Early 2019 NFL Mock Draft: Defensive Linemen Fly Off The Board

The NFL season has hit its quarter point. Division races are starting to shape, and there are teams that are gravitating towards the top of the draft board. Yet, the season is still surprising to this point.

Right now, the Atlanta Falcons are drafting in the top 10. The Patriots currently sit at pick 16, and the Bengals and Ravens are in the last five picks at the end of the first round.

Sounds like a season that everyone predicted.

The other part of the equation is becoming clearer as well. After five weeks of college football, we are learning plenty about the incoming draft class. Everyone has found out by now that defensive line and wide receiver are both very deep in this class. Getting a strong pass rush is important, and teams are seeing that first hand with how the Bears are playing with Khalil Mack.

So, without further ado, here is my first mock draft for 2019, the first of many to come in the next six months.

1. Arizona Cardinals: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

The Arizona Cardinals have needs on both the offensive and defensive line. However, the offensive line performed alright against the Seahawks on Sunday, giving Josh Rosen ample time on many longer forming plays. It’s the defensive line that could use the bigger boost to create pressure. They go with Ed Oliver from Houston, a player who has gotten comparisons to Aaron Donald. Oliver plays very quick for his 290 pound frame, and is a pass rusher from the interior as well as a strong presence to play gaps in the run game. He will thrive wherever he goes.

2. New York Jets: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State

Like the Cardinals, the Jets sit atop the draft with their quarterback situation figured out. Sam Darnold looks like he is full of potential. The defense is playing better this season as well, especially in the secondary and at linebacker. The one thing they are missing is someone who can consistently get after the quarterback. This is where Nick Bosa comes in. Bosa is an excellent pass rusher with a good get off and the ability to win with many different moves. He uses his hands very well and doesn’t give up ground while he does, which is an elite trait for rushers. Bosa and Leonard Williams would be a nice duo on the line.

3. San Francisco 49ers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

The 49ers would love it if Bosa would have fallen to them, but they don’t get lucky in this scenario. If going edge is out of the question, getting help on the perimeter for their secondary should also be up there on the priority list. While they did sign Richard Sherman in the offseason, he isn’t a long term solution. Second year corner Ahkello Witherspoon is getting good reps this season, but it’s likely he won’t be a number one corner. So, the Niners go with Greedy Williams. Williams is a physical corner with plenty of speed and the ability to mirror routes. He would come in and provide a spark to that defense.

4. Houston Texans: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

If you’ve watched the Texans this year, you’ve seen a team that has been in games with their defense, but the offense hasn’t been anywhere near as explosive as they were with Deshaun Watson last season. This is due to the lack of talent along the offensive line, something the Texans haven’t put focus into the line in a while. If they end up picking this high, finding someone to protect Watson is of utmost importance. Adding Jonah Williams is a first step to a complete rebuild. Williams is a powerful presence at left tackle with strong hands and good footwork to handle opposing rushers. He can play from the get go.

5. Indianapolis Colts: Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama

The Indianapolis Colts are still very much a work in progress, even with the return of Andrew Luck. After investing heavily in the offensive line in the 2018 draft, 2019 needs to be about getting studs for the defense. It starts for them on the defensive line, where there is no true difference maker. Either edge or the interior would work to build around, and the Colts ultimately go with Raekwon Davis. Davis is a taller defensive lineman with a lot of length. He does a great job getting low and winning with his lower body, but he can also use his hands well and move quick to get around blocks. The Colts have to start somewhere, and Davis would be a good one.

6. Detroit Lions: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson

The Lions unquestionably need help along the edge, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Ziggy Ansah. If he walks after the season, the Lions pass rush is on life support. Adding someone with the talent of Clelin Ferrell would be a big help. Ferrell has good bend for his size and strong hands. He would provide immediate help, and the Lions would have the opportunity to double up later in the draft.

7. Buffalo Bills: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

The Bills just got their quarterback in 2018, and they could use some help to protect him, but it’s tough to say that another tackle is worth of a top 10 selection at this point. The defensive line is one of the better groups in Buffalo this season, but they could use an elite talent. Rashan Gary would probably play end for the Bills even with his current size, but he has enough twitch to become a dominant player. It hasn’t shown up much on the stat sheet for Gary this season, but he has the traits to eventually get the production where it needs to be.

8. New York Giants: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Finally, a team with a need at quarterback. The Giants have drafted a quarterback in the last two drafts, but they didn’t give Davis Webb much of a chance and Kyle Lauletta isn’t the long term answer. It’s time to actually get a strong plan in place for when Eli Manning finally hangs it up. This quarterback class still has plenty of questions, but right now, Justin Herbert is the top guy. Herbert has the arm to make special throws, and he’s had a very good season so far. He still needs to work on handling pressure and will need to take snaps under center throughout the draft process, but he is the best the class has to offer right now.

9. Atlanta Falcons: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State

Atlanta has struggled so far in the season, and they have had so many injuries on defense. The roster is still extremely good, and the Falcons can afford a luxury pick here. The offensive line is getting older, and having some depth is important for Matt Ryan. Dalton Risner started out as a center for Kansas State, and he’s playing right tackle this season. His versatility is something teams will like, and the Falcons would love to be able to play him at multiple spots along the line.

10. Oakland Raiders: Devin White, LB, LSU

The Raiders still need pass rush help (no matter what Gruden says), but Oakland hasn’t had a dominant linebacker for a very long time. It’s time for that to change. Devin White would bring some much needed athleticism to the linebacker position. He is excellent as a sideline-to-sideline player and will be an effective blitzer with his speed. With the depth the Raiders currently have, White could come in a be a starter, even with how raw he still is.

11. Minnesota Vikings: David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin 

This trend has been getting pretty old, but the Minnesota Vikings one roster hole right now is on the offensive line. The group just doesn’t have the technicians at tackle, and their interior line has suffered injury. If they want to sustain success, especially on offense, the Vikings need to find a better option at tackle. David Edwards continues a long line of Wisconsin offensive linemen with very good NFL potential. Edwards is a powerful right tackle with enough technique to move over to the left side. He would be a great addition for Minnesota’s line.

12. Cleveland Browns: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

The Browns got one future stud at corner in the 2018 draft (Denzel Ward), but the secondary is far from a finished product. He isn’t getting a lot of buzz on draft boards, but Deandre Baker definitely has the league’s attention at cornerback. He is a tough, physical player at the line of scrimmage with very good coverage skills. He already has two picks in 2018, and hasn’t yet allowed a touchdown. He would look great on the opposite side of Ward in 2019.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama

It’s no secret that the Steelers are in need of defensive help after their performance through four games in 2018. Secondary and linebacker are two major points of concern, and the linebacker position has been hurting since the loss of Ryan Shazier. Mack Wilson could come in and be the linebacker the Steelers have been missing. Wilson has the speed and size to play in today’s NFL. He has great anticipation and is a physical downhill tackler.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Dre’Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State

The Dallas Cowboys are in an odd situation. It looks like this year won’t be a playoff year for them, but the roster really isn’t too bad. The defense is young, but is improving greatly, especially in the secondary. It’s a crazy thought, but quarterback might not be out of the question come next April if the organization feels like Dak Prescott isn’t the guy. The Cowboys ultimately settle on defensive line. Dre’Mont Jones would be a great addition along that line. David Irving is finally back, and Demarcus Lawrence has played great the last two seasons, but it never hurts to add more to the mix. Jones is an athletic lineman with plenty of quickness to get around blocks. He will be a great presence rushing the passer from the interior.

15. Seattle Seahawks: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State

The Seattle Seahawks are a shell of the defense they had back in 2013. With Earl Thomas going down last Sunday, their true difference makers left are Bobby Wagner and Frank Clark. Here, they add another difference maker who can help get their defense back to where it was. Brian Burns is an edge rusher with excellent bend around the edge. He also possesses good counter moves. Burns would fit right in opposite Clark.

16. New England Patriots: Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

It’s odd to see the Patriots picking this high, but through four weeks, this is where they stand. Their team just isn’t built like it was earlier in the decade. Instead of picking a defensive star, the Pats begin the plan of life after Tom Brady. Brady has likely two seasons or so left in the tank, and they need a back up plan after Jimmy Garoppolo was traded last season. Will Grier would be a perfect prospect to bring in to wait for a bit. He has the arm strength and touch down the field to succeed in the NFL. Working with Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels would ensure his development.

17. Denver Broncos: Brian Lewerke, QB, Michigan State

The Broncos brought in Case Keenum in the offseason after his very good 2017 in Minnesota. So far this season, he has been underwhelming, and Denver’s recent draft picks at quarterback haven’t been good. They need to go out and find a signal caller for the future in this draft. Here, they end up with Brian Lewereke from Michigan State. Lewerke has a strong pocket presence and throws with good timing and anticipation. Another strong season in 2018 will see him rise up draft boards.

18. Philadelphia Eagles: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi

The Eagles have started slow in 2018, and part of the blame has to come from their pass catcher depth. Alshon Jeffery finally got into action last week, and before that, the group was being carried by slot receiver Nelson Agholor. It’s important that they continue to supply Carson Wentz with weapons. Mississippi wideout D.K. Metcalf would be a great addition to the Eagles. He is a big receiver who can win above the rim, and he also has a great release off the line to separate from defenders. Having another big target in Philly would be a huge benefit.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

The Bucs got off to a strong start in 2018 thanks to some Fitzmagic, but the past two weeks have humbled them a bit. This team may not find themselves in the postseason, which will put Dirk Koetter on the hot seat. It is entirely possible that they could pick a quarterback in April with the up and down career Jameis Winston has had, but here they elect to go with defense. Justin Evans is a nice player on the back end, but adding Deionte Thompson gives them help near the line of scrimmage as well. Thompson could play either safety spot, as he has the range and anticipation to play deep as well as the physicality to play near the LOS.

20. Los Angeles Chargers: Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State

The Chargers are still contending in the twilight of Philip Rivers’ career, and adding pieces around him should be the top priority. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are a great duo on the edge, but they could use some help on the interior. Los Angeles gets a break with Jeffery Simmons falling to them. Simmons has been an absolute force on the Mississippi State line this season, and he would make the Chargers defense even more dangerous.

21. Green Bay Packers: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State

The Packers finally got help at corner in last year’s draft, leaving edge as their most important position to address for 2019. Both Nick Perry and Clay Matthews are underperforming right now, and adding someone to ignite the group is huge. Montez Sweat is a long edge rusher with good bend and hand usage. He would fit right in in Mike Pettine’s scheme.

22. Washington Redskins: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

The Washington Redskins have been a pleasant surprise through four weeks in 2018. Alex Smith and the offense have been doing well, and the defense is getting plenty of pressure on opponents. However, it wouldn’t hurt to give Smith another weapon on the outside. Adding an electric playmaker like N’Keal Harry would be a big benefit to the offense. Harry is a tall, lanky wide receiver who can win above the rim and also create big gains after the catch.

23. Miami Dolphins: Zach Allen, DL, Boston College

The Dolphins are another surprise through four games this season, and they can contend for a playoff spot in a weak AFC. When looking to 2019, getting help along the defensive line will be a big priority. They have already lost William Hayes to a torn ACL this season. Robert Quinn isn’t getting any younger. The Dolphins also haven’t gotten much out of Charles Harris so far. Adding someone like Zach Allen, who can play in multiple spots along the line, would be a nice get for Miami.

24. Tennessee Titans: Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson 

The Titans are quietly building a strong defense under head coach Mike Vrabel. They are already getting returns from second round pick Harold Landry, and Jurrell Casey continues to be a beast in the middle. Rashaan Evans will likely contribute as well at linebacker real soon. Here, the Titans add another interior presence with game wrecking potential. Dexter Lawrence moves well for 340 pounds, and he can take on plenty of double teams to free up guys on the outside. He will also be a big help against the run.

25. Carolina Panthers: Levonta Taylor, CB, Florida State

The Panthers got some relief at corner in the 2018 draft, selecting burner Donte Jackson. Now, they add someone with a much more technical skill. Levonta Taylor got plenty of hype entering the season for Florida State. With the Seminoles not getting much attention, Taylor is quietly putting together a strong year. He is great in man coverage and has great anticipation to jump in front of routes.

26. Oakland Raiders (from Bears): Taylor Rapp, S, Washington

The Raiders continue to add to their defense here, getting a versatile safety in Taylor Rapp. Rapp plays all over for the Washington Huskies, from a deep third to man coverage in the slot. He has the speed to hang with receivers, and is a great filler in the run game as a tackler. He is an aggressive playmaker as well, something Oakland seriously needs.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kelvin Harmon, WR, North Carolina State

The Jags are committed to Blake Bortles, so they pass on a potential stud at quarterback. The offense has a decent group of receivers, but they are still in need of a number one guy. Kelvin Harmon has the potential to be that guy. At six foot three, he has the size and frame to be a big time red zone target. He can win above the rim with very strong hands. He isn’t a precise route runner, but he can come in and thrive in the red zone and be a bailout guy for a 50/50 ball.

