Tag Archives: Cameron Jordan

NFL Playoffs: 2018 Divisional Round Predictions!

USATSI_10508519

Philadelphia will have to ride their top ranked defense if they hope to advance pass Atlanta.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Wild-Card Round: 1-3

Playoffs: 1-3

Divisional Round

Atlanta @ Philadelphia – I guess I should be embarrassed for taking the Rams last week. The Falcons showed their experience and pretty much shut down L.A. on the road. Now, come a big test in the number one seeded Eagles. It is a big test for Atlanta because they are the favorites and now everyone is expecting to see the Atlanta team from last post season. I think Atlanta is different from a season ago but chances are they will probably get to their second straight NFC Championship game on Saturday. Atlanta brings to the table an offense with a ton of potential in the passing or running game. Philadelphia has been able to lean on its defense this season so that will be a key matchup in this game. I feel confident that the Eagles defense will do everything in their power to try to win this game for the home team. The Falcons have a pair of good RB’s but Philly is strong against the run. The Eagles are vulnerable in the secondary and it should be interesting to see if Matt Ryan can figure out a way to make Julio Jones a big factor in the game. I think this game will turn on the Eagles lack of offense. I have no reason to have confidence in QB Nick Foles. Especially when Atlanta’s defense is playing well. The Eagles were one of the top running teams on offense in the league this season but Atlanta did a really good job limiting Todd Gurley a week ago. I don’t think they will let Jay Ajayi or LeGarrette Blount get off too many big gains. I think Atlanta will be able to ride their defense and just get enough out of their offense to advance to next week while ending Philadelphia’s season. Prediction: Falcons 21 – Eagles 16

Tennessee @ New England – The Titans were a nice surprise last weekend as they came back from a 21-3 hole to win in Kansas City. They will have to get it done on the road again this week against top seeded New England. I think Tennessee stands a better chance in this game than most people are giving them. Really, I do. New England is New England. But they can be knocked off their game. They are beatable. I don’t have much faith in the Titans defense though. Shutting out Alex Smith for one half is one thing compared to going up against Tom Brady. New England has so many weapons and so many ways to attack. Tennessee will have problems with the Patriots balanced attack. Tennessee is really physical up front on defense so I want to see if they can defend the run well again this week while putting heat on Brady. I big part of last week was that Travis Kelce was knocked out of the game. The Titans will have to account for another dominant, pass catching TE in Rob Gronkowski. I think New England will have an advantage their. The main reason why New England is beatable is because of their defense. Marcus Mariota had a strong second half last week in Kansas City but he has been wildly inconsistent this season. Mariota has Derrick Henry to lean on and Tennessee has a pretty good record with him as the main option in the run game. Outside of Henry and TE Delaine Walker, Tennessee really doesn’t have a lot of reliable players at the skill positions for Mariota to go to. Tennessee may have a “fighter’s chance” but New England should be able handle business at home. I can see Brady having his way with the Titans secondary and Mariota will over extend himself trying to keep up. Prediction: Patriots 38 – Titans 23

Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh – Jacksonville’s win over Buffalo last week sure wasn’t pretty but it was definitely better than losing. The Jaguars will take their strong defense to Pittsburgh on Sunday to face a Steelers team they defeated earlier this season. Week 5 was a long, long time ago but I think Jacksonville can take a lot from what happened in that game and maybe find themselves with a chance to score a big upset on Sunday. There is a lot of talk about the Jaguars having to deal with playing in the cold weather on the road. But playoff football usually comes down to two things: defense and the run game. And Jacksonville has both. The Jaguars have studs on the defensive line that can stuff the run and pressure the QB. They have a talented group of linebackers. And their secondary is close to what Seattle had a few years ago, led by standout Jalen Ramsey. All that being said, Pittsburgh has a really good offense. We all know what Ben Roethlisberger is capable of in January. I do have questions about how WR Antonio Brown will look, as he will be returning after dealing with a lower leg injury. Even if Brown is rusty, Pittsburgh’s WR core is solid. RB Le’Veon Bell is one of the best at his position in the game but Jacksonville did such a great job against him earlier this season. I think this will be a game where the Steelers offense cannot abandon the run. Bell can lead this offense when called upon. I know that the Steelers are not a run first offense anymore but Bell need at least more than 25 touches. For the Jaguars, their offense is a point of weakness but they can at least run the ball. RB Leonard Fournette is ready for another heavy workload. He had a strong performance in Pittsburgh in Week 5 and this time around, he’ll be facing the same defense without its starting middle LB. I believe Pittsburgh could be vulnerable defending the run in this game but unfortunately Jacksonville can’t run it every play. Eventually QB Blake Bortles will have to try to look like a NFL QB in this game. I don’t think Bortles is the worst starter in the league but the Pittsburgh secondary will have to be really off their game for him to be able to do anything substantial. Much like in 2007, I think the Jaguars have the tools to upset the Steelers on Sunday but I’m not brave enough to pick it. It will be tough sledding for the Pittsburgh offense but they’ll find a way to outscore a Jaguars team that may have problems on their own scoring points on the road. Prediction: Steelers 23 – Jaguars 13

