The Los Angeles Chargers' selection of Derwin James with the 17th pick may end up being one of the steals of the first round
All 256 picks have been made and the 2018 NFL Draft is officially in the books for all 32 franchises. Ask any executive or coach around the league at this point, they’ll be sure to tell you they found that missing piece and are thrilled with the group they got, which will help their team get over the hump and to the Super Bowl.
While it’s too soon to say exactly how every draft pick will pan out, we can look at the value teams got from certain picks and which ones caused a few head scratches around the league. With that in mind, here are the best picks from each team and, of course, their worst.
Best pick: Josh Rosen, QB, Round 1 (10th overall)
Worst pick: Chase Edmonds, RB, Round 4 (134th overall)
General manager Steve Keim has to be thrilled with this draft as it sets the foundation for the franchise the next several years and keeps them competitive in the tough NFC West. Rosen is a steal at No. 10 given his position as the best pure passer in the draft and him landing in a dome even further enhances his stock going forward. He’ll be able to learn behind Sam Bradford and will get to develop report with their second-round steal in Christian Kirk. Edmonds isn’t a terrible fit as a special teams player and backup to David Johnson but he went a little early in the fourth.
Best pick: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Round 2 (58th overall)
Worst pick: Russell Gage, WR, Round 6 (194th overall)
After knocking on the doorstep of another NFC title game, this just might be the kind of class that gets the Falcons back to that point. There’s great value in first-rounder Calvin Ridley, who many thought was the best receiver in the draft, but there’s even more in their second-round pick, Oliver. He’s somebody many thought could go in the first and certainly has the versatility to shore up that pass defense. Gage is somebody they could have gotten much later and will need to make his name on special teams.
Best pick: DeShon Elliott, S, Round 6 (190th overall)
Worst pick: Jordan Lasley, WR, Round 5 (162nd overall)
General manager Ozzie Newsome’s final draft with the team is one of his best. The long-term quarterback was secured in Lamar Jackson and there’s skill position players like tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews who can help right away. There’s high upside fits like Kenny Young at linebacker and Jaleel Scott, which is a better pick than Lasley, the wideout they grabbed earlier in the same round. Elliott in particular fell because of various issues but he’s a straight-up steal in the sixth and will learn a ton from Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson.
Best pick: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Round 1 (16th overall)
Worst pick: Austin Proehl, WR, Round 7 (255th overall)
The Bills have to be really happy with the value they get in Edmunds and DT Harrison Phillips, two guys who should have gone a little earlier and have a chance to be mainstays on defense for some time to come. Of course, this draft is all about the quarterback and there’s no question that Allen is a risky pick. All the metrics say he won’t pan out and while there’s a chance he will work out eventually, seventh is still way too high for a 56 percent passer with a steep learning curve.
Best pick: Donte Jackson, CB, Round 2 (55th overall)
Worst pick: Jermaine Carter, LB, Round 5 (161st overall)
Very solid draft for the Panthers, who made it a clear priority to give Cam Newton some more options in WR D.J. Moore and TE Ian Thomas. The steal is Jackson though, who fills a huge need on the team and has perhaps the biggest upside in this class of corners if he continues to progress. Carter is undersized and certainly would have been available much later on so that’s a bit of a missed opportunity with a fifth-rounder. Also, where are the offensive linemen?
Best pick: Anthony Miller, WR, Round 2 (51st overall)
Worst pick: Bilal Nichols, DL, Round 5 (145th overall)
General manager Ryan Pace gets a pat on the back for this draft and each of his first three picks could wind up starting in Week 1. Linebacker Roquan Smith is a tremendous player who can be the man in the middle for the next decade captaining the defense while offensive lineman James Daniels can fill in at all three interior line spots. Miller is a fantastic wideout who will quickly be Mitchell Trubisky’s favorite target on third down. Nichols doesn’t have as much pass rush upside as you’d like for a small school guy in the fifth round though.
Best pick: Malik Jefferson, LB, Round 3 (78th overall)
Worst pick: Billy Price, OC, Round 1 (21st overall)
The Bengals had a good weekend at the draft and might have grabbed rookies who will be able to have an impact. Price is a quality player who could turn into a multi-Pro Bowler given his technique and ability but 21 is too high for him in the first. Jefferson has the athleticism to turn into a starter and will be a great fit trying to turnover that linebacking corps. Don’t sleep on safety Jessie Bates either.
Best pick: Genard Avery, LB, Round 5 (150th overall)
Worst pick: Denzel Ward, CB, Round 1 (4th overall)
Much of this draft will come down to the bet the team has made on Baker Mayfield compared to his quarterback peers in this class. Time will tell on that end but don’t discount the former walk-on who put together the two best seasons in NCAA history for a signal-caller. There are some high-upside picks in Antonio Callaway and Chad Thomas but Avery and RB Nick Chubb could be long-term contributors on both sides of the ball and special teams. Ward can become a lockdown corner with his ball skills and speed but fourth overall seems awfully high for a smaller corner and you can bet they could have found better value trading out of that spot.
