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Running commentary on the 2018 NFL Draft

Draft King Analysis
April 26, 2018
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com

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Running Commentary on the 2018 NFL Draft

Lou (12:26 p.m. CDT): It's finally here: day one of the 2018 NFL Draft. For as complicated and murky as the process felt last year, this year feels even more unclear, even now just hours away from the start.

The betting line has shifted today to move Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield to the favorite to go #1 overall to Cleveland. But he's not a runaway, holding at -200 on multiple sites as of this writing. You could have had Mayfield at +400 yesterday, which reveals just how tightly Browns GM John Dorsey has been holding the info on his plans for the #1 overall spot.

Much more later, but for now, you can check out my past NFL Draft running commentaries and/or live event experiences:

2004 (Round one)
2004 (Round two)
2005 (Part one)
2005 (Part two)
2005 (Part three)
2012 (Live event)

Lou (1:33 p.m. CDT): Late buzz connecting players to teams includes Ohio State CB Denzel Ward to Denver, Georgia LB Roquan Smith to Indianapolis, and Florida State DB Derwin James to Tampa Bay. We'll see about that, but it makes sense relative to perceived team needs, particularly with the potential opportunity to trade down with a QB-hungry team and still land the desired player.

Also, the Jacksonville Jaguars official team website reports that team owner Shad Khan has made an offer to buy Wembley Stadium in London. Not surprising considering that the Jaguars have intentionally given away a home game every year for several seasons now. The rest of the AFC South sends its collective appreciation on that, by the way.

If you're a Jaguars season ticket holder, you still have to buy two preseason game tickets as part of the package, but you only get seven games instead of eight. That's not a good thing, I should note. Plus, Jacksonville keeps losing plum once-in-eight-years games with popular NFC teams, like the Cowboys in 2014 and the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles this fall. Not unlike the Rams losing the Patriots game to London while they were still in St. Louis, I might add.

Jacksonville fans don't want to end up like St. Louis fans and see their team skip town, though the challenge of having an NFL team playing full-time in England is even more complicated than figuring out how to divvy up the Los Angeles market was.

Lou (1:37 p.m. CDT): The line on Baker Mayfield to Cleveland at #1 has now ballooned to -500 on at least one site.

Lou (1:52 p.m. CDT): And now back down to -450 for Mayfield. Meanwhile, some interesting scoops today from Lance Zierlein, starting with leading the pack on Baker Mayfield to Cleveland at #1 and now saying it's Josh Rosen ahead of Sam Darnold for the Jets at #3 overall.

Lou (2:10 p.m. CDT): Late whispers are connecting Wyoming QB Josh Allen to the New York Jets at #3, which would be an interesting turn of events. The speculation online is growing in volume as the start of round one approaches in less than five hours.

Lou (5:00 p.m. CDT): Mayfield is down to -300, dropping somewhat from his -500 high earlier. He's still the favorite, but Darnold at +175 is still hanging around. The uncertainty about the Browns #1 overall pick choice could go all the way down to the wire.

Lou (5:17 p.m. CDT): I'm particularly intrigued by what the Cowboys will end up doing at #19. Courtland Sutton would seem to fit the bill for a big wide receiver, but instead I projected Maryland WR D.J. Moore to the Cowboys. But keep in mind it's entirely possible, albeit unlikely, that there will won't be any wide receivers drafted tonight in round one.

Lou (6:07 p.m. CDT): Less than an hour to go before the start of the draft. It sounds like the Giants have a very high price tag to move down from #2, and if they really like NC State DE/OLB Bradley Chubb or Penn State RB Saquon Barkley, it's understandable to think "Unrealistic offer or no deal" and go from there. And it's no secret that new Giants GM Dave Gettleman didn't shown an affinity for trading down in round one during his run with Carolina.

Lou (6:14 p.m. CDT): Josh Allen seems to be handling the Twitter screencap controversy about as well as possible. NFL teams that did their due diligence should have already known about this, and it would really surprise me if this caused Allen to slide.

Lou (6:33 p.m. CDT): If Mayfield really is a lock for #1 overall, why has he dropped from -500 to -225 over the past few hours on one major book? And I write this as someone who is very bullish on Mayfield's NFL chances.

Lou (6:58 p.m. CDT): Just moments out from the start of the draft, and it appears the Browns selection at #1 overall will be a true surprise down to the very end.

Lou (7:04 p.m. CDT): ESPN on my primary TV via Dish Network, NFL Network via FOX on an over-the-air antenna on my secondary TV, and Benjamin Allbright and Ari Temkin with a live show on Facebook on my computer. The fun begins very soon.

Lou (7:18 p.m. CDT): And, at long last, it's Cleveland making its selection at #1 overall -- and it's Baker Mayfield! At this point I have to go on a Twitter blackout. My ESPN Dish Network signal is maybe five seconds ahead of NFL Network via WZTV (FOX 17) on my over-the-air antenna, for what it's worth.

