Tag Archives: Miami Dolphins

NFL 2017: AFC Preview (Condensed)

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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)
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NFL Playoffs: 2017 NFL Wild-Card Weekend Predictions!

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Miami’s run to the playoffs started in Week 6 against the Steelers. On Sunday, the Dolphins will meet them again in Pittsburgh.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 14-2

Final 2016 Regular Season Record: 163-91-2

NFL Playoffs: Wildcard Weekend

Oakland @ Houston – For the second straight year, ESPN gets stuck with coverage of a playoff game in Houston that no one really wanted to see. Oakland was such a great story this season until about 2 weeks ago. Within that time, they have lost their starter and backup QB in rout to already being clinched for a post-season berth in the playoffs. Where Oakland goes from here is anyone’s guess. Houston has had its QB troubles recently too. Houston’s 72 million dollar man, QB Brock Osweiler, was bench about 3 weeks ago but because of a concussion suffered by his replacement, backup Tom Savage, Osweiler will be back in the starting position this Saturday. We have to imagine that Osweiler isn’t feeling too confident about his standing as the leader of the offense or as a competent QB in this league. The fact is that Osweiler hasn’t lived up to expectations this season. I’m not sure if Houston is going to need Osweiler to be great to win this playoff game. Houston has other weapons on the team that will make them a tough out for the Raiders. RB Lamar Miller had a good first season with the Texans. He was held out from the last two games of the regular season and he should be fresh and ready to go this weekend. Oakland will have to find a way to account for Miller as they ranked 23rd in the league in run defense. Houston is going to have to run the ball effectively in this game in order to control the clock and to keep Osweiler from making a mistake. Oakland doesn’t have a strong run defense but their defense can affect the game in other ways. Edge rushers, Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, have made a living this season at creating chaos in the opponents back field. Oakland allows quite a few yards through the air but I like the way safety Reggie Nelson has been playing lately. Oakland doesn’t have the best defense in the playoffs but they have the ability to create turnovers that can change the game. After being down two QB’s, the Raiders will have to start QB Connor Cook on Saturday who is making his career debut as a pro. Cook is a real wildcard in this matchup because no one knows what to expect from him. Oakland’s offensive line has a huge task ahead of them as they will have to protect their young QB against a pretty good Houston defense. DE Jadeveon Clowney has finally emerged as a difference maker on the field with the absence of J.J. Watt. Oakland has had a serviceable running game this season so with Cook starting, we may see a steady dose of RB Latavius Murray. Houston has one of the top pass defenses in the league so it will be interesting seeing how Cook want to attack them with Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree. In their matchup earlier this season, Houston outplayed Oakland really but they were on the wrong end of a couple of bad calls. I bet Oakland thinks that can play better than what they did in the last matchup but Houston probably has the bigger revenge chip on their shoulder. Oakland won 12 games this season and I think their playmakers on defense will be the difference. I’m taking the Raiders in a low scoring affair. Prediction: Raiders 18 – Texans 14

Detroit @ Seattle – In the second game on Saturday, we’ll see two teams that don’t look like they are ready to make a run towards the Super Bowl. Detroit squandered their lead in the NFC North to the Packers in a matter of 3 weeks. Seattle wrapped up the NFC West earlier but since the injury to Earl Thomas, they haven’t looked the same. Detroit still has its work cut out for them if they hope to upset Seattle who is usually a monster at home. But with the way Seattle has been playing lately, they are definitely vulnerable right now, even with the home field advantage. If Detroit can keep Seattle from controlling the clock on offense, they’ll have a shot at winning this game. Detroit has been inconsistent at stopping the run on defense but Seattle’s run game has been inconsistent as well. I don’t know how well Russell Wilson will play but Detroit will have to find a way to pressure him in order to keep him from making big plays. Last year in the playoffs, Wilson struggled in that first game at Minnesota but was still able to make the big play late to help Seattle get the victory. With the state of the Seahawks offensive line, I believe the Lions will be able to get after Wilson. Seattle is still pretty good defensively even without Earl Thomas. The Seahawks have a good pass rush and one of the top run defenses in the league. Detroit should have a hard time getting the run game going which will open the door for QB Matt Stafford to try to win the game with his arm. The Legion of Boom isn’t quite that without Thomas in the lineup so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stafford find the matchups that will help him get his team down the field. TE Eric Ebron has emerged recently and WR’s Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin are more than familiar with the Seattle secondary. I think this game will be closer than what many people think. Detroit hasn’t won in a month and I don’t think I have faith in their defense to totally shut down Seattle offensively. A wildcard in this game will be TE Jimmy Graham who can destroy a defense’s game plan at any moment. I’m going with the home team. Prediction: Seahawks 26 – Lions 21

