The 2018 NFL Draft was one of the strangest NFL Drafts in recent memory. Truth be told, it was not a draft headlined by can't miss prospects. The quarterbacks available in that draft all came with question marks. The running backs were few and far between. Pass catching tight ends were almost nowhere to be found. Wide receivers were scarce and hardly game breaking. The draft was a little more generous in terms of defensive talent and O-line players, but those explosive, franchise-changing quarterbacks from previous NFL Drafts were just not there. Few teams were blessed with easy decisions when it came time to identify the guys that were going to change their fortunes. Instead, they were looking at players who many were not quite sure about.
Perhaps that’s why so many fans, GMs, and commentators are looking at the 2018 NFL Draft as a draft full of regret. When you’re dealing with coin-flip prospects, it’s only natural that the coin isn’t going to land your way from time to time. Besides, when we talk about regret this early in the career of these players, we’re admitting to being prisoners of the moment. That might sound like a bad thing, but there is something to be said for the here and now. So far as the here and now is concerned, there have to be a lot of teams that are asking, “Did we make the right decision?” These are the 10 NFL rookies teams already regret drafting and the 10 they regret passing on.
20 Regret Drafting: Buffalo Bills - Josh Allen
We’re not going to judge Josh Allen’s entire career off of a few games. However, we are going to judge the Bills for spending a very valuable draft pick on him. First off, most scouts saw Josh Allen as a project.
He was someone who wouldn’t be ready to start right away.
The problem with that is that the Bills needed him right away, and they needed him right away for a team that has a lot of holes on their roster. Whatever chance Josh Allen has to mature into a great NFL quarterback are greatly diminished by having to play for the Bills.
19 Regret Passing On: Buffalo Bills - Mike McGlinchey
No, this wouldn’t have been a very big splash of a first-round pick for the Bills. Their fans would have probably booed them for passing on a quarterback. However, there comes a point when a responsible team must realize that they’re not going to win a Super Bowl because of a draft pick. Instead, they need to build a complete team. McGlinchey is shaping up to be one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL, and he would have helped the Bills have a respectable offensive line for whenever they find a franchise quarterback.
18 Regret Drafting: New England Patriots - Isaiah Wynn
This pick isn’t based solely on the fact that Isaiah Wynn is injured. Things like that happen, and NFL teams can’t really prepare themselves for it. Instead, we have to question whether or not the Patriots played it too safe with this pick. Yes, Wynn is going to likely be a solid starter for the o-line, but the Patriots O-line is actually pretty solid. We get wanting to protect Tom Brady, but the Patriots had more obvious needs to address (especially on the defensive side of the ball). Not an awful pick, but maybe an unnecessary one.
17 Regret Passing On: Indianapolis Colts - Kerryon Johnson
The Colts are in need of a running back about as much as an NFL team has been in need of a running back in recent memory. In fact, they’ve needed a running back for years.
While we’re not saying that Kerryon Johnson would have immediately solved their RB needs, you have to wonder why the Colts didn’t even take a chance on him.
Kerryon Johnson is a multi-faceted back who would give the Colts the kind of backfield threat they haven’t had in years. He was certainly worth the risk.
16 Regret Drafting: Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Vita Vea
Yes, Vita Vea’s injury means that Tampa Bay will get almost no immediate returns from this pick, but that’s not why Vea is on this list. First off, we’re not convinced that Vea is the kind of generational defensive tackle that a team simply can’t pass on. There’s a strong chance he will be very good, but when you watch the Bucs, it’s pretty clear they have much bigger needs on defense. Their secondary's routinely getting scorched, and they’re not showing many signs of improvement. That’s why we think Tampa Bay should have looked at another defensive prospect...
