Last night’s first round of the NFL draft was nothing short of exciting! The best players in college football have grown as individuals and moved on to the next level. Some hearts were broken and some filled with joy. There were several questionable decisions, two instant starters, and one specific team I believe won the first round. Let’s dig in.
We’ll start with the reigning champs, whom we all know, but for the Crimson Tide out there, it wasn’t a dream, the Clemson Tigers won the national championship. Clemson achieved something I believe is unprecedented. Almost their entire starting defensive line was drafted in the first round.
At the fourth overall pick, the first Tiger d-lineman came off the board. Clelin Ferrell is now an Oakland Raider. Much to the surprise of some folks, but not I considering the Khalil Mack trade last year, the Raiders gained a dominant edge rusher. The man had 11.5 sacks and 29 solo tackles last year for the Tigers, so Raider Nation should be ecstatic!
The next one was taken at pick 13 when the Dolphins selected Christian Wilkins. This guy might be my favorite overall player in the draft. I love his energy and the way he took over the national championship game, where he disrupted just about every single play.
Finally, the Giants took Dexter Lawrence at 17 (an amiable pick gifted from the Browns). The 6’4″ 340lb defenseive lineman is a perfect “big body” to breathe new life into that Giants defense.
It’s no secret Clemson had a dominant defense last year, and they just lost three huge pieces of that core to the NFL. Dabo Swinney has a lot of work to do to get his defense back up to par. His ten-year, $93 million extension will keep him and Tiger fans happy if he continues to do what he does well.
The next two were taken only two picks apart. Former Michigan Wolverine Devin Bush went to the Steelers at #10 and Rashan Gary to the Packers at #12. As a Wolverine and Chicago Bears fan, this one stung a bit. I think the Steelers made an excellent choice jumping up to get Bush. 41 solo tackles last season is something the Steelers are desperate for. When Chase Winovich is inevitably drafted in round two or three, Jim Harbaugh will have a tough task bringing new ferocity to his stellar defense from a year ago.
Finally, we get to a pair I think will make a huge immediate impact: Dwayne Haskins and Montez Sweat. The Washington Redskins are desperate for a quarterback after Alex Smith went down last year. Gaining Haskins at 15th overall is a tremendous value pick. 50 touchdowns and only eight interceptions are the type of reliability they need. Why the Giants passed on him to take Daniel Jones of Duke, I’m not quite sure. Ohio State will miss this guy, but Urban Meyer should have no trouble at all getting them to bounce back.
The Redskins then took Montez Sweat with the 26th pick. Getting a guy who recorded 53 total tackles and 12 sacks at #26 is a fantastic value. Mississippi State is reeling from losing this guy. He will be hard to replace. Overall, I think the Redskins won this round. They acquired high value via their picks and I’m very excited to see what the next level brings for these two guys.
The Clemson and Michigan football programs have a large task of replenishing their defenses, while Ohio State just might need a new identity on offense. Luckily for all three, they have trustworthy head coaches to get the job done right (except for maybe Harbaugh, but we’ll save that for another time). College football season is only a few months away, and we should all be pumped for some fresh faces come Saturdays this fall.
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