2019 Draft: Reviewing Every NFL Team's Best Value Selection
In a salary-cap league, hitting on draft picks with cheap, fixed contracts is important to building a competitive roster. Furthermore, finding players throughout all rounds of the draft who can outproduce their draft slots and provide extra value is what separates the best teams from the pack.
The 2013 Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, for example, were led by a third-round quarterback in Russell Wilson, a fifth-round cornerback in Richard Sherman and a second-round linebacker in Bobby Wagner all on their rookie deals. All of those players outplayed their draft slots and propelled the Seahawks to a championship and another Super Bowl appearance the following year.
Some teams can also find their best value in an elite talent who fell further in the first round than he should have. Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, for instance, was a first-round pick in 2017 but played phenomenally as a rookie and has already ascended into the upper echelon of NFL cornerbacks. While first-round picks should be expected to perform, it is rare that they immediately turn into stars.
On Sunday, I wrote about the best value picks of the draft. Those appear here as well as the best value selections for the rest of the 32 teams.
AFC East: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Patriots
NFC East: Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Redskins
AFC North: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers
NFC North: Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings
AFC South: Colts, Jaguars, Texans, Titans
NFC South: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints
AFC West: Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders
NFC West: 49ers, Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks
Arizona Cardinals: Hakeem Butler, WR, 103rd Overall
Before the third day of the draft kicked off, wide receiver Hakeem Butler's fall through the draft was one of the key storylines. Many analysts viewed Butler as one of the best receivers in the class, and some, like NBC's Josh Norris, even went as far as to say he was best in class.
The hype was warranted, too. Though he did not break out statistically until his redshirt junior season at Iowa State, Butler is a 6'5", 237-pound athletic marvel. Not only did he fly with a 4.48s 40-yard dash and 128-inch broad jump, but his nearly 84-inch wingspan is the widest recorded wingspan among wide receivers since at least 1999. To say Butler is a rare physical talent would be an understatement.
Arizona put Butler's perplexing fall to an end with the first pick of the fourth round. Pairing him with two other rookie wide receivers in Andy Isabella (62nd overall) and KeeSean Johnson (174th overall), the Cardinals have completely retooled their wide receiving corps.
Among this new group of receivers, Butler will be the designated "big man" who can flex between the slot and X position, similar to former Saints receiver Marques Colston.
Atlanta Falcons: Jordan Miller, CB, 172nd Overall
One of the best strategies on Day 3 of the draft is to take premier athletes. It is not uncommon for great athletes to be misused or, for whatever reason, underproduce in college, only to find their groove in the pros. Since head coach Dan Quinn's arrival in 2015, the Falcons have been known to roll the dice on defensive athletes like Grady Jarrett and Foyesade Oluokun.
Cornerback Jordan Miller out of Washington could be the next athlete to find his footing in the NFL. While Miller managed to grab six interceptions over his four-year college career, he only defended 11 additional passes. Many of the other top cornerbacks in the class, such as Byron Murphy and Joejuan Williams, topped 11 passes defended last year alone.
However, his athletic profile could be enough for Quinn to mold him into a capable player. At 6'0" and 186 pounds, Miller ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash and notched 125 inches in the broad jump. Both marks cleared the 50th percentile among cornerbacks since 1999.
Baltimore Ravens: Justice Hill, RB, 113th Overall
Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill torched the NFL combine in February. Though his 5'10" and 198-pound frame is slight for a running back, Hill put up some of the best raw numbers among running backs in this class. His 4.40-second 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical jump and 130-inch broad jump were all tops among this year's running backs as well as in the 93rd percentile or above since 1999.
He was also a bell cow in college despite his size. Hill led the Big 12 in touches and yards from scrimmage in 2017, in addition to a conference-best 15 rushing touchdowns.
Caused by the offense taking a step back in 2018 without quarterback Mason Rudolph as well as a minor late-season rib injury, Hill saw his volume numbers take a hit in 2018. However, Hill posted a career-high 5.9 yards per attempt. Had the offense as a whole been more functional, Hill would have shined more than he did.
Now alongside a dangerous running quarterback in Lamar Jackson, Hill should get plenty of chances to showcase his dynamic athleticism. The combination of those two, especially as a change of pace to starting running back Mark Ingram II's more rugged rushing style, will be a problem for the rest of the AFC North.
