First things first: I just about managed to break even on the NFL draft bets. Had Vita Vea fell 1 more place to the Redskins (who would have taken him as they also took a defensive tackle…annoying), it would have been fairly profitable.

As it was my first experience of watching the draft (watched on Sky Sports, who had the NFL network coverage) was fairly enjoyable..more so had it been profitable I suppose.

Things started badly with Baker Mayfield going first overall, when I pinned my Sam Darnold colours to the mast and was fairly dismissive of the Saquon Barkley to the Giants pick, which I still believe was a bad decision by the Giants and it will be interesting how the rest of their picks pan out addressing the holes on the defence and to this point, not picking a QB (and still havent at the end of round 3).

The NAP selection was an ultimate sweat, with it taking the Ravens trading in to the last pick of the first round to select Lamar Jackson. I really tilted when the Patriots passed on him twice and figured that the bets were all going to go down the pan, but luckily, we got out of jail.

I think next year, I will just sit and enjoy the draft and enjoy it for what it is. I found that with the draft, because the possibilities are endless, it is impossible to be happy with just a single bet or 2 and always try and find an angle that is not there and end up hedging all over the place. If I do end up having a bet next year (let’s face it, it’s likely), it may just be simple bets like total number of QBs/WRs/etc to be drafted in the first round. No long accas, no predictions on the first 3 picks etc.

Anyway, moving to the point of the article, the analysis of the first round. This will also be in a podcast coming your way later in the week where Lee Wakefield will join me to discuss the NFL draft, focusing on the first few rounds.

The accolade of the first overall pick in an NFL draft for 2018 was decided when the Cleveland Browns picked Baker Mayfield, confirming the stories coming out on the day and a few days before. I was quite surprised that Baker did not attend the draft in Dallas actually,  especially considering he was a lock for a top 5 pick (further to that point, why is it not mandatory for the top 10 picks (or assumed top 10 picks) to be in the house for the draft. Are there any rules or is it just a location thing? Answers on a postcard please.

Baker Mayfield for me, was always going to be my best bet at the QB that is likely to be the most successful out of the “Big 4”. Sam Darnold also ticked a lot of boxes, but if you have followed the blog or my social media, we love Baker Mayfield. He will be exciting to watch and Cleveland will be a fascinating team to follow in the 2018 season (really hope they are the “Hard Knocks” or “All or Nothing” team next year. Baker has a perfect QB to learn from in Tyrod Taylor and hopefully, Baker will be able to compete for the starting job, but ultimately sit for a year. There will be no pressure to put the guy in and I think if Cleveland were clever (not always the case), they would use Tyrod this year to ensure that the offensive line is perfect for when Baker steps in and steps up to the plate.

For fantasy, he will have a good floor with his running ability and his accuracy, and I don’t think the landing spot in Cleveland will kill his ceiling either. He will have weapons and a pair of safe hands in Jarvis Landry (if he stays past 2018).

The only thing restricting him from thriving will be Hue Jackson, the Head Coach. Whilst they have some weird play calls coming from him ( remember the few 4th down calls last year to try and win games instead of kicking field goals against the Jets), he is simply not what that organisation needs. I’m not overly enamoured with his coaching style, his culture and how he has stayed in a job whilst winning only 1 game in 2 years is truly a miracle. Their misses on QBs in the last few drafts are comical, choosing the likes of Kizer and Kessler over Deshaun Watson and hell, even Mitch Trubisky.

I really hope for Baker’s, the Cleveland Browns and the NFL’s sake, that their #1 pick in the 2018 draft will not fizzle out and kill his talents and his style of play.

Pick number 2 in the draft is the one that will forever divide opinion until we have the hindsight to know whether it was a good call or a bad call by Dave Gettleman and the New York football Giants. Saquon Barkley is now a Giant and was argued beforehand as one of the best prospects at Running Back for the past 15 years. That’s a pretty high accolade when coming in to the league. The New York Giants arguably had bigger needs than at running back (though, that was also a need considering their current depth there) but they decided that he was the best player in the draft, and they selected him. Whilst it will take a little while to pan out and see how he does in this offence, I think it is now even more intriguing as to how the Giants go about the rest of their draft.

They signed Nate Solder from New England, which is a good move for the offensive line (and they subsequently selected Will Hernandez in the second round) but their defensive needs up front with the exit of Jason Pierre-Paul was the main reason why I thought that Bradley Chubb should have been selected here. Whether or not the new GM Gettleman and new HC Pat Shurmur feel like they will take the “we’ll score more than you” approach this year or they just wanted to sort out the running back position once and for all, it’s undeniable that Saquon is the “name” of the draft and it will alleviate some media pressure and ensure that people still wanted to queue an hour for parking beforehand to turn up to MetLife stadium and drink overpriced beer. Things could turn sour quite quickly however, and I have likened to Barkley in this offence like a Ferrari in rush hour, not going anywhere.

A main criticism of Barkley going in to the draft was the fact that he rarely put his head down and gained the tough yards, instead opting for tippy tapping around in the backfield to find a hole. This may lead to some poor ypc averages for Barkley if Solder and their draft picks cannot sort out the lanes or blocking for their new running back. As there are a lot of haters on this pick, it will need to reap rewards fairly quickly otherwise a lot of people will turn quickly in New York and it wont take much for that to happen. Overall, if I were a Giants fan, I think I can trust Gettleman and Shurmur with the dealings here and it’s just fortunate that Ben McAdoo is no longer there.

