Early 2019 NFL Mock Draft: Defensive Linemen Fly Off The Board

The NFL season has hit its quarter point. Division races are starting to shape, and there are teams that are gravitating towards the top of the draft board. Yet, the season is still surprising to this point.

Right now, the Atlanta Falcons are drafting in the top 10. The Patriots currently sit at pick 16, and the Bengals and Ravens are in the last five picks at the end of the first round.

Sounds like a season that everyone predicted.

The other part of the equation is becoming clearer as well. After five weeks of college football, we are learning plenty about the incoming draft class. Everyone has found out by now that defensive line and wide receiver are both very deep in this class. Getting a strong pass rush is important, and teams are seeing that first hand with how the Bears are playing with Khalil Mack.

So, without further ado, here is my first mock draft for 2019, the first of many to come in the next six months.

1. Arizona Cardinals: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

The Arizona Cardinals have needs on both the offensive and defensive line. However, the offensive line performed alright against the Seahawks on Sunday, giving Josh Rosen ample time on many longer forming plays. It’s the defensive line that could use the bigger boost to create pressure. They go with Ed Oliver from Houston, a player who has gotten comparisons to Aaron Donald. Oliver plays very quick for his 290 pound frame, and is a pass rusher from the interior as well as a strong presence to play gaps in the run game. He will thrive wherever he goes.

2. New York Jets: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State

Like the Cardinals, the Jets sit atop the draft with their quarterback situation figured out. Sam Darnold looks like he is full of potential. The defense is playing better this season as well, especially in the secondary and at linebacker. The one thing they are missing is someone who can consistently get after the quarterback. This is where Nick Bosa comes in. Bosa is an excellent pass rusher with a good get off and the ability to win with many different moves. He uses his hands very well and doesn’t give up ground while he does, which is an elite trait for rushers. Bosa and Leonard Williams would be a nice duo on the line.

3. San Francisco 49ers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

The 49ers would love it if Bosa would have fallen to them, but they don’t get lucky in this scenario. If going edge is out of the question, getting help on the perimeter for their secondary should also be up there on the priority list. While they did sign Richard Sherman in the offseason, he isn’t a long term solution. Second year corner Ahkello Witherspoon is getting good reps this season, but it’s likely he won’t be a number one corner. So, the Niners go with Greedy Williams. Williams is a physical corner with plenty of speed and the ability to mirror routes. He would come in and provide a spark to that defense.

4. Houston Texans: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

If you’ve watched the Texans this year, you’ve seen a team that has been in games with their defense, but the offense hasn’t been anywhere near as explosive as they were with Deshaun Watson last season. This is due to the lack of talent along the offensive line, something the Texans haven’t put focus into the line in a while. If they end up picking this high, finding someone to protect Watson is of utmost importance. Adding Jonah Williams is a first step to a complete rebuild. Williams is a powerful presence at left tackle with strong hands and good footwork to handle opposing rushers. He can play from the get go.

5. Indianapolis Colts: Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama

The Indianapolis Colts are still very much a work in progress, even with the return of Andrew Luck. After investing heavily in the offensive line in the 2018 draft, 2019 needs to be about getting studs for the defense. It starts for them on the defensive line, where there is no true difference maker. Either edge or the interior would work to build around, and the Colts ultimately go with Raekwon Davis. Davis is a taller defensive lineman with a lot of length. He does a great job getting low and winning with his lower body, but he can also use his hands well and move quick to get around blocks. The Colts have to start somewhere, and Davis would be a good one.

6. Detroit Lions: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson

The Lions unquestionably need help along the edge, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Ziggy Ansah. If he walks after the season, the Lions pass rush is on life support. Adding someone with the talent of Clelin Ferrell would be a big help. Ferrell has good bend for his size and strong hands. He would provide immediate help, and the Lions would have the opportunity to double up later in the draft.

7. Buffalo Bills: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

The Bills just got their quarterback in 2018, and they could use some help to protect him, but it’s tough to say that another tackle is worth of a top 10 selection at this point. The defensive line is one of the better groups in Buffalo this season, but they could use an elite talent. Rashan Gary would probably play end for the Bills even with his current size, but he has enough twitch to become a dominant player. It hasn’t shown up much on the stat sheet for Gary this season, but he has the traits to eventually get the production where it needs to be.

8. New York Giants: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Finally, a team with a need at quarterback. The Giants have drafted a quarterback in the last two drafts, but they didn’t give Davis Webb much of a chance and Kyle Lauletta isn’t the long term answer. It’s time to actually get a strong plan in place for when Eli Manning finally hangs it up. This quarterback class still has plenty of questions, but right now, Justin Herbert is the top guy. Herbert has the arm to make special throws, and he’s had a very good season so far. He still needs to work on handling pressure and will need to take snaps under center throughout the draft process, but he is the best the class has to offer right now.

9. Atlanta Falcons: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State

Atlanta has struggled so far in the season, and they have had so many injuries on defense. The roster is still extremely good, and the Falcons can afford a luxury pick here. The offensive line is getting older, and having some depth is important for Matt Ryan. Dalton Risner started out as a center for Kansas State, and he’s playing right tackle this season. His versatility is something teams will like, and the Falcons would love to be able to play him at multiple spots along the line.

10. Oakland Raiders: Devin White, LB, LSU

The Raiders still need pass rush help (no matter what Gruden says), but Oakland hasn’t had a dominant linebacker for a very long time. It’s time for that to change. Devin White would bring some much needed athleticism to the linebacker position. He is excellent as a sideline-to-sideline player and will be an effective blitzer with his speed. With the depth the Raiders currently have, White could come in a be a starter, even with how raw he still is.

11. Minnesota Vikings: David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin 

This trend has been getting pretty old, but the Minnesota Vikings one roster hole right now is on the offensive line. The group just doesn’t have the technicians at tackle, and their interior line has suffered injury. If they want to sustain success, especially on offense, the Vikings need to find a better option at tackle. David Edwards continues a long line of Wisconsin offensive linemen with very good NFL potential. Edwards is a powerful right tackle with enough technique to move over to the left side. He would be a great addition for Minnesota’s line.

12. Cleveland Browns: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

The Browns got one future stud at corner in the 2018 draft (Denzel Ward), but the secondary is far from a finished product. He isn’t getting a lot of buzz on draft boards, but Deandre Baker definitely has the league’s attention at cornerback. He is a tough, physical player at the line of scrimmage with very good coverage skills. He already has two picks in 2018, and hasn’t yet allowed a touchdown. He would look great on the opposite side of Ward in 2019.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama

It’s no secret that the Steelers are in need of defensive help after their performance through four games in 2018. Secondary and linebacker are two major points of concern, and the linebacker position has been hurting since the loss of Ryan Shazier. Mack Wilson could come in and be the linebacker the Steelers have been missing. Wilson has the speed and size to play in today’s NFL. He has great anticipation and is a physical downhill tackler.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Dre’Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State

The Dallas Cowboys are in an odd situation. It looks like this year won’t be a playoff year for them, but the roster really isn’t too bad. The defense is young, but is improving greatly, especially in the secondary. It’s a crazy thought, but quarterback might not be out of the question come next April if the organization feels like Dak Prescott isn’t the guy. The Cowboys ultimately settle on defensive line. Dre’Mont Jones would be a great addition along that line. David Irving is finally back, and Demarcus Lawrence has played great the last two seasons, but it never hurts to add more to the mix. Jones is an athletic lineman with plenty of quickness to get around blocks. He will be a great presence rushing the passer from the interior.

15. Seattle Seahawks: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State

The Seattle Seahawks are a shell of the defense they had back in 2013. With Earl Thomas going down last Sunday, their true difference makers left are Bobby Wagner and Frank Clark. Here, they add another difference maker who can help get their defense back to where it was. Brian Burns is an edge rusher with excellent bend around the edge. He also possesses good counter moves. Burns would fit right in opposite Clark.

16. New England Patriots: Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

It’s odd to see the Patriots picking this high, but through four weeks, this is where they stand. Their team just isn’t built like it was earlier in the decade. Instead of picking a defensive star, the Pats begin the plan of life after Tom Brady. Brady has likely two seasons or so left in the tank, and they need a back up plan after Jimmy Garoppolo was traded last season. Will Grier would be a perfect prospect to bring in to wait for a bit. He has the arm strength and touch down the field to succeed in the NFL. Working with Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels would ensure his development.

17. Denver Broncos: Brian Lewerke, QB, Michigan State

The Broncos brought in Case Keenum in the offseason after his very good 2017 in Minnesota. So far this season, he has been underwhelming, and Denver’s recent draft picks at quarterback haven’t been good. They need to go out and find a signal caller for the future in this draft. Here, they end up with Brian Lewereke from Michigan State. Lewerke has a strong pocket presence and throws with good timing and anticipation. Another strong season in 2018 will see him rise up draft boards.

18. Philadelphia Eagles: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi

The Eagles have started slow in 2018, and part of the blame has to come from their pass catcher depth. Alshon Jeffery finally got into action last week, and before that, the group was being carried by slot receiver Nelson Agholor. It’s important that they continue to supply Carson Wentz with weapons. Mississippi wideout D.K. Metcalf would be a great addition to the Eagles. He is a big receiver who can win above the rim, and he also has a great release off the line to separate from defenders. Having another big target in Philly would be a huge benefit.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

The Bucs got off to a strong start in 2018 thanks to some Fitzmagic, but the past two weeks have humbled them a bit. This team may not find themselves in the postseason, which will put Dirk Koetter on the hot seat. It is entirely possible that they could pick a quarterback in April with the up and down career Jameis Winston has had, but here they elect to go with defense. Justin Evans is a nice player on the back end, but adding Deionte Thompson gives them help near the line of scrimmage as well. Thompson could play either safety spot, as he has the range and anticipation to play deep as well as the physicality to play near the LOS.

20. Los Angeles Chargers: Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State

The Chargers are still contending in the twilight of Philip Rivers’ career, and adding pieces around him should be the top priority. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are a great duo on the edge, but they could use some help on the interior. Los Angeles gets a break with Jeffery Simmons falling to them. Simmons has been an absolute force on the Mississippi State line this season, and he would make the Chargers defense even more dangerous.

21. Green Bay Packers: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State

The Packers finally got help at corner in last year’s draft, leaving edge as their most important position to address for 2019. Both Nick Perry and Clay Matthews are underperforming right now, and adding someone to ignite the group is huge. Montez Sweat is a long edge rusher with good bend and hand usage. He would fit right in in Mike Pettine’s scheme.

22. Washington Redskins: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

The Washington Redskins have been a pleasant surprise through four weeks in 2018. Alex Smith and the offense have been doing well, and the defense is getting plenty of pressure on opponents. However, it wouldn’t hurt to give Smith another weapon on the outside. Adding an electric playmaker like N’Keal Harry would be a big benefit to the offense. Harry is a tall, lanky wide receiver who can win above the rim and also create big gains after the catch.

23. Miami Dolphins: Zach Allen, DL, Boston College

The Dolphins are another surprise through four games this season, and they can contend for a playoff spot in a weak AFC. When looking to 2019, getting help along the defensive line will be a big priority. They have already lost William Hayes to a torn ACL this season. Robert Quinn isn’t getting any younger. The Dolphins also haven’t gotten much out of Charles Harris so far. Adding someone like Zach Allen, who can play in multiple spots along the line, would be a nice get for Miami.

24. Tennessee Titans: Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson 

The Titans are quietly building a strong defense under head coach Mike Vrabel. They are already getting returns from second round pick Harold Landry, and Jurrell Casey continues to be a beast in the middle. Rashaan Evans will likely contribute as well at linebacker real soon. Here, the Titans add another interior presence with game wrecking potential. Dexter Lawrence moves well for 340 pounds, and he can take on plenty of double teams to free up guys on the outside. He will also be a big help against the run.

