After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…
Today we take a look at the LA Chargers. Don’t forget to check out our AFC West podcast where we talked with a fan from every team in the division!
How Did Last Season Go?
If you offered the Chargers a divisional round game loss to the Patriots, they’d probably accept that this is kind of where they should be. That said, I (Tim) was particularly high on them going in to the season that I had some of my hard earned on them. The Chargers were one of the more balanced and complete teams in the AFC if not the NFL last season and just succumbed to a typical Patriots January performance in a game that just got away from them early.
Hunter Henry going down before the season started was never going to be ideal and continued their flirting with Antonio Gates. Hopefully, that will not be repeated in 2019 (sorry Antonio, we love you, but you’re like 50 years old and slower than Jason Witten was taking to commentary).
The Chargers’s loss to KC in week 1 turned out to be pivotal in the end, but actually uncharacteristically started quite hot going 7-2 in the first 9 weeks with their only losses coming in Los Angeles (@Rams).
The Chargers ended up 12-4, tied with KC but lost the tiebreaker which may or may not have been crucial. We’ll never know.
They ended having both a top 12 offence and defence in terms of yardage and points allowed which confirms their status as one of the more well rounded teams.
In terms of personnel, on offence Mike Williams finally repaid the Chargers with being healthy and producing on the field after being a 1st round pick. Williams was able to chip in with 11 touchdowns (1 rushing) on 43 targets, a ratio that is probably unsustainable to repeat in 2019. Keenan Allen pretty much had a replica season from 2017; over 1000 yards on around 100 receptions and 6 TDs. More importantly, his previous injury issues seem to be well and truly behind him. Finally Tyrell Williams had a nice complimentary role in the offence, but seemingly not enough to warrant a bigger contract and will not be returning.
In the backfield, Melvin Gordon was the teams top TD scorer (no surprises there) but did miss 4 games due to injury. Austin Ekeler had himself a nice season, stepping in when required but also forcing his way to earn more snaps in this offence.
Overall, I think the Chargers 2018 can be seen as a success but 2019 will be the year where they will be expected to make an even deeper push in January and play a February game.
Quick word on the defence – Derwin James had a fantastic rookie season and was in the conversation for DRO. 3.5 sacks, 75 solo tackles and 3 interceptions confirming his status as one of the steals of the 2018 1st round. Joey Bosa came back for the 2nd half of the season and picked up where he left off. One of the top defences in the league and have age on their side so look for this to continue in 2019.
LA Chargers own the 28th pick in the first round along with pick 60 (2nd round), 91 (3rd), 130 (4th), 166 (5th), 200 (6th) and 242 (7th)
Chargers have about $10m in cap space at this moment.
Tyrell Williams was expendable for the money that was available on the open market. Right place right time for him. Jason Verrett’s injury history came back to bite him and was let go. Defensive Tackles Philon and Liuget along with safety Addae were the other names looking for a new home.
Not many glaring needs for the Chargers but Tyrod Taylor is the new backup to Rivers and Thomas Davis was a surprising addition to the defence though he will bring masses of linebacker experience.
Outlook for Next Year
Going to be looking at going 1 or 2 better than 2018 with this squad and anything less could perhaps see Anthony Lynn under fire.
It will be a case of hoping one or 2 things fall their way luck wise to be able to get there. Both sides of the ball are young enough but experienced and talented enough to say that this team should be contending for the next few years and anything less is a failure.
I think the Chargers have to be considered as one of the top 3 teams in the AFC and I fancy them to make the AFC Championship game this year. Whether they win or not is not for me to say as I have a soft spot for them so will be slightly biased. They have the talent, they have the pieces on both sides of the ball, it’s just about going out there and doing it.
I had my money on them last year, they will again in 2019.
Rivers – perennially underdrafted – double digit rounds – QB 1
Melvin Gordon – mid 1st round pick – RB1
Austin Ekeler – double digits rounds -RB3/4 – PPR sleeper
Keenan Allen – late 2nd/3rd round pick – low WR1/high WR2
Mike Williams – 6th round area – WR2 ceiling
Hunter Henry – 5th/6th Round – TE1
We all have our opinions as to which teams or players got or bad deals. Maybe you loved Mark Ingram to the Ravens, Dee Ford to the 49ers or maybe even Geoff Swaim to the Jags (you sick people!).
But lets go one step further than that, which DIVISION won in Free Agency? For me, one clear winner…
This in my mind is the unquestionable winner from the Free Agency frenzy;
Cast your minds back 12 months, Bills fans were celebrating the arrivals of Jeremy Kerley and AJ McCarron (*pukes*) and Miami fans were shuddering at Brock Osweiler being their long term solution (I kid, of course). Added on to that, current free agent Isiah Crowell was being signed by the Jets on a 3 year, $12m deal (get well soon Isiah).
At time of this article, I don’t think that there is any doubt that the AFC are now finally in position where the playing field is shaping towards being a tiny bit more even.
Yes, the Patriots are probably going to still win the AFC East, maybe perhaps for the last time as the chasing pack have applied their Fast and Furious NOS systems and pressed the launch button.
Starting off in New York, the acquisitions of LeVeon Bell, Jamison Crowder on offence and CJ Mosley on defence make them the main protagonists to the Patriots in 2019. The kicker here is the 3rd pick in the 2019 draft too. If they manage to trade down and pick up another few picks inside the first few rounds, this team could make a real push at a division title.
Before we all go rushing to the bookmakers and shoving some hard earned on the currently 100/1 available on them to win the Super Bowl (50s for the AFC is tempting though!), there are scenarios where this goes horribly wrong.
Firstly, LeVeon Bell may be rusty. He’s just taken a year out to release a dodgy rap album and become a pro at riding jet skis. There isn’t one person in the world in any sport that can be off the field and still stay in match fitness, not even Cristiano Ronaldo. You’ll get all the cliche “best shape of his life” quotes from coaches in the offseason about Bell, just take it with a pinch of salt.
Secondly, we have Adam Gase running the ship. I’m not his greatest fan despite his love for flying Tacos and the jury is still out on him in my opinion as to whether he is a good coach or even a good offensive mind in the NFL. Apart from his time with Peyton Manning (where he was OC), what has he accomplished? Probably about as much as Theresa May has with Brexit negotiations. Miami are in a mess after his few years there, and Chicago were hardly perennial playoff visitors. As a head coach, I am yet to see why Gase is held in high regards. Always reports of rifts with players, especially in Miami, what’s to say that he doesn’t get on with Sam Darnold or LeVeon Bell or anyone in New York for that matter?
Talking of Darnold, there is also a case to be made that he may not progress in his second year in the NFL. I am a big fan and he showed flashes last year of what he can do. His love for interceptions may be hard to shake off but now with more pieces around him, a stellar guy in the backfield as a security blanket along with Crowder, you may see Darnold flourish. But there is a slightly bigger than small chance that he maybe not quite there yet. Offences can struggle when new HC come in and implement something new, just ask Matt Ryan and Marcus Mariota.
I still see the Jets as the main contenders and a dark horse in the AFC to play a game in January this year (you heard it here first!), but just don’t buy first class tickets on the hype train just yet…it’s expensive in New York after all.
Moving on to a team which i think are in the top 3 of teams that won in Free Agency, the Buffalo Bills.
The exodus on the offensive line is starting to be repaired, with Mitch Morse coming over from Kansas City who is a former 2nd round pick in the 2015 draft and Ty Nsekhe, a solid tackle from Washington.
Buffalo were awful at running the ball last season (taking away Josh Allen’s scrambles) with only Marcus Murphy averaging over 4 yards per carry (on 52 attempts). So the additions in FA, plus whatever they pick up in the Draft, should see Josh Allen have more time to throw deep bombs to newly acquired John “Smokey” Brown.
Many people will forget how electric John Brown was in Baltimore last season when Joe “Statue” Flacco was quarterbacking for them in the early weeks of the season. Prior to the week 10 bye, Brown had 601 yards on 34 receptions. Compare that to Lamar Jackson time, Brown had 114 yards on 8 receptions. John Brown showed us last season that he can play a full season after seemingly overcoming his sickle cell trait that he had over in Arizona. I think Brown and Allen are a match made in heaven and could help fire this Buffalo offence into scoring points where they were 3rd worst in the league last season (I’ll also happily take John Brown at a discount in draft come August).
Cole Beasley and Tyler Kroft are good supporting cast members too and will slot in nicely to provide a veteran presence alongside Buffalo’s younger pieces of Zay Jones (23), Isiah McKenzie (23) and Robert Foster (24). You would expect at least one of those to step forward to complete this wide receiving core. Whilst collectively they are as old as Countdown viewers average age in the backfield (especially with the addition of Gore), I would expect this to be addressed in the draft this year, if not next.
We move on to Miami finally, and this one could take a little bit longer to boil.
