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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Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

Football players, coaches and general managers have come and gone, but only one person has been running the business side of the Texans, well, even before they were the Texans. Jamey Rootes has been President of the Houston Texans since 1999, when an NFL team in Houston was still just a gleam in owner Bob McNair's eyes. That's before the team adopted the name "Texans" in 2000, before there was NRG Stadium, which opened as Reliant Stadium in 2000, and before they became serial champs of the AFC South, six titles between 2011-2019.

The precise date was Oct. 6, 1999 when NFL owners voted 29-0 to award the NFL's 32nd and newest franchise to Houston. Not only that, Houston was awarded the 2004 Super Bowl. Rootes, 34 years old with no NFL experience, had his work cut out for him. Before taking the job in Houston, Rootes was team president, general manager and CEO of selling peanuts and popcorn for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer, with all due respect, is not nearly a national obsession like the National Football League.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rootes said. "There's a quote that I love, 'Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.' I've always been a purpose-driven person. As for the step up to the NFL, I went from knowing nothing at the start of my time in Columbus to five years later thinking, OK, I've got this sports thing down. Actually, I had a very significant reduction in my responsibilities in Houston. When I was in Columbus, I ran the stadium, I ran the team's business, I was the general manager so I did the talent side of it, too. When I came to Houston, all I had to do was the business, so that was great."

Rootes has captured his remarkable journey from the soccer team at Clemson to grad school at Indiana University to the business world at IBM and Proctor & Gamble to the Clemson Crew, to ultimately being named President of the Houston Texans in his new book, The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, available next week.

I've known Rootes from his day one with the Texans, but I still had to ask: everybody knows what the general manager does, and what the head coach does. What exactly does the President of an NFL team worth $3.3 billion do?

"I like to use the parallel of a pharmaceutical company to describe my job. There are two sides to that company. First you put scientists in one building and you leave them alone. They create products, which is what our football team is. The football side has a coach and general manager and all the people who prepare the team to play on Sunday. But getting that product to market is done by the business side, traditional business disciplines. Those are the things that fall to me. Basically, everything between the white lines is run by the football side. Everything outside of those lines, I do," Rootes said.

Between 1999 and 2002, when the Texans played their first game (let the record show the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboy, 19-10), the team was essentially a massive start-up project. First orders of business for Rootes involved building a new stadium, developing relationships with suppliers, contractors and government officials, preparing for a Super Bowl and, most important, developing a relationship with fans.

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March, but it's really an accumulation of lessons learned and behind-the-scenes stories about building the Texans from scratch into one of the most admired and valuable franchises in all of sports.

"I've always been a meticulous note-taker. I've kept every presentation I've ever done. I took all of my notes and concepts and put those down on paper," Rootes said. "To be a good leader, you need a wild imagination. You can show me a blank piece of paper, but I don't see it as blank. To me, it's a finished product that hasn't been created yet," Rootes said.

Rootes lays out his leadership strategy in seven chapters: Are You a Manager or a Leader, Get the Right People on Your Team, Build a Winning Culture, Create Raving Fans, a Winning Playbook for Adversity and Success, Your Leadership Playbook and Play to Win.

He learned lesson No. 1 the hard way. A friend once counseled Rootes, "your staff doesn't like the way you're all up in their business, you need to back off." Rootes took that advice to heart.

"It was an epiphany. I wasn't a leader. That's when I truly began thinking about leadership. I say this all the time, I don't do anything. All I do is create an environment where exceptional people can be their very best self. I know what's going on. I'm fully informed. I leave every game day exhausted. I get there early. I do the things I need to do. I kiss babies. I shake hands. I present checks. I entertain clients. I'm dialed in. It absolutely wears me out because I love this organization so much. I am so proud of what we've been able to do for this great city of Houston."

I asked Rootes, as someone who lives for Game Day and a packed NRG Stadium, are you devastated by 2020, the year of COVID-19 and small crowds limited by Centers for Disease Control guidelines?

"I don't look at it that way. I think there's a song by 10,000 Maniacs that said, these are the days that you'll remember. I told my staff, I know you're all going through hell right now, but later on in life, you'll talk about this year. Things that are important are memorable, for the positive and those things that leave a scar. You learn from adversity and you're a better person for enduring it. Victor Frankl said 'We can discover meaning in life in three different ways, by creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.' Suffering is part of life. He should know, he survived a Nazi concentration camp," Rootes said.

H-E-B President Scott McClelland wrote the forward to The Winning Game Plan. Rootes dedicates the book to late Texans owner Bob McNair. Rootes' book is a fun read. All I kept thinking was, where was this book when I needed it? And before you buy too much into Rootes as a leader, consider that Rootes admits that he had to ask for wife Melissa's permission before he could accept the Texans job.

Personal note: I believe that a big part of leadership is the ability to keep a promise. Several years ago, I was riding my bicycle with my dog Lilly on a leash. It was the only way I could keep up with her. Well, one time Lilly saw a squirrel and pulled me off my bicycle. I tumbled a few times and rolled next to the curb. When I looked up, there was Jamey Rootes. I told him, "There's no need for you to tell anybody about this." He never said a word.

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