Tag Archives: Anthony Barr

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

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NFL 2016: Week 4 Predictions!

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Will the return of Le’Veon Bell lift the Steelers offense on Sunday night?

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

Season: 29-19

Big Five Games of the Week

Buffalo @ New England – The Bills looked really bad in Week 2. So last week against a much better Arizona team, they were able to pull out all the stops and score a big home victory. Buffalo will look to ride that momentum into New England on Sunday as they take on the Patriots. New England can do no wrong currently. Despite all of the personnel losses on both sides of the ball, they are 3-0. You have to be impressed to see their defense playing at the level that it is right now. But that defense really hasn’t been pressed by a good offense this season. Buffalo may not be a complete offense right now but they can do one thing very well: run the football. I think Buffalo will be successful in the run game on Sunday rather if it’s LeSean McCoy doing the damage or QB Tyrod Taylor. The starting QB for New England this week remains a mystery. Buffalo has plenty of defensive woes right now but no coach knows Bill Belichick’s offense better than Rex Ryan. I think the Ryan brothers are going to have a good game plan this week against a Patriots offense that can really only run the ball successfully. New England will be looking forward to the return of Tom Brady next week. This week, they will be shocked and upset at home to the underdog Bills. Prediction: Bills 32 – Patriots 21

Seattle @ New York Jets – Russell Wilson suffered a knee injury last week but he is planning to play through it. I think this will prove to be a bad decision going up against the Jets on the road this week. Wilson already is dealing with shaky offensive line play and his week, that line will face a powerful, disruptive Jets front four on defense. The Jets took their lumps last week on the road but this week they will be the ones handing out the lumps. Everyone was no hard on Ryan Fitzpatrick last week. And maybe for good reason. It’s never good to throw SIX interceptions in one game. But on the other hand, Kansas City’s defense is really good. Fitzpatrick will face another good defense this week in the Seahawks. I think Fitz will be helped out this week by his defense. The Jets will play ball control football with the defense getting stops and the offense taking advantage of the extra opportunities to score. New York will be without Eric Decker and that might hurt them in the passing game. But Seattle has a rep of being a weaker team on the road. I’m taking the Jets in an upset. Prediction: Jets 21 – Seahawks 20

Oakland @ Baltimore – The Ravens are the 3-0 team that no one is talking about. Probably because they haven’t beaten anyone of significance. But beating teams that you are suppose to beat will go a long ways in terms to getting into the post season. Baltimore just has to keep on trucking along until they face a great challenge. And then, we will see how good they really are. I also haven’t seen them play a lot this season so far. I know that it helps that Joe Flacco is back. Their running game is a mystery to me. Baltimore is getting decent play out of their receivers. And their defense is currently ranked 2nd in the league. The Raiders gutted out a tough victory last week on the road but they’ll have a harder time this week in Baltimore. Derek Carr and the Raiders offense will be a great test for Baltimore’s defense. Oakland’s defense played its best game last week but that unit has mostly been a disappointment in this season. There is a great chance that Flacco will have his best performance of the season this Sunday if he is able to stay away from the Raiders pass rush. Prediction: Ravens 26 – Raiders 17

Kansas City @ Pittsburgh – What happened to Pittsburgh last week, no one saw coming. Giving up 34 points to a rookie QB? Sure, I could see that. But only putting up 3 points on offense? I didn’t know that the Eagles defense was that good. Maybe they are not. Maybe the Steelers just had an off day offensively. But if Philadelphia’s defense was able to play that well, what will happen this Sunday night in Pittsburgh when the Chiefs come to town? As we saw last week, Kansas City’s defense is really good and they will force turnovers. They are tough to run on and they have a good secondary. Ben Roethlisberger is coming off of two straight weeks of lackluster performances. I know he will bounce back as he always does but it will be hard for him this week against the Chiefs defense. I think the return of Le’Veon Bell for the Steelers will greatly affect Pittsburgh’s chances on Sunday. Kansas City has a tough defensive line but Bell can be used it so many different ways on offense. It will be hard for the Chiefs to key on Bell and DeAngelo Williams. Pittsburgh’s defense takes a lot of heat but this week, I believe that match up well against Kansas City’s offense. Jamaal Charles might be making his season debut on Sunday night but Pittsburgh still has a highly ranked run defense. QB Alex Smith will be asked to do more that usual in this matchup but that may not be a bad thing for the Chiefs. I’ve said before that Smith is underrated and he’ll have a chance to look much better than what he really is against the Steelers secondary. Pittsburgh will be looking for the chance to rebound after a bad performance last week and they will really want this one at home. It will be close but I’m taking the home team. Le’Veon Bell will make the big play late in this game to clinch a victory for the home team. Prediction: Steelers 25 – Chiefs 23

New York Giants @ Minnesota – I love what Minnesota is doing right now. They lose their starting QB, RB and left tackle but they are still winning ball games. How? Look at their defense. Sacking the QB, creating pressure, causing turnovers. And they are doing it with talent that they drafted. Other teams in the league need to look at Minnesota as an example. Having a decent defense can overcome shortcomings on offense. Plus, you have to bring in high priced free agents to improve defensively. Minnesota drafted top talent on defense and it is starting to pay off. The Giants have been disappointing so far this season. Their defense is improved but the offense is struggling to put up the numbers that everyone thought they would. I think that offense will continue its struggles on the road in Minnesota this Monday night. The way Eli Manning threw that game away late last week was kind of embarrassing. Manning is going to have another tough go at it this week against the Vikings defense. I think the Giants defense will be able to keep New York in the game but they wont win it for them. It will be up to Eli Manning to solve the Vikings defense late in the game in front of a raucous Minnesota crowd. I like the home team. Prediction: Vikings 29 – Giants 24

The Rest of Week 4

Bengals over Dolphins – Miami tried their best to lose to Cleveland at home last week. They are having a tough go at it. Cincinnati better take care of business in this one.

