Cursed team’s ‘shock’ steal; Super Bowl fancy’s big hole: NFL Draft Winners and Losers

Home » Cursed team’s ‘shock’ steal; Super Bowl fancy’s big hole: NFL Draft Winners and Losers
Cursed team’s ‘shock’ steal; Super Bowl fancy’s big hole: NFL Draft Winners and Losers

The first round of the NFL Draft has come and gone, with wide receivers flying off the board and nine trades — the most in over 10 years — causing havoc.

From cursed franchises striking gold to quarterbacks left in awkward situations, foxsports.com.au breaks down the early winners and losers from the opening day.

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WINNERS

PHILADELPHIA AND JALEN HURTS

Howie Roseman is one of the most aggressive GMs in the business and he proved it on Friday. The initial disappointment of missing out on one of the elite wide receiver prospects would have quickly dissipated when news of the blockbuster A.J. Brown trade came through.

You only had to look at the pure joy on Jalen Hurts’ face as the Philadelphia quarterback face-timed his new wideout to see how big a win this is for the Eagles.

“This is the biggest blockbuster Draft day trade for star veteran player that I’ve ever seen this team make and I’ve been covering it for 30 years,” Philadelphia-based reporter Sal Paolantonio said on Friday’s coverage.

“It happened out of nowhere. They really needed to upgrade at the wide receiver position. They were 30th in receiving yards and 31st in receiving receptions for wide receivers. They had to get it done and they needed to get a veteran in. He’s a rare blend of size and speed. It’s a huge upgrade and he’s only 24 years old.”

The Eagles have been on the hunt for a top wide receiver for a number of years now and have that man in Brown, who had 63 receptions for 869 yards and five touchdowns in 2021.

A.J. Brown is off to Philadelphia. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

WIDE RECEIVERS

This year’s Draft class was one of the deepest in memory at wide receivers and plenty of teams were expected to cash in. That they did, with six taken inside the Top 20, including Treylon Burks.

The Arkansas wide receiver is one of the biggest winners of the Draft, traded to a contender and into a situation where he will have an immediate opportunity to grow with A.J. Brown traded and Robert Woods coming back from an ACL injury.

As for Brown, the Jacksonville Jaguars reset the wide receiver market when they signed Christian Kirk onto a four-year, $72 million deal.

Brown had been after a new contract with the Titans having made a Pro Bowl and recorded two 1,000-yard seasons in his three years at the franchise.

Put simply, Brown wanted to be paid what he was worth and that is what happened, with the Philadelphia Eagles offering him a $100 million contract with $57 million guaranteed.

THE CURSED FRANCHISES

The New York Jets, Detroit Lions and New York Giants are used to pain. All three franchises have not made the playoffs for 10 years or more, with Detroit’s drought stretching to 30 years. Heading into Friday’s Draft, the question was which franchise would screw it up the most. Instead, all three emerged winners with the Jets the biggest of the three. The Jets did not end up making the blockbuster Deebo Samuel trade but still finished with two top-10 picks, which was a franchise first in the common-draft era. The Jets landed Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson and their biggest coup came in the form of Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II. He was widely projected as a possible top-10 pick but instead fell to No. 26. The three first-round picks were the Jets’ most since the four they made in 2000 and all three will be quality additions.

Garrett Wilson poses onstage after being selected tenth by the New York Jets. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“The Jets got three of the best 15 picks in this Draft,” ESPN Draft expert Todd McShay said.

“The best cornerback in Sauce Gardner to play in a position that is so important in Robert Saleh’s defence. Sauce Gardner never gave up more than 13 receiving yards to an opponent and never gave up a receiving touchdown during a season at Cincinnati. So, you get that cornerstone piece early.

“Then you get the best wide receiver in Garrett Wilson… his body control, run-after-catch ability is the kind of young playmaker you have to team up with Zach Wilson. They needed speed and difference makers and got two on both sides of the ball.

“Then they move up to get Jermaine Johnson, who I was shocked to see still available. I thought he could be a top-10 to top-12 pick. He’s going to be an instant impact player.”

