The first round of the NFL draft was on Thursday night, and as always it brought chaos in the form of trades, controversial selections, and awesome fan reactions. I’m here to break it all down and grade each team’s first-round performance. How did your favorite team do?
NFL Team Draft Grades for All 32 Teams + Analysis
Draft Pick: #1 – Joe Burrow (QB)
Draft Grade: A
Joe Burrow is back in Ohio to hopefully lead the Cincinnati Bengals back to respectability. The air has completely been taken out of this franchise since their controversial 2015 playoff exit at the hands of their division rival in the Steelers, and Burrow injects some much-needed hope into Cincy’s future. The Bengals had plenty of needs on defense and Chase Young might have been the right choice, but Burrow is the rare guy who wants to play in Ohio. With his accuracy, intangibles, and leadership qualities Burrow is now the face of this franchise.
Draft Pick: #2 – Chase Young (DE)
Draft Grade: A+
Washington stood pat at #2 and ended up with the guy who may have graded as the best defensive player in this class. Chase Young should be a high-level run defender and pass-rusher right away as the type of guy who demands a double-team on his side of the line of scrimmage. It’s hard to have any complaints about this pick as the Redskins add a guy with future All-Pro potential to a front-seven that already had a solid level of talent. In a division with Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliot, and Miles Sanders, having an elite defensive line is really important.
Draft Pick: #3 – Jeff Okudah (CB)
Draft Grade: A-
The Lions could have gone a bunch of different directions with this pick, but they opted to take the future All-Pro level corner in Okudah. The Ohio State product fills a huge need after Darius Slay left the team this offseason and I think Okudah has the floor of at least an above-average cornerback. In order for this to have been the right move, though, Okudah will need to be an elite cornerback – he has the potential of doing this, but I do think there’s a chance that in a few years we look back on this and think they should have taken Tua.
New York Giants
Draft Pick: #4 – Andrew Thomas (OT)
Draft Grade: A
Isaiah Simmons may have been the best player still available, but Thomas provides some much-needed protection for the Giants‘ seemingly franchise QB in Daniel Jones. I was a big fan of Thomas throughout the pre-draft process and had him rated as my top offensive lineman overall. He may not have been the best player available and certainly isn’t a flashy option, I really like this selection. Nate Solder is currently slated at left tackle so Thomas will start on the right side in his first season and transition over to the left in due time. Offensive linemen who can run-block and dominate physically against elite edge-rushers are incredibly important in this league.
Draft Picks: #5 – Tua Tagolavoia (QB), #18 – Austin Jackson (OT), #30 – Noah Igbinoghene (CB)
Draft Grade: B
The Dolphins have a roster full of holes, but Tua’s long-term potential was far too good to ignore here. I think Tua could end up being the best QB in this class when it’s all said and done, and he was well-worth this early pick. Tua’s downfield passing is a thing of beauty, and he has all the intangibles you could ever want from your franchise quarterback. His anticipation and ability to read the entire field is the stuff even high-end veterans continue to work towards. If Tua can stay healthy and the Dolphins can put talent around him, he has a really bright future. The fact that they didn’t have to trade up for him makes it even better.
The Tua pick alone would have earned an A or an A+ for me, but man, I did not like what they did with their other two selections. Austin Jackson was an overdraft at 18, and while he has some good developmental traits, he’s a raw prospect. Josh Jones or Isaiah Wilson could have been a better pick. I also didn’t love the Noah Igbinoghene pick with Trevon Diggs and Jeff Gladney still available. Both could be serviceable players, but I think they definitely could have done a better job of maximizing the value of their 3 first-round picks.
Los Angeles Chargers
Draft Pick: #6 – Justin Herbert (QB), #23 – Kenneth Murray (LB)
Draft Grade: B-
After moving on from 16-year starter Philip Rivers this offseason, the Chargers needed a quarterback of the future. I think Herbert was a bit of a reach at this spot, though. Frankly, I’m not sure there’s that much separating him from guys like Jacob Eason and Jordan Love in this class. Herbert has awesome arm talent but his inability to read the field and make smart decisions with the football could hold him back from ever becoming a well-above-average quarterback. With the level of talent still on the board, I think the Chargers should have held off on drafting a QB at this spot. Herbert has the upside to be really good but this is a risky pick.
