Tag Archives: Cleveland Browns

Elias McMillan’s 2017 NFL MOCK Draft!

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Is Myles Garrett the guy for the job of fixing Cleveland’s pass rush?

By: Elias McMillan

 

The NFL Draft is a crap shoot and unlike last year, teams have not made a trade up into the top 5 for one particular player. That would make predicting the picks easier but instead I feel like I made a few guesses this year that might feel like reaches. I’m sure it can’t be as bad as anyone else’s Mock Draft. Anyway, Cleveland is on the clock…..

ROUND ONE

1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, OLB/DE, Texas A&M: This should be a no brainer for the Browns. Myles Garrett has been the projected as the number one pick in this draft early in the process. The Browns have had numerous high draft choices in round one in recent years but they’ve never had a chance to draft anyone as talented or anyone who can change their defense like Garrett could. Garrett is an athletic freak who can make plays behind the line of scrimmage. The combination of size and speed that he brings to the table is drawing comparisons to Julius Peppers and Jadeveon Clowney. Garrett out produced both of those guys in college. He will bring big time talent to a Browns defense that only had two players to get double-digit sack totals in a season in the last ten years.

2. San Francisco 49ers – Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: The 49ers could go a lot of different ways with this pick. They need defensive help but they also need a QB. I think the Niners will wait on a QB in later rounds. To get their defense back to where they once were only a short time ago, they need a player who can get to the QB. San Fran has spent recent top draft picks on the defensive line already but they are still missing the pass rush that they lost when Aldon Smith left the team. Solomon Thomas had a tremendous final season at Stanford where he looked unblockable at times. Thomas has a really quick first step and the way he penetrates the line of scrimmage really sets him apart from most pass rushers in this draft. Thomas would be a great fit as a pass rusher in San Fran’s 3-4 defense.

3. Chicago Bears – Jamal Adams, S, LSU: Jamal Adams is the most complete safety in this draft. He is great in the open field as a tackler and he can defend passes down the field. The Bears need plenty of defensive help. Adams would be a bad place to start.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama: The Jaguars have been trying to build up their defensive line for a while now. They’ve brought in multiple free agents to that unit recently. But I think that Jacksonville needs youth in that area. Allen was an absolute force inside at Alabama where he played at a high level for three years. The addition of Allen to what they already have on the defensive line could produce immediate results.

5. Tennessee Titans – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State: Tennessee recently cut one of their veteran safeties and they can draft a replacement for him in round one. I like Malik Hooker’s game a lot. He isn’t the complete safety that Jamal Adams is but he is a ball hawk who can make plays when the ball is in his area consistently. Hooker needs to work on becoming more of a physical tackler but I don’t see defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau passing on him especially with Adams off the board.

6. New York Jets – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State: The Jets would get a steal here if the best corner in the draft is still available at pick number six. If you are looking to replace a player like Darrelle Revis, Lattimore would be a great place to start. Lattimore offers great speed and instincts, which make him look like a future all-pro. The Jets are in an interesting place right now because they’ve gotten rid of so many veterans in this offseason. They could really go anywhere with this pick. But getting Lattimore at six would be a steal.

7. Los Angeles Chargers – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: I didn’t really know where to go with this one. I’m betting that the Chargers are hoping for one of the top two safeties to drop down to them. If not, they will most likely trade down. If they don’t trade down, I have them drafting for need with a CB. Taking a corner here might be a reach but the Chargers secondary dealt with injuries last season and they need more depth. Humphrey was a great corner on a pretty good Alabama defense and he was able to be pretty durable during his college career. He will help a Chargers secondary that needs to get younger.

8. Carolina Panthers – Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin: In Super Bowl 50, Cam Newton got beat up. Then, during the 2016 regular season, Newton got even more beat up. You got to find a way to protect your franchise QB. Michael Oher is a great success story but he cannot be a starter on this offensive line. Carolina brought in Matt Kalil from Minnesota and they can draft a starting offensive tackle for the immediate future with this pick. Ryan Ramczyk comes from a school that seems to just breed great offensive linemen. Carolina could go with a RB or some defensive help here but I think they need to prioritize protecting their franchise QB.

9. Cincinnati Bengals – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: Reuben Foster is an absolute thumper for a LB. He is a big time hitter and was the best player from a talented Alabama defense. The Bengals cut ties with veteran LB Rey Maualuga in the offseason and drafting Foster here would provide their defense with an instant replacement. Foster does has some red flags for some off the field stuff but I think he’s too good to drop out of the top ten.

