It’s almost here. The 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, TX, is about to begin on Thursday night. And months of evaluations on and off the filed will culminate with the teams doing their best “educated guesswork,” as to which prospects will help them.
And, now we get to see what they are all really thinking, as they have to put their selections where their bluffs and disinformation have been for weeks.
So, for the Buccaneers, currently picking seventh, and the Dolphins, currently selecting 11th, we at F.F.I. have heightened interest in what they will be up to in the first two hours of the process Thursday night.
And we love leaning on the knowledge and the “crystal ball” of our Fanrag Sports brothers at NDT Scouting, and specifically, Joe Marino. Marino, after all, had the best first round mock draft score with nine correct team-player matches and overall predicted 28 of the 32 players taken round one.
And yesterday, he put out his final mock for Thursday night and we were intrigued to look. Again, this is what he predicts teams will do, not what he would do, if the picks were his alone.
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) April 25, 2018
Interestingly, while Marino is in agreement with most analysts and “mockers” that Sam Darnold is the pick for the Browns at #1 overall, he doesn’t have the Giants following with a QB of their own. Instead, he has them taking Penn State RB Saquon Barkley. It’s important to point out that most do NOT have Barkley going, as high as one or two.
If that does happen, then mayhem ensues to try to get two or three of the remaining quarterbacks.
Marino’s top six plays out with Jets getting Baker Mayfield at #3, and then, the Browns, with Barkley off the board going to a defensive end at the top of the first round (Myles Garrett 2017) for the second straight year with Bradley Chubb of N.C. State. Then, he has a trade scenario with the Broncos giving their pick to the Bills to take QB Josh Allen at five.
Next in this scenario from Marino is that the Colts will keep their sixth pick, even though Josh Rosen is sitting there for someone trade up for, and Indy takes Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson.
Now, the Buccaneers would be in the same position to listen to trade offers for Rosen, but here’s what Marino wrote about what he believes happens:
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
“Tampa Bay needs more playmakers on defense and James versatility, ball skills, athleticism, size and physicality is exactly what the defense needs. A tenure-defining season lies ahead for head coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht to fix the defense and James would be a wise investment.”
This would be a popular pick with the Noles fan base, however, most don’t view this a “need” for the Bucs. We shall see.
Eventually, Marino worked his way to #11 and what the Dolphins will do (bearing in mind Miami might try to trade up earlier in this scenario).
11. Miami Dolphins: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
“Nobody likes a big splash quite like Mike Tannenbaum and Rosen certainly does that. Pairing Rosen’s skill set with Adam Gase puts Miami’s offense in good hands moving forward. Current starter Ryan Tannehill is on the wrong side of 30, coming off a knee injury and is quite expensive.”
As we have repeatedly written, either the Dolphins are “smitten” with Baker Mayfield or they’ve done a great job of making everyone think that they are. Will Rosen suffice as a consolation to that? We are not so sure.
However, Joe Marino has some “mock draft mojo” going, and we’re finally about to find out what happens.
It won’t be much longer.
Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars rookies take part in “Rookie Premier”
The NFLPA hosted members of the 2018 NFL Draft class in Los Angeles over the course of the last three days, With several Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars represented, there were also state school players there, as well.
First, the 40 rookies attended a seminar, and then all got the opportunity to see their jerseys for the first time together:
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) May 19, 2018
For the Bucs, rookie running back Ronald Jones out of USC has now settled on #27, Dolphins rookie TE Mike Gesicki donned his #86 and new teammate RB Kalen Ballage, his #33, and for the Jaguars rookie D.J. Chark saw his #17 with everyone else, too.
Of course, the marquee quarterbacks from the top ten of last month’s draft have and will continue to grab most of the attention.
This included the Browns #1 overall pick, Baker Mayfield, the Jets and their new “savior” in Josh Darnold, Josh Allen of the Bills and Josh Rosen of the Cardinals.
The guys took a group photo Saturday morning:
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) May 19, 2018
Interesting that there were also several state school players who were out in Southern California taking part in the three day event, and also got the same chance to put their new colors on, etc.
