Brugler: Favorite 5 teams in 2018 draft
With all 256 picks in the books, the instant reactions begin. Only time will tell which teams "won" or "lost" the 2018 NFL Draft with the picks they made, but there were several teams who stood out with the haul of players they added to the roster.
Below are five of my favorite draft classes from the 2018 NFL Draft.
5 -- Atlanta Falcons
1 (26) - Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
2 (58) - Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
3 (90) - Deadrin Senat, DT, South Florida
4 (126) - Ito Smith, RB, Southern Miss
6 (194) - Russell Gage, WR, LSU
6 (200) - Foye Oluokun, LB/S, Yale
The Falcons have one of the league's most productive passing offenses and that air attack will only be stronger in 2018 with the addition of Ridley, joining Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Oliver was a steal outside the top-50 picks and strengthens an already talented cornerback depth chart. One of my favorite players in the draft, Senat will be a valuable part of the defensive tackle rotation with his ability to play the run and penetrate the pocket. Smith looks like the future replacement for Tevin Coleman and Oluokun is a traits prospect worth the late-round gamble.
4 -- Dallas Cowboys
1 (19) - Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
2 (50) - Connor Williams, T/G, Texas
3 (81) - Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State
4 (116) - Dorance Armstrong, DE, Kansas
4 (137) - Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford
5 (171) - Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky
6 (193) - Chris Covington, LB, Indiana
6 (208) - Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State
7 (236) - Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama
The new MIKE linebacker for the Cowboys, Vander Esch is an ascending player who is an ideal fit for the Cowboys' defense and should start from Day 1. Williams had a streaky 2017 season, but he was tremendous value at No. 50 and is the exact medicine needed for the Cowboys' offensive line with his tackle/guard versatility. He is probably the starting left guard in the season opener, but can also kick out to tackle if needed. Gallup is part of the new-look Dallas receiving depth chart and could emerge as the team's best wideout at some point during the 2018 season. At only 21 years old, Schultz could take over the starting tight end duties as a rookie if Jason Witten retires. White, who was my No. 6 rated quarterback ahead of Mason Rudolph and Kyle Lauletta, could easily beat out Cooper Rush for the backup role and strengthens the most important position on the depth chart.
3 -- Carolina Panthers
1 (24) - D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
2 (55) - Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
3 (85) - Rashaan Gaulden, CB/S, Tennessee
4 (101) - Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana
4 (136) - Marquis Haynes, DE, Ole Miss
5 (161) - Jermaine Carter, LB, Maryland
7 (234) - Andre Smith, LB, North Carolina
7 (242) - Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami
Moore, who gives off Steve Smith vibes, was my No. 14 rated player and will do immediate damage for the Carolina offense. It is tough for receivers to win rookie of the year honors, but the Maryland product has a chance. While undisciplined in areas, Jackson has elite speed and the athleticism to build upon. Gaulden was one of my favorite players in the draft, projecting best as a nickel defender with his play speed and toughness. Although he likely requires a redshirt season, Thomas goes to an ideal situation where he can learn and develop behind Greg Olsen. He will be viewed as a steal when we look back at this draft in three years. Haynes might only see the field in sub-packages, but his pass-rush skills will impact the game. Smith is a physical thumper and a good player to groom behind the scenes.
2 -- New York Jets
1 (3) - Sam Darnold, QB, USC
3 (72) - Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State
4 (107) - Chris Herndon, TE, Miami
6 (179) - Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane
6 (180) - Foley Fatukasi, DT, Connecticut
6 (204) - Trenton Cannon, RB, Virginia State
The Jets traded away their second-round picks, but it landed them the best quarterback in the draft. Darnold goes to a situation where he won't be forced onto the field from Day 1 and will learn from veteran Josh McCown. Shepherd is older and comes from the Division-II level, but he wins with power and quickness and will push for starting reps during his rookie season. If not for a late season knee injury, Herndon would have been a top-100 draft pick. Nickerson is undersized, but he has ball production and speed, projecting best in the nickel. Fatukasi earned a spot on my top-100 draft board and the Jets got him at No. 180 overall. Between him and Shepherd, New York landed two of my favorite interior defensive line prospects this year. Cannon was a joy to watch on film with his shifty athleticism that made defenses look silly.
1 -- Chicago Bears
1 (8) - Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
2 (39) - James Daniels, G/C, Iowa
2 (51) - Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
4 (115) - Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky
5 (145) - Bilal Nichols, DT, Delaware
6 (181) - Kylie Fitts, DE, Utah
7 (224) - Javon Wims, WR, Georgia
The Bears earn the top spot this year, mostly for what they did in the first two rounds. Smith is the new face of the Bears' defense and his impact will be substantial. Daniels fell out of the first round and into Chicago's laps. He is still very young and needs to grow up quickly (both physically and mentally) once in training camp, but the talent, technique and athleticism are there to push for a starting role at guard or center. Without a third-round pick (trade up for Mitchell Trubisky in 2017), the Bears had to use a 2019 second-round pick to get back into the round, but it was well worth it for Miller. With Kevin White's inability to stay on the field, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Miller emerge as the No. 2 receiving option at some point during the 2018 season. Iyiegbuniwe is an athletic linebacker who flows and fills. Wims had a breakthrough senior year for the SEC Champion Georgia Bulldogs and still has upside, making him the perfect back end of the roster wideout.