John Woz, Jr.| October 6th, 2019
The football community is discussing which player is worthy as the No.1 overall draft pick for 2020. It’s a conversation that divides opinion and will continue on deep into April 2020. Let’s pause that thought for a moment and reflect on this year’s draft, by looking at the top-four picks, and several noticeable rookies. We get underway with Kyler Murray.
Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals C+
When discussing Kyler Murray in 2018, Kliff Kingsbury quoted “Kyler is a freak…..I would take him with the first pick of the draft if I could.” The stars aligned, and six months down the line, that is exactly what happened.
Kliff Kingsbury with some high praise for OU QB Kyler Murray:
“Kyler is a freak…..I would take him with the first pick of the draft if I could.” pic.twitter.com/aYYamjMu7o
The Arizona Cardinals are one of the league’s basement teams with a 0-1-3 record. Murray was 106-169 with 1,071 yards and four touchdowns throughout the first four weeks. The No.1 overall pick has also thrown four picks. Murray’s performances are difficult to judge, it’s hard to be critical as he’s thrown the football downfield, despite taking lots of pressure. The Cardinals OL looks like it is made of glass and they have allowed 20 sacks on Murray, a league-high.
The league ranks the Cardinals defense at 31, it means Murray and his offense aren’t getting the reps. On a positive note, Murray is finding chemistry with veteran wideout Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, for a combined 73 times. The unflappable Fitzgerald has 23 receptions for 300 yards and two touchdowns through four games.
The Bird Gang have two winnable games on their schedule, up next are the Cincinnati Bengals (0-4) and the Atlanta Falcons (1-3). Can Murray lead his team to victory at the Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday?
Nick Bosa San Francisco 49ers C-
Experts and journalists up and down the country had Nick Bosa as their No.1 overall pick. Bosa slipped to the second draft pick in 2019, and perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise, for Bosa at least. The 49ers (3-0) are unbeaten and are fresh from a Week 4 bye.
Bosa’s grade reflects his limited number of reps. The former Ohio State pass rusher picked up his first and only sack of his pro-career against Jameis Winston in Week 1. Bosa has all the physical traits to succeed in the NFL, it’s now up to Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh to turn him into one the best pass rushers in the league.
An ankle injury has hampered Bosa, and he is questionable for Sunday’s showdown with the Cleveland Browns (2-2).
Quinnen Williams New York Jets Ungraded
The third overall pick of 2019 has had a rough start to the season, and it would be unfair to give him a grade. Quinnen Williams suffered an ankle sprain in the season opener against the Buffalo Bills. Williams had 23 snaps in that game.
The Jets are coming off a bye week, and they list Williams as doubtful for the road trip at the Philadelphia Eagles.
Jets fans will have to be patient to see how their defensive lineman performs throughout the rest of the season.
Clelin Ferrell Oakland Raiders B-
The Raiders believed Clelin Ferrell was worthy of their first-round draft pick. Jon Gruden’s team is playing .500 football and they seem to have found some spark. Ferrell has had over 200 snaps through the first four weeks of the season.
At No.4 Ferrell will be under the microscope, but Raiders Defensive Coach Paul Guenther can develop him into a defensive asset. It’s a steep learning curve for any rookie, but Ferrell will continue to flourish on an improving roster.
Ferrell is in the concussion protocol, and Oakland has listed him as questionable for the trip to Wembley, London.
Gardner Minshew Jacksonville Jaguars B+
Next up is the 178th overall pick, a pick who could win offensive ‘Rookie of the Year’. Gardner Minshew got his chance in the NFL after Nick Foles suffered a broken clavicle in the season opener. Minshew finishes is first pro-game 22-25 with 275 yards and two touchdowns. Minshew’s total was impressive considering it was against the Kansas City Chiefs, a team widely tipped for a Super Bowl run.
Play callers and writers are running out of superlatives for a rookie operating in the 14th ranked offense. The Jaguars (2-2) face the Panthers (2-2) in Carolina. I expect Minshew to reach 1,000 yards passing on the season, but the Panthers won’t make it easy for him. Ron Rivera’s team boasts the No.1 ranked defense against the pass.
Minshew is finding his stride in the league, and the Jaguars are on a two-game winning streak. John DeFilippo’s offense can outscore a Panthers offense playing without Cam Newton. The Panthers pass rush is hot, having 14 sacks in their last two games. Sunday’s matchup looks interesting and Minshew can flourish once more, but the Jaguars OL must provide him with a clean pocket. It looks like a new hero has emerged in Duval County.
Oakland selected Josh Jacobs as the 24th overall pick. Jacobs has 62 carries with 307 yards and two touchdowns in four games. The New York Giants benched veteran quarterback Eli Manning, leaving the door open for Daniel Jones. The sixth overall pick was 49-71 with 578 yards and three touchdowns in his three starts. Jones faces a tough test in Week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings, a team with the sixth overall ranked defense.
The final honorable mention goes to Marquise Brown (aka Hollywood Brown). The Ravens have a capable rookie in their receiver corps. Brown has 18 receptions for 304 yards and two touchdowns. The rookie had a monster debut game in the NFL, he had four receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns.
It’s been fun watching the draft class of 2019 integrating with the established players. Brown and Minshew have raised expectations. Can their peer group step up an make a name for themselves in 2019?
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images