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

Probably the biggest surprise of the first round, the Bengals decide to get a plan in place to replace longtime quarterback Andy Dalton, despite a strong start to the 2018 season. The weapons are in place, and the Bengals can take their time developing Drew Lock, who has good potential. Lock has a very good arm and can make high difficulty throws, including the back shoulder throw. He needs to work on developing as a quarterback who can take snaps under center, but his ceiling is higher than Dalton’s at this point.

29. Green Bay Packers (from Saints): Marqise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

The Packers moved on from Jordy Nelson in the offseason, and their receiver group, while a reliable bunch, still needs to find a gamebreaker who can threaten defenses down the field. Here, they select Marqise Brown, who is dominating the Big 12 right now. He has the speed and explosiveness the Packers are looking for, and adding a consistent influx of playmakers to help Aaron Rodgers is important down the stretch of his career.

30. Baltimore Ravens: Anfernee Jennings, DE, Oregon

The Ravens drafted two tight ends in the 2018 draft in order to give quarterback Joe Flacco more weapons on offense. In the 2019 first round, they shift back to drafting defense. Even though Ozzie Newsome completed his last draft as the Ravens GM, that doesn’t mean the Alabama ties completely go away. Anfernee Jennings is a strong edge defender with strong hands and a great presence in the run game. He lacks some explosiveness around the edge, but he is a sound player who will give the Ravens some depth.

31. Los Angeles Rams: Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida

Remember. This. Name. Florida edge defender Jachai Polite is turning heads after his last couple performances, most recently against Mississippi State. Polite has serious explosiveness and bend around the edge, and teams are always looking for that dynamic presence. The Rams have great depth on the interior, but they are still looking for a difference maker on the edge. Polite can be that guy for them.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State 

The Chiefs are riding high thanks to the great play of Patrick Mahomes and the offense thus far. However, the Chiefs are finding themselves having to win in shootouts, pointing to a need on the defensive side of the ball. They traded away Marcus Peters in the offseason, but did Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade. Kansas City still needs help at corner, and adding Kendall Sheffield would help. Sheffield is the latest talent to come out of Ohio State and his technique and speed are important traits to have as a corner.

Thoughts on your team’s selection? Who is the first round missing right now? Let me know on Twitter @JakeNFLDraft. 

Advertisements

The Weekend Cap: Rams/Chiefs Rise, Scouting Notes, Packers Thoughts

A wise man once said that we really don’t know anything. That statement has never been more true than this past weekend in the NFL. We believed we had foregone conclusions, positive for some teams, negatives for others, and we were shocked to find out those conclusions were incorrect.

Somehow we keep doing this every single year. After two weeks, we assume we know where teams are at and where they will go. We assume no upsets will occur, certain teams are done, and certain teams won’t falter.

I’m not saying I disagree with the condition that 90 percent of teams who start 0-2 don’t make the postseason. That data still holds. But, there will be 0-2 teams that finish in the middle of the pack and don’t end up with the top pick in the draft. Some 1-1 teams will finish better than 2-0 teams.

What I am saying is it’s a long season and we don’t quite know where every team will be come December.

What we can do is react to what we saw in week three of the NFL season.**

**Plus, some scouting notes and a Packers-only section.

Two Teams At The Top

There are three teams sitting at 3-0 after week three in the NFL season, and one undefeated team still has a chance to get themselves to 3-0 tonight. However, two of those teams are very much in their own class.

Also, quick note. It is interesting that there will be a max of four undefeated teams after three week. It speaks to the parity that still exists in the NFL, something that is a great product driver.

The Rams and Chiefs are the class of the league at this point. There is no denying that.

The Chiefs are still riding the hot start of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who now has 13 touchdown passes after three weeks, breaking the record previously held by Peyton Manning. He has also found nine different receivers for a touchdown, which is impressive after only three weeks. The offense is full of weapons, from stars like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, to Sammy Watkins, who is clearly thriving in this offense.

This speaks to the success and genius of head coach Andy Reid. Reid has consistently been one of the best offensive minds in the league, and his work with Mahomes so far is especially astounding. Mahomes ran a spread at Texas Tech, and NFL concepts like taking snaps under center and working through progressions had plenty of analysts weary. It shows how much Andy Reid can help young quarterbacks and shape an offense to tailor to their strengths.

Speaking of the development of Mahomes, the Chiefs did something that isn’t common in today’s NFL with rookie quarterbacks. Kansas City moved up to select Mahomes in 2017, certain he would be the franchise quarterback in the future. Then, they let him sit behind Alex Smith to work on his game and his transition to the NFL. Most quarterbacks who are first round picks nowadays end up thrown into the fire at some point, whether it be because of injury or incompetence in front of them. Not the Chiefs though. They had the plan in place to draft someone like Mahomes. That plan is a reason why you are seeing the start he is having.

Let’s move over to the other 3-0 team with plenty to be excited about. The Los Angeles Rams acquired plenty of veteran talent in the offseason, adding Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Brandin Cookls, and Aqib Talib. Many wondered if head coach Sean McVay could work all the new guys in along with continuing to evolve as an offense. So far, the transition looks good. Brandin Cooks is not just playing decoy in the offense as a deep threat (seven catches for 90 yards on Sunday), and Suh looks like he is racing Aaron Donald to the quarterback on every play.

Let’s also not forget about the continued rise of quarterback Jared Goff. Many wrote him off as a franchise quarterback after one season under Jeff Fisher, but the presence of Sean McVay completely turned his career arc around. He is the comfortable pocket maneuvering, dime-dropping player that many saw leading up to the 2016 draft. He made a throw to the sideline yesterday in between two defenders to Robert Woods that made jaws drop.

They are dealing with some injuries right now on both sides of the ball, but the Rams are the most complete team on both sides of the ball at this point in the season.

Roughing The Passer Is Out Of Hand

Another week, another showing of why the roughing the passer call needs to be changed. Clay Matthews has been the center of attention in this saga after three roughing the passer penalties in three weeks. The first one against Chicago was a fair call, as Matthews went up high at Mitchell Trubisky’s head. Last week, Matthews hit Kirk Cousins as he threw and “drove him into the ground” (he did not). This week, Matthews was penalized sacking Alex Smith. Smith didn’t get rid of the ball, and Matthews just took him down. However, he was penalized because he put all of his weight on him.

This rule is absolute garbage.

On most plays, players put their full body weight on each other, defined as a tackle. This rule that was enforced yesterday seems like a penalty will be assessed for sacking the quarterback.

Or will it? Because it happened in that game, with Da’Ron Payne throwing Aaron Rodgers hard into the ground wit his head hitting the ground first. Penalty? None whatsoever.

Officiating in general is pretty inconsistent, but this is next level. If you are going to implement a rule as bad as this, and then not be consistent with it, that’s a problem on top of a problem.

The issue of not being able to sack the quarterback normally creates an issue for a defender when they reach the quarterback, and it could lead to injury. Oh wait, it’s already happened. Dolphins defensive end William Hayes tore his ACL trying to avoid landing hard on Derek Carr when he sacked him. This could become more common under this rule.

Not only that, but the league is standing strong on the idea of player safety when talking about this rule. They say player safety, but they mean quarterback (and offense) safety. It doesn’t seem like anyone seems to care about defensive player safety. Out in space Sunday, an Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman went low on Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson and proceeded to roll over into his leg, leading to most likely a severe injury.

What’s the takeaway here? The NFL has issues with the product right now, and the unrest is growing.

Don’t Worry About The Patriots, Yet

The Patriots didn’t look quite like themselves last Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, allowing Blake Bortles and company to shred them through the air. The offense also only mustered 20 points. After that, many expected that the rout would be on Sunday in Detroit.

It didn’t quite go that way.

The offense only scored 10 points, and Tom Brady completed just 14 of 26 for 133 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The defense allowed Detroit to have their first 100 yard rushing game since 2013. This wasn’t the performance everyone expected.

So, is there something wrong with the Patriots? They haven’t lost back-to-back games by double digits since 2002. Yes, you read that correctly.

If you look back at previous seasons, the trend is there. The Patriots just do not start well in the regular season. This is a team that consistently starts slow and finishes strong. The offense doesn’t look quite right, but Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman will soon be joining the offense. The defense will hopefully get Trey Flowers back soon.

So, the Patriots are fine, for now. However, there are definitely concerns on the defensive side of the ball that need to be addressed. The offense doesn’t get a pass for last night’s performance either.

What Are The Cardinals Doing?

We discussed above that the Chiefs sitting Mahomes paid huge dividends. When it comes to the 2018 quarterback class, all five first round selections have had some sort of game action. Sam Darnold and Josh Allen are the only two who have started games so far, but that will change this coming week with Baker Mayfield set to start for Cleveland.

The debuts have shown mixed results. However, no debut is as nuts as the debut of Josh Rosen for the Arizona Cardinals this weekend.

Arizona built a quick 14-0 lead on the Chicago Bears with a couple of Sam Bradford touchdown passes. However, Arizona didn’t get anything else going after that with Bradford at the helm, turning it over several times.

Down 16-14 with just a few minutes remaining, head coach Steve Wilks decides to put in Josh Rosen for his first game action in the NFL.

What a fantastic idea. Put a rookie in against a very good defense to try to run a two minute drill for a victory in his first meaningful action.

Since Bradford didn’t get injured, it begs the question of why. If Bradford had gotten hurt, then okay, someone has to go out there. But he didn’t. If Wilks had even thought about playing Rosen yesterday, how do you not give him reps all week to be ready to go in? Or, even better, let him prepare as the starter for the week!

Hopefully the Cardinals terrible start and organizational decision making doesn’t ruin what could be a great young trio of Josh Rosen, David Johnson, and Christian Kirk.

Scouting Notes From Week Four

This will be a staple every week on the Weekend Cap as we start to build towards the 2019 NFL Draft. Here are some bullet points on some guys I got to watch this weekend and my thoughts on their draft stock.

  • Quick thought on the quarterbacks. Right now, it’s Drew Lock and Justin Herbert competing for QB1. Herbert looked excellent against Stanford, showing great anticipation and decision making all game long. Oh, and his arm is very good too. Drew Lock made some great throws against Georgia, but he didn’t get much help, as his receivers caused two turnovers and dropped several passes on the day.
  • Will Grier also looked very good against Kansas State, and he will certainly keep himself in the conversation. Wide receiver David Sills V also showed out.
  • The wild card is Dwayne Haskins. He is rising big time and could declare as a redshirt sophomore.
  • Rodney Anderson’s injury is very unfortunate, and RB1 feels pretty open right now. One guy who has his sights set on it is Kentucky running back Benny Snell. Snell is a hard-nosed back with plenty of power, but he’s shown some juice when he hits the hole and better lateral quickness this season.
  • J.J. Arcega-Whiteside helped himself a ton Saturday night, especially on a sluggo move later in the game. He sold a slant route, and used lateral quickness to separate for his second touchdown. His first was a great usage of his frame to box out the defender.
  • Oregon linebacker Troy Dye is an intriguing name to keep an eye on. He is a taller linebacker at 6’3″, and he played extremely well Saturday. He showed his coverage ability on a Bryce Love wheel route and played instinctive near the line of scrimmage.
  • Deandre Baker (CB, Georgia) had some concerns coming into the season, especially when it came to man coverage. He is on a mission to erase those doubts, and he dominated against Missouri. He stayed glued to receivers and continued his physical style of play.
  • An important injury to monitor is Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz. He is currently my top interior offensive lineman, but as a redshirt sophomore he might not declare. The severity of the injury could affect Wisconsin along with his decision to declare early.

Quick Packers Thoughts

Finally, let’s talk about the Packers 31-17 loss to the Redskins on Sunday. Here are some notes in bullet point form as well.

  • The secondary struggled mightily. Kentrell Brice is a fill the hole, tackling type of safety and not a guy who can play in coverage. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix continues to miss tackles and is still trending in the wrong direction. Earl Thomas and Eric Reid are available.
  • Aaron Rodgers looked a bit better moving around the pocket this week. However, there were a couple plays where Rodgers looked to be in significant pain. This injury isn’t going away anytime soon.
  • Aaron Jones only played 17 snaps and carried the ball 6 times for 42 yards. Yes, he can’t be relied on in pass protection, but he should be the guy on early downs.
  • Not a great game on Randall Cobb’s part. A couple of big drops and a costly fumble got the “trade Cobb” crew back up and running. Don’t be a part of that crew.
  • There were a few more drops, including Lance Kendricks on a key deep ball down the sideline. This receiving core has to get it together.
  • Nick Perry hasn’t done much at all since his game-sealing sack in week one. Yes, he left with an injury, but he didn’t do much when he was in.
  • Clay Matthews’ sack should NEVER be a penalty.
  • Muhammad Wilkerson, Bryan Bulaga, and Perry all suffered injuries. It’s likely Wilkerson is done for the year.
  • All this said, the Packers are still 1-1-1 and it is early. R-E-L-A-X for now. And get Thomas and Reid, Gute.

 

Thanks for making it to the end! Follow me on Twitter @JakeNFLDraft for all things football!

Also, check out my recent posts on Fansided!

