Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida State A+ Grade
I think Tom Telesco is one of the better general managers in the NFL, but I thought he made a rare mistake last year when he opted for Mike Williams over Malik Hooker. The Ohio State product fell to the late teens, but should have been the seventh choice.
It's nice to see that Telesco made amends for that decision. This time, James inexplicably fell, and Telesco wisely scooped him up. The Chargers have had a huge hole at safety for several seasons, but that's no longer the case. James could have gone in the top 10, so this value is incredible. This is an A+ pick.
Green Bay Packers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville B- Grade
If Jaire Alexander can stay healthy, the Packers will be getting a terrific cornerback for their maligned secondary. The problem, however, is his durability. Some teams thought Alexander could slip to the second round because of all his injury issues. In fact, I think Alexander could have been available at No. 27, so I'm not thrilled about the Packers surrendering a third-round pick to get him. That said, Green Bay acquired a 2019 first-rounder in the entire process, so I'm not going to give them a bad grade. Again, if they luck out with Alexander's health, they will have made a huge upgrade to the defensive backfield.
Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State B Grade
One NFC team medically flunked Leighton Vander Esch, but as Charlie and I explained on the podcast, this didn't mean that he wasn't going to fall out of the first round. Teams have different medical opinions of players, and Dallas obviously has no issues with Vander Esch's neck. If Vander Esch remains healthy, he'll be a terrific player in a Dallas defense that has historically struggled mightily whenever Sean Lee has been injured. Lee being hurt now won't be as problematic moving forward, which is a good thing.
I'm giving this a "B" grade. I'd like the pick a lot more if there weren't medical concerns about Vander Esch, but there's a good chance his neck won't be a problem, so I think this is a somewhat solid, albeit risky choice.
Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas A- Grade
That sound you hear is the collective hearts of the Bengals' front office breaking upon learning about this pick. Frank Ragnow was set to go 21st overall, but the Lions also needed a center, so they snatched the Arkansas product off the board.
This is a solid pick. Ragnow is a terrific center who didn't surrender a single sack last year playing in the SEC. He fills a huge need, which the Lions had after losing Travis Swanson in free agency.
Cincinnati Bengals: Billy Price, C, Ohio State B+ Grade
And the run on centers begins! Actually, not really, as the Bengals were going to select a center the entire time. They wanted Frank Ragnow, but Billy Price is a nice consolation prize. In fact, I thought they'd take Price when his medical concerns were still apparent.
Fortunately for Price, he's been medically cleared. He's the top blocker on the board, and Cincinnati absolutely had to upgrade the line. The only concern is that Price may not be ready to play until August, but he could return before then. It's just a minor worry, so this is a good pick.
Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama A- Grade
The Titans lost Avery Williamson in free agency, so they had to replace him. With Leighton Vander Esch being taken off the board, there was just one first-round inside linebacker remaining, so I like the Titans taking the initiative and moving up three spots to secure him. Tennessee also needed an edge rusher, but those will be available in Round 2. A player like Evans would not be.
New England Patriots: Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia C+ Grade
There were mixed thoughts on Isaiah Wynn in the pre-draft process, as some teams thought he could go in the first round, while others believed he would be taken early on Round 2. I think this is a fine choice because protecting Tom Brady, especially at age 41, is incredibly important.
What's interesting is that Wynn was introduced as a left tackle, and that's why I don't love this selection. Wynn has athleticism, but he lacks the length to be a successful tackle. Sure, there have been exceptions, but history is going against Wynn and his 32-inch arms.
Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland A Grade
I imagine there will be some publications who think D.J. Moore was taken too early, or that Calvin Ridley should have been the pick, but I can tell you this: One team in the teens had Moore as its No. 2 option. Moore could have gone about 8-12 selections earlier than this, so I think this is great value.
Moore definitely fills a huge need as well. The Panthers had no No. 1 receiver, thanks to the Kelvin Benjamin trade, and Moore certainly changes that.
Baltimore Ravens: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina B+ Grade
Good for the Ravens for trading down twice. They wanted a tight end, but it would've been insane to take either Hayden Hurst or Dallas Goedert at No. 16. At No. 25, it's much more reasonable.
