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:
The Giants play tonight against the 49ers. This is a winnable game for the Giants, and if they win, it could cost them the No. 1-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. They lost their previous two games over the course of six days, but also were able to play competitively against those opponents. Heading into Week 10, the Giants held the No. 1 pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.
If the Giants do have the first-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, they could use it on Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. 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.
The Raiders lost at home to Los Angeles, and at this point, it would be in Oakland's interest to lose out and hopefully land the first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Currently, the Raiders have the second pick the 2019 NFL Draft, behind only the Giants. If Oakland can lose out and the Giants gets another win, the Raiders will have the No. 1-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Oakland is in rebuilding mode, and that was made clear with the Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper trades. 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 their three first-round picks as they should be in position to land 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.
Cleveland Browns: Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn
The Browns upset Atlanta with superb games from their rookie combination of Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb. The Falcons' offense had success, but Cleveland's defense came up with enough plays to support the Cleveland offense. This offseason, the Browns could use more cornerback talent to pair with Denzel Ward. Taking a corner in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft could be a good fit for them.
Dean has 23 tackles, two interceptions and five passes batted in 2018 while playing with a cast on one of his hands. Despite dealing with the injury, he has been a good cover corner for Auburn this year. The 6-foot-2, 208-pounder has excellent size to help the Browns match up against big receivers and leave Ward to handling the smaller and fast wide outs.
Indianapolis Colts: Dre'Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
The Colts held on to a three-point win after Jacksonville attempted a comeback after falling behind early. Indianapolis forced a fumble late in the fourth quarter deep in its own territory to prevent the Jaguars from tying the game. The Colts did not produce a sack despite Jacksonville having a banged-up offensive line playing without some key starters. This offseason, Indianapolis needs to take advantage of this great class of defensive tackles and grab an interior pass-rusher.
Jones would be a great fit in the Colts' scheme as a three-technique. He is very fast with an excellent burst off the snap to fire his gap and cause disruption in the backfield. The 6-foot-3, 295-pounder is athletic with change-of-direction skills and a ton of upside to develop as a pro. He is having an excellent season for Ohio State and has continued to make plays despite not having Nick Bosa next to him. Jones has 6.5 sacks, 28 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, one pass batted, one forced fumble and a 28-yard pick-six on the season. In the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Jones would make a lot of sense for Indianapolis.
Buffalo Bills: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
The Bills rolled the Jets in a battle of the backups; Matt Barkley outplayed Josh McCown to get the Bills their third win of the season. This offseason, Buffalo needs to add more offensive weapons for Josh Allen, and grabbing him a mismatch tight end would make sense as a safe receiver for Allen to target in the middle of the field.
This season, Smith has been a dynamic receiver who has been a nightmare in coverage for defenses. The 6-foot-4, 241-pounder is a good route runner with quickness and functional size to cause mismatches. In 2018, Smith has 31 catches for 518 yards and six touchdowns. Those numbers are held down by Alabama having pulled its starters midway through the game in eight of its contests thus far. Smith could be nice selection for Buffalo early in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Los Angeles Rams: Tre Lamar, LB, Clemson
The Rams notched a hard-fought win over the Seahawks at home, but for the second straight week, Los Angeles had problems with running backs. A week after Alvin Kamara led the Saints to dealing the Rams their first lost, Seattle ran for over 260 yards on the Rams' defense. Last offseason, the Rams had to trade away Alec Ogletree in order to free up some money to spend on other players, but over this offseason, they should look to find a quality replacement for him.
Los Angeles won't be picking high enough to land LSU linebacker Devin White, but Lamar could be a nice fit in the middle of Wade Phillips' defense. Lamar is big, physical, fast and athletic. He has done a nice job of playing off the superb defensive line in front of him, and he could repeat that lining up behind Aaron Donald. Lamar also has some pass-rush skills to him, so he could rush off the edge or blitz up the middle. In 2018, Lamar has 52 tackles with two sacks and an interception. The Rams' defense would be even better with Lamar at linebacker.
