NFL Draft 2018 Review Online Book
By Frank Coyle & Pro Scouting Staff of Draft Insiders’ Digest – 27th Season
Copyrighted – All Rights Reserved
NFL Draft 2018 Review by Teams
NFC Teams page 2-18
AFC Teams page 18-35
Seven Round Draft Sequence – pg 36
NFL Draft 2018 Review
NFL Draft Facts
The 2018 NFL Draft was the 83rd annual meeting of National Football League franchises to select newly eligible college players. The NFL Draft was held on April 26–28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and was the first draft to take place in an NFL stadium and the first to be held in Texas. In order to be eligible to enter the draft, players must be at least three years removed from high school. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft was January 15, 2018.
Five QBs were selected in the first round for only the third time in the history of the draft; the first since the 1999 NFL Draft. Also, a pair of siblings – safety Terrell Edmunds and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds—were both drafted in the first round, marking the first-time brothers have been selected in the opening round of the same draft. The first round this year started and finished for the first time ever with Heisman Trophy winners – QB Baker Mayfield with the first overall (2017) and QB Lamar Jackson (2016) with the final 32nd overall selection.
Dates – April 26–28, 2018
Location – AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
256 total selections in 7 rounds
First selection – QB Baker Mayfield – Cleveland Browns
Mr. Irrelevant – WR Trey Quinn – Washington Redskins
Most selections (12) – Baltimore Ravens
Fewest selections (4) – Tennessee Titans
NFL Draft Selections by Conference
Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Total
AAC 1 2 3 0 3 4 5 18
ACC 6 4 7 9 6 6 7 45
Big 12 1 2 5 3 4 3 2 20
Big Ten 4 5 3 7 7 5 2 33
C-USA 1 1 1 2 1 2 2 10
Ind. (FBS) 2 0 1 1 0 1 0 5
MAC 0 0 1 0 2 0 2 5
MW 3 1 1 0 0 1 3 9
Pac-12 4 4 4 4 5 7 2 30
SEC 10 10 6 6 4 8 9 53
Sun Belt 0 0 1 1 0 2 0 4
NFL Daft Selections by Schools
12 – Alabama
7 – LSU, NC St, Ohio St
6 – Florida St, Georgia, Miami (FL), Penn St
5 – Florida, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Washington, Wisconsin
4 – Auburn, Louisville, Mississippi St, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, Ole Miss, Stanford, Texas, UCF, USC
3 – Arizona St, Boston College, Clemson, Iowa, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, SMU, Southern Miss, TCU, Tennessee, Texas A&M
2 – Arkansas, Boise St, California, Indiana, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan, Oregon, Rutgers, San Diego St, South Florida, Temple, Texas Tech, Tulane, Virginia, Wake Forest, Washington St, Western Kentucky, Western Michigan
Selections by Position
Position Round 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th Total
Center 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 8
Cornerback 3 6 2 4 5 6 3 29
Defensive end 2 2 4 7 1 4 3 23
Defensive tackle 3 1 6 0 4 3 3 20
Fullback 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
Guard 1 4 0 0 2 2 1 10
Kicker 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2
Linebacker 4 4 6 3 6 8 8 39
Long snapper 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Offensive tackle 3 1 7 2 2 3 2 20
Punter 0 0 0 0 3 0 1 4
Quarterback 5 0 1 1 1 2 3 13
Running back 3 4 1 5 1 3 4 21
Safety 3 1 4 4 3 3 0 18
Tight end 1 2 2 5 2 1 1 14
Wide receiver 2 6 2 5 4 8 6 33
Position Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Total
Offense 17 18 14 19 14 20 18 120
Defense 15 14 22 18 19 24 17 129
Special teams 0 0 0 0 4 0 3 7
Arizona Cardinals – 8-8 – Head Coach – Steve Wilks – 1st Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 10 Josh Rosen QB UCLA
2 47 Christian Kirk WR Texas A&M
3 97 Mason Cole C Michigan
4 134 Chase Edmonds RB Fordham
6 182 Chris Campbell CB Penn St
7 254 Korey Cunningham OT Cincinnati
The Cardinals focused on their offense in the early rounds and landed two highly developed prospects. Both QB Josh Rosen and WR Christian Kirk carry early starting grades. Rosen was one of the hottest prospects through the postseason and moved in to the early part of the first round off his fast development and high level of development. It was surprising that he was available at the 10th overall selection and the Cards quickly picked the slick throwing passer. They see him as a franchise QB though with the addition of veteran FA Sam Bradford he will probably sit his rookie season. Cards did a great job replacing retired Carson Palmer with both short and long-term solutions. WR Kirk is a versatile playmaker with the ability to play both the slot and outside. He is outstanding after the catch and the best returner in this class. He can be an immediate difference maker in the return game along with a fine compliment opposite Larry Fitzgerald in the passing game. OL Cole is a versatile lineman who fits both outside and inside. He was an excellent addition and will challenge for a starting interior job immediately with a good chance of winning a key role. He is highly developed technician with durability and toughness along with adequate athleticism. He can be a cornerstone blocker here and win the pivot job this season.
On the 4th round, they added RB Chase Edmonds, a versatile playmaker who gives this offense a threat in a few roles. He is both quick and fast with sure hands to provide a third down and change of pace back. On the 6th round, they added corner Charis Campbell, a big cover two defender who can win a roster spot in camp and could fund the role outright with a good showing. He was a solid late addition and the Cards only corner and defensive addition. On the 7th round, they added OT Korey Cunningham. He is a developmental tackle/guard who can be the swing tackle/guard here. He has the tools to warrant a long look here and eventually push for a starting job. Good late value. Grade: B+
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Cards biggest offseason acquisition was veteran QB Sam Bradford who can be a difference maker here. He must prove durable after another injury riddled season. He can excel in OC Mike McCoy’s offense. He can be a breakout performer here with a return of tailback David Johnson to full health. They also signed vet OL Justin Pugh who has Pro Bowl talent, though has been injured annually most of his career. They lost emerging LB Kareem Martin who had a breakout performance. They lost wideouts John Brown and Jaron Brown, TE Troy Nicklas, LB Karlos Dansby, DL Frostee Rucker and Josh Mauro, guard Earl Watford and DB Tyrann Mathieu, Tyvon Branch and Tramon Williams. Rookie UDFA with the best chance to impress in camp, Chad Kanoff, QB, Princeton, Austin Ramesh, FB, Wisconsin, Trent Sherfield, WR, Vanderbilt, C.J. Duncan, WR, Vanderbilt, Jalen Tolliver, WR, Arkansas at Monticello, Andrew Vollert, TE, Weber St, Alec Bloom, TE, UConn, Will House, OL, Southern Nazarene, Alec James, DE, Wisconsin, Owen Obasuyi, DT, Hampton, Matthew Oplinger, LB, Yale, Dennis Gardeck, LB, Sioux Falls, Frank Ginda, LB, San Jose St, Airius Moore, LB, NC St, Deatrick Nichols, CB, USF, Pierre Thomas, CB, Ferris St, A.J. Howard, S, Appalachian St, Zeke Turner, S, Washington and Matt McCrane, K, Kansas St. CB Nichols is a quick cover man who will push for a nickel corner spot. With heavy losses in FA in the secondary, he can win a roster spot. FB Ramesh is a tough lead blocker with adequate hands and could surprise here with a new coaching staff in place. WR Sherfield is a talented receiver who struggled in a vanilla offense. He can surprise here with only average depth at the position.
Training Camp Objectives: The Cards look to compete for the NFC West after sliding the past two seasons under departed HC Bruce Arians. New HC Steve Wilks will retool this effective defense after parting ways with many aging veterans. Veteran WR Larry Fitzgerald returns and should benefit working with the accurate Bradford. He relies on good protection and looks to young LT J Humphries to return to form and new guard Justin Pugh to set the pace for their line. They must improve as a unit. They rely on young RB David Johnson to return and carry the load weekly and set the pace for a balanced attack. Their underrated defense needs young #1 pick, Robert Nkemdiche to play up to his talent. He is a personal project for the defensive minded Wilks. Veteran DE Chandler Jones looks to repeat his outstanding league leading effort that totaled 17 sacks in 2017. Former top pick LB Haason Reddick is primed for a breakout performance. The Cards’ secondary will have a key new starter in safety Bubba Baker who also excelled as a special teams’ performer. The secondary returns shutdown corner Patrick Peterson to set the pace. Backer/safety Deone Buccanon is a tough versatile run stuffer and provides leadership. There are concerns about the other secondary positions that must be addressed to retain their high 2017 overall performance. The Cardinals look to sneak up on their NFC West opponents with little expectations. They must protect immobile Bradford to balance the impact of feature back David Johnson. They face three West teams among their first five games, with a favorable moderate schedule to start the season.
Atlanta Falcons – 11-5 – Head Coach Dan Quinn – 4th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 26 Calvin Ridley WR Alabama
2 58 Isaiah Oliver CB Colorado
3 90 Deadrin Senat DT South Florida
4 126 Ito Smith RB Southern Miss
6 194 Russell Gage WR LSU
6 200 Foyesade Oluokun S Yale
The Falcons want to add firepower to their offense and were surprised to find wideout Calvin Ridley still available at the 26th selection. They added Ridley to compliment Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones. Ridley will give the Falcons an awesome three wideout set along with Jones and Mohamed Sanu. This threesome along with the running back duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman gives QB Matt Ryan a deep versatile group of playmakers. Ridley has some injury concerns but could excel operating from the slot position. On the 2nd round, they added CB Isaiah Oliver, a big cover corner with a huge upside. He gives them a potential starter within a short time and a prospect who can matchup with big receivers. He was excellent value here and a cover man who will press for time in the nickel and dime packages with a good training camp. He projects as a starter here, though veteran corners Trufant and Alford are in their prime currently.
On the 3rd round, they added defensive tackle Deadrin Senat, a quick interior player who can fill a few roles. He worked out well and can push for time in a three-technique role where his burst of speed allows him to make tackles inside the box. He rose into top 100 off workouts. Might surprise on a tackle rotation but was a slight reach here though fair value for this unit. On the 4th round, they selected RB Ito Smith, a developed versatile back who they hope fills a few roles and gives them a reliable backup for the 3rd down role. He is a quality kickoff returner and highly developed as an outlet receiver to give them fine depth at the position. He was fair value at the 126th overall pick. On the 6th round, they added wideout Russell Gage and safety Foyesade Oluokun. Gage is a fast receiver with the burst to separate. Still raw as a route runner and may have to make team as a returner on this deep receiving corps. Safety Oluokun is a versatile defender with a nice level of development who played backer in college. He shows top instincts and the ability to stay clean and get to the ball with his fine speed and quickness. He can surprise here and become a key special teams defender with a good training camp. He could excel in coverage where his tackling and ball skills are highly developed Grade: C+
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Falcons had little room in their salary cap again this offseason. They lost a few veterans like DT Dontari Poe, DE Courtney Upshaw and Adrian Clayborn, WR Andre Roberts and Taylor Gabriel, TE Levine Toilolo and LBers Sean Weatherspoon and Jordan Tripp. Poe leaves a hole inside while the overall line depth has been weakened. They added a huge quality rookie UDFA class this year with Kurt Benkert, QB, Virginia, Justin Crawford, RB, West Virginia, Demario Richard, RB, Arizona St, Malik Williams, RB, Louisville, Jake Roh, TE, Boise St, Daniel Marx, FB, Stanford, Luke McNitt, FB, Nebraska, Devin Gray, WR, Cincinnati, Christian Blake, WR, Northern Illinois, Detrich Clark, WR, Colorado St, Lamar Jordan, WR, New Mexico, Matt Gono, OT, Wesley, College, Salesi Uhatafe, G, Utah, J.C. Hassenauer, C, Alabama, Mackendy Cheridor, DE, Georgia St, Jon Cunningham, DT, Kent St, Anthony Winbush, OLB, Ball St, Emmanuel Ellerbee, OLB, Rice, Emmanuel Smith, LB, Vanderbilt, Richard Jarvis, OLB, Brown, Secdrick Cooper, S, Louisiana Tech, Chris Lammons, S, South Carolina, Joseph Putu, CB, Florida and David Marvin, K, Georgia. QB Benkert has talent and could settle into a #3 or PS spot to develop in this system. Runners Crawford and Richard are tough between the tackle backs, but faces a difficult job in a deep backfield, though one should earn a PS spot. WR Gray has talent and the Falcons may want a long look if he shows his skills in the preseason. OL Gono is a fine athlete who needs time and was a good addition to can make this roster in time. OL Uhatafe is a tough blocker who can surprise here. LB Winbush, Smith and Jarvis are interesting prospects for this scheme and can land on the PS with a good training camp. DB Secdrick Cooper is a versatile defender with a nice level of development to make this roster.
Training Camp Objectives: The Falcons hope to rebuild step up and win the South division and return to the Super Bowl. They face a huge task in the NFC South, the best division in the NFL. QB Matt Ryan is an annual MVP candidate and is one of the most efficient passers in the league. He relies on a balanced ground game which ranks among the best in the league. Young runners Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are a dangerous tandem. The offensive line has improved with experience and provides fine protection. They rely on veteran wideouts Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu to provide big plays. They welcome top pick Calvin Ridley who will operate mainly out of the slot. The Falcons’ defense improved last season, yet they continue to add pieces in the NFL Draft. They hope young vets, LB Tak McKinley and Duke Riley give the base and package defenses a boost. LB Deion Jones plays at a Pro Bowl level and sets the pace for this unit. Safety Keanu Neal is a physical leader, though makes few big plays. Talented LBers Vic Beasley and Tak McKinley can be a difference maker tandem. This club needs to improve further to win the South where each club improved this offseason. The South provided three playoff teams last year and probably will again. A tough early schedule could set the pace of the Falcons with four playoff teams among their first five games.
Carolina Panthers – 11-5 – Head Coach Ron Rivera – 8th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 24 D. J. Moore WR Maryland
2 55 Donte Jackson CB LSU
3 85 Rashaan Gaulden CB Tennessee
4 101 Ian Thomas TE Indiana
4 136 Marquis Haynes DE Ole Miss
5 161 Jermaine Carter LB Maryland
7 234 Andre Smith LB North Carolina
7 242 Kendrick Norton DT Miami (FL)
The Panthers held a late first round pick and wanted to land an impact offensive weapon to help QB Cam Newton. They chose WR D.J. Moore, a versatile playmaker. He will press for time in a few roles especially the slot receiver spot. He has the talent to be the best Panther receiver since Steve Smith with speed and a high level of development. He can lineup inside and outside with breakaway speed and fine natural cutting skills. He gives them a missing dimension with his speed and natural pass catching ability. He is also a top-flight return specialist who can break open games as either a kickoff or punt returner. He was a fine addition and can be a difference maker here. With their 2nd and 3rd selections, they chose defensive backs Donte Jackson and Rashaan Gaulden. Jackson is lightning quick corner with the recovery speed to matchup in the vertical game. He plays both the nickel and outside and is expected to learn extensive rookie playing time after a mediocre 2017 performance by the secondary. Gaulden has played both corner and safety with high grades especially as a nickel. He is a hitter who can win time in the nickel and dime packages. He is a prospect with fine talent, though still a little raw. He can start here in time and probably at free safety with interesting upside potential.
On the 4th round, they chose TE Ian Thomas and LB Marquis Haynes. Thomas is a big athlete with the triangle numbers clubs covet in a tight end prospect. He was only a marginally productive college player in an offense that struggled to get him the ball. He has the speed to stretch the seam and the run after the catch ability to give the Panthers an awesome duo along with Greg Olsen. He will press for time in the package offenses and can in the long term win a starting job in time. LB Haynes played both up and down in college and is probably better suited up off the edge. He needs to get more physical to fight off NFL tackles. He should be a factor as a situational rusher. He lacks size to play down as a three down defender and needs work in coverage to eventually compete as a three-down backer. Good addition with upside. On the 5th round, they chose LB Jermaine Carter, a developed defender with quickness and very good ball instincts to play early and possibly push for the nickel backer role. He is a quick defender with good instincts and sure tackling to get to the ball and finish. He could claim a starting role early in his career in coverage units. That may be his niche in the NFL and a quality addition here. On the 7th round, they added LB Andre Smith and DT Kendrick Norton. LB Smith is a mobile versatile prospect who played on both inside and outside. He has the talent to be a surprise with the athletic package to play on special teams where his experience might help him land a roster spot. He gives them much needed depth on a talented but aging unit. With their other 7th round pick, they added DT Norton, a quick strong defender who flashed big time talent. He will push for the #3 tackle role in a rotation where he can provide inside playmaking as a rusher. He can win the role with a good camp and could develop into a solid prospect. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Panthers signed DT Dontari Poe to offset the loss of DT Star Lotulelei. He is a tough run defender which could free up Pro Bowl tackle Kawann Short. They added veteran back CJ Anderson to replace the loss of Jonathan Stewart. Anderson should be a fine compliment to young Christian McCaffrey. Wideouts Jarius Wright and Torrey Smith give Cam Newton much needed deep threats. They signed CB Ross Cockrell They lost guard Andrew Norwell and aging vets DE Charles Johnson, DT Star Lotulelei, RB Jonathan Stewart, TE Ed Dickson and CB Daryl Worley. They added a small rookie UDFA class who could win spots at pressing positions with a good showing in camp. Kyle Allen, QB, Houston, Reggie Bonnafon, RB, Louisville, Kyle Bosch, OL, West Virginia, Taylor Hearn, G, Clemson, Brendan Mahon, OL, Penn St, Chris Frey Jr., LB, Michigan St and Tracy Sprinkle, DL, Ohio St. were signed. OL Bosch, Hearn and Mahon can land PS spots if they fail to win a roster place.
Training Camp Objectives: The Panthers returned to the playoffs for the first time since their 2015 Super Bowl loss. They won most of their games by 8 points or less, relying on their solid ground game and run defense. Cam Newton had only a solid effort passing but led the team in rushing. Newton looks to return to his MVP form with a few key new weapons and further development of RB Christian McCaffrey and the healthy return of second year WR Curtis Samuel to give them a new dimension. Top pick DJ Moore has the talent to give this attack another dimension. They look to Devin Funchess to continue to provide a presence in the seam and red zone. Their talented LB unit led by Pro Bowlers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis and young Shaq Thompson continues to set the pace here. The secondary needs to improve after an average 2017 season with few big plays. This club will attempt to return to the playoffs in the talented South. Their passing game fell significantly in 2017 and Newton needs to return to form for this club to separate among the better NFC clubs. They are one of the teams to beat in the NFC South, but must establish that in the first half schedule when they face only two playoff clubs in their first eight games.
Chicago Bears – 5-11 – Head Coach – Matt Nagy – 1st Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 8 Roquan Smith LB Georgia
2 39 James Daniels C Iowa
2 51 Anthony Miller WR Memphis
4 115 Joel Iyiegbuniwe LB W. Kentucky
5 145 Bilal Nichols DT Delaware
6 181 Kylie Fitts DE Utah
7 224 Javon Wims WR Georgia
The Bears addressed their defense with a top ten selection. They wanted defensive leadership and playmaking ability and feel they landed their guy in Mike man Roquan Smith. They see him following in the great Bear legacy on Mike backers George/Butkus/Singletary/Urlacher. He is an explosive instinctive defender with speed and quickness to be an early three down starter. He finishes well and is also developed in coverage to win a starting job day one in camp. His leadership gives a young defense direction and he can be the catalyst for future playoff clubs.
On the 2nd round, they added OL James Daniels an interior blocker with well-developed skills to push for starting time this season at either center or guard. He moves well and is a sound technician who graded out high vs Big Ten talent. He is a prospect with nice upside to become the future leader here. His development can take this unit up a level and help second year QB Mitchell Trubisky take a huge step up. He was good value with the 39th overall selection. With their other 2nd round pick, they chose WR Anthony Miller after trading into the late round. He is a quick receiver and a tough runner after the catch. He was a fast-rising prospect with well-rounded skills and can be a fine compliment to new veteran addition Allen Robinson. He plays both inside and outside and can create mismatch situations. On the 4th round, they picked LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe, an emerging underclassman. He a tough defender with instincts and quickness. He has intriguing upside potential to continue to get better and possibly project inside in their 3-4 set in time. He has the tools to be a top special defender this year. In the 5th round, they added DL Bilal Nichols, a long lineman with the physical talent to fit the five-technique role. He lined up mainly inside at tackle, though best at the outside position. He needs time to develop further, but has starting skills here and a nice late addition with the talent to surprise within a short time.
With their #6 pick, they added defensive tweener Kylie Fitts, an edge rusher with playing experience both up and down. He figures to earn many reps this preseason on a unit with little depth especially on the outside. He has NFL starting talent, but is raw in key areas and must find a niche in training camp. In time, he could win a situational rush role where he shows the burst to make big plays. Good late value here and could be a surprise. On the 7th round, they choose wideout Javon Wims, a one-year wonder after a JC career. He was very productive in the run oriented Bulldog attack and make some impressive clutch catches. He needs to improve his release technique especially hand usage to get into his routes. He is a slight project, though has nice upside with development and is capable of winning a roster spot and improve in time. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Bears were aggressive again in the veteran FA market and added wideout Allen Robinson, TE Trey Burton and slot receiver Taylor Gabriel. They provide young QB Mitchell Trubisky with a few much-needed weapons after the offense ranked at the bottom in passing yardage. They parted ways with veterans, QB Mike Glennon, guard Josh Sitton, LBers Pernell McPhee, Christian Jones and Jerrell Freeman, wideout Cameron Meredith and Quinton Demps. They also parted ways with wideouts Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton after minimal production. They added a strong group of rookie UDFAs who can surprise and make this roster or PS. They added Ryan Nall, RB, Oregon St, Garrett Johnson, WR, Kentucky, Shaq Roland, WR, West Georgia, Matt Fleming. WR, Benedictine College, Dejon Allen, C, Hawaii, Jeremi Hall, OL, SFU, Bunmi Rotimi, DE, Old Dominion, Andrew Trumbetti, DL, Notre Dame, Abdullah Anderson, DL, Bucknell, Kevin Toliver II, CB, LSU, Rashard Fant, CB, Indiana, Michael Joseph, CB, Dubuque, John Franklin III, DB/KR, FAU, Tyrin Holloway, DB, Western Illinois, Elijah Norris, LB, Shepherd, Nick Orr, S, TCU and Ryan Winslow, P, Pitt. RB Nall can surprise with some development, though has playmaking ability to fill a role. OL Allen needs some time and technique work, but has the skill set to develop into an NFL blocker. WR Roland can fill an H back role and is a sure handed prospect with D1 production. CB Tolliver is a savvy cover man with the talent to make this roster. CB Fant will compete for the nickel corner role while CB Joseph has the skill set to surprise with development.
Training Camp Objectives: The Bears continue to struggle to establish a quality offense with minimal production especially in the passing game, points scored and 3rd down efficiency. They look to second year QB Trubisky to take a step up with more weapons and expected improved protection. Look for new TE Trey Burton to become a favorite of Trubisky and put up some impressive short zone numbers. They rely on young runner Jordan Howard who is a fine a workhorse feature back. They hope to get young scatback Tarik Cohen the ball more and allow him to make plays in space. They run behind an improving offensive line with one of the better interiors in the league. They receiving corps added Robinson and still hope for the return of former top pick receiver Kevin White to provide impact in the passing game. White missed most of the last two seasons. The defense was respectable last season and added impact LB Roquan Smith who can be the leader of this unit. Young LB Leonard Floyd can be a dominant defender if he proves healthy. The young secondary will probably return all starters. They reduced passing yardage, though lacked big play ability. The Bears have not made the playoffs since the 2010 season with only one year over .500. They will most likely continue difficult growing pains, but have some components in line to surprise and push the .500 mark. Their underrated front seven will be vital for any secondary improvement. The offense needs Trubisky to establish leadership here with new playmakers vital to any overall process. The Bears do not face a 2017 playoff team until late September with an average overall schedule.
Dallas Cowboys – 9-7 – Head Coach Jason Garrett – 8th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 19 Leighton Vander Esch LB Boise St
2 50 Connor Williams G Texas
3 81 Michael Gallup WR Colorado St
4 116 Dorance Armstrong DE Kansas
4 137 Dalton Schultz TE Stanford
5 171 Mike White QB W. Kentucky
6 193 Chris Covington LB Indiana
6 208 Cedrick Wilson Jr. WR Boise St
7 236 Bo Scarbrough RB Alabama
The Cowboys used only three of their nine draft selections on defensive players, but that again included their top choice. They were happy to find LB Leighton Vander Esch available with the 19th overall pick. He addresses a pressing need on their linebacking unit that offers big time talent, though an injury prone group. Vander Esch has the talent to continue to improve and become a three-down defender and possibly as a rookie. He has just started to tap into his awesome physical skill. Look for him to be a key rotational edge defender if he doesn’t start outright. He was a huge upside here with his best football in front of him.
With their 2nd round pick, they were surprised that Texas offensive lineman Connor Williams was available. They were set to choose TE Dallas Goedart with the 50th overall selection, but he was picked just in front of them. Williams is a fine talent with experience at both guard and tackle. He has excellent feet and reach with high grades vs top competition that should allow him to push for a starting guard spot in camp. He has the talent to win it outright and become the next fixture on the NFL’s best offensive line. On the 3rd round, they chose wideout Michael Gallup, a polished receiver with good route running and the toughness to go the middle. He fills a pressing need area after the release of veteran Dez Bryant. Gallup is developed receiver who can step in and surprise and be a reliable possession receiver early in his career.
With two 4th round picks, they choose DE Dorance Armstrong and TE Dalton Schultz. Armstrong is an edge defender with experience both up and down. He flashed impact ability as a pass rusher, especially during the 2016 season. They look for him to find a niche as a situational rusher after some strength and technique work. He was a good risk here and capable of paying big dividends in time. TE Schultz is a tough blocker who graded out well vs Pac-12 defenders. He shows reliable hands to be a dependable receiver. He lacks vertical speed, but a good #2 tight end early in his career. Cowboys will miss Pro Bowler Jason Witten immensely after he announced his retirement this spring. This combined with the release of Dez Bryant, puts tremendous pressure on Zeke Elliott to return to his rookie 1500 yard rushing performance. In the 5th round, they added QB Mike White, a developed passer with a strong accurate arm. He gives a sound developmental type behind young starter Dak Prescott. White needs time to settle into this offense but was an interesting addition and a prospect who can payout nicely in a few seasons with development. With two 6th round picks, they choose LB Chris Covington and WR Cedrick Wilson. LB Covington comes off a strong final performance. He is a quick explosive defender with impact potential on coverage units early in his career. With development, he can surprise in the base defense, though he needs time to refine his skill set. WR Wilson is a lean polished receiver with fine hands to make this roster and push for time in three wideout sets. He was excellent value here and is another rookie receiver who can make this roster and help in multiple packages. His impact on the return game is counted on with little impact in recent seasons. With their 7th round pick, they chose runner Bo Scarbrough, a big physical tailback who can win the backup role behind Elliott. He has the nose for the end zone and has shown he can carry the load on a game to game basis. He was excellent late value and capable of filling a key situational role in this changing offense. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Cowboys made only a few moves in FA with little room under the salary cap. They added DL Kony Ealy and Jihad Ward, OT Cameron Fleming and Marcus Martin to improve their line depth. They added WR Allen Hurns who they hope provides more production than released vet Dez Bryant. They traded for WR/RS Tavin Austin who gives the return game a huge boost. They suffered significant losses especially the retirement of TE Jason Witten, a future HOF player. He leaves a huge void in leadership and production. They lost WR Brice Butler, in addition to guard Jon Cooper, LB Anthony Hitchens and CB Orlando Scandrick. They signed a large rookie UDFAs class with some interesting prospects with a chance to make this roster. They signed Dalton Sturm, QB, UTSA, Jordan Chunn, RB, Troy, David Wells, TE, San Diego St., Marchie Murdock, WR, Iowa St, Malik Earl, WR, Missouri St, Jake Campos, OL, Iowa St, Jay Robertson, OL, Tennessee, Bryce Johnson, OL, St. Cloud St, James Hearns, DE, Louisville, Joel Lanning, LB, Iowa St, Kam Kelly, CB, San Diego St, Austin Larkin, DE, Purdue, Donovan Olumba, CB, Portland, Dequinton Osborne, DT, Oklahoma St, Kyle Queiro, LB, Northwestern, Ed Shockley, LB, Villanova, Tyree Robertson, S, Oregon, and Charvarius Ward, CB, Middle Tennessee St. RB Chunn can make this roster as a #3 back. He has talent and could surprise over time. TE Wells is quality prospect with developed receiving skills and the frame and athleticism to be an effective inline blocker. He can surprise here and make this roster and fill a key role in package offenses. CB Kelly is a versatile defender who fits into the multiple packages and could win a role in those sets. LB Lanning is a tough savvy prospect who will help in a few roles and has NFL tools and will be tough to cut in September.
Training Camp Objectives: Cowboys will rely on young tailback Zeke Elliott to set the pace for this attack. He will be asked to carry the load after missing six games with a 2017 suspension. He can duplicate his 1500 yard rookie season, but will face eight in the box often with average talent at the skill positions. Young QB Dak Prescott faces a key season after struggling in big situations. He operates behind a NFL’s premier offensive line. The defense continues to allow too many big plays in key situations. The young secondary will be fully tested and looks to second year players Awuzie, Lewis and Woods to step up and make plays. Their front line again faces more early season suspensions with David Irving out the first four games. Young former top pick DE Taco Charlton is counted on win a starting job. Veteran Sean Lee is coming off another fine though injury season and is the leader that top pick Leighton Vander Esch and young Jaylon Smith look to set the pace for this young unit. The Boys offense has become very ordinary and needs Prescott and Elliot to play up to their 2016 form. Boys will probably challenge for the East, though they are one dimensional on offense and need a few young defenders to play up to their talent for this unit to be playoff worthy.
Detroit Lions – 9-7 – Head Coach Matt Patricia – 1st Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 20 Frank Ragnow C Arkansas
2 43 Kerryon Johnson RB Auburn
3 82 Tracy Walker S Louisiana
4 114 Da’Shawn Hand DE Alabama
5 153 Tyrell Crosby OT Oregon
7 237 Nick Bawden FB San Diego St
The Lions addressed their prime needs especially in the top 100 selections. They addressed their top needs early and had a solid class that filled a few key problem areas. With the 20th overall selection, they choose center Frank Ragnow, a big tough blocker who graded out very high vs SEC talent. He can handle nose tackles in single assignments and is proficient at getting to the second level. He is an anchor in pass protection and should give the Lions struggling ground game a huge boost with the toughness to set the pace for the line. He was a fast-rising blocker and a solid addition here. In the 2nd round, they added runner Kerryon Johnson in their endless pursuit for a quality feature back. Johnson is a tough slashing runner who takes no prisoners. He comes off some shoulder problems, but should see time next to new vet LeGarrette Blount. They should improve the leagues’ weakest ground game. He could win the starting job with a good preseason and can provide impact, though not fully developed as a receiver.
On the 3rd round, they chose safety Tracy Walker, a savvy cover man who was a favorite of the Lions’ brass. He will press for immediate time and could surprise and win a starting role as a rookie. He has developed cover skills and makes plays on the ball. He is an emerging defender who can contribute on coverage and package defenses this fall and has the skill set to warrant this early a selection. On the 4th round, they chose DL Da’Shawn Hand, a big versatile inside/outside lineman who gives this front a lot of options. He will play in a rotational front and get a lot of reps here. He was fine value here and has a huge upside after only a good career at Alabama. He can be a better pro than collegian, but must settle into a position to develop into a starter. On the 5th round, they added OL Tyrell Crosby, a big versatile lineman with experience at tackle and guard. He shows good footwork and power and graded out well in the ground game. He needs work as a technician to compete for starting time. He was outstanding value here and carries a starting grade in time. With their 7th round pick, they chose FB Nick Bawden, a hard-nosed back who blocked for a few 2000 yard rushers. He will faceup with linebackers and open holes for Blount and Johnson and could be an unsung contributor for the expected improved Lions’ ground game. He has talent to win a roster spot and probably starting assignment. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Lions signed LB Devon Kennard, RB LeGarrette Blount, center Wes Johnson and backup TE Levine Toilolo and Luke Willson. LB Kennard will be allowed to push the passer more than when with the Giants. Lions ranked near the bottom in sacks and rely mainly on Ezekiel Ansah. They intend to improve their weak ground game and added Blount who has been very effective with contenders. They parted ways with TE Eric Ebron who was just average and a huge hit on the salary cap. They lost starters, center Travis Swanson, LB Tahir Whitehead, DT Akeem Spence and OT Greg Robinson. They signed an average group of rookie FA, have the talent to surprise. They added Deontez Alexander, WR, Franklin College, Brandon Powell, WR, Florida, Teo Redding, WR, Bowling Green, DeAndre Goolsby, TE, Florida, John Montelus, OL, Virginia, Beau Nunn, OL, Appalachian St, Brett Kendrick, OL, Tennessee, JoJo Wicker, DL, Arizona St, Al-Rasheed Benton, LB, WVU, Chad Meredith, LB, Southeast Missouri, Amari Coleman, DB, Central Michigan, Antwuan Davis, CB, Texas, Josh Fatu, DT, USC, Mike Ford, CB, Southeast Missouri, Chris Jones, CB, Nebraska, Josh Okonye, CB, Purdue and Ryan Santoso, P, Minnesota. TE Goolsby is a gem who can pay dividends with development. CB Chris Jones can make this squad and push for time in multiple sets in time. WR Brandon Powell is a raw prospect with the skill set to surprise with further time at the position. CB Ford can make this roster or PS. He will press for the nickel role with experience and has the talent to surprise.
Training Camp Objectives: The Lions failed to make the players when they limped down the stretch with a .500 finish. They need to run the ball better and stop the ground game if they want to get back to the postseason. They hope to challenge the Vikings and Packers in the balanced NFC North and repeat their 5-1 divisional record. Veteran QB Matthew Stafford was again impressive and among the elite passers in the game despite the weakest rushing attack in the league. New backs, rookie Kerryon Johnson and vet Blount could form an interesting tandem to elevate this rushing attack. Matthew relies on two starting receivers Marvin Jones and Golden Tate to duplicate their 1000 yard receiving seasons. The lack of a playmaking TE will limit Stafford in the seam. Their maligned defense needs improvement throughout to ever take this club further in the postseason. DE Ziggy Ansah needs help in the sub packages. Their young secondary made few big plays again other than vet corner Darius Slay. They look to former high pick CB Teez Tabor to claim a starting job opposite Slay. They look to improve their package defenses in camp that have annually been among the worst coverage units in the league. The Lions have several key questions to answer before they return to the playoffs. QB Stafford will be even more dangerous with an improved ground game which will help their changing defense especially in late game situations. The defense needs to provide more big plays to challenge for the playoffs. They face only 1 playoff team in their first seven games which should allow them to get off to a strong start in an expected tough divisional race.
Green Bay Packers – 7-9 – Head Coach Mike McCarthy – 13th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 18 Jaire Alexander CB Louisville
2 45 Josh Jackson CB Iowa
3 88 Oren Burks LB Vanderbilt
4 133 J’Mon Moore WR Missouri
5 138 Cole Madison G Washington St
5 172 JK Scott P Alabama
5 174 Marquez Valdes-Scantling WR South Florida
6 207 Equanimeous St. Brown WR Notre Dame
7 232 James Looney DE California
7 239 Hunter Bradley LS Mississippi St
7 248 Kendall Donnerson LB SE Missouri St
The Packers’ new GM Brian Gutekunst added a huge class of rookie prospects after an active veteran FA offseason. They addressed their biggest needs with their early selections and multiple cornerback selections. With their first round pick they chose corner Jaire Alexander, a quick developed cover man with an early starting grade. He has good value here and will compete for starting job in camp. He has elite speed to matchup in the deep game, but must prove durable to play up to his abilities. With their 2nd round selection, they drafted corner Josh Jackson, a big cover man with excellent ball skills. He came on fast in 2017 and carries an early NFL starting grade. These two corners come after the Packers used their two 2nd round selections on corner Kevin King and safety Josh Jones last spring. They have given up too many big plays passing over recent seasons that have cost them dearly. Their top two selections Alexander and Jackson can help soon and both carry starting grades. King is a big agile defender with speed, good range and tackling skills and should compete for a starting job after five starts as a rookie in 2017. Safety Jones struggled in his seven 2017 starts and looks to make big strides in the upcoming training camp.
With their 3rd round selection, they drafted LB Oren Burks, an agile mobile backer who was productive in the tough SEC. He graded out highly in all areas and has the skill set to be a three-down starter in time. His mobility and coverage skills could earn him a nickel backer role early, in addition to a top flight special teams defender. With their 4th round selection, they chose wideout J’Mon Moore, the first of three receivers in this draft class. Moore is a playmaker with size and speed, but must prove consistent catching the ball. He gets a huge opportunity with only starters Davonte Adams and Randall Cobb guaranteed roles in this offense. With three 5th round picks, they chose OL Cole Madison, punter JK Scott and with Marquez Valdes-Scantling. OL Madison is a versatile guard/tackle with toughness and technique to press for a starting job in time. He needs some time, but was a good addition here. Punter Scott is a sound prospect with an NFL starting grade. He gets a chance to win the starting job after the Packers released starter Justin Vogel after the draft. Valdes-Scantling is a huge athlete who tested out very well at the NFL Combine. He has the complete skill set, though he is still raw in his route running and must improve his defense recognition. He gives the Packers a big athlete with enormous talent to be a fine NFL playmaker with development.
With their 6th round pick, they added wideout Equanimeous St Brown, a huge receiver with the talent to be a quality performer here. He was inconsistent at ND with some injury issues and inconsistencies at QB key problems. He needs route work in addition to strength development, though he is an intriguing prospect with definite upside in this passing game. He was an excellent late addition. With three 7th round picks, they added DE James Looney, LS Hunter Bradley and LB Kendall Donnerson DE Looney is a quick penetrator who the Packers hopes impresses as a role defender. He has the burst to make plays and could win a roster spot or PS position to develop in this scheme. LS Bradley is a good snapper who was the second special teams’ specialist drafted along with punter Scott. He can win the starting job outright in the preseason and was a solid addition here. LB Donnerson is a tweener who fits well here. He has a burst off edge to make big plays. He needs technique work along with strength development, but shows the raw talent to improve. He could surprise and win a starting job, though more likely lands on the PS if he shows ability during the preseason. He has interesting talent and was a good gamble here and can pay huge dividends in time. Grade: B+
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Packers made a few significant FA additions with the signing of veteran TEs Jimmy Graham and DE Muhammad Wilkerson. Graham could be prime for a huge performance working with star QB Aaron Rodgers. He is a deep threat in the seam and virtually unstoppable in the red zone. Expect him to make a huge impact in this offense and fill the void by the release of WR Jordy Nelson. DE Wilkerson is in the leagues’ top ten DL when focused. Packers are hoping they catch lightning here and Wilkerson can a difference maker in this front. They were the two biggest FA additions in years in Titletown and capable of taking both units up a level. They lost talented safety Morgan Burnett which leaves a huge hole in the secondary. They parted with aging vets Nelson, guard Jahri Evans, LB Ahmad Brooks and TE Richard Rodgers. They traded former #1 pick corner Damarious Randall for young QB Deshone Kizer. The Packers signed an average rookie FA class including Tim Boyle, QB, Eastern Kentucky, Kevin Rader, TE, Youngstown St, Ryan Smith, TE, Miami (Oh), Kyle Meadows, OT, Kentucky, Alex Light, OT, Richmond, Jacob Alsadek, G, Arizona, Austin Davis, C, Duke, Connor Sheehy, DE, Wisconsin, Tyler Lancaster, DT, Northwestern, Parris Bennett, LB, Syracuse, Greer Martini, LB, Notre Dame, Filipo Mokofisi, DT, Utah, Raven Greene, S, James Madison, Naashon Hughes, LB, Texas, CJ Johnson, LB, East Texas Baptist and Marcus Porter, LB, Fairmont St. TE Rader has talent to fill a few roles and could land on the PS. TE Ryan can surprise here and win a roster spot with a good preseason. DT Mokofisi has talent to make this squad, though may need a season on the PS.
Training Camp Objectives: The Packers fell back last season and made changes in the front office with the move to a new GM Brian Gutekunst over Ted Thompson. The Packers have been delinquent to support star QB Aaron Rodgers through his prime with a good ground game and big play receivers. Rodgers can carry a club and can take this club far with the addition of Graham. They need a young back to emerge as the starter, or they will rely on a committee to rush the ball. They look to young backs Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones to compliment veteran Ty Montgomery. Jones is primed for a big effort and could command most of the reps. The line needs to step up after a subpar performance overall. The Packers defense has failed in many big situations and was addressed with their top three picks and again the first two by defensive backs. They rely on LB Clay Matthews to provide big plays with help from resigned Nick Perry. Upfront pressure can be the difference in any secondary improvement. DT Mike Daniels has been a force inside and needs young Kenny Clark to continue his ascent as a top-flight pro. The addition of DE Wilkerson can provide impact and elevate his unit across the board. The young secondary has talent, though only safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has shown playmaking ability. The loss of safety Morgan will be felt in big situations. This unit ranks among the worst in the league and may hold the key to improvement. They get a favorable opening schedule that gives them time to get their suspect secondary together. They made significant improvement to compete with the top clubs but will have to prove it in big situations.
Los Angeles Rams – 11-6 – Head Coach Sean McVay – 2nd Y ear
2018 Rookie Draft Class
3 89 Joseph Noteboom OT TCU
4 111 Brian Allen C Michigan St
4 135 John Franklin-Myers DE Stephen F. Austin
5 147 Micah Kiser LB Virginia
5 160 Ogbonnia Okoronkwo LB Oklahoma
6 176 John Kelly RB Tennessee
6 192 Jamil Demby OT Maine
6 195 Sebastian Joseph DT Rutgers
6 205 Trevon Young DE Louisville
7 231 Travin Howard LB TCU
7 244 Justin Lawler DE SMU
The Rams traded their top two selections in deals involving top flight receivers. They traded their #1 pick to the Patriots prior to the NFL Draft for speedy wideout Brandin Cooks. They hope he gives young passer Jared Goff the vertical threat missing in this attack. Previously they traded for wideout Sammy Watkins with the Bills for their #2 pick. Watkins left in FA this offseason and signed with the Chiefs.
With their 3rd round pick, they drafted OT Joseph Noteboom, the first of three offensive linemen. Noteboom is a fine athlete with footwork to slide, pull and get to the 2nd level. He moves very well and gives a good effort, but needs technique and strength development to be ready for NFL starting time. He has a big upside and could start after some refinement. With their two 4th round picks, they chose center Brian Allen and DE John Franklin-Myers. Allen is a hard-nosed overachiever with sound technique. Rams project him to replace starter John Sullivan early in his career, though he was a reach this early. DE Franklin-Myers was a rising prospect off an impressive postseason following a strong senior performance. He figures to earn time in their talented line rotation on the strongside. He has starting talent in time. With two 5th round picks, they chose linebackers Micah Kiser and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Kiser is a tough Mike man who fills the hole well and finishes with sure tackles. Okoronkwo is a tweener who is best in an attack role. He strikes with power and can penetrate off the edge to earn a situational rush role early in his career. With two 5th round picks, they chose runner John Kelly, OT Jamil Demby and defensive linemen Sebastian Joseph and Trevon Young. Kelly is a change of pace back with reliable hands as a receiver. He can win the 3rd down back role here. OL Demby is a big mobile blocker with NFL skills. He can win a roster spot and settle in here and surprise with some development. DT Joseph is a quick interior tackle who will have to impress in the preseason to make this squad. He has the talent to earn a PS position. DE Young is another edge rusher who will fight for a roster opening. He has the skills to warrant a long look on the PS if he fails to make the roster. With two 7th round picks, they chose LB Travin Howard and DE Justin Lawler. LB Howard is a quick sideline to sideline defender who is a sure tackler. He has good coverage skills and can win the nickel backer role here, in addition to excelling on special teams. DE Lawler is an attack edge defender with a great motor and very productive. He can surprise and make this squad with a strong preseason. He can create a pass rushing niche on this defense. Grade: C
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Rams were very aggressive in the trade market and added veteran corners Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib for draft picks. They traded their #1 pick for wideout Brandin Cooks who gives Goff a dangerous deep threat. They did sign Pro Bowl DT Ndu Suh who couples with dominant Aaron Donald to form an incredible interior. They did trade LB Alec Ogletree, WR Tavon Austin and LB Robert Quinn. They parted ways with Pro Bowl corner Tremaine Johnson and WR Sammy Watkins when they were unable to reach contract agreements. They signed a weak group of rookie UDFAs in Luis Perez, QB, Texas A&M-Commerce, Steven Mitchell, WR, USC, LaQuvionte Gonzalez, WR, Southeastern, Nick Holley, RB, Kent St, Ricky Jeune, WR, Georgia Tech, Codey McElroy, TE, Southeastern Oklahoma St, Jeremiah Kolone, G, San Jose St, Dalton Keene, DT, Illinois St, McKay Murphy, DT, Weber St, Steven Parker, S, Oklahoma, Afolabi Laguda, S, Colorado, Curtis Mikell, CB, Southern Miss, Ramon Richards, DB, Oklahoma St, Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana, Chucky Williams, DB, Louisville and Brian Womac, DE, Rice. Wideouts Mitchell and Jeune are talented athletes who deserve a long look and could land on their PS with a good showing this summer. LB Scales is a tough active defender who can make this roster or is an ideal PS candidate.
Training Camp Objectives: The Rams had a breakout 2017 season under new coach Sean McVay earning the NFC West title with a 11-6 record. Young QB Jared Goff benefitted the most from the presence of McVay with improved recognition skills along with the return of Pro Bowl runner Todd Gurley. Goff looks to his young receiving corps plus the addition of Cooks to pressure defenses weekly. Their young line responded to veteran LT Andrew Whitworth to form a sound unit in both run and pass blocking. The young receiving corps of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods and TE Gerald Everett has developed quickly. The defensive front is a has one of the premier defenders in the game in Aaron Donald who forms a dominant front with young DE Michael Brockers and All World Suh. The veteran secondary looks to Pro Bowl defenders Peters and Talib to shutdown outside receivers. Safety Lamarcus Joyner is a versatile player who lines up the secondary. The Rams are the team to beat in the NFC and West in particular where they went 4-2 last season. Goff and Gurley may be as good as any backfield pair in the game. The defense has the makings of a dominant unit with Suh and Donald commanding special attention and new corners Peters and Talib, a savvy tandem. This club is primed for a strong run in the NFC with several impact players at key positions on both sides of the ball. The schedule is favorable especially post-Thanksgiving games.
Minnesota Vikings – 14-4 – Head Coach Mike Zimmer – 5th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 30 Mike Hughes CB UCF
2 62 Brian O’Neill OT Pittsburgh
4 102 Jalyn Holmes DE Ohio St
5 157 Tyler Conklin TE Central Michigan
5 167 Daniel Carlson PK Auburn
6 213 Colby Gossett G Appalachian St
6 218 Ade Aruna DE Tulane
7 225 Devante Downs LB Cal
The Vikings stayed with their value board throughout the NFL Draft. They drafted CB Mike Hughes with their first-round selection. He is a highly developed cover man with talent for inside and outside. He is a ball hawk and gives the Vikes the deepest corner unit in the league. He is also a top return specialist. On the 2nd round, they drafted OT Brian O’Neill, a big agile athlete with the skill set to start on either side. He needs some time to refine his technique after converting from tight end. He figures to start within a short time. On the 4th round, they selected DE Jalyn Holmes, a versatile lineman who provides interior pass rushing talent. He also projects to the strongside end and gives the Vikings a fine rotational lineman capable of filling a few roles.
With their two 5th round picks, they selected TE Tyler Conklin and PK Daniel Carlson. Conklin is a sure handed mobile prospect who can compliment Kyle Rudolph in this offense. He is a highly developed receiver with development to help early. Carlson has a canon for a leg, but is coming off a subpar performance that pushed him down the charts. He was good value here and capable of winning the starting job outright in camp. With their two 6th round picks, they selected OG Colby Gossett and DE Ade Aruna. Gossett is a physical versatile interior blocker with extensive experience. He will push for a starting interior job in time and has a good chance to surprise with average depth here. DE Aruna is a tall edge rusher who regressed in 2017 after a strong 2016 performance. He has fine length and quickness to provide pressure off the edge. He needs technique and strength work. In the 7th round, they selected LB Devante Downs, a versatile defender with fine instincts and sure tackling. He is a savvy defender who was very productive between the tackles and provides a fine backup and special teams performer. He was a good late gamble and capable of becoming a good role defender. His time on coverage units will depend on how quickly he improves his basic fundamentals. Grade: C+
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Vikings were aggressive in FA again and added veteran QB Kirk Cousins and DT Sheldon Richardson. Cousins gives them a productive durable leader who is in his prime. They look to him to fine tune this balanced attack which ranks in the top ten in all vital statistics. They hope he can take them the next step to the Super Bowl. DT Richardson is a quick powerful addition to their talented front four. He should thrive next to DT Linval Joseph and face single blocking often on the interior. They parted ways with QBs Sam Bradford, Case Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater, RB Jerick McKinnon and DT Tim Johnson. Veteran guard Joe Berger retired which leaves a huge hole on the inside where his consistency will be missed. They added a quality rookie UDFAs class in Peter Pujals, QB, Holy Cross, Korey Robertson, WR, Southern Miss, Jeff Badet, WR, Oklahoma, Chad Beebe, WR, Northern Illinois, Jake Wieneke, WR, SDSU, Roc Thomas, RB, Jacksonville St, Mike Boone, RB, Cincinnati, Johnny Stanton, FB, UNLV, Tyler Hoppes, TE, Nebraska, Chris Gonzalez, G, San Jose St, Curtis Cothran, DT, Penn St, Garret Dooley, LB, Wisconsin, Holton Hill, CB, Texas, Craig James, CB, Southern Illinois, Hercules Mata’afa, LB, Washington St, Trevon Mathis, S, Toledo, Tray Matthews, S, Auburn, Brett Taylor, LB, Western Illinois and Jonathan Wynn, DE, Vanderbilt. WR Robertson has the skills to surprise here and could win a roster spot with good camp and further development. WR Badet is a quality slot receiver and returner who can make this roster. WR Wieneke is a big possession receiver with sure hands and will press for a roster spot or PS position. TE Hoppes is underrated and is a sure handed receiver who runs good routes. RB Thomas is a slasher who hits the hole hard and can make this squad with a good preseason. CB Hill is a talented cover man who must prove over his past incidents. He can a win backup role here and has interesting upside if he has matured. LB Mata’afa is a versatile defender who shows a burst and can play up and down. He can make this roster. Safety Matthews is a hitter with good range and tackling skills to help on coverage units.
Training Camp Objectives: The Vikings had a major turnaround in 2017 and won their second NFC North title in three years behind departed QB Case Keenum. They were 5-1 in the division and won a dramatic playoff win over New Orleans on the last play. New QB Cousins will work with a deep group of receivers along with returning runner Dalvin Cook who was impressive in his limited time as a rookie. The offensive line has questions on the interior with Berger retiring and unproven talent up next. They rely on tackles Reilly and Remmers plus young center Pat Elflein. The receiving corps lacks a true #1 performer and former top pick Laquon Treadwell has been a major disappointment. Veteran wideouts Diggs and Thielen along with TE Rudolph have been consistent playmakers. The Vikes defense ranks among the best in the game with their tough front four setting the pace. The addition of DT Richardson further improved a front that pressure the QB consistently to lead the league in pass defense. LB Eric Kendricks is a talented three down defender who makes their average unit better. The young secondary improved and has the deepest group of corners in the league with the addition of top pick Mike Hughes. Pro Bowl FS Harrison Smith is the best in the game while big corner Xavier Rhodes has emerged as an elite defender. The ground game can give this club a major boost with a healthy Cook. QB Cousins can direct this attack and keep it among the best in the league. Their defensive unit gives the Vikes a chance to remain atop in the changing NFC North. This club retooled with major additions on both sides of the ball at key positions to be the team to beat in the North and one of the top favorites in the NFC to compete for the Super Bowl.
New Orleans Saints -12-6 – Head Coach Sean Payton – 12th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
114 Marcus Davenport DE UTSA
3 91 Tre’Quan Smith WR UCF
4 127 Rick Leonard OT Florida St
5 164 Natrell Jamerson S Wisconsin
6 189 Kamrin Moore CB Boston College
6 201 Boston Scott RB Louisiana Tech
7 245 Will Clapp C LSU
The Saints pulled off a bold trade when they moved up in the first round from #27 to #14 for a 5th round pick this year and their #1 pick next spring. That was a high price to pay for the talented edge rusher Marcus Davenport. He rose up the charts significantly through the postseason. He has excellent size and fills a tweener role with the ability to play up and down and gives clubs a versatile edge defender reminiscent of Jason Taylor. He figures to win the weakside end spot and hope he gives this improved defense a playmaker off the edge. They look to him to provide impact as a pass rusher to justify the high price they paid. They traded this year’s #2 pick to acquires a #3 last spring where they drafted runner Alvin Kamara who had a Pro Bowl season. It was an outstanding trade which gave them a versatile three down weapon. In the 3rd round, they drafted wideout Tre’Quan Smith, a big athlete whose best football is ahead of him. He can help in three and four wideout sets and carries a starting grade in time with development. Good addition.
In the 4th round, they selected OT Rick Leonard, a right tackle prospect who impressed in workouts. He adds much needed depth to the outside and has the versatility to line also at guard. His film work does not warrant this early a selection, though the line class came of the board quickly once again. With their 5th round pick, they chose safety Natrell Jamerson, a mobile defender with developing coverage skills. He is a potential three-down defender and figures to push for time in the nickel and dime packages early and possibly start. He gives the Saints a deep group of safeties that could command interest around the league. He also projects to cornerback along with the makeup to be a top flight special teams’ defender. In the 6th round, they drafted corner Kamrin Moore and RB Boston Scott. Moore flashed talent in a cover two type role and best suited for a zone scheme. Scott is a short compact scatback who can provide a backup weapon. He also is a quality returner which can reduce the workload on young star Alvin Kamara. In the 7th round, they addressed the line again with little interior depth with the addition of OL Will Clapp. He gives them great versatility with talent to play center, tackle and guard. He was excellent value here and has starting NFL talent on the interior. Grade: C+
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Saints had some room under their salary cap and signed former players, CB Patrick Robinson and OG Jermon Bushrod. Robinson can bring veteran leadership to this young secondary. They also signed LB Demario Davis a productive starter inside and improves this unit nicely with experience at a few positions. They let veterans, safety Kenny Vaccaro, guard Seniko Kelemete, TE Coby Fleener, DT Nick Fairley and Willie Snead IV walk in FA. Tackle Zach Strief retired. They signed a solid group of rookie FA and several can win a roster spot or land on the practice squad, namely, J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio St, Ryan Yurachek, FB, Marshall, Nate Wozniak, TE, Minnesota, Deon Yelder, TE, Western Kentucky, Keith Kirkwood, WR, Temple, Cory Helms, OL, South Carolina, Jeromy Irwin, OT, Colorado, KeShun Freeman, LB, Georgia Tech, Colton Jumper, LB, Tennessee, Henry Mondeaux, DL, Oregon, Taylor Stallworth, DT, South Carolina, Linden Stephens, CB, Cincinnati and J.T. Gray, DB, Mississippi St. FB/TE Yurachek is a fine versatile pass catcher who fits the H-back role well and is a highly productive short zone receiver. He can make this club and fill a key role. TE Yelder is a raw athlete with fine tools to mold into a solid #2 prospect. He can make this roster or PS with upside in time. OL Irwin has the talent to make the PS on a unit with marginal depth.
Training Camp Objectives: The Saints attempt to regroup after a devastating playoff loss to the Vikings. They return one of the game’s most potent attacks directed by ageless Drew Brees. He utilizes versatile Alvin Kamara who had an impact rookie season. Their offense was among the highest ranked offense in virtually every category. Brees lights it up weekly with big plays and few turnovers. Kamara opens the offense up and commands heavy coverage in all situations. Brees works with young receiver Michael Thomas who is a true #1. The line was excellent with LT Terron Armstead, veteran guard Andrus Peat and rookie RT Ryan Ramczyk. Their defense made huge improvement especially in points allowed, sacks and interceptions. The secondary failed in their playoff loss allowing big plays in key situations. Starting rookie safety Marcus Williams made a catastrophic mistake missing a tackle on the last pay. He is a good player and couples with Vonn Bell to form a good duo. The addition of vet LB Davis will push Manti Te’o and may force some positional shifts. Young corner Marshon Lattimore won Defensive Rookie of the year honors and couples with vet Robinson. Their front seven may hold the key and looks to the addition of Davenport to provide more pressure off the edge. With only one playoff team on their early season schedule until late October, the Saints look to get off to a fast start. They are primed for a strong run to defend their South title. Their second half schedule will test them to the fullest four division games in their final six games.
New York Giants – 3-13- Head Coach Pat Shurmur – 1st Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 2 Saquon Barkley RB Penn St
2 34 Will Hernandez G UTEP
3 66 Lorenzo Carter LB Georgia
3 69 B.J. Hill DL N.C. St
4 108 Kyle Lauletta QB Richmond
5 139 R.J. McIntosh DL Miami (Fl)
The Giants addressed pressing issues on both sides of the ball with their top four selections. They add six picks after trades and held four of the top 69 choices. They retained the #2 overall pick despite a few offers to move up in the top ten selections. They were enthralled with tailback Saquon Barkley right from the beginning and chose the blue-chip back with their pick. Barkley is highly developed and capable of being a three down starter day one. He will give the Giants an impact weapon to join wideouts Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram to form a super potent quartet. Barkley is capable of 1200 yards rushing and 75+ receptions. He has that type of talent and level of development. He opens up this offense tremendously and forces free safeties to give him attention that can open up coverage vs Beckham and Engram. Maybe the best Giant #1 pick since Eli Manning. He gives them an impact weapon with rare sub 4.35 speed to run the seam and after the catch. His openfield running skills were not tapped as a collegian and he is capable of providing another fast option for Eli Manning.
On the 2nd round, they chose guard Will Hernandez, a powerful tough blocker with good footwork. He graded out high at every stage, Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and workouts to backup his fine on field performance. He is projected to start at left guard to replace departed vet Justin Pugh. Hernandez couples in new vet LT Nate Solder to form a potentially powerful leftside. With two 3rd round picks, they added LB Lorenzo Carter and DL B.J. Hill. LB Carter is an awesome athlete who came on strong in 2017 to elevate his grade. He actually tested out better than Tremaine Edmunds in virtually every event at the NFL Combine and he was selected with the 16th overall choice. He projects to an attack backer role and figures to push for time in a rotation of edge players. He is an excellent kick blocker and can be an impact defender on special teams. DL Hill is a big body lineman with power and quickness. He projects to both the five-technique spot as well as a three-technique position in the package defenses. Both 3rd round picks were fine value and additions for their front seven. Each carries an early NFL starting grade.
In the 4th round, they added QB Kyle Lauletta, a smooth throwing prospect who was very production at the small college level. New GM Dave Gettleman felt he was too good to pass on here with Eli entering his 15th season at 37 years old. Lauletta did well at the Senior Bowl and will compete for the #2 role with Davis Webb, a 3rd round selection last April. This was a good value addition with many rating him among the top 75 prospects. He could be the long-term answer for Eli’s eventual replacement. In the 5th round, they chose DL R.J. McIntosh, a big tough lineman who played inside more than outside as a collegian. He has the body type of a five-technique lineman who will be looked at there in the base defense. He can start in the position with development. He also plays the three-technique role and showed the ability to penetrate as an interior rusher. He was excellent value here, and though needs some time, he is capable of paying huge dividends after his settles into this defense. He was interesting upside and is a playmaker, especially attacking the LOS and moving laterally. He needs to settle into a position and could find a niche in the package defenses as a situational rusher. He could be a steal this late with the skill set to press for time and possibly an eventual starter. Grade: A
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Giants were selective in FA and addressed few key areas on both sides of the ball. They addressed their screaming five-year LT position immediately with the signing of vet Nat Solder. He gives them a bookend blocker for the blindside. They also signed LB Kareem Martin, guard Patrick Omaneh, runner Jon Stewart and wideout Cody Latimer. Martin is an underrated signing and could be a fixture in this 3-4 scheme. He can stuff the run and rush the passer. Omaneh will probably win a starting guard job. Latimer is a young veteran wideout with upside as a receiver and he has excelled on special teams as a gunner. Stewart is a great mentor for Barkley and a good short yardage back. They also added DE Josh Mauro, CB William Gay, and DB Michael Thomas. They traded for LB Alec Ogletree for two third day draft picks, an excellent move. Ogletree will start inside and is a playmaker who is just entering his prime. They traded defender JPP for an early #3 pick. He was not a good fit for this defensive scheme. They lost OL Justin Pugh, Wes Richburg and DJ Fluker, CB Ross Cockrell and LB Devon Kinnard. They linemen were quality blockers they had to replace. They released corner DRC and wideout Brandon Marshall, two high priced fading veterans. Many other veteran FAs were unsigned entering camp. They signed a quality rookie FA class with a few having good chances to make the roster or PS. They signed Robert Martin, RB, Rutgers, Jawill Davis, WR, Bethune-Cookman, Nick Gates, OL, Nebraska, Tyler Howell, OT, Missouri, Evan Brown, C, SMU, Tyrell Chavis, DT, Penn St, Aaron Davis, CB, Georgia, Tae Davis, OLB, Tennessee-Chat, Grant Haley, CB, Penn St., Mike Jones, DB, Temple and Sean Chandler, S, Temple. OL Gates is a major sleeper with untapped talented and could surprise here. CB Haley is a quick tough smallish cover man who will press for time in the nickel package and can make this roster and also a good PS candidate. Safety Chandler is a sleeper with pro talent to warrant a long look and can make the roster or the PS.
Training Camp Objectives: The Giants collapsed with a team wide breakdown. The roster has deteriorated with continuous weak draft classes the past five that leaves the club with little depth anywhere. Their offense line has been rebuilt with Solder and guards, rookie Hernandez and vet Omameh. Young tight end Evan Engram proved to be a good weapon and will join Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard. Rookie back Barkley can be a difference maker here and create massive problems in coverage. Defenses will struggle matchup up with Beckham and Barkley, with one likely in single coverage. Vet QB Eli Manning still has it and will benefit from improved protection and the presence of Barkley. Former LT Ereck Flowers moves to right tackle and must prove ready to start. The Giants defense changes their scheme after a total collapse in 2017. DE/LB Olivier Vernon moves to backer while DT Harrison lines up at nose tackle. The secondary was in disarray with three suspensions for their corners. Veteran corner Janoris Jenkins is primed for a fine effort while former #1 pick Eli Apple is committed for a breakout performance. Young safety Darian Thompson benefitted from starting for a full season. Vet Landon Collins returns from a broken forearm ready to play up to his Pro Bowl talent. The Giants will have to adjust quickly to a new defensive scheme to compete for a playoff spot. This club can press the Eagles for the division with an awesome collection of weapons for Eli to call on. NFC East title may be out of reach, but the playoffs is certainly not and real possibility here. They first half difficult schedule will dictate their direction with six NFC games among their first eight contests.
Philadelphia Eagles – 16-3 – Head Coach Doug Pederson – 3rd Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
2 49 Dallas Goedert TE South Dakota St
4 125 Avonte Maddox CB Pittsburgh
4 130 Josh Sweat DE Florida St
6 206 Matt Pryor OT TCU
7 233 Jordan Mailata OT Australian
rugby player from South Sydney – NRL
The Eagles traded out of the first round with the Ravens for #2 picks this and next year. They moved up from the 52nd spot to the 49th overall selection to pick TE Dallas Goedert. They moved just ahead of the Cowboys who had Goedert earmarked at the 50th overall selection. Goedert is a talented prospect with fine receiving skills to be a factor this season. He gives the Eagles a well-rounded player to couple with Zach Ertz to form a potent duo. Goedert has the frame to also be a fine inline blocker. His receiving skills in the red zone are highly developed and a weapon they look to exploit this season. Excellent addition. There original #2 pick was traded to the Browns early and was final payment for QB Carson Wentz.
With their two #4 picks, they chose CB Avonte Maddox and DE Josh Sweat. CB Maddox is a smallish quick cover man who is much tougher than his size. He can jump routes and finish consistently with sure tackles. He will compete for the nickel corner role early in his career and is capable of winning it outright despite some physical limitations. Sweat is a quick edge rusher with a burst to close on the passer. Only marginal vs the run with adequate size and thin base which probably limits him to a situational rusher. He does fit the wide nine end spot in the Eagles defense and could carve a key niche in their package fronts. With their 6th and 7th round picks, they added offensive linemen Matt Pryor and Jordan Mailata. Both are huge prospects with the physical talent to compete at right tackle and guard. Pryor has an incredible physical skill set of huge arms and hands on a 6’7” frame. He is a good addition for their tackle rotation and was a decent late addition. He needs technique work but has the talent to surprise in time. Mailata is an Australian rugby player and has never played American football. He has raw athleticism plus a massive frame and footwork to develop into an NFL lineman. He needs extensive coaching and technique work to be ready for NFL time. He will benefit from every camp and offseason program. He could surprise in time but most likely needs at least two years before even being a viable backup. Grade: C
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Eagles added DL Haloti Ngoti and Michael Bennett from Super Bowl winning clubs. They give this front depth to rotate 6-7 linemen. TE Rodgers minimizes the loss of veteran TE Trey Burton. WR Markus Wallace offsets the loss of Torrey Smith. They lost DE Vinny Curry, DT Beau All, runner LeGarrette Blount, CB Patrick Robinson, TE Brent Celek and punter Donnie Jones, most due to salary cap limitations. They released LB Mychal Kendricks. They added a quality rookie UDFA class in Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame, Toby Weathersby, OT, LSU, Joe Ostman, DE, CMU, Bruce Hector, DT, South Florida, Danny Ezechukwu, LB, Purdue, Chandon Sullivan, CB, Georgia St, Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma, Jeremy Reaves, S, South Alabama, Stephen Roberts, S, Auburn and Dominick Sanders, S, Georgia. Runner Adams was an excellent addition and a prospect who can make this team and push for time in short yardage situations. Safety Reaves can press veterans for a roster spot here. He also has experience on the corner. OL Weathersby deserves a long look and is a good fit for the PS to settle into this offense. CB Sullivan is the ideal PS candidate if he shows talent in camp.
Training Camp Objectives: The Eagles attempt to defend their NFL title with the luxury of two starting QBs in Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. Wentz is probably not ready for the season and waits until October despite what is said. Foles hopes to continue to showcase his talent and direct this offense. Coach Doug Peterson will let things fall into line with QB Carson Wentz most likely not ready until midseason. They look to the return of LT Jason Peters to keep this unit at a high level. They hope DL Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata gives them a deep unit to rotate. They focused on defense this offseason draft and look for improvement rushing the pass and in coverage. Former top pick DE Derrick Barnett and young vet Timmy Jernigan will be pressed by new vets to make more plays. The secondary is an area where young corners Darby and Jones are expected to make big leaps after learning the system in 2017. This is a reasonably deep club in key areas with few weak areas and the team to beat in the NFC East.
San Francisco 49ers – 6-10 – Head Coach Kyle Shanahan – 2nd Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 9 Mike McGlinchey OT Notre Dame
2 44 Dante Pettis WR Washington
3 70 Fred Warner LB BYU
3 95 Tarvarius Moore S Southern Miss
4 128 Kentavius Street DE N.C. St
5 142 D. J. Reed CB Kansas St
6 184 Marcell Harris S Florida
7 223 Jullian Taylor DT Temple
7 240 Richie James WR Middle Tennessee
The 49ers had another big draft class with 9 overall picks. Over the last six drafts, they have selected an amazing NFL record 63 prospects with marginal results and very limited production. They have made progress and took a huge step with the trade for young QB Jimmy Garoppolo last fall. He went 5-0 as a starter and looks to take the 49ers back to contention as early as 2018. In the first round, they chose OT Mike McGlinchey, a huge blocker with bulk, wingspan and technique. He carries a rookie starting grade for right tackle with the skill set to slide over to the left side in a few seasons. Capable of being a top flight right tackle early and a fine addition here.
With their 2nd round pick, they added WR/RS Dane Pettis a quick versatile playmaker. He was a surprise this early, but brings a lot to the table as both a receiver and returner. He runs fine routes and shows very good running skills. He is an impact returner especially in the punt return game. With two 3rd round picks, they added LB Fred Warner and DB Tarvarius Moore. LB Warner is a mobile savvy versatile defender with the skill set to play inside and outside. He was the first of six consecutive defensive players and carries a starting grade and possibly early in his career. He was a good addition and fits in the package defenses early. DB Moore is a fast athlete who will convert to corner after a career at safety. He has fine length, speed and quickness, in addition to instincts reading plays and routes. His late workout moved him into the top 100 selections after not attending the NFL Combine. He has excellent upside on the corner with the safety experience that could earn him time in the nickel and dime packages.
With their 4th round pick, they added DL Kentavius Street, a versatile lineman with experience both outside and inside. He fell in the draft off an injury sustained at a workout. He can play the strongside or five-technique in either front, in addition to the three-technique spot in the nickel package. His spring knee injury may cost him his rookie season. On the 5th round, they added corner DJ Reed, a talented emerging cover man. He has marginal measureables, though the quickness and ball skills to win in matchups. He will have to prove ready to earn early playing time, but has the upside clubs seek in a quality man cover slot corner. On the 6th round, they added safety Marcell Harris, a hard-nosed defender who returns from an Achilles injury that cost him the 2017 season. He is a hitter who attacks the line of scrimmage and finishes with strong sure tackling. He will have to prove healthy in 2018, but has the makeup to be a factor in coverage units. With their two 7th round picks, they added DT Jullian Taylor and WR Richie James. DT Taylor had only marginal college production, mainly due to injuries. He did impress over the workout phase of the process which earned him a draft grade. He has length and mobility and may earn time in the package defenses as a situational rusher. He needs time to settle into a system and position. WR James is a quick sure handed slot receiver who was schooled in a pro-style offense. He gives them a potential starting slot receiver, though must prove he can get off the line vs the press and holdup physically. Good late selection. Grade: C+
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The 49ers made wholesale changes on their offensive line in hopes of protecting young QB Jimmy Garoppolo. They signed a few key FA for their line with center Wes Richburg and guard Jon Cooper added along with vet Laken Tomlinson who was traded for last season. They join vet LT Joe Staley and top pick RT Mike McGlinchey to form a new front. They signed scatback Jerick McKinnon who replaces departed Carlos Hyde to give the 49ers a more versatile weapon. McKinnon is an excellent outlet receiver to open up their attack. They traded RT Trent Brown after selecting McGlinchey and watched a few second-tier defenders, DE Tank Carradine, CB Dontae Johnson, DE Aaron Lynch and safety Eric Reid leave in free agency. They look to their young unproven roster to step up and hope they provide improvement this season. They added a mediocre class of rookie UDFAs including Jeff Wilson, RB, North Texas, Steven Dunbar, WR, Houston, Ross Dwelley, TE, San Diego, Coleman Shelton, OL, Washington, Jamar McGloster, OT, Syracuse, Alan Knott, C, South Carolina, Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida St, Emmanuel Moseley, CB, Tennessee and safeties Corey Griffin, Georgia Tech and Terrell Williams, Houston. RB Wilson and WR Dunbar were good signings and they could surprise and make this roster. OL Shelton and OT McGloster will get a long look in camp. CB McFadden was an excellent addition and fits this defense. He has talent to surprise here and possibly surprises and makes this roster and probably warrants a look in the package defenses.
Training Camp Objectives: The 49ers’ look to continue their late season run with young QB Garoppolo. They expect a much-improved offensive line and more speed with back McKinnon and rookie wideout Pettis providing impact. They look young guard Joshua Garrett to step up after a tough early baptism. The ground attack needs young runner Matt Breida or Jeremy McNichols to provide a reliable short yardage runner behind tough FB Kyle Juszcyk. Veteran wideouts Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon have to step in and help the Garoppolo. The SF young defense has talent but still ranks among the worst in the game. They added veteran corner Richard Sherman in hopes he provides leadership and big play ability. They have not received the impact from their front line where they have a huge investment in defenders, Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner. Armstead faces a telltale season after mediocre performances. Buckner is at Pro Bowl levels while Thomas needs to settle into this front and make plays. Troubled LB Reuben Foster faces a critical season related to his NFL career. The young secondary makes few big plays and surrendered many big plays that must change to compete for a playoff spot. The 49ers face a tough schedule in an improving division. Their offense is capable of carrying this club while the defense makes improvement to become respectable and competitive. Kyle Shanahan looks to keep the offensive momentum going to position this team into playoff contention.
Seattle Seahawks – 9-7 – Head Coach Pete Carroll – 9th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 27 Rashaad Penny RB San Diego St
3 79 Rasheem Green DE USC
4 120 Will Dissly TE Washington
5 141 Shaquem Griffin LB UCF
5 146 Tre Flowers S Oklahoma St
5 149 Michael Dickson P Texas
5 168 Jamarco Jones OT Ohio St
6 186 Jacob Martin LB Temple
7 220 Alex McGough QB Florida International
The Seahawks had another large draft class and addressed the same issues in the early rounds at running back and defensive line. With their 1st round pick, they selected tailback Rashaad Penny, a big fast well-rounded runner. He was a surprise this early despite rushing for over 2000 yards in 2018. He has breakaway speed and is one of the premier kickoff returners in the nation. He needs development in the passing game, though he showed reliable hands over his career. They traded their #2 pick to the Jets last year for DT Sheldon Richardson. He left in FA this offseason. In the 3rd round, they drafted DL Rasheem Green, a versatile tweener lineman who projects inside in the three technique and outside at the strongside roles. He is a blue-chip athlete with big time talent, though not fully developed. He has some natural pass rushing skills that can be refined. He fits a situational pass rushing role in their package fronts where he can be effective inside or from the strongside. He eventually projects as a three down defender and has a huge upside in this defense. In the 4th round, they added Will Dissly, a physical inline blocker with marginal receiving skills. He is an aggressive blocker with good technique and a strong push at the line. He will benefit their renewed ground attack and can be a vital addition this season. His receiving is a work in progress. He figures to push for starting time or a key rotational defender.
With four 5th round selections, they choose LB Shaquem Griffin, safety Tre Flowers, punter Michael Dickson and OT Jamarco Jones. LB Griffin was a rising prospect off prototypical skills for the Will backer role. He figures to challenge for time in the nickel and dime packages, in addition to special teams’ coverage unit. He had a great NFL Combine workout. He unites with brother corner Shaquill who was selected in the 3rd round last April and started 10 games as a rookie. Safety Flowers had an impressive postseason and has the skills to eventually start after work on his coverage. He should be a premier special teams’ defender and possible a gunner. His play will be even more important with the retirement of Kam Chancellor. Punter Dickson has a strong leg and fine hang time to be a weapon for this defense. He can provide a definite field advantage to the Seahawks. OT Jones is a young mobile athlete with good lateral skills to develop further. He lacks left tackle athleticism and right tackle power and must win time inside at guard to settle into a position. He probably needs time on the PS to refine his skill set. With their 6th round pick, they chose tweener Jacob Martin, quick edge rusher who needs to get stronger to earn time in package defenses. He will have to impress on coverage units and he is capable of winning a role, in addition to settling into the dime package and pressing for time with some development. He needs work, but can make this club as a backup with only marginal overall depth. With their 7th round pick, they chose QB Alex McGough, a mobile accurate passer who is coming off a late shoulder injury. Good long-term prospect. He needs work on his setup and defense recognition and could settle on the PS for a season to refine his talent. Grade: C
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Seahawks had some salary cap problems that limited their ability to sign players. They signed guard DK Fluker who was a marginal starter with the Giants. Most of their additions were average additions who may not be more than backups. They released corner Richard Sherman, traded Michael Bennett to the Eagles and released Cliff Avril. They lost DT Sheldon Richardson in free agency along with TE Jimmy Graham, WR Paul Richardson and guard Luke Joeckel. Safety Kam Chancellor retired after minicamp and leaves a huge hole in the secondary. They signed a very average group of rookie UDFAs in Khalid Hill, FB, Michigan and Marcus Martin, FB, Slippery Rock, Caleb Scott, WR, Vanderbilt, Skyler Phillips, OG, Idaho St, Poona Ford, DT, Texas and Eddy Wilson, DT, Purdue, Marcell Frazier, DE, Missouri, Jake Pugh, LB, Florida St and Emmanuel Beal, LB, Oklahoma and Tanner Carew, LS, Oregon. FB Hill was a fine addition and a kid with versatility to help also at TE. Guard Phillips can make this squad and push the starters for time. DT Ford will push for time as the #3 tackle for rotation and was a good addition. LB Pugh has definite upside to develop and will get a long look in camp and can make this roster. FB Martin has the makeup of a quality special teams performer.
Training Camp Objectives: The Seahawks missed the playoffs in 2017 and have undergone a huge turnover this offseason. They may have regressed more than any team in the league with other NFC West clubs all improving significantly this offseason. They did go 4-2 in the division but 5-5 vs other opponents. QB Russell Wilson had a very good season with improvement in passing and points. They need new backs to step up and improve their poor ground game. The offensive line may hold the key to any offensive improvement after another poor performance in pass protection and run blocking. Their defense took a few big offseason losses, though still have the components of one of the better units in the game. Their front four especially sustained losses and they need young players to step up to retain previous levels. Their highly regarded secondary released Pro Bowl corner Richard Sherman while safety Kam Chancellor announced his retirement entering training camp. The Seahawks face a soft early schedule, but with NFC West clubs improved they face an uphill battle. They rely on QB Russell to carry this offense though he needs improvement from a weak ground game. The line has many questions entering the season and may hold the key to competing for a playoff spot. The defense still has the experience and leadership to play at playoff levels but shows little depth throughout entering training camp.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 5-11 – Head Coach Dirk Koetter – 3rd Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 12 Vita Vea DT Washington
2 38 Ronald Jones RB USC
2 53 M.J. Stewart CB North Carolina
2 63 Carlton Davis CB Auburn
3 94 Alex Cappa OT Humboldt St
4 117 Jordan Whitehead S Pittsburgh
5 144 Justin Watson WR Penn
6 202 Jack Cichy LB Wisconsin
The Bucs addressed both sides of the ball with 5 selections in the top 94 overall choices. They addressed their front with the addition of DT Vita Vea in the first round. He is a massive athlete with a rare combination of power and agility. He carries an early NFL starting grade and a physical inside force to free up Pro Bowl tackle Gerald McCoy. His addition along with the trade for vet end JPP should improve their poor pass rush significantly. He was good value at the 12th overall pick.
With their three 2nd round selections, they choose runner Ronald Jones and corners M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis. The Bucs expect runner Jones to win the feature back role in camp. He is a playmaker with good speed and average size. He displays soft hands to develop further as a receiver to become a three down back in time. CB Stewart is a tough savvy cover man who is highly developed especially in zone coverage. He is a physical tackler and capable of winning the nickel corner role early in his career. CB Davis is a big physical corner with the length and agility to play press and zone coverage. He was good value here, but needs some time to refine his coverage skills and reads to be ready for starting duty. He can pay off big dividends after a learning period and become a fixture. Competes for time in nickel and dime packages.
In the 3rd round, they chose OT Alex Cappa, a long physical blocker from the small college ranks. He was not on our final top 100 value board, but was a fast-rising prospect. He projects inside to guard and could press for starting time year two with development. He was good value here. In the 4th round, they chose safety Jordan Whitehead, a strong hitter with good range to go sideline to sideline. He is hard-nosed athlete with raw cover skills and the package to be a free safety in time. He was a slight reach at the 117th overall pick and will have to improve in coverage to win a starting role to justify that selection. With their 5th round pick, they selected wideout Justin Watson, who came on strong over his final season. He shows sure hands and good body control and the route discipline to provide a fine target. He was a solid addition with the development to help immediately in three wideout sets as a slot receiver. In the 6th round, they drafted LB Jack Cichy, a physical productive backer who sustained a few injuries over his late career. He can play both the Mike and Sam spots and is expected to press for a roster spot if fully healthy. He was very productive at a high level and may be a quality defender for package defenses, in addition to coverage units. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Bucs ungraded their front four with free agents, DE Vinny Curry and DT Beau Allen, in addition to the trade for JPP. They need a major turnaround in pass pressure and added the talented to take a huge step. They parted ways with veterans, runner Doug Martin, DTs Clinton McDonald and Chris Baker, DE Robert Ayers and corner Robert McClain. They added a quality group of rookie FA and signed Donnie Ernsberger, FB/TE, Western Michigan, Erv Philips, WR, Syracuse, Tanner Hudson, TE, Southern Arkansas, Antonio Simmons, DE, Georgia Tech, Godwin Igwebuike, S, Northwestern and Josh Liddell, S, Arkansas. They like FB/TE Ernsberger, DE Simmons and safety Igwebuike very much and feel they can win roster spots or land a PS position.
Training Camp Objectives: The Bucs’ finished last in the tough NFC South and will have to open the season without erratic young QB Jameis Winston who was suspended for the first month for off the field issues. Winston is at the turning point of his career with a poor 18-27 career record. He still makes too many mistakes and he has been ineffective in the deep game to utilize their overall talent. The weak ground game limited the attack immensely and they look for rookie back Jones to provide impact. Receiver Mike Evans has become a talented performer but limited big play ability. Young TE OJ Howard hopes to join starter Cameron Brate to form a potentially dangerous tandem. The young defense relies on additions of DE JPP and top pick Vita Vea to make an impact along with third year DE Noah Spence coming off an injury riddled 2017 season. DT Gerald McCoy commands special attention while veteran backers, Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David are two of the best younger defenders in the league. Their young secondary needs to improve quickly after being toasted weekly in 2017. They drafted three rookies and look for strong competition. Corner Vernon Hargreaves has been disappointing in his first two seasons. Bucs have to regroup in the tough NFC South where they went 1-5 last season. Though they have improved, their division foes have also stepped up. With starting QB Winston out the first month, the Bucs could enter October in deep problems and a tough schedule looming. They need the ground game to improve and the defense to pressure the QB more to protect with average changing secondary.
Washington Redskins – 7-9 – Head Coach Jay Gruden – 5th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 13 Da’Ron Payne DT Alabama
2 59 Derrius Guice RB LSU
3 74 Geron Christian OT Louisville
4 109 Troy Apke S Penn St
5 163 Tim Settle DT Virginia Tech
6 197 Shaun Dion Hamilton LB Alabama
7 241 Greg Stroman CB Virginia Tech
7 256 Trey Quinn WR SMU
The Skins addressed their two huge need areas of rushing the ball and stopping the ground game. In the first round, they chose DT Da’Ron Payne, a versatile interior player who is very physical. He can lineup inside and outside and is scheme diverse. He was highly productive at Alabama and a difference maker over his final two seasons. He is expected to win a starting job and become a cornerstone defender here next to former teammate and the Redskin’s top pick last year Jonathan Allen. This duo can give this front line a huge boost especially in rushing defense. With their 2nd round pick, they choose RB Derrius Guice, a tough well rounded back with nice production in the SEC. He actually outperformed Leonard Fournette in 2016 when an injury limited the blue chip back. Guice gives the Redskins a much-needed feature back with an early starting grade. Fine combination of speed, power and cutting skills to be a rookie starter. In the 3rd round, they added OT Geron Christian, a big mobile athlete with the skill set to start on the outside. He moves well to get into an opponent inline or on the 2nd level. He slides well in protection and has all the components to start with strength development and further technique work.
With their 4th round pick, they choose Troy Apke, a raw athlete who came on strong over the 2017 season and postseason. He is a fast smart defender who needs work in coverage and finish his tackles. He has the makeup of a starter with development. With more consistency, he can be a top special teams defender and possibly a gunner. He was over drafted on his big final season. In the 5th round, they selected DT Tim Settle, a huge physical prospect with limited experience. He has a fine skill set and was ranked in our top 100 ratings making him an outstanding addition here. He has the power to bull rush and pressure the pocket and can press for time in the package defenses. He has a starting grade in time and was an excellent addition here. In the 6th round, they added Shaun Dion Hamilton, another Bama defender drafted by the Skins over the past few years. He has been very injury prone during his late career that forced him down the charts. He is a physical backer with big game experience and should start here fairly early as a nickel backer role. He was very good value here if right medically. With two 7th round picks, they choose CB Greg Stroman and wideout Trey Quinn. Stroman is a tough cover man and carries a starting nickel corner grade after a strong finish vs top ACC competition. He will have to settle into the system and prove he can handle slot receivers. He has return skills which may earn him a roster spot. WR Quinn is a quick slot receiver with fine production in a spread offense. He is “Mr. Irrelevant” this year and can win a roster spot. He has fine hands and routes crisp routes to be effective in multiple sets on a unit that lacks depth beyond the starting three players. Grade: C+
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Skins were aggressive in the trade market after they were unable to resign QB Kirk Cousins. They traded for veteran QB Alex Smith for a #3 pick and corner Kendall Fuller. Smith is an upgrade over Cousins and can provide more big plays in this offense. They also signed FA wideout Paul Richardson who gives them a deep threat on the outside. They lost veterans WR Terrelle Pryor, OL Spencer Long, CB Bashaud Breeland, TE Niles Paul and LB Trent Murphy. They did resign veteran defenders LBers Zach Brown and Mason Foster, in addition to adding CB Orlando Scandrick. Other FA losses were veterans like DT Terrell McClain and Arthur Jones. The Skins signed a good rookie UDFA class, including Martez Carter, RB, Grambling St, Elijah Wellman, FB, West Virginia, wideouts Simmie Cobbs, Indiana and Cam Sims, Alabama, Timon Parris, OT, Stony Brook, corners Ranthony Texada, TCU and Danny Johnson, Southern and Quin Blanding, S, Virginia. Cobbs has NFL talent to make this roster that has marginal depth. OT Parris is a big mobile tackle with definite upside with development of his natural skills.
Training Camp Objectives: The Skins have slipped in recent seasons which lead to major changes in leadership with the addition of QB Smith. He will benefit from rookie back Guice who gets a chance this preseason to win the feature back role. Veteran Samaje Perine is a physical pounder who is a good 1A type especially for short yardage. QB Smith hopes to form a strong duo with new vet Paul Richardson to open up this attack. He hopes to utilize the best TE tandem of Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis to the fullest. He needs former top pick wideout Josh Doctson to continue to step up and press for the #1 role. Their battered defense will benefit from a healthy DL Allen and LB Foster and new addition DT Payne. The defense gave up huge yardage, both on the ground and through the air. They will have an improved front line and a few other new vets. LB Zach Brown gives them a fast inside defender while their secondary will look for vet safety Swearinger to provide leadership and stability. Young corner Fabian Moreau needs to step in and press for a starting job or a nickel role. They face a tough schedule and have major questions related to the ground game. They also need their young defense to improve significantly to compete for a playoff spot.
Baltimore Ravens – 8-8 – Head Coach John Harbaugh – 10th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 25 Hayden Hurst TE South Carolina
1 32 Lamar Jackson QB Louisville
3 83 Orlando Brown OT Oklahoma
3 86 Mark Andrews TE Oklahoma
4 118 Anthony Averett CB Alabama
4 122 Kenny Young LB UCLA
4 132 Jaleel Scott WR New Mexico St
5 162 Jordan Lasley WR UCLA
6 190 DeShon Elliott S Texas
6 212 Greg Senat OT Wagner
6 215 Bradley Bozeman C Alabama
7 238 Zach Sieler DE Ferris St
The Ravens had a strong large draft class with their top four picks from offense of 12 overall selections. GM Ozzie Newsome completed his last draft as GM with assistant Eric DeCosta taking over going forward. Ozzie won two Super Bowls in Baltimore. He stayed with their value board well and it reflects in another strong overall class. They want to address the skill positions and the secondary were excited select TE Hayden Hurst last in the first round. Hurst was a rising player off his speed and playmaking ability. He gives the Ravens their best TE since Dennis Pita. He can be a difference maker in this passing game. They traded back into the first round to select QB Lamar Jackson, a fine athlete with rare running skills and the arm to give an NFL offense a unique weapon from the pocket. He needs time and may fit a situational role in certain sets to give them a different dimension.
With two 3rd round picks, they chose OT Orlando Brown and TE Mark Andrews, two Oklahoma athletes with high grades. Brown is the son of former Raven Orlando ‘Zeus’ Brown. He fell in the draft off a poor NFL Combine workout. Ravens feel he is an early starting right tackle with development. Andrews is a talented receiver with a fine level of development to come in and help in multiple sets. He has the frame and athleticism to block, but needs time and technique work to play up to his talent. With three 4th round picks, they chose CB Anthony Averett, LB Kenny Young and WR Jaleel Scott. Averett is a savvy cover man with speed, instincts, size and quickness. He can play press or cover two and figures to see time in the nickel package this season. He was a solid addition. LB Young is a quick defender with the speed to go sideline to sideline. He has only average size and can take poor angles to the ball at times that runs him out of plays. WR Scott is a big receiver who plays physical and displays fine hands and body control. He must prove capable of getting open with only average speed.
With their 5th round pick, they chose WR Jordan Lasley, a quick athlete with periods of inconsistency in his play. He has average size and a series of off the field issues that hurt his grade. With three 6th round picks, they chose safety DeShon Elliott, OL Greg Senat and Bradley Bozeman. Safety Elliott is an athlete who moves well and closes ground nicely. He makes plays on the ball and fits the free safety role. He needs more consistency as a tackler to win playing time. OT Senat is a long agile blocker with fine footwork and length to warrant a long look. If he fails to make the roster he fits the PS well where he can refine his technique and improve his functional strength. OL Boseman is a powerful inline blocker who addresses a clear need. He needs work in pass protection and making contact on the second level. DE Zach Sieler is a quick tweener edge rusher with playmaking ability. He has the burst to shoot a gap and disrupt plays. He should be an excellent addition to their front and could see time in situational sets where his length and quickness can be very effective. He was nice value here and a defender who fits this scheme well and can develop into a fine rotational lineman. Grade: B+
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Ravens were aggressive and signed a few key receiver in Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead IV. They fill different roles and offset the losses of Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Michael Campanaro. The addition of QB RG3 gives them a veteran backup to Joe Flacco. They lost starting OT Austin Howard, center Ryan Jensen, TEs Ben Watson and Crockett Gillmore, RB Terrance West and Lardarius Webb. Vet RB Danny Woodhead retired after a fine career. They signed UDFAs, Janarion Grant, WR, Rutgers, Andre Levrone, WR, Virginia, Jaelon Acklin, WR, Western Illinois, Gus Edwards, RB, Rutgers, Mark Thompson, RB, Florida, De’Lance Turner, RB, Alcorn St, Nick Keizer, TE, Grand Valley St, Alex Thompson, C, Monmouth, Justin Evans, G, South Carolina St, Randin Crecelius, OL, Portland St, Myles Humphrey, DE, Shepherd, Alvin Jones, LB, UTEP, Christian LaCouture, DT, LSU, Darious Williams, DB, Alabama Birmingham, Trent Sieg, LS, Colorado St and Kaare Vedvik, P, Marshall. Grant was a fine addition and good fit for this receiving corps. He is a playmaker when healthy and is a sleeper who the return specialist role with a strong preseason. RB Edwards is a hidden gem and can become a factor as a situational short yardage performer. He has an NFL body and can move the chains effectively.
Training Camp Objectives: The Ravens missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Their passing game came up short consistently with vet QB Joe Flacco having a very average season. They lost five games by eight points or less. He failed to win many close contests with an average ground game part of the problem. They look to strong competition at receiver after another subpar performance by the unit. Former top pick wideout Breshad Perriman and TE Max Williams face key camps to live up to their high billing with only minimal production their first three seasons. Their weak ground game places pressure on Flacco to produce weekly and they need young backs Javorius Allen and Alex Collins to step up. The defense performed well and ranked among the playoff clubs. Veteran LB C.J. Mosley has been a key leader of this young unit that ranks within the top ten in every vital statistic. Terrell Suggs is back and may look to retire after another playoff run. The secondary looks to former top picks CB Humphrey and Jimmy Smith to form one of the better cover tandems. The key questions remain on the offense at the skill positions where the lack of a true #1 receiver hurts. Rookie top pick TE Hayden Hurst is counted on to open this passing game. The tough defense is maturing, but they must find a way to stop the run better. Veteran Joe Flacco must perform better for this club to return to the playoffs and be more than a .500 team.
Buffalo Bills – 9-8 – Head Coach Sean McDermott – 2nd Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 7 Josh Allen QB Wyoming
1 16 Tremaine Edmunds LB Virginia Tech
3 96 Harrison Phillips DT Stanford
4 121 Taron Johnson CB Weber St
5 154 Siran Neal CB Jacksonville St
5 166 Wyatt Teller G Virginia Tech
6 187 Ray-Ray McCloud WR Clemson
7 255 Austin Proehl WR North Carolina
The Bills held many top 100 selections including two #1 picks and wanted to land both their QB for the future and a dominant defensive player. After moving from the #21 to the #12 position for OT Cordy Glenn in the first round, they let the draft fall in the top 10 before they went from #12 to #7 to land QB Josh Allen. He gives them a strong-armed passer for their climate and a big tough athlete this club sought. He will compete for the starting job in camp with AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman and is expected to see time at some time this season. He will be the face of the franchise very soon. They moved up again in the first round to select LB Tremaine Edmunds, a blue chip tweener who fits both schemes. He was a borderline top 10 prospect and another value pick in the early part of the round. Edmunds has a huge upside and will benefit working with HC McDermott. He gives this front seven a potential impact defender
On the 3rd round, they chose DL Harrison Phillips, a versatile relentless defender who is like a Kyle Williams clone. He comes off the ball quickly and plays to the whistle to win late on the down often. He can play in either front and inside in the sub packages to give this staff many options on player rotation. On the 4th round, they chose CB Taron Johnson, a long agile defender who the lower ranks. He is a big cover man with big play ability to matchup well vs NFL receivers. He needs time and is a slight long-term project but has a starting grade off his skill set. With two 5th round picks, they chose DB Siran Neal and guard Wyatt Teller. DB Neal is a versatile tough defender with experience at both safety and corner. He graded out high at both positions and is a good fit for the nickel and dime packages early in his career. He has the makeup to be a solid special teams’ defender. Teller is a tough technician with NFL talent. He performed well vs ACC defenders and shows the savvy to handle the big stage. He can surprise here and earn time off a strong preseason. He was good late value.
On the 6th and 7th rounds, they chose wideouts Ray-Ray McCloud and Austin Proehl, two smaller playmakers. McCloud is a fast weapon who also returns kicks. He can find a niche here, though must learn the complete route tree and prove tough over the middle to earn time in sets. Proehl is a sure handed slot receiver who gets open and fits nicely in coverage. He can earl time in multiple sets and be a reliable weapon. He is a well-developed receiver who can step in immediately in three wideout sets. He runs fine routes and displays the fine hands to be a factor. He was a solid addition. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Bills signed a few key veterans to remain at playoff levels. They hope QB AJ McCarron is the answer at QB until Josh Allen is ready. DT Star Lotulelei is counted on to improve their weak run defense. DE Trent Murphy is a good addition and can help as a pass rusher if healthy. Corners Vontae Davis and Philip Gaines will improve their average secondary. They offset the losses of CBs EJ Gaines, Shareece Wright and Leonard Johnson. They lost key FAs, WRs Jordan Matthews and Deonte Thompson, LB Preston Brown and OT Seantrel Henderson. They lost two OL Richie Incognito and Eric Woods to retirement after trading OT Cordy Glenn. They also traded QB Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland. They added a big rookie UDFAs class including Keith Ford, RB, Texas A&M, Robert Foster, WR, Alabama, Cam Phillips, WR, Virginia Tech, Ike Boettger, OL, Iowa, Gerhard De Beer, G, Arizona, Mo Porter, OT, Baylor, Mat Boesen, DE, TCU, Mike Love, DE, USF, Corey Thompson, LB, LSU, Levi Wallace, CB, Alabama, Ryan Carter, CB, Clemson and Tyler Davis, K, Penn St. WR Foster can make this roster with a good camp and could become a core special teams’ performer. OL Boettger is an interesting kid who needs some time, but could develop inside at guard over time and surprise. CB Wallace is a savvy cover man who benefitted from the Bama program and will be tough to keep off the package defense units. He needs to get stronger to hold up in coverage.
Training Camp Objectives: The Bills ended a 17 year playoff drought in HC Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane’s first season. They had another big turnover this offseason starting with QB Taylor and most of the offensive line. Most of their top picks until CB Tre’Davious White were a mistake and this roster continues to be rebuilt. Their ground game relies on playmaker LeSean McCoy whose productive may fall with a new unproven line this season.e The defense faces a critical period after another subpar performance. Young defender DE Lawson needs to build on a respectable season. New FA Murphy is counted on to provide pressure off the edge. Top pick Tremaine Edmunds is also counted on for big plays on a unit ranked near the bottom on sacks. Veteran secondary will benefit from improved pass pressure. Corner White is at Pro Bowl levels along with safety Micah Hyde. The Bills are still in the process of developing a good young core roster, but face key questions along the offensive line and defensive front seven. They face a very tough first half schedule and could take a step back especially with a new QB and line. HC McDermott must get this defense to stuff the ground game. They will be hard pressed to get to return to the playoffs.
Cincinnati Bengals – 7-9- Head Coach Marvin Lewis – 16th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 21 Billy Price C Ohio St
2 54 Jessie Bates III S Wake Forest
3 77 Sam Hubbard DE Ohio St
3 78 Malik Jefferson LB Texas
4 112 Mark Walton RB Miami (FL)
5 151 Davontae Harris CB Illinois St
5 158 Andrew Brown DE Virginia
5 170 Darius Phillips CB Western Michigan
7 249 Logan Woodside QB Toledo
7 252 Rod Taylor G Ole Miss
7 253 Auden Tate WR Florida St
The Bengals added to one of the stronger rosters in the league. They added 11 draft selections and drafted players with high grades at key need areas. On the 1st round, they traded back in the round getting vet OT Cordy Glenn. They chose center Billy Price, a sound technician with a rookie starting grade. He addresses a problem area here and has the makeup to be a leader on a unit that can be among the best in the AFC. On the 2nd round, they selected safety Jessie Bates, a talented defender with the skill set to be a fine starter. He has excellent range and developing ball skills to be an early starting free safety and three down starter. He was a rising prospect who can line up the secondary and cover the deep zones.
With two 3rd round picks, they chose DE Sam Hubbard and LB Malik Jefferson. Hubbard is a versatile edge defender who can rush the passer and stuff the run. He made fast late career progress that improved his rating followed by a good postseason. It was surprising he lasted until the 77th overall selection. He should see time in situational defenses and has big play ability. His versatility gives the Bengals a key backup to fill a few positions plus roles in the end rotation. He was outstanding value here. LB Jefferson is a mobile athlete who shows keen instincts and the ability to finish with sure tackling. He has the development to win a starting job with a good training camp. He fits in a few roles with the versatility to play inside or outside, in addition to special teams. On the 4th round, they selected RB Mark Walton, a tough compact runner with some tackle breaking ability and good speed. He needs to be more patient and allow blockers to set up, but can win a backup role here. With three 5th round picks, they chose Davontae Harris, DE Andrew Brown and CB Darrius Phillips. CB Harris is a long athlete with experience also at safety. He can compete for time in package defenses with a good training camp. DL Brown is an enigma and never lived up to the high expectations entering Virginia. He gets a great opportunity here with four linemen over 30 years old this year. He can play inside in packages in a three technique where he flashed some big play ability. CB Phillips is a quick cover man with excellent return skills. He can win a nickel corner spot in time, in addition to the return skills. His skill set warrants a long look in those roles.
With three 7th round picks, they chose QB Logan Woodside, OL Rod Taylor and WR Auden Tate. QB Woodside has experience and intangibles to utilize his talent. He can win a PS or #3 role with a good preseason. OL Taylor graded out well in the SEC at tackle, but is best suited inside to guard where there is a number of young prospects competing. WR Tate is a massive athlete who ran poorly at the NFL Combine and fell in the process. He hopes to win a backup role and has the skill set to be a possession receiver. He was an excellent late gamble. Grade: A
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Bengals made few changes in FA and added LB Preston Brown and DT Chris Baker. LB Brown gives them a tough physical defender to fill the middle. They lost center Russell Bodine, CB Adam Jones, RB Jeremy Hill, QB AJ McCarron, LB Kevin Minter, OT Andre Smith and DT Pat Sims. They added rookie free agents Quinton Flowers, HB, USF, Devonte Boyd, WR, UNLV, Ray Lawry, HB, Old Dominion, Brad Lundblade, C, Oklahoma St, Austin Fleer, OT, Colorado Mesa, Jordan Franks, TE, UCF, Gaelin Elmore, DE, ECU, Chris Okoye, DT, Ferris St, Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, DE, Arkansas St, Chris Worley, LB, Ohio St, Junior Joseph, LB, UConn, Trayvon Henderson, S, Hawaii and Tyrice Beverette, S, Stony Brook. WR Boyd will press for time in multiple sets and can make this squad. DE Rolland-Jones is a quick edge rusher who will have to carve a niche in package defenses to land a roster spot, but has the talent. Safety Henderson is a tough run stuffer and developing in coverage. He has the makeup of a quality backup and solid special teams’ defender.
Training Camp Objectives: The Bengals missed the postseason for the second year in a row. They hope their young talented roster matures this season and takes the next step back to the postseason. Veteran QB Andy Dalton is a quality performer, but not a difference maker and needs help. There revamped offensive line will help their weak ground game and improve pass protection. Pro Bowl wideout AJ Green looks to former top pick John Ross to pressure the deep zone and take some of the double coverage off him. The ground game looks to Joe Mixon to provided more consistency. The defense relies on an active front four with tackle Geno Atkins and end Carlos Dunlap the key performers. The defense needs Mike backer Preston Smith to be an inside force here. The Bengals’ secondary needs young talent like corners William Jackson and Darqueze Dennard to step up and claim starting jobs. They have to improve on both sides of the ball to win in the tough AFC North. Both HC Marvin Lewis and QB Andy Dalton face a telltale season and must return to the postseason or this club may make bigger changes next offseason.
Cleveland Browns – 0-16- Head Coach Hue Jackson – 3rd Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 1 Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma
1 4 Denzel Ward CB Ohio St
2 33 Austin Corbett G Nevada
2 35 Nick Chubb RB Georgia
3 67 Chad Thomas DE Miami (FL)
4 105 Antonio Callaway WR Florida
5 150 Genard Avery LB Memphis
6 175 Damion Ratley WR Texas A&M
6 188 Simeon Thomas CB Louisiana
The Browns held the top overall selection again plus the #4 overall pick. They surprised with the selections of QB Baker Mayfield and CB Denzel Ward. They resisted all attempts to trade back after the debacle two years ago when they gave up a chance at either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz. They shocked most with the drafting of Mayfield, a gritty efficient leader coming off a Heisman Trophy performance. Mayfield was very impressive over the postseason from both an athletic and leadership evaluation. The Browns felt he was the most NFL ready, which is true but not the best QB in this talented class in our estimation. They will face heavy criticism if Mayfield is outplayed by Darnold, Rosen or Allen on their careers. His mobility is an asset here with the Browns line undergoing changes with the retirement of LT Joe Thomas. With the 4th overall selection, they also surprised most with the addition of corner Denzel Ward, a rising cover men. He has speed, quickness and instincts and follows the incredible Buckeye defensive back legacy that has stormed the NFL the past five years. Ward was rated here as a top 10 prospect, though not this early and it is surprising the Browns did not move back in the top 10 for additional selections if he was the guy they had to have. He will play day one either as a starter or slot corner and give this secondary a huge boost. He needs development on his fundamentals and get stronger, but has the skill set to become a top-flight corner.
With two 2nd round picks, they choose OL Austin Corbett and runner Nick Chubb. OL Corbett was a fast-rising lineman off a strong final performance to warrant the 33rd overall selection. He gets a first look at left tackle if the absence of Thomas and could surprise there. He has Pro Bowl guard skills and is one of the safest picks in the draft. RB Chubb is a tough compact back who was excellent tough runner who overcame a knee injury. He needs work as a receiver, but can be a huge boost here for a mediocre ground game. He was a surprise this early but an honest tough runner who finishes very well and as good as any back in this class except for Barkley. On the 3rd round, they selected DE Chad Thomas, a long athlete who flashes talent. He was very inconsistent with marginal quickness on the snap and lacking the moves to finish when his initial move is contained. He can play inside in the package defenses and should be a factor in their line rotation, though was a reach this early and will have to step up to warrant the 67th overall selection. On the 4th round, they gambled and selected wideout Antonio Calloway, a fast, talented receiver with a troubled history. The Browns have extensive experience in that area with Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel among their recent risky projects. Calloway has an afterburner and wins in the vertical game. He can be a nice compliment to Gordon if the two ever focus on football and learning the finer points of coverage and route running. He is a first round talent and easily a top 50 prospect and a good risk at #105 selection.
With their 5th round selection, they chose LB Genard Avery, a big mobile backer with good instincts, versatility and production. He is a very underrated defender who will push the starters in camp and is capable of winning a starting job early in his career. He was a quality addition. With two 6th round picks, they selected WR Damion Ratley and CB Simeon Thomas. Ratley is a good athlete with NFL talent, but raw on important fundamentals for the position and needs to sit for at least a season, though he has the physical and mental package to make the Browns. CB Thomas is a long cover man who missed extensive time with injuries and academic issues. He has talent to develop, though needs strength and technique work and would benefit from a season on the PS. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Browns were aggressive in free agency again and added a few offensive players that can be quality starters here. They traded for young vet QB Tyrod Taylor who will start in 2018. They traded QB Deshone Kizer for safety Damarious Randall who is set at safety. They signed veteran wideout Jarvis Landry, RB Carlos Hyde, corners T.J. Carrie and E.J. Gaines and OT Donald Stephenson. They lost WR Sammie Coates, RB Isiah Crowell, CB Jason McCourty and TE Randall Telfer. They also traded DT Danny Shelton to the Patriots last spring. They added a few rookies from the open market in Dontrell Hilliard, RB, Tulane, Evan Berry, WR, Tennessee, Da’Mari Scott, WR, Fresno St, Derek Willies, WR, Texas Tech, Desmond Harrison, OT, West Georgia, Fred Lauina, OL, Oregon St, Christian DiLauro, OL, Illinois, Trenton Thompson, DL, Georgia, Daniel Ekuale, DT, Washington St, Micah Hannemann, S, BYU, Montrel Meander, DB, Grambling St, Elijah Campbell, DB, Northern Iowa and Michael Carrizosa, P, San Jose St. OT Desmond Harrison and DT Trenton Thompson can make this squad. Thompson has interesting upside here.
Training Camp Objectives: The Browns completed their tenth straight losing season with a winless season. HC Hue Jackson limped through his first two season with only a week 16th victory in 2016 keeping his 1-31 record from a total wreck. Jackson faces a pressure season with veteran QB Tyrod Taylor counted on to give this offense stability. RB Carlos Hyde is an upgrade while veteran wideout Jarvis Landry couples with troubled star receiver Josh Gordon to form one of the best combos in football. The line will miss LT Thomas but has definite talent. The defense looks for further improvement under DC Gregg Robinson. He will push young players DEs Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah to apply more pressure off the edge. This unit gives too many points in crucial situations. They lost six games by six points or less and they need improved secondary play to change those outcomes. Safeties Jabrill Peppers and Damarious Randall can form a fine tandem while rookie corner Denzel Ward brings a much needed playmaker. The Browns look to veteran QB Taylor to minimize mistakes here and give this club a chance to win more close games. An improved ground game with Hyde will go a long way of helping the defense. The Browns hope to set some building blocks this season, though do not appear to be ready to challenge the .500 mark. They still might have a semi breakout season and approach the .500 mark for the first time since 2014.
Denver Broncos – 5-11 – Head Coach Vance Joseph – 2nd Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 5 Bradley Chubb DE/LB NC St
2 40 Courtland Sutton WR SMU
3 71 Royce Freeman RB Oregon
3 99 Isaac Yiadom CB Boston College
4106 Josey Jewell LB Iowa
4 113 DaeSean Hamilton WR Penn St
5 156 Troy Fumagalli TE Wisconsin
6 183 Sam Jones G Arizona St
6 217 Keishawn Bierria LB Washington
7 226 David Williams RB Arkansas
The Broncos had 10 draft picks after trades and compensatory picks and used them equally on both sides of the ball. They chose DE/LB Bradley Chubb in the first round with the 5th overall selection. They turned down any trade possibilities. Chubb is an awesome talent off the edge, both playing up and down and the perfect bookend opposite Pro Bowler Von Miller. Chubb is highly developed to start day one and give this highly ranked defense another impact performer. He has excellent feet for the position, but needs some technique work and strength improvement.
On the 2nd round, they were surprised to find wideout Courtland Sutton still on the board and quickly chose the big receiver. He fills out their three wideout set with Sanders and Thomas. He was excellent value here and gives them fine depth here. With two 3rd round picks, they drafted runner Royce Freeman and CB Isaac Yiadom. Freeman is a big back with speed and gives them a well-rounded back to give this attack a boost. He can win the feature back role here. CB Yiadom is long physical corner who rose off triangle numbers. He needs work on his technique and route recognition to be ready for starting duty. He was a reach here especially with Anthony Averett on the board at #99. With two 4th round picks, they drafted LB Josey Jewell and WR DaeSean Hamilton. LB Jewell is a savvy productive backer who is developed to help in a few roles. He has the makeup of a top special teams’ performer and a leader. In time, he has a starting grade here and can be the anchor inside of this tough unit. WR Hamilton was almost too good to be true at the 113rd selection. He is a polished possession receiver and can work from the outside or the slot. He gives them the best depth in the league.
With their 5th round pick, they drafted TE Troy Fumagalli, a lanky sure handed receiver with adequate blocking skills. He lacks speed for the deep seam, but is a proficient middle zone route runner. He needs strength work as a blocker. With two 6th round picks, they drafted OL Sam Jones and LB Keishawn Bierria. Jones moves inside to guard where he can win a roster spot or PS position with marginal depth. He has good size and footwork to develop further and compete here. LB Bierria is a mobile backer who runs to the ball and finishes. He has the agility to drop in coverage and compete for the nickel backer role early in his career. In the 7th round, they drafted runner David Williams, a physical between the tackles runner who came on strong over his late career. He was an excellent late round gamble and can win the short yardage role here. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Broncos wasted little time and signed veteran QB Case Keenum who is one of the most efficient passers in the league. OT Jared Veldheer addresses another big need on offense. He lines up at right tackle in camp. They also added veteran punter Marquette King who should thrive in Mile High climate. They traded CB Aqib Talib, QB Trevor Siemian and punter Riley Dixon. They lost veteran starters TE Virgil Green, OT Donald Stephenson and runner CJ Anderson, in addition to OL Allen Barbre, WRs Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler, QB Brock Osweiler and RB Jamaal Charles. They added a small group of rookies UDFAs in Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado, Jimmy Williams, WR, East Carolina, John Diarse, WR, TCU, Leon Johnson, OT, Temple, Austin Schlottmann, G, TCU, Jeff Holland, OLB, Auburn and Trey Marshall, DB, Florida St. RB Lindsay iss a tough compact runner who could surprise here. WR Williams is a sleeper with the talent to develop further and earn time on the PS. LB Holland is a powerful edge tweener who gets after the passer and could press for time in the package defenses.
Training Camp Objectives: The Broncos have regressed the past two seasons after their Super Bowl title with their faltering offense the key reason. They took new direction with signing QB Case Keenum, looking to give this offense more efficiency and leadership. The offense ranked near the bottle of the pack with an average ground game and marginal passing attack. They ranked near bottom in points scored and sacks allowed. OT Veldheer is counted on to provide stability while LT Garett Bolles needs to step up at the blindside. Running backs Devontae Booker and rookie Royce Freeman will benefit from an improved line and should form a well-rounded backfield. HC Vance Joseph looks the veteran defense to maintain especially with the addition of top pick LB Bradley Chubb. He couples with Pro Bowler Von Miller to form an awesome outside duo. Miller is still a major game changer who is in the prime of his career. The secondary ranks high in most key categories, though needs to improve in big plays. The Broncos will look to their ground game to step up behind an improved line. Keenum looks to take advantage of a deep talented receiving corps who were underutilized in 2017. They expect HC Joseph can get this tough veteran defense to maintain with high ranking especially with punter King a weapon. Broncos play only one playoff team, Kansas City through the first half schedule with four home games in their first six matchups. This club needs a fast start to believe in itself again especially offensively. They might be improved but could continue to struggle to return to the playoffs.
Houston Texans – 4-12 – Head Coach Bill O’Brien – 5th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
3 68 Justin Reid S Stanford
3 80 Martinas Rankin OT Mississippi St
3 98 Jordan Akins TE UCF
4 103 Keke Coutee WR Texas Tech
6 177 Duke Ejiofor DE/LB Wake Forest
6 211 Jordan Thomas TE Mississippi St
6 214 Peter Kalambayi LB Stanford
7 222 Jermaine Kelly CB San Jose St
Texans’ had no first round selection after trading up in the round last year to select QB Deshaun Watson, who had a breakout injury riddled rookie season. They never expected it to the 4th overall choice, but the addition of Watson gives this club stability at an annual problem area. They also traded their 2nd round pick in this draft to Cleveland last year to relieve them of QB Brock Osweiler’s salary cap burden. A huge price to pay for a colossal salary cap mistake.
With three 3rd round picks, they drafted safety Justin Reid, OL Martinas Rankin and TE Jordan Akins. Reid is a talented prospect who must improve in coverage to be ready for starting duty. He is a hitter with quickness to close in coverage to be a three-down starter in time. He can be a special teams’ demon this year and possible start at free safety. He was good value here. OL Rankin is a fine athlete with technique and footwork and will be looked at inside at guard and possible center. He carries a starting grade, but must settle into a position. TE Akins is an overage pass catcher with the talent to be a factor in the deep seam. He could claim the starting job with a good training camp at a position that has had marginal production in recent seasons.
in the 4th round, they drafted WR Keke Coutee, a polished slot receiver who addresses a pressing need here. He was good value here and can also help in the return game. With three 6th round picks, they drafted DE Duke Ejiofor, TE Jordan Thomas and LB Peter Kalambayi. LB Ejiofor is a tweener with the burst off the edge to fill a situational pass rushing role. He fell off marginal production vs top talent and some positional concerns. TE Thomas is a huge raw prospect with some natural talent, though he needs time to refine his game, both route running and inline blocking. LB Kalambayi is an instinctive defender who has good speed and technique. He is a sleeper at this position and capable of playing in the nickel package and special teams. He has a definite make it grade and was a good addition. With their 7th round pick, they chose CB Jermaine Kelly, a long cover man with good matchup skills. Though still raw in some respects, he gives them a large corner for the package defenses and certain matchups. He needs a good preseason to make this roster and possible earn early playing time. Grade: C+
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Texans addressed their battered secondary in the open market with the addition of corner Aaron Colvin and safety Tyrann Mathieu. They surrendered the most points in the league with the absence of DE JJ Watt and LB Whitney Mercilus. They added OL Henderson and Kelemete to improved their protection of Watson. They parted ways with vet LB Brian Cushing, OL Chris Clark, Xavier Su’a-Filo and Breno Giacomini, QB Tom Savage and safety Marcus Gilchrist. TE CJ Fiedorowiz retired due to concussions. The rookie FA class added Lavon Coleman, RB, Washington, Terry Swanson, RB, Toledo, Vyncint Smith, WR, Limestone, Jester Weah, WR, Pitt, Anthony Coyle, G, Fordham, Jaryd Jones-Smith, OT, Pitt, Kendall Calhoun, OT, Cincinnati, Mason Gentry, DE, SMU, Kingsley Opara, NT, Maryland, Davin Bellamy, LB, Georgia, Nick Thurman, DE, Houston, Andre Chachere, CB, San Jose St and Trevor Daniel, P, Tennessee. RB Coleman was an excellent addition and could be a big surprise in camp. WR Smith is a raw prospect who would benefit from a year on the PS. LB Bellamy was a solid addition and he can make this squad where they need depth. He gives them a versatile savvy kid who can play on package defenses. OT Coyle and Jones-Smith are good developmental types for the PS and some upside.
Training Camp Objectives: The Texans collapsed in 2017 after winning back to back AFC South titles the prior two seasons. The losses of DE JJ Watt and LB Whitney Mercilus on defense and rookie QB Deshaun Watson were too much to overcome. All are on schedule to return to starting duty. Watson was hot over the first half schedule that had them among the leaders in points scored. The Texans won only one game after he went down at midseason as the offense struggled mightily. The offensive line may hold the key to any turn around with at least two new starters. The lack of firepower has been a continuous issue in recent seasons. Their ground game is only average with Lamar Miller averaging just 3.7 yards per carry. Veteran wideout DeAndre Hopkins is still one of the premier weapons in the game. Young receiver Will Fuller and Miller needs to step up this season. They will rely once again their highly regarded tough defense with the return of dominant Pro Bowler JJ Watt and LB Whitney Mercilus. The new secondary may provide three new starters in time for a unit that allowed too many big plays last season. Young Jadeveon Clowney is a dominant edge defender who continues to improve. He and Watt can form the most dominant outside pair in the game. Veteran corners Jackson and Joseph will get help from new vet Colvin. They need rookie #3 pick, safety Justin Reid to couple with vet Mathieu to get them a savvy tandem in the deep patrol to minimize big plays. The Texans looked to their young offensive talent to improve behind Watson. They can return to the playoffs and possibly win the AFC South mainly on the continued development of Watson and the healthy return of the dominant defense.
Indianapolis Colts – 8-8 – Head Coach Chuck Pagano – 6th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 6 Quenton Nelson G Notre Dame
2 36 Darius Leonard LB South Carolina St
2 37 Braden Smith G Auburn
2 52 Kemoko Turay DE Rutgers
2 64 Tyquan Lewis DE Ohio St
4 104 Nyheim Hines RB NC St
5 159 Daurice Fountain WR Northern Iowa
5 169 Jordan Wilkins RB Ole Miss
6 185 Deon Cain WR Clemson
7 221 Matthew Adams LB Houston
7 235 Zaire Franklin LB Syracuse
The Colts held 11 picks after trades by GM Chris Ballard. They moved out of the 3rd overall selection with a trade with the Jets for their #6 in the first round for two #2 picks this year and one #2 pick next year. It gave Ballard leverage in the top 100 to boost this depleted roster with new talent. With the 6th overall pick, they took guard Quenton Nelson, a day one plug and play lineman. He is highly developed and the highest rated guard in the past twenty years. He can be a dominant blocker and a catalyst to the return of Andrew Luck to the NFL. He can set the pace for this unit which struggled in every phase of play in 2017. With four 2nd round picks, they drafted LB Darius Leonard, OL Braden Smith, DE Kemoko Turay and DE Tyquan Lewis. LB Leonard had a great small college career and a big week at the Senior Bowl to elevate his stock. He combines fine instincts with quickness and tackling ability to play immediately as a nickel if he does not win the Will backer role. OL Smith was part of a run on linemen in the early 2nd round. He carries a starting grade at guard and RT and is highly developed to win a starting job in camp. DE Turay has an impressive burst off the edge and probably will be a key situational pass rusher in their nickel package. He has big play ability, but must prove healthy, get stronger and develop secondary moves to succeed in the NFL. DE Lewis is a tough relentless defender who figures in their line rotation, including inside in the sub packages as a pass rusher.
In the 4th round, they choose RB/RS Nyheim Hines, a quick scatback with the burst to get to the second level regularly and the soft hands to become a dangerous 3rd down back. He is a playmaker who can also drop in the slot position and spread an offense out nicely. He gives them much needed speed out of the backfield to open up the outside. He was an excellent addition and a weapon that Luck will go to often with the expected single coverage. With two 5th round picks, they added WR Daurice Fountain and RB Jordan Wilkins. WR Fountain had a big East-West Shrine week that improved his stock. He will compete for time in multiple sets, but must show he can catch the ball consistently. RB Wilkins is a big power back who was productive in the tough SEC vs top defenses. He can make this squad with a good camp.
In the 6th round, they drafted wideout Deon Cain, a speedy athlete who needs to run the full route tree to get into multiple sets. He has the burst to separate deep and could be a huge steal here with route and defense recognition work. With two 7th round picks, they drafted LBers Matthew Adams and Zaire Franklin. Both will earn their stripes on coverage units while they settle into this defense. Adams is line at Mike initially where they have little depth. LB Franklin is a savvy smaller backer who slips blocks well and has the speed to make plays at the sidelines. He can struggle taking on blockers inside and needs to be covered up to be effective. He was a good addition and can play in the package defense in time. He should excel on coverage units initially. Grade: A
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Colts signed OT Austin Howard for the right side and another piece to their revamped line. They added TE Eric Ebron, a disappointment in Detroit. They allowed another large contingent of veterans to leave in FA, RB Frank Gore, wideout Donte Moncrief, DE Henry Anderson, LB Jon Bostic, DT Jon Hankins and TE Brandon Williams. They added a large rookie UDFA class in Steve Ishmael, WR, Syracuse, Tomasi Laulile, DT, BYU, William Ossai, LB, San Jose St, Skai Moore, LB, South Carolina, Chris Cooper, S, Stony Brook, George Odum, S, Central Arkansas, Lashard Durr, CB, Mississippi St, Robert Jackson, CB, UNLV, Henre’ Toliver, CB, Arkansas and Michael Badgley, K, Miami. WR Ishmael has talent to warrant a long look here. LB Moore is a good fit here with the potential to surprise and refine his skill set to become a quality situational defender.
Training Camp Objectives: The Colts look to improve significantly with the return on star QB Andrew Luck. He is still one of the premier passers in the game and the Colts finally addressed the continuous offensive line problems with two high picks in Nelson and Smith. The offense ranked near the bottom of the league in every category without Luck in 2017. The Colts ground game must improve without vet starter Frank Gore who left in FA. Young Marlon Mack gets the starting call, but look to rookie Nyheim Hines to be a big factor in this attack. The receiving corps has many questions after TJ Hilton. The lack of pass pressure from their front puts their secondary at risk. The secondary looks to second year starters, safety Hooker and corner Wilson to solidify a shattered unit. The Colts need a healthy Andrew Luck and improved ground game to take this mediocre changing roster back to respectability. They have to get back to another .500 season before they take the next step back to the playoffs.
Jacksonville Jaguars – 13-8 – Head Coach Doug Marrone – 2nd Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 29 Taven Bryan DT Florida
2 61 DJ Chark WR LSU
3 93 Ronnie Harrison S Alabama
4 129 Will Richardson OT NC St
6 203 Tanner Lee QB Nebraska
7 230 Leon Jacobs OLB Wisconsin
7 247 Logan Cooke P Mississippi St
The Jaguars had a major turnaround in 2017 with their draft class playing a huge part in the playoff club. They split their 7 selections equally with their top prospects having early starting grades. They wanted to add one of the premier defensive lineman and receivers in the early rounds. With their 1st round selection, they drafted DT Taven Bryan, a relentless raw lineman with good size and speed. He can fill a few positions here and should be in their tackle rotation immediately. He can be a difference maker as a rusher and give this front a boost in the 3rd down package. His presence improves a young talented defense even further.
With their 2nd round selection, they selected speedy DJ Chark, a long strider with the burst to be a factor in the deep game. He does not run the full route tree or catch the ball over the middle consistently. He does have the vertical speed to hit the home run if he proves he can catch the ball consistently. In the 3rd round, they added safety Ronnie Harmon, a physical defender who is effective in the box. He can blitz and has the power and technique to defeat blockers. He was good value here. In the 4th round, they choose OL Will Richardson, a big mobile lineman with versatility. He is a physical blocker with experience at both the tackle and guard positions. He will get a look at tackle first, most likely the right side. He can give this ground game a boost and become a fixture on this line. He was a good addition. With their 6th round pick, they chose QB Tanner Lee, a raw underclassman with the physical tools to play the position. He moves well and has a good arm, but is still developing reading coverage and game to game decision making. He is a good long-term project and should win the #3 job with a good preseason.
With two 7th round picks, they chose LB Leon Jacobs and punter Logan Cooke. LB Jacobs had a big final season and showed the instincts and speed to get to the ball and finish. He should be a big factor on special teams while he settles into the base defense probably at the Mike spot. Good late addition with the talent to develop and possibly start. Punter Cooke has the starting job entering camp after a good SEC career where he improved annually and got good hang time. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Jaguars were very aggressive in FA and signed veteran Pro Bowl guard Andrew Norwell. They added defenders, CB DJ Hayden and Dexter McDougle, in addition to WR Donte Moncrief and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul. They parted ways with good veterans, CB Aaron Colvin, WRs Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, TE Marcedes Lewis and Guard Patrick Omameh. Long time LB Paul Posluszny retired. They signed a solid rookie UDFA class in Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa St, Dorren Miller, WR, Carson-Newman, K.C. McDermott, OL, Miami, Tony Adams, G, NC St, Brandon Smith, OL, East Carolina, Mike Hughes, DT, UNLV, Manase Hungalu, LB, Oregon St, Reggie Hunter, LB, North Carolina Central, Darius Jackson, LB, Jacksonville St, Lyndon Johnson, DT, Cincinnati, Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford, Dee Delaney, CB, Miami, Tre Herndon, CB, Vanderbilt, Andrew Motuapuaka, LB, Virginia Tech and C.J. Reavis, S, Marshall. WR Lazard is a big possession receiver who can make this roster. OL McDermott is a versatile lineman who can fill both the guard and tackle backup roles. CB Meeks has an NFL skill set, but needs to improve in his reads, technique and strength before earning playing time. Interesting prospect with upside.
Training Camp Objectives: The Jaguars hope to repeat their breakout 2017 performance when they won the AFC South and won two playoff games. Young QB Blake Bortles returns after a strong a postseason that silenced his critics. He looks to an improved line and receiving corps to improve this passing attack. Runner Leonard Fournette looks to build on his 1000 yard rookie rushing season. Wide receiver Marqise Lee is joined by vets, WR Donte Moncrief and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins to form a solid trio. The defense was dominant at times in 2017 and ranked among the best in the league except for rushing defense. They look to young defenders, LB Myles Jack, DEs Yannick Ngakoue and CB Jalen Ramsey to take the next step up. This team continues to improve the roster annually which allowed the major turnaround last season. They may improve further here with maturity by young key players. Fournette may be the engine for the next step. They are clearly the favorite in the AFC South, though the other clubs have improved nicely. They benefitted from their playoff success and maturity that makes them one of the top AFC clubs to return to the postseason.
Kansas City Chiefs – 10-7 – Head Coach Andy Reid – 6th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
2 46 Breeland Speaks LB Ole Miss
3 75 Derrick Nnadi DT Florida St
3 100 Dorian O’Daniel LB Clemson
4 124 Armani Watts S Texas A&M
6 196 Tremon Smith CB Central Arkansas
6 198 Kahlil McKenzie DT Tennessee
The Chiefs won the AFC West title for the second time in a row under HC Andy Reid, but were eliminated by the Titans in the first round. With their first-round pick, they traded up to land their future leader in Patrick Mahomes as the final payment in the 2017 trade. The slick throwing Mahomes gets the call in camp with the Chiefs dealing QB Alex Smith last winter to open the door.
On the 2nd round, they selected versatile LB/DE Breeland Speaks, a hard-nosed defender with size and natural athleticism. He is raw in a few key areas, though has the physical package to be a quality addition. He needs work in his hand technique which is currently rough and he can struggle separating from blockers especially when his initial move is contained. Intriguing prospect in time, and maybe relegated to situational packages over his early career. Huge upside with development. With their two 3rd round picks, they choose DT Derrick Nnadi and LB Dorian O’Daniel. Nnadi is a stout run stuffer who will push for reps inside. He carries an early NFL starting grade and addressed a need area here. LB Daniel is a quick savvy defender who runs well and is a sure tackler. He has average size and may be limited to the nickel backer role where he carries an early starting grade. He should be a top flight special teams’ coverage defender.
With their 4th round pick, they choose safety Armani Watts, an instinctive defender with experience both in the box and at free safety. He was a four-year starter for the Aggies and can fill either spot in this secondary. He was a solid addition and carries a starting grade in time, with early reps in the dime package. With two 6th round picks, they choose CB Tremon Smith and DT/OG Kahlil McKenzie. CB Smith is a good-sized corner with speed and athleticism to develop further. He is also a quality returner who can win the job in the preseason. He was a good addition here and has nice upside here. McKenzie will move to guard after a career at defensive tackle. He is a major project and a kid who probably lands on the PS to learn the position. He needs time and reps to develop his technique and reads to get up to NFL standards. Grade: C+
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Chiefs pulled a big trade that sent QB Alex Smith to the Skins for corner Kendall Fuller and a #3 pick. Fuller replaces traded Pro Bowl vet Marcus Peters. They signed wideout Sammy Watkins to give QB Mahomes a true #1 receiver. They added LB Anthony Hitchens and CB David Amerson. They lost LBers Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, wideout Albert Wilson, DT Bennie Logan, CBs Philip Gaines and Terrance Mitchell, in addition to safety Ron Parker guard Zach Fulton.
They added a good group of rookie UDFAs. They signed Chase Litton, QB, Marshall, Darrel Williams, RB, LSU, Blake Mack, TE, Arkansas St, J.D. Moore, TE, LSU, Elijah Marks, WR, Northern Arizona, Byron Pringle, WR, Kansas St, Jordan Smallwood, WR, Oklahoma, Jimmy Murray, C, Holy Cross, Ryan Hunter, OT, Bowling Green, Tejan Koroma, C, BYU, Dee Liner, DT, Arkansas St, Robert McCray, LB, Indiana, Ben Niemann, LB, Iowa, Raymond Davison, LB, California, Step Durham, DB, Georgia Tech, Malik Reaves, CB, Villanova, Arrion Springs, DB, Oregon, D’Montre Wade, DB, Murray St, Raymond Davison, LB, California and Step Durham, CB, Georgia Tech. QB Chase Litton could surprise here with little depth behind starter Patrick Mahomes. RB Williams is a tough inside runner who can help in a few roles and make this team. WR Pringle is a playmaker with kickoff return skills to win a roster spot. CBs Springs and Wade will press for roster spots and either could be PS candidates with a good training camp.
Training Camp Objectives: The Chiefs’ faded from their 5-0 start but still won the AFC West for the second year in a row. But they were eliminated in the first playoff game by the Titans despite holding a 21-3 halftime lead. HC Andy Reid made the decision to go with top pick Mahomes and trade Smith to clear the way. They benefitted from rookie back Kareem Hunt’s 1300 rushing yard and 50+ receptions performance. He will be a marked man this season. Veteran wideout Watkins can be a difference maker here and Mahomes is capable of getting him the ball in any route. He will operate behind a line that features Pro Bowl bookend tackles in Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. The KC defense fell again last season and ranked among the worst in the league in key categories especially rushing defense and sacks. Their talented secondary was effective, though failed in big spots in critical games. Safety Eric Berry returns from his Achilles injury and is counted on to provide leadership and playmaking here. They look to Pro Bowl defender, LB Justin Houston to set the pace and young former top pick LB Dee Ford to step up and replace long time star Tamba Hali as an edge rusher. The three-man line looks to DT Chris Jones to emerge as a dominant two-way end. The secondary looks to young defenders Kendall Fuller to step in a solidify one corner spot. The Chiefs have maintained their position atop the tough improving AFC West. They have to fine tune their offense where first year starter Patrick Mahomes begins what could be a wild season. The defense might hold the key to any progress in the key games especially the postseason. Safety Berry, LB Houston and DE Jones must have big seasons for this unit to improve. They are capable of winning this division again, though West rivals all improved this offseason.
Los Angeles Chargers – 9-7 – Head Coach Anthony Lynn – 2nd Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 17 Derwin James S Florida St
2 48 Uchenna Nwosu LB USC
3 84 Justin Jones DT NC St
4 119 Kyzir White S West Virginia
5 155 Scott Quessenberry C UCLA
6 191 Dylan Cantrell WR Texas Tech
7 251 Justin Jackson RB Northwestern
The Chargers addressed their most pressing defensive problems with all their early selections. On the first round, they selected safety Derwin James, a big tough athlete with all the talent to be a three-down starter as a rookie. He needs to take better angles to the ball in run defense. He is very developed in coverage with the range to make plays and finish. He has good hands and fine production at a high level. He addresses a major need here and can be an early difference maker. Excellent value here. In the 2nd round, they added LB Uchenna Nwosu, a physical defender who strikes and finishes. He had a breakout 2017 effort that improved his ranking. He is a good fit for this scheme and can surprise here and win early after developing fast over his final year. He is well versed in pass rushing, though would benefit from further technique work on secondary moves. He has interesting upside here and is a defender on the come who improves with each game.
In the 3rd round, they added lineman Justin Jones, a versatile physical defender who has played all the positions on the front line. He addresses a huge need here and could push starters for reps. He is expected to play in the dime packages, in a few roles. He was a reach here and taken at least a round early. With their 4th round pick, they added safety Kyzir White, a tough physical defender who finishes. He is a safety/backer tweener and could fill a nickel backer role, in addition to special teams’ coverage units. He is a savvy strong tackler with keen instincts and ball skills. He was good value here and has the versatility to play in package defenses. He is a hitter who could lineup in the box with the agility and quickness to go sideline to sideline. In the 5th round, they chose center Scott Quessenberry, a tough technician who graded out well in big game situations. He played a few positions on the UCLA talented line. He was a good value and addresses a definite need and has the makeup to have a nice NFL career. In the 6th round, they chose wideout Dylan Cantrell, a big sure handed athlete with good leaping skills. He can play immediately in the multiple packages at a few positions especially outside. Good addition. In the 7th round, they chose RB Justin Jackson, a tough aggressive back who hits the hole hard and gets the most of each attempt. He fits this offense well and probably wins a backup role with a good training camp. He was a nice addition and has the talent to fill a role. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Chargers made a key move in FA, signing center Mike Pouncey who will anchor the middle. They also added TE Virgil Green as a quality inline blocker. He will start now after Hunter Henry went down for the season. They parted ways with marginal veterans like LB Jerry Attaochu, TE Jeff Cumberland and OG Matt Slauson. The Chargers added rookie free agents Nic Shimonek, QB, Texas Tech, Anthony Manzo-Lewis, FB, Albany, Detrez Newsome, RB, Western Carolina, Cole Hunt, TE, TCU, Ben Johnson, TE, Kansas, JJ Jones, WR, West Georgia, Kent Shelby, WR, McNeese St, Zachary Crabtree, OT, Oklahoma St, Chris Durant, OT, William & Mary, Zach Golditch, G, Colorado St, Trent Scott, OL, Grambling, Albert Havili, DE, Eastern Washington, Tevin Lawson, DE, Nicholls St, Steven Richardson, DT, Minnesota, Bijhon Jackson, DT, Arkansas, Patrick Afriyie, LB, Colgate, D’Juan Hines, LB, Houston, Tony Brown, CB, Alabama, BJ Clay, CB, Georgia St, Marcus Edmond, CB, Clemson, Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech and Shane Tripucka, P, Texas A&M. QB Shimonek will get a long look here and can win the #3 job with a good preseason. TE Ben Johnson can make this roster with openings after Hunter Henry went down for the season. OT Crabtree gets a nice opportunity to impress and can make this roster with only marginal outside depth. LB Afriyie is a quick edge rusher who is a definite sleeper and fits this scheme. He can surprise here with only average backups. CB Facyson has the experience and skill set to make this squad or PS.
Training Camp Objectives: The Chargers recovered nicely last season from a 0-4 start, but still missed the playoffs despite a 9-3 run. They are one of the league’s most competitive teams weekly and finally beginning to learn to win close games. HC Lynn kept this club together and focused to make a run and wants to build on that momentum this season. QB Philip Rivers had another Pro Bowl season and was masterful in clutch situations. Young back Melvin Gordon had his first 1000-yard season and looks to build on that behind a developing line. QB Rivers looks to former top pick receiver Mike Williams to step up opposite Pro Bowler Keenan Allen. The defense continues to struggle vs the run which hurts them in close games. Their young LBer corps fails to make big plays and must establish itself as a better unit. DE Bosa provides impact off the edge along with Melvin Ingram. The secondary relies on talented corners Jason Verret and Casey Hayward along with nickel Desmond King to shutdown passing attacks. Rookie top pick safety James can make this unit one of the best in the league especially in package defenses. The Chargers are a major sleeper this year and maybe the team to beat in the AFC West. They must take a step up here and win more close games to rise to the top of the competitive AFC. They need a fast start after annual early struggles that have put them chasing the leaders for a playoff spot.
Miami Dolphins – 6-10 – Head Coach Adam Gase – 3rd Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 11 Minkah Fitzpatrick S Alabama
2 42 Mike Gesicki TE Penn St
3 73 Jerome Baker LB Ohio St
4 123 Durham Smythe TE Notre Dame
4 131 Kalen Ballage RB Arizona St
6 209 Cornell Armstrong CB Southern Miss
7 227 Quentin Poling LB Ohio
7 229 Jason Sanders PK New Mexico
The Dolphins focused on a defensive playmaker and leader and were excited to find safety Minkah Fitzpatrick available with the 11th overall selection. They allowed too many big plays and few interceptions that made this position the highest priority. Fitzpatrick is a top athlete with rare versatility and the smarts and leadership to direct a secondary. He is a sure tackler and has the burst to the ball to make big plays after experience at both corner and safety on two National championship clubs.
With their 2nd round choice, they selected TE Mike Gesicki, a mobile athlete who will press for starting time this preseason. He runs well and moves easily to get into his routes with the burst of speed to make plays. He can stretch the seam to force deep coverage and is a difficult red zone matchup. He needs work on inline blocking, though effective on the move. With their 3rd round choice, they selected LB Jerome Baker, a fast, mobile defender who works well in space. He shows good speed to matchup with backs down the field. He needs technique work and further play recognition to be ready for the NFL game. He chases well and has the sure tackling to finish consistently. He needs work on technique, especially shedding blockers at the line. He carries a rookie starting grade with the development to be a three down defender and capable of playing the nickel back role day one.
With two 4th round choices, they selected TE Durham Smythe and RB Kalen Ballage. TE Smythe is one of the most underrated players in the draft and has a huge upside as a pro. He is a tough inline blocker with the power and length to be very effective in that role and has further improvement. He is a sure handed underutilized weapon in the ND power ground offense. He does get open and is a physical presence with clear upside as a short zone receive. RB Ballage is a big athlete who flashes playmaking ability. He combines speed, size and hands, but must prove durable and more consistent, especially as a blocker. He was a slight reach this early, though a good long-term prospect with upside. With their 6th round pick, they drafted CB Cornell Armstrong, a lanky playmaker who should press for either the nickel or starting corner role. He has good speed and instincts with the toughness to overcome adequate size. He must show consistency in his game and capable of matching up well with big receivers. He can compete for nickel role and was good value here. With two 7th round selections, they drafted LB Quentin Poling and PK Jason Sanders. Poling is a tweener who was very productive in the MAC especially in run defense. He needs to impress on special teams to win a roster spot. His average athleticism may catchup to him in the NFL. Sanders has canon for a leg and a top kickoff man, but inconsistent as a placekicker. He gets a shot at the opening job with only minimal competition entering camp. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Dolphins signed wily veteran RB Frank Gore, one of the toughest honest backs in recent NFL history. They hope he lights a fire under young backs Kenyon Drake and Kalen Ballage. They added wideouts Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola, who replace departed Jarvis Landry. They also added OL Josh Sitton and Daniel Kilgore. They traded for DE Robert Quinn prior to the NFL Draft. They parted ways with Pro Bowl veterans, DT Ndu Suh and center Mike Pouncey, two fixtures on these fronts. They lost runner Damien Williams, QB Jay Cutler and Matt Moore, guard Jermon Bushrod, safety Nate Allen, LB Lawrence Timmons, TEs Julius Thomas and Anthony Fasano in FA. They added an average rookie UDFA class in Buddy Howell, RB, FAU, David Steinmetz, OT, Purdue, Connor Hilland, C, William & Mary, Claudy Mathieu, DE, Notre Dame (Oh), Mike McCray, LB, Michigan, Anthony Moten, DT, Miami, Jamiyus Pittman, DT, UCF, Quincy Redmon, DE, Fairmont St, Johnathan Alston, CB, NC St, Cayson Collins, LB, UNC, Jalen Davis, CB, Utah St, Lucas Gravelle, LS, TCU and Greg Joseph, PK, FAU. CB Davis can make this squad and is a quick cover man who will press for the nickel role. LB McCray is a savvy defender who plays a physical game and can win a backup role. He can be a fixture on coverage units with a good preseason and was a fine addition and capable of making this roster.
Training Camp Objectives: The Dolphins’ offense struggled again last season and ranked near the bottom of the league in a passing yardage. They look to the return of vet QB Ryan Tannehill who has missed the past 20 games. He needs to step up and respond to HC Adam Gase’s offense and be a playoff winning QB. He gets an improved ground game and line to go with a deep and talented group of receivers. The ground game must improve if they want to make a run at the playoffs. The receiving corps of DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills and Leonte Carroo can be one the best trios in the game. The young defense has talent, but must prove to be a tough unit with the turnover of vets Suh and Timmons. Young defenders, former top pick DE Charles Harris, LB Raekwon McMillan and corners Xavier Howard and Cordrea Tankersley are counted on to become solid starters and reduce the number of points allowed. They rely on vet safety Reshad Jones to be effective in the box. The Dolphins slipped back last season after making the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Any return to the postseason will depend on QB Tannehill returning to his former levels. Gore can give this offense a boost and balance the attack. They expect to compete for postseason in 2018, but only if their highly regarded young players step up especially in big situations. The Dolphins were only 2-4 in the division last season and must reverse that to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East. Dolphins can earn a wildcard spot, though they face a heavy early AFC schedule that may dictate their direction this season.
New England Patriots – 15-4 – Head Coach Bill Belichick -19th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 23 Isaiah Wynn OT Georgia
1 31 Sony Michel RB Georgia
2 56 Duke Dawson CB Florida
5 143 Ja’Whaun Bentley LB Purdue
6 178 Christian Sam LB Arizona St
6 210 Braxton Berrios WR Miami (FL)
7 219 Danny Etling QB LSU
7 243 Keion Crossen CB Western Carolina
7 250 Ryan Izzo TE Florida St
The Patriots traded veteran receiver Brandin Cooks to the Rams for their #1 pick, the 23rd overall selection. With two #1 picks, they selected OT Isaiah Wynn and runner Sony Michel, both from Georgia. Wynn is an agile sound technician who performed well at left tackle vs SEC competition. He came in at 6’3” and 313 lbs. with 33 3/8” reach at the NFL Combine which is barely adequate size for the LT spot. His footwork and technique may allow him to overcome for adequate size. He uses his hands well and has a Pro Bowl skill at guard. RB Michel is a versatile slashing back with well-rounded skills. He fits a few roles here and is the type of playmaker Tom Brady utilizes to the fullest. Michel is a refined receiver with both elusiveness and tackle breaking skills. He was a rising prospect off a big 2017 performance where he showed both featured back and situational roles at a high level. He will get an ample amount of reps in this offense as a rookie.
With their #2 pick, they chose CB Duke Dawson, a tough developed cover man who graded out high especially as a slot corner. He addresses a major need here and can win the nickel corner job with a good preseason. He played extensively as a nickel vs SEC talent and graded out very high on a weekly basis. Good addition here despite being a slight reach on value. In the 5th round, they choose LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, a big physical defender with the length and base to play both inside and outside. He gives them a serviceable performer for their rotation with the talent to improve and earn starting time. He fits the Patriots mold – physical, instinctive and versatile and was a good addition here with interesting upside.
With their two 6th round picks, they choose LB Christian Sam and wideout Braxton Berrios. Sam is an active defender who runs well and has developed coverage skills after earlier time at safety. He fits the nickel backer role in time and a good fit on coverage units. He can make this roster with the depth is suspect. WR Berrios is a slot receiver cut in the mold of recent Patriots – West Welker, Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman. He is quick off the line, shows sure hands and gets open. With Edelman opening a four-game suspension, Berrios could win a roster spot with a good preseason. With their three 7th round picks, they choose QB Danny Etling, CB Keion Crossen and TE Ryan Izzo. QB Etling is a good athlete who had an inconsistent career at LSU. He has NFL talent, but faces a long learning curve that may warrant a stay on the PS. CB Crossen is a quick cover man with good long speed to matchup in man situations. He has the burst to recover that allows him to outrun his mistakes. TE Izzo is a good inline blocker who improved nicely as a receiver in 2017. Patriots carry at least three TE and maybe another on the PS often. Izzo has the skills and development to make this squad in some capacity and was a good late addition. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Pats signed their usual group of wily veterans who seek a Super Bowl ring. They added DE Adrian Clayborn and DT Danny Shelton for their front along with CB Jason McCourty who joins his brother safety Devin. Clayborn can provide quickness off the edge while Shelton can fill the middle for their faltering defense. RB Jeremy Hill and WRs Jordan Matthews and Cordarrelle Patterson can fill a few roles here. They lost LT Nate Solder and CB Malcolm Butler, along with runner Dion Lewis, OL Cameron Fleming and DL Alan Branch. WR Danny Amendola left in FA after trading Brandin Cooks prior to the draft. They traded for OT Trent Brown who gets a look at both tackles spots. TE Marcellius Bennett retired after an injury riddled season. LB James Harrison also retired. The Pats signed a good rookie UDFA class, Ralph Webb, RB, Vanderbilt, Shane Wimann, TE, Northern Illinois, Chris Lacy, WR, Oklahoma St, John Atkins, DL, Georgia, Trent Harris, LB, Miami, Frank Herron, DL, LSU, J.C. Jackson, DB, Maryland, A.J. Moore, CB, Ole Miss and Corey Bojorquez, P, New Mexico. TE Shane Wimann was a definite steal and a performer who can win a roster spot and fill a key role as a FB/Hack. He is a very effective red zone weapon. Corner J.C. Jackson is a fine talent and capable of being a huge surprise in camp and make this club. DT John Atkins and Frank Herron are physical SEC linemen with experience that can help this front.
Training Camp Objectives: The Pats have won the AFC East for the ninth straight season and 14 of the last 15 years. They continue to dominant the weak AFC East and get an opening week bye in the postseason plus home field advantage. They rode that to their three Super Bowl in four seasons, but lost this year in a thrilling contest to the Eagles. Their highly ranked #1 offense was once again directed by star vet QB Tm Brady. He adjusts as well as any QB in history and provides excellent leadership and production. He operates behind a veteran line that lost key starters. They rely on veteran Pro Bowl TE Rob Gronkowski for impact plays and he has been a top-flight performer. The ground game works well despite changes often and look to Jeremy Hill to replace departed Dion Lewis. The defense must be retooled in camp after a poor 2017 season and postseason. HC Belichick has been a master at getting aging veterans to come in and buy his system. The Patriots’ allowed one of the least point totals in the league in 2017 which gives Brady a chance to win every game. The pass defense struggled and needs young players Duke Dawson, Eric Rowe and new vet McCourty to step in and fill key roles in the sub packages. They look to vet LB Don’t’a Hightower to give this unit leadership, but he must prove healthy after an injury riddled season. The Patriots are on a year to year basis with Brady and Gronk suggesting retirement. Their strategy has been to reload the cannon annually with hungry veterans and developed young players. Who is to argue?? They are once again overwhelming favorites to win the AFC East with maybe the Dolphins and Bills a legitimate chance to end their decade dominance.
New York Jets – 5-11 – Head Coach Todd Bowles – 4th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 3 Sam Darnold QB USC
3 72 Nathan Shepherd DT Fort Hays St (Ks)
4 107 Chris Herndon TE Miami (FL)
6 179 Parry Nickerson CB Tulane
6 180 Folorunso Fatukasi DT Connecticut
6 204 Trenton Cannon RB Virginia St
The Jets need to have an impact draft class and GM Mike Maccagnan work the early rounds perfectly. He traded up from the 6th overall to the 3rd overall selection to get into position for a top QB. He surrendered three #2 picks, two this year and one next April. It was a terrific move in a deep QB class that guaranteed him one of the top three passers at the least. As it turned out, he was able to get the second QB off the board in Sam Darnold, our highest rated prospect at the position. The Jets were shocked and ecstatic to find Darnold available. This franchise has struggled for decades to land a franchise type QB and Darnold has all the talent to be an elite NFL starter in time. He probably sits for year one with vets Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater fighting for the starting role in camp. Darnold might surprise and command starting time with a good preseason and practice workouts. He is the Jets best top selection in decades and a move Maccagnan put this franchise in position to land through a quick trade in March.
In the 3rd round, they selected DL Nate Shepherd, a huge athlete with versatility to lineup inside and outside. He probably lines up at end in a five-technique role where his bulk and mobility is a fine fit. He has a starting grade there and figures to get reps in their line rotation as a rookie. He is an aggressive athlete with speed, range and hitting power to be effective as a rookie. Excellent long-term addition. In the 4th round, they chose TE Chris Herndon, a mobile pass catcher who sustained a midseason knee injury in 2017. He has soft hands and gets open consistently to provide a reliable target. He also has good speed and can make a play after the reception. He is a marginal blocker and needs technique and strength work. They addressed a major need area here and look to him to earn time immediately if not start.
With three 6th round picks, they added CB Parry Nickerson, DL Folorunso Fatukasi and RB Trenton Cannon. CB Nickerson is a quick cover man with good instincts. He has the skills to surprise despite marginal size. He has the talent to win a nickel corner spot in time, but must get stronger and read routes quicker to earn playing time. He was a good addition. DL Fatukasi has a huge frame and long arms to play either inside or outside. He has the length to play the five-technique spot but is limited there and probably needs time for technique work. He plays high and must better utilize his large frame. RB Cannon is a scatback who displays quickness, speed and soft hands to make plays. He will have to impress in the return game to earn a roster spot. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: They added QB Teddy Bridgewater, CB Tremaine Johnson, centers Spencer Long and Travis Swanson, WR Terrelle Pryor and Andre Roberts, RB Isaiah Crowell, DE Henry Anderson, LBers Avery Williamson and Kevin Minter. Bridgewater could win the starting job if healthy. Long is expected to win the starting job. Pryor faces a challenge with the Jets huge receiving corps that expects personnel turnover. The Jets went through a major housecleaning this offseason parting ways with veteran QBs Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty. They let DE Muhammad Wilkerson walk after another major underachieving effort. They lost LBers Demario Davis and Kony Ealy, center Wes Johnson and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Veteran back Matt Forte retired after an excellent career. They signed an average rookie UDFAs class in Dimitri Flowers, FB, Oklahoma, Austin Golson, OL, Auburn and Dakoda Shepley, OL, University of British Columbia, Reggie Hall, CB, Jacksonville St, Lord Hyeamang, DT, Columbia and Mychealon Thomas, DL, Texas Tech. The addition of FB/H-back Flowers was an excellent move. He is a versatile hard-nosed blocker who can play FB, running back and H-back. He can make this roster and has the skill set to start in their two-back set.
Training Camp Objectives: The Jets turned the page and aggressively went after a top flight QB and combined a brilliant trade up in the first round by Mike Maccagnan and some luck for Sam Darnold to be available. The Jets quickly choose the blue-chip prospect and begin a new era with what they believe is the start of playoff teams. Darnold has rare skills to develop into a franchise type leader. The Jets’ roster is still a work in progress and needs several pieces especially on offense to reach the postseason. They look for vets McCown and Bridgewater to direct this offense where the receiving corps will have to shakeout a huge number of players to find their top six. The line needs work and may be at least a tackle away from a quality unit. Runners Crowell and Powell form a reliable tandem. Young receivers, Anderson, Pryor, Stewart and Hansen must claim starting jobs in a crowded group. HC Bowles got an honest production from his young defense last season and will benefit from the experience this talented group gained in 2017. Safety tandem of Adams and Maye plus backers Lee and Jenkins are quality starters to build around DE Leonard Williams. The Jets may go through another painful learning curve this season, but have put the key parts together to build around in the ensuing FA and NFL Draft classes. They must show more firepower to be a consistent playoff contender.
Oakland Raiders – 6-10 – Head Coach Jon Gruden – 1st Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 15 Kolton Miller OT UCLA
2 57 P. J. Hall DT Sam Houston St
3 65 Brandon Parker OT North Carolina A&T
3 87 Arden Key DE LSU
4 110 Nick Nelson CB Wisconsin
5 140 Maurice Hurst DT Michigan
5 173 Johnny Townsend P Florida
6 216 Azeem Victor LB Washington
7 228 Marcell Ateman WR Oklahoma St
The Raiders addressed key areas on both lines with their first four selections. They traded back and chose OT Kolton Miller in the 1st round with the 15th overall selection. They gained a #3 and #5 in the process. Miller is a fast-developing big prospect who plays both sides and eventually the leftside. He opens as the right tackle and is counted on to be the long-term answer at left tackle. With their 2nd round pick, they chose DT PJ Hall, a quick athlete with the talent to be a fine playmaker. He is an explosive defender with the burst to rush the passer. He rose off terrific workouts and will push for starting duty. He might have to beat out fellow rookie Maurice Hurst for the starting job.
With two 3rd round picks, they chose OT Brandon Parker and DE/LB Arden Key. Parker is a massive tackle with bulk and footwork and dominated the lower level. He will compete for right tackle and may be limited to that position as a pro. He needs hand technique work and footwork to be ready to get reps in the NFL. LB Key is an explosive edge rusher who has been inconsistent over his career. He has big play ability with the range to chase to the sidelines. He has a burst to the ball to finish and can rush the passer, but needs to answer some key questions. He must prove durable, improve his strength and technique and show his motor runs for sixty minutes. He was great value here and should earn time in all the package defenses. He is a huge boom or bust prospect.
With their 4th round pick, they selected CB Nick Nelson, a relentless defender with good instincts and experience. He is coming off a torn MCL in the postseason, but should play as a rookie. He can line up over slot receivers and be a fixture in the nickel package in time. He can be an impact special teams’ defender plus return punts. With their two 5th round picks, they selected DT Maurice Hurst and punter Johnny Townsend. Hurst is a powerful interior lineman who became a huge playmaker late in his career. He fell off some heart concerns detected at the NFL Combine. He faced NFL caliber linemen and double teaming often in the Big Ten and graded out high weekly. He should be an immediate factor in their rotation and give the Raiders the deepest interior in the league. Townsend replaces departed FA Marquette King. He has a strong leg with consistently good hand time. He was excellent value at the 173rd overall selection.
With their 6th round pick, they selected LB Azeem Victor, a talented hitter with playmaking ability. He comes off late career suspensions and some injuries. He has the physical package to start with development. He has the mobility and footwork to man the outside though better suited to the inside. He is a good long-term addition, that could pay nice dividends with time. He is a thumper who fits the Raider mentality and is great value here if his antics are over. With their 7th round pick, they selected wideout Marcell Ateman, a big sure handed receiver who performed in a spread offense. eHe is a physical pass catcher who goes over the middle and works the sidelines well. He can surprise here and was a good late addition who can make this roster. Grade: B+
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Raiders had a huge salary cap cushion again and were aggressive addressing needs. They signed wideout Jordy Nelson and traded for Martavis Bryant to give QB David Carr a few new big play weapons. They add many second-tier defenders in an effort to reverse their weak 2017 performance. They signed DE Tank Carradine, safety Marcus Gilchrist, corners Leon Hall, Senquez Golson, Daryl Worley and Shareece Wright, LB Tahir Whitehead and Derrick Johnson. They also signed runner Doug Martin to couple with veteran Marshawn Lynch who had a fine first season in Oakland. They lost WRs Michael Crabtree and Cordarrelle Patterson, CBs TJ Carrie and David Amerson, LB NaVorro Bowman, DE Jihad Ward and OL Marshall Newhouse. They signed an average rookie UDFAs class of Nick Sharga, FB, Temple, Chris Warren III, RB, Texas, Marcus Baugh, TE, Ohio St, Saeed Blacknall, WR, Penn St, Jason Cabinda, LB, Penn St, Dallin Leavitt, S, Utah St, Alex Officer, C, Pittsburgh, Eddy Piniero, K, Florida and Drew Scott, LS, Kansas St. RB Chris Warren is a fine gamble and a much-needed versatile back for both positions. He can land a PS if he doesn’t win a roster spot. TE Baugh is a mobile prospect who fills an H-back role and is a sure handed versatile weapon. He can make this squad and gives them a missing weapon. PL Ed Piniero will compete for the kicking job and has the development and intangibles to win the job outright with a good preseason.
Training Camp Objectives: The Raiders begin the new Jon Gruden era after another weak performance. He looks to give this offense a boost with his play calling to assist young QB Derek Carr. They were among the lowest scoring teams in the league. Carr is the franchise leader here and Gruden will build a strong supporting cast around him. The pass protection is an issue that contributed a down season by Carr. Rookie top pick OT Kolton Miller will be pushed to claim a starting job. The defense made few big plays and much too much yardage to be a playoff contender. They ranked last in interceptions, 24th in sacks and 23rd in the league overall. The secondary made few big plays and allowed far too much yardage. They will push young defenders, Conley, Melifonwu along with rookies Hall and Hurst to build a support to Pro Bowl LB Khalil Mack. He is a dominant Pro Bowl talent but receives special attention on many snaps. The Raiders believe they can compete in the AFC West title after making the playoffs in 2016. QB Derek Carr and wideout Amari Cooper are key offensive performers that will benefit from the addition of Nelson and Bryant. Mack is a star defender who changes games quickly, though needs help. Raiders can challenge for wide open West title, though they will be pushed in this competitive division where they went 2-4 last season.
Pittsburgh Steelers – 13-4 – Head Coach Mike Tomlin – 12th Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 28 Terrell Edmunds S Virginia Tech
2 60 James Washington WR Oklahoma St
3 76 Mason Rudolph QB Oklahoma St
3 92 Chukwuma Okorafor OT Western Michigan
5 148 Marcus Allen S Penn St
5 165 Jaylen Samuels FB NC St
7 246 Joshua Frazier DT Alabama
The Steelers surprised fans with the selection of safety Terrell Edmunds in the first round. It was the first time two brothers were drafted in the first round in the same class with Tremaine being selected early by the Bills. Terrell is a fine physical looking athlete who struggled with injuries at times that limited his production. He is a safety/backer tweener who figures to play in all the packages. He has the makeup of an every down strong safety and will compete for a starting job in camp. He was a reach this early, but a rising defender off upside potential.
In the 2nd round, they choose WR James Washington, a tough receiver with experience at a high level. He gives them a quality playmaker opposite starter Antonio Brown and young JuJu Smith-Schuster. He is well developed operating from a few receiving positions to see time in three wideout sets after losing vet Martavis Bryant. He was good value here and is at a high level of development to play immediately.
With two 3rd round picks, they selected QB Mason Rudolph and OL Chukwuma Okorafor. Rudolph was excellent value here and the type which could be the ultimate replacement for ‘Big Ben’. That could be sooner than later. Rudolph flourished in a spread offense in a weak defensive conference. He makes all the throws and has a good arm. He improved his mobility with less weight in 2017 and the results showed it. He needs work under center and reading defenses and probably gets at least one season as a #3 passer. Fine long-term project. OL Okorafor is a big mobile lineman with extensive experience at tackle and projects there as a pro. He needs to get stronger and further technique development, but has starting skills at right tackle. Another good long-term prospect.
With two 5th round picks, they selected safety Marcus Allen and FB Jaylen Samuels. Allen addressed their secondary again. He has a good skill set for the strong safety spot and has developed nicely in deep zone coverage to play in the dime package. He is a reliable tackler and should be a core special teams defender. Samuels is one of the more versatile players in this class. He plays a few positions at a high level – fullback, running back, H-back and receiver. He gives them a unique weapon on the play clock to shift into a multiple of alignments. He has excellent hands and can play the 3rd down back role where he is also a factor as a runner in a single backfield. Excellent pick to give this offense many options. He was a steal at the 165th overall selection. In the 7th round, they selected defensive tackle Joshua Frazier, a strong inside presence who can win a backup nose tackle spot. Good later addition to fill a role on a front with only marginal depth. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Steelers signed only a few free agents with starters in safety Morgan Burnett and LB Joe Bostic. Burnett improves a changing secondary while Bostic addresses a thin unit that lost emerging star Ryan Shazier to a serious spinal injury. Shazier may never play again leaving a huge hole inside. Veteran runner Le’Veon Bell is a stud back with excellent receiving skills. He is currently tagged for this season. They released safeties Mike Mitchell and JJ Wilcox and corner William Gay along with LB Sean Spence and wideout Eli Rogers. They added rookie free agents Jarvion Franklin, RB, Western Michigan, Quadree Henderson, WR, Pittsburgh, Damoun Patterson, WR, Youngstown St, Pharoah McKever, TE, North Carolina St, Patrick Morris, C, TCU, R.J. Prince, G, UNC, Chris Schleuger, G, UAB, Kendal Vickers, DE, Tennessee, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, LB, Toledo, Parker Cothren, DT, Penn St, Greg Gilmore, DT, LSU, Trey Johnson, CB, Villanova, Jamar Summers, CB, UConn and Matthew Thomas, LB, Florida St. WR Henderson has a chance to impress in camp with his return skills. He can make roster on these skills. Olasunkanmi Adeniyi addresses the LB unit with marginal depth throughout. He can make this roster outright with a good camp. DB Summers has experience at both corner and safety and is another rookie to challenge for a roster spot. He is a fine PS candidate if he fails to make opening day roster. LB Thomas is a mobile playmaker with good coverage skills to compete for the nickel role and be a solid special teams defender.
Training Camp Objectives: The Steelers have won the past two AFC North titles but failed to take it to the next level. They lost the first playoff game to the Jaguars at home last year. QB Ben Roethlisberger still drives the bus and performed very well behind good protection with only 24 sacks for 561 attempts. Pro Bowl runner Le’Veon Bell is the best in the game and most well rounded back in the league. Pro Bowl wideout Antonio Brown is a major impact performer, but needs young wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and rookie James Washington to become key contributors. The Steelers’ addressed their aging defense this offseason with good additions, but not impact defenders to change games. They made more key changes in the secondary and will welcome rookie top pick Terrell Edmunds. LB TJ Watt had a good rookie season with 7 sacks and can make a bigger impact here. ILB Vince Williams had a huge effort with 8 sacks. The secondary improved with young defenders Artie Burns and Joe Haden forming a solid tandem, but few big plays. Safety Sean Davis is joined by vet Morgan Burnett to complete a very good back patrol. The Steelers are in a highly competitive wide open North division. They have won the North title three times in the past four years. The hope their young defensive players make further progress this fall, so they can make a title run. The trio of Big Ben, Bell and Brown form an awesome group whose window is beginning to close. Capable of another North title and possible challenger to the Patriots with defensive improvement.
Tennessee Titans – 10-8 – Head Coach Mike Vrabel – 1st Year
2018 Rookie Draft Class
1 22 Rashaan Evans LB Alabama
2 41 Harold Landry LB Boston College
5 152 Dane Cruikshank CB Arizona
6 199 Luke Falk QB Washington St
The Titans traded up in both the first and second rounds for the defensive players they had earmarked for their scheme. They moved up three spots in the first to select LB Rashaan Evans. He is a thumper who new HC Mike Vrabel handpicked for this 3-4 set. Evans goes sideline to sideline and runs down ball carriers. He takes on blockers well between the tackles and shows the athleticism to drop in coverage. He is a day one starter here and a nice addition. With their 2nd round pick, they traded up for their #2 and #3 picks with the Raiders. They selected LB Harold Landry, an edge rusher with the ability to make big plays. He is a fine addition on an aging unit. He has the burst to bend the edge and be a difference maker here. They want to add front seven defenders preferably linebackers and were able to land the prospects that wanted most in Evans and Landry.
With their 5th round pick, they selected CB Dane Cruikshank, a big versatile defender with experience at corner and safety. He fits a cover two scheme or a permanent move to safety where the Titans probably give him the most reps. He was a good addition and a player whose versatility is a plus to make this roster. With their 6th round pick, they selected QB Luke Falk who was chosen with the Tom Brady selection at 199th draft choice. He was a highly productive passer in a spread attack where he relied on simple reads and quick releases. He has the skills to win a backup role and move up with experience. He gets a nice chance here with only marginal depth behind starter Marcus Mariota. He should get a long look either on the roster or PS for a few seasons. Grade: B
Rookie & Veteran Free Agency: The Titans addressed their defense in FA and signed starters CB Malcolm Butler, DT Bennie Logan. They also added RB Dion Lewis, guard Xavier Su’a-Filo and wideout Michael Campanaro who will fill key roles on offense. They lost RB DeMarco Murray, WR Eric Decker, LB Avery Williamson, DT Sylvester Williams and center Brian Schwenke. Titans signed an average large group of rookie UDFAs in Cameron Batson, WR, Texas Tech, Deontay Burnett, WR, USC, Devin Ross, WR, Colorado, Jordan Veasy, WR, Cal, Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa, Dalyn Dawkins, RB, Colorado St, Ethan Wolf, TE, Tennessee, Elijah Nkansah, T, Toledo, Aaron Stinnie, OT, James Madison, Matthew Diaz, OT, Wagner, Nico Falah, C, USC, Matt Dickerson, DE, UCLA, Joseph Este, DB, Tennessee-Martin, Nick DeLuca, LB, NDSU, Sharif Finch, LB, Temple, Connor Flagel, DL, Central Missouri, Rico Gafford, CB, Wyoming, Joshua Kalu, S, Nebraska, Tobenna Okeke, OLB, Fresno St, Mike Ramsay, DT, Duke, Robert Spillane, LB, Western Michigan, Damon Webb, S, Ohio St and Austin Barnard, P, Samford. RB Wadley is a tough runner with a make it grade. He should impress HC Vrabel with his physical take no prisoners style. OL Nkansah and Stinnie are prospects with the skills to warrant a long look on PS. LB DeLuca has the savvy, size and athleticism to play inside in this scheme and has a good chance to win a roster spot here.
Training Camp Objectives: The Titans took a step last season with their first playoff appearance in nine years. They won their first playoff game in 14 years before falling to the Patriots. GM Jon Robinson still made a change in coaching to Mike Vrabel. He is a hardnosed coach who will improve this average defense and bring it up to playoff levels. Their recent strong draft classes put them in position to challenge in the improving AFC South. They are built around young QB Marcus Mariota who slipped from his huge 2016 performance. He benefits from tackles Jack Conklin and Taylor Lewan along with a strong tandem of RB in Derrick Henry and new veteran Dion Lewis. The ground game slipped last year which limited Mariota. Young receiver Corey Davis is counted on to become the #1 guy here after an injury riddle rookie year. The offense relies on two TE sets with Walker and Smith and Mariota has utilized nicely with experience. The defense is not at playoff levels and must provide impact in this 3-4 scheme to win with any consistency. The veteran LB corps is an average unit that added rookies Evans and Landry who can be a huge difference here. The secondary made a key change with the signing of CB Butler that can only improve their porous pass defense. The Titans may made nice progress in their rebuilding and feel they added a few key players to take the next step. WR Davis can open this offense and take them to the next level. The defense must answer key questions especially in pass defense. This club is rising quickly and dangerous especially in the AFC South where only Jacksonville returns with a playoff core of players. Titans should compete with the Jaguars in a division where they went 5-1 last season.
NFL Draft 2018 Selection Order – Seven Rounds
Pick / Team Player / Position / School
1 Cleveland Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma
2 NY Giants Saquon Barkley RB Penn St
3 NY Jets (from Indianapolis) Sam Darnold QB Southern Cal
4 Cleveland (from Houston) Denzel Ward CB Ohio St
5 Denver Bradley Chubb DE North Carolina St
6 Indianapolis (from NY Jets) Quenton Nelson OG Notre Dame
7 Buffalo (from Tampa Bay) Josh Allen QB Wyoming
8 Chicago Roquan Smith LB Georgia
9 San Francisco Mike McGlinchey OT Notre Dame
10 Arizona (from Oakland) Josh Rosen QB UCLA
11 Miami Minkah Fitzpatrick FS Alabama
12 Tampa Bay (from Cincinnati thru Buffalo) Vita Vea DT Washington
13 Washington Da’Ron Payne DT Alabama
14 New Orleans (from Green Bay) Marcus Davenport DE Texas-San Antonio
15 Oakland (from Arizona) Kolton Miller OT UCLA
16 Buffalo (from Baltimore) Tremaine Edmunds OLB Virginia Tech
17 LA Chargers Derwin James SS Florida St
18 Green Bay (from Seattle) Jaire Alexander CB Louisville
19 Dallas Leighton Vander Esch LB Boise St
20 Detroit Frank Ragnow C Arkansas
21 Cincinnati (from Buffalo) Billy Price C Ohio St
22 Tennessee (from Kansas City thru Buffalo and Baltimore) Rashaan Evans LB Alabama
23 New England (from LA Rams) Isaiah Wynn G/T Georgia
24 Carolina DJ Moore WR Maryland
25 Baltimore (from Tennessee) Hayden Hurst TE South Carolina
26 Atlanta Calvin Ridley WR Alabama
27 Seattle (from New Orleans thru Green Bay) Rashaad Penny RB San Diego St
28 Pittsburgh Terrell Edmunds FS Virginia Tech
29 Jacksonville Taven Bryan DT Florida
30 Minnesota Mike Hughes CB Central Florida
31 New England Sony Michel RB Georgia
32 Baltimore (from Philadelphia) Lamar Jackson QB Louisville
33 Cleveland Austin Corbett OG/OT Nevada
34 NY Giants Will Hernandez OG UTEP
35 Cleveland (from Houston) Nick Chubb RB Georgia
36 Indianapolis Darius Leonard LB South Carolina St
37 Indianapolis (from NY Jets) Braden Smith OG/OT Auburn
38 Tampa Bay Ronald Jones RB Southern Cal
39 Chicago James Daniels C Iowa
40 Denver Courtland Sutton WR Southern Methodist
41 Tennessee (from Oakland) Harold Landry DE/LB Boston College
42 Miami Mike Gesicki TE Penn St
43 Detroit (from San Francisco thru New England) Kerryon Johnson RB Auburn
44 San Francisco (from Washington) Dante Pettis WR Washington
45 Green Bay Josh Jackson CB Iowa
46 Kansas City (from Cincinnati) Breeland Speaks DE Mississippi
47 Arizona Christian Kirk WR Texas A&M
48 LA Chargers Uchenna Nwosu OLB Southern Cal
49 Philadelphia (from Seattle thru NY Jets and Indianapolis) Dallas Goedert TE South Dakota St
50 Dallas Connor Williams G/T Texas
51 Chicago (from Detroit thru New England) Anthony Miller WR Memphis
52 Indianapolis (from Baltimore) Kemoko Turay ER Rutgers
53 Tampa Bay (from Buffalo) MJ Stewart CB North Carolina
54 Cincinnati (from Kansas City) Jessie Bates FS Wake Forest
55 Carolina Donte Jackson CB LSU
56 New England (from LA Rams thru Buffalo and Tampa Bay) Duke Dawson CB Florida
57 Oakland (from Tennessee) PJ Hall DT Sam Houston St
58 Atlanta Isaiah Oliver CB Colorado
59 Washington (from New Orleans thru SF) Derrius Guice RB LSU
60 Pittsburgh James Washington WR Oklahoma St
61 Jacksonville DJ Chark WR LSU
62 Minnesota Brian O’Neill OT Pittsburgh
63 Tampa Bay (from New England) Carlton Davis CB Auburn
64 Indianapolis (from Philadelphia thru Cleveland) Tyquan Lewis DE Ohio St
65 Oakland (from Cleveland thru Buffalo and Baltimore) Brandon Parker OT North Carolina A&T
66 NY Giants Lorenzo Carter OLB Georgia
67 Cleveland (from Indianapolis) Chad Thomas DE Miami
68 Houston Justin Reid FS Stanford
69 NY Giants (from Tampa Bay) BJ Hill DT North Carolina St
70 San Francisco (from Chicago) Fred Warner LB BYU
71 Denver Royce Freeman RB Oregon
72 NY Jets Nate Shepherd DL Fort Hays St
73 Miami Jerome Baker LB Ohio St
74 Washington (from San Francisco) Geron Christian OT Louisville
75 Kansas City (from Oakland thru Baltimore) Derrick Nnadi NT Florida St
76 Pittsburgh (Green Bay thru Seattle) Mason Rudolph QB Oklahoma St
77 Cincinnati Sam Hubbard DE Ohio St
78 Cincinnati (from Washington thru KC) Malik Jefferson LB Texas
79 Seattle (from Arizona thru Oakland and Pittsburgh) Rasheem Green DE Southern Cal
80 Houston (from Seattle) Martinas Rankin OG/OT Mississippi St
81 Dallas Michael Gallup WR Colorado St
82 Detroit Tracy Walker FS Louisiana-Laf
83 Baltimore Orlando Brown OT Oklahoma
84 LA Chargers Justin Jones DT North Carolina St
85 Carolina (from Buffalo) Rashaan Gaulden FS Tennessee
86 Kansas City Mark Andrews TE Oklahoma
87 Oakland (from LA Rams) Arden Key LB LSU
88 Green Bay (from Carolina) Oren Burks LB Vanderbilt
89 LA Rams (from Tennessee thru Oakland) Joseph Noteboom OT TCU
90 Atlanta Deadrin Senat DT South Florida
91 New Orleans Tre’Quan Smith WR Central Florida
92 Pittsburgh Chukwuma Okorafor OT Western Michigan
93 Jacksonville Ronnie Harrison SS Alabama
94 Tampa Bay (from Minnesota) Alex Cappa OG/OT Humbolt St
95 San Francisco (from New England) Tarvarius Moore SS Southern Mississippi
96 Buffalo (from Philadelphia) Harrison Phillips DT Stanford
97 Arizona Mason Cole C Michigan
98 Houston Jordan Akins TE Central Florida
99 Denver Ike Yiadom CB Boston College
100 Kansas City (from Cincinnati) Dorian O’Daniel LB Clemson
101 Carolina (from Cleveland thru Green Bay) Ian Thomas TE Indiana
102 Minnesota (from NY Giants thru Tampa Bay) Jalyn Holmes DE Ohio St
103 Houston KeKe Coutee WR Texas Tech
104 Indianapolis Nyheim Hines RB North Carolina St
105 Cleveland (from Chicago thru New England) Antonio Callaway WR Florida
106 Denver Josey Jewell ILB Iowa
107 NY Jets Christopher Herndon TE Miami
108 NY Giants (from Tampa Bay) Kyle Lauletta QB Richmond
109 Washington (from San Francisco thru Denver) Troy Apke FS Penn St
110 Oakland Nick Nelson CB Wisconsin
111 LA Rams (from Miami) Brian Allen C Michigan St
112 Cincinnati Mark Walton RB Miami
113 Denver (from Washington) DaeSean Hamilton WR Penn St
114 Detroit (from Green Bay thru Cleveland and New England) Da’Shawn Hand DE Alabama
115 Chicago (from Arizona) Joel Iyiegbuniwe OLB Western Kentucky
116 Dallas Dorance Armstrong DE Kansas
117 Tampa Bay (from Detroit thru New England) Jordan Whitehead SS Pittsburgh
118 Baltimore Anthony Averett CB Alabama
119 LA Chargers Kyzer White SS West Virginia
120 Seattle Will Dissly TE Washington
121 Buffalo Taron Johnson CB Weber St
122 Baltimore (from Kansas City) Kenny Young LB UCLA
123 Miami (from Carolina thru Cleveland) Durham Smythe TE Notre Dame
124 Kansas City (from LA Rams) Armani Watts SS Texas A&M
125 Baltimore (from Tennessee) Avante Maddox CB Pittsburgh
126 Atlanta Ito Smith RB Southern Miss
127 New Orleans Rick Leonard OT Florida St
128 San Francisco (from Pittsburgh) Kentavius Street DE North Carolina St
129 Jacksonville Will Richardson G/T North Carolina St
130 Philadelphia (from New England) Josh Sweat DE Florida St
131 Miami (from Minnesota thru Philadelphia) Kalen Ballage RB Arizona St
132 Baltimore (from Philadelphia) Jaleel Scott WR New Mexico St
133 Green Bay J’Mon Moore WR Missouri
134 Arizona Chase Edmonds RB Fordham (NY)
135 LA Rams (from New York Giants) John Franklin DE Stephen F Austin
136 Carolina (from New England thru LA Rams) Marquis Haynes OLB Mississippi
137 Dallas Dalton Schultz TE Stanford
138 Green Bay (from Cleveland) Cole Madison OG/OT Washington St
139 NY Giants RJ McIntosh DL Miami
140 Oakland (from Indianapolis) Maurice Hurst DT Michigan
141 Seattle (from Houston) Shaquem Griffin LB Central Florida
142 San Francisco (from Denver thru SF) DJ Reed CB Kansas City
143 New England (from NY Jets thru SF) Ja’Whaun Bentley ILB Purdue
144 Tampa Bay Justin Watson WR Penn
145 Chicago Bilal Nichols DT Delaware
146 Seattle (from Oakland) Tre Flowers SS Oklahoma St
147 LA Rams (from Miami thru New Orleans, Green Bay and Carolina) Micah Kiser ILB Virginia
148 Pittsburgh (from San Francisco) Marcus Allen FS Penn St
149 Seattle (from Washington thru Denver) Michael Dickson P Texas
150 Cleveland (from Green Bay) Genard Avery ILB Memphis
151 Cincinnati Davontae Harris CB Illinois St
152 Tennessee (from Arizona thru Oakland and Baltimore) Dane Cruickshank FS Arizona
153 Detroit Tyrell Crosby OT Oregon
154 Buffalo (from Baltimore) Siran Neal CB Jacksonville St
155 LA Chargers Scott Quessenberry C UCLA
156 Denver (from Philadelphia thru Seattle) Tony Fumagelli TE Wisconsin
157 Minnesota (from Dallas thru NY Jets) Tyler Conklin TE Central Michigan
158 Cincinnati (from Buffalo) Andrew Brown DE Virginia
159 Indianapolis (Kansas City-Cleveland-Oakland-New England) Daurice Fountain WR Northern Iowa
160 LA Rams Ogbonnia Okoronkwo OLB Oklahoma
161 Carolina Jermaine Carter LB Maryland
162 Baltimore (from Tennessee) Jordan Lasley WR UCLA
163 Washington (from Atlanta thru Denver) Tim Settle NT Virginia Tech
164 New Orleans Natrell Jamerson SS Wisconsin
165 Pittsburgh Jaylen Samuels RB North Carolina St
166 Buffalo (from Jacksonville) Wyatt Teller OG Virginia Tech
167 Minnesota Daniel Carlson PK Auburn
168 Seattle (from New England) Jamarco Jones OT Ohio St
169 Indianapolis (from Philadelphia) Jordan Wilkins RB Mississippi
170 Cincinnati Darius Phillips CB Western Michigan
171 Dallas Mike White QB Western Kentucky
172 Green Bay JK Scott P Alabama
173 Oakland (from Dallas) Johnny Townsend P Florida
174 Green Bay Marques Valdes-Scanting WR South Florida
175 Cleveland Damion Ratley WR Texas A&M
176 Tennessee (from NY Giants thru LA Rams) John Kelly RB Tennessee
177 Houston Duke Ejiofor DE Wake Forest
178 New England (from Indianapolis thru Cleveland) Christian Sam LB Arizona St
179 NY Jets Parry Nickerson CB Tulane
180 NY Jets (from Tampa Bay thru Minnesota) Foley Fatukasi DT UConn
181 Chicago Kylie Fitts DE Utah
182 Arizona (from Denver) Chris Campbell CB Penn St
183 Denver (from Miami thru LA Rams) Sam Jones OG Arizona St
184 San Francisco Marcell Harris SS Florida
185 Indianapolis (from Oakland) Deon Cain WR Clemson
186 Seattle (from Green Bay) Jacob Martin DE Temple
187 Buffalo (from Cincinnati) Ray-Ray McCloud WR Clemson
188 Cleveland (from Washington) Simeon Thomas CB Louisiana-Laf
189 New Orleans (from Arizona) Kamrin Moore CB Boston College
190 Baltimore DeShon Elliott FS Texas
191 LA Chargers Dylan Cantrell WR Texas Tech
192 LA Rams (from Seattle thru Oakland and Dallas) Jamil Demby OT Maine
193 Dallas Chris Covington LB Indiana
194 Atlanta (from Detroit thru LA Rams) Russell Gage WR LSU
195 LA Rams (from Buffalo) Sebastian Joseph DT Rutgers
196 Kansas City Tremon Smith CB Central Arkansas
197 Washington (from Carolina) Shaun Dion Hamilton LB Alabama
198 Kansas City (from LA Rams thru New England) Khalil McKenzie OG Tennessee
199 Tennessee Luke Falk QB Washington St
200 Atlanta Foyesade Oluokun LB Yale
201 New Orleans Boston Scott RB Louisiana Tech
202 Tampa Bay (from Pittsburgh) Jack Cichy LB Wisconsin
203 Jacksonville Tanner Lee QB Nebraska
204 NY Jets (from Minnesota) Trent Cannon RB Virginia St
205 LA Rams (from New England thru Cleveland and Washington) Trevon Young LB Louisville
206 Philadelphia Matt Pryor OG TCU
207 Green Bay Equanimeous St Brown WR Notre Dame
208 Dallas Cedrick Wilson WR Boise St
209 Miami (from Kansas City) Cornell Armstrong CB Southern Miss
210 New England (from Oakland) Braxton Berrios WR Miami
211 Houston Jordan Thomas TE Mississippi St
212 Baltimore (from Oakland) Greg Senat OT Wagner
213 Minnesota Colby Gossett OG Appalachian St
214 Houston Peter Kalambayi LB Stanford
215 Baltimore Bradley Bozeman C Alabama
216 Oakland Azeem Victor LB Washington
217 Denver (from Oakland thru LA rams) Keishawn Bierria LB Washington
218 Minnesota Ade Aruna LB Tulane
219 New England (from Cleveland) Danny Etling QB LSU
220 Seattle (from NY Giants thru Pittsburgh) Alex McGough QB Florida International
221 Indianapolis Matthew Adams LB Houston
222 Houston Jermaine Kelly CB San Jose St
223 San Francisco (from Tampa Bay thru Miami) Jermaine Taylor DT Temple
224 Chicago Javon Wims WR Georgia
225 Minnesota (from Denver) Devante Downs LB California
226 Denver (from NY Jets thru Seattle) David Williams RB Arkansas
227 Miami (from San Francisco) Quenton Polling LB Ohio
228 Oakland Marcell Ateman WR Oklahoma St
229 Miami Jason Sanders PK New Mexico
230 Jacksonville (from Cincinnati) Leon Jacobs OLB Wisconsin
231 LA Rams (from Washington) Travin Howard OLB TCU
232 Green Bay James Looney DT California
233 Philadelphia (from Arizona thru KC) Jordan Mailata OT South Sydney (Aus)
234 Carolina (from LA Chargers thru Buffalo) Andre Smith LB North Carolina
235 Indianapolis (from Seattle thru NY Jets) Zaire Franklin LB Syracuse
236 Dallas Bo Scarborough RB Alabama
237 Detroit Nick Bawden FB San Diego St
238 Baltimore Zach Seiler LB Ferris St
239 Green Bay (from Buffalo) Hunter Bradley LS Mississippi St
240 San Francisco (from Kansas City) Richie James WR Middle Tennessee
241 Washington (from LA Rams) Greg Stroman CB Virginia Tech
242 Carolina Kendrick Norton DT Miami
243 New England (from Tennessee thru KC) Keion Crossen CB Western Carolina
244 LA Rams (from Atlanta) Justin Lawlor DE SMU
245 New Orleans Will Clapp C LSU
246 Pittsburgh Josh Frazier DT Alabama
247 Jacksonville Logan Cooke P Mississippi St
248 Green Bay (from Minnesota thru Seattle) Kendall Donnerson LB SE Missouri St
249 Cincinnati (from New England) Logan Whiteside QB Toledo
250 New England (from Philadelphia thru Seattle and New England) Ryan Izzo TE Florida St
251 LA Chargers Justin Jackson RB Northwestern
252 Cincinnati Rod Taylor OG Mississippi
253 Cincinnati Auden Tate WR Florida St
254 Arizona Korey Cunningham OT Cincinnati
255 Buffalo (from Tampa Bay) Austin Proehl WR North Carolina
256 Washington Trey Quinn WR Southern Methodist
NFL Draft 2018 Review Online Book
By Frank Coyle & Pro Scouting Staff of Draft Insiders’ Digest – 27th Season