How The Jets Shook up Draft Day
The New York football Jets could not wait until draft day in their pursuit to getting a QB in the top 6 picks, they shocked the NFL community upon trading their 6th overall selection along with 3 second round selections including two this year to the Indianapolis Colts for the 3rd overall selection. The hardest thing to analyze about this pick is the confidence in their desired QB(s) not being available at the 6th overall selection. With division rivals Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins having picks in the top 12 and having rumored to selecting a QB, one can only assume the Jets wanted to ensure that they do not get one of their guys before them. The return that the Colts received seemed to be a bit steep if you are a Jets fan but at the same time the team has not seen a playoff run since the ‘Sanchise’ era and even at the point in time the Mark Sanchez was not what got them there. It is evident that Mike Maccahnan sees too much talent in the top QB prospects to pass up on for the future of the Jets franchise despite signing both Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater in the free agency period. Now let’s take a look into how this impacts the rest of the draft and gain more insight into some of the endless possibilities on draft night.
Cleveland’s 1st Pick
The Cleveland Browns have suffered and endured two troubling seasons with Hue Jackson where he has posted a 1-31 record but 2018 seems to be their year. They have already made multiple splashes in the free agency market by signing or trading for Tyrod Taylor from the Bills, Jarvis Landry from the Dolphins, Carlos Hyde from the 49ers, blocking tight end Darren Fells from the Lions and Damarious Randall from the Packers. Pair all these signings with the number #1 and #4 overall selections in this year draft and we are sure to see a completely different looking Cleveland Browns team this upcoming September.
The fact of the matter is that despite Saquon Barkley being one of the best prospects in recent memory and a game changing player for any offense, the Jets trade nearly sealed the deal on the Browns selecting a QB first overall. The team has come out already in true Browns fashion to state that Tyrod Taylor is their starter but this is not enough for me to say that the Browns will be not prioritizing a QB with the first pick. We know that at least the Jets will be selecting a QB at 3, the Giants are still a threat to select a QB which means that there could be 2 QB’s gone before the Browns get their number 4 selection. The Browns have come out this week to state they are working out Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen individually so all signs are pointing to a QB being taken at number one.
This establishes the first overall selection as one of the 4 elite QB prospects being chosen which brings us to pick number two.
Another New York Team Trades Their Pick?
Owning this year’s number two selection might encompass you with the ability to make another blockbuster trade. There are at least 6 QB needy teams in this year’s draft and with the talent pool of the top prospects being so highly touted, the Giants front office are sure to be busy as we approach draft day. The Jets and Browns will take care of their QB situations with their respective picks in the first three picks which leaves the Bills, Dolphins, Cardinals and Broncos as possible suitors for this blockbuster deal. The Bills bumped up their draft stock by nabbing the 12th overall selection while still holding on to the 22nd overall selection in this year’s draft and I do not think the Bills think AJ McCcaron is the answer. The Dolphins have not been quiet about their interest in Baker Mayfield and if their worry levels about his availability are too high with pick 11 where the Dolphins are currently slotted in at could result in a trade up. John Elway did not get captain Kirk so he went with what arguably was the second best available option in Case Keenum in free agency which makes me question their desires at selecting a QB with the 5th overall selection. Although he has not shown too many flashes of brilliance, they still have Paxton Lynch who was a former 1st round selection who could just be a late bloomer, but I think they are comfortable with moving forward with Keenum. The Cardinals also lost the Cousins Sweepstakes which means they had to pivot to Sam Bradford who is known for his injury riddled career after being a number one pick. With Bradford’s injury history, I do not think we can rule out a trade up for a QB but I think the Cardinals will be sitting back in the draft and taking the best QB available at 15.
The other side to the coin if you are the New York Giants and what seems to be the more probable route, is selecting an elite prospect with the number two pick. As mentioned, Saquon Barkley should be available at number two and the Giants are in desperate need of a running back. Barkley is a superior athletic specimen who is coming from a conference that was designed to stop the run and still averaged over a TD/game in college. Barkley would also take off pressure from Eli Manning who seems to be under duress far too often and not to mention you now would have Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr, and Evan Engram… scary stuff. Barkley might seem like the no brainer selection but do not sleep on Quenton Nelson who is also rumored as one of the best offensive line prospects in the last decade. After losing the Andrew Norwell bidding war, the Giants offensive line could use some work after seeing the revolving door of starters last year. Either way you look at it, the Giants are in a fantastic spot but they will most likely receive the most amount of phone calls.
