The Daily Briefing Monday, April 30, 2018


Plenty of draft grades today – we sorted them by team and edited some of the comments for space (Rob Rang of NFL Draft Scout, Nate Davis of USA TODAY, Pete Prisco of CBS Sports).


The Bears, Buccaneers and Broncos are the killer B’s with a consensus 3.9 average.  Green Bay is right behind at 3.8.





Rob Rang grades the Bears:


It is appropriate that the year legendary linebacker Brian Urlacher will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame the Bears found their next star in the middle with Georgia’s Roquan Smith, who possesses the instincts and elite athleticism to live up to this legacy. The expensive trade up a year ago for Mitchell Trubisky left the Bears shorthanded but general manager Ryan Pace turned that into three potential starters in Smith, highly athletic interior offensive lineman James Daniels and wideout Anthony Miller.

Grade: B-plus


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Chicago Bears: A

At No. 8, they may have gotten the draft’s best linebacker, Georgia’s Roquan Smith, who’s plenty capable of expanding on a proud Chicago tradition. At No. 39, they may have gotten the draft’s best center in Iowa’s James Daniels. And, after trading up to No. 51, yes, they just may wind up getting the most impactful receiver with Memphis’ Anthony Miller. Bravo, Ryan Pace. 


Pete Prisco of


Chicago Bears: A

The Bears knocked it out of the park with their first three picks. They landed linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round, and he will immediately become a big part of their defense. In the second round, they hit on interior lineman James Daniels, who will play left guard for them, and then hit big on receiver Anthony Miller, who has star potential. He might end up being the best receiver in this class. If they get a little out of the rest of the class, it’s a bonus. They had an impressive first two days.




Rob Rang grades the Lions:


The NFC North was long considered the NFL’s so-called black and blue division, with physicality and toughness as primary characteristics. The Lions appear dedicated to regaining that image, adding a plug-and-play, lunch-stealing interior lineman in Arkansas’ Frank Ragnow in the first round and the top blocker in the PAC-12 last year in tackle Tyrell Crosby (who fell due to medical red flags) in the fifth. Running back Kerryon Johnson is a classic slasher who runs hungry, also adding a physical element to a rushing attack that has been desperately in search of a bell-cow for years.

Grade: C-plus


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Detroit Lions: C+

Second rounder Kerryon Johnson will get the headlines, assuming he can break with recent tradition and hold up better than other highly drafted Lions tailbacks. Otherwise, new coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn were busy fortifying their lines, starting with first-round C Frank Ragnow.


Pete Prisco of


Detroit Lions: B

The Lions need to run the ball better, and their first two picks show they know that all too well. They took interior lineman Frank Ragnow in the first round, and he will be a big part of that improvement up front. I love second-round running back Kerryon Johnson from Auburn. He will be their lead runner. Third-round safety Tracy Walker has good range, and fifth-round offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby could be a steal.




Rob Rang grades the Packers:


If there were any nerves from first-year general manager Brian Gutekunst Thursday he certainly didn’t show it, earning high marks on each day of the draft. He started it off by trading down (while acquiring the Saints’ first-round pick in 2019) and then back up (with Seattle) to add a terrific cover corner and returner in Louisville’s Jaire Alexander. The movement and player are a significant departure from the style of Green Bay’s previous general manager Ted Thompson, who preferred taller, longer corners – like Josh Jackson whom the club nabbed in the second round… This class probably won’t get much national buzz but I’m confident that years from now it will prove to be one of this year’s best.

Grade: A


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Green Bay Packers: B+

Interesting maiden draft for GM Brian Gutekunst. A trade with the Saints netted a 2019 first rounder. The Pack’s first two picks were understandably spent on corners Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson. Super-sized WR Equanimeous St. Brown (6-5, 214) is an intriguing project who went later than expected in Round 6. But did Gutekunst really need to draft a punter and a long snapper?


Pete Prisco of


Green Bay Packers: B+

They needed to get better at corner, and they did just that with their first two picks, trading down to add more picks in the process. They took Jaire Alexander in the first round, and he is a perfect man-cover player for new coordinator Mike Pettine. Second-round corner Josh Jackson was great value, but he isn’t as good in press as Alexander. Third-round linebacker Oren Burks can run. Getting two receivers on the third day also made sense, but I don’t like drafting a punter in the fifth round.




Rob Rang grades the Vikings:


Boasting one of the league’s deepest rosters, the Vikings took the same strategy as Green Bay, adding a playmaking cover corner and returner in UCF’s Mike Hughes…The Vikings added a future starting tackle in Brian O’Neill in the second round before providing head coach Mike Zimmer two intriguing projects along the defensive line to tutor (like he did Danielle Hunter) in Jalyn Holmes and especially sixth-round pick Ade Aruna (a personal favorite).

Grade: B


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Minnesota Vikings: C-

Coach Mike Zimmer is surely happy to add a third first-found corner (Mike Hughes) to his secondary. Hughes will help in nickel packages and as a returner right away. Beyond that, hard to see many rookies here who will play immediately — unless second-round T Brian O’Neill proves he’s ahead of schedule from a strength standpoint.


Pete Prisco of


Minnesota Vikings: B-

They took a good corner in the first round in Mike Hughes, passing on offensive line help there. Hughes will push Mackensie Alexander in the slot as a rookie. They took tackle Brian O’Neill in the second, a pick I really like. He’s a former basketball player who needs to get stronger. Fourth-round defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes will add nice depth to a good defensive line.





Is FOX also after TE JASON WITTEN?  Michael David Smith of on the options facing the not-yet-retired Cowboy:


Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has options.


Witten, who is contemplating retirement, has more than one TV option and is deciding between those options and returning to the Cowboys for another season.


Chris Mortensen, who first reported last week that Witten was set to retire from the Cowboys and join ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth, now reports that Witten has another television offer from another network.


Meanwhile, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is working to persuade Witten to stay with the Cowboys. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also indicated that he’d like to keep Witten around. It’s possible that Jones could offer to boost Witten’s salary to compete with his television offers.


Witten, who will turn 36 next week, started all 16 games last year but saw his production decline: His 63 catches, 560 yards and 8.9 yards per catch average were all his lowest since becoming the Cowboys’ starting tight end in 2004. But despite that decline in production, the Cowboys are hoping to get Witten back.


And this from Charean Williams:


Chris Mortensen’s report Friday that Jason Witten is retiring — or considering retirement — took most by surprise. But his good friend and former quarterback Tony Romo had a “pretty good idea of it.”


“We talk all the time,” Romo said, via Mark Lane of DFW’s WFAA.


There are only four lead NFL analyst jobs, and Romo and Troy Aikman have two of those. Witten could join the former Cowboys quarterbacks and Cris Collinsworth in a lead role, though he reportedly has multiple offers.


“He’s presented with a heck of an opportunity,” Aikman said. “Yeah, he could play another year, maybe another couple of years. But this opportunity to go into broadcasting and continue with a really great career post-career is pretty exciting. So, that’s a decision that he has to make as to what’s most important to him.”


Romo became one of the best in the profession from the start last year, and he expects Witten to do the same.


“Jason Witten will do good at whatever he does,” Romo said. “Ultimately, whatever he puts his mind to, he’s going to be good at it. Even if he didn’t start out too good, he’s going to be good. I actually expect him to start off really good, but it really wouldn’t matter. It would only be a matter of time before he excelled at it. Like all walks of life, he’ll figure it out.”


– – –

Rob Rang gives the Cowboys an A:


No one was a bigger winner in the 2018 NFL Draft than the Cowboys, who did a fantastic job of hosting the event while simultaneously adding quality talent to fill key positions of need each day. Dallas thrilled the hometown fans with the selection of Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch at No. 19 overall, an ascending prospect with the instincts, athleticism and perhaps most important, durability. … It then reinforced the strength of the team – the offensive line – with falling local product Connor Williams who could prove to be a Pro Bowler at left guard and addressed the need for pass-catchers with nationally underrated receivers Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson in the third and sixth rounds, respectively.

