Cowboy up for Boise State's Vander Esch
May 15, 2018 3:00 AM
by Jim Feist
This week I take a look at part 2 of the NFL draft and my second set of teams.
Dallas: The big offseason news was the release of WR Dez Bryant and trade of Ryan Switzer. Jason Witten has also retired to join Monday Night Football broadcast. The Cowboys picked 19th in the first round and took LB Leighton Vander Esch from Boise State. The Cowboys wanted Vander Esch from the start to fill the loss of Anthony Hitchens to free agency.
Detroit: The Lions only drafted six players, but their top was 20th in the first round and it was center Frank Ragnow of Arkansas. The Lions set out to solve some of their interior line issues and this was a big start toward that goal. Ragnow could fit in right away at the guard position. The fact that the Lions have not had a 100-yard rusher in four years weighs heavy on new OL coach Jeff Davidson. He will have to find the right spots for his new draft picks and make this line work. If the Lions can find a running game to help Stafford with the passing, this offense should be much better.
Green Bay: The Packers had to play too much of the time without QB Aaron Rodgers. He’s back and ready to go. It remains to be seen if he will have the same arm strength this year. The Packers drafted CB Jaire Alexander with the 18th pick in the draft. The top CB on many draft boards, Alexander will fill a huge need at corner. If Rodgers can stay healthy and his arm is still as strong, this team will go far this year.
Houston: The biggest anticipation from this 4-12 club is the return of Deshaun Watson at QB and DE JJ Watt. Injuries plagued this team last year and a poor offensive line contributed to their overall decline. Look for the OL to have new starters to protect Watson. The Texans didn’t draft until the 3rd round (68th overall). They picked Justin Reid, a safety from Stanford. This pick was to improve a poor secondary last season. The Texans also got OL Martinas Rankin from Mississippi State to help with their offensive line woes. I only see this team improving.
Indianapolis: The Colts had that disappointing 2017 campaign and didn’t have QB Andrew Luck the entire season. So they received the sixth pick in the draft and went for G Quenton Nelson of Notre Dame. Nelson has great size and power and should step right into the line with little adjustment. The Colts also signed T Austin Howard from Baltimore, who started all 16 games. This could be one of the best offensive lines the Colts have ever had and with Luck returning, that’s good news.
Jacksonville: The Jags drafted 29th in the first round and took DT Taven Bryan from Florida. Bryan had a great combine and while he was only a one year starter at Florida, looks to be a very explosive player. The Jags looking to build on their excellent season from last year.
LA Chargers: They added a powerhouse defense to their arsenal. With their first pick they drafted Derwin James, a safety out of Florida State. Along with a running game, they have a seasoned QB in Philip Rivers. The AFC West is theirs for the taking in my opinion.
Seattle: The Seahawks are not a popular team in the betting markets at this time. The attrition started when they had to pay Russell Wilson the big bucks and it has continued. I have not liked the moves Pete Carroll has made in recent years.
Minnesota Vikings: No reason for me not to like this club, almost going all the way last year and did nothing but make themselves better in the off season. They drafted late in the first round and picked CB Mike Hughes of Central Florida. Minnesota already has good corners in Trae Williams and Xavier Rhodes. However, they need a good nickel back and Hughes will fill this spot nicely.
NY Giants: Did a great job getting Saquon Barkley with the number two pick in the draft. This was a very smart move. They also got a steal with Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta in the fourth round. This guy could be the sleeper of the draft. Eli can still play but needs help on the OL. This team should be much better though with the addition of Barkley in the backfield.
I’ll be back next week with my next batch of teams for review.