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NFL Draft 2021: Rough Diamonds Series: Linebackers

This is the penultimate part in the series where I take a quick look, position by position, at my favourite Day 3/Undrafted guys from the 2021 NFL Draft.

We’re now on to the Linebackers, a position that has been redefined somewhat over the last decade or so. In the old days, you had the big, ungainly tackling machine Inside Linebackers, and the elegant, explosive and athletic Outside Linebackers. These days the Outside guys have morphed with the Defensive Ends to create the new “Edge” position. The old school, thumping, inside guys have become somewhat redundant and replaced with the new “Off-Ball Linebacker” position. This position requires athleticism, high football IQ and a leadership attitude and it’s widely regarded now as the Quarterback of the Defense

This wasn’t a great crop of Linebackers for the 2021 draft, but here are three guys, with differing skill sets, who may grab a roster spot.

Cameron McGrone: Michigan (Round 5, Pick 177 New England)

McGrone was a 4-star recruit who arrived on campus weighing in around 210lbs. Michigan were happy to redshirt him in 2018, as they had decent upperclassmen talent at linebacker on the roster, and it allowed McGrone to hit the weight room and fill out his frame. 

He was ready to go in 2019, and at times during that season he looked like the second coming of Bobby Wagner. He originally subbed in for an injured Josh Ross at Middle linebacker, but when Ross was healthy to return, they kept McGrone at his position as he’d done so well there, and moved Ross over to the weakside. McGrone was so fast to the ball, diagnosing plays quickly and then cutting angles down and making tackles. It was hard to take your eyes off him as he was so impactful and was always around the ball, regardless of where the play finished up. He was sensational in the first four games I caught of him (Iowa, Illinois, Penn State and Notre Dame), and I was very excited when Michigan got to play Alabama in the Citrus Bowl to conclude the season. Here McGrone was slightly more exposed than he had been in previous games, but the level of talent ‘Bama put out on the field was scary, so no alarm bells were ringing. He still made some great splash plays and although there were a few mental lapses in this game, it was hard to criticise considering his relative inexperience, and strength of the opponent. Although not draft eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft I knew he’d be one of “my guys’ ‘ for the following season. 

Because of COVID, the 2020 season was never going to be described as normal for any teams, but the BIG 10 suffered more than most by dithering about whether to have a season, and if they did, when to start it. When they finally got around to starting it, Michigan would only get to play six games which wasn’t ideal, and neither was McGrone’s level of play. He got hurt in their 2nd game of the season, a loss to rival Michigan State. He battled through the injury to play in the next three games, but ultimately ended up tearing his ACL against Rutgers, and missing the final game against Penn State. McGrone didn’t look right at all in 2020, but when you factor in the niggling injury and the whole Covid situation the team was faced with, this probably played a big part in his drop off in play. 

I was surprised he declared for the 2021 draft. He could have rehabbed his knee at Michigan and been good to go for the new season and try and get back to that level of play we saw in 2019. He would also have got to do a full workout for scouts at the combine, proving his return to health and showcasing his natural athleticism. But by deciding to enter the draft, he couldn’t work out for teams, and with that 2020 tape still fresh in their minds, he fell to the 5th Round, where New England took a chance on him. 

Head Coach Bill Belichick has already stated,

“We’re prepared certainly to not have him available this year”

Hinting that the Patriots will be quite happy to stash him away on Injured Reserve for the season and let him rehab properly. They have Dont’a Hightower back this season after he opted out of last year, but his contract is up after this season, so if McGrone can come back healthy, he’ll get a chance to compete for that starting role in 2022. This may be a Fifth-Round player but he flashes first round ability, and if all goes well in the rehab, he may end up sparkling more than any other of my rough diamonds so far.

Erroll Thompson: Mississippi State (Undrafted, Atlanta).

Thompson seemed to have been at Mississippi State forever. He had started the last 3 years for the bulldogs, and at times had flashed the ability to be an NFL starter, but consistency and questionable athleticism led to him slipping out of the draft.

First the good points. Thompson has plus instincts, particularly against the run, getting downhill quick and filling gaps. Thompson is a physical tackler displaying good technique and is around the ball a lot. He was used as a blitzer with a decent amount of success, demonstrating a good bull rush and ability to cause disruption to the pocket. He played over the 250lb mark, which is big for a modern Linebacker, but he was still able to move well, particularly in pursuit. He is a natural leader on the field and was a two-time team captain, but I felt what I saw in 2019 was better than 2020, although this may have been due to the oddness of last season.

Now the negative for Thompson is simple, lack of NFL athleticism. He can get to short areas quickly, but the long speed is always a question. He can also make plays in coverage when it’s in front of him, but when asked to turn and run with players it’s a different story. This was confirmed with his pro day numbers, when even though he cut some weight to run quicker (down to 239lbs), he could still only manage a 4.81/40, a 4.56 short shuttle and a 7.66 3-cone. 

These are below average for the position and although there’s enough good tape and intangibles to work with, Thompson probably profiles as a two-down player in the NFL and in this day and age there isn’t as much need for this type of Linebacker. I still thought there was enough there to be a late round pick, but he fell out of the draft and landed with Atlanta as an UDFA. The Falcons have a new staff in place and will be trying to stamp their image into this defense, so by picking up Thompson they may be suggesting there is a role for him, as he is the only Linebacker of that type currently on the roster. I believe he has enough smarts to overcome his lack of great athleticism and hopefully if he doesn’t make the final roster, he will at least land on the practice squad.

Photo Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer Justin Hilliard vs. Clemson

Justin Hilliard: Ohio State (Undrafted, San Francisco)

How can a 5-star recruit at Ohio State go under the radar? Injuries and lack of opportunity is the answer for Hilliard, who arrived in Columbus as the top prospect in Ohio and the 35th Nationally in 2015.

His first two seasons were blighted by two separate biceps injuries, limiting him to only three games. He finally saw the field consistently in 2017 but was limited to mainly special teams, as the talent ahead of him on the depth chart was plentiful. It was a similar story in 2018 where he was a special teams demon, but could only take limited snaps on defense. With a chance to compete for a starting spot in 2019, the injury bug cruelly struck again, this time an achilles injury in spring training; this put him behind others once the season had started. However, he did manage to start three games during the season and he certainly made an impression with 3 tackles-for-loss and an Interception.

Even with a run to the National Championship game in 2020, a Covid shortened Big 10 season for Ohio State meant that Hilliard only played 6 games, but he managed 231 snaps, which was almost as many as the previous four seasons combined. Finally, injury free, the run of games in 2020 proved that Hilliard belonged at this level, and some of his play was certainly that of a former 5-star player. He could play as the overhang defender or as an off ball linebacker and showed enough athleticism, and football IQ, to command that playing time. He was dominant in the Big Ten Championship win against Northwestern, making a crucial Interception in that game, and had a combined 3 tackles-for-loss in the College Football Play-Off’s Semi Final against Clemson, and the Final against Alabama.

He delivered on the biggest stages, but with that terrible injury history and a very average pro day workout, Hilliard was almost certainly going undrafted, but he has signed on as a UDFA with San Francisco and this looks a very good fit. The 49ers defense rarely has three linebackers on the field, but Hilliard could challenge for that third spot, battling Azeez Al-Shaair and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles in training camp. Worst case here I feel Hilliard would be a special teams monster. In a team like this that has great starters in place already, the depth guys must be able to play on the coverage units, and do it well. I think this will be his ticket to the final 53-man roster.

Thanks for staying with this series, last up will be the Defensive Backs…..


@lordluckenFollow Keith on Twitter @lordlucken

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NFL Draft 2021: Rough Diamonds Series: Wide Receivers

Welcome to part three of my series where I take a quick look, position by position, at my favourite Day 3/Undrafted guys from the 2021 NFL Draft.

Today it’s all about the Wide Receivers.

They come in all shapes, sizes and athletic ability, and are vitally important to every NFL offense, in this increasingly pass happy league. We know that every year millions of Wide Receivers get picked in the draft (well 35 actually), but with teams keeping five or more on their active roster for the season, the demand will always be high. Because we scout so many receivers, there will always be plenty of “my guys” who fall to the late rounds of the draft, or even undrafted, and I’ve picked a few of my particular favourites to talk about here.

Seth Williams, Auburn (Denver, round 6, Pick 219)

This could easily have been about Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State or Amon-Ra St.Brown, USC, but they both went in Round 4, and I want to delve a little deeper into this group of Wide Receivers.

Williams was a four-star recruit who turned down Alabama, Florida and Georgia among others, to play for the Auburn Tigers. He put together 3 very good years of tape, and even in a stuttering Auburn offense put up decent career numbers (2124 yards, 16.1 average, 17 TD’s). He was the number one receiving target whenever he was on the field at Auburn, and he went into the 2020 season carrying a possible first-round draft grade. He has great size at 6’3, 211lbs, and as you’d expect he uses this well to box out and shield smaller defensive backs from the ball. He’s also a menace with the ball in his hand, thundering over smaller cornerbacks and safeties. A capable three level threat), he has legit 4.49/40 speed, and his jumping numbers at his pro day (37inch Vertical, broad jump of just over 10 feet) show the explosiveness he possesses and sometimes demonstrates.

Unfortunately for him, this past season he flunked his two biggest challenges when he went up against Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain who were the 8th and 9th picks respectively. The South Carolina game is where we first saw the national recognition for Jaycee Horn, he owned Williams all day long, and even bagged a couple of Interceptions too. If anything, it got worse for Williams against Alabama and Surtain, as they limited him to just 3 catches for 17 yards.

These two games in particular highlighted Williams’ problems; his hands are inconsistent, routes can be sloppy, and confidence can be shot early on in games. He can make a spectacular catch on one play and then drop a routine one the next and clearly relies on athleticism to win, and that works against a good portion of the Auburn schedule, but against the biggest teams he fails to shine. 

Now obviously poor outings against the eighth and ninth overall picks shouldn’t totally ruin your draft stock, and when you take his athletic testing and decent other game tape on board, plus the fact that the QB play at Auburn was inconsistent, all isn’t lost for Williams. I felt he was a late third, early fourth grade, so going over two rounds later I think represents good value. Interestingly, he’ll get a chance at redemption against Surtain as he’ll face him every day in practice now the Broncos drafted him too!

Dazz Newsome, North Carolina (Chicago, Round 6 Pick 221)

Dazz Newsome isn’t just a great name, he was also one of the best pure slot receivers in the draft! He’s had a very productive 4-year career with the Tar Heels, although he saw his numbers regress a bit this past season, as star Wide Receiver Dyami Brown took a bigger role in the Offense. Newsome is potent in the slot, running quick precise routes and capable of making cuts off either foot, opening the entire field up to him. Although the big-time plays were mainly Brown’s, Newsome was often relied upon to convert on third downs, with Quarterback Sam Howell showing confidence in his route running, and getting open. His quickness gets him separation, and he can make initial tacklers miss, but lacks the long speed to consistently make big chunk plays. 

He was certainly a fun watch these past two seasons with Howell throwing to him. He consistently made key plays in the big shootout win against Virginia Tech, and had his best game of the year against a not so great Wake Forest secondary, ripping off 182 yards on 10 catches and two touchdowns. The North Carolina Offense was littered with star names, but don’t undervalue Newsome’s role in making them as potent as they were.

