2021 NFL Mock Draft: Pats find their future QB in talented, offense-heavy class

The NFL Draft is a week away, and rumors have been all over the place about what will happen. One big question here in New England is how the Patriots will address their QB situation. Bill Belichick made a lot of additions this offseason, and he opted to re-sign Cam Newton. However, are all these additions meant to help build around Newton, or to help make the transition easier for a new quarterback? It will take a lot to get a quarterback in this offense-heavy draft class, but it may be worth it considering this is one of the best QB classes in recent history. I’ve answered that question and more in the mock draft below. The mock is based off a combo of what I think teams will do and what I think they should do.

#TeamPlayerPosCollegeWhy
1Trevor LawrenceQBClemsonIn my eyes, this one’s a no brainer. Lawrence looks like the best QB prospect we’ve seen since Andrew Luck between his insane accuracy, big arm, and quick release. He is a generational talent who can bring a level of success the Jaguars have never seen before.
2New logo for the New York Jets takes flight | Creative BloqZach WilsonQBBYUNow that the Jets dealt Sam Darnold to the Panthers, it’s pretty clear that they want to take the quarterback of their future here. Wilson faced lighter competition than other top QBs at BYU, but has a great skillset and might even have a better arm than Lawrence. It will take time for Wilson to adjust to the NFL but it’s a good investment for the future of this team.
3San Francisco 49ers logo Digital Art by Red VelesTrey LanceQBNorth
Dakota
State
The rumors here have mostly been about Mac Jones and Justin Fields. However, I think the Niners have their eye on a different QB. Lance dominated the FCS in 2019 before sitting out 2020, and looks to be the best FCS QB since Carson Wentz (also from NDSU). Lance will benefit from some time behind current Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo but San Fran will have someone to turn to in the case that Jimmy G is hurt again.
4
(TRADE)
Justin FieldsQBOhio StateBill Belichick is not known to be someone who trades up for quarterbacks. However, I think it’s very clear that Belichick is taking a different approach this year as he tries to thrust his team back into contention. He has been known to buy low on players, and Fields, once considered a top 2 QB in the class, has seen his draft stock plummet. I think Newton will be the bridge to the Fields era in Foxborough.
5cincinnati bengals logo wallpaper | Cincinnati bengals, Nfl logo, Nfl teams  logosPenei SewellOLOregonThere’s been a lot of buzz surrounding a Joe Burrow reunion with LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase. However, the Bengals would be foolish if they failed to provide Burrow extra protection. The Bengals offensive line put Burrow and RB Joe Mixon at risk. It should take priority over another weapon, as the Bengals already have WRs Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. In addition, Sewell might be the best o-line prospect since Quenton Nelson.
6Jaylen
Waddle
WRAlabamaChase is easily my top receiver in this class. However, I do see a QB-WR reunion happening here as Tua Tagovailoa reunites with Jaylen Waddle. Waddle missed time last year but proved to be talented and well-rounded when healthy. He’ll be a good fit in Miami, where he can develop into their WR1 without drawing too much coverage as a rookie.
7Ja’Marr ChaseWRLSUChase could make it past the Bengals and Dolphins, but if he falls to 7 I doubt the Lions pass on him. With Kenny Golladay leaving, the Lions need their next alpha wide receiver. Chase is talented enough to fill that role right away. Look at how good fellow LSU alumnus Justin Jefferson was last year. Chase was as good if not better than Jefferson at LSU, and we could see the same in the NFL.
8NFL Commentary: The Carolina Panthers, Sleeper In the NFC, or Overrated? |  Nfl carolina panthers, Carolina panthers football, Carolina panthers logoKyle PittsTEFloridaWith Greg Olsen gone, the Panthers were lacking at the tight end position last year. Ian Thomas (Olsen’s supposed successor) struggled mightily. Pitts has the potential to be one of the best tight ends ever. He would thrive immediately in Carolina. He reminds me a lot of Raiders breakout star Darren Waller, but could be even better.
9Mac JonesQBAlabamaI don’t think Jones is on par with the other four top QBs in this class. He benefitted a bit from his surroundings. However, it doesn’t seem that Drew Lock is the answer for Denver, and Jones could still be a quality starter in the NFL who’s worthy of a top 10 pick. The Broncos don’t need to trade up for a QB if they can get Jones right here at #9.
10Patrick Surtain IICBAlabamaAfter seeing nine straight offensive players go off the board, this is the perfect opportunity for the Cowboys to address their defense. I think Surtain is the best defensive player on the board after three strong years as a lockdown corner for Alabama.
11Kwity PayeEDGEMichiganThere’s a lot of different things the Giants could do with this pick, but they’ve been in the market for a pass rusher for years and Paye would fill that need at long last. He may have played in a 4-3 scheme at Michigan, but we’ve already seen recent Michigan pass rusher Chase Winovich thrive in 3-4 setups. I think Paye is capable of the same.
12Micah ParsonsLBPenn StateThe Eagles have been lacking at wide receiver for years, but I’d argue linebacker is an even bigger need. Parsons was a major playmaker for Penn State’s defense, and I think he’ll stand out on the Eagles defense as well. The Eagles get their star linebacker of the future with this pick and Parsons gets to stay in his home state of Pennsylvania.
13Rashawn SlaterOLNorthwesternThe Chargers may have signed Corey Linsley but there’s still work to be done with this offensive line. Slater has the versatility to play tackle or guard and could be a very valuable part of this line if the Chargers opt to take him.
14Christian
Darrisaw
OLVirginia TechDarrisaw has shot up draft boards of late, and the Vikings could use just about any o-line help they can get. Darrisaw would be an instant starter for the Vikings, most likely at left tackle.
15
(TRADE)
Jeremiah Owusu-KoromoahLBNotre DameThe Falcons could still use more help at linebacker surrounding Deion Jones. It would have been a reach for any linebacker at 4, but taking Owusu-Koromoah at 15 is good value for them. You could even argue he’s better than Parsons. At the very least, he’ll be a solid starting linebacker.
16
(TRADE)
Devonta SmithWRAlabamaArizona’s pressing need is at tight end, and they’d be reaching for a tight end in this spot. With Devonta Smith still on the board, I have Indy trading up to capitalize on the opportunity. Smith may be undersized, but he’s a very talented receiver who’s an excellent route runner. He’ll have the opportunity to become Carson Wentz’s top target.
17Jaycee HornCBSouth CarolinaThe Raiders have a decent secondary but lack a true leader there. Horn has the potential to shine in this secondary and become the #1 corner for Vegas. With a lot of the top receivers and linebackers off the board, corner is the right move here.
18Gregory RousseauEDGEMiamiThe Dolphins swapped edge rusher Shaq Lawson for Benardrick McKinney to add to the LB corps, but now they need another edge rusher. One of the Miami Hurricanes edge rushers would be a good fit, as they are local prospects and some of the best on the board. I see them taking Rousseau over Jaelan Phillips but they could potentially take either.
19Washington Home | Washington Football Team - WashingtonFootball.comZaven CollinsLBTulsaWashington needs two major things from this draft: help at linebacker and a better o-line. Once they have those two things they’ll be one of the most well-rounded teams in football and could make a case for a playoff run. Collins will definitely fit well here.
20Trevon MoehrigSTCUThe Bears need a long term solution at safety alongside Eddie Jackson. Moehrig is really the only safety worth a first round investment and the Bears should be able to land him here.
21Arizona Cardinals Logo PNG Transparent & SVG Vector - Freebie Supply(TRADE)Pat FreiermuthTEPenn StateFreiermuth is still a bit of a reach at 21 but is the best option for Arizona, who desperately needs a tight end. Freiermuth has picked up the nickname “Baby Gronk” and should be a capable pass catcher and blocker in the NFL, even though he’s not on par with Kyle Pitts.
22Samuel CosmiOLTexasWith Isaiah Wilson leaving after one year, the Titans are still looking for their new right tackle, and it’s one of their most pressing needs. Cosmi fits the bill for what they’re looking for and will likely be the best tackle on the board at this point.
23New logo for the New York Jets takes flight | Creative BloqCaleb FarleyCBVirginia TechThe Jets have had a hole at corner for multiple years, and the departure of Jamal Adams has only made their secondary worse. Farley would be a good start in building this secondary back up to where it needs to be for contention.
24Travis EtienneRBClemsonI think Najee Harris is the most well rounded back in this draft class, but Etienne is a better fit here in Pittsburgh. He is not a power back but is an elusive and speedy back who is capable of playing all three downs. Early on, I see Benny Snell Jr. having a role here, but Etienne will eventually be able to take over the backfield. I see a lot of D’Andre Swift in Etienne, except mixed in with the speed of someone like Nick Chubb.
25Rashod BatemanWRMinnesotaThe Jaguars may have signed Marvin Jones this offseason but could still use another weapon. Bateman adds depth to the Jaguars WR corps and like the three receivers taken before him, he has the potential to emerge as a #1 receiver. Bateman will likely be the last WR remaining from the top tier of this draft class so the Jags should take advantage.
26Nick BoltonLBMissouriThe Browns look to be a fairly complete team and with a good season from QB Baker Mayfield they could be Super Bowl contenders. The only need I really think they have is at linebacker, and that can be taken care of easily with this pick.
27Wyatt DavisOLOhio StateThe Ravens recently lost star interior lineman Marshal Yanda to retirement. Davis has the potential to fill that role in Baltimore for years to come. With the top tier of wide receivers out of the question, addressing the o-line will be a priority here.
28Christian BarmoreDLAlabamaAfter releasing a handful of guys to save cap space, the Saints will need to upgrade the defense, including the defensive line. This is a rather weak d-line class, but Barmore stands out among the rest of the defensive linemen available.
29Alijah Vera-TuckerOLUSCVera-Tucker has risen up people’s draft boards lately, but I think he fits best in a very specific role where he has the flexibility to play tackle or guard. He’ll be able to do that in Green Bay, especially with Elgton Jenkins starting to see time at center now that Corey Linsley is gone.
30How the LA Rams' new logo managed to anger an entire fanbase | Los Angeles  Rams | The Guardian
(TRADE)
Jaelan PhillipsEDGEMiamiThe Rams haven’t had a first round pick in a couple years due to the Jalen Ramsey trade. I think they’ll put a package together to move up if Phillips falls this far. Phillips shined as part of a strong Miami pass rush and could have the chance to stand out in LA’s pass rush.
31New logo for the New York Jets takes flight | Creative Bloq
(TRADE)
Najee HarrisRBAlabamaRunning backs like Harris aren’t available every day. The Jets still need to find a starting running back, and I think they’ll be willing to move up a few spots from their early second round selection to secure one. Harris’ raw strength reminds me of Derrick Henry, and unlike Henry he can catch passes too.
32Creed HumphreyOLOklahomaThe Buccaneers pretty much brought back their entire Super Bowl roster, but some more protection for Tom Brady can’t hurt. They secured a tackle in Tristan Wirfs with their last first rounder. This time around I see them addressing the interior.

