Grading Each Team for the First Round of the NFL Draft

After weeks of mixed feelings, regarding a purely online NFL draft, the first round came and went successfully. There were no technical issues as far as fans were concerned, fans were able to get involved, and Roger Goodell was still booed. Some NFL fans had the pleasure of watching their favorite teams make great picks, while others had to hang their heads in melancholy. So how did each team do?

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers entered Thursday with the 13th pick which they acquired from the Colts for DeForest Buckner and the 31st pick. Instead they left with the 14th and 25th, giving up a fifth (176), a seventh (245), and the fourth (117) they acquired from the Bucs tonight. With those two picks they selected Javon Kinlaw, A defensive tackle from South Carolina, and Brandon Aiyuk, a wide receiver from Arizona State.

Kinlaw is most expert’s second best DT on the board behind Auburn’s Derrick Brown, and the Niners were able to select him to replace Buckner while also gaining a pick from swapping with the Buccaneers. Aiyuk is a RAC monster who will strive in the Niners open field offense, and will remind fans of former Niners wideout Pierre Garçon. Some worried Aiyuk would struggle with being physical on catches, but this should not be an issue in Kyle Shanahan’s scheme.

Grade: A-

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears did not have a first round this year as they traded it away for Khalil Mack two years ago. I’m sure most Bears fans are not complaining.

Grade: N/A

Cincinnati Bengals

To no one’s surprise, the Bengals take the obvious player in LSU QB Joe Burrow. Burrow is obviously the best QB prospect this year and will hopefully be the franchise QB the Bengals rely on for years to come.

Grade: A+

Buffalo Bills

The Bills traded away their first for WR Stefon Diggs. Josh Allen gets a true WR1 and the Bills offense adds a legitimate threat that they’ve been missing.

Grade: N/A

Denver Broncos

Broncos fans watched each pick go by in angst, watching Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy fall pick by pick. After the Jets, Raiders, and Niners passed on Jeudy, the Broncos were able to take what many considered the number one WR in this draft class. Jeudy brings the Broncos offense to a new level, and will help QB Drew Lock avoid a sophomore slump.

Grade: A

Cleveland Browns

Most NFL fans knew the Browns would be selecting an offensive lineman to help protect QB Baker Mayfield but most had no idea that they would land the Alabama OT Jedrick Wills Jr at 10. Wills was the right tackle for the Crimson Tide last year, protecting left-handed QB Tua Tagovailoa’s blindside. Wills will have to make the switch from right to left, but with Cleveland’s new offensive line coach Bill Callahan, and future hall of fame LT Joe Thomas’ help, Wills should have little issue adjusting.

Grade: A+

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs entered Thursday night with one goal in mind. Help Tom Brady. They accomplished this by trading up one spot to draft Iowa OL Tristan Wirfs. Only giving up a fourth round pick to acquire what many believed to be a top 10 pick, is a successful night for any GM. Wirfs will be able to make a positive impact day one in Tampa Bay, and help protect Tom Brady on his quest to win a ring in his new home.

Grade: A

Arizona Cardinals

After trading for All-Pro WR DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals had a lot of freedom entering the first night of the draft. GM Steve Keim decided to take the Swiss-army-knife LB Isaiah Simmons from Clemson. Simmons can play on the edge, inside or outside as a linebacker, as a safety, or even as a corner at times. He’s a pure playmaker who will easily help the Cardinals defense improve.

Grade: B+

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers entered the draft with a difficult decision in mind. Should they trade up to 3 for the QB of their choice, or settle with whoever Miami decides to pass on. They went with the latter, selecting Oregon QB Justin Herbert after Tua went to Miami. Herbert was an interesting prospect to NFL GM’s as he was considered one of, if not the, best QB prospect entering the 2019 draft. Herbert elected to return for his senior year and had a mediocre season, leaving scouts looking for more in his tape.

Then they opted to move back up into the first round giving the Patriots their second (37) and third (71) round picks in order to take Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray. Murray is a blazing fast sideline-to-sideline tackling machine. While that’s a recipe for a successful collegiate career, its not enough to thrive in the NFL where every team has a receiving threat at the tight end position. The Chargers gave up a lot of draft capital to select a linebacker who had 0 interceptions and only 4 pass breakups in 3 years as a starter.

Grade: C+

Kansas City Chiefs

The reigning super bowl champions had a quiet offseason, with their only big move being a franchise tag on stud DT Chris Jones. They elected to improve their incredible offense by selecting LSU RB Clyde-Edwards Helaire. Helaire is a RB who thrives in the passing game, helping Joe Burrow break the all time passing touchdown record this past season. This is a solid fit in an Andy Reid scheme that requires all offensive players to be able to play multiple roles.

