The 2018 Drafted New England Patriots

The 2018 NFL draft kicked its first round off on Thursday night. The New England Patriots sat in a position to draft two players on both the first round (Thursday) and the second round (Friday).

The Patriots ended up gaining draft picks through the last year or so. The two picks they inherited were the #23 overall pick that was the Los Angeles Rams, and the 43rd overall pick from the 49ers. Those two draft picks were landed in the business transactions that saw Jimmy Garoppolo as well as Brandin Cooks depart from Foxboro.

The Patriots sought out what seemed to be an annual list of “needs”. The usual Offensive Lineman, Cover Linebacker and Cornerback all made appearances in another draft portfolio. That same portfolio that has “quarterback” probably in bold by now. For all of these four picks, it seemed as though the Patriots would attempt to fill the needs with suitable players. Let’s be honest here, if you thought that’s what they were going to do then you’ve never watched Bill Belichick.

The First Round:

#23

Many rumors circulated about the Patriots potentially taking Lamar Jackson at their 23rd selection. After all the smoke cleared the Patriots passed on Lamar not once but twice. The 23rd pick resulted in the University of Georgia Offensive lineman, Isaiah Wynn.

This pick proved to be a very smart move being that they lost Nate Solder this offseason. Wynn proved to be a very solid run blocker as Georgia’s two-back rushing attack was one of the best in the country and showed that he could hold up in pass protection as well. Wynn will be the immediate plug and play to replace Nate Solder and I don’t think too many New England fans are disappointed with that.

#31

This pick was the Patriots original draft selection, and one that surprised most people. After an offseason where they lost one of their lead backs in Dion Lewis, then turned around and signed former Cincinnati Bengal standout in Jeremy Hill, they turned to the draft to pick another back to be in an already crowded backfield. The Patriots shocked some people by taking Sony Michel with the 31st pick. Sony Michel is another Georgia Bulldog and a very good one at that.

Despite being in a dual backfield at Georgia, Michel was one of the stars of college football. He especially seemed to shine in the College Football Playoffs. Against Oklahoma and their subpar defense, Michel managed to get 222 yards on 16 carries. In the National Championship, basically on the opposite side of the spectrum, he got 98 yards on 14 carries against the nations toughest defense in the Alabama Crimson Tide. Michel took over the backfield and outshined Nick Chubb. He could be a possible Jeremy Hill but younger. He joins a backfield that doesn’t have a true running back but has a bunch of pass catching backs.

James White and Rex Burkhead have shown that they are the two heavy load backs, but the Patriots have lacked a true runner. Mike Gillislee is the closest thing the Patriots have to a true running back and he’s the same weight and height as the unproven Michel. Gillislee has proven to not be the guy for the Patriots, so Michel could get the opportunity to shine behind a very solid offensive line and in a great offense.

Second Round:

#56

New England Patriots

Duke Dawson Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What was originally two picks heading into the second round then turned to one. The Patriots, rather classically, traded out of their selection and managed to drop further back into another draft. They did, however, manage to take care of one of the glaring holes on their defense. Duke Dawson is a corner that played for the Florida Gators (Ah yes, SEC defenders). He is coming in trying to be the complement to Stephon Gilmore. He will come in looking to be a solid cover corner to fill in for Malcolm Butler who the Patriots let go this offseason.

Summary:

The Patriots have done a very nice job in the earlier rounds of filling some of the voids they have. Year in and year out it seems like people are worried about who is going to take over for Tom Brady. This season was no different, many people were expecting Lamar Jackson to come off the boards and go with the Patriots. Instead, they are stocking up their assets for Brady to exploit and stashing some picks later in the draft to take a chance on a quarterback for the future. The Patriots have yet again done another solid job on building a roster back up after it seemed to be depleted this offseason.

 

Featured image from The Boston Herald.

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2018 NFL Draft recap

4 things we know after the 2018 NFL Draft

The 2018 NFL Draft is in the books. It takes a couple years to really know which teams nailed it and which teams whiffed. Thus, the concept of giving out nothing more than simple draft grades in the days immediately following it is fun, but somewhat foolish.

However, we now have a better idea of how teams view themselves and how they will fare in the fall. Here are a few things we learned over the three day extravaganza.

Denver does not view Case Keenum as a stopgap 

After scouting every elite quarterback in the draft, Denver passed on drafting a quarterback altogether. Instead, the Broncos bolstered an already loaded pass rush after Bradley Chubb fell into their lap. Then, John Elway spent five of his remaining picks on running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.

Incoming rookie receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton in particular could be asked to make an impact right away. A consistent third pass catcher to take the heat off of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders has been lacking for a few years now.

2018 NFL Draft recap

(Photo from wralsportsfan.com)

The Broncos clearly think Case Keenum can lead them right back into contention in 2018 and beyond. He has almost everything a quarterback needs to succeed, much like he did in Minnesota. Defense was the centerpiece of the Vikings last year and it will be for the Broncos this year.

It is a little bit surprising that Denver spent only one draft pick on offensive line. The decision-makers there are putting their faith in Garett Bolles to make a huge leap forward in his second year and veterans Ronald Leary and Jared Veldheer to stay healthy and stabilize a unit that has needed help for a long time.

Still, it is now apparent that the Broncos think they can win now and are reloading, not rebuilding.

Cleveland did not learn from history, but also hopes not to repeat it 

Baker Mayfield and Johnny Manziel are different people, but the comparison really does write itself. They are both undersized quarterbacks who won the Heisman Trophy after dominating college football for a very short period of time. Moreover, the Browns ignored significant off-the-field concerns in hopes that they could resurrect a dead franchise.

Manziel failed spectacularly, and that is largely on him. But Cleveland has been the worst culture for young quarterbacks to develop in the last 20 years. Manziel had no chance to succeed there. Tyrod Taylor is a solid quarterback that is more than capable of getting the Browns at least four wins this year. That should lessen the immediate pressure on Mayfield. This, combined with the fact that Mayfield’s rough edges are a little smoother than Manziel’s give him a better chance to do well in Cleveland.

Still, the Browns going with Mayfield after the Manziel experience straddles the line between gutsy and stupid. No one would argue that Sam Darnold is not a safer prospect, even the temperamental Josh Rosen would have raised a few less eyebrows.

The Patriots are not concerned about Tom Brady’s age 

Whether it is Robert Kraft or Bill Belichick calling the shots in Patriot land nowadays, this is the only conclusion that can be drawn. Jimmy Garoppolo is in San Francisco, Tom Brady is 40 and New England passed on taking Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph.

New England did take a quarterback in the seventh round, but LSU’s Danny Etling was not on most radars as a draftable prospect. The Patriots have outsmarted everyone with quarterbacks in the late rounds of the draft before, but it is hard to imagine Etling was drafted with the idea of being Brady’s successor. We know that 32-year-old Brian Hoyer certainly is not Brady’s successor either.

Regardless of how dedicated Brady is, quarterbacks fall off a cliff quickly in the NFL. The most recent example of this is Peyton Manning, who was younger than Brady is now when he played his final season, which was also his worst statistically. The lack of a long-term plan at quarterback is slowly putting New England’s position as the NFL’s gold standard in more and more jeopardy.

Russell Wilson is going to run for his life again in 2018 

When the awesome story of the Griffin brothers is put aside, Seattle’s draft as a whole is worrisome. They reached by as much as two rounds for running back Rashaad Penny and tight end Will Dissly, but that is not all.

2018 NFL Draft recap

(Photo from nocoastbias.com)

Seattle’s offensive line was atrocious last year. At its worst, there were games where Russell Wilson was pressured on a third of his drop backs. The only reason Wilson lived to tell about it is because he is one of the most mobile quarterbacks on the planet. His arm and legs created all but one of Seattle’s offensive touchdowns last year. Wilson was able to keep Seattle relevant until the very end of the regular season.

