NFL Draft: 1st Round Grades and Thoughts

Round 1 of the NFL Draft excited as per usual. Despite the lack of movement and trades throughout, it is always a good time. One thing is for sure…Hindsight always seems easier when it comes to the draft. My final first round mock, I went 7/32 I believe on predicting the teams picks correctly. There is just too much ABC to predict XYZ. That makes it all the more fun. Below is the first round selections, grades and thoughts.

1. Cincinnati Bengals – QB Joe Burrow, LSU
Predicted Pick: Joe Burrow
Grade: A

The Bengals went with the status quo here as expected and took their franchise QB for the foreseeable future.

2. Washington Redskins – DE Chase Young, Ohio State
Predicted Pick: Chase Young
Grade: A

Much like the Bengals, the Redskins went with Young who was expected to be the second player off the board.

3.  Detroit Lions – CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State
Predicted Pick: Jeffrey Okudah
Grade: A-

I predicted the Lions to get Okudah. It was just a matter of where. There were numerous rumors surrounding the third pick and the Lions potentially trading back. They stayed put and got their guy.

4. New York Giants – OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Predicted Pick: Jedrick Wills
Grade: B+

Andrew Thomas is a great pick. Many people believe he is one of the most sure things in this draft. So you can’t give a big knock to the Giants here. They have plenty of holes to fill so someone like Isaiah Simmons would have been better. They could have had someone who can transform their defense. But, offensive lineman are a total commodity too.

5. Miami Dolphins – QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Predicted Pick(s): Andrew Thomas, Jordan Love, Grant Delpit
Grade: A

The question was answered, Tua was in fact THE guy for Miami. They made a great move taking him over Herbert in my opinion. It appears everything Miami said they would do was nothing but smoke and mirrors.

6. Los Angeles Chargers – QB Justin Herbert, Oregon 
Predicted Pick: Tua Tagovailoa
Grade: B+

Herbert ends up falling to the Chargers so they grab him. It’s certainly not a bad move as they need a future franchise QB. That team is good enough to win enough games keeping them from being near top pick next year. Get your guy now.

7. Carolina Panthers – DT Derrick Brown, Auburn
Predicted Pick: Derrick Brown
Grade: A-

Even though it was another team who could certainly use Simmons, Brown is a solid pick at 7. He should start and make an immediate impact for a Carolina team who is entering a fast rebuild phase. I don’t think they are light years away. What I love about Brown is he can play in both a 4-3 and a 3-4 (multiple spots).

8. Arizona Cardinals – OLB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
Predicted Pick: Javon Kinlaw
Grade: A+

They were gifted Simmons here and they didn’t overthink it. Sure, an offensive lineman makes sense for them. But, Simmons adds another quality piece to a defense that already includes Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars – CB CJ Henderson, Florida
Predicted Pick(s): Justin Herbert, CJ Henderson
Grade: B+

Henderson is the second best corner in the draft behind Okudah. Behind him is a drop a fairly big drop off. In recent years, they’ve lost not one, but two studs at corner (Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye). Taking Henderson is a smart play here at 9.

10. Cleveland Browns – OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama
Predicted Pick: Isaiah Simmons
Grade: B+

As I talked about in my mock drafts, their redzone offense last season was about as miserable as it gets. Much of that had to do with the Freddie Kitchens playcalling as well as the line not getting a push. Why not sure up the line when you have one of the four best tackles still on the board?

11. New York Jets – OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville
Predicted Pick: Mekhi Becton
Grade: A-

Becton always felt like a good fit for the Jets. He is certainly an absolute mammoth of a human. Much like the Browns, they felt the need to go offensive line. Although, the Jets could have used a receiver here. It’s better to protect your assets and in this case Sam Darnold.

12. Las Vegas Raiders – WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Predicted Pick(s): CeeDee Lamb, AJ Terrell
Grade: B+

This was a head-scratcher. It feels like a pick the Raiders would make during late owner Al Davis’ tenure. He loved the speed guys. Not that Ruggs is a bad pick, but I didn’t expect him to be the first receiver off the board. The Raiders need help at receiver. I just didn’t think that help would be Ruggs with Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb available. It certainly gives Derek Carr another downfield option though.

13. (Trade) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
Predicted Pick: Tristan Wirfs 
Grade: A+

With rumors swirling that the 49ers could potentially move around this draft, Tampa aggressively traded up one spot to grab the last remaining of the big 4 offensive tackles. I gave this a perfect A+ because the trade up makes sense, Wirfs is a freak athlete and now they have a great tackle to protect newly acquired QB Tom Brady bolstering an already good offensive front.