From a fantasy perspective, Barkley will get a full workload from the get go. His pass catching ability will mean that he will likely go in the first round of your fantasy drafts.

It would surprise to see Barkley easily surpass 1000 yards, but the touchdowns may not be there as much as people expect. It will be imperative that Nate Solder helps that offensive line hugely and elevates the play of those around him (along with any players they accumulate in the draft).

Moving to pick 3 by the New York Jets, they sure did hit the jackpot. With hindsight, they got exactly what they would’ve wanted from pick 3, the choice of QB. Darnold, Allen and Rosen were sitting there waiting and they were proactive in deciding that they wanted to choose their destiny in the draft. With the Giants seemingly happy to not go a Quarterback in the first round, they guaranteed themselves either Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold. And that has to be a big win for the franchise. Darnold ticks a lot of boxes and will likely be successful in the league for a long time, something the Jets have looked at settling at the Quarterback position since Ken O’Brien. Like the Browns, the Jets have struggled to have a competent QB for more than 2 years in succession and set their stall out early in the offseason when trading their 2nd Round picks with the Colts to move up to 3. The back office will be in danger of losing their positions at the end of the season should this one not work out but I believe they have selected correctly here (Josh Allen could have been a disaster here). Like the Giants, the Jets have a few other holes to plug in the draft and I am sure that they will all be tailored around ensuring that Darnold has the best chance to succeed (mainly because they don’t have a lot of picks left, with no pick in round 2).

One thing is for sure, they will be talking about this draft for years to come in New York… because it could be the year the Jets surpassed them and became a better team (not the team with the best players), all because the Giants didn’t go QB and the Jets did.

Fantasy-wise, Darnold should slide straight in to the lineup and is one for dynasty leagues as this team are kind of still in rebuild mode. Robby Anderson could miss a lot of time, if not the whole season. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has left and only Terrelle Pryor has joined the ranks at this point.

The first shock of the draft happened at pick 4; No the Browns didn’t trade back and they didn’t pick Bradley Chubb. The Browns select Denzel Ward, the Corner from Ohio State. Not too much to discuss here from a fantasy perspective but it was surprising to most people that they didn’t go Chubb to partner their #1 pick last year in Myles Garrett and have a loaded front defensive line.

Chubb didn’t have much longer to wait in the draft, however, and was immediately selected at pick 5 by John Elway and the Denver Broncos. He partners Von Miller to bolster back up that defence. The way that the first 4 picks turned out proved to be decisive, as the Bills reportedly had a trade in place for the Bills to come up to pick 5. But as Chubb was there, Denver cut the deal off and selected Chubb so clearly they felt he was going to be picked by the Giants or the Browns, too.

Quenton Nelson is now a Colt in the most non-surprising pick of the draft at number 6. He will be a multi year pro bowler and will have the job of protecting Andrew Luck for years to come. You would expect the Colts to continue to fill their cheese grater of a squad with their multiple 2nd round picks.

The Bills finally managed to get in the top 10 at pick 7, selecting Josh Allen in what will be a meticulously analysed pick in the next few years. Many suggest that Allen is the most likely bust candidate from the top 4 QBs that were selected. He looks to be a Buffalo type player, has a crazy strength arm and will be erratic, but Buffalo will likely still be a run first team this season, mainly due to the lack of weapons for Allen to throw to. He isn’t touchable in fantasy, maybe not even in dynasty leagues due to his errors and how prone he is to errant passes. Buffalo on the whole aren’t going to be a goldmine for fantasy, and that includes LeSean McCoy. That said, the arm strength Allen possesses, may just about keep the defences honest, something Tyrod was never really able to do.

Chicago boosted their linebacking depth with Roquan Smith in a move most saw coming at pick 8, whilst San Francisco went offensive line at pic 9 with Mike McGlinchey, ensuring that their star QB doesn’t hit the deck much.

Chicago, who overhauled their offence in the free agency, should continue to bolster the front 7 in the draft. The 49ers have similar needs to the Bears, but decided against addressing that in the 1st round.  For fantasy purposes, these 2 defences will be middle of the road defences and will rely a bit on their respective offences staying on the field, scoring and putting the pressure back on the opposing teams offences, rather than their own defence.

Pick 10 saw the Arizona Cardinals possibly beat Miami to the punch, trading with Oakland and selecting the final QB of the big 4. Josh Rosen will sit behind Sam Bradford (until he gets injured) and will be a nice fit there in desert county. Similar to Buffalo, Arizona will need to give Allen some WR to throw to in the coming years, especially with Larry Fitzgerald likely retiring after this season. Don’t be surprised if Arizona address the WR position later in the draft.

So there are the first 10 picks in the draft covered. Below are the best and worst picks of the rounds:

Best Pick: Quenton Nelson – Indianapolis

The Colts have a long way to go in order to fill their gaps on both sides of the ball, but Quenton Nelson falling to 6, who could be a future Hall of Fame type player is a great start.

Worst Pick: Josh Allen

May be a cop out here, but Josh Allen could have fallen to them at 12 and Josh Allen is possibly the riskiest proposition of the big 4 QBs. Likely to start early in the season, if not week 1, Allen will have a steep learning curve to overcome if he is to avoid being the next Nathan Peterman.

Picks 11-21 will be up sometime Sunday evening.

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