30 Apr Expand the Boxscore vs. the Draft: Comparing the XTB Big Board to Round 1 of the NFL Draft
All of the speculation and rumors are over, and we finally got all of our NFL Draft questions answered. Well, for the first round at least. This year’s draft was a special one here at Expand the Boxscore as we debuted our draft guide with over 350 player profiles.
Now that the first round is over, let’s take a look at how our big board compared to the results. Of course, it will be a few years until we can really evaluate these players and our analysis of them, but this exercise provides a decent baseline on our evaluations.
Below is a list of where each player was selected, their XTB Big Board rank and some analysis of each pick.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
XTB Big Board Rank: #1 overall, QB1
We nailed this one…as did everyone else.
New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
XTB Big Board Rank: #9 overall, QB3
Justin Fields would have been the pick if it were up to use, but it’s only a 0.2-point difference between the two signal-callers grades so it’s not as if we view this as a huge reach. Wilson is one of the best deep-ball throwers in the draft class – both accuracy and arm strength – and can make the off-platform throws that have become coveted in today’s version of the league. However, he’ll need to tone down the aggressiveness a bit and learn to check it down when the deep shot isn’t there.
San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
XTB Big Board Rank: #28 overall, QB4
This was the pick everyone was waiting for. Again, we would have gone with Field but Lance is a solid choice and a much better option than Mac Jones in our eyes.
Lance is another gunslinger with elite arm strength who fits the bill of the new-aged athletic quarterback. The biggest concern or question is, is the sample size too small especially after playing at a lower level of college football? San Francisco might be the perfect situation for the former Bison though, as Jimmy Grappolo can potentially steer the ship until Lance is ready.
Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
XTB Big Board Rank: #7 overall, TE1
Personally, I thought the Falcons would trade out of this spot to a quarterback-needy team, but I also love the Pitts pick.
When you’re looking for a tight end, typically you’re trying to find someone who’s too big for defensive backs to cover and too fast for linebackers. Well, Pitts can out-run defensive backs and is too big for linebackers so obviously, he’s a freak of nature. There’s some room for growth on his frame which should help with his run blocking, but even that isn’t a true “weakness” for the former Gator.
Cincinnati Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
XTB Big Board Rank: #4 overall, WR1
The Bengals were facing quite the conundrum here. Do they reunite the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner with his teammate, the 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner, or do they take a generational talent at offensive tackle – Penei Sewell – to protect Burrow? Obviously, they opted for the former.
This is a deep draft class for offensive linemen, especially at tackle, so Cincinnati is still in a good spot to sure up their protection in the second round. Also, 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams is still holding down the blindside and they signed Riley Reiff in the offseason, so Chase is far from a bad pick here.
Miami Dolphins: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
XTB Big Board Rank: #6 overall, WR3
DeVonta Smith and Waddle received the same grade from us, so the only reason why the former is ranked higher is that his name comes first alphabetically. Miami adds a speed demon that already has some continuity with starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. An excellent pickup for the Phins.
Detroit Lions: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
XTB Big Board Rank: #2 overall, OT1
This is probably the biggest steal of the draft in XTB’s eyes. Sewell and Lawrence received the same grade from us, and Detroit managed to snag the former Duck with the seventh pick overall. There aren’t many flaws to Sewell’s game and many people, including us, feel he’s the best offensive line prospect since Johnathan Ogden.
Carolina Panthers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
XTB Big Board Rank: #22 overall, CB3
Heading into the draft, there was a lot of discussion about who the top cornerback is. Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn were in the discussion, and the latter ended up as the first one off the board.
Horn is a physical corner who excels in press coverage and has excellent ball skills, but he can also get over-aggressive and lose at the line of scrimmage. Of the three corners mentioned above, the South Carolina product needs the most refinement with his technique, but his ceiling also might be the highest.
Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
XTB Big Board Rank: #21 overall, CB2
Back-to-back corners were a bit of a surprise given that Justin Fields was still on the board and the Broncos have been looking for a quarterback since Peyton Manning retired in 2015. Nonetheless, Surtain gives defensive-minded head coach Vic Fangio another defensive back to play with.
Denver was at its best with two shutdown corners in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, so it looks like they are trying to replicate that after signing Kyle Fuller in free agency and now drafting Surtain. It’s also worth noting that they brought in Ronald Darby this offseason and Bryce Callahan in 2019, making for a crowded defensive back room in the Rocky Mountains.
Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
XTB Big Board Rank: #5 overall, WR2
The Eagles drafting a wide receiver early has become an annual tradition but they might have finally got their guy. Smith is a jack-of-all-trades type of wideout whose stock rose after putting together a Heisman Trophy campaign this season. The biggest question is, can he be the outlier and overcome his lack of size that has derailed so many other quality pass-catchers?