25. Carolina Panthers: Levonta Taylor, CB, Florida State

The Panthers got some relief at corner in the 2018 draft, selecting burner Donte Jackson. Now, they add someone with a much more technical skill. Levonta Taylor got plenty of hype entering the season for Florida State. With the Seminoles not getting much attention, Taylor is quietly putting together a strong year. He is great in man coverage and has great anticipation to jump in front of routes.

26. Oakland Raiders (from Bears): Taylor Rapp, S, Washington

The Raiders continue to add to their defense here, getting a versatile safety in Taylor Rapp. Rapp plays all over for the Washington Huskies, from a deep third to man coverage in the slot. He has the speed to hang with receivers, and is a great filler in the run game as a tackler. He is an aggressive playmaker as well, something Oakland seriously needs.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kelvin Harmon, WR, North Carolina State

The Jags are committed to Blake Bortles, so they pass on a potential stud at quarterback. The offense has a decent group of receivers, but they are still in need of a number one guy. Kelvin Harmon has the potential to be that guy. At six foot three, he has the size and frame to be a big time red zone target. He can win above the rim with very strong hands. He isn’t a precise route runner, but he can come in and thrive in the red zone and be a bailout guy for a 50/50 ball.

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

Probably the biggest surprise of the first round, the Bengals decide to get a plan in place to replace longtime quarterback Andy Dalton, despite a strong start to the 2018 season. The weapons are in place, and the Bengals can take their time developing Drew Lock, who has good potential. Lock has a very good arm and can make high difficulty throws, including the back shoulder throw. He needs to work on developing as a quarterback who can take snaps under center, but his ceiling is higher than Dalton’s at this point.

29. Green Bay Packers (from Saints): Marqise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

The Packers moved on from Jordy Nelson in the offseason, and their receiver group, while a reliable bunch, still needs to find a gamebreaker who can threaten defenses down the field. Here, they select Marqise Brown, who is dominating the Big 12 right now. He has the speed and explosiveness the Packers are looking for, and adding a consistent influx of playmakers to help Aaron Rodgers is important down the stretch of his career.

30. Baltimore Ravens: Anfernee Jennings, DE, Oregon

The Ravens drafted two tight ends in the 2018 draft in order to give quarterback Joe Flacco more weapons on offense. In the 2019 first round, they shift back to drafting defense. Even though Ozzie Newsome completed his last draft as the Ravens GM, that doesn’t mean the Alabama ties completely go away. Anfernee Jennings is a strong edge defender with strong hands and a great presence in the run game. He lacks some explosiveness around the edge, but he is a sound player who will give the Ravens some depth.

31. Los Angeles Rams: Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida

Remember. This. Name. Florida edge defender Jachai Polite is turning heads after his last couple performances, most recently against Mississippi State. Polite has serious explosiveness and bend around the edge, and teams are always looking for that dynamic presence. The Rams have great depth on the interior, but they are still looking for a difference maker on the edge. Polite can be that guy for them.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State 

The Chiefs are riding high thanks to the great play of Patrick Mahomes and the offense thus far. However, the Chiefs are finding themselves having to win in shootouts, pointing to a need on the defensive side of the ball. They traded away Marcus Peters in the offseason, but did Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade. Kansas City still needs help at corner, and adding Kendall Sheffield would help. Sheffield is the latest talent to come out of Ohio State and his technique and speed are important traits to have as a corner.

Thoughts on your team’s selection? Who is the first round missing right now? Let me know on Twitter @JakeNFLDraft. 

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The Weekend Cap: Rams/Chiefs Rise, Scouting Notes, Packers Thoughts

A wise man once said that we really don’t know anything. That statement has never been more true than this past weekend in the NFL. We believed we had foregone conclusions, positive for some teams, negatives for others, and we were shocked to find out those conclusions were incorrect.

Somehow we keep doing this every single year. After two weeks, we assume we know where teams are at and where they will go. We assume no upsets will occur, certain teams are done, and certain teams won’t falter.

I’m not saying I disagree with the condition that 90 percent of teams who start 0-2 don’t make the postseason. That data still holds. But, there will be 0-2 teams that finish in the middle of the pack and don’t end up with the top pick in the draft. Some 1-1 teams will finish better than 2-0 teams.

What I am saying is it’s a long season and we don’t quite know where every team will be come December.

What we can do is react to what we saw in week three of the NFL season.**

**Plus, some scouting notes and a Packers-only section.

Two Teams At The Top

There are three teams sitting at 3-0 after week three in the NFL season, and one undefeated team still has a chance to get themselves to 3-0 tonight. However, two of those teams are very much in their own class.

Also, quick note. It is interesting that there will be a max of four undefeated teams after three week. It speaks to the parity that still exists in the NFL, something that is a great product driver.

The Rams and Chiefs are the class of the league at this point. There is no denying that.

The Chiefs are still riding the hot start of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who now has 13 touchdown passes after three weeks, breaking the record previously held by Peyton Manning. He has also found nine different receivers for a touchdown, which is impressive after only three weeks. The offense is full of weapons, from stars like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, to Sammy Watkins, who is clearly thriving in this offense.

This speaks to the success and genius of head coach Andy Reid. Reid has consistently been one of the best offensive minds in the league, and his work with Mahomes so far is especially astounding. Mahomes ran a spread at Texas Tech, and NFL concepts like taking snaps under center and working through progressions had plenty of analysts weary. It shows how much Andy Reid can help young quarterbacks and shape an offense to tailor to their strengths.

Speaking of the development of Mahomes, the Chiefs did something that isn’t common in today’s NFL with rookie quarterbacks. Kansas City moved up to select Mahomes in 2017, certain he would be the franchise quarterback in the future. Then, they let him sit behind Alex Smith to work on his game and his transition to the NFL. Most quarterbacks who are first round picks nowadays end up thrown into the fire at some point, whether it be because of injury or incompetence in front of them. Not the Chiefs though. They had the plan in place to draft someone like Mahomes. That plan is a reason why you are seeing the start he is having.

Let’s move over to the other 3-0 team with plenty to be excited about. The Los Angeles Rams acquired plenty of veteran talent in the offseason, adding Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Brandin Cookls, and Aqib Talib. Many wondered if head coach Sean McVay could work all the new guys in along with continuing to evolve as an offense. So far, the transition looks good. Brandin Cooks is not just playing decoy in the offense as a deep threat (seven catches for 90 yards on Sunday), and Suh looks like he is racing Aaron Donald to the quarterback on every play.

Let’s also not forget about the continued rise of quarterback Jared Goff. Many wrote him off as a franchise quarterback after one season under Jeff Fisher, but the presence of Sean McVay completely turned his career arc around. He is the comfortable pocket maneuvering, dime-dropping player that many saw leading up to the 2016 draft. He made a throw to the sideline yesterday in between two defenders to Robert Woods that made jaws drop.

They are dealing with some injuries right now on both sides of the ball, but the Rams are the most complete team on both sides of the ball at this point in the season.

Roughing The Passer Is Out Of Hand

Another week, another showing of why the roughing the passer call needs to be changed. Clay Matthews has been the center of attention in this saga after three roughing the passer penalties in three weeks. The first one against Chicago was a fair call, as Matthews went up high at Mitchell Trubisky’s head. Last week, Matthews hit Kirk Cousins as he threw and “drove him into the ground” (he did not). This week, Matthews was penalized sacking Alex Smith. Smith didn’t get rid of the ball, and Matthews just took him down. However, he was penalized because he put all of his weight on him.

This rule is absolute garbage.

On most plays, players put their full body weight on each other, defined as a tackle. This rule that was enforced yesterday seems like a penalty will be assessed for sacking the quarterback.

Or will it? Because it happened in that game, with Da’Ron Payne throwing Aaron Rodgers hard into the ground wit his head hitting the ground first. Penalty? None whatsoever.

Officiating in general is pretty inconsistent, but this is next level. If you are going to implement a rule as bad as this, and then not be consistent with it, that’s a problem on top of a problem.

The issue of not being able to sack the quarterback normally creates an issue for a defender when they reach the quarterback, and it could lead to injury. Oh wait, it’s already happened. Dolphins defensive end William Hayes tore his ACL trying to avoid landing hard on Derek Carr when he sacked him. This could become more common under this rule.

Not only that, but the league is standing strong on the idea of player safety when talking about this rule. They say player safety, but they mean quarterback (and offense) safety. It doesn’t seem like anyone seems to care about defensive player safety. Out in space Sunday, an Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman went low on Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson and proceeded to roll over into his leg, leading to most likely a severe injury.

What’s the takeaway here? The NFL has issues with the product right now, and the unrest is growing.

Don’t Worry About The Patriots, Yet

The Patriots didn’t look quite like themselves last Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, allowing Blake Bortles and company to shred them through the air. The offense also only mustered 20 points. After that, many expected that the rout would be on Sunday in Detroit.

It didn’t quite go that way.

The offense only scored 10 points, and Tom Brady completed just 14 of 26 for 133 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The defense allowed Detroit to have their first 100 yard rushing game since 2013. This wasn’t the performance everyone expected.

So, is there something wrong with the Patriots? They haven’t lost back-to-back games by double digits since 2002. Yes, you read that correctly.

If you look back at previous seasons, the trend is there. The Patriots just do not start well in the regular season. This is a team that consistently starts slow and finishes strong. The offense doesn’t look quite right, but Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman will soon be joining the offense. The defense will hopefully get Trey Flowers back soon.

So, the Patriots are fine, for now. However, there are definitely concerns on the defensive side of the ball that need to be addressed. The offense doesn’t get a pass for last night’s performance either.

What Are The Cardinals Doing?

We discussed above that the Chiefs sitting Mahomes paid huge dividends. When it comes to the 2018 quarterback class, all five first round selections have had some sort of game action. Sam Darnold and Josh Allen are the only two who have started games so far, but that will change this coming week with Baker Mayfield set to start for Cleveland.

The debuts have shown mixed results. However, no debut is as nuts as the debut of Josh Rosen for the Arizona Cardinals this weekend.

Arizona built a quick 14-0 lead on the Chicago Bears with a couple of Sam Bradford touchdown passes. However, Arizona didn’t get anything else going after that with Bradford at the helm, turning it over several times.

Down 16-14 with just a few minutes remaining, head coach Steve Wilks decides to put in Josh Rosen for his first game action in the NFL.

What a fantastic idea. Put a rookie in against a very good defense to try to run a two minute drill for a victory in his first meaningful action.

Since Bradford didn’t get injured, it begs the question of why. If Bradford had gotten hurt, then okay, someone has to go out there. But he didn’t. If Wilks had even thought about playing Rosen yesterday, how do you not give him reps all week to be ready to go in? Or, even better, let him prepare as the starter for the week!

Hopefully the Cardinals terrible start and organizational decision making doesn’t ruin what could be a great young trio of Josh Rosen, David Johnson, and Christian Kirk.

Scouting Notes From Week Four

This will be a staple every week on the Weekend Cap as we start to build towards the 2019 NFL Draft. Here are some bullet points on some guys I got to watch this weekend and my thoughts on their draft stock.

