A draft that had no suspense in the first two picks ended up being full of some of the most stunning surprises that any draft night has offered us in recent memory. Three teams took their quarterback of the future that will soon be the quarterback of the present, including the defending Super Bowl champs. The devalued running back position only saw one taken, but defying that trend, the one went in the top five. Laremy Tunsil fell to #13 when a video of him appearing to smoke marijuana through a gas mask surfaced, and then he appeared to admit he took money from a coach. Three wide receivers went off the board in succession and none of them went to the Bengals. The player many people touted as the best overall player in the draft wasn’t even selected because of potential knee issues. This draft was one to remember for reasons that no one could have predicted 24 hours ago.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, BUF - Memphis QB Paxton Lynch was sitting there for the Bills at #19 and had been connected to the team, but they took #ForcePlayer# Clemson DE Shaq Lawson, leaving Taylor basically uncontested for the starting quarterback job.
Todd Gurley, RB, STL - #1 overall pick California QB Jared Goff might not pay dividends right away, but the mere promise of the Rams having a quarterback sometime soon makes Gurley’s ceiling even higher.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL - I will be putting Elliott third in my running back rankings behind Le’Veon Bell and Todd Gurley. Elliott will be a third-down back from the word go and he has a real shot to lead the NFL in rushing as a rookie. A marriage of elite talent to a team blueprint that features him is the stuff fantasy dreams are made of.
Joe Flacco, QB, BAL - He’s not Laremy Tunsil on the field… or off the field, but #6 pick Notre Dame OT Ronnie Stanley will help keep Flacco upright as he returns from a serious knee injury.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, MIA, DeVante Parker, WR, MIA - #13 pick Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil wasn’t expected to be on the board that late, but that didn’t throw the Dolphins. Tannehill gains a potentially elite pass blocker, which means more downfield opportunities for Parker.
Robert Griffin III, QB, CLE - The Browns didn’t take Paxton Lynch and they added a dynamic, aggressive Baylor wide receiver plus another second and third round pick. Things couldn’t have gone much better for Griffin.
Andrew Luck, QB, IND, Frank Gore, RB, IND - Luck and Gore gain a player in the pivot who is an instant starter and anchor of an offensive line that has struggled to gel since Luck was the #1 overall pick in 2012.
Kirk Cousins, QB, WAS - #22 pick TCU WR Josh Doctson is a spectacular player making catches outside of his frame, and he adds another dangerous weapon to an already diverse and peaking passing game.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, MIN - Laquon Treadwell might be the best receiver in this class to help out Bridgewater. He wins one-on-one contested balls and is a tough player to bring down after the catch. He will add a physical element that has been lacking from the Vikings receivers since Bridgewater was taken in the first round in 2014.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, MIN - Treadwell lands on a team where he can be the #1 receiver right away. While the Vikings have a low volume passing game, Treadwell is good enough to command targets and be an instant fantasy factor. He should edge out Corey Coleman to be the #1 rookie receiver on redraft boards.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU - Even if #21 pick Notre Dame WR Will Fuller drops his deep targets, his vertical speed will keep safeties from being fixated on Hopkins’ side of the field.
Brandon LaFell, WR, CIN - The Bengals were mocked to take a wide receiver in many places, but when three went successively right before their picks, they went with Houston CB William Jackson III at 24 instead.
Carlos Hyde, RB, SF - Hyde gains a ready-to-start guard with a mean streak who only has to cross the bay from Stanford to get to Santa Clara in #28 pick OG Joshua Garnett.
Lamar Miller, RB, HOU - Miller should be helped by lighter boxes because teams will have to respect Will Fuller’s ability to take the top off of a defense.
Jay Ajayi, RB, MIA - Not only did Ajayi gain a great run blocking tackle in Tunsil, and Branden Albert might be able to kick inside and bolster the interior line. Oh, and the Dolphins didn’t have a chance to trade for Ezekiel Elliott when the Cowboys took him at #4, so Ajayi remains the lead back for the Dolphins… for now.
Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN - Peterson gains the best blocking wideout in the draft in Treadwell, which could result in another long touchdown run or three when he needs to be sprung downfield.
Sam Bradford, QB, PHI - Carson Wentz should start by the end of the season, even though he could use a year of seasoning on the bench coming from the FCS level of college football.
Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, RB, DAL - The Cowboys can get good production from mediocre backs, but they won’t need to with Ezekiel Elliott on the roster.
Marcus Mariota, QB, TEN - The Titans could have gotten the best tackle in the draft in Laremy Tunsil, but instead took Michigan State’s Jack Conklin #1, a much more limited player who is more of a try-hard right tackle scrapper than a long-term all-pro left tackle.
Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, WR, WAS - Josh Doctson is one of the more pro-ready receivers in this draft. Garcon’s 7.6 million dollar salary is looking pretty expensive right now, and Doctson can also steal some downfield targets from Jackson.
Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN - Diggs was the de facto #1 receiver as a rookie in a weak passing offense, but his thunder is likely to be stolen by #23 pick Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell.
Ryan Mathews, RB, PHI - Mathews dodged a bullet when the Eagles traded up for Carson Wentz, not that Ezekiel Elliott was going to be there at #8 anyway.
Jeremy Langford, RB, CHI - Elliott’s floor was seen at #11 in Chicago or #13 in Miami. Neither came to pass, and the underwhelming Langford is still the top back and likely to remain in that spot at the beginning of the season.
Justin Forsett, Javorius Allen, RB, BAL - There was late word today that the Ravens were in play for Ezekiel Elliott, and why shouldn’t they have been with no long-term running back solution on the roster. Instead, the RBBC that floundered at times last season will likely be the temporary answer.
Dallas - The Cowboys are built around an offensive line that can beat defenses into submission, and Elliott can provide the knockout punch. He can also keep Tony Romo upright as a pass blocker. This is a true “win now” pick and one that makes the Cowboys the favorite again in the NFC East.
Jacksonville - Like most of the teams that “won” tonight, the Jaguars let this draft come to them and got a sorely needed long, fast corner who can play all over the secondary. The offense is not the problem in Jacksonville.
Miami - The Dolphins didn’t have an obvious need at offensive tackle, but they did not pass on the player many had ticketed to go #1 at the beginning of draft season. This should be a boon for new offensive-minded head coach Adam Gase.
Cleveland - The Browns scooped up two extra top 100 picks and added a signature offensive player in Baylor WR Corey Coleman at #15 who should be a centerpiece of their pass offense in short order.
Denver - The Broncos got the quarterback they wanted (Memphis’s Paxton Lynch) and only had to pay a late third to do it, unlike the Rams and Eagles.
Tampa Bay - The Bucs got their clear target all along in Vernon Hargreaves and pocketed an early fourth round pick (#106) for their troubles moving down two spots. The Giants even took a cornerback at #10, endangering the Bucs plan, but it wasn’t Hargreaves thankfully for Tampa.
Minnesota - The Vikings got the ideal new target for Teddy Bridgewater, blocker for the running game, and intense competitor that fits Mike Zimmer’s ethos. Laquon Treadwell had to be the best case scenario for a team that continue to draft well in the first round under GM Rick Spielman.
Tennessee - The Titans squandered two valuable top 100 picks to move back up for a limited ceiling right tackle in Jack Conklin.
Pittsburgh - After seeing potential target and excellent player Houston CB William Jackson III go right in front of them, the Steelers took a project corner in Miami CB Artie Burns who has upside, and not much else going for him.
New York Giants - It’s not Eli Apple wasn’t slotted in the first round, it’s that he certainly wasn’t slotted ahead of consensus #2 corner Vernon Hargreaves from Florida. The #10 pick was likely earmarked for Conklin of #9 pick Georgia LB Leonard Floyd, but when the Bears leapfrogged them to get Floyd, the Giants took a project corner in Apple that has a high ceiling, but is still well below typical top 10 pick value.
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