One season is a small sample size to say with certainty whether or not an NFL player will be a stud or dud. However, after one year, there are ten decisions from the 2019 NFL Draft that stand out as potential mistakes in either evaluation or utility. Below are ten examples of the players that teams could have had if they went in a different direction. If those teams had gone in this different direction, it's hard to argue that they wouldn't be better positioned for the 2020 season and beyond.
Raiders drafted Clelin Ferrell (No. 4 overall) over Josh Allen (No. 7 overall)
The Ferrell selection was criticized at the time of the pick and it was no fault of his own. He is a fine player but the investment was too rich for such a premium pick. Allen was drafted No. 7 overall by the Jaguars and led all rookies in sack production this season with 10.5. His first professional season ended with Pro Bowl recognition. Ferrell finished with 4.5 sacks this season but could still grow into a vital part of their defense. The Raiders desperately needed a premier edge pass rusher to replace Khalil Mack, but it's possible they selected the wrong one while opting to draft a little outside of the box.
Packers drafted Rashan Gary (No. 12 overall) over Noah Fant (No. 20 overall)
Gary made very little impact this season, which is not unexpected considering he was a bit of a tweener to start. The New Jersey native is incredibly talented but outside linebacker also seemed like a strange fit. While the Packers continued their theme of revamping their defense, they also bypassed an opportunity to add speed and explosiveness at the tight end position like they haven't had since the days of Jermichael Finley. Veteran tight ends Marcedes Lewis and Jimmy Graham are a combined 68-years-old. It would benefit them to add some youth to that room and another outlet for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Fant, the second tight end selected in the 2019 draft, showed a lot of improvement as the season progressed. He ended the year with 40 receptions for 562 yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers could have been even better while catching passes from Rodgers.
Falcons drafted Chris Lindstrom (No. 14 overall) over Brian Burns (No. 16 overall)
Lindstrom played in just five games this season after suffering a broken foot. He may develop into a solid interior offensive lineman but there is no denying that Atlanta would have benefited from some pass rush aid. Burns finished the campaign with 7.5 sacks. The 21-year-old had an odd season recording at least 4.5 sacks in five of the team's first six games but his role was limited in the second half of the season. A shoulder injury played a key role in Burns' dip in production, but when healthy, he would've offered Atlanta a premier pass rusher that defense so desperately needs. We can't knock the Falcons for trying to rebuild their offensive line, but considering the investments they've made with that group vs. the defense, Lindstrom seems like more of a luxury pick -- one the Falcons couldn't necessarily afford.
Chargers drafted Jerry Tillery (No. 28 overall) over Deebo Samuel (No. 36 overall)
Tillery had a decent season with 17 tackles and two sacks but it was not the level of impact expected from a first-round pick on the defensive line. Samuel was an explosive play-making wide receiver (both receiving and rushing) in his rookie season with the 49ers. Veteran wide receiver Travis Benjamin played in just five games and is now 30-years-old. Samuel could have been feasting in the slot underneath Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. He provided some big moments as a runner and returner as well.
Seahawks drafted L.J. Collier (No. 29 overall) over Dalton Risner (No. 41 overall)
Collier was one of the most surprising picks of the first round a year ago. He finished with three tackles in 11 games played and was not the edge presence the Seahawks expected him to be. Seattle needs to invest in their offensive line if they are looking to tie Russell Wilson to the pocket. Risner was a bright spot along an otherwise uninspiring Denver offensive line. His addition would have been the start of a much-needed overhaul on Seattle's offensive line.
Giants drafted Deandre Baker (No. 30 overall) over Erik McCoy (No. 48 overall)
Baker flashed a bit towards the end of his rookie season, but it was largely a disappointment for the rookie who took over as a starting boundary cornerback in New York. The Giants would go on to get rid of veteran Janoris Jenkins at the trade deadline so cornerback was a need. The issue is that center was also a need. McCoy stepped in for Max Unger and the Saints hardly skipped a beat. New Orleans had one of the best offensive lines in the league this season and the play of McCoy was a key factor.
Patriots drafted N'Keal Harry (No. 32 overall) over A.J. Brown (No. 51 overall)
Harry spent a good portion of the season on the injured reserve. When he returned, he made little impact on a team that lacked playmaking ability at the wide receiver position. Brown, on the other hand, had an incredible rookie campaign. The Ole Miss product averaged 20.2 yards per catch en route to 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns.
Colts drafted Rock Ya-Sin (No. 34 overall) over Drew Lock (No. 42 overall)
Ya-Sin did not have a bad season at cornerback for the Colts, but Missouri quarterback Drew Lock was still on the board. Jacoby Brissett, although battling injuries, did not look like the quarterback capable of getting the Colts to the next level. The 2019 NFL Draft happened before Andrew Luck shockingly announced his retirement so none of the blame lands at the feet of Indianapolis decision-makers. However, based on the outcome of this season, Lock looks like he would have been a worthwhile investment.
Cowboys drafted Trysten Hill (No. 58 overall) over Juan Thornhill (No. 63 overall)
Hill had five tackles in seven games this season as an interior defensive lineman. Dallas dealt with a lot of injuries and suspensions along the defensive line this season so Hill was important for depth. However, Thornhill registered three interceptions and a touchdown in 2019. The former Cavalier's season ended with a torn ACL but, leading up that point, he was an impact player. The Cowboys need to address their entire secondary and Thornhill would've been a great start.
Jets drafted Jachai Polite (No. 68 overall) over Terry McLaurin (No. 76 overall)
Polite was drafted early in the third round. New York was hopeful that he would be the answer to their pass rush issues but that was quickly discounted. He was released by the team Aug. 31. The Seahawks added him to their practice squad but that lasted just three weeks. The Jets needed weapons for Sam Darnold. McLaurin was a huge success for Washington this season. He finished with 58 receptions for 919 yards and seven touchdowns.