By: David Connors @connors_david
The Blitzalytics team has been killing it with these mock drafts lately (go check them out, Alexander Amir just did one with trade rumors and it is phenomenal). After reading every single one, I have gotten an itch to do a mock draft of my own; however, I do not want it to be the same old story you’ve heard repeatedly. Someone trades up for Murray, 49ers take Bosa, Jets take Josh Allen, etc. Since I am one of the AAF guys at Blitzalytics, I decided to do my mock draft with a special twist.
Special [FAKE] Announcement!!!!
The NFL has decided to do a supplementary draft. Teams will draft players from AAF rosters on April 31st. It will be a one round draft using the same draft order, rookie draft applied.
DISCLAIMER: Since this is not the rookie draft, trades made for rookie picks do not apply. Saints, Cowboys, and Bears get to pick in their original slot.
1. Arizona Cardinals, Mekale McKay, WR (San Antonio Commanders)
Arizona needs offensive line help above all else, but unfortunately there is not an O-Lineman that is worth taking with the first pick. The Cardinals instead add an outside weapon for Josh Rosen. McKay has proven to be one of, if not the best, outside receiver in the AAF, showing both the ability to create separation and come down with contested catches. It was a toss-up between McKay and Charles Johnson, but McKay got the nudge since he is 5 years younger than Johnson.
2. San Francisco 49ers, Karter Schult, DE (Salt Lake City Stallions)
This one is simple: the 49ers’ biggest weakness is pass rush. This selection adds another piece to their defensive front. Karter Schult has been the best pass rusher in the AAF and will be an instant contributor on the 49er D-Line on the opposite side of either Nick Bosa or Josh Allen. According to drafts scouts, he did not show “pass rushing” moves at Northern Iowa; rather, he simply dominated the lesser completion in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The AAF has given Schult a chance to play against better competition while being coached by former NFL coaches. His growth shows up on the tape.
3. New York Jets, Damontre Moore, DE (San Diego Fleet)
Damontre Moore has the highest pass rushing grade from Pro Football Focus. He has been a stud off the edge. Although Damontre Moore has played primarily as a 4-3 DE for the Fleet, I think his size and skill set will transition even better as a 3-4 Edge Rusher for the Jets. Moore was highly touted out of college. The New York Giants originally drafted him in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft, but off the field issue and a failed drug test kept him from emerging as the player he can be. That is what the AAF is all about though- giving a player with Moore’s talent a second chance to redeem himself and make that NFL money.
4. Oakland Raiders, Charles Johnson, WR (Orlando Apollos)
Charles Johnson is already 30 years old, but he is showing he still has plenty left in the tank. He is quite frankly dominating the competition at this level, and the Raiders need another weapon. Right now, their best WR on the roster are Jordy Nelson and Marcel Ateman. They can grab this polished weapon right now and focus their early picks in the rookie draft on improving that defense.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ja’Quan Gardner, RB (San Diego Fleet)
With Bruce Arians coming into coach the Bucs, I think this team will need to add a 3-down back. This is not the best RB rookie class, and I think Arians can find a “small school” gem from the Fleet. Ja’Quan Gardner is built low to the ground, giving a great center of gravity, and knows how to use all 204 pounds. He also has very quick feet and has shown up as a plus pass catcher.
6. New York Giants, Philip Nelson, QB (San Diego Fleet)
The Giants seem set in rolling with Eli for another year, and with this QB class,I do not blame them. That said, Philip Nelson from San Diego could give them a chance to bring in a very raw QB with a good arm. He has shown a ton of growth from taking over in the fourth quarter of the first game to now. The young QB is showing quick understanding of a complicated Mike Martz offense. I am giving the Giants Nelson over Gilbert because he is years younger, but also because he takes a quarter to “warm up” every game so far. Nelson this past game came right out of the gates making very accurate passes. Unfortunately, he took an injury this past week which will hinder his growth, and I think Nelson could excel under Pat Shurmur.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars, Garrett Gilbert, QB (Orlando Apollos)
The Jacksonville Jaguars select QB Garrett Gilbert, and quite frankly, they are stoked he fell to them. With the rumors that the Jaguars are parting ways with Blake Bortles, the Jaguars are going to need to restock the QB depth chart, and it looks as if they are going to bring in Nick Foles. I think Gilbert will be a perfect backup to Foles, as well as give him serious competition in the preseason for that starting role. Gilbert has also shown to be a great locker room guy and leader, and I think he will be a great mentor to whatever rookie they draft as well.