  • Quick thought on the quarterbacks. Right now, it’s Drew Lock and Justin Herbert competing for QB1. Herbert looked excellent against Stanford, showing great anticipation and decision making all game long. Oh, and his arm is very good too. Drew Lock made some great throws against Georgia, but he didn’t get much help, as his receivers caused two turnovers and dropped several passes on the day.
  • Will Grier also looked very good against Kansas State, and he will certainly keep himself in the conversation. Wide receiver David Sills V also showed out.
  • The wild card is Dwayne Haskins. He is rising big time and could declare as a redshirt sophomore.
  • Rodney Anderson’s injury is very unfortunate, and RB1 feels pretty open right now. One guy who has his sights set on it is Kentucky running back Benny Snell. Snell is a hard-nosed back with plenty of power, but he’s shown some juice when he hits the hole and better lateral quickness this season.
  • J.J. Arcega-Whiteside helped himself a ton Saturday night, especially on a sluggo move later in the game. He sold a slant route, and used lateral quickness to separate for his second touchdown. His first was a great usage of his frame to box out the defender.
  • Oregon linebacker Troy Dye is an intriguing name to keep an eye on. He is a taller linebacker at 6’3″, and he played extremely well Saturday. He showed his coverage ability on a Bryce Love wheel route and played instinctive near the line of scrimmage.
  • Deandre Baker (CB, Georgia) had some concerns coming into the season, especially when it came to man coverage. He is on a mission to erase those doubts, and he dominated against Missouri. He stayed glued to receivers and continued his physical style of play.
  • An important injury to monitor is Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz. He is currently my top interior offensive lineman, but as a redshirt sophomore he might not declare. The severity of the injury could affect Wisconsin along with his decision to declare early.

Quick Packers Thoughts

Finally, let’s talk about the Packers 31-17 loss to the Redskins on Sunday. Here are some notes in bullet point form as well.

  • The secondary struggled mightily. Kentrell Brice is a fill the hole, tackling type of safety and not a guy who can play in coverage. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix continues to miss tackles and is still trending in the wrong direction. Earl Thomas and Eric Reid are available.
  • Aaron Rodgers looked a bit better moving around the pocket this week. However, there were a couple plays where Rodgers looked to be in significant pain. This injury isn’t going away anytime soon.
  • Aaron Jones only played 17 snaps and carried the ball 6 times for 42 yards. Yes, he can’t be relied on in pass protection, but he should be the guy on early downs.
  • Not a great game on Randall Cobb’s part. A couple of big drops and a costly fumble got the “trade Cobb” crew back up and running. Don’t be a part of that crew.
  • There were a few more drops, including Lance Kendricks on a key deep ball down the sideline. This receiving core has to get it together.
  • Nick Perry hasn’t done much at all since his game-sealing sack in week one. Yes, he left with an injury, but he didn’t do much when he was in.
  • Clay Matthews’ sack should NEVER be a penalty.
  • Muhammad Wilkerson, Bryan Bulaga, and Perry all suffered injuries. It’s likely Wilkerson is done for the year.
  • All this said, the Packers are still 1-1-1 and it is early. R-E-L-A-X for now. And get Thomas and Reid, Gute.

 

Thanks for making it to the end! Follow me on Twitter @JakeNFLDraft for all things football!

Also, check out my recent posts on Fansided!

NFL Draft 2019 player rankings, Week 4: Defensive linemen rule

2019 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

2018 NFL Season Predictions

We have finally arrived. It seems like every year the countdown to the NFL season gets longer and longer. But fans, rest easy, because it all starts tonight with the last two NFC Champions facing off.

Every year is a fresh start for all 32 teams. Every team comes in with hopes to reach the postseason and win a Super Bowl. Of course, some of those hopes are much higher than others. The Los Angeles Rams are thinking Super Bowl, while the Cleveland Browns are looking to improve in the win column.

Also, a new year means new storylines. The biggest storyline is all of the stars returning from injury in 2018. Both Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson are ready to come back and dominate for their teams. Odell Beckham is ready to carry that Giants offense. Don’t forget about the return of Aaron Rodgers.

Another storyline to watch is all the stars on the move. Everyone is still buzzing about the Raiders sending Khalil Mack to the Bears for multiple first round picks. It might not happen this year, but Le’Veon Bell’s situation could force Pittsburgh’s hand and they may move him.

Who isn’t excited for the rookie debuts also? Everyone is waiting to see what Saquon Barkley can do for the Giants this season. The Bears drafted a couple studs who could see the field right away. With five quarterbacks drafted in the first round back in April, the hype and debuts will be watched closely (especially Sam Darnold, who gets the start Monday night in Detroit).

There is so much excitement in the air, so let’s get to the predictions for the 2018 season! A quick note on these, I will probably get plenty wrong.

z – first round bye

y – division winner

x – wild card

AFC

AFC North

y – Bengals 8-8

Steelers 8-8

Ravens 7-9

Browns 6-10

The AFC North will be hotly contested down the stretch this season, and could in fact see a .500 team make the postseason. A lot of analysts and fans see a year of struggle for the Steelers, especially dealing with the Le’Veon Bell situation. The offense is still very good without him, but he does so much for that team. Their defense isn’t what it’s been on championship teams, and their schedule (particularly against AFC division winners and the NFC South) concerns me.

Instead of the Ravens (a popular selection), the Bengals surge to become champs of the division. The offensive line gets a bit better with Cordy Glenn manning the blindside, and a bounce back year is in store for Andy Dalton with rising stars Joe Mixon and John Ross taking pressure off of A.J. Green. On defense, there aren’t many holes to discuss. The secondary should be fine with William Jackson leading the way, and the front seven is full of stars and has plenty of depth. Look for a jump in year two from Carl Lawson and contributions from rookies Sam Hubbard and Malik Jefferson.

As far as the Ravens go, adding Michael Crabtree and John Brown helps the receiving core a bit, as well as grabbing two tight ends in the draft. Here’s the issue though: Joe Flacco just isn’t that good. The defense and a solid running game will keep them in the thick of the division for a while, but they don’t have enough.

Moving to the Browns, this could be the start of something big for this franchise. With a quarterback room in place, things will run smoother. They have a solid backfield and plenty of weapons for Tyrod Taylor to throw to. The offensive line might shuffle a bit through the season though. On defense, Myles Garrett is primed to break out and become an All-Pro pass rusher. Don’t forget about their solid linebacking core and rookie Denzel Ward in the secondary. No division title this year, but finishing only two back is a start.

AFC South

z – Texans 11-5

x – Jaguars 10-6

Titans 9-7

Colts 4-12

Get ready, cause Houston is back in a big way. We briefly discussed above that quarterback Deshaun Watson is back in a big way. He isn’t the only elite player returning from injury. Both J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus returning give the Texans a fierce front four, for sure one of the best in the league. The rest of the defense is well-equipped too, especially at linebacker, with relative unknowns Bernardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham leading the way. A healthy Watson with DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee should scare the league.

The Jags again return to the playoffs, thanks to a top defense and an offense that doesn’t make big mistakes. Jacksonville loaded up on defense again in the draft, snagging Taven Bryan in the first round and getting a steal late in safety Ronnie Harrison. Harrison joins an uber-talented secondary lead by Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. On offense, this team goes as far as Blake Bortles can take them. They beefed up the offensive line in the offseason, and added some talent on the boundary. But can they repeat last season’s postseason success?

The Titans have a new head coach in Mike Vrabel, and there’s no doubt he will provide some fire in the locker room. The question is, in a very competitive division, does Tennessee have the horses? It’s tough to say. Marcus Mariota had an odd season last year, throwing more picks than touchdowns. The running game is still a question mark, as they are waiting on a Derrick Henry breakout season. A more dynamic offense would go a long way. Can the Titans get Corey Davis and company going? That’s another major question heading into 2018. I left them out of the playoffs, but I would not be shocked if they were playing in January.

The Colts just don’t have it right now. Yes, Andrew Luck is returning, but Chris Ballard has a long way to go with this roster. Ballard got help to protect Luck in Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith. What concerns me is the lack of playmakers on offense. The receiver room is desperate for playmakers that they are trying rookie Nyheim Hines as a slot receiver. On defense, there’s talent in the secondary, but they don’t have anyone elite on the front seven to make any noise.

AFC East

z – Patriots 13-3

Dolphins 6-10

Jets 5-11

Bills 3-13

Oh I have to write things here? Fine. The Patriots are set up well for another route in the AFC East race. Even with Julian Edelman out, there are enough pieces on offense for the Patriots to hold up until he returns. There’s so much potential to be harnessed with Sony Michel, so it will be interesting to see how much he is used early on. On defense, the Pats have talent coming back from injury on the edge. Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise both have shown potential to bring juice to their front. There’s enough elsewhere for this team to hold up just fine, especially with a resurgent Stephon Gilmore in the secondary.

The Dolphins have so many questions coming into the season. How will Ryan Tannehill hold up after yet another injury? Is this finally the year Devante Parker reaches his potential? Can the defensive line create enough pressure with no Ndamukong Suh? Who is replacing Jarvis Landry’s production in the slot? There are too many for this team to make noise, even in a wide open wild card race that is the AFC.

We will make the Jets and Bills short here. The Jets have a ton of potential, especially on defense and with their rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, but the schedule looks tough for them to make a playoff run. The Bills are lacking so much on the offensive side of the ball that ending up with the number one pick is likely for their future.

AFC West

y – Chargers 10-6

x – Chiefs 10-6

Broncos 7-9

Raiders 5-11

It could once again be the wild west. It’s about time for a Chargers team to win the division, isn’t it? Bad luck and injuries seem to plague this team from the start. Still, things are setting up well for this Los Angeles team. Philip Rivers leads this team yet again, and he has plenty of weapons at his disposal, along with a healthier offensive line. It should be fun to watch second-year guys like Mike Williams, Forrest Lamp, and Dan Feeney work. On defense, they still have the best pass rushing duo in football in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. The secondary is also loaded and welcomes first round pick Derwin James.

A new era beckons in Kansas City. Patrick Mahomes is ready to start his first full season at quarterback. The Chiefs haven’t left him helpless, adding Sammy Watkins to an already explosive offense. In fact, this offense may be the most fun to watch all year. The main question for this team lies on defense and whether or not they have enough pass rush to hide the issues in the secondary. They will have to outscore opponents as much as possible.

Denver is a new look team with Case Keenum leading the way. The backfield will be led by rookie Royce Freeman, and the receiving core is loaded with talent. On defense, Bradley Chubb joins Von Miller to form an exciting duo. Bradley Roby and Chris Harris should suffocate opposing receivers. So why isn’t this a playoff team? I’m not sure I trust Keenum after a strong showing last season. I think it’s one-hit-wonder city and he’s driving that bus.

Oakland is destined for the bottom after an offseason of disastrous moves. It started with the draft, unloading a third rounder for Martavis Bryant, and drafting a fourth round tackle in round one. It didn’t end there, as Gruden offloaded Khalil Mack for future selections, and added A.J. McCarron for another pick. The offense might be alright with Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, and an established offensive line. However, the defense is desperate for someone to step up. It could be a long year.

AFC Playoff Picture

1. Patriots

2. Texans

3. Chargers

4. Bengals

5. Chiefs

6. Jaguars

 

NFC

NFC North

y – Packers 10-6

x – Bears 10-6

Vikings 9-7

Lions 7-9

ALL THE SHOCK VALUE RIGHT HERE. Nope, this isn’t for clickbait folks. I’ve just seen stuff like this before. A crushing loss in the NFC Championship game with pages turning to the next year with a crazy amount of hype. All I’ve heard is “division lock”, “easy 13 wins”,  “safest bet around”. There are no safe bets.

The Packers take the division in 2018 behind the return of Aaron Rodgers and an offense that should look more creative. Having Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis should give Green Bay some fun 12 personnel options, especially with Graham acting as a receiver. Davante Adams is primed for that elite season everyone has waited for, and the backfield might be better than some think. Speaking of more creative, get ready for Mike Pettine’s defense. It isn’t super complicated, but creating pressure will be the name of the game. Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, and Muhammad Wilkerson will be a tough trio on the interior, and Clay Matthews and Nick Perry will be fine on the edge (depth is a concern though). The secondary is much younger and more talented, with Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson. Back to the playoffs for Green Bay.

