Tag Archives: AFC West

NFL 2017: Week 15 Predictions!

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After a rough night in Miami, Tom Brady and the Patriots look to bounce back in Pittsburgh with a lot on the line.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 5-11

Season: 120-88

Big Five Games of the Week

Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City – This game will probably determine the AFC West Champion. Its crazy to think that the Chiefs are underdogs at home in this matchup considering how they started the season. The Chiefs were able to get back on track last week with a win at home over Oakland. They’ll face a much more determined team at home on Sunday. The Chargers have a past known for getting hot in December and that is the case for 2017. Phillip Rivers is leading this offense and the young guys on defense are getting it done as well. Kansas City still has a lot of offer, especially at home, but they are not as strong as the Chargers are right now. KC is still banged up defensively and I think they’ll be counting on big performance in this one from Alex Smith. Can he deliver at home? I doubt. I see Rivers and the Chargers taking a huge step towards the playoffs with a big road victory. Prediction: Chargers 24 – Chiefs 20

Green Bay @ Carolina – Carolina really impressive me last week by playing big at home against a quality opponent. I feel like I’m waiting for the Panthers to under perform like they were earlier this season but they are really hitting their stride right now on both sides of the ball. They’ll be at home again this week against another NFC North team hoping for the post season. The Packers took overtime to beat Cleveland last week. But everything could be different now with the news that Aaron Rodgers is ready to return. Green Bay went through a similar scenario a few years back when Rodgers returned from injury to lead them to the playoffs. I know that Rodgers is really good but I doubt that we will see a sequel to that. Green Bay stinks but Rodgers can provide some very strong cologne for that. But Carolina has a capable defense and they are playing well at home. Green Bay may be able to do more things offensively with Rodgers back but I don’t feel great about their defense’s chances against Cam Newton. Newton is starting to string together some solid performances. I think he can do so again this week. Prediction: Panthers 36 – Packers 31

Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle – The inconsistency of Seattle on road struck again last week. The Seahawks do not look like a team ready to make a playoff push. They are too banged up on defense and they lack composure. The Rams took their lumps last week against the Eagles but they still hung tough in that game. I think the Rams defense will have the chance to look strong this week against Seattle’s offensive line. The Seahawk defense will be looking to bounce back against Jared Goff after allowing Blake Bortles to look like a NFL Quarterback. I just feel like Seattle is in a bad spot right now and it couldn’t of have come a worst time for them. With the playoffs on the line, I feel like you could usually count on Seattle bouncing back strong at home. But right now, they look like they have no direction. I might be going out on a limb here but I’m taking the Rams to end Seattle’s playoff hopes. Prediction: Rams 23 – Seahawks 21

New England @ Pittsburgh – Well, Pittsburgh has definitely had this date circled on the schedule. This season’s Patriots and Steelers tilt will most likely determine who will have home field advantage in the AFC. It is the biggest regular season game for both teams. New England suffered a letdown last Monday night in Miami; a place where they have had problems before. New England’s issues shouldn’t come as a shock. When things are good with the Patriots, they are great. When things are bad, it is obvious why. Beating New England is tough but is doable. Pressure Tom Brady. Take advantage of their over achieving defense. And done. It doesn’t happen much but its possible. After what the Dolphins did to them, the Patriots should be extra motivated to bounce back against a familiar opponent with a lot on the line. The Steelers are on a winning streak but they could easier be on a losing streak. Pittsburgh has been able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the last four weeks. As a team, they really are not playing their best football but they have enough individual talent that provides big plays that allows them to squeak out victories. I think in this matchup we’ll see a lot of scoring. New England’s defense is vulnerable right now but at the same time, Pittsburgh’s defense gave up almost 40 points last week to Joe Flacco. Brady will attack the Pittsburgh defense after a weak showing last week. New England’s track record coming off a loss is pretty good. Ben Roethlisberger is throwing the ball too much right now but he’ll need to have that same approach this week. New England, or the league, doesn’t have a guy that can keep up with Antonio Brown so Ben will need to feed him as much as possible. I think both running games will find success in this one as well. New England’s run defense is shaky and Pittsburgh is greatly missing Ryan Shazier. Pittsburgh has been able to come out of tough spots smelling like roses recently. That home crowd will be rocking and looking for blood. I think the lead up to this game just screams a typical dominant performance from Brady and company. Especially with Rob Gronkowski returning from a suspension. But I think the Steelers will flip the script. I’ll take the home team now because chances are these two will meet again in January. And there is no way I’ll take Pittsburgh then. Even if they are at home. Prediction: Steelers 40 – Patriots 37

Dallas @ Oakland – Loser of this one can just forget about the post season. The Raiders have been among one of the most disappointing teams this season. The passing game has been inconsistent and they haven’t been able to control the clock with the run game. Oakland also has a defense that likes to give up big plays. The Cowboys were finally able to create some big plays last week in New York. Dallas just needs to find a way to start faster. If given chances, David Carr and the Raiders offense can create some scoring. Dallas just has to limit those chances by controlling the clock and cashing in on long drives. The idea of Dallas winning out always seems far-fetched to me but they are one game away from having Ezekiel Elliott back. The Cowboys need to dispatch this bad team then start thinking about the possibilities with Zeke back in the fold. Prediction: Cowboys 34 – Raiders 27

The Rest of Week 15

Broncos over Colts – The ratings will be awful, that’s for sure. Thursday night football should end.

