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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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! 

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!

Also, join us for our second annual NFL Draft live stream @SportsGuysBlog on Twitter! We will stream the first two nights of the draft, so come with questions and discussion! It’s going to be a great time! See you there!

Packers 7 Round Mock Draft

We are closing in here on the eve of the NFL Draft.  When it comes to the Packers, one word stands alone in this draft: defense.  The Packers had issues on defense last season, especially in the secondary.  Injuries were a major problem last season, and that made it tough on young corners like Ladarius Gunter.  The pass rush was another big concern.  Clay Matthews wasn’t as dominant as he’s been in the past, and many pass rushers have moved on.  With a deep draft like this one, the Packers should be able to reload the defense and add some playmakers for Aaron Rodgers.

Round 1, 29th Overall: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

The Packers need help in the secondary, no matter if both Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins pan out.  The depth at corner is lacking with the release of Sam Shields.  Davon House was a solid add in free agency, but it’s time to get younger and stronger.  Quincy Wilson is long, physical corner that could in excel in Dom Capers’ system.  He could come in right away and help patch up a secondary that gave up so many big plays.

Round 2, 61st Overall: Jordan Willis, EDGE, Kansas State

In round two, the Packers address another position of need.  This time, they look to find an edge rusher.  Currently, the only edge rushers on the roster with game experience are Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Jayrone Elliott, and Kyler Fackrell.  The Packers need some help getting to the quarterback, which could help mask some issues in the secondary.  Jordan Willis has enjoyed a rise throughout the draft process.  His athletic ability was shown during the combine, and if you watch the tape, there’s a lot to like.  He has the ability to win with speed on the edge, and you see the hustle if he misreads the play.  Yes, he needs to work on run defense, but the Packers need pure pass rushers added to the roster.

Round 3, 93rd Overall: Derek Rivers, EDGE, Youngstown State

Doubling up at pass rusher?  Why not?  You can never have enough pass rushers in this league.  Plus, Derek Rivers at 93 is excellent value.  Rivers has the motor to make a real difference for the Packers.  He has very good power and strength to win one-on-ones, and he can stack and shed blockers with ease.  You can see him overrun plays at times, but discipline is something that can be taught.  The ability Rivers has cannot.  Plus, if Willis and Rivers pan out, you can move Matthews inside more.

Round 4, 134th Overall: Nico Siragusa, G, San Diego State

Aaron Rodgers, offensive line reinforcements are on the way.  Even with the signing of former Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans today, guard is still a need.  Lane Taylor and Evans wouldn’t be bad, but Evans is a short term option and Ted Thompson always seems to find gems along the offensive line late in drafts.  Nico Siragusa has a chance to be that late round gem.  When you watch the tape, you see an extremely effective run blocker.  He gets to the second level with ease on running plays, and he has enough quickness to succeed at the next level.

Round 5, 172nd Overall: Joe Williams, RB, Utah

The Packers need more from the running back position.  Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael will be fine, but you can always have depth.  Montgomery is more of a 15-18 touch guy instead of a 20+ guy.  Plus, it would be nice to have someone else for short yardage situations.  Joe Williams is a solid pick in the fifth round.  On tape, Williams shows a lot.  He can be a one cut back with his quickness and his ability to find the hole and hit it hard.  Williams is not afraid of contact, and he is reading and willing to run people over.  He can be a nice complement to Montgomery, and he can be a threat in short yardage situations.  It’s always good to have depth.

Round 5, 182nd Overall: Jordan Evans, LB, Oklahoma

In today’s NFL, you need more athletic linebackers.  Players like Deion Jones are going to be coveted earlier because of this passing league.  Third down linebackers are important, because you need quicker guys in coverage over the middle of the field.  Joe Thomas has carved out a role, but his recognition isn’t as good as it should be for a dime linebacker.  Jordan Evans can come in and fill a role as a dime backer, and will shore up a unit that already has their early down guys in Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez.  Ryan is getting better in coverage, but Evans has the speed to succeed in coverage.

