The first round of the 2018 NFL draft concluded Thursday night. Here is a recap of the winners and losers based on who the teams chose:
Los Angeles Chargers: Safety Derwin James
This pick was a steal for the Chargers. Projected to be a top-10 draft pick, James, one of the best athletes in the entire draft, fell to the Chargers at pick 17. Los Angeles has been searching for long-time safety Eric Weddle’s replacement for the past couple of seasons, and they finally got their man. James is eventually expected to play a Kam Chancellor-type role for the Chargers. Chancellor played for current Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in Seattle, and now James will also join Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram in what could potentially be an elite defense.
Arizona Cardinals: Quarterback Josh Rosen
Rosen was considered the most “pro ready” among the quarterbacks in this draft class and was expected to go anywhere from pick three to pick five. When he started slipping and the Cardinals traded pick 15 as well as a third and fifth round pick to Oakland for the 10th pick, everyone knew who the pick was going to be. After Carson Palmer retired this off-season, Arizona needed to find its QB of the future because newly signed Sam Bradford can’t be trusted to stay healthy anymore and Mike Glennon isn’t the long-term answer.
Baltimore Ravens: Tight End Hayden Hurst and Quarterback Lamar Jackson
The 2018 draft is the final one for General Manager Ozzie Newsome, who will be stepping down at the end of the season, so he wanted to set the team up for future success — and that’s exactly what he did. Newsome traded down twice and still got the pass-catching tight end the team desperately needed in Hayden Hurst. Hurst was considered the best tight end in this draft.
Following the 2018 season, the Ravens can part ways with QB Joe Flacco, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when they traded back into the first round for pick 32. Flacco has had five rather disappointing seasons since winning the Super Bowl in 2013. Probably the most exciting college football player since Reggie Bush, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner couldn’t have asked for a better team to go to. Jackson will get to sit and learn from Flacco for at least a year before taking over the starting QB position whenever the team decides to part ways with the 33-year-old Flacco.
Cleveland Browns: Quarterback Baker Mayfield and Defensive Back Denzel Ward
I really like both of these players, but not at pick one and pick four. Neither has the ideal size for the positions, especially Mayfield. People like to compare him to Russell Wilson and Drew Brees because of their size. But there is only one Russell Wilson, who has elite athleticism and the speed that Mayfield lacks, and Drew Brees, who will soon have the most career passing yards in NFL history.
Buffalo Bills: Quarterback Josh Allen and Linebacker Tremaine Edwards
This doesn’t have as much to do with the players as much as it does what happened during the draft last year — the Bills traded away the 10th pick and the opportunity to draft Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes. This year they traded a first round pick along with two second round picks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for pick seven and took Josh Allen, who has a lot of question marks with his game. Rosen could have been able to step right in for a team who is still shaky at the quarterback position, while Allen may take a little while to develop.
Seattle Seahawks: Running Back Rashaad Penny
Seattle had one of the worst offensive lines in football last season, so it could have used some help there, but they decided to go with a running back for pick 27. It might be tough for Perry to run behind a weak offensive line. There were potentially better running backs available if that’s the route they wanted to go — Derrius Guice, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb were all available. Seattle also has some hole on defense. Richard Sherman was released in the off-season, Earl Thomas has been part of trade rumors and Kam Chancellor suffered a serious neck injury last season.
The 2018 NFL Draft continued Friday night.