Football Christmas has come and gone and now we'll be sitting twiddling our thumbs until rookie mini-camp begins here soon. Today, I'm going to bring you three winner's and three loser's from the 2018 NFL Draft. In this exercise, I'm going to be using my board, as well as positional value, and team needs. We'll first start with the winners of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Chicago Bears Draft
Round 1, 8th Overall - Roquan Smith - Georgia - LB
Round 2, 39th Overall - James Daniels - Iowa - C/OG
Round 2 51st Overall - Anthony Miller - Memphis - WR
Round 4, 115th Overall - Joel Iyiebunwie - Western Kentucky - LB
Round 5, Bilal Nichols - Delaware - DT
Round 6, 181st Overall - Kylie Fitts - Utah - EDGE
Round 7, 224th Overall - Javon Wimms - Georgia - WR
The Chicago Bears had an elite draft and ranked out as my #1 drafting team. The Bears upgraded at linebackers, offensive guard, wide receiver, and defensive line. The Bears absolutely stole Roquan Smith, James Daniels, Anthony Miller, Bilal Nichols, Kylie Fitts, and Javon Wimms. Smith is a day one starter at linebacker and versatile enough to play inside or outside for the Bears.
James Daniels at 39th overall is insane value for a player that some thought was the best center to enter the Draft since Travis Frederick in 2013. Anthony Miller is a player I absolutely love. I had him ranked as my 31st overall player so grabbing him at 51st is a great value. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if Anthony Miller was the best receiver on the Bears roster by the end of the season.
My least favorite of the Bears draft picks was Western Kentucky's LB Joel Iyiebunwie. While he's not a bad player by any means, I thought he was more of a fifth-sixth round player. The Bears came back in the fifth and sixth rounds and added great talent and depth to their defensive line. Bilal Nichols is a versatile defensive tackle that is exceptional at the point of attack when playing the run and can penetrate the pocket as well as a pass rusher. Utah's Kylie Fitts was a guy that showed signs of being a real dominant player in college but battled injuries throughout his career. Fitts was one of the most consistent and dominant pass rushers at the Senior Bowl earlier this year. The Bears capped off their draft by adding another big bodied, physical receiver to the room. Wimms is a tall guy that does an excellent job high pointing the football and being extremely physical at the catch point.
At the end of the day, the Bears got much better on both offense and defense at the end of the 2018 NFL Draft. That's all you can ask from a team with a second-year quarterback, a new coaching staff, and a bright future ahead of them. Ryan Pace should be extremely excited about the future of the Chicago Bears.
Dallas Cowboys Draft
Round 1, 19th Overall - Leighton Vander Esch - Boise State - LB
Round 2. 50th Overall - Connor Williams - Texas - OG
Round 3, 81st Overall - Michael Gallup - Colorado State - WR
Round 4, 116th Overall - Dorance Armstrong - Kansas - EDGE
Round 4, 137th Overall - Dalton Schultz - Stanford - TE
Round 5, 171st Overall - Mike White - Western Kentucky - QB
Round 6, 193rd Overall - Chris Covington - Indiana - LB
Round 6, 208th Overall - Cedrick Wilson - Boise State - LB
Round 7, 236th Overall - Bo Scarbrough - Alabama - RB
After what some would say was a disappointing first round pick, they came back and hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning. Leighton Vander Esch is a raw player but is without a doubt an elite athlete that is continuing to improve as a linebacker. Vander Esch is a good sideline to sideline player and can be a force when he doesn't have to deal with taking on blocks. Vander Esch struggles mightily as a blitzer and getting off blocks due to a lack of play strength.
Connor Williams could possibly be one of the best value picks of the entire draft. Williams is a walk in starter at left guard for the Cowboys and will be a massive upgrade over Jonathan Cooper from last year and free agent acquisition Marcus Martin. Michael Gallup was added late on day two, who was another steal of the draft. Gallup is a really good football player and that's the best way to describe him. He does everything very well. Gallup will walk in and compete for one of the starting receiver positions and is more than capable of being a starting receiver in the NFL in year one.
