2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC West

The NFC West fell silent for a few years after the San Francisco 49ers collapsed. It was the Seahawks division, with the exception of a few flash years from the Arizona Cardinals. But last year, the Rams emerged from the shadows and took the top spot within the division.

And even more interestingly, after a trade deadline deal that saw the Patriots ship beloved backup Jimmy Garoppolo to the Niners, San Francisco went on an absurd winning streak to close out the season and hint that the 49ers may be back.

Then there is the retooling in Seattle, that saw the team shake up the Legion of Boom. Cornerback Richard Sherman was released and he signed on with the Niners, partially in an effort to seek revenge on his old squad. With all this exciting turnover in the NFC West, how else did the teams add to the equation over draft weekend? Well the answer is below…

Arizona Cardinals: A
1.) Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
2.) Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
3.) Mason Cole, C, Michigan
4.) Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham
6.) Chris Campbell, CB, Penn St.
7.) Korey Cunningham, OT, Cincinnati

Entering the offseason the Arizona Cardinals said they were going to be aggressive in addressing their quarterback situation. Well, they did just that. The Cards traded up to the No. 10 spot and selected Rosen. And most interestingly, they didn’t have to give up a lot to move up five spots, only handing over a third- and fifth-round choice. Rosen, is arguably the best pure passer in the draft, but questions about his character bumped the other top prospects above him. With veteran leadership like Larry Fitzgerald in house, I doubt Rosen’s character will be an issue. And speaking of the future Hall-of-Famer, he finally has another quality receiving partner in Kirk. Kirk, isn’t the biggest target, but he makes plays and, really, what more can you ask for? He is a consistent playmaker and will really benefit having the opportunity to grow with Rosen. Cole and Cunningham provide needed depeth along the line.  Cole, could start sooner than later. Edmonds, is a small back, but hyper productive. He should excel in a third down role.

LA Rams: C
3.) Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU
4.) Brian Allen, C, Michigan St.
4.) John Franklin-Myers, DT, Stephen F. Austin
5.) Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia
5.) Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma
6.) John Kelly, RB, Tennessee
6.) Jamil Demby, OG, Maine
6.) Sebastian Joseph, DT, Rutgers
6.) Trevon Young, OLB, Louisville
7.) Travin Howard, LB, TCU
7.) Justin Lawler, DE, SMU

The Rams traded their first-round choice to the Patriots for Brandin Cooks, which left them out of the draft until the end of Day Two. When finally they got on the board they reached, to say the least, in selecting Noteboom. While he is massive, but struggles versus speed rushers. He may have to move inside. Adding Allen and Demby later on Day Three, shows how much depth the Rams wanted and needed to build along their offensive line. The line isn’t getting any younger and they need to develop some players to keep Jared Goff upright. The Rams really hit it out of the park in Round 5 with the additions of Kiser and Okoronkwo. Kiser is the ideal thumper for the Rams 3-4 defensive scheme. He should be an immediate help. Okoronkwo, should similarly help albeit on the outside. He lived in the opponent’s backfield the past two seasons at OU, raking up 17 sacks and 29.5 tackles-for-loss. He should excel under defensive coordinator Wade Phillip’s tutelage.

San Francisco 49ers: C
1.) Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
2.) Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
3.) Fred Warner, LB, BYU
3.) Tarvarius Moore, S, Southern Miss
4.) Kentavius Street, DE, NC State
5.) DJ Reed, CB, Kansas St.
6.) Marcell Harris, S, Florida
7.) Jullian Taylor, DT, Temple
7.) Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee

Mike McGlinchey, is a good pick. With a young, new franchise quarterback under center like Jimmy Garoppolo, you have to protect him. McGlinchey, could start on right side and eventually could play on the left side. Either way, Garoppolo now has a pair of bookend tackles protecting him. He also had a new weapon in Dante Pettis. Pettis, is a playmaker who can be a big factor in the return game as well. He is a good compliment to Pierre Garcon. With the the 22nd ranked pass defense in the league last year, the Niners clearly wanted to bolster their secondary. Moore, Reed, and Harris all have the potential to contribute. Warner, is a needed addition to the 49ers linebacking corps. He is a bit undersized, but can fly around the field and drop into coverage. A good class, but one seemingly with reaches all over the board.

Seattle Seahawks: C+
1.) Rashad Penny, RB, San Diego St.
3.) Rasheem Greene, DE, USC
4.) Will Dissly, TE, Washington
5.) Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF
5.) Tre Flowers, S, Oklahoma St.
5.) Michael Dickson, P, Texas
5.) Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio St.
6.) Jake Martin, DE, Temple
7.) Alex McGough, QB, FIU

I would really like to give this draft class a higher grade, but the offensive line has been in shambles the past few years and spending just a single Day Three draft pick to address it won’t get the job done. That being said Jones is a great value addition. He started 27 games at left tackle for the Buckeyes, that is consistency the Seahawks need up front. Maybe he plays on the right side in the NFL, but regardless he has starter upside. The selection of Penny in Round 1 was surprising. He is a big back who rushed for over 2,000 yards in his final college season. For a back his size, his production in the passing game is a considerable bonus. The Seahawks moved on from inside/outside defensive lineman Michael Bennett and replaced him with Greene, a near clone of Bennett. Greene, had 16 sacks over the past two seasons and could really excel in Seattle’s scheme. Griffin, a two year starter at UCF, has the ability to really excel. He has good awareness and can drop into coverage. He had an absurd 18.5 sacks and 10 interceptions over his final two seasons.

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2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC South

The NFC South is always one of the most fun divisions to watch. Each year a new candidate takes the mantle of division champ. Rarely, does a team go back-to-back seasons with the crown. A year after the Atlanta Falcons went to the Super Bowl, it was the resurgent New Orleans who reclaimed their place in the playoffs.

But not withering were the Atlanta Falcons or Carolina Panthers. Both teams made the playoffs under the wild card banner and Atlanta actually pulled off an upset in the opening round of the playoffs defeating the No. 3 seed LA Rams.

So where do things stand after the offseason? Pretty much where they were left following the 2017 campaign. There were no big changes in the division. When three out of four teams make it to the playoffs there really is no need to overhaul anything, it’s just a matter of continuing to fix up the spots that are under-producing. So, how did these teams fare? Lets give it a look…

Atlanta Falcons: B+
1.) Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
2.) Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
3.) Deadrin Senat, DT, USF
4.) Ito Smith, RB, Southern Miss
6.) Russell Gage, WR, LSU
6.) Foye Oluokun, LB, Yale

With no glaring need on the roster, the Atlanta Falcons were free to add to their roster as see fit. Nabbing  Ridley, arguably the best receiver in the draft, with their first pick was a win. Outside of starting receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu there wasn’t much left on the depth chart. Ridley will likely contribute immediately. Smith, another weapon added for Matt Ryan, was a strong pick as well. While he’s not the biggest back (Smith is listed at 5’9″), Smith is ultra productive. He had three straight seasons rushing over 1,000 yards and in those seasons racked up 40 touchdowns. Not to mention he added another seven scores off of 132 receptions. Oliver and Senat, add needed depth. The secondary play waned in 2017, so Oliver will provide needed assistance. Senat, much the same along the defensive line. With the mammoth Dontari Poe gone, Senat will help fill the void.