Grade: A


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Dallas Cowboys: B

Leighton Vander Esch dismissed rumors about his neck, though medical concerns have sadly become commonplace in Dallas’ linebacker room. Assuming he’s OK, he was a good decision in Round 1 rather than reaching for a receiver. Jerry Jones and Co. got leapfrogged in the second round by Philadelphia, which took TE Dallas Goedert … who might have been a fine replacement for Jason Witten. Still, the Cowboys got an excellent player 50th overall in Connor Williams, who will further strengthen what’s arguably the league’s top O-line. WR Michael Gallup (3rd round) and TE Dalton Schultz (4th) won’t make anyone forget Dez Bryant or Witten, but that shouldn’t be the expectation. Trading for versatile Tavon Austin was a low-risk investment at the cost of a sixth rounder. Fifth-round QB Mike White could give Cooper Rush a summer battle to be Dak Prescott’s backup.


Pete Prisco of


Dallas Cowboys: C+

I love the pick of linebacker Leighton Vander Esch in the first round. He has a chance to be a special player. I won’t say he’s the next Luke Kuechly like some scouts told me, but he will be an impact player for a long time. They plan to play second-round Connor Williams at guard after he was a tackle at Texas. Some scouts said he lacked toughness. Third-round receiver Michael Gallup has good size and made a lot of plays, but he doesn’t solve the speed problem outside. They did trade to get Tavon Austin from the Rams, which does add speed. Fourth-round tight end Dalton Schultz could be a steal.




Rob Rang grades the Giants:


General manager Dave Gettleman wasted no time making Penn State running back Saquon Barkley the No. 2 overall selection, raising criticism by some that he should have used up the allotted 15 minutes to pursue potential trade-down opportunities with Sam Darnold unexpectedly (more or less) still available. While it is true that the running back depth in this class could have afforded the Giants to look at other options, let’s be clear, Barkley is an exceptional talent … Guard Will Hernandez is the no-nonsense pile-mover to help assure Barkley’s instant impact. I’m not quite as high on the hog-mollies Gettleman added along the defensive line… Quarterback Kyle Lauletta lacks the big arm that generated so much buzz about Davis Webb a year ago, but he is savvy, highly accurate short to intermediate level passer who may prove a better fit in new head coach Pat Shurmur’s offense.

Grade: B-plus


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


New York Giants: A+

New GM Dave Gettleman just nailed it. First, give him credit for taking Penn State RB Saquon Barkley at No. 2 rather than reaching for a quarterback. Expect Barkley’s impact to be wide-reaching in the short and long run. G Will Hernandez and OLB Lorenzo Carter should be starters by training camp. And Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta (Round 4) might quickly push aside 2017 third rounder Davis Webb as Eli Manning’s backup and, perhaps, eventual successor.


Pete Prisco of


New York Giants: B

Taking a back second overall isn’t much to my liking, but they landed a good player in Saquon Barkley. I would have taken defensive end Bradley Chubb in that spot. I did like the pick of second-round guard Will Hernandez, who will bring a tough, nasty style to their line. They added some nice defensive line help in third-round defensive tackle B.J. Hill and third-round edge player Lorenzo Carter.  They also took quarterback Kyle Lauletta in the fifth round to help develop behind Eli Manning. It was a good first draft for Dave Gettleman with the Giants.




Peter King on the huge Australian drafted by the Eagles:


“You got my Australian! Good get!” John Dorsey shouted into the phone late Saturday night to Eagles GM Howie Roseman. That’s right: Mountainous Jordan Mailata, who has never played a snap of football in his life, had interest from eight teams after trying out recently and sending his rugby tape to teams. The Eagles actually traded next year’s seventh-round pick to New England to move up 17 spots in the seventh round Saturday to take Mailata, who will play on the offensive line.


Three questions with Roseman on the deal:


MMQB: Why, Howie?


Roseman: “He a fascinating prospect. He’s 6’8″, 345 pounds, he can run, he can bend. Our line coach, Jeff Stoutland, went to his workout and came back raving about his work ethic and his athletic ability. We saw this guy had rare athleticism and was physical and violent. Traits of that body type and that athleticism are hard to find. We understand it’ll be a process. He’s 21.”


MMQB: Strange to draft a guy who never played football?


Roseman: “Maybe even stranger to trade two picks for him. I thought [owner] Jeffrey Lurie said something interesting about him: ‘With a lot of these guys, you can see what they’re going to be. With this guy, we don’t know his floor, and we don’t know his ceiling.’ With this guy, we’re molding a piece of clay.”


MMQB: Why use two picks on him, though? Why not try to get him as a free agent?


Roseman: “Then the question is, after the draft, does he pick us? We had no idea. We’d be kicking ourselves if we lost out on him because of a seven. He’s with us now, and if he fails, we can sleep at night. We had 11 picks for next year, so we felt it was something we could afford to do.”

– – –

Rob Rang grades the Eagles:


Eagles fans will have to bask in the glory of their title because the draft offered little in terms of excitement – other than former kicker David Akers riling up the Cowboy-loving crowd and the team jumping ahead of their arch rival to select tight end Dallas Goedert, who some believe Jerry Jones was targeting one pick later. The Eagles had few options on draft day because of the big trade for Carson Wentz two years ago. That said, general manager Howie Roseman did a nice job of taking advantage of the picks he did have.\.

Grade: C


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Philadelphia Eagles: B-

Champs often draft for depth, and GM Howie Roseman traded down to get more. Stealing TE “Dallas” Goedert in Jerry Jones’ backyard was a nice touch. But getting Florida State pass rusher Josh Sweat in Round 4 might wind up being Roseman’s best pick.


Pete Prisco of


Philadelphia Eagles: C

The Eagles traded out of the first round with Baltimore and then took tight end Dallas Goedert in the second. He will play a backup role to Zach Ertz as the replacement for Trey Burton. He is a nice pass-catching tight end. Fourth-round edge Josh Sweat has good pass-rush ability, but there are some injury concerns. The Eagles didn’t have a lot of picks, trading a second to move up two years ago to get Carson Wentz and a third to Buffalo to get corner Ronald Darby last year.




Rob Rang grades the Redskins:


Many will suggest that the Redskins (like the Cincinnati Bengals) had their preferred top pick stolen one selection ahead of them when Tampa Bay secured massive defensive tackle Vita Vea at No. 12. While that may be the case, don’t expect me to quibble with Washington’s selection of Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne, whom I personally ranked as the ninth best player available this year and, therefore, an ideal value, especially given that Washington surrendered an NFL-worst 134 yards on the ground per game last season. If the troubling off-field concerns that caused his stock to plummet were indeed overblown, Derrius Guice could be the bell-cow running back this team has been searching for since Alfred Morris was starring for Mike Shanahan. Guice was thought by some to be in play for the Redskins at No. 13 overall. His situation bears watching and could make or break the perception of Washington’s draft.

Grade: B-minus


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Washington Redskins: C-

First-round DL Da’Ron Payne is made to order for the league’s worst run defense, and fifth-round NT Tim Settle will also help. In second-round RB Derrius Guice, Washington took a player who could add offensive rocket fuel … assuming concerns that apparently scared so many teams off prove unfounded. T Geron Christian and S Troy Apke are physically gifted but unlikely to contribute for some time.


Pete Prisco of


Washington Redskins: B-

They needed to get stronger up front on defense and Da’Ron Payne will give them that. He will help improve the run defense and is a capable pass rusher. Second-round running back Derrius Guice had first-round talent, but some character concerns drove him down. He will be their primary runner, so good value. Third-round tackle Geron Christian is the replacement when Trent Williams retires. Williams has also had some injury concerns. Christian is a big-time athlete for a tackle. Fifth-round nose Tim Settle will also be a force against the run.





Rob Rang grades the Falcons:


Former NFL MVP Matt Ryan had to be all smiles when the Falcons nabbed former Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley in one of the surprise picks of the first round. The silky-smooth route-runner should serve as a complement to superstar Julio Jones, in a fashion similar to that of Roddy White, a first-round Falcons pick in 2005…The Falcons added a perfect fit for Dan Quinn’s scheme in long-armed cornerback Isaiah Oliver in the second round, as well as a Grady Jarrett clone in Deadrin Senat in the third. Running back Ito Smith was a notable Combine snub but that didn’t stop general manager Thomas Dimitroff from making him a fourth-round pick, which was a smart move as he possesses a similar brand of vision, burst and underrated power as fellow “undersized” back Devonta Freeman, who was a fourth round pick, himself, four years ago.

