The Cleveland Browns had two of the first four picks in the 2018 NFL draft and came away with both the best quarterback and the best cornerback in this draft. The Buffalo Bills also had two first-round picks and came away with their own franchise quarterback and one of the top linebackers in this draft. So who had the better draft?
Better yet — who had the NFL’s best draft? That’s the topic of our weekly Talk of Fame Network poll, and we offer up eight options to our listeners and readers. Take a look and give us your vote:
Baltimore Ravens. Picks: 12. GM Ozzie Newsome’s 23rd and final draft. He knows his stuff, drafting two Hall of Famers (soon to be three with Ed Reed) and 23 Pro Bowlers in his tenure with the Ravens. With 12 picks in this draft, you have to like his chances of finding a few more gems. A Hall of Fame tight end himself, Newsome took two of the top four tight ends in this draft in Hayden Hurst in the first round and Mark Andrews in the third. He traded up to get 2016 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson at the end of the first round and drafted Oklahoma left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., the son of a player who started 129 games for Newsome’s Cleveland Browns and Ravens. Newsome also took big-school producers late in DeShon Elliott (Texas) and Bradley Bozeman (Alabama).
Buffalo Bills. Picks: 8. The Bills had two picks in the first round and spent them on what they hope is a franchise quarterback, Wyoming’s Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick, and one of the top linebackers in the draft, Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds at 16 overall. The Bills continued work on the NFL’s 26th ranked defense by taking a defensive tackle (Harrison Phillips) in the third round and cornerbacks with their first two picks on the third day – Taron Johnson in the fourth round and Siran Neal in the fifth. They landed North Carolina WR Austin Proehl in the seventh round. He’s the son of Ricky Proehl, who helped the Rams win a Super Bowl in the 1999 season.
Carolina Panthers. Picks: 10. In GM Marty Hurney’s second go-round with the Panthers – and his first draft with Carolina since 2012 – he took the first wide receiver off the board in speedy D.J. Moore of Maryland. His presence, and that of recently acquired Torrey Smith, will stretch defenses for QB Cam Newton. The Panthers finished seventh in the NFL in defense a year ago on the way to an 11-5 season. But that didn’t prevent Hurney from loading up on defense, using eight of his 10 picks on that side of the ball. He took cornerbacks in both the second (Donte Jackson) and third rounds (Rashaan Gaulden) and got a value in tight end Ian Thomas of Indiana in the fourth.
Chicago Bears. Picks: 7. The Bears claimed the best linebacker in the draft in Georgia’s Roquan Smith with the eighth overall pick, then benefitted from some sliding values with Iowa center James Daniels in the second round and Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller in the third. Both should accelerate the development of second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky. The Bears also did some scouting homework at the East-West Shrine game, selecting DT Bilal Nichols of Delaware in the fifth round and Georgia WR Javon Wims in the seventh round.
Cleveland Browns. Picks: 9. When you own two of the first four picks in a draft, you’re automatically going to have one of the better drafts. New GM John Dorsey landed what he hopes is finally a franchise quarterback for the Browns in Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick, then came back and claimed the best cornerback in the draft in Ohio State’s Denzel Ward at four. The Browns passed on the top pass rusher in the draft, Bradley Chubb, to take Ward and the logic was sound. To survive in the AFC North, you need someone who can cover Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown. Nick Chubb can walk in as the feature back and Austin Corbett can be the heir apparent to retiring Joe Thomas at left tackle on the offensive line. Antonio Callaway was a sliding value pick in the fourth.
Denver Broncos. Picks: 9. The Broncos have lived and died by their pass rush in recent seasons and GM John Elway gave it a little more teeth when he selected the draft’s best pass rusher, Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State, with the fifth overall pick. WR Courtland Sutton had first-round grades but the Broncos found him in the second at 40. He gives new quarterback Case Keenum more size and speed on the flank. Third-rounder Royce Freeman will have the opportunity to win the starting running back job this summer and fourth-round LB Josey Jewell of Iowa was a high motor, high production performer in the Big Ten.
NY Giants. Picks: 6. The Giants drafted the consensus top player in the draft in HB Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick. New GM Dave Gettleman followed that up with guard Will Hernandez high in the second round. Those two additions should make Eli Manning a better quarterback in 2018. The offensive line was the most pressing area of concern this offseason and in addition to drafting Hernandez, the Giants signed LT Nate Solder away from the New England Patruiots. The Giants also drafted 600 pounds for their interior defensive line in B.J. Hill (third round) and R.J. McIntosh (fifth), and found an interesting developmental quarterback in the fourth in Kyle Lualetta of Richmond.
Tennessee Titans. Picks: 4. NFL defense is all about the pass rusher and the Titans landed two good ones in outside linebackers Rashaan Evans of Alabama in the first round and Harold Landry of Boston College in the second. The Titans collected 43 sacks a year ago with Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan coming off the edge. This draft gives the Titans the chance to rush in waves like the Philadelphia Eagles did in 2017 on the way to a Super Bowl championship. Landry led the NCAA with 16 ½ sacks in 2016. The Titans also added two highly-productive Pac 12 players, safety Dane Cruikshank from Arizona and QB Luke Falk from Washington State in the third day. Cruikshank gives the Titans a chance to improve their 18th-ranked special teams.