After months of endless analysis, speculation, and mock drafts it is FINALLY time for the NFL Draft. A little after 8 PM Thursday night NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will step to the podium in Nashville, fans will boo lustily, he’ll egg them on a bit, and then he’ll declare open the 2019 NFL Draft. After that, who knows what will happen.
For the longest time it was thought Nick Bosa was a lock to be the first overall pick. But, then the Cardinals hired Cliff Kingsbury as their head coach, and it started to become apparent he is in love with Oklahoma’s Heisman-winning quarterback Kyler Murray. Kingsbury had a losing record in his time at Texas Tech, so if they do draft Murray, it will be typical of an organization that has won exactly two championships in their history; the last of which came in 1947. I’m not saying Murray is going to be a complete bust. My problem with them drafting him is they traded up last year to get a quarterback (Josh Rosen). Now, for the second year in a row, they are going to use a very high pick to select another quarterback instead of a player who can be the cornerstone of their defense for the next how many years. Still wondering why they haven’t won a championship in 71 years? Yes, you need a good quarterback to win a championship in the NFL. But, in the end, defense still wins championships. I just don’t think taking Kyler Murray first overall is a good move.
I’m sure you’re all thinking, “Hey, what about Haskins?” It looked like he was a lock to be taken by the Giants with the sixth pick. That may still happen, but everything now seems to point to him actually sliding out of the top ten. That’s not such a bad things, folks. The Bengals are sitting at number eleven, the Dolphins at thirteen, and the Redskins at fifteen. Why has the best quarterback in the Draft possibly slipped to a lower pick? I believe it is because there is just way too much time for these teams to nitpick over every last little thing. When you come right down to it, does it matter where he’s chosen? Tom Brady was 199th pick, and was chosen in the sixth round. Joe Montana was taken with the last pick of the third round in 1979. Bengals fans will remember their team chose a quarterback with the third overall pick that year (Jack Thompson of Washington State). He played four seasons, and started five games with the team before they got rid of him. I’m more interested to see who Haskins goes to rather than when he’s picked.
When you read scouting reports on Murray and Haskins there are a lot of similarities. Both have strong, accurate arms. Both have a quick release. Both were highly productive one-year starters. But, one thing jumped out at me while comparing the two. When Haskins is pressured and begins to move in the pocket, he keeps his eyes up field looking for a receiver. When Murray is pressured and begins to move in the pocket, he drops his eyes. By doing so he misses a lot of open receivers. All of the elite NFL quarterbacks have their eyes up the field when they begin to move in the pocket. Brady, Brees, Rodgers, all of these guys are great at it. Steeler fans know how many times Roethlisberger has begun to move, and found an open receiver down the field for a big play. It is one of the first things I noticed about Baker Mayfield in the preseason last year. When the pocket broke down, and he began to move he was still looking to make a throw up the field rather than take off and run. Murray is looking to run when the pocket breaks down. Keep this in mind when watching him play this season.
To echo what ESPN’s Mike Greenburg said the other day, Haskins is the most complete quarterback in the draft. He has all of the traits of other NFL championship quarterbacks. This fascination the media, and others have with mobile quarterbacks is comical. I’ve pointed out previously how many really mobile quarterbacks have won Super Bowls in the last 20 years. Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers are the most mobile of that group, and those guys are hardly considered running quarterbacks. Dwayne Haskins is simply the best quarterback in this draft.
Buckeye Draft Primer
There could be as many as ten former Buckeyes taken over the three days of the NFL Draft. Here is a look at each.
Nick Bosa: While Haskins is the best quarterback in the draft, Bosa is the best player. Until the Cardinals, and everyone else jumped on the Kyler Murray hype train, Bosa was considered a lock to be the first overall pick. Now it looks like he’ll go second to San Francisco. In recent weeks I’ve heard a few “experts” have other defensive linemen like Alabama’s Quinnen Williams, or Clelin Ferrel of Clemson rated ahead of Bosa. These are guys trying to look smarter than everyone else. Bosa was as close to unblockable as anyone I’ve seen in college football since Washington’s Steve Emtman, who was the first overall pick by the Colts in 1992. Like Emtman, the concern I have about Bosa is injuries. But, he’s still the best player in this draft, and any team who passes on him is making a huge mistake.
