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:
New York Giants:
Heading into Week 6, the Giants held the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and they maintained via a loss to the Eagles on Thursday Night Football. If the Giants do have the first-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, they could use it on Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, because Eli Manning is aging and declining, and the franchise needs a quarterback of the future. However, New York general manager Dave Gettleman chose to pass on taking a potential franchise quarterback for star running back Saquon Barkley last April. Thus, it would not shock me if Gettleman takes one of the rare defensive line prospects and then targets a quarterback on Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft.
San Francisco 49ers:
In the preseason, the 49ers were a trendy Super Bowl pick after the winning streak they had to close out the 2017 season. Those high hopes came crashing down a few weeks ago when starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a season-ending injury. If San Francisco lands the first-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, it would make sense for the team to trade down if it can get good value on a package of picks. If the organization sticks at No. 1, Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa would make sense given the roster's need for an edge rusher. Solomon Thomas has been a huge disappointment and is completely ineffective as a pass-rusher. Bosa could form a nice tandem with DeForest Buckner.
The Cardinals lost in Minnesota, where the Vikings cruised over the overmatched Arizona squad. The Cardinals' one win came over a reeling 49ers team playing without starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The Cardinals still figure to lose a lot this year because some bad drafts by general manager Steve Keim have forced them into rebuilding mode. In Week 1, the Redskins dominated Arizona, and in Week 2, the Rams rolled over the Cardinals. 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.
The Colts should be 1-3-1, but head coach Frank Reich blew a tie against Houston. In New York, the Jets dropped Indianapolis 1-5. 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.
The Raiders 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. In Week 3, Oakland led in Miami until the fourth quarter. Finally in Week 4, the Raiders notched a comeback win over Cleveland. Oakland's had two definitive losses against the Seahawks and Chargers, which has dropped the team to 1-5 on the season.
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.
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: Lil'Jordan Humphrey, WR, Texas
The Ravens dominated the Titans and have been able to win this year with their average receiving corps. John Brown was a good signing, and Michael Crabtree has been decent, but Crabtree isn't a long-term weapon and Baltimore could use a big receiver to pair with Brown in the years to come. On the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft, Baltimore could get some receiver help.
Humphrey has 35 receptions for 535 yards with four touchdowns so far in 2018 and had an excellent game in helping Texas to knock off Oklahoma. For the NFL, Humphrey has the potential to be a good pro. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder has excellent size, good run-after-the-catch skills, strong hands and a real competitive fire that helps him outfight defenders. However, Humphrey comes with off-the-field issues that will hurt him with some teams, but he could be an excellent value as a second-day pick who ends up being a good pro receiver. Taking Humphrey on Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft would make sense for Baltimore.
Atlanta Falcons: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The Falcons got a much-needed win when they won a shootout with Tampa Bay. Jameis Winston threw for almost 400 yards and four touchdowns, but the Atlanta offense was better at ball security to make the Falcons more efficient. This year, the Falcons have had issues with their pass rush, and they need to get more interior rushers next offseason. If they end up picking high in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Williams would be a great value.
A couple of weeks back in the Hot Press
, we wrote about how multiple team sources see Williams as a high first-round talent for the 2019 NFL Draft. Williams has been a breakout player for Alabama this year. Raekwon Davis and Isaiah Buggs received more preseason hype, but Williams has been the most consistent play-maker and disruptor on the Crimson Tide's defensive line. In 2018, Williams has 22 tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss, .5 sacks and one pass batted. He has caused more disruption than the numbers indicate as well. Williams is very fast at the point of attack with the ability to fire a gap and cause havoc in the backfield. The redshirt sophomore is listed at 6-foot-4, 289 pounds. If those measurements are legit, he could be a good fit as a three-technique in a 4-3 defense or as a five-technique in a 3-4. If Williams got to the Falcons in the first round, that would be steal for Atlanta.
Los Angeles Chargers: Dre'Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
The Chargers rolled the Browns, led by Melvin Gordon ripping off three touchdowns and their defense pummeled Baker Mayfield. Los Angeles enjoyed its interior rushers producing well, and Corey Liuget and Damien Square each had 1.5 sacks. Liuget has been a declining player in recent years, yet still serviceable. It wouldn't hurt Los Angeles to go after an heir apparent and find a steady interior rusher go between Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
Jones has been awesome to start out the 2018 season, notching huge plays to help lead Ohio State to wins over Oregon State and TCU. He has 5.5 sacks, 21 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, one pass batted, one forced fumble and a 28-yard pick-six on the season. In 2017, Jones recorded 20 tackles with five for a loss, one sack and two passes broken up. The 6-foot-3, 295-pounder was very disruptive for Ohio State. He earned a starting job as a redshirt freshman in 2016 and totaled 52 tackles.
Jones has ton of physical talent with speed at the point of attack. Sources believe that he possesses a first-round skill set. He is very fast with an excellent burst off the snap to fire his gap and cause disruption in the backfield.