Wilson will need a repeat performance to do the same this year. The Seahawks continued their long standing reputation of refusing to invest in the offensive line. They only took one and waited until the fifth round to do so. They even traded up to take a punter before paying any attention to their biggest need.

This was a very deep draft for offensive lineman. Thus, it feels like the Seahawks missed a big chance to improve. With the “Legion of Boom” pretty much a memory, Wilson really is the only thing this franchise has going for it. After this draft, the weight of the world remains on his shoulders.

 

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2018 NFL mock draft April 26

The 2018 NFL Draft is today! All NFL teams will be looking to bolster their rosters for the 2018 NFL season and here is how it could go down. Check back for updates throughout the day.

1. Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Browns have smoke-screened so much, that they may not even know what they are doing with this pick. Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield are supposedly the favorites for this pick, but Allen has accuracy issues and now twitter problems. Darnold struggled this season with his decision-making which led to a lot of turnovers. He also has a flawed throwing motion. Although he went to the NFL Combine, he didn’t compete on the field and just interviewed with teams. Some have Darnold as their top quarterback, but his decision-making and ball security need to improve. Hue Jackson also has ties to USC and may be familiar with Darnold.

2. New York Giants- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

If Darnold is off the board, it is likely the Giants select Barkley. This is a little earlier than running backs usually go, but he is a transcendent talent. He can do a little bit of everything at the position and the Giants can use him to have some semblance of a running game.

2018 NFL mock draft April 26

Baker Mayfield (Photo by nj.com)

3. New York Jets- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Mayfield has defied all the critics who have mentioned his size as a reason not to draft him. He can make all the throws and is athletic enough to avoid pass rushers. His main calling card is his accuracy, which is the best in this draft class. He said as much in his interviews with the media at the NFL Combine. The Jets have been tied to Mayfield and will want to scoop up a quarterback to develop.

4. Cleveland Browns- Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, N.C. State

Chubb is a great pass rusher who has 10 sacks in each of the past two seasons. He displayed a good combination of size and speed at the combine. He is the best defensive player in the class and can be a cornerstone for the defense. The Browns could go Barkley if he’s available, but if he’s not they will likely select Chubb. Hue Jackson has publicly praised him and would be a good pair with Myles Garrett.

5. Denver Broncos- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Denver is in a prime position to get the fourth best quarterback in the class, Quenton Nelson or trade down to other teams seeking quarterbacks. C.J. Anderson was just released, so they could be looking to draft Barkley, but he’s off the board. If they stay at this pick and John Elway isn’t enamored with the remaining quarterbacks, he will select Nelson. Nelson is one of the best players in the class and will be drafted early despite playing a position that doesn’t usually get talked about this soon. He has Hall of Fame potential.

6. Indianapolis Colts- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

The Ohio State product is a good cover corner, who isn’t afraid to get physical. He is a little slight and will need to put on some weight. The Colts top corner is Quincy Wilson and they’ll need to get some defensive help.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

He is athletic but doesn’t necessarily have a set position, which is turning some teams off. He ran a 4.48 at the combine and has great size for a defensive back, making him valuable. Tampa Bay can continue to play Justin Evans at free safety and get James to play strong safety.

8. Chicago Bears- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Edmunds does just about everything on the football field well, as a good cover linebacker, rusher and run stopper. He is also big and athletic. The Bears miss out on Ward to improve their secondary, but can get a linebacker that can develop into a great linebacker.

9. San Francisco 49ers- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

Jimmie Ward is at best an average NFL safety, so the 49ers can fill out a solid secondary with this pick. He likely fits in best as a safety in the NFL, but can also play corner. Whichever he needs to play, he will excel at. His 4.47 40 yard dash time at the combine was right in line where he should have run.

10. Oakland Raiders- Vita Vea, DT/NT, Washington

Vea can play both defensive tackle and nose tackle, depending on the scheme a team runs, which is valuable. He has great size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds, which makes him disruptive. Vea did suffer a hamstring injury at the combine. Oakland needs to get someone on the interior of the defensive line to stop the run and take some of the blockers off of Khalil Mack.

11. Miami Dolphins- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith was the best linebacker in college football this year and does a little bit of everything well. He is especially fast, which is crucial for his coverage and tracking down of ball carriers. The Dolphins have Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso, but McMillan got injured before his impact could be seen. They will still need a third linebacker.

2018 nfl mock draft April 26

Josh Rosen (Photo by buffalonews.com)

12. Buffalo Bills- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Reports are that Rosen is falling. No major questions about Rosen arose from the NFL Draft Combine interviews, which is good news for him. Rosen had to carry UCLA and ended up having a successful season. He needed to have a good year to clear up any doubts about his shoulder injury he suffered during his sophomore season.The Bills are reportedly not looking to move up anymore, but can still get a solid quarterback at pick number 12 and would get a steal here.

13. Washington Redskins- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

Washington’s interior of the defensive line can be improved, as they allowed the most rushing yards per game in the NFL. Payne’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he often gets double teamed. He is very athletic for his size and even played some offense in certain situations for Nick Saban at Alabama.

14. Green Bay Packers- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

The Packers are reportedly looking to trade up to get an impact player and may need to do so to get Ward if everything doesn’t go their way. Green Bay needs secondary help badly and can fill a need here. The Ohio State product is a good cover corner, who isn’t afraid to get physical. He is a little slight and will need to put on some weight.

15. Arizona Cardinals- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Josh Allen falls a bit in this mock, but teams will likely trade up to get him before this point. While Allen certainly has flaws in his decision-making and accuracy, he does have a strong arm and is athletic. He competed in all the drills at the combine and got some audible cheers when he displayed his arm strength.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Ridley is the best route-runner in the class and only lacked production in college because of the system he played in and inconsistent quarterback play. The Ravens signed Michael Crabtree, but still need a lot of receiver help, which they can fill with this selection.

17. Los Angeles Chargers- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Chargers’ offensive line is not good at all. If they want Phillip Rivers to play much longer, they need to protect him better. Orlando Brown had a rough combine, while Connor Williams has some questions about his length. McGlinchey might be the safest pick because even if he can’t be a great left tackle, he can move over to the right and be successful.

2018 NFL mock draft April 26

Joshua Jackson (Photo by the gazette.com)

18. Seattle Seahawks- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson turned into an All-American corner at Iowa this season and has shown the ability to make acrobatic interceptions. Seattle needs to replace Richard Sherman and find someone to play across from Shaquill Griffin.

19. Dallas Cowboys- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Evans is a quick, run stopping linebacker that can help out right away. He can fit in next to Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee. With Lee’s injury history it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have another linebacker ready to step in as well.

20. Detroit Lions- Isaiah Wynn, OG/C, Georgia

Detroit needs to have a better run game in order to have a more balanced offense. Running back is a position they will likely address in this draft, but can start by improving the interior offensive line play. Wynn played well in the Senior Bowl and the College Football Playoff for Georgia. He played tackle in college and will move inside for the NFL.

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State

Cincinnati got Cordy Glenn with their trade down to this pick, but their offensive line is still very weak. Price has tons of experience at guard and center for Ohio State and will start right away.

22. Buffalo Bills- James Daniels, C, Iowa

When Eric Wood had to retire, the Bills lost a great player. They also traded Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati and need to upgrade their offensive line. Daniels has risen up draft boards lately and can immediately fill in for Wood. This pick may be traded if they move up higher to draft a quarterback.

23. New England Patriots- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

The Patriots just traded for this pick by giving the Rams Brandin Cooks. Having two first-round picks is an odd territory for New England to be in. They are reportedly interested in Rudolph and have brought him in for a visit. Brian Hoyer is the current backup, but the Patriots need another young quarterback after trading Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo.

