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 Cardinals dropped New York in convincing fashion, and having Joe Flacco in the lineup made no difference. The Jets are 0-5 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 New York having an abysmal season that earns them the No. 1-overall pick. If the Jets land the top pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, they probably would take Trevor Lawrence and look to trade Sam Darnold for draft picks to help build around Lawrence.
New York Giants:
The Cowboys dropped the Giants to 0-5, but New York was improved and showed more fight in Dallas. The Giants struggle to rush the passer, lack receiving weapons for Daniel Jones, and Saquon Barkley is out for the year. It looks like it will be a long season for the Giants. If the Giants land the No. 1-overall pickof the 2021 NFL Draft, it would make sense to take Trevor Lawrence and trade Daniel Jones.
Atlanta was soundly defeated by the Panthers six days after being dropped by Green Bay. The Falcons have lost some close games in 2021 to start the season 0-5. 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, it would make sense to take Trevor Lawrence and trade Matt Ryan, given his age. If the Falcons do land a top-10 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, it would make sense for them 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:
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.
Arizona Cardinals: Shaun Wade, S, Ohio State
The Jets were the perfect tonic for the Cardinals to break their losing streak and get back on track in the competitive NFC West. Arizona enjoyed Kyler Murray rebounding and DeAndre Hopkins dominating while the hapless New York offense provided little fight. One issue the Cardinals had problems with was Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (8-116-1), and Arizona's pass coverage has been a weakness all year. The Cardinals need to improve their long-term cover corners around Byron Murphy.
Wade totaled 25 tackles with eight passes broken up, an interception and two sacks in 2019. He made some impressive plays for the Buckeyes and was a bigger presence than the numbers indicate. Wade (6-1, 194) has a good skill set to develop with a ton of upside. He had a strong debut for the Buckeyes in 2018, totaling 31 tackles, three interceptions, seven passes defended and one forced fumble on the year. Even though Wade has the size to line up on the outside, Ohio State played him mostly at slot cornerback in 2018 and 2019, and he did well there while also playing some safety.
With Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette having moved on to the NFL, Wade moved to the outside in 2020, and it would help his draft grade if he plays well there, as it would demonstrate the versatility to be effective at numerous spots in coverage.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
The Steelers' defense came up with some clutch stops while Chase Claypool dominated Philadelphia with an Al Bundy-style four-touchdown performance. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, could not stop Travis Fulgham (10-152-1), who made a lot of big plays in the second half to help the Eagles almost pull off a comeback after falling behind by 17 points. Joe Haden made a key breakup late in the game, but the Steelers could use more cornerback talent to go with him.
Campbell has played well for Georgia in 2020, including shutting down Seth Williams in the Bulldogs' win over Auburn. In 2019, Campbell had 15 tackles with four passes broken up. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder has ability, with excellent size and length. Over 2019 and 2018, Campbell was a streaky player with some ups and downs, but showed that he has plenty of upside to develop. The juniot looks more disciplined and efficient in 2020. Campbell would give Pittsburgh a big corner who could be helpful taking on some of the big wide outs in the AFC North.
Baltimore Ravens: Brenton Cox Jr., OLB, Florida
The Ravens rolled the Bengals by 24 and amassed a shocking amount of sack production from their secondary. Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, Chuck Clark and Deshon Elliott all sacked Joe Burrow, taking advantage of a terrible Cincinnati offensive line. Next offseason, Baltimore could use more edge rush talent so the team does not have to blitz as often to generate a pass rush.
Cox (6-3, 250) would be a great long-term answer to be the rusher across from Matt Judon. 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 17 tackles in his first season with Florida. Cox looks like he is just scratching the surface, and he could be an excellent high upside addition for Baltimore.
Las Vegas Raiders: Zaven Collins, OLB, Tulsa
The consensus thought was that the defending Super Bowl Champion Chiefs were going to roll the Raiders this week, but Las Vegas took it to Kansas City. The Raiders' offense was superb and their defense was dominant in the second half. Las Vegas has gotten better defensively in the back seven, but the roster could use another pass rusher to help the team get after the quarterback.
