The Daily Briefing Friday, April 27, 2018
AROUND THE NFL
Adam Stiles of SBNation singles out seven picks Thursday night that went against the grain:
Twice on Thursday night a player got picked who didn’t appear in a single one of the 97 mock drafts surveyed in our 2018 database. The first was running back Rashaad Penny, who was the No. 27 selection to the Seattle Seahawks. One pick later, the Pittsburgh Steelers made it two in a row by taking safety Terrell Edmunds at No. 28.
It’s possible that both picks could work out great. Penny was an ultra-productive bruiser who should fit in well as a north-south running back for the Seahawks. Edmunds is explosive with a 41.5-inch vertical and 134-inch broad jump — two of the top marks of the entire draft class.
But both were certainly two of the most unexpected selections Thursday night.
The Steelers take safety Terrell Edmunds
Tremaine Edmunds, the younger of the two Edmunds brothers, was a common sight in the top 10 of mock drafts. The 19-year-old linebacker ended up going No. 16 to the Buffalo Bills. Twelve picks later, his older brother, Terrell, was a shocking addition to the first round.
It’s not that the Steelers can’t use the secondary help. But Stanford’s Justin Reid and Wake Forest’s Jessie Bates were more frequently considered safeties who could sneak into the back half of the first round.
The Edmunds brothers then became the first pair of siblings to both go in the first round. And while it may have caught a lot of people off guard, Terrell has the explosive athletic ability to make the pick worthwhile for Pittsburgh.
Rashaad Penny goes to the Seahawks
Like Edmunds, the position isn’t what was surprising about the pick. It’s that other players — namely, LSU’s Derrius Guice and Georgia’s Sony Michel — were projected by most to go earlier than Penny.
Penny is 5’11, 220 pounds, which isn’t much different than Guice (5’11, 224) or Michel (5’11, 214). He was among the most productive college football players in the nation with 2,248 rushing yards and 28 total touchdowns. But that production came in the Mountain West, while Guice and Michel both tallied their totals in the SEC.
That didn’t stop Toledo product Kareem Hunt from being a draft steal in 2017, and the Seahawks will hope for the same with Penny.
Lamar Jackson falling to No. 32
Almost everyone thought the first four quarterbacks taken would be Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen, in some order, before Jackson was the fifth passer taken. That’s exactly what went down, but Jackson slipping to the final selection of the round was unexpected.
With so many teams in need of a passer to groom for the future — like the Saints, Patriots and Steelers — it seemed like the competition to grab the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner would heat up between picks 11 and 20.
Instead, team after team in need of a quarterback passed on Jackson. Then it was the Baltimore Ravens of all teams to take him — a team with Joe Flacco, a 33-year-old quarterback entering his 11th year as the starter.
The selection of Jackson won’t jeopardize Flacco’s chances at starting in 2018, but it does mean there’s a strong chance the Super Bowl winner doesn’t get to a 12th year as a starter. The Ravens didn’t trade into the first round to get a quarterback who will be a long-term backup. He’s the team’s future and probably won’t have to wait too long before he takes over.
Denzel Ward, not Bradley Chubb, gets picked at No. 4 by the Browns
No pick had experts more in agreement than Bradley Chubb going to the Browns at No. 4. But Cleveland pulled a fast one and grabbed the top cornerback of the class instead.
It wasn’t a huge need for the Browns after signing E.J. Gaines and T.J. Carrie to a secondary that already got strong play out of Briean Boddy-Calhoun in 2017. Cleveland also traded for Damarious Randall, a former first-round pick who player cornerback for the Green Bay Packers but will move to safety with the Browns.
But if Ward proves to be a shutdown, man cornerback like the Browns evidently believe he is, it’ll be easily worth the selection. But the question is whether he will prove to be worth passing on Chubb, the top pass rusher of the class.
The Jaguars add Taven Bryan to their defensive line
Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and Malik Jackson were all defensive linemen who made the Pro Bowl for the Jaguars in 2017. The line also has Marcell Dareus and Dante Fowler, a pair of former first-round picks who helped make the Jaguars defense an elite unit.
So most expected the team to address its offense in the first round with either a lineman, a receiver, a tight end, or maybe even a quarterback. Instead the Jaguars added to a position of strength by taking Bryan, another defensive lineman.
With Campbell, Jackson and Dareus combining for more than $40 million in cap space in 2019, the reality is that defensive tackle was going to become a need for the Jaguars soon. Either Dareus or Jackson is likely to be released and the team is going to need youth at the position.
But few expected that move to be made in 2018.
The 49ers go for OT Mike McGlinchey instead of a defensive player
After San Francisco invested at quarterback with a five-year, $137.5 million contract for Jimmy Garoppolo, it made sense that the team would aim to protect the passer by taking McGlinchey.
But with Joe Staley entrenched at left tackle and high hopes — despite trade rumors — for Trent Brown at right tackle, it’s possible that the No. 9 pick won’t even play much as a rookie.
McGlinchey is a 6’8, 309-pound tackle who has plenty of experience and probably slots in best as a right tackle. But if Brown isn’t traded and holds down the position, McGlinchey may need to kick inside to earn play time in his first season.
San Francisco was projected by most to go defense with the first pick, with Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Denzel Ward leading the way in mock drafts. Smith and Ward were off the board, but the 49ers passed on Fitzpatrick and Edmunds to address the offensive line.
The Saints trade up for Marcus Davenport
Standing 6’6, 264 pounds with 4.58 speed and a 33.5-inch vertical, it’s not difficult to see why Davenport landed in the first round. The UTSA product drew comparisons to Jadeveon Clowney during the pre-draft process, but the problem is that the late bloomer is still such a raw player of untapped potential.
That made him one of the most enigmatic prospects of the class. The most shocking part about the Saints taking him is that the team traded up 13 spots and gave up a 2019 first-round pick to secure the pass rusher.
The move up the order was so significant that most were convinced it had to be for quarterback Lamar Jackson. Picking the Louisville quarterback probably would’ve made no impact in 2018 for a team that has the pieces to be a Super Bowl contender, but it would be surprising if Davenport made much of an impact either as a rookie, either.
If he reaches his potential, he could join Ezekiel Ansah and Jason Pierre-Paul as another raw defensive end who turned his athleticism into Pro Bowl production. But just don’t expect it to happen right away.
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Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com is big on figuring out the value of things like trades. Here’s thinking he will think the Raiders and Saints came up short.
Given that the NFL offseason has been dominated by an unprecedented rash of trades, it should be no surprise that 12 teams engaged in eight different swaps during the first round of the NFL draft. It also wasn’t exactly a shock that three of those trades involved organizations moving up to grab quarterbacks, with five signal-callers eventually coming off the board during a wild opening round Thursday.
It’s obviously way too early to figure out who won those trades in terms of talent, but what we can do is analyze those deals in terms of the draft capital handed out. Teams will say that they’re happy with the guy they traded up to grab, given they wouldn’t have traded up if they weren’t guaranteed a player high on their draft board, but some of the moves we saw Thursday night cost much more than others. Most impressively, we saw two general managers — one making his draft debut and another on his way out — manipulate the board to come away with a player at a position of need while nabbing extra picks along the way.
Let’s break down those eight deals, starting with a move the Bills have been eyeing since the middle of the 2017 season. I’ll be listing the price each team paid to move up by two charts: first, the traditional chart developed by Jimmy Johnson, followed by the empirical chart developed by Chase Stuart at Football Perspective.
