Draft King Analysis
April 25, 2019
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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Running Commentary on the 2019 NFL Draft
Lou (4:46 p.m. CDT): With inclement weather in the forecast, my plans to attend night one of the draft in person tonight in downtown Nashville have changed. I'll get down there tomorrow to take in the full live experience in person, but for tonight I'll be working from home.
My one major regret in my final 2019 NFL Mock Draft was not including Missouri QB Drew Lock somewhere near the end of round one. As I noted in the mock, my approach changed this year, angling more to connect a given player with the team as opposed to what spot they will be drafted.
Perhaps I should have made an exception for the late first round and projected Lock to one of the last two spots. I nearly did that for the Patriots at #32, but ultimately I decided against it. Something I will contemplate for 2020, to be sure.
More here in a bit, but for now you can check out my past NFL Draft running commentaries and/or live event experiences:
2004 (Round one)
2004 (Round two)
2005 (Part one)
2005 (Part two)
2005 (Part three)
2012 (Live event)
Lou (5:30 p.m. CDT): 90 minutes out from the start of round one of the 2019 NFL Draft, and downtown Nashville already looks like a sea of humanity.
Nashville has already reaped its reported $3 million in costs to host the 2019 draft back tenfold, and that's strictly from a marketing and PR standpoint.
It has been one feature story after another from the national sports media about the city, and the people here, and the unique places and businesses that help to make Nashville so special.
Lou (6:00 p.m. CDT): Seeing the infamous 1994 promo that then-Colts GM Bill Tobin cut on Mel Kiper replayed earlier this week made for some entertaining viewing. Hard to believe that was 25 year ago. I had forgotten that Tobin wouldn't let it go the next day.
The fact that Tobin didn't address the specific validity of Kiper's argument (which was well-made) spoke volumes.
If you had told 16-year-old me, watching all of that play out live on ESPN, how the NFL would play such a big role in both my life and the city of Nashville over the next 25 years, I would have never believed you. An incredulity level on par with Jack in the scene on the TV show Lost where Ben reveals how the Boston Red Sox won the 2004 World Series.
Probably my favorite scene on the show that didn't involve Desmond, and easily the best retconning of a real-life event into a fictional TV show that I've ever seen.
And yet, as improbable as all of this would have sounded, here we are.
Lou (6:40 p.m. CDT): On top of the NFL Network and ESPN coverage, the Nashville ABC affiliate (WKRN) is airing a local pre-draft live special right now as well. As much as this event has been wonderful promotion for the city, it also has been great marketing for the NFL here in middle Tennessee.
Lou (6:50 p.m. CDT): Let me take a moment to wish good luck to Vanderbilt CB Joejuan Williams, who is likely going to be drafted on day two, but who I did see show up as a first-round selection in one mock draft late last night.
I've known about Joejuan for a long time, going back to his days at my alma mater, Father Ryan High School. Everything I've ever heard about him as a person was positive. My own mother, who taught math at Father Ryan at the time, told me how polite and well-mannered Joejuan was.
Joejuan overcame some long odds to earn a scholarship at Vanderbilt, and after this weekend also a major payday with his first NFL contract. To be sure, Joejuan's path to this point wasn't an easy one. At all.
Lou (6:55 p.m. CDT): Five minutes from the top of the hour and still no leaks on what Arizona plans to do. But it's hard to see how it wouldn't be Kyler Murray at this point.
Lou (7:00 p.m. CDT): The clock doesn't really start at the top of the hour, not with introductions, establishing shots, commercial breaks running earlier than normal to allow for some long commercial-free segments viable later, etc.
This isn't a criticism, mind you. Competition tends to drive superior performance, and with both ABC/ESPN and the NFL Network covering the same event at the same time, both sides have plenty of motivation.
Lou (7:24 p.m. CDT): Arizona certainly took its time to start off the draft. But they beat the clock, and at #1 it's Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray.
Not surprising, but now the question becomes: where is Josh Rosen going to go? Backup quarterback is more important than ever in the NFL, but it seems hard to envision the Cardinals holding onto Rosen after taking Murray at #1 overall.
Lou (7:39 p.m. CDT): Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa went to San Francisco at #2, and then it's the Jets sticking at #3 to select Alabama DT Quinnen Williams. So much for the talk of trading down. This also seems to validate claims that the Jets didn't rate Kentucky EDGE Josh Allen as high as others.
For the record, it's ABC over-the-air as the fastest, 3 seconds ahead of the NFL Network signal on Dish and 6 seconds ahead of the ESPN signal on Dish. Also, in seeing that crowd on the great shot from the stage literally straight down Broadway, I suspect I would have had a view there tonight on par with trying to see the ring at WrestleMania 27 from up in the nosebleeds at the Georgia Dome.
