NFL Draft 2019: Round 1 Grades for Every Pick
The New York Giants and Washington Redskins finally selected quarterbacks of the future. The Oakland Raiders selected some heavy hitters on both sides of the ball. The New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills added thumpers in the middle of the defense. The Baltimore Ravens added a receiver who will help Lamar Jackson go Hollywood.
And the Arizona Cardinals? They did what we all thought they would do. Which doesn’t make it any less shocking.
Get caught up on all the first-round action with Bleacher Report’s Round 1 draft grades, scouting reports, player profiles and analysis.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray, Quarterback, Oklahoma
Deadly accurate quarterback comparison: Somewhere between Modern Fran Tarkenton and Miniature Marcus Mariota
By now, you probably already have an opinion about Kyler Murray: He’s the next Russell Wilson, or fake Russell Wilson, or new-and-improved Russell Wilson, or you wish everyone would stop comparing him to Russell Wilson; he’s a future All-Pro, future Beloit Snappers outfielder, future Toronto Argonaut, and so on and so on.
So let’s focus on the Arizona Cardinals instead of trying to change anyone’s mind about Murray.
The Cardinals offensive line was miserable last year, and they only made modest upgrades in the offseason. Their best receiver is a Hall of Famer who should probably already be there. The defense isn’t bad, but it won’t help produce any 16-12 victories while Murray learns on the job the way the Legion of Boom supported a young Wilson. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury is unproven, and the success rate jumping from college guru to NFL coach is discouraging.
Rookie quarterbacks on teams such as the Cardinals, no matter how tall or experienced they are, often end up running for their lives, suffering injuries and developing bad habits that can cause their franchises to grow impatient and quickly sour on them.
For further evidence, see Josh Rosen.
The decision to entrust Murray with the keys to the Cardinals franchise, coupled with Kingsbury’s hire and the quick hook for Rosen, is so unprecedented that it’s impossible to grade like just another first overall pick. The Cardinals are the kid who brought a working nuclear reactor to a science fair full of ant farms and baking-soda volcanos. Bold and potentially brilliant? Of course. But you don’t award a blue ribbon for a potential meltdown.
So let’s grade the Cardinals’ offseason instead. They didn’t address their offensive line or skill positions aggressively enough to feather the nest for Murray. They still haven’t pulled the trigger on a Rosen trade (though rumors are brewing). They sought defensive upgrades at an Atlanta Falcons flea market, of all places.
Murray has the tools to be a one-of-a-kind NFL superstar and change both the fortunes of his franchise and the way quarterback prospects are perceived. But the Cardinals need to do a lot more if they want to make that happen.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Nick Bosa, Edge-Rusher, Ohio State
Bleacher Report proudly presents your Field Guide to the Elite Edge-Rushers of the 2019 Draft
First-Step Quickness: C+. He’s fine, but this is not Bosa’s calling card.
Pass-Rushing Moves: A+. Bosa is exceptional at hand usage, setting up blockers with inside-outside moves and “flattening out” when turning the corner to get to the quarterback. Nuttin’ fancy, but lethal.
Run Support: B+. Bosa has great eyes and awareness on misdirection plays and is tough to run right at, though he did attempt a few too many dive-stick tackles in 2017.
Coverage: Does not apply.
Worries: Injuries, lack of production.
Bosa missed much of last season with a core muscle injury, which does not project to be a major issue in the future. He recorded only 8.5 sacks in 2017 (his most productive season), but he also shared pass-rush responsibilities that year with Tyquan Lewis (Colts) and Sam Hubbard (Bengals). Opposing quarterbacks spent much of the time getting rid of the football quickly and hoping for the best.
Bosa lacks the eye-popping measurements and tape of his older brother Joey, in part because of his truncated college career. But he’s an explosive athlete and emerging tactician as a pass-rusher who should quickly develop into a double-digit sack producer.
The Bosa selection, coupled with the acquisition of Dee Ford from the Chiefs, completes a thorough makeover of a defensive line that recorded just 37 sacks last season: 12 by DeForest Buckner and 25 by everyone else. Bosa and Ford should push the Niners defense toward 50-sack territory. That can vault them into playoff contention. Hey, better a year late than never.
3. New York Jets
Quinnen Williams, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
Strengths: Leverage, hand usage, awareness
Weaknesses: Not a size-quickness wonder
Should the Jets be taken seriously now, or are they still a punchline? Let’s weigh the evidence.
Take them seriously: The Jets hired Adam Gase as head coach.
LOL: Gase acted like David Byrne from the Talking Heads circa 1982 at his first press conference.
Take them seriously: The Jets signed Le’Veon Bell.
LOL: Bell didn’t show up for the start of voluntary workouts, which is totally OK, but…gosh, it would be great if he showed a little eagerness to get back to work after his year off.
Take them seriously: The Jets signed Anthony Barr.
LOL: Oops, Barr changed his mind.
Take them seriously: The Jets added Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator.
LOL: The Jets added Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator.
The jury is clearly still out. That makes this draft—particularly this pick—so important.
There is more to Williams than just size, athleticism and a Nick Saban seal of approval.
Williams lost his mother to breast cancer in his early teens. His father became a single parent to four children. Williams became the family cook, rising before dawn to make breakfast for the family. (For more, read John Tally's 2015 AL.com profile of the young Williams. It's a remarkable story, and a nontraditional one about how "toughness" means much more than being an aggro guy on a football field.)
Williams is the "safest" top player in this draft class: dependable, mature, athletic enough, big enough, well-coached and fundamentally sound.
Safe picks are rarely sexy picks, and the worst thing about Williams is that he isn't a force of nature like Aaron Donald or Fletcher Cox. Williams is the type of defender who makes other defenders look better.
The Jets allowed 2,021 rushing yards and 4.6 yards per rush, and they’re thin along the defensive line. They also lack pure pass-rushing talent: Safety Jamal Adams often looks like their most dangerous sack threat.
Williams upgrades the defensive infrastructure. Those old “laughing stock” Jets are becoming less and less funny with every move the team makes.
