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NFL Draft - Team Winners and Losers


The 2018 NFL Draft has come and gone and most of the teams in the leagues have to be excited about what they ended up with, even if that excitement is misplaced in some instances (*cough* Raiders).

How we evaluate these picks will change between now and fantasy draft season, once we see training camp and preseason football. Those of you with rookie drafts coming up might not have the luxury of waiting for all that data to come in before making decisions. That's why RotoBaller is here, giving you some early scouting reports on this year's draft class.

Let's take a look at three NFL teams who are putting their draft picks in good positions, and three teams who left the draft feeling very, very empty from an offensive standpoint.

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Winners

Arizona Cardinals

Key picks: Josh Rosen (QB), Christian Kirk (WR), Mason Cole (C), Chase Edmonds (RB)

The Cardinals went offense with their first four picks. These moves might not pay off much during the 2018 season, but I see a ton of promise moving forward with this class.

Let's start with Josh Rosen, who starts the year behind Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon the depth chart. (Bradford will get hurt, Glennon will get cut, and Rosen will end up starting late in the year, right?) Rosen is my favorite quarterback from this draft -- a great pocket passer with a strong arm who can make any throw. There were off the field questions, but those questions were...I mean, it was the movie Draft Day brought to life, where the Kevin Costner Browns refused to draft a quarterback because his teammates didn't go to his birthday party. I think these concerns are overblown and the fact that Rosen's the best pure pocket passer in this class is going to lead to a long, successful career.

Christian Kirk is a great pick too. He's not the outside receiver that they'll eventually need to replace Larry Fitzgerald, but with John Brown and Jaron Brown both gone, the Cardinals needed another receiver and Kirk gives a potentially elite option in the slot. I can see him having re-draft value by the mid-point of the season as the Cardinals other receivers -- Chad Williams, J.J. Nelson, and Brice Butler -- aren't world beaters.

Arizona had PFF's 31st-ranked offensive line last season. Maybe it would have been nice to see them spend a higher pick on the line, but Cole was the best center prospect in a draft that was weak on center prospects. He could end up as a starter by the time the season comes around and should help improve the line.

Chase Edmonds should see the field this year as a change-of-pace back for Arizona. David Johnson is a great back, but he's coming off a wrist injury. The Cardinals also don't have much running back depth behind Johnson. It shouldn't be too hard for Edmonds to become the RB2 in Arizona.

Denver Broncos

Key picks: Courtland Sutton (WR), Royce Freeman (RB), DaeSean Hamilton (WR)

The Broncos completely revamped their offense this offseason, bringing in quarterback Case Keenum to lead the team, cutting C.J. Anderson, who played for Denver for five seasons, and drafting two players who should be able to contribute fairly soon (Sutton and Freeman) and another promising player (Hamilton) who could fill an important role when the team inevitably transitions to the post-Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders era in Denver.

Sutton is a big, downfield threat who can make plays in the red zone. He's not going to outrun defenses, but he can make contested catches due to his height and hands. He'll play on the outside for Denver with Thomas and Sanders in the flex spot, which limits his re-draft upside in year one, but I love his long term value in Denver.

In theory, Royce Freeman can do it all: he's got incredible vision to make plays in the run game, he has a productive college career that suggests he can make plays in the passing game, and he's been an incredibly efficient red zone player. Freeman might not have the game changing speed that some might want to see in their running backs, but he has the potential to put up very strong numbers this year for the Broncos. I like him in re-draft and dynasty leagues.

Hamilton won't be able to play outside in the NFL, but he's a good route runner and will have a chance to carve out a role in the slot for Denver...in 2019...if the team moves on from Emmanuel Sanders. There are a lot of conditionals there, but Hamilton could be worth a later round pick in rookie drafts.

New York Giants

Key picks: Saquon Barkley (RB), Will Hernandez (OG), Kyle Lauletta (QB)

DISCLAIMER: I do not like this draft from a real life perspective -- picking a running back that high in the draft has salary cap and team-building ramifications that ultimately will hurt the Giants down the line, but his selection should have a strong positive impact on the Giants offense and has the team trending the right direction for fantasy purposes.

