Thor's Multi-Round Mock Team Breakdowns

Thor Nystrom
Rotoworld

This week I released a two-part mock draft covering Round 1 (here), Round 2 (here) and Round 3 (here). After running through each individual player with a scouting breakdown in those releases, I wanted to take a more holistic look at each team's potential approach to the draft and their respective theoretical hauls. Below I've charted the results for the mock draft (including a bonus fourth-round!), with AFC team breakdowns following on the second page of this column and NFC team breakdowns following on the third page. Let's get this party started!

 

ROUND 1

TEAM

PLAYER

POSITION

COLLEGE

1

Cincinnati

Joe Burrow

QB

LSU

2

Washington

Chase Young

EDGE

Ohio State

3

Detroit

Isaiah Simmons

DW

Clemson

4

NY Giants

Tristan Wirfs

OT

Iowa

5

Miami

Tua Tagovailoa

QB

Alabama

6

LA Chargers

Justin Herbert

QB

Oregon

7

Carolina

Jedrick Wills

OT

Alabama

8

Arizona

Derrick Brown

iDL

Auburn

9

Jacksonville

Jeffrey Okudah

CB

Ohio State

10

Cleveland

Andrew Thomas

OT

Georgia

11

NY Jets

Jerry Jeudy

WR

Alabama

12

Las Vegas

CeeDee Lamb

WR

Oklahoma

13

Indianapolis

Javon Kinlaw

iDL

South Carolina

14

Tampa Bay

Mekhi Becton

OT

Louisville

15

Denver

Laviska Shenault

WR

Colorado

16

Atlanta

K’Lavon Chaisson

EDGE

LSU

17

Dallas

Grant Delpit

S

LSU

18

Miami

AJ Epenesa

EDGE

Iowa

19

Las Vegas

Kristian Fulton

CB

LSU

20

Jacksonville

Henry Ruggs

WR

Alabama

21

Philadelphia

Trevon Diggs

CB

Alabama

22

Buffalo

Tee Higgins

WR

Clemson

23

New England

Josh Jones

OT

Houston

24

New Orleans

Jordan Love

QB

Utah State

25

Minnesota

C.J. Henderson

CB

Florida

26

Miami

Austin Jackson

OT

USC

27

Seattle

Curtis Weaver

EDGE

Boise State

28

Baltimore

Jalen Reagor

WR

TCU

29

Tennessee

Ross Blacklock

iDL

TCU

30

Green Bay

Kenneth Murray

LB

Oklahoma

31

San Francisco

Xavier McKinney

S

Alabama

32

Kansas City

Jaylon Johnson

CB

Utah

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ROUND 2

TEAM

PLAYER

POSITION

COLLEGE

33

Cincinnati

Zack Baun

EDGE

Wisconsin

34

Indianapolis

Justin Jefferson

WR

LSU

35

Detroit

Cameron Dantzler

CB

Mississippi St

36

NY Giants

Terrell Lewis

EDGE

Alabama

37

LA Chargers

Cesar Ruiz

iOL

Michigan

38

Carolina

Jake Fromm

QB

Georgia

39

Miami

D'Andre Swift

RB

Georgia

40

Arizona

Lucas Niang

OT

TCU

41

Cleveland

Justin Madubuike

iDL

Texas A&M

42

Jacksonville

Patrick Queen

LB

LSU

43

Chicago

Jacob Eason

QB

Washington

44

Indianapolis

Yetur Gross-Matos

EDGE

Penn St

45

Tampa Bay

A.J. Terrell

CB

Clemson

46

Denver

Noah Igbinoghene

CB

Auburn

47

Atlanta

Cole Kmet

TE

Note Dame

48

NY Jets

Bradlee Anae

EDGE

Utah

49

Pittsburgh

Jonathan Taylor

RB

Wisconsin

50

Chicago

Adam Trautman

TE

Dayton

51

Dallas

Marlon Davidson

iDL

Auburn

52

LA Rams

Tyler Biadasz

iOL

Wisconsin

53

Philadelphia

Brandon Aiyuk

WR

Arizona St

54

Buffalo

Damon Arnette

CB

Ohio State

55

Atlanta

J.K. Dobbins

RB

Ohio State

56

Miami

Bryce Hall

CB

Virginia

57

Houston

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

RB

LSU

58

Minnesota

Neville Gallimore

iDL

Oklahoma

59

Seattle

KJ Hamler

WR

Penn St

60

Baltimore

Malik Harrison

LB

Ohio State

61

Tennessee

Julian Okwara

EDGE

Notre Dame

62

Green Bay

Michael Pittman Jr.

WR

USC

63

Kansas City

Cam Akers

RB

FSU

64

Seattle

Logan Stenberg

iOL

Kentucky

 

ROUND 3

TEAM

PLAYER

POSITION

COLLEGE

65

Cincinnati

Ezra Cleveland

OT

Boise State

66

Washington

Matt Peart

OT

UConn

67

Detroit

Josh Uche

EDGE

Michigan

68

NY Jets

John Simpson

iOL

Clemson

69

Carolina

James Lynch

iDL

Baylor

70

Miami

Lloyd Cushenberry

iOL

LSU

71

LA Chargers

Jeff Gladney

CB

TCU

72

Arizona

Anfernee Jennings

EDGE

Alabama

73

Jacksonville

Hunter Bryant

TE

Washington

74

Cleveland

Kyle Dugger

S

Lenoir-Rhyne

75

Indianapolis

Harrison Bryant

TE

FAU

76

Tampa Bay

Ashtyn Davis

S

California

77

Denver

Jordan Elliott

iDL

Missouri

78

Atlanta

Terrell Burgess

S

Utah

79

NY Jets

Saahdiq Charles

OT

LSU

80

Las Vegas

Jordyn Brooks

LB

Texas Tech

81

Las Vegas

Damien Lewis

iOL

LSU

82

Dallas

Jared Pinkney

TE

Vanderbilt

83

Denver

Prince Tega Wanogho

OT

Auburn

84

LA Rams

Troy Dye

LB

Oregon

85

Philadelphia

Zack Moss

RB

Utah

86

Buffalo

Ben Bredeson

iOL

Michigan

87

New England

Brycen Hopkins

TE

Purdue

88

New Orleans

Denzel Mims

WR

Baylor

89

Minnesota

Ben Bartch

OT

St. John's

90

Cleveland

Akeem-Davis Gaither

LB

Appalachian St

91

Las Vegas

Raekwon Davis

iDL

Alabama

92

Baltimore

Darrell Taylor

EDGE

Tennessee

93

Tennessee

Robert Hunt

iOL

Louisiana

94

Green Bay

Isaiah Wilson

OT

Georgia

95

Denver

Antoine Winfield Jr.

