Monday Morning Draft – Week 12

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 to the Bengals to fall to 0-11 on the season and maintain the top slot for the 2018 NFL Draft. Cleveland had some bad coaching this season, plus has been overmatched from a talent perspective on a weekly basis. The Browns are the 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 lost at home to Seattle on Sunday to fall to 1-10. Two weeks ago, San Francisco avoided an 0-16 season with a win over the Giants. 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 were dropped to 2-9 on the season as they lost to the Redskins on Thanksgiving. Last week, they won in overtime against the Chiefs, and that win will make it tough for the New York Giants to land the No. 1-overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. 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.

Buffalo Bills: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
The Bills pulled off a surprising upset of the Chiefs on the road as the Buffalo defense was able to shut down Kansas City. It was a nice bounce-back performance after getting blown out by the Chargers a week earlier. Buffalo got just enough offense to win the game, and clearly the Bills need more receiving weapons to go with the recently added Kelvin Benjamin. The Bills didn’t have a single wideout record even 40 yards receiving against the Chiefs.

In 2017, Sutton has 62 catches for 1,017 yards with 12 touchdowns. The giant receiver is a size mismatch who is very adept at getting downfield and making receptions over defensive backs. He has been an impressive wideout the past three seasons. Sutton has 31 career touchdown catches since his breakout 2015 season.

Tennessee Titans: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
The Titans have had a weak secondary all season, and one of the needs they should address in the offseason is improving their safety talent. On Sunday, Colts tight end Jack Doyle made seven receptions for 94 yards. Tennessee could use a safety who is capable of covering tight ends.

The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Reid has played really well in 2017, impressing NFL scouts. Sources who are tough graders said they believe Reid had first-round potential for the 2018 NFL Draft. They say that Reid doesn’t have Earl Thomas-like range as a free safety or Kam Chancellor-like size as a strong safety, but he does everything well. He is a good free or strong safety with the ability to run and tackle. They say that Reid is a polished, clean, good all-around safety similar to HaHa Clinton-Dix coming out of Alabama.

In 2017, Reid has 66 tackles with three passes broken up and five interceptions. He had 57 tackles with seven breakups as a sophomore. Reid is the younger brother of 49ers safety Eric Reid, a first-round pick out of LSU in 2013. Justin Reid would be a great fit for Tennessee’s first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

New England Patriots: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The Patriots ramped up the pass rush with seven sacks against the Dolphins on Sunday, and that helped protect the New England secondary. This season, the Patriots have experienced problems in coverage as Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore have had ugly moments. Butler is entering free agency, and New England is stuck with Gilmore’s massive contract. Thus, bringing in some more cornerback talent would make sense for the Patriots.

Ward has 34 tackles with 13 passes broken up and an interception in 2017. All year, he has been the Buckeyes’ best cover corner and is one of the best corners to run the route and lock down targets. Ward can struggle with big receivers making catches over him, but he is very good at preventing separation. For the NFL, Ward (5-10, 191) has good speed, athleticism, ball skills, and quick feet to run the route to prevent separation. Some sources believe he could end up being a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Carolina Panthers: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
The Panthers had a close win over the Jets on Sunday and surprisingly struggled to contain Josh McCown, who threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Carolina had a few sacks, but one of them came from Julius Peppers, and clearly Peppers is not a long-term answer at this point of his career. The Panthers have to get some young edge rushers to help improve their pass defense and ramp up a pass rush.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Ferrell has superb speed with athleticism and the ability to bend around the corner. On the season, he has 58 tackles with 16 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, one pass batted and two forced fumbles. Fellow defensive end Austin Bryant is playing himself into an early-rounder this year, but Bryant has done well cleaning up a lot of scrambling quarterbacks running away from Ferrell. Ferrell looks like a future first-round pick in the 2018 or 2019 draft, and if he gets to the Panthers first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, they would be very fortunate.

