Welcome to the final installment of our 2019 NFL draft analysis series. We are wrapping up with the NFC West. If you haven’t checked out all the previous action, make sure to get caught up with all the divisions.
1st pick (1st overall) – QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
I’ve had a lot of time to think about this, clearly, and I’m still torn. I really liked Josh Rosen as a prospect, but I have to admit Murray, as a prospect, is superior. However, there is an opportunity cost Arizona is throwing away by not choosing to build around Rosen. Had they selected Bosa or traded this pick, they would have pushed the roster further forward in the short-term.
However, this is probably the right decision. It will push the roster further forward in the long-term should Murray end up the superior pro quarterback between him and Rosen. I do have to commend the Cardinals for this maneuver as well. Quarterback is so disproportionately the most important position in football, and they identified an opportunity to upgrade at the position and took the chance, when most teams would have said to themselves, “hey, we got our guy last year, we have to see what he becomes, so let’s build around him.”
I ultimately believe this comes down to a right decision vs. not-the-wrong decision scenario. Drafting Bosa or trading the pick to build around Rosen would not have been the wrong decision. However, taking Murray was the right decision.
As for who is a better fit in Kingsbury’s offense, I don’t buy that it really matters.
1st pick (33rd overall) – CB Byron Murphy, Washington
I’ve previously stated in these articles that it’s not that this corner class lacked for talent, it’s that the corners were scheme dependent. Byron Murphy is a phenomenal corner prospect for a zone scheme. Had he been drafted to play in man coverage, it’s easy to see him being unsuccessful in such a situation.
However, Arizona is running a zone scheme. Therefore, this is a fantastic pick. I would have had no problem with Murphy going in the first half of round one, and the Cardinals are getting him here atop of round two. Additionally, Murphy plays one of the four premium positions, so in every way this is a major steal.
So far, Arizona has twice sat where they were and taken the top rated player on their board. It’s a good draft strategy to say the least.
30th pick (62nd overall) – WR Andy Isabella, UMass
It’s fair to criticize how the Cardinals handled the Rosen trade. Apparently the team had not engaged in any trade talks prior to the draft. Additionally, once New York and Washington drafted a quarterback in the first round, the Rosen market dried up to only Miami. At that point, the Dolphins realized they held all of the leverage, and refused to send their original second round pick (48th overall).
It is also fair to wonder if Arizona could have held out into training camp and ended up with a better pick. The Vikings ended up surrendering a first round pick for Sam Bradford due to Teddy Bridgewater getting injured during camp. This isn’t an exact parallel, as Bradford had a track record of competent play prior to his trade, where as Rosen only has the one disastrous season on his resume.
Clearly, I don’t buy the concept that future picks are worth less since I do the math all the same when calculating the draft capital profits. However, I do believe there is a present value boost in this scenario, as Andy Isabella can help Murray’s life immediately. It’s also possible Arizona could have held out for a better deal and lost that gamble.
As stated above, Isabella can help Murray with his NFL transition in 2019. There is value in that. And while the process of ending up with the 62nd pick wasn’t the best, at least the Cardinals ended up with a good outcome. Isabella is a steal here, as he easily could have gone late in round one. Isabella is being typecast as a slot receiver, but he has the ability to line up outside as well. Kingsbury figures to be able to create ways to get Isabella the ball in space.
This is now 3/3 of Arizona taking the highest rated player on their board once it is time for them to pick. They’re nailing this.
1st pick (65th overall) – Edge Zach Allen, Boston College
Make that 4/4. I do not believe Allen was the best player available at this juncture, but it appears Arizona did. They’re sitting at every pick and taking the best guy. As a result, they’re leaving the first three rounds with what looks like four immediate starters, one of which is a quarterback. You cannot do better than that through the first two days of the draft.
In regards to Allen himself, I think he ended up being very undervalued. I think he was a fringe first round candidate, but should have come off the board in the top 40 picks. So once again, the Cardinals are getting a major steal. Allen was consistently better against the run throughout his career until 2018, when he take a leap as a pass rusher. The sack totals don’t show it but he increased his quarterback hits and total hurries.
1st pick (103rd overall) – WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa State
5/5 on sitting there and taking the best guy on their board. Most people would have pegged Butler to come off the board during the second round, with his worst case scenario the middle of the third. To everyone’s surprise, he lasted until day three.
