NFL Draft 2018: Instant grades, reactions for every Round 1 pick

The 2018 NFL Draft is upon us, and we’re handing out instant grades and reacting to every first-round pick on Thursday night.

We’ve been debating about what could happen since last April, but now the debates and opinions become fact — the night of the 2018 NFL Draft has finally arrived. With JerryWorld, er, AT&T Stadium playing host to the draft, Thursday night’s Round 1 was a crapshoot from the very start.

In many cases as it pertains to the NFL Draft, you’re talking about a player as the No. 1 overall pick with relative certainty. That was the case last year with Myles Garrett and it’s the relative norm. However, with this quarterback-heavy 2018 class, that was not the case early on and hasn’t been the case throughout the process. It was clear that we would have to wait until the Cleveland Browns were on the clock.

Those quarterbacks have been the narrative of the 2018 NFL Draft all along though. The top four guys received the most buzz with Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen leading the way — though you’d be remiss to forget about 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson. And when you have quarterbacks of that caliber all in the same draft class, things are expected to get hectic.

We saw that early on in the draft process with the New York Jets trading up with the Indianapolis Colts to get to the third-overall pick. And the Buffalo Bills then set themselves up by picking up the No. 12 pick to go with No. 22 and possibly move up again.

However, we were all waiting for the 2018 NFL Draft and what would actually happen. Now we’re here. And we’ll have all of the picks, instant grades and reactions throughout that you can follow with below:

1. Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

For everyone who thought it was all noise, here’s your smokescreen. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Some people will hate this selection, but they shouldn’t. Mayfield is the most accurate quarterback in the draft and the most pro-ready in my opinion. This is what the Browns need to bring in behind Tyrod Taylor and learn. He’s a leader that establishes the culture for a team who needs it.

Grade: A

2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Saquon Barkley may be the most dynamic running back and offensive playmaker in this draft class. However, this is horrible for the Giants. There was a market for this pick, and they took a running back to run behind one of the worst overall offensive lines in the entire league — even with the addition of Nate Solder. This is fine because he’s so damn good, but it’s not a home run by any stretch.

Grade: B-

3. New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The No. 1 quarterback on the board of most people, this was a gift to the New York Jets right here. He has a solid infrastructure in place with veteran Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater on the roster to let the 20-year old Darnold develop. His upside is the highest of this class and he could be a superstar if they develop him properly.

Grade: A

4. Cleveland Browns (via Texans): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

While many people thought about Bradley Chubb to complement Myles Garrett, this fits a huge need with a monster player in Denzel Ward. He’s quick, skilled and physical, meaning he’s everything you’d want from a cornerback in today’s NFL. The Ohio State product will come in and be the guy for a Browns corner group that’s lacking in the most major way. However, this was a reach.

Grade: C+

5. Denver Broncos: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State

Putting Bradley Chubb opposite of Von Miller has to have the Denver Broncos defense salivating moving forward. They may of lost some pieces this offseason, but that gets them back in a big way. And when they also have a decision to make about the future of Shane Ray, this is a solid pick, if not a hugely flashy one.

Grade: B+

6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Andrew Luck is going to play again in 2018 when it comes to everything coming out of the organization. And the Colts have done a horrible job of protecting their quarterback when healthy, which is why they make this pick here. Quenton Nelson is as close to can’t-miss as they come in the NFL Draft, and that’s what makes him the right call for the Colts here.

Grade: A


7. Buffalo Bills (via Buccaneers): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Trading up to get a quarterback is what the Buffalo Bills should’ve done, and they did so without forfeiting both first-round picks. The problem is that they took the wrong guy. Josh Allen might hit water if he fell out of a boat, but he might not. His accuracy is an issues and arm strength only means so much. This is not good.

Grade: D

8. Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Love it. Roquan Smith is a top five player on my draft board and is the perfect linebacker from the modern NFL. He can cover with anyone at the position and also has elite sideline-to-sideline speed to compete in the running game. He’s perfect for this Bears team that needs that type of infusion of talent on their defense that they’ve been working on.

Grade: A

9. San Francisco 49ers: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Well, the San Francisco 49ers put their money into Jimmy Garoppolo and now they’re going to try and protect him. The Niners are getting the best tackle in this draft and will give the offensive line a replacement for the aging Joe Staley. While it’s not a flashy pick, but this isn’t a bad selection by John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan.

