The wait is finally over and the NFL draft is here. Since the Super Bowl. we have endured the offseason, using coaching changes and free agency signings to keep us occupied. The first round of the NFL draft is in the books from Cleveland, and training camps will be following soon after. Let’s take a glance to see how the NFL clubs all faired in the first round.
First Round Picks
1. Trevor Lawrence – Jacksonville Jaguars QB
Mel Kiper called him “historically great” when asked to describe this prospect. Has never lost a regular-season game. Deserved to be selected as the first pick overall. No surprises here.
2. Zach Wilson – New York Jets QB
Zach Wilson becoming the second pick of the first round also comes as no surprise. The Jets needed a big-time playmaker at QB and got just that. They hope that he can turn their franchise around.
3. Trey Lance – San Francisco 49ers QB
Their first-round pick is in and the 49ers take Trey Lance. I’m a little surprised they didn’t go with Mac Jones, being that he appeared to fit their system better. With that said, Lance’s upside is incredible, and I truly believe that Shanahan will maximize that potential.
4. Kyle Pitts – Atlanta Falcons TE
Kyle Pitts might be the best player in this draft, however, I don’t like this pick for the Falcons. They need a ton of help on defense, including a shutdown CB. They could have also used this opportunity to groom their QB of the future. Oh well, he should do great for them regardless. Pitts is a can’t miss talent.
5. Ja’Marr Chase – Cincinnati Bengals WR
Clearly, the Bengals don’t care about keeping Joe Burrow healthy. I get it, they reunited him with his favorite target from college, however, they desperately needed help on the OL. Happy Burrow? Yes. Healthy Burrow? Not likely.
6. Jaylen Waddle – Miami Dolphins WR
The Dolphins needed a weapon for Tua to throw to and they got him the best WR still available in the first round. Not only did they reunite Tua with one of his favorite college targets, but they secured a great downfield weapon. Waddle brings a burst of explosiveness to the Miami offense.
7. Penei Sewell – Detroit Lions OT
I get that Jared Goff needs protection and I think Sewell will do great opening holes for the run game, but I really question not taking DeVonta Smith and securing an offensive playmaker in the first round. What good is blocking for your QB if no one to throw the ball to?
8. Jaycee Horn – Carolina Panthers CB
Carolina has a strong pass rush and a secondary that was often exposed last year, not anymore. Horn’s ability to jam and re-route WRs will give Brian Burns and company the extra split second to force sacks and other big plays. Watch for great improvement from the Panthers D
9. Patrick Surtain II – Denver Broncos CB
Broncos shocked both me and the world by not going QB in the first round. However, I love the choice they made. Surtain under the tutelage of both Fuller and Fangio will truly be elite. He will be a shutdown CB from day 1 and will only improve from there.
10. DeVonta Smith – Philadelphia Eagles WR (from Cowboys)
The Eagles needed an explosive WR and got just that with the Heisman Trophy winner, DeVonta Smith. Their first-round pick gives Hurts a downfield weapon that should allow him to progress in his sophomore season. Absolutely love this pick,
11. Justin Fields – Chicago Bears QB (from Giants)
The steal of the draft as of this point. Chicago really needed a QB, so they traded up in the first round in order to secure one of the best available. Personally, I thought the Bears were going to botch this pick, so I am pleasantly surprised. In my opinion, Fields is the most talented QB in the draft.
12. Micah Parsons – Dallas Cowboys LB (from Eagles)
The Cowboys barely missed out on the top two CBs in the draft so they traded back two spots to get an extra 3rd round pick. And who do they get? Parsons, the top defensive player available in the first round. He brings automatic improvement to a defense that was severely lacking.
13. Rashawn Slater – Los Angeles Chargers OT
I thought Fields to the Bears was the steal of the first round, guess I was wrong. Slater was debatably the best OL player in the draft and he fell to a team that really needed him in the 13th spot. Herbert now has an outstanding left tackle to protect his blindside, meanwhile, Ekeler should see even larger holes opened around left.