In the later rounds, I think the Patriots will add a wide receiver as well as some front seven help. I could see them targeting a receiver like Elijah Moore or Amon-Ra St. Brown on Day 2. That’s all for today’s mock draft, but my coverage of the draft will continue on draft day when I take part in a livestream on The Master Plan YouTube channel with my cousin, Michael Philipkosky.

2020 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: My Final First Round Projection before Draft Day

The NFL Draft is right around 24 hours away, and with some extra time I’ve decided to take another crack at a mock draft.  Some people are saying this draft will be uneventful with minimal trades due to the lack of face to face communication.  Others are saying the lack of consensus about prospects will make this draft one of the craziest in recent history.  I think it will be somewhere in the middle.  There will be some predictable picks, and some big surprises.  Here’s my final projection of the draft’s first round with trades, incorporating that mix of surprise and expectation.  It also incorporates a mix of what I think should happen and what I think will happen.

1. cincinnati-bengals Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

This might very well be the only lock of this draft.  The Redskins appear to be listening to offers for the 2nd pick, and I think that’s the right move.  But there is no circumstance in which I could justify the Bengals passing on Burrow.  They have a desperate need for a QB.  I feel that Tua Tagovailoa has the highest ceiling of QBs in this draft class, but Burrow is close, and he has a much higher floor.

TRADE ALERT:

Falcons acquire: #2 overall pick

Redskins acquire: #16 overall pick, #78 overall pick, 2021 1st rounder, 2021 3rd rounder

2. atlfalcons Atlanta Falcons (via Washington)

Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

This trade makes a lot more sense than you might think.  Rumors are swirling that the Falcons will look to trade up from their 16th pick in order to draft an elite defensive player.  There’s been a lot of buzz about a trade with the Lions, Falcons, or Jaguars to take someone like DT Derrick Brown or CB C.J. Henderson.  How about Chase Young for an elite defensive player?  The Redskins would actually be smart to trade this pick if the right offer is on the table, and I don’t think it’s going to the Giants like I said in my first mock.  Young isn’t a great fit in Washington, and the Redskins should prioritize upgrading the offense around QB Dwayne Haskins in this draft.  On the contrary, Young would fit perfectly on the Falcons defense as the Falcons provide a much needed upgrade to their pass rush.  There’s already a complete offer on the table for the #2 pick, could it be an offer from Atlanta?

3. Detroit Lions Logos | History team and Primary emblem Detroit Lions

Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State

The Lions are another team considering a trade down, but I don’t think the Dolphins or Chargers are motivated enough to trade up for their QB, and if the Lions trade down any further than that, they risk missing out on Okudah.  CB Desmond Trufant is good, but he’s no replacement for Darius Slay.  Okudah can serve that role, and it would be foolish of Detroit to pass on him. 

4. new-york-giants-logo New York Giants

Jedrick Wills, T, Alabama

The Giants were considering ILB Isaiah Simmons with this pick, but I think their biggest need is for a right tackle to play alongside LT Nate Solder.  Wills was the right tackle for QB Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama.  He’ll fit right in with the Giants as QB Daniel Jones’ right tackle.

