Dion Caputi
Latest NFL News


Settle in, folks. I’ll be here to accompany you through the 2018 NFL Draft’s first day of selections. Here you’ll find my pick-by-pick analysis as we progress through the night.

• Pick-By-Pick analysis of round one can be viewed here.

Have a comment for me? Hit me up on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

(Round 2)

33. Cleveland Browns: Austin Corbett, OG. Nevada

  • Fleet-footed college tackle with great bend and lateral movement. Corbett provides cover at 3-4 positions along the offensive line and should remind many of his Browns’ current guard Joel Bitonio – who was a college teammate of Corbett’s at Nevada.

34. New York Giants: Will Hernandez, OG. UTEP

  • Gettleman lands his prototypical person-pushing offensive linemen to support his shiny new elite running back talent. Though Hernandez is a mean, phone-booth mauler who primarily helps in the ground game, he has an underrated ability in pass protection and will only improve.

35. Cleveland Browns (f/HOU): Nick Chubb, RB. Georgia

  • Was Georgia’s bellcow before a bad knee injury in 2015, but has worked his way back and appears to be approaching his pre-injury form at the perfect time. Looked faster and stronger in 2017, is accustomed to running in tandem (having done it regularly with Michel) and suits the Browns’ physical style.

36. Indianapolis Colts: Darius Leonard, LB. South Carolina State

  • Search and destroy linebacker with a proven pass rushing skills. Despite going a little under the radar throughout the pre-draft process, everyone I know who has done extensive work on him (myself included) are big fans. Indianapolis’ defense gets a little tougher and a little more athletic.

37. Indianapolis Colts (f/NYJ): Braden Smith, OG. Auburn

  • Big, pro-ready physical build with coke machine width and ideal length for an NFL blocker. Another lunch pale blocker with experience to pair in the opposing guard spot to yesterday’s selection Quenton Nelson. Rebuilding the offensive line for Andrew Luck was always going to be the priority for Chris Ballard and his staff. So far, so good – adding possibly two day one interior starters.

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ronald Jones II, RB. USC

  • Despite lacking the elite timed speed, he’s in the Jamaal Charles/Chris Johnson mold of running back. Impressive second gear with legitimate home run potential in space. His skill-set adds a sorely lacking explosive component to the Bucs vanilla backfield.

39. Chicago Bears: James Daniels, OG/C. IOWA

  • An athletic technician who will be able to contribute early on at guard or center, with the plan likely to have him as the long-term exchange man for Mitchell Trubisky. Most thought he was going to hear his name called in round one, but some minor knee issues perhaps contribute to his availability here. I think he can approach the levels of the Pouncey twins if he realizes his potential.

40. Denver Broncos: Courtland Sutton, WR. SMU

  • With Demaryius Thomas getting up there in age, this selection gives the Broncos more long-term upside at the position. Sutton has the desired length and catch-radius for a possession receiver. Likely too much value to pass up for a Denver team looking to get a little younger at the position.

41. Tennessee Titans (f/OAK): Harold Landry, DE/OLB. Boston College

  • Titans trade up for Harold Landry, who – despite coming off a rough 2017 season at BC – regained a lot of belief in his upside with a terrific Combine and pre-draft. He’s an edge bender who can hand-fight. Looks a lot like Shane Ray did coming out of school. Raiders go down to No. 57, but acquire a 3rd round pick (No. 89 overall) from the Titans in this trade.

42. Miami Dolphins: Mike Gesicki, TE. Penn State

  • Basketball hops! Freak athlete with length and speed as a passing game option. Plenty of room to grow at the next level; immediate red zone threat. Dolphins’ tight end group was badly lacking and this certainly addresses that.

43. Detroit Lions (f/NE): Kerryon Johnson, RB. Auburn

  • Complete runner with inside-outside ability. Kerryon has run in a deep backfield throughout most of his Auburn career, but was always the most talented. Detroit has been the most woeful running team in the NFL over the past 3-4 seasons and this selection gives the team its first legitimate bellcow in years.

44. San Francisco 49ers (f/WAS): Dante Pettis, WR. Washington

  • Playmaker in the slot and ACE return man. Pettis is probably going to be limited to a slot role as an actual offensive player, but there’s nothing wrong with it an an developing RPO-based copy-cat league. Get him the ball in space and let him create.

45. Green Bay Packers: Joshua Jackson, CB. Iowa

  • Too much value to pass up at this point. First round talent, elite ball skills. Speed may have people thinking he’s a zone-only, causing the drop. Priority all along was revamping a secondary – particularly at cornerback – that was getting stale and required a facelift. Rookie general manager Brian Gutekunst has continued the work begun last year by Ted Thompson to upgrade the back-end.

46. Kansas City Chiefs (f/CIN): Breeland Speaks, DE. Ole Miss

  • One of few genuine base 3-4 end with impressive situational versatility. Can further beef up and set an edge, yes, but will be an active inside-outside presence for Kansas City. They reached a little to get their guy, but I really like this pick nonetheless.

47. Arizona Cardinals: Christian Kirk, WR. Texas A&M

  • First, they got their franchise QB and now they get him a long-term weapon. Athletic playmaker who can separate with crisp route running. The yard-after-catch ability is particularly exciting. Though the offensive line needs are considerable, the Cardinals got fantastic value with this select. It’ll be a privelege for Kirk to learn under Larry Fitzgerald for at least a year, as well.

48. Los Angeles Chargers: Uchema Nwosu, OLB. USC

  • An edge rushing finesser with oily hips and an impressive bend. Nwosu is a late bloomer who has only been playing football since his Sophomore year of high school. Skill-set translates to nice coverage skills, but his abilities as a pass rusher are the true key to this selection.

49. Philadelphia Eagles (f/IND): Dallas Goedert, TE. South Dakota State

  • Tremendous value. Could’ve been the Eagles pick at No. 32 and it would’ve received high grades. In the Travis Kelce mold, he’ll make big plays over the middle for Carson Wentz.