Buffalo Bills: Ed Oliver, DL, 9th Overall
Top-10 picks do not normally provide enough value for a list like this one, but Houston's Ed Oliver is a rare case. Prior to the 2018 college football season, Oliver was a projected top-three pick, potentially even first. He was a former 5-star high school recruit who had been demonizing the AAC with quickness and power.
For Oliver's final season at Houston, however, he was moved away from his natural 3-tech position to more of a 0-tech position, similar to what you would expect of Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison or former Steelers defensive tackle Casey Hampton. Both of those players are (or were, in Hampton's case) 320-plus pounds, whereas Oliver weighed in at 287 pounds at the combine.
The switch hurt Oliver's ability to produce as a junior, and he notched a career-low three sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss.
To the Bills' fortune, the misleading dip in production caused Oliver to tumble in the draft. Oliver should have been a top-five player in this class. Instead, head coach Sean McDermott gets his cornerstone defensive piece at a discount.
Carolina Panthers: Brian Burns, DE, 16th Overall
Defensive end was the Carolina Panthers' most glaring need this offseason. Sitting in the middle of the first round, the Panthers could have easily missed out on an elite pass-rusher, but they lucked out as Florida State's Brian Burns tumbled down the board.
Burns is one of the class' elite athletes. As one of the only four players to pass Justis Mosqueda's Force Players filter, he solidified himself as one of the best bets at the position. Football Outsiders' SackSEER formula, which accounts for production and projected draft spot in addition to athleticism, was also favorable to Burns, identifying him as the top pass-rusher in the class.
With a handful of teams in need of help on the edge—such as the Raiders, Jaguars and Bills—positioned in front of them, the Panthers were fortunate to secure one of the best values in the class.
Chicago Bears: Riley Ridley, WR, 126th Overall
The Chicago Bears nabbed Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley after a run at the position from the middle of the second round through the third round. Ridley ended up as the 15th receiver drafted, well below where many assumed he would go.
Per Bob McGinn, Ridley was the sixth-ranked wide receiver in the class by a poll of executives and scouts around the league. Additionally, Draft Scout projected him as the eighth receiver in the class and that he would not slip past the third round. Both sources, particularly McGinn, are plugged in with the league, so for Ridley to go roughly twice as late as he was projected to is quite a surprise.
Though Ridley did not produce with great volume in college or test well at the combine, his draw has always been the film. He is a sharp, versatile route-runner who has the tools to get open in any scheme. Under a creative offensive mind in head coach Matt Nagy, Ridley's savvy may finally be converted into consistent production.
Cincinnati Bengals: Jordan Brown, CB, 223rd Overall
According to the consensus draft board via The Athletic's Arif Hasan, the Bengals got South Dakota State cornerback Jordan Brown at a slight discount. Brown was listed as the 201st prospect on the consensus board, yet Cincinnati managed to get him nearly a full round later.
Brown has an impressive profile that may lend to him being the unlikely small-school, late-round success story. With eight career interceptions, he has as many or more than other FBS senior cornerbacks such as Rock Ya-Sin (2), Lonnie Johnson (1) and Amani Oruwariye (8).
Brown also put together a solid combine performance. His 4.51-second 40-yard dash was average, but a 39.5-inch vertical jump and 128-inch broad jump paint Brown as an explosive player.
It would be unrealistic to say Brown will blossom into a star, but the Bengals are willing to develop cornerbacks. Brown’s profile suggests he could be a hidden gem they groom into a legit contributor down the road.
Cleveland Browns: Greedy Williams, CB, 46th Overall
Cornerbacks who thrive in man coverage are more valuable than their zone-dependent counterparts because they allow for more schematic flexibility. LSU's Greedy Williams is the best man coverage cornerback in this class. Getting the most valuable cornerback in the draft midway through the second round is a steal.
Williams is a long, smooth corner with downfield speed and a knack for finding the ball. He regularly shut down the SEC's best wide receivers, most notably Ole Miss' D.K. Metcalf during their 2018 matchup. In just two seasons of play, Williams intercepted eight passes and defended another 19.
Cleveland will pair Williams across from Denzel Ward, the No. 4 overall pick from last year who had three interceptions and 11 passes defended as a rookie. It will not be long before the Browns' young cornerback duo becomes a dominant unit.