It was obvious on tape, but Newsome’s pro day numbers confirmed that he was a below average athlete. Those numbers give him a low ceiling, and NFL teams would rather take a chance on a less polished, more athletic receiver with upside, which is why Newsome lasted to the sixth round.

He was picked by the Bears, and this is a very interesting landing spot for him. Chicago has Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney as their outside guys, but the slot position is wide open. The current third wide receiver is Anthony Miller, but they are actively trying to trade him, so they signed Damiere Byrd, who had a decent season with the Patriots last year, to be the premier slot guy. There’s also Javon Wims ahead of him, but at the moment his biggest claim to fame is punching New Orleans safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and getting a two-game ban for it. Newsome’s skill set is very similar to Byrd’s, and the latter only signed a one-year deal, so Newsome has a shot to not only make the final roster, but to see some significant snaps, and with a rookie quarterback at the helm, someone like Newsome may become Justin Fields’ best friend very quickly.

Photo Credit: WTKR

Jonathan Adams, Arkansas State (Undrafted, Detroit Lions)

I must admit I’m a sucker for these big, hulking wide receivers, who make contested catches look routine. Over the last few drafts, I’ve been super high on Jaleel Scott (Baltimore Round 4, 2018), Hakeem Butler (Arizona Round 4, 2019) and Collin Johnson (Jacksonville Round 4, 2020), however they have hardly set the world on fire. In fact, Scott is currently without a team and Hakeem Butler is on his second team already, and has no career catches, so they both look like busts. You’d think with this failure rate I’d look elsewhere, but no, I’m going to have another crack at a big body receiver, and this time I’m going even further down the line, into the undrafted waters.

Adams fits my size profile at 6’2 and 210lbs, and he certainly looks the part when going up against much smaller cornerbacks in the Sun Belt conference. Arkansas State, to their credit, managed to get a decent schedule together this past season, and because there weren’t many other games scheduled during those first few weeks of the season.

They’d scheduled in Memphis and Kansas State, their two biggest tests on paper, for weeks 1 and 2, and Adams made key play after key play in both of them. He snagged three touchdowns in the upset win over Kansas State, constantly outfighting the Wildcats corners with sheer physicality. I caught another three games over the season, a monstrous game against Georgia State (15 catches, 177 yards, 2 TD’s), and games against the University of Louisiana Lafayette and Texas State where he had 236 yards combined. 

Adams displays great hands and never body catches a thing, he looks smooth and natural and can out-fight any corner that he comes up against. He was never going to beat anyone with speed, but what he does after the catch is impressive, just bulldozing his way through petrified defenders. If you just take his 40 time (4.59) then you can see why the league would be lower on him than me, but there’s more to him than that. His pro day jumps were elite (39 inch Vertical, 11 foot broad jump) and this is clear on tape too, effortlessly leaping and body adjusting to balls in the air. His 7.04 second three cone is also above average for the position, and if you factor in his size then it’s a really good number. 

I had a Fourth-round grade on him, clearly higher than most, but I was still shocked and disappointed that he went undrafted. Now he wisely signed on with the Lions, who before the draft had arguably the worst receiving corps in the whole NFL, so he’s given himself a chance to battle for a roster spot. He’ll be up against fellow undrafted players who I really like in Javon McKinley (Notre Dame) and Sage Surratt (Wake Forest), as well as fourth round draft pick Amon-Ra St.Brown, but this roster is so poor that there may be enough room for three of them to make the team, and I hope Adams is one of them.

I guess the bottom line is, if it doesn’t pan out for Adams, I’ll just go for another contested catch monster in 2022 and so on, until I finally hit on one!

I hope you’re enjoying this series, next up will be the Tight Ends!

Jump to the quarterbacks article here or running backs here

Follow Keith on Twitter @LordLucken

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NFL Draft 2021: Rough Diamonds Series: Running Backs

This is part two of the series where I take a quick look, position by position, at my favourite Day 3 and undrafted guys from the 2021 NFL Draft.

Today is the turn of the Running Backs, a position that can cause a lot of disagreements amongst draft fans. The belief these days is that you can find running backs later in the draft, who can make a significant contribution to your team. There are still teams though willing to take that chance, on what they would consider an elite running back, with a premium round one pick.

There were two selected in the first round this year, Najee Harris and Travis Etienne who went back to back in the first round, and typically, both have caused big debates in their new team’s fanbases. There is no argument about the talent of these guys being worthy of a first-round pick, it’s just the debate of positional value.

There were 19 running backs selected in the draft and 15 of them were on day 3! I’ve chosen a couple to take a look at, and one intriguing undrafted guy too.

Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech (Chicago, round 6, pick 217)

Herbert spent four, pretty unproductive years at Kansas before grad transferring to Virginia Tech for the 2020 season. The Hokies are not known for producing top quality running backs, and even their two highest selected in the past ten years, Ryan Williams (38th overall in 2011) and David Wilson, (32nd overall in 2012), were both big time busts, rushing for just 668 yards combined for their NFL careers

Herbert certainly took advantage of the weak running back room he found in Blacksburg, starting ten games and rushing for 1182 yards at an eye catching 7.68 average per attempt. He has that bowling ball stature (5’9 210lbs), which makes him very difficult to bring down one-on-one, and his contact balance is certainly one of the best in this class. Consistent in gaining additional yardage that others wouldn’t, either through sheer power, or vision to see emerging run lanes, often breaking good chunk runs. More quick than fast, he can shift through the line with those nimble feet and then get to second gear quickly.

Inconsistent quarterback play at Virginia Tech meant that they relied heavily on Herbert to carry the load, and even though opponents knew this, and stacked the box to stop then run, he still kept putting up big numbers. He also only gave up one fumble in college, which is excellent considering his running style and the fact that he had over 500 career carries. 

However, there are some knocks to his game, which of course is why he was drafted where he was. For me he needs work in pass protection. Very willing to engage pass rushers, but he is inconsistent in the angles he takes, which was very evident from the Clemson tape this past year. He is a good enough athlete for the position, but not a great one, and when you’re a smaller back you probably need an athletic trump card, which he doesn’t have. He can also overdo his lateral movement, trying to constantly find that big play, instead of just getting upfield and grinding out the yards.

I watched five games of Herbert this year and he was consistently good in each one, including a blow-out loss to Clemson. He carried a fifth-round grade for me, so to be taken at the back end of round six is good value. He will have to battle to make this Chicago roster, what with David Montgomery entrenched as the starter, and Tarik Cohen on the team too, but the latter is coming off a torn ACL and has a very cuttable contract after this season, so I can see Herbert being able to take carries if Cohen isn’t healthy. 

Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis (Philadelphia, round 5 pick 150)

I’ll start by saying that I was never that high on Gainwell. Before the season started, we had draft analysts pushing him hard as RB3, and that was way too rich for me, but as happens a lot during a season, the needle got pushed too far the other way, and now I feel Gainwell is a steal.

The obvious knock on him is that we have just 1 year of tape to go over, and that’s from 2019 as he opted out of this past season. We all like running backs with less tread on their tyres, but Gainwell has just 235 college rushing attempts, which is a very small sample size indeed. What he did with those carries, and his 57 career catches, was special though. A classic gadget, twinkle toes runner, he’s best work is done on plays that get him in space, where his twitch and make you miss ability is elite. An elegant runner, his feet are always moving with no wasted movement at all. Showed versatility by lining up in the slot and as an outside receiver and showcased some excellent hands as well as finding the soft zones to work in too. 

His final college game was also against the toughest opponent he would face, Penn State in the prestigious Cotton Bowl. He may have produced his lowest rushing output of the season in this game (9 rushes for 34 yards and a TD), but he was effective as a receiver (7 catches for 77 yards), going against a top Big Ten defense. One play that stands out, and it’s easily viewed on every social media platform, is him totally annihilating star Penn State linebacker (and twelfth overall pick) Micah Parsons on a blitz pick up. It’s a play of beauty, technically flawless and one of my moments of the 2019 season.

Of course, we do have to address the problem that Memphis University seems to have with their inability to read a tape measure. Gainwell was listed by the University at 5’11 195lbs, decent not great size, but certainly workable. At his pro day he was measured at 5’8 201lbs, so somehow in a year he lost 3 inches. This didn’t overly affect his stock, as he was never going to be suited to an every down role in the NFL, but this does make you wonder why the universities lie like this about prospect’s measurables. 

Now Gainwell has landed in Philly, he has a chance to demand touches in this offense. Miles Sanders is the starter and Boston Scott is a nice change up guy, although he will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season, so if Gainwell impresses he may give the Eagles a decision to make heading into the 2022 season.

Photo Credit: UB Athletics

Jaret Patterson, Buffalo (Undrafted, Washington Football Team)

Jaret, has a twin brother James who also plays for the University of Buffalo, but as a Linebacker. The story goes that the twins wanted a package deal to play together, and it was James who was getting all the offers whilst Jaret was getting constantly overlooked. Buffalo took a chance on them both, and it’s Jaret who has repaid them greatly. In three seasons he has amassed 3884 yards, at a 6.1 average and a healthy 52 Touchdowns, and in a two-game span this past season, he rushed for 710 yards and 12 touchdowns, just ludicrous numbers. Now this is against MAC opponents, so not the top level of competition to say the least, but this is a case where the production warrants tape checking. 

I got five games in for this year, and one from the previous season in 2019, and what you see is just dominance at that level. A very quick decision maker, there’s very little hesitation in his game and he gets through the hole at speed and then onto the second level. Although he is small (5’7 195lbs), he is stacked, and that muscle allows him to run up the middle with no fear whatsoever. Patterson isn’t a massive tackle breaker as he does tend to go down on initial contact, but the holes the Buffalo Offensive Line were creating for him were so big that no one could get their hands on him in the first place. 

With Patterson, pass protection is inconsistent and they rarely threw the ball to him, so he’ll need to show improvement there to see the field at the next level. The biggest knock though probably was his athletic testing. You can afford to be one of small or slow, but you can’t afford to be both, and unfortunately he ran 4.59/40 at 195lbs and the agility drill numbers were below average too.

I still had him as RB 8 in my rankings with a fourth-round grade, so it’s pretty surprising that he fell out of the draft completely. He has signed on with the Washington Football Team, and there is a path to the 53-man roster if he has a good camp. In front of him are veterans JD McKissic, Peyton Barber and Lamar Miller, but they will all be unrestricted free agents after the 2021 season, and will be cuttable before the season starts if he impresses.

This is a guy you do not back against, and he will be one of those running backs that sticks around in the NFL, and is productive, even though the measurables would tell you he shouldn’t be.

If you enjoyed reading this one, here is the link to the article on rough diamonds at the quarterback position that hit Full 10 Yards last week.

Next in this series I’ll be looking at some day 3 Wide Receivers….

Give Keith a follow on twitter @LordLucken

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BEST DRAFT PICKS BY EACH TEAM

I am still in draft mode and enjoying the process of piecing together all that happened throughout the event.

Everybody loves watching and reacting to each pick as they are announced and you begin to get a picture forming of which teams are having a strong draft.  Once the dust has settled, it is fun to start reviewing each NFL team’s final draft class and who are the standout selections.

