The Daily Briefing Tuesday, May 1, 2018

AROUND THE NFL 

Shad Khan has big plans for Wembley.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is attempting to complete a purchase of Wembley Stadium, England’s marquee “football” field, and he wants to put the NFL’s marquee game there.

 

Khan told the BBC that if he owns Wembley he’s going to push for the biggest events in the world to be there, which for British fans first and foremost means a World Cup final, but would also include the Super Bowl.

 

“Our role would be to provide a world-class venue,” Khan said. “Wembley is a great stadium and you want to get it configured to hold Super Bowl and World Cup finals.”

 

The NFL would undoubtedly alienate some American fans by moving the Super Bowl overseas. But would having the sport’s biggest event in London attract enough international fans to justify the move? It appears that Khan thinks it could work, and given how seriously the NFL has taken the prospects of building a bigger fan base in London, he may have some support within the league office.

– – –

The kickoff is under assault.  ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The NFL isn’t done tinkering with kickoffs.

 

NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent told Judy Battista of NFL Media that after two days of meetings at the league office, a kickoff proposal will likely be brought to the owners at the May meeting. Vincent believes a modification to kickoff rules is likely to be implemented this season.

 

The NFL has already modified the kickoff by moving it up five yards from the 30 to the 35, moving touchbacks up five yards from the 20 to the 25, and preventing players on the kicking team from getting more than five yards of a running start before the kick.

 

What more modifications can be made? The NCAA has changed its kickoff rule to allow the receiving team to fair catch anywhere inside the 25-yard line and get the ball at the 25. The NFL could adopt that rule as well.

 

Vincent said the NFL is not considering eliminating the kickoff. But Vincent has previously said that is, indeed, on the table. ‏And ultimately, it will be the NFL’s owners who decide whether to keep or eliminate the kickoff. If three-fourths of the NFL’s owners want to get rid of it, then it’s gone.

 

What the NFL still needs to do is come up with a replacement for the onside kick. Football needs a way for teams trailing by more than one possession to get the ball back late in the game, and right now, that way is the onside kick. Once the NFL figures out another way, the kickoff is likely to go away.

 

NFC NORTH

 

CHICAGO

Did the Bears really draft that well?  Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com says they have his favorite draft class of 2018

 

1 — Chicago Bears

 

1 (8) – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

2 (39) – James Daniels, G/C, Iowa

2 (51) – Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

4 (115) – Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky

5 (145) – Bilal Nichols, DT, Delaware

6 (181) – Kylie Fitts, DE, Utah

7 (224) – Javon Wims, WR, Georgia

 

The Bears earn the top spot this year, mostly for what they did in the first two rounds. Smith is the new face of the Bears’ defense and his impact will be substantial. Daniels fell out of the first round and into Chicago’s laps. He is still very young and needs to grow up quickly (both physically and mentally) once in training camp, but the talent, technique and athleticism are there to push for a starting role at guard or center. Without a third-round pick (trade up for Mitchell Trubisky in 2017), the Bears had to use a 2019 second-round pick to get back into the round, but it was well worth it for Miller. With Kevin White’s inability to stay on the field, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Miller emerge as the No. 2 receiving option at some point during the 2018 season. Iyiegbuniwe is an athletic linebacker who flows and fills. Wims had a breakthrough senior year for the SEC Champion Georgia Bulldogs and still has upside, making him the perfect back end of the roster wideout.

 

The rest of his top five draft classes are the Jets (see below), Carolina, Dallas and Atlanta.

 

 

MINNESOTA

The Vikings are bringing back CB TERENCE NEWMAN for what will be his age-40 season.

 

According to a list at the Hall of Fame site, this is the other 40-year-old and up cornerbacks.

 

Darrell Green  CB       2002 Washington Redskins   February 15, 1960 (up to age 42)

 

Of the 60 players listed who played to 40+, 44 are either PKs, Ps or QBs.  So 16 at the other positions, with Newman to be #17.

– – –

WR CAYLEB JONES, brother of JAY JONES of the Bills, has been suspended.  Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

 

Another Vikings player has been suspended for the start of the 2018 season.

 

The NFL has suspended receiver Cayleb Jones for four games after he violated the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. He won’t be available for an NFL regular season game until Week 5, which starts Sept. 28 for the Vikings. Earlier this month, linebacker Kentrell Brothers was suspended four games for violating the performance-enhancing drugs policy.

 

Jones, 25, spent last year on the Vikings practice squad and re-signed a futures deal in January. Jones (6-3, 209 pounds) went undrafted out of Arizona in 2016.

 

He’s the brother of Bills receiver Zay Jones, who was reportedly arrested in March for felony vandalism. Zay Jones was seen on a video obtained by TMZ Sports struggling with another man, identified by the site as Cayleb, and reportedly trying to jump out of a 30th-floor window until police arrived.

 

So Cayleb is the brother who seemed sober in the March incident, but he is the one now suspended.

 

NFC EAST

 

DALLAS

Tony Romo with an endorsement for the still-unsigned WR DEZ BRYANT.  Kevin Patra of NFL.com:

 

With the NFL draft in the rearview, all eyes will turn to the last big story strand whipping in the warm wind of spring: Where will Dez Bryant land?

 

The ex-Dallas Cowboys receiver predictably had to wait until after the draft to find the best landing spot. Bryant turned down a multi-year offer from the Baltimore Ravens in hopes of getting a one-year prove-it deal and chase in next season. With the Ravens now off the list, it’s anyone’s guess where Bryant might land at this point.

 

An aspect of Dez’s free agency that is likely to give some team’s pause when bringing in the aging receiver is his fit in the locker room. During his Dallas tenure, Bryant was known for his sideline outburst and big personality.

 

One of Bryant’s longtime former teammates, Tony Romo, has no questions that the mercurial receiver can fit seamlessly into any locker room.

 

“There’s a ton of teams he could help,” Romo said after his U.S. Open qualifying round, via ESPN’s Todd Archer. “One thing, I don’t know how many teams will do their homework on it, but Dez is a good teammate and I think sometimes that might get lost in the way that the emotional aspect of things. If I was talking to any of the GMs or coaches, I would tell them he’s not going to hurt the locker room in any possible way. He’s going to come out and he’ll be a great teammate when he gets there. I think he’ll have a couple options here soon.”

 

Romo spent seven seasons as Bryant’s quarterback before retiring last year. Bryant was cut by the Cowboys on April 13. Dez has expressed his desire to remain in the NFC East, but thus far no team has reciprocated that craving.

