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Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press
Hindsight and “what if?” scenarios are prominent factors of the NFL draft process.
Looking back at the 2018 NFL draft with the benefit of hindsight, it is safe to say if a re-draft happened, things would unfold dramatically differently.
Maybe not at the top: The Cleveland Browns would likely still take Baker Mayfield. But prospects who fell out of the first round and went on to play well would go in the opening round if it happened again. Prospects who didn’t match expectations would fall out.
In the following re-draft, let’s look at how NFL teams might approach the 2018 class using the final order after trades and a need- and value-based approach now that the class has had a year to put a resume on paper.
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Ron Schwane/Associated Press
Original selection: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Re-draft selection: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Browns got it right the first time with Mayfield.
While it wasn’t the most popular move at the time given the silliness of the NFL draft process, Mayfield ended up proving himself in the right circumstances.
Right circumstances, meaning the dismissal of Hue Jackson and Todd Haley. Once that happened, Mayfield went on an epic tear to close the season and actually had the Browns in the playoff conversation. His reward is the front office rallying around him by investing in Odell Beckham Jr. and other weapons.
Even in a re-draft, it doesn’t get easier than this.
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Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Original selection: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Re-draft selection: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Saquon Barkley was undisputedly amazing as a rookie. He drummed up more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage while doing all he could to carry the New York Giants.
But he wasn’t a quarterback.
Meanwhile, in New York, Sam Darnold showed some promise with the Jets, throwing 17 touchdown passes and flashing some of the franchise potential every team covets. Had he landed with the Giants, he would have learned from Eli Manning and benefited from targets like Beckham and Sterling Shepard.
And they would likely still sit close to their sixth pick in 2019, where they could theoretically go get an elite edge-rusher and still grab a running back from a deep class in the second round.
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Steven Senne/Associated Press
Original selection: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Re-draft selection: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
In this scenario, the Jets don’t get a shot at Darnold, who they would take again.
Josh Allen out of Wyoming will do. Allen was just as controversial as Mayfield at first overall when he came off the board seventh to the Buffalo Bills. Detractors probably had smirks on their faces about his play until he came back from injury, rebounding with eight of his 10 touchdown passes in just six games.
With a massive arm and a willingness to take off and lower his shoulder (eight rushing scores), Allen still has an outside shot at being the best quarterback from the class. Going to the Jets wouldn’t change that.
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Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press
Original selection: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Re-draft selection: Derwin James, S, Florida State
The Browns did an incredible job of finding value in the face of skepticism with Denzel Ward.
He just wasn’t Derwin James.
Ward looked like a shutdown player with three picks and 53 tackles en route to the Pro Bowl. But James was even better at safety, earning All-Pro honors with three interceptions, 3.5 sacks, 13 passes defensed and 105 total tackles.
The Browns couldn’t go wrong either way, but James—an All-Pro in his rookie season—would be hard to pass up.
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Jack Dempsey/Associated Press
Original selection: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
Re-draft selection: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
The way this re-draft is going, the Denver Broncos have some intriguing options on the board.
But John Elway and the front office got it right the first time with NC State’s Bradley Chubb. He was a force opposite Von Miller, tallying 12 sacks and 14 tackles for loss—and much of it was his own prowess creating pressure, not just benefiting from playing with Miller.
With the Broncos still content to go after win-now veteran options like Joe Flacco under center, the best move here is still forming one of the NFL’s most potent pass rushes. It isn’t a luxury item anymore—a tandem capable of stuttering opposing offenses is a necessity to compete.
Outside of James, Chubb is going to end up as the best defensive player from the 2018 class.
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Jeff Haynes/Associated Press
Original selection: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Re-draft selection: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The Indianapolis Colts have some interesting options at their disposal given this new board (and the re-draft won’t do them any favors because some of their real-life picks will be taken before they have a chance to get them again).
But the Colts can’t afford to steer away from the course at No. 6 with Quenton Nelson.
Yes, cornerback is a more premium position, and Ward is available. But nothing comes before making sure Andrew Luck stays healthy for the short and long term. Nelson earned an All-Pro selection in his first season and helped Luck play at a higher level.
Keep in mind, too, guards are more important than ever given that interior defenders are better at creating pressure up the middle than they used to be. Pressure off the edges is bad enough. Nelson was a massive part of the reason Luck only suffered 18 sacks last season, down from the 56 the line allowed the year prior to Indy quarterbacks.