Lou (7:21 p.m. CDT): Saquon Barkley to the Giants is my first hit of the night, and I like it for the Giants. Truly high-end running backs still have premium value in the NFL, even with how the game has tilted in favor of passing attacks so heavily over the past 15 or so years.

Lou (7:26 p.m. CDT): And it's Sam Darnold to the Jets at #3 overall. It looks like the Jets' plan to trade up from #6 to #3 worked out rather well, landing a QB many suspected would go #1 overall until this morning.

Lou (7:38 p.m. CDT): Cleveland holds firm at #4 and ends up with Ohio State CB Denzel Ward. I had that link late but ultimately shifted on my final update to Bradley Chubb. Alas. But high-end elite speed is a valuable trait, and Ward has that for sure. Too risky for Cleveland to trade down knowing Denver could end up selecting Ward at #5 overall.

Lou (7:44 p.m. CDT): It's NC State DE Bradley Chubb to the Broncos at #5 overall. The consensus top pass rushing prospect in the draft falls to the Broncos at #5 overall, and Denver had good incentive to decline any possible trade-down offers at that point.

Lou (7:57 p.m. CDT): Hit with my Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson-to-Indy projection at #6, taking some of the sting out of the late switch from Ward at #1. And, as expected, here come the Bills trading up with Tampa Bay at #7.

Draft dominoes: Browns take Ward over Chubb, Denver keeps the #5 pick to take Chubb, Indy keeps #6 for Nelson, then the Bills cut a deal with Tampa Bay. Without giving up the #22 pick, the Bills moved up to select Josh Allen.

It will be very interesting to see how Allen will fare in Buffalo. Allen becoming a star would be good for the NFL, with that insanely great arm strength making him rather fascinating to watch play. And, after playing in Wyoming, Allen clearly knows how to play in cold weather conditions.

Lou (8:01 p.m. CDT): Chicago goes with Georgia LB Roquan Smith at #8 overall. The Bears had several viable defensive front seven options at this spot, but ultimately decided Smith would be the best fit for its defense.

Lou (8:07 p.m. CDT): In a year not seen as terribly strong for offensive tackles, the 49ers opted to take Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey at #9. It was a calculated risk by McGlinchey to pass up the 2017 NFL Draft for another year in South Bend, but it pays off for him as McGlinchey is off the board in the top ten.

Lou: (8:09 p.m. CDT): It's the Cardinals moving up to #10, potentially to take Rosen and jump a possible stopper with Miami at #11. It would make sense for Arizona if that, in fact, is the plan.

Lou: (8:13 p.m. CDT): Rosen in fact was the target for Arizona, and I like the move by the Cardinals. With Carson Palmer finally retired, Sam Bradford provides short-term help with Rosen potentially able to develop into the long-term answer at the position for the Cards.

Lou: (8:17 p.m. CDT): It had been suggested that both Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick and Florida State SS Derwin James would slide out of the top ten, which is what happened. But Fitzpatrick is off the board at #11 with Miami, and it's a pick that makes sense for the Dolphins.

Lou: (8:28 p.m. CDT): Washington DT Vita Vea comes off the board to Tampa Bay at #12. And you were expecting Derwin James, right? Actually, I was at that point, but apparently the Bucs felt adding an interior defensive pass rush threat with incredible strength and size like Vea would be a good addition to Tampa Bay's front seven on defense. I'm fascinated at the idea of Vea and Gerald McCoy playing side-by-side. Opposing offensive line coaches in the division might not share my enthusiasm about that, though.

Lou: (8:31 p.m. CDT): Loud booing from the Dallas fans as the Redskins make their selection at #13 in Alabama DL Da'Ron Payne. It will be very interesting to see if Washington asks Payne to produce more in the pass-rushing department, something he wasn't asked to do all that often at Alabama. I had thought he might slide, but Washington gave Payne the nod at #13.

Lou: (8:37 p.m. CDT): A huge jump by the Saints, trading up with Green Bay to jump from #27 to #14, potentially to select Lamar Jackson from what Mike Mayock is saying on FOX/NFLN. It makes sense, particularly with Drew Brees there to allow Lamar Jackson to learn the system before being pressed into action.

Lou: (8:42 p.m. CDT): I wonder if the Saints are the team that reportedly had Lamar Jackson as their #2 quarterback? Well forget that, the Saints instead picked UTSA DE/OLB Marcus Davenport at #14. I had thought Davenport might be gone to the 49ers at #9 overall, but that didn't happen, and with Davenport still on the board, the Saints made their move.

Lou: (8:52 p.m. CDT): Oakland traded down and still managed to get help on its offensive line with UCLA OT Kolton Miller at #15. Buffalo traded up with Baltimore at #16 to get Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds, a 19-year-old phenom who is long on potential as a high-level pass-rusher.

Lou: (8:59 p.m. CDT): The Chargers were said to be a stopper for Florida State SS Derwin James at #17, and that proved to be true as James came off the board at this point as potentially the biggest steal in this draft. This was my projection, though it was very difficult for me to hold off from matching James to Tampa Bay, as many others were doing late in the process.