– – –

Yesterday, we wondered if FOX had joined CBS in the running for the services of TE JASON WITTEN who was said to be pondering plural broadcasting offers.  A source tells us there is a good chance the second offer, besides ESPN’s Monday Night Football, might be for a Sunday night studio position with NBC.

 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com hears that the Giants tried to dump T ERECK FLOWERS during the draft without success.

 

The New York Giants were open to trading Ereck Flowers during the NFL draft. It just didn’t happen, in part because of the price.

 

The Giants were looking for a mid-round draft pick in return for Flowers, according to a source. That wasn’t going to happen, given the level of his play and contract.

 

The price was considered significantly too steep for one team, and it ultimately didn’t lure any bites. Flowers is guaranteed $2.4 million this season.

 

The Giants are now left with a decision to make on a young tackle who has struggled early in his career and has elected to train away from his team this offseason. His status was already considered questionable after a frosty relationship with his fellow offensive linemen and the belief among teammates that he shut it down early last season.

 

Flowers, 24, remains on the roster, for now. He’ll have to earn his spot this summer.

 

The University of Miami product has not attended the team’s voluntary offseason workout program, instead opting to train at home in Florida. He was one of the few players who did not participate in the team’s voluntary minicamp last week.

 

 

PHILADELPHIA

The Eagles exercised their fifth-year option on WR NELSON A.  Zach Berman in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

 

The Eagles exercised the fifth-year option on wide receiver Nelson Agholor’s contract, giving the team the opportunity to keep him in Philadelphia through the 2019 season.

 

Agholor would command a projected salary of about $9.4 million if he plays under his original contract during the option year. It’s not guaranteed until March 2019 unless Agholor suffers an injury, although it keeps him under team control for an additional season and could also help if the Eagles try to sign him to a contract extension.

 

Agholor, 24, emerged as one of the offense’s best players in 2017, when he finished with 62 catches for 768 yards and eight touchdowns. Agholor also led the Eagles with nine receptions in the Super Bowl. His 2017 performance came after he moved to slot receiver spot in August following the trade of Jordan Matthews. He had more yards, catches, and touchdowns than he totaled in his first two years combined, when Agholor underachieved after the Eagles selected him with their 2015 first-round pick. Now, he’s viewed as a key piece of the Eagles offense for 2018 and potentially beyond.

 

NFC WEST

 

ARIZONA

So why was Alonzo Highsmith of the Browns bothered that QB JOSH ROSEN has a girlfriend who is a volleyball player?

 

Browns V.P. of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith had plenty to say on Monday about how the team settled on quarterback Baker Mayfield. Highsmith also shared some insights on why the Browns didn’t settle on quarterback Josh Rosen.

 

“I was at an airport,” Highsmith said Monday at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club, via the Canton Repository. “UCLA’s volleyball team was in front of me. You heard so much about Rosen. He’s this or that. We all know how people talk.

 

“So I asked one of the volleyball coaches, ‘What’s Rosen like?’ He said, ‘Aaaa, you should probably ask his girlfriend. She’s one of the players. She’s over there.’

 

“I’m like, ‘All right coach. That’s good enough.’ . . . I don’t know what all this means, but there was something about him that bothered me.”

 

Surely, Highsmith based his conclusion on more than an airport encounter with a volleyball coach. The bottom line is that, after Highsmith and the Browns did all the work they needed to do, one o the team’s top executives sensed “something about [Rosen] that bothered [him].”

 

Maybe, in time, more facts will emerge regarding the basis for Highsmith’s conclusion. For now, the candor regarding Rosen, who was taken 10th overall by the Cardinals, is definitely an eyebrow raiser.

 

Her name is Zana Muno and she has been with Rosen since high school, which seems to be a positive testimony to the QBs stability.  LarryBrownSports.com:

 

Josh Rosen and his girlfriend Zana Muno make quite an athletic couple.

 

Rosen was the quarterback for UCLA’s football team for three seasons, while Muno plays for the Bruins’ women’s volleyball team. Like Rosen, Muno is from the South Bay area of Los Angeles. She is from Hermosa Beach, Calif. and went to high school at Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks. Rosen is from Manhattan Beach and attended St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower.

 

The two appear to have known each other since before UCLA, as Rosen made an appearance on Muno’s Instagram in Feb. 2015, before his true freshman season.

Muno appeared on Rosen’s Instagram as far back as late 2013 when he was a guest at USC.

 

 

Muno is a junior and quite the accomplished player, especially on the Bruins top-ranked beach volleyball team.  She and partner Nicole McNamara form the third-ranked tandem in the country, or they did in early April when this story was written.

 

Despite an injury that shook up the lineup, the Bruins made history. The Bruins have now won 25 straight dual matches, the most in school history.

 

“We’re all super excited to have this momentum going into the postseason,” said junior Nicole McNamara. “We just want to keep riding this out for the rest of the season.”

 

No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball (30-3) defeated No. 5 Cal Poly (22-4) and No. 13 Stanford (13-9) 4-1 while sweeping No. 20 Saint Mary’s (13-9) and Pacific (6-10) at the Stanford West Coast Classic on Saturday and Sunday at the Stanford Beach Volleyball Stadium.

 

During the second set of their match against Cal Poly, sophomore Savvy Simo said junior Zana Muno suffered a knee injury. The pair managed to take the match to three sets and win the game, but Muno was taken out of the lineup for the rest of the tournament.

 

“(Muno) dove for a loose ball and she fell kind of weird,” Simo said. “(She) called timeout as if we were losing. End of the second set, she called timeout. She said she was fine and then she came back and hit a ball and she was like ‘It’s not okay, it’s not okay.’ … Her knee kept giving out but she fought through it and didn’t even take a medical timeout. We just finished the game.”

 

With the Bruins at a 1-1 tie against the Mustangs, the pair could have forfeited the match on court three, but Muno decided to keep playing.

 

“(She’s) a true competitor and team player,” said coach Stein Metzger. “She loves to compete no matter what is going on. We had no idea the degree of the injury and we still don’t, so she made the call to continue playing.”

 

The DB feels better about Rosen knowing he has a steady girl friend who is an accomplished athlete used to the stresses of sport.  Not sure why it bothered Highsmith.

