Monday Morning Draft – Week 6

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.

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

Race for the No. 1 Pick:

Cleveland Browns:
Currently, Cleveland is in line for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Browns were dropped to 0-6 on the season as they were dominated by the Texans in Houston. It was an especially painful loss as Deshaun Watson killed the Browns’ defense, teasing Cleveland with what could have been if the organization hadn’t passed on Watson twice in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Prior to this game, the Browns lost some closer contests, including three winnable games against teams that have struggled or are rebuilding. The Browns don’t look as improved as the preseason hype suggested.

If the Browns end up getting the 2018 NFL Draft’s No. 1 pick, the current front office’s M.O. would be to trade down to a quarterback-needy team for a boatload of draft picks. After taking DeShone Kizer in the second round last year, Cleveland may decide to pass on taking another young quarterback. While the Browns have added a lot of young talent, those trades led to them passing on young franchise quarterbacks in Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. This current regime also passed on Dak Prescott, while the previous regime took Johnny Manziel instead of Derek Carr.

San Francisco 49ers:
Once again, San Francisco lost a close game, this time to the Redskins. The 49ers are in the running for the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, but considering how close their games have been, the 49ers shouldn’t go 0-16 this year.

San Francisco almost pulled off an upset at Seattle in Week 2, but the Seahawks were able to prevail 12-9. The 49ers were leading in Arizona in overtime before Larry Fitzgerald stole a win for the Cardinals. This week, the 49ers tied the game late in Indianapolis before the Colts pulled off the victory. San Francisco is 0-6 to start the season, but has been more competitive than one would have thought.

General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan were afforded plenty of time in the form of 6-year contracts, so ownership is expected to be patient with this regime after being on its fourth head coach in four years. The 49ers are in dire need for a franchise quarterback to build around. USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and UCLA’s Josh Rosen could be fits for the 49ers’ first-round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.

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.

Los Angeles Rams: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The Rams won on the road at Jacksonville to get off to a 4-2 start to the 2017 season. Sean McVay and Greg Olson have done an amazing job getting vast improvement out of Jared Goff this year, while also rejuvenating Todd Gurley. Los Angeles’ offensive line did have some issues with the Jaguars’ defense, especially Calais Campbell. Adding more talent to the offensive line to protect Goff and open holes for Gurley would make sense.

The 6-foot-5, 325-pound Nelson is a powerful blocker at the point of attack. He has the ability to blast defensive linemen out of their gaps and open holes to the second level. Nelson also is rock solid in pass protection. Some team sources have compared him to Logan Mankins. If the Rams continue on their path and make the postseason, taking a guard like Nelson in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft could make sense for the Rams.

New Orleans Saints: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
The Saints won a shootout over the Lions, and New Orleans is in excellent position in the NFC South with all three division rivals losing this week. The Saints had their running backs total 189 yards against Detroit, but they didn’t have a single receiver top 66 yards through the air. The Saints still have work to do on their defense, but they also could use a receiving tight end as Coby Fleener has been a disappointment and Jimmy Graham hasn’t truly been replaced yet. Andrews could be a nice fit for New Orleans on Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The 6-foot-5, 254-pound Andrews is an athletic receiver with quickness to produce big plays downfield. Last week against Texas, he had a 59-yard touchdown, and on the season, he has 23 receptions for 459 yards and three scores. Andrews is averaging nearly 20 yards per reception and is a dangerous weapon down the seam. He would be a great fit in the Saints’ offense to replicate what Graham brought to their scoring attack.

Arizona Cardinals: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The Cardinals were winning 24-0 at halftime against Tampa Bay before holding on to win 38-33 as the Bucs ripped off 27 fourth-quarter points, with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing for 290 yards and three touchdowns. Arizona is still getting good play out of Patrick Peterson, but the team’s defense could use more cornerback talent around him.

Sources from multiple teams have said they’ve been impressed with Ward’s speed, athleticism, and ball skills. Ward has shown that he is adept at running the route to prevent separation. The 5-foot-10, 191-pounder could be a nickelback, but also competes well to get consideration as an outside corner. This season, Ward has 20 tackles with nine passes broken up and an interception. He’s on his way to being a potential first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and would be a good upgrade for Arizona as a cover corner to play opposite Peterson.

Washington Redskins: Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky
The Redskins allowed 17 second-half points and held on to a narrow two-point win over the 49ers. Washington has really improved its secondary in recent years and still could use more talent for the front seven. Allen would be a nice addition to help the Redskins at inside and outside linebacker to get after the quarterback and defend the ground game.

As I reported in the Hot Press recently, sources from multiple teams say that Kentucky’s Josh Allen could end up being a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder has been one of the leading defenders in terms of sacks in the early going of the 2017 season with 6.5. Allen also has two forced fumbles, 35 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and one pass batted. One national scout compared Allen to Leonard Floyd coming out of Georgia with Allen’s ability to rush off the edge. Allen also can play inside linebacker. An AFC director of college scouting told me that as an inside linebacker, Allen has similarities to current Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham in terms of his height, speed, length, and athleticism in the middle. Allen would help the Redskins to rush the quarterback, defend against running quarterbacks, and stuff the ground attack.