14. Alijah Vera-Tucker – New York Jets G (from Vikings)
The Jets saw the best Guard in the draft was still around, so they traded up in the first round to solidify their OL. Personally, I thought they would snag an elite passer rusher when they made the move, but I can’t argue with their choice.
15. Mac Jones – New England Patriots QB
Somehow the Patriots were able to stay still and get one of the big 5 quarterbacks. I don’t know how they do it, I wish I had their luck. Now Belichick gets to try to mould his QB of the future.
16. Zaven Collins – Arizona Cardinals LB
I’m a little confused here because I actually liked the Cardinals LBs before they chose Collins. Don’t get me wrong, Collins is a great player and should do well, but I have to wonder if they would have been better severed with an improvement to the secondary or a downfield weapon on offense.
17. Alex Leatherwood – Las Vegas Raiders OT
Worst pick of the first round, even worse than the Bengals not protecting Burrow. Leatherwood was nowhere near the first round by anyone’s ranking. Super reach, but let’s be honest, Gruden has pulled this crap several times in the past. I might add, unsuccessfully up until now.
18. Jaelan Phillips – Miami Dolphins ER
Miami got their explosive weapon with their first pick and filled their other major hole with their second pick. They not only addressed their issues at Edge Rusher, but they also got one that many believe was the top of this class. The Dolphins have had a great first round.
19. Jamin Davis – Washington LB
Washington added an incredibly athletic and versatile LB to back up their ferocious DL in Davis. Great in coverage and sideline to sideline tackling, Davis completes a defense that has explosiveness on all three levels.
20. Kadarius Toney – New York Giants WR (from Bears)
I don’t get it. Would have thought they were going defense here. Instead, they pick up another injury-prone WR, making their receiver room that much more crowded. Toney is a good talent, this isn’t a great fit.
21. Kwity Paye – Indianapolis Colts ER
The Colts got their Edge Rusher to compliment Deforrest Buckner and the rest of that defense. Paye is a diamond in the rough, he has all the potential to get a great NFL defensive end with the proper coaching. I think this is a perfect fit for the first-round pick.
22. Caleb Farley – Tennessee Titans CB
The Titans got some help for a pass defense that gave up far too many yards last season. Farley has the potential to be a shutdown CB in the league, providing he can stay healthy. Risky but great first-round pick up for the Titans.
23. Christian Darrisaw – Minnesota Vikings OT (from Jets)
Its a great feeling when you trade back to pick up another pick and still get the exact player that you need. The Vikings needed a strong LT really bad. In Darrisaw, they got a player they may have picked if they were on the clock earlier. Absolute steal.
24. Najee Harris – Pittsburgh Steelers RB
I said it when preparing my mock draft: no player in this draft fits no team in this draft more then Najee Harris fits the Pittsburgh Steelers. Perfect match, look forward to a monster season from Harris.
25. Travis Etienne – Jacksonville Jaguars RB
Did the Jaguars forget that they had James Robinson? Don’t get me wrong, Etienne is a great talent and will be a superstar RB, but I really question the need. This pick would have been much better served going towards their secondary.
26. Greg Newsome II – Cleveland Browns CB
Newsome joins an already strong secondary and now makes it absolutely suffocating. I agree with them using the pick on the defensive side of the ball, however, it would have been put to better use trying to strengthen a poor LB group. Either way, the player fits and makes the D stronger.
27. Rashod Bateman – Baltimore Ravens WR
The Ravens needed a strong WR to go over the center of the field and they got just that in Bateman. He has the ability to line up anywhere and make plays in many different ways. Should be a great fit for the Lamar Jackson led offense, he might finally have a reliable weapon at WR.
28. Payton Turner – New Orleans Saints ER
The Saints are in a team in transition after the retirement of Drew Brees. Turner helps to solidify an already strong New Orleans front seven and will help to keep their DL fresh. Personally, I would have gone with a verticle threat for the offense to make the transition easier for Taysom Hill. Heck, they could have used help in their secondary, too.
