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 lost on the road to the Chargers, and Jacksonville is the only serious threat to snatch the No. 1 pick from Gang Green. The 0-10 Jets have looked like the worst team in the NFL. The lone bright spot of this season is the Jets having a good shot at the No. 1-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. 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.
The Jaguars provided no contest for the undefeated Steelers and 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 Bortles 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
. The Jaguars should fire Caldwell immediately to get their choice of general manger as other teams like the Texans and Falcons could hire a top candidate and fill their opening while Jacksonville wastes time with Caldwell. Adding a new general manager, head coach, and franchise quarterback has to happen in the months to come.
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.
Washington Redskins: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Redskins cruised over the Bengals, with the Washington defense shutting down Cincinnati's offense and allowing only nine points. Alex Smith did not need to do much against the Bengals, throwing for 166 yards, a score and a pick. Terry McLaurin (5-84) led Washington in receiving, but none of the team's other receiver had more than three receptions or 30 yards through the air. With Smith at the helm, it would not be surprising if the Redskins won just enough games down the stretch to miss out on the top quarterback prospects. They could look to add more receiving talent to help Smith in 2021, or perhaps give Dwayne Haskins one more chance to prove he is their future starter. Adding an elite receiver to go with McLaurin is a necessity for the Redskins.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Chase was the best receiver in college football in 2019, dominating the SEC in prolific fashion. The sophomore averaged 21.2 yards per reception with 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns that season. Chase showed off game-breaking speed with quality route-running and yards-after-the-catch ability. Team sources have told me that Chase could be a better version of Amari Cooper in the NFL. Chase would be an excellent first-round pick for the Redskins if they don't take a quarterback.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashad Weaver, DE, Pitt
The Steelers cruised over the Jaguars to stay undefeated in 2020. Pittsburgh's dynamic safety tandem of Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds totaled four interceptions while the defensive front smothered rookie quarterback Jake Luton. This offseason, Bud Dupree might leave in free agency because it could be tough for Pittsburgh to afford extend both Dupree and T.J. Watt. Hence late in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Steelers could look to find a replacement for Dupree to keep their pass rush consistent for years to come.
Weaver is flashing his pre-injury form in 2020 and showing the ability to get steady pressure the quarterback. He has 26 tackles with 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two passes defended thus far and has helped teammate Patrick Jones II produce a good year. Weaver had a strong 2018 season to get on the radar for NFL advance scouts, but his redshirt junior year - 2019 - ended before it started with a season-ending injury suffered in training camp. In 2018, he had 47 tackles with 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and four passes broken up. The 6-foot-5, 270-pounder has good size to go with speed and athleticism. Weaver could be a good value for the Steelers late in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Cleveland Browns: Paris Ford, S, Pittsburgh
The Browns' defense held onto a five-point win over the Eagles, helped by Olivier Vernon's team-leading three sacks. Safety play has been a real weakness for Cleveland this season, although it didn't help that Grant Delpit went down in the preseason. Eagles tight ends Dallas Goedert and Richard Rodgers gave the Browns some problems, and adding a safety like Ford would give the Browns a safety capable of covering tight ends one-on-one. Delpit struggled with that at LSU, and veteran Ronnie Harrison was not that kind of safety at Alabama or Jacksonville.
Ford is a smart, fast, and physical defender who was all over the field for Pittsburgh in 2020 before opting out for the remainder of the season. On the year, he totaled 41 tackles, three passes broken up and three interceptions. 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.
It would help Ford (6-0, 190) to gain some weight for the NFL, but he is a versatile who that can do it all: he can be the deep free safety, cover receivers and tight ends in man, and play strong safety. With Ford's aggressive mentality and infectious passion, he would be a great tone setter on the back end for the Cleveland defense.