S

Minnesota

96

Kansas City

Logan Wilson

LB

Wyoming

97(c)

Philadelphia

Khalid Kareem

EDGE

Notre Dame

98(c)

New England

Alex Highsmith

EDGE

Charlotte

99(c)

Baltimore

Calvin Throckmorton

iOL

Oregon

100(c)

New England

Jauan Jennings

WR

Tennessee

101(c)

NY Giants

Netane Muti

iOL

Fresno St

102(c)

Houston

Jonathan Greenard

EDGE

Florida

103(c)

Seattle

Trey Adams

OT

Washington

104(c)

Pittsburgh

Matt Hennessy

iOL

Temple

 

ROUND 4

TEAM

PLAYER

POSITION

COLLEGE

105

Bengals

Evan Weaver

LB

California

106

Redskins

Donovan Peoples-Jones

WR

Michigan

107

Lions

Devin Duvernay

WR

Texas

108

Giants

Darnay Holmes

CB

UCLA

109

Texans

Leki Fotu

iDL

Utah

110

Chargers

Colton McKivitz

OT

West Virginia

111

Panthers

AJ Green

CB

Oklahoma St

112

Cardinals

Michael Ojemudia

CB

Iowa

113

Browns

Solomon Kindley

iOL

Georgia

114

Jaguars

Rashard Lawrence

iDL

LSU

115

Buccaneers

Eno Benjamin

RB

Arizona State

116

Broncos

Jason Strowbridge

EDGE

UNC

117

Falcons

Troy Pride Jr.

CB

Notre Dame

118

Jets

Amik Robertson

CB

Louisiana Tech

119

Raiders

K’Von Wallace

S

Clemson

120

Colts

Jalen Hurts

QB

Oklahoma

121

Cowboys

Antonio Gandy-Golden

WR

Liberty

122

Steelers

Kenny Willekes

EDGE

Michigan St

123

Patriots

Julian Blackmon

S

Utah

124

Rams

Alton Robinson

EDGE

Syracuse

125

Eagles

Nick Coe

iDL

Auburn

126

Bills

Hakeem Adeniji

OT

Kansas

127

Ravens

Essang Bassey

CB

Wake Forest

128

Saints

Nick Harris

iOL

Washington

129

Texans

Lamar Jackson

CB

Nebraska

130

Vikings

Collin Johnson

WR

Texas

131

Seahawks

Antoine Brooks

S

Maryland

132

Ravens

Larrell Murchison

iDL

NC State

133

Steelers

Albert Okwuegbunam

TE

Missouri

134

Packers

Thaddeus Moss

TE

LSU

135

Broncos

Jacob Phillips

LB

LSU

136

Chiefs

Lynn Bowden

WR

Kentucky

137(c)

Rams

Stanford Samuels

CB

FSU

138(c)

Vikings

Brandon Jones

S

Texas

139(c)

Buccaneers

Anthony Gordon

QB

Washington St

140(c)

Eagles

Willie Gay Jr.

LB

Mississippi St

141(c)

Redskins

Colby Parkinson

TE

Stanford

142(c)

Dolphins

Alohi Gilman

S

Notre Dame

143(c)

Seahawks

Harrison Hand

CB

Temple

144(c)

Bears

Jonah Jackson

OL

Ohio State

145(c)

Ravens

Ke’Shawn Vaughn

RB

Vanderbilt

146(c)

Eagles

J.R. Reed

S

Georgia

(c) projected comp pick

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

5 needs

Picks

Selections

WR

1.22

WR Tee Higgins

CB

2.54

CB Damon Arnette

EDGE

3.86

iOL Ben Bredeson

OT

4.125

OT Hakeem Adeniji

iOL

 

 

 

Yes, the Bills need a receiver. We all know that. But QB Josh Allen is a very particular kind of quarterback. He has a missile launcher attached to his shoulder, but no scope -- it would sure be helpful to pair him with receivers who could not only get downfield, but catch the ball once there. 

Would you believe that Bills’ receivers finished No. 28 in the league in percentage of contested catches caught last year? 

Some teams picking in this range will fetishize Henry Ruggs or Jalen Reagor, but Tee Higgins is a much, much better fit for Allen’s game. Higgins is a downfield specialist whose catch radius and contested catch skill both rank dang near the top of this class. He’s the jump-baller Allen needs.

Outside of that, Buffalo is going to be shopping for a corner, infrastructure help on the offensive front, and an edge rusher. 

 

Miami Dolphins

5 needs

Picks

Selections

QB

1.5

QB Tua Tagovailoa

OT

1.18

EDGE A.J. Epenesa

EDGE

1.26

OT Austin Jackson

CB

2.39

RB D'Andre Swift

iOL

2.56

CB Bryce Hall

 

3.70

iOL Lloyd Cushenberry

 

4.142(c)

S Alohi Gilman

 

The Dolphins have been making goo-goo eyes with Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa for some time. Between now and late April, they may be forced to part with some of their arsenal of draft capital to make it happen in a trade with Washington or Detroit. But make no mistake: Miami holds the cards in that sweepstakes.

Because of all these picks! Five picks in the top-56 is absurd. Frankly, if I’m Miami, I think I stand pat. If that means somebody hops me for Tua, so be it. The Fins are going to stink next year anyway, and Trevor Lawrence is coming down the pike in 2021. 

But assuming the Dolphins do land their man, next up on the checklist will be to repair the hornet’s nest of issues that led to the team leading the league in sacks allowed and finishing last in sacks itself last season. 

Iowa EDGE AJ Epenesa gets at the latter issue, uber-athletic USC OT Austin Jackson the former. That’s a nifty Thursday night for any franchise. And it sets the table for Friday, when the Fins can go after the ancillary roster issues. They start by taking the draft’s most dangerous multi-purpose back in Georgia’s D’Andre Swift; 17 picks later, a steal when Virginia CB Bryce Hall falls down the board due merely to a 2019 injury. Hall would have been in contention for CB1 in 2019 had he declared.

New York Jets

5 needs

Picks

Selections

WR

1.11

WR Jerry Jeudy

OT

2.48

EDGE Bradlee Anae

EDGE

3.68

iOL John Simpson

CB

3.79

OT Saahdiq Charles

iOL

4.118

CB Amik Robertson

 

The Jets need a receiver whether Robby Anderson is coming back or not. But if he leaves, I don’t know if they have a choice but to use 1.11 on a wideout. The good news is that they’re going to get a potential superstar in that slot.

Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb may be available, and the Jets could potentially have their pick of the two. In this mock, they come away with Alabama’s electric-grid-in-calculator-size Jeudy. Sam Darnold played one year with JuJu Smith-Schuster in college, and he’s played with Anderson. He’s never played with a ton of receiver talent. Let’s change that.

We also want to keep Darnold off the ground. The offensive line needs a lot of help; perhaps multiple picks in the top half of the draft flung that way. Per PFF, the Jets ranked No. 2 in the NFL last year in percentage of snaps where pressure was allowed in 2.5 seconds or less. Working with a middling receiving corps sans time to throw is no way for Sam Darnold to go through a career.