I am much lower on Butler than most. If you have questions regarding your separation to go along with unreliable hands as a receiver, that’s a concerning combination. With that said, Butler remains a good value here. Additionally, he has the size to box out defenders to help move the chains. However, he isn’t limited to the role of big possession receiver. Butler led the class in both deep receptions and deep passing yards, making him a very real vertical threat.
The Cardinals now have Christian Kirk, Isabella, and Butler in the receiver pipeline behind Larry Fitzgerald. They’re crushing this.
1st pick (139th overall) – S Deionte Thompson, Alabama
6/6. Thompson was once thought of as a first round prospect, though the hype always exceeded the play on the field. Still, seeing Thompson fall this far was unexpected. Arizona is getting an athletic center fielder with the requisite ball skills for the position. He needs to be coached up, but there are a lot of tools to work with here for a fifth rounder.
1st pick (174th overall) – WR Keesean Johnson, Fresno State
6th pick (179th overall) – C Lamont Gaillard, Georgia
The only downside to Arizona repeatedly taking the top player on their board is it took until the sixth round to draft an offensive lineman.
34th pick (248th overall) – OT Joshua Miles, Morgan State
35th pick (249th overall) – DT Michael Dogbe, Temple
40th pick (254th overall) – TE Caleb Wilson, UCLA
It’s kind of a funny quirk the Cardinals picked both first and last. Wilson is a fantastic flier here as Mr. Irrelevant. Wilson’s talent far exceeds this selection, and he was very productive in his final season at UCLA. He led the tight end position in 2018 in receptions per game, yards per game, and total receiving yards.
The Cardinals crushed the draft. They took the opportunity to upgrade at quarterback, and continuously sat at their picks and selected the best player on their board. It also worked out that they kept getting value after value. Murphy, Isabella, Allen, Butler, and Thompson are all huge steals.
The only two caveats are how they handed the Rosen trade and neglecting the offensive line. You could say the Rosen trade was asset management and not actually the draft. However, neglecting to really address the offensive line will have ramifications in 2019. The reasoning is understandable at least, as one cannot hate on the draft strategy of taking the top player on your board at every pick.
Los Angeles Rams
29th pick (61st overall) – S Taylor Rapp, Washington
The Rams came in short on draft picks, so unsurprisingly they continuously traded down during the draft. In order to select at 61, Los Angeles traded down three times before ever making a selection. Their first trade saw them send 31 and 203 to Atlanta for 45 and 79. The Rams profited 3.7 points worth of draft capital in that trade, the equivalent of the 128th pick.
Next, Los Angeles sent 45 to New England for picks 56 and 101. The Rams profited a similar margin as their initial trade, as they won the swap of picks by 3.8 points worth of draft capital, or effectively the 126th pick. Finally, Kansas City moved up from 61 to 56 and sent the Rams pick 167 for their trouble.
After all that, Los Angeles’ first pick of the draft is Taylor Rapp. With Lamarcus Joyner leaving for the Raiders, it’s no surprise the Rams prioritized the safety position. Rapp is good value here, as he was previously thought of as a first round. His plunge to the end of the second is most likely a result of his poor 40 at his pro-day. Aside from that one test, Rapp is an intelligent player that has showed well in coverage on the field. His 6.82 3-cone and 3.99 short shuttle also suggest his is a fluid enough athlete to hand his coverage responsibilities.
6th pick (70th overall) – RB Darrell Henderson, Memphis
In a curious move, the Rams aggressively moved up the draft board in a trade with the Bucs. Los Angeles sent picks 94 and 99 to Tampa Bay for pick 70. A strange maneuver for a team low on draft picks. The move cost the Rams 3.5 points worth of draft capital.
This pick makes no sense to me. I was higher on Henderson than most in this draft, but I cannot rationalize the team with Todd Gurley, while being short on draft capital, cashing in two third round picks for one third round pick in order to take a back-up running back. Yes, Gurley was clearly limited at the end of last year, and perhaps the plan is to lower his usage during the regular season in 2019. However, if *any* team should know they can literally take someone in off the streets to effectively substitute in for Gurley, it should be the Rams.
