What was that? It’s difficult to make sense of any larger trends emerging from the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft because so many of the breathtaking moments were the product of the story of a specific decision-maker or team. We did have chaos, but not from the #1 pick (or #2 or #3). We were given notice of some of the most outlandish picks (at least in terms of the conventional wisdom) but it was hard to know what to believe in the deluge of information throughout the spring. It was a memorable draft but in a not entirely positive way. What exactly did we witness? And what does it mean for fantasy football?
Arizona might have an offense - The grossly telegraphed Kyler Murray (Oklahoma QB - 1) pick came to pass as predicted. In new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Murray we trust. The offensive line isn’t great, but Murray can mask some of that with his mobility. There’s plenty of talent left at wide receiver still on the board (even DK Metcalf) to upgrade outside receiver and we should see a wildly more creative offense next season. Murray is quick and fast enough to be very productive as a scrambler and should be considered as a late-round option in redraft leagues.
What about Josh Rosen? Could they keep him? They aren’t going to get a first round pick, and they might not get a second. Is it smarter to just keep another futures bet with the biggest payoff of any position in the NFL? The risk is the locker room, and further souring Rosen’s stock as he rots on the bench. All parties are probably better off if Rosen is traded. Miami is in a plum position to trade for him after the Giants and Washington took quarterbacks, but it’s not exactly fertile soil. Denver, New England, and the Chargers have also been connected to him, with only Denver offering a path to a starting job in the near future. It’s a setback for his career, but it could be fuel for the motivation fire and still enable success.
Fantasy Loser: Josh Rosen
San Francisco and the Jets gave us somewhat predictable picks, with the most obvious Nick Bosa (Ohio State EDGE - 2) to the 49ers, and what should have been more obvious Quinnen Williams (Alabama DT - 3) to the Jets. The 49ers have a very formidable front four on passing downs, and the Jets have great talent and depth on the interior offensive line, let’s see what Gregg Williams can do with it to mask the lack of edge rush.
Then Gruden went super safe. Look, Danny Kelly loved Clelin Ferrell (Clemson EDGE - 4), putting him sixth on his board. He doesn’t have the rare trait upside of say Brian Burns, but he’s a high football character well-established player who looked like a player worth this pick at times back in 2017. Oakland probably could have traded down and gotten him, but at least he’s an instant starter at a position of great need.
Another boring telegraphed pick, Devin White (LSU LB - 5) to Tampa. Instant IDP gold. Plug and play with Kwon Alexander in San Francisco.
Then we get loopy. A telegraphed pick, but not a boring one. Daniel Jones (Duke QB - 6) is your franchise quarterback Giants fans, sorry. There’s very little to get excited about here. One of his calling cards is having a head coach that coached the Manning’s. He was described as Eli Manning with less pizzazz, personality-wise. Dave Gettleman said he might sit for three years. He said he fell in love with him at the Senior Bowl. The. Senior. Bowl. A lot of us will be happy to eat crow if the underwhelming Jones hits.
Draft Loser: New York Giants
So Washington avoided the fate of trading up for Daniel Jones. Or drafting Daniel Jones.
The Jaguars had Josh Allen (Kentucky EDGE - 7) fall into their laps, a productive edge rusher who can also play in space, with room for his game to grow. Having him slide meant no boring Grandpa Coughlin pick like Jonah Williams. The Lions joined the Jets as teams heavily reported to want a trade down (and the Lions must have gotten an offer from the Steelers) and stayed home to take a tight end. Perhaps they put out that they wanted to trade down to keep someone from trading up for T.J. Hockenson (Iowa TE - 8)? They had to contemplate there was a good chance they would get him. Anyway, I believe this tight end adds extra versatility with a swiss army knife blocker skillset and plus receiving skills, plus the mentality of this offense can harvest more from his blocking.
Fantasy Winner: TJ Hockenson
The Bills get a Tasmanian Devil on the interior in Ed Oliver (Houston DT - 9). This is a big win for them and I can’t wait to watch Oliver.
Draft Winner: Buffalo
The Steelers give up inflated versions of the picks Brown and Bell (next year’s comp) turned into to get Devin Bush (Michigan LB - 10), who plugs a Ryan Shazier sized hole in the defense. Instant IDP hit. The Steelers haven’t made a move like this since Troy Polamalu, so that’s exciting. Denver gets a second this year and third next year for their trouble.
The Bengals have a high floor tackle slide to them in Jonah Williams (Alabama OT - 11). He’ll start right away, maybe at left tackle. They have done a terrific job rebuilding their offensive line. One wonders if Dwayne Haskins would have been the pick if Williams hadn’t fallen. Andre Dillard is another player that was connected to this pick. Either way, it’s a win for the Bengals offense and team.
Draft Winner: Cincinnati
The Packers were up for their first pick and took an edge rusher in Rashan Gary (Michigan DL - 12) who has a torn labrum and rarely played up to his admittedly rare set of physical traits. Now I believe you can never have enough pass rushers, and Gary can line up inside, but there were a lot of strong talents that could help Aaron Rodgers available here. Fast forward to Green Bay’s pick at 30. Err, 21. They gave up two fourth-round picks to Seattle to move up for Bob Sanders-esque safety Darnell Savage (Maryland S - 21). So no help for Rodgers via the line or the targets. There’s a lotta draft left, so we can’t call Rodgers a fantasy loser yet.
