How he fits: Cleveland has needed a quarterback since it came back into the N.F.L. in 1999. They must believe that the similarities between Mayfield and Manziel are only superficial, and they were willing to bet big on that fact. He has a little time to develop with Tyrod Taylor in town and Browns fans will have to hope that they’ve finally found the quarterback to solve what has seemed like an endless deficiency.
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2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley — RB, Penn State
If Leonard Fournette owed Ezekiel Elliott a thank you card for going with the No. 4 pick last year, then Saquon Barkley should send both of them a gift basket. Drafting running backs at the top of the first round is cool again, and that is great timing for Barkley, who has the potential to be a special player at the pro level. Barkley runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, has a 41-inch vertical leap and did 29 reps on the bench press at the combine. Elliott didn’t participate in the bench press but was worse in the 40 (4.47 seconds) and in the leap (32.5 inches). The physical gifts were turned into production in college, with Barkley rushing for 3,843 yards and 43 touchdowns in his three years at Penn State, and developing into a solid pass-catching option out of the backfield as a junior. He does not break many tackles, and may take some time to learn pass-protection, but there is little doubt that he can be a star.
How he fits: Even with quarterback Eli Manning’s future in doubt, the Giants made the wise decision to take the best player in the draft. The three top quarterbacks available are all talented but also have some question marks about how good they will be. Almost no one doubts that Barkley will be an immediate superstar.
3. New York Jets: Sam Darnold — QB, Southern California
Darnold is the happy medium of the first-round quarterback options. At 6-foot-3 and 221 pounds he is not quite as big as Josh Allen but he has a more typical pro build than Baker Mayfield. He has the arm to make any throw and has shown decent accuracy as well, while being far more mobile than you might guess. His 40-yard dash time of 4.85 seconds was just one-hundredth of a second slower than Mayfield and wasn’t enough slower than Allen’s 4.75 for that to tip the scales in Allen’s favor. The biggest drawback with Darnold, beyond a troubling propensity for turnovers, is a slow and deliberate release that could be a major issue in the N.F.L.
How he fits: The Jets’ biggest needs were at quarterback, cornerback and edge rusher. Josh McCown can hold down the fort at quarterback for the time being and Teddy Bridgewater has a ton of potential (and a ton of risk) as a backup, but Darnold is too talented to pass up. He could easily take over the starting job this season but he has the luxury of not having to if his development goes slowly.
4. Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward — CB, Ohio State
Ward is fast. Really fast. His 4.32-second 40 tied for the fastest mark among defensive backs at the combine and he used that speed, along with strong instincts in man coverage, to find consistent success at the college level. He did not generate many turnovers, with just two interceptions over three seasons, but he broke up 15 passes as a junior thanks to his ability to read plays. On intelligence and speed he should step in as a starter-level player immediately, with the main concern for him being his size. At 5-foot-11 and 183 pounds, he is far smaller than the receivers he will be asked to cover, and even with a 39-inch vertical leap he could be prone to losing battles for passes thrown above the shoulder level. He could also potentially be a liability in terms of tackling, though plenty of poor-tackling cornerbacks have proven their worth in the past.
How he fits: With the quarterback situation settled (the Browns hope), Cleveland took a risk by skipping over Bradley Chubb and going with Ward, the best defensive back in the draft. The Browns have Myles Garrett on the defensive line already, so they may have just wanted to get an elite talent on another level of their defense, but Ward presents at least slightly more risk than Chubb.
5. Denver Broncos: Bradley Chubb — DE, North Carolina State
Chubb won both the Hendricks and Bronko Nagurski awards as the nation’s top defensive end and top overall defender thanks to his 10 sacks and 23 tackles for a loss. The numbers were impressive, but even more so because they were nearly carbon copies to what he’d done as a junior in 2016, when he had 10 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss. With a 4.65-second 40-yard dash he is among the fastest defensive linemen in the draft, but he matches that with a rangy (for his position) build of 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds. He has found success both outrunning offensive linemen and also running through them. His game could still use some pro refinement, but he has relatively few question marks for his ability to be an immediate impact player.
