The greatest week of the year has come and gone. With the NFL Draft in the rearview, I take a look back at my big mock draft and see what I got right and what I got wrong (Unnecessarily Boastful Spoiler: I did very well). That’s not all as I’ll give quick thoughts on nearly everything else that happened, including my favorite and least favorite picks, the Josh Rosen trade and other snippets that caught my eye. To top if off, I’ll be delivering the season’s final Weekly Awards, all of which will be named after a Marvel character a certain fantastic movie. This is the ‘Deep Route Football Notebook’ you won’t want to miss, especially with some personal news that I stuck in the end…
THINGS I KNOW
I know I got a lot right in my mock draft. Excuse me if I want to toot my own horn for just a little. I first made a documented mock draft in 2014 and have made one ever since, but it wasn’t until last year when I actually had a public platform to do it on. My mock draft last year got eight correct team-player pairings, and this year, I said it would be very different. I was kind of right. Last week, I correctly picked nine players to their correct teams, a new official record. (In 2015, I got eleven, but I don’t really count it.) Last year, I compared that number to 137 experts thanks to fantasypros.com and found I was tied for fourth with most correct picks. This year, I was tied for fifth. However, I did something different and used all the tools the site had to offer, not just how many players I correctly slotted to a team. FantasyPros releases official accuracy rankings every year with directions on how to calculate your own slot. It takes into account not only correct team-player pairings but also a player’s predicted draft spot, their rank among other positions and correct team-position matches. After spending more time than I anticipated using the site’s calculations, I can confirm that I would place 30th among the 138 experts with 152 points. That makes my mock more accurate than ones from notable guys like Peter King, Mel Kiper and Charles Casserly, among others. I couldn’t figure out where I would have placed last season but I assume it would have been lower. If you don’t feel like glossing over my mock draft again, here are other things I correctly predicted:
26/32 First-round players
- Teams for the top four quarterbacks
- Dolphins loving Christian Wilkins
- Steelers loving Devin Bush
- Ravens loving Marquise Brown
- Seahawks, Ravens, Colts trading down
- Eagles and Packers trading their pick
- Jachai Polite falling to the third round
- And my personal favorite: Here Lies the New York Giants Fanbase. Cause of Death: Over-drafting Daniel Jones.
I know there is a lot to unpack about the draft. There’s just so much to talk about. Therefore, I decided to give some short, quick thoughts on anything I liked about the NFL Draft:
I know there is still plenty to learn about players. To say a team won or lost a draft mere days after it occurred is foolish. Anything can happen. It’s usually understood in the NFL that it takes three seasons for a draft selection to be labeled as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Who knows, maybe Daniel Jones blossoms while Quinnen Williams falters, though I doubt it.
I know there was a massive disconnect between how the public perceived players and how the NFL perceived them. Seemingly more so than ever, countless players who were deemed as ‘early-round’ players fell while other players were selected higher than universally anticipated. A couple examples I like are fourth-round safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (projected first-second rounder) and second-round tight end Drew Sample (projected Day Three pick).
I know the NFL Draft has become a mega-event. It shut down the city of Nashville and has become a fanfare of epic proportions. How they counted that is beyond me, but it was reported that over 200,000 people attended the colossal outside event. Next year: Las Vegas. That shouldn’t be hectic at all…
I know Josh Allen and Ed Oliver are too talented to have been drafted so low. I know a top-ten pick isn’t necessarily ‘low’, but I personally believe that both defenders are among the top-five players in the draft. Jacksonville and Buffalo should be celebrating with these picks.
I know the Redskins had one of my favorite drafts. Again, anything can happen and this draft can bust. However, they filled enough holes with enough good players to convince me they’re going places. It’s always risky to bet on the Redskins to turn things around but I love the Dwayne Haskins pick. Kelvin Harmon in the sixth round could be a steal as well.