14. (Trade) San Francisco 49ers – DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
Predicted Pick: Jerry Jeudy
Grade: A+

San Francisco wins big acquiring assets from Tampa in the deal. This was a win/win for both. They landed the second best interior lineman by far. That gives them a perfect replacement for recently traded DeForest Buckner.

15. Denver Broncos – WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Predicted Pick(s): Justin Jefferson, Cesar Ruiz
Grade: A+

Woody Paige claimed sources told him the Broncos were looking to move to 8th in a trade with the Cardinals to grab Jeudy. They didn’t need to move up though and snagged their guy. They get the third A+ in a row for doing so seven picks later.

16. Atlanta Falcons – CB AJ Terrell, Clemson
Predicted Pick: K’Lavon Chaisson
Grade: C+

I like Terrell. In fact, I had him going 19th to the Raiders in most of my mocks. However, the fundamental problem I have is that the Falcons don’t have much of a pass rush. Without a pass rush, you can’t expect your corners to cover that long, no matter how good they are. They finished with 28 sacks last season and 1/5 of those came in November against the Saints.

17. Dallas Cowboys – WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Predicted Pick: Xavier McKinney
Grade: A+

Jerry Jones received a gift here. Adding Lamb to an offense with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliot is an absolute game changer. QB Dak Prescott now has a great trio to throw dimes to.

18. Miami Dolphins – OT Austin Jackson, USC
Predicted Pick(s): Andrew Thomas, Jordan Love, Grant Delpit
Grade: B

With all the of big 4 offensive tackles gone, Miami went status quo in getting one of the best second tier guys. The move makes sense since Tua is their future. Again, protect your assets.

19. Las Vegas Raiders – CB Damon Arnette, Ohio State
Predicted Pick(s): CeeDee Lamb, AJ Terrell
Grade: D+

I know the Raiders love playoff team guys, but this was easily the biggest reach of the draft to this point. Arnette fills a need for a second starting corner, but there were several other corners who made more sense at 19.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars – K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
Predicted Pick(s): Justin Herbert, CJ Henderson
Grade: A

The Jaguars once again try to sure up their defense getting the second best pass rusher behind Chase Young. I love the pick here. They get another quality pass rusher to play opposite of Josh Allen. Now they sit with the second best pass rusher and second best corner. For where they picked, that is great value on both picks.

21. Philadelphia Eagles – WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
Predicted Pick: Henry Ruggs
Grade: C+

It was a forgone conclusion that the Eagles would be grabbing a receiver. However, there were at least three receivers who I would definitively put ahead of the TCU standout. Reagor should be an impact player right away. However, they could have grabbed him later and someone better at 21.

22. Minnesota Vikings – WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
Predicted Pick(s): Jeff Gladney, Tee Higgins
Grade: A

Jefferson is a great possession receiver to play on the other side of Adam Thielen. Thielen is a bit of a chess piece for the Vikings. A few years ago, he was strictly an outside receiver and then the league shifted to using their top end guys in the slot more. Now, Thielen plays all over and does everything better than good. I believe there is a misconception going around that Thielen is strictly a great slot guy. Having Jefferson to replace Diggs who excels in pass-catching and a possession style of receiving is a great move. Now, Kirk Cousins can now pick his poison between Thielen, Jefferson, Tight End Irv Smith and Running Back Dalvin Cook.

23. (Trade) Los Angeles Chargers – OLB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
Predicted Pick: Tua Tagovailoa
Grade: A+

Look at the Chargers being aggressive here to take the linebacker many believed the Saints would draft. I love the pick here. The Chargers defense is going to be great next year barring health. All three levels of that defense have studs. Up front is Joey Bosa. At linebacker you pair Murray with Melvin Ingram. The secondary has Casey Hayward, Derwin James and the newly acquired Chris Harris. Yikes.

24. New Orleans Saints – C Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
Predicted Pick: Patrick Queen
Grade: A-

As I alluded to, I 100% believe the pick was Murray. The Saints were once again jumped similar to when they eyed Patrick Mahomes. The Saints fall back on the offensive line. To all those who hated the pick because the Saints traded up to draft Center Erik McCoy last year, relax. This move makes sense. Both McCoy and Ruiz can play the guard spot. That gives them three starters who can move around with those two and Andrus Peat. Larry Warford is in his contract year and looked rough in the last few weeks of the season. Ruiz likely starts right away and makes Warford expendable for potential day 2 picks. If they don’t trade the veteran, they now have six starting quality lineman allowing max protection for Drew Brees in the hunt for ring number two. I love this pick here. It’s not sexy and the Saints have done well drafting offensive lineman long before Jeff Ireland came to town. The Saints have drafted a total of 16 lineman under Sean Payton and half of them resulted in better than good results including multiple all-pros.

