I love producing this series every year. It takes time, but digging into the reasons behind each and every selection, straight from the decision makers, is very valuable. Sure, head coaches and general managers might not reveal every piece of information, but immediately following the draft is as open and honest as they will be. These notes come directly from post-draft press conferences and any extra videos team sites pump out. Some quotes are verbatim, others are paraphrased.
Speaking: Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett both days
2.26 (58). iDL Trysten Hill, UCF - We’ve spent a lot of time with Trysten. Rod Marinelli went down to work him out. We visited him in Indy, he visited Dallas… Great size, quickness, explosive, disruptive player from the inside. Young player who will improve and benefit from the environment we have here… Helps when coaches get to know players throughout the process. It’s why we do private workouts. Marinelli and Trysten did form one… The staff that was at UCF before his final year, Scott Frost, endorsed him as a person and a player. Started just one game for the new staff but did play a lot of football for them, especially in critical times… Had 7 options in mind prior to the draft. Five went away during the first round. Two options were still available at 58. The alternative pick would have been a safety. Rush and disruption impacts the quarterback… Scouts provided a lot of the info on why he played so much in 2017 and less in 2018. Coaches took over in the process… Marinelli wants his defensive linemen in waves. Top 6 or 7 will play 25 plays or more per game… He’s young and raw, but you see all of the traits. We played our best when we had an 8 man rotation along the defensive line.
3.26 (90). iOL Connor McGovern, Penn State - Classic case of us looking at the board and picking the best player. He was by far at the time. Smart, tough and has all of the physical tools we want. Position flex and both center and guard… DBs we rated highly went off the board before us… Suggested this might be a future pick in terms of not being able to pay all their vet OL in 2020… “The only way to keep drafting into a strong position is to keep drafting that strong position”... Didn’t bring him in for a visit, but he’s one we didn’t have any questions about. Free agency allowed us to not have to attack need…
4.26 (128). RB Tony Pollard, Memphis - Very good space player. Excellent receiver. Very good at running the football, especially on the perimeter but he can also run inside. Great special teams player. 4 phase special teamer. Can really help us with the ball in his hands… Not a gadget guy… Might have a little Alvin Kamara to him… “You’ll look up and see this guy get 30 plays”
Traded to Bengals
2019 fourth round pick (136)
2019 fifth round pick (149)
2019 sixth round pick (213)
Traded to Raiders
2019 fifth round pick (149)
2019 fifth round pick (158)
2019 seventh round pick (218)
5.20 (158). CB Michael Jackson, Miami - Long and physical. Best in press. Has all the traits we like. Finding that in the fifth round. Strongly endorsed by the people at Miami for how he loves football, how he works.
5.27 (165). EDGE Joe Jackson, Miami - Big, strong, tough, physical. Long arms. Left end candidate. Plays the point of attack well. People down at Miami endorsed him heavily. Feel good about the guy he is.
6.40 (213). S Donovan Wilson, Texas A&M - Strong, physical safety. We see him as a strong safety, near the line of scrimmage for us. Football intelligence is very good… Believe his “out of position” tendency is coachable. “If they bite as a puppy they will bite as a dog”
7.4 (218). RB Mike Weber, Ohio State - Graded very high. In the same clump of RBs taken earlier. Can be a 3-down back for us, especially running inside… We feel more comfortable about Weber running inside than Pollard.
7.27 (241). EDGE Jalen Jelks, Oregon - Graded high on our board. Blinking light on our board. Long, athletic, relentless spirit and intensity.
New York Giants
Speaking: Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur all three days
1.6 (6). QB Daniel Jones, Duke - It’s a wonderful thing when need and values match. He was up there with everyone else on our board in terms of value. He’s perfect for us. We’ve spoken to Eli. Jones is the right kid for us. The right head, very mature… Accomplished. Very smart. Very talented… It is not Eli’s job to teach the next QB who comes in here. It’s the QB’s job to be smart enough to learn from Eli… Athletic and mobile is important in today’s game… Was on the same horizontal line grade wise with Josh Allen… “It’s been a while” knowing Jones was “their guy”... “I loved everything about him on film. Watched him all week at the Senior Bowl. Decided to stay for the game. Watched Haskins in person during the season. Watched Kyler and Grier play each other. It’s important to see them in person, in their environment. Lock, Jones, Stidham were in Mobile, so I decided to stay. I saw a professional QB in Jones after the three series I watched. “Full blown love”… Connection to Cutcliffe and Mannings was a “nice piece.”... Pocket presence and poise were really important. If you can’t consistently make plays from the pocket you can’t play… “Never know” if Daniel Jones would have been available at 17. Didn’t want to risk it. “The goal is for Eli to be our quarterback.” Shurmur told Eli it is his job to win games and keep this guy off the field… Shurmur visited Duke to see Cutcliffe. He connected the pieces, and his toughness was easy to see. That’s important for Shurmur. Shurmur felt the same that he was our guy… So important to sort through how a quarterback is wired above the neck… Shouldn’t look at the numbers and say “he can’t fo this.” We felt he was competitive and gritty… We spoke to Eli throughout the process and Dave called him while Shurmur was on the phone with Jones… Maybe we are going to be the Green Bay model where Rodgers sat for three years. Who knows?... Shurmur actively slowed his roll on the quarterback class. Deliberate… After Day 3, Gettleman claims he knows for a fact two teams would’ve selected Jones before 17. Was very difficult to pass on Josh Allen
1.17 (17). iDL Dexter Lawrence, Clemson - I got me a hogmolly. Might’ve been the biggest player in the draft. More than a two-down run defender. He can push the pocket and can impact in the pass rush. Brought him in for a visit. Can play the 1, 3 and 5… Shurmur was with Linval Joseph in Minnesota. Reminds me of him. “I think you win with big people”... Gettleman attributes four sacks in two years to “playing on a bad foot”... Interior push allows ends screaming off the corner to get the production. “Rome wasn’t built in a day” when asked about who those ends are. Defensive tackle group fell off after Dexter.