The Bills pay handsomely
Buccaneers send: Picks No. 7, 255
Bills send: Picks No. 12, 53, 56
Johnson chart: $1.27 on the dollar
Stuart chart: $1.57
The Bills didn’t have to send both of their first-round picks to the Bucs to move up and grab newly-controversial Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, but they didn’t get a discount by any means. In sending a pair of second-round picks to move up only five spots, they set a massive valuation on their quarterback of the future. By the Stuart chart, the Bills valued Allen as being worth more than the No. 1 overall pick, while the Johnson chart pegged Allen as somewhere between the third and fourth overall pick in a typical draft.
Obviously, there are questions about Allen and whether his arm strength can overcome the worst completion percentage we’ve seen for a top-10 pick in quite a while. That’s beyond the purview of this analysis (although I wrote at length about how the NFL struggles to evaluate quarterbacks and Allen at length earlier this month). In terms of the simple cost in dealing up for a quarterback, the Bills paid more on the dollar, proportionally, than either of the other passer deals in this year’s class, although less than the Jets, who paid more than $2.00 on the dollar for what ended up netting them Sam Darnold.
The Bills reportedly had a deal done with the Broncos earlier Thursday, only for Denver to back out when Bradley Chubb was surprisingly still on the board at No. 5 overall. This would have been a much fairer deal at five, and you have to wonder whether the Bills tried to get any discount or just made the same offer for the lesser pick. It would have been nicer to see the Bills send the 65th pick as opposed to the 56th selection, but they didn’t give up an extravagant amount to grab their quarterback.
Ozzie keeps dealing — Tennessee and Philly jump in
Ravens send: Picks No. 22, 215
Titans send: Picks No. 25, 125
Johnson chart: $0.98
Stuart chart: $1.18
The Titans moved up three spots to sneak ahead of the Patriots and grab another inside linebacker in Rashaan Evans, which should make Wesley Woodyard worried about his future in Tennessee. This was the most balanced (and therefore least interesting) trade of the night, although it might tell us a bit about how Mike Vrabel is going to value players in Tennessee. Unsurprisingly, he seems to like players who might remind people of Mike Vrabel.
Eagles send: Picks No. 32, 132
Ravens send: Picks No. 52, 125, 2019 second-round pick
Johnson chart: $1.34
Stuart chart: $1.45
I’m valuing future picks as if they were worth the 16th selection in the round in question and without any discount for time. While the fact that Lamar Jackson came off the board at the end of the first round seems to suggest that the Ravens are taking a flyer on a Heisman Trophy winner, this is a pretty significant investment by the Stuart model (which is similar to what an analytically-inclined team like the Ravens would use). Baltimore sent the rough equivalent of the sixth overall pick to acquire Jackson and a fourth-round selection, so this is a very nice return for an Eagles organization that had traded away its picks in the second and third rounds.
Drafting Jackson also puts Joe Flacco on notice, although moving on from their middling quarterback will still cost the Ravens a pretty penny. While the Flacco guaranteed money spigot turns off after the 2018 season, Baltimore would still have to account for $16 million in dead money if they cut Flacco next year. It’s likely they’ll designate Flacco as a post-June 1 release, which would free up $17.5 million in 2019 but push $8 million in dead money onto the 2020 cap.
In all, the Ravens traded the 16th pick, two second-rounders (No. 52 and their 2019 selection), and picks in the fifth (154) and seventh (215) rounds for two first-rounders (25 and 32), the first pick of the third round (65), and a fourth-round pick (132). That’s about even money on the Stuart chart.
Oakland deals, for better and worse
Raiders send: Picks No. 10
Cardinals send: Picks No. 15, 79, 152
Johnson chart: $0.98
Stuart chart: $1.35
Cardinals’ GM Steve Keim missed out on Patrick Mahomes when the Chiefs traded up last year, so it’s no surprise that he made a move of his own this year. He also got himself a great deal in the process, given that he actually turned a profit on the Johnson chart and paid less than either the Bills or Ravens did on the dollar by the Stuart model. It’s surprising that the Raiders weren’t able to scare the Cardinals into giving up the 46th pick with the threat of the Dolphins lurking at 11. Alternately, 15 and the Cardinals’ two third-round picks at 79 and 97 would have been a reasonable ask, given that it would have cost $1.04 on the dollar by the Johnson model.
Raiders send: Pick No. 75
Steelers send: WR Martavis Bryant
This is a swap we can judge, one that also doesn’t look kindly upon the Raiders. Nobody questions Bryant’s talent, but he already has two suspensions to his name and attempted to overthrow the Steelers locker room last year before losing his job to JuJu Smith-Schuster. He’s signed for one more year at $1.9 million before free agency. Even if Bryant stays on the straight and narrow and plays well during his debut season in Oakland, would the Raiders really want to make a long-term commitment to a player with Bryant’s track record? Oakland might be able to recoup a comp pick if they let Bryant leave, but that’s only if they mostly sit out free agency, which might not be the case. It’s difficult to believe that the Steelers had multiple teams willing to offer this much for one year of a player who has more often been frustrating and unavailable than on the field and productive.
The Saints slip, Seattle adds
Packers send: Pick No. 14
Saints send: Picks No. 27, 147, 2019 first-round pick
Johnson chart: $1.56
Stuart chart: $1.87
After nailing the draft over multiple picks last year, the Saints suddenly made the bizarre decision that they wanted to trade away a bunch of selections to go after one pass-rusher. It’s reasonable to want Marcus Davenport, but by the Stuart chart, Sean Payton sent something close to the first overall pick in terms of draft capital to acquire an edge rusher to play alongside Cameron Jordan next year. If the Saints disappoint next season — something that can happen unexpectedly with a 39-year-old quarterback — this could be an even larger boondoggle.
Teams don’t make this sort of investment in an edge rusher via trade very often. In terms of teams trading up from the bottom half of the draft with players and/or picks to move up to the top half and grab a defensive end, we’ve seen four trades over the previous 20 years. Those moves netted Damione Lewis, Jerome McDougle, Derrick Harvey, and Brandon Graham. Graham was the only one who turned into an impact player, and it even took him more than five seasons to emerge as a starter. None of those teams gave up an additional first-round pick as part of their move.
The arguments justifying this deal aren’t going to work, and they reek of the ill-advised decisions the Saints made in years past. They spent offseasons squeezing players like Jairus Byrd under the cap as part of the idea that they were one player away. They weren’t. They dealt first- and second-round picks to the Patriots to grab Mark Ingram, who wasn’t effective and healthy for any stretch of time until his fourth season, and that in an offense where players like Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory had been useful at running back for peanuts.
What are the chances that the edge rusher the Saints might have drafted at 27 (like Harold Landry) will turn out to be better than Davenport? Heck, what are the chances Davenport might have still been on the board at 27? If Davenport doesn’t turn into a superstar — and the odds are against any individual edge rusher turning into a superstar — the Saints spent far too much to make this move.
Seahawks send: Picks No. 18, 248
Packers send: Picks No. 27, 76, 186
Johnson chart: $1.07
Stuart chart: $1.35
After fleecing the Saints, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst finished off the first round of his debut draft as general manager by coming away with desperately-needed cornerback help in Jaire Alexander. The move saw the Packers send something close to the eighth overall pick as part of the swap, but it was a far cheaper move to fill a weakness than the one the Saints made. The Seahawks probably wanted a second-rounder to move down, but the third-rounder will help replace the one they shipped off in the Duane Brown deal.