Tennessee Titans: Montez Sweat, DE/OLB, Mississippi State
The Titans pulled off a shocking upset over the Patriots during which the Tennessee offense had its way with the New England defense. Typically, the key to beating Tom Brady is hitting him a lot and racking up a lot of sacks, but the Titans won with three sacks, and none of them came from their edge rushers. This offseason, Tennessee could use a pass-rusher to pair with Harold Landry.
Over the past couple of seasons, Sweat has been the most consistent sack producer in the SEC. This year, he is up to totals of 41 tackles, 12 for a loss and 9.5 sacks. The 6-foot-6, 240-pounder has speed and length off the edge with natural feel as a pass-rusher. He has turned in 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 Tennessee's 3-4 defense.
Washington Redskins: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
The Redskins improved to 6-3 after shutting down the high-scoring Tampa Bay offense. Washington's defense came up with a huge series of stops inside its own 25-yard line, forcing turnovers and causing the Buccaneers to squander scoring opportunities. Considering the circumstances, the Redskins' offense played well even though their point total of 16 points is not a big amount. The reason it was a good game was the MASH unit of their offensive line having to play players signed off the street to compensate for injuries to three of their starting five. The Redskins have also dealt with a rash of injuries at wide receiver. From the offseason, Washington could use more red-zone and third-down weapons to help move the chains.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Johnson is a mismatch weapon with the size and ability to provide a big target to his quarterback. The junior has 50 receptions for 675 yards with five scores in 2018. If Johnson were faster, he would be a clear cut first-round pick. He also does not play up to his size and is not as physical with receivers as he should be, but those are things that could be coached up in the NFL. On the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft, Johnson would be a good pick for Washington.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
The Steelers roughed up the Panthers on Thursday night, but one thing that remained clear is how much Pittsburgh is still missing Ryan Shazier. Christian McCaffrey hurt the Steelers as a runner and receiver, racking up yards with three touchdowns. The Pittsburgh linebackers were incapable of handling him. Shazier did a lot for the Steelers in pass coverage as well as providing sideline-to-sideline speed in run defense. Hopefully, Shazier is able to make a comeback and play again, and even if he does, Pittsburgh could use an upgrade to go with him.
Wilson has 43 tackles with four passes broken up and two interceptions in 2018, but he has only played one half in most games due to Alabama blowing out so many opponents. In 2017, Wilson collected 40 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss, two passes batted and four interceptions. Team sources say that Wilson (6-1, 238) has early-round potential for the 2019 NFL Draft. They love what he does in pass coverage with his rare instincts and ability to defend the pass. Inside linebackers with pass-coverage skills are always in demand, so if Wilson maintains that kind of play in coverage, there will be plenty of NFL teams hoping to land him.
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.
Kansas City Chiefs:
With first-year starter Pat Mahomes lighting up the scoreboard, the Chiefs have been one of the dominant teams in the NFL this season. Andy Reid's offense has been unstoppable as their dynamic group of play-makers has been impossible to defend. Even if the Chiefs don't win the Super Bowl this year, they should be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come, because Mahomes has the potential to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. You could make the argument that he is knocking on that door right now. Thus, a few more good drafts could put Kansas City over the top.
If the Chiefs fall short of a championship this year, it will be because of their defense. Kansas City is in a high-scoring shootout on a weekly basis, and that could put the team in a precarious situation in January with having to go through a string of playoff defenses to get a Lombardi Trophy. Addressing the defense in the offseason is a must. Fortunately for the Chiefs, they have two second-round picks to help fill needs.
The biggest need on the Chiefs' roster could be for an edge rusher. Tamba Hali is gone; Justin Houston is aging with durability issues; and Dee Ford is a disappointment. Late in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Kansas City could target players like Mississippi State's Montez Sweat or Florida's Jachai Polite. There is a chance that a good edge rusher won't get to the Chiefs, so taking a defensive lineman could make sense. In my latest mock 2019 NFL Draft
, I have the Chiefs taking Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, who could help generate a pass rush from the inside. That is one route Kansas City could go, but selecting an outside rush linebacker would be the most desirable way to use the organization's first-round pick. Some edge rushers to consider from Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft would include Florida State's Brian Burns, Oregon's Jalen Jelks, Old Dominion's Oshane Ximines, Miami's Joe Jackson, Michigan's Chase Winovich and Wyoming's Carl Granderson.