Miami @ Pittsburgh – Miami starting the season with a 1-4 record going into their Week 6 matchup at home against the Steelers. Who would have known that game was the start of a 9-2 run in the post season? Miami has had a remarkable and unlikely run to the playoffs this season and it is fitting that they’ll be in Pittsburgh on Sunday for this Wildcard matchup. People see the city name “Miami” and think, “Oh. There’s no way a team from Miami can win in Pittsburgh in January!” That thinking is common but couldn’t be more false. Miami is a ten-point underdog this weekend but I think they could stand a chance in Pittsburgh. Miami was able to beat Pittsburgh in their first matchup this season because of RB Jay Ajayi and the Miami run game. A great coach once said that a good run game is one thing that is guaranteed to travel with teams no matter which stadium they’re playing at. If Miami brings their running attack and is able to control the clock, they’ll be able to limit Pittsburgh’s scoring chances on offense. QB Matt Moore will be starting for the Dolphins and I don’t see him coming out with the goal to just air it out against the Steelers secondary. Pittsburgh’s defense as a whole has gotten a lot better since Week 6 so Moore will have to be careful and be selective about the shots to take down field. Miami does have more than capable WR’s in Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. This game will feature two defenses that can allow both offenses to put up a lot of numbers but again; I see where Pittsburgh’s defense has improved. Not so much with Miami. I don’t have much confidence in Miami limiting Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, or Antonio Brown on Sunday. For Miami to stand a chance on defense, they will need to bring the pressure towards Roethlisberger for all 4 quarters. The Steelers have a decent offensive line but they’ll have a huge chore ahead of them on Sunday in the shape of DE Cameron Wake and DT Ndamukong Suh. I think too many things would have to go right for Miami for them to upset Pittsburgh on Sunday. Miami could slow the game down with Ajayi or harass Roethlisberger behind the line of scrimmage. But the Steelers just have too many weapons for Miami to account for. They wont be able to stop Bell on the ground and with time, Roethlisberger should be able to find big plays down the field against the Dolphins secondary. Miami could make it interesting but I like the Steelers at home. Prediction: Steelers 36 – Dolphins 28

New York Giants @ Green Bay – The second matchup on Sunday features two of the hottest teams in the NFC. Green Bay rode their hot streak into winning the NFC North last week. The Giants have looked impressive down the stretch and many believe that they could be gearing up for another championship run. I have to give Green Bay credit for catching up with Detroit and winning the division but on Sunday, they might match up poorly against the Giants. The Giants have done a tremendous job defensively recently and they might present some issues to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. New York may not have the same pass rushing abilities they had when Jason Pierre-Paul was healthy but they playing well against the run and the secondary is also playing out of its mind right now. If the Giants can’t get after Rodgers, he will have time in the pocket but many QB’s have found it tough recently against the Giants secondary. Green Bay is going to have to figure out a creative way to get receivers open down the field. Another thing I don’t like about this matchup for the Packers is that their defense really isn’t good. They have had their issues this season at stopping the run and they are recently faced with multiple injuries in the secondary. The Giants don’t have a strong rushing offense but they do have some talented backs that might be able to find some space against the Packers front seven. And with a hurting secondary, the Giants and their talented trio of receivers should be able to make big plays down the field. Rodgers is the hot QB right now and he has powered the entire Green Bay squad during their run into the playoffs. Green Bay has been an overachiever in recent weeks so; I think they’ll be able to put up a good fight especially at home. But with the way that the Giants defense has been playing recently and with the state of the Packers secondary, I can see the Giants winning this one by the skin of their teeth. Prediction: Giants 24 – Packers 21

NFL 2016: Mid Season Report

NFL: JAN 03 Jaguars at Texans

The Jacksonville Jaguars had so much promise going into this season. They’ve been one of the most disappointing teams in 2016

By: Elias McMillan

 

Every team has played at least half of their schedule. So, it is now time for me to name my top 5 surprises and disappointments at the half way mark in this 2016 NFL Season. I’ll also make a revised Super Bowl pick at the end.