Dwayne Haskins: While some have him slipping out of the top ten, ESPN’s longtime draft analyst Mel Kiper still has the Giants taking him with the sixth pick. I’ll readily admit I’ve never been Kiper’s biggest fan because I’ve always believed he relied way too much on measurables (size, 40 time, etc.) to evaluate a player rather than judging actual football ability. But, I agree with him here. The Giants need a quarterback, and I’m hearing they are interested in trading for Josh Rosen. They need defense also, and as I said earlier you win with defense. But, Haskins is too good to pass up. I’ve seen other mock drafts that have Haskins being the fourth quarterback picked, and going as low as 24th or 28th in the first round. I just don’t see that happening. If he does slip out of the top ten, I don’t see him going any lower than 15th to the Redskins, who seem to love him. My hope is the Bengals, who pick eleventh, take him.
Parris Campbell: He might be the most explosive player in the draft, but the biggest knock on him is he is not a polished route runner. Receivers can get away with not being good at that in college; you can’t get away with it in the NFL. But, you can teach a player to run good routes. You can’t teach them to be as fast, and elusive as Campbell. All indications have him going in the second round; quite possibly to the Redskins, who need help at receiver.
Terry McLaurin: There isn’t another Buckeye whose draft stock has risen more than McLaurin. A strong week of practice at the Senior Bowl put him on everyone’s radar. He’s fast, possesses strong hands, and knows how to get open. All of the little things he does like block, and play on special teams is what makes him an even more attractive pick. He has been able to maintain the momentum he built at the Senior Bowl, and is now not expected to make it out of the second round.
Dre’Mont Jones: His quickness off the ball gives lineman fits, and he improved his pass rush technique in 2018. The biggest criticism is he stands up coming out of his stance, and plays too high. You can’t teach quickness, but you can teach a guy to stay low. He’s only 285 pounds, so it may take him a couple of seasons to become a really good NFL defensive lineman, but he has a lot of ability, and I don’t doubt he’ll be a highly productive starter someday. Every mock draft I’ve seen has him going in the second round.
Mike Weber: He is a classic example of the whole is more than the sum of his parts. He isn’t really outstanding in any one area, but he does an awful lot of things well. He’s a good blocker, pass catcher, breaks tackles, and does possess very good speed. Some think he can be more productive in the NFL than college. Most likely he’s chosen in the fourth or fifth round. The Cowboys are not re-signing ex-Buckeye Rod Smith, and are interested in Weber. The Chiefs are showing interest as well.
Michael Jordan: After spending his first two years as a Buckeye at guard, he moved to center for 2018, and was named an All-American. He’ll probably move back to guard in the NFL. He’s expected to go no later than the third round, and many believe he will be a Day 1 starter. His strong point is his quickness off the ball, and he is a tenacious run-blocker. His ability to play guard or center makes him a very attractive prospect.
Kendall Sheffield: One of the few football players with legitimate sprinter speed who can translate it to the field. He’s still a work in progress, and has to improve technique in certain areas. The criticism for his ball skills (only 2 interceptions in his career) speaks more to how the Buckeye defensive backs were taught to keep their eyes on the receiver, and not turn back to find the ball. Sheffield is expected to go somewhere on Day 3 (rounds four through seven).
Isaiah Prince: Needs more development, but could become a starter at right tackle in the not-too-distant future. For that to happen he must become more consistent. Has good athleticism, but most get a little bigger. Some see him going in the third round, but if he needs the type of development most seem to think, I see him going in the fifth round or later.
Johnnie Dixon: He is the one Buckeye on this list who could end up not being drafted. That’s not the worst thing because he’ll most certainly be signed as a free agent, and be able to choose the best situation for him. He has good hands, and the ability to make difficult catches. He may never be a starter in the NFL, but he can be a more than capable backup.
Who Needs What
Both of the Great State of Ohio’s NFL teams need help. After the Browns seemed to have solved their franchise quarterback problem in last year’s draft, the Bengals may get the chance to do the same this year. Let’s take a brief look at each of their needs.