29. Eric Stokes – Green Bay Packers CB
So, Rodgers wants out as a result of not getting any help in the draft from the front office. They get him a CB. Apparently, Green Bay doesn’t care that their franchise is disgruntled. If I were them I would have asked Rodgers who he wants to draft, or at least get him a weapon on offense. This comes a year after the Love debacle. Typical Green Bay.
30. Gregory Rousseau – Buffalo Bills ER
Honestly, Rousseau is a steal at pick number 30. I know he didn’t have a good pro day after sitting out the COVID season, but he is clearly a force to be reckoned with. Some strength training and NFL conditioning should have teams regret not taking him earlier in the first round.
31. Jayson Oweh – Baltimore Raven LB
They needed an Edge Rusher and got a pass-rushing LB. Oweh has great pass rushing potential and has all of the physical gifts to make him an elite ER. He does need plenty of coaching to get there, but if he develops a few moves he will be a force to be reckoned with.
32. Joe Tyron – Tampa Bay Buccaneers ER
Tyron is a perfect fit for the Bucs D. He is an incredibly versatile front, seven defenders. He can rush the passer, is a large presence and can even drop back in coverage. He will be groomed to eventually replace JPP on the DL.
Top 5 Winners
1. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins had two major needs heading into the draft: an offensive playmaker and pass rusher on defense. They had two picks in the first round and got one of each. Waddle brings speed, explosiveness and versatility to the offense as one of the top WRs in a draft. Phillips adds devastating pass-rushing skills as one of the best edge rushers in the draft.
2. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings were able to add two additional third-round picks (at the cost of a fourth) by trading back in the first round. And on top of it, they still got the player that meets their needs the most in the first round. Darrisaw will add much-needed protection for Kirk Cousin’s blindside.
3. Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles stayed firm in their spot and waited their turn to draft the best available OL player. Somehow, the best OL player in the draft fell to the 13th pick of the first round. Slater will come in and make an immediate impact, both protecting Herbert and blocking for Ekeler.
4. New England Patriots
Four of the big five QBs were off the board by the 11th pick and the Patriots still waited patiently. Their patience was rewarded as they land Jones, the last QB of the big five. Some might say he is the best one for their system.
5. Chicago Bears
Da Bears could just have sat still, gotten another weapon for Dalton and moved on without many questions. Instead, they boldly jumped up in the first round in order to secure their QB of the future. Fields could turn out to be the best QB in this draft with the proper coaching.
Top 5 Losers
1. Green Bay Packers
Your star QB, the reigning NFL MVP, earlier in the day reveals that he is tired of the disrespect and doesn’t want to play for your franchise anymore. He has been waiting for you to find him some help in the draft for a while now. What’s more, last year you traded up in the first round to select his backup. You would think this year they would just get him a playmaker to try to smooth things over. They get a CB. Way to piss off your franchise.
2. Las Vegas Raiders
In typical Chucky fashion, Gruden wastes his first-round pick on a player he could have gotten two rounds later.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
You had one job: protect Joe Burrow. You failed. I get it, you got him an awesome weapon and his favorite target from college, but that means nothing when he suffers his next season-ending injury.
4. New York Giants
New York is a team full of needs, with one significant strength: WR. They draft a WR, and an injury prone one on top of that. The look on the Giants’ fans’ faces when the pick was announced were priceless. Their disgust was obvious.
5. Arizona Cardinals
They could have gotten Kyler Murray a great downfield threat. They could have gotten a stud DB to address their issues in the secondary. Instead, they get an LB to rotate in with one of their stronger units.
All in all, it was a very exciting first round for the draft. We saw three teams move up to claim players that really benefited their franchise. However, we didn’t see any trade action for superstar names, including Julio Jones, Aaron Rodger, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson.
Alabama saw six of their former players land teams in the first round. Meanwhile, Northwestern had two first-rounders, which is equal to their total amount of first-round players in the previous 37 years.
To begin the excitement, we got to witness three QBs go in the first three picks for just the third time in NFL history. The excitement continued throughout the whole night, right down to the final pick by Tampa Bay. They added a very strong piece to compliment their defense. Overall, the night was full of winners.