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO

DE ARIK ARMSTEAD, a pick of the prior regime who has been okay at best, gets his fifth year option renewed.  Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle:

 

In a mild surprise, the 49ers on Monday exercised the fifth-year option on the contract of defensive lineman Arik Armstead, the 17th overall pick in 2015 who has yet to realize his draft-day potential.

 

Armstead, 24, has just six career sacks and has missed 18 of 32 games the past two seasons with injuries. However, he could earn $9 million in 2019 if he puts together a breakout season.

 

The fifth-year option is guaranteed only for injury. It will become fully guaranteed if he is on the roster on Day 1 of the 2019 league year. It’s a relatively low-risk move for the 49ers, who could release him without financial penalty after this season, assuming he doesn’t get a severe injury.

 

In 2017, Armstead played in six games before sustaining a broken hand in a loss at Washington. General manager John Lynch has said Armstead was in the midst of his best game of the season when he was injured, and has noted he was transitioning to a new role in 2017: Armstead spent his first two seasons in a 3-4 defense before the 49ers moved to a 4-3 last year.

 

“Arik is a guy we think gives us a lot of versatility,” Lynch said. “We feel like the light went on. He was asked to move from one scheme to another.”

 

AFC NORTH

 

BALTIMORE

Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com is agog with the way GM Ozzie Newsome maneuvered during his final draft:

 

Inside the Baltimore Ravens draft room, Ozzie Newsome’s final draft as general manager ended with tears, emotional hugs, a standing ovation and a bold statement from coach John Harbaugh.

 

“I told Ozzie just as we finished this thing up, I feel like this is his best draft since I’ve been here — heck, maybe the best ever,” Harbaugh said.

 

Newsome owned this draft, the 23rd of his illustrious career. Each move felt calculated. Each pick came with a purpose.

 

While at times it felt like Newsome was never going to pick a player, his repeated trades back still landed targeted players and filled needs. Newsome’s maneuver at the end of the first round was one of the shrewdest decisions of the draft and perhaps the best-orchestrated plan of his career.

 

After three days and 12 draft picks, Newsome addressed the team’s biggest void not once, but twice, with pass-catching tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews, selected a onetime top right tackle prospect in Orlando Brown Jr. and landed the franchise’s quarterback of the future with Lamar Jackson.

 

“I really, really feel very good about this class and how it came to be,” Newsome said. “[I can say] that the Baltimore Ravens — there is no doubt in my mind –- are a better football team and will give us an opportunity to get to not only where we want to go to, but all of our fans and everybody that wears that purple. Let’s get into the playoffs and hopefully get to another Super Bowl.”

 

Newsome’s reputation for being one of the NFL’s all-time best decision-makers began in his first draft, when he selected two Hall of Fame players (Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis) in the first round. His final draft appropriately included two first-rounders and once again showcased his expertise at working the draft.

 

Starting off with the No. 16 overall pick, the Ravens moved back to No. 22, picking up a third-round pick that was later used for Andrews. Baltimore then fell to No. 25, adding what would be a critical fourth-rounder and allowing the Tennessee Titans to move up for Alabama inside linebacker Rashaan Evans (a reported target of the rival Pittsburgh Steelers).

 

Despite moving back twice, the Ravens were able to take Hurst, the top tight end on their draft board. What came next could impact the franchise for years to come.

 

Newome surprisingly traded back into the first round for Jackson. All the Ravens had to give up to jump 20 spots for the former Heisman Trophy winner was a 2019 second-round pick and the fourth-rounder they acquired in one of their trades in the first round. It was crucial for Baltimore to get Jackson in the first round because of the fifth-year option (which second-rounders don’t get), which means the Ravens won’t have to rush Jackson into the starting role.

 

There will be some second-guessing. Baltimore passed on safety Derwin James at No. 16 and chose not to take wide receiver D.J. Moore at No. 22. The Ravens, though, were executing a long-thought-out plot in the first round.

 

ROUND/PICK    NAME   POS     COLLEGE

1/25      Hayden Hurst    TE        SOUTH CAROLINA

1/32      Lamar Jackson  QB       LOUISVILLE

3/83      Orlando Brown   OT        OKLAHOMA

3/86      Mark Andrews   TE        OKLAHOMA

4/118    Anthony Averett CB        ALABAMA

4/122    Kenny Young     ILB       UCLA

4/132    Jaleel Scott       WR       NEW MEXICO STATE

5/162    Jordan Lasley    WR       UCLA

6/190    DeShon Elliott   S          TEXAS

6/212    Greg Senat        OT        WAGNER

6/215    Bradley Bozeman           C          ALABAMA

7/238    Zach Sieler        DE        FERRIS STATE

 

But Newsome, who will remain with the organization after giving the GM role to assistant Eric DeCosta, acknowledged that his recent drafts haven’t been up to the team’s standards. In the past nine years, only two draft picks (linebacker C.J. Mosley and fullback Kyle Juszczyk) have become Pro Bowl players for Baltimore.

 

This wasn’t a situation where Newsome was trying to vindicate himself in the final draft. His lack of an ego has always been seen as the key to his success.

 

Those who have worked with Newsome believe it was important for him to leave the franchise set up to win this year and in the future. This draft has Newsome’s personal fingerprints all over it.

 

The Hall of Fame tight end used two of his first four picks on that position. The Ravens became the first team to draft two tight ends in the first three rounds since the 2012 Colts.

 

Newsome continued to mine his alma mater by taking two Alabama players in Brown and cornerback Anthony Averett. He has now chosen 10 Alabama players, the most Crimson Tide selections for any team since 1997.

 

And Newsome made one of his most heartfelt picks in drafting Brown in the third round. There was a longtime connection between Newsome and Brown’s father, nicknamed “Zeus,” who started 80 games for the Ravens. Now, Newsome drafts Brown’s son, who can play for the same team and at the same right tackle position as his father.

 

All of the Ravens’ first three picks — Hurst, Jackson and Brown — had been linked to Baltimore in mock drafts at No. 16. Newsome got all of them much later than that.

 

“The Baltimore Ravens are a better football team after the past three days,” Newsome said. “But ask me two years from now, because now we have to get them in, we have to work with them, we have to develop them, and then two years from now we’ll be able to determine what job we did this weekend.”

 

It will take time before the final assessment of Newsome’s last draft class can be made. But for those who watched Newsome move up and down with every trade to get his desired players, it was pure wizardry.

 

AFC EAST

 

NEW ENGLAND

QB TOM BRADY does a candid, semi-public Q&A and he makes some news.  Khadrice Rollins of SI.com:

 

On Monday, Tom Brady spoke at the Milken Institute Global Conference in a conversation with sportscaster Jim Gray.