Lou (7:45 p.m. CDT): Imagine booking your bachelorette party for Nashville on a Thursday night... only to discover you're running heads-up with the NFL Draft. Brutal.
Here's hoping the ladies ended up making the best of it. Nashville isn't normally this festive on a Thursday night in late April.
Lou (7:50 p.m. CDT): It makes sense why Oakland played things so close to the vest, including sending home their scouts several days ago. At #4 they selected Clemson EDGE Clelin Ferrell in a surprising move. Hard to know if they had hoped for Bosa or Q. Williams there, but Ferrell had 11.5 sacks last season, so he's hardly a reach.
Meanwhile, it's beginning to rain harder in downtown Nashville.
Lou (7:57 p.m. CDT): No surprise with the Buccaneers drafting LB Devin White at #5 overall. White had been linked with the Bucs for some time, and he will fill a need with the departure of Kwon Alexander.
Giants are on the clock. If they want Dwayne Haskins, he's there for the taking.
Lou (8:02 p.m. CDT): My prediction of the Giants drafting Duke QB Daniel Jones in round one came true, only at #6 instead of #17. So much for pass rusher being a firm prediction here, though there will be EDGE talent on the board at #17 worthy of the spot.
My hope for Jones' sake is that he will be the exception to the rule as far as a QB with a ~60% completion rate in college being able to excel in the modern NFL. We'll see. Not a good sign when fans of the team that drafted you slide into surrender cobra mode.
Go prove them wrong, Daniel Jones.
Lou (8:08 p.m. CDT): Looks like the Jaguars held true to the best player available philosophy at #7, passing up Jawaan Taylor and other offensive line prospects to draft Kentucky EDGE Josh Allen.
It's almost impossible to have too many great pass rushers in today's game, and Allen excelled at that at Kentucky, even when opposing teams tried to gameplan around him.
Lou (8:14 p.m. CDT): Interesting to see Detroit go with Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson at #8 overall. Whispers late in the process suggested this might happen. It fills a need for the Lions, but it's unusual for a tight end to come off the board in the top eight.
Lou (8:20 p.m. CDT): Quite the coup for Buffalo, landing Houston DT Ed Oliver at #9. There had been speculation that the Bills would possibly trade up to get Oliver, but instead they held their ground and landed a very talented defensive tackle. This direction was expected for Buffalo, clearly needing a young defensive lineman with some size and a knack for pressuring opposing QBs.
Lou (8:28 p.m. CDT): There was finally a trade, with Pittsburgh jumping from #20 to #10 to select Michigan LB Devin Bush. There was a considerable drop-off on many lists for high-end LBs with great sideline-to-sideline coverage after Bush, who would seem to be a great fit with the Steelers.
The rumors of the Broncos being a strong candidate to trade down proved to be true.
Lou (8:48 p.m. CDT): Cincinnati fills a need on its offensive line with versatile Alabama OL Jonah Williams at #11. I had thought the Jets might trade down and target Williams later in the top 10-15, but instead it's the Bengals landing a player some thought would be taken in the top ten.
At #12, with Hockenson off the board, the Packers instead went with Michigan DE Rashan Gary. It didn't look good when Gary disappeared from the prop pick boards as word of his shoulder injury spread, but he ended up okay, going in the first dozen.
A possible ripple effect from Ed Oliver still being on the board for Buffalo, the Dolphins picked up Clemson DT Christian Wilkins at #13. I had thought Miami might target Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons here, and perhaps that was a consideration at one point.
Lou (8:54 p.m. CDT): The picks are moving faster, with the Falcons selecting Boston College OG Chris Lindstrom at #14. He's the first player drafted tonight who I didn't project going in round one, but Lindstrom was right on the edge with several other comparable interior offensive line prospects.
Lou (8:58 p.m. CDT): After all the talk about the Redskins trading up to get a quarterback, they stayed at #15 and drafted Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins. This is the reason I switched things up this year and focused more on connecting players with teams as opposed to a certain spot on the board.
To be fair, I didn't make that projection thinking the Redskins would be able to stand pat and still be in position to land Haskins. But that's exactly how it played out.
Lou (9:04 p.m. CDT): Two in a row for me on the mock, with Carolina drafting Florida State EDGE Brian Burns at #16. It's logical, a player who was perhaps a slight slide from some projections but with elite pass-rushing skill, which is exactly what the Panthers needed here.
