Top takeaways from first round of 2019 NFL Draft

The first round of the 2019 NFL Draft offered us a ton of surprises. Did the New York Giants really take Daniel Jones with the sixth pick? Their division rivals in the NFC East, the Washington Redskins, seemed to hit a home run with fellow quarterback Dwayne Haskins at the midway point of Round 1.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders went in different directions along the defensive line — one getting a true stud and the other reaching big time.

It seems like Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim admitted his mistake from a year ago by taking Kyler Murray at No. 1. And remaining in the NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers added the draft’s best player.

These are among the top takeaways from the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Matt Patricia turning Lions into Patriots 2.0 

We’re not going to sit back and say this is a bad thing. It isn’t. After signing former Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers to a massive contract last month, Patricia and the Lions went back to the well again on Thursday. The former Patriots assistant selected Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson with the No. 8 overall pick in the draft. Hockenson was the consensus No. 1 tight end in the draft and is seen as a freak of nature.

It’s rather clear that Detroit is trying to provide Matthew Stafford with the same type of weapons we’ve seen Tom Brady excel with in New England. In this case, it’s almost a carbon copy of Rob Gronkowksi. It should do wonders for Stafford and Co.

Raiders’ drama seemed to be real 

Jon Gruden and Co. were apparently looking to move up for either defensive tackle Quinnen Williams or edge-rusher Nick Bosa. The target area was the San Francisco 49ers at No. 2 overall. Instead, Oakland stood pat with the fourth pick and selected Clemson edge-rusher Clelin Ferrell.

While seen as a first-round prospect, Ferrell was nowhere near projected to go within the top 10, let alone the top five. In fact, Oakland selected him over fellow pass-rusher Josh Allen. It was a major reach at an area in the draft that teams must avoid reaches. It also lends credence to the idea that predraft drama in Oakland’s war room was real. Oakland then went running back Josh Jacobs with the second of its first-round picks before adding safety Johnathan Abram to close out Day 1. All three of these picks were reaches.

Bills get a real steal in Ed Oliver 

After seeing Oakland reach with Ferrell and the New York Giants come out of left field with their selection of Daniel Jones, Buffalo was able to add an elite player at a need position. A dominant figure at Houston, Oliver came under scrutiny leading up the draft. In no way does this mean the defensive tackle isn’t an elite-level talent.

It really seems that teams analyzed Oliver’s game too much. He proved to be overwhelming for college competition. He could be an instant Pro Bowl performer. After rumors persisted that Buffalo might move into the top three for fellow defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, the team added a value pick a nine.

Washington quiets critics for now 

It was being reported in the lead-up to the draft that Washington was potentially looking to trade up for Daniel Jones. In fact, there seemed to be some disagreement between members of the front office. Had owner Daniel Snyder taken over the big board? Apparently not. Standing pat at 15 overall, Washington was able to land the consensus No. 2 quarterback in the draft in the form of Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins.

This represents a major coup for Washington, especially given the injury issues this team is facing in the quarterback room. The Skins didn’t have to move up for Haskins. Instead, they saw him fall right on to their lap. That’s just great for a much-maligned front office.

49ers building a bully 

Most fans in Northern California were pleading for general manager John Lynch and Co. not to overthink this. Selecting No. 2 overall, San Francisco was in position to land the draft’s best overall player. Once the Cardinals picked Kyler Murray at one, this became a reality.

In the end, these 49ers nabbed Ohio State edge-rusher Nick Bosa to team up with recently acquired Pro Bowler Dee Ford on the outside. Add in another Pro Bowler in that of DeForest Buckner at defensive tackle, and this front seven is absolutely stacked. That’s a good thing with Murray, Russell Wilson and Jared Goff in the NFC West.

Panthers ignore glaring offensive tackle need

Florida State edge-rusher Brian Burns could very well be a dynamo at the next level. In no way does this mean that continuing to ignore pass protection in front of often-hobbled former NFL MVP Cam Newton is a recipe for success.

Alabama’s Jonah Williams was off the board when Carolina selected 16th overall. Even then, two other offensive tackles were selected almost immediately after the Panthers’ pick. It just make no real sense for Carolina to continue ignoring pass protection in front of Newton. It’s that simple.

