N.F.L. Draft 2019 Live Updates: Round 1 Pick-by-Pick Analysis

N.F.L. Draft 2019 Live Updates: Round 1 Pick-by-Pick Analysis

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The 2019 N.F.L. draft is underway in Nashville, with 254 picks spread out over three days. Day 1 will feature the first round (32 picks), and will undoubtedly change the fortunes of several franchises.

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Florida State
6-foot-5, 249 pounds

At a glance, Burns may seem like an N.B.A. player who has wandered onto a football field. Tall and lanky, he gracefully glides around less athletic tackles, taking inefficient but fairly pretty paths to the quarterback. Against college linemen that translated to 23 sacks over three seasons, but some skepticism about his ability to succeed without a dramatic change in diet and approach is warranted. A team that wants a project with huge upside could likely find myriad uses for his size and speed, but a team that just wants someone who will get to the quarterback early and often would be wise to look elsewhere.

How he fits: The Panthers passed up on Montez Sweat, the top edge rusher available, to draft the enormous potential of Burns. He’s a hard player to figure out, and Carolina will need to find creative ways to use him, but he’s such a physical freak that Coach Ron Rivera and his staff should have a lot of fun trying him out in myriad ways.

Ohio State
6-foot-3, 231 pounds

No Big Ten quarterback has been drafted in the first round since Kerry Collins in 1995, and no Ohio State quarterback has had that distinction since Art Schlichter in 1982, but Haskins didn’t play much like a Big Ten quarterback. He sat back in the pocket and picked apart defenses, leading the nation with 4,831 passing yards and 50 touchdowns in 2018. The left him third in the Heisman voting behind Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and set him up to be a close second behind Murray in terms of quarterback prospects in this draft. He is fairly statuesque in terms of mobility, and he only played 22 games in college, but his right arm is a cannon and he is not afraid to use it.

How he fits: The Redskins may all be in a room pinching themselves right now because there is no way Haskins, the top thrower in this year’s draft, should have fallen to Washington at No. 15. Predicted by many to go off the board at No. 6, and with the arm talent to be No. 1 most years, Haskins steps into a great situation where Case Keenum will be starting but can be moved aside easily once the rookie is ready.

Boston College
6-foot-4, 308 pounds

From a family of offensive linemen, Lindstrom is big enough to handle life in the pros but is far more athletic than a typical guard. One could quibble with his length, and he could stand to increase his overall strength, but he has experience as a tackle, adding some versatility, and everything at the scouting combine suggested that his tape is an accurate portrayal of a guard who will thrive any time he is asked to move into space.

How he fits: Did Atlanta need a guard? Well, every team can use a great guard. There are some players who may have been a better fit for the Falcons, like Jeffery Simmons at defensive tackle or Montez Sweat as an edge rusher, but Lindstrom is the kind of pick who carries almost no downside long-term.

Clemson
6-foot-3, 315 pounds

A quick player who rarely makes the wrong move, Wilkins is limited by his need to stick in the scheme he prefers, with another tackle taking up space to make up for Wilkins’s lack of length and overall strength. But in the right spot he can make an enormous impact, often making head’s-up plays to swat down passes — a skill you’d expect to see in a taller player with longer arms. Wilkins graduated college in just two and a half years and has the personality to be embraced by a fan base and locker room, but first he needs to prove he can play.

How he fits: Dwayne Haskins is in a bowling alley currently and he likely is very confused. The Dolphins, a team that badly need a long-term solution at quarterback passed up the best thrower in this draft, choosing to go with Wilkins, a terrific interior defender who is a worthy selection in the first half of the night but doesn’t fill nearly as big of a need as Haskins would have.

Michigan
6-foot-4, 277 pounds

Gary is enormous, fast (4.58 40), strong (26 bench press reps) and able to jump (38-inch vertical, 120-inch broad). He’s aggressive and disruptive and he seems like he should be dominant. But after three years of Gary simply trying to plow his way through the line — a strategy that resulted in just 9.5 total sacks — it is safe to say that his technique could use some refinement. The disparity between what it seems like he should do and what he has done created a fairly enormous rift in which some evaluators considered him a top-10 player while others had him in the late teens or early 20s.

How he fits: The Packers continue to avoid first-round skill players at all costs — the team hasn’t drafted one since Aaron Rodgers in 2005 — and go with Gary, a combine star who has never played as well as people have expected him to. Coach Matt LaFleur will be worried about installing a new offense, but Green Bay will have to find a way to coach Gary in a way that unlocks his enormous athletic potential.