The responses from non-Bears fans will be “oh Mack doesn’t do THAT much for them”. I mean, he is a top edge rusher in the league, but it isn’t just him getting the Bears to January. Head coach Matt Nagy brings a more electric offense to the windy city, and Mitchell Trubisky is ready to lead. A good offensive line plus plenty of weapons is a great formula for success. The defense will get a boost from Mack, but guys like rookie Roquan Smith and their safety duo make them much better on that side of the ball.

The mighty have fallen. The Vikings roster is insanely talented, there’s no denying that. But, expectations are sky high this season, and teams have cracked under pressure. Here’s the main issue: everyone believes so much in Kirk Cousins, even though he isn’t very good in a) the red zone or b) facing the blitz. The second reason is a problem with the Vikings offensive line. Cousins could face tons of pressure this season and fold into mediocrity. Also, people overrate Cousins quite a bit. Another issue is the schedule. Minnesota has to go to Green Bay, Los Angeles, and Philly in the first five weeks. That is tough. Also, this division is no pushover, so road games will be tough. I just have a funny feeling about this team.

The Lions, to me, didn’t get that much better in the offseason. Yes, they added running back help, something they’ve desperately needed, but they didn’t reload in the trenches. The offensive line could struggle, as could the defensive line. Controlling that area wins games, and the Lions won’t win much if they don’t win there. The back end of the defense is still solid, but there are major holes at linebacker. Detroit will produce fine fantasy seasons for owners, but this is a stacked division and they won’t be able to contend.

NFC South

z – Falcons 11-5

Saints 9-7

Panthers 8-8

Buccaneers 3-13

The Atlanta Falcons continue a trend that it is hard to repeat in the NFC South. Atlanta boasts one of the best rosters in the league, and they just keep reloading like a well-oiled machine. Last year’s “struggles” with Steve Sarkisian were overstated, however, they have to get Julio Jones the ball more in the red zone, because three touchdowns isn’t a good look. Luckily, they added Calvin Ridley in the draft, so his presence could take some heat off of Jones. Their running game is again good with their two-headed monster. On defense, look for improvement from Takk McKinley and a resurgence from Vic Beasley. Deion Jones and Keanu Neal are continuously getting better too. This team is primed for another deep playoff run.

The Saints take a little tumble in 2018 and just miss out on a playoff spot. I think they could easily make the postseason and make this pick look dumb, but I’m looking at a tough schedule for the reigning NFC South champs. Playing Philly, Los Angeles, and Minnesota along with a tough NFC East makes a playoff run daunting. However, this team is built for another year of contending. The rookie class from last year is shaping up to be the best one in a long time, and all of them will be big contributors again this year. The offense should revolve again around a strong running game and timely conversions from one of the best quarterbacks to do it. The defense will be solid again, but the big question is if Marcus Davenport is ready to contribute from the jump.

The Panthers are a candidate for a significant regression in 2018. After a season largely dictated by the play of Cam Newton and breakout of Christian McCaffrey, the offense might struggle a bit more this season. The situation at tackle is particularly concerning, and we’ve seen what happens when Newton faces a ton of pressure. The offense also needs a big threat on the outside, and maybe rookie D.J. Moore will step up. The defense has plenty of concerns, especially rushing the passer and in the secondary. It just doesn’t feel like this is a playoff roster.

The Buccaneers are another team that should be looking forward to picking high in the 2019 draft. It isn’t just losing Jameis Winston for three games, but it’s another year of facing a talented division. Tampa Bay just isn’t ready to contend for a division title or a wild card spot at this point. The defense has talent, but the secondary is a huge question mark, as is a good edge presence. There’s talent on offense, but will this be the year Winston ascends? It doesn’t look like it.

NFC East

y – Giants 10-6

x – Eagles 10-6

Cowboys 9-7

Redskins 6-10

Another shocker in the NFC. The Giants come back from the dead to win the NFC East over the heavily favored reigning Super Bowl champs, and they hang on in a tough race. I wouldn’t say the Giants are a perfect team, especially along the right side of the offensive line and in the secondary (losing Sam Beal right away hurt). But, improvements were made adding Nate Solder and Will Hernandez. Also, drafting Saquon Barkley and getting Odell Beckham back don’t hurt either. I actually think the defense will be okay. There is talent there, especially on the interior and with Landon Collins at safety.

“HOW DARE YOU DISRESPECT THE REIGNING CHAMPS?” Listen, the Eagles are still a very good football team. In fact, they are a top three roster in the NFC, which also means in the league. However, Super Bowl hangover exists, especially with no Carson Wentz to start the season. Yes, Nick Foles ultimately played a huge part in winning the Super Bowl, but we’ve seen quarterbacks go on runs before and ultimately disappoint the next year. The schedule is tough this time around, and even though a good roster returns, they face tough teams in the AFC South and in the NFC as a whole. In fact, they open with Atlanta, which won’t be a picnic. The pressure is there now, and that affects teams. The good news is that the defensive line is even deeper and their offensive line is back as a unit. There might be issues with the receivers until Jeffery returns, but all in all, it’s a playoff team.

The Cowboys are a tough team to figure out overall. They have so much young talent on defense, and the offensive line is set to protect Dak Prescott and pave the way for Ezekiel Elliott on the ground. The problem is I haven’t seen this group put it together completely. I want to see more out of Dak as a pocket passer. I want to see a secondary live up to the billing. It’s a tough road being in the NFC. I expect Dallas to be right there at the end (and they can make the playoffs), but I have them falling just short like New Orleans.

I was very optimistic for this Redskins team, then Derrius Guice got hurt. I know it’s a terrible excuse, and one player does not a team make, but having Guice made Washington look that much more dangerous on paper. I think they have a better quarterback than last year (GASP!!) and a strong offensive and defensive line. My issues for this group exist in the secondary and in the projects they still have at wide receiver. Can Jamison Crowder finally step up and lead? Can Josh Doctson be the guy? They paid Paul Richardson how much? It will be tough for Washington to make the playoffs this year.

NFC West

z – Rams 12-4

Seahawks 7-9

49ers 7-9

Cardinals 6-10

The Rams are locked and loaded to make a deep playoff run this time around. It’s not just getting to elite pairs in Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh along with Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. It’s not just having a top running back in the league and plenty of weapons. It’s the fact that this coaching staff is one of the best in football. Sean McVay is electric and innovative. Wade Phillips’ resume speaks for itself. This team has plenty of pieces to win it all. Now they have to go and do it.

I was surprised to see where I had Seattle finishing, but 7-9 seems to fit right. Russell Wilson is a top quarterback in the league, but he continues to have less and less help each year. The offensive line isn’t any better, even with Duane Brown sticking around, and the running back room is full of inconsistencies (and a draft pick that went WAY higher than he should have). There isn’t much explosiveness outside of Doug Baldwin either. The defense is also being gutted, and it’s unclear how the Earl Thomas situation will play out. The good news for their fans is that they got their title.

I just don’t think it is the time for San Francisco just yet. Why? Well, for one, the offensive line isn’t where you want it to be. Yes, Jimmy Garoppolo looked good last season, but let’s see a full year of it. Their running back room is weak overall, especially with Jerick McKinnon going down. There is plenty of potential with their receivers, but time will tell. On defense, they have some nice pieces, but I want to see them gel a bit more. All in all, there are just a lot of better teams in the NFC right now.

I think Arizona is coming back soon, it just isn’t this year. The goal in 2018 should be to keep developing Josh Rosen and set pieces in place for the runs they will be able to make in coming seasons. They need to extend David Johnson and find an heir for Larry Fitzgerald. Arizona could definitely surprise people this season, but the things holding them back are the offensive line and lack of help next to Chandler Jones. It isn’t their time, but it soon will be.

NFC Playoff Picture

1. Rams

2. Falcons

3. Giants

4. Packers

5. Eagles

6. Bears

Awards:

MVP – Aaron Rodgers

OPOY – DeShaun Watson

DPOY – Myles Garrett

CBOY – Odell Beckham

COY – Matt Nagy

OROY – Saquon Barkley

DROY – Harold Landry

Playoffs

Wild Card Weekend

(5) Chiefs 27, (4) Bengals 17

(4) Packers 31, (5) Eagles 24

(3) Chargers 24, (6) Jaguars 17

(6) Bears 23, (3) Giants 16

Divisional Round

(3) Chargers 28, (2) Texans 27

(2) Falcons 34, (4) Packers 31

(1) Rams 30, (6) Bears 14

(1) Patriots 31, (5) Chiefs 23

Championship Weekend

(1) Patriots 21, (3) Chargers 17

(2) Falcons 27, (1) Rams 24

Super Bowl 

Falcons 35, Patriots 27

A rematch of Super Bowl 51, with a different outcome. This time, Atlanta, in their home stadium, finishes the deal and outscore the Patriots in a classic shootout.

What do you think? Comment here or find me on Twitter @JakeNFLDraft. Enjoy the season!

Five Players To Watch In Bears-Ravens Hall Of Fame Game

(Mandatory Photo Credit: Evan Habeeb, USA Today Sports)

FOOTBALL IS BACK.

I know many fans won’t completely agree, since this is the first in a long line of preseason games before the real games begin in September. But, for those of us that hunger for football to be back once the draft concludes, this is still a form of Christmas. Seeing players back in pads again putting in meaningful snaps to make a team provides plenty of intrigue to analysts and fans alike.

Tonight, the Bears face off against the Ravens in the Hall of Fame Game, a game that celebrates the new inductees to the NFL Hall of Fame. This will be a very intriguing game, with hype surrounding the Bears and new Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Let’s take a look at five guys to watch heading into tonight’s game.

1. Lamar Jackson

This is the most obvious selection here. Lamar Jackson dazzled us all in college with his electric playmaking ability. Now, he will get his first game action against NFL players tonight. Everyone wants to see if Jackson has what it takes to improve as a pocket passer, while another group of people are waiting to make remarks for him to move to wide receiver. He’s a quarterback people, so get used to it. We might even get to see meaningful game snaps this year from him. Get ready for fireworks from Jackson.

2. Anthony Miller

Miller has claim as the best route runner to come out in the 2018 draft class. Now, he gets to show the world what they missed when he takes the field. As high as Miller went in the draft, it’s likely we will see him early on in 2018 as the third receiver behind Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. If he shows out big in the preseason, the Bears might get him on the field for more snaps.

3. Kylie Fitts

This name is a little more off the beaten path for fans and growing analysts, but Kylie Fitts has some traits that make him a potential steal. Fitts should get plenty of snaps in the preseason, and we could see some of his promise tonight. With guys like Leonard Floyd still looking to breakout, Fitts has a chance to make some headway in August and get himself in the rotation on the edge in 2018.

4. Anthony Averett

Averett landed in Baltimore in the draft back in April, and he has a chance to show he can get significant slot snaps in 2018. He has the speed and discipline to play corner, as his tape at Alabama showed. He just needs to improve his route recognition and footwork, and an extra preseason game gives him a chance at more reps.

5. Adam Shaheen

The second year tight end in Chicago is ready to show he can breakout and be a big part of the Bears offense. He has some competition this season with the Bears adding Trey Burton. However, Shaheen has that Travis-Kelce-type of potential, so seeing some promise in the preseason can go a long way. He is a big body who, if he develops, can be a problem for defenses in the future.

