1. Cleveland Browns – USC QB, Sam Darnold – Purportedly several NFL GM’s view Darnold as the number one guy. Daniel Jeremiah began singing Darnold’s praises after his 2016 season. I’m not buying the “Josh Allen at One” narratives that Dorsey loves arm strength more than overall play.
  2. Buffalo Bills (projected trade) –  UCLA QB, Josh Rosen – Bills GM Brandon Beane would have to overspend to get to number two, but trading away Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati and trading up period makes no sense if they don’t get their guy.  Rosen’s perceived as being ready to start sooner than other QB prospects in this draft. The name at QB1 for the Bills depth chart is A.J. McCarron, easily the most unproven QB set to start 2018.
  3. New York Jets (traded with Colts) – Wyoming QB, Josh Allen – Baker Mayfield is a real possibility here. Allen has high upside and plenty of mentorship opportunity from Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater to learn from. Allen had a great combine. Based on who GM Mike Maccagnan has drafted in the past, I think he’ll like Josh Allen better than Baker.
  4. Cleveland Browns – PSU RB, Saquon Barkley – At one point it was considered possible that Cleveland would take Barkley first overall after they signed Tyrod Taylor. Getting Barkley with their fourth would be the best possible scenario for Cleveland.
  5. Denver Broncos –  OU QB, Baker Mayfield – I can’t buy the Quenton Nelson hot takes here. Bradley Chubb is possible at five. Based on analytics, Baker Mayfield’s the only QB worth drafting in this class.  Denver QB Case Keenum was an extremely prolific 6 foot college passer who could get along with Baker until Denver feels comfortable with him. Denver traditionally values defense but I imagine John Elway will drool over the chance to land a QB with the potential of Baker.
  6. Indianapolis Colts – NCST DE, Bradley Chubb – The Colts get their guy anyway. Chubb fills an enormous need for Indy. They are garbage rushing the passer. Minkah would be a value pick here as well.
  7. Tampa Bay – FSU SS, Derwin James – James graded extremely well on ProFootballFocus.com and has impressive measurables. The Bucs would like to get Chubb at seven, but will settle for a hometown value defensive back.
  8. Chicago Bears – Notre Dame OL, Quenton Nelson – Nelson’s a blue chip guard prospect. The Bears have a hole to fill after losing Josh Sitton, one of the league’s top guards in free agency.
  9. San Francisco 49ers – Va. Tech LB, Tremaine Edmunds – Edmunds has crazy measurables and gives the 49ers leverage with the Reuben Foster situation. I’m a 49ers fan and want them to draft Maurice Hurst here. Hurst is a medical scare and won’t go top ten.
  10. Raiders – UGA LB Roquan Smith – Smith earned the prestigious Dick Butkus award given to the top linebacker in 2017. The Raiders had a gaping hole at run defense and smith is a top prospect who should be able to start contributing immediately.
  11. Miami Dolphins – Nick Saban U., Minkah Fitzpatrick – Fitzpatricks’ a top defensive back who can fill in at safety or corner. The ‘Phins struggled at corner last year. This is probably Gase’s last season, but Minkah a stud prospect for the short term and long term. Fitzpatrick was a huge part of Alabama’s championship run in 2017.
  12. New York Giants – BC OLB/DE, Harold Landry – Tom Coughlin is no longer with the organization, but the Giants personnel will recall how much success Boston College defenders over the years have had in the NFL. The Giants live and die on defense. Landry can start immediately and should form a beast with the other assets on the defensive line (Dalvin Tomlinson, Olivier Vernon).
  13. Washington Redskins – The Ohio State CB, Denzel Ward – The Redskins lost starting CBs Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason. The Redskins could also go with DT Vita Vea to assist with their run defense struggles.
  14. Green Bay Packers – Nick Saban U. WR, Calvin Ridley – Green Bay is in love with the Crimson Tide and are surprisingly light on wide receivers after letting Jordy Nelson walk. Ridley was the focal point of the championship Crimson Tide offense for years. Josh Jackson from Iowa is a possibility here.
  15. Arizona Cardinals – Louisville QB, Lamar Jackson – Jackson is a project, but the Cardinals are the team that can groom a raw rookie passer. Jackson has a cannon arm and top athleticism. Bradford can mentor Jackson and they have enough weapons on offense that the QB doesn’t have to win the game by himself.
  16. Baltimore Ravens – Maryland WR, D.J. Moore – ESPN released an analytics report raving about D.J. Moore’s production at Maryland. While not huge or fast, Moore is incredibly sure-handed and productive, two qualities Baltimore desperately needs at wide receiver. Their top wideout is Michael Crabtree.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – UW DT, Vita Vea – The Chargers had a stud pass defense and an atrocious rush defense in 2017. The Chargers could also rebuild their offensive line here with Connor Williams or Isaiah Wynn.