Best pick: Connor Williams, OL, Round 2 (50th overall)
Worst pick: Mike White, QB, Round 5 (171st overall)
Jerry Jones should get plenty of praise for doing a great job hosting the draft and following that up with a draft class that can contribute right away for a team trying to bounce back in 2018. Leighton Vander Esch gives the team a heck of a linebacker corps and there’s big upside in Dorance Armstrong Jr. off the edge. Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson aren’t one-for-one replacements for Dez Bryant but they are better than some options on the roster right now. White is a really good prospect at QB actually but isn’t quite a fit in Dallas as Dak Prescott;s backup. Williams could have been a top-20 pick a year ago but instead lands at No. 50 after an injury-filled final year down the road in Austin.
Best pick: Bradley Chubb, DE, Round 1 (5th overall)
Worst pick: David Williams, RB, Round 7 (226th overall)
I love what the Broncos did in the draft, finding some more weapons on offense to help out newly signed quarterback Case Keenum. WR Courtland Sutton is a first-round talent at No. 40 overall and DaeSean Hamilton was a favorite of many in the lead up to the draft. Chubb can be a monster on that defense learning his craft from Von Miller and it wouldn’t be surprising if Keishawn Bierria sticks on the roster alongside tackling machine Josey Jewell. The Williams selection was late in the final round but could have been an UDFA selection for the team and was not a need after taking Royce Freeman in the third.
Best pick: Tyrell Crosby, OL, Round 5 (153rd overall)
Worst pick: Kerryon Johnson, RB, Round 2 (43rd overall)
The Lions’ fourth- and fifth-rounders were the highlight of their draft. Crosby was a guy some had pegged as a Day 2 pick and yet he falls way down to them in the fifth at a position of need along the line. Da’Shawn Hand is a former No. 1 recruit who Matt Patricia will love and he could be a better pro than college player. The Lions passed on running backs like Derrius Guice to grab Johnson, who they might have gotten later even if he turns into their No. 1 ball carrier.
Green Bay Packers
Best pick: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Round 6 (207th overall)
Worst pick: Hunter Bradley, LS, Round 7 (239th overall)
Brian Gutekunst’s first draft as general manager is an excellent start to his tenure in Green Bay, filling needs at corner with two good ones in Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson while also grabbing value in Cole Madison in the fifth. The Packers really stacked up at wideout and it’s hard to believe St. Brown lasted until the seventh round as he’s a guy who could turn into an Aaron Rodgers favorite — especially in the red zone.
Best pick: Justin Reid, S, Round 3 (68th overall)
Worst pick: Jordan Akins, TE, Round 3 (98th overall)
Deshaun Watson kind of has to be figured into this class given how many picks they gave up in 2018 to get him last year. Still Reid is an excellent first pick and was somebody many thought could have gone in the top 40 of the draft. He’s more polished than his brother Eric coming into the league and could be a starter right away. Akins was an interesting selection in the top 100 over some other options and might be the second-best tight end in this draft class for the Texans.
Best pick: Quenton Nelson, OG, Round 1 (6th overall)
Worst pick: Daurice Fountain, WR, Round 5 (159th overall)
GM Chris Ballard had a lot of picks to play with and used many of them wisely to help restock that Colts’ roster. Nelson has the potential to be one of the best guards of recent memory and instantly boosts the run game as well as protect Andrew Luck, whenever he gets back. Fountain was a bit of a reach despite being a fast-riser in the pre-draft run up and might not be better than Deon Cain, who was picked later on. Running back Nyheim Hines is a sneaky-good selection in the fourth round.
Best pick: Ronnie Harrison, S, Round 3 (93rd overall)
Worst pick: Tanner Lee, QB, Round 6 (203rd overall)
There are not a ton of roster holes to fill for Jacksonville but they had an A+ first two days given the picks that simply fell into their laps. Taven Bryan adds yet another incredible defensive lineman to the front seven and wide receiver D.J. Chark can step in right away on the outside. Harrison is a straight steal at No. 93 and could be Barry Church’s replacement down the road. Not sure what happened on Day 3 but picking Lee (who does have upside as a developmental guy) seems like a wasted pick and the Jaguars grabbed a punter too.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best pick: Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Round 3 (100th overall)
Worst pick: Reginald McKenzie, OG, Round 6 (198th overall)
No first-rounder due to the Patrick Mahomes trade but the Chiefs did well despite not having a ton of picks this year. O’Daniel has a rare feel for the game and should be a top special teams player right away while he carves out his role on defense (he’ll be a perfect third-down guy too). Armani Watts is excellent value in the fourth round as a thumper. But Drafting McKenzie, a long-time defensive tackle, to be a guard is a bit of a head-scratcher for a team that still has a few holes.
