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:
San Francisco 49ers:
The 49ers maintained their spot for the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft with a loss to Tampa Bay. In the preseason, the 49ers were a trendy prediction to win the NFC West after the winning streak they had to close out the 2017 season. Those high hopes came crashing down in late September 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 massive disappointment. While he is solid run defender, Thomas is completely ineffective as a pass-rusher. Bosa could form a nice pass-rush tandem with DeForest Buckner. See more on the 49ers in the spotlight section below.
Arizona maintained its draft positioning by being blown out by the Chargers. The Cardinals could end up with the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, as they are tied for the worst record in the NFL with two wins. They just need the 49ers to win a game and lose out to get the first pick.
Since Arizona took Josh Rosen to be the new franchise quarterback last year, the organization should look to trade down and get a package of picks to jump start the rebuild. If the team is stuck at No. 1 overall, it would make sense to take Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. WalterFootball.com was first to report that Williams was being projected as a high first-round pick by NFL teams
and he is in the running to be the best prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft with Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa. Robert Nkemdiche has been a massive disappointment, and Arizona needs a difference-maker at the point of attack. The Cardinals should look to replace general manager Steve Keim, too, as his selections have led to Arizona having one of the worst rosters in the NFL.
Oakland lost to Baltimore, and the Raiders need to get some wins out of the 49ers and Cardinals to land the first pick. While the national media has fallen all over themselves criticizing Jon Gruden, he Raiders actually making a lot of astute moves. If they would have re-signed Khalil Mack, they would have been cap-strapped for years to come, and the Eagles are the only team with a $100 million defender that has won a Super Bowl. The other teams have not had that kind of success after putting so many resources into one non-quarterback.
Jon Gruden has improved Derek Carr from how Carr was playing in 2017, and the team is doing that without wide receiver talent. While Amari Cooper has a good skill set, he was inconsistent and an underachiever. Getting a first-round pick for him rather than paying him a big contract was another wise decision by Gruden. Over the next couple of offseasons, the Raiders need to improve their edge rush, linebackers, secondary, wide receivers and running backs. The organization will have five first-round picks and plenty of free agent dollars to try to get that done.
Oakland is in rebuilding mode, and that was made clear with the Mack and 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.
Philadelphia Eagles: Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
The Eagles need a receiver who can stretch the field, and Golden Tate has been a disappointment thus far. He had only four receptions for 30 yards against the Giants, but it still is early, so he could certainly do more for Philadelphia in the weeks to come. Still, adding a young play-maker who can get vertical would be a great addition to the Philadelphia offense. With two second-round picks and a first-round pick, a wideout like Campbell would be a great addition.
Campbell has played well for Ohio State as a senior, coming up with some clutch plays and scores to lead the Buckeyes. He has 71 receptions for 825 yards with 10 touchdowns on the year. In his career, he has averaged 12 yards per rush for 288 yards with three touchdowns. Sources from multiple teams told me over a year ago that Campbell possessed big-time ability and that they thought he would break out in 2017 if Ohio State would commit to getting him the ball. The passing limitations of J.T. Barrett held back Campbell and Ohio State's other wideouts prior to 2018. Those sources also think Campbell has serious receiver talent for the NFL. The 6-foot, 205-pounder is well put together with the explosive speed to take any catch the distance. Teams' preseason data had Campbell running the 40 in 4.35 seconds. He would be a great fit in the Eagles' offense.
New England Patriots: Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri
The Patriots enjoyed seeing Rob Gronkowski get into the end zone for the first time since Week 1, and at this point, it would make sense for New England to think of taking another tight end. In the short term, that tight end would give them a more talented two-tight end set, provide depth in case Gronkowski is injured again, and in the long term, provide the starter of the future.
Okwuegbunam is one of the most dangerous mismatch weapons in college football even though Missouri does not always utilize him. When the Tigers do, he produces big plays for them via his speed to get down the seam or by using his the size to wall off defenders and make catches over them when they are able to keep him from getting separation. This season, he has 43 receptions for 466 yards with six touchdowns. Last year, he totaled 11 touchdowns on only 29 catches for 415 yards. The 6-foot-5, 255-pounder could be the first tight end selected if he enters the 2019 NFL Draft.
Baltimore Ravens: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
The Bills got a home win over the Jaguars and enjoyed the return of Josh Allen, but once again Buffalo's wide receivers were pathetic. No wideout had even three receptions, and almost half of Buffalo's passing yards came on one play with a 75-yard touchdown to Robert Foster. This offseason, the Bills have to acquire some receiving weapons for Allen.
Brown would be a great wide receiver for Allen, as Brown is a big possessional receiver who can get open in the short to intermediate part of the field. He would provide Allen with some safer throws, plus Brown is a dangerous run-after-the-catch receiver. In 2018, Brown totaled 85 receptions for 1,320 yards and seven scores. If he gets to the Bills' first-round pick, he would make a lot of sense for them.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia
Against John Lynch's 49ers, it felt like a turn-back-the-clock game for Tampa Bay as the team fielded a suffocating defensive effort led by a line that got after the quarterback and a secondary that took the ball away. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, this kind of defensive performance has not been the norm this year. Against San Francisco, they notched their first defensive turnover in eight games and only their second and third interceptions of the season. Dante Pettis also gave their secondary some problems. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Bucs should look to improve their coverage, and Baker could be the No. 1 cover corner in the draft class.
