Green Bay trades for the heir-apparent at quarterback. Las Vegas takes a cornerback ranked by most analysts as a second- or third-rounder. And then there’s Seattle – it wouldn’t feel like an official NFL draft without the Seahawks taking a Day 2 player on Day 1.
The first day of the draft went off without a hitch, as there were few, if any, noticeable problems with the first-ever virtual draft.
Here’s a snapshot of picks 1-10 of the first round:
OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville: One of the biggest players in the draft wowed scouts at the Combine when the 6-foot-7, 364-pound Befcton ran a 5.1-second 40-yard dash, the fastest time ever for a player who weighs 350 pounds or more.
He was already rising up draft boards before his Combine performance, but that helped solidify his standing as one of the top four players at his position. Nonetheless, Becton’s Combine drug test was flagged by the league, according to various media reports, and scouts have some concern about his ability to maintain a reasonable playing weight.
WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama: Of course the Raiders drafted the fastest player in the draft. Ruggs’ 4.27-second 40 was the fastest time at the Combine, so it’s not a surprise that he was selected in the top-15.
However, most analysts thought Ruggs’ teammate, Jerry Jeudy, or Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb would be the first receiver off the board. In the end, Ruggs’ speed won out, despite the fact that his 746 yards receiving this past season represented a career-high for the junior.
OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa: Wirfs put together perhaps the best Combine performance ever for an offensive lineman.
So it comes as a bit of a surprise that he was the fourth OT taken following a stellar career at Iowa, where he mostly played on the right side.
Ironically, the top four OTs went in reverse order of where the oddsmakers thought they’d be drafted.
DL Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina: San Francisco pulled off quite a coup on Thursday, moving down one spot – allegedly to snag the player they wanted all along in Kinlaw – will picking up an extra fourth-rounder from Tampa Bay.
Kinlaw will slide into the role that DeForest Buckner filled before he was traded to Indianapolis for the 13th-pick of the draft. Kinlaw allegedly has some “quirks,” but he’s nonetheless a player to root for, as he’s overcome a challenging upbringing and was generally regarded as the second-best DT in the draft.
WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama: Days before the draft, rumors started floating around that Jeudy might fall in the draft due to a knee injury. The injury wasn’t news – Jeudy himself confirmed it and every team was made aware of the situation – and it ultimately didn’t hurt his stock much, if at all, as the only minor surprise here is that Jeudy went after his Alabama teammate Ruggs.
Minor set back for a MAJOR comeback 💪🏿 https://t.co/1LZpgJ5bet
— Jerry Jeudy⁴ (@jerryjeudy) April 3, 2018
CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson: Kristian Fulton and Trevon Diggs were ranked higher by many analysts, but none of them boasts Terrell’s athleticism, as the Clemson junior simply out-performed many of the CBs ranked ahead of him at the Combine.
So his selection isn’t a big surprise, especially considering they lost former Pro Bowler Desmond Trufant to free agency. What is a surprise, though, is that Atlanta took Terrell over LSU edge K’Lavon Chaisson, who was often mocked to the Falcons with this pick.
WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma: Dallas entered the draft with a glaring hole at cornerback following the free agency loss of Pro Bowl CB Byron Jones. And the team needs a pass rusher, a defensive tackle and a safety.
But wide receiver? The team already has two young, 1,000-yard receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.
But Lamb was simply too good of a prospect to pass up, so now Dallas will look to improve its defense on Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft.
And it’s not as if Dallas didn’t have a need for a third receiver who could potentially play the slot after losing Randall Cobb in free agency. Still, most expected the team to draft a receiver in the later rounds, especially given the depth of the position this year.
But no one – including the Cowboys – predicted Lamb would still be there at pick No. 17. Just how surprised were the Cowboys? Owner Jerry Jones said afterward that Lamb, ranked as the No. 6 overall prospect by Dallas, hadn’t made it that far in any of the mock draft simulations they ran before the draft. And the only time the team met with him was during the Combine, as he was not one of the team’s scheduled online interviews.
OT Austin Jackson, USC: Miami needed to find a replacement for OT Laremy Tunsil, who they traded to Houston last season. And prior to the draft, there were rumors that Miami might bypass QB with pick No. 5 and instead draft the top OT, with the hope that one of the top-4 QBs would slide to this spot. The reason? Miami’s line was bad last season, giving up a league-leading 58 sacks and averaging the lowest rushing yards (72.3) per game.
Instead, Miami drafted Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa with their first pick, then drafted Tunsil’s replacement with their second of three first-rounders.
Most analysts pegged Jackson among the second-tier group of OTs, with Houston’s Josh Jones ranked ahead of him. But Jackson is one of the more athletic tackles, although he struggled at times last season and may need time to develop.
CB Damon Arnette, Ohio State: This was the first big surprise of the draft, as most analysts’ pegged Arnette as a Day 2/Round 3 prospect.
Still, he was seen as a riser by some analysts, especially considering the fact that he entered the season ranked as a Day 3 prospect.
And with the Detroit’s selection of Jeff Okudah with the No. 3 pick, Okudah and Arnette become just the third CB duo from the same school to be drafted in the first round since 2002. That last time that happened was 2017, when Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley both went in the first round, with Conley going to the Raiders. Conley was also a bit of a surprise first-round pick that year.
Edge K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU: Many analysts had Chaisson going to Atlanta with pick No. 16 or to Dallas with pick No. 17 – and media reports suggest Chaisson would have been the pick in Dallas had CeeDee Lamb not fallen.
Instead, both teams passed on Chaisson, who is largely considered the second-best pass rusher in the draft next to Ohio State’s Chase Young. Chaisson has a bit of an injury history, and he didn’t produce big stats last season. Nonetheless, it wasn’t enough to scare off Jacksonville, who is allegedly considering trading edge Yannick Ngakoue, who has yet to sign his non-exclusive franchise tag.
Jake Rigdon (email@example.com) covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak and the On The Clock, which is the only NFL draft simulator that allows you to customize and use your own big board while giving you control over trades.