Monday Morning Draft – Week 8

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.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

Race for the No. 1 Pick:

Miami Dolphins:
The Dolphins play the Steelers tonight. Miami played the Bills close for a lot of the game before finally falling to Buffalo. In Week 6, the Dolphins almost blew their draft positioning with a touchdown in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, but they failed on the two-point conversion to lose 17-16 to the Redskins. The Dolphins are now 0-6 on the season.

Miami went into rebuilding mode after firing Adam Gase to start 2019. Miami accelerated that effort with a bunch of trades, including ripping off the Texans for three premium draft picks for Laremy Tunsil. With the roster lacking a lot of long-term pieces, the Dolphins will be able to draft a lot of the best players available over the next few years. Miami is the favorite to land the No. 1-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and could decide to rebuild around Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Cincinnati Bengals:
The 0-7 Bengals lost in London to the Rams. In Week 1, Cincinnati played really well on the road, but came up short against Seattle. The Bengals have a new regime in place and could look to upgrade over Andy Dalton if they land the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Bengals still have some good talents on their offense and their defensive line, so they may not land the No. 1-overall pick over Miami or another surprise team that collapses this season. The Bengals’ offensive line, however, has needed talent and the team already lost 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams to a season-ending injury. Cincinnati has other weaknesses on the roster, so it could be a long year.

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.

New England Patriots: Trey Adams, OT, Washington
The Patriots cruised over Cleveland despite Nick Chubb putting up some good numbers on the New England defense and Chubb’s former teammate Sony Michel struggling to find good running lanes. There aren’t many weaknesses on the Patriots’ roster, but they could use more talent at offensive tackle to protect Tom Brady and open holes for Michel.

Adams could be an option for New England because his injury history could cause him to slide even though he has the skill set of a franchise left tackle. There is no doubt among many evaluators that Adams has special first-round potential, so he could be a steal if he stays healthy once entering the NFL. Adams is big, athletic, strong, and plays with good technique. He could be a good fit in the New England offense and has plug-and-play starting potential.

San Francisco 49ers: Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
The 49ers rolled Carolina, but San Francisco had trouble containing Christian McCaffrey, just like everybody else in the NFL. The 49ers’ defensive line has been tremendous this year, but they could use more talent in the secondary with a safety upgrade. A safety like Dugger would have come in handy to defend McCaffrey’s threat to rip off long runs and running routes as a receiver. Dugger would come in handy when taking on the tailbacks and quarterbacks of the Seahawks, the Rams and the Cardinals.

Dugger has created a big buzz about his NFL future in the scouting community this fall. Sources at five different teams say that Dugger has the potential to be a second-day pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Thus far in 2019, he has 31 tackles with two interceptions and four passes broken up. Team sources say that Dugger has an excellent skill set as he is big and quick. Dugger is listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, which are excellent numbers for a pro safety, and he is said to play very fast, flying around the field. Sources also believe he will work out very well before the draft and could be a riser throughout the draft process. Dugger is putting his name on the map and has high-level scouts like directors of college scouting going to watch him this season.

Indianapolis Colts: Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty
The Colts had another close win, dodging a bullet from the Broncos with a fourth-quarter field goal to get the 15-13 win. Denver’s defense held the Indianapolis receivers in check, with none of them having even five receptions or 62 yards receiving. In 2020 NFL Draft, Indianapolis could use another receiver to go with T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell.

This season, Gandy-Golden has 48 receptions for 945 yards and five scores. Gandy-Golden is a very impressive natural hands catcher with excellent size who is dangerous after the catch and has enough quickness to get downfield. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder is a size mismatch and has some physicality to him. He is calm with defenders closing in on him and does a superb job of playing the ball. As a sophomore, Gandy-Golden had 71 receptions for 1,037 yards with 10 touchdowns. He played better than the numbers illustrate. Gandy-Golden could form a dangerous tandem with T.Y. Hilton.

New Orleans Saints: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
The Saints welcomed Drew Brees back to the field against Arizona, and he showed his Hall of Fame form with 373 yards and three touchdowns, helping New Orleans cruise over the Cardinals. On Sunday and in many games this year, the Saints have had a committee approach aside from Michael Thomas, but they could use a true No. 2 receiver for their offense. A burner like Reagor would add a big-play element to the offense and could form a dynamite tandem with Thomas.

