2019 NFL Draft Rankings:

1st Round Review

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       1.  Arizona Cardinals      

Kyler Murray | OklahomaKyle Murray, QB, Texas A&M

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I was surprised so many people actually believed the Cardinals would do anything other than take Murray.  If for no other reason than after months of flirting with Murray the relationship with Josh Rosen was irrevocably damaged.  It was an admirable job of misdirection by the team and league to generate suspense and drama for a decision many feel was made months ago.  This is an extremely risky course of action because Murray is such an outlier at the position, particularly when it comes to size and bulk.  It could blow up in Arizona’s face and get everyone fired, but if Murray thrives it could also be revolutionary.  Landing with Kliff Kingsbury should give Murray the best opportunity to be successful.  After all Kingsbury is a long-time admirer who’s been dreaming of having Murray at the helm of his offense for years.  This is going to be a fascinating case study and if nothing else the Cardinals certainly have everyones attention.  For better or worse.

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       2.  San Francisco 49ers       

Nick Bosa | Ohio St.

Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio St.

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Upgrading the pass rush was a priority for the Niners this offseason and they nailed it with the additions of Dee Ford and Bosa.  It seemed as though Bosa didn’t quite get his proper due during the draft process.  Perhaps it’s because he’s been considered a top prospect for so long that the focus was other shiny objects.  Bosa was either the #1 or #2 player on just about everyone’s board though and will be an immediate impact presence up front in San Francisco.

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       3.  New York Jets       

Quinnen Williams | Alabama

Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

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There was a lot of speculation about the Jets wanting to trade down or perhaps preferring Houston DT Ed Oliver.  In the end they simply took the best player available.  New York had other needs that were more glaring, most notably the offensive line and an edge pass rusher.  It’s hard to argue against taking Williams though, who many felt was the best prospect in this entire class.  The Jets still have plenty of work to do but Sam Darnold at quarterback plus Leonard and Quinnen Williams on the defensive line is a terrific foundation to build on.

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       4.  Oakland Raiders       

Clelin Ferrell | Clemson

Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

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This was a curveball, yet at the same time it wasn’t.  It’s no surprise the Raiders went with a pass rusher but nobody expected it to be this one.  Ferrell was overshadowed during the pre-draft process by superior physical specimens like Rashan Gary of Michigan and Montez Sweat of Mississippi St. but they all carried relatively similar grades.  For reference, in my final overall rankings Sweat was 13th, Gary was 14th and Ferrell was 17th.  What ultimately gave Ferrell the edge on Draft Day was a long track record of production along with top-notch character and intangibles.  My only criticism would be value as I wonder if the Raiders could’ve gotten Ferrell later.  I’ll be interested to find out who, if anyone, else was considering Ferrell in the Top 10.

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       5.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers       

Devin White | L.S.U.

Devin White, ILB, L.S.U.

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As expected the Bucs grab a replacement for Kwon Alexander in White, who is a prototypical ‘backer for the modern era due to a mix of explosive athleticism, speed and range.  White is also the type of personality and presence that will set the tone for a defense, both on the field and in the locker room.  I wonder if Kentucky OLB Josh Allen being available gave Tampa any hesitation, but I doubt it.  No team and player were more prominently linked to each other than the Bucs and White.  It truly was a match made in NFL Draft Heaven.

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       6.  New York Giants       

Daniel Jones | Duke

Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

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I actually called Jones to the Giants months prior to the draft.  It’s really not too difficult to identify prospects which prospects are New York’s type because they’ve had the same general philosophy and approach to the draft for decades.  Personally, I had Jones as the #4 quarterback in this class and #38 prospect overall.  Needless to say this is not the decision I would have made.  At least the Giants finally have a much-needed succession plan in place behind Eli Manning.  GM David Gettleman will get criticized for “reaching” on Jones, but it’s impossible to overpay for a good quarterback.  If Jones develops into even an average starter the Giants will have done well.  If not their decision to pass on Sam Darnold the year prior will haunt the franchise for a decade.