Combine these two deals and you’ll note that Gutekunst moved down four spots in the first round, falling from 14 to 18. For his troubles, the Packers GM was allowed the opportunity to trade the 76th and 186th selections for a first-round chit in the 2019 draft, accompanied by picks 147 and 248. That’s a huge return, even if the Packers have to wait a year to realize the majority of the value. Green Bay fans should be delighted by their newly-promoted executive’s first big night at the helm.
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Mel Kiper, Jr. offers us this list of players likely to be drafted tonight. The first six names (and Daniels at #10) appeared in many Mock Drafts. It also will be interesting to see if someone like Pittsburgh, the Saints or the Chargers take Rudolph:
1. Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Is Jackson a one-year wonder? That one year as a contributor was fantastic — he led the FBS with eight interceptions. He’s going to be a good get at the top of the second round.
2. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Guice has first-round talent, and he can be a three-down back. When Leonard Fournette got injured at LSU in 2016, there was no drop-off with Guice. Now, Guice isn’t the same level of athlete as Fournette, but Guice can break tackles and has enough speed. Tampa Bay at pick 38 is a team to watch for running backs.
3. Justin Reid, S, Stanford
I like Reid a lot. I said earlier this month that he’s probably going to make my All-Rookie Team, wherever he ends up. He rose up boards because of his combine numbers, and he could be a steal at the top of Round 2.
4. Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
I’m a little surprised Goedert is still on the board. He’s my top-ranked tight end. My comp throughout the process for him has been the Eagles’ Zach Ertz. Could he make it to Miami at pick 42?
5. Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
Hernandez is one of the best run-blocking guards I’ve graded. Ever. He can get a little off balance at times in pass protection, but he’s so good as a run-blocker that teams just need to run behind him on every third-and-1. He’s a 327-pound mauler.
6. Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College
I loved Landry in 2016. He had 16.5 sacks as a junior. And he had a really strong combine a few months ago. But Landry struggled with an ankle injury last season and wasn’t the same player, finishing with only five sacks in eight games. So, which player is an NFL team going to get? That’s the question. He’s the best 3-4 pass-rusher in this class.
7. Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
When I watch Jones on tape, the word “elusive” sticks out. He just makes people miss. I know some teams like Jones as the second-best back in this class.
8. Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
Jackson is a burner — 4.32-second 40-yard dash speed. He is one of the fastest prospects in this class, and I thought there was a chance he could go in the first 32 picks. He’s only 5-10, 178 pounds, so he’s smaller, but look at what Adoree’ Jackson (5-11, 185) did as a rookie for the Titans.
9. Geron Christian, OT, Louisville
I’ve already got Christian going to the Browns at pick 35 in my perfect Browns mock draft. It makes too much sense. Joe Thomas is gone, and there’s going to be a competition at left tackle. Christian could win that job.
10. James Daniels, C, Iowa
If it’s an offensive lineman out of Iowa, you know he’s going to be technically sound. Daniels is athletic and physical, and he doesn’t turn 21 until September.
11. Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
Gesicki was one of the top combine risers after he posted a ridiculous 40 time (4.54) and vertical leap (41.5 inches). His tape is up and down, though, and you’d like to see him extend for catches more. He uses his body too much. Dallas at pick 50 makes a ton of sense.
12. Uchenna Nwosu, OLB, USC
I wrote this earlier this month: “Nwosu might be the best pure pass-rusher available when Round 2 begins on Friday night.” And guess where we are now? At 6-2, 251, he’s undersized, but he’s a relentless edge rusher who’s perfect for a 3-4 team. How about the Redskins at pick 44?
13. Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
At 6-0, 201, Oliver is a bigger corner. And his 4.50 40 at the combine is fast enough. I like him early on Day 2.
14. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
A team could trade up at the top of Round 2 to take Rudolph, the No. 6 quarterback in this class. He’s a little stiff athletically, but he throws a great deep ball and he has a ton of experience.
15. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Chubb might fall to the 50s, but I really like him. He showed at the combine that he’s getting back his elite athleticism that the knee injury in 2015 took away.
16. Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
17. D.J. Chark, WR, LSU
18. Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
19. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
20. Connor Williams, OT, Texas
21. Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
22. Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia
23. Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest
24. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
25. Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana
– – –
Here are some names from ProFootballFocus.com which has crazy love for one DT MAURICE HURST, Michigan:
3. MAURICE HURST, MICHIGAN – INTERIOR DEFENDER
The prototypical 3-technique defensive tackle, Hurst offers a pass-rushing toolbox that no other interior player in this class can come close to matching. His four-year career of grades is unlike anything we’ve ever seen at the defensive tackle position, proving his durability and sustainability at the position.
8. JOSH JACKSON, IOWA – CORNERBACK
Iowa’s Jackson broke out with a huge season in 2017, not just leading all corners in overall PFF grade in 2017, but he had the highest grade we have seen from any of the corners in this class across their entire college careers. He allowed an NFL passer rating of just 36.5 when targeted on 91 passes, a lower mark than if the quarterback had just thrown the ball at the dirt every play instead. He is also extremely young at the position, having only moved to corner in 2015, so his potential is sky high.
12. HAROLD LANDRY, BOSTON COLLEGE – EDGE DEFENDER
If Landry came out a season ago, he may very well have been a top-10 pick. His high end as a pass-rusher is as dominant as anyone we’ve graded at the college level not named Bosa or Garrett. We can forgive an injury-riddled 2017 when athleticism is such a big part of Landry’s game.
17. WILL HERNANDEZ, UTEP – GUARD
Hernandez may be limited to a straight-forward gap/inside zone scheme, but he should be a dominant run-blocker if he is put in one. The UTEP guard possesses an almost comically-thick build that makes him a people mover in the run game. He was PFF’s highest-graded guard in 2016.
18. CONNOR WILLIAMS, TEXAS – TACKLE
Scrap Williams’ injury-riddled 2017 tape and go back to his sophomore year. That season he was utterly dominant and allowed only four pressures all season. Not many true sophomores are capable of the level of play we saw from Williams in 2016, as he flashed all the tools necessary to be a high-level tackle in the NFL.
21. DALLAS GOEDERT, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE – TIGHT END
One of the best offensive playmakers in the draft, Goedert is weapon both before and after the catch. He has the size and body control to make spectacular catches and also the athleticism to create after the catch as he tied for the national lead with 12 missed tackles forced and averaging a gaudy 8.2 yards after the catch per reception last season. Goedert dominated FCS competition, but also showed well when facing FBS teams during his career, and he has offensive mismatch potential at the next level.
24. JAMES WASHINGTON, OKLAHOMA STATE – WIDE RECEIVER
Few receivers can match Washington’s production over the last few years as he’s been one of the best downfield threats in the class. He led the nation with 815 deep receiving yards last season and his ability to maintain his speed in and out of his breaks makes him a threat at all levels. He tacked on a dominant Senior Bowl week to his productive career and Washington has the skills to beat press coverage and win on the outside.
25. MASON RUDOLPH, OKLAHOMA STATE – QUARTERBACK
With three straight years grading at 90.0-plus, Rudolph is going overlooked in this draft class. He was certainly aided by weak Big 12 defenses and a loaded group of receivers, but Rudolph has a good feel for throwing outside the numbers and he’s improved his ability to throw tight-window passes in between the numbers. Last season, he had the second-best grade in the draft class both from a clean pocket and when pressured, and Rudolph should at least be in the conversation when it comes to first-round hopefuls in the draft class.
