Tag Archives: Los Angeles Chargers

2020 NFL Mock Draft (Three Rounds!)

2020-nfl-draft-tua-tagovailoa-1

This year’s draft will hinge on which team will take a chance on QB Tua Tagovailoa.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, this year’s NFL Draft will be different to say the least. And because of social distancing, teams will have a harder time making evaluations on players as many pro days and one-on-one interviews had to be canceled. With those factors considered, one scout was recently quoted saying “Mock Drafts everywhere will probably be all over the place, not even being close to resembling what the teams are really thinking”. That being said, I’m feeling REAL good about my mock this year. And because of all the time I’ve had to work on it, for the first time, I mocked the first 3 rounds! It’s not exciting. It’s not worthy of an exclamation point. I’ll never do that again. Anyways. Cincinnati, you’re up…..

ROUND 1

1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU: This will be one of those drafts where the first overall pick was determined back when the college football season ended. QB Joe Burrow took the NCAA by storm in 2019 winning the Heisman and leading his LSU Tigers to a national championship. Though loaded with talent, Burrow was the triggerman for the Tiger offense, accounting for 60 touchdowns. Now, Burrow will have the chance to turn around a franchise needing a change at QB from Andy Dalton.

2. Washington – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State: Washington has an interesting decision to make at pick number two. They could either trade the pick to a QB needy franchise or they could just take the best player in the draft. I think they will choose the latter. Washington wouldn’t exactly be drafting for need here but the addition of Young would make that defensive front seven one of the best units in the league. Young is your prototype blue-chipper at defensive end. With elite size and speed, he dominated during most of his college career and he should be on pace to be an outstanding pro.

*****TRADE***** Lions trade 3rd overall pick to Dolphins for 5th overall pick, 18th overall pick, 4th round pick (141), and a 2021 1st round pick.

3. Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama: Miami has three picks in the first round and I don’t believe they attend to keep them. I think the Dolphins will pull the trigger, throw caution to the wind, and make the big trade in this draft for the player they’ve wanted since 2018. Miami has the assets to pull off such a deal. The only question will be with finding the right trade partner. Washington is a candidate but they would be missing out on the best player in the draft. Detroit on the other hand really has nothing to lose. Three first round draft picks is a steep price for a player with durability issues. But Miami can afford it. If healthy, Tua is talented enough as a passer where he probably would have gone first overall. If he’s healthy, great. If not, you can sit him a year. This is all weighing him showing that big time talent once he’s healthy.

4. New York Giants – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia: The Giants have a chance to grab a talented football player at the 4th overall spot. They could do that with Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons. But I think they’ll go to the other side of the ball and think about protecting their future franchise QB, Daniel Jones. Thomas, out of Georgia, has been rising up draft boards and he’ll help improve an offensive line that struggled in 2019.

5. Detroit Lions – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State: Detroit trades back and still gets the corner they need. The Lions traded away Darius Slay in the offseason but signed veteran Desmond Trufant in a responding move. They still need to get younger at that CB position as their pass defense was the worst in football last year. Okudah is regarded as the best corner in this year’s draft so; this selection for Detroit would make sense to me.

6. Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon: When you look at the Chargers roster, you’ll see that quarterback is a glaring need. I don’t know why the Chargers haven’t reached out to one of the free agents (Newton, Winston) but I don’t believe is it because they have big time faith into Tyrod Taylor. This tells me that they are thinking “QB. No matter what” in the first round. If they wont trade up for Tua, my guess is they’ll be okay with picking this kid out of Oregon. Justin Herbert could have left college a year ago and been a top pick but he decided to stay at Oregon where he really didn’t improve his draft status but he also didn’t hurt it. I see Herbert as an average player that shouldn’t go in the top-10 but sometimes these QBs find a way to get drafted earlier than they should. I think Herbert throws a good ball and is more athletic than you might think. That may be good enough for the Chargers to take a chance with him at pick number 6 overall.

7. Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn: Carolina is going to have to be good defensively if they hope to compete in the NFC South in the near future. Right now, their defensive line looks depleted and they need space eaters up front so that LB group can make plays. I think Derrick Brown fits the build for what the Panthers need up front at 315 pounds. I watched his highlight reel and this guy is throwing offensive lineman into QB’s and literally suplexing ball carriers. He’s a disrupter.

8. Arizona Cardinals – Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama: The SEC continues to dominate this mock draft. I criticized Arizona for not taking Nick Bosa last year over their future franchise QB Kyler Murray. Now that they have Murray, I think Arizona better start investing in that offensive line. Depending on aging veterans who get injured isn’t going to cut it. Many consider Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr. to be the best offensive tackle in the draft.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson: Jacksonville is in the middle of a messy rebuild so it may not be the best locker room environment for any rookie. But with DE Yannick Ngakoue looking for the next train leaving Duval, the Jags could select the most versatile defender in the draft. Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons can make an impact for any defense as a pass rusher or in coverage as a linebacker or safety. I think the Jaguars are in the market for a young beast at linebacker since the sudden retirement of Telvin Smith. They’ll be thrilled for the opportunity to take Simmons at 9.

10. Cleveland Browns – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville: Up front, the Browns were average at best offensively. They should honestly call Washington about trading for Trent Williams. If they want all those skill players to help boost the offense, Baker Mayfield is going to need protection. Mekhi Becton is a monster at 6’7 but is also an accomplished player at tackle earning All-ACC honors in 2019. He’ll help Cleveland get younger at that position while developing into the team’s future starting left tackle.

11. New York Jets – Tristan Wirfs, OT/OG, Iowa: This a deep wide receiver class so the Jets will wait to address that position. Instead, I think the Jets need to make sure they getting the most of Le’Veon Bell. They had the 2nd worst run offense in the league last season and if you watched this offense in 2019, you’ll see that it wasn’t the player’s fault. The Jets need to invest up front and Tristan Wirfs is a mauler. Able to play tackle or guard, they will find a place for him early in his career on this offensive line.

12. Las Vegas Raiders – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama: The Raiders have an “Antonio Brown” sized hole in their receiver room and they have the choice of any player at that position in this draft. This WR class is deep but everyone knows that there are three standouts at the top. Any of them could end up getting selected first but I think it is going to be Jeudy. The All-American is coming off a productive college career and his top end speed should allow him to be a constant deep threat for Derek Carr.

13. San Francisco 49ers – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina: After trading away DeForest Buckner, the 49ers would be real lucky if this disrupter falls to them at 12. Kinlaw has been long rumored to be a top-10 selection in the draft even before his final season as a Gamecock started. If you ever watched a South Carolina game, you would notice Kinlaw as the huge person in the middle of the field pushing the opposition backwards. Kinlaw offers great size and athleticism. He’ll be a factor as a pro against the run or as an interior rusher.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida: I’m thinking if Tampa Bay is really investing into Tom Brady for the next few years, they might be looking for pass protection at this pick. But I feel if the top 4 offensive linemen are gone, they won’t reach for one. Instead, how about improving that secondary that was 30th in the league last season. Florida’s CJ Henderson is a long and lanky dude with elite speed. They could use him in Tampa.

Lamb202015. Denver Broncos – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma: Denver gets a big target here for QB Drew Lock. Lamb may be the best receiver from this talented class. He is your future #1 WR who was the top target of 2 of the last 3 Heisman trophy winners, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Lamb is a possession receiver who can catch balls over the middle and can go up and get it in the redzone.

16. Atlanta Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson, DE/OLB, LSU: Atlanta ranked near the bottom of the league in sacks last season and they parted ways with edge rusher Vic Beasley. Chaisson is a promising prospect at just 20 years old but was a defensive MVP on a talented LSU Tiger defense. Scouts say that Chaisson has a “high ceiling” meaning that he could develop into a premiere pass rusher in the NFL.