Lions over Bears – Detroit needs this one but Chicago is playing well right now. This game might be interesting.

Bills over Dolphins – Will Miami’s inconsistency continue on the road? Buffalo is very much in the playoff discussion. They are usually tough at home and Tyrod Taylor will be back from injury.

Ravens over Browns – Cleveland blew their chance last week. They might go winless now. How sad.

Vikings over Bengals – Marvin Lewis has to go.

Saints over Jets – New York was a scrappy team this season but their offense will be putrid now with Josh McCown out. I can’t believe I just typed that.

Eagles over Giants – The Carson Wentz injury won’t matter this week.

Cardinals over Washington – Arizona hasn’t been a good road team this season but Washington quit after the last loss to Dallas.

Jaguars over Texans – A win here would clinch a playoff berth for Jacksonville. What a time.

Titans over 49ers – Marcus Mariota is under a lot of heat right now. He has to respond strongly this week, as Tennessee needs to keep pace with Jacksonville in the AFC South.

Falcons over Buccaneers – Atlanta cannot afford a letdown on the road. Divisional games on the road could be tricky though.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) – Pittsburgh is using the pass a lot right now.

RB: Jay Ajayi (Eagles) – With Wentz, Philly might be riding the J Train now and into the post season.

WR: Julio Jones (Falcons) – Atlanta will need big plays from their WR against a poor Tampa secondary.

TE: Delanie Walker (Titans) – Walker has been one of Mariota’s most reliable receivers this season.

DEF: Denver – After ending their 8 game losing streak, the Broncos will be looking for more success on defense at Indianapolis.

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NFL 2017: AFC Preview (Condensed)

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Tom Brady and the Patriots reloaded in the offseason. Does the rest of the AFC stand a chance?

By: Elias McMillan

 

AFC East

New England Patriots – The Patriots won another title last season with a roster that wasn’t supremely talented. During this offseason, New England added significant upgrades on offense at RB and WR and on defense at DE and CB. Also, TE Rob Gronkowski returns after missing much of last year due to injury. It looks like the Brady-Belicheck combo will be the cream of the crop once again in the AFC. Although, it seems when the Patriots reload like this, they find a way to disappoint in the post season. We’ll see if this season will be different. Prediction: 15-1 (AFC East Champs)

Miami Dolphins – Miami made the playoffs somehow last season. But they don’t have much momentum going into 2017. It doesn’t help that they lost Ryan Tannehill to injury in training camp and had to replace him with a Jay Cutler they had to drag out from the announcer’s booth (Why didn’t they sign Kaepernick?). Positives: they found an answer a RB last season (Jay Ajayi) and they are pretty solid at the receiver positions. On defense, they have a tough front four and I like the offseason addition of Lawrence Timmons. Negatives: Miami secondary may be the down fall for this defense, yet again. And you’ll never know which Jay Cutler that you’re going to get. Prediction: 8-8

Buffalo Bills – Buffalo did Rex Ryan wrong and now they seem to be tanking. They traded their best WR and CB for draft picks. The Bills made a smart trade on draft day in April. Buffalo is stockpiling draft picks. It’s good idea but its not going to help them win 2017. I feel bad for LeSean McCoy who is wasting his talents up there. I’m interested in seeing how QB Tyrod Taylor will fair with limited weapons in the passing game. Buffalo has young talent on defense. I really liked Shaq Lawson from the 2016 draft. If he’s healthy, he’ll be impact player. Regardless, I don’t see many wins in Buffalo this year. Prediction: 5-11

New York Jets – The Jets are tanking. I hope it doesn’t cost head coach Todd Bowles who won 10 games in New York just two seasons ago. The Jets literally got rid of every veteran on the team except RB Matt Forte. The QB position is a disaster. What is josh McCown doing to keep finding work in this league? WR core? Garbage. They do have some promising talent on defense. It’s going to be an ugly year for the Jets. Prediction: 2-14

 