Minnesota Vikings: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Vikings took advantage of the Packers being without Aaron Rodgers, shutting out Green Bay in the second half to win 23-10 at home. This offseason, the Vikings are going to have to look hard at their options at quarterback. Sam Bradford is entering free agency, Teddy Bridgewater’s return is unknown, and Case Keenum is a good backup. After seeing what Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson have done for their respective teams, Minnesota could look to add a similar play-making quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. Lamar Jackson could be the closest thing available to Prescott and Watson.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Jackson has an amazing skill set with a cannon for an arm that can make incredible throws. His arm is so strong that he can make passes off platform without his feet set that many other NFL quarterbacks could never dream of making. Jackson also is a great athlete with superb running ability and speed as a runner. This season, Jackson has completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,322 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has also taken 91 carries for 510 yards and seven rushing touchdowns. Jackson is going to be a dynamic weapon who is going to present major problems for defenses. Having Jackson and a healthy Dalvin Cook could make Minnesota’s offense a point-machine.

Houston Texans: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
The Texans destroyed the Browns at home with Deshaun Watson dominating a team that passed on him twice last April. Houston’s offensive line did allow Watson to take too many hits, and the line has been a weakness throughout this season. Duane Brown is holding out and may not be in the long-term plans anymore for the Texans. Guard Xavier Su’a-Filo is entering free agency, while right guard Jeff Allen has been disappointing since signing from Kansas City. In the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Texans could target some better blocking for Watson.

Wynn (6-2, 302) has impressed scouts this season as he has been an excellent run blocker for Georgia. Wynn blocks with aggression and has a temperament that is hard to find in college blockers. In pass protection, he has been very dependable as well. Because Wynn is shorter and doesn’t have ideal length, some sources think that he could move to guard or center in the NFL. Wynn started at left guard in 2016, but scouts think he is athletic enough to also play center at the next level. Wynn’s size and skill set has drawn comparisons to Kelvin Beachum, who is undersized but has managed to carve out a career at left tackle in the NFL.

Philadelphia Eagles: Mark Fields, CB, Clemson
The Eagles held off a comeback attempt by the Panthers to stay atop the NFC East. I think Philadelphia landed a steal on Day 2 last April with Sidney Jones, who I think could end up being a No. 1 corner in the NFL. In the draft to come, Philadelphia could target more cornerback talent to build around Jones, particularly a corner who is shifty and has the ability to run to prevent separation would make sense. Having a fast athletic corner would help the Eagles to match up against division rivals like Odell Beckham Jr., Cole Beasley and Jamison Crowder.

Fields could be an outside or slot corner in the NFL as he can run with receivers. He has 15 tackles with two passes broken up this season, all while providing steady coverage on the outside. In 2016, Fields was the nickelback for Clemson, recording one interception with four passes broken up. On the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, Fields could be a good fit for the Eagles.

Team Draft Report:

In this section, we take a deeper look at specific teams and where they stand in regards to the 2018 NFL Draft.

Chicago Bears:
After Week 4, the Bears wisely decided to bench quarterback Mike Glennon and play first-round pick Mitch Trubisky. There was a common thought that Trubisky should sit as a rookie and learn before getting playing time, but I disagreed with that considering Trubisky only started one year in college. I think he needs more playing time and live-fire experience; he sat enough watching at North Carolina for multiple seasons. With Trubisky in house as the future, the Bears now have to surround him with talent to help him become the franchise quarterback they drafted him to be.

The Bears have a good interior of their offensive line and are committed to Charles Leno at left tackle, so taking an offensive lineman in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft is unlikely. Running back is in great shape with Jordan Howard as the feature back and Tarik Cohen as the change-of-pace back. Chicago also has a freak athlete at tight end with rookie Adam Shaheen. What Trubisky needs is more talent at wide receiver. Kevin White hasn’t panned out as injuries have derailed his career. Chicago needs a true No. 1 receiver for Trubisky. In the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, some players to consider include Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, Alabama’s Calvin Ridley and SMU’s Courtland Sutton.

The Bears could even double up at receiver because they really don’t have any clear long-term starters. A wideout who could be a steal on Day 2 is Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown. He has an excellent skill set that goes under the radar because the Fighting Irish have a quarterback who struggles to pass. Other good targets at the top of the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft include Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs Jr., Ohio State’s Parris Campbell and Washington’s Dante Pettis.

Defensively, the Bears could consider help for the secondary. Kyle Fuller is entering free agency, and he was drafted for Mel Tucker’s Tampa 2 scheme. Chicago could look for a better scheme fit to play man coverage. Some corners to consider include Ole Miss’ Ken Webster, Ohio State’s Denzel Ward and Auburn’s Carlton Davis.

The other defensive need is safety. Quintin Demps was a nice signing, but Chicago could use an upgrade at free safety. Florida State’s Derwin James would be a great fit for the Bears and is one of the top talents in the 2018 NFL Draft. A prospect who is just about as good is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick. Either one would be a tremendous addition to Chicago’s stop unit.

