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.
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Race for the No. 1 Pick:
New York Jets:
The Jets are 0-4 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 Rams dropped the Giants to 0-4, and New York has been sleepwalking the past few weeks. The Giants struggle to rush the passer, lack receiving weapons for Daniel Jones, and have Saquon Barkley is out for the year. It looks like it will be a long season for the Giants. If they land the No. 1-overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, it would make sense to select Trevor Lawrence and trade Daniel Jones.
The Dolphins are a young and improving team that does not look like real contender for the No. 1-overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Miami, however, is in possession of both the first- and second-round picks of the Texans, who are 0-4 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 for Miami, but right now, the Dolphins are a contender.
Atlanta takes on the undefeated Packers later tonight. The Falcons have lost some close games in 2021 to start the season 0-3. While Atlanta is off to a rough start, the team has 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 of the 2021 NFL Draft, it would make sense for them to draft Trevor Lawrence and trade away Matt Ryan because of his age. If Atlanta lands a top-10 pick, it would make sense for the Falcons to fire Thomas Dimitroff and bring in a new general manager. Dimitroff has been in charge for 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:
Buffalo Bills director of player personnel Dan Morgan
Buffalo Bills director of college scouting Terrance Gray
Buffalo Bills assistant college scouting director Lake Dawson
Indianapolis Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown
Las Vegas Raiders senior executive DuJuan Daniels
Tennessee Titans director of pro scouting Brian Gardner
San Francisco 49ers director of pro personnel Ran Carthon
Pittsburgh Steelers pro scouting coordinator Brandon Hunt
Miami Dolphins assistant general manager Marvin Allen
Washington director of pro scouting Eric Stokes
Seattle Seahawks executive Alonzo Highsmith
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.
Cleveland Browns: Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
The Browns won a shootout in Dallas, thanks in part to Odell Beckham Jr. having a monster game, lighting up the Cowboys defense. Cleveland's defense almost blew a huge lead, as Dak Prescott ripped the ball through the air in the fourth quarter. The Browns are without rookie safety Grant Delpit this year, but they need more coverage upgrades and a free safety who can help lock down the back end.
Holland (6-1, 200) was a playmaker for the Ducks over 2018 and 2019, putting together fabulous ball production. As a freshman, he had 42 tackles with five interceptions and eight passes broken up. In 2019, he had 66 tackles with four interceptions and four passes batted.
Holland's instincts and ball skills have made him a dangerous threat to snatch interceptions and break up passes downfield. He could stand to get stronger to tackle in the NFL, but he had respectable tackle totals over his freshman and sophomore seasons. If Holland can add weight before pre-draft workouts and maintain his speed, it could help him for the 2021 NFL Draft. Holland would be a good scheme fit for Cleveland.
Minnesota Vikings: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
The Vikings held on for their first win of the season after jumping out to a big lead in Houston. Deshaun Watson almost brought the Texans back, but Minnesota had an ace up its sleeve with Bill O'Brien being Houston's head coach. Last offseason, the Vikings started their revamping of the cornerback position with the drafting of Jeff Gladney in the first round, but they could use one more big corner to go with him and Mike Hughes. Here's a large corner who would be a nice scheme fit for Minnesota.
Campbell has played well for Georgia in 2020, and he shut down Seth Williams in the Bulldogs' win over Auburn. In 2019, Campbell recorded 15 tackles and four passes broken up. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder has ability, with excellent size and length. Over the previous two seasons, Campbell was a streaky player with some ups and downs, but showed that he has plenty of upside to develop. The junior looks more disciplined and efficient so far this season. Campbell, Gladney, Mike Hughes, and Cameron Dantzler would give the Vikings a versatile and deep group of young cornerbacks.
Seattle Seahawks: Brenton Cox Jr., OLB, Florida
The Seahawks won on the road in the Miami, but the Seattle defense continues to have some issues defending the pass. Because the Legion of Boom and their defensive front aged out, the Seahawks have been rebuilding their defense on the fly and putting a lot on Russell Wilson to pick up the slack. Bruce Irvin is a short-term contributor, and Seattle could use some young edge-rushing talent.
Cox (6-3, 250) would be a great long-term answer to be the rusher who can handle the duties Seattle has given to Irvin. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Cox is fast off the edge with athleticism and versatility. Thus far in 2020, he has 1.5 sacks and 13 tackles. Cox looks like he is just scratching the surface, and he could be an excellent high-upside addition for Seattle.
