NFL Draft 2019 Results: The Biggest Steals, Reaches and Surprises from Day 1
Despite trying to cover their intentions with smoke over the past several months, the Arizona Cardinals selected Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft Thursday. For fans and analysts alike, this selection wasn't surprising.
In fact, the first few selections fell in line with many a mock draft. Pass-rusher Nick Bosa went to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 2, while the New York Jets scooped up Quinnen Williams at No. 3. This doesn't mean the first round lacked its share of shockers, though.
Several prospects landed in spots few might have predicted—either higher, lower or seemingly out of nowhere.
There is still lots of top-tier talent available for Day 2, which kicks off at 7 p.m. ET. The second and third rounds are likely to come with their own drama. For now, though, let's look back at the biggest reaches, steals and surprises of opening night.
Surprise: Raiders Take Clelin Ferrell 4th Overall
The Oakland Raiders threw out the first curveball in the 2019 draft by selecting former Clemson edge-rusher Clelin Ferrell fourth overall. The selection of a pass-rusher at No. 4 wasn't a shock—the Raiders totaled just 13 sacks in 2018—but Ferrell wasn't the selection many predicted.
NFL.com's Gil Brandt, for example, named Ferrell as his 18th-best prospect in this class.
It seems Ferrell has been the top pass-rusher for coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock for some time.
"From what I understand, what the Raiders are looking at is some sort of surprise pick at No. 4," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported days before the draft.
Oakland did indeed surprise there, though the fact that Ferrell was on the top of its draft board is understandable. He is a disruptive player at the point of attack—he had 19.5 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks in 2018—and he brings a championship pedigree to a defense that sorely needs it.
Reach: Giants Take Daniel Jones at No. 6
The fact that the New York Giants took former Duke quarterback Daniel Jones isn't a surprise. He played under David Cutcliffe—the same guy who coached Peyton and Eli Manning—and he does possess a skill set similar to that of the Manning who starts for New York.
The surprise comes in where the Giants took Jones and who they passed up to do so.
Jones was widely viewed as the third- or fourth-best quarterback in this class—Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller had him fourth—but the Giants made him the second signal-caller off the board at No. 6. They may have been able to trade down from there and still land Jones or trade up from 17th overall to do the same.
By taking Jones so early, the Giants also passed on blue-chip edge-rusher Josh Allen, who would have filled another position of need.
"Pass rush is something that we all want," head coach Pat Shurmur said before the draft, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.
Even if New York wasn't interested in grabbing Allen at No. 6, it probably could have traded down a few spots so an interested team could.
If Jones does develop into a franchise signal-caller for the Giants, where he was drafted will be irrelevant. For now, though, it feels like New York took him much higher than it needed to.
Steal: Buffalo Bills Get Ed Oliver at No. 9
The Buffalo Bills needed to upgrade the defensive tackle position. Thanks largely to the surprise pick of Ferrell and two early quarterback selections, they may have gotten the best one in the draft by simply being patient.
Houston's Ed Oliver fell to the Bills at No. 9, slamming into the intersection of Talent and Need.
"The Bills just got my favorite player in this draft class," Doug Farrar of USA Today tweeted. "Make him a 3-tech and get the hell out of the way, Bills. You just drafted John Randle."
While Oliver has a long way to go before he can measure up to the six-time All-Pro, one can see the potential. Oliver is an impact player in the truest sense of the word. Even when forced to play out of position at nose tackle in 2018, he racked up 54 total tackles 14.5 tackles for a loss and 3.0 sacks.
Oliver doesn't have archetypal size (6'2", 287 lbs) for an NFL interior lineman, which is why some teams wondered about his ability to play linebacker. However, reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald had similar size questions when he came into the league, too.
If Oliver performs even close to the way Donald has at the pro level, the Bills may have gotten themselves the steal of the draft.
Surprise: Steelers Trade into Top 10 for Devin Bush
There wasn't a trade in the opening round until the Denver Broncos parted with the 10th overall pick. The team making the move up? The Pittsburgh Steelers.
We're not accustomed to seeing the Steelers make major deals early in the draft, and we're certainly not used to seeing them make selections inside the top 10. They did both Thursday night, leaping up 10 spots to take former Michigan linebacker Devin Bush.
The move all the way up to 10th overall was a surprise. The pick of Bush was not. The Steelers have needed an inside linebacker since they lost Ryan Shazier to a spinal injury near the end of the 2017 season. Bush was one of the two top linebackers—along with fifth overall selection Devin White—and one of the best sideline-to-sideline defenders in the draft.
Last season alone, Bush amassed 79 tackles, six passes defended and 5.0 sacks.
The last time the Steelers traded up to take a defender in Round 1 was in 2003, when they grabbed safety Troy Polamalu. That moved worked out pretty well, but we will obviously have to wait to see whether this one does the same. If it does, though, Bush could also end up being a major steal.
Pittsburgh gave up its second-round pick and a 2020 third-rounder in the swap.
Reach: Falcons Take Chris Lindstrom at No. 14
The Atlanta Falcons filled a need by grabbing former Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom at No. 14. In doing so, however, they reached. Lindstrom is an athletic prospect and could be a terrific pro, but he was not the 14th-best player in this draft or even close.