Perhaps this was a sign of the times for strong safeties in the NFL.

Lou: (9:04 p.m. CDT): I had Louisville CB Jaire Alexander going at #18, but not to the Packers, who traded up with the Seahawks to fill a big need in its secondary.

And now the Cowboys are on the board! This should be good.

Lou: (9:08 p.m. CDT): One of the great things with the modern era of the travelling draft is the home market reaction to its team's first-round pick. It was great fun last year seeing Derrick Barnett receive a huge ovation from the Philadelphia crowd when the Eagles drafted him in round one.

Lou: (9:13 p.m. CDT): There was plenty of smoke late about Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch being a medical concern, but there was also plenty of chatter that Dallas wanted him -- and they did. LVE will fill a need spot for the Cowboys, with great size for a 4-3 OLB.

Lou: (9:20 p.m. CDT): Detroit perhaps begins a run on interior offensive lineman in snagging Arkansas C Frank Ragnow. He was a late riser in the process, and late-rising OG/C borderline prospects often find a way to work into the back half of round one.

Lou: (9:25 p.m. CDT): I had the right position but wrong player for Cincinnati at #21, projecting Iowa C James Daniels here where it ended up being Ohio State C Billy Price. A fluke injury at the Combine seemed to threaten Price's draft prospects, but Price recovered quickly and ended up coming off the board here to the Bengals.

Lou: (9:27 p.m. CDT): The Titans have traded up from #25 to #22. This should be good.

Lou: (9:33 p.m. CDT): Titans GM Jon Robinson continues his tradition of trading in the first round, moving up three spots to select Alabama ILB Rashaan Evans. Something tells me Robinson didn't think Evans would make it past Belichick and the Patriots at #23. But Evans is an outstanding inside linebacker who will fill a need for an increasingly threatening Titans defense.

Lou: (9:41 p.m. CDT): It's Georgia OL Isaiah Wynn to New England at #23. He missed the cut for my first-round at the very end in a tough deliberation with Will Hernandez and Minnesota at #30. But Wynn built on a great Senior Bowl week into being the #23 overall pick, continuing the run on interior OL going on right now.

Lou: (9:45 p.m. CDT): Oakland trading a third-round pick to Pittsburgh for WR Martavis Bryant was interesting. It's a new era for the Raiders with Jon Gruden around.

At #24, it's Carolina taking the first wide receiver of the 2018 NFL Draft by selecting Maryland WR D.J. Moore. I had thought he would go to Dallas at #19, but he was there for the Panthers. It's going to be great fun to see how Carolina utilizes Moore in coordination with Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton this season. That turned out very well for the Panthers.

Lou: (9:55 p.m. CDT): If the plan for the Ravens really was to trade down and land a tight end, it would to perfect. Moving back twice, from #16 to #22 to #25, Baltimore was able to choose from the entire list of tight ends and select Arkansas' Hayden Hurst. I had thought Hurst might go to the Saints at #27, but that won't be an option for New Orleans.

Lou: (9:58 p.m. CDT): In what I consider a surprise, the Falcons went with neither OL nor DL and instead picked up Alabama WR Calvin Ridley at #26, forming the Crimson Tide Connection with incumbent WR Julio Jones. Expect to hear plenty about that storyline between now and the start of the season.

Lou: (10:06 p.m. CDT): The difficult-to-predict Seahawks went running back with San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny at #27. That should be an interesting fit. Penny is an excellent kick returner and should be able to help out on special teams right away, and he clearly made a strong impression with his solid showing in the Senior Bowl.

Lou: (10:12 p.m. CDT): Great to see Ryan Shazier able to walk and present the #28 selection for the Steelers, Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds. Shazier is still recovering from a severe injury suffered last season, and here's hoping Shazier is able to make a full recovery.

Lou: (10:19 p.m. CDT): It might have been a surprise for the Jaguars to see Florida DT Taven Bryan fall to them at #29 overall. Bryan has proven to be adept as an interior pass rusher and has the athleticism to potentially develop one day into a major star.

Lou: (10:23 p.m. CDT): Mike Hughes goes to Minnesota at #30, and he was a great pickup for a Vikings team needing a nickel cornerback. That Vikings secondary looks quite stout for 2018.

Lou: (10:29 p.m. CDT): The Patriots picked up Georgia RB Sony Michel at #31. As always, it is challenging to predict what the Patriots will do in a given draft, but they picked up a very talented running back with Michel.

Lou: (10:32 p.m. CDT): Here come the Ravens, trading up with the Eagles to #32. Might they be targeting Lamar Jackson?

Lou: (10:34 p.m. CDT): And indeed it is Lamar Jackson going to Baltimore, the final player off the board in round one. Quite the coup for the Ravens, complete with the fifth-year team option that teams only get with first-round selections.

And that's it for round one. Expect plenty of deals being struck between now and the resumption of the draft with round two tomorrow.

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