Colts over Jaguars – I feel sorry for anyone who is planning to get up early to watch this one being played in London. Jacksonville was supposed to be everyone’s sleeper team. What happened?

Panthers over Falcons – Good news for Cam Newton: he won’t be facing the Minnesota defense this week. This will be a good game but Carolina’s defense will be the difference.

Lions over Bears – Chicago is sad. But at least their fans can troll Detroit fans about the MLB Playoffs?

Washington over Browns – Terrelle Pryor will have another strong performance but Cleveland will still lose. Expect that to be the theme in Cleveland for the rest of the season. If I were a Browns fan, I would be watching Louisville/Clemson very closely on Saturday night.

Texans over Titans – J.J. Watt is out for the season but Houston will rally and beat a tough Tennessee team at home.

Broncos over Buccaneers – Trevor Siemien is playing better each week. So much for a Super Bowl hangover. Denver is looking really good right now.

Cardinals over Rams – Arizona will be ready to rebound from a disastrous trip to Buffalo. If the Rams keep winning, we can make fun of their move to LA anymore. That’s no fun. C’mon Arizona!

Chargers over Saints – Drew Brees said that he was looking forward to playing his old team. Phillip Rivers will be looking forward to playing against the Saints defense.

49ers over Cowboys – Here’s an upset. San Francisco will give Dallas the tough game that Chicago didn’t give them last week. San Fran isn’t really good but the Cowboys defense will make Blaine Gabbert look much better than he really is.

Week 4 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Joe Flacco (Ravens) – The Raiders give up the most yards in the air on defense. Flacco will air it out at home this week.

RB: Todd Gurley (Rams) – Arizona couldn’t stop the run last week. LA will use Gurley to their advantage this week.

WR: Marvin Jones (Lions) – Jones is turning into the breaking out player in the Lions offense so far this season.

TE: Dennis Pitta (Ravens) – Pitta is catching a lot of passes so far this season but he has yet to score a TD. Expect that to change this week.

DEF: New York Jets – I like the Jets defense this week against a banged up Russell Wilson.

 

NFL 2016: NFC North Preview

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The Vikings have a shiny new stadium and great expectations in 2016.

By: Elias McMillan

NFC NorthWritten August 30, 2016 (Before Bridgewater injury)

Minnesota Vikings – Last season, the Vikings had a small taste of success. This season, the Vikings are opening up a new stadium and they are hoping to have bigger moments in their new home this season. I think one of the reasons for Minnesota’s success a season ago is that they are one of the league’s youngest teams. They have a lot of young talent but the veteran leadership they have at key positions is valuable as well. QB Teddy Bridgewater is coming off his best season as a pro and I think this year, we’ll see him do little bit more with his passing. Everyone is aware of Bridgewater’s athletic ability outside the pocket but he doesn’t really take many chances down the field. I think we will see this change in 2016. Last season, they found out that their fifth round pick, Stefon Diggs, actually has a future in this offense as Bridgewater’s number one target as a WR. Diggs is a good player and I liked him a lot coming out of Maryland but I think this year’s first round pick will really emerge as a down the field target for Bridgewater. Rookie WR Laquon Treadwell looks the part as a prototypical “#1” receiver and his ability will allow the Vikings passing offense to stretch the field in 2016. As always, the backbone of this offense will be RB Adrian Peterson and the running. Peterson is showing no signs of slowing down as he seems to get better year after year. Minnesota also beefed up their offensive line in the offseason so I feel even better about their ability to run the ball and protecting their future star QB. Looking at the defensive front four on paper and you’ll see a group that underperformed in 2015. DE Everson Griffin seems to be the lone standout as the team’s best pass rusher. Bottom line is that the Vikings need to do better at stopping the run this season. Minnesota has one of the better LB groups in the league with Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, and veteran Chad Greenway. I really like Minnesota’s secondary as well. CB Terrance Newman continues to have a career renaissance in this secondary but the Vikings have plenty of younger guys that can play too. More responsibility will be put on CB’s Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes this season. At safety, they get great play out of Harrison Smith and they brought over veteran Michael Griffin who will be trying to prove that he has more left in the tank after a mainly success career as a Titan. I don’t know if this team is ready to become one of the best teams in the conference but I think head coach Mike Zimmer will have this team ready to repeat as division champions. If Teddy Bridgewater improves like many thinks he will, Minnesota will definitely be a tough out in the post season. Prediction: 11-5