Meanwhile, the Giants have plenty of upside in edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux while Evan Neal will help strengthen the offensive line.

As for the Lions, they have an excellent pass rusher in defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and plenty of upside in Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams, who they took at No. 12.

Jameson Williams poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell onstage after being selected 12th by the Detroit Lions. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

LOSERS

TENNESSEE TITANS

The Titans are losers… for now. Down the track, this may well prove to be a masterstroke from the Tennessee powerbrokers. But for the time being, we can only judge Treylon Burks on what he is right now.

That is a 22-year-old with a high ceiling but no guarantee of handling the pressure that will come with replacing Brown.

Burks has a lethal combination of size, athleticism and ball skills that has seen him draw comparisons to Deebo Samuel while his body shape has also been compared to that of A.J. Brown. Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the franchise “liked” Burks regardless of whether Brown was on their roster, adding that they simply could not give the 24-year-old the money he was after.

“This is a guy you’re not just going to put outside and say, ‘Run me a 9 route. Run me a corner route. Run me a go.’ He is a playmaker,” ESPN analyst Booger McFarland said of Burks.

“I want the ball in his hands, because once he gets the ball the second phase of his ability comes into play because you have to tackle him.This young man is a playmaker. Get the ball in his hands and make everyone else tackle him. To me, if you’re Tennessee, you got a younger version of A.J. Brown.”

Whether Burks is ready to step up to be the standout Tennessee needs remains to be seen. He impressed with 66 receptions for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns for Arkansas last season.

AARON RODGERS

Now, there has to become a disclaimer here. After all, Aaron Rodgers does not seem upset at all with how the Green Bay Packers went about this year’s Draft. Appearing on ‘The Pat McAfee Show’, Rodgers said that he had been in constant communication with the Packers on Draft day and was prepared for the franchise to take Georgia linebacker Quay Walker at No. 22 and Georgia defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt at No. 28.

Green Bay, along with Kansas City, was expected to go after a star wideout after losing All-Pro receiver Davante Adams in the offseason. Instead, yet again, Rodgers got no firepower at all, a common Draft trend since he joined the franchise. It is now 20 consecutive Drafts that the Packers have not selected a wide receiver in the first round.

This time around though Rodgers is right in not being too upset with Green Bay. After all, they can hardly be blamed for the fact that Chris Olave, Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams, Jahan Doston and Treylon Burks were all off the board by the time they had their first pick.

Rodgers is right — by that point, the Packers were probably smart to instead let the rest of the wide receiver pool fall to the second round, although he also hinted that Green Bay could make a move outside of the Draft for a veteran wideout. Rodgers even mentioned interest in San Francisco 49ers superstar Deebo Samuel, although he was sceptical of that eventuating.

Nonetheless, the Packers have a few back-up plans but their first preference would have been to take one of the top Draft prospects. That did not happen. If they end up settling for a second-round pick, don’t expect instant results.

LAMAR JACKSON

The Baltimore Ravens could actually be considered winners out of the first round, taking Kyle Hamilton with the 14th pick in a move that GM Eric DeCosta called a “no-brainer”. It was the decision to trade wide receiver Marquise Brown that proved contentious though, sparking quite the reaction from Lamar Jackson. The quarterback was quick to take to social media, tweeting: “WTF” and sharing a post from a fan who was also shocked by the trade.

Interestingly, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta told media after the Draft that he had told Jackson about the Brown trade before the deal was announced. That, of course, does not match up with what the 25-year-old was posting on social media, clearly taken aback by the news. Only last month, Jackson had replied: “HELL NAW” to a tweet suggesting Brown could be traded to the Kansas City Chiefs.

While Mark Andrews led the Ravens in receiving last season, Brown had been Jackson’s top target for the past few years and the pair had developed an instant connection on and off the field. Only adding intrigue to this decision is the fact Jackson is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, although Baltimore will rush to franchise tag him anyway before letting him consider a movement elsewhere anyway.

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