The 2019 NFL Draft was an eventful one. Nearly 50 million people watched the Draft from home as a record-breaking 40 trades took place, more than the previous high of 37 in 2017.
Held in Nashville, NFL fans were focused on Tennessee during three late-April days. Arizona Cardinals owned the first selection of the draft, with their pick well known prior to the selection because of controversy with the Oakland Athletics.
Several teams, notably the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, were looking for their quarterbacks of the future. Others might not have been changing their quarterback, but they were still on the lookout for game-changers...
Defence dominated the early picks of the 2019 NFL Draft. The early picks will be scrutinised through the 2019 season, the pressure is immense, with some carrying the hopes of an entire franchise.
Here are our top NFL rookies to watch in 2019…
Replacing Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma, Kyler Murray had big boots to fill. Winning the Heisman Trophy and becoming the consensus first overall pick, Murray did that and more.
Drafted by the Oakland Athletics with the ninth overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft, Murray’s NFL future was uncertain in the lead up to the draft.
Oakland tried to convince him to stay, but without the grind of the minor leagues, Murray opted to declare for the draft. The Cardinals traded away 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen to make room for Murray.
Standing at under six-foot, Murray’s size has been the centre of debate. With great athleticism and an electric arm, however, comparisons have been drawn with Russell Wilson.
Arizona need to build their offence around Murray to make the most out of his dazzling strengths and avoid the downsides associated with an undersized quarterback.
Drafted seventh overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Josh Allen is a 6’5” linebacker who joins a stellar Jaguars defence. Jacksonville already have one of the best defences in the NFL, rating fourth on defensive points contributed in the 2018 regular season.
Allen is a versatile linebacker, equally comfortable in coverage or as a pass rusher. His flexibility, his speed and his size, will make him an exciting player to watch, and give Jacksonville a dangerous option.
While his game still needs a bit of development, Allen has all the skills to become the sort of linebacker that opposing quarterbacks fear.
In an immensely competitive AFC South, the Jaguars’ chances of a postseason berth are slim. Allen’s development might be the key to Jacksonville’s future success, barring a surprise run to overtake the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts.
The New York Jets made big moves this offseason, including the big-money signing of superstar running back Le’Veon Bell. Away from free agency, selecting Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams with the third overall pick was the highlight.
Being dropped straight into the Jets’ line, Williams’ has an incredibly high ceiling.
Physically, he’s not the most dominating player, but his quick hands and feet will see him escape from blockers on a regular basis. The Jets’ defence was pretty average last season – the hope will be that Williams can elevate them to the next level.
It’d be a brave shout to name the Jets as Super Bowl dark horses, but with Bell, an improving Sam Darnold and Williams, the future is bright.
The most surprising pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, the New York Giants picked Daniel Jones sixth overall. The Giants, after trading Odell Beckham to the Cleveland Browns during the offseason, saw a significant roster overhaul this summer.
We may well not see Jones on an NFL field during his rookie season, but with Eli Manning struggling in 2017 and 2018, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Jones gets the nod at some point.
The end of Manning’s career is what makes Jones’ first year so fascinating. Catching the eye during preseason, Jones is the fresh new hope of a new era in New York.
It was considered a reach when Dave Gettleman picked Jones – how the Charlotte-born quarterback gets on will define Gettleman’s tenure as Giants’ general manager.
The Giants aren’t going to feature in Super Bowl tips this season. After a couple of difficult seasons, the Giants will be hoping Jones can lead them into contention in the near future. We’ll see if Jones is up to the challenge should he get his chance this season.
Drafted by Washington, Dwayne Haskins’ first season in the NFL could be a challenging one.
It’s unlikely he’ll start the season, with Washington expected to prioritise his development over short-term success after the gruesome broken leg Alex Smith suffered last season.
Heading into the draft, there was a lot of uncertainty about Haskins. His bullet arm meant some fancied him to go earlier than 15th, but a lack of mobility might have put off some other franchises.
With the ability to pull off highlight reel plays, his ceiling is undeniably high, but a solid offensive line is crucial to his success in the NFL.
Washington aren’t going to be an online betting favourite in the 2019 NFL season. Despite that, all eyes will be on Haskins once he is starting games.
Compared with Drew Bledsoe by NFL.com, the Washington faithful will be delighted if Haskins can reach that level over the next few seasons, particularly considering their recent quarterback woes.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*