This is what we are going to do now.  With a few extra names inevitably mentioned to enhance the context of how teams built their class, join me as I offer my favourite pick from each NFL team.

AFC EAST

BUFFALO BILLS – Spencer Brown, OT, Round 3, Overall Pick 93
A 6’8”, over 300lbs strong offensive tackle with the athletic profile of a running back.  Out of small-school Northern Iowa, I had hoped Brown would ascend into the third round, which is where the Bills nabbed him.  They focused on defensive line early before taking Brown, a move designed to solidify depth at OT to help keep Josh Allen in the pocket and, with Brown’s quick movement skills, he can contribute to a run game that struggled last season.  Brown immediately celebrated in true Buffalo tradition…

Buffalo Bills 3rd Round Draft Pick Spencer Brown Join Bills Mafia by jumping through Table

MIAMI DOLPHINS – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Round 1, Overall Pick 6
The super-fast Jaylen Waddle was a great selection for the Dolphins to start their draft.  He will once again hook up with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who he played with for a couple of years at Alabama.  That familiarity will help them both next season.  Waddle is as capable as any receiver from this draft of breaking a game open, due to his speed and yards-after-catch ability.  He can also make plays on special teams.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – Christian Barmore, DT, Round 2, Overall Pick 38
Another Alabama prospect with a high ceiling.  Barmore is a first round talent and New England traded up to make sure they got him at the start of day two.  He’s a big-game player with powerful technique and the ability to push blocks backwards and hit gaps.  It has been a busy off-season for the Patriots with many new faces arriving and Barmore has the skills to play early on the interior of the defensive line.

NEW YORK JETS – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, Round 1, Overall Pick 14
Yes, the Jets took my guy Zach Wilson to be their new quarterback with the second overall pick, but my favourite part of their draft was actually this one.  They traded up nine picks to get the versatile Vera-Tucker, who can play at both tackle and guard.  His skill set should see him play along the line straight away; I hope they put Vera-Tucker at left guard next to the Jets’ first round selection from last year, Mekhi Becton.  How about that?  No worries for Zach Wilson from that side!  One last thing of note on this draft class for the Jets: They drafted two players named Michael Carter (the second of which is named Michael Carter II).  Wonderful!

AFC NORTH

BALTIMORE RAVENS – Rashod Bateman, WR, Round 1, Overall Pick 27
Year after year, no matter who the general manager is, the Baltimore Ravens have a habit of making the draft process look easy.  They began with the selection of Bateman in the first round.  The Ravens passing game needs improving and Bateman will be a viable target as a rookie, wherever he is lined up on the offense.  Throughout the draft, Baltimore found value, including another good receiver in Tylan Wallace in round four.  Both he and Bateman are exciting options to have come into the team.

CINCINNATI BENGALS – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Round 1, Overall Pick 5
With the way the board was going to fall, Cincinnati were always going to be in a nice spot at the fifth overall pick.  Getting offensive tackle Penei Sewell to protect quarterback Joe Burrow would have been great; instead selecting Burrow’s old LSU buddy Ja’Marr Chase feels like a decision that will excite the offense and the duo should hit the ground running.  The two broke records together and won a National Championship in college and I look forward to seeing them play with each other again in the Bengals uniform.

CLEVELAND BROWNS – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Round 2, Overall Pick 52
The Cleveland Browns had a good draft, addressing needs and finding good value along the way.  Owusu-Koramoah is a tough, fast linebacker with coverage skills, who was expected to be a first rounder.  The ex-Notre Dame defender slid, reportedly due to health concerns, and the Browns traded up to get him in the second.  He can be placed in different areas of the formation and will be a great fit to the Browns’ scheme.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS – Quincy Roche, EDGE, Round 6, Overall Pick 216
I’m not completely sure what to make of Pittsburgh’s draft class.  They found good talent, including a shiny new running back in Najee Harris in round one, but I don’t think they addressed the areas of concern early enough.  The selection of Roche, a smart and athletic edge rusher, was a highlight.  He had great production at Temple and as a Miami Hurricane.  I especially like the value here; the Steelers got Roche in the sixth round.  He will fit in Pittsburgh’s pass rush rotation, doing so from a two-point stance out wide.

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

AFC SOUTH

HOUSTON TEXANS – Garret Wallow, LB, Round 5, Overall Pick 170
Only five picks for the Houston Texans, across the middle rounds.  They chose to concentrate on the offensive skill positions with their first three selections, then in round five turned to defense and TCU’s Garret Wallow, who is one of my sleepers in the draft at linebacker.  Wallow was a production machine at college, a downhill thumper when bursting to a tackle and he also has good coverage ability.  He stays in the state of Texas and I expect him to push for a starting role early in his NFL career.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – Kwity Paye, DE, Round 1, Overall Pick 21
Given the depth in this year’s offensive tackle class, it was a little surprising the Colts did not find a starting LT during the process.  An area that does need improving is pass rush and Indianapolis looked to sort this out early by taking Kwity Paye.  He is a really nice scheme fit and can contribute from various spots along the defensive line; the Colts can try him off the edge and also push him further inside the formation on certain downs.  I expect Paye to push for a starting role immediately.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Round 1, Overall Pick 1
We all knew it was coming.  Long before we heard the words “With the first overall pick…”.  Now finally, Trevor Lawrence is officially a Jaguar.  Jacksonville had a pretty good draft overall and also took Lawrence’s Clemson teammate Travis Etienne in the first round to add at RB.  Lawrence is of course the headline act, with a top-class skill set that has had him set to be a franchise quarterback since his freshman college year.  I cannot wait to watch him play on Sunday’s.  Jacksonville fans need to enjoy this moment and get behind Lawrence, accept that there may be some early teething issues and embrace that they have perhaps the most gifted QB prospect to hit the NFL in the last 20 years.

TENNESSEE TITANS – Elijah Molden, CB, Round 3, Overall Pick 100
The Titans had some holes to fill on their depth chart within the defensive backs.  Last year they drafted cornerback Kristian Fulton, who was one of my favourites in 2020, then in the first round this year they selected CB Caleb Farley and added Elijah Molden in the third.  I thought selecting Molden to play the slot or deep safety role was excellent when added to those other two names.  Those are three really talented players who could be roaming the secondary together for years to come.  Good luck trying to pass on Tennessee!

AFC WEST

DENVER BRONCOS – Javonte Williams, RB, Round 2, Overall Pick 35
Another team that appeared to put together a solid class were the Denver Broncos.  They were also rumoured to be close to a deal with the Packers for disgruntled quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  Denver could have had a great weekend!  There is still a good chance of getting Rodgers in June.  The highlight of their draft was trading up a few places to grab North Carolina running back Javonte Williams.  He has a bit of everything to his rushing game and would have been sought after at the top of the second round.  I also liked Denver’s selection of offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz in the third.  Whether or not it’s Rodgers at QB, Williams should be a valuable contributor as a rookie.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – Creed Humphrey, C, Round 2, Overall Pick 63
The offensive line for the Chiefs will have a totally new look to it when the 2021 season begins, following the business they did in free agency.  Humphrey will also be a welcome addition; a first round talent who slid all the way to Kansas City at the end of round two.  He is capable of fighting for a starting place instantly and this is a great value pick.  Another of which was when the Chiefs took offensive guard Trey Smith in the sixth.  Talk about the rich getting richer.  I bet the Chiefs draft room could not believe their luck when Humphrey fell into their lap.

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS – Malcolm Koonce, EDGE, Round 3, Overall Pick 79
I felt as though the Raiders had an inconsistent draft.  They seemed to spend too many picks on the same area of the field.  My favourite moment from them was the selection of Malcolm Koonce in the third round.  If you listened to the EDGE episode of our Full10Yards scouting podcast, you would have heard that both Lee and I like Koonce as a sleeper at the position.  I was still pleasantly surprised he made it into day two and the variety in his pass rushing makes him an exciting prospect.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS – Rashawn Slater, OT, Round 1, Overall Pick 13
Unlucky for some.  Pick number 13 was not so for the Chargers.  Having already found a new starting quarterback last year in Justin Herbert, the next-best thing is finding a new offensive tackle to protect him.  They certainly found that in Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater, a strong and technically brilliant talent.  I would have said that Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater were the only two OT’s worth trading into the top 10 for.  As it happened, the Chargers did not need to move and still got their guy.  Great drafting.

NFC EAST

DALLAS COWBOYS – Jabril Cox, LB, Round 4, Overall Pick 115
Jabril Cox is one of my favourite players in this entire draft class.  A talented coverage linebacker who moved during his college career from North Dakota State to LSU, putting up great production at both along the way.  I was expecting that Cox would have a chance to rise into the second round, so was disappointed to see him still on the board in the fourth.  The Cowboys made some strange selections, but they got this one right.  Cox is a quality linebacker prospect and Dallas got him at good value here.

NEW YORK GIANTS – Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Round 2, Overall Pick 50
A good draft class for the New York Giants, who set about adding to a defense that looked promising last season.  Ojulari was my top EDGE player pre-draft and unfortunately dropped out of the first round with the dreaded injury red flags.  His skill set fits the New York Giants defensive scheme nicely and his potential is sky high.  Ojulari can be a part of the rotational pass rush as a rookie.  As an added bonus, New York were able to trade down a few places and still make this pick.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – DeVonta Smith, WR, Round 1, Overall Pick 10
The Eagles traded up a couple of places to guarantee themselves DeVonta Smith.  I like the fit here; some extra star-power is needed in the Eagles receiving group and Smith will challenge all types of defensive coverages from different spots on the formation.  It’s a case of friends reunited once again, as Philadelphia will likely start the season with Jalen Hurts at quarterback, who was teammates with Smith at Alabama.

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Round 2, Overall Pick 51
There is a nice balance to the class that Washington came away with.  They took advantage of the deep number of tackles and selected Samuel Cosmi in the middle of the second.  Cosmi is a rangy and athletic player who will be in contention to start for Washington early at either OT position.  His quick movement works well in open space, so he can have an impact as a run blocker.  A close second and an honourable mention here goes to Washington’s selection of WR Dyami Brown in round three.  Brown will really stretch the field for the offense.

Photo Credit: Black and Teal

NFC NORTH

CHICAGO BEARS – Justin Fields, QB, Round 1, Overall Pick 11
Bravo, Chicago!  Perhaps THE moment of the first night was when the Bears decided to deal with the Giants to move up from pick 20 to 11 and make Justin Fields their new signal caller.  Fields should not have fallen this far; the ex-Ohio State quarterback is super-talented.  He can make all the throws and has a great mentality, so I expect him to grow and succeed in the NFL.  Whatever your opinions on current veteran Chicago QBs Andy Dalton and (Super Bowl winner) Nick Foles, they are a great brain trust to help Fields develop.

DETROIT LIONS – Penei Sewell, QB, Round 1, Overall Pick 7
I thought the Lions may be one of the candidates to trade down before the draft started.  Then Penei Sewell fell to them and I bet they could not get the pick in quickly enough!  Even with the early run on quarterbacks it would not have been a reach for a team to make Sewell a top 5 selection.  Detroit took the opportunity to add Sewell to a tough-looking offensive line where he will help protect new QB Jared Goff and assist a rushing attack that was near the bottom of the league last season.  The Lions found good value throughout their draft, and it all began by taking the best offensive lineman in the class.