Grade: B-plus


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Atlanta Falcons: A

Looks like another masterful job by GM Thomas Dimitroff. He didn’t overthink it when WR Calvin Ridley was sitting there at No. 26 or when CB Isaiah Oliver was there at No. 58. Neither addressed a need, yet both provide significant upgrades to an already stacked roster. DL Deadrin Senat did fill a crack in Round 3.


Pete Prisco of


Atlanta Falcons: B-

Picking a receiver in the first round might seem like a luxury, but they need a third option to go with Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, which is why picking Calvin Ridley makes sense. He does need to get stronger. Second-round corner Isaiah Oliver fits with what they do and was a nice choice. Third-round defensive tackle Deadrin Senat will be a nice addition next to Grady Jarrett. Not getting an offensive lineman at all hurts.




Rob Rang grades the Panthers:


Count former Panthers Pro Bowl wideout Steve Smith Sr. among those impressed with the club’s decision to make Maryland pass-catcher D.J. Moore the first receiver off the board in 2018. Moore offers a similar skill-set as Smith, projecting as the perfect complement to a running game featuring Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey and big receiver Devin Funchess. The Panthers might have the ideal defensive back if they could morph their next two selections – Donte Jackson and Rashaan Gaulden – into one player. Jackson was the fastest player at the Combine (officially clocking in at 4.32 seconds) but isn’t nearly as instinctive or physical as Gaulden, who did everything at Tennessee except run well, clocking in at 4.69 in the 40-yard dash at his March 19 Pro Day after timing 4.61 (officially) at the Combine

Grade: C-plus


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Carolina Panthers: C-

First-round WR DJ Moore is a nice player, but how much does he diversify an offense that already has so many short-area passing targets (Devin Funchess, Greg Olsen, Christian McCaffrey, Curtis Samuel). Second-round CB Donte Jackson provides 4.3 speed. But at 5-11 and 178 pounds, won’t he be seriously overmatched by NFC South WRs like Julio Jones, Michael Thomas and Mike Evans?


Pete Prisco of


Carolina Panthers: A

They needed to get help for Cam Newton, and they did just that. It started with receiver D.J. Moore in the first round, who I believe is the best receiver in this draft. He will give them a different dimension for their passing game. They also got a needed corner in Donte Jackson, who was the fastest player in the draft, and then took a quality safety in third-round pick Rashaan Gaulden. I love fourth-round tight end Ian Thomas, who will be a nice second option behind Greg Olsen. Fourth-round edge player Marquis Haynes will help the outside pass rush as a situational player early in his career. They had a nice haul.




Rob Rang grades the Saints:


I gave the Saints one of my highest grades a year ago (B-plus) but I’m not nearly as high on this class. Certainly, one must admire the win-now mentality that led general manager Mickey Loomis to make the aggressive trade up from No. 27 to No. 14 overall to land UT-San Antonio edge rusher Marcus Davenport, as finding a complementary threat opposite Pro Bowler Jordan Cameron was a clear need and Davenport possesses the raw traits scouts drool over. The cost (which included next year’s first-round pick) and Davenport’s relative inexperience against top competition, however, are significant. Third-round wideout Tre’Quan Smith has the frame and physical nature to be a nice secondary threat to burgeoning star Michael Thomas. I’m not as high on the rest of the Saints’ class, though, to be fair, each of them came at pick No. 127 or later. We shall see if tackle Rick Leonard (Florida State), defensive backs Natrell Jamerson (Wisconsin) and Kamrin Moore (Boston College), running back Boston Scott (Louisiana Tech) or interior offensive lineman Will Clapp (LSU) prove me wrong but each were selected higher than (or I, individually) ranked them.

Grade: D


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


New Orleans Saints: D

Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis had an epic draft in 2017, but this one seems fraught with peril. When they surrendered next year’s first rounder to jump from 27th to 14th in the first round, it appeared like a calculated gamble for QB Lamar Jackson. But New Orleans actually paid that hefty price for DE Marcus Davenport, a tantalizing prospect but one who may not be ready to advance the all-or-nothing Super Bowl mandate this move clearly signals. Third-round WR Tre’quan Smith could offset the loss of Willie Snead but also looks no better than a No. 4 wideout option if Cam Meredith is healthy.


Pete Prisco of


New Orleans Saints: C+

They mold a bold move to trade up with Green Bay — including giving up next year’s first-round pick — to take edge rusher Marcus Davenport with the 14th overall pick. He has the ability to be a double-digit sack player, and he fills a need, but he needs some seasoning. They didn’t have a second-round pick — traded away for the chance to draft Alvin Kamara last year — so they had to be patient. Third-round receiver Tre’Quan Smith will give them some more speed on offense. After last year’s draft it’s hard to knock them, but they better hope Davenport is a star.




Rob Rang gives an “A” to the Buccaneers:


It will likely be remembered more from the perspective of the Buffalo Bills (as they moved up for quarterback Josh Allen) but Bucs general manager Jason Licht deserves kudos for adding a pair of second-round picks by dropping five spots and still landing the player he likely was targeting at No. 7 overall in defensive tackle Vita Vea, one of the true freakish talents in the 2018 draft. The move was an especially good one because Licht didn’t drop too far, picking one spot ahead of the Redskins who were also thought to be very high on Vea and wound up selecting Da’Ron Payne, the defensive tackle most (including ranked second in the class. The Bucs then added the perfect “air back” to complement its deep passing game in running back Ronald Jones II, an ideal nickel in M.J. Stewart and perimeter cornerback in Carlton Davis and a quality cover safety in Jordan Whitehead in the fourth round. Among the other highlights was small-school offensive lineman Alex Cappa (Humboldt State), who impressed at the Senior Bowl with his grit, projecting as a future starting guard.

Grade: A


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B+

GM Jason Licht was aggressive, winding up with three second rounders, while wisely procuring toughness. First-round DT Vita Vea, second-round CBs M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis and third-round G Alex Cappa addressed needs while bringing attitude. Round 2 RB Ronald Jones is a home run waiting to happen as Doug Martin’s replacement.


Pete Prisco of


Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A

They needed players on defense and they landed a bunch of talented guys who can help, thanks in part to a trade down in the first round. Defensive tackle Vita Vea gives them much needed bulk up front and they took some secondary players who will help. I really like the pick of corner Carlton Davis in the third. Second-round pick Ronald Jones will be a star. Watch out for this team next year.





Rob Rang grades the Cardinals:


Arizona drafted six players this year but let’s be clear, this class will either soar or sink based on mercurial quarterback Josh Rosen, who the Cardinals flew up five spots from No. 15 to select at No. 10 overall. Rosen is largely considered the most gifted passer in this year’s draft, an opinion I agree with. The selection is interesting given that his struggles with durability are what has plagued incumbent starter Sam Bradford. But like Bradford, a former No. 1 overall selection, nobody questions Rosen’s natural talent. Nicknamed Chosen Rosen for years, the former Bruin is motivated after a self-perceived slip to No. 10 overall. Rosen could make general manager Steve Keim and new head coach Steve Wilks look brilliant. The opposite, however, is also possible. That is why it was key for Keim and Co. to add a gifted pass-catcher in Christian Kirk in the second round.

Grade: C-plus


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Arizona Cardinals: A-

They were staring at a bleak future in a division that seems laden with young quarterbacking royalty. But GM Steve Keim pulled a rabbit out of his hat by obtaining pick No. 10 for UCLA QB Josh Rosen. It’s worth wondering if Bruce Arians regrets retiring now that Rosen and second-round WR Christian Kirk should be connecting for years as part of a promising trio that includes RB David Johnson.


Peter Prisco of


Arizona Cardinals: B+

They made a smart move to go up and get the second-best quarterback in this draft in Josh Rosen. He can spend time behind Sam Bradford before taking over next year. I also liked the pick of receiver Christian Kirk in the second, and Mason Cole will push for the starting center job. Keep an eye on fourth-round running back Chase Edmonds from Fordham. He will help back up David Johnson.