5. Dolphins-logo Miami Dolphins

Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

The Dolphins appear to be too worried about Tua’s injury history to take him over QB Justin Herbert.  If the Chargers jump them for pick #3 and take Herbert, I could see Miami taking a chance on Tua.  But Herbert will still probably be on the board, and I see him as the safer option.  Herbert doesn’t have the potential Tua has, but I don’t think the Dolphins want to take a gamble on Tua with Herbert, another top tier QB in this draft class, still on the board.

6. Chargers make some alterations to logo for 2020 season - Los ... Los Angeles Chargers

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

The Chargers are a good landing spot for Tua.  If Herbert’s gone and Tua’s available at this pick, I can’t see the Chargers passing up.  QB Tyrod Taylor, who the Chargers have a level of confidence in, can serve as a bridge QB while Tua develops and recovers from the injuries that plagued his college career.  Then when Tua’s ready, he’ll hopefully become LA’s next star QB.  Who knows?  If he takes over midway through the season, maybe he can lead the Chargers on a playoff run.

7. carolina-panthers-logo Carolina Panthers

Isaiah Simmons, ILB, Clemson

The Dolphins and Chargers were desperate for QBs, so they had an excuse to pass on Simmons.  The Panthers could use a linebacker to replace Luke Kuechly, and Simmons falling to 7 would be a dream scenario for them.  Simmons is an elite defensive play-maker, and he’s not just a linebacker.  He has the versatility to play in a variety of defensive positions.  As Carolina rebuilds, they will be able to build their defense around Simmons.

8. az-cards Arizona Cardinals

Tristan Wirfs, T, Iowa

DT Derrick Brown could be an option here, as the Cardinals need some d-line help.  But I feel their o-line is even more of a priority now that Arizona lost veteran T Marcus Gilbert.  They need to add some more o-line depth this year to help protect QB Kyler Murray, and Wirfs would be a great start to that.

9. jacksonvile-jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars

Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

There’s more confusion surrounding this Jacksonville pick then I’ve seen around a Top 10 draft pick in a long time.  But with Brown on the board, it’s hard for the Jags to pass up.  I’ve heard rumors of a trade down.  I’ve heard things about the Jags reaching for DT Javon Kinlaw or CB C.J. Henderson.  But there’s no reason to pass up on Brown; he’ll be the best option here if he’s on the board.

TRADE ALERT:

Broncos acquire: #10 overall pick

Browns acquire: #15 overall pick, #83 overall pick, 2021 4th rounder

10. denver-broncos-logo Denver Broncos (via Cleveland)

CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

You might expect Cleveland to stick with this pick and take a top tackle like Andrew Thomas or Mekhi Becton.  But it appears they want to wait for T Ezra Cleveland, and that actually could make sense since the Browns have bigger needs.  But if the Browns aren’t taking a tackle or wide receiver here, there’s no reason to keep the pick.  I have them selling it to the Broncos, who will look to jump the Jets, Raiders, and 49ers for WR CeeDee Lamb.

11. Brand New: New Logo and Uniforms for New York Jets New York Jets

Andrew Thomas, T, Georgia

With Lamb (who the Jets reportedly want) off the board, the Jets have a few options here.  They could take one of Alabama’s star wide receivers, who are almost as good as Lamb.  They could also address their need at corner.  But I have them taking Thomas, one of this year’s elite o-linemen, to compete for a starting job with George Fant and/or Chuma Edoga.  I feel that Thomas is the most NFL ready tackle in this draft, and it’s possible he puts up a better season than both of New York’s current projected starters.

12. oakland-raiders Las Vegas Raiders

Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

The Raiders would probably also target Lamb here if he was available.  But Jeudy is also a great option to serve as QB Derek Carr’s new top target.  TE Darren Waller was Carr’s top target last year, but the Raiders could use a true #1 receiver, and guys like Lamb and Jeudy are the best options to fill that role.

13. San Francisco 49ers Logo F5 - Football & Sports Background ... San Francisco 49ers (via Indianapolis)

C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

The 49ers could opt for WR Henry Ruggs III or DT Javon Kinlaw here.  But Henderson is reportedly rising up draft boards, and it appears there’s a big drop off after Okudah and Henderson in this cornerback class.  The 49ers can worry about replacing DeForest Buckner or adding another weapon for QB Jimmy Garoppolo later.  They should take advantage of the opportunity to draft Henderson here.  Henderson and Richard Sherman could make for one of the league’s best cornerback duos if Henderson reaches his full potential.

14. tampabaybuccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mekhi Becton, T, Louisville

I originally had Tampa opting for a running back here, but they could grab a running back in Round 2 if someone like Becton is still available here.  I feel Becton is the riskiest choice of these four top tackles, explaining his fall.  But it’s hard to pass on him at 14 with Wills, Wirfs, and Thomas all gone.

15. cleveland-browns-brown Cleveland Browns (via Denver)

K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB, LSU

The Browns don’t need to reach for Ezra Cleveland with this 15th pick; they’ll have a good chance at him in Round 2.  It would be a better option here to address the front seven here, and Chaisson has the versatility to play either defensive end or outside linebacker.  The Browns desperately need help at linebacker, and they could use another edge rusher to help out Myles Garrett.

16. washingtonredskins2 Washington Redskins (via Atlanta)

Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

After trading down, the Redskins find themselves with the perfect opportunity to help out QB Dwayne Haskins.  Ruggs isn’t quite as good as Jeudy or Lamb in my opinion, but he’ll be a solid #2 WR for the Redskins, playing next to second year receiver Terry McLaurin.

17. dalcowboyslogonew Dallas Cowboys

Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

The Cowboys will probably consider a trade down here.  But the d-line is a top need, and if Kinlaw falls to 17, he’ll probably be the best player on the board.  With this pick, the Cowboys take advantage of Kinlaw’s slide and help fill a big need.  Making that kind of pick is more valuable than trading down.

18. Dolphins-logo Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh)

Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

With the top four tackles off the board, it could be smart for Miami to wait on a tackle, even though they have a big need there.  They could also use a safety with Reshad Jones and Minkah Fitzpatrick gone, and as one of the best safeties in this draft class, McKinney is the perfect replacement.  Grant Delpit appears to have more potential than McKinney, but McKinney is a safer pick here.

19. oakland-raiders Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago)

Patrick Queen, OLB, LSU

The Raiders will probably address the offense at #12.  But with this pick, they have defensive needs to fill.  Queen was a difference maker on LSU’s defense last year, and the Raiders could use an elite player to lead their linebacker corps.  They addressed the position in free agency by signing Nick Kwiatowski and Cory Littleton, but they need more than just quality starters on defense.  They need a leader, and Queen has the potential to be that guy.

20. jacksonvile-jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars (via LA Rams)

Grant Delpit, S, LSU

Delpit has slid down some teams’ boards.  But I think he has the potential to emerge as one of the best defensive players from this draft class, and the Jaguars need some serious secondary help.  If they decide to pass on Delpit, I think they should absolutely take another corner or safety with this pick, especially after opting to focus on the d-line at #9.