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Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
Original selection: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Re-draft selection: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The re-draft process isn’t too kind to the Buffalo Bills here—but it isn’t the end of the world.
Allen is already off the board, but the Bills still need a potential franchise passer, so UCLA’s Josh Rosen is the natural fit.
Rosen continues to come under fire during the buildup to the 2019 draft because Arizona’s new coaching staff appears to be infatuated with Kyler Murray. And the numbers indeed don’t look great: Rosen played in 14 games and completed 55.2 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
But…it is never so simple. Rosen flashed plenty of massive upside in the form of accuracy, reading defenses and poise. There was a dumpster fire around him, hence the previous coaching staff no longer being with the team. He was thrown to the wolves, the offense rarely used former MVP contender David Johnson right, and overall Arizona was and is mired in the NFL’s biggest rebuild.
So, no, the jury isn’t out on Rosen, and he would be worth a shot for Buffalo.
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Mark Zaleski/Associated Press
Original selection: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Re-draft selection: Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State
Imagine drafting Roquan Smith but being able to do even better in a do-over.
So it goes for the Chicago Bears, who hit on a strong pick with Smith but instead grab Indianapolis’ Darius Leonard this time out.
The Defensive Rookie of the Year out of South Carolina State was taken 36th overall and played 15 games, recording 163 total tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions. He was the embodiment of a sideline-to-sideline enforcer in the mold of today’s smaller (234 pounds), all-around defenders at the position.
Leonard would look quite good next to Khalil Mack.
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Tony Avelar/Associated Press
Original selection: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Re-draft selection: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The San Francisco 49ers would probably love to grab a skill-position player or perhaps another linebacker to pair with a Kwon Alexander so they don’t have to think about the unit for a long time.
But John Lynch and the front office have suffered through the injured-franchise-player schtick once, and one time is too many.
Instead of getting the franchise off the ground and running again, Jimmy Garoppolo only made it through 89 pass attempts. In the meantime, Mike McGlinchey quietly was one of the best right tackles in football, bullying defenders in the running game and holding up well in pass protection.
While not as pretty as some other options here, McGlinchey is one of the most valuable pieces of the 49ers rebuild for a reason.
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Gail Burton/Associated Press
Original selection: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Re-draft selection: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Arizona Cardinals get backed into a corner here but still have a good option available under center with Lamar Jackson.
Jackson, after all, didn’t exactly enter a great situation in Baltimore when Flacco went down. The cast of weapons around him were ho-hum. He ended up completing 58.2 percent of his passes with six touchdowns against three interceptions and rushing for 695 yards and five scores on a 4.7 per-carry average.
The Ravens won six of seven with Jackson starting and made the playoffs, where he threw two touchdowns and rushed for six yards per carry in a losing effort.
The Cardinals would love to have a versatile, moldable piece like Jackson under center to put in the same offense as David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.
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Jeff Haynes/Associated Press
Original selection: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Re-draft selection: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
The Miami Dolphins don’t get a ton of noteworthy press, with a lack of winning being the most prominent reason.
But the Dolphins did get it right with Minkah Fitzpatrick, who quietly came aboard and bounced between safety and cornerback as the need required of him. In the process, he lived up to his draft billing, picking off two passes and registering 80 total tackles.
Versatility is one of the bigger assets Fitzpatrick brings to the table and one of the better things a defense can have. He is a blue-chip player for the Dolphins already and the right pick in a division with the never-aging Tom Brady.
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Ron Schwane/Associated Press
Original selection: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Re-draft selection: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The door isn’t shut on Vita Vea having a solid NFL career, but a calf injury limited him in his first season. He appeared in 13 games and notched 28 total tackles with three sacks.
A team in a massive rebuild like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers simply needs more from a top-12 pick.
So ends the slide of Ward, who finished his debut season with 13 games played and 53 total tackles, one forced fumble and three interceptions to his name. The biggest knock on him is the fact that he suffered two concussions during his rookie season.
Provided he can stay healthy, Ward would fill the Bucs’ need at cornerback.
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Gregory Payan/Associated Press
Original selection: Daron Payne, DT, Alabama
Re-draft selection: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Washington Redskins quietly got a superb season out of Daron Payne, who arrived next to another Alabama product in Jonathan Allen and put up five sacks without missing a game, stumping evaluators who suggested he might not be a great pass-rusher in the pros.