4. Oakland Raiders
Clelin Ferrell, Edge-Rusher, Clemson
Bleacher Report proudly presents your Field Guide to the Elite Edge-Rushers of the 2019 Draft.
Athleticism: A-.The “athleticism” bar for edge-rushers is really, really high this year.
First-Step Quickness: A. Ferrell is quick and times the snap count exceptionally well.
Pass-Rushing Moves: B+. Ferrell uses his first step to set up a sudden inside move or just beat the pass protector to the outside. He has some other tricks up his sleeve, but they are not quite as refined. He’s also lethal on inside stunts, which will happen when you are playing next to two of the best defensive tackles in the nation.
Run Support: B+. He’s stout at the point of attack, but ball-carriers sometimes slip past him.
Coverage: C. Ferrell has a little zone-blitz coverage experience and won’t get lost if he drops back.
Worries: The Clemson Factor
Clemson has a long history of producing edge-rushers who either run hot and cold (Vic Beasley, Shaq Lawson) or don’t quite make it (Kevin Dodd) at the NFL level. That’s because the program produces great D-line prospects in three-to-four-man bunches, meaning everyone looks better against shell-shocked opponents than they might really be. Ferrell does not look like one of those guys, but neither did Beasley or Thompson.
The Raiders recorded just 13 sacks last season—the lowest total since the 2008 Chiefs recorded just 10 sacks. Eleven individual players registered 13 or more sacks last season; meanwhile, Khalil Mack—traded away for financial/analytical/owner-in-a-snit reasons—produced 12.5 all by himself for the Bears.
So the Raiders need edge-rushers. Plural. Several. This selection puts a lot of water in the bucket but doesn’t fill it. It’s also a reach, frankly. Kentucky’s Josh Allen (among others) is still on the board, and there would almost certainly have been a market for this pick if the Raiders had chosen to trade down instead of emptying the building so Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock could work in super-duper secrecy.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Devin White, Linebacker, LSU
Strengths: Athleticism, explosiveness
Weaknesses: Playing in space
White has a pretty straightforward scouting report: explosive athlete, great off the blitz, tough and physical, can run with anyone, makes some mental errors that can be smoothed out when diagnosing plays and pass patterns. He’ll be a productive contributor for the Bucs right away.
Let’s talk about horsies instead!
White owns seven horses. One is named Daisy Mae—kids these days and their Li’l Abner references—and White sometimes rode her around LSU campus. Another is named Ricky Bobby. White has never announced the names of the other five, but I like to think they are named Happy Gilmore, Paul Revere, Hollyhock, Horsey McHorseface and Mark Emmert.
Teams didn’t sound like they were too concerned about White’s equestrian hobbies, because horseback riding is a macho enough pastime to meet NFL manliness standards. If White raised goats or chickens, he’d be branded as one of those millennial hipsters and therefore drop to the third round.
But what about if White gets hurt while riding? “I’m a pro horse rider,” White said at the combine. “I do the riding. I don’t let the horse ride me.” That’s the kind of insight NFL coaches love to hear. Also, the NCAA is probably looking into this “pro horse rider” thing as we speak.
The big variable for White’s stable was whether it would be joining him in the NFL or staying with his human family. “Most teams ask, if we draft you, will you bring the horses?” he said. “I ask, ‘How is the weather?’”
Well, Tampa is pretty humid. But my father did OK down there, and he turned the heat on when it was 68 degrees and the air conditioner when it was 72 degrees. Daisy Mae and friends will probably be fine. And so will White.
6. New York Giants
Daniel Jones, Quarterback, Duke
Deadly accurate quarterback comparison: Derek Carr with less sizzle
There was once a nitwits-in-the-news tale about a small-time lowlife who set his house on fire while cooking up some illegal substances. Because he was also a user of such substances, he couldn’t decide whether to extinguish the fire, rush his few valuables outside to save them or let everything burn so the police who arrived at the scene wouldn’t find any evidence. So he tried to do it all simultaneously. Witnesses say that when the fire trucks arrived, the man was seen racing outside with some items, then racing back into the blaze with others. Also, he was on fire.
The Giants are a lot like the fellow in that story. They traded away Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon and allowed Landon Collins to walk as a free agent while acquiring aging veterans (Golden Tate, Antoine Bethea) and protecting Eli Manning like he’s a UNESCO site. They’re trying to do multiple things at once, none of them make sense and they still don’t realize they’re engulfed in flames.
Anyway, Jones is the quarterback equivalent of agreeing to re-up your two-year cable television package instead of seeking a better alternative. “Gosh, this sure is a lot of money to pay for shows we don’t watch like Real Housewives of Schenectady. Why don’t we just get Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll and...eh, I’ve gotten used to the buttons on this remote. Another $275 per month it is!”
Jones is tall, runs fairly well, has some of the sweetest mechanics you’ll ever see and often makes pretty good decisions. He’s the default-choice prospect. He appeals to coaches who think the goal of quarterbacking is to look really good at quarterbacking and to general managers who prefer to select the guy least likely to get them fired if he fails.
I really liked Jones entering the predraft process, but he was very up and down at the Senior Bowl and didn’t blow me away in combine throwing sessions. He’ll max out as a mid-tier starter like Derek Carr or Andy Dalton. But there’s a high risk he will be one of those backups who bounces around the league for 10 years because teams love “safe” backups.
Ultimately, Jones is the perfect quarterback for the Giants because the Giants don’t want to replace Eli. They want an excuse not to replace Eli—a quarterback just good enough to make it look like he presents a challenge without presenting a challenge. Jones is that guy.
But at least he’s a quarterback.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Josh Allen, Edge-Rusher, Kentucky
Bleacher Report proudly presents your Field Guide to the Elite Edge-Rushers of the 2019 Draft
First-Step Quickness: B.
Power: B+.Allen has a good bull rush and can take on run-blockers at the point of attack.
Pass-Rushing Moves: B+. Allen has a great burst and 33½” arms, allowing him to use rip-type moves to disengage from blockers. He can also get skinny and knife inside his blocker. He doesn’t always have a plan or second move ready when stymied, however.