How he fits: Everyone expected the Broncos to take a quarterback but the team decided to reload its strength on defense by taking the best defensive player in this draft. Chubb doesn’t necessarily fill a need, but the prospect of he and Von Miller terrorizing quarterbacks makes the team’s struggles on offense at least somewhat less of an issue. They still badly need a quarterback, however.
6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson — OG, Notre Dame
Offensive tackles have finally begun to be appreciated by a widespread audience, but guards still tend to be overlooked, which is why Nelson’s status near the top of most draft boards makes him stand out so much. At 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds he is built like a tackle, and he uses his off-the-charts power to move through a defense in a way that has inspired comparisons to Larry Allen. Only 11 guards have ever been selected in the first five picks of the draft (none since 1985), and the only one since 1988 to crack the top-nine was Jonathan Cooper who went to Arizona at No. 7 in 2013. But Nelson’s size, strength and technique make him perhaps this draft’s most can’t-miss talent.
How he fits: Colts running backs are popping bottles of champagne. Nelson is a wrecking ball and he is the type of offensive line prospect who can single-handedly make the team dangerous. It’s unusual for a guard to go this high in the draft but Nelson will instantly make their team better. He was the top offensive line prospect in the draft by a mile and the Colts, a team that theoretically doesn’t need a quarterback, recognized that he was too good to pass up.
7. Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen — QB, Wyoming
The first trade of the draft. The Bills gave up the No. 12 pick and two second rounders for a chance at Allen, who is easily the most divisive of the elite quarterback prospects (and no, it’s not because of a few dumb tweets he sent while he was in high school). He’s big (6-foot-5, 237 pounds), he’s fast enough to be considered mobile (4.75-second 40) and he’s got arm strength to spare. But he developed late, which led to very little recruitment coming out of high school, and he has yet to show an ability to have the accuracy necessary to succeed in the N.F.L. The combination of a lack of ability to throw on the run, a tendency to make poor decisions, and a sense that he does not necessarily have much control of where the ball ends up leaves him as a quarterback who can look elite on one play and inept on the next. If it is simply a matter of him still learning the game, then he could develop into something special, but there is a tremendous bust risk in picking him high in the draft.
In an interview broadcast on ESPN, Allen addressed the Bills trading up for him despite the controversy over offensive tweets that he’d sent in high school. “I’m going to make them look like they’re the smartest people out there,” he said.
How he fits: With Tyrod Taylor gone and Nathan Peterman being terrible, the Bills needed a quarterback and they got one that some people thought was the top overall player in this draft. There are certainly question marks about Allen but he’s played in cold weather and he has slightly more upside than Josh Rosen, so the team is hoping they bet big and will win big.
8. Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith — LB, Georgia
Smith is sort of the antithesis of Tremaine Edmunds. He’s not nearly as large (6-foot-1, 236 pounds) and while he has elite speed there are questions about if he is strong enough to play in the middle of the field. Where he makes up for that is in natural linebacker instincts. He is a smart player, a strong leader, and is the type of guy coaches will trust to make decisions on the field.
How he fits: The Bears’ biggest need was at linebacker and Smith fits the bill. The team is hoping he’s a new version of Brian Urlacher, and the concept is not entirely out of the realm of possibility. He could be a true anchor for their defense.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Mike McGlinchey — OT, Notre Dame
He is the top-rated tackle in the draft, but McGlinchey is far overshadowed by his linemate Quenton Nelson. That being said, McGlinchey brings a huge frame (6-foot-8, 309 pounds with 34-inch arms) and he is pro-ready in terms of technique and instinct. The limitations to his game all revolve around his strength and his ability to deal with power rushers. If he can add some bulk without losing his mobility, that could help alleviate the concern.