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers return with supreme talent on the offense between the QB (Roethlisberger), RB (Bell), and the WR (Brown). That, along with that over achieving offensive line, Pittsburgh should be able to rule the North again. What will stop them in the playoffs? If it isn’t the inability to stay healthy, it will be the lack of big plays from their defense. Losing and not replacing Lawrence Timmons at middle linebacker will prove to be a mistake. Pittsburgh is solid on the defensive line but they lack players in the secondary that can make big plays. But what they are really missing is an impact pass rusher. Can rookie T.J. Watt be that guy? Despite the questions, Pittsburgh should be New England’s main rival for the AFC crown. Prediction: 11-5 (AFC North Champs)

Baltimore Ravens – Baltimore quietly made some improvements this offseason especially on defense. I like the addition of S Tony Jefferson. They have solid veteran leadership in the secondary between him and Eric Weddle. Terrell Suggs returns for what maybe his final season. Look out for rookie Tyus Bowser to become a difference maker off the edge on this defense. Baltimore’s defense will keep the Ravens in a lot of games but they have serious questions on offense. It feels like everyone has been waiting for 2012 Joe Flacco to return and it just hasn’t happened yet. It would help if he could get some consistency from his supporting cast. Maybe WR Jeremy Maclin can help. The success of this season for the Ravens will be up to if the offense can finally figure itself out. Prediction: 8-8

Cincinnati Bengals – Cincinnati again brings a talented roster to the table but their undisciplined nature seems to be their undoing. I like Marvin Lewis but how does he still have a job as he continues to vouch for Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict? On offense, the Bengals need Andy Dalton to stay healthy because he has a great collection of skill players around him, highlighted by WR A.J. Green. The Bengals have a talented defense led by DT Geno Atkins. But I think their immaturity will hold them back. They might push Baltimore for second place in the division. Prediction: 8-8

Cleveland Browns – Same as it ever was for the Browns. QB questions. Young talent on both sides of the ball. Seasoned veterans. Cleveland just can’t seem to put it all together. But this season could set the table for some success down the road. The Browns will see what they have in rookie QB DeShone Kizer right out of the gate. First round pick Myles Garrett will receive tons of playing time as well and he has impressed in the pre-season. I will be interested in seeing how Cleveland does with this current crop of young talent. I’m a believer in Hue Jackson. Prediction: 6-10

 

AFC South

Tennessee Titans – I’m buying into the Titans this season. They impressed a season ago and they may have made the post season if QB Marcus Mariota doesn’t get hurt late in the season. Tennessee has a good mix a RB with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, a great offensive line, and they added weapons in the passing game. Once the defense figures itself out, they could become a contender in the AFC. But for now, I think they’ll be good enough to win the AFC South. Prediction: 10-6 (AFC South Champs)

Houston Texans – Houston has made the playoffs in two straight seasons. I would say this is mainly because of their defense. In 2015, in was all about J.J. Watt. In 2016, while Watt was injured, it was all about Jadeveon Clowney. Who knows what this defense will be capable of with both Watt and Clowney in the line-up. Houston has a legit starter at RB (Lamar Miller) and a legit number one receiver (DeAndre Hopkins). What they don’t have is a legit starting QB. Could it be the returning backup Tom Savage or the rookie who just won a national championship, Deshaun Watson? Either way, I’m expecting more big things from the defense in Houston. Prediction: 9-7 (Wild-card)

Indianapolis Colts – I feel like the majority is expecting nothing from this Colts team, which makes them kind of underrated. But they still have plenty of issues. Issues number one: the health of Andrew Luck. I expect Luck to start out on the PUP list (6 Games) so they are going to have to roll with Scott Tolzien. Good thing for Tolzien, the best player on the team is a WR (T.Y. Hilton). The defense is full of cast offs from another teams. I think a lot of teams will sleep on Indy and for good reason. But I don’t think they’ll completely stink. Prediction: 7-9

Jacksonville Jaguars – Jacksonville should have been the team that brought in Colin Kaepernick. The jig up for Blake Bortles. The Jaguars actually have promising talent on both sides of the ball. It is clear that the QB position is holding them back. It’s too bad, I guess. I really like what they have on defense. But it wont be enough to make up for the shortcomings offensively. Jacksonville will likely be drafting a new QB early in the draft next April. Prediction: 4-12

 

AFC West

Oakland Raiders – The Raiders had a great 2016 season that was derailed by Derek Carr’s injury before the playoffs. Now, Carr returns to a team that is ready to take the next step and win the AFC West. Oakland is set up pretty well offensively. I think Marshawn Lynch’s return to the NFL wont have as much as an impact as some people may want to but at the least, he’ll serve well as a weapon in the red zone. Outside of their front four, I’m still worried about the defense especially in the secondary. Prediction: 12-4 (AFC West Champs)

