The NFL draft began with its most captivating and electrifying player, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray of Oklahoma, being taken first overall by the Arizona Cardinals.
That surprised no one. Things also went precisely as expected when the draft, after Murray’s selection by the Cardinals, became a parade a pass rushers and defensive tackles being greeted by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the stage in Nashville.
But there were a few twists, several of them quarterback-related. The Cardinals, after choosing Murray, were expected to trade Josh Rosen, the quarterback they traded up to select 10th overall in last year’s NFL draft. Quarterback-needy teams like the New York Giants and Washington Redskins were thought to be among the likely bidders.
The Giants, though, moved quickly to take Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the No. 6 choice. The Redskins stayed put at No. 15 and got Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins. And the night ended with Rosen still on the Cardinals’ roster. They still can shop him to the Miami Dolphins. There still are teams, such as the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers, needing a quarterback of the future. But the Cardinals’ trade options for Rosen have dwindled considerably.
Murray, Jones and Haskins were the only three quarterbacks taken in the opening round. The plummet of Missouri quarterback Drew Lock out of the first round was a surprise. It was, as anticipated, a defense-first draft following an offense-first NFL season. Of the first 21 players chosen, 13 were defensive players.
The Raiders used their trio of first-round choices on pass rusher Clelin Ferrell, running back Josh Jacobs and safety Johnathan Abram. The Giants traded up for a third first-rounder and emerged with Jones, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and cornerback Deandre Baker. Both teams improved their rosters, but there was room to wonder if either made the most of its picks.
Here is our analysis of how each first-round pick fits with his new team.
1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
The Cardinals did as so many had expected by drafting Murray first overall. They put aside the concerns about his height and trusted that he will be the same electrifying playmaker in the NFL that he was as the Heisman Trophy winner at Oklahoma. The Cardinals will fit him into the college-style offense of their new coach, Kliff Kingsbury. The team will look to trade second-year passer Josh Rosen, but its options are dwindling after the Giants and Redskins both took quarterbacks.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The expected run on defensive players begins right on schedule. The 49ers take Ohio State pass rusher Bosa second overall. It’s interesting that the Niners went with Bosa over Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. Perhaps there was no going wrong for the 49ers. But the careers of Bosa and Williams will be forever intertwined and compared.
3. New York Jets: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The NFL draft is unfolding pretty much as expected so far as the Jets get Williams at No. 3. He’s a potentially dominant player on the interior of the defensive line and perhaps the best player in this draft, although not at a position as coveted as quarterback or edge rusher. Things get interesting now with the Raiders up at No. 4.
4. Oakland Raiders: Clelin Ferrell, DE/OLB, Clemson
The Raiders pull a stunner by taking Ferrell with the No. 4 pick, the first of their three first-rounders. It wasn’t surprising that Oakland went with a pass rusher. But the fact that it was Ferrell, not Kentucky’s Josh Allen, was dumbfounding. Most expected Ferrell to come off the board in the middle of the opening round. He only has to be as good as Khalil Mack for the Raiders to come out even after trading Mack to Chicago last year. Not much pressure, huh? Raiders Coach Jon Gruden and new General Manager Mike Mayock reportedly sent home the team’s scouts well before the draft to avoid leaks. But if it had been leaked that the Raiders were going to go with Ferrell at No. 4, no one would have believed it.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White, LB, LSU
The Buccaneers, after losing inside linebacker Kwon Alexander in free agency, get his replacement at No. 5 by taking White. It’s a sensible choice, as White is worth the fifth overall pick. But they did allow Josh Allen, a top edge rusher, to get past them, possibly benefiting the Giants at No. 6.
6. New York Giants: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Perhaps it was a year late, but the Giants get their quarterback of the future by taking Jones at No. 6. Maybe this was too early for Jones. Perhaps they could have gotten pass rusher Josh Allen here and a quarterback later at No. 17. But if Jones turns out to be the right quarterback for them, no one will care about that. The Giants clearly were enamored with the connection of Jones to David Cutcliffe, the Duke coach who has strong ties to the Manning family.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky
It’s better to be lucky than good for the Jaguars as Allen falls to them at No. 7, thanks to the Raiders’ confounding pick at No. 4 and the Giants’ decision to take their quarterback of the future at No. 6. The Jaguars need an offensive tackle and this choice might not be in new quarterback Nick Foles’s best interests. But Allen probably is too good for the Jaguars to have passed him up at this point.