Barkley was an otherworldly prospect and the 1.01 in every dynasty rookie draft that will take place this offseason. I'm not even sure what to write about him that isn't already written everywhere else on the Internet. He's fast. He's elusive. He can make plays in the run game and in the passing game. He'll be given every chance to succeed with the Giants.

If there's a worry in regards to Barkley, it's how he'll play behind an offensive line that PFF ranked as the 26th best in the NFL last season. The good news? The drafting of Will Hernandez and the signing of Nate Solder should help that line improve significantly. Barkley's presence should also provide a boost to quarterback Eli Manning, who will now have a great safety valve at the running back position. Expect a lot of dump-offs to Barkley and a lot of yardage for Manning from those plays.

Lauletta won't make an immediate impact, but New York picked a promising passer who could make waves in the future. It will be interesting to see how the battle to be Eli Manning's backup goes between Lauletta and Davis Webb. Lauletta is an interesting prospect -- he can move well in the pocket and put up great numbers at Richmond, but there's a big jump between the levels of competition he faced there and that he'll face if he sees an NFL field. It's far too early to suggest he has a future in the post-Eli world, but he should be given a chance to compete for the second string role.

 

Losers

Buffalo Bills

Key picks: Josh Allen (QB), Ray-Ray McCloud (WR), Austin Proehl (WR)

Here's the thing: I'm not going to use this space to talk about how much I dislike the Bills picking Josh Allen. I did that on this site a few days ago and you can read those thoughts here. No, instead I'm going to talk about how much I dislike that Allen was the only offensive player until round six, when they took wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud.

Despite making the playoffs last year, the Bills entered this offseason looking like a team that was closer to the bottom of the league than they were to a return to the postseason. They replaced quarterback Tyrod Taylor with former Bengal A.J. McCarron. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews is gone. LeSean McCoy is a year older. Adding youth to a defense that ranked 26th in yards allowed last season is a smart move, but that came at the expense of adding possible weapons for whoever the quarterback ends up being this season. The Bills have essentially pushed back the task of revamping their defense a year and will hope that wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones will continue to show improvement. If Benjamin doesn't look like the player he was becoming in Carolina and Jones doesn't take the next step forward? Then Buffalo will need to make some serious moves to improve this offense next year. As it is now, the fantasy prospects for everyone on this roster is trending down.

Kansas City Chiefs

Key picks: Uhhhhhhh

The Chiefs were the only team that didn't use a single pick on an offensive player. No skill position guys that could provide depth for a team that has high quality starters and question marks behind them. Not a single lineman for an offensive line that struggled some down the stretch. I understand the mantra of if it ain't broke, don't fix it in regards to the running back and tight end positions, but this is an offense that's going to be relying on Chris Conley to be their WR3. The Chiefs starters have a ton of fantasy upside, but the team's offense is in a precarious place with a rookie quarterback and questionable depth.

Tennessee Titans

Key picks: Luke Falk (QB)

I'm resisting the urge to pile on the Raiders draft here, because maybe lineman Kolton Miller will be fine. If he is, the Raiders should see improvements from the improved line play.

But the Titans... A series of trades left with them with just four picks in this year's draft and they only went offense with one of them, grabbing quarterback Luke Falk from Washington State, who the Titans hope will never see the field in anything but garbage time playing behind Marcus Mariota. The Titans made some moves in the offseason, including the addition of running back Dion Lewis, but they also let wide receiver Eric Decker leave and will replace him from within with second-year wide receiver Taywan Taylor. There's also wide receiver Rishard Matthews entering the last year of his contract.

It's true that the Titans offense didn't have many needs after they invested in it fairly heavily in last year's draft, but one spot I'd have considered making a move was at tight end. With Delanie Walker inching closer and closer to the end of his career, the Titans have an unexciting group of tight ends behind him. Yes, Jonnu Smith has upside and yes, Phillip Supernaw is the son of a country musician and every country song teaches us that he will end up being an NFL legend, but I still wonder about the future of that position.

 

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