Just like the game manager QB who’s likely to be picked in the late rounds of the draft, we try to know our limits and play within them. That means if you want in-depth analysis of how Nick Bosa fits into the 49ers defensive scheme, you’re probably in the wrong place. But if you want to kick back and reflect on some of the lighter moments of the night, then may we present to you that winners, losers, and surprises from the first round of the NFL Draft.
Winner: Groutfits Going Mainstream
The NFL Draft started with a bang from a fashion perspective. We kicked things off with Kyler Murray rocking the suit of a guy knowing he wouldn’t be waiting in the Green Room for long. Two picks later, Quinnen Williams went a different direction with a gray-on-gray-on-gray ensemble – otherwise known as a Groutfit. For too long, wearing a Groutfit has basically meant that you know you’re not leaving the house all day so you put on some all-gray sweats. Williams not only left the house – he took the Groutfit to center stage, in what could be the biggest moment of his life. So congratulations to all the Groutfit enthusiasts out there. Maybe this bold fashion choice will finally get the credit it deserves.
Loser: The Jon Gruden Experiment
Ten years is a long time. Half of the players picked in the top 10 of the 2009 NFL Draft are already out of the league (and that’s counting Mark Sanchez as still “in the league”). By the time Jon Gruden’s finishes his 10-year contract with the Raiders, it’s safe to assume that more than half of the players selected in his tenure will be gone as well. In year one, Gruden traded away his two best players in order to build up a war chest of draft picks. Then with the first pick of year two, he reaches for a player in order to fill one of the needs that he created by trading away Khalil Mack.
Lucky for poor Raiders fans, things seemed to improve as the draft went along. Sure, they probably could have waited and got a running back 95% as good as Josh Jacobs two or three rounds later, but at least they took the best player available at the position. Then, believe it or not, they did it again with Johnathan Abram. Yes, sadly that is the new standard for Jon Gruden decision-making.
Winner: Buffalo Tourism
Nothing against Buffalo, but if you told someone you were going to take them on vacation to some city in America and then you wound up in Buffalo, they probably wouldn’t be super fired up. That is, unless your travel companion is Ed Oliver:
Sure, maybe he was just excited to be drafted and realized the higher he got picked, the more he’d be getting paid. But we prefer to believe that Ed is just really excited about going to Buffalo. Maybe after growing up in Houston he just wants the chance to finally make a snowman. Maybe he’s heard good things about Buffalo wings and wants to give them a try. Whatever the reason is, it’s time to get down to Buffalo and see what all the hype is about!
Surprise: The Suits Keep Getting Better…
We swear this isn’t a fashion blog. But there are some outfits that you just can’t not mention. We thought Quinnen Williams’ aforementioned Groutfit was one of them. It turns out, we set our expectations too low. Now this is a suit that deserves special mention. We’re just not sure whether to praise or ridicule Devin Bush for wearing it…
Winner: Patience and Lessons Learned
This week there were rumors that the Redskins were exploring the option of trading up into the top 5 to get their quarterback of the future. To accomplish this, they would have had to forfeit at least their 2020 first round pick and probably more. For a team that surely is not one piece away from contention, that would’ve been a bad idea. But this is Dan Snyder we’re talking about, so all bets are off. And it’s not like he hasn’t done this before…
This time around, the Redskins waited patiently and watched as Dwayne Haskins fell to them at pick 15. Sure, it’s possible that they actually tried desperately to trade up and just couldn’t find a trade partner. But let’s give Mr. Snyder the benefit of the doubt and assume that he decided not to be fooled twice.
Loser: Clemson Bettors
Before the draft, the over-under for the number of Clemson players selected in the first round was 2.5. After Dexter Lawrence was picked with the 17th pick, the over already hit. So why are we calling people who bet on Clemson losers? Because it was too easy! Nothing is better than yelling at the TV during the 32nd pick, praying someone is taken, and then hearing Roger Goodell call that person’s name. That is what the sweat is all about! If we wanted to easily make money, we’d invest in some low-risk mutual funds.
But in all seriousness, congrats to all the Clemson supporters on the easy win…
Winner: Joe Flacco’s Tight End Addiction
Joe Flacco seems to enjoy throwing to tight ends. He somehow managed to get Dennis Pitta over 80 receptions one season. That doesn’t happen by some sort of fluke. That happens when a quarterback gets a euphoric rush whenever a ball is thrown his tight end’s way. Now that he’s in Denver, Flacco was staring down the possibility of having Jake Butt on two surgically repaired knees as his TE1. Nothing against Butt, but it feels safe to assume that Noah Fans will be a more reliable target. So cancel the rehab appointment Joe and let the good times roll!
As an aside, let’s give John Elway some credit for his deft maneuvering of the draft board. If he really liked Fant, he was probably tempted to just pull the trigger at pick 10. Instead, he took a deep breath, traded back with Pittsburgh, and picked up some extra draft capital in the process. Could it be that both John Elway and Dan Snyder have figured out how to run a team? Now if only Jon Gruden followed suit.
Loser: Aaron Rodgers
The Packers had two first round picks. In free agency, they mostly spent on the defensive side of the ball. Most mock drafts had the Packers selecting at least one pass-catcher in the first round. At the very least, they had an offensive lineman going to Green Bay to help protect Rodgers. Instead, in the real draft, the Packers continued to load up on defense. If you want to see how Rodgers responded to the news, look no further.
Winner: N’Keal Harry’s Fantasy Football Prospects
Yes, we know the Patriots’ recent history of drafting wide receivers is rather dreadful. But somehow this feels different. You know some team was calling Bill Belichick trying to trade up into the first round so they could get that elusive fifth-year option. And knowing Belichick, he probably thought really long and hard about moving back and adding to his ridiculous draft pick haul. But something stopped him from doing so, and that something is the opportunity to watch N’Keal Harry catch balls from Mr. Avocado Smoothie himself Tom Brady. So even though Belichick’s usage of offensive players not named Brady or Edelman is nearly impossible to predict, we’re going to boldly predict that big things are ahead for Harry. Which probably just means that we’ll be the true losers when all is said and done.
Surprise: No One Took the Bait
It is especially interesting that the Patriots chose to select Harry when you consider the other receivers still left on the board. One in particular stands out above the rest: D.K. Metcalf. When you’re a 6’4″ wide receiver who runs a 4.33 40-yard dash, jumps 40.5″, and looks like this, you get drafted in the first round. It’s as simple as that. That’s the way the NFL has always operated. Particularly when it comes to receivers, teams obsess over combine stats and freakish ability. And all it takes is one team to take the bait and pull the trigger in the first round. But this year, the first round came and went with D.K. still on the board. Maybe the NFL has finally learned its lesson. Guess we’ll have to wait until next year to see.