17. Dallas Cowboys – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama: Dallas might be thinking defense with the departures of Robert Quinn and Byron Jones. But I think they’ll be okay with one of the top 3 WR falling to them. The Cowboys had a great passing attack in 2019 but this would put them over the top. Ruggs offers game changing speed, which will make him a threat every time he touches the ball.

18. Detroit Lions – Grant Delpit, S, LSU: After taking the top corner in the draft earlier, Detroit gets the chance here to remake their secondary with the extra pick from Miami. At the top of the safety class this year are two guys from the SEC. I think LSU’s Grant Delpit separates from the group as more of a ballhawk type of player. Though it may not matter in the fall, Delpit’s time in the 40 also may put him over.

19. Las Vegas Raiders – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma: After helping their offense with the 12th pick, the Raiders go to the defensive side with this selection. Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray plays with great intensity and just flies to the football. He’s the type of the player that Coach Gruden gravitates to and says “Hey man. You know what? (Nods) You’re a good football player, man.”

20. Jacksonville Jaguars – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama: Once upon time, Jacksonville had a slew of young defensive studs. And it was good. Good enough to almost make a Super Bowl. Two years later and that foundation has since then fallen apart. Now, Jacksonville must reload on defense, which is why I think they’ll spend their second 1stround pick on Alabama safety Xavier McKinney. Now, Delpit from LSU might be a hair faster but McKinney offers similar speed and is more of a thumper defending the run.

21. Philadelphia Eagles – Austin Jackson, OT, USC: Eagles fans will be screaming for a wide out here at 21 but their roster has major holes at other positions. Take for example: offensive tackle, where mainstay Jason Peters was not retained. If the Eagles are going to stick with injury prone QB Carson Wentz, they are going to need a new left tackle. USC’s Austin Jackson might be a reach but I think Philly needs him especially with Washington landing Chase Young.

22. Minnesota Vikings – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU: Minnesota got this pick by trading away a wide out so, they’ll aim to replace him here. Justin Jefferson has been described as “QB friendly”. Despite being barely above 6 feet, Jefferson built a solid college career by always getting open and being able to play well on the outside or in the slot. He’ll fit in well opposite Adam Thielen in the Vikings passing attack.

23. New England Patriots – Zach Baun, LB, Wisconsin: The Patriots could go many ways with this selection but I think they’ll give attention to a defense that was their strength last year but will be missing many pieces due to free agency. New England may be looking at the linebacker position as Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins left for new teams. Wisconsin’s Zach Baun doesn’t look like a typical NFL linebacker but his talent makes him stand out. Considered a sleeper but rising across many draft boards, Baun is a sure tackler and is a demon coming off the edge. Again size might be an issue but he is described as a grinder. The type of player that would catch the attention of Coach Bill Belichick. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pats think about their QB situation here too.

24. New Orleans Saints – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State: I really don’t know what the Saints will do with this first round pick. If you look at their roster, you don’t really see many glaring holes. Except at backup QB; a position on a football team not usually addressed in the first round. But consider this: Teddy Bridgewater is now in Carolina, Taysom Hill is on a restricted one-year deal, and the face of the franchise is about really to hang ‘em up. Jordan Love is a small school product but he sits tall in the pocket and throws a really good ball. What a great situation it would be for him to learn under Brees and Sean Payton and eventually lead this Saints team into the new decade.

25. Minnesota Vikings – Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State: With their second 1st round pick, Minnesota may be looking to replace veteran DE Everson Griffen who left via free agency. Yetur Gross-Matos, probably the best name in the draft, was a productive all-conference player at Happy Valley and would be a fit as an edge rusher in a 4-3 defense.

26. Miami Dolphins – Josh Jones, OT, Houston: After trading three 1st rounders to get Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins could look to add some protection for their investment. Miami allowed the second most sacks in the league and had a league worst ranked run game. Tua Tagovailoa or not, they need to address their offensive line. Josh Jones would be the next best tackle off the board. Miami can still add other pieces later.

uamooww5y7bnqoquics227. Seattle Seahawks – AJ Epenesa, DE, Iowa: Seattle’s defense was kinda bad last year if you look at the numbers. The once-renounced secondary was ranked near the bottom in the league and they were second to last in the league in sacks. Jadeveon Clowney will not be back and I don’t think Bruce Irvin is a suitable replacement. I think Pete Carroll will consider the pass rusher out of Iowa, Epenesa. He’s not exactly a speed rusher off the edge but at 6’5 he offers tremendous size and great technique. Able to play on the edge or inside, I get major “J.J. Watt vibes” watching his highlight tape. His size and length make him a chore for any offensive lineman and I think he could develop into a great defender.

28. Baltimore Ravens – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU: With the moves the Ravens have already made in this offseason, you would think that upgrading the defense is a priority. I feel that they still haven’t recovered from the loss of C.J. Mosley. LSU’s Patrick Queen was the “QB” of a very talented defense in college. He offers great range and speed from sideline to sideline and decent coverage skills. He could eventually be a leader for this defense in the future.

29. Tennessee Titans – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU: Confession: I don’t like many of the corners in this draft. Many great athletes but not enough physicality. There are a few exceptions though. Jeff Gladney is less than 6 feet but has been one of the top corners in the Big 12 and he isn’t shy when it comes to tackling. He could help Tennessee’s aging secondary.

30. Green Bay Packers – Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado: Green Bay’s passing attack kinda had a dull season ranking 17th in the league. Shenault Jr. from Colorado could be able to help them to return to elite status. Shenault Jr. is a load for a wideout at 225 pounds but offers elite speed, running a 4.5 forty yard dash at the combine. He can be a possession receiver in the slot and a receiving threat from the backfield as a RB. Shenault Jr. may remind Packers fans of Randall Cobb.

31. San Francisco 49ers – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson: Higgins from Clemson is one of the tallest receivers in this draft class. But other than height, he offers big play capability every time he touches the ball. Higgins displays excellent hands, ball skills, and underrated speed. He’ll fit right in with a San Francisco offense looking for more young playmakers.

32. Kansas City Chiefs – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU: And the first round ends with another member of the National Champions. The Super Bowl Champion, Chiefs, did not retain a couple of their corners and they are looking a little thin at that position. I like Fulton who showed his toughness in press situations last season starting in all 15 games for the Tigers during their championship run. Leading the secondary in pass breakups, he’ll be a welcomed member of the Chiefs secondary along side fellow Tiger, Tyrann Mathieu.

ROUND 2

33. Cincinnati Bengals – Akeen Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State: To start the second round, I have the Bengals turning attention to their defense. They’ve addressed their secondary in free agency so here they’ll go linebacker with this small school product. Davis-Gaither is one of those undersized linebackers that defensive coaches value because of their ability to slip past blocks and make tackles.

34. Indianapolis Colts – Terrell Lewis, DE/LB, Alabama: The Colts traded their first round pick for some interior help on the defensive line. With their first 2nd round pick, they’ll aim to add some speed to their outside rush. Alabama’s Terrell Lewis may have had some injury problems in college but when healthy, he can be a force off the edge. Lewis is an incredible athlete for a guy north of 250 lbs. and that combination of size and speed could serve this Colts defense well.

35. Detroit Lions – Julian Okwara, DE, Notre Dame: Detroit already addressed their defense in the first round but the brother angle here is too good to pass up. The Lions already have Romeo Okwara so how about drafting his little brother Julian from Notre Dame. Julian is a versatile pass rusher that can also make plays as a linebacker.

36. New York Giants – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama: Trevon Diggs will probably go higher in the draft but I just didn’t like him as much as a prospect. Diggs offers great length and speed but lacks physicality. He does have great skills when the ball is in his hands. The Giants would fill a need here as their pass defense ranked near the bottom last season.