8. Detroit Lions: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
The Lions, with the strong Patriots influence on Coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn, use the No. 8 choice on Hockenson, the draft’s top tight end, one year after trying but failing to trade for Rob Gronkowski. Hockenson isn’t Gronkowski. But he is a very good blocker along with being a reliable receiver, and he should make a difference for quarterback Matthew Stafford.
9. Buffalo Bills: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
The Bills make the obvious choice by taking Oliver at No. 9. He clearly was the draft’s second-best defensive tackle after Quinnen Williams and most thought he was among the five best front-seven defenders. The Bills get a little bit lucky that he drops to ninth. That’s six defensive players among the top nine selections leaguewide.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
The Steelers trade up 10 spots for Bush. He was the other prime-time linebacker in this draft, with Devin White already off the board. It’s unusual to see the Steelers trading up like this. But they clearly felt the need to get Bush to solidify their linebacker corps.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Williams becomes the first offensive lineman taken in the draft. He could be a tackle or a guard in the NFL, and he’ll fortify the Bengals’ offensive line wherever he plays. It’s interesting that the Bengals choose to help quarterback Andy Dalton by bolstering his offensive line rather than selecting a quarterback to replace him. It’s also difficult to avoid the feeling that the Bengals would have taken linebacker Devin Bush if the Steelers had not traded into the 10th spot to get him.
12. Green Bay Packers: Rashan Gary, DE/OLB, Michigan
The Packers continue to bolster their pass rush by choosing Gary with the 12th pick. Green Bay added pass rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith in free agency while losing Clay Matthews. The issue with Gary is whether his production will match his promise. If it does, the Packers could have a formidable defensive front.
13. Miami Dolphins: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Wilkins becomes the third defensive tackle and the ninth defensive player to come off the board in the draft’s first 13 picks. He’s a good value at this point in the draft. But the Dolphins pass up Drew Lock and Dwayne Haskins and put off making a bid to fix their quarterback situation. Will they end up regretting that?
14. Atlanta Falcons: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College
The Falcons make Lindstrom the second offensive lineman chosen. That’s perhaps a bit early for him, although he is well regarded. The Redskins, interestingly, now are left with their pick of quarterbacks, Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock, at No. 15.
15. Washington Redskins: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
The Redskins get their quarterback of the future, and perhaps of the present, without having to trade up to take Haskins, the former standout at the Bullis School (Potomac, Md.). There were plenty of quarterback options for the Redskins with Haskins and Drew Lock both available, and the Cardinals’ trade possibilities for Josh Rosen rapidly dwindling. The next issue becomes whether Haskins overtakes Case Keenum and Colt McCoy to be the starter when the regular season kicks off.
16. Carolina Panthers: Brian Burns, DE/OLB, Florida State
The pass rushers remain in demand as the Panthers go with Burns. That’s five edge pass rushers in the top 16 picks and it seems like a solid move for Carolina.
17. New York Giants: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
The Giants don’t get a pass rusher with either of their first-rounders but they do get Lawrence to anchor the interior of their defensive line. Could they have taken pass rusher Josh Allen at No. 6 and still have gotten Daniel Jones at No. 17? Quite possibly so. There remains plenty of room to question the maneuvering of GM Dave Gettleman. But at least the Giants come away with a quarterback of the future and a front-seven defensive player. That makes Gettleman’s handling of this opening round the least puzzling of his moves over the past year.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State
The Vikings absolutely had to do something to fortify their offensive line in hopes that quarterback Kirk Cousins’s second season in Minnesota won’t be as disappointing as Year 1 was. So while the choice of Bradbury might not be particularly glitzy, it was necessary.
19. Tennessee Titans: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Simmons had an off-field incident while in high school and suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while training for the draft. He was regarded as a likely top-10 selection in this draft before his injury. But are the Titans good enough that they can afford to use the 19th pick on a player who probably won’t play for them as a rookie? That’s highly debatable.