They’ve just said their goodbyes to Ryan Tannehill and shoved him in a suitcase and up Route 75 to Tennessee, leaving 2 schmucks at Quarterback (interesting stat, Rams Punter Johnny Hecker has thrown an NFL ball more times than Luke Faulk and Jake Ruddock. I smell a trade rumour! Just kidding).
The outlook though is not so bleak;
They have a projected $120m in rolled over cap for the 2020 season (pending any subsequent trade moves, which, by the way, I am predicting Colin Kaepernick starts week 1!) and at this moment at LEAST 10 picks in the 2020 draft. The one that apparently has millions of HOF Quarterbacks as we keep hearing over and over (do over with it, already). Chris Grier is putting the work in to fully rebuild this franchise which needs to take a step back before it can take a step forward. Whilst this season may not be pretty for new HC Brian Flores and the Dolphins, the future certainly is looking bright and finally, there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the fans in the South East of America. Kenyan Drake may finally be seen in a positive light (still only 25) and Kalen Ballage/Mike Gesicki are also entering their 2nd seasons. Pair that with 26yr olds Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker (OK, maybe clutching here a bit), it wont actually take much to make this offence watchable when the new QB is installed.
Add all of this together, and all of a sudden, Buffalo and New York don’t seem too far away from a Patriots team that is going to come back to the pack at some point. Miami should be casually late to the party, like the cool kids at school except the part about being cool. Miami are not cool.
Last, but by no means least the Patriots. Whilst they may not have done anything in Free Agency of note, especially with regards to the “IN” door, they are the masters at staying on top and the intrigue of how the other 3 teams have approached this Free Agency automatically means that the Patriots are a winner in Free Agency. Letting go of Trent Brown, Trey Flowers, et al. means they get compensatory picks in next year’s Draft. We all know at how good New England are with getting the most out of their picks and turning them in to seemingly big stars when it’s the system. Whilst they will return to the pack when Brady/Gronk etc retire, they will always be the ones setting the bar in the division and as each year passes, the fascination increases as to whether the moves made by the other teams finally give them the chance to leapfrog New England. The same applies to this year.
These are the reasons I put to you that the AFC East division is the winner of the 2019 Free agency.
When the Patriots do come back to the field a little bit and we say that every year (and we saw signs last regular season that the time is nigh), there is more than just one team ready to pounce and one could argue that the next few years, the AFC East could be the most intriguing and that the division as a whole at the very least is now competitive where over the last few years, it’s been the laughing stock of the NFL (even with the Patriots winning it all multiple times over that time period).
Let me know your thoughts and whether or not there is another division that won the Free Agency. Maybe you think the AFC North with the Cleveland stuff? Or perhaps the NFC north with Green Bay strengthen that defence? Would love to hear your thoughts so get in touch with us on THE TWITTER @full10yards or @Tim_Monk85.
We’ll be covering Free agency on our podcast on the 26th March. Don’t miss it!
In the great words of late great Mr Buffalo Bill himself Kevin Cadle, Bye Bye for now… Bye Bye.
So draft season is finally over, the rookies have had their mini camps and will now be joined by their veteran colleagues to battle for starting positions and roster spots. There were 5 Quarterbacks selected in the first round of the draft this year, which means there are 5 QB’s around the league who are looking around and seeing someone who is there to take their job. What I’m going to do is take you through how long I think it’ll take for each of the 5 rookies to see the field.
I’m approaching this without taking past or potential injuries into account. I’m not a doctor, nor can I predict the future.
Tyrod Taylor has already been named as starter for the 2018 season by Hue Jackson and he’s even gone so far to say that the plan is for Baker to sit the whole season. I think this is a smart plan, however I’m not too sure how clever it was to announce it to the world. He’s put pressure on himself and his coaching staff by backing Taylor to deliver, which owners sure fire thing.
Cleveland have been desperate to find a franchise Quarterback and have been for many years. Because of this they’ve have broken young QB’s in the past by throwing them in when they’re simply not ready to play. John Dorsey went out and signed Tyrod Taylor to guard against this happening again, despite wanting to draft a possible franchise saviour soon after.
Taylor is a perfectly capable starter in this league, he’s experienced, everyone knows his strengths and weaknesses; he’s not going to turn the ball over and can extend plays and drives with his legs but he isn’t going to make a tonne of big throws or win a game on his own.
Taylor has been equipped with more than adequate weaponry this off season and on paper, the Browns’ offense looks like it could cause some problems for other teams. If the offense ticks over, puts points on the board and Cleveland win a few games, the pressure will be off and it’ll just be up to Baker to soak up knowledge and be a good teammate.
Mayfield will play in the pre season and playing against backups, he’ll probably look pretty good and get a lot of people excited. This will put pressure back on Jackson and on Taylor. If Taylor doesn’t perform, fans will be calling for the number 1 overall pick and Jackson will be on the hot seat. Mayfield being the competitor he is, he’ll be planning on getting on the field as soon as possible but this all comes down to coaching and pressure. How will his pan out?
I think Cleveland will be much improved this season and I think they’ll win at least 6 games but their schedule is pretty tough the start off. With this in mind they’ll be out of the playoff race between week 12 and 14, so when the games become meaningless, they’ll probably test the waters with Mayfield.
Prediction: First start, week 13 vs. Texans.
The path to the field feels easier for Darnold in comparison to Mayfield as his situation in New York sees him pitted against an aging veteran and a player who is returning from a major knee injury.
Josh McCown to me, is a non-factor in this QB battle and was brought in more for his leadership and mentoring skills inside the locker room. Todd Bowles did name McCown as the starter but that was prior to drafting Darnold and September is still a long time away.
So it boils down to Darnold vs. Bridgewater. Teddy’s surgically repaired knee was something he “wasn’t comfortable talking about” in March and has only just made it back to the practice field. Bridgewater is only guaranteed $500,000 of the $6 million contract, so if the knee doesn’t check out, he might not even make the team and his career is most likely done.
I’m hoping that the knee is fine and if that’s the case the former Viking almost certainly has the inside track to the starting job. Bridgewater has done it in the NFL and performed at a good level, if he can do so in white and green, he’ll be an upgrade on what the Jets have been fielding at Quarterback recently.
On the other side of the battle, Sam Darnold was rated by many as the best QB available in the draft and he was widely tipped to be taken with the first overall pick. So he’s clearly talented but like the rest of the 2018 QB class, he’s got his flaws. In college he turned the ball over far too much and I’m sure Todd Bowles and the Jets coaching staff would prefer to sit him for a while whilst he works out the kinks.
However like Hue Jackson, Bowles will be coming under fire from fans and the media if the Jets have a stuttering start. There will be clamour to throw Darnold in to try to kick start the team and jolt them into life. Since the supporting cast is pretty poor and it’ll be throwing Darnold to the wolves a little bit and be asking too much of his improvisational skills but it may the the last roll of the dice from Bowles.
I don’t see the Jets making much noise this season, their schedule is pretty favourable to start off, with winnable games early. In the flip side, those teams will be looking at the Jets and thinking the same.
Prediction: First start, week 9 vs. Dolphins
So this is where it gets really interesting. Josh Allen is the least pro ready of all of the first round QB’s but he also has the least competition for the starting role.
As the veteran, A.J. McCarron has the inside track and Bills officials have actually said that to begin camp, Allen will start as QB3 on the depth chart, ahead of Nate Peterman. Yep, this isn’t a great Quarterback situation in upstate New York.
Whilst it’s usual for the message coming from Head Coaches to be that the veteran player will start, I kind of believe this one.
The lack of a star QB and the lack of talent across the offence as a whole plays into McCarron’s hands in terms of his chances to play. McCarron has been in the building longer, so he’s had more time with the play book so therefore should pick up quicker, plus the game should also be “slower” for McCarron too. Nathan Peterman had a horrible debut in Los Angeles but at least he’s been a pro for 12 months and knows the play book. On the flip side of this, Allen really needs to spend at least a year working on a lot of aspects of playing the position and learning how to be an NFL player as opposed to being in college and having class to deal with alongside football.
Sean McDermott should know this and we shouldn’t see Allen until 2019 at the very earliest. It will also be up to McDermott to resist the temptation to throw Allen in too early as a first round pick in the event that things are turning sour. The Head Coach shouldn’t be on the hot seat at any point throughout the season so this should help the situation and Allen’s development in the long run.
McCarron will likely play the whole season barring injury and barring Buffalo being a complete mess. His deal is a 2 year deal but it’s structured in a way that the Bills can get rid of him after 12 months without too much of a financial penalty.
Prediction: First start, week 1, 2019 season.
From the least pro ready to the QB who is most pro ready. Josh Rosen endured a mini slide on draft night but the Cardinals did well to trade up to the 10th overall pick to claim their man under center for the foreseeable future. Standing in his way are Mike Glennon and the oft injured Sam Bradford. I feel like Rosen could bypass both of his veteran colleagues during the pre season and wrap up the starting job. I am going to go out on a limb and say that he will do exactly that too. Here’s why…
So firstly, Mike Glennon was quickly displaced by Mitchell Trubrisky last season in Chicago and I think Rosen is a better QB now than Trubrisky was a year ago. So personally, I don’t see Glennon as much of a factor, I see him as the likely QB3 on this team. The Cardinals said they were going to be aggressive in drafting a QB and they were and brought in Bradford to compete, they brought in Glennon for if Bradford gets hurt.