Carolina Panthers: B
1.) DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
2.) Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
3.) Rashaan Gaulden, CB, Tennessee
4.) Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana
4.) Marquis Haynes, DE, Ole Miss
5.) Jermaine Carter, LB, Maryland
7.) Andre Carter, LB, North Carolina
7.) Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami

The Panthers brought in a quality yield, but one thing sticks out considerably. They failed to address the hole on their offensive line left after -All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell signed with Jacksonville over free agency. Beyond that miss, the Panthers addressed many needs. Cam Newton has had a dearth of wide receiving options over the years, but Moore finally gives him a weapon who can lineup all over the field. In Thomas, they have a budding receiving threat who should learn a lot playing behind Greg Olsen. Jackson and Gaulden, address a defensive secondary that has failed to grow after the departure of Josh Norman. Gaulden, plays with swagger and may move to the free safety spot left vacant by Kurt Coleman. Haynes, adds youth and depth to their pass rushing corps. The team can’ rely on Julius Peppers forever. Haynes should learn a lot playing behind the future Hall-of-Famer. He had 32 sacks over his career at Ole Miss.

New Orleans Saints: C+
1.) Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
3.) Tre’quan Smith, WR, UCF
4.) Rick Leonard, OT, Florida St.
5.) Natrell Jamerson, S, Wisconsin
6.) Kamrin Moore, CB, Boston College
6.) Boston Scott, RB, Louisiana Tech
7.) Will Clapp, C, LSU

The Saints made a huge trade to jump up and select Davenport to open their draft. In moving up from No. 27 to No. 14, the Saints gave away a fifth-round selection this year and next year’s first-round pick. That is a lot to give up to select an edge rusher. Nothing against Davenport, he is immensely talented and could live up to the trade, but he is also very raw at this point. He  never had a double-digit sack season at UT-San Antonio. Smith, is a classic Saints’ receiver. He provides a big target, but is also raw, having only played organized football for five years. That being said, his numbers did go up each year culminating with a 1,000 yard campaign and 13 touchdown season to cap his college career. Leonard and Clapp, add needed depth along their offensive line.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B
1.) Vita Vea, DT, Washington
2.) Ronald Jones, RB, USC
2.) MJ Stewart, CB, North Carolina
2.) Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
3.) Alex Cappa, OG, Humboldt St.
4.) Jordan Whitehead, S, Pitt
5.) Justin Watson, WR, Penn
6.) Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin

Defensive tackle wasn’t the greatest need for the Bucs, but when a talent like Vea falls to you it would be foolish to pass on the player. Vea, is a colossal man and has freakish athletic ability. Paired with veteran Gerald McCoy, the Bucs may have just created the best defensive tackle tandem in the league. Jones, was a strong addition early in Round 2. He has the speed that makes him a threat every time he touches the ball. He’s not the biggest back, but the production is undeniable. How big his workload will be will be intriguing to watching. The Bucs had the worst pass defense in the league last year and clearly had to try and remedy that through the draft. They added two strong cornerbacks in Stewart and Davis. Stewart, has some off field issues, but has the versatility that is welcomed at the position. Davis, is a big, physical corner who isn’t afraid to mix it up in the run game. He doesn’t create a lot of turnovers, but broke up 29 passes in college.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC North

The 2017 season for the NFC North went through Minnesota, who had a miracle run with their third string quarterback Case Keenum. After second stringer Sam Bradford went down with injury and star rookie Dalvin Cook was also lost, it was Keenum who steered the Vikings to a NFC Championship appearance.

And after all that, the Vikings still moved on from Keenum…and Bradford for that matter, and even Teddy Bridgewater, who before a gruesome knee injury was viewed as a franchise quarterback for them. Instead, they went out and signed Kirk Cousins. A signal to all that the Vikings are ready to win now.

Despite going 9-7, the Lions fired their head coach and brought in New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to lead the team. It’s not a rebuild as much as it is a re-envisioning. The Bears also tabbed a first time head coach to lead them in Matt Nagy, the former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator.

But for all this hope springing around the division, the Green Bay Packers are still the sleeping giants. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers only made it seven games before a broken clavicle ended his season. The Pack also made a mini shift in Brian Gutekunst taking over the GM position from longtime leader Ted Thompson.

So, how did Gutekunst and the rest of the new look NFC North due this weekend? Here’s the breakdown…

Chicago Bears: B+
1.) Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
2.) James Daniels, C, Iowa
2.) Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
4.) Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky
5.) Bilal Nichols, DT, Delaware
6.) Kylie Fitts, OLB, Utah
7.) Javon Wims, WR, Georgia

The Bears did a stellar job. Their first three picks could all start as rookies. Smith, is the defensive leader the Bears have needed for a long time. With veterans Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan injury prone, Smith could wrestle a starting spot for himself sooner than later. Some may find Daniels selection curious with a quality guard in Cody Whitehair already in place. Whitehair’s best position is guard, so by selecting Daniels (a potential Day One starter), the Bears now can shift Whitehair back to left guard and suddenly the Bears offensive line is a real strength. With the healthy duo of Allen Robinson and Kevin White, the Bears needed someone to work the middle of the field and that’s Miller. His last two years he totaled 191 catches for 2,896 yards and 32 touchdowns. Fitts and Wims are quality late round additions with who could grow into serviceable players.

Detroit Lions: B-
1.) Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
2.) Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
3.) Tracy Walker, S, Louisiana-Lafayette
4.) Da’shawn Hand, DT, Alabama
5.) Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon
7.) Nick Bawden, RB, San Diego St.

The Lions were aggressive in first time head coach Matt Patricia’s first draft. If there is one consistent thread through all of these picks it’s that all the players are big and physical. Ragnow, should start Day One (if healthy) and man the pivot. He’ll bring some nastiness to the trenches and that’s always a plus. Bringing in Crosby later in the draft continues to bring depth and nastiness. Like Ragnow, Crosby is a road grader. A right tackle by nature, but may kick inside to guard. He has starter upside. Johnson, in Round 2, is an intriguing pick. He is a massive running back who just ran all over the SEC last year, racking up 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns, while flashing the ability to be a playmaker in the passing game as well. The only downside there is injuries. With a big back, you also get a big target. Hand and Walker help bolster depth along the defense.

Green Bay Packers: B
1.) Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
2.) Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
3.) Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt
4.) J’mon Moore, WR, Missouri
5.) Cole Madison, OG, Washington St.
5.) JK Scott, P, Alabama
5.) Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, USF
6.) Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
7.) James Looney, DT, Cal
7.) Hunter Bradley, LS, Mississippi St.
7.) Kendall Donnerson, OLB, Southeast Missouri

Last season the Packers drafted a cornerback and a safety with their first two picks. And as you can see this year, brought in two more cornerbacks at the top of the draft. That is an incredible amount of capital spent on the secondary. Alexander, is a playmaker, who make work best in the slot while Jackson and Kevin King (last year’s top pick) work on the outside. Burks, was a bit of a reach, but should contribute on special teams and sub packages. He’s a bit of a Swiss army knife. The wide receiver additions is most interesting. All are well over six feet tall. Moore had the best college career, posting back to back 1,000 yard seasons and 18 touchdowns over the past two seasons. St. Brown, is raw but has the size to be a factor in the red zone. Valdes-Scantling, is the most intriguing. He is fast and can fly down field. If he continues to work on better route running, he could be a factor. The Scott addition is also worth noting. In a division that is becoming more and more contentious, a punter who can flip the field is a big asset.