BONUS: Tyus Bowser

A little bonus for you guys here. Bowser was drafted by Baltimore in 2017, and he’s looking to get on the field more. The Ravens have him listed as a SAM backer on their depth chart, but he did a great job in college rushing the passer. He needs to find his niche on that defense to get on the field more this season.

Enjoy the game tonight football fans! No more weeks without football until February!!

Schyvinck’s Top 100 Prospects In The 2018 NFL Draft

It’s here! If you’re reading this, the NFL Draft is here and my final piece is being read by you right now. It’s been a very fun process and I’m excited and energized by all that I learned during the process. It’s been a great draft process, and I’m looking forward to 2019. However, I won’t leave 2018 just yet. Without further ado, my top 250 prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft!

First Round Grades (18)

1. Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

2. Bradley Chubb, EDGE, North Carolina State

3. Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

4. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

5. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

6. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

7. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

8. Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

9. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

10. Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

11. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

12. Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia

13. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

14. Connor Williams, OT, Texas

15. Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

16. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

17. James Daniels, C/G, Iowa

18. Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan

Second Round Grades (36)

19. Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

20. Sam Darnold, QB, USC

21. Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

22. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

23. Josh Sweat, EDGE, Florida State

24. Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

25. Billy Price, OL, Ohio State

26. Ronald Jones, RB, USC

27. D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

28. Vita Vea, DL, Washington

29. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

30. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

31. Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

32. Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

33. Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

34. Taven Bryan, DL, Florida

35. Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

36. Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

37. Duke Ejiofor, EDGE, Wake Forest

38. Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

39. Austin Corbett, G, Nevada

40. Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Rutgers

41. Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

42. Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State

43. Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State

44. Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

45. Derrick Nnadi, DL, Florida State

46. Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

47. Fred Warner, LB, BYU

48. Justin Reid, S, Stanford

49. Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

50. Braden Smith, G, Auburn

51. Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forest

52. D.J. Chark, WR, LSU

53. Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford

54. Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Third Round Grades (40)

55. Rashad Penny, RB, San Diego State

56. Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

57. Obo Okoronkwo, EDGE, Oklahoma

58. John Kelly, RB, Tennessee

59. Genard Avery, LB, Memphis

60. Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State

61. DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State

62. M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina

63. Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma

64. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

65. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

66. Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

67. Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan

68. Andrew Brown, DL, Virginia

69. Harrison Phillips, DL, Stanford

70. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas  A&M

71. Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

72. Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

73. Martinas Rankin, OL, Mississippi State

74. Kylie Fitts, EDGE, Utah

75. Marcus Allen, S, Penn State

76. Rashaun Gaulden, CB, Tennessee

77. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

78. DeShon Elliott, S, Texas

79. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

80. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn

81. Lorenzo Carter, EDGE, Georgia

82. Duke Dawson, CB, Florida

83. Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State

84. Sean Welsh, G, Iowa

85. Alex Cappa, OT, Humboldt State

86. Mark Walton, RB, Miami

87. Kyzir White, S, West Virginia

88. Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana

89. Deadrin Senat, DT, South Florida

90. Arden Key, DE, LSU

91. Dorance Armstrong, DE, Kansas

92. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

93. Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

94. Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC

Fourth Round Grades (48)

95. Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

96. B.J. Hill, DL, North Carolina State

97. Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon

98. Nyheim Hines, RB, North Carolina State

99. Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State

100. Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin

Full Rankings Out Soon! Enjoy the NFL Draft!

2018 NFL Draft Packers Big Board: Rounds 1-3

The draft starts tonight! The excitement continues to build as more and more rumors swirl! Before all the madness, I have plenty of articles for your enjoyment. This article is tailored specifically to my Packers family. For the first time, I am making a big board for each day of the draft, listing my Packers for each day and explaining the order a bit. Hope you enjoy!

Some players you will be shocked to see on the board, and some you will be shocked to see off of it.

Round 1 Board

1. Bradley Chubb

2. Roquan Smith

3. Derwin James

4. Denzel Ward

5. Minkah Fitzpatrick

6. Quenton Nelson

7. Jaire Alexander

8. Harold Landry

9. Tremaine Edmunds

10. Mike McGlinchey

11. Rashaan Evans

12. Josh Rosen

13. Da’Ron Payne

14. Josh Jackson

15. Vita Vea

Analysis: Only three players here are worth trading up for in the draft. Bradley Chubb, Roquan Smith, and Derwin James are fantastic blue chip talents worthy of trading up for. After those three, Denzel Ward is the player I’d covet most, only because he fits well in Green Bay. Minkah and Jaire Alexander are two I’d be happy with at 14 overall, as well as Harold Landry. His bend would give a jolt to the pass rush. Another fun name on the board here for me is Josh Rosen. As historically great as Rodgers is, you never know when decline could show. Rosen would sit for a few seasons and provide a seamless transition if picked. I’m low on running back, so much so that none will be on my board for round one. Receiver is also absent there.

Round Two

16. Connor Williams

17. Mike Hughes

18. Josh Sweat

19. Austin Corbett

20. Isaiah Oliver

21. Anthony Miller

22. D.J. Moore

23. Duke Ejiofor

24. D.J. Chark

25. Ronnie Harrison

26. Kemoko Turay

27. Dante Pettis

28. Justin Reid

29. Sam Hubbard

30. Nick Chubb

31. Braden Smith

Analysis: Round two features a lot of receivers I would consider. Anthony Miller is a great route runner, while the D.J.’s (Moore and Chark) would take the top off of defenses. Mike Hughes and Isaiah Oliver should be considerations if the Packers go edge in the first round. If that flips, Josh Sweat and Duke Ejiofor are options for the Packers in round two. The Packers do have a need on the offensive line, and should consider Austin Corbett if he’s there in round two. My first running back graces the board here in round two. Nick Chubb would complement Aaron Jones well and create a good backfield in the frozen tundra.

Round Three

32. Alex Cappa

33. Marcus Davenport

34. Quenton Meeks

35. Obo Okoronkwo

36. Derrick Nnadi

37. Nathan Shepherd

38. DaeSean Hamilton

39. Fred Warner

40. Jessie Bates

41. Ian Thomas

42. M.J. Stewart

43. Carlton Davis

44. Chukwuma Okorafor

45. Marcus Allen

46. Donte Jackson

47. Equanimeous St. Brown

48. Kylie Fitts

49. Lorenzo Carter

50. Kerryon Johnson

51. Shaquem Griffin

52. Justin Jones

53. Sean Welsh

54. Durham Smythe

55. Uchenna Nwosu

56. Mark Walton

57. Duke Dawson

Analysis: Should the Packers not take a corner in the first two rounds, many are on my round three board. Quenton Meeks and M.J. Stewart are two real nice options, while Duke Dawson is an entertaining thought as a slot corner exclusively. Alex Cappa tops the round three board, and the Packers should consider him considering the health and contract situation of Bryan Bulaga. Fred Warner is a linebacker the Packers should consider in the third round. He does an excellent job finding the ball and getting off blocks. Tight end also finally finds the board in round three. The value Ian Thomas and Durham Smythe could bring would complement Jimmy Graham well. If they haven’t touched the wide receiver position, DaeSean Hamilton and Equanimeous St. Brown are options worth considering.

Who’s off the board that should be on? Who shouldn’t be on it? Let me know on Twitter @JSchyvinck13.

 

 

Schyvinck’s Final Edge Rankings

The draft is on its way as the first round begins tonight! Before the festivities, a lot of content from yours truly will be up to view. So get your draft reading in for the day before the bright lights shine at 8 PM ET/7 PM CT.

The edge class was an interesting group to follow throughout the year. Many believed that Landry, Chubb, and Arden Key were the cream of the crop. Key fell off due to off the field issues and injuries. However, other names emerged in what could be a deeper class with nice finds. Let’s get to the rankings.

1. Bradley Chubb 

Bradley Chubb is the clear number one edge player in the class. He plays with a motor that doesn’t stop, along with having a great arsenal of moves. Chubb uses his hands extremely well to get around the edge and to get linemen off of their anchor. Chubb also has great vision and works off what he sees linemen do at the snap.

Grade: Round 1

2. Harold Landry

Harold Landry had some injuries in 2017, but turn on the 2016 tape and you see why he’s a premier pass rusher. His explosive first step and bend around the edge is unmatched in the class. When you have that trait, teams take notice and you go early in the draft. He also extends his inside arm well to keep tackles off balance. He’s a round one lock.

Grade: Round 1

3. Josh Sweat

Teams are lower on Josh Sweat because of his knee injury. From what it seems, Sweat is cleared with the knee injury. Sweat is a very athletic pass rusher with explosiveness off the snap to get around the edge. He also plays the run very well and can play on day one.

Grade: Round 2

4. Duke Ejiofor

Duke Ejiofor may be the most calculated tactician in the edge rusher class. He is excellent with his hand usage to get around linemen and also comes ready with a plan on every snap. He isn’t the greatest athlete, but when you are that technical, you will find a place in the NFL.

Grade: Round 2

5. Kemoko Turay

Like Sweat, Kemoko Turay has an injury history that teams may avoid. However, when he’s on the field, he’s a top five edge rusher in the class. Turay uses his hands well to disengage blocks on the edge. He can be a pure pass rusher from day one, and he can develop into a three down defender.

Grade: Round Two

6. Sam Hubbard

Sam Hubbard is the ultimate question mark. He is a very athletic edge rusher, but players like that haven’t faired well in the league as of late. However, Hubbard can change that. He has a number of pass rush moves that he consistently brings to the table, and he has the high motor to constantly make linemen work.

Grade: Round Two

7. Marcus Davenport

Marcus Davenport has so much upside to him. He dominated his competition in college, often looking like an NFL player lost on a college field. His speed to power is very impressive, and that allows him to out-muscle his opponents and close quickly on the quarterback. He reminds me a lot of Jadeveon Clowney, lite version. He needs time to develop in the NFL though.

Grade: Round Two

8. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

Obo Okoronkwo is a relentless pass rusher who had plenty of success at Oklahoma. He had good speed around the edge and solid hand usage, but he is often inconsistent on tape. If he can get off the snap quicker he’s going to be a steal in the middle rounds.

Grade: Round Three

9. Kylie Fitts

If you haven’t heard of Kylie Fitts, you will. Fitts looked very good at the Senior Bowl, showing some nice bend around the edge along with quickness to get around blocks. He will likely be a rotational pass rusher, but he will be a good one for some team.

Grade: Round Three

10. Lorenzo Carter

When it comes to Lorenzo Carter, the potential is there. He is an excellent athlete who can run and chase. I’m just not sure how well he fits as an edge. He has the quickness to find the football against the run, but he’s extremely raw when it comes to rushing the passer. Teams may find moving him to a hybrid role will best fit his strengths.

Grade: Late Round Three

Agree with the rankings? Don’t agree? Find @JSchyvinck13 on Twitter to talk all things NFL Draft!

Also, be sure to go to @SportsGuysBlog on Twitter for Thursday and Friday coverage of the draft! The guys will be analyzing picks and answering your questions! 

Final 2018 NFL Draft Quarterback Rankings

The draft is on its way as the first round begins tonight! Before the festivities, a lot of content from yours truly will be up to view. So get your draft reading in for the day before the bright lights shine at 8 PM ET/7 PM CT.