So on to Bradford; he’s certainly a talented guy but he’s just not been healthy enough throughout his career, which is a real shame but it’s just the way it goes for some players. How healthy is he currently? How much permanent damage has been done? Will he ever be the same as he once was? These are all big question marks hanging over him at this stage. He’s obviously fit enough to pass a physical but is he just a ticking time bomb? Lots of questions.
Then onto Rosen. He slid mainly due to character concerns but unless he completely hates the game of football and isn’t committed long term to being a pro, is it unusual for a young man to have other interests? Not really. A lot of people who know him or know of him say stuff along the lines of, coaches have to challenge him intellectually. Well, New Arizona Offensive Coordinator, Mike McCoy runs quite a complex system, which is a variation of the West coast offense. So that should keep Rosen’s mind from wandering. Like I said, I think we’ll be seeing the new era start early in the desert.
Prediction: First start, week 1 @ Redskins.
I think it was quite telling that Baltimore traded back into the first round to select Jackson and therefore have the 5th year option built into his rookie deal – they see him and their offense with a long term view.
When you look at Joe Flacco, you’ll see a prototypical Quarterback; tall, strong, big arm… you look over at #8, Lamar Jackson, he’s the completely different… he’s tall but lean, he’s mobile and he looks more like your modern day signal caller.
Joe Flacco is on his way out, he’s probably got a year or two left but his days are numbered. So is the offense too, that’ll be left behind with Flacco. Jackson being drafted signalled that a new era is imminent in Baltimore.
This total remodel of the offensive side of the ball will take time though and that’s a good thing for Jackson too. He’s got his flaws that he himself recognises and the fact that Flacco is entrenched as the starter gives everyone the time to work on the future whilst the present ticks along.
Baltimore won’t want to ostracise their Superbowl winning QB just yet either so all this points towards a season on the bench for Jackson in 2018, if not beyond. Obviously if Flacco gets hurt they will incorporate some elements into the offense which play to Jackson’s strengths, because they will be forced to throw him into the deep end in the event that Flacco’s troublesome back flares up, for example.
The Ravens also made a nice move bringing in Robert Griffin III too. RGIII will probably be used as a mentor for Jackson as a mobile QB and once Flacco is gone, they will then have two QB’s with similar styles – More long term thinking in Baltimore, something good teams do well.
Prediction: First start, mid 2019 season.
First things first: I just about managed to break even on the NFL draft bets. Had Vita Vea fell 1 more place to the Redskins (who would have taken him as they also took a defensive tackle…annoying), it would have been fairly profitable.
As it was my first experience of watching the draft (watched on Sky Sports, who had the NFL network coverage) was fairly enjoyable..more so had it been profitable I suppose.
Things started badly with Baker Mayfield going first overall, when I pinned my Sam Darnold colours to the mast and was fairly dismissive of the Saquon Barkley to the Giants pick, which I still believe was a bad decision by the Giants and it will be interesting how the rest of their picks pan out addressing the holes on the defence and to this point, not picking a QB (and still havent at the end of round 3).
The NAP selection was an ultimate sweat, with it taking the Ravens trading in to the last pick of the first round to select Lamar Jackson. I really tilted when the Patriots passed on him twice and figured that the bets were all going to go down the pan, but luckily, we got out of jail.
I think next year, I will just sit and enjoy the draft and enjoy it for what it is. I found that with the draft, because the possibilities are endless, it is impossible to be happy with just a single bet or 2 and always try and find an angle that is not there and end up hedging all over the place. If I do end up having a bet next year (let’s face it, it’s likely), it may just be simple bets like total number of QBs/WRs/etc to be drafted in the first round. No long accas, no predictions on the first 3 picks etc.
Anyway, moving to the point of the article, the analysis of the first round. This will also be in a podcast coming your way later in the week where Lee Wakefield will join me to discuss the NFL draft, focusing on the first few rounds.
The accolade of the first overall pick in an NFL draft for 2018 was decided when the Cleveland Browns picked Baker Mayfield, confirming the stories coming out on the day and a few days before. I was quite surprised that Baker did not attend the draft in Dallas actually, especially considering he was a lock for a top 5 pick (further to that point, why is it not mandatory for the top 10 picks (or assumed top 10 picks) to be in the house for the draft. Are there any rules or is it just a location thing? Answers on a postcard please.
Baker Mayfield for me, was always going to be my best bet at the QB that is likely to be the most successful out of the “Big 4”. Sam Darnold also ticked a lot of boxes, but if you have followed the blog or my social media, we love Baker Mayfield. He will be exciting to watch and Cleveland will be a fascinating team to follow in the 2018 season (really hope they are the “Hard Knocks” or “All or Nothing” team next year. Baker has a perfect QB to learn from in Tyrod Taylor and hopefully, Baker will be able to compete for the starting job, but ultimately sit for a year. There will be no pressure to put the guy in and I think if Cleveland were clever (not always the case), they would use Tyrod this year to ensure that the offensive line is perfect for when Baker steps in and steps up to the plate.
For fantasy, he will have a good floor with his running ability and his accuracy, and I don’t think the landing spot in Cleveland will kill his ceiling either. He will have weapons and a pair of safe hands in Jarvis Landry (if he stays past 2018).
The only thing restricting him from thriving will be Hue Jackson, the Head Coach. Whilst they have some weird play calls coming from him ( remember the few 4th down calls last year to try and win games instead of kicking field goals against the Jets), he is simply not what that organisation needs. I’m not overly enamoured with his coaching style, his culture and how he has stayed in a job whilst winning only 1 game in 2 years is truly a miracle. Their misses on QBs in the last few drafts are comical, choosing the likes of Kizer and Kessler over Deshaun Watson and hell, even Mitch Trubisky.
I really hope for Baker’s, the Cleveland Browns and the NFL’s sake, that their #1 pick in the 2018 draft will not fizzle out and kill his talents and his style of play.
Pick number 2 in the draft is the one that will forever divide opinion until we have the hindsight to know whether it was a good call or a bad call by Dave Gettleman and the New York football Giants. Saquon Barkley is now a Giant and was argued beforehand as one of the best prospects at Running Back for the past 15 years. That’s a pretty high accolade when coming in to the league. The New York Giants arguably had bigger needs than at running back (though, that was also a need considering their current depth there) but they decided that he was the best player in the draft, and they selected him. Whilst it will take a little while to pan out and see how he does in this offence, I think it is now even more intriguing as to how the Giants go about the rest of their draft.
They signed Nate Solder from New England, which is a good move for the offensive line (and they subsequently selected Will Hernandez in the second round) but their defensive needs up front with the exit of Jason Pierre-Paul was the main reason why I thought that Bradley Chubb should have been selected here. Whether or not the new GM Gettleman and new HC Pat Shurmur feel like they will take the “we’ll score more than you” approach this year or they just wanted to sort out the running back position once and for all, it’s undeniable that Saquon is the “name” of the draft and it will alleviate some media pressure and ensure that people still wanted to queue an hour for parking beforehand to turn up to MetLife stadium and drink overpriced beer. Things could turn sour quite quickly however, and I have likened to Barkley in this offence like a Ferrari in rush hour, not going anywhere.
A main criticism of Barkley going in to the draft was the fact that he rarely put his head down and gained the tough yards, instead opting for tippy tapping around in the backfield to find a hole. This may lead to some poor ypc averages for Barkley if Solder and their draft picks cannot sort out the lanes or blocking for their new running back. As there are a lot of haters on this pick, it will need to reap rewards fairly quickly otherwise a lot of people will turn quickly in New York and it wont take much for that to happen. Overall, if I were a Giants fan, I think I can trust Gettleman and Shurmur with the dealings here and it’s just fortunate that Ben McAdoo is no longer there.
From a fantasy perspective, Barkley will get a full workload from the get go. His pass catching ability will mean that he will likely go in the first round of your fantasy drafts.
It would surprise to see Barkley easily surpass 1000 yards, but the touchdowns may not be there as much as people expect. It will be imperative that Nate Solder helps that offensive line hugely and elevates the play of those around him (along with any players they accumulate in the draft).
Moving to pick 3 by the New York Jets, they sure did hit the jackpot. With hindsight, they got exactly what they would’ve wanted from pick 3, the choice of QB. Darnold, Allen and Rosen were sitting there waiting and they were proactive in deciding that they wanted to choose their destiny in the draft. With the Giants seemingly happy to not go a Quarterback in the first round, they guaranteed themselves either Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold. And that has to be a big win for the franchise. Darnold ticks a lot of boxes and will likely be successful in the league for a long time, something the Jets have looked at settling at the Quarterback position since Ken O’Brien. Like the Browns, the Jets have struggled to have a competent QB for more than 2 years in succession and set their stall out early in the offseason when trading their 2nd Round picks with the Colts to move up to 3. The back office will be in danger of losing their positions at the end of the season should this one not work out but I believe they have selected correctly here (Josh Allen could have been a disaster here). Like the Giants, the Jets have a few other holes to plug in the draft and I am sure that they will all be tailored around ensuring that Darnold has the best chance to succeed (mainly because they don’t have a lot of picks left, with no pick in round 2).
