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: Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn for both days
1.14 (14). iOL Chris Lindstrom, Boston College - Steadfast in our approach. We wanted to be very direct in our offseason plan. Spent a lot of time on the “bigs” on both sides of the line… Two of the most physical linemen in the draft. Lindstrom will play guard… Aggressive and urgent football player. Good athlete as well as being tough and gritty. Smart football player, three and a half year starter, and fits the scheme we want to run. A lot of experience and has the pedigree… We were looking for a tough, gritty, nasty guy who could get out and around… Out him through center drills as well, do that with most of the guards… Team was not interested in moving up from 14, despite receiving calls from 6 to 12. Discussed trading back, the feeling was the focus on acquiring Lindstrom. Three or four teams inside of 20 were interested in him. Received “Good job you, *****” after drafting him. If your quarterback can’t climb inside the pocket, that is an issue. Guards allow that to happen… There was an interest level in Christian Wilkins. Awesome guy, he’ll do great in Miami. Did not eliminate Sweat from the board due to medical… Workout story: Lindstrom was coming from another trip, flight didn’t get in until 1am. He was the first one in the building, ready to work at 8am. “I don’t care if I got back at 6am, I’m being there.” He came and got after it. Tried to put mental stress on him and he was resilient.
Traded to Rams
2019 second round pick (45)
2019 third round pick (79)
2019 first round pick (31)
2019 sixth round pick (203)
1.31 (31). T Kaleb McGary, Washington - McGary will play tackle. We were very focused on him. Initially thought we could get him in the middle of the second, but more people we spoke to we felt we had to be aggressive. Didn't want to sit at No. 45 and miss out on the run of offensive linemen… We knew we had to keep protecting Matt Ryan. This draft was good in the trenches… Goal was to move up from 45. It was a focus… Big believer in the systems these blockers come from. We have a great relationship with Washington… We know the style and attitude of these players fit what we want
Traded to Lions
2019 fourth round pick (117)
2019 sixth round pick (186)
2019 fourth round pick (111)
4.9 (111). CB Kendall Sheffield, Ohio State - This guy can fly. Look for him to grow here. He can play on the outside. Talked about return specialist, but that’s not a priority with us now… Injury helped him get to this pick. Ball skills on the outside is important… Could play nickel
Traded to Raiders
2019 fourth round pick (137)
2019 seventh round pick (230)
2019 fourth round pick (135)
4.33 (135). DL John Cominsky, Charleston - 285 now, believe he can get up to 290-plus. Hard-charging, gritty and really driven. End to defensive tackle. Really good athlete. Can’t wait to develop him… He is not the same as Takk or Vic Beasley at all. When you slide him inside, that’s where some of the cool stuff happens. He’s long and can attack the edges of blockers.
5.14 (152). RB Qadree Ollison, Pittsburgh - Really aggressive runner. Cool to add different styles of players at the same position… We’ve been thinking of adding a big back to this group. Has pass pro and can catch the ball. We had some good intel from Pitt. Expect him to have an impact on all four downs (special teams).
5.34 (172). CB Jordan Miller, Washington
6.30 (203). WR/RB Marcus Green, ULM - Will start him off at running back. Speedy, quick twitch. Not slight, he has bulk.
Speaking: Ron Rivera and Marty Hurney all three days
1.16 (16). EDGE Brian Burns, FSU - No panic. Some things happened and the way it broke, three quarterbacks and two linebackers going ahead of us, made us believe we were getting a good football player… Elite athletic ability, elite speed, change of direction, he makes plays rushing the passer. That was a need we wanted to address… Parts of the process we didn't think he would be available at 16, but we are happy to have him… Did not entertain trading back. Had a group we liked… Intelligent. Has a mind for the game and understands the game. He’s got a drive and knows what he has to work on. Our kind of guy. Knows this organization because of Stanley McClover. Has elite traits… Talked to him at the Combine. Hurney attended his workout… He constantly flashes. He’s good for at least “one and a half” per game, sacks or caused fumbles. Makes a play in each game that makes an impact… We watched every play of every game. He applies pressure from the outside, that’s what we like about him… First thing we will tell him is to take care of the guy blocking him before he gets to the ball… Uses his length to set the edge versus the run… Kept seeing him listed to us in mock drafts but didn’t believe it would happen… His get off caught our eyes more than anything else… If we set up a pass rusher to face a one on one matchup, he has to win… Met with the owner the morning of round one. He knew about the plan, sat in with earlier meetings. He sat in the room for round one.