How he fits: McGlinchey is the second Notre Dame offensive lineman to go in the first 10 picks, and while he’s not nearly the prospect that Nelson is, he’s a solid tackle who can be an anchor on either side of the line for San Francisco. He now has the job of protecting Jimmy Garoppolo who went from backup in New England to face of the franchise in San Francisco in the span of five games.
10. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Rosen — QB, U.C.L.A.
The second trade of the draft sent the tenth pick from Oakland to Arizona so the Cardinals could get their new franchise quarterback. They gave up three picks (15, 79 and 152) to get Rosen, who is not the kind of player who will wow anyone at a combine, but has good size (6-foot-4, 226 pounds) and a track record for the Bruins that suggests he has a deep understanding of the position even if he does not have the strongest arm or the most athleticism. His experience playing under center means there will not be much of a learning curve at the pro level, and he has shown the personality to be a strong leader off the field as well as on it.
The concern with Rosen is entirely how durable he will be. His narrow frame would be a concern even without his history of injury problems so a team betting big on him has to be concerned of what that could mean for him, especially if he ends up in an environment with poor pass protection.
This is the first time in the N.F.L.’s common draft era (1967 to present) where four quarterbacks were selected in the first 10 picks. While Allen and Rosen fell farther than some expected, the quarterback class has made history before any of them have thrown a pro pass.
How he fits: Sam Bradford is a good quarterback who has plenty of good football left to play, but his fragility is a huge concern. Getting a young player who can benefit from watching Bradford play before ultimately taking over is a solid move for the Cardinals. That being said, Rosen has an injury history as well, so the team has plenty of risk at the position even with two good quarterbacks on the roster.
11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick — S, Alabama
He was an instant success for talent-laden Alabama thanks to a nose for the ball, and that continued as he finished his three-year college career with nine interceptions, four of which he returned for touchdowns. He has played some cornerback but will probably be a safety in the N.F.L. where he will have the ability to participate in all aspects of the defense. He is a strong tackler, has great freelance instincts and, other than some questions as to his ability to handle man-to-man coverage as a corner (something he will likely not be asked to do), he should be the type of player who arrives in the pros ready to start.
How he fits: The Dolphins probably wanted a quarterback, but they didn’t want one bad enough to trade up and Fitzpatrick is a solid pick here as a defensive back who could solidify the middle of the field for Miami. It’s somewhat surprising that he went before Florida State’s Derwin James, but the Dolphins may have considered him to have more upside.
12: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vita Vea — DT, Washington
A mammoth tackle at 6-foot-4 and 347 pounds, Vea was already known for otherworldly strength and he proved it at the combine with 41 reps on the bench press. Despite that size and raw power, he moves remarkably well for an interior lineman. He could use some refinement to correct some issues, and may need a coach who can motivate him to break some bad habits, but physically he is ready to be an impact player from Day 1.
How he fits: Vea doesn’t fit. He makes room for himself. The Buccaneers got an anchor for their defensive line and they were paid with two second rounders for their trouble. There were players higher on most draft boards available, so the pick is certainly a surprise, but a defense that had plenty of holes just got a giant stopper.
13. Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne — DT, Alabama
A key playmaker in Alabama’s national championship victory, Payne was a 350-pound goliath at the start of his college career but slimmed down to just over 300 while remaining just as strong. He may have to add some of that bulk back in the pros, but he has shown no ill-effects in terms of power when attacking the line of scrimmage and may just be the rare slender (slender is relative in this case) tackle, who succeeds based on top-notch run-stopping ability and excellent technique.
How he fits: This is the second consecutive year that the Redskins took a defensive lineman from Alabama, so they must have liked what they got in Jonathan Allen. It was almost shocking that history didn’t repeat itself with the Redskins lucking into the best safety in the draft (Derwin James) like they did in 2004 (Sean Taylor) but Payne and Allen know each other well and could make defensive line a huge strength for the Redskins.
