Breakdowns

Re-drafting the 2019 NFL Draft – Without Changing a Pick

Re-drafting the 2019 NFL Draft – Without Changing a Pick

It takes three years to evaluate a draft class, but those picks will always be set in stone. Regardless of talent, it’s been shown that first-round picks will get larger free agent contracts and have longer careers simply due to their draft status, so let’s do a re-draft that recognizes this.

Instead of switching around players, we’re instead going to evaluate how much a team would trade to get the player at that spot. For example, Kyler Murray is still going to be the first overall pick, but how much would a team trade for a rookie Murray? Two first-round picks? Three? More?

A few rules to set the stage. Every pick will have a trade, and every pick will be independent. The Lions are trading away the draft rights to TE TJ Hockenson at pick #8 but pick #20 (TE Noah Fant) is a completely different scenario – so don’t expect the Lions to trade for Fant. We’re also working with the 2019 iterations of these rosters and draft capital amounts, so Andy Dalton is still quarterbacking the Bengals and the Steelers have the 10th overall pick. Finally, these trades won’t be equal on most trade charts because we know what the outcome of the pick is. Clelin Ferrell is going fourth overall, but no team would be willing to trade a first-round pick for him – what would they be willing to part with?

Let’s go through the top 20 before hitting a few late-round steals. 

1st Overall – QB Kyler Murray – Arizona Cardinals

Trade: Giants trade five firsts (#6, #17, #30, 2019, and 2020), #95, and #108 for Murray

This trade would be unparalleled in NFL history. Given that teams can only trade three years into the future, few teams ever have five first-round picks to trade at one time. Due to the OBJ trade and a Seahawks trade down from #30, the Giants do have that capital.

Think it’s too much? The bombshell QB trades that rocked the 2022 offseason a few years later most notably saw Deshaun Watson traded for three firsts, one third, and two fourths. Not only would Murray be five years younger at the time of the trade, he’s also on an extremely underpaid rookie deal that pays less over four years than Watson’s 2023 cap hit alone. Murray is easily the best passer from the 2019 class, well above actual Giants draftee Daniel Jones, and has a case as a top-ten QB in the league. The only question for the Giants is how to support him.

2nd Overall – DE Nick Bosa – San Francisco 49ers

Trade:  Raiders trade three firsts (#4, #27, and 2019), #129, and #137 for Bosa

Drafted one pick higher than brother Joey Bosa, Nick has been undeniably talented on the field. From leading the NFL with 21 TFL in 2021 to putting up the league’s third-best pressure rate since 2018, he’s been a game-wrecker when on the field. A torn ACL and mostly-missed 2020 didn’t slow him down either. In 2018, the Raiders were rock-bottom for pressure rate, with their 24% a full six percentage points behind second-worst Atlanta. While 2019 fourth-rounder Maxx Crosby may have turned out well, he hasn’t been drafted yet. Bosa definitively solves their pass rush concerns for a similar cost as the original Khalil Mack trade (two firsts, a third, and a sixth). 

3rd Overall – DT Quinnen Williams – New York Jets

Trade: Bills trade #9 and #181 for Williams

Behind Murray and Bosa, on draft night Williams became the highest interior defensive lineman drafted since 2011 saw Marcell Dareus go to Buffalo in the same spot. As a key piece on the Jets’ defensive line, Williams got an All-Pro vote and managed a 9% pressure rate (27th among DTs) and a 1.55 average depth of run tackle (6th).

The bigger issue for trade value is that DT isn’t a premium position, with the Sheldon Richardson trade (a second, Jermaine Kearse, and seventh-round swap) the only high-value IDL trade in the past five years. The Bills clearly had a need on their defensive line, finishing 2018 with the fifth-lowest pressure rate from the interior and drafting Ed Oliver, but they likely wouldn’t pay much more than their first. 

4th Overall – DE Clelin Ferrell – Oakland Raiders

Trade: Packers trade TE Jimmy Graham for Ferrell

Not every pick can be a stud. Ferrell was a surprise the night of the draft and has been middling on the field, recording a pressure rate of 11.2% (123rd among DEs) and 8 sacks (84th). He’s still an athletic prospect but his draft status is now working against him, requiring a team to commit $31.4M over four years. The Packers in particular can take a shot on Ferrell, finishing 2018 with only a 15.2% pressure rate from their DEs (30th) and clearing most of Graham’s $12.7M cap hit.