Green Bay Packers – The Packers weren’t as sharp as usually in 2015. And there was plenty of blame to go around. Mainly, there were health problems and the defense struggled mightily. I think this team is too dependent of their star QB, Aaron Rodgers. It’s either that or Rodgers just wasn’t that good last season. Either way, optimism is high in Packer land going into 2016. The offense is healthy and ready to go after a tough 2015. Aaron Rodgers is expected to be his regular self this season and it will really help that WR Jordy Nelson is back after missing last season. Many people believed that the Packers passing offense would be ok without Nelson but that wasn’t the case. WR. Devante Adams and even Randall Cobb underperformed last season. But with Nelson back in the fold, maybe the Packers passing attack can be as overwhelming as before. Green Bay also hopes to be a better running team in 2016. RB Eddie Lacy worked extremely hard in the offseason to drop weight and we’ll see soon if that will pay off this season. Green Bay also brought back James Starks who will continue to be a valuable third down option as a receiver coming out from the backfield. On defense, the Packers will be looking to improve a defensive line that ranked near the bottom in the league at defending the run. First round pick Kenny Clark will hopefully help with the youth movement up front defensively. Green Bay will return both of their star pass rushers, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. Inside at LB, the Packers are very young and don’t have much depth at the position either. Green Bay’s secondary is decent, as they will return all of their starters from a season ago. CB’s Sam Shields and Damarious Randall do a good job and HaHa Clinton-Dix is one of the better, young safeties in the league. I think this Packers team will be relying on the offense more again this season but I think Rodgers and the passing attack will be up to task on improving from a season ago. Prediction: 10-6 (Wildcard)

Detroit Lions – The Lions had a disastrous start to their season last year but they finished off very strong and they’ll hope to bring over some of that momentum in 2016. Their offseason was headlined by the shocking retirement of WR Calvin Johnson but I actually think that the Lions will be better off after moving on from that situation. I’m not saying that the Lions are going to be able to replace him easily but I think the team will be better as whole as group that is fully motivated on being its best. QB Matt Stafford was probably pleased to see that the Lions spent multiple draft picks on their offensive line. Better play up front will put Stafford and the running game in much better situations. I expect Detroit to have a really good running duo this season with Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. If those two guys can stay healthy for the season, they’ll help take some of the pressure off the QB. I really like Stafford’s receiving core going into this season. WR Golden Tate proved last season that he can be a number one option in the passing game. Detroit also brought over Marvin Jones from Cincinnati who has plenty of ability. But I really liked the signing of WR Anquan Boldin. Boldin is an absolute gamer and he’ll fill the veteran role in the WR room left by the retirement of Johnson. During Detroit’s run near the end of last season, their defense really began to improve. Upfront, they have a beastly pass rusher in DE Ziggy Ansah and DT Haloti Ngata was brought back to prove that he is still one of the best run stoppers in the league. At LB, the Lions are very thin on depth but DeAndre Levy is one of the best tacklers in the league. I’m not sure how good the Lions’ secondary can be as they were pretty average a season ago. Darius Slay is the lone standout from the group of corners on this team. Safety Glover Quin will continue to be a veteran leader in the secondary. He is coming off his second Pro-Bowl season. The Lions have plenty of holes on defense but they are an overachieving group that will compete in every ball game. I think the Lions are a sleeper team in 2016. I don’t have them making the playoffs but they may make a push at the end of the season. Prediction: 9-7

Chicago Bears – The Bears didn’t really improve during the offseason and they’ll have plenty of question marks going into 2016. Last season, I think QB Jay Cutler earned my respect. I say this because he had every excuse to mail it in but you could tell that Cutler really made the most of his time on the field. Cutler has a great connection with WR Alshon Jeffery and he will hope to build the same relationship with WR Kevin White. White was the team’s first round pick a season ago but he missed his entire rookie season due to injury. If White can be the player that he was at West Virginia, he’ll form a great 1-2 punch in the passing game with Jeffery. TE Zach Miller had a very successful 2015 and he’ll enter this season as the starter at the position. The Bears will greatly miss Matt Forte at starting RB but they have been grooming Jeremy Langford for that position. Langford has showed promise last season and he’ll receiver plenty of more opportunities in 2016. The Bears have seen better days defensively but they are on the road to getting better. Chicago has struggled for years at stopping the run and they will need some of the young guys they drafted to step up this season. Outside at the pass rushing positions, they have veterans Lamarr Houston and Willie Young but look out for first round pick Leonard Floyd. Floyd looks like a wideout playing defensive end but his great speed will be a positive factor for this defense eventually. At inside LB, they brought in Danny Trevathan who is coming off a pretty success campaign with the Super Bowl champion Broncos. LB Jerrell Freeman racked up a lot of tackles last season for the Colts and he’ll help form a great tackling duo inside with Trevathan. The LB core on this defense will definitely be a strength this season. In the secondary, the Bears have two decent corners in the veteran Tracy Porter and the younger Kyle Fuller. The Bears will be relying on some unknowns at safety this season so, I view that position as a question mark going into 2016. Prediction: 6-10

Elias McMillan’s 2014 NFL MOCK Draft! (TWO ROUNDS!)

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South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney is the best player in this years draft and it probably isn’t even close.

