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 Seattle. 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.
Yesterday was a great Sunday for the Raiders, as the Cardinals' upset win over Green Bay will move Oakland back into the top-two picks of the 2019 NFL Draft. Having a top-two choice would be great for the Raiders, as that would assure them of one of the elite defensive line prospects in Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams or Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa. WalterFootball.com was first to report that Williams was being projected as a high first-round pick by NFL teams
, and he would be a great addition for Oakland. Bosa would be a different type of good thing, giving the Raiders a bookend edge rusher to go with Arden Key.
While the national media has fallen all over themselves criticizing Jon Gruden, the 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 over the next two drafts 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.
Arizona's hopes of landing the No. 1-overall pick were dealt a massive setback with the surprising road upset of Green Bay. The Cardinals could still end up with the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but they will need help in the form of the 49ers getting two wins and the Raiders getting one win in the final four weeks. Given the play of San Francisco and Oakland, it seems very unlikely that Arizona will land the top pick.
Since the Cardinals took Josh Rosen to be the new franchise quarterback last year, they should look to trade down and get a package of picks to jump start the rebuild, if they somehow land the top pick. 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.
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.
Miami Dolphins: Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
The Dolphins need more weapons for Adam Gase's offense and quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Both Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker are just No. 2 or 3 receivers. Miami needs to add a receiver who brings more explosion to the offense with the ability to stretch the field vertically. Campbell would be a good addition, and he would make sense for the Dolphins' first-round pick.
Campbell has played well for Ohio State as a senior, coming up with some clutch plays and scores to lead the Buckeyes. He has 79 receptions for 992 yards with 11 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 nice fit in the Dolphins' offense.
Arizona Cardinals: Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri
The Cardinals pulled off one of the NFL's most shocking upsets of Week 13 with a win at Lambeau field. They won despite rookie quarterback Josh Rosen really struggling to complete passes, going only 11-of-26 for 149 yards. This offseason, Arizona has to get more play-makers for Rosen, and Okwuegbunam's mismatch size always makes him a viable target for a completion. Larry Fitzgerald is aging; Christian Kirk is a limited wideout; and Ricky Seals-Jones is more of a backup/rotational tight end. At the top of the second round in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cardinals could target a tight end like Okwuegbunam or even trade back into the first round to land him.
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. In 2017, 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.
New York Giants: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The Giants' defense came up with a huge game to lead their team to an overtime win over the first-place Bears. The fourth win of the season came despite the play of the aging and declining Eli Manning. The 2019 NFL Draft is not filled with good quarterback prospects, but after general manager Dave Gettleman passed on taking a quarterback last year, the Giants are desperate for a young quarterback. Fortunately for New York, other teams that could be in the market for quarterbacks, like the Jaguars, Buccaneers and Broncos, also won in Week 13. Thus, the Giants could still be in position to take the top quarterback prospect of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Herbert has a good skill set and has displayed that as a junior. The 6-foot-6, 225-pounder has a strong accurate arm along with pocket presence and mobility. Of the 2019 NFL Draft quarterback prospects, Herbert has the best skill set and the most positive buzz in the scouting community. In 2018, Herbert has completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,985 yards with 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions. If he enters the 2019 NFL Draft, he could be the best possible pick for the Giants.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
The Jaguars' defense flashed their 2017 form when they shut out the Colts in a 6-0 performance. Jacksonville benched Blake Bortles, and the organization clearly needs to move on and find an upgrade. Tom Coughlin had success in New York with a quarterback who was similar to Lock in terms of personality and skill set in Eli Manning. Thus, Lock could appeal to Coughlin as the quarterback of the future for the Jaguars.
Lock has completed 63 percent of his passes in 2018 for 3,125 yards with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He set an SEC record with 44 touchdown passes as a junior while completing 58 percent of his passes for 3,964 yards and 13 touchdowns. There is no doubt that Lock (6-4, 225) has a powerful arm and can pick apart a defense. He wisely returned to school for the 2018 season because he needed to improve his accuracy and footwork before going pro. Sources have told me that Lock has a quiet personality similar to Eli Manning and is not a vocal team leader. That could hurt him with some pro evaluators.