24. Carolina Panthers- Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

Davenport has the build of a great pass rusher and can rush from the outside linebacker position, but reports are the media like him more than NFL teams do. The Panthers signed Julius Peppers, but he won’t last much longer and they aren’t very deep at defensive end.

25. Tennessee Titans- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

Tennessee has Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan but can use a young pass rusher as well. Landry had a great 2016 season that put him on the map but is a little undersized for the position.

2018 NFL mock draft April 26

Jaire Alexander (Photo by stripehype.com)

26. Atlanta Falcons- Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Alexander is a fast and physical corner that will likely go in round one. Atlanta needs another corner to pair with Desmond Trufant and should try to take one early.

27. New Orleans Saints- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The buzz surrounding Jackson is that he will go in the first round and be selected in the first half of the round. He is the most dynamic athlete at the position since Michael Vick. Drew Brees needs a successor.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Vander Esch has been moving up draft boards. With Ryan Shazier not playing next year, the Steelers signed Jon Bostic. He and Vince Williams will start, but that leaves a lot to be desired.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars- D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

The Jaguars have a decent crop of young receivers but could use some more help at the position after the loss of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. D.J. Moore is a late-riser on big boards and mock drafts everywhere. He put up good production without great quarterback play at Maryland.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Brown had a bad combine, which may hurt his stock a little, but his game tape is great and shows a mauler. He may not have the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL but could be a great right tackle. The Vikings’ offensive line is much better than last year, but can still be improved. With a good offense and defense, they can afford to make a good unit better.

31. New England Patriots- Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

With Malcolm Butler leaving, the Patriots need more help at corner. Hughes is a good cover corner but has some off the field concerns.

32. Philadelphia Eagles- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

They just won the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback and have a very solid roster. This pick could depend a lot on the health status of left tackle Jason Peters. If he isn’t healthy they’ll need a tackle. Williams’ draft stock has been all over the place, going from early first round to third round back into the first round.

 

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NFL draft trades

Intriguing NFL draft-day trades

All the waiting and anticipation is almost over. Only one more day until the 2018 NFL Draft begins and all our questions are answered. That is why today, we will be listing some potential NFL Draft trades that you should look out for once the draft comes around.

Denver Broncos trade the fifth overall pick to the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins or Arizona Cardinals

NFL draft trades

Four of the quarterbacks projected to go in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. (Photo from Sporting News)

All of these teams could trade up to draft their signal caller of the future, especially if Josh Rosen from UCLA or Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma are still available, as at least one should be. The Buffalo Bills possess the 12th and 22nd picks in this year’s first round, which is very valuable ammunition. Those firsts and a second or two could make this trade very persuasive for the Broncos.

Conversely, maybe the Dolphins or Cardinals first rounders this year and next will be considered more valuable. They could feel this way because the chances of the Dolphins or Cardinals having a first-round pick lower than 22nd next year are pretty likely.

In the end, it probably depends on how Denver feels about the prospects in this year’s draft versus next years.

Philadelphia Eagles trade the 32nd pick for a couple of day-2 selections

The Philadelphia Eagles lack a selection in the second and third rounds. This, compiled with the fact that teams often like to trade into the end of the first round, means that there will most likely be suitors should the Eagles want to trade back. Teams like to trade into the last spot because it secures the extra fifth-year option in the rookie contracts of the player they draft. Therefore, if a player a team loves is left on the board at 32nd, they could be tempted to make the trade.

In addition, Philadelphia has the luxury of not having large holes on their roster, which means they can draft the best player available. Therefore, if the Eagles have similar grades on a few prospects at 32nd, it would not be surprising for them to trade away the pick and add some picks later on in the draft.

New England Patriots trade up for Lamar Jackson

NFL Draft trades

Lamar Jackson (Photo from Chowder and Champions)

After Lamar Jackson’s visit with New England  it was reported that the Patriots were intrigued and impressed by the former Louisville quarterback. That being said, it would not be surprising if the Patriots move up a few spots to secure Jackson. The Patriots have two first-round selections and two second-round picks, so if he is still on the board into the teens, New England could move up to draft him.

The Baltimore Ravens trade back, potentially with the Patriots

The Ravens have the 16th pick in the draft. This position lines up very well with where Lamar Jackson is expected to be drafted. The Ravens, on the other hand, have holes at the playmaking positions on offense. Due to the potential flood of quarterbacks selected early in the draft, much of the offensive skill players could slide. This means that Baltimore could trade down and gain some additional draft capital while still being able to take a premier wide receiver like Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore or Courtland Sutton at New England’s 23rd pick.

Philadelphia Eagles trade Mychal Kendricks on day 2 for a pick in the third or fourth round

NFL draft trades

Mychal Kendricks and Jalen Mills celebrating. (Photo by Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Mychal Kendricks had a bounce-back year last season. That means this could finally be the year this trade happens. Kendricks filled in admirably for Jordan Hicks, who was lost for last season with an Achilles tear. A team could have interest in Kendricks to fill a weakside linebacker role for a second-day selection.

Kendricks has two years left on his contract, both with a cap hit of around $8 million. That is pretty expensive, which limits his value as a trade chip. However, a  team trading a third or fourth for the speedy linebacker is not out of the question.

New York Giants trade left tackle Ereck Flowers for a late-round draft pick

Ereck Flowers has been largely a disappointment after being selected ninth overall by the Giants in 2015. The Giants signed left tackle Nate Solder this year and are expected to trade Flowers. A trade could be the best option for both the team and Flowers, who could benefit from a fresh start. A team could be interested enough to part with a late draft pick because he still has the athleticism that made him a top-10 selection in 2015.

 

Featured image from Russell Report

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New England Patriots 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is now under a week away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into the NFL Draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. You will find it here. Draftmas will continue with the New England Patriots 2018 NFL Draft profile. 

Summary

New England Patriots 2018 NFL Draft profile

Tom Brady (Photo by bleacherreport.com)

New England made it to the Super Bowl again last season but were unable to keep up with the Philadelphia Eagles. They had a good season, but losing in the biggest game of the year created an offseason that has been far from normal.

The Patriots averaged the second most points in the league at 28.6 points per game. They ranked in the top 10 in both passing (second) and rushing (10th). Tom Brady is expected to be back for next season, even though reports have come out this week that he hasn’t committed to it yet. Brian Hoyer is his backup and is in his second stint in New England, meaning he should be able to run the offense decently well if Brady gets hurt, or opts for retirement.

Brandin Cooks was traded to the Rams and Danny Amendola signed with the Dolphins, meaning new wideouts will be needed. Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman return, although Edelman will have to prove he is back from his torn ACL. Jordan Matthews was signed to help bolster the receiving core, but they will likely need to add more in the draft.

Rob Gronkowski has been in headlines all offseason for contemplating retirement and for possibly being on the trading block. Odds are he returns. The offensive line will look a lot different next season as Nate Solder and Cameron Flemming are no longer Patriots.

The running backs are mostly the same, but Dion Lewis left for the Titans. Jeremy Hill was added to the crew in which no one knows who will produce on any given game.

While the defense struggled early in the season, they recovered to finish fifth in the league in points allowed. Adrian Clayborne and Danny Shelton were acquired to bolster the defensive line that was notably pretty weak in 2017. They now have turned it into a solid unit that even has a little bit of depth.

The linebackers did not perform well last season, but there is some talent at the position in Donta’ Hightower and Kyle Van Noy. Malcolm Butler was signed by the Titans, so Jason McCourty was acquired, but they still need a few good young corners. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty are solid safeties, but they aren’t among the best in the NFL.

There has been a lot of change to the roster this offseason, but with the right moves in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Patriots could make it to another Super Bowl.

