Monday Morning Draft – Week 9

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:

Cincinnati Bengals:
The 0-7 Bengals were on a bye, but with the Dolphins winning, Cincinnati is now in pole position to land the No. 1-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. 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.

Miami Dolphins:
Miami has come close to a few wins this season, and on Sunday, the team avoided the 0-16 season with a win over the Jets and former head coach Adam Gase.

The Dolphins went into rebuilding mode after firing Gase. Miami accelerated that effort with a bunch of trades, including ripping off the Texans for three premium draft picks for Laremy Tunsil and getting a first-rounder from Pittsburgh for Minkah Fitzpatrick. 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. Even if Miami doesn’t lad the No. 1-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, they could be in position for either Oregon’s Justin Herbert or Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. If don’t have one of the top-two picks, Miami has the ammo to move up for a quarterback.

New York Jets:
The Jets lost to Miami in embarrassing fashion and look like they are in free-fall mode. If New York lands the No. 1-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the organiztion could look to trade down to land a bounty of picks to surround Sam Darnold with some receiving and blocking talent.

Washington Redskins:
The Redskins are in rebuilding mode and fell to 1-8 with a loss at Buffalo. Washington already fired head coach Jay Gruden, but the team has had some good drafts to form a core for the future with Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Dwayne Haskins, Montez Sweat and Terry McLaurin. Thus, it would be a mistake to fire the organization’s roster-building brain trust of Bruce Allen, Doug Williams and Kyle Smith. If the Redskins land the No. 1-overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, they could trade down for a huge bundle of picks to build around Haskins.

Atlanta Falcons:
The Falcons were on bye this week and saw their draft hopes improve with the Dolphins getting their first win of the season. Matt Ryan being injured will hurt Atlanta’s ability to get some wins down the stretch. The Falcons are weak on the offensive and defensive lines, so this looks like it will be a long year for the team.

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.

Oakland Raiders: Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty
The Raiders were able to hold onto a win over Detroit, with Derek Carr outplaying Matthew Stafford to win a shootout in Oakland. Oakland is a quickly improving team and has two first-round picks and three third-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft to continue reshaping the roster. Folllowing Antonio Brown flaming out, the Raiders could still use a No. 1 receiver for Jon Gruden’s offense, and it would make sense to add one who has mismatch size to help Gruden’s West Coast offense. With the Raiders’ first choice in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, they could target a difference-maker for their defense, and with the second one, this could be a great fit as their No. 1 wideout.

This season, Gandy-Golden has 54 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven 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.

Denver Broncos: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Broncos got a win at home over Cleveland despite not establishing a consistent passing or rushing attack. Phillip Lindsay had only nine carries, and Denver only attempted 20 passes while getting a 24-19 victory. The Broncos could use more talent on their offensive line to improve their pass protection and ability to run the ball. If they land Thomas, they could move Garrett Bolles inside to guard.

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 Broncos would be very fortunate if they could land him in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Kansas City Chiefs: Terrell Lewis, DE, Alabama
The Chiefs squeaked out a win at home over Minnesota, and winning with a backup quarterback is difficult to do in the NFL. Kansas City’s defense had only sack against Minnesota and could still use more pass rush talent for its revamped defense. An edge rusher to go across from Frank Clark would make sense for the Chiefs.

Lewis has 20 tackles, six sacks and two passes batted thus far this year. He has been a dynamic edge rusher, showing speed, power, length, and some moves. Lewis was playing well in the 2017 season opener before sustaining an injury that cost him most of the season. He totaled just 16 tackles with a sack on the year, but scouts who watched 2018 spring football were raving about him. Sources believe Lewis has a ton of potential. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in the summer of 2018, so he missed the 2018 season.

The edge defender, formerly known as Terrell Hall, developed behind the scenes for Alabama in 2016, but he could be poised for a breakout year now that he is healthy. Scouts have told me that the 6-foot-5, 247-pounder is big and quick, plus possesses surprising change-of-direction skills. They said that Lewis has a great build and is dripping with upside.

Miami Dolphins: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The Dolphins may not land Tua Tagovailoa in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, but Herbert could be their future franchise quarterback. If they have the No. 2 pick or move up from a lower spot, Herbert would be an upgrade for Miami and a worthy franchise quarterback to build around.

Herbert has completed 69 percent of his passes this year for 2,329 yards with 24 touchdowns and two interceptions. All year, he has showed his powerful arm, mobility, good decision-making, and accuracy. But there are some uneven moments for Herbert when his instincts seem a bit off. Some team sources question his leadership for the next level, as he is a quiet kid that has lived in the same area his entire life. Herbert’s understated personality could be a good thing in Miami because he is known to be a smart kid who is very focused on his studies and football. He might be well suited to handle the starting duties in a city that can distract other players.

Carolina Panthers: Trevon Digs, CB, Alabama
The Panthers’ defense held off Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry thanks to three Titans turnovers. Carolina was fortunate the Titans only gave Henry 13 carries in the game, but the Panthers still had issues in coverage, with Tannehill throwing for 331 yards. Additionally, James Bradberry is entering free agency after this season.

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 Carolina.

Houston Texans: Kenny Willekes, DE, Michigan State
The Texans took care of business in London, shutting down the Jaguars’ offense despite being without star defensive end J.J. Watt. Houston is going to need to add some young pass-rushing talent to its defense in the offseason. Watt is aging and prone to injury; Whitney Mercilus is nearing the end of is contract; and Jadeveon Clowney was traded away. The Texans are going to need to add some young pass-rushers soon.

