2018 NFL Draft Results: Pick-By-Pick Analysis and Grades
The 2018 NFL Draft is finally here! After months of mock drafts and pre-draft rumors, we can finally enjoy the real thing. As the draft goes along, be sure to follow along with each pick to see who your team takes with pick-by-pick analysis!
1. Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Browns wanted a quarterback and took the guy they wanted all along with the 1st pick. The only issue: Mayfield wasn’t considered to be the best quarterback, but he obviously was to the Browns (which is ultimately all that matters). If he doesn’t turn into their franchise quarterback, they’ll be criticized for years to come for passing on one of the other top guys. Risky move whenever you hold the keys to the entire draft.
2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Just as the Browns, the Giants have been eyeing up Barkley for some time now and he was their guy from the beginning. The only thing that concerns me: was it worth using the 2nd pick? The Giants could’ve taken Darnold here and selected one of the top backs (Guice?) at the top of the 2nd, which would’ve filled two needs with great value. But there was no denying that Barkley was the top back this year and adds more firepower to the Giants’ offense.
3. New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Jets were able to trade up and jump ahead of the quarterback-needy teams and take what many people considered to be the top (albeit safest) quarterback in this class at 3. Darnold doesn’t possess some of the gaudy traits that players like Josh Allen and Josh Rosen possess, but he’s a guy that should be able to be the guy for the Jets. Hard to not like this pick for New York.
4. Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Not going to lie, I really thought that the Browns were going to take Chubb here. Ward was as close to the consensus 1 cornerback as you’ll see and helps shore up the Browns’ secondary. But the idea of pairing Chubb with Myles Garrett was extremely intriguing to me and an avenue I would’ve rather have taken.
5. Denver Broncos: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, N.C. State
There were rumblings that the Broncos would trade back if the price was right (and apparently they had a deal in place with the Bills). They still need a ton of help on offense. But when the best defensive player falls to you at 5, you have to take him. Chubb and Von Miller will terrorize offenses in the NFL. Have to feel bad for Pat Mahomes playing these guys twice in his first year as a full-time starter (gulp).
6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The Colts had to be grinning from ear to ear with the opportunity to select with Nelson or Roquan Smith. While Smith would’ve been the more exciting, “high impact” selection, Nelson was the smart move. Guard is not sexy, won’t bring a lot of attention, and doesn’t have a ton of “draft value”. But you need to improve your offensive line if you ever expect Andrew Luck to play at all. Taking arguably the best overall player in the draft at a position of need (at 6, no less) is a no-brainer.
7. Buffalo Bills (TRADE from Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
I’m curious to see the details of the Bills’ original trade with the Broncos. My guess is that they would’ve given up more to move up the extra two spots. Getting the guy you wanted by giving up (likely) less should make your front office happy. The thing is, I can’t get on board giving up anything to select a project quarterback that has arguably the lowest floor of any of the 1st-round quarterbacks. The potential is there, but not without risk.
8. Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
After watching Nelson go off of the board to the Colts, Roquan Smith became the obvious pick for the Bears. He fits the do-it-all profile that teams are looking for in today’s NFL and has All-Pro potential. Love the value, love filling a need, love the pick.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
I really thought that the 49ers were going to go for a player like Tremaine Edmunds, but this pick makes a ton of sense. After making Jimmy Garoppolo a very wealthy man, San Francisco needed to give him protection up front and McGlinchey should do just that. There are concerns if he’ll ever become an effective left tackle, but time will tell. Either way, this pick should give some comfort to their prized quarterback.
10. Arizona Cardinals (TRADE from Oakland Raiders): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
As expected, Josh Rosen was the top four quarterback that slid on draft day. And honestly, Arizona might be the best spot for Rosen to focus on football and become the quarterback that many think he can. If it weren’t for the “personality/injury” concerns, Rosen would’ve gone much earlier. Props to the Cardinals for landing their guy.
