The NFL Draft never fails to surprise football fans, and this year’s rendition was no different. Here are the biggest steals and surprises from the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Cleveland Browns select QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, with pick No. 1
At the end of the 2017 college football season, the popular belief as to who would be the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft was split between three players. Some thought the Browns should take Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, arguably the draft’s most talented player. Others thought USC quarterback Sam Darnold was Cleveland’s best chance at a franchise quarterback. The rest believed that Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen’s potential was worthy of the first overall pick. Mayfield was nowhere in that mix. Mayfield was often considered a mid-first round pick, landing with the Dolphins at No. 11, the Bills at No. 12, and the Cardinals at No. 15. Even after Mayfield live-streamed his phone call with the Browns on Instagram, it was still surprising to hear Roger Goodell call Mayfield’s name.
The Buffalo Bills select QB Josh Allen, Wyoming, with pick No. 7
Only time will tell which of these quarterback prospects was the best option, but for what the Bills need, Allen was a surprising pick. Let’s compare the Bills with the Cardinals. Both teams were quarterback needy, but the Cardinals have Sam Bradford under contract for two seasons. They could afford to give their rookie quarterback time to develop. The Bills got stuck with A.J. McCarron in free agency. They needed a plug-and-play quarterback. Of the quarterbacks in this draft, UCLA’s Josh Rosen is the most NFL-ready. His potential may not be as high as Allen’s, but Allen is going to be thrown into the starting job without development. Rosen was available at No. 7 and should have been the pick.
The San Francisco 49ers select OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame, with pick No. 9
The 49ers have large holes in the secondary even after adding Richard Sherman in free agency. Their linebacker positions are also quite ambitious considering the whole Reuben Foster situation. So, when the 49ers passed up on Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds with the ninth pick, it was definitely a surprise.
The New Orleans Saints select EDGE Marcus Davenport, UTSA, with pick No. 14
This trade was surprising for three reasons. For one, once the trade occurred, the assumption was that the Saints were going to take Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. So, the fact that Jackson’s name wasn’t called was a surprise. Secondly, Davenport wasn’t ranked much higher as a prospect than Boston College’s Harold Landry, who ended up being selected in the second round. The Saints could have stayed put at No. 27 and taken Landry. Third, they gave up next year’s first round pick in order to move into a position where they could take him. We’ll see how it pays out, but it’s surprising as of now.
The Oakland Raiders select OT Kolton Miller, UCLA, with pick No. 15
What I like to do during the draft is look at the opinions of the fans as the draft is going on. I navigate through fan pages on Reddit and Twitter and normally the fans of each team have their eyes one or two players. The Raiders fans were like none I have ever seen before. When they were finally put on the clock, they weren’t asking for a specific player. Rather, the overwhelming vote was “anyone but Kolton Miller.” As a Patriots fan, I was afraid he would be taken by my team, so seeing him go at No. 15 was a bit of a relief. Miller has the size and strength to play tackle in the NFL and that’s just about it.
The Dallas Cowboys select LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State, with pick No. 19
Wide receiver was at the top of the list for the Cowboys even before Dez Bryant was released. They are in desperate need of speed at the position, and with Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore available, it seemed to be a sure bet they’d get their speedster. Instead, they went with a linebacker. Not the versatile Rashaan Evans from Alabama either. The Cowboys took the eight-man football player who had one year of experience at Boise State.
The Seattle Seahawks select RB Rashaad Penny, San Diego State, with pick No. 27
The Seahawks didn’t have a single Day 2 pick at the start of the draft, so trading back to pick No. 27 was smart in order to acquire pick No. 76 from the Packers. With that being said, there’s a good chance they could have taken Penny with that 76th pick. Penny is a great runner with special teams abilities and he’ll likely have a great career in Seattle, but the Seahawks could have waited a bit longer.
The Pittsburgh Steelers select S Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech, with pick No. 28
Which was more surprising, the Steelers using their first round pick on a player projected to be a Day 3 selection or Ryan Shazier walking to the podium to announce it? This was the most memorable moment of the draft, but this was not a strong pick by Pittsburgh. First, they need a cover safety, not a tackling safety. Justin Reid would have been a better fit. Plus, if they did want a tackling safety, then Ronnie Harrison should have been the pick.
The Kansas City Chiefs select DE Breeland Speaks, Ole Miss, with pick No. 46
The defensive ends I had ranked above Speaks that were taken after him are Kemoko Turay, Chad Thomas, Sam Hubbard, Rasheem Green, Arden Key, Jalyn Holmes, Da’Shawn Hand, Dorance Armstrong, and Josh Sweat. That makes nine players. I thought the Chiefs would go with a safety like Justin Reid and then take Key in the third round, a player that reminds me of Justin Houston. Speaks was definitely a surprise.
