Monday Morning Draft - Week 8
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 Chiefs dropped New York, keeping the Jets in line to land the No. 1-overall pick. The Jets are 0-8 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 the Jets having an abysmal season that earns them the No. 1-overall pick. If they land the top pick, they should take Trevor Lawrence and look to trade Sam Darnold for draft picks to help build around Lawrence.
New York Giants:
The Giants play the Bucs tonight, and it would be a shocker if Tampa Bay lost. Losing to the Eagles kept the Giants as a top candidate for the No. 1-overall pick. Thanks to their win over the Redskins, the Giants are behind the Jets for the No. 1 pick, but there is still plenty of games left for that to change, and the Giants do not look capable of winning many more games this season. 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 they land the No. 1-overall pick, it would make sense to take Trevor Lawrence and trade Daniel Jones.
The Dolphins are in the playoff race in the AFC as one of the most improved teams in the NFL, and they also are in the race for the No. 1-overall pick because they have the Texans' first-round pick. Houston was run into the ground under Bill O'Brien, but Deshaun Watson is good enough on his own to win a few games that will keep Miami picking behind at least the Jets with Houston's selection.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will never be among the elite teams of 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 that they are out of the NFL already.
Jacksonville is paying the price for those blown picks right now, and to make matters worse, the Jaguars passed on Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson because they made the mistake of drafting Bortles and sticking with him. 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. After the 2020 season, the Jaguars should find a new regime and a new franchise quarterback to build around.
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:
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.
Kansas City Chiefs: Trey Hill, C/G, Georgia
The Chiefs cruised over the hapless Jets, who provided little fight against the defending Super Bowl champs. Pat Mahomes threw for 400-plus yards and five touchdowns, but Kansas City struggled to get the ground game going becayse Clyde Edwards-Helaire (6-21) and Le'Veon Bell (6-7) were unable to get in any rhythm. The Chiefs could use more talent on the inside of their line to help them open holes at the point of attack.
Hill was phenomenal for Georgia in 2019 and has been playing well in 2020. He is a tough run blocker and shows the ability to handle pass-rushing defensive tackles one on one. Taking on a future top-10 pick in Auburn's Derrick Brown last season, Hill was very impressive, and team sources noted Hill was impossible not to notice while they scouted Andrew Thomas and Solomon Kindley. They feel Hill could be an early-rounder and the top center in his draft class. The 6-foot-4, 330-pounder is big for the position and moves well for a big blocker. He could also move to guard in the NFL.
Cincinnati Bengals: Carlos Basham, DE, Wake Forest
The Bengals pulled off a surprising upset by knocking off the Titans. Cincinnati clearly has a talented young offense that just needs to improve its blocking for Joe Burrow, but the team also needs young defensive line talent. Carlos Dunlap was traded away, and the Bengals need a lead edge rusher to replace him. Taking Basham in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft could be an excellent addition for Cincinnati.
Basham has 26 tackles and five sacks so far in 2020. 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 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 the Bengals' 4-3 defense.
Indianapolis Colts: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
The Colts got an excellent game out of Nyheim Hines while they took care of business in Detroit. The Lions were dealt a blow when Kenny Golladay went out with an injury, but the Colts still had issues stopping Detroit's passing offense. This offseason, Indianapolis could stand to add more cornerback talent to go with Rock Ya-Sin.
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. During the fall of 2019, I reported that team sources said they believed Wade was likely to go back to Ohio State for 2020, which is what happened.
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 could help his draft grade if he plays well there, as it would demonstrate the versatility to be effective at numerous spots in coverage. The versatile Wade would be a good scheme fit in Indianapolis.
Las Vegas Raiders: Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
The Raiders' defense played much better in Cleveland than it did against Tampa Bay a weak earlier. Las Vegas kept the Browns out of the end zone, but was aided by a number of dropped passes. This offseason, the Raiders clearly need to improve their pass-rushing talent because they have struggled to get to the quarterback this season. Paye could make sense for Las Vegas in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Paye has seven tackles and two sacks so far this season. The 6-foot-4, 277-pounder had an impressive junior year as a well-balanced defender at the point of attack. He notched 50 tackles with 6.5 sacks on the year.
