Yes, some will say the Steelers essentially traded Antonio Brown for Diontae Johnson and a fifth-rounder. But let’s remember: Johnson is much, much cheaper, and also—presumably—not anywhere near as much of a problem in the locker room. Pittsburgh’s scheme is simple and Ben Roethlisberger is easy to play with. Can Johnson compete right away?
As we covered in the Deebo Samuel write-up, San Francisco’s scheme is receiver-friendly, assuming that receiver has respectable fundamentals. With Hurd, that may take time, as his experience is predominantly at running back. Hurd appears to simply give the Niners depth and options, but given that this team had other needs (namely defensive back), we can assume he wouldn’t be here unless Kyle Shanahan had a specific plan for him.
Here’s the edge rusher that New York’s roster has been pining for. Some are concerned that Polite isn’t stout enough to hold up against the run, but you can live with your third-rounder becoming just a situation player if those situations involve critical third downs.
If you want to be a smashmouth offense, it’s hard to envision where a gadget, flex-style tight end fits in. Oliver did not block at San Jose State…if he comes on the field in any situation other than an obvious passing one, defenses could get a tell.
Henderson is not here to replace Rams star RB Todd Gurley, but he is definitely here to spell him. Gurley’s knee is a long-term concern and his performance fell off drastically last season, so the Rams likely view this as an upgrade at both Henderson’s and Gurley’s spots.
Cincy’s linebacking corps is grossly lacking. Though weighing 240, not 250-plus, Pratt has the inside thumping style of play that the team sacrificed in dumping Vontaze Burfict. Don’t be surprised if the rookie plays a big role right away.
Picking Singletary suggests the Bills will not retain LeSean McCoy when his deal expires after this season. Like McCoy, Singletary has a renowned jump cut, which can be a valuable trait in the NFL, where so much of the running game comes down to creating your own space within confined areas.
Some see Sternberger as a Travis Kelce-type weapon. That’s not to say the one-year Texas A&M wonder will become an All-Pro, but it does mean the Packers are addressing their need for a receiving tight end after having passed on Iowa’s Noah Fant earlier. In new head coach Matt LaFleur’s scheme, the tight end will be asked to play by himself on the weak side at times. You need athletic receiving prowess to do that.
It’s not often that a rookie QB enters the NFL with a familiar target, but that’s what McLaurin gives Dwayne Haskins after both played together at Ohio State. Washington does as good as job as almost any team at creating opportunities for receivers through design.
Deiter started all four years at Wisconsin (after redshirting) and should start in Year One with the Dolphins, who had iffy backups Chris Reed and Isaac Asiata penciled in at left guard. Deiter is a strong, nasty competitor who also has versatility.
The Rams have said they want to sign Marcus Peters, who’s in the final year of his deal, to a long-term contract, but could drafting Long mean the end is near for Aqib Talib, whose contract expires after this season? Some see Long as a slot corner, but his physical press-man style might translate effectively to the outside.
Takitaki was considered a boom-or-bust performer at BYU. Assuming the Browns will re-up productive middle linebacker Joe Schobert when his contract expires after 2019, this pick could have been made with special teams primarily in mind.
The Lions play a lot of six-and seven-DB packages under Matt Patricia, making secondary depth and versatility a key component for this defense. Anyone in this scheme must have the ability to match up one-on-one in space, and the Lions hope Harris can do that, particularly against tight ends.
With right guard Kevin Pamphile in a contract year, the hope is Davis can assume that starting job in 2020. He’s known as a mauler, which is interesting because the Titans employ an outside zone scheme, which is built more on agility.
Layne is perceived as a plus-sized bump-and-run corner, which the Steelers need after finally admitting (albeit tacitly) that Artie Burns has been a bust. Pittsburgh runs a zone scheme, but their outside corners are often required to matchup to receivers vertically. With ex-Chief Steven Nelson aboard, Layne has time to develop from an initially lesser role.