One of those is former USF star receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who was taken by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round and he was eager to put on social media his first rookie card:
— Marquez V-S (@MVS__11) May 19, 2018
Also in attendance was former Hurricanes now Bengals running back Mark Walton putting on his #32. And former Louisville Heisman quarter back Lamar Jackson, who’s also a former high school star in Boynton Beach, decided to show some dance moves in his video shoot:
I should’ve did the whole thing just gave a little something 😈 pic.twitter.com/yzRC3MTS52
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) May 19, 2018
Did Dolphins and Bucs make mistake passing on FSU’s Derwin James?
Granted we are just after the NFL Draft process late last month and no one has played an actual game, but the analysis continues to pour in on players and the teams that drafted them.
One name that keeps coming up under the heading of “steal” in round one is FSU safety Derwin James.
The L.A. Chargers ended up sitting where they were at #17 and got the Noles All American safety to fill a need.
However, as the draft played out, the Dolphins, were not able to grab a quarterback, and decided with the 11th pick to draft Alabama safety/corner Minknah Fitzpatrick.
As we wrote, Fins owner Stephen Ross was apparently against that decision, but was convinced to let his front office make that pick instead of trading down to get more selections.
The Buccaneers could have also taken James after trading down to in deal with the Bills, but Tampa Bay chose Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.
Both clubs have a mix of veteran and young safeties, but you could make the argument that James would be able to step in and make an immediate huge impact in 2018. And, that’s what Pro Football focus discussed Tuesday:
The Chargers landed one of the biggest potential steals of round one when Derwin James fell into their laps. Here's what we thought about that pick and the rest of their draft:https://t.co/8R1P8awyCF pic.twitter.com/0X2nYzvjBP
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 15, 2018
As PFF points out, that 90.6 grade in pass coverage was #1 in their ranking formula for college safeties, and also his overall grade (92.1) on their scale ranked him #2. And as you can see from their info/photo they had James ranked their fifth best player in the entire draft.
You can also see more about what PFF’s analysts think about James’ game translating to the next level and the fit with the Chargers in their video here:
In the Fins case, they went with a player from Nick Saban’s defensive back factory at Alabama. Again, he’s had 10 defensive backs drafted in the first or second round of his Bama tenure. So, you cannot say that was a bad pick, unless Fitzpatrick is terrible/lost (unlikely), and James is tremendous from year one.
In the Bucs case, they drafted a young physical safety in Justin Evans in the second round last year and eventually took another safety, Jordan Whitehead of Pitt, on day three of the draft this year.
So, both teams would tell you that they addressed the need both last year and this year.
Now, will James’ play make them both regret that they had the chance to take him?
We will find out this fall.
Will Mark Walton get significant carries for the Bengals?
When the Cincinnati Bengals selected Mark Walton in the fourth round it wasn’t just for the former Miami Hurricane to not compete for playing time. You have to understand before his ankle injury which cut short his 2017 season, Walton was projected to be as high as a second round pick. Obviously the injury hurt his stock, but he still could play a significant role in his rookie season.
MARK WALTON, Miami (5-9 ½, 202, 4.59, Round 4): Third-year junior declared early even though ankle surgery ended his final season after four games. “He should have stayed in school,” one scout said. “He’s not very good. Just kind of a one-speed guy and gets tackled easily. No elusiveness.” Had a big season in 2016 (1,117). Finished with just 395 carries for 1,995 (5.1) and 26 TDs along with 56 receptions for 624.
That said another scout didn’t hold the same view of Walton at all.
“He’s got a PhD of football,” said another scout. “Poor, hungry and determined.” From Miami. “He’s explosive as heck,” a third scout said. “Just little. Big-play ability. Effective out of the backfield. He can cut and slide at full speed and can outrun the angles.”
Not sure what tape the first scout watched on Walton, it must have been right after he had his first ankle injury last season, where for a few carries he was a little slow. He did end up with over 200 yards on the ground that day. He’s an explosive player once healthy and can find seems and make the long ball runs.
The Bengals have quite a bit a depth now with Walton at running back. Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard are already there. Plus there’s Brian Hill and Tra Carson. One thing that makes Walton valuable is his special teams abilities.
He’s capable of receiving kickoffs and punts, plus he’s excellent on coverage of both. The fact that he’s also a reliable receiver in the backfield also gives him a nice advantage as far as earning playing time. Considering his diverse value, Mark Walton will be making some kind of impact his rookie season, provided he remains healthy. Not sure what the heck that one scout was talking about.
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