We are hours away from what we have all been waiting for, The 2018 NFL Draft! All our mocks, projections and predictions get lit on fire as soon as that first pick is in. The anxiety, social media debating and claims of knowing who’s going where will all cease soon and instead we will be at each other’s throats over who our teams ACTUALY picked after all. Below is how I think the draft will shake out…and I’m probably wrong! Enjoy!
- CLEVELAND BROWNS – BAKER MAYFIELD, QB
The Browns start the Draft with their future Franchise QB. John Dorsey takes the charismatic signal-caller that is most ready to lead a team out of the depths of the NFL. Mayfield will be the spark that lights the fire in this franchise and helps rally their new acquisitions to dawn a new era in Cleveland football. Look for Baker to start behind Tyrod Taylor so he can learn and develop first.
- NEW YORK GIANTS – SAQUAN BARKLEY, RB
GM Dave Gettleman said he wants a “Gold Jacket” guy. Well I think there are two shoe-ins for that in this Draft. Barkley and Quentin Nelson. While the Giants could use the O-Line help, they instead opt for the running back to ease some of the pressure on an aging Eli Manning and help balance out this offense a little more.
- NEW YORK JETS – SAM DARNOLD, QB
The Jets get the cleanest QB prospect in the draft after trading up to the 3rd pick with Indy earlier in the offseason. Darnold’s cool and calm demeanor will be able to handle the pitfalls of the lights and glamour of New York. He also can sit back and learn and develop behind the likes of Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater.
- CLEVELAND BROWNS – BRADLEY CHUBB, DE
With their second pick in the first round the Browns go defense. Chubb is projected to be a force off the edge and pairing him with Myles Garret will have opposing offenses up late at night for years to come.
- BUFFALO BILLS** – JOSH ALLEN, QB
TRADE ALERT! The Buffalo Bills trade their two first round picks to get in the top 10 and select their preferred Quarterback. Josh Allen has a rocket for an arm and is built like brick house. His size and strength are ideal for Buffalo. Allen is a little raw but he can sit behind newly signed AJ McCarron until he’s ready. If he is developed properly, his potential is through the roof.
- INDIANPOLIS COLTS – ROQUAN SMITH, LB
The Colts, whom traded back from the 3rd pick originally with the Jets have two ways to go here, Quentin Nelson or Roquan Smith. I think they take Smith due to his leadership and their need for a defensive leader. The interior O-Line positions are slightly deeper in this class so they take the Georgia linebacker in hopes of turning their defense around.
- TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – DERWIN JAMES, S
The Bucs were not good vs the pass last season and they shore that right up with James. The FSU safety comes in as the dynamo of the defense and looks to help turn that side of the ball into a force.
- CHICAGO BEARS – QUENTIN NELSON, G
The Bears get a new Monster of the Midway in Nelson. This beast of a man is one of the cleanest prospects in the draft with one of the highest ceilings. The Bears need help keeping last year’s top pick, QB Mitch Trubisky, clean and they do so by making the Notre Dame lineman their top pick.
- ARIZONA CARDINALS** – JOSH ROSEN, QB
TRADE ALERT! The Cardinals lost QB Carson Palmer to retirement and signed incumbent Sam Bradford for the upcoming season. Bradford doesn’t have the greatest track record of staying healthy and Arizona’s line is not the best. They have a new Head Coach and they make a move here with San Francisco to get “their guy,” and to get ahead of Miami. Rosen is the most NFL-ready QB in this draft and can throw the ball better than anyone at the position.
- OAKLAND RAIDERS – MIKE MCGLINCHEY, OT
The second era of Jon Gruden in Oakland starts with one of the most solid prospects in the draft. McGlinchey is the top Offensive Tackle in this draft and is as clean as they come in terms of off the field and leadership. Gruden will now have a blue-chip guy protecting Derek Carr for years to come.
- MIAMI DOLPHINS – MINKAH FITZPATRICK, DB
Now, the moment most of us have been waiting for…The Miami Dolphins select Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins have a lot of needs this draft and Minkah fits what they are looking for. They could consider a QB, if Rosen fell or a linebacker like Edmunds but Fitzpatrick offers more schematic flexibility. Able to play Free Safety and Corner, he helps in areas where Miami is weak when it comes to coverages and disguising blitzes as well. Minkah matches up well as a coverage guy vs running backs and tight ends and it allows Reshad Jones and TJ McDonald to play more snaps at their traditional role of “Box Safety.”
- DENVER BRONCOS** – DENZEL WARD, CB
After trading back with Buffalo, Denver takes the best player available on their board, Denzel Ward. They traded away Aqib Talib this offseason and end up landing the #1 cornerback in the draft all the while acquiring more picks.
