Winner: New York Jets
If I had more faith in the Jets as an organization, this really feels like a draft that could turn around the franchise’s fortunes. New York ended up with three picks in the first round, and they landed three impact playmakers.
Sauce Gardner looks to be the Jets’ next great shutdown corner, Garret Wilson gives Zach Wilson a big play threat to develop with, and Jermaine Johnson might be the steal of the first round. Still, its the Jets. They’ll find some way to mess this up. But it looks like a great haul.
Loser: Green Bay Packers
I pick on the Texans every year it seems, so I’m going to be mean to someone else this time around. After trading away Davante Adams, Green Bay was left with one of the weakest receiving groups in the league. With Aaron Rodgers already frustrated with the lack of support he’s been getting from the rest of the Packers’ offense, everyone expected Green Bay to finally grab a receiver in the first round.
That didn’t happen. Quay Walker looks like he should become a solid interior linebacker, and Devonte Wyatt could develop into a great interior D-Lineman, but both feel like reaches where they were picked, especially considering the Packers’ needs.
Winners: New York Giants & Baltimore Ravens
It’s always concerning when you’re on the same wavelength as the Giants, but with two picks in the top seven yesterday, even they found a way not to screw anything up and get the job done. Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux at #5 overall was a really stellar choice, especially in the era of hybrid-edge rushers and the “mountain masquerading as a man” in Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal now has the Giants starting day two with an early selection that they can use to begin to work on their linebacking core or secondary. I’m stunned to say it, but job well done by the boys in blue.
As for Baltimore, with no pick higher than #14, the Ravens were still able to scoop up two big-time talents in Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton and Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum that should anchor both sides of the ball for years to come. Hamilton is probably even better suited for an NFL style of play which relies more on reads and altered coverages than he was for college, while Linderbaum is your prototypical prospect at center that has a strong anchor and fills a need for the franchise. Also, Baltimore was able to unloaded an unhappy Marquise Brown in the process.
Losers: New England Patriots & People Who Hate Trades
I know the rule is to believe in New England at all costs, as Bill Belichick is the great draft wizard that none of us will ever understand, but the choice of Chattanooga offensive lineman Cole Strange at #29 overall just didn’t sit right with me at all. Strange is not a bad football player by any means and he can come in and help the Patriots from the get-go, yet sometimes it’s not who you pick, but who you didn’t pick which ends up being the real not-so-good draft night.
Also, if you don’t like trades, let’s hope you had plans on Thursday night because those things were popping up by the second and were harder to follow every step of the way. It felt like just about half the league engaged in some sort of deal and I expect even more on Day Two as immediate team needs begin to take priority over quantity of selections.