New Orleans @ Minnesota – New Orleans clearly outclassed Carolina at home last week. They didn’t add any “cool” points with the way they finished but they at least got the job done. I believe they will face a tall task this week in Minnesota. The Vikings are very tough at home and the Saints should remember that. Minnesota opened this season beating the Saints at home. New Orleans will be looking to reverse that result on Sunday. I like Minnesota in this game because of their defense. I think Drew Brees will not have the passing windows that he had last week against Carolina. Minnesota does a great job at limiting the run with their front seven. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram found it hard to find space last week and I think that will continue in Minnesota. The Saints also bring into this game a good defense. New Orleans has a legit secondary this year and they are coming off a game where the pass rush made a big impact. But I think the Vikings offense will be able to excel by just playing at their own pace while not trying to do too much. QB Case Keenum will use the running game to keep Brees on the bench but he will also take his shots down field as he has a top-notch group of receivers. I think Brees has an edge over Keenum but Minnesota’s defense has an edge over on New Orleans’. Prediction: Vikings 29 – Saints 21

Advertisements

NFL 2016: Week 2 Predictions!

9536556-a-j-green-darrelle-revis-nfl-cincinnati-bengals-new-york-jets-850x560

After a successful visit in New York, A.J. Green will take his show to Pittsburgh this Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

Season: 9-7

Big Five Games of the Week

New Orleans @ New York Giants – This match up will feature two big time, scoring offenses and very little defense. The Giants offense did enough to win last week but they sort of underperformed and they know that they could have done better. I think the Giants offense will have more opportunities to produce big plays against a struggling Saints defense at home. The Saints lost a close one at home last week but their offense performed well. The Giants defense did a great job bottling up the Cowboys running game and keeping them out of the end zone on long drives. I think the Giants benefited from facing a rookie QB in his first professional start. Drew Brees will present a much greater challenge for them this Sunday. I think both passing games will light up the stat sheet but I am much more encouraged by New York’s defense than New Orleans’ right now. I’m taking the home team. Prediction: Giants 37 – Saints 28

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh – The Bengals really impressed me how they gutted out a road victory to start to the season. Now, they will face rival Pittsburgh in their home opener in a much anticipated game. This matchup will lose some of its steam without Vontaze Burfict and Le’Veon Bell but there will still be enough hatred to go around between these two rivals. Pittsburgh did pretty much what I expected them to do last week on Monday night. The Steelers look really good and they are one of the favorites in their conference. The offense is performing at a high level and the defense is over achieving. Pretty much the same story from a season ago though we have only played one game this season. I think Andy Dalton will fare better than Kirk Cousins did last week against the Steelers defense. WR A.J. Green had a monster game to start the season last week and he usually does a great job terrorizing the Pittsburgh secondary. The Bengals will do their best at controlling the clock in this game in order to limit Pittsburgh’s chances on offense. The Bengals may have a slightly above average defense but I don’t see them completely slowing down Pittsburgh offensively. Ben Roethlisberger will find Antonio Brown for some of the game’s biggest plays and DeAngelo Williams will continue his career renaissance. I think Cincy will be able to keep it close but I don’t see the Bengals offense out producing Pittsburgh’s on the road. Prediction: Steelers 29 – Bengals 23

Kansas City @ Houston – The Chiefs completed a crazy comeback last week at home. This week, they’ll go to Houston to take on the team that they easily beat in the playoffs a season ago. The Texans are retooled from a season ago and they’ll be looking to prove something at home this week. QB Brock Osweiler had a shaky start last week but he eventually got it together. I’m looking forward to the matchup between WR DeAndre Hopkins and Chiefs corner Marcus Peters. RB Lamar Miller had a successful debut for Houston last week and he’ll be facing a Chiefs run defense that was leaky at times in Week 1. Kansas City’s offense got it going just in time to force overtime and get the win last week. RB Jamaal Charles might have to miss another week due to injury but the Chiefs feel pretty confident about running the ball with their backups. Houston’s defense did a great job in the second half last week against Chicago and they could be able to carry that over in this matchup against Alex Smith. Houston will feel great about their offseason acquisitions after wrapping this one up at home. Prediction: Texans 26 – Chiefs 20