37. Los Angeles Chargers – Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State: Looking at the Chargers roster just frustrates me. Not only is it screaming “JUST SIGN CAM NEWTON”, the Chargers only have two, yes, TWO running backs under contract. But this scenario, I would imagine they will look for help at tackle to protect their future franchise QB they got in the 1st round.

38. Carolina Panthers – A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson: Carolina is looking thin in the secondary. Terrell took a beating in the National Championship game in college and they keep reminding us about it. Despite that, he’s a pretty good prospect and he’ll be looking to bounce back with a chip on his shoulder as a rookie.

Swift202039. Miami Dolphins – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia: Finally, the first running back comes off the board. Miami continues to add to its young offense with the back from Georgia. Swift isn’t the speedster that his name suggests but he’s kind of a “do-it-all” type of back. I mean, he does have speed but he can also run between the tackles and be a consistent target as a receiver.

40. Houston Texans – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: Might start to see a string of RBs being selected? Probably not. But I could see Houston taking a flyer on one of the most productive backs from CFB. Taylor’s workload in college might have been heavy but I don’t understand why that would hurt his stock. Taylor is your prototypical 3 down back that would fit in any scenario in the backfield.

41. Cleveland Browns – Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State: On first thought, I didn’t think the Browns were thin at WR but they are. If that’s the case, they’ll love this speedy dude out of the Pac-12. There are similar guys at WR in this draft but what pops on Aiyuk’s tape is his smoothness. The way he gets in and out of his cuts. He has crazy vision and speed, which makes him dangerous with every possession. He does carry a bit of an injury concern but he could be a real difference maker for this Browns offense. And you can’t forget his return abilities on special teams. This would be a real good get for Cleveland.

42. Jacksonville Jaguars – Cam Akers, RB, Florida State: Leonard Fournette will be the next “veteran” to part from what was once a great roster in Jacksonville. But while he is still under contract, Jacksonville can attempt to get the most out of their running game by drafting his maybe replacement in the 2nd round. Cam Akers is a better player than what he showed in college, as he just happened to play on some bad offenses. At barely 6 feet, he displays toughness and getaway speed with each carry.

43. Chicago Bears – Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma: Chicago has two selections in the 2nd round. With this pick, I see them adding some youth to their defensive front. Gallimore was a big time disrupter as a Sooner, earning the incredibly awesome nickname, “The Canadian Bulldozer”.

44. Indianapolis Colts – Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor: With their second pick in this round, the Colts decide to add a new dimension to their passing attack. Mims is an intriguing prospect with the ability to go up and get the ball in red zone situations. His stock has been rising recently and he might go sooner than 44.

45. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia: The Buccaneers can add some protection for their newly signed QB with this selection. Wilson is not just the “other tackle from Georgia” in this draft. Wilson showed promise against some of the best pass rushers in the SEC and at just 20 years old, he has time to develop.

46. Denver Broncos – Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn: Good luck pronouncing that last name. Noah was one of the corners in this draft who I thought had good tape. A physical competitor, this receiver turned cornerback will be a good addition for Denver.

47. Atlanta Falcons – Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia: Atlanta might be thinking about a corner with this pick, as Desmond Trufant is now a Lion. Hall may be a forgotten prospect because of health reasons but if healthy, many say he would be a first rounder.

48. New York Jets – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU: The Jets are in desperate need for a playmaker at wide receiver. Reagor is not only tough for his size but his speed is undeniable. The Jets would be lucky if he were to drop to them in the second round.

49. Pittsburgh Steelers – Marlon Davidson, DE, Auburn: I see the Steelers getting younger up front with this selection. I was just blown away after watching this guys highlights and thought he is a fit for Pittsburgh. At 305 lbs., this guy is active up front and is the ideal size for a defensive end in a 3-4 defense. He played on the outside in college and I wondered how was that possible. Then, I watched the highlight reel and the guy is crazy athletic for his size and was a major disrupter coming from every point at the line of scrimmage. I had to go back and change the pick after watching his highlights. It just looked like such a Steeler pick here with Davidson.

usa_today_11157508.153598795250. Chicago Bears – Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota: Eddie Jackson has emerged as a great player and leader for the Chicago secondary at free safety. With Ha-Ha Clinton Dix gone, the Bears can draft their next strong safety of the future by selecting this Golden Gopher. Winfield Jr., son of a former NFL player, has shown great promise while at Minnesota. Despite his 5’9 frame, Winfield is a striker as a tackler and an absolute ball hawk in zone coverage. He’ll be a great fit in this defense. He might develop into a “Bob Sanders” type player.

51. Dallas Cowboys – Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State: The Cowboys loves their BSU Broncos. I guarantee they’ll add another one in this draft. It will be this guy or the receiver, Hightower. But anyways, Dallas will be on the hunt for another edge rusher with the departure of Robert Quinn. After not addressing this in the first round, they’ll find the MWC defensive player of the year in this round. Weaver had a productive final season at Boise State and he just fits what the Cowboys usually draft. Unheralded and maybe underrated, Weaver could be a nice surprise for any team.

52. Los Angeles Rams – Josh Uche, DE/LB, Michigan: The Rams probably need pass rush help with Dante Fowler signing with Atlanta. Uche would be a fit for them with their second round pick. Though undersized, Uche showed great pass rushing ability and versatility while at Michigan.

53. Philadelphia Eagles – KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State: The Eagles finally get some receiver help in the second round. Hamler is one of the smallest players in the draft but also might be the fastest. Hamler is able to use his speed to get open; jumping in and out of cut like a jackrabbit. His ability to stretch defenses will be valuable, as it will free up space for his teammates. This would be a good get for Philadelphia.

54. Buffalo Bills – Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU: I went back and forth with this one because the Bills just found their future RB last season in Devin Singletary. But Head Coach Sean McDermott likes to use multiple backs in his offense and they all usually have a certain role. Edwards-Helaire seems like that type of guy who you may not see coming but ends up making the big play in the game. One of the shortest backs in the draft, CEH offers tough running and was an underrated target in the passing game. He’s the type of player you might find on a Bill Bellichick roster. But I have Buffalo taking him here.

55. Baltimore Ravens – Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU: I don’t think the Ravens should just settle and count on the veterans they added on their defensive line. They need youth. They need depth. Blacklock could certainly provide that. He’s actually a popular name right now, rising up on team’s draft boards.

56. Miami Dolphins – Cesar Ruiz, OG/C, Michigan: Miami continues to invest into their offense. They drafted the tackle earlier but here they can take one of the top interior blockers in college football. Ruiz can play guard or center and should be a lock in the second or third rounds.

57. Los Angeles Rams – J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State: One of the high profiled prospects in this draft, I think the former Buckeye would fit well in this LA backfield. Dobbins certainly wouldn’t be replacing Todd Gurley but he could be apart of a prospering run game with Malcolm Brown. A shifty workhorse, Dobbins, would bring a change of pace to the Rams offense.

58. Minnesota Vikings – Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah: Minnesota is in the market for a corner after the departure of Xavier Rhodes. Jaylon Johnson is one of the more physical defensive backs in this draft and he plays a style of football that Coach Mike Zimmer will like.

59. Seattle Seahawks – Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State: Damon Arnette’s tape was impressive to me. You figure the guy would have a lot of opportunities playing corner opposite of Jeff Okudah in college. And he took advantage of that opportunity, displaying physicality and ball skills. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team selected him with a need at corner. Seattle pass defense wasn’t great last season.

60. Baltimore Ravens – Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC: How about the Ravens getting a target on the outside for Lamar Jackson. Pittman Jr. has the look of a future #1 receiver and he plays like one. He’s a combination of size and speed but he also displays great hands rather in a crowd or when he has to go up and get it. He would be a great complement to Marquise Brown.

https---images.saymedia-content.com-.image-MTY3NTg2MzY2OTYyNTQxOTU5-usatsi_1350635661. Tennessee Titans – Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame: Cole Kmet is the top tight end in the draft. Not really a strong class for tight ends this year but I see some guys that could make a difference for some offenses. QB Ryan Tannehill would benefit from having a consistent target at that position, something Tennessee hasn’t had since Delainie Walker.

