Monday Morning Draft – Week 13

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 Chargers to fall to 0-12 on the season and maintain the top slot for the 2018 NFL Draft. Cleveland has 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. 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. One would think that a new Browns front office would probably look to draft their own quarterback with their first selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.

San Francisco 49ers:
San Francisco won at Chicago on Sunday to improve to 2-10. Throughout the season, the 49ers have played some tough football, so it wasn’t surprising that they won over a bad Bears team.

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 another 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 2-10 on the season as they lost to the Raiders. Two weeks ago, the Giants won in overtime against the Chiefs, and that win will make it tough for New York 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.

Baltimore Ravens: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Baltimore put up a surprising point total with a 24-point win over Detroit. The Ravens have struggled offensively this year, but against the Lions, they exploded for 44 points. Mike Wallace had five receptions for 116 yards, and they rolled up 24 points in the fourth quarter. This game gave the Ravens a glimpse of what they could be with a productive passing attack. Getting Joe Flacco more weapons could help them to be more consistent in 2018.

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 the beginning of his breakout 2015 season.

Oakland Raiders: Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
The Raiders surprisingly got a good game from Marshawn Lynch, but it came against the reeling Giants. Lynch is clearly declining and hasn’t been the force that Oakland was hoping it was getting when the veteran brought him out of retirement. Over the years to come, the Raiders are going to need a more reliable rushing attack with a feature back to take the pressure off of Derek Carr and set up more favorable down-and-distance situations consistently.

Harris has run really well for the Crimson Tide in 2017, averaging 8.2 yards per carry for 906 yards with 11 touchdowns, plus has eight receptions for 66 yards. In speaking with scouts, they like Harris and think he has turned himself into a well-rounded player through hard work and dedication. Some sources have compared Harris to Doug Martin as a NFL comparison. Harris (5-11, 214) has good quickness, power, vision, balance, and the ability to hurt defenses with power or speed. He also has shown some ability in the passing game. With Alabama’s running back rotation, Harris also enters the NFL without much wear-and-tear from college. He could be a nice pick for Oakland on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia
The Jaguars kept pace to make the postseason with a home win over the Colts. Jacksonville has been very good at winning this year despite the limitations of Blake Bortles, fielding a tremendous defense and a tough running game. Indianapolis doesn’t have a great defense and sold out to stop Leonard Fournette, holding him to 57 yards on 20 carries. The Jaguars are going to be picking too low to land any of the first-round offensive linemen in the 2018 NFL Draft, so Jacksonville could look to improve its run blocking for Fournette on Day 2 while adding a quarterback, a wide receiver, or defensive help in Round 1.

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.

Green Bay Packers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Packers won at home against their former NFC Central rivals the Buccaneers. Green Bay won the battle of the bays despite Tampa Bay really hurting the home team with Peyton Barber and tight end Cameron Brate. Smith would be a solution to both of those issues as he is a fantastic run defender who also is good in pass coverage. He is sufficiently fast and athletic to play man-to-man on tight ends while also performing well in zone.

The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder is a linebacker who has impressed scouting sources, who have compared him to the Falcons’ recent second-day picks of the LSU duo of Deion Jones and Duke Riley. They think that Smith is a better prospect than either of them and could be a NFL linebacker similar to Lavonte David. Smith is a very fast and physical linebacker who flies around the field. Along with great speed, he has excellent instincts and the ability to cover. Smith should be an impact-making three-down starter in the NFL quickly in his NFL career. Smith has 113 tackles with 5.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two passes batted in 2017. Smith could make sense for the Packers’ first-round pick.

San Francisco 49ers: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
The 49ers enjoyed their second win of the season, with Jimmy Garoppolo getting his first start for San Francisco. Garoppolo threw for almost 300 yards and spread the ball around to a few receivers. Marquise Goodwin has played well for the 49ers this year and was a good addition by San Francisco. However, he is best as a complementary No. 2 receiver and the 49ers could use a true No. 1. In the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, San Francisco would be very fortunate to land a mismatch talent like St. Brown.