5th Overall – LB Devin White – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Trade: Bengals trade #11 and Darqueze Dennard for White and #145

The newly-minted Pro Bowler is a player of contradictions. He’s allowed the second-most passing yards of any LB since 2018 and missed 11 tackles v Run, but also has recorded 359 tackles, 27 TFLs, 15 sacks, and a superb 22.5% pressure rate. However, being drafted at fifth overall, White already has the fourth-most guaranteed money of any LB per year and wouldn’t be a strong surplus value. Furthermore, strong off-ball LBs rarely get traded, so there isn’t a template to work from. With Vontaze Burfict leaving the Bengals after seven years, they’ve got a need and would be a strong landing spot for White. 

6th Overall – QB Daniel Jones – New York Giants

Trade: Dolphins trade a 2020 first (GB) and #78 for Jones and #143

Daniel Jones hasn’t been the homerun pick that the Giants hoped for, but he still has shown potential to have a positive impact on a team. With 62.8% completion and 50 total TDs over his young career, Jones most needs to work on cutting down on his turnovers. With Ryan Fitzpatrick in charge in Miami, Jones can learn for a year before benefitting from Miami’s aggressive, turnover-heavy defense. Miami may have just traded for Josh Rosen, but they’ll gladly avoid sunk cost bias to take another swing.

7th Overall – DE Josh Allen – Jacksonville Jaguars

Trade: Steelers trade #10, #83, #207, and a 2020 third for Allen and #140

The subject of many jokes for his namesake, Josh Allen has become a dominating player in his own right. A Pro Bowler and finalist for Rookie of the Year in 2019, a knee injury might have knocked him out halfway through 2020 but he returned with a vengeance in 2021. Since entering the league, his 12% pressure rate ranks right next to Preston Smith and Bradley Chubb. Trading for Allen gives the Steelers flexibility to move on from Bud Dupree instead of using the franchise tag, ultimately pairing T.J. Watt and Allen to maximize Roethlisberger’s final years.

8th Overall – TE T.J. Hockenson – Detroit Lions

Trade: Ravens trade #25 for Hockenson

Hockenson is another player from this class with a Pro Bowl to his name, as he’s cemented a spot as one of the better TEs in the league. His 1.46 yards per route run since 2019 is comparable to Hunter Henry and Gerald Everett, but it’s tough to judge how much a struggling Lions team has held him back. Although the Ravens already had Mark Andrews, their high usage of multi-TE sets and struggles finding a receiver would incentivize them to take another high-end TE. 

9th Overall – DT Ed Oliver – Buffalo Bills

Trade: Browns trade a 2020 first and #80 for Oliver

After looking at Quinnen Williams earlier, Ed Oliver has had extremely similar production. The big difference has been their contracts assigned by their draft spots – Williams has the 9th-most money guaranteed per year of any IDL, while Oliver is down in 27th. Cleveland could use Oliver to shore up their 28th-ranked run defense (of 2018) while creating a dominant DL moving forward. 

10th Overall – LB Devin Bush – Pittsburgh Steelers

Trade: Eagles trade #138 and LB Nigel Bradham for Bush

Like several of the players we’ve seen so far, Bush had a standout rookie campaign but has recorded more measured production since. A torn ACL in 2020 and some scattered injuries in 2021 have caused the Steelers to repeatedly trade for LBs and more recently sign Myles Jack. With some struggles and a more measured LB market (Bush’s rookie deal is 11th among LBs for guaranteed money per year), his value has dropped. While the current Eagles regime doesn’t much value LBs, Bush still has high-value traits and now at a much more manageable trade cost.

11th Overall – OT Jonah Williams – Cincinnati Bengals

Trade: Panthers trade #100 and #154 for Williams

The top tackle taken in the 2019 Draft, Williams has been plagued by injuries his three seasons. Missing his rookie season with a torn labrum and ending 2020 on IR with a knee injury, he was finally able to make it to the end of the year in 2021 as the LT for the AFC champs. Despite being the highest-drafted option for the Bengals, Williams allowed eight sacks in the 2021 regular season and two more in the playoffs, the third-highest total of all OL in 2021. It’s an interesting trade prospect because of the extensive injuries, but a Carolina team quietly on their last legs with Cam Newton has both the time and desire to take a shot at a high-end talent.