Top 5 Surprising Teams

  1. Dallas Cowboys (7-1) – Without Romo for the first part of the season and seeing how the team performed last season, I had the Cowboys winning just 8 games and not going to the playoffs in my preseason predictions. Now, it looks like things without Romo are going to be okay, the team already has 7 victories, and they are more than likely going to at least win the division and many a first round bye in the playoffs. I definitely didn’t see this coming. The plan to build a monster running game like what we saw in 2014 has worked with the selection of Ezekiel Elliott with the 4th overall pick. But the real surprise has been rookie QB Dak Prescott who has been able to do more than keep this team afloat while Romo recovers. I still think that the defense will be this teams undoing eventually but right now, they look like the class of the NFC.
  2. Oakland Raiders (7-2) – Many people believed that the Raiders would take that leap in 2016. I didn’t really believe that before the season but now I am witnessing it. QB David Carr is commanding a top-notch air attack. WR Amari Cooper is playing great but so is veteran WR Michael Crabtree. On defense, they have a tough front seven that can really get after the QB. They face a tough road ahead for the rest of the season but right now they are in position to maybe win their division.
  3. Denver Broncos (6-3) – After losing to Oakland last week, you might be surprised that I would put Denver on this list. But with their QB situation going into the season, I thought they would fall into a Super Bowl hangover. Instead, their defense is just as good as it was a season ago. Trevor Siemian has the offense getting by. Too bad that they lost starting RB CJ Anderson but their running game was a successful part to this season so far as well. I don’t know how the rest of the way will go but the AFC West race will be interesting.
  4. Atlanta Falcons (6-3) – With the way Carolina has played so far this season, that has opened the door for the Falcons to take control of the NFC South. Atlanta was already going to be amazing offensively with names like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and DeVonta Freeman. But their defense has improved enough where you can sense that this team could close out this division sooner than later.
  5. Miami Dolphins (4-4) – Honestly, I couldn’t figure out a fifth team to put in this slot. But I had Miami winning just 5 games before the season and they are already at 4. Miami is currently in second place in the AFC East and there is a good chance for them to stay there. They have a lot of young talent on the offensive side of the ball and they are getting the most finally out their defensive front four. They might be able to make a surprising run to the wild card.

 

Top 5 Disappointing Teams

  1. Carolina Panthers (3-5) – Things have gotten so bad in Carolina so quickly. A lot of talk about Cam Newton but the bottom line is that the defense is what has under performed greatly this season. Maybe it is from the decision to let Josh Norman go. But Carolina refused to get younger and better at key positions in the offseason and it is showing up currently each week. Carolina may be able to rebound and have a respectable record to end the season but their playoff chances look bleak.
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) – Remember how Jacksonville had so much optimism before the season. So much for all of that. It looks like the same old Jags are here to stay for at least another season. With all of that young talent, this team can barely compete in a terrible AFC South division. Maybe QB Blake Bortles isn’t that good. Maybe the head coach and GM need to be fired. Either way, Jacksonville has too much talent to be sucking like have this season. I predict major changes coming in the offseason.
  3. New York Jets (3-6) – This year, the Jets season has been basically derailed because of the QB position. And I completely understand why they had to bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick. They had great success with him last season. This season it has been the opposite. And it has gotten so bad on that side of the ball that not even their defense can save them. This team has some positives like Matt Forte and their defensive line. But the bad QB play, the injuries, and the aging vets can only carry this team so far. I thought at the start of the season that this team could at least win 8 games.
  4. Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1) – Arizona ws my Super Bwl pick at the beginning of the season. They have been a disappointment on both sides of the ball but mainly on defense. Carson Palmer has been shaky at times but Arizona still has a wealth of talent on offense. I thought that this defense would be a monster but they don’t make enough plays and have been a massive disappointment. Because they have a tie, it is still possible for them to rebound and get back into the playoff race.
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4) – The Steelers were my Super Bowl team coming out of the AFC before the season. I think Pittsburgh could still bounce back and win their division but they have still been a disappointment so far in 2016. The losses against lesser opponents. The inconsistencies on offense. A complete no show from the pass rush. And they have also struggled due to injury. But like I said, there is still time for them to bounce back and win a string of games. But I just don’t see them as a Super Bowl contender like I thought they would be at the start of the season.

 

Mid Season Awards

MVP: Julio Jones (WR – Atlanta) – These things always go to the QB. Matt Ryan has been good but lets be real. Julio Jones is what makes the Atlanta Falcons offense go. Jones currently leads the league in receiving and he is going to continue to be a huge part of Atlanta’s success for the rest of the season. I was tempted to give this to Tom Brady but the Patriots went 3-1 without him. That kinda puts huge hole in his bid.