GREEN BAY PACKERS – Eric Stokes, CB, Round 1, Overall Pick 29
Aaron Rodgers may not have liked it, but Green Bay’s first round selection of Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes was my favourite of their draft.  I have been high on Stokes as a prospect over the last year and during the scouting process.  He has some nice scheme diversity to his game and the speed to take away quick throws instantly.  Stokes can potentially make a good CB tandem with Jaire Alexander in the secondary.  The Packers taking versatile O lineman Josh Myers in round two was also a good pick, but given the reports, he may not be blocking for Aaron Rodgers next season.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Round 1, Overall Pick 23
It’s another first round hit for the NFC North.  Riley Reiff’s exit in free agency made me feel sure the Vikings would target a new left tackle early.  To be able to deal with the Jets in the aforementioned trade, slide down to 23 overall and still get Christian Darrisaw was great business.  His zone blocking qualities will fit excellently in Minnesota and add some powerful body-moving that will create space for the running game.  As a result of the trade, the Vikings were able to add a bunch of talent over the three days.

NFC SOUTH

ATLANTA FALCONS – Kyle Pitts, TE, Round 1, Overall Pick 4
With the fourth overall pick, the Falcons made Kyle Pitts the highest selected tight end in NFL history.  They could not resist his all-round skill set and the dominant performances he produced in college while playing for Florida.  I like the fit with the Atlanta offense; Pitts will be another weapon to go with an already strong receiving group.  A huge positive is that he was able to be so productive while lining up at different spots along the offense.  Pitts has all of the potential to become one of the premier players at his position in the league.

CAROLINA PANTHERS – Terrace Marshall Jr, WR, Round 2, Overall Pick 59
Choosing a favourite pick from the list of the Panthers draft class is difficult as they made so many good picks.  In fact, I think Carolina may have had the best draft of all.  They found talent and value all the way through the rounds.  Carolina’s best moment came in the second round when LSU receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. fell to them, a player who fills a need and has previously worked under Carolina offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who you expect will know how to get the most out of Marshall Jr.  The best part of this for the Panthers?  They began the round at pick 39 and traded down twice, twenty places, and were still able to make this pick.  Good work.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – Paulson Adebo, CB, Round 3, Overall Pick 76
The Saints focused on defense in the opening three rounds.  Selecting edge rusher Payton Turner and linebacker Pete Werner with their first couple of picks, New Orleans then decided to fill a need at cornerback by picking Paulson Adebo.  The ex-Stanford CB comes with some risk having really played only one high-level season at college, but Adebo is physical with great movement skills and could hold down a role on the outside of the Saints secondary opposite Marshon Lattimore.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – Jaelon Darden, WR, Round 4, Overall Pick 129
The reigning Super Bowl champions have spent the off-season making sure to keep all of their starters from last season.  Tampa Bay then selected good rotational and backup players throughout the draft to fill their roster.  In the fourth round they picked North Texas receiver Jaelon Darden, a quick slot WR who will have a role on the depth chart.  The Buccaneers offense is exactly the type of situation Darden needed to thrive in at the next level and he could be a playmaker early in his pro career.

NFC WEST

ARIZONA CARDINALS – Rondale Moore, WR, Round 2, Overall Pick 49
Another division and another small, fast wide receiver prospect.  I thought this was a bit of an uninspiring draft from the Cardinals, albeit they did manage to fill some needs.  As long as Moore can stay healthy, he will operate as a gadget player across the Arizona formation while other receivers line up on the perimeter.  It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals attempt to get Moore to work on their offense.  I’d like to also mention Arizona’s decision to select versatile safety James Wiggins in the seventh.  He is one of my favourite players in this draft and could prove to be a steal.

LOS ANGELES RAMS – Bobby Brown III, DT, Round 4, Overall Pick 117
I really liked a few of the Rams’ mid-round picks.  They went for guys with upside that can be worked into their system.  Bobby Brown III is a high ceiling defensive tackle out of Texas A&M, who displays a good motor and the strength to fight blocks, with room to improve in terms of his technique.  With draftees like Brown III, this is the sort of situation you like to see them go to so they can realise their potential by learning from good veteran players.  In this case, he will have the chance to learn from the best DT in the league, Aaron Donald.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – Trey Sermon, RB, Round 3, Overall Pick 88
When choosing between my favourite draft picks for the 49ers, it came down to the two Trey’s.  Despite Justin Fields still being available, I like that San Francisco made quarterback Trey Lance the number three overall pick and think he has a real chance to start this season.  In the third round, the Niners traded up to take Ohio State running back Trey Sermon.  I’m a fan of his game and think he too can contribute to the offense early.  Sermon’s tough, tackle-breaking ability will help to gain yards in the right situations.  As Andy stated in his draft winners and losers article, this pick may not be good news for the running backs already on the roster, but Sermon’s style can be a valuable asset.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – Tre Brown, CB, Round 4, Overall Pick 137
Not much to choose from with the Seahawks, who made only three picks.  I expected them to address wide receiver and they did in round two with the selection of D’Wayne Eskridge, a fast, reliable playmaker who also has value in the return game.  Seattle then filled a need in the secondary in taking Oklahoma cornerback Tre Brown.  He likes to play in close coverage and has positional versatility; Brown can line up on the outside and in the nickel.  I think the Seahawks will enjoy developing Brown’s skill set and figuring out where he best fits on their defense.

By Liam Lodge (@Liam66NFL).

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NFL Draft 2021: Rough Diamonds Series: Quarterbacks

The Draft will always be the preferred way to build your team. Yes, flashy big name, expensive free agents will please the fan bases, but it’s the draft where you build your core young players, whilst paying them much less than the guys on a second contract. Hit on a decent draft class, and your franchise will reap those rewards for at least 4 years, fail and you’ll have to overpay in the Free Agent market to rectify those mistakes.

Now everyone is familiar with the guys in the top 3 rounds, but the best franchises get the most out of their Day 3 selections. In this series I’ll be taking a quick look at, position by position, late round and undrafted players who I had high on my board, who may have a chance to make an impact on the team who selected them.

We’ll start, as always, with the Quarterbacks…..

Only 2 Quarterbacks got selected on Day 3, they were Ian Book of Notre Dame (Round 4, pick 133, New Orleans) and Sam Ehlinger of Texas (Round 6, Pick 218, Indianapolis). Both, whilst being fun to watch, have big arm strength concerns and get flustered under pressure, leading to bad decisions. I imagine neither will be more than third string material in the NFL, so I’m going to pick a couple of undrafted guys to talk about.

Jamie Newman,  Georgia/Wake Forest (Undrafted, Philadelphia)

Newman was thought of as a possible third round pick entering the year. He transferred from Wake Forest to Georgia after really impressing in the 2019 season for the Demon Deacons, but instead of competing for the starting job there, he decided to opt out of the season and enter the draft. It seemed a strange decision at the time, and ultimately it cost him being drafted.

At Wake Forest he ran a very heavy zone read/RPO offense, and he did it well. At 6’3 and 234lb he’s a big bruising runner, he consistently took runs up the middle and made good gains and had enough wiggle to make people miss too. He would make the correct read more often than not and showed a very good understanding of the offense he was running. Newman’s problems came when the offense was forced to throw the ball, either on obvious 3rd downs or whilst Wake Forest were chasing a big deficit. When teams knew he was throwing, his technique issues and accuracy problems showed up. He could certainly hit wow plays every now and then, and it was those plays that would draw you in and keep you believing, but those plays weren’t consistent enough. 

On the 2019 tape I graded, he had impressive outings against solid defenses in North Carolina and North Carolina State, but absolutely stunk it up against a very good Clemson team. I also had him looking good against Boston College, but he followed that up with an average performance against Louisville, so consistency was a big issue.

He did get a Senior Bowl invite, and this was a chance for teams to asses him for the first time in over a year, but those same inconsistencies came up in practice, looking great on one play and missing wide open receivers the next. This carried over into the game too, and his week in Mobile did little to ease the doubts teams already had.

Having said that, it still seemed that Newman’s 2019 tape would be enough to get him selected anywhere from the fifth round onwards (I had him as QB 10, sixth round grade), but he fell out of the draft altogether and landed as an undrafted free agent in Philadelphia.

Now Philly is a very interesting landing spot for him, as of course they have parted ways with Carson Wentz and we assume it will be Jalen Hurts running the show there now. Newman’s skill set is somewhat similar to Hurts, so he makes a nice back-up option to him, and he certainly seems to fit the system better than Joe Flacco, who the Eagles signed on a one year $3.5 Million deal. I can see Newman making the 53-man roster if he can have a good training camp and making Flacco expendable, but the worst case for him will be a practice squad slot running the scout team.

(AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Shane Buechele, Southern Methodist (Undrafted, Kansas City)

Buechele’s story is very interesting. He initially went to Texas as a heralded 4-star recruit for then head coach Charlie Strong. He started as a Freshman and Sophomore with mixed reviews and ended up losing his job to the aforementioned Sam Ehlinger in 2018.

He decided to transfer to SMU and put up 2 impressive seasons there. He led a very explosive offense, throwing to a trio of next level pass catchers in James Proche (Round 6 2020), Kylen Granson (Round 4 2021) and Reggie Roberson, who will be picked in next year’s draft. He certainly was fun to watch, and the 3 games I caught this year (Texas State, Tulane and Tulsa) showed development from his decent tape from 2019. 

Buechele carries an air of authority and leadership on the field, and when given time can make most NFL throws. The arm strength isn’t great, the deep balls can flutter on him a bit, but when SMU needed a play, Buechele would oblige more often than not. He’s a great, fun college quarterback but he’s lacking top end traits and size – Buechele measures 6’1 and 207lbs, and although it wasn’t surprising he went undrafted, I had him as QB 11 and a Sixth/Seventh round grade on him, and thought he would get selected at some point.

He, like Newman, has landed in a very interesting spot. Kansas City obviously have Patrick Mahomes but backing him up currently is Chad Henne. Henne did OK when he had to step in while Mahomes was injured last year for a game but is certainly expendable. Henne is on a cheap deal, but it runs out at the end of this year, so Kansas City may think it’s worth developing one of their younger guys. I do like the two other quarterbacks Buechele will be competing with (Jordan Ta’amu and Anthony Gordon), but he can beat those out with a good camp, and perhaps work his way up to Mahomes’ back-up in the not too distant future.

Who are your late round or even undrafted QB’s that you think could be gems? Let us know on Twitter @Full10YardsCFB or get in touch with me @LordLucken

Next up in this series will be the Running Backs…..

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How Bad Process led to the Worst Picks of the 2021 NFL Draft.