By: Elias McMillan

I thought that the build up and the wait for last years draft was long. Man, was I wrong. Well, it is finally the week of the draft which probably means that you’re tired of looking at Mock Draft after Mock Draft after Mock Draft. But finally, here’s a Mock Draft that isn’t like the others. Because I did this one myself. And for the first time, I decided to do NOT one but TWO rounds! So, here it is. The best Mock Draft and the last Mock Draft you should read before Thursday night!

ROUND ONE

1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: The first pick overall in this draft should be a “no-brainer” for the Texans. Houston does have other needs but when you have the top pick in the draft, you’re probably better off taking the best player in the draft. Not only is Clowney the best player in this draft, but he can also fill some of the needs on this Texans defense. Clowney is a pure edge rusher with wide receiver speed but he is also big enough and athletic enough to play multiple positions on the defensive line. All the questions about Clowney’s work effort and drive just seem pointless to me. This guy was the 1st overall pick in this draft since he declared for South Carolina in high school. You don’t pass on a prospect like that. Teaming this kid with J.J. Watt will strike fear in AFC South QB’s for years to come.

2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: St. Louis has been long rumored to take an offensive lineman with this 2nd overall pick. But in a turn of events, I have them taking the OT out of Texas A&M and not the OT out of Auburn. Matthews has NFL bloodlines and is probably the most “game ready” OT in this draft. Matthews was apart of a great offensive line in college protecting one of the best QBs in the game. Plus, Rams HC Jeff Fisher coached Matthews’ dad in the league for years. This pick will help QB Sam Bradford to stay off his back next season.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Here’s a bit of a shocker. The Jaguars are looking to upgrade the QB position and create competition with veteran Chad Henne. They can do that with this pick and fill the stadium back up. Manziel is a special player with a body of work that has been able to stand up against top competition in college. Manziel has great instincts and can make all of the throws that a NFL QB can. The way he improvises outside of the pocket cant be coached and will provide some of the most exciting plays you would see. Manziel might have to adjust his play some in the pros but once he becomes comfortable, he could develop into one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in football. With Manziel, Jacksonville would be getting an extra-motivated player who will get to face Houston (the team that passed on him) twice a year. The bad part is that if Jacksonville does take him, he will be on a team with very little offensive weapons around him.

4. Cleveland Browns – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: I’m betting that Cleveland is wishing for Manziel to drop to them at pick #4. If not, I don’t see them just taking the next best QB available. If they take the best player available, it will probably be the speedy, playmaking receiver out of Clemson. Pairing a guy like Watkins with another playmaker like Josh Gordon would really free up the offense and create a lot of opportunities. Watkins would provide a great complement to Gordon and would be a boost for the special teams as a return man. Cleveland does have a great need at QB but they might be able to address that with their other 1st round pick.

5. Oakland Raiders – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: The hardest thing about these mock drafts is predicting what the Oakland Raiders are gonna do. I didn’t have Greg Robinson going as the top OT because he is young and could take some time to develop. But he is the most physically gifted offensive lineman in the draft and the Raiders would take him immediately at #5. Robinson is a raw prospect but once he is coached up, he would become a staple on the Raiders offensive line for years to come. He is this draft’s Tyron Smith.

6. Atlanta Falcons – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: The Falcons ranked among the bottom in the entire league in sacks. They need to upgrade that pass rush to improve the defense so picking this small school prospect might be a perfect fit. Mack is sort of a risky pick in this draft. He was a great player in college as a edge rusher and he certainly looks the part. But he is a mid major product who didn’t play against top competition in college. Mack is a guy who could become the next Von Miller or the next Aaron Curry. It is a gamble that the Falcons would be able to take given their need for a young pass rusher on defense.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: Mike Evans is the third A&M Aggie I have coming off the board in the top ten. Tampa traded away one of their top receivers recently so they definitely have a need at the position. Evans was largely impressive last year in college as a huge target with great speed. Evans is a rare receiving prospect that is long enough to win in jump ball situations and still has the ability to run away from defenders. Evans could develop into a Plaxico Burress type of player in the league.

8. Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: I’ve gone back and forth with this selection. I think Minnesota is definitely gonna go with a QB here because it has been a position that has held this team back for the last couple seasons. I have no idea why the stock in Teddy Bridgewater has gone down since his college career ended. You would think that one of his arms fell off since January by the way these analysts talk about him now. But I think, Bridgewater is the most “battle-tested” QB in the draft. The kid just seems to rise his game in the face of adversity. He is a proven passer and great athlete outside of the pocket. Bridgewater is probably the most “pro-ready” of the QBs in this draft but his draft stock took a major hit because of a bad pro day? Please. I hope that Minnesota doesn’t fall into the hype of the pro days actually meaning more than his actual college career.

9. Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: The Bills ranked in the bottom five in the league in sacks given up so their offensive line is in need of a upgrade. Michigan’s Taylor Lewan is the next best OT available and would be a great fit for the Bills. Lewan is a huge athlete with a mean steak and would provide some great blocking at right tackle. If Buffalo is looking to protect their investment in last years 1st round pick, EJ Manuel, then Lewan would be the pick at #9.

