By: Lucas Kochevar
I'm just dropping in here for a special volume of LK League Notes to talk the first round of the NFL draft. We laughed, we cried, but most importantly, we saw one team draft a running back and an off-ball linebacker in round one. The Detroit Lions are the big shocker of the night as they took the two least valuable positions with both of their top draft choices. The picks were Alabama's Jahmyr Gibbs and Iowa's Jack Campbell. Both are good players, no doubt, but many people didn't have a first round grade on them. Obviously, a couple teams did, otherwise the Lions wouldn't have made such a drastic move. Drafting Campbell is whatever because he could hypothetically become a standup edge rusher or find his way in as a starting linebacker. Gibbs is the puzzling pick. They have DeAndre Swift on the roster and signed David Montgomery to a three-year deal. This has to mark the end of Swift's tenure with the Lions as him and Gibbs are a very similar style. Montgomery and Gibbs provide a duo of thunder and lightning, but it's still a peculiar pick. I don't absolutely hate it as they have three picks in the second round, but still an odd pick.
The Houston Texans swung for the fences on their first round by selecting C.J. Stroud with the second pick and trading a haul to move up to three and draft Will Anderson Jr. An unbelievable coup to grab the best defensive player and a franchise quarterback. If there was ever a way to inject the Houston fan base with some excitement, this was it. It was a pricey endeavor as they traded their pick next year and some change for this, but if they wanted two high-level players, they had to pay the price. I love the gamble for this new era of Texan football.
Sticking with the AFC South, I was told by a friend that I was perpetuating an issue with raw quarterbacks getting drafted higher than they should. Looks like I am as the Colts drafted one of those guys in Anthony Richardson with the fourth pick. This was a prediction I had on the money as the similarities in Jalen Hurts and Richardson's game was too much to pass up for new Colts coach Shane Steichen. The comparison doesn't mean that Richardson will come in at an MVP level, but remember the rookie version of Hurts. He had raw talent, but the passing aspect wasn't there. I think Richardson just needs more experience and helpful coaching to truly blossom. He only started thirteen games in his career.
The Eagles, similarly to the Texans, left this draft with a haul. They jumped with Chicago to get the ninth pick and selected Jalen Carter, many people's best player on the board. Carter fell in the draft, but only for non-football related issues. This fit is my favorite and likely the most helpful for a young player. He reunites with multiple Georgia teammates like Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean and the Eagles other first round selection, Nolan Smith. This is helpful because someone like Carter was criticized for self-motivation from coaches, but that same criticism never came from his teammates. He was often loved by them and they always praised him. Going to a spot that has teammates, that undoubtedly have his back already, is a huge help and the talent is unbelievable for the Eagles to get. Smith also is a freak athlete and fits in well on an Eagles team that is getting older on the defensive line.
The Patriots got the steal of the draft as they traded back from their pick at 14 and still managed to draft cornerback Christian Gonzalez. A top five prospect on my board slipping to 17 was shocking to see. Gonzalez is a big, fluid athlete that can play in all types of schemes. Another concern for teams with Gonzalez was that he was a quiet guy. Seriously, that was the only knock I heard on him as the night kept going. A player that doesn't like to talk to the media? No wonder Bill Belichick was happy to take him. I do love Gonzalez and I think he'll be a great fit in New England.
The wide receivers came flying off the board at 20, starting with Jaxon Smith-Njigba going to Seattle. JSN fits into a receiving core as the slot guy with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. I love this pick as Lockett isn't getting younger, but for his first couple seasons he can develop as a receiver in his best position at slot. Next was Quentin Johnston for Los Angeles. A very interesting pick as I think it's the shakiest option for a first round receiver. He'll lineup opposite of Mike Williams and will make his impact after the catch. Zay Flowers was the next pick to the Ravens, who finally coughed up a huge contract to Lamar Jackson. This is a great pick with Odell Beckham and Rashod Bateman, Flowers can find an explosive role in the slot. I'm very excited to see what new play caller Todd Monken has in store for him. Lastly, Jordan Addison was selected to the Vikings. With Adam Thielen leaving, the Vikings had to find a replacement that can actually threaten defenses. Addison is a solid option here and it wouldn't shock me if he turned out to be the most productive in his rookie year.
The rest of the first round was largely guys in the trenches. A couple guys that were surprising to see fall out of the first round include Will Levis, Joey Porter Jr., Brian Branch and several tight ends. Levis was the big slider of the night he was projected in the top ten. This actually works out in his favor as someone will likely come up to take him and put him in a backup situation to learn from their starter. Teams to watch include the Rams, Lions, Seahawks and Raiders. Those teams all have early second round picks and could trade up to 32 if they really want him.
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