But the Redskins can do even better here.
Derrius Guice was a good get in the second round but suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason. Adrian Peterson was a fun story as he rumbled for 1,000 yards. And Chris Thompson again couldn’t stay healthy.
So why not swipe Saquon Barkley out of a free fall? All Barkley did with the Giants last year was go over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, netting 1,307 rushing yards, 721 receiving yards and 15 total touchdowns.
That’s one way to uplift an offense that’s still in need of a franchise quarterback.
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Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press
Original selection: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Re-draft selection: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
The New Orleans Saints made a big-upside move with the trade up for UTSA’s Marcus Davenport.
It was a divisive move, but Davenport flashed some of the upside by registering 22 total tackles and 4.5 sacks over 13 games as a rookie.
While one could argue a more instant-impact defender might have made the Saints better in 2018, they still finished with 13 wins and made the NFC title game before getting robbed by poor officiating.
For the Saints, Davenport is still the right blend of current and future impact given the team’s need for blue-chip centerpieces who can carry the roster once Drew Brees decides to hang up the cleats.
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Nick Wass/Associated Press
Original selection: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
Re-draft selection: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
The Oakland Raiders were one of the notable “meh” grades coming out of the 2018 draft after they rolled the dice on Kolton Miller, who looked more like a promising athlete than NFL-ready tackle.
Now the Raiders are paying top-of-market money to Trent Brown, a risky endeavor considering he’s had only one solid year to his name.
So, no, the Raiders can’t ignore the offensive line here. Orlando Brown, infamous for one of the worst combines ever, went on to have an elite season in Baltimore on the right side after falling to the third round. He’d be a natural fit in Oakland and secure an edge, especially if Brown can pan out on the left side.
As usual, nothing is more important than protecting passers. Derek Carr took 51 sacks last season. Whether it is him or a rookie under center in 2019, the Raiders have to do better.
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Jeff Haynes/Associated Press
Original selection: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Re-draft selection: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
In this scenario, like the real one, the Bills already grabbed a potential franchise passer with their first pick. In the real world, the front office followed with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who had a great season with 121 total tackles and a pair of sacks, forced fumbles and interceptions.
But they could do better.
In the pursuit of giving their young passer the best chance to succeed, a playmaker like Calvin Ridley makes more sense. He put up 821 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie, impressive numbers for a first-year player stuck on an offense also featuring Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, not to mention pass-catching backs.
In Buffalo, Ridley could help along a developing passer while serving as the centerpiece of the passing attack.
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Don Wright/Associated Press
Original selection: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Re-draft selection: Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forest
The Los Angeles Chargers emerge as losers in this one, as any team missing out on a surefire All-Pro selection would.
But it isn’t so bad.
The Chargers end up with a superb consolation prize in the form of Wake Forest’s Jessie Bates. He was a second-round pick by Cincinnati and put on an absolute show, totaling 111 tackles with seven pass breakups and three interceptions thanks to the elite range he flashed on film.
While the Chargers would like to have James every time, Bates is as close to best-in-class at his position as it gets, all things considered.
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Peter B Joneleit/Associated Press
Original selection: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Re-draft selection: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
This one doesn’t make the Green Bay Packers brass think too hard.
There are some quality prospects at different positions still on the board at this point, but the Packers wouldn’t be able to justify passing on a top-tier prospect at a premium position in Jaire Alexander.
Alexander was the Packers’ original pick here for a reason. He proved them right over 13 games, recording 66 total tackles with one interception and 11 passes defensed.
The Louisville product was productive and encouraging based on his long-term shutdown potential thanks to his blend of skills. Green Bay needs it as opposing teams continue to spam the pass while presumably attempting to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers.
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Jeff Haynes/Associated Press
Original selection: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Re-draft selection: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
As a team in need of a linebacker, the Dallas Cowboys can’t go wrong with the way this draft falls.
Here, the Cowboys could easily justify Leighton Vander Esch again. Or, they could opt to go with the original eighth pick, Roquan Smith. The Georgia product was right there as one of the best linebackers in the class, with 121 total tackles, five sacks and an interception despite a short summer due to a contract dispute and hamstring injury.