Alabama
6-foot-4, 302 pounds

Is Williams a guard or a tackle? That’s a debate that could follow the Crimson Tide star for a while. He looked strong playing left tackle in 2018, and there is a lot about his game that is reminiscent of Joe Thomas, a player he has cited as a hero. But he’s small for the position and doesn’t have the extra-long arms that sometimes help a player overcome a lack of height. None of this is to say he won’t be successful. Once a team decides where to stick him, there’s little to indicate he won’t thrive. But the ambiguity will likely come into play as teams decide if he’s a fit for them.

How he fits: The Bengals desperately need a linebacker to replace Vontaze Burfict, but tackle was also a need and Williams’s ceiling is a top left tackle and his floor is a solid guard. There were some more exciting players on the board, but Williams was a safe and smart pick for a team that needs to figure out how to keep its quarterback healthy.

Michigan
5-foot-11, 234 pounds

Bush’s father — also named Devin Bush — played eight seasons in the N.F.L. as a defensive back and was a member of Coach Jim Harbaugh’s staff in Michigan, helping prepare his son for life as a professional. Some teams will snub their noses at the younger Bush for being smaller than a typical three-down linebacker, but with elite speed (4.43-second 40) and the ability to drop back into coverage with ease, he effectively adds a safety to a team’s front-seven.

How he fits: This pick originally belonged to Denver, a team that could have used Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, but the Broncos shipped the pick to the Steelers instead for a package that has yet to be revealed. Pittsburgh wanted to move up for a chance to beat everyone else to Bush, a player who brings a truly rare combination of skills to the middle of the field.

Houston
6-foot-2, 287 pounds

That many people know Oliver for his argument with Coach Major Applewhite on the sidelines of a game in November is a shame, as Oliver, who snubbed Alabama to play with his brother in Houston, showed a lot of skill in his 32 college games before a knee injury cut his junior year in half. Effectively playing tackle at his size is a rarity, so there is reason for skepticism that he can handle the rigors of the N.F.L., but if he can prove to be an Aaron Donald-like exception to the rule, the skill and intensity are definitely there.

How he fits: This was a very conventional pick in a good way. The Bills needed help on the interior of their defensive line and Oliver was the best tackle on the board. He has the big personality of a star and he should develop into one if Buffalo lets him play in the way that he thrives. Is he Aaron Donald? Maybe not. But he’s in that mold.

Iowa
6-foot-5, 251 pounds

Hockenson won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end of 2018 despite splitting time with another top prospect at his position, Noah Fant. Both players are hoping to follow in the footsteps of other successful Hawkeye tight ends like Dallas Clark and George Kittle, but Hockenson is the one most analysts agree has the most pro potential. At the combine he ran a 4.7 40-yard dash and showed off a 37.5-inch vertical leap. He has the ideal frame for a tight end. There is a lot of refinement necessary in his blocking, and he could stand to put on some overall muscle mass, but Hockenson should be ready to contribute as a receiver from day one.

How he fits: That didn’t take long. Hockenson had widely been expected to go at No. 7, but waiting until No. 8 isn’t so bad. He will now spend his days controlling the middle of the field for Matthew Stafford, giving Detroit’s big-armed quarterback the big weapon in the red zone that he has been missing since Calvin Johnson retired.

Kentucky
6-foot-5, 262 pounds

Allen shares a name with the quarterback Buffalo took with the seventh pick in last year’s draft, but he makes his living chasing quarterbacks rather than throwing passes. This Allen can outrun tackles but has the strength to eventually perfect powering through them as well. He could still use some refinement in terms of adjusting his attack when his first approach doesn’t work, but his 17 sacks and five forced fumbles in 2018 weren’t a fluke. He is not a natural fit as a coverage linebacker, and he may not contribute much outside of pass-rush, but he can add plenty of value to a team regardless.

How he fits: Everyone had assumed the Jaguars would go with T.J. Hockenson based on the terrific fit with Nick Foles, but no one thought Allen would fall this far. Allen fills a distinct need for the team and was by far the top player available on nearly every draft board. Taking advantage of other teams passing on Allen makes perfect sense, but it creates an interesting dilemma as to where Hockenson will end up.

Duke
6-foot-5, 221 pounds

His work with David Cutcliffe has Jones pro-ready in several ways, as his throwing mechanics are already in line with what teams look for, and there is little question that he can handle the mental aspects of the position. That being said, there is at least some concern that he simply doesn’t have the arm to be something special in the N.F.L. The league is littered with success stories of players told the same thing — Joe Montana and Tom Brady both fit that mold — but figuring out if Jones is an exception like them or simply a decent player who can game-manage his way into mild success is what will make or break this pick. He’ll need to get more aggressive in making his read and releasing the ball, and less aggressive in choosing to run, but until he actually gets on the field and is tested by an N.F.L. defense, he’ll likely be a polarizing selection.