8. Detroit Lions, Terence Garvin, MLB (Orlando Apollos)
The Detroit Lions need help all over their defense, and Terence Garvin has been a stud for the Orlando Apollos. He leads the AAF at interceptions to go with four pass deflections and a tackle for a loss. If that’s not enough, he even missed a game. Garvin has been a leader in the middle of the Orlando defense and a monster in pass coverage. He shows a high football IQ and an ability to be in the right place on the field.
9. Buffalo Bill, Reece Horn, WR (Memphis Express)
Reece Horn’s stats do not jump out at anybody so far this season, but I think he could be a real asset to the Bill WR corp. Robert Foster was amazing at the end of the 2018 season as an incredible down field target, and they like Zay Jones as a quick-footed receiver who can find space. Reece Horn can provide a safe, tall target in between the 20’s as well as a large target in the end zone. Reece Horn is 6’3” and has shown incredibly soft hands. He proved he can catch the ball away from his body with Hackenberg as his QB, can make contested catches in traffic, and could provide Josh Allen with a great target to move the chains on 3rd down.
10. Denver Broncos, Gavin Escobar, TE (San Diego Fleet)
The Broncos need a TE, and luckily for them this is a good rookie class for the position. However, if they wanted to take a different route, Gavin Escobar has been the best TE in the AAF. He is still not an ideal blocker, but at 6’6” he can make a big target for Joe Flacco to go to. He has pretty good hands, bringing 14 out of 16 targets so far, and has shown enough savvy to find the open spot in coverages.
11. Cincinnati Bengals, Rashad Ross, WR (Arizona Hotshots)
The Bengals are rumored to be shopping their ninth pick from the 2017 draft, John Ross. That plus AJ Green is coming off an injury plagued season. The Bengals could use another outside weapon. Since coming to the Arizona Hotshots, Ross has been torching opposing defenses downfield. He had 5 catches for over 100 yards and 2 TDs in his season opener against Salt Lake City.
12. Green Bay Packers, Shaan Washington, DE (San Antonio Commanders)
The Packers need to add impact pass rushers and Shaan Washington could at least add rotational depth to the roster. He made his name known Week One with a shattering hit to Mike Bercovici and has added 3 more sacks to his resume since then. He is a monster coming off the edge with his athleticism and he is improving his technique with each snap in the AAF.
13. Miami Dolphins, Jamar Summers, CB (Birmingham Iron)
Jamar Summers has been a standout performer in the AAF so far. His biggest weakness coming out of college was he would look off balanced when backpedaling and give up space to his WR. He has undoubtedly put in the work with HC Tim Lewis to correct this because it does not look like an issue anymore. He may not be a number 1 locked corner in the NFL, but I believe he will be able to be a contributor. The Dolphins are rumored to be shopping their All-Pro CB Xavier Howard, and will need to restock the position. Even if they do not move Howard, Summers can be an ideal CB in a Brian Flores defense.
14. Atlanta Falcons, Zack Sanchez CB (San Antonio Commanders)
The Atlanta Falcons are doomed to a division with so many great slot WR, and a good slot corner could be a huge upgrade to the Falcons defense. Zach Sanchez has all the tools to be good. He a great athlete, great flexibility, and he has been shutting down the slot at the AAF level. He is worth a flyer here at pick 14 to be that corner for the Falcons.
15. Washington Redskins, Ed Reynolds Jr., S (Atlanta Legends)
DJ Swearinger getting cut by the Redskins leaves a big hole in the secondary. Washington is a team with a lot of needs, including their QB position. Ed Reynolds has been a shining star on the Legends defense, racking up 22 tackles, including a sack and 3 tackles for a loss. This will give them a cheap option to fill their safety position, so they can use those draft picks to fill their other needs or package them to move up for a QB in the draft.
16. Carolina Panthers, Andrew Jackson, MLB (Memphis Express)
The Panthers are a team that puts a high stock in their linebacker position, and Jackson could be a high-level rotational piece to spell their starters. He has versatility converting from OLB at WKU to ILB at Memphis. He lacks ideal length but makes up for it in strength. His biggest negatives coming to school was play recognition and coverage, which have been an area he has addressed during his time with the Express. He had 4 pass deflections and an interception in his last game against the San Diego Fleet. Mike Singletary runs a similar defense to the Panthers, so he should transition nicely.