10. Detroit Lions – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: The Lions have one of the best defensive lines in football. Last season, the league learned that having great play at defensive line doesn’t always mean that you have a great pass rush. The Lions have the ability to stuff the run but they struggle at getting pressure to the QB. Anthony Barr has become one of my favorite prospects in this draft. He has pure pass rushing ability on the same level as a Clowney or Mack. Barr is quite like Detroit’s 1st rounder from last year, Ziggy Ansah. Like Ansah, Barr is rather new to playing as a pass rusher and he does need to be coached up before becoming a true impact player. Ansah showed flashes of development last year and I think the Detroit coaching staff wouldn’t have a problem getting Barr to where he needs to be. Barr might be a bit of a project but he offers a huge upside for a defense that needs to create more pressure.

11. Tennessee Titans – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: The Titans lost their best CB in free agency over the summer. Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard is coming off an impressive college career and would be an immediate impact player in the secondary. Dennard offers decent cover skills in man and zone situations. He doesn’t have top end speed but Dennard is a physical player that isnt afraid of offering support in defending the run. He’s a sure tackle and shows great fundamentals when making plays.

12. New York Giants – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: Eli Manning is looking forward to having a bounce back year in 2014. In order to do that, he might need a big playmaker opposite of Victor Cruz. Having one that can go across of the middle of defenses wouldn’t hurt either. Ebron would be just what the doctor ordered for this Giants offense. I don’t see Ebron as an Antonio Gates type TE but he is the best TE in the draft. He isnt quite the athlete that Gates is but he is a big body that has WR type speed. I don’t think Ebron has as sure hands as a Tony Gonzalez but his long arms and big frame give him the ability to make catches even when the ball is off target. Ebron to the Giants would make a lot of sense.

13. St. Louis Rams – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville: The Rams have one of the best up and coming defenses in the league. What they are missing is a true difference maker in the secondary. Calvin Pryor is the best safety in the draft and he would be an instant starter for Jeff Fisher. Pryor has a great nose for the football and he just flies around the field from sideline to sideline making plays. I don’t think his cover skills are on the level as an Earl Thomas but he is an active centerfielder that rarely gets beat. What he doesn’t have in size he makes up for in speed and instincts. He could end up as the next Brian Dawkins or the next Reggie Nelson.

14. Chicago Bears – Haha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama: The Bears are looking to get younger on defense. They’ve addressed their defensive line in the free agency more than their secondary so I think they’ll address that with pick #14. Haha Clinton-Dix is not only the best name in the draft but he is also a pretty good player in the secondary. Clinton-Dix is a lot more athletic than Calvin Pryor and shows similar speed when coming down in run support. Unlike Pryor, Clinton-Dix struggles in coverage sometimes especially in one-on-one situations. But he is a great open field tackler and he usually makes big plays around the football. There’s no way that the Bears are planning on starting Ryan Mundy at safety so I expect them to explore that position with this pick.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: I believe that the greatest need on the Steelers defense is at defensive line. But I don’t think there is anyone good enough at that position to take at #15. Pittsburgh could improve their secondary by finally taking a CB in the 1st round. Justin Gilbert is the best athlete at CB in this draft. He offers top end speed and superb cover skills. The knock on Gilbert is that he is a bit of a softy and he isnt great at giving run support. Gilbert is gonna have to be coached up to become more of a physical player but he already has the natural gifts of having speed and being able to stay with receivers. Gilbert would fit right in with the Pittsburgh defense as a possible replacement for Ike Taylor.

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Pittsburgh

The Giants, Bears, & Cowboys will be targeting Pitt’s Aaron Donald for their 4-3 defenses.

16. Dallas Cowboys – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: Aaron Donald had a more than impressive final season at Pitt. Then, he topped that off by blowing people away at the combine. A lot of the experts don’t have Donald making it all the way down to pick #16 but if he does, Dallas will rush to the podium to make that pick. Donald is a great player but he might not be the best fit for some teams that pick before Dallas. Donald has great disruptive ability but he is a bit undersized and probably would be suited in a 3-4 defense. Playing in a 4-3 defense would mean more one-on-one assignments that Donald strives against. Donald would be a perfect fit for Rod Marinelli’s defense as a pass rusher that can provide a great push in the middle of the line of scrimmage.

17. Baltimore Ravens – Zach Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame: Baltimore’s two biggest offensive stars, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice, had down years in 2013. And after losing Michael Oher in free agency, the Ravens might be in the market for some offensive line help. Zach Martin is a quality player who can play multiple positions on the offensive line.

18. New York Jets – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: I have the Jets getting a true playmaker at pick #18. Cooks won the award for best college receiver last season all while breaking numerous Oregon State and Pac-12 records. Cooks is a former track star with blazing speed. Throughout his college career, he has proven to being pretty sure handed receiver. The Jets will jump at the opportunity to take this kid as they are desperate for a star at the receiver position. Cooks will be able to help special teams as a returner but he should be able to develop into a true #1 receiver in this league, much like DeSean Jackson.

