SportsPulse: The first night of the NFL virtual draft went off without a hitch and Mackenzie Salmon is here to break down the biggest winners and losers of the night.
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Instinctive reactions to the NFL draft don’t always prove to be prescient, but it is not difficult to identify first-round selections that seem a certain way.
On Thursday, many initial choices were made without much controversy, with the teams of the top 10 players being largely selected with whom they have been linked for some time. However, in the second half of the order, several choices prompted a break.
It is far too early to determine how these choices will play out, but these are the most questionable selections from the first round:
# 16 – A.J. Terrell, BC, Clemson (Falcons)
Needing to keep up with the imposing air attacks in NFC South, Atlanta was clearly invested in finding a cornerback to help a pass defense that seemed particularly problematic after Desmond Trufant’s release. The gangly Terrell, however, could be outdone against likes like Michael Thomas, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, all of whom will test the strength of the relentless defender. Terrell can become an effective starter over time, but the Falcons might have been better off taking LSU K’Lavon Chaisson rusher and turning to one of the many promising second round cornerbacks.
# 18 – Austin Jackson, OT, USC (Dolphins)
With Tua Tagovailoa’s arrival in town, fortifying a front that returned 58 sacks last season had to be a priority for the Dolphins. It’s hard to find much comfort in Jackson’s notion of starting tackle 1 on the left tackle, however, given that he was overtaken by savvy college runners. In the NFL, his uneven hand use and lower strength will be serious vulnerabilities. There may not have been an easy answer here since the first four tackles were off the field, but at # 18 Jackson went too high.
# 19 – Damon Arnette, BC, Ohio State (Raiders)
Mike Mayock failed to get a former Buckeyes cornerback when the Las Vegas deal with Eli Apple failed in free agency, so he got another one at Arnette. The Raiders GM rejected the idea that it was a litter, and the 6-0, 195 pound cornerback can step in as Day 1 starter in front of Trayvon Mullen. But given that the Argentines and Negroes will have to counter Patrick Mahomes and the dangerous attack at the bottom of the leaders – as well as the Chargers and the Broncos, who are both in line for more aggressive offenses in 2020 – it is a strange decision to cause a cornerback which struggles when it is challenged vertically. Arnette will also be 24 years old at the start of her rookie season.
# 21 – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU (Eagles)
Howie Roseman downplayed Philadelphia’s need for a receiver in the weeks leading up to the draft, but took a considerable risk using his first pick on Reagor. Although the target of 5-11, 206 pounds is promising as a deep threat thanks to his speed and ability to transport contested catches, he is primarily a straight-line athlete who may find it difficult to separate if he did not become a more refined road runner. Justin Jefferson of LSU, who was picked up by the Vikings a later choice, could have been the more sensible option.
# 23 – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma (Chargers)
After winning Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert with No. 6 pick, the Bolts made a particularly aggressive decision by swapping from the second round to land Murray. The move was somewhat disconcerting, as a weak linebacker lacking sufficient coverage experience is a luxury for this list. The Chargers are expected to upgrade to an offensive tackle in front of free agent Bryan Bulaga, but a viable option will be difficult to find since the team is not ready to choose until the fourth round after dropped a third round in his pursuit of Murray.
# 26 – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State (Packers)
After making perhaps the most startling decision in the first round by swapping for Love, general manager Brian Gutekunst said Thursday night that it would not be fair to call quarterback heir to Aaron Rodgers. Either Gutekunst doesn’t show up to protect both the rookie and the veteran, or he made a big mistake. While many compare the circumstances of Love’s selection to that of Rodgers 15 years ago, the Utah State flagman is not on the same level as the prospect of the eighth Pro Bowler. As an erratic pitcher with underdeveloped instincts, Love is more like a prospect for Day 2 than a worthy successor to be on hold. If Green Bay doesn’t transition smoothly after Rodgers to the 6-4, 223 pound smuggler, Gutekunst will have a lot to answer.
# 27 – Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech (Seahawks)
By putting Brooks alongside Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, Seattle has allocated a lot of resources to off-line linebackers. Ultimately, it’s hard to justify the use of a first-round pick on a player in this position who doesn’t thrive in coverage, and Brooks’ main value is against the race. The edge rusher, cornerback and attacking tackle all deserved to be addressed first, and there were superior options available.
# 29 – Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia (Titans)
Tennessee clearly does not plan to turn away from its difficult racing game at any time. After signing 6-8, 321 pounds again, Dennis Kelly this offseason after the loss of starting striker Jack Conklin, the Titans also added 6-6, 350 pounds Wilson. While it can be overwhelming when allowed to maim defenders on the line of scrimmage, its massive construction works to its detriment when faced with fast edge runners. Houston attacking tackle Josh Jones is a superior pass protector, and the team could ultimately have received a higher comeback from one of the cornerbacks.
# 30 – Noah Igbinoghene, BC, Auburn (Dolphins)
Miami entered this list for the second time using the final of its three first-round picks from a perspective of development in a position of strength. Using Igbinoghene as a corner of the slot machine with Byron Jones and Xavien Howard outside could highlight his athleticism while minimizing his problems with vertical passes, but it’s still a considerable project since he only has two years playing the post. The Dolphins could have found better slot machine options later in the project and sought to reinforce one of their many other needs.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.