Who played the first round of the NFL Draft just right and who messed it up? Matt Temple-Marsh looks at the biggest winners and losers.
Day one of the first ever virtual NFL Draft is in the books, and it did not disappoint. From Burrow’s Bengals to Tua’s Dolphins, an array of franchise-altering decisions have been made.
It’s always difficult to gauge the success of draft picks without seeing any play, but many teams ignited their fan base with exciting picks, whilst other teams made some questionable choices.
Here’s a look at the best winners & losers after day one.
Winner: Miami Dolphins
Miami finally have their quarterback. Sure, the injury history is a concern – but a healthy Tua Tagovailoa is a more than scary prospect for opposing AFC East teams. During the Dolphins’ woeful 0-7 start to the season fans at least found salvation in #TankForTua, yet Brian Flores was able to secure his quarterback of the future with the fifth overall pick.
The left-handed quarterback draws comparisons to Drew Brees, which is fitting for the team who 15 years ago decided to pass on Brees. The Dolphins also acquired offensive tackle Austin Jackson, and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, both considered top five prospects in their respective positions – whilst also trading back to pick up an extra fourth round pick.
This is a totally revitalised roster, who could be a serious dark horse for the AFC East next season.
Loser: Green Bay Packers
The Packers haven’t selected a skill position player in the first round since 2002, and that trend continued this year. The NFC North champions traded up to secure quarterback Jordan Love, a polarizing prospect coming off a down year with Utah State.
This is a perfect spot for Love, who can learn behind Aaron Rodgers & Matt LaFleur, but this pick feels a few years too early. Rodgers is still just 36 years old, and fresh off a year where “football became fun again”. The two-time MVP still has a lot left in the tank, and was seemingly just a wide-receiver away from real success.
The Packers oddly continue to neglect any help out wide, in a time when Rodgers’ championship window is definitely shrinking.
Winner: Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys had real needs at defensive line & corner back, but CeeDee Lamb was too good to pass up on. Coming into the draft many experts had Lamb as the number one wide receiver in the class, so it was a real shock to see him fall to the 17th pick.
Lamb was a prolific college receiver, who drew comparisons to DeAndre Hopkins. He will replace Randall Cobb in the slot to form arguably the best wide receiver trio in the league, alongside Amari Cooper & Michael Gallup. The pick felt even better for the Cowboys with the wide receiver needy Eagles desperate for help, just a few picks behind.
The Cowboys’ offence is now loaded, as they could prove to be a real force in the NFC.
Loser: Los Angeles Raiders
The Raiders gained two extra first round picks in the Khalil Mack trade from the Chicago Bears – those picks have turned into running back Josh Jacobs, and corner back Damon Arnette. Jacobs has been a riot so far, but the league is moving away from running backs, and Arnette was very much a shock first round selection.
The corner will turn 24 in September and ran a 4.56 40 yard time, very slow for a first round defensive back. Draft expert Daniel Jerimiah had him as the eighth best corner in this draft class, so to see him go with the 19th overall selection is alarming to say the least. The Raiders also picked up speedster Henry Ruggs with the 12th overall pick.
The wide receiver was viewed by many as the third best prospect behind Jerry Jeudy & Lamb, so this was again a shock to see the Raiders opt for Ruggs’ services. I’d never be one to speak poorly of general manager Mike Mayock’s draft prowess, but on paper these two selections are surprising.