17. Cleveland Browns, Seantavius Jones, WR (Atlanta Legends)
Baker Mayfield, in his first year in the NFL, demonstrated an incredible job spreading the ball around, throwing touchdowns to 8 different players. Seantavius could provide a cheap upgrade to Mayfield’s arsenal. At 6’4”, he is a huge target. His biggest critique so far this season has been only 10 catches on 25 targets, but I think that number will regress to the mean as he gets more snaps and more experience. It will also help to have Aaron Murray under center in Atlanta going forward.
18. Minnesota Vikings, Jhurell Pressley, RB (Atlanta Hotshots)
With the rumors that Vikings RB Murray is looking for a starting role and Dalvin Cook’s injury history, adding some RB depth will be a priority for the Vikings. I mentioned before that this is a weaker than usual RB rookie class, so this could be an option to allow Mike Zimmer to feed his appetite for early round CBs. Pressley has gone under the radar in the AAF, but he has been a quality 3-down back for the Hotshots. He ranks 3rd in rushing yards and averages almost 5 yards an attempt.
19. Tennessee Titans, Jordan McCray, C (Orlando Apollos)
There are few offensive linemen that have been impactful enough to be drafted in the AAF draft, and Jordan McCray has been one of those exceptions. At 6’3” and 311 lbs., McCray is a big man who showed both quickness and explosion at his at his pro day, as evidenced by both a 7.5 second 3-cone and over 8’ broad jump. His technique has improved week in and week out, getting a 71.7 grade from Pro Football Focus this past week. Even if he is not a starter on the Titans offensive line, he will provide much needed depth to weather any injury storm during the season. And with the 20th pick in the 2019 AAF draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers draft Christian Ha...whoa what is this? We have a surprise guest to make the Steelers selection. Please, Blitzalytics’ AAF expert Roy Countryman take it away….
20. Pittsburgh Steelers, Derron Smith, S (San Antonio Commanders)
Smith is a former 6th round pick from the Bengals in 2015, then spent some time with the Browns before finding his to the AAF. He has been outstanding as a deep third coverage safety and has really shown his range and ball skills this year. He also takes good pursuit angles and has good closing quickness to get to the ball in short order, which is something the Steelers are severely lacking on the backend of their secondary.
-Roy Countryman @PreacherBoyRoy
21. Seattle Seahawks, Channing Stribling, CB (Memphis Express)
Channing Stribling is a big physical corner at 6’2”. His size and physicality will make an ideal fit for Pete Carroll’s defense. He can smother receivers with his large frame and show great route recognition. Also, his time with Mike Singletary has been beneficial. He does not miss tackles and can even disrupt plays in the backfield. If he does not work out as an outside corner, I could see him excelling as a big nickel slot corner. He has great play recognition and could cover bigger slot receivers and tight ends.
22. Baltimore Ravens, Beniquez Brown, ILB (Birmingham Iron)
Ozzie Newsome may no longer be the GM of the Ravens, but his heart still beats through Baltimore, therefore I know he is smiling when they draft a linebacker from Alabama. This young man from Florence, Alabama is on the short side at 6’1” but makes it up in quickness, boasting a 7 second 3-cone. His play recognition is visibly improving under Head Coach Tim Lewis. You combine that quickness with Tim Lewis’s “never quit” coaching, you get a good linebacker that will flourish in the Baltimore defense.
23. Houston Texans, Mike Purcell, DT (Salt Lake City Stallions)
Mike Purcell is a big nose tackle who could be a great rotational piece for the Texans defensive line. He eats up a lot of space, and his first step is surprisingly quick for such a big guy. He could be ideal to the Texans defense to keep fresh legs on the field, as conference foes like the Jaguars and Titans try to grind out long games with Leonard Fournette or Derrick Henry.
24. Chicago Bears, Austin MacGinnis, K (Memphis Express)
It is not very often that one gets a chance to right a wrong and correct their mistake. That’s what the Bears get to do right here. The Bears had MacGinnis on their roster in preseason, but decided to go with Cody “double doink’ Parkey. MacGinnis has only played in one AAF game thus far, however he was sensational in that game, going 4-4 with two kicks beyond 45 yards, one that was a game winning field goal in the fourth quarter. He left the University of Kentucky a legend with the highest field goal percentage in school history at 79.7%, also going 3-5 beyond the 50-yard line his senior year. He may not be the most powerful kicker in the game, but if Chicago can get to their opponent’s 35-yard line, he is pretty much a sure thing.