14. New Orleans Saints: Marcus Davenport — LB/DE, Texas-San Antonio
The Saints paid a huge price to get Davenport. They sent Green Bay the Nos. 27 and 147 picks along with a first-rounder next year. A tall (6-foot-6) and fairly slender (264 pounds) edge rusher, Davenport has gotten steadily bigger and stronger since entering college and could presumably continue to develop, which would certainly help if a team hopes to use him as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. He’s fast and aggressive, but his burst is somewhat lacking as are his instincts. That all adds up to him being far from a sure thing, but having the potential to be something special in the right environment.
How he fits: This one is a surprise. The Saints sent a nice package of picks to Green Bay to get an edge rusher who is undoubtedly a difference-maker on defense but isn’t the type of guy who most draft boards had rated highly enough to warrant such an outlay. If Davenport starts piling up sacks at the pro level no one will question this pick, but any rookie struggles will be compounded by the knowledge that the team gave up next year’s first-round pick as well.
15. Oakland Raiders: Kolton Miller — OT, U.C.L.A.
Miller is a giant at 6-foot-9, but he is fairly slender for a tackle at 309 pounds. While he has athleticism to spare for a player at his position, he has not quite figured out how to let his length compensate for his limitations in terms of a strong base. That will probably require an adjustment period at the pro level, but a player of his size who moves like can is such a rarity that teams will not require much convincing to be patient.
How he fits: The Raiders had been strong on the offensive line in recent years, but they’ve had some turnover and some injuries so they selected a mammoth left tackle to protect Derek Carr’s blind side. It could be a few years before he’s worthy of his lofty draft position, but there is reason to believe he will be there. At 6-foot-9, all Miller needs is the right coach to figure out how to best utilize his perfect size at tackle.
16. Buffalo Bills: Tremaine Edmunds — LB, Virginia Tech
The Bills already pulled one trade in this draft to get quarterback Josh Allen and now they’ve done another to get Edmunds. They gave up the Nos. 22 and 65 in exchange for the 16th pick and a fifth-rounder — and that might be a steal for this guy. Standing 6 foot 5 inches with long arms and a fairly narrow frame, Edmunds does not look like a typical linebacker, but the son of Ferrell Edmunds, a two-time Pro Bowler at tight end, uses his size and as a huge advantage to succeed at any of the linebacker positions. There are few players to match him up with historically, but one similar player was Julian Peterson, a tall linebacker who on any given play could line up at safety, any linebacker position, or even as a defensive end. The concerns about Edmunds rest on whether he has the next-level instincts that truly great linebackers tend to possess. That will not be an issue for several years, however, as he can compensate so much athletically that he has time to learn the finer details of the game while still being a star.
How he fits: There was no reason for anyone to believe that Edmunds would still be available this deep in the draft, so the Bills’ rebuilding process got another jolt with the selection of an absolutely huge inside linebacker who can do so many things that he can help all over the field. He might have a rough adjustment to the N.F.L., especially since he’s still a teenager, but he’ll get there.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James — S, Florida State
He only played 26 games in college, but James has the perfect size (6-foot-2, 215 pounds), strength (21 reps on the bench press) and speed (4.47 in the 40-yard dash) to be a game-changing safety. His game could use some refinement but he has continued to improve and his big personality should make him a leader on the field. Some injuries in the past, including an A.C.L. repair, should be noted, but any flaws he has on the field are correctable through coaching.
How he fits: It was a long wait, but James looked ecstatic to be heading to Los Angeles. He immediately strengthens the middle of the field for a defense that was strongest on the edges and the Chargers got a player who is a top-10 talent at 17.
18. Green Bay Packers: Jaire Alexander — CB, Louisville
The Packers had traded down earlier in the draft, but with Alexander available they went back up in a trade with Seattle. They gave up the No. 25 pick along with picks in the third- and sixth-rounds, but they get a guy who was one of the two top cornerbacks left on the board. It is not great when you’re an undersized cornerback to have spent the bulk of your junior season either out with an injury or limited by said injury. But Alexander showed enough skill in his sophomore season to make him a worthy first-round pick, even if the team selecting him feels he will need to find a permanent home as a nickel corner to help protect him. A good performance at the combine helped rescue some of the draft stock that had tanked based on his lost 2017 season.