 

During their Q&A session, Gray asked Brady if he feels “appreciated” by the Patriots and if the organization shows the “appropriate gratitude” for what he has done in his 18 seasons with the team.

 

Brady responded first by pleading the fifth, the amendment that is used by people to avoid answering questions where they would self-incriminate themselves. He then started to elaborate a bit by explaining “everybody in general wants to be appreciated more at work.”

 

Gray followed that up by asking Brady if he’s “happy,” to which the three-time MVP answered “I have my no moments.”

 

Although those answers might not be exactly what Patriots fans want to hear from the quarterback, Brady had a lot of positive things to say about coach Bill Belichick and their relationship. Brady said Belichick is “not the easiest coach to play for,” but added “he’s the best for me,” and noted how Belichick has “taught” him “so much football” and forged “a very respectful relationship” with him. Brady also called the five-time Super Bowl winning coach “the best coach in NFL history.”

 

This from Darin Gantt of PFT:

 

When Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wasn’t taking passive-aggressive shots at his employer, or questioning the decision-making in the Super Bowl, he actually dropped in something like a straight answer.

 

During his chat with Jim Gray at the Milken Institute Global Conference in California, Brady came right out and said he intended to play in 2018 and beyond, after weeks of will-he-or-won’t-he half-reports and rumors.

 

“I have personal goals. I want to keep playing,” he said, via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. “I’ve said for a long time I want to play to my mid-40s. I was told three years, when I was 36-37, ‘You can’t keep playing; no one wins Super Bowls [at that age].’ It’s a great challenge for me. I think I’ve been challenged my whole life. I feel like I can do it. . . .

 

“I have a great system in place that works well for me in order to keep me performing at my highest level.  . . . What I want to do in the meantime is I want to inspire people through my action. Not tell them what to do, but just show it.”

 

Getting in a plug for the TB12 method, which he likes and has won converts to, seemed fitting with the overall theme of his chat — which seemed to be “poking the bear that is Bill Belichick with a long stick.”

 

And this on the benching of CB MALCOLM BUTLER.  Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

There is lingering frustration over the Super Bowl LII benching of Malcolm Butler. Interviewer Jim Gray asked Tom Brady about Butler on Monday night during a Q&A at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Santa Monica, California.

 

“I wish he would have played, but the coach decided not to play him, and we still had a chance to win,” Brady said, via quotes transcribed by MassLive.com’s Kevin Duffy.

 

Butler played one snap on special teams and none on defense as Nick Foles shredded the Patriots’ secondary in a 41-33 Eagles’ victory.

 

“I’ll say this: For a team, this side of the room is the offense and this side is the defense,” Brady said. “We don’t interfere with them much. I didn’t know. Malcolm kept coming over to me during the game and was like ‘Come on, TB, let’s go!’ And I kept going, ‘What defense are we in where Malcolm’s not on the field?’ Is it short-yardage, goal line?

 

“And then after the game, I found out. So I just didn’t know. And I asked Malcolm, and Malcolm said, ‘I don’t know. Coach has just decided something different.’ I said, ‘OK.’ So I don’t know what was a part of that decision-making, but I know we were trying to win the game. I don’t think we were trying to do anything but win.”

 

Butler, who signed a five-year, $61 million contract with the Titans, has said he wanted an explanation but never asked for one. Brady said he has not asked either.

 

“I haven’t gone and discussed those things,” Brady told Gray. “Do you know why he didn’t play? Would you like to tell me?”

 

Gray asked Brady if Patriots fans deserve an explanation.

 

“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s probably a better answer for the guy who owns our team.”

 

Is it really possible that Bill Belichick, who ended up doing nothing significant at QB, like BAKER MAYFIELD so much above all the other QBs that he was seeking a deal with the Giants?  Mayfield’s agent swears it is true.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Baker Mayfield went to the Browns with the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. But Mayfield’s agent says that if the Browns had chosen someone else, a massive trade that would have shaken up the entire NFL could have happened: The Patriots trading all the way up to No. 2 and taking Mayfield as Tom Brady‘s heir apparent.

 

Jack Mills, the agent for Mayfield, said on Andrew Brandt’s podcast that there was a real chance that the Patriots could have traded with the Giants for the second overall pick, and that the Patriots would have selected Mayfield.

 

“We had another team which is going to surprise you. Another team had said, ‘You may get a big surprise on draft day, at No. 2, if he’s available.’ And it was the Patriots,” Mills said. “They had 23 and they had 31 and they had two seconds. We thought, ‘That’s gonna be a heck of a move, to get up that high from where they are.’ And of course he wasn’t available so we never knew if that was reality or not.”

 

There was talk before the draft of the Patriots trading up for a quarterback, but trading all the way up to No. 2 would have been incredibly hard to pull off. Given that Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman scoffed at trading down from No. 2, he surely would have demanded even more than the Patriots’ two first-round picks and two second-round picks. Would Bill Belichick, who has traditionally preferred trading down over trading up, really have pulled the trigger on a trade like that?

 

Then there’s the question of how Brady would have reacted: He’s already refusing to say if he feels the Patriots appreciate him. How would he feel if the Patriots used a bounty of draft picks to take the next franchise quarterback, rather than using those picks on players who can help Brady win another Super Bowl this season?

 

We’ll never know for sure what would have happened if the Browns had chosen someone other than Mayfield. But it’s crazy to think about the fallout if he had ended up in New England.

 

We don’t know if the bold-faced assertion is true.  We know that Gettleman scoffed at what was offered, maybe he was holding out for the two twos or some such thing.

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

QB SAM DARNOLD give the Jets a draft class that Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com really likes.  It’s his second favorite of the draft:

 

2 — New York Jets

 

1 (3) – Sam Darnold, QB, USC

3 (72) – Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State

4 (107) – Chris Herndon, TE, Miami

6 (179) – Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane

6 (180) – Foley Fatukasi, DT, Connecticut

6 (204) – Trenton Cannon, RB, Virginia State

 

The Jets traded away their second-round picks, but it landed them the best quarterback in the draft. Darnold goes to a situation where he won’t be forced onto the field from Day 1 and will learn from veteran Josh McCown. Shepherd is older and comes from the Division-II level, but he wins with power and quickness and will push for starting reps during his rookie season. If not for a late season knee injury, Herndon would have been a top-100 draft pick. Nickerson is undersized, but he has ball production and speed, projecting best in the nickel. Fatukasi earned a spot on my top-100 draft board and the Jets got him at No. 180 overall. Between him and Shepherd, New York landed two of my favorite interior defensive line prospects this year. Cannon was a joy to watch on film with his shifty athleticism that made defenses look silly.