Los Angeles Chargers: Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia
The Chargers rolled the Cowboys in Dallas despite struggling to run the ball. Melvin Gordon was held to 65 yards on 21 carries, and the Chargers were able to win on the arm of Philip Rivers with their defense shutting down the Cowboys. Los Angeles upgraded its offensive line last year, but still could use more punch at the point of attack. The team could look for an upgrade over center Spencer Pulley and/or right guard Kenny Wiggins. Taking Isaiah Wynn on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft could form an improved interior with Forrest Lamp also coming back from injury.

Wynn (6-2, 302) has played really well in 2017. He has been very good in the ground game, pushing defenders around at the point of attack to open holes for Georgia’s stable of backs. Wynn has nice strength to get movement and blocks hard through the whistle. He also has shown some nice quickness and athleticism in pass protection, including impressive play to negate speed rushers this season. Wynn has some quickness, athleticism, and bending skills in pass protection. If Wynn was three inches taller, he would be a top-16 pick. But being short and lacking length makes him more of a second-day pick. Wynn could be an overachiever who stays at left tackle, or just plays as a guard, center, or right tackle in the NFL.

Minnesota Vikings: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Recent reports suggest that Minnesota defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd could be forced into retirement after he suffered nerve damage while having a minor procedure on his knee. The Vikings have fielded a tough defense this season without Floyd, but they could use a young three-technique for their scheme to replace Floyd in the long term.

Wilkins is an excellent athlete on the inside who has the versatility to also play defensive end. The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder is quick and athletic to rush the passer from the inside. Wilkins is able to collapse the pocket while also being a good run defender. In 2017, Wilkins has 44 tackles with seven for a loss and three sacks. He would make a lot of sense for the Vikings’ first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft if he gets to them late in the first round.

Washington Redskins: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Redskins won on Thanksgiving night against the Giants, and that win keeps the Redskins slim playoff hopes alive. Washington is a tough team that has lost a lot of close games, so the Redskins could easily win a few more down the stretch. The organization could be looking to draft a quarterback next April, as it sounds like Kirk Cousins won’t sign a long-term deal while the franchise tag could be prohibitively expensive. Washington isn’t going to be picking high enough to land the top signal-callers like UCLA’s Josh Rosen, USC’s Sam Darnold – if he declares-, and potentially Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. Thus, Washington will have to consider quarterbacks in the second group like Mayfield, Wyoming’s Josh Allen or Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson. Mayfield could be a fit for Jay Gruden.

Mayfield has completed 71 percent of his passes so far this season for 4,097 yards with 37 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also has five rushing touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 214-pounder is a gritty quarterback with accuracy in the short to intermediate part of the field. He has good mobility and is a play-maker.

Some in the media have said they think Mayfield will be a first-round pick. I reached out to some team sources, and they said that could be possible given the way quarterbacks rise. Mayfield is undersized for the NFL with just average arm strength. He can have issues reading defenses, too. One big area of improvement for Mayfield is his footwork as he gets happy feet in the pocket. One college scouting director told me that Mayfield’s feet are terrible. Those are things that Jay Gruden can improve with Mayfield. One team source said Mayfield is a better, strong-armed version of Jeff Garcia. Gruden coached Garcia with his brother in Tampa Bay, so a better version of Garcia could have an appeal to Jay Gruden.

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.

Philadelphia Eagles:
At 10-1, the best record in the NFL, the Eagles have made themselves the team to beat in the NFC. Philadelphia is on track to have the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a young franchise quarterback and a tough defense, the Eagles could end up winning their first Super Bowl in history. Even if they come up short, they should be a top Super Bowl contender for many years to come as they have one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL with Carson Wentz. Now, Philadelphia just has the task of building up the talent around Wentz.

The Eagles traded away their second-round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft in the move to get Wentz. Their third-round pick went to the Bills for Ronald Darby, and a fourth-round pick went to Miami for Jay Ajayi. Philadelphia still has another fourth-rounder from trading Sam Bradford to Minnesota. As of right now, the Eagles only have a first- and fourth-round pick before their late-round selections.