Traded to Seahawks
2019 second round pick (37)
2019 fourth round pick (132)
2019 fifth round pick (142)
2019 first round pick (30)
1.30 (30). CB Deandre Baker, Georgia - A great kid. Feel he is the best cover corner in the draft… How stinking competitive he was stood out on tape. Faces the challenge when he faces a good wideout… See him as an outside guy.
3.31 (95). EDGE Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion - Scheme fit. 48 starts. Good first step. Even better person than he is player. Three-time captain…. Good with his hands. Good counter move… Was a target going into the third round. Had a bottom of the second round value on him. Started talking possible picks around 14-15 picks away. Talk three names when the team is a handful of picks away. Considered trading up, but decided to wait… Could he start in the ACC? SEC? He can. He has multiple moves, that’s not common from college. Most don’t know what to do when their plan is stopped. That’s what made Chubb special last year… He can be a 3-down player.
4.6 (108). CB Julian Love, Notre Dame - We added a lot of speed today. See him competing for the nickel, can also play outside… Tweener corner/safety ability. Had a draft that was almost completely “blue” in terms of great character players.
5.5 (143). LB Ryan Connelly, Wisconsin - View him as a MIKE linebacker. Instinctive and smart. Sideline to sideline and very physical.
5.32 (171). WR Darius Slayton, Auburn - Take top off the coverage guy. 4.3 guy who plays 4.3. Outside receiver.
6.7 (180). CB Corey Ballantine, Washburn - Height, weight speed who has ball skills. Has nickel experience as well. When asked about three corners, can’t pass on someone like Ballantine who has size for inside and outside, ball skills and plays at 4.4 speed.
7.18 (232). OL George Asafo-Adjei, Kentucky - See him competing at right tackle. Had him targeted. Had a 5th round value on him. Length and toughness.
7.31 (245). iDL Chris Slayton, Syracuse - Big, violent inside banger. Had him targeted. Had a 5th round value on him
Speaking: Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas and Doug Pederson all three days
Traded to Ravens
2019 first round pick (25)
2019 fourth round pick (127)
2019 sixth round pick (197)
2019 first round pick (22)
1.22 (22). T Andre Dillard, Washington State - Viewed Dillard as a top 10 player in the draft. Did not anticipate the opportunity of going up and getting him when the day started. Not a need position, but he will come and learn from Jason Peters and at some point find a time to play… Best tackle in the draft. We are trying to load up on the lines… Big hands, great character, great feet. Has room to grow… It was important for us to protect our second round picks in trades… Director of college scouting lives near Washington State. We got to spend a lot of time with Dillard, including Senior Bowl… Foot quickness, lower body flex, ability to redirect… OL coach Stoutland gets very passionate about certain guys. Likes guys who are unusual. Andre is not a normal guy, not a normal athlete… Has the fortitude to improve run blocking… It’s hard to find offensive linemen. Very few big men with that kind of feet… Age factors into evaluations when you ask “has he reached his ceiling”... Trying to get ahead of Baltimore. And Houston… Asked about reported trade in place at 13 with Dolphins “The trade we made was the trade we had. I don’t know anything about that report.”... Would’ve been surprised if we didn't get a lineman in the first three picks.
2.21 (53). RB Miles Sanders, Penn State - “Hey guys, we drafted a running back! We draft running backs in Philadelphia”... Staff favorite. Coaching favorite, personnel favorite. Front office favorite. Reminded us of some other players we’ve had around here. Great lateral quickness. Perfect fit for our offense… If he goes back for another year and stars again, how high could he go? Great feet, great balance, quick strike ability. Low mileage is a positive… Fumbles and pass pro can be fixed by Duce Staley. Same concerns Brian Westbrook had. LeSean McCoy has ball security questions as well… Can play all 3 downs. Jordan Howard has better hands than advertised. Coach can provide different looks. Matchup league. There’s not a play coach can’t call because we don’t have a skill set there… We joked about Sanders being available in round two… We’ve been looking for a runner like Miles for years.
