Tag Archives: AFC

NFL 2018: Ten Things I’m Sure of Before the 2018 Regular Season

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By: Elias McMillan

10. I’m pretty sure that Jon Gruden will be an utter failure in his second stint as Raiders Head Coach – It’s no mystery why Gruden has been romanticized over for the last couple years. He was a popular personality on ESPN for years and before that he coached successful teams in Oakland and in Tampa Bay. During his time as a media personality, he has painted as this ultimate “X’s and O’s” guy who is also a master at coaching QBs. But there was a reason why he was ran out of Tampa Bay in the first place. All of that yelling, screaming, and funny sound bites can be entertaining but they are not necessarily needed to be a successful NFL coach. It’s starting to look like maybe his past successes maybe had more to do with teams loaded with veteran talent and being in the right situation rather than just his leadership. Now, he will have an uphill battle in the locker room with the trade of Khalil Mack. Gruden was hired again and given a $100 million dollar contract to distract Oaklanders from the fact that their team is leaving them soon. But I’m sure when that time comes, the team may not be as competitive as they once were. It was only a few seasons ago where it looked like the Raiders were looking like they were getting ready to turn the corner. Those draft picks they got for Mack better play well early in their careers.

9. I’m sure the new helmet rule will make things even more chaotic. – The quest to make football “safer” has come to this. Policing lowing your helmet while making a legal tackle creates such a tough job for the officials that seem to be under fire year after year. I’m going to have to assume refs will have to swallow their whistles this year especially in contests were the final may still be in question. Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer has said that this rule could potentially knock teams from contention and cost coaches jobs. The rule will may also affect scoring. Don’t be shocked if penalty yardage and overall scoring to be up this year.

8. I’m sure one of these QB’s will NOT make it to 2019: Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, and Eli Manning. – You can’t play forever. These guys are one blindside hit or one scramble gone wrong away from being on the self for good. Or maybe, one of these guys can have a post-season run that will allow them to have a swan song ending in the Super Bowl.

7. I’m sure that the Dallas Cowboys will NOT make the playoffs but Jason Garrett will remain head coach in 2019. – The Cowboys will not suck enough that will warrant Jason Garrett getting the axe. But really, Jason Garrett isn’t the reason for the Cowboys woes. People act like Jason Garrett was suppose to be the reason for this team being great. Garrett, at the least, is supposed to keep the locker room together and lead from there. The bottom line is that the players need to perform better. They might have a tough time without Dez Bryant in the passing game. Jason Witten and Dan Bailey are also gone. Despite those things, I don’t see Garrett being on the hot seat unless this team really starts to underperform. Plus, I’m afraid of who Jerry Jones would bring in if Garrett is indeed fired.

6. I’m sure that the New York Giants will regret not moving on from Eli Manning. – Eli Manning stunk last season and I have no reason to believe that won’t continue in 2018. When you have the chance to grab a top college QB prospect, you should do it. Ask Cleveland about Carson Wentz. The Giants did work to improve at their skill positions and offensive line in the offseason. But it won’t work unless the QB does.

5. I’m sure that the conversation surrounding Colin Kaepernick will not go away. – The NFL has set a dangerous precedent with how they have treated Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid. While Reid might still have a shot at playing again, Kaepernick’s career is probably over and the list of QB’s that have been signed since his free agency provides enough proof that his absence from a team roster isn’t football related. Though he will not be on a roster, what he stood (knelt) for will have affects on the league for years to come. More and more players will follow his lead and they will not cave in to the fear of having their career taken away from them for making a stand.

4. I’m sure that Aaron Rodgers will be the league MVP if he plays all 16 regular season games. – Rodgers is the top guy in the league at his position. And his team’s success is directly linked to him. Especially this year as Green Bay does not look very strong on paper. If Rodgers is himself and is able to stay healthy, he’ll lift this team to the postseason with his spectacular play.

3. I’m sure that the AFC representative in the Super Bowl this year will be: the Pittsburgh Steelers. – Here’s how I see it:

1) Patriots, 2) Steelers, 3) Texans, 4) Chargers, 5) Jaguars, 6) Titans.

Wild Card Round: Texans over Titans, Chargers over Jaguars

Divisional Round: Chargers over Patriots, Steelers over Texans

Championship Game: Steelers over Chargers

The Steelers have to figure it out this year because it will likely be the final season with Le’Veon Bell. Pittsburgh’s defense might hold them back again this season but you could say the same for New England. For a while, I thought Jacksonville would be able to be back in the championship picture again in 2018 but I’m not buying into their decision to stick with Blake Bortles. Pittsburgh isn’t perfect but all that talent has to amount to something more than just another playoff appearance.

2. I’m sure that the NFC representative in the Super Bowl this year will be: the New Orleans Saints. – Here’s how I see it:

1) Saints, 2) Vikings, 3) Rams, 4) Eagles, 5) Falcons, 6) Packers.

Wild Card Round: Rams over Packers, Falcons over Eagles

Divisional Round Saints over Falcons, Vikings over Rams

Championship Game: Saints over Vikings

I think the two best teams in the conference are in the same division: the Saints and the Falcons. Their matchups in the regular season and eventually the playoffs will provide for some great drama. Atlanta has just as much talent as New Orleans does but it seems like their coaching and decision-making holds them back. Minnesota will be a tough out this season as well but I don’t see the transition into Kirk Cousins running the offense to go as smoothly as some may think.

1. I’m pretty sure that the Super Bowl Champions this season will be: the New Orleans Saints. – Drew Brees gets his swan song moment, hands over the franchise to Teddy Bridgewater, and lifts Lombardi one last time in his rival’s home stadium.

 

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NFL 2018: AFC Season Preview

By: Elias McMillan

In the past, I have really fleshed out these previews for each team. But who has time for that? Here are my protections for the AFC in 2018.