Outside of that, the Jets are going to want to add to their pass rush and improve their coverage. Anae and Robertson, who both had awesome college careers, are nods in that direction.

 

New England Patriots

5 needs

Picks

Selections

TE

1.23

OT Josh Jones

OT

3.87

TE Brycen Hopkins

S

3.98(c)

EDGE Alex Highsmith

EDGE

3.100(c)

WR Jauan Jennings

WR

4.123

S Julian Blackmon

 

The Patriots only have a few glaring needs, which they’ll have to tend to without aid of a second-round pick, air-balled to the Falcons in the ill-fated Mohamed Sanu deal.

Tight end is probably the organization’s biggest personnel need, but this year’s crop is quite bad, nothing worth the 1.23 slot. Instead, it might make the most sense to grab a tackle while there are sure things still left on the board. Houston OT Josh Jones would be a sneaky good pick.

New England has a long wait until its next pick at 3.87. If it doesn't add a starting-caliber tight end in free agency, I think that’s the spot you’ll see one. In this exercise, they come away with field-stretching Purdue TE Brycen Hopkins, who’ll become a weapon if he can clean up his issues with the dropsies.

The Patriots probably won’t be content to add just one more receiving weapon. And while they don’t have a second-rounder, they’re fortunate to have a pair of third-round comp picks in addition to their own. With one of them, they pop Tennessee’s bare knuckle brawler of a receiver, Jauan Jennings, worth the price of admission after the catch and as a run blocker. 

 

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals

5 needs

Picks

Selections

QB

1.10

QB Joe Burrow

EDGE

2.33

EDGE Zack Baun

iOL

3.65

OT Ezra Cleveland

LB

4.105

LB Evan Weaver

OT

 

 

 

The Bengals and Joe Burrow are the two people in intersecting circles who everyone can’t wait to set up with each other. Marriage is inevitable. Since Burrow is coming off the greatest college passing season we’ve ever seen, and a local kid to boot, you’d be out of your mind to stand and object when the priest got to that part (I’ve only actually seen this in movies).

Since we know Burrow will cross off Cincy’s glaring quarterback need at 1.1, the real intrigue, here, is with the rest of franchise’s picks -- because dang if they don’t have holes to fill almost everywhere else the eye can see.

The sagest strategy would be to target bodyguards for Burrow and reinforcements for the defensive front-seven on Day 2 and early Day 3. The offensive line, which was ranked No. 26 by Football Outsiders in adjusted line yards per run and No. 21 in adjusted sack yards, needs a facelift. Jonah Williams’ return is Step 1. Adding an upside tackle like Ezra Cleveland would be a nice Step 2. And Day 3 would be a perfect time to grab a lunchpail interior guy.

With the first pick in Round 2, the Bengals addressed its bottom-half pass-rush with Wisconsin EDGE Zack Baun, an athletic freak with a knack for burying quarterbacks. In Round 4, Cincy plucked a linebacker who could step into that tattered-up front-seven and start quickly, Cal's Evan Weaver. No team in the NFL currently has less cap money tied to the linebacker position next year.

 

Cleveland Browns

5 needs

Picks

Selections

OT

1.10

OT Andrew Thomas

S

2.41

iDL Justin Madubuike

iOL

3.74

S Kyle Dugger

LB

3.90

LB Akeem-Davis Gaither

iDL

4.113

iOL Solomon Kindley

 

Greg Robinson and Chris Hubbard were one of the league’s worst tackle duos last year, and Cleveland’s offensive line, as a whole, ranked No. 23 in PFF’s 2019 grading. Upgrading the unit is a must, and that probably needs to start from the outside in.

I think Georgia OT Andrew Thomas is just about a perfect-case scenario for Cleveland in the first round. Of the top four tackles in this class -- Jedrick Wills, Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton and Thomas -- Thomas has the cleanest projection to left tackle, and is the likeliest to be able to play the position early. 

The Browns, heavy in skill talent and having just watched the house of cards fall as QB Baker Mayfield struggled mightily in the face of pressure, need the immediate pass-pro help. Thomas gave up only six pressures last fall.

Assuming Cleveland goes OL at 1.10, they should then turn their focus to fixing the defense, patching holes. The linebacking and secondary units were shoddy last year. They're now pocked with potential free agents, which presents opportunity -- LB Joe Schobert, FS Damarious Randall, CB Eric Murray and S Juston Burris could be cleared out for younger, cheaper options which are better fits for the new staff. And something needs to be done to shore up an overpaid defensive line that had a matador approach against the run down the stretch. Madubuike is a shockingly good run defender for his size, and his ability to consistently cause interior penetration could lead to more sacks than expected in the pros.

 

Baltimore Ravens

5 needs

Picks

Selections

EDGE

1.28

WR Jalen Reagor

LB

2.60

LB Malik Harrison

WR

3.92

EDGE Darrell Taylor

iOL

3.99(c)

iOL Calvin Throckmorton

CB

4.126

CB Essang Bassey

 

4.132

iDL Larrell Murchison

 

4.145(c)

RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn

 

Heckuva nice spot to be in -- not many needs, especially at pressure-point positions, but seven picks in the first four rounds anyway. As my grandfather would say: “Ain’t that the life.”

Baltimore isn’t playing by your rules. They’ve already established that. So while adding to the pass rush and/or replacing Matt Judon appear to be the team's top priority on the surface, I wouldn’t etch EDGE rusher in stone for the Ravens’ Round 1 slot just yet. 

I have the Ravens taking TCU WR Jalen Reagor at 1.28. And it’s precisely because of the first two sentences of the previous paragraph. I believe they are attempting to build an offense that is an unsolvable Rubik’s cube, and I don’t believe they’re satisfied on that front quite yet. Reagor is an insane athlete. He wouldn’t double-up on the Hollywood Brown pick -- he would double the migraine symptoms of defensive coordinators preparing for Baltimore next fall. I believe that John Harbaugh is Morpheus, Lamar Jackson is Neo, and they’re building up an army to break the Matrix.

Having swallowed another red pill, the Ravens proceeded to spend their Day 2 picks first addressing front-seven athleticism issues via Ohio State LB Malik Harrison and Tennessee EDGE Darrell Taylor (30 hurries en route to a 86.9 PFF pass-rushing grade), and then landing a potential long-term Marshal Yanda replacement in Oregon iOL Calvin Throckmorton. Late fourth-round RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn is a sneaky add who could open eyes playing next to Lamar Jackson in a zone-blocking scheme.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

5 needs

Picks

Selections

EDGE

2.49

RB Jonathan Taylor

iOL

3.104(c)

iOL Matt Hennessy

TE

4.122

EDGE Kenny Willekes

CB

4.133

TE Albert Okwuegbunam

RB

 

 

 

The Steelers won’t be picking until 2.49 because of the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade. On Friday night, when their first selection is finally announced, they’ll have an interesting decision, as there are several different directions they could take this bad boy. Conventionally, it would make most sense to take an offensive lineman, perhaps on the interior, where the Steelers could get out in front of a run.

