Review of the 2019 NFL Draft
The 2019 NFL Draft wrapped up a little over a month ago, when UCLA tight end Caleb Wilson was selected with the 254th pick, becoming this year’s “Mr. Irrelevant.” As many readers know, drafts picks are scrutinized by pundits from the moment their names are called on Draft Day to the day they retire from the league. Though I myself am not a notable draftnik like ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., I had some opinions after the draft. I broke them down into Steals, Reaches, and Surprises:
STEAL - Dwayne Haskins, QB
The Washington Redskins had arguably the best draft of any team this year, and they started off with one of the steals of the draft. Ohio State product Dwayne Haskins was projected to be a top-10 pick, with little to no chance of falling past the Miami Dolphins at #13. If the Redskins wanted the hometown star, it was thought that they would have to trade up. However, everything fell into place -- including their division rival the Giants taking a different quarterback, Duke’s Daniel Jones, at #6 -- for them to snag the man many believe can be a force in the NFL for years to come. Even better for the Redskins, the draft capital that they saved by not trading up for Haskins allowed them to trade back into the first round for Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat at #26, a steal in his own right.
REACH - Daniel Jones, QB
The Giants reached. There should not be any debate about it. If Daniel Jones was truly the man whom they wanted to succeed two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning at the quarterback position, they probably could have still picked him with the 17th pick and taken a potentially generational talent in Kentucky’s Josh Allen at #6. Jones was generally considered the third- or fourth-ranked quarterback in the draft behind Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, and sometimes Drew Lock, yet he went second out of all of them and was a top-10 pick. Sorry, Giants fans. That classifies as a reach.
SURPRISE - Clelin Ferrell, DE
After the first three picks of the draft went according to the general consensus, the Oakland Raiders were on the board to really set the night in motion. Most signs pointed to them picking an edge rusher to replace Khalil Mack, and they did, but it was not the rusher who was expected. With an arguable top-3 talent still on the board in Josh Allen, the Raiders went for Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell instead. There is no denying that Ferrell is a talented player and was deserving of a first-round pick. After all, he did lead the top-ranked defense in the country in sacks en route to a national championship. However, he was generally expected to fall to the middle of the first round, not be taken off the board in the top 5. While I would not yet classify this as a bad pick by the Raiders, it was certainly a surprise for fans and analysts alike.
STEAL - Greedy Williams, CB
After trading away the #17 pick to the Giants for receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the Cleveland Browns were left without a first rounder. That did not stop them from picking a first-round talent, however, in LSU defensive back Andraez “Greedy” Williams. Early in the year, Williams was often projected as a top-5 pick, yet he fell to the Browns at pick #46. Concerns about his tackling abilities and overall physicality likely caused the slip, but many still considered him the top corner in the draft, and the idea that he lasted until midway through the second round is beyond belief.
REACH - Jahlani Tavai, LB
The past few drafts, the Detroit Lions have been stocking up on linebackers, hoping at least one will be a difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately for them, none have panned out yet, and Hawaii’s Jahlani Tavai does not seem to be the answer either. Tavai was generally pegged as a Day 3 pick, yet the Lions grabbed him in the second round. Concerns about his speed are many, and one could argue that the Lions should have passed on tight end T.J. Hockenson with the #8 pick to take Michigan’s Devin Bush, a backer with blazing speed and strong instincts. Though Hockenson was a solid pick, he does not fill an immediate need for Detroit, and Tavai does not look to be the solution at linebacker they desire.
SURPRISE - Jawaan Taylor, OT
Quite a few mock drafts had Florida lineman Jawaan Taylor landing in Jacksonville to protect new quarterback Nick Foles. While they were correct in that regard, they got the round wrong. Taylor was often projected to go #7 to the Jaguars, but he fell to Day 2 and was snapped up at #35 instead. Thanks to this unexpected fall, the Jaguars were able to nab their top pocket protector to complement a top defensive talent in Josh Allen. Despite having to wait a while to be selected, Taylor should be happy with the situation he will find himself in in Jacksonville.
STEAL - N'Keal Harry, WR
The rich keep getting richer. Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry was widely considered a top, if not the top, receiver in this draft class, yet he fell to the bottom of the first round to the Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. While Harry was still taken in the first round, as he should have been, what makes this pick a steal is that he fell past a number of receiver-needy teams like the Ravens, who took a different receiver in Oklahoma’s Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Brown is by all means a deserving first rounder, but Harry’s game translates much better into the NFL and he should have been the pick for Baltimore, keeping him out of New England’s hands.
SURPRISE - Tyree Jackson, QB
Tyree Jackson almost out-prototypes the NFL quarterback prototype. He is a whopping 6’7” with a cannon for an arm. Though he was considered a project coming out of Buffalo, almost no one expected that he would go undrafted. Most thought he would be a Day 3 selection, the fifth or sixth quarterback taken in the draft. However, no team wanted to gamble on him, and he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Buffalo Bills to back up another big-armed young quarterback in Josh Allen (unrelated to the aforementioned Jaguars edge rusher). Jackson is an excellent insurance plan in case Allen’s running ever gets him in injury trouble, and could be considered a steal despite not actually being drafted.