The Chargers did well to take advantage of Kenneth Murray’s fall down the draft board, trading up with the Patriots and sending away second (#37) and third (#71) round picks. Murray has the potential to be an awesome player with his sideline-to-sideline tackling and elite play speed. He’s a tackle-machine and fits the way the Chargers want to play defense. He has a ton of upside at linebacker on a team featuring Derwin James, Joey Bosa, Chris Harris Jr., and Casey Heyward.
Draft Pick: #7 – Derrick Brown (DT)
Draft Grade: A
I expected the Panthers to go with Isaiah Simmons here, who I had rated as the best player available. The linebacker position was a huge need after Luke Kuechly’s sudden retirement, and while a very different type of player, Simmons could have filled that hole. Brown definitely isn’t a bad pick, and he’s a very safe player with the upside to be one of the best run-defending, road-grading interior defensive linemen in football, but I think Simmons offers more versatility and at his ceiling could impact the game in a multitude of ways. To Brown’s credit, he’s the best pocket-collapsing presence in this class and the Panthers desperately needed an elite player like him in the middle of their defensive line. The offensive tackle position could have been the right pick as well, but Brown is about as bust-proof as an option the Panthers could have found here.
Draft Pick: #8 – Isaiah Simmons (LB, S, CB, etc.)
Draft Grade: A-
The Cardinals likely didn’t expect Simmons to fall this far down the board (I certainly didn’t), and while drafting an offensive lineman was important in order to protect Kyler Murray long-term, Simmons was incredibly difficult to pass up. The Clemson product saw snaps at inside and outside linebacker, both safety positions, and cornerback. His versatility is mind-boggling and he is the perfect weapon for Vance Joseph to scheme around and use in a variety of ways depending on the offense the team faces in a particular week. Kyler operates really well under pressure and has a ton of reliable receiving options, so it makes sense for the team to go with a defensive player who will help the team win games right away. The team doesn’t pick again until the 72nd overall selection, so they might not be able to address tackle in this draft, but Simmons is a franchise-level talent on defense.
Draft Pick: #9 – C.J. Henderson (CB), #20 – K’Lavon Chaisson (OLB)
Draft Grade: A-
The Jaguars had some serious holes to fill on defense after losing Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler Jr., and Paul Posluszny in recent time. They began to rebuild their new defensive core with the hometown Florida kid in C.J. Henderson at cornerback. I had Henderson going in the mid-teens, but I don’t really feel like it was a reach at 9. He has smooth perimeter coverage skills thanks to his awesome combination of length, agility, and speed. He should be able to produce right away as a starter. Chaisson was great at LSU, earning All-SEC honors with his 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He uses his lateral quickness and power-rush moves to make an impact in pass-rush and run defense. Both of these players should be high-impact defenders for the Jags moving forward.
Draft Pick: #10 – Jedrick Wills (OT)
Draft Grade: A
The Browns had a serious hole to fill at their tackle positions this offseason, and with Jack Conklin joining the team as a free agent, Wills will serve as the other bookend player. Suddenly, the team figures to have a very formidable set of offensive tackles, which should help get Baker back on track. Wills was my second-highest rated tackle prospect so the Browns found good value here. He has exceptional foot speed, powerful hands, and great flexibility/athleticism. He should be a dominant pass-protector right away, and his foot speed will afford him the versatility to work to the perimeter with Mayfield scrambling or block in more of a zone-rushing offense.
New York Jets
Draft Pick: #11 – Mekhi Becton (OT)
Draft Grade: B-
The Jets had a massive hole to fill at left tackle and needed a powerful pass-protector to keep their franchise QB, Sam Darnold, upright. While they drafted the right position here in Becton, I can’t comprehend why they would pick him over Tristan Wirfs. To me, there was a significant dropoff after the top three offensive tackle prospects (Thomas, Wills, and Wirfs). Becton has huge potential with his massive frame and surprisingly good athleticism at his size, but he isn’t nearly as pro-ready as those other guys. With Wirfs still on the board, as well as all of the top receiver prospects, I can’t give this pick a great grade – which is disappointing because I am a fan of Becton’s size/athleticism combination and future potential as a lineman.