- WASHINGTON REDSKINS – VITA VEA, DT
The Redskins hold tight and grab the behemoth defensive tackle from University of Washington. Vea is a nimble 6’4 350lb lineman that will help Washington with its run defense. Much needed after the Giants took Barkley and the Eagles and Cowboys already have strong running games.
- GREEN BAY PACKERS – JAIRE ALEXANDER, CB
The Packers took a Cornerback early in the Draft last year and do the same this year. Giving them a bright future in the secondary.
- SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS** – TREMAINE EDMUNDS, OLB
John Lynch and Co. traded back with Arizona due to their desperation for a QB of the future and they still get their guy at 15. Edmunds is ONLY 19 years old and is a freakish athlete that can do almost anything. He improves their pass rush and their sub packages.
- BALTIMORE RAVENS – RASHAAN EVANS, LB
Ozzie Newsome goes back to the well of his Alma Mater and take Rashaan Evans. He will undoubtedly help fill their need for a hard-hitting playmaker at linebacker to pair with another former Bama standout, CJ Mosley.
- LOS ANGELES CHARGERS – DA’RON PAYNE, DT
The Chargers have one of the best pass rush tandems in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, the addition of Payne helps them get more pressure from the middle. Making their front seven that much more formidable for the upcoming season.
- SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – WILL HERNANDEZ, G
The Seahawks are in the process of a roster turnover, losing a lot of big names from their past successes. In round one they take one of the nastier interior lineman in Hernandez. This will help protect Russell Wilson and improve their subpar run game.
- DALLAS COWBOYS – CALVIN RIDLEY, WR
Jerry Jones let Dez Bryant go with leaves a huge hole to fill in the WR department. Ridley, the best all -around WR in the draft will help Dak Prescott develop further.
- DETROIT LIONS – MARCUS DAVENPORT, DE
Lions need to improve their pass rush and Davenport has loads of potential and should contribute right away.
- CINCINATTI BENGALS – LAMAR JACKSON, QB
WOW! Is what I’m expecting when this pick happens. Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis continue to come up short. The Bengals bring in a playmaker at the QB position to challenge Dalton and maybe get him to take his game to another level.
- DENVER BRONCOS** – HAROLD LANDRY, DE
Denver, with their 2nd pick from the Buffalo trade adds an edge rusher to their team. Von Miller can’t do it all by himself and former first round pick Shane Ray has been underwhelming thus far.
- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – LEIGHTON VANDER ESCH, LB
The Pats need help at the Linebacker position and LvE is the best player on the board. Another physical freak with size and speed. Look for him to fit in nicely with the New England culture.
- CAROLINA PANTHERS – DJ MOORE, WR
While it seems like forever, the Panthers are still looking for Receiver help for their Franchise QB, Cam Newton. DJ Moore will try to become that guy.
- TENNESSEE TITANS – FRANK RAGNOW, C/G
The Titans have some needs, especially linebacker but instead of reaching they take the best value with Ragnow. He will help immediately with the interior O-Line play, able to fill in at Center or Guard.
- ATLANTA FALCONS – TAVEN BRYAN, DT
The Falcons need help on the inside of their defensive front, Taven Bryan fits the bill. Big and athletic, the former Florida Gator could be a day 1 starter for Atlanta.
- NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – CHRISTIAN KIRK, WR
The Saints lost Brandin Cooks last season and more recently lost Willie Snead to the Ravens. They added Cam Meredith from the Bears but he is coming off knee surgery. Kirk will fit nicely in the slot for Drew Brees and Co.
- PITTSBURGH STEELERS – SONY MICHEL, RB
The 2nd Running Back is off the board. The Steelers are at an impasse with Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell and he could eventually walk into Free Agency. The Steelers take the UGA product as a 1-2 punch and possible future franchise back.
- JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – DALLAS GOEDERT, TE
The Jags made it all the way to the AFC Championship game with Mercedes Lewis at TE. This offseason they sent him packing and have a hole at the position. With Goedert they get a playmaking TE, in the mold of a Travis Kelce, to help Blake Bortles.
- MINNESOTA VIKINGS – COURTLAND SUTTON, WR
The Vikes add another weapon to their offense to give new QB Kirk Cousins a big, fast target at the WR position to go with Stefon Diggs and Adam Theilen.
- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – MASON RUDOLPH, QB
Did you really think they would mortgage picks for a QB? Belichik and Co. are smarter than all of us, they hang back and take Rudolph to fill the void from when they traded away Jimmy Garoppolo to the 9ers.
- PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – HAYDEN HURST, TE
The Reigning Super Bowl Champs take a Tight End to pair with Zach Ertz after losing Trey Burton in Free Agency to round out the end of Round One.
Tune in to the Draft tonight and watch the drama unfold! Tweet me with your thoughts or opinions @MitchPr0 – Happy Draft Day!
Pillaging the Pats
Taking From the Rich and Giving to the Phins
De facto Patriots Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores is set to take over the big chair in Miami at the conclusion of New England’s 2018 season. Rumored to be coming with Flores are a pair of Pats staffers.
A master of delegation, Bill Belichick constantly maintains the smallest staff in the league. Flores’ intentions are to bring with him Pats’ Consultant Bret Bielema and Wide Receivers Coach Chad O’Shea.
*We’ll have a comprehensive breakdown of the offensive scheme that comes with O’Shea should this move push closer to official. And we’ll do so in the same capacity as the Defensive Crash Course piece.
If Flores is able to extract both Bielema and O’Shea, he’s plundering 16% of the 2018 Patriots’ staff (that includes Flores). Belichick’s coaching tree has yielded less than desirable results in their new destinations, but Flores is described as “different” from the rest.
I’m in Foxboro reporting on Patriots’ game, so I’ve gotten to chat with people about Dolphins target Brian Flores. One thing nobody exactly says but stands out: This is not your usual Belichick disciple. Disciplined, yes. Stoic even. But not as… how should I put this… rigid?
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) January 12, 2019
By now Dolphins fans are tired of lip service. If Flores is the exception to the many before him, great – we’ll find out on Sundays. Flores is, however, off to a unique beginning compared to the lackluster rest.
|Coach (Year Left New England)||Additional Migrating Staffers|
|Charlies Weis (2005 – Notre Dame)||0|
|Romeo Crennel (2005 – Cleveland)||0|
|Eric Mangini (2007 – NY Jets)||0|
|Josh McDaniels (2009 – Denver)||0|
|Bill O’Brien (2012 – Penn State)||0|
|Matt Patricia (2018 – Detroit)||0|
Goose eggs. I didn’t expect that when I began this study, hence the table. Interestingly, the greatest dearth in the Patriots run came between the 2008-2010 seasons. That sentence is a house of cards for two reasons:
1.) It’s sort of hilarious to call two playoff appearances and a combined record of 35-13 a dearth. Those three seasons were the last time New England weren’t participating in the Conference Championship – they’ve qualified for eight consecutive title games since.
2.) It’s something of a strawman to suggest New England’s 14-2 season was cut short at the divisional round because of a loss of coordinators. Not to mention the 2008 season that brought back 11 wins despite starting Matt Cassel for 15 games.
That three-year stretch did come after New England lost its offensive and defensive coordinators, and then Crennel’s replacement at DC (Mangini) two years later. No one is mistaking Flores, Bielema, and O’Shea for Weis, Crennel, and Mangini, but this would be a similar exodus – the difference being all at once opposed to three years.
It’s no secret that Belichick is a ruthless competitor that has no qualms about making enemies. The Patriots have blocked coaches from interviewing for outside positions in the past. Clearly, New England doesn’t block assistants from taking head coaching jobs, but the fact that zero staffers jumped ship might insinuate staffers are held hostage.
Maybe that’s where the idea that Flores is different from the rest comes from. His ability to separate himself from the Pats’ program. His intentions to implement his own initiative that doesn’t try to form as a carbon copy of Belichick’s well-oiled machine in Foxboro.
There are a million ways to splice this, but it all comes back to one conclusion: Brian Flores is beloved by everyone that knows him – even the heartless Hoodie.
Crash Course On 2019 Dolphins Defensive Scheme
For a publication based primarily on analysis, these last two weeks have been a bit of a drag for content. We know the potential names but, as they say, potential doesn’t play on Sundays. In this case, the reference refers to the rumors and names linked to various positions with the Dolphins – rumors, meaning anything but finalized.
Enter Patrick Graham.
It has been reported that Miami, under Head Coach to Be Named Brian Flores, will tag the former Green Bay Packers assistant as the Defensive Coordinator position with the Dolphins in 2019.
Graham, a former staffer alongside Flores in New England, spent the 2018 season coaching the linebackers on Mike Pettine’s defense.
Another name linked to the vacant DC job is Bret Bielema. The former Wisconsin and Arkansas Head Coach spent the 2018 season working hand-in-hand with Bill Belichick as a Consultant to the Head Coach.
And so, from this, we glean some potential defensive structures, schemes and principles that figure to be migrating south this winter along with Flores.
For Flores, Graham, and potentially Bielema, the task is tall. Redirect a unit that ranked 29th in points allowed each of the last two years under the inexperienced watch of Matt Burke.