18. Seattle Seahawks – Iowa CB, Josh Jackson – Of the many needs Seattle has, defensive back has to be on Pete Carroll’s mind. Seattle also needs offensive line help outside of Duane Brown.
19. Dallas Cowboys – SMU WR, Courtland Sutton – Dez Bryant is still on the roster as of my writing this. Sutton is huge, performed well at the combine and could free up space for Dallas to pay DeMarcus Lawrence in 2019.
20. Detroit Lions – UTSA DE, Marcus Davenport – Ansah’s a productive pass rusher but he may not have the value to Detroit that he could have elsewhere. Ansah’s riding out a franchise tag, but if Matt Patricia is anything like his former head coach, he won’t want to pay Ansah long term. Davenport is the same type of risk/reward prospect Ansah was coming out of BYU.
21. Cincinnati Bengals from Buffalo Bills – UM DT, Maurice Hurst – The Bengals have needs at corner and offensive line. Hurst has a high ceiling and if his medical checks out he can pair GREAT with Bengals Ace DT Geno Atkins. Jaire Alexander could also go here.
22. New York Giants (Projected Trade) – Texas OT, Connor Williams – The Giants offensive line is pretty terrible. Pro Football Focus has it ranked as the 26th (out of 32) for 2017. The addition of Nate Solder will help, but even he’s a a slightly above average tackle. Williams could eventually take over at left tackle while starting at Right tackle immediately. Former first rounder Ereck Flowers hasn’t really panned out for the Giants.
23. Los Angeles Rams – BSU LB, Leighton Vander Esch – Esch is a bigger inside linebacker who excelled at Boise State. The Rams actually look pretty stacked on paper right now, with holes at inside linebacker. Esch is a high work ethic guy, Coach McVay will like that.
24. Carolina Panthers – UCLA OT, Kolton Miller – Left tackle has to be a priority for Carolina. Ryan Kalil will be retiring from center after 2018 and they will have little reason to keep under-performing Matt Kalil on the roster after that. Miller ran well at the combine. The Panthers could also look at Jaire Alexander here at corner.
25. Tennessee Titans – BC OLB, Harold Landry – The Titans could take a wide receiver here and it wouldn’t be a reach. I can’t imagine rookie head coach Mike Vrabel will take a wide receiver in round one when they can take Landry who has high potential at linebacker. Vrabel’s clearly a defensive mind and the Titans aren’t forced into drafting a certain position or player as they are solid at most core positions.
26. Atlanta Falcons – South Dakota State TE, Dallas Goedert – The Falcons offense in the postseason was Julio Jones vs. the world. Mohamed Sanu is a solid number two wideout, but Jones would benefit greatly by another red zone threat. The Falcons can drive the length of the field but stall in the redzone. Goedert can open up the offense for Matt Ryan.
27. New Orleans Saints – UGA OL, Isaiah Wynn – Drew Brees is still playing at a high level but he’s literally thirty-nine years old. The Saints hit the jackpot last draft getting Ryan Ramczyk, Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Williams, and Alvin Kamara in one draft, all of whom arguably played at a pro bowl level as rookies. Protecting Drew Brees should be paramount for this team. Wynn played a big part of Georgia’s playoff run as a left tackle.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Nick Saban U. LB, Rashaan Evans – The reality is that Ryan Shazier will not play in 2018. He may not play in 2019. The Steelers have to be ready at linebacker. The Steelers could also draft a running back here if they really want Bell gone, but they would’ve just let him walk if that was the plan all along. Evans is a trusty ‘Bama prospect who should be able to immediately contribute on D.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Louisville CB, Jaire Alexander – The Jags need a QB. I can’t imagine them drafting Luke Falk here. Alexander can fill in as a nickel corner until Jalen Ramsey’s rookie contract runs out and he’s demanding $25 million a year.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Okla. OT, Orlando Brown – The Vikings could look at slot corner here. This offensive line is SO BAD considering how good the team is. Brown’s conditioning got called into question when he under-performed at the combine. He’s got plus size and was successful in the College Football playoffs.
31. New England Patriots – Oregon OT, Tyrell Crosby – The Patriots will look at linebackers and quarterbacks here. They have the 49ers second round selection so they can maximize value and attempt to replace departed LT Nate Solder here. The Patriots could move Marcus Cannon to left tackle and have Crosby at right tackle until he’s ready to take over.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Western Michigan OT, Chukwuma ‘Chuks’ Okorafor – Jason Peters is 36. If he doesn’t retire he has one year left on his contract. Outside of their crazy depth, the Eagles are relevant because of their incredibly high offensive line play. Replacing or preparing to replace Jason Peters should be paramount for Coach Pederson.

