It was an unusual first night of the NFL Draft. Instead of witnessing all the fanfare and pageantry from some grand venue, we got glimpses into the home decor choices of the NFL Commissioner and various GMs and head coaches.
That aside, there were some interesting draft choices too. Here is a recap:
18. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): Austin Jackson, T (USC)
19. Las Vegas Raiders: Damon Arnette, CB (Ohio State)
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: K’Lavon Chaisson, DE (LSU)
22. Minnesota: Justin Jefferson, WR (LSU)
23. Los Angeles Chargers (from New England): Kenneth Murray, LB (Oklahoma)
25. San Francisco 49ers (from Minnesota): Brandon Aiyuk, WR (Arizona State)
30. Miami Dolphins (from Green Bay): Noah Igbinoghene, CB (Auburn)
Not Many Surprises Early On...
The first ten picks or so went largely as expected. The Giants taking Thomas instead of Wirfs or Wills was a bit of a surprise, as was the Cardinals taking Simmons instead of a tackle, but other than that, pretty much as expected.
And despite rumblings of big trades in the offing the last couple days, no trades were made in the first dozen picks. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. The Dolphins were considering a move to acquire a tackle early, which would’ve been Andrew Thomas, but that didn’t happen. The Falcons wanted to trade up for C.J. Henderson, but either teams were set on their guy, or in the case of Carolina wouldn’t trade within their division. The Jags wanted Henderson too, so were unwilling to trade.
The Raiders also wanted to move down from 12, but couldn’t find a partner.
... But Some Later in the Round
The first trade didn’t happen until pick 13, when, dramatic pause, the Buccaneers traded up one spot with the 49ers to secure a left tackle for Tom Brady.
After that, a series of mild surprises, as the 49ers took Kinlaw and not a WR, which led to CeeDee Lamb dropping to the Cowboys who, rather than take a defensive player as many expected, couldn’t pass on taking Lamb. The Cowboys decided on Lamb over K’Lavon Chaisson. Lamb’s drop also led the Eagles to try to trade up with the Falcons to get him, but Eagles’ GM Howie Roseman couldn’t swing the deal and Lamb fell to a division rival.
Miami taking Austin Jackson that high, and ahead of Josh Jones, was a bit of a surprise, as was the Raiders going with Damon Arnette and not Kristian Fulton or Jeff Gladney. The Eagles added to the list of mild surprises by taking WR Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson.
Apparently the Vikings wanted Jefferson, and were fearful the Eagles may take him, and tried to trade up to get him, but couldn’t reach a deal. But, with the Eagles taking Reagor, it worked out anyway. Gary Kubiak really liked Jefferson, said he was already versed in the Vikings scheme, which should help with his learning curve. I’ll do a separate piece on the Vikings picks later on.
But with Jordan Love on the board at 22, lots of speculation that anyone from the Colts, Saints or even the Patriots may trade up with the Vikings to secure his services. But no deal. Instead, the Patriots, who were thought to be interested in Love, traded out of their pick. The Chargers moved up to get Murray ahead of the Saints, who also had a need at linebacker.
The Saints then made a somewhat surprising pick, going for C/G Cesar Ruiz after having picked a center last year that played well, and having just extended G Andrus Peat. But, the Saints other guard Larry Warford is on the last year of his deal, and is a $13MM cap hit, so it would appear Ruiz will eventually replace him.
The Vikings were then back on the clock, and traded back to 31 with the 49ers, securing a 4th and 5th round pick for their trouble. The 49ers then took a WR - Aiyuk - and have only three Day 3 picks remaining.
Then came another somewhat surprising move. The Packers moved up in a trade with the Dolphins, costing them a 4th round pick, to draft QB Jordan Love. Of course this move draws parallels to the 2005 draft, when the Packers drafted Rodgers, but there are notable differences. For starters, Rodgers just signed a big extension last year, which makes trading or releasing him prohibitive for at least the next two, and probably three years. That means barring injury, Love will be riding the pine most of his rookie contract, just as Rodgers did. But in Rodgers’ case, Favre had been waffling about retirement so having a QB in place was more urgent. Rodgers has said he wants to play into his 40s. Secondly, Rodgers was a potential #1 pick, while Love was seen as the #4 QB in this year’s draft class. Lastly, the Packers were not as depleted in offensive weapons in 2005 as the Packers are now, and spending two picks on a QBOTF beginning in 2022 at the earliest seems a little too far-sighted.
The Seahawks then made a surprising pick, Jordyn Brooks, who didn’t have a first round grade, when Patrick Queen was still on the board. The other surprise was that they didn’t trade down, which they had done consistently over the years.
Skipping to the Vikings second pick of Jeff Gladney at 31, Rick Spielman said there were a few players on their board they could pick at 25, and apparently Gladney was at the top of that list. But with enough alternates available, they felt okay trading down and getting more draft capital for Day 2 and 3. And they still got Gladney, who was their top choice.
What’s in Store for Day Two
With twelve picks still remaining, the Vikings have perhaps the most remaining draft capital of any team in the league heading into this evening. In an interview last night, Spielman seemed pretty clear that he would use that draft capital to trade up this evening, as he said there was some good depth at the top of the 2nd and 3rd rounds. We’ll see what happens - still need to find a team willing to trade down. The Saints are also looking to trade up tonight, but without much draft capital this year, they’ll have to dip into next year’s draft picks, which may not be as enticing compared to the draft picks the Vikings could offer them today or tomorrow. There may be other teams wanting to trade up as well.
The other thing is in regards to a potential trade for Trent Williams. The Vikings were one suitor for a Williams trade with the Redskins, with the other possibilities being the Browns, Jets, and Buccaneers. All of those teams took tackles last night, and are presumably no longer interested in trading for Williams. Only the Vikings remain, unless some other team comes out of the woodwork, but that doesn’t seem likely. The Vikings have the ability to offer the Redskins Reiff and a Day 3 pick, while any other team would have to offer a much higher pick, which is increasingly doubtful.
So, it would seem the Redskins would have to take a deal with the Vikings, or miss any draft pick compensation for Williams this year. If he doesn’t play again this year and signs a deal next year, the Redskins could potentially get compensatory pick in 2022, which is not worth much in today’s draft currency.
Below is an updated verision of Jimmy Johnson’s draft value chart, including the results of yesterday’s trades.
The Vikings still have needs in the defensive secondary, and also defensive line, that could be addressed tonight. Another WR is not out of the question either. The Vikings have three picks, at the moment, but anything is possible with the draft capital the Vikings have at their disposal.
How Did Rick Spielman Do on Day One of the Draft?
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Better than most GMs
Worse than most GMs
Worse than the Packers GM