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Green Zone League Articles

2018 Draft Grades - First Round (21-32)
By Keith Van Wagner
Special to gzl-football.com

OK, in a flurry of inspiration, I’ve completed my Draft Grades for the first round. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

1.21 – WR Ulysses Moore, Dolphins. If you had told me that Moore would have been the first WR off the board, I wouldn’t have been all that surprised. Moore lacks the speed of Cooper and Beckham, but is built like a truck (6’4”, 232 lbs) and is the best in the class at breaking tackles and has an amazing vertical leap. To get someone this talented in the backend of the first round is almost criminal. GRADE: A

1.22 – HB Melvin Gordon, Cowboys. The Cowboys figured there was a good chance that Gurley would go in the Top 10 and then Tampa Bay would get Hill at 1.19, so they tried to move up ahead of the Bucs to sneak away with one of the top 2 backs. You saw how that went. Gordon is a nice consolation, and proved he could play in the All-Star game. Gordon needs more strength and may have injury problems, but could end up a nice pick-up for Dallas. GRADE: B

1.23 – WR DeVante Parker, Browns. Parker is one inch shorter than Moore, has the same speed, is more agile and has better hands. So why is Moore the better prospect? It’s hard to say, but that’s the way it feels, doesn’t it? Either way, in 3 years Parker will be a 6’3”/94 SPD pass catcher and will look like a bargain at 1.23. GRADE: A-

1.24 – FS Landon Collins, Chiefs. Kansas City gets a nice steal late in the draft when impact players are hard to come by. Collins can player either Free of Strong Safety, but my initial projection is SS. None of the Safeties were faster than Collins and he has elite attributes across the board. Even better, Collins begins his rookie season with the best awareness of any first year safety. GRADE: A

1.25 – DE Shawn Oakman, Bills. Because I don’t use a 3-4 Defense, I’m not entirely sure what to make of Oakman. I have a feeling the Bill do. Oakman is huge – 6’8”, 280 lbs – and has the athleticism of a much smaller player. In the All-Star game recorded 3 sacks. If his career is half as good, he’s a perennial All-Pro candidate. GRADE: A

1.26 – OG Vandal Alexander, Colts. The 2018 class was the year of the Offensive Lineman, with 8 taken in the first round. That’s pretty amazing. On my list, Alexander was the 7th best of the Top 8. That’s not a knock on the pick, however – just goes to show how deep of a line class this was. James and Zebedee were higher on my board, but it’s hard to argue with Alexander’s skills. He’s also the biggest linemen in the draft, which should count for something. He’s got the same speed as Scherff, but has 22 lbs on him. This is good value this late in the draft. GRADE: B+

1.27 – OT Ja’Waun James, Patriots. James is a nice pick-up for a team that many thought would go O-Line at 1.3. James isn’t as good as the Big 3 linemen taken, obviously, but he’s not much of a fall-off from them either. The Patriots were wise to grab the incredibly athletic Williams at 1.3 and then get the 4th best Tackle here. GRADE: A-

1.28 – CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Bears. I’m very much in the minority on this, but I liked Ekpre-Olomu (or IEO) about the same as I did Price and Fuller. IEO fell on my board as Draft Day approached, but never too far. Disregarding his size, IEO is probably the most talented CB all-around. Of course, one can’t disregard his size, and as such the 5’10”, 195 Oregon product lasted until the end of the first. Then again, Blaine Hasty, Pete Nickerson, and Jamar Taylor were all 5’11” or less CBs taken in the Top 10 – and IEO is better. GRADE: A+

1.29 – DT Danny Shelton, Bucs. Shelton was the 2nd best DT on my board and I had him ranked 26th overall, but I can’t really get excited about this pick. Maybe it’s just because I’ve come to expect the Bucs to make all the picks that I wish I made. I’d be happy to have Shelton, but it almost seems like a safe pick here. Shelton is big, strong and is a very smart rookie. So there’s really nothing to knock here. GRADE: B+

1.30 – OG Oliver Zebedee, 49ers. Not sure why, but I love this Zebedee kid out of Texas. Maybe it’s the funny name. On the negative side, Zebedee lacks good size and is of slightly below average strength. But he also is tied for the fastest lineman and has great agility and acceleration. Zebedee is also one of the most pro-ready blockers. Yeah, it’s the name. GRADE: B+

1.31 – WR Kelvin Benjamin, Patriots. Honestly, not a big fan of this pick. Benjamin is the tallest WR in the class, which is certainly coveted, but he has below average speed, poor acceleration and injury concerns. Perhaps the Patriots will play him at Tight End as some have suggested, but he’s a poor blocker as well. In terms of big guys, I like someone like Jordan Page better. But who knows – big WRs are all the rage so maybe I’m missing something. GRADE: C

1.32 – OG Arie Kouandjio, Seahawks. Seattle took two Guards in the first round, which is about as unsexy as you get. But hey – building the line through the draft worked for the NFL Cowboys – maybe it’ll work here too. Other than Zack Martin Kouandjio was one of a closely bunched group of Guards that really are too close to call in terms of talent and value. The Alabama alum has no weaknesses in his game and looks to be a solid starter for years to come GRADE: B+
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