In 2018, Baker has 37 tackles with nine breakups, one force fumble and two interceptions. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder was very impressive as the No. 1 cornerback for Georgia in 2017. He showed good speed and athleticism to run with receivers and prevent separation. Baker totaled 44 tackles with nine passes broken up and three interceptions on the year. As a sophomore, he had two picks, five pass breakups and 31 tackles. Some sources feel that while other corners might go ahead of Baker because of a better size/speed combination, he could be the best pure cover corner to run the route and prevent separation in the 2019 NFL Draft. Baker has good instincts with functional speed and strength. He is adept at running the route to prevent receivers from getting open and limiting runs after the catch. Baker would be a good selection for the Buccaneers in the 2019 NFL Draft.
New Orleans Saints: K'Neal Harry, WR, Arizona State
The Saints took care of business by routing the Falcons at home in the dome, and that win gave New Orleans a death-grip on the NFC South. While his team is firing on all cylinders, Saints head coach Sean Payton has wanted more receiving talent to support Michael Thomas. That was why they signed Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall. Versus the Falcons, tight end Dan Arnold (4-45-1) was the Saints' leading receiver and their wide outs were quiet. In the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Payton could grab a long-term No. 2 wide receiver to go with Thomas.
Some draft analysts have Harry projected as a top-10 pick, but I've spoken with some scouts who have graded him for the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. They say that the big wideout does not have the speed or movement skills to be projected that high. They say that Harry is similar to the Panther's Devin Funchess, who was a second-day pick. Harry has 69 receptions for 1,033 yards with nine touchdowns this season. He would be a nice red-zone weapon to complement Michael Thomas for the Saints.
Chicago Bears: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
George 'Papa Bear' Halas never wanted to play the Lions on Thanksgiving Day because he felt the schedule was such an advantage for Detroit, so he would be proud that his Bears took care of business in the Motor City this year. While the Bears got the win, Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah broke Reggie White's record for sacks on Thanksgiving and one of the few areas for improvement on the Bears' roster is upgrading their offensive tackles to protect Mitch Trubisky.
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 has allowed rushers to get speed upfield, but he has 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. In the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Dillard could be a good value for the Bears, if he gets to their pick.
Dallas Cowboys: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
In the Cowboys' win over the Falcons four days before Thanksgiving, Ezekiel Elliott was the Cowboys' leading runner and receiver, while none of their wideouts had even six receptions for 52 yards receiving. Amari Cooper (3-36) was a non-factor, but then on Thanksgiving Day, he had a huge game versus the Redskins thanks to cornerbacks falling down twice and letting him run away for touchdowns. Cooper was very inconsistent for the Raiders in the past two years, and that pattern is flashing in Dallas. Even if Cooper straightens out, the Cowboys could use more receiver talent around him. Here is a big wide receiver who they could target in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
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 53 receptions for 730 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 Dallas.
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.
The Seahawks have been in the wild-card race this year, but they clearly have a ceiling compared to earlier this decade when they were a Super Bowl champion and contender. Seattle still has a franchise quarterback in Russell Wilson, but the defense got old, expensive, and the offensive skill position players haven't picked up the slack. Over the past couple of drafts, Seahawks general manager John Schneider has worked on rebuilding their rushing attack, but there is a lot more for them to fix in order to get back into Super Bowl form.
In my latest mock 2019 NFL Draft
, I have the Seahawks taking Clemson nose tackle Dexter Lawrence, and getting some defensive line help would make the most sense for them. Frank Clark is their only defender who can consistently pressure the quarterback, and they need to improve their run defense. In a division with Todd Gurley and David Johnson, Seattle has to field a tough run defense. The team's run defense was exploited by Christian McCaffrey yesterday; he ran all over Seattle.
Fortunately for the Seahawks, next April could produce a legendary defensive line class, and the 2019 NFL Draft could have as many as 10 interior defensive linemen who grade out as first-rounders along with a handful of edge rushers. The Seahawks won't be picking high to land the top tackle in Alabama's Quinnen Williams, and they will probably be too low to get Auburn's Derrick Brown, Mississippi State's Jeff Simmons, or Houston's Ed Oliver. However, there are still plenty of other good players to consider.
A large run-stuffing nose tackle like Lawrence or Alabama's Raekwon Davis would be a nice fit next to Jarrad Reed and lock down the middle of the defensive line. Clemson's Christian Wilkins would also be a nice pick in the middle or early 20s because he also can rush the passer.
It would make the most sense for the Seahawks to trade down because they are without their second-round pick thanks to the Duane Brown trade, but that is easier said than done. If the Seahawks can trade down and get another second-day pick, they could target a defensive tackle like Notre Dame's Jerry Tillery or Alabama's Isaiah Buggs. Seattle also could consider adding a pass-rusher like Michigan's Rashan Gary, Clemson's Clelin Ferrell, Boston College's Zach Allen or Mississippi State's Montez Sweat.