Run Support: B. Allen isn’t easy to wash out and will pursue plays from the backside.
Coverage: C+. In the unlikely event that the Jaguars want to do what the Wildcats did and drop Allen into coverage a dozen times per game, they’ll find he has decent instincts in underneath zones and can make open-field tackles if called upon.
Worries: Nothing serious.
Allen looks like a cross between Jevon Kearse (the arms) and the collegiate Khalil Mack (why oh why is he dropping into coverage so often?). His game needs refinement, and he may always be a sacks-in-bunches guy who can get neutralized by top pass protectors. But there’s nothing wrong with getting sacks in bunches.
Allen was too good for the Jaguars to pass up here, despite their needs on offense. They have also been slowly shedding defensive talent since 2017, and all the support in the world for Nick Foles won’t help them if they can’t field an elite defense. So this is a sound pick. But it leaves the Jaguars with a lot more work to do.
8. Detroit Lions
T.J. Hockenson, Tight End, Iowa
Strengths: Versatility, all-around capability
Weaknesses: Blocking technique, refinement
In Iowa’s two-tight end attack, Noah Fant (expected to be drafted later in this round) was the king-sized speedster most likely to line up in the slot or flex position, challenge defenders up the seam and make plays in the red zone. Hockenson was more likely to line up at H-back or in-line, handle the blocking chores and work the flats, though he had some big-play capability of his own thanks to impressive not-quite-Fant speed, deep-ball tracking skills and a knack for breaking tackles after the catch.
Tight ends like Hockenson often turn out to be more productive than tight ends like Fant in the NFL because opponents can’t just treat them as extra wide receivers. They’re more likely to draw coverage from linebackers and use their blocking skills to become play-action weapons.
Hockenson is more of a hustle-and-hit guy than a top blocking technician, and he doesn’t pull down quite as many tough catches as Travis Kelce-tier tight ends. But he should be productive and stay in the lineup for years.
This wouldn’t be a Lions draft grade without a Patriots comparison: Hockenson is no Rob Gronkowski. No one is, and no one in Detroit plans to use Hockenson the way the Patriots used Gronk (we hope). But Hockenson is a better tight end option than free-agent acquisition Jesse James, and he should diversify an offense that has been far too predictable for years.
9. Buffalo Bills
Ed Oliver, Defensive Tackle, Houston
Strengths: Explosiveness, relentlessness
Weaknesses: Size, scheme fit
Oliver played out of position as a 270-ish-pound nose tackle on a team that used a lot of three-man fronts. There's a lot of tape of him throwing his undersized body against double-teams and hoping for the best. There's also a lot of tape of him splitting double-teams with a lightning-quick first step, defeating single blocks when he faced them, disrupting plays in the backfield and causing general chaos with his frenetic playing style.
There are also some whispers about Oliver's character and practice habits. He got into a famous sideline brouhaha with Houston head coach Major Applewhite in mid-November when he was ordered to remove a jacket.
He also has some unique non-football interests, including animal husbandry. At the combine, Oliver said he may use his NFL money to buy some Wagyu bull semen for breeding purposes, which isn't a typical combine conversation starter.
Obviously, a guy who likes something besides football and doesn't want his jacket pulled off him like he's a recalcitrant toddler on national television is some sort of free-thinking troublemaker, right?
Oliver somehow became one of the most controversial figures in this draft class based on the scant talking points above. Seriously: Based on my Twitter feed from January through yesterday, you would think Oliver was Bernie Sanders or something. Draft hipsters think Oliver is the coolest band on the side stage, but based on some of what I've seen and heard, old-school NFL types are still looking down their monocles at Oliver and thinking, "Hmm, I just don't see him as a nose tackle."
The biggest risk with Oliver isn't that he'll go ham on a coach or skip practice to inseminate farm animals, but that he will become like 49ers lineman Solomon Thomas: a player who takes years to find a true position and convert his skills into production.
But Oliver has the upside of a Justin Tuck—or even a John Randle—if he's paired with a true nose tackle and allowed to shoot gaps.
Oliver fills the void left by Kyle Williams’ retirement. The Bills have Star Lotulelei and other wide bodies to eat up blocks for him. Oliver is going to set a tone, and he should upgrade a defense that was already pretty good.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (via DEN)
Devin Bush, Linebacker, Michigan
Strengths: Athleticism, explosiveness
Weaknesses: Angles, block-shedding
I wrote in a pre-combine mock draft that I was a Bush “skeptic” because of concerns about his coverage ability and range. This led to some lively exchanges with Michigan fans on Twitter and a few private “Are you freakin’ crazy?” conversations with some colleagues, current and former scouts and at least one team executive.
To clarify: For all his gifts, Bush takes bad angles to the ball, appears late to react to plays in front of him at times, gets latched to blocks and can be a step slow in transition when covering fast running backs. These are “weaknesses” seen in many Bush scouting reports. I am more concerned about them than most analysts, because I think they will turn Bush into a good-not-great starter, not the perennial Pro Bowler a team hopes to land with the 10th pick.
Bush does fill a need for the Steelers, and he’s a better fit in their scheme than in some others; he’ll be freer to roam behind their defensive line. But the Steelers trading up to take a linebacker, despite their other needs and issues, is the equivalent of them curling into a ball, clutching an old Jack Lambert jersey and thinking everything is going to be OK as long as they keep doing things the way they always do.
I may be wrong about Bush and the Steelers. I’m probably out on an island here. But draft analysis is about doing draft analysis, not taking some highlights, combine results and talking points and regurgitating what everyone else thinks. So feel free to disregard this draft grade if you don’t like it.
11. Cincinnati Bengals
Jonah Williams, Tackle/Guard, Alabama
Strengths: Technique, quickness, aggressiveness
Weaknesses: Size, arm length
Sometimes, when a chain restaurant goes out of business, a handful of locations hang on for years or even decades. Motorists will pull off the interstate, squint at the sign and think: “Didn’t H.G. McFuddmarkets go bankrupt in the late 1990s? Have I traveled back in time?” Inside, the food is somehow the same, with the employees going through the motions in a weird Black Mirror way, everyone acting professional but no one trying to make a profit or do anything more than get through the day.
