The 2018 NFL Draft is Now Officially Open. The Cleveland Browns are on the Clock

The most-watched NFL Draft in history was filled with many surprises, head-scratchers, as well as its fair share of winners and losers.

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By Darren Liang

Biggest Surprises

Cleveland Browns select quarterback Baker Mayfield first overall

With the number one overall pick in the draft, there was no question that the Cleveland Browns were going to select one of the highly touted quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. Leading up to the draft, the two most likely quarterbacks to come off the board first were projected to be Sam Darnold and Josh Allen, who are believed to have the most potential out of the stellar quarterback class. However, instead of those larger signal callers, the team selected the 6’0” Baker Mayfield. Though he is the reigning Heisman trophy winner and the most accurate quarterback of the draft, his size, arrogance, and off-field concerns are alarming, and Darnold would have been a much safer pick. Though surprising, new GM John Dorsey’s gamble is not a terrible pick. At Oklahoma, Mayfield was known for his fiery personality and competitiveness, which will certainly ignite the locker room of a team with one win in its past two seasons. At worst, Mayfield will end up being Johnny Manziel 2.0: a talented but undersized quarterback whose immaturity and off-field issues made him the one of the biggest busts in history. At the same time, Mayfield has the potential to follow the footsteps of Drew Brees, another undersized quarterback who, unlike Manziel, will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when his career is over. Hopefully for the Browns, the latter is true, and Mayfield will finally end the franchise’s quarterback woes.

Derrius Guice falls to pick 59

Before the draft, LSU running back Derrius Guice was regarded as the second best running back in this class (behind Saquon Barkley). Many experts predicted that he would be selected in the mid to late first round. However, the first round went by, and Guice’s name had still not been called by commissioner Roger Goodell. On top of that, running backs Rashaad Penny and Sony Michel had been selected at picks 27 and 31, respectively. Additionally, in the first 11 picks of the second round, three running backs were selected, none of them Derrius Guice. Finally, the Washington Redskins selected Guice with the 59th overall pick of the draft. At the time, many analysts questioned the teams that had passed on Guice, a first-round talent with a combination of power and quickness. However, many alarmed fans began to learn that Guice had fallen on many teams’ boards because of a poor attitude and personality, so poor that it dropped him all the way to the bottom of the second round. Though there were some pre-draft concerns about Guice’s attitude and immaturity, nobody expected his first round caliber talent to fall to the end of the second round. Unless Guice’s attitude creates significant problems for the team, the Redskins could have the steal of the draft.


New York Giants

After a disappointing 2017 season in which the Giants went 3-13, owner John Mara brought in fresh faces by hiring head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman, who were tasked with building a roster that would compete for a championship in 2018. At his pre-draft press conference, Gettleman said, “Because again, those three truths don’t change; you’ve got to run the ball; you’ve got to defend the run and rush the passer. So, everyone else wants to talk about skill guys, and I want to talk about hog mollies.” Gettleman and his staff certainly checked all of those boxes within the first three rounds.

At number two overall, the Giants found someone to run the ball in running back Saquon Barkley, who is one of the most NFL-ready running backs of all time. He impressed at his combine, showing that he is more than capable of facing NFL defenses. At number 34 overall, the Giants found a “hog mollie” in offensive guard Will Hernandez, who received first round grades from numerous scouts for his quickness and size, to make an immediate impact on their weak offensive line. At number 66 overall, the Giants found someone to rush the passer in linebacker Lorenzo Carter, replacing former star defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul, who they traded to the Buccaneers earlier this offseason. He has great range but will need to become stronger to start for the Giants this year.

At picks 69 and 139, the Giants chose defensive tackles BJ Hill and RJ McIntosh, respectively, who will generate a good pass rush up the middle. The Giants found quarterback Kyle Lauletta to be a potential Eli Manning replacement at pick 108. He is widely considered to be one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the draft, and many analysts considered the pick a steal. Considering the fact that the Giants were able to plug many of the holes in their roster without sacrificing a lot of draft capital, Gettleman’s first draft as the Giants’ GM was certainly a success.

Chicago Bears

In the 2017 draft, the Bears traded up with the San Francisco 49ers to select who they believe will be their franchise quarterback, allowing them to address other team needs in this year’s draft. They started by taking linebacker Roquan Smith with the eighth overall pick. The Bears needed to improve their pass rush and the linebacker position in general, and Smith’s athletic ability and knowledge of the game make him a great pass rusher and coverage backer. He should fit right into the Bears defense immediately and have an instant impact on their 2018 season.

