Here’s our look at the winners from the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft
Sure he’s going to the Cleveland Browns, but any time you go from a walk-on to the first pick in the draft, you definitely get tagged as a winner. It’s a truly inspirational story. Baker Mayfield was a great college player but I’m not sure how he’ll translate to the NFL. Still, he obviously convinced the Browns he was worthy of being the face of their franchise.
Eli Manning doesn’t have to look over his shoulder at a young quarterback now and has Saquon Barkley to take a ton of pressure off of him. The Barkley pick may have extended his career by several years.
New York Jets
The New York Jets traded up a few weeks ago ostensibly to land a franchise quarterback. At No. 3 they didn’t panic, sat still and wound up with the consensus top signal-caller in the draft. Sam Darnold shouldn’t start from Day 1, but he’s got the best ceiling of any QB in this year’s draft. If the Jets can surround him with talent he could be a steal at No. 3.
The Arizona Cardinals got their future franchise quarterback at No. 10 after trading up, and it was Josh Rosen, the consensus second-best signal-caller in this year’s draft. The Cards didn’t overpay to move into the top five to get their QB, instead they were patient, let things play out and pounced at No. 10. That was disciplined management.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played this perfectly. They didn’t need a quarterback at No. 7 and had a number of needs, so they looked to trade down. They found a sucker in the Buffalo Bills, who surrendered the 12th pick, and two second-rounders (No. 53 and No. 56) in order to move up five spots to take Josh Allen. The Bucs snagged Vita Vea at No. 12, who will team with perennial Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy on the interior of the defensive line.
The Bucs should be active on Day 2, as they have three second-round picks, No. 38, No. 53 and No. 56.
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers may not have had the sexiest draft, but man was it effective. At No. 14, they traded down, as the New Orleans Saints came up from No. 27 to draft Marcus Davenport. In exchange for that pick, the Packers got the 27th pick, the 147th pick and a first-round pick in 2019. That’s a huge haul.
The Packers then turned around and traded back up, sending the 27th, 76th and 186th picks to the Seattle Seahawks for the 18th pick and the 248th. At 18 they got the player they wanted all along, Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander. Value-wise that’s a phenomenal first night of the draft.