Monday Morning Draft – Week 11

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:
The Browns lost at home to the Jaguars to fall to 0-10 on the season and retain the top slot for the 2018 NFL Draft. Cleveland had some bad coaching this season, plus has been overmatched in a talent perspective on a weekly basis. The Browns are last winless team in the NFL, and they have not significantly improved over last season despite lots of spending in free agency to go along with high draft picks. Many around the NFL think that the Haslams are going to clean house after this season and fire the front office and coaching staff.

To add insult to injury this year, the Browns have lost to the two quarterbacks they’ve passed on recently and who look like budding stars. Carson Wentz won over them earlier in the year, and then later the Browns were dominated by the Texans in Houston. 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.

Prior to the Houston 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:
The 49ers had a bye on Sunday. Last week, San Francisco won at home against the New York Giants to avoid an 0-16 season and improve to 1-9. Since the start of the season, I had predicted the 49ers wouldn’t go winless, ergo I’m not surprised they finally got a win. They’ve played a lot of teams well, including near upsets of Seattle, the Rams and Arizona.

The 49ers are still in the running for the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, but considering how close some of their games have been, I think the 49ers could win a few more games and are likely to be picking behind the Browns and Giants.

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 traded their high second-round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo, so he will be their quarterback of the future who they build around. Thus, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley would make the most sense for San Francisco’s first-round pick as he is the top prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft.

New York Giants:
The Giants improved to 2-8 on the season as they won in overtime against the Chiefs. In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Giants will have to consider looking for their next franchise quarterback given the age and declining play of Eli Manning. Having taken Davis Webb in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft isn’t enough of a commitment of resources to pass on a quarterback in Round 1 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.

Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Bengals didn’t have a consistent offense in their road win, but against Brock Osweiler and the Denver offense, they didn’t need one. Cincinnati’s offensive line gave up a few sacks and couldn’t get the run game established with Joe Mixon. All season, the Bengals’ blocking as been a liability. Improving their offensive line is essential next offseason, and McGlinchey could be the only offensive tackle worth considering for their first-round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Taking a tackle like McGlinchey would allow Cincinnati to move Cedric Ogbuehi or Jake Fisher to guard and upgrade two positions.

This is not a strong offensive tackle draft, but McGlinchey would be an upgrade for the Bengals. He is a steady pass protector who has decent athleticism, technique and an ability to sustain blocks on the edge. McGlinchey has been very good as a run blocker this year, as Notre Dame has fielded a superb ground attack that rolls over teams on a weekly basis. Many left tackles are finesse athletes on the edge, but McGlinchey is a rare left tackle who can move defenders as a run blocker. Taking McGlinchey in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft could make sense for the Bengals, depending on where they end up picking. If they are picking late in the top 10 or in the teens, McGlinchey could be a good option for them.

Detroit Lions: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
For years now, the Lions’ offense has lacked balance as they struggle to run the ball. Matthew Stafford and the passing attack has to carry the load on a weekly basis. Adding a running element would make Stafford and the defense better. In the early rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, Detroit has to consider taking a feature back to bring the team a ground attack.

Chubb is averaging 6.3 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,045 yards with 10 touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 220-pounder is akin to a human bowling ball, rolling over tacklers and and being a physical force in the SEC. He is a powerful runner who also has the quickness to rip off yards in chunks. Chubb has a real burst to the hole and acceleration to the second-level defense. He uses that speed to consistently break runs into sizable gains. His body lean and ability to run behind his pads is excellent. That makes it very difficult for defenders to get a hold of Chubb and get him to the ground. He has shown quality ball security as well.

Los Angeles Chargers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
The Chargers rolled the Bills at home on Sunday as Nate Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half of his opening start. This season, Los Angeles has dealt with shaky safety play, and against the Bills, the Chargers did have problems defending LeSean McCoy. Adding a do-it-all play-maker like Fitzpatrick could provide a lot of stability for Los Angeles in the back end and provide the team with a problem solver for running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.

