This year’s draft was like all drafts, there were some great decisions made and some questionable ones, too. No two teams will evaluate players the same but there are also going to always be some late risers and fallers that throw a wrench into the whole thing. For this exercise, we thought we would look at five teams that made slam dunk picks while also questioning five other teams that may have spit the bit.
Slam Dunk- Chargers get Derwin James (17th overall)
This one fell right into their lap but kudos to them for making it a reality. As the first round shook out, James was falling. He’s clearly one of the best athletes in the class and can serve as a defensive chess piece for the Chargers secondary that elected not to re-sign Tre Boston. What a gift for the Chargers but a nightmare for opposing offenses this year.
Head Scratcher- Saints trade up for Marcus Davenport (14th overall)
When the announcement was made that the Saints were moving up, it made sense if they were looking at a quarterback. It did not make sense to trade their 27th overall pick, and next year’s first round pick, to move up and select a project pass rusher. You don’t jeopardize your future when you have a 38-year-old quarterback. Davenport can become a great edge rusher with the right coaching but he’s not ready to make that jump immediately. What’s worse is that the Saints may have been able to pay much less for him if they were just a little patient.
Slam Dunk- Cowboys wait and get rewarded with Connor Williams (50th overall)
Watching all those fringe first-round lineman get scooped up before Dallas was on the clock Friday night may have been just a little nerve-racking. However, the Cowboys war room remained calm and were able to get incredible value in the second round. Williams was certainly worthy of first-round consideration when you look at the scope of the linemen in that round. Instead, he and the Cowboys made magic by coming together in the second round. This could be one of the more valuable picks of the entire weekend as Williams should step right into a starting role on one of the NFL’s best units.
Head Scratcher- Raiders trade back for Kolton Miller (15th overall)
When you talk about project offensive linemen, Miller is probably the biggest one in this class. Sure, he’s got the raw athleticism but he lacks play strength, technique, and the footwork to start at tackle right now. At best, Miller was a day two consideration but NFL teams fall in love with testing numbers to which Miller completely aced. Trading back to 15 with the Cardinals was fine but desperately grasping for a tackle in a week class has Jon Gruden under scrutiny. It didn’t get all that much better for the Raiders either and league whispers are only more puzzling:
Sounds like the #Raiders essentially had two draft boards. McKenzie and staff's main board and Gruden and staff's digital board. Suggests a really bad draft process. Instead of being able to work from the board, they had to come into some sort of alignment for each pick.— Christopher Hansen (@ChrisHansenNFL) April 30, 2018
Slam Dunk- Eagles taking fallen warrior Josh Sweat (130th overall)
Sweat had some medical concerns turn up late that were similar to what Myles Jack faced a few years ago. Folks have no clue if he’ll be a one-contract player or if his career will extend. What they do know is that he’s a fringe first-round pass rusher that slipped all the way to one of the best defenses in the NFL. Sweat can contribute right now as a rotational piece on the defending world champions defense. A nasty pass rush just became harder to deal with.
Head Scratcher- Seahawks selection of Rashaad Penny (27th overall)
With all those interior linemen still left on the board or some defensive help for a team that has seen it’s strength weakened as of late, to take a running back was a surprise. To take a third-round back with much higher rated runners on the board was insane. The Seahawks may like his speed and explosiveness but they could have helped themselves a lot more with some protection for Russell Wilson and worried about the running back later.
Slam Dunk- The entirety of the Chicago Bears draft
With a young quarterback the best thing to do is to fill out the roster with the best players you can find. The Bears had an amazing draft that started by having one of the best talents in linebacker, Roquan Smith, fall to them at eighth overall. They followed that up with James Daniels, one of the best linemen in the draft to protect Mitch Trubisky. In the third round, they got the quarterback’s best friend in Anthony Miller that can be anywhere you need him and is extremely route savvy. Overall, the Bears truly knocked it out of the park.
Head Scratcher- Chiefs trading up for Breeland Speaks (46th overall)
The Chiefs didn’t have a first-rounder this year, having traded that to get Pat Mahomes in last year’s draft. Going after Speaks here just seems like a reach and a half as he’s got much later grade by most experts. He may be versatile but his motor is questionable and he’s definitely flashy but his body of work is lacking. At best, the Chiefs traded capital to go up for a rotational player. This move was only compounded by their next pick, trading up for a nose tackle, Derrick Nnadi, giving up their fourth-round pick in the process. Just a strange day at the office for this bunch.
Slam Dunk- Lions pulling late trigger on Tyrell Crosby (153rd overall)
The value of getting one of this class’ best offensive lineman here late is incredible. Crosby was Dane Brugler’s fourth-rated tackle. This may not be the best class for tackles but Crosby is one with the highest ceiling. There is no doubt that he will be a welcome face in the Motor City and find a job rather quickly. He’s got the size, athleticism, and natural fluidity that you want in a blocker. The Lions stole one for sure after so many teams passed on him.
Head Scratcher- 49ers going with Mike McGlinchey in Top-10 (9th overall)
Was he the best tackle in the class? Maybe he was but if they wanted him there is little doubt he would have been there in a trade down. The 49ers reached for a tackle that has to get better in pass protection before he’s blocking on the regular for Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s a solid player that has tremendous upside but the talent the 49ers passed on to get McGlinchey was too great to warrant this early move.