Los Angeles Chargers
Best pick: Derwin James, DB, Round 1 (17th overall)
Worst pick: Dylan Cantrell, WR, Round 6 (191st overall)
Yet another really good draft from the Chargers and that’s not even factoring in last year’s first-rounder Mike Williams essentially carrying over as a bonus in 2018. James could be a regular Pro Bowler and may have been the best value pick in the first round by a mile when all is said and done. Justin Jackson is a terrific pick to serve as Melvin Gordon’s backup and you can really only argue about Cantrell being a bit of a reach as a sixth-rounder given how he might struggle at the next level against some better defensive backs.
Los Angeles Rams
Best pick: John Kelly, RB, Round 6 (176th overall)
Worst pick: John Franklin-Myers, DE, Round 4 (135th overall)
Add in all the trades the team made pre-draft and you walk away impressed with the state of the roster in Los Angeles. It’s hard to believe they were able to land productive college players like tackling machine Micah Kiser and edge rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo in the fifth round and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips can maximize both of their talents at the next level. Franklin-Myers felt like a reach at No. 135 after a few teams started to move him up as the draft process went on.
Best pick: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Round 1 (11th overall)
Worst pick: Durham Smythe, TE, Round 4 (123rd overall)
It’s pretty clear the team still believes in Ryan Tannehill given how the Dolphins went out and got him some weapons in this draft, including a guy who can flex out in TE Mike Gesiciki. Defensively they got a lot faster and Ftizpatrick is a perfect fit for a team that has to play guys like Rob Gronkowski twice a year. Smythe is going to be a good blocker at the next level but doesn’t add a ton beyond that so the fourth round seems a tad high even if there was a run on the position at the time.
Best pick: Ade Aruna, DE, Round 6 (218th overall)
Worst pick: Daniel Carlson, K, Round 5 (167th overall)
Another team that doesn’t have a ton of open roster spots, the Vikings grabbed a lot of guys based on potential that could still help them out right away. First-rounder Mike Hughes can add some juice to the secondary either outside or in the slot and Brian O’Neill might be able to crack the lineup at right tackle coming out of camp. Aruna is an interesting prospect who is just scratching the surface of what he can do and is a great pick that late in the sixth round. Given what Mike Zimmer has done with guys like Danielle Hunter, Aruna seems like a great understudy. Carlson is a great, reliable kicker but he’s not much different from Kai Forbath who the team just re-signed — a fifth-round pick that could have been better used elsewhere.
New England Patriots
Best pick: Braxton Berrios, WR, Round 6 (210th overall)
Worst pick: Danny Etling, QB, Round 7 (219th overall)
There was a ton of optimism around New England over a bold move but it turns out it was just Belichick going Belichick come draft time like always with numerous trades back and hardly any “exciting” picks among this group. RB Sony Michel, LB Christian Sam, CB Duke Dawson and top pick Isaiah Wynn all can crack the two-deep right away and contribute but their upside is a bit more limited than other options. The Etling selection makes absolutely zero sense even if he is just going to be a backup.
New Orleans Saints
Best pick: Will Clapp, OL, Round 7 (245th overall)
Worst pick: Boston Scott, RB, Round 6 (201st overall)
This was a bit of a head-scratching draft for the Saints, who will mostly be judged long term on whether or not it was wise to move up to get first-rounder Marcus Davenport at No. 14. While he can boost the pass rush, that was a lot to give up for a guy that is still pretty raw and played at a lower level. Clapp could have gone much higher and is versatile enough to serve as a valuable backup at all three interior line spots. The pick of Scott is puzzling as he’s 5-foot-6 and a special teams guy at most who could have been signed after the draft was over.
New York Giants
Best pick: Will Hernandez, OG, Round 2 (34th overall)
Worst pick: Kyle Lauletta, QB, Round 4 (108th overall)
The Giants have to be extremely happy at their haul over the first two days of the draft, landing a potential rookie of the year in Saquon Barkley and maybe the top guard in the draft in Hernandez, who was taken early in the second round. Both will be instant starters for a team that could make the playoffs and don’t sleep on Lorenzo Carter or B.J. Hill making some noise. With just one selection after the fourth round, it was a bit puzzling while they opted to grab Lauletta there instead of trading back for more picks or going with somebody with a higher upside later.
New York Jets
Best pick: Sam Darnold, QB, Round 1 (3rd overall)
Worst pick: Trenton Cannon, RB, Round 6 (204th overall)
The team tried to tank for Darnold and it actually worked, even if it didn’t quite happen come draft time like some thought. Still, he’s the quarterback of the future and might have the highest upside of any of the five picked in the first round. Excellent value in the sixth round to get the speedy Parry Nickerson but with only six picks in the entire draft, seems like using one on a special teamer like Cannon is questionable.