One thing is for sure, they will be talking about this draft for years to come in New York… because it could be the year the Jets surpassed them and became a better team (not the team with the best players), all because the Giants didn’t go QB and the Jets did.
Fantasy-wise, Darnold should slide straight in to the lineup and is one for dynasty leagues as this team are kind of still in rebuild mode. Robby Anderson could miss a lot of time, if not the whole season. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has left and only Terrelle Pryor has joined the ranks at this point.
The first shock of the draft happened at pick 4; No the Browns didn’t trade back and they didn’t pick Bradley Chubb. The Browns select Denzel Ward, the Corner from Ohio State. Not too much to discuss here from a fantasy perspective but it was surprising to most people that they didn’t go Chubb to partner their #1 pick last year in Myles Garrett and have a loaded front defensive line.
Chubb didn’t have much longer to wait in the draft, however, and was immediately selected at pick 5 by John Elway and the Denver Broncos. He partners Von Miller to bolster back up that defence. The way that the first 4 picks turned out proved to be decisive, as the Bills reportedly had a trade in place for the Bills to come up to pick 5. But as Chubb was there, Denver cut the deal off and selected Chubb so clearly they felt he was going to be picked by the Giants or the Browns, too.
Quenton Nelson is now a Colt in the most non-surprising pick of the draft at number 6. He will be a multi year pro bowler and will have the job of protecting Andrew Luck for years to come. You would expect the Colts to continue to fill their cheese grater of a squad with their multiple 2nd round picks.
The Bills finally managed to get in the top 10 at pick 7, selecting Josh Allen in what will be a meticulously analysed pick in the next few years. Many suggest that Allen is the most likely bust candidate from the top 4 QBs that were selected. He looks to be a Buffalo type player, has a crazy strength arm and will be erratic, but Buffalo will likely still be a run first team this season, mainly due to the lack of weapons for Allen to throw to. He isn’t touchable in fantasy, maybe not even in dynasty leagues due to his errors and how prone he is to errant passes. Buffalo on the whole aren’t going to be a goldmine for fantasy, and that includes LeSean McCoy. That said, the arm strength Allen possesses, may just about keep the defences honest, something Tyrod was never really able to do.
Chicago boosted their linebacking depth with Roquan Smith in a move most saw coming at pick 8, whilst San Francisco went offensive line at pic 9 with Mike McGlinchey, ensuring that their star QB doesn’t hit the deck much.
Chicago, who overhauled their offence in the free agency, should continue to bolster the front 7 in the draft. The 49ers have similar needs to the Bears, but decided against addressing that in the 1st round. For fantasy purposes, these 2 defences will be middle of the road defences and will rely a bit on their respective offences staying on the field, scoring and putting the pressure back on the opposing teams offences, rather than their own defence.
Pick 10 saw the Arizona Cardinals possibly beat Miami to the punch, trading with Oakland and selecting the final QB of the big 4. Josh Rosen will sit behind Sam Bradford (until he gets injured) and will be a nice fit there in desert county. Similar to Buffalo, Arizona will need to give Allen some WR to throw to in the coming years, especially with Larry Fitzgerald likely retiring after this season. Don’t be surprised if Arizona address the WR position later in the draft.
So there are the first 10 picks in the draft covered. Below are the best and worst picks of the rounds:
Best Pick: Quenton Nelson – Indianapolis
The Colts have a long way to go in order to fill their gaps on both sides of the ball, but Quenton Nelson falling to 6, who could be a future Hall of Fame type player is a great start.
Worst Pick: Josh Allen
May be a cop out here, but Josh Allen could have fallen to them at 12 and Josh Allen is possibly the riskiest proposition of the big 4 QBs. Likely to start early in the season, if not week 1, Allen will have a steep learning curve to overcome if he is to avoid being the next Nathan Peterman.
Picks 11-21 will be up sometime Sunday evening.
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It’s Monday….*sigh* so what’s a good remedy to brighten up a Monday?
No, not a beer. A mock draft of course!
It’s never too early to mock draft unless its Week 2 of the regular season and seeing as though it isn’t Week 2 right now, it seems like a perfect time to mock draft.
This week we will be doing our draft with the following setup:
12 team, 1pt PPR , 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX (RB/WR/TE) and 1 DEF with 6 Bench spots (there is not point doing kickers). The rookies coming in from the 2018 draft will be included in this draft.
As it’s the first one in this series, we shall go easy on ourselves and we will be picking from the number 3 spot. We are drafting on FantasyPros mock draft simulator. A very good tool to use to get comfortable in drafting.
There will be a post or podcast in the very near future on draft strategies so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Right, so we are picking from the 3 seed. I know for a fact that we will be going RB in this first round as i am such an advocate for getting the RB1 locked in and with the 3 spot, you can guarantee that you’ll get a volume type elite back. With it being a PPR league, I am hoping for either LeVeon Bell, Todd Gurley, Zeke or David Johnson types.
Todd Gurley went #1 off the board followed by Antonio Brown.
This leaves us with a decision to make; and whilst no pick here is necessarily a bad one, don’t overthink it. It’s likely that you’ll have your preferences however it comes to you, and for me it’s a coin toss between Lev Bell and Zeke.
I will go Lev Bell, purely on the passing down work that he gets.
So we start off with Lev Bell and as our pick is not until the 10th pick of the 2nd round, I would hope that someone like a Davantae Adams drops this far, although unlikely. Anyone that is a funnelled target monster would be great.
Now, the important thing when drafting, is remember where you are in the draft order. If you are in the middle of the draft order then this doesn’t apply so much but as we are pretty much at one of the book ends, it is vital that you look at the teams picking next to you in between your 2 quick picks (i.e the teams that selected 1st and 2nd overall. This way you can try and identify their moves and stay one step ahead. You have to consider their roster construction to see what positions they may try and fill or are in need of.
in the round 2-3 change around, it’s likely that the 2 teams will have at least 1 RB and 1 WR so in this change around, you should go with who you want and not worry too much about the other 2 teams as its likely 2 WR and 2 RBs go in those 4 picks between your next one in round 3. Therefore, in my mind, I want to look at tiers of players.
Are there any players here that I can grab before these other guys that represent a higher tier than the next guy. Also, looking at the draft board on the whole, 2 teams went double WR and 1 team went double RB. Full list as below:
Here is what is currently available to me:
RBs: Dalvin Cook, Devonta Freeman, Christian McCaffrey, Mark Ingram & Jordan Howard
WR: Adam Thielen, Tyreek Hill, Doug Baldwin, TY Hilton, Stefon Diggs & Brandin Cooks
TE: Everyone but Gronkowski (went 2.5)
When picking in the spot we are, you should always try and pick the players you like but also taking in to consideration which ones may not get back to you when the 3rd pick comes back round. I would put my house on Dalvin Cook being selected, and any other 3 from the list above. If is had to take a guess – Cook, Freeman, Thielen, Baldwin & maybe Kelce.
To me, this is an easy choice, but only because our turn comes back around very quickly and we will still be able to get the same tier of player when that happens. I am going to take Dalvin Cook, here. Purely because he could be a tier above the rest of the guys. I don’t feel overly comfortable taking a 2nd round pick on any of the WR but I will still be able to take one in the 3rd round (assuming 4 WR don’t go off the board).
So I have taken Dalvin Cook and that gives me 2 RBs to start (one note: if you would guarantee me that Joe Mixon fell to me in the 4th round, I would have gone WR most likely).
The next 4 picks are as follows: Rodgers (QB), Hill(WR),Kelce(TE), Baldwin(WR).
So we have had a bit of luck here as the 2 teams in between us reached a tad on Rodgers and Kelce (in my opinion). You’ll find picking at either end of the draft, that you feel that you may have to reach in order to get the players you want. Don’t be afraid to do that, especially if you think they are going to have a good year. Fantasy Football is all about opinions and it’s ok to make a wrong decision, as long as you learn from it.
