As with every NFL Draft, last night’s offered up plenty of surprises. We had trades, surprise fallers and, of course, surprise risers.
But according to NFL insider Tom Pelissero, two picks on Draft Night stood out as “the most surprising” of the evening. Taking to Twitter this morning, Pelissero singled out the Las Vegas Raiders No. 17 overall pick Alex Leatherwood and the New Orleans Saints‘ No. 28 overall pick Payton Turner.
Regarding Leatherwood, Pelissero quoted Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, who acknowledged that he knew the pick would be “controversial”. But the team was apparently in love with Leatherwood, so they took him despite his lower ranking on most draft boards.
As for Turner, Pelissero’s sources feel that picking him in the first round was a reach. But they also complimented his long arms, high motor and intelligence. Pelissero speculated that the Saints might think they have another Cam Jordan on their hands.
Two most surprising picks of Round 1 to other teams:#Raiders taking OT Alex Leatherwood at 17. Mike Mayock said “we knew it would be controversial” but they loved him.#Saints taking DE Payton Turner at 28. Many said reach. But he's long, high motor, smart. Another Cam Jordan?
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 30, 2021
At Alabama, Alex Leatherwood was a three-time All-SEC selection, a two-time national champion and a unanimous All-American. He won the Outland Trophy for the best interior offensive lineman in college football. But despite his dominance at Alabama, scouts graded him as a second-round pick for the most part.
Turner didn’t play much for Houston in 2020 but made a massive impact in every game he saw. In just five games he recorded 25 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks. But injuries were an issue and he rarely took down the passer in his first three years with the team.
Few would argue that those were the most controversial picks in the first round of NFL Draft. But we’ve seen controversial picks beat the odds before. Perhaps the Raiders and Saints will end up proving everyone wrong.
Who were your most surprising picks?