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:
Seattle cruised over the Jets, keeping them winless and in position to land the No. 1 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. A week ago, the Jets almost had a brush with disaster in almost knocking off the Raiders. New York was up 28-24 late in the fourth quarter, but with just seconds left in the game, Derek Carr dropped in a 46-yard touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs to get Las Vegas the win and keep New York's draft positioning secure.
Jacksonville is the only serious threat to snatch the No. 1 pick away. The 0-13 Jets are the worst team in the NFL and have a roster with a ton of holes. Only four tough opponents remain to keep New York from going 0-16. The locker room looks like it has quit on head coach Adam Gase, and going winless is only redeemed at all by earning 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.
Jacksonville almost upset the Browns two weeks ago before taking the Vikings late into overtime before losing. Fortunately for the Jaguars, they lost to Minnesota and Cleveland, and this week, they were blown out by Tennessee. The Jaguars remain on the heels of the Jets for the No. 1 pick, but New York has a tough remaining schedule, so it would be surprising if the Jets don't go 0-16.
Jacksonville would never be among the elite teams in the AFC as long as Dave Caldwell was their general manager, and he was fired after their loss to the Browns. 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 were both out of the NFL at one point this year - Bortles pops up as a backup from time to time.
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 were wise to fire Caldwell and should have done it months ago. Now at least, they have a shot to get their choice of general manger, but they will have move quickly with the Texans, Falcons and Lions having varying degrees of a head start on the process.
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 good picks. 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: Zaven Collins, OLB, Tulsa
The Titans lost Jadeveon Clowney for the season, and Vic Beasley didn't pan out for them either. Tennessee needs some long-term edge rushers to get after the quarterback, and the team still has not found adequate replacements for Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo.Collins could be a high upside pick late in Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft and is a good scheme fit for Tennessee.
After some skepticism from NFL scouts at the start of the year, they are raving about Collins now. They feel he could be a 4-3 Sam linebacker or Mike - middle - linebacker and also be a great fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Collins has showed explosive speed, athleticism and the abilities to cover and to play in space. He also has been a dangerous pass rusher, putting steady heat on the quarterback when Tulsa has him rush. In 2020, Collins has totaled 52 tackles with four sacks, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and two passes defended. He collected 97 tackles in 2019, and he was coming off 85 stops as a freshman.
In the 2021 NFL Draft, Collins should go no lower than the second round and could get late first-round consideration. He could be a great fit for Mike Vrabel's defense as an edge-rushing outside linebacker who is also capable of dropping into pass coverage.
Chicago Bears: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Bears blew out the Texans in a dominant fashion. Allen Robinson (9-123-1) was too much for the Houston defense, but none of Chicago's other receivers made even three catches or collected 25 receiving yards. Robinson and the Bears have not been able to agree on a contract extension, so they face losing him to free agency. Even if Robinson gets brought back, the Bears could consider drafting more receiver talent to go with him, especially if they are picking too low to land the top quarterback prospects.
Smith has 83 catches for 1,327 yards with 15 touchdowns this season, dominating the SEC on a weekly basis. For the NFL, Smith is dynamic receiver who could be a deadly weapon and has No. 1 potential. He has the speed to get vertical, is superb after the catch with moves in the open field, runs fabulous routes to create separation, is very sudden in and out of his breaks, high points the ball well, and has excellent hands. If Smith were not so thinly built, he would be a top-10 pick, but even with his lean frame, he looks like a first-round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft and could get top-20 consideration. If Chicago holds on to its pick in the late teens, Smith could be a great fit for the franchise as a No. 1 receiver to replace Robinson or to form a dynamic tandem with him.
Los Angeles Rams: Wyatt Davis, OT, Ohio State
The Rams cruised over New England on Thursday Night Football, as Cam Akers ripping off 171 yards over 29 carries made Jared Goff's job easy. When Los Angeles can run the ball effectively, Goff is a capable game manager, but when Goff has to carry the team, Los Angeles is in trouble. That was evident over the past few years when the Rams enjoyed greatness from Todd Gurley, and then lived through a decline of Gurley and their offensive line. Los Angeles lost Rodger Saffold in free agency and has Andrew Whitworth nearing the end of his career. Adding more run blocking talent for the inside of the offensive line would make sense for the Rams.
Davis has plug-and-play potential, and he could be a good road-grader for the Rams. The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder 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. Davis is stout to anchor against bull rushes, but he needs to improve his pass protection, as he has given up a couple of sacks in 2020, and that could cause him to slide into the second night of the 2021 NFL Draft. Akers would love to run behind a road grader like Davis.
Arizona Cardinals: Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami
Arizona needed a win, and the Vikings' loss to Tampa Bay was a nice assist to Arizona's playoff hopes. Once again, DeAndre Hopkins was phenomenal for the Cardinals, and their ripoff of the Texans has made a huge difference this season. With Larry Fitzgerald aging, it would make sense for Arizona to find some complements to Hopkins. Christian Kirk is a nice slot receiver, but Dan Arnold and Maxx Williams are backup quality tight ends.