Dallas Cowboys: Mike Weber, RB, 218th Overall
It is not uncommon for quality players at elite programs to be overshadowed by superior talents and get pushed down in the draft. Running backs, in particular, can be susceptible to this because there are only so many carries to go around, so more dynamic players tend to take precedent. Ohio State's Mike Weber was a victim of this relationship, as J.K. Dobbins started to outshine him in 2017.
Dobbins is an NFL player in his own right and does not necessarily take away from Weber. Weber maintained a solid 5.9 yards-per-carry average through three active seasons at Ohio State. He also scored 24 rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.
Weber plays a downhill style of ball. His compact 5'10", 211-pound frame and 4.47-second 40-yard dash make him a punishing runner between the tackles once he stamps his foot in the ground and barrels down the field. In a heavy zone-running scheme in Dallas, Weber should make for an effective, cheap backup to Ezekiel Elliott.
Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, 42nd Overall
The assumption heading into the weekend was that the Denver Broncos would take Missouri quarterback Drew Lock with the 10th overall pick. Veteran and current starter Joe Flacco was likely not seen as the long-term answer, and general manager John Elway had been linked to Lock all throughout the draft process. His strong-armed, confident play style fit Elway's prototype to a T.
Instead, the Broncos traded down to the 20th pick and took Iowa tight end Noah Fant. They then selected Kansas State offensive tackle Dalton Risner with their next pick at 41st overall. It was not until they traded up for the 42nd pick, jumping potential suitors for Lock in the Green Bay Packers, that they picked their quarterback of the future.
For Denver to get their quarterback a full round later than many expected them to is a clear win. Lock may not be the same caliber of prospect as Murray and Haskins, but the Broncos taking a chance on him in the second round is great value.
Detroit Lions: Amani Oruwariye, CB, 146th Overall
The Detroit Lions drafted Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye 86 picks later than the 60th overall slot he was valued at, per Arif Hasan's consensus board. Of course, there may have been unreported off-field reasons that could explain Oruwariye's fall, but there is no denying the Lions got a bargain on his talent.
Oruwariye was a standout at the Senior Bowl in late January. He proved to be one of the most fluid, capable cornerbacks at the event alongside Temple's Rock Ya-Sin. Few cornerbacks could match how often he was contesting receivers at the catch point. Oruwariye also proved his knack for finding the ball during his final two seasons in college, as he totaled seven interceptions along with 18 passes defended.
Between his production, passable athletic profile and consensus ranking as a top-60 player, it is baffling that Oruwariye fell to the fifth round. With how desperate the Lions were to find an answer across from Darius Slay, this may be the godsend they needed.
Green Bay Packers: Dexter Williams, RB, 194th Overall
Milking production out of athletic late-round or undrafted running backs is a Green Bay Packers special. James Starks (sixth round), Aaron Jones (fifth round) and Ryan Grant (undrafted and then traded to Green Bay) come to mind as key contributors the Packers have found without a premium draft pick in the past decade or so. Notre Dame's Dexter Williams looks to be the next man up.
Though he did not ever crack 1,000 rushing yards in a season and only has 257 career carries to his name, Williams sports the type of physical profile the Packers know how to maximize. At a sturdy 5'11", 212 pounds, Williams ran a 4.16-second short shuttle (71st percentile) and nearly leaped out of the building with a 130-inch broad jump (96th percentile) at the NFL combine. His 4.57 40-yard dash (47th percentile) and 7.00-second three-cone drill (59th percentile) were not as stunning, but they serve as fine complements to his other traits.
It would not be unlike the Packers to slowly work Williams into the lineup as the season progresses.
Houston Texans: Charles Omenihu, DE, 161st Overall
In a loaded pass-rusher class this year, a handful of prospects were bound to fall further than they would normally. Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu may have taken the most extreme slide of all. He was expected to be a top-100 pick but missed out on that range by almost two full rounds.
Production was not a concern for Omenihu, as he posted career highs in 2018 with 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks, both of which led the Longhorns defense. Likewise, Omenihu is an above-average athlete for a 6'5", 280-pound defensive lineman. He posted a 36.5-inch vertical jump, 115-inch broad jump and a 4.36-second short shuttle, all of which ranked in the 70th percentile or better among defensive linemen since 1999.
Checking both of those boxes while hailing from a major program like Texas and still tumbling down the draft board is confusing.
