Day 1 of the NFL Draft has come and gone. As is the case every year, the NFL Draft was not void of some head-turning, eye-popping moments. Below I’ve rated the top five surprises of last night’s 1st round action.
1. Simmons falls to 8th
Isaiah Simmons, the OLB from Clemson, was considered by numerous NFL experts to be the second best defensive prospect in the entire draft, with his versatility to play into countless defensive packages. He potentially could have gone as high as 3rd to the Detroit Lions. Instead, Simmons dropped to the Arizona Cardinals at the 8th pick. He should fit right in with a defense that includes Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson.
Surprise Meter: One eyebrow raised
2. Where the safeties at?
We knew that this wasn’t a particularly strong class in terms of top end talent at the safety position. But it’s still a bit surprising to see no safeties drafted in the first round. LSU’s Grant Delpit, Alabama’s Xavier McKinney, and Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. all could have potentially gone in the first round, but none of them heard their name called Thursday night. It’s not because there is a shortage of safety-needy teams either. The Miami Dolphins (3 chances), the Las Vegas Raiders (2 chances), the New York Giants, and the Cleveland Browns were among such teams that decided to pass on drafting a safety in the first round.
Surprise Meter: A single shake of the head
3. Raiders took first receiver…but not the one you’d expect
Was the ghost of Al Davis making this pick? Many people suspected the Raiders may draft a WR with the 12th overall pick, but experts predicted Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, or possibly Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy to be the first WR taken off the board. Instead, it was Jeudy’s college teammate, speedster Henry Ruggs III. Ruggs is a polarizing prospect, as some are wowed by his blazing 4.27 time in the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine and his yards-after-catch ability. Others see him as more of a straight line runner and not physical enough to create separation in his routes.
Surprise Meter: A 3-fingered scratch of the head
4. No Love in Green Bay
Count me as surprised to see the Packers drafting Utah State’s Jordan Love, who they hope to be Aaron Rodgers long-term replacement. Count me as flabbergasted to see the Packers trading up four spots to take him. The Packers were one game away from the Super Bowl a year ago and Rodgers isn’t getting any younger, so Packers fans see this team in win-now mode. These fans had to be upset to see the team draft someone who is likely to serve as the backup QB for at least one year, maybe longer. By trading up, it cost the Packers an additional 4th round pick. To make it more surprising, the three teams that they moved ahead of (Seahawks, Ravens, and Titans) were certainly not going to draft a first round QB.
Surprise Meter: One long blank stare into the television
5. Arnette or Ar”not” for the Raiders
There’s always at least one pick in the first round where everyone collectively goes, “huh?”. That pick belonged to the Raiders. If you told me that the Raiders were taking a cornerback from Ohio St. in the first round, I would have assumed they traded up to take Jeff Okudah. Instead, it was Damon Arnette who the Raiders took with the 19th overall pick. Arnette was projected by many experts to be a late second or early third round pick. The Raiders had quite an interesting first night of the draft, but this pick made everyone wondering what GM Mike Mayock was thinking here.