NFL Draft 2019 player rankings, Week 4: Defensive linemen rule

2019 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Schyvinck’s Top 100 Prospects In The 2018 NFL Draft

It’s here! If you’re reading this, the NFL Draft is here and my final piece is being read by you right now. It’s been a very fun process and I’m excited and energized by all that I learned during the process. It’s been a great draft process, and I’m looking forward to 2019. However, I won’t leave 2018 just yet. Without further ado, my top 250 prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft!

First Round Grades (18)

1. Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

2. Bradley Chubb, EDGE, North Carolina State

3. Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

4. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

5. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

6. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

7. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

8. Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

9. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

10. Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

11. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

12. Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia

13. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

14. Connor Williams, OT, Texas

15. Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

16. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

17. James Daniels, C/G, Iowa

18. Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan

Second Round Grades (36)

19. Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

20. Sam Darnold, QB, USC

21. Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

22. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

23. Josh Sweat, EDGE, Florida State

24. Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

25. Billy Price, OL, Ohio State

26. Ronald Jones, RB, USC

27. D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

28. Vita Vea, DL, Washington

29. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

30. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

31. Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

32. Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

33. Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

34. Taven Bryan, DL, Florida

35. Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

36. Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

37. Duke Ejiofor, EDGE, Wake Forest

38. Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

39. Austin Corbett, G, Nevada

40. Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Rutgers

41. Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

42. Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State

43. Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State

44. Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

45. Derrick Nnadi, DL, Florida State

46. Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

47. Fred Warner, LB, BYU

48. Justin Reid, S, Stanford

49. Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

50. Braden Smith, G, Auburn

51. Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forest

52. D.J. Chark, WR, LSU

53. Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford

54. Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Third Round Grades (40)

55. Rashad Penny, RB, San Diego State

56. Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

57. Obo Okoronkwo, EDGE, Oklahoma

58. John Kelly, RB, Tennessee

59. Genard Avery, LB, Memphis

60. Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State

61. DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State

62. M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina

63. Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma

64. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

65. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

66. Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

67. Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan

68. Andrew Brown, DL, Virginia

69. Harrison Phillips, DL, Stanford

70. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas  A&M

71. Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

72. Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

73. Martinas Rankin, OL, Mississippi State

74. Kylie Fitts, EDGE, Utah

75. Marcus Allen, S, Penn State

76. Rashaun Gaulden, CB, Tennessee

77. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

78. DeShon Elliott, S, Texas

79. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

80. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn

81. Lorenzo Carter, EDGE, Georgia

82. Duke Dawson, CB, Florida

83. Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State

84. Sean Welsh, G, Iowa

85. Alex Cappa, OT, Humboldt State

86. Mark Walton, RB, Miami

87. Kyzir White, S, West Virginia

88. Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana

89. Deadrin Senat, DT, South Florida

90. Arden Key, DE, LSU

91. Dorance Armstrong, DE, Kansas

92. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

93. Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

94. Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC

Fourth Round Grades (48)

95. Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

96. B.J. Hill, DL, North Carolina State

97. Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon

98. Nyheim Hines, RB, North Carolina State

99. Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State

100. Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin

Full Rankings Out Soon! Enjoy the NFL Draft!

2018 NFL Draft Packers Big Board: Rounds 1-3

The draft starts tonight! The excitement continues to build as more and more rumors swirl! Before all the madness, I have plenty of articles for your enjoyment. This article is tailored specifically to my Packers family. For the first time, I am making a big board for each day of the draft, listing my Packers for each day and explaining the order a bit. Hope you enjoy!

Some players you will be shocked to see on the board, and some you will be shocked to see off of it.

Round 1 Board

1. Bradley Chubb

2. Roquan Smith

3. Derwin James

4. Denzel Ward

5. Minkah Fitzpatrick

6. Quenton Nelson

7. Jaire Alexander

8. Harold Landry

9. Tremaine Edmunds

10. Mike McGlinchey

11. Rashaan Evans

12. Josh Rosen

13. Da’Ron Payne

14. Josh Jackson

15. Vita Vea

Analysis: Only three players here are worth trading up for in the draft. Bradley Chubb, Roquan Smith, and Derwin James are fantastic blue chip talents worthy of trading up for. After those three, Denzel Ward is the player I’d covet most, only because he fits well in Green Bay. Minkah and Jaire Alexander are two I’d be happy with at 14 overall, as well as Harold Landry. His bend would give a jolt to the pass rush. Another fun name on the board here for me is Josh Rosen. As historically great as Rodgers is, you never know when decline could show. Rosen would sit for a few seasons and provide a seamless transition if picked. I’m low on running back, so much so that none will be on my board for round one. Receiver is also absent there.

Round Two

16. Connor Williams

17. Mike Hughes

18. Josh Sweat

19. Austin Corbett

20. Isaiah Oliver

21. Anthony Miller

22. D.J. Moore

23. Duke Ejiofor

24. D.J. Chark

25. Ronnie Harrison

26. Kemoko Turay

27. Dante Pettis

28. Justin Reid

29. Sam Hubbard

30. Nick Chubb

31. Braden Smith

Analysis: Round two features a lot of receivers I would consider. Anthony Miller is a great route runner, while the D.J.’s (Moore and Chark) would take the top off of defenses. Mike Hughes and Isaiah Oliver should be considerations if the Packers go edge in the first round. If that flips, Josh Sweat and Duke Ejiofor are options for the Packers in round two. The Packers do have a need on the offensive line, and should consider Austin Corbett if he’s there in round two. My first running back graces the board here in round two. Nick Chubb would complement Aaron Jones well and create a good backfield in the frozen tundra.

Round Three

32. Alex Cappa

33. Marcus Davenport

34. Quenton Meeks

35. Obo Okoronkwo

36. Derrick Nnadi

37. Nathan Shepherd

38. DaeSean Hamilton

39. Fred Warner

40. Jessie Bates

41. Ian Thomas

42. M.J. Stewart

43. Carlton Davis

44. Chukwuma Okorafor

45. Marcus Allen

46. Donte Jackson

47. Equanimeous St. Brown

48. Kylie Fitts

49. Lorenzo Carter

50. Kerryon Johnson

51. Shaquem Griffin

52. Justin Jones

53. Sean Welsh

54. Durham Smythe

55. Uchenna Nwosu

56. Mark Walton

57. Duke Dawson

Analysis: Should the Packers not take a corner in the first two rounds, many are on my round three board. Quenton Meeks and M.J. Stewart are two real nice options, while Duke Dawson is an entertaining thought as a slot corner exclusively. Alex Cappa tops the round three board, and the Packers should consider him considering the health and contract situation of Bryan Bulaga. Fred Warner is a linebacker the Packers should consider in the third round. He does an excellent job finding the ball and getting off blocks. Tight end also finally finds the board in round three. The value Ian Thomas and Durham Smythe could bring would complement Jimmy Graham well. If they haven’t touched the wide receiver position, DaeSean Hamilton and Equanimeous St. Brown are options worth considering.

Who’s off the board that should be on? Who shouldn’t be on it? Let me know on Twitter @JSchyvinck13.

 

 

Schyvinck’s Final Edge Rankings

The draft is on its way as the first round begins tonight! Before the festivities, a lot of content from yours truly will be up to view. So get your draft reading in for the day before the bright lights shine at 8 PM ET/7 PM CT.

The edge class was an interesting group to follow throughout the year. Many believed that Landry, Chubb, and Arden Key were the cream of the crop. Key fell off due to off the field issues and injuries. However, other names emerged in what could be a deeper class with nice finds. Let’s get to the rankings.

1. Bradley Chubb 

Bradley Chubb is the clear number one edge player in the class. He plays with a motor that doesn’t stop, along with having a great arsenal of moves. Chubb uses his hands extremely well to get around the edge and to get linemen off of their anchor. Chubb also has great vision and works off what he sees linemen do at the snap.

Grade: Round 1

2. Harold Landry

Harold Landry had some injuries in 2017, but turn on the 2016 tape and you see why he’s a premier pass rusher. His explosive first step and bend around the edge is unmatched in the class. When you have that trait, teams take notice and you go early in the draft. He also extends his inside arm well to keep tackles off balance. He’s a round one lock.

Grade: Round 1

3. Josh Sweat

Teams are lower on Josh Sweat because of his knee injury. From what it seems, Sweat is cleared with the knee injury. Sweat is a very athletic pass rusher with explosiveness off the snap to get around the edge. He also plays the run very well and can play on day one.

Grade: Round 2

4. Duke Ejiofor

Duke Ejiofor may be the most calculated tactician in the edge rusher class. He is excellent with his hand usage to get around linemen and also comes ready with a plan on every snap. He isn’t the greatest athlete, but when you are that technical, you will find a place in the NFL.

Grade: Round 2

5. Kemoko Turay

Like Sweat, Kemoko Turay has an injury history that teams may avoid. However, when he’s on the field, he’s a top five edge rusher in the class. Turay uses his hands well to disengage blocks on the edge. He can be a pure pass rusher from day one, and he can develop into a three down defender.

Grade: Round Two

6. Sam Hubbard

Sam Hubbard is the ultimate question mark. He is a very athletic edge rusher, but players like that haven’t faired well in the league as of late. However, Hubbard can change that. He has a number of pass rush moves that he consistently brings to the table, and he has the high motor to constantly make linemen work.

Grade: Round Two

7. Marcus Davenport

Marcus Davenport has so much upside to him. He dominated his competition in college, often looking like an NFL player lost on a college field. His speed to power is very impressive, and that allows him to out-muscle his opponents and close quickly on the quarterback. He reminds me a lot of Jadeveon Clowney, lite version. He needs time to develop in the NFL though.

Grade: Round Two

8. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

Obo Okoronkwo is a relentless pass rusher who had plenty of success at Oklahoma. He had good speed around the edge and solid hand usage, but he is often inconsistent on tape. If he can get off the snap quicker he’s going to be a steal in the middle rounds.

Grade: Round Three

9. Kylie Fitts

If you haven’t heard of Kylie Fitts, you will. Fitts looked very good at the Senior Bowl, showing some nice bend around the edge along with quickness to get around blocks. He will likely be a rotational pass rusher, but he will be a good one for some team.

Grade: Round Three

10. Lorenzo Carter

When it comes to Lorenzo Carter, the potential is there. He is an excellent athlete who can run and chase. I’m just not sure how well he fits as an edge. He has the quickness to find the football against the run, but he’s extremely raw when it comes to rushing the passer. Teams may find moving him to a hybrid role will best fit his strengths.

Grade: Late Round Three

Agree with the rankings? Don’t agree? Find @JSchyvinck13 on Twitter to talk all things NFL Draft!

Also, be sure to go to @SportsGuysBlog on Twitter for Thursday and Friday coverage of the draft! The guys will be analyzing picks and answering your questions! 

Final 2018 NFL Draft Quarterback Rankings

The draft is on its way as the first round begins tonight! Before the festivities, a lot of content from yours truly will be up to view. So get your draft reading in for the day before the bright lights shine at 8 PM ET/7 PM CT.

The quarterback class is one that has been hotly debated since the beginning of the last college football season. Many analysts and teams have different views on the quarterbacks in this draft. On one hand, you have the ones who love upside and arm talent, and on the other side, you have the ones who believe in accuracy, footwork, and the film you see. Sam Darnold and Josh Allen get a ton of buzz for their potential, but are they the top guys? Or do guys like Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield belong at the top? What about Lamar Jackson? Teams don’t give him enough credit and often say he should change positions (they’re dumb). Also, is there a sleeper in here somewhere? Let’s take a look at my top 10 quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

1. Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen is the best pure passer in this draft. He consistently shows the best mechanics of anyone in the draft. Rosen has mastered every throw you could imagine, including the very difficult back shoulder throw. There are numerous examples of perfect back shoulder placement on tape. While the big arms in the draft get the noise, Rosen’s arm is plenty strong enough to make the throws. He puts plenty of zip on the ball when he needs to, and he can get the ball down the field if need be. The more games he got under his belt at UCLA, the better his anticipation, touch, and accuracy got. He is outstanding between 10 and 20 yards, something many quarterbacks need to work on. As far as mechanics go, he keeps his eyes downfield and his feet moving to the target. He’s also not immobile, as people keep believing. He can make throws on the run out of the pocket.

No prospect is without faults though. Rosen has things he needs to work on. There are times where he isn’t ready for the blitz and ends up getting rid of the ball out of bounds quickly. Another small issue with Rosen is that he sometimes lacks awareness on his blind side. The final concern from teams is the durability. He took plenty of hits at UCLA and he doesn’t have the biggest frame.

Grade: Round 1

2. Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield rose up big time during the fall and for good reason. Many weren’t sure if he could handle the spotlight after an off the field incident last winter. However, he bounced back in a big way. Mayfield looked like a hesitant thrower early in his career, but that changed drastically as time went on. His best attributes are his quick release, his downfield accuracy (he throws some of the prettiest deep balls of anyone), and his ability to maneuver and escape the pocket when he needs to. In 2017, he got passes out on time with very good anticipation. He has the quick release and zip on the ball to put it where he wants and quickly when he sees open receivers. Another plus with Mayfield that shows a lot in 2017 is him setting his feet even when he’s out of the pocket. Quarterbacks can easily just keep running and try to throw on the run, but Mayfield was very good about setting his feet and getting them to his target.