Atlanta @ Oakland – The Falcons looked like they would be able to go blow for blow against Tampa Bay at home in Week 1 but then, their defense completely fell apart. Atlanta’s defense continues to be an issue going into Week 2. Oakland is coming off a great emotional high last week after beating the Saints on a gusty, late 4th quarter call. The Raiders still have to figure out some things in the defensive secondary but their offense looked pretty good. QB David Carr played great down the stretch and he received great support from the running game. I think the Raiders will have their hands full in this matchup on defense. They will struggle to slow down WR Julio Jones and the other Falcons receivers. Atlanta will also try to get RB’s Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman to continue the success they had in Week 1. Oakland’s front seven looked very active last week and they will get after Matt Ryan in this game. Atlanta will have to use the running game to try to limit the pass rush’s affect on Ryan. But I don’t see Atlanta’s defense improving from a week ago. They need to find some consistency at pressuring the QB and making open field tackles. I think the Raiders will take advantage, the offense will make plays, and they’ll win in their home opener. Prediction: Raiders 24 – Falcons 21

Green Bay @ Minnesota – The Packers offense looked like its old self last week in Jacksonville. Aaron Rodgers played great and his receivers also brought their “A” game. Green Bay’s defense made the stop at the end of the game when it mattered but they were probably bailed out by some questionable play calling by the other team. The Packers will face a better opponent this week, as the Vikings will be making their debut in a brand new home stadium in primetime. US Bank Stadium will be loud and this Vikings team will be juiced up for this one. Minnesota was lucky to survive last week at Tennessee. The offense really struggled but their defense did a tremendous job bailing them out in the second half. Green Bay will have to know going into this one that they will be facing a much tougher defense this week. It’s going to be interesting to see if Aaron Rodgers will be able to look as spectacular as he did last week in Jacksonville. I think the Minnesota offense will fare better this week against Green Bay’s defense. Adrian Peterson had a tough day the office in Week 1 and he’ll be looking rebound in front a great crowd in the home opener. I’m getting the feeling that Sam Bradford will make his Vikings debut this week as well. That doesn’t sound very exciting but Bradford should be able to succeed in ways that Shaun Hill cannot. If Bradford can get the air attack going, that is going to open the door for more success in the running game. Green Bay will pack the box to prepare for Peterson so, I think Bradford will have the chances to find the passing windows. I think Green Bay will take a step back in this game, as Minnesota will be able to do enough offensively to win a close contest. Prediction: Vikings 30 – Packers 24

The Rest of Week 2

Jets over Bills – Buffalo beat New York twice last season so, the Jets will be out for revenge tonight. The Bills will be shorthanded offensively without Sammy Watkins. The Jets defensive line will fest tonight as Tyrod Taylor will struggle to get things going.

Ravens over Browns – Baltimore was so unbelievably under whelming last week in their victory. Cleveland really disappointed me as well in their loss. I don’t know. Both of these teams stink right now. Baltimore should be ashamed if they manage to lose this one.

Lions over Titans – I like Detroit’s defense to slow down Tennessee’s running attack. The Titans secondary will not have an answer for Matt Stafford.

Patriots over Dolphins – No Brady. No Gronk. No Problem. On the road against my Super Bowl favorite as well! Is Bill Belichick the greatest? Probably.

Washington over Cowboys – Washington looked really bad last week. Maybe Dallas has a better chance in this one than I think. I need to see it before I believe it. Kirk Cousins needs to rebound after his performance last week in primetime.

Panthers over 49ers – Cam Newton said this week that he doesn’t care about his health but only about winning. That’s kinda scary. Carolina should be able to handle San Fran at home either way.

Seahawks over Rams – The Rams have played Seattle tough in recent years but their morale has to be so low right now. Seattle should be able to roll in this one easily.

Cardinals over Buccaneers – This one should be close. Arizona’s secondary needs to improve in a hurry because Jameis Winston will air it out often as we saw last week. Expect plenty of scoring in this one.

Broncos over Colts – The Trevor Siemian hype is not real. However, Denver’s defense is very real. Andrew Luck will struggle to score late in this game and that will give Denver the home victory.

Jaguars over Chargers – Here’s an upset. After losing a heartbreaking one last week, San Diego will repeat that feat at home against a hungry Jacksonville team.

Eagles over Bears – Carson Wentz played much better than I expected last week even though it was just Cleveland. Chicago’s offense should be able to make this one interesting though.

Week 2 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Drew Brees (Saints) – Brees will be able to test the Giants secondary in ways that Dak Prescott couldn’t in Week 1.