Denver Broncos – Denver suffered through a Super Bowl hangover last year but I think they can rebound in 2017. I still like what their defense brings to the table. Von Miller is one of the best players in the league. I’m not sure how far this offense will be able to take them under the command of QB Trevor Siemian. But the Broncos have plenty of weapons at the skills positions on offense. They still have a stacked WR group led by Demaryius Thomas. Also, remember this name from out of the backfield: sixth round pick RB DeAngelo Henderson. Prediction: 9-7 (Wild-card)

Kansas City Chiefs – Andy Reid has won 10+ games in Kansas City 3 out of the 4 seasons as head coach. And in the one season he didn’t, the team still finished over .500. I think that impressive streak will come to an end this season. The Chiefs are in the process of pushing out many veterans on the roster and that turnover will affect their chances to compete in the AFC West. Alex Smith will be feeling the heat all season from the first round QB they selected in April, Patrick Mahomes. The offense will feature TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreke Hill but Jamaal Charles and Jeremy Maclin are both gone. They do have a great defense to lean on but that group is starting to age. This will be a down year for the Chiefs. Prediction: 7-9

Los Angeles Chargers – I absolutely hate the Chargers move to LA. It stinks to the high heavens. It stinks for the NFL. As for the team, they could be a sleeper in the AFC West if they can stay healthy. I feel like you could say that every year about this team though. Phillip Rivers returns for yet another season where he will see his WR core suffer through many injuries. At least he still has an aging TE Antonio Gates to go to. It would be nice if RB Melvin Gordon can continue the success he had a season ago. I think the story from this team this year will be the emergence of DE Joey Bosa as he will become a defensive star in this league. Between Melvin Ingram and Bosa, the Chargers could have the best pass-rushing duo in the division. It would be cool to see this team grab some success while they still have Phillip Rivers but I don’t see it happening. Prediction: 6-10

 

AFC Playoff Picture Prediction

  1. New England Patriots – 15-1 (AFC East)
  2. Oakland Raiders – 12-4 (AFC West)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers – 11-5 (AFC North)
  4. Tennessee Titans – 10-6 (AFC South)
  5. Houston Texans – 9-7 (Wild-card)
  6. Denver Broncos – 9-7 (Wild-card)

NFL 2016: AFC West Preview

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Khalil Mack and the Raiders defense will make a playoff push in 2016.

By: Elias McMillan

 

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs quietly had an outstanding season in 2015 headlined by that massive win streak that they rode into the playoffs. I think that this Chiefs team going into 2016, will have a pretty good shot at overtaking this division from Denver since the Broncos may have not improved in the offseason. The Chiefs have a great veteran core, a great running game, and a great defense. Head coach Andy Reid will have this team ready for bigger things in 2016. I think the questions about QB Alex Smith going into last season are about done. I’m not saying that Smith is a top QB in the league but he is much better than what people believe. When pressed, he can make the big plays at times and I think last season he won the respect of a lot of people in that locker room. A big help to Alex Smith is that the Chiefs are one the best teams at running the football. Everyone knows that Jamaal Charles is the star but they have great depth behind him with Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, and the speedy kick returner Knile Davis. I don’t know if the depth behind Charles is in result of just having good talent or if the Chiefs offensive line does an outstanding job but either way, it works for this team. The Chiefs receiving core is kind of boring outside of Jeremy Maclin. Maclin showed a lot of heart last season by playing through injuries and he is one of the toughest guys in the league. The Chiefs need someone else opposite of Maclin to step up this season. That could be Albert Wilson or second year receiver Chris Conley. Smith also has a pretty good connection with TE Travis Kelce in the passing game. Kansas City’s defense is strong up front and they had a top 10 run defense in 2015. Nose tackle Dontari Poe is the leader of the group and I think top draft pick, Chris Jones from Mississippi State, will be a great addition eventually. The Chiefs return the same great group at linebacker this season. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston maybe starting to get up there in age but they are still a top pass rushing duo in the league. LB’s Derrick Johnson and Josh Mauga are both good tacklers and pass defenders. Kansas City’s secondary received a big boost last season from reigning defensive rookie of the year, CB Marcus Peters. Peters is an interception machine and he looks to continue right where he left off in 2015. The veteran leader in the secondary, safety Eric Berry, is back and is fresh off a season where he won Comeback Player of the Year. The Chiefs have a great collection of talent in 2016 and they are battle tested. They should be able to win the AFC West and maybe make some noise in the post season. Prediction: 11-5 (AFC West Champs)

