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2019 NFL Draft: Making Sense Of The Day 1 Picks

The first night of the 2019 NFL Draft is in the books, and as expected, there were plenty of surprises. You probably won’t hear this from talking heads obsessed with instant analysis spewing their hot takes, but prospects deserve at least a couple years to prove their new team made the right choice. Here are some of the biggest differences (both positive and negative) based on my Big Board for the players that were drafted last night, with an explanation as to what teams may have been thinking.


Drafted Higher


Rashan Gary, Michigan DE

The Pick: No. 12 overall (GB) /// My ranking: No. 51 overall (-39)

I thought news this week of a shoulder injury that will likely require surgery would end up pushing Rashan Gary all the way out of the first round, but Green Bay gambled on the upside earlier than anticipated. Gary was announced as a defensive end (which puts him on the interior for Mike Pettine’s 3-4 defense), and I think that’s his best position despite most labeling him as an edge throughout the draft process. On a young roster that already includes building blocks in Jaire Alexander and Kenny Clark, this is a big swing that could pay off.


Devin Bush, Michigan LB

The pick: No. 10 overall (PIT) /// My ranking: No. 36 overall (-26)

Another Michigan standout, Devin Bush was a clear target for Pittsburgh, and while I had him as more of a second-round prospect, this is the perfect landing spot in my opinion, as he will be used similarly to Ryan Shazier (who was my comparison for Bush). Like Kyler Murray was the No. 1 player for Arizona, Bush would have been a lot higher on my board if it was tailored to the Steelers’ draft.


Clelin Ferrell, Clemson DE

The pick: No. 4 overall (OAK) /// My ranking: No. 25 overall (-21)

On a night with several surprises, this was the first and perhaps the biggest. That said, Jon Gruden clearly set his sights on a player that he loved and got him, so let’s see how it plays out. Also, while the Raiders could have probably traded down at least a couple spots to pick up an extra pick, Ferrell fits exactly what they need on the field (a strong-side defensive end) and in the locker room (high-end football character).


Ed Oliver, Houston DT

The pick: No. 9 overall (BUF) /// My ranking: No. 22 overall (-13)

I think it would have been great to see Buffalo move up for the 2019 version of Josh Allen or take Christian Wilkins to lead their defense, but Ed Oliver has been compared to Aaron Donald, Hall of Famer John Randle, and the Tasmanian Devil based on his ability to wreck havoc on the interior. Now, the Bills have Tre’Davious White at corner, Tremaine Edmunds at linebacker, and Oliver at defensive tackle.


Daniel Jones, Duke QB

The pick: No. 6 overall (NYG) /// My ranking: No. 18 overall (-12)

What we saw more than anything last night was teams targeting and acquiring “their guy” despite what the alleged experts say, and that includes Daniel Jones—who clearly earned the affection of general manager Dave Gettleman. I had the Duke quarterback higher than anyone else in the media, and New York fans can look towards his intelligence, accuracy, touch, and toughness as the ideal successor to Eli Manning. Those with doubts should watch the Clemson game from last season.


Drafted Lower


Deandre Baker, Georgia CB

The pick: No. 30 overall (NYG) /// My ranking: No. 6 overall (+24)

The cornerback run never happened in the first round, but the Giants were able to sneak one in with a trade up for Baker, who remarkably didn’t allow a touchdown over his final two seasons at Georgia. As he said after being drafted, Baker can cover the opponent’s No. 1 receiver every week, and he has the stickiness to defend quicker options and the length to frustrate bigger targets.


Christian Wilkins, Clemson DT

The pick: No. 13 overall (MIA) /// My ranking: No. 3 overall (+10)

Before nearly taking out Commissioner Goodell on the stage, Christian Wilkins appeared to be a bit angry/disappointed at falling to No. 13, and it’s difficult to blame him based on both his on-field ability and off-field character. He will get a clean slate to set the culture for a rebuilding Miami team, though, and I’m guessing the Dolphins decided against a trade back because Wilkins was too good a value here.


Dexter Lawrence, Clemson DT

The pick: No. 17 overall (NYG) /// My ranking: No. 7 overall (+10)

It looks like the Giants are going to come away as the big “winners” based on my board for the second year in a row, as they have building blocks in Saquon Barkley, Will Hernandez, Lorenzo Carter, and B.J. Hill from last year, and now Daniel Jones, Deandre Baker, and Lawrence already this year (not to mention Jabrill Peppers being added in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade). I don’t think the Giants will have much trouble stopping the run with an athletic 342-pounder in the middle.


Josh Jacobs, Alabama RB

The pick: No. 24 overall (OAK) /// My ranking: No. 17 overall (+7)

For as much of a surprise the No. 4 pick was, the No. 24 pick seemed to be a stone-cold lock in Mike Mayock’s first draft. Jacobs will immediately be the feature back for the Raiders, and Gruden is undoubtedly thrilled that he won’t have to leave the field based on his prowess in the passing game.


Josh Allen, Kentucky EDGE

The pick: No. 7 overall (JAX) /// My ranking: No. 1 overall (+6)

Jacksonville didn’t have a need here with Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue on the roster, but Josh Allen basically fell in their laps as arguably the best player in the draft, and Tom Coughlin called him “too good of a player to possibly pass up.” Plus, Allen is versatile enough to be an off-ball linebacker, so imagine the Jags’ already-elite defense now having Allen, Myles Jack, and Telvin Smith in base personnel with the rookie kicking down in sub packages.


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