RB: Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys) – The rookie had a tough go of it last week. He could be able to rebound against Washington’s defense.

WR: A.J. Green (Bengals) – Green has a knack for getting the best out of Pittsburgh. After his Week 1 performance, he’ll look to keep his success going on the road.

TE: Julius Thomas (Jaguars) – Thomas played well last week and San Diego has a weak secondary. Blake Bortles should be able to find him in the end zone again this week.

DEF: New York Jets – The Jets racked up a bunch of sacks last week and they’ll be facing a wounded Buffalo offense tonight. They’ll get after Tyrod Taylor and bottle up the Bills rushing attack.

NFL 2016: NFC South Preview

WireAP_b4905bb755fa4cd6a80019639733cb80_16x9_1600

Can Cam Newton and the Panthers rebound after falling short in the biggest game last season?

By: Elias McMillan

 

NFC South

Carolina Panthers – The Panthers seemly care out of out where last season and had a year that one could predict. The talk surrounding this team a season was that they had a great defense and Cam Newton but really nothing much else. But then, we learned that Cam Newton was good enough to overcome what many saw as the shortcoming on this team. This is why Newton won MVP and why the Panthers was the last undefeated team in the league last season. This upcoming season, Carolina is going to try to do even better because they did end up losing the ultimate prize in the Super Bowl. Carolina did get better in the offseason but not by that much. I think they missed some opportunities in the draft and free agency. Maybe they are counting on Cam Newton to have another monster season with his passing and running ability. If that is so, that isn’t much of a stretch. Newton will receive a boost in the passing game this season as his number one receiver, Kelvin Benjamin returns after missing last season entirely. Benjamin will bring legitimacy to this receiving core that over achieved a season ago. Ted Ginn, Corey Brown and Devin Funchess have plenty of ability and that group from last season must have a lot of confidence coming off the season they just had. Two areas that the Panthers failed at getting better at in the offseason was at RB and at the offensive line. RB Jonathan Stewart returns for another season but he is starting to get up there in age and is already coming off from an injury. Carolina’s offensive line really let Newton down in the Super Bowl but that same group returns again in 2016. I feel that Carolina could have done more on offense to lighten Newton’s load in the offseason but they didn’t. Carolina’s defense will continue to be beastly in 2016 though. Carolina’s has a great collection of defensive lineman and they added to that group with the first round selection of DT Vernon Butler. Butler would be smart to follow the lead of disruptors Kawaan Short and Star Lotulelei. DE Charles Johnson is a veteran leader on this defensive line but he kind of ran out of gas near the end of the season last year. On the other side of him, DE Kony Ealy, seems to be a raising star in this defense. At LB, Shaq Thompson, Thomas Davis, and Luke Kuechly. I mean, you wont find a better starting group at LB in the NFL. Carolina surprisingly let go star CB Josh Norman but his loss wont be that great because Carolina’s front seven on defense is that good. Either way, young rookies James Bradberry and Zack Sanchez better grow up quickly. Carolina’s defense so good last season, safeties Kurt Coleman and Tre Boston ended up making big plays from time to time. I like Carolina to win this division again but I don’t know if this team can get back to the Super Bowl. I wish they would have gotten younger at RB and improved the offensive line. Either way, Cam Newton will be spectacular again. Prediction: 12-4 (NFC South Champs)

Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons started last season so hot but then they quickly ran out of gas. The strange thing was that, the losing streak they went on fell upon the offense that couldn’t score enough. Atlanta’s latest rep as team is one that has the ability to score a lot of points but they will struggle stopping the other team from scoring. I think Atlanta’s defense did improve a bit last season but then the offense was inconsistent. In 2016, head coach Dan Quinn will be hoping for more consistency from both sides of the ball. You could argue that QB Matt Ryan had one of his worst seasons statistically in 2015. You could point the finger at his offense line or at injuries in the WR core but the bottom line is that Ryan needs to play better. Atlanta actually improved the WR core in the offseason. Star WR Julio Jones is back again and Atlanta brought in Mohamed Sanu to replace the aging Roddy White. I feel that Ryan is still missing a big target at the TE position but look for rookie Austin Hooper to fill that role soon. The big addition to this offensive attack last season was the emergence of RB Devonta Freeman. Freeman was among the top in the league in rushing for most of last season before getting slowed by injuries. If RB Tevin Coleman can do a good job at spelling Freeman this season, he will be able to last and lead this running attack for all 16 games. Everyone knows about Atlanta’s lack of a pass rush up front on defense. But to Atlanta’s credit, they are trying different ways to improve in that area. They have a mix of younger guys like Vic Beasley and Ra’Shade Hageman and veterans like Adrian Clayborn and Dwight Freeney. I also like the offseason signing of Courtney Upshaw who can be a situation pass rusher in this defense. There are definitely a lot of new faces in this defensive front seven so maybe that will turn into different results. Atlanta’s secondary is a “middle of the road” unit. CB Desmond Trufant is a standout and they also recently brought over safety Dashon Goldson who racked up a bunch of tackles with Washington last season. I think Atlanta will use last season as a history lesson and maybe they wont fall apart during the second part of the season. Atlanta isn’t close to competing with Carolina yet. They’ll be good but not good enough to get back to the playoffs. Prediction: 8-8

