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:
New York Jets:
The Jets are 0-3 and have looked like the worst team in the NFL. Already, it looks like the locker room is quitting on head coach Adam Gase, and that could lead to the Jets having an abysmal season that puts them in contention for the No. 1-overall pick. If they land the top pick, they probably would take Trevor Lawrence and look to trade Sam Darnold for draft picks to help build around Lawrence.
New York Giants:
The 49ers dropped the Giants to 0-3, and New York looks very challenged to compete. The Giants struggle to rush the passer, lack receiving weapons for Daniel Jones, and have Saquon Barkley out for the year. It looks like it will be a long season for the Giants. If the Giants land the No. 1-overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, it would make sense to select Trevor Lawrence and trade Daniel Jones.
The Falcons have lost some close games in 2021 to start the season 0-3. While they are off to a rough start, they have too much talent on offense to go 0-16 or 1-15. If the Falcons do lose enough to land the No. 1-overall pick, it would make sense to take Trevor Lawrence and trade away the aging Matt Ryan.
If Atlanta does land a top-10 pick, it would make sense for the organization to fire Thomas Dimitroff and bring in a new general manager. Dimitroff has been there a long time, and the franchise has been on the decline since the 2016 season.
There are some excellent general manager candidates available, including former Texans general manager Rick Smith. Smith had a 10-year stretch in which he did not have a first-round pick go bust while landing J.J. Watt, DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson, Duane Brown, Brian Cushing, Whitney Mercilus, and more. Other good general manager candidates include:
The Broncos are 0-3 and are serious contenders for the No. 1-overall pick due to injuries having destroyed their 2020 season. With Von Miller and Courtland Sutton out for the year, Denver is without two of its best players. If the Broncos land the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, it would make sense for them to take Trevor Lawrence and see if they can trade Drew Lock.
The Vikings let the Titans pull off a comeback win to drop to 0-3 on the season. Given the Minnesota’s roster, it seems very unlikely that the team will lose enough to land the No. 1-overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. If the Vikings did land that pick, they would take Trevor Lawrence and hope someone would be willing to give them a pick for Kirk Cousins.
The Dolphins are a young and improving team, and after their win on Thursday night, they do not look like real contender for the No. 1-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Miami, however, has the first- and second-round picks of the Texans, who are 0-3 to start the season. Given the talent of Deshaun Watson, it does not seem likely that the Texans will land the first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
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.
Chicago Bears: Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
The Bears pulled off a comeback win after Nick Foles replaced Mitch Trubisky. Foles’ heroics bailed out the Chicago defense, which struggled to contain Todd Gurley and Calvin Ridley. That defense has not been the same since losing Adrian Amos in free agency could use a safety upgrade next to Eddie Jackson.
Over his first two seasons in college football, Cisco (6-0, 203) was a pure ball hawk for Syracuse. In 2019, he recorded 65 tackles with five interceptions and five passes broken up. Cisco had a huge 2018 season with seven interceptions, 18 passes broken up, one forced fumble and 60 tackles.
The instinctive safety covers a lot of ground and is a solid run defender while being a dangerous weapon in coverage. He had another interception – 13th career pick – to start out his junior year. Cisco could be a good fit in the Bears’ defense.
New England Patriots: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Patriots cruised over the Raiders by using their running back committee to overwhelm the latter’s vulnerable front seven. Cam Newton played well, but it was clear once again that the Patriots need more playmakers at wide receiver. Assuming Newton comes back in 2021, they could take advantage of his big arm by giving him a speed receiver capable of stretching the field.
Waddle is small receiver, but he is a speedy, dynamic playmaker. Against Missouri, Waddle totaled eight receptions for 134 yards and two scores. He averaged 18.8 yards per catch as a freshman and 17 yards per reception as sophomore year, plus collected 13 touchdowns over that span, as a backup to Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs.
Sources with NFL teams said that they love Waddle’s game-changing speed and playmaking ability, but they want to see Waddle become a more polished receiver rathet than just a gadget player, a la T.Y. Hilton rather than Tavon Austin. The Missouri game was a good start for Waddle, who ran some good routes and showed improved technique with late hands while making more traditional receiver plays. Waddle’s performance is definitely going to help his draft grade.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
The Steelers pulled off the comeback win at home to drop the Texans to 0-3. Pittsburgh’s defense shut out Houston in the second half, overwhelming Bill O’Brien’s incompetent offense. Ben Roethlisberger had a slow start to the game before playing well down the stretch. Roethlisberger is still playing well enough for Pittsburgh to win right now, but he is aging and not the player he used to be. It would make sense for the Steelers to look toward the future and grab an understudy via the 2021 NFL Draft
Trask would be a good fit in the Steelers’ offense, and he got his senior year off to a great start against Ole Miss, completing 30-of-42 passes – 71.4 percent)- for 416 yards with six touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Florida’s offense improved in 2019 when Trask replaced Feleipe Franks. Trask could have beaten out Franks for the job a year earlier if it weren’t for an injury suffered in practice due to a hit from Jabari Zuniga. In 2019, Trask made good decisions as a passer and efficiently distributed the ball to his deep group of receivers. He improved during the course of the season, but he needs to speed up his process, get the ball out faster, and play with more confidence. He completed 67 percent of his passes in 2019 for 2,941 yards with 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Trask (6-5, 239) has a thick build and a powerful arm, plus is an accurate pocket passer. He could be a riser now that he has experience and more tutelage from quarterback expert Dan Mullen. Multiple team sources have compared Trask to Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl champion quarterback Brad Johnson.