Collins is off to an excellent start to the 2020 season, recording three sacks, an interception and 16 tackles. In 2019, he had 97 tackles with two sacks. In 2018, he had 85 stops and 1.5 sacks. 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 an edge rusher in the Las Vegas defense.
Dallas Cowboys: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
The Cowboys' defense has struggled all year, which continued to be the case against the Giants. New York moved the ball up and down the field on the inept Dallas defense, and once again it was up to the Cowboys' offense to win a shootout. Dallas lost Gerald McCoy in the preseason, and the team needs an inside pass rusher to go next to Demarcus Lawrence. Taking the best defensive player regardless of position could make sense for Dallas in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Barmore has an excellent skill set, so he could easily be a high riser during the course of the 2020 season. Barmore flashed ability as part of Alabama's rotation in 2019, recording 26 tackles and two sacks. He showed real interior pass-rush potential with upside to develop more ability to get after the quarterback. It was only his redshirt freshman season, so he could easily be primed to break out in 2020 or 2021. Some team sources are high on him, while others want to see him become a more well-rounded player and a better run defender before they project him to be a high first-rounder.
The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Barmore has good size with length at the point of attack to go along with quickness and athleticism. He could be the next Alabama interior lineman who becomes an early-round prospect similar to Quinnen Williams, Da'Ron Payne, Jonathan Allen and Raekwon Davis - among others.
Houston Texans: Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida
The Texans were a team reborn after firing Bill O'Brien, the worst head coach and general manager in the NFL. Unfortunately, Houston is going to be paying the price for O'Brien's failures for many years to come. Not only is the organization missing DeAndre Hopkins, Jadeveon Clowney and D.J. Reader, but the team does not have first- or second-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. In the third round, the Texans could target a run-stuffing nose tackle who would help their weak run defense and give them a proper replacement for Reader.
The 6-foot-5, 340-pound Slaton is a load at the point of attack with massive size to hold his ground and plug up rushing lanes. He has surprising athleticism and quickness in his big body and is able to create more push into the backfield than most nose tackles. Slaton had 29 tackles and two sacks as a junior and is playing well thus far in 2020. The senior could be a solid value for the Texans in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Chicago Bears: Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
The Bears edged out a narrow win over Tampa Bay on Thursday Night Football thanks to their tough defense taking advantage of a banged-up Buccaneers offense. The defense has carried the Bears to a 4-1 start, and in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Bears must improve their scoring unit. Adding to the offensive line could help them to generate a more consistent rushing attack, plus they need to have a better offensive line that can control the line of scrimmage to make up for not having elite runners in their backfield. A more talented offensive line would also help Chicago's mediocre quarterbacks by giving them more time to throw.
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 Chicago and give the team a true replacement for Kyle Long.
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.
Last April, the Eagles made a one of the worst draft picks in recent memory by taking Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Carson Wentz is young, signed to a reasonable long-term contract, and has already helped produce a Super Bowl championship. The second-round pick used on Hurts could have gone to help the Philadelphia roster around Wentz rather than being used on a player who will never see the field if things go to plan.
Early in 2020, Philadelphia's roster has had some painful weak spots that have contributed to their slow start. The offensive line, cornerbacks, safeties, and atrocious linebackers have hamstrung the team in 2020. The Eagles could have drafted Carolina Panthers young stud linebacker/safety hybrid Jeremy Chinn, but instead they passed on Chinn to have Hurts occupying space on the sideline. In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Eagles have to make some astute picks to upgrade their roster.
Linebacker could be the most pressing of Philadelphia's needs. A dream first-round pick for the organization would be Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, but he may not make it to the team's selection. Alabama's Dylan Moses would be another possible first-round linebacker who could be a plug-and-play upgrade for the Eagles. Both Parsons and Moses are tough defenders who can go sideline-to-sideline in the ground game plus have the athleticism to be solid in coverage in the middle of the field. A good second-day candidate could be Florida's Ventrell Miller.