How he fits: The Packers’ secondary was a huge liability last year so they tried to address that need with a player who carries a solid amount of risk but understands the position well and could be a top cornerback if things go right. He’s also a talented punt returner, something the Packers need. He’s certainly exciting and Green Bay just has to hope he can turn that outsized attitude into a consistent career.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch — LB, Boise State
A 6-foot-4, 256-pound linebacker with a nose for the ball, Vander Esch is an athletic freak who developed into a pro prospect in college after not having made much noise in high school. He looks and plays like a former basketball player, and has shown an ability to make tough tackles, but there is a sense that he is still learning the game after just one year as a starter in college.
How he fits: The Cowboys needed more defense and they are hoping Vander Esch can be a diamond in the rough. It must have killed Jerry Jones to not take a player more worthy of headlines (like Alabama’s Calvin Ridley) but Vander Esch might be the smarter pick. There is some bust potential, however, if he plateaus in development.
Raiders Trade a Third-Round Pick for Steelers’ Martavis Bryant
It didn’t involve a first-round pick but the Oakland Raiders made one of the biggest moves of the day by trading a third-rounder (No. 79) for Pittsburgh’s Martavis Bryant. A big-play wide receiver who stands 6 feet 4 inches, Bryant has at times looked like an emerging superstar but he had off-field problems lead to him missing a season with a suspension and once he came back the team never seemed to warm back up to him. A new start with Derek Carr throwing to him in Oakland could be huge for both him and the Raiders.
20. Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow — C, Arkansas
Ragnow wasn’t on many draft boards at the start of this year’s draft process, but he rose quickly as people took a closer look at his film and his combine results. At 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds, he is enormous for a center, and he plays the game with a physical style that is what a lot of teams hope for at the position. He’s not a top-tier athlete, and may struggle with faster players, but he will fall back on a big personality and a solid amount of coachability to get where he needs to be.
How he fits: This is a bit of a reach at 20, with plenty of players left on the board with better pedigrees, but the Lions must have fallen in love with the thought of him at center, and they figured he would not be there when they pick again at 51.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Billy Price — C, Ohio State
Price can play guard and center, but doesn’t play a particularly disciplined game, and sometimes borders on too intense. He will need to find a way to channel that energy in a more efficient manner, especially in a league where he does not have the same amount of physical advantage. He is one of the strongest players in the draft and he likes to show that early and often.
How he fits: Like the Lions, the Bengals had a need so they reached to get a center. The good news is that Price was ranked ahead of Frank Ragnow on most draft lists, so their reach was slightly less … reachy, than Detroit’s.
22. Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans — LB, Alabama
The Titans gave up the Nos. 25 and 125 picks to get Nos. 22 and 215. They did so to get Evans, the Alabama linebacker du jour. Stuck behind a host of talented players in his first few years with the Crimson Tide, Evans finally got his chance as a senior and, as many expected, he thrived. While he did not run the 40 as the combine, it’s believed he has the speed to be an elite inside linebacker in 3-4 offense and has displayed a willingness to work on his game that will be music to a his new coaches’ ears.
How he fits: The Titans probably needed an edge rusher more than an inside linebacker, but Evans is a tremendous value pick at 22 and the price they paid in trade was not too extreme. Tennessee Coach Mike Vrabel, who played for the Patriots, undoubtedly was attracted to someone who could play several different positions on defense. If Evans had lasted another pick he almost certainly would have gone to New England.