Buffalo Bills: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The Bills jumped out to a big lead before their defense allowed the Rams to put up a flurry of points. Luckily for Buffalo, Josh Allen was able to win the game at the end, bailing out his defense. While the Bills have had some injuries, their defense has not been as good as expected this year. They had issues in coverage versus Los Angeles, and they could use a corner upgrade across from Tre’Davious White.
As a sophomore in 2019, Surtain had 42 tackles with two interceptions, three forced fumbles and eight passes broken up. He was the rare freshman defensive back to see the field under Nick Saban, and in 2018, Surtain contributed 28 tackles with an interception and seven passes defended. He moved to the “star” position for 2019, which is a critical nickel corner/safety role in Alabama’s defense. Surtain is a great fit for that position, like Minkah Fitzpatrick was in past years. The 6-foot-2, 203-pounder is a big corner who brings speed and athleticism to go with his size. He is the son of former Miami Dolphins corner and three-time Pro Bowler Patrick Surtain.
Tennessee Titans: Zaven Collins, OLB, Tulsa
The Titans pulled off a comeback win to improve to 3-0 on the season, and late in the game, theit pass rush came alive to help clinch the victory. Prior to late in the fourth quarter, Tennessee was struggling to put heat on Kirk Cousins, and the lack of pass rush has been a weakness for the organization in 2020 and 2019. Adding an edge rusher in the early rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft looks like a necessity for Tennessee.
Collins is off to an excellent start this season, recording three sacks and six tackles so far. He had 97 tackles with two sacks in 2019 after 85 stops and 1.5 sacks in 2018. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Collins has a good skill set for the next level and looks like he has massively improved his pass-rush ability as a junior. Collins could be a good fit as a 3-4 edge rusher in the Titans’ defense.
Carolina Panthers: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Panthers held on to beat the Chargers, ending their 10-game losing streak. With Christian McCaffrey coming back later this season and other good weapons on offense, the Panthers could easily win in the range of three to six games and miss out on the top quarterbacks of the 2021 NFL Draft. If Carolina does miss out, the team still has other needs to fill on its vulnerable defense, including a true replacement for Luke Kuechly. Taking Parsons in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft would give the Panthers be an instant upgrade next to Shaq Thompson.
Parsons collected 109 tackles with five sacks, four forced fumbles and five passes defended in 2019. He was always around the ball and produced some splash plays for Penn State. Parsons broke into the starting lineup as a true freshman in 2018 and showed that he has lot of upside to develop into an intriguing player. On the year, he totaled 83 tackles with five for a loss, 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Parsons (6-3, 245) has good size, speed, and quality instincts. Prior to the Big Ten canceling and then restarting its season, Parsons decided not to play in 2020.
Miami Dolphins: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
The Dolphins dropped the Jaguars on the road on Thursday Night Football, as the Miami offense cruised over the hapless Jacksonville defense. Even though the Dolphins’ defensive line and secondary did good job of limiting the Jaguars’ passing attack sans D.J. Chark, Miami’s linebackers really struggled with rookie running back James Robinson. The Dolphins need to improve the talent in the middle of their defense in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Alabama has been a factory for linebacker talent, and Moses (6-3, 233) will keep that tradition alive for the 2021 NFL Draft, provided he can stay healthy. Team sources were really excited about seeing him in 2019, but a torn ACL in training camp ended his season before it started. Some sources thought that if Moses had entered the 2020 NFL Draft, he still would have been an early-rounder despite the injury. They were very impressed with his performance in 2018 when he recorded 86 tackles, 10 for a loss, 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one pass batted while rotating with other linebackers.
Moses would be a nice fit in Miami next to Raekwon McMillan.
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.
San Francisco 49ers:
Nobody should be surprised if the 49ers have a down 2020 season. There is a long history in the NFL of the team that loses the Super Bowl struggling during the following year. Throughout the summer, I had the 49ers picking late in the top 20 or in the early 20s of the my 2021 NFL Mock Draft, which had San Francisco fans sent me messages in complaint. Still, I had a feeling the 49ers would fall short of their 2019 success. Following the injuries to Nick Bosa and Jimmy Garoppolo, that looks like likely even though the 49ers rolled the inept Giants this past Sunday.