21. philadelphia-eagles-logo Philadelphia Eagles

Kenneth Murray, OLB, Oklahoma

Historically, the Eagles have rarely taken linebackers Round 1.  But linebacker is by far their biggest need in this draft, and with the top three wide receivers in this draft class off the board, it would be a smarter choice to take Murray, one of the top linebackers in this class, than a second tier wide receiver like Justin Jefferson or Denzel Mims.  Jefferson’s name has gained steam, but I don’t think the Eagles should take Jefferson over a guy like Murray, and I think they will seriously consider a linebacker here.

22. Screenshot 2020-04-05 at 12.23.14 PM Minnesota Vikings

Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The Vikings have a much bigger need at WR than Philly does.  With WR Stefon Diggs gone, Adam Thielen emerges as Minnesota’s surefire #1 receiver.  But the Vikings need a new #2 guy.  Jefferson, like Thielen is a slot receiver, and he’s not just any slot receiver.  He was LSU star QB Joe Burrow’s slot receiver.  But he’s a much better choice than any of the other receivers left on the board, and WR Bisi Johnson can serve as Minnesota’s outside receiver with Thielen and Jefferson handling the slot.

23. new_england_patriots New England Patriots

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

I originally said the Patriots should pair QB Jarrett Stidham with a veteran as opposed to a young QB.  But the Patriots have their sights set on drafting a QB in the first 3 rounds.  They do need some serious linebacker help with Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins on their way out.  But with Queen and Murray gone, I think the Pats should take a chance on Love.  Love had an amazing sophomore season at Utah State, and he did throw a lot of picks his junior year, but if the Patriots coaching staff has the opportunity to groom him, he’ll have insane potential.  I think the Pats should hold an open QB battle between Stidham and Love, and if neither QB impresses in training camp, the Pats have veteran QB Brian Hoyer, who knows the system and can be a bridge QB for the two younger guys.

24. nosaints New Orleans Saints

Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan

The Saints don’t have many needs to fill.  With Love gone, a Drew Brees replacement can wait.  Ruiz would be the best offensive lineman left on the board in this spot, and protecting Brees in his final years with the Saints will be very important.  The Saints already have the young Erik McCoy to play center, but they could slide Ruiz over to right guard, where he can compete for a starting job with veteran o-lineman Larry Warford.

25. Screenshot 2020-04-05 at 12.23.14 PM Minnesota Vikings (via Buffalo)

Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

After addressing their WR need at #22, the Vikings could use a young corner to replace Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes, who left in free agency.  Fulton was among many star players in a championship winning LSU defense.  At LSU, Fulton and safety Grant Delpit headlined the secondary.  Here in Minnesota, he’ll have the chance to emerge as the #1 corner and lead alongside safeties Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris.

26. Dolphins-logo Miami Dolphins (via Houston)

Austin Jackson, T, USC

The Dolphins have three first round picks.  They should use at least one of them on protection for their new QB.  The offensive line might very well be a bigger need for Miami than the QB position.  The top four tackles in the draft will likely be gone by this point, but I feel that Jackson is the next best, and he could end up going in the first round to an o-line needy team like Miami.

27. seattle-seahawks Seattle Seahawks

A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

Young and Chaisson will be gone by this point, but there’s still plenty of options at #27 for the Seahawks to replace Jadeveon Clowney in the pass rush.  Epenesa led the pass rush at Iowa with 26.5 sacks over 3 seasons and can eventually do the same in Seattle.

28. Baltimore_Ravens_Logo Baltimore Ravens

Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

I originally had the Ravens taking Ruiz here to replace Marshal Yanda.  But with Ruiz gone and second tier WRs like Jalen Reagor and Denzel Mims available, the Ravens should get another weapon for QB Lamar Jackson.  Jackson plans to run less and throw more this year, and he’ll need to rely on more than just WR Marquise Brown and TE Mark Andrews to do so.  Reagor will slot in as Baltimore’s #2 or #3 wide receiver, and hopefully he’ll emerge as another top target for Jackson.

TRADE ALERT

Jets acquire: #29 overall pick

Titans acquire: #48 overall pick, #158 overall pick, 2021 3rd rounder

29. Brand New: New Logo and Uniforms for New York Jets New York Jets (via Tennessee)

A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson

I think any players the Titans would want to draft here could be available in the second round, and I could see a run on CBs happening late in this first round.  The Jets are a team that will not want to miss out on that after releasing CB Trumaine Johnson in March.  Terrell’s draft stock fell after his struggles in the National Championship Game, but I still see him as a 1st round pick with the potential to be a star corner in this league.  It could be tough to adjust to playing against seasoned NFL wide receivers, but Terrell has the talent to thrive against elite receivers, he’ll just need time to get used to it.  The Jets could ease him in, starting him off as a nickel corner and hoping he develops into an elite #1 corner.

30. gbpackers2 Green Bay Packers

Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

If QB Aaron Rodgers ever wants to win a Super Bowl again, he needs another quality wide receiver to play next to Davante Adams.  Devin Funchess was brought in during free agency, but adding one more wide receiver like Mims to the mix in this draft would be a smart move for Green Bay.  The Packers defense has plenty of depth, they just need time to develop.  It’s hard to say the same about their WR corps.

TRADE ALERT

Rams acquire: #31 overall pick

49ers acquire: #52 overall pick, #126 overall pick

31. Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) | Twitter Los Angeles Rams (via San Francisco)

J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State

The 49ers need to get their hands on some mid-round draft picks if they want good value on d-linemen and wide receivers.  The Rams don’t pick until the second half of Round 2, so they may be eager to jump other RB-needy teams to find a replacement for Todd Gurley.  There’s been a lot of debate as to who the best RB in the class is, but I feel J.K. Dobbins has the highest ceiling, and that’s good news for the Rams.  They had a star RB in Todd Gurley, and he got injured.  Drafting Dobbins could make up for that.

32. kansas-city-chiefs-logo Kansas City Chiefs

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

The Chiefs could also use a running back around this point in the draft, and with Dobbins gone, I have the Chiefs taking Wisconsin breakout RB Jonathan Taylor to pair with Damien Williams.  Williams was undrafted and emerged as a borderline starter for the Chiefs, but I can’t see him as a three-down back.  Darwin Thompson could serve as a third down RB for the Chiefs, but they could use more depth at the position.  Taylor was a no-name coming out of high school, and now he’s emerged as a top RB in this class.  Just like Williams, he has an underdog story of his own, and pairing these two underdogs together could make for a strong backfield to complement QB Patrick Mahomes’ pass-first offense.

That’s all for my final mock draft of the year.  Stay tuned for more content after the draft.

2019 NFL Draft Report Cards: AFC West Edition

Training camp is here, and it’s time for my final batch of NFL Draft Report Cards.  Last time, I reviewed the AFC South, where several teams struggled.  But the AFC West had some teams with much better draft classes.  Who are they?  Keep reading to see my grade for each pick as well as my final grades.  As I post more articles, I will also include links to the rest of my draft grades.