19. Miami Dolphins – Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama: This might be a bit of a reach but the Dolphins had serious offensive line issues last season. They need immediate starters at Tackle and Guard. Kouandjio does come with some injury concerns but he was a heck of a player for a major program in college. Kouandjio offers great athleticism for his size and he should be able to play left or right tackle for Miami. Either way, Ryan Tannehill will be happy to have him on his offensive line. The Dolphins offensive line allowed the most sacks in 2013, by the way.

20. Arizona Cardinals – C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama: C.J. Mosley is one of favorite prospects in this draft. Mosley is a top ten talent in this draft but he does have some injury concerns. Mosley is a play making LB with great speed and even greater instincts. Mosley’s natural ability will command him plenty of playing time as a rookie. Arizona might have a need at ILB because Carlos Dansby left for Cleveland and Daryl Washington might be facing suspension due to legal troubles. Mosley would be a great pick here for Arizona because he’ll probably be the best player available in this part of the 1st round.

21. Green Bay Packers – Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois: The Packers would be in a scramble at #21 with the Cardinals take CJ Mosley. So with the best LB off the board, I see the Packers reaching a bit for the best safety available. Jimmie Ward might be a reach at #21 but he compares very well to the other two top safeties in this draft. The Packers secondary was very poor last season especially in the middle of the field. Ward is a smaller player but he can fly around to the football with great speed. Ward might actually be a better player in coverage than Pryor and Clinton-Dix. Ward has a nose for the football and turnovers usually happen when he is around. Ward doesn’t have the typical NFL size you would want for his position but he’ll play “big” in the Packers secondary.

22. Philadelphia Eagles – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: If the Eagles are looking to replace DeSean Jackson, they should trade up or hope Brandin Cooks drops to them at #22. If not, they can take the next best receiver in LSU’s Beckham Jr. Beckham doesn’t have the top end speed that Chip Kelly would be looking for in a WR but he probably has the best hands in the draft. Beckham is a consistent pass catcher who could develop into a “go-to” guy for QB Nick Foles. Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin are NOT #1 receivers. Beckham could come into Philly and play right away.

23. Kansas City Chiefs – Ra’shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota: Kansas City has taken a defensive lineman in the 1st round 3 times in the last 7 years. Last season, the Chiefs were rolling through the AFC until late in the season where age and injuries caught up with them. By taking the defensive lineman out of Minnesota, the Chiefs will be getting younger and would be adding some much needed depth that unit. Hageman might not be the best fit for a 3-4 defense but he is a huge body with long arms and he might be able to use that to take up many blockers. Hageman big frame and quickness at the line of scrimmage makes him a decent pass rusher as well.

24. Cincinnati Bengals – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri: The Bengals have a need at defensive end with Michael Johnson leaving for Tampa in free agency. Kony Ealy is not only a great player but he’s a confident one as he has already proclaimed himself to be the best DE in this draft. Ealy may not be as athletic as Clowney but he does have a great talent for getting to the QB. There’s a reason why his college teammate, Michael Sam, won SEC defensive POY honors last year. Ealy’s pass rushing ability causes many QB’s to roll out opposite to where he is lined up. Ealy has that rare ability to impact plays without even sacking the QB. He would be a perfect fit for the Bengals defense that needs to get younger on the defensive line.

25. San Diego Chargers – Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame: San Diego already has two decent ends on that 3-4 defensive line. Louis Nix would provide depth and he might even start immediately for them at the nose tackle position. Nix is huge but he is really active and will definitely demand a double team from offensive lines. Inside LBs, Donald Butler & Manti Te’o, would reap the benefits of a solid defensive line in that 3-4 defense.

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Central Florida’s Blake Bortles is a huge question mark in my eyes.

26. Cleveland Browns – Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida: This is another pick that I when back and forth with. Simply put, I don’t like Blake Bortles as much as a lot of other “experts”. Bortles comes off to me as a “favor of the month” type prospect that has really benefited from the draft “process”. Most of these analysts didn’t even know this guy until near the end of last college football season. Bortles is a tall, strong-armed QB that can really throw the deep ball. Bortles also shows a bit of athleticism, which has all of these scouts drooling for some reason. I guess the thinking is that since Bortles is a big kid that can move a little, he is gonna develop into a Roethlisberger or Cam Newton type of QB. What these experts are NOT saying is that for every Roethlisberger and Newton, there are 3 or 4 JaMarcus Russell’s, Christian Ponder’s, & Josh Freeman’s. But I digress. Bortles could develop into a fine NFL QB but I think he will take more time to develop compared to Manziel and Bridgewater. I think Bortles could go as high as #8 to Minnesota because his big body might be ideal for some of those cold weather NFC North match ups. If Bortles goes where I think he should go, he might be in the green room for a while on Thursday night. If he drops into the teens and the Browns are worried about getting a QB in the 1st round, they might wanna to trade up for him because there might be multiple teams bidding for him (Houston).

27. New Orleans Saints – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: The Saints have done a great job at remaking their secondary this offseason. Getting Kyle Fuller at #27 would move than complete that process. Fuller is a fiery competitor that made a lot of plays in the secondary throughout his college career. Fuller would greatly benefit from playing with a guy like Champ Bailey. Fuller is quick enough and physical enough to fit in as the team’s nickel corner. Fuller is probably the best tackling CB in the draft outside of Darqueze Dennard.