The Bengals are like one of those zombie chain restaurants. They hired Mini McVay Zac Taylor as a head coach/shift manager to replace Marvin Lewis, hung up the $6.99 rotisserie chicken sign, then spent the rest of this offseason trying not to be noticed.
When vice president Troy Blackburn was asked why the team re-signed right tackle Bobby Hart—who was so ineffective that the Giants let him go—Blackburn ranted about how hard it is to find football players, sounding like a branch manager who is afraid the stale cornbread delivery truck will never come back if he’s not extra nice to the driver.
So it’s encouraging just to see the Bengals show up for the draft and put forth some effort. And they ended up making a strong selection.
Williams somehow became a controversial prospect during the combine.
First, his arms measured 33⅝ inches, below the Orlando Pace archetype the NFL uses for left tackles. Some members of the online scouting community reacted as if tiny twigs poke out of his shoulders.
Then NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones reported that Williams was resistant to moving to center while at Alabama and that, for all he knew, he might be “terrible” at a non-tackle position. The response to this report was so bonkers that Jones went on Twitter to clarify.
Usually, an offensive lineman needs to get caught on video huffing from a bong the size of Mjolnir to get this much negative press. The tempest eventually simmered back into the teapot. But was there any substance to the criticism?
Williams is, in fact, a little light (302 pounds) and short-armed for a left tackle. But he has the quickness, footwork, backpedal and balance for the position, and not all of those traits translate easily to the inside.
Williams also appears to have a bristly personality. Left tackles aren’t supposed to be sweethearts. Try asking Jason Peters about his weaknesses some time. (Editor’s note: This is probably not a good idea.)
Williams is a likely successor for Hart. He’ll be a fine one. The Bengals have tons of work to do this weekend, but this is a solid start.
That wasn’t so hard, was it?
12. Green Bay Packers
Rashan Gary, Defensive End, Michigan
Athleticism: A. Gary has remarkable pure speed (a 4.58-second combine 40 at 277 pounds) and the swiveling hips and torso of a running back or an Elvis impersonator.
First-Step Quickness: B+, with some A+ moments but not enough of them.
Pass-Rushing Moves: C-. Gary wins by getting the initial position on his blocker, either inside or outside. He lacks any secondary moves whatsoever and is not a pass-rusher with a plan.
Run Support: B+. Gary is usually stout at the point of attack and hustles in pursuit.
Coverage: Does not apply.
Worries: Lack of production, shoulder injury.
Gary is more of a traditional all-purpose defensive end than an “edge-rusher,” and he produced just 9.5 sacks in three seasons as a Wolverines regular. There were only so many sacks to go around among Taco Charlton, Maurice Hurst, Chase Winovich and various other teammates during those seasons, but Gary’s lack of production has as much to do with rudimentary technique as with getting beaten to the quarterback by teammates.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport also reported early in the week that Gary has a shoulder injury that may or may not need surgery. That sounds a little like a predraft smokescreen—here’s something that may or may not be a problem—but of course it bears monitoring.
Gary fits best as a 5-tech defensive end (a 3-4 end if you are old-school) who often has a linebacker blitzing the edge from his side. That makes him a fine fit in the traditional Packers system.
This is an odd pick from a need standpoint because Gary has similar skills to Mike Daniels and free agent Za’Darius Smith. Look for coordinator Mike Pettine to get everyone involved on defense. And the Packers wouldn’t be the Packers if they suddenly started drafting for need.
13. Miami Dolphins
Christian Wilkins, Defensive Tackle, Clemson
Strengths: Size, initial quickness, character/intangibles
Weaknesses: Block-shedding, pursuit
The Dolphins are rebuilding, not tanking! (There’s a difference.) Throughout the draft, we’ll be checking in on how their rebuilding plan is going.
Miami allowed 145.3 rushing yards per game—the second-highest total in the NFL. Gaining control of the trenches is an old-fashioned way to start rebuilding a roster, and the current Dolphins braintrust is pretty old-fashioned.
As for Wilkins, a lot of draft-prep time is spent watching tape of Clemson's defense and trying to figure out what is going on.
There are usually between two and seven top NFL prospects playing on the Clemson front seven at any given time. That forces opponents to cross their fingers, use lots of misdirection and screens and try to get the ball out of the quarterback's hand in 0.3 nanoseconds. A Clemson defensive lineman might have only three sacks in a season because the quarterback was already pudding by the time he arrived on most plays, or 12.5 just from cleaning up after his teammates.
Wilkins, a regular contributor since the Shaq Lawson/Kevin Dodd days, has only 16 career sacks, but he's one of the guys who blew up the middle so Lawson, Dodd, Carlos Watkins, Clelin Farrell, Austin Bryant and others could look like heroes. He's a first-step disruptor who played a lot of nose tackle (despite the presence of the enormous Dexter Lawrence) but fits best as a 3-tech.
Wilkins also earned his degree early, is active in community service and gets high marks for locker room leadership. He won't rack up the sacks, so the Dolphins will have to find pass-rushers later in this draft (or in the future). But they just picked up an anchor both on and off the field.
14. Atlanta Falcons
Chris Lindstrom, Guard, Boston College
Strengths: Pulling and trapping, scrappiness
Weaknesses: A lunger
Lindstrom’s father played at Boston University and was an NFL defensive linemen in the 1980s; he was also Lindstrom’s high school coach. His younger brother, Alex, is an underclassman who is now the Boston College center—a situation that took some getting used to.
“He’s the center, and usually the center is the boss of the offensive line,” Lindstrom said at the combine. “So I had to listen to him for a couple of games.”
Lindstrom is an athletic guard who excels on the move. He has the quickness to be an effective pass protector, and he competes past the whistle. He has some leverage and technique issues, including a tendency to lean too far forward, but they can be smoothed out.
The Falcons are getting someone who will compete with newcomers Jamon Brown and James Carpenter to immediately start and replace last year’s revolving door at guard.
