The Domino Effect: Drafting the future of the NFL

Dwayne Haskins was the 15th overall pick by the Washington Redskins.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Dwayne Haskins was the 15th overall pick by the Washington Redskins.

Jared Greenspan

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The NFL Draft is essentially one giant domino chain reaction. Starting from the first overall pick, each selection has a ripple effect, drastically impacting what transpires from that point on: draft boards are adjusted, plans are altered and dreams are both destroyed and heightened.

In this past weekend’s 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, TN, the chain reaction was on full display, specifically with regard to the quarterback position. The draft is often the best place for a team to find its quarterback of the future, that of which is imperative to a winning team. This year, there were five quarterback “dominoes” that will shape the future of the franchises involved.

Domino 1: Kyler Murray – Arizona Cardinals

Starting the draft were the Arizona Cardinals, beneficiaries of the number one pick as a result of their 3-13 season. Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury has long been enamored with Murray—he recruited Murray out of high school while with Texas Tech—making the selection no surprise. By giving Murray the reins to their offense, the Cardinals made the dynamic Heisman Trophy winner feel good about his decision to choose football over baseball.

Domino 2a: Josh Rosen – Miami Dolphins

Just a year ago, the Cardinals selected their presumed future quarterback in UCLA product Josh Rosen with the 10th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Yet by picking Murray, the Cardinals all but ended the short-lived Rosen era in Arizona. For a young player like Rosen, experience can be the best cure to early struggles, and it was clear he wasn’t going to get an opportunity to see the field in Arizona.

Enter the Miami Dolphins, a franchise hoping to both fill their quarterback hole and expedite what has thus far been a fruitless rebuilding process. On the second day of the draft, Miami flipped a second-round selection to Arizona for Rosen, forfeiting a player who would be picked 52 spots lower than Rosen was the year before. New coach Brian Flores can now work to fix Rosen, who posted an NFL-low 66.7 passer rating and threw more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (10) as a rookie.

Domino 2b: Daniel Jones – New York Giants

The New York Giants made Jones, a Duke product, the second quarterback taken in the draft, following Murray. Finding an heir to the aging Eli Manning is long overdue, and Giants GM Dave Gettleman is confident that Jones is the guy. Scouts, on the other hand, are doubtful that Jones is a franchise talent; nothing that special stands out to warrant him being selected sixth overall. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher by the Giants, who didn’t seem too keen on taking a quarterback just a year ago when they passed on taking a more lauded Sam Darnold.

Domino 3: Drew Lock – Denver Broncos

Many in the industry believed that Jones would have still been available at the Giants’ next pick, 17th overall. Yet Gettleman suspected that the Denver Broncos, at the time holding the 10th pick, would have nabbed Jones. With Jones now off the board, Denver looked elsewhere, taking Drew Lock with the 42nd pick after trading back in the first round. John Elway hasn’t had much success drafting quarterbacks during his tenure as Denver’s general manager—two first-rounders, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch, were failures. If Lock, who orchestrated an explosive offense at Missouri, doesn’t pan out, Elway could be out the door.

Domino 4: Dwayne Haskins – Washington Redskins

It’s possible that the Washington Redskins, sitting still at the 15th pick amidst the flurry of trades occurring around them, left the draft with the best quarterback in Haskins. The storyline was all set up for Haskins to be a Giant—born in Highland Park NJ, he grew up a Giants fan—yet it’s New York’s division rival that wound up drafting him. Haskins threw for a Big Ten record 4,381 passing yards at Ohio State, lighting up defenses to the tune of 50 touchdowns and a 70 percent completion rate.

While some may think the NFL Draft is just a gimmick, the selections are clearly important in setting the tone for the upcoming NFL season. The initial choice of Kyler Murray was one that had a large impact, sparking a series of chain reaction quarterback picks that stand to shape the NFL for this year and beyond.