LOS ANGELES. With Easter celebrations concluded and Passover nearly over, the NFL offered its own brand of Holy Thursday festivities. It was time for the NFL 2019 Draft, and the league went all out to celebrate its 100th year of existence. The mood was so festive that even Roger Goodell was booed less lustily than in past years.
Nearly four hours after the Arizona Cardinals were on the clock, the NFL 2019 Draft Round 1 from Nashville, Tennessee was in the books. You can find a complete list of first round selections right here.
This year’s first round was very tame compared to past years. The first half of the first round featured only one trade. There were a couple of reaches and a couple of guys slid a few spots too far down. However, nobody cratered like Aaron Rodgers in 2005. As expected, the Cardinals took quarterback Kyler Murray, despite picking Josh Rosen tenth overall last year. The San Francisco 49ers with the second pick took Nick Bosa, the younger brother of Chargers’ standout Joey Bosa.
In the end, the NFL 2019 Draft had some winners and losers, as all NFL drafts do.
2019 Draft Winners:
With the 15th pick in the NFL 2019 Draft, the Redskins somehow lucked into quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Raised in Maryland, Haskins was embraced by the DC faithful, though he transferred from the University of Maryland to Ohio State where he starred during his final year. Washington coveted him and got away without having to trade up to get him. The Redskins expect Alex Smith to miss the entire 2019 season recovering from the broken leg he suffered last year. Haskins came along at a fortuitous time.
San Francisco 49ers:
General Manager John Lynch struck platinum. Nick Bosa is a defensive stud when rushing the passer. The 49ers had a nasty defense that fell apart when Jim Harbaugh left to coach Michigan. The 49ers believe they have the leader of the future in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Now they have the leader of their defense. With talented, emotional leaders on both sides of the ball, the 49ers will face higher expectations than they have for some time.
It is hard to do badly with three first round picks. The Raiders should have gone with defense on all three picks, but at least they did on two of them. The criticism of the Silver and Black for taking Clelin Ferrell with the fourth pick is misplaced. He proved every bit as vital to Clemson winning the college national championship as did his defensive teammates.
Josh Jacobs is a feel-good story as well as the top running back in the Draft. Johnathan Abram was the best safety in the Draft. The Raiders have the third pick in the second round, and are already receiving offers for that pick. Mike Mayock stayed patient and somehow got Jon Gruden to overcome his worst impulses to draft a quarterback. Arizona drafting Murray helped save Gruden from himself. The last thing the Raiders needed was a quarterback. Derek Carr now has more teammates to help him. That is exactly what the Raiders needed for their final year in Oakland.
During the NFL 2019 Draft, one criticism of the Raiders and several other teams was passing up Ed Oliver. He was not expected to be available with the ninth pick. The Bills got lucky, and they made the most of that luck. Oliver is a monster that can improve an already pretty good defense. Buffalo really needs help on offense, but Oliver was too good at that spot to pass up. Drafting for need is one strategy. But it’s tough to argue with taking the best overall player left on the board.
City of Nashville:
Despite some rain, this NFL Draft got off to a rousingly successful start. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people showed up here, and they stayed. The best thing that ever happened to the Draft was Radio City Music Hall’s inability to accommodate the NFL this year. They will probably never get the Draft back. Once regarded as an afterthough, this event became every bit as big as any other NFL event. Except for the Super Bowl. The NFL offers the biggest entertainment in sports, and Nashville is a great entertainment city. Combining them this year was a perfect match.
2019 Draft Losers:
The loss of Antonio Brown was a blow. So instead of replacing him, the Steelers went with linebacker Devin Bush as their major move in the NFL 2019 Draft. The issue is not Bush’s ability. The Steelers moved up from the 20th pick to the 10th pick to grab him. In addition to the 20th pick, they also gave the Denver Broncos their second round pick and their 2020 third round pick. It seemed a lot to give up for one player in a Draft that was very deep with defensive line stars.
New York Giants:
This team spent decades doing things right. But those days seem to be gone. With the sixth pick in the NFL Draft, the Giants were expected to either draft Haskins to succeed Eli Manning or a grab a complimentary piece to help Manning. They shocked everybody by taking quarterback Daniel Jones rather than Haskins. Worse for the Giants, Haskins went to their division rivals in Washington. Those two quarterbacks will be forever linked, and the Giants fans got angry.
The team’s pick of defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence with the 17th pick was fine. However, they inexplicably traded up cornerback Deandre Baker with the 30th pick. Baker was considered the best cornerback in the Draft, but the Giants just gave picks away. The Giants had the fifth pick in the second round, 37th overall. To move up only seven spots, they gave up that second round pick, their fourth round pick, and their fifth round pick.
One year after shining as a first round selection, Rosen could already be on the trading block. The Cardinals were the worst team in the league last year. But quarterback play was not why they went 3-13. Rosen never had a chance. Kyler Murray has too much hype around him for Rosen to continue. He will be traded or remain a backup. During Passover 2019, Rosen became only the latest Jew to be forced out of the desert to find a new homeland.
Smith’s entire career has been one raw deal after another. After becoming the top pick in the 2005 Draft, Smith began a lengthy career of dinking and dunking. Yes, he threw too many four-yard West Coast Offense passes. However, he proved capable of throwing a deep ball. But his coaches wanted something else. The 49ers benched him in favor of a radicalized QB who brought disgrace to the entire league. Then, the Chiefs let him go as well, although it was impossible to argue against phenom Patrick Mahomes.
Last year with the Redskins, Smith’s leg injury was the most gruesome NFL site to behold since Joe Theismann’s compound fracture in 1987. Also for the unfortunate Redskins. Now, Smith will miss this entire upcoming season. While he wants to come back, that may not be his call. Smith won games but never won hearts. If Haskins succeeds, Smith is out of Washington and maybe out of the NFL for good.
Wait and see:
Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray could be the next Russell Wilson. He could be the next JaMarcus Russell. For every Peyton Manning, there is a Ryan Leaf. That is why letterheads love the NFL Draft. The Cardinals have been a laughingstock for much of their over 100 years of existence. Murray will either end the curse or be part of it. If Rosen wins a Super Bowl somewhere else, the fans will get redder than the Arizona desert and the team’s logo.
Bizarre amusing side note:
If the Raiders draft tight end Isaac Nauta, they’ll be the first team in history since the original Jews to draft Abram, Isaac & Jacobs. This would be a true NFL 2019 Draft Passover miracle.
— Headline image: New Washington Redskins NFL 2019 Draft pick Dwayne Haskins. Photo during his 2018 season with Ohio State. (Image via Wikipedia, CC 3.0 license)