Round 6, 212th Overall: Howard Wilson, CB, Houston

There is no doubt a double up at corner will be considered this time around.  Quincy Wilson will help out, but that doesn’t mean that Thompson will stop there.  If Howard Wilson is available in round six, I think there’s too much value to pass on him.  Wilson is another corner with very good ball skills and good recognition.  You can see him drive back toward the ball and make plays.  Wilson is also a competitor, and guys who want to compete and get their hands dirty should be who the Packers look for.

Round 7, 247th Overall: Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma

Late round flier on one of the most productive wide receivers in college football last season?  Check.  Westbrook does have some concerns with his size and some off the field stuff, but you can’t pass up his explosiveness with the ball in his hands.  If anyone can turn this guy into a solid pro, it’s Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers.

Agree with the picks? Disagree? Comment here or find me on Twitter @JSchyvinck13.

Jake Schyvinck covers the NFL and NFL Draft for The Sports Guys.  For all things draft this year, find him on Twitter above and follow the new cover32 account he manages! @cover32_KC

2017 Mock Draft 4.0: Browns Find Trade Partner

Let me welcome you all to NFL Draft week!  It’s going to be a busy time for us here at the site, and the draft content has barely begun.  With only three days to go until the first round of the draft, it is time to release my final mock draft of the season.  There is so much buzz circulating about what will go down on Thursday night, and the buzz has ultimately fallen on the Cleveland Browns.

Everything revolves around what Cleveland will do when they send the first ticket in with the newest Brown’s name on it.  If it is indeed Myles Garrett, as most of us expect, then a flurry of teams desperate to trade down begins, along with the Browns trying to find a partner to trade up and get another guy they really like in this draft: Mitchell Trubisky.

If the pick turns out to be Trubisky at number one, then a different chaos could ensue.  I don’t think the Niners would hesitate knowing Garrett is still there.  But after that, teams could be desperate to move up with the likes of the Jets and Bills standing in their way (I’m looking at you, Arizona).

No matter what happens, it’s going to be one heck of a night.  Let’s dive in to my last mock of the season.

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M

The Browns have a franchise altering decision here at number one overall.  There is a considerable divide amongst the front office on who to pick here.  With enough draft capital to trade up to get the quarterback they want, it’s time to be smart at one and take the best player in this draft.  Garrett has a plethora of ways to get to the quarterback and has the potential to grow into a perennial all pro.

2. San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas, EDGE, Stanford

The 49ers will likely try to field calls in order to trade out of this point, but there’s no guarantee that there will be takers for the obviously large capital they would want for it. Let’s assume here the Niners don’t find a trade partner and stay here.  I think Fournette and Adams would both be in play here, but they have a chance to build a young and lethal front with the addition of Solomon Thomas.  Thomas off the edge with Armstead and Buckner in the middle would rebuild what the Niners had under Jim Harbaugh.

3. Chicago Bears: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Bears have plenty of ways to go here, but the secondary is an obvious need, with Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller being their best options on the outside.  Quarterback is a wild card, but it seems they are ready to go with Mike Glennon.  With Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford as constant nightmares for the Bears secondary, it’s time to upgrade.  Marshon Lattimore has elite coverage and ball skills to thrive at the next level.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

The Jags have built a very good young core on the defensive side of the ball, so it might just be a luxury pick no matter where they turn there.  Turning to the offensive side of the ball, the Jags need help for Blake Bortles.  He regressed significantly last season, and that was partly due to an ineffective running game.  It’s time to add a true playmaker at running back, and who better than a guy who some are declaring to be the next generational prospect at running back, Leonard Fournette.

5. Cleveland Browns (from Tennessee Titans): Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC

(Browns get: No. 5 overall. Titans get: No. 12 overall, No. 33 overall)

The Browns are too darn tempted to sit back and wait, even if that means they don’t get a quarterback in this draft.  The Titans would love nothing more than to pick up a second round pick in exchange for moving back seven spots.  As for the Browns, it’s the best of both worlds for the franchise.  The front office gets both players they have coveted, and the city of Cleveland has plenty of hope with a stockpile of picks in the next two seasons. Trubisky’s main concern is the amount of games he started in college, but he has solid tools to be a franchise quarterback.