In 2019, Reagor has 25 catches for 326 yards and four touchdowns while also providing big plays as a punt returner. He impressed team evaluators last year too, showing elite speed to generate separation and an ability to produce points. The sophomore totaled 72 receptions for 1,061 yards with nine touchdowns in 2018. In 2017, he collected 33 catches for 576 yards and eight scores. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder lacks height and needs to be coached up on route-running, but he is a big-play threat who can take the top off a defense. Reagor is a true burner who could be a prospect who grades out similarly to Will Fuller or Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown.

Philadelphia Eagles: Trevon Digs, CB, Alabama
The Eagles’ defense has struggled in coverage this season, but they flashed better form against Buffalo as they kept John Brown from any big plays while Josh Allen completed less than half of his passes. This offseason, Philadelphia has to improve its cornerback talent, and using its first-round pick on an upgrade would make sense.

In 2019, Diggs has 22 tackles, three interceptions, four passes defended and a fumble returned 100 yards for a touchdown. Diggs is listed at 6-foot-2, 199 pounds and has excellent speed and athleticism. He started out his career playing some wide receiver, but he has evolved into a talented cover corner for Alabama. With his size and physicality, Diggs is adept at matching up with big wideouts and has the speed to run vertically. Diggs took his game to another level in 2018 before going down with a broken foot that ended his season midway through the year, but prior to that, Diggs was on his way to being the top cornerback for the 2019 NFL Draft. He could be a good fit in Philadelphia.

Seattle Seahawks: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
The Seahawks’ secondary has played poorly all season, and that pattern continued on Sunday, when Matt Schaub threw for 460 yards and Julio Jones had 152 yards receiving. The coverage issues could come back to bite Seattle in the playoffs, and in the offseason, the organization will have to improve the talent of the secondary. In the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Seahawks probably won’t take a cornerback, but they could target a safety upgrade.

McKinney is a versatile safety who can a do a lot of things for a defense. Against the pass, he can play zone in the middle of the field or rotate downfield as a free safety. This season, McKinney has shown man coverage as well. Additionally, he is a tough run defender who is fast and physical. McKinney also has an aggressive demeanor that lets him fit as the eighth man in the box. McKinney has 58 tackles with an interception and forced fumble in 2019. A defender like McKinney would be great for the Seahawks to improve their ability to cover in the middle of the field.

Los Angeles Chargers: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Chargers escaped Soldier Field with a win thanks to some missed field goals by the Bears. Offensively, the Chargers have struggled in recent weeks, and that continued against Chicago as they only totaled 236 yards of offense with 36 yards on the ground. This season, the offensive line has been a constant weakness for the Chargers. In the 2020 NFL Draft, adding more blocking talent looks like a top priority for Los Angeles.

The 6-foot-5, 320-pound Thomas looks like a franchise left tackle for the NFL. He has an excellent skill set with quickness, athleticism and length. With his feet and agility, Thomas is very good at defending the edge from speed rushers while also having more strength to be a good blocker in the ground game. Thomas looks like a very safe pick to turn into a good pro starter, and the Chargers would be very fortunate if they could land him in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Team Draft Report:

In this section, we take a deeper look at specific teams and where they stand in regards to the 2020 NFL Draft.

Detroit Lions:
The Lions got a much-needed win over the Giants to keep within striking distance in the competitive NFC. Two teams are ahead of Detroit in the division because the Vikings and Packers dropped the Lions in back-to-back games, and Detroit also is chasing a wild-card spot as the NFC has a lot of good teams fighting for the postseason. Matthew Stafford is a good NFL starter, but not an elite championship quarterback like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. Thus, the Lions can’t expect Stafford to put the team on his back and carry them to a Lombardi Trophy. Detroit must build up the roster around him so Stafford can be a Super Bowl quarterback in the mold of Joe Flacco or Eli Manning. Having a strong 2020 NFL Draft is vital for the Lions to make that happen in the back half of Stafford’s career.

On both sides of the ball, Detroit has some needs to address. Defensively, the Lions have could stand to improve their edge rush and cornerback play. In my latest mock 2020 NFL Draft, I have the Lions taking Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, who could be a great fit across from Trey Flowers. Other edge rushers to consider include Alabama’s Terrell Lewis, Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa and Florida’s Jon Greenard.