Traded to Seahawks
2019 second round pick (47)
2019 third round pick (77)
2019 second round pick (37)
2.5 (37). T Greg Little, Ole Miss - We thought we had a chance to get a left tackle who can come in and compete quickly… Has a lot of traits: big, athletic, long arms and can anchor… “I’m not a huge stats or analytics guy but I think there is one out there that in the last 900 snaps he’s given up two pressures”... He has that ability to sit and anchor… The run on tackles meant we didn’t think he would get to us at 47. He has the skills to be the starting left tackle for a long time… Left tackles are going to be drafted early. If we didn’t make this move, we didn’t feel like we could get him… Needs technique work in the run game, but he’s only going to get better and better… At worst this gives us good depth at left tackle… Hurney has not invested this level of pick in a tackle since Jeff Otah… He does not realize how good he can be. Has all the tools to be one of the top left tackles in this league. Had our eye on him for quite some time… Getting Greg Little was a key to the weekend.
3.36 (100). QB Will Grier, West Virginia - This is a position where you find a guy you like and find depth at the most important position on the team, you have to do it… His arm strength is not an issue. Timing passer. Has the “it” factor… We haven’t talked to Cam about this. I think he knows this is about depth at the position. Grooming young guys. Best way to solidify the backup job is to draft guys and groom guys… Hurney did not see him live in a game. Saw him at his pro day and during Senior Bowl week… Think we as evaluators sometimes inflate arm strength. I know it’s not a question for us… Look at what Philadelphia has done with two quality quarterbacks. We would like to have that situation… This has nothing to do with Cam Newton. Cam is our starting quarterback and our franchise quarterback… Tremendous accuracy. Good, quick decision making… He’s a very comfortable guy for who he is. His confidence. Extremely good young man… Picked players at three of the five premium positions.
4.13 (115). EDGE Christian Miller, Alabama - We’ve been talking about him for a while. 8.5 sacks in 400 snaps. Hamstring injury early in the process might’ve contributed to him being available… He can dip and bend. He makes plays. He will help rushing passer. Again, that’s what we wanted to address… Use of 3 and 4 man fronts just depends on the situation. We played our nickel package 70 percent of the time last year. Because of that, defense isn’t as big as you’d like… It all starts with protecting the passer and rushing the passer…
5.16 (154). RB Jordan Scarlett, Florida - Last year if a running back would’ve fallen to us correctly, we would’ve taken one. This year if a safety would’ve done that, we would’ve taken one… Scarlett was very remorseful for what he did his freshman year. He was the only one of that group to stay. That’s what stood out to us. And you talk to anyone down there and they love this kid. One of the most well-liked players on the team… Again brought up 8.5 sacks on just 400 snaps… First thing you see is he breaks tackles… Does complement McCaffrey. Lack of receptions was a lack of opportunity. First contact doesn’t bring him down. Looked to be a willing blocker.
Traded to Broncos
2019 sixth round pick (187)
2019 sixth round pick (212)
2019 seventh round pick (237)
6.39 (212). T Dennis Daley, South Carolina - Will play everywhere, but that he did play left tackle is a plus… You aren’t going to go through him. Stout and strong. Upside… Coach Matzko and Travelle Wharton thought he just needed more reps.
7.23 (237). WR Terry Godwin, Georgia - Dynamic with the ball in his hands and has some speed. These are all players that have done it at a high level. 5 SEC, 1 Big 12, 1 ACC
New Orleans Saints
Speaking: Sean Payton on Day 2, Mickey Loomis on Day 3
Traded to Miami
2019 second round pick (62)
2020 second round pick
2019 second round pick (48)
2019 fourth round pick (116)
2.16 (48). iOL Erik McCoy, Texas A&M - Stood out during the process. You see his strength on tape. Had a high grade on him. See the consistency versus a high level of competition. Versatility element, likely a center… Wouldn’t have been surprised if he was a late round one pick. He was the target headed into day 2. Start the process of talking trades 5-6-7 picks into round two. We felt strongly he wouldn’t make it to 62… We had a real early round 2 grade on him… An interior lineman was going to be important for us… If there wasn’t a specific target we would’ve been happy to let the draft come to us… If we get one more Texas A&M coach or player in here we will be over the limit. We have good relationships with that school… Unger and Sean Payton share the same agent, so they had conversations about his decision to retire.
Traded to Jets
2019 fourth round pick (116)
2019 fifth round pick (168)
2019 fourth round pick (105)
4.3 (105). S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida - Drafted three players graded in their top 70. Trading up for a specific target has been a successful formula for us. “If you like the player go get him. That’s our philosophy.”... Versatility there for him to play nickel, and obviously a core special teams player.