Image result for nfl draft 2019 logo

NFL Draft Report Cards 2019

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

  Denver Broncos

Overall Grade: A-

Draft Report Card:

Analysis:

The Broncos put together one of the league’s best draft classes. The trade down in Round 1 was very smart, as Fant fills a huge need and was an amazing fit. They added a tackle (Risner) in Round 2, and if he can make a successful move to guard, he could really help the team. Lock was a bargain as well, and Dre’Mont Jones will fill another big need for Denver. The Broncos could’ve added more secondary help and another WR, but every pick had a purpose, and with just six picks, they filled a good amount of needs.

 Los Angeles Chargers

Overall Grade: B+

Draft Report Card:

Analysis:

The Chargers started this draft off very strong.  But they made some confusing choices later on.  They didn’t have too many needs to fill, and they filled them early.  Tillery and Adderley were great adds, and Pipkins was a reach but should still compete for a tackle job and have success.  Later on though, they reached a bit on several picks.  It was smart to take a QB, but Round 5 is too early for Stick.  They also reached for Tranquill, Broughton, and Egbule.  Still, LA filled their needs earlier and more efficiently than any other team, making for a strong draft class where the later rounds didn’t matter nearly as much.

 Kansas City Chiefs

Overall Grade: B-

Draft Report Card:

Analysis:

The Chiefs reaches on a handful of these selections, but they did filled a decent amount of needs.  They boosted the interior o-line.  They drafted extra RB and WR help.  They even added a safety with their first pick.  But even with Frank Clark on the roster, the Chiefs’ biggest need for an edge rusher, and that need has yet to be filled.  That fact, alongside the lack of interior o-line depth and the numerous reaches the Chiefs made, brings down KC’s grade.

  Oakland Raiders

Overall Grade: B-

Draft Report Card:

Analysis:

The Raiders went into this draft with a handful of defensive holes and a few offensive holes as well.  They filled most of these, but they took players that they could’ve drafted in later rounds.  If they had traded down a couple times, they would likely have more help at guard and defensive tackle than they got, and they’d get some of their targets at better values.  Clelin Ferrell could’ve been taken at #24 or #27.  They took him at #4.  The Raiders did have some really good picks as well though.  I liked the choices of Trayvon Mullen, Foster Moreau, and Hunter Renfrow.  But they could have done a better job at managing their draft picks and focused more on value.


 

That’s all for my 2019 NFL Draft Report Cards.  Stay tuned for more NFL coverage as the regular season looms.

2019 NFL Draft Report Cards: AFC South Edition

Welcome to Part 7 of my NFL Draft Report Cards.  Last week, I reviewed the AFC North, where the Browns and Ravens boasted a couple of the best draft classes in the entire league.  The AFC South doesn’t have any teams that dominated to this extent.  In fact, one team struggled more than any other team in the entire AFC.  Keep reading to see my grade for each pick as well as my final grades.  As I post more articles, I will also include links to the rest of my draft grades.

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NFL Draft Report Cards 2019

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

tennessee-titans. Tennessee Titans

Overall Grade: B-

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

I didn’t mind this draft, as there were no terribly confusing picks and the Titans filled most of their biggest needs.  But the Titans did take some significant risks here.  I especially liked the A.J. Brown pick, as he will make an instant impact in the receiving game.  Jeffery Simmons may not play this season.  But the Titans desperately needed a DT, and it’s not a terrible late 1st round choice.  Nate Davis was a reach, but he does fill a need as well.  They also added DB depth with the selection of Amani Hooker.  They didn’t need any more OLBs even with Brian Orakpo retiring.  They could’ve added a tight end instead with Delanie Walker getting older.  But overall, this was still a solid draft that filled plenty of needs.

 

indianapolis-colts Indianapolis Colts

Overall Grade: C+

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

The Colts had a boatload of big needs going in, so even with 10 draft picks, it would’ve been hard to fulfill all their needs.  The Colts did fill a good number of them though.  They got some front seven help, added WR Parris Campbell, and drafted a corner early.  However, they reached quite a bit on some of these picks when it was not necessary.  Indy had much better options in many of these scenarios.  The failure to take advantage of these options definitely impacts their grade, but the filling of most needs boosts it.

 

jacksonvile-jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars

Overall Grade: C+

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

The Jaguars did fill most of their biggest needs, but their priorities were not quite set straight.  Jawaan Taylor was a steal in Round 2.  But did Jacksonville need a tackle?  No.  The Jags opted to take Taylor and wait on their other needs as opposed to grabbing a RB or S early.  They didn’t really address the secondary at all, instead opting to snag top players available like Gardner Minshew and Dontavius Russell in the late rounds.  At other times, they reached for picks.  Some of these picks will pay off to an extent, but others just didn’t make sense.

 

hou-texans Houston Texans

Overall Grade: C

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

The Texans didn’t even have that many needs to fill.  But they threw their needs aside on some of these picks.  I think the Texans were selectively targeting a group of players they believed were underrated and had a future, and the Texans are entitled to their own opinions.  They may love this draft class.  But in my eyes, many of these picks were unnecessary reaches.  For example, they took tackles Tytus Howard and Max Scharping when there were better options and they needed a guard more.  In the meantime, they failed to add depth at wide receiver and linebacker.  Many of these picks confused me.  They weren’t a fit, a bargain, or a need filler, so that significantly bogs down their grade.


 

That’s all for this portion of my NFL Draft Report Cards.  Next time, I’ll wrap this series up with the AFC West, where another two of the best draft classes in the league came from.  Which AFC West teams came out on top?  Stay tuned for my next post to find out.

2019 NFL Draft Report Cards: AFC North Edition

Welcome to Part 6 of my NFL Draft Report Cards.  Last week, I reviewed the home division of my New England Patriots, the AFC East.  Though the Pats should win the division, the Jets outdid them in the draft.  But in my eyes, an AFC North team was the overall draft winner.  Which team is it?  Keep reading to see my Draft Report Card for each team, including a grade for each pick as well as my final grades.  As I post more articles, I will also include links to the rest of my draft grades.

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NFL Draft Report Cards 2019

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

cleveland-browns-brown Cleveland Browns

Overall Grade: A

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

I feel the Browns won this year’s draft. Not only did they snag two major steals at positions of need in Greedy Williams and Mack Wilson, they also filled most of the rest of their biggest needs. In addition to Williams, a CB and Wilson, an ILB, the Browns drafted a tackle, a safety, an outside linebacker. Some of their other picks were slight reaches, but they filled most of their needs, so I really like this draft class.