62. Green Bay Packers – Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State: This may be a reach but the Packers need to toughen up the middle of that defense. Harrison is a true throwback at linebacker. Attacks gaps and ball carriers with reckless abandon. He may lack in athleticism but he is a sure tackler from sideline to sideline.

63. Kansas City Chiefs – Wille Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State: Another reach at LB but Willie Gay Jr. has impressed scouts during this draft process. His ability to defend and tackle on the edge going sideline to sideline will get him drafted earlier than expected.

64. Seattle Seahawks – Ashtyn Davis, S, California: Really tempted to go QB here. But hey, did I mention that Seattle’s Legion of Boom is no more? Their secondary needs a rebuild. After taking a corner earlier, they can take an impact safety here to end the second round.

ROUND 3

  1. Cincinnati Bengals – Justin Madebuike, DT, Texas A&M
  2. Washington – Byran Edwards, WR, South Carolina
  3. Detroit Lions – Lloyd Cushenberry III, G, LSU
  4. New York Jets – Jordan Elliot, DT, Missouri
  5. Carolina Panthers – Zach Moss, RB, Utah
  6. Miami Dolphins – Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
  7. Los Angeles Chargers – Netane Muti, G, Fresno State
  8. Arizona Cardinals – Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
  9. Jacksonville Jaguars – Troy Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame
  10. Cleveland Browns – Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
  11. Indianapolis Colts – Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton
  12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Terrell Burgess, S, Utah
  13. Denver Broncos – Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
  14. Atlanta Falcons – Tyler Biadasz, G, Wisconsin
  15. New York Jets – Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
  16. Las Vegas Raiders – Jonah Jackson, G, Ohio State
  17. Las Vegas Raiders – Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama
  18. Dallas Cowboys – Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech
  19. Denver Broncos – Davon Hamilton, DT, Ohio State
  20. Los Angeles Rams – Jonathan Greenard, DE, Florida
  21. Detroit Lions – Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington
  22. Buffalo Bills – Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn
  23. New England Patriots – Jalen Hurts, QB, AlabamaHurts2020
  24. New Orleans Saints – Nick Harris, G, Washington
  25. Minnesota Vikings – Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
  26. Houston Texans – Darrell Taylor, DE, Tennessee
  27. Las Vegas Raiders – Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
  28. Baltimore Ravens – Robert Hunt, G, Louisiana
  29. Tennessee Titans – Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
  30. Green Bay Packers – Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame
  31. Denver Broncos – Matt Peart, OT, Connecticut
  32. Kansas City Chiefs – Anthony McFarland Jr., RB, Maryland
  33. Cleveland Browns – Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
  34. New England Patriots – Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty
  35. New York Giants – Brandlee Anae, DE, Utah
  36. New England Patriots – Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic
  37. Seattle Seahawks – Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
  38. Pittsburgh Steelers – Van Jefferson, WR, Florida
  39. Philadelphia Eagles – Alex Taylor, OT, South Carolina State
  40. Los Angeles Rams – Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
  41. Minnesota Vikings – James Proche, WR, SMU
  42. Baltimore Ravens – Lamar Jackson, CB, Nebraska

NFL 2019: Week 17 Predictions (Condensed Version)

Steelers Bengals Football

Can the “Duck Man” lead Pittsburgh past Baltimore this weekend and into the playoffs? Somehow, I doubt it.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 147-92-1

Week 17 Picks

Jets over Bills – Buffalo has already clinched their playoff spot and will be better off resting starters. The Jets could have a 7-win season after starting off 1-7. Not bad.

Browns over Bengals – Cincy is committed to the tank. The Browns could finish with seven wins. I said this about Cleveland back in August, “You have to crawl before you can walk.”

Packers over Lions – I see Detroit playing them tough but Green Bay could be in line for a first round bye in the post season.

Chiefs over Chargers – Kansas City has slim chances to improve their playoff position. But they have also had some bad luck this year when it comes to injuries. They could also rest their regulars.

Bears over Vikings – Minnesota is locked in at the 6 spot in the NFC and they’ve already announced that they will rest key starters.

Patriots over Dolphins – New England, with a win here, would clinch the number two seed in the AFC.

Falcons over Buccaneers – After a bad start, Atlanta has rebounded and saved the jobs of their head coach and general manager. That’s something to be proud of.

Saints over Panthers – New Orleans will need to win this one to avoid playing during Wild-Card Weekend. And what is this I’m hearing about Antonio Brown? Sean Payton, don’t do this. It could be fun. But, just say no.

Giants over Eagles – Philadelphia stinks. I’ll applaud their defense for last week, at least. But still. Not a very good team. Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley will look dynamic.

Washington over Cowboys – The Dallas Cowboys are a complete waste of time. It would be so “on brand” for the Eagles to lose but then Dallas fails to take advantage. I’m looking forward to the “Dallas fires Head Coach Jason Garrett” update scrolling across my screen. Having to watch this team for another week is punishment enough.

Raiders over Broncos – Oakland, despite the injuries, got the win last week and has a chance to sneak into the post season this weekend. Jon Gruden is quietly doing an okay job in Oakland.

Rams over Cardinals – Two teams with nothing to play for. For those watching this one, count how many times the announcers mention the ages of the head coaches.

Colts over Jaguars – Jacksonville is going to have an interesting offseason coming up in 2020.

Ravens over Steelers – Baltimore has the #1 seed locked up in the AFC and will rest their starters. But even with a playoff spot on the line, I don’t see Pittsburgh being successful with their current situation at the QB position.

Titans over Texans – Houston is going about business as usual this week but I’m not falling for it. If Coach Bill O’Brien has a brain, he will undoubtedly rest his starters this week ahead of Wild-Card weekend. Tennessee will be ready to take advantage.

49ers over Seahawks – San Fran has grown since losing to Seattle just weeks ago. Plus, the Seahawks are a bit dinged up. It is a big spot to win on the road in Seattle but I think the 49ers can do it and clinch home field advantage for themselves in the NFC.

NFL 2019: Week 10 Predictions

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks

Can Russell Wilson and the Seahawks give the 49ers their first loss of 2019?

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 9-5

Season: 78-56-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Los Angeles Chargers @ Oakland – I’m kind of surprised to see the Raiders with a 4-4 record. Right now they have the inside track on finishing second in the AFC West and maybe competing for a Wild-Card playoff spot. Tonight’s game against the Chargers will be key for them going forward. A win tonight and then upcoming games against the Bengals and Jets could mean that Oakland could be sitting pretty with a 7-4 record. But first things first, they have to defeat a Chargers team who is coming off their best win of the season over Green Bay. The Chargers have been the picture of inconsistency in the AFC over the last few years. Tonight, I think they’ll have to lean on a strong defensive performance. Edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will have to impact what David Carr and the Raiders offense can produce. I’m looking for Oakland to challenge LA’s run defense tonight with rookie Josh Jacobs who is having a good first season. My heart goes out to those fans in Oakland who will not be able to see their team at home for not much longer. I think the Raiders will send those fans home happy tonight. Prediction: Raiders over Chargers

Carolina @ Green Bay – I’m not sure what happened to the Packers last week in LA. Maybe they were enjoying the SoCal nightlife before Sunday’s game. Aaron Rodgers assured everyone after the loss last week that there’s no need to worry and they’ll get back on track. Easier said than done, as Green Bay will welcome a pretty good Carolina team this Sunday. Carolina’s defense should serve as a good test for Rodgers. The Panthers hoist a top pass defense in the league. Green Bay may find success in the run game with Jamal Williams and Aaron Jones as Carolina’s run defense ranks near the bottom. On offense, the Panthers will continue to feed their MVP candidate RB Christian McCaffrey and will hope to keep the Packers pass rush away from QB Kyle Allen. Carolina is going to need points to win this one on the road. I don’t think Allen will be able to out-produce Rodgers offensively. Prediction: Packers over Panthers

