After long months of waiting and weeks of increasing anticipation, the first round of the 2019 NFL draft came and went. With surprising selections and several trades throughout the night, day one certainly lived up to the hype.
The Cleveland Browns were the only AFC North team without a first-round selection after trading theirs (No. 17) to the New York Giants as part of the deal for Odell Beckham Jr. The other three teams - Ravens, Steelers, Bengals - entered the night with picks under their belt and were in good positions to address roster needs.
They did just that, but how good was the value of each pick? Take a look below for some analysis and stay tuned for more pick-by-pick grades to come on day two and three of the draft.
Selection: Devin Bush, LB (Michigan)
The Steelers entered the night holding the 20th overall pick, but traded with the Denver Broncos to jump up 10 spots. In addition to swapping first-round picks, the Steelers gave up their second-round pick in this year’s draft (No. 52) and a third-round pick in 2020. Pittsburgh clearly wanted Devin Bush and weren’t confident he’d fall to them. Bush is the second-best linebacker prospect in this class behind Devin White. While undersized, Bush compensates for great speed and coverage ability. He may be overpowered at times but Bush is good at pursuing ball-carriers and can get to the quarterback. It’s hard to fault Pittsburgh for getting their guy and filling a position of need. The only thing keeping this grade from being higher is the capital they had to give up in order to do so.
Selection: Jonah Williams, OT (Alabama)
With both Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock on the board, many, including myself, thought the Bengals might take a quarterback with the 11th pick in the first round. However, they opted to go the safe route and take Jonah Williams, whom many consider to be the best offensive tackle in the draft. Williams is versatile but figures to slot in as the Bengals left tackle next season and for the foreseeable future. This pick all but ensures Cincinnati will part ways with Cordy Glenn and/or Bobby Hart. What he lacks in arm length Williams makes up for with grit, technique, and consistency. The addition of Williams is both a short-term upgrade and carries long-term implications. Hard not to like this move by the Bengals.
Selection: Marquise Brown, WR (Oklahoma)
Rather than making their pick at #22, the Ravens, in what should have come as no surprise, traded back three spots with the Philadelphia Eagles. At #25, the Ravens still had several offensive line options to choose from, a top pass-rusher in Montez Sweat, and all of the top receivers still on the board. They opted to address the latter, taking Marquise “Hollywood” Brown out of Oklahoma. The cousin of former division rival Antonio Brown, Marquise is an electric playmaker with blazing speed. He’s adept as beating press coverage and creating separation, two qualities the Ravens currently lack. He’s a bit undersized and is currently recovering from a Lisfranc fracture, but Brown’s upside is high and his skill set figures to immediately translate to the NFL. Acquiring additional picks and still getting the guy they wanted - solid night for Eric DeCosta and company.