Jordan has 30 receptions for 480 yards and five touchdowns for Miami this season. As a sophomore (35-495-2) and freshman (32-287-4), Jordan was a nice contributor despite inconsistent quarterback play. Jordan could be a nice receiving tight end in the NFL similar to the Titans' Jonnu Smith. Like Smith, Jordan is a smooth route-runner with quickness to separate. Jordan also has a compact build that allows him to run through tackles and be tough for defensive backs to get on the ground. While Jordan will never be a devastating blocker, he can contribute somewhat in the ground game and toward protecting his quarterback. Jordan could be a late second-round or early third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He could be a nice value selection for the Cardinals on Day 2.
Kansas City Chiefs: Trey Hill, C, Georgia
The Chiefs clinched the AFC West with their close win over the Dolphins. Miami fought Kansas City surprisingly hard, picking off Pat Mahomes three times and sacking him thrice. The Chiefs were completely stopped in the ground game, as Clyde Edwards-Helaire totaled only 32 yards across 16 carries. Adding more interior offensive line talent would make sense to protect Mahomes and provide better blocking for Edwards-Helaire.
Hill was phenomenal for Georgia in 2019 and has played 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 year, 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 no be the flashiest of draft picks, but he would help the Chiefs get more return on investment with what they have put into Mahomes, Edwards-Helaire and other players on offense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern
The Bucs were fortunate that Vikings kicker Dan Bailey missed three field goals, which helped Tampa Bay breath easily on its way to the 12-point win. Even though the Bucs' defense was able to bend but not break against Dalvin Cook and the Vikings, Kirk Cousins still threw for more yards than Tom Brady. Tampa Bay did not have a 100-yard rusher and none of the team's receivers notched even 60 receiving yards. Adding some interior offensive line help would make sense for the Bucs to help run the ball more consistently and improve the pass protection for Brady in 2021.
Slater decided to sit out the 2020 season, which could hurt his draft momentum. Some are projecting him to the first round, while some team sources say they have Slater in the second round. Slater is a good athlete who could play tackle, guard or center in the NFL. Given his lack of height and length, he might be a better fit on the inside at guard or center. Slater shouldn't get out of the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft due to his versatility and athleticism. He could be a nice guard or center for the Bucs and a solid value selection in the second round.
Dallas Cowboys: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
While Dallas cruised over the Bengals, Cincinnati gave the Cowboys an early lead thanks to three first-half fumbles that produced a big swing in points in the latter's direction. Aside from the turnovers, Cincinnati's offense moved the ball pretty decently versus Dallas despite playing with a lot of backups. The Cowboys got a couple sacks out of Tyrone Crawford, but they could use an interior rusher on their line. Gerald McCoy was supposed to perform that role, but he was injured in training camp. If Dallas moves down in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Barmore could be a good fit for the organization - perhaps the team could move up from its second-round pick for him. Either way, he is the best interior pass rusher in the draft class and the Cowboys need to get more interior pressure on the quarterback.
Barmore has recorded 22 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles and three passes batted in 2020. The dangerous interior rusher is capable of putting consistent heat on the quarterback. His run defense, however, needs work for the next level. Barmore flashed ability as part of Alabama's rotation in 2019, recording 26 tackles and two sacks.
Some team sources are high on him, while others wanted to see him become a more well-rounded player and a better run defender before they project him to be a high first-rounder. Hence, he might end up being more of a mid- to late first-round pick. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Barmore has good size with length at the point of attack to go along with quickness and athleticism, so if he works out well, he could rise.
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.
With Russell Wilson in the prime years of his career, the Seahawks will remain a Super Bowl contender, and they have a window to win another championship thanks to Wilson's ability to put his teammates on his back to lead them to another Lombardi Trophy. Seattle will be without its first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and the 2022 NFL Draft thanks to the Jamal Adams trade, but if general manager John Schneider continues to draft well, the organization will remain one of the elite teams in the NFL for many years to come.
Entering the 2021 offseason, the Seahawks have needs, like any other team, and those positions include defensive and offensive upgrades. Giving Wilson talent to work with will always be a consideration. In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
I have the Seahawks taking Pat Freiermuth, and tight end is a position at which they could use an infusion of youth. Greg Olsen was signed last offseason, but he is nearing retirement and is just a short-term contributor. Freiermuth would be a good scheme fit and a receiving weapon for Russell Wilson. Other tight ends Seattle could consider on the second day of the 2021 NFL Draft include Miami's Brevin Jordan or Iowa State's Charlie Kolar. Jordan would be a receiving weapon who could be a nice contributor in the middle of the field to take advantage of teams sending extra coverage over the top on D.K. Metcalf and/or Tyler Lockett.