Rob Rang grades the 49ers:


After plenty of speculation that he was in over his head, 49ers general manager John Lynch’s trade for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and solid first draft last season silenced critics. Demonstrating yet again that he is committed to winning in the trenches, Lynch selected the most reliable tackle in this draft class in Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey at No. 9 overall… The 49ers could hit gold if explosive defensive lineman Kentavius Street is able to bounce back from the torn ACL suffered during a pre-draft workout, ending his rookie NFL season before it even began.

Grade: B


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


San Francisco 49ers: C+

Taking Mike McGlinchey at No. 9 would have felt like a huge reach last week, but it became apparent closer to the draft that the Niners couldn’t wait to get him….Third-round LB Fred Warner is additional insurance as the Niners prepare for the extended or permanent absence of 2017 first rounder Reuben Foster.


Pete Prisco of


San Francisco 49ers: C+

They landed a solid offensive tackle in Mike McGlinchey in the first round, and he will be their left tackle when Joe Staley retires. For now, he will start at right tackle after the team traded Trent Brown to the Patriots. I did like the pick of second-round receiver Dante Pettis, who will fit nicely in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Fourth-round pass rusher Kentavius Street is a player who could pay dividends down the road, but he tore an ACL during a pre-draft workout. So he’s a year away.




Rob Rang grades the Rams:


After trades that netted the club wide receiver Brandin Cooks, as well as cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, the Rams were the last team to make a selection in the 2018 draft, investing their first pick (No. 89 overall) in tackle Joseph Notebloom…The Rams are not likely to receive much of an impact from this rookie class, but the veterans added via draft picks certainly boost the grade – if that is, they manage to live up to expectations.

Grade: B-minus


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Los Angeles Rams: C

Very hard to peg this. GM Les Snead gave up his first-round pick for WR Brandin Cooks, who’s currently under contract for one more year. Snead used his second rounder last year in a trade for WR Sammy Watkins, and that turned out to be a rental. In terms of players Snead actually drafted, fifth rounders Micah Kiser, an inside linebacker, and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, an edge player, may have the best chance to play now.


Pete Prisco of


Los Angeles Rams: C-

The Rams didn’t have a first-round pick (traded away to get receiver Brandin Cooks from the Patriots) or a second-round pick (traded away for a one-year rental on Sammy Watkins). Their first pick in this draft was in the third round and they used it on TCU tackle Joseph Noteboom, who is the down-the-road replacement for Andrew Whitworth. Fourth-round center Brian Allen was taken as the player who will likely take over when veteran John Sullivan is done.  Sixth-round running back John Kelly could be a nice backup to Todd Gurley.




Rob Rang grades the Seahawks:


Reuniting Shaquem Griffin with his twin brother Shaquill (who led the Seahawks with 15 passes broken up as a starting rookie cornerback last season) was the most heart-warming and certainly well documented stories of the 2018 NFL draft. While Griffin is obviously a notable addition, running back Rashaad Penny was drafted at No. 27 overall to be the face of Seattle’s draft class, one that shows head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider’s re-commitment to the same power-running scheme that helped the club reach consecutive Super Bowls and earn the only championship in team history. Despite leading the country in rushing yards and touchdowns a year ago, Penny did not receive the same national attention as other backs in this class. But his combination of size, power and speed made him highly valued among scouts with one team even attempting to trade for him seconds after the selection was announced, according to Schneider.

Grade: B


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Seattle Seahawks: D

Let’s begin by saying that GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have built a powerhouse while making draft “graders” look silly. Yet still … RB Rashaad Penny seemed like a first-round reach on merit and especially because Seattle already had several backs on the roster. No qualms with USC DE Rasheem Green in Round 3, but the decision to virtually ignore the corner and offensive line (again) crops is puzzling. (Seattle did take OT Jamarco Jones in Round 5 but after taking a punter 19 picks earlier.)


Pete Prisco of


Seattle Seahawks: D+

Seahawks general manager John Schneider has done such an amazing job of building his roster to win a Super Bowl that it’s tough to question his decisions, but I didn’t like the idea of taking running back Rashaad Penny in the first round. He’s a good player, but it’s not a value position, especially with a defense falling apart. Their second-round pick went for a one-year rental on Sheldon Richardson last season. Not good. Fifth-round pick Shaquem Griffin was the story of the draft, joining his brother in Seattle. Griffin will open as a linebacker, but could also play safety. I was not a big fan of trading up to take a punter (Michael Dickson) in the fifth round.





Rob Rang grades the Broncos:


Most of the pre-draft buzz for Denver revolved around the quarterbacks and so therefore some will knock the Broncos’ draft due to the fact that the club did not invest a selection in the position. Few can boast a more impressive class overall, however, starting with superstar edge rusher Bradley Chubb, who was unexpectedly available at No. 5 overall… Wideouts Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton are two of the more polished pass-catchers in this draft, which had better put the veterans already on the roster on alert. Similarly, running back Royce Freeman is a bigger, faster version of former Broncos’ back C.J. Anderson and has starting caliber talent.

Grade: A


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Denver Broncos: A

GM John Elway must be living right with a gift like pass rusher Bradley Chubb sitting there at No. 5. He could restore this defense to dominance. Third-round RB Royce Freeman could make Broncos Country forget C.J. Anderson, and second-round WR Courtland Sutton may eventually do the same to Demaryius Thomas. Elway appeared to find a lot of potential contributors in the middle rounds. And given how well QB Case Keenum has apparently fit into this locker room, probably wise for Elway to resist the urge to draft another quarterback.


Pete Prisco of


Denver Broncos: B+

They landed the best edge rusher in the draft by taking Bradley Chubb with the fifth pick in the first round. He will be an immediate force off the edge opposite Von Miller. I wasn’t as high as some on second-round receiver Courtland Sutton, but I do like the pick of fourth-round receiver DaeSean Hamilton. He runs great routes. I also liked the pick of fourth round of Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell. He will be a special-teams force right away.




Rob Rang grades the Chiefs:


After sitting out the first round due to the trade last year for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs were on the warpath on Day 2 and 3, dedicating all five of their selections to defense.

Grade: C


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Kansas City Chiefs: B

Low on sex appeal, and that’s fine. The buzz factor was burned up when this year’s first rounder was used to snag QB Patrick Mahomes in 2017. But DL Chris Jones will surely appreciate quality reinforcements Breeland Speaks and Derrick Nnadi.


Pete Prisco of


Kansas City Chiefs: C

The Chiefs didn’t have a first-round pick because they used to it to trade up last year to take quarterback Patrick Mahomes. I think they’re OK with that decision. They did trade away a third-round pick to move up in the second round to take Breeland Speaks from Ole Miss. He played defensive tackle in college, but the Chiefs plan to stand him up as an edge rusher. That’s risky. Third-round linebacker Dorian O’Daniel will help address a major need inside.




Rob Rang grades the Raiders:


Full disclosure, I personally ranked the Raiders’ first pick – UCLA tackle Kolton Miller – as the 62nd best player in this draft so I see this pick through that perspective. That said, many scouts were considerably higher on him than I was. The Raiders’ selection of him at No. 15 overall (especially after a trade down) will not be perceived as a reach by most. Clearly, he fits a needFrankly, I liked Oakland’s Day 2 and 3 picks more. North Carolina A&T’s Brandon Parker dominated the lower levels and impressed at the Senior Bowl. Arden Key is as dangerous off the edge as he is unreliable off the field, which is why the top-20 talent slipped to No. 87 overall. Head coach Jon Gruden could be laughing all the way to the playoffs if Key, interior rusher Maurice Hurst Jr. and linebacker Azeem Victor remain on the roster long enough to make it to their second contracts.