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – As much as I hate this team’s current uniforms, I really hated that this front office felt that they had to fire head coach Lovie Smith. I understand they did it in order to keep their offensive coordinator who did a great job with future franchise QB Jameis Winston. But now, I feel like this team doesn’t have any leadership from a coaching standpoint. Either way, you still have to play the game and I think Tampa will be a tough team in 2016. Jameis Winston learned a lot in his rookie season. He carries himself as the leader on this team and that confidence he has is infectious. Winston will still make some mistakes from time to time but I feel that he is determined to become the future for this franchise. Winston also has a pretty good supporting cast again this season. Tampa is really strong at the WR position. Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson can do similar things on the football field. They are both big receivers that can stretch the field. I also like WR Adam Humphries in the slot. Winston needs a reliable target at TE and this season we’ll find out if Austin Seferian-Jenkins can be that guy. A big part of Tampa Bay’s offense last season was the running game that ranked in the top 5 in the NFL. RB Doug Martin proved his worth to the Bucs in 2015 and they decided to retain him in the offseason. Martin is a beastly runner who is hard to tackle but Tampa also has decent backs behind him on the depth chart in Charles Sims and Mike James. Tampa quietly had a decent defense in 2015 and they could get even better this season. Upfront, Gerald McCoy is the leader of the defensive line and is a handful to deal with at defensive tackle. Tampa’s starters at DE are starting to age so look out for second round pick Noah Spence to eventually earn a starting position. Tampa will have a solid LB group starting in 2016. Kwon Alexander had an outstanding rookie season and he’ll be looking for even more success this season. Surrounding Alexander will be two seasoned vets in Lavonte David and Daryl Smith. The Bucs will also be deep this season at the CB position. They brought over CB Brent Grimes from Miami to pair him with another talented veteran, Alterraun Verner. Starting in the slot, first round pick CB Vernon Hargreaves might have been the best corner in this past draft. Tampa will be seriously lacking talent at the safety position this season. But I feel like the Bucs could be a sleeper team in 2016. If Winston continues his progress and the defense gets a little bit better, Tampa will push hard for a possible playoff berth. Prediction: 7-9

New Orleans Saints – I feel like the Saints are a team on the verge of completely rebuilding. But that wont happen as long as Sean Payton is the head coach and Drew Brees is the QB. Payton is one of the top coaches in football and Brees is one of the top QB in the game but both are not good enough to overcome the lack of talent on this roster. Drew Brees is 37 years old but he feels like he can still be one of the league’s best passers. I think he can to but I wonder if that arm can survive the grind of another season at a high level. Brees played at a high level in 2015 but his team still couldn’t make the post season. When I look at the RB’s on this team, I see a group that should be better than what they are. Starter Mark Ingram is one of the league’s toughest runners but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for 16 games. RB C.J. Spiller was brought over a season ago and he had little impact on this offense. Spiller is a great runner in the open field and the Saints need to find out a better way to utilize him in the offense. Brees can usually make any receiver into a great one but I feel like his group of WR’s this year is a little underwhelming. WR Brandin Cooks is the top guy and WR Willie Snead proved to be a valuable target a season ago. I think the Saints are missing that big possession receiver in their offense and rookie Michael Thomas could end up being that guy. The Saints may have acted like they didn’t miss Jimmy Graham at TE last season but they need someone better than average at that position. New Orleans brought in Coby Fleener from the Colts and he’ll have the opportunity to be the big play target at TE that Brees didn’t have a season ago. On defense, the Saints need to do better but they are already behind the 8 ball going into this season. First round draft pick, DT Sheldon Rankins, is already lost for the season and that defensive line could have seriously used him. DE Cameron Jordan is the lone stand out up front as a dynamic pass rusher. DT Nick Fairley was brought in during free agency but I wonder what he can offer at this point in his career. DE Paul Kruger was a surprise cut from Cleveland and he might be able to improve the Saints pass rush. New Orleans’ has a decent starting group at LB this season. Stephone Anthony had a tremendous rookie season where he led all rookies in tackles. He’ll be surrounded this season by proven vets James Laurinaitis and Dannell Ellerbe. New Orleans did not improve their weakest position in the offseason: the secondary. The corner situation is an absolute mess and they managed to get CB Cortland Finnegan to join rather than retire. Safety Jairus Byrd has been a massive bust since coming over from Buffalo. The other safety, Kenny Vaccaro, was actually solid a season ago while racking up a bunch of tackles. Vaccaro is great in run support but no one in this secondary can cover anybody. Drew Brees will be awesome to watch again this season but this team isn’t close to competing again. Prediction: 6-10