11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
The Dolphins nailed this pick. Thought they could look at Tremaine Edmunds but Fitzpatrick will bring versatility and skill to a defense that could use an infusion of talent. Fitzpatrick is an every-down player that should become a household name in the league sooner rather than later.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TRADE from Buffalo Bills): Vita Vea, DL, Washington
I thought the Buccaneers were all-in on Derwin James and looked like geniuses for moving back to still land their guy. There is no denying Vita Vea’s talent, as his blend of size, power, and athleticism is beyond desirable. He’ll be added to an already stout defensive line and make an early impact. But it’s hard to accept passing on James in my mind. Would love to be wrong here.
13. Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama
The Redskins will take criticism for staying put and letting guys go off of the board before here, but rumors circulated for a few weeks that they were zeroing in on Vea and Payne. Getting one of your top two targets without moving anywhere is a win in my book. Payne has more upside than Vea as a three-down defender, increasing his value. They need help all over, but their run defense has been atrocious. Payne will help that.
14. New Orleans Saints (TRADE from Green Bay Packers): Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
I’m okay with Davenport as a prospect. If he fell to me and I needed a pass rusher, I’d consider taking the raw, unproven, but tremendously high upside EDGE. But to move up 13 spots AND give up a 1st-rounder in 2019? That’s a steep price to pay for a player that has a high ceiling but arguably the lowest floor of any player in the 1st round. With Drew Brees‘ window closing quickly, giving up this much for a guy that might not pay off is an extremely puzzling move. It could pay off in a major way, but it could be a huge bust. First pick of the draft that I genuinely don’t like.
15. Oakland Raiders (TRADE from Arizona Cardinals): Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
I predicted this trade AND pick a while ago. The Raiders had quietly been shopping the 10th pick and had expressed plenty of interest in Kolton Miller, a tackle that many NFL coaches and front offices think is the best and most exciting tackle in this class. It’s hard to say if that’ll actually turn out to be true, considering that his floor isn’t that of a guy you want protecting your franchise quarterback. This pick will either turn out well or completely blow up in Oakland’s face. I don’t think there is much middle ground.
16. Buffalo Bills (TRADE from Baltimore Ravens): Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
After moving up to snag their quarterback, the Bills weren’t content with staying put at 22. I love Tremaine Edmunds, don’t get me wrong. But for a Bills team that has so many needs to address (especially on offense), I was stunned by this pick. They were willing to move up for a guy that will fit the defensive schemes but was not really necessary to have at this point. If they don’t nail the rest of this draft, this pick will be taken with some criticism, regardless if Edmunds turns into the player people expect.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Derwin James has no business falling this far in the draft. Many expected him to be a top 10 pick so going at 17 is an incredible value. James still has some development to do but once the wrinkles get ironed out, James should become a household name with Pro Bowl & All-Pro potential. Excellent pick.
18. Green Bay Packers (TRADE from Seattle Seahawks): Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Packers needed defensive help, especially in the secondary. Alexander adds some spunk to the defense and should be a day 1 starter. Packers got some additional picks and took a guy that was likely on their radar from the beginning. Solid pick.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
As long as the medical concerns never turn into an issue, the Cowboys snagged a great (albeit inexperienced) football player. Dallas needed to add talent on defense in a major way and loved LVE and his abilities to succeed in all facets of the game. Like the pick (as long as he can stay healthy).
20. Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
Centers and guards are never sexy picks. But the Lions needed to improve their interior line play and added Ragnow, the fastest-rising IOL in this class that could turn out to be the best when it’s all said and done. The biggest knock on this pick is the Lions need for a pass-rusher and having a player like Harold Landry still sitting on the board.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Billy Price, C, Ohio State
Before his combine injury, Price was considered to be the top center in this class. According to his medical updates, he’ll be good to go in training camp. If that holds true, it’s hard to hate this pick. Only other real option here would’ve been James Daniels. But Price was their guy.
22. Tennessee Titans (TRADE from Baltimore Ravens via Buffalo Bills): LB Rashaan Evans
This draft slot generated attention from both the Steelers and the Patriots, but the Ravens took the obvious route and gave the pick to their non-rivals. The Titans used it to select the last remaining 1st-round linebacker that feels exactly like the type of player Mike Vrabel would target. Evans could end up being an upgrade over Williamson as well.
