Did you survive Day 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft? Were you surprised with how the most anticipated draft in recent history played out? Maybe a little too much booze slipped down your throat – either in celebratory fashion or in emotional distraught. Either way, we hope you woke up Friday morning with a new outlook on your NFL team (and we hope you made it into the office as well).
And now that the most stressful day of the draft has come and gone, it’s only natural to reflect and predict how things will play out going forward. While it will still be a few months until we see any of these rookies in action, the anticipation to see how they may fit with their new squads is something we just cannot wait for.
But let’s take some scenarios from yesterday at a glimpse. To me, one of the most intriguing situations coming into Day 1 was that of every team in the AFC East. Each team had specific needs, and all were in talks for a quarterback up until last night.
While it didn’t quite play out that way, each team in the division certainly made a bold move or two in Round 1. The AFC East may have dominated the first round more than any other division.
New York Jets: Round 1, Pick 3 | Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Jets had to get their quarterback, and they did just that. Darnold was highly sought as the best overall QB in this draft (projected for months to go No. 1) and he somehow slipped to the Jets.
While many have questions about his game, including the turnovers and the awkward elongated release, Darnold has the tools to become a dominant force at the pro-level. He should develop well under mentor and veteran Josh McCown for one season.
Grade Explanation: The Jets moved up to No. 3 after trading with the Colts back in March. They somehow managed to move up and lock down the “top” quarterback in the draft without giving up any future first rounders. A great move by the Jets front office that could go down as one of the smartest moves in franchise history.
The Jets have selected Sam Darnold with the third pick. They get the best QB in the draft. Has this star-crossed franchise uncrossed its stars?
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) April 27, 2018
— New York Jets (@nyjets) April 27, 2018
Buffalo Bills: Round 1, Pick 7 | Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Bills got their quarterback shortly after the Jets at No. 7. After trading with the Bucs, the Bills moved up to get the gun-slinging Wyoming quarterback. Luckily for Buffalo, they only had to give up two second-round picks (No. 53 and No. 56) in order to make the move up with the Bucs, who slid down to No. 12.
Allen was seen by some as the best available quarterback in this draft. Sure, he has is own problems, stemming from inaccuracy, poor record against quality teams, and of course, the Tweets. However, the Bills saw the upside in the Wyoming talent, and made a move to go get him (passing up on Josh Rosen as well).
Grade Explanation: The Bills, like the Jets, may have gotten their franchise quarterback without sacrificing a future first round pick. Bills general manager Brandon Beane did a nice job of maneuvering around making a stern effort to get their guy. It seems like Allen could be the perfect fit in Buffalo (weather wise) though he may need some time on the bench to develop.
Miami Dolphins: Round 1, Pick 11 | Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Dolphins miss out on a top-tier quarterback, but they still get a hell of a talented player. The fan-favorite from Alabama comes to Miami as one of the best defensive backs available in the draft. The only question attached is how the ‘Phins will use him.
Fitzpatrick can be a force to be reckoned with at the second and third level of the defense. As a tall, long, and athletic corner, Fitzpatrick could plug in effectively either as a safety or in off-man coverage. Not to mention he’s also a timely blitzer with solid ball skills and the ability to run with wideouts.
Grade Explanation: Fitzpatrick was all over the field in 2017 at Bama (8.0 tackles for loss, 8.0 pass breakups, 1 interception). He fought through injuries to eventually win the Jim Thorpe and Chuck Bednarik Awards, and was named a unanimous All-American. He also secured his second national title in three years with Nick Saban at the helm. The Dolphins get arguably the best defensive back in Alabama history. He has all the tools to propel himself to a successful NFL career.
Buffalo Bills: Round 1, Pick 16 | Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The Bills continued their strong draft by trading up yet again. This time they select the young and versatile Edmunds out of Virginia Tech.
After trading with the Ravens to get him, it’s clear that the Bills believe Edmunds could make an instant impact as a middle linebacker. His unrivaled combination of size and athleticism is rare for the linebacker position. His length and physical prowess has allowed him to win against opposing linemen, and that should continue into his NFL career.
Grade Explanation: At only 19 years old, Edmunds has a chance to grow into a special player. The Bills got away with another decent trade, sending the No. 22 and No. 65 selections to Baltimore in exchange for No. 16, and a 5th rounder (No. 154). As a player who could come in and start immediately, it was a solid selection for Buffalo.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) April 27, 2018
New England Patriots: Round 1, Pick 23 | Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia
Bill Belichick and co. made quite an interesting choice here, but that’s nothing new. Instead of taking a gamble on Louisville QB Lamar Jackson, they decide to patch up their O-Line. They certainly needed some help there, and they get that with a solid prospect in Wynn.
Wynn will come in as a versatile player. He’s generally scouted as a small tackle who could also kick inside to guard if need be. He’s shown he has the ability to control defensive linemen of all shapes in sizes. With his excellent leverage, a strong base, and surge of power, he seems like he could flourish as a Patriot.
Grade Explanation: The Patriots sat tight for Wynn, who was the third OT off the board. While he is a dynamic pass-protector, the Patriots will need to determine how to correctly utilize him. Wynn could potentially be the left tackle replacement for the recently forgone Nate Solder. Wynn’s job will solely be to keep pressure off Tom Brady, and Belichick believes he can do that as a rookie.
New England Patriots: Round 1, Pick 31 | Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
The Patriots seem to love those Georgia Bulldogs. Another one goes off the board to them here at 31, and this time it’s the highly scouted running back Sony Michel.
After losing Dion Lewis this offseason, Belichick decides to grab his replacement in the form of the rookie Michel. While the backfield in New England is now looking a bit crowded (Burkhead, White, Gillislee, Hill + Michel), the rookie should have the upperhand in being able to become a successor in Foxboro.
Grade Explanation: The overcrowded backfield makes it seem as though this grade should be a tad lower, but it is yet to be seen what the final roster will look like come the fall. Michel is dynamic in that he is a space running back with keen vision. He can catch the ball effectively and runs with a surprising amount of power too. He’s your classic Patriot and everything Belichick seems to love in his backfield.