Grade: B-minus


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Oakland Raiders: C+

Drafts are replete with boom-or-bust prospects. Jon Gruden’s return produced what looks like a boom-or-bust draft. Trading a third rounder to Pittsburgh for WR Martavis Bryant could be a coup … if Bryant’s head is screwed on soundly. Gruden clearly prioritized offensive tackles, correctly moving down in Round 1 for Kolton Miller before taking North Carolina A&T’s Brandon Parker in the third. Were either overdrafted in a thin tackle class? Stay tuned. LSU pass rusher Arden Key will enter the building with extensive personal issues, while Michigan DT Maurice Hurst is a medical risk. If it all pans out, Gruden should take a preliminary trip to Vegas. Otherwise, at least his $100 million line of credit can withstand a few hits.


Pete Prisco of


Oakland Raiders: C

Jon Gruden wanted to get better on the offensive line, and he did, but what about the defensive issues? They still need corner and linebacker help, but didn’t take a corner until the fourth round when they took Nick Nelson from Wisconsin. He is coming off a knee injury he suffered at a workout in April. First-round pick Kolton Miller is a good player, and they did add picks to trade down in the first round before taking him. Third-round right tackle Brandon Parker is raw, but he has skills. They got a nice inside player on defense in P.J. Hall in the second round. He’s a smallish, push-the-pocket tackle. Third-round pass rusher Arden Key could be a major steal. He had some off-field issues that drove his value down, but he has the ability to be a major force off the edge. Fifth-round defensive tackle Maurice Hurst could be a steal if he’s medically OK.




Rob Rang grades the Chargers:


For years the AFC West was known for its offense rather than defense but much like Denver and Kansas City, the Chargers focused more on lighting up opponents in this draft than the scoreboard, dedicating early picks on sliding Florida State safety Derwin James and Southern Cal edge defender Uchenna Nwosu. Each are moveable chess pieces tasked with improving a run defense that allowed an NFL-worst 4.9 yards per carry a year ago, as should defensive tackle Justin Jones and West Virginia’s Kyzir White.

Grade: B


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Los Angeles Chargers: B+

Getting S Derwin James at No. 17 was a steal. GM Tom Telesco never stopped infusing talent into an already formidable defense, thought it did need to get much better against the run. LB Uchenna Nwosu, DT Justin Jones and LB Kyzir White may collectively elevate the Bolts to Super Bowl dark horse. Telesco is clearly confident QB Philip Rivers, 36, isn’t slowing down.


Pete Prisco of


Los Angeles Chargers: B

I thought Chargers general manager Tom Telesco had a solid draft. They needed defensive help, and they got it. They started by taking Florida State safety Derwin James, and he will be a star. They followed that up by taking USC edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu, who will play a variety of spots in their defense. Third-round nose tackle Justin Jones will help improve the run defense.





Rob Rang grades the Ravens:


It is hard to imagine a more fitting final first round for retiring general manager Ozzie Newsome than the one he and the Ravens pulled off Thursday, nabbing the Hall of Famer’s favorite prospect at his former position — tight end Hayden Hurst (after a trade down). Newsome then jumped back up to secure the future at quarterback with the draft’s most dynamic athlete in Lamar Jackson. Each player is a terrific fit in head coach John Harbaugh’s system, who features the tight end and is the patient, player-friendly coach that can aid in Jackson’s development. The Ravens doubled down at tight end with Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews, the reigning Mackey Award winner, who offers similar size, mobility and soft hands as Hurst, showing that Baltimore’s tight-end-heavy looks are likely to continue. It didn’t get the same national attention as the Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin reunion in Seattle but in drafting Orlando Brown Jr. (whose late father played for Baltimore and Cleveland), Newsome simultaneously addressed one of its biggest needs with a public relations home run.

Grade: B


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Baltimore Ravens: B+

This draft feels befitting of outgoing GM Ozzie Newsome’s Lombardi-plated legacy. Yes, major gamble taking QB Lamar Jackson, but it could pay off in spades — and may as well get that fifth-year option with a roll of the dice like this after Newsome deftly worked back into the end of Round 1. Hayden Hurst, a former minor league pitcher who may be more accurate right now than Jackson (57% completion rate at Louisville), and Mark Andrews form a nifty tight end duo that should pay immediate dividends to Joe Flacco and to Jackson eventually. Third-round T Orlando Brown and fifth-round WR Jordan Lasley are classic risk-reward types. And nice to see Newsome get two more players from his alma mater, fourth-round Alabama CB Anthony Averett and sixth-round C Bradley Bozeman.


Pete Prisco of


Baltimore Ravens: A

The Ravens had two trade downs to pick up a bunch of extra picks, which really helped make their draft. They took tight end Hayden Hurst with their first-round pick, and he will be an immediate impact player. They then traded back into the first round to take quarterback Lamar Jackson. He will be their quarterback of the future. I liked the pick of Orlando Brown in the third round, but I am not as sold on tight end Mark Andrews, their other third-round pick, as others. Keep an eye on fourth-round receiver Jaleel Scott. He should contribute as a rookie. Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta had another good draft.




Rob Rang grades the Bengals:


The Bengals addressed the biggest hole on the roster Thursday, literally and figuratively, with the selection of Ohio State center Billy Price. Whether the Bengals actually preferred Arkansas’ Frank Ragnow (who went one pick earlier to Detroit) matters little as Price is a rock-solid first-round talent who only slipped on some boards due to the partially torn pectoral suffered at the Combine that is not expected to keep him from playing this season. The Bengals nabbed instinctive, productive players in safety Jessie Bates III (Wake Forest) and Sam Hubbard (Ohio State) before gambling on the ridiculously gifted Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson and arguably the best special teams defender in the draft in Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel.

Grade: C-plus


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Cincinnati Bengals: B

There may not be a Pro Bowler among C Billy Price, S Jessie Bates, DE Sam Hubbard, LB Malik Jefferson or RB Mark Walton. Yet all could quickly contribute for a franchise that generally doesn’t get enough recognition for drafting effectively.


Pete Prisco of


Cincinnati Bengals: C

The pick of Ohio State center Brian Price was a bit of a surprise since he is coming off a torn pec muscle suffered at the combine. He is a nice player — one with a mean streak — but it’s risky. Second-round safety Jessie Bates will push for time as a rookie. Third-round edge Sam Hubbard was a solid player in college, but I think third-round linebacker Malik Jefferson didn’t make enough plays at Texas. Keep an eye on fifth-round defensive tackle Andrew Brown from Virginia. He has a chance to be a nice inside player.




This from Peter King on how John Dorsey kept BAKER MAYFIELD a secret towards near the end:


Do you want to know how to keep a secret? Inside the draft room of the Cleveland Browns, on the MAM (Morning After Mayfield), I found out a couple ways GM John Dorsey kept the identity of the first pick under wraps for the draft season.


My favorite: Dorsey and a contingent of scouts and coaches spent the week of March 19 visiting four quarterbacks—in order, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. They dined with Rosen on Monday, worked him out Tuesday, dined with Darnold on Tuesday, etc. Dorsey never told a soul which quarterback he preferred, though he had a very good idea on March 22 after leaving Oklahoma that he wanted Mayfield. Back in Ohio, at the top of the quarterback list on the Browns’ magnetic draft board, Dorsey turned the magnetic rectangular quarterback nametags upright. And at the top of the QB list, while every other name on the massive board was horizontally magnetized, four vertical QB nametags were at the top.


Rosen one, Darnold two, Mayfield three, Allen four. From left to right.


“Right in the order we visited them, and I kept them in that position until the day of the draft,” Dorsey told me.


Dorsey is still getting to know a lot of the people in the Browns’ front office, and they are still getting to know him. Throughout his first five months running the football side of the franchise, Dorsey said, “I have harped on trust and honesty. What’s said in this room stays in this room.” Now, he just wanted a little privacy insurance. If he kept the quarterbacks in this vertical bunch, Dorsey would be the only one who would know what the 1-through-4 order was.


Late Thursday morning, about nine hours before the draft, he gathered the senior staff to tell them the order of the quarterbacks, and what he was likely to do with the top pick—take Mayfield. He kept the board covered until early evening, and shortly before the draft began, the room knew the QB order. And, of course, who the top pick would be. How’d I find out on the Sunday night before the draft that the pick definitely would not be Josh Allen, and how’d Adam Schefter find out Tuesday morning that Mayfield was definitely in play? Credit to Schefter, in particular, for smoking out the Mayfield stuff. And credit to Dorsey for having an airtight circle on his call for five weeks—or at least five weeks minus a couple of days.