 

We’re not really sure what makes this such a great draft class, a term which implies depth.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

MORE DRAFT GRADES

These from Walter Football (much edited) and in draft order:

 

Cleveland Browns: C+ Grade

The consensus among analysts and casual fans is that the Browns bungled the top picks, but there are varying opinions on why they did this. There are those questioning Baker Mayfield over Sam Darnold and Denzel Ward over Bradley Chubb. I thought they were the right players in the scenario that the Browns felt they needed to go quarterback with the top pick.

. . .

The Browns, however, made a mistake of not selecting Barkley first overall, as they also would’ve obtained Mayfield at the No. 4 spot. The Browns’ inability to think heteroclitically could cost them in the future, but I don’t have a big issue with the players they obtained in the top four. Cleveland will certainly be much better in 2018.

 

Elsewhere, Cleveland acquired some intriguing weapons around Mayfield in Nick Chubb and Antonio Callaway. Unfortunately, Callaway comes with off-the-field problems, and I wonder if he’ll be a bad influence for Josh Gordon. I don’t think the Browns should’ve made that pick, and I also don’t think they should’ve reached for Chad Thomas in the third frame.

 

 New York Giants: A Grade

2018 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Giants general manager David Gettleman told the media he didn’t listen to any trades for the No. 2 overall pick, as he was dead set on picking Saquon Barkley. I think this was a mistake. The Giants had tons of needs heading into the draft, and Gettleman could’ve obtained tons of draft capital in the process.

 

The lack of trading aside, the Giants had a terrific haul in this class.

 

It’s clear that the Giants are headed in the right direction with Gettleman running the show. Thus, despite his reluctance to trade, I have to give the Giants a high grade.

 

New York Jets: B- Grade

The Jets wanted either Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield, so thanks to the Giants passing on a quarterback, they were able to get their man. Darnold will be able to learn behind Josh McCown, and I suspect he’ll make some starts by sometime in October.

 

The problem is that by trading up for Darnold, the Jets couldn’t obtain much talent around him. They spent a fourth-round selection on tight end Chris Herndon, who could become a nice intermediate weapon for Darnold. However, another offensive player wasn’t obtained until the 200s.

 

Meanwhile, the Jets couldn’t address their many defensive needs.

 

Houston Texans: C+ Grade

Houston’s draft was a tale of two days, partly because they didn’t have a pick on the initial day of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Texans weren’t on the clock until the third round, when they obtained an absolute steal in Justin Reid. A versatile safety, Reid could’ve been chosen at the end of Thursday night. At the very least, he should’ve been taken in the top 50.

 

That said, the Texans didn’t make any late picks I liked, as their third-day choices weren’t nearly as strong as the ones they made on Day 2.

 

Denver Broncos: B Grade

Denver made some stellar picks. Bradley Chubb deserved an A+. He was the top defensive player in the class, and he’ll form a terrific duo with Von Miller. It might make Denver fans recall the days of Miller being paired with DeMarcus Ware. Meanwhile, the Broncos were able to obtain Courtland Sutton in the second round. Sutton doesn’t fill an immediate need, but he should be a starter in 2019 and beyond.

 

The Broncos’ fourth-round choices were solid ones as well. Josey Jewell could’ve gone in the second frame, and he should emerge as a solid starter at some point in the near future. The same could be said of receiver DaeSean Hamilton.

 

While Denver added some great talent, the team faltered in failing to address its poor offensive line.

 

Indianapolis Colts: C+ Grade

The Colts were able to obtain one of those non-quarterback blue-chippers, selecting Quenton Nelson sixth overall. While many thought they’d go after Roquan Smith, taking Nelson was the right choice, as protecting Andrew Luck is paramount, whenever he comes back from his injury.

 

The Colts made some decent picks in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds – Daurice Fountain at No. 159 was the best one – but there was a fatal flaw in their draft, and that was not addressing the secondary at all. The Colts have a poor group of cornerbacks, so failing to to fix that position seems like an egregious error.

 

That said, I don’t want to drag down Indianapolis’ grade too much because of this. The Colts had a mixed draft overall, but should be better as a result of it.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C+ Grade

The Buccaneers really wanted Quenton Nelson, so when they saw that he was off the board, they traded down five spots with the Bills. Derwin James, a popularly mocked player to them, was still available at No. 12, but Tampa eschewed the safety upgrade in favor of Vita Vea.

 

Vea is a very talented nose tackle, but spending a top-12 pick on a two-down player is questionable.

– – –

If it wasn’t for the trade, this would’ve been a dud of a draft for the Buccaneers. It was still mildly disappointing because Winston’s blocking hasn’t improved very much. However, Tampa’s play in the secondary will at least be better, and that’s crucial when considering all of the quarterbacking talent in their division.

 

Chicago Bears: B+ Grade

General manager Ryan Pace was charged with providing Trubisky with as much support as possible, so I imagine he would’ve hoped for Quenton Nelson to fall to him at No. 8 overall. The Colts snatched Nelson, but Pace found a great alternative, taking Roquan Smith instead. Smith is arguably the top defensive player in this class aside from Bradley Chubb, and he’ll be a force in the middle of Chicago’s defense moving forward.

 

The Bears’ next two picks were used to bolster Trubisky’s supporting cast. James Daniels, a steal in Round 2, will be an upgrade in the interior of the offensive line, while Anthony Miller should make for a fine replacement for Cameron Meredith. I wouldn’t have traded up for Miller, but he should help nonetheless.

– – –

I like what the Bears did overall. Pace found help around Trubisky and acquired upgrades for the defense. Getting Nelson would’ve been ideal, but the Bears couldn’t have done anything about that besides trading up, and that would’ve been a mistake.

San Francisco 49ers: C Grade

John Lynch made three mistakes in the 2018 NFL Draft. The first was picking Mike McGlinchey. The strength of the 49ers last year, prior to Jimmy Garoppolo starting, was the tackle play, so someone at that position wasn’t needed. McGlinchey’s arrival meant Trent Brown’s departure, but this was a lateral move, and San Francisco wasn’t able to improve based on what happened in the opening round. There were some stellar defenders available like Minkah Fitzpatrick, Derwin James and Tremaine Edmunds. One of them should’ve been the pick.