50. Dallas Cowboys: Connor Williams, OG. Texas

  • Announced as a guard, but can be a right tackle as well. Important flexibility, a ton of untapped ability coming off injury and terrific value. This will only help address the guard/right tackle conundrum La’El Collins is somewhat caught up in. Cowboys appeal to the fans by keeping it in-state with a great young man and story.

51. Chicago Bears (f/NE): Anthony Miller, WR. Memphis

  • This ia an A+ select for a team in need of more potency at the receiver position. Anthony Miller has been my No. 1 wide receiver throughout the process. Don’t sleep on the kid because he lacks the height or length you desire from early receiver selection. He wins the way Antonio Brown did at Central Michigan: supreme route running skills.

52. Indianapolis Colts (f/PHI): Kemoko Turay, DE/OLB. Rutgers

  • Excellent pick. H/W/S edge linebacker just beginning to realize his upside. Will remind some of Jamie Collins from a physical standpoint.

53. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: M.J Stewart, CB. North Carolina

  • As aggressive as any cornerback in this class. Though susceptible to interference calls, he’ll battle opposing receivers physically for four quarters and won’t shy away from an opportunity to blitz or tackle.

54. Cincinnati Bengals (f/KC): Jessie Bates, S. Wake Forest

  • Excellent pick. Combo-safety with the ideal range and sideline-to-sideline speed for a centerfield defender. Oh, and he’ll hit you too. Had him going as high as late round one in my final mock, as he’s quietly ascended throughout the latter portion of the pre-draft process. He’s that talented.

55. Carolina Panthers: Donte Jackson, CB. LSU

  • He has the type of speed where no slot in the NFL will scare him off the snap. Tenacious despite lacking in size or bulk, as well. The run on DBs is in full swing.

56. New England Patriots: Duke Dawson, CB. Florida

  • Fiery, physical corner who can play sticky coverage inside or out early on for Belichick. Prototypical Pats defensive back: positional responsibility is greater than height or size.

57. Oakland Raiders: P.J. Hall, DT. Sam Houston State

  • Going off the board a little! Interior athlete who proved so hard to block out due to his lack of height. Tireless motor. Use of leverage helps him succeed.

58. Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Oliver, CB. Colorado

  • Falcons benefit unbelievably from best player available in both rounds one (Ridley) and two (Oliver). Press-man with ball skills and desired boundary length. Upside-based pick.

59. Washington Redskins: Derrius Guice, RB. LSU

  • From an on-field standpoint, this is a major bargain – but the pick is largely predicated on what off-field issues are not yet known at this point. The character concerns were mentioned throughout the pre-draft process, but nothing was ever damning enough to warrant this slide. We’ll see what comes out, but as a football player the Redskins add a workhorse with explosion who offsets Chris Thompson quite nicely.

60. Pittsburgh Steelers: James Washington, WR. Oklahoma State

  • Martavis Bryant out, James Washington in – a ‘like’ for a ‘like’. Vertical demon with a knack for tracking the deep ball. His fantastic length allows him to be more efficient in 50-50 situations despite height deficiencies. Early on, he’ll primarily be relied upon to simply take the top off the defense, but will offer a lot of yards after the catch as his role expands.

61. Jacksonville Jaguars: D.J. Chark, WR. LSU

  • One pick after Washington, the Jags grab their own scary deep threat. Chark’s pre-draft buzz really picked up at the Senior Bowl and never slowed. Showcased athleticism at Combine.

62. Minnesota Vikings: Brian O’Neill, OT. Pittsburgh

  • Raw athlete still filling out his frame, but size and length are exciting enough to make you wonder if he can’t be a long-term left tackle option. This pick will come down to how well he’s groomed, as he may be one year away from a physical development standpoint. If given time to develop, he could be special.

63. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (f/NE): Carlton Davis, CB. Auburn

  • Long press-man with modern boundary matchup skills. Must continue to leverage his gifted physical skills and he could become a pillar for the Bucs.

64. Indianapolis Colts (f/CLE): Tyquan Lewis, DE. Ohio State

  • Indianapolis has really prioritized active box-defenders who can rush the passer from a variety of positions. The Colts are piecing together a versatile group of sub-package pieces.

(Round 3)

65. Oakland Raiders (f/BAL): Brandon Parker, OT. North Carolina A&T

  • Raiders are seeking potential-based players from this class and patience will be required, but they’ve added a lot of athleticism at the offensive tackle spots with Kolton Miller and now Parker. Oakland has a boom or bust class brewing.

66. New York Giants: Lorenzo Carter, LB. Georgia

  • Specimen defender with firehose wing-span. The value here is you can mold him into whatever you want, as his skill-set allows him to play either the interior or on the edge. Could’ve snuck into the first round and it wouldn’t have surprised many people.

67. Cleveland Browns (f/IND): Chad Thomas, DE. Miami(FL)

  • Cleveland’s front office staff is rich with Hurricane ties and Thomas is a powerful sub-package versatile rusher who can hold at the point of attack.

68. Houston Texans: Justin Reid, S. Stanford

  • Another player who could’ve gone in the first round from a talent perspective. The kid brother of free agent safety Eric Reid is a student of the game with a high-degree of football intelligence. He’ll help in a variety of ways within the Texans’ secondary.

69. New York Giants: B.J. Hill, DT. North Carolina State

  • Classic 3-technique defensive tackle who wins with his blend of bulk and initial burst off the snap. He impressed considerably at the Combine, exhibiting even better movement skills than were apparent on film.

70. San Francisco 49ers: Fred Warner, LB. Brigham-Young

  • Smart, savvy selection. Warner is a linebacker who can run. Tough to find a more smooth and fluid coverage player at his position remaining at this point. Projects quite well to a passing league.

71. Denver Broncos: Royce Freeman, RB. Oregon

  • The Broncos are adding a burly, surly downhill bruiser. Freeman can eat carries and contribute as a short-yardage role man early on while establishing himself in Denver’s backfield rotation.