Picks and Needs

The Patriots have eight picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, five of which are in the first three rounds. This is a luxury they haven’t had in a while.

First round (2 picks): 23, 31

Second round (2): 43, 63

Third round (1): 95

Fourth round (0):

Fifth round (0):

Sixth round (2): 198, 210

Seventh round (1): 219

Offensive needs:

Quarterback- Who knows how long Brady can play for? Hoyer is a good backup, but after trading Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett a new young quarterback to develop is needed.

Offensive Tackle- With both Solder and Flemming gone, the Patriots need to get a tackle who they can trust to protect Brady for the rest of his career. There aren’t a lot of great tackle prospects in this draft class, so they will need to strike gold.

Wide Receiver- The Patriots have a few solid wide receivers in Edelman, Hogan and Matthews, but should add more to the roster. A young target who could develop into a number one would be a nice addition to the roster.

Defensive needs:

Defensive Tackle- Shelton and Malcolm Brown make a decent tandem, but depth is needed. They will also need a player to rush on passing downs.

Linebacker- Hightower and Van Noy had down years and they’ll, at the very least, want to get a third linebacker.

Cornerback- McCourty is a solid replacement for Butler, but he isn’t the youngest. With so many picks early in the draft, they should use one on a corner.

Targets

New England Patriots 2018 NFL Draft profile

Lamar Jackson (Photo by cincyjungle.com)

First round:

Pick No. 23: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The going rumor for the first round is that the Patriots love Lamar Jackson. With Brady’s career winding down, they do need to add a plan for the future. With Bill Belichick’s genius, they could use Jackson before ever making him the starting quarterback. Sitting and learning behind one of the best quarterbacks of all time is a great way to start a career.

Pick No. 31: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

To address the losses on the offensive line, the Patriots can select a tackle at the end of the first round. Williams is athletic, but has short arms and isn’t the strongest. New England will have to develop him, like any other tackle in the class, but could turn him into a great lineman.

Second round:

Pick No. 43: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

With the departure of Malcolm Butler, Oliver can be the new young corner on the Patriots. He is lengthy, but slight and will need to add length to his frame. With time he can grow into a shutdown corner.

Pick No. 63: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson has good athletic ability and speed, but could never seemingly put it all together at Texas. New England’s coaching staff should be able to get the most out of him.

Third round: 

Pick No. 95: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

St. Brown is tall and fast, but needs improved route-running. Playing with Brady will immediately help him out and make him a good pro.

 

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2018 NFL mock draft April 17

The NFL Draft is just over a week away and teams are prepping for the three days that can bolster their rosters. Here is the 2018 NFL mock draft April 17.

1. Cleveland Browns- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

The rumors now are that the Browns are going to select Josh Allen with the first overall pick. How long will this rumor last? Nobody knows. While Allen certainly has flaws in his decision-making and accuracy, he does have a strong arm and is athletic. He competed in all the drills at the combine and got some audible cheers when he displayed his arm strength. When general manager John Dorsey was with the Chiefs last year, he drafted a risky, strong-armed quarterback in Pat Mahomes and may take a similar risk this year, being that he has Tyrod Taylor behind center.

2. New York Giants- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

When one rumor starts, the other rumors will start. Now it looks like the Giants will select Darnold if he is still available. Darnold struggled this season with his decision-making which led to a lot of turnovers. He also has a flawed throwing motion. Although he went to the NFL Combine, he didn’t compete on the field and just interviewed with teams. Some have Darnold as their top quarterback, but his decision-making and ball security need to improve.

2018 NFL Mock draft April 17

Josh Rosen (Photo by washingtonpost.com)

3. New York Jets- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The Jets traded up to three and guaranteed themselves a quarterback, but they don’t even know who they will get. In this scenario, they would take Josh Rosen. No major questions about Rosen arose from the NFL Draft Combine interviews, which is good news for him. Rosen had to carry UCLA and ended up having a successful season. He needed to have a good year to clear up any doubts about his shoulder injury he suffered during his sophomore season.

4. Cleveland Browns- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Yes, the Browns did just sign Carlos Hyde, but Barkley is still the best player in the class. With the trades for Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland is making a concerted effort to improve the offense and with Barkley, they would have a lot of options in 2018.

5. Denver Broncos- Quenton Neslon, OG, Notre Dame

Denver is in a prime position to get the fourth best quarterback in the class, Quenton Nelson or trade down to other teams seeking quarterbacks. C.J. Anderson was just released, so they could be looking to draft Barkley, but he’s off the board. If they stay at this pick and John Elway isn’t enamored with the remaining quarterbacks, he will select Nelson. Nelson is one of the best players in the class and will be drafted early despite playing a position that doesn’t usually get talked about this soon. He has Hall of Fame potential.

6. Indianapolis Colts- Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, N.C. State

The Colts pulled off a fantastic trade and will likely still get their first target in the NFL Draft. They could even trade down again. Frank Reich will be looking forward to working with Andrew Luck. When he is back, the offense will figure itself out. They can improve the defense to make the team more complete when Luck comes back. Chubb is a great pass rusher who has 10 sacks in each of the past two seasons. He displayed a good combination of size and speed at the combine.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

He likely fits in best as a safety in the NFL, but can also play corner. Whichever he needs to play, he will excel at. His 4.47 40 yard dash time at the combine was right in line where he should have run. Tampa’s secondary needs to be upgraded immediately if they wish to compete in the NFC South.

8. Chicago Bears- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Chicago has signed Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel to bolster its wide receiver core. This means they may choose to address the secondary. The Ohio State product is a good cover corner, who isn’t afraid to get physical. He is a little slight and will need to put on some weight.

2018 NFL mock draft April 17

Tremaine Edmunds (Photo by roanoke.com)

9. San Francisco 49ers- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Edmunds does just about everything on the football field well, as a good cover linebacker, rusher and run stopper. He is also big and athletic. San Francisco could have some serious linebacker issues if Reuben Foster is not able to play due to his off the field issues.

10. Oakland Raiders- Vita Vea, DT/NT, Washington

Vea can play both defensive tackle and nose tackle, depending on the scheme a team runs, which is valuable. He has great size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds, which makes him disruptive. Vea did suffer a hamstring injury at the combine. Oakland needs to get someone on the interior of the defensive line to stop the run and take some of the blockers off of Khalil Mack.

11. Miami Dolphins- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith was the best linebacker in college football this year and does a little bit of everything well. He is especially fast, which is crucial for his coverage and tracking down of ball carriers. The Dolphins have Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso, but McMillan got injured before his impact could be seen. They will still need a third linebacker.

12. Buffalo Bills- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Bills are trying to move up again to get a quarterback but could be deciding between Mayfield and Lamar Jackson. Mayfield has defied all the critics who have mentioned his size as a reason not to draft him. He can make all the throws and is athletic enough to avoid pass rushers. His main calling card is his accuracy, which is the best in this draft class. He said as much in his interviews with the media at the NFL Combine.

13. Washington Redskins- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

Washington’s interior of the defensive line can be improved, as they allowed the most rushing yards per game in the NFL. Payne’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he often gets double teamed. He is very athletic for his size and even played some offense in certain situations for Nick Saban at Alabama.

14. Green Bay Packers- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson turned into an All-American corner at Iowa this season and has shown the ability to make acrobatic interceptions. The Packers don’t have much at corner and will need to improve the pass defense to keep up in their division.

15. Arizona Cardinals- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Cardinals signed an injury-prone quarterback in Sam Bradford, and Mike Glennon, so they need to protect them. Orlando Brown had a rough combine, while Connor Williams has some questions about his length. McGlinchey might be the safest pick because even if he can’t be a great left tackle, he can move over to the right and be successful.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Ridley is the best route-runner in the class and only lacked production in college because of the system he played in and inconsistent quarterback play. The Ravens signed Michael Crabtree, but still need a lot of receiver help, which they can fill with this selection.

