The draft is over, and while it will be months before any games are played, after three days there is still a need for there to be winners and losers. Opinions will vary on how to keep score, but some winners and losers seem obvious.
Honorable Mention: Myles Garrett’s Suit Jacket
Rarely has so little fabric done so much for so many. The cannons that Cleveland’s defensive star has strapped to his body are clearly too much for mortal eyes, and so this jacket stretched and strained to try to contain their power. I have no idea if the jacket is still with us, but if it isn’t, it clearly gave its life nobly. Still, even the bravest jacket can only do so much.
Dishonorable Mention: Mel Kiper’s Word
Mel Kiper was still on screen for ESPN talking about the NFL draft. This is despite the fact that in 2010, he said that if Jimmy Clausen wasn’t successful in the NFL, he’d retire. He said he wanted eight years, which would have been three years after the last time Clausen played. Bears fans might remember some of that final year, at least unless they’ve had access to good therapy. Six years after Clausen last suited up, three years after Mel’s own timeline, and more than a decade after the promise was made, Kiper continues to talk.
Winner: School Ties
Starting with the 5th overall pick, the Bengals picked Ja’Marr Chase, reuniting Joe Burrow with one of his top weapons from college. Apparently wanting to recreate that feel-good moment, the Dolphins spent the 6th pick to give Tua Tagovailoa a familiar face, too—in this case, Jaylen Waddle (the two spent two seasons together in Alabama). DeVonta Smith was then picked at #10 for a reunion with Jalen Hurts, his old quarterback. The “reunion” award needs to go to the Jaguars, though, who drafted Travis Etienne at 25 in order to give Anointed One (™) Trevor Lawrence his college running back. Those two will be entering their fourth season of playing together when they start their first NFL game, and there will not have been a single break in the pairing.
Loser: Defensive Players
Let’s start with safeties. The highest-drafted safety was Jevon Holland (taken 36th), and he was still the third player taken by Miami. Only three safeties went in the top two rounds at all. This is the second year in a row that no safety has gone in the first round. The position group as a whole has been gradually devalued, but it will probably bounce back. At least, that’s what these players need to keep telling themselves. More tellingly, defensive tackles fell hard, as well. Christian Barmore was the highest-drafted interior lineman (38th). The first seven players off the board were all players on offense, and only six of the first twenty players were defenders. In short, this year the top of the draft was about scoring points.
Winner: Matt Ryan
Kyle Pitts is not a beast. He is the guy that the beasts consider to be a beast. There might be more athletically gifted human beings around, but he is one of most impressive athletes to come out as a tight end in memory. Matt Ryan might be reaching the twilight of his career, but the addition of Pitts will do wonders to revitalize his career, and it should give him an amazing amount of comfort as he wonders what’s going to happen with Julio Jones.
Loser: The Green Bay Packers
Chicago got a reboot. Minnesota orchestrated a fantastic draft. Detroit picked up amazing value in the trenches. Green Bay? They are in a self-created stalemate with the reigning MVP, staring down a man famed for his ability to hold a grudge after giving him a dozen reasons to be mad at them. The only way out seems to be to cave or to hope Aaron Rodgers shows some grace and swallows his pride. Neither seems likely.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a quarterback who walks on water, heals lepers, and can wield Mjolnir. The Jets, perennial underdogs, have a chance to reset the balance a little more to their liking. Finally, the Chicago Bears have a new quarterback, and he’s not the guy they kinda talked themselves into believing might be good after a single year of tape. This isn’t the guy who got picked because he had his grandmother’s car. No, Justin Fields is a guy who in other years would have been the clear top pick, and he might actually have an offensive line around him.
Bear Down Chicago.