New Orleans Saints: Zaven Collins, OLB, Tulsa
The Saints were down, but came roaring back to tame the Lions in Detroit. New Orleans was without some key players, but leaned on its backfield tandem and Drew Brees to make up for missing star receiver Michael Thomas. Matthew Stafford had a quality performance for Detroit, and the Saints continue to need a pass rusher to emerge across from Cam Jordan. Taking Collins late in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft could sense for New Orleans.
Collins is off to an excellent start to the 2020 season with three sacks, an interception and 16 tackles. In 2019, he had 97 tackles with two sacks. He had 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 New Orleans defense.
Cincinnati Bengals: Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
The Bengals got their first win of the season by taking care of business against the Jaguars. Cincinnati's defense has struggled this year, and Sunday afternoon saw Gardner Minshew and D.J. Chark give the Bengals a lot of problems. Next April, the Bengals have to consider upgrading their defensive line, where they having Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins aging out. Adding a young lead rusher is a necessity for Cincinnati defense.
Rousseau (6-6, 260) was one of the best edge defenders in college football during his redshirt freshman season. For his breakout 2019, he notched 15.5 sacks with two forced fumbles and 54 tackles. Rousseau has an excellent skill set with upside to improve, but his development could be slowed down by his decision to opt out of the 2020 season. There is no substitute for experience and a year of refining pass-rushing moves, getting off blocks, and improving technique.
Thus, Rousseau will enter the NFL as a 1-year wonder who could require more developmental time. He might still be a top-10 pick, but he will be more raw and underdeveloped compared to other recent high first-round defensive ends like Jadeveon Clowney, Myles Garret, Bradley Chubb and the Bosa brothers.
Los Angeles Rams: Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
The Rams won at home over the Giants, but it was surprising that New York held Los Angeles to only 17 points. A week ago, the same Giants defense was used and abused by the 49ers. The Rams' offense has not been the same since Todd Gurley declined, and part of that decline happened because the offensive line was not as good compared to the first two years under Sean McVay. Over next offseason, Los Angeles should find more interior offensive line talent.
The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Davis has good size to him and was a tough run blocker for the Buckeyes in 2019. He is strong at the point of attack and is a bull in the ground game. For the NFL, he will need to improve his ability to take on speed rushers. He is stout to anchor against bull rushes, but he needs more starting experience to refine his game. Davis could be a road-grading run blocker for the Rams.
Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The Broncos held on in New York to get their first victory of the season after losing some close games in the previous few weeks. Denver could be a team that shows improvement over the course of the season, and the team will get a boost over next few weeks when starting quarterback Drew Lock returns from injury. Denver's defense has been ravaged by injuries, including losing Von Miller and Jurrell Casey for the season. One area the Broncos should continue to look to upgrade at is cornerback. They have lacked a true No. 1 corner since Aqib Talib left the organization.
As a sophomore in 2019, Surtain totaled 42 tackles, 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.
The 6-foot-2, 203-pounder is a big corner who brings speed and instincts to go with his size. Thanks to those things, Surtain has the ability to run with outside receivers downfield and maintain coverage. To go along with height, length, and running well, Surtain has good ball skills. He is not a twitchy, explosive athlete, however, so he is better suited to being an outside corner in the NFL. The blood lines are there as well as Surtain is the son of former Miami Dolphins corner and three-time Pro Bowler Patrick Surtain. Surtain could be a nice addition for Denver the passing-driven AFC West.
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.
The Tennessee Titans became a hot team late last year, almost making a run all the way to the Super Bowl. They were led by a power running game, efficient quarterback play, a tough defense, and a good coaching staff. The Colts have the same ingredients this year, so they could be positioned to get hot late in the season and challenge to deep into the postseason.
Beyond this year, Indianapolis is well-positioned to be among the top teams in the AFC. The organization has a talented young roster, an excellent general manager in Chris Ballard, a great scouting staff led by director of college scouting Morocco Brown, and one of the best head coaches in the NFL with Frank Reich. A few more additions could put the Colts over the top as a Super Bowl contender for many years to come.