 

The second was trading up for Dante Pettis. A receiver was needed, and Pettis is a solid prospect, but there was no run on receivers, so San Francisco would’ve been able to obtain a quality wideout had they remained at their pick. The third, meanwhile, was spending a fourth-round choice on Kentavius Street, a player who tore his ACL in pre-draft workouts. He won’t be able to contribute this year.

 

I don’t want to be completely negative about the 49ers because they added some solid players. I do like McGlinchey and Pettis, and they found some nice bargains in linebacker Fred Warner and cornerback D.J. Reed. However, the mistakes Lynch was guilty of have to push this grade down. The 49ers could’ve done much better than this.

 

Oakland Raiders: B- Grade

Everyone seems down on the Raiders’ draft, but I am not. Kolton Miller is the primary complaint, as the consensus is that he was a reach at No. 15. However, the Ravens were also targeting him with the 16th pick. Just because most mock drafts had Miller in the 20s doesn’t mean that he was a reach. Addressing a big need at tackle with a talented prospect is never a mistake.

– – –

That said, I think Oakland had a fine draft. It could’ve been better for sure, but the team made some nice picks and filled needs. Many other teams had worse hauls than the Raiders did.

 

Miami Dolphins: C+ Grade

The Dolphins had to take the best players available, and they wanted Roquan Smith to fall to them at No. 11. Smith was chosen three picks earlier, so Miami had to pick Minkah Fitzpatrick. This was not a bad consolation prize, as Fitzpatrick will be able to help the team contain Rob Gronkowski and other dynamic tight ends.

– – –

Overall, Miami made some nice selections, but this draft overall felt pretty hollow. It doesn’t seem like the Dolphins have improved very much, and their reluctance to bolster the offensive line seems like a mistake.

 

Buffalo Bills: B Grade

Buffalo acquired its franchise quarterback, and it didn’t even cost them a 2019 first-round choice. The Bills didn’t even surrender the 22nd-overall pick. They gave up two second-rounders, which was perfectly acceptable for a franchise signal-caller.

 

Many might argue that Josh Allen didn’t deserve to be the seventh-overall pick, but he’s a hard-working, massively strong-armed, mobile prospect with immense upside. His accuracy needs work, and he struggles to anticipate throws, but he can be coached up to eventually become a solid starting quarterback.

– – –

The Bills made some other solid picks. Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips provided quality value at the end of the third round. Trading up for Tremaine Edmunds was even better. Edmunds, a high-upside prospect like Allen, was a steal at No. 16 overall. The extremely athletic linebacker could have easily been taken in the top 10, so moving up to obtain him was well worth it.

 

 Washington Redskins: B Grade

General manager Bruce Allen addressed his needs, taking a nose tackle, running back and offensive lineman with his initial three picks. Da’Ron Payne was first, and while he was a solid choice, he wasn’t what Washington wanted; the team was hoping for Vita Vea, as was widely reported. Still, Payne wasn’t a bad consolation prize, as he’ll help the team’s woes in run defense.

 

Guice, meanwhile, offered better value at No. 59. The Redskins traded down and were still able to obtain him, which was a great move. Guice fell because of character concerns, but he’s a very talented runner who should bolster Washington’s ground attack. Geron Christian, meanwhile, was a somewhat questionable choice, but definitely not a bad one, as he’ll provide some much needed depth on the offensive line.

 

I really liked what the Redskins did on Day 3.

 

Green Bay Packers: A Grade

Brian Gutekunst replaced Ted Thompson as general manager this offseason, so this was his opportunity to select NFL prospects. If his initial foray into the NFL Draft is any indication, the Packers are in great hands.

 

Gutekunst proved to be a masterful wheeler and dealer in the first two days of the draft, moving around and obtaining value. He won the trades he was a part of, and he ended up acquiring talented players who filled needs. The first two prospects will help the secondary, as cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Joshua Jackson should both provide upgrades. Jackson was an especially great pick; he was chosen at No. 45, when it was argued that he was a viable option at the 14th-overall choice!

– – –

Once again, Gutekunst performed above expectations. He seemingly came away with a terrific haul, and I’m willing to give him an “A” for his results.

 

Arizona Cardinals: A- Grade

Josh Rosen is a scary prospect. He’s a great passer, which makes him so tantalizing. However, there are concerns about his passion for football as well as his partying ventures. Injuries are also a worry. I did not blame teams that didn’t want to take him in the first round despite their need at quarterback.

 

That said, the Cardinals can’t be blamed for trading up for him either. It would’ve been a mistake to surrender a first-round pick next year, but Arizona didn’t do that. The Cardinals didn’t even give up their second-rounder. They sent one of their two third-round choices, as well as a fifth-rounder, to Oakland for Rosen. They certainly won the trade, obtaining a potential franchise quarterback in the process. This was brilliant management by Steve Keim.

 

Rosen actually tied for the worst individual grade (“B”) for all of the Cardinals’ choices. The highest grade was given to Christian Kirk in the second round. Some thought Kirk could have been selected at the end of the first frame. He’s a play-maker who will be a nice secondary weapon in the offense. Meanwhile, center Mason Cole will help bolster Arizona’s hapless offensive line.

 

Keim did a great job with this draft. Again, I’m not crazy about Rosen, but Keim did the best he could with what he had to work with.

 

Baltimore Ravens: A- Grade

The Ravens made an interesting decision by trading up into the very end of the opening round to take Lamar Jackson. Flacco was not pleased by this, refusing to talk to the media about it. Flacco has been very sub par since winning the Super Bowl. It’s not completely his fault – his protection has been poor, and he’s had several injuries – but there’s no questioning his decline. Newsome was correct in pursuing a quarterback of the future.

 

The problem with Jackson is that he needs lots of time to develop. His accuracy is inconsistent, and his mechanics are poor. It could take him two years to fully be prepared to start, and that’s fine, as Flacco can continue to get the nod in the meantime.

 

Besides, it’s not like Newsome didn’t give Flacco some weapons to work with. After wisely trading down twice, Baltimore selected Hayden Hurst, who will be a big upgrade at tight end. Mark Andrews, another tight end, will also boost the offense. I’m not so sure about tackle Orlando Brown; the talented Oklahoma blocker has work-ethic issues, so Baltimore fans shouldn’t expect him to match the play of his late, great father. Elsewhere, the Ravens found some third-day values in cornerback Anthony Averett, safety DeShon Elliott and center Bradley Bozeman.

