The first round of the 2019 NFL Draft is over, and grades for all 32 picks are in. The first round was filled with some shocking selections in the top 10, providing plenty of value after it. Into the 20s, trades started coming fast with teams targeting the players they wanted.
These grades are based on a combination of factors starting with player value. After that, filling need and personnel fit are considered. Of course, these are way too early. We’ll re-visit them in a few years to see the true value.
1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
This pick is something of an indictment on Cardinals general manager Steve Keim one year after trading up to take quarterback Josh Rosen with the No. 10 pick in the 2018 draft. But the pairing of Murray with new Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is a natural fit. He is capable of operating Kingsbury’s high-octane offense. Now the Cardinals just need to build around Murray correctly and figure out what to do with Rosen.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
When the Cardinals took Murray, this became an easy choice for the 49ers. In Bosa, they get the best player in the 2019 draft. He’s a pass rusher teams need to scheme against. As long as he can stay healthy, the 49ers optimized value and need with the second pick in the draft. Maybe now, finally, the 49ers can stop taking defensive linemen in the first round.
3. New York Jets: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The Jets tried to trade the third pick to no avail. There’s nothing wrong with getting Williams, though. He’s a powerhouse defensive tackle who splits gaps with ease and can disrupt the pocket. Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams likes to create pressure up the middle. Now the Jets have that, mitigating the concern about their outside players. The only slight issue that the Jets still have Leonard Williams, and the makeup of their defensive line remains a little puzzling.
4. Oakland Raiders: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
This was the first true stunner of the night. Most figured that Ferrell would be around in the 15-25 range of the draft. That makes this a reach of pretty great proportions. The positive about this pick that he Ferrell fits Oakland’s defense perfectly as Ferrell is a true 4-3 end. And Oakland had the worst pass rush in the NFL last year, totaling just 13 sacks. But Ferrell didn’t profile as a top-five pick. He could be a fine pro. But the expectations are sky high now that he’s a top-five pick.
There were teams with 2nd-round grades on Clelin Ferrell. #Raiders may have just outsmarted everyone, but “bold” would be an understatement for the first pick of the Mayock/Gruden era.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 26, 2019
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White, LB, LSU
This is the player the Buccaneers needed. After losing Kwon Alexander in free agency, Tampa Bay needed a linebacker who can do everything. That’s White, the best linebacker in this draft. He works sideline-to-sideline with ease and he covers tight ends and running backs well. He’s also a great character person who will quickly become the leader of Tampa’s defense.
6. New York Giants: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Look. Here’s what to like about this pick. The Giants get their successor to Eli Manning with Jones, a quarterback who had practically zero NFL talent around him at Duke. Jones throws a decent deep ball and has solid athleticism. But this is a reach. A huge one. Most thought this pick would happen at No. 17, not No. 6. Unless the Giants were convinced a team like Washington or Miami would take Jones they probably could have gotten him later.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen, DE, Kentucky
No one was considering this pick because most thought Allen would be long gone by this point. Getting Allen trumps taking an offensive tackle. He was the best player available and give the Jaguars potentially their own version of Khalil Mack. This is how the Jaguars can help fix a defense that just two years ago was arguably the best in the NFL.
8. Detroit Lions: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
If Lions head coach Matt Patricia is adamant on recreating the New England Patriots, he just got his Rob Gronkowski. Just a little smaller. Hockenson is the most complete tight end in the draft with his ability to block and catch the ball. Hockenson is a good athlete too and will make some plays after the catch. The only thing that makes this strange is the Lions just signed Jesse James in free agency.
9. Buffalo Bills: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
The picks of Ferrell and Jones allowed Oliver to drop right into Buffalo’s lap. Oliver can be the Kyle Williams replacement for the Bills, with even more of a pass rush playing three-technique. Even if he’s discount Aaron Donald that is still really, really good. Now the Bills need to focus the rest of their draft surrounding quarterback Josh Allen with talent.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
The Steelers made a trade solely based on supply-and-demand, jumping all the way up from No. 20 to No. 10 to take Bush. From a need standpoint, this is a move the Steelers had to make. The loss of Ryan Shazier created a hole in Pittsburgh’s defense. In this draft, there are two high-level linebackers in Bush and White. In that regard, it was smart for the Steelers to get Bush because the supply just isn’t there. But giving up that much draft capital for a linebacker is tough to defend. It won’t matter when Bush makes a Pro Bowl though.