In life process doing things the right way matters. Sure you might have lucked out and got good results occasionally on a school test you hadn’t studied for, but if you put the work in every time you will always end up doing better. It’s the same in the real world. Sometimes you might fall into a great opportunity for a job by knowing the right person or being in the right place out of coincidence, but more often than not those who work harder will get where they want to be first. That rule is exactly the same in the NFL Draft. Over the long run, the teams who follow the right process will always come out on top. Those who don’t will inevitably fail at some point. To elucidate this point I have decided to take five of my least favourite picks from this years draft, and explain the five different examples of bad draft process behind them which makes them so poor. Let’s get into it…

Round 1, Pick 9 – Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB – Alabama

On the face of this, Patrick Surtain appears to be an absolute slam dunk pick for the Broncos. With excellent traits and strong college production Surtain was the cleanest defensive prospect in this draft, and even brings strong NFL bloodlines with him to the league. The Broncos needed to keep investing in their secondary, which is always good process regardless of how strong you think you are there, and so taking Surtain was an excellent pick. Well, without context that is. With context this is one of the worst picks of the entire draft. Not because of Patrick Surtain, he’s a wonderful player, but because of the player that was staring them right in the face. Justin Fields.

Justin Fields was my QB4 in this draft, but in my mind still ranked ahead of Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert from last years draft as a prospect. In most years he would be in hot contention for the first overall pick, yet somehow he slipped to the Broncos at 9. Taking Fields should have been a slam dunk pick for Denver who possess one of the most complete rosters in the NFL, but are just that one piece away from being contenders. That piece was Justin Fields. Instead they passed on him in favour of a Quarterback room currently consisting of Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater and Brett Rypien. At this point, that’s probably the worst in the entire league.

Drew Lock was objectively one of the worst starting Quarterbacks in the league last year, consistently holding back an offence that should have been one of the best in the NFL. There’s clearly talent within him, but the Broncos have no obligation to develop him further when they’ve already seen what he is at this point. When a prospect as rare as Fields is there for the taking, who is undeniably better than what you have in Lock, you have to take that leap. Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL, and you can’t afford to settle for mediocrity. Especially when that might be sugarcoating what Drew Lock is at this point. Passing on such a special talent because Drew Lock might become something against all evidence is terrible process. Denver had a great draft after Day 1, but in the years to come it will be defined by passing on Justin Fields.

Round 1, Pick 24 – Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB – Alabama

Do you ever just get the urge to drive out into the middle of nowhere, walk across a couple of fields, and scream into the abyss knowing nobody can hear you? That’s how I feel every single time a team takes a running back in the first round. Well, apart from this time. This time I had my Bengals hat on over my draft analyst hat and just burst out laughing, because this was possibly the worst pick the Steelers could have made. It isn’t just an issue of the running back position being significantly less valuable to teams than others however. It’s an issue of causality.

The Steelers picked Najee Harris because their run game was basically a non-factor last year, which meant that Defences were more than happy to drop linebackers into coverage to defend against the pass. That, alongside Big Ben’s lack of ability throwing down the field and unwillingness to consistently run play action, meant the Steelers had to depend on a very inefficient dink and dunk method of moving down the field. That inability to run the ball therefore prevented them from becoming an explosive offence, which led to the team collapsing late on in the season. Naturally then investing in creating a strong run game is a very good idea. Here’s the crux of the point though. The Steelers running woes were not caused by James Conner. They were caused by the poor play of the offensive line.

Running backs can have an impact impact on football games, but they are significantly impacted by the play of others around them. More so than any other position in football. They depend on having good run blocking in front of them to create movement at the line of scrimmage and provide gaps for them to hit. The Steelers offensive line was dreadful at that last year, ranking 31st in the league in PFF run blocking grades, and that inability to be a force in the trenches was a far bigger factor than whoever was running the rock. What’s worse is that the Steelers line got significantly worse during the off-season with Maurkice Pouncey, Matt Feiler and Alejandro Villanueva all out of the door. You wouldn’t think it possible for this line to get worse, but it did. So regardless of how much talent you add to your backfield, the only way to improve your running game is to invest in an offensive line. Anything else is superfluous. I like Najee Harris as a prospect, but this pick was like sticking a band aid on a broken leg.

Round 1, Pick 25 – Jacksonville Jaguars: Travis Etienne, RB – Clemson

I don’t want to harp on about how drafting running backs in the first round is a terrible idea, because at this point I’m just banging my head against the wall for no reason, but the Jaguars pick of Etienne touched on another aspect of bad draft process that I thought would be interesting to touch on. There’s a reason the Jaguars were picking first overall, and a reason why they had a lot of draft capital up their sleeves. They’re an awful football team. Now I don’t think they’re quite as bad as it may appear, if they hadn’t benched Minshew to tank they might have had a few more wins, but there are still a huge amount of holes on that roster. They need a new Left Tackle, would like some more weapons for Trevor, and have more holes on defence than a broken sieve. Jacksonville has so many needs on their roster, and therefore needed to swing hard at valuable positions with their high end draft capital. Even though they had two first rounders, you can’t treat that as some sort of plaything to have fun with.

There is no such thing as a luxury pick when you are rebuilding a roster from the ground up. Every pick has to work within the parameters of your cost-benefit calculations, and taking a Running Back in the first is sacrilegious in those terms. The potential impact of a running back is so low compared to a left tackle or cornerback that there is no way that using such an important pick on one can every have the same potential benefit as getting a player at a more valuable position. I had this debate with fellow Full 10 Yards writer Raj on our latest podcast, and he made the point that if the Jaguars were able to get a good tackle and defensive playmaker in the second round we could look at the entire haul in it’s entirety and say it brought good value. Now if the Jags had taken Christian Barmore and Samuel Cosmi in the second the draft it would have looked like a great draft, but regardless it was still bad process. In the end the Jags helped out my point by taking a third round corner and a left tackle who hasn’t played football in nearly two years in the second. Those picks did not provide good value for the draft capital they possessed.

The fact you have more picks doesn’t mean you can take on luxuries like this. If you have more picks, use them on more valuable positions. Get your future left tackle on a contract with a fifth year option. Ensure you get the best corner on your board and prevent yourself taking Tyson Campbell at 33. Trade down and add more capital even. Just don’t waste them on a running back. Especially when you already have a pretty good one that went undrafted last year. This isn’t Madden. This isn’t some fun luxury pick you can spurn on some speed. This is a franchise level pick you need to invest in a valuable prospect. Etienne was poor process, even excluding the Jags poor second round, and therefore a poor pick.

Round 3, Pick 99 – Dallas Cowboys: Nahshon Wright, CB – Oregon State

Everybody slammed the Las Vegas Raiders for taking Alex Leatherwood at 17 because it was a huge reach on the consensus board, but that was nothing compared to the Cowboys pick of former Beavers corner Nahshon Wright. Wright was ranked outside of the top 300 on the majority of draft boards, and so taking him within the first 100 picks probably ranks as one of the biggest consensus reaches in draft history.

I must admit I had not watched any of Wright’s tape until half an hour ago, so I wasn’t keen to jump in on the pick until now. Having watched a couple of games I can see the appeal. He’s got excellent length, strong ball skills and plays with ideal physicality. There are some enticing traits here. His agility testing however was dreadful, with his short shuttle and 3 cone ranking in the 2nd and 7th percentiles respectively. Change of direction ability is one of the most important traits in the NFL, and a very predictive statistic to use when evaluating whether college corners will be able to cut it in the NFL. His testing was almost historically bad, and is a serious concern. Add into the fact he isn’t a particularly well developed football player at this point, and you have a serious reach on your hands.

If you love Wright, that’s fine, but don’t waste a third round pick on him when he’s probably going to be there late on Day 3. There were plenty of other players on the board at that point who could have made an impact for the Cowboys at that point, so the correct process would have been to wait on Wright and accumulate higher ranked talent at that point in time. You run the risk of him getting stolen from under your nose, but playing the board gives you a higher percentage chance of hitting on bringing in better talent overall. Picking Wright robbed the Cowboys of getting better value throughout the draft, and is therefore bad process.

Round 5, Pick 149 – Cincinnati Bengals: Evan McPherson, K – Florida

As I’ve made clear, I don’t value running backs. So when I’m sitting by the television praying my Bengals take one they must be special. The fact that Kenny Gainwell had slid to Cincinnati at Pick 149 felt like a miracle, and a perfect opportunity to replace Gio Bernard and add another weapon for Joe Burrow to play with. Instead they picked a kicker. Now I’m a big special teams fan, and a true believer that a draft pick on an elite punter is a good one, but picking a kicker is always bad process.

What’s the difference you ask? Well, it’s pretty easy to translate a punters traits into the NFL. Leg power, touch and hang time are all quantitative data points that directly correspond to a punters abilities, with evaluators able to see punters do exactly what they’ll do in the league in college. Unless they get the yips nothing should change. Kickers however are a different beast. For all the talk of leg talent, accuracy and percentages, there are many other factors that can’t be measured. The difficulty of conditions is one, Alex Kessman was my Kicker 1 in this draft due to his success kicking at the infamously tough Heinz Field, kicking in key moments is the other. For all the natural ability we can talk about, the success of a kicker is defined by their mental toughness and how clutch they are. That’s tough to evaluate in college though, as these data points don’t come around often and don’t hold the same importance when you’re playing for Southern Methodist compared to when playing for the Eagles.

Evan McPherson has never once made a game winning kick in his Florida career. In fact he missed a 51 yarder to tie things up against LSU in 2020. It’s all well and good being able to knock a bottle top off from 30 yards for TikTok, but there’s no evidence as of yet to say he’s a truly clutch kicker. Given that no other kickers were drafted on Saturday, the Bengals would have been better served attacking the priority free agent market by bringing in multiple undrafted kickers. Especially given how tough it has been historically to draft a good kicker. Just ask top prospects like Roberto Aguayo, who never made it in the league at all, and Daniel Carlson, Matt Gay and Jake Elliott who all didn’t make the cut at their original franchises. The likes of Alex Kessman of Pittsburgh, Jose Borregales of Miami and Blake Haubeil of Ohio State were all there. Bring two or three of those guys, plus some other vets, and have an intense kicking battle in camp. Get then in your building, test their mental toughness, and see who can hack the big time. There’s no bigger incentive or pressure than winning a job and keeping your football dreams alive. That’s the best way to find your leg of the franchise.

What do you make of draft process? Let us know @Full10Yards. By Ed Farrar, @Farrardise

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Way Too Early 2022 Mock Draft

Welcome to Draft Season!

2022 Draft Season. We all know that the draft season never sleeps and today, Monday 3rd May 2021 is the very first day of the 2022 draft season.

Feeling bummed out at your team’s draft selections this weekend? Well you’ve come to the right place!

Disclaimer – The draft order is taken from the reverse Vegas odds, so don’t tweet at me if you think your team is picking too high because, yeah, you could be right.

  1. Houston Texans, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon

The Texans lost JJ Watt to the Cardinals this offseason and haven’t had the draft capital to do so this weekend. Thibodeaux will enter the season as one of the most feared edge defenders in college football and whilst he’s a different kind of player to Watt, he should be able to add juice to the Texans front again.

  1. Detroit Lions, Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

Does anyone believe that Jared Goff is the long-term answer in the Motor City?

Goff was a makeweight in the deal that took Matt Stafford to LA, in order to give him a chance to actually win some games. Goff’s contract is a hefty one and he’s not a terrible QB but Rattler is probably the most naturally gifted of this coming year’s QB crop.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals, Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

With the selection of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase the LSU to Cincinnati connection is running strong these days. The Bengals go back to that well here and pick up the number one cover corner in college football in Derek Stingley Jr.