Philip Rivers is nearing the end of his great career, so the Colts will have to give a hard look at quarterback prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. The tea, won't be picking high enough to land Clemson's Trevor Lawrence or Ohio State's Justin Fields. Perhaps North Dakota State's Trey Lance will be in range, but even Lance looks more likely to go higher than any draft slot Indianapolis is likely to end up with. The Colts could consider quarterback prospects like Florida's Kyle Trask or Georgia's Jamie Newman late in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Trask would be similar to Rivers in being an accurate pocket passer who lacks mobility and is not a threat with his feet.
In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
, I have the Colts taking Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley. They have a tough front seven, but they could stand to improve their coverage downfield. Farley has an excellent skill set with size and speed to be a high-upside corner for the next level. Other first-round cornerback options include Alabama's Patrick Surtain II, Stanford's Paulson Adebo and Ohio State's Shaun Wade. Wade could be a great fit with his ability to play slot corner or safety.
Safety is another position of potential need for the Colts come April. Malik Hooker's future with the team is a question mark and they could stand to improve the safety play around Hooker if he does get another contract. Some early-round safety options would include Syracuse's Andre Cisco, Pittsburgh's Paris Ford and Oregon's Jevon Holland. There also could be some good safety prospects on the second day of the 2021 NFL Draft, so taking one of the cornerbacks in the first round and a safety on Day 2 could be a good plan for the Colts if they aren't taking a quarterback early.
The Colts have a lot going for them to be among the top teams in the AFC. They have maybe the best offensive line in the NFL, talented young skill position talent, and a tough defensive front seven. Improving the secondary and finding their long-term quarterback are the only positions left to tweak. It Indianapolis fixes those issues, the franchise will be right up there with the Chiefs and Ravens as the top teams in the conference.
New York Jets:
The Jets were supposed to be on the cusp of a breakout season with young quarterback Sam Darnold, an improved offensive line, and development of young players on the defensive side of the ball. However, things seemed to go off the rails for New York with a difficult conclusion to the offseason. Team leader Jamal Adams forced his way off the roster, and the lack of improvement at wide receiver looked problematic for helping Darnold. With a quarter of the season in the books, the Jets look like the worst team in the NFL and to be firmly in rebuilding mode and not close to being a playoff competitor in the near future.
The light at the end of the tunnel would be the Jets landing the No. 1-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. If they were to get that selection, a 1-15, or even 0-16, season would be worth it because it would land Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence is, if not the best, one of the best quarterback prospects over the last decade. His arm strength, accuracy, mobility, size, instincts, and character compile a nearly complete package. If the Jets were to take Lawrence, they could get Darnold a fresh start by trading him for draft picks to help the rebuilding process. Lawrence is the no-brainer No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and it would not make sense to pass on him for a position player and stick with Darnold.
If the Jets win enough games to miss out on Lawrence, but are picking high enough for Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, it would probably make more sense to take Fields and build around him. Darnold has some talent, but he has not developed well enough to pass on elite prospects like Lawrence or Fields.
There are plenty of other needs for New York to address if it doesn't land Lawrence. In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
, I have the Jets taking Washington edge rusher Joe Tryon with their second first-round pick. New York has been lacking edge rush talent for years, and Tryon would help give the defense an upside quarterback hunter. Other options the Jets could consider in the second round include Tulsa's Zaven Collins, Pittsbrgh's Patrick Jones II and perhaps Florida's Brenton Cox.
The Jets have many other needs to address, including adding more wide receiver talent. They badly need a playmaker, and in their favor, the 2021 NFL Draft looks very talented at wide out. Late in the first round and in the second round, they should have some great options. Some of those prospects could include Alabama's Jaylen Waddle, Alabama's DeVonta Smith, Minnesota's Rashad Bateman, Florida State's Tamorrion Terry and Houston's Marques Stevenson.
Other areas of need the organization could consider would include cornerback, safety and running back. New York has been weak at corner for a few seasons. Safety became a potential need after trading away Adams, and Le'Veon Bell probably won't with the Jets for much longer. Thus, they could be better off taking the best player available because they really need to upgrade the talent level all over the roster.
Fortunately for New York, a great era of Jets football could come from this season if they are lucky enough to land Trevor Lawrence. Even if they don't get Lawrence, they will have three picks in the top-40 selections of the 2021 NFL Draft. Thus, a foundation for a future playoff contender could be laid if they draft well next April. Jets general manager Joe Douglas has to nail these picks and the next offseason to make a miserable 2020 season worth it in the long run.
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2022 NFL Mock Draft - Sept. 22
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