Monday Morning Draft – Week 13

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 avoided a winless season with a convincing victory over the Jets. Cincinnati is now 1-11 on the season. Even with the win, the Bengals have a hold on the No. 1-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft if they lose out in their final four games. The Giants are close on their heels at 2-10, so Cincinnati could lose the top pick with another victory.

Around the league, the Bengals are expected to take their future franchise quarterback of their choice. They have a new regime in place that will look to upgrade over Andy Dalton with the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Bengals still have some good talents on their offense and their defensive line, so they could turn things around quickly if their new quarterback hits the ground running.

New York Giants:
After wins by the Redskins and Dolphins in Week 13, the Giants are the only really threat to get the No. 1 pick over Cincinnati. With a top-two pick, New York could look to trade down with a quarterback-needy team to land a boatload of picks to help rebuild the roster.

If the Giants stay put in at No. 1 or No. 2, they have a few directions they could go. They need an edge rusher, so Ohio State’s Chase Young would be an easy pick. They also need a No. 1 receiver for Daniel Jones, so they could consider Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy. The Giants also could use a left tackle upgrade, so Georgia’s Andrew Thomas would make sense to help protect their investments in Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. However, there could be good offensive tackles and wide receivers at the top of the second round, which would make taking Chase Young more sensible – provided they don’t trade down.

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.

Baltimore Ravens: Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty
Baltimore continue to be the hottest team in the NFL following its a home win over the 49ers. The Ravens continue to see Lamar Jackson lead them to wins over good opponents despite some inconsistency in his receivers. On Sunday, their leading receiver was tight end Mark Andrews with three catches for 50 yards. Baltimore could use a big receiver with a larger catch radius to play across from speedster Hollywood Brown.

This season, Gandy-Golden has 74 receptions for 1,333 yards and nine scores. He 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 Brown.

Green Bay Packers: Solomon Kindley, G, Georgia
The Packers rolled the Giants as Daniel Jones threw three interceptions and Aaron Rodgers tossed four touchdowns to lead Green Bay to a road win. Last April, many expected the Packers to improve their offensive line with early-round additions, but they added more to their defense. Against the Giants, the Green Bay running game was shut down – Aaron Jones (11-18). It would make sense to grab more blocking talent this offseason to protect Rodgers and open holes for Jones.

Kindley is having an excellent 2019 season and has a lot of buzz in the scouting community. Team sources rave about Kindley (6-4, 335), and he could end up being a special guard prospect. Kindley is a big blocker with a thick build, but area scouts are raving about the way Kindley can move and feel his movement skills alone could him a starter in the NFL. On top of Kindley being an easy mover in a big body, he has nastiness to him and really gets after defensive players. Kindley helped pave the way for D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield as Georgia’s starting left guard in 2018. He broke into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman in 2017 and blocked well to help Georgia reach the National Championship. Kindley has talent around him and behind him to be a riser throughout the 2020 NFL Draft process. Late in the first round, Kindley would be a good value for Green Bay.

Miami Dolphins: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
‘ The Dolphins pulled off a shocking upset by beating Philadelphia, with Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeVante Parker leading the way to a 37-31 victory. Miami has really struggled to run the ball all year and trading away Kenyan Drake just further indicated that Miami’s 2020 starting running back is not on the roster. Using one of their first-round picks to land Swift would make a ton of sense for the Dolphins and help their rookie quarterback by giving him a weapon out of the backfield.

Swift has a good build to him with a surprising burst to hit the hole and accelerate downfield. He has a lot of upside and should enter the NFL without much wear-and-tear due to the Georgia backfield platoon. In 2019, Swift has averaged 6.2 yards per carry for 1,203 yards with seven touchdowns. He has 21 receptions for 198 yards and a touchdown as well.

