Tag Archives: Cleveland Browns

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.

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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.

2017 NFL Draft Grades: AFC North

It was a surprisingly down year in the AFC North despite traditionally being one of the better divisions in the NFL. The Steelers took the division crown this year and made it to the championship game. It comes as no surprise, the Steelers are still in great shape, despite being in Year 3 of trying to restock their defense.

The biggest surprise to come out the AFC North in 2016 was the fall of Cincinnati. The Bengals have jockeyed for power with Pittsburgh and Baltimore for division supremacy with regularity the past few years, but all went wrong last year. Age, injury, and thin depth showed in glaring fashion as they went 6-9.

Baltimore continued to flounder in mediocrity again. After regressing to 5-11 in 2015, they rebounded to a measly 8-8. The team is going through a major generational shift. First was the departures of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, then it was Haloti Ngata leaving, now it seems that Terrell Suggs seems to be on his last legs. As the team attempts to keep their hallmark playing style, they’ve been struggling to find the right pieces.

Then of course…there’s the Browns, who nearly went DEFEATED in 2016. Now, I would just like to state: I love the Cleveland Browns. They are one of the greatest, most historic franchises in history. But after the villainous Art Modell absconded with the team to Baltimore the Browns have been a horror show. I believe Hue Jackson is the right man to lead the team, but this mess will take years to clean up.

Baltimore Ravens: B
1.) Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
2.) Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston
3.) Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan
3b.) Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
4.) Nico Siragusa, OG, San Diego St.
5.) Jermaine Eluemunor, OT, Texas A&M
6.) Chuck Clark, S, Virginia Tech

The Ravens once again brought in a quality haul, however they are all at positions addressed in the earlier rounds of previous drafts which means the Ravens are missing on picks. Humphrey, gives them a high ceiling, low floor talent who can ease his way into the starting rotation as he develops behind Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr. Bowser, is a classic Ravens edge rusher. A freak athlete, who can fly off the edge. His numbers got better each year. Wormley, effectively replaces Timmy Jernigan, who was dealt to Philly. Wormley, could be a Day One starter at the five-technique. Siragusa and Eluemunor are developmental depth picks.

Best pick: Tim Williams
GM Ozzie Newsome loves taking Alabama players and Williams, is a classic Newsome choice. On talent alone, Williams is a first-round talent, but off-field there were red flags. Taking a flyer on a player of this caliber in Round 3 could pay off considerably.

Cincinnati Bengals: C+
1.) John Ross, WR, Washington
2.) Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
3.) Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas St.
4.) Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
4b.) Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee
4c.) Ryan Glasgow, DT, Michigan
5.) Jake Elliot, K, Memphis
5b.) J.J. Dielman, C, Utah
6.) Jordan Evans, LB, Oklahoma
6b.) Brandon Wilson, RB, Houston
7.) Mason Schreck, TE, Buffalo

The selection of Mixon is gross and shows that while the NFL may say it takes a position on certain issue, this pick and others show a disturbing level of hypocrisy. This grade comes with the omission of the Mixon pick. Ross, seemed like a reach at No. 9 with his injury history. Yes, he tore up the 40-yard dash and his best season came post injuries, but the issue remains. Willis and Lawson, provide an excellent pair of high upside pass rushers they can mold and rejuvenate their defensive front. Malone, gives a high ceiling playmaker who has the talent to be special, he just has to put it all together. Glasgow, adds much needed depth to the interior of the defensive line. Dielman, has a nasty disposition and starter upside.

Best pick: Jordan Willis
Willis is a player. That simple. He’s not the flashiest edge rusher, but he gets the job done. A tough, aggressive player, Willis got better each year at Kansas State and capped off his senior year with career bests 17.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks.

Cleveland Browns: B
1.) Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
1b.) Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
1c.) David Njoku, TE, Miami
2.) DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
3.) Larry Ogunjobi, DT, North Carolina-Charlotte
4.) Howard Wilson, CB, Houston
5.) Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida St.
6.) Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
7.) Zane Gonzalez, K, Arizona St.
7.) Matt Dayes, RB, NC State

See the above issue with Mixon and apply it to Brantley too. This grade omits his selection. The Browns did a tremendous job to kickoff the draft. With their history, there is always the worry that they could screw it up, but they stayed to the board. It was tremendous. Garrett, was a can’t miss top talent and the Browns didn’t miss. Peppers, is the playmaker that new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams needs in the secondary. Williams will take full advantage of Peppers’ aggressive playing style. Moving back into Round 1 for Njoku was smart. A young, freakish athlete, Njoku could become quite the weapon. Kizer, has maybe the best pure arm talent in this year’s class, but some had a problem with his attitude. Coach Hue Jackson will get the best of Kizer to come out and could be a dynamic talent. Ogunjobi, is a quality three-technique to pair with nose Danny Shelton.

Best pick: Zane Gonzalez
Don’t hate on kickers. Gonzalez is a quality prospect, having only missed two field goals last season and only three point-after attempts over his four year career as a Sun Devil. There were four games last season that the Browns lost by at least three points last season. Gonzalez, could pick up that difference.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B+
1.) T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
2.) JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
3.) Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee
3b.) John Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
4.) Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee
5.) Brian Allen, S, Utah
6.) Colin Holba, LS, Louisville
7.) Keion Adams, OLB, Western Michigan

The Steelers did a great job of sticking to their board and addressing areas of need along the way. Watt is a perfect fit in Pittsburgh. He’ll learn a lot behind veteran James Harrison and will be allowed to develop. He has a high ceiling. Smith-Schuser, was a value pick, but could certainly pay off sooner than later. Outside of Antonio Brown, the Steelers haven’t had a real go-to target. Smith-Schuster could fill that void. Sutton, is working his way back from a fractured ankle, but he could be a quality addition. A four year starter for the Volunteers, he excelled in both man and zone coverage. Conner’s, story is tremendous to fight back from cancer to make it to the NFL. He is a bruiser and is the perfect compliment to Le’Veon Bell.

Best pick:: Josh Dobbs
Dobbs has a little bit of Dak Prescott to him. Dobbs, got better from Year 1 to Year 2 as a starter, seeing his accuracy jump from 59.6% to 63% and his touchdowns from 15 to 27. He is still developing, but has the size, arm, and athleticism to suggest he could grow into a starter.