Knee-jerk reactions to the NFL draft don't always prove prescient, but it's not difficult to identify the first-round selections that seem off in some fashion.
On Thursday, many of the initial picks unfolded without much controversy, as teams in the top 10 largely selected players they had been linked to for some time. In the second half of the order, however, several choices provided reason for pause.
It's far too early to determine how these picks will pan out, but these were the most questionable selections of the first round:
No. 16 — A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson (Falcons)
Needing to keep pace with the imposing aerial attacks in the NFC South, Atlanta was clearly invested in finding a cornerback to aid a pass defense that looked particularly problematic after the release of Desmond Trufant. The lanky Terrell, however, might be outmatched against the likes of Michael Thomas, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who all will be test the wiry defender's strength. Terrell can develop into an effective starter with time, but the Falcons might have been better off taking LSU edge rusher K'Lavon Chaisson and looking to one of the many promising cornerbacks in the second round.
No. 18 — Austin Jackson, OT, USC (Dolphins)
With Tua Tagovailoa coming to town, fortifying a front that surrendered 58 sacks last season had to be a priority for the Dolphins. It's hard to find much comfort in the notion of Jackson as a Day 1 starter at left tackle, though, given he has been outmatched by savvy edge rushers in college. In the NFL, his spotty hand usage and subpar strength will be severe vulnerabilities. Maybe there wasn't an easy answer here given the top four tackles were off the board, but at No. 18, Jackson went too high.
No. 19 — Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State (Raiders)
Mike Mayock wasn't able to get one former Buckeyes cornerback when Las Vegas' deal with Eli Apple fell through in free agency, so he got another in Arnette. The Raiders GM pushed back on the notion that this was a reach, and the 6-0, 195-pound cornerback can step in as a Day 1 starter opposite Trayvon Mullen. But given that the Silver and Black will have to counter Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' dangerous downfield attack — as well as the Chargers and Broncos, both of whom are in line for more aggressive offenses in 2020 — it's a strange move to bring on a cornerback who struggles when challenged vertically. Arnette also will be 24 at the start of his rookie season.
No. 21 — Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU (Eagles)
Howie Roseman downplayed Philadelphia's need for a receiver in the weeks leading up to the draft, but he took a sizable risk in using his top pick on Reagor. Though the 5-11, 206-pound target has promise as a deep threat thanks to his speed and ability to haul in contested catches, he's primarily a linear athlete who could struggle to separate if he doesn't become a more refined route runner. LSU's Justin Jefferson, who was taken by the Vikings one pick later, might have been the more sensible option.
No. 23 — Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma (Chargers)
After securing Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert with the No. 6 pick, the Bolts took a particularly aggressive tack in trading up from the second round to land Murray. The move was somewhat puzzling, as a weakside linebacker lacking sufficient coverage experience is a luxury for this roster. The Chargers are due for an upgrade at offensive tackle opposite free-agent signing Bryan Bulaga, but a viable option will be hard to find given the team now isn't poised to pick until the fourth round after giving up a third-rounder in its pursuit of Murray.
No. 26 — Jordan Love, QB, Utah State (Packers)
After making perhaps the most surprising move of the first round by trading up to take Love, GM Brian Gutekunst said Thursday night it wouldn't be fair to call the quarterback the heir to Aaron Rodgers. Either Gutekunst isn't being forthcoming so as to protect both the rookie and the veteran or he's made a grave mistake. While many are comparing the circumstances of Love's selection to that of Rodgers 15 years ago, the Utah State signal-caller isn't on the same level as a prospect that the eight-time Pro Bowler was. As an erratic thrower with underdeveloped instincts, Love looks more like a Day 2 prospect rather than one worthy of being a successor-in-waiting. If Green Bay doesn't make a smooth post-Rodgers transition to the 6-4, 223-pound passer, Gutekunst will have a lot to answer for.
No. 27 — Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech (Seahawks)
In putting Brooks alongside Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, Seattle has allocated a lot of resources in off-ball linebackers. Ultimately, it's hard to justify using a first-round pick on any player at this position who doesn't thrive in coverage, and Brooks' primary value is against the run. Edge rusher, cornerback and offensive tackle all deserved to be addressed first, and there were superior options available.
No. 29 — Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia (Titans)
Tennessee clearly doesn't plan to divert from its hard-charging run game at any point soon. After re-signing 6-8, 321-pound Dennis Kelly this offseason following the loss of starting right tackle Jack Conklin, the Titans also added the 6-6, 350-pound Wilson. Though he can be overwhelming when allowed to maul defenders at the line of scrimmage, his massive build works to his detriment when he has to face speedy edge rushers. Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones is a superior pass protector, and the team ultimately might have gotten a higher return from one of the cornerbacks on the board.
No. 30 — Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn (Dolphins)
Miami made it onto this list for a second time by using the final of its three first-round picks on a developmental prospect at a position of strength. Using Igbinoghene as a slot corner with Byron Jones and Xavien Howard manning the outside might highlight his athleticism while minimizing his problems playing vertical passes, but he's still a considerable project given he only has two years playing the position. The Dolphins could have found better slot options later in the draft and looked to boost one of their many other areas of need.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.
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