6. New York Jets: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

The Jets are one of the teams that will need a quarterback at some point to resurrect the franchise.  I just don’t think they believe that any of the quarterbacks are worthy of a first round pick.  So, the Jets turn to the defense.  Calvin Pryor hasn’t worked out well, and they need help on the back end.  Malik Hooker is sitting right there as a guy who has spectacular ball skills and instincts to get to the ball.  I believe that he is exactly what Todd Bowles wants on the back end of his defense.

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Jamal Adams, S, LSU

The Chargers are building something really nice on the defensive side of the ball.  Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are very good pass rushers.  Jatavis Brown and Denzel Perryman are a nice duo on the second level.  They have solid corners on the outside in Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett.  Now, they could use a leader on the back end.  Jamal Adams has top five player written all over him.  He can come up and play in the box against the run, and can play on the back end as well as cover in the slot.  Adams can step up and be a big leader on this defense for years to come.

8. Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

The Panthers lost out on the Fournette sweepstakes, and they also lost out on both safeties and Marshon Lattimore.  So, it’s time for best player available to take effect.  The Panthers did lose some depth with Kony Ealy being traded away, and the best part about Allen is that he can play on the interior of the line or he can come off the edge.  That versatility will come in handy for the Panthers, who could use a rusher off the edge that currently features aging vets Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee

The Bengals have lost a ton the last two seasons in free agency.  If there was a top offensive lineman in this draft worthy of a top 10 pick, this would be a perfect fit.  But, there aren’t any worthy of that honor.  So, let’s go get someone to help out Carlos Dunlap off the edge.  The Bengals love bigger, stronger pass rushers, and a guy like Derek Barnett fits right in.  He has been extremely productive with Tennessee, and has a motor that won’t quit.

10. Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Could the Bills take Watson here?  Absolutely.  But, I think they still believe in Tyrod Taylor, and that if this team can put it all together, Taylor will thrive.  So, with some serious offensive weapons on the board, the Bills decide to give Taylor some help and pair up two Clemson wide receivers.  Mike Williams is a pretty solid complement to Sammy Watkins in that while Watkins has the speed to win outside, Williams brings a big time red zone threat who is a better route runner than advertised.

11. New Orleans Saints: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

There are plenty of options for the Saints, a team who has struggled on defense for some time.  With the top three edge rushers off the board, the Saints turn to the cornerback position, where they continue to look for a number one guy.  Gareon Conley could be the guy that they have been searching for.  Conley often gets lost in the mix when Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker are mentioned, but he is an impressive corner with very good ball skills and the ability to play in the slot.

12. Tennessee Titans (from Browns): OJ Howard, TE, Alabama

The Titans pick up a pick in round two, and that will help towards building their team into a contender.  As for this pick, the Titans pull the trigger on one of the best players available.  OJ Howard fits perfectly with what the Titans want to do on offense: run the ball effectively and open up the field with the play action.  Howard is a very good blocker, and he can stretch the field and be a very dangerous threat in the passing game. Plus, Delanie Walker isn’t getting younger.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

The Cardinals are not a playoff team right now.  There are major weaknesses on both sides of the ball, and their offense is getting weaker with their once promising group of receivers weakening.  Even with holes on both sides, Bruce Arians and company are too tempted with seeing their quarterback of the future on the board.  Patrick Mahomes has the strong arm to thrive in the vertical offense the Cardinals run.  With Arians’ help, Mahomes could develop into a franchise quarterback.

14. Philadelphia Eagles: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Yes, the Eagles need help at corner.  But, with how much depth this draft has at that position, the Eagles instead decide to bring balance to the offense.  Christian McCaffrey can be a true difference maker and matchup nightmare in Philly.  He can run between the tackles and line up in the slot as a receiver.  Second year pro Carson Wentz would love some help as he continues to develop.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Haason Reddick, LB/EDGE, Temple

The Colts could pick any spot on their defense to address and it would be a good pick.  They could really use a playmaker who can step in and become a leader on that defense. Haason Reddick can be that guy.  Reddick’s versatility is what makes him special.  He played on the edge last season at Temple, but at the Senior Bowl, he dominated in off ball linebacker drills.  The Colts can use him as a two down off ball guy who can come down and rush the passer on third down.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Marlon Humphrey is going a lot higher than people think he is.  You just don’t get big, physical, and fast corners very often.  The Ravens have strong ties to Alabama prospects in recent drafts, so why not here?  Humphrey can come in and learn how to refine his game when the ball is in the air and become a dominant force in press coverage.