The Texans should be happy they got Omenihu at such a discount. He can reanimate the hybrid tackle/end archetype the Texans once had in Lamarr Houston.
Indianapolis Colts: Rock Ya-Sin, CB, 34th Overall
Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin was not a value pick in a vacuum, but the way in which the Colts acquired him tacks on extra value. The Colts originally held the 26th pick before trading it to the Washington Redskins for the 46th overall pick and a 2020 second-round pick. Since they already held 34th overall pick via the Sam Darnold trade from last year's draft, the Colts had no issue moving down, picking up an extra pick next year and still drafting a player they needed.
Ya-Sin also signals a change to defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus' scheme. The Colts ran the most zone coverage in the league last year, particularly two-deep safety coverages such as Cover 2 and Cover 4. Aside from Pierre Desir, none of the cornerbacks on the roster could run or keep up with NFL wide receivers, so Eberflus had to resort to conservative zones. Ya-Sin, conversely, is a press-man cornerback unlike anyone else on the Colts roster.
In all, the Colts moved back to stockpile draft value and still drafted a player who will change the structure of their defense entirely. That may not be a value pick in the traditional sense, but the Colts are surely happy with the way it worked out.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor, OT, 35th Overall
In late March, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller mocked Florida right tackle Jawaan Taylor to the Jaguars at seventh overall. Miller was right that Taylor would be a Jaguar, but they got him a round later than expected.
Taylor was 25th on Miller's final big board, 14th on NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah's and 22nd on NBC's Josh Norris'. Across the media spectrum, Taylor was regarded as a first-round talent and one of the best tackles in the class, yet he slipped to the second round and was the fifth tackle to be drafted.
Some speculate his fall had to do with some knee issues he faced in college, but with as dominant as his tape was, it is a mystery that 34 picks went by before a team felt comfortable taking a chance on a potentially elite offensive tackle.
Right tackles are as important as ever in today's NFL, and in a division with pass-rushers who traditionally play to that side such as Cameron Wake, J.J. Watt and Justin Houston, the Jaguars are lucky Taylor fell into their lap.
Kansas City Chiefs: Juan Thornhill, DB, 63rd Overall
The Kansas City Chiefs entered draft weekend with one of the worst secondaries in the league. Even with cornerback Kendall Fuller and newly signed safety Tyrann Mathieu buoying the unit, the Chiefs' secondary had lost a handful of players, namely Eric Berry and Steven Nelson, and had yet to replace all of them. Virginia defensive back Juan Thornhill fills a number of vacancies at once.
Thornhill played both cornerback and safety in college. From the slot to the boundary, or split-field zones to playing center fielder as a single-high safety, he played all around the defense and terrorized opposing quarterbacks. In three seasons as a starter, Thornhill defended 26 passes and intercepted 13, four of which he snagged in his three appearances against Duke's Daniel Jones. As if being a position-fluid ball hawk were not enticing enough, Thornhill also tore up the combine in similar fashion to Cowboys defensive back Byron Jones.
Kansas City landed Thornhill as the 14th defensive back off the board behind eight cornerbacks and five safeties. Ten of those defensive backs were selected in the second round, as well. For the Chiefs to draft a player as versatile, productive and athletic as Thornhill after the position had been pillaged earlier in the round is impressive.
Los Angeles Chargers: Jerry Tillery, DT, 28th Overall
Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery had the size, athleticism and production of a player deserving of a top-15 pick. However, the surgery he underwent in March for a torn labrum likely scared a number of teams off and led to Tillery slipping in the first round.
At 6'6", 295 pounds, Tillery ran a 4.33-second short shuttle and cleared 115 inches in the broad jump at the NFL combine. Both marks scored in the 70th percentile or better, and while the rest of his testing was not quite as impressive, Tillery proved to be a plenty capable athlete among his peers.
Where Tillery set himself apart was in the box score. He accounted for 11.5 sacks across his final two seasons at Notre Dame, more than those of Ed Oliver (8.5), Christian Wilkins (10.5) and Jeffery Simmons (7), all drafted before Tillery.
Pairing a pass-rushing mismatch such as Tillery next to a stout Brandon Mebane along the the interior completes an already fearsome Chargers defensive line.
