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2018 NFL Mock Draft: Imagining how the dominoes would fall if Browns land first two picks

The Browns have a chance to land the top two picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, a not-far-fetched scenario John Breech explained earlier this week. Seriously, it could happen.

Welcome to your new job, John Dorsey. No pressure. Time to get some “real players.”

Obviously, below is not the current draft order. 

The Browns have a chance to land the top two picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, a not-far-fetched scenario John Breech explained earlier this week. Seriously, it could happen.

Welcome to your new job, John Dorsey. No pressure. Time to get some “real players.”

Obviously, below is not the current draft order. 

 

1. Cleveland Browns

Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Browns GM John Dorsey has the reputation as an old-school “football guy.” That indicates to me that he’ll go with the traditional pocket passer with the first overall pick. Rosen has a clean delivery and is typically impressive within the confines of the tackles as a thrower.


2. Cleveland Browns from Texans

Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. For as much as many Browns fans would probably despise this, I think the best option in this crazy scenario would be Cleveland trading down a few spots to add an extra pick or two. But staying put, Dorsey grabs the mammoth left tackle to protect his quarterback as his team begins a new era. 


3. New York Giants

Sam Darnold, QB, USCTop two quarterbacks stay the same. Darnold has played well at a high-profile program for two seasons, so he’s gotten a head start on the immense spotlight that comes with being the signal-caller for the Giants. New Yorkers will love the hard-nosed playing style of Darnold, who consistently demonstrated his toughness at USC.


4. Indianapolis Colts

Connor Williams, OT, Texas. The Colts have a fair amount of needs, but this is the best need-prospect match at this point. Williams has All-Pro upside as a pass-blocker, and with Andrew Luck hoping to return in 2018, that upside is vital for Indianapolis.

 

5. San Francisco 49ers

Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. With Sutton, Marquise Goodwin, and Pierre Garcon, the 49ers will have a desired blend of size and skill sets at the receiver position for Jimmy Garoppolo. Sutton has true No. 1 receiver talent, and his presence will elevate the efficiency of Goodwin and Garcon. 


6. Chicago Bears

Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, AlabamaThe Bears would like to go offense in Round 1, and I’ll assume they have their eyes on Sutton. With him gone, they flip to defense to round out their underrated defensive backfield with Fitzpatrick, a do-everything cornerback/safety hybrid with the length and fluidity to cover and a mastery-level understanding of how to get home as a blitzer.


7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. The Buccaneers would probably lean toward a cornerback here. With Fitzpatrick off the board, they address what will help the secondary — pass-rush. Chubb isn’t a Joey Bosa prospect, yet the NC State isn’t far away from where Bosa was coming out of Ohio State. This fills a need a premium position.


8. Cincinnati Bengals

Derwin James, S, Florida State. With James and George Iloka, the Bengals would suddenly have two enormous, versatile safeties on their defense. The two can rotate their responsibilities from play-to-play, which would help to cause confusion for opposing quarterbacks.

 

9. Denver Broncos

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. For this mock, let’s assume John Elway can’t lure Kirk Cousins, Tyrod Taylor or big fish Andrew Luck to Denver. So he makes this pick, fully understanding the controversy it’ll cause, especially after taking Paxton Lynch in Round 1 of the 2016 draft.

10. New York Jets

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Despite a heavy recent investment at the quarterback position over the past five drafts, the Jets still need one. Jackson has transcendent potential but certainly comes with some risk. Gang Green’s willing to roll the dice because of Jackson’s amazing talent. 

11. Arizona Cardinals

Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. Miller is a huge left tackle prospect with long arms and outstanding athleticism for the position. He flourished protecting Rosen at UCLA and will be a foundational piece of the next phase of the Bruce Arians era with the Cardinals.


12. Oakland Raiders

Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Time to celebrate in the Raiders draft room. Smith is clearly the linebacker with the most game-changing ability in the 2018 draft due to his play-recognition skills, athleticism, and speed-to-power capabilities.

 

14. Miami Dolphins

Braden Smith, OG, AuburnFirst “surprise” of the night, but Smith has an impressive resume as one of Auburn’s long-time guards who had an excellent career against top competition. He’s well-versed in the zone and power run schemes, giving Adam Gase plenty of options on offense.