That said, Lindstrom is far from the best player on the board, or even the best interior line prospect (hello, Cody Ford). This is a reach from a team with other needs, particularly on defense.
But at least Lindstrom won’t have to take orders from his little brother anymore.
15. Washington Redskins
Dwayne Haskins, Quarterback, Ohio State
Deadly accurate quarterback comparison: Jared Goff, only better and also worse
There are conflicting reports that team owner Dan Snyder has taken over the Skins draft war room. If that’s the case, buckle up your sippy cups because it means Washington is really being run by Snyder’s astrologist, his sommelier, whichever top player’s agent ear-holed him last and Mike Shanahan, who still calls Snyder every now and then to keep him misinformed.
Come to think of it, that may still be an upgrade over team president Bruce Allen’s decision-making shadow cabinet: some scribbled notes he found in Scot McCloughan’s office trash can and a 2017 University of Alabama football media guide.
Here’s Haskins’ scouting report, summarized in convenient bullet points and with no “look how smart and technical I can be” scouting jargon. You’re welcome.
He’s at his best when taking the snap and quickly getting rid of the ball.
He can easily be rattled by pressure, especially pressure up the middle.
He’s a gifted short passer with great velocity and accuracy in the 5-15 yard range.
He’s an inconsistent deep passer despite a strong arm.
He can find his second or third targets, check down and move the defense with his eyes.
He sometimes uncorks what can best be described as “wild pitches” to open receivers.
He steps up in the pocket to buy time effectively and can sometimes find open receivers while on the move.
He runs just well enough to get dragged down from behind if he tries to scramble at the NFL level.
He has a reputation for character and competitiveness, meaning the worst-case scenario is that he will develop into a hard-throwing, high-effort guy who won’t get any coaches or executives fired.
His methodical style will always require a clean pocket. Truly great quarterbacks are the ones who find ways to succeed without a clean pocket.
Haskins looks like a Snyder or Allen pick, not a Jay Gruden pick. Grudens like their quarterbacks quick and pesky, not big and pocket-y.
So the Skins get credit for selecting a much-needed starting quarterback without trading up. Like the Giants, they could have done worse.
But with better planning and organizational vision, they also could have done a lot better.
16. Carolina Panthers
Brian Burns, Edge-Rusher, Florida State
First-Step Quickness: A+. Burns is at the head of this year’s class in this category.
Pass-Rushing Moves: A-. Burns is a speed-rusher with some spins and swim moves in his arsenal. He gets bonus points for his knack for reaching out and stripping the quarterback if he cannot sack him.
Run Support: C-.
Coverage: C. He dropped into coverage now and then and has the athleticism to do the job.
Worries: Run support.
Burns is a min-maxed Madden MyPlayer for pass rushing. His first-step quickness, lateral agility and ability to reach out and rip footballs away all get 99 ratings. But Burns is undersized (despite bulking up to 249 pounds at the combine), and run-blockers can drive him 15 yards off the ball when they latch on.
Burns isn’t a natural fit in the Panthers’ traditional 4-3 defense; he looks more like a pure 3-4 outside linebacker who would’ve played 20-30 years ago. But his quickness will help the Panthers offset the loss of Julius Peppers along the line. Look for Burns to be a rotational player at the start of his Carolina career, but an effective one.
17. New York Giants
Dexter Lawrence, Defensive Tackle, Clemson
Strengths: Size, surprising quickness
Weaknesses: Technique, pass rushing
Hog Mollie alert! Soooo-weeeeee!
Massive 330-plus-pound defenders who can move like Lawrence come along just about every other draft class these days: Vita Vea last year, Danny Shelton in 2015, Brandon Williams in 2013, Dontari Poe in 2012 and Phil Taylor in 2011. These big dudes get old-school football guys like me and Dave Gettleman all worked up and eager to talk about the "Planet Theory."
However, the bust rate for these human planets is high. Williams and Poe had Pro Bowl seasons, but hulking interior linemen are more likely to end up playing situational roles than they did back when teams ran up the middle 30 times per game.
Lawrence went through stretches in which he was the first lineman off the ball at the snap, used a powerful punch to toss blockers aside, shoved pass protectors back into the quarterback and dragged double-teams aside so Clelin Ferrell or another teammate could stunt inside him. He looked like Williams or the young Poe on those plays. But there were also long stretches in which Lawrence was just a big space-eater. That's the kind of player best selected in the fifth round.
This may not be a great pick. But it’s a very Gettleman/Giants/old-school pick. And Lawrence, selected with the first-round pick acquired in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, weighs almost as much as two Beckhams. Does that count for anything?
No. It doesn’t. But let’s be charitable.
18. Minnesota Vikings
Garrett Bradbury, Center, North Carolina State
Strengths: Quickness, experience
The Vikings are more of a metaphor for midlife than a football team.
They’re the comfortable trap folks of a certain age fall into when their immediate needs are met but their youthful goals are so far out of reach they no longer seem worth striving for. Kirk Cousins, to extend the metaphor, is the sprawling suburban home with the heavy mortgage, or the job that pays the kids’ college tuition but no longer brings fulfillment. Mike Zimmer’s insistence on a run-based offense is your father-in-law’s need to keep attending Jimmy Buffet concerts and mow his own lawn despite the sciatica because he’s clinging to what made him feel alive and effectual 30 years ago.
The Vikings still pay lip service to trying to win the Super Bowl, but they know they’ll just go 9-7 or so while staring off into the distance from the porch with a Scotch in their hands and wondering what might have been…
As for the offensive line? That’s the leaky roof. No matter how bad the suburban midlife ennui gets, you gotta fix a leaky roof.
Bradbury began his college career at tight end before he (briefly) moved to the defensive line and finally settled at center for the Wolfpack, with whom he won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center during his senior season.
Bradbury is quick-footed, moves well laterally and is nimble when readjusting to strike a second-level defender or blitzer. He verified his athleticism with an excellent combine. On the downside, he’s more likely to get rocked back by his defender than rock him, and he lunges and ends up on the ground too often.
