Tag Archives: Cleveland Browns

2018 NFL MOCK Draft! (With Trades!)

mc-penn-state-saquon-barkley-big-ten-20151201

Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is the best player in this draft. Should Cleveland take him with the first overall pick?

By: Elias McMillan

 

It’s draft week and it is finally time for me to unveil my mock draft. Mock drafts can be classified as mostly pointless. Probably because we are overly saturated with them from the moment football season ends. I realized this and I ask myself, “How can I make my mock draft even more pointless?” This is how I arrived at the idea of doing my first mock draft with trades. Now, I’ll have selections and trade scenarios that probably will not happened. With that being said, (once again) the Cleveland Browns are on the clock…..

ROUND ONE

1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC: Cleveland has the first overall pick again this year and this time, they will not pass on a QB. With that decision, they are risking missing out of the best player in the draft. But they do have enough assets to maybe trade up to the very next pick. With this selection, the Browns will give themselves a potential QB of the future to groom behind Tyrod Taylor. Sam Darnold will be the first QB taken in the draft for the same reason why Mitch Trubisky went at number two last year: potential. Darnold may not be ready to play right away but he has the potential to be a top QB in the league. There are QB’s in this draft that may have a better arm and may be more athletically gifted than Darnold, but he is play maker. We can’t get too wrapped up around arm strength. Darnold can get the ball out to his playmakers as well as any QB in this draft.

((((TRADE)))) Giants trade second overall pick and 4th rounder (108) to Bills for 12th overall pick, 22nd overall, 2nd round pick (56), and a 2019 1st round pick

2. Buffalo Bills – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: After dumping Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland, Buffalo needs to make the big move up to grab a franchise QB. The Giants could very well take a QB or the best player available here. But they seem to be committed to Eli Manning for one more year (for some reason) and I think the Bills will give the Giants an offer that they can’t refuse. It would be funny if the Giants said no to THREE first rounders just to draft a running back but I don’t see that happening. The Giants will gain future assets with the haul from Buffalo and the Bills will get a QB in Rosen who is the most pro ready out of this draft class.

3. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: The Jets traded up with the Colts to take a QB and I have them taking the Heisman winner out of Oklahoma. Baker Mayfield has been a lightning rod for discussion for some reason during this draft process. I think Mayfield has plenty of question marks from his hype and his attitude but I think he is a good player. My issue with him is that he has most likely peaked already as a QB. Mayfield was a walk-on at a D-1 program and ended up winning the Heisman at one of the most storied programs in college football. Its an amazing story. For him to be successful at the next level, I think he needs time to soak up information in a veteran heavy locker room in order to humble himself. The Jets already have a couple of vets at the position so, Mayfield will have plenty of time to study up and later prove himself.

4. Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: This is the dream scenario if your Cleveland. You take a risk with drafting a QB first overall but then the best player in the draft is still available at the fourth pick. I have been a long time supporter of NOT drafting a running back in the top 10 of the draft but I’m willing to ignore that this time because of the team involved. My thing is that team’s that regularly compete for championships usually do not draft RB’s early. Well, Cleveland isn’t competing for championships anytime soon. They just need to best talent. I think Barkley was better at Penn State than Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette were in college. Barkley has everything you would want at the RB position and he would join a talented RB group in Cleveland, which will be key for keeping him fresh. Barkley could totally transform the Browns offense and the league, as he reminds me of the second coming of Marshall Faulk.

5. Denver Broncos – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: I don’t believe that John Elway is ready to roll with Case Keenum. I’m not a big fan of Josh Allen but I know that he’ll probably end up going after Mayfield in the draft. Allen has the strongest arm in the draft and is sort of athletic, so the scouts absolutely love him. I feel like QB’s like him always look the part during the process getting to the draft but then they end up not panning out. I can see Denver falling for this in this draft.

6. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State: The Colts, who traded back, will end the run on QB’s. Bradley Chubb is the best pass rusher in this draft. Chubb isn’t as dynamic as an athlete as last year’s number one pick, Myles Garrett. But he is still really good and the Colts sack totals as a team last season ranked among the bottom in the league. They could absolutely use his talents.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama: Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the most versatile players in this draft. Tampa could use him as a ball hawk safety or as a pass defender in nickel situations. Fitzpatrick has a knack for making plays around the football and thats something that the Bucs defense could use. Their pass defense ranked last in the league in 2017.