After trading away the troubled Marcus Peters, Kansas City could use more talent at cornerback. A trio of first-round corners in Alabama's Trevon Diggs, LSU's Greedy Williams, and Georgia's DeAndre Baker could all be gone by the time they pick. If one slips to them, that could be a nice pick. Some second round corners to consider could include quality prospects like Penn State's Amani Oruwariye, Auburn's Jamel Dean, Troy's Blace Brown, and Ohio State's Kendall Sheffield.
Another position at which Kansas City could use more talent is safety. In the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Alabama's Deionte Thompson would be a dream come true, but I doubt he will get to the Chiefs' pick. On the second day, some good safeties who could help Kansas City would be Mississippi State's Johnathan Abram or Florida's Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
A dream draft class for the Chiefs' picks on the first two days of the 2019 NFL Draft could look something like this:
Round 1: Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat
Round 2: Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram
Round 2: Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye
Round 3: USC cornerback Iman Marshall
It would not surprise me at all if the Chiefs win the Super Bowl in the next few years. Their offense is loaded with young elite talent. Now, they just have to fix their defense. Doing so could make Kansas City a team capable of winning multiple Lombardi Trophies during Mahomes' career.
Los Angeles Chargers:
The Chargers improved to 7-2 after dropping the Raiders on the road on Sunday, and things finally seem to be going Los Angeles way. For years, the Chargers have been the Bad News Bears of the NFL with the worst possible luck at every turn. Between injuries, weird plays, missed kicks, and dealing with moving cities; it always seemed like the Chargers were cursed not to capitalize on a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Philip Rivers. Thankfully for Rivers and Chargers fans, the 2018 season seems to be a turning of the tide as the Chargers are one of the best teams in the AFC and a true a Super Bowl contender. Even if they don't win a Lombardi Trophy this year, the Chargers could do so next year, as Rivers is not showing signs of slowing down despite being 36. Another strong draft from astute general manager Tom Telesco could put Los Angeles over the top.
Thanks to wise drafting and free agency spending by Telesco, the Chargers have a strong roster without a lot of needs on it. There are a few long-term positions that could be improved, as good pros like Corey Liuget and Brandon Mebane can't escape father time, so adding some interior defensive line talent would make sense. In my latest mock 2019 NFL Draft
, I have the Chargers taking Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence in the first round, and that would be a great pick. The heavy nose tackle causes disruption at the point of attack and eats up blocks. He could be a nice defender to help keep blockers off of Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Denzel Perryman. The 2019 NFL Draft is loaded with defensive line talent, so even if the Chargers don't get Lawrence, they could have some excellent defensive tackles fall to them in the back half of the first round. That group could include the likes of Alabama's Raekwon Davis, Clemson's Christian Wilkins, Notre Dame's Jerry Tillery or Alabama's Isaiah Buggs.
Another direction that Los Angeles could go in the first round is cornerback. Jason Verrett has been injury prone and the Chargers could use more talent to go with Casey Hayward, a brilliant signing by Telesco. A trio of first-round corners in Alabama's Trevon Diggs, LSU's Greedy Williams, and Georgia's DeAndre Baker could all be gone by the time Los Angeles picks. If one slips to them, that could be a nice pick. However the Chargers would probably get a better value by taking a defensive tackle in the first round and then going with a cornerback on day two. Some second round corners to consider could include quality prospects like Penn State's Amani Oruwariye, Auburn's Jamel Dean, Troy's Blace Brown, and Ohio State's Kendall Sheffield.
On the other side of the ball, Los Angeles could consider adding more offensive line talent. Oklahoma's Cody Ford could be a road-grader at right guard and help pave the way for Melvin Gordon. Ford would be a good option to consider on the opening night of the 2019 NFL Draft, because he won't get to the Chargers' second-round pick. On the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft some prospects who could fit the Chargers include Wisconsin right tackle David Edwards, Washington State left tackle Andre Dillard, Florida right tackle Jawaan Taylor, Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom and Wisconsin guard Michael Deiter.
Last year, the move to Los Angeles got the Chargers off to a slow start, but after the first month, the Chargers were one of the best teams in the NFL. With another strong draft, they could be in position to take advantage of a Super Bowl window while they still have Rivers.
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