The Ravens are filling a big need here with Hurst, and they got good value via the trades. The one concern with Hurst is his age (25), which could mean that he's already maxed out, but Baltimore should be getting a player who can help Joe Flacco quite a bit.
Atlanta Falcons: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama A- Grade
Everyone was expecting the Falcons to pick a defensive lineman, or perhaps a blocker. Those would've fit the greatest needs, but receiver makes a ton of sense as well. The Falcons' offense collapses whenever Julio Jones gets hurt - they lost at home to the Bills without him this past season - so acquiring a legitimate No. 2 wideout was very necessary. Ridley was once projected as a top-10 prospect, but this range makes more sense. Still, Ridley is a nice bargain at No. 26, and his terrific route running will allow him to develop quickly and contribute as soon as possible. I like this pick a lot, despite Ridley's perceived declining draft stock.
Seattle Seahawks: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State D Grade
The Seahawks are clearly eager to replace Marshawn Lynch, but this is not a good decision. Rashaad Penny was seen as a second- or third-round prospect among teams. I know one team in the early 40s that was targeting him, and I imagine they're surprised that he was taken.
I almost gave this a Millen grade - I would've gone with Kielbasa-Mode - but the Seahawks don't have a second-round choice and almost certainly wouldn't have gotten Penny in the third. So, I understand this pick ... sort of. The Seahawks could've traded down once more to get Penny.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Terrell Edmunds, LB/S, Virginia Tech Kielbasa-Mode Grade
I didn't get to use Kielbasa-Mode for the Seahawks' pick, so here we go! What a wonderful night to have a second Millen grade.
This is a mega reach. Teams expected Edmunds to be available in the second, maybe even third round. He's not his brother; he's not nearly the athlete, nor the player. Yet, the Steelers are taking him because they have an immense need at linebacker - I imagine he'll make the move there, much like Deone Bucannon - and all of the first-round prospects at the position were taken already. Selecting Edmunds over someone like Harold Landry seems insane to me.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida A- Grade
Taven Bryan doesn't exactly fill a need, but the first round is not necessarily a time for needs. Selecting the best player available who makes sense is usually a winning strategy, and the Jaguars appear to have made a very strong move.
Bryan was being discussed as a possible top-20 prospect. Getting him at No. 30 is great value, and it doesn't hurt to have another interior pass-rusher to rattle Deshaun Watson.
Minnesota Vikings: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida A Grade
Mike Hughes would have gone earlier than this if he didn't have some off-the-field incidents, but those aren't considered a big deal amongst teams. With that in mind, I think this is a terrific selection. Hughes is extremely talented, and he'll provide a big upgrade over Terence Newman in the slot. The Vikings' secondary was torched in the NFC Championship, and Hughes will help make sure that won't happen again.
As an added bonus, Hughes will strengthen Minnesota's return game. The Vikings needed help in this regard, and Hughes will be a dynamic threat as a return specialist.
New England Patriots: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia A- Grade
This pick surprises me a bit. Bill Belichick hates when running backs fumble. Mike Gillislee fumbled last year and wasn't heard from again for months. Sony Michel's one weakness on the field is his fumbling. Maybe Belichick thinks he can fix that problem, but if he doesn't, Michel could be in the dog house.
That said, I still love this pick. Michel was my No. 2 running back, as he's a dynamic player with Alvin Kamara-type ability. With Dion Lewis gone, it made sense to bring in Michel.
Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville A+ Grade
It's so weird that the Ravens passed on Lamar Jackson several picks ago, allowing him to slip to the Steelers, who were rumored to like him. That doesn't exactly show that they have a lot of confidence in him.
And yet, the Ravens traded up for him. It's strange, but I think it's an excellent decision. Jackson has a lot to work on - he's very raw; his mechanics need to be repaired; his accuracy is inconsistent; and his Wonderlic score was super low (13) - but his potential is through the roof. I believe he'll be a very good starter in the NFL if he gets great coaching, and he should have that in Baltimore.
I love this fit. The Ravens can sit Jackson behind Joe Flacco for a couple of years before he's ready. There's also a chance Jackson could play sooner than that, given Flacco's injury history. Jackson could have easily been chosen at No. 16, so he provides great value at the end of the first round, trade or not. This is an A+ pick.