AFC EAST

The Patriots will rule this division again. It is really a shame that the other three teams in the AFC East are so far behind. And New England really isn’t the juggernaut that everyone makes them out to be. Yes, they still have the ageless one, Tom Brady. And he is still able to get the most out of his receivers, especially, all-pro TE Rob Gronkowski. But New England enters this season once again with many of the same weaknesses. The offensive line, especially in pass protection, worries me as well as their lack of a run game. New England did improve defensively up front but their secondary is extremely average at best. Despite this, no one in the division is ready to challenge them. I like what the Jets are building though. They lucked out and drafted possibly the best QB in this past draft in Sam Darnold. Now, they just have to build an offense around him because currently, this team just doesn’t have enough weapons. I really like the young pieces they have on defense like safety Jamal Adams and defensive lineman Leonard Williams. Miami is in rebuild mode defensively as they let go a couple of big names in the offseason. I like the addition of DE Robert Quinn who once put up great sack numbers as a member of the Rams. Miami will benefit from the return of QB Ryan Tannehill. They will feel the loss of WR Jarvis Landry but I think RB Kenyan Drake will be a break out player this season. I like the pairing the backfield of Drake and veteran Frank Gore. It was a great story last season when the Bills made the playoffs. I think they will free fall to the bottom of the division this season. I hated the draft pick QB Josh Allen. They have a lot of question marks on offense outside of RB LeSean McCoy who isn’t getting younger. Buffalo’s defense could be able to keep them in some games in 2018 but the lack of offense will keep them from some wins. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Patriots, 2) Jets, 3) Dolphins, 4) Bills

AFC NORTH

The talent that Pittsburgh has will make them the unquestioned favorite once again this year in the North. The big question will again be if the Ben, Brown, and Bell combo can finally break through and win the conference. That question looms even larger in 2018 as it will probably be Le’Veon Bell’s last season in the Black and Gold. The sad part is that it will probably be the defense again that will hold this team back. Can Pittsburgh consistently pressure the QB? Can they get great LB play without Ryan Shazier in the lineup? Can the secondary not be a continued weakness? Those are all legit questions that will need to be answered this season. The good news (if you’re a Pittsburgh fan) is that traditional rivals, Baltimore and Cincinnati, are not in shape to compete with the Steelers. I still can’t believe the Bengals extended Marvin Lewis after last season. The Bengals are still holding on to a talented roster led by WR A.J. Green but they lack the edge to be real players in the division. You never know what you’re going to get out of QB Andy Dalton. He might be able to lean on RB Joe Mixon this year as many are expecting big things out of him. On defense, DT Geno Atkins looks like the lone bright spot on defense for the Bengals. LB Vontaze Burfict can be a difference maker when he is not suspended or acting like an idiot. Baltimore enters this season in a strange place as it is starting to look like the end of the road for many of their veterans. Joe Flacco, who hasn’t been the same player since winning the Super Bowl, looks like he is being groomed to be replaced eventually by rookie QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco will have a fighting chance to solidify his position this year as the team really put out an effort to add weapons around him in the passing game. I think Baltimore will be stout on defense again this year but they are looking mighty old at some key positions. In terms of youth, they still have a good one in LB C.J. Mosley but I believe time is running out for veterans Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle. There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Cleveland this year but I don’t understand why. I was rooting for Hue Jackson to succeed there but his shortcomings as a head coach are becoming obvious to everyone. I initially hated what Cleveland did in the draft but I’m starting to warm up to Baker Mayfield. The little kid from Oklahoma has an arm and an “it factor”. I still believe they should have taken Saquon Barkley. On paper, I think the Browns definitely won’t go winless this season. They have a pretty decent cast at the skill positions this year including WR Jarvis Landry, WR Josh Gordon, RB Carlos Hyde, and emerging TE David Njoku. There’s plenty of young talent on the defensive side of the ball as well. DE Myles Garrett could be on the verge of having a productive season. The Browns will still be the Browns in 2018 and I wont mistake a few wins as hope for the future. Especially if that future includes Hue Jackson. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Steelers, 2) Bengals, 3) Ravens, 4) Browns

AFC SOUTH

Looking at the AFC South and I think you will see the best roster of teams in the conference from top to bottom. I don’t believe that Jacksonville will be a one-year wonder after their shocking success from a year ago. You can’t fake the talent they have on defense. Though, I think their lack of a passing game will bite them again in 2018. I’m buying into the Houston Texans in 2018 as long as they stay healthy. I think they can be really deadly offensively with QB Deshaun Watson running the show. I think the Texans defense could be really good with the return of J.J. Watt and the continued progression of Jadeveon Clowney. Again, Jacksonville be tough because of that defense they have but their loyalty shown to QB Blake Bortles might hold them back if they can return to the postseason. Tennessee made a surprising run the playoffs last season and I think they can continue to get better. There were times last year that QB Marcus Mariota looked shaky especially in the pocket. But the guy is playmaker, you can’t deny that. I think the addition of RB Dion Lewis will help him. Lewis and RB Derrick Henry should form one of the better backfield duos in the league this year. The Titans also worked to improve their defense through the draft and free agency this past offseason. CB Malcolm Butler will be given a chance to prove himself after a forgetful season last year in New England. In Indianapolis, the Colts will not win many games this year but the season will be all about QB Andrew Luck getting use to live game action after a lengthy break. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Texans, 2) Jaguars, 3) Titans, 4) Colts