15. Los Angeles Chargers

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. Despite being a redshirt senior with loads of experience, the Chargers, a team without a variety of roster holes, makes this pick with eyes well into the future. A pure pocket quarterback, Rudolph can learn from Philip Rivers for a year or two before taking over in Los Angeles.


16. Green Bay Packers

James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. Back-to-back selections for the ‘Pokes. With Jordy Nelson in the twilight of his illustrious career, the Packers reload at wideout with Washington, who has a wonderful blend of possession receiver and deep threat skills.


17. Baltimore Ravens

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Based on the hype, another relative tumble for Barkley, a drop only precipitated by the position he plays and the depth of this draft class, not his overall talent. The Ravens would be ecstatic to land the insanely gifted runner here.

 

18. Detroit Lions

Maurce Hurst, DT, Michigan. The Lions might have a more glaring need at defensive end, but any type of pass-rush improvement would be greatly helpful to Teryl Austin’s unit. Hurst has a game reminiscent of Geno Aktins.


19. Seattle Seahawks

Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSASeattle isn’t afraid to make an eye-opening first-round pick, and selecting a prospect from the University of Texas-San Antonio would raise some eyebrows. But at 6-7 and 250 pounds with a long reach and explosiveness, Davenport fits the profile the Seahawks love.


20. Dallas Cowboys

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Ridley would give the Cowboys the deep threat they desperately need on offense, thereby opening up the underneath game for Dak Prescott to methodically move the ball down the field. 

21. Tennessee Titans

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma. Dick LeBeau doesn’t shy away from multiple fronts on defense, but his scheme has 3-4 roots. Okoronkwo is the premier 3-4 outside linebacker in this class, and in Tennessee, on a defense already boasting some talented players, he can make a big impact right away.

 

22. Buffalo Bills

Vita Vea, DT, Washington. Two consecutive weeks with this pairing. Vea can help a defense in many ways. He’ll simply eat blocks and clog lanes due to his size at 6-5 and around 340 pounds, but he’s not a stationary nose tackle. The Washington star flashes high-caliber hand use and has twitchy athleticism relative to his massive frame.


23. Atlanta Falcons

Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma. Tight ends in Round 1 are usually seen as a luxury pick. The Falcons are in a luxury-pick situation, and, actually, could use a reliable pass-catcher over the middle. 

24. New Orleans Saints

Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas. If there’s one position in which the Saints clearly need an upgrade on defense it’s the linebacker spot. Jefferson is athletic and matured into being a force against the run during his tenure at Texas.

25. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs

Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State. With the top quarterbacks unavailable, the Bills go receiver. With Ateman and Kelvin Benjamin, the Bills would have two matchup nightmare boundary wideouts capable of coming down with the ball even in tight coverage. 

 

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Hard to change this pick. McGlinchey can get exposed against speed rushers but is ready to dominate as a run-blocker, the latter part of that sentence is music to the ears of Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville.


27. Los Angeles Rams

Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa. The Rams have been unbelievably efficient — particularly compared to where they were a year ago — on offense in 2017. More secondary talent would help the defense, and Jackson has everything needed to be a No. 1 cornerback at the NFL level … size, toughness, plus athleticism and ball skills.

28. Carolina Panthers

Deontay Burnett, WR, USC. There are many similarities between Burnett and 2017 second-round pick Curtis Samuel. However, Burnett is the more polished receiver and can provide legitimate over-the-top speed right away in Mike Shula’s offense.


29. Pittsburgh Steelers

Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. Had Alexander not been banged up in this final season at Louisville, there’s a good chance he would’ve had a monster year. His smoothness in coverage coupled with his awareness when the ball is in the air make him a top-flight cornerback prospect in this class.

 

30. Minnesota Vikings

Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan. It’s not easy finding big holes on the Vikings roster. While the offensive line has improved this season from where it recently had been, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Okorafor has the size, athleticism, and length to be a steady left tackle for a decade in Minnesota.


31. New England Patriots

Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. For as gifted as Jefferson is at linebacker, Edmunds, at 6-4 and around 250 pounds, might have more inherent talent and twitchiness. Bill Belichick understands the importance of quality linebacker play in today’s NFL.