32. JAMARCO JONES, OHIO STATE – TACKLE
Jones wins the award for prettiest pass sets in the entire class. That’s even more encouraging considering how little Ohio State’s offense asked him to take true pass sets. He’s already NFL ready in that regard and has improved every season of his college career.
33. DONTE JACKSON, LSU – CORNERBACK
One of the most exciting athletes in this cornerback class, LSU’s Jackson has speed to burn and short area quickness to go along with it. He is 5-foot-11, but is lightweight at under 180-pounds, which could cause him problems at the next level against big, strong receivers. He has played in the slot in college, which may help his transition to the NFL, and needs to play the ball better than he has in the past, but his potential is very intriguing.
36. ISAIAH OLIVER, COLORADO – CORNERBACK
A tall, long corner who perfectly fits the profile of what NFL teams are looking for in a cornerback these days. Oliver hits the league one year behind a pair of teammates that both flashed early potential as rookies. He is still a little raw and does get out of control at times with that large frame, but his potential is huge, and he fits the profile NFL teams want a lot better than some players on this list, which could see him drafted higher than he would otherwise be.
38. COURTLAND SUTTON, SMU – WIDE RECEIVER
One of the bigger receivers in the class, Sutton uses his long frame to create plays down the field. He has good quickness for his size, showing up with 26 forced missed tackles on his 143 catches over the last two years. He can be a red zone and downfield weapon at the next level as he plays with more juice than some of the other big-bodied receivers in the class.
39. RONALD JONES II, USC – RUNNING BACK
USC’s Jones had the highest overall PFF grade in the entire nation in 2017 (92.4), a mark that is also tied for the highest single-season grade posted by any back in this class over their college careers. Jones isn’t the receiving threat that Barkley is, with just 40 targets over the past three years of play, but his carries are something special and he is, to an extent, the antithesis of Barkley’s running style, as he usually maximizes what his blockers provide for him.
40. OGBONNIA OKORONKWO, OKLAHOMA – EDGE DEFENDER
A tad undersized, Okoronkwo has enough length and juice to make us think he can hold up on the edge. Unlike Davenport, Okoronkwo more than held his own at the Senior Bowl and flourished in the actual game with two sacks and four other hurries.
41. NICK CHUBB, GEORGIA – RUNNING BACK
Injury threatened to derail Nick Chubb’s career but 2017 saw him back to his best for the Georgia Bulldogs. He had an elusive rating of 95.2, the fourth-best mark in the draft class and posted the best overall PFF grade of his college career (87.8). Chubb has elite-level athletic skills, cutting ability and vision, and has a relatively low workload because he split duty in the Georgia backfield with Sony Michel. If teams are happy with how he checks out medically, he could be an early star.
42. CARLTON DAVIS, AUBURN – CORNERBACK
A big, physical cornerback, Davis has the talent to be exactly what NFL teams are looking for at the position right now. He is aggressive and makes receptions extremely hard work, but he has done so at times by stepping well past the acceptable contact line, especially the NFL’s acceptable line. He was flagged six times in 2017, and all were defensive pass interferences. He needs to back off the contact a little, but he has shutdown qualities to his game.
43. MIKE GESICKI, PENN STATE – TIGHT END
Gesicki excels at using his long frame to create big plays on off-target throws and in contested situations while using his long strides to glide down the field. His size and body control makes him an option against safeties and linebackers when lined up on the outside. Gesicki has struggled in the run game, failing to crack a 60.0 run-blocking grade in any year of his career, so he’ll have to be managed at the next level in order to tap into his contested-catch ability.
45. DERRIUS GUICE, LSU – RUNNING BACK
A prototypical back from a size and speed standpoint, Guice is another player that could make a strong impact right away. He averaged 4.1 yards after contact per carry in 2015 and 2016 before dropping to 3.2 yards after contact on average in 2017 with a heavier workload. There is again little to dislike about Guice and the only negative was that he lost a notable level of dynamism with a heavier workload at LSU in his final season.
47. KYLE LAULETTA, RICHMOND – QUARTERBACK
Lauletta posted the top grade among all quarterbacks in the draft class when throwing at the intermediate (10-19-yard) level, though he must improve his work on the deep ball where he ranked 34th among draft-eligible quarterbacks. He had an excellent week at the Senior Bowl where he showed off his red-zone accuracy and came away with the top grade among quarterbacks during team drills.
Will the Cowboys pull the trigger on this trade today? Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com:
Back in March, just as free agency was starting, the Seahawks were in the process of dismantling one of the best defenses of this century. Michael Bennett was traded, Richard Sherman was released and it looked like Earl Thomas could soon follow them.
The All-Pro safety remains on Seattle’s roster, presumably because, as CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported at the time, the Seahawks were looking for a first and third-round pick from any team interested in trading for Thomas. But in any negotiation initial offers are just that; if there’s no demand for Thomas at that price, the organization will need to either lower their asking price or commit to keeping the safety, who is in the final year of his current deal and is reportedly looking to make $11 million annually.
Which brings us to the Cowboys, which La Canfora reported in March as one of the teams interested in Thomas. And if you’re wondering whether there’s mutual interest, may we direct you to this exchange from last December:
Earl Thomas runs to greet Jason Garrett, then as he walks into the COWBOYS lockerroom, he says, “If you have a chance to get me, come get me.”
On Thursday, hours before the 2018 NFL Draft, ESPN.com‘s Dan Graziano reports that the Cowboys aren’t done making a push for Thomas, but added, “Two sources said the trade discussions between Seattle and Dallas have centered around the Cowboys’ second-round pick (No. 50 overall) but that no deal will be done until the Cowboys figure out whether they can sign Thomas long term.”
Thomas is set to make $8.5 million in 2018 but the Cowboys aren’t trading a second-round pick for what would amount to a one-year deal; if there is a trade, it will almost certainly include Thomas getting a new contract.
As for Thomas’ “come get me” remarks to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett last December, well, he the Orange, Texas native and former University of Texas star can explain:
“I don’t literally mean, ‘Come get me now,'” he said shortly after the video emerged on social media. “I’m still in the prime of my career. I still want to be here. But when Seattle kicks me to the curb, please, the Cowboys, come get me. This is the only place I’d rather be if I get kicked to the curb.”
It looks like Thomas could get his wish.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Dave Gettleman of the Giants doesn’t sound like he was tempted to give up RB SAQUON BARKLEY in this tweet from Tom Rock of Newsday:
Add this to Dave Gettleman’s Greatest Hits:
“People call you and they want the second pick of the draft for a bag of donuts, a hot pretzel and a hot dog. Leave me alone. I don’t have time to screw around.”
Mel Kiper, Jr. approves of Atlanta’s All-Alabama WR corps:
Calvin Ridley at No. 26 is going to be a steal, and the Falcons are going to be a prolific offense — again — in 2018. The Alabama wide receiver dropped a little bit after the combine, but he’s the best wideout in this class, and he already is a great route runner. Trust the tape on Ridley. And watch him and Julio Jones light up defenses.
It looks like TE GREG OLSON won’t be heading to the broadcast booth anytime soon. SBNation.com:
Greg Olsen emerged as Cam Newton’s favorite target in his six years with the Panthers. That value hasn’t been lost on Carolina — and, on Thursday, the franchise rewarded it by inking their star tight end to a two-year extension that could make him the NFL’s highest-paid tight end, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Panthers’ TE Greg Olsen is signing a two-year extension today worth $8.55M per year with a max value of up to $10.05M per year, per source. Could make him NFL’s highest paid TE.