AFC WEST

I think we’re going to see a changing of the guard in the AFC West this season. Kansas City has had a good run under Andy Reid but they aren’t getting younger and are beginning a turnover at many key spots on the defensive side. The LA Chargers showed promise last season but it wasn’t enough to make the post season. I think this year’s team will be under a lot of pressure to produce as QB Phillip Rivers could be playing in his last games. I think the Chargers have enough talent to give Rivers one more run in the post season this year. WR Keenan Allen quietly had a productive season last year and the ground game is pretty good led by Melvin Gordon. I’m really excited to see how good their defense can be. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa form a great pass rushing duo. Rookie safety Derwin James could be another young defender who can make plays. There is a lot of hype surrounding the return of head coach Jon Gruden to Oakland but I’m afraid that it is just that: hype. Gruden, a media darling, was always over rated as a coach and is now being used as a ploy to get fans in Oakland to forget that their team is leaving them for Vegas in the near future. Despite the clown show antics from the front office, Oakland returns a decent team in 2018. The David Carr-Amari Cooper connection should continue to lead this offense. Hopefully, DE Khalil Mack can return with no signs of rest after a lengthy contract hold out. Denver will be defined by their defense again in 2018. Von Miller will led a really good front seven this season but the secondary will miss CB Aqib Talib who was traded. The Broncos brought in QB Case Keenum who is coming off a great year in Minnesota. I’m not sure if he can recreate that magic again on a new team but Denver will need him to, as they have nothing behind him at that position. Kansas City has handed over the offense to QB Patrick Mahomes after trading away Alex Smith. Mahomes has impressed in the preseason. WR Tyreek Hill and RB Kareem Hunt will provide him with top-notch options to go to in the air and on the ground. Kansas City has drafted well on defense recently but I think they will miss some of those veterans who did not return this year, especially CB Marcus Peters. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Chargers, 2) Raiders, 3) Broncos, 4) Chiefs

NFL Playoffs: 2018 Conference Championship Sunday Predictions!

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In the AFC, the Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to “steal the show”.

By Elias McMillan

 

Divisional Round: 2-2

Playoffs: 3-5

Conference Championship Sunday

AFC Championship Game

Jacksonville @ New England – The Jacksonville Jaguars are looking like the 2000 Baltimore Ravens right now. The Jaguars went into Pittsburgh last Sunday and punked a Steeler team that may have been over looking them. Jacksonville took it too Pittsburgh and didn’t let up. I was impressed with how QB Blake Bortles ran the offense against a shorthanded Pittsburgh defense. The Steelers scored 42 points and their QB threw for a bunch of yards but don’t buy into those numbers. Jacksonville got off to a 21-0 start and Pittsburgh was just playing catch up for the entire game. I don’t think the stat sheet tells the story of how good the Jaguars defense is. The Jaguars have one more hurdle in their Cinderella Super Bowl run: the New England Patriots. New England survived a sort of slow start against Tennessee last Saturday and was able to put their opponent away in the 2nd half. The Patriots will be hosting yet another AFC Championship game but this one could be a much greater challenge in comparison to past recent years. The Patriots are great again this season for all the same reasons. They have QB Tom Brady. He leads an offense that can score a lot of points when called upon. No one can cover TE Rob Gronkowski. The defense isn’t great but they over achieve at times. And they are lead by a master football mind in Bill Belichick. Despite all of this, like in season’s past, I still feel that the Patriots are very beatable. In terms of this Sunday, Jacksonville matches up well against them. To stop the Patriots offense, you better have a defense that can rattle the QB. Jacksonville has strong play up front. They have excellent LBs. And their secondary is usually good despite giving up all those yards last week. Brady may also be dealing with a bum hand so, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is tough sledding for the New England offense. Bortles played a game last week where he wasn’t going to be the reason why Jacksonville would lose. I’m not sure if the Jaguars offense will be able to be so successful this week. I think they were aided by the absence of LB Ryan Shazier. I said earlier that New England’s defense is suspect but they did defend the run quite well last week and Tennessee was barely able to get into the end zone for the second time until after the game was out of reach. Despite how well the Jacksonville defense may play, they will still need the offense to score points and I don’t think I trust them to perform well enough again in two straight weeks on the road. The brain trust in New England is still strong and I believe the offense will find a way to consistently get down the field. I think Gronkowski and the different RB’s from out the backfield may create some bad matchup for Brady to exploit. New England is the safe pick. No picked Jacksonville last week and I think they have a real chance to shock everyone again. But I’m not brave enough to pick it. Business as usual in the AFC. Prediction: Patriots 30 – Jaguars 22

NFC Championship Game

Minnesota @ Philadelphia – The Eagles did a great job at home last week grinding out a victory against Atlanta. I shouldn’t have been as shocked that the Falcons under performed, again, but I feel they still could have won that game at the end. It came down to Julio Jones miss timing on a jump ball in the end zone. Julio Jones. Not some rookie. Regardless, we have to give Philadelphia’s defense credit for limiting Atlanta’s scoring chances. They will now host the NFC Championship game on Sunday against a Minnesota team that is coming off a miracle victory. As awesome was Minnesota’s triumph was last Sunday, the Vikings have to erase it from their memory and focus up on the task at hand. Both of these teams are very similar. They both offer good defenses, solid running games, and receivers that are capable to creating big plays down the field. Its hard for me to read how good Case Keenum is but he has done a great job at running this offense this season. He could be the difference in this game because honestly, I’m not expecting much form Nick Foles. Foles didn’t make any mistakes last week but he will face a much tougher defense in this game. Minnesota and Philadelphia both have solid defenses but I think I’ll give a slight edge to the Vikings. They are much younger at key positions and I believe that they have a stronger secondary than Philly’s. I think Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen will have their chances to make plays if Keenum is able to stand in the pocket. Playing at home will definitely serve as an advantage for the birds but I think Minnesota has the better team on paper. Honestly, this game is a toss up. I’m not sure how strongly I feel about it but I like Minnesota to end their misery in conference championship games and therefor becoming the first team to advance to the Super Bowl in their host city. Prediction: Vikings 26 – Eagles 20

NFL 2017: Week 17 Predictions! (Condensed)

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

Matt Ryan and the Falcons are looking to clinch a spot in the postseason on Sunday against the Panthers.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 142-96

Week 17 Predictions

Lions over Packers – As Green Bay has already shut down for 2017, Detroit has slim playoff hopes.