So as we have 2 RBs already, it makes sense to go WR. We have Thielen, Hilton, Diggs, Cooks, Fitzgerald, Landry, Robinson. Like I said earlier with my round 2 pick, I want someone that will have targets funnelled to them as its a 1pt PPR. Whilst Thielen and Diggs will get plenty of receptions in this offence, my eyes are drawn towards Larry Fitzgerald – a PPR monster for god knows how long, and Allen Robinson, the new WR at Chicago who will be the focal point of the attack. whilst i don’t mind which WR anyone would go in this situation, for me it’s all about volume and opportunity so I will go with Larry Fitzgerald. Here’s one reason why: Larry fitz is around 90 or so catches from overtaking Tony Gonzalez and making it to No.2 on the all time list. Larry would not have come back unless the coaching staff said to him that we will get you to 2nd. As long Bradford stays healthy, this will happen(even Mike Glennon can force feed WR, or the opposing Defence…).So with that in mind that’s 90 pts right off the bat for Larry Fitzgerald. The red flags here are injury or hitting the veteran wall (unlikely) and David Johnson. But in effect, this team has no WR apart from Fitzgerald as John Brown has been shown the exit door in free agency, as has Jaron Brown. Leaving just Fitz , FA Brice Butler and JJ Nelson so I am confident if healthy, Fitz gets the receptions record and then sets off into the Sonoran desert.
I take Fitzgerald and wait for a while before it comes back round to my pick at 4.10. On reflection, Larry Fitz as your no.1 WR seems a bit underwhelming, but you just have to trust on the production he will produce, especially in PPR leagues this year. In standard, I would have gone Thielen or Robinson.
So when the pick comes back to me in the 4th Round, here is the draft board:
As you can see, most teams are pretty even in terms of roster construction. Team 1 does not have a running back yet so you can bet your bottom dollar that’s where he goes for at least 1 of his two picks that shortly follow mine and it’s hard to know what team 2 will do, having a RB, WR and QB on the board. Whilst Jordan Howard is VERY tempting here and likely will be picked up by team 1 if not team 2 and does represent a tier above the other RBs, there are some good PPR RBs that will still be there when it comes back to me in round 5 (Dion Lewis, Duke Johnson, etc) and i would rather have those than Howard, whose receiving is not the greatest. The WR available to me are: D.Thomas, M.Crabtree, J Smith-Schuster, Sammy Watkins, Pierre Garcon and Robert Woods. Easy choice for me here and it’s Thomas. Mr dependable in PPR for Denver, he is still their no.1 guy there (despite age getting scary for him but the same can be said for Sanders and they now have Case Keenum, who helped Thielen and Diggs have good years so I am really happy to get Thomas here.
The next 4 picks where Howard (gut wrenching stuff for Team 1 there), Russell Wilson (wayyyy too early) and Alex Collins for team 1, followed by Crabtree for Team 2.
So back to me in the 5th Round, I have Bell and Cook as my RBs paired with Larry Fitz and Demaryius Thomas at WR. I feel like this is an important pick here as from round 6, it could start to get a bit dicey. So essentially, this pick will go in to my flex spot and there are plenty of options. Could go QB with Tom Brady, could go TE with Engram or Olsen whereas the RB options are Duke Johnson, Dion Lewis, Derrick Henry, Chris Thompson and Jay Ajayi. My WR options are the same as Round 4 minus Crabtree. As this is a PPR league and RB in PPR are easy to come by, I am going to make a play for WR. As things stand and no big news of 49ers WR signings, I will go for Pierre Garcon here. He is getting on a bit with age, and has not yet played with Jimmy G but he was the focal point of the attack last year and again, I will go for the volume and possession receivers. Did consider Sammy Watkins at the value but he will be too boom or bust for me this year and I don’t want the headache of trying to get him right.
Back round to me in the 6th and we have the following draft board:
Bit of a QB run in Round 6 and 4 TEs also went between my picks. So the good news is the WR and RB positions were not as decimated as they could have been. As I have gone 3 straight WR, I want to secure my third RB here. Dion Lewis is still available, but so is his former teammate, Rex Burkhead. Rex has just signed a new 3 year deal with the Patriots and seems to be entrusted with the backfield a bit. Tevin Coleman is also there so I am tempted to take Lewis as he is the fancier name with the Free Agency move and I will hope that one of Burkhead or Coleman come back round to me in 5 picks time.
They do indeed come back round and only Carlos Hyde was selected from an RB perspective. Woods, Shepherd and Edelman also were drafted before my 7.03 selection. There are not a lot of WR shouting out at me, with the best 3 options being Sanders, Kupp and Hogan. As I am an advocate of a late QB and late TE pick, I will go back to an RB. Jay Ajayi could be worth a go here, but I am going with Rex Burkhead.
So to recap, my team is currently Bell, Cook, Lewis and Burkhead at RB. Larry Fitz, D.Thomas and Pierre Garcon at WR. 5QBs and 8RBs went in the next 18 picks which is quite astonishing. I am the only team left needing a first QB, meaning i can probably wait until people start taking their 2nd (if at all), giving me great value filling up the other positions (4 teams still need a TE). I feel like i have to go either TE or WR here. TEs available are Delanie Walker, Jack Doyle, Jordan Reed and Trey Burton. As I am looking at Trey Burton as my TE, I think he wont go for another 2 or 3 rounds so can wait for him. WR available are Kupp, Hogan, Agholor, Benjamin and Lee. I think here is where i can go for a boom or bust player as my team is pretty stable as it is at the moment and I don’t need a QB. Considering how good the Rams were last year, I take the possession receiver Kupp as I want a part of that offence, in a division where defences are poor. He isn’t the boom or bust type, but there will be weeks where he scores big but has a safe floor. 3RBs and Delanie Walker were drafted in between my picks leaving us as follows:
You could argue that I should have taken Walker and then a WR as Kupp may have been available which is fair. I’m regretting it already. I would say that now is the time for a TE or QB, but simply not many teams need a TE and none need a QB so i am going to risk the long wait for round 10 to take a TE and then my QB in round 11. I am going to pile in on another receiver. It’s either Agholor or Hogan for me here as they are in the more powerful offences and would rather them than someone like Kelvin Benjamin. I think Hogan was an integral part of the offence prior to injury last year so will take him here.
SPOILER: I wont be taking any rookies here unless its a 15th round flyer. I like to see it first before i draft it.
The Good news is, when it gets to me at 10.10, only 1 TE went. Annoyingly, it was Trey Burton. Seeing as that plan backfired, I feel like I will end up taking 2 TE now and playing them with the matchups. So I immediately take Jordan Reed, who has massive upside if healthy. This will force my hand in taking 2 TE but I am happy with that as my WR and RB are good in depth. Perhaps should take Jack Doyle in a PPR but the signing of Eric Ebron scares me and that Colts offence….yuk.
Jack Doyle is still there in round 11 but I am going to take my QB here. The best QB on the board at the moment is Kirk Cousins. Others available are Big Ben, Dak Prescott, Phillip Rivers, Jameis Winston and Matt Ryan. I am a bit scared of taking Cousins due to the Vikings not necessarily needing much from him with Dalvin Cook and that Defence. Big Ben is very up and down and that’s the case for all of these QBs at this point. But as there are a lot of weapons for Cousins, I will take him and change from my usual take Phillip Rivers ploy.
My team is as follows:
RB: Bell, Cook, Lewis, Burkhead
WR: Fitzgerald, D.Thomas, Garcon, Kupp, Hogan
Options available to me now are TY Montgomery who has potential upside in the GB offence, Desean Jackson, Mohammed Sanu and Ted Ginn, boom or bust WR. However I am going to pick my backup TE to Jordan Reed in George Kittle. Probably not advisable to have players from the same passing attack, but I like Kittle a lot this season coming in to his second year. Could have gone Cameron Brate or Austin Seferian-Jenkins here also.
The turn saw Jacksonville defence come off the board (1st defence to be drafted) and as I am picking late in the last round, I do not want to be left with a middle of the road defence. It’s a take your pick from Minnesota, Philadelphia and for me, Los Angeles Rams. I am going to be controversial and take the Rams before the Vikings and Eagles defences. Don’t @ me. It’s a division where they could feast on the Seattle offence twice a year along with Arizona, one of the worst for giving up sacks last year.
My last pick could be absolutely anyone. RBs on the board are not inspiring: Abdullah, Martin , Breida and Robert Kelley. WRs are Desean Jackson, Corey Coleman, Mike Wallace, Danny Amendola and Mo Sanu. I don’t need a TE and there is not point taking another defence or QB. So I plump for Sanu, who had some good weeks last year and is the No.1 in Atlanta, if Julio goes down.
So that’s my draft! The good thing about fantasyPros is that they grade your draft and here’s how I did:
On reflection, there were probably one or two players I could have waited on a bit longer but this is why you practice drafts. to see what players are in which parts of the draft and get comfortable in predicting who you can get where. I love the RBs on this team and if it was real, i would look to trade one to an RB needy team. Not overly enthused about my TE but if Reed plays 16 games, then I perhaps have the steal of the draft.
Hope you enjoyed the ride! We will do another one soon. perhaps over a podcast as this was very painful to do as a blog and has taken almost 2 or 3 hours.
Love to hear your thoughts on my team or which team won in this draft. For reference, here are the final rosters below:
Please get in touch on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram and let us know your thoughts! Don’t forget our #raceto500 giveaway. When we have 500 followers we will give a prize away (likely an NFL jersey!). Please show some support on our website full10yards.com and look at some of the articles and mock drafts that are on there.