Grade: B


10. Arizona Cardinals (via Raiders): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

With Josh Rosen falling and the Dolphins potentially interested in him at No. 11, the quarterback needy Cardinals jumped at the opportunity to move up and they made the right selection by taking Rosen with the 10th overall pick. He’s not a perfect prospect, but he’s more worthy of being traded up for than Josh Allen, who the Bills previously moved ahead for.

Grade: A-

11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

Minkah Fitzpatrick is a beast and the Miami Dolphins benefit from a bit of a slide for the Alabama defensive back. He’s really a position-less defensive back that can do whatever you ask from him. Safety, corner, nickelback, it doesn’t matter — Fitzpatrick will be able to succeed while also providing the Dolphins defense with a leader and alpha in the secondary.

Grade: A

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via Bills): Vita Vea, DT, Washington

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded back and acquired two second-round picks, which you have to like as they need more draft capital. What’s more, it’s clear that Bucs are focusing on building the defensive front this offseason and Vita Vea is a huge addition to the mix, literally and figuratively. He’s a beast that can make an impact, but he’s not as good of a pick as Derwin James would’ve been.

Grade: B-

13. Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Man, I don’t like this at all. While Da’Ron Payne fills a need in consideration of what he does well (stopping the run) and what the Redskins need (to stop the run), this is way high to take the Alabama product. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t take a safety here, but this doesn’t make great sense to me.

Grade: C-


14. New Orleans Saints (via Packers): Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA

Right before this pick was made, the blow was softened by Ian Rapaport as he said this was possible. But even then, this feels unreal. To trade a up 13 spots and give up a first-rounder next year is a huge move, and they did so to get a raw player who may not help contribute to a possible Super Bowl run that they have the talent to make and isn’t a quarterback. This feels like a mistake in a big way.

Grade: D

15. Oakland Raiders (via Cardinals): Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

The Raiders traded down and needed a linebacker as they have for a long time. However, the rumors that they coveted a new offensive tackle and McGlinchey going at No. 9 makes it seem as if they’re really want to address the future of the offensive line. Kolton Miller, however, is an odd choice. He’s a tremendous athlete no doubt, but his ability as a tackle isn’t on tape right now. This is an odd, odd pick. Thankfully, they at least traded up to do it.

Grade: D


16. Buffalo Bills (via Ravens): Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

This is absolutely beautiful by the Bills after they made a perceived mistake (by me) to trade up for Josh Allen. Tremaine Edmunds might be the best athlete in the class and definitely at linebacker and he’s only 19 years old right now. He has limitless potential and could even contribute right away. This is a guy worth trading up for and they use their second first-round pick to do so.

Grade: A

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida State

There is literally no way that Derwin James should have fallen this far. For me, he’s a top-five player that can do it all. He’s a safety with elite athleticism that simply makes plays in every aspect and level of the game on the defensive side of the ball. With that, with the reports about his leadership ability as an alpha-dog in the locker room, and with the Chargers need at safety, this is a home run.

Grade: A


18. Green Bay Packers (via Seahawks): Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

I like this pick a great deal for the Green Bay Packers and the idea that they were able to garner a first-round pick for 2019 in doing so after making a deal with the Saints earlier at their original pick (14). Alexander fits exactly what they need in the secondary and can be a playmaker for them in an area where they don’t particularly have one.

Grade: A

19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Leighton Vander Esch is a talented player with great athletic traits. What’s more, his production last season with Boise State was great. However, he only has that one season of production, which is scary. And while the Cowboys need a linebacker, it’s not their most pressing need and they could have taken Calvin Ridley or any receiver that could be their WR1 on the board. It’s not the worst pick, but I’m not huge on it.

Grade: C

20. Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

Ragnow is an absolute beast and, behind Quenton Nelson, some have the Razorback as the second-best overall offensive lineman in this class. I’m not one of those people, but the guy is extremely talented. I would’ve preferred to see the Lions go with a defensive player here, but they needed to make something happen up front with an upgrade and they do that here. Not flashy, not great — but not bad.