The Browns traded away their first round pick when they acquired Odell Beckham, Jr. from the Giants. Although I don’t believe receivers win you championships, there is no question the Browns needed an elite receiver. Some think GM John Dorsey will try to trade back into the lower part of the first round. But, I don’t see this happening unless Dorsey is willing to give up next year’s number one to do it. If things stay as they are the Browns will not make a selection until the midway point of the second round. When they do I expect them to go with a defensive player. They need help against the run for sure after giving up an average of 4.7 yards per carry last year. They also need depth at cornerback, and could use an outside linebacker. A left tackle would be nice to protect Baker Mayfield, but I expect Dorsey to get help for his defense with their first pick. In the last five years they’ve drafted 51 players. Sixteen of those players are no longer in the league. In 2015 and ’16 they had a total of 26 picks. Twelve of them are no longer in the league. When you consider those numbers it is a minor miracle the team was as competitive as it was last season. I’m a big believer in Dorsey, and think this will be another productive draft. Last year’s produced four starters.
The Bengals have eleven picks this year. I’d be shocked if they didn’t use a few of them to move up here and there to grab a player they covet. However, I don’t think this will happen in the first
round. They need help along the offensive line and at tight end, but I expect them to draft a defensive player with that first choice unless there is a quarterback they can’t pass up. Yes, read that to mean if Haskins is there, they may just grab him. The overwhelming opinion is they’ll take a defensive player in the first round (linebacker Devin Bush from Michigan gets mentioned often), and address their quarterback situation in the second round. Don’t be surprised if they take Dre’Mont Jones with that second round pick if they decide against a quarterback. They seem to like Buckeye defensive lineman (they have Sam Hubbard and Adolphus Washington on the roster), and could use a defensive tackle. Just my own speculation on that one.
Anyone who is acquainted with me knows I’m not a Steeler fan (they’re all laughing now because they know what an understatement that is). But, since I have a few very loyal readers who are fans of that particular team, as a thank you for their support, I’ll take a look at their favorite team’s needs. The Steelers need help on defense yet again, and are expected to take a cornerback with their first round selection (20th overall). 2016 first round pick Artie Burns has been awful, and Joe Haden isn’t as young as he used to be. The consensus is they’ll take Byron Murphy of Washington. They need help at inside linebacker as well, so if Devin Bush is still around, don’t be surprised if he’s their guy. At some point, I expect them to try to find a receiver to compliment JuJu Smith-Schuster. Despite taking defensive players in the first round of the last six drafts they haven’t been good enough on that side of the ball to win a championship. Their defensive line is very productive, but their back seven has struggled.
Blast From The Past
Earlier I mentioned Joe Montana being taken in the third round of the 1979 NFL Draft. Anyone remember who the first overall pick was that year? Ohio State linebacker Tom Cousineau was the first to have his name called that year when Buffalo selected him. However, he never played for the Bills, and ended up in the Canadian Football League with Montreal. He eventually made his way back to the NFL with the Browns where he was twice named All-AFC.
Two other Buckeyes taken that year did not make a final roster. Offensive lineman Jim Moore (a tight end in college) was taken by the Colts in the sixth round, and Joe Robinson by the Chiefs in the ninth (it was a twelve round draft at that time). But, the Buckeye taken in the fifth round by the Cowboys that year went on to have a quietly productive NFL career. Running back Ron Springs spent his first season in Dallas as a backup. Following his rookie year he put on weight, and won the starting fullback job over incumbent Robert Newhouse. After six seasons in Dallas, he spent the final two years of his career with Tampa. In all he started 65 games in his career, and rushed for over 2,500 yards, while catching passes for over 2,200. During his time as a Buckeye, Springs led the Big Ten in rushing his junior year, but was slowed by injuries as a senior. The father of OSU All-American defensive back Shawn Springs passed away in 2011.
I’ve always enjoyed the NFL Draft. I’ll probably watch to see if the Giants take Haskins, and then I’ll follow the rest on the internet. Listening to drunken idiots boo the commissioner every time he steps to the podium to announce a pick gets old in a hurry. At least we finally have nice weather in the Great State of Ohio.