We start first in New England. After all, Flores will be a master of delegation, but he knows this scheme as well as anyone. Few teams mix up their fronts with more frequency than the New England Patriots.
The prevailing theme among these slight variances of defensive schemes is the “Bear” front. A Bear front simply refers to six defenders up around the line of scrimmage. Two of those players are positioned in a linebacker technique while the other four are down linemen.
This variation of the Bear front is a 3-3 look using three down-linemen, two outside ‘backers shaded off the 9-technique alignment.
— James Light (@JamesALight) February 5, 2018
In this image provided by the Twitter account of James Light, we can see the variations from the nickel and dime packages (yes, Miami will FINALLY be running some dime defense in 2019).
The more traditional look aligns those six players in a 4-2 set.
New England Patriots 4-3 Even Front I just talked about vs Titans. 2 Gap & 1 Gap Hybrid. Very tough to run the ball against. First example is with Tampa 2 Coverage. Second is with 3 Buzz Coverage (SS Buzz). pic.twitter.com/dnskxkrgFp
— James Light (@JamesALight) January 16, 2018
Bret Bielema last coached (on the field) in 2017 at Arkansas, so he’s no stranger to the evolution of the college game and its integration into the NFL. There, Bielema’s defense was based in the traditional 3-4, but the tight splits inside look an awful lot like the classic Bear front (nose tackle over the center and two fellow linemen in a variance between 2i and 4 techniques). Bielema helped institute some of these principles in 2018 – his one season with the Patriots.
The common theme between all of these looks is to prevent specific run plays. The inside run becomes increasingly difficult with all the bodies down around the line of scrimmage. The even bigger factor (both literally and figuratively) is the beef inside.
Vincent Taylor gon’ eat in this new defense. Miami didn’t two-gap at all, but he’s capable. pic.twitter.com/m7nfBdbVoU
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) January 16, 2019
Davon Godchaux has the power to play a true nose or the 2i/3 in the 3-3 Bear Front. Here he is showing us as close to nose alignment dominance as we’ll find from 2018 in this D. pic.twitter.com/Ylc4wt86Di
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) January 16, 2019
Lining up with three down-linemen (pushing 300 pounds a pop) and defending one gap makes it nearly impossible to pull, which means the end of any gap-scheming.
The scheme is also designed to shut down inside zone, but also free up the linebackers with fewer keys and responsibilities. Instead of asking the defensive ends to set the edge on the way to their pass rush (the design of the wide-9) this alignment puts that responsibility on the outside linebackers.
The widened pre-snap alignment gives the linebackers a quicker, unimpeded path to outside runs. Only the Mike Linebacker has to weed through trash and take on blocks in this defense. Raekwon McMillan would likely serve as the Middle Linebacker. McMillan’s instincts and physicality at the point-of-attack would capitalize on the things the former Buckeye does well.
No false steps, clean diagnosis, knifes in and makes the TFL. This new defense wants to free up its LBs, which could make a word of difference for the emerging Raekwon McMillan. pic.twitter.com/MHDja6ebtM
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) January 16, 2019
Then there’s the influence of the actual Titled-Defensive Coordinator, Patrick Graham. Working under Mike Pettine, Graham absorbed the principles of the Bear front and the 46 defense. Pettine spent time with Rex Ryan in Baltimore and with the New York Jets and, as we all know, Rex’s Dad Buddy was the originator of the 46 defense.
The imagine comes from the Patriots defense, but it’s along the lines of what you see in Green Bay with Pettine (and Graham). Four down-linemen condensed to create space off the edge of the linebackers. This means more pass rushing opportunities from linebackers.
Jerome Baker working as an outside rush backer off the weak side – a role he will see plenty of in 2019 in Patrick Graham’s defense. pic.twitter.com/SVzKXuyc8T
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) January 16, 2019
Later, as it inches near official status in the way it has with Graham, we will dive into the potential principles and concepts of Jim Caldwell’s offense in today’s NFL. Much like the Dolphins inclination to bring an experienced consultant along with the young defensive boss, the play on the attack unit is heading in that direction as well.
These consultants figure in as prominent fixtures early in this experimental tenure of young coaches. Caldwell (63-years-old with 41 years of coaching experience) and Bielema (48-years-old with 22 years of coaching experience) can ease the transition to the Flores/Graham grouping along with whomever (possibly Chad O’Shea of the Patriots) Flores chooses as his Offensive Coordinator.
The offensive crash course will be posted just as soon as we have more concrete news.