Olsen’s contract, a three-year, $22.5 million extension signed in 2015, was set to expire after the 2018 season. His new deal ensures he’ll stick around in Charlotte — and potentially end his career with the team that turned him from complementary piece to game-breaking player. Especially since it seems he’s primed to be in the broadcast booth soon, after an audition to be Jon Gruden’s Monday Night Football replacement.
What does Olsen bring to the Panthers?
The veteran tight end blossomed into a star in Charlotte, stringing together three Pro Bowl appearances and two All-Pro honors in his six seasons with the club. Olsen got better as he got older, putting together a three-year stretch from 2014-16 that stands with some of the best in NFL history at his position. He had 241 receptions, 3,185 receiving yards, and 16 touchdowns in that span — making his case as the league’s most dangerous tight end.
That proficiency helped push the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015, but the Panthers haven’t been able to reach those lofty heights in the years since. Though the franchise rebounded from a 6-10 season to return to the playoffs this winter, their stay was a short one. Carolina was bounced from the Wild Card round by a Saints’ team that notched its third win of the season over the Panthers.
That wasn’t Olsen’s fault, though. After missing the bulk of the season due to a broken foot, the veteran returned in time to make a big impact in the playoffs. His eight catch, 107-yard performance proved his value in defeat — and stated a compelling case for his 2018 extension.
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com on the odd rollercoaster for Saints fans:
One of the most tense moments on Thursday night came just after the NFL announced the Saints had traded a first- and a fifth-round pick in 2018 and a 2019 first-round pick to the Packers just to move up 13 spots in the first round (from 27 to 14). In the minutes that followed, it was hard not to imagine a future in New Orleans that included Sean Payton breaking the brains of opposing defenses for the next decade with Lamar Jackson throwing the ball to Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas.
Instead, the Saints gave up all that draft capital to grab a pass-rushing project in UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport. Considering the Saints’ incredible draft haul a year ago (which included Kamara, plus Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore, tackle Ryan Ramczyk and safety Marcus Williams), perhaps New Orleans should get the benefit of the doubt. But the team’s track record under GM Mickey Loomis has a lot more misses than hits when it comes to the search for pass-rush help. This smells like a “one more piece away” type of move from a team that’s trying to win it all while the franchise quarterback (Drew Brees) is still able. Those moves rarely work out.
For what it’s worth, the DB likes what the Buccaneers did Thursday, which will become more apparent once we see what they do with three of the next 24 picks in a second round supposedly filled with gold. Figure a DB, a running back and ?. The AP:
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not be finished wheeling and dealing in the NFL draft.
The team traded down five spots in the opening round, selected Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea 12th overall, while also putting themselves in a better position to be impact players on Day Two by receiving a pair of second-round draft picks from the Buffalo Bills.
General manager Jason Licht now has three picks in Round 2 — No. 38, 53 and 56 overall. He’s happy about having Vea, a rare blend of strength and quickness for a prospect his size.
“I’m smiling from ear-to-ear,” Licht said Thursday night.
The former University of Washington standout will be plugged into a revamped defensive line anchored by six-time Pro Bowl tackle Gerald McCoy and bolstered by last month’s trade for pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul and the signing of Beau Allen, Vinny Curry and Mitch Unrein in free agency.
The Bucs ranked last in the NFL with 23 sacks a year ago. Upgrading the defensive line and a porous secondary are among the top priorities after going 5-11 and missing the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season.
Is it commendable pride and confidence or unbridled arrogance? QB JOSH ROSEN came up spitting fire after going with the 10th pick to Arizona. Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com:
The longer Josh Rosen waited in the green room inside AT&T Stadium on Thursday night, the more mad — and more motivated — he became.
After being selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the 10th overall pick Thursday night in the NFL draft, Rosen told reporters that he was “pissed” and “really angry” he fell outside of the top three.
“There were nine mistakes ahead of me,” Rosen said.
But when the Cardinals finally selected him after trading three of their picks this year to the Oakland Raiders to move up and snag the former UCLA quarterback, Rosen was relieved and inspired, yet still unhappy all at once.
“I thought I should’ve been picked at 1, 2 or 3,” Rosen said. “I dropped and I was pissed. I was really, really angry. I wasn’t really showing it. I was trying to keep calm, cool, composed. But I thought I was going to get picked and I thought I was going to have to put on a face and try and fake happiness. But for some reason, right when I got that call, that’s not what happened. I got really happy and really motivated.
“All I wanted to do was basically get on a plane right then and go straight to Arizona and start working. It was definitely a surprise when I got that phone call in terms of the emotions I was feeling. But I think everything happens for a reason.”
Rosen found a home he seems happy with, and the Cardinals drafted their quarterback of the future (his selection marked the first time four quarterbacks were taken in the top 10 in the common draft era).
General manager Steve Keim said he did “quite a bit of work” on Rosen, who said his visit with the Cardinals was “just like any other visit.” He didn’t leave Arizona feeling like the Cardinals would certainly draft him, but he didn’t leave sensing they’d pass if given the opportunity.
“Today was an indication of how we felt about Josh Rosen,” said Keim, who scouted Rosen twice in person.
Keim believes Rosen is “one of the most mechanically sound quarterbacks to come out in some time” and called him “arguably the most intelligent” player in this year’s draft.
New coach Steve Wilks said Rosen did a “great job” with offensive coordinator Mike McCoy at the board during his visit and added the team was impressed with Rosen’s “command of the room.”
So why did Rosen drop from a potential top-three pick to the bottom of the top 10?
“I don’t know and I don’t care,” Rosen said. “It’s behind me. I’m an Arizona Cardinal now and I hope I will be for many, many years.”
Rosen enters a Cardinals quarterbacks room alongside veterans Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon, who both signed with Arizona as free agents in March. But Rosen, who said he “obviously” wants to be the starter, doesn’t plan on creating havoc internally.
“I’m not going to come in and be an a-hole and think that my s— don’t stink. Sorry to say that,” Rosen said. “I understand the situation. I’m going to come in and I’m going to be respectful. Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon are both two amazing quarterbacks.
“But we’re all professionals and we’re going to compete our butts off. Regardless of who the starter is, we’re all going to support that person.”
As of now, Arizona’s starter is Bradford, according to Wilks. But Wilks also didn’t commit to Bradford in Week 1, instead saying that the best 11 players will be on the field.
“If I’m not (the starter), I’m going to support the team,” Rosen said. “I’m not Team Josh Rosen playing on the Arizona Cardinals. I’m part of the Arizona Cardinals and I want to win Super Bowls for the Arizona Cardinals, and I think over time, that’ll happen.”
Rosen was openly critical of President Donald Trump in a 2016 Instagram post that showed him wearing a hat with a ribbon that said “F— Trump” on it while golfing at one of Trump’s golf courses. He will be living and playing in a conservative state, but Rosen isn’t worried about that.
“No, not at all,” he said. “Being political in the future, I’m not pulling for one side or the other. I’m just going to encourage people to speak their mind and have opinions and shape those opinions, form those opinions — have a conversation. I’m not pulling for one side or the other. I want to make it to cool to be a good person and to talk and have conversations about everything, whether it be politics, whether it be anything.”
And Rosen, who developed a reputation in college for speaking his mind, doesn’t plan on changing now that he’s in the NFL.
“Maybe if I shut up these last three years, I could’ve been picked higher but I don’t want that,” he said. “I want to be me. The Arizona Cardinals know what they’re getting. They’re not going to get a kid that’s going to say stupid things and piss people off unnecessarily. They’re going to get a kid that everyone knows who they’re getting every single day that I walk in the building.”
