Hindsight is 20/20, especially when it comes back to grading how teams did in the 2019 NFL Draft. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun and worthy exercise, even just six months later.
Six weeks into the 2019 NFL season, some teams are already ruing the decisions they made in April, whether it was a case of taking the wrong player or missing out on another player who’s off the a fast start in their NFL career. Here’s a quick look back at the biggest early draft regrets.
Redskins take QB Dwayne Haskins at No. 15 overall
Haskins hasn’t looked good in his brief relief playing time. In Week 4 against the Giants, he wasn’t ready to play, going for 9-of-17 for 107 yards and three INTs, adding up to a dismal 32.8 passer rating.
The Ohio State product had a great final season in Columbus, but coming in, there was a thought he needed great coaching — to which he is very receptive — to consistently improve. While the arm talent and intelligence are there, the accuracy, decision-making and pocket awareness are far short of viable NFL levels at the moment.
That said, Haskins’ shaky debut isn’t the biggest concern. It’s more the fact the Redskins are mismanaging his drafting early. They attached him to an offensive-minded head coach, Jay Gruden, who has since been fired. They are reluctant to let Haskins learn on the fly with needed in-game reps now, choosing instead to stick with the low upside of either Case Keenum and Colt McCoy in desperate search for a win at 0-5.
Now it will get worse, because interim coach Bill Callahan is calling for a conservative, run-heavy approach, rather than letting Haskins take his lumps and learn from mistakes under first-year offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell.
Let’s not write off Haskins as a bust now, but let’s accept the real initial problem is that Washington had no real plan in place for accelerating his development. Unfortunately, this has a feeling of Josh Rosen and the Cardinals from last season.
No one drafting QB Gardner Minshew until the Jaguars in the sixth round
Remember the “Tom Brady Six?” Jacksonville fans are hoping for something similar to come from Minshew Magic with Nick Foles in the role of Drew Bledsoe. A good 19 years after Brady fell to No. 199 overall in the sixth round, Minshew looks like a real steal at No. 178 overall.
Between Kyler Murray and Daniel Jones and Minshew, seven quarterbacks were selected: Haskins, Drew Lock (Broncos), Will Grier (Panthers), Ryan Finley (Bengals), Jarrett Stidham (Patriots), Easton Stick (Chargers) and Clayton Thorson (Eagles). Now it’s crazy to think Minshew was barely taken ahead of Trace McSorley (Ravens), the last QB on the board.
Minshew’s unprecedented rookie play through five games (1,279 yards, 9 TDs, INT, 66.7 completion percentage, 7.8 yards per attempt, 105.6 rating) puts him as the favorite to run away with Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Broncos and Panthers already got a good look at what could have been with Minshew first hand. In two weeks, the Bengals will, too.
Patriots take WR N’Keal Harry at No. 32 overall
Harry came in with a lot of hype as Tom Brady’s new big-play go-to guy on the outside with Josh Gordon’s team future in doubt at the time and a significant replacement for the big-target role of Rob Gronkowski. There will be no Terry Glenn-like rookie impact here after Harry landed on IR with an ankle injury right before the season. That came right after a training camp in which he struggled to pick up the offense and was outplayed by undrafted rookie Jakobi Myers.
A.J. Brown (Titans), D.K. Metcalf (Seahawks), Diontae Johnson (Steelers), Terry McLaurin (Redskins) and Miles Boykin (Ravens) are just some of the wideouts drafted not too long after Harry who are delivering immediate results for their teams. The Patriots, after the Antonio Brown fizzle, could have used any of those guys now.
Seahawks pass on DE Chase Winovich in the first, second rounds
Seattle did well by snagging a falling Metcalf to be its No. 2 wideout in the third round, given Doug Baldwin’s decision to retire. But after the still-questionable first-round selection of running back Rashaad Penny in 2018, first-round end L.J. Collier and second-round safety Marquise Blair have been blips on their rebuilding defense. Cases in point: They were both healthy inactives for the Week 5 game against the Rams,
The Seahawks did have interest in Winovich as a high-effort explosive pass rusher before the draft, and given how limited former Lions flyer Ezekiel Ansah has been to complement Jadeveon Clowney — who was a fortunate late-preseason upgrade over Collier — Winovich would be looking great in navy, green and grey about now. The eventual Patriots third-rounder has four sacks in five games.
Jets pass on LBs Brian Burns, Josh Allen at No. 3 overall
Quinnen Williams can be special in time, but the rookie defensive lineman has missed two of his team’s four games with an ankle injury he suffered in the opener. So far, he’s also not contributed much as a rotational player.
The Jets were tied to Burns and Allen, and early Brian and Josh have been the best such combination since George and Gracie. Burns has been an absolute beast at outside linebacker in the Panthers’ 3-4, living up to his Florida State freakishness with 3.5 sacks and a key forced fumble in five games. Allen, working as a situational third defensive end for the Jaguars after a highly productive final year at Kentucky, has three sacks and a forced fumble in five games.
While the Jets need to wait for Williams to develop and are still struggling to get to the quarterback after the third-round flameout of Jachai Polite, two similar schemes are greatly enjoying the pass-rush rewards of two prospects former GM Mike Maccagnan considered.
Buccaneers pass on RB Josh Jacobs at No. 5 overall
Coach Bruce Arians keeps selling his three-headed backfield of Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones and Dare Ogunbowale as a monster. But imagine if the Bucs had a special three-down feature back instead to take pressure off Jameis Winston and better complement their downfield passing game? Tampa Bay, currently 2-3, had thoughts of taking Jacobs that high. Instead he fell to now 3-2 Oakland at No. 24 overall.
All the Alabama product has done for the Raiders is tally 507 yards from scrimmage and four TDs in his first five NFL games, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He’s the best offensive rookie far west of Minshew.
All of us ripping the Giants for drafting QB Daniel Jones No. 6 overall — and the rest of their class
Turns out David Gettleman, the 2015 Sporting News NFL executive of the year, knows a little bit about drafting. Jones looks promising as absolutely the right QB choice in the first round after Murray.
But don’t forget Gettleman also got starters for his defense in the first round in nose tackle Dexter Lawrence (two sacks) and cornerback DeAndre Baker, who will be a good, well-rounded cover man in time. Third-round edge rusher Oshane Ximines also has a pair of sacks already in a situational role. Before fifth-round inside linebacker Ryan Connelly tore his ACL against the Redskins in Week 4, he was in the early Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation with 20 tackles, a sack and two INTs.
Now, don’t sleep on fifth-round wide receiver Darius Slayton being much more involved in the offense with Sterling Shepard concussed. Slayton caught four of five targets for 62 yards and a TD against the Vikings in Week 5. So shame on any knee-jerk Giants overreactions a few days after the draft — we should have waited a few months.