Photoshop courtesy of Sports Illustrated (@SINow).
The greatest reality show on television saw some twists, turns, triumphs, and troughs for NFL teams and their fans on day one. We were working diligently to push out artwork with the players and their new teams in real-time, so please go back and check out it if you're so inclined, as they make great Twitter profile banners.
Rather than clog the timeline up with thoughts and observations, I wanted to compile all of my takeaways here.
While the Browns selection of Baker Mayfield over Sam Darnold may raise some eyebrows, the Browns absolutely nailed it. Mayfield was our top-rated QB (85 Overall Grade), but it was more than what he could do on the field that makes this the right choice. If there was ever a franchise that needs a culture change and a win-at-all-costs mentality, it's the Browns, and Mayfield brings that in droves. Just ask anyone who has played with him or anyone who has played against him and they'll tell you. Darnold and Allen may have had more alluring raw material for a coach to mold, but this isn't the franchise that can afford to gamble on those types. Pairing Baker with our true top cover CB in Denzel Ward gives them two cornerstone players at premium positions to build the offense and defense around. The interest in Ward was very strong early in the process, and I should have trusted my gut in forecasting Ward to Cleveland.
The first true eyebrow-raiser for me was the 49ers selection of OT Mike McGlinchey. Big Mike is an outstanding prospect and I think he will be a terrific player, but with Joe Staley recently signing a contract extension and Trenton Brown having a very good first season under Kyle Shanahan, I just didn't see tackle being a top-10 priority. Actually, I was of the thought that as a former all-pro safety calling the shots, John Lynch would have fallen in love with Minkah Fitzpatrick as the true center fielder in Robert Saleh's defense. I have read the reports that the 49ers are shopping Brown today, which makes the pick more logical, but it certainly was a surprise. McGlinchey is a better scheme fit for the type of offense Shanahan wants to run and should be able to hit the second level quicker than Brown, which is good news for Jerick McKinnon.
The next surprise that had me shook was the fall of Derwin James. We gave James the same grade as Jamal Adams, who went 4th overall in last year's draft, and I was put-money-down certain that the Bucs would pull the trigger on James at 12 to give them a much-needed alpha in the secondary. Vita Vea is a good hole clogger and should take a ton of pressure off of Gerald McCoy, so I get the logic behind the pick, but James is more of a playmaker. When the Redskins passed on the chance to get the best thing they've had at safety since Sean Taylor, I was floored again. James lands with Gus Bradley in Los Angeles, who will excel as a strong safety in the Kam Chancellor role in the single-high cover three defense that the Chargers employ.
The Marcus Davenport Haters Will Be Furious!
What happened to all the sources and rumors adamant that the Saints were going to trade up for Lamar Jackson? I admit, I totally took the bait. In fact, I had a "Welcome to New Orleans, Lamar Jackson" tweet and graphic all fired up and ready to send once I heard the trade announced. Here comes an unpopular opinion: I LOVE the Marcus Davenport selection by the Saints. I don't love that they gave up a future first-rounder for him, but figuring that the pick will probably be in the late 20s/early 30s next year, it makes it an easier pill to swallow. So many on #DraftTwitter hate Marcus Davenport, and I just don't get it. I watched every game he played at UTSA this season for my Optimum Scouting, and he absolutely stole the show every single time he hit the field, and then shined again competing against top-flight talent at the Senior Bowl. He's a perfect book end to Cameron Jordan and is the pass rusher they've been thirsting for for quite some time.
Cowboys Like to Keep Their Trainers Busy
What's with the Cowboys taking linebackers with medical red flags? It wasn't surprising that Dem Boyz took LVE, since there were a lot of whispers about it before the draft (I'm still pissed I changed my mock at the last second from LVE), but the fact that they took a player who has to make 10+ high-impact collisions a game with cervical neck issues AFTER taking a player with a busted knee a couple years ago in Jaylon Smith is strange. Smith can still possibly turn into an impactful starter, but he is nowhere near the guy he was at Notre Dame, and you have to wonder how LVE will hold up over time.
New England Bulldogs
The Patriots harvested from the Athens crop not once, but twice yesterday, selecting Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel with their 23rd and 31st picks. Wynn makes total sense and I'm irked I didn't connect the dots earlier. The Patriots don't mind stumpier offensive linemen (Shaq Mason, for example), and Wynn brings some mauler mentality to the left tackle spot to open up some holes for his college teammate Sony Michel. Michel is a Patriots-type back, but did have some ball security issues that he will need to clean up if he is going to play for Bill Belichick, who is know to have a short leash for fumbles.
What the Hell, Harold?
One of the biggest surprises in terms of players dropping last night was Harold Landry slipping out of the first round. My theory is once the Detroit Lions, who brought in former Boston College DL Coach Paul Pasqualoni and is very familiar with Landry, passed on him for a center, doubt started to creep in for some teams. I remember something similar happening with Pete Carroll and the Seahawks passing on Taylor Mays for Earl Thomas after coaching Mays at USC, and then Mays having a steep slide. We'll never know if this was a factor or if there is some other red flag we don't know about, but Landry slipping out of round one is surprising to me.
New Age Ravens?
The Ravens have had one of the most stale offenses as of late, and Ozzie Newsome made some bold moves last night in his swan song to set them up for the future. Lamar Jackson is a hell of a talent, but make no mistake about it. This team is going to have to absolutely OVERHAUL their offense for Lamar, and it sounds like Marty Mornhinweg and Greg Roman are prepared to do it, but what does it mean for 2018 with a lame duck Flacco? Flacco has no dead money on his contract after 2018. He may or may not work out, but Ravens fans should be on-the-edge-of-their-seats excited to see this offense transformed with Lamar.
The Seahawks selecting Rashaad Penny at 27 with a need to revamp half of their starting defense absolutely floored me. No offense to Penny, who is a terrific prospect and should give the Seahawks running game some much-needed identity, but I would have taken Derrius Guice 10/10 times. Even though this rattled me more than a Four Loko with Fireball, my biggest evaluation gap surfaced when the Steelers took Terrell Edmunds at 28. Edmunds was my 123rd overall player on my board and I was under the impression the Steelers were much more smitten with Stanford's Justin Reid and Wake Forest's Jessie Bates III as the future of the position.