Baltimore_Ravens_Logo Baltimore Ravens

Overall Grade: B+

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

The Ravens started off this draft historically strong. They grabbed their two WRs of the future (hopefully Lamar Jackson is able to throw to them). They also drafted a much needed edge rusher in Jaylon Ferguson, who happens to be a great fit. The later rounds didn’t go as well. They did make some decent picks later on. I understand the selections of RB Justice Hill and DT Daylon Mack. But the Ravens didn’t need another guard or corner, and the Ravens been fine with Robert Griffin III as Jackson’s sole backup. Overall, this is a pretty good draft class, but it was a bit top heavy, and they didn’t prioritize their biggest needs in the later rounds.

cincinnati-bengals Cincinnati Bengals

Overall Grade: C+

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

The Bengals made a couple great selections. They found their potential QB-LT duo of the future. The Bengals also filled all of their biggest needs. But they reached on a lot of their picks. I’m not going to make a big deal about their choice to put aside smaller needs in favor of prospects they liked. But Drew Sample, for example could’ve been found in the 4th or 5th. He isn’t 2nd round material. I do give them credit for the promptness on filling their needs though, so I didn’t mind this draft class too much.

pittsburgh-steelers Pittsburgh Steelers

Overall Grade: C+

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

My favorite pick by far from this draft class was the selection of RB Benny Snell Jr.  Snell can be the primary backup for James Conner with Le’Veon Bell leaving for good. But other than that, the Steelers didn’t have an amazing draft. They didn’t fill too many needs, and the needs they did fill were filled by reaching. I didn’t mind the Devin Bush pick, as he may not be a good fit, but he can play inside linebacker as they need. Plus, Isaiah Buggs was a steal even though Pittsburgh doesn’t need a DT.  But the fact that they didn’t draft a tackle to replace Marcus Gilbert will significantly bog them down.

That’s all for this portion of my NFL Draft Grades.  Stay tuned for my AFC South Draft Grades next.  As a whole, the AFC South did not have a great draft.  But two teams tied for the worst overall grade.  Who were they?  Find out soon.

2019 NFL Draft Report Cards: AFC East Edition

Welcome to Part 5 of my NFL Draft Report Cards.  Today, I’ll be kicking off my AFC draft reviews with the AFC East. The New England Patriots (my team) have dominated this division for years. But did they dominate the draft? What other AFC East teams thrived? Keep reading to see my Draft Report Card for each team, including a grade for each pick as well as my final grades.  As I post more articles, I will also include links to the rest of my draft grades.

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NFL Draft Report Cards 2019

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

 

Jets-Logo New York Jets

Overall Grade: B+

Draft Report Card:

Analysis:

The Jets may have reached for a couple players and they did struggle to fill all of their needs with six picks. But for the amount of picks they had, this was a pretty solid daft. I would’ve rather the Jets take Josh Allen over Quinnen Williams, as Allen is the better fit even though Williams is the better player.  They did make up for it later though, as they drafted Jachai Polite and Blake Cashman. I also really liked the selection of Chuma Edoga, an underrated player at a position of need for the Jets. The Jets opted to wait on a tight end and a corner, and when they finally drafted them, it was a reach. They also failed to fill needs at center and receiver. But the Jets did the best they could and finished with a strong draft class.

New_England_Patriots New England Patriots

Overall Grade: B

Draft Report Card:

Analysis:

I wrote a more in-depth Patriots draft review in a separate article.  Check it out!

Buffalo_Bills Buffalo Bills

Overall Grade: B

Draft Report Card:

Analysis:

The Bills made some very confusing picks, but they also drafted some quality players in between.  They did fill all their biggest needs early, as they didn’t really have many.  They earned a steal by drafting T Cody Ford in the 2nd.  They also drafted a strong TE, Dawson Knox and an OLB, Vosean Joseph in later rounds to fill their other two needs.  They did draft another TE later, but this pick was an unnecessary reach alongside some others.  I also don’t get why they took DT Ed Oliver at #9 when they didn’t need a DT and good o-linemen were available.  It was good that the Bills took a young RB, but the backfield is way to crowded for it, and Round 3 was early for Singletary.  Otherwise, I didn’t mind this draft too much.

Dolphins-logo Miami Dolphins

Overall Grade: B-

Draft Report Card:

Analysis:

Most of these picks were understandable, but the Dolphins had better options.  It wasn’t easy for Miami in this draft, as they had a lot of needs to fill as they rebuild and they didn’t have many picks to do so.  The rebuilding will need to continue over the next couple years.  Most of these picks filled needs, so that helps Miami’s case.  But a couple of them were reaches, especially the selection of Auburn RB Chandler Cox.  In addition, the Dolphins didn’t really make a point to priorities their biggest of needs.  But overall, I didn’t mind this draft class, but this is only the beginning of a long rebuild for the Fins.

That’s all for this portion of my Draft Grades.  Stay tuned for my reviews of the rest of the AFC.  I’ll be reviewing the AFC North yet, where I feel 1 team highlighted this year’s draft.  Which team is it?  Find out in my next post.

2019 NFL Draft Report Cards: NFC West Edition

Welcome to Part 4 of my NFL Draft Report Cards.  Today, I’ll be wrapping up the NFC draft reviews with the NFC West.  Which NFC West teams will benefit from this draft the most?  Keep reading to see my Draft Report Card for each team, including a grade for each pick as well as my final grades.  As I post more articles, I will also include links to the rest of my draft grades.

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NFL Draft Report Cards 2019

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

az-cards Arizona Cardinals

Overall Grade: B

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

What I love about this draft is that every pick was made for a good reason.  New head coach Kliff Kingsbury knows Kyler Murray is capable of leading the Cards, so there was no problem with trading Josh Rosen in favor of more security.  Murphy and Thompson add secondary depth at a great value.  The team also filled needs, drafting a trio of receivers, a tackle, a center, and a couple d-linemen.

The team could’ve found a way to fill a few more holes, such as linebacker.  But there was not a single pick in this draft class that I had a real problem with, and Arizona really made their biggest needs a priority.

sf-49ers San Francisco 49ers

Overall Grade: B-

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

Much like Chicago, this draft class is top heavy.  The 2nd overall selection of Nick Bosa was one of my favorite picks in this draft.  He’s a great fit and could eventually lead this rebuilding defense back to glory.  I didn’t mind the Deebo Samuel pick, but D.K. Metcalf would’ve been the smarter choice.  Kaden Smith was a steal in Round 6, so I’m not going to complain there either.

But some of these other picks confused me.  Despite the steal of Smith, the rest of San Francisco’s later round picks were major reaches.  They did need a punter, but taking one in Round 4 is unheard of.  They didn’t need to draft WR Jalen Hurd either.  Deebo Samuel will provide them enough at receiver and Hurd was drafted way too early.   The strong picks early on definitely boost this draft class, but the Niners could’ve added a few more quality players and filled a couple more needs.

los-angeles-rams-symbol Los Angeles Rams

Overall Grade: C+

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

It’s hard to start a draft strong without a first round pick, but the Rams definitely could’ve done better.  They could’ve waited on the safety and running back till later rounds.  There was no need for a corner in Round 3, especially someone who I didn’t have being drafted.  The team did rebound in the later rounds, snagging a strong tackle in David Edwards and a replacement for Ndamukong Suh in Greg Gaines.