Miami Dolphins: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
The Dolphins pulled off the NFL's most shocking upset of Week 6 with a comeback win over Chicago led by backup quarterback Brock Osweiler. Miami took the Bears to overtime and had a game-winning touchdown fumbled at the goal line by Kenyan Drake, but the Dolphins still found a way to overcome. One issue the Dolphins had was a lack of pressure on Mitch Trubisky. Miami moved on from Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips, so the team could use more interior pass-rushing talent to go with Davon Godchaux.
Wilkins has been a versatile athlete at the point of attack the past three seasons for Clemson. While he is a natural tackle, Wilkins has also played end and possesses the ability to play a variety of positions including three-technique, five-technique and zero-technique depending on if he is in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. Wilkins is quick and agile at the point of attack with the skills to get after the quarterback while also being a stout run defender. In the middle or back portion of the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, he would be a nice fit for Miami.
Minnesota Vikings: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
The Vikings' defense came alive against Arizona, putting a lot of heat on Josh Rosen and holding Arizona to only one offensive touchdown. A difference in this game was the Vikings getting their pass rush going, and their defense is tough to beat when they get after the quarterback. The NFL future of Everson Griffen is unclear, so Minnesota could target a young edge rusher in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Landing Clelin Ferrell in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft would be an ideal scenario for Minnesota. Ferrell was Clemson's best defensive lineman over the past two seasons and is off to a great start in 2018. He has six sacks with 20 tackles, two passes batted and a forced fumble this year. Ferrell is a fast edge rusher with length and athleticism, but this year, he has also been more stout as a run defender, so his 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 Vikings' defense.
Washington Redskins: Montez Sweat, DE/OLB, Mississippi State
The Redskins were able to hold on to to a six-point win against Carolina, but Cam Newton almost pulled off the late comeback win. He had the Panthers inside the Redskins' 20-yard line in the final seconds before the drive stalled and Washington held on. The Redskins had only one sack of Newton and needed to get more pass pressure on him, but he had clean pockets to throw out of down the stretch. Adding an edge rusher to go across from Ryan Kerrigan would make sense for the Redskins in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Over the past couple of years, Sweat has been the most consistent sack producer in the SEC. Halfway through this season, he is up to totals of 24 tackles, 10 for a loss and 7.5 sacks. The 6-foot-6, 240-pounder possesses speed and length off the edge with natural feel as a pass-rusher. He has had some superb games this year. Sweat could stand to get stronger and fill out his frame, but he is an adept quarterback hunter who would be a great fit in Washington's 3-4 defense.
Philadelphia Eagles: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
The Eagles cruised over the Giants on Thursday night, but they saw aging left tackle Jason Peters had his hands full with an injured and less-than-100-percent Olivier Vernon. If Philadelphia is picking in the middle or late in the first round in the 2019 NFL Draft, the team could miss out on the offensive tackle prospects for the first night of the draft. However, the Eagles could find a young understudy for Peters on the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft.
On the edge, Dillard is a good athlete with quick feet to get depth in his drop. He is adept at heading off speed rushers and keeping them from getting turned to the quarterback. Dillard plays with good leverage, as he is a knee bender and does not bend at the waist. There have been a few plays on which Dillard allowed rushers to get speed upfield, but he has also demonstrated nice recoverability to push the rushers deep and around the pocket to protect his tackle. With Dillard's quickness and athleticism, he could be a starting left tackle in the NFL. He probably won't ever be a forceful run blocker, but the NFL is a passing-driven league, so he does not have to be a bull in the ground game to be a valuable starter. On the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft, Dillard could be a good fit for the Eagles.
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.
In my final 2018 NFL Mock Draft, I had the Cowboys taking linebacker Leighton Vander Esch in the second round after taking Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley in the first round. At this point, passing on Ridley looks like a horrible decision by Jerry Jones. Vander Esch looks like he will be a solid pro, whereas Ridley has lit up NFL defenses at the very beginning of his NFL career. Considering Dallas already has a talented young linebacker in Jaylon Smith with a good veteran in Sean Lee and how awful the Cowboys receivers are, Dallas made a huge mistake passing on Ridley. Cole Beasley is a good slot receiver, but is limited. Michael Gallup might become a decent No.2 or 3, while Allen Hurns is just a backup. Dallas has to get a No. 1 receiver for the prime years of Dak Prescott's career.
As I've stated in the past, one draft mistake can lead to another. Passing on Ridley last year could force Dallas into taking a receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft. Ole Miss wide out A.J. Brown is the top wideout for the 2019 NFL Draft, but he is not as good of a player as some of the great defensive line prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft. In my latest mock 2019 NFL Draft
, I have the Cowboys taking Brown over better players, because they are desperate to get Dak Prescott a No. 1.