The quarterback class is one that has been hotly debated since the beginning of the last college football season. Many analysts and teams have different views on the quarterbacks in this draft. On one hand, you have the ones who love upside and arm talent, and on the other side, you have the ones who believe in accuracy, footwork, and the film you see. Sam Darnold and Josh Allen get a ton of buzz for their potential, but are they the top guys? Or do guys like Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield belong at the top? What about Lamar Jackson? Teams don’t give him enough credit and often say he should change positions (they’re dumb). Also, is there a sleeper in here somewhere? Let’s take a look at my top 10 quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

1. Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen is the best pure passer in this draft. He consistently shows the best mechanics of anyone in the draft. Rosen has mastered every throw you could imagine, including the very difficult back shoulder throw. There are numerous examples of perfect back shoulder placement on tape. While the big arms in the draft get the noise, Rosen’s arm is plenty strong enough to make the throws. He puts plenty of zip on the ball when he needs to, and he can get the ball down the field if need be. The more games he got under his belt at UCLA, the better his anticipation, touch, and accuracy got. He is outstanding between 10 and 20 yards, something many quarterbacks need to work on. As far as mechanics go, he keeps his eyes downfield and his feet moving to the target. He’s also not immobile, as people keep believing. He can make throws on the run out of the pocket.

No prospect is without faults though. Rosen has things he needs to work on. There are times where he isn’t ready for the blitz and ends up getting rid of the ball out of bounds quickly. Another small issue with Rosen is that he sometimes lacks awareness on his blind side. The final concern from teams is the durability. He took plenty of hits at UCLA and he doesn’t have the biggest frame.

Grade: Round 1

2. Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield rose up big time during the fall and for good reason. Many weren’t sure if he could handle the spotlight after an off the field incident last winter. However, he bounced back in a big way. Mayfield looked like a hesitant thrower early in his career, but that changed drastically as time went on. His best attributes are his quick release, his downfield accuracy (he throws some of the prettiest deep balls of anyone), and his ability to maneuver and escape the pocket when he needs to. In 2017, he got passes out on time with very good anticipation. He has the quick release and zip on the ball to put it where he wants and quickly when he sees open receivers. Another plus with Mayfield that shows a lot in 2017 is him setting his feet even when he’s out of the pocket. Quarterbacks can easily just keep running and try to throw on the run, but Mayfield was very good about setting his feet and getting them to his target.

A couple things exist for Mayfield to work on. Sometimes Mayfield will hold the ball too long. This is good for keeping turnovers low, but he will sometimes take unnecessary sacks trying to do too much. There are also times where Mayfield will stare down a certain target. Teams will pick up on that immediately if it becomes a habit. Finally, Mayfield doesn’t have a ton of work under center. However, I don’t see that becoming an issue.

Grade: Round 1

3. Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold is a prospect that can be very polarizing. On the positive side, you see a guy with a rocket arm. Even though he has the zip, he can put some air under the ball and be very accurate down the field. His touch shows big time on his intermediate throws. He is excellent at buying time in the pocket and finds a way to improv out of the pocket and find open receivers. Darnold also throws extremely well on the run, something very difficult for quarterbacks. You will also get plenty of splash plays and wow throws with Darnold. Sometimes it looks like the throw should not be made, but Darnold throws the receiver open and it makes your jaw drop. Another thing Darnold does very well is his eye manipulation on leveled routes. On play action, you will see Darnold’s eyes look to the flat, sucking the linebacker down. Then, Darnold will fire a dart to a wide open receiver at the second level. This is something you see often.

Darnold does have things to work on though. He has some real bad turnovers on tape, some of which come from staring down receivers, and others come from him relying on his arm too much and throwing with his feet not pointed anywhere near the target. This will cause the ball to float and get picked at the next level. Darnold also can get antsy if his first read isn’t there. He needs to realize he can maneuver the pocket smoothly to look elsewhere in his progression.

Grade: Early Round 2

4. Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson is perhaps the most polarizing player among teams and scouts. Some have said he belongs at wide receiver, which is a complete joke. Jackson is a quarterback, plain and simple. Early on in his career, he did struggle a lot to make throws. He often looked like his mind was working faster than his body. He would recognize where the ball needed to be, but he wouldn’t get set quick enough when his mind wanted the ball out.

This changed in 2017, in a drastic way. Jackson has the ability to process and read a defense while getting the ball out on time where it needs to be. He moves around the pocket much better than in previous seasons, and he keeps his eyes downfield. Something very important you want to see is a quarterback aligned toward the target. Jackson does this very well, and he will set his feet again if he gets out of the pocket (just like Mayfield). He works the short and intermediate parts of the field very well, and he’s got plenty of zip on the ball himself.

As a runner, everyone knows how good he is. It is almost impossible to keep him in the pocket, because his speed and elite change of direction are constantly making defenders miss. He has great vision and lateral quickness when he runs.

What can Jackson work on? Deep accuracy is an issue that shows up a lot on tape. If he can get his rhythm down more, he will see an increase in accuracy down the field. Something else to watch is his feet in the pocket. He sometimes forms a really narrow base, which can get him off balance. I think fixing that can help a lot of accuracy and rhythm issues.

Grade: Early Round 2

5. Josh Allen

Josh Allen is the most polarizing draft prospect from the NFL community as a whole. Scouts and analysts love his potential and arm strength. Allen does possess the arm to make any throw on the football field. There are examples on tape where he makes throw that most quarterbacks dream of making. He sometimes makes those throws on the run as well. He is a good athlete who isn’t afraid to tuck and run with the ball. At the Senior Bowl, he showed flashes of good touch and accuracy in some tight windows.

The issue with Allen is still the accuracy. Many will point to the fact that his receivers dropped a lot of passes. In reality, Jackson and other quarterbacks had a higher percentage of dropped balls. Allen has the arm strength, but the ball ends up all over the place at times. He also looks bad with pressure in his face, and he panics and throws to receivers who are heavily covered. Against good competition, Allen folded a lot under pressure. He is a project as a quarterback.

Grade: Round 3

6. Mason Rudolph

Mason Rudolph is often the man forgotten in this quarterback class, and he should garner attention. Rudolph is the ultimate rhythm machine at quarterback. He consistently gets the ball out on time and where it needs to be, especially on short, in breaking routes. He has everything on time and accurate to the catch point. Rudolph also has the arm strength to make any throw. He has great touch and accuracy on his deep ball, which you see multiple examples of on tape.

The issues with Rudolph make him someone who needs development. He often only looks for his first read, which was open a lot of the time. Rudolph operates extremely well when things are clean, but when the pressure gets there, Rudolph often folds.

Grade: Round 3

7. Kyle Lauletta

Kyle Lauletta gained headlines at the Senior Bowl back in January. On tape, you see a good rhythm thrower with very good ball placement. Lauletta does a good job of taking what the defense gives him. He’s also good at manipulating defenders. At the Senior Bowl, Lauletta stared at the safety off of play action, knowing full well D.J. Chark would be open.

The issues with Lauletta lie in the fact that he sometimes looks like it’s tough for him to get the ball where he needs to. He is a great processor, but sometimes the ball just doesn’t get there. His arm is not very strong, and that could be an issue if he can’t get the ball where he wants to on time at the next level.

Grade: Early Round 4

8. Mike White

Mike White is a name who I was intrigued to see at the Senior Bowl. In the game, he did not disappoint. White possesses a quick release which helps him get the ball out on time and accurately. When everything is working, White looks like he can play in the NFL. His physical tools are above average overall.

His issues lie in reading defenses. He will panic if his first read isn’t there and will often look to the check down. He needs to learn how to process and work through progressions. He does flash promise, and he could find a job in the NFL if he can develop for some time.

Grade: Round 4

9. Kurt Benkert

Benkert looked abysmal at the Senior Bowl with poor accuracy and decision making. However, he does have some positives. Benkert does possess a good arm that can make throws at all levels when he has his rhythm. He exceeds when he gets his footwork moving toward the target. When that happens, you see the flashes.

However, the issue with Benkert is inconsistency. There are times where he is just off as a whole and his play just withers away. He will throw with bad footwork at times and it shows in turnovers and wildly inaccurate throws.

Grade: Mid Day Three

10. Luke Falk

Luke Falk certainly has the production for a quarterback in the draft. He does get the ball out quick and works the short and intermediate areas of the field well when things are on. When he is kept clean he does show some promise.

However, the issue with Falk is sometimes his accuracy falls completely off of the table. If he feels the slightest bit of pressure, you see him panic in the pocket and make erratic throws. I just don’t see a lot of promise when it comes to Falk.

Grade: Mid Day Three

Agree with the rankings? Comments? Who are your top quarterback in the draft? Follow Jake on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 and discuss!

Also, tune in to our live show tonight and tomorrow @SportsGuysBlog! We will answer draft questions and give analysis on every pick!

2018 Mock Draft 3.0: Bills, Cards Trade Up, Packers Get Aggressive

The day is finally here! The NFL Draft is upon us! There is so much excitement building around the league, and plenty from yours truly as well! I won’t make this too long, because you have to get your final reading in before the big night! Let’s take a look at my last mock draft for 2018!

What’s funny to me is that 90 percent of these picks could be wrong. It’s the true beauty of knowing nothing at all.

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Browns have been doing a great job keeping things quiet thus far. With most not sure what will happen on draft night, the Browns keep with what many have thought the pick to be for months. Sam Darnold has plenty of upside, and will benefit from sitting behind Tyrod Taylor. He has the arm and the potential to be the savior in Cleveland.

2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

The Giants have consistently said that they are fine with Eli Manning and aren’t looking for his replacement. It’s tough to believe with Manning so far along in his career. But, if they want to make one final run with Eli, they need to give him help on offense. A trio of weapons in Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham, and Evan Engram is a darn good start for the Giants.

3. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Jets have also done a good job keeping things quiet. It’s clear they are targeting a quarterback, but analysts and insiders are unsure as to which one they are taking at three. Baker Mayfield feels like the pick. He rose big time in 2017 due to his arm and accuracy, but his leadership ultimately is the thing the Jets covet the most.

4. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, North Carolina State

The Browns could certainly end up trading this pick, but the better idea is to stay put. Even with Barkley off the board, the Browns get a blue chip pass rusher in Bradley Chubb. Chubb is a relentless rusher with the strength and moves to become a star. Pairing him with Myles Garrett creates a juggernaut duo off the edge that will haunt the AFC for years to come.

5. Buffalo Bills (from Broncos): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

The Broncos and John Elway lose out on the Baker Mayfield sweepstakes and decide to move down. The Bills are happy to make a deal, sending 12 and 22 Denver’s way (Elway squeezes 22 out of them) to get their quarterback of the future. Josh Allen will have to sit for a bit to learn and develop, but Buffalo takes a chance on his strong arm and potential.

6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

The Colts have their pick of almost any elite prospect they want. No one offers them a good enough deal for six overall, and they opt for the best player in the draft. Quenton Nelson can play right away and will be a key cog in protecting Andrew Luck for the Colts in 2018.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, Florida State

The Bucs desperately need secondary help moving forward. Here, they decide to take Derwin James. James pairs  with Justin Evans to form a real nice duo in the secondary. James can cover receivers and tight ends, blitz, and may just play some linebacker moving forward for the Bucs.

8. Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

The Bears lose out on their favorite guy in Quenton Nelson, but they still have plenty of options with the eighth pick. Every level on the defense could use some work, but the Bears opt to solidify their front seven. Roquan Smith was an outstanding player at Georgia, and he would fit in as a three down linebacker from day one. He can play downhill and sideline-to-sideline. He’s also not just a tackling linebacker; he packs a punch too.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

The Niners are still searching for their guy in the middle of the defense. Reuben Foster looked like he’d be that, but then he got into trouble off of the field. Now, John Lynch needs to move forward with a new plan. Luckily, Tremaine Edmunds lands in his lap. Edmunds, only 19, has sky high potential as a linebacker. His versatility is his best attribute, as he can play on the edge as well as a run and chase linebacker.