Minnesota Vikings: B
1.) Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
2.) Brian O’Neill, OT, Pitt
4.) Jalyn Holmes, DE, Ohio St.
5.) Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan
5.) Daniel Carson, K, Auburn
6.) Colby Gossett, OG, Appalachian St.
6.) Ade Aruna, DE, Tulane
7.) Devante Downs, LB, Cal

The Vikings really fleshed out their roster with this draft. Hughes, is a classisc Mike Zimmer cornerback. He should make his way onto the field sooner than later. He has off the field concerns, but should he keep things in line, he’ll be a factor. O’Neill, offers great versatility. He could start at right tackle, he could be kicked inside to guard. Either way, they needed help in the trenches and they got some. Holmes, didn’t do much in college, but that could be more of a result of having such tremendous depth at defensive end at Ohio State. He has upside and could develop into something special. Remember that time the Vikings missed a field goal in the playoffs against the Seahawks? So does every Minnesotan. Hopefully Carson can become a steady contributor. He’s got the leg, the accuracy is the question.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: AFC West

In a year that many expected the Oakland Raiders to plant their flag atop the AFC West, it was the Kansas City Chiefs who won the crown. In fact the Oakland Raiders completely fell off, so much so that coach Jack Del Rio was fired and former head coach John Gruden was finally coaxed out of the press box.

The Denver Broncos also took a significant step back under first time head coach Vance Joseph. The team still thinks they have enough on defense to make a Super Bowl run and went out and signed Case Keenum to steer the ship. He and senior personnel advisor Gary Kubiak have familiarity going back to Houston.

There’s also the Chargers, who actually took a good step forward last year despite once again being decimated by injury. The team looks to be in good hands with Anthony Lynn. He brought in coordinators with head coaching experience in Gus Bradley (defense) and Ken Whisenhunt (offense) and that brain trust seems to be really clicking. Maybe Phillip Rivers has one last playoff race in him.

So with all these ups and downs in the division. Who is up and who is down after this weekend? Well here’s the breakdown…

Denver Broncos: A
1.) Bradley Chubb, OLB, NC State
2.) Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
3.) Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
3.) Isaac Yiadom, CB, Boston College
4.) Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa
4.) Daesean Hammilton, WR, Penn St.
5.) Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin
6.) Sam Jones, C, Arizona St.
6.) Keishawn Bierria, LB, Washington
7.) David Williams, RB, Arkansas

It was a dream come true for the Broncos when Chubb fell to them. They had already set up a trade with the Bills, but when Chubb fell to them they called it off. Arguably the best prospect in the draft, Chubb paired with Von Miller should give the quarterbacks of the AFC West night terrors. Chubb tallied 20 sacks and 46.5 tackles for loss in his last two seasons. Jewell and Bierria, also help flesh out the linebacking corps. Injuries and age are becoming an issue in the middle of their 3-4 defense. Jewell, is a tackling machine and should help sooner than later. He has starter upside. The addition of Sutton, Freeman, Hamilton, and Fumagalli tells us that the Broncos are confident that Case Keenum was not a one year wonder. They are bolstering his arsenal. Freeman, will be the most intriguing to watch. He is a tank and develop a good one, two punch while paired with Devontae Booker.

Kansas City Chiefs: C-
2.) Breeland Speaks, DT, Ole Miss
3.) Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida St.
3.) Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Clemson
4.) Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M
6.) Tremon Smith, CB, Central Arkansas
6.) Reginald McKenzie, OG, Tennessee

The Chiefs draft class is perplexing to say the least. After trading away Marcus Peters, cornerback became their greatest need and they waited until the sixth round to address that need. Instead they decided to address the defensive line with Speaks and Nnadi. Nnadi, is a quality addition as he can man the middle as the nose tackle. But Speaks will likely sit behind Chris Jones and Allen Bailey. Then there are Speaks’ off-field issues that are worth noting. Watts and O’Daniel are the teams best picks. O’Daniel can step in at inside linebacker, a position long held by Derrick Johnson, but he was cut during the offseason. Watts, provides depth and possible succession plan to veteran Ron Parker, who is good, but the Chiefs could get more out of the position. Watts had six interceptions over the past two seasons.

LA Chargers: B+
1.) Derwin James, S, Florida St.
2.) Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC
3.) Justin Jones, DT, NC State
4.) Kyzir White, S, West Virginia
5.) Scott Quessenberry, C, UCLA
6.) Dylan Cantrell, WR, Texas Tech
7.) Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern

The Chargers needed to rebuild their defense and have done so in tremendous fashion. James, was considered a Top 10 talent, and they got him at No. 17. James and White, are tone setters. Clearly the Bolts are looking to charge up their defense and these two safeties can do just that. White, can play the ball while James enforces the middle of the field. It will be fun to watch their development. Most pressing was their need along their linebacking corps. Nwosu, really progressed well at USC. He capped off his senior year with 75 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and 13 passes broken up. He’s a problem off the edge, but he may take a minute to adjust to the Chargers 4-3 system. Jones, is the rock LA needed in the middle. He can clog up the running lanes. Jackson, is a good prospect, but had an insane workload.

Oakland Raiders: C+
1.) Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
2.) PJ Hall, DT, Sam Houston St.
3.) Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T
3.) Arden Key, DE, LSU
4.) Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin
5.) Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
5.) Johnny Townsend, P, Florida
6.) Azeem Victor, LB, Washington
7.) Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma St.

The Raiders did a lot of interesting things in the draft, none more so than the selection of Nelson and Hurst. Both were considered Day Two prospects, but Nelson was injured during a pre-draft workout and Hurst was found to have a heart condition at the combine, which he was eventually cleared of. Both players have immense talent and could develop into starters. They will be worth watching. Oakland also took a flier on Arden Key. He was viewed as one of the best pass rushing prospects in the nation coming into the season last year, but he was out of shape and tallied just four sacks after tallying 12 in 2016. If Key has gotten past his issues, he could be a steal. Clearly, new head coach John Gruden didn’t like the tackles he inherited. Miller, could start on the right side as a rookie before eventually replacing stalwart Donald Penn. Parker, will need some time to develop. He has starter upside. Ateman, is a big target to develop behind the starters. He could be a red zone weapon. A lot of risk and development in this draft class.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: AFC South

After Peyton Manning left the AFC South, the division went through a scramble for supremacy and all seemed to flounder. The Colts and (a healthy) Andrew Luck got first crack and got as far as the AFC Championship, then the Texans made a few runs into the playoffs and didn’t get too far, the same went for the Titans, but last year and the Jacksonville Jaguars were different.

Sure, the Jags went into the AFC Championship game and lost, but barely. The Jaguars surprised many in 2017 and they controlled portions of that game, but they simply left too much time on the clock for Tom Brady to do Tom Brady things. The question now is, can they make it back?

But then there are the Colts who look to have Andrew Luck coming back. The Texans will have Deshaun Watson back. The Titans have retooled with a new head coach in Mike Vrabel, and they made the playoffs under the wild card banner. This division is no longer floundering. Something special is building in the AFC South. Lets take a look at how they added to it during the draft…

Houston Texans: B
3.) Justin Reid, S, Stanford
3.) Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi St.
3.) Jordan Akins, TE, UCF
4.) Keke Coutee, WR, Texas Tech
6.) Duke Ejiofor, OLB, Wake Forrest
6.) Jordan Thomas, TE, Mississippi St.
6.) Peter Kalambayl, OLB, Stanford
7.) Jermaine Kelly, DB, San Jose St.

The Texans didn’t draft until the third round, because of the trade up to get quarterback Deshaun Watson last year. Despite, that Houston still came away with a quality haul. Reid, could start as a rookie. He’s a classic free safety with great instincts, proven by his five interceptions and 13 pass breakups over the past two seasons. Rankin, is a bit raw, but he has starter upside. He could stay on the left side, could move to play on the right side. Maybe he gets kicked into guard. No matter what, he’s a starter. Akins and Coutee, gives Watson some needed auxiliary weapons. As a second tight end, Akins could create some great mismatches. He is a raw prospect though. Coutee, is a burner who should help in the slot and on special teams. Ejiofor, an end in college may be moved to linebacker in the Texans 3-4 system, maybe he stays on the line as a five-technique, regardless he’s a quality pass rusher with 33.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks over the past two seasons.