Offensive MVP: Ezekiel Elliott (RB – Dallas) – Ezekiel Elliott is going to continue to put up monster numbers this season behind that offensive line. That Dallas power rushing game is a huge reason for the team’s success in 2016. Elliott will probably go on to be the league’s leading rusher.

Defensive MVP: Cliff Avril (DE – Seattle) – Avril is among the league leaders in sacks and is leading Seattle’s defensive line to be one of the best units in the NFL. Seattle has been inconsistent at times this season but they’ve been able to still lean on that defense. Arvil and that defensive line is a big part of that.

My REVISED Pick for Super Bowl 51

In the AFC, I believe that the Patriots will be there once again. Despite not having a strong defense, they probably have the best shot out of anyone in the conference. I thought that the Patriots would maybe fall short of a Super Bowl berth much like last season but they are much ahead in front of everyone else in the AFC. Pittsburgh doesn’t have the defense to slow Tom Brady and the offense. Denver still has a good defense but they are not going to be able to run the ball like they did a season ago. Maybe Oakland can shock the world and compete with the Patriots. I don’t know. But the Pats area safe pick right now. In the NFC, I can tell you, as a fan of the team how the Cowboys season will end. First off, Tony Romo will be starting going into the post season. Also, Dallas will be bringing with them into the post season that same sorry defense. That defense will let them down in January but everyone will still blame Tony Romo. Same as there ever was. I think Seattle or Atlanta could give Dallas problems in January. Both teams have decent pass rushes. Atlanta has a dynamic offense but we can’t completely write off Russell Wilson either. Ultimately, I still believe that Seattle’s defense will be the most valuable unit in football once the playoffs begin. REVISED Super Bowl 51 Prediction: Seahawks over Patriots

NFL 2016: AFC East Preview

jimmy-garoppolo-tom-brady-nfl-new-england-patriots-training-camp-850x560

Despite age and suspension, the Patriots train is on track once again in 2016.

By: Elias McMillan

 

AFC East

New England Patriots – Obviously, the headlining story with the Patriots this upcoming season will be the Tom Brady suspension. Brady will miss the first four games in the regular season this year and Jimmy Garoppolo will beging the season as the starting QB. Garoppolo has been in Brady’s shadow for years now and even though he doesn’t have a lot of regular season experience, I think he’ll be able to handle the situation well until Brady returns. It’s hard to tell if Garoppolo will light up the stat sheet in Brady’s absence but I think I can say that the offensive personnel that New England has will be a big help for him in those first four games. New England isn’t known for having a great running game but they struggled with running the ball when RB’s LaGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis both went down due to injuries. Having those two guys back and healthy will definitely help the running game especially if they can both last 16 games. When you’re a young QB that lacks experience, the TE usually becomes a safe bet when it comes to targets. If this is true about Garoppolo, he’s going to be in pretty good shape as he has the best TE in the league to throw to, Rob Gronkowski. Along with Gronkowski, the Patriots also brought in another huge TE to the passing game, Martellus Bennett. Between Gronk and Marty B, the Patriots will have probably the top TE duo in the league. Gronk is a threat as a big target in the open field no matter what the situation. Bennett isn’t the same but he’ll be a huge target as the Patriots march towards the end zone. Also with the wealth of talent at the TE position, the Patriots have an underrated veteran led receiving core. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are somewhat injury prone but when healthy they are as tough as they come. The way to stop the Patriots offense has always been through the offensive line and that won’t be any different in 2016. The Patriots will be looking to get better play from that unit this season but it’s unclear if that will come in fruition. New England made a trade for OG Jonathan Cooper but he is already facing injury problems much like he did in Arizona. Thinking of Arizona, it’s time to talk about that defense because the Patriots got Cooper by trading away their best defensive player. Even though the Patriots have been successful in recent years without having a top defense, they will greatly miss Chandler Jones on that defensive line. The Patriots do have a nice mix of young guys and veterans on the defensive line but no players on the level on a Jones. At defensive end, Rob Ninkovich returns and Jabaal Sheard will probably be the guy who will get the first crack at replacing Jones. The Pats also brought in veteran Chris Long from the Rams but his best days as a pro are probably behind him. New England had a top ten run defense in 2015 and they’ll look to continue that success in 2016. Malcolm Brown and Alan Branch will probably be the starters inside on the defensive line. I like the addition of DT Terrance Knighton who didn’t have a great season last year in Washington but he’ll be a key mentor and leader this season. At linebacker, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins are a decent duo. They brought in Shea McClellin from Chicago who didn’t fit over there in a 3-4 defense. If he can improve, he’ll add some flexibility as a guy who can play outside linebacker and can rush the passer on passing downs. New England’s secondary was a middle of the road unit last season and I don’t see how they improved in the offseason. CB Malcolm Butler is probably their best corner but I’m not sure if that’s really a good thing. Safety Devin McCourty is a leader in the secondary and probably the only consistent playmaker. Patrick Chung has had some rough recent season in New England but they have failed to replace him. I’m not sure how much of an impact a rookie can have but I really like 2nd round pick, Cyrus Jones out of Alabama. So basically, I think this Patriots team will be much like how they’ve been recently. The defense may overachieve but it will be Brady and the offense as the tone setters on this team. Despite being dominated in that AFC Championship game a season ago, it was amazing to see Brady and the offense rally and still almost pull off the comeback. That will serve as motivation going into this season. Again, they will not face much of a challenge in the AFC East but because of their losses on defense, I’m not sure if they’ll be able to match what they did a season ago in the playoffs. I think Brady will return ready and refreshed. But Father Time is still undefeated and you have to wonder if this will be the season where he starts to decline. I don’t think we’ll see that happen in 2016 but I don’t know how good New England will be in the post season this year because of the losses on defense. Prediction: 11-5 (AFC East Champs)