Las Vegas Raiders
Draft Pick: #12 – Henry Ruggs (WR), #19 – Damon Arnette (CB)
Draft Grade: D+
The Raiders made somewhat of a surprising choice with Ruggs out of Alabama. Ruggs has game-breaking speed (ran a 4.25 40-yard-dash) and is a threat to score from anywhere on the field (took 25% of his collegiate receptions to the house). Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb were still on the board, though! Those two guys have real All-Pro future potential and can operate as true #1 targets from anywhere on the field. Ruggs will be the fastest player on the field at times, but Derek Carr isn’t exactly a fan of the deep-ball so I’m not sure how involved he’ll be. Ruggs could be overtaxed with the offensive burden the Raiders give him as well.
Meanwhile, Arnette at 19 overall was one of the most confusing picks of the first round. To his credit, Arnette does show solid tackling skills and NFL level size and strength, but he’s incredibly scheme-dependent as he really struggled in handling man-to-man matchups while at Ohio State. Arnette doesn’t have the upside of a top-level corner with his inability to stick with receivers downfield, so the Raiders indirectly limited their defense’s potential with this pick. That’s all before you consider that corners in Jeff Gladney, Trevon Diggs, Jaylon Johnson, and Kristian Fulton were still available, as well as other exciting defensive prospects. The Raiders had the most draft capital entering the night (other than the Dolphins) and failed to do anything significant with it.
San Francisco 49ers
Draft Pick: #13 – Javon Kinlaw (DT), #25 – Brandon Aiyuk (WR)
Draft Grade: B+
I was pretty torn on how to grade the first round for the Niners. I’m a big fan of Kinlaw as a prospect and this move works out well for the team as they essentially trade DeForest Buckner for Kinlaw. The South Carolina product is cheaper and might be a better pass-rusher than Buckner with his bull-rush ability. Kinlaw has elite physical traits and his development should really benefit from playing on a defensive line that features Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead. I like Aiyuk a lot as a prospect, and I think Kyle Shanahan will be able to use him a lot of different ways in the offense, but I wish the team didn’t have to trade picks later on in this draft. San Francisco is a pretty savvy organization, and if they made the move up it’s likely because they didn’t think Aiyuk would still be there at 31. That trade leaves them with just 4 more picks in this draft, though.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Draft Pick: #14 – Tristan Wirfs (OT)
Draft Grade: A
The Bucs likely didn’t wake up this morning expecting Tristan Wirfs to fall down to number 13 overall. Depending on who you ask, Wirfs could be the best offensive tackle prospect in this class. He ran a 4.85 40-yard-dash, which is incredibly impressive with his 6’5″, 322 lb frame. The Bucs needed additional help on the outside of their offensive line to keep veteran Tom Brady upright this season. Their offense is going to be absolutely terrifying this season with Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Gronk in the fold. Wirfs will be relied upon to likely start at left tackle, and he has the requisite strength/athleticism combination to be a high-level starter early in his career. The only reason this pick didn’t earn an A+ is the Bucs had to give up some late-round draft compensation, but that’s a small price to pay with how valuable Wirfs will be for the team.
Draft Pick: #15 – Jerry Jeudy (WR)
Draft Grade: A+
The Broncos had been in rumors all week as a team to watch in a potential trade up in the first round. Their target? None other than Jerry Jeudy, who was still available at number 15 overall. This was a textbook draft strategy by John Elway, who let the draft unfold before him and didn’t force the move up which would have cost the Broncos future draft picks. The team’s defense is likely going to finish top-5 in Vic Fangio’s second season as head coach, and now they have an awesome young offensive nucleus featuring Drew Lock, Philip Lindsay, Melvin Gordon, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Noah Fant. As a Broncos fan, I am thrilled to welcome Jeudy into the fold as he provides elite route-running and game-breaking YAC ability.
Draft Pick: #16 – A.J. Terrell (CB)
Draft Grade: C
In my mock draft, I had the Falcons going with C.J. Henderson here, as their biggest need was help in the secondary. There were rumors of the Falcons attempting to trade up to take Henderson, but when the Jaguars took him at 9 that was obviously nipped in the bud. The Falcons didn’t take advantage of the draft board, instead forcing a move based on need with Terrell. The Clemson product is an above-average athlete, but I have concerns about his slighter frame and past struggles with tackling. Terrell could develop into a solid starter for the Falcons, but there were higher-upside prospects available and the team should have traded down or drafted a different position.