 

Newsome had a strong final draft as general manager of the Ravens. He helped upgrade the current roster, all while finding an answer at quarterback for the future. Baltimore is certainly going to miss him.

 

Los Angeles Chargers: A- Grade

Telesco was certainly in a tough spot entering this draft, but I think he did a good job of accumulating talent. In fact, only one individual grade scored worse than a “B,” which was Uchenna Nwosu in the second round. Nwosu was a slight reach and doesn’t fill a substantial need.

 

The Chargers did very well elsewhere. They were given a gift when Derwin James slipped to them at No. 17. It was the opposite of transpired last year when the Chargers mistakenly passed on Malik Hooker, who also tumbled into the teens. James will provide a huge upgrade at safety, which was one of the top needs.

– – –

I think the Chargers had a very strong draft. They filled their key needs with value selections for the most part. They should be better as a result in 2018.

 

Seattle Seahawks: D Grade

Seattle managed to trade down once from 18th overall. The team shifted to No. 27, picking up a crucial third-round pick in the process. That was nice, yet the front office still reached on Rashaad Penny, a running back who teams had rated in the second or third round. One team that tends to draft well considered him a tertiary option in the middle of the second round.

 

Penny was the beginning of an underwhelming haul.

– – –

I don’t know what happened to Seattle. John Schneider used to be a great drafter, but his past couple of classes have been duds. He had 11 combined picks in the first three rounds in the 2016 and 2017 NFL Drafts, and only two, Shaquil Griffin and C.J. Prosise, have enjoyed any amount of success thus far. The jury is still out on some prospects (and Prosise has injury woes), but it’s not looking good right now. And I’m not confident based on the 2018 selections.

 

Dallas Cowboys: C+ Grade

Dallas certainly addressed the front seven with its first pick, taking Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall. Charlie Campbell was the first to report that teams had medical concerns with Vander Esch, and one NFC franchise even medically flunked him. The Cowboys had a different medical evaluation of him, as they weren’t concerned enough to pass on him in the first round. Vander Esch, if healthy, will be a tremendous upgrade in the linebacking corps, but he obviously carries some risk with him.

 

The Cowboys found help for their other big holes with two of their next four picks. Michael Gallup was a nice choice in the third round, as he could be one of Dallas’ starting receivers by Week 1. Dalton Schultz, chosen at the very bottom of Round 4, was a nice bargain as a replacement for the newly retired Jason Witten.

 

The other selections didn’t seem very good, however. Connor Williams was a major reach in Round 2, as it was a panic move when the preferred choices – Courtland Sutton, Dallas Goedert – were both taken. Williams drew fifth-round grades from some teams, as they deemed him not lengthy enough to play tackle and not strong enough to play guard.

– – –

I wouldn’t say that this was a horrible draft for the Cowboys, by any means, but it definitely was a risky one.

 

Detroit Lions: C Grade

While their mentor spent lots of energy trading down in this class, Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn moved up on a couple of occasions. They did so in the second round, getting running back Kerryon Johnson at No. 43. They then gave New England a 2019 third-round pick to get Da’Shawn Hand in the fourth frame. Hand should help the defensive front, but using multiple resources to get him, including a second-day choice in next year’s superior class, seems like a mistake.

 

Speaking of errors, the Lions made a horrendous pick in the third round, reaching greatly for safety Tracy Walker, who may have been available in the fifth frame.

 

Cincinnati Bengals: B Grade

Cincinnati wanted Frank Ragnow, but the Lions selected him one pick earlier. Luckily for the Bengals, they also loved Billy Price as a prospect, so they were able to select him 21st overall. Price tore his pectoral at the combine, but recent medical reports suggested that he would be ready by August, if not earlier. Price, as a result, should be Cincinnati’s day-one starter at center.

 

I thought the Bengals would make more upgrades to the offensive line, but they didn’t draft another blocker until the seventh round. This was a mistake

– – –

It seems like the Bengals came away with a decent haul this year, as several players from this class figure to make impactful contributions in 2018. I just wish more energy was spent on the offensive line.

 

Kansas City Chiefs: D Grade

John Dorsey took a job with the Browns, and his absence was very apparent. Kansas City has drafted well with Dorsey, but this was certainly a step backward.

 

Los Angeles Rams: B- Grade

I thought that just taking the best player available, regardless of position, was the right strategy for the Rams. For a while, however, it seemed as though they were taking the worst player available.

– – –

Considering the Rams didn’t have a pick in the first two rounds, they did relatively well. I hated two of their initial three picks, but their third-day drafting was strong.

 

Carolina Panthers: A+ Grade

The Panthers’ first three selections were used on their biggest needs, as they took a receiver, cornerback and safety in the initial three rounds. While some teams completely ignored needs this weekend, Carolina made a point to address them, all while selecting some of the top players on the board.

 

There was some question about D.J. Moore, taken 24th overall, given that Calvin Ridley was still available. Some thought Ridley was the superior receiver, but I know for a fact that Moore was heavily considered by two teams in the teens, yet they passed on him only because some superior talents unexpectedly fell to them.

– – –

This was an A+ draft for the Panthers. I loved pretty much everything they did, as they grabbed some very talented players and filled most of their biggest needs.

 

Tennessee Titans: A Grade

There were four first-round off-LOS linebackers in this class – Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, Leighton Vander Esch, Rashaan Evans – so when the first three were taken off the board, the Titans correctly realized that they had to trade up to get one in the wake of Avery Williamson’s departure. They moved up three spots to secure Evans, leaping the Patriots, who could have snatched him off the board. This was a great decision.

– – –

Getting Evans was a win, as was securing Harold Landry in the second round. The Titans once again moved up, recognizing that Landry was a steal at No. 41 overall, given that Landry easily could’ve been chosen in the 20s. Had the Titans taken Landry at No. 25, I would’ve given that a B+ grade.

 

Tennessee made just two other picks, both of which were solid.

 

Atlanta Falcons: A- Grade

If you do a Twitter search of “Calvin Ridley Falcons,” you’ll find some interesting posts from Atlanta fans back in March, heavily criticizing Mel Kiper for mocking Ridley to the Falcons in a mock draft. The Ridley choice surprised many, but it was a good one.

– – –

“Best player available” can certainly be used to characterize the Falcons’ next pick, Isaiah Oliver. The Colorado product doesn’t fill a substantial need, but he was a steal at No. 58 overall. Oliver, a tall, lengthy, athletic cornerback, could’ve been chosen in the 20s or 30s without any complaints. It was shocking that he fell so late in the second round.

