Analyzing Potential 1st Overall Pick Options

Photo: © Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

We are officially three-quarters of the way through the 2019 NFL season and that means the draft order is taking shape.  

Teams like the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins have drifted away from false ”tanking” narratives with wins over the last few weeks while the Cincinnati Bengals have just won their first game of the year this past Sunday. These surprising results have not only bridged the gap between teams vying for early draft spots but also leaves the first-overall selection ripe for the taking.  

Cincinnati remains in the driver's seat, but as we have seen at many points throughout the season — nothing is guaranteed.

A lot can happen between now and April, but let’s have some fun and project what certain teams might do if they end up with that initial draft choice.

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Current record: 1-11
  • Ensure the first pick by giving Ryan Finley the starting job back
  • Odds of the first pick: likely
  • Tie-breaker advantage: none

Best decision: drafting LSU quarterback Joe Burrow

Despite the win this weekend, the Bengals remain the favorite for the first-overall pick. The Giants do have the draft tie-breaker between the two teams, but expecting another Cincinnati win is not likely.

As for what the team does with the first selection come April, head coach Zac Taylor and this organization desperately need a signal-caller. No passer fits better than Joe Burrow. The LSU quarterback has done everything possible during his Heisman campaign this season and simply makes too much sense to pass up. Local prospect and star defensive end Chase Young may be the better talent in a vacuum, but combining both talent and positional value gives the advantage to Burrow in a landslide.

Look at Khalil Mack, Von Miller or even Aaron Donald. Pass rushers are important pieces of a team, but ultimately mean very little if you do not have a QB capable of carrying an offense. Burrow — with his incredible accuracy and poise — can do just that.

Alternative option: drafting Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa

This all comes down to how healthy Tua Tagovailoa is. His draft stock took a hit after he suffered a season-ending hip injury, but the Alabama passer still projects as a top-10 selection. Burrow seems a little more “prototypical” (something the Bengals may prefer), but ultimately both quarterbacks project as franchise passers.

It is hard to go wrong with either.

New York Giants

  • Current record: 2-10
  • Ensure the first pick by hoping "Danny Dimes" coughs up some loose change and the Bengals beat the Dolphins
  • Odds of the first pick: possible
  • Tie-breaker advantage: everyone

Best decision: drafting Young

Young, who is the best player in the draft, rivals other impressive pass rush prospects like Nick Bosa and Myles Garrett. His impact at the EDGE position is unrivaled, and his ability to flatten and turn the corner with power is unparalleled. Heck, he could realistically set the NCAA single-season sack record this year — even after missing two games. 

With the New York Giants (supposed) franchise QB already in place, acquiring Young would be a no-brainer.

Alternative option: drafting Burrow

This is not going to happen, but hear me out. If Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur get fired this offseason it will leave New York without the regime used to draft Daniel Jones a season ago. While giving up on a sixth-overall pick that early is unfair to Jones and would not make a lot of sense, the Giants could easily fall in love with Burrow and decide to make him their guy.

Another Broadway Joe in New York would certainly be quite interesting.

Washington Redskins

  • Current record: 3-9
  • Ensure the first pick by losing out and praying to the football gods
  • Odds for the first pick: need outside help
  • Tie-breaker advantage: Cincinnati, Miami, Atlanta, Arizona

Best decision: trading down

The Washington Redskins are an organization in complete disarray. Much like the Giants, they already have their supposed franchise quarterback in Dwayne Haskins with owner Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen extremely invested in the rookie passer. This leaves Washington with a few options, including drafting the best player available, drafting their biggest need or trading down. The best player would be Young, but Washington recently invested a first-round selection in Montez Sweat and still has Ryan Kerrigan on the roster. So, the Redskins' biggest need? It would be protecting Haskins. Georgia’s Andrew Thomas would be the top player to fit that bill, but he is a reach at this point. It leaves trading down as the most realistic option.

Alternative option: drafting Young

Assuming, for whatever reason, Washington was not able to trade out, Young makes the most sense. This is not exactly a need in Washington, but the saying “you can never have too many pass rushers” rings true, especially with a special talent like Young.

Miami Dolphins

  • Current record: 3-9
  • Ensure the first pick by starting the tank a month ago
  • Odds of the first pick: not looking good
  • Tie-breaker advantage: Cincinnati, Atlanta, Arizona

Best decision: drafting Burrow

Much like Cincinnati, the Miami Dolphins simply needs their QB of the future. They have made it clear they do not see Josh Rosen in the role, while Ryan Fitzpatrick — despite being enjoyable to watch — is simply too old. Burrow is the top quarterback prospect in the class and has all the traits, both on and off the field, to earn the first-overall selection.

He may not have the biggest arm, but a high IQ, innate ball placement and a strong pocket presence more than make up for it. 

Alternative option: drafting Tagovailoa

Tagovailoa is just too good of a player to drop very far, even with his uncertain injury status. All it takes is one team like Miami to prefer him to Burrow and he could wind up as the top draft pick. 

Atlanta Falcons

  • Current record: 3-9
  • Ensure the first pick by bribing the teams in front of them with Matt Schaub and two slightly used pylons
  • Odds of the first pick: worse than blowing a 28-3 lead
  • Tie-breaker advantage: Cincinnati

Best decision: drafting Burrow

Conventional wisdom says draft the best player and make a playoff push with your former MVP quarterback. However, being able to draft a perfect successor to Matt Ryan comes around once in a blue moon. The Atlanta Falcons do need pass-rush help and Young fills that need to perfection, but they are more than one piece away. Instead, the Falcons can regroup with a QB and make the best plan for the future.

Alternative option: drafting Young

Although Atlanta will not be picking first, Young would also make for a fantastic selection.

Arizona Cardinals

  • Current record:  3-8-1
  • Ensure the first pick by pretending the 2020 draft is actually the 2019 draft
  • Odds of the first pick: 1 of 14 million possible outcomes
  • Tie-breaker advantage: Cincinnati, Atlanta

Best decision: trading down

The quarterback is in place. The best way to surround that QB is by drafting as many players as you can, while the best way to draft as many players as you can is to trade down.

In conclusion for the Arizona Cardinals, more picks are a good thing.

Alternative option: drafting Georgia OT Andrew Thomas

Kyler Murray could benefit from added protection. While head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme has helped negate some of Arizona’s woeful offensive line play, it still exists. Upgrades are desperately needed across the board and although it may not be the best value pick, drafting Andrew Thomas is a savvy move. Some could argue taking a tackle with the first pick is “boring,” but keeping your young passer upright trumps everything.

Detroit Lions

  • Current record: 3-8-1
  • Ensure the first pick by turning David Blough into a sorcerer
  • Odds of the first pick: 1 of 15 million possible outcomes
  • Tie-breaker advantage: Cincinnati, Washington, Miami, Atlanta, Arizona

Best decision: drafting Young

Matt Stafford is coming back healthy, and despite what some may think, he is still a very good quarterback. The Detroit Lions have fielded a horrible pass rush this season — even after spending resources on it in the offseason — and Young would go a long way towards fixing that. It is an easy choice.

Alternative option: trading down

With a franchise passer already in place, the luxury of trading down and acquiring a gargantuan amount of assets would be an equally smart decision.

Written By:

Carter Donnick

Publications Intern

Publications Intern at The Draft Network. Very Canadian.

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