While this season could be lost in terms of competing for a Super Bowl championship, it could end up helping the 49ers in the long run – similarly to the 2018 season in which Garoppolo was injured and they ended up getting the second-overall pick to land Bosa via the 2019 NFL Draft. San Francisco could end up with a top-20 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and if spent well, that choice proves to be a critical piece to the team’s long-term success.
The 49ers really need help in their secondary. Richard Sherman is aging and on IR, while their other cornerbacks are not anything special, and the safety position has been in need of upgrades. In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft, I have the 49ers taking Pittsburgh safety Paris Ford, who would be an excellent addition. While Ford is not big, he is a hard hitter with cover skills and a knack for creating turnovers. Aside from Ford, Syracuse safety Andre Cisco or Oregon safety Jevon Holland would be two other ball hawks who could take advantage of San Francisco’s pass rush. One of those safeties would be a great addition for the 49ers.
The 49ers could also have some good options at cornerback. Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II would be a big corner to replace Sherman in the long run. Ohio State’s Shaun Wade would be an excellent candidate as well. Wade can play slot corner or safety, and perhaps outside corner depending on how he plays this season. Other first-round cornerbacks to consider include Stanford’s Paulson Adebo and Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley.
A good plan for San Francisco could be to take a top safety in the first round and then draft a cornerback in Round 2. Some good second-round corners include South Carolina’s Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn, Georgia’s Tyson Campbell and Alabama’s Josh Jobe.
The 49ers had some bad luck hit their 2020 season in the opening month, but if they have another good draft to build up their secondary, they could be right back in the elite of the NFC in 2021 and competing for a Super Bowl championship for many years to come.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are never going to be among the elite teams in the AFC as long as Dave Caldwell is their general manager. Thanks to Caldwell’s terrible drafting, the Jaguars are in rebuilding mode. Caldwell blew top-five picks on Luke Joeckel (2013), Blake Bortles (2014) and Dante Fowler (2015). Joeckel and Bortles were so bad, they are out of the NFL already.
Jacksonville is paying the price for those blown picks right nowm and to make matters worse, the Jaguars passed on Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson because they made the mistake of drafting Bortles. Caldwell’s terrible drafting gave proof how he is one of the worst general managers in the NFL and how one draft mistake leads to another.
To make matters even worse for the future of the Jaguars, sources told me the night before the 2020 NFL Draft that the Raiders offered the 19th pick for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Caldwell said no because he wanted pick No. 12. The deal fell apart, but Caldwell traded away Ngakoue for a second-round pick just a few months later. This level of incompetence is astounding. The Jaguars need to fire Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone to bring some competent leadership to the franchise. Scroll up to my Falcons writeup for good general manager candidates.
Just three games into the season is too early to render judgement on second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew. He has some passing ability, but also has some physical limitations. If the Jaguars land the first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, they should definitely take Trevor Lawrence. If they are in the top five and Ohio State’s Justin Fields is available, they should take Fields and trade Minshew for a second-day pick. However, I think the Jagaurs will win enough that they will miss out on both Lawrence and Fields.
If the Jaguars aren’t taking a quarterback in the first round, they should improve their talent at the point of attack with an offensive or defensive lineman. Left tackle Cam Robinson is a free agent after this season, and if the Jaguars go in another direction, they could target a true franchise left tackle with Oregon’s Penei Sewell. Other left tackle options include Texas’ Sam Cosmi, Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood and Stanford’s Walker Little. Those three might be better suited for a pick in the No. 10-25 range. In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft, I have the Jaguars taking Michigan right tackle Jalen Mayfield with their second first-round pick – from the Rams in the Jalen Ramsey trade. On Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft, Jacksonville could consider linemen like Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg and Oklahoma State’s Tevin Jenkins.
Defensively, the Jaguars need a lot of help, as Tennessee and Miami had no problems putting points on their weak defense. If they have a top-10 pick, they could target a defensive tackle beacuse Calais Campbell was traded away and Taven Bryan has been another first-round disappointment. Alabama’s Christian Barmore could be a dangerous interior pass rusher to pair with Josh Allen. Barmore might be an ideal first-round pick for Jacksonville. However, Barmore might not get to the organization’s first pick.
In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft, I have the Jaguars taking Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade, who could give them a good tandem with C.J. Henderson. Jacksonville’s secondary is awful outside of Henderson, and Wade possesses the uncommon versatiloty to play corner or safety. The safety position also is a big need for the Jaguars, so they could consider a first-round safety prospect like Syracuse’s Andre Cisco, Oregon’s Jevon Holland or Pittsburgh’s Paris Ford.
The Jaguars have two first-round picks and two second-round picks, so if they hire a competent general manger before the 2021 NFL Draft, that new hire could lay the foundation for the team to break the cycle of constantly picking high in first round. Regime change is the first step to turning the Jaguars into a winner.
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