The Bears also added center James Daniels with the 39th pick. Daniels’s quickness and size make him an exceptional run blocker and, overall, a quality offensive lineman that should improve the Bears’ offense. At number 51 overall, the Bears selected wide receiver Anthony Miller. Miller is an extremely dedicated player, which makes him appealing for any team. He has a decent ability to create space and get open, but his hands are unimpressive. In the fourth round, the Bears picked linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe, who put up very good numbers in college. Experts say those stats will not translate to the NFL, but his speed and athletic ability will allow him to recover from mistakes as a young linebacker who I think could continue to put up those numbers with some NFL experience.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals went 8-8 in the 2017 season and lost their quarterback, Carson Palmer, with no backup plan. Due to the abundance of talented quarterbacks in the 2018 draft class, many expected the Cardinals to pounce on the opportunity to draft one of them. And that’s exactly what they did. Watching highly coveted UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen fall to the 10th overall pick, they traded up to draft him. Rosen is talked about as the most NFL-ready quarterback in this year’s draft class, and the only knocks on him are his delicate frame and his cocky personality. Nevertheless, the Cardinals were lucky to get a potential franchise quarterback at 10.

With the 47th pick, the Cardinals selected top wide receiver prospect Christian Kirk to add to their arsenal of offensive weapons. Though Kirk lacks speed, he should be able to thrive in the slot and complement the speedy receivers like J.J. Nelson and Larry Fitzgerald that the Cardinals already have. At number 97 overall, the Cardinals picked center Mason Cole from Michigan. He may not be an instant starter, but his position flexibility will be valuable to the Cardinals if they lose an offensive lineman due to injury during the season. In the fourth round at 134 overall, the Cardinals picked Chase Edmonds, an under-the-radar running back that has the potential to shine if David Johnson gets injured (again). He drew comparisons to the Falcons star running back Devonta Freeman based on his exceptional explosiveness. However, he faced weak competition in college, so his stats may have been inflated.


New Orleans Saints

The Saints’ 2017 draft class was definitely one for the ages. In the first round, the team selected shutdown cornerback Marshon Lattimore (11th pick) and offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk (32nd pick). They selected safety Marcus Williams with the 42nd overall pick in round two and proceeded to take the biggest steal of the draft in running back Alvin Kamara in round 3 (67th overall). These players, as well as their later picks, played vital roles in the Saints’ improvement on a disappointing 2016 season in which they went from 7-9 to going 11-5 and making a playoff run in 2017. And coming into the 2018 draft, many analysts had come to the consensus that the Saints could go a number of different ways with the 27th overall pick– receiver, tight end, offensive lineman, perhaps even a quarterback to serve as Drew Brees’s future replacement. Instead, the Saints traded up with the Packers and selected defensive end Marcus Davenport. On paper, it was a solid pick: a raw but talented pass rusher with a ton of upside. However, the Saints gave up the 27th pick, a fifth round pick, as well as a 2019 first round pick—a huge price to pay to move up 13 spots for a pass rusher. On top of that, the rest of their draft was mediocre at best, and their selections are not expected to make huge contributions in their rookie seasons. If Davenport ends up becoming anything less than JJ Watt, the trade can be considered a huge blunder by the Saints’ front office.

Oakland Raiders

Coming into the draft, the Raiders’ most pressing needs were on the defensive side of the ball, particularly at linebacker and defensive back. The Raiders held the 15th pick after a trade with the Cardinals, and many expected them to take Derwin James, who several experts considered the best safety in this draft class. Instead, Oakland selected offensive tackle Kolton Miller despite the fact that their offensive line is their biggest strength. In fact, they didn’t take a linebacker until the sixth round, when they selected Azeem Victor with the 216th overall pick. And Derwin James? He went to their division rival Los Angeles Chargers at pick 17. In addition to failing to fill their biggest needs, the Raiders’ trade with the Cardinals was underwhelming as well. Everyone in the entire world knew the Cardinals needed a franchise quarterback. And surprisingly, Josh Rosen, considered the best pure passer in this class, was available at the 10th pick. So when the Cardinals called, the Raiders could have extracted a lot from them in terms of draft capital. Perhaps they could have gotten a second round pick or a future first rounder. Instead, all they got in return were third and fifth round picks, and they certainly missed out on many talented players throughout the draft with many puzzling decisions. If you’re a Raiders fan, you have to be pretty disappointed with their 2018 draft class.