NFL DRAFT POST MORTEM: REACHES & STEALS
STEAL: Kristian Fulton, CB, Tennessee Titans
Fulton is a rare example of an LSU talent whose draft stock was not boosted by their championship season. Most expected him to be picked up towards the end of the first round. The Tennessee Titans were one of those teams. It seems that Logan Ryan’s time in Tennessee has ended, and a replacement was sought after.
Tennessee did not pick up Fulton with their first pick, instead opting to select tackle Isaiah Wilson at #29. Luckily, he fell as far as their second pick at #61. This is a surprise – defensive backs from LSU are as close to a sure thing as you can get in football. Fulton is strong in press coverage, and will transition well as a slot cornerback.
Fulton’s past may well have been to blame for his fall. A one year ban from the game for tampering with a urine sample must have put teams off. Where some teams saw this as a character issue, Head Coach Mike Vrabel was impressed by his honesty. The Titans will hope that he has matured and will use this experience to make better choices in the pros.
Few would have been surprised to see Fulton go on Thursday night. Many were shocked to see him still on the board on Friday. The Titans have managed to get great value for a DBU alumnus this time out.
REACH: Austin Jackson, OT, Miami Dolphins
Don’t get me wrong, I like this pick. Jackson is only 20 years old, and has predominantly played at right tackle in his time at USC. With the Dolphins investing their future success in a left handed quarterback, the right tackle position takes on even more importance. Rather than select a LT in the hope of converting his position, Miami selected Jackson for his experience there.
My issue with this pick is that Jackson would almost certainly have been there at pick #26, or possibly on Day 2 for that matter. The only offensive lineman to be taken between #18 and #26 was Cesar Ruiz, who was selected by the Saints. Miami’s line was the worst in the entire NFL in 2019. The fact that they took a lineman on every day of the Draft suggests that they have a long term vision to protect Tua Tagovailoa. Jackson could have been there with the third pick for the Dolphins at much better value.
Had I been Miami’s front office, I would have taken K’Lavon Chaisson at #18, and expected Austin Jackson to fall down the board. Miami’s pass rush is in dire need of improvement, and Chaisson was great value in the middle of the first round. In the worst case scenario, there was enough draft capital to get ahead of their rivals and take Jackson if they needed to.
Miami clearly rates Jackson higher than most. Fortunately, they had a bevy of picks to address other team needs later on. Only time will tell if Miami were right to take Jackson as early as they did.
REACH: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Seattle Seahawks
NFL fans are used to Seattle trading back. The fact that people were shocked that the Seahawks didn’t trade back in 2020 speaks volumes. If they’d have done so and taken Brooks, it would have been good value. Because they didn’t, they might have overpaid.
Brooks is an effective tackler that stifles the run game. In a pass-heavy league, you might have expected Seattle to take a player with more proficiency against the pass. Brooks will have to work hard to develop his game in coverage. In four years at Texas Tech, we haven’t seen that skill-set develop.
In an NFC West which Seattle will have their eyes on topping in 2020, it’s hard to see where Brooks helps them in “win-now” mode. Few expected him to go ahead of Patrick Queen. Others expected Seattle to address more pressing needs, notably on the offensive line or pass rush. Taking Josh Jones or Yetur Gross-Matos wouldn’t have raised many eyebrows on Thursday. Picking Brooks did.
STEAL: Denzel Mims, WR, New York Jets
I expected Mims to go between picks #20 and #40. Ranked 6th amongst all wide receivers, Mims has the perfect combination of size (6′ 3″) and speed (sub 4.40 dash at the Combine) to succeed in the NFL.
The depth of this year’s WR class meant that some talents would slip down the board. Mims was the most noticeable of these. He was the 13th receiver taken off the board. Presumably some teams were concerned about his drops at Baylor.
When Mims landed to the Jets at #48, most Gang Green fans were desperate for Joe Douglas to take him. When the Jets traded back, it looked as if the opportunity had passed them by. An agonising 11 picks later, and Mims was still miraculously on the board. This time, Douglas wasn’t going to overlook the Baylor Bear again. Sam Darnold will be hoping to replicate the chemistry he enjoyed with Robby Anderson, who left for Carolina this off-season. Mims has the speed, power and chip on his shoulder to be a focal point of the Jets in his rookie year.
Douglas turned pick #48 into Denzel Mims and two further selections. He went on to strengthen the Jets roster with backup QB James Morgan and guard Cameron Clark. Not only were roster holes filled, but Douglas got his QB a shiny new WR to work with in 2020.
TOM WATCHED HIS FIRST EVER NFL GAME AT AN EX’S HOME IN NORTH CAROLINA IN 2013 AND “ENCOURAGED” TO SUPPORT THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS. ONE BREAK-UP AND FOUR YEARS LATER, HE SWITCHED ALLEGIANCE TO THE JETS AND HAS BEEN OBSESSED WITH THE GAME EVER SINCE. TOM CAN BE FOUND ON TWITTER AT @DOWNTHEMANNYRD