In 2019, Willekes has 49 tackles, four sacks and a fumble returned for a touchdown. He went under the radar prior to a breakout 2018 season in which he had 78 tackles with 20.5 for a loss, 8.5 sacks, one pass batted and one forced fumble. As a sophomore, Willekes recorded 73 tackles with seven sacks. Willekes looks like more of a 3-4 outside linebacker candidate for the NFL. He is listed at 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, but looks smaller than that. Coming off the edge, Willekes has some quickness with active hands and the ability to use his hands and feet at the same time. It would help him to get stronger for the NFL.

San Francisco 49ers: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
The 49ers got a tough game from the Cardinals, keeping the score close thanks to Kenyan Drake and Andy Isabella providing some big plays against the San Francisco defense. The 49ers have a tough front seven, but they could use more talent in the secondary, especially at safety. Landing a safety like McKinney would be a good value for San Francisco in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

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 49ers to improve their ability to cover in the middle of the field.

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.

Seattle Seahawks:
With Russell Wilson, the Seahawks have one of the true franchise quarterbacks in the NFL who can put his teammates on his back and carry them team to wins on his own. With a quarterback like Wilson, the Seahawks have a window at winning more Super Bowl championships, but in order for that to happen, the Seahawks will need to improve the talent on their defense.

The No. 1 issue for the Seahawks is rebuilding their secondary. That was clear last week when Matt Schaub threw for over 400 yards on them and yesterday when they were incapable of containing Mike Evans and Jameis Winston. The Legion of Boom had a great run, but now Seattle has to find some new defenders to improve the team’s ability to cover downfield. Shaq Griffin is a good corner, but the rest of the secondary has really struggled this season. The Seahawks have a philosophy of not drafting cornerbacks in the first round, and that worked when they landed some steals like Richard Sherman, but the new crop of corners is not nearly as talented. If the Seahawks could land corners like Alabama’s Trevon Diggs, Florida’s C.J. Henderson, or Stanford’s Paulson Adebo, they would have to give serious consideration to breaking their tradition. Those three are all big, fast, long, and have ball skills.Any of them would be great scheme fits to run press man or zone for Seattle.

If Seattle stays stubborn and target cornerbacks on Day 2 during the 2020 NFL Draft, some candidates to consider include Mississippi State’s Cameron Dantzler, Utah’s Jaylon Johnson and Virginia’s Bryce Hall. All three of them fit Seattle’s style of cornerbacks, but they all have limitations.

While this Seattle front office hasn’t drafted cornerbacks in the first round, the organization did take a potential Hall of Famer at safety with Earl Thomas. The Seahawks won’t be picking high enough to land LSU’s Grant Delpit, but they could potentially be in position to land Alabama’s Xavier McKinney. He would be an upgrade for the Seattle defense because he can cover and defend the run. Another safety prospect to consider is Lenoir-Rhyne’s Kyle Dugger. He has a great skill set and could be a riser in the draft process.

The other area Seattle could address is the defensive line. Jadeveon Clowney has played well for for the Seahawks, but they need more talent around him and the defensive line will be a screaming need if Clowney isn’t re-signed. In my latest mock 2020 NFL Draft, I have the Seahawks taking Alabama’s Raekwon Davis, as he could give them some size and power at the point of attack. South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw would be a great fit as well because he offers interior pass-rush potential.

The Seahawks also could consider adding more talent to their offensive line to help protect Wilson. The Seattle line is improved over where it was a few years ago, but it still could stand to improve.

The defensive issues might keep Seattle from getting to the Super Bowl this season, but Seattle still has a Super Bowl window with Wilson in the prime of his career. The Seahawks just need to rebuild their secondary and improve their pass rush and Wilson could be hoisting a Lombardi Trophy once again.

Arizona Cardinals:
The Cardinals gave the undefeated 49ers a tough contest on Thursday night football, but the Cardinals came up short as they aren’t ready to beat an elite NFL team. Kyler Murray is in place as Arizona’s franchise quarterback, but the team has a lot of needs elsewhere on the roster because of some poor drafting by general manager Steve Keim. In the 2020 NFL Draft, Arizona can pretty much take best player available regardless of position with the exception of quarterback and running back.

In my latest mock 2020 NFL Draft, I have the Cardinals taking a successor to future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald in Colorado’s Laviska Shenault. Arizona drafted some young receivers last April, but they are better fits to be future No. 2 and 3 receivers. Kyler Murray is going to need a true No. 1, and the 2020 NFL Draft looks very strong at wideout. The Cardinals probably won’t be picking high enough to land Jerry Jeudy, but there are other options to consider like Shenault, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden, LSU’s Justin Jefferson and TCU’s Jalen Reagor. Some of those receivers could be in play for the Cardinals’ second-round pick, and there could be other good options in the second round, including Clemson’s Tee Higgins and Florida State’s Tamorrion Terry.

Another route the Cardinals could go in the first round would be to add offensive line help. Georgia’s Andrew Thomas or USC’s Austin Jackson would be good choices as long-term left tackles to protect Murray. If Arizona drafts one of them, the tea, could move D.J. Humphries to right tackle or guard, if he is re-signed.

Another area that could use a difference-maker is the defensive line. The Cardinals have not truly replaced Calais Campbell because Robert Nkemdiche was a bust of a first-round pick. In the first round they could target Auburn’s Derrick Brown as a dominating presence for their defensive line. Other options to consider would be Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos, Alabama’s Raekwon Davis and Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa.

The Cardinals also could stand to add more talent to the inside of their offensive line, defensive line, and secondary. Arizona has a lot of needs to fill and is in the toughest division in football, with the 49ers, the Seahawks and the Rams all positioned to be playoff competitors for many years to come. In order to narrow the talent gap, Arizona should draft the best player available regardless of position, excepting a quarterback or a running back. Finding a better general manager to make the picks would be a great first step toward rebuilding the franchise.

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