6.4 (177). S Saquan Hampton, Rutgers - One draft style is more swings equal more hits. Another is focus on certain players. Have to consider roster construction, if your roster is good, can all of your picks even make your team?
7.17 (231). TE Alize Mack, Notre Dame - Very decorated high school player. Like the talent and where we got him. Had a top 30 visit with him. Talked about his maturity. Process is the time to determine if red flags are legitimate.
7.30 (244). LB Kaden Elliss, Idaho - Made a swing at his dad as a free agent years ago… Coaches are important to the process to know if a player will fit in the room. Brings a perspective the personnel department doesn’t have.
Tampa Bay Bucs
Speaking: Jason Licht all three days
1.5 (5). LB Devin White, LSU - Very fast player, that’s not the only reason we took him. He can pressure with his blitzes and he can cover. Tremendous person and leader. Very smart. You’ll feel his energy as soon as you meet him… “Devin White was our guy” even with Josh Allen was on the board, went through this exact scenario… We’ve watched every play he’s ever played in college. A linebacker, but he’s an attacking player. He can put pressure on the offense… We have a lot of great relationships with LSU… His focus, his will to win, he’s a very thoughtful person in terms of what he’s going to do to come in here and be a starter and the leader of the defense. Inspiring just being around him… Base 3-4 he’s inside with Lavonte David… When White visited the Bucs he said “it just felt right here.” His brother was a big Bucs fan. Sat upstairs with a bunch of the Bucs staff. Staff said we want an impact guy so we can turn this around. White said “Turn what around? We are all undefeated right now. We all can win a Super Bowl.” That’s his mindset… One of the best inside backers we’ve seen in a long time… Constant mention of blitzing… It’s a mark of a good player when you can’t pinpoint just one play that stands out… Couldn’t think of a better person than Lavonte to be his big brother here.. Covering tight ends and speedy backs is difficult. Devin is a big draw there…
2.7 (39). CB Sean Bunting, Central Michigan - Team has now drafted 9 DBs since 2016. “You’re just always trying to get better. It’s not an indictment on the guys here. It’s a long season.” Injuries start stacking up late in the year, we need to infuse some talent in the secondary. Competition is a beautiful thing. Each DB has the ability to start… Super kid, locker room guy. Similar to Devin White in that way… He can play outside or inside. Will get opportunities at each… Got an offer for the pick and we didn’t want to miss the run of corners, namely Bunting
Traded to Rams
2019 third round pick (70)
2019 third round pick (94)
2019 third round pick (99)
3.30 (94). CB Jamel Dean, Auburn - We got an offer we liked, and knew we could double up on positions and players we liked. Plays a physical game. Press guy. Really good tackler… Bowles likes to run different looks. Adding players to fit different looks puts offenses off balance… Had an injury in 2013 and 2016. We did our due diligence, a lot of players come back from those now...
3.35 (99). S Mike Edwards, Kentucky - Playmaker. Played a bit of nickel. See him more as a safety. Good speed, tough guy, finds a way to get his hands on balls. All Kentucky guys we spoke to and asked “who do you want to bring with you, Mike Edwards is the answer”
4.5 (107). EDGE Anthony Nelson, Iowa - Ranked him pretty high on the board. He bends very well, good athlete. Speed to power, good instincts. Versatility to him, outside to inside… We know he can line up in a base 4-3. So we’ll see what he does in this system.
5.7 (145). K Matt Gay, Utah - Big guy with a big leg who is also accurate. Can kick it far at sea level as well. Think he’s a very confident guy… Usually strong-legged guys have accuracy issues. He does not, so far… Our coach really believes in kickers. Had several discussions with Arians on how to improve how we find kickers. We hired a swing doctor… We’ve watched every kick… No player drafted in the 5th round automatically makes the team… A small price to pay for a kicker.
6.35 (208). WR Scott Miller, Bowling Green - Our scouts did a great job with him. Bowling Green did not have a draftable prospect rated going into the season. Scouts weren't going into BG for that reason. We tried to keep him under the radar for that reason. Kept in touch to find out which teams were showing interest in him… Different than Humphries. Not thick, he’s more of a speed guy. One of the fastest players in the draft. Worked him out… We love speed.
7.1 (215). iDL Terry Beckner, Mizzou - Went through adversity early in his career, knee injury on both sides. Then played 26 straight games. Would be tough for me to walk a day in his shoes. Smart and instinctive.