In the third round, it would make sense to add more offensive line talent to protect Russell Wilson and open holes for the Seahawks' stable of backs. Brown is aging and declining, so taking a player who could develop into a starting left tackle would make sense. Washington State's Andre Dillard would be a great fit for that. Seattle could also consider West Virginia's Yodney Cajust.
A dream draft class for the Seahawks' picks on the first two days of the 2019 NFL Draft could look something like this:
Round 1: Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence
Round 3: Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard
This is an important draft of Schneider and Seattle as they have to close the gap with the Rams. Improving the defensive and offensive lines would be a wise way to tackle that difficult task.
San Francisco 49ers:
A few years ago, the 49ers were having a hard time finding a general manager as many top candidates weren't interested in the position because of working with terrible ownership in Jed York. With San Francisco struggling to fill the position, former Buccaneers and Broncos safety John Lynch called up and volunteered for the job. The then Fox analyst was given the position despite zero scouting or front office experience. Lynch has had some big hits and huge misses in the early going of his tenure with the 49ers, and this is a critical offseason for Lynch. San Francisco is going to have a high first-round pick, and it is vital that the organization land a difference-maker.
Having been in the TV booth months earlier, Lynch blew it with this first draft class for San Francisco. After getting arrested on Saturday night in Tampa Bay, the 49ers cut their second first-round pick, linebacker Reuben Foster. Teams across the league had character concerns with Foster, but the 49ers ignored them. They also had terrible evaluation practices, as Lynch said that they landed two of the top three players on their draft board. That means the 49ers scouting staff had Foster and Solomon Thomas graded ahead of Leonard Fournette, Pat Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Christian McCaffrey, and more. One draft mistake often leads to another, and the 49ers now have to find new players to do what they thought they were getting in Thomas and Foster.
With the third-overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, Lynch took Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, and he looks like he is on his way to bust status. Thomas is a solid run defender, but he is so ineffective as a pass-rusher, the 49ers bench him in passing situations. Prior to that draft, WalterFootball.com heard from a huge amount of team sources that had Thomas graded as a late first- or second-round pick. Thus, Lynch made a huge reach with his first selection, which is coming back to bite San Francisco. That kind of error can't happen again with another high first-round pick. The 49ers still need more talent on their defensive line around talented defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Buckner, Thomas and Erik Armstead are all better fits in a 3-4 defense, but the 49ers are stubbornly running a 4-3 set that does not fit their three first-round picks on the defensive line since 2015.
Fortunately for the 49ers, next April could produce a legendary defensive line class, and the 2019 NFL Draft could have as many as 10 interior defensive linemen who grade out as first-rounders along with a handful of edge rushers. If San Francisco has a shot at him, Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa would be a dream pick to be the team's lead pass-rusher. Bosa next to Buckner could be a dynamic duo. In my latest mock 2019 NFL Draft
, I have the 49ers taking Bosa with the first-overall pick.
If Bosa is off the board, the 49ers could also consider another interior rusher to go next to Buckner. WalterFootball.com was the first to report that NFL teams were grading Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams
as a high first-round pick, and he is among the two best players in the 2019 NFL Draft with Bosa. In the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Lynch could just go with the best defensive player available, and that would help a shaky San Francisco defense.
If I were running the 49ers, I would make a big play to sign Jadeveon Clowney in the offseason, assuming Houston doesn't franchise tag him. Clowney is a great run defender and dangerous pass-rusher. He would really help San Francisco to defend Todd Gurley, David Johnson and Rashaad Penny. If the 49ers sign Clowney and draft Bosa, they would have a tremendous defensive line of Clowney, Buckner, Armstead and Bosa. The team could trade Solomon Thomas or keep him as a rotational run defender.
On the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft, San Francisco could stand to add more talent for franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Last year, the 49ers took Mike McGlinchey, and he could end up being their franchise left tackle to replace Joe Staley. In the second round, San Francisco could grab an offensive line talent who starts out at guard and eventually forms a tackle tandem with McGlinchey. Alabama left tackle Jonah Williams would be a good fit in this role. Some media have Williams very overrated, but in speaking to some team sources, they think that Williams would fit best as a right tackle and have him graded on Day 2. He could form a nice tandem with McGlinchey.
Offensively, the 49ers need more receiving weapons for Garoppolo. They could use a large wideout to go with Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis. In the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Collin Johnson is a big wide receiver who provides a size mismatch and has some quickness. Johnson would be a nice fit in Kyle Shanahan's offense. Some other big receivers to consider in the third round would include Ole Miss' DaMarkus Lodge, West Virginia's David Sills or Texas' Lil'Jordan Humphrey. Any of those three could be third-round options.
An excellent return for the 49ers' picks on the first two days of the 2019 NFL Draft could look something like this:
Round 1: Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa
Round 2: Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams
Round 3: Ole Miss wide receiver Damarkus Lodge
This is a critical draft class for Lynch. He has to start putting a very talented team around Garoppolo if the 49ers are going to be in position to challenge the Rams.
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