And this:


They got very little action on the No. 4 pick. Four teams called Dorsey with interest in moving up. None got serious. Only one team (I’d guess Arizona) offered a 2019 first-round pick as part of the package to move, which is surprising considering that two quarterbacks were still on the board when the fourth pick came up. The team willing to include its first-rounder next year said to Dorsey before the draft began: “I’m coming up for one player and one player only, and that’s Baker Mayfield.” As Dorsey said: “I knew all along it wasn’t going to happen.” So for those wondering why the Browns didn’t try to pillage some team by moving down a few spots, they never had the chance.


King’s summation:


Did the Browns do the right thing? Big answer: I don’t know. I don’t how you can know anything 72 hours after any player is drafted. The biggest problem I have with instant analysis on draft picks is instant analysis on draft picks. In 2014, Bleacher Report gave the Browns an A-plus for the Manziel pick. gave the Browns an A-minus for the entire haul, including the eighth pick in the draft, cornerback Justin Gilbert, a gigantic bust. Overall, I trust the Pro Football Focus grades, and PFF, with an NFL eye on college prospects, had Mayfield as the top-rated quarterback in college football in 2016 and 2017. And if you hire three men with long experience at a franchise that’s picked great quarterbacks—Favre and Rodgers—and they unanimously believe Mayfield was the best of the five-quarterback first round, well, I think you’ve got to let them do their jobs and give them a shot to be right.

– – –

Rob Rang grades the Browns:


It takes bold moves to turn around a franchise with the losing streak Cleveland has endured and that is precisely what general manager John Dorsey and his staff provided, nabbing lightning rod quarterback Baker Mayfield at No. 1 overall and then this draft’s premier cover corner, Denzel Ward at No. 4. Neither measures big in size, but as playmakers they are both huge. Nevada tough guy Austin Corbett was asked to slide inside to guard at the Senior Bowl but he starred at left tackle for the Wolfpack (like Joel Bitonio) and might get a chance to stay outside in Cleveland. Regardless of his ultimate position, Corbett has the build and makeup of a longtime NFL starter, as does Georgia running back Nick Chubb, who may very well push free-agent addition Carlos Hyde aside as the Browns’ featured back. A very good draft could prove great if Miami defensive end Chad Thomas and Florida receiver Antonio Callaway can focus on football. Callaway reminds me a lot of Tyreek Hill, who overcame off-field issues to emerge as one of the most dangerous all-purpose players in the NFL for the Chiefs after Dorsey selected him in the fifth round two years ago.

Grade: A


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Cleveland Browns: C

This will be viewed as a seminal draft. But did GM John Dorsey properly leverage the wealth of assets left behind by analytics-driven predecessor Sashi Brown? Ultimately, it boils down to No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, whom Dorsey apparently couldn’t live without. If Mayfield lives up to his billing, the rest is gravy. But debate remains as to whether Darnold, Allen or even Rosen should have been the choice. Given RB Nick Chubb was taken in Round 2, also worth questioning if Saquon Barkley should have gotten the call at No. 1 with the guarantee that a quarterback — possibly even Mayfield — would have remained available at No. 4. Then there’s the notion that DE Bradley Chubb was a much better option with that fourth pick than CB Denzel Ward given how hard it is to collect quality pass rushers (even though Myles Garrett is already aboard), and the wealth of corner options in this draft. At the top of Round 2, Austin Corbett must prove he can play tackle at the pro level. If not, what does Dorsey do with one of his highly paid interior linemen? And even fourth-round WR Antonio Callaway, who’s talented but comes with drug and disciplinary issues, seems like a misadventure for a franchise that’s had so many issues with Josh Gordon.


Pete Prisco of


Cleveland Browns: B-

They took quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first pick, which I think is a bit risky. They then took corner Denzel Ward with the fourth pick when pass rusher Bradley Chubb was a better option. Mayfield and Ward will be good players, but I think they had other choices that were better. They did follow with some good things like taking tackle Austin Corbett and running back Nick Chubb in the second round. Fourth-round receiver Antonio Callaway could be a steal, but he has character concerns. I love sixth-round linebacker Genard Avery.




The Steelers say they had Oklahoma State QB MASON RUDOLPH right there with all the QBs that went high in the first round.  Lauren Kirschman of


After Pittsburgh selected him in the third round on Friday night, Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph said he would remember his drop in the NFL Draft “until the day I die.”


But he can at least rest assured the Steelers believed he had first-round value. That’s something general manager Kevin Colbert made clear after the draft concluded Saturday evening.


“He was with the group of the top quarterbacks,” Colbert said. “That was a really good position. That’s very unique to the draft. It usually doesn’t come through with a nice group like that.”


The Steelers traded their 79th pick and a seventh-round pick — No. 220 overall — to move up to No. 76 and grab Rudolph. He was the sixth quarterback off the board and the first taken after five went in the first round. Rudolph was projected as a second-round pick.


“We didn’t want to take that risk,” Colbert said of moving up three spots. “The move was minimal. We had two [seventh-round picks]. To use one of those, we felt it was worth the risk because again Mason Rudolph was somebody that we valued as much as the rest of those quarterbacks that were drafted.”


Colbert said it was a “very easy decision” to take Rudolph in the third round.


The winningest quarterback in Oklahoma State history, Rudolph led the Cowboys to a 32-9 record as a starter. He finished his career with 54 school records, including the single-season and career records for passing yards, passing touchdowns and pass efficiency.


“We haven’t had that much depth at the top of the draft at [quarterback] in a long time,” Colbert said. “Mason was certainly a part of that group in our opinion.”


Steelers draft Mason Rudolph, OC, QBs coach talks arm strength

Colbert said the decision to take Rudolph didn’t have anything to do with the two backup quarterbacks already on the roster: Landry Jones and Josh Dobbs. Pittsburgh selected Dobbs in the fourth round of last year’s NFL Draft.


“Where [Rudolph] fits, how quick he fits, Coach Mike [Tomlin] can address that,” Colbert said. “We just know it’s nice to have good options at the quarterback position.”


As for Ben Roethlisberger, his future is somewhat murky. Roethlisberger has said both that he wants to play a several more seasons and that he is going to take his future a year at a time.


“He’s on our team in 2018 and we’re excited about it,” Tomlin said. “I don’t want to overanalyze it.”

– – –

Rob Rang grades the Steelers:


The Steelers value size and physicality at safety more than most and they certainly found those qualities in Virginia Tech’s Terrell Edmunds, who was overshadowed by his younger brother with the Hokies but was viewed as a Kam Chancellor (another former V-Tech star) clone by scouts. It is possible that he would be available early in Round Two but probably not at Pittsburgh’s next selection, No. 60. The family theme carried through with Pittsburgh’s next two selections with Oklahoma State’s dynamic duo of wide receiver James Washington and quarterback Mason Rudolph, who jointly announced a year ago their plans to return for their senior seasons and collectively dominated the Big 12 throughout their respective careers. Few clubs have shown a better track record with receivers outside of the first round than Pittsburgh and Washington – one of the best deep-ball receivers in this class – fits the mold of previous stars. His squareish body gives him more of a running back-like frame than receiver. A lack of elite velocity pushed him down the board but Rudolph has a Ben Roethlisberger-like frame, touch and trajectory to fit into Pittsburgh’s downfield attacking offense. Like Washington, perception differs from reality with the Steelers’ selection of do-everything back Jaylen Samuels, who didn’t run well during workouts but might just possess the softest hands and route-running savvy of any back in this draft.

Grade: B


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Pittsburgh Steelers: C+

Terrell Edmunds was a reach in the first round, though the defense did need safety help. But this draft is more likely to be defined by Oklahoma State stars James Washington and Mason Rudolph, potential heir apparents to WR Antonio Brown and QB Ben Roethlisberger, respectively. GM Kevin Colbert traded up for Rudolph, apparently concerned the Bengals would take him. Rudolph and Washington were a deadly combo in Stillwater, and it’s rare to see a team import both ends of such a connection. If it works out, Edmunds will be relegated to bonus status.