  1. New York Jets, Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Kyle Hamilton will be one of the best safeties to enter the league in a number of years when he comes out after the next season. This may feel high for a safety, but in the NFL in 2021, certain players transcend the pigeonholes of positions – Kyle Pitts wasn’t “just a Tight End”, right?

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars, Drake Jackson, Edge, Southern California 

A team can never have enough pass rushers and even though the Jaguars recently selected K’Lavon Chaisson and Josh Allen, there is absolutely no harm in adding another. Jackson could come into that rotation adding even more speed and quickness to the Jaguars front 7. 

  1. Philadelphia Eagles, Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

If Philadelphia is picking at 6th overall in the 2022 draft, the Jalen Hurts experiment probably didn’t go so well. Sam Howell could be the pick for the Eagles as they look to sink a premium draft pick into the position by selecting the strong-armed and athletic UNC QB. 

  1. New York Giants, Kedon Slovis, QB, Southern California

Much like their divisional rivals in front of them, if the Giants are back picking in the top 10, Daniel Jones has flopped and is probably on his way out on the Big Apple. This, of course, means that it’s time for a new era under center for Big Blue. The next QB off the shelf could be Kedon Slovis so long as he rediscovers his Freshman form.

  1. Atlanta Falcons, Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

The Falcons need to stop just getting by on the boundaries with corners that they pick in the mid-rounds. Elam is a long and rangy corner who will add some star power to the Falcons cornerback room. Watch out for Elam on the Gators this coming season, he should be one of the better corners in college football.

  1. Carolina Panthers, Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

This could also be a QB depending on how Sam Darnold plays in 2021 but I am doing to give the reclamation project and give the Panthers a player who will make his life easier.

Measuring up at 6”7 and weighing in at 360lbs, Neal is a physically imposing tackle prospect with experience playing multiple spots on the offensive line, but he’ll be the left tackle in Charlotte.

  1. New York Giants, LaBryan Ray, IDL, Alabama

Back-to-back Alabama players in the trenches as the Giants, true to form, draft a giant. Ray will come in and supplement the investment they have made in the contract that they awarded to Leonard Williams and also the selection of Dexter Lawrence in 2019. 

  1. Washington Football Team, Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College

Brandon Scherff is a free agent and Ereck Flowers has $0m of dead cap after this season and will save the Football Team just south of $10m of cap space.With this in mind it will be a prudent selection for Washington to take an interior lineman in 2022 so they are going ahead and taking a guy who is potentially one of the best at the position next year. Boston College’s offensive line should be absolutely stacked since they brought everyone back – Side note, watch out for this team, running back David Bailey and of course, Phil Jurkovec at QB.

  1. Las Vegas Raiders, Nik Bonitto, Edge, Oklahoma

Nik Bonitto is another off the production line from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A disruptive outside linebacker who will add some star power to Gus Bradley’s defense and be that movable, stand-up piece off the edge for the Raiders.

  1. Denver Broncos, Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State

Ohio State has another batch of top class offensive linemen on the verge of entering the NFL and Nicholas Petit-Frere is right up there with the best of them. NPF is pegged as the right tackle in Columbus next year – a position that may be up for grabs if Ja’Wuan James doesn’t perform in Mile High next season.

  1. Los Angeles Chargers, Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan

The Chargers didn’t address the defensive line at all this weekend, and the only pass rusher they added was the intriguing yet vastly undersized Chris Rumph II out of Duke. Hutchinson would give the Bolts a high quality edge defender who could make a long term book end to Joey Bosa. In Brandon Staley’s defense Bosa would be the star, stand-up rusher and Hutchinson would add to the likes of Jerry Tillery and Justin Jones as down linemen who move around to create one-on-one match ups across the line of scrimmage. Adding a lineman like Hutchinson would mean havoc and chaos ensued on most snaps.

  1. Minnesota Vikings, Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama

Mike Zimmer has two types in the first round of the NFL draft; athletic offensive lineman or long athletic cornerbacks. Josh Jobe falls into the latter category!

Jobe will be heading into his senior season as the CB1 in Tuscaloosa which usually means with a good season, you’re heading for the NFL via a premium pick within the top 50 of the draft.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers, Desmind Ridder, QB, Cincinnati 

Ben Roethlistburger is probably going to hang them up at the end of this coming NFL season which means Mike Tomlin will be bringing in a fresh era of Pittsburgh Steelers football this time in 12 month.

With another really positive step forward throughout the next college football season, Desmond Ridder can cement himself as a first round QB for the 2022 draft.

He’s got everything teams are looking for in a modern NFL QB.

  1. Arizona Cardinals, Myjai Sanders, Edge, Cincinnati

Back-to-back Bearcats for me in the middle of the first round! Which speaks to the amount of buy-in I have for this team in 2021. If Cincy can ride the wave of last season and their big players can continue to carry this team they will continue to get drafted, they’ll continue to be ranked and Head Coach Luke Fickell will be going to the NFL with them.

Sanders is an undersized and bendy edge defender who could replace Chandler Jones

  1. Tennessee Titans, Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa 

Dillon Radunz was the sole investment in the Titans offensive line over the weekend, and even though I say that, it isn’t exactly a unit in need of an overhaul or even massive strengthening. Linderbaum should be one of the better centers in the 2022 crop and it would be prudent if Tennessee continued to keep Derrick Henry’s blockers fresh.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins), DeMarvin Leal, Edge, Texas A&M

It’s well and truly rebuilding season in the City of Brotherly Love, with this selection being the first of three first round picks that the Eagles currently hold. After snagging their QB of the future earlier in the first round, they make a move to refresh their defensive line – Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett are free agents after this coming year.

  1. Dallas Cowboys, George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue

Isn’t it about time that the Cowboys got a running mate for DeMarcus Lawrence? I really feel like they have neglected the edges of their defensive line. The ‘Boys have invested on the interior with the likes of Trysten Hill, Neville Gallimore and now Osa Odighizuwa but outside of mid-round selections, there hasn’t been that same commitment to the edges. Karlaftis gives them another physical presence off the edge to really round off the defensive line in Dallas.

  1. New Orleans Saints, Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Long time listeners to the podcast will know that I am no big fan of Jameis Winston and the other “quarterback” in New Orleans is a tight end, so the logical pick is to take a player who can both pass and run, combining the two supposed skill sets of Winstom and Taysom Hill.

Malik Willis is that guy.

Yes, he only plays for Liberty but if he and the Flames have another season like they did last year, Willis will be a hot commodity come draft weekend.

  1. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks), Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

The Jets opened up this past weekend but taking their franchise QB and then spent a number of picks making his life easier by way of offensive lineman, a running back and a speedy slot receiver, in Alijah Vera-Tucker, Michael Carter and Elijah Moore.

However, despite drafting Denzel Mims in 2020 and bringing in Corey Davis in free agency, the Jets will still need more firepower if they are aiming to compete with the Bills and Dolphins at some point in the future. Chris Olave will be the guy for the Jets and take the offense to another level.

  1. New England Patriots, Drake London, WR, Southern California

The Patriots are another team who don’t have a dominant wide receiver on the roster right now. They don’t have a pass catcher that defenses will fear, especially given the level of the best defenses in the division in Miami and Buffalo.

Drake London gives the Patriots a Mike Evans-style body type on the outside and is primed for a breakout season at USC next year. 

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts), Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M

Nick Sirriani and the Eagles will be running a good amount of two tight end sets and will be on the lookout for another one as 2021 is almost certainly the final year of Zach Ertz in Philadelphia.

Jalen Wydermyer comes into the season as one of the best draft eligible tight ends and should be primed for a big year on the Texas A&M team who should be on for a big year.

  1. Cleveland Browns, John Metchie III, WR, Alabama

The Browns have a heck of a lot of money tied up in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. in 2021 but after that, both of their contracts become much easier to move on from. John Metchie III could be a fantastic replacement for either of the aforementioned veterans – He’ll be the number one target for Bryce Young and the Crimson Tide, so he’ll be another player who is primed for a big year and one that’ll take place under the glare of the national spotlight.

  1. Buffalo Bills, Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

The Bills didn’t address the running back room this weekend, which leaves their top three running backs are Devin Singletary, Zack Moss and Matt Breida.

Is this good enough if you want to have a dominant running game? I’m not sure.

The Bills have got a stacked roster in almost every way and with another season of dominance from Hall at Iowa State and he could be the first running back taken in the 2022 draft.

  1. Green Bay Packers, Thaylor Munford, OT, Ohio State

Green Bay brought in a lot of offensive linemen this weekend; Josh Myers at center, Royce Newman at tackle and Cole Van Lanen on the interior. Add these to studs like David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins and the Packers look like they may have a strong and deep offensive line for a few years. So what better to do than to continue to keep adding strength on strength?

Aaron Rodgers isn’t going to be in Green Bay forever (or for long, one of the two) so the keys to the offense will get turned over to Jordan Love at some point and a solid offensive line will make his transition from the bench to the field much easier.

The pick of Ohio State left tackle, Thaylor Munford gives then a right tackle right now and an heir to Bakhtiari in future, which is a great investment.

  1. Baltimore Ravens, Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State

Just before draft weekend, the Ravens traded Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs and despite the strong rumours that the Ravens are about to sign Alejandro Villanueva, this isn’t a long term solution, plus Villanueva did not perform at a high level last season in Pittsburgh.

Walker is a premier tackle in the college football ranks in terms of pass protection, he’s also really athletic and intelligent. He needs to develop his body and also as a run blocker but he can do that over the next 12 months.

  1. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams), Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

The Lions made a heavy investment in their defense over the past few days in the mid-rounds. This will add depth and they should get a good contribution from the likes of Ifeatu Melifonwu, Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeil on the front and back ends of the defense.

However, they did not invest at linebacker – Christan Harris should be the next linebacker off the conveyor belt at Alabama and will be the leader of that unit this coming year.

  1. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco 49ers), Kryen Williams, RB, Notre Dame 

The Dolphins may have been gazumped by the Denver Broncos for Javonte Williams in the second round and didn’t address the running back position until round 7 where they took Gerrid Doaks.

Much like division rivals the Buffalo Bills, this pick is about adding star-power to an offense which looks pretty much set everywhere else.

The Notre Dame offense will be much changed with regards to the quarterback and offensive line. Williams will be the star of the show and should make life easier for Jack Coan under center.  

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

Could the Bucs keep Chris Godwin again after this season? They also brought Antonio Brown back on a 1-year deal. So there could be an opening or two at the receiver position.

The Bucs could use a pass rusher, they could also use a replacement for Ryan Jensen At center but whilst Brady is in Tampa, he’s going to want weapons so he can continue to operate in a high-powered offense until the day that he hangs it up.

Garrett Wilson helps to fill the void and give Mike Evans another partner in crime for the foreseeable future.

  1. Kansas Chiefs, Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M

The Chiefs reacted to their Superbowl loss and the manner of it, by investing in the offensive line this offseason.

The Chiefs swung from the fences and brought in Orlando Brown, Joe Thuney, Kyle Long and then drafted Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith.

Kenyon Green gives them another premier option on the interior of the line – He’s got the nasty and the athleticism for an Andy Reid offense.

By Lee Wakefield (@Wakefield90)

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NFL Draft – Day 1 Fantasy Reaction

By James Fotheringham – @NFLhypetrain

So round 1 is in the books and while there wasn’t a flurry of trades, there were a lot of significant picks and a lot of changed fantasy outlooks. To save you flicking between tabs here’s the shakedown of round 1 (On the night trades in Yellow and previous trades in Orange).

