This is the part of the draft where the teams who just barely missed out on the playoffs are going to be picking. Some of them came down to week 17, while others had pivotal losses early in the season. Regardless, these are teams that are close to contending and need to make the right moves on draft night. We are going to even see some teams who had first round exits pick in this range. Better talent is going to be drafted before this point, so the teams in limbo are going to need to make excellent picks and work diligently on developing their new rookies if they don’t want their opponents to catch up with them.
16. San Francisco 49ers
Bacon’s pick; Kedon Slovis, Quarterback, USC
Another consensus pick, Greeny and I both have Coach Nefarious and the 49ers drafting the (somewhat) local quarterback. San Francisco is a run-first team and Jimmy Garropolo threw 56 interceptions last year. It’s time for a new guy under center. With the best tight end in the league and some very talented wide receivers, this is a dream scenario for a rookie quarterback. If they can keep improving and keep their head coach from leaving to play hockey, Slovis could be the guy in the Bay. In arguably the weakest division in the league, the 49ers are going to need good quarterback play if they want to unseat back to back NFC West Champion Seattle Seahawks. The Cardinals are also on the come up and could make a run at a division title this year. Essentially, the 49ers need to improve their quarterback play to close the gap with Seattle and distance themselves from Arizona.
The true definition of a gunslinger, Kedon Slovis is not afraid of taking chances with the ball. He has no fear when throwing, almost to a fault. He trusts his receivers and gives them plenty of chances to go up and make a play. Pinpoint accuracy is a huge strength of his, and he should be able to make the most out of a receiving corps that excels in getting open and making plays in space. Playing in an air raid offense for the Trojans, Slovis is well prepared for PML. If Coach Nefarious can help him clean up on his mistakes, could we see the 49ers make a run for the playoffs or a division title?
Greens pick: Kedon Slovis, Quarterback, USC
The Niners seem to have soured on Jimmy Garropolo as his name has been popping up in trade rumors. The Niners have a loaded roster and are in win-now mode, so it may be odd to turn to a rookie Quarterback but they have the pieces and running backs around to help Slovis be successful early on. Slovis has a solid, quick release, nice touch on the deep ball, and can make plays on scramble situations when the play breaks down. Can throw from different arm angles and make off-platform throws. Doesn’t have a huge arm but it’s strong enough and he throws with good timing and anticipation. He will be able to fit the offense well on bootlegs and rollouts.
17. New York Giants
Bacon’s pick: Breece Hall, Runningback, Iowa State
Head Coach Que has made it clear that he does not want to pay Saquon Barkley the big money he wants. Whether or not he will follow through on trading the young superstar is unknown, but the situation doesn’t appear to be moving in the right direction. Maybe the Giants could get some draft picks and a player in compensation for one of the best backs in the league. Though they are trending towards becoming a passing team, running the ball is the backbone of this team. They found themselves one game away from making the playoffs, so maybe trading Barkley away to build the rest of their team is the best move for the future.
Though losing Saquon Barkley would hurt, Breece Hall is no slouch. One of the best running backs in the nation as a freshman, he has shown promise in every single game he has played. Helping carry Iowa State to new heights is nothing to scoff at and he has shown that he is more than capable of being a premier back who can handle thirty or more carries in a game. He would also be a perfect complement to the passing attack, as he wouldn’t demand nearly as many carries as Barkley. Hall is an elite back who excels with his vision. He can make the right cuts and has the speed to pull away from the defense, as well as the open field ability to make almost any defender miss. I think the Giants would be able to develop him very well if they decide to move on from their current running back.
Lee is a throwback linebacker, who dominates up front and in the run game. He can turn and run in passing situations but is somewhat limited in that aspect. His main role will be to take up blockers and make tackles. He will be a force in the front 7 in a division with top running backs left and right. He stepped in as a freshman when Dylan Moses went down with an injury and showed that even at a young age, he was ready for the spotlight. Sitting at 248 lbs his nickname is appropriate “hulk”. The Giants are hoping he can live up to that nickname at the next level. This division is loaded with playoff teams and the Giants need to get better in the front 7 to compete for a division crown.
18. Detroit Lions
Bacon’s pick: Marco Wilson, Cornerback, Florida
Jeffrey Okudah is an elite cornerback, but the Lions don’t have many good options beyond him. Amani Oruwariye is a solid player, but not one who should stop them from drafting an even better player. Though they fared pretty well as a unit, they could use a higher level of individual talent. Even though he may be missing a cleat, he is a talented coverage player who will bring attitude to the Detroit secondary. They play in one of the most run-heavy divisions in the league and Wilson is more than capable of coming up and making tackles against the run game. The Lions could use a quarterback here, but the rumor is that Matt Stafford is coming back for another season with a chip on his shoulder after missing the playoffs last season. Defense wins championships, and Coach Cookieboy knows that as well as anyone. He won’t be Caden Sterns, but he is still a good coverage player who can be moved back to safety if they want to do so. I could see them reaching for a more pressing need, but Wilson is the best player at this spot.