2018 NFL mock draft April 18

Derwin James (photo by bucsnation.com)

17. Los Angeles Chargers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

He is athletic but doesn’t necessarily have a set position, which is turning some teams off. He ran a 4.48 at the combine and has great size for a defensive back, making him valuable. The Chargers could use him next Jahleel Addae and have a solid safety pair.

18. Seattle Seahawks- Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

Davenport has the build of a great pass rusher and can rush from the outside linebacker position, but reports are the media like him more than NFL teams do. The Seahawks lost Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril may not be the same player with his neck injury. They will need to make up for the loss in production.

19. Dallas Cowboys- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Evans is a quick, run stopping linebacker that can help out right away. He can fit in next to Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee. With Lee’s injury history it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have another linebacker ready to step in as well.

20. Detroit Lions- Isaiah Wynn, OG/C, Georgia

Detroit needs to have a better run game in order to have a more balanced offense. Running back is a position they will likely address in this draft, but can start by improving the interior offensive line play. Wynn played well in the Senior Bowl and the College Football Playoff for Georgia. He played tackle in college and will move inside for the NFL.

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State

Cincinnati got Cordy Glenn with their trade down to this pick, but their offensive line is still very weak. Price has tons of experience at guard and center for Ohio State and will start right away.

22. Buffalo Bills- James Daniels, C, Iowa

When Eric Wood had to retire, the Bills lost a great player. They also traded Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati and need to upgrade their offensive line. Daniels has risen up draft boards lately and can immediately fill in for Wood. This pick may be traded if they move up higher to draft a quarterback.

23. New England Patriots- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

The Patriots just traded for this pick by giving the Rams Brandin Cooks. Having two first-round picks is an odd territory for New England to be in. They are reportedly interested in Rudolph and have brought him in for a visit. Brian Hoyer is the current backup, but the Patriots need another young quarterback after trading Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo.

24. Carolina Panthers- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

The Panthers signed Julius Peppers, but he won’t last much longer and they aren’t very deep at defensive end. Landry had a great 2016 season that put him on the map and followed it up with a solid season this year.

2018 NFL mock draft April 18

Sam Hubbard (Photo by bleacherreport.com)

25. Tennessee Titans- Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State

Tennessee has Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan but can use a young pass rusher as well. Hubbard lacks elite athleticism, but can get after the quarterback and stops the run well for and edge rusher.

26. Atlanta Falcons- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Atlanta needs another corner to pair with Desmond Trufant and should try to take one early. Davis is a lengthy corner that has experience covering some good receivers in the SEC.

27. New Orleans Saints- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Six quarterbacks going in the first round is looking like more of a likelihood. The Saints signed Tom Savage, but that’s not going to solve their issue after Brees retires. Taysom Hill is a backup they reportedly love, but he wasn’t highly thought of out of BYU. Jackson will likely go higher than this with a team trading up for him.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Vander Esch is another player that has been moving up draft boards. With Ryan Shazier not playing next year, the Steelers signed Jon Bostic. He and Vince Williams will start, but that leaves a lot to be desired.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Sutton is a great outside receiver, who produced a lot at SMU. He does have some questions as to if he can produce against NFL competition. The Jaguars have a decent crop of young receivers but could use some more help at the position after the loss of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Brown had a bad combine, which may hurt his stock a little, but his game tape is great and shows a mauler. He may not have the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL but could be a great right tackle. The Vikings’ offensive line is much better than last year, but can still be improved. With a good offense and defense, they can afford to make a good unit better.

31. New England Patriots- Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

With Malcolm Butler leaving, the Patriots need more help at corner. Hughes is a good cover corner, but has some off the field concerns.

32. Philadelphia Eagles- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

They just won the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback and have a very solid roster. This pick could depend a lot on the health status of left tackle Jason Peters. If he isn’t healthy they’ll need a tackle. Williams’ draft stock has been all over the place, going from early first round to third round back into the first round.

 

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2018 NFL Draft quarterbacks

Best fits for top 2018 NFL quarterback prospects: Part II

Welcome to the second of a two part series examining the best fits for the top six quarterback prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. You can check out the first part here. Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph go under the microscope this time around.

Playing matchmaker is a little tougher with these three. They are likely to go later in the first round, or perhaps even early in the second, but trades are always possible, especially in that part of the draft.

Baker Mayfield: Arizona Cardinals 

Carson Palmer is retired. No one is mistaking Mike Glennon for a franchise quarterback. Sadly, it is not a matter of if Sam Bradford will get hurt again, but when. Arizona is the most quarterback needy team in the entire draft.

Mayfield’s roughness around the edges is well documented on and off the field. Being drafted to a locker room with veterans like Larry Fitzgerald would go a long way towards smoothing out Mayfield’s character flaws.

On the field, the Cardinals have no long-term quarterback plan, even if Bradford makes it through 2018 healthy. They need one. Mayfield is a legitimate duel threat, but the numbers say he would much rather throw. He never averaged more than 3.2 yards per carry in college. Defense in the Big 12 is bad, but it is not hard to see why there is great intrigue around the reigning Heisman Trophy winner at the next level. He threw 81 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions in his last two years of college.

Other than being a tick too short, He has all the stats and physical attributes NFL people look for. There is more than enough there to ignore the concerns over his arrest and less than sportsmanlike behavior on the field. His ability to ad lib when plays break down should also serve him well if he is thrown on the field as a rookie.

Picking at No. 15, Arizona’s quarterback options are somewhat limited without a trade, but there is some talent on the roster. Mayfield’s upside in a situation like the Cardinals is endless.

Lamar Jackson: Buffalo Bills 

This was the toughest prospect to pair with a team. Any quarterback who weighs just over 200 pounds and has 655 rushing attempts in three years of college football is going to have a short and painful NFL career, unless their game is retooled through coaching. Concerns about size and running too much aside, Jackson’s college numbers and pure athleticism are going to earn him a long look in the NFL.

In Buffalo, AJ McCarron is there on a two-year deal to keep the team competitive while it searches for long-term quarterback. Early returns on the Nathan Peterman experiment have been disastrous. Even though Buffalo could not wait to get rid of him, Tyrod Taylor did lead Buffalo to the playoffs last year. Taylor is a decent pro comparison for Jackson, so the coaching staff would be well-suited to coach him.

The former Heisman Trophy winner going to Buffalo makes sense in terms of both need and draft position. Jackson’s college production shows that he is capable of learning how to become an NFL pocket passer.

Mason Rudolph: New England Patriots

Whether he realizes it or not, Tom Brady is 40 years old. With Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco, the Patriots have no plan for Brady’s successor. Recent reports have New England taking a shine to Jackson. However, it is hard to imagine Bill Belichick taking a chance on an undersized quarterback who some would argue is a better runner than thrower.

2018 NFL Draft quarterbacks

(Photo from zambio.com)

Rudolph is the all-time leading passer at Oklahoma State. He specializes in the vertical passing game that dominates the NFL landscape today. 10 percent of his dropbacks in college resulted in at least a 25-yard completion. Rudolph needs a little polishing to go from Oklahoma State’s gun-slinging offense to the NFL.

New England is the perfect place for him to get that. He can learn from Brady for a while. Then he can either succeed him or get a big payday somewhere else like other Patriot backup quarterbacks have done. Regardless of which quarterback ends up there, New England is an ideal spot. Rudolph is the best fit.

More than just the six teams mentioned in these two articles could be in the quarterback market early in the draft. New Orleans, Denver and Miami could all be additional players in the market for rookie signal callers. With so many teams potentially needing quarterbacks, some of the prospects ranked seventh and lower in the quarterback class will eventually be asked to make an impact as well.

