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.

 

 

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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! 

Kyzir White, A Solid Prospect In A Deep Safety Class

When it comes to the safety class in 2018, a few names jump out at you. Guys like Minkah Fitzpatrick, Derwin James, Ronnie Harrison, and Justin Reid will be the first names called next week. However, there are other names in the class that can be impact players for a defense. One of those players is West Virginia safety Kyzir White.

What Does He Offer?

Traditionally, most safeties either will play more as a deep safety in coverage, or a box safety who plays more like a linebacker. Obviously, with versatile defenses becoming more popular, many safeties are doing multiple things on defense. For a player like White, his best fit will be in a box safety role. However, that doesn’t diminish the impact he could have.

White plays extremely aggressive near the line of scrimmage. He has the build of a smaller linebacker which fits today’s NFL. His best trait is his explosiveness coming upfield, attacking downhill with good acceleration off the snap and the quickness to find holes and get in the backfield with ease. One of his best plays of the past season came against Virginia Tech. He was lined up near the line of scrimmage and completely blew up a running play with his explosiveness off the snap and his quickness to get into the backfield.

Above, I discussed that White’s best fit is as a box safety. However, he did play some in the slot in his time at West Virginia. The fact that he played in multiple spots shows some versatility in his part. This versatility could also land White a gig as a dime linebacker in addition to playing safety.

Where Does He Need To Improve?

While White is an extremely tough, aggressive player near the line of scrimmage, there are things that show up on tape that need to be addressed. For one, being aggressive is a good thing, but too much of a good thing sometimes isn’t good. Sometimes, that aggressiveness leads to easy missed tackles. I would like to see White refine his tackling form and get to a point where he wraps up more than he hits with his shoulder.

Another think White needs to work on is his footwork in coverage. He does play quick on the field, but there are times where he was lined up in the slot and he played extremely flat-footed. If White wants to be on the field more, working on his footwork and technique could help him get on the field as a cover guy.

The other concern with White is his speed in open space. When you see him running straight line in space, White looks significantly slower than other players in his secondary and (more importantly) skill players on opposing teams. If his play speed stays that slow, he will not be able to adjust to the next level, where players are bigger, faster, and stronger.

Projection

Right now, Kyzir White sits at a late day two grade for me. While he has plenty of prowess as a box safety and a safety/linebacker hybrid, he struggles a lot in space with his technique and speed. He will certainly find a role in the NFL, but he needs to continue to develop his instincts as a hybrid linebacker and his tackling form. There is upside there, he just has to unlock it.

White has a fit with practically every team that could use safety or linebacker help. Look for him to go on day two of the draft.

Follow Jake on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 for all things NFL Draft. Also, join Jake and Nate live @SportsGuysBlog on Twitter for the first two nights of the draft.

 

What Will Teams Get If They Draft Leighton Vander Esch?

I’ve heard a lot of words to describe Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. Here are some examples.

  • BAMF (shoutout to Stick To Football. If you don’t know, look it up.)
  • Hard-nosed
  • Brick Wall
  • Tackling Machine
  • Tough As Nails

When it was suggested I take a look at Vander Esch, I went in with a clear head of all the outside. It’s hard not to take in some bias with you, but part of learning in this area is forming your own opinions. So, I did, ready to see what Vander Esch would show me on tape.

Prototypical Downhill Backer Alert

After a few games of tape, it was clear what teams would get if they drafted Vander Esch. He is about as prototypical as a downhill linebacker can be. Vander Esch is excellent at reading and reacting to what an offense throws at him. He recognizes very well in the run game, and is quick enough to move around blocks and get into position to make plays. When he’s in position, he is not afraid to put big hits down on players.

After hearing he’s a big hitter, sometimes that carries a connotation that he isn’t a form tackler and wants to lay the big hit on every time. This is definitely not true of Vander Esch. He’s as sound a tackler as you will find in this draft.

Vander Esch is also good with his change of direction, which helps when he’s caught out of position. At times, you’ll see a play where he attacks downhill and comes up empty. However, he finds a way to quickly turn and chase down players in the open field.

We’ve discussed a lot about the run game with Vander Esch, but how about his skills in space? Well, his agility scores (which will be discussed below) show that he has the athleticism and ability to play just fine in coverage. On tape, it’s clear he has the instincts to hang with faster players in space and does well recovering with his athleticism.

