Every team wants to nail its draft, but few pick perfectly. Fortunately for all general managers, I perused every team’s needs and came up with an A+ draft for each. For some teams, that means getting one fabulous player who fills a crucial hole. For others, that means getting multiple excellent picks.
Baltimore Ravens: Trade down, build from middle out
The Ravens have the reigning MVP (Lamar Jackson), a unique offensive scheme and studs at both corners (Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey). What Baltimore doesn’t have is an anchor in the middle of its defense or a replacement for center Marshal Yanda, who retired. The Ravens have a first-round pick (No. 28) and two second-rounders, and while they’ve had considerable success with their past five first-rounders, Baltimore should trade out of the first round and into the early second, grab Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray — yes, his projections are all over the place — and then nab Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz, who can play center and guard, to replace Yanda.
Buffalo Bills: Beef up on the inside
Buffalo needs help on the interior of its offensive line, particularly right guard, as Jon Feliciano was below average last season. This is not a great draft for guards, but LSU’s Damien Lewis (6-foot-2 and 325 pounds) should be available when the Bills make their first pick, at 54 overall. The other name in this draft that would look great with the Bills? Lewis’ LSU teammate, Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The running back’s dynamic pass-catching ability would give the occasionally scattershot Josh Allen a reliable target out of the backfield.
Cincinnati Bengals: Do the obvious, draft Joe Burrow
The Bengals are painfully bad at most things, which is how they secured the No. 1 overall pick. Resisting the temptation to trade down, they must pick Burrow, whose 60-touchdown, six-interception season earned him the Heisman Trophy and LSU the 2019 national championship. Burrow completed 76.3 percent of his passes, threw for 5,671 yards, and had the best Pro Football Focus passing grade (94.1) of any FBS quarterback since the site started grading collegiate players. Don’t overthink this, Mike Brown.
Cleveland Browns: Thomas 2.0 at left tackle
Starting with the first start of his rookie year, Joe Thomas played 10,363 snaps at left tackle for Cleveland until a triceps injury ended his career in 2017. The Browns, who have the 10th overall pick, have been searching for his replacement since. Georgia’s mountainous Andrew Thomas could be the answer. He is Pro Football Focus’ top-ranked offensive tackle, profiles as a prototype left tackle in the NFL, and improved steadily during his three-year career with the Bulldogs. Thomas has the size (6-foot-5 and 320 pounds), strength and overall athletic ability to anchor the position for the next decade.