 

Featured image from clutchpoints.com

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2018 NFL mock draft April 10

It’s just two and a half weeks until the NFL Draft. With the draft coming up at the end of the month, who will each team pick in the first round?

1. Cleveland Browns- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

The rumors now are that the Browns are going to select Josh Allen with the first overall pick. How long will this rumor last? Nobody knows. While Allen certainly has flaws in his decision-making and accuracy, he does have a strong arm and is athletic. He competed in all the drills at the combine and got some audible cheers when he displayed his arm strength. When general manager John Dorsey was with the Chiefs last year, he drafted a risky, strong-armed quarterback in Pat Mahomes and may take a similar risk this year, being that he has Tyrod Taylor behind center.

2. New York Giants- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

When one rumor starts, the other rumors will start. Now it looks like the Giants will select Darnold if he is still available. Darnold struggled this season with his decision-making which led to a lot of turnovers. He also has a flawed throwing motion. Although he went to the NFL Combine, he didn’t compete on the field and just interviewed with teams. Some have Darnold as their top quarterback, but his decision-making and ball security need to improve.

3. New York Jets- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The Jets traded up to three and guaranteed themselves a quarterback, but they don’t even know who they will get. In this scenario, they would take Josh Rosen. No major questions about Rosen arose from the NFL Draft Combine interviews, which is good news for him. Rosen had to carry UCLA and ended up having a successful season. He needed to have a good year to clear up any doubts about his shoulder injury he suffered during his sophomore season.

4. Cleveland Browns- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Yes, the Browns did just sign Carlos Hyde, but Barkley is still the best player in the class. With the trades for Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland is making a concerted effort to improve the offense and with Barkley, they would have a lot of options in 2018.

2018 NFL mock draft April 10

Quenton Nelson (Photo by onefootdown.com)

5. Denver Broncos- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Denver is in a prime position to get the fourth best quarterback in the class, Quenton Nelson or trade down to other teams seeking quarterbacks. If they stay at this pick and John Elway isn’t enamored with the remaining quarterbacks, he will select Nelson. Nelson is one of the best players in the class and will be drafted early despite playing a position that doesn’t usually get talked about this soon. He has Hall of Fame potential.

6. Indianapolis Colts- Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, N.C. State

The Colts pulled off a fantastic trade and will likely still get their first target in the NFL Draft. They could even trade down again. Frank Reich will be looking forward to working with Andrew Luck. When he is back, the offense will figure itself out. They can improve the defense to make the team more complete when Luck comes back. Chubb is a great pass rusher who has 10 sacks in each of the past two seasons. He displayed a good combination of size and speed at the combine.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

He likely fits in best as a safety in the NFL, but can also play corner. Whichever he needs to play, he will excel at. His 4.47 40 yard dash time at the combine was right in line where he should have run. Tampa’s secondary needs to be upgraded immediately if they wish to compete in the NFC South.

8. Chicago Bears- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Chicago has signed Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel to bolster its wide receiver core. This means they may choose to address the secondary. The Ohio State product is a good cover corner, who isn’t afraid to get physical. He is a little slight and will need to put on some weight.

9. San Francisco 49ers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

Eric Reid is a free agent, which leaves Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt at safety. Neither has been overly consistent throughout their careers and the 49ers will likely feel the loss of Reid. He is athletic but doesn’t necessarily have a set position, which is turning some teams off. He ran a 4.48 at the combine and has great size for a defensive back, making him valuable.

10. Oakland Raiders- Vita Vea, DT/NT, Washington

Vea can play both defensive tackle and nose tackle, depending on the scheme a team runs, which is valuable. He has great size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds, which makes him disruptive. Vea did suffer a hamstring injury at the combine. Oakland needs to get someone on the interior of the defensive line to stop the run and take some of the blockers off of Khalil Mack.

11. Miami Dolphins- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith was the best linebacker in college football this year and does a little bit of everything well. He is especially fast, which is crucial for his coverage and tracking down of ball carriers. The Dolphins have Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso, but McMillan got injured before his impact could be seen. They will still need a third linebacker.

2018 NFL mock draft April 10

Baker Mayfield (Photo by fansided.com)

12. Buffalo Bills- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Bills are trying to move up again to get a quarterback but could be deciding between Mayfield and Lamar Jackson. Mayfield has defied all the critics who have mentioned his size as a reason not to draft him. He can make all the throws and is athletic enough to avoid pass rushers. His main calling card is his accuracy, which is the best in this draft class. He said as much in his interviews with the media at the NFL Combine.

13. Washington Redskins- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

Washington’s interior of the defensive line can be improved, as they allowed the most rushing yards per game in the NFL. Payne’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he often gets double teamed. He is very athletic for his size and even played some offense in certain situations for Nick Saban at Alabama.

14. Green Bay Packers- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Edmunds does just about everything on the football field well, as a good cover linebacker, rusher and run stopper. He is also big and athletic. The Packers need to make the defense better for when Aaron Rodgers gets the offense going again and he has alluded to it as much this offseason.

15. Arizona Cardinals- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Cardinals signed an injury-prone quarterback in Sam Bradford, and Mike Glennon, so they need to protect them. Orlando Brown had a rough combine, while Connor Williams has some questions about his length. McGlinchey might be the safest pick because even if he can’t be a great left tackle, he can move over to the right and be successful.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Ridley is the best route-runner in the class and only lacked production in college because of the system he played in and inconsistent quarterback play. The Ravens signed Michael Crabtree, but still need a lot of receiver help, which they can fill with this selection.

17. Los Angeles Chargers- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

The Chargers need safety and defensive tackle help, but could also use a linebacker. Evans is a quick, run stopping linebacker that can help out right away.

18. Seattle Seahawks- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson turned into an All-American corner at Iowa this season and has shown the ability to make acrobatic interceptions. With Richard Sherman gone, the Seahawks need a corner and can take Jackson if they feel he can fit in their zone-coverage scheme.

2018 NFL mock draft april 10

Taven Bryan (Photo by gridironnow.com)

19. Dallas Cowboys- Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

The Cowboys need interior defensive line depth could pick up Bryan here. He’s very athletic and can be a depth player until he develops into a starter.

20. Detroit Lions- Isaiah Wynn, OG/C, Georgia

Detroit needs to have a better run game in order to have a more balanced offense. Running back is a position they will likely address in this draft, but can start by improving the interior offensive line play. Wynn played well in the Senior Bowl and the College Football Playoff for Georgia. He played tackle in college and will move inside for the NFL.

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State

Cincinnati got Cordy Glenn with their trade down to this pick, but their offensive line is still very weak. Price has tons of experience at guard and center for Ohio State and will start right away.

22. Buffalo Bills- James Daniels, C, Iowa

When Eric Wood had to retire, the Bills lost a great player. They also traded Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati and need to upgrade their offensive line. Daniels has risen up draft boards lately and can immediately fill in for Wood. This pick may be traded if they move up higher to draft a quarterback.

23. New England Patriots- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

The Patriots just traded for this pick by giving the Rams Brandin Cooks. Having two first-round picks is an odd territory for New England to be in. They are reportedly interested in Rudolph and have brought him in for a visit. Brian Hoyer is the current backup, but the Patriots need another young quarterback after trading Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo.

24. Carolina Panthers- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

The Panthers signed Julius Peppers, but he won’t last much longer and they aren’t very deep at defensive end. Landry had a great 2016 season that put him on the map and followed it up with a solid season this year.

25. Tennessee Titans- Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

Davenport has the build of a great pass rusher and can rush from the outside linebacker position, but reports are the media like him more than NFL teams do. The Titans have Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan but can use a young pass rusher as well.

26. Atlanta Falcons- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn 

Atlanta needs another corner to pair with Desmond Trufant and should try to take one early. Davis is a lengthy corner that has experience covering some good receivers in the SEC.