A starter for several seasons at guard and center who has blocked for a variety of NFL players and prospects (quarterback Ryan Finley, running backs Nyheim Hines and Jaylen Samuels), Bradbury is experienced and dependable. He will quickly develop into a capable NFL starter. The crippling ennui of Vikings football aside, this is a fine pick.
19. Tennessee Titans
Jeffery Simmons, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi State
Strengths: Size, quickness, power
Weaknesses: Injury, assault arrest
Simmons is an excellent all-around defensive line prospect who suffered an ACL injury during his February workouts and was arrested as a recruit in 2016 for simple assault and disturbing the peace after repeatedly punching a woman who was in a fight with his sister. He later pleaded no-contest to simple assault and was found guilty of malicious mischief. He has not been in legal trouble since.
The injury did not appear to be a long-term concern for most teams. There have not been any reports of complications or setbacks, which is good news for the Titans, who will be looking for immediate impact from Simmons.
As for the contents of that video, pick-by-pick draft grades are not a proper forum for discussing such topics. Simmons has expressed regret, and we can only hope it was sincere. The Titans hope so. Society hopes so.
If Simmons turns out to be the steal of this draft, it means he made the most of his second chance. But no one should forget the reason why he is on his second chance. Especially not Simmons.
That said, the Titans entered the draft thin along the defensive line. Simmons and Jurrell Casey will give them two-thirds of a formidable three-man front.
20. Denver Broncos (via PIT)
Noah Fant, Tight End, Iowa
Strengths: Athleticism, big-play potential
Weaknesses: Blocking, versatility
Fant was part of Iowa’s one-two tight end punch with T.J. Hockenson. While Hockenson was the Swiss Army knife who lined up all over the place, Fant was the size-speed matchup headache who often split out, recording 18 touchdowns in his final two seasons and averaging 13.9 yards per reception in his college career. Fant’s 4.5-second combine 40 and other workout results verified the extreme athleticism seen on tape.
Fant’s NFL stock may have gotten a boost from the success of former Hawkeyes tight end George Kittle, who was drafted by the 49ers in the fifth round in 2017. Kittle produced good-not-great collegiate numbers but then exploded with 88 catches for 1,377 yards last year. But Fant looks more like Eric Ebron, who was labeled a bust by the Lions after failing to live up to the expectations of a 10th overall draft selection but scored 13 touchdowns for the Colts last year. Fant, like Ebron, must be used properly to be more than a guy who runs really fast decoy routes up the seam.
I’m usually hard on the Broncos, especially in the draft, but Fant fills a need for a team that has tried too hard to outsmart the league at tight end in the past—and they got some extra picks from the Steelers by trading down, to boot. Fant will help Joe Flacco be the best he can possibly be. And that’s all the Broncos can ask of him.
21. Green Bay Packers
Darnell Savage, Safety, Maryland
Strengths: Plays in front of him
Weaknesses: Plays behind him
Savage’s tape is full of examples in which he read a screen or misdirection play in front of him and closed with a wallop to break up the play or minimize the gain. Unfortunately, there are also too many examples in which he got caught flat-footed as receivers ran past him or didn’t quite have the range to be a factor on a deep pass.
Savage burned a 4.36 40 at the combine and can chase ball-carriers from behind, so he has potential as a free safety. But his play style suggests he would be better in the box, though his lean 5’11”, 198-pound frame could be a liability close to the line of scrimmage.
Position-fit concerns aside, Savage has the talent and potential to be worth a long developmental look, and he generated a ton of buzz in the days leading up to the draft.
Lots of NFL teams (the Packers included) want to assemble dime defensive packages that won’t get clobbered against the run or in the screen game. That means finding physical safeties who can tackle James White-type running backs on handoffs and cover them in the passing game. Savage has the potential to be that kind of defender.
So I like Savage, but he’s not the best player of his type on the board (Mississippi State’s Johnathan Abram is better), and the Packers traded two fourth-round picks to select him. Also, they do need to freshen up their offense at some point. The Packers overthought this, even though their days of overthinking things are supposed to be in the past.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (via BAL)
Andre Dillard, Tackle, Washington State
Strengths: Quickness, testing results
Weaknesses: Mr. Air Raid Two-Point Stance Guy
Mike Leach-coached offensive tackles give me the heebie-jeebies to project because they are always lined up in a two-point stance and quick-setting to pass protect for about 0.2 microseconds before the quarterback gets rid of the ball.
But Dillard put much more on tape when protecting Gardner Minshew than the ability to play within a quarterback-and-lineman-friendly system. He’s quick to pick up blitzers and slides smoothly from one defender to another. At the second level, he can pull into a hole and thump a defender or hustle out to deliver a block. And he sustains blocks pretty well when he has to.
Toss in some exemplary combine numbers—a 4.4-second 20-yard shuttle and 7.44-second three-cone result confirm Dillard’s lateral agility—and you get a worthy first-rounder and likely future starter at left tackle.
“Future” starter is the key word for the Eagles, who will soon have to replace Jason Peters. Yes, that’s been the case since they drafted Lane Johnson in 2013. But seriously: The time has come to find a true heir apparent at left tackle. Dillard is a worthy choice.
23. Houston Texans
Tytus Howard, Offensive Tackle, Alabama State
Strengths: Size, athleticism
Weaknesses: Power, technique
Whenever the Texans pick over the first three rounds, we’ll check in to see if they are finally addressing their critical needs or just ignoring them the way they usually do.
Texans finally addressing critical needs update: The Texans had the worst pass protection in the NFL last year, allowing a league-high 62 sacks and finishing dead last in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate metric. So far, all they have done about it this offseason is sign former Panthers left tackle Ryan Kalil, who is always either too injured to play or struggling to play through injuries.
Howard is an example of a standard-issue small-program standout at left tackle: a huge (6'6”, 311 lbs) converted high school quarterback and basketball player with quick feet, the ability to crush low-level defenders and just enough good film against better opponents (Auburn, the Senior Bowl) to rise up draft boards.
Howard absorbs more blows than he delivers and has a chunky backpedal, so he needs a lot of work. He’s a long-range prospect for a team that needs a left tackle immediately.
