We’ve got a lot of draft grades to go. Onward!
The haul: William Jackson III, CB, Houston – Round one, Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh – Round two, Nick Vigil, ILB, Utah State – Round three, Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor – Round four, Christian Westerman, OG, Arizona State – Round five, Cody Core, WR, Mississippi – Round six, Clayton Fejedelm, Safety, Illinois – Round seven
The Bengals are a loaded team that had every reason to believe they were in contention for a Super Bowl last season before an injury to quarterback Andy Dalton’s thumb injury derailed that and free agency swooped in this offseason to rob them of two weapons at wide receiver. The Bengals didn’t approach this draft in desperation and it showed, with excellent picks through all seven rounds. Picks that not only make the Bengals better this year, but kept good players off other teams.
Which almost seemed like the plan when the Bengals took Jackson in the first round. The Steelers needed a corner and Jackson was the best one on the board. The Bengals, not in desperate need for a defensive back, but they let the board fall to them, didn’t trade up for a wideout, and drafted a corner they won’t have to face twice or more a year. In the second round Boyd should step right in as a starter right away and could have been a first rounder in any other draft. The steal came in the fourth round with Billings, who I had in the first round of every mock draft I put together. I was not the only one. The idea of him lining up next to Geno Atkins should make every AFC offensive line coach lose sleep.
The haul: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor – Round one, Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State – Round two, Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State – Round three, Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn – Round three, Cody Kessler, QB, USC – Round three, Joe Schobert, OLB, Wisconsin – Round four, Ricardo Lewis, WR, Auburn – Round four, Derrick Kindred, Safety, TCU – Round four, Seth Devalve, TE, Princeton – Round four, Jordan Payton, WR, UCLA – Round five, Spencer Drango, OG, Baylor – Round five, Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado State – Round five, Trey Caldwell, DB, Louisiana-Monroe – Round five, Scooby Wright III, ILB, Arizona – Round seven
The Browns took the gift trade from the Philadelphia Eagles and turned it into gold with what I think is an incredible draft. You’re going to hear some criticism of the Browns’ thinking on a couple of these picks, but I can explain it pretty easily. Coleman over Josh Doctson or Laquan Treadwell? I like both those guys better too, but Coleman is lightning fast and for the Browns right now, that has more value. Plus, it’s not like Coleman wasn’t going in the first round and likely would have still been taken over Treadwell. As for Kessler over Cook and Prescott? I wouldn’t have done it either, but Kessler was one of my favorite QBs this whole draft process and I think he has Drew Brees potential. If that’s what Hue Jackson sees, how can you argue with it?
Ogbah is a first-round talent in round two and Nassib and Coleman are both second-round talents taken in round three. The best pick of the later rounds is Jordan Payton in round five. Before the season is over the Browns will have Coleman and Brian Hartline on the outside and Payton in the slot. Higgins is a solid wide receiver pick up too.
The haul: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State – Round one, Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame – Round two, Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska – Round three, Charles Tapper, DE, Oklahoma – Round four, Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State – Round four, Anthony Brown, CB, Purdue – Round six, Kavon Frazier, Safety, Central Michigan – Round six, Dairus Jackson, RB, Easter Michigan – Round six, Rico Gathers, TE, Baylor – Round six
The Cowboys have taken a little heat for grabbing Elliott so early with Jaylen Ramsey sitting right there for the taking, but Elliott would already be my pick as a possible offensive rookie of the year. He’s playing behind the best offensive line in football and with a healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, should have plenty of room to move, rarely facing more than seven men in the box. Yes, No. 4 was early to grab him and I don’t think he’s Adrian Peterson or Todd Gurley, but he’ll be in the Pro Bowl this offseason.
Having the stones to go ahead and pick Smith in round two gives the Cowboys two first-rounders in this draft. Collins and Tapper could very well be starters in Week One because of all the suspensions along Dallas’ line. My man-crush on Dak Prescott has been well established and Jerry Jones worries about missing out on Paxton Lynch will disappear once training camp starts.
Next: Broncos, Lions and Packers
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