This season, Fitzpatrick has 44 tackles, one interception, six passes broken up and a forced fumble. He is dynamic defender who has great instincts and is extremely smart. Not only is Fitzpatrick a talented free safety who is excellent as the deep center fielder, he can play man coverage on tight ends and slot receivers as a nickel corner. He also is a capable run defender who can be the eighth man in the box and tackle. If the Chargers have a shot at Fitzpatrick, he could make a lot of sense with their first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

New Orleans Saints: Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky
The Saints were able to win their eighth straight at home, against the Redskins, despite New Orleans’ defense struggling to contain Kirk Cousins. He threw for 322 yards with three touchdowns. The Saints didn’t have a steady pass rush, although they recorded two sacks, with one of them coming from safety Von Bell. This offseason, the Saints could use more edge-rushing talent to go across from Cam Jordan.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Allen has been impressive this season. The junior has seven sacks with 56 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, one interception and three passes batted on the year. He produced well as a sophomore in 2016 with 62 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and four forced fumbles. Allen is an interesting player as he is a hybrid linebacker who can rush off the edge while also having the ability to be an inside linebacker. Allen could be a nice addition for the Saints to use in a variety of ways.

New York Giants: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Giants have now won their second game of the season, but they are still on track to have a high first-rounder. Clearly, their offense could use a quarterback of the future as Eli Manning is aging and declining. New York could use a signal-caller who is a play-maker and has some mobility considering the issues the team is having on the offensive line. Jackson could be a nice fit who would revitalize the Giants’ offense if they build it around what Jackson does well, similar to what Houston did with Deshaun Watson before he was injured.

In 2017, Jackson has completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,273 yards with 23 touchdowns and six interceptions. He is averaging 6.8 yards per carry on the ground on his way to 1,287 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Jackson has a great athletic skill set, including a powerful arm that can make all throws the NFL requires and some rare passes. While his tremendous running ability gets a lot of attention, Jackson is better passing from the pocket than he is given credit for. Jackson will take some shots and deliver good passes in the face of the rush. He also handles Bobby Petrino’s scheme well. Jackson can be inconsistent with his accuracy, and he needs to add weight to his frame for the NFL. He also needs to develop maturity in his leadership skills as he can be of one of the guys too much. One general manager told me they think Jackson could end up going No. 1 overall because he’s a taller and better version of Michael Vick.

Houston Texans: Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh
The Texans are going to have to revamp their secondary this offseason. The team needs a safety to go with Andre Hal, while aging cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson need to be replaced as well. With a likely compensatory pick and the Seahawks’ third-rounder, Houston will have three third-round picks, so the organization could look to get one or two defensive backs with those selections.

A safety who could make a lot of sense for the Texans is Pittsburgh’s Jordan Whitehead. He is a free safety who flies around the field and has good instincts to go with coverage skills. In 2017, Whitehead has 58 tackles with three breakups and an interception. He missed three games to open the year, however, and also had his playing time on defense decreased by also playing some running back for the Panthers. Whitehead could be a nice value pick for Houston in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
The Steelers took care of business on Thursday night as they received an excellent game from Antonio Brown. With Brown and the emergence of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh has its receivers in good hands for many years to come. One position that the team could use a long-term weapon at is tight end. Against the Titans’ weak safeties and secondary, Steelers tight end Jesse James had only 21 yards on five receptions. He is more of a backup tight end in the NFL, and Pittsburgh needs a true replacement for Heath Miller.

The 6-foot-5, 254-pound Andrews is a natural receiving tight end. He is a fluid athlete in the open field who also has good quickness. In 2017, Andrews has totaled 47 receptions for 787 yards and five touchdowns. He would be an upgrade over James and could be a dynamic weapon in the middle of the field with defenses so concerned over Le’Veon Bell, Brown and Smith-Schuster. Taking Andrews in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft could be a good value for Pittsburgh.

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.

Denver Broncos:
Entering the 2017 season, the big question for Denver was who was going to be the starting quarterback for the franchise this year. Trevor Siemian beat out 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch, but struggled during the season. After Siemian struggled, Denver turned to Brock Osweiler, who also has predictably struggled. As we reported in the Hot Press, the Broncos are aggressively scouting the top quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft and are definitely in the market for a new franchise quarterback. That is the biggest problem area for Denver to address in the 2018 offseason.