Colts over Texans – I’m not giving Houston much of a shot without DeAndre Hopkins. I’m looking for Indy to give head coach Chuck Pagano a good send off.

Bears over Vikings – Minnesota cant catch Philly for home field in the NFC and the NFC South champ is locked in on the third seed. With no motivation for the Viks, Chicago will give a good effort on the road for John Fox? I’m not even sure on that one.

Patriots over Jets – New England’s goal is to wrap up home field in the AFC by half time in order to give the starters some rest.

Washington over Giants – So much turmoil in that Giants locker room. Can they keep it together to give Eli Manning a proper home send off? I doubt it. Kirk Cousins might be auditioning for the Giants in this game.

Eagles over Cowboys – Philly has nothing to play for but luckily for them, the 8-8 Cowboys are back.

Steelers over Browns – I wondering if all the James Harrison talk all week has over shadowed Pittsburgh’s actual opponent this week. Pittsburgh is even seceding the AFC to New England assuming that they will smash the Jets. I find this strange. Strange things could happen here with the Steelers “B team” but I’m not brave enough to pick Cleveland to stop the “perfect season”.

Falcons over Panthers – I think Carolina is the better team but Atlanta has more to play for and they are at home. Carolina has already clinched a playoff spot.

Chiefs over Broncos – Alex Smith won’t play in this meaningless game but Kansas City will still be able to amount more offense than Denver.

Jaguars over Titans – Tennessee embarrassed Jacksonville in their first meeting this season. The Jags are a different team now and I’m sure that they haven’t forgot about that earlier loss. Tennessee has been treading downward for weeks now.

49ers over Rams – The Rams will be resting most of their starters. San Fran looks like they have a future now thanks to acquisition of Jimmy Garoppolo.

Dolphins over Bills – Miami’s defense has responded well at home this season. They gut out a tough one on Sunday keeping Buffalo from the playoffs.

Chargers over Raiders – With the Titans losing, the Chargers will gladly sneak in the playoffs with a win over Oakland. We’ll have both LA teams in the postseason. How weird.

Cardinals over Seahawks – Seattle’s structure is crumbling. Arizona will deliver a crushing blow to their playoff chances on Sunday.

Saints over Buccaneers – New Orleans still has to clinch NFC South with Carolina breathing down their backs.

Ravens over Bengals – This will be a fitting end to the Marvin Lewis era in Cincy.

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)

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

NCAA Football: National Championship-Ohio State vs Oregon

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-

Elias McMillan’s 2016 NFL MOCK Draft!

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 21 Chattanooga at Florida State

Thanks to trades by the Rams and the Eagles, this draft will really begin with the Chargers pick at #3.

By: Elias McMillan

 

This NFL Draft season has been a bit straining on me. Probably because my favorite team is picking in the top five and the stakes are high. At the end of the day, the draft is a crapshoot, which makes this year’s as polarizing as ever. So, here is what I see for the first two rounds in 2016. Thanks to a couple of pre-draft day trades, the first two picks are already taken care of. I’m still not used to saying “Los Angeles Rams” but they are on the clock…..

ROUND ONE

1. Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff, QB, California: The Rams could easily take the best defensive back in the draft with this first overall pick. But you don’t usually trade a boatload of picks to the top of the draft for a safety or cornerback. It is a far-gone conclusion that the Rams will take a QB here with the first overall pick that they gained in a trade with Tennessee. The Rams already have a talented roster and you could argue that they are a QB away from being a contender in the NFC. Bad news is that this draft class isn’t a strong one for QB’s. But with the trade being made, everyone knows that the new Los Angeles is shopping for a new face for this franchise. Jared Goff is probably the most NFL ready QB in this draft. The problem is that it isn’t a home run that he will eventually end up as the best QB in this draft. Goff went to Cal but he doesn’t compare to Aaron Rodgers. I see him more as a less talented Matt Ryan. And Goff wont have the weapons that Ryan has now as least for the beginning of his career. Goff has a pretty accurate arm and is very comfortable as a pocket passer. This draft pick will work out if the offensive line can protect him and if Todd Gurley can have continued success in the run game. But Goff is probably the most NFL-ready QB in this draft.

2. Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State: Even after signing starter Sam Bradford to a new deal and signing one of the top back ups in the league during free agency, Philadelphia felt that they had to trade up to get one of the top two QBs in this draft. I also must point out that this isn’t the draft to trade up for a QB. Before this trade, I didn’t have Wentz drafted in the top 16 selections. Wentz is a talented prospect but I don’t think he is worth a top 5 pick. Wentz comes from a small school but he has a big arm and big play capability. Wentz will be an interesting project going forward in his first couple years in the league. It is because of that “project” label that makes Philadelphia’s move to get him at second overall even more mind blowing. You don’t usually spend a pick that high on someone who may not be ready to start day one especially at the QB position. Good luck.

3. San Diego Chargers – Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State: Originally, I had Ramsey going at number two overall to the Browns. But because of the trade, the San Diego Chargers will rep the benefits. Because of the trades involving the top two spots in this draft, you could say that this draft really begins at pick number three. The Chargers will be thrilled to draft Ramsey and plug him in to the secondary spot left by Eric Weddle. Ramsey is the top defensive player in this draft. I think he is more suited to play safety in this league rather than corner but he is able to do both. Ramsey has a nose for the football and racked up a fair amount of tackles during his time at college. Ramsey prides himself at getting to the ball carrier quickly and making the play. Ramsey may not have gotten many interceptions in college but as a safety, he defends his area quite well. He’ll be a great fit in San Diego’s defense.

4. Dallas Cowboys – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State: I think Joey Bosa is the best pass rusher and the best defensive lineman in this draft. I think San Diego will pass on him because he isn’t a fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker and he isn’t big enough to “just” be an interior lineman. However, Bosa has all of the tools that the Dallas Cowboys will be looking for in a starting defensive end for years to come. Bosa’s game isn’t flashy and his tape doesn’t jump up off the screen. His game is simple. But he is extremely good as what he does and that’s what made him an elite college player in the past two years. Bosa is a technician when rushing the passer and is really good at sheading blockers. His power and strength helps the entire defensive line as he was known to force double teams in college. I think people are caught up on the “safe” label that has been put upon him. Bosa might be the safest pick in the draft but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t a dynamic player. As a 6’6 defensive end in a 4-3, the Cowboys will be able to plug him in day one and see an immediate impact.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida: The Jaguars desperately need a playmaker in the secondary. So in the second year in a row, I have Jacksonville selecting another player from the Florida Gators. Hargreaves has received plenty of high praise during this draft process and many believe him to be a better cover corner than Jalen Ramsey. That’s not a knock on Ramsey but Hargreaves should be much more prepared to play the position in the pros. Hargreaves has the speed and cover skills that defensive coaches will want out of their starting corners. He compares to another Florida Gator, Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns. Unlike Haden, Hargreaves is a bit larger as a player and he is going to have to figure out how to use that as an advantage in the NFL. But I think the Jags will make a slight reach and draft him at 5 unless they trade back. Jacksonville could go with Myles Jack here as well but they’ve already had to deal with injuries involving top prospects last season.

6. Baltimore Ravens – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi: Laremy Tunsil was slated to be the first player picked in this draft by Tennessee before they traded away their 1st overall pick. Instead, Tunsil will take a free fall out of the top five of the draft and right in the lap of the Ravens. Baltimore needs a starting tackle opposite of Eugene Monroe and Tunsil has the skills to start this season on the right side. Tunsil will probably be groomed as the left tackle of the future for this Ravens offensive line. Tunsil is the prototype offensive lineman prospect as he has great size and the athletic ability to use that size effectively.

7. San Francisco 49ers – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame: The 49ers will be looking for offensive line help in this draft if they are smart. They gave up a lot of sacks a season ago and their QB situation is sort of in the air. Regardless of who is behind center, they need to sure up that unit going forward as Joe Staley isn’t getting younger. Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley compares well to Laremy Tunsil and will probably go in the top ten of this year’s draft. Stanley’s a bit larger than Tunsil and as result; he isn’t quite the athlete Tunsil is. But that bigger body will make it tougher for edge rushers to get around and he’ll be load to deal with in run blocking situations.

8. Cleveland Browns – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA: Cleveland’s trade out of the second overall pick was a stroke of genius. If Myles Jack is able to drop down to pick number eight, it would make that move look even better. There are many people that believe that Jack is the top prospect in the entire draft. Jack is a versatile linebacker with top end speed and the ability to deliver huge hits to the ball carrier. Jack is your prototypical pro LB prospect. He has a high football IQ and can stick with defenders in pass coverage. The issue with Jack is his health concerns. There are reports out there that suggest that his knee injury makes him too risky of a pick in the top five where he belongs. There are other reports that suggest that the injuries are behind him and Jack will be ready to play on day one. All of this talk will affect his draft stock negatively, which will help him drop down to Cleveland at pick number eight. The Browns cut veteran LB Karlos Dansby a month ago because they wanted to get younger at that position. Drafting a player like Jack will be the ideal situation for this Browns defense going forward if Jack is indeed ready to play.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson: The Buccaneers need a new, young pass rusher to add another dynamic to an already talented defensive line. Lawson is probably the 2nd best edge rusher in this draft. Unlike Joey Bosa, Lawson isnt quite the technician when it comes to sheading blockers. Lawson’s game is using his superior athleticism and his speed to get the QB as soon as possible. Lawson’s size and speed around the edge will make him an attractive pick for teams needing a defensive end.

10. New York Giants – Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State: The Giants have had problems with finding an answer at LB for years now. Darron Lee will be a target for them at pick number ten because of his athleticism and his skill set, which fits a 4-3 defense. Lee maybe a little too small to play inside linebacker but on the outside he’ll be a great defender behind the line of scrimmage.

11. Chicago Bears – DeForest Buckner, DT, Oregon: Chicago has problems with stopping the run and getting to the QB. DeForest Buckner can help both issues at the defensive line. Buckner is an unique prospect with great size. Playing in a 3-4 defense, which he did at Oregon, will be ideal for him as he excels in one-on-one blocking situations. Also because of his unusual size, he will command attention from blockers on running downs, which will help linebackers find the ball carrier. Buckner is projected to go in the top ten but I think he’s a bit overrated. But his skills as a defensive end in a 3-4 defense will fit well in Chicago’s system.

12. New Orleans Saints – A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama: The Saints desperately need to upgrade their defense in the secondary and at the line of scrimmage. I believe that having better play at the line of scrimmage will affect the secondary positively. So, I have the Saints taking A’Shawn Robinson, a run stuffing defensive tackle out of Alabama. Robinson is a huge load at 312 pounds and can be an anchor for a defensive line in a 3-4 defense. Robinson would provide a great force in the middle for this Saints defense, which would also help the linebackers make plays at a much quicker rate.