10. Arizona Cardinals (from Raiders): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Josh Rosen is finally off the board here. The Cardinals make a deal with the Raiders, who unfortunately don’t land one of the top linebackers. The Raiders pick up 47 overall in the deal, and the Cardinals get their franchise quarterback. Josh Rosen is the best pure passer in the drat. His mechanics and accuracy are unmatched, and he’s better out of the pocket than he gets credit for.

11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

The Dolphins miss out on a quarterback, but they turn elsewhere. The secondary needs some help in Miami, and Minkah Fitzpatrick can help the secondary in so many ways. He can play a deep safety, cover the slot, and even blitz. Miami gets a big time chess piece here.

12. Denver Broncos (from Bills): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

After a trade back, the Broncos are sitting pretty with two first round picks. With Aqib Talib gone, the Broncos could look to help out the secondary. Denzel Ward is a great fit as a physical corner who could help them out right away. His physicality and speed is a fantastic combo. Teams will still fear that Denver secondary with Ward’s arrival.

13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DL, Washington

The Redskins miss out on getting one of the top safeties in the draft, but their backup plan works out just fine. Vita Vea is a very talented interior defender with plenty of upside. The Redskins could pair him with Jonathan Allen to create a dominant interior duo.

14. Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College 

The Packers are rumored to trade up in round one, but it doesn’t happen here. Instead, Green Bay opts to help out the pass rush. Harold Landry has the quickness and bend to get around the edge with ease. He would likely start out as a pass rushing specialist on third down, but could quietly work his way into the rotation. The front seven now looks much more formidable in Green Bay.

15. Oakland Raiders (from Cardinals): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

After the trade back, the Raiders still have options with their pick. One of those options is to find a long term answer at tackle. Donald Penn is on the tail end of his career and the Raiders need serious help at right tackle. Mike McGlinchey could come in and play on the right side right away with the idea that he would eventually play left tackle when Penn retires. McGlinchey has all the tools to be a franchise left tackle.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The first real shocker of the evening! While the Ravens do need help surrounding Joe Flacco, instead they opt to move in a different direction. Lamar Jackson has the opportunity to sit and learn an offense while Joe Flacco plays out the rest of his contract. There is plenty to like about Jackson. He is electric when he takes off and runs. He is also a better pocket passer than people realize, and his arm and accuracy make him a potential franchise quarterback.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

The Chargers continue to fight injuries every year, especially along the offensive line. They don’t have a tackle of the future at the moment, so Connor Williams is the pick here. Williams was hurt in 2017, but his 2016 tape suggests he is a franchise left tackle. Los Angeles takes a chance on Williams here to build a strong line for Philip Rivers on his final title push.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA

The Seahawks have plenty of needs, with two of them being offensive line and corner. However, with Michael Bennett gone and Cliff Avril’s deal up soon, it wouldn’t shock me to see the Seahawks pull the trigger and select a pass rusher. Marcus Davenport is still a bit raw, but he has the power and speed along the edge from his athletic ability that is hard to find.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia

The Cowboys do have a glaring need at wide receiver. The problem is I’m not sure any are worth taking at 19 overall for them. They’d be better off waiting until day two for their guy at wide receiver. Instead, they opt to help reload the offensive line again. Isaiah Wynn has the versatility to play guard or tackle for them, and he gives them another powerful tackle with a good anchor and good athleticism.

20. Detroit Lions: Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

The Lions are continuously getting mocked defensive linemen, because that just seems like the way Matt Patricia wants this team to improve. Da’Ron Payne played very well down the stretch at Alabama, constantly shredding offensive lines to get in the backfield. The crazy thing? His best football is in front of him.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

The Bengals are a team whose offensive line needs a major overhaul. Getting Cordy Glenn in the trade with Buffalo helped, but it didn’t do everything. Here, the Bengals opt to get Frank Ragnow. He is a powerful center with quick feet and the ability to effortlessly work to the second level. Injuries are the question for him, and if he stays healthy, the Bengals got a good one here.

22. Denver Broncos (from Bills): James Daniels, C/G, Iowa

The Broncos second pick in the trade with the Bills likely puts them in position to draft offensive line. While most teams will be looking to draft James Daniels to play center, the Broncos draft him with the intention of playing him at guard. He is a quick and powerful player with a great anchor to hold blocks once he gets a hold of you. He would fit well on that line to protect Case Keenum and open running lanes.

23. New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

This is the name that many say will be a first round pick. Kolton Miller is very raw as a pass protector, but some team will fall in love with his athleticism. The Patriots do just that here. Miller reminds many of Nate Solder, who just left via free agency. The Pats desperately need a left tackle, and they go get their guy with the first of their two first round picks.

24. Carolina Panthers: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The Panthers need to add more weapons for Cam Newton in the passing game. Calvin Ridley would be a major help right out of the gate. He is a crisp route runner who can also take the top off of a defense. Don’t be surprised if Ridley sees 800 yards as a rookie if he is indeed taken by the Panthers.

25. Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Front seven is the name of the game for the Titans. Rashaan Evans fits in perfect with this team as a linebacker on early downs who can move over to the edge on passing downs. Evans run and chase ability is impressive, along with his tackling downhill. He is also very good at getting off of blocks to make plays.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DL, Florida

This has been the pick for the Falcons for so long that it might be too easy now. The Falcons could use some interior rush ability to complement speed rushers Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley. Bryan is raw, but his best football might just be in front of him. He could become a dangerous interior rusher.

27. New Orleans Saints: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

The Saints lose out on getting Lamar Jackson, so their focus turns to helping out Drew Brees on offense. Hayden Hurst is a great balanced tight end. He can stretch the middle of the field as a pass catcher while also getting involved in the run game as a blocker. He is on the older side coming out, but the Saints are in win now mode and get a nice tight end to pair with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

The Le’Veon Bell talks seem to be going nowhere, and he could only see one more year in a Steeler uniform. The Steelers may look for a running back of the future, and he falls right into their lap at 28. Derrius Guice is a do-it-all running back with three down potential in the NFL. He runs angry with so much power, but he has the lateral quickness and straight line speed to break runs for long gains. The Steelers wouldn’t lose a step if he came in.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

The Jaguars have so few needs, that Will Hernandez falling into their lap makes so much sense. Protecting Blake Bortles and paving way in the running game is important, and nobody plays meaner than Hernandez. He would start instantly and form a powerful duo on the left side with Cam Robinson.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, G, Ohio State

Minnesota, like Jacksonville, doesn’t have a lot of holes on the roster. The offensive line is still improving, and adding someone like Billy Price would only make it stronger. Pairing him on the interior with Pat Elflein would make Dalvin Cook very pleased about his return this season.

31. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

The Patriots use their second first round pick on some secondary help. The Eagles torched them up and down the field on Super Bowl Sunday, so adding a true cover corner is a priority. Mike Hughes is an extremely talented corner with excellent man coverage skills. He also has the awareness to find the football when it’s in the air to make a play on it.

32. Green Bay Packers (from Eagles): Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

A final surprise to end the first round. The Packers failed to trade up early in round one, so they sneak back into the end of the round for a cornerback. The Eagles are happy to trade back to acquire more picks, and the Packers get their guy. Josh Jackson has elite ball skills and mirrors receivers pretty well in coverage. He needs to continue to improve his instincts and physicality, but he can instantly provide turnovers to a defense that needs it.

Like your team’s pick? Who would you pick if you were them? Find me on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 to discuss all things draft leading up to tonight!

Join Nate and Jake as they live stream the first two nights of the draft, providing analysis and answering your questions all night long! Go to @SportsGuysBlog at the start of day one and two and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Strategies For NFC Teams In The 2018 NFL Draft

Draft day is finally here! The excitement is building as fans gather to see who will be joining their team in 2018. Before the festivities begin, Jake has plenty of draft reading for you to do! So dive in!

Hey guys! Instead of the usual mock drafts or big boards, this piece will analyze teams’ strategies for the upcoming draft. Here, we will take a look at every NFC team and what their strategy could look like for the weekend! Enjoy!

Chicago Bears – Help Out Every Level Of The Defense

Number of picks – Seven

The Bears have plenty to address in this draft, but the list was shortened thanks to free agency. With receivers and a tight end coming in to help Mitchell Trubisky, the focus shifts to the defensive side of the ball. The Bears could use help at all levels of the defense, and they could have their pick of the litter at eight overall. If Quenton Nelson is there, then scrap the defense first plans. Nelson would be excellent in forming a great interior trio with Cody Whitehair and Kyle Long.

If they don’t get Nelson, back to defense we go. If he’s there, Roquan Smith would be my pick for the Bears. He is excellent as a three down linebacker with sideline-to-sideline abilities. After that, Denzel Ward and Tremaine Edmunds are the next two the Bears should consider. Ward would help out the cornerback group immediately while Edmunds could be moved all over the front seven.

Let’s say the Bears go with Roquan at number eight overall. Next on the list would be some help at either corner or wide receiver. Corner would be the smarter move, with players like Mike Hughes and Isaiah Oliver available in that range. If they look for a receiver, D.J. Moore would be a name to throw out there.

If Chicago adds another weapon and fills the holes at every level, their fans should be pleased.

Green Bay Packers – Defense, Defense, Defense! And A Wide Receiver

Number of picks – 12

The Packers could have a decision to make at pick number 14. Rumor has it they might move up, but let’s assume they stand pat here. At 14, the obvious pick is either adding an edge rusher or a cornerback. With Denzel Ward likely gone by this point, the Packers should opt for either Harold Landry or a corner, my preference being Jaire Alexander. If either Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James is available, that further complicates things. I’m a huge fan of Derwin James, and I’d probably lean his way if he’s available.

In the second round, the Packers will also have a tough decision. Let’s stick with Harold Landry to the Packers to keep it simple. Green Bay should still be looking corner here, and shouldn’t hesitate if Jaire Alexander or Mike Hughes are still there. If they aren’t, then wide receiver is in play. Anthony Miller, D.J. Chark, and James Washington would all fit well in Green Bay. Chark can take the top off, Miller is very polished, and Washington just feels like a producer in that offense.

If they do indeed go wide receiver, the late rounds still provide cornerback help. Duke Dawson would be an excellent nickel player, along with Rashan Gaulden. Quenton Meeks is another to consider, but he’d be a better fit outside. They should also consider offensive linemen, since their right side is up in the air at this point. Braden Smith, Sean Welsh, and Alex Cappa should be on the Packers minds as well.

Minnesota Vikings – Fill The Offensive Line And Let Draft Come To You

Number of picks – Eight

The Vikings, like the Jaguars in my AFC article, don’t have a ton of holes on the team. However, the offensive line could use some help. Someone like Will Hernandez or Billy Price would be a great add for the Vikings in round one. They would help protect Cousins while also paving holes for Dalvin Cook.

After that, the needs get interesting. The defensive line could use some more depth. Luckily for Minnesota, the interior defensive line class is deep. Someone like Derrick Nnadi would be a great add at the end of round two. Further back, teammates Justin Jones and B.J. Hill are bargain players that can help push the pocket.

If they really want to, finding another pass rusher never hurts. I recently mocked Arden Key to them in round two, and he could definitely be there for the taking. However the Vikings play it, they will be able to pick and choose where they want to add depth in the draft.

Detroit Lions – Find Your Running Back and Help The Defensive Line

Number of picks – Six

The Lions are moving in a new direction with new head coach Matt Patricia. The team needs help in two major spots, running back and defensive line. The Lions could take Derrius Guice at 20, but the class is deep this year and I wouldn’t spend the pick on Guice (even though I’m a huge fan of his).

That means we are headed to the defensive line. Harold Landry could be available if the Packers pass, and if he’s there, he’s the pick. However, the Packers could take him, so it comes down to either Marcus Davenport or someone like Da’Ron Payne in the middle. If I’m the GM, Payne is the pick to start off the draft for the Lions.