Throwback Thursday: Revisiting my 2011 NFL MOCK Draft

cam-newton-flip-touchdown-video

Five years ago, my MOCK draft had Cam Newton dabbing in the AFC South.

By: Elias McMillan

 

The 2011 NFL Draft might prove to be one of the best draft classes of all time based on overall talent. Almost half of the players taken in the first round have at least been to one Pro Bowl. The top two picks in that draft, QB Cam Newton and OLB Von Miller, will face off next weekend in Super Bowl 50. Coincidentally, I completed my very first NFL MOCK draft that year. Link: https://www.facebook.com/notes/10150228171096343/

Lets revisit my selections now just to see how much I could have screwed up the very landscape of certain NFL franchises, as we know them now.

1) Carolina Panthers

           My Pick: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

            Actual Pick: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

Off the bat, I’m off to a great start. Going into this draft, there were a lot of questions about Cam’s off the field issues and his actual talent on the field. Was Cam just another great running college QB? Was he just a one-year wonder? Can he make all of the throws? I thought that the question marks around his ability to be an accurate passer in the league would stop him from becoming the top pick in this draft. Patrick Peterson was being hyped as a mixture of Darrelle Revis and Deion Sanders. And with the state of the QB position in the NFC South (Good thing Josh Freeman didn’t pan out), I thought Carolina needed to combat that with an elite defender. Both Peterson and Newton ended up great players in this league but obviously, the Panthers made the correct choice.

2) Denver Broncos

           My Pick: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

            Actual Pick: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

3) Buffalo Bills

           My Pick: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

            Actual Pick: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

So, I actually ended up flip-flopping these two next selections. The Broncos and the Bills both ended up with two of the top defenders in this draft. I wonder if Miller ended up a Bill, would they still be running a 3-4 defense in upstate New York. Marcell Dareus doesn’t get the attention that Von Miller gets but he is still a great player in this league in his own right.

4) Cincinnati Bengals

           My Pick: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

            Actual Pick: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

Ha! Here’s my first correct selection! It was a forgone conclusion that the Bengals were ready to move on from the Ochocinco/T.O. regime. Green has been killing it for the Bengals ever since. Great selection. An obvious home run.

5) Arizona Cardinals

           My Pick: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

            Actual Pick: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

Wow. What a massive bullet avoided by the Cardinals here. But what in the hell was I thinking having Gabbert picked over Cam Newton?!?! The knock on Gabbert going into this draft was how he was more “NFL ready” than Newton and a much more polish passer. This would have been an absolute disaster for Arizona who didn’t actually have the chance at Newton but instead got a really good player in Peterson who was my top pick in this draft.

6) Cleveland Browns (Traded to Atlanta Falcons)

           My Pick: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

            Actual Pick: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

So, I got the player correct at the six slot and Jones ended up being another great player in this league along with fellow WR A.J. Green. But I have to wonder what the hell Cleveland was thinking making this trade? I know that the draft picks they got in return ended up as nothing. I guess that’s why the Browns are the Browns. Julio Jones must wake up every morning thanking God that he isn’t a Cleveland Brown.

7) San Francisco 49ers

           My Pick: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

            Actual Pick: Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri

I knew that the 49ers would go defense with this pick but I got the wrong player. Nick Fairley was being hailed as the next Warren Sapp after his great performance in that National Title game. But ultimately, he wouldn’t have been a fit for Jim Harbaugh’s defense. Instead, San Fran went with Smith who was a great pass rusher for a few seasons before becoming a guy to just finds trouble off the field.

8) Tennessee Titans

           My Pick: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

            Actual Pick: Jake Locker, QB, Washington

Well, I knew that the Titans would have a QB penciled in at this pick. Could you imagine if Newton was still available at this selection? Talk about a potential franchise changer! No one really knew how good Newton would end up being but having him drop all the way down to 8 is just embarrassing on my part. Honestly, the evaluation of Locker wasn’t that far away from Newton’s. Locker was a great athlete in college who happened to play QB. Locker wasn’t nearly the player Newton was at Auburn and concussions pretty much shorten his playing career. But again, imagine how different the NFL would be today with Newton as a Titan? Tennessee would be contenders right now instead of dwelling in the AFC South basement.