13. Miami Dolphins – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State: This would be a dream come true for Miami. Because of the situation at the RB position, Miami might be willing to trade up for Elliott who is the best RB in this draft. But I think Elliott will be available for Miami at pick number 13. Elliott is barely 6 foot but he plays bigger than he is. Elliott is a tough runner with underrated quickness. Miami lost their starting RB to free agency. Elliott would be able to come in and help this offense right away.

14. Oakland Raiders – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State: The Raiders resigned OT Donald Penn in the offseason. This was a surprising move to me because Penn is a aging veteran and he usually looks really, really bad when up against the top pass rushers in the league. Conklin is the next best OT available and he’ll help Oakland get younger on the offensive line while giving David Carr a blind side protector for years to come.

15. Tennessee Titans – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama: Tennessee probably wants an offensive tackle in the first round but because of the string of tackles that just went, they’ll be in a position to just take the best player available. Tennessee’s run defense was underwhelming in 2015. Reed is one of the best run defenders in this draft class. The Titans already have some great players on their defensive line. Reed would be able to fit right in and contribute immediately.

Laquon_Treadwell

Detroit could go from Megatron to Mega-quon.

16. Detroit Lions – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi: With the retirement of Calvin Johnson, the Lions will be thrilled to take the first WR in this years draft. Laquon Treadwell isn’t a speedster at receiver but his physical presence on the field will attract a lot of attention from opposing defenses. Treadwell has the ability to be a dangerous red zone threat because he literally catches anything near him. His big size and athletic ability will make him a prototype number one receiver for this Lions offense.

17. Atlanta Falcons – Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson: It is a recurring theme for the Atlanta Falcons defense: they can’t consistently get to the QB. The Falcons ranked at the bottom of the league in sacks this past season so, in the first round they’ll look to Clemson again for another pass rusher. Last season, it was Vic Beasley. This year, they’ll select his former teammate Kevin Dodd. Dodd has the prototypical size and ability as a defense end that can set the edge.

18. Indianapolis Colts – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State: With all the injuries that starting QB Andrew Luck had to deal with in the 2015, I think the Colts will be focusing on protecting him better this season. That campaign will start on draft night when they select the best offensive tackle available. Taylor Decker is one of the best lineman prospects to come out of Ohio State in a long time.

19. Buffalo Bills – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia: This was kind of news to me but Buffalo is dumping the 4-3 defense for Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense. So, the Bills will need to draft for some players that will fit that scheme. Buffalo doesn’t currently have many pass rushers that will fit in this defense. Georgia’s Leonard Floyd will be an ideal addition for this defense. Floyd is a skinny pass rusher who kinda looks like a wide receiver. It also doesn’t help that he wore the number 84 in college. Also like a WR, Floyd offers tremendous speed as a pass rusher. He might be the quickest to the QB in this entire draft but his skinny size will prevent him from being drafted higher. Floyd is suited to be an outside pass rusher in a 3-4 defense and he’ll be an attractive prospect for Buffalo at this selection.

20. New York Jets – William Jackson III, CB, Houston: The Jets will be tempted to go with a QB at this pick but instead they’ll replace one of their defensive starters. The Jets need a corner opposite of Darrelle Revis. Antonio Cromartie was brought back last season and he really wasn’t that good. I’ve been a fan of Houston’s William Jackson since the Peach Bowl. I was watching that Bowl to see how good Jalen Ramsey was but really, Jackson out played him. Jackson is a great ball defender and is a tough, physical player. Jackson could become a great corner in this league with the right coaching. He will definitely be an upgrade from Cromartie.

21. Washington – Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech: Washington didn’t defend the run very well last season and they’ve lost some players on that defensive line. Vernon Butler is a huge active, big bodied, defensive tackle that will help Washington get better against the run.

22. Houston Texans – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor: Corey Coleman maybe small but he can be a huge playmaker opposite from DeAndre Hopkins. Coleman is a speedster but he is also a tough customer who isnt afraid to catch ball in the middle of the defense. If Houston wants Brock Osweiler to be successful, they are gonna have to find him playmakers to get the ball to.

23. Minnesota Vikings – Josh Doctson, WR, TCU: Minnesota can draft Doctson here and pair him with Stephon Diggs. With Diggs being the guy who can stretch the field, Doctson can be the big possession receiver to complement him. Doctson was such a reliable receiver in college and his skill set would allow him to do the same for Teddy Bridgewater.

24. Cincinnati Bengals – Jonathan Bullard, DT, Florida: I bet the Bengals will be targeting a receiver in the first round but I have Houston and Minnesota drafting away their potential targets. The rotational guys at defensive tackle opposite of Geno Atkins are starting to get up there in age. Jonathan Bullard has a future in this league as an inside disruptor in a 4-3 defense.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor: I feel like every draft season, the Pittsburgh fans pray for secondary help in the first round and they never get it. But hey, they didn’t get it last season and they were still oh so close from the AFC Championship game. This year, everyone has the feeling that the Steelers will be aiming to replace starting nose tackle Steve McLendon. Coach Mike Tomlin and the rest of the staff has made it known how much they like Andrew Billings from Baylor as the new Casey Hampton for this 3-4 defense. Having a top talent at that position is key for this defense so Billings maybe worth it at pick number 25. Billings is a huge force that might be the anchor for this defense for years to come.

26. Seattle Seahawks – Germain Ifedi, OG/OT, Texas A&M: Seattle’s offensive line was much discussed about during last season. Seattle is basically building up that unit from scratch this offseason and they’ll need to further address that area in the first round. Texas A&M has been cranking out impressive offensive line prospects recently and Ifedi could help Russell Wilson as a guard or as a right tackle.