Los Angeles Rams: Darrell Henderson, RB, 70th Overall
Alabama's Josh Jacobs took control of the No. 1 running back spot for most media members by mid-January and never let go of it. He was, to no surprise, the first back off the board and the only one to go in the first round. Memphis' Darrell Henderson, however, was a popular choice as the runner-up to Jacobs for best in class.
Henderson is an unusually explosive runner. His 27 20-plus-yard runs in 2018 were the most of anyone in the nation, as were his 10 50-plus-yard runs. Trailing only Clemson's Travis Etienne, Henderson also tied for second in rushing touchdowns with 22. If the defense gave Henderson an inch, he took a mile.
His rare explosive ability should have warranted an earlier pick, but teams allowed him to fall. Granted, only one other running back, Miles Sanders, was selected between Jacobs and Henderson, but that no team was compelled to make a move for him before the third round is a surprise. With Henderson, the Rams now have a backup who can match Todd Gurley's dynamic rushing style.
Miami Dolphins: Isaiah Prince, OL, 202nd Overall
Stockpiling offensive linemen at the beginning of a rebuild is the right move for the Miami Dolphins. Finding one of the best athletes at the position late in the draft with Ohio State's Isaiah Prince makes the strategy even better.
Prince knocked the NFL combine out of the park in two of the most important tests for offensive linemen with a 5.09-second 40-yard dash and a 115-inch broad jump. Long speed and a forward leap may not seem like necessary skills for an offensive lineman, but they help showcase how well they can get off the snap, move downhill and explode into defenders at the point of contact.
He will need time to develop, but the Dolphins have plenty of time on their hands. Prince has the right athletic tools to bloom into a force up front in Miami.
Minnesota Vikings: Kris Boyd, CB, 217th Overall
There was no chance a Mike Zimmer-coached team would spend 12 draft picks without selecting at least one cornerback. Both during Zimmer's days as the Bengals defensive coordinator and the Vikings head coach, his teams have always hoarded cornerbacks. While it took them until the seventh round to finally pick one, Texas' Kris Boyd may prove to be a bargain.
Boyd was perceived by many to be a top-100 pick. Though inconsistent during his time at Texas, Boyd's feistiness and tools should have coaches believing they can mold into something more. During his final two seasons at Texas, he only picked off two passes but was credited with 30 passes defended.
Under an elite defensive back developer in Zimmer, Boyd has a chance to make good on his potential in the NFL. The Vikings' cornerback room is crowded, but that only serves to grant Boyd the time he needs to hone his skills. He should develop into a solid rotational cornerback in this environment, which is more than anyone should expect of a seventh-round pick.
New England Patriots: Chase Winovich, DE, 77th Overall
In drafting Michigan's Chase Winovich, the Patriots got one of the last defensive ends in this year's class who could be reasonably expected to start as a rookie. The string of Jaylon Ferguson, Oshane Ximines and Maxx Crosby that followed Winovich, for example, project more as role players than potential starters in 2019.
What boosts Winovich to that status is his athleticism. Per Bleacher Report's Justis Mosqueda, he is one of four Force Players in this class. Force Players, in short, is an athleticism filter that helps identify players who should stand out above their less athletic peers drafted around the same range. Winovich joins Brian Burns, Montez Sweat and Ben Banogu in that elite group this year.
If there is any defensive coach who can convert premier athleticism into production right away, it is Bill Belichick. He is the best in the league at allowing players to maximize their best traits. Belichick should have no issue making use of Winovich's elite athleticism as a pass-rusher.
New Orleans Saints: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, 105th Overall
Despite being strapped for draft capital, the New Orleans Saints managed to find multiple starters. In addition to center Erik McCoy in the second round, New Orleans got a steal on Florida defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
Gardner-Johnson's two defining traits are range and versatility. If there were any two traits every team ought to desire in a safety nowadays, it would be those two because of how important defending the pass is. Gardner-Johnson can play in the back end as a free safety as well as walk down to the slot and cover man-to-man.
Though he may not start right away, he provides the Saints with a high-end third safety as a rookie. With many defenses slowly trending toward featuring three safeties instead of a slot cornerback in "big nickel" packages, Gardner-Johnson may even be a regular contributor right away. He also grants the Saints flexibility to allow either of their starting safeties to walk when their contracts expire in the coming offseasons.