2018 NFL mock draft April 10

Lamar Jackson (Photo by dawgsbynature.com)

27. New Orleans Saints- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Six quarterbacks going in the first round is looking like more of a likelihood. The Saints signed Tom Savage, but that’s not going to solve their issue after Brees retires. Taysom Hill is a backup they reportedly love, but he wasn’t highly thought of out of BYU. Jackson will likely go higher than this with a team trading up for him.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Vander Esch is another player that has been moving up draft boards. With Ryan Shazier not playing next year, the Steelers signed Jon Bostic. Him and Vince Williams will start, but that leaves a lot to be desired.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Sutton is a great outside receiver, who produced a lot at SMU. He does have some questions as to if he can produce against NFL competition. The Jaguars have a decent crop of young receivers but could use some more help at the position after the loss of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Brown had a bad combine, which may hurt his stock a little, but his game tape is great and shows a mauler. He may not have the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL but could be a great right tackle. The Vikings’ offensive line is much better than last year, but can still be improved. With a good offense and defense, they can afford to make a good unit better.

31. New England Patriots- Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

With Malcolm Butler leaving, the Patriots need more help at corner. Jackson is a fast corner who is good in man to man coverage.

32. Philadelphia Eagles- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

They just won the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback and have a very solid roster. This pick could depend a lot on the health status of left tackle Jason Peters. If he isn’t healthy they’ll need a tackle. Williams’ draft stock has been all over the place, going from early first round to third round back into the first round.

 

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2018 NFL mock draft April 3

It’s officially draft month as the calendar has flipped to April. With the draft coming up at the end of the month, who will each team pick in the first round?

2018 NFL Mock draft April 3

Josh Allen (Photo by usatoday.com)

1. Cleveland Browns- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

The rumors now are that the Browns are going to select Josh Allen with the first overall pick. How long will this rumor last? Nobody knows. While Allen certainly has flaws in his decision-making and accuracy, he does have a strong arm and is athletic. He competed in all the drills at the combine and got some audible cheers when he displayed his arm strength. When general manager John Dorsey was with the Chiefs last year, he drafted a risky, strong-armed quarterback in Pat Mahomes and may take a similar risk this year, being that he has Tyrod Taylor behind center.

2. New York Giants- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

When one rumor starts, the other rumors will start. Now it looks like the Giants will select Darnold if he is still available. Darnold struggled this season with his decision-making which led to a lot of turnovers. He also has a flawed throwing motion. Although he went to the NFL Combine, he didn’t compete on the field and just interviewed with teams. Some have Darnold as their top quarterback, but his decision-making and ball security need to improve.

3. New York Jets- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The Jets traded up to three and guaranteed themselves a quarterback, but they don’t even know who they will get. In this scenario, they would take Josh Rosen. No major questions about Rosen arose from the NFL Draft Combine interviews, which is good news for him. Rosen had to carry UCLA and ended up having a successful season. He needed to have a good year to clear up any doubts about his shoulder injury he suffered during his sophomore season.

4. Cleveland Browns- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Yes, the Browns did just sign Carlos Hyde, but Barkley is still the best player in the class. With the trades for Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland is making a concerted effort to improve the offense and with Barkley, they would have a lot of options in 2018.

5. Denver Broncos- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Denver is in a prime position to get the fourth best quarterback in the class, Quenton Nelson or trade down to other teams seeking quarterbacks. If they stay at this pick and John Elway isn’t enamored with the remaining quarterbacks, he will select Nelson. Nelson is one of the best players in the class and will be drafted early despite playing a position that doesn’t usually get talked about this soon. He has Hall of Fame potential.

6. Indianapolis Colts- Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, N.C. State

The Colts pulled off a fantastic trade and will likely still get their first target in the NFL Draft. They could even trade down again. Frank Reich will be looking forward to working with Andrew Luck. When he is back, the offense will figure itself out. They can improve the defense to make the team more complete when Luck comes back. Chubb is a great pass rusher who has 10 sacks in each of the past two seasons. He displayed a good combination of size and speed at the combine.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

He likely fits in best as a safety in the NFL, but can also play corner. Whichever he needs to play, he will excel at. His 4.47 40 yard dash time at the combine was right in line where he should have run. Tampa’s secondary needs to be upgraded immediately if they wish to compete in the NFC South.

8. Chicago Bears- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Chicago has signed Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel to bolster its wide receiver core. This means they may choose to address the secondary. The Ohio State product is a good cover corner, who isn’t afraid to get physical. He is a little slight and will need to put on some weight.

9. San Francisco 49ers- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Ridley is the best route-runner in the class and only lacked production in college because of the system he played in and inconsistent quarterback play. If they want to have a good offense, they will need to have a good target for Jimmy Garopolo.

2018 NFL Mock draft April 3

Vita Vea (Photo by nfldraftdiamonds.com)

10. Oakland Raiders- Vita Vea, DT/NT, Washington

Vea can play both defensive tackle and nose tackle, depending on the scheme a team runs, which is valuable. He has great size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds, which makes him disruptive. Vea did suffer a hamstring injury at the combine. Oakland needs to get someone on the interior of the defensive line to stop the run and take some of the blockers off of Khalil Mack.

11. Miami Dolphins- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith was the best linebacker in college football this year and does a little bit of everything well. He is especially fast, which is crucial for his coverage and tracking down of ball carriers. The Dolphins have Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso, but McMillan got injured before his impact could be seen. They will still need a third linebacker.

12. Buffalo Bills- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Bills are trying to move up again to get a quarterback but could be deciding between Mayfield and Lamar Jackson. Mayfield has defied all the critics who have mentioned his size as a reason not to draft him. He can make all the throws and is athletic enough to avoid pass rushers. His main calling card is his accuracy, which is the best in this draft class. He said as much in his interviews with the media at the NFL Combine.

13. Washington Redskins- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

Washington’s interior of the defensive line can be improved, as they allowed the most rushing yards per game in the NFL. Payne’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he often gets double teamed. He is very athletic for his size and even played some offense in certain situations for Nick Saban at Alabama.

14. Green Bay Packers- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Edmunds does just about everything on the football field well, as a good cover linebacker, rusher and run stopper. He is also big and athletic. The Packers need to make the defense better for when Aaron Rodgers gets the offense going again and he has alluded to it as much this offseason.

15. Arizona Cardinals- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Cardinals signed an injury-prone quarterback in Sam Bradford, and Mike Glennon, so they need to protect them. Orlando Brown had a rough combine, while Connor Williams has some questions about his length. McGlinchey might be the safest pick because even if he can’t be a great left tackle, he can move over to the right and be successful.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Sutton is a great outside receiver, who produced a lot at SMU. Baltimore signed Michael Crabtree, but need more talent at the receiver position as a whole.

2018 NFL mock draft April 3

Derwin James (photo by tallahassee.com)

17. Los Angeles Chargers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

Some of the trades that have happened in the last few weeks have helped teams that weren’t even in them. Now James might fall to the Chargers, who need a safety. He is athletic but doesn’t necessarily have a set position, which is turning some teams off. He ran a 4.48 at the combine and has great size for a defensive back, making him valuable.

18. Seattle Seahawks- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson turned into an All-American corner at Iowa this season and has shown the ability to make acrobatic interceptions. With Richard Sherman gone, the Seahawks need a corner and can take Jackson if they feel he can fit in their zone-coverage scheme.

19. Dallas Cowboys- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Evans is a quick, run stopping linebacker that can help out right away. The Cowboys current linebackers all have played different positions throughout their career, so Evans should be able to slide in and produce alongside them.

20. Detriot Lions- Taven Bryan, DT, Michigan

The Lions could go with an offensive lineman or running back, but they do have some holes on the defensive line. Taven Bryan could take some pressure off of Ziggy Ansah.

