It was difficult this year to pick many outright draft losers. Many teams traded draft picks for wide receivers this offseason so there were quite a few teams without early picks. Don’t worry, there were still some head scratchers that could come back to bite some teams.
New England Patriots
If anyone but Bill Belichick was in charge of this draft it would get an automatic F…but because he’s running the show, everyone wonders if he knows something they do not. Cole Strange is a fine player but taking him in the first round was beyond baffling. They did a good job adding Devante Parker to get some WR help for Mac Jones and then they went ahead and drafted Tyquan Thornton in the 2nd round. Thornton has some tools and can take the top off of a defense, but this was way too early for me. They spent their next two picks trying to shore up the secondary which was fine…but their next three picks were quite strange to me. They drafted two running backs when they already have Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, JJ Taylor and James White on the roster. If they trade Harris or White then maybe it makes sense, but that is an awfully crowded running back room. They also drafted a quarterback in the 4th round, and while Bailey Zappe was a fine player, he hardly has the tools to be a future starter…oh and you have Mac Jones. Sure Zappe gives you depth but was that really the best use of a 4th round pick? I don’t think so.
Obviously not having a first round pick handcuffed the Bears from having a good draft, even before they started turning picks in. I think Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker were great picks and they will absolutely start on the Bears defense. The issues for me are the entire rest of the draft. The only weapon you went out and got for Justin Fields was a 65-year old Velus Jones (okay fine he’s 25) and a depth running back in Ebner. They took a stab at adding a bunch of offensive line depth, but I’m not sure any of them will be a future starter. Why not take a stab at another WR or two with only Darnell Mooney on the roster that is worthwhile? I really just do not see the Bears setting up their future stud QB for success here.
New Orleans Saints
With how much capital they traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, you knew there had to be a second trade coming to move even further up the board. And while WR was definitely a need, I was surprised to see them draft Chris Olave that early and not a quarterback. I personally did not care for any of the quarterbacks in this class, but if you’re going to trade that much capital, it better be for a QB. This is not the first time the Saints have done something like this (see Marcus Davenport), but it was still a strange move to see. I personally love Olave and think he is going to be a bonafide star…but then they used their second first round pick on Trevor Penning and their last pick before 161 on Alontae Taylor. Penning and Taylor are fine, but they’re hardly the slam dunks you want when you’re spending that much future capital to get players in a draft. Not to mention the fact that Drew Brees is gone and Tom Brady came back from retirement…this team is hardly a lock to make the playoffs and that future first round pick could be very early.
It’s not often you see the Steelers here and it may never happen again. After signing Trubisky, clearly they wanted to get their quarterback of the future. Obviously they know Kenny Pickett far better than I do with his proximity to their training facility, but I just do not see him as a future stud. He’s already 24 years old and he will have to be a total outlier in terms of hand size. I know hand size gets overblown, but it is not good that one QB since 2001 has had sustained success and Michael Vick was ridiculously dynamic in the run game.
I like George Pickens and Calvin Austin as players and they will replace Juju Smith-Schuster and James Washington right away. But spending pick 50 on your third WR is a strange move to make unless you’re not going to re-sign Diontae Johnson. If they’re going to let him walk and save the cap room, the draft pick makes far more sense. Leal is a potential future starter but he had a very up and down year last year and he is not without question marks. For a team that is in the middle of some roster turnover and lost their Hall of Fame quarterback to retirement, this was not the type of draft you wanted.
If Tyler Smith turns into a day one starter then this draft may turn out alright, but he is raw. Sam Williams is a pass rusher that cannot play against the run and while I like Tolbert and Ferguson, Ferguson will likely be a backup TE while Tolbert is not going to replace Amari Cooper. They paid Gallup a ton of money after he tore his ACL and I feel like Tolbert and Gallup have similar roles. If they have Ceedee take more snaps out of the slot, then this move will make more sense. I think Damone Clark has some potential, he most certainly has talent, but the fact he had spinal fusion surgery is a bit of an issue. This draft has some potential, but it has a lot of question marks…starting with Tyler Smith.
Any time you can pass on the best player in the draft when you’re picking at #1 overall, you’ve got to do it. Travon Walker has some fun tools and his ceiling may be higher than Hutchinson’s, but if this turns out to be a whiff, it is a fireable offense. I like the Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma picks, they’re good players, but they do not make any sense in terms of their roster. Maybe that’s a little harsh, but they threw a ton of money at Foyesade Oluokum so it was a bit strange to see them double dip at inside backer. Maybe the value was too much for them to pass up. They spent a ton of money at a multitude of positions in free agency but it still feels like they neglected the defensive line. Travis Jones at 70 instead of Muma probably takes this draft off of the losers page quite frankly.
Boom or Bust: Tennessee Titans
Trading AJ Brown for cap room and Treylon Burks certainly is a move. Burks fills a need at WR no doubt, but I’m not the biggest fan of his. If he pans out, the Titans will be laughing, but he is hardly a one-for-one replacement for AJ Brown. McCreary was a great pick and he will be a starter right away and Hassan Haskins will give the Titans some depth behind Derrick Henry. Nicholas Petit-Frere was thought of as potential high draft pick for quite some time but his play tailed off and he was absolutely abused by Michigan. Malik Willis was an interesting dart throw in the third round, I’m not a believer, but it’s better than taking him in the first or second round. I think Okonkwo will be their future starter at tight end and Kyle Philips will get looks early on. They did a good job drafting talent and this group has potential, there is no doubt about that. The question will be is will these players reach those theoretical ceilings? If they don’t, the Titans are going to be in trouble.
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