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       7.  Jacksonville Jaguars       

Josh Allen | Kentucky

Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky

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The expectation was that the Jags would opt for a blocker or Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson, but then Allen fell into their laps.  Allen is capable of lining up at either outside linebacker or defensive end and gives Jacksonville another fast, athletic playmaker on defense.  Good luck to opposing offensive tackles that have to deal with Allen and Yannick Ngakoue flying off the edges.  The phrase “best player available” is often thrown around loosely on Draft Day, but in this instance it actually applies.  The Jaguars had other more pressing needs but when opportunity knocked they opened the door.

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       8.  Detroit Lions       

T.J. Hockenson | Iowa

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

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Reports leading up to the draft all seemed to indicate Detroit was looking to move down, but Hockenson is an ideal fit.  The Lions attempted to trade for Rob Gronkowski last offseason and still hadn’t adequately addressed the position.  There is only one “Gronk”, but Hockenson may be as close as you’ll get in this or any other year.  Not only is Hockenson going to be a reliable weapon for Matthew Stafford to throw to but he also excels as a blocker and serve as an extension of the offensive line.  Hockenson is one of the safest prospects in this class so the Lions can rest easy knowing they added another piece of the puzzle.

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       9.  Buffalo Bills       

Ed Oliver | Houston

Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

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Oliver was said to be in play as early as #3 or #4 overall so the Bills must have been pleasantly surprised to find him still available.  Especially since there were rumors that Buffalo was exploring a trade up to land one of the top defensive tackles.  Oliver is a unique, dynamic weapon in the defensive front seven and will provide the Bills with the playmaking dimension they were lacking.  It will be interesting to see how Oliver is utilized because while he’ll mostly line up at defensive tackle he’s also capable of seeing situational action at defensive end, outside linebacker and inside linebacker.

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       10.  Pittsburgh Steelers (f/DEN)       

Devin Bush | Michigan

Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan

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It was no secret the Steelers coveted Bush, but there was also no chance he’d last until their pick at #20.  Credit Pittsburgh for being aggressive and doing what it took to land their target.  It cost a second round pick this year and a third rounder next, but they got their guy.  The Steelers have been missing a speedy, athletic presence at inside linebacker since an injury prematurely ended the career of Ryan Shazier.  That problem is now solved.  Bush is going to be an immediate difference-maker for Pittsburgh and it’s hard to imagine a better fit for both player and team.

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       11.  Cincinnati Bengals       

Jonah Williams | Alabama

Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

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With the two Devin’s they had their eye on at linebacker already off the board the Bengals opted for the top blocker in this class.  A move that I applaud because overpaying for free agent Bobby Hart certainly didn’t resolve their issues along the offensive line.  Williams is a plug-and-play starter, with the ability to see action at both tackle and guard.  A battle-tested veteran of the SEC wars, Williams is also lauded for his preparation and intangibles which is why he was considered to be as close to a sure-thing as there is in this class.  Albeit with a somewhat limited upside.

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       12.  Green Bay Packers       

Rashan Gary | Michigan

Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

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This was a bit of a surprise after spending big in free agency on a couple of other jumbo athlete pass rushers in Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith.  There is always room for a big-time talent like Gary on the defensive line though.  It sounds like Gary is actually going to start out at outside linebacker, which is a bit of a surprise, but will be moved around the defensive front seven like a chess piece.  There are concerns about Gary’s lack of production and a shoulder injury that may eventually require surgery, but it’s easy to dream on those physical tools and potential.

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       13.  Miami Dolphins       

Christian Wilkins | Clemson

Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

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It was clear the Dolphins weren’t prepared to invest this pick on a quarterback, which made the offensive and defensive lines logical targets.  More than anything they just needed a legitimate piece, because those are currently in short supply in Miami.  Other than a signal caller there’s no better way to start a multi-year rebuild than in the trenches.  Some will debate how much upside there is with Wilkins but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which he doesn’t provide value due to his positional and schematic versatility as well as first-rate intangibles.