72. New York Jets: Nathan Shepherd, DT. Fort Hays State

  • Height/weight/speed/length: He’s an unpolished diamond, built like the Juggernaut. Profiles suitably as a 4-3 interior tackle or on the edge in a base 3-4. The Canadian, an Ajax, ON-native, boasts a tremendous amount of upside.

73. Miami Dolphins: Jerome Baker, LB. Ohio State

  • Love this selection, as Baker’s an explosive run and hit linebacker with coverage + blitz skills. Miami’s defense got a lot more athletic with this selection. Thought he could’ve gone a round earlier.

74. Washington Redskins: Geron Christian, OT. Louisville

  • Long, athletic edge protector. Blocked for a very mobile Lamar Jackson and his lateral ability has improved throughout the past couple seasons as a result. Give him time and he could easily become a long-term starting option.

75. Kansas City Chiefs: Derrick Nnadi, DT. Florida State

  • More mobile defensive line beef for the Chief Kingdom. He’s a pocket-pushing space-eater who anchors in the run game. One of the most underrated defenders in this class.

76. Pittsburgh Steelers (f/SEA): Mason Rudolph, QB. Oklahoma State

  • Joins his preferred collegiate receiver James Washington in the Steel City. Pocket-proficient and accurate deep. Can quietly learn from Big Ben. Pittsburgh spent a lot of time at OK State in the pre-draft.

77. Cincinnati Bengals: Sam Hubbard, DE. Ohio State

  • Major bargain. Surprised he made it out of round 2, especially after showing some quality ability to play in space at the Combine. More athletic than people give him credit for and there was really no ‘football reason’ as to why he should’ve fallen this far.

78. Cincinnati Bengals (f/KC): Malik Jefferson, LB. Texas

  • Major bargain, pt. 2. He is an off-ball linebacker with impressive ability in coverage. Needs to get a lot tougher at the point of attack, and in the box in general. That said, an exciting athlete for the position with speed.

79. Seattle Seahawks (f/PIT): Rasheem Green, DL. USC

  • The premier sub-package defensive linemen in this class, possibly. You can develop him into whatever you want physically. Sort of a tweener, but he’ll have a defined role in Seattle. Pete Carroll goes to the Trojan well for a bargain.

80. Houston Texans (f/SEA): Martinas Rankin, OT. Mississippi State

  • Can cover 4, maybe 5 positions in a pinch but will likely be an interior blocker at the next level. Good athlete with a lot of experience. Houston doing pretty well with falling talent despite having no premium picks early on.

81. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Gallup, WR. Colorado State

  • He’s a workhorse receiver who accumulates receptions in volume. Will provide lots of yards after the catch as well. Nice consolation if they feel they missed on other WRs.

82. Detroit Lions: Tracy Walker, S. Louisiana-Lafayette

  • Long-arms, ball-skills and will track + tackle with a high level of efficiency in space. Off the board for sure, but an interesting pick.

83. Baltimore Ravens: Orlando Brown, OT. Oklahoma

  • Will be an NFL right tackle despite playing on the left in college, but wins with absurd length and big powerful movements. I had Orlando Brown going to the Ravens at No. 16 at the very start of the process, pre-Senior Bowl/Combine. Fitting that he winds up there later on after his stock took a big hit in Indianapolis. If he can get his body right (and keep it right), it’s a bargain.

84. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Jones, DT. North Carolina State

  • Converts speed to power quite well and boasts a complete game. Keep him motivated and he’ll make plays against any level of competition. Team needed some more depth along the defensive line, particularly with Corey Liuget suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season due to a PED violation.

85. Carolina Panthers: Rashaan Gaulden, DB. Tennessee

  • Could line up in a multitude of ways within Carolina’s secondary, but probably contributes as a slot-corner early on. Panthers needed to chip away at that need after trading Daryl Worley in March, but keep an eye long term: the pick was announced as a ‘DB’ and as such, he could be viewed as a safety long term. The team has a big need at the position as well.

86. Baltimore Ravens (f/KC): Mark Andrews, TE. Oklahoma

  • Sooners with back to back selections for Ozzie & Co. Andrews is a big-slot who can do a lot of field-work in the passing game. He’s definitely a chain-mover type who can run the slot. Baltimore hammering away at the tight end need with a couple nice talents.

87. Oakland Raiders (f/LAR): Arden Key, DE/OLB. LSU

  • At the Combine, Arden Key showed me that he’s unlikely to be an every-down DE at the next level at his current weight. Either way, he’ll come in and have to contribute as a rotational edge. That said, if he’s who he looked like he was in 2016 the Raiders are getting a special talent. Oakland has put together a very ‘boom or bust’ type draft.

88. Green Bay Packers: Oren Burks, LB. Vanderbilt

  • Reactionary off-ball player with a good physical build. Burks had a big bump in tackle production this season and cleaned up some issues he had with tackle-form in the past. He’s peaking at the correct time and probably fits as an interior linebacker.

89. Los Angeles Rams: Joseph Noteboom, OT. TCU

  • Had a big workout in Indy and really helped himself. Noteboom is an accomplished, experienced blocker with excellent footwork and a high-level of intelligence off the field as well.

90. Atlanta Falcons: Deadrin Senat, DT. South Florida

  • Squatty gap-shooter who took a big step forward as a pass rusher in 2017. He’ll mesh seamlessly with Grady Jarrett, who is of a similar profile.

91. New Orleans Saints: Tre’Quan Smith, WR. Central Florida

  • Bouncy route-runner with nice physical skills – and he’ll block too. One thing I liked a lot when evaluating the footage was his ability to gear down and make adjustments on the football.

92. Pittsburgh Steelers: Chukwuma Okorafor, OT. Western Michigan

  • Gifted, but ultra-raw. A piece of clay at this point, but you make this pick with the long-term development at top of mind.

93. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ronnie Harrison, S. Alabama

  • Jags grab another major value on defense. Will be a good physical matchup on bigger tight ends and plays most-effective in the box. Jacksonville can’t help itself from accumulating more defensive pieces in this draft if it falls, and I’m here for it.

94. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Alex Cappa, OT. Humboldt State

  • A strong Senior Bowl performance really elevated his stock. Cappa, an FCS product, has a nasty streak and loves to finish blocks. Maulers typically transition better to the pro level than technicians. We’ll see if he can still toss around NFL lineman who better understand leverage.

95. San Francisco 49ers: Tarvarius Moore, S. Southern Mississippi

  • Run/hit/cover athlete with a sinewy frame. Requires a lot of grooming, both physically and mentally (football-wise), but he’s just scratching the surface.

96. Buffalo Bills: Harrison Phillips, NT. Stanford

  • Great value at this point. Fell a little because he’s likely limited to a two-down nose tackle role at the pro level, but he’s excellent. Bench presses blockers, anchors with power. Will immediately remind some of the man he’ll replace long-term in Kyle Williams.

97. Arizona Cardinals: Mason Cole, C. Michigan

  • Lunch-pale blocker who showed better feet at the Combine than tape would suggest. There is a need for wholesale improvement along the Cards’ offensive line, so starting off the process by attempting to stabilize the center spot isn’t a bad move.

98. Houston Texans: Jordan Akins, TE. Central Florida

  • After having played pro baseball for a few years, the 26-year-old rookie’s selection will come as a surprise to many based on how early it happened. Having said that, an impressive Senior Bowl got him on the radar. Big-slot/tight end hybrid.

99. Denver Broncos: Isaac Yiadom, CB. Boston College

  • The organization has had a lot of success with Justin Simmons, a fellow Boston College product. Better athlete and boundary profile than cornerback for now, but good talent base.

100. Kansas City Chiefs: Dorian O’Daniel, LB. Clemson

  • Hybrid safety/linebacker type who attacks the football on the ground or through the air. Very fluid when off-ball. O’Daniel suits the desired modern profile of the dime-linebacker.

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Dion Caputi
Latest NFL News


Settle in, folks. I’ll be here to accompany you through the 2018 NFL Draft’s first day of selections. Here you’ll find my pick-by-pick analysis as we progress through the night.

Have a comment for me? Hit me up on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

 

1. Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB. Oklahoma

  • Few players available have worked harder to prove deserving of this selection than the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner. Ultra-competitive, passionate and possesses the ability to galvanize a group of men from a leadership standpoint – he did it at two different schools. Despite being the draft’s most polished passer aside from Josh Rosen, he’s entering the ideal scenario where he won’t be relied upon to save the franchise from the outset. I expect him to handle the pressures of being the No. 1 overall pick comfortably.

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

  • The Bronx-native returns to his home state. Barkley is the best running back prospect I’ve evaluated since Adrian Peterson came out of Oklahoma in 2007. Ultimately, I feel as though this was the Giants’ best opportunity to acquire Eli’s eventual successor, but by adding a workhorse with a once-in-a-generation skill-set you relieve a lot of the pressure on the quarterback position. Despite the lack of positional value, the Giants may have just selected the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft.

3. New York Jets (f/IND): Sam Darnold, QB. USC

  • Fortuitously, Gang Green lands what could very well be the quarterback with the highest upside in the class at No. 3 overall. Considering the tremendous ball security problems exhibited throughout the 2017 season, it may be best to ease him into a starting role when ready – though he’ll likely play from day one. Having said that, you just need to flip on the 2017 Rose Bowl game vs. Penn State for a glimpse at how special Sam Darnold can be. If that’s the player the Jets are getting, this has the potential to be a special moment for the franchise.

4. Cleveland Browns (f/HOU): Denzel Ward, CB. Ohio State

  • The organization has continued to revamp its secondary with a terrific local product. Though Bradley Chubb may have been the sexier option, this fills a more pressing concern. Ward has zero limitations from a talent perspective, he’ll play physical coverage with longer receivers, can line up in a variety of spots on the field and will hit you in run defense. All-encompassing upgrade on the boundary, as Cleveland has addressed both sides of the ball early on.

5. Denver Broncos: Bradley Chubb, DE. NC State

  • Supreme value, even as a top 5 selection. Bradley Chubb is a complete defensive end who can set a physical edge + can bend and win against a variety of edge-blocking profiles. It’s a frightening proposition to think about how opposition will fare trying to block edge bookends of Chubb and Von Miller. The supposed quarterback interest was a smokescreen all along, as expected, but don’t rule out the team selecting one later.

6. Indianapolis Colts (f/NYJ): Quenton Nelson, OG. Notre Dame

  • Having seen Bradley Chubb come off the board one pick earlier, this is still a satisfying scenario for general manager Chris Ballard and the Colts. If Andrew Luck is genuinely close to a return and to remain healthy, this is a fantastic pillar to add to an offensive line in desperate need of stability. Quenton Nelson is the best offensive linemen in the draft and right up there with Saquon Barkley as the safest selection(s) in the draft.

7. Buffalo Bills (f/TB): Josh Allen, QB. Wyoming

  • Though I meet this pick with considerable skepticism based on deep film study, there isn’t a more tantalizing physical composition at the quarterback position in this draft class. At minimum, Josh Allen requires a year of grooming before he’s ready to be relied upon, but gives the Bills a piece to build around moving forward. If he can overcome happy-feet in the pocket and lean on his unparalleled box of tools than the ceiling can be untraceable.

8. Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB. Georgia

  • Simply too much value to pass up on at this point. He’ll immediately become the beating heart of the Bears’ defense and provides them with something that hasn’t been present since Brian Urlacher retired. Roquan is a rangy, volume playmaker. I’ve only given a higher pre-draft grade to two 4-3 linebackers – those being Patrick Willis and Luke Kuechly. The Midway gets a special player here.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Mike McGlinchey, OT. Notre Dame

  • Immediate right tackle, long-term left tackle. The draft’s best edge protector goes to a team that has exhibited tenacious intent to provide Jimmy Garoppolo with a legitimate offensive line for many years to come. John Lynch has prioritized trench play since taking reigns in the bay and this follows suit. Don’t forget – Joe Staley turns 34 in August.