Pittsburgh ranked last in rushing yards before contact last year, and their pass-pro numbers were abysmal too. The interior of that line isn’t just aging, it’s rotting. But since interior linemen always get pushed down the board, and since part of Pittsburgh’s issue was plodding running backs… why not invert your thinking and try to get out ahead of a running back run? Try to find a star at that position?

Jonathan Taylor could fit the bill, here, and he’d push James Conner into the short-yardage grinding role he’s better suited for anyway. In the third round, the Steelers address that rotting interior with a nearby prospect, Temple’s Matt Hennessy

Michigan State EDGE Kenny Willekes made sense as a contingency plan with Bud Dupree an impending free agent. And Missouri TE Albert Okwuegbunam would give the team a seam presence it’s sorely lacking after finishing with the fewest receiving yards in the league out of the position last fall.

 

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

5 needs

Picks

Selections

iDL

1.13

iDL Javon Kinlaw

WR

2.34

WR Justin Jefferson

EDGE

2.44

EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos

QB

3.75

TE Harrison Bryant

OT

4.120

QB Jalen Hurts

 

The Colts, coming off a season where they ranked in the bottom fourth of the league in havoc rate, need to start generating more pressure up front. In particular because of the defense’s risk-averse ideology, it would be a coup to draft a defender who could reliably penetrate without the need to blitz.

Ladies and gentlemen of Indianapolis, I’d like to introduce you to my friend Javon Kinlaw. I know you folks have visions of Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb dancing in your heads. I don’t blame you. But boy oh boy would Kinlaw be a good fit, exactly what the doctor ordered for what ails your defense.

And waiting on the receiver need is fine because of the depth of this year’s class, especially since the Colts are lucky enough to own the Jets’ second-rounder, 2.34, along with their own at 2.44. In this mock, they pop LSU WR Justin Jefferson with the first of those second-rounders before going after more havoc help in Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos.

In the last two picks of our exercise, the Colts made a couple of fun picks, first taking Eric Ebron’s replacement in FAU TE Harrison Bryant, who I think is the most underrated tight end in the class. In Round 4, Indy adds Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts to push Jacoby Brissett. Hurts’ ceiling -- a cross between Tyrod Taylor and Dak Prescott -- would be a bonanza. More realistically, he’ll be no worse than a strong backup who’ll never turn the ball over when called upon, one who can parrot ideological lines from Nick Saban and Lincoln Riley, making him juice worth the squeeze in this slot.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

5 needs

Picks

Selections

CB

1.9

CB Jeffrey Okudah

TE

1.20

WR Henry Ruggs

WR

2.42

LB Patrick Queen

LB

3.73

TE Hunter Bryant

iDL

4.114

iDL Rashard Lawrence

 

The Jags have an opportunity for a quick facelift with three picks in the top-42. And fortunately for them, they have clearly delineated needs. Even more fortunately, those clearly delineated needs happen to fall within deep positional buckets in this class.

I’m speaking specifically about receiver and corner. Here, Jacksonville is fortunate to watch CB1 Jeffrey Okudah fall to 1.9, a scenario that is more viable than I think other analysts are currently giving it credit for. Rejoice, Jacksonville, as you can now kick A.J. Bouye to CB2, turning your corner group from a big negative into a potential positive.

If that scenario at 1.9 happens, it would set the Jags up for the grand slam of taking whichever stud receiver falls to 1.20 -- in this case, Alabama's Henry Ruggs. This is another pick that knocks the depth chart into its natural order. DJ Chark and Ruggs are your go-to guys, Chris Conley and Dede Westbrook can fight in a steel cage for who is going to leave inconsistency behind and become a reliable NFL WR3 going forward, and the other is a good NFL WR4. That’s a nice receiving corps.

With the next two picks, LSU LB Patrick Queen and Washington TE Hunter Bryant would both be considered steals at positions of need. Queen is an undersized, twitched-up cover linebacker who would address Jacksonville’s pass defense issues from the second level, while Bryant is a move-TE who gives the passing attack yet another weapon.

 

Houston Texans

5 needs

Picks

Selections

RB

2.57

RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire

EDGE

3.102(c)

EDGE Jonathan Greenard

iDL

4.109

iDL Leki Fotu

CB

4.128

CB Lamar Jackson

iOL

 

 

 

Out a first-round pick because of the Laremy Tunsil trade, the Texans must address running back, defensive line and secondary needs while light in the pockets on draft equity. There’s a few different ways you can skin the cat, here.

The direction of the team's 2.57 pick is crucial, as that is Houston’s de facto first-rounder. If the Texans want to put a dynamic young talent next to Deshaun Watson in the backfield, they’ll need to pull the trigger on a runner, as that crop's talent is going to thin out considerably in the almost-50 picks that Houston will have to wait through until they're on the clock again with a comp pick in Round 3. 

LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the back Houston has been looking for. And since Lamar Miller and Carlos Hyde are free agents -- and Houston could save $4.1 million by cutting Duke Johnson -- the Texans may be highly, highly motivated to seal the deal with a runner (be it CEH or someone else) on the last Friday night of April.

After that, defense. Houston’s defense finished No. 29 in havoc rate last fall. Getting JJ Watt back will help some, but we say that every year. Florida EDGE Jonathan Greenard is a one-year wonder whose stock soared in both the 2019 regular season and then the Senior Bowl while Utah iDL Leki Fotu is an enormous interior clogger. In the fourth round, the Texans were finally able to address the corner unit that ranked No. 31 in PFF’s coverage grades last fall by drafting Lamar Jackson. No, not that Lamar Jackson! This Lamar Jackson is a 6’3 Nebraska corner who Houston hopes will take to its system quicker than last year’s skyscraper corner, Round 2 pick Lonnie Johnson (128.9 passer rating allowed).

 

Tennessee Titans

5 needs

Picks

Selections

QB

1.29

iDL Ross Blacklock

EDGE

2.61

EDGE Julian Okwara

iOL

3.93

iOL Robert Hunt

CB

 

 

iDL

 

 

 

Per PFF, the Titans ranked No. 27 in the NFL in pressure rate last year. Their best pass-rusher is a 38-year-old, Cameron Wake. Improving the pass rush is Priority Numero Uno.

And I think that could come in the form of multiple early picks earmarked for the front-seven. In this mock, that’s exactly what the Titans did. In Round 1, they grabbed some interior penetration, popping TCU iDL Ross Blacklock, who returned from injury last fall to dominate on a per-snap basis. 

