The draft is finally here! We’ve got an exciting evening in store, as nobody knows anything! We are as sure as we can be that Bryce Young will be starting for the Carolina Panthers come Week 1 of the season, but other than that? Not so sure.
The Texans taking any quarterback at No. 2 would be a shock after all the reports that they aren’t sold on anyone after Young. The Cardinals are currently deep in negotiations with teams that want to move up if their guy is there at pick No. 3. And there are three quarterbacks teams might want to move up for, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis. We could even see Hendon Hooker go late in the first round. This is going to be fun.
Below, we’ll be giving you the picks as they happen, along with a quick rundown and grade for how we think the team did with their selection.
Rapid reaction pick grades for Round 1
No. 1 Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Young isn’t as tall or as thick as most NFL teams would like him to be, but he was also the highest graded quarterback coming into the draft. He’s not a lock to be a star, but he has all the traits to lead a team to wins and with Frank Reich guiding him, I think he has a good chance of being worth the trade up with the Bears.
No. 2 Houston Texans: CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
If this pick happened yesterday, everyone would have fallen out of their seats. But here we are and the Texans went with Stroud and they should have. Stroud’s accuracy and poise is great. He will be a solid foundation for the Texans offense while they build it up around him. This was the logical choice and fans should be glad they made it.
No 3 Houston Texans: (Trade with Cardinals) Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
Wow! The Texans trade up with the Cardinals to select Anderson in a huge move to grab who many think is the best player in the draft. We’ll see what it cost them, but this should make Texans fans very happy. Demeco Ryans got his stud defender and a solid franchise QB in the first three picks.
No 4 Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
All A’s so far, but man, you gotta love this pick for Shane Steichen and the Colts. It looked like they were sold on Will Levis, but Richardson was the right choice in my mind. Yes, he’s inaccurate and needs to learn a lot, but he’s got the right guy to help him in Steichen. His upside is out of this world and.
No. 5 Seattle Seahawks: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
The Seahawks tried to trade out of this pick, but ended going with Witherspoon. Many analysts had him as their No. 1 corner in a very deep class. He is a special player and moved up many draft boards during this process.
No. 6 Arizona Cardinals: (Trade with Lions) Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
The Cardinals want to protect Kyler Murray and Johnson is a strong player to do just that. I don’t love this group of offensive linemen, so I don’t love the Cardinals using draft capital to trade up to grab Johnson here.
No. 7 Las Vegas Raiders: Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech
Wilson is a large human who moves like a much smaller human. He destroys offensive linemen and should be an instant impact player. The only downside is that he broke his foot last season and some worried about the long lasting affects of that injury. But as long as his foot is okay, this is a great pick.
No. 8 Atlanta Falcons: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
The Falcons were able to run the ball well last season with Tyler Allgeier last season, but couldn’t do much else. Robinson is fantastic and will be awesome for the Falcons, but they are nowhere near winning enough games to get into the playoffs right now. When it comes to rebuilding a team, you don’t spend a No. 8 pick on any running back. He’ll be fun to watch, but the Falcons made a team building mistake here.
No. 9 Philadelphia Eagles: (Trade with Bears) Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
And we’re back to the A grades! The Eagles moved up one spot to grab a player many considered to be Top 3 in talent in this draft. The off field issues and seeming lack of commitment are a concern, but the Eagles are the absolute perfect place for him to be. He has so many veterans helping Carter stay in line and focused. Add in the fact that they lost Javon Hargrave and this is a perfect pick to keep their defensive line tops in the league.
No. 10 Chicago Bears: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
I like that the Bears went with offensive line, but I would have taken Peter Skoronski over him here. But, they very much needed help for Justin Fields and we saw Wright stone Will Anderson last season. It could work out.
No. 11 Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Skoronski is a solid pick here. He isn’t an exciting pick and will probably end up being a guard, but his upside at guard is tremendous. I expect him to be a top-tier player, but for a team without a quarterback!
No. 12 Detroit Lions: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
I like this pick a little more than the Falcons taking Robinson with the No. 8 pick, but not by much. These teams need to look at how other teams win championships and it’s not by drafting running backs in the Top 12! But, Gibbs has tremendous talent and will be a walking fantasy pick.
No. 13 Green Bay Packers: Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa
Van Ness wowed at the combine and his tape showed plenty of upside despite not being a full time player at Iowa. One reason for that was a senior ahead of him who the coaches wanted to give playing time. He will need some time to develop, but all the traits are there for a strong starter.
No. 14 Pittsburgh Steelers: (Trade with Patriots) Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
The Steelers appeared set on an offensive tackle and moved up a few spots to grab one in Jones. It’s hard to get overly excited about this group of linemen, but they aren’t a deep group in this draft and every team wants offensive linemen. Kenny Pickett will be happy for reinforcements at a position of need. I wouldn’t have minded Christian Gonzalez here, but CB is deeper than OL.
No. 15 New York Jets: Will McDonald, EDGE, Iowa State
Many draftniks had McDonald going toward the end of the first round due to his trouble against the run, but getting to the quarterback is an art form that not many players can master. I liked some other picks here, so I can’t give this a great grade, but if he can keep up his pass rush, he’ll excel in the NFL.