28. Carolina Panthers – Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia: I know. I know. Everyone in Charlotte would be crying for a WR with the Panthers first round pick but the team has other pressing needs. Carolina had a starting offensive tackle retire this offseason so there is currently a gaping a hole in Cam Newton’s protection. Did I mention that Newton is coming off of ankle surgery? The Panthers need to protect their investment with this draft pick of Morgan Moses. Moses offers great long arms and quickness that will help him as a run blocker. But mainly, they are gonna need Moses to be coached up and to protect Newton at all costs.

29. New England Patriots – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State: Jernigan would be a true steal for the Patriots if he lasts this long on day one. Jernigan is one of the top defensive line prospects in this draft. The knock of him is that he is kinda young and he might take awhile to develop. But Jernigan is a huge kid with a high motor. He specializes in stopping the run and because of that, he could be a great fit in New England’s 4-3 defense. Jernigan would really benefit from playing behind veteran Vince Wilfork as well.

30. San Francisco 49ers – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State: The 49ers need better play from their corners in 2014. Bradley Roby is a top prospect in this draft and he probably deserves to go higher than #30. Roby is an athletic freak with top end speed. Playing in the Big Ten, Roby has a physical temperament and can really lower the boom in run support. Roby is the type of guy that plays with reckless abandonment and because of that, he’ll fit in nicely on this 49ers defense.

31. Denver Broncos – Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State: Shazier is the 2nd Buckeye I have coming off the board late in the 1st round. Shazier would be a perfect fit for the LB needy Broncos. Denver lost a couple from that position in the offseason and Shazier could provide an immediate starter in this defense. Shazier has excellent speed from sideline to sideline and has a knack of getting away from blockers. Shazier could stand to get bigger but he isn’t a “tweener” type of LB. Shazier’s skill set is perfect for a 4-3 defense looking for a weak side LB.

32. Seattle Seahawks – Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame: Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt is an interesting prospect because he is athletic enough to play DE in a 4-3 defense and he is big enough to play DE in a 3-4 defense. Tuitt is an amazing player to watch because he is 300+ pounds but still has outstanding pass rushing abilities. If drafted by Seattle, Tuitt would add more depth to an already awesome defensive line. If Tuitt is unable to make the transition to a 4-3 DE, he would make a fine pass rusher inside as a DT. Seattle could use Tuitt at multiple positions in a 4-3 and that would make him attractive for Seattle at the end of the 1st round.

ROUND TWO

Georgia vs Auburn

Auburn’s Tre Mason will be a 2nd Round target for many teams.

33. Houston Texans – Tre Mason, RB, Auburn: To start off round 2, the Texans will take the first RB off the board. You might have expected a QB to be taken here but I believe that the Texans have a greater need behind starting RB Adrian Foster who has been injury riddled recently. Also consider that Foster’s back up, Ben Tate, will be starting in Cleveland this fall. Mason is a little speedy guy who can carry the load as a second option in the backfield. Mason is tough for his size and could be a valuable third down option for whoever starts QB for Houston.

34. Washington Redskins – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU: And to think that Washington could of had the second overall pick. Anyways, Verrett would be a great addition to the Redskins secondary. Verrett has tons of experience at defending the pass in the pass-happy Big-12. He has excellent speed and decent enough cover skills to go in the 1st round. Verrett might serve as a possible replacement for DeAngelo Hall who really should be out of the league anyway.

35. Cleveland Browns – Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State: Carlos Hyde would be the sentimental pick for the Browns. Hyde was a very productive back at Ohio State who gotten better from year to year. Hyde is a big physical runner who averaged over 7 yards a carry last year. Hyde could provide some very valuable goal line carries for this new look Browns offense.

36. Oakland Raiders – Marqise Lee, WR, USC: Getting the hometown kid would go over well in Raider Nation. Lee has been highly recognized as one of college’s top receivers for the last couple years. He has gone through some injury problems but when healthy Lee would provide a quality target for Matt Schaub. Lee has great speed and he often does well in one-on-one situations.

37. Atlanta Falcons – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington: This might be a reach even for the 2nd round but the Falcons need a replacement for Tony Gonzalez. I like Seferian-Jenkins for Atlanta because he may not be the best athlete but his size will make him an attractive target for Matt Ryan. Seferian-Jenkins has the ability to win in jump ball situations and could develop into a great receiving threat in the red zone.

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee: Tampa needs a tackle to replace Donald Penn who left for Oakland. Penn’s play really started to decline last year so they probably needed to replace him anyway. Richardson would play right away for Tampa protecting Mike Glennon.

39. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU: I’m not sure if I’m buying into Toby Gerhart as a starting RB in this league. Jeremy Hill is a reliable back who provided some big moments at LSU. If the Jags do draft Manziel like I have them doing, they are gonna need a running game by committee to help Manziel shoulder the load on offense. Hill would be perfect for that.

40. Minnesota Vikings – Dee Ford, DE, Auburn: Dee Ford blew away a lot of the scouts during the Senior Bowl. Some might have him as a first round prospect but Minnesota would be happy to grab him here. The Vikings might be looking for a Jared Allen replacement in the draft and Dee Ford could provide that. Ford specializes at getting to the QB and will help bring along the youth movement to the Vikings defensive line.