In Round 2, heat off the edge in the form of Notre Dame athletic marvel Julian Okwara, a Bruce Feldman Freak Lister. Blacklock and Okwara should immediately help Tennessee ratchet up the pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

If Tennessee doesn’t want to use a premium pick on a quarterback, the offensive line is probably the next likeliest spot to get addressed. This is all contingent on what happens with free agent OT Jack Conklin. In this mock, as will assuredly be the case in real life, all the solid tackle prospects were gone by the time the Titans were up in Round 3. But some intriguing interior linemen were still on the board. So the Titans grabbed one who could turn into a real keeper, Louisiana’s Robert Hunt, whom Lance Zierlein comped to Cody Ford

AFC West

Denver Broncos

5 needs

Picks

Selections

WR

1.15

WR Laviska Shenault

OT

2.46

CB Noah Igbinoghene

CB

3.77

iDL Jordan Elliott

iDL

3.83

OT Prince Tega Wanogho

LB

3.95

S Antoine Winfield Jr.

 

4.116

EDGE Jason Strowbridge

 

4.135

LB Jacob Phillips

 

Denver desperately needs a legitimate third aerial banana next to WR Courtland Sutton and TE Noah Fant. These are big, sleek weapons the Broncos are collecting. So let’s get them another. A local product they’re very familiar with.

Laviska Shenault, who tore it up in nearby Boulder the past few years, fits the mold as a big, athletic, multi-purpose outside weapon. The Broncos like to fold in a little trickeration, and Viska, who lined up almost literally everywhere at CU, will inflame the imagination as well as grind out the tough yards.

Lucky to be holding 1.15 with a receiver need in a year historically stocked with WR talent, the Broncos are also fortunate to have seven picks in the first rounds. The target of these picks is largely going to hinge on which free agent starters the Broncos decide to let walk.

The specter of CB Chris Harris’ free agency is enough to mock Denver corner help in Round 2. But we’ll give the Broncos a boom-or-bust developmental prospect in Igbinoghene in case Harris stays. Igbinoghene couldn’t hope to find a better tutor. 

 

Los Angeles Chargers

5 needs

Picks

Selections

QB

1.6

QB Justin Herbert

OT

2.37

iOL Cesar Ruiz

CB

3.71

CB Jeff Gladney

WR

4.110

OT Colton McKivitz

iOL

 

 

 

The releasing of Phillip Rivers essentially locked the Chargers into taking a quarterback early in Round 1. If they stay in this slot, it’s likely to be Justin Herbert

Herbert would change the offense in a few fundamental ways. The Bolts would lose a lot of Rivers’ intermediate game efficiency, but add a level of quarterback mobility and downfield bombs-away artillery that the offense hasn’t had under Rivers.

Once they lock up their quarterback, the Chargers will be looking to fix the offensive line and add a corner. Caesar Ruiz would be a coup at the top of Round 2. It’s no sure thing that he gets there -- Ruiz is a prospect who is already generating a ton of steam early in the process. He might end up emphatically crashing the Round 1 party ala Frank Ragnow

TCU CB Jeff Gladney would be a nice fit in Round 3 as a sort of bargain-shopping proposition. Gladney might fall a bit because he struggled in 2019. But he’s a highly-athletic ballhawk who you can send on blitzes from the perimeter.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

5 needs

Picks

Selections

RB

1.32

CB Jaylon Johnson

CB

2.63

RB Cam Akers

iOL

3.96

LB Logan Wilson

LB

4.136

WR Lynn Bowden

WR

 

 

 

What do you buy for the team with everything?

How about some defensive help and a few more skill guys? You know, just to fortify the weak unit, and make the offense all the scarier? The 1.32 slot would make a lot of sense earmarked for corner, where we sit today. 

Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller are both coming off poor seasons. Finding a corner who could play immediately would be ideal. Utah CB Jaylon Johnson, who has been a pest to Pac-12 receivers for years, qualifies.

The Chiefs ranked No. 29 against the run in DVOA last year and could use a linebacker as well. In the fourth round, where a few intriguing linebackers should be available, Kansas City grabs overlooked Wyoming LB Logan Wilson, a rangy prospect who can both cover and vacuum up tackles.

Fantasy players would salivate at their Round 2 pick, FSU RB Cam Akers. Akers’ college career didn’t quite go as expected. Following a huge freshman year, Willie Taggart arrived in Tallahassee and FSU’s offensive line promptly imploded, turning Akers into a dancer. If he can be taught he doesn’t have to do that anymore, he could turn into an NFL star -- the skill is there, as both a runner and receiver.

 

Las Vegas Raiders

5 needs

Picks

Selections

CB

1.12

WR CeeDee Lamb

WR

1.19

CB Kristian Fulton

LB

3.80

LB Jordyn Brooks

iOL

3.81

iOL Damien Lewis

S

3.91

iDL Raekwon Davis

 

4.119

S K’Von Wallace

 

Like the Jaguars, the Raiders have multiple first-round picks and primary needs at receiver and corner. It’s a good year for that.

Coming out of Thursday with WR CeeDee Lamb and CB Kristian Fulton is a first stanza bonanza. Lamb would reset the receiving depth chart into its natural order with Tyrell Williams at WR2 and Hunter Renfrow doing his thing in the slot for years to come.

Meanwhile, Fulton is just what the doctor order for Las Vegas. Per PFF, the Raiders gave up the most expected points per pass play last year, and per DVOA, Vegas ranked No. 29 and 31, respectively, against WR1 and WR2s. Fulton is a man coverage maven.

With their other picks, the Raiders add a linebacker who could start early in Texas Tech tackle machine LB Jordyn Brooks, as well as big-time beef for both sides of the line from the LSU-Alabama rivalry in iOL Damien Lewis and iDL Raekwon Davis. Davis may appeal to Mike Mayock in the way that post-hype sleepers appeal to you in August fantasy drafts.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

5 needs

Picks

Selections

S

1.17

S Grant Delpit

CB

2.51

iDL Marlon Davidson

iDL

3.82

TE Jared Pinkney

WR

4.121

WR Antonio Gandy-Golden

TE

 

 

 

Assuming the Cowboys are able to retain Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, the team’s most glaring need is obviously at safety. There’s a pretty decent chance that the Boys will have their choice of Grant Delpit or Xavier McKinney at 1.16. 

Of course, if CB Byron Jones gets away, the 16th pick might be going that direction. Our exercise assumes the Cowboys have threaded the needle on that account, allowing Dallas to move on to secondary needs in Day 2. 

WRs Randall Cobb and Tavon Austin are both free agents as well, which motivates Dallas to take a receiver in the middle rounds even if they re-sign Cooper. Antonio Gandy-Golden fits the bill of a developmental prospect who can go up and get it. 

