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 play the Patriots tonight, but New York had a good Sunday with the Giants and Texans getting their second wins of the season. That gives the Jets more cushion, with only the Jaguars a serious threat to snatch the No. 1 pick from Gang Green.
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 New York having an abysmal season that earns the franchise the No.1 overall-pick. If the Jets land the top pick, they should take Trevor Lawrence and look to trade Sam Darnold for draft picks to help build around Lawrence.
Jacksonville lost a winnable game to the Texans by two points, but that's a good thing overall, so the Jaguars remain on the heels of the Jets for the No. 1 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Jacksonville will never be among the elite teams of the AFC as long as Dave Caldwell is the 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 Brotles were so bad, 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:
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.
Tennessee Titans: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Titans jumped out to a lead before Chicago made it close with 17 points in the fourth quarter. In the final frame, Tennessee had some issues with Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and Jimmy Graham. Cornerback has been issue for the Titans over the past few years, and they could use a third corner to go with Adoree' Jackson and Kristian Fulton. Landing Horn late in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft could be a nice value for Tennessee.
While teammate Israel Mukuamu has gotten more media attention, some team sources like Horn more as a prospect for the NFL. They feel that Horn is a more fluid athlete and faster. Those evaluators like Horn's ability to run the route and prevent separation. He has looked very good this year, holding his own against Florida's dynamic receivers and dominating Auburn. In 2020, Horn has 15 tackles, two interceptions and six passes defended.
Horn broke into the starting lineup as a true freshman and showed improvement in his sophomore season. He has quality size to him and has shown a nice ability to break up passes. As a junior and/or senior, Horn (6-1, 205) could help himself to show the ability to turn some pass breakups into interceptions. Jaycee Horn is the son of former Saints wide receiver Joe Horn, so his pedigree could help him to adjust to being a pro.
New York Giants: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Giants got their second win of the season even though their receivers struggled once again. Austin Mack (4-72) led them in receiving, but no other Giant topped 50 yards. Clearly, New York must get more receiving weapons for Jones this offseason.
Chase (6-1, 200) enjoyed a breakout 2019 season and was a source of big plays for the Tigers' 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 that opportunity as he would be a great addition to their offense and make a huge difference for Daniel Jones.
Houston Texans: Joseph Ossai, OLB, Texas
The Texans got their second win of the season thanks to some Rick Smith draft picks, including Deshaun Watson, Will Fuller, J.J. Watt and Zach Cunningham, leading them to a two-point win over Jacksonville. Houston is in rebuilding mode, but is without its first- and second-round picks because of the moronic moves of Bill O'Brien. With a high third-round pick, the Texans could use more young pass-rushing talent as Watt and Whitney Mercilus are aging and declining.
The 6-foot-4, 243-pound Ossai has good speed, athleticism, and functional size to be an edge defender in the NFL. Multiple team sources say that he is a fit for a 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker, and that makes sense as he would be a tweener end/linebacker in a 4-3. The junior seems to be breaking out in the middle of this season, showing improved recognition skills. On the year, he has 45 tackles with four sacks, three forced fumbles, and two passes defended. In 2019, he had 90 tackles with give sacks, two interceptions, and one forced fumbles in his first year of serious playing time. Ossai has an excellent motor and gives relentless effort. He would be a good value for the Texans in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Baltimore Ravens: Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
The Ravens got a much-needed win over a good Colts team, and while Lamar Jackson played better, Baltimore still had issues on offense as the running backs struggled and the tean did not have a single receiver notch five receptions or 50 yards. It all starts up front, and the Ravens have dealt with some injuries to their line. They've also lost some veterans to free agency and retirement in recent years, so adding some young talent up front to help Jackson would make a lot of sense for the Ravens.
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 to improve his pass protection. Davis could be a bulldozer in the ground game to help the Ravens run the ball as an ideal replacement for Marshall Yanda.
Green Bay Packers: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Packers cruised over the 49ers, with Aaron Rodgers ripping the banged up San Francisco defense. Davante Adams continued his dominant season, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught a pair of scores. Green Bay tried to trade for Will Fuller, and clearly the team has needed a No. 2 receiver to go with Adams for years. Valdes-Scantling has not been consistent enough, and it would make sense to add more receiving talent for Rodgers and eventually Jordan Love. Late in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Smith would be a great pick for Green Bay.
Smith has 56 catches for 759 yards with eight touchdowns in 2020. He put together a tremendous junior season for Alabama, recording 68 receptions for 1,256 yards with 14 touchdowns. He 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 Davante Adams.
Buffalo Bills: Trey Hill, C/G, Georgia
The Bills put together an impressive win over Seattle, with Josh Allen producing a superb game to lead Buffalo over Russell Wilson. While Allen played great, the Bills allowed him to be sacked seven times. Their offensive line really struggled in the ground game as well, with Zack Moss (9-18-1) being their leading rusher despite terrible production. This offseason, it would make sense for Buffalo to upgrade its blocking unit.
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, Hill was very impressive, and team sources have said 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. Hill would be a nice fit in Buffalo to upgrade its run blocking and pass protection.
Miami Dolphins: Paris Ford, S, Pittsburgh
The Dolphins won their fourth straight and are 2-0 with Tua Tagovailoa. Miami (5-3) got an impressive win over a tough Cardinals (5-3) team and was able to outgun their point-machine offense. The Dolphins' defense came up with some timely plays, but Kyler Murray gave them some problems. Clearly, Miami could use a safety upgrade in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Ford is a smart, fast and physical defender who was all over the field for Pittsburgh. He totaled 41 tackles, three passes broken up and three interceptions in 2020 before opting out for the remainder of the season. As a redshirt sophomore, Ford broke out for the Panthers, leading them in tackles with 97 while also showing impressive ball production in the form of three interceptions and 11 passes broken up. He also provided three forced fumbles. Ford (6-0, 190) was all over the field in both phases, and team sources said he really jumped out to them when scouting other players.