Dorance Armstrong was a bit of a surprise, but it was one I really liked. Armstrong was extremely productive in 2016 as a pass rusher but saw his production slip when schemes changed at Kansas. Armstrong has the potential to be a really quality rusher in the NFL and greatly improved his run defense in 2017. TE Dalton Schultz was the second of fourth round picks by the Cowboys and he's another guy who will likely compete for a starting job in his rookie year. Schultz is a great blocker in both the run game and passing game and can be a really nice receiver down field. Schultz is more so known as a blocker than a receiver, but I think he's one of the more underrated receiver's in the class. Don't be surprised when he's the starting tight end when week one rolls around. The Cowboys also upgraded at backup quarterback with Western Kentucky's Mike White with their fifth round selection. White is a quality quarterback with good arm talent, that can throw with pinpoint accuracy and anticipation. The Chris Covington pick was a bit of a head scratcher, but with it being a sixth round pick, the Cowboys hope he can develop into a quality special teams player. Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson may have been my favorite pick out of all of these selections. Wilson is a guy who can make plays in all three levels and gain yards after the catch. Wilson is silky smooth, has great hands and rarely drops the ball when it's in his catch radius. Bo Scarbrough was the final selection for the Cowboys and like all the other's this was a great value pick. The Cowboys needed to add a back up running back to the room, and Bo Scarbrough is a perfect addition to compliment Ezekiel Elliott and run behind this dominant offensive line in Dallas.
With the additions of these nine draft picks, Jihad Ward, and Tavon Austin, the Dallas Cowboys greatly improved their roster from Thursday morning to Saturday night. I thought it would be tough for the Cowboys to fill all their needs while also adding quality depth to other positions, but they really did a nice job of doing both of those things with nine draft picks and a few trades.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Draft
Round 1, 12th Overall - Vita Vea - Washington - DT
Round 2, 38th Overall - Ronald Jones II - USC - RB
Round 2, 53rd Overall - M.J. Stewart - North Carolina - CB
Round 2, 63rd Overall - Carlton Davis - Auburn - CB
Round 3, 94th Overall - Alex Cappa - Humboldt State - OL
Round 4, 117th Overall - Jordan Whitehead - Pittsburgh - S
Round 5, 144th Overall - Justin Watson - Pennsylvania - WR
Round 6, 202nd Overall - Jack Cichy - Wisconsin - LB
The Buccaneers started day one out with a bang after trading down with the Buffalo Bills and still landing a blue chip player in Vita Vea. Vea is a massive man who moves extremely well for being 6-foot-4, 348lbs. Vea is strong at the point of attack against the run, and can penetrate the pocket as well when rushing the passer and getting upfield. Vea is a perfect addition to a defensive line that lacks talent and size.
Tampa Bay then backed up a wonderful day one with an even better day two in my opinion. After landing a starting iDL in round one, they come back and practically rebuild their entire secondary in the second round along with adding what I would think would be their starting runner by week one. Jones is a quality running back who can make plays north and south, and east to west. If Jones stays healthy I expect him to have similar production to the guys that went ahead of him in the draft. Adding M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis to the group is huge for a team who has struggled in the secondary for years. Stewart was one of the top nickel corners in this class, and Carlton Davis is one of the best boundary corners in the class. It wouldn't surprise me one if both second round corners are day one starters when we get to training camp. The Buccaneers then added a starting caliber offensive lineman in Alex Cappa from Humboldt State, that needs some developing, but has plenty of tools to have success at the next level. To come out of day two potentially adding a starter at RB, two starters at CB, and a potential starter at offensive tackle or offensive guard is huge for a team that needed to upgrade at all of those positions.
The Buccaneers came back with yet another great draft day on day three. Jordan Whitehead was one of my favorite mid round safeties. Whitehead has some free safety versatility, but is still a big hitter that can tackle around the line of scrimmage as well as covering down the field and making plays a center fielder. They then added Ivy League WR Justin Watson with their fifth round pick who I think can make their roster and contribute as a rookie. Watson has intriguing size at 6-foot-3 225lbs, and is extremely physical at the catch point and throughout his routes. Watson started his offseason hype with a very solid week at the Senior Bowl, he showed me that the jump up in competition wasn't going to affect his level of play whatsoever. The Bucs capped of their incredible draft adding my 57th ranked player with the 202nd overall pick in the sixth round.... talk about value. When healthy Jack Cichy was easily a top five linebacker in this class due to his instincts, sideline to sideline speed, and the ability to cover. Cichy unfortunately has stayed banged up and hasn't been able to stay off the sideline. If Cichy can get and remain healthy, don't be surprised if he's one of the best linebackers on the Buccaneers and maybe in the league here in a few years.