Grade: B-

21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Bills): Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State

Everyone seemed to have Ragnow mocked to the Bengals, but with him going at No. 20, that leaves them to take Billy Price. Even still, that’s a good pick for what they need. After trading for Cordy Glenn, they really still needed to upgrade every other position and Price affords them that opportunity with the ability to play center or either guard spot. Nice pickup for Cincinnati to turn No. 12 into two starting offensive linemen.

Grade: A


22. Tennessee Titans (via Ravens from Bills): Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

With the departure of Avery Williamson in free agency, the Tennessee Titans were left in a tough spot moving forward as they need a speedy run-stopper with upside. They must’ve felt that Evans was about to be nabbed by the Patriots and they traded up to get a guy that will fill the hole left by Williamson. While it’s better without trading up, it’s still a nice move for the Titans.

Grade: B

23. New England Patriots (via Rams): Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia

Isaiah Wynn played tackle in college, but most have projected him as a guard (which he also saw time at) in the NFL. However, with the hole at tackle for the Patriots, you have to wonder if they’re going to put him on the edge and at least try him out. Either way, he’s a terrific player that the Patriots will surely make the most of moving forward.

Grade: B

24. Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

The Carolina Panthers came into this draft needing a wide receiver in a bad, bad way to help Cam Newton and they get their pick of the litter and hit a home run with a home-run hitter, D.J. Moore. With the playmakers they now have in the Queen City, this offense can be a bit explosive and really make some things happen.

Grade: A

25. Baltimore Ravens (via Titans): Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

Look, I understand that the Ravens do need a tight end to help with Joe Flacco’s weaponry and Hayden Hurst has talent. But he’s not my TE1 on the draft board, he’s older after trying his hand at pro baseball, and I’d have rather seen Baltimore go wide receiver. It’s not a horrible pick by any stretch, but I’m just not with it.

Grade: C-

26. Atlanta Falcons: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Though Mohamed Sanu has been good for the Falcons, they really needed a complement to run opposite of Julio Jones in a big way (or maybe there is something to the social media drama with Jones?). However, this is a weird pick to me. I don’t know how they pass on someone like Taven Bryan at defensive tackle or Will Hernandez at guard. It’s a weird pick.

Grade: C-

27. Seattle Seahawks (via Packers from Saints): Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

The Seahawks needed a running back and Rashaad Penny could provide stability. But man, this is way early for him in my opinion as he’s the No. 5 running back on my board and only one had been taken at this point. What’s more, with some talented offensive linemen on the board and sudden holes at defense, this feels very, very bad for Seattle.

Grade: F

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech

I give Ryan Shazier an A+ because him walking to the podium is truly amazing. There is no way to quantify how incredible of a moment that is for the Steelers linebacker.

But man, what is going on with this pick? I know they needed a safety and Terrell Edmunds is a great athlete, but this is about three rounds too early for the player that he is. It’s clouded by the Shazier moment, but this pick is the worst of the first round, and that’s saying something.

Grade: F

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

Yes, the Jaguars could’ve used offense, but they might be the perfect fit for a guy like Taven Bryan given their loaded defense. The upside of Bryan is tremendous, but the consistency isn’t. Coming in to a defense that has officially arrived, he won’t be asked to do too much early and can slot in rotationally and potentially develop into a massive asset in Jacksonville.

Grade: B

30. Minnesota Vikings: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

This is perfect for the Minnesota Vikings. They need some youth and depth at cornerback right now and Hughes is perfect for them. He’s an all-around player that can make an impact right away and compete at nickel corner with the ability to move outside moving forward. That’s a great get for this team as they look to get to a Super Bowl after signing Kirk Cousins.

Grade: A 

31. New England Patriots: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

This team dips back into the Georgia well with their second first-round selection and Sony Michel is a fantastic player. After losing Dion Lewis this offseason, you might say they need a player that can be somewhat of a bell cow in the committee — though Jeremy Hill makes you question that slightly. However, I don’t hate this pick at all, though I don’t love it either.

Grade: B-


32. Baltimore Ravens (via Eagles): Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Call me crazy, but I love this for the Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco isn’t the answer and that’s become clearer on an annual basis. Now they get an elite athlete with insane levels of potential as a game-changing quarterback in Lamar Jackson that could be able to overtake Flacco in the next couple of years. I love this pick.

Grade: A

The 2018 NFL Draft is full of talent that has franchise-changing potential. But as is the beauty of the draft, it’s all about making the right pick in the right spot.