Monday Morning Draft – Week 16

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 Bears cruised over the Browns, and that clinched the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft for the Browns. Now at 0-15, Cleveland is trying to avoid the embarrassment of a winless season.

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. 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, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson; most likely Sam Darnold goes back to USC. At this point, Rosen would be the favorite to be that pick.

To add insult to injury this year, the Browns have 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.

New York Giants:
With the Browns losing for the 15th time this season, the two-win Giants were eliminated from getting the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Giants already fired general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo, starting the rebuilding process. In the 2018 NFL Draft, the organization will have to consider looking for its 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. Additionally, the new front office and coaching staff have no attachment to the Webb selection.

Check out’s Hot Press article on who are some good general manager candidates for the New York Giants. Included is a survey of staffers from around the league.

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.

Arizona Cardinals: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Even though it has been a rough year for Arizona, the Cardinals have won enough games this year that they may not be in position to land one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. A signal-caller is clearly the team’s biggest need, and Arizona will have to give strong consideration to Mayfield and Lamar Jackson. The Cardinals have taken some risky players in the first round in recent years, and Mayfield could fit that trend.

Mayfield has completed 71 percent of his passes 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 with an excellent ability to loft in touch passes. He has good mobility and is a play-maker.

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 Bruce Arians can improve with Mayfield. One team source said Mayfield is a better, strong-armed version of Jeff Garcia.

Chicago Bears: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
The Bears were able cruise over the Browns on Sunday even though their receivers struggled once again. Chicago was led by Benny Cunningham in receiving on two screen passes. This offseason, the Bears have to get more receiving weapons for Mitch Trubisky. There may not be a receiver available worthy of their first-round pick, but there could be some good options on Day 2.

The speedy Kirk has mismatch speed and could be a deep weapon who challenges defenses downfield. In 2017, quarterback play has been a problem for the Aggies, yet Kirk has 58 catches for 730 yards and seven touchdowns while seeing a lot of double coverage his direction. He also played well in 2016 despite inconsistent quarterback play from the Aggies. He had 83 receptions for 928 yards with nine touchdowns while splitting targets with wideouts like Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones. In 2015, Kirk caught 80 passes for 1,009 yards with seven touchdowns. Multiple scouting sources have compared Kirk to Sterling Shepard and Jarvis Landry. Kirk would be a good option for Chicago in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Minnesota Vikings: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
The Vikings have gotten an excellent season out of Adam Thielen this year. Stefon Diggs is a nice receiving weapon, but Laquon Treadwell has yet to break out. Minnesota could use another big receiver to help the offense in 2017.

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 good value for the Vikings in the early rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
The Chargers allowed Bilal Powell to run for 145 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown. Los Angeles has a strong front seven and some good cornerbacks, but the team needs a safety upgrade, as Powell illustrated. The Chargers won’t be drafting high enough to land Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick, but they could land a well-rounded safety in Eric Reid in the back half of the first round.

The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Reid has played really well in 2017 and has impressed NFL scouts. Sources that are tough graders said they thought 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. Reid is a good free or strong safety with the ability to run and tackle. They say that he is a polished, clean, good all-around safety similar to HaHa Clinton-Dix coming out of Alabama. In 2017, Reid has 97 tackles with four passes broken up and five interceptions. He totaled 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 nice fit for Los Angeles’ first-round pick.

New England Patriots: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The Patriots were fortunate that a touchdown from the Bills was robbed by horrible officiating. That happened earlier this year in a close win over the Jets. Malcolm Butler has struggled this year and is entering free agency, while Stephon Gilmore has been a disappointment. Here’s a man-coverage corner who could be a nice fit for New England.

Ward has 37 tackles with 15 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 he could end up being nice value as a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Cincinnati Bengals: Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia
Cincinnati had a surprising win over the Lions as Gio Bernard ran all over Detroit. It illustrated what the Bengals’ offense is capable of doing when they get good blocking. In the offseason, Cincinnati needs to add more talent to its blocking front. If the Bengals take Wynn in the second or third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, he could help them replace Kevin Zeitler at guard, upgrade Russell Bodine at center, or exceed expectations and remain at left tackle.

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 were three inches taller, he would be a top-16 pick. Being short and lacking length, however, 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.

Washington Redskins: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Redskins cruised over the Broncos as Kirk Cousins threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Washington has offered some big-money contracts to Cousins, but he has declined them. It appears that Cousins doesn’t want to sign long term with the Redskins. If Cousins is allowed to leave in free agency or traded, the Redskins will have to get a new quarterback. They aren’t picking high enough for Josh Rosen and probably Josh Allen, but they could have a shot at a play-maker like Jackson.

In 2017, Jackson has completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,489 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. He is averaging 6.9 yards per carry on the ground on his way to 1,443 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Jackson has an amazing skill set with a powerful arm that allows him to make throws off platform that many NFL quarterbacks couldn’t even dream of making. He is tough in the pocket, knows his scheme well, and has amazing athleticism and speed as a runner. Jackson looks like a taller and right-handed version of Michael Vick. Some team sources feel that Jackson is being undervalued similarly to Deshaun Watson a year ago. For the NFL, Jackson needs to get stronger and work on his accuracy. However, he has big-time play-making potential and could be a dynamic player if an offensive system is built around him.

