The Schein Nine  

 

2018 NFL Draft: Bills, Cards, Jets get their men; Browns perplex

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What a draft weekend in the NFL. We had the good, the bad, and the Cleveland Browns.

Of course, it takes years to truly assess the impact of a team's draft haul. But that's never stopped me before! And that's boring. So ...

Here's what I loved, liked and loathed about the 2018 NFL Draft, Schein Nine style:

LOVE

1) Bills and Cardinals trading up for their quarterbacks.

This had to happen in Buffalo -- and it did, brilliantly, without general manager Brandon Beane giving up both of his first-round picks. I've called Josh Allen the next Carson Wentz. And that comes from a healthy diet of NFL executives feeding me the goods on Allen, a prospect the great Phil Simms called the best QB in this draft class during our CBS Sports Network draft preview show. Allen's arm is majestic. His work ethic is off the charts. Both are needed in lovely Western New York. Patience is needed, but the Bills now have their most talented quarterback since Jim Kelly. And could he play earlier than many expect? Well, remember that Wentz wasn't originally supposed to start, but he played well in the summer, spurring the Eagles to flip Sam Bradford for a first-round pick. And I'm guessing Allen is going to look fantastic, especially next to AJ McCarron.

The Cardinals' deal to get Josh Rosen was a thing of beauty. GM Steve Keim only had to move up five picks from No. 15 to get the best thrower in the draft. I love Rosen. I love his motion, his arm, his intelligence and especially the chip on his shoulder that comes from being the fourth quarterback taken. Keim loved it all more. And it went noted -- in a Friday appearance on my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein on Sports" -- when Keim praised Rosen as a "football junkie" in an unprovoked comment. Because it is true. Nothing made me angrier during the pre-draft process than the unfair beating Rosen took. With his mix of arm talent and football IQ, Rosen will beat out Sam Bradford for the starting job. And that's not all: Flanked by Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson, the UCLA product will win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Rosen helps the Cardinals at their biggest area of need and gives them amazing buzz, too. It's a dreamy marriage, and I cannot wait to watch Rosen prove doubters wrong.

2) Packers scooping up two great corners and an extra first-rounder.

And this is why the Packers had to change general managers, as I've been arguing for quite some time. Take a bow, Brian Gutekunst. Moving from No. 14 back to 27 was well worth it, given that the Saints stunningly offered up next year's first-round pick. And Gutekunst jumped back up to 18 to snag corner Jaire Alexander, a playmaking corner who's a perfect fit in Mike Pettine's blitz-heavy defense. In Round 2, Green Bay wisely doubled down on this position of great need by selecting Josh Jackson, another talented CB with great ball skills.

With a healthy Aaron Rodgers, the Packers always have the pass attack to contend for a Super Bowl -- now they have some pass defense.

3) Colts nabbing the best player in this draft.

Drafting an offensive guard isn't sexy. I don't care. Before this draft, I said the team that plucks Quenton Nelson wins. So, congrats, Indy!

Last month, I asked an NFC general manager, via text, if he believed the hype on the Notre Dame guard. His answer spoke volumes: "HOF." Not a hot take. That's the conventional wisdom with this cat. Nobody will be surprised when Nelson is first-team All-Pro as a rookie.

After former general manager Ryan Grigson neglected the O-line for years, Chris Ballard nailed this pick. And the rest of the draft, too.

4) Jets getting their Sam.

"Suck for Sam" was never really a thing, but the Jets were wisely keeping an eye on the 2018 draft class. Then they seemingly won too many games, and the fan base thought, Same old Jets. They can't even LOSE right! But Mike Maccagnan brilliantly traded up from 6 to 3, and I immediately raved about the move. The Jets were going for a franchise quarterback, come hell or high water. Of course, at that point, they didn't know they would land what very well might have been the top-rated QB on their board. When Cleveland passed on Sam Darnold and the Giants didn't think they needed a QB (cute, right?), the Jets pounced. Finally, this franchise has a franchise QB. Darnold is going to be great. I loved the way he handled a brutal offensive line at USC.

The Jets should hold "John Dorsey Day" at MetLife Stadium next year. And the Giants are going to watch Darnold dominate in New York for the next decade. Wonder who will play QB for Big Blue in two years?

5) Derwin James falling into the Chargers' lap.

We are getting closer and closer to an all-L.A. Super Bowl! Seriously!!

Everyone knows about all the spicy acquisitions the Rams have made this offseason. But how about these Chargers?! L.A. football fans -- and, let's be honest, San Diego football fans -- have to be pinching themselves after seeing Swiss Army Knife safety Derwin James slide all the way to No. 17. What a steal! Add him to a secondary that already features Casey Hayward, Jason Verrett and Desmond King -- and a defense that already features edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram -- and the Bolts are cookin' on defense. And with some better health luck, the offense is loaded around Philip Rivers.

The Chargers might enter the summer as the team to beat in the AFC. Seriously. Think about it.

LIKE

6) Bears landing their next great linebacker.

The Bears are on a hot streak this offseason and it's awesome.

I already forecast Chicago as the NFL's Cinderella team in 2018, thanks to the fine new coaching staff and a bevy of free-agent moves to help Mitchell Trubisky. Heading into the draft, I thought there were two dream picks at No. 8: Quenton Nelson and Roquan Smith. With Nelson off the board, the pick was obvious -- and Ryan Pace made it. Smith instantly steps into the starting lineup and becomes a tackling machine in Vic Fangio's defense. The new Monster of the Midway.

7) Calvin Ridley joining the Falcons' offense.

I never thought Ridley would go in the top 15, as some projected. I view him as a great No. 2 receiver more than a WR1. With that said, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff wisely snatched him up in the bottom third of the first round. And he's perfect for Atlanta's offense opposite Julio Jones.

The Falcons are still thinking Super Bowl. Don't forget: They nearly beat the eventual champs on the road in last season's playoffs. But for a team that makes its living on offense, the offense wasn't truly great in 2017. Ridley's a fine addition who'll make Jones, Matt Ryan, Mohamed Sanu and the rest of the Falcons better in 2018.

LOATHE

8) Browns drafting inferior players.

With the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Browns plucked the fourth-best quarterback. With the fourth overall pick, Cleveland eschewed the guy who was almost universally considered the top defensive player in the draft. You almost want to credit Cleveland for embarking on the unprecedented strategy of simply refusing to draft the best player available. Bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em.

Please understand: I don't hate Mayfield as an NFL player. I think he's going to be an effective NFL quarterback, especially with the RPO game so en vogue. But I, like draft guru Mike Mayock, had him ranked behind three other quarterbacks. Not one of the executives I spoke with before the draft had Mayfield as the top dog. I heard the names of Josh Allen, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen. Not Baker. And while I think the Johnny Manziel comparison is wildly inaccurate and lazy, Mayfield did have a damning police video, and he's known for grabbing his groin and planting the flag.

What happened with the No. 4 pick was arguably wackier. Bradley Chubb was the no-brainer selection. In fact, according to fine Broncos beat writer Mike Klis, the Broncos were preparing to send their No. 5 pick to the Bills, with the widely held assumption that Cleveland would take Chubb. Then the Browns shocked everyone by selecting cornerback Denzel Ward. Like Mayfield, I like Ward. But over Chubb? No way. Think about Chubb joining pass-rushing forces with Myles Garrett. When Chubb made it past the Browns, John Elway called off the trade and happily teamed up Chubb with Von Miller.

I thought things would be different with my guy John Dorsey making the picks. Was the homeless man back in Jimmy Haslam's ear? Paul DePodesta's computer back in the war room?

You poor, poor people of Cleveland.

9) Saints giving up a first-rounder to move up 13 slots.

It's the Sean Payton YOLO draft! The Saints treated the first round like Payton had the ball at midfield on fourth-and-2.

OK, back it up for a second. I'm actually a big fan of Marcus Davenport. I pegged him as one of the best non-quarterback prospects before the draft. It will not surprise me if he sacks the quarterback 10 times this year. Or if the Saints win the Super Bowl, something they weren't far from doing last year. (I'll always believe they would've had a great shot against the Eagles and Patriots.)

But let's be honest: You never see moves like this made for a non-quarterback -- especially when the non-quarterback is a prospect, albeit a freak, who hails from a school you've never heard of.

How many sacks does Davenport need to make the loss of next year's first-rounder worth it? What kind of career must he forge? How far do the Saints need to go in 2018? (And by the way: You never know about injuries and how a season is going to play out, especially in a tough division with a quarterback pushing 40.)

Love the player. Love the team. But the cost was batty.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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