Chicago Bears: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
XTB Big Board Rank: #3 overall, QB2
Finally, Fields comes off the board! Chicago is still feeling the effects of taking Mitchell Trubisky over Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, but they could easily find themselves on the other end of the spectrum this time around. The Bears are getting a quality quarterback who fits today’s game perfectly, and someone that we feel could outperform some of the signal-callers drafted ahead of him.
Dallas Cowboys: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
XTB Big Board Rank: #8 overall, LB1
At this time last year, Jerry Jones was sitting in his yacht grinning ear to ear as CeeDee Lamb fell to the Cowboys. Well, 2021 was a different story as Dallas desperately needs help in it’s secondary and two corners fell off the board right before pick 10, their original draft slot. Parsons and adding another top-100 pick via trade is a fine pickup, but Jerry has to be at least a little frustrated that they couldn’t take Horn or Surtain.
Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
XTB Big Board Rank: #15 overall, OT2
One of the biggest surprises for me on Thursday night was how almost every offensive tackle slid down draft boards. I thought Slater was going to be a top-10 pick, but regardless, the Chargers ended up as big benefactors. Spending They get some protection for franchise quarterback Justin Herbert, and while Slater received the OT4 tag from us, he has the same grade as Christian Darrisaw and Jaylen Mayfield, so Northwestern alum is really tied for the second spot.
New York Jets: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
XTB Big Board Rank: #51 overall, OG3
This was the first big shock for us at XTB. While Vera-Tucker has the versatility to potentially play inside or outside, we view him as a guard and tied for the third-best player at the position. It’s definitely wise for the Jets to invest in protecting their new quarterback, but this pick feels like a big reach.
New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
XTB Big Board Rank: #58 overall, QB5
Jones ended up falling about where everyone thought he would before all of the 49ers rumors started. This will make for an interesting training camp storyline in New England as Cam Newton returns as the starter, and one of Jones’ calling cards is that he’s “pro-ready”. That will be put to the test since Newton has seemingly been on the decline over the last few years, so it could be a little concerning if the Alabama product can’t win the job.
Arizona Cardinals: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
XTB Big Board Rank: #78 overall, LB4
Our big board has a log jam of players with a 6.5 grade, which is what Collins received, so positional value is partially what’s pushing him down. However, he still was the fourth linebacker on our board so this one is a bit of a head-scratcher for us. The former Golden Hurricane is a swiss-army knife that can rush the passer, drop in coverage and stop the run but lacks that defining/elite trait.
Las Vegas Raiders: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
XTB Big Board Rank: #31 overall, OT7
Stop me if you’ve heard this before; Jon Gruden and the Raiders reached for a player from a big-name school at a position of need. This has become another annual draft day tradition and one that has Silver and Black fans extremely frustrated. Even if Leatherwood was their guy, you have to think Gruden and Mayock could have traded back, accumulated more assets and still picked up the Alabama tackle.
Miami Dolphins: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
XTB Big Board Rank: #40 overall, EDGE7
It’s not very often that we see the first pass rusher come off the board in the back half of round one, but that speaks to the rather low quality of edge defenders in this draft class. Phillips is good at getting after the quarterback and has great bend, but his medical history is frightening. He originally went to UCLA where the team doctors suggested he medically retire after suffering his third concussion with the Bruins, and the Southern California native has undergone a couple of surgeries on his wrist as well as a handful of other injuries.
Washington Football Team: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
XTB Big Board Rank: #198 overall, LB15
This is by far the worst pick of round one in our eyes. Davis picked up steam after putting up an impressive 40-yard dash time at his pro day. However, he elected to sit out of the short shuttle and the three-cone drill, which was telling for us as he looked stiff when trying to change direction on film and that’s why he’s so low on our board.
New York Giants: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
XTB Big Board Rank: #49 overall, WR6
After missing out on the big three – Chase, Smith and Waddle – the Giants elected to move back and still get a quality wideout. If it were us, we would have gone with Rondale Moore, but Moore and Toney possess similar skill sets and only 0.2 points separate their grades. The former Gator excels after the catch and gives quarterback Daniel Jones another weapon to play with alongside free-agent acquisition Kenny Golladay.
Indianapolis Colts: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
XTB Big Board Rank: #11 overall, EDGE2
Paye is an excellent value pickup for the Colts. He’s a high-level athlete who has an explosive first step and can get after the quarterback. Strength would be the biggest area of concern for the former Wolverine, but he and DeForest Buckner will be a force to be reckoned with in Indy.
Tennessee Titans: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
XTB Big Board Rank: #12 overall, CB1
When on the field, Farley is an outstanding corner who is one of the smoothest movers in this draft class. His hips are fluid and he can run with just about anybody, but the “on the field” part is the big question mark.