Reading between the lines, he was okay with being picked up to #3, Rosen is especially upset that the Bills took JOSH ALLEN, he of the 56% completion percentage while winning Honorable Mention honors in the Mountain West.
In Arizona, the Cardinals fell into Josh Rosen when he started sliding. Had he gone at six or seven, the price to move up from Arizona’s pick at 15 would have been prohibitive. Keim definitely didn’t want to spend next year’s first-round pick, and there were so many players in a rich second round this year that he didn’t want to use his mid-second-rounder this year either. Luckily, the Raiders settled for third- and fifth-round picks, and the Cardinals had their quarterback of the future.
I’ll always feel that Rosen was the victim of a whisper campaign in pushing him down in the draft. I’m not saying he should have been the first quarterback picked. This year, beauty was in the eye of the beholder; there was no absolutely sure thing. But Rosen got knocked for being politically conscious, for having rich parents, for some teams wondering how much he loved football, for having some teams wonder if his teammates loved him … it got dizzying, trying to figure which team marked him down for what reason. Here’s a quarterback who clearly is the most ready to play tomorrow in the NFL, and who’s a different kind of guy, and who’s never been in any serious trouble, and the NFL just kept poking holes in him because he didn’t fit the just-get-in-line-and-don’t-make-trouble mold.
“This is a function of our league sometimes,” Keim told me. “We fall in love with a player, then we start to judge personalities. And we scout the player, and we like the player, and then we judge the guy on his personality? Come on. We found a guy we feel we can build around, and that’s good enough for us.”
The DB has printed approximately 50 Mock Drafts this year. Leave it to John Schneider to draft a guy who did not appear on any of them in the first round. Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com, who thinks great running backs (like Alvin Kamara) are always hanging around in the later rounds, doesn’t like the pick:
Pete Prisco: He’s a nice runner, but they have so many other needs and there are better backs. Weird.
This from the AP:
Once again, John Schneider and Pete Carroll left observers a little surprised by the Seattle Seahawks’ first selection in the NFL draft.
This time, it included the player they picked — San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny.
“I’m one of those guys I came from a realistic program with a realistic head coach. He always said I was going to be the best player on the field. But then you start looking at all the mocks and the projections,” Penny said Thursday night. “But then as the process started going on and on I started to realize the mocks and the projections don’t mean anything. Now I see it’s real. It don’t matter what the projections say. It’s just unexpected.”
The Seahawks used the No. 27 selection in the first round to strengthen their commitment to an offense based around the run and put less of the offensive onus on quarterback Russell Wilson. Penny will help affirm that focus, even if the pick came with a number of other players available that could have helped Seattle at other positions, including along the defensive line and in the secondary.
He joins rare company as just the third running back selected in the first round of the draft in franchise history, along with Curt Warner (No. 3 in 1983) and Shaun Alexander (No. 19 in 2000).
“He has truly run a lot of stuff that we want to run with him,” Carroll said. “That’s great in the evaluation. He’s also been a shotgun runner at times, too. We’ve seen the moves and the cuts he needs to show us (in) that stuff we like to do in a big way that includes Russell’s factor. There’s no limitations, there’s just no limitations.”
Seattle traded the No. 18 pick and a seventh-round selection to Green Bay to move back nine spots. The trade landed Seattle a coveted third-round pick and a selection in the sixth round. Seattle entered the draft without any picks on the second day of the draft.
Penny was one of the elite running backs in college football last season as he became a full-time starter for the first time. He led the nation with 2,248 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns for the Aztecs. Penny rushed for at least 200 yards in each of the final five games to close out the 2017 season and had 13 rushing TDs during the stretch. He also showed his versatility as a pass catcher out of the backfield, and had two kickoff return touchdowns and another TD on a punt return.
Penny was a first-team Associated Press All-America selection and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting. His credentials are significant and he enters the NFL without having a heavy load of carries in college, which helped separate Penny from some other running back options.
“I just think the fact the guy doesn’t have quite as much wear and tear, can score from anywhere on the field, great hands,” Schneider said.
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report has a scouting report:
—Penny looks the part on the hoof with NFL size, strength, speed and vision. He also produced as a runner, receiver and return man at SDSU.
—Is a very good outside runner (mostly to the left) and has the speed to pick up serious yardage. He has impressive quickness to cut.
—Penny is naturally strong and carries his 220-pound frame well with broad shoulders. He’s strong and could see a heavy workload right out of the gate.
—Great touchdown production (25 offensive TDs in 2017) and is an asset in the red zone as a runner and receiver.
—Penny is a patient runner who is scheme-versatile because of his tool set (power, quickness).
—Penny is good but doesn’t wow you with any one trait. Might be more solid than special.
—For a shorter back, he runs tall, exposes his body to massive hits and doesn’t run through much contact.
—Scouts told us they expect he’ll struggle picking up an NFL playbook and doesn’t handle football concepts well.
—Is a bit of a one-lane runner at times and doesn’t wow you with vision and cutback ability.
Penny’s production was eye-opening at SDSU, and he fits the profile of a starting NFL back with his size, speed, strength and quickness. He looks like a solid Day 2 pick with an early starter grade.
Mark Kizla of the Denver Post with the consensus that the Broncos did really well to just sit there and wait.
Is it stealing when 275 pounds of pure football gold falls in your lap?
John Elway got away with the heist of the NFL draft. All Elway had to do was sit there and let Bradley Chubb, an absolute defensive gem, fall to the Broncos with the fifth pick in the first round.
“It was a surprise,” said Chubb, who wasn’t expecting his phone to light up with a 303 number when his name was called in the draft.
Let’s give Elway full credit … for being lucky. And patient.
Itching to trade up for a quarterback or back to collect extra picks, Elway made his best draft choice since Von Miller in 2011, simply by sitting back and watching as his fellow NFL general managers used the first and third picks to grab quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold, neither of whom are as talented football players as Chubb.
Every team runs as many draft scenarios as the imagination will allow to be prepared when it’s time to go on the clock to make a selection. How many of Denver’s mock drafts had Chubb available with the fifth pick?
“Zero,” Elway said Thursday.
That the New York Giants took Penn State running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2 was no surprise. But the real shocker: The Browns, being the Browns, reached for Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward with the fourth pick, erasing Elway’s plan to move back in a deal with quarterback-desperate Buffalo.
How much trade chatter was there?
“A ton. A lot more than normal,” Elway said Thursday. “We just felt that where we were and with Bradley staring at us, we couldn’t pass him up.”
For all the mindless yammering about Denver needing to draft a quarterback, Elway got a lot more bang for his buck at No. 5 by taking a player that will make an immediate impact on the AFC West standings, to say nothing of the creaky bones of 36-year-old Philip Rivers.
“I’m ready to do my thing,” Chubb said.
And his thing is to make dudes like Derek Carr and Patrick Mahomes miserable.
On the Vegas strip, Broncos linebacker Von Miller got so out-of-his-mind excited when Denver selected Chubb that the Vonster began to strip.
“We got Bradley Chubb! It’s crazy!” shouted Miller, ripping off his shirt for the entertainment of the audience following him on Instagram. “It got hot in here. It got hot, man. Take off my clothes.”
