The first round of the 2019 NFL Draft is in the books. And it’s safe to say that we saw plenty of surprises on Thursday night.
The Arizona Cardinals got things going with the expected pick. But what they’re doing (or not doing) with the man he’s in line to replace is surprising. The Oakland Raiders needed and selected a pass rusher. But in true Raiders fashion, it was a confusing selection. And the New York Giants had three first-round picks. The first two were baffling, to put it mildly.
These were the craziest moves from the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Cardinals hang on to Josh Rosen after drafting Kyler Murray
The Cardinals got the draft going by taking Murray first overall. That was not surprising. What’s surprising is that Rosen is still on the roster. Yes, we heard before the draft that the Arizona could keep both. Still, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. By drafting Murray, the Cardinals were basically calling Rosen a loss. Why not trade Rosen to a QB needy team (the NFL doesn’t lack for those) and get something back? Arizona had the No. 1 pick for a reason. Rosen struggled as a rookie. But he was not this team’s only flaw. By hanging on to him, the Cardinals really deprived themselves of a chance to get more talent.
Giants have baffling first round
Dave Gettleman, the New York Giants general manager, left plenty of people scratching their heads on Thursday. With Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins available at No. 6, Gettleman selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. It’s a risky pick, to say the least. Then, at No. 17, New York took Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. We understand that picks don’t always work out as expected. But neither of these was particularly well received. This team will be heavily scrutinized in 2019. If these picks don’t turn out well, we don’t imagine that Gettleman will have a lot of fun.
Only one trade in the top 20
One thing seemed certain coming into the draft. We were going to have trades, and probably a lot of them. Not so much. The first nine picks were all made by the teams who had them coming into the night. And after the Denver Broncos traded that No. 10 pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers (who selected Devin Bush) we didn’t see another trade until the Green Bay Packers moved up to the No. 21 pick in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. Every year, we get some reminder about how unpredictable the NFL Draft really is. In 2019, the lack of trade activity served as that reminder.
Raiders select Clelin Ferrell at No. 4
The Raiders needed a pass rusher. With that in mind, this draft seemed like a dream. A number of elite pass rushers were on the clock when Oakland selected Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell at No. 4. While Ferrell is a pass rusher, he was a reach, especially given who was available. It’s not that Ferrell is a bad player. But if the Raiders really wanted him, they could have traded down. Oakland also could have used its later two picks to trade up and select Ferrell later. But as is so often the case, conventional wisdom and the Raiders often clash, especially on draft day.
Four defensive players go before Josh Allen
One player the Raiders could have drafted over Ferrell was Allen, the Kentucky pass rusher who recorded 17 sacks in 2018, despite being the No. 1 focus of every opposing offensive line. For comparison’s sake, Ferrell has 21 sacks over 2017 and 2018 combined, and that was on a line deep with NFL talent. Now, defensive players tend to fall on draft day. But four of the six players selected ahead of Allen were also defensive, and play on the front seven. The surprising development is the gain of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Playing in a very talented defense, Allen will have the chance to be a highly disruptive pass rusher from Day 1 on.
Redskins get Dwayne Haskins without having to trade up
It didn’t seem like the Washington Redskins would get a quarterback in the first round, not without trading up anyway. There were just too many teams in need of a quarterback picking ahead of them. But Haskins fell all the way down to Washington at No. 15. The Redskins are often under fire for their front office moves. But in this case, Washington won by remaining patient. As a result, the Redskins landed a big armed quarterback (and Maryland native, no less) in the middle of the first round. Washington is one of the clear winners from Thursday.
Skill guys get no love
The Raiders selected Alabama’s Josh Jacobs at No. 24. He was the first running back selected. A pick later, Oklahoma’s Marquise “Hollywood” Brown went to the Baltimore Ravens and was the first receiver selected. In fact, Iowa tight ends T.J. Hockenson (No. 8) and Noah Fant (No. 20) were the only skill guys selected ahead of Jacobs. If you’re wondering how rare that is, we’d never seen it before. Never in a draft have we gone so long before the first receiver or running back was selected. Given how offense heavy this era is, that’s quite surprising.
Corners get shut out of defense heavy draft
Tuesday looked like it would be a defense heavy day. It did not disappoint. In fact, a record number of front seven players were selected. While the general feeling was that no cornerback would go in the top-10, the position had plenty of talent. A number of corners were pegged as mid-late first round options. It didn’t work out that way. The Giants selected Deandre Baker at No. 30. He was the first (and only) corner taken. That’s a surprise in any era. At a time when teams are passing a lot, it’s even more surprising.