By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
The dust has just settled from the 2019 NFL Draft. Experts across all types of media platforms have given their grades and predictions of each team’s draft class.
It is always important, no matter how early, to remind fans about the pitfalls of jumping to conclusions on any of the draft selections, either positive or negative.
Basically, all the picks deemed poor value can easily turn those reviews upside down. Even the selections that seem the safest are no lock or guarantee. The situation a prospect goes into, as well as that player’s work ethic, are the primary determining factors for success.
Except for a few cases, it is a fair standard to evaluate a team’s draft class three years down the road. This method is the best way to grade a prospect or draft class, but that doesn’t mean evaluations now are meaningless or have no value. On the contrary, it is important to consider the potential impact a draft class can have.
Since most people do not have three years to wait to hear about their team’s newest players, we will take a look at some of the draft classes that stuck out. Now with draft day in the rearview mirror, teams will start up rookie mini camps and continue the offseason preparation for training camps opening in July.
If any team can stay primarily healthy all year, bring in the right free agents and select an impactful draft class, they’ll have a chance to make the playoffs. Here is a look at how some teams really helped themselves for this year after the 2019 NFL Draft.
- QB Dwayne Haskins (1st Round – #15)
- DE Montez Sweat (1st – #26)
- WR Terry McLaurin (3rd – #76)
- RB Bryce Love (4th – #112)
Washington came into the draft with a huge hole at quarterback, an offense in need of more playmakers and a solid defense lacking some younger stars. Getting arguably the top quarterback in the draft in Haskins and pass rusher Sweat in the first round was terrific luck.
Don’t sleep on Bryce Love; he would have been a first-round pick if not for an ACL tear. McLaurin is a speedster who can take the top off a defense. Washington looked like a team dead in the water in the NFC East, but Haskins and company may ignite a big time turnaround in the nation’s capital.
- C Garrett Bradbury (1st – #18)
- TE Irv Smith Jr. (2nd – #50)
- RB Alexander Mattison (3rd – #102)
- G Dru Samia (4th – #114)
Vikings fans should be happy with the draft the team had. They added interior linemen to an offensive line in desperate need of upgrades and some skill position help with Smith Jr., one of the top tight ends of the whole class, as well as a backup running back to Dalvin Cook.
The problem for the Vikings hasn’t been defense, even though the unit underachieved last season. It all comes back to the offense and how little explosiveness compared with all the talent they have. Expect this Vikings team to be back in a potentially big way this year.
New England Patriots
- WR N’Keal Harry (1st – #32)
- DB Joejuan Williams (2nd – #45)
- RB Damien Harris (3rd – #87)
- QB Jarrett Stidham (4th – #133)
Tom Brady is obviously the key player for the Patriots. When his golden arm rusts away, that’s when the Patriots might crumble. Yet again though, the team has added a lot of players with their seemingly infinite draft picks. N’Keal Harry was a great pick, he is instantly a rookie of the year candidate.
Listen to Ryan’s recap on the Bears picks and the draft overall (Anchor.fm)
They also added another talented running back in Harris, who fits perfectly in their system, and Bill Belichick took quarterback Jarrett Stidham to provide added insurance in case the worst happens to Brady. Expect the Patriots to again be one of the Super Bowl favorites. They look (on paper) as balanced as ever on offense with a solid defense.
Notable Draft Picks:
- LB Josh Allen (1st – #7)
- OL Jawaan Taylor (2nd – #35)
- TE Josh Oliver (3rd – #69)
Going from first to worst is very easy to do in the NFL if a team is not constantly improving. The Jaguars were in the AFC Championship in 2017 after years of misery, then came completely undone to fall right back into the top ten of the draft this year. Besides the drama they had off the field, which still needs correcting if a turnaround is coming, the team also had issues on the field. Jacksonville wants to get back to their philosophy of “smash mouth” defense with a dominant run game and contributions from the quarterback in timely moments.
Josh Allen was a steal and will instantly jolt the Jaguars’ dormant pass rush from a year ago. Blake Bortles got shipped out of town for Nick Foles. The Jags also added some offensive pieces at the skill positions and offensive line to help out Foles and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.
If this rookie class can make a strong impact, then the Jaguars may be poised for another deep playoff run.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR