After months of waiting, the NFL draft is just around the corner and NFL general managers are finalizing their draft boards in preparation for Thursday’s big event. Each GM is hoping they select the future face of their franchise when their team is on the clock but some players will fit better than others. It may be unlikely that these players fall into the hands of teams they fit best but nothing is impossible when it comes to the NFL draft. These are nine players that must be taken if they are on the board when these teams have a chance to pick.
9 Perfect NFL Draft Picks
New York Giants: Saquon Barkley (RB) – Penn State
The fact that Barkley is projected to slip past the Giants and potentially out of the top ten absolutely shocks me. If Barkley is truly the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson, New York should have all hands on deck ready to pick him with the second overall pick. Barkley would be the perfect selection not only because he is the best overall prospect in the draft, but because the Giants have not had a true starting running back since Tiki Barber retired.
New York once again neglected to find a running back last season and it showed on the stat sheets. The Giants finished the 2017 season 26th in rushing yards and were in the bottom ten for the fourth time in the last five years. If Eli Manning is going to have any breathing room, he needs to have a running game by his side. The offensive line still has holes to fill but those can be addressed in the later rounds. Barkley would now be lining up on the same side of the ball as Odell Beckham Jr. and could perhaps become part of the NFL’s most improved offence in 2018.
New England Patriots: Mike McGlinchey (OT) – Notre Dame
Somehow someway the Patriots need to come up with an offensive lineman after the loss of Nate Solder. Solder recently moved on from the Pats to sign with the Giants and his presence will be heavily missed after starting at left tackle for nearly seven straight years in New England. Tom Brady is a 40-year-old quarterback and if he can’t get any protection from his blindside, the five-time Super Bowl winner could easily find himself on the disabled list after just one botched play.
McGlinchey is the best offensive tackle in this class and would be delighted to be picked up by the Patriots no matter where they pick. His only knock is that he needs to add a bit of mass to compete at the NFL level but he will have more than enough time to do that after he is drafted. A great offensive line has always been one of New Englands best traits and Bill Belichick will recognize there is a great mid-round blindside tackle that can help continue that tradition.
Baltimore Ravens: D.J. Moore (WR) – Maryland
Though Baltimore has somewhat addressed the receiving core that plagued the offence and Joe Flacco all 2017, Ozzie Newsome knows he isn’t done acquiring parts. After swinging and missing multiple times when trying to bring in Jarvis Landry, Baltimore is in dire need of a steady-handed slot receiver that can open up the middle of the field. Veterans typically find success in Ravens uniforms but Baltimore needs a youthful injection to take their offence to the next level. This leaves the draft as the last option for John Harbaugh‘s squad to pick up some more artillery for Flacco.
The Ravens would most likely be happy with picking up any of the top-three receivers in this year’s draft but Moore’s intangibles fit the Ravens too well. He has drawn comparisons to Stefon Diggs, primarily plays out the slot, and went to college in the Ravens’ backyard. Moore’s combine pushed him up draft boards everywhere but Baltimore would be hard pressed to select him with their 16th overall pick. If Calvin Ridley is off the board when the Ravens pick for the first time, Baltimore will be trading back with the hopes of picking up Moore later in the first round.
Green Bay Packers: Denzel Ward (CB) – Ohio State
There is a pretty good chance Ward is gone by the time the Packers have a chance to use their 14th overall pick but if he slips, Green Bay will be salivating waiting to select him. The Packers have a few holes to fill through the draft but the secondary is the most pressing. Finding reliable corners was not a problem in Green Bay until Charles Woodson’s departure but since there has been a lack of chemistry and stability in the secondary. Redeveloping that chemistry starts with draft a corner in the first round this year.
Ward is the consensus number one corner in this year’s draft and could fall in a similar way that Marshon Lattimore did last year. Lattimore slipped in 2017 due to overanxious teams desires to pick quarterbacks and wide receivers early in the draft and the same could happen in 2018 with five quarterbacks potentially going off the board before Green Bay picks at 14. Ward is an incredibly gifted athlete and is nimble enough to hang with both shifty and speedy receivers. Green Bay want a corner with their 14th pick and Ward is the ideal scenario.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick (CB/S) – Alabama
Fitzpatrick slipping all the way to the Bucs at no.7 is not a product of his quality as a player but because of the mad scramble for quarterbacks this year. This leaves Tampa at an advantage and most likely getting their choice between Fitzpatrick, Ward, and Derwin James when they get their first opportunity to pick. No matter who they select it will be hard to miss but Fitzpatrick’s versatility and do-it-all ability are why Tampa should select him with their first pick.
What makes Fitzpatrick so special is his ability to work hard and lead a team. As a freshman, Fitzpatrick left his stamp on the Alabama locker room by being a vocal leader and letting his play speak to his stature on the field. He may not be projected to be a true shutdown corner, but if his work ethic aligns with his goals to be the best corner he can be, it won’t be soon before Fitzpatrick is one of the best corners in the game. The Bucs already have Vernon Hargreaves on one side of the field and Fitzpatrick is the next piece in constructing an elite young secondary in Tampa Bay.
Cincinnati Bengals: Will Hernandez (OG) – UTEP
The single most underrated offseason signing in 2017 was the Rams acquisition of former Bengal Andrew Whitworth. Whitworth had become a staple in Cincinnati starting every game he played in for 10 straight years as one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. The two-time all-pro made a huge difference in LA’s offence this season and the Bengals noticeably struggled without him and guard Kevin Zeitler. The pair’s absence lead to the Bengals finishing second last in rushing yards in 2017 as opposed to 13th in 2016.
All this points to the Bengals drafting an offensive lineman with the pick they traded back for and Hernandez has been one of the fastest risers in this year’s draft. Hernadez had a great combine finishing the weekend top 10 in two drills and first in the bench press among offensive lineman with 37 reps. For how big he is, Hernadez is incredibly light on his feet but has the strength of a primed NFL guard. Cincinnati needs to begin rebuilding their porous offensive line and Hernandez could be the perfect first step.
Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice (RB) – LSU
Similar to the Giants, the Lions haven’t had any luck running the ball in a very long time. This is because of a variety of reasons but the most prominent has been how Detroit continues to employ mediocre running backs. They did this once again by signing a 31-year-old LeGarrette Blount this offseason who only ran for 766 yards on the best team in football last season. Detroit has finished dead last in the NFL in rushing yards two of the last three seasons and Guice can be the guy to finally stable their backfield.
Guice’s sample size might not be as large as most running backs to enter the draft but he showed at that time how dominant he can be. Replacing Leonard Fournette, Guice ran for an average of 7.6 yards per carry and 15 scores in 2016 while running for an absurd 276 yards in LSU’s 2017 matchup with Ole Miss. After totalling over 2500 rushing yards in his last two seasons in college, Guice looks like an ideal mid-round option for any team who needs a consistent downhill running back. Detroit needs to redevelop their running game if they hope to return and make noise in the playoffs.
Los Angeles Chargers: Vita Vea (DT) – Washington
The Chargers caught fire to finish the end of the 2017 season and would have made the playoffs if not for a tiebreaker loss with the Bills. This streak was made on the consistent play of Philip Rivers but also largely impart to the quality of LA’s young and dominant pass rush. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram might be the best pass rush duo in the entire NFL but the Chargers finished the year allowing the second most rushing yards in the league. Vea is exactly the guy LA needs to improve their pass rush even more but help stuff the run as well.
In College, Vea picked up Pac-12 defensive player of the year in 2017 on the strength of his 5.5 tackles for loss and his suffocating run stopping ability. He might not be the quickest defensive lineman but at 6’4″ 347lbs, he doesn’t have to be. Vea is a plug in the middle of the defensive line and smothers any player that gets near him. Considering who the Chargers have on either side of the line, Vea doesn’t need to worry about getting double teamed and should have his way with more than a few offensive linemen at the NFL level.
New Orleans Saints: Dallas Goedert (TE) – South Dakota State
A Jimmy Graham reunion was the dream for Drew Brees and the Saints but unfortunately, the two sides could not come to terms. Brees has made a career off connecting with his tight ends (he and Graham hooked up for 50 over their five-year stint together) and Goedert could be next in line to continue the tradition. Sean Payton still conducts his teams into becoming offensive juggernauts and the Saints could use another playmaker in the middle of the field.
In Goedert, New Orleans will get a tight end that can create mismatches for linebackers and safeties and give the Saints an offence with the ability to strike from anywhere on the field. He may have competed against a lower tier of competition in college but he has the intangibles to be a great NFL tight end. He’s got good size at 6’5″, good hands with the ability to make spectacular catches, and decent route running ability for a player of his size. If the Saints select Goedert with their 27th overall pick and he pans out into a solid option at the pro level, New Orleans could finish 2018 as the NFL’s best offence.
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