A couple things exist for Mayfield to work on. Sometimes Mayfield will hold the ball too long. This is good for keeping turnovers low, but he will sometimes take unnecessary sacks trying to do too much. There are also times where Mayfield will stare down a certain target. Teams will pick up on that immediately if it becomes a habit. Finally, Mayfield doesn’t have a ton of work under center. However, I don’t see that becoming an issue.

Grade: Round 1

3. Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold is a prospect that can be very polarizing. On the positive side, you see a guy with a rocket arm. Even though he has the zip, he can put some air under the ball and be very accurate down the field. His touch shows big time on his intermediate throws. He is excellent at buying time in the pocket and finds a way to improv out of the pocket and find open receivers. Darnold also throws extremely well on the run, something very difficult for quarterbacks. You will also get plenty of splash plays and wow throws with Darnold. Sometimes it looks like the throw should not be made, but Darnold throws the receiver open and it makes your jaw drop. Another thing Darnold does very well is his eye manipulation on leveled routes. On play action, you will see Darnold’s eyes look to the flat, sucking the linebacker down. Then, Darnold will fire a dart to a wide open receiver at the second level. This is something you see often.

Darnold does have things to work on though. He has some real bad turnovers on tape, some of which come from staring down receivers, and others come from him relying on his arm too much and throwing with his feet not pointed anywhere near the target. This will cause the ball to float and get picked at the next level. Darnold also can get antsy if his first read isn’t there. He needs to realize he can maneuver the pocket smoothly to look elsewhere in his progression.

Grade: Early Round 2

4. Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson is perhaps the most polarizing player among teams and scouts. Some have said he belongs at wide receiver, which is a complete joke. Jackson is a quarterback, plain and simple. Early on in his career, he did struggle a lot to make throws. He often looked like his mind was working faster than his body. He would recognize where the ball needed to be, but he wouldn’t get set quick enough when his mind wanted the ball out.

This changed in 2017, in a drastic way. Jackson has the ability to process and read a defense while getting the ball out on time where it needs to be. He moves around the pocket much better than in previous seasons, and he keeps his eyes downfield. Something very important you want to see is a quarterback aligned toward the target. Jackson does this very well, and he will set his feet again if he gets out of the pocket (just like Mayfield). He works the short and intermediate parts of the field very well, and he’s got plenty of zip on the ball himself.

As a runner, everyone knows how good he is. It is almost impossible to keep him in the pocket, because his speed and elite change of direction are constantly making defenders miss. He has great vision and lateral quickness when he runs.

What can Jackson work on? Deep accuracy is an issue that shows up a lot on tape. If he can get his rhythm down more, he will see an increase in accuracy down the field. Something else to watch is his feet in the pocket. He sometimes forms a really narrow base, which can get him off balance. I think fixing that can help a lot of accuracy and rhythm issues.

Grade: Early Round 2

5. Josh Allen

Josh Allen is the most polarizing draft prospect from the NFL community as a whole. Scouts and analysts love his potential and arm strength. Allen does possess the arm to make any throw on the football field. There are examples on tape where he makes throw that most quarterbacks dream of making. He sometimes makes those throws on the run as well. He is a good athlete who isn’t afraid to tuck and run with the ball. At the Senior Bowl, he showed flashes of good touch and accuracy in some tight windows.

The issue with Allen is still the accuracy. Many will point to the fact that his receivers dropped a lot of passes. In reality, Jackson and other quarterbacks had a higher percentage of dropped balls. Allen has the arm strength, but the ball ends up all over the place at times. He also looks bad with pressure in his face, and he panics and throws to receivers who are heavily covered. Against good competition, Allen folded a lot under pressure. He is a project as a quarterback.

Grade: Round 3

6. Mason Rudolph

Mason Rudolph is often the man forgotten in this quarterback class, and he should garner attention. Rudolph is the ultimate rhythm machine at quarterback. He consistently gets the ball out on time and where it needs to be, especially on short, in breaking routes. He has everything on time and accurate to the catch point. Rudolph also has the arm strength to make any throw. He has great touch and accuracy on his deep ball, which you see multiple examples of on tape.

The issues with Rudolph make him someone who needs development. He often only looks for his first read, which was open a lot of the time. Rudolph operates extremely well when things are clean, but when the pressure gets there, Rudolph often folds.

Grade: Round 3

7. Kyle Lauletta

Kyle Lauletta gained headlines at the Senior Bowl back in January. On tape, you see a good rhythm thrower with very good ball placement. Lauletta does a good job of taking what the defense gives him. He’s also good at manipulating defenders. At the Senior Bowl, Lauletta stared at the safety off of play action, knowing full well D.J. Chark would be open.

The issues with Lauletta lie in the fact that he sometimes looks like it’s tough for him to get the ball where he needs to. He is a great processor, but sometimes the ball just doesn’t get there. His arm is not very strong, and that could be an issue if he can’t get the ball where he wants to on time at the next level.

Grade: Early Round 4

8. Mike White

Mike White is a name who I was intrigued to see at the Senior Bowl. In the game, he did not disappoint. White possesses a quick release which helps him get the ball out on time and accurately. When everything is working, White looks like he can play in the NFL. His physical tools are above average overall.

His issues lie in reading defenses. He will panic if his first read isn’t there and will often look to the check down. He needs to learn how to process and work through progressions. He does flash promise, and he could find a job in the NFL if he can develop for some time.

Grade: Round 4

9. Kurt Benkert

Benkert looked abysmal at the Senior Bowl with poor accuracy and decision making. However, he does have some positives. Benkert does possess a good arm that can make throws at all levels when he has his rhythm. He exceeds when he gets his footwork moving toward the target. When that happens, you see the flashes.

However, the issue with Benkert is inconsistency. There are times where he is just off as a whole and his play just withers away. He will throw with bad footwork at times and it shows in turnovers and wildly inaccurate throws.

Grade: Mid Day Three

10. Luke Falk

Luke Falk certainly has the production for a quarterback in the draft. He does get the ball out quick and works the short and intermediate areas of the field well when things are on. When he is kept clean he does show some promise.

However, the issue with Falk is sometimes his accuracy falls completely off of the table. If he feels the slightest bit of pressure, you see him panic in the pocket and make erratic throws. I just don’t see a lot of promise when it comes to Falk.

Grade: Mid Day Three

Agree with the rankings? Comments? Who are your top quarterback in the draft? Follow Jake on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 and discuss!

Also, tune in to our live show tonight and tomorrow @SportsGuysBlog! We will answer draft questions and give analysis on every pick!

2018 Mock Draft 3.0: Bills, Cards Trade Up, Packers Get Aggressive

The day is finally here! The NFL Draft is upon us! There is so much excitement building around the league, and plenty from yours truly as well! I won’t make this too long, because you have to get your final reading in before the big night! Let’s take a look at my last mock draft for 2018!

What’s funny to me is that 90 percent of these picks could be wrong. It’s the true beauty of knowing nothing at all.

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Browns have been doing a great job keeping things quiet thus far. With most not sure what will happen on draft night, the Browns keep with what many have thought the pick to be for months. Sam Darnold has plenty of upside, and will benefit from sitting behind Tyrod Taylor. He has the arm and the potential to be the savior in Cleveland.

2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

The Giants have consistently said that they are fine with Eli Manning and aren’t looking for his replacement. It’s tough to believe with Manning so far along in his career. But, if they want to make one final run with Eli, they need to give him help on offense. A trio of weapons in Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham, and Evan Engram is a darn good start for the Giants.

3. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Jets have also done a good job keeping things quiet. It’s clear they are targeting a quarterback, but analysts and insiders are unsure as to which one they are taking at three. Baker Mayfield feels like the pick. He rose big time in 2017 due to his arm and accuracy, but his leadership ultimately is the thing the Jets covet the most.

4. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, North Carolina State

The Browns could certainly end up trading this pick, but the better idea is to stay put. Even with Barkley off the board, the Browns get a blue chip pass rusher in Bradley Chubb. Chubb is a relentless rusher with the strength and moves to become a star. Pairing him with Myles Garrett creates a juggernaut duo off the edge that will haunt the AFC for years to come.

5. Buffalo Bills (from Broncos): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

The Broncos and John Elway lose out on the Baker Mayfield sweepstakes and decide to move down. The Bills are happy to make a deal, sending 12 and 22 Denver’s way (Elway squeezes 22 out of them) to get their quarterback of the future. Josh Allen will have to sit for a bit to learn and develop, but Buffalo takes a chance on his strong arm and potential.

6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

The Colts have their pick of almost any elite prospect they want. No one offers them a good enough deal for six overall, and they opt for the best player in the draft. Quenton Nelson can play right away and will be a key cog in protecting Andrew Luck for the Colts in 2018.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, Florida State

The Bucs desperately need secondary help moving forward. Here, they decide to take Derwin James. James pairs  with Justin Evans to form a real nice duo in the secondary. James can cover receivers and tight ends, blitz, and may just play some linebacker moving forward for the Bucs.

8. Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

The Bears lose out on their favorite guy in Quenton Nelson, but they still have plenty of options with the eighth pick. Every level on the defense could use some work, but the Bears opt to solidify their front seven. Roquan Smith was an outstanding player at Georgia, and he would fit in as a three down linebacker from day one. He can play downhill and sideline-to-sideline. He’s also not just a tackling linebacker; he packs a punch too.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

The Niners are still searching for their guy in the middle of the defense. Reuben Foster looked like he’d be that, but then he got into trouble off of the field. Now, John Lynch needs to move forward with a new plan. Luckily, Tremaine Edmunds lands in his lap. Edmunds, only 19, has sky high potential as a linebacker. His versatility is his best attribute, as he can play on the edge as well as a run and chase linebacker.

10. Arizona Cardinals (from Raiders): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Josh Rosen is finally off the board here. The Cardinals make a deal with the Raiders, who unfortunately don’t land one of the top linebackers. The Raiders pick up 47 overall in the deal, and the Cardinals get their franchise quarterback. Josh Rosen is the best pure passer in the drat. His mechanics and accuracy are unmatched, and he’s better out of the pocket than he gets credit for.

11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

The Dolphins miss out on a quarterback, but they turn elsewhere. The secondary needs some help in Miami, and Minkah Fitzpatrick can help the secondary in so many ways. He can play a deep safety, cover the slot, and even blitz. Miami gets a big time chess piece here.

12. Denver Broncos (from Bills): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

After a trade back, the Broncos are sitting pretty with two first round picks. With Aqib Talib gone, the Broncos could look to help out the secondary. Denzel Ward is a great fit as a physical corner who could help them out right away. His physicality and speed is a fantastic combo. Teams will still fear that Denver secondary with Ward’s arrival.

13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DL, Washington

The Redskins miss out on getting one of the top safeties in the draft, but their backup plan works out just fine. Vita Vea is a very talented interior defender with plenty of upside. The Redskins could pair him with Jonathan Allen to create a dominant interior duo.

14. Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College 

The Packers are rumored to trade up in round one, but it doesn’t happen here. Instead, Green Bay opts to help out the pass rush. Harold Landry has the quickness and bend to get around the edge with ease. He would likely start out as a pass rushing specialist on third down, but could quietly work his way into the rotation. The front seven now looks much more formidable in Green Bay.

15. Oakland Raiders (from Cardinals): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

After the trade back, the Raiders still have options with their pick. One of those options is to find a long term answer at tackle. Donald Penn is on the tail end of his career and the Raiders need serious help at right tackle. Mike McGlinchey could come in and play on the right side right away with the idea that he would eventually play left tackle when Penn retires. McGlinchey has all the tools to be a franchise left tackle.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The first real shocker of the evening! While the Ravens do need help surrounding Joe Flacco, instead they opt to move in a different direction. Lamar Jackson has the opportunity to sit and learn an offense while Joe Flacco plays out the rest of his contract. There is plenty to like about Jackson. He is electric when he takes off and runs. He is also a better pocket passer than people realize, and his arm and accuracy make him a potential franchise quarterback.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

The Chargers continue to fight injuries every year, especially along the offensive line. They don’t have a tackle of the future at the moment, so Connor Williams is the pick here. Williams was hurt in 2017, but his 2016 tape suggests he is a franchise left tackle. Los Angeles takes a chance on Williams here to build a strong line for Philip Rivers on his final title push.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA

The Seahawks have plenty of needs, with two of them being offensive line and corner. However, with Michael Bennett gone and Cliff Avril’s deal up soon, it wouldn’t shock me to see the Seahawks pull the trigger and select a pass rusher. Marcus Davenport is still a bit raw, but he has the power and speed along the edge from his athletic ability that is hard to find.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia

The Cowboys do have a glaring need at wide receiver. The problem is I’m not sure any are worth taking at 19 overall for them. They’d be better off waiting until day two for their guy at wide receiver. Instead, they opt to help reload the offensive line again. Isaiah Wynn has the versatility to play guard or tackle for them, and he gives them another powerful tackle with a good anchor and good athleticism.