Indianapolis Colts: B
1.) Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
2.) Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina St.
2.) Braden Smith, OG, Auburn
2.) Kemoko Turay, DE, Rutgers
2.) Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio St.
4.) Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State
5.) Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa
5.) Jordan Wilkins, RB, Ole Miss
6.) Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
7.) Matthew Adams, LB, Houston
7.) Zaire Franklin, LB, Syracuse

It was a bit interesting to see the Colts wait so long to address their receiving corps, but the plan of GM Chris Ballard was pretty clear. The Colts, who are in the midst of a massive rebuild, were going to rebuild the trenches. They took arguably the best player in the draft in Nelson. He’s a plug-and-play player who will start for 10 years. He’s special. Smith offers versatility, as he can also play tackle. Clearly, Ballard wanted to better protect Andrew Luck and he did just that. On the defensive side of the ball, Turray and Leis offer quality edge rushers. The team is moving to a 4-3 system and need classic edge players. Lewis, was a steady producer at Ohio State and can set the edge. Turay, is raw, but has special talent. He’s still new to the game, but he could grow into a nightmare for quarterbacks. The run of offensive skill players is much needed depth. Two names that most stick out are Hines and Cain. Hines has proven production and a playmaker anytime he touches the ball. Cain, is new to the position after being converted from quarterback, but has good size and has impressed so far. He is raw, but could developmental into a quality weapon.

Jacksonville Jaguars: A
1.) Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
2.) DJ Chark, WR, LSU
3.) Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
4.) Will Richardson, OT, NC State
6.) Tanner Lee, QB, Nebraska
7.) Leon Jacobs, LB, Wisconsin
7.) Logan Cooke, P, Mississippi St.

I don’t know who they do it, but every year the Jags bring in another exceptional draft class. Their first three picks could all significantly contribute as rookies. Bryan, is raw, but is a bull in a china shop. He fits in line with the toughness and aggressive nature that the Jaguars defense prides themselves on. The same could be said for Harrison. He’s a hammer over the middle and has some ball skills too. Chark, is an intriguing prospect. He has the size and athleticism to be special, but rarely got the chance to show his skills at quarterback starved LSU. Paired with Blake Bortles, Chark could really show off what he can do. Richardson, is a developmental prospect and a massive one at that. If he can continue to work on his technique, he could start in a few years. Lee, has everything you want in a quarterback he just has to put it together. A good developmental pick. Jacobs, will start as a special teamer, but could emerge as a starter.

Tennessee Titans: B+
1.) Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
2.) Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College
5.) Dane Cruikshank, S, Arizona
6.) Luke Falk, QB, Washington St.

The Titans, under the leadership of head coach Mike Vrabel and GM John Robinson, twice jumped ahead of the Patriots in the opening rounds of the draft. Both Vrabel and Robinson spent time in Foxboro, so maybe they knew something. Either way, the Titans gave up a lot to move up, but addressed their two biggest needs with two quality prospects. Evans, is a classic Alabama linebacker, who will man the middle and dominate. He has the athleticism to cover and blitz as well as any. Landry, dropped much to the surprise of everyone and the Titans were quick to put an end to it. Landry led the nation in sacks in 2016, but injuries and double teams crushed his ability to follow up the stellar campaign. Cruikshank, should hits hard and should be an important special teams ace. Falk, put up big time numbers at Washington State, but comes from a spread offense. He’ll have to adapt to taking snaps under center.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: AFC North

The AFC North seems to be going through a changing of the guard. For years it was the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm and the Ravens with Joe Flacco, but are close to the end. The Steelers lost in the divisional round of the playoffs and no other team in the division made it to the playoffs, a rare occurrence when considering recent history.

What is not a rare occurrence is the Browns in a total rebuild after becoming just the second team in NFL history to go winless over a season. To put a positive spin on it, maybe that was rock bottom? Now there’s only progress to be had in Cleveland and with new leadership in the form of GM John Dorsey, that progress could come sooner than later as the last administration left him a boatload of picks and a ton of cap space.

As for the Bengals, after an early flash with Andy Dalton and AJ Green, the team has cooled and is in dire need to rejuvenate their playoff hopes. Some are calling for the replacement of Dalton, which is overreaction, but the team does need to provide a better supporting cast. How did they do? Lets give it a look…

Baltimore Ravens: B+
1.) Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
1.) Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
3.) Orlando Brown Jr, OT, Oklahoma
3.) Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
4.) Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama
4.) Kenny Young, LB, UCLA
4.) Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico St.
5.) Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA
6.) Daeshon Elliott, S, Texas
6.) Greg Senat, OT, Wagner
6.) Bradley Bozeman, C, Alabama
7.) Zach Sieler, DE, Ferris St.

It’s pretty clear what GM Ozzie Newsom’s gameplan was in his final draft at the helm of the Ravens front office. The offense was clearly the Ravens biggest problem last year and they went all in to fix it. Drafting Jackson spells the end for Joe Flacco. Trading up to take him with the final pick of the opening night was smart. That gives the Ravens an option year with the former Heisman Trophy winner. Hurst and Andrews are two experienced and valuable targets underneath. Hurst started off as a baseball prospect, before flaming out and walked on for the Gamecocks. He’s an older prospect, but has the athleticism to excel. The Brown pick was not only a good fit and addressed a need, but Brown will also be playing for the same team his father did. He needs to get stronger. Of the defensive picks, but offer depth in areas of need. Averett, could turn into a starter on the outside in the future. Elliott is quality depth addition to the safety, as are Senat and Bozeman to the offensive line.

Cincinnati Bengals: A-
1.) Billy Price, C, Ohio St.
2.) Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forrest
3.) Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio St.
3.) Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
4.) Mark Walton, RB, Miami
5.) Davontae Harris, CB, Illinois St.
5.) Andrew Brown, DT, Virginia
5.) Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan
7.) Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo
7.) Rod Taylor, OG, Ole Miss
7.) Auden Tate, WR, Florida St.

The Bengals have brought in an absolutely stellar draft class. Price, will be a Day One starter. He injured his pec during the combine, but he’ll be back by the time the season starts. The Bengals clearly saw a weak secondary developing and moved fast to address it, bringing in three players to provide some depth. Bates, is a rangy center fielder. He gives the Bengals the ability to develop three safety sets, a popular trend spreading around the league. Jefferson, fills a colossal need and is a tremendous fit. He is a heat seeking missile, who should play on the outside. Walton, is an intriguing addition. He ran for over 1,000 yards in ’16, but failed to follow up last season due to injury. Woodside, is a quality developmental draft pick. Tate, brings needed depth to the position. He can be a terror in the red zone.