1-3 Early QBs:

Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson went #1 and #2 which was of no surprise to anyone. Both will be the franchise QBs for their team and while the Jets may need a year to settle in all their new pieces (including 14th overall pick Alijah Vera-Tucker on the O-Line) the Jags are possibly in a position to contend for a playoff berth right away. Laviska Shenault becomes a major buy in fantasy and for redraft DJ Chark and Marvin Jones will also have value. They may look at TE on day 2 but there are other areas of interest that we will come back to later. At pick 3 we finally got the answer as to who the 49ers were aiming for and that answer was Trey Lance. Lance was the player in mind when they made the trade with the Dolphins and to me it’s the right pick for the team and great for fantasy. Samuel, Aiyuk, Kittle and to a lesser degree the RBs are all getting healthy upticks and while Jimmy G will start the season, I think Lance takes over before the season ends. Of the 3 picks, only Lawrence is really worth considering in redraft but in Dynasty all 5 QBs chosen will go early in 2QB and Superflex formats.


3-6 Skill Players:

Many people expected trades here with Fields still in play but teams had zeroed in on players and they took them. The new regime in Atlanta wanted to make a statement and taking Kyle Pitts certainly did that. Hayden Hurst drops right out of the top 24 while Matt Ryan, Julio and Ridley all should see upticks. There is a chance that Julio gets traded to help the Falcons cap situation and Pitts now makes that slightly more palatable. I don’t see him moving thought as they are a few good defensive draft picks away from being a challenger. The Bengals couldn’t resist pairing up Burrow with Ja’Marr Chase in an LSU reunion. They still need help on the O-Line but the draft has fallen well for them in that regard. If they sort the line out, Chase, Higgins and Boyd could all be top 30 fantasy Wide Receivers which feels crazy to say with it being the Bengals but times are changing. The Dolphins were then left essentially choosing which one of Tua’s old Alabama team-mates to reunite him with. They went with the speedier Waddle which surprised me but him and Will Fuller is scary. Tua is going to be underrated in fantasy drafts due to how many good QBs there are but he’s an excellent QB2 for Superflex now. Waddle on the other hand will have to share work with Fuller on the outside but does have the chemistry from college which Fuller (who is coming in on a 1yr deal) doesn’t.


7-9 Not fantasy picks but huge implications:

The Lions took Penei Sewell to help with their rebuild which is going to take a few years but he’s a great start. Carolina and Denver both had Fields available, both had Rashawn Slater there too but they went for Cornerbacks. It was a position of need for the Panthers but a position of strength for the Broncos… I thought they may have been trying to formulate a deal for Aaron Rodgers as the Packers need CB help, but their pick of Eric Stokes ends that hope. It caused chaos down the chain though as Dallas, Philly and Arizona were all eyeing Surtain and Horn.


10-12 Two trades, one changed franchise:

Well… The Cowboys were so stunned they traded IN DIVISION with the Eagles! Of all teams! The Eagles jumped the Giants to grab Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith to help Jalen Hurts. Both have serious fantasy value in my eyes and Hurts running upside means he will be taken as a top 10 QB and he’s probably worth it. Then the big move happened. The Giants don’t often trade down, especially in round 1 and they managed to get a 2022 first from the Bears and some later round picks to move down 9 places to 20. Twitter was panicked that Justin Fields was falling to the Patriots but this move ensured he went to Chicago and gave Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace a chance as saving their jobs. This looks like a potential franchise changer and while he won’t start week 1, by the end of the year he should be feeding a resurgent Allen Robinson, huge rising Darnell Mooney and any receiver they draft later on. I’d temper expectations on David Montgomery but really, Bears fans are getting a rare chance of being big winners. To complete this set Dallas came out of their shocked state to pick Micah Parsons to replace the retired Sean Lee at LB.


13-19 One trade and a non-trade:

The Chargers were big winners as Rashawn Slater fell to them at 13 which is a major win for Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler. The Jets traded up to pick 14 to grab some previously mentioned O-Line help while the big call came at 15. The Patriots were left deciding whether to make Mac Jones their QB of the future or a defensive piece and kick the QB issue down the road. They went for Jones and after the 49ers, the Patriots may have been the next best fit. He might not even start this year but will take over from Cam next season and if there’s a team who can create a successful system QB out of Jones, it’s probably New England. Elsewhere, the Cardinals take a Linebacker in Zaven Collins, the Raiders continue to be the Raiders and reached a long way down to grab “their guy” at tackle in Alex Leatherwood. Miami had the chance to grab Najee Harris but instead (perhaps wisely) addressed the Edge with Jaelen Phillips and Washington chose Jamin Davis at LB.


20-23 Worth the wait? :

Giants fans waited patiently for their pick, they then had to wait a bit longer due to the trade down and when the pick came in, the looks of disbelief and anguish were clear to see. They wanted Devonta Smith but were sniped by the Eagles and at 20 they went for Kadarious Toney… With Linebackers and tackles still on the board they reached a long way to pick the 4th WR off the board and not the one people expected. It’s arguably good news for Kenny Golladay shares and probably Daniel Jones too, but Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton now look to be staying on the waiver wire. The Colts got Edge help with Kwity Paye, the Titans took the risk on Caleb Farley after his surgery, while the Vikings waited out and still got O-Line help in Christian Darrisaw.


24-25 Was that the rush you expected? :

The Steelers have a lot of needs, especially on the O-Line, but with James Conner gone and a team that usually likes a power run game they wanted their power back and with Najee Harris being there, they took what they wanted. If they address the O-Line then he really should be excellent in fantasy with the lack of major opposition. The fact that no offensive linemen went off the board for the rest of the round will make the Steelers feel like they made the right call; and the very next pick by the Jags must have made them feel even better about it. The Jags doubled down on offense by taking Trevor Lawrence’s Clemson team mate and Running Back Travis Etienne. This is maybe the biggest move when it comes to fantasy value as a tandem of Robinson and Etienne is great for the Jags but iffy for fantasy. They could become a Chubb/Hunt, but similarly they could become a Singletary/Moss. I expect both will be drafted highly but taking them will be a gamble. If they drop enough though it’ll be a much discussed risk/reward situation.


26-27 Playing Catch-up:

The Browns might have caught themselves out here as I don’t think Cornerback was their biggest need but they went for Greg Newsome and other defensive talent remained on the board. The Ravens have struggled to get receivers to sign for them so they’ve drafted one instead in Rashod Bateman. Bateman should become the #1 option for Lamar Jackson ahead of Marquise Brown and while it’s not the best fit, he still has value, more than Brown had last season. Mark Andrews is in the same situation as before, he needs a bounce back year and there’s enough distractions in the passing game for him to have opportunities but he needs Lamar to use him better.

28-32 Things get very Edgey:

Amazingly no trades happened after the mid-round flurry and the draft somewhat petered out with the Saints, Bills, Ravens and Bucs all taking edge rushers. The only exception to the edge rush in this segment was the Packers who should really have been trying to please a disgruntled Aaron Rodgers by getting him either some protection or a weapon. Instead they take a cornerback and leave their relationship very much in Jeopardy.


Some things to look for in rounds 2 & 3:

O-Lines:

Teams like the Bengals and Steelers need help on the O-Line and the earlier they take someone, the better the outlook is for their B and Running backs in fantasy.

Running Back Run:

With Harris and Etienne gone Javonte Williams is the one marquee option left and with the dolphins, Jets and Falcons all in need, two of them are going to be looking at alternative options like Chuba Hubbard, Trey Sermon and so on.

On the receiving end:

Elijah and Rondale Moore, Terrence Marshall, Amon-Ra St.Brown and Dyami Brown may all find new homes on day 2 with the Bears, Titans, Colts, Packers, Chiefs, Saints and Lions all certainly in the hunt.

Tight on Tight Ends:

There’s a few options at Tight End with Pat Freiermuth being the big name remaining but not end of potential suitors. The Jags, Titans and Panthers would be the best fits and I expect one of them might go down that route.

The “other” QBs:

Kyle Trask, Kellen Mond and Davis Mills could become projects for teams preparing for a transition (Washington, Atlanta or Tampa Bay for example) or those unconvinced of their options and wanting some competition (like Detroit).

Trades:

There’s a few players who might get moved as a part of deals for picks in the 2nd or 3rd round. Namely QB’s like Drew Lock and Nick Foles and I still feel the Patriots are open to trading CB Stephon Gilmore for picks. I’d also wonder if the likes of Zach Ertz and Evan Engram will find new teams once Freirmuth is off the board.

There’s a lot of big questions which have been answered but there’s many more left to be answered and some new ones to be asked. Let’s do it all again tonight shall we!

Featured Image credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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NFL Mock Draft (w/Trades) – Tim 2.0

By Tim (@Tim_MonkF10Y)


1. Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence (QB)

2. Jets

Zach Wilson (QB)

3. 49ers

Mac Jones (QB)

No surprises with the 1st 3 selections being Quarterbacks. Lawrence and Wilson pretty much locked in to the #1 and #2 spots and as much as there as been hype over Mac Jones, who was watched by Kyle Shanahan on his underwhelming pro day, I dont rate him personally but have to go with it. There’s too many words being said that he is Kyle Shanahan’s guy. Either way, a huge pick in the grand scheme of things for that Franchise.


4. Falcons

Kyle Pitts (TE)

5. Bengals

Ja’Marr Chase (WR)

6. Dolphins (Eagles)

Devonta Smith (WR)

The Falcons at #4 for me the pivotal pick for how the rest of the 1st round plays out. Take a QB, then New England, Washington et al will all be scrambling to get the remaining 1 of the “big 5”. If they go Sewell or Pitts, you could see a lot less trades happening. New Falcons GM Terry Fontenot needs to establish how far he thinks this team is away from being a contender again. they’ve restructured Matt Ryan’s contract and I’ll take the gamble they leave the QB situation until next year. I think the Falcons will make the pick here. Penei Sewell is definitely an option, but have recently spent multiple 1sts on OL so may opt for a playmaker, especially if the Julio Jones trade rumours come to fruition. Similar comments apply to Miami, and they are probably more wise to pick up Sewell and spend their later 1st rounder or a 2nd rounder on this deep WR class. However, it’s unlikely Tua’s former teammates Waddle and the selection here in Smith will be available at 18.


7. Lions

Jaylen Waddle (WR)

8. *TRADE* Bears

Justin Fields (QB)

9. *TRADE*Eagles

Patrick Surtain II (CB)

I would be shocked if the Lions (7), Panthers (8) and Broncos (9) all stick here. With Lance and Fields both slipping down, it brings New England in to play as well as possibly Chicago and Washington. The cost for New England is a lot cheaper but with talks of their darling Jimmy Garoppolo possibly come back for a dirt cheap price, Chicago pull the trigger. Why Chicago? They had reported interest in Russell Wilson and between him and Lance, Fields fits the mould. Teams will be ruing letting Fields drop, especially the 49ers. I also think the Eagles may trade up a few spots with Devner to go and get a guy they like. Here i’ve gone Surtain but wouldn’t be surprised if they go WR if Waddle/Smith fall (Alabama connection). It will only cost a 2nd rounder or maybe even a 3rd, so their 1st they accumulated moving back 6 with Miami is intact for 2022.