Chubb aspires to be a combination of Oakland Raiders star Khalil Mack and Miller, his new teammate. Maybe that’s hype. But nobody wants to buy into it more than the Vonster. Why did Miller see his sack production slip from 13.5 in 2016 to 10 last season? Well, no offense to Shane Ray or Shaq Barrett. But those teammates failed bring enough heat on the quarterback to allow Miller the room to dance.
The truth nobody in Broncos Country wants to admit is the defense that won Super Bowl 50 was in decline from the moment DeMarcus Ware left town. The talent drain was real: Malik Jackson, T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib. All gone.
When Buffalo came begging for the No. 5 pick, had Elway traded back, it would have announced to Chris Harris Jr., all his teammates in the Denver locker room and faithful fan in Broncos Country that the team was in full rebuild mode.
Getting Chubb means the Broncos are back in the game of winning now.
This is especially good news for coach Vance Joseph. Had Denver selected a quarterback to watch from the sideline and learn from veteran Case Keenum, it would have done nothing to improve the team’s chances of a winning record in 2018. And does anybody really expect Joseph to keep his job if the Broncos fail to make the playoffs this season?
Chubb won the Bronco Nagurski Trophy, given to the nation’s top defender. The lone question I have is if Denver’s 3-4 scheme best suits his pass-rushing skills as a defensive end. Joseph said Chubb will be an outside linebacker in Denver’s base defense. It will be a schematic and teaching challenge for a staff that wasn’t very effective at those basics of coaching during an 11-loss season in 2017.
Can Chubb, who might be a tad slow for the NFL as a stand-up linebacker, find a comfort level as a hybrid defender?
“If you watch the film last year I did it a lot. I stood up a lot and I was in a three-point stance a lot,” Chubb said. “I’m used to both things and I’m ready to see where I fit.”
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
S DERWIN JAMES, the consensus pick at #7 for the Buccaneers, fell to #17 and the Chargers snatched him up to applause from Mel Kiper, Jr.:
How did Florida State safety Derwin James make it to No. 17? With no top-tier nose tackles on the board there, general manager Tom Telesco didn’t have to contemplate passing over the best player available for a need position. James is going to play immediately, and I think he’ll be on my all-rookie team in 2018. I love this pick.
There was a sense the Ravens were enamored with QB LAMAR JACKSON and wanted to change the vibe in Baltimore. But they had a funny way of showing the love, trading down twice, taking a tight end, letting the Patriots stare at Jackson twice – before trading up to nab him with the 32nd pick.
Mike Florio on the future:
Regardless of whether quarterback Lamar Jackson becomes the steal of round one by developing into the kind of player at the NFL level that he was at Louisville, the willingness of the Ravens to trade up to take a rookie quarterback means that they are getting toward the end of the line with the quarterback they traded down then up to get in 2007.
So how much longer will Joe Flacco be in Baltimore?
Yes, he’s the quarterback for now (just like Alex Smith was a year ago in Kansas City), but Flacco’s cap hit will be $26.5 million in 2019, and the cap charge for trading or cutting him will be $16 million. His Bortlesesque base salary of $18.5 million come 2019 makes the contract more tradeable than the cap number would suggest. But he’ll be 34 in January, and there may not be an obvious trade partner after the season, pending injuries or other developments in 2018.
If a trade partner can’t be found, the Ravens could split the cap charge between 2019 and 2020, dropping it to $8 million in each of those two years.
Come 2020, the cap charge moves north of $28 million and the dead money drops to $8 million. Which means that, regardless of who the next starter will be, Flacco likely has two years left at the very most — barring a sudden rediscovery of individual and team performance that turns the clock back to 2012.
Mel Kiper, Jr. politely questions the doings of the Browns, which represents conventional wisdom among experts:
New Browns general manager John Dorsey is rolling the dice by taking Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 pick. Yes, we heard the buzz over the past few days; I even changed my final mock draft on Thursday morning. And we know Browns consultant Scot McCloughan, the former Redskins GM, thought Mayfield was the best QB in this draft. But I still thought Dorsey might take Darnold or Wyoming’s Josh Allen, who were both higher on my board.
I know Dorsey saw Mayfield play in person in 2017, and I know Dorsey liked him after meeting with him. And listen, I like Mayfield as a player. But he’s the No. 12 prospect on my board, and I don’t like him as the first overall pick. He’s not very big (6 feet, 215 pounds), and he played in a creative offense at Oklahoma in which pass-catchers were running open on every play. Now, Mayfield has an underrated arm, and he’s the ultimate leader and competitor. But slow down on the Russell Wilson comps. Wilson has the athleticism of an NFL running back and a huge arm. These are distinct players.
As for the Browns’ other choice — they got the No. 4 overall pick from the Texans in the Deshaun Watson deal last year — I would have gone with Bradley Chubb over Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. You put Chubb with Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah, and that’s an elite edge-rushing trio. And pass-rushers help the secondary too. Ultimately, though, I don’t blame Dorsey & Co. for filling a need, and Ward is the best true corner in this class.
– – –
This from gambling expert Todd Fuhrman:
When @betonline_ag originally hung odds on the #NFLDraft top overall pick, Baker Mayfield was listed at 66-1
That presumably was sometime last fall. We see other evidence that he was 15-1 in January. And this happened shortly after Coach Hue Jackson was informed of the choice.
For the entire draft process, it seemed like the Cleveland Browns were deciding between Sam Darnold and Josh Allen with their first overall pick. However, less than 48 hours before the NFL draft was set to start, news started to buzz around Baker Mayfield.
The day before the draft, Adam Schefter reported that Mayfield was “definitely” in the conversation to be the No. 1 overall pick. Then, on the morning of the draft, Schefter also reported that head coaches and general managers around the NFL are working under the assumption that the Browns would take the Oklahoma signal-caller first.
Since all these Twitter-breaking reports hit the internet, Mayfield’s betting odds to go first overall have been drastically climbing. On the evening of April 24 (two days before the draft), Mayfield was +1000 to go first. By midnight on April 25, Mayfield was +450. And following the tweet by Schefter on the morning of the draft, Mayfield climbed as high as -500.
Nice move, Steelers and the NFL. And nice that you are moving, RYAN SHAZIER. Kevin Patra of NFL.com:
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a surprise guest announce their first selection of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Injured Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier walked on to the stage in Dallas holding the hand of his fiancée, Michelle.
Shazier announced the Steelers selected safety Terrell Edmunds with the No. 28 overall pick Thursday. Edmunds is the brother of Tremaine Edmunds, who went No. 16 overall to the Buffalo Bills. They are the first brothers in NFL history to be selected in the first round of the same draft, per NFL Research.
Terrell Edmunds brings a needed safety to the Steelers back end. With the additions of Edmunds and free agent Morgan Burnett to 2016 second-round pick Sean Davis, expect Mike Tomlin’s team to play more three-safety looks in 2018.
The pick was solid. Watching Shazier walk out to announce the selection less than five months after a devastating spinal injury was the most incredible moment of the first round.
More on the pick made by Shazier:
We had some NFL Draft history in 2018 with a family affair in the first round.
First time two brothers become first-round picks in same draft.
LB Tremaine Edmunds to Buffalo at No. 16.
Safety Terrell Edmunds to Pittsburgh at No. 28.
As Virginia Tech products, they both matriculated through Blacksburg and onto the league following in the footsteps of other VT siblings (their third brother, Trey, is already in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints).
The three Edmundses were the last set of 25 brothers Beamer coached in his 29 years in Blacksburg. They followed, notably, Michael and Marcus Vick and the Fuller brothers — Vinny, Corey, Kyle and Kendall — all of whom ended up in the NFL.