New York Giants: Julian Love, CB, 108th Overall
Watching the Giants burn two first-round picks on an unproductive quarterback they believe may sit for three years and a run-stopping defensive tackle felt like a rerun of a 1979 draft. Surprisingly, however, general manager Dave Gettleman nailed the rest of the draft. No player represents the value he found in the middle and late rounds better than Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love.
A two-year starter in college, Love defended a whopping 36 passes in that time frame. He only finished the play with an interception four times, but that Love could consistently find himself near the ball and disrupt the catch point is a testament to how well he puts himself in position to succeed. Love did so in part because of his flexibility, showcased by the 6.72-second three-cone drill he ran at the NFL combine.
Cornerbacks with Love's production and flexibility do not often fall in the draft. Love, in particular, was projected by many to be taken somewhere in the second round, not at the top of the fourth. Along with first-round pick Deandre Baker, the Giants may have netted themselves two future starting cornerbacks in this class.
New York Jets: Jachai Polite, DE, 68th Overall
Every draft cycle features a handful of players who were deemed first-round picks when film and statistics were the only resource, only for them to go on to tank the offseason circuit. Florida defensive end Jachai Polite, a dominant force in the SEC, struggled to get through the draft process, and his draft stock took a hit.
At the NFL combine, Polite ran a disappointing 4.84-second 40-yard dash and only reached 32 inches in the vertical jump. Polite cut his performance short, citing a hamstring injury that scouts did not seem to buy. What hurt him the most was not that he posted poor testing numbers, but that he so clearly looked more athletic on film than he proved at the combine. On film, Polite is an explosive, surprisingly flexible pass-rusher, but the testing would not tell you that.
By taking the chance on Polite when many wouldn't, the Jets are hoping his offseason struggles were an aberration. If Polite proves to be the player he was at Florida, not the one who disappointed at the combine, then New York landed itself a first-round talent for cheap.
Oakland Raiders: Foster Moreau, TE, 137th Overall
The Oakland Raiders' first four picks in Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, Johnathan Abram and Trayvon Mullen were all reaches on good but overvalued players. It was not until Day 3 of the draft that rookie general manager Mike Mayock started to find value. From the perspective of investment versus potential rewards, LSU tight end Foster Moreau was Mayock's best selection.
As result of LSU's throwback pro-style offense, Moreau did not often get to showcase his modern skill set. Moreau is an athletic player who can comfortably bounce between a traditional attached alignment and the slot, where many of the league's best tight ends regularly play. He is at his best when he can play in space and serve as a mismatch nightmare, but the Tigers mostly confined him to blocking duties.
Moreau's potential is yet to be realized. Aside from the top tier of Iowa's T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant, Moreau has as much potential as any tight end in the class. That the Raiders got him in the fourth round as the 10th tight end off the board is a steal.
Philadelphia Eagles: Andre Dillard, OT, 22nd Overall
On paper, trading up three picks to secure an offensive tackle who likely won't play as a rookie doesn't sound like a value pick, but it is for the Eagles in this instance. Washington State left tackle Andre Dillard was the right, even if boring, pick.
Current left tackle Jason Peters is set to retire, or at least leave Philadelphia, following the 2019 season. Additionally, quarterback Carson Wentz has proved to be injury-prone (including an ACL tear in 2017), dating back to his college days. Had the Eagles went into the 2020 offseason without a good contingency plan to replace their left tackle and keep Wentz upright, they would have risked overpaying or missing out on the position entirely.
By drafting Dillard, the Eagles have a high-end swing tackle right now and a left tackle for the next decade. They have once again proved that protecting and enabling Wentz is their top priority, as it should be.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Isaiah Buggs, DL, 192nd Overall
The Pittsburgh Steelers are known for drafting and developing wide receivers, but they are quietly one of the better teams at grooming defensive line talent. They drafted and developed their starting three of Cameron Heyward, Javon Hargrave and Stephon Tuitt.
Alabama's Isaiah Buggs may not have warranted as high a pick as those three, but he has the makings to be the next lineman the Steelers turn into a contributor.
Buggs did not break out until his senior season, but he made a mark on the SEC when he did. He picked up 9.5 sacks in 2018, the most of any defensive tackle in the conference. Buggs' 13.5 tackles for loss were also second-most on the team, trailing only those of third overall pick Quinnen Williams.
