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 Dolphins dropped the Jets in convincing fashion, and having Joe Flacco in the lineup is helping the Jets to land the No. 1-overall pick. The Jets are 0-6 and have looked like the worst team in the NFL. Already, it appears 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 should take Trevor Lawrence and look to trade Sam Darnold for draft picks to help build around Lawrence.
New York Giants:
The Giants beat the Redskins to get their first win of the season. The Giants fall behind the Jets for the No. 1 pick with the win, but there are still 10 games for that to change and the Giants remain a top contender for the first pick. 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 pick, it would make sense to take Trevor Lawrence and trade Daniel Jones.
Under interim head coach Raheem Morris, the Falcons cruised over the Vikings to their first win of the season. Atlanta lost some close games in 2021, but is still 1-5 this season. While the Falcons are off to a rough start, they have too much talent on offense to go 1-15. Additionally, the players love Morris and will play hard for him in hopes that he gets to remain the head coach.
If the Falcons do lose enough to land the No. 1-overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, it would make sense to take Trevor Lawrence and trade away Matt Ryan - given his age. Atlanta finally fired Thomas Dimitroff and has needed a new general manager for years. Dimitroff was there a long time, the franchise has been on the decline since the 2016 season, and the Falcons have had some bad drafts that have led to them fielding a weak defense for many years.
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.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
The Bucs have two great receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but both have been banged up this year and the team's depth at receiver has been lacking. Tampa Bay also could use a slot receiver weapon, as Tom Brady loves to use his slot receiver in the quick passing game. Adding another weapon would make sense for the Buccaneers to give Brady that slot receiver and another option to help sustain the passing attack if Evans or Godwin suffers injury again.
Toney has been excellent for the Gators so far in 2020 and has 18 receptions for 237 yards and four touchdowns. He has shown tremendous playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. Toney is a big-play threat with game-breaking speed and a strong build capable of breaking tackles. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder is an elusive, versatile athlete who can also contribute some in the ground game. Toney would be an asset in Tampa Bay's offense.
Indianapolis Colts: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
The Colts pulled off a huge comeback win after falling behind the Bengals at home. Philip Rivers made some clutch throws and the Indianapolis defense tightened up after a rough start. Indianapolis had a lot of issues defending against Tee Higgins, A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. It would make sense for the Colts to upgrade their cornerbacks this offseason.
Campbell has played well for Georgia in 2020, and he shut down Seth Williams in Georgia's 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 junior looks more disciplined and efficient in 2020. Campbell would give Indianapolis a big corner who could help take on some of the big wideouts of the AFC.
Tennessee Titans: Brenton Cox Jr., OLB, Florida
The Titans outgunned the Texans thanks to Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill providing fourth-quarter heroics. Those were needed, however, after their defense blew multiple leads to Deshaun Watson. Tennessee has to improve its edge-rush talent over the offseason, as getting after the quarterback is a weakness of the team's defense.
Cox (6-3, 250) could be a good long-term answer to be the rusher across from Harold Landry. 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. Cox looks like he is just scratching the surface, and he could be an excellent high-upside addition for Tennessee. Cox would be an excellent scheme fit for Mike Vrabel's 3-4 defense.
New York Giants: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Giants got their first win of the season despite their offense struggling. Daniel Jones only threw for 112 yards while Devonta Freeman had 61 yards on 18 carries. Darius Slayton was their leading receiver with only two catches for 41 yards. The Giants badly needs some receiving weapons for Jones, and if Chase is available to them in the 2021 NFL Draft,he would be a no-brainer selection.
Chase (6-1, 200) broke out in 2019 as a source of big plays for the LSU offense. On the year, the sophomore averaged 21.2 yards per reception with 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was the No. 1 receiver for the Tigers' offense, showing off game-breaking speed with quality route-running and yards-after-the-catch ability. Chase was the best wide receiver in college football in 2019, and there wasn't a close second. If the Giants have a shot at Chase, they should jump at the opportunity, as he would be a great addition to their offense and make a huge difference for Daniel Jones.
Denver Broncos: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Broncos pulled off a surprising road upset due to their defense doing an excellent job of keeping Cam Newton and the New England offense out of the end zone. While the Broncos came through with some key stops, Cam Newton hurt them on the ground and running back James White had success as a receiver. The Broncos have needed more inside linebacker talent for years, and considering the Chiefs' running backs, Travis Kelce, Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller, they could use an elite linebacker to help defend those weapons.