Miami Dolphins Mock Draft Roundup: A Kyler Murray Sighting
It is that time of year again. Yes, the time of year where we all jump to immediate conclusions, argue and judge each other on projections that, statistically speaking, have a less chance of happening than winning the lottery or being struck by lightning multiple times.
It’s mock draft season! Well – it’s been mock draft season since December 30th but who’s counting…
Let’s get started on what I hope becomes a weekly (or bi-weekly depending on how many updates are made) mock draft roundup for Miami’s 13th overall pick:
Bleacher Report: Greedy Williams – CB – LSU
Greedy Williams, arguably one of the top corners in this draft — right up there with Washington corner Byron Murphy. Someone to pair with all-pro corner, Xavien Howard, is a need for this Miami defense. Drafting or bringing in a reliable #2 corner also allows Miami to play players like Bobby McCain and Minkah Fitzpatrick in their proper roles, slot corner and safety respectively.
Williams is a tall corner, measuring in at 6’3”. Add in the speed he possesses and simply looking at the metrics, he has what you want, physically, for a corner.
CBS Sports: Greedy Williams – CB – LSU
Right off the bat, two mocks having Miami select LSU corner, Greedy Williams. It’s hard to argue against this pick when you watch Williams.
For those looking for a quarterback, this mock draft saw four — yes, four — quarterbacks go before Miami’s selection. In between those selections saw a lot of the top defensive line players taken – both edge and interior. Assuming this is the case, a player like Williams would be a solid pick as far as value and need go.
The Draft Network: Kyler Murray – QB – Oklahoma
Now it’s getting exciting! There isn’t a player in this draft with more hype than Kyler Murray. As written here at Locked on Dolphins, Murray has the answers for this Miami team.
Kyler Murray will now get feedback from NFL scouts regarding his draft position and many scouts estimate he’ll be a 2nd or 3rd round pick. He also has millions from baseball waiting for him. Big decision still looms.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 14, 2019
Some question if he will be available at #13. As Ian Rapoport reports, maybe that idea isn’t so far-fetched. Maybe it’s just early smoke-screens or maybe teams are actually concerned about his size. Make no mistake, despite the round 2 or 3 grade, quarterbacks always find their name called much earlier. Murray will be no exception.
2019 still may be a “rebuilding” year, but I promise drafting Murray would produce a season defined as anything but boring. If you’re hoping for Miami to make a splash in the draft, drafting Murray would certainly be the biggest play.
Drafttek: Dexter Lawrence – DT – Clemson
Dexter Lawrence did not play in Clemson’s final two games, which ultimately resulted in a national championship. Although Lawrence wasn’t on the field, don’t misunderstand the impact Lawrence had on this Clemson team.
Lawrence has the size to play on the interior of a defensive line, coming in at 6’4” and 340 lbs. He isn’t the quickest tackle in the world, but he can stop the run with the best of them and bring interior pressure to disrupt the quarterback. Although I feel this is high for Lawrence and there may be more impactful positional prospects available at this pick (e.g. defensive end Jachai Polite, Montez Sweat), he would be a safe pick who would contribute day 1 for this Miami defense.
Pro Football Focus: Dexter Lawrence – DT – Clemson
This now makes two choices for Clemson star interior defensive lineman, Dexter Lawrence.
What is interesting, in this mock, players like Houston’s Ed Oliver were still available. Oliver, also an interior defensive lineman, has a different skillset than Lawrence, obvious by Oliver coming in measured at 6’3” and 292 lbs.
Is Miami looking for that big man in the middle who doesn’t get moved around (like Minnesota defensive tackle, Linval Joseph), or the quick tackle, more built for pass-rushing (like Los Angeles defensive tackle Aaron Donald). Who knows, but if both are in the board, Miami’s plan for the future at defensive line will be clear with this pick.
SB Nation: Daniel Jones – QB – Duke
It’s no secret Miami is in the market for a quarterback. Although Duke quarterback, Daniel Jones, has potential, this would be a reach. Jones doesn’t seem to have the high ceiling other quarterbacks slotted in the first round do, so why reach on a player who at best may be a slightly better version of Ryan Tannehill? There are other options out there at a cheaper price.
When you thrown in Miami is supposedly eyeing the 2020 draft class for their franchise quarterback with the 2019 draft geared towards fixing the trenches, it only raises more questions at why this may be the pick.
All that said, it’s the NFL draft. Smoke screens are a plenty and no one really knows what a team is going to do and how a player will or won’t turn out. Pulling the trigger on your franchise quarterback is certainly alluring, but why not put your chips all in on a player who has the franchise-altering potential? I just don’t see it with Jones.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on who Miami should take at #13. Follow me on Twitter @skylertrunck and let’s discuss.