It may take a few years for Buggs to find his groove like it did in college, but he's proved he can be a disruptive force up front. That it took so long for him to break out likely hurt his prospects, even despite how well he played as a senior. Considering he is a late-round pick and should not be forced into significant snaps right away, Buggs should get the time and coaching he needs to blossom into a solid contributor down the line.
San Francisco 49ers: Kaden Smith, TE, 176th Overall
Stanford and Notre Dame have been vying for the title of Tight End University for decades, but the Cardinal get the edge this year with Kaden Smith.
With inconsistent quarterback play at Stanford over the past two seasons, production did not come easy for Smith. He managed 70 catches for 1,049 yards and seven touchdowns in two seasons, but his strong, controlled presence at the catch point could have netted him much more.
Smith is no threat to supplant George Kittle as the starting tight end, but head coach Kyle Shanahan uses multiple tight ends at one of the highest rates in the league. As a second tight end, Smith's durable, reliable play style is a nice complement to Kittle's more dynamic receiving ability.
Seattle Seahawks: D.K. Metcalf, WR, 64th Overall
D.K. Metcalf was a popular choice atop wide receiver rankings throughout the draft season. Many analysts could not resist his rare blend of size, speed and power. Though not as polished a player, Metcalf's physical profile is reminiscent of top-flight X wide receivers such as Julio Jones and Josh Gordon.
The NFL, however, passed on Metcalf's skill set until the end of the second round. Some teams may have knocked him for his injury history (including a season-ending neck injury last year), while others may have been worried he never outproduced teammates A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge. Metcalf's dismal agility testing at the combine probably took him off the board for a handful of other teams, as well.
As a result of his incomplete profile, Metcalf slipped to the Seahawks. Given his prowess as a vertical threat, pairing him with quarterback Russell Wilson, one of the better deep passers in the league, gives Metcalf the perfect opportunity to outshine his draft slot.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anthony Nelson, DE, 107th Overall
It is difficult to find value in a Buccaneers draft class that features a linebacker at fifth overall followed by a string of arguable reaches in the secondary. To be fair, the Buccaneers desperately needed help at linebacker and all over the secondary, but that does not mean they got proper value for the players they picked at those positions.
In the absence of a legitimate value pick, Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson is the best the Buccaneers did at taking a player at his perceived price. Nelson increased his tackles for loss and sack numbers with each passing season, going from eight tackles for loss and six sacks as a freshman to 13.5 and 9.5, respectively, as a junior. He also finished the draft cycle in style with a dominant combine performance, clearing at least the 74th percentile in every test aside from the bench press.
The Bucs could have stood to draft a defensive end earlier than they did, but getting Nelson at the top of the fourth round is a nice consolation.
Tennessee Titans: A.J. Brown, WR, 51st Overall
In a polarizing wide receiver class, Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown felt like the most universally agreed upon. Brown was widely seen as a very good, though not elite, player deserving of a first-round selection, and some even preferred him as a safer alternative to his teammate D.K. Metcalf.
Brown was the most productive of the three Ole Miss wide receivers between himself, Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge. He caught 160 passes for 2,572 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons, leading the SEC in receiving yards in each season.
Though not dominant in any one area, Brown is as well-rounded as they come. Both in the slot and on the outside, he showed off smooth route running, soft hands and a slippery run-after-catch sequence. Brown will have no issue fitting into any role the Titans need him to and will prove to be a steal in the second round.
Washington Redskins: Dwayne Haskins, QB, 15th Overall
Securing a top-tier quarterback prospect often requires a trade-up nowadays. All six quarterbacks selected in the first round in the 2016 and 2017 drafts as well as four of the five selected in last year's draft (sans Baker Mayfield), were selected after a trade-up. The Washington Redskins, on the other hand, landed their quarterback of the future without budging from their 15th overall position.
Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins is the most pro-ready quarterback in the class. The way in which Urban Meyer and Ryan Day opened up the passing offense for Haskins as compared to J.T. Barrett was a testament to how smart he is for a young signal-caller. He proved he could be efficient by maintaining 9.1 yards per attempt and a 70 percent completion rate while still being aggressive enough to throw 50 touchdowns.
The Redskins may have taken a risk by not trading up to make sure they got their guy, but fortune was in their favor on draft night. Now they have a franchise quarterback and, since they did not have to trade anything, future assets to build around him in next year's draft.
Historical combine info via Mockdraftable.