10. Buffalo Bills – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan: This might come as a shocker. Many think that Buffalo will be concerning a QB at pick 10. But I think they need to stick with Tyrod Taylor and draft him some weapons. I do like Clemson’s Mike Williams a lot but the Bills already have a receiver with a similar skill set and he just happens to be from Clemson as well. I think that small school product, Corey Davis, would complement Sammy Watkins better than Mike Williams. Davis is a streaky receiver with superb route running skills. He was very productive as a college player and he should be ready to provide Taylor with another target down the field to take the pressure off Watkins.

11. New Orleans Saints – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State: The Saints need all the defensive help. Bring in Gareon Conley from a deep and talented Ohio State secondary. New Orleans’ pass defense has ranked near the bottom in the league for a while now.

12. Cleveland Browns – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: If the Browns have two picks in round one, you better believe the second one will be a QB. You might expect me to vouch from Mitch Trubisky because he’s a Tarheel but actually, I don’t think he is the best QB in this draft. Trubisky needs a lot of work and he would probably be better off sitting in his rookie season. But Cleveland reportedly likes Trubisky a lot. For Trubisky, it’s all about his potential. Trubisky has a good arm, his athletic, and he played with a talented bunch of WR’s in college. Trubisky also only has one-year experience as a starter. I think Hue Jackson will love the opportunity to mold Trubisky into something but they will need to be patient and resist the temptation of throwing him to the lions in year one. But with Cleveland’s QB situation, Trubisky may have to get ready sooner than later.

13. Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech: Here’s a shocker. Arizona takes a QB for the future, as Carson Palmer’s time is almost up. Mahomes has a great arm that the pro scouts love. Much like Trubisky, Mahomes needs some pro coaching seasoning and Bruce Arians has a good track record with young QB’s.

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Dalvin Cook did it all in the backfield at Florida State

14. Philadelphia Eagles – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: I don’t think Dalvin Cook is the best RB in the draft but he fits what the Eagles need at that position. Cook is in the mold of a Jamaal Charles type player and head coach Doug Pederson is very familiar with such a player from his time in Kansas City. Cook is a complete back as he can fill the role as a tradition RB but can also provide the QB with a pretty good target in the passing game. He will remind Eagles fans of a better version of Brian Westbrook.

15. Indianapolis Colts – Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple: With Robert Mathis retiring, the Colts need a talent on defense who can create pressure in the backfield. Haason Reddick has sky rocketed up draft boards after a great Senior Bowl. He was a player at Temple who improved each season and did whatever to help on the defensive side of the ball. He needs to bulk up some but with his small size, along with that comes great speed along the edges, which is key for a OLB in a 3-4 defense.

16. Baltimore Ravens – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: This would be a dream come true for Baltimore. Mike Williams is arguably the best WR in the draft and the Ravens need a big time target for Joe Flacco. Williams isn’t going to blow the top off of defenses in the NFL with his speed but with his size and the way he attacks the football while in the air will make him an attractive prospect as a rookie. Williams is a playmaker when the ball is thrown his way and he could develop into the Ravens new number one target in the passing game sooner than later.

17. Washington – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Many believe that Leonard Fournette is a lock to be a top 10 pick or at least the first RB selected. I don’t have him in either category. Why? I like Fournette is going to be hurt a bit by the load he had to carry at LSU. He was basically their entire offense and he went through a lot of wear and tear in college. Despite that, I still think he is the best RB in the draft. He is a physical runner, he’s hard to tackle, and he has underrated speed. Washington has been waiting for a RB like him since Clinton Portis left town. Washington would rush to the podium if Fournette some how slips all the way down to pick 17.

18. Tennessee Titans – John Ross, WR, Washington: I’m not a big fan of John Ross but after going with defense with their first selection in round one, the Titans will be looking for a new target for their franchise QB. I’m not a big fan of Ross because of his durability issues. He is the fastest WR in the draft but I’m worried about his ability to stay healthy. Either way, Tennessee would be drafting a player with future number one receiver potential if he is able to stay healthy.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan: No prospect in this draft has been picked apart like Jabrill Peppers. Is he a player without a position? Is he too small to play safety? There are a lot of questions about Peppers. I like him as a prospect and I think he versatility in college was more about sacrifice and giving Michigan all he had to offer. As a safety, I think Peppers could develop into a Troy Polumalu type of player in the league. Despite his size, he is a pretty sure tackler. He is a playmaker as a “in the box” safety. And he can do special things with the ball in his hands, especially as a kick returner. Tampa could use a guy like Peppers on defense and special teams. It’s not like the Bucs have a sure starter at safety away. They will give Pepper a chance to silence his critics.

20. Denver Broncos – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: Many have the top TE prospect, O.J. Howard, going in the top 10. Howard is one of the most talented TE to come out of college in a while now but I don’t think the TE position is that valuable to take a guy that high in the draft. However, Howard would be a great fit for a Denver offense that needs to help whoever ends up as their QB. Howard was a game changer at Alabama and he played at his best in the biggest moments. He could play immediately in Denver.

