It was a night of firsts during Round One of the 2019 NFL Draft. After all, some short guy went first overall. More importantly for those of us who play in IDP leagues, a record 14 players from the defensive front seven went in the first round. Fourteen! Let’s run down the picks and give a brief analysis on each of the IDP players taken in Round One.
Nick Bosa, DE SF (#2 Overall)
Bosa was one of the few locks coming into the draft and went at the top of the draft, as expected. He has the speed, power and pedigree to be an IDP dynamo for the long-term. Bosa joins Solomon Thomas, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Dee Ford on the 49ers defensive line. Even with that collection of high selections, production has been scarce – Bosa should change that.
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Quinnen Williams, DT NYJ (#3 Overall)
Most thought Williams was the most talented player in this draft. A big body who can push the pocket from the middle, he was announced as a nose tackle. With that in mind, he’ll slide right next to former sixth-overall pick Leonard Williams, giving the Jets a formidable front line. Couple Williams with free agent signee CJ Mosley and New York has solidified the middle of its defense. Draft him with confidence, even in non-DT-required leagues.
Clelin Ferrell, DE OAK (#4 Overall)
The first turning point of the night came early on as the Raiders snagged the Clemson star. Ferrell was the biggest name from the Tigers’ championship defensive line, returning to school for his senior season chasing a title. He immediately steps in as the Raiders best pass rusher. And yes, I know they took Arden Key last year. He should slot in behind Bosa as the rookie DE2.
Devin White, LB TB (#5 Overall)
With Kwon Alexander moving on to San Francisco, it makes sense the Bucs would take another LSU linebacker to take his place. Lucky for them, White is the best pure off-ball linebacker in the draft. He has the speed to cover receivers across the middle and is an explosive tackler in the run game. White should slide right into the WLB spot vacated by Alexander and I would expect him to put up similar numbers out of the gate. Take him as the top linebacker and reap your rewards.
Josh Allen, EDGE JAX (#7 Overall)
If Jacksonville is known for one thing, it’s having a nasty defense. Allen was arguably the best pure pass rusher in this draft class and should be a perfect fit. Allen can play with his hand in the dirt or standing up and has the athleticism to cover. With that versatility, the Jags could couple him with Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell on the line or add him to Myles Jack and Telvin Smith at the linebacker level. If he gets the LB tag, his value might slip a bit, but I think he’s good enough to warrant a selection as one of the early IDPs off the board in your draft.
Ed Oliver, DT BUF (#9 Overall)
The adage goes that if you want a strong defense, you build it up the middle – that’s exactly what Buffalo has done with its last two first round picks. After taking linebacker Terrell Edmunds last year, the Bills added a lineman who some have compared to Aaron Donald. Oliver spent his time at Houston playing on the nose and being double and sometimes triple-teamed. He should move to his more natural 3-tech position (4-3 defensive tackle), thus generating even more pressure. In a DT-required league, Oliver should be at the top of your IDP rookie ranks.
Devin Bush, LB PIT (#10 Overall)
The Steelers traded up to get Bush, who finished an eyelash behind White in all the combine testing. The former Wolverine can chase and tackle, but his best skill might be blitzing up the middle. Everyone knows about the Steelers’ tradition at linebacker, but that spot hasn’t been a strength in recent seasons. Bush should be the second linebacker taken in your rookie draft after White and a top five rookie IDP selection in any format.
Rashan Gary, DE GB (#12 Overall)
Gary was the classic case of a player having all the talent in the world, but lacking the numbers to back that up. However, if the Packers can maximize that talent, they have replaced the dynamic pass rusher they lost in Clay Matthews. During the ABC broadcast, it was speculated that perhaps Green Bay would slide Gary back to the OLB spot Matthews once occupied. I personally don’t think that would work, as his best traits all involve him chasing the quarterback, not dropping into coverage. He does have boom/bust potential, so draft accordingly.