Denver Broncos: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
The Broncos continued their second-half surge on Sunday and are showing up as the team I thought they would be this year when I picked them to win a wild card prior to the season. Case Keenum would make more sense as a placeholder quarterback in 2019 with Denver grooming a young quarterback of the future. John Elway blew first- and second-round picks on Paxton Lynch and Brock Osweiler respectively, so this is a critical time for Elway to get it right and finally find Denver its quarterback of the future.
Haskins (6-3, 220) flashes the ability to be a NFL quarterback, but he needs to become more consistent. In 2018, he has completed 70 percent of his passes for 4,580 yards with 47 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Haskins has a strong arm with the potential to be a pocket passer who hurts defenses. He has talent, but there are stretches during which everything is just a little bit off with him. His decision-making is not consistent, and he makes some bad plays in terms of ball security. Haskins' field vision needs to improve, and he has to get faster at working through his progressions. His footwork also needs improvement, and his ball placement can be off. Haskins should return to Ohio State for 2019 to improve his overall play before going to the NFL. As a first-year starter, that is understandable, and he has upside to grow.
Los Angeles Rams: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Rams' defense has struggled in the middle portion of the season, and their inability to prevent points could end up coming back to bite them in the playoffs. Marcus Peters has had some serious struggles this year, and Aqib Talib has been out with injury. Both Talib and Peters are nearing the end of their contracts, so the Rams could use some young talent at corner to help build their secondary around for the long term.
On the season, Williams has two interceptions, 32 tackles and nine passes broken up. He had some problems against Alabama and Georgia that illustrate his lack of elite speed, which means he is more of a mid- to late first-round pick. Williams broke out in 2017 with six interceptions, 11 passes broken up and 38 tackles. He showed good instincts, an ability to break on the ball, and impressive ball skills. In the 2019 NFL Draft, Williams would make a lot of sense for the Rams.
Dallas Cowboys: N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Dallas has won four in a row after Rod Marinelli's defense had a tremendous performance to lead the Cowboys to a low-scoring win over the Saints juggernaut offense. Dallas traded for Amari Cooper earlier this season, but Cooper was very inconsistent for the Raiders over 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.
Some in the media have Harry as a top-10 pick, but I've spoken with teams that have given him day two grades. Last week in the Hot Press
, one scout told us how he was dropping Harry's grade from the second to the third round. The 6-foot-4, 213-pound Harry is a big receiver with mismatch size, but he does not have the speed or fluid movement skills of a first-round pick. In the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Harry could be a consideration as a No. 2 receiver to be paired with Cooper to give Dak Prescott a young receiving corps to grow with.
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 Titans have had a rollercoaster season. They had a strong start to the year, despite Marcus Mariota missing some time with an injury, before a slump that put them in a hole. After beating the Cowboys and Patriots over six days, the Titans looked like they were getting red hot to challenge for a second consecutive playoff berth. Then, they fell in some ugly losses to the Colts and Texans to essentially sink their 2018 season. Tennessee general manager Jon Robinson had some early success with his drafts for the team, but his last draft and run in free agency have underwhelmed, so the clock is ticking on Robinson if he is going to survive in Tennessee. The Titans have major needs on both sides of the ball to address.
The Titans' defense sparked them to those wins over the Cowboys and Patriots, but that unit was utterly destroyed by the Colts and Texans. Veteran edge rushers Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are entering free agency after this season, and while the Titans drafted one replacement last year in second-round pick Harold Landry, they could use a feature pass-rusher for Mike Vrabel's defense. In my latest mock 2019 NFL Draft
, I have the Titans taking Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat. The fast quarterback hunter is a long athlete with speed off the edge. Sweat would be a great fit in Tennessee's defense. Other edge rushers to consider include Clemson's Clelin Ferrell and Florida's Jachai Polite.
If the Titans addresss a different need in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, they could look at second-day edge rushers like Old Dominion's Oshane Ximenes, Florida State's Brian Burns, Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson, Michigan's Chase Winovich and Oregon's Jalen Jelks.
Tennessee also could consider some safety help with a player to go with Kevin Byard. Alabama's Deionte Thompson would be a nice addition to the Titans' defense, as he would help their pass coverage in the deep part of the field, plus serve as a quality run defender in the second level. Some safeties to consider on Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft would include Mississippi State's Johnathan Abram, Florida's Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Delaware's Nasir Adderley.
Offensively, Tennessee needs more play-makers and receiving weapons for Marcus Mariota. In the second round, a good fit would be Oklahoma speedster Marquise Brown, who would give the Titans a wideout with elite speed that could produce long touchdowns and stretch the field vertically. They have a big receiver in Corey Davis, so adding more speed would make sense.
A dream draft class for the Titans' 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: Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown
Round 3: Delaware safety Nasir Adderley
This is a critical draft class for Robinson and Tennessee. The Titans' new owners showed they are very aggressive with firing Mike Mularkey after he led Tennessee to the playoffs and knocked off Kansas City on the road. Robinson needs a strong draft, or he could be on a piping hot seat next season.
New Orleans Saints:
Last year, I was one of the few media analysts was who high on the Saints and predicted New Orleans to get into the playoffs. Invigorated by a great set of rookies in Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk and Alvin Kamara, New Orleans was one of the best teams in the NFC and came one missed tackle away from being in the NFC Championship Game against Philadelphia. This year, the Saints have been one of the best teams in the NFL, and they have a real shot at getting franchise quarterback Drew Brees his second Super Bowl ring. Even if the Saints come up short this year, they could be back in the Championship mix next year due to having a talented young core and Brees still playing at a very high level. Another strong draft by New Orleans could have the Saints in better position to get a championship.
Offensively, the Saints need more receiving weapons for Brees. Sean Payton was very frustrated with the wideouts aside from Michael Thomas, and that is what led New Orleans to signing declining veterans like Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall. In my latest mock 2019 NFL Draft
, I have the Saints taking Arizona State N'Keal Harry to give Brees another big target on the outside. Some in the media have Harry as a top-10 pick, but I've spoken with teams that have given him second-day grades. Last week in the Hot Press
, one scout told us how he was dropping Harry's grade from the second to the third round. Other good second-day receivers to consider would be Texas' Collin Johnson, Oklahoma's Marquise Brown and South Carolina's Deebo Samuel. The diminutive Brown would give the Saints a home run hitter who is capable of scoring on any touch with his elite speed. The 6-foot-6 Johnson is a giant who provides a size mismatch, while Samuel is an explosive wide receiver who is dynamic with the ball in his hands.
Of those four receivers, Samuel could be the best fit. The Saints already have size at receiver with No. 1 receiver Michael Thomas. As evidenced by signing Bryant and Marshall, there are always big receivers available. Brown would be a nice addition, but I'm not sure he will get to New Orleans' second-round pick, plus his deep speed might not be as valuable as Brees ages and his arm strength declines. Samuel (6-0, 208) could be the happy middle in being put together well with decent size, yet also having the speed to rip off big plays. He also is a dangerous kick returner. Samuel has the flexibility to be an outside or slot receiver. If he gets to the Saints' second-round pick, hw could be an excellent No. 2 wide receiver to be paired with Thomas.
The other position that the Saints could consider would be more edge-rushing talent. Marcus Davenport has played well as a rookie, but a team can never enough edge rushers. Cam Jordan will turn 30 before next season, and depth is necessary in case of injury. Some second-round edge rushers to consider include Old Dominion's Oshane Ximenes, Florida State's Brian Burns, Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson, Michigan's Chase Winovich and Oregon's Jalen Jelks.
Between these edge rushers and wide receivers, New Orleans should be able to come away with a role player who could help the team get better for 2019. This is a critical draft class for the Saints to take advantage of having Brees playing at a high level.
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