Oakland Raiders – Coming off a 7-9 season, the Raiders actually have some momentum going into 2016. They have assembled a young talented roster but they still have some holes that need to be filled. I think this Raiders team is going to be good this year mainly because of their defense. I’m not entirely sure if the Raiders have made the transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense but the moves they have made in the offseason do reflect that. Either way, they have drafted very smart and they have brought it some key veteran players. On the defensive line, they have a couple of guys that fit the 3-4 scheme as big bodied, run stuffers. DT’s Dan Williams and Justin Ellis offer a lot of size inside and rookie Jihad Ward will offer athleticism inside as a defensive end. There is also some hope that second year DE Mario Edwards Jr. will improve this season. The Raiders have the players at defensive line but the real standouts will be the pass rushers. Khalil Mack had a standout 2015 and he has the ability to be the next Von Miller. In a 4-3 defense, Mack was moved around a lot and did well. But he really excelled at creating pressure in the backfield. In a 3-4 defense, Mack would have more opportunities at getting to the QB and I believe that this is the plan for 2016. I think the offseason signing of OLB Bruce Irvin supports that scheme change. Irvin played in a 4-3 defense in Seattle but he is probably more suited as an outside rusher in a 3-4 defense. With Mack on the opposite side, Irvin is going to have the chance to be an impact player in this defense. The Raiders have had a big hole in their secondary for years now. This offseason they brought in a couple veterans and some young guys that might be able to turn this unit around. CB Sean Smith was a good player in Kansas City and former first round pick D.J. Hayden is coming off his best season as a pro. Charles Woodson retired but Oakland will attempt to replace him with seasoned vet, Reggie Nelson. Nelson isn’t the player that Woodson was obviously, but he is a ball hawk with a knack for creating big time turnovers. Nelson will be paired with this year’s first round pick, safety Karl Joseph. I thought Joseph was a reach in the first round for Oakland but the guy is a heat seeking missile when it comes to ball carriers. The combo of Nelson and Joseph will be perfect for this defense as both bring that playmaking potential on each down. On offense, the Raiders have the QB and WR positions figured out at least. QB David Carr hasn’t put up monster numbers yet but he is the young leader of this offense. Carr has a great set of reliable receivers in veteran Michael Crabtree and second year standout Amari Cooper. The combination of AC/DC has already become a popular one for Raiders fans. What worries me about the Raiders offense is that I don’t think they are strong up front and I think that is holding back Carr and especially the running game. RB Latavius Murray had a decent 2015 season but I think he could be better if the Raiders had a better offensive line. The Raiders don’t have great depth behind Murray at RB. Rookie DeAndre Washington led the Big 12 in rushing last year and he might be called upon early in his career. The Raiders are also really lacking at the TE position. Mychal Rivera isn’t dynamic to give Carr a reliable target in the passing game. I expect this Raiders defense to be a monster and I think Oakland could possibly ride it into the team’s first post-season berth since 2002. But they need to fill some holes on the offensive side of the ball if they want to return to being the dominant team in this division. Prediction: 9-7 (Wildcard)

Denver Broncos – It’s hard for champions to repeat especially in the NFL. Denver is going to have a tough time bucking that logic in 2016. Denver still has a lot of the talent pieces from last year’s championship run but they also lost a few and the division they play in has improved. Denver was able to ride their defense to a championship a season ago and it looks like the defense will have to be the vocal point once again in 2016. Peyton Manning wasn’t his old self last season but his presence and his knowledge of the offense was able to get the most out of what he was able to do. I don’t think Denver has a QB on the roster right now that can be as valuable as Manning was to the offense last season. Manning looked bad at times in his final season but I think he’ll look better than what Denver has to offer at QB in 2016. Mark Sanchez is a veteran whose best days are behind him. Trevor Siemian hasn’t taken a snap in the regular season. And first round pick, Paxton Lynch, may not be ready to start on day one. Denver also lost multiple starters on the offensive line so, they may be in trouble when it comes to pass protection and run blocking. The QB will have to lean heavy on RB’s C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are talented receivers but their impact on the game will be lower this season because of the situation at QB. On defense, they may have lost Malik Jackson in free agency but I think they’ll still be pretty solid up front with Derek Wolfe and Sylvester Williams. Of course, the star of the defense is Von Miller who is the best pass rusher in football right now. Miller paired with DeMarcus Ware proved to be a deadly combo during the last post season and they will hope to pick up where they left off in 2016. Ware does have an injury history but Shane Ray is waiting in the wings as his heir apparent. Denver’s secondary could be a mixed bag this year too. Last season, CB’s Chris Harris and Bradley Roby proved their worth but that group will miss Aqib Talib who is facing a possible suspension and is battling his own injury problems. As the case for most good movies, the sequel wont be as good as the original. I don’t think Denver is going to fall off the face of the earth but they wont be contenders with that messy QB situation. They should have pulled the trigger on that purposed Colin Kaepernick trade. Prediction: 8-8