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.
Detroit Lions: Carlos Basham, DE, Wake Forest
The Lions cruised over the hapless Jaguars, but the Detroit defense struggled later in the second half. Trey Flowers recorded the only sack for Detroit, and clearly the Lions could use more edge-rushing talent across from Flowers.
Basham has 17 tackles and four sacks so far this year. The 6-foot-5, 275-pounder showed a big improvement from his sophomore to junior season, going from 4.5 sacks in 2018 to 11 in 2019. His run defense remained steady, with 64 tackles as a sophomore and 57 as a junior. In his breakout redshirt junior year, Basham also had three forced fumbles and three passes batted.
Basham has good size for the NFL in terms of height and weight, plus he is faster and more athletic than one would expect. With Basham's skill set, he has upside for the next level. He would be a good scheme fit in Detroit and would help the team's run defense with a division that has Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones and David Montgomery.
Atlanta Falcons: Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
The Falcons picked off Kirk Cousins on three occasions, but they notched only sack while going against a weak Minnesota offensive line. The lack of pass rush has been an issue for years following the Falcons blowing first-round picks on the likes of Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley. Atlanta has to get a difference-maker off the edge, and that would make Grady Jarrett and Dante Fowler more dangerous as well.
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 in the 2021 NFL Draft, 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. Still, Rousseau would be an upgrade for Atlanta.
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.
There is little doubt that the Dolphins are on the right track to becoming a playoff contender again. Miami has done a nice job of rebuilding its roster and moving on from the Adam Gase years. General manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores appear to have the Dolphins on the right track, and to make them even better, once again they are loaded with early-round picks to continue their rebuilding process. With two first-round picks and two second-round picks, the Dolphins are in great position to have one of the best young rosters in the NFL. As long as Tua Tagovailoa pans out, Miami has a shot at ascending to being one of the elite teams in the AFC.
Miami made a brilliant move by trading away Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Still to the Texams, ripping off them and Bill O'Brien by landing two first-round picks and a second-round pick for those guys. Not only is Tunsil not worthy of those picks, but Miami could end up getting a high first-round pick with how Houston has looked thus far in 2020. Having five first-round picks in a 2-year span could lead to the Dolphins fielding an incredibly talented roster.
In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
, I have the Dolphins taking Wake Forest defensive end Carlos Basham with their first selection. Miami signed some veteran edge rushers last offseason in Emmanuel Ogbah, Kyle Van Noy and Shaq Lawson. But those three are better as complementary rushers, and the Dolphins could use a lead quarterback hunter coming off the edge next to Christian Wilkins. Basham is surprisingly quick and athletic for a large defensive end. He has the flexibility to fit a 3-4 or 4-3, and plays with a tenacity that fits Flores' style. Miami Hurricanes defensive end Gregory Rousseau could be another consideration, but I think the Texans and Dolphins will probably win enough games where Rousseau won't get to either's first selection. Basham would be a great fit though, and considering he is a 3-year starter and Rousseau is a 1-year wonder, Basham could be the safer pick of the two.
I have the Dolphins taking Syracuse safety Andre Cisco with their second selection. They could use a difference maker at safety after moving on from veteran Reshad Jones. Miami can do better than Eric Rowe and Bobby McCain, so taking a ball hawk like Cisco could really improve the production of the team's safeties. Two other safety prospects to consider would include Pittburgh's Paris Ford or Oregon's Jevon Holland.
Offensively, the Dolphins could consider adding more playmakers for Tagovailoa. Miami could use a feature running back, but Clemson's Travis Etienne may be the only one worthy of first-round consideration in the 2021 NFL Draft. It might make more sense to target a running back like Alabama's Najee Harris or Memphis' Kenny Gainwell on Day 2.
Wide receiver is another position Miami might consider. DeVante Parker and Preston Williams are good receivers, but adding a third receiver would make the Dolphins' offense more dynamic and provide more playmaking depth if the group suffers an injury. Reuniting Tagovailoa with Alabama's Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith would be exciting. Waddle is a super explosive playmaker who could be similar to Tyreek Hill in the NFL. Smith is a polished wideout capable of providing big plays downfield or doing the dirty work underneath. He is a pure football player who would fit Flores' style. Other options to consider would include Ohio State's Chris Olave, LSU's Terrace Marshall Jr. and Florida's Kadarius Toney.