Finally, our podcast will be back later in the week where we will be looking at the 2018 NFL draft with our guest mock draft writer, Lee Wakefield.
Hey there, I’m Lee Wakefield and I’ll be here dropping mock drafts like Louisville receivers drop passes over the next couple of weeks in the lead up to draft night. I’ll run through a few scenarios and mix things up a little, then my final mock will be posted up on the eve on the big night. Ok? Let’s go!
Just a quick qualifier before we get started. For the purpose of this exercise, I’m not including trades. I DO believe there will be trades on the night but I’ll include trades in future mocks.
#1, Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Sashi and The Browns tried to get cute and maybe tried to be too clever throughout his tenure and got burned, passing on Carson Wentz and DeShaun Watson in the past two drafts. They don’t here. They take a quarterback 1st overall and this time they have the luxury of being able to let him develop for a year or so, behind a capable starting quarterback in Tyrod Taylor. Darnold has a sky high ceiling and a relatively high floor too which is what gives him the edge over his classmates this year. He’s by no means perfect and did suffer with fumbles quite a bit at USC, losing 9 last season as well as throwing 13 picks. This obviously needs cleaning up so it suits him to sit for a year or two before taking the reins.
#2, New York Giants – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn. State
Eli Manning may have been benched last season but he’s still got enough in the tank for another season, so the Giants go and get the best player in the entire class with the second pick and take some of the pressure of Eli. Saquon will likely give Big Blue a 1,000 yard rusher for the first time since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012. Eeesh.
Barkley is a strong and aggressive runner with soft hands when catching out of the backfield. He’s a physical specimen who many rate more highly than Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette coming out of collage.
#3, New York Jets – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
During the recent league owners meetings the Jets said they’re considering “6 or 7 players” players for the number 3 pick… well if that REALLY is the case, then why did they pay a king’s ransom to trade up from 6? Hmmm… make no mistake they’re taking a QB here, bet your house on it. The Meadowlands other occupant gets a pretty good one here, Josh McCown’s newest pupil is Josh Rosen. It’s a pretty crowded QB room over in Florham Park but I’d expect Rosen to rise up and beat McCown and Teddy Bridgewater out of the stating job by the end of the season.
#4, Cleveland Browns – Bradley Chubb, Edge, N.C. State
I expect Cleveland to field calls for this pick on the night but I’m not including trades in this mock. If Cleveland do make a pick here They could do much worse than getting Myles Garrett a running mate. This would give the Browns a young and ferocious pairing to chase down the AFC North’s quarterbacks for the foreseeable future and the bonus factor in this pick is that Garrett and Chubb make the other a little bit better by taking attention from each other from blockers. We could be seeing the birth of a premier pass rush duo to rival those from the Jags and Chargers.
#5, Denver Broncos – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Denver could go a number of ways here and again could be fielding calls for trades, especially if Cleveland stay at 4. Here John Elway takes another swing at trying to find his quarterback of the future after misses on Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Allen is a big project in my opinion but he can marinate behind Case Keenum for a year or two before taking the controls himself. It’s questionable whether he’ll reach his ceiling but it only takes one team to believe with these boom or bust prospects.
#6, Indianapolis Colts – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The Colts began remodelling the defensive backfield in last year’s draft with the selections of Malik Hooker and Quincy Wilson. Here Indy selects the top cover man in the class to play with Wilson and Hooker once they both recover from their perspective injuries and they get a young core to protect the end zone for years to come. As with the past couple of picks, the number 6 pick is going to be up for auction on draft night and if there are no trades in the first five picks, if expect the phones to be on fire in the Colts’ war room with calls from Baker Mayfield fans incoming.
#7, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
In this scenario Tampa Bay will be jumping around with delight. The run on quarterbacks means the most fireproof prospect in the class falls right into their laps at 7, which even for a guard is an absolute bargain because Quenton Nelson is not an ordinary guard. Nelson is regarded as pretty much as close to a sure thing as possible and will be making multiple trips to the Pro Bowl. Who wouldn’t want a guy on their team who says that they play football with the intention of breaking the will of the guy opposite. That is bad ass. I love it!!
#8, Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Chicago have had a nice off season so far with their free agency signings and need to follow on from that by having a good draft if they’re going to give themselves a chance of getting out of the cellar of an absolutely loaded NFC North. The Bears kick off their draft by selecting the best linebacker available to give their front 7 an alpha dog and fill the hole left by Jurrell Freeman.
#9, San Francisco 49ers – Derwin James, S, Florida State
Over the past 3 drafts, the 49ers have used their first round selections to beef up the front 7 with Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and Reuben foster. Some guy called Richard Sherman signed this offseason too and here the 49ers continue their defensive makeover taking James. James is a versatile safety who has an All Pro ceiling and will be an instant contributor to Robert Saleh’s defence.
#10, Oakland Raiders – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech.
Long, athletic, young and versatile. Sounds like a great prospect huh? Well they’re four words that describe Edmunds. Once drafted, at 19 years old, he will be the NFL’s youngest player, which in itself means there’s just that little bit more time to develop and mould him into what you want him to be. Some in the scouting community are saying Edmunds will play outside linebacker or even defensive end, I don’t see it that way. He CAN rush the passer in some situations but he’s best using this athleticism to go sideline to sideline and rack up tackles.
#11, Miami Dolphins – Vita Vea, DT, Washington
As everyone knows, Miami cut Ndamukong Suh and he’s gone out west to join this decade’s “Dream Team” in Los Angeles, leaving a big hole, both literally and figuratively in the defensive line. What better way to fill it than drafting a 340lb human wrecking ball with feet like a ballerina. Vea is unbelievably powerful, evident in that he threw up 41 reps in the bench press in the combine and he uses his power to overwhelm guards and centres regularly but is also likely to be chasing down ball carriers and making tackles at the sideline. Vea has a motor which does not stop. Quarterbacks and running backs beware, this man will be in your backfield.
#12, Buffalo Bills – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Bills get their quarterback of the future. If The Bills do get Mayfield then I could see him beating out A.J. McCarron for the starting job before the season even starts. Mayfield walked on at Texas Tech… as a freshman… and then started. Then transferred to Oklahoma then won the starting job there, leading to Trevor Knight leaving for Texas A&M. Are you spotting a theme here? Baker Mayfield is the ultimate competitor and the most accurate quarterback in the draft. I, for one, can’t wait to see him play in the NFL.
On a side note; if this were to happen and Buffalo did get their QB at 12, without having to trade up at all, there would be no table in Western New York that hadn’t had a Bills fan jump through it by the time the party was over.
#13, Washington Redskins – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
This would be another selection which would call for street parties in Landover. Fitzpatrick is everything that the modern day franchise looks for in a defensive back and he should be everything the ‘Skins wanted Su’a Cravens to be. Words you’ll be hearing a lot when people talk about Fitzpatrick are “chess piece” and “Swiss army knife”. He’ll move all over the defensive formation in order to fill a need on a certain play or situation as he did in college with the Crimson Tide. Single high safety, in the box, blitzing, playing corner outside or in the slot, he can do it all.
#14, Green Bay Packers – Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College
Green Bay adds some juice to it’s pass rushing attack. Clay Matthews has been around for a long time and it’s time to pass the torch to a younger guy. Landry didn’t put up great numbers for Boston College last year due to a nagging ankle problem but his 2016 tape is fantastic with 22 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks. Now the injury is cleared up, that’s the Harold Landry Green Bay should be getting and with Matthews still around the building, he should have a great tutor to help refine this techniques and counters and give The Packers a premier sack artist for years to come.
#15, Arizona Cardinals – Connor Williams, OT
The Cardinals went out and paid Justin Pugh this off season and here They continue to bolster the offensive line. Williams played left tackle for The Longhorns but could easily play guard too in the NFL as he’s athletic for his size. Some teams may see him as a guard anyway because some teams believe in myths regarding ideal arm length for offensive linemen, which Williams does not have. However the Cards see Williams they get a great prospect to protect Sam Bradford and as we all know, Sam Bradford needs protecting.
On a side note; Arizona is a candidate to trade down since they’re in rebuild mode and have a lowkey average roster. I may include this in future mocks.
#16, Baltimore Ravens – Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA
Another team with an aging pass rusher on his way out drafts his replacement. Davenport is incredibly raw as a prospect and needs serious development but he has the ingredients to do some damage in the NFL. He played at a pretty average level in college and basically just bullied and intimidated the guy across from him and he looked like a star… fast forward to the senior bowl where he was lining up against, guys who knew how to actually play offensive line and he was almost anonymous. Make of that what you will but like I said above, it only takes one team to believe.