Cleveland Browns: B
1.) Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
1.) Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.
2.) Austin Corbett, OT, Nevada
2.) Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
3.) Chad Thomas, DE, Miami
4.) Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
5.) Genard Avery, LB, Memphis
6.) Damion Ratley, WR, Texas A&M
6.) Simeon Thomas, DB, Louisianna-Lafayett

The Browns kicked off the draft with the selection of Mayfield. Everybody has a different opinion on Mayfield, but when you just look at the tape, it’s simple. He’s a winner. A two time walk-on at Texas Tech and Oklahoma, he may be undersized, but he has the ability and the drive to succeed. Fingers crossed for the Dawg Pound. They’re a great fan base, who don’t deserve the trash heap they’ve had to deal with since 1999. Ward, was a bit of a surprise at No. 4 due to his short stature, but the talent is there. He had 24 passes broken up over the past two seasons. Corbett, will be worth watching. He’s capable of playing tackle and guard. Maybe he develops at tackle behind Chris Hubbard and takes over down the line. Callaway, is a classic John Dorsey pick. Highly talented, highly problematic off the field. Chubb, may be the most surprising pick, only because the team already has Duke Johnson and gave a big free agency deal to oft-injured Carlos Hyde. As a player, Chubb is an exceptional talent and could very well wrestle the starting spot for himself as a rookie.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B
1.) Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech
2.) James Washington, WR, Oklahoma St.
3.) Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma St.
3.) Chuks Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
5.) Marcus Allen, S, Penn St.
5.) Jaylen Samuels, FB, NC State
7.) Joshua Frazier, DT, Alabama

Edmunds was a surprise to some coming off the board in Round 1, but many within the NFL saw this as a possibility. He has quality ball skills, picking off six passes and breaking up seven more over the past two seasons. Allen, the other safety, is someone who can play in the box as well as provide the expected coverage duties. It will be interesting if the Steelers start running three safety sets with Sean Davis or move the veteran to cornerback. The Oklahoma State pair of Washington and Rudolph, will be worth watching. The team traded Martavis Bryant to Oakland, thus opening a spot in the slot – a place Washington can excel. The Steelers have been looking for Ben Roethlisberger’s heir for a few years now. Maybe Rudolph is finally it. Samuels, is an intriguing prospect. He played as a tight end, receiver, running back, and full back in college. Pittsburgh likes their H-Backs. He’ll be a fun weapon to use and try to create mismatches. Okorafor is raw, but has starter upside.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: AFC East

Despite having the reigning NFL MVP on their roster and coming off of yet another Super Bowl appearance, the New England Patriots are having somewhat of a turbulent offseason with noise surrounding the team and their relationships with said MVP Tom Brady and All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. Things seemed to have cooled recently, but some are starting to see possible cracks in the organizations foundation.

With that being said and the Bills coming off a season that saw them finally make it back to the playoffs, a strong Miami side in a mini-rebuild, and the Jets in position to finally land a franchise quarterback, intrigue was certainly swirling around the division.

Now, lets get right to it and see how things came together over the course of the weekend…

Buffalo Bills: B-
1.) Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
1.) Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
3.) Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
4.) Taron Johnson, CB, Weber St.
5.) Siran Neal, S, Jacksonville St.
5.) Wyatt Teller, OG, Virginia Tech
6.) Ray-ray Mccloud, WR, Clemson
7.) Austin Proehl, WR, North Carolina

The Bills maneuvered tremendously in Round 1, twice moving up and taking Allen and Edmunds. It was only a matter of when and how much it would cost the Bills to move into the Top 10 for whichever quarterback began to fall. It came to fruition at the seventh overall pick and two second round picks. Selecting Phillips in Round 3, could turn out to be a steal. He is the perfect fit for Buffalo’s 4-3 front. He will be a starter sooner than later. Adding depth to the secondary with Johnson and Neal was smart. Especially with Neal. He has the ability to lineup at either corner or safety. Teller, was a quality pick in Round 5. He has the nasty disposition that you need in the trenches, but the failure of the Bills to further address the offensive line is a problem. They lost three starters and their right side could have been upgraded, regardless of the losses suffered on the left side of the line. This is a big whiff, especially after drafting a franchise caliber quarterback.

Miami Dolphins: B-
1.) Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
2.) Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn St.
3.) Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio St.
4.) Durham Style, TE, Notre Dame
4.) Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona St.
6.) Cornell Armstrong, DB, Southern Miss
7.) Quenton Poling, LB, Ohio
7.) Jason Sanders, K, New Mexico

It’s clear that the Miami Dolphins are sticking with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. They reloaded the tight end position in order to give him both a safety valve in Gesicki and an extra inline blocker in Style. Ballage is the good compliment to Kenyan Drake and can help take the pressure off of Tannehill. He can be a thumper between the tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield. He had 64 catches over his last two seasons. On the defensive side of the ball they addressed their two biggest concerns in the secondary and at linebacker. Hopefully Baker will finally sure up the linebacking corps after years of failed attempts. It will be intriguing to see if the ‘Phins will use Fitzpatrick more at corner or safety, either way he’s an upgrade and brings the kind of leadership that head coach Adam Gase is looking for.

New England Patriots: B-
1.) Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
1.) Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
2.) Duke Dawson, CB, Florida
5.) Ja’whaun Bentley, LB, Purdue
6.) Christian Sam, LB, Arizona St.
6.) Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami
7.) Danny Etling, QB, LSU
7.) Keion Crossen, DB, Western Carolina
7.) Ryan Izzo, TE, Florida St.

The Pats caught some people off guard by selecting two offensive players in the first round. It was obvious during the season that the defense was the team’s weak link and yet they made an effort to further protect 40-year old Tom Brady with Wynn and give him an extra weapon in Michel, who is a special talent. In line with the “Patriot Way” both players were captains at Georgia. Dawson, in the second round, is an intriguing prospect. He was stuck behind first-round talent at Florida, but finally shined when given his opportunity. He could develop into a valuable slot corner, especially in today’s sub-package heavy defenses. The weakest link in the Pats defense in 2017 was there linebacking corps. They addressed that with back to back picks in Bentley and Sam. Both are tackling machines. Berrios and Izzo are your classic Patriot selections.

New York Jets: B
1.) Sam Darnold, QB, USC
3.) Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hayes St.
4.) Chris Herndon, TE, Miami
6.) Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane
6.) Foley Fatukasi, DT, UConn
6.) Trenton Cannon, RB, Virginia St.

All of the Jets fans’ prayers were answered with the selection of Darnold. Things didn’t workout too well the last time the organization drafted a USC quarterback in the Top 5 (Mark Sanchez), so hopefully things will go better this time. They paired him with a safety valve in Herndon later on in the draft, who could emerge as a starter. He was injured his final year in college and that hampered his development. Herndon will be worth watching, especially with Austin Seferian-Jenkins gone. The Jets took two developmental defensive lineman in Shepherd, a small school prospect who turned heads at the Senior Bowl, and Fatukasi who had a tremendous season in 2015 and failed to duplicate it.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC East

The NFC East is regularly one of the best divisions in the league and it is home to the reigning Super Bowl champion. The Eagles became world champions after a wild shoot out with the New England Patriots that left them victorious. Now, they have to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

The Eagles are getting back Carson Wentz from injury. The Redskins finally concluded the Kirk Cousins debacle by trading for Alex Smith. The Cowboys are now giving total control over Dak Prescott. The Giants are putting their full trust in Eli Manning and gearing up for one last Super Bowl push under new head coach Pat Shurmer.

There is a lot of exciting story lines in the division and that was all before the draft. So how did the NFC East fare in the draft? Did they manage to obtain the missing pieces to their puzzles or are the Super Bowl champs still king? Lets break it down…

Dallas Cowboys: B
1.) Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.
2.) Connor Williams, OG, Texas
3.) Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado St.
4.) Dorance Armstrong, DE, Kansas
4.) Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford
5.) Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky
6.) Chris Covington, LB, Indiana
6.) Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise St.
7.) Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama

The host team brought in a quality haul, but failed to address pressing needs. Before the draft the team cut Dez Bryant, then during the draft Jason Witten unofficially announced his retirement, and yet the Cowboys did not address those positions until Round 3 and Round 4. You can’t expect your quarterback to continue to grow if he doesn’t have a quality arsenal of weapons. That being said the team did take late flyers are a couple intriguing prospects in Cedrick Wilson and Bo Scarbrough. As for the early picks, they weren’t missed picks. The linebacking corps has been innjury plagued regularly and Vander Esch offers a wealth of potential. He’s a one year wonder, but if he’s a great fit. He just has to prove his one colossal season in college wasn’t a fluke. Williams, in the second round, fits a need at left guard. The offensive line is the strength of the team, it’s important to keep it that way. He should start Day One.

