Draft Day

Joshua Jordan Mock 3.0: Draft plan for the Saints and Cowboys

Can the Saints put together back-to-back elite drafts? David Grunfeld/Nola.Com

My mock is a bit different from some the national guys like Mel Kiper Jr. and NFL.com's Lance Zierlein.  And I certainly don't have their resume, but I do have the luxury of talking football with guys like Lance, and have co-hosted draft shows in the Houston market the last few years. If you want to see how Lance has the first round shaking out compared to mine, you can read his mock draft here. This week, I'm going to highlight the Saints and Cowboys selections and team needs. No, I'm not a Saints or Cowboys fan, but the Texans don't have a pick until the 3rd round, and I know we have some New Orleans and Dallas fans living among us.

1. Cleveland Browns- USC QB Sam Darnold

The Browns finally get their franchise QB. I'm not buying the Josh Allen rumors yet.

2. New York Giants- NCST DE Bradley Chubb

The Giants find a replacement for JPP.

3. New York Jets- Wyoming QB Josh Allen

The Jets grab their QB, and I think they pass on Rosen. Allen has insane upside, so I think he's the pick.

4. Cleveland Browns- Penn St. RB Saquon Barkley

Cleveland selects the best player and best QB in the draft. 

5. Denver Broncos- Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield

Many have the Broncos trading out here, but I think they stand pat and take their future QB.

6. Indianapolis Colts- Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmonds

The Colts add an incredible playmaker to their defense.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Ohio St. CB Denzel Ward

The Bucs get the best corner in the draft.

8. Chicago Bears- Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson

The Bears get one of the best players in the draft and protect their young QB.

9. San Francisco 49ers- Georgia LB Roquan Smith

This week, I'm going with Lance's advice and moving Roquan Smith into my Top 10. If you missed Lance Zierlein shaming me last week, you can check it out here

10. TRADE--------- Buffalo Bills via Raiders- UCLA QB Josh Rosen

The Bills trade with the Raiders to jump in front of Miami and grab their QB. Adam Gase and the Dolphins are rumored to be interested in Rosen, so the Bills make their move.

11. Miami Dolphins- UTSA DE Marcus Davenport

 The Dolphins add a pass rusher and have no other choice than to roll with Tannehill another year.

12. TRADE--------- Oakland Raiders via Bills- Washington DT Vita Vea 

The Raiders get their guy and collect some picks in the process.

13. Washington Redskins-  Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick

Washington gets a steal and adds to the secondary.

14. Green Bay Packers- Florida State S Derwin James

The Packers shock the world and take a safety in the first round.

15. Arizona Cardinals- Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey

The Cardinals upgrade their putrid offensive line.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Alabama WR Calvin Ridley

Ozzie Newsome adds the best receiver in the draft to help his veteran QB. He'll be a nice pairing with possession WR Michael Crabtree.

17. Los Angeles Chargers- Alabama DT  Da'Ron Payne

The Chargers bolster their defense.

18. Seattle Seahawks- Iowa CB Josh Jackson

Pete Carroll and John Schneider get their replacement for Richard Sherman. Jackson has size and terrific ball skills. He has Seahawk written all over him.

19. Dallas Cowboys-  SMU WR Courtland Sutton

The Cowboys run up to the podium and select Sutton to replace Dez Bryant. Courtland Sutton has the potential to be a player similar to Brandon Marshall, if things go well.

I previously had Dallas taking a linebacker or defensive tackle, but receiver is so thin in this draft, and they have to replace Dez. The Cowboys traded up to draft Bryant in 2010, and they may do the same thing this year. Calvin Ridley ending up in Dallas would not surprise me.

If the Cowboys take a defensive player in the first round, I think a linebacker or defensive tackle is most likely. This defense is not the same when Sean Lee is out, and he has been injured a lot over his career. Alabama LB Rashaan Evans or Boise St. LB Leighton Vander Esch would make a lot of sense here. Florida DT Taven Bryan could be in play here as well. 

20. Detroit Lions- Boston College DE Harold Landry

The Lions get some help on their defensive line. Ziggy Ansah is playing on the franchise tag.

21. Cincinnati Bengals - Florida DT Taven Bryan

The Bengals get good value with Bryan.

22. TRADE---------Oakland Raiders via Bills- Louisville CB Jaire Alexander

The Raiders take the extra pick from the Bills and get some much-needed help at corner.

23. New England Patriots- UCF CB Mike Hughes

The Pats replace Malcolm Butler at CB. 

24. Carolina Panthers- UCLA OT Kolton Miller

The Panthers find some protection for Cam Newton.

25. Tennessee Titans- Alabama LB Rashaan Evans

Tennessee gets a great player, and they fill a big need at linebacker.

26. Atlanta Falcons- Michigan DT Maurice Hurst

Dontari Poe left in free agency, so the Falcons add a DT.

27. New Orleans Saints- Boise St. LB  Leighton Vander Esch

The Saints add a playmaker on the second level. I think New Orleans has to keep upgrading the defense, because they have a real shot at a championship in 2018. Give Brees one more year to win it all. He already has plenty of weapons to do it. I would love to take a pass rusher here, but the Saints shouldn't reach. Vander Esch is a playmaker, just take him. Sean Payton is always tempted to take an offensive player in every round, and it worked out with the Alvin Kamara pick in the 3rd round last year. But the Saints have a great o-line and terrific skill players, so now's the time to go all-in and invest in the defense.

They may look for a receiver to complement Michael Thomas, because it looks like Willie Snead could end up in Baltimore. The problem with 1st round WRs is, they typically don't contribute much in their rookie year, and this might be the last great season we see from Drew Brees. If I'm drafting for New Orleans, I'm going with the same approach as the Rams and Eagles. Use all of your capital to try to win it all this year.

Finally, this is a great TE group, so they may go that route in round one. Once again, you don't see many rookie TEs make a big contribution in their first season. Rookie linebackers however, are very often plug-and-play guys.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Alabama S Ronnie Harrison

He just feels like a Steeler.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars- Louisville QB Lamar Jackson

Blake Bortles will have competition.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Georgia OG Isaiah Wynn

The Vikings spent a ton of money on Kirk Cousins, so they add some help on the line to protect him.

31. New England Patriots- Texas OL Connor Williams

Belichick isn't afraid to draft Longhorns, and Williams can move to guard if he can't hang at tackle.

32. Philadelphia Eagles- South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst

The Super Bowl champs add another toy for Carson Wentz.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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