Lou (9:11 p.m. CDT): Frustration is boiling over on NFL Network, with a very loud cover band that keeps drowning out the broadcast crew. I'm with Rich Eisen on this, not good times for them. Hard enough to keep your voice over three days without trying to shout to be heard.
And now it's Eisen saying "Silence is golden!" as the band apparently finally ended their set. It might be amusing if I didn't know firsthand how frustrating that can be as a broadcaster.
Lou (9:11 p.m. CDT): After going quarterback at #6, the Giants landed Clemson DT Dexter Lawrence at #17. I had wondered if the ostarine issue that kept him out of the 2018 college football playoffs, or if his run-stuffing size might cause him to slide to round two. Ultimately I faded him out, but it was close.
But Lawrence is a special player, and he certainly fits the mold of what the Giants were looking to do early in this draft.
Lou (9:17 p.m. CDT): At #18, the Minnesota Vikings filled their interior OL, as I had projected, only instead of Washington State OL Andre Dillard, it's NC State OL Garrett Bradbury.
The host city Titans are on the clock. There had been talk of Bradbury to the Titans, which is what I projected, but instead he goes off the board one spot earlier to Minnesota. I had thought the Titans might trade up, but that wasn't how it played out.
Lou (9:17 p.m. CDT): It's a huge pickup for Tennessee at #19 with Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons. He suffered a torn ACL that will likely keep him on the PUP list to start the season, but he's a top five quality prospect with incredible pass-rushing skill for his size.
And if Simmons is able to recover from his knee injury in time for the stretch run, he could give the Titans front seven a huge boost at a critical point.
Lou (9:30 p.m. CDT): Denver traded back from #10 with T.J. Hockenson off the board, and instead at #20 the Broncos targeted another tight end from Iowa in Noah Fant. With the Ravens sitting at #22, it made sense to move down to #20 and still be in line to select Fant.
Lou (9:38 p.m. CDT): Interesting move by Seattle to move down from #21 to #30 in exchange for a pair of 2019 fourth-round picks from Green Bay. The Seahawks only had five picks coming into the draft, and now they'll be at a more standard number with seven.
And by moving up, Green Bay was in position to draft Darnell Savage, who was a late breakout from the top group of safeties. It was enough for me to project Savage to Philadelphia at #25 in my final mock, and Green Bay managed to avoid that happening by moving up to #21.
Lou (9:41 p.m. CDT): I'm not surprised in the slightest to see the Ravens trade down with the two tight ends out of Iowa both off the board. Philadelphia moves up three spots to #22.
Lou (9:43 p.m. CDT): The Eagles moved up to #22 to land Washington State OL Andre Dillard. There was some late buzz surrounding Dillard, and while he did slide out of the top 20, he is a strong choice here with his exceptional pass protecting talent.
Lou (9:48 p.m. CDT): A popular late name in the draft process was Alabama State OT Tytus Howard, and it proved to be on point as the Texans selected Howard at #23 overall. Perhaps it's a stretch to go with Howard here, though he should fill a need spot for the Texans.
Lou (9:56 p.m. CDT): Once the Raiders sent the scouts home, after word leaked that Oakland was targeting Alabama RB Josh Jacobs, it wasn't exactly a bold statement or a hot take to project Jacobs to the Raiders at #24, which I did. Throw in Marshawn Lynch's retirement, and it all makes sense.
Lou (10:04 p.m. CDT): I had thought Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown would be a great fit for the Colts at #26, but instead it's the Ravens who select Brown at #25. Baltimore traded in front of the Colts and managed to fill a need with an exceptionally talented slot receiver.
And with Brown off the board, the Colts trade back and the Redskins move up. Washington might be moving up to get Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat.
Lou (10:16 p.m. CDT): Indeed, the Redskins traded up to get Montez Sweat at #26, a player I had projected to Detroit at #8. But medical concerns caused him to slide, and the Redskins clearly saw him as a great value to trade for at that spot.
Lou (10:19 p.m. CDT): The last decision I made ahead of deadline was including Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram at the end of round one over Drew Lock.
And, as it turned out, Abram was a first-round selection, as Oakland drafted Abram with the third of its three opening-night picks at #27.
Lou (4/26 1:06 a.m. CDT): Rounding out the rest of night one, it was Notre Dame DT Jerry Tillery going to the Chargers at #28, TCU DE L.J. Collier going to Seattle at #29, UGA CB Deandre Baker at #30 to the New York Giants, Washington OT Kalen McGary to Atlanta at #31, and finally Arizona State WR N'Keal Harry to New England at #32.
Overall, I had seven player/team direct projections and hit with 26-of-32 first-round projections who were selected in round one.
More later... -Lou