  1. Cleveland Browns – USC QB, Sam Darnold – No QBs for the 2019 draft look better than Sam Darnold. Barkley is possible here. You could even argue John Dorsey could take Josh Allen. Darnold makes the most sense for Dorsey at one.
  2. Buffalo Bills (projected trade) –  UCLA QB, Josh Rosen – The Bills have a roster that can compete right now on defense. Rosen’s been described as the most pro ready of the QBs. A.J. McCarron  is not a long term answer. What the bills have done over the past three weeks makes no sense if they don’t trade up for a QB. Rosen is the best fit for where the Bills are in the AFC West competitively speaking.
  3. New York Jets (traded with Colts) – Wyoming QB, Josh Allen – The Jets won’t take Baker or Lamar Jackson here with Josh Allen available. Allen has high upside and plenty of mentorship opportunity from Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater to learn from. Allen had a great combine.
  4. Cleveland Browns – PSU RB, Saquon Barkley – At one point it was considered possible that Cleveland would take Barkley first overall after they signed Tyrod Taylor. Getting Barkley with their fourth would be the best possible scenario for Cleveland.
  5. Denver Broncos –  Notre Dame OL, Quenton Nelson – I don’t see John Elway falling in love with Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson at five overall. Minkah Fitzpatrick would be a value pick here. Nelson’s considered a slam dunk pick this draft and fills a need for a struggling Broncos offensive line.
  6. Indianapolis Colts – NCST DE, Bradley Chubb – The Colts get their guy anyway. Chubb fills an enormous need for Indy. They are garbage rushing the passer. Minkah would be a value pick here as well.
  7. Tampa Bay – Nick Saban U. DB, Minkah Fitzpatrick – Fitzpatrick is a blue chip corner-safety hybrid. This is a Best Player Available pick for Tampa. They have needs at offensive line and pass rush if Fitzpatrick is not available here.
  8. Chicago Bears – Notre Dame OT, Mike McGlinchey – Matt Nagy can take Derwin James here. Trubisky needs an offensive line that can keep him upright. Nagy comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree, who always liked to win games on the line of scrimmage.
  9. San Francisco 49ers – Va. Tech LB, Tremaine Edmunds – Edmunds has crazy measurables and gives the 49ers leverage with the Reuben Foster situation. I’m a 49ers fan and want them to draft Maurice Hurst here. Hurst is a medical scare and won’t go top ten.
  10. L.V. Raiders – FSU SS, Derwin James – Jon Gruden is a defense guy. ProFootballFocus has James as a stud defender going into the NFL. Raiders could also build the offensive line here with Will Hernandez or Connor Williams.
  11. Miami Dolphins – Okla. QBBaker Mayfield – Mayfield is a risky pick, but Gase is fighting for his job in 2018. The Dolphins could pick up Roquan Smith or Denzel Ward here.
  12. New York Giants – OKST. QB, Mason Rudolph – The Giants looked awful last year. They could take Calvin Ridley and try to compete right away. Eli struggled in 2017 and the Giants need to set themselves up for 2018 and beyond. Rudolph has a high ceiling.
  13. Washington Redskins – The Ohio State CB, Denzel Ward – The Redskins lost starting CBs Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason. The Redskins could also go with DT Vita Vea to assist with their run defense struggles.
  14. Green Bay Packers – UTEP OG, Will Hernandez – The Packers typically don’t draft interior offensive linemen early. Keeping Aaron Rodgers healthy has to be a priority for this ownership after watching 2017. Their offensive line struggled with injury and poor play this season.
  15. Arizona Cardinals – Louisville QB, Lamar Jackson – Jackson is a project, but the Cardinals are the team that can groom a raw rookie passer. Jackson has a cannon arm and top athleticism. Bradford can mentor Jackson and they have enough weapons on offense that the QB doesn’t have to win the game by himself.
  16. Baltimore Ravens – UGA ILB, Roquan Smith – Smith is actually a steal at sixteen. Smith is a little undersized, but the Ravens have a need at inside linebacker. The Ravens could take Calvin Ridley or jump on a QB if they fall to sixteen.