Pittsburgh trades 20, 52, and a 2020 3rd to move up to the 10th pick. That’s a lot — based on my draft value chart, Pittsburgh paid at least 150 cents on the dollar for that move. https://t.co/gADjTSgh92
— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) April 26, 2019
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Bush might have been the guy for the Bengals. But here they are again taking another offensive tackle high in the draft. Can Williams be the player that Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher were not? Williams is a sound, consistent blocker who can hold down left tackle for Cincinnati for years. Hopefully. Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins could have seriously been argued for the pick here because Andy Dalton has been average. But a blocker like Williams should ideally maximize what Dalton can do.
12. Green Bay Packers: Rashan Gary, LB, Michigan
Gary, at 277 pounds, was announced as a linebacker. That’s a little dubious. Gary is a lengthy edge player filled with traits. His get off and acceleration are incredible. But at Michigan he never put it together consistently. For Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, Gary should be a player who can line up at end, work some inside and, yes, maybe even stand up at linebacker. But after signing Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, Gary’s snaps might be a little limited.
13. Miami Dolphins: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
The value is there with this pick by the Dolphins. Wilkins was graded by me (and others) as one of the 10 best players in the draft. Wilkins is a tough, athletic player with a magnetic personality. He is quick off the block and plays with a ton of hustle. And don’t forget, Clemson played him a lot at defensive end as a sophomore. But is a defensive tackle the biggest need for Miami?
14. Atlanta Falcons: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College
With the run on defensive tackles, the Falcons were left going after the offensive line at No. 14. Lindstrom is a solid player. A starter in the NFL without question. Lindstrom is an aggressive blocker who doesn’t mind driving defenders into the ground. He’s not on the same level as Quenton Nelson last year, but he will improve Atlanta’s run offense in a big way.
15. Washington: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Washington owner Dan Snyder got the player he wanted. And he did the right thing? That’s weird to say about Snyder. It was speculated that Washington would trade up for Haskins. That didn’t have to happen. In Haskins, Washington has its franchise quarterback of the future. When you can get that in the middle of the first round you’re doing something right. Haskins may be limited as a pocket passer only, but those players can still be plenty successful in the NFL.
16. Carolina Panthers: Brian Burns, DE, Florida State
The Panthers, in need of pass rushers, were fortunate to see Burns drop all the way down to No. 16. Burns’ get off and bend around the edge are special. In that regard, he’s comparable to Bruce Irvin. As a pro, Burns needs to get stronger and play the run better. But he fits a big need for the Panthers at a premium position. Carolina was one of the worst teams in the NFL at getting after the quarterback. That should change with Burns.
17. New York Giants: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Instead of taking a pass rusher, the Giants took a powerful nose tackle in Lawrence. While Ferrell and Wilkins got most of the attention on Clemson’s line, Lawrence was the one eating up blocks letting them beat single blockers. What’s odd about this pick is that the Giants shouldn’t have had to make it. In October nose tackle Damon Harrison — one of the best players at his position in the NFL — was traded for just a fifth-round pick. That makes this choice strange. It’s nothing against Lawrence. He’s a good player. This is more about how the Giants are constructing their roster.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Garrett Bradbury, C, North Carolina State
A year after giving a massive contract to Kirk Cousins, this is the player the Vikings needed to take. That’s why it became so popular in mock drafts. Bradbury is an athletic center who will get up on the second level in the run game. As a pass blocker, he has quick feet to mirror defenders. With him at center, Pat Elflein can move to guard. Suddenly the Vikings have bolstered their interior in front of Cousins.
19. Tennessee Titans: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
This pick is obviously a huge risk since Simmons might miss the season after tearing his ACL after the season. When he’s healthy, Simmons is arguably one of the four or five best players in this draft. But in a year where the Titans really need to figure out if quarterback Marcus Mariota is their future, this pick doesn’t help answer that question.
Multiple teams viewed new Titans’ DT Jeffrey Simmons as a top-5 pick, even though he went at No. 19. One even called him “the best player in this draft.” Of course there are well-documented disturbing issues with him.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 26, 2019
20. Denver Broncos: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
It was smart of the Broncos to trade back and get Fant here instead of rushing him with the 10th pick. For several years Denver has been trying to land a tight end. It just didn’t work with middle-round picks like Jake Butt and Jeff Heuerman for various reasons. Fant is a different type of player. For new Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco, he can be a weapon and a safety valve. Fant might be one of the frontrunners for Rookie of the Year.