8. Chicago Bears – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech: The Bears need a new inside presence at linebacker. Edmunds looks like he could play for the Bulls. He is crazy athletic but plays with a certain physicality that will make him popular with Chicago fans.

((((TRADE)))) 49ers trade ninth overall pick to Giants for 12th overall pick and 2nd round pick (34).

9. New York Giants – Quentin Nelson, OG, Notre Dame: After trading out of the top ten, the Giants return to help their offensive line. Nelson is regarded as the best offensive lineman in the draft and drafting him could go a long ways in helping the Giants run game improve.

10. Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia: Roquan Smith is probably the best LB in the draft and rumor has it that Jon Gruden really likes him. Smith could probably go higher than 10 but there are some whispers about injury concerns. But if healthy, Smith will be a do-it-all defender in the middle of the Raiders defense for years to come.

11. Miami Dolphins – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama: The Dolphins need a Ndamukong Suh replacement. Payne is a disruptor that would shine in Miami’s 4-3 scheme.

12. San Francisco 49ers – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: The Niners will land the best corner in the draft. Ward is a short but scrappy defender. He offers great speed and quickness while supplying ideal support in the run game as a tackler. Richard Sherman will serve as a great mentor for him.

13. Washington – Vita Vea, DT, Washington: Washington had the worst run defense in the league last season despite having one of the better defensive tackles dropping to them in the first round of last year’s draft. Vita Vea is an absolute load that will demand plenty of attention from opposing offensive lineman.

14. Green Bay Packers – Marcus Davenport, OLB/DE, UTSA: I think the Packers will think hard about taking a WR here but I also think they need to start thinking about life after Clay Matthews. I have them taking Marcus Davenport. He’s a small school product but is one of the best edge defenders in this draft.

lamar-jackson-louisville-cardinals-football-2016-all-america-team

Lamar Jackson probably should be drafted in the top ten.

15. Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: I don’t like the way Arizona handled their QB situation during this offseason. Placing your faith in Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon doesn’t really inspire much confidence. But it does tell me that they need to think about taking a QB for the future. Lamar Jackson is as talented as any QB in this draft. There are question marks about his durability, his arm, and his talent as a passer. But you could easily say the same about every QB in this draft. Jackson may have to prove himself as a passer early in his career but he has one thing that is undeniable in his wheelhouse: speed. Jackson has “home run” capable speed in his arsenal, which will make him attractive to NFL teams. I think Arizona would be smart to take a chance with this kid who won the Heisman as a junior in college.

16. Baltimore Ravens – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame: Baltimore could go a lot of ways with this selection. I chose for them to play it safe and shore up the right side of their offensive line. The Ravens could potentially take Joe Flacco’s successor here or a new weapon in the passing game. But, an offensive tackle to help that offense isn’t a bad idea.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Derwin James, S, Florida State: This will probably be consider a steal in most draft circles. Derwin James is a “do-it-all” defender in the secondary. I question how high his ceiling is as he doesn’t seem like a great pass defender but more of a “in-the-box” safety. But his athleticism and physicality will help him become very successful no matter the role he finds in the secondary.

18. Seattle Seahawks – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa: Richard Sherman is gone. The Legion of Boom is going under a face lift and a corner here would make a ton of sense.

((((TRADE)))) Cowboys trade 19th overall pick and 4th round pick (116) to Patriots for 23rd overall pick and 2nd round pick (63).

19. New England Patriots – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA: The Patriots desperately need a replacement for Nate Solder on the offensive line. So, they’ll trade up with Dallas to grab the next best tackle. Kolton Miller will remain Patriots fans of Solder with how tall he is and hopefully with his play. New England will need Miller to play at a high level right away especially for an older QB.

20. Detroit Lions – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan: The Lions are looking for youth on the defensive line. Hurst, from near by Ann Arbor, is undersized but very talented as a pass rusher.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – James Daniels, C, Iowa: Cincinnati’s running game has suffered in the last couple seasons. They need to shore up the interior of their offensive line to help Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard.