12th Overall – DE Rashan Gary – Green Bay Packers

Trade: Rams trade #61, #79, a 2020 second, and TE Gerald Everett for Gary and WR Equanimeous St. Brown

Coming out of Michigan, Gary was a phenomenal height-weight-speed defensive end, but his lack of refinement and poor production (single-digit college sacks) were worrying. As some expected, he took some time in the NFL but has increased his pressure rate, TFLs, and sack total each year. After leading all defensive linemen for pressure rate in 2021, he figures to be a big problem for opposing offenses moving forward. Under legendary DC Wade Phillips in LA, Gary is in the perfect spot to continue his development and wreak havoc next to Aaron Donald.

13th Overall – DT Christian Wilkins – Miami Dolphins

Trade: Chargers trade #60 and #200 for Wilkins

The middle of a surprising six IDL to hear their name on the first night of the 2019 Draft, Wilkins’ advanced stats paint a less impressive story than his 4.5 sacks and 10 TFL in 2021. Ranking 122nd for average depth of run tackle and 81st for pressure rate among IDL, there are questions about how sustainable his production is. The 2019 Chargers clearly identified DT as a position of need, drafting Jerry Tillery fifteen picks after Wilkins, but this trade would give them a better opportunity to capitalize on Philip Rivers’ final year with the team. 

14th Overall – OG Chris Lindstrom – Atlanta Falcons

Trade: Seahawks trade #64 and #142 for Lindstrom

Next in a Lindstrom family football dynasty, Chris was named the Week 1 starter as a rookie but broke his foot and missed most of his rookie year. He’s been middling since but improving, with his rare athleticism still a tentpole trait that a team would bet on. The Seahawks in particular have needed outstanding athletes on their line and Lindstrom would fit well in their zone scheme. 

15th Overall – QB Dwayne Haskins – Washington

Our condolences to the Haskins family as they mourn a great tragedy of Dwayne. Due to his tragic passing, we’d prefer to remember him for the man he was.

Click here to read a Washington Post article on how Haskins’ teammates and coaches will remember him.

16th Overall – DE Brian Burns – Carolina Panthers

Trade: Titans trade #19, a 2020 first, and #116 for Burns and #100

Brian Burns hasn’t always been consistent over his young career, but at his peaks he’s been nearly unstoppable. Although his 2021 campaign got Burns his first Pro Bowl nod, it was actually 2020 where his pressure rate peaked at 14.4%, good for 11th among edge defenders. The Titans have been searching for productive pass rushers for several years and finally get it with the speedy Burns. 

17th Overall – DT Dexter Lawrence – New York Giants

Trade: Patriots trade #32 and #159 for Lawrence and #180

Back to the interior defensive line, Lawrence has been a strong option as a nose tackle. There are not many players who can manage extended snaps while at or above 320 pounds, but Lawrence has recorded the fourth-highest pressure rate of that group while being serviceable against the run. Although he’s started losing starts and comes off the field for some third downs, Lawrence still retains significant value. The Patriots have always been able to make use of big, athletic DTs and would love to beef up their front seven. 

18th Overall – C Garrett Bradbury – Minnesota Vikings

Trade: Cowboys trade #165 and #218 for Bradbury

On the offensive side, Bradbury hasn’t had the desired impact for the Vikings. Giving up 11 sacks, most among centers since 2018, he’s helped in blocking for Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison but hasn’t been good enough. Additionally, we again encounter cap concerns from a non-premium position, as rookie contracts are based only on draft spot, leaving Bradbury with the 11th-most guaranteed money per year at the center position. Knowing now the injuries that Dallas will face on the offensive line, Bradbury would be a strong option to learn behind the scenes and fill in when required. 

