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.
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Race for the No. 1 Pick:
Arizona is the only winless team in the NFL at 0-4. The Cardinals are in trouble this year because of some bad drafts by general manager Steve Keim. Those poor picks have forced the team into rebuilding mode as the roster has had a serious drop off in talent. It looks like it could be a long year in the desert, but on the bright side, Arizona could get a valuable piece to help Josh Rosen for years to come with a high first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Over the last 10 games, the Texans have the worst record in the NFL at 1-9. This week, Colts head coach Frank Reich made an epic mistake to gift Houston an overtime victory. Still, the Texans blew an 18-point lead in the second half, which ties in with how they have been poorly coached in each of their first four games of the year. Andrew Luck threw for over 400 yards with no-name receivers, and the Texans secondary is among the worst in the NFL.
In Week 3, The Giants led from their first possession and outplayed Houston on both sides of the ball. Free agent addition Aaron Colvin was targeted and exploited by Eli Manning. Offensively, Deshaun Watson has regressed from his rookie year, and that goes back to the bad coaching.
The Texans also lost to the Blaine Gabbert-led Tennessee Titans - let that sink in. The same Titans that were without four starters - their quarterback, left tackle, right tackle, and top receiver - tight end Delanie Walker.
Houston's offensive line and cornerbacks are liabilities who could hold the team back all year. But the team's biggest liability is the coaching of Bill O'Brien. The Texans were consistently outschemed during their nine-game losing streak.
Oakland notched an overtime win against the Browns, with Derek Carr leading a fourth-quarter comeback and two excellent drives in overtime.
Even though the Raiders are 1-3, they have played better than many realize because the national media is jumping all over themselves to bash Jon Gruden. In Week 1, the Raiders played a good Rams team close until late in the fourth quarter. In Week 2 on the road in a tough place to visit, Oakland outplayed the Broncos for the majority of the game, but Denver squeaked out a one-point win with a last-second field goal. The story of Week 3 was that Oakland led in Miami until the fourth quarter when the South Florida heat caught up with the Raiders.
Oakland is in rebuilding mode, and that was made clear with the Khalil Mack trade. If the Raiders get their picks right and use their money wisely, they could be really good in a couple of years, just in time for them to kick off in Las Vegas. In my mock 2019 NFL Draft
, I have the Raiders stocking their defense with some good young talent to build around.
The Bills are 1-3 after getting shutout on the road at Green Bay. Josh Allen looked pitiful, and Buffalo is completely rebuilding. The Bills need to find Allen better blocking after a Packers team that struggles to rush the passer ripped off seven sacks. Buffalo also needs more help at wide receiver, at running back, and in the defensive front seven. It would shock nobody if the Bills end up landing the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Detroit 1-3 after losing on the road in Dallas. Aside from their game against New England, the Lions have been outplayed in their other three contests this season. Ezekiel Elliott destroyed them on the ground and through the air with over 200 combined yards. It looks like will be a long year for Detroit.
New York Jets:
The Jets fell to 1-3 after losing on the road to Jacksonville. New York had a hot start to the year with a blowout of Detroit on Monday night, but since then, Sam Darnold has had some rookie mistakes. Darnold will be fine, and I think he's going to be a good NFL quarterback. New York just has to build up more talent around Darnold and give him more weapons to work with.
The Colts should be 1-2-1, but head coach Frank Reich made one of the dumbest coaching decisions I've ever seen to go for it in his own territory on a fourth down in overtime. Predictably, the try failed, letting Houston score a field goal to send Indianapolis 1-3. The Colts have played better than their record this year. They lost by four at Philadelphia, were close to the Bengals in Week 1 before a Jack Doyle fumble, won in Washington, and should have had a tie with the Texans after being down by 18 in the second half. The Colts are one of the youngest teams in the NFL, so it wouldn't surprise me if they show a big improvement in the second half of the season.
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.