Los Angeles Rams @ Pittsburgh – Even though the Colts weren’t healthy last Sunday and their QB was knocked out of the game, that was still an impressive victory for the almost equally wounded Steelers. Currently, the Steelers are playing at a high level defensively especially when you look at edge rushers, T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree. That defense will have its hands full this Sunday with the LA Rams coming into town. The Rams are among the top teams in the NFC and should be well-rested coming off the bye. QB Jared Goff is a guy that can be rattled when pressured but he has the pleasure of being surrounded with a great supporting cast when you talk about RB Todd Gurley, and wide outs Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Pittsburgh’s offensive line also faces a tall task with LA’s defensive front led by Aaron Donald who will have his own cheering section in the stadium. If the Steelers could gut out another victory this week, that would be an eye-opener. But I just don’t see it. Prediction: Rams over Steelers

Minnesota @ Dallas – The Cowboys victory over the Giants last Monday night did not inspire any confidence from me, at least. Dallas overcame a sloppy start a finished the contest in style but they still have a ways to go if they want to be a contender in the NFC. I see Minnesota as a team that was in a similar rut earlier this season. But recently, QB Kirk Cousins has turned it on and the Vikings offense is flourishing. On Sunday night, I’m expecting to see a really good contest featuring two similar but talented teams. Minnesota and Dallas have great rushing offense led by Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott. The Dallas run defense was up to the task last week slowing down Saquon Barkley and they’ll have to repeat that performance in this game. Minnesota could be shorthanded offensively if WR Adam Thielen is unable to play. The Vikings offensive line could have their hands full as the Cowboys offer a pretty good pass rush with Demarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn and recently acquired Michael Bennett. Minnesota’s defense isn’t bad either as they rank in the top ten against the run and the pass. This should be a close game and the winner will be the team that wins the turnover battle. Dak Prescott and Cousins must protect the football as the QB with the last possession could decide this one. I’m not confident but I’m going with the home team. Prediction: Cowboys over Vikings

Seattle @ San Francisco – It goes without saying that this is the biggest game of Week 10. San Francisco is still sporting an undefeated record but they’ll welcome a great challenge on Monday night with the Seattle Seahawks coming to town. I feel that San Fran’s success is sustainable because of two reasons: the running game and the pass rush. On offense, the 49ers have been getting it done on the ground with Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida. They could play a huge factor in this game as Seattle struggles against the run. The Seahawks will have to answer that with the way they can get after the QB. Thinking of getting after the QB, the Niners are pretty good at that too. Russell Wilson is normally calm and collected but Dee Ford and Nick Bosa will be looking to make sure that he is not comfortable on Monday night. It would take a great effort from Wilson for Seattle to give the 49ers their first loss. I expect to see the home team to stay the course and score a big divisional victory. Prediction: 49ers over Seahawks

The Rest of Week 10

Lions over Bears – It would be nice to see Mitch Trubisky turn it around but I just don’t see it.

Ravens over Bengals – Baltimore can’t afford a let down after their huge victory at home last week.

Bills over Browns – Cleveland is an absolute joke. That coaching staff should be ashamed. The players should be ashamed. The fans are ashamed. The organization should also be ashamed.

Chiefs over Titans – Kansas City is just counting the days until Patrick Mahomes returns.

Saints over Falcons – Not sure why Atlanta hasn’t fired Dan O’Quinn yet.

Giants over Jets – Both of these franchises have seen better days but right now, the Giants at least appear to have more hope.

Buccaneers over Cardinals – Tampa has lost a couple of close ones recently. Something will go right for them eventually.

Colts over Dolphins – Indy is very healthy right now but the Dolphins are still the Dolphins.

NFL 2019: Week 3 Predictions

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Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will hope to stand toe-to-toe against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 20-11-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Atlanta @ Indianapolis – The Falcons gutted out a victory at home last week against the Eagles. Despite the victory, this team seems to underwhelm me each week. With the talent they have, they should be able to execute much better than they do. I like what I saw last week with the Colts. The issues with Adam Vinateri and the kicking game almost cost them but they were able to overcome and get a big divisional victory on the road. The Colts offense seems to be operating smoothly through the air and on the ground. I like their balanced attack to help them control the game clock and limit Atlanta’s offense this Sunday. Prediction: Colts over Falcons

Baltimore @ Kansas City – The Ravens and the Chiefs played in what was probably the best game in the regular season last year. Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense returns to Kansas City this Sunday looking for a different result from last season. Jackson has been the talk of this 2019 season though it is still early. Many are still not as impressed with Jackson considering Baltimore’s opponents but he’ll face a quality opponent this week. Kansas City’s defense isn’t all that great but they’ll offer more than Miami or Arizona. But just like in their matchup a season ago, this game will be all about the QBs. Patrick Mahomes is playing like the MVP he was last year and the injury to Tyreek Hill hasn’t slowed this offense. I think Jackson will be able to go toe-to-toe with Mahomes but even without Hill, the Chiefs have too many weapons. This should be a fun, back and forth, contest. Prediction: Chiefs over Ravens

Houston @ Los Angeles Chargers –Losing to Detroit might be a sign that the Chargers have some issues. Houston barely escaped Jacksonville last week but I believe they can play more like the team that lost a close in New Orleans Week 1. The Chargers have been hampered once again with injuries on both sides of the ball. LA’s defense will have to continue to limit their opponents as Phillip Rivers and the offense try to figure out their issues. For the Texans, they just have to keep their QB, Deshaun Watson, upright. The Chargers have a great pass rush with the ability to change the face of this game. Too bad the Chargers don’t really have a “home” field advantage. Prediction: Texans over Chargers

New Orleans @ Seattle – The news of the Drew Brees injury is terrible but it could be worst. New Orleans seemed to be prepared for this as they made Teddy Bridgewater the highest paid backup QB in the league this past offseason. Bridgewater’s first assignment as a starter will be a tough Seattle defense on the road. Seattle wasn’t that impressive last week in Pittsburgh but they did enough to win. Seattle must exploit the Saints run defense and control the clock. That’s something that they usually do a great job at especially at home. Also, the Saints defense will get after Russell Wilson. Seattle’s offensive line is usually inconsistent at best. I like Bridgewater but the Saints offense won’t be as explosive without Brees. Prediction: Seahawks over Saints

Los Angeles Rams @ Cleveland – Well, it’s good that Cleveland avoided a 0-2 start but they did not impress against the Jets. The Browns have a tough defense I think but for those first two games, it has been the offense that has disappointed. And it’s not going to get better this week with the Rams coming into town in primetime. The Rams are coming off an impressive home win against New Orleans. LA looked look last week on offense. Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown are making a big impact in the running game. Cleveland should also have a tough time containing the Rams defensive line, led by Aaron Donald. Prediction: Rams over Browns

The Rest of Week 3

Titans over Jaguars – Tennessee has owned Jacksonville recently in the series. This could be Jalen Ramsey’s last game as a Jaguar. I don’t think so. But it could be.

Bills over Bengals – Cincy got thrashed last week at home and Buffalo will be fired up for their home opener.

Cowboys over Dolphins – I don’t think this is a trap game for Dallas. The Cowboys do have some injury concerns. I hope they will be able to treat this one like a preseason game.

Packers over Broncos – Green Bay might finally have a defense to match what they can do offensively.

Vikings over Raiders – Minnesota won’t be anyone if Kirk Cousins plays like he did last week.