In Round 3, Dallas grabbed a long-term Jason Witten replacement plan in Vanderbilt TE Jared Pinkney, a paradox of a prospect. Pinkney was seen as a Round 2 prospect -- and potentially even a Round 1 prospect -- as recently as last summer. But Vandy’s offense tanked in the fall, and Pinkney’s production suffered as a result. This would be a little bargain shopping on a player who has shown true inline potential in the past.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

5 needs

Picks

Selections

WR

1.21

CB Trevon Diggs

CB

2.53

WR Brandon Aiyuk

EDGE

3.85

RB Zack Moss

iDL

3.97(c)

EDGE Khalid Kareem

RB

4.125

iDL Nick Coe

 

4.140(c)

LB Willie Gay Jr

 

4.146(c)

S J.R. Reed

 

The Eagles are awash in selections thanks to a bundle of comp picks. 

Having a war chest of draft capital alone will allow them to do some interesting things, both in terms of opening up trade possibilities, and also in terms of taking more chances on upside guys. And potentially at positions considered lower-leverage a bit earlier than other franchises, with fewer picks, might be comfortable swinging for. 

Because of the constitution of the draft, it would make sense in the team’s slots to address the organization’s two biggest needs -- receiver and corner -- in some order with their first pair of selections. Receiver and corner are two position groups with a ton of artillery in the first two rounds.

Having loaded up on Alabama CB Trevon Diggs and Arizona State Brandon Aiyuk, both very interesting physical specimens with ludicrously long arms, Philly is freed up to pop the class’ most underrated runner in Utah's Zack Moss in Round 3. It’s not the biggest need… but heck, they’ve got the picks to accept the gift of Moss’ inevitable slide down the board. After that, Philly can shoot a bunch of bullets at defensive depth and hope it hits on a few long-term starters. The Eagles are sitting pretty.

 

New York Giants

5 needs

Picks

Selections

EDGE

1.4

OT Tristan Wirfs

OT

2.36

EDGE Terrell Lewis

CB

3.101(c)

iOL Netane Muti

iOL

4.108

CB Darnay Holmes

LB

 

 

 

Giants OTs Nate Solder and Mike Remmers allowed more pressures than any offensive tackle combination in the league last year. The offensive line as a whole was bottom-10 in run blocking. Remmers is a free agent. 

It’s time to fix the line. Dave Gettleman is likely to be first in line to take a tackle. Which will he choose? Tristan Wirfs is going to draw his eye as an athletic freak with superhuman strength who can play anywhere on the line. Wirfs should blow the doors off the NFL Combine.

Even if they take a tackle at 1.4 as expected, the Giants probably won’t be done addressing that porous unit, so we had them taking Fresno manchild iOL Netane Muti in Round 3. 

Outside of the offensive line, there are numerous defensive issues to address. No team in the NFL has less cap money tied up in the defense than the Giants currently do. The pass rush and coverage units in particular need help, so in comes Alabama EDGE Terrell Lewis at the top of Round 2 and uber-confident UCLA slot CB Darnay Holmes in Round 4.

 

Washington Redskins

5 needs

Picks

Selections

OT

1.2

EDGE Chase Young

WR

3.66

OT Matt Peart

CB

4.106

WR Donovan Peoples-Jones

EDGE

4.141(c)

TE Colby Parkinson

TE

 

 

 

Washington’s class hinges on whether they’ll stay put to draft Chase Young, or trade out of the slot to a team like the Dolphins desperate to take Tua. Trading down would help Washington recoup the Round 2 pick they traded in the Montez Sweat deal (and to a far lesser extent, the Round 6 pick they lost in the Case Keenum deal… and they could expect to get a decent bit more than that).

That’s a problem for another day, however. As long as they’re sitting at 1.2, Young is the pick. And the correct pick. Obviously.

Washington really needs an offensive tackle with Donald Penn an aging free agent and Morgan Moses slipping into the abyss, and they also need receiving weapons for poor Dwayne Haskins. UConn OT Matt Peart was superb on a horrid Huskies team last fall. He’d provide strong value at the top of Round 3 as the OT crop starts to dry up. 

With their two fourth-rounders, the Redskins add a pair of weapons who they hope will surprise like Scary Terry McLaurin. McLaurin’s college rival, Michigan’s Donovan Peoples-Jones, is a former five-star recruit who has sleeper appeal in that he’s a stud athlete who played with accuracy-averse QB Shea Patterson in college. Stanford TE Colby Parkinson himself had a wonky 2019, as starting Cardinal QB KJ Costello got hurt and the whole operation went into the tank. Parkinson may be flying under the radar a bit.

 

NFC North

Chicago Bears

5 needs

Picks

Selections

TE

2.43

QB Jacob Eason

QB

2.50

TE Adam Trautman

iOL

4.144(c)

iOL Jonah Jackson

OT

 

 

EDGE

 

 

 

The Bears, out another first-round pick because of the Khalil Mack trade, are in a tough spot. They are weakest at the position you absolutely cannot afford to be weak at. And it’s coming time to make a decision on Mitch Trubisky.

Since Chicago likely won’t acquire a marquee quarterback in free agency or a trade, picking one in Round 2 seems like a nice compromise on many fronts. First, the price is right. Eason is a boom-or-bust prospect. If he booms, he’s worth multiple first-rounders and you just struck gold. If he busts, you merely torched the 43rd pick in the 2020 draft. Not the end of the world. 

He’s also not ready to play right now. So you put just the right amount of heat under Trubisky’s backside without setting him aflame. Now, we’ve got two bullets in our holster for 2020 success. Either Trubisky turns it around and we discovered the guy we can move forward with, or we pull the plug and move on to Eason in October. If Eason falls on his face and we crater out, fine, we just might have just solved the quarterback issue once and for all by tanking into a position to take Trevor Lawrence.

Now that we’ve got sorted that out, the Bears turn around at 2.50 and pop the inline tight end the offense has been searching for in Dayton’s Adam Trautman, a Senior Bowl riser. If the Bears approached the draft in this way, they’d likely spend their Day 3 capital on infrastructure, patching up their line depth.

 

Detroit Lions

5 needs

Picks

Selections

CB

1.3

DW Isaiah Simmons

EDGE

2.35

CB Cameron Dantzler

LB

3.67

EDGE Josh Uche

iOL

4.107

WR Devin Duvernay

WR

 

 

 

Many have mocked the Lions Jeffrey Okudah at 1.3. I believe that’s a bit high for a cover corner, and I also believe, if the Lions ultimately stay in the slot, that they could do a better job addressing their myriad defensive needs by picking a player who can do many different things on a play-in, play-out basis.

Clemson DW Isaiah Simmons is listed as a linebacker, but he’s actually a LB/S/slot hybrid who you can blitz off the edge when you absolutely need to get pressure on the quarterback. He’s a trump card, a queen on the chessboard… a defensive weapon. 

For a team like the Lions, which finished No. 28 in defensive DVOA in 2019 despite employing CB Darius Slay, I feel Simmons addresses more core issues than Okudah (and, if I may, I believe he's a slightly better prospect).