Taking a player for each side of the ball could be a good plan for the Dolphins. Because they drafted well in 2020, they could also consider going with the best players available on Day 2 and in the mid-rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft. That would really build up the depth on their roster. If Miami pulls off another good draft to go with some wise free agent signings, the team could really take off as long as Tagovailoa becomes the quarterback the francise drafted him to be. Miami is going to be a fascinating team to watch in the 2021 NFL Draft and for many years to come.
The Chicago Bears are in the playoff race in 2020, but they have had an easy schedule and had some lucky breaks go their way. It would not surprise me if Chicago fades out of the playoff race over the course of the season - I take zero joy in writing that. I was born on the Southside of Chicago, went to college at the University of Chicago, and lived in that city for a lot of my adult life. Walter Payton is my favorite athlete of all time, and I fell in love with football as a kid watching the '85 Bears, so I take no pleasure in stating that I think Chicago is destined for mediocrity under its current regime.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace made one of the worst evaluations and draft picks in NFL history by taking Mitch Trubisky over Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. I know from sources with the Texans that the Texans organization had Trubisky graded behind both Mahomes and Watson. They got the evaluation right, but Pace did not. Additionally, the Bears will be paying the price for that terrible pick for a long time. Thus, the first part of turning Chicago back into a legit Super Bowl contender is firing Pace and hiring a competent general manager - see the list above for a number of general manager candidates.
There are three quarterbacks worthy of being first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State's Justin Fields and North Dakota State's Trey Lance. The Bears have already won too many games to land Lawrence or Fields, and Lance is looking less likely. Thus, Chicago will have to consider other quarterbacks, like Florida's Kyle Trask and Georgia's Jamie Newman. I think Trask has a shot at ending up being a late first-round pick give his phenomenal start to the 2020 season, but he is a statue in the pocket and could end up being a second-rounder. Newman is raw as well, and he could be a risky first-rounder given how he played at Wake Forest in 2019.
The Bears' best option might be trading for a veteran or young starter. Sam Darnold could be available if the Jets get the first pick, ditto for Daniel Jones with the Giants, and Gardner Minshew with the Jaguars. Other veterans like Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford might available depending on where the Falcons and Lions are picking in the 2021 NFL Draft. If the Bears are selecting in the back half of the first round, it might make more sense for them to try to acquire one of those proven veterans since they have a defense that is ready to compete for a championship right now. Perhaps Chicago will stick with Nick Foles, but his limitations and streakiness could bubble up at the wrong times.
In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
, I have the the Bears taking Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis, and they clearly need to improve their offensive line. Pace built a line that is undersized, quick and athletic, but not powerful. The blocker who had legit power was Kyle Long, but he retired. Davis could be a road-grading right guard to replace Long and really improve the Chicago running game. David Montgomery is a mediocre starter for the NFL, but if the Bears had excellent blocking. they could have an effective rushing offense with Montgomery as their lead back.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson is a free agent after this season, and he must be re-signed because he is the best offensive player the Bears have. If Robinson is allowed to leave, that will open a massive hole for a No. 1 receiver. In the middle and back half of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, some wide receiver options for the Bears could include Alabama's Jaylen Waddle, Alabama's Devonta Smith, Ohio State's Chris Olave, LSU's Terrace Marshall Jr. and Florida's Kadarius Toney. Even if Robinson is re-signed, taking another receiver could make sense. Chicago does not have a legit No. 2 receiver capable of being the feature wideout if Robinson gets injured.
The Bears could use help at defensive back. They could use a safety to pair with Eddie Jackson because they have not properly replaced Adrian Amos. Chicago also could consider a third cornerback to go with Kyle Fuller and Jaylon Johnson. The Bears' offense, however, is much more devoid of talent, so they really need to commit top resources to their scoring attack after sinking their last three first-round picks into two linebackers - Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith.
It will be fascinating to see what the Bears do at the quarterback position in 2021. Considering the track record of Ryan Pace, it would be in the team's best interest if a different general manager was making that decision. Just maybe that GM would get it right enough to build an offense capable of getting the defense sufficient support for Chicago to get back to the Super Bowl.
NFL Picks - Nov. 30
2021 NFL Mock Draft - Nov. 25
2022 NFL Mock Draft - Nov. 15
NFL Power Rankings - Nov. 14
Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 9
2020 College Football Recruiting Rankings - April 14
2020 NBA Mock Draft - Sept. 27