9) Dallas Cowboys

            My Pick: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

            Actual Pick: Tyron Smith, OT, USC

Taking an offensive lineman seemed so boring to me at the time, I guess. The Cowboys needed to upgrade their pass rush opposite of DeMarcus Ware at the time. But they ended up making the wiser decision that ultimately ended up extending Tony Romo’s career. Smith is probably one of the best if not the best left tackle in football today while Quinn is an elite passer in this league as well.

10) Washington Redskins (Traded to Jacksonville Jaguars)

           My Pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple

            Actual Pick: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

Gabbert is still in the league as a back up but its known that this plan didn’t work out for the Jags. Or for Washington. I cant tell you what they ended up doing with those extra picks from this trade. But both teams missed out on getting a pretty good defensive lineman.

11) Houston Texans

           My Pick: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

            Actual Pick: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

Considering that Watt is now the face of the franchise in Houston and the best defensive player in all of football, Houston made out pretty well with this selection. I mean, the Texans did need secondary help and Amukamara is one of the better defensive backs in football today. But the Texans obviously made the right choice here.

12) Minnesota Vikings

            My Pick: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

            Actual Pick: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

Again, I was right on the position but wrong on the player. This was a shocking pick went it happened and it still kind of is. I don’t think anyone had Ponder as a first rounder before the draft. Ponder was a decent athlete in college but not on a level as a Newton or even a Locker. I was high on Ryan Mallett for this draft. He had the big arm that looked great on film. I didn’t think the character issues were a big deal but it turned out that those issues did seriously affect his rep around the league. Minnesota would have to wait longer to find its potential franchise QB.

13) Detroit Lions

            My Pick: Tyron Smith, OT, USC

            Actual Pick: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

This was another shocking pick when it happened. Fairley along with Suh was destined to rule the line of scrimmage against the NFC North for years. Fairley and Suh did make up for a great defensive front for the Lions for a few seasons but both have left the team since then. If Tyron Smith was available at this pick, QB Matt Stafford might be even better than he already is right now.

14) St. Louis Rams

            My Pick: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

            Actual Pick: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

Here is an instance where I thought the Rams would pick based on need and not based on the best player available. The Rams didn’t value outside linebackers in a 4-3 defense at the time. Instead they wanted to get as many pass rushers as possible and that strategy worked out for them with the Quinn selection. Ayers has bounced around a few teams since this draft and has never been voted to the Pro Bowl. But in a strange twist, Quinn and Ayers are now teammates in St. Louis. Oops. I mean, Los Angeles. I’m going to have to get used to that eventually.

15) Miami Dolphins

           My Pick: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

            Actual Pick: Mike Pouncey, C, Florida

Its hard to decide which selection would have been better for the Dolphins at 15. I wasn’t high on Mike Pouncey at all going into this draft. He had an awful final season at Florida without his brother and accounted for multiple muffed snaps. Ingram may not have been worth a top 15 pick but he is currently a decent runner in this league. Mike is one of the leaders on the offensive line for Miami. This was truly a toss up.

16) Jacksonville Jaguars (Traded to Washington)

            My Pick: Cameron Jordan, DE, California

            Actual Pick: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

After trading down with Jacksonville, Washington ended up with a decent defensive end in Kerrigan but they could have drafted a better player in Cameron Jordan. The Jordan pick for Jacksonville made sense to me at the time because the Jags already had his Cal teammate, Tyson Alualu. Clearly, I should have been Washington’s GM.

USATSI_8962266_168380823_lowres-810x615

Imagine a world where J.J. Watt and Rob Gronkowski are teammates.

17) New England Patriots

            My Pick: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

            Actual Pick: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

Could you imagine Watt lasting all the down to the evil Patriots?!?! I wonder how that could have affected Watt’s likability and marketability around the league. He would have made the defense in New England instantly better and he would be hoisting a couple Super Bowl trophies instead of wasting his talents away in Houston. Of course Watt wasn’t there for the Pats at pick 17. Instead, they got some offensive line help with Nate Solder who is still a starter on that offensive line.

18) San Diego Chargers

            My Pick: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

            Actual Pick: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

Blah. Nothing to report here. Liuget is still in San Diego. They extended his contract so he must be okay. I thought they would go with some offensive line help for Phillip Rivers.