There were some needs that weren’t filled as early as they should’ve been or were completely ignored.  The Rams interior o-line still needs serious help.  But there were some strong selections in the later rounds that will definitely highlight this draft class.

seattle-seahawks Seattle Seahawks

Overall Grade: C

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

There weren’t too many straight up confusing picks in this draft, but there weren’t many eye popping picks either.  The team made a lot of reaches in the early rounds, and that definitely brings their grade down significantly.  But the Seahawks did, to an extent, redeem themselves.  They received a blatant steal when they drafted WR D.K. Metcalf at the end of the 2nd round.  They continued to add to their depleted receiving corps throughout this draft, as Doug Baldwin will no longer be on the team.

But while they hyperfocused on finding Russell Wilson some guys to throw to, they threw aside some of their other needs.  The team is still in desperate need of secondary depth despite drafting a safety.  It wouldn’t have hurt to take a new TE either.  But the team did manage to fill a good number of holes despite their reaches, so you have to give them some credit for that.


 

That’s all for this portion of my NFL Draft Report Cards.  Next time, I’ll shift my attention to the AFC, starting with New England’s division, the AFC East.  Did the Pats outwit their division rivals again this year?  Stay tuned to find out what I think.

 

2019 NFL Draft Report Cards: NFC South Edition

Mandatory Minicamp has just concluded, and school is over for me.  So today, I’ll be resuming my NFL Draft Report Card series with the NFC South.  Teams in the NFC South either thrived in this draft or struggled mightily.  Which teams do I think benefitted the most?  Keep reading to see my Draft Report Card for each team, including a grade for each pick as well as my final grades.  As I post more articles, I will also include links to the rest of my draft grades.

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NFL Draft Report Cards 2019

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

carolina-panthers-logo Carolina Panthers

Overall Grade: B+

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

Overall, this was a pretty solid draft for Carolina.  They found a high upside WR in Round 7 to replace Devin Funchess.  They filled their needs at tackle and edge early.  They even took a QB in case Cam Newton fails to stay healthy.  Will Grier is a big upgrade for Carolina at backup QB as opposed to Taylor Heinicke or Kyle Allen.

The Panthers did have a lot of needs going in, and with just 7 picks, it was hard to fill them all.  But they could’ve traded down at some point, and they could’ve taken a corner to play across from Donte Jackson as opposed to RB Jordan Scarlett.  Christian McCaffrey is a long term solution for Carolina at RB1, and they are set if he gets hurt thanks to Cameron Artis-Payne.  It’s somewhat smart to add depth there in case multiple injuries occur, but they needed a corner more, and McCaffrey has not been terribly injury prone.  Despite a couple mistakes in the later rounds, this was a pretty good draft, and it would’ve been hard for Carolina to do much better.

nosaints New Orleans Saints

Overall Grade: B

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

It was hard for the Saints to succeed with only 5 picks, 4 of which were on Day 3.  But unlike Philadelphia, who was also limited to 5 picks, the Saints found a way to fill a few needs early on and make the most of their draft situation.  They drafted Erik McCoy in Round 2 to fill their biggest need as he replaces the retired Max Unger at center.  They also snagged a top safety, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson with their 2nd pick.  They could have looked for a receiver later on, and some of their later picks were reaches, but the Saints got off to a strong start and should be able to look back and admire this draft class in a few years.

tampabaybuccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Overall Grade: C+

Analysis:

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Analysis:

The Buccaneers had some really strong picks, and some questionable ones.  The team will have flexibility on defense after drafting LB Devin White in Round 1 and edge rusher Anthony Nelson in the 4th.  But beyond that, the Bucs struggled in this draft.  They didn’t really fill many of their needs.  I would think they would draft a running back after the Year 1 struggles of Ronald Jones II, but maybe they need to give RoJo more of a chance before giving up on him, something other teams neglected to do for their rookie and second year busts.

The team also could’ve used more depth at WR beyond Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but they chose not to draft anyone until Round 6, when they reached for Scott Miller of Bowling Green.  They did sign Breshad Perriman, but I don’t know if that will be enough.  Expect to see a lot of 2 TE schemes with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate on the roster.    The team also reached for a kicker once again.  This team didn’t have that many huge needs, so I would’ve thought they would fill more of those as opposed to drafting three unnecessary defensive backs and reaching for some other players.

atlfalcons Atlanta Falcons

Overall Grade: C

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

The Falcons really needed some depth at linebacker with Vic Beasley playing defensive end, but they didn’t end up drafting one.  Who will be lining up on either side of Deion Jones come Week 1?  I can’t name anyone definitively right now.  They did get o-line help, but both o-linemen they drafted in Round 1 may have been found available in Round 2, or at least someone almost as good as them.  The team did draft some secondary depth and a couple RBs to backup for Devonta Freeman, but those picks were also reaches.  All of their picks were either a reach or an unnecessary pick.  I would’ve expected a couple spot on selections.


 

That’s all for this portion of my NFL Draft Report Cards.  In my next post, I’ll be reviewing the NFC West’s draft classes.  Which NFC West teams stood out the most in this year’s draft?  Stay tuned for my next post to find out.

2019 NFL Draft Report Cards: NFC North Edition

Welcome to the second part of my NFL Draft Grades.  Today, I’ll be reviewing the draft classes from the NFC North.  None of the teams in this division dominated in this year’s draft, but all four teams ended up with draft classes that were at least respectable.  What prevented each of these teams from draft dominance?  Keep reading to see my Draft Report Card for each team, including a grade for each pick as well as my final grades.  As I post more articles, I will also include links to the rest of my draft grades.

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NFL Draft Report Cards 2019

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

Image result for detroit lions logo Detroit Lions

Overall Grade: B-

Draft Report Card:

Analysis:

The #8 pick was a bit early for the Lions to draft a tight end, but it’s hard to pass up on Hockenson, so hopefully it pays off and Hock is an instant starter over Jesse James for Detroit.  Nauta was a steal in Round 7, but at that point the team had enough tight ends on the depth chart.

The Tavai pick, on the other hand, should help fill the team’s need for linebackers, but it was a bit of a reach.  I didn’t like the Harris pick either: the team was set at safety between Miles Killebrew and Tavon Wilson.

But after this, the team turned it around, getting great value and filling their gaping hole at DE by drafting Austin Bryant.  Bryant will fill the role Ezekiel Ansah formerly played, playing across from free agent signing Trey Flowers.

The Oruwariye pick was also a steal and added some good DB depth.  But for the most part, the later rounds of the draft were a disappointment for Detroit.  They reached for several players they didn’t even need while leaving holes at OLB and G wide open.  They did add G Beau Benzschawel as an undrafted free agent, but I would’ve expected the team to fill more needs during the draft with the amount of picks they had.

chicago-bears-logo Chicago Bears

Overall Grade: B-

Draft Report Card:

Analysis:

I can’t believe I’m saying this, because the Bears didn’t pick until Round 3.  But this draft was extremely top heavy.  The Bears started strong by finding Jordan Howard’s replacement in David Montgomery.  They added additional WR depth by drafting Riley Ridley, and I thought that was a good pick too.

But the rest of the draft was confusing.  They didn’t add depth where they needed it, and they took a couple players that shouldn’t have even been drafted at all.  They didn’t need another RB after drafting Montgomery.  An o-lineman or d-lineman would’ve contributed much more to the team.