Draft Pick: #17 – CeeDee Lamb (WR)
Draft Grade: A
I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t a little upset when the Cowboys destroyed the Michael Gallup fantasy outlook piece I had ready to roll next week with this pick. This was one of the steals of the first-round though, as I thought Lamb could come off the board as high as number 9 overall to the Jaguars. He profiles as an excellent contested-catch and jump-ball target, and his physical traits are off-the-charts. The Cowboys didn’t necessarily need a receiver here, unlike the Broncos a couple of picks previously, but Lamb was the best player available and he’s going to make their offense unstoppable in 2020 along with Gallup, Amari Cooper, and Ezekiel Elliott. I bet this gives Dak Prescott a little extra incentive to sign a long-term deal in the near future, as well.
Draft Pick: #21 – Jalen Reagor (WR)
Draft Grade: B
Mocks all over the place had the Eagles going with Justin Jefferson here, which I was not a huge fan of (more on him later). I had Reagor rated as the better prospect, and he really fits what Carson Wentz needs out of his receivers. His ability to separate from defenders with speed and athleticism makes him a lethal downfield target, but also helped him show out on intermediate targets. Reagor will be able to play outside or in the slot depending on the Eagles supplementary offensive personnel. It definitely hurts to see their division rival Cowboys snag Lamb just a few picks earlier, but Reagor is a solid consolation prize.
Draft Pick: #22 – Justin Jefferson (WR), #31 – Jeff Gladney (CB)
Draft Grade: B+
The Vikings wound up with Jefferson with the 22nd pick, a player who many expected to come off the board sooner than this. He is a natural receiver of the ball and should be able to run the types of routes that favor Kirk Cousins’ passing style. He fills a need after the departure of Stefon Diggs and should help take some pressure off Thielen. I wasn’t as big a fan of Jefferson as most but this is a nice landing spot for him. His advanced ball skills and exceptional work from out of the slot will help him produce early on in Minnesota. Jeff Gladney is also a need-based pick, with the Vikings’ top three corners departing this offseason, but I really like his upside long-term. He is a competitive player who fights for positioning on every snap and can operate in both man and zone defenses. I would have taken him ahead of Terrell and Arnette. The Vikings did well to trade down in the first round and still end up with him.
New Orleans Saints
Draft Pick: #24 – Caesar Ruiz (IOL)
Draft Grade: B-
Ruiz was my top-graded interior lineman in this draft, and I’m partial to him as a Michigan product, but I’m not sure there’s that much to separate him from Tyler Biadasz and Lloyd Cushenberry. I expected Ruiz to play center in the NFL, but the Saints got solid play out of 2nd-round pick Erik McCoy last season. Ruiz could shift to either guard spot fairly comfortably, but I think the Saints would have improved the immediate future of their team more with a selection of one of the remaining high-level defensive prospects. Drew Brees doesn’t have much time left in the NFL at age 41, and the team should be looking to make one more Super Bowl push. It’s hard to argue with a team that has done a great job drafting and developing offensive line talent, but I don’t think this was the best use of this pick.
Green Bay Packers
Draft Pick: #26 – Jordan Love (QB)
Draft Grade: F
Draft Pick: #27 – Jordyn Brooks (LB)
Draft Grade: C+
I was disappointed when I saw this pick come in, and not because I have any problem with Brooks as a prospect. With his natural instincts and tackling skills, he should be able to develop into a solid starting inside linebacker, especially if he can improve his coverage ability. I thought this was far too early for him to be drafted, though, as I’m not sure how he helps the Seahawks win games in 2020 and he could have been there with their second-round pick. I was prepared to write about him as one of my favorite mid-round steals, not one of the first-round mistakes. Long-term, he has really great upside, and the Seahawks need to groom an inside linebacker to take over when Bobby Wagner eventually retires, but I thought this was too early with the instant-impact defenders still available.
Draft Pick: #28 – Patrick Queen (LB)
Draft Grade: A
Baltimore may have had bigger needs than inside linebacker here, but Queen is far too talented to fall out of the first round. He may not have the same read-react ability and play speed of Kenneth Murray, but Queen showcased tremendous football IQ as the leader of the LSU defense and is an open-field tackling machine. He was only a one-year starter at LSU, which surely led to his fall here, but he came up with huge production down the stretch of the season against elite competition in Georgia, Oklahoma, and Clemson. His cerebral abilities, tackling, and pass coverage skills give him a massive upside.