15 Regret Passing On: Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Derwin James
Did people think that Derwin James was going to be quite as good as he has been? Not really, but he was still seen as one of the better safeties in the draft. That alone should have been enough reason for the Bucs to draft him (or someone of his caliber). Tampa Bay’s high school level pass defense isn’t going to get better with one player, but a guy like James can become the anchor for a defense that you slowly build through subsequent draft picks. This was a real missed opportunity for the Bucs and several other teams for that matter.
14 Regret Drafting: Seattle Seahawks - Rashaad Penny
This pick turned some heads at the time that it was made, and it hasn’t made much more sense as the season has worn on.
The Seahawks needed a running back, but it was clear to most scouts that the 2018 draft wasn’t loaded with first-round running back prospects.
Despite that, the Seahawks took a chance on Penny who so far hasn’t really outperformed Seattle’s other running back options. Seattle’s offensive line needs should have trumped their needs for a running back even if the best o-line prospects were already taken.
13 Regret Passing On: Philadelphia Eagles - Phillip Lindsay
Granted, not many people were talking about Phillip Lindsay ahead of the 2018 draft. There’s a reason that he went undrafted. Still, regret is sometimes very much a matter of hindsight. In hindsight, the Eagles missed out big time by not going after Lindsay. His combination of power and speed would have made him a perfect fit for an Eagles offense that was in need of a back long before Jay Ajayi tore his ACL. Lindsay could have been a star player on a rapidly improving Eagles offense.
12 Regret Drafting: Baltimore Ravens - Lamar Jackson
This selection really isn’t about what we’ve seen from Jackson so far. At least not entirely. Instead, we can’t help but sit back and wonder what the Ravens hoped to get out of Lamar Jackson after drafting him.
So far, Jackson has been used as a kind of “special play” quarterback that the Ravens bring in when they want to be tricky.
So far, those plays haven’t amounted to much. As for whether or not they see Jackson as an eventual Flacco replacement...well, they might, but we really don’t see it happening.
11 Regret Passing On: Baltimore Ravens - J'Mon Moore
We’re not saying that J'Mon Moore should have been the Ravens' first round pick. We’re not saying he should have been their second or third round pick either. But in the fourth round, we’re surprised that the Ravens didn’t take a chance on wide receiver J'Mon Moore. Instead, they selected Jaleel Scott. Scott is certainly physically gifted, but it’s hard to deny what Moore did in college. Pairing him with a big arm quarterback like Joe Flacco might just have been a recipe for success.
10 Regret Drafting: Oakland Raiders - Kolton Miller
We’re not going to pretend that the Raiders didn’t need o-line help. We’ve also mentioned before that o-line picks in the first round often aren’t sexy, but they are solid. However, it’s starting to feel like the Raiders reached a bit when they took Kolton Miller with the 15th overall pick. Miller has struggled in his rookie season. That’s not unusual, but it’s a bit unusual to see someone with Miller’s size lack real strength.
Considering how many defenders the Raiders left on the board, we think they would have been better off addressing that side of the ball.
9 Regret Passing On: Denver Broncos - Connor Williams
Unless you’re a Case Keenum believer (hi Case Keenum’s mom), you probably realize the Broncos still need a quarterback. Given that they weren’t going to get one in this draft, we wonder why they decided to reach for a wide receiver in the second round.
Instead, they could have picked Connor Williams and strengthened their o-line for when they do find their next franchise quarterback.
Williams is turning out to be quite the talent for the Dallas Cowboys, and we’re sure that the Broncos wouldn’t mind having his presence on their inconsistent O-line.
8 Regret Drafting: Miami Dolphins - Minkah Fitzpatrick
Minkah Fitzpatrick is actually not a bad player. We also think that the Dolphins made the right choice when they went after a safety in the first round. As we said, though, hindsight is a thing whether we like it or not. So far as hindsight goes, we can pretty much guarantee you that the Dolphins would have preferred taking Derwin James. James is shaping up to be quite the star safety. Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, is experiencing some growing pains. Again, it’s all a matter of hindsight. We'll see how Fitzpatrick progresses late this season.