Los Angeles Chargers: Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
The Chargers held on to beat the hapless Jets, with Joe Flacco making a few big plays through the air in the second half to keep New York in the game. Los Angeles only had one sack, and the game could have easily ended differently because Flacco missed some open receivers. With Joey Bosa signed to long-term deal and Melvin Ingram aging, the Chargers could use a cheap and talented pass rusher across from Bosa.
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. Taking Rousseau in the first round would give the Chargers a talented duo for many years to come.
Carolina Panthers: Jaycee Horn, WR, South Carolina
Carolina was without starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, star running back Christian McCaffrey, left tackle Russell Okung, and its best cover corner in Donte Jackson. The Panthers still dominated the Lions, however, shutting them out 20-0 for their fourth win of the season. Carolina was fortunate that an illegal formation penalty negated a long touchdown to Marvin Jones that would have gotten Detroit back in the game. Throughout the 2020 season, it has been clear that the Panthers need to upgrade their corners, and the position is a crushing weakness that has to be addressed.
Horn (6-1, 205) is a fluid athlete with speed to run the route and enough size to match up with big receivers. Team sources really like Horn's ability to run the route and prevent separation. He looked very good this year, holding his own against Florida's dynamic receivers and dominating Auburn wide out Seth Williams. Horn opted out of remained of the 2020 season after South Carolina fired head coach Will Muschamp. On the year, Horn collected 16 tackles, two interceptions and six passes defended.
Horn has received good experience and preparation for the next level after being a 3-year start. Being the son of former Saints wide receiver Joe Horn should also help Jaycee Horn make the jump to the NFL.
Houston Texans: Joseph Ossai, OLB, Texas
The Texans pulled off one of the surprising upsets of Week 11 with a home victory over the Patriots. Rookie Jonathan Greenard had a sack for Houston, but one issue that has become apparent this season is that the Texans need more young edge-rushing talent. In the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Houston could look for an in-state product to help give the defense an understudy to Whitney Mercilus.
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 Ossai is a fit for a 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker, and that makes sense because he would be a tweener end/linebacker in a 4-3. The junior is showing improved recognition skills this year and has 45 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and two passes defended. He collected 90 tackles, five sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumbles in 2019, his first year of serious playing time. Ossai displays 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.
Seattle Seahawks: Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami
The Seahawks have tried to find Russell Wilson a receiving weapon at tight end, but the position remains a weakness. Greg Olsen (2-20) didn't do much against Arizona on Thursday Night Football, and Seattle could use a tight end to take advantage of Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf commanding safety help. Jimmy Graham was a disappointment in Seattle, and Olsen is clearly nearing retirement. Taking a tight end on the second day of the 2021 NFL Draft would make sense for the Seahawks.
Jordan hails from "tight end U" and has been a good weapon for Miami in 2020. He has 20 receptions for 264 yards with three touchdowns this season and has produced some big plays for the Hurricanes. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Jordan played well in 2019 (35-495-2) and 2018 (32-287-4). Late in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Jordan could be a good value for Seattle as a plug-and-play starter who is ready to contribute immediately.
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.
Detroit is one of the most interesting to teams to follow right now. Ownership had previously stated the Lions needed to contend for the playoffs this year for general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia to stay in their roles, but the Lions fell to 4-6 on Sunday, getting shut out in embarrassing fashion. The Panthers were without their starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, star running back Christian McCaffrey, left tackle Russell Okung, and their best cornerback in Donte Jackson, but Detroit was no match for them, getting dropped 20-0. It was an embarrassing, ugly, and inexcusable loss for Patricia and Quinn. The Ford family should fire Quinn immediately before the Texans or Falcons hire their new general manager and take a candidate who could interest Detroit.
The Lions have drafted some solid and safe players under Quinn, but he has failed to find elite talent. That is why they have been either mediocre or bad during the prime years of Matthew Stafford's career. Detroit could easily find a better evaluator to be its general manager - check the list above about the Jaguars - and should upgrade from Quinn immediately and from Patricia at the end of the season.