Pete Prisco of


Pittsburgh Steelers: C

Some were shocked to see the Steelers take safety Terrell Edmunds in the first round, but he is a good player who will add a physical style on the back end. I didn’t like second-round receiver James Washington as much as some, but the Steelers have a good track record with receivers. Third-round quarterback Mason Rudolph could be their quarterback of the future, and I liked Jaylen Samuels in the fifth. He can play running back or H-back for them.






Rob Rang grades the Texans:


Due to the Deshaun Watson trade a year ago, the Texans did not have a first- or second-round pick but that did not stop general manager Brian Gaine from adding a couple of potential early contributors in Stanford safety Justin Reid and Mississippi State tackle Martinas Rankin, each of whom had earned some buzz as potential top-50 selections.

Grade: B-minus

Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Houston Texans: B+

Remarkable haul given they didn’t pick until Round 3. S Justin Reid and OL Martinas Rankin should step into starting roles. Keep an eye on sixth-round DE Duke Ejiofor, who could flourish opposite J.J. Watt. And don’t forget, the Texans’ first rounder was spent last year in their maneuver to get Deshaun Watson. Worth it.


Pete Prisco of


Houston Texans: C+

They traded their first-round pick this year to take quarterback Deshaun Watson last season, so they didn’t pick in this draft until the third round after also trading a second-round pick to Cleveland to dump Brock Osweiler. They did have three third-round picks. The first one was used on safety Justin Reid, and he will be a nice addition on the back end. They followed that by taking tackle Martinas Rankin, who could start as a rookie and then added tight end Jordan Akins. They also added tight end Jordan Thomas in the sixth. Getting Watson was worth the move last year, but this draft was limited.




Rob Rang grades the Colts:


General manager Chris Ballard gave quarterback Andrew Luck quite the gift Thursday night with consensus top-rated blocker Quenton Nelson at No. 6 overall and another pro-ready tough guy in Braden Smith 31 picks later.

Grade: B


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Indianapolis Colts: C-

GM Chris Ballard snagged three second rounders from the Jets (two in this draft) to move down three spots. He still got the player, Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson, who might have been pick had Indy stayed put. Perfect choice. However, those Round 2 picks … OLB Darius Leonard, G Braden Smith, pass rusher Kemoko Turay and DE Tyquan Lewis — all felt like possible reaches for a roster that can’t afford more misses.


Pete Prisco of


Indianapolis Colts: B+

They took the cleanest player in the draft in the first round in guard Quenton Nelson, but that’s high for a guard in my book. Even so, it was a need pick. They added another guard in the second round in Braden Smith, a player a lot of teams wanted in that round behind them. That gives them a real upgrade inside on their line. Second-round linebacker Darius Leonard is a thumper who will help the defense. They also added defensive linemen Kemoko Turay, a raw edge rusher, and Tyquan Lewis in the second. Fourth-round running back Nyheim Hines will be the change-of-pace back.




Shad Khan, the owner of the Jaguars is buying Wembley Stadium in London for reasons Peter King finds incomprehensible:


I think the Shad Khan explanation for why he wants to buy Wembley Stadium as it relates to the Jaguars leaves me with a lot more questions, and leaves me thinking the Jags are still the biggest contender to eventually move to London. Said Khan: “If my ownership interests were to include Wembley Stadium, it would protect the Jaguars’ position in London at a time when other NFL teams are understandably becoming more interested in this great city. And the stronger the Jaguars are in London, the more stable and promising the Jaguars’ future will be in Jacksonville.” Uh, how?

– – –

Rob Rang grades the Jaguars:


All due respect to flashy running back Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville made it to the AFC Championship Game last season on the strength of their defense and that mentality showed again Thursday with the selection of twitchy three-technique defensive tackle Taven Bryan, who has time to learn alongside Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and the rest of the Jaguars’ fearsome front. Fournette could find running lanes that much easier to find with explosive vertical threat D.J. Chark operating outside.

Grade: B-plus


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Jacksonville Jaguars: A-

If QB Blake Bortles was held in higher regard, we’d be talking about this team as a juggernaut. First-round DT Taven Bryan, second-round WR D.J. Chark and third-round S Ronnie Harrison might all make instant splashes as rookies if they played elsewhere. But all will have to scrap for snaps here. Sixth-round QB Tanner Lee comes with a nice level of buzz and might prove a viable fallback down the road if Bortles falters.


Pete Prisco of


Jacksonville Jaguars: B

Taking defensive lineman Taven Bryan in the first round was a smart move. He was great value at No. 29 and will provide a young body for a line that has age in Calais Campbell and some beefy contracts that could be a problem next year. Second-round receiver D.J. Chark will add some much-needed speed outside, but his production wasn’t what it should have been at LSU. But you can’t teach speed. Third-round safety Ronnie Harrison is a box safety who will eventually take over for Barry Church, and fourth-round offensive tackle Will Richardson is the likely right tackle in a year or two. The latter two did have some character concerns.




Rob Rang grades the Titans:


Put simply, no team did more with less than Tennessee which is why I’m giving them a solid grade despite using only four selections. The Titans haven’t necessarily been flashy while drafting under general manager Jon Robinson but one of the tougher, more physical teams in the AFC got even more so Thursday with the addition of blue-collar (and still ascending) linebacker Rashaan Evans, who fills a key need with the ability to drop, rush and, of course, be the enforcer against the run you would expect from a linebacker from Alabama. Edge rusher Harold Landry slid due to concerns that he will struggle to duplicate his college production against the longer, stronger tackles he will face in the NFL but his burst and bend off the edge are exciting. Similarly, Dane Cruikshank comes with questions about his ultimate NFL position, but he possesses the physicality to make the switch to safety and eased concerns about his athleticism in workouts. Finally, after a slip to the sixth round, the Titans could prove an ideal landing spot for Washington State quarterback Luke Falk.


Grade: B


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Tennessee Titans: B-

They’re banking that quality trumps quantity given trades reduced them to a four-player bounty. Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry could herald the passing of the torch in the linebacking corps. They better. Unwarranted Tom Brady comparisons have been endlessly attached to sixth-round QB Luke Falk, who was naturally picked 199th (just like Brady in 2000). It would be a win if Falk merely pans out as a reliable backup to Marcus Mariota.


Pete Prisco of


Tennessee Titans: C+

I liked their pick of Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans in the first round. He will be a three-down player on their defense, which they needed. Second-round pass rusher Harold Landry will be great value if he can play like he did in 2016. Taking quarterback Luke Falk in the sixth round could prove to pay off for a long-term backup to Marcus Mariota.





Rob Rang grades the Bills:


Give first-year general manager Brandon Beane credit for his aggression, boldly trading up twice for quarterback Josh Allen who best fit his team and town, as well as a budding superstar in linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Each boast exciting upside, having arguably the highest ceiling of any player at their respective positions in this year’s draft. There is some bust factor with each of them, however, given Allen’s well-documented 56.2 percent career completion percentage and the fact that Edmunds – just 19 years old – is still growing into his body and remains an unfinished product.

Grade: C-plus


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Buffalo Bills: B+

Must admire GM Brandon Beane’s aggressiveness in his first draft, as he completed his weeks-long trek up the board to get Wyoming QB Josh Allen at No. 7 before dealing up a second time Thursday night for Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds at No. 16. Both have massive ceilings but should be afforded the patience to develop. Third-round DT Harrison Phillips will become a fan favorite (he somehow managed to make 103 tackles last year from a position not known for staggering numbers). However will Beane regret not doing more to replace retired linemen Eric Wood and Richie Incognito?


Pete Prisco of


Buffalo Bills: B+

They made the move up to get quarterback Josh Allen at No. 7, which was the right thing to do. Allen will finally put to end their quest to replace Jim Kelly, who retired a long time ago. They also took linebacker Tremaine Edmunds in the first round, and he will be their starting middle linebacker, a three-down player. That’s a great first round. Third-round pick Harrison Phillips will be a big-time player. He will be a steal. Waiting until the sixth round to take a receiver is a bit questionable.