San Diego Chargers – The Chargers could potentially climb out of the AFC West basement in 2016 but I don’t see it happening. There are too many question marks on both sides of the ball and I think that the mismanagement from the front office is starting to affect the team. On paper, I think San Diego should be strong offensively. The only thing really missing on offense is a consistent run game. At QB, Phillip Rivers returns for another season as one of the most overlooked players in the league. Rivers can throw it with the best of them and this year he’ll have a pretty talented core of WR’s. I like the pairing of WR’s Kellen Allen and free agent acquisition Travis Benjamin as one serves as a tough possession and the other is a speedy game breaker. I also like the idea of veteran WR James Jones serving as a third option for Rivers. This is a role that Jones excelled at in Green Bay. Of course, Rivers will have Antonio Gates to throw to again at the TE position. But also look out for rookie Hunter Henry who will have a role at the second TE. The Chargers have drafted well up front and have brought in free agents in the past to help bolster that offensive line. Despite that, the running game has been such a major disappointment. San Diego has a decent collection of RB’s but second year player, Melvin Gordon, has to prove this season that he can be the guy in the backfield for this team. Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver are good complementary players at RB but Gordon has to prove that he was worth that first round pick from a season ago. On defense, the Chargers have a lot of talent but they have been inconsistent at all three phases. They don’t stop the run, they don’t get to the QB often enough, and the secondary will definetly be hurting without safety Eric Weddle. This years first round pick, Joey Bosa, was suppose to be a big help upfront at stopping run and creating pressure in the backfield. But the front office has screwed up the process of getting him signed much like other first rounders under this regime. Who knows if the Bosa holdout will last the entire season but I think the affects of it will cause division in the locker room. The Chargers struggle at stopping the run but they do have a pair of decent pass rushers in Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu. Inside at linebacker, Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman need to become the stars that they were in college to help improve the run defense. In the secondary, I actually like the two starters, Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett. I don’t know if Dwight Lowery can replace Weddle at safety for this team but he might provide some needed veteran leadership. I expect this Chargers team to compete hard for those fans in San Diego this season. But I think they will lack the consistency on both sides of the ball to compete for a playoff berth. I’m looking forward to these two victories for the Chargers in 2016: 1) Joey Bosa ending his holdout & 2) San Diego getting a stadium deal done. Prediction: 6-10

2016 NFL Draft Grades: AFC

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Shaq Lawson will be able to use his pass rushing skills in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense in Buffalo.

By: Elias McMillan

 

AFC EAST

1. Buffalo Bills: (Team Needs: DE (3-4), OLB (3-4), QB, WR, CB, LB) – I absolutely love Rex Ryan’s draft class for the second season in a row as Bills head coach. DE Shaq Lawson can be the pass rusher in a 3-4 that this defense needs. Reggie Ragland is one of the top tacklers in the draft and Buffalo was able to draft him in Round 2. Adolphus Washington’s athleticism makes him a great fit up front in this 3-4 defense. QB Cardale Jones was one of my favorite prospects in this draft. He didn’t have a great final season at Ohio State but he probably has the strongest arm of any QB in this draft. He could be able to push hard for the back up position at QB in camp. In the 6th round, they got WR Kolby Listenbee who is one of the fastest receivers in the draft. Buffalo also pretty much addressed all of their needs. Grade: A

2. Miami Dolphins: (Team Needs: OT, OG, CB, DE (4-3), DT, S, RB, WR) – Miami may have gotten the steal of the draft in OT Laremy Tunsil. There are some character issues with Tunsil maybe. Well, I wouldn’t say “character issues”. More like “acting like a dummy issues”. But with the bizarre way his draft stock fell all in one night while costing him millions of dollars, Miami will be getting a talented player who is eager to show that he is worth it. They drafted for secondary help in CB Xavien Howard but I feel that they could have gotten a better player a pick 38. RB Kenyan Drake is a reach in the third round. He kind of a one-trick pony in how he is like a poor man’s Darren Sproles. Miami should have addressed the RB position earlier. Thomas Duarte could be a steal in the seventh round if he can stay fast while bulking up to many play TE. Grade: B-

3. New York Jets: (Team Needs: OT, QB, ILB, OLB (3-4), CB, TE) – LB Darron Lee is a heck of player and he’ll do well in this 3-4 defense as an inside tackler or someone who can rush from the outside and make plays in the backfield. A lot of Jets fans didn’t like the Christian Hackenberg pick but his skill set matches what the Jets need at QB. Hackenberg has issues with being a “statue” at QB and holding on to the ball too long but once he figures it out, fans will see that he has one of the better arms out of the QB’s in this draft class. I didn’t see Georgia’s Jordan Jenkins as a dynamic pass rusher coming off from this draft but he’ll provide solid depth. The Jets hit most of their need areas but I feel like they could have done better in the later rounds. Especially with addressing the secondary. Grade: C

4. New England Patriots: (Team Needs: DE, OG, OT, WR, LB, CB, RB) – This was not a strong draft by the Patriots. It makes it worst that they didn’t have a first round pick. I’m a big fan of CB Cyrus Jones though. He doesn’t offer much size but he is as tough as they come and usually covers receivers tough in man-to-man situations. They addressed the offense line but they didn’t draft a tackle. I have no idea why they took a QB in the third round. WR Malcolm Mitchell could develop as a great special teams player. Grade: C-

AFC NORTH

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Tyler Boyd is a talent that could rise quick in Cincinnati.