New York Giants: A
1.) Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St.
2.) Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
3.) Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia
3.) BJ Hill, DT, NC State
4.) Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
5.) Rocky McIntosh, DT, Miami

What is better than going into your divisional rivals home and swiping a better a draft class? The G-Men’s draft haul is an impressive one. Some have problems with Barkley going second overall, but look, the best player is the best player and Barkley has the potential to be a generational player. The Giants then turned around and helped Barkley by giving him an absolute road grader in Hernandez. What a perfect union that is. New York is switching to a 3-4 defense and need the right personal to thrive. Carter as a rush linebacker is just what they needed and to get him in the third round is tremendous value. In a similar vein, adding Hill and McIntosh to really flesh out the nose and five-technique along the odd man front is smart. Lauletta, gives the team another quarterback to develop behind Manning.

Philadelphia Eagles: C
2.) Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St.
4.) Avonte Maddox, CB, Pitt
4.) Josh Sweat, DE, Florida St.
6.) Matt Pryor, OT, TCU
7.) Jordan Mailata, OT, None

The team traded out of the first round to try and pick up some extra picks to help their cash strapped roster and then took those assets to move up and take Goedert. Yes, they have Zach Ertz, but Philly likes to run two tight end sets and Goedert can really work the seam and be a mismatch for defenses. Sweat, keeps the strength of the Eagles along their defensive line. He had 12.5 sacks over the last two years. Rounding out the draft with depth pieces at corner and tackle was wise. The most intriguing pick is Mailata, an professional rugby player from Australia who is trying his hand at American football.

Washington Redskins: B-
1.) Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
2.) Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
3.) Geron Christian, OT, Louisville
4.) Troy Apke, S, Penn St.
5.) Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech
6.) Shaun Dion Hamilton, LB, Alabama
7.) Greg Stroman, CB, Virginia Tech
7.) Trey Quinn, WR, SMU

To be honest, after the past few years I don’t have a lot of trust that the Redskins front office will do the right thing. That being said, they actually brought in a quality haul. The team had the worst rush defense in the entire league last year and needed to sure that up. They did so with Payne and Settle. Settle, could develop into the starting nose tackle, while Payne plays the five-technique opposite last year’s first round pick and former Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen. Guice, fell due to character concerns. Nonetheless, getting a first round target in the second round is always a plus. He could really help Alex Smith. Christian, is a developmental prospect with starter upside. Shaun Dion Hamilton, has serious injury concerns, but if he can beat them Hamilton has the ability to develop into a starter and a quality one at that on the inside of the Redskins 3-4 defense.

2018 NFL Mock Draft 3.0

It’s usually said because of a bout of excitement, but this year things are lining up to have this actually be the greatest draft ever. They say everything is bigger in Texas, well, tonight’s first round in Dallas may just be the biggest opening round in NFL history.

Most of the time at this point in the draft process you can break down the Top 10 with a fare degree of comfort, but not this year. It’s widely regarded that four quarterbacks (Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Josh Rosen) could all go within the first five picks.

If that is to happen, the Browns would have to trade down from the fourth overall pick. But even if Cleveland doesn’t trade down, Denver (at No. 5) and Indianapolis (at No. 6) have both announced they are willing to trade down.

So, if all these teams are willing to trade down that means teams are willing to trade up. Who are they? Buffalo already moved a lot of capital to get to No. 12, Arizona has publicly said they will be “aggressive” in their pursuit of a quarterback, and then you have Baltimore and Miami as dark horse candidates.

But there is a second issue that arises from a (probable) run on quarterbacks and that is a wealth of talented players at other positions being pushed down the board. Because of this reaction to the (probable) run on quarterbacks, teams like Green Bay are now incentivized to move up to get their skill position players.

It’s all crazy, it’s all fun. Tonight should be an all timer in NFL draft history and I can’t wait. So lets stop talking about scenarios and actually look at how things could break down. Here is the final mock draft of the 2018 NFL draft season…

1.) Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
(Rd 2: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma; Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forrest)
I’m just going to come out and say it…I don’t have a lot of confidence in this pick. Not a great way to start a mock draft, but it had to be said. It’s certainly down to Darnold, Allen, and Mayfield. It’s just a matter of preference. The Browns should select Darnold, but as proven time and time again — the Browns are gonna Brown.

2.) New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St.
(Rd 2: James Daniels, C, Iowa)
The only way Barkley doesn’t go here is if Darnold falls to them and even then I still have a hard time seeing the Giants select a quarterback. The team still believes in Eli Manning and adding Barkley takes a lot off of Manning’s shoulders.

3.) New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Again, Mayfield could go first overall and throw this whole mock draft off, but as I see it Mayfield is the pick here. Like the Browns pick, it’s a matter of preference. Here they will be looking at Mayfield, Darnold, and Rosen.

4.) Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
(Rd 2: Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida St.)
This is a matter of best player available. The Browns certainly could take calls from teams looking to trade up, but it’s hard to ignore a player who has racked up 46.5 tackles-for-loss and 20 sacks over the past two seasons.

5.) Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
(Rd 2: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado)
This is the point in the draft where we could really see our first trade of the night take place with either the Bills or Cardinals making the move. I can see the Bills making the jump, but even if Denver stays I think Allen is the pick here.

6.) Indianapolis Colts: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
(Rd 2: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida; Sony Michel, RB, Georgia; Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M)
The Colts are switching to a 4-3 defense under the new Frank Reich regime. With that they need someone who can lead their new look defense and fly sideline to sideline. Smith is that man. He ended his college career with over 130 tackles and 6.5 sacks. That is production the Colts haven’t seen in a long time.

7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
(Rd 2: Austin Corbett, OT/OG, Nevada)
Fitzpatrick is cursed by his versatility. A tremendous asset, but tricky when it comes to finding a role. He could slide, but for our final mock draft Fitzpatrick stays in the Top 10. Tampa finished last in passing defense last year. That’s a need that has to be addressed quickly when facing Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan twice a year.

8.) Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
(Rd 2: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama)
Last year the Bears moved up to get their man Mitch Trubisky, now they have to protect their asset. Nelson is a 10-year starter who can take the field on Day One. With the college game becoming more and more dedicated to the spread offense, the development of offensive lineman has suffered. Nelson is a rare prospect nowadays.

9.) San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
(Rd 2: Arden Key, DE, LSU)
The Niners selected Reuben Foster in the first round last year and due to severe off-field issues GM John Lynch has already announced that Foster could potentially be released. Edmunds not only addresses a need, but allows the Niners to wash their hands of the Foster mess.

10.) Oakland Raiders: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
(Rd 2: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas)
Look crazy? That’s because it is. The draft class is very obviously thin at the tackle position and in years past teams would wait to take a tackle, but this year it looks like the opposite happens. McGlinchey, could start Day One on the right side before taking over for veteran Donald Penn on the left side in his second year.

11.) Miami Dolphins: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
(Rd 2: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St.)
This is a dream come true for the Dolphins. Now, a team could very well trade up to fourth overall and select Rosen there or maybe he goes third to the Jets. But for this mock draft (which doesn’t mock trades) Rosen falls into the laps of the Dolphins.