While the Bears are still rebuilding, they have some good building blocks. They have a talented defensive front seven to be the backbone of the team. They have a talented rushing attack with good young runners and an offensive line. If Trubisky pans out, the Bears could be back in the postseason before long.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
Six weeks into the 2017 season, the Jaguars look like they are in good position to win the AFC South this year. Injuries to top players on Houston’s defense, along with injuries to Andrew Luck and Marcus Mariota, have kept the Texans, Colts, and Titans from getting off to winning streaks and controlling the division. The Jaguars could take advantage of the situation as it could be hard for those teams to make up for some lost games from early in the year. Behind a superb defense and a tough running game, Jacksonville could break its playoff drought this year.

Bringing in Tom Coughlin to run the franchise seems like a wise move as he has given the Jaguars more direction from the top. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash is the real hero for how he has the Jaguars’ defense playing on a weekly basis this season. Sources with the Jaguars told me that Doug Marrone undermined former head coach Gus Bradley, and Marrone’s plan worked as he was able to take the head coaching job from underneath Bradley. Marrone was awful as the Jaguars’ offensive line coach in 2015 and 2016. In his first season with the Jaguars, Marrone was so negligent at putting in running plays into the game plan that the team had to go to offensive line assistant coach Luke Butkus to do Marrone’s duties. Butkus left after that season to go to Illinois, and Marrone was successful at taking Bradley’s job out from underneath him last year. Marrone was wise to retain Wash as the defensive coordinator.

Coughlin had a good draft in his first year back with the Jaguars. General manager Dave Caldwell has not drafted well with his first-round picks, including a bust with the No. 2-overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, left tackle Luke Joeckel, and then following that up by taking Blake Bortles with the third pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Caldwell and Bradley failed epically at quarterback evaluation that year as they had Derek Carr on their Senior Bowl team but couldn’t recognize a good quarterback despite working with him for an entire week. The Jaguars have won this year when Bortles has avoided mistakes and functioned just as a game manager. That formula could get them to the playoffs, but Bortles isn’t going to be good enough for them to beat teams like New England, Kansas City or Denver. Thus, landing a franchise quarterback is the top need and priority for the 2018 offseason.

Luckily for the Jaguars, this draft class could be exceptionally deep at quarterback. USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson are all worthy of heavy consideration for Jacksonville. There was a lot of talk around the league that Coughlin loved Deshaun Watson last year, and while Fournette was a great pick, it looks like passing on Watson for Fournette was a mistake. However, Jacksonville could target a similar dual-threat quarterback in Jackson or Allen. Thorson and Darnold have real moxie with superb intangibles of leadership, character, intelligence, and work ethic. They could appeal to Coughlin. The no-nonsense style of Coughlin and Marrone could clash with the questionable character of Rosen, but the Jaguars probably won’t be picking high enough to get Rosen anyway. Targeting Darnold, Jackson, Allen or Thorson could make a lot of sense for Jacksonville’s first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

If the Jaguars mistakenly decide to stick with Bortles in 2018, they could look to upgrade the offensive line with a tackle to go with Cam Robinson. Jeremy Parnell has been up-and-down since coming over from Dallas. Jacksonville could target a tackle like Washington’s Trey Adams, Texas’ Connor Williams, Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey or Mississsippi State’s Martinas Rankin.

The Jaguars also could consider looking for a guard upgrade over A.J. Cann. Guards are the engine of a rushing attack, and Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson is a bulldozer who would open a lot of holes for Leonard Fournette. Nelson is the top guard for the 2018 NFL Draft and had received first-round grades a year ago before deciding to return to South Bend. Some scouts have compared Nelson to being a Logan Mankins-type guard, and that could be worth the Jaguars using a first-round pick on him depending on how high they are drafting. If they look to get guard help on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, they could consider players like Ohio State’s Billy Price, UTEP’s Will Hernandez and Auburn’s Braden Smith.

Wide receiver is another position that Jacksonville could take in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Allen Robinson went out for the year early in the season opener and will be a free agent after the season. Marqise Lee will also be a free agent, and the organization may not bring those players back considering Caldwell overpaid Allen Hurns in his contract extension. Additioanlly, Lee and Robinson might want to sign elsewhere with a better quarterback. If the Jaguars take a receiver in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, they could think of Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, Alabama’s Calvin Ridley or SMU’s Courtland Sutton.

Tight end could be another position to address on the first or second day of the 2018 NFL Draft. Starting tight end Marcedes Lewis is aging, and Jacksonville could use a future contributor. South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst is a first-round talent who could make sense if Jacksonville is picking in the 20s. On Day 2, some candidates to consider would include Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews and Wisconsin’s Troy Fumagalli.

The Jaguars have one of the top defenses in the NFL, so the 2018 NFL Draft should be focused on the team improving the offense with more talent for the offensive line and wide receivers. Landing a quarterback upgrade is essential to making the Jaguars a legit Super Bowl contender.

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