The Denver Broncos select EDGE Bradley Chubb, N.C. State, with pick No. 5 (Steal)
This pick is a bit reminiscent of the 2015 NFL Draft when the Jets took Leonard Williams with pick No. 6. In both cases, it was shocking that a player of such caliber was not taken earlier. This year, the Giants, Jets, and Browns each had bigger needs at other positions, but Chubb appeared to be the type of player who should have been selected regardless of team needs. As NFL Network’s James Palmer reported, Von Miller called Chubb a combination of himself and Khalil Mack. He should have been taken by the Browns at No. 4 and the Broncos are lucky to have him.
The Miami Dolphins select DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama, with pick No. 11
If I were in the Dolphins war room, Fitzpatrick would have been on the top of my board. Fortunately, he was there when their pick came around at No. 11. They could have picked Vita Vea to replace Ndamukong Suh, but improving the secondary was the better choice in my mind.
The Buffalo Bills select LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech, with pick No. 16
I believed that Edmunds could have gone as high as pick No. 6 to the Colts. The Bills were somehow able to keep pick No. 22 after trading up for Josh Allen, and trading up again from that pick is as of now one of the smartest moves in the draft. Edmunds is a phenomenal off-the-ball linebacker with a great balance of run-stopping and pass-rushing ability.
The Los Angeles Chargers select S Derwin James, Florida State, with pick No. 17
I thought for sure the Buccaneers would pick James at No. 12. Then I thought there was no way the Redskins would pass on James at No. 13. I again thought that James was too talented for the Raiders to ignore at No. 15. Somehow he fell to the Chargers at No. 17, and he will have an immediate impact in a secondary that was already dangerous.
The Baltimore Ravens select QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville, with pick No. 32
Jackson was projected to be a top-15 pick and many teams were rumored to be trading up for him, including the Patriots who had two chances to take him. Not only did the Ravens steal their future quarterback, but they got him in the first round too, giving them a fifth-year option.
The Tennessee Titans select EDGE Harold Landry, Boston College, with pick No. 41
Landry falling to the second round itself was surprising. Some, myself included, ranked him as the second-best pass rusher in the draft behind only Chubb. Landry was an absolute steal at pick No. 41. The top two priorities for the Titans entering the draft were linebacker and edge rusher, and they addressed both right away. Mike Vrabel has to be happy with the way his defense is looking.
The Green Bay Packers select CB Josh Jackson, Iowa, with pick No. 45
The Packers were in desperate need of help at corner, and drafted arguably two of the best three corners in the draft. Jackson likely would have been the first round selection had Alexander been taken, but instead they ended up with two of the top players on their draft board. The ball-hawk was a surprise to be available in Day 2, let alone pick No. 45.
The Jacksonville Jaguars select S Ronnie Harrison, Alabama, with pick No. 93
The Jaguars had far and away the best first draft as a team. They took a dominant defensive tackle in the first round, the fastest wide receiver in the second round, and a punishing safety in the third round. Harrison has Kam Chancellor-esque tackling skills and has the swagger to join the Jacksonville secondary.
The Philadelphia Eagles select EDGE Josh Sweat, Florida State, with pick No. 130
As if the Eagles needed to be gifted yet another dominant pass rusher, Sweat fell to their hands in the fourth round. He has first round talent but injury hurt his draft stock.
The Detroit Lions select OL Tyrell Crosby, Oregon, with pick No. 153
Crosby is a Day 2 talent with the versatility to play guard or tackle. Crosby will likely be an immediate impact player at either right tackle or left guard for an offensive line that struggled mightily last season.
The Washington Redskins select DL Tim Settle, Virginia Tech, with pick No. 163
I saw Settle as a third round selection, and many thought he’d go as early as the second round. The Redskins took Da’Ron Payne in the first round to bolster their front line, and the addition of Settle as a late round pick stabilizes it even further.
The Seattle Seahawks select OT Jamarco Jones, Ohio State with pick No. 168
It seems like every year the Seahawks draft an offensive lineman who doesn’t know how to block. This year, they waited on an offensive lineman, but got one of the best. I projected Jones as a late-second round pick. Most saw him as a Day 2 prospect.
The Indianapolis Colts select WR Deon Cain, Clemson, with pick No. 185
Cain had a poor 2017 season which hurt his draft stock. If he played as well in 2017 as he did in 2016, he likely would have been a Day 2 selection. However, the very poor quarterback play at Clemson last season caused a decline in production. Cain was a steal in round six.
Jackson Haskins is an NFL writer for DYSTNow.com. Follow him on Twitter @JacksonHaskins1.