12.) Buffalo Bills: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.
(Rd 2: Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon)
The slide stops for Ward. Don’t get me wrong, Ward is an immensely talented cornerback who is just scratching the surface of his talent, but slides happen every year. Remember fellow Buckeye Malik Hooker dropped last year? Ward lands in a great spot though and will form a formidable pairing with last year’s first-round pick Tre’Davious White.

13.) Washington Redskins: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
(Rd 2: D.J. Chark, WR, LSU)
This isn’t the pick I would like to see happen, but something in my gut says it could happen. The Redskins have been really doing their homework on the running backs in this year’s draft with Guice getting the most attention. I’d like to see Vita Vea go here, but alas Guice is the pick.

14.) Green Bay Packers: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
(Rd 2: Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia)
Hughes comes with some baggage off the field, if the Packers feel comfortable with things, they add a much needed piece on defense. He’s a bit raw, as last year was his lone year starting, but he turned in a quality campaign with four interceptions and 11 passes broken up.

15.) Arizona Cardinals: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.
(Rd 2: Luke Falk, QB, Washington St.)
Similar to Hughes, Vander Esch is a one year wonder and what a year it was. As a redshirt junior, Vander Esch tallied 141 tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions. The Cardinals are switching to a 4-3 defense and need a traditional linebacker to man the middle.

16.) Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
(Rd 2: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma)
I have had Jackson all over the board in my mock drafts and I keep coming back to the Ravens. Joe Flacco looks to be on the back nine of his career, but with his presence it allows Jackson to sit and develop behind him. Jackson is the most intriguing prospect in this year’s draft. If he puts it together, he could be special.

17.) LA Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida St.
(Rd 2: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford)
James is a wild card. He could go Top 10, he could fall to the Chargers. If he does fall, he falls into a perfect situation. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley helped build the Seattle’s Super Bowl winning defense. If LA can bring in a Kam Chancellor-type of safety, as Derwin has been compared, nobody knows how to utilize his talents better than Bradley.

18.) Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Davenport is a raw prospect, but offers so much potential. He lived in the backfield his last two years at UT-San Antonio, racking up 27 tackles-for-loss and 15 sacks. With Seattle having lost Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson, and Malik McDowell this offseason  and Cliff Avril nearing the end of his career an injection of youth is needed

19.) Dallas Cowboys: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
(Rd 2: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma St.)
I know, I know. Every mock draft says the Cowboys will take a wide receiver and if Vita Vea goes earlier than this, I promise you they will. But if Vea manages to slide this far down the draft, the Cowboys will have no choice, but to take him. Vea is a Top 10 talent, but because this draft is going to be so crazy, this has the possibility of happening.

20.) Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
(Rd 2: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia)
Everything here screams Landry. The Lions need more of a pass rushing options than just Ziggy Ansah. Not to mention new defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni coached Landry at BC. Paired with Ansah, Landry has the ability to get back to his 2016 self when he racked up 22 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks.

21.) Cincinnati Bengals: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
(Rd 2: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio St.)
The Bengals offensive line had been a mess for a few years, then they let veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth walk via free agency last offseason. Needless to say things got worse. Hernandez, is an absolute road grader who can stabilize the line.

22.) Buffalo Bills: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma St.
(Rd 2: Rashad Penny, RB, San Diego St.)
If the Bills can’t make the trade up to the fifth overall pick, Rudolph becomes their man. It may be a reach, but there are few teams as desperate for a quarterback as the Bills. They did sign A.J. McCarron, but that’s not enough.

23.) New England Patriots: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
(Rd 2: Rasheem Greene, DE, USC)
Evans is the versatile linebacking option the Patriots sorely missed when Dont’a Hightower went down with an injury and was lost for the season. Most importantly Evans has the speed to cover running backs and tight ends, another quality their linebacking corps has missed for a few years now.

24.) Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
(Rd 2: Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio St.)
Moore broke out in 2017, recording 80 catches for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. He followed that up with a stellar combine and the arrow has been pointing up ever since. The Panthers have had a dearth of weapons for Cam Newton to utilize and then traded away Kelvin Benjamin at the trade deadline last year. Moore will be a welcomed addition.

25.) Tennessee Titans: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
(Rd 2: Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa)
I’ve had this pick penciled in before, erased it, and now have come back to it. The Titans are in a tricky spot. They need an inside linebacker badly and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move up and take one of the top four options (there is a considerable drop off in talent after that). But if Jackson does come off the board here, it would be with the intention to move him to safety.

26.) Atlanta Falcons: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
(Rd 2: Connor Williams, OT/OG, Texas)
The Falcons lost veteran Dontari Poe via free agency and now have big shoes to fix. Atlanta already has a budding playmaker in Grady Jarrett and now need to pair him with a big body to close the running lanes. Payne was built just for that.

27.) New Orleans Saints: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Sutton has been rising up draft boards steadily throughout the process and understandably so. There simply aren’t a lot of receivers who have Sutton’s size, foot work, and ball skills. In back-to-back seasons Sutton went over the 1,000 yard mark and brought in a combined 22 touchdowns.

28.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
(Rd 2: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia)
For years now, the Steelers have been pouring high draft capital into their defense and yet they have still failed to fix the problem. At safety former-second round pick Sean Davis has failed to be consistent and Mike Mitchell was released. Reid, improved considerably each year and capped off his college career with five picks.

29.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
(Rd 2: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama)
Some people have Hurst going higher, but I can’t see a team using too high a draft pick on a prospect who will be 25 years old at the start of the season. That being said, Hayden is arguably the best prospect at his position.

30.) Minnesota Vikings: Frank Ragnow, OG, Arkansas
(Rd 2: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan)
When veteran Joe Berger retired earlier this spring, it left a glaring hole along the teams offensive line. Ragnow, could be a Day One starter and offers versatility, having also played center for the Razorbacks.

31.) New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
(Rd 2: Ronald Jones, RB, USC)
After veteran left tackle Nate Solder left for the Giants via free agency, left tackle became the teams most pressing need. Miller has the height, length, and footwork to succeed on the edge in the NFL, but comes with some injury concerns. If Miller can stay healthy and continue to improve on a impressive 2017 campaign, Tom Brady will be happy.

32.) Philadelphia Eagles: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Super Bowl champs had the 17th ranked pass defense last year and then lost three players at cornerback. That’s not a good combination. Alexander, has his medical concerns, but his playmaking ability is unmistakable. He has the speed and swagger to succeed on the outside in the NFL, but may start out as a nickle corner.

54.) Kansas City Chiefs: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

2018 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

We are less than two weeks away and yet the draft still can’t come soon enough. We’ve already seen three trades reshape the draft with the New York Jets trading into the Top 3, the Buffalo Bills trading into the Top 15, and more recently the New England Patriots picking up another first-round pick, the No. 23 overall.

And you know the trades aren’t done yet.

On draft day last year, every top quarterback in the draft – Mitch Trubisky, Pat Mahomes, and Deshaun Watson – was landed after a team traded up on draft night. Could the same thing happen again? There’s a very strong possibility with a number of teams (Denver, Miami, Buffalo, Arizona) all within range of a big move up.

The only question after that is, will any quarterback be around to even trade up for? There’s a strong possibility that at least three quarterbacks (Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen) will go within the first five selections and it is not beyond the realm of possibility that a fourth quarterback could be selected within the first four should somebody become enamored enough with another top prospect (Baker Mayfield) to jump ahead of the Denver Broncos who stand looming with the fifth overall pick.