Ford can help himsefl with NFL evaluators by putting on some good weight. His aggressive mentality and infectious passion should make him a great fit for Brian Flores, as the coach is fostering a similar attitude acriss the talented young Dolphins.
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, many expected the Vikings to be one of the top teams in the NFC. I also had projected Minnesota to be a playoff team, but after a rough start to the 2020 season, the Vikings look poised to have a mediocre year. The Vikings have enough talent to not be terrible, but they are clearly missing key ingredients to be among the elite in the NFC. Because of their misguided commitment to Kirk Cousins, they are in a difficult position to become a championship team.
The Vikings have already won enough games to definitely miss out on Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields as well. Trading up for either quarterback could be very difficult, and they can't bank on teams picking high in the first round to pass on the top quarterbacks. Minnesota could easily win enough games in the back half of the season to miss out on North Dakota State's Trey Lance as well. Without a second-round pick due to the Yannick Ngakoue trade, the organization may have to consider reaching for a second-day caliber quarterback like BYU's Zach Wilson, Florida's Kyle Trask or Georgia's Jamie Newman. It is more likely, however, the Vikings will stick with Cousins and perhaps bring in some veteran competition. They will have to hope that if they build up a a great roster around him, Cousins could be good enough in the mold of Joe Flacco or Eli Manning. That is a tall order, but Cousins' contract has limited Minnesota's options.
In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
I have the Vikings taking Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore, as they could use some youth on the inside of their defensive line. Barmore is a dangerous interior pass rusher, which is a tough commodity to find.
The Vikings also have had a lot of turnover at the defensive end position, and they could use some young edge rushers for their defense. In the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Minnesota could target some ends like Miami's Gregory Rousseau or Wake Forest's Carlos Basham. It would not be surprising though if both are off the board by the time the Vikings pick. Some other edge rushers to consider in the first round would include Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan's Kwity Paye and Pittsburgh's Rashad Weaver.
The Vikings could use more talent on their offensive line, and that could be in play for their first-round pick. Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell would be a no-brainer, but he also will probably be long gone by the time Minnesota selects. Offensive tackles like Alabama' Alex Leatherwood and Texas' Sam Cosmi would be good scheme fits for Gary Kubiak. Either of them would be a worthy candidate to consider in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
I would bet that most of all, the Vikings will want to trade down and hope to get a second-round pick. Trading their second-rounder for Yannick Ngakoue and then dealing him for a third-round pick was horrible management by the Vikings and hurts them in the future. With a pick in the top half of the second round, Minnesota could have had a really good player fall into its lap - like Dalvin Cook for example. The pressure is on Vikings general manager Rick Spielman as the franchise enters a challenging offseason given its commitment to the albatross of Kirk Cousins.
Kansas City Chiefs:
With Pat Mahomes in Kansas City for a long time to come, the Chiefs have the potential to be a dynasty. They have a real shot at repeating as Super Bowl champions this yearm and given a strong roster around Mahomes, they look to be among the elite teams in the league for a long time. With Andy Reid and Brett Veach, Kansas City is among the best talent-evaluating teams in the NFL, and despite picking late in the first round year after year, one can expect that the franchise will continue to surround Mahomes with excellent talent.
In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
, I have the Chiefs taking Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis, and during Mahomes prime years, it will never be a bad idea to improve the talent protecting him. Kansas City has done a nice job working with some mid- and late-round picks to field a quality line, but a road grader like Davis would help the team to run the ball with Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Another good option late in the first round could be Georgia center Trey Hill. Hill has the size to play guard and is a big center. He could be a versatile addition to the Chiefs' line while improving their ability to run the ball.
Defensively, Veach and Reid have done an excellent job of turning a bad defense from a few years ago into a really tough unit that is talented and versatile. Thanks to good players at each level of the defense, Kansas City is in a nice position where it could go with the best defensive player available regardless of position. A defensive tackle like USC's Jay Tufele would be a nice pick late in Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft to go next to Chris Jones. Tufele would make sense from a salary cap perspective, as he would give Kansas City a cheap 5-year player and first-round talent to go with the highly paid Jones.
Kansas City could also consider an edge rusher to go across from Frank Clark. Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan's Kwity Paye and Pittsburgh's Rashad Weaver could all be good options to consider.
Linebacker could be the weakest position on the Kansas City defense, but Andy Reid has avoided drafting linebackers in the first round. One could be a good fit on Day 2, and there might be some quality options available in the second round. Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Missouri's Nick Bolton could be nice options for the Chiefs. Alabama's Dylan Moses would be a great pick, but if he slides to the second round, that probably means teams are flunking him medically, so he would be a risky selection.
Cornerback is another position the Chiefs could consider late in the first round. Some good options at the position could be Alabama's Patrick Surtain II, South Carolina's Jaycee Horn and Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley.
With the strength of the Chiefs' roster, it would make sense for them to take the best player available regardless of position, except for quarterback and running back. It would not be surprising to see Pat Mahomes lead Kansas City to multiple Super Bowl championships if the organization can conduct a few more good drafts.
NFL Picks - Sept. 19
2022 NFL Mock Draft - Sept. 15
NFL Power Rankings - Sept. 14
Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 8