– – –

I really like what the Falcons did in the 2018 NFL Draft. They added some very talented players and addressed some needs. The one issue I have is that not enough energy was spent on the defensive line, but Atlanta fans have to be happy with what the front office was able to accomplish.

 

New Orleans Saints: D Grade

Only one player made sense for the Saints when it was announced that they surrendered their 2019 first-round pick to trade up from No. 27 to 14. That would be Lamar Jackson. Only a quarterback is worth using two first-round picks on, yet the Saints opted to go in a different direction, selecting ultra-raw defensive end Marcus Davenport. There’s a chance Davenport could develop into a talented edge rusher, but considering that the 2019 NFL Draft class is packed with great defensive line prospects – six of the top 10 picks in the current 2019 NFL Mock Draft are defensive linemen – the Saints could’ve just addressed the position a year from now, all while using the 2018 first-rounder on help elsewhere.

 

While the decision to trade a 2019 first-round selection for Davenport was horrible, it wasn’t even the worst pick the Saints made. That would be fourth-round offensive tackle Rick Leonard, who was not a draftable prospect by most accounts.

– – –

The Saints had a legendary 2017 NFL Draft class, so it was very disappointing to see them make so many dubious decisions this year. It’s inevitable that the front office will regret not owning a first-round pick in next year’s loaded draft class.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers: C- Grade

Pittsburgh was rumored to be enamored with Leighton Vander Esch, but he was long gone by the time they were on the clock. So was Rashaan Evans. With those two prospects gone, it didn’t seem like the Steelers had a concrete plan in place, as they were forced into selecting Round 2-3 prospect Terrell Edmunds at No. 28 overall. Edmunds is a safety-linebacker tweener, and it’s unclear which position he’ll be able to play successfully. He’s not the sort of prospect who should be chosen in the opening frame.

 

The Edmunds pick set the tone for what was a disappointing draft for the Steelers. Mason Rudolph was a waste of a third-round selection, as the Steelers haven’t learned their lesson from Landry Jones; Big XII quarterbacks with pop-gun arms aren’t going to be successful in the pros, and Rudolph will fail in a similar fashion.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars: A+ Grade

Taven Bryan was very unexpected at No. 29 overall, partly because many didn’t think he would be there. Bryan was widely projected to the Lions (No. 20) and Falcons (26), so the Jaguars may have been surprised that he was available. Bryan doesn’t fill a current need, but he was the best player available, and he’ll make for a great replacement for Calais Campbell in the future.

 

Bryan was the initial part of the 4-of-4 “A” grades the Jaguars received. Wide receiver D.J. Chark, safety Ronnie Harrison and tackle Will Richardson all were outstanding choices. Only Chark and Richardson filled needs, but all four prospects provided great value, especially Harrison at No. 93 overall. There was some speculation that Harrison would sneak into the opening round!

– – –

Jacksonville had one of the top hauls in the 2018 NFL Draft class. The team found great value with nearly every pick, and it addressed a couple of key needs.

 

Minnesota Vikings: B Grade

Minnesota didn’t exactly target the offensive line. Only one blocker was obtained prior to Round 7, and that was tackle Brian O’Neill at No. 62 overall. O’Neill has plus athleticism for his position, but lacks functional strength right now. It might take a while until he’s ready to start.

 

That said, the Vikings made a couple of quality picks. The Mike Hughes selection at 30th overall was an especially great one.

– – –

This was a decent draft class for general manager Rick Spielman. He obtained some quality players and addressed a couple of key needs. However, there wasn’t nearly enough energy spent on the offensive line, and the one blocker who was acquired will take some time to become an effective starter.

 

New England Patriots: B Grade

There was plenty of speculation that the Patriots would pick Lamar Jackson or trade up for Josh Rosen, yet Bill Belichick appeared to mock the media, refusing to select a signal-caller until the seventh round. Given that this was an underwhelming quarterback group, it’s understandable why Belichick eschewed all of the players at the position.

 

That said, Belichick made a couple of questionable decisions. The first occurred at No. 23 when Isaiah Wynn was announced as a tackle. Given his 32-inch arms, Wynn may struggle at the position, and he seemingly would be better off in the interior. After that, the Patriots traded up into the middle of the second round for cornerback Duke Dawson. The Florida product was considered a third-round prospect, so it was unnecessary to make a move for him. Dawson wouldn’t have been a bad pick in a vacuum, but the trade is the negative part.

 

New England’s worst choice was fifth-round linebacker Ja’whaun Bentley, a UDFA-caliber prospect. Belichick infamously will raise the white flag and take UDFA guys when no one remains on his draft board, and that is what he appeared to do at No. 143 overall.

 

That said, the Patriots had some positives in this class. Sony Michel is a dynamic running back who resembles Alvin Kamara, and he was an outstanding choice at No. 31 overall. Also, the Patriots obtained extra second- and third-round choices for the 2019 NFL Draft in trades with the Bears and Lions, respectively. Given that the 2019 NFL Draft class appears to be absolutely loaded, this was a terrific strategy that Belichick utilized.

 

Philadelphia Eagles: B+

Philadelphia decided that trading down was the way to go, especially after its preferred target, Sony Michel, was snatched off the board one spot earlier. This was a wise move, as picking up extra picks was essential. The Eagles acquired two second-round choices, one of which will be in the loaded 2019 NFL Draft class.

 

With some extra ammo the Eagles moved ahead of the Cowboys to take athletic tight end Dallas Goedert at No. 49 overall. Philadelphia obtained a talented player to fill a need, all while stealing a player its biggest rival coveted. This was yet another example of why Howie Roseman is arguably the best general manager in the NFL.

 

 

 

MOCK DRAFT REVIEW

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com is the champion of the 2018 Mock Draft because he got 8 of 32 right.  This tweet from Mark Dalton:

 

@CardsMarkD

Once again not a good year for mock drafters.

 

Review of 40 notable mocks shows avg # of 1st Rd “hits” (right player/right tm) was just 3/32.

 

But for 2nd straight yr highest # of “hits” was 8 by NFL Net’s Daniel Jeremiah.

 

Sadly 19 mocks hit 2 or fewer, incl two 0-32 efforts

 

By this standard, the DB wasn’t very good.  We got one right – Lamar Jackson to the Ravens.