So the Texans addressed a critical need, sort of. But really, they got beat to Andre Dillard by the Eagles and probably picked a guy they didn’t think they would have to pick.
Good luck staying upright until Howard is ready, Deshaun Watson. Maybe Kalil can get you through the start of the year.
24. Oakland Raiders
Josh Jacobs, Running Back, Alabama
Strengths: Tackle-breaking, finish, quickness, potential as a receiver
Weaknesses: College productivity
Jacobs is the most impressive college prospect I have ever seen who only rushed for 640 yards in his best season.
Alvin Kamara, you say? Kamara was impressive as heck coming out of Tennessee, but A) he rushed for 698 yards in his most productive season; B) caught 34-40 passes per year, as opposed to Jacobs’ 20 last year; C) played for a coach who needed a strategy guide to get through a game of Candyland rather than one of the greatest coaches in history; and D) was not quite as impressive as Jacobs.
Jacobs broke 38 tackles per 100 touches last season, according to Sports Info Solutions. Only Florida Atlantic’s Devin Singletary broke more tackles, and SEC tackles are a little more rugged than those in Conference USA.
Jacobs is a compact runner with powerful lower-body drive to both rip through those tackles and avoid them, and he gains yards after contact on every run. When he does get opportunities as a receiver, they usually come downfield, and he can catch the ball away from his body and run away from linebackers in the open field.
So why just 640 rushing yards last year? Jacobs was injured his junior year of high school and played Wildcat/single-wing quarterback his senior year. Oklahoma recruited him as a receiver, but one of Nick Saban’s minions swooped in and snatched him at the last moment. The inexperienced Jacobs never quite unseated sturdy Damien Harris for the starting job, and Bo Scarbrough and Najee Harris were also in the mix. And…it’s an Alabama thing.
Marshawn Lynch just retired (again). Jacobs is a lot like a smaller Lynch on the field (and a whole lot less like some Rick and Morty side character than Lynch off the field). Like Lynch, Jacobs can have a massive impact given 15-20 touches per game. This is a very strong pick.
25. Baltimore Ravens
Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
They’re mighty! They’re fascinating! They’re flawed! Get ready, true believers: Here’s the skinny on a member of the 2019 Draft Class Legion of Wide Receiver Superheroes!
Superpowers: Super speed
One Weakness: The body of a junior varsity point guard
Superhero Comparison: Ant-Man
Being tiny only seems like a boring superpower until you realize it comes with surprising speed and the ability to take opponents completely by surprise.
NFL Comparison: Travis Benjamin
Secret Superhero File
Kyler Murray’s favorite receiver was the Kyler Murray of receivers: shockingly tiny by NFL (or even NCAA) standards, but fast, explosive, competitive and productive. At 166 pounds, Brown doesn’t project as an every-down receiver for the next decade, and a lack of kick return experience may limit his value as a big-play threat. But he has the pure speed to lift the lid on the defense and can also be a dangerous screens-and-reverses threat.
The Ravens’ receiving corps entering the draft consisted of Chris Moore (a high-effort slot type), newcomer Seth Roberts (a high-effort slot type), Willie Snead IV (a better-known high-effort slot type because he played with Drew Brees) and Jordan Lasley (a fifth-round pick last year whose effort and slot-ness are unknown). It was either draft a receiver early or have Lamar Jackson trigger a Navy-style wing-bone option. Which, come to think of it...nah, they would just get short-sheeted in the playoffs again if they tried that.
Size worries aside, Brown is going to be a lot of fun to watch in a Jackson-led offense. The highlights will be intense. It’s just a matter of generating enough of them.
26. Washington Redskins (via IND)
Montez Sweat, Edge-Rusher, Mississippi State
Bleacher Report proudly presents your Field Guide to the Elite Edge-Rushers of the 2019 Draft
Athleticism: A+. Some of the numbers Sweat put up at the combine—including a 4.41-second 40 at 260 pounds—were downright stunning.
First-Step Quickness: B+.
Power: B. Sweat did some things to offensive linemen in Senior Bowl pit drills that should be banned by the Geneva Conventions, but he is inconsistent in this area on tape.
Pass-Rushing Moves: C+. Sweat has a signature head-fake move that he uses to set up his blocker before either knifing inside or attacking the edge. He also has a bull rush that can be effective against weaker pass protectors. But he lacks a well-defined arsenal of moves.
Run Support: B. Sweat holds his own at the point of attack and has some diagnostic skills.
Coverage: Does not apply.
Worries: Health concerns, some minor character concerns.
Sweat was diagnosed with a heart condition at the combine. Recent reports suggest he may have been misdiagnosed, but some teams appear to have taken him off the board, based on the fact that players such as Clelin Ferrell were taken ahead of him.
Sweat left Michigan State for Mississippi State after a suspension for never-disclosed reasons and has a reputation for being an ornery individual, even by the high standards set by sack specialists.
Smart teams don’t draft edge-rushers for their social skills, and Sweat has the tools and motor to be a perennial Pro Bowler if he stays healthy and his technique and consistency improve.
The Skins didn’t give up too much to trade up for Sweat. This isn’t a critical need pick, but it’s a move with the potential to pay off in the long run.
27. Oakland Raiders
Johnathan Abram, Safety, Mississippi State
Strengths: Aggressiveness, versatility, awareness
Weaknesses: Reckless style, tackling technique
Abram plays like a cross between Donte Whitner and the henchman for a supervillain. After all, we’re talking about a guy who was once ejected for targeting…a teammate in a spring game.
“My wife .. .she say if you’re not hitting like Bobby Boucher, you’re not hitting,” Abram told reporters. So he’s married to Lady Gregg Williams. Good to know.
Abram’s wife has a point…to a point. Adam Sandler’s Waterboy would incur 60 yards of penalties per week and give most of his paycheck back to the league in fines in today’s NFL. Abram emphasized at both the combine and Senior Bowl (where he gave interviews but did not compete due to a shoulder injury) that he must both rein in the old ultraviolence and become a more technically sound tackler: Abram whiffed in the open field too often when going for the Mortal Kombat fatalities.