Philadelphia signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in the offseason, but they may not be in the long-term plans. Getting a No. 1 receiver to grow with Wentz would make a lot of sense. The Eagles won’t be picking high enough to land Alabama’s Calvin Ridley or SMU’s Courtland Sutton, but there could be other good candidates late in the first round. In my latest mock 2018 NFL Draft, I have the Eagles taking Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, and he could be a steal for Philadelphia. St. Brown is a massive receiver who has enough quickness to get downfield. He could be a serious mismatch weapon for Philadelphia. Other receivers who could warrant consideration late in the first round include Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk or Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs.

On the same side of the ball, another need Philadelphia could consider would be an offensive tackle. Jason Peters is out for the season and turns 36 in January. Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey would be a great fit for the Eagless, but he probably will be long gone when they pick late in the first round. Considering this is a weak tackle class, Philadelphia shouldn’t reach for another tackle. Some fourth-round steals for the Eagles to consider include West Georgia’s Desmond Harrison and Washington State’s Andre Dillard.

The Eagles have some minor needs on the defensive side of the ball, but the offense needs more help. With limited resources, getting more talent around Wentz should be the priority in the 2018 NFL Draft. With a good defense and Wentz, Philadelphia could easily end up winning its first Super Bowl championship in the next few years.

Seattle Seahawks:
The Seahawks have been up and down throughout the 2017 season. At times, they have looked like they are poised to go on a run of victories and head into the postseason with a real shot at getting to the Super Bowl. Other weeks, Seattle looks like it is on the decline and not close to being in championship form. Injuries, contracts to keep the defense intact, and age have taken a toll on the roster. However with Russell Wilson in his prime, Seattle should remain in the Super Bowl mix for many years to come.

Offensively, the Seahawks have been held back by their offensive line during the past few seasons, and it has been a weakness once again in 2017. Seattle made a trade for aging left tackle Duane Brown out of desperation to immediately upgrade the protection for Russell Wilson. Brown’s best football is behind him, and he turns 33 next preseason, but he should be good for another year or two. Brown certainly is better than the players Seattle has played at left tackle in recent seasons, but the team paid a huge price with a third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and a second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Between the trade for Brown and Sheldon Richardson, the Seahawks are without any second-day picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

In the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Seahawks could look to continue to build up their offensive line. Seattle probably won’t be picking high enough to land Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, but might have a shot at Fighting Irish left tackle Mike McGlinchey. Taking McGlinchey would make sense as he could be an upgrade at right tackle. In a few years, the Seahawks could move him to left to replace Brown and have their long-term blind-side protector for Russell Wilson. If the Seahawks take McGlinchey, they could move Germain Idedi inside to guard and upgrade two spots on their line. With Brown in-house for an entire season, the Seattle offensive line could be dramatically improved in 2018 if the team were to land McGlinchey.

On defense, Seattle could consider some youth for pass-rushers and in the secondary when they pick in the mid-rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. Miami defensive end Chad Thomas, Ole Miss Marquis Haynes and UTSA’s Marcus Davenport could be intriguing edge rushers who would be nice fits. Davenport and Thomas could end up being second-day picks, but Haynes could be a fourth-rounder who contributes as a pass-rusher for the Seahawks.

Seattle also could consider some cornerback help as the team tried to trade Richard Sherman last offseason and he is now coming off a serious injury. In the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, a big corner who runs fast and can play press man is Illinois’ Jaylen Dunlap. Another press-man corner who could be a good fit would be Virginia Tech’s Adonis Alexander. If the Seahawks took a press-man corner in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, a player who could mesh well in their scheme is Florida State’s Tarvarus McFadden.

With injuries and inconsistency on the offensive line, Seattle may not be in position to make a Super Bowl this year. However, a good draft and getting players back could have the Seahawks in championship form in 2018.

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