Every year around the middle of March 32 intrepid UK NFL fans get together on twitter to do a full seven round mock draft. There are trades, surprising picks and generally a lot of fun is had. If you haven’t come across it before then you can follow along @NFLUKMock on twitter. As with the 2018 version I am taking on the role of the Houston Texans GM. However, this year I actually have some early round picks to tell you about!
This style of mock does have its disadvantages in terms of some of the picks being highly surprising and unlikely to mirror draft day. However, while many mocks do not consider trades, this one has more than enough to keep you going. Another big advantage is that as the “GM” of one of the teams it gives me the chance to talk you through my decision making process as it unfolded.
So far we are four days in and have just started rolling through the early stages of the third round so let’s break down how my first round shaped up that I have made as the Texans GM. Before we start my three picks in the first two rounds when the draft started were #23, #54 and #55. After that I had a single pick in each of the third, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.
Offensive Line Shortage
The first round did not unfold how I expected. Across the three mock drafts on NFL.com a total of seven offensive linemen are taken in the first 15 picks (essentially 7/45 picks). In this draft alone three OL went in the top 10 and by the time we reached pick 20 six were off the board. All five offensive tackles I feasibly had as first round picks were gone, as was the centre Garrett Bradbury.
That left me scrambling a little bit because my top two targets on offensive line were Chris Lindstrom and Erik McCoy. I had both graded as late first round picks so taking them would not have been terrible. However, a different plan fell into my lap. Dwayne Haskins still being on the board allowed me to leverage a trade for a team to move up and take him, just in case the Oakland Raiders took him at #24.
There were a couple of conversations around trading the #23 pick. The ideal scenario would have been to move back into the late first or early second and take one of McCoy or Lindstrom there. However, the need for quarterback in the first round after the Raiders is not great. That left most of the offers coming from the middle to late second round. Less than ideal but with two picks already in that round it was workable.
The offer from the Bengals changed things somewhat. Pick 23 for a fourth rounder this year and a 2020 first rounder. Again not perfect because the Texans are in a position where they need talent now. However, the Bengals could be really bad this year and that pick could be a top-5 or 10 pick. Therefore, semi-reluctantly I did the deal and the Bengals got Haskins.
Why not Safety?
This was a question Kadeem Simmons asked me on the podcast this week. The answer has multiple parts. The long and short of it comes down to the fact I was not enamoured with any of the options. My safeties with the highest grades were Jonathan Abram out of Mississippi State and Taylor Rapp out of Washington. However, neither was so high on my board I wanted to take them in the first round. Neither of them would have been above Lindstrom or McCoy in my view.
Another part is that I do not see safety as a huge need for this team. Justin Reid ranked 20th among safeties according to PFF, and newly acquired Tashaun Gipson was 37th. Both received a grade over 70 for their coverage and both should be more than adequate starters in 2019. The need just is not there to make a reach worth considering. The final element is the other available talent among current free agents. If I was the Texans GM in real life I would be on the phone to Eric Berry and Glover Quin before looking to draft a safety in the first round.
Oh and there is a chance that Bengals pick might be top-5 next year. Unless your are blown away by the options on the board, that is hard to turn down.
When you clicked on this article you probably did not expect to read analysis of a team not picking a player in the first round of the draft. That is what is great about this mock. Despite not even making a pick there is a lot to talk about.
Heading into round two, where I had two picks (#54 & #55), Lindstorm had been taken but McCoy, Abram and Rapp were all still on the board. The trade also meant I gained a fourth round pick that I did not previously have, leaving me with potentially seven picks still on the board.
Image Credit: Houston Texans Twitter