Monday Morning Draft – Week 11

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 Bengals lost on the road to the Raiders and are now 0-10 on the season. However, the silver lining is Cincinnati maintains its 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 as well.

Washington Redskins:
Washington fell to 1-9 with a loss to the Jets. The Redskins already fired head coach Jay Gruden, but they have 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 for Washington to fire its roster-building brain trust of Bruce Allen, Doug Williams and Kyle Smith. If the Redskins land the No. 1-overall pick, they could trade down for a huge bounty of picks to build around Haskins.

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 York Jets: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Jets grabbed their third win of the season, with Sam Darold throwing four touchdown passes at Washington. Darnold has shown progress in his second year in the NFL, and he could make another jump if New York gave him some better receiving options. The Jets were led through the air by tight end Ryan Griffin (5-109-1), and throughout this season, their wide receivers have been underwhelming. Darnold needs a true No. 1 receiver. If the Jets win a few more games, they could easily be picking too low to land Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, but this is a strong receiver class, so they could still get a good receiver a little later.

In 2019, Lamb has 44 receptions for 983 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also has a rushing touchdown. Lamb didn’t get the attention of teammate Hollywood Brown, but Lamb was very good for the Sooners in 2018. On the year, he hauled in 65 receptions for 1,158 yards with 11 touchdowns.

Team sources say that Lamb has the body and physique of a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. They say he has great hands, runs good routes, and is a polished receiver. Lamb makes some ridiculous catches that are reminiscent of DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr. His body control, concentration, and ability to adjust are tremendous, and they put him in position to make a lot of difficult receptions. After the catch, Lamb is very dangerous with the ball in his hands, showing elusiveness and physicality as a runner. NFL evaluators love Lamb’s run-after-the-catch skills, and some compare him to Davante Adams as a prospect entering the NFL. While he has good size, Lamb does not have mismatch speed according to team evaluators, and they’ve said he could be a 4.55 guy in the 40-yard dash. Lamb is not overly fast, but he uses polished footwork and some suddenness to create separation. His route-running generates separation and makes up for the lack of elite speed.

Buffalo Bills: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
The Bills got a huge game from John Brown, with the speedster wideout catching nine passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns against Miami. Aside from Brown, Buffalo’s other receivers have not been consistent producers this season for Josh Allen. Cole Beasley is a solid slot receiver, but the Bills could use one more mismatch wideout to help their young franchise quarterback.

In 2019, Shenault has 45 receptions for 621 yards and three touchdowns. He was one of the top wide receivers of 2018, totaling 86 receptions for 1,011 yards with six touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder is the No. 1 receiver for Steven Montez and has made the Buffaloes quarterback look good at times. He is a dangerous run-after-the-catch receiver who is a physical runner and has quickness in the open field. Shenault is a very tough player, illustrating that by being the short-yardage back for the Buffaloes, notching five rushing touchdowns in 2018.

Cleveland Browns: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Cleveland notched home win over the Steelers, suggesting the Browns have the potential to be a second-half team. This season, the biggest weakness for the Browns has been the offensive line, and in the offseason, they need to find better protection for Baker Mayfield. Between Georgia’s Andrew Thomas or USC’s Austin Jackson, Cleveland might be able to land a franchise left tackle who is a true replacement for Joe Thomas.

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

Indianapolis Colts: Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty
The Colts got back on track by rolling Jacksonville, and they were able to do it despite their receivers struggling against the Jaguars. Indianapolis did not have a wideout total five catches for 40 yards through the air. Clearly, the Colts are missing T.Y. Hilton, but they need to find more weapons for Jacoby Brissett because Hilton is aging and has put a lot of wear-and-tear on his undersized body. Adding a big receiver would make sense for Indianapolis.

This season, Gandy-Golden has 64 receptions for 1,244 yards and eight 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.

Dallas Cowboys: Terrell Lewis, DE, Alabama
The Cowboys held onto an eight-point win over Detroit, though Jeff Driskel was able to do enough to keep the Lions close. Robert Quinn provided a sack, but the veteran is entering free agency after this season and Dallas could use another edge rusher to go across from Demarcus Lawrence. Lewis could be a nice fit for the Cowboys.

Lewis has 30 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.

Minnesota Vikings: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
The Vikings had to mount a furious comeback against the Broncos, almost getting knocked off on the road. This year, the Minnesota secondary has underachieved, and the team has multiple cornerbacks entering free agency after the season. Here’s a corner to go with Xavier Rhodes and give the Vikings more consistent pass coverage.

Adebo has 33 tackles with four interceptions and 10 passes broken up in 2019. Against Northwestern in the 2019 season opener, he picked up where he left off in 2018, recording five tackles with two passes batted and an interception. However, he head an ugly game against Central Florida, getting roasted on some double moves. Adebo is an aggressive corner and will have to learn to play with more discipline. In 2018, he recorded 64 tackles with 20 passes broken up and four interceptions.

Adebo (6-1, 190) is a big corner who has cover skills and a tremendous ability to play the ball. He also has good instincts and technique. While Adebo has been superb for Stanford this season, the question for him will be if he can handle speed receivers at the next level.

Oakland Raiders: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Bengals had some success with Joe Mixon breaking off some chunk runs on the Raiders defense, plus rookie quarterback Ryan Finley had a long run. Linebacker has been a weakness for Oakland over the past few seasons, and the team could use a difference-maker for the middle of the defense. Murray would be a great fit as a Will linebacker in the Raiders’ scheme.