While I am not a Titans fan, I loved listening to Vrabel’s press conference and how he fielded some of the nonsense questions head coaches get asked every season. If his career as an NFL coach does not work out, he clearly has a future as a life coach and/or motivational speaker. Vrabel said a lot of “the right things” during the press conference some of which I’ve included here. I recommend drinking an energy drink whilst chest bumping your bro before an intense workout while watching the video posted at the bottom. Especially if you are a Titans fan.

On who will make the final roster

“(We want) The right 53, not the best 53.”

“When you talk about discipline. When you’re disciplined you take advantage of the other team’s mistakes.”

On the importance of Mike’s relationship with Titans GM Jon Robinson

“Jon and I’s relationship is going to set the standard for the entire organization. The most critical relationship in the building.”

On working with Marcus Mariota

“We’re going to get him to play with confidence. Get him to play energetic.”

“They’re going to trust me to hire the right (coaches) for Marcus.”

On Mike’s role in play calling

“I’m the head coach. I can call whatever play I want. If I say we’re going to block a punt, we’re going to block a punt.”

Mike on general coaching expectations and responsibilities

“I’m going to accept responsibility, give credit, and be decisive.”

“I’m going to make mistakes. I’m not going to make too many of them. I’m not going to make the same mistake twice.”

“I’ve always wanted my kids to be in good locker rooms. I’ve wanted them to see what good players look like. But better husbands, better fathers, and better teammates. It’s important to me that we get great guys in here.”

“Part of a (being a) leader is when you see something that’s not right, you say something.”

On hiring coaches with experience

“The right experience is important. I want the right guys who have been through some battles that are loyal.”

On mentoring players in the locker room

“I will have been every single one of those players in those seats. I was the rookie who wasn’t developing as fast as the coach would’ve liked. I was the team leader. I was the aging veteran.”

“Having a relationship with your players doesn’t mean being best friends with them. It means caring about them. Telling them the truth. Being honest.”

“The only reason I’m in this profession, after winning, is to develop players. There is no other reason I would coach other than to win is to watch a player improve, develop and go out there and have success.”

“I didn’t start a game for four years in Pittsburgh. Just keep getting better, keep grinding. Every day improve your worth, improve your value… And good things will happen.” 

 

He once stopped the running of the bulls with a deck of playing cards. He played both Danny and Sandy in a Broadway performance of Grease. He got hit by a truck and the truck had to go to the emergency room. He’s the most interesting man in the NFL. He’s Cleveland Browns General Manager John Dorsey.

For several years consecutively I have been optimistically expecting the Browns to rise from the swamp of despair that is their franchise. With so many top ten draft picks on the roster, they would have to eventually become good, right? It worked for Houston and Jacksonville. That is what the entire 76ers organization is doing in the NBA. “Trust the process?” But the Browns have found a way to slam dunk draft day value repeatedly while still being the worst team in football over the past twenty years. The Browns BROKE the process. John Dorsey has given me reason to believe 2018 might be different.

Prior to John Dorsey, Cleveland attempted to build the roster through the draft. A strategy the Packers (the most successful franchise in NFL history) prioritizes and one I would generally recommend. While they traded down on draft day, creating value and looking good in the moment, they repeatedly drafted either bad players or players they could not develop. Even non-quarterbacks like Justin Gilbert, Trent Richardson, and Barkevious Mingo have been blatant whiffs.

One of the fundamental failures of the Browns franchise is the inability to draft or otherwise acquire a competitive quarterback. John Dorsey slayed that demon in the blink of an eye with a third round pick trade for a top sixteen QB in Tyrod Taylor. Taylor has experience playing on a defensive team and can limit turnovers. A third round selection is great value for a starting caliber quarterback. Taylor is a bridge passer, but he’s more proven than most options in free agency and Cleveland can lean on him long term if they need.

Acquiring Jarvis Landry and Damarious Randall not only generates fan excitement but will also encourage the league’s best left tackle, Joe Thomas to come back for another season. Landry provides great synergy with Gordon as Gordon has excelled as a big play threat and Landry shows up for the unsexy eight yard outs. I don’t know that the Randall trade was absolutely necessary for Cleveland but it clears room for Dorsey to draft a quarterback of his choosing rather than being forced to develop Sashi Brown’s leftovers. It also gives DeShone Kizer a clean slate and the chance to learn from Aaron Rodgers while giving Cleveland a starter on defense. The Browns obviously didn’t see the value in retaining Danny Shelton and saw an opportunity before next offseason when they may have felt they had less leverage as Shelton will be due eleven million for the 2019 season. This draft class is deep at defensive tackle and they should find his replacement in round two of the draft. Prospects like Harrison Phillips or Rasheem Green should be available at that slot.

Cleveland still has cap space and Dorsey will look to make Cleveland more competitive as players such as Dion Lewis and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins are still available and could immediately start on the Browns new look roster.