After that, it’s about finding edge help and help at running back. One of the Georgia backs is my target for the Lions in round two. Either way, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are both excellent backs that can change a game. Later, edge help from someone like Obo Okoronkwo or Tyquan Lewis can make a lot of sense for Detroit.

Dallas Cowboys – Let Board Come To You, Draft Balanced

Number of picks – 10

The Cowboys are a flashy team, and they want to get back to that 14-2 season they had in 2016. However, the draft needs to go well to get back to that point. Dallas has gotten better with the draft in the past few seasons, and they need to do it again.

Let’s start with the 19th overall pick. Wide receiver is a need with Dez Bryant gone, but most receivers are a reach for me at 19. Offensive line should be the move here, and someone like Isaiah Wynn makes a ton of sense. He played tackle for Georgia in a tough conference, but he can slide into the guard spot if needed.

Round two is the sweet spot to take care of the receiver issue. Guys like Anthony Miller, Courtland Sutton, and James Washington. Any of those guys make sense for Dallas in round two. After that, it’s about helping the defense. Someone to complement DeMarcus Lawrence would be smart, and guys like Kemoko Turay could help out there. Interior guys could also be in play. Derrick Nnadi could certainly help, along with Maurice Hurst, should his freefall occur.

New York Giants – Bolster The Offensive Line And Defense

Number of picks – Six

The Giants certainly should think about the future, but management clearly believes in Eli Manning. Let’s say I believe in him as well, so trading back is a must. To do this, I’m taking 12 and 22 for the second overall pick, allowing the Bills to get their guy. With only six picks beforehand, it’s an easy decision. I also pick up a round two selection.

To start, help along the offensive line is important. I lose out on Quenton Nelson, but plenty of guys are still there. So let’s take a swing to help the pass rush with Harold Landry. Landry has great bend around the edge and will instantly boost what was a lackluster pass rush last season. After that, it’s time for an offensive lineman to help protect Eli Manning. James Daniels and Frank Ragnow are players to watch here, and I’ll scoop up Daniels to be the starting center after the departure of Weston Richburg.

The later rounds have the Giants looking running back and corner. Players like John Kelly, Royce Freeman, and Rashad Penny are players to watch for Big Blue. For corner, it’s players like Quenton Meeks and Tarvarus McFadden. The Giants can get back to where they were in 2016, and a good draft is the way there.

Philadelphia Eagles – With Few Needs, Look For Best Available

Number of picks – Six

The Eagles are the reigning Super Bowl champs, and they got richer along the line after acquiring Michael Bennett. This group can sit back and let the draft come to them. If Derrius Guice is available at 32, pull the trigger. He’s well worth it at the end of round one to be a bell cow with LeGarrette Blount gone. If not, the offensive line could use some help. If someone like Connor Williams falls to them, he would be the heir apparent to Jason Peters. If neither of those are options, someone like Mike Hughes or Isaiah Oliver would be good picks for a secondary that could use reinforcing.

Let’s say Guice is there and they take him. Their next pick is a couple rounds down the road, so a linebacker like Fred Warner could be available for them. Someone like Tyrell Crosby could be available as a right tackle with Lane Johnson moving to the left. In any sense, someone like Royce Freeman or Kerryon Johnson could become an early down back for the Eagles should they pass on Guice or avoid a running back early. The Eagles have options, and the board will dictate their moves.

Washington Redskins – Help Alex Smith And Boost The Defense

Number of picks – Eight

The Redskins pulled a stunner trading for Alex Smith in the offseason. The Redskins sent Kendall Fuller, one of the best slot corners in the league, to Kansas City in that trade. Washington has a whole bunch of needs entering the draft.

Their first priority should be to help out the secondary. With pick 13 in round one, they should be able to get either a top secondary player or someone to help the defensive line. Minkah Fitzpatrick should be their top choice. He can play in the slot or play with the defense in front of him at the safety spot. Derwin James is also a possibility for them there, along with defensive linemen Vita Vea. If both safeties are gone, pairing Vea with Jonathan Allen would be a great duo.

If they go with Vea, adding someone like Justin Reid or Jessie Bates in round two would certainly help. Jaire Alexander would be a great option in round two as well, but he’s unlikely to fall. Helping Alex Smith out would be another good possibility for them. D.J. Moore is an intriguing day two option, along with a big target like Courtland Sutton or Auden Tate. A good balance of picks to address multiple needs would help the Redskins back in the right direction.

New Orleans Saints – Pass Rush and Secondary Are Priorities

Number of picks – Eight

The Saints are a team that is contending for a Super Bowl title, but they could also be looking for a long term solution at quarterback. Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph could be in play at 27, but let’s say the Saints go with the short term idea of winning now. Getting more of a pass rush should be the priority for the Saints at 27, but there might not be a top tier talent waiting for them. Josh Sweat is an option, but teams may stray away due to medical issues. A final option for them is to get another weapon. Hayden Hurst would be an excellent option as a pass catching tight end to work the middle of the field. If Calvin Ridley were to fall, he would be an option. Let’s go with Hurst at 27.

As for the rest of the draft, the Saints could use some help to rush the passer to take the pressure off of Cam Jordan. Someone like Andrew Brown or Nathan Shepherd (even Hurst) could be available in the third round. Obo Okoronkwo is another name to watch as an edge rusher. Chad Thomas is a pass rusher not often mentioned, but he’d be fun to watch in New Orleans.

Helping the defense is a priority, but the Saints may be forced to go offense early without many options.

Atlanta Falcons – Reinforce The Trenches First

Number of picks – Seven

The Falcons are one of the rosters in the league that don’t have many holes. The only spots that could use some depth and improvement are the trenches. Atlanta will have options at the 26th pick. One of their main interests is in Taven Bryan, who would bring some pass rush from the interior. Da’Ron Payne is another interior linemen who would be a good fit in Atlanta. It sounds likely that Payne won’t be available, so Bryan is their best pick along the line. If they go to the other side, guys like Will Hernandez and Billy Price would be available. Getting an impact player there will be important for them.

If they go Bryan in the first round, the second round still offers help at the guard spot. Braden Smith and Austin Corbett are both very good guards who will still provide a day one impact. If they go interior line on the first night, then a falling Maurice Hurst could be the pick on day two.

Atlanta could also throw a curve in the trenches plan and go with a corner in round one. Jaire Alexander could be available and would fit perfectly in the slot. If they don’t address that position early, late round options do exist. Duke Dawson would be an excellent later round selection.

Carolina Panthers – Get Cam Newton Some Help

Number of picks – Eight

The Panthers need to find help for Cam Newton in this draft after trading Kelvin Benjamin last season. If the draft goes their way, they could have their pick of wide receiver at 24 overall. Calvin Ridley would be their likely selection, and it makes sense. He is a great route runner with the explosiveness to stretch the field. He would provide a day one impact. If Ridley isn’t the pick, it would likely be a cornerback. Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson are two corners who could find a home in Carolina.

If the pick is Ridley early, the Panthers would then shift their focus to defense. Corner and pass rusher are big needs for the Panthers, and adding someone like Donte Jackson or Sam Hubbard in round two would make a ton of sense. If they opt for a corner in round one, someone like Dante Pettis could make sense in round two. Either way, adding some combination of those positions should be Carolina’s move. If it were me, I would opt for a corner in round one and move on from there.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Help Out Winston Along With The Defense

Number of picks – Seven

The Bucs only have seven picks, so they need to hit on their picks in the draft. The secondary needs some work, along with the offensive line. If Quenton Nelson falls to the Bucs at seven, he should be the pick. If not, drafting a safety should be next. Derwin James would fit nicely with Justin Evans as a safety tandem. Let’s say that James is the pick in round one.

After that, cornerback and offensive line would still be needs. Isaiah Oliver is mocked to them in my two round one from last week, but they could also opt for Austin Corbett at guard to help protect Jameis Winston.

If they go with Corbett, finding help in the secondary would be the next priority. M.J. Stewart and Nick Nelson would be interesting options for the Bucs in the later rounds. If they refill the secondary and get some offensive line help, the Bucs are moving in the right direction.

Los Angeles Rams – Edge And Linebacker Are Big Needs

Number of picks – Eight

The Rams don’t have a pick in the first two rounds, so the draft will be a lot of late round talent to add depth to the roster.

Edge and corner are the biggest needs for the Rams after free agency. A couple options along the edge are Kylie Fitts and Tyquan Lewis could be good fits along the edge. Fitts is more of a pure pass rusher with the skill to come on in later downs, while Lewis has three down potential. He could move inside to rush the passer on third down.

The linebacker spot is the other position where the Rams need help. Many players exist in the middle rounds for the Rams to select there. Fred Warner is a prospect that many like as a linebacker who works through blocks and is a great tackler. Guys like Josey Jewell, Jack Cichy, Shaun Dion Hamilton, and Tegray Scales will all be in play for the Rams in the later rounds.

San Francisco 49ers – Linebacker, Weapons In Play For Niners

Number of picks – Nine

The Niners have options with their first round pick. The best option is to fill the need at linebacker with either Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith. They could move up to make sure they get one, but they should be able to get one of the two with their first pick.

In the second round, the Niners did trade away the 43rd pick to the Pats, but they do own the Saints second rounder. Offensive line or wide receiver would be the move in the second. Someone like Chukwuma Okorafor or Braden Smith would be a nice pick to protect Jimmy Garoppolo. Otherwise, someone like Dante Pettis would be a good pick for San Francisco, or a bigger target like Auden Tate or Deon Cain.

If they can add weapons and find their long term answer at linebacker, the Niners will contend sooner rather than later.

Seattle Seahawks – Secondary and Offensive Line Are Big Needs

Number of picks – Eight

The Seahawks are in a big transition. They still have their quarterback in Russell Wilson, but they need pieces back around him. Their defense is also going through a transition and could use more impact players.

I fully expect the Seahawks to look for a corner in round one, even though offensive line should be the focus. If it were me, I’d opt for someone like Connor Williams, but the Seahawks usually don’t take linemen that early. It’s more likely Seattle takes Josh Jackson or Marcus Davenport with their first selection.

After selecting Josh Jackson, they may shift to look for edge help later. Players like Jalyn Holmes and Jeff Holland could provide the pass rush with help in the mid rounds. They don’t have a second round pick, which hurts them a little.

In the later rounds, tight end could be a focus. Durham Smythe and Tyler Conklin are intriguing names late on day two or early on day three. If they opt there, they could fill a hole left by Jimmy Graham but get an all-around player to take his place and fit better in Seattle’s system.

Arizona Cardinals – Quarterback Is An Option, But The Roster Needs Help

Number of picks – Eight

The Cardinals may get the opportunity to trade up in this draft. If they can land Josh Rosen via a trade, they should absolutely do so. Rosen is the best quarterback in the draft and would be a player to build around in future drafts. If they stand pat, Lamar Jackson should be available for the taking.

If Rosen is the play early, they would likely lose their second round pick. Looking for offensive line help and corner help would be their strategy in the later rounds. Alex Cappa is a name being thrown around as a mid round tackle who could end up being a very good starter. Putting someone like Rashan Gaulden or Quenton Meeks opposite Patrick Peterson would also be a smart move for Arizona.

If the Cardinals stay put, they could get some receiver help early on day two. Anthony Miller or James Washington would work well under the mentorship of Larry Fitzgerald, then take over as the top guy in the near future.

However Arizona attacks the draft, they need to continue to add talent to a mostly lackluster roster.

Think your team has a good strategy? What would you do for your team? Follow me on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 to talk NFL Draft!

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