Grade: B

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts did not have a first round pick in this year’s draft as they traded it away for DeForest Buckner. Buckner provides a force on the defensive line that they could not have gotten with their pick at 13. Now Colts fans just have to hope he lives up to his massive contract.

Grade: N/A

Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Jones shows again that you never know what he’s thinking and shocks the world by selecting Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb in the first round. Lamb turns an incredible Dallas offense into a legitimate contender for best offense in the NFL. Alongside Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Ezekiel Elliott, Dak should have no issue finding the end-zone next season.

Grade: A+

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins entered Thursday night with multiple first-round picks and a whole lot of gaps in their team. No one was sure which QB the Dolphins would take at 4, or if they would even stay at 4, or if they would even take a QB at all. The Dolphins ended up taking what everyone expected them to in Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa. Tua has major health concerns but he has been medically cleared for the time being. As long as he stays healthy Tua should become the new face of the Miami franchise.

With their next pick, the Dolphins elected to protect their new franchise star by drafting USC OT Austin Jackson. Jackson is a high ceiling low floor prospect who will need time to develop. A project tackle fits the Dolphins timeline, it’s just a matter of if they can help him reach his max potential.

Their final pick of the first-round was used to select Auburn CB Noah Igbinoghene. He’s a raw prospect with a lot of talent and fits the mold of how the Dolphins drafted this year. He hasn’t reached his ceiling yet and fans will need to be patient with him as he continues to grow.

Grade: B

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles surprised many opting for TCU WR Jalen Reagor who was projected to go later than other wideout’s available with their pick. Reagor will give Carson Wentz some much needed help, and provide a deep threat that Philly has lacked. He has had issues with drops and physicality on contested catches which may worry Eagles fans but his big play potential can overshadow these issues as long as he works on improving them.

Grade: B+

Atlanta Falcons

After heavy speculation that the Falcons would trade up for various top prospects, Atlanta decides to remain at their pick and select Clemson CB A.J. Terrell. Terrell is an athletic corner who can fit many varying schemes, excelling in man coverage. He may struggle with larger receivers until he bulks up which could be an issue with the other All-Pro WR’s in his division but he should be able to reach his potential of a starting number one corner.

Grade: B+

New York Giants

Giants fans entered Thursday night, with different fears of how GM Dave Gettleman would mess up their top five draft pick. Would he select QB Justin Herbert, even though he just drafted QB Daniel Jones the year before? Would he draft OT Mekhi Becton, a raw combine warrior who would be a reach at four? Would he draft someone no one expects and disappoints fans yet again? No. Dave Gettleman would draft the Georgia OT Andrew Thomas who was hyped up to be a top prospect for months. Thomas will be a day one starter who will make Jones and RB Saquon Barkley’s lives much easier, and Jason Garrett’s job simpler.

Don’t worry Giants fans, it would be surprising if Gettleman went the entire night without doing something fans could laugh at, and he did not disappoint. Gettleman gave an incredible quote in which he mentioned that he loved Thomas due to his blocking ability versus DE Josh Allen who the Jaguars took in the first round last year. The same Josh Allen who Gettleman passed on to select Jones earlier than anyone predicted.

Grade: A

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars entered the draft with two first-rounders, one their own and the other from the Rams in exchange for All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey. The Jaguars immediately drafted Ramsey’s replacement with Florida CB C.J. Henderson. Henderson is the consensus number two corner this year, who is a day one starter, which can make opposing wide receivers lives difficult, even though he struggles with tackling issues.

Following this pick they then selected LSU Edge Rusher K’Lavon Chaisson. Chaisson is an incredible run defender and is only improving as a pass rusher. He continues to grow and is already a great havoc creator. As long as he has no sudden halts in his growth he will be a star in Jacksonville for years.

Grade: B+

New York Jets

The New York Jets have made the yearly mistake made by teams, relying on a players combine and potential, while ignoring their tape selecting Louisville OT Mekhi Becton. Becton has many flaws and needs a ton of work in his technical game before he can be an efficient starter in the NFL. His combine was incredible though and went viral after he dominated with his athleticism. Sam Darnold will need to hold his breath with Becton protecting him, as the Jets have failed him again.

Grade: C

Detroit Lions

The Lions were in control of the draft at the third pick, since the first two picks were practically set in stone. They played it safe and did not trade down due to a lack of offers from Miami and Los Angeles, and selected the best corner prospect in OSU CB Jeff Okudah. Okudah is a day one CB1 who will instantly be a playmaker for the Lions, replacing Darius Slay.

Grade: A+

Green Bay Packers

“We haven’t picked a skill player in the first round in 15 years, so that would be kind of cool.”