19) New York Giants

           My Pick: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia

            Actual Pick: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

I don’t think I realized that Houston was a pass rushing linebacker who didn’t fit New York’s 4-3 defense. But he still would have significantly helped this Giants team that seemed to not have enough of pass rushers at one time. Taking Prince Amukamara worked out for them as well though.

20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

           My Pick: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

            Actual Pick: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

Da’Quan Bowers was hyped in this draft as a possible top five selection. But then, questions about his health dropped his stock and he ended up becoming a Buccaneer but not until the second round. Tampa did go defensive end at pick 20. Adrian Clayborn was an unstoppable force at Iowa but injuries have prevented that to be a reality at the pro level.

21) Kansas City Chiefs (Traded to Cleveland Browns)

           My Pick: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

            Actual Pick: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor

Cleveland screws up again. At least Carimi is still in the league. Taylor had a decent rookie season but then, it all went downhill from there.

22) Indianapolis Colts

           My Pick: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

            Actual Pick: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

These two names link up again. Check out my selection for the Chargers at 18. Both are still starting for their respective teams.

23) Philadelphia Eagles

           My Pick: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

            Actual Pick: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor

Jimmy Smith is currently a decent corner in the NFL when healthy. Danny Watkins is currently a firefighter in Texas. That’s actually a cooler story than Smith’s. But my point, this didn’t pan out for Philly.

24) New Orleans Saints

           My Pick: Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri

            Actual Pick: Cameron Jordan, DE, California

The Saints hit a home run with this pick, as Jordan is a top pass rusher in the NFL. Smith went earlier to the 49ers but either way, the Saints were gonna grab a great pass rusher. It really worked out for the Saints when you think about all the trouble Smith could of gotten in New Orleans.

25) Seattle Seahawks

           My Pick: Jake Locker, QB, Washington

            Actual Pick: James Carpenter, OT, Alabama

Locker would have been a great story if taken by his hometown Seahawks but Seattle would have to wait a couple more years to find that athletic QB phenom. The pick of James Carpenter actually worked out for Seattle as he started on that offensive line during Seattle’s Super Bowl runs in the last two seasons.

26) Baltimore Ravens

           My Pick: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (FL)

            Actual Pick: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

I had the Ravens penciled in for some secondary help at pick 26. Brandon Harris was probably a bit over hyped going into this draft and I thought that his ties to “Da U” would be his road to the Baltimore Ravens. Instead, Baltimore got a better corner in Smith.

27) Atlanta Falcons (Traded to Cleveland, then Traded to Kansas City)

           My Pick: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

            Actual Pick: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

This is a lot to digest because all of the trades. First, Atlanta got their guy in the top ten in Julio Jones but Kerrigan would have helped their struggling pass rush. Baldwin did not pan out at all for the Chiefs in Kansas City. And the Browns are still the Browns. Any questions?

28) New England Patriots (Traded to New Orleans Saints)

           My Pick: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

            Actual Pick: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

The Saints finished out a great 2011 draft by trading back in the first round to land the best RB available. I already stated that the Pats needed offensive line help, which they actually got with their first selection.

29) Chicago Bears

            My Pick: Mike Pouncey, C, Florida

            Actual Pick: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

The Bears did end up getting offensive line help but at a different position. I wasn’t big on Pouncey’s pro prospects, which was why I barely had him going in the first round. Pouncey did end up panning out in Miami while Carimi is still a starter for Jay Cutler’s offensive line in Chicago.

95

The Jets were going to get help for their defensive line at pick 30. It could have been Hayward who instead went to Pittsburgh at pick 31.

30) New York Jets

            My Pick: Cameron Heyward, DT, Ohio State

            Actual Pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple

I knew that the Jets were looking for more help along that defensive line. Wilkerson and Heyward ended up pretty decent players in this league. Wilkerson just established his all-pro status before Heyward did but still, they are both really good at what they do.

31) Pittsburgh Steelers

            My Pick: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

            Actual Pick: Cameron Heyward, DT, Ohio State

No loser here at this selection. The Steelers opted to find offensive line help later and instead took Heyward who really became a dominant player this past season.

32) Green Bay Packers

           My Pick: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor

            Actual Pick: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

This pick was just a disaster for the Packers and myself. I told you earlier about Watkins’ new profession. But the actual selection, Sherrod, was doomed during his rookie season when he suffered a broken leg. He never could become the player that he was coming out from college after that injury. What a sad story to end the first round.

 

So, what is the moral of all of this? I think it is how myself and other draft forecasters really know nothing about anything when it comes to the draft. But its still fun to guess and speculate which is why I still do. Two biggest things to take away from here: Cam Newton as a Tennessee Titan and J.J. Watt as a New England Patriot. Man, that would have made things so different in the NFL currently.