Rob Rang grades the Dolphins:


No team filled a bigger hole with better value than the Dolphins with the selection of Alabama star Minkah Fitzpatrick, the most versatile and dependable defensive back in this draft. After working with Nick Saban at LSU and Michigan State, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase knew better than most how important Fitzpatrick was to Alabama’s success the past three seasons. After struggling to defend seam threats for years, the Dolphins found a dynamic threat of their own in the second round in Penn State’s Mike Gesicki, whose remarkable combination of size, speed and body control will make him a legitimate matchup nightmare and fantasy football relevant red-zone weapon early in his career.


Grade: B-plus


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


Miami Dolphins: B

First-round DB Minkah Fitzpatrick should be a slam dunk, not to mention a potentially effective Gronk antidote. Shame TEs Mike Gesicki (2nd round), who can be a downfield weapon, and Durham Smythe (4th), a blocker, couldn’t be melded into one player, but they do eliminate a need. Third-round LB Jerome Baker and fourth-round RB Kalen Ballage have significant boom-or-bust quotients. The void left by DT Ndamukong Suh’s release remains.


Pete Prisco of


Miami Dolphins: B+

The Dolphins did a really nice job with their first three picks. They landed safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round to upgrade the secondary. He is a great kid who will also help the culture change that coach Adam Gase wants. Second-round tight end Mike Gesicki from Penn State will add a pass-catching threat to the offense and third-round linebacker Jerome Baker will add a lot of speed to the linebacker group. Fourth-round tight end Durham Smythe will give them more of an in-line player than Gesicki.




The Patriots didn’t draft a QB, but Peter King thinks they might have moved up for BAKER MAYFIELD if given the opportunity:


On the NFL Network telecast, Schrager said the Patriots spent time Monday with Mayfield, which raised some eyebrows. Mike Reiss, in his Sunday column on ESPN, added the fact that it was offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels who visited Mayfield in his hometown of Austin on Monday. That would lend credence to the theory in some corners that if Mayfield dropped down to, say, six or seven in round one, New England might have been able to offer enough to move up from the 23rd pick in the round to tempt a team in trade.


And his thoughts on what the future might bring:


The Patriots traded quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo last October to San Francisco for what turned out to be the 43rd player in the 2018 draft. Obviously, this could turn out to be the worst trade by Bill Belichick in his Patriots tenure. And in my opinion, what Belichick did over the weekend was a tributary from that Garoppolo trade.


First, what happened to that 43rd overall pick: Six Patriot trades in 17 hours, between 7:50 p.m. ET Friday and 12:50 p.m. Saturday, turned the 43rd pick into this:


• Chicago’s second-round pick in 2019.

• Detroit’s third-round pick in 2019.

• Part of the draft capital used to move up to take second-round cornerback Duke Dawson.

• The 178th pick this year, Arizona State outside linebacker Christian Sam.


My theory: The Patriots didn’t take a quarterback in this draft until picking long-shot Danny Etling from LSU in the seventh round because they didn’t view any of the guys after the top five as likely heirs to Tom Brady. Regarding Etling, I was watching ESPN at the time, and their analysts seemed in shock that he was even drafted. I wouldn’t think of him as anything but an interesting prospect who might develop into a backup. It’s altogether likely the Patriots enter 2019 looking for their next starter.


So now the Patriots have some ammo to move up next year in what appears to be a thin quarterback class, if there’s a quarterback they like. As of today, the Patriots would likely have six picks in the first three rounds—a one, two twos, and three threes, including possible compensatory picks for pricey free agents Nate Solder and Malcolm Butler while not signing any high-salaried unrestricted free agents. Too early to know for sure, but Drew Lock of Missouri could be the only top-10 caliber quarterback next year after four went in the top 10 this year. The Patriots are in better position today to move up for Lock or one of his brethren than they were before the weekend.

– – –

Rob Rang grades the Patriots:


With Tom Brady teasing retirement, it was clear the Patriots viewed this draft with a win-now mentality, investing early picks in immediate impact prospects and setting themselves up for a splashy 2019 with several trade downs. Fans sometimes forget the human element that comes into play when drafting players, who sometimes struggle to acclimate to new environments. That is why from both a schematic and personality standpoint, the Patriots’ selection of former Georgia teammates Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel make perfect sense. Wynn was among this year’s top pass blockers and Michel – besides being an elusive runner – is also a reliable receiver and pass protector. Expect each to contribute big time as rookies, which is saying something on a team as loaded with veterans as New England.


Grade: B


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


New England Patriots: A-

Their evaluation always requires a deeper dive, though Bill Belichick did fill several needs (even if he’d cringe at that framing). Isaiah Wynn, assuming he can handle an NFL tackle’s responsibilities despite projections he’d fit better at guard, could take over for Nate Solder. RB Sony Michel is far more explosive than Dion Lewis was. Second-round CB Duke Dawson eases the Malcolm Butler divorce. The Pats also swung a deal for San Francisco RT Trent Brown, who’s started 26 games over the past two seasons, and picked up Chicago’s second-round pick in 2019. The head scratcher was the decision not to take a quarterback who could develop behind Tom Brady … unless LSU’s Danny Etling surprises on a Brady-esque level.


Pete Prisco of


New England Patriots: B

The Patriots did a lot of moving up and down this draft, and ended up with nine selections. They had two in the first round and used the first of those on Georgia tackle Isaiah Wynn. He is short to be a left tackle, but he’s a good player. They then took Georgia runner Sony Michel with their other first-round pick. He is perfect for their system. Both Georgia players do come with injury concerns. They traded up in the second round to take Florida corner Duke Dawson, which was probably a little high for him. After that, they addressed linebacker need and then took Miami receiver Braxton Berrios in the sixth to play the slot.




Rob Rang grades the Jets:


Rejoice, long-suffering Jets fans, your franchise quarterback is now on the roster in the form of USC’s Sam Darnold, whose physical talent is matched by his intangibles. Few of the quarterbacks in this draft have the mettle to handle the bright lights and expectations of Broadway but Darnold does.

Grade: B


Nate Davis of USA TODAY:


New York Jets: A-

GM Mike Maccagnan’s gamble to trade up three spots to No. 3 (for three second rounders) paid off more handsomely than he probably could have imagined. Eight months ago, Jets fans wondered if their team would go 0-16 in order to secure QB Sam Darnold. New York finished 5-11 but got Darnold, who’d likely win an election as the draft’s top passing prospect, anyway. Now, will he end the Jets’ perpetual quest for a franchise passer? Third-round DL Nathan Shepherd and fourth-round TE Chris Herndon could both be Week 1 starters, though that says as much about the state of the roster as it does about their readiness.


Pete Prisco of


New York Jets: C+

They landed what they believe is their franchise passer in Sam Darnold, moving up to the third spot to take him. Most rate this as a great pick, but I am not as sold on Darnold. Even so, they had to get a passer in that spot. Third-round nose tackle Nathan Shepherd will help improve the run defense. If Darnold is a star, this draft will be a really good one. I don’t think he will be, but instead he will be just a solid quarterback.







All the best to Matt Millen:


Former Lions general manager Matt Millen has a heart that is operating at 30 percent of what it should due to a disease he’s had for years and didn’t know about called amyloidosis, Nate Atkins of Mlive reports.  This according to The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., which published a lengthy feature on his life and condition. Amyloidosis is a condition where an abnormal protein builds around the organs.


Millen, 60, has known about the disease for eight months, ever since he was diagnosed following bouts of chest pains and shortness of breath during a six-year span. He’s been attending weekly chemotherapy sessions to try to treat it.


He’s been trying to enjoy his life in the meantime, mowing the grass of his five-acre home and performing different woodworking projects in addition to serving as a color analyst for college football games.


“While I’m still up on this side,” Millen told The Morning Call, “I’ll enjoy everything.”


Millen played 12 seasons in the NFL, most of which came with the Raiders. He made two All-Pro teams and also won four Super Bowl titles.


He was Detroit’s general manager from 2001-2008. The team went 31-84 in that time, and he was fired three games into a 2008 campaign in which the Lions became the first team in NFL history to go 0-16.