Hindsight is 20/20… Let’s Re-draft the 2018 NFL Draft!
1. Cleveland Browns – Baker Mayfield
The Browns got it right with Mayfield. It was an eye opening selection at the time as most folks had Sam Darnold as their QB1 but Mayfield’s competitiveness and ability to lead is exactly what the Browns needed. The only setback for Mayfield in his rookie season was a guy named Hue Jackson. The former Browns Head Coach not only stunted his quarterback’s growth in the first half of the season but held the team back from a potential playoff berth. Mayfield was red hot once Freddie Kitchens took over the offensive play-calling to a tune of 68.4 completion percentage, 2254 yards, and 19 touchdowns in the final eight games of the season. The Browns future outlook is bright with Kitchens as the new head coach and what appears to be their first franchise quarterback since Bernie Kosar in the 80’s.
2. New York Giants – Saquon Barkley
There’ve been a lot of questions surrounding the Giants selection of Barkley. Should they have drafted a quarterback? What about the best offensive lineman in the draft, Quenton Nelson? It’s hard to argue against the offensive rookie of the year as he totaled over 2000 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns. The running back position has been devalued recently as teams are opting to select their backs later in the draft and use a committee approach but Barkley is a different kind of play-maker that can make your quarterback and offensive line better. With the sixth pick in this upcoming draft, the Giants can draft a young quarterback with one of the best running backs in the NFL to lean on.
3. New York Jets – Quenton Nelson (Traded Up)
Here is where things get shaken up a bit. The Jets traded up to the third spot pre-draft with the Indianapolis Colts in order to position themselves to get a potential franchise quarterback. Kudos to the Colts for snagging three additional second round picks and getting their guy Nelson at pick six instead of staying put and getting him at three. Big Coup!!! The actual selection for the Jets was Sam Darnold but they may have been better served with selecting Nelson and improving their offensive line. We at CPGM always state that the offensive line is the most important positional group in football. To get the best lineman we’ve ever graded and our number 1 overall prospect in the entire 2018 draft would have been a home run pick for the Jets. I know the quarterback position is ‘KING’ but based on Darnold’s play in his rookie season and history of decision-making, I am not sure if he will ever shake that turnover gene. A new head coach in Adam Gase may be the cure but we know Nelson will be a perennial All-Pro for the next ten years.
4. Cleveland Browns – Bradley Chubb
This is the point in the draft where probably most people inlcuding myself were screaming at the T.V. for the Browns to select Bradley Chubb. They opted for Denzel Ward instead and although Ward played well when healthy, Chubb opposite a Myles Garrett would have been lethal. The best way to slow down a pass happy league where the rules are set up to give the offensive side of the ball an advantage is to get after the quarterback. Teams can easily game plan around one dominant pass rusher but they can’t chip/double team both guys on the edges on a consistent basis. Chubb finished an impressive rookie season with 12 sacks (4th most all-time for a rookie) and will be a force to reckon with for years to come. He gets it done as a pass rusher and a run defender.
5. Denver Broncos – Josh Rosen
In this redo of the draft the Broncos didn’t get an opportunity for a lay-up with the selection of Chubb, so why not draft the best quarterback available. Case Keenum received a big $18 million payday annually from the Broncos after catapulting the Vikings to a NFC Championship game, but the return on investment didn’t materialize quite how John Elway planned. Keenum’s 18 passing touchdowns to 15 interceptions leaves the Broncos in an all too familiar situation since Peyton Manning retired, needing a quarterback. Rosen who had his own struggles in Arizona was in a dire situation behind a poor offensive line, suffering a dearth of weapons, and a terrible coaching staff headlined by offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. I firmly believe Rosen will be an ascending quarterback and the face of the Cardinals future. Meanwhile, the Broncos continue their search for answers at the quarterback position.
6. Indianapolis Colts – Darius Leonard (Traded Down)
I mentioned the Colts’ grand larceny in the Jets pick above. They were able to acquire Quenton Nelson and the steal of the draft Darius Leonard in the 2nd round. In the re-draft they weren’t as lucky so they took no chances by selecting Leonard at number 6. Leonard turned around the Colts “marshmellowy” defense and led the league in tackles which earned him the Defensive Rookie of the Year award and a first-team All-Pro selection. Not only did Leonard rack up huge tackling production, but he also affected the game by sacking the quarterback seven times, forcing four fumbles, and intercepting two passes. If it wasn’t for Aaron Donald’s performance this season, Leonard could have contended for best defensive player in the entire league. The Colts future is bright with Leonard patrolling the middle of the field.
7. Buffalo Bills – Josh Allen (Traded Up)
If a team trades up inside the top 10 in the NFL Draft, more than likely it’s for a quarterback. The Bills were no different trading up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to select Allen. If the Bucs stayed put at seven then my pick would’ve been star safety Derwin James, but trading down a couple spots was the right move for the Buccaneers as trading back with a QB needy team is smart money mainly because teams will overpay. Back to the Bills and Allen. Some may question if Allen will ever develop into a quarterback that wins from the pocket and those concerns are valid. But I stayed with this selection as Allen’s time as starter gave the Bills some renewed excitement that I haven’t seen a quarterback do for them in a long time. His athleticism is Cam Newton-esque and I’ve seen less talented passers win football games. Time will tell if he is the “franchise” quarterback for the Bills but for now he gives the fan base some hope and optimism that a brighter future is ahead.
8. Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith
It was a slow start for the former Georgia standout as Smith battled injury and a contract dispute causing him to start camp late. Once Smith was entrenched as a starting inside linebacker for the Bears, alongside Danny Trevathan, he was lights out showcasing his sideline to sideline speed and physicality. The teleporter as we dubbed him in the draft process will be an integral part of a Bears team that has ballers on every level of the defense. The Monsters of the Midway are back with a new inside linebacker that opposing teams will fear just like his predecessors before him; Urlacher, Singletary, Butkus…