In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
, I have the Lions taking a high=upside edge rusher in Michigan's Kwity Paye. Paye is fast, big and athletic, plus has shown real improvement with his pass-rushing moves in limited action this year. Detroit needs a difference-maker at the point of attack and an edge rusher to go across from Trey Flowers. Depending on where the Lions are picking, other good defensive lineman to consider would include Wake Forest's Carlos Basham, Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and Pittsburgh's Rashad Weaver.
Detroit also could consider a defensive tackle upgrade with an interior pass rusher or a linebacker. Alabama's Christian Barmore would be another good first-round candidate for the Lions. Jarrad Davis has been a disappointment, so the franchise could consider an upgrade like Penn State's Micah Parsons.
Offensively, Detroit needs to re-sign Kenny Golladay even though he has been injured for a lot of 2020. If Golladay leaves in free agency, his departured will open a big hole in the Lions' offense and they would have to consider more receiver talent in the early rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft. Detroit won't be picking high enough for LSU's Ja'Marr Chase, but the organization could look at Alabama's Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith if Golladay is not retained. The 2021 NFL Draft, however, is deep at receiver, so it might make more sense to target a receiver in the Round 2 after taking defensive help in Round 1, but only if Golladay leaves in free agency.
It will be interesting to see if the Ford family follows through on a new regime, and a change in leadership would clearly be in the best interest of the Lions.
Arizona lost on Thursday night to a good Seahawks team, but Cardinals fans have plenty of reasons to be optimistic because the team is vastly improved in its second season with Kyler Murray as the starting quarterback. Arizona is firmly in the playoff race this season, and if the organization drafts well, there is no reason why the team can't be a Super Bowl contender in 2021 and beyond.
The main focus for the Cardinals next offseason is continuing to build up the defense. Arizona has some age at key positions and could stand to improve its ability to stop passing attacks. Adding a pass rusher and coverage talent would make sense as top priorities in the 2021 NFL Draft.
In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
, I have the Cardinals taking Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, who would be a great understudy for Patrick Peterson. Farley is big, fast and athletic with a ton of upside. He has had some injuries, and while his 2018 season was not good, he played very well in 2019 before deciding to sit this season out. Thus, Farley is a raw player who could be a good third corner to rotate in the short term and eventually be the replacement for Peterson as the Cardinals' No. 1 corner. Arizona likes players with big athletic skill sets and rare ability, so Farley would fit the trend of recent draft picks like Murray, Isaiah Simmons, Haason Reddick, Robert Nkemdice and D.J. Humphries. Other cornerback options for Arizona to consider in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft include South Carolina's Jaycee Horn, Alabama's Patrick Surtain II and Ohio State's Shaun Wade.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals could stand to upgrade their defensive line and edge rushers. Haason Reddick is leading them in sacks, while Chandler Jones recorded just one sack over five games this year before his season-ending surgery. Arizona could consider adding an edge rusher to go across from Jones, and he turns 31 after this season, so getting more young pass-rushing talent would make sense. In the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cardinals could consider Wake Forest's Carlos Basham, Pittsburgh's Rashad Weaver, Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and Michigan's Kwity Paye, depending on where they are picking. Basham and Hutchinson would fit as five-technique rushers, while Paye and Weaver could be standup outside linebackers.
Offensively, Arizona is set thanks to Steve Keim ripping off Bill O'Brien in the DeAndre Hopkins trade, and that could go down as one of the most lop-sided trades in NFL history. Hopkins looks like he is on track for a Hall of Fame-caliber career, so getting him for a second-round pick while dumping a highly paid, injury-prone and declining running back was pure robbery by the Cardinals. In the mid-rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, it would make sense for the Cardinals to continue to build up their offensive line and running back depth. Tackle D.J. Humphries and running back Kenyan Drake have dealth with injuries in their careers, so adding some talent to back them up would make sense.
Arizona is well positioned to become a force in NFC. Building up their defense and improving their ability to defend the pass could put the Cardinals over the top.
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