Seattle Seahawks Draft
Round 1, 27th Overall - Rashaad Penny - San Diego State - RB
Round 2, 79th Overall - Rasheem Green - USC - DL
Round 4, 120th Overall - Will Dissly - Washington - TE
Round 5, 141st Overall - Shaquem Griffin - UCF - LB
Round 5, 146th Overall - Tre Flowers - Oklahoma State - S
Round 5, 149th Overall - Michael Dickson - Texas - P
Round 5, 168th Overall - Jamarco Jones - Ohio State - OL
Round 6, 186th Overall - Jake Martin - Temple EDGE
Round 7, 220th Overall - Alex McGough - Florida International - QB
When you're without a second and third round pick at the start of the draft on Thursday night, you better get great value with your first round pick. Of course, as we know, the Seahawks traded back in the first round to gain a third round pick to select Rashaad Penny out of San Diego State. This was a huge head scratcher for me. Penny is a really nice running back that runs with good explosion, good power, and decent vision. I had Penny ranked as my 104th overall player and significantly behind guys like Sony Michel, Derrius Guice, Nick Chubb, and Ronald Jones who all went after Rashaad Penny. To make matters worse for the Seahawks, Penny is an awful pass blocker as it stands now and that's something the offensive line already struggles with a ton.
They did add some talent to the defensive line with Rasheem Green, but even in the third, I thought that was a bit of a reach. Green was the 146th ranked player on my board. With the only pick on day two, I think the Seahawks could have taken a much better player this isn't quite as much as a developmental piece as Rasheem Green.
On Day three the Seahawks had a ton of picks (7). They drafted some good players on the last day of the draft in Shaquem Griffin, Michael Dickson, Jamarco Jones, and Will Dissly. Jamarco Jones was probably their best value pick of the draft. Jones is likely a starter on the Seahawks offensive line at either guard or right tackle, and I think he could be an average starter for them. A lot of people really like Will Dissly due to his ability to be an inline blocker, but as a receiver, he doesn't being much to the table. Michael Dickson was most people's P1, and will likely win that job in training camp and the preseason. Shaquem Griffin was a hell of a pick and he's going to do great things in Seattle on special teams and as an off the ball linebacker and edge rusher. The rest of the Seahawks draft picks are a long shot to make the roster in my opinion. I wasn't very high on Tre Flowers and Jake Martin and I didn't get a chance to watch Alex McGough.
Overall I'd give the Seahawks a draft grade of a C-. That all started with the extreme reach of Rashaad Penny in the first round with the 27th overall pick.
New Orleans Saints Draft
Round 1, 14th Overall - Marcus Davenport - UTSA - EDGE
Round 3, 91st Overall - Tre'Quan Smith - UCF - WR
Round 4, 127th Overall - Rick Leonard - Florida State - OT
Round 5, 164th Overall - Natrell Jamerson - Wisconsin - S
Round 6, 189th Overall - Kamrin Moore - Boston College - CB
Round 6, 201st Overall - Boston Scott - Louisiana Tech - RB
Round 7, 245th Overall - Will Clapp - LSU - C
One year removed from having one of the best drafts in NFL history I'd say they backed it up by having one of the worst drafts in a long time. The New Orleans Saints had a really rough 2018 NFL Draft. Starting in the first round, they traded up to draft edge rusher Marcus Davenport, Davenport is an extremely raw pass rusher who still has no idea how to use his physical traits. To make matters worse, they gave up a 2019 first round pick to grab him. Davenport can be a nice player in this league, but after a dreadful senior bowl week and a big step up in competition, it may take him a while to adjust.