1. Cincinnati Bengals: (Team Needs: CB, WR, DE (4-3), LB, DT, S) – The Bengals had a strong draft and they get extra points from me for trolling Pittsburgh. The Steelers had their eye on CB William Jackson but Cincy took him from right under them. Cincinnati has drafted so many first round corners in recent history but they did lose guys at that position in the offseason. Jackson was one of my favorite corners in this draft and his talent will get him on the field quickly as a rookie. The Bengals needed a receiver and so I correctly mocked Pitt’s Tyler Boyd to them in the second round. Boyd should be able to rise up the depth chart quick while learning from vet A.J. Green. Nick Vigil was one of the better inside linebackers in this draft. DT Andrew Billings should have gone in the first round but there were questions about the health of his knee. Billings may not be healthy but once he gets to 100%, he’ll prove to be a great steal for the Bengals in the fourth round. I had OG Christian Westerman going in the second round and the Bengals were able to get him in the fifth. They should have drafted some defensive end help but even without that, this was a very solid draft class. Grade: A-

2. Pittsburgh Steelers: (Team Needs: CB, S, NT, OLB (3-4), WR) – It has been a while since the Steelers addressed the secondary so early and often in the draft but they did so this past weekend. I think CB Artie Burns was a reach in the first round but he provides a need and he is very talented. Safety Sean Davis is a bit undersized but he’ll be fine as long as he gets to the ball carrier in a hurry and makes plays. Javon Hargrave may be the nose tackle of the future for this defense and many within the organization were big fans of this pick. I like the selection of OT Jerald Hawkins because the Steelers lost a tackle in free agency and Hawkins probably should have been drafted sooner. I didn’t see OLB Travis Feeney as a 3-4 linebacker but his speed should make it easy for him to transition into a playmaker on defense or special teams. I love the final pick of LB Tyler Matakevich who was a heck of a player at Temple. Solid draft by the black & gold. Grade: B+

3. Cleveland Browns: (Team Needs: S, OLB (3-4), ILB, QB, OT, WR) – Cleveland drafted the most players but that’s not what makes a draft a success. It’s the quality of players and Cleveland did okay in that department as well. I don’t know if Corey Coleman is the top receiver in this draft and I thought Cleveland was done with short receivers but Coleman is an absolute playmaker that should make an immediate impact on this offense. The Browns also scored big at the top of the second and third rounds by drafting a couple pass rushers. Emmanuel Ogbah had a beastly final season at Oklahoma State and offers great speed off the edge. Carl Nassib is tall at 6’7 and led all of CFB in sacks last year. The Cody Kessler pick is a head scratcher though. They really focused on the WR position in the later rounds. And I like the final pick of LB Scooby Wright who could be the next Zach Thomas. Grade: B+

4. Baltimore Ravens: (Team Needs: OT, OG, RB, DE (3-4), OLB (3-4), CB, S, ILB) – Baltimore could have had the top offensive tackle in the draft. But because of the ongoing controversy they settled for Ronnie Stanley who is still pretty good in his own right. I love the draft picks of Kamalei Correa and Bronson Kaufusi. Both of those guys have a future in this league as 3-4 outside rushing linebackers. Getting RB Kenneth Dixon in the 4th round will prove to be a steal. Dixon may have a lot of miles on him but he is as tough of a runner as they come. I’m interested to see what they do with Navy’s Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds made his college career as a runner but they will see what he can offer as a receiver. Grade: B

AFC SOUTH

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If Myles Jack can be healthy, he’ll be the steal of the entire draft for Jacksonville.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: (Team Needs: DE, OLB (4-3), CB, OG, OT) -Talent wise, the Jaguars hit it out the park with this draft class. Jalen Ramsey fell to them at number 5 when it was said that he was going in the top 3. Ramsey will provide the help in the secondary that this team desperately needs. In the second round, they took LB Myles Jack who if was 100% healthy would have been a top ten pick. When Jack is ready him and Telvin Smith will form the fastest LB duo in the league. DT Sheldon Day was another steal in the 4th round for Jacksonville. The Jaguars also drafted three other defensive ends. If youre a Jacksonville fan, you have to feel good about the foundation being built on the defensive side of the ball. Grade: A