  • 2006- Jahri Evans, Zach Strief
  • 2007- Jermon Bushrod
  • 2008- Carl Nicks
  • 2013- Terron Armstead
  • 2015- Andrus Peat
  • 2017- Ryan Ramczyk
  • 2019- Erik McCoy

Thanks to the Saints drafting well up front, the black and gold have only had one season under Sean Payton where they have ranked outside of the top 10 in the run AND pass in the same season.

25. (Trade) San Francisco 49ers – WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
Predicted Pick(s): Jerry Jeudy
Grade: B

San Francisco needed a receiver who can separate enough to extend the offense vertically. Aiyuk can do just that. They traded up to get their guy with multiple teams ahead of them potentially looking to grab a receiver. They addressed their two biggest needs in round one capping off a solid day for them.

26. (Trade) Green Bay Packers – QB Jordan Love, Utah State
Predicted Pick: Denzel Mims
Grade: F

What are you doing? The last time the Packers took a skill position in round one was when they drafted their current QB Aaron Rodgers. If I am Rodgers, I am furious right now. Not in fear of losing my job because that is crazy talk. The Packers were in the NFC Championship last season and they need another solid play-maker alongside Davante Adams. So they trade up and they take a QB. The move makes sense in regards to letting a QB with plenty of upside develop behind a QB who excels in similar areas he does including pocket awareness and arm strength. Rodgers is also one of the best decision makers with low turnover rates in the NFL today next to Tom Brady and Russell Wilson. That is an area where Love struggled in his junior season. It makes sense. But, now you just potentially rubbed your franchise QB the wrong way when you can add pieces to win now.

27. Seattle Seahawks – OLB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
Predicted Pick: AJ Epenesa
Grade: C-

Seahawks are known for reaching for needs in the draft. Their run defense was horrible last season, even worse than their pass rush. Brooks will start right away next to Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright. He was projected to be a third rounder. The Seahawks have three day two picks which give them the ability to trade up to grab him then. They reached a little too far here. They could have taken someone like Zack Baun if they wanted a sure tackler at OLB.

28. Baltimore Ravens – ILB Patrick Queen, LSU
Predicted Pick: Kenneth Murray
Grade: A

Good things come to those who wait. The Ravens fill a major hole at inside linebacker here. The Ravens add a day one starter no question to help their defense who has lost multiple key pieces (especially linebackers) the last few seasons.

29. Tennessee Titans – OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia
Predicted Pick: Trevon Diggs
Grade: B+

The Titans lost Jack Conklin in the off-season leaving a hole at tackle. Wilson gives them an instant plug in to keep the train running with Derrick Henry in the backfield.

30. (Trade) Miami Dolphins – CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn
Predicted Pick(s): Andrew Thomas, Jordan Love, Grant Delpit
Grade: C

I don’t understand the Dolphins reaching for a corner here when they could use a safety with literally all of them on the board still. Luckily, they have three day two picks to still address other needs.

31. (Trade) Minnesota Vikings – CB Jeff Gladney, TCU
Predicted Picks: Jeff Gladney, Tee Higgins
Grade: A+

I mocked Gladney being the first Vikings pick at 25 after trading down from 22. I was right about the trade down and wrong about whether or not they went corner or receiver first. They ended up getting Gladney at 31 addressing a need in which they lost basically everyone.

32. Kansas City Chiefs – RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU
Predicted Pick: Kristian Fulton
Grade: A-

This was a bit of a shocker, but I love it. In my early mocks, I had Georgia RB D’Andre Swift being taken here. However, the Chiefs went with Helaire here. He certainly is an upgrade at the position. His style gives the Chiefs a bruiser between the tackles who poses a great ability to make the first tacklers miss. The one downside is his top end speed. Let’s be honest, the Chiefs have plenty of that with Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Sammy Watkins.

Round 1 Awards

Best Value Pick(s): Isaiah Simmons (8th to Cardinals), CeeDee Lamb (17th to Cowboys)

Best Trade Up: Tampa Bay for Wirfs

Biggest Surprise: Green Bay Drafting Love

Biggest Reach: Raiders Drafting Arnette 19th

Favorite Pick(s): Lamb 17th to Cowboys, Simmons 8th to Cardinals, Edwards Helaire 32nd to Chiefs

Best Overall Round: 49ers, Vikings, Jaguars

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