New York Jets – The Jets had surprise success in 2015 and even more surprising, they have IK Enemkpali to thank for that. But seriously, I don’t see the Jets having the success they had offensively with Geno Smith as the starting QB. Ryan Fitzpatrick may be a career journeyman but he was exactly what the Jets needed at QB last season. After a lengthy contract holdout, Fitzpatrick is back for 2016 looking forward to leading the Jets aerial attack once again. I don’t know if Fitzpatrick will be able to create the same success he had a season ago but the Jets will have the tools on offense once again to succeed. The offensive line may have gotten better as they traded for a new left tackle, Ryan Clady, who started for a Super Bowl champion a season ago. Fitzpatrick built a great relationship with the two, big outside receiving threats on this team, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Marshall is coming off one of his best seasons and Decker proved to be a valuable piece of the passing attack. The Jets need to develop more depth at that position though. I also think the Jets got better at RB. Chris Ivory left for Jacksonville but they signed Matt Forte. Forte isn’t a tough, between the tackles, runner that Ivory is but he is a lot more versatile as a receiver out of the backfield and he offers more speed once he gets to the second level. The Jets also have decent depth at the RB position with Bilal Powell and Bernard Pierce. There is a lot to be optimistic about for the Jets on offense this season. Going into the offseason, there were a lot of questions surrounding the strength of the Jets defense, the defensive line. Muhammad Wilkerson was in a contract dispute and Sheldon Richardson was rumored to be facing a lengthy suspension. Wilkerson got his long-term contract, Richardson will only miss one game, and they also have a young beast in 2nd year tackle Leonard Williams. The Jets will continue to be strong up front defensively in 2016. At outside linebacker, the Jets will be looking for some more growth from Lorenzo Mauldin who had a decent rookie season. The middle of the defense will continue to be anchored down but veteran LB David Harris. Also keep an eye out for rookie, first round pick, LB Darron Lee, who was among one of the quickest at the position in this past draft. CB Darrelle Revis returns once again as the leader of the secondary. Revis is still a top defensive player in this league but their really isnt much around him in this Jets secondary. Safeties Calvin Pryor and Marcus Gilchrist are average at best and the Jets really don’t have a solid starter opposite of Revis at CB. Outside of Revis, I don’t think the Jets secondary is that great but the strength of the defense comes from up front and that usually always helps out that unit. The Jets return a defense that was 2nd in the league at stopping the run last season. Head coach Todd Bowles surprised everyone with that success his Jets had a season ago and they will hope to build on that in 2016. The Jets actually look strong on paper but I think last year was a case where a lot of things went right. And even with that, the Jets still missed the playoffs. I think the Jets will be a tough football team again this year but I don’t see them overtaking New England in 2016. They will definitely compete for a playoff spot. Prediction: 8-8