So where will Darnold, Allen, Rosen, and Mayfield land? Glad you asked. Each year we release three mock drafts. For this second one things may look crazy, but that’s because we are buying stock in all the rumors. So lets get to it. If rumors stand as truth here is our mock draft projections for the 2018 NFL Draft…

1.) Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Sure Allen could do well in the league, but this move is antithetical to almost every statistic. New GM John Dorsey likes his quaterbacks to have a cannon for an arm and Allen fits that bill.

2.) New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St.
There is a feeling within the Giants organization that the window is still open with Eli Manning at the helm. While the end is close for Manning, if they believe they can win now, they need to give him weapons. Barkley can take a lot off of Manning’s plate.

3.) New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Rosen over Darnold? Believe it. At this moment it seems like Rosen and Mayfield are the two favorites with the Jets. Rosen, all in all, is a good fit and can start right away, which is what the Jets need. With Josh McCown coming back, Rosen would have a good mentor in the building.

4.) Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.
While Ward isn’t the biggest cornerback in the draft, he may be one of the most skilled. Ward, had to sit behind two first-round picks at OSU before finally getting his shot to start in 2017 and he made the most of it. Ward, could be a Day One starter.

5.) Denver Broncos: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Finally, Darnold comes off the board and lands in a perfect scenario. With plenty of weapons on offense and a loaded defense, Darnold could certainly steer this team to the playoffs, should new man Case Keenum not work out.

6.) Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
The great thing about the Colts moving back and collecting picks, is that the roster is so depleted that any addition is a plus. Chubb, adds the pass rusher the Colts haven’t had since the days of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
The Bucs defense was a disaster last year and really need help in the secondary. Fitzpatrick, is the duel threat many teams are looking for nowadays as a player who can lineup at safety or cornerback. He should help raise the Bucs from their 32nd ranked pass defense last season.

8.) Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
This is pick just makes too much sense. Nelson, is a Day One starter who can help last year’s first round pick Mitch Trubisky.

9.) San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Smith, is a classic sideline to sideline player and in defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s Seattle Seahawks style defense, Smith’s abilities will be gladly welcomed. Smith forms a nice duo with last year’s first round pick Reuben Foster.

10.) Oakland Radiers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Raiders lost three cornerbacks over free agency; Sean Smith, David Amerson, and TJ Carrie. Factor in that last year’s first round pick Gareon Conley only appeared in two games last year, a major overhaul is needed. With that being said Alexander seems like the best option here.

11.) Miami Dolphins: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
This is a dream come true for the Dolphins, but in reality they may have to trade into the Top 5 of the draft to get their man. Mayfield comes with some question marks, but he is a leader who wins. Can’t ask for much more than that.

12.) Buffalo Bills: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
At this point Edmunds is just too good a prospect to let slip any further. They need a big body in their linebacking corps and Edmunds can do the job. He’s a physical freak, who can make plays all over the field.

13.) Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Vea is one of the most talented players in the draft and is a mountain of a man, which is precisely what the Redskins need. The Redskins had the worst run defense in league last year and their defensive line is thin on talent. Vea is the nose tackle they need.

14.) Green Bay Packers: Derwin James, S, Florida St.
Like the Radiers, the Packers are in the midst of overhauling their secondary with two of their starters on the move over free agency. James is a rangy playmaker who packs a punch, who can even move into the box and help with run support.

15.) Arizona Cardinals: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.
After being a playoff caliber team with the now retired Bruce Arians at the helm, new head coach Steve Wilks will look to the continue that run, but in a different shape. The team is transitioning to a 4-3 and that means a new caliber of player needed. Chiefly a middle linebacker, lucky for them Vander Esch is just the man for the job and is just scratching his potential.

16.) Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Maybe the most polarizing quarterback in the draft, Jackson is off the board. The ends seems near for Joe Flacco and they need a succession plan. Jackson has the raw ability to threaten any defense with his arm or his legs, the only question is can he put it all together.

17.) LA Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Quite simply, the Chargers need someone to close up those running lanes and Payne is the man. Add him to former first-round edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and you have a terrifying and talented defensive line.

18.) Seattle Seahawks: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St.
The Seahawks go out on a limb here with Goedert. They lost Jimmy Graham and Luke Wilson via free agency. Now, they need to get Russel Wilson his security blanket. Granted not a lot of Jack Rabbits make it to the NFL, but Goedert has the size and ball skills to provide a valuable target.

19.) Dallas Cowboys: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
Moore has rocketed up draft boards since the combine and with the release of Dez Bryant, this pick is only further cemented. It could be Calvin Ridley in this spot, but regardless of who it is, the position won’t change.

20.) Detroit Lions: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Davenport will be fun to watch on draft day. He could go within the first ten picks or he could fall to the Lions, like he has here. Nonetheless, Davenport has the raw size, athleticism, and pass rush skills that teams love. Give him some time to develop and he’ll become any quarterbacks worst nightmare.

21.) Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Bengals offensive line is an absolute mess. After missing with multiple draft picks and getting picked clean via free agency, they have little left in the cupboard. McGlinchey could start Day One.

22.) Buffalo Bills: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma St.
The Bills sit patiently and still get their man. Yes, six quarterbacks will go in the first round! Believe it. Perhaps Rudolph goes higher, but for this mock draft Rudolph lands here and marinates behind AJ McCarron.

23.) New England Patriots: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Patriots need help on defense at all three levels. Here they get value and pick up Evans. He provides the versatility the Patriots love and while he may be a liability in coverage he provides enough awareness and leadership to make up for it.

24.) Carolina Panthers: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Hughes fits exactly what the Panthers do on defense. He’s tough, can make the open-field tackle, and can stick on any receiver. He may be a bit short, but in a division with Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Jameis Winston you need sticky cover men.

25.) Tennessee Titans: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
You can never have enough cornerbacks. The signed Malcolm Butler in the offseason and drafted Adoree Jackson in the first round last year, but more is needed. Especially with the pass happy nature of the NFL. Jackson is a tall playmaker with tremendous ball skills.

26.) Atlanta Falcons: James Daniels, C, Iowa
Veteran Alex Mack is nearing the end. Daniels, could start at guard and take over for Mack in 2019. At this point, Daniels’ talent is just too much to pass up.

27.) New Orleans Saints: Arden Key, DE, LSU
Key set the LSU single-season sack record (12) in his sophomore season and only got better. The Saints need another pass rushing option opposite Cam Jordan and Key may have the tools to get the job done. While he is a bit undersized in the Saints’ 4-3 system, his natural pass rushing skills should be able to take over.

28.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
The situation around Le’Veon Bell’s contract doesn’t seem to be getting much better, so the Steelers should start developing their succession plan now. Guice, is an absolute terror with the ball in his hands and would do well in Pittsburgh’s classic smash mouth football.

29.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
The Jaguars are looking to add a compliment to newly acquired Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Hurst is the perfect fit. A dynamic weapon who can line up in multiple spots (and was even used on sweeps in college), Hurst gives quarterback Blake Bortles another target to work with.

30.) Minnesota Vikings: Taven Bryan, DT, Minnesota
Bryan is the classic bull in a china shop lineman. While he may lose where the ball is on some plays, he has the toughness to thrive in head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense.

31.) New England Patriots: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The one glaring need the Patriots have on offense is left tackle, following the departure of Nate Solder via free agency. When you have a 40-year old Tom Brady running things, you need to protect him. The Pats can’t wait on addressing this need.

32.) Philadelphia Eagles: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
This is a value pick. The Eagles are looking to add to their receiving corps and landing Ridley would be a perfect match. Playing opposite Alshon Jeffery and allowing Nelson Agholor to fully take over the slot, would give Carson Wentz a dangerous tool kit to take opponents on with.