Greens pick: Daxton Hill, Free Safety, Michigan
The Lions bypass the best player available and target a big need here by grabbing a free safety. This is a bit higher than most have for Hills projected landing spots, but Detroit will be aggressive in getting their guy. Daxton will test extremely well at the combine as he is an A+ athlete across the board. One of the few truly versatile safety prospects who will be able to cover deep, play in the box, play nickel, and be aggressive in the run game. He is still raw, but his first step quickness can make up for any flaws in technique. He will need to improve his ball skills at the next level, but he will be a menace wherever he lines up. The Lions narrowly missed out on the playoffs this year, after a super bowl run last year, and will desperately be trying to make it back. Quarterback of the future is also a pressing need, but with the team being so close to another potential playoff push they address a need and add a high caliber player that might put them over the top.
One of the coolest names in the draft, the former Sooner would be a great addition to this Seattle offense that just lost Tyler Lockett and needs some kind of receiving threat behind DK Metcalf. The heart of this team was their defense, which was pretty strong all year. However, they struggled to consistently put up the points they needed to contend in the NFC, averaging 27 points per game. With no receivers finishing over 1000 yards last season, I have a hard time seeing many opponents giving their passing offense much respect. Especially with the departure of Lockett, teams will be able to focus on Metcalf. Rambo would be a great addition to this offense and would ease some of the tension on DK and Russ.
The former Sooner standout receiver is known for his elite route running. At this point, it seems like every receiver that comes out of Oklahoma has a serious knack for getting themselves open. Russell Wilson can put the ball anywhere he needs to, which means that Rambo won’t have to make too many difficult catches. He is very talented when it comes to going up and getting the ball, but he excels most when in space. This would be a good pick for a Seattle offense that has a lot of production to replace and would help them threepeat as NFC West champions.
Greens pick: Zacch Pickens, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina
The Seahawks address the defensive line which has been an issue for some time with the addition of Pickens. They have some holes on the offensive line, and need depth at the running back position but look to fortify the defense here in round one. He possesses ideal height and weight for the position, and is amazing at stopping the run which is something the Seahawks can definitely use. Raw as a pass rusher, generally gets pressure using his first-step quickness and strength rather than technique. If he develops his pass rush moves at the next level he can be an absolute nightmare. He is a high floor/ high ceiling type or prospect. Worst case scenario for Seattle is a dominant run-stuffer in the middle of the line for years to come, I think they would be happy even with that outcome.
20. New Orleans Saints
Bacon’s pick: Simi Fehoko, Wide Receiver, Stanford
The Saints have a serious speed deficiency. Drew Brees could make it work because of his Hall of Fame level accuracy, but Trey Lance isn’t nearly the same caliber of a passer. Still great in his own right, but his strengths lie elsewhere. The previous coach used him well in the red zone, notching 10 rushing touchdowns. Without any speed to keep defenses honest, opposing defensive coordinators can play with their whole defense close to the line of scrimmage and focus on stopping the run and standing in the windows where Michael Thomas would catch a slant. Adding a new dynamic deep threat to this offense is going to be critical as they bring in a new coach. We don’t know what his offensive identity will be quite yet, but most coaches value speed very, very highly.
As a Stanford grad, Fehoko is probably the smartest player in the draft which is a cool intangible that he brings to the table. Standing at 6’4”, he isn’t a one-dimensional deep threat. He is fully capable of jumping over whoever is lined up across from him and embarrassing them completely. He struggles to create separation, but this offense is set up well to ease him into a more complete role. He can come in as a deep threat on day one and slowly develop into a true number two receiver behind Michael Thomas.
The Saints are under new management so this pick can go a wide variety of ways but we have them addressing a glaring need at linebacker with Lloyd. Lloyd is an incredible cover linebacker who committed to Utah originally as a safety. Though he has above-average speed and coverage ability for Safety, he lacks the ball skills to remain there. Utah seemed to maximize his ability by switching him to what seems a more natural position. His first full year at linebacker saw him amass 12 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in just 14 games. He will need to refine his game as a pass rusher but as he learns he can be an asset covering tight ends and running backs. He’s 6”3 235 lbs and will run a sub 4.55 40 and if he rests well enough teams in the top 15 might target him.