Some team sources are high on Swift and feel he is a better prospect at this point than Nick Chubb, Sony Michel or Josh Jacobs were. It can be hard to get carries at Georgia with the program’s stable of future NFL backs, but Swift (5-9, 215) was so talented, he forced his way onto the field. He flashed as a freshman even though Sony Michel and Nick Chubb got the majority of attempts. Swift averaged 7.6 yards per carry for 618 yards and three touchdowns that season. In 2018, it was Elijah Holyfield who split the touches with Swift. Swift took over as a starter last season and totaled 1,049 yards with an average of 6.4 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns on only 163 carries. The sophomore also contributed well as a receiver, collecting 32 receptions for 297 yards and three touchdowns.

Cincinnati Bengals: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The Bengals welcomed Andy Dalton back to the field in Week 13, and he led Cincinnati to a win without A.J. Green. Auden Tate and Tyler Boyd are nice receivers for the future, but the Bengals could use a potential No. 1 to replace Green as the veteran is entering free agency and it seems unlikely he would want to go through a young quarterback in the final seasons of his NFL career. Green will probably sign with a Super Bowl contender, but the Bengals are fortunate the 2020 NFL Draft is strong at receiver and they could land a really good wideout at the top of the second round.

Jefferson has enjoyed a strong 2019 season, recording 81 catches for 1,092 yards and 13 touchdowns so far. The 6-foot-3, 192-pounder has length to go with some quickness and athleticism. He has enough speed to challenge defenses downfield and is very adept at making receptions over defenders. He is a mismatch problem and dangerous in the red zone. Jefferson has a lot of upside and looks like he is just scratching the surface of his talent. In 2018, he had 54 receptions for 875 yards and six scores. He would be a nice value pick for the Bengals in Round 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Buffalo Bills: Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty
The Bills took care of business with an impressive road win in Dallas on Thanksgiving. Their defense came up with key stops and young quarterback Josh Allen was very efficient to lead the offense. It has been clear this season that the Buffalo receivers are capable, but the team could be one player away from a really dangerous offense. A stud No. 1 receiver with some size could make the Bills very difficult to defend.

This season, Gandy-Golden has 74 receptions for 1,333 yards and nine scores. He 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 trio with John Brown and Cole Beasley.

Chicago Bears: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Bears got a win over the lowly Lions, but Chicago really struggled to cover former Northern Illinois wide receiver Kenny Golladay. This season, one weakness that has emerged for the Bears’ defense is a third corner to go with Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara. Given the injury issues those two have had in their careers, it would make sense for Chicago to draft a young player capable of being the third corner or starter if one of them gets injured again.

Fulton does a good job of running with receivers and preventing separation, but he needs to improve his discipline and also could stand to do a better job of defending the ball on 50-50 plays. His Texas tape from earlier this season looked more like something out of a second-day pick rather than a true first-rounder. Over the last two years, Fulton has two interceptions, so his lack of ball production also hurts his chances of going in Round 1. Thus, Fulton could be a corner who would make sense for one of the Bears’ second-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.

New Orleans Saints: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
A week ago, the Saints were lucky that Panthers kicker Joey Slye missed multiple extra points and a chip shot field goal as the Panthers outplayed them. Kyle Allen and D.J. Moore had a lot of success against the Saints, who were without Marshon Lattimore. New Orleans’ good luck continued against the Falcons with Julio Jones being inactive due to injury. The Saints ended up winning by eight points, but if Jones had played the outcome could have been different. Thus, the Saints could look to upgrade over P.J. Williams in the 2020 NFL Draft.

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.

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.

Dallas Cowboys:
The Cowboys were handled convincingly by the Bills on Thanksgiving, giving the Cowboys their second straight loss to an AFC East team inside of four days. There were high expectations in Dallas to be among the NFC elite in 2019, but clearly the team is not of the same caliber as New Orleans, Green Bay, Minnesota or Seattle. With the huge media spotlight on the Cowboys, their talent was overrated, so their 6-6 record is not surprising.

Dallas has a number of positions it could address in the 2020 NFL Draft and a lot will depend on what happens in free agency. The Cowboys are facing new contracts or losing the likes of quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Amari Cooper and defensive end Robert Quinn. Prescott looks likely to be extended or franchised, while it could be tough to pay both Cooper and Quinn along with signing Prescott. Considering Dallas just dished out big contracts to Ezekiel Elliott, DeMarcus Lawrence, La’el Collins and Jaylon Smith, it will be tough to retain all of these players.