10. Arizona Cardinals (f/OAK): Josh Rosen, QB. UCLA

  • In order to acquire the pick, the Cards conceded a 3rd (79 overall) and 5th round pick (159 overall) as well as No. 15. All things considered, that’s tremendous value for what I consider to be the draft’s best quarterback. After failing to acquire Pat Mahomes in 2017, Arizona manages to maneuver for an advanced, pretty pocket-passer who is likely far from displaying his best performances. Rosen struggled in-part due to sub-par pass protection throughout his collegiate career. While that will continue to be a problem for the time being in Arizona, the organization is paying Sam Bradford a lot of money to be the stop-gap in 2018 as Rosen acclimates to the pro game. A dream scenario for all involved.

11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB. Alabama

  • Whether it’s at safety or corner, the Dolphins sorely needed reinforcements in the secondary. Never a genuine first round quarterback team after locking themselves into $16.7 million guaranteed with Ryan Tannehill this offseason. Xavien Howard flashed tremendous upside in 2017, but more is needed on the back end in Miami. Minkah is a well-versed, plug and play defender who helps right away.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (f/BUF): Vita Vea, DT. Washington

  • Not a selection most would’ve predicted, pre-draft. Vea will command a lot of attention, freeing up space for Gerald McCoy, as well as new edge additions Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry on a rebuilt defensive line. He’s a brutishly powerful interior presence with unheralded three-down potential in the Haloti Ngata mold. This pick suggests the Buccaneers believe a much-improved defensive line will have a residual effect on their sub-par secondary.

13. Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne, DT. Alabama

  • The Skins’ re-unite Payne with college teammates Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson in the process. Payne is an excellent athlete for the position and possesses a high level of untapped pass rushing ability. Team badly needed to beef up in the defensive trench and though they may have prioritized Vita Vea, this is an equally ideal solution.

14. New Orleans Saints (f/GB): Marcus Davenport, DE. UTSA

  • Saints deal a 5th round pick and a 2019 1st round selection to slide up for a physically imposing edge with length and strength. They needed to concede a premium asset to make the move, as Davenport wasn’t going to last much longer. Gives a rapidly rebuilt ‘Nollins defense yet another premier piece to build around moving forward. Shades of Chandler Jones from a physical composition standpoint.

15. Oakland Raiders (f/ARI): Kolton Miller, OT. UCLA

  • The organization struggled to protect Derek Carr in 2017 and his efficiency petered out over the course of the season as a result. Miller is a workout warrior in the Nate Solder mold, and while he requires a lot of polish he is without physical limitation and projects as a long-term blindside protecter. Oakland acquires a 3rd round pick (No. 79 overall) and 5th round pick (No. 159 overall) in the trade down.

16. Buffalo Bills (f/BAL): Tremaine Edmunds, LB. Virginia Tech

  • Like Josh Allen, this is a pick predicated primarily on upside, but to land Edmunds here is absurd value as I had him going eight picks earlier. Edmunds is a specimen and as such his skill-set allows for his career development be directed in multiple paths as either an interior linebacker or edge rusher. Best player available.

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

  • Dream scenario for the Chargers is realized. After adding Mike Pouncey via free agency the primary area of concern immediately shifted to safety and the team gets probably the best natural safety in the class. Derwin is a big-bodied playmaker with range, ball-skills and all of the desired confident of a Florida State defensive back.

18. Green Bay Packers (f/SEA): Jaire Alexander, CB. Lousiville

  • The organization tipped its hand when it failed in its attempt to sign Bears corner Kyle Fuller to an offer sheet worth $14-million average per year, so this was always going to be a corner. Though Alexander would’ve been good enough value at No. 14, rookie general manager Brian Gutekunst moved down temporarily and added a 1st round pick in 2019 before landing his man. Alexander is Jason Verrett 2.0 – a complete corner who likely comes off the board considerably earlier if he were a little bigger. My top corner available.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB. Boise State

  • The correct choice despite wide receiver being a comparably glaring area of concern. Though Dez Bryant is gone, the organization hadn’t had production from him in three years anyway, but when impactful linebacker Sean Lee – who has never played 16 games in an NFL season – is out, the defense has, at times, become an oil spill. Vander Esch combines with Jaylon Smith to give the ‘Boys a more positive outlook at the position moving forward.

20. Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow, C. Arkansas

  • The club has invested a lot in re-shaping its offensive line in recent years and this pick continues the trend. Ragnow is a sneaky athlete, but the true appeal comes in the fact that he’s an experienced leader with an immediately translatable pro-game. He’ll help Matthew Stafford from day one and should stabilize a key position for the long haul in Detroit. In truth, I expected this to be a running back, but I may like this scenario a little better if they can land one on day two.

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

  • After seeing what was likely their preference come off the board one pick earlier, they land a nice consolation prize with the in-state product. Whether it’s as a center or guard – both of which required an upgrade – Cincy will get day one value from this choice. Price has overcome a pectoral injury suffered in the pre-draft and will be ready for camp.

22. Tennessee Titans (f/BAL): Rashaan Evans, ILB. Alabama

  • Titans were worried about Rashaan Evans not making it past the Patriots at No. 23, and you can’t blame them. Explosive at the POA, he’s a blitz-savvy interior linebacker who can run and cover on third down. Evans’ aggressive style will be a welcomed addition to a Tennessee linebacking core slated to be rather listless heading into 2018.

23. New England Patriots: Isaiah Wynn, OG. Georgia

  • With no true left tackles left on the board, the Pats add a fleet-footed people-mover at guard to help keep Brady clean moving forward – and hey, maybe they believe in what remains at offensive tackle. In a pinch, he can step in at tackle if needed. Ultimately, the Super Bowl best-exemplified the Patriots’ need for an upgrade along its offensive line.

24. Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore, WR. Maryland

  • The buzz around him being the first receiver off the board comes good. Despite safety needs, the proposition of adding yet another weapon for Cam & Co. proves too great. Moore is a twitchy playmaker with deceptive physical skills and the ability to win in 50-50 situations. He’s a field-stretcher.

25. Baltimore Ravens (f/TEN): Hayden Hurst, TE. South Carolina

  • Not the caliber of athlete either Gesicki or Goedert is, but he’s the most complete tight end in the draft and projects to be a day one contributor on a team in desperate need of ‘something’ at the position. Various draft picks have failed to contribute, but Hurst – who will be 25 when the 2018 season begins – should stabilize the position. After two trade downs from No. 16 overall, this is far better value.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Calvin Ridley, WR. Alabama

  • Supreme value at this stage of the round. Another twitchy field-stretcher who can be a passing-game workhorse, going to a ready-made offensive setup with a polished quarterback in Matt Ryan. Shades of young Reggie Wayne, Ridley could pose one of the most fearsome receiving trios in the league with Mo Sanu and fellow Crimson Tide alum Julio Jones.

27. Seattle Seahawks (f/GB): Rashaad Penny, RB. San Diego State

  • Shocker! A very impressive player with a wealth of upside, but to be taken in front of a handful of other rushers will turn some heads. Having said that, Penny’s a burly-bodied production machine with freight train getaway speed. Explosive threat who regularly broke long runs and was capable in short-yardage or goal-line situations.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Terrell Edmunds, S. Virginia Tech

  • Quietly ascending safety with a big body and frame, loves to step into the box and lay the body. H/W/S defender who will be an ideal matchup for a lot of the modern big-slot tight ends present in the league. Terrell joins younger brother Tremaine on night one, as the two become the first brothers in NFL Draft history selected in the first round. Both deserve it.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Taven Bryan, DT. Florida

  • A rich defense gets richer with a major value at the bottom of the first round. Though not the largest need, the Jags don’t necessarily have many areas in need of improvement. Bryan is scratching the surface of his upside and may have left Florida a year prematurely, but he’ll be placed into a rotation where he’ll be able to grow behind established players like Marcell Dareus and Malik Jackson. It’s an exciting addition for an already elite defense.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Mike Hughes, CB. UCF

  • More phenomenal value at the bottom of round one, as Minnesota gains additional flexibility in coverage matchups. Hughes steps into the roster spot of departed veteran Terence Newman to combine with Rhodes, Waynes and Mackensie Alexander for an interesting blending of sizes, lengths and physicalities in a division featuring the likes of Rodgers + Stafford.

31. New England Patriots: Sony Michel, RB. Georgia

  • Home run threat in space with minimal mileage, Michel took reigns at Georgia after Nick Chubb’s injury and never looked back. Assuming he’s over ball security issues than he’ll provide New England’s offense with a fantastic Dion Lewis replacement.

32. Baltimore Ravens (f/PHI): Lamar Jackson, QB. Louisville

  • Philadelphia may have been targeting Sony Michel with this pick, but the organization was fully expected to entertain a trade out regardless. Lamar Jackson is a unique playmaker who will require patience and commitment from the coaching staff. To pull off this trade the Ravens shipped a 2nd round pick (No. 52 overall), 4th round pick (No. 125 overall) and – most notably –  a 2019 2nd round pick to the Eagles for No. 32 overall and 4th round pick (No. 132 overall). Getting their man here in round one ensures the Ravens of a fifth-year option on Jackson’s rookie deal, as well. Ozzie goes out of his last first round as general manager with fireworks.

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Dion Caputi
Latest NFL News


It’s draft day!

The 2018 NFL Draft is expected to be explosive, with multiple teams in possession of multiple picks within the initial two rounds and significant opportunity for movement across the board.

The New York Jets made the biggest pre-draft splash on March 17 when the organization shipped picks No. 6, No. 37 and No. 49 to the Indianapolis Colts for the right to move up three spots and ensure themselves a quarterback.

The question becomes: Where else is there potential for a trade up throughout the first night of the draft?


No. 4 overall: Cleveland Browns

  • The difficulty in acquiring this pick is rooted in the unlikelihood that Dorsey & Co. will be seeking additional assets from the 2018 NFL Draft. Holding five of the first 64 selections in this year’s spectacle, conventional wisdom would suggest Cleveland’s starting price for a move-down would include a 2019 first round pick.


No. 5 overall: Denver Broncos

  • John Elway has long-maintained he’s open for business here. Though the roster isn’t as bad as its 2017 record suggests, the proposition of leveraging one of the teams with multiple first round picks is intriguing. Though steep, if the Bills find their preferred quarterback option available when Denver is put on the clock it may be a trivial having to concede No. 12 and 22 overall.


No. 18 overall: Seattle Seahawks

  • Since the start of the Schneider/Carroll era in 2010, Seattle has traded down with its first round pick four times and traded it for a player twice. Suffice it to say, they’re always willing to deal. This may be a prime location if a team desired to jump the line for a receiver or linebacker with the Cowboys pick looming one spot later.


No. 24 overall: Carolina Panthers

The always-aggressive New England Patriots never seem to keep it straight forward on draft day. Movement is to be expected.

  • In all probability, the Panthers should find a heavily stacked board at this point and feel they can slide into the early part of day two to get better pick-value on a safety or receiver. Don’t rule out new Giants general manager (and former Panthers general manager) Dave Gettleman orchestrating a mutually beneficial deal with his old club.


No. 31 overall: New England Patriots

  • Typically an aggressive mover on draft night, New England has dealt backward four times since 2008 – and of those four trade backs, the team did so twice before making its first pick in that draft. Look for the Patriots to parlay one of its two picks into a future asset if it can. Unless of course, you think they’re packaging picks to leapfrog the board (but I don’t see it).


No. 32 overall: Philadelphia Eagles

  • As is the case with the New England pick at No. 31, these are potential hot spots for teams looking to sneak back into day one for their quarterback. Why? Because first round pick contracts come with the added bonus of a fifth-year team option – something organizations covet. Having said that, Philadelphia’s list of needs is sparse and Howie Roseman’s staff currently isn’t slated to pick again until round four, pick No. 140 overall. They may want to recoup some pick volume.

 

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Dion Caputi
Latest NFL News


• Mock Draft 1.0, released on February 19, 2018, can be viewed here.
• Mock Draft 2.0, released on March 28, 2018, can be viewed here.

(Round 1)

1. Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB. Oklahoma

Analysis: Dorsey & Co. have rapidly created a strong infrastructure for Mayfield to enter without the pressure of having to be the answer as a rookie. He’s a self-starter who has earned this distinction.

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

Analysis: Big Blue may never get a better opportunity to acquire Eli’s successor, but the prospect of bringing a generational talent  – and Bronx native – home might prove impossible to pass up for the franchise.

3. New York Jets (f/IND): Sam Darnold, QB. USC

Analysis: It’s do-or-die for Gang Green’s current regime and the prototypical Darnold should be able to acclimate rather quickly while giving the staff grounds for ownership patience. The trade up pays dividends.

4. Cleveland Browns (f/HOU): Bradley Chubb, DE. NC State

Analysis: Possessing both a high ceiling and floor, there are few safer selections in the 2018 class. Chubb suitably complements Myles Garrett and fills Dorsey’s universal quota of improving trench play.

5. Buffalo Bills (f/DEN) – *TRADE: Josh Rosen, QB. UCLA

Analysis: The organization has maneuvered to ensure it is equipped to move on a quarterback if their man is available. Brandon Beane leverages No. 12 and 22 to secure perhaps the draft’s most polished passer.

6. Indianapolis Colts (f/NYJ): Quenton Nelson, OG. Notre Dame

Analysis: Wholesale improvements along the offensive line are needed, particularly if Andrew Luck is to stay healthy moving forward. The in-state product could be an instant Pro Bowler.

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

Analysis: His stock has been ascending at a torrid pace and despite various defensive upgrades safety remains an area of significant concern.

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

Analysis: A special bread of athlete with limitless potential, Edmunds can be shaped into an interior role or developed as a long-term edge – both of which would address a need.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Denzel Ward, CB. Ohio State

Analysis: John Lynch & Co. have put forth an undeniable effort overhaul various positional groups on the roster. Ward could be the draft’s top corner and provides a new matchup dimension for this rebuilding secondary.

10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB. Georgia

Analysis: Rangy playmaker who can identify as the beating heart of a transitioning Raiders defense.

11. Miami Dolphins: Vita Vea, DT. Washington

Analysis: Answers the void left by Suh’s departure and possesses Haloti Ngata-esque upside.

12. Denver Broncos (f/BUF) – *TRADE: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB. Alabama

Analysis: Talib out, Minkah in – as Roby shifts into a starting role there remains the prospect of upgrading the opposite boundary with Chris Harris in the slot.

13. Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne, DT. Alabama

Analysis: High-potential base 3-4 lineman with untapped pass rushing talent; can satisfy three positions along the Skins’ defensive line.

14. Green Bay Packers: Jaire Alexander, CB. Louisville

Analysis: Intentions were clear when the organization attempted to lure Kyle Fuller away from Chicago by offering $14-million annually: cornerback is a priority. The position still hasn’t been addressed and Alexander is Jason Verrett (healthy) 2.0.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Allen, QB. Wyoming

Analysis: Ideal scenario, as it would require sacrificing future assets to make a big move up the board for a quarterback. Cards roll the dice as Allen – and his tantalizing physical composition – slides into their lap.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike McGlinchey, OT. Notre Dame

Analysis: The premier tackle of the class fortuitously slides to a team in need of a big upgrade at right tackle. McGlinchey, a former teammate of left tackle Ronnie Stanley, allows Baltimore to reshuffle its offensive line.

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

Analysis: Complete linebacker with a ready-made NFL skill-set; day one solution at SAM and suits the profile of the Chargers’ ‘in your face’ style.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, DE. UTSA

Analysis: Various reclamation projects aren’t solving the long-term edge need and Michael Bennett’s 8.5 sacks in 2017 are now in Philadelphia. Davenport possesses imposing dimensions and tremendous upside.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB. Boise State

Analysis: There’s a significant drop-off in defensive efficiency when Sean Lee – who has never played 16 games in a season – is injured. Vander Esch is a highly productive H/W/S defender.

20. Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB. LSU

Analysis: Over the past four seasons there hasn’t been a team as consistently poor at rushing the football and eventually the team must prioritize the position; Guice, a workhorse, blends power and explosion.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (f/BUF): Frank Ragnow, C. Arkansas

Analysis: Quietly ascending plug-and-play starter for a team in desperate need of solidifying the interior of its offensive line immediately; previous starter Russell Bodine is now in Buffalo.

22. Denver Broncos (f/BUF) – *TRADE: Will Hernandez, OG. UTEP

Analysis: Phone booth mauler with a mean streak; shifting back to a more power-running oriented approach, Hernandez is the ideal fit.

23. New England Patriots (f/LAR): Kolton Miller, OT. UCLA

Analysis: Solder out, Solder 2.0 in; a true workout warrior with tremendous physical skills and length. Brady’s rapid internal clock will help any rookie blocker acclimate to the pro game.

24. Carolina Panthers: Jessie Bates, S. WAKE

Analysis: Highly intriguing combo-safety with top-shelf athleticism and a refreshingly physical approach to the position. Under the radar riser.

25. Tennessee Titans: Lorenzo Carter, LB. Georgia

Analysis: Specimen-like athlete with freaky length and dimension; versatile skill-set allows for development as either an interior linebacker or as an edge with untapped pass rushing upside.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT. Florida

Analysis: Scratching the surface of his abilities; an ideal schematic fit next to the active Grady Jarrett.

27. New Orleans Saints: Calvin Ridley, WR. Alabama

Analysis: Drew Brees’ window is closing and a dynamic workhorse receiver with vertical abilities like Ridley adds a desirable element to Sean Payton’s intricate passing offense. Tremendous value.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Lamar Jackson, QB. Louisville

Analysis: Surprised? Don’t be. Big Ben is regarded as an unconventional ‘playmaker’ quarterback and the offensive alignment has gradually adjusted to accommodate. It’ll take a courageous franchise willing to make a commitment: That’s Pittsburgh.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE. South Carolina

Analysis: Perhaps the draft’s most polished tight end, he offers a complete game and adds a different dimension to recently-signed Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Connor Williams, OT. Texas

Analysis: Guard/right tackle who gives Minnesota the flexibility to kick Mike Remmers inside if needed. NFC Title gameplan was ruined due to a lack of pass protection.

31. New England Patriots: Mike Gesicki, TE. Penn State

Analysis: Profiles as the heir apparent to Gronk’s throne, but in the meantime reinstates the once-lethal double tight end threat New England found unparalleled success with.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Sony Michel, RB. Georgia

Analysis: Prime trade-out candidate as the team won’t pick again until round four, but with few holes the Super Bowl champions can add a level of dynamism missing from its backfield with Michel, an all-encompassing home run threat.

 

Let me have it on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate


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Dion Caputi
Latest NFL News


Dion Caputi’s 2018 NFL Draft position rankings are based on pre/post-Combine film study and encompass evaluations from various All-Star bowls (Shrine Game, Senior Bowl, etc.). Note: Honorable mentions (“HM”) aren’t necessarily the No. 6 rated players by position, but noteworthy nevertheless.

*Bracketed numbers denote previous ranking.

Position rankings (1.0), released on February 13, 2018.
• Position rankings (2.0), released on March 16, 2018.


Quarterback

  1. Josh Rosen, UCLA (1)
  2. Sam Darnold, USC (2)
  3. Baker Mayfield, OU (3)
  4. Lamar Jackson, LOU (4)
  5. Mike White, WKU (5)

HM: Riley Ferguson, MEM (HM)


Running Back

  1. Saquon Barkley, PSU (1)
  2. Sony Michel, UGA (4)
  3. Kerryon Johnson, AUB (5)
  4. Derrius Guice, LSU (2)
  5. Ronald Jones, USC (3)

HM: Nick Chubb, UGA (HM)

Equanimeous St. Brown offers as much (or more) upside as any receiver in the 2018 class.


Wide Receiver

  1. Anthony Miller, MEM (1)
  2. Calvin Ridley, BAMA (2)
  3. Christian Kirk, TAMU (3)
  4. D.J. Moore (n/a)
  5. Equanimeous St. Brown, ND (4)

HM: Antonio Callaway, UF (HM)


Tight Ends

  1. Mike Gesicki, PSU (1)
  2. Dallas Goedert, SDST (2)
  3. Hayden Hurst, SCAR (3)
  4. Tyler Conklin, CMU (4)
  5. Mark Andrews, OU (5)

HM: Adam Breneman, UMASS (HM)


Offensive Tackle

  1. Mike McGlinchey, ND (1)
  2. Connor Williams, UT (3)
  3. Desmond Harrison, WGA (2)
  4. Orlando Brown, OU (4)
  5. Kolton Miller, UCLA (5)

HM: Brian O’Neill, PITT (HM)


Offensive Guard/Center

  1. Quenton Nelson, ND (1)
  2. Isaiah Wynn, UGA (2)
  3. Will Hernandez, UTEP (3)
  4. Billy Price, OSU (4)
  5. James Daniels, IOWA (5)

HM: Rod Taylor, MISS (HM)


Interior Defensive Line/Defensive Tackle

  1. Vita Vea, UW (1)
  2. Taven Bryan, UF (3)
  3. Da’Ron Payne, BAMA (2)
  4. Rasheem Green, USC (4)
  5. Maurice Hurst, UM (n/a)

HM: Nathan Shepherd, FHST (HM)


Edge Defender/Defensive End

  1. Bradley Chubb, NCST (1)
  2. Marcus Davenport, UTST (3)
  3. Harold Landry, BC (2)
  4. Sam Hubbard, OSU (4)
  5. Andrew Brown, UVA (5)

HM: Dorance Armstrong Jr., UK (HM)

 

Linebacker

  1. Roquan Smith, UGA (1)
  2. Tremaine Edmunds, VT (2)
  3. Leighton Vander Esch, BSU (3)
  4. Lorenzo Carter, UGA (4)
  5. Shaquem Griffin, UCF (5)

HM: Kemoko Turay, RUT (HM)


Cornerback

  1. Jaire Alexander, LOU (1)
  2. Denzel Ward, OSU (2)
  3. Mike Hughes, UCF (4)
  4. Joshua Jackson, IOWA (3)
  5. Donte Jackson, LSU (n/a)

HM: J.C. Jackson, UMD (HM)

An intriguing combo-safety, Jessie Bates has steadily risen throughout the process.


Safety

  1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, BAMA (1)
  2. Derwin James, FSU (2)
  3. Ronnie Harrison, BAMA (3)
  4. Jessie Bates, WAKE (n/a)
  5. Justin Reid, STAN (4)

HM: Dane Cruikshank, UA (n/a)


Kicker/Punter

  1. Michael Dickson, UT (1, P)
  2. Eddy Pineiro, UF (2, K)
  3. Matthew McCrane, KSU (3, K)
  4. Daniel Carlson, AUB (4, K)
  5. Shane Tripucka, TAMU (5, P)

HM: Ryan Santoso, UMN (HM, P/KO specialist)

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