Brandt named Lindstrom as his 46th-best prospect. Miller ranked him as his No. 4 interior-line prospect. Miller's top interior lineman was NC State's Garrett Bradbury, who went to the Minnesota Vikings four spots after Lindstrom.
Making the selection look even more like a reach is the fact that the Falcons signed guards James Carpenter and Jamon Brown in free agency. While Lindstrom did briefly moonlight as a right tackle at Boston College, he'll almost certainly play guard in the NFL.
With prospects such as Dwayne Haskins, Dexter Lawrence, Brian Burns and Noah Fant still on the board, it's a little tough to believe Atlanta couldn't have traded down a couple of spots and still landed Lindstrom—or possibly have even traded back into the bottom of Round 1 to do the same.
Steal: Redskins Get Dwayne Haskins at No. 15
Last year, the Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens all traded up to grab their franchise quarterbacks. This year, the Washington Redskins stood pat at No. 15 and got theirs in the form of former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Haskins tossed 50 touchdown passes and threw for 4,831 yards in 2018. He was the No. 2 quarterback on Matt Miller's draft board and drew rave reviews from ESPN draft analyst Louis Riddick.
"There's really nothing not to like about him," Riddick told The Dan Patrick Show. "Nothing."
Haskins was only a one-year starter at Ohio State, but he lands in a nearly ideal situation with the Redskins. Washington won't have to rush him into action because it can turn to Case Keenum and Colt McCoy first. Though he won't be playing in 2019 as he recovers from a devastating leg injury, veteran Alex Smith is still part of the franchise and should be around to help guide Haskins the way he once guided Patrick Mahomes.
Washington did consider trading up to secure Haskins, as NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported on Up to the Minute Live (h/t NFL.com's Kevin Patra). Ultimately, it didn't have to.
Reach: Texans Take Tytus Howard 23rd Overall
As was the case with the Atlanta Falcons and Chris Lindstrom, the Houston Texans filled an obvious need by grabbing former Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard at No. 23. However, this move also reeks of reach, as virtually no one had Howard pegged as a first-round pick.
Howard, a former tight end, is still developing as an offensive tackle. If he isn't ready to start right away, that could be a problem for Houston. Quarterback Deshaun Watson took a league-high 62 sacks in 2018 alone and cannot really afford to have his pass protectors learning on the job.
This selection is even more of a head-scratcher because Howard was selected just one spot after Andre Dillard—a polished pass protector and the third tackle on Miller's big board. The Philadelphia Eagles traded just fourth- and sixth-round picks to move up three spots and grab Dillard ahead of Houston.
Perhaps the Texans could have offered a Day 3 pick to move up one spot and grab a guy who would provide more immediate value to the franchise quarterback.
Steal: Redskins Get Montez Sweat at No. 26
The Redskins got their quarterback (Dwayne Haskins) by staying put at 15th overall. They got their pass-rusher (Montez Sweat) at No. 26 by trading back into the first round, but they didn't give up a ton to do so. Washington sent the 46th overall pick and a 2020 second-rounder to the Indianapolis Colts in the move.
Last year, the New Orleans Saints traded the No. 27 pick, their 2019 first-round pick and a fifth-rounder to move up to 14th and grab their preferred pass-rusher (Marcus Davenport).
Sweat opened eyes at the combine with his blazing 4.41-second 40, but he wasn't just a workout warrior. He had proven production at Mississippi State, including 22.5 sacks over the last two seasons.
According to ProFootballTalk, one team even considered Sweat the best pass-rusher in the draft, though it removed him from its draft board because of a minor heart condition detected at the combine.
Here's the kicker, though: That heart condition may have been misdiagnosed. As NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said (via Adam Maya of NFL.com): "[That] would mean there is no risk for Montez Sweat under this diagnosis. This discrepancy would explain why some teams are absolutely fine with it."
Washington may well have landed a game-breaking edge-rusher with nothing more than a pair of second-round picks.
Surprise: Patriots Take N'Keal Harry at No. 32
With the final pick in the first round, the defending champion New England Patriots took former Arizona State wide receiver N'Keal Harry. This came as a bit of a surprise, as it's a very un-Patriot-like move. As Ben Volin of the Boston Globe pointed out, it marks the first time New England has taken a wide receiver in Round 1 during the Bill Belichick era, which spans multiple decades.
The Patriots have long relied on trades and free agency to acquire wideout talent. Just look at last year's receiving corps, in which Cordarrelle Patterson, Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett were all acquired via trade while Chris Hogan was a free-agent acquisition and Julian Edelman was a converted college quarterback.
Adding Harry makes a ton of sense, though. He was a productive receiver in college—73 catches for 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018—and has the potential to be a No. 1 NFL receiver. He's also a versatile and physical player, which makes him perfect for Josh McDaniel's offense.
"His experience playing inside should help and teams will love his impact as a run-blocker," NFL.com's Lance Zierlein wrote of Harry.
Given his potential and New England's need at the position, this probably shouldn't feel like a surprise. It does, however, because we've gotten used to seeing the Patriots zig when everyone expects a zag.