20. Detroit Lions: Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

The Lions are continuously getting mocked defensive linemen, because that just seems like the way Matt Patricia wants this team to improve. Da’Ron Payne played very well down the stretch at Alabama, constantly shredding offensive lines to get in the backfield. The crazy thing? His best football is in front of him.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

The Bengals are a team whose offensive line needs a major overhaul. Getting Cordy Glenn in the trade with Buffalo helped, but it didn’t do everything. Here, the Bengals opt to get Frank Ragnow. He is a powerful center with quick feet and the ability to effortlessly work to the second level. Injuries are the question for him, and if he stays healthy, the Bengals got a good one here.

22. Denver Broncos (from Bills): James Daniels, C/G, Iowa

The Broncos second pick in the trade with the Bills likely puts them in position to draft offensive line. While most teams will be looking to draft James Daniels to play center, the Broncos draft him with the intention of playing him at guard. He is a quick and powerful player with a great anchor to hold blocks once he gets a hold of you. He would fit well on that line to protect Case Keenum and open running lanes.

23. New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

This is the name that many say will be a first round pick. Kolton Miller is very raw as a pass protector, but some team will fall in love with his athleticism. The Patriots do just that here. Miller reminds many of Nate Solder, who just left via free agency. The Pats desperately need a left tackle, and they go get their guy with the first of their two first round picks.

24. Carolina Panthers: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The Panthers need to add more weapons for Cam Newton in the passing game. Calvin Ridley would be a major help right out of the gate. He is a crisp route runner who can also take the top off of a defense. Don’t be surprised if Ridley sees 800 yards as a rookie if he is indeed taken by the Panthers.

25. Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Front seven is the name of the game for the Titans. Rashaan Evans fits in perfect with this team as a linebacker on early downs who can move over to the edge on passing downs. Evans run and chase ability is impressive, along with his tackling downhill. He is also very good at getting off of blocks to make plays.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DL, Florida

This has been the pick for the Falcons for so long that it might be too easy now. The Falcons could use some interior rush ability to complement speed rushers Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley. Bryan is raw, but his best football might just be in front of him. He could become a dangerous interior rusher.

27. New Orleans Saints: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

The Saints lose out on getting Lamar Jackson, so their focus turns to helping out Drew Brees on offense. Hayden Hurst is a great balanced tight end. He can stretch the middle of the field as a pass catcher while also getting involved in the run game as a blocker. He is on the older side coming out, but the Saints are in win now mode and get a nice tight end to pair with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

The Le’Veon Bell talks seem to be going nowhere, and he could only see one more year in a Steeler uniform. The Steelers may look for a running back of the future, and he falls right into their lap at 28. Derrius Guice is a do-it-all running back with three down potential in the NFL. He runs angry with so much power, but he has the lateral quickness and straight line speed to break runs for long gains. The Steelers wouldn’t lose a step if he came in.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

The Jaguars have so few needs, that Will Hernandez falling into their lap makes so much sense. Protecting Blake Bortles and paving way in the running game is important, and nobody plays meaner than Hernandez. He would start instantly and form a powerful duo on the left side with Cam Robinson.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, G, Ohio State

Minnesota, like Jacksonville, doesn’t have a lot of holes on the roster. The offensive line is still improving, and adding someone like Billy Price would only make it stronger. Pairing him on the interior with Pat Elflein would make Dalvin Cook very pleased about his return this season.

31. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

The Patriots use their second first round pick on some secondary help. The Eagles torched them up and down the field on Super Bowl Sunday, so adding a true cover corner is a priority. Mike Hughes is an extremely talented corner with excellent man coverage skills. He also has the awareness to find the football when it’s in the air to make a play on it.

32. Green Bay Packers (from Eagles): Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

A final surprise to end the first round. The Packers failed to trade up early in round one, so they sneak back into the end of the round for a cornerback. The Eagles are happy to trade back to acquire more picks, and the Packers get their guy. Josh Jackson has elite ball skills and mirrors receivers pretty well in coverage. He needs to continue to improve his instincts and physicality, but he can instantly provide turnovers to a defense that needs it.

Like your team’s pick? Who would you pick if you were them? Find me on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 to discuss all things draft leading up to tonight!

Join Nate and Jake as they live stream the first two nights of the draft, providing analysis and answering your questions all night long! Go to @SportsGuysBlog at the start of day one and two and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Strategies For NFC Teams In The 2018 NFL Draft

Draft day is finally here! The excitement is building as fans gather to see who will be joining their team in 2018. Before the festivities begin, Jake has plenty of draft reading for you to do! So dive in!

Hey guys! Instead of the usual mock drafts or big boards, this piece will analyze teams’ strategies for the upcoming draft. Here, we will take a look at every NFC team and what their strategy could look like for the weekend! Enjoy!

Chicago Bears – Help Out Every Level Of The Defense

Number of picks – Seven

The Bears have plenty to address in this draft, but the list was shortened thanks to free agency. With receivers and a tight end coming in to help Mitchell Trubisky, the focus shifts to the defensive side of the ball. The Bears could use help at all levels of the defense, and they could have their pick of the litter at eight overall. If Quenton Nelson is there, then scrap the defense first plans. Nelson would be excellent in forming a great interior trio with Cody Whitehair and Kyle Long.

If they don’t get Nelson, back to defense we go. If he’s there, Roquan Smith would be my pick for the Bears. He is excellent as a three down linebacker with sideline-to-sideline abilities. After that, Denzel Ward and Tremaine Edmunds are the next two the Bears should consider. Ward would help out the cornerback group immediately while Edmunds could be moved all over the front seven.

Let’s say the Bears go with Roquan at number eight overall. Next on the list would be some help at either corner or wide receiver. Corner would be the smarter move, with players like Mike Hughes and Isaiah Oliver available in that range. If they look for a receiver, D.J. Moore would be a name to throw out there.

If Chicago adds another weapon and fills the holes at every level, their fans should be pleased.

Green Bay Packers – Defense, Defense, Defense! And A Wide Receiver

Number of picks – 12

The Packers could have a decision to make at pick number 14. Rumor has it they might move up, but let’s assume they stand pat here. At 14, the obvious pick is either adding an edge rusher or a cornerback. With Denzel Ward likely gone by this point, the Packers should opt for either Harold Landry or a corner, my preference being Jaire Alexander. If either Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James is available, that further complicates things. I’m a huge fan of Derwin James, and I’d probably lean his way if he’s available.

In the second round, the Packers will also have a tough decision. Let’s stick with Harold Landry to the Packers to keep it simple. Green Bay should still be looking corner here, and shouldn’t hesitate if Jaire Alexander or Mike Hughes are still there. If they aren’t, then wide receiver is in play. Anthony Miller, D.J. Chark, and James Washington would all fit well in Green Bay. Chark can take the top off, Miller is very polished, and Washington just feels like a producer in that offense.

If they do indeed go wide receiver, the late rounds still provide cornerback help. Duke Dawson would be an excellent nickel player, along with Rashan Gaulden. Quenton Meeks is another to consider, but he’d be a better fit outside. They should also consider offensive linemen, since their right side is up in the air at this point. Braden Smith, Sean Welsh, and Alex Cappa should be on the Packers minds as well.

Minnesota Vikings – Fill The Offensive Line And Let Draft Come To You

Number of picks – Eight

The Vikings, like the Jaguars in my AFC article, don’t have a ton of holes on the team. However, the offensive line could use some help. Someone like Will Hernandez or Billy Price would be a great add for the Vikings in round one. They would help protect Cousins while also paving holes for Dalvin Cook.

After that, the needs get interesting. The defensive line could use some more depth. Luckily for Minnesota, the interior defensive line class is deep. Someone like Derrick Nnadi would be a great add at the end of round two. Further back, teammates Justin Jones and B.J. Hill are bargain players that can help push the pocket.

If they really want to, finding another pass rusher never hurts. I recently mocked Arden Key to them in round two, and he could definitely be there for the taking. However the Vikings play it, they will be able to pick and choose where they want to add depth in the draft.

Detroit Lions – Find Your Running Back and Help The Defensive Line

Number of picks – Six

The Lions are moving in a new direction with new head coach Matt Patricia. The team needs help in two major spots, running back and defensive line. The Lions could take Derrius Guice at 20, but the class is deep this year and I wouldn’t spend the pick on Guice (even though I’m a huge fan of his).

That means we are headed to the defensive line. Harold Landry could be available if the Packers pass, and if he’s there, he’s the pick. However, the Packers could take him, so it comes down to either Marcus Davenport or someone like Da’Ron Payne in the middle. If I’m the GM, Payne is the pick to start off the draft for the Lions.

After that, it’s about finding edge help and help at running back. One of the Georgia backs is my target for the Lions in round two. Either way, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are both excellent backs that can change a game. Later, edge help from someone like Obo Okoronkwo or Tyquan Lewis can make a lot of sense for Detroit.

Dallas Cowboys – Let Board Come To You, Draft Balanced

Number of picks – 10

The Cowboys are a flashy team, and they want to get back to that 14-2 season they had in 2016. However, the draft needs to go well to get back to that point. Dallas has gotten better with the draft in the past few seasons, and they need to do it again.

Let’s start with the 19th overall pick. Wide receiver is a need with Dez Bryant gone, but most receivers are a reach for me at 19. Offensive line should be the move here, and someone like Isaiah Wynn makes a ton of sense. He played tackle for Georgia in a tough conference, but he can slide into the guard spot if needed.

Round two is the sweet spot to take care of the receiver issue. Guys like Anthony Miller, Courtland Sutton, and James Washington. Any of those guys make sense for Dallas in round two. After that, it’s about helping the defense. Someone to complement DeMarcus Lawrence would be smart, and guys like Kemoko Turay could help out there. Interior guys could also be in play. Derrick Nnadi could certainly help, along with Maurice Hurst, should his freefall occur.

New York Giants – Bolster The Offensive Line And Defense

Number of picks – Six

The Giants certainly should think about the future, but management clearly believes in Eli Manning. Let’s say I believe in him as well, so trading back is a must. To do this, I’m taking 12 and 22 for the second overall pick, allowing the Bills to get their guy. With only six picks beforehand, it’s an easy decision. I also pick up a round two selection.

To start, help along the offensive line is important. I lose out on Quenton Nelson, but plenty of guys are still there. So let’s take a swing to help the pass rush with Harold Landry. Landry has great bend around the edge and will instantly boost what was a lackluster pass rush last season. After that, it’s time for an offensive lineman to help protect Eli Manning. James Daniels and Frank Ragnow are players to watch here, and I’ll scoop up Daniels to be the starting center after the departure of Weston Richburg.

The later rounds have the Giants looking running back and corner. Players like John Kelly, Royce Freeman, and Rashad Penny are players to watch for Big Blue. For corner, it’s players like Quenton Meeks and Tarvarus McFadden. The Giants can get back to where they were in 2016, and a good draft is the way there.

Philadelphia Eagles – With Few Needs, Look For Best Available

Number of picks – Six

The Eagles are the reigning Super Bowl champs, and they got richer along the line after acquiring Michael Bennett. This group can sit back and let the draft come to them. If Derrius Guice is available at 32, pull the trigger. He’s well worth it at the end of round one to be a bell cow with LeGarrette Blount gone. If not, the offensive line could use some help. If someone like Connor Williams falls to them, he would be the heir apparent to Jason Peters. If neither of those are options, someone like Mike Hughes or Isaiah Oliver would be good picks for a secondary that could use reinforcing.

Let’s say Guice is there and they take him. Their next pick is a couple rounds down the road, so a linebacker like Fred Warner could be available for them. Someone like Tyrell Crosby could be available as a right tackle with Lane Johnson moving to the left. In any sense, someone like Royce Freeman or Kerryon Johnson could become an early down back for the Eagles should they pass on Guice or avoid a running back early. The Eagles have options, and the board will dictate their moves.

Washington Redskins – Help Alex Smith And Boost The Defense

Number of picks – Eight

The Redskins pulled a stunner trading for Alex Smith in the offseason. The Redskins sent Kendall Fuller, one of the best slot corners in the league, to Kansas City in that trade. Washington has a whole bunch of needs entering the draft.

Their first priority should be to help out the secondary. With pick 13 in round one, they should be able to get either a top secondary player or someone to help the defensive line. Minkah Fitzpatrick should be their top choice. He can play in the slot or play with the defense in front of him at the safety spot. Derwin James is also a possibility for them there, along with defensive linemen Vita Vea. If both safeties are gone, pairing Vea with Jonathan Allen would be a great duo.

If they go with Vea, adding someone like Justin Reid or Jessie Bates in round two would certainly help. Jaire Alexander would be a great option in round two as well, but he’s unlikely to fall. Helping Alex Smith out would be another good possibility for them. D.J. Moore is an intriguing day two option, along with a big target like Courtland Sutton or Auden Tate. A good balance of picks to address multiple needs would help the Redskins back in the right direction.

New Orleans Saints – Pass Rush and Secondary Are Priorities

Number of picks – Eight

The Saints are a team that is contending for a Super Bowl title, but they could also be looking for a long term solution at quarterback. Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph could be in play at 27, but let’s say the Saints go with the short term idea of winning now. Getting more of a pass rush should be the priority for the Saints at 27, but there might not be a top tier talent waiting for them. Josh Sweat is an option, but teams may stray away due to medical issues. A final option for them is to get another weapon. Hayden Hurst would be an excellent option as a pass catching tight end to work the middle of the field. If Calvin Ridley were to fall, he would be an option. Let’s go with Hurst at 27.