Henderson himself is one of the most elusive running backs in this class, and a big play waiting to happen. He is a threat as a receiver as well.
16th pick (79th overall) – CB David Long, Michigan
Acquired in the initial trade down with the Falcons, the Rams end up with a steal at this pick. Long is a sticky man slot corner and an absolute home run in the middle of the third round. With both Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters set to hit unrestricted free agency in 2020, it is no surprise Los Angeles wants a young corner in their pipeline. Long had an impressive combine, but nothing was more impressive than his outlandish 6.45 3-cone.
33rd pick (97th overall) – OT Bobby Evans, Oklahoma
Evans is an interesting prospect that fits the range. 2019 may easily be Andrew Whitworth’s last season, and the Rams have now used a third round pick in back to back drafts to try and find his replacement.
32nd pick (134th overall) – DT Greg Gaines, Washington
Good value here as Gaines could have gone a bit higher. Gaines was an elite run defender during his time at Washington and is the perfect example as to why you don’t take run stuffing defensive tackles in the first round. He did add some more pass rush ability to his resume in 2018, so this pick also comes with upside.
31st pick (169th overall) – OT David Edwards, Wisconsin
It’s no surprise the Rams are throwing another dart at the offensive tackle position on day three.
29th pick (243rd overall) – S Nick Scott, Penn State
37th pick (251st overall) – LB Dakota Allen, Texas Tech
The Rams did well to move down multiple times in order to recoup picks they had sent out in trades. However, moving back up in the third round to take a back-up running back is inexcusable. Other than Henderson, all of their picks and trades were either sound or great values.
29th pick (29th overall) – Edge L.J. Collier, TCU
This pick was acquired in the Frank Clark trade. Collier should not have come off the board prior to other edge defenders that were available at this juncture. For instance, both the Cardinals and Patriots got superior players in the third round. Collier also shouldn’t have gone in the first.
The Seahawks, however, clearly have a type when it comes to edge defenders. They want a big body capable of shrinking inside on obvious passing downs. Seattle tends to target the uber athletes in the draft, so Collier and this edge model run a little counter to that.
15th pick (47th overall) – S Marquise Blair, Utah
After a slew of trades, Seattle finally drafted here at 37. First, Seattle sent pick 21 to Green Bay for picks 30, 114, and 118. The Seahawks profited 6.3 points worth of draft capital in that trade, the equivalent of the 85th pick of the draft. Next, Seattle ripped off Dave Gettleman, shipping the 30th pick to New York for picks 37, 132, and 142. The Seahawks profited 5.9 points worth of draft capital in that trade. And finally, Carolina sent picks 47 and 77 for pick 37, resulting in Seattle profiting 5.4 points worth of draft capital, the equivalent of the 98th pick of the draft.
In total, John Schneider and Pete Carroll built up an extra 18 points worth of draft capital. In other words, the trade down obsessed duo created the 14th pick of the draft out of thin air.
Here is your athlete. This is a reach by a round or two, but that has never stopped Seattle before. It is not hard to see why the team liked Blair so much when you consider he is going to fill the Earl Thomas role in this defense. Blair has the range to be a single high safety and sprints around without a care in the world.
32nd pick (64th overall) – WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
Knowing not all of their rookies were going to make the final roster, Seattle cashed in some of their surplus picks to move up for Metcalf. The Seahawks sent the Patriots picks 77 and 118 in order to move up 13 spots and into the end of round two. Seattle lost 3 points worth of draft capital in the trade.
Here is your uber athlete. After the combine everyone put Metcalf into the top 10. I personally mocked him to Buffalo at 9 every time I published a mock draft. His stock slowly fell over time, but he was still expected to go in round one.
Well, he didn’t, and Seattle ends up with a major potential steal. It is also fair to assume the Seahawks will play Metcalf to his strengths, which is a vertical threat. Russell Wilson is one of the best deep ball throwers in the NFL, so this is a potential match made in heaven.
24th pick (88th overall) – LB Cody Barton, Utah
Seattle was so eager to move up for Barton they sent picks 92 and 159 to Minnesota for picks 88 and 209. Moving up four spots in the third round to move back 50 spots later in the draft is terrible.