Make Sure You Know How To Use Him

You’ll often get a mix of players that were used extremely well in college and some who weren’t used in the correct manner. Both of these are true for Vander Esch. There are many examples on tape of Boise State sending Vander Esch on a blitz. When you send linebackers on a blitz, you expect to see certain things. To be an effective blitzer, you want to see someone get a great jump and accelerate to the quarterback. Otherwise, you want to see good hand usage and block shedding abilities.

The issue is, that isn’t there with Vander Esch on tape. He didn’t get good jumps when he blitzed, and he was stoned at the point of attack almost every time. Seeing this constantly makes me wonder if the coaching staff saw this at all.

The conclusion here? Vander Esch fits very well as a WILL linebacker.

Athletic Ability Strong

Vander Esch didn’t overwhelm me at all on tape. He’s a fine player, and he will certainly excel at the next level. I just don’t see a big game changer. However, if you take a look at his athletic scores, they are off the charts. He tested very well in agility drills, while also posting 98th and 96th percentile scores in the vertical and broad jump. Those scores do confirm a great athlete on the field.

Projection

At this moment, I see Vander Esch as a solid second round player. He isn’t in the elite category like Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, and Rashaan Evans, but you will get a great run defender with the athletic ability to hold his own on third downs. He reminds me a lot of players like Blake Martinez and Reggie Ragland. They don’t play extremely fast, but they are certainly reliable players on defense.

A lot of teams need a reliable defender like Vender Esch, so based on what I’ve read, it’s likely his name gets called on the first night of the draft. Teams like the Chargers, Titans, Saints, and Steelers could all use help at the linebacker position.

For more prospect suggestions, follow Jake on Twitter @JSchyvinck13. Also, don’t forget, Jake and Nate will be live once again talking NFL Draft for the first two nights on Twitter.

Jaire Alexander, CB1

When the top of the cornerback class is mentioned, the names that come up are a select few. Most people you ask will say that Denzel Ward, Josh Jackson, or Mike Hughes are currently their top corner.

However, I offer a bit of an alternative view. None of those guys are the top corner in the 2018 class, because Louisville standout Jaire Alexander is that guy.

Why didn’t we hear about him as much in 2017? Well, for starters, Alexander missed about half of the 2017 campaign with hand and leg injuries. Also, he was on a team where the main attraction was quarterback Lamar Jackson, which is fair. To top it off, Louisville didn’t contend for the playoff like some of the others. But that’s okay, I’m here to tell you there’s plenty of time to join the Jaire Alexander bandwagon.

What He Does Well

When it comes to Alexander, his biggest fans say that you should throw out the 2017 tape. However, all things considered, it really wasn’t too bad, even with Alexander going through injuries. When you go to 2016, you see a true shutdown corner, and yeah, the proof is coming.

When it comes to coverage, Alexander can do it all. He works best when he plays near the line of scrimmage and gets his hands on receivers right away. He is physical enough to drive them off their routes early and disrupt timing between wideouts and quarterbacks. If he plays off, he still sticks right with receivers because of his iQ to recognize routes and his quickness to change direction.

There are many corners who play well in coverage in the short and intermediate area of the field, but lack the deep speed to stay with receivers down the field. Alexander’s 4.38, along with the tape to show, prove that he has that deep speed and can stay with anyone down the field.

Another thing Alexander brings to the table is his physicality and instincts along the line of scrimmage. He is an able and willing tackler, and he is very instinctive in attacking near the line of scrimmage. There are multiple instances on tape where Alexander blows a play up near the line of scrimmage because he sees it coming.

Let’s also not forget about the ball skills and how he plays at the catch point. Alexander’s best displays of ball skills show up in 2016, with one of the big highlights being his two interceptions of DeShaun Watson. One of those came against Mike Williams in coverage. Williams beat him initially, but Alexander had the recovery speed to close the gap and come up with the interception. Other than that game, you see a corner who aggressively attacks the catch point. He is relentless at getting the ball out.

Another thing that I am a big fan of. Alexander is a confident player, and sometimes his talking on the field makes him look arrogant. Richard Sherman plays the same way, and if you can back it up, do it. Even Jalen Ramsey plays this way.

Does He Have A Weakness?