7 Regret Passing On: Kansas City Chiefs - Jessie Bates III
The Kansas City defense is one of the weakest in recent memory. In fact, they’re on pace to be historically bad.
We won’t begin to pretend that the Chiefs defense can be fixed by one player, but Jessie Bates III could have been a building block for the future.
With Eric Berry ailing and struggling to return to form, the Chiefs could have helped ensure that they weren’t so vulnerable to the deep ball by drafting Bates and shoring up their defensive backfield. We really don’t think that Bates is just a guy off to a good start, and the Chiefs could certainly use his services.
6 Regret Drafting: Jacksonville Jaguars - Taven Bryan
It’s hard to win without a good defense. However, in the modern NFL, it’s almost impossible to win the Super Bowl without a dynamic offense. Even the best run games are on tired legs by the time that the playoffs roll around. That’s why NFL teams need to at least be able to threaten with an air game. Such as it stands, the Jacksonville Jaguars can’t make that threat.
While it would have been hard for the Jaguars to fully address that problem in the 2018 NFL Draft, their decision to add yet another defensive player to an already crowded side of the ball remains a head-scratcher.
5 Regret Passing On: Carolina Panthers - Calvin Ridley
Nothing is really “wrong” with the Carolina Panthers. They’ve got a feared, veteran QB, a couple of very good running backs, and their defenders are fairly solid. However, the Panthers have consistently fallen short ever since their poor Super Bowl performance. Part of the reason why that is the case may have something to do with their lack of receiving threats.
Calvin Ridley’s NFL history isn’t written quite yet, but he already looks like he’d be the biggest red zone threat in Carolina. He certainly looks more promising than D.J. Moore, who was the first receiver taken in the draft.
4 Regret Drafting: Baltimore Ravens - Hayden Hurst
We feel kind of weird putting two Raven players on here considering how well the Ravens are playing, but we don’t quite understand their drafting decisions.
You have to remember that the Ravens not only drafted tight end Hayden Hurst but went so far as to trade up to draft him.
We can’t help but wonder why they pursued him so aggressively. Hurst wasn’t exactly a great receiving tight end in college. He was a good blocker and all-around player, but we have to wonder what the Ravens saw in him that made them so eager to snatch him up.
3 Regret Passing On: Pittsburgh Steelers - Darius Leonard
The Steelers were right to draft a defender. Pittsburgh has needed to fix holes in their defense for quite a few seasons now. While the jury is still out on their first-round pick, safety Terrell Edmunds, nobody has any questions about the player they could have had, linebacker Darius Leonard.
Leonard is shaping up to be an absolute tackling monster.
He’s the exact kind of player in the middle that the Steelers’ defense needs now more than ever. Given that Leonard wasn’t exactly a guy who came out of nowhere, we wonder if Pittsburgh was looking at him on draft day.
2 Regret Drafting: New York Giants - Saquon Barkley
This is a tough call. We know that Saquon Barkley is special. Everybody knows that he’s special. The guy has the potential to be the best running back in the NFL for several years of his career. However, the New York Giants with Saquon Barkley aren’t much better than the New York Giants without Saquon Barkley. That tells us that the Giants have much greater needs than a great running back.
Unless the Giants are able to draft a great quarterback in 2019 and have him immediately get the team back to the playoffs, they will have wasted Barkley’s talents during the young years of his career.
1 Regret Passing On: New York Giants - Sam Darnold
Is Sam Darnold great? The jury is still out on that one. Darnold has looked rough at times during his first NFL season. That’s not a great sign, but we forget that few NFL quarterbacks look like stars in their first seasons. Darnold will likely be fine given time and the right team around him. So why didn’t the Giants draft him?
We think it’s because they believed Eli still had a few years left in him (he doesn’t) and that they might be able to grab a great quarterback in 2019. Given that it looks like the best QB prospects won’t be available until 2020...well, it’s going to be some long years for the Giants.