22. New York Giants – Harold Landry, DE, Boston College: After trading away Jason Pierre Paul, the Giants are in need for pass rushers. Landry has been one of the top pass rushers in college football during the last two seasons. He will fill a need for the Giants who have this selection due to a trade earlier with Buffalo.

23. Dallas Cowboys – Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP: Dallas could easily go with a WR or LB in the first round. But I think the Dez Bryant release taught us that they will depend heavily on the run game going forward now more than ever. Dallas can solidify the left guard position by drafting Hernandez who is an absolute mauler.

24. Carolina Panthers – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: Cam Newton would love this selection. Ridley is the first WR off the board but he will probably go before the 24th pick. Ridley offers great speed and elite route running but he isn’t your prototypical Alabama receiver. He isn’t as physically gifted as Julio Jones and he is more like a lesser version of Amari Cooper. Ridley is a good player and he could be a good pro but he doesn’t have that “wow” factor like WR’s in past drafts.

25. Tennessee Titans – Leighton Vader Esch, LB, Boise State: Vader Esch is another player who might go closer to the middle of the first round despite rumors about his health. He is a good down hill tackler as a LB and he would provide some much needed depth at the position for Tennessee.

26. Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida: Florida’s Taven Bryan will offer some versatility on the Falcons defensive line. He is big enough to play inside and is athletic enough to rush from the outside. He is raw as a football player and he may be a project before becoming a full time contributor.

27. New Orleans Saints – Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina: The Saints get Drew Brees the top TE in the draft.  Hurst, a former baseball player, could help create some mismatches with his height.

sean-martin_dallas-cowboys_alabama-lb-rashaan-evans-joins-dallas-cowboys-list-of-30-visits

With the Ryan Shazier injury, Pittsburgh could really use a LB like Rashaan Evans

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama: Pittsburgh needs LB help with the status of Ryan Shazier in the air. Taking a Alabama LB has proven to be risky recently outside of Baltimore’s CJ Mosley. But Evans is among one the most talented players at the position in the draft. I think he is undersized but in a 3-4 scheme, Pittsburgh could use him in the middle or as a situational pass rusher.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars – D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland: Moore is probably my favorite WR in this draft. Moore is a quick, tough, playmaker who reminds me of another Maryland receiver: Stephon Diggs. Jacksonville should be looking for a WR after losing Allen Robinson in free agency.

30. Minnesota Vikings – Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia: Minnesota is excited about Kirk Cousins but they should really be excited about the return of Dalvin Cook who missed most of last season due to injury. With a healthy Cook and this selection of a young, upcoming guard, Minnesota could have a really strong running game.

31. New England Patriots – Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn: New England’s secondary has been a joke for a while now. They need help.

32. Philadelphia Eagles – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville: Philadelphia’s secondary isn’t that much better than New England’s. Jaire Alexander is a playmaker who does his most damage as a returner, usually after interceptions.

ROUND TWO

33. Cleveland Browns – Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford: Cleveland can address their run defense with this selection.

34. San Francisco 49ers – Justin Reid, S, Stanford: San Francisco moved on from Eric Reid so they’ll draft his little brother from nearby Stanford here.

35. Cleveland Browns – Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh: Joe Thomas retired this offseason. The Browns need young bodies on that offensive line.

36. Indianapolis Colts – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: Frank Gore left to go home to Miami. Indy desperately needs a young RB.

37. Indianapolis Colts – Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida: The Colts have two straight selections in round two. With the second one, they’ll take a corner to replace Vontae Davis who was traded away to Buffalo.

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sony Michel, RB, Georgia: Sony Michel has shot up draft boards during this process. He was considered the “second banana” in the backfield while at Georgia but he helped form one of the better RB duos in CFB. Michel isn’t the fastest RB but he can get tough yards and prove to be valuable on passing downs.

39. Chicago Bears – Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado: You can never have enough corners.

40. Denver Broncos – Ronald Jones, RB, USC: Denver recently cut C.J. Anderson and that created a need at RB.

41. Oakland Raiders – Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU: Oakland needs depth behind Donald Penn at tackle.

42. Miami Dolphins – Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State: This could be the steal of the draft. Gesicki has the ideal size and speed that team’s would want at TE. Miami needs a target at TE after the disaster that was Julius Thomas.

MasonRudolph.BrettDeering-1400x933

New England needs to find a possible Brady successor in round two. Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph could be it.