27. Green Bay Packers – Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama: Green Bay needs to find an answer at inside linebacker so Clay Matthews can focus on being a terror as an edge rusher. Reggie Ragland could be just what the doctor order for the middle of this defense. Ragland is a serious run defender who delivers big hits consistently. The Alabama product could be the long-term answer at inside linebacker for the Pack.

28. Kansas City Chiefs – Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State: Kansas City has a decent stable of running backs and they ran the ball well last season even when they lost Jamaal Charles to injury. But the Chiefs lost one of their starting guards in free agency and they need to find a replacement. They wont have to look far as one of the best guard prospects in this draft is within the state.

29. Arizona Cardinals – Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson: Mackensie Alexander proclaimed himself as the best corner in the draft at the combine. His confidence will serve him well in Arizona, as he will be joining a talented group in the secondary. Arizona needs a younger guy to eventually start opposite of Patrick Peterson.

30. Carolina Panthers – Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana: If you watched the Super Bowl, you know that the Panthers need to find a long-term answer at tackle. Spriggs was a apart of a productive offensive line in college and he is talented enough for the Panthers to consider him in the first round.

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Paxton Lynch will remind Broncos fans of the QB that left them in free agency.

31. Denver Broncos – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis: Denver needs to create competition at the QB position going into this season. Mark Sanchez is experienced but he is still Mark Sanchez. Lynch could end up being as good as the two QB projected to go ahead of him in this draft. Lynch actually compares well to the guy he’ll be trying to replace in Denver, Brock Osweiler. Lynch is a tall athletic QB who can move around in the pocket and has an underrated arm. Lynch can throw a pretty decent deep ball but needs to improve his accuracy to have a better shot at making it as a pro. Denver has a decent supporting cast on offense so if Lynch can win the job in camp, he could have a productive rookie season as a Bronco.

ROUND TWO

32. Cleveland Browns – Keanu Neal, S, Florida: The Browns would like a receiver here but they also need to replace two starting safeties. Neal is as physical as they come in the secondary and would have the chance to be a starter sooner than later for the Browns.

33. Tennessee Titans – Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech: After not reaching for offensive line help in the first round, I have the Titans taking an offensive tackle here in the second round. Le’Raven Clark was a all-conference player through out his college career.

34. Dallas Cowboys – Su’a Cravens, OLB/S, Southern California: The Cowboys brought back Rolando McClain to start at linebacker. McClain might have some good football left but he is an injury prone, aging veteran. Dallas would be an injury away from seeing a serious drop off from talent at that position. I think Cravens in a 4-3 defense as a outside linebacker could be what Thomas Davis is for Carolina. Davis was also a “tweener” linebacker prospect who played safety in college. Cravens would work very well as a weak side linebacker in this defense because of his great speed and his experience in pass coverage.

35. San Diego Chargers – Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Mississippi: Nkemdiche should be a top ten pick in this draft but some teams are getting scared off by his recent arrest. If Nkemdiche can stay out of trouble, he will be a steal for the Chargers in the second round. Robert Nkemdiche would flourish as a DE in a 3-4 defense. He has crazy athletic ability for a guy his size and his pass rushing ability will command attention on the line of scrimmage.

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Noah Spence could be the eventual replacement for Terrell Suggs in Baltimore.

36. Baltimore Ravens – Noah Spence, DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky: Baltimore needs to draft an eventual replacement for Terrell Suggs. Spence was a great pass rusher at Ohio State before he got in trouble and had to finish his college career at Eastern Kentucky. That experience will make his draft stock fall a bit but he seems real mature in interviews now and he seems to have learned from his past mistakes. Spence could be an ideal pass rusher for anyone with a 3-4 defense.

37.San Francisco 49ers – Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State: The 49ers haven’t resigned Anquan Boldin yet so they have a big hole at the receiver position. Thomas is probably the best big receiver in this draft. His limited speed will prevent him from getting drafted earlier but his size will make him an ideal target in the redzone. The way he could overpower defensive backs could open up things for the other targets in this 49ers offense. Chip Kelly needs to find someone at receiver because it’s arguably the team’s weakest position.

38. Jacksonville Jaguars – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville: Rankins would be the best player available for Jacksonville at this point of the draft. Rankins could be a great inside pass rusher in Jacksonville’s 4-3 defense.

39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State: Tampa needs defensive back help. They signed veteran Brent Grimes but that isn’t enough. Apple has received first round consideration and would be a steal for the Bucs in the second round.

40. New York Giants – Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: Kendall Fuller will join his other siblings in the NFL this weekend. He has a great NFL bloodline and the Giants would be thrilled to take him in the second round. The Giants had the worst pass defense in the league last season and they already spent big money in the free agency to help the secondary. In the second round, they could find cheaper help in Fuller. Fuller maybe a bit injury prone already but he is an absolute gamer who loves to compete.

41. Chicago Bears – Shilique Calhoun, DE/OLB, Michigan State: Calhoun fits what the Bears need as a pass rusher in their 3-4 defense.

42. Miami Dolphins – Artie Burns, CB, Miami (FL): This would be a dream come true for the Miami native. After dumping Brent Grimes in the offseason, Miami will be looking for a replacement in the draft. Burns has a track background and offers tremendous speed at the corner position. His ability to stick with receivers will make him coveted at this point in the draft.

43. Tennessee Titans – Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia: Tennessee let go Michael Griffin in the offseason and they might be looking for his successor in the draft. Karl Joseph might be criticized because of his size but he is one of the toughest guys in this draft. Joseph will make his living in the league as an enforcer against the run for the Titans defense. Joseph has a knack for getting to the ball carrier in a hurry and making him pay instantly.