41. Buffalo Bills – Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State: The Bills lost a starting safety in free agency. Bucannon isnt exactly a ball hawk but he is a great physical open field tackler in the mold of a Dashon Goldson.

42. Tennessee Titans – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: The writing is on the wall for Titans QB Jake Locker. New head coach Ken Whisenhunt might want to develop his own QB and that guy might be Derek Carr. Carr wasn’t really impressive against top notch competition but he does have a big arm and he threw for a bunch of yards in college. Tennessee could bring him in to either push or replace Locker.

43. New York Giants – Dominique Easley, DT, Florida: Easley was an active, big body at the line of scrimmage for Florida. He does have some injury concerns but he would be able to fit in as a pass rusher in the middle of the Giants defensive line.

44. St. Louis Rams – Keith McGill, CB, Utah: The NFL is a copycat league so big physical corners might be in high demand in this draft. The Rams might be looking to build their own “Legion of Boom” with this draft pick. McGill is a big physical corner that offers great speed outside.

45. Detroit Lions – JaWuan James, OT, Tennessee: How about some more protection for Matt Stafford? The Lions didn’t give up many sacks last year but they are still in need for a tackle as they lost a starter in free agency.

46. Pittsburgh Steelers – DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State: I feel like no one is talking about the holes currently on the Steelers defensive line. They have a great need there and this instate product might be able to help them. Jones is a big body with great hands and long arms. Jones would fit well in a 3-4 defense.

47. Dallas Cowboys – Xavier Su’a Filo, OG, UCLA: I very much doubt that Su’a Filo will last this long in the draft. He’s probably is the best guard in the draft and there would be no way that Dallas would pass on him in the 2nd round. Dallas does have a need at guard and Su’a Filo would help solidify the offensive line for years.

48. Baltimore Ravens – Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford: Baltimore gets even more offensive line help. They could play Zach Martin at guard and then plug in this guy from Stanford as Flacco’s new right tackle.

49. New York Jets – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech: QBs Geno Smith and Michael Vick both love using tight ends. Amaro doesn’t play as big as he really is but he is a great route runner and even a better receiver as a TE. The Jets have a big need at the position and he would immediately pay off in this offense.

50. Miami Dolphins – Stanley Jean Baptiste, CB, Nebraska: Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes aren’t young anymore. Jean Baptiste would provide depth and quality play as a nickel CB.

51. Chicago Bears – Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State: The Bears are another team with old CBs.

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QB Jimmy Garoppolo comes from a small school but could have a high NFL ceiling.

52. Arizona Cardinals – Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois: Carson Palmer might still have football left in him but the Cardinals need to start grooming his successor. Garoppolo is a great small school product who makes tons of great plays from outside the pocket. He needs to become more polished inside the pocket but that might come with time behind Palmer.

53. Green Bay Packers – Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State: Aaron Rodgers gets another playmaker to replace James Jones. Robinson has decent speed and long arms that helps him in jump ball situations. Robinson is also really good after the catch and that makes him a fit for Green Bay’s offense.

54. Philadelphia Eagles – Marcus Robinson, CB, Florida: Starting CB Cary Williams was a free agent dud for the Eagles last season. They might be looking to replace him.

55. Cincinnati Bengals – Christian Jones, OLB, Florida State: The James Harrison experiment didn’t really work out. Christian Jones is a dynamic LB prospect that would be suited in a 4-3 defense.

56. San Francisco 49ers – Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt: Once I found out that Matthews is related to Jerry Rice, this pick began to make a lot of sense. The 49ers are looking to get younger at WR and Matthews is player with raising stock in this draft.

57. San Diego Chargers – Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State: San Diego ran the ball well last season. And with signing Donald Brown, the Chargers are looking forward to having an even better ground game. Getting more offensive line help will definitely help San Diego to continue to build upon the running game.

58. New Orleans Saints – Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Brigham Young: The Saints defense did pretty well last season despite all of their injuries. With this pick, the Saints could provide depth and improve their outside pass rush. Van Noy is a tall, pass rushing athlete in the mold of a Jason Taylor.

59. Indianapolis Colts – Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State: The Colts lost a starting safety in free agency. Brooks is a “in the box” physical safety to could start on day one.

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Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin could provide Cam Newton with a huge target.

60. Carolina Panthers – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State: Here is the moment that Panther fans have been waiting for. Carolina gets a big play receiver for Cam Newton in the second round. Benjamin doesn’t have a lot of speed but he is a huge target that could become an immediate red zone threat.

61. San Francisco 49ers – Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU: San Francisco’s great defensive line might be getting a little old. Taking this young LSU defensive tackle might help down the line.

62. New England Patriots – Joel Bitonio, OG, Nevada: The Patriots might be looking for offensive line help after a disappointing season from Dan Connolly.

63. Denver Broncos – Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State: The Broncos need a starting Center and this in state product is the best Center in the draft.

64. Seattle Seahawks – Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice: The Seahawks lost Brandon Browner in free agency and Byron Maxwell is easily the weak link in the “Legion of Boom”. Seattle might be looking for depth and an upgrade in the secondary.