Every year the first round of the NFL Draft is filled with surprises, and this year was no different. The first three picks were expected, but after that, craziness ensued. Here are the biggest surprises from Thursday night.
14. Clelin Ferrell going fourth overall
Going into the Draft, the Oakland Raiders had a massive hole at pass rusher with the trade of Khalil Mack last year. Many thought that Quinnen Williams would be the pick if he were to be available, but he was taken at No. 3 by the New York Jets.
The Raiders did take their edge rusher, but surprised everyone with who that player was. Ferrell ended the 2018 season as a borderline top 10 prospect, but fell down big boards due to poor athletic testing in the drills he did participate in. Both Josh Allen and Brian Burns were rated higher nearly universally. There was even a chance that Ferrell would have still been on the board when Oakland picked next at 24.
A puzzling selection to say the least, but this isn’t the first time Jon Gruden has surprised people, and it won’t be the last.
13. Daniel Jones as the second QB taken
The Giants were expected to draft Eli Manning’s successor, and Jones was very much linked to the team, but most thought that Jones could be the target at pick 17, or maybe after a slight trade-up from there.
Instead, New York selected Jones over Dwayne Haskins, who proceeded to tumble down the board. Jones isn’t particularly bad at anything, but he doesn’t really do anything great either. He fits the profile that the Giants want from their quarterback, as he is a big pocket passer, but it remains to be seen if his potential will be reached, and if it is anywhere close to that of the other quarterbacks in this class.
12. Dwayne Haskins falling to 15
Haskins was projected by many to be taken at No. 6 by the Giants, but he also had possible landing spots at No. 7 to Jacksonville, No. 10 to Denver, and No. 11 to Cincinnati. Instead, he fell all the way to 15, where Washington made him their quarterback of the future.
As soon as he was picked, Haskins said he was more motivated than he had ever been, and that he now had a chip on his shoulder. It’s easy to see why, and after he sits and learns behind Case Keenum, he should be a very good player for the Redskins.
He could end up being the steal of the 2019 NFL Draft.
11. Jeffrey Simmons to the Titans at 19
Simmons was expected to be a first-round pick, but 19 is higher than most thought he would go, due to his high school incident and his torn ACL. When healthy, Simmons is arguably the third-best defensive tackle in the class and a top-10 player, so Tennessee got a great value on the field. But he won’t be able to help the team for at least a large part of the 2019 season, and the Titans will have to deal with some PR backlash.
10. No defensive backs taken in the top 20
This defensive back class was viewed as deep, but without elite talents. NFL teams obviously felt the same way, as the first defensive back taken was Darnell Savage to the Green Bay Packers at 21. Even if the top-tier talent isn’t there, having plenty of good corners and safeties is incredibly important in today’s NFL, and the second round should more than make up for the lack of players taken in the first.
Byron Murphy and Greedy Williams are two corners who were expected to be taken on Day 1 who were not.
9. Tytus Howard to the Texans at 23
Howard was a late riser who played at Alabama State. He dominated against lesser competition and needs development, but could very well turn into a solid player. That’s usually a pick seen in the second round of the NFL Draft, and Florida’s Jawann Taylor, seen as a top-15 prospect by many, was still on the board.
8. Montez Sweat falling to 26
A projected first-rounder after the season, Sweat’s stock rocketed up to top-10 status after a legendary combine performance in which he ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, the fastest time for a defensive lineman ever.
His bend isn’t fantastic and he needs to improve his hand usage, but Sweat has the physical tools to be a very good rusher. After the NFL Draft Combine, news broke that Sweat had a similar heart condition to the one that caused first-round prospect Maurice Hurst to fall to the sixth in 2018. However, the morning of the Draft, reports surfaced that he was misdiagnosed, and that there were no concerns.
The Redskins got a great value at 26 and replaced free agent departure Preston Smith with a young and talented player.
7. L.J. Collier to the Seahawks at 29
After trading Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle had to add a starting defensive end and they did that by taking Collier with the pick acquired from the Chiefs. Collier was projected as a mid-second round pick due to his lack of great size or athleticism. He is a strong run defender and should be a solid starter, but his ceiling is much lower than that of the other EDGE prospects.
6. The Giants trading up for Deandre Baker
There were rumblings that Baker would fall out of the first round, but he didn’t allow a single touchdown in coverage in either 2017 or 2018 and his film is fantastic. He’s going to be an excellent player, and the Giants decided he was worth moving up for, giving them a total of three first-round selections.
5. Kaleb McGary to the Falcons at 31
Atlanta decided to build up its offensive line this year by first adding Chris Lindstrom at 14 and then moving back into the first to grab McGary. A projected second-rounder in this years NFL Draft, McGary played right tackle in college but could move inside to guard because his lack of athleticism could allow speed rushers to consistently beat him around the edge. If that’s the case, McGary wasn’t even the best guard prospect on the board.
4. N’Keal Harry to the Patriots at 32
New England definitely needed a wide receiver and they got a good one in Harry, who lasted longer than he probably should have. He gives Tom Brady a big, physical target who excels after the catch, and will make help make up for the loss of Rob Gronkowski.
3. Cody Ford falling out of the first
Ford was a projected top-15 pick who would be an instant starter at guard. He remains on the board for some reason, and the team picking first in the second round happens to have a major need of offensive lineman.
2. D.K. Metcalf falling out of the first
Metcalf’s blend of size, strength, and speed is tantalizing, but teams decided it wasn’t attractive enough to overlook his issues with agility, production, drops, and injuries. Metcalf’s ceiling is tremendously high, but his floor is also lower than you may like, and that’s why he is still available on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
1. Jawaan Taylor falling out of the first
Taylor was a possible too-10 pick whose fall may be due to reports of a knee issue. If it’s serious enough to drop him out of the first entirely, his fall may not be close to over.