Now we’ve had a week to chew on the 2019 NFL Draft, the big winners and the whimpering losers have emerged from the events that went down in Nashville. From all the pomp and ceremony of Day 1 where teams went looking for their next star, to Day 3 where the hunt took place for a late round steal; no stone was left un-turned by any franchise hoping to build a winning team.
But with the desperation for success comes the very real risk of striking out and being left feeling like a loser in week 8 when the off-season hope turns into a 2-6 record.
It certainly is a fine line to tread during Draft SZN to be considered a winner or a loser…
First up, it’s the winners:
Indianapolis Colts/Chris Ballard
The reputation of Colts GM Chris Ballard as being a master of the Draft has enhanced greatly. Following the successes of last year where the Colts acquired eventual DROY Darius Leonard in the 2nd round; not to mention receiving a king’s ransom of a trade from the New York Jets, as they chased a QB. Indy moved down just three spots and still landed an elite guard in the form of Quenton Nelson.
This trade also included the Jets’ 2nd round pick in the 2019 Draft, which became a respectable 34th overall selection. Possessing this pick meant the Colts were happy enough to trade out of the 1st round to stockpile further picks for future drafts – they are now the proud owners of the Washington Redskins’ 2020 2nd round pick. In this year’s Draft, the Colts used the pick they got from the Jets to get cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. A guy who carried a first-round grade from many teams.
A pattern is starting to emerge with Ballard’s drafting technique. It’s clear for all of the league to see, the Colts are getting better and younger simultaneously – a frightening concoction. If Indy’s 2019 draft class proves to be the winner it promises to be, expect copycat GMs up and down the country to be adopting the Ballard draft formula.
New England Patriots
For fans of the 31 other teams, it’s painful to see the most successful franchise in recent history lay solid foundations for years to come. Much like the aforementioned Colts, the Pats spent the majority of the Draft ducking, diving and then striking when the opportunity presented itself. So much so, they ended up using only two of their original picks (#32 and #252), everything else was trade-bait.
They acquired N’Keal Harry with the last pick in the 1st round, who should immediately improve a depleted receiving corps.
Second round selection Joejuan Williams will provide instant relief to an ageing secondary. The pass rush was addressed in the 3rd round with former Michigan DE Chase Winovich. A highly rated option outside of the first two rounds, it would be little surprise if he were to out-produce 1st round pick and former teammate Rashan Gary. A solid, well-rounded top end of the Draft indeed.
Bill Belichick and co entered this year’s Draft with an impressive 12 selections at their disposal, tied for the most with the New York Giants. In actual fact they came away with 10 rookies, meaning capital was being built for the 2020 Draft. Early projections for next year’s Draft has the Patriots holding a crazy fourteen picks. They stand to receive four compensatory picks, including two in the 3rd round.
The awarding of compensatory picks is fast becoming a flashpoint for the NFL. With some critics claiming it’s making the rich richer, the New England Patriots a strong case study you have to feel. However, as long as the system remains in its current guise, smart teams will find any way they can to get ahead in this league. Even if it means exploiting frailties within the NFL’s system of awarding of these picks.
In the final days leading up to the Draft, the talk was that Washington were zeroing in on Dwayne Haskins. He grabbed the serious attention of the Redskins scouting team, in what was a murky QB picture outside of Kyler Murray. Such is the anguish to find a franchise QB, the Redskins were seen as potential trade-up candidates on the day of the Draft.
When push came to shove, Haskins remained on the board until pick #15, falling nicely into the Redskins’ grateful wide open arms. They got their QB of the future and didn’t have to surrender any future picks, win-win situation. With a big tick in the box labelled find a QB, attention turned to addressing other desperate areas of need.
Trading up with the Colts at #26, Washington got aggressive by giving up a future pick (as mentioned above) and landed Montez Sweat. Despite losing the 2020 pick, this is a winning move. Sweat was in the headlines pre-Draft for an apparent heart condition, which was later revealed to have possibly been mis-diagnosed.
Nonetheless, some teams were put off by this clouded medical drama and took him off their boards completely. What absolutely can’t be denied however is Sweat’s serious talents. Credit goes to the Redskins for seeing the light and taking the opportunity to land this elite pass rusher.
The nightmare in Arizona has finally come to an end for Josh Rosen. This really is a winning situation for all fans of the NFL, except if your devotion lays with the Cardinals. Now finding himself in Miami with the Dolphins, Rosen has been nothing short of a model professional even after Kyler Murray went #1 overall to Arizona. It was a sanctimonious ending to a torrid relationship.
As with all teams with a new head coach, the Cardinals were permitted to open a three-day veteran minicamp running from April 23-25. It’s easy to think Rosen wouldn’t have bothered showing his face at a voluntary workout for the team. However, there he was at the Cardinals facility, knowing it was likely he would be playing for a different team come the regular season.
With his fresh start in South Florida comes the competition with Ryan Fitzpatrick to be QB1 for the Dolphins. Images have emerged of Fitzmagic looking rather plump shall we say. Leading to concerns about whether he is really Miami’s replacement for the departed Ryan Tannehill. The battle to be the Dolphins’ starting QB in Week 1 might be as swift as Arya Stark landing the fatal blow on the Night King.
It’s no wonder Josh Rosen feels like he has been drafted all over again. A fresh start in the Sunshine State is just rewards for a guy who has done nothing but be the best potential NFL franchise QB he can possibly be.
Oklahoma Sooners / Lincoln Riley
Any college football program that produces a Heisman Trophy winner should slap themselves on the back. Any college football program that has one of their prospects drafted #1 overall should feel immensely proud. For this to happen in consecutive years is almost an impossible feat. Yet, it became reality when Kyler Murray was selected #1, following the footsteps of former Oklahoma Sooners QB Baker Mayfield.
The mastermind behind this immeasurable accomplishment is Lincoln Riley. Since becoming head coach of Oklahoma in 2017, Riley has delivered back to back Big 12 Conference Championships. There is certainly something about the Sooners achieving consecutive triumphs. The ultimate goal remains however of clinching the College Football National Championship. What does the ultimate goal look like for Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray? A Super Bowl ring…
Looking beyond the QB wonders, Sooners alumni were also very present in the top part 2019 NFL Draft. It certainly wasn’t unimaginable for the top WR and top OL to come out from Oklahoma, as well as the top QB. The prospects were Marquise Brown who was the first receiver taken, landing with the Baltimore Ravens. Cody Ford is the former Sooner standout O-lineman. He fell into the grateful lap of the Buffalo Bills (38th overall), becoming the ninth offensive lineman off the board in a stacked class.
Full credit to the Oklahoma Sooners football program, they have certainly produced future NFL stars. Plenty more to come this writer hopes.