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State

Cincinnati got Cordy Glenn with their trade down to this pick, but their offensive line is still very weak. Price has tons of experience at guard and center for Ohio State and will start right away.

22. Buffalo Bills- James Daniels, C, Iowa

When Eric Wood had to retire, the Bills lost a great player. They also traded Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati and need to upgrade their offensive line. Daniels has risen up draft boards lately and can immediately fill in for Wood. This pick may be traded if they move up higher to draft a quarterback.

23. Los Angeles Rams- Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

Los Angeles will get good pressure from Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald, but need better outside pass rushers, especially after trading Robert Quinn to Miami. Davenport has the build of a great pass rusher and can rush from the outside linebacker position, but reports are the media like him more than NFL teams do.

24. Carolina Panthers- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

The Panthers signed Julius Peppers, but he won’t last much longer and they aren’t very deep at defensive end. Landry had a great 2016 season that put him on the map and followed it up with a solid season this year.

25. Tennessee Titans- Isaiah Wynn, OG/C, Georgia

Wynn played well in the Senior Bowl and the College Football Playoff for Georgia. He played tackle in college and will move inside for the NFL. The Titans need to improve the interior of their offensive line to help their young players at skill positions.

2018 NFL mock draft April 3

Carlton Davis (Photo by al.com)

26. Atlanta Falcons- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Atlanta needs another corner to pair with Desmond Trufant and should try to take one early. Davis is a lengthy corner that has experience covering some good receivers in the SEC.

27. New Orleans Saints- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Vander Esch is another player that has been moving up draft boards. The Saints don’t have much at linebacker and can get a starter from day one here.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Jackson will likely go higher than this with a team trading up for him. The Steelers could take a quarterback because Ben Roethlisberger is often injured and has recently contemplated retirement. The organization has some experience with ahtletic quarterbacks, albeit a long time ago with Kordell Stewart, and can use Jackson similarly early in his career if Roethlisberger stays healthy.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M 

Kirk is dynamic when he has the ball in his hands and can play in the slot or on the outside. Jacksonville really doesn’t have too many needs and have said they are sticking with Blake Bortles at quarterback. The Jaguars have a decent crop of young receivers but could use some more help at the position after the loss of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Brown had a bad combine, which may hurt his stock a little, but his game tape is great and shows a mauler. He may not have the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL but could be a great right tackle. The Vikings’ offensive line is much better than last year, but can still be improved. With a good offense and defense, they can afford to make a good unit better.

31. New England Patriots- Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

With Malcolm Butler leaving, the Patriots need more help at corner. Jackson is a fast corner who is good in man to man coverage.

32. Philadelphia Eagles- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

They just won the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback and have a very solid roster. This pick could depend a lot on the health status of left tackle Jason Peters. If he isn’t healthy they’ll need a tackle. Williams’ draft stock has been all over the place, going from early first round to third round back into the first round.

 

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Buffalo Bills 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is just under a month away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Buffalo Bills 2018 NFL Draft profile.

Summary

The Buffalo Bills 2017 season culminated in a Wild-Card playoff berth, snapping a 17-year drought for the franchise. After some interesting preseason trades, the Bills started off 5-2. However, they dropped five of their last nine games to finish 9-7.

Buffalo Bills 2018 NFL Draft profile

Photo from NBC Sports

Offensively, the Bills ranked 29th in yards and 22nd in points. They were led by the lethal combination of LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor on the ground.

The offense finished in the top six in rushing attempts and rushing yards. It also finished with the sixth fewest turnovers. However, they struggled to consistently throw the football to keep opposing defenses honest. As a result, five of the Bills nine wins were by six points or less.

The defensive side of the ball was below average in terms of allowing yards on the ground and through the air. They were 20th and 29th in yards allowed in passing and rushing respectively, but the Bills were 18th in points allowed.

One thing this unit excelled at was creating turnovers. The Bills were ninth in turnovers and had seven games in which they created two or more turnovers.

Sean McDermott and company made waves this offseason by trading Tyrod Taylor to the Browns and signing AJ McCarron in free agency. Many perceived this as a head-scratching move. Why would the Bills trade their quarterback who led them to the playoffs?

Well, they clearly believed that Taylor was not capable of taking them deep into the playoffs, and that this team needed to move on. If the Bills want to get their quarterback of the future in this draft, they certainly have the assets to do so.

Picks and Needs

The Buffalo Bills are in a unique position. They are a playoff team with nine total picks, including multiple first round picks and one pick inside the top 15.

First round (2 picks): 12, 22

Second round (2): 53, 56

Third round (2): 65, 96

Fourth round (1): 121

Fifth round (1): 166

Sixth round (1): 187

Seventh round (0):

Offensive needs:

Quarterback – AJ McCarron’s contract is two years in length, meaning the Bills have the 2018 and 2019 draft to find their future franchise player. The only question is will they move up and take one of the top prospects, or a more developmental player to learn behind McCarron?

Tackle – Cordy Glenn’s departure is significant because it puts a strain on the Bills’ depth at this position. It is likely that Dion Dawkins will play at left tackle after a promising rookie year, which will thrust Jordan Mills into a starting position at right tackle. He has experience playing, but the Bills should bolster this position if they decide an upgrade is not needed.

Wide receiver – The Bills will need to add a more dynamic player on the perimeter. Specifically, they need to add a player who will make plays downfield.

Defensive needs:

Linebacker – In a 4-3 defense, the Mike linebacker is incredibly important when it comes to communication and stopping inside runs. According to Pro Football Focus, Ramon Humber is slated to start at this position. Humber has been incredibly inconsistent during his nine-year tenure in the league and should not start for the Bills Week 1.

Defensive tackle – Star Lotulelei’s play has declined steadily since his rookie season in 2013. It is possible he will rebound for the Bills in 2018, but Buffalo should look to shore up this position even further.

Cornerback – Tre’Davious White was incredible in his rookie year for this secondary. Consequently, that meant teams would continually target the player opposite White. Hopefully Vontae Davis will have a resurgence in 2018, but the Bills could have an incredible secondary if they can find a talented starter to compliment White, Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde.

Targets

First round:

Pick No. 12: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

The Bills completely fill out their secondary. Jackson, who intercepted eight passes last season, would be perfect for this playmaking defense. Pairing him with the newly acquired Vontae Davis would give them talent and depth in their secondary. He is a bit inexperienced, but talented nonetheless.

Pick No. 22: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The Bills would acquire a huge talent in Jackson. His upside is incredible, but he would benefit from not starting in his rookie year. While Jackson and Taylor are similar, they are not identical. Jackson is not as thick as Taylor. However, Jackson is vastly superior to Taylor in terms of throwing the ball downfield.

Second round:

Pick No. 53: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

The Bills could add an incredibly talented player at the wide receiver position with Brown. He is an incredible specimen. The 6-foot-5, 214-pound receiver ran a 4.48 at the combine. His production and draft stock are a reflection of poor quarterback play, not his ability.

Pick No. 56: RJ McIntosh, DT, Miami

McIntosh would provide additional depth for the Bills and could potentially be an insurance policy should the signing of Star Lotulelei not work out. Also, he is a good fit for the Bills’ 4-3 scheme.

Third round:

Pick No. 65: Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

Faulk completed over 65 percent of his passes in college and is a similar, more slight of frame version of AJ McCarron. He would be a developmental pick in case McCarron and Jackson do not work out.

Pick No. 96: Geron Christian, OT, Louisville

Geron Christian will add depth at one of the most important positions on the field. If given time and proper coaching on his technique, Christian can start at left tackle.

Conclusion

The Bills are in a great spot. With their run-first offensive identity and playmaking defense, this team is poised to make another run at a Wild Card berth in 2018.

Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the Washington Redskins 2018 NFL Draft profile.

 

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