These are QB Aaron Rodgers words on Pat McAfee’s show. The Packers did draft a skill player this year, but not the one Rodgers expected. They drafted Utah St. QB Jordan Love. Not only did they draft him, but they also traded up for him. While NFL fans may point out that Rodgers is the same age now as Favre was when he was drafted, Favre’s Packers were a 4-12 team, not a team that lost in the NFC Championship. Love is not a bad prospect but he is not someone worth taking for a team in the Packers position with the holes that they have.

Thankfully, Aaron Rodgers doesn’t seem like the type to bear a grudge.

Grade: D

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers had a few options at their pick, and elected to bulk the trenches with Auburn DT Derrick Brown. Brown is the best DT prospect this year and will instantly make a difference for the Panther’s defense. He dominated SEC lines and made the pocket an unsafe place for quarterbacks in his time at Auburn. The Panthers will hope he can continue this tradition against Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady six games a year.

Grade: B+

New England Patriots

The Patriots elected to trade down, acquiring the Chargers second (37) and third round (71) picks for their first. It seems they’re embracing a rebuild and hoping to acquire as much talent as possible.

Grade: N/A

Las Vegas Raiders

Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock continue their yearly tradition of ruining mock drafts, this time filling holes at WR and CB. Using their earlier first round pick they drafted Alabama WR Henry Ruggs. Ruggs is an absolute speedster who will open the field for the Raiders, and improve the Raiders offense from day one.

With their next pick that they netted from the Bears for Khalil Mack, the Raiders shocked the world again by reaching for OSU CB Damon Arnette. Arnette is a multi-year starter for the Buckeye’s, giving scouts an impressive tape. His age, off the field issues, and combine gave many doubts and caused him to fall on most big boards. The Raiders lost out on A.J. Terrell and after being unable to find a trade partner they opted to take their next best CB prospect in Arnette. Arnette should be a day one starter for the Raiders who have boasted a bottom-five defense for many years in a row. Only time will tell if Arnette will change that.

Grade: B-

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams traded away their first for All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey from the Jaguars. Until they extend Ramsey this trade looks more and more bleak everyday.

Grade: N/A

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens were gifted a great prospect as LSU LB Patrick Queen fell farther than most expected. This is a slam dunk pick for an excellent linebacker that will contribute to the Ravens defense immediately as they make an attempt to win it all next season.

Grade: A+

Washington Redskins

The Redskins had a simple job Thursday night. Select OSU DE Chase Young. Young is the best prospect in this draft, and would go number one overall to any team that doesn’t need a QB. Young will bolster the Redskins elite defensive line even further, creating chaos in the pocket in the NFC East for years to come.

Grade: A+

New Orleans Saints

The Saints elected to follow BPA with their pick instead of drafting for need. They selected Michigan OC Cesar Ruiz, the best center in the draft. Ruiz’s fit with the Saints depends on Sean Payton’s vision, but the talent is unquestionable. Time will tell if the Saints made the right move, ignoring other positions of need.

Grade: B

Seattle Seahawks

Like the Raiders, Pete Carroll continued his tradition of trying to trade down, unsuccessful this year and selecting someone most had as a day two player. The Seahawks selected Texas Tech LB Jordyn Brooks. Brooks was a tackle machine for the Red Raiders, leaving no doubts about his physicality. His coverage skills leave much to be desired though, as he works to live up to his first-round expectations.

Grade: C-

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers do not have a first, as they traded it away for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Minkah was an absolute stud for the Steelers last year, leaving no fans complaining about the lack of a draft pick.

Grade: N/A

Houston Texans

The Texans also did not have a first-round pick, as they traded it away to Miami for OT Laremy Tunsil. When the trade was made many overlooked it, but Bill O’Brien’s latest moves have many questioning his GM abilities.

Grade: N/A

Tennessee Titans

The Titans selected Georgia OT Isaiah Wilson. Wilson started opposite of the Giants first selection Andrew Thomas, and is a beast at 6’6. He uses his power and rare blend of skills to win his battles and helps the loss of Jack Conklin go smoother for the Titans offense.

Grade: B

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings had two first-round picks, trading down from one to fill holes on both offense and defense. Their first pick was LSU WR Justin Jefferson, who will help fill the empty shoes left by Stefon Diggs in the Vikings offense. Jefferson was a top target for Joe Burrow and will be a great weapon for Kirk Cousins.

With their next pick, they traded down to gain more draft capital, and then selected TCU CB Jeff Gladney. Gladney is a phyiscal corner who can start opposite of Mike Hughes for the Vikings contributing as early as week one. While his size isn’t ideal, his toughness and agility will help him bolster the Vikings defense.

Grade: B+

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