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NFL

NFL Draft 2019: Initial Thoughts

As of this article’s completion, it’s been 3 days since the 2019 NFL Draft finished, which means the dust has somewhat settled, emotions have levelled out and reasonably measured analysis can be made.

Now, let me preface this by saying this: I’m no draft expert. There are 200+ players who get picked every year, and the only ones I know really, really well are the top prospects, players that are likely to be good fits at the Baltimore Ravens, or Oklahoma Sooners alumni. One of the pitfalls of living in Australia means that I can’t watch as much College Football as I’d like, and one of the pitfalls of being a diehard sports fan means that I can’t watch as much football in general as I’d like. However, that won’t stop me from dishing out some hot takes, fresh out of the oven, for you to digest.

If I’m largely right, you’ll likely see this article resurfacing in future “I told you so” pieces, like my Trae Young article from 11 months ago. If I’m largely wrong, this article might just vanish into the ether without any warning.

Without further ado, here are some of my initial thoughts from the 2019 season:

Dan Snyder – not as dumb as I thought

Hands up if you thought that when rumours surfaced that Dan Snyder was taking control of the first round of the Redskins draft, that you immediately assumed they’d blow it? If your hand isn’t up, you’re either his mother or a liar. Colour me surprised then, when the Washington Redskins nailed not only one but both of their first round picks.

Dwayne Haskins is a strong armed QB prospect and was my #2 in the class at the position, behind #1 overall pick Kyler Murray. As a result, I fully expected him to go to the QB needy New York Giants at pick 6. However, they went a different route, leading the QB hungry Skins to get an absolute steal at pick 15. They followed that up by picking my #2 edge rushing prospect in the draft in Montez Sweat at #26. Sweat had elite production in college and elite athleticism to back that up, but fell way further than he should’ve due to a combination of being diagnosed with a heart condition and off field concerns. Right before the draft, there was a story released that mentioned that Sweat was possibly misdiagnosed. If this is the case, the Skins have gotten two blue chip talents in the one draft, and that’s without analysing their activity in rounds 2-7.

To top it off, they attempted to address their void at WR with Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon and took a lottery ticket at RB in Bryce Love. There’s a lot to like about the Washington Redskins draft.

Giants – the new Browns?

Dave Gettleman, what are you doing?

I know the NFL draft is known for curveballs, but when Daniel Jones, my #5 QB prospect in the draft behind Murray, Haskins, Lock and Grier, gets picked at #6 overall, my jaw dropped open. This is a guy that I described in my group chat as “a QB with the arm strength of Eli Manning, but at 35 years old”. I know his Duke teammates didn’t do him any favours, but absolutely nothing I saw on game tape screamed to me “potential franchise QB”, and that’s the kind of guy you try and get at #6. The Giants would’ve been far better served trading for Josh Rosen and grabbing a Josh Allen at #6, or going QB and drafting Dwayne Haskins.

Dexter Lawrence is a solid player, but again, it looks like the Giants reached to get “their guy” when he ostensibly should have been available at one of their later picks. Trading back up to get Deandre Baker at the back end of the first, and drafting pass rusher Oshane Ximines were very good moves, but at the end of the day, the success of this 2019 class starts and ends with the development of Jones.

Jaguars had a sneaky good draft

After a mediocre 2018 year that had them return to their familiar spot of the AFC South basement, it’s easy to forget that the Jaguars were inches away from a Superbowl appearance just two seasons ago. That was largely in part to three things:

1. Blake Bortles

2. Subpar play at the tackle position

3. Not pressuring the opposing QB consistently enough.

The former has hopefully been addressed by the signing of former Superbowl MVP Nick Foles. The latter two? Just take a look at their first two picks. Josh Allen was far and away the best pass rusher in the country, and to get him at pick #7 was an absolute steal. Meanwhile, Jawaan Taylor was my favourite OT prospect in the class and was seen as a top 10 talent leading up to it. Yes, he had injury concerns, but to grab him at pick 35 is nothing short of a coup, and could wind up being the best pick of the entire draft.

Josh Oliver in the third was another excellent pick, he’s a very good athlete and gives the Jaguars a legitimate pass catching threat at the tight end position, something the team has sorely lacked in recent years.

Overall, I’d be thrilled with this years draft class if I was a Jags fan.

My Ravens FINALLY went hard at skill position players

What good would a draft article be if I didn’t give my thoughts on the team I’m most qualified to write about. Over the years, I’ve been a huge Ozzie Newsome fan. However, the last two draft classes rubbed me the wrong way. I was frustrated with our obsession with trading down when blue chip talent fell to us (Derwin James at pick 17), and I was frustrated with our obsession with the tight end position – Hayden Hurst was my least favourite pick in years. The one picked I loved last year was the bold and aggressive move to get Lamar Jackson at the end of the first round. It signified a shift from the plodding, slow Ravens offenses of old and signified a transition to a much faster offense more suited to the modern NFL.

Now, one year on and with Eric DeCosta taking over as the GM, it appears that Baltimore have attempted to build on that. The first round pick at 25 of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown not only thrilled me as a Sooners fan, but he was the #1 WR on my board. He could be a game changer at a position where we had the worst group in the NFL last season.

In round 3, we traded up to grab MIles Boykin from Notre Dame, an elite big bodied athlete who showed some flashes of his really high ceiling in spite of some spotty QB play. We also drafted one of my favourite RB’s in the entire class with the pick of Oklahoma State RB of Justice Hill in the 4th, a burner with 4.4 speed. I appears that we’re really trying hard to establish an identity on the offensive side of the ball to match our ferocious defense. Whether it plays out like DeCosta has envisioned likely starts with Lamar Jackson showing growth in his second year, but regardless, I am excited by the intent.

How do you feel about your team’s draft this year? Agree or disagree with any of my views above? As always, feedback is welcome – so feel free to leave your opinions in the comments below.