20. Denver Broncos: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
The Broncos, after trading down from 10th overall, pass up quarterback Drew Lock to take Fant, the second Iowa tight end (after T.J. Hockenson) selected in this first round. This choice will help new quarterback Joe Flacco. But it doesn’t solidify the Broncos’ quarterback situation for the long term.
21. Green Bay Packers: Darnell Savage, S, Maryland
The Packers surprise everyone by trading up nine spots to take Savage at No. 21. Did Green Bay really need to trade up to get Savage here? The Packers emerge from the opening round with a pass rusher, in Rashan Gary, with great potential but disappointing production in college, and a safety regarded by few observers entering the draft as a mid-first-rounder.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
This was a good move by the Eagles, trading up three spots to get Dillard at No. 22. He’s an offensive tackle who thrives in pass protection. He won’t have to play immediately, with Jason Peters back for another season at left tackle. But he should be ready to step into the lineup whenever Peters’s career is done.
23. Houston Texans: Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State
There was no choice to be made here in terms of which position would be targeted. Quarterback Deshaun Watson was sacked 62 times last season and the Texans simply had to take an offensive tackle. The Eagles traded ahead of the Texans to get Andre Dillard, leaving Houston to take Howard. This probably was a little bit early for him, and the Texans passed up Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor. But Howard was regarded as a very promising small-school prospect.
24. Oakland Raiders: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
The Raiders, with the second of their three first-rounders, make Jacobs the first running back to come off the board. He’s a great story and he’ll be a very useful player for an Oakland offense that will be without the retired Marshawn Lynch. But the NFL draft proves over and over that productive running backs can be found into the middle rounds, and this is a Raiders team with needs all over the roster. There’s plenty of room to wonder if the Raiders are making the most of their first-round picks.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
The Ravens will be a run-first team with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, but they add a potential big-play receiver in Brown. He becomes the first wide receiver selected in this draft and he’s the first pick of Eric DeCosta’s tenure as GM in Baltimore. It’s a better fit than it might seem at first glance. The Ravens needed a speedy playmaker at wideout to keep opposing defenses honest.
26. Washington Redskins: Montez Sweat, DE/OLB, Mississippi State
The Colts trade out of the opening round entirely and the Redskins move up for their second first-rounder of the night. Sweat is another of this draft’s highly regarded pass rushers. Some teams reportedly took him off their draft boards entirely because of a heart-related issue. But there were reports Thursday that other teams believed he was misdiagnosed.
27. Oakland Raiders: Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
The Raiders lost out on the chance to draft Montez Sweat when Jon Gruden’s brother, Jay, and the Redskins traded up to No. 26 to get him. Oakland’s consolation prize at No. 27 is Abram. So the Raiders emerge with Clellin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs and Abram to show for the Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper trades and their trio of first-round picks. They’re better than they were entering this draft. But did they maximize the value of their picks? That’s a stretch, it seems like, to believe that.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
The Chargers pass up addressing needs on the offensive line and in the defensive backfield. They also opt against selecting Drew Lock to be Philip Rivers’s eventual replacement at quarterback. But Tillery does address a need for help in the interior of the defensive line and he’s well worth the 28th overall pick.
29. Seattle Seahawks: L.J. Collier, DE, TCU
The Seahawks, after trading Frank Clark to the Chiefs this week, get a replacement at defensive end by selecting Collier. Many draft analysts had regarded him as a likely second-rounder so this was a bit of a reach by Seattle to fill a need.
30. New York Giants: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Giants end the shutout of cornerbacks by trading back up to get Baker at No. 30. That makes it three picks in this opening round by the Giants. They emerge with quarterback Daniel Jones, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and Baker. They don’t get a pass rusher, and it certainly can be argued that Jones was taken too high. But their defense clearly is better and they have a QB of the future.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
The Falcons trade up with the Rams for a second first-rounder. Both were devoted to attempting to upgrade their offensive line. This might have been too high for McGary, and the Falcons continued the draft-night plummet of Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor by passing on him. But Matt Ryan must be pleased.
32. New England Patriots: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
The Patriots close the opening round by bolstering their depleted wide receiver corps. Quarterback Tom Brady needed pass-catching help and the Patriots gave it to him. It is interesting that they passed on another wideout who had been projected by many as a first-rounder, D.K. Metcalf.