25. Philadelphia Eagles, Keith Reaser, CB (Orlando Apollos)
Keith Reaser is small school gem from FAU that was plagued out of the league by injuries. He has showed raw talent back at FAU, and now he has quietly become one of the best corners in the AAF. Because he has not made a ton of noise, he will become the steal of the AAF draft at 25. Reaser will probably never be the outspoken, chirpy corners that you see left out on an island, but he will never be the guy being pointed out because he is getting picked on all game. He may never be a number one shutdown corner, but he will be a consistent guy who does his job play in and play out. The Eagles have the kind of defense that puts all its resources in the front seven and asks very little of its corner. Reaser will thrive in Philadelphia
26. Indianapolis Colts, Kameron Kelly, CB (San Diego Fleet)
Chris Ballard has done an amazing job rebuilding the Colts and taking them to the playoffs last season. Kameron Kelly provides a ton of versatility to the Colts defense. Kelly played safety at San Diego State where he progressed well until becoming a victim of Compartment Syndrome, which halted his progression. He converted to cornerback his senior year, where he showed an instant nose for the football getting three interceptions and two forced fumbles while also earning 1st team All-Mountain West honors. He is a raw athlete who just needed more snaps at corner. He is now getting those snaps at corner after starting the season at WR. At only 22 and progressing well as a corner, getting 3 interceptions in one game against the Stallions, Kelly has a ton of versatility and can create huge splash plays.
27. Dallas Cowboys, Shakir Soto, DT (San Diego Fleet)
Rod Marinelli, Dallas defensive coordinator, has a long history of getting the most out of his DT. Marinelli and Soto could be a perfect match. He was a DE at the University of Pittsburgh; nevertheless, he is transitioning nicely to the inside. He is disruptive out of his snap and can create speed to power. He is only 290lbs, but Marinelli has always preferred athletes on the inside of his line. As he gets more snaps at DT, he will only get better, which is scary considering he already has 3 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks.
28. Los Angeles Chargers, T.J. Barnes, DT (Atlanta Legends)
The Chargers have arguably one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III. Add in a 6’7” 370 lbs behemoth, and that defensive line will be dominant for 3 downs. Barnes may not be an ideal 3rd down defensive tackle at his size, but he can be an asset on first and second down stopping the run.
29. Kansas City Chiefs, Will Hill III, S (Orlando Apollos)
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, their stud S Eric Berry, has not played a full season in some time. Will Hill could help bring some back-end depth to their safety position. He is also an exceptional special team player and has already made splashes at the NFL level with a 44-yard interception for a touchdown in 2014 and a blocked field goal for a touchdown in 2015 for the Ravens. His biggest flaw during his last stint in the NFL, however, was consistency. He seemed to get out of position regularly, which is a problem for a member of the secondary. Luckily, his time in Orlando has helped improve on it, and he is currently the second highest rated safety according to Pro Football Focus.
30. New Orleans Saints, Wes Saxton Jr, TE (Birmingham Iron)
Wes Saxton is an incredible athlete coming out of South Alabama University. He turned some heads at the 2015 combine with a 4.6 40-yard dash and 119-inch Broad Jump. He is quick into his routes and can stick his foot in the ground to shake off linebackers. A sub-par blocker who could be a great additional weapon for Drew Brees in 2019.
31. Los Angeles Rams, Casey Sayles, DT (Birmingham Iron)
This converted defensive end to defensive tackle has been a force in the AAF. He is a smaller interior defensive lineman who explodes out of his snap. A great technician with his hands, he has only gotten more consistent under Head Coach Tim Lewis. Suh is going to leave a huge hole on the Rams defensive line. Even if Sayles cannot fill that role, he could be a good rotational piece to keep the Rams star nose tackle legs fresh all season.
32. New England Patriots, Dontez Ford, WR (San Diego Fleet)
Dontez Ford is known as a big-bodied contested catch receiver. He was tagged as a big guy without burst, however he has shown incredible breakaway speed for the Fleet, as evidenced by when he took a quick slant 54 yards down the field in week 4. He had an injury plagued collegiate career and fell through the cracks. Ford is emerging as a deep threat in Mike Martz system, catching a 46-yard catch downfield with time running off the clock to put the Fleet in field goal position last week against the Stallions. Tom Brady showed he can still get the ball down field to Josh Gordon this past season. With Gordon suspended indefinitely, the Patriots will need to find a new deep threat, and Ford could be a risk-free option to bring into training camp to see if he can rise to the challenge.