Abram played quarterback in high school and has a cerebral approach to the game—at least until the emotions kick in. He has great play-diagnosis skills and tremendous closing speed. He can play anywhere from free safety to the box to package edge-rusher. He’s not quite Derwin James, but he can be used the same way and have nearly the same impact.
The Raiders, who added Lamarcus Joyner in free agency but are one of many teams that may use three safeties in a “heavy dime” package, will have a great all-purpose safety once Abram becomes more of a football player and less of a foosball player.
28. Los Angeles Chargers
Jerry Tillery, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame
Strengths: Size-athleticism package
Remember the prospect who was asked to get into a staring contest with a coach for some reason during his combine interview? That was Tillery.
For the record, the coach won.
"I wear contacts, so my eyes dry pretty quickly," Tillery explained.
If some team passed on Tillery because of contact lenses, it deserves to go 0-16 for the next four years.
Tillery is also a world traveler who has visited South Africa and Singapore, speaks a little Japanese and has an intellectual curiosity that extends well beyond football.
If some team passed on Tillery because of that, it deserves to go 0-16 for the next 10 years.
Tillery is huge, quick and slippery to block. He's able to beat offensive linemen to their inside shoulder or use a windmilling swim move to keep them from latching on. He has dominant stretches, but there are also times when he is sluggish and easy to control. Tillery was playing through a labrum injury in 2018, which may explain the inconsistency. If some team passed on him because of that…you get the idea.
The Chargers have needed a replacement for Brandon Mebane for years. Tillery should make an immediate impact as a 20- or 30-snap wave defender while coaches fine-tune his game. But he should overtake the 34-year old Mebane by the second half of the season and upgrade a Chargers defense that opponents (read: the Patriots) ran right through last year.
Tillery has tremendous upside. He'll be a winner off the field and in the locker room, as well. Unless he's challenged to a staring contest, that is.
29. Seattle Seahawks (via KC)
L.J. Collier, Defensive End, TCU
Strengths: Size, power, orneriness
Collier recorded just six sacks last season and 14.5 in three campaigns as a regular for the Horned Frogs, but he left a trail of victims in his wake during Senior Bowl pit drills. Collier is stout, powerful and more athletic than he looks, with the quickness to work some inside-out moves on blockers and enough speed to be a factor in open-field pursuit. His eagerness to battle blockers past the whistle is evident on tape.
Collier projects as a productive starter at left end, where he can produce clean-up and hustle sacks while controlling the point of attack and wearing down his blocker.
The Seahawks lost 13 of last year’s 43 sacks in this week’s Frank Clark trade. Collier feels like a reach here—I have lots of edge-rushers ranked ahead of him—but he’s a system fit for a team that’s adept at moving defensive linemen all over the front.
Collier provides a young, inexpensive alternative for Clark. But don’t call him a replacement.
30. New York Giants (via SEA from GB Through NO)
Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Strengths: Technique, athleticism, experience
Weaknesses: Run support
Baker was a two-year starter and a three-year regular in the SEC. He has all the cornerback tools—quickness, long speed, closing speed, good hips and feet, adequate size—and excels at getting position on his receiver to contest catches. He has the physicality for press coverage but gets washed out too often in run support, allowing receivers to carry him 20 yards downfield on sweeps to his side.
Baker is a safe pick. He can start in the NFL and cover most receivers. Plus, the Giants have almost no one at cornerback other than Janoris Jenkins, so trading up to take arguably the best cornerback on the board was, by far, the most logical thing they have done all night.
31. Atlanta Falcons (via LA Rams)
Kaleb McGary, Tackle, Washington
Strengths: Intangibles, size, athleticism
“It’s basically a country song. So get ready.”
That’s how McGary, speaking at the combine, began his story of the adversity he faced in high school and his early college seasons, a tale of farm foreclosure, family illness, hoarder grandparents and a fire that may have ended in tragedy had it not ignited the ammunition stored in a trailer and awoken the family.
“My girlfriend broke up with me, my dog died...” McGary said at one point in the tale, and he paused. I think he was riffing on the “country song” cliche and waiting for a laugh. No one in the press pool laughed or asked a follow-up question because we weren’t sure if he was kidding. It was that kind of story. (Read Sam Farmer’s L.A. Times profile of McGary for more details.)
Sometimes, both writers and NFL evaluators can get carried away with the “he’s overcome adversity” angle and overrate a player because of his personal history. But you know what? I want McGary on my team because of what he endured and how he came out of it with determination, grace and good humor. Plus, he’s 6’7”, 317 pounds, and can play.
In fact, I like McGary so much that I’ll go easy on the Falcons for trading up to select him when they have critical defensive needs that must be addressed and higher-upside line prospects are still on the board.
But not too easy.
32. New England Patriots
N’Keal Harry, Wide Receiver, Arizona State
They’re mighty! They’re fascinating! They’re flawed! Get ready, true believers: Here’s the skinny on a member of the 2019 Draft Class Legion of Wide Receiver Superheroes!
Superpowers: Exceptional precision, determination.
One Weakness: No actual superpowers
Superhero Comparison: Hawkeye
Physically, Hawkeye has no business being one of the Avengers. But he gets to hang out with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (assuming Jeremy Renner likes the movie script) because of his elite dedication to his craft and willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed.
NFL Comparison: Allen Robinson
Secret Superhero File
Harry is a fine route-runner and nasty blocker who works the middle of the field well, catches the ball in tight spots, outmuscles his defender for contested grabs and finds ways to gain yards after contact. He could become Anquan Boldin if he finds the speed and quickness to match his technique and tenacity in the NFL.
It’s been a while since the Patriots selected a wide receiver early in the draft, probably because selecting wide receivers early in the draft (Chad Jackson, Aaron Dobson) was the one thing the franchise was truly terrible at doing. But the Patriots typically whiffed by reaching for speed guys who didn’t really fit their system.
Harry is not that kind of receiver. He’ll gobble up catches as an underneath possession receiver who adds a red-zone dimension because of his contested-catch capability. That’s precisely the sort of receiver that Tom Brady turns into a star.