Patriots over Jets – New England might be able to rest Tom Brady in the 4thquarter in this one. Oh. And you can add the NEW YORK JETS as another gutless organization that refuses to sign……ahhhh….nevermind. Eyeroll emoji.

Eagles over Lions – I guess you have to give Detroit credit for upsetting the Chargers. I wonder if the Eagles are healthy enough to avoid another pitfall in consecutive weeks.

Cardinals over Panthers – Cam Newton or no Cam Newton. Carolina has been a disappointment so far this season.

Buccaneers over Giants – Tampa’s offense can at least appear valuable against the Giants defense.

Steelers over 49ers – Pittsburgh can’t go 0-3. They’ll rally around Mason Rudolph and play inspired football on the road in San Fran.

Washington over Bears – If Chicago’s offense can’t produce, their defense will tire out. Case Keenum and Washington’s passing attack will take full advantage if they can weather the Bears defense.

 

NFL 2019: Week 1 Predictions

Carolina Panthers v New England Patriots

Tom Brady and the Patriots begin, yet another, title defense this Sunday night.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Past Regular Season Records:

2014 Regular Season Record: 158-97-1

2015 Regular Season Record: 163-93

2016 Regular Season Record: 163-91-2

2017 Regular Season Record: 151-103

2018 Regular Season Record: 150-104-2

 

Top Five Games of the Week

Green Bay @ Chicago – The 2019 regular season opens in Chicago with a classic NFC North rivalry. Coming off a disappointing loss in the playoffs last year, the Bears enter 2019 as the favorite in the NFC North. Green Bay is the mist of a rebuild under new head coach Matt LaFleur. Green Bay won a thriller in the season opener last year on the strength of QB Aaron Rodgers’ second half performance. Tonight, Chicago will have to keep the Packers offense from striking distance in the second half by jumping on them early and getting enough from QB Mitch Trubisky and the offense. I think LB Khalil Mack and the Bears defense will do its job at limiting Rodgers’ chances. Green Bay’s defense will be younger group this year and the Bears offense must be able to take full advantage. Prediction: Bears over Packers

Los Angeles Rams @ Carolina –Last season’s NFC champions will travel across the country on Week 1 to face a team trying to get back to the top of the conference. I think Carolina will be much improved this season because of their additions on defense. That defense will receive a tough test in the season opener in the form of this Rams offense. LA’s defense showed some inconsistency last season but the great play at the line of scrimmage from Aaron Donald and Dante Fowler covers much of that up. QB Cam Newton will be looking to show that he is at 100% but he’ll face a great challenge in the Rams’ pass rush. Newton must find a way to preserve himself from big hits while at the same time putting Carolina in a position to win. That could be tough. Prediction: Rams over Panthers

Kansas City @ Jacksonville – The highlight of this matchup will be the Chiefs offense vs. the Jaguars defense. Kansas City returns in 2019 with an electrifying offense led by the league MVP, QB Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City will be loaded at WR this year with Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and rookie Mecole Hardman. And I’m very interested how Andy Reid will incorporate recently signed veteran RB LeSean McCoy. Jacksonville’s defense disappointed a season ago and they are looking forward to bouncing back this year. A solid group will lead them up front on the defensive line and CB Jalen Ramsey will continue to lead the secondary. Usually a good defense can get the best of a great offense but I think Kansas City just has too many weapons.  Also, there’s a lot of hype surrounding new Jaguars QB Nick Foles but I’m just not buying. Just because he might be better than Blake Bortles, doesn’t mean that he is going to take this offense to the next level. Prediction: Chiefs over Jaguars

Indianapolis @ Los Angeles Chargers – Around this time of year, I find myself believing in the Chargers. They have had a pretty decent roster on paper in the last couple of seasons. That can be said again for 2019 but they received horrible news in the form of Derwin James’ injury. LA should be okay offensively though, even without RB Melvin Gordon. Speaking of absences, many fans are still shocked over the sudden retirement of Colts starting QB Andrew Luck. I think Indy will be a team that will not blink and they will rally around QB Jacoby Brissett. I like the Colts to score the upset on the road. Prediction: Colts over Chargers

Pittsburgh @ New England – QB Tom Brady’s record at home against Pittsburgh has been talked about a lot this week. At home or on the road, New England usually does a good job at owning the Steelers in recent years. The Steelers were constantly in the news this offseason because of the Antonio Brown situation and because they missed the postseason for the first time in 5 years. The Steelers will be so happy to be in the news for an actual game this Sunday though it is against the hated rival, defending Super Bowl champion, Patriots. I’ve said before that New England really didn’t improve during the offseason but since when that has mattered. They still have Brady, Bellichick, and a stingy, bend but don’t break defense. It will also be interesting to see how New England uses WR Josh Gordon. I imagine he’ll replace Rob Gronkowski as Brady’s big target down the field. I believe Pittsburgh will be looking to make a statement in this first regular season game. After an offseason of drama, the time to discuss non-football issues is now over. The Steelers will be looking to highlight WR’s Juju Smith-Schuster and James Washington. And on defense, T.J. Watt and rookie Devin Bush will be in attack mode. It will be a time for celebration for the home team as they raise another Super Bowl banner but I believe the night will be spoiled by a hungry Pittsburgh team. Prediction: Steelers over Patriots

The Rest of Week 1

Titans over Browns – So much for all the hype. I see Tennessee’s defense dominating in a Week 1 shocker.

Ravens over Dolphins – Miami is toothless. I’m looking forward to the Lamar Jackson show in Baltimore.

Vikings over Falcons – Minnesota will be anxious to get 2019 off on a good start.

Jets over Bills – Le’Veon Bell gets 30 touches, as the Jets offense will overwhelm Buffalo at home.

Eagles over Washington – Philadelphia is hyped once again this year. Washington? Quite the opposite.

Seahawks over Bengals – Cincinnati will feel the loss of A.J. Green to start the season. This will be a classic show of home dominance from Seattle.

Cowboys over Giants – These Dallas-NYG games almost always come down to the wire. It would be interesting if that trend continues Sunday as the Cowboys clearly have the better team.

Cardinals over Lions – No one knows what to expect from Kyler Murray, Kliff Kingsbury, and the Arizona offense. I think that might serve as an advantage for them.

49ers over Buccaneers – Jimmy Garropollo will have to come out in 2019 playing at a high level. If not, it could get ugly real quick in the Bay Area.

Saints over Texans – It’s going to be hard for Houston to beat anyone with the state of their offensive line. Too bad that they’ll meet a really good New Orleans team on Monday night.

Broncos over Raiders – The talk on Tuesday after this game will not be about Antonio Brown. It will be about how good Joe Flacco looked.

 

NFL 2019: AFC Preview

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No Brown? No Bell? No worries. Here comes Super Ben to save the day. Right?