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       14.  Atlanta Falcons       

Chris Lindstrom | Boston College

Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College

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For much of the pre-draft process there was very little first round buzz for Lindstrom, despite what seemed like universal love within the scouting community.  That began to change as the draft neared and he wound up being selected earlier than almost anyone imagined.  Lindstrom is a well-rounded blocker with a great mix of physical tools and intangibles, but I can’t help but wonder if the Falcons will ultimately regret passing on some of the talented defensive linemen that were still available.  Atlanta prioritized upgrading the offensive line to protect Matt Ryan this offseason though and they put their money where there mouth was with this choice.

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       15.  Washington Redskins       

Dwayne Haskins | Ohio St.

Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio St.

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All of the rumors about Washington having their eye on Haskins turned out to be true, and they didn’t even have to surrender assets to trade up.  Haskins is far from a perfect prospect and had he been in last year’s draft I would’ve ranked him as QB4 or QB5.  With that said there is plenty to like about the big, strong-armer passer so this was a worthwhile risk for the Redskins to take.  It’s probably a better option than they rightfully could’ve hoped for in the middle of the first round.  If nothing else Haskins provides the franchise with a breath of fresh air and reason to get excited about both the present and future.

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       16.  Carolina Panthers       

Brian Burns | Florida St.

Brian Burns, DE, Florida St.

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For a team clearly in the market for a pass rusher the Panthers must have been thrilled with the options still available.  They opted for Burns, who could’ve very easily come off the board in the initial dozen picks.  Burns is undersized and a positional ‘tweener but possesses a get-off and bend that’s as good as any edge prospect in this class.  A lack of bulk and strength are going to be a concern with Burns, especially if the plan is to use him at defensive end.  There is little or no doubt about his ability to pressure and sack the quarterback though.

 

 



 

 

 

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       17.  New York Giants (f/CLE)       

Dexter Lawrence | Clemson

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

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Legendary Giants personnel man George Young coined The Planet Theory, which says “There are only so many big men who run fast on the planet, so you take them.”  Lawrence certainly fits that profile with the most freakish blend of size and athleticism in this draft.  Physical specimens like Lawrence just don’t come around that often and he’s going to anchor the middle of the defense while making everyone around him better.  This doesn’t do much to address the G-Men’s need for a pass rusher, but they won’t regret snagging Lawrence.

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       18.  Minnesota Vikings       

Garrett Bradbury | North Carolina St.

Garrett Bradbury, C, North Carolina St.

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This was always going to be an offensive lineman, it was just a matter of which one.  Whether it was a tackle, guard or center, it was best blocker available or bust.  Bradbury is essentially the total package with all the physical tools and intangibles necessary for success in the pivot.  There is no reason why Bradbury shouldn’t be plugged into the starting lineup immediately and be a stalwart for the next decade.  With all that said, I personally might’ve leaned slightly toward Washington St. OT Andre Dillard as a long-term solution on the blindside due to the positional value factor.

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       19.  Tennessee Titans       

Jeffery Simmons | Mississippi St.

Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi St.

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I was confident Simmons would be selected in the first round, I just didn’t know where.  A knee injury suffered during pre-draft training in February, not to mention an off-the-field incident from high school, clouded his stock.  There are rumblings he could return to the field at some point this Fall though.  The Titans should be handsomely rewarded for their foresight and patience, much like the Dallas Cowboys were with Jaylon Smith.  When healthy Simmons is one of the most talented players in this class, checking in at #5 overall in my final rankings.  Simmons will eventually be a three-down performer and difference-maker in the defensive front seven for Tennessee.

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       20.  Denver Broncos (f/PIT)       

Noah Fant | Iowa

Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

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I had Fant rated as my #11 overall player but thought he might slide into the latter part of the first round due to concerns about his intangibles and blocking.  This is a nice fit though as the Broncos have been searching for a long-term solution at tight end for years.  Fant is a matchup nightmare and dynamic weapon in the passing attack who is capable of stretching the field vertically like few at the position.  Denver passing on Missouri QB Drew Lock, the signal caller John Elway is said to have his eye on, twice is notable as they seem to be betting on Joe Flacco.