21. Detroit Lions – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: Ziggy Ansah is the star DE on the Lions but he is coming off a majorly disappointing 2016 season. I think the Lions know that Ziggy can regain his form going forward but he would probably benefit from another talent lining up opposite of him on that defensive line. Derek Barnett was a big time player at Tennessee where he broke the school’s sack record previously held by Reggie White. Barnett didn’t blow scouts away at the combine but his game film speaks for himself. The guy is relentless at getting after the QB and he could help improve Detroit’s sack total, which was 30th in the league last season.

22. Miami Dolphins – Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA: The Dolphins need to get younger at defensive end. Cameron Wake is still there but they need a replacement for Mario Williams who was let go in the offseason. I like Takk McKinley’s game a lot. The way he attacks offensive tackles with his explosiveness off the ball really stands out. There is a bit of an injury concern with him but I think he is good enough for Miami to take a chance with him at 22.

23. New York Giants – David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fla): I feel like I mock a TE to the Giants almost every year I do this. The Giants seem to get by just fine without a dynamic TE on offense. I think in this part of the draft, NY will be looking for the best player available and that could be the TE out of Miami, Florida. Njoku is a crazy good athlete with great speed for his size. He will provide Eli Manning with a big fast target down the field.

24. Oakland Raiders – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: This selection just screams “Oakland Raiders”. How about this scenario: the Raiders convince Marshawn Lynch to come out of retirement and then they pair his thunder with the lightning of Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey was an electrifying player in college as a shifty RB that could do it all. The Raiders ran the ball well last season but their starter left for Minnesota. The combination of McCaffrey and maybe Lynch would mean that the Raiders would still have a running game to support QB David Carr but they would also have a more dynamic backfield with the rookie from Stanford.

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DeShaun Watson is a winner and Houston needs a new signal caller.

25. Houston Texans – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: I think Deshaun Watson is the best QB in this draft. But why do I have him as the third QB selected then? I know that many think that Watson doesn’t have the intangibles to make a quick transition into a NFL QB. But I choose to judge Watson as a QB by looking at his body of work while at Clemson. He won a lot of big games against some of the best defenses in the country. Many are concerned about Watson being a system QB or that he doesn’t have a big time arm or that he can’t pass in the pocket. But he was able to make all the throws and the plays while at Clemson and that has to count for something. He was definitely a better QB in college than Trubisky or Mahomes. He would be welcomed with open arms at QB-needy Houston.

26. Seattle Seahawks – Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama: Seattle went with offensive line in round one last year but that shouldn’t stop them from doing the same this year. That offensive line still ranked near the bottom in the league in allowed sacks. I think Cam Robinson can be plugged in as a future starting tackle for QB Russell Wilson.

27. Kansas City Chiefs – Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt: When the Chiefs lost starting LB Derrick Johnson to injury late in the season, it hurt their run defense tremendously. Johnson is getting up there in age and the Chiefs need an insurance policy. Cunningham is one of the top LB prospects in the draft and he specifies at stopping the run. He would be a great fit in the middle of Kansas City’s already talented defense.

28. Dallas Cowboys – Kevin King, CB, Washington: Every year during draft season, I yell and scream about the Cowboys needing a pass rush. That remains a problem area for yet another offseason but I think the Cowboys have to account for losing 3 starters in their secondary. I would be okay if they went with a pass rusher that they really liked and that fit their system but it hard to find a true difference maker as a pass rusher when you are picking at the bottom of each round. Luckily for Dallas, this year’s draft is rich with talent in the secondary. For example, Washington’s Kevin King would provide a great combination of size and speed that would serve him well as a pro. King might of benefitted from the injury of teammate Sidney Jones who would have been a top 20 pick if he didn’t go down to an injury during the draft process. Regardless, King is talented on his own right and Dallas would be thrilled to take him at 28.

29. Green Bay Packers – Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky: I like I said for Carolina’s selection: You have to protect your franchise QB’s. The Packers lost their starting guard in free agency. Here, they can draft a replacement to play right away in Green Bay’s offense.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers – Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri: Once again, the Steelers are asking themselves if they can really count on James Harrison to be an effective starter at his age. Pittsburgh has stuck out recently with draft picks aiming to push Harrison out of the starting lineup but with Charles Harris, they might actually find success this time. Harris is a tremendous pass rusher off the edge and comes from a program that has produced some nice NFL products on the defensive side of the ball. Harris’ size and speed make him ideal for a 3-4 defense. He could be a nice fit for the future of Pittsburgh’s defense.