Draft Pick: #29 – Isaiah Wilson (OT)
Draft Grade: B+
I expected the Titans to take A.J. Epenesa in an effort to replace the departed Jurrell Casey, but Isaiah Wilson fills a need on the offensive side of the ball after Jack Conklin left for the Browns. Wilson is a mauler in the run-game, helping Georgia produce one of the best rushing offenses in college football over the past several seasons. He should help create space for Derrick Henry and will likely start right away.
Kansas City Chiefs
Draft Pick: #32 – Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB)
Draft Grade: B
The Chiefs had the last pick of the first-round and with it took the first running back off the board. Edwards-Helaire is going to be an awesome back for the Andy Reid offense with his combination of balance, power, and shiftiness as a runner. He also profiles as a plus player in the receiving game, as he is able to run real routes out of the backfield and is a force with the ball in his hands. This is a luxury pick for one of the best offenses in the league and the defending Super Bowl champs, and there could have been more valuable uses for this pick. Still, you’re telling me you aren’t excited to see CEH in an offense that features Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill?
Teams with no first round picks:
You might be wondering how the Colts could earn an A grade for the first-round without having any selections, but consider this – the Colts essentially just drafted DeForest Buckner in the first round (after their trade with the 49ers) who will immediately become one of their top defenders. The Colts also dodged a bullet when the Packers haphazardly traded up for Jordan Love (more on him later) as they were a top candidate to draft him in the early second round, and I don’t like his long-term potential much at all. Finally, the Colts won by maintaining their #34 overall pick and resisting the urge to trade up into the back of the first round. There will be a ton of talent available when they pick early tomorrow.
First Friday pick: #34
New England Patriots
The Patriots were slated to draft with the 23rd overall pick, but they smartly recognized the depth of talent remaining in this class and made a trade back with the Chargers. They won’t wait long to draft on Friday as they received the 37th overall pick from Los Angeles, and there are plenty of talented guys who they could take. The Pats do receive a bit of a knock, though, as they watched the rest of their division improve – Dolphins got Tua, Jets got blindside protection for Darnold, and Bills got Diggs – while the Pats will take a step back without Tom Brady. Seeing the Bucs land Gronk and a high-level offensive tackle in Wirfs who shouldn’t have been there in the first place can’t feel good for them either.
First Friday pick: #37
The Bills didn’t have a first-round selection, and they won’t pick for a while on Friday either. They traded their first for Stefon Diggs earlier this offseason, who I believe is better than any of the receiver options who were still available at the 20th spot. There are plenty of talented players still on the board for the Bills to look at when they finally do pick.
First Friday pick: #53
I expected 5 or 6 receivers to come off the board in the first-round, and there is a strong second group of talent at the position, but Jalen Reagor who I thought would be a perfect fit in Pittsburgh is no longer on the board. Still, the team can’t be too upset about trading away their first-round pick after the level of production they got from Minkah Fitzpatrick down the stretch of last season. The Steelers have the #49 overall pick in the 2nd round, and they have some ground to make up after the Ravens added another piece to their defense in Queen.
First Friday pick: #49
There are still plenty of talented defensive players available, as well as a handful of exciting wide receiver prospects, for when the Texans pick at #40 in the 2nd round. Trading away their first-round pick for Laremy Tunsil looks like a win now, as I don’t like any of the offensive line prospects still available at 26 as much as him. The Colts didn’t have a first-round pick, although the Titans and Jaguars made important additions. The AFC South should be really competitive this season.
First Friday pick: #40
The Bears certainly would not have drafted Damon Arnette if they had their first-round pick this season (because only the Raiders would do that), but this pick was sent over in the Khalil Mack and it’s hard to imagine Chicago has any regrets despite their numerous needs to fill later in this draft. The Bears are losing footing in the NFC North as the Vikings shored up some needs and the Lions added one of the best players in the draft.
First Friday pick: #43
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are likely not too upset about losing their first-round pick in this draft to land Jalen Ramsey, and the landscape of the NFC West didn’t shift massively in this draft. The Cardinals are one of the fastest-improving teams in the league, though, and this division could be the best in football next season.