Buffalo Bills – Rex Ryan arrived in Buffalo last year with so much noise and hype but it didn’t really materialize into anything last year. The Bills played some stretches of good football but by the end of the season, they fell apart. The Bills still have some good players going into 2016 but now they are completely rebuilding the defense and I don’t know if they’ll be able to resemble the team that Ryan wants so quickly. I’m confident that Rex Ryan can be successful in Buffalo but I’m worried about the Bills giving him enough time to build up his defensive scheme. On offense, Buffalo is pretty much set and they’ll be looking to continue the success they had a season ago especially on the ground. The Bills found their QB last season in Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is a great athlete and an average QB but he fits what the Bills want to do on offense. Buffalo had the best running attack in the league a season ago and Taylor is apart of that. Even a bigger part of the running game is all-pro LeSean McCoy. McCoy had a disappointing season by his standards and he’ll be looking forward to starting 2016 completely healthy and with a chip on his shoulder. Last year, RB Karlos Williams was a break out player and was a great compliment to McCoy. Williams is currently facing suspension and is dealing with some injury issues. So, Buffalo also brought in veteran Reggie Bush who might have a role early on this season while Williams is out. I’m not sure what Bush has left in the tank but at the least, Buffalo run blocks very well and Bush might have some left to offer in special teams. Buffalo’s passing attack could be better but lets face it: passing isn’t Tyrod Taylor’s strong suit. And its really a shame because WR Sammy Watkins is able to put up much better numbers than what he has shown but they need to find a way to get him more touches. QB’s like Taylor usually have a decent option at TE and that what he has in Charles Clay. In 2016, the running game will set the tempo for the Bills offense again. When pressed, Taylor can be a playmaker with this arm and his legs. But I don’t know if he can be good enough where the offense doesn’t have to lean on the running game so much. I don’t know what to expect from the Bills defense this season because Rex Ryan is in the process of completely rebuilding that unit in his 3-4 scheme. On the defensive line, DT Marcell Dareus will continue to be a disruptor but he will need more help around him. For a team making a transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, the Bills actually have a decent group of LB’s. But they may be already hurt in that department due to injuries. First round pick, Shaq Lawson, will miss the beginning of the season and second round pick, Reggie Ragland, is going to miss his entire rookie season. Inside at linebacker, I think Preston Brown and Zach Brown (no relation) will do just fine. But the Rex Ryan defense needs pass rushers to excel. OLB Jerry Hughes can get the QB but Buffalo needs more than just him. In the secondary, Buffalo has a good pair of starting CB’s in Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby. Also, Ed Reed will coach the secondary, which is exciting. I like Buffalo’s core as a ground and pound team on offense and a tough run stuffing team on defense. But there aren’t enough pieces on both sides of the ball where I can see this team taking the next step. I sure hope that the Buffalo front office realizes that Ryan needs at least one more offseason to get the defense closer to what he had in New York. The blueprint for success is there in Buffalo. They are just going to have to give Rex a little more time. Prediction: 7-9

Miami Dolphins – A season ago, Miami made so much noise in the offseason with the moves they made in free agency. At the end, it proved to be a disaster and their head coach was fired. Going into 2016, I was hoping that Miami would hire a stronger personality to really grab ahold of this locker room instead of hiring “insert successful coordinator’s name here”. Instead we got the latter and I don’t sense much excitement surrounding this team going into this season. Everyone is still waiting for QB Ryan Tannehill to break out. I’m starting to think that this isn’t a good thing that we are still waiting. Either Tannehill is going to become this next great Dolphins QB or he is not. To Tannehill’s credit, he has done better statistically each season but he hasn’t done good enough where he can raise Miami out of mediocrity. Again to his credit, that task might be too tall for just for him. Miami’s supporting cast on offense didn’t get better in the offseason with the departure of starting RB Lamar Miller. Miller left for Houston and Miami really didn’t think much on the subject of replacing him. They have second year RB Jay Ajayi who is still struggling to stay healthy and they brought in Adrian Foster from Houston who is an aging veteran. Journeyman Isaiah Pead might end up being the Week 1 starter. At receiver, Tannehill has a good collection of talent to throw to. Jarvis Landry wont get the fame that fellow LSU Tiger Odell Beckham Jr receives in New York but he is probably just as good of a receiver. DeVante Parker merely scratched the surface in his rookie season and Miami will be looking for him to have a bigger role in the passing game in 2016. Tannehill also has a good target at TE in Jordan Cameron. Not having a running game will hurt this Miami offense but I think its time for Tannehill to go all-gunslinger this year and see if he can become an elite passer in this league. Miami’s defense was a massive disappointment last season. Ndamukong Suh got the big money deal from Miami but the team isn’t getting a fair return as Miami had one of the worst run defenses last season. Suh should be extra motivated to return to the form that made him one of the most feared defenders in football. DE Cameron Wake is still one of the best pass rushers in football. DE Mario Williams was brought in from Buffalo to replace Olivier Vernon. Wake is coming off from an injury and Williams is an aging vet at this point of his career. Miami’s defensive line was such a disappointment last season; I really don’t have any realistic expectations for them in 2016. But Miami is going to have to have that unit improve if they hope to amount to anything in 2016. Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins are decent LB’s and Miami brought in Kiko Alonso who is coming off injury-plagued seasons in Buffalo and Philadelphia. If healthy, Alonso will improve the Miami LB core. Miami’s secondary is headlined by safety Reshad Jones who is coming off his best season as a pro. Miami brought in Byron Maxwell who found out last season that life outside of Seattle can be rough. I expect even more abuse for him in 2016 as he just wasn’t that good to begin with. Miami’s secondary was a weak point last season and that will probably be the same in 2016. With the hiring of Adam Gase at head coach, I really don’t know what is Miami’s long-term plan with this team. With so many high profiled veterans, this locker room is not the place for a rookie head coach. Miami is short on talent and leadership. Prediction: 5-11