St. Brown has 31 receptions for 468 yards and four touchdowns in 2017. His production and opportunities are getting killed by the lack of passing talent with Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush. St. Brown also sees lots of double teams. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder had a quality 2016 season with 58 receptions for 961 yards and nine touchdowns with DeShone Kizer at quarterback. Scouts who did advance work on the 2018 class told me they were really intrigued with St. Brown. They say he is a super-polished route runner with tremendous speed, athletic ability, body control, and hands. They still think that St. Brown could be a first-rounder even though he won’t have significant production this season thanks to Wimbush playing quarterback. Other scouts aren’t as high on St. Brown and grade him on Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft. He could be a great value for the 49ers there.

New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Jets pulled out a win over the Chiefs, which isn’t that surprising considering New York has played well against a lot of good teams this year and Kansas City is in free fall. The Jets got their fifth win of the season, which could cost them a shot at the top quarterback prospects like Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson and Sam Darnold. If the Jets miss out on those three, they could target a signal-caller like Mayfield to build their offense around.

Mayfield has completed 71 percent of his passes so far this season for 4,340 yards with 41 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 in the 2018 NFL Draft. 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 when his brother John was head coach in Tampa Bay, so a better version of Garcia could have an appeal to Jay Gruden.

Dallas Cowboys: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The Cowboys took care of business against the Redskins on Thursday night even though Kirk Cousins had more than double the passing yards of Dak Prescott. This season, Dallas has had issues in pass coverage defending receivers, and that was given recent illustration on Thanksgiving with the Chargers dominating Dallas. This offseason, the Cowboys could stand to find a No. 1 cover corner to go with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis.

Ward has 34 tackles with 13 passes broken up and two interceptions 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 Ward could end up being an in-demand first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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.

Miami Dolphins:
The Dolphins made the playoffs last year off an impressive first season from new head coach Adam Gase. After losing to Pittsburgh in the wild-card round, Miami hoped to build on that solid start, but prior to the start of the 2017 season, the team sustained a lot of losses. First, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph left for the Broncos’ head-coaching job, and then in training camp, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill went out for the season. Not surprisingly, the Dolphins have had a rough season in terms of playoff contention. They are barely hanging on in the AFC wild-card race, but even if they don’t get back to the postseason this year, they could bounce back in 2018.

In my latest mock 2018 NFL Draft, I have the the Dolphins taking Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson. While guard isn’t a sexy draft pick in the first round, Miami’s guard play has been a liability for the past few years. Sources from around the league all have agreed that Nelson is one of the elite talents of the 2018 NFL Draft. Getting Nelson outside of the top five could be a great value considering some sources think that he is a better prospect than Logan Mankins, David DeCastro or Brandon Scherff. If Miami looks for guard help on Day 2, some good candidates to consider include Ohio State’s Billy Price, Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn and Auburn’s Braden Smith.

If the Dolphins grab defensive help in the first round of 2018 NFL Draft, they could consider a defensive end to pair with Charles Harris, their first-rounder from last April. Cameron Wake has eight sacks this year, but eventually Wake is going to show signs of age. Miami probably won’t be picking high enough to land LSU’s Arden Key or N.C. State’s Bradley Chubb. Some first-round candidates to consider would include Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, Clemson’s Austin Bryant, Boston College’s Zach Allen and Kansas’ Dorance Armstrong.

The Dolphins also could consider a No. 1 cornerback, and some first-round cornerbacks to consider would include Ohio State’s Denzel Ward, Auburn’s Carlton Davis and LSU’s Donte Jackson. Some second-day cornerbacks who could be worthy targets for Miami include Central Florida’s Mike Hughes, Iowa’s Joshua Jackson, Florida State’s Tarvarus McFadden, Maryland’s J.C. Jackson and Alabama’s Anthony Averett.

From the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, Miami could decide to find a running back to replace Jay Ajayi. Kenyan Drake has a good skill set with lead-back talent, but Drake has had durability issues in his career going back to his time at Alabama. Thus, adding another runner on Day 2 would make sense. Good options fpr the Dolphins include Georgia’s Nick Chubb, Georgia’s Sony Michel, Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson, Alabama’s Damien Harris and LSU’s Derrius Guice.

