INSIDER'S SCOOP FROM BEN GRAHAM - THE 2018 NFL DRAFT!
From the desk of Ben Graham
The NFL Draft this weekend is a sporting event beyond proportion without a game of any sorts being played. It attracts a huge TV audience in prime time over 3 days and the purest to the craziest fans find their way to the Draft city to let their hoots and hollers do the talking. I have outlined below a few details:
This is the 83rd NFL Draft (1st draft in 1936), and whilst there are plenty of similarities to the AFL Draft, it took 50 years for the AFL to follow suit. This is the first time the NFL draft has been held in Texas and the first time it will be held in an NFL Stadium.
The 3 days it takes is fascinating for the fans as they closely monitor their team wheel and deal their way through 3 days of speculation, picks and trades. Compensation picks are granted to teams depending on what they have gained or lost during the free-agency period and teams can trade live picks during the NFL Draft. There are 256 selections in 7 rounds. To be eligible, players must be at least 3 years removed from High School. There is a time limit on each pick which just adds to the drama. NFL Clubs have:
- 10 minutes per selection in the 1st Round
- 7 minutes per selection in the 2nd Round
- 5 minutes per selection in the Round 3-6
- 4 minutes per selection in the 7th Round
Here is a snapshot of the position of each team (including each teams’ first pick in the Draft):
Cleveland Browns (1st and 4th) – have been active in free agency, need a QB (either Josh Allen or Sam Darnold), 2 picks in the first 4 is massive for the Browns, if they take a QB with the 1st pick, expect a defensive player, maybe Bradly Chubb, a defensive end.
New York Giants (2nd) – hoping QB Eli Manning can bounce back in his twilight years but drafting a running back will help. Saquon Barkley looks the goods but wouldn’t be surprised if they select a QB later in the draft.
New York Jets (3rd) – long time since any success, might be looking to take a franchise QB, likely who the Browns don’t pick.
Denver Broncos (5th) – the team in most need of a QB, it will fascinating to see who lands in their lap, its not their only need, the new toy will need protection and weapons.
Indianapolis Colts (6th) – hoping Andrew Luck can make a full recovery but they need all the help they can get on defence.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7th) – not that Doug Martin was the answer but he does need to be replaced so a running back is definitely on the agenda in Tampa Bay.
Chicago Bears (8th) – where do we start with the Bears, probably need most help on defence to try to reclaim the mantle of the NFL’s best defence.
San Francisco 49ers (9th) – with Jimmy Garropolo proving to be the answer at QB, it will be the defence (particularly the pass rush) that the 49ers should be focusing on.
Oakland Raiders (10th) – I’m a fan of Raiders’ offence especially Derek Carr so I’m expecting a defensive flavoured draft here as the offence mostly set for now.
Miami Dolphins (11th) – like most struggling teams, Miami will be looking for their next QB. They also need playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Buffalo Bills (12th) – with multiple picks in the 1st round, the Bills could package them up to trade up for a QB or wait for the 2 best players available at each pick such as a tackle and a linebacker.
Washington Redskins (13th) – Alex Smith is going to need protection so the Redskins will look to start with the offensive line but also needs some beasts and playmakers on defence.
Green Bay Packers (14th) – how long does Aaron Rodgers have? Great that he’s back but time to give him some new weapons on offence and some speed on defence.
Arizona Cardinals (15th) – even though QB Sam Bradford was signed in free agency, the Cardinals will be looking for a QB of the future but also need to solidify the offensive line to protect whoever sits in the pocket.
Baltimore Ravens (16th) – have been busy in the off-season but need to be healthy as they weren’t too far away from a play-off berth last season. Joe Flacco receives a couple of wide receivers through free agency but also needs protection.
Los Angeles Chargers (17th) – can you trust Phillip Rivers? Surely, the Chargers will be looking deep for his replacement but they do have more pressing needs such as in the trenches (offensive and defensive lines). Rivers won’t be disappointed if they add more weapons on offence.
Seattle Seahawks (18th) – what happened to the Legion of Boom? Injuries cost the Seahawks last season and too much was expected of Russell Wilson so he needs help, both to protect him and run the ball. The Legion could also do with a make over.
Dallas Cowboys (19th) – with Dez Bryant released, will the Cowboys take a receiver or will they invest on the defence? I’m thinking both early.
Detroit Lions (20th) – so much was expected of the Lions last season but again, injuries to key players hurt them. I’m happy with their offence so it should be the defence where the Lions’ attention should be focussed particularly at linebacker and defensive tackle.
Cincinnati Bengals (21st) – I wouldn’t have thought Marvin Lewis would be calling the shots come the draft day but he gets another chance. I think Andy Dalton is a decent QB but he needs protection so look for the Bengals to beef up the front line.
New England Patriots (23rd & 31st) – not the way the Patriots wanted to finish the season losing to the Eagles in the SuperBowl but the defence let them down time and time again. This should be a defence dominated draft for the Patriots.
Carolina Panthers (24th) – I’m a big fan of Cam Newton and I say give the man some weapons at wide receiver. They also need speed on defence.
Tennessee Titans (25th) – expect big things from the Titans this season and while they have been busy in free agency on both sides of the ball, they need a couple of big boys up front on defence.
Atlanta Falcons (26th) – weren’t far away from a SuperBowl berth but still as solid as they come. Will look to build depth right across the roster but the one potential weakness is at defensive tackle.
New Orleans Saints (27th) – another solid outfit who often rely on the offence to win games but it’s time for the Saints to invest in the defence particularly at linebacker and safety.
Pittsburgh Steelers (28th) – imagine losing a game you were expected to win because you were focussing on your next opponent. Well that’s what happened to the Steelers and it was the defence that proved to be their achilles heel. 3 players signed on defence during free agency won’t be the end of stocking up but the Steelers must also look for a replacement for Big Ben.
Jacksonville Jaguars (29th) – the surprise packet of last season, all thanks to the defence. All the focus should be on finding a QB and build around him.
Minnesota Vikings (30th) – have filled some holes in free agency (signing Kirk Cousins at QB and Sheldon Richardson at defensive tackle) so will be interesting how they play this years’ draft considering how close they were to play in a home SuperBowl.
Philadelphia Eagles (32nd) – an amazing season winning Super Bowl 52 so will be happy to sit back and wait to see what is left on the board at pick 32. Best player available the likely strategy but will look to continue to build depth to an already strong roster.
Kansas City Chiefs (54th) – who knows what the Chiefs are planning on but pick 54 may throw up a player who has slipped out of the 1st round.
Houston Texans (68th) – like the Chiefs but after a disappointing season, it’ll be a long wait but the 3rd round has been known to throw up many a diamond in the rough.
Los Angeles Rams (87th) – the last team to take a pick in the draft (as it stands). With Goff at QB and Gurley III at RB being certain stars of the future, it’ll be time for the Rams to add more depth to the defence.