I know the Titans quietly had a good draft. Their first-round pick, defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, might not even play this year but he’s got top-ten talent. Wide receiver A.J. Brown is starter-caliber and safety Amani Hooker can get there, too.
I know the Eagles helped their team. Adding running back Miles Sanders (whom I love) and wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (a 6-3 power-forward-like player) further diversifies the offense. Carson Wentz should have a field day next season.
THINGS I DON’T KNOW
I don’t know a whole lot. That goes without saying for anyone. As I said last week, no one ever knows everything when it comes to predicting the future. An NFL mock draft is no exception. Like 99.9 percent of the world, I was shell-shocked to see Clelin Ferrell be the fourth player selected. Most people had him going closer to the Raiders‘ pick at 24. I wasn’t as surprised to see Daniel Jones land with the Giants, though I was surprised at when New York grabbed him. Most people expected Jones to be available at 17, the Giants’ second pick because Jones is viewed as not that great of a prospect. Amidst all the vitriol towards these two selections, you can’t blame the teams for ensuring they got their guys, even if almost everyone says those guys could have been available later. As I mentioned earlier, it’s one thing to prematurely assume a selection was bad. It’s another thing to assume that one or two opinions from ‘reliable sources’ is indeed true. I’m specifically talking about Dave Gettleman’s claim that he knew two teams would have selected Daniel Jones before 17 “for a fact”. It sounds blasphemous, and while don’t really buy it, it’s just as naive to immediately write it off as false. People lie during this time in the draft process. They try to cover up their mistakes and preach nothing but high praise for all their moves. Instead of looking negatively at a pick, being hopeful that it could turn out well is a much safer route to take.
I don’t know how Josh Rosen will play. The biggest move outside of the draft was arguably the Cardinals’ inevitable trade of Rosen. The Cardinals screwed up by waiting until the second round to trade Rosen; his value might have been higher a couple months ago. As for the Dolphins, Rosen still has enormous upside and the addition of the Saints’ second-round pick next year mitigates Rosen’s potential failure. Best case scenario: Rosen is the franchise quarterback. Another good scenario: Rosen blows and the Dolphins pick a top quarterback next year. Worst case scenario: Rosen is average and the Dolphins have to decide if gambling on Rosen another year is worth it. Let’s say the latter happens. Miami will still have a projected 13 picks, including two second-rounders and possibly a high first-rounder. If they decide to move on, they should have their pick of the litter with quarterbacks. If they keep Rosen, they’ll have ample draft capital and over $100 million in cap space to build the team around him. I was a big Rosen fan going into the draft last year and still think he can be a very good player. That is not a terrible situation at all. Remember when Jared Goff was labeled a bust after his first season? (Ironically, I’ve compared Rosen to Goff before.) On the other hand, the Dolphins arguably have a worse roster now than the Cardinals did last season. Why Dolphins fans have been so negative about this deal is understandable considering the franchise’s tortured past, but any form of optimism goes a long way. The front office will have plenty of chances to build a winning team within the next year, whether it’s with or without Rosen. That alone should instill enough confidence in the future of the franchise.
I don’t know why Tytus Howard and Kaleb McGary were first-round picks. Many shared my confusion when Howard and McGary’s names were announced Thursday night. Even if I did predict McGary to be a first rounder, it doesn’t mean I agree with it. They are largely viewed as developmental prospects and inferior to other tackles, like Jawaan Taylor and Cody Ford.
I don’t know how well Tom Brady slept after the first round. All three AFC East teams spent their first picks on very good defensive linemen. How did the Patriots respond? By spending their first first-round pick on a wide receiver since 1996. N’Keal Harry is a solid player, but New England wide receivers rarely make a consistent enough impact.
I don’t know why the Buccaneers didn’t draft a running back. At first, I had serious trouble recalling what running backs are even on the roster behind Peyton Barber. That’s when I remembered last year’s second-round pick, Ronald Jones. Maybe a coaching change will do him wonders, but a little more insurance via the draft couldn’t have hurt. (Side note: This roster is not good. #TankForTua?)