2.25 (57). WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford - Receiver we targeted throughout the process. Fits what we do. Had the flexibility to get the best guys, they just happened to be offense… Can work him inside and outside… Sometimes these west coast guys who play late go under the radar… JJAW and Miles two of the highest character guys in the draft. Ability to go up and get the ball. Strong hands. Great at contested catches. You’re not going to separate from every corner in this league. His style travels. His ability at the line of scrimmage, he’s a very crafty guy. He creates separation and boxes out guys. We did look at possibilities to move down, but we didn’t want to lose out on these guys… We have an affinity for scoring points. Then we want to make offenses one dimensional and then rush the quarterback.
4.36 (138). EDGE Shareef Miller, Penn State - In a normal draft we think he would be a second-day pick. Didn’t expect him to be on the board… Tell our scouts “Tell us the guys who you are most excited about, and we will try to get them”... Being local from Penn State does give us more information.
Traded to Patriots
2019 fifth round pick (163)
2019 fifth round pick (167)
2019 seventh round pick (246)
5.29 (167). QB Clayton Thorson, Northwestern - Pederson’s first exposure was at the Combine. Arm strength, decision making, ability to extend plays. Exactly what we look for in a quarterback, will fit in well in the room. Scouts put him on the radar early.
Traded to Colts
2019 seventh round pick (246)
iDL Hassan Ridgeway
Speaking: Jay Gruden all three days
1.15 (15). QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State - What he performed in just one season as a starter is quite astonishing. He has all of the tools to be an exceptional QB. Going slow with him is important. Spoke with him at the Combine. Brought him in for a visit… Spoke about trading up but we felt good about our spot. Not many teams needed to go and get a first-round quarterback… I don’t mean taking it slow with him, I mean being patient… If you’re the 15th pick in the draft, you have to give him a chance to compete for the starting job… Big strong guy who can maneuver in the pocket. He can buy some time in the pocket, and people bounce off of him… Ohio State does a lot of things NFL teams are doing. Excellent job with their drop back passing game, RPOs. He understands changing protections, which is critical at the NFL level. Pressure looks and how to protect himself. Biggest change is speed of receivers, defense, and defenders coming at him… We felt Haskins was the cream of the crop. Was for sure our number 1 QB. Talks with Josh Rosen never came up.
Traded to Colts
2019 second round pick (46)
2020 second round pick
2019 first round pick (26)
1.26 (26). EDGE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State - A lot of talk of him at No. 15 after losing Preston Smith. Measurables are second to none as an edge rusher. Plus he has the production at Miss State and performed at the Senior Bowl. Perfect fit for us… We think he is good medically. We’ve done our due diligence of this. “6-foot-6 man, with a large wingspan and ran in the 4.4s. We feel good about his health”... Didn’t think he would even be available at No. 15.
3.12 (76). WR Terry McLaurin, Ohio State - Looking to add to our receiver group. Gives us a blend of speed and toughness, our No. 1 special teams player on the board. But really it’s about his receiver skills. Can do a bit of everything inside and outside… Will start with him outside. Smart guy and will learn all three. Already has a rapport with Haskins. They get along great, that was evident at the Pro Day… He runs every route like it is his last route. He’s been a captain and leader. Sets a standard work ethic wise… Didn’t necessarily see his blazing speed on tape, but in person you feel it. At the pro day Parris Campbell went down early. McLaurin got in and just ran extra routes… Very unselfish player… Speed is the name of the game in the NFL
Traded to Bills
2019 third round pick (96)
2019 fourth round pick (112)
2019 fourth round pick (131)
4.10 (112). RB Bryce Love, Stanford - Extremely talented. Ranked highly on the board. Will give him time to get better, don’t have a timetable yet. This is no reflection on Guice or anybody.
4.29 (131). G Wes Martin, Indiana - We’ve had some issues at the left guard spot. Flowers has never played guard.
5.15 (153). iOL Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama - Played guard and center. Versatility on the front comes in handy over the course of the season.
5.35 (173). LB Cole Holcomb, UNC - Three-year starter with 100-plus tackles in each. Linebackers need to have the ability to cover in space. That’s his specialty. Wondering why he wasn’t as highly touted as others. Tested out of the moon.
6.33 (206). WR Kelvin Harmon, NC State - Very surprised he was still there. All of the guys we drafted were productive players. Might not always get separation, but he can go up and get it. Both receivers are very versatile with their route tree.
7.13 (227). CB Jimmy Moreland, JMU - Playmaker. Player of the year in the conference. Captain. Quick-twitched, gets his hands on the ball. Look at him outside and inside, skill set fits there.
7.39 (253). EDGE Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma State - Led the Big 12 in sacks.