Mike Hughes — CB, Central Florida
Vikes head coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t miss much, so if he thinks Mike Hughes, the last first-round-ish talent left on the cornerback board is the right pick to pair with shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes? Then who are we to question it. I’ve said it already: it’s easy to miss at corner, and Hughes does everything well and nothing particularly great. But he has potential and if he’s open to a brilliant defensive mind, Zim is gonna coach him up right.
31. New England Patriots: Sony Michel — RB, Georgia
Ho hum, here come the boring-ass Patriots to either trade down or take a hybrid long snapper/punter/return specialist that I’ve never heard of aaaaaaaand WHAT THE FUCK? Did the Patriots, notoriously stingy about paying running backs, because they always steal third-stringers from other teams, just draft potential superstar and Alvin Kamara wannabe Sony Michel? With Derrius Guice still available, this is an interesting pick, but the Patriots will certainly have a plan to use Michel as a crazy mismatch on gamedays. What a shocker.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson — QB, Louisville
This is defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia’s pick, but they trade out of the first so the Ravens can come back in and take Michael-Vick-upside quarterback Lamar Jackson. Getting him in the first round is important because based on the updated rookie rules, only the first round picks give the club the right to exercise a fifth-year clause. And with starting quarterbacks making in the neighborhood of $15-20 million per season, being able to hang on to one for a fifth year for, like, $4 million makes a huge difference. So we thought the tight end Hayden Hurst was Ozzie’s final first-round pick, but it ends up being quarterback Lamar Jackson, who may not be a quarterback at all. Nobody knows. He’s just this insanely talented athlete with question marks all around him. Ballsy move by the Ravens to go up and get him to close out the first. Speaking as an unbiased observer, I hope it works out for them. Speaking as a person who loathes the Ravens with every fiber of my being, I hope it blows up in their face and he ends up a sheep farmer like Giovanni Carmazzi.
And that’s it!
So how did your team do? Who had the best draft? The Rams loaded up so much on high-end talent that they don’t even have a pick in the first two rounds! Maybe Sean McVay won? Sound off in the comments!
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