Miami did well for themselves and got dancing bear Christian Wilkins, who should instantly be a cornerstone of their defense. Atlanta swung for a single but made solid contact when they took a guard Chris Lindstrom (Boston College G - 14). They also traded back into the first to 31 to get Kaleb McGary (Washington OT - 31). These guys are both hosses who should start and improve this offensive line right away.
Washington was patient and got a great pocket passing prospect in Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State QB - 15). They need offensive line health and another receiver, but Jay Gruden is a good offensive mind and he should alter some of his bread and butter approaches to fit Haskins more stationary see it, throw it inclination to take on a defense with his mind and arm more than his feet or mobility. This will take a few years to really take root, and if Haskins plays this year, it’s actually bad for the offense, but overall it’s potentially good for the dynasty stock of Derrius Guice
Carolina got the best-case scenario when a speed rusher with length was still there at 16. I am alarmed at the lack of physicality in Brian Burns (Florida State EDGE - 16) game, but he is a rare edge rusher prospect. It’s fitting that he’s on the same team as Bruce Irvin, a similarly suspect prospect vs. the run. I’m not a fan of Burns, but I understand the viewpoint that Carolina is a Draft Winner.
And the Giants get their hog molly in Dexter Lawrence (Clemson DT - 17). It is entirely possible that Lawrence is a two-down player. Gettleman really does think it's about running and stopping the run, doesn’t he? There were any number of players that would have been redeeming picks that addressed a hole at right tackle.
Back a boringly predictable, but very strong pick when the Vikings offensive line gained Garrett Bradbury (NC State C - 18). This problem unit could firm up around him. The poor Nashville home crowd had to celebrate a first-round pick who might not play this year, but Jeffery Simmons (Mississippi State DT - 19) is a major disruptive force who could have been a top 5-7 pick if healthy. Denver gets their pick and it’s finally a fantasy position other than quarterback. Joe Flacco doesn’t exactly summon up visions of fantasy abundance, so this is a shrug-worthy destination for Noah Fant (Iowa TE - 20). He has the rare physical profile to be a primary receiver at tight end, which is still fantasy relevant, no matter how poor the quarterback is, but Green Bay and New England were linked to him, so this is a disappointment.
Fantasy Loser: Noah Fant
The Seahawks traded down to get two more fourths and took LJ Collier (TCU EDGE - 29), an edge rusher who is a mean customer, but not as flashy physically as the other first-round edge rushers. Most didn’t have him in the first. They traded down out of the first and got yet another fourth and fifth from the Giants. The Giants took a corner in DeAndre Baker, (Georgia CB - 30) that is not dissimilar from Eli Apple, who went onto play well for the Saints after Gettleman got a fourth and seventh for him.
The Eagles got in front of the Texans and smartly nabbed Andre Dillard (Washington State OT - 22) the best pass-blocking tackle in this draft. Smart teams get out ahead of needs before they become needs. Jason Peters has been great, but it’s getting late. It cost them a 4th and 6th to move up three spots.
Draft Winner: Philadelphia
Fantasy Winner: Carson Wentz
The Texans took a tackle, but not Jawaan Taylor, who many had in the top 10, but clearly has a medical concern. They took small school high ceiling project Tytus Howard (Alabama State OT - 23). Well, at least they got the position right. Hey, Terron Armstead hit from a small school, but he was a third-round pick. Deshaun Watson could be a winner or loser from this development, most would lean loser, but as with all of these propositions, time will tell.
Oakland gets Josh Jacobs (Alabama RB - 24). I’m all for this pick because he can be one of the draft’s best power backs and one of its best receiving backs. He’ll get a chance to be a clear lead back.
Fantasy Winner: Josh Jacobs
Baltimore gets Marquise Brown (Oklahoma WR - 25). He meshes well with Lamar Jackson’s ability to keep plays alive. Obviously, they feel good about his Lis Franc surgery and even though some will cast this as where fantasy receivers go to die, I love it for Brown because he has little competition and will grow with Jackson.
Fantasy Winners: Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown
Chris Ballard, you’re shrewd. The Colts get Washington’s 2020 2nd to move down 20 spots, but because they have #34, the second pick tomorrow, from the Jets trade last year, so they’ll still likely get a player they would have been happy with at 26 - and the talent doesn’t drop off much between then at 46, the pick they got from Washington. That Washington second should be an early second like the one they got from the Jets in the trade last year. Washington gets a speed to power edge rusher whose motor runs hot in Montez Sweat (Mississippi State EDGE - 26), a player that could make the cost to move up worth it.
Oakland’s up again and they get big nickel linebacker/Kam Chancellor type safety in Jonathan Abram (Mississippi State S - 27), the third of three Mississippi state defenders taken in the first round, joining the Clemson defensive line for representation tonight.
The Chargers get a great intersection of need, value, and instant impact when bull-in-a-china-shop Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame DT - 28) falls to them to revitalize their interior defensive line.
Skip to the last pick as we touched on the Seahawks, Giants, and Falcons picks earlier. Another fantasy position as N’keal Harry (Arizona State WR-32) goes to the Patriots to give help at outside receiver. Demaryius Thomas and Josh Gordon could be meaningful competition, but could also be ghosts. While Harry isn’t a strong route runner or separation creator, he is a monster at the catch point and strong after the catch. The Patriots should know what to do with him
Fantasy Winners: Tom Brady, N’keal Harry
There wasn’t much needle-movement for fantasy, but there was a lot of needle movement for storylines that will be entertaining to continue to watch unfold. The second day should be much more exciting for fantasy leagues, but it is impossible for it to be disorientingly stimulating as this first round. Here’s hoping Giants fans can get some sleep.