Every prospect has flaws, as I have said before. With Alexander, it’s the aggressiveness. There are several instances of Alexander being too aggressive too early at the catch point, resulting in easy penalty calls. That’s something that Alexander will need to clean up. Another issue is the 5’11” frame that Alexander brings. There are times where bigger receivers will get the best of him. That issue does rear its head. While Alexander is very good in coverage, he does get too aggressive underneath, which results in him having to recover deep.

Where Do You Play Him?

There will be a debate as to where Alexander ends up playing. Most will favor the slot for him because of his size. He will be very good in that area, but why limit such a good talent to the slot. He continually shows he can play on the boundary, so why not both? Someone who can play on the boundary and in the slot is very valuable (I’m looking at Chris Harris and Casey Hayward).

Projection

By now, you know Alexander is my top cornerback, so he will receive a round one grade from me. However, not many mocks have him going in the first round. I think Alexander can end up going round one, but right now it seems like round two is more likely. Things can still change, but for now, that’s where he stands.

Rashaan Evans Is An Elite Linebacker Talent

The linebacker position is a position with plenty of talent in this year’s draft. Right now, the names near the top of most boards are Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds. Both players are going in the top 10 of most mock drafts right now. While he isn’t a forgotten man at the linebacker position, Rashaan Evans deserves plenty of hype heading into the draft.

What He Does Well

The first thing I noticed with Evans on tape is that he doesn’t just play in the middle of the defense. Alabama played him on the edge for a big chunk of snaps (mostly coming on third downs). That versatility is worth a look.

After that, you see a linebacker who checks off all of the boxes. Is he a sideline-to-sideline player? Check. Is he a powerful downhill backer? Check. Does he bring the tenacity as an aggressive finisher? Absolutely.

Let’s also not forget about seeing a linebacker (who is often the leader on your defense) never give up on a play and chase guys down to the best of his abilities. Evans does that too.

Something you definitely want to see from linebackers is their ability to shed blocks and make plays against the run. Evans is one of the best at this in the entire draft. Not only does Evans use his hands and his strength to get off bigger blockers, but he also has the smooth lateral quickness to make blockers miss entirely.

Another positive that Evans brings to the table is his ability to blitz. There is an art to blitzing from the linebacker spot, and Evans has it down. First, he has the football iQ to often time the snaps of his opponent (shows that he puts in the time in the film room). Second, he accelerates so well downhill that it’s often impossible to get the ball off clean before Evans has you wrapped up or hit hard.

Can He Play On The Edge?

Earlier, I brought up that Alabama used Evans on the edge on third downs. With that being the case, it’s natural to look at his snaps on the edge to see if he can be a guy to thrown in that spot.

Overall, he wasn’t that great on the edge. More often than not, Evans tried to use his hands and his strength to win one-on-one. Against bigger, stronger linemen, winning like that is hard to do. Evans did have some wins, but playing on the edge like that doesn’t often work.

I will say a couple reps flashed. He pulled off a wicked spin move against LSU, and he did get some bend on the arc a couple times. However, for the most part, his reps show that linebacker is his spot.

Where Can He Improve?

What separates good linebackers from great linebackers these days is the ability to play all three downs. On third down, of course, linebackers are expected to do enough in coverage to stay on the field. While Evans isn’t by any means slow, there are some tells that say he isn’t exactly the best in coverage. For starters, Alabama used him on the edge and sent him in to blitz. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in his coverage skills. There are also times where Evans gets flat-footed covering running backs out of the backfield, but that is easily fixed. Overall, Evans is fine in coverage, but he won’t wow you.

One other area for Evans to improve is something that you see with many young linebackers entering the league. Sometimes, Evans will get a little too aggressive, which results in some overrun plays and some missed tackles. This isn’t putting Evans’ tackling ability into question, but it’s something he just needs to be cognizant of as a player.

Projection

Overall, I am a big fan of Rashaan Evans as a player. He brings so much to the table, and that will likely lead to his drafting on the first day. He will provide instant impact for a team that needs help on the second level of the defense. His ability to blitz effectively and get off blocks will draw teams to him.

His best fits would be with the Cowboys, Saints, Steelers, and Titans. All four teams are in dire need of stability at the linebacker position (yes, even Dallas. Sean Lee just doesn’t stay healthy enough), and they all would love his ability to come in and play from day one.