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       21.  Green Bay Packers (f/SEA)       

Darnell Savage, Jr. | Maryland

Darnell Savage, Jr., S, Maryland

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There was plenty of chatter about Savage sneaking into the first round in the weeks leading up to Draft Day.  Not only did that happen, but Savage was the first defensive back off the board.  A versatile playmaker in the secondary, Savage is capable of lining up at safety, cornerback or nickel and has drawn favorable comparisons to Lamarcus Joyner.  This was a bit early for my taste as I had a second round grade on Savage at #53 overall.  Plus the Packers traded a couple of fourth rounders to move up.  It wasn’t a gross reach by any stretch of the imagination though and Savage will definitely bring a different dimension to Green Bay’s secondary.

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       22.  Philadelphia Eagles (f/BAL)       

Andre Dillard | Washington St.

Andre Dillard, OT, Washington St.

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The smart franchises are always planning ahead instead of reacting and this is a perfect example.  With Jason Peters now 37-years-old the Eagles maneuvered to ensure the long-term security of Carson Wentz’s blindside.  Dillard was the top true left tackle prospect in this class due to an ideal blend of size, length and athleticism and was expected to come off the board much earlier.  This is a great situation as Dillard can be brought along slowly, serving as depth and insurance while contributing as an extra blocker as a rookie before eventually stepping into the starting lineup.  There were other prospects available who would’ve made a greater instant impact, but kudos to Philly for keeping an eye on the future.

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       23.  Houston Texans       

Tytus Howard | Alabama St.

Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama St.

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Everybody knew the Texans were desperate for a left tackle so the Eagles traded ahead of them and stole Andre Dillard of Washington St.  That’s what they get for being stagnant instead of proactive on Draft Day.  As a result Houston was forced to reach for Howard, who was considered more of a second rounder.  Although there was word on the grapevine that he could sneak into the back end of round one.  Howard is a raw converted tight end who’s just beginning to tap into his immense talent and potential.  The Texans need a starter now though and can’t afford to be patient so Howard will get thrown to the wolves, ready or not.

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       24.  Oakland Raiders (f/CHI)       

Josh Jacobs | Alabama

Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

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This is one absolutely everybody had in their mock drafts and it just made too much sense not to happen.  Jon Gruden loves running backs, there was a gaping hole in Oakland’s backfield with Marshawn Lynch not coming back and Jacobs was the clear-cut cream of the crop at the position.  In addition to his abilities as a runner, pass catcher and blocker, Jacobs is also renowned for his intangibles and will help set the tone on and off the field for a new era.  This is a great situation for Jacobs, who is an early favorite for rookie of the year and seems destined for fantasy football stardom.

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       25.  Baltimore Ravens (f/PHI)       

Marquise Brown | Oklahoma

Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

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Even though I’m not as high on Brown as some and I worry about durability because he’s so slight, I really like this pick.  Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense are going to face a lot of eight and nine man fronts and they need playmakers capable of taking advantage of those opportunities.  Teams will now be more hesitant to stack the box with a stick of dynamite like “Hollywood” on the field, who can score anytime and from anywhere.  A defense that sends everyone downhill now risks Brown torching them over the top.  There are a bunch of holes on Baltimore’s defense, but I’m not sure there is another player they could’ve picked who would have a greater impact on the team as a whole.

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       26.  Washington Redskins (f/IND)       

Montez Sweat | Mississippi St.

Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi St.

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It’s unheard of to find a big-framed, long-armed, productive pass rusher with 4.4 speed this late and the Redskins took advantage.  It cost Washington next year’s second round pick to move up, but that feels like a worthwhile investment.  Sweat likely would’ve come off the board in the Top 10 overall if not for medical and character red flags.  Even with those concerns Sweat still wasn’t expected to escape the top half of round one.  Another edge threat was needed following the loss of Preston Smith in free agency and they’d be hard-pressed to do better than Sweat.

