The NFL Draft is overstuffed with dreams realized and hope reborn. But what about the players who could lose playing time or their jobs entirely?
Below is our annual list of veterans who suffered collateral damage on draft weekend:
Joe Flacco, quarterback, Denver Broncos: This is the second consecutive year Flacco led the way in this exercise. Broncos general manager John Elway can invoke the Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers comparison all he wants after selecting quarterback Drew Lock 42nd overall, but Flacco is not a three-time league MVP and local legend in Denver like Favre was in Green Bay.
The Broncos' new coaching staff is now more committed to Lock long-term than it is to Flacco, who landed in Denver via trade this offseason after his 11-year tenure with the Baltimore Ravenswas effectively ended by 2018 first-rounder Lamar Jackson. Before the draft, Flacco made it clear he wouldn't be thrilled to play alongside another high draft pick (who would?) -- and then the Broncosmoved up in the second round to select the big-armed Lock.
The bright side here is that Denver continued to add to Flacco's arsenal with first-round tight end Noah Fant and second-round tackle Dalton Risner, but the presence of Lock makes Flacco's 2019 tightrope even trickier to walk. Flacco will have to answer all the annoying questions about Lock in his media sessions, and he will have to keep a flawed roster at or near .500 throughout the season. Otherwise, the temptation to test out Lock will be too great.
Rex Burkhead, running back, New England Patriots: Burkhead has battled injuries in his two seasons with the Patriots, appearing in just 18 games since arriving in New England in 2017. Even when he played last season, the former Cincinnati Bengal lacked juice, registering just 4.5 yards per touch -- a full yard less than he averaged in his career prior. In addition to taking some snaps away from starter Sony Michel, third-round running back Damien Harris could make Burkhead's bid just to make the team an uphill battle. The Patriots also have Super Bowl hero James White and fullback James Develin as near roster locks, in addition to special teams ace Branden Bolden. It's hard to see where Burkhead, who has two years left on a deal signed in 2018, fits.
Russell Wilson, quarterback, Seattle Seahawks: News of the impending retirement of wide receiver Doug Baldwin was the most devastating development of draft weekend, especially for an organization already thin on quality receivers. It will take years to know if any of these "draft grades" will be correct. But we know definitively, right now, that Wilson and the Seahawks' passing attack will not be the same without Baldwin, a two-time Pro Bowler who led the team in receiving yards in five of his eight seasons thus far.
It's not like offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and coach Pete Carroll needed another excuse to run the ball on early downs. The team was almost comically conservative in its playoff loss to the Cowboys, so what's Schottenheimer going to do with third-year pro David Moore and rookie D.K. Metcalf as the team's second and third options behind Tyler Lockett?
Drafting Metcalf in the second round and Gary Jennings in the fourth were necessary attempts to make up for Baldwin's absence, but the best Seahawks wide receiver of the Carroll era will not be easy to replace.
Mike Davis, running back, Chicago Bears: Davis' surprisingly generous free agent contract, which included $3 million in 2019, had a lot of observers believing he was the favorite to lead the backfield in carries ahead of do-it-all satellite back Tarik Cohen, especially after running back Jordan Howard was traded to Philadelphia. The arrival of third-round pick David Montgomery could spell the end of Davis' best chances to win a starting job before training camp even arrived.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback, Miami Dolphins: Fitzpatrick surely expected he could be competing with a rookie when he signed in Miami following the trade of Ryan Tannehill to Tennessee. Instead, it will be second-year pro Josh Rosen, who was acquired via a draft-weekend swap with Arizona, and whose learning curve may not be as steep as a rookie's. If the goal of this rebuilding season is to evaluate which young players can be part of the next Dolphins playoff team, the coaching staff will be tempted to get the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft as many snaps as possible.
Case Keenum, quarterback, Washington Redskins: It was only a year ago that Keenum was basking in his arrival as a freshly minted starter in Denver. The Broncos were his fifth organization in as many seasons, but they were the first one willing to give him a Week 1 starting job without competition. That was never on the table in Washington, where he was traded after going 6-10 with a TD-to-INT ratio of 18:15 in his lone Broncos season. But the arrival of No. 15 overall pick Dwayne Haskins makes Keenum's path to snaps even more difficult. With Colt McCoy and Alex Smithboth recoveringfrom injuries, Keenum and Haskins figure to split the meaningful snaps throughout OTA season and into the preseason. If Haskins performs well in August, the tie will go to the rookie, as Keenum has been around long enough to realize.
Jordan Howard, running back, Philadelphia Eagles: If it wasn't clear already, Howard is a short-term solution in Philadelphia, where he arrived via trade in March. The former Bear's lack of passing-down chops will limit his playing time with the Eagles, as will the arrival of second-round pick Miles Sanders. The Eagles are smart to build a deep, diverse backfield, with Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood also still in the mix.
Kyle Rudolph, tight end, Minnesota Vikings: The 29-year-old Rudolph hasn't missed a game in over four seasons and still caught 64 passes last season despite diminishing big-play ability, but the arrival of second-round pick Irv Smith is a strong sign that ninth-year pro's role will change in 2019. Even if Rudolph holds off Smith for the starting job, he's likely to transition into the "role player" phase of his career.