Christian Wilkins, DT MIA (#13 Overall)
A force in the middle, Wilkins should provide some stability to a Dolphins defense that really struggled last season. It’s no secret Miami is rebuilding on both sides of the ball and Wilkins is a solid building block. There is a ton of opportunity on the Dolphins defensive line and he does a good job pushing the pocket and led the Tigers with ten passes deflected in 2016. Feel safe about selecting him in DT-required leagues.
Brian Burns, EDGE CAR (#16 Overall)
Speed, speed, speed – that is Burns’ game. The Panthers signed Bruce Irvin last month to chase quarterbacks, but he is 31 years old. Burns plays much better out of a three-point stance, so expect him to play more defensive end. However, Burns is not terrific in the run game, so that will cap his IDP value, doubly so if he gets smacked with the linebacker tag.
Dexter Lawrence, DT NYG (#17 Overall)
A big man with nimble feet, Lawrence will carry more NFL value than IDP value. The third member of that vaunted Clemson line, Lawrence has a great motor and plays with plenty of power. He did fail a drug test that held him out of the College Football Playoff, however. Even in DT-required leagues, I struggle to find a ton of IDP value for Lawrence.
Jeffrey Simmons, DT TEN (#19 Overall)
He’s had a long road to get to the NFL, but once he gets there, he’ll produce. The problem is, you’ll have to wait a year to see that value. Simmons tore his ACL in February, so don’t expect immediate results. His run-in with the law his senior year of high school is well documented, but the talent on the field is unmistakeable and he kept his nose clean while at Mississippi State. If you are willing to be patient, Simmons is someone to invest in for DT-required leagues.
Darnell Savage, S GB (#21 Overall)
The drafting of Savage may have been the biggest head-scratcher of the whole night, though Giants fans may beg to differ. The Packers traded up to take Savage and while he did run a 4.36, 40-yard dash and has good ball skills, Savage was someone who could have likely been there at No. 30 overall. Instead, the Giants traded up to take him. Truth be told, I’m not crazy about this pick and I would probably fade Savage in my rookie drafts. He might be worth a flyer if your league scores interceptions highly, though.
Montez Sweat, EDGE WAS (#26 Overall)
Washington traded up to land a coveted pass rusher. Sweat was diagnosed with a heart condition at the combine, but still ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. Couple Sweat with other pieces Washington has added (Reuben Foster and Landon Collins) this off-season and that suddenly has the makings of a strong defense. I like Sweat a bunch, but on a defense that was already pretty solid IDP-wise, I wonder if there will be enough sacks to go around. Plus, he’ll probably get the LB designation, which will drop his value.
Johnathan Abram, S OAK (#27 Overall)
Abram is a classic in-the-box safety who will knock your lights out. He is a bit of a liability in the passing game, so he may end up losing some snaps. However, with a weak linebacking corps, he’ll still get more than his fair share of tackles. Abram was my S1 going into the draft and he remains that way after this selection.
Jerry Tillery, DT LAC (#28 Overall)
Death, taxes, and the Chargers taking a defensive line beast in the first round. Tillery was announced as a DT, but I think he could kick out to a 3-4 DE and be even more effective. Simply put, he is a powerful man in the middle and carries more value as a 3-4 DE, but he may get the DT tag early on. Still, he’s worth a shot in the later end of your draft.
LJ Collier, DE SEA (#29 Overall)
Collier is a big body who plays with power. However, he can play too high at times. After trading Frank Clark to Kansas City earlier this week, Collier should slot right into the rotation. Even with those snaps, I would only take Collier if I felt I was receiving good value.
Deandre Baker, CB NYG (#30 Overall)
The first corner off the board, Baker is a ball hawk and does a good job of pinning his man against the sideline. He played almost exclusively man-to-man at Georgia, so he’ll need to get comfortable with zone concepts. If you play in a CB-required league that scores interceptions heavily, Baker is someone to target in the final round. Otherwise, I usually pass on CBs in a rookie draft.