In 2019, Murray has 70 tackles with 2.5 sacks and three passes batted. The 6-foot-2, 243-pounder is fast and physical. He has good instincts and is always around the ball. Murray is a superb run defender with the speed and athleticism to cover. He looks like a future three-down starter in the NFL and reminds me of a young Thomas Davis.

Murray was a tackling machine for the Sooners in 2018 and one of the nation’s leaders in stops, collecting 155. He also added 12.5 tackles for a loss with two passes batted. As a freshman, Murray had 78 tackles with 7.5 for a loss. He is an instinctive linebacker who is all over 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.

Cincinnati Bengals:
Entering the 2019 season, I thought this could be a long year in Cincinnati, and I had the Bengals picking second-overall behind Miami, but they have been the worst team in the NFL this year despite playing some tough football against some good teams in the early going. Cincinnati went into rebuilding mode due to having a talented roster that aged out. Thus, the Bengals enter the 2020 NFL Draft with a lot of needs to fill.

Cincinnati is clearly in rebuilding mode, thus I think it was a wise decision to put in Ryan Finley and find out if he is anything more than a pro backup. The Bengals know that Andy Dalton is a competitive starting quarterback, but in Cincinnati, he hasn’t shown the ability to push them over the top and lead them deep in the postseason. Dalton will probably be playing for a new team next year, and the Bengals will probably take a quarterback in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. If they stay on track to land the No. 1-overall pick, the Bengals should target a franchise quarterback like Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon’s Justin Herbert with the first pick.

After a quarterback in the first round, the Bengals should give that player some help with more wide receiver or offensive line talent. Cincinnati’s 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams went out for the year before it even started, but the team planned on him being the new franchise left tackle. The Bengals could use more offensively one talent as their blocking is terrible. They could consider adding an offensive tackle like Houston’s Josh Jones or Auburn’s Prince Tega Wanogho. That would give them bookend tackles for their new quarterback, or they could target guard help with Georgia’s Solomon Kindley or Oregon’s Shane Lemieux. Any of those four would be nice additions to Cincinnati’ line.

In my latest mock 2020 NFL Draft, I have the Bengals going with a wide receiver in the second round. A.J. Green could leave Cincinnati in free agency, as the veteran might want to sign with a Super Bowl contender to close out his career rather than sign up for a rebuilding process. If Green leaves, the Bengals will need a wideout to go with Tyler Boyd. The 2020 NFL Draft could be very strong at receiver and have some first-round talents slip to Friday night. LSU’s Justin Jefferson, TCU’s Jalen Reagor, Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden, Central Florida’s Gabriel Davis and Florida State’s Tamorrion Terry could go in Round 1 or slip to Round 2. Any of those wide receiers would be nice choices and could end up being steals at the top of the second round.

While this is a rough season for the Bengals, if they end up landing a legit franchise quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft, 2019 could end up being worth it in the long run. This first-round pick is going to have a huge impact on Cincinnati for the next decade or more, so it is critical that the organization get it right in 2020.

Pittsburgh Steelers:
The Steelers made a risky trade earlier this season, dealing their 2020 first-round pick for defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has been very good for the Steelers, but what makes the trade questionable is the age and health of Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh made the deal after Roethlisberger went out for the year with an elbow injury, and over recent years, Roethlisberger has constantly been banged up. He turns 38 before next season, so Pittsburgh does not have a lot of time left with its franchise quarterback. Thus, it was surprising the Steelers would give up a potential top-20 pick and lose an opportunity to draft their quarterback of the future.

Evidently, the Steelers thought Mason Rudolph might be their future starting quarterback to make that trade, but, among other NFL teams and media, thought Rudolph was a backup at best in the NFL. That has been proven true with Rudolph’s struggles this season, and without a first-round pick, it will be difficult for the Steelers to find their future at the position. Even with their first-round pick, the Steelers would not have been picking high enough to land Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon’s Justin Herbert, but other quarterbacks could go in the top-20 range where the Steelers would have likely been selecting. Players available there could include LSU’s Joe Burrow, Georgia’s Jake Fromm and Washington’s Jacob Eason.

The second-day quarterback prospects could have some intriguing players, including Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman, Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond, Colorado’s Steven Montez and Utah State’s Jordan Love. Some or all of them could return to school for next year, but they would be better developmental options than Rudolph. Given the Fitzpatrick trade and the age of Roethlisberger, the Steelers are in win-now mode for 2020, so it could make more sense for them to sign a veteran backup and use their picks on players who could see the field quickly.

In my latest mock 2020 NFL Draft, I have the Steelers taking Michigan State edge rusher Kenny Willekes. Pittsburgh could use more edge rush across from T.J. Watt. Bud Dupree has been playing better in 2019, but he hasn’t been consistent in his career and is entering free agency after the season. Willekes is a hard-charging end with some quickness, strength, and a gritty style of play. He would be a great fit in Pittsburgh. Other potential second-round edge rushers to consider would include Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara, Florida’s Jon Greenard, Florida’s Jabari Zuniga and Notre Dame’s Khalid Kareem.

Other than pass rush, Pittsburgh could consider adding more talent at cornerback. Joe Haden is aging, and the team could use upgrades around him. The organization could look at some second-day cornerbacks like Mississippi State’s Cameron Dantzler, Utah’s Jaylon Johnson, Clemson’s A.J. Terrell and TCU’s Jeff Gladney.

The Steelers have a closing Super Bowl window given the status of Big Ben, so they will need a strong draft to help them get back into being among the elite in the AFC in 2020. The time is now for Pittsburgh.

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