19th Overall – DT Jeffery Simmons – Tennessee Titans

Trade: Chiefs trade #56, #84, and a 2020 fourth for Simmons and #168

Tearing his ACL while training for the draft, some were surprised to still see Simmons go in the top 20. Although he missed the first half of his rookie season, injuries have not been a concern since, and Simmons is a newly-minted Pro Bowler following an 8.5-sack campaign in 2021. Kansas City in particular would love to have this talent to complement their explosive offense by pressuring opposing QBs. 

20th Overall – TE Noah Fant – Denver Broncos

Trade: Texans trade #54 and #195 for Fant

Prior to a recent Russell Wilson trade that sent Noah Fant to Seattle, he was a solid option for Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock in Denver. Although draft season created a perspective of Fant as a highly-athletic TE who would need some polish, he recorded a 40/562/3 line as a rookie and slightly improved in 2020 before his development stagnated in 2021 with fewer yards per route run and yards per reception. The Texans are fresh off a surprising 2018 divisional championship and can use Fant to revitalize their two-TE attack. With DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller attracting attention outside, Fant can dominate up the middle and try to push Houston past Kansas City. 

Let’s finish with a few late-round steals:

36th Overall – WR Deebo Samuel – San Francisco 49ers

51st Overall – WR A.J. Brown – Tennessee Titans

64th Overall – WR D.K. Metcalf – Seattle Seahawks

Trades: Dolphins trade two 2020 firsts for Samuel

Colts trade #34, #59, #89, a 2021 first, and T.Y. Hilton for Brown

Saints trade #48, #105, a 2021 first, a 2020 third, and a 2021 third for Metcalf

We’ve touched on the current value of this talented trio, but snagging their services with a full rookie contract to go would be a different ballgame entirely. Although recent trades have seen Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, and Stefon Diggs each go for a first-round pick and change, it’s tough to imagine that this next generation wouldn’t each surpass those due to their extremely inexpensive contracts. 

With a more gradual development, Samuel fits in nicely with Miami’s timeline and they still retain the pick that eventually becomes Tua. In Indianapolis, trading out of the first round in both 2019 and 2020 creates a deficiency of first-round picks to trade, but they also lacked a strong receiving core to support a rotating cast of QBs including Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, and Carson Wentz – AJ Brown would solve that. Finally, Metcalf’s immediate production would enormously help the perpetually cap-struck Saints make the most of Drew Brees’ final years. 

106th Overall – DE Maxx Crosby – Oakland Raiders

Trade: Washington trades #112, a 2020 third, a 2021 first and Montez Sweat for Crosby

Overlooked in the aftermath of the draft due to a higher-drafted teammate, Crosby exploded out of the gate with a double-digit sack rookie season (a four-sack game against the Bengals certainly helped). Despite continuing to produce through his sophomore campaign, it was actually 2021 where he really jumped to the upper echelon of pass-rushers, making the Pro Bowl while finishing with the second-highest pressure rate of all edge defenders. There’s certainly a question of whether he can maintain this production, but Washington’s desire to build a dominant defensive line would be bolstered by the addition of Crosby. 

178th Overall – QB Gardner Minshew – Jacksonville Jaguars

Trade: Jets trade a 2020 third and 2020 fourth for Minshew and a 2020 fifth

Perhaps the biggest what-if story in the 2019 NFL Draft revolved around one Gardner Flint Minshew II. After presumed Jaguars starter Nick Foles broke his collarbone in the first game of the season, it was Minshew who stepped up to all six of their wins that season. Entering 2020 as the starter, Minshew was hurt and/or ineffective himself, eventually getting traded to the Eagles for a sixth-round pick when Trevor Lawrence was chosen. With the Jets, Minshew starts in the northeast and can spell Sam Darnold or even compete to be his replacement. 

In the full spirit of a re-draft, there are a few other players who would be in the conversation for a top-20 selection were the 2019 NFL Draft to be fully re-done. Marquise Brown, Diontae Johnson, and Terry McLaurin make up the second tier of extremely productive receivers from this class, while Elgton Jenkins has locked down one of Green Bay’s guard spots and earned a Pro Bowl for his efforts. A group of RBs in Josh Jacobs, David Montgomery, and Miles Sanders have each had their moments, but David Edwards has a Super Bowl ring. Even in a class that wasn’t seen as strong, especially at the QB position, there were still some extremely productive players to be found.