31. Atlanta Falcons – Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida: Atlanta hit the jackpot last season with their late selections at the LB position. They could really solidify that position with the selection of Davis. Jarrad Davis has a great motor and he hits like a truck. Run defense was a weakness for Atlanta and Davis could really help them immediately.

32. New Orleans Saints – Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State: New Orleans’ defense is really bad. That need all the help they can get. I think I said the same thing at pick 11. Malik McDowell would be a nice addition to their defensive line. McDowell is a tall, athletic defensive lineman that could play multiple positions in New Orleans’ scheme.

ROUND TWO

  1. Cleveland Browns – Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
  2. San Francisco 49ers – DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana
  4. Chicago Bears – Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
  5. Los Angeles Rams – Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
  6. Los Angeles Chargers – Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston
  7. New York Jets – Evan Engram, TE, Virginia Tech
  8. Carolina Panthers – Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
  9. Cincinnati Bengals – Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
  10. New Orleans Saints – TreDavious White, CB, LSU
  11. Philadelphia Eagles – Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
  12. Buffalo Bills – Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut
  13. Arizona Cardinals – Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
  14. Indianapolis Colts – Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
  15. Baltimore Ravens – T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
  16. Minnesota Vikings – Duke Riley, LB, LSU
  17. Washington – Budda Baker, S, Washington
  18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
  19. Denver Broncos – Larry Ogunjobi, DT, Charlotte
  20. Cleveland Browns – Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
  21. Detroit Lions – Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
  22. Miami Dolphins – Desmond King, S/CB, Iowa
  23. New York Giants – Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn
  24. Oakland Raiders – Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
  25. Houston Texans – Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama
  26. Seattle Seahawks – Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
  27. Kansas City Chiefs – Jordan Willis, DE/OLB, Kansas State
  28. Dallas Cowboys – Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio
  29. Green Bay Packers – Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama
  30. Pittsburgh Steelers – Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
  31. Atlanta Falcons – Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA

64. Carolina Panthers – Curtis Samuel, WR/RB, Ohio State

 

 

NFL 2016: Week 17 Predictions! (Condensed Version)

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks

Despite a setback last week at home, Seattle still has a slim chance of earning the second seed in the NFC.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 149-89-2

Week 17

Baltimore @ Cincinnati – We wont be seeing the Ravens in the post season so this will be the last game in the career of Steve Smith. Baltimore will be aiming to end his career on a positive note. My Pick: Ravens

Houston @ Tennessee – The Texans will be resting multiple starters in preparation for the playoffs but I have a hard time believing that the Titans will win with Matt Cassell starting. My Pick: Texans

Jacksonville @ Indianapolis – The Jaguars got their only home victory of the season last week. Just in time for them to lay an egg on the road to close out the season. Colts DE Robert Mathis will be playing in his final game. My Pick: Colts

New England @ Miami – The Pats still need to wrap up home field in the AFC. Miami needs to start to prepare for Pittsburgh next weekend. They will rest many of their starters, I think. My Pick: Patriots

Chicago @ Minnesota – A tough second half of the season for Mike Zimmer and the Vikings. They need something positive to take with them to the offseason. My Pick: Vikings

Buffalo @ New York Jets – The Bills organization is a mess and the players are starting to take wind of this. Many people dislike Rex Ryan because of how loud he can be. But the bottom line is that Rex is actually a good coach and he definitely deserved more than two years to help Buffalo turn it around. On top of that firing, Buffalo will start EJ Manuel on Sunday. I know that the Jets have been worst this season but Buffalo is imploding. My Pick: Jets

Dallas @ Philadelphia – The Cowboys will be resting their starters and the Eagles will be looking for anything positive to take with them into the offseason. I hope Tony Romo doesn’t play. He deserved a send off last week at home and not one in Philly where he will definitely get booed. My Pick: Eagles

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh – I’m glad that Cleveland got their one win last week. Pittsburgh will be resting many of their starters. But it won’t matter. My Pick: Steelers

Carolina @ Tampa Bay – The Buccaneers have a laundry list of a playoff scenario to pull off if they hope to make it. Step one: beat Carolina. Step two: Pray. My Pick: Buccaneers

New Orleans @ Atlanta – The Falcons have a good shot at gaining the number 2 seed in the NFC and a first week playoff bye. That’s too big of an opportunity to lose especially at home. My Pick: Falcons

Oakland @ Denver – The injury to David Carr really stinks. Oakland was looking to possibly have the number 2 seed in the AFC. Now, they will have to feed their back up QB to an angry Denver defense on the road. The Raiders will be getting ready for Houston after this one. My Pick: Broncos

Arizona @ Los Angeles – Could this be Larry Fitzgerald’s last game as a Cardinal? My Pick: Cardinals