2016 NFL Draft Grades: AFC

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

AFC EAST

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

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

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

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

AFC NORTH

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

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

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

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

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

AFC SOUTH

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

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

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

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

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

AFC WEST

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

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

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

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

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

Elias McMillan’s 2016 NFL MOCK Draft!

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 21 Chattanooga at Florida State

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

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

ROUND ONE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Detroit could go from Megatron to Mega-quon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROUND TWO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Derrick Henry is a literal monster playing running back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NFL 2015: Mid-Season Report

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At the mid-season mark, what’s not to like about this Carolina Panthers squad?

By: Elias McMillan

Now that every team has played at least 8 games, here are my top 5 surprises and disappointments in this 2015 NFL Season. Also, I have mid-season awards and a REVISED prediction for Super Bowl 50.

Top Five Surprising Teams

  1. Carolina Panthers (8-0) – Before the season started, I believed that the Panthers could still repeat as NFC South champions this season. But I couldn’t imagine them being without a loss at the half point of the season. I had no doubts that the defense in Carolina would be very good but I thought that the lack of offensive weapons would have kept them from being serious title contenders this year. But the offense, led by Cam Newton, has done just enough to win games and beat some of the better teams in the NFC. Carolina looks like they’ll have a clear path to home field advantage in this season’s playoffs.
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (8-0) – I thought that the Bengals would take a serious step back before the season started. Cincinnati has a lot of talent but I thought because of past failures, they wouldn’t be able to put it all together for one more playoff run. Instead, Cincy has improved play on their defensive line and the offense is still able to strike quickly and often. The Bengals look to be a lock to make the playoffs again but time will tell if they will actually be able to advance pass the first round this time around.
  3. New York Jets (5-3) – The Jets were supposed to stink this year. Instead, new head coach Todd Bowles has reenergized the team and they are now sitting in second place in the AFC East. There was a lot of hype surrounding Buffalo and Miami before the season started but the Jets have successfully risen up from behind the radar. The strength behind this Jets team has been the defensive front seven and the return of their power running game behind RB Chris Ivory. The Jets will have a tough road in the second half of the season but they might actually have a good chance at returning to the playoffs.
  4. Atlanta Falcons (6-3) – Atlanta was an early season surprise before they started to cool down significantly recently. Atlanta’s defense was playing way above expectations and RB Devonta Freeman was the breakout star on this offense. Atlanta has started to fall back to earth but they still might be able to ride their big play offense into the playoffs. They still have two games left on the schedule against the division leading Panthers.
  5. New England Patriots (8-0) – Yea, I know that the undefeated Patriots aren’t that big of a surprise but I didn’t think they would be this good of a team because of all their losses on the defensive side of the ball. Tom Brady hasn’t missed a game this season and the Patriots offense is the usual machine that it has always been. But for whatever reason, the defense hasn’t let down like I thought they would. The Patriots actually rank third in the league in rush defense.