Best pick: Maurice Hurst, DT, Round 5 (140th overall)
Worst pick: Kolton Miller, OT, Round 1 (15th overall)
Al Davis would have loved this draft as there are a ton of athletes that catch your eye like WR Marcell Ateman and edge guy Arden Key. Hurst might wind up being the steal of the draft after starting the process off as some folks’ top DT before a medical condition was discovered during the Scouting Combine. If he’s good to go, he’ll be a great fit on that defense. Miller has upside given his length but are we really going to trust offensive line coach Tom Cable to get the most out of him?
Best pick: Dallas Goedert, TE, Round 2 (49th overall)
Worst pick: Jorda Mallata, OT, Round 7 (233rd overall)
The defending champs only had five picks but you have to like what they did with four of them a lot. Grabbing a guy named Dallas in Dallas just before the TE-needy Cowboys were set to pick is an excellent troll move and Goedert will be an early contributor given how well he can get open. Defensive end Josh Sweat has a ton of upside if he’s fully healthy and is good value in the fourth round. Matt Pryor is a nice backup option at tackle but you don’t quite know what the team was thinking wasting one of their five picks on Mallata, a rugby player who has never played football.
Best pick: Marcus Allen, S, Round 5 (148th overall)
Worst pick: Terrell Edmunds, S, Round 1 (28th overall)
The team really needed help in the secondary after that playoff exit last season yet made a big reach for Edmunds, who was not anywhere near the value they get in Allen out of the fifth round. I love what the Steelers did on offense otherwise, as James Washington makes that receiving corps even more dangerous and teammate Mason Rudolph has just the kind of downfield arm to be Big Ben’s successor.
San Francisco 49ers
Best pick: D.J. Reed, CB, Round 5 (142nd overall)
Worst pick: Dante Pettis, WR, Round 2 (44th overall)
GM John Lynch is getting the hang of this draft stuff with yet another quality effort in April for the 49ers. Obviously you can’t discount the addition of Jimmy G. with one of these picks but it was a pretty good draft adding weapons for him and boosting the defense. Reed is a steal that late in the draft and can start Week 1 in the slot. Pettis will be a dangerous weapon as a returner and is a great option out of the slot but it felt like he went at least a round too early and could have been had if the team traded back.
Best pick: Shaquem Griffin, LB, Round 5 (141st overall)
Worst pick: Rashaad Penny, RB, Round 1 (27th overall)
The story of the 2018 NFL Draft has always been Griffin and that was definitely the case when he completed the storybook rise to get picked in the fifth round. As cool as it is for him to be reunited with his brother in Seattle, that’s just about as good of a fit as you could ask for because Pete Carroll will find ways to maximize his skill set. Otherwise this was a really good draft for the team with the exception of the huge reach for Penny in the first round (though he’s a pretty good fit in terms of running style). There was seriously no team to trade back with?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Best pick: Carlton Davis, CB, Round 2 (63rd overall)
Worst pick: Justin Watson, WR, Round 5 (144th overall)
I’m a big fan of the way this draft class came together as top pick Vita Vea can develop into a beast at defensive tackle alongside Gerald McCoy and Ronald Jones II might be the starting tailback right away. Davis is as tough as they come at corner and it’s hard to believe he was still there with the third of those second-round picks. Watson is an interesting prospect in the fifth but doesn’t add a ton of special teams value, which he’ll need trying to get one of those last WR spots.
Best pick: Harold Landry, Edge, Round 2 (41st overall)
Worst pick: Luke Falk, QB, Round 6 (199th overall)
Thanks to a bunch of trades, the Titans made just four picks over three days of the draft. While it’s a small class, it’s a potentially impactful one as new head coach Mike Vrabel has two guys who he could develop into regular Pro Bowlers in Landry and linebacker Rashaan Evans. Both will be rotating in early and often as they learn from the veterans on that side of the ball. While Falk is a good prospect at QB, spending your last pick on him after signing Blaine Gabbert as the backup seems like a wasted selection.
Best pick: Derrius Guice, RB, Round 2 (59th overall)
Worst pick: Troy Apke, S, Round 4 (109th overall)
Washington hit it out of the park with this draft class as the Redskins grabbed a number of big-time contributors like defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne as well as great value additions on Day 3. Even Mr. Irrelevant, WR Trey Quinn, could make the roster after a super productive career in college and possessing such reliable hands. Guice has first-round talent if you get past the off-field concerns and could be the lead back early in the season. Apke is freakishly athletic but seems like a bit of a reach that early in the fourth after just one year as a starter.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.
(Top photo courtesy of www.chargers.com)