Farley reaggravated a back injury while training for the draft that caused him to have his second back surgery. While the Virginia Tech product should be ready for week one, back injuries can be tricky and it’s not very comforting that he’s gone under the knife twice already.
Minnesota Vikings: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
XTB Big Board Rank: #17 overall, OT4
This pick made it back-to-back Hokies and back-to-back steals according to us. Darrisaw is a great fit in Minnesota as he played in a zone-heavy rushing scheme at Virginia Tech, and the Vikings have been working to revamp their offensive line for a few years now. He’ll need to improve when using vertical sets in pass protection to stick at tackle long-term but regardless, he’ll be a quality player in the trenches for the Viks.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
XTB Big Board Rank: #27 overall, RB2
We almost nailed this one perfectly as Harris is 27th on our big board and went 24th overall. He’ll be an instant upgrade over James Conner in Pittsburg, and that’s not meant to be a slight on Conner. The Alabama product runs with power and has the receiving ability to make an impact in the passing game.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
XTB Big Board Rank: #26 overall, RB1
Etienne and Harris received the same grade from us, making them interchangeable as RB1 or RB2. While the Jaguars did mention that they were looking to supplement their running game this offseason, this pick was a bit of a head-scratcher for me.
James Robinson burst onto the scene as an undrafted free agent, Jacksonville signed Carlos Hyde in free agency and there’s the whole running back in the first round debacle. Nonetheless, the Jags get a home run hitter in Etienne and give Lawrence a familiar face to work with.
Cleveland Browns: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
XTB Big Board Rank: #87 overall, CB11
Heading into the draft, we had a feeling Newsome would get drafted much higher than his ranking on our big board. This will be one where time will have to tell to see who’s correct but obviously, we would have gone in a much different route.
Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
XTB Big Board Rank: #34 Overall, WR5
Bateman is an excellent route runner that should fix one of Baltimore’s biggest problems on offense. The Ravens have struggled to give quarterback Lamar Jackson a go-to wide receiver, and Bateman’s route running and play speed can significantly help with that. He’ll need to become braver when making catches over the middle but that’s starting to get into nitpicking territory.
New Orleans Saints: Payton Turner, EDGE, Houston
XTB Big Board Rank: #32 overall, EDGE 6
Turner was one of our favorites here at XTB. His combination of size and speed is rare and could give offensive linemen a lot of trouble at the next level. The problem is, he’s a late bloomer and a one-year-wonder but ultimately, those traits are too good to pass up and make the former Cougar an excellent pickup for New Orleans.
Green Bay Packers: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
XTB Big Board Rank: #44 overall, CB6
Well, it was quite the day for the Packers before the draft even started. The Aaron Rodgers bombshell dropped and it created a reason to believe that they would right their wrongs from last year by giving their quarterback some help offensively. However, they opted to address the other side of the ball…
We view this cornerback class as a fairly deep one as Stokes’ grade is only 0.3 points lower than Caleb Farley’s, our CB1, so this is still a solid pick in our eyes. The Georgia product has elite speed and can play in either a zone- or man-coverage-heavy system, but his ball skills could use some work.
Buffalo Bills: Greg Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
XTB Big Board Rank: #10 overall, EDGE1
After a 15.5 sack season in 2019, Rousseau turned a bunch of heads in the NFL Draft community. He opted out of the 2020 campaign which might have put a damper on his draft stock. The former high school wide receiver and safety is still new to the position and has a lot of room to grow, especially with his hand usage, but it’s hard to argue against that type of production.
Baltimore Ravens: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
XTB Big Board Rank: #19 overall, EDGE4
On almost the complete opposite of the spectrum as Rousseau, Oweh has a lot of traits to like but is missing the production. His explosive first step and speed will give offensive tackles trouble, but he failed to record a sack all of last season. The former Nittany Lion did rack up a bunch of pressures in 2020 but typically, you’d like to see a first-round pass rusher hit home and finish at least a few times. Regardless, there’s plenty of tools that the Ravens’ coaching staff can work with.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
XTB Big Board Rank: #84 overall, EDGE12
We ended round one with another big surprise for us. Tryon has the use of hands and pass rush skills to be successful at the next level, however, his instincts and motor are potential issues. In our eyes, there were other/better options available for the Super Bowl champs, and if they really wanted the Washington product, they probably could have waited until the second round.
- A Bay Area native who has a dysfunctional relationship with the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders.
- Matt played college football and was a recruiting assistant at Division 3 Willamette University, where he received his BA and MBA.
- He has worked in the industry as a journalist, film analyst for PFF, and graduated from the Scouting Academy.