As the NFL Draft comes to a close, with multiple draft day trades and surprising selections made by several teams, the truest victors are those who gained the most plug and play options post-draft.
The Arizona Cardinals; The Cardinals selected Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray first overall in the draft, all but sealing the fate of incumbent starter Josh Rosen, who was dealt on day two of the draft to the Miami Dolphins for a late second round pick, that the Cardinals used to select wide receiver Andy Isabella. Selecting three wide receivers in the draft, along with head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s guy in Murray, will strengthen the roster for years to come. Picking up big men in the trenches in Boston College defensive end Zach Allen, Temple defensive tackle Michael Dogbe and Georgia center Lamont Gaillard will strengthen Arizona’s offensive and defensive lines. Murray is the perfect quarterback to pair with running back David Johnson.
The Green Bay Packers; After investing heavily on defense through free agency acquisitions in edge rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, along with safety Adrian Amos, general manager Brian Gutekunst doubled down, using the twelfth overall pick on linebacker Rashan Gary out of Michigan. Though Gary’s production was not what you would expect of an outside linebacker in John Harbaugh’s system, his freak athleticism and power rush prowess will allow him to adapt to either outside or inside linebacker at the pro level, a position Green Bay has lacked quality at since Clay Matthews stopped being a pro bowl talent in 2014. In addition, trading up with the Seattle Seahawks, giving up two fourth round picks, to select instinctive safety Darnell Savage out of Maryland, will make an immediate impact day one. Savage ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash, and hits with the ferocity of the great Sean Taylor.
His instinctive abilities and coverage skills will help him to pair well with Amos to guard the Packers back end, while their several young cornerbacks develop into true studs within defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s system. Picking up depth on the offensive line in Texas A&M guard Elgton Jenkins will help with protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who now has a new seam stretcher in fellow Texas A&M alumnus tight end Jace Sternberger.
The New England Patriots; As if Bill Belichick wouldn’t be on this list. Using the last pick in the first round (that’s what you get when you win the Super Bowl, just in case anybody forgot) the Patriots selected Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry, a 6-foot-2-inch and 225 pound sure handed route runner, who will allow New England to stretch the field. With the surefire hall of famer Rob Gronkowski retired, a 32-year-old Julian Edelman, 31–year-old Demaryius Thomas and a suspended Josh Gordon as the wide receivers on the roster, Harry will be thrown right into a starting role. Their second round pick, Joejuan Williams slots in as a Brandon Browner type of corner; physical and rangy, standing at a stout 6-foot-4-inches and 217 pounds. While anybody can draft a quarterback after the third round, any quarterback selected by New England will raise eyebrows, and Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham will be molded by an aging Tom Brady to potentially be New England’s next savior.
The worst draft strategy in the league falls to the New York Giants;
General manager David Gettleman, after trading away defensive end Olivier Vernon and defensive tackle Damon Harrison, decided to pass on an athletic specimen in defensive end Josh Allen out of Kentucky to draft Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. To be noted, Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins was still available in the draft as well, who was considered a stronger prospect than Jones. No team was rumored to be considering Jones anywhere in the first round, so it’s a head scratcher to see the Giants waste the sixth overall pick on him when they could have snagged him in the second round. Waltzing into the draft with a league high 12 draft picks, Gettleman used his draft capital and an already acquired first rounder in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade to make three selections in the first round. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence out of Clemson will be a plug and play defensive tackle, and would’ve paired perfectly with Allen to disrupt offensive lines in the NFC East for a decade. Trading back into the first round to select Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker gives the Giants a solid young corner to partner with cornerback Janoris Jenkins, which will hopefully develop into a strong tandem. Though the Giants picked up two strong blue chip players, the Jones move will be questioned until he proves himself by replacing old man Eli Manning.