Each day we get closer to the 2018 NFL Draft and I can’t put into words on how excited I’m getting. Before we know it, the first round will be here and the anxiety will build. Imagine how quarterbacks feel when they break out of the huddle and they have to look around at their offensive line. This isn’t a fat joke; I’m giving you the facts that not all offensive lines are good. Some quarterbacks might have pretty high anxiety, if that’s the case.
Take a look at Russell Wilson; he’s constantly creating something out of nothing. Most of the time, it’s because his offensive line is on the ground and he’s running in circles trying to find someone open down field. With the draft getting so close, let’s take a look at three teams that NEED to draft an offensive lineman with their first round pick.
#Colts also have the 37th and 49th overall pick in round two of this year's draft. They have 4 picks in the top 65. Similar draft equity to the Bills and Browns. No reason why Andrew Luck won't have any protection for the future. I'll go ahead & lock Quenton Nelson at 6th overall pic.twitter.com/iZCPreyrVZ— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) March 17, 2018
The Colts swapped picks with the New York Jets and are now picking 6th overall. By moving down three spots, the Colts are putting themselves in position to draft one of the three best players in this class: Bradley Chubb, Saquon Barkley, Quenton Nelson. One of those players should be there. If Quenton Nelson is on the board, they have to draft him, and that’s without any hesitation.
With 100 sacks allowed and 241 QB hits allowed over the last two seasons, it’s clear what their biggest need is. Nelson is an aggressive player who looks and feeds off of contact. He’s a dominant run blocker who can operate in space and who excels at the second level. If he’s running down the line, you’d better move out of his path or it will hurt. He’s fantastic player with some of the most elite potential we’ve seen in recent years.
Nelson is the safest pick in the draft and is going to be an elite left guard for the next 10-12 years. Some would consider him the best player in the draft, and if the Colts were able to get him with the 6th overall pick, Andrew Luck’s shoulder would start feeling a lot better.
Another option for the Colts would be to trade down again (potentially with Buffalo) and with the 12th overall pick, they could consider an offensive tackle. Two players that would also be great fits for them would be Connor Williams or Mike McGlinchey, especially if they were able to move back and grab one of them.
After trading away Jared Valdheer to the Denver Broncos for a sixth-round pick, it’s obvious what the Cardinals’ biggest need is. They allowed 52 sacks last year and, by looking for some offensive line help, they can make their biggest immediate impact.
By giving Sam Bradford a two year deal worth a total of $40 million dollars, it’s clear that the Cardinals like to gamble. That’s a big gamble that could pay off if he can stay healthy. One way to prevent Bradford from collecting his insurance policy is by drafting some offensive linemen early and often. Once again, Connor Williams and Mike McGlinchey make a lot of sense for the Cardinals.
Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson are going to be hard to replace for Notre Dame. McGlinchey at LT - smooth in his slide step but even better with his punch. Nelson at LG - has his hands inside and you're not going anywhere. pic.twitter.com/FKUTSzat9H— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) February 3, 2018
Signing Justin Pugh (RG) was a smart move. Honestly though, Andre Smith (RT) is 31 years old and Mike Iupati (LG) is 30. They need to consider getting younger, adding depth and a player that can come in a play from day one. With the offensive tackles available in the first round, they can get all that and more. Clearly, they have to pick the right one. I’d think Connor Williams would be the top pick for them, if he’s available. He should translate just fine as a left tackle, and if he doesn’t, he looks to have the versatility to move inside.
The Cardinals have D.J. Humphries, but he’s coming back from a torn MCL and dislocated knee cap. They could prefer to get someone with a much cleaner bill of health. That obviously will throw some question marks around Connor Williams’s name. Drafting Mike McGlinchey would be a great alternative.
He’s got experience at both tackle positions and can operate well in space for a player of his size. His hand placement can be inconsistent, but he takes the right angle to his kick-step and is consistent with his lateral movement. Going after an offensive tackle is an absolute must for the Cardinals with the 15th-overall pick.
The Seahawks don’t have any picks in the second or third round of this draft. That’s what makes the 18th overall pick so important for them. They traded for left tackle Duane Brown last season, but he’ll be 33-years-old when the season starts. Giving Russell Wilson some confidence and finding ways to improve this run game should be this team’s top priority.
The Cardinals will look to re-identify themselves on defense, but their offensive line is horrendous. The Seahawks only had four rushing touchdowns last season (ranked 32nd) and have given up 85 sacks (43 sacks during 2017) over the last two seasons. Imagine what it would look like if they didn’t have Russell Wilson. Oh yeah, they’d look a lot like the two teams listed above.
With that being said, the Seahawks need to consider going after an offensive lineman. The versatility of Isaiah Wynn and his elite lateral movement will make him an intriguing option with the 18th overall pick. Connor Williams could be available if enough teams view him as a guard, and if he’s there, he’d be a steal for the Seahawks.
But the NFL Draft isn’t about making sense. It’s about what teams want to do and who they value the most. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks were one of the few teams to make a surprising move in the first round and take Kolton Miller , OT from UCLA. He’s still raw, but he has some tools that can make him a good offensive tackle. With experience at both tackle positions, his value moves up some, but he’s the most athletically gifted offensive tackle in this class. Allowing him to spot start and play behind Duane Brown doesn’t sound like a bad idea for the Seahawks. Teams don’t look for the future with their first round pick, but with the way this offensive line performed last year, they need to consider it.