I don’t know if the Cardinals drafted too many wide receivers. Looking at the Cardinals’ roster and three diverse wide receivers the drafted, I actually really like the team’s make-up, though it will all depend on the success of Kyler Murray. I just think the team could have bypassed a third wide receiver and shot for some more offensive line help, even if I am a big advocate for never having ‘enough receivers’.
I don’t know how the Ravens plan on using their wide receivers. I love the Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin additions from a talent standpoint, but this is undoubtedly a run-focused team. Unless they’re banking on improved passing from Lamar Jackson, I can’t see these guys making much of an impact in the stat sheet yet.
I don’t know if Miles Sanders is in the best position. As I said earlier, the Eagles should flourish with a revamped offense, including an epic new combo of Sanders and Jordan Howard. Unfortunately for Sanders, that likely means his role will be largely one-dimensional. He’s a talented player who could have easily been a true every-down back had he been drafted by another team.
TRIVIA OF THE WEEK
Which year holds the record for most trades during the NFL Draft?
Check out the ‘Awards’ section for the answer.
Captain America Award: Saquon Barkley
Ironically, I already did an article comparing Marvel heroes to NFL players, but that was before I saw Avengers: Endgame. To cope with the movie event of the year, all the awards today will be Marvel-themed. Let’s start with the former Rookie of the Year, whose incredible act of kindness is reminiscent of a certain other person to don the red, white and blue.
Hulk Award: Christian McCaffrey
There’s an image circulating the Internet right now of McCaffrey doing workouts and the guy looks ripped. Bruce Banner off the field, Hulk on it. Enough said.
Thor Award: Christian Wilkins
He may be one of the bigger guys out there, but did you see the air Wilkins got when he greeted Commissioner Roger Goodell? Seriously, Wilkins may be 315 pounds, but that dude can fly.
Nebula Award: Drew Sample’s Jersey
Both have one big thing in common: Someone used outside parts to complete them. Just look at this pic tweeted from the Bengals’ newest tight end. The ‘9’ is actually a ‘6’ sewn on upside down. As if this second-round selection by Cincinnati wasn’t criticized enough, there is now an image to go with the term, “I Have No Idea What I’m Doing.”
Trivia Answer: This Year
Question: Which year holds the record for most trades during the NFL Draft?
This year, there were 39 trades made during the draft. The previous record was 38, held by 2017 and 2018. Two of my favorite tidbits about trades this year include the Patriots and the Seahawks. New England went into Thursday night with 12 picks (tied for the most) and finished with then. They actually traded all but their first and their last pick in the draft. As for Seattle, they turned four draft picks into eleven thanks to some crafty wheeling-and-dealing. I told you the trade-winds were swirling…
ONE LAST THING
To say the NFL Draft is my favorite sports day of the year would be an understatement. It’s easily my favorite sporting event where no actual sports are played. I incorporated the draft into each of my weekly ‘DRFN’ columns until the season ended when I switched to full-on draft mode. It’s been a long but fun process as I hoped to deliver you all the latest news and information about teams and players. Due to a hectic summer ahead of me, this will be the last article I write until August. Until then, feel free to revisit anything I wrote this past year. I’ll get you started with my favorite ones:
NFL Players as Marvel Superheroes (April 23rd)
Thank You, Dwayne Wade (April 11th)
DRFN: Free Agency, Brown and Beckham, Tight Ends (March 15th)
NFL: The State of the League (February 15th)
Deep Route Football Notebook: Awards (February 1st)
2018 Ultimate Fantasy Notebook (August 29th)
NFL 2028: A glimpse into the future (August 9th, 2018)
The Deep Route Football Notebook features recaps and thoughts about the recent action in the NFL, along with weekly awards, draft spotlights, fantasy updates, and more. Unless stated otherwise, all stats are accumulated using Pro Football Reference, ESPN or 4for4.com.
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