Round 1 of the NFL draft is in the books. A lot of middle round trades got the action going, but the big moment definitely came for the Chicago Bears and their fans, when they traded up to land my second favorite QB in the draft, Justin Fields. There were plenty of other high and low moments with some surprises and some things we all knew were coming. Let’s get right to it.
Winner: Jaylen Waddle
Waddle’s drip could be seen from space, as he set the high water mark in fashion last night. Let’s start with the stylishly differing lapels, to the smooth looking plaid, to the ultimate power move… replacing the tie/bow/bolo with a gold chain with his name on it. And sunglasses for NO reason. Now that is how you get the look. He also established who is the boss of his family.
And finally, he capped his night by getting to spend his next 5 years in Miami with his old college QB, instead of Cincinnati or Philadelphia, which is a bit of a step up from a baller lifestyle perspective (and probably a competitive perspective as well). BIG win.
Loser: Mac Jones
This is not going to be a popular opinion, and this one may come back to haunt me later, but I am saying it anyway. Mac Jones lost out in a big way. First, he didn’t go 3rd to the 49ers, he went 15th to the Patriots. That’s a big pay cut. Second, for all the love pundits have for the Patriots and Bill Belichick, that team isn’t as good as the 49ers are right now, so he is going to a worse situation. He isn’t going to have anywhere near as good a situation on offense in New England. In Alabama, he was throwing to two wide receivers taken in the top 10 of this draft. Now he is throwing to Nelson Agholor, K’neal Harry, Kendrick Bourne, and Jakobi Meyers (they did sign a couple good but not great tight ends). The Pats recently lost All-Pro guard Joe Thuney, and didn’t replace him. He is also following in the footsteps of legend Tom Brady, while looking like Tom Brady, and actively inviting comparisons to Tom Brady. While I think the Pats were lucky he fell to them (I actually don’t think he is bad at football) without having to give up draft capital, I think this is going to be a tough landing spot for Jones. This could easily be a situation that eats him up, and New England media won’t be gentle about it if that happens.
Winner: Bears Fans
This is an easy one. After straight up torturing their fan base this offseason with an array of terrible moves, they finally did something to reward their long-suffering fans by trading up to take the dynamic Justin Fields. I am not sure this is good news for Fields, as the Bears GM and coach seem to be actively bad, or the Bears franchise, as for the second time in 5 years they unloaded massive draft capital to take a QB (not to mention cutting their Pro-Bowl cornerback to sign a QB who will now be a back up), but the fans can at least enjoy a dynamic offensive player next year instead of watching human hot dog Andy Dalton get roasted repeatedly. The bar is so low for QB play in Bears’ fans’ minds, that this can’t help but feel good for them.
Loser: Joe Burrow’s personal safety
After making strong, overt promises to address the offensive line this offseason, the Bengals… mostly have not done that. They did sign one swing tackle from the Vikings, but with the opportunity to draft a generational tackle prospect in Penei Sewell, they took WR Ja’Marr Chase (who, incidentally will sell a lot more of those new jerseys). Chase is very talented, and it’s hard for me to call this a bad pick, but for a QB coming off the total destruction of his knee, they better find something quick to put in place, or this is going to be Carson Palmer all over again.
Winner: Numeric Synchronicity
How did I not realize someone named Trey would be taken third. I have a lot of regrets there.
Loser: The Raiders’ awareness
It’s bad enough that the Raiders constantly take players that everyone can see have a second round grade with their first round pick. The real sin, however, isn’t that they like these players they keep taking (they usually seem to end up playing as well as most people thought they would), it’s that they seem to be wholly unable to see how other people value these same players and adjusting to it. OK, so you like Alex Leatherwood. Great, trade back 10-15 spots and take him. They won’t though, because, you see, they are geniuses. They have spotted something no one else has, and they can’t afford to miss it. Like that time Jon Gruden saw the magic in Johnny Manziel.
I don’t know about you, but if I had this video on my resume, I would be a LOT more careful before taking a tackle at 17 no one else had in the top 30. If they were a Madden player, the awareness level would be 52 and you would see them glitching in circles while a running back blows by them. None of this ever stops the Raiders though, the team that thinks it has outsmarted everyone again on this year’s path to 8-8-1.
Winner: Me (and you, by proxy)
Speaking of my picks/regrets, my mock draft wasn’t too bad. I had most of the top 10 right. I lost out on the Mac Jones/Trey Lance coin toss at 3, and the Jaylen Waddle/Devonta Smith coin toss at 6, but acknowledged both players as possible selections there. After the top 10, trades and close calls made up the rest of my mock. For the most part, I had player valuations right. I missed badly on Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (I am shocked he is still available). Other than that, most of the guys went within a few picks of where I said they would, and most teams followed the plan I figured they would, highlighted by the Raiders picking a nonsense player, the Bears sacrificing future capital to win now, the Packers picking a no-name cornerback, and the WFT picking a fast/talented middle linebacker. Not bad for a first try.
Loser: The Giants
Divisional rivals the Eagles and Cowboys teamed up in the most shocking tag team takedown since Stone Cold and Triple H teamed up. With the 10th pick, the Cowboys didn’t need a wide receiver, but the Eagles certainly did. The problem was, the Giants were sandwiched right in the middle, fully expected by everyone (including me in my mock) to take whichever of the big name receiver fell to them. Out of nowhere, the mortal enemies set aside their differences, and executed a stunning trade to meet both of their needs. The Cowboys got some later round capital, and the Eagles got Allen Iverson clone Devonta Smith.
The Giants, meanwhile, got a full Montreal Screw Job, TRADED DOWN for the first time in Dave Gettleman’s entire life, and took a WR most had pegged for the second round at 20. Did they get a nice return from the Bears? Sure. Will they draft the right players with said return… there is nothing in their history that would indicate that.
Loser: Urban Meyer knowing how professional football works
Urban Meyer did fine taking Trevor Lawrence first (although it could be argued they need so much help, a slightly worse QB and a bunch of picks would have been more valuable to them), but the paws quickly came off with their second pick of the night. Despite finding an absolute miracle last year in undrafted free agent James Robinson, a three down running back who had a great year on a team that was otherwise atrocious for a pittance, he chose to draft a player HE has identified as a third down back in Travis Etienne in the late first round. In college, a player like Travis Etienne is a GREAT player to have. His speed and skill makes him dominant compared to his peers. He also isn’t paid any money, and you get to move on after 3-4 years to another Travis Etienne. The pros don’t work like that. If you draft a player in the first round, you would expect that player to play at a high level for 7-10 years. You also would expect that player to play most plays for their side of the ball, and you would expect that they will re-sign to a largish contract after their rookie deal. NONE of these things apply to Etienne. He is likely going to play 20 plays a game as a third down back (at least Najee Harris is a 3 down back). Running back is a position where most players are done after 4-6 years. Most second running back contracts are a disaster. Urban saw the skill, which is enormous in college. What he can’t see yet, is that running back value is COMPLETELY different in the pros versus college.
Loser: Kyle Pitts’ suit
WTH is this? He looks like the founder of John Deere at a board meeting, or like he was expecting to be part of the non-existent Aaron Rodgers trade. It’s hard to see on this, but he matched this with a LARGE black bow tie, despite going earth tones elsewhere. I also don’t really understand the Elbow patches or the stripe. It’s looks like he is part of a very professorial marching band. This is the low water mark for fashion, and it is so devoid of drip, it’s basically Death Valley.