Currently, Dallas is on track to be picking in the top eight of the 2019 NFL Draft, and the value at that pick would be better for one of those defensive linemen. Next April, a legendary defensive line class will enter the 2019 NFL Draft, and there could be as many as 10 interior defensive linemen who grade out as first-rounders. Alabama's Quinnen Williams, Auburn's Derrick Brown, Mississippi State's Jeff Simmons, Michigan's Rashan Gary and Houston's Ed Oliver would all be nice fits as three-technique penetrators in the Dallas defense. Alabama's Raekwon Davis and Clemson's Dexter Lawrence are excellent nose tackles who would be assets in defending Saquon Barkley for many years to come.
As we disclosed in the Hot Press
recently, Williams has a buzz in the scouting community as a high first-rounder. If he somehow got to Dallas, he would be a perfect fit as a three-technique in Rod Marinelli's defense. Simmons and Oliver could fit that role well also.
If Dallas ends up picking in the teens, then a receiver like A.J. Brown could be a good pick. However, if the Cowboys take the best player available at a position of need on the defensive line, they could land some receiver talent on Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft. Some quality receivers who could help Dallas at the top of the second round would be South Carolina's Deebo Samuel or Ohio State's Parris Campbell. Both of them have big-play ability. Some larger, possessional receivers would include Arizona State's K'Neal Harry, Texas' Collin Johnson, North Carolina State's Kelvin Harmon and Texas' Lil'Jordan Humphrey.
Offensively, the Cowboys also could consider more talent for their offensive line. If Travis Fredrick can't come back from his illness, they will need a new center. Adding a right tackle would allow them to move La'el Collins back to left guard, but the Cowboys probably won't give up on Connor Williams that quickly, even though he is struggling as a rookie. Still, the Dallas offensive line is not the overwhelming unit it was a few years ago, so adding more talent up front would help the team to get more out of Ezekiel Elliott.
As I tweeted during the Cowboys' loss to the Texans, Jerry Jones needs to fire Jerry Jones. The decisions the Dallas front office has made has set the team up to be picking in the top 10 despite having an elite running back and a talented young quarterback who is playing on a super cheap rookie contract. Jones and the Cowboys' terrible decisions on their 2018 receiving corps along with passing on Calvin Ridley has the team on pace to be picking in the top 10 in the 2019 NFL Draft after a wasted 2018 season. New leadership is badly needed in Dallas.
New York Giants:
Giants general manager Dave Gettlemen made a very questionable decision to pass on a franchise quarterback last April even though Saquon Barkley is an amazing running back who could be this generation's Barry Sanders. Sanders never won a Super Bowl, and neither have other elite running backs over the last decade. That group of great backs who never won a ring include Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Maurice Jones-Drew, Frank Gore, LaDanian Tomlinson and others. Ten years from now, Barkley will be probably be finishing up a great career or he may be out of the league at that point from wear-and-tear, but Jets quarterback Sam Darnold could be signing his second contract of over $100 million dollars and have another decade as a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback. Thus, it is always very risky to pass on a franchise quarterback. Clearly the most critical need for the Giants organization is a signal-caller to replace Eli Manning.
In my latest mock 2019 NFL Draft
, I have the Giants taking Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert with the first-overall pick. Herbert has the best skill set of any of the draft-eligible quarterbacks. He has good size, athleticism to run, a strong arm, and displays the ability to be an accurate passer. If New York lands the No. 1-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Herbert would be a no-brainer.
If the Giants land Herbert in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, they could target some offensive line help on the second day. Adding more guard or right tackle talent would help protect their investment in Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr. and their new quarterback. If one of the first-round defensive linemen slips to the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft out of team need and quantity at the position, that could present a great value for New York as well.
The Gettleman factor, however, can't be ignored, and with him calling the shots, the Giants could pass on quarterback again in the first round and select an elite defensive linemen who will be the franchise player on the defensive side of the ball. If the Giants do that, they could land a quarterback prospect at the top of the second round. Three options to consider would be N.C. State's Ryan Finley, Missouri's Drew Lock and Northwestern's Clayton Thorson. Finley is an accurate game-manager who would operate well in a play-action offense set by Barkley. Lock is a big-armed quarterback who is a good athlete but has a quiet personality similar to Manning. Thorson is a big quarterback with a powerful arm, impressive accuracy, mobility, and great intangibles as a teammate and leader. He could be the right fit to handle the pressure of playing in New York.
If the Giants pass on Herbert, it will be because Gettlmen feels the defensive line talent is too good to pass on. Next April, a legendary defensive line class will enter the NFL Draft, and there could be as many as 10 interior defensive linemen who grade out as first-rounders. Alabama's Quinnen Williams, Auburn's Derrick Brown, Mississippi State's Jeff Simmons, Michigan's Rashan Gary and Houston's Ed Oliver would all be nice fits as interior pass-rushers. If the Giants wanted to draft an edge rusher, there could be options there with Ohio State's Nick Bosa, Clemson's Clelin Ferrell and Boston College's Zach Allen.
The Giants have a talented young core on the offensive side of the ball with Barkley, Beckham, Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. Now, the team just needs a quarterback to finish off the offense. Once the Giants land that player, they can devote draft resources to the defense. before long, they could be back in playoff contention if they get the quarterback pick right.
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