And to make matters worse this is another major reach on a good athlete. Barton should have gone in the middle of day three. However, at the combine he posted a 4.64 40 with a 1.61 10-yard split, to go along with a 6.90 3-cone at 237 pounds.
On the bright side, however, Barton did show well in coverage during his final season in Utah.
18th pick (120th overall) – WR Gary Jennings Jr., West Virginia
Another trade struck with the Vikings. This time Minnesota made the small move up, as they sent picks 120 and 204 to Seattle for pick 114.
The receiver with a 4.42 40, 1.55 10-yard split, and 6.95 3-cone ended up on the Seahawks. Color me surprised.
Jennings has good size and was one of the best deep threats in college football last season. He also ranked 7th in the class in receiving yards out of the slot.
22nd pick (124th overall) – OG Phil Haynes, Wake Forest
Do you really need me to explain the Seahawks taking an offensive lineman to you? Haynes is a reach here, but at this point you can’t expect Seattle to ever draft someone that fits the range.
30th pick (132nd overall) – S Ugochukwu Amadi, Oregon
When I say Seattle, you say reach: Seattle! Reach! Seattle! Reach!
This is a round too high. You can tell why the Seahawks liked him though. He is a safety-corner hybrid that can be utilized in nickel packages. He is tough and smart with some solid length.
4th pick (142nd overall) – LB Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington
They did it you guys! They made a value pick! Burr-Kirven was one of the best coverage linebackers in this draft, and while he is scheme dependent, I trust Seattle’s coaching to put him in a position to utilize his strengths.
31st pick (204th overall) – RB Travis Homer, Miami
I really thought Homer should go higher than this. Another value pick for the Seahawks.
36th pick (209th overall) – DT Demarcus Christmas, Florida State
22nd pick (236th overall) – WR John Ursua, Hawaii
The Seahawks continuously reached for guys, but did end up with some values in Metcalf and then later on day three. They were able to enter the draft exceedingly short on draft capital, and leave having made 11 picks. They constantly traded down with two exceptions. I actually liked their idea of consolidating picks to move up more than swapping picks to move up four spots to drop 50 spots later. Not all these picks can make the roster, so consolidation makes sense. The team did a good job to build up so many selections, but they kept taking players too high.
San Francisco 49ers
2nd pick (2nd overall) – Edge Nick Bosa, Ohio State
There really isn’t much to say about this. Bosa was the best player in this draft, and he plays a premium position. We don’t know what trade offers were made for this pick, but since they took Bosa over Quinnen Williams, it’s not worth going down that rabbit whole.
Yes, taking Bosa over Williams was the correct decision. Bosa plays the more important position, and will end up providing greater on field impact and surplus value during the course of his rookie deal.
4th pick (36th overall) – WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
A really good pick here. Samuel is dynamic with the ball in his hands, and his skillset fits what Kyle Shanahan figures to ask him to do. Samuel is the third receiver to be taken over A.J. Brown, which is weird to me. Regardless, this is a good selection.
3rd pick (67th overall) – WR Jalen Hurd, Baylor
Doubling down at receiver (or any position) is a good strategy. Taking Hurd at the top of round three is not, however. The former running back simply hasn’t shown enough during his time at receiver to warrant such a high selection. There were multiple receivers available superior to Hurd, including Hakeem Butler, who the division rival Cardinals got a round later.
8th pick (110th overall) – P Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah
The 9ers put no time and effort into thinking through this selection, so I will be putting no time in effort into analyzing it, other than to say this is horrendous.
10th pick (148th overall) – LB Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas
The 9ers just cannot stop reaching. Greenlaw was a seventh round prospect at best and here we are at the top of the fifth.
3rd pick (176th overall) – TE Kaden Smith, Stanford
San Francisco makes up for some of the reaches here, as Smith should have gone in the fourth. Smith is a versatile receiver. He ranked 1st and 3rd in deep receptions and deep yards, respectively, among tight ends in this class, as well as 1st and 2nd in slot receptions and slot receiving yards, respectively.
10th pick (183rd overall) – OT Justin Skule, Vanderbilt
25th pick (198th overall) – CB Tim Harris, Virginia
The 9ers started off solid before reaching time and again as the draft wore on. Taking a punter in the fourth is inexcusable. They got a good value on Smith in the sixth round, but it is not enough to counter balance what happened in the preceding three rounds.