2018 CPGM Interactive Mock Draft Grades – AFC South
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Jacksonville Jaguars @countryboyruff
One of the busiest teams during the 2018 CPGM Interactive Draft, Jacksonville had no interest in resting on its laurels despite nearly being crowned Conference Champions in 2017. A flurry of transactions resulted in Jacksonville selecting/acquiring: offensive guard Will Hernandez (36th overall), defensive tackle DaShawn Hand (61st overall), quarterback Mike White (69th overall), tight end Hayden Hurst (72nd overall), edge rusher Jeff Holland (90th overall) and a new starting quarterback Eli Manning. The Jags ultimately traded out of the first round and shipped Blake Bortles, recently acquired Marcell Dareus and Dante Fowler out of town in the process. Initially I thought the Jaguars did an “ok” job but the more and more I evaluated their moves and selections the more I began to believe that Duval has a lot to be excited about. I will admit Dante Fowler is a favorite of mine and I’m not a fan of trading young players that demonstrate the ability to get to the passer. However, Yannick Ngakoue, thought to be solely a pass rush specialist when he was selected out of Maryland actually has turned himself into an every down player. Jeff Holland did a good job of replacing Carl Lawson’s production with 10 sacks in 2017 for the Auburn Tigers and should slide into that pass rush specialist role vacated by Fowler. Dareus bolstered an otherwise disappointing run defense but was relegated to a two down role. DaShawn Hand is a younger, cheaper alternative that can fulfill a similar role. Even as we watch Eli Manning’s skills continue to erode he’s an immediate upgrade to Blake Bortles as far as I am concerned. Mike White put up big numbers at Western Kentucky and acquitted himself fairly well during the 2018 Senior Bowl. I think he is more of an early Day 3 prospect but has some upside and will serve as under-study to Eli Manning. Tight end Hayden Hurst is the “old man” in this draft class (will turn 25 in August) but perhaps his age/experience will mitigate the learning curve at his position as he translates to the NFL level. At any rate he provides the Jags with a level of athleticism at tight end that Duval has never witnessed. And then there is Will Hernandez, also known as “Big Nasty” a first round talent, offering tremendous value in the second round. He will now form a formidable trio in the interior of the Jaguars’ offensive line as he and free agent acquisition Andrew Norwell will flank center Brandon Linder. Based on CPGM’s 2018 Top 50 Draft Board, Hernandez is the 43rd ranked prospect but if you were to ask the CPGM Front Office where he ranks today he’d be substantially higher. Really strong performance by the Jags.
CPGM Juice’s Grade: B+
Tennessee Titans @iduck14
The Titans didn’t move one iota in the draft and landed Vita Vea at Pick #25. Vea is the 5th best player in the class according to the CPGM Top 50 Draft Board. Enough said. In the second and third rounds Tennessee selected edge/linebacker Uchenna Nwosu and wide receiver Deon Cain respectively. Nwosu fits a need and flashes from time to time but lacks consistent production. He possesses the requisite athleticism to play in space but leaves something to be desired when asked to rush the passer which is what Tennessee needs to improve. At a minimum Nwosu brings some much needed speed and athleticism to the Titans’ front seven. Cain is a personal favorite of mind. He suffers from an occasional lapse in concentration and served primarily as a vertical threat but I like what he does after the catch and believe his best football is still ahead of him. He was overshadowed by Mike Williams in 2016 and the quarterback play in 2017 wasn’t very good. Should he have stayed in school an additional year to work on his craft? Probably. But without knowing his personal situation I’m not going to knock him for taking the leap to the league. That being said I expect him to push Rishard Matthews as soon as this season.
CPGM Juice’s Grade: B-
Houston Texans @s1rdr3w (CPGM Drew)
Houston had no picks in the first two rounds as they pushed their chips into the middle of the table to land their whale, Deshaun Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft. But with three picks in the third round the Texans looked to add some depth and potential starters to their roster. Royce Freeman clearly was a GM favorite (see here) considering that the Texans have both Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman on the roster along with substantial questions marks along their offensive line. Freeman is a talent and the value was good but Houston didn’t address the offensive line at all which was a must in my opinion. With their subsequent third round selections the Texans selected two Big 10 defensive backs in cornerback Nick Nelson of Wisconsin and safety Marcus Allen out of Penn State. Unfortunately, Nelson suffered a torn meniscus during a private workout but that didn’t stop the Texans from grabbing the former Badger. Assuming Nelson returns to form he will likely be a part of the Texans sub-packages and could work his-self into a starting role as soon as 2017 considering his all-around ability. Long speed was a question mark heading into the combine but a strong 4.52 40 yard dash has alleviated most of those concerns given how physical he is. He’ll need to do a better job trusting his technique to avoid being penalized as much as he was in college. As for Allen he isn’t exactly your modern day safety in terms of interchangeable guys but he projects as a classic strong safety that should be a force on special teams, and against the run given his tendency to find the ball; a Barry Church type player. He should see playing time as a nickel/dime linebacker early in his career. The Texans did a fair job adding some youth to a maligned/aging secondary but should have moved Lamar Miller if they had planned on taking Royce Freeman at the top of the third round. Failing to protect the franchise (Watson) by adding a starting caliber offensive lineman in the draft torpedoes this class for me.
CPGM Juice’s Grade: C-
Indianapolis Colts @CPGMHeadley
Indianapolis’ dearth of talent on either side of the ball particularly along the line of scrimmage virtually necessitated that the Colts add draft picks to their coffers. They didn’t manage to find a taker for the 6th overall pick but opted for safety Derwin James a freak athlete with enormous upside. James is the 7th overall prospect on CPGM’s Top 50 Board. His versatility, high floor and immense ceiling warrant a Top 10 selection considering he’s only scratching the surface of his abilities having been misused far too frequently in college. In an effort to add some pass rushing to a relatively limited class Indianapolis traded 1 of 3 second round picks to the Jaguars for the aforementioned Dante Fowler and a 3rd round pick that eventually became linebacker Darius Leonard of South Carolina State; a mini coup in my humble opinion. Fowler brings some legitimacy to the Colts pass rush which was virtually non-existent a season ago and Darius Leonard could very well lead the Colts in tackles given his ability to get sideline-to-sideline. Prior to the Leonard selection Indy netted defensive tackle Maruice Hurst widely thought to be a first round prospect prior to medicals at the combine identifying a heart condition. The reward warrants the risk here as Hurst is without question the best 3-technique in the class. In the middle of the 2nd round the Colts continued to bolster the trenches by selecting center James Daniels. Daniels is a technician with excellent hand usage. Some believe he’s a first round talent. I think he was selected where he belongs. Finally Ronald Jones a favorite of the Colts GM (see here) rounds out Indy’s class. I like Jones a lot. He doesn’t complement Marlon Mack per se but they are both talented and fairly interchangeable. Both will be fun to watch on that turf in Indy. Strong haul top to bottom by the Colts.
CPGM Juice’s Grade: A-
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