We’re not sure what the Giants are doing

New York wasn’t interested in drafting a quarterback until it was. David Gettleman and Co. didn’t show much confidence in Haskins or Murray before meeting with them. In the end, these Giants made the most eye-opening move of the first round in selecting Duke’s quarterback Daniel Jones No. 6 overall.

It even led to Haskins laughing in the green room. Jones is seen as a major project and likely won’t be ready to start for two more seasons. Then with the 17th pick — acquired in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade — New York went defensive tackle in the form of Dexter Lawrence. That’s one way to get help for Jones and reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley on offense. Ouch!

Some curious moves from the Packers

Former Michigan standout pass-rusher Rashan Gary didn’t seem to be need for Green Bay after the team added edge-rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith in free agency. Add in injury concerns to Gary, and it was a surprise at No. 12 overall.

With their second pick of Day 1 — acquired in a trade with the Saints last year — the Packers picked up a fast-rising safety in the form of Darnell Savage. This was also a curious move from general manager Brian Gutekunst and Co. It’s obviously too early to draw conclusions here. But the Packers went with two boom-or-bust prospects.

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Seminoles vault to No. 1 in ESPN’s class rankings

Written by Jeremy Crabtree at

Michigan landed the top prize of national signing day when No. 1-ranked Rashan Gary announced for the Wolverines live on ESPN2, but Florida State, Alabama and Texas were Wednesday’s biggest winners.

Florida State, which began signing day at No. 3 in ESPN’s class rankings, vaulted LSU and now stands at No. 1 after landing ESPN 300 prospects Carlos Becker, Landon Dickerson, Dontavious Jackson and Brian Burns.

Despite adding third-ranked cornerback Kristian Fulton and seven of the top 10 players in Louisiana, LSU dropped from No. 1 to No. 3; Alabama also passed the Tigers in the class rankings.

“Our coaches did an outstanding job of building personal relationships, some of which are two, three or four years old,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. “It really doesn’t matter where we rank. I want to rank the classes after they leave. But I’m aware of where we’re ranked at, and it’s a testament to how hard our staff worked.”

Alabama entered Wednesday with the ninth-ranked class, but the Crimson Tide climbed after landing ESPN 300 cornerbacks Shyheim Carter, Jared Mayden and Aaron Robinson, top-ranked inside linebacker Ben Davis, No. 5 outside linebacker Mack Wilson and sixth-ranked defensive end Terrell Hall. Davis, Wilson, Carter and Hall are all top 50 prospects.

The Crimson Tide also landed pledges Tuesday from ESPN 300 cornerback Nigel Knott and ESPN 300 offensive tackle Scott Lashley.

Texas entered the day in a spot unfamiliar to most Longhorns fans. After years of dominating the Big 12 recruiting wars, Texas had the 32nd-ranked class, but the Longhorns shot up the rankings to No. 9 after top 50 prospects Jeffrey McCulloch and Brandon Jones committed there live on ESPNU, and ESPN 300 outside linebacker Erick Fowler flipped from LSU. The Longhorns also added ESPN 300 defensive tackles Jordan Elliott, Marcel Southall and Chris Danielson Wednesday, giving them four four-star defensive tackle commits.

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Nation’s No. 1 Recruit Rashan Gary Commits to Michigan

Written by Bruce Feldman at

t’s been quite a first year for Jim Harbaugh back at Michigan. Not only did he lead his alma mater to a 10-win season and spark Michigan to a No. 12 ranking in 2015, but the former Wolverine QB just signed the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit in New Jersey’s Rashan Gary. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive lineman announced on Wednesday he’s going to play at Michigan.

“I picked Michigan because that’s a place where I felt comfortable,” Gary explained on ESPN. “That’s a place where my family felt comfortable. That’s a place where I felt the academic support is great and the degree holds a lot of weight.”

Gary was the overwhelming top vote-getter this week when FOX Sports surveyed 36 college coaches about the recruit they thought was most likely to make a big impact as a freshman in 2016. Gary received eight votes from the college coaches we surveyed.

“This is a really good defensive line class and he is head and shoulders above every other D-lineman in this class,” one longtime college coach said. “He’s 300 pounds and he moves well enough, he can play end. He’s great with his hands. He’s strong. He’s been very well-coached and has had a great high school D-line coach. Rashan Gary is the Leonard Fournette of this class.”

Said one in-house recruiting coordinator who has worked at two Power 5 conference schools: “He’s a 300-pounder who moves like he’s 240. He is special.”

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