In my latest mock 2018 NFL Draft, I have the Broncos taking USC quarterback Sam Darnold, and such a pick makes a lot of sense. Darnold has a pro skill set with an “it” factor of excellent intangibles. If Darnold returns to school or goes ahead earlier than the Broncos’ pick, they could also consider quarterbacks like UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson or Wyoming’s Josh Allen. Allen may not be a good fit because he has similarities to Lynch as a great skill set but needing lots of development for the NFL. Still, targeting a quarterback in Round 1 in the 2018 NFL Draft is the priority for Denver.

On the same side of the ball, the Broncos also could use more offensive line talent. They could use a tackle to pair with Garett Bolles as well as considering some interior upgrades. A nice pick early in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft could be Oklahoma left tackle Orlando Brown. Brown would be a good fit at right tackle in the NFL, and he would give Denver a bookend to pair with Bolles. Other good second-day candidates for the Broncos’ offensive line include Auburn guard Braden Smith, Ohio State’s center Billy Price and Georgia left tackle Isaiah Wynn, who easily could move to guard or center in the NFL. Two players whp Denver should stay away from are Texas tackle Connor Williams and Clemson tackle Mitch Hyatt. Both lack strength and could be Tyler Sambrailo 2.0.

Denver also could consider adding some receiving talent for its new quarterback or even more talent to go in the backfield. C.J. Anderson is a quality pro back, but Jamaal Charles isn’t a long-term contributor given his age and durability. A nice fit for the team could be a receiving back like N.C. State’s Jaylen Samuels. He could form a potent combination with Anderson.

On defense, the Broncos still have a unit capable of leading them to deep in the postseason. One area they could consider is cornerback if they decide to move on from Aqib Talib. The offensive needs, however, are much more urgent.

Broncos general manager John Elway built Denver to win a Super Bowl two years ago, but he hasn’t been able to find the franchise a quarterback of the future. His second-round pick in Osweiler and first-round pick in Lynch have been busts for the Broncos. Elway is under the gun to get it right and land Denver a franchise quarterback. If he does, the Broncos could be holding up another Lombardi trophy before long.

Kansas City Chiefs:
In the early weeks of the 2017 season, the Chiefs were the best team in the NFL, rolling up big point totals to beat some good opponents like the Patriots, the Eagles and the Deshaun Watson-led Texans. Kansas City hasn’t been as good since Week 5 though, dropping games to the Steelers, the Raiders and the Cowboys. After their bye week, the Chiefs had an embarrassing loss to the 1-8 Giants. With this loss combined with other recent games, Kansas City does not look like it is capable of beating the Patriots or Steelers in January. The Chiefs are an interesting team as they will have to decide if Alex Smith returns or if they are ready to turn the team over to Pat Mahomes. Either way there are some areas to improve on both sides of the ball for the Chiefs.

On defense, Kansas City could use a pass-rusher to be ready to replace Tamba Hali. He is nearing the end of a great career, and the team will need a third rusher to go with Justin Houston and Dee Ford. In the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, some good rushers who would fit Kansas City’s scheme well are USC’s Porter Gustin and Florida State’s Josh Sweat. However, both have injury and durability issues. Southeast Louisiana’s Sione Teuhema would also be a great fit in the second or third round.

Kansas City also could use a cornerback upgrade across from Marcus Peters. In the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, some good candidates to consider would include LSU’s Donte Jackson, Central Florida’s Mike Hughes, Maryland’s J.C. Jackson and Louisville’s Jaire Alexander. The cornerback talent could provide better values than the edge rushers.

Offensively, the Chiefs could use more talent at wide receiver to go with Tyreek Hill. Kansas City has youth on its offensive line and in the backfield with one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Getting another wideout would make the offense more potent. Some good receivers to consider on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft would be Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, Ohio State’s Parris Campbell and Memphis’ Anthony Miller.

At the beginning of the season, it looked like the Chiefs were knocking on the door of a Super Bowl run. If Mahomes is as good as they believe he will be, then they should be in the mix for a Lombardi in the years to come. This draft could provide a few more pieces to help Kansas City take the next step.

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