No. 16 Washington Commanders: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
Forbes wasn’t pegged to go this early in the draft due to his slender build and trouble against the run, but that’s not a huge knock in a league that covets corners like Forbes. His instincts are outstanding and a little growing up and time in the weight room could get him in line to be one of the top corners in the league. But, they shouldn’t have passed on Christian Gonzalez.
No. 17 New England Patriots: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
This was a bit of a fall for Gonzalez, but that’s great for the Patriots, who have to be giddy that he was available after trading back with the Steelers. Gonzalez is a smooth coverage man who is tough to get away from. He also has plenty of size to take on bigger receivers. They’ve got their Stephon Gilmore replacement.
No. 18 Detroit Lions: Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
I don’t like giving out F’s because I surely can’t see the future, but man, the Lions are making some weird picks. Campbell is a good player, but he relies on being consistently good, not great. His athleticism is average and his upside in the NFL is about non-existent. He is what he is and that’s likely a solid player at a position that doesn’t deserve to go this high in the draft.
No. 19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pitt
Kancey is undersized for his position, but his athleticism makes up for it. He can get to the quarterback with the best of them and the Buccaneers need some youth in that department. If he defended the run better he’d probably have gone even higher.
No. 20 Seattle Seahawks: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
The Seahawks lucked into grabbing the best wide receiver in the draft with Smith-Njigba falling to them. They have other needs, but this pick would be hard to pass up. DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Smith-Njigba could easily end up being the best receiving trio in the league.
No. 21 Los Angeles Chargers: Quinten Johnson, WR, TCU
The Chargers were fortunate that wide receivers fell far enough for them to have their pick of the litter, sans Smith-Njigba. Zay Flowers and Jordan Addison were possibilities here that I would have liked as well, but Johnson has the most upside to be a true No. 1 receiver. This is great for Justin Herbert.
No. 22 Baltimore Ravens: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Everything is coming up roses for Lamar Jackson. He becomes the highest paid player in the league and his team drafts a stud receiver in the first round, while also adding Odell Beckham Jr. to the mix. This isn’t the Ravens front office he’s used to. Flowers is a guy who can play fast and make defenders miss after the catch. The Ravens need speed on offense and he gives it to them.
No. 23 Minnesota Vikings: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The wide receiver run continues, much to the chagrin of the Giants and Chiefs. And each of these wide receiver picks gets an A from me. These were the top four receivers and all were taken at a slight discount. Addison is a perfect replacement for Adam Thielen and should be able to step into his shoes sooner than later.
No. 24 New York Giants: (Trade with Jaguars) Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
The Giants were so close to getting in on the wide receiver run, but alas. I would have liked them to take TE Dalton Kincaid here, but Banks is a strong and extremely fast player who should become a fixture in the secondary. He needs to learn how to play with more overall awareness, but that should come with time. His physical traits and ability are Round 1 material.
No. 25 Buffalo Bills: (Trade with Jaguars) Dalton Kinkaid, TE, Utah
Kincaid is a wide receiver in a tight end’s body and will be an upgrade on Dawson Knox in Buffalo. The Bills need more weapons for Josh Allen and trading up ahead of the Cowboys, who reportedly liked Kincaid more than Michael Mayer was a shrewd move.
No. 26 Dallas Cowboys: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan
The Cowboys might have taken Dalton Kincaid here if the Bills hadn’t scooped them. I would have liked that pick better. But Smith is a beast in the interior and should let Micah Parsons get free even more often. Smith’s size and strength pop on the field with his quickness, but he will likely end up specializing as a run stopper and not add a hole lot as a pass rusher.
No. 27 Jacksonville Jaguars: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
The Jaguars can always use help protecting their star quarterback, but Cam Robinson’s suspension for PEDs likely made this pick even more important. Harrison isn’t going to destroy defenders, but he is smart and uses his strengths well. His overall athletic ability is average, but he should be able to start in this league.
No. 28 Cincinnati Bengals: Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson
The Bengals get a very productive player in Murphy. His motor is always running and it pays off on the field. He does need to refine his game, but has the traits to be a plus starter in the league. He’ll get to play behind Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard, so will have time to develop while helping in a rotation to keep the defensive line fresh.
No. 29 New Orleans Saints: Bryan Breese, DL, Clemson
Breese is a strong run defender, which is always a trait the Saints look for, but he can develop even more of a pass rush with his physical traits. This isn’t a home run pick, but at this point in the draft I like it for the Saints.
No. 30 Philadelphia Eagles: Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia
The Eagles love themselves some Georgia Bulldogs and they likely got a steal here with Smith at No. 30. Philadelphia always seems to grab that player you think shouldn’t have fallen as far as they did. With Jalen Carter already drafted, adding Smith to that defense just isn’t fair.
No. 31 Kansas City Chiefs: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE, Kansas State
The Chiefs need help getting to the quarterback and Anudike-Uzomah can do just that. Like any EDGE defender take this late in the first, there is room for improvement, but the ability is there. He should quickly find his way to the quarterback with Chris Jones taking on two defenders at a time.