#17, Los Angeles Chargers – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Upgrade the run defence. That should be Tom Telesco’s modus operandi for the first round of the draft. This could come in the form of a defensive tackle, especially since Corey Liuget is suspended for the first 4 games on the season due to a PED’S violation but here Los Angeles goes for an alpha dog linebacker to play alongside Denzel Perryman and sets them both loose to hunt down ball carriers. It could be a good competition I for who ends the season with more tackles. This also has the added bonus of rewarding Darius Philon for his upturn in play last year in Liuget’s absence. Gus Bradley’s defence is quickly becoming the strength of this team, with all 3 levels having genuine stars and promising youngsters alike. Rashaan Evans has the potential to go from being a promising youngster to a genuine star very quickly.
#18, Seattle Seahawks – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Seattle are rebuilding, make no mistake but they’re not going to lose they’re hard nosed identity under Pete Carroll. Guice should fit that perfectly as he’s quick, strong and physical. Some rate him more than old running mate Leonard Fournette… who didn’t do badly in Northern Florida his rookie year. Guice is a Back that will take huge pressure off Russell Wilson who was their leading rusher last season. The Seahawks are a better team with a pounding runner who can grind down opposing defences and take control of the clock. Having a clock controlling offense will also help to mask he possibly deficiencies Seattle may have on defence after losing multiple key pieces on that side of the ball this off season. This is possibly my favourite pick of the whole first round.
#19, Dallas Cowboys – Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
The Cowboys use another pick to protect Dak Prescott and open up holes for Ezekiel Elliott to run through. Here, La’el Collins would play at right tackle with Wynn at right guard. Smith, Martin, Frederick, Wynn, Collins give America’s Team the best line in football… Zeke will eat again. Wynn is a smart and strong lineman who played left back tackle Bulldogs but projects as a guard in the NFL due to lack of ideal size. Dallas could interchange Wynn and Collins to find the best fit for them. This selection also takes pressure off Prescott, who regressed last year when without Elliott.
#20, Detroit Lions – Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
An second consecutive Georgia Bulldog comes off the board. Is it just me or does it feel like Detroit have needed a running back since Barry Sanders? Michel’s selection should mean Ameer Abdullah can play a more complimentary role, which should suit him better and give The Lions a thunder and lightning style rushing attack. Michel had great success at Georgia sharing backfield duties with Nick Chubb so he should be ok with the shared role. One person that will be ecstatic should be Matt Stafford, who will now have a functioning running game to open things up for Jim-Bob Cooter’s offence rather than having all the pressure on his shoulders.
#21, Cincinnati Bengals – Mike McGlinchley, OT, Notre Dame
The Bengals need to upgrade their offensive line. Their attempt to claim bookend tackles in 2015 with their first two picks has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster with Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher failing to live up to their billing for a multitude of reasons. Time to start over again for Cincy and in doing so they get McGlinchley, who is a rock solid tackle prospect. He’s got size, smarts and enough athletic ability to hold down one side of the line for the next 10-12 years. As well as protecting Andy Dalton, McGlinchley has great ability in the run game too, so Joe Mixon will also be pleased. It isn’t flashy but this makes The Bengals much better.
#22, Buffalo Bills – James Daniels, C, Iowa
Eric Wood having to retire means that Buffalo is on the lookout for an interior anchor. They immediately satisfy that need here by drafting the top centre in the class. Pencil James Daniels in for the next 10 years, he’s a smooth and fluid mover for a big man and he’s got a good amount of experience in college, even starting 2 games at left guard as a freshman for the Hawkeyes. He could bring that versatility to the pros and play as a guard in future if required. Probably needs to get a touch bigger but he can easily do so once he gets in an NFL weight programme.
#23, New England Patriots – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Malcolm Butler needs replacing. Bill Belichick evidently thought that before the Superbowl and now Butler is out of town he brings in Alexander to replace him. An undersized but chippy and physical corner who should fit perfectly in the Pats press, man coverage system. Plays bigger than he is and is very instinctive, he may need to play with a little more discipline in future as he’s a gambler on throws and routes. This does mean he can make a lot of plays on the ball but leaves him open to getting burned. I’m a big fan and if he landed in New England, in certain they would refine him and we’d be looking at a top corner in 3 years time… just in time for him to be cut… in cold blood… for no apparent reason. The Patriot way.
#24, Carolina Panthers – Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
Carolina picks up my top rated wide receiver here. They have gone through a little bit of a pass catcher evolution over the past couple of seasons, getting rid of the likes of, Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn and replacing with Curtis Samuel and promoting Devin Funchess. This off season we’ve seen Jarius Wright and Speedy wideout Torrey Smith come in. Miller comes in and adds variety to the attack. Norv Turner will have no excuses if he can’t get The Panthers in a good flow offensively, especially considering he’s got Cam Newton, Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey to play with also.
If expect Miller to climb the depth chart quickly due to his great hands, precise route running and due to the fact he plays bigger than he is. Many of you will doubt this pick but remember this later on this year when Anthony Miller is killing it.
#25, Tennessee Titans – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
This just makes so much sense, if Vander Esch falls to 25 it almost makes too much sense not to happen! Tennessee have an aging linebacker group and need to get younger and more athletic at these positions. Vander Esch is certainly athletic and should become new HC, Mike Vrabel’s star pupil, considering he used to play the same position. Vander Esch was the 2017 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and was a team captain, the amassed 141 tackles, 8.5 for loss and 4 sacks, 4 pass break ups and 4 forced fumbles, so he affects the game in multiple ways. This to me is a match made in heaven and I wouldn’t be shocked to see The Titans add an outside linebacker on day 2, to continue the rejuvenation of the front 7.
#26, Atlanta Falcons – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Atlanta are definitely a candidate to trade back as their roster is pretty deep in most areas but here they take the Crimson Tide tackle who blew up the National Championship game with Alabama limiting Georgia to 142 yards in the second half. Payne is super strong and a great technician at the defensive tackle position. He’d come in, replace Dontari Poe and play at a high level from day 1 and the sky really is the limit for him.
#27, New Orleans Saints – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
New Orleans “won” the draft last year and they kick off this year’s edition with a pick for a player with big upside but also a low floor. I’m not sure Bryan starts right away in the league but he’s very athletic, tough (son of a navy SEAL) and has great burst and closing speed. Very much still a work in progress but the Saints are a good team with a veteran head coach and well established culture, so it could be a great landing spot
#28, Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Reid, S, Stanford
Pittsburgh would really like to get a Ryan Shazier insurance policy with this pick but all the premier linebackers are off the board at this point so they’ll have to address this need later on. Justin Reid is not a bad consolation prize in this instance. A very capable safety with great instincts and the ability and savvy to play either safety position. Reid has great athletic ability and ball skills. He also has the family name to live up to! Brother, Eric is currently a free agent having been released by the 49ers.
#29, Jacksonville Jaguars – Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
The Jaguars acquire one of the top members of this year’s deep interior offensive line class. They’ve already made an effort to reinforce this area with the big money signing of Alex Norwell. Hernandez would start in the other guard spot and solidify the interior of the Jags line. He’s fantastic in the run game, he real bulldozer of a man, which would be great news for Leonard Fournette. This move would also give Blake Bortles a little more protection and he could really use it. He’s on his last life in Jacksonville with the team winning in spite of him as opposed to because of him for much of last season.
#30, Minnesota Vikings – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Minnesota are another team picking late in the first round who could either trade back and acquire more picks or so what have them doing here and taking the best player available. Hurst is a top 10 talent on paper, a really pocket pusher who makes life difficult for offensive linemen and quarterbacks alike. He drops only because of a heart scare at the combine. Fortunately he’s been cleared to play football but I do think it’ll affect his draft stock. Fortunately for The Vikings, they’re looking pretty good along the defensive line and the picked up Sheldon Richardson on a one year, “prove it” deal. Hurst will be spending his first year learning and taking what comes to him but if Richardson doesn’t prove it, The Vikes have his replacement on board already.
#31, New England Patriots – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
New England have lost some players since the end of last season but none hurt then more than Tom Brady’s blindside protector leaving town. Kolton Miller is a big, strong and technically proficient linemen, he’s not the finished article by any stretch but he’s got the raw ingredients to become a top tackle in the NFL. The Patriots have got by with much worse on their line during TB12’s era since he gets the ball out of his hands so quickly that his blockers don’t have to block for that long. Miller could start right away and he absolutely fine and get better quickly. Miller was one the best tackles ever at the combine from an athletic point of view, I’m sure that Josh McDaniels would love to get Miller out in space on screens and swing passed blocking ahead of his stable of scat backs.
#32, Philadelphia Eagles – Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
Philly have the Lombardi and a roster which is primed to take a run at defending the trophy. They really don’t have too many holes on the roster. Cornerback is a possibility here but instead they opt to replace LeGarrett Blount and give Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement another running mate. Jones does have a light frame which works to his advantage as he is a classic one cut and go kind of back which touchdown potential on every touch. His frame holds him back though as he’s already been criticised by some for taking too many punishing hits so therefore may have to temper his once he comes up against bigger, faster and stronger opponents in the pros. If The Eagles picked him, Jones and Ajayi could form a deadly backfield tandem, which I’m sure the rest of the league will enjoy reading.