 

By: Elias McMillan

AFC EAST

For the past 15 seasons, this division has only seen two other teams finish in first place other than the New England Patriots. No one is sure when the Patriots’ domination of the AFC East will end but I doubt it will be this year despite the fact New England really didn’t improve in the offseason. QB Tom Brady returns once again in his quest to add to his already Hall-of-Fame resume. New England has a nice mix of youth and veteran leadership at the skill positions. On offense this year, they will have a huge hole at the TE position thanks to the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. New England’s defense really showed out in the Super Bowl last season, holding their opponent to only 3 points. I think that unit will be weaken this season with the departures of DT Malcolm Brown and DE Trey Flowers. New England usually does a good job reloading on defense with players that we’ve may not even heard of yet. They did trade for aging but still effective DT Michael Bennett. The team in this division that made the most movement in the offseason was the New York Jets. The Jets forked over the big bucks in free agency and brought in RB Le’Veon Bell and LB C.J. Mosley. Bell, one of the top RB’s in football, should be fresh after taking 2018 off. He’ll have a great chance at rejuvenating this Jets offense and taking pressure away from the young QB, Sam Darnold. Darnold showed some promise in his rookie season but the lights on him will be brighter this year. I think having an elite option coming out the backfield will help him. The Jets really don’t have a star at WR but Robby Anderson is underrated and Jamison Crowder can be great in the slot. With the addition of Mosley and first round pick DT Quinnen Williams, the Jets front seven could be really good. “Do-Everything” safety, Jamal Adams, also returns as the leader of this defense. Adams is a rare talent in the secondary who can play the run and cover receivers down field. The Buffalo Bills hope this year won’t be a lost season for their rookie QB Josh Allen. Allen showed last year that he has the athletic tools but the Bills will be looking to seeing him improve as a passer. Buffalo’s backfield will be loaded with a gang of veterans. RB’s Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon join LeSean McCoy and I’m not sure how that competition in training camp will play out. Gore, who refuses to retire, will probably win the starting job, which could make McCoy a surprising cut before the regular season. Buffalo’s defense could be something special this season. Despite losing Stephon Gilmore to New England in 2018, they led the league in pass defense. I don’t believe that it is possible for a NFL to “tank”, especially at the start of the season. But many believe that the Miami Dolphins will be that team this year. Miami actually has a good-to-average offense on paper. I think the young receivers on this team that are waiting to breakout and will love playing with an old gun slinger at QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick. But as we all know by now, that will probably last for maybe a month or so. Fitzpatrick will start out the season playing on fire then experience a huge, turnover laced, drop-off right around Week 5. I’m really rooting for QB Josh Rosen to get a chance in this offense since many have unfairly written him off. He’s basically a rookie again after being traded from Arizona and he deserves to start this portion of his career with a clean slate. Miami’s defense lost some key veterans in the offseason. CB Xavien Howard did receive a big contract in the offseason, which was well deserved as he is proving to be one of the top corners in football. Projected Finish: 1) New England, 2) NY Jets, 3) Buffalo, 4) Miami

AFC NORTH

The AFC North led the league in headlines this past offseason. Pittsburgh, who missed the playoffs for the first time in five years, stayed in the drama thanks to a messy divorce with WR Antonio Brown. With Brown now in Oakland, Pittsburgh is thinking that moving the best receiver in football will prove to be an “addition by subtraction” move. And everything on the offensive side of the ball will be smooth as long as QB Ben Roethlisberger can stand. I’m sure that Ben will continue to be great and the running game will be fine as long as the offensive line continues to play well. But I believe that the offense will feel a drop-off of talent without 84. Go ahead and watch the highlights from 2018. It wasn’t like AB was playing like an aging veteran. AB had a strong productive season and it will be hard for the Steelers to replace that. Juju Smith-Schuster is a talented WR but we don’t know if he is ready for the added attention as a #1 receiver. It’s okay to throw in all of your chips on Roethlisberger to save the offense but he is aging too. Father time is undefeated and it’s going to interesting to see him play without his top guy for the last couple years. With all the talk about offense, Pittsburgh’s defense could be something special this season. I think trading up for LB Devin Bush in the draft will prove to be a great move. Pittsburgh will be great up front with DT Cam Heyward and OLB T.J. Watt but the question will continue to be if their secondary will hold them back. The Browns were the offseason champs of this division despite not even winning 8 games in 2018. But the offense showed excitement and promise under QB Baker Mayfield and trading for WR Odell Beckham Jr. could put their offensive talent over the top. The Browns are crazy deep at WR with OBJ joining Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins. The backfield will be loaded with talent as well with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, who will be fresh coming off an suspension. Cleveland is also expected to be strong defensively, led by young guys DE Myles Garrett and CB Denzel Ward. I think the city of Cleveland has reason to be hype about what could potentially happen with all this talent in 2019. But you have to crawl before you can walk. I’m not saying that the Browns hype isn’t real. I’m saying that the franchise hasn’t won more than 8 games in 11 years. Realistically, I don’t think Cleveland is ready to overtake the division but they’ll at least “be there” this year. Baltimore surprised everyone and won the division last season. Unfortunately, I think they’ll take a step backwards this year. The new offense, now catered to QB Lamar Jackson, will be fun to watch. They’ll probably lead the league in rushing this year. I really like the addition of RB Mark Ingram. The elephant in the room with Jackson at QB will be his ability to pass down the field. I’m hoping exciting rookie WR Marquise Brown (AB’s cousin) will help with that. The real reason why Baltimore will struggle this year is that I think the defense won’t be able to make up the lost of LB C.J. Mosley. Mosley was a guy that Baltimore could not afford to get away. The Ravens defense will also look strange in 2019 without LB Terrell Suggs. Baltimore’s saving grace on defense might be there secondary that looks strong with the addition of Earl Thomas at safety. I’m excited to say that the rebuild of the Cincinnati Bengals is finally on. Marvin Lewis, Vontaze Burfict, and Pac-Man Jones are all gone. Unfortunately, the new look Bengals may already be behind the 8-ball with WR A.J. Green injured and first rounder T Jonah Williams out for the season. Without Green, who will be back after the first four games, WR Tyler Boyd will have the opportunity to shine and he’ll have to after the pay raise he just received. Cincinnati will be strong defensively up front with DT Geno Atkins. The Bengals could be a sleeper even with Green missing time. They will be a team that could hold opponents to less than three scores but their offense might struggle to score that same amount. Projected Finish: 1) Steelers, 2) Browns, 3) Ravens, 4) Bengals

AFC SOUTH

I wouldn’t say that the AFC South is boring. But it’s the least interesting division in the AFC. Houston has young and exciting talent but just can’t break through in the playoffs. Jacksonville showed promise a couple years ago before completely falling apart last season. And Tennessee is still waiting for Marcus Mariota to show that he can be a franchise QB. Indianapolis caught momentum late last season only to lose to the top seed in the conference. QB Andrew Luck is still the top dog in the division when it comes to QB play but his health seems to be a question mark every year. Regardless, I think Indy has surrounded him with decent talent at the receiver and running back positions. Indy really started to catch fire last season because of their defense and rookie sensation LB Darius Leonard. In the offseason, they added a pass rushing presence in veteran LB Justin Houston. The Houston Texans should run away with this division if you look at the talent they have on paper. QB Deshaun Watson is a young star in this league and is continuing to improve. WR DeAndre Hopkins catches everything and the backfield should receive a boost with the addition of Duke Johnson; joining veteran Lamar Miller. Houston will continue to have one of the top front sevens on defense led by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Houston’s secondary will need to have a bounce back year after finishing 2018 near the bottom of the league in pass defense. Jacksonville will be hoping to have their QB situation fixed this season. I’m not too confident in QB Nick Foles but he enters 2019 with not a lot of pressure. He only has to prove to be better than Blake Bortles. The Jaguars defense looked so strong two years ago. I think what happened to that unit last season will prove to be a fluke. They will be motivated to prove that though the sudden retirement of LB Telvin Smith will not help. That could open the door for rookie LB Josh Allen who looked like the best pass rusher in this past draft. CB Jalen Ramsey returns to a secondary that ranked second in the league in pass defense. Tennessee almost made the playoffs last season but I didn’t see them take a step forward from that in the offseason. Trading for QB Ryan Tannehill will probably not instill confidence for Mariota. The Titans are excited to see more of RB Derrick Henry who broke out last season. They need RB Dion Lewis to rebound from last season, as he was a total bust of a free agent signing. Tennessee will be strong defensively, led by one of the league’s top secondaries. DT Jurrell Casey is one of the best interior linemen and DE Cameron Wake who is coming off a productive career in Miami, will join him this year. Projected Finish: 1) Colts, 2) Texans, 3) Jaguars, 4) Titans