2. Tennessee Titans: (Team Needs: OT, OLB (3-4), ILB, CB, S, DT) – OT Jack Conklin was a good player for Tennessee to trade up for. He’ll help provide stability to that offensive line. The Titans took a young pass rusher in Kevin Dodd. I thought Dodd would be a better fit for a 4-3 but he’ll be fine as a pass rusher from the outside in this defense. I like the selection of DT Austin Johnson as well. RB Derrick Henry is talented but now Tennessee’s backfield is loaded. Not sure if they needed to take a RB so early. I feel that Tennessee should have addressed the secondary and the inside LB position sooner than they did. Grade: B

3. Houston Texans: (Team Needs: TE, WR, DE (3-4), OLB (3-4), C, S) – Houston was looking for help at WR opposite of DeAndre Hopkins. Taking WR Will Fuller in the first round seems like a reach to me. Fuller is one of the fastest players in the draft but he is a body catcher. I’m kinda more excited for third round pick Braxton Miller who has great hands and can do some special things in the open field. Center Nick Martin was a smart pick as the Texans lost their starting center in free agency. I find it interesting that the Texans didn’t address any of the pass rushing positions. DT D.J. Reader is a huge body that will learn a lot from Vince Wilfork. Grade: B-

4. Indianapolis Colts: (Team Needs: OT, RB, WR, ILB, OLB (3-4), CB, S) – Taking a center in the first round is almost always going to be viewed as a reach but it is an extremely safe pick for the Colts. They also got more offensive line help in the third round with the selection of OT Le’Raven Clark. I had Clark going early in the second round so I view this pick as a steal for Indy. Two of the noteworthy defensive picks were safety T.J. Green and DT Hassan Ridgeway. Both picks address needs but I don’t seem too impressed by those selections. Grade: C

AFC WEST

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Joey Bosa, the best pass rusher in the draft, will help maximize the front 7 in San Diego.

1. San Diego Chargers: (Team Needs: DE (3-4), OG, OT, WR, S, TE) – Despite already having solid starters at outside pass rusher, the Chargers took Joey Bosa at pick number 3 and I really didn’t see that coming. It’s a smart pick by San Diego as they can now maximize their pass rush on the inside and the outside. Bosa is versatile and good enough to make an difference rushing as an outside linebacker or as a inside defensive end in a 3-4 defense. Not sure if TE Hunter Henry was needed in the second round but he’ll be a solid backup to Antonio Gates. Though they did need to replace Ladarius Green. I like the picks of Max Tuerk and Donavon Clark who will address the interior of the offensive line. I think San Diego missed out of opportunities to address the secondary and the receiver position. Grade: B+

2. Oakland Raiders: (Team Needs: OT, WR, RB, DE (3-4), ILB, CB, DT) – There was a lot of buzz surrounding safety Karl Joseph before the draft but he certainly isn’t worth a top 15 pick. I think Joseph will do well in this defense but Oakland definitely reached on that pick. I liked the next two Oakland selections in Jihad Ward and Shilidue Calhoun. Ward is a great fit as a DE in a 3-4 and Calhoun will do well as a rushing outside linebacker. QB Connor Cook is a curious pick but he could push to be the number 2 QB on this team. I like speedy RB Deandre Washington from Texas Tech and OG Vadal Alexander is a heck of a value in the 7th round. Very solid draft by the Raiders. Grade: B

3. Kansas City Chiefs: (Team Needs: WR, S, CB, OLB (3-4), ILB, QB, OG, DT) – Kansas City did okay for a team that traded down a bunch. I like the second round pick of Chris Jones who should be a great fit on Kansas City’s defensive line. OG Parker Ehinger was a smart pick by the Chiefs who are looking for a starter at that position. I don’t think QB Kevin Hogan will be anything in the league but he was one of my favorite QB’s to watch at Stanford. The odds will be stacked against him but he is a great competitor. I like the sixth round pick of CB D.J. White. White has decent size for a CB and made a lot of plays at Georgia Tech. The Chiefs didn’t address many of their needs. I thought they could have taken a pass rushing outside linebacker or someone who plays safety. Grade: C

4. Denver Broncos: (Team Needs: QB, RB, OT, ILB, OG, TE) – I mocked QB Paxton Lynch to Denver and it was a pick that absolutely needed to happen. Lynch is very similar to Brock Osweiler and will have a great chance at winning the starting job in the pre season. RB Devontae Booker is one of the toughest runners in this draft and he’ll have a good chance at making this roster. I’m kind of shocked that Denver didn’t address the offensive tackle position of the inside linebacker position. Grade: C-