Winner – Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals weren’t known to be searching for defense in the first round, but they obtained an absolute steal with the eighth overall pick, grabbing Isaiah Simmons out of Clemson. Simmons is listed as an outside linebacker, but he can truly play anywhere on the defensive side of the ball, and the fact that he was available at #8 was very surprising. It looked like Arizona had forfeited their chance to grab an impact player at offensive tackle, their biggest need, but somehow, in the third round, Houston tackle Josh Jones, ranked 17th overall on CBS’s draft board, was still available. The Cardinals grabbed the first round talent there, walking away with two steals. Considering their second round pick was part of the deal for DeAndre Hopkins, and the Cardinals were pretty happy with the usage of their top picks.
Loser – Jalen Hurts
Doug Pederson may find a way to use Hurts in some creative packages, but ultimately, Jalen Hurts wants to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and he’s now stuck behind Carson Wentz, who is locked in for another four years in Philadelphia. It’s going to be tough for Hurts to develop, especially considering Pederson’s commitment to Wentz. If winning a Super Bowl isn’t enough to supplant Wentz, nor is his multitude of injuries, it’s going to be a long road for hurts to gain prominence at the next level.
Winner – Wide Receivers
Wide receivers flew off the board left and right, with thirty-seven total receivers hearing their name called this past weekend. Six came in the first round, and seven more in the second, as NFL squads showed a desperate wish to grab receivers, finding value in all seven rounds. As dynamic offenses continue to take hold in the NFL, skill position players, particularly receivers, are becoming huge value picks.
Loser – Las Vegas Raiders
Henry Ruggs was a good pick, but the Raiders started reaching with Damon Arnette, and then they took two more offensive players. I get offense is the new premium in the NFL, but when you’re in a division with Patrick Mahomes, you simply have to get some impact defensive players, and the Raiders just didn’t do that. Considering the Broncos and Chargers really putting together strong drafts, the Raiders could find them at the bottom of the AFC West next season.
Winner – LSU
14 draft picks. Absolutely absurd. LSU set all kind of records, including an SEC record with 14 picks, along with becoming the first team to have their quarterback, wide receiver, and running back selected in the first round, as Clyde-Edwards Hillaire snuck in with the final pick of the round. Justin Jefferson, Joe Burrow, K’Lavon Chaisson, and Patrick Queen made it 5 LSU players taken in the first round. You can say what you want about how last year was just an anomaly, how LSU is not really the power of the SEC, but 14 draft picks will get you somewhere in recruiting, and that’s undeniable. Also, bonus points for LSU breaking the prior SEC record of 12 draft picks by getting long snapper Blake Ferguson picked in the sixth round. You love to see that.
Loser – ACC
This is specifically targeted at the ACC not including Clemson. Clemson had a decent draft day, as would be expected from one of the top programs in the country, but the ACC in general struggled. In the first two rounds, only 3 non-Clemson ACC players heard their name called, and only one of those was in the first round (Mekhi Becton, Louisville). Running backs Cam Akers of Florida State and AJ Dillon of Boston College were the only other ACC players to leave the draft board. As Clemson continues to dominate the ACC, the lack of NFL interest in the other teams in the conference is a tough look for teams looking to recruit heavily and begin to compete with the Tigers once more.