43. New England Patriots – Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State: The Patriots got rid of three different Tom Brady backups in the past two years. Rudolph would make a lot of sense here.

44. Washington – Donte Jackson, CB, LSU: Washington doesn’t have much at corner behind Norman and newly acquired Orlando Scandrick.

45. Green Bay Packers – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M: Kirk will prove to be a great receiver in the slot for Aaron Rodgers.

46. Cincinnati Bengals – Darius Leonard, OLB, South Carolina State: The Bengals need to start grooming a replacement for the problematic Vontaze Burfict at LB. Leonard is a small school product but offers much athleticism.

47. Arizona Cardinals – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma: Arizona had one of the worst offensive line last season. They need to explore a way to upgrade that unit for no matter who is starting at QB.

48. Los Angeles Chargers – Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech: The Chargers need to get younger on the defensive line. Tim Settle is one of the biggest defensive tackles in the draft and he’ll help improve LA’s run defense.

49.Indianapolis Colts – Connor Williams, OG/OT, Texas: The Colts could use a young blocker to help improve their run game. Conor Williams could play at tackle or move inside to guard.

courtland-sutton-smu

After the release of Dez Bryant, Dallas might not have to look far for WR help.

50. Dallas Cowboys – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU: Dallas created a need at WR when they released Dez Bryant last week. Courtland Sutton is a local kid who would love the chance to become an outside threat for Dak Prescott in the passing game. Sutton isn’t a speedster but his size makes it hard for defenders to deal with. He could develop as a new jump ball target in the red zone for Dallas.

51. Detroit Lions – Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State: The Lions need help at improving one of the worst running games in football from a season ago. The selection of Price would address the woes on the interior of Detroit’s offensive line.

52. Baltimore Ravens – Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana: Baltimore needs depth at LB behind all-pro C.J. Mosley.

53. Buffalo Bills – Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis: Miller could develop into an ideal slot receiver as a pro.

ardenkeylsu

Arden Key was a pass rush specialist at LSU

54. Kansas City Chiefs – Arden Key, OLB, LSU: After the departure of Tamba Hali, the Chiefs need to find younger pass rushers. Key is undersized but could excel as an outside rusher in a 3-4 defense.

55. Carolina Panthers – Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama: Carolina needs help in the secondary after addressing the offensive side of the ball earlier.

56. New York Giants – Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia: Chubb might have a lot of milage on him but he was one of the most talented backs in college football during his time at Georgia.

57. Tennessee Titans – Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia: Tennessee can use Carter for depth behind veterans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan.

58. Atlanta Falcons – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State: Atlanta never get enough out of the TE position. They need an upgrade.

59. San Francisco 49ers – Austin Corbett, OG, Nevada: This pick would be for depth for recently signed Jonathan Cooper.

60. Pittsburgh Steelers – Will Richardson, OT, NC State: Pittsburgh’s offensive line is pretty good but they aren’t getting younger. Especially at the tackle position.

61. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jerome Baker, OLB, Ohio State: Jacksonville may need a young LB to replace Paul Posluszny who recently retired.

62. Minnesota Vikings – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State: You can never have enough pass rushers.

63. Dallas Cowboys – Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State: This could be a reach but Dallas needs to think about the RB position after the retirement of Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris was not resigned. Hines is a speedy back who could develop into a Darren Sproles type player.

64. Cleveland Browns – James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State: Washington was regarded as one of the top pass catchers in the nation while at Oklahoma State. He could provide whoever is at QB with a pretty reliable target.

 

Advertisements

NFL 2017: Week 17 Predictions! (Condensed)

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 142-96

Week 17 Predictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NFL 2017: AFC Preview (Condensed)

image1

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

AFC East

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

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

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

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

 

AFC North

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

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

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

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

 

AFC South

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

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

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

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

 

AFC West

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

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

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

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

 

AFC Playoff Picture Prediction

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

Elias McMillan’s 2017 NFL MOCK Draft!

1459514190-20150905_jla_sy9_093

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.

os-fsu-dalvin-cook-heisman-trophy-hype-20160930

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.

920x920

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

leveon-bell

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

shaq-lawson-de-clemson_pg_600

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

544088cc8f46f.image

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

2-myles-jack-ucla_pg_600

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-