There is a lot of pressure to make the right pick in the first round and not every team gets it right. Fortunately, a team’s draft does not need to be defined by one pick. These are three teams who made questionable picks in the first round but made up for it later.
The Oakland Raiders
In the first round, the Raiders selected a massive off offensive tackle out of UCLA in 6’9” 309 Kolton Miller. While his size is certainly elite, his film is anything but. Miller needs to make some serious improvements in his flexibility and pass protection to be the NFL star the Raiders want him to be. The NFL is suffering a shortage of skilled offensive linemen and particularly skilled offensive tackle which may be one reason why the Raiders reached on Miller. In the 5th round, the Raiders selected Michigan defensive tackle, Maurice Hurst. Hurst was arguably the best defensive tackle in the draft and a potential top 20 pick, but concerns about his heart condition that was discovered at the NFL Combine pushed way down on every team’s board. Hurst has competed in the preseason and looked good. If he is able to continue to play without interruption he could be the steal of the draft.
The Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers turned some heads by drafting Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds in the first round. Edmunds was projected to go much lower and there were many other safeties and linebackers available who would seem to be the better pick at that position. So far Edmunds’ preseason performance has been underwhelming. Fortunately for Steelers’ second-round pick James Washington looks to be a much better one. The Oklahoma State wide receiver was at one point seen as a top wide receiver prospect and potential first round pick. There were always questions about his speed and when he ran an underwhelming 4.54 40 at the NFL Combine, he quickly fell down draft boards. Afterall, how can you be a deep threat without elite speed. Washington has been lighting it up so far in the preseason with 7 receptions for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Steelers’ first 2 preseason games. While the Steelers may not have gotten the help they needed on defense in the first round, they look to have successfully replaced Martavis Bryant in the second round.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Make no mistake Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea is a very good player, but in the modern NFL, he does not stand to have a huge impact. He can stuff the run and is a good pass rusher for a man of 6’4 347, but not someone you want on the field in definite passing situations. Since the modern NFL is so pass-heavy there is certainly value in having a run stuffing nose tackle who is not a liability as a pass-rusher, but that value is not in the top half of the first round. The Buccaneers were able to help their defense with a trio of mid-round picks. In the second round, the Bucs took M.J. Stewart a defensive back out of North Carolina. Stewart has looked very impressive throughout the preseason and his ability to play slot corner makes him particularly valuable. The Bucs used another second round pick on Auburn cornerback Carlton Davis who was seen as a potential first round pick by many. Davis has good size and could be a fill a need in the Tampa Bay secondary. Finally, in the fourth round, they selected Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead. Whitehead has gotten rave reviews from training camp and has seen first team action. The Bucs may not have gotten great value from their first round pick, but in the long run, they may have taken care of a major issue in the secondary by adding three highly skilled players.