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.

Tennessee Titans:
Throughout the offseason and preseason, the Titans were one of the en vogue teams for commentators to pick as the winner of the AFC South. Tennessee was in position to make the playoffs as the division winner or getting a wild-card spot, but some struggles of late could have the team missing out on the postseason. The Titans have had some good drafts in recent years though, so they still have a lot of young talent to build around.

Defensively, the Titans have gotten good play out of Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan over the years, but they could use some edge-rushing youth. Sources with Tennessee told me they were frustrated with how those veterans played late in the season last year, and the Titans need to ramp up their pass rush. In my latest mock 2018 NFL Draft, I have the Titans taking an edge-rushing linebacker who also can play on the inside with Kentucky’s Josh Allen. Considering Morgan and Orakpo aren’t old but are no longer young, it wouldn’t hurt to add a young pass-rusher. Tennessee could have the young player serve as the third rusher to rotate with the veterans. That could help keep Orakpo and Morgan fresh while preparing for their eventual departure. Some good pass-rushing options to consider in the early rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft would be Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, Clemson’s Austin Bryant, Kansas’ Dorance Armstrong and Boston College’s Harold Landry.

Another position for Tennessee to consider would be cornerback. I had the Titans taking Adoree’ Jackson in my 2017 mock because sources told me that Tennessee loved him. Jackson should turn into a good corner for the Titans, but they could use a third corner to pair with him and Logan Ryan. All good NFL defenses are at least three deep at corner. Adding one with size like Iowa’s Joshua Jackson or Auburn’s Carlton Davis could make sense for Tennessee’s first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Offensively, the Titans have added a lot of young talent at wide receiver. They could consider taking a tight end to eventually replace Delanie Walker. Jonnu Smith has looked good as a rookie, but he is a Charles Clay-type rotational receiving tight end who is too undersized as a blocker to be a three-down starter. Sources with the Titans told me prior to the 2017 NFL Draft that they loved Alabama’s O.J. Howard and that he was in the running for one of their first-round picks. Adding a top tight end talent was under serious consideration last year and probably will be again in 2018. In the early rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, some candidates to consider are South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst and Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews. Hurst is a great athlete who also would help the Titans’ potent rushing attack.

Another position for Tennessee to consider would be center as Ben Jones is a weak link on the blocking front. Ohio State’s Billy Price could be an excellent addition and upgrade for the interior of the offensive line. Price also has the flexibility to play guard. He could be a fit for the Titans in the first round.

With Marcus Mariota, the Titans could become Super Bowl contenders very soon as they already are postseason contenders. My sources with Tennessee tipped me about Mariota being their pick months in advance as the Titans’ front office led by former general manager Ruston Webster loved Mariota. General manager Jon Robinson was fortunate to walk into a team that already had a talented young franchise quarterback. Mariota should provide Tennessee with roughly a decade of a Super Bowl window. If Robinson continues to draft well and build around Mariota, the Titans could be holding up a Lombardi during Mariota’s career. Los Angeles Rams:
At the end of the preseason, nobody was picking the Rams to win the NFC West, but with their road win at Tennessee, the Rams have ended one of the longest playoff droughts in the NFL. The team has been one of the fun stories of the 2017 season seeing the massive turnaround for the franchise. Sean McVay and quarterbacks coach Greg Olson have done an amazing job of turning Jared Goff from looking like a bust-in-the-making to being one of the top young quarterbacks in the NFL. Todd Gurley has been incredible, and the defense has been steady. With Goff, Gurley and Aaron Donald, Los Angeles has a foundation in place to be a playoff contender for many seasons to come.

The Rams have a few needs they could address in the 2018 NFL Draft to help put them over the top. Los Angeles has No. 1 cornerback Trumaine Johnson entering free agency, and if he isn’t re-signed, then corner will be a massive need. Wade Phillips plays a ton of man coverage, so even if Johnson is re-signed, the Rams could look to get a corner to pair with him. In my latest mock 2018 NFL Draft, I have the Rams taking LSU cornerback Donte Jackson, and his speed and man-coverage skills would make sense for Los Angeles. He is very similar to former Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins, so he could be a fit for general manager Les Snead. Other first-round options include Iowa’s Joshua Jackson, Ohio State’s Denzel Ward, Auburn’s Carlton Davis and Central Florida’s Mike Hughes.

Offensively, the Rams have a few needs. Wide receiver could be addressed if Sammy Watkins isn’t re-signed. The first-round receivers probably won’t make it to their pick, but they could look for help on Day 2. On the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, there could be some good options including Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown, Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs, Ohio State’s Parris Campbell and Memphis’ Anthony Miller.

Los Angeles also could consider offensive line help. If Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey gets to the Rams’ pick, he would make sense. They have gotten an excellent season out of Andrew Whitworth, but he turns 37 next season, so they could take McGlinchey and start him out at guard or right tackle with McGlinchey being developed to eventually become the blind-side protector for Goff.

The Rams are in good shape to be among the best in the NFC West for years to come. They have a good coaching staff with young talent on both sides of the ball. Adding a few more pieces could help Los Angeles to be in the Super Bowl very soon.

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