44. Oakland Raiders – Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State: If the Raiders are making the transition into a 3-4 defense like I think they are, they will need some players to mix things up in the middle. Austin Johnson was an active big body at Penn State and he’ll make a nice addition in Oakland. Johnson is a pretty good run defender and he’ll do a good job at taking away blockers from the linebackers playing behind him.

45. Tennessee Titans – Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford: With the addition of DeMarco Murray, it would seem that Tennessee will be making a real effort at becoming a run heavy football team on offense this season. Stanford’s Joshua Garnett comes from a long tradition of good offensive lineman from that university. He’ll help this offensive line to become a force for this Tennessee offense.

46. Detroit Lions – Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State: Ogbah had a tremendous final season at Oklahoma State. The reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year offers size and speed off the edge that will make him very attractive to team in need of a traditional defensive end. I’m a bit worried about his athleticism and he seems to play a bit too stiff at times. But he was too good of a player for Detroit to pass him up in the second round.

47. New Orleans Saints – Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame: Will Fuller was the fastest receiver at the combine and that will help his draft stock. Fuller will have the ability to stretch the field as a pro but his hands are very inconsistent. He is a body catcher who reminds me of Terrance Williams of the Cowboys. The Saints will be looking for a receiver to pair with Brandin Cooks and Fuller could be that player.

48. Indianapolis Colts – Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State: The Colts are in need of a safety. Vonn Bell offers physicality and underrated cover skills.

49. Buffalo Bills – Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State: The Bills found out last year that Tyrod Taylor was a decent player but he may not be good enough to take this offense over the top. Connor Cook is a traditional drop back QB but Michigan State passers has had a decent run in the league recently. Cook may be worth it for Buffalo in the second round to create competition and to make sure that E.J. Manuel never touches the field again.

50. Atlanta Falcons – Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas: I feel like I’ve mocked a TE to Atlanta ever since Tony Gonzalez retired. It probably wont happen again this draft but here I am again. Mocking the best TE in the draft to Atlanta. Very predictable.\

51. New York Jets – Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri: The Jets need to get younger at inside linebacker next to David Harris. Brothers is one of the best athletes in the draft and he excels at defending the run.

52. Houston Texans – Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama: Houston lost their starting center in free agency to a division rival. Kelly is the top center in the draft and he’ll provide stability for the Texans offensive line for years to come.

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Derrick Henry is a literal monster playing running back.

53. Washington – Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama: Washington didn’t run the ball well last season and they didn’t bring back Alfred Morris. Washington might have a guy ready to start this season but drafting Henry here would add a different element to the Washington ground attack. Matt Jones could be the fast home run hitter in this rushing attack while the Heisman winner, Henry, could be the tough running red zone threat. Henry is an absolute freak of nature at RB. His size and athleticism will make him the second coming of LeGarrette Blount but maybe even better.

54. Minnesota Vikings – Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA: Minnesota could use an upgrade at defensive tackle next to Sharrif Floyd. Clark is just as large as Floyd and would help Minnesota improve their run defense, which ranked in the middle of the road in the league.

55. Cincinnati Bengals – Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh: Cincinnati skipped on taking a receiver in the first round so I have them taking a flyer on the Pitt product in the second round. Tyler Boyd gets knocked for not having elite speed but the guy is an absolute playmaker and would fill the void left by the Bengals receivers that left the team via free agency. I think Boyd has the talent to eventually be the number two receiver behind A.J. Green in this offense.

56. Seattle Seahawks – Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State: The Seahawks lost some important pieces on their defensive front in the off season. They need to start the rebuilding process and they could start with this player out of Mississippi State. Chris Jones is a tall defensive tackle but his athleticism will allow him to flourish as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Jones is big enough to help stuff the run and is quick enough to get after the QB on passing downs.

57. Green Bay Packers – Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Texas: This might be a reach but the Packers need bodies on the defensive line to help replace B.J. Raji.

58. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jeremy Cash, S, Duke: Jeremy Cash was a stand out player at Ohio State before transferring to Duke. Duke used to be an awful football school but they’ve been a bit better than awful recently. Cash is apart of the reason why. The rangy safety plays a physical brand of football and he is able to make plays in the box and behind the line of scrimmage as a run defender. Cash would be an eventual upgrade to Shamarko Thomas in the secondary.

59. Kansas City Chiefs – Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State: The Chiefs lost some defensive linemen in free agency and they need to find replacements. Washington’s size and speed would fit him in perfectly as an end in Kansas City’s 3-4 defense.

60. New England Patriots – Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn: The Patriots offensive line was exposed in the playoffs against Denver. They may need to look for a new starter for the future. Shon Coleman’s story is amazing and he’ll probably be the only New England Patriot you will root for this year. Coleman is a cancer survivor who was able to beat the disease and become one of the top offensive line prospects in this draft.

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Not sure if Carl Nassib can replace Chandler Jones’ production in New England but he did lead the nation in sacks last season.

61. New England Patriots – Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State: New England signed Chris Long in the off-season as someone who could replace Chandler Jones who was traded. Long’s best days are behind him and the Patriots need a young pass rusher. Nassib is tall at 6’7 and has a crazy long wingspan. He lead the nation in sacks last fall and he could be a target for a defense that really depends on having a top notch pass rush.

62. Carolina Panthers – Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU: The Panthers brought back Charles Johnson but he is getting a bit long in the tooth. Bronson Kaufusi is a athletic pass rusher with great speed out on the edge. He would be a rotational guy and maybe an eventual starter at DE for the Panthers. Plus, his name is Bronson and his nickname could be after one of my favorite rappers currently, “Action Bronson”.

63. Denver Broncos – Christian Westerman, OG, Arizona State: Denver signed its starting guard late into the offseason last year and it paid off. Evan Mathis wasn’t brought back so its time for Denver to draft his replacement and the starting guard of the future. Westerman is an all conference player who is one of the strongest players in the draft.