In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
, I don't have Parsons or Moses getting to the Eagles, but they still improve the middle of their defense with Pittsburgh safety Paris Ford. He is a superb playmaker with excellent instincts, versatility as a run or pass defender, and physicality. Ford would be a quick upgrade to the Eagles safety unit that lost Malcolm Jenkins last offseason. Aside from Ford, there could be good safety prospects in Syracuse's Andre Cisco and Oregon's Jevon Holland.
The Eagles could also consider taking a cornerback to go with Darius Slay. Alabama's Patrick Surtain II, Stanford's Paulson Adebo and Ohio State's Shaun Wade would all be worthy candidates to consider for Philadelphia's first-round pick.
If the Eagles rally to end up picking late in the first round, it would make sense for them to also look hard at some interior offensive line talent. Georgia center/guard Trey Hill and Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis would be nice upgrades to the inside of the line. Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks are aging, plus Brooks will be coming off a serious injury. Adding some more line talent would help Wentz and running back Miles Sanders.
Even though 2020 has gotten off to a rough start, the Eagles have a Super Bowl window with Wentz entering the prime of his career. They need to make better choices in 2021 NFL Draft to help their franchise quarterback and give him support so he can lead them to another Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are staring down a blowup of their roster and a rebuild process. The only question is whether it happens next offseason, in 2022, or maybe, though its a long shot, in 2023. Obviously, the Bucs are in win-now mode with Tom Brady, who is signed for one more season. At that point in his mid-40s, Brady may retire or be forced into retirement, or he could sign with another team. Aside from Brady, the Buccaneers have other key players who are aging or nearing the end of their contracts. Thus for a win-now team like Tampa Bay, there are not short-term holes on the roster, but there are still some long-term needs.
If Brady were to decide to retire after this season, the Buccaneers won't be picking high enough to land the top three quarterback prospects, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Trey Lance. That would leave Tampa Bay having to consider late first-round or second-day quarterback prospects like Florida's Kyle Trask or Georgia's Jamie Newman. If Brady does return for 2021, however, it would make sense for the organization to devote its early-round picks to building up the talent around him and on the defense to shoot for a Super Bowl.
In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
, I have the Bucs taking Clemson running back Travis Etienne, who would be a great fit in Tampa Bay. Etienne is a dynamic back with game-breaking speed and pass-receiving ability. As an outlet receiver for Brady, Etienne would be a dangerous weapon to produce some big plays off of easy completions. Veteran Leonard Fournette was only signed to a 1-year contract, and Ronald Jones is more of a rotational back, so adding a cheap playmaker at the position would make sense for Bucs' first-round pick. There is no doubt that Etienne would be a superb addition. Aside from Etienne, the Bucs could consider other talented running backs like Alabama's Najee Harris or Memphis' Kenny Gainwell. Harris is more of a traditional back like Fournette, while Gainwell's style of play is more similar to Christian McCaffrey's.
Aside from running back, it would make sense for Tampa Bay to add some youth to the defensive line, where Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul are aging out. Even if Suh is brought back for a third season, the Bucs could consider an understudy to rotate with Suh and Vita Vea. First-round defensive tackle options to consider could include Alabama's Christian Barmore, USC's Jay Tufele and Florida State's Marvin Wilson. Barmore could be wishful thinking if he plays up to his potential this season. Along the defensive line, the Bics could edge defenders like Wake Forest's Carlos Basham, Pittsburgh's Patrick Jones II and Washington's Joe Tryon. Similar to Barmore, Basham could be long gone by the time Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht picks.
Aside from the defensive line and running back, Tampa Bay could continue to look for offensive line upgrades. The Bucs also could consider more wide receiver depth in the mid-rounds as it would help the offense to have depth of weapons. The team has felt the pain of injuries to wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin this season.
Five games into his time with the Buccaneers, it looks like Brady has another year in him, so they can use their early-round picks in 2021 and free agent dollars to continue adding talent with hopes of getting their second Lombardi Trophy.
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