23. New England Patriots: Isaiah Wynn — G, Georgia
There is some debate about whether Wynn is a guard or a tackle, but the 6-foot-3 313-pounder is certainly a prospect who could mold into a quality player at either position. He is both fast and agile for a player of his size and the reason for the ambiguity about his position is because he has shown such a strong ability in pass protection to go with his top-tier run-blocking. He just has to prove he’s strong enough.
How he fits: The Patriots, unsurprisingly, took a player who is pretty clearly a prospect and they will work out where he plays later. He can either add bulk and stay at guard or refine his technique and play tackle. Considering Bill Belichick is his coach, he might just be asked to do both.
24. Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore — WR, Maryland
He plays the game somewhat similar to another former Terrapin, Stefon Diggs, but Moore is slightly larger. His speed (4.42 in the 40) and his leaping ability (39.5 inches) will be huge assets, and he really blossomed in terms of production as a junior, which is a trend teams will hope continues as he makes the leap to the pros. He needs to work on routes, and to figure out how to win battles for the ball with cornerbacks, but the raw tools are there.
How he fits: Calvin Ridley would probably like to have a word with the Panthers about how he was not the first wide receiver off the board, but Moore had incredible combine numbers. If he can clean up his game and learn to make the most of his physical ability, he could be a huge complement to the Panthers’ offense with Cam Newton throwing and Christian McCaffrey making plays all over the field.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Hayden Hurst — TE, South Carolina
A two-sport athlete, Hurst was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012 as a pitcher. In a sign of true versatility, he was a pitcher, converted to an infielder, and now he’s a first-round pick as a tight end in the N.F.L. That path puts him on the older side at 24, but he has the size and strength to succeed as a tight end, and he plays the game with an almost reckless attitude that has served him well. He may need to work on disguising his routes more, but that could come with more coaching.
How he fits: The last first-round pick of Ozzie Newsome’s legendary career as an executive was a tight end, which seems just about perfect. They call him Garnet Thor, and he’s taken an odd path to the N.F.L., but Hurst is not a gimmick. There is not an endorsement for a tight end much stronger than Newsome, a Hall of Fame tight end, picking you in the first round.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Calvin Ridley — WR, Alabama
Ridley’s overall college statistics did not really live up to the potential he showed as a freshman in 2015 when he had 89 receptions for 1,045 yards, but he finished his three-year career at Alabama with 19 touchdowns. While he’s not exactly ideal size for a wideout (6-foot-1, 189 pounds), he has 4.43 speed in the 40 and is known for running exceptional routes. He had more drops than you would expect from a player who seems so otherwise refined in technique, but some of that might be a result of his anticipation of hits, which could become more pronounced in the N.F.L. where he will regularly face defensive backs that are far bigger and stronger than he is.
How he fits: Putting Ridley on the field with fellow Alabama alum Julio Jones could not be more perfect. Talent evaluators think the N.F.L. game will unlock the potential in Ridley, which could make this pick one of the best in terms of value in the entire draft. It is hard to think of a better role model for him than Jones, even if Ridley cannot match his new teammate’s physical stature.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Rashaad Penny — RB, San Diego State
Penny is a fast (4.46 in the 40) back who is decently sized (5-foot-11, 220 pounds). He’s an old-fashioned volume guy at running back who just tries to wear defenses down and breaks more than a few tackles. He doesn’t always make the right lane decisions, though, and tacklers with better technique tended to catch him easily and bring him down.
How he fits: The Seahawks’ offense was completely one-dimensional last season so they desperately needed a running back. That being said, Louisiana State’s Derrius Guice and Georgia’s Sony Michel would have been far more logical picks than Penny, who doesn’t profile as a star at the N.F.L. level. Maybe Seattle knows something no one else knows about him.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Terrell Edmunds — S, Virginia Tech
His brother already went with the No. 16 pick, and now it’s Terrell’s turn. He’s far smaller than Tremaine but he can play near the line of scrimmage and deliver big hits, but is not lost in man-to-man coverage. He needs to get more consistent in tackling, and occasionally has mental lapses, but he has the talent to thrive.