32. Philadelphia Eagles

Bryce Love, RB, Stanford. Yes, the Eagles have Jay Ajayi and have gotten quality contributions from Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement. They just can’t pass on Love here, an electric home-run hitter with the ability to pick up yardage between the tackles when blocking isn’t perfect.

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Different goalie, different results?

Sep 23, 2017
0

Goaltending is a premium position in hockey.  At the final buzzer, no matter how well a team plays in front of him/her, if the goalie isn’t solid, a loss will be the outcome.  That’s why teams make every effort to have a high level tandem in between the pipes, and they’re willing to pay dearly for it.  This year there were some big names shifting about, mostly via free agency, but also through trade, and it stands to reason that the acquiring teams believe they improved at the position by making their transaction.  Let’s break it down:

Ben Bishop | TB to DAL | UFA – 6yrs | $29.5m | $4.92m/yr cap

NHLFans.ca:  Things certainly are bigger in Texas these days!  Ben Bishop comes in on a nice deal that will see him through to retirement.  Dallas desperately needed an upgrade over last year’s duo of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen.  Although blame for Dallas’ terrible season can’t be squarely excused away by blaming the Finnish red light re-treads, they weren’t singlehandedly winning any games either.

Bishop buys the team time to grow a prospect into a position to take over after the then 37-year old Bishop retires.  I see his injury history stopping him from playing beyond that.  Now, I believe the Stars would have been much better even without this move, but it won’t hurt them!  I believe the Stars are a top-3 team in the Western Conference this season, having made a fistful of significant additions (Bishop, Hanzal, Radulov).  Bishop won’t be winning any Vezinas, but he may enter the top-5 in voting!

GRADE: B+

Scott Darling | CHI to CAR | UFA – 4yrs | $16.6m | $4.15m/yr cap

NHLFans.ca:  The Hurricanes had a past-prime Cam Ward and a disaster aptly named Eddie Lack tending net for them last year.  Scott Darling earned his step up to a starting job in the NHL with repeatedly solid performances stepping in for Corey Crawford in Chicago.  This seems like almost a perfect fit!

Carolina will provide Darling with a pretty good, young defence, so he can ease into the heavier workload with a little more confidence.  Despite this addition, I believe Carolina will be a long way from making the playoffs, and think a better landing spot for Darling may have been the Arizona Coyotes, but alas, revisionist history…  Good value signing for the Canes, and a good start for Darling to showcase himself for his next big payday.

GRADE: B

Mike Smith | Trade – ARI | 2yrs. rem. | $5.67m/yr cap

NHLFans.ca:  Calgary gave up a lot to acquire the veteran out of the desert.  Chad Johnson (who played well enough last season, but not elite starter level), prospect Brandon Hickey and a third-round pick (cond.) were the parts sent to Arizona, and Calgary thinks they have the missing piece to get them deep into the postseason.  I have a really hard time putting my finger on this one, because Arizona is one of the toughest teams to figure out.

You can bet that Smith will face fewer shots per game, which can be good or bad, depending on the goalie.  Dominik Hasek was lights-out when he faced 40+ in a game, but was fairly pedestrian when he was facing 20-25 per game in Detroit.  How will Smith be with one of the most airtight defences in the NHL in front of him?

My belief is that the expectations are too high, and that the Flames will be fighting for wild card positioning from the word “go”.  Smith won’t be the reason if they do end up in the playoffs, it will be improved scoring (should that happen).

GRADE: C- (I believe this is the most likely to be a non-difference-maker)

Marc-André Fleury | Drafted – VGK | 2yrs. rem. | $5.75m/yr cap

NHLFans.ca:  The Vegas Golden Knights actually have a very good goaltending duo in Fleury and Calvin Pickard.  Well drafted by GM George McPhee, Fleury will be the reason the Golden Knights win on most nights when they do.  Fleury wasn’t left exposed by Pittsburgh because he is not a good goalie.  He was left available because they had too much money tied up in Fleury to let him be their backup to upstart Matt Murray.  Vegas is not the worst team at this position by any stretch, and I think Fleury will have a very good year (skewed to the talent in front of him).

GRADE: A

 

That’s all for now!

DR

 
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