21. Green Bay Packers: Darnell Savage, S, Maryland
This pick surprised a lot of people. When the Packers traded up with Seattle, the assumption was that it would be for a wide receiver like Marquise Brown or an offensive tackle. Savage was a late riser in the draft process. He’s a quick and active safety who closes on the ball in a hurry. After the signing of safety Adrian Amos, the Packers now have a loaded secondary.
In terms of the trade, it’s not bad for Green Bay giving up two fourth-round picks and No. 30 to get up to No. 21 for Savage. I just didn’t personally have as high of a grade on him.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
It’s imperative that Carson Wentz stays healthy. When Jason Peters retires, Dillard should be able to step in immediately and keep Wentz upright. The Eagles had to make a trade to make this pick happen.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 26, 2019
But is it a good idea to trade extra picks to take a backup? That’s the risk built in with trading up and taking a player who might not be on the field until 2020.
23. Houston Texans: Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State
Houston got played by Philadelphia. Dillard was the player Houston needed and wanted. But instead of being aggressive, the Texans sat back and got leapfrogged by the Eagles. That left them to reach on Howard. He’s a fascinating player. He’s a highly athletic tackle and he held his own when Alabama State played higher level teams. But he was more of a second-round player for most. But Houston had to come out of the first round with a player who can keep Deshaun Watson from getting plastered. Howard played right tackle in college. If Houston was fine with that, why not take Florida’s Jawaan Taylor?
24. Oakland Raiders: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
This pick has been expected for months. After Philadelphia took an offensive tackle, it became destiny for the Raiders. Jacobs is the draft’s running back by a wide margin. He’s a well-rounded player who runs with balance and vision. He gets downhill in a hurry and will run through arm tackles. He’s a factor in the passing game too. The only knock is the positional value of a running back in the first round.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
The Ravens smartly traded back and filled a big need with a speedy, vertical wide receiver. Brown is a player who can take the top off a defense and help the development of Lamar Jackson as a passer. Baltimore even got some extra draft picks to boot. The issue with Brown is his size at just over 5’9 and 166 pounds. Brown will be one of the smallest wide receivers in the NFL. But he’s a player who can work out of the slot or outside.
26. Washington: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Washington didn’t have to give up much to get back into the first round, sending No. 46 and a 2020 second-round pick to the Colts. Only giving up that much, it landed them Sweat, the best player available and a big need fill. This type of move is what the draft is all about.
27. Oakland Raiders: Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
In Abram, the Raiders got a tone setter in the back half of the defense. Abram is a violent hitter who has several highlight reel tackles to his credit. Along with Karl Joseph and free agent signee Lamarcus Joyner, the Raiders now have three safeties who will give them a lot of versatility in the secondary.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
The Chargers had a lot of options at No. 28. They could’ve taken an offensive tackle or cornerback and it would’ve been fine. Tillery is a fine choice in his own regard. Los Angeles needed defensive line help in the middle. Tillery gives the Chargers a player who can keep some attention off Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
29. Seattle Seahawks: L.J. Collier, Edge, TCU
This is very much a Seahawks type of pick. Not viewed by many as a first-round player, Collier was a consistent and power defensive end who can be a versatile player on the line for Seattle.
30. New York Giants: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Giants made a jump back into the first round to take the first cornerback off the board in Baker. But is he best cornerback in the draft? From an aggression standpoint and scheme versatility, that argument can be made. Of New York’s three first-round picks, this is the best one.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
Atlanta is another team that jumped into the back half of the first round and took McGary, a pure right tackle. He’s a powerful blocker who played in 53 games at Washington. Doubling up on offensive linemen in the first round, and not having any picks on Day 2 now, is quite a gamble for Atlanta.
32. New England Patriots: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
The Patriots had a ton of great options at No. 32. And of course they did. They’re the Patriots and things aren’t fair. New England had their choice of wide receivers like Harry, D.K. Metcalf or Hakeem Butler. A cornerback like Byron Murphy of Washington would’ve been fine. Harry gives the Patriots a physical presence at wide receiver who will pull down difficult passes.