Seattle Seahawks: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
The Seahawks won on the road at Arizona on a last-second field goal, but that is not an impressive win, because the Cardinals could be one of the worst teams in the NFL. Arizona has a weak offensive line, yet Seattle only totaled one sack. The Seahawks have lost Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Sheldon Richardson. Adding more pass rush would make sense for the organization in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Landing Clelin Ferrell in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft would be an ideal scenario for Seattle. He has been Clemson's best defensive lineman over the past two seasons and is off to a great start in 2018. He has five sacks with 17 tackles, two passes batted and a forced fumble so far in 2018. Ferrell is a fast edge rusher with length and athleticism. This year, he has also been more stout as a run defender, so the decision to return to Clemson has helped improve his development for the NFL. Ferrell would be a great fit as a base end in the Seahawks' defense.
Oakland Raiders: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The Raiders are in rebuilding mode, but they enjoyed their first win of the season with an overtime victory over the Browns. Derek Carr led a fourth-quarterback comeback along with two good drives in overtime. The big issue for Oakland this season has been a terrible defense, and once again, the Raiders' offense was forced into a high-scoring affair. In the 2019 NFL Draft, Oakland should just take the best defensive players available regardless of position at both of its first-round picks. The organization has to upgrade the roster's defensive talent.
Like his older brother Joey, Nick Bosa looks like an elite edge defender. He is fast off the edge with the ability to fire by tackles to get upfield. Bosa has excellent hands with functional strength to fight off blocks, a burst to close, and puts quarterbacks down hard. In the ground game, Bosa is solid, but it is his pass-rush potential that excites. Prior to a core muscle injury that has him sidelined, Bosa was off to a great start in 2018 with four sacks, 14 tackles with six for a loss and one forced fumble over basically two games worth of playing time. Bosa is worthy of a top-five pick and would be a great fit in Oakland across from Arden Key.
Green Bay Packers: Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky
The Packers cruised over the Bills by dominating rookie quarterback Josh Allen with defense. On Sunday, Green Bay shut out the Bills, and a big part of that was Green Bay was finally able to get the pass rush going. The lack of rush has been a problem for the Packers during the past few years, and next offseason, they should devote at least one of their first-round picks to adding to the pass rush considering this is going to be a legendary defensive line class.
In the early going of the 2018 college football season, one of the best defensive players has been Kentucky's do-it-all linebacker Josh Allen. He carried the Wildcats' defense to wins over Florida and Mississippi State, making huge plays in pass coverage and getting after the quarterback. Allen has totaled 33 tackles with 10.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, two passes batted and two forced fumbles through only five games. The Packers would be very lucky if Allen gets to one of their first-round picks.
Cincinnati Bengals: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
In my picks with Jean Fugett, I predicted the Bengals would win in Atlanta if A.J. Green played. Well, he did, and he had the game-winning touchdown catch with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Bengals a one-point victory. Cincinnati's defense really struggled against Matt Ryan, allowing him to throw for 419 yards and three touchdowns. The Bengals could use more talent at safety to help defend against dynamic quarterbacks.
Recently in the Hot Press
, we discussed how multiple team sources were saying there was a first-round buzz building around Thompson. Through five games this season, Thompson has 27 tackles with two interceptions and four passes broken up. He has good size, length, speed and athleticism. He would be a great fit behind Luke Kuechly.
Dallas Cowboys: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
The Cowboys improved to 2-2 after a field goal on the final play of the game dropped the Lions in Jerry World. Dallas received a tremendous game from Ezekiel Elliott, who ran for 152 yards and had 88 yards and touchdown through the air. Once again, the Cowboys got little production from their receiving corps. Dallas must get Dak Prescott more weapons in the offseason.
Brown has the skill set to be a No. 1 wide receiver for an NFL offense. The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder is a physical wideout who combines surprising speed with good route-running and strong hands. He is a dangerous run-after-the-catch receiver. Brown has 26 receptions for 381 yards and three scores on the year. Last season, he totaled 75 receptions for 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns. Brown could be a good No. 1 wideout for Prescott.
Houston Texans: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The Texans blew an 18-point lead in the second half, but because of Frank Reich making one of the worst coaching moves ever, they were able to escape Indianapolis with an overtime win. Andrew Luck dominated the Houston secondary, throwing for 464 yards and four touchdowns despite T.Y. Hilton being injured. The no-name Colts receivers ripped the Texans' cornerbacks, and improving the cornerback talent is a top priority for Houston in the next offseason.
Diggs is enjoying a breakout year, as he has been superb for Alabama. While not logging a lot of playing time due to blowouts, Diggs has five passes broken up, one interception and 13 tackles. The 6-foot-2, 199-pounder possesses excellent size with speed and athleticism. He looks like a future first-rounder and could be a No. 1 corner in the NFL.
Los Angeles Rams: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
The Rams' offense is a juggernaut, and that was given proof on Thursday night when Jared Goff torched the Vikings' defense, throwing for 465 yards and five touchdowns. With Goff, Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods signed for many years to come, the Rams' roster is in great shape for a potent scoring attack. The one big weakness that will have to be addressed is left tackle, where Andrew Whitworth turns 37 in December. General manager Les Snead blew the second-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft by taking Greg Robinson instead of good and safer left tackles in Jake Matthews or Taylor Lewan. That pick also saw Snead passing on Khalil Mack, Odell Beckham and Mike Evans. Making up for that mistake is going to be a critical point of emphasis over the next offseason or two.
Little has the skill set of a top-10 pick, but he has not played up to it as a sophomore and in the early going of his junior year. He possesses length, quickness, and the athleticism to negate speed rushers on the edge. If he gets stronger and develops more of a mean streak, he could be a quality run blocker because he has the size and length to give defenders problems. Little could be a mid- to late first-round pick, although slipping to Day 2 is possible as well. He could be a good project for the Rams and might develop into a franchise left tackle. Having Little learn for a year or two behind Whitworth could be a great scenario.
Team Draft Report:
In this section, we take a deeper look at specific teams and where they stand in regards to the 2019 NFL Draft.
For the first time in a long time, it feels the Browns finally are headed in the right direction. It all changed when an established and proven general manager in John Dorsey was brought in to run the franchise. Dorsey immediately upgraded the team's front office by poaching Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf, two great talent evaluators, to help him. From there, they upgraded Cleveland's coaching staff by hiring Todd Haley to be the offensive coordinator. In free agency and the draft, the new decision-makers of the Browns quickly upgraded the roster's talent on both sides of the ball. The Browns were winless last year, but they have been significantly improved this year. While they are 1-2-1, they easily could be 3-1 if they had not missed a bunch of field goals in the first two games of the year.
Defensively, the Browns have a few needs. Myles Garrett is having a breakout year and showing why some draft analysts, myself included, had him as the No. 1 prospect from start to finish in the process of the 2017 NFL Draft. Cleveland could use an interior pass-rusher to go with him, and the 2019 NFL Draft is a great year to land a good defensive tackle. There are excellent first-round prospects with the likes of Houston's Ed Oliver, Auburn's Derrick Brown, Mississippi State's Jeff Simmons, Alabama's Raekwon Davis, Michigan's Rashan Gary, Clemson's Dexter Lawrence, Clemson's Christian Wilkins, Ohio State's Dre'Mont Jones and Notre Dame's Jerry Tillery. All nine of those players could be first-rounders, and any of them could be a nice addition for Cleveland. Oliver, Brown, Jones and Gary offer the most pass-rush potential, while Wilkins and Tillery are balanced players with versatility. Of a different variety, Lawrence and Davis are superb run-stuffers who eat up blocks and can contribute to the pass rush. Any of these nine tackles would look great next to Garrett.