With only one pick on day two, the Saints did grab a good one in Tre'Quan Smith, UCF WR. Smith is a physical receiver who can win downfield using his size, speed, and athleticism to create seperation and win a that catch point. Smith is a quality blocker in the run game coming from UCF, and knows how to run a variety of route's. Smith will be a nice chess piece to add to an already high powered offense in New Orleans.
Day three was just as bad as day one for the Saints. Out of their five day three selections four of them received undraftable grades from me (Leonard, Jamerson, Scott, and Clapp). Kamrin Moore can be a quality rotational cornerback who can contribute on special teams and maybe play some safety for the Saints as well. All the other selections I was not a fan of at all. I had nine tackles graded higher than Leonard, seven safeties graded higher than Jamerson, seven running backs graded higher than Scott, and five centers/guards graded higher than Clapp at the time that each draft pick was made.
After last years draft class that featured; Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Alvin Kamara, Marcus Williams, and Trey Hendrickson I'd bet that a lot of Saints fans will be disappointed in what this rookie class does for their team after seeing what the 2017 class did right off the bat.
Oakland Raiders Draft
Round 1, 15th Overall - Kolton Miller - UCLA - OT
Round 2, 57th Overall - P.J. Hall - Sam Houston State
Round 3, 65th Overall - Brandon Parker - North Carolina A&T - OT
Round 3, 87th Overall - Arden Key - LSU - EDGE
Round 4, 110th Overall - Nick Nelson - Wisconsin - CB
Round 5, 140th Overall - Maurice Hurst - Michigan - DT
Round 5, 173rd Overall - Johnny Townsend - Florida - P
Round 6, 216th Overall - Azeem Victor - Washington - LB
Round 7, 228th Overall - Marcell Ateman - Oklahoma State - WR
There was zero doubt in my mind that Kolton Miller was going in the first round, but it still shocks me to to this day. He was by far the biggest reach in the draft. I had him ranked as the 126th overall player in this draft class, and they took him at 14th overall. Good luck with that Oakland. Miller is an elite athlete with great measurables, that's why he was drafted in the top 15, but his tape is very raw. You see a guy who struggles with technique as a run and pass blocker as well as a guy who struggles to show his athletic ability on tape. Kolton Miller may end up turning into the next Tyron Smith, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
The Raiders day two was just as bad as day one. P.J. Hall is a decent player, but he's nowhere near the 57th best player in this draft class. The Raiders later traded DL Jihad Ward to the Cowboys, so he will likely fill his role as a rotations iDL in the Raiders front seven. They then took another project OT in Brandon Parker with the 65th overall pick. Parker may be the best value at this point in the draft, but he still went a round or two too early for my liking. Another big risk was taking Arden Key, the LSU edge rusher with the 87th overall pick. Key tested horribly at the combine and his pro-day and has had a long list of off the field concerns and questions regarding his passion for the game. Key could be a steal if he keeps focus and works hard, but he's also a guy who reminds me way too much of Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith off the field.
Day three was by far the best day for the Raiders. The first two picks are risky because both guys have some medical red flags. Wisconsin CB Nick Nelson tore his meniscus just a month ago working out for an undisclosed NFL team. He will likely need a redshirt year to recover from the injury and get back into football shape. Before the injury, I had Nelson ranked as a fourth round pick, so for him to still go in the fourth after a brutal injury is somewhat surprising. If he returns to healthy he can be a quality cornerback in the league with his size, length, and ball skills. Maurice Hurst was the biggest faller in this draft due to an irregular heart beat. Most teams had Hurst completely off the board, but the Raiders pulled the trigger on day three. If he stays healthy and is good to go, Hurst could be the biggest steal of the draft, but if the heart condition doesn't allow him to perform he may never see the field. I liked the value of Azeem Victor who will likely contribute as an iLB and special teams ace for the Raiders early one, but I really loved the value of Marcell Ateman in the seventh round. Ateman is a big, physical receiver with a great catch radius and solid hands. Ateman can be a huge red zone target and help move the chains as well with his savvy route running ability.
With Jon Gruden taking over as the team's head coach, his first draft was one I'd rank at the bottom of the list, but it's possibly some of the late route flyers on medical guys, and maybe some of his early round draft picks can develop into quality starters and prove me wrong.