The Seahawks could also consider adding some running back depth in the mid-rounds of the draft because Chris Carson and Rashad Penny have dealt with injuries. The team could always use more offensive line reinforcements as well. If the Seahawks want to add a running back in the second round, some good prospects to consider would include Alabama's Najee Harris and Memphis' Kenny Gainwell. Some offensive line talent worthy of consideration could include Tennessee guard Trey Smith, Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater and Notre Dame tackle Liam Eichenberg.
Defensively, the Seahawks could use more edge-rush talent. Jadeveon Clowney was a 1-year answer in 2019, and Bruce Irvin was brought back in 2020. Some long-term fixes who could make it to the team's second-round pick include Texas' Joseph Ossai, Washington's Joe Tryon and Pittsburgh's Patrick Jones II. Tulsa's Zaven Collins would be a great scheme fit for the Seahawks, but he probably won't get to their pick, so they would most likely have to move up for him.
Seattle also could consider more young cornerback talent to go with Shaq Griffin. Some good options to consider in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft would include Alabama's Josh Jobe, Georgia's Tyson Campbell, Clemson's Derion Kendrick and Stanford's Paulson Adebo. All of those players are big corners with length and the ability to play the Seahawks' style. Of that group, Adebo could be a nice fit given his ball skills, while Jobe and Campbell both really have the look of a Seattle cornerback.
The NFC West is a tough division with a lot of good opponents, so the Seahawks have to continue to nail draft picks to maintain their edge over their division rivals. They have an ace up their sleeve with Wilson, who is among the two or three best quarterbacks in the NFL. A couple of good draft classes could easily yield another Lombardi Trophy for Wilson, Schneider, and Pete Carroll.
Green Bay Packers:
Last April, the Packers made one of the most questionable first-round picks in recent draft history when they selected quarterback Jordan Love in the first round. Green Bay made a misguided decision for many reasons, as I laid out after the draft in our Packers Rookie Forecast
. Despite that decision, the Packers are still in the hunt to win the Super Bowl this year thanks to Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, and a solid defense.
The chances of the Packers winning their second Lombardi Trophy with Rodgers would be much better if they had taken a wide receiver instead of Love in the 2020 NFL Draft. Green Bay passed on some wide outs who are contributing and playing really well as rookies. That group includes the Bengals' Tee Higgins, the Colts' Michael Pittman Jr., and the Steelers' Chase Claypool. Any one of those three would have been a huge upgrade as a No. 2 receiver across from Davante Adams, and the lack of a steady No. 2 has been a sore spot for years.
The Packers could draw on the 2021 NFL Draft's strong class of wideouts and land a good weapon late in the first round or in the second round. Some late first-round options could include LSU's Terrace Marshall Jr., Minnesota's Rashad Bateman, Purdue's Rondale Moore or Florida's Kadarius Toney. Some of those receivers might slip to Round 2, which could make them options for Green Bay on Friday night of the 2021 NFL Draft.
There should be some other good receiving options on the second day like Oklahoma State's Tylan Wallace, Florida State's Tamorrion Terry and Houston's Marquez Stevenson. Getting better weapons for Rodgers in 2021, and Love in the long term, is a critical priority next spring.
The Packers could also stand to add some young talent to their offensive line. In my latest mock 2021 NFL Draft
, I have Green Bay taking Michigan right tackle Jalen Mayfield, and it would make sense for the francise to add some young talent to protect Rodgers and Love. Right tackle Ricky Wagner will be in the last year of his contract, and at this point of his career, he is a veteran journeyman. Mayfield could start inside at guard or be a swing tackle backup who takes over as the starting right tackle in 2022. Other tackle options to consider late in the first round and the second round could include the likes of USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker, Alabama's Alex Leatherwood, Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw, Northwestern's Rashawn Slater and Notre Dame's Liam Eichenberg. All those linemen could go in Round 1 or slide to the second round. A lot of those players are love/hate in the scouting community, holding a wide variety in grades from team to team.
Green Bay is strong defensively, but the team could still examine taking some inside linebacker help in the early rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft. Alabama's Dylan Moses and Missouri's Nick Bolton could receive second-round consideration, while Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah could be a candidate in the first round.
With Rodgers and Davante Adams still elite players, the Packers have a narrowing window to compete for a Super Bowl. Taking a wide receiver could have an immediate impact that improves their chances of winning the Super Bowl in 2022. Adding wide receiver and offensive line talent makes sense for the short-term goals with Rodgers, and for the long-term support for Love. It will be interesting to see how much longer Rodgers plays in Green Bay and if the organization will make moves to help him win now.
NFL Picks - Sept. 19
2022 NFL Mock Draft - Sept. 15
NFL Power Rankings - Sept. 14
Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 8