If Cooper is allowed to leave in free agency, that is a bad use of a first-round pick by the front office as they could have held onto the pick to land a long-term wideout. Some receivers who could be in play for Dallas’ first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft include Colorado’s Laviska Shenault, Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden and TCU’s Jalen Reagor. Dallas owner Jerry Jones is pushing to get Cooper re-signed, but the longer it goes without an extension increases the chances of Cooper wanting to see what he could get as an unrestricted free agent and Dallas getting outbid by a team that has more salary cap room.

In my latest mock 2020 NFL Draft, I have the Cowboys taking an end to replace Quinn. They could use a bookend across from Lawrence, and Quinn could get a sizeable contract after having a good season in Dallas. Some defensive end options for Dallas could include Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos or Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa. Either one would fit as a left end to take on right tackles.

On the second day of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cowboys could seek to address whichever of those positions it didn’t deal with in the first round while also looking at more talent and depth in the secondary. Another position to address would be tight end because Jason Witten is not a long-term starter at his age. In the second round, some good value picks for Dallas could include Vanderbilt’s Jared Pinkney or Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam. Either one would be a receiving weapon for Prescott, but Okwuegbunam would not offer much as a blocker for Elliott.

The Cowboys are going to be an interesting team to watch in the offseason with their contract situations. One has to believe Jerry Jones will figure out a way of retaining both Prescott and Cooper, but one thing to consider is if this core is good enough to lead Dallas to championship. With the way the Cowboys have played over the past few years, perhaps Prescott, Elliott, Cooper, the offensive line and the linebackers are just a core group of players that top out as wild-card and playoff losers to more elite teams.

Atlanta Falcons:
The Falcons have had a rough season after big expectations to enter the year for a rebound to the playoffs after a disappointing 2018 season. Atlanta has not been the same team since losing the Super Bowl to New England in February of 2017, and after that loss, Kyle Shanahan left for the head coaching position in San Francisco. There has been a lot of talk that head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff could be fired after the season, but Atlanta still has some great players in Matt Ryan and Julio Jones playing at a high level who could lead the team to a turnaround 2020 if the organization is able to fix a few holes in the roster.

In my latest mock 2020 NFL Draft, I have the Falcons taking Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah, and he would be a great asset in their secondary. Atlanta’s pass defense has had issues all season, and the team could use an upgrade across from Desmond Trufant. Having Okudah and Trufant would be a serious asset for defending the passing attacks in the division because the Falcons see them twice a season. If the Falcons were to trade down with a team moving up for a quarterback, they could consider other cornerbacks like Alabama’s Trevon Diggs, Stanford’s Paulson Adebo or Florida’s C.J. Henderson.

A pass-rusher is another consideration in the first round because Vic Beasley is entering free agency and has had an up-and-down career in Atlanta. The Falcons probably won’t be picking high enough to land Ohio State’s Chase Young, but they could consider edge rushers like Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos or Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa.

In the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Falcons could take advantage of the good running back class. Devonta Freeman could be let go after this season, and he is not the dynamic runner he was during Atlanta’s Super Bowl run. Early in Round 2, the Falcons could land an excellent value to lead their rushing attack for many years to come. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard, Florida State’s Cam Akers, Clemson’s Travis Etienne and Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins would all be potential three-down starters who could really hurt a defense with the attention paid to Atlanta’s receivers.

Not a lot of media attention was paid to the fact the Falcons became the first team in NFL history to have two players making $20 million per year with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Their combined contracts total over $53 million, and the Falcons have other eight figure annual salaries owed to Jake Matthews, Grady Jarrett, Trufant, Alex Mack and Deion Jones. Thus, Atlanta will have to nail the 2020 NFL Draft because money could be limited in free agency. If the Falcons can improve their defense and ability to run the ball in the offseason, they could be back in the postseason mix in 2020.

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