On the same side of the ball, wide receiver could be a need if Jarvis Landry is allowed to leave in free agency. Some candidates to consider from Day 2 would including Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown, Florida State’s Auden Tate, Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs, Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk and Memphis’ Anthony Miller.

The Dolphins had a lot of things go wrong for them this season, but they could easily reload and bounce back next season. Miami will have four picks in the first three rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, so the team has good resources to address its needs and build up the roster for the 2018 season.

Cleveland Browns:
The Browns are 0-12 on the season, and going 0-16 is a very real possibility for them. A year ago, head coach Hue Jackson told a frustrated Joe Haden that a year later Haden would be preparing for the playoffs. Perhaps Jackson knew Haden would be playing somewhere else, because clearly Cleveland is not being built into a playoff contender and the Browns are actually worse than they were last year. Many around the NFL, including some general managers, have told me that they hear Cleveland is going to clean house after this season. One name I hear that could be the Browns’ target for their new general manager is Packers executive Eliot Wolf. Cleveland tried the analytics approach with Sashi Brown, Paul Depodesta and Andrew Berry, but that trio has failed in magnificent fashion. They clearly are not good at evaluating talent or building a NFL roster. Cleaning house and bringing in a respected evaluator like Wolf would make a lot of sense for rebuilding the Browns. With two first-round picks and three second-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, the new general manager will have a lot of selections to build up Cleveland’s roster.

The most critical piece for the franchise to address is the never-ending need at quarterback. DeShone Kizer has had some good performances, but overall, he hasn’t played well enough for the Browns to pass on a quarterback with their first selection. UCLA’s Josh Rosen, USC’s Sam Darnold, or Louisville’s Lamar Jackson could be targets with Cleveland’s first selection. The team could consider taking Penn State superstar running back Saquon Barkley with its first selection and then hope a quarterback gets to its second selection, but that is very risky. If whoever is running the franchise believes strongly in one of the top signal-callers, they should take them high in the first round and build around him.

With their other first-round pick, the Browns have a lot of needs they could consider. They have to get more receiving talent in the early rounds for whoever is their quarterback. In the first round, Cleveland could think of Alabama’s Calvin Ridley or SMU’s Courtland Sutton. On Day 2, some candidates for the franchise to consider would including Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown, Florida State’s Auden Tate, Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs, Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk and Memphis’ Anthony Miller.

Having a talented running game would also be a great help to the Browns’ young starting quarterback. Isaiah Crowell is entering free agency, leaving the team to look for an upgrade. On the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, there should be a lot of good pro talent for Cleveland to consider. Good options for the Browns include Georgia’s Nick Chubb, Georgia’s Sony Michel, Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson, Alabama’s Damien Harris and LSU’s Derrius Guice.

On the other side of the ball, the Browns have a talented young defensive line. They could use an interior pass-rusher up front, but Caleb Brantly has first-round talent and could develop into the answer for that need. Cleveland needs to improve its linebackers and secondary. As Keenan Allen illustrated on Sunday, the Browns need a No. 1 cornerback to replace Haden, and some first-round cornerbacks for the front office to consider would include Ohio State’s Denzel Ward, Auburn’s Carlton Davis and LSU’s Donte Jackson.

The Browns also could use a safety upgrade next to Jabrill Peppers as well. They have to hope that Peppers pans out and isn’t a bust, but they could use a free safety. On the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, some good candidates to fill Cleveland’s free safety void include Stanford’s Justin Reid, Texas’ DeShon Elliott, Virginia Tech’s Terrell Edmunds and Pittsburgh’s Jordan Whitehead.

The jury is still out on a lot of the draft picks made by Brown, Depodesta, Berry and Jackson. It is clear, however, that they blew their quarterback evaluations with their decisions to pass on Carson Wentz – in 2016 – and Deshaun Watson – in 2017. Hopefully Cleveland gets a new and talented general manager to finally end the suffering of its fans.

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