10. Cowboys

Jaycee Horn (CB)

11. Giants

Kwity Paye (EDGE)

12. Broncos (via Eagles)

Micah Parsons (LB)

Dallas fills a position of need and whilst the Eagles trade ahead, like they seemingly do every year, they aren’t necessarily being “sniped” here. Jaycee Horn could easily prove to be the next Jalen Ramsey. Dave Gettleman loves the trenches more than Tony Robinson did on Time Team in the 90s, so Edge, offensive and defensive lineman are in play. He takes the Kwity Paye when he perhaps be trading back and offering Rashawn Slater’s name about, to the delight of Chargers fans. Denver do well and still get a top 10 guy, whilst accumulating picks further back, though dont be shocked to see Parsons fall due to personality concerns.


13. Chargers

Rashawn Slater (OL)

14. *TRADE* WFT

Trey Lance (QB)

15. Patriots

Jeremiah O-Koramoah (LB)

Chargers can sit and wait for whatever offensive lineman falls to them and hit the jackpot with Slater out of Northwestern. The fall for Lance stops as Washington plays chicken and wins. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a 17 game season guy and would be a perfect mentor for Trey Lance who needs the playing time and could come in after the first 4/5 weeks.


16. Cardinals

Greg Newsome II (CB)

17. Raiders

Jamin Davis (LB)

18. Dolphins

Alijah Vera-Tucker (OT)

Some big needs filled here for Arizona and Vegas with P2 leaving Glendale for Arizona and Newsome is possibly the call over Farley with his injury concerns and the Raiders wouldn’t shock me if they moved back as there is a bunch of Linebackers in this spot. AVT is the tackle that will be paired with Tua for the long haul.


19. Vikings (via WFT)

Caleb Farley (CB)

20.Panthers (via Bears)

Teven Jenkins (OT)

21. Colts

Christian Darrisaw (OT)

Vikings also get potentially huge value with Farley at 19 though will need to overcome injuries before a couple of lineman for Darnold and Wentz, 2 QBs crying out for a secure pocket.


22. Titans

Rashod Bateman (WR)

23. Jets (Seahawks)

Azeez Ojulari (EDGE)

24. Steelers

Najee Harris (RB)

Titans address the hole left by Corey Davis, a former 1st round WR selection of theirs. Jets address the pass rushing group and the Steelers take an RB with 3 down capabilities and the team trying to still get Ben to another Super Bowl before he retires.


25. Jaguars (Rams)

Christian Barmore (DL)

26. Browns

Jalen Phillips (EDGE)

27. Ravens

Jayson Oweh (EDGE)

Jaguars could add to their WR core here and help out Trevor Lawrence, I wouldn’t be surprised if they took Etienne if he was still on the board to give #1 overall a familiar face in the backfield with his Clemson teammate. Couple of Edge players for Browns available here from Miami (Jaelen Phillips also) or Kwity Paye (Mic and Myles Garrett a perfect mentor for the Raw pass rusher who has limited tape but tremendous upside. Ravens will address either EDGE, WR or OL and there are whispers they are trading back one of the 2 picks. Oweh is a great selection in the late 1st


28. Saints

Zaven Collins (LB)

29. Packers

Asante Samuel Jr (CB)

30. Bills

Gregory Rousseau (EDGE)

Don’t rule out a Saints trade up for a Cornerback but here i have them taking a the linebacker from Tulsa. Packers should go WR or CB here but they haven’t exactly played by the rulebook recently. Bills don’t need a lot but the do need a bit of defensive help/


31. Ravens (via KC)

Elijah Moore (WR)

32. Buccaneers

Alex Leatherwood (OT)

The Ravens address the WR position with their 2nd pick and think the Buccaneers will explore options to trade out of the 1st round but good luck trying to pick that trade.


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NFLHypeTrain Mock Draft

By James Fotheringham (@nflhypetrain)


1. Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence (QB)

2. Jets

Zach Wilson (QB)

3. 49ers (MIA)

Justin Fields (QB)

The top 2 picks have been pretty consistent all the way through so there’s not real need to elaborate here. The draft truly starts at number 3 and I’ve had each of Mac Jones, Trey Lance and Justin Fields here. Whoever they pick, the locker room has been clamoring for Jimmy G to remain the starter to begin this season so there’s no hurry to start whoever they pick. Mac Jones was the early favourite but did they really have to trade up to 3 to get him? Lance would be a great project with high upside but would Shanahan be able to mould him the way he wants. I think Fields is the pick but this could go any one of three ways. If they do pick Mac Jones then the rest of this mock draft goes to ruins as I think that would lead to 5 QBs going in the top 8 picks.


4. Patriots (ATL)

Trey Lance (QB)

5. Bengals

Ja’Marr Chase (WR)

6. Dolphins (PHI)

Kyle Pitts (TE)

This is where it gets really interesting. The Falcons really need to rebuild their defence and I think the Patriots will offer a package which include pick 15 and Stephon Gilmore as well as a later round pick and maybe some swapping of 2022 picks. It’ll be a steep price to pay for the Patriots but Lance/Fields will be too hard to pass up. The Broncos Bridgewater acquisition changes nothing, there will be a fight for the 4th QB and if the 49ers take Jones then the Patriots and Broncos will still need to ensure Washington/Chicago don’t get ideas.

The Bengals meanwhile should be trying to protect Joe Burrow but it’s hard for them to pass on a top receiver who already has chemistry with their QB. They can address the O-Line on day 2. The Dolphins might consider Penei Sewell after trading Ereck Flowers to Washington but I think the talent of Pitts is too great to ignore when you need offensive weapons.


7. Broncos (DET)

Mac Jones (QB)

8. Panthers

Penei Sewell (OT)

9. Lions (DEN)

Devonta Smith (WR)

I have the Lions and Broncos swapping places to prevent Chicago and Washington from trying to negotiate with Carolina or Detroit to jump them. The Broncos will have their tail between their legs after being top trumped by New England and despite the Bridgewater trade, I see them taking Mac Jones, sitting him behind Teddy and trading Lock to a team that believe they can extract his potential. The Panthers will rub their hands at the prospect of Penei Sewell being there for them at #8 and if the Dolphins go that way at #6 then Slater is a solid option too. The Lions will be willing to move down provided they stay ahead of the Eagles, as they will want to use their early pick on a receiver and I can see them taking the Heismann Trophy winner Smith to be their WR1 whether that’s at #7 or #9.


10. Cowboys

Patrick Surtain (CB)

11. Giants

Rashawn Slater (OT)

12. Eagles (SF/MIA)

Jaylen Waddle (WR)

The Cowboys have been constantly mocked… as taking Surtain and I have no reason to think differently. The Giants really should trade down, but since Gettleman just doesn’t do that, Slater would be a great options as I’m not buying that they need a receiver. The Eagles do need a receiver, and if the top 3 have gone they will likely pivot to Cornerback and Jaycee Horn but I have Waddle being available and so it’ll be the Jaylen show.


13. Chargers

Christian Darrisaw (OT)

14. Vikings

Alijah Vera-Tucker (IOL)

15. Falcons (NE)

Jaelen Phillips (Edge)

The Chargers need to protect Justin Herbert as a priority and Darrisaw is probably the next tackle up in this class. The Vikings also need O-Line help and Vera-Tucker can play anywhere along the line where they need him which helps. The Falcons have CB sorted with the Gilmore trade and at #15 they will feel more comfortable taking an Edge and Jaelen Phillips is arguably the best in this draft.


16. Cardinals

Jaycee Horn (CB)

17. Raiders

Micah Parsons (LB)

18. Dolphins

Najee Harris (RB)

The Cardinals really need a Cornerback having let Patrick Peterson leave for the Vikings and if the Eagles pick a receiver over Jaycee Horn then Arizona will run this one up to the podium. The Raiders will need to look at their O-Line after ditching a lot of key parts, however it’d go against the grain for the Raiders to do things logically but after sliding this far due to character concerns, Micah Parsons is a “Raiders type” player in a position of need. The Dolphins could go so many ways. O-Line, Edge, Running Back and Linebacker are all positions of need. The buzz for the Steelers to draft Najee Harris and the lack of value at the Steelers other positions of need means that the Dolphins may pull the trigger here if this is Tua wanting an Alabama reunion. Also worth considering that Atlanta, Pittsburgh and the Jets (all RB needy teams) will have a pick before the Dolphins at #36.


19. Football Team

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB)

20. Bears

Rashod Bateman (WR)

21. Colts

Teven Jenkins (OT)

After trading for Ereck Flowers, Washington may wait on O-Line and address Linebacker with a solid pick in Owusu-Koramoah. The Bears need receivers and Rashod Bateman should be the next one up, although Elijah Moore is a consideration. The Colts could go Edge but with Teven Jenkins here in a position of need it would be hard for them to pass on that opportunity.


22. Titans

Greg Newsome (CB)

23. Jets (SEA)

Kwity Paye (Edge)

24. Steelers

Caleb Farley (CB)

The Titans are another team that need a Cornerback and while there’s also some great receivers they could use to compliment AJ Brown I think the sure up the defense with Newsome. The Jets have their QB and now look to strngthen the defence and will feel like Kwity Paye is a steal at 23. The Steelers have needs at Cornerback, Running back and along the O-Line. With Najee gone and a lot of the top tackles I see them being the team taking the gamble on Caleb Farleys back injury knowing what the upside could be.


25. Jaguars (STL)

Trevor Moehring (S)

26. Browns

Christian Barmore (IDL)

27. Ravens

Joe Tryon (Edge)

Having taken the first player in the draft, the Jags now go and take the first Safety off the board in Moehrig. The Browns could go Edge but with the addition of Clowney they may start off looking at their defensive interior and look at Edge later. The Ravens meanwhile have 2 picks of the next 5 and while I expect them to move one of them, for now I have them picking at #27 and Joe Tryon comes first as they have multiple options at wide receiver later on.


28. Saints

Asante Samuel Jr (CB)

29. Packers

Liam Eichenberg (OT)

30. Bills

Azeez Olujari (Edge)

The Saints need a Cornerback and between Samuel and Stokes I’d just favour Samuel. While both the Saints and Packers need help at wide receiver and Elijah Moore is there, I just can’t see them taking him and so I have the Packers taking Liam Eichenberg to help their depleted O-Line. The Bills have a wealth of options and could pick Stokes at CB but with Olujaria still available, it makes sense.


31. Ravens (KC)

Terrace Marshall Jr (WR)

32. Buccaneers

Levi Onwuzurike (IDL)

For the final 2 picks I’m expecting a team to trade up for contract reasons (1st round picks 5th year option) but for now I have the Ravens getting their best WR fit in Marshall and the Bucs getting a great D-Liner to develop in Onwuzurike.

No doubt anyone reading this will now be saying “Where’s ‘X’? How far did ‘X’ slide? Where did ‘X’land?” Well here’s my round 2 mock up with one extra trade between the Jags and Steelers. There’s no way this mock sticks as there will be more than 3 trades on the night for sure. It’s plausible that there’s less than usual as the in person discussions that go on during the combine and draft build up are not happening due to COVID restrictions.