Despite the struggles on Day 3, this was at least a decent draft as the Bears started off strong when it mattered most.

gbpackers2 Green Bay Packers

Overall Grade: C+

Draft Report Card:

Analysis:

The Packers drafted some quality athletes in the early rounds.  But despite a desperate need for WR help, they didn’t draft a single receiver.  Who’s going to start across from Davante Adams at WR?  I don’t think anyone on their current roster is a viable option.  Expect to see a lot of two TE schemes, especially after the addition of Jace Sternberger.  Jenkins does help add some o-line depth, but he’s not a good fit.  He entered this draft as a center.  Now he’ll have to be pushed over to guard where Green Bay needs him most.

I am a big fan of the Darnell Savage Jr. pick though.  Expect to see him making an impact right away next to veteran Adrian Amos.  The Dexter Williams pick was smart as well.  The Packers needed the RB depth, as they have yet to find a consistent RB1.  Aaron Jones has a ton of upside, but he is far from consistent.

The rest of this draft was no more than mediocre, as they continued to ignore their need for WR depth despite drafting at least 3 other players they didn’t need.  But they deserve some credit for the few picks they did fill needs with.

min-vikings-logo2 Minnesota Vikings

Overall Grade: C+

Draft Report Card:

Analysis:

This is a huge draft class, and some of these picks were very smart, but others were big mistakes.   The Marcus Epps selection was not necessary.  The Vikings have one of the league’s best secondaries, so adding a safety that never should’ve been drafted was not the smartest move.  I didn’t mind the Kris Boyd selection though, because the 7th round was actually a reasonable time to draft him.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the Bradbury pick either.  The o-line depth is helpful, but Bradbury’s not a great fit, and they had better options: Jawaan Taylor and Cody Ford were both still on the board at #18.  The Vikings needed guards and tackles much more, and drafting Bradbury either will force center Pat Elflein to shift to guard or force Bradbury to return there.

Unless Minnesota still wants to trade TE Kyle Rudolph, there was no need to draft Irv Smith Jr. when they could’ve drafted a defensive tackle.  They ended up with a DT steal in Round 6, Armon Watts.  But in my opinion, DT was their biggest draft need after Sheldon Richardson’s departure and the need should’ve been filled much, much earlier.  In the end, the Vikes did fill the rest of their needs, and Dillon Mitchell was a bargain in Round 7.  But they made a lot of unnecessary reaches and could’ve filled most of their positional needs a lot earlier.

That’s all for this portion of my NFL Draft Grades.  Next time, I’ll take a look at the NFC South, where two teams thrived in the draft and the other two struggled mightily.

NFL Draft Report Cards: AFC East Edition

Welcome to my first NFL Draft Report Card article of 2018.  I have given a grade to every pick of the 2018 NFL Draft and compiled the grades onto 32 report cards, one per team.  I averaged all the grades on each team to determine my final grade for each team’s NFL Draft.  To avoid overly long articles, I have split it into eight parts, one for each NFL division.  Let’s start with the AFC East, the home of the New England Patriots.

NFL Draft Report Cards

Image result for saquon barkley nfl draft photo

AFC East                                                              NFC East

AFC North                                                           NFC North

AFC South                                                           NFC South

AFC West                                                             NFC West

 

Miami Dolphins

Grade: B

What They Did Right: The Dolphins started off the draft on a strong note.  Rather than trading up for a QB of the future that they do not need quite yet, they took Minkah Fitzpatrick, a versatile defensive back who fits well into a Dolphins secondary that needs significant help.  This was a big steal by the Dolphins, and it’s not the first time they have done this.  They took T Laremy Tunsil, originally the projected No. 1 pick after he slid in the 2016 NFL Draft.  They also did a good job filling their needs early on, taking a strong pair of tight ends, a defensive back, a young RB, and a linebacker.

What They Did Wrong: They made some reaches in the later rounds, and they took a second linebacker, TE, and cornerback when they could have used some offensive line help.  But there are no fatal flaws here.  The Dolphins arguably had the best draft in the AFC East.

Buffalo Bills

Grade: B

What They Did Right: The Bills had a spectacular Day 1.  They took two grade-A prospects in Round 1, making smart trades to put themselves in position to get what they needed.  Josh Allen has very high potential, and he will definitely compete for the starting job.  Tremaine Edmunds brings much-needed help to the linebacking corps on the outside and on the inside.  They got a steal in Edmunds with the 16th pick. They also had two other quality steals. They took DT Harrison Phillips after he nearly fell to Round 3.  They do not really need a DT, but Phillips was a valuable pick for the Bills at this point in the draft.  They also scored a steal in G Wyatt Teller. Not only was Teller projected to be drafted much earlier, but he fills the hole that Richie Incognito left behind.  Teller has the chance to compete for a starting job and thrive in one across from fellow Bills linemen John Miller and Vladimir Ducasse. They topped off their strong draft with a couple of good wide receivers in the late rounds.

What They Did Wrong: The Bills already had what is emerging as one of the league’s premier secondaries.  Yet they drafted not just one, but two defensive backs. In the meantime, they failed to fill some of their more important needs like tackle and linebacker (they could have still used another prospect there after Edmunds). Despite many steals, they also took a couple guys too early, and they could’ve done a better job addressing their current needs.

New England Patriots

Grade: B-

What They Did Right: The Patriots addressed all of their major needs despite many trades down. They ended up with nine total draft picks and they used them wisely. They eventually selected a QB, RB, WR, TE, offensive lineman, corner, and a linebacker. They started things off strong with two good players out of Georgia to address major needs. They also picked up a major steal in WR Braxton Berrios.

What They Did Wrong: The Pats may have waited too long for a QB, but reports say that they would have traded up if Baker Mayfield is available, which would not be the right strategy either. They could have also taken a linebacker or a tight end earlier. They had four picks in the first two rounds, and they used them on one T, one RB, one CB, and a trade down. I didn’t really see RB and CB as needs that were urgent enough to spend a first or second rounder on, and they did not need to trade down. Their grade gets a boost for addressing all their major needs, something no other AFC East team did in my eyes. But they waited too long for certain needs I saw as urgent.

New York Jets

Grade: C+

What They Did Right: The Jets started off strong by taking an NFL ready QB with the 3rd pick. I also liked the players they picked in the 3rd and 4th rounds. These two players addressed needs and are on my list of draft sleepers. But the Jets draft began to plummet from there. Day 3 did not end up looking so good for them.

What They Did Wrong: The Jets could have had a good draft if they continued to address their needs or take top available prospects in the later rounds. But they took CB Parry Nickerson when they did not need a corner, and took a running back I had never heard of when they were totally fine at running back. They have Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell to handle the backfield. I doubt the RB they drafted will ever make an NFL roster, let alone an NFL start. They also took another DT in Round 6 when they had already done enough to address the defensive line.  If they were going to take two d-linemen, at least one of them should’ve been a defensive end, which is more of where the Jets need d-line help.

That’s all for Part 1 of my NFL Draft Report Cards. Stay tuned for more post-draft analysis soon.