So that wraps it up. Please get in touch with me and let me know what your thoughts are on this opening mock draft. I’m available on Twitter @Wakefield90 so hit me up! All comments and abuse is welcome.
So as I said at the top, I’ll be dropping another mock later this week that will definitely include trades, so I’ll be cooking up some interesting scenarios with that one. Then following that I’ll release one more than a final mock on the eve of the draft before sitting down and analysing the draft in the week after it’s all gone down so keep your eyes peeled for all of that!
First attempt at a mock draft. Not the greatest on College football but this will be the first year I stay up and watch the draft and have a few opinions on who goes where.
To start off, we’ll go easy and assume that there is no more trading (however unlikely).
#1 Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold (QB)
Impressed in his pro day in the rain (how poetic). Browns will hopefully be sensible and sit him for the season to learn behind the master in not turning the ball over, Tyrod Taylor.
#2 New York Giants – Bradley Chubb (DE)
Really hard to tell what the Giants will do, with ranges including even trading back to acquire more picks. Wouldn’t be surprised to see them go for a QB (have worked out some QBs on pro days and they need a successor for Eli, unless they believe in Webb still). However, for me, with Jason Pierre-Paul going to the Bucs, i can see them using this pick to get their replacement.
#3 New York Jets – Josh Rosen (QB)
Could easily be Josh Allen here instead but one thing is for sure: they are selecting a QB and they HAVE to get it right. Jets paid a king’s ransom to move up just 3 spots and get one of the big 4 QBs rather than choose the one that falls in their lap. This signals to me that they have either Rosen or Allen in mind. They’ll be hoping Giants don’t take either Rosen or Allen so they have a choice, which would go about 10% to justifying the price they paid to get to #3.
#4 Cleveland Browns – Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB)
I don’t buy in to the Saquon Barkley draft pick here. You’ve just traded for Carlos Hyde, who granted isn’t Saquon, but is more than competent in the NFL. Alongside Duke Johnson, they have enough at RB. Drafting Barkley here muddles the backfield and could mean the Browns have too many riches to be able to effectively get the most out of them all. I think they go defence here (Chubb definitely if still available at #4) and Fitzpatrick can add to a tough defence on the back end and start from week 1.
#5 Denver Broncos – Saquon Barkley (RB)
Denver are in a really tough spot at 5, as there are lots of different combinations that can go before leaving them with a multitude of options. In this mock, we still have Barkley, Allen and that doesn’t even include a possiblility of trading back with either the Cardinals or Bills. I would suggest that this does happen. WIth Case Keenum being their QB for the next 2 years and Thomas and Sanders both still in Denver, i think they’ll upgrade with Barkley and it’ll look like the AFC west could be one of the best division in 2018.
#6 Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson (OL)
Seeing at how much Indianapolis have struggled on both sides of the ball (and lines) over the past few years and having received all those picks from the Jets, I think Indy go Quenton Nelson here. Need to protect the (hopefully) returning Andrew Luck and get more out of their run game to help both sides of the ball or risk falling way behind in the AFC South.
#7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Denzel Ward (CB)
Considering the moves Tampa have made in the offseason (Re-sign Mike Evans, Cameron Brate and beef up their pass rush), one of the final pieces to play out would be Tampa taking Denzel ward to help their secondary. He is potentially a shut down corner and would help stop the leaks that appeared last season and help the new formed D-Line to get pressure on opposing QBs.
#8 Chicago Bears – Trumaine Edwards (LB)
With the Offence being overhauled in Free agency, expect Chicago to go front 7 with their draft pick. Their secondary is fine with Fuller and Amukamara so I would be surprised if its not either Edwards, Vita Vea or Roquan Smith.
#9 San Francisco 49ers Derwin James (S)
Seen quite a few mocks with James heading to SF, potentially creating a new Legion of Boom in the NFC west. With Sherman and Witherspoon able to hold down the corners, James could make an impact straight away to compliment the offence nicely.
#10 Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith (LB)
Oakland will likely address their defence, like they have done in FA and will probably go best player available. Either Smith or Harold Landry could go here.
#11 Miami Doplhins – Vita Vea (DT)
With the release of Suh, I see the Dolphins maybe overpaying for Vea, who has rocketed up most people’s draft boards for the last few weeks.
#12 Buffalo Bills – Josh Allen (QB)
Whilst doing this mock and writing in Josh Allen at 12, it almost feels like steal of the draft for Buffalo. This will likely not happen when it comes to draft day as there will be teams that trade picks and it’ll be interesting to see where the Bills and Cardinals end up in Round 1. If they want a more mobile QB, they’ll go Baker Mayfield, but either should solve Buffalo’s QB situation.
#13 Washington Redskins – ???
Washington could go either Offensive Line or defensive line here. Their run blocking was not great last year, nor was the protection for Cousins. However, their defence also is depleted with a couple of people leaving in Free agency. VIta Vea would be a candidate if still there, as would Maurice Hurst. Good luck guessing the number 13 pick.
#14 Green Bay Packers – Courtland Sutton (WR)
Likely that Green Bay also go defence here but with the departure of Jordy Nelson, I am going to take a massive punt in that they go WR. No, it’s not Calvin Ridley either. Courtland Sutton has done nothing but help his draft stock in the combine and has great measurables.
#15 Arizona Cardinals – Baker Mayfield (QB)
In the unlikely event that Arizona stay at 15, they’ll still be likely getting a QB. either 1 of the big 4 that are left, or could go with Lamar Jackson. As Baker Mayfield is more NFL franchise type quarterback, I’ve taken the Cards to get a solution in a needy position.
#16 Baltimore Ravens – Calvin Ridley (WR)
Considering their awful offence ( and probably should be addressing the defence too), they’ll pair Ridley with Crabtree. Not that Ridley will be happy about it. Josh Jackson (CB) or Marcus Davenport (LB) are other considerations. They’ll likely be picking in the top 10 next season too, likely for a QB.
#17 Los Angeles Chargers – Da’Ron Payne (DT)
Funnily enough, wouldn’t be surprised to see a QB go here. But with realistically all 4 big guys gone, i don’t think they will chance Lamar Jackson, and will pick up a QB later in the draft. There isn’t much need for anything else for the Chargers except maybe someone to run stuff as Bosa and Ingram are nasty on the outside.
#18 Seattle Seahawks – anyone
Seattle are in a huge mess right now, most of the defence has been reshuffled, their offensive line was/is/will be terrible so Seahawks will likely take best player available approach. Considering they would probably want to trust WIlson, they’ll go offensive line, which brings Mike McGlinchey, Connor Williams, Kolton Miller or Isaiah Wynn in to play.
#19 Dallas Cowboys – Arden Key (OLB)
Dallas have done a lot this week in free agency to their O-Line and WR options, so even if Sutton or Ridley were available here, i doubt they would take them (though Dallas loves drafting a name). I think they will probably go defensive side of the ball and have gone for Key, who could be one of the best pass rushers in the draft, to help if Sean Lee gets injured again)
#20 Detroit Lions – Derrius Guice (RB)
Taking a bit of a punt here. Detriot need a running game. They have LeGarrette Blount signed from free agency, but i think they move on from Ameer Abdullah. Lions don’t have any gaping holes anywhere but they aren’t the most efficient either. They may go O-Line so other possibilities are Connor Williams or James Daniels to help with the run blocking.
#21 Cincinnati Bengals – O- Line
#22 Buffalo Bills – Defensive front 7 (Van der Esch/Marcus Davenport)
#23 Los Angeles Rams – Sam Hubbard (DE/OLB)
With the talented back end of the defence, Hubbard will bring more pressure up front, which proved costly in the playoffs last season.
#24 Carolina Panthers – WR
Carolina probably go best available WR here to go with Torrey Smith and Devin Funchess. As Sutton and Ridley are gone, next up are James Washington or Christian Kirk. Offensive line also not out of the question for Carolina.
#25 Tennessee Titans – Defence (front 7)
#26 Atlanta Falcons – Defence (front 7)
#27 New Orleans Saints – TE
As the Saints did not bring Jimmy Graham back home, it could signal that they will go tight end in the draft. Hayden Hurst or Dallas Goedert are 2 that spring to mind.
#28 Pittsburgh Steelers – Defence
As their offence looks to be all set, expect them to draft on defence.
#29 Jacksonville Jaguars – Lamar Jackson (QB)
As Blake Bortles got sympathy money and another year stay in Jacksonville, they could draft Lamar Jackson, his successor. The extra year could help his development in this type of offence, as it’s not the best fit for him, despite being NFL ready.
#30 Minnesota Vikings – Who knows?
Minnesota could go anywhere with their pick, possibly O-Line.
#31 New England Patriots – No Idea
Patriots have had somewhat of an overhaul so could go for anything from RB/WR to defensive help to replace Butler.
#32 Philadelphia Eagles – Not overly bothered
As you can probably tell, my depth in knowledge isn’t great and I’m t a big fan of the eagles for obvious reasons, so I don’t really care on who they draft. Gun to the head, probably an O-Lineman or TE