But it goes deeper than the siblings. Their father, Ferrell, also played in the NFL and was a Pro Bowler as well as a two-time All-Pro selection. Edmunds blood runs thick in the league, but we’ll have to wait quite a while to see if the lineage continues with a third generation of Edmunds men.
Terrell came out to get a hug from The Commish, but he technically wasn’t there as an invited prospective pick. Tremaine, per Gil Brandt, was on the NFL’s list – and Terrell just happened to be there as one of his guests.
QUINTON NELSON must be one great guard. This tweet from Jason LaCanfora:
Too many scouts I trust threw around the terms “potential Hall of Famer” with Nelson for him to last much beyond this. Colts got a new leader on their OL
Peter King proclaims the Bills to be one of the two most interesting teams for their Thursday draft maneuvering (the Cardinals were the other one):
• Buffalo, the team that turned five trades into the most important offensive and defensive players of its future, and the team that cast its lot with a strong-armed quarterback whose racially insensitive Tweets when he was 16 and 17 years old threatened to poison his draft stock. We won’t know for three or four years if Bills GM Brandon Beane made the right calls in the first 100 minutes of the draft to trade up twice—for the suddenly radioactive Josh Allen at seven and for speedy linebacker Tremaine Edmunds at 16. But Beane certainly had the guts to make calls that will put his job on the line.
Late Thursday night, a couple hours after he moved Buffalo into Tampa’s No. 7 spot, Beane told the story of how the Bills vetted Allen during the day Thursday. To Beane’s credit, he sounded pretty clinical about it, the way he’d sound if he were trying to figure out if an inaccurate quarterback was worth a high draft choice. In other words, he already vetted Allen the football player in a day-long trip to Laramie, Wyo., with his owners and his head coach. Now he had to figure out how to vet Allen the social-media user.
“And I don’t even use Twitter,” Beane told me from Orchard Park, N.Y.
Let’s start just after daybreak Thursday, when Yahoo Sports reported that between 2011 and 2013, Allen sent some insensitive Tweets using the n-word and other racially inflammatory verbiage.
“My first thought was, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” said Beane. “We vetted this guy through and through. We went to Laramie. We met with him for maybe 90 minutes, then worked him out, and we went to lunch. We spent maybe a good 18 hours with him. Thoroughly went over everything. We were totally comfortable with him.
“So, today, we went over what happened. [Coach] Sean [McDermott] spoke to our leadership council [of players] to get their thoughts and to explain what might happen. Between Sean and I and [owners] Kim and Terry Pegula, it was a multi-stage process. We talked to some of our players here.
“It’s not an excuse, saying those things as a 14 or 15 year old. And I am not very good on Twitter. Some of the things I thought he wrote, he actually just liked. We talked to him about it. We had a 30, 35-minute call shortly after lunch, and at first he was very direct and contrite. As we talked to him about this thing, he was emotional.
“You could hear the tears on the other line.
“We told him, ‘Collect yourself.’ And he owned up to it. He explained every one. He was very embarrassed. We let him know what is acceptable and what is not. He understands this is part of him now, and he has to earn the respect of his teammates going forward. And we called a lot of people. We didn’t find one person—and I am not saying there is not one person out there—but we didn’t find one person who said this is Josh Allen. We found people who defended Josh. So we decided to move forward.”
Beane understands this isn’t over, and that Allen will have to explain himself to the veterans on this team. And whatever Allen says, he’s going to have to prove over time that he’s not the person he seems in those immature tweets.
As a player, Allen will have a lot of prove too. The 56% career passer at Wyoming will have to become a 65% passer in the NFL, in one of the toughest environments in the league to play football. It was thought all along that the Bills wanted Allen above the other quarterbacks because of his arm strength and his size and his experience playing in tough weather. But it was interesting to listen to Troy Aikman on Thursday night. He made the point many have made in the pre-draft process: When you’re an inaccurate passer in college, it’s not often than you become an accurate passer in the NFL. That will be Allen’s biggest challenge.
Beane would not say where Allen fell in the quarterback pecking order. It’s likely the Bills would have taken any of the top four passers somewhere in the top 10 or 12 picks. But Allen fits them for his arm and his developmental ability. “We didn’t think any of these quarterbacks were flawless,” Beane said, and he’s right about that. “Being able to play in our elements was important us. Josh has big hands, and we saw him play well in a big-time snow game against Colorado State.”
The Bills moved from 22 to 16 in the first round to take Edmunds, using the pick acquired from Cleveland in the Tyrod Taylor deal (65th overall) to get the deal done with Baltimore. Buffalo didn’t have to use next year’s first-round pick to get the deal done. So the Bills got athletic and raw prospects in the first half of the first round. Good moves.
Others are critical, but Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com comes down hard on the side of “good move”:
Pete Prisco: They get the best QB in the draft and they had to go make the move to get him. Love the trade, love the pick.
Everyone thought the Patriots might make some sort of shock move, but instead they just bolstered TOM BRADY’s protection and gave him a shiny new toy. This from Andy Benoit of SI.com:
Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia
Andy Benoit’s grade: B+
The Patriots did the right thing: Instead of finding Tom Brady’s replacement, they found someone to protect him. It was needed; Nate Solder is gone and Antonio Garcia, last year’s third-round pick, missed his rookie season with blood clots. At 6’ 3”, 313 pounds, many projected Wynn as an NFL guard—a position in which the Patriots are well set with Joe Thuney and especially Shaq Mason (though Mason’s contract is up soon). Playing devil’s advocate, here’s one question: if the Patriots are returning to a quick-strike, horizontal passing game—and trading Brandin Cooks suggests they are—do they really need to spend a first-round pick on a tackle? The nature of the scheme will protect the QB just as much as a blocker would. But having two first-rounders and two second-rounders makes this an easier trigger to pull.
Scouting Report: An undersized collegiate tackle who will make the transition to guard, Wynn offers excellent athleticism on the interior. He’ll be able to handle himself as a pass protector, and might thrive as a run-blocker in a scheme heavy on outside zone.
Round 1, Pick 31 (No. 31 overall)
Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
Andy Benoit’s grade: A
Another pick, another piece for Tom Brady. The same analysis for the Patriots No. 23 pick (Michel’s teammate Isaiah Wynn) applies here—instead of chasing a replacement for Tom Brady, they tried to find him a weapon. Michel has the traits to of a foundational back. For receiving flex options, James White and Rex Burkhead will still get the nod. Overall, there’s great backfield diversity in New England.
Scouting Report: Part of the 1-2 punch with Nick Chubb in Georgia’s backfield, Michel emerged as one of the stars in the College Football Playoff (222 yards and four TDs on 15 touches against Oklahoma, 98 yards on 14 carries against Alabama). He’s a slasher who fits best in a one-cut scheme, and he’s outstanding when accelerating through the line of scrimmage with true home-run speed. He wasn’t featured heavily as a pass-catcher, but can be dangerous in space and is one of this draft class’s best in blitz pick-up. He can carry a heavy load as long as he improves his ball security.
Is this the first time that college teammates went to the same NFL team in the same first round? Enquiring minds need to know.
NEW YORK JETS
They may or may not win in 2018 and beyond, but the Jets definitely won the night among the “experts” with their quarterback pick.
Jeff Darlington with the conventional wisdom:
It almost feels like the Jets just landed their own Eli Manning: A steady, talented quarterback with the even-keeled nature to handle the NYC spotlight without issue.
Who knows how it plays out — but they feel like the big winners to me today.