As for the rest of the draft, the Saints could use some help to rush the passer to take the pressure off of Cam Jordan. Someone like Andrew Brown or Nathan Shepherd (even Hurst) could be available in the third round. Obo Okoronkwo is another name to watch as an edge rusher. Chad Thomas is a pass rusher not often mentioned, but he’d be fun to watch in New Orleans.

Helping the defense is a priority, but the Saints may be forced to go offense early without many options.

Atlanta Falcons – Reinforce The Trenches First

Number of picks – Seven

The Falcons are one of the rosters in the league that don’t have many holes. The only spots that could use some depth and improvement are the trenches. Atlanta will have options at the 26th pick. One of their main interests is in Taven Bryan, who would bring some pass rush from the interior. Da’Ron Payne is another interior linemen who would be a good fit in Atlanta. It sounds likely that Payne won’t be available, so Bryan is their best pick along the line. If they go to the other side, guys like Will Hernandez and Billy Price would be available. Getting an impact player there will be important for them.

If they go Bryan in the first round, the second round still offers help at the guard spot. Braden Smith and Austin Corbett are both very good guards who will still provide a day one impact. If they go interior line on the first night, then a falling Maurice Hurst could be the pick on day two.

Atlanta could also throw a curve in the trenches plan and go with a corner in round one. Jaire Alexander could be available and would fit perfectly in the slot. If they don’t address that position early, late round options do exist. Duke Dawson would be an excellent later round selection.

Carolina Panthers – Get Cam Newton Some Help

Number of picks – Eight

The Panthers need to find help for Cam Newton in this draft after trading Kelvin Benjamin last season. If the draft goes their way, they could have their pick of wide receiver at 24 overall. Calvin Ridley would be their likely selection, and it makes sense. He is a great route runner with the explosiveness to stretch the field. He would provide a day one impact. If Ridley isn’t the pick, it would likely be a cornerback. Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson are two corners who could find a home in Carolina.

If the pick is Ridley early, the Panthers would then shift their focus to defense. Corner and pass rusher are big needs for the Panthers, and adding someone like Donte Jackson or Sam Hubbard in round two would make a ton of sense. If they opt for a corner in round one, someone like Dante Pettis could make sense in round two. Either way, adding some combination of those positions should be Carolina’s move. If it were me, I would opt for a corner in round one and move on from there.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Help Out Winston Along With The Defense

Number of picks – Seven

The Bucs only have seven picks, so they need to hit on their picks in the draft. The secondary needs some work, along with the offensive line. If Quenton Nelson falls to the Bucs at seven, he should be the pick. If not, drafting a safety should be next. Derwin James would fit nicely with Justin Evans as a safety tandem. Let’s say that James is the pick in round one.

After that, cornerback and offensive line would still be needs. Isaiah Oliver is mocked to them in my two round one from last week, but they could also opt for Austin Corbett at guard to help protect Jameis Winston.

If they go with Corbett, finding help in the secondary would be the next priority. M.J. Stewart and Nick Nelson would be interesting options for the Bucs in the later rounds. If they refill the secondary and get some offensive line help, the Bucs are moving in the right direction.

Los Angeles Rams – Edge And Linebacker Are Big Needs

Number of picks – Eight

The Rams don’t have a pick in the first two rounds, so the draft will be a lot of late round talent to add depth to the roster.

Edge and corner are the biggest needs for the Rams after free agency. A couple options along the edge are Kylie Fitts and Tyquan Lewis could be good fits along the edge. Fitts is more of a pure pass rusher with the skill to come on in later downs, while Lewis has three down potential. He could move inside to rush the passer on third down.

The linebacker spot is the other position where the Rams need help. Many players exist in the middle rounds for the Rams to select there. Fred Warner is a prospect that many like as a linebacker who works through blocks and is a great tackler. Guys like Josey Jewell, Jack Cichy, Shaun Dion Hamilton, and Tegray Scales will all be in play for the Rams in the later rounds.

San Francisco 49ers – Linebacker, Weapons In Play For Niners

Number of picks – Nine

The Niners have options with their first round pick. The best option is to fill the need at linebacker with either Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith. They could move up to make sure they get one, but they should be able to get one of the two with their first pick.

In the second round, the Niners did trade away the 43rd pick to the Pats, but they do own the Saints second rounder. Offensive line or wide receiver would be the move in the second. Someone like Chukwuma Okorafor or Braden Smith would be a nice pick to protect Jimmy Garoppolo. Otherwise, someone like Dante Pettis would be a good pick for San Francisco, or a bigger target like Auden Tate or Deon Cain.

If they can add weapons and find their long term answer at linebacker, the Niners will contend sooner rather than later.

Seattle Seahawks – Secondary and Offensive Line Are Big Needs

Number of picks – Eight

The Seahawks are in a big transition. They still have their quarterback in Russell Wilson, but they need pieces back around him. Their defense is also going through a transition and could use more impact players.

I fully expect the Seahawks to look for a corner in round one, even though offensive line should be the focus. If it were me, I’d opt for someone like Connor Williams, but the Seahawks usually don’t take linemen that early. It’s more likely Seattle takes Josh Jackson or Marcus Davenport with their first selection.

After selecting Josh Jackson, they may shift to look for edge help later. Players like Jalyn Holmes and Jeff Holland could provide the pass rush with help in the mid rounds. They don’t have a second round pick, which hurts them a little.

In the later rounds, tight end could be a focus. Durham Smythe and Tyler Conklin are intriguing names late on day two or early on day three. If they opt there, they could fill a hole left by Jimmy Graham but get an all-around player to take his place and fit better in Seattle’s system.

Arizona Cardinals – Quarterback Is An Option, But The Roster Needs Help

Number of picks – Eight

The Cardinals may get the opportunity to trade up in this draft. If they can land Josh Rosen via a trade, they should absolutely do so. Rosen is the best quarterback in the draft and would be a player to build around in future drafts. If they stand pat, Lamar Jackson should be available for the taking.

If Rosen is the play early, they would likely lose their second round pick. Looking for offensive line help and corner help would be their strategy in the later rounds. Alex Cappa is a name being thrown around as a mid round tackle who could end up being a very good starter. Putting someone like Rashan Gaulden or Quenton Meeks opposite Patrick Peterson would also be a smart move for Arizona.

If the Cardinals stay put, they could get some receiver help early on day two. Anthony Miller or James Washington would work well under the mentorship of Larry Fitzgerald, then take over as the top guy in the near future.

However Arizona attacks the draft, they need to continue to add talent to a mostly lackluster roster.

Think your team has a good strategy? What would you do for your team? Follow me on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 to talk NFL Draft!

Also, join us for our second annual NFL Draft live stream @SportsGuysBlog on Twitter! We will stream the first two nights of the draft, so come with questions and discussion! It’s going to be a great time! See you there!

Strategies For AFC Teams In The 2018 NFL Draft

It’s like Christmas Eve in the air today. The NFL Draft starts tomorrow night, and the anticipation is getting to its peak. So much is about to go down on what should be another extremely entertaining weekend.

Before the craziness ensues, let’s get to a different type of article on the draft. Most often, you’ll see articles of mock drafts or player rankings and analysis. This time, it’ll be a little different. Here, we will roll through every teams’ best strategy (based on the opinion of yours truly) entering the draft.

Without further ado, let’s get started with the AFC teams.

Cleveland Browns – Continue To Build The Roster, Find a Quarterback

Number of picks – Nine

The Browns are in an excellent position to start their 2018 draft in the right way. With the first pick, they can get the quarterback that the franchise deserves. Whether it ends up being Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, or Baker Mayfield, the front office needs to get it right. After that, it’s all about finding the right pieces. If Bradley Chubb is available at four, the Browns shouldn’t hesitate. If not, trade back for the right price and add pieces to the secondary and at tackle, two positions that are in desperate need of filling. Two names to throw out after a trade back would be Denzel Ward and Mike McGlinchey, which would round out a great haul in round one. After that, it’s about finding depth at spots. More investment at cornerback is necessary, and you can never have enough help along the front seven. The Browns have plenty of picks to load up the roster, and this front office is much improved from previous years.

Baltimore Ravens – Load Up The Offense For Flacco

Number of picks – Eight

The Ravens still continue to boast a top defense in the NFL, but the front office hasn’t done enough getting playmakers in the building to help Joe Flacco. Now, with eight picks in this draft, the offense must be addressed. They have a number of ways to go with their first pick. Drafting a receiver seems likely at this point, but they should opt for an offensive tackle there to put opposite Ronnie Stanley. Connor Willams and Mike McGlinchey could both be there, and that would be a great start. Baltimore has good possession receivers, but could use speed and quickness as a complement. Players like D.J. Chark and Christian Kirk would be great adds. On top of that, finding a reliable tight end is a need. Having someone to trust like Flacco did Dennis Pitta during their Super Bowl run is important. If the Ravens don’t have one by round three, they will have to look for guys like Durham Smythe, Troy Fumagalli, or Ian Thomas. All three would be solid adds that late.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Secondary and Linebacker Help, But Also Look To Future

Number of picks – Seven

This will be a telling draft for the Steelers. With their roster now, they are still in place to make championship runs. Their trio of Ben, Bell, and Brown always make them tough. What they still lack is some pieces on defense. A lot of Thursday will dictate what Pittsburgh does in the first round, but linebacker and safety are the biggies. Guys like Rashaan Evans and Leighton Vander Esch are in play, but if they’re gone, Justin Reid should be in play. After that, a certain LSU running back has been mocked there. Derrius Guice would be a good move for a Steeler team that is unsure of Bell’s future. If they don’t sign him to a long term deal, running back becomes a need instantly.

Of course, life after Ben Roethlisberger has to be in the equation. Giving serious thought to a quarterback will happen soon for this franchise. However, the board will likely take them out of the equation there.

Overall, finding linebacker help (guys like Fred Warner and Josey Jewell in later rounds) and safety help (Jessie Bates, Marcus Allen, Armani Watts) are the priorities. If they can get guys like these on the roster, the defense will look more complete.

Cincinnati Bengals – Address Offensive Line Early, Help Dalton Late\

Number of picks – 11

The Bengals used to be a playoff team every year, but now they are sitting in mediocrity. Marvin Lewis is still around, but the Bengals need a good draft to find themselves in the playoff picture come January. It starts with the offensive line. Seeing major pieces of the offensive line leave in consecutive season has left it in shambles, even with recently acquired Cordy Glenn. They currently sit with the 21st pick in the first round, where they need to draft offensive line. Whether it’s a tackle like Connor Williams to play at right tackle or a interior guy like James Daniels or Frank Ragnow, that needs to be the pick.

After that, look for them to mix their picks between offense and defense. They could use a linebacker to pair with Vontaze Burfict, along with more help in the secondary. Christian Sam is a mid round prospect with some gaining buzz. Shaquem Griffin and Oren Burks are two other names to look for. On offense, the organization doesn’t seem to like John Ross, so it’s possible they will look for a receiver to help out Dalton. Michael Gallup and James Washington would be good complements to A.J. Green.

Overall, the Bengals need help at a lot of spots, so their 11 picks will help Cincy fill them.

New England Patriots – Get Secondary and Trench Help, Quarterback In Play?

Number of picks – Eight

The Patriots are in an excellent position to do as they please in this coming draft. They have four picks in the top 64, which gives them options. Rumors are swirling about the Pats trading up for a quarterback. If I was in their position, I would certainly consider giving up 23 and 31 overall for a chance at Josh Rosen.

If they don’t do that, adding four impact players in the first two rounds would be perfect. They need a franchise left tackle, so Mike McGlinchey would certainly be a great pick at 23. They could also look for Chukwuma Okorafor in the second round. On the other side of the trenches, getting consistent pressure is important (you can never have enough pass rushers). With no real premier pass rusher on the roster, I’d give Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport a look if they’re available at 23. In round two, someone like Josh Sweat or Duke Ejiofor would be good for them.

Let’s also not forget about the secondary. They were torched by Nick Foles and company in the Super Bowl. The 31st pick could be a corner like Mike Hughes or Jaire Alexander, two guys with excellent man coverage skills. Isaiah Oliver could also be in play as a longer press corner.

Whatever the Pats do, their needs are clear. Whether they trade back to continue to acquire more or trade up for a quarterback, they will be contenders once again.

Buffalo Bills – Get Your Quarterback and Protect Him

Number of picks – Nine

The Bills currently own the 12th and 22nd picks in the draft, but that could change on draft night. Don’t be surprised if they trade up. If it were me, I’d package 12 overall and second rounders to move up, keeping pick 22 if possible. Getting Josh Rosen would be huge for Buffalo. Alas, I don’t see them taking Rosen. If they have their guy marked, go get him.

If they are able to retain the 22nd pick, the offensive line is a likely pick there. Either James Daniels or Frank Ragnow make perfect sense with Eric Wood retiring. Building a strong offensive line for your new quarterback is key.