23. New England Patriots: Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia
It was no secret that the Patriots needed help at tackle to replace Nate Solder. However, Wynn has been projected to be a guard at the next level, an area that the Patriots don’t need to upgrade right now. That means to me that New England plans on playing Wynn at tackle, which could either be another genius move by Bill Belichick or an experiment that ultimately ends up with Wynn bumping down to guard. I love Wynn, just don’t really see the fit here for the Patriots.
24. Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
The Panthers needed help at receiver and add one that might have more potential than Calvin Ridley and Cameron Sutton. Moore was a late riser that makes exciting plays and will give Cam Newton a fun target to utilize. He’s not without flaws, but most of the receivers in this class carry technical issues.
25. Baltimore Ravens (TRADE from Tennessee Titans): Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
The Ravens had been connected with Hurst for a few weeks now, so being able to trade back and still get your guy is a good thing for Baltimore. Ridley would’ve filled a bigger need, but Hurst is still a guy that can come in and do it all for you. I didn’t have Hurst as a 1st-rounder, but rumors indicate that a lot of teams did. If Hurst was a year or two younger, I don’t think anyone would have an issue with this pick (or having Hurst as the top tight end in this class).
26. Atlanta Falcons: Calvin Ridley, WR, Falcons
Ridley was considered by many to be the top receiver in this class. Getting him at 26 is solid value and gives Matt Ryan an exciting tandem of Julio Jones and Ridley. He wasn’t used the best at Alabama but with all of the attention that will be on Jones, Ridley could be in for a big rookie year and beyond.
27. Seattle Seahawks (TRADE from Green Bay Packers via New Orleans Saints): Rashad Penny, RB, San Diego State
The Seahawks were rumored to look at a running back in the 1st round but most people thought it would be Derrius Guice, a player that has drawn comparisons to Marshawn Lynch. They were also rumored to look at a DB (Josh Jackson and Isaiah Oliver were the two names most connected to them). But Rashad Penny…? I love Penny as a prospect and think he’ll be a solid back in the league. But for a team that had one pick in the top 100 and had a ton of needs on defense to rebuild the Legion of Boom, this pick makes no sense to me. If you’re going to take a running back here, you’ve got to land it. With Guice, Michel, and Chubb all still available, this is a head-scratcher. This grade has less to do with the player and more to do with the Seahawks overall situation.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech
This pick was met with plenty of controversy, as players like Justin Reid and Harold Landry were still on the board. However, rumors had been circulating that teams were quietly in love with Terrell Edmunds as a prospect and that he could slip into the 1st round as one of the biggest under-the-radar risers. Those rumors turned out to be true. The 1st round might seem high and Edmunds isn’t a finished product yet, but his versatility as a box safety/dime linebacker with the ability to play in a center fielder role is exciting for Pittsburgh.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Taven Bryan, DL, Florida
The rich get richer. The Jaguars defense was the best in the NFL last year and their defensive line was already stout. Adding Bryan to that will only improve their front seven, something I didn’t think was possible. This might have been a bit of a luxury pick, but oh well. Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson, and Marcell Dareus will happily accept another stud to the mix. Look out offensive lines around the league.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
I love Mike Hughes as a prospect and if his character concerns are behind him, he can turn into a very effective player in the NFL. He’ll add competition as an inside corner with Minnesota. My main concern is the fact that the Vikings needed to add some protection up front for Kirk Cousins. With Will Hernandez and James Daniels still on the board, I thought they would go in that direction. The Vikings didn’t have a ton of needs and the IOL class is deep, but I was still surprised by the pick. Another case of a rich defense getting richer.
31. New England Patriots: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
Michel was considered by many to be the 2nd-best running back in the class. The Patriots don’t frequently invest much in running backs, so taking one in the 1st-round is certainly surprising and indicates that Belichick loved this guy. He should easily replace the hole left by Dion Lewis and should have no problem making a big impact in year 1.
32. Baltimore Ravens (TRADE from Philadelphia Eagles): Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The pick that everyone was waiting for didn’t happen until the final pick of the 1st round. Lamar Jackson is an electric prospect that should take over for Joe Flacco in the future. He needs to develop some so he landed in a good situation to sit for a year or two. This was one of the best picks of the 1st round. The Ravens get both of their guys. And think about this for a second… the last two Heisman Trophy winners are now in the AFC North. Didn’t see that one coming.