Kansas City’s run defense has been perplexingly poor over the years. A change in scheme (from Bob Sutton and his 3-4 to Steve Spagnuolo and his 4-3) will help, but so will adding new bodies up front. Scouts like Saunders’s suddenness.
Many saw Ferguson as a higher-level prospect, but he didn’t test well prior to the draft. His film, however, showed good hand usage and a productive speed-to-power rush. The Ravens need a replacement for Za’Darius Smith and might need another next year for Matt Judon, who is slated for free agency. 2017 second day picks Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams have not developed, so the Ravens are trying again.
Warring is a freakish, high-upside, under-the-radar prospect for a Texans team that drafted two tight ends last year—Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas—and found distinct roles for both of them. With Ryan Griffin in a contract year, the team appears to be looking for insurance and long-term options.
This one is a little surprising, as Harris figures to be more of a first- and second-down back, which is precisely what last year’s first-round pick, Sony Michel, is for this team. James White and Rex Burkhead are also under contract to 2021. Still, Harris is a productive player from a storied program, so you can’t outright rip the decision.
In Seattle’s scheme, linebackers must have the speed to drop deeper into coverage and then quickly converge on the ball after the catch. Some question whether Barton climbs high enough on those charts, but with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright still going strong, Seattle need only find a No. 3 linebacker to play 12-16 snaps a game.
Behind Darius Leonard and Anthony Walker, the Colts struggled at No. 3 linebacker spot, which was often manned by Matthew Adams. Opponents at times went with two tight ends so they could deliberately attack Adams in coverage. Some might question whether Okereke, at 240 pounds, is stout enough to be a No. 3 base linebacker, but in Indy’s scheme, quickness is most critical in that position.
Last year’s supposed second-round steal Connor Williams struggled to anchor and maintain pass blocks as a rookie, and he might not have the girth to prosper in the NFL. McGovern provides some long-term insurance here. Plus, if La’el Collins is not re-signed in 2020, that could necessitate Williams moving to right tackle, opening a spot at guard.
Edoga was a highly touted prospect who did not always play up to his abilities at USC. The Jets appear to be rolling the dice, hoping to find a developmental project who could sneak into a starting role down the road. It’s worth noting that their top three offensive tackles, Kelvin Beachum, Brandon Shell and backup Brent Qvale are all in the final year of their contracts.
Yes, drafting Marquise Brown in the first round takes some of the sting off Baltimore’s dire need at wide receiver, but entering Friday night, it was still a position of need. Boykin is viewed more as a developmental project. Do they believe he can contribute immediately in a No. 4 role?
Giants fans might be decrying the failure to get an edge rusher earlier, but defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s blitz-intensive system puts more emphasis on players winning in solo coverage than off the edge. The hope is that Ximines can follow through.
The Bills are not deep at wide receiver and they need to simplify their system for young QB Josh Allen. A great solution is to go with multiple tight ends, which puts the defense in more predictable looks and gives you more dimension in the running game.
With long arms, Evans is built like a true offensive tackle. That’s not to say he can’t play guard—but if he is indeed a tackle, it likely means the Rams plan on moving their presumed tackle of the future, 2018 third-round pick Joe Noteboom, inside. Something to keep an eye on.
Edwards was a versatile four-year starter in the SEC. Now he joins a Bucs scheme that places a premium on safety versatility, with Todd Bowles at defensive coordinator. The new staff is not tied to any of the incumbent safeties, and none of those incumbent safeties—save for maybe Justin Evans—are clear starters. Could Edwards become a first-unit player?
And so it turns out that the dark horse QB in this draft wasn’t a dark horse at all, just another projected long-term backup. Given Cam Newton’s shoulder problems, backup QB might prove to be a critical position in Carolina.
Mattison’s determined, urgent running style fits a team that wants to be run-oriented. He certainly won’t challenge Dalvin Cook for significant playing time, but he could spell Cook in certain run-oriented packages.