With his developed strength, Paye can set the edge and hold his ground. He also shows some pass-rush ability with a quick first-step, speed around the corner, and an improving set of pass-rushing moves. With his size, Paye has the versatility to line up on the inside in the sub package and can play end on base downs. He has the upside to be better as he gains experience as well.
Miami Dolphins: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Dolphins cruised over the Rams because the Miami defense destroyed Jared Goff, forcing turnovers and creating huge point swings that were too much to overcome. Tua Tagovailoa had some nice plays in his first start, but clearly the game was fast for him and he has room for improvement. Giving Tagovailoa more receiving weapons and a familiar face could help him progress in second year as a pro.
In 2020, Smith has 56 catches for 759 yards with eight touchdowns. He put together a tremendous junior season for Alabama, recording 68 receptions for 1,256 yards with 14 touchdowns. Smith showed off excellent hands, route-running, and the ability to pick up yards after the catch. He had 42 catches for 693 yards and six scores in 2018. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder is a pure football player who can overcome being smaller framed. He would be an amazing No. 2 receiver to DeVante Parker.
Minnesota Vikings: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Vikings won in Green Bay thanks to a prolific game from Dalvin Cook. This season, Minnesota has been held back by Kirk Cousins, who is clearly not a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback. The Vikings are on their way to a win total that will keep them from having a shot at Trevor Lawrence and probably Justin Fields as well. That could put them in the market for Trey Lance, who would bring a much more dynamic skill set to the quarterback position for the Vikings.
Lance's one game of the 2020 season was a mixed outing. He missed some throws and made some mistakes, but considering the rust factor, that is somewhat understandable. Lance completed 15-of-30 passes for 149 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries as well.
The 2019 season was Lance's first year of playing time, and he produced a huge year, completing 67 percent of his passes for 2,786 yards with 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Lance is listed at 6-foot-3, 221 pounds, and sources say he has a good skill set of physical tools. In the spring of 2020, scouts told me they needed to see more from Lance and were wary of a 1-year-wonder situation, but North Dakota State had its football season canceled, other than one game, which makes Lance a tougher and more risky evaluation for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Atlanta Falcons: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
The Falcons took care of business in Carolina on Thursday night, cruising to a win over the Panthers. Grady Jarrett had an excellent game for Atlanta, and Dante Fowler flashed at times, but the Falcons clearly need more defensive line talent. Vic Beasley was a bust, and Takk McKinley could be playing elsewhere soon. The Falcons have needed to get bigger and more physical for years by adding to their defense.
Hutchinson has played really well this season, putting pressure on the quarterback and being a superb run defender. He broke out as a sophomore for the Wolverines as a tough defender who flashed pass-rush ability. In 2019, he had 68 tackles with 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Hutchinson has excellent size for the next level such that he could be a base end in a 4-3 or 3-4 five-technique defensive end. Improving his pass-rush production would help his draft stock, but he is a phenomenal run defender who flashes pass-rush ability. He could help Atlanta to be bigger, tougher, and more physical at the point of attack.
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.
Entering the 2020 season, I thought the Broncos were due for a breakout year, but those hopes were dashed when the Broncoes were hit with an insane amount of injuries. Von Miller, Courtland Sutton and Jurell Casey went out for the year, and starting quarterback Drew Lock went out for multiple games. No team in the NFL can overcome losing the best players they have on offense and defense along with other key contributors going down. The Broncos have a lot of young talent on offense, however, and those players are getting valuable learning reps for the team to make a big jump in 2021. Adding another strong draft class could help put the Broncos back into the postseason.
