That was a fairly interesting first round to the NFL draft. I have a bunch of notes on how things have shaken out so far.
The Detroit Lions did the right thing?
It happens from time to time, but Lions fans in my area should be happy that they signed the best Buckeye cornerback.
Obviously new head coach Matt Patricia is from the Bill Belichik school that values a lockdown corner over most other resources, which is right and good.
The 2017 recruiting class keeps haunting Texas fans. The Longhorns were flailing with Charlie Strong and fired him to sign Tom Herman, leading to a transition class in a year when the state of Texas’ prospects included JK Dobbins, Jeff Okudah, CeeDee Lamb, etc.
They did get Sam Ehlinger and Cosmi though, who will appear in the next draft.
Missed opportunity for the Miami Dolphins
When you have three 1st round picks that’s an opportunity to remake your roster with major, roster infrastructure that can set you up for a long time. I appreciate that the Dolphins went all space force with their picks, taking a quarterback, offensive tackle, and cornerback.
I’m not sure they got their bang for their buck though. I went over Tua Tagovailoa the other day, I don’t like him all that much as a savvy field general and the medicals are pretty terrifying as well. Were I the Dolphins I’d either have done what I could to get Burrow or else loaded up with players that would make future picks at quarterback more likely to find success.
Their next two picks were also a little “meh” for 1st rounders. Austin Jackson is pretty well regarded and it’s never a bad idea to get a good tackle early, I don’t know if he’s a great addition. Noah Igbinoghene I would have taken below all the other 1st round cornerbacks, I think. He was a solid press corner for Auburn. Those two picks could be valuable but I don’t know if they hit a home run with either.
The Georgia Bulldog tackle tandem went in the 1st round…
When Nick Saban pulled the plug on Jalen Hurts and got Tua in there to throw RPOs that busted up the Bulldog gameplan, Kirby Smart’s rapid ascendance and near usurping of his longtime boss fell apart with equal speed.
He was able to harness the tremendous resources of Georgia to get that program’s full weight on the field but he did it in emulation of old Alabama, emphasizing physicality and the run game on offense. Imagine having two NFL offensive tackles on your roster and building your offense to have Jake Fromm throw for under 3k yards?
The Dawgs missed the window for finally being the team that out-bammers Alabama.
The 49ers draft a defensive lineman (scheduled headline)
From the 2015 NFL draft to now, the 49ers have made eight 1st round picks. After choosing Davon Kinlaw with the 14th pick of 2020, five of the eight have been defensive linemen.
The 49ers strategy, as best as I can tell, seems to be this: Lean on the infrastructure of Kyle Shanahan’s mind and the versatility of Kyle Juszczyk and George Kittles to power the offense and save money.
And then you have two precious commodities for building out your roster and finding talent to make the rest of the team work. The salary cap and your draft picks. Good defensive linemen are an extremely expensive asset so the 49ers seem to be using the draft to keep their roster stocked with talents that are otherwise hard to come by (300-pound athletes) so they can keep their salary cap powder dry for free agents or retaining key players.
It’s all very solid and reasonable. It won’t beat Pat Mahomes though.
Kliff Kingsbury, the blessed
I’m fairly sure I first gave Kingsbury that nickname because he gave Jim Knowles the “Air Raid baptism” back in 2018, introducing the pressure-oriented defensive coordinator to the nasty reality of defending a modern offense in a 41-17 blowout. After I gave him that nickname he was fired from Texas Tech, landed the OC gig at USC, and then left that job to become the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals.
Then he got the first pick in the 2019 NFL draft and took Kyler Murray. Then Bill O’Brien traded him DeAndre Hopkins for an overpaid, 28-year old running back and some pick exchanges….
Now he got the chance to draft no. 8 in this draft and landed what might be the best player in Isaiah Simmons after the first seven teams all passed on him. Prophecy. #Blessed.
Btw, there was a lot of snark and jokes about Kingsbury parlaying a 35-40 run at Texas Tech where he was 19-35 in the Big 12 into a head coaching job in the NFL. “If he can’t win the Big 12 how’s he going to win in the NFL?”
Well, you NEVER get the 1st or 8th pick of the available talents at Texas Tech, for starters. In terms of building a competitive roster, the Tech job is considerably more difficult than the Cardinals’ position.
But on a deeper level, people are VERY poor at evaluating coaches for future opportunities. It’s about competencies and context. Kingsbury was a phenomenal evaluator of offensive talent at Tech, a brilliant tactician, and a great actual coach in terms of setting up his quarterback.
Each coaching job has a certain list of requirements and areas where a coach needs to excel to make the most of it. A coach can absolutely go 5-7 in one place but fit like a glove and win a championship at another. Texas’ utter inability to move past politics and recognize this reality is a major reason they struggle to put it all together.
Jalen Reagor and TCU’s woes
The narrative of TCU as being an under-powered scrappy team that overachieves within the Big 12 relative to their talent is in MAJOR need of revision.
The major doubts around Reagor going in the 1st round center around the fact that the Frogs weren’t able to make much of his athleticism…because their offense sucked. In the last five years they’ve had 14 players drafted and now four that went in the first round. They regularly recruit at the top of the non-OU/TX heap in the conference. They are 25-20 in Big 12 play over that stretch, thanks mostly to a pair of 11-win seasons that are more and more distant with each year.
There’s a lot riding on this 2020 season with Max Duggan at the helm.
Kenneth Murray at no. 23
I wrote about Kenneth Murray recently, I don’t see a 1st round linebacker but instead a guy with intriguing athleticism and character that needs some time to find a position in the NFL that I think might be 3-4 outside linebacker.
I don’t think New England saw a 1st round linebacker either, and Bill Belichik always sees opportunities to trade down. The Patriots strategy for the post-Brady era seems to be one that we could sum up as, “become an abhorrence to draft Trevor Lawrence.”
Maybe they actually like Jarrett Stidham and think they already have their guy, maybe they’ll draft a dozen players to make up their future roster and aim to get more infrastructure pieces with their picks in 2020 and 2021. I believe they’re actually projected to still be competitive and maybe atop the AFC East in 2020 by Football Outsiders. Still…how remarkable would it be if they went from the Tom Brady era to the Trevor Lawrence.
The Chargers got Murray and added him to Justin Herbert in a double dip 1st round for them. I like that about as much as I like what the Dolphins made of their three day one picks. Not a big believer in Herbert although I haven’t studied him a ton and definitely not a believer in Murray.
It’ll be interesting to see what future rounds hold.
For a background on some of the history of Kliff Kingsbury, the blessed’s football career, read my book!