AFC WEST

The AFC West featured the most competitive division in the conference last season and I think we’ll see the same in 2019. Kansas City shot their way to the top of the conference thanks to the performance of QB Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes returns with many of the same weapons from a season ago, WR’s Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and TE Travis Kelce. On defense, they traded away DE Dee Ford but also acquired DE Frank Clark who should serve as a great replacement. Kansas City’s pass defense was among the league’s worst last season. They are hoping that offseason acquisition, safety Tyrann Mathieu, will help them improve in that area. The Chargers will be strong again in 2019, which could be QB Phillip Rivers final season. I get the feeling that Rivers won’t retire until he makes his Super Bowl debut. Rivers will once again have great targets in the passing game to go to in WR’s Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. But most of the talk in the offseason has been about the RB position. I don’t think RB Melvin Gordon’s hold out will last into the season. He will report and I think he needs a wake up call. Gordon is talented but he doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on with only one 1,000 yard season. I really like what the Chargers have on defense. Pass rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa are difference makers up front and safety Derwin James is one of the best in the NFL already in his young career. What’s been holding Denver back for the last few seasons has been the QB position. You can laugh now but I think trading for QB Joe Flacco might prove to be one of the smartest moves made in the offseason. Denver gets a veteran presence behind center and he’s looking to prove that he still has some good football left in him. RB Phillip Lindsay who had a breakout rookie season will assist Flacco. WR Emmanuel Sanders will be plus for this passing offense if he can stay healthy. The Broncos defense will be led once again by pass rushing extraordinaire Von Miller. Denver will be looking for someone in the secondary to step up this season, as they are a missing a few pieces from last year. The Oakland Raiders made the biggest move in the offseason, trading for the best WR in the NFL, Antonio Brown. Despite that exciting acquisition, the Raiders are still not ready to compete in this division. I think having Brown in the lineup will improve the passing game, which is good news for QB Derek Carr. But the Raiders will still have unanswered question with their offensive line and backfield. A lot will be expected from rookie RB Josh Jacobs. On defense, the Raiders still are looking to fill the massive hole left by trading away DE Khalil Mack. They spent their top pick on DE Clelin Ferrell who was on no ones radar at the top of the draft. They also brought in talented but constant knucklehead LB Vontaze Burfict. This Raiders squad will be an interesting mix but I don’t think they’ll play good enough football to escape the AFC West basement. Projected Finish: 1) Chiefs, 2) Chargers, 3) Broncos, 4) Raiders

NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Predictions


Wild Card Round - Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts

Can Andrew Luck and Colts upset the AFC’s top seed on the road Saturday?

 

By: Elias McMillan

Wild Card: 2-2

Playoffs 2-2

Divisional Round

Indianapolis @ Kansas City – Last weekend’s win in Houston went kind of like I expect it would for Indy. The Colts looked impressive on both sides of the ball. The defense limited Houston to just 7 points. Andrew Luck looked like himself passing the ball around and the Colts even ran the ball well. The Colts have the momentum going into a showdown with the AFC’s #1 seed. Kansas City jumped to the top the AFC this season behind the production of MVP candidate, QB Patrick Mahomes. Even with the suspension of RB Kareem Hunt, the Chiefs offense hasn’t missed a beat all season. On Saturday, the Colts will have to account for the speed of WR Tyreek Hill and the physicality of TE Travis Kelce. I think Kansas City will find success offensively in this matchup. The question for the Chiefs all season has been about their defense. The Chiefs can score a lot but they can also give up a lot as well. The team with the ball last may end up winning this one. There’s a narrative out there about Andy Reid’s teams in the post-season always coming up short. I bet this Chiefs team wants to be the group that bunks that trend. I also think the home field advantage will play a part in this one. Prediction: Chiefs 38 – Colts 33

Dallas @ Los Angeles Rams – Dallas’ victory last week at home against Seattle wasn’t as impressive as they wanted it to be but they got the job done. Now, they will be looking to enter uncharted territory when they travel to LA to face the Rams. Dallas hasn’t advanced to the conference championship round in 20 plus years and they haven’t won a playoff game on the road in about the same time frame. But this is a Dallas team that believes they have it in them. In their case, I believe they have the best defense left in the NFC. The Cowboys did a great job limiting Seattle’s run game last week. I am a bit worried about the secondary, as Seattle really didn’t press the issue until the game was out of the reach. This probably won’t be the case on Saturday night. Even with Todd Gurley returning from injury, the Rams know that they big play offense has been depended on what Jared Goff can do in the passing game. The Rams offense lit up scoreboards for most of this season but they have cooled off significantly heading into the post-season. Maybe losing WR Cooper Kupp to injury has something to do with that. I don’t really believe the Rams have a game breaker at the WR position. Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks are nice players but they don’t demand the entire defense’s attention. If they can’t get Goff going, I think their best bet is to force feed Gurley who is bound to make a big play as a runner or receiver. The Rams have well known players on their defense but as a unit, they just haven’t been that good. DT Aaron Donald is beast and is capable of possibly winning this game himself. Despite having him up front, the Rams are pretty average against the run. Dallas will continue to run the offense through Ezekiel Elliott and he will eventually put the Cowboys in scoring positions. CB’s Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib have a history of making big plays but they are also risk takers. If QB Dak Prescott can stay away from Donald, he’ll be able to find his receivers downfield for some big plays off a double move or play action. The moment I feel that the Cowboys may do something worth talking about is the same moment when they usually disappoint me. Knowing this, I’m still going with my gut on this one. The Rams are not the offensive machine they were earlier this season and usually, a good defense can beat a good offense in January. This will be close but I’m taking the road team in the upset as the Cowboys fans will probably take over the stadium as well. Prediction: Cowboys 27 – Rams 24

Los Angeles Chargers @ New England – Despite Baltimore’s late push last week, the Chargers were fairly in control in that game. Now, they’ll make another long trip back to the east coast to face playoff staple, New England. This isn’t the same Patriots team that we are accustomed to seeing in January. The Patriots were able to win their division and gain a first round bye in the post season but this is probably their weakest playoff team during the Bill Belicheck era. Tom Brady is still a very good QB at his age but the Patriots have had receiver issues all season. Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan have both been banged up and they don’t have much waiting in the wings. The big play guy in the passing game has been TE Rob Gronkowski but even he doesn’t look like his normal self. The Patriots do have a plenty of options at RB but they are a team that just can’t depend on the run. The Chargers proved last week that they can handle a run first offense and it will also help that they have the pass rushers to get after Brady. New England has been known for years recently to have a less than impressive defense. I think this will allow QB Phillip Rivers to really push the issue in the passing game. Rivers has never beaten Brady in the post-season but I think this is his best shot. The Chargers are capable to out-physical New England on both sides of the ball. I like the Chargers in an upset that really shouldn’t be an upset. Prediction: Chargers 29 – Patriots 20

Philadelphia @ New Orleans – As much as I hate to admit, the Eagles actually matchup well with the Saints. I know this is the same team that was blown out by them on the road but a lot has changed since then. The Eagles don’t have a run game so they are forced to unleash the full capability of QB Nick Foles. The play of Foles during this last month are becoming the stuff of legend as he looks to help the Eagles make a return trip to the Super Bowl. I think the play of the Saints secondary plays in favor to the Eagles as that unit isn’t a strength for the home team. Philadelphia has also received great play out of their offensive line.  Knowing that they are a pass-first offense, they are going to need another great performance from that unit as New Orleans has an impressive front four on defense. But I think this game will have to turn on QB Drew Brees exposing the Eagles defense. This was something that the Bears failed to do last week. The Eagles will have to account for RB’s Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram but they should be okay with what they have in their front seven defensively. Philly’s weakness in the secondary and Brees must be able to exploit that. I think the Eagles will be able to do damage and score points in this one but I think Brees will be the one to set the tone causing Philly to play catch up for most of the game. Prediction: Saints 41 – Eagles 31