The Browns also could consider some help in the secondary. In my latest mock 2019 NFL Draft
, I have Cleveland taking LSU cornerback Greedy Williams as a complement to Denzel Ward. That is one direction that the Browns could go in the early rounds if the value presents itself. Other first-round corners to consider include Alabama's Trevon Diggs, Penn State's Amani Oruwariye, Georgia's DeAndre Baker and Clemson's Trayvon Mullen.
After cutting Corey Coleman and trading Josh Gordon, Cleveland could use more receiving talent for Baker Mayfield. Jarvis Landry is a long-term starter, and while Antonio Callaway has a ton of talent, his off-the-field issues make him impossible to rely on. In the top 20 of the 2019 NFL Draft, only Ole Miss' A.J. Brown could grade out that high. Brown would be a nice fit in Haley's offense. Other good candidates to consider on Day 2 would be Oklahoma's Marquise Brown, Missouri's Emmanuel Hall, Ohio State's Parris Campbell and South Carolina's Deebo Samuel. Some of those players could end up moving into the first round.
The best plan for Cleveland could be to add an interior defensive lineman in the first round with wide receiver and cornerback being in play on the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft. Adding to the offensive line also could be worth considering. There is no doubt that with Dorsey, Highsmith, Wolf and Haley, Cleveland is finally headed in the right direction. Another strong offseason could have the Browns in the playoffs in short order. There is finally reason to get excited if you're a Cleveland fan.
Vikings had a rough start to the 2018 season and have an opening quarter record of 1-2-1. Minnesota really should be 1-3, but a terrible roughing the passer penalty on Clay Matthews gave Minnesota a tie in Week 2. Since that outing, it has been pretty embarrassing as the Vikings were destroyed by the Bills - one of the worst teams in the NFL - and then allowed Jared Goff to throw for 465 yards and five touchdowns last Thursday night. Entering the season, I didn't have the Vikings making the playoffs because I thought replacing their starting quarterback could change their chemistry. Thus far that looks on point, but Minnesota has been a team that is up-and-down from year to year, so it would not surprise me if the Vikings bounced back next year to be a serious contender in the NFC.
The 2019 NFL Draft is loaded on the defensive line, and Minnesota could use the opportunity to look for some upgrades up front. Sheldon Richardson was not signed to a long-term contract, while the Vikings have been without their best pass-rusher in Everson Griffen as off-the-field issues have his status in doubt going forward. If Minnesota takes an end to help its leaky pass defense, there are some great options who will go in the top 20 next April. Unless the Vikings are picking in the top five, they won't have a shot at Ohio State's Nick Bosa. Clemson's Clelin Ferrell and Boston College's Zach Allen could go in the top 10 with a very high likelihood going as top-20 picks.
As a replacement for Richardson, there are excellent first-round defensive tackle prospects with the likes of Houston's Ed Oliver, Auburn's Derrick Brown, Mississippi State's Jeff Simmons, Alabama's Raekwon Davis, Michigan's Rashan Gary, Clemson's Dexter Lawrence, Clemson's Christian Wilkins, Ohio State's Dre'Mont Jones and Notre Dame's Jerry Tillery. All nine of those players could be first-rounders, but many will be long gone by the time the Vikings pick. Oliver, Brown, Simmons and Gary could easily not make it the Vikings, assuming they have 7-9 wins. Wilkins and Tillery are balanced players with versatility who would be nice fits in Minnesota. On the other hand, Lawrence and Davis are superb run-stuffers who eat up blocks and can contribute to the pass rush. In my latest mock 2019 NFL Draft
, I have the Vikings taking Lawrence, and he would be a nice scheme fit for Minnesota.
Offensively, the Vikings could consider more help for their offensive line, but the value does not look good there in the top-20 selections. Minnesota might be better off doubling up on defensive linemen and acquiring free agent offensive linemen.
It looks like things could be off for the Vikings in 2018. However, they have a good core of talent that should allow them to bounce back in 2019 with a strong draft class.
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