Kansas City @ San Diego – There is nowhere to go but up after you lose to Cleveland. But Kansas City will be looking to make the jump from wild-card team to AFC West Champions. The Chiefs will be ready to take care of business in this one. My Pick: Chiefs

Seattle @ San Francisco – The Seahawks suffered a major let down last week at home. Now, they will probably have to play next weekend instead of having a bye week in the playoffs. My Pick: Seahawks

New York Giants @ Washington – The Giants really don’t have anything to play for but they don’t want to take their foot off the pedal going into next weekend. Why not knock your rivals out of playoff contention? My Pick: Giants

Green Bay @ Detroit – This is the scenario that everyone saw coming weeks ago. Despite leading in the division for weeks, the Lions have allowed the Packers to catch up and they will now play a winner takes all on Sunday night for the NFC North title. Despite the run that Green Bay is currently on, I don’t see them as a threat in the NFC but that doesn’t mean that they wont be able to finish the job on the road in Detroit. The Lions are basically powered by Matt Stafford and their ability to stage comebacks late in games. I don’t have a reason why Detroit will be able to stop the Packers on offense. At the same time, I could say the same about Green Bay and their defense. This game will be about the QBs: Stafford and Rodgers. I bet the Lions will start out hot at home and Rodgers will start to limp around, causing the commentators to assume the worst about his health. But then in the second half, Rodgers will start playing out of his mind and Stafford will not have an answer. I also predict a happy ending for both teams, as we will see them both next week. My Pick: Packers

Happy New Year!

NFL 2016: AFC North Preview

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The Steelers will be contenders in 2016 even without Le’Veon Bell for the first 3 games. Right?

By: Elias McMillan

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers – Last year, the talk was that the Steelers were going to have to score 35 plus a game because the defense was suppose to be so bad. As the season when on, we saw what the offense could do despite all of the injuries and the defense kind of over achieved. Pittsburgh ran into so many problems last season when it comes to injuries but they still were so close to beating the eventually champion Broncos in the playoffs. That should serve as motivation going into 2016 as the Steelers will return a great offensive attack again along with a defense that will need to play better than what they look like on paper. On offense, everyone will talk about the QB and the skill players but if you watched last season, you saw that the offensive line was really the unsung heroes on that side of the ball. In 2016, the offensive will receive a couple of key guys back from injury and they acquired a new tackle from the Super Bowl Champion Broncos team. I expect the offensive line to be great again this season. I would expect Ben Roethlisberger to be the same tough player that he has always been in his career in 2016. RB Le’Veon Bell will miss the first 3 games of 2016 but I think the blow of not having him early on won’t be as big. Bell is a top back in the league but he has had issues with staying healthy. The time off might help him remain fresher through the season. Also, RB DeAngelo Williams played surprisingly well last season in the back up role and he’ll carry that confidence into 2016. Bell is in his contract year and with his suspension history, it is likely that 2016 will be his last in the black and gold. I bring this up because once Bell gets back on the field he will be extra motivated to show his worth to the Steelers and the other 31 teams in preparation for 2017. Bell might only play in 13-16 games but he is too talented to not be a factor in Pittsburgh’s offense. The real star on offense for the Steelers is at WR. Antonio Brown can do it all for this offense and he is primed for another great campaign. The depth at receiver this year could be a bit shaky with the suspension of Martavis Bryant but I think Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, and Darrius Heyward-Bey are capable to be big targets when called upon. TE Heath Miller retired but the Steelers quickly moved in free agency and signed Ladarius Green from San Diego. Green can be a valuable receiver and Ben likes to use the TE a lot. But Green’s status is already up in the air because of injury concerns. Because of injuries and suspensions, you can see the floor for the Pittsburgh offense this season but the veteran pieces at key position should be able to hold everything together. On defense, the worries don’t come from the front seven. Pittsburgh had a top 5 run defense a season ago and the defensive line returns the same leaders from a season ago. At the outside linebacker rush positions, Bud Dupree merely scratched the surface in his rookie season and I think he can improve in 2016. James Harrison has yet to be replaced because he is defying the aging process. At 38, he is still probably the Steelers best disruptor off the edge. The Steelers also return the duo of inside LB’s Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons. The weakness of the defense will be in the secondary again. Safety Mike Mitchell offers a lot as a physical tackler but not much as a pass defender. Is Robert Golden ready to be the starter opposite of Mitchell? William Gay can make big plays at times but no one really sees him as a number 1 corner in this league. I like the draft picks of Artie Burns and Sean Davis. Those two rookies might be called upon earlier that expected in this defense. There might be a few wrinkles but I think this Steelers team will be similar or even better than the one from last year. If the Steelers can survive their division and if you look at how the other top teams in the AFC have done in the offseason, you’ll see why I think this Steelers team will have a shot at being the top team in the AFC in 2016. Prediction: 12-4 (AFC North Champs)