As far as other picks, the Bills should look at helping their defensive line and finding a quality linebacker late. We’ve mentioned plenty of linebackers, but someone like Oren Burks, Jack Cichy, or Fred Warner makes sense for them. The defensive line class is deep. Andrew Brown would be a nice pick in the middle rounds.

If they get their quarterback and get trench help, call it a successful draft for the Bills.

Miami Dolphins – Quarterback In Play, Line and Defense Priority Otherwise

Number of picks – Eight

The Dolphins, like the Bills, could move up to select a quarterback. However, if I’m the Dolphins, I would stand pat and roll with Tannehill worst case. If a quarterback falls, take him, but other than that, stick to your guns elsewhere. If Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith is available at 11, then there’s the pick. If not, look for an offensive linemen like McGlinchey, who has been mentioned a bunch in this article.

After that, continue to add defensive help and another receiver to replace Jarvis Landry. I have mentioned the depth of the defensive line class, and someone like Nathan Shepherd or Harrison Phillips will be in play for them. If Maurice Hurst falls, and he might according to reports, they should pounce.

Finally, finding a replacement for Jarvis Landry would be nice. Michael Gallup, James Washington, and Christian Kirk all would fit nicely there. Some later round names include Tre’Quan Smith and DaeSean Hamilton, the latter of which is a fantastic route runner who can thrive immediately.

New York Jets – Get Your Quarterback And Get Skill Positions

Number of picks – Six

The Jets got themselves into a position for a top quarterback with their trade up from six to three overall. They lost their second rounder in the process, but they were smart to get in position for their guy. Whether it’s Baker Mayfield or Rosen, either will fit in well up in East Rutherford.

After getting their quarterback, the Jets have plenty of time to figure out their plan in the rest of the draft. Their defense looked much better last season, but they still need help at corner. Players like Rashan Gaulden and M.J. Stewart could be mid round targets for New York.

After that, adding a running back and some receivers would be beneficial for their quarterback. Guys like DaeSean Hamilton and Byron Pringle would be nice adds in the later rounds, along with a running back like John Kelly or Jordan Wilkins.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Fill Your Small Roster Holes

Number of picks – Seven

The Jags don’t enter with many holes, but there are specific areas they can target with their picks. In round one, ideally they make a play for a guard or a tight end. It’s a little early for a tight end in this class in my opinion, but if they want the top guy, they may have to pull the trigger. Someone like Hayden Hurst or Mike Gesicki (depending on the type of tight end they want) will be gone by round two, so they need to weigh that carefully. As far as the guard spot goes, the interior line class is loaded, but they also need to consider that depth will diminish by the early going in day two. Players like Will Hernandez and Billy Price will only be available once. If I were the Jags, I’d run with the interior line first.

On defense, there isn’t too much to fill. One spot could be the linebacker position with Paul Posluszny’s retirement. There are plenty of linebackers to fill his spot, especially in the later rounds. Previous names like Jack Cichy and Jerome Baker would be good, along with Tegray Scales. There is value later for them.

Tennessee Titans – Replenish The Front Seven

Number of picks – Six

The Titans have interesting patterns when it comes to the draft. Not this time around, as I expect new head coach Mike Vrabel to convince the front office to address the front seven. Edge and linebacker should be the positions to target in round one. Players like Rashaan Evans, Marcus Davenport, and even Harold Landry may be there for the taking. Another name floating around is Josh Sweat, someone I am a huge fan of in this draft.

In the later rounds, the Titans could target another receiver. It seems odd with Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor in the building, but the Titans did meet with several wide receivers pre-draft. The Titans could pull the trigger in later rounds, and I expect they’d target a receiver who will take the top off of defenses. It might be too late for D.J. Chark, but someone like Deon Cain will likely be available for Tennessee.

Indianapolis Colts – See: Browns, Cleveland (Minus The Quarterback)

Number of picks – Nine

The Colts, like the Browns, need to start building the roster with talent at a number of spots. Indy GM Chris Ballard made a smart move trading back to the Jets spot at six, and it may be beneficial to trade back again. First, if they don’t, look for them to target Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson, or Saquon Barkley. They could take Derwin James or Roquan Smith, but the three former names are more likely at this point. I like Chubb and Nelson a ton, as does everyone, but if neither are there, a trade back could be beneficial. If they trade back, I expect them to for sure land another second round pick. The second round is loaded with talent for them to acquire. Should they trade back, someone like Harold Landry or Derwin James could still be available.

Let’s move on to round two. With a possibility of four (they have three already) picks in this round, the Colts can do some damage. In my latest mock, I had them trade back in round one, and they picked up Josh Sweat, Da’Ron Payne, Austin Corbett, and Mike Gesicki. The defensive line sorely needs help, as does the offensive line in protecting Andrew Luck. Luck also needs some more targets. Those potential four picks attacked those needs.

If Indy trades back, they can have a heck of a draft, adding young talent to boost a very underwhelming roster. I trust Chris Ballard to do just that.

Houston Texans – Protecting Watson Is Key

Number of picks – Eight

The Houston Texans moved up in last year’s draft to select their quarterback of the future, DeShaun Watson. That left them without a first or second round pick in this year’s draft. The Texans will need to do what they can late on day two and day three to help themselves out. They have a really strong defense, so their focus shifts to the offensive line. They brought in some interior help, but tackle is still a need for them. Later round help for them could include Alex Cappa, Chuks Okorafor, and Martinas Rankin, all three of which might be ready to go by the start of the year. The other area where they could improve is tight end. They had a slew of injuries at that spot last season, and are losing C.J. Fiedorowicz to retirement. Guys like Chris Herndon, Durham Smythe, and Tyler Conklin will be there to help that out. They don’t have a lot of early picks, but they can use their eight picks to move up and get someone they covet later.

Kansas City Chiefs – Address Pass Rush, Linebacker

Number of picks – Eight

The Chiefs look ready to explode on the scene once again with their offense in 2018. However, their defense still needs some work before the season. They don’t pick until round two, but they will be looking at the front seven to start themselves off. Someone like Sam Hubbard or Obo Okoronkwo would be a nice selection for them in round two. They could also look at the linebacker position, and they could opt for someone like Darius Leonard, who is a bit raw, but packs a punch.

Where else should they look? The secondary is still an area of need. They added Kendall Fuller via trade, but they lost Marcus Peters to the Rams. There are corners to target in the middle rounds, most notably players like M.J. Stewart and Quenton Meeks. Adding stability there would be good for a team that struggled mightily in coverage down the field.

Denver Broncos – Quarterback, Offensive Line, Linebacker In Play

Number of picks – Eight

The Broncos were one of the teams coaching at the Senior Bowl, so they got a great look at Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield during the week. It wouldn’t be shocking at all for the Broncos to target one of them Thursday night. However, they need to be extremely prepared, because the “top four” quarterbacks could (although not likely) go in the first four picks. Also, their guy might not be there at five overall. If it was me, I want Baker Mayfield for Denver at five, and if he’s not there, I would take a different approach.

The options at five if my quarterback is gone would be either Quenton Nelson or Bradley Chubb. However, if some team wants to move up to five, I would definitely trade back. Let’s say the Bills offer 12 and 22 for number five. If it’s me, I’m pulling the trigger and moving back. With the 12th and 22nd picks, I can target the pass rush and the offensive line. Let’s go with Harold Landry and Will Hernandez. Landry complements Von Miller well, and Hernandez gets to team up with Garett Bolles on a line that will protect Case Keenum.

After that, it becomes pretty clear. Linebacker is another need for the Broncos, but in the mid rounds, linebacker drops off to a point. So, another direction could be wide receiver. The era of Thomas and Sanders could be done, and someone like D.J. Moore, Courtland Sutton, and Anthony Miller could be in play. Those are all great options to boost the offense with Keenum running the show.

Oakland Raiders – Tackle And Defense Need Serious Help

Number of picks – 11

The Raiders have an opportunity to get this draft right and turn themselves around and get back to the playoffs. This draft needs to be a home run for a team that struggled last season.

First off, the tackle spot needs to be fixed. Donald Penn is aging and right tackle is a mess right now. Mike McGlinchey at number 10 overall makes a ton of sense, and he would fit well on the right side right away. The other option at 10 is to find the linebacker that they’ve desperately needed. If Roquan Smith is there, I’d be hard pressed not to pull the trigger. He would play right away and be a centerpiece in the middle of that defense.

After that, the secondary needs a ton of work. Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph are young pieces, but they can use more. Players like Jaire Alexander, Justin Reid, and Isaiah Oliver are players to look at for the Raiders in the second round.

What else can they do with their eleven picks? Wide receiver is one position to address in the later rounds. With Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson already there, it seems fine, but Nelson is on the back nine of his career. Someone like Equanimeous St. Brown would be a nice add with a high ceiling later in the draft.

Los Angeles Chargers – Help Trenches, Start Thinking Future

Number of picks – Seven

The Chargers dealt with so many injuries in 2017, but they still have a playoff caliber football team in 2018. There are plenty of directions for them in the first round. Safety, linebacker, defensive line, and offensive line are all needs for this team. It seems unlikely either top safety falls to them in round one, but they’d be obvious picks if they did. Defensive line is deep, so waiting on that makes sense. The one position they should look for is linebacker in round one. It’s probable that Rashaan Evans is there for the Chargers at 17, and I would make that selection for them in the first. Another option for them would be someone like Da’Ron Payne, who would bolster the line already dominated by Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Payne and Taven Bryan, another first round name flying around, would be nice picks there to develop for Los Angeles.

The next rounds for them could fall for them in a good way. As far as defensive and offensive line goes, Alex Cappa and Tyrell Crosby are names that could help the tackle position. On the defensive side, Justin Reid and Jessie Bates are safeties that could make an already potent pass defense better. Nathan Shepherd and Harrison Phillips are defensive tackles that will be available for them in round two.

The final thing the Chargers may look at is a quarterback. Philip Rivers has his days numbered in Los Angeles, and picking a quarterback could be the move in round one. Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph could be available for them at 17, and if they like one of them, that could happen on Thursday night.

What do you think of the strategies? Do you like your team’s? What are your thoughts? Follow me on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 and let’s talk! Also, join Nate and I @SportsGuysBlog on Twitter for our live stream on Thursday and Friday night! 

Schyvinck’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

We have a week until the draft, and the excitement is certainly building. Rumors continue to swirl about prospects and where they could end up. It’s almost exhausting in the last week, and many just want the draft to come to get rid of the rumors.

The most interesting rumor lies (of course) with the Cleveland Browns at number one. The debate sounds like it’s between Josh Allen and Sam Darnold, the two strong armed quarterbacks with high upside. They aren’t the most ready from day one, but they could pan out down the road.

Speaking of quarterbacks, many expect six quarterbacks to go in the first round of the draft. With plenty of teams having a need, including teams with quarterbacks at the end of their career, it’s likely to happen.

All that said, let’s take a look at this two round mock draft.

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Browns need to find their signal caller of the future, and they stick with the player they’ve been linked to for the past couple months. Sam Darnold has the arm talent to succeed in the NFL, along with the ability to make things happen when things break down. He will get to sit behind Tyrod Taylor and develop.

2. Buffalo Bills (from Giants): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

  • Bills Get: No. 2 overall
  • Giants Get: 12 overall, 21 overall, 53 overall, 2019 2nd

The first stunner of the draft. The Bills, seeing their guy is there after the Browns pick, make their move with the Giants to secure the second overall selection. They go with Josh Allen, another quarterback with high upside but plenty to learn. He needs to refine himself in the pocket and gain touch as a passer. He will also likely sit and develop.

3. New York Jets (from Colts): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Jets moved up a while back, but they are in position to get their quarterback of the future. Baker Mayfield gets a lot of negative press, but his on-field acumen is hard to beat. He has a strong pocket presence and throws with very good accuracy and anticipation. He also possesses the qualities you want in a leader. The bright lights won’t be too much for him.

4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans): Bradley Chubb, EDGE, North Carolina State

After getting their quarterback of the future, the Browns take the top defensive player in the draft. Bradley Chubb is a relentless pass rusher on the edge. He wins with strong hand placement and a top flight motor. He reminds me a bit of Derek Barnett in last year’s draft. Pair Chubb with Myles Garrett, and you have an intimidating duo off the edge for a long time.

5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

The Broncos miss out on their likely targets at quarterback, and they can’t find a trade partner here. Instead, Denver stays put and drafts the best talent in the class. Quenton Nelson is a better prospect coming out at guard that I’ve ever seen. He will start instantly next to Garett Bolles, and the two will protect Case Keenum very well.

6. Arizona Cardinals (from Colts via Jets): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

  • Cardinals Get: No. 6 overall
  • Colts Get: 15 overall, 47 overall, 152 overall

Another trade! After seeing the Broncos pass on a quarterback, the Cardinals move up to the Colts spot and compensate them handsomely. Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon aren’t long term answers, so the Cardinals get their franchise quarterback in Josh Rosen. Rosen is questioned off of the field for his leadership qualities, but you won’t find a better pocket quarterback in this draft. Rosen can make all the throws with great accuracy, and he is a better player outside the pocket than given credit for.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

The Bucs have needs on defense, but it’s not often a player of this caliber falls in their lap. Saquon Barkley is a game changer at running back, with the speed and power combination to shred defenses. Barkley can take pressure off of Jameis Winston and give Tampa Bay a strong running game. Plus, he will be dynamic out of the backfield as a pass catcher.

8. Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

The Bears lose out on their likely target in Nelson, but they can look elsewhere. The secondary could use some work, especially at the cornerback position. Denzel Ward plays extremely physical near the line of scrimmage, and possesses the speed and ball skills to succeed at the next level. The Bears now have a nice duo with Ward and Kyle Fuller.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

This pick wouldn’t make much sense, except that 2017 draft pick Reuben Foster is likely facing jail time. This creates a big hole at the linebacker position, one that Roquan Smith can definitely fill. Smith has the speed and instincts to play on every down, and the physical nature to punish opponents.

10. Oakland Raiders: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Oakland needs plenty of defensive help, but Donald Penn is aging and the right tackle position is not good at all. The Raiders get their future left tackle in Mike McGlinchey here. McGlinchey has had a fantastic career at Notre Dame as a powerful tackle with good footwork. He can eventually move to the left side once Penn is done.

11. Miami Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Miami is in the market for a quarterback, but they decide to go a different direction. The linebacker position is one to address in this draft, and Tremaine Edmunds fits the bill. Edmunds has everything you want in a linebacker, and he is only 19 years old. He also has the versatility to play on the edge, something the Dolphins could do considering their depth in that area.

12. New York Giants (from Bills via Bengals): Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

After trading back, the Giants can do a number of things. New York traded JPP to the Bucs, so a pass rusher is certainly an option. Here, they go with Harold Landry, who can instantly provide a spark to a pass rush that sputtered in 2017. His quickness off the snap and bend around the edge would be a key part of that defense right away.

13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DL, Washington

This would be more of a luxury pick for the Redskins, but if you pair Vita Vea with Jonathan Allen, you have a great young interior duo. Vita Vea lined up all along the line at Washington, and excelled at all of it. He has the quickness to get around blockers and the functional strength to push the line of scrimmage.

14. Green Bay Packers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

The first surprise of the draft is here. The Packers lost out on Denzel Ward, and they decide no edge rusher is worth it. Also, they feel confident in their safety group. So the pick here is Jaire Alexander, a player forgotten because of missed time in 2017. Alexander possesses the physical style, cover skills, and swagger to be a top corner. The Packers would like a King-Alexander duo.

15. Indianapolis Colts (from Cardinals): Derwin James, S, Florida State

After trading back, the Colts need to add talent wherever they can. It starts with the defense. Malik Hooker will be back this season, hopefully better than ever, but he needs someone to finish out that tandem. Derwin James would be a great fit to complement Hooker. He plays physical near the line of scrimmage and has the speed to play in coverage.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

A lot of analysts have a certain Alabama receiver mocked here, but in this case, a better Alabama player falls in their lap. This is more of a luxury pick for a team that still needs offensive help, but Minkah Fitzpatrick is too good to pass on. He can cover in the slot, blitz, and play single high.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Philip Rivers is still playing very well at quarterback, but at some point, planning for the future is needed. With two of the big six still on the board, the Chargers pull the trigger. While Mason Rudolph doesn’t have the buzz that the others carry, he does possess a strong arm and good touch down the field. He will fit perfectly sitting and learning for a couple seasons.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

The Seahawks are a team that is moving towards a rebuilding track. They still have a good core, but they need more young talent in the building. Now that Richard Sherman is gone, the cornerback group needs some work. Josh Jackson would be a perfect fit for the Seahawks because of his ball skills and anticipation on routes.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia

The Dallas Cowboys shock a bit here, considering their need at receiver. Before Dez Bryant’s departure, offensive line was a need. No receiver is really worth it here, so they follow the original script. Isaiah Wynn is a very talented tackle from Georgia. He played tackle his entire career there, but many expect a shift inside in the NFL. He could start his career at guard and possibly move to right tackle.

20. Detroit Lions: Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan

Fixing the defensive line should be a priority for the Lions. Ziggy Ansah is still there, but they need help on the interior. After checking out okay in the second round of checkups, Maurice Hurst is cleared to play football. Hurst proved on the field why he’s the top interior defender in the class. His quickness off the ball is tough to mimic. He will bring life to the Lions defensive line.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Bills): Connor Williams, OT, Texas

The Bengals did acquire Cordy Glenn from the Bills in a trade, but there’s still work to be done on the offensive line. Neither Jake Fisher nor Cedric Ogbuehi are panning out, so it’s time to look elsewhere. Connor Williams is an excellent pass blocker with a mean streak. While some believe he should move inside, there’s no reason he can’t start out on the right side for Cincinnati.

22. New York Giants (from Bills via Chiefs): James Daniels, C, Iowa

The trade back is looking good for the Giants. Up next on the list is to replace the loss of Weston Richburg. James Daniels is an excellent pick here for the Giants. He had an excellent career at Iowa, and he works to the second level with ease while also holding his own against top defensive talent as a pass blocker.

23. New England Patriots (from Rams): Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA

This is exactly what a Patriots pick looks like. Marcus Davenport has plenty of promise but needs coaching and refinement to maximize his skills as a rusher. Bill Belichick takes that gamble here and bets on the tremendous upside Davenport brings to the table.

24. Carolina Panthers: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The Panthers could go a lot of directions at 24. The defense needs some help along the edge and the secondary needs help on the boundary. However, they didn’t think they’d see Calvin Ridley fall this far. With no elite talent on the perimeter, the Panthers pull the trigger. They get an excellent route runner with the burst to break away in space.

25. Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

The Titans could use some help on the front seven, and new head coach Mike Vrabel will certainly want to address it early. Rashaan Evans is good value in the late first round. He can play right away and become a leader on that defense. He plays very aggressive and is very good getting off blocks, whether it be with his hands or his quickness.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DL, Florida 

These two are consistently being paired up in mock drafts, and the buzz seems to be that this could happen. The Falcons don’t exactly have a lot of needs, so beefing up their front makes sense. Taven Bryan is a little raw, but he has the physical tools to succeed in the NFL. 

27. New Orleans Saints: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The fall for Lamar Jackson starts here. Sean Payton has described this to be an underwhelming quarterback class, but that could be a smoke screen. After all, the Saints tried to move up for Patrick Mahomes last year. This time, no trade is necessary. Lamar Jackson is an electric playmaker with a very good pocket presence. Sitting behind Drew Brees would help him out a ton, and he can be an eventual franchise quarterback for New Orleans.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

The Steelers definitely need linebacker help after the injury to Ryan Shazier this past season. He isn’t the fastest linebacker in the draft, but Leighton Vander Esch is extremely effective as a downhill thumper. He is also solid in coverage and closes well to make plays. He would fit well in Pittsburgh.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

The Jags are another team with very few needs. At this point, strengthening the offensive line to create more lanes for Leonard Fournette and to protect Blake Bortles is the right strategy. Will Hernandez is a mean machine at the guard position. He showed out in a big way at the Senior Bowl and could start day one at guard.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, G, Ohio State

The Vikings don’t have a ton of needs either. Their offensive line could also use some depth. After drafting Pat Elflein last year, they reunite him with Billy Price. Despite a pectoral injury suffered at the combine, Price should be ready for training camp. Having him and Elflein in the middle will create some nice holes for Dalvin Cook.

31. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida

After adding Davenport, the Patriots now look to the secondary, which got torn up by Nick Foles and company in the Super Bowl. Mike Hughes would help the Pats right away. He is very good in coverage and has good ball skills down the field. He is another who fits the Patriot mold.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

The rich get richer here. The running back position isn’t as highly regarded as others, but the Eagles are happy to take a top 10 player in the draft in Derrius Guice. Guice runs like every carry is his last and he also possesses great lateral quickness. He can also be a three down player because of his prowess in pass protection. Guice, Ajayi, and Clement in a backfield together sounds pretty good.

Round Two

33. Cleveland Browns: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

The Browns get a smooth runner with some giddy up to pair with Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson.

34. New York Giants: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

The Giants follow suit, grabbing Michel’s running partner at Georgia in their attempt to retool the roster.

35. Cleveland Browns (from Texans): Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

Joe Thomas has retired, and the Browns surely don’t want Shon Coleman as their starting left tackle come September.

36. Indianapolis Colts: Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

The Colts trading back twice netted them plenty of picks, and they start the second round with a quick and powerful defensive linemen in Da’Ron Payne, who has tons of potential.

37. Indianapolis Colts (from Jets): Josh Sweat, EDGE, Florida State

They missed out on Bradley Chubb, but Josh Sweat is a very athletic pass rusher with plenty of prowess playing the run.

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

The Bucs could use some corner help opposite Vernon Hargreaves, and Isaiah Oliver is a long corner who plays well near the line of scrimmage.

39. Chicago Bears: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

The Bears continue to build a strong supporting cast for Mitchell Trubisky. D.J. Moore is an electric playmaker who will complement Allen Robinson well.

40. Denver Broncos: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

The era of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders is in the twilight stage, and Courtland Sutton brings a little Thomas to his game.

41. Oakland Raiders: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

The linebacker position is very weak in Oakland, and Malik Jefferson brings the speed and physical nature to reinvigorate it.

42. Miami Dolphins: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

Adam Gase loves productive tight ends in his scheme. While Dallas Goedert is a little raw, he has all the potential to be a number one tight end.

43. New England Patriots (from 49ers): Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

The Patriots continue adding on defense, bringing in Ronnie Harrison to use in coverage and near the line of scrimmage.

44. Washington Redskins: Justin Reid, S, Stanford

Justin Reid is an excellent safety who continues to shoot up boards. He will fit well on the back end of Washington’s secondary.

45. Green Bay Packers: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, EDGE, Oklahoma

It’s no secret edge help is needed in Green Bay, and the Packers opt for Obo Okoronkwo, who has plenty of potential as a three down player.

46. Cincinnati Bengals: Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State

It’s hard to know how many games Vontaze Burfict will play each season, and adding a physical, raw talent in Darius Leonard could eventually ease the burden.

47. Indianapolis Colts (from Cardinals): Austin Corbett, G, Nevada

The Colts need to protect Andrew Luck and find offensive balance. Austin Corbett is an excellent guard talent who can play right away.

48. Los Angeles Chargers: Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State

Adding a player like Nathan Shepherd, who caught plenty of attention at the Senior Bowl, would make the Charger defensive line very formidable.

49. Indianapolis Colts (from Seahawks): Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State

The Colts keep acquiring talent in the second round. Getting Mike Gesicki for Andrew Luck and the offense would get the passing game back on track.

50. Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

It’s finally time to find a replacement for Dez Bryant. Anthony Miller is a great route runner who wins at the catch point more than you think at his size. He’s also not just a slot receiver.

51. Detroit Lions: Lorenzo Carter, EDGE, Georgia

The Lions continue to build the front seven, adding an athletic edge player in Lorenzo Carter.

52. Baltimore Ravens: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

The Ravens get their speedster in the slot to complement Michael Crabtree and company.

53. New York Giants (from Bills): Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon 

Tyrell Crosby is a powerful presence in the run game who could start his career off at right tackle.

54. Kansas City Chiefs: Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Ohio State

After Tamba Hali’s release, the Chiefs need some depth on the edge. Sam Hubbard is an athletic edge rusher with a number of moves in his arsenal.

55. Carolina Panthers: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

The Panthers need help in the secondary, and Donte Jackson has the speed to garner attention in the early rounds.

56. Buffalo Bills (from Rams): Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

The Bills get an absolute steal late in round two to replace Eric Wood.

57. Tennessee Titans: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

The Titans seem to be interested in adding more receivers, and Dante Pettis has tons of upside and can start as a returner.

58. Atlanta Falcons: Braden Smith, G, Auburn

The Falcons add a solid guard in Braden Smith to fill the hole left by Andy Levitre.

59. San Francisco 49ers (from Saints): Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan

Offensive linemen go at a premium nowadays, so the Niners getting Chukwuma Okorafor would give them a lineman to develop to be their next left tackle.

60. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest

The Steelers still need secondary help, and Jessie Bates is a do-it-all safety.

61. Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

The Jags added a couple tight ends in free agency, but none are really top end quality. Hayden Hurst gives them a pass catcher who can also line up inline.

62. Minnesota Vikings: Arden Key, EDGE, LSU

The Vikings can afford to do whatever at the end of round two, and they pick up a pass rusher with plenty of potential, should he stay clean off of the field.

63. New England Patriots: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford

The Pats finish out their first two rounds with another defensive player. Harrison Phillips plays relentless on the defensive line.

64. Cleveland Browns (from Eagles): M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina 

The Browns desperately need corner help, and they get M.J. Stewart, a name that isn’t getting enough buzz right now.

How do you think your team did? Questions? Comments? Follow Jake on Twitter @JSchyvinck13.

Also, NEWS! Nate and Jake will be back again this year breaking down picks live and chatting with all you NFL and draft fans on Twitter. Go to @SportsGuysBlog on Twitter for coverage of the first two nights.