None of which is to say that Detroit doesn’t need a corner. They absolutely do. The beauty of this corner class is that it’s stocked with guys in that 20-45 sweet spot, right where the Lions will be picking at 2.35. CB Cam Dantzler, a long, explosive athlete, would be an awesome fit.

 

Green Bay Packers

5 needs

Picks

Selections

WR

1.30

LB Kenneth Murray

OT

2.62

WR Michael Pittman

LB

3.94

OT Isaiah Wilson

iOL

4.134

TE Thaddeus Moss

iDL

 

 

 

It’s time to find Aaron Rodgers a new playmate outside of WR Davante Adams. But this is where the draft process gets interesting. Green Bay is lucky to have a receiver need in a stocked receiver class… but I’m hesitant to just carve WR into the 1.30 slot.

The reason is because of the class’ depth. Green Bay may allow LB Blake Martinez, coming off a down year, to walk in free agency. The linebacking class isn’t as strong, but Green Bay should have access to a top prospect at the position in the first round. If they don’t take that opportunity, they’ll be picking through leftovers later, because the position dries up quickly.

Take the example of the class accrued above. The Packers audible off receiver and take Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray to replace Martinez. At the end of Round 2, they take USC WR Michael Pittman, a vacuum-handed receiver who will catch anything Rodgers’ throws within a three-country vicinity of his person. 

Would you rather have, say, Justin Jefferson and Troy Dye, or Kenneth Murray and Michael Pittman? This is the reason mock drafts exist, these thought experiments. 

 

Minnesota Vikings

5 needs

Picks

Selections

CB

1.25

CB C.J. Henderson

iOL

2.58

iDL Neville Gallimore

OT

3.89

OT Ben Bartch

iDL

4.129

WR Collin Johnson

WR

4.138(c)

S Brandon Jones

 

The Vikings’ secondary is in flux right now with Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander and Anthony Harris all set to hit free agency and Xavier Rhodes’ potentially on the verge of an impending release. Waynes and Rhodes got roasted at times last year. Rhodes’ deal almost needs to be cleared to get the Purple out of cap purgatory.

If CJ Henderson falls to 1.25, you can hurry the card up to the… fountain (or wherever they’ll be submitting the cards in Las Vegas this year). Henderson was a destructive corner in 2018 before injuries took a bite out of his field time and effectiveness last fall. The pick has some risk, but the upside more than jives the implied odds in this slot.

The Vikings’ interior offensive and defensive lines were both shoddy last year, and those spots would be next up on the wish list. Oklahoma iDL Neville Gallimore would start from Day 1 at three-tech, replacing the nondescript Shemar Stephen. The Vikings would also save $10.6 million by cutting nose tackle Linval Joseph and replacing him with a cheap free agent or backup Jaleel Johnson… a no-brainer. 

With the final pick on Day 2, the Vikings import local product OT Ben Bartch. Minnesota has to make a decision on LT Riley Reiff. If they cut him, they’ll move RT Brian O’Neill to the blind side, and that would open up the right, not that Bartch is ready (to be fair, I thought that about O’Neill, and he was stunningly good as a rookie). Another option is fortifying the interior by moving BO’N to LT and shifting Reiff to guard.

 

NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 needs

Picks

Selections

OT

1.14

OT Mekhi Becton

CB

2.45

CB A.J. Terrell

S

3.76

S Ashtyn Davis

iOL

4.115

RB Eno Benjamin

RB

4.139(c)

QB Anthony Gordon

 

Some sort of decision is forthcoming on Jameis Winston. Whatever it is, it’s hard to envision it impacting the team’s first-round plans. Tampa has too many holes to go all-in with a trade into the top-five, and it would seem silly (to me, anyway) to draft mistake-happy Jordan Love under the banner of the idea of moving on from mistake-happy Jameis Winston.

So we mock under the impression that Jameis or Phil Rivers is helming the pirate ship. In that case, they could use some protection, perhaps an excuse to get aging warrior Demar Dotson to walk the plank. So we found the Bucs a young 6’7/370 enforcer in Louisville OT Mekhi Becton

The stinky defense has multiple needs, including figuring out to how avoid getting lit up by opposing tight ends each week. Cal S Ashtyn Davis is an athletic dynamo in the backend who can clean up brush fires in coverage. CB AJ Terrell is a long press corner who’ll help mitigate the usage of underachieving M.J. Stewart.

The fourth-round picks of RB Eno Benjamin and QB Anthony Gordon intrigue in Bruce Arians’ system. Benjamin is undersized, but he’s a whirling dervish of a volume back. And Gordon is a very tantalizing developmental arm who reads the full field and makes a few throws a game that drop your jaw. Whether Winston gets one more year, or whether Arians gives Rivers the keys for a season, he’s going to want to pop a developmental signal-caller in the mid-rounds. Gordon would be ideal.

 

Atlanta Falcons

5 needs

Picks

Selections

EDGE

1.16

EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson

CB

2.47

TE Cole Kmet

iDL

2.55

RB J.K. Dobbins

S

3.78

S Terrell Burgess

TE

4.117

CB Troy Pride Jr.

 

The Falcons already announced that they won’t be retaining EDGE Vic Beasley. His bookend, Adrian Clayborn, is also a free agent. This position should probably be addressed in the first round if it hasn’t been prior to that. 

LSU EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson is a really nice fit. A physical freak with unrealized potential, Chaisson really came on down the stretch of LSU’s title run, recording 4.5 sacks over the last four games against A&M, Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson, making a statement to the NFL in the process.

In addition to fortifying the pass-rush, the Falcons also need to address the guys covering the receivers. Because they got lit up last fall. In our exercise, they had to wait to address that need until Rds. 3-4. Burgess doesn’t have the highest upside, but he’d appeal to a team like Atlanta because of his versatility.

The reason Atlanta held off on the secondary in this thought experiment is because opportunity struck with the pair of second rounders when Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet and Ohio State RB JK Dobbins were unexpectedly available. Perhaps TE Austin Hooper will have walked in free agency, allowing Atlanta to re-allocate that money to a free agent signing in the secondary. Meanwhile, popping a guy like Dobbins on Day 2 would allow the Birds to pull the plug on Devonta Freeman and his bloated contract.

 

Carolina Panthers

5 needs

Picks

Selections

iDL

1.7

OT Jedrick Wills

iOL

2.38

QB Jake Fromm

OT

3.69

iDL James Lynch

S

4.111

CB AJ Green

CB

 

 

 

What the Panthers do with Cam Newton will go a long way toward shaping how their draft ultimately looks. Obviously. I don’t have a crystal ball on that front.

What I did was split the middle a bit by sliding Georgia QB Jake Fromm to Carolina at 2.38. I was never the biggest Fromm fan, mostly because he lacks traits. But he makes smart decisions. And that’s all OC Joe Brady asks of his quarterbacks; the scheme will do the rest if you’ve done your prep work. I think Fromm is a far better system fit for Brady than, say, Jacob Eason, for whatever that’s worth.