Cincinnati Bengals – With the way Cincinnati’s season ended, you would think some of that would carry over into 2016. That maybe true but the Bengals still return a talented roster into this season and they will be Pittsburgh’s main rival for the division crown. Cincinnati had an epic meltdown in the playoff game against the Steelers but many people have already forgot that they almost pulled off with the victory while having to start their backup at QB. Andy Dalton was playing well before getting hurt right before the playoff game. Seeing how close his team got without him should prove to be a huge motivation for Dalton this season. The Bengals have lost some talent at the WR position but they have also gained some as well. All-pro, AJ Green is still the leader of the group along with veterans Brandon Tate and Brandon LaFell. But I expect rookie WR Tyler Boyd to eventually become the breakout target in this offense in 2016. The RB duo of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard still looks good on paper but they both kind of underperformed last season. I don’t now if the Bengals need better blocking upfront but Hill and Bernard need to become bigger factors in this offense. On defense, the Bengals return many of the familiar characters that have been apart of the unit for years now. Cincinnati’s defense has plenty of experience but I’m worried because experience is really just code for “old”. Cincy’s front four was a top 10 run defending unit in 2015 and they’ll be lead once again by DT Geno Atkins. The starting linebackers are pretty much the same aside from they replaced an aging vet with another aging vet. A.J. Hawk only lasted one year and Karlos Dansby will replace him. Dansby was only let go from Cleveland because of his age but he definitely has a lot left in the tank. Cincinnati has always spent a wealth of draft picks on the secondary but that group was a weak point last season. I liked the first round selection of William Jackson from Houston but an injury will keep him on the bench for at least the first half of the season. CB Adam Jones returns as the veteran leader, which is crazy by itself. This defense is still waiting on Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick to play like the first rounders that they are. The secondary will really be hurt by the departure of safety Reggie Nelson. This Bengals team will probably have the same issues as it did a season ago but I think the individual talent from a few will be able to carry this team for at least one more trip to the postseason. Hopefully, they can be healthier than last year. But even if then, this team just seems allergic to winning big time ball games. With a few downgrades on the roster, can Marvin Lewis survive yet another disappointing ending? Prediction: 10-6 (Wildcard)

Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens had a worst-case scenario type of season in 2015. And they were still able to beat the rival Steelers twice. With all the injuries they had a season ago, Baltimore fans can enter 2016 with a sense of optimism. QB Joe Flacco is back, the offensive line is retooled, and the talent at the skill positions seems solid. At RB, Justin Forsett will be looking to bounce back from an injury and depth behind him at the position is pretty good with Javorius Allen and Terrance West. The WR position looks bleaker than I originally thought. I’m excited to see the return of Steve Smith in his final season but I’m disappointed that last year’s first rounder, Breshad Perriman, is still fighting to get on the field because of injuries. Kamar Aiken and Chris Matthews are decent receivers but they are not gonna demand the ball or take away attention from the defense like top receivers do. But Flacco does like going to the TE’s a lot and the Ravens have a wealth of talent at that postion. Dennis Pitta is ready to return from a season long injury, Crockett Gilmore and Maxx Williams have plenty of ability, and they signed Benjamin Watson who is one of the most respected players in the league. I don’t know what Perriman will bring to the table once healthy but until then, Flacco will be sorely missing a deep threat on this offense. Baltimore is really going to have to do well upfront at run blocking and keeping Flacco healthy. On defense, Baltimore isn’t the elite unit that it once was but they are a veteran laden group. On the defensive line, they have a group that is still relatively young and average. The strength of this defense comes from the group of linebackers. The outside pass rushing roles will be held down again by veterans Elvis Dumervil and appearing in perhaps his last season, Terrell Suggs. The real star is in the middle of the defense where CJ Mosley plays. Mosley is probably among the best LB’s in the league and he is just entering his third season. Baltimore’s secondary will receiver a boost this season as they brought in veteran safety Eric Weddle. Paired up with Lardarius Webb, they will form one of the better safety combos in the league. At corner, the Ravens don’t have a lot of depth, as Jimmy Smith is the only standout player. Baltimore will be hungry this year to bounce back after that disaster that was 2015. But they are a little “long in the tooth” when it comes to age and their overall talent just isn’t where it was year’s ago when they where mainstays in the playoffs. I think the Ravens will improve and compete for a playoff spot but I don’t see them playing past December. Prediction: 9-7

