The first 20 picks in the 2019 NFL draft have officially been set. What does that mean? Well, for the 20 worst teams in the NFL it is officially draft season. Of course, for many, it has been that way for a while now but to the others, we officially welcome you to the best time of the year, draft season.
Unraveling the 2019 NFL Draft
Current Draft Order
- Arizona Cardinals
- San Francisco 49ers
- New York Jets
- Oakland Raiders
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- New York Giants
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Detroit Lions
- Denver Broncos
- Buffalo Bills
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Green Bay Packers
- Miami Dolphins
- Atlanta Falcons
- Washington Redskins
- Carolina Panthers
- Cleveland Browns
- Minnesota Vikings
- Tennessee Titans
- Pittsburgh Steelers
*picks 21-32 are not official until the playoffs are finalized
Who Controls the Draft
Every year there are a select few teams that “control” the draft. Last year it was the Browns who controlled the draft. Years before, teams like the 49ers and Colts were in charge.
So that begs the question, who is in control of this year’s draft?
Typically, the team holding the first overall pick has the most control, and that’s no different here. Currently holding the first overall pick, the Cardinals have their hand in many possible scenarios. Of course, the first of which is to stay put and take the best overall player in the draft, Nick Bosa. But is pass rush really the team’s biggest need? I mean they have Chandler Jones on the edge already and he’s arguably one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. The other option is to take dominant interior defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. This would certainly address a need for the team and boost a lacking position on the team’s roster.
However, with the way the roster is currently set up, this team needs an influx of talent, bad. What’s the best way to do that you ask? Acquire draft picks and spend them wisely. In order to do so, a potential trade back would grant them the resources needed to add talent to multiple positions. Teams in need for a quarterback or pass rusher could give a king’s ransom for the first overall pick to ensure they get their guy.
Its Jon Gruden’s World and We’re All Living In It
The Cardinals aren’t the only team who controls this year’s draft. Holding three first round picks this year, the Raiders are also very much in control. While it isn’t final, the Raiders currently hold the fourth (their own pick), 25th (from Cowboys), and 27th (from Bears) overall picks in the draft. Both picks from the Bears and Cowboys are not finalized as they still have playoff games to play. Both also look to finish with a pick in the late 20s, a lot higher than the Raiders originally thought when they made the trades.
Still, with three first-round picks, the Raiders hold a lot of capital to move freely up or down the draft order. The team also owns two picks in the 2020 draft. The biggest need is, of course, a pass rusher. The problem becomes picking at four lands you just outside the possibility of grabbing the best one in the draft. This could force the team’s hand to make an offer for the first pick to ensure they get the best player.
Of course, they could also stay put and use the three picks on some much-needed positions. Using their first pick on a pass rusher then addressing wide receiver and defensive back later would be a viable option for this team as well.
While every draft has a few teams who “control” it, they all also have some wild cards. Teams that no one really can get a grip on what they are going to do or what direction they decide to go. It is important to not go into a given draft with a set plan on what position to take when, as that is how busts are usually created taking players earlier than their value is. On one side, there are some teams that need help in one area so bad it is inferred that’s the direction they are going. Teams on the opposite side of that are viewed as “wild cards” as no one knows what to expect when they get on the clock in late April.
This year teams like the Jaguars and 49ers could be huge wild cards. Even the Cardinals and Raiders mentioned above could be huge wildcards as they have so many directions they could go.
Needing a quarterback bad and having your back to the wall is a true struggle. That currently describes the Jaguars, but it also describes the Dolphins. Both teams need a new quarterback in order to be competitive with the other teams running their divisions. That can lead you to reach for a quarterback based solely on need and not on their value. The Dolphins can move on from Ryan Tannehill with a potential out in his contract. In doing so, it would drive up their need for an immediate replacement at the quarterback position, causing them to trade up to get one.
Picking second overall could be devastating for the 49ers, as they could be one pick short of landing Bosa. This could drive them crazy and force their hand to trade up one position and ensure they grab him. Or it could force them to take another pass rusher instead second overall. Either way, there will be a lot of eyes on what the 49ers choose to do with their high draft pick, making them true wild cards.
Quarterback Needy Teams
Quarterback: the position that truly runs the draft. Needing a quarterback, especially in a “down” year, could make the draft order frantic at the top. Teams will often move up to grab “their” guy and pay a king’s ransom in the process. So, who could be the teams to do so this year?
As mentioned above, the Jaguars and Dolphins could be in major need of an upgrade at the position. Others such as Washington, Denver, or even Cincinnati could look to add another guy to their roster depending on coaching changes. With both the Broncos and Bengals in the search for a new head coach it makes predicting their draft plan that much harder. Depending on the coach brought in, their draft plan and roster could change drastically.
For the draft fans out there, this draft, as well as any, will be a fun one. Of course, with the lack of high-end quarterback talent, it may not have the allure some look for. No matter what happens there should be a lot of intrigue around the top of the draft order with all the potential trades and landing spots possible.