17. Washington Redskins: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

The Redskins are a serious wild card in this draft.  Everyone thought they’d go defensive line last year, and they surprised with a receiver.  With no top tier defensive linemen outside of Jonathan Allen, the Redskins elect to grab a guy who can lock down the second level.  Jarrad Davis isn’t as far behind Reuben Foster as some may think.  He can come downhill in the run game and he can stay on the field on third down in coverage.

18. Tennessee Titans: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

After addressing the offense with their first pick, the Titans now turn to the defensive side of the ball.  With not too many corners off the board, and with their secondary lacking playmakers, the Titans jump at the chance to grab a top five corner in the draft.  Quincy Wilson has exceptional ball skills and instincts to thrive at the next level.  He will be an important cog in the Titans defense.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Njoku, TE, Miami

This pairing has been very common over the past couple months.  The Buccaneers are a team where it is hard to find a real draft need.  Offensive line is a possibility, but this year’s class really isn’t worth a first round pick.  The defense is solid in Tampa, so why not grab another weapon for Jameis Winston.  David Njoku has serious potential with all of his physical abilities.  He is more built for a receiving tight end role, but that doesn’t mean he won’t put in the effort to block.  With all that raw potential, and a tag team buddy in Cameron Brate, Njoku could really thrive in Tampa.

20. Denver Broncos: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

It’s no secret that the Broncos need help on the offensive line.  They gained rhythm on offense when they could run the ball effectively, and the success of the running game wasn’t where they wanted it to be last season.  They need someone who can be effective in the run game as well as protecting Siemian/Lynch.  Garett Bolles has the mean streak you want to see in an offensive lineman, and he can make a difference for that sputtering line.

21. Detroit Lions: Takkarist McKinley, EDGE, UCLA

The Lions need to work on getting off the field on third downs, and that starts with finding someone besides Ziggy Ansah who can pressure the quarterback.  Takkarist McKinley would be a nice fit for Detroit.  Yes, McKinley is still a little raw and needs to refine some of his technique while setting an edge, but there is plenty to like.  McKinley has an extremely high motor and has so many effort plays where he won’t give up.  Plus, he has great speed and quickness.  The Lions land a potential star.

22. Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky

The Dolphins really found themselves down the stretch last season, which resulted in a playoff berth.  Running the ball effectively was a key to Adam Gase’s offense being successful, and they will want to continue that.  With Branden Albert gone, it’s likely that Laremy Tunsil moves to left tackle.  Enter Forrest Lamp, who has Pro Bowl potential no matter where you put him on the line.  Lamp can play either tackle or guard, and that gives the Dolphins options when it comes to the offensive line.

23. New York Giants: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

The Giants will be bringing back an elite defense in 2017.  What they won’t be bringing back is a top flight offense.  Adding Brandon Marshall was good for the Giants, but now they need to make sure their quarterback can stay upright.  Ryan Ramczyk has Pro Bowl potential at the tackles spot, and his technician-like abilities will translate to the NFL.

24. Oakland Raiders: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

The fall ends here.  Reuben Foster is too darn good to fall out of the first round, and it’s doubtful that a Super Bowl contender who needs help at linebacker will pass on him.  Foster is exactly what the Raiders need on defense.  He can be a big time leader and playmaker, and can anchor a defense that gave up over six yards per play.

25. Houston Texans: DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson

The Texans cannot afford to enter 2017 without someone who they believe can lead this franchise deeper into the playoffs.  With DeShaun Watson still on the board, the Texans select a quarterback who is no stranger to playoff runs.  He has the leadership and gamer qualities you covet in a quarterback.  Watson may not have the best arm, but with the talent around him, he doesn’t need to do it all right away.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

There isn’t much intrigue to this pick.  Seattle’s offensive line has struggled recently.  They need to address the position if they want to run the ball effectively and keep Russell Wilson upright.  Cam Robinson could come in and play a big role in their revival.  Robinson is a body mover who can be very effