We are less than two weeks away from the 2018 NFL Draft! For some die-hard fans, the Draft is just about as exciting as the Super Bowl. We wait for it with the same or even more anticipation. A month ago, I presented you with my first Mock Draft of the year.
However, the NFL changes week after week. Heck, just last Friday the Cowboys cut veteran WR Dez Bryant in the middle of April.
In this edition, four of the top quarterbacks find their NFL teams in the top five picks. There's one mock trade (and only one) since I didn't want to exaggerate and some surprises.
I hope you enjoy this one, and as always, let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or tweet me @PepoR99 and let's talk football!
R1/1 - CLE: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
It's time for the Browns to prove they're a serious NFL franchise and the first step to do so is actually taking a franchise quarterback with the first overall pick. Sam Darnold and his play-making ability will provide just that for Cleveland.
R1/2 - NYG: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Giants will either stay put and take a quarterback or trade their pick for a lot of value. In this mock draft, they take their QB of the future in Josh Rosen and take advantage of a unique opportunity. They won't be drafting this high anytime soon.
R1/3 - NYJ: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Mayfield has been underrated by many, mainly because of his height and his "cocky attitude." But he's too talented. This guy will prove everyone wrong playing for the Jets. He'll do an excellent job in the pros. His arm isn't talked about as much as it should, to be honest.
R1/4 - CLE: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Taking a running back at 4 may be a questionable call. But it's worked out for the Jaguars and for the Cowboys lately. Barkley might be an even better prospect. With a rookie QB, adding Barkley would take a lot of pressure off of his shoulders. Barkley is too good to pass on him.
R1/5 - DEN: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Broncos added Case Keenum in free agency, but we won't see the same guy we saw playing in Minnesota a year ago. After the Paxton Lynch pick, Denver will be trying to make up for their mistakes by taking the best arm in the Draft. Allen has a long way to go, but has the potential to become one of the best QBs in the league.
R1/6 - IND: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State
The Colts have an entire roster to rebuild. Switching to a 4-3 defense makes picking the best pass rusher in the Draft a no-brainer at this point. His impact will be felt from Day 1. Chubb heads to Indy, as do the three second-round picks the Colts took from the Jets.
R1/7 - TB: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Fitzpatrick is a cornerback in some analysts' boards and a safety in others. The Bucs need both. One of the best defensive prospects in the Draft is taken by Tampa Bay and will make his presence felt on the field from whichever spot he's put.
R1/8 - CHI: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
If Barkley isn't the best prospect in the Draft, then it's Nelson. After adding some weapons for Trubisky via free agency, now they draft a blue chip player to protect him and to give a spark to the running game. Nelson's talent is ridiculous.
R1/9 - SF: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia
Tremaine Edmunds is a rangy linebacker and with just 19 years of age, he presents a very high upside for the 49ers and a team who doesn't know what will happen with Reuben Foster. Edmunds' ceiling is very high and he can become one of the game's finest in just a matter of time.
R1/10 - BUF: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
(Trade Alert: Raiders trade 10th pick for the Bills' 12th and 22nd picks)
It might be a little too soon for Lamar Jackson, but it's a quarterback needy league. With the Dolphins sitting at 11, the Bills pull the trigger on Jackson and find their QB of the future.
R1/11 - MIA: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Dolphins may target a QB here, but the top guys are already gone. Roquan Smith is a game-changer on the defense side of things. Miami needs a lot of help in the roster, and the first guy they get is Smith.
R1/12 - OAK: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
(Trade Alert: Bills trade 12th and 22nd pick for the Raiders' 10th pick)
Denzel Ward is arguably the best cornerback in the class and the Raiders are able to steal him with the 12th pick and still hold another first rounder.
R1/13 - WAS: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Derwin James is easily a top-10 talent but somehow the Redskins steal him at 13 and get a difference maker in the backfield. James doesn't get past the top 15.
R1/14 - GB: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
Harold Landry could be in the top 10 conversation, but a 2017 injure-plagued season took a hit at his draft stock. Still, he's one of the best rushers in the Draft and finds his way into the 14th overall pick to Green Bay.
R1/15 - ARI: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
Arizona could be looking for a quarterback, but just like Miami, it's too late for them in this scenario. I'm higher than most when it comes to Mike Hughes. The Cardinals draft their future starting CB from Central Florida. Hughes will be a very good CB1 in his career.
R1/16 - BAL: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Calvin Ridley falls all the way to the #16 pick to the Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco gets a receiver who is always open on tape. Ridley, despite being 24 years old, will be a great receiver in the NFL. He's so good.
R1/17 - LAC: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Chargers find McGlinchey with the 17th pick and don't even think about stealing him. I wouldn't b e surprised if some of the tackles in this draft start going earlier than expected. The Chargers keep adding talent to the OL.
R1/18 - SEA: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Josh Jackson at 18 is a steal for the Seahawks. They're rebuilding their team in unexpected fashion and Josh Jackson could be the foundation for another group of talented cornerbacks in Seattle.
R1/19 - DAL: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Before the Cowboys released Dez Bryant, this wasn't the pick. But Dallas is in a position in which taking a wide receiver in the first two rounds is a must. Courtland Sutton is the pick since he represents the best option to play as an "X" receiver for Dallas. If they'd rather have Hurns play Hurns at "X", DJ Moore is a name to keep an eye on.
I like this pick for Dallas, let me know what you guys think in the comments section below or shoot me a tweet @PepoR99!
R1/20 - DET: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
Marcus Davenport may be raw, but he has all the potential he needs to become a quality DE in the NFL. The Lions have Ezekiel Ansah but can still use another edge rusher in their defense.
R1/21 - CIN: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Bengals were probably planning on taking an offensive guard here, but Vea at 21 is a steal. Cincinnati, holding the 46th overall pick may look for offensive line help later in the Draft.
R1/22 - OAK: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
After adding Denzel Ward, the Raiders now find a starting linebacker in Rashaan Evans. Evans still needs to work on some things, but should still be taken in the first round.
R1/23 - NE: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Patriots lost Nate Solder in free agency and are left with a big hole at tackle. They find Connor Williams late in the first. Williams is a better prospect than much give him credit for.
R1/24 - CAR: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Jaire Alexander's stock has risen over the past month and for good reason. The Panthers start fixing their CB position by taking him at 24. Alexander will find success in Carolina.
R1/25 - TEN: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
The Titans find Isaiah Wynn available late in the first and steal the second best guard in the class to keep building a talented offensive line.
R1/26 - ATL: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Da'Ron Payne may end up going earlier than expected, but this time he falls to the Falcons who need help in their front seven. Taking Payne here is excellent value.
R1/27 - NO: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St.
The Saints may want to get the heir to Drew Brees' throne here. However, they get Dallas Goedert as a new weapon for #9 in what could be his last season in the gridiron.
R1/28 - PIT: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Leighton Vander Esch at the end of Day 1 makes a ton of sense, especially for the Steelers who will be looking for a linebacker. Vander Esch may not provide an instant impact, but can become an excellent defensive player after being developed for some time.
R1/29 - JAC: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
The Jaguars need offensive weapons and in this case, it's DJ Moore. Moore is a receiver with safe soft hands and an excellent route runner. Blake Bortles gets help.
R1/30 - MIN: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
The Vikings can go in many different directions here. In this case, they decide to draft Hernandez in order to protect their big free agency investment known as Kirk Cousins. If they find him at 30, it's a no-brainer.
R1/31 - NE: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Tom Brady is awesome. But no TB12 method will save him from time. It's time to look for his future replacement and Mason Rudolph could be just that in a couple of years.
R1/32 - PHI: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
The Eagles will be a very powerful team in 2018 after winning the Super Bowl last season. Taking a RB like Derrius Guice would take their offense to the next level.
Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.
NAME: Stanley Morgan Jr.
POSITION: Wide Receiver
CONFERENCE: Big Ten
JERSEY: No. 8
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
"Where I come from ... I had to block for Leonard Fournette, I played on the same team as Tyrann Mathieu," Morgan said. "It's just guys like that around me that made me want to work harder, just to keep going and give it my all. It's something that I was born with."
Stanley Morgan Jr. was a consistent and productive wide receiver during his time at Nebraska. He projects as a "Z" receiver in the NFL, but is probably better suited to play in the slot because of his skill set. Might be the best route runner in the entire 2019 WR draft class.
There's no questioning his toughness and competitiveness. His passion for the game shows up on tape. Unafraid to carry his routes across the middle of field. Possess good separation ability due to his precise route running and his ability to change directions on a dime. Has an understanding of how to temper his routes as well and has a way of lulling defensive backs to sleep and catching them off guard.
Has soft natural hands and shows good technique at the catch point. Shows the ability to make contested catches. Large catch radius. Excellent catch focus and body control. Shows the ability to climb the ladder and high point passes. Unfazed with DBs draped on him and shows good spatial awareness along the sideline. Has a little wiggle to be a threat after the catch, but doesn't have homerun ability.
Stanley Morgan Jr. could be labeled as "just a guy" as a wide receiver prospect. There is nothing really special about his game and he has just average speed and athleticism. Despite his productivity and consistency at Nebraska, he may have already reached his peak.
Morgan may be nothing more than a slot receiver in the NFL. He doesn't possess the necessary speed to be a threat down the field and doesn't show a lot of burst out of his breaks. Average speed will limit his big-play ability as well. Struggles to beat press coverage, which could cause cornerbacks to sit on underneath routes.
Doesn't offer anything on special teams. Had a handful of opportunities at Nebraska as a kick and punt returner with very little success. Doesn't show a lot of functional strength on film. Lack of strength and power limits his blocking ability in the passing game. Arrested for marijuana possession in May 2017.
Although Stanley Morgan Jr. has the ability to play the "Z" position with the Dallas Cowboys, they would likely move him into the slot full-time as Cole Beasley's replacement now that he's officially moved on to the Buffalo Bills. He may not have the same kind of change of direction skills as Beasley, but Morgan's precise route running ability immediately makes him a threat in the Cowboys aerial attack as a rookie.
Morgan unfortunately doesn't offer much, if anything, on special teams. He returned a few kickoffs and punts during his time at Nebraska, but had marginal success. He will probably never be more than a WR3 and might have already reached his peak as a prospect, but he is the type of WR who can have a long career in the NFL. As a potential mid-round draft pick he is an intriguing slot option for the Cowboys, but probably won't help fans forget about No. 11 anytime soon.
Cowboys Draft Dilemma: Deebo Samuel (Rd. 2) vs. Stanley Morgan Jr. (Rd. 4)
There are a lot of fans around Cowboys Nation who are hoping former South Carolina Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel is still on the board when the Dallas Cowboys are on the clock in the second-round with the 58th overall selection. Samuel is the dream replacement for Cole Beasley for a lot of us, but would likely be a luxury this early in the draft instead of a need.
I don't want to rain on the parade for all you Deebo Samuel fans, myself included, but I don't know if the Cowboys would pull the trigger on a WR that early. This is especially true considering there is someone who I believe compares favorably to Samuel and could be available at least two rounds later. In case you haven't figured out yet, I'm talking about former Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.
Deebo Samuel of course is the more hyped WR and is in the running as one of the top five receivers in the 2019 draft class, but Stanley Morgan Jr. shouldn't be considered a consolation prize. These two WRs could be a carbon copy of one another on paper and tested surprisingly similar at the NFL Combine as well.
Don't take my word for it of course. Take a look for yourself…
Stanley Morgan Jr.
|Arm length||31 3/8"||32 3/8"|
|Hand size||10"||9 7/8"|
|20 yard shuffle||4.14||4.13|
|3 cone drill||7.03||6.78|
As you can see from the measurements and the testing, Deebo Samuel and Stanley Morgan Jr. are amazingly similar on paper. The similarities don't end there though. Both players are devastating with the ball in their hands and easily create separation through their route stems.
The only real difference I have seen between the two is Samuel is a little more thickly built and has been more productive as an outside receiver so far in his career. He is also the more powerful of the two, which serves him well in contested catch situations. That's not saying Morgan can't be just as effective as an outside WR. He just wasn't utilized in that manner during his time at Nebraska.
As far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned though, both Samuel and Morgan would be ideal inside/outside WR candidates capable of replacing Cole Beasley in the slot. The only question now is which receiver would the Cowboys prefer?
It's really a tossup if you don't really know these receivers and have never watched them play, but not if you take into consideration what we know about the Dallas Cowboys. They like bargains, which is why I have a hard time believing they wouldn't be bargain shoppers in the 2019 NFL Draft like they have been so far in free agency.
As much as we all love Deebo Samuel and the skill set he would bring to the Cowboys, investing a second-round pick might be too high for Dallas considering they can get a similar player at least two rounds later. Stanley Morgan Jr. is a bargain I just don't think they could pass up.
This is all speculation of course, but it's definitely something to take into consideration when the 2019 NFL Draft gets underway.
Deebo Samuel or Stanley Morgan Jr.? Which receiver would you draft?
Cowboys Draft Target: Mississippi State S Johnathan Abram
NAME: Johnathan Abram
SCHOOL: Mississippi State
JERSEY: No. 38
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
HT: 5' 11 3/8"
|Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Fumbles||Fumbles||Fumbles||Fumbles|
Johnathan Abram, playing for the Bulldogs of Mississippi State University, is considered the hardest hitting safety in college football. He's top NFL prospect, who is projected to be selected in the late 1st to early 2nd round(s) of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Johnathan Abram's biggest strength as a safety prospect is his ability to play around the line of scrimmage as a box safety, which is why he's projected to be a strong safety in the NFL. Possesses the prototypical size for the position. He also has the ability and skill set to play a hybrid safety/linebacker role as well.
Abram is at his best when he's playing downhill and sideline to sideline against the run. His size, strength, and physicality allow him to stack and shed blocks like a linebacker. Aggressive tackler who is always looking to deliver a big hit. Also shows good technique to get his head across the ball carrier's chest while wrapping up to make the tackle.
Shows adequate range and speed in coverage. Is able to flip his hips and redirect to change direction quickly, but there is some stiffness there as well. Has the size and athletic ability to match up with tight ends. Shows an understanding of route recognition. His physicality in the run game carries over into the passing game.
The biggest concern about Johnathan Abram's game is his ability, or lack thereof, in coverage. Whether it's an man or zone coverage, he struggles with his responsibilities and can be eaten alive by receivers who know what they're doing. This doesn't bode well for his transition to the NFL, which has become a heavy passing league.
His aggressive nature will get him into trouble in the passing game. Can be clunky in his transitions against good route runners. Will panic and grab when he's caught out of position, which has generated, or should have, flags being thrown. Lack of desired range will keep him from becoming a deep safety, making him a strong safety only.
Questionable ball skills. Only has two interceptions and 10 pass deflections in his career. Struggles locating the ball and doesn't show instincts or anticipation to jump routes. Can be too aggressive against the run, causing him to over pursue and create cutback lanes.
If the Dallas Cowboys are looking for a hard-hitting strong safety who excels around the line of scrimmage, then Johnathan Abram is their guy. He is a heatseeking missile when playing downhill or sideline to sideline, and would play that Kam Chancellor type role on the backend of Kris Richard's defense. He has outstanding size and speed for the position, and is a more fluid athlete then he's given credit for. More of a "traditional" throwback safety.
Abram unfortunately struggles in coverage, despite showing good range and long speed. He may be nothing more than a box safety or nickel/dime linebacker in the NFL. This could hurt his chances of landing with the Cowboys, especially if they are looking for an interchangeable safety to pair with Xavier Woods. But, if there are looking for that "enforcer" type of player, they'd probably have to take him at 58 in the second-round because it's unlikely he will still be there when they're on the clock in the third-round.
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