In Round 1, sticking with the Brady theme, the Panthers chose to fortify their offensive line. Brady’s LSU squad won the Joe Moore Award for the nation’s best OL last fall. The smoother the protection, the more high-octane his RPO machinations get. You disrupt the thing by crashing the pocket party, so we can’t let that happen.

We eschewed the DT need until Round 3 -- and that was risky! But boy did the war room let out a sigh of relief when Baylor iDL James Lynch fell to 3.69. A protege of new HC Matt Rhule, Lynch became a wardaddy in 2019. What a slam dunk pick that would be.

 

New Orleans Saints

5 needs

Picks

Selections

WR

1.24

QB Jordan Love

CB

3.88

WR Denzel Mims

QB

4.127

iOL Nick Harris

S

 

 

iOL

 

 

 

The big question with the Saints draft is the big question with the Saints organization. Will Drew Brees return/will they draft a QB in Round 1? 

I don’t have the answer to these quandaries. But since they’re open-ended in mid-February, it appeared sage to mock New Orleans Utah State QB Jordan Love at 1.24. That’s a little rich for my blood, but the tools are first-round worthy, and this is a heckuva landing spot for a prospect of his ilk if it ends up happening.

The Saints’ primary need, in a reality where Brees returns, is receiver. They’ll need to wait until the third to address it if they pop a signal-caller in Round 1, as they dealt their Round 2 pick to the Dolphins in a draft-day deal last April. Baylor WR Denzel Mims would be a coup in that scenario.

New Orleans gets another one a round later, where boxy-but-athletic Washington iOL Nick Harris fills a need at a reasonable price. Harris doesn’t look like much, but dang if he doesn’t get the job done over and over again.

 

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

5 needs

Picks

Selections

iDL

1.8

iDL Derrick Brown

OT

2.40

OT Lucas Niang

EDGE

3.72

EDGE Anfernee Jennings

CB

4.112

CB Michael Ojemudia

S

 

 

 

A popular mock draft destination for offensive tackles (or wide receivers) in Round 1, I believe strongly that Arizona needs to attack the other side of the ball early on. Some of the offensive line’s 2019 pass-blocking issues were overblown, with Kyler Murray scrambling or sightseeing his way into unnecessary sacks. 

What wasn’t overblown was the defense’s ineptitude on all three levels. This has been a theme of Kliff Kingsbury teams since the start of his tenure at Texas Tech. If his Arizona defense doesn’t become league average in the next few years, it doesn’t matter what he does on offense. And they’ve got a ways to go. Last year, the Cards posted the league’s worst defense in efficiency, passer rating allowed, and completion percentage allowed. That’s what they’re trying to do to opponents -- not so fun to get lit up like that every Sunday.

There isn’t a corner or safety to fix that problem at 1.8, nor an edge rusher. But interior penetration is the sort of thing that can muck up an opponent’s plans in both the run and passing games, and that’s where Auburn iDL Derrick Brown comes in. He’s a blue-chip defensive talent you build around on that side of the ball. 

On Day 2 of our exercise, Kliff addressed his offensive line with a pass-pro specialist he’s very familiar with, an old Big 12 rival, TCU OT Lucas Niang. From there, in Rounds 3-4, we’re firing a couple bullets at that abominable pass defense. Jennings can’t cover, but that’s okay, because he can blitz, and you can’t do both at the same time. Arizona will need to add more than a developmental guy like Ojemudia to fix the secondary; earmarking free agency dollars would be sage.

 

Los Angeles Rams

5 needs

Picks

Selections

OT

2.52

iOL Tyler Biadasz

iOL

3.84

LB Troy Dye

EDGE

4.124

EDGE Alton Robinson

LB

4.137(c)

CB Stanford Samuels

CB

 

 

 

Oofta, the Rams are in a tough spot heading into the 2020 NFL Draft. Long pockets, short arms. 

They won’t be making their first pick until 2.52 thanks to the Jalen Ramsey trade, but this team has dire needs on both the offensive line and in the front-seven, without the cap space (or, obviously, draft equity) to patch the holes in a legitimate way before then.

PFF ranked the Rams’ offensive line No. 31 last year, and now the 39-year-old Andrew Whitworth is a free agent. By the 52nd pick, the class’ sure-things at tackle are going to be gone. It might make more sense to use that pick on one of the crop’s sure things on the interior, where you can get an immediate starter. Wisconsin iOL Tyler Biadasz may not have a high ceiling, but he fits the bill; he should start for a long time.

With the remainder of their picks, the Rams got defensive, taking rangy Oregon LB Troy Dye, Syracuse EDGE Alton Robinson and FSU CB Stanford Samuels. The Rams’ starting corner unit is fine, making Samuels a nice depth add, while Dye and Robinson may be asked to play earlier.

 

Seattle Seahawks

5 needs

Picks

Selections

EDGE

1.27

EDGE Curtis Weaver

iOL

2.59

WR KJ Hamler

WR

2.64

iOL Logan Stenberg

OT

3.103(c)

OT Trey Adams

CB

4.131

S Antoine Brooks

 

4.143(c)

CB Harrison Hand

 

Yes, the Seahawks need offensive line help (yet again). But as we sit now, they need more help on the defensive front, as DEs Jadeveon Clowney and Ezekiel Ansah and DT Jarran Reed, along with three of their backups, are free agents.

Even if they weren’t, the Seahawks would probably have been looking to make changes. Per PFF, Seattle finished No. 31 in pressure off the edge last fall. The Seahawks finished No. 25 in havoc.

Boise State EDGE Curtis Weaver draws a lot of different opinions in the scouting community. I’m a big fan. I know this about the kid: He was born to make life hell on quarterbacks. If the Seahawks want a microwave off the edge who can put instant heat on a quarterback without having to blitz, they ought to consider Weaver.

I didn’t love the offensive line options for Seattle at the end of Round 2 as much as I liked the opportunity to add Penn State WR KJ Hamler, a lightning bolt of a slot receiver/kick returner. With the next two picks, we hammered at the line. Hopefully, the Seahawks will take a few swings at that unit in free agency before April.

 

San Francisco 49ers

5 needs

Picks

Selections

S

1.31

S Xavier McKinney

CB

 

 

iOL

 

 

WR

 

 

RB

 

 

 

It was a heckuva fun run to the Super Bowl for San Fran. 

Their Draft is going to be boring.

The 49ers dealt their second-rounder to Kansas City for edge rusher Dee Ford, and their third- and fourth-round picks to Denver to acquire WR Emmanuel Sanders. That means that the 49ers only have one pick in the first four rounds, 1.31.

Fortunately, the team’s needs aren’t terribly pressing. As we sit now, the ideology could be “best available in the secondary.” Or, more accurately, “trade down 10 slots to recoup some picks, then best available in the secondary.” But if Alabama S Xavier McKinney drops to 1.31, the latter strategy would be a bit more painful.

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