So, we’ve come to the end of one of the most drawn-out processes in all of sport – the NFL Draft is finished and the stars of the future are at their respective franchises. But which teams nabbed superstars, and which teams look sure to continue in mediocrity for the foreseeable future?
The key to a good draft is establishing a balance between three things: filling positional needs, finding the proper talent and understanding the board so you get the best value out of your selections. Here’s three teams that shone, and three teams that even their new multi-million-dollar recruits are unsure about joining.
Winners – New York Giants
They could have panicked and taken a quarterback, but they didn’t listen to the nonsensical ‘value’ argument – they just went and attacked. Saquon Barkley is the best player in this draft and the best running back since Ladainian Tomlinson.
They followed that theme by picking the nastiest body-mover in the draft in Will Hernandez. Despite having only six picks, five of them were home run selections. Lorenzo Carter is a well-coached bruiser from Georgia whose value on the board was huge at 66.
B.J. Hill adds depth to a defensive line that’s already terrifying if a little light in terms of numbers, and they got one of the most intriguing quarterbacks in the country in Kyle Lauletta. Top class.
Winners – Cincinnati Bengals
Listen, as long as Andy Dalton is under centre, the Bengals will remain largely irrelevant. However, should they decide to part with him at any stage, the future looks bright immediately.
The 21st pick is an awkward position to choose usually because you’ve missed the top-tier guys and the Pro Bowl-potential picks are in unexciting positions. They didn’t care.
Billy Price is a leader of men at centre, while Jessie Bates was comfortably the best single-high safety in the class. Sam Hubbard is a better-coached if slightly-less-athletic Bradley Chubb, and Malik Jefferson is a general at ‘Mike’ linebacker out of Texas.
When you figure that they also got guys in skill positions like Mark Walton, they’ve done well. Oh, and the best pick in the final round? Auden Tate. Baller.
Winners – Miami Dolphins
Nothing ever seems to go right for the Fins these days, but it appears they’ve come up trumps on this occasion. Now, a pinch of salt must be taken because Ryan Tannehill is still in complete control of pre-play audibles, but that should fix itself in time.
Grabbing Minkah Fitzpatrick at #11 is a tremendous value selection and they finally have a piece that can play in multiple positions on the field. For too long, they’ve been one-dimensional.
Mike Gesicki is the best tight end in that class and it’s not even close. He’s got a bit left to do in terms of blocking, but his drop rate is tiny, he’s got Gronk-like stature and he’s a lot less trouble.
Jerome Baker was one of the value picks of the third round and they added skill position help in the shape of Kalen Ballage. Don’t sleep on him.
Losers – Oakland Raiders
First of all, they got a tiny ransom for trading back in the first round. Then, with that pick, they took a tackle with dodgy footwork in Kolton Miller.
There were countless better defensive linemen available than P.J. Hall in the second round, and they drafted a punter!
Maurice Hurst could be the best value pick of the entire draft, but they only seemed to pull the trigger on him here because of the negative PR they were getting in the earlier rounds. His heart condition is serious enough for 31 other teams to pass on.
Arden Key is one of the most talented edge-rushers in the draft but he’s got more character concerns than most prospects who got into trouble with the law, so that’s a major negative in the third round. Their late-round picks were even uninspiring.
Ironically, the Vegas-bound Raiders gambled – and lost.
Losers – Buffalo Bills
Trade up for a quarterback? Yes – they’re going to pick Josh Rosen and be set for life! Wait, what? Josh ALLEN? Deary me, Buffalo.
They follow that up with a 19-year-old project at linebacker who has superb upside, but can’t contribute right away. Tremaine Edmunds has NFL size, he can probably cover tight ends, but in terms of starting ability as a will linebacker? No guarantee.
Both of their late-round receiver picks were ill-advised and their entire haul was only saved by the shrewd pick-up of technician D-lineman Harrison Phillips. The Stanford alumnus is certainly one of the most intelligent prospects in this year’s class.
Losers – New Orleans Saints
That just leaves last year’s MVPs of the draft – the Saints. I’m struggling to understand what their plan was here. They’ve a tiny window in which to land another Super Bowl with Drew Brees, so they – take a raw edge rusher and give up next year’s draft capital for him? Ouch.
Marcus Davenport will likely develop into a good player. But he’s a pure pass rusher who’s weak against the run, can’t set an edge and is going to take years to even refine his third-down potential.
If you actually go through their picks, only Will Clapp represents value meeting ability, and that was in the seventh round. Sure, these guys will be around this year because of last year’s super haul, but they should be in a far stronger position now, especially after trading up where they could have landed Derwin James.