In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft I have the Broncos taking Texas left tackle Sam Cosmi. Current starting left tackle Garett Bolles is in a contract year, but after posting that mock, league sources told me that Bolles was in Denver's long-term plans. On Saturday, we reported that the Broncos have fielded trade offers for Garett Bolles but have them turned them down because they are planning on signing Bolles to a big contract extension. If they can't re-sign Bolles, left tackle will be a big hole to address in the 2021 NFL Draftraft. Aside from Cosmi, the Broncos could consider Alabama's Alex Leatherwood or Oregon's Penei Sewell, provided they are picking high enough. I think Denver will win enough games to miss out on Sewell though.
Right tackle is also a need as Demar Dotson is not a long-term starter for Denver. Michigan's Jalen Mayfield could be an excellent second-round pick - if he gets there. Other right tackle options to consider on Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft include Notre Dame's Liam Eichenberg and Oklahoma State's Teven Jenkins.
The Broncos have a few defensive positions of need to address, particularly linebacker and cornerback. In the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, they could consider linebackers like Penn State's Micah Parsons or Alabama's Dylan Moses. Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah could be a good fit in the second round.
The cornerback position needs some long-term answers and real replacements for Chris Harris and Aqib Talib. Denver's defense has not been the same since those veterans aged out of their prime years. In the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Broncos could have some good options to consider like Alabama's Patrick Surtain II, Ohio State's Shaun Wade and South Carolina's Jaycee Horn. Adding a No. 1 corner could provide the most bang for Denver buck in the first round and help the team compete against the dangerous passing attacks of the AFC West division.
While the Broncos may not return to the playoffs this year, I think they have a lot of good young talent on offense that will lead them into postseason contention in the near future. Adding a few more pieces to the defense and offensive line could help put Denver over the top and put the organization back into Super Bowl contention.
Los Angeles Rams:
It was not surprising that the Rams had a disappointing 2019 season. There is a long history of the team that lost the Super Bowl having a down season in the following year, and the Rams were no exception to that trend. On top of the Super Bowl hangover, they lost offensive line talent in free agency, Todd Gurley was not the same, and the defense lost some talent. Los Angeles is off to a good start in 2020 and looks poised to return to the playoffs this year. The Rams have a few areas to improve to get back to the Super Bowl, and even though they will be without a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft thanks trading for Jalen Ramsey, the Rams should have some options available to them in the second round.
In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft, I have the Rams taking Stanford left tackle Walker Little, as an edge protector would make a lot of sense for Los Angeles. Andrew Whitworth can't play forever, and the Rams need a young left tackle to protect Jared Goff. Other second-round options for a starting tackle could include Notre Dame's Liam Eichenberg and Oklahoma State's Teven Jenkins. Eichenberg or Little could be good fits given their experience on the left side.
Defensively, the Rams could use more edge-rush talent to go around Aaron Donald. Los Angeles lost Dante Fowler in free agency and could use more pass rush to help Donald. In the second round, the Rams could have some good options, including Pittsburgh's Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh's Patrick Jones II, Tulsa's Zaven Collins and Miami's Quincy Roche.
Even though the Rams paid a big price for Ramsey, they could use more cornerback talent around him. There could be some quality cornerback options for them in Round 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft, including Oklahoma State's Rodarius Williams, South Carolina's Israel Mukuamu and Alabama's Josh Jobe. Their 2018 Super Bowl team had good cornerback talent in Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, so getting more corner talent to team with Ramsey would make sense for improving the back end of the Rams' pass defense.
For the Rams to get back to the Super Bowl, they need to build up their offensive line so they can feature a rushing attack that makes Jared Goff's job easier. Goff is the type of quarterback who can win when there is a good team around him, but he is prone to fold when he has to carry the team. He already has gotten to a Super Bowl, so he could be a Joe Flacco- or Eli Manning-caliber championship quarterback. Rebuilding a tough defense and rushing attack are the key ingredients necessary to turn the Rams into a Super Bowl champion.
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