How he fits: The Giants have Eli Manning’s successor, or at least they hope they do. Jones never stood out while he was at Duke, but his stock has been soaring over the last few months and he somehow leapfrogged Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. He doesn’t have Haskins’ arm, and he doesn’t have Kyler Murray’s secondary skills, but the Giants, who needed a graceful way to move on from the team’s two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, have placed an enormous bet on a player whom many had rated as the fourth-best quarterback in this draft.

Louisiana State
6 feet, 237 pounds

Since he was a star running back in high school, White has fashioned himself into a sideline-to-sideline defender, taking full advantage of his blazing speed (4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash) to earn the Dick Butkus Award in 2018 as college football’s best linebacker. His size is not ideal, and he is still raw enough at the position that he occasionally gets fooled by smart opponents, but the amount of growth he showed once he chose which side of the ball to focus on seems to indicate that he is eminently coachable. He can play his way onto the field immediately but will hit another level if he can increase his feel for the game while maintaining his advantage in athleticism.

How he fits: Tampa Bay had targeted White all along, as he fills the team’s biggest need at inside linebacker, but the Bucs likely sweated out the last few minutes trying to decide if they should take Josh Allen instead. Passing up the top player on the board couldn’t have been easy, but a player like White who can truly run a defense made a lot of sense and gives Coach Bruce Arians an anchor on that side of the ball.

Clemson
6-foot-4, 264 pounds

In an age of specialization, Ferrell is about as versatile as they come at defensive end. He can be effective against the run while also finding his way to the quarterback with relative ease, and there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t start right away. His ceiling is somewhat limited based on a lack of inside moves and conditioning issues that have seen him wear down as games go along, but his floor is very high.

How he fits: With the first of three first-round picks, the Raiders already showed themselves to be … the Raiders. Instead of picking Josh Allen, the edge rusher they seemingly need, they reached all the way down to Ferrell, an end who was ranked in the mid-20s on many boards. He should be good quickly, but there is little reason to believe he’ll be great. The Raiders have two more picks left to fill out their team, but this pick will have people talking for days.

Alabama
6-foot-3, 303 pounds

It seems like a day will come when every team has a dominant interior lineman out of Alabama. Williams may be the latest in a long line of players who fit that general description, but that shouldn’t take away from how effective he could be from day one provided a team plays to his strengths. Williams is a natural athlete who has repeatedly shown good instincts on the field, but the only real concern with him is that he may struggle to maintain the mass necessary to deal with double-teams. He will have to prove that he can either add weight or successfully use his speed and technique to make up for what amounts to a disadvantage.

How he fits: The Jets’ top need was an edge rusher, but they decided to go with an interior lineman instead. They ended up with a player who was at the top of some lists in terms of potential in this draft. Passing up on Josh Allen seems fairly surprising, as does the decision to not trade down in hopes of filling the team’s bare cupboards more quickly. The Jets must believe that Williams can put on the bulk necessary to dominate from the tackle position.

Ohio State
6-foot-4, 266 pounds

A remarkably strong player from head to toe, Bosa can generate interior power like a tackle while still possessing the skill and speed levels of an end. He comes from a football family, with his father, John, having played for Miami and his brother Joey currently starring for the Los Angeles Chargers. Nick, who had 17.5 sacks in limited action over three years, might have to compete with Joey to be the most accomplished Bosa, but to many talent evaluators he was head and shoulders above any other player in this draft class, even after he missed most of the 2018 season as a result of core muscle surgery. There was a mild hubbub about comments he made on Twitter, but the only thing that kept him from being the No. 1 pick was the perfect fit of Murray and Kingsbury.

How he fits: The 49ers already had a star defensive tackle in DeForest Buckner, and they added Dee Ford to bolster their line, but they needed at least one more edge rusher and Bosa is by far the best one available in this draft. There may be some blowback in the Bay Area based on Bosa’s social media posts in the past — especially the post that called Colin Kaepernick a “clown” — but from a purely football standpoint he couldn’t be a better fit. San Francisco will now have to figure out how to add a No. 1 wide receiver.

How he fits: The Cardinals undoubtedly are not in love with using the top pick on a quarterback a year after using the 10th overall pick on Josh Rosen, but the pairing of Murray with Coach Kliff Kingsbury is too perfect to pass up. Kingsbury will presumably install an Air Raid-style offense, and short of Mayfield or Patrick Mahomes, there are few quarterbacks in the world more suited to it than Murray. Arizona will have to sort out what to do with Josh Rosen, but the second-year quarterback out of U.C.L.A. should have some trade value for a team hoping he can build on his modest rookie season.

ORIGINAL SOURCE

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