The outlook in Cleveland is as optimistic as it’s been since LeBron came back. Baltimore and Cincinnati have talented but inconsistent teams that will allow Hue Jackson to compete in the AFC North for a wild card spot. All eyes will be on Dorsey as the Browns hold the top pick in the draft and have to choose whether to take Saquon Barkley or do anything else.

U Michigan DT Maurice Hurst – Hurst looks an awful lot like current LA Ram and Beast/Thing/Half-God DT Aaron Donald. Hurst measures at 6’2″ and 282 lbs, Donald was 6’1″ and 285. Donald was an undersized but impressive riser who performed well at the combine. We haven’t seen Hurst at the combine as of my writing this, but the combine makes stars out of guys like Darrius Heyward-Bey and John Ross. Hurst acquired eleven and a half stops for a loss in 2017. Hurst played well against top big ten competition and will be a big time contributor in the NFL.

LSU RB Derrius Guice – Guice averaged five plus yards per carry in 2017 when playing hurt. Guice isn’t quite as stocky or as tall as other backs in the draft (Rashaad Penny, Saquon Barkley) but should be ready for big-boy football after his one hundred plus yard/two touchdown performance against Notre Dame in a bowl game. Guice played admirably for at least two full seasons at LSU.

U Washington LB/DL Hercules Mata’afa – Mata’afa will need some help finding his niche in the NFL. He lined up at linebacker, defensive tackle, edge rusher at least at Washington. Mata’afa collected double digit sacks in 2017. Mata’afa likely projects best as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense because of his size and apparent skill as a blitzer. Mata’afa has shown highly versatile effectiveness not unlike Adalius Thomas the former Raven swiss-army knife defender. Mata’afa had twenty-two and a half tackles for loss in 2017.

U. Texas DB Deshon Elliott – Elliott intercepted six passes and was a part of eight and a half stops for a loss. And he’s a 210 lb safety. Texas has a history of sending defensive backs to the NFL. His plus height at 6’2″ is becoming less of an advantage and more of a requirement as wide receivers and tight ends are seemingly getting bigger and stronger each season. Elliott’s shown he’s not afraid to get involved near the line of scrimmage but can still play the pass well. Elliott played for a team not named Alabama so he’s not high on many pre-draft rankings, but I see a defender who will start early in the NFL.

FSU WR Auden Tate – Auden Tate played on a pretty devastated Florida State team in 2017. Their ability to compete seemed to disappear as their QB went down with a season ending injury in the season opener. Tate caught forty passes for under six hundred yards. But ten of those passes went for touchdowns. That means one of every four passes caught by Auden Tate went for a touchdown. And that was with serious instability at the QB position. Tate’s a huge athlete at 6’5″ and played against elite defenses in the ACC during his career. Tate’s faced questions about his speed against NFL defensive backs. Regardless, he’s shown he can get open against top defenses in the end-zone.

Many superstar college quarterbacks have come to the NFL and failed to transition to the NFL. Tim Tebow. Johnny Manziel. Jake Locker. Robert Griffin III. Jamarcus Russell. Many of these passers won a Heisman and/or a national championship. Robert Griffin could’ve probably been an Olympic sprinter out of college if he had set his sights on track instead of football. These are not unmotivated, lazy, college kids. They are some of the world’s most accomplished athletes, and they had less success in the NFL than Trevor Siemian.

Lamar Jackson could be described as a dual threat QB. He gained 1,600 yards rushing with eighteen rushing touchdowns. Lamar Jackson completed his junior season with a higher completion percentage and yards per attempt score than the apparently highly-loved Josh Allen out of Wyoming. Most NFL writers are grading Jackson as a low first/high second round passer because what he does well does not translate to the NFL..?

If Josh Allen is in play for the first overall pick, as Mike Mayock has suggested, Lamar Jackson warrants a top ten selection at the worst. Jackson played stiff competition in 2017, and while he didn’t always win against top-tier competition he’s steadily improved throughout his college career. Jackson will benefit from an offensive coordinator who can structure offenses around non-traditional passers. Mike McCoy legendarily led Denver to a win IN Pittsburgh against Pittsburgh in the playoffs with Timothy Richard Tebow as QB1. The Cardinals have a gaping hole at the QB position and should be in position to draft Jackson at the fifteen overall position. The Cardinals QB coach, Byron Leftwich has received high praise with head coaching vacancy mentions in the past two seasons.

Jackson shouldn’t switch to wide receiver, he should play the position that he won a Heisman playing. But he’s going to need a coaching staff with mentors that will guide him to be successful in ways that so many have failed to do before him.