Smith solves a problem for the Cowboys and offers immense upside to boot. His bigger upside and instant impact make him the top linebacker on the board. It puts them in the same position they find themselves now, if not better for the long term.
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David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Original selection: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
Re-draft selection: James Daniels, OL, Iowa
Like the Cowboys before them, the Detroit Lions can’t really make a bad pick in a re-draft format.
The Lions originally grabbed Frank Ragnow, and he helped spur an improved running game last season, though he couldn’t do it all on his own.
But James Daniels in Chicago, a second-round pick, did just as well at his interior line spot and potentially offers even more in the way of upside. He can play all three interior positions, which would give Detroit flexibility as it rounds out the line in front of Matthew Stafford.
With massive upside but proven Year 1 production, Daniels gets a bump to the first round and the Lions stay the course.
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Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
Original selection: Billy Price, C, Ohio State
Re-draft selection: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
The Cincinnati Bengals had the right idea with Billy Price but didn’t get much out of him. He got hurt, sent an errant snap that ended Andy Dalton‘s season as the quarterback tried to recover it, and the team found a capable starter in the interim in Trey Hopkins.
Needless to say, linebacker is the biggest issue in the Queen City. Preston Brown is merely a two-down thumper, so the Bengals need a rangy, every-down player in the middle, and guys on the weak side such as Jordan Evans and Malik Jefferson have failed to pan out.
The Bengals can right the mistake at No. 21 with Leighton Vander Esch, another superb linebacker from the 2018 class who put up 140 total tackles and two interceptions in his rookie season.
Had the Bengals made such a move in 2018, the Zac Taylor era would be free of the burden heading into its first draft, where something like quarterback could then be addressed.
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Lynne Sladky/Associated Press
Original selection: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Re-draft selection: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
On paper, the Tennessee Titans wanted to add a rangy linebacker who could help in all areas. Rashaan Evans might fill this role just fine in the future and had a so-so debut season.
Tremaine Edmunds, on the other hand, punched the gas pedal on arrival and didn’t let up.
Edmunds didn’t generate the same hype as some of his classmates, yet over 15 games he had 121 total tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. He also flexed his muscle in the passing game with 12 passes defensed.
As more immediate help and with perhaps a higher ceiling, Edmunds is a slight but understandable pivot for the Titans in a re-draft.
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Bill Feig/Associated Press
Original selection: Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia
Re-draft selection: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
The New England Patriots are an embarrassment of riches and didn’t even need first-round pick Isaiah Wynn last season, as he didn’t see a single snap.
So why not have some fun? Rob Gronkowski was always theoretically on his way out the door soon, so adding more weapons to help out Tom Brady seems fair enough.
D.J. Moore was the 24th pick a season ago but didn’t have a lot of room to spread his wings in Carolina given the quarterback situation. He caught 55 passes for 788 yards and two touchdowns, numbers that figured to get a boost in New England.
High upside at a skill position makes Moore an interesting fit in a passing offense with plenty of looks about to open up.
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Steven Senne/Associated Press
Original selection: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
Re-draft selection: Robert Foster, WR, Alabama
Almost regardless of what happens in front of them on the board, the Carolina Panthers need to keep focusing on getting Cam Newton targets.
To that end, Alabama’s Robert Foster is an intriguing high-upside option. Foster was an afterthought last season for the most part because he got cut before linking back up with the Buffalo Bills. Later, he was promoted off the practice squad and broke out for 27 catches, 541 yards and three scores while averaging a stellar 20 yards per catch.
Foster’s ability to work the field at all three levels is an ideal scenario for Newton in the coming years. The offense will need more help regardless, but Foster is a dangerous addition defenses would have to account for at all times.
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Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Original selection: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
Re-draft selection: Chris Herndon, TE, Miami
The Baltimore Ravens clearly went into the 2018 draft looking to upgrade at tight end.
Yet, first-round pick Hayden Hurst got outplayed by Mark Andrews, who came off the board two rounds later. The No. 25 pick caught 13 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. Andrews, for comparison, had 552 yards and three scores. From a developmental standpoint, Hurst is already going on 26 years old in August.
For the sake of value, the re-draft move is Miami’s Chris Herndon. He slipped to the New York Jets in the fourth round yet put up 39 catches for 502 yards and four scores and is two-and-a-half years younger than Hurst.
