Monday Morning Draft is back! This is a column that delves into the past weekend's action from an NFL Draft perspective. As the season goes on, the draft picture and slotting will become more clear, but every Sunday will provide a few hints for next April.
The Browns made history by finishing 0-16 in the 2017 season with a loss to the Steelers backups. It was fitting for Sashi Brown, Hue Jackson, Andrew Berry, and Paul Depodesta that their first draft pick in Corey Coleman dropped an easy pass at the Pittsburgh 10-yard line late in the fourth quarter to clinch the winless season.
Cleveland had some bad coaching in 2017, plus was overmatched from a talent perspective on a weekly basis. The Browns were the last winless team in the NFL and did not significantly improve over the 2016 season despite lots of spending in free agency to go along with high draft picks. That lack of talent and passing on franchise quarterbacks ended up costing Sashi Brown his job after a stretch of 1-27 running the Browns.
As stated by owner Jimmy Haslam, finding a franchise quarterback is the No. 1 priority for new general manager John Dorsey. With the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Dorsey will have his choice among candidates of Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson. At this point, Rosen would be the favorite to be that pick.
To add insult to injury this year, the Browns lost to the three quarterbacks they've passed on recently and who look like three future franchise signal-callers. Carson Wentz won over them earlier in the year, and then the Texans' Deshaun Watson killed Cleveland's defense, teasing the organization with what could have been if it hadn't passed on him twice in the 2017 NFL Draft. Mitch Trubisky put the final insult to the season with the Week 16 win over Cleveland.
Let's Play Matchmaker:
This section will look at some of the top talent in college football and match those prospects up with teams that have a dire need at the position.
New England Patriots: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
The Patriots lost the Super Bowl because they couldn't pressure Nick Foles, allowing the Eagles' offense to ripp the New England defense from start to finish. Tom Brady and his offense scored enough to win, but with the defense allowing Foles to throw four touchdowns, Brady was shockingly outscored. If the Patriots hadn't traded away Chandler Jones, one has to think this game could have been drastically different. This is not a strong draft for edge-rushing talent, but New England could land a contributor with its first-round pick.
The 6-foot-5, 266-pound Hubbard has a first-round skill set with size, speed and athleticism. In 2017, Hubbard collected 43 tackles with 13.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks. His numbers could have been higher, but Ohio State used a heavy four-man rotation at defensive end with Jalyn Holmes, Tyquan Lewis and Nick Bosa. If Hubbard had played every down, he easily could have produced a season of double-digit sacks. Hubbard has an excellent skill set with upside to be a better pro than college player. Bill Belichick could get more production out of Hubbard and has been inclined to draft players from Urban Meyer programs. Additionally, Greg Schiano could end up in New England. Hubbard fits the Patriots in a variety of ways and could be one of them in a few months.