Cleveland Browns – Going into 2016, it is the same old sad story for the Browns. The prior plan at leadership didn’t work. Management has brought in the next head coach. Sweeping changes are on the way. Etc. Etc. Etc. Why will this time be any different? Hue Jackson is coming off some successful seasons coaching behind Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati and Jackson wasn’t awful in his last head gig in Oakland. Jackson is a good offensive coach and his players usually like him a lot. I would trust Jackson to build this team in his image but we have to consider that he is now in Cleveland, which has always been an impossible situation. I’m rooting for Jackson and I really hope that the Cleveland brass give him the time that Oakland didn’t give him. Cleveland really needs to solidify the QB position in 2016. Robert Griffin III was brought in from Washington and he enters a great situation with Jackson who has a rep for getting the most out of his QB’s. I think Griffin can show flashes of his former self in Cleveland this season. The issue will be keeping him healthy for 16 games. Cleveland also needs to build up that offensive line. Joe Thomas and Cameron Erving maybe be solid pieces but that unit, as a whole needs to be great if they hope to have RG3 for most of the season. It would be nice if Griffin had a running game to lean on. RB’s Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson have plenty of ability but they are both very inconsistent. I’m really excited at what the Browns could have at the WR position in 2016. First round pick, Corey Coleman, is drawing comparisons to a young Steve Smith. QB turned WR, Terrelle Pryor, is already turning heads in the preseason. And WR Josh Gordon is scheduled to return from suspension in Week 5. If Gordon can reinvent himself while being the player that he once was and if Pryor can carry over his play from the preseason, the Browns could have one of the most talented WR cores in the league. The real key will be if Griffin can return to form under the tutelage of coach Jackson. Almost forgot to mention that the Browns also have a great TE in Gary Barnidge. They just happen to have a lot to offer at the receiving positions in 2016. On defense, the Browns have some promising youngsters but overall they need a lot of help. On the defensive line, last year’s first round pick Danny Shelton will be looking forward to being the leader they drafted him to be. The young movement upfront will be fully in place this season with Xavier Cooper and rookie Carl Nassib likely playing aside Shelton. Cleveland has suffered for years at pressuring the opponent’s QB. Paul Kruger is a player that can rush the passer but he is getting up there in age and the Browns don’t have another guy like him starting on the other side. Cleveland will be hoping for LB Nate Orchard to step it up in his second year but also look out for touted rookie Emmanuel Ogbah. The Browns let Karlos Dansby go so, younger veterans, Demario Davis and Christian Kirksey, will lead the middle of the defense in 2016. Cleveland’s secondary will be a problem area again especially after they loss starting safety Tashaun Gibson in free agency. CB Joe Haden is one of the best corners in the league but fellow first rounder, Justin Gilbert, has been a massive disappointment. Its going to be interesting to see what Hue Jackson can do with the pieces they have on offense but Cleveland will be seriously short staffed defensively in 2016. Again, the Browns are years away from contending and the real question will be if Jackson will be around long enough to help build up the rest of the roster. Prediction: 4-12

2016 NFL Draft Grades: AFC

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

AFC EAST

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

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

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

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

AFC NORTH

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

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

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

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

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

AFC SOUTH

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

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

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

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

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

AFC WEST

NCAA Football: National Championship-Ohio State vs Oregon

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

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

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

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

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

Elias McMillan’s 2016 NFL MOCK Draft!

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 21 Chattanooga at Florida State

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

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

ROUND ONE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Detroit could go from Megatron to Mega-quon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROUND TWO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Derrick Henry is a literal monster playing running back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Throwback Thursday: Revisiting my 2011 NFL MOCK Draft

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

NFL 2015: Week 17 Predictions! (Condensed Version)

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After getting smacked around by the Cardinals last week, the Packers must rebound at home with the division title on the line.

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 154-86

 

Week 17 Picks (Condensed Version)

New Orleans @ Atlanta – Atlanta’s defense showed up last week and the Falcons seem to be ready to ride on the momentum of their defense into the offseason. There is a lot of grumbling going on in New Orleans concerning the future of the head coach and the QB. Pick: Falcons

New York Jets @ Buffalo – The Jets really flexed their muscles last week and got an unlikely victory at home vs. New England. This game on Sunday in Buffalo is a playoff game for them so I would expect them to come out guns a-blazing. Weird things can happen in these divisional games especially if you’re a road favorite. But I watched the Bills last week and I can tell you that they stink. Remember the first meeting between these teams? Remember the lasting image of Rex Ryan celebrating wildly. I bet that the Jets didn’t forget that. Todd Bowles should be the coach of the year in the NFL. The Jets were supposed to be a sinking ship when he took that job. Now, they’ll be heading to the post season after Sunday. Sorry Pittsburgh fans but the Jets are in. Pick: Jets