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       27.  Oakland Raiders (f/DAL)       

Johnathan Abram | Mississippi St.

Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi St.

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Another decision that falls right in line with new GM Mike Mayock’s desire to build a culture with the Raiders while also checking the value and need boxes.  Abram is an excellent player who is at his best closer to the line of scrimmage but has the speed and range to get the job done in coverage as well.  What everyone talks about with Abram though are intangibles as he’s mature beyond his years and a leader both on and off the field.  A strong case could’ve been made for a cornerback but Abram was more highly-regarded than any of the top cover guys in this class.

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       28.  Los Angeles Chargers       

Jerry Tillery | Notre Dame

Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame

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There is no question Tillery belonged in the first round based on talent, but I thought a shoulder injury and worries about his consistency and commitment would push the Golden Domer into Day 2.  The Chargers rolled the dice on the jumbo athlete though and Tillery should be a great fit on their defensive line while providing a significant upgrade.  I would’ve argued for an offensive tackle though as protection should be paramount since Philip Rivers is about to turn 38-years-old.  There was value too with Jawaan Taylor of Florida, Cody Ford of Oklahoma and Kaleb McGary of Washington all still available.

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       29.  Seattle Seahawks (f/KC)       

L.J. Collier | T.C.U.

L.J. Collier, DE, T.C.U.

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After trading down and picking up a couple of extra fourth round picks the Seahawks brought in a pass rusher to help replace Frank Clark.  Collier was one of my personal favorites in this class and I developed a prospect crush after his strong showing at the Senior Bowl.  While not the biggest or fastest pass rusher in this class, Collier compensates by doing the little things.  Seattle fans will likely be reminded of Michael Bennett as Collier is a similarly crafty, powerful and versatile.  After passing on Montez Sweat of Mississippi St. earlier it was wise of the Seahawks to address defensive end at this point because a drop-off at the position is looming.

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       30.  New York Giant (f/NO/GB/SEA)       

Deandre Baker | Georgia

Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

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A cornerback finally comes off the board, with the Giants surrendering second, fourth and fifth rounders to acquire a third first round pick.  There was a definite need for a cover guy, but was Baker so much better than the options that would’ve been available at #37?  The tape on Baker is superb and he’s risen to the occasion time and time again versus elite competition.  Baker isn’t overly big or fast though and many were turned off by the way he handled the pre-draft process.  This decision checks the boxes from the need and value standpoint, but unnecessarily giving up those two assets opens the door for criticism.

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       31.  Atlanta Falcons (f/LAR)       

Kaleb McGary | Washington

Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington

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Apparently the Falcons really, really wanted to fix their offensive line.  Arguably to the point of overkill, paying a steep price to trade back into the first round.  To the tune of their second and third round picks.  Other than taking themselves out of a bountiful Day 2, I don’t have a problem with this move.  Atlanta is only going as far as Matt Ryan takes them so nothing should take precedence over keeping their quarterback upright.  Plus I’m a fan of McGary and thought he had a chance to sneak into round one.   Sure there are still issues on defense that will now be challenging to address, but at least they shouldn’t have to worry about Matty Ice getting pummeled.

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       32.  New England Patriots       

N'Keal Harry | Arizona St.

N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona St.

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Only one wideout is off the board and this is right about where a run was expected to begin.  A number of pass catches were mentioned as being in this late first round mix but it was Harry who got the nod from Bill Belichick.  I like that rather than trading down and targeting a different wide receiver later they just took the guy they liked the best.  Plus if they didn’t take Harry many felt he would’ve gone to the Arizona Cardinals with the very next pick.  Harry will likely be counted on to contribute right away because there is a severe shortage of playmakers in the passing attack for New England and Tom Brady.

 



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Scott Wright

Scott Wright

NFL Draft Analyst and Founder of DraftCountdown.com

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