With Conference Championship weekend approaching. We have 28 teams eliminated meaning our favourite time of the year is just 2 games away. The NFL Draft build up. There is no doubt that the teams with the best 4 Quarterbacks are in the final 4 and there will be a preview coming up for that over the weekend. This post, however, will look at the next crop of young men coming into the NFL from the Collegiate ranks.
Not only will I mock draft but I will give a ranking out of 5 on how each team must make sure they ‘hit’ on their draft picks. Today we will look at the top 5 picks.
- Cleveland Browns (1-15) *****
The Browns MUST hit on this draft pick. A team with historically bad drafting, management, coaching and players. With 2 picks in the top 12 they must hit on both of them to even make the franchise relevant. Hue Jackson has a good reputation in the NFL and the strategy to rely on younger players rather than overpaid veterans has meant they can have a total refresh. They need a player who can be a REAL star for the Browns. Something that outside of Joe Thomas and Joe Haden they lack.
The Pick: Myles Garrett, Defensive End, Texas A&M
The biggest need for The Browns is QB but there is no generational QB talent like Andrew Luck, Cam Newton etc. in this draft so taking the best player on the board is the best move. The Browns have lacked a defensive superstar on the Defensive Line and by taking Garrett it should give them a boost in getting at the QBs they face. This is important given they have Dalton, Big Ben and Joe Flacco in the division. Good teams have a Quarterback, GREAT teams have a dominant O-Line and D-Line with a QB.
2. San Francisco 49ers (2-14) *****
The 49ers currently have no Head Coach or GM. They are the only team yet to make an appointment after cleaning house at the end of the season. Kyle Shanahan is the favourite for the job. Like The Browns they have needs everywhere and are not one player away from being a good team. It’s hard to really gauge who the ‘Niners’ would go for given their coaching situation.
The Pick: Mitch Trubisky, Quarterback, North Carolina
Having just stated their is no QB that is a top talent, taking a QB at number 2 is a contradiction to that statement. However, there is no dominant, can’t miss Offensive Lineman and drafting a QB high is the current NFL trend. It was a toss up between DeShaun Watson and Trubisky but feel that the 9ers will want a more traditional QB, even though Watson is a great traditional QB himself. It gives them hope and a piece they can build around with a serviceable RB. If there were a great OLine prospect I would probably have them him here. A potential move would be to trade out of this pick for more picks this year and next year given how highly sought after QB’s are at the top of the draft.
3. Chicago Bears (3-13) ****
They aren’t as desperate as the Niners or The Browns to hit but it is still important they get the pick right. Getting rid of Jay Cutler would be a good start, Cutler is a decent QB who likes to wear out his welcome and Cutler wore his out about 3 years ago, this will provide a fresh start for The Bears and Cutler who both need to move on. The Bears have some talent with Kevin White and Jeremy Langford to build around.
The Pick: DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Matt Barkley proved he isn’t an NFL starter. 5 Interceptions in a game will get you benched. It will tell the coach you make poor decision. They need a QB who can extend plays and is smart about extending plays. Watson has faced great college defences (Alabama twice) and put up lots of points. He is not a dual-threat Quarterback but is mobile enough to escape the rush and make smart decision. With an inconsistent O-Line, the Bears will need a QB who can escape the rush and make a play, He is a Russell Wilson like QB. Perfect for The QB needy Bears. He will have a Number 1 receiver in Kevin White and a fanbase who will treat him like a hero should he have even an average year.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13) ***
There was a lot of hope in Jacksonville that they would sneak into the playoffs. They were the trendy pick to win the AFC South or to make the Play-offs. Division Rivals Tennessee Titans were that team, despite not reaching the play-offs they showed promise with their young core. A new head coach should improve the Jaguars after Gus Bradley’s ill-fated reign. Bradley did a good job of filling the team with great talent but couldn’t get it to work. Marrone has that ability after a good year with Buffalo. The key to ensuring success is Blake Bortles and make sure he cuts down on his bad decisions and fixing his flawed mechanics.
The Pick: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
In similar vein to the others. I would have wanted a top O-Line prospect here to help the line and Bortles a bit more. However, Allen provides The Jaguars with an upgrade on the DL. Malik Jackson has had a year in the system and Allen is a young DL prospect that could make an instant impact on a defense that struggled to get the QB. It is a player they will want to help their DL.
5. Tennessee Titans (From Los Angeles Rams) (9-7) ***
The Titans did a phenomenal job in the draft last year. Trading their Number 1 Overall pick to the LA Rams and got a top 5 pick out of it with a young team that is getting better. With Mariota, Murray and Henry being a three headed monster in the backfield they have done a good job of re-establishing the importance of a running game in the NFL. The need to get it right, with a top 5 pick, is high but it is not desperate attempt at creating some remnant of hope like the other teams in the top 5.
The Pick: Mike Williams, Wide Receiver, Clemson
The top 5 is very obvious. Each team fills their need and The Titans lack a true outside threat. Marietta needs a play maker on the outside that will make the difference from being 9-7 and watching the Play-offs to a 10+ win team that will likely get them into the Play-offs in the AFC. Williams was a great player in College and can be the difference here as the clear number 1 WR prospect in the draft.