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Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Original selection: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Re-draft selection: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
It’s a shame the Atlanta Falcons have ended up missing out on notable offensive producers, but Ridley always felt like a luxury pick anyway.
The Falcons can target a third wideout at a different time, while the line in front of Matt Ryan needs some help.
Ryan’s numbers didn’t suffer last year, but it doesn’t mean much if he takes 42 sacks and eventually ends up getting hurt. Will Hernandez was one of the easiest prospects to project a year ago, and that doesn’t change here. He’d suit up as a starter for the Falcons right away and boost the line’s performance.
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Bill Sikes/Associated Press
Original selection: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
Re-draft selection: Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia
The Seattle Seahawks also somewhat perplexingly rolled with a luxury pick in running back Rashaad Penny.
With Chris Carson and others already on the roster, Penny didn’t see a ton of chances to make an impact. He rushed 85 times for 419 yards and two touchdowns on 4.9 yards per carry and has plenty of upside, but the Seahawks are the type of team that always squeezes the most out of later-round picks in the backfield.
The Seahawks have more pressing needs when it comes to the offensive line in front of Russell Wilson and the pass rush. A long-term need addressed in the form of offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn would make quite a bit more sense.
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Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press
Original selection: Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech
Re-draft selection: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
As it always seems, the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for help in the secondary.
Terrell Edmunds didn’t do much to help in this regard a year ago. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t Justin Reid, either.
Reid landed with the Houston Texans in the third round and put on a show, registering 88 total tackles, one forced fumble, three interceptions and 10 passes defensed.
Reid was one of those prospects who had first-round chatter in some circles but ended up falling further than expected. Given his skill set and the need, the Steelers wouldn’t mind changing that.
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Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press
Original selection: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Re-draft selection: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Jacksonville Jaguars only got 20 tackles and one sack out of Taven Bryan as a rookie. They moved him around a bit, but he didn’t end up meeting expectations.
From a value standpoint, the Jaguars would be better off reeling in Vea, a Top 12 pick whose first season got off to a rough start thanks to a minor injury before a bigger injury scare halfway through.
Vea broke out over the course of the season’s second half, even earning a spot on Pro Football Focus’ All-Rookie team. If he can get a full offseason and preseason in and start 16 games, he could outright explode at this pace. The Jaguars wouldn’t mind having him fall in their laps this late in the order.
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Paul Sancya/Associated Press
Original selection: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Re-draft selection: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
Mike Hughes showed some flashes for the Minnesota Vikings last year, picking off a pass that he returned for a touchdown and tallying 22 tackles over two starts before going down with a torn ACL.
But Minnesota can always scoop promising corners to groom for starting roles. Protecting Kirk Cousins, however, is of immediate importance, not to mention a long-term ordeal.
This is where Ragnow comes back into the picture thanks to the value of the slot and his versatility across three spots on the interior. The Vikings need work in this area, and even worse, Cousins tended to collapse under pressure. He took 40 sacks last year, and the Vikings lost the majority of those when he was sacked more than twice.
Once again, it comes down to keeping these franchise quarterbacks upright and healthy.
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John Hefti/Associated Press
Original selection: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
Re-draft selection: Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado
Sony Michel made the Patriots look like geniuses last year as he went for 931 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He then put up six rushing scores in the playoffs on the way to a Super Bowl win.
Yet, it is hard not to like the idea of Phillip Lindsay in the same offense.
Lindsay went undrafted, landed in Denver and exploded onto the scene with ease, taking 192 carries for 1,037 yards and nine scores. Written another way, he averaged a stunning 5.4 yards per carry. The versatility was there, too, as he caught 35 passes for 241 yards and a score.
Michel won’t fall much further in a scenario like this, but Lindsay is hard to ignore.
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Bill Kostroun/Associated Press
Original selection: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Re-draft selection: Harold Landry, LB, Boston College
The Ravens don’t luck back into a quarterback this time around, and the value isn’t there for one.
Instead, they should focus on another future-minded need and add a pass-rusher in the form of Harold Landry. The Ravens lost Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith to free agency this offseason, so the need exists.
Landry, a second-round pick by Tennessee, flashed with 4.5 sacks over 15 games (three starts) as a rookie and earned a much bigger role heading into next season. He seems like a natural fit in a Baltimore front thanks to his ability to rush from all over the field, fitting a multiple look, and could produce in those spots freed up by players who left on the open market.