Cleveland’s 4th Pick
After the Jets select a QB at 3, this is really when things could start to get interesting. Cleveland could opt to take Saquon Barkley if the Giants decided not to take him, which would solidify their offense. They would have multiple play makers for Tyrod to play with and would most likely be a run first time behind the workhorse that Barkley is forecasted to be. The next option would be to take a defensive player along the likes of Minkah Fitzpatrick, Denzel Ward or even Bradley Chubb. With Myles Garrett on one side, it is intriguing to think of the one two punch of a pass rush the Browns would have with picking Chubb but their secondary is hurting. For much of the season last year Jason McCourty was ranked as a top 10 and even at one point best coverage player according to pro football focus and they just shipped him to join his brother in New England. This leaves Jabrill Peppers all alone to lead a more than luck luster defense so I suspect the Browns to draft one either Fitzpatrick or Ward. As you can see there are many different routes the Browns can take in keeping their selection but I can near guarantee they will be leaving their phone lines open right up until they are on the clock. I don’t think the Browns will trade their pick unless it is with a team within the first 12 picks… cough Bills cough but even at that, they can get a franchise quarterback and the best defensive player available after a game changing free agency period.
The Rest of the Top 10
So now we are at pick 5 where the Broncos will most likely have either Saquon Barkley or Quenton Nelson available. In the event that is not the case, they have the cream of the crop left for defensive secondary players like Minkah Fitzpatrick or who I think they will select Denzel Ward after losing Aqib Talib to the Rams in free agency. The Colts come in at 6 and will be fielding all offers from teams like the Bills, Dolphins and Cardinals if they wish to select their franchise QB. I believe that they will hold onto their pick after all is said and done and take either Bradley Chubb or Tremaine Edwards to bolster their pass rush but it would not be out of the question to draft a player in the secondary after losing Vontae Davis. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take the best player available on the defensive side of the ball where they saw a significant regression this year especially in their secondary so if one of Fitzpatrick or Ward is available, you can bet your bottom dollar the Bucs will take one of them. That brings us to pick number 8 where the revamped Chicago bears are up and most likely just take the best player available to help bolster their new looked squad. Someone along the likes of Tremaine Edwards or Roquan Smith to help out their pass rush would makes sense especially if the players in the secondary are already drafted. So picks 9&10 is when I forecast a trade to happen with either the 49ers or Raiders, and I think the 49ers have already proven they are all about quantity of youth. Last year they traded down 1 pick to allow the Bears to select Trubisky and I think this where Buffalo jumps up and does not allow the Dolphins to take their QB before them making a deal with the 49ers to move up to 9. The Bills will have an ample amount of anger if they do not jump ahead of the Dolphins and the Phins decide to select the Bill’s desired QB so Buffalo gets tired of waiting and trades up. So we are now at the final pick of the top 10 where the Raiders need more help on the defensive side of the ball after making splashes in free agency to get some viable playmakers in both Jordy Nelson and Doug Martin. It will be used most likely on Derwin James or the best linebacker available to help Khalil Mack on the pass rush.
Get ready for Draft Day mayhem right after March Madness finishes up because this year’s draft is shaping up to be an absolute party. 4 QB’s should be taken in the first 11 picks and if anyone has real passion for Lamar Jackson, that number may rise. What’s unfortunate for other teams looking to trade up is the bar that was set by the Jets. The Jets gave up the opportunity to have three picks in the top 50 just to move up 3 spots and on top of that another second round pick. Some may say that is a victory because they did not give up a 1st round selection but that is still plenty of talent that could have been had if they stayed put at 6. Will be interesting to see the amount of picks just to move up a few spots and even more interesting to see what teams will get desperate and make a ballsy move. Just over a month away we may see another trade before Draft Day, but until then let the speculation continue.