How he fits: Edmunds’s selection became somewhat secondary after Ryan Shazier, the Pittsburgh linebacker who endured a horrific spine injury in Week 13, walked onto the stage to introduce the pick. It was an incredible moment, with Shazier being assisted on his way out but standing on his own at the podium. Make no mistake: Edmunds is the type of player who could be a strong fit in Pittsburgh’s system. This is the first time brothers have been taken in the first round in the same year.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Taven Bryan — DT, Florida
He has a lot to learn about the position, and it’s a total unknown if he can develop the instincts necessary to thrive, but he is a risk worth taking with the reward being a 6-foot-5, 291-pound hard-worker who could theoretically play anywhere on the defensive line. It is a leap of faith, though, as he has never produced much statistically and there is a chance that he is a tackle in an end’s body.
How he fits: There will never be enough top-notch defenders for Jacksonville. They already had a defense that gave every opposing team nightmares and now they’ve added the son of a Navy Seal who can wreak havoc in the middle of the field.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Mike Hughes — CB, Central Florida
He does not have a ton of experience at the position and he does not have ideal size or speed, but Hughes has made teams interested by showing strong physicality, tracking the ball well in the air and having good hands when he has the opportunity to snatch a pass away from a receiver. He needs work as a tackler, and will get bullied by larger players, but the team the Vikings might be just as interested in him as a return specialist as they are in his ability to be a defensive back.
How he fits: He’s had a whole host of off-the-field issues which caused his stock to drop. The Vikings hope they’ve done their due diligence to evaluate whether his problems are behind him, but the 49ers thought they had a steal last year in Reuben Foster only for that young linebacker’s troubles to continue to affect his career. If Hughes can keep himself on the field, he could be an injection of youth for a Minnesota secondary that has a ton of talent but is getting long in the tooth.
31. New England Patriots: Sony Michel — RB, Georgia
Anyone who watched the Rose Bowl is probably wondering why Michel was not off the board earlier. The Georgia running back absolutely torched Oklahoma. But while he’s a strong runner for his size, he does not, at this point, make the sharp cuts that are expected in the N.F.L. and there is a belief that he was somewhat of a product of Georgia’s excellent blocking scheme. The big play potential is there, though, so the Patriots must believe they can refine his game into something special.
How he fits: New England went with a pair of players from Georgia with their two first-round picks, and while Michel showed off some serious explosiveness in his final year with the Bulldogs, he might be a mild reach ahead of Derrius Guice. This is the Patriots, though, so they undoubtedly have a plan to unlock Michel’s talents in a way that no one else has thought of yet.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson — QB, Louisville
Baltimore executed a trade with Philadelphia so they could take Jackson. While Josh Allen may have a lot of questions about how he can succeed at quarterback in the N.F.L., Jackson faces one with even bigger consequences for player and team: Is he a quarterback?
It is interesting that his accuracy as a thrower is often seen as a non-starter despite his completion percentage in college being higher than Allen’s, but it is likely a combination of that and his size (6-foot-2, 216 pounds) that has people wondering if his athleticism would translate better at wide receiver. The best bet with Jackson may be to forget the concept of position and simply consider him a football player. Someone with his speed, agility, and throwing ability could certainly help a team with a creative offensive coordinator provided he is willing to open his mind to possibilities that don’t necessarily have him under center on every down.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Ravens traded the Nos. 52 and 125 picks along with a 2019 second-rounder for the Nos. 32 and 132 picks.
How he fits: It takes away some of the poetry of Ozzie Newsome taking a tight end with his final first-round pick, but this pick shows off Newsome’s willingness to take big risks. Jackson’s value to the Ravens won’t be known for some time, but there’s no reason he couldn’t participate in the offense in a wildcat formation along with Joe Flacco, not unlike Colin Kaepernick did in his early days with the 49ers and Alex Smith. That could give him a soft entry as a passer so he can convince the doubters that he is what he says he is.