Top Five Disappointing Teams

  1. Baltimore Ravens (2-6) – I had the Ravens competing for the AFC North title this season. A lot of people have been saying that the turning point of this season for the Ravens was when Terrell Suggs was lost due to injury. I think the bigger loss happened before the season when Baltimore traded away Haloti Ngata. Baltimore’s defense has regressed this season and the offense hasn’t been able to put it together. Joe Flacco has regressed and his receivers have been dropping like flies. This has been a truly lost season for John Harbaugh.
  2. Indianapolis Colts (4-5) – I realize that the Colts will still probably win the AFC South but there are an under .500 team and I had them winning it all before the season started. The Colts have severely under performed this season from the head coach, to the QB, and to the defense. The Colts are fortunate to be in the AFC South but they wont be the title contenders that I thought they would be at the start of the season.
  3. Miami Dolphins (3-5) – At the start of the season, I said that the Dolphins had “underachiever” written all over them. And for the most part, I was right. The defense has really let the entire team down and Ryan Tannehill isnt having the breakout season that we all thought he would be having. Good news is that they at least fired that stiff of a head coach. I hope Dan Campbell can turn it around and the Dolphins can finish off the season respectfully.
  4. Dallas Cowboys (2-6) – The Cowboys season has been completely wreck due to injuries but they still belong on this list. When Tony Romo went down, the belief was there that they had the talent to at least tread water until he returns. Instead, the Cowboys have lost 6 straight without Romo. The plan at backup QB has been a disaster, as well as the plan to replace DeMarco Murray. Whats even more disappointing is that the defense is even under performing. Because the NFC East stinks, Dallas literally has one more chance to maybe save the season this Sunday in Tampa. It’s a slim chance but a chance nonetheless.
  5. Detroit Lions (1-7) – With all the losses on the defensive line, I knew that Detroit would take a step back in 2015. But I didn’t think it would be this bad. Despite all of the talent of the offensive side of the ball and the additions to the offensive line, Detroit has completely flew off the handle and now, wholesale changes are on the horizon.

Mid-Season Awards

MVP: Tom Brady (QB – Patriots) – New England is probably the best team in the AFC and it’s because of the play of their QB. Brady has returned with a vengeance and is showing no signs of slowing down. I don’t think of his play as much as a “revenge tour” though that is a cool idea. But Brady has been what he has always been, a future Hall of Famer with a killer instinct. In the offseason, the AFC East teams stacked their defensive lines in order to stop Brady. Nothing has worked as of yet.

Offensive MVP: Antonio Brown (WR – Steelers) – I’m still kind of in awe of the game that Brown had a couple days ago. With Le’Veon Bell out, Brown will be the engine that will keep the Pittsburgh offense going into the post-season. No one on the league works harder than Brown and his numbers reflect that.

Defensive MVP: Charles Woodson (S – Raiders) – Woodson is having a renaissance of a season in 2015. He leads the league in interceptions and is a reason for Oakland’s recent turn around.

My REVISED Prediction for Super Bowl 50

In the NFC, I don’t see my preseason pick, Seattle, making it out. They might still eventually win the NFC West but they don’t look like the same team they were last season. The offensive line play and the unpredictability of Russell Wilson will probably cost them in the playoffs. Green Bay is a contender but I don’t trust their defense or their offensive line. Carolina maybe beatable because of their inexperience but they are clearly the lone stand out in the conference. In the AFC, I had the Colts coming out of the conference and winning it all. They probably wont happen though the Colts will win their division. Pittsburgh has so much freaking talent. I mean, how else are they still winning ball games with all the injuries they have. Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t getting enough credit but they still have significant weaknesses in the secondary. Roethlisberger may get healthy again but I’m not sure if I can trust them in playoffs especially if they cant catch the Bengals. Thinking of the Bengals, they might be sitting pretty in the AFC when its all set and done. I think it will come down to Cincinnati and New England in the AFC. And Cincy might stand a good chance if their defensive line and bother Tom Brady. The closer will be the fact that I don’t trust Andy Dalton at all in the post season. Remember the run that Joe Flacco had in his Super Bowl season? Do you think Dalton has that in him? I don’t. You can’t also forget about the Broncos. Denver has the best defense in football but the inconsistencies of offense might keep them from making the Super Bowl. New England is beatable, much like last season. But if they can overcome the defenses of Cincinnati and Denver, they will back their way into yet another Super Bowl appearance. REVISED Super Bowl 50 Prediction: Panthers over Patriots