Detroit @ Chicago – Detroit has responded well in the 2nd half of this season and they are playing for the future of their head coach Jim Caldwell. Caldwell has won over that locker room and hopefully, that can save his job. For the Bears, this maybe the last home game for star RB, Matt Forte. Pick: Lions

Baltimore @ Cincinnati – I doubt that the Ravens will be up for this game like they were last week at home vs. Pittsburgh. Cincinnati still has a lot to play for as they could be looking at a bye week from wild-card weekend with a win and a Denver loss. Cincy also needs some momentum period before their season ends in heartbreaking fashion next weekend. Pick: Bengals

Pittsburgh @ Cleveland – Whatever the Steelers did last weekend in Baltimore may have cost them a playoff spot. Its funny how fast things can change in the NFL. Two weeks ago, most of the talking heads were saying that the Steelers would be the most dangerous team in the post season. Question: how can you be the most dangerous team in the post season when you don’t even make the post season? Anyways, on Sunday I don’t see the Browns showing much fight at home with their head coach’s job on the line potentially. You think that locker room gives a crap about Mike Pettine? Pick: Steelers

Washington @ Dallas – Kirk Cousins is going to play in this game and I don’t know why. I think the Dallas organization and even the fans are starting to like the idea of having a top 5 pick in the draft. Lets chop up the 2015 season as a mulligan for coach Jason Garrett. A healthy Romo, a healthy Dex, and some high draft picks. Happy New Year, Jerry! Pick: Washington

Tennessee @ Indianapolis – This game will be interesting because it will be a battle between who will want to lose more. The Titans probably want the number one overall pick. The Colts are on the verge of firing their head coach and starting some guy off the street at QB on Sunday. This game will be ugly. Pick: Colts

New England @ Miami – The Patriots still need to lock up home field in the AFC with a victory this week. The Dolphins stink and it also stinks that they probably wont bring back interim head coach Dan Campbell. Pick: Patriots

Philadelphia @ New York Giants – Chip Kelly got fired and the Giants are about to do the same with Tom Coughlin. The Eagles are completely lost and are just looking forward to the offseason. You could say the same for the Giants but Odell Beckham Jr. will be all juiced up after returning from suspension. Expect a lot of dancing from him. Pick: Giants

Jacksonville @ Houston – The Texans need to wrap up the AFC South with a victory at home on Sunday. And for some good news: starting QB Brian Hoyer will be active and starting. Pick: Texans

San Diego @ Denver – Denver has a lot of questions offensively going into the post season but worst come to worst, they do have a reliable defense. Pick: Broncos

Oakland @ Kansas City – The Chiefs still have something to play for after clinching a playoff berth. Oakland could very well play spoiler in this game. I think Kansas City’s offense will have more chances to score than Oakland’s offense against that Chiefs defense. Pick: Chiefs

Seattle @ Arizona – I’m not sure if I fully trust Arizona going into the post season. And I probably feel the same about Seattle but at least they have experience on their side. Seattle is penciled in for one of the wild-card spots in the playoffs so I question their motivation for this road game. Arizona could win home field in the NFC outright with a win and some help. Pick: Cardinals

St. Louis @ San Francisco – The Rams played well last week but once again their season will be about how they’ve underachieved again. I don’t see how that organization brings back Jeff Fisher. And they’ll probably play great again on the road this week at San Fran. Pick: Rams

Tampa Bay @ Carolina – I thought the Panthers would win out but I was wrong. Now, they have to win this one to fend off Arizona for home field throughout the NFC playoffs. Tampa Bay wont make the post season but they’ll enter the offseason with high hopes. The team did perform better under head coach Lovie Smith and Jameis Winston could be what Cam Newton is now. Pick: Panthers

Minnesota @ Green Bay – The Packers punked Minnesota in their first meeting this season. Green Bay had its issues this season but they are starting to turn it around just in time for the playoffs. Minnesota played well last week at home and they are hoping that carries over into this week. Minnesota can admit to blinking when it comes to playing the Packers, which doesn’t give me much confidence in them in this game. I think Minnesota has the talent to upset Green Bay on the road but I doubt their willingness to execute and to have the killer instinct needed. Pick: Packers

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Matt Ryan (Falcons) – This is more about the Saints secondary and less about Matt Ryan.

RB: DeAngelo Williams (Steelers) – Williams should receive a huge amount of carries against Cleveland’s run defense.

WR: Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants) – Coming off the suspension, Beckham Jr. will show on chill on Sunday vs. the Eagles. More attempts at one handed grabs (when he could have easily used two). More dancing. More antics.

TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – Kelce is coming off two straight games with 5 or more cataches.

DEF: St. Louis – The Rams defense did a number on Seattle on the road. They have another strong performance at San Francisco.