Darius Slay is one corner to build around, but Teez Tabor was a bust and Detroit could use some upgrades around Slay. Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah, Alabama’s Trevon Diggs, Stanford’s Paulson Adebo and Florida’s C.J. Henderson are all worthy candidates as potential No. 1 corners for the NFL. The Lions probably won’t be picking high enough for Okudah, but the others are worth consideration for Detroit. Other corners the Lions could consider on Day 2 include Utah’s Jaylon Johnson, LSU’s Kristian Fulton, Virginia’s Bryce Hall and Clemson’s A.J. Terrell.

On the other side of the ball, Detroit could do more work on the offensive line. Left tackle Taylor Decker has dealt with injuries and will be in the final year of his contract in 2020. If the Lions draft a tackle, he could start out at guard and then replace Decker. Georgia’s Andrew Thomas or USC’s Austin Jackson would be great picks in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The Lions probably won’t be picking high enough for Thomas, or even Jackson for that matter, but if they are, either would be an excellent choice. If they miss out on Thomas or Jackson, there could be some other quality picks to consider at tackle, including Washington’s Trey Adams, Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, Texas’ Sam Cosmi or Auburn’s Prince Tega Wanogho. Adams has franchise left tackle talent, but has had a ton of injuries in college, presenting a serious medical red flag. Wirfs could be limited to right tackle and more of a late first-rounder. Cosmi and Wanogho each have lot of athletic upside to be starting left tackle, but both need development. Thus, Cosmi and Wanogho could be late first- or early second-round picks.

The Lions have a window to make a run in the NFC with Stafford in his early 30s, but they have to build up a championship roster around him. Improving their defense is the most important issue to fix to have any hopes of getting a Super Bowl Championship during Stafford’s career.

Minnesota Vikings:
The Vikings won on Thursday night to keep within striking distance of Green Bay and maintain their status as a leading contender for a wild-card spot, but whether Minnesota can make a run at the Super Bowl depends on Kirk Cousins playing well enough to beat the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson in the postseason. This is big year for Cousins, head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman. If Cousins doesn’t play well in the second half of the year and postseason, the Vikings will have to consider finding a new quarterback.

Cousins has played well against average and bad opponents for the most part, but he has struggled to beat good teams throughout his pro career. If that doesn’t change this season, the Vikings could start thinking of the future as Cousins will be in the last year of his contract in 2020. Minnesota won’t be picking high enough for Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon’s Justin Herbert, but the organiztion could have a shot at some other quarterbacks like Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Washington’s Jacob Eason and Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond. Those three could all enter the 2020 NFL Draft or all three could decide to return to school. From a developmental standpoint, it would make sense for the Vikings to draft a quarterback in 2020 and then turn to him in 2021 after Cousins’ contract expires. However, I think it probably is more likely that Spielman will build around Cousins for one more season before potentially finding a new starter in 2021.

In my latest mock 2020 NFL Draft, I have the Vikings taking South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw, and he would be a great fit for them. He could be an interior pass rusher and help collapse the pocket to prevent quarterbacks from stepping up as they try to avoid Minnesota’s potent edge rushers. Alabama’s Raekwon Davis is more of a run stuffer, but he is a good player who would be a worthy candidate in the first round. Florida State’s Marvin Wilson could also be in play late in the first round. On Day 2, Minnesota could consider an interior rusher and disruptor in N.C. State’s Larrell Murchison. Team sources say that Murchison is a spark plug defensive tackle to rotate into the game for a 4-3 defense as a speed rusher. He could be a contributor as a situational pass-rusher.

Another potential need on the roster is cornerback, which will probably disappoint Vikings fans who have grown tired of the front office constantly using first- and second-round picks on the position. Xavier Rhodes is set as Minnesota’s No. 1 corner, but Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander are entering free agency. Both of them were disappointments in Minnesota, so they could be allowed to leave in free agency, which would require the team to find replacements. The Vikings won’t be picking high enough for Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah, but they might have a shot at Alabama’s Trevon Diggs, Stanford’s Paulson Adebo or Florida’s C.J. Henderson. Other corners the team could consider on Day 2 during the 2020 NFL Draft include Utah’s Jaylon Johnson, LSU’s Kristian Fulton, Virginia’s Bryce Hall and Clemson’s A.J. Terrell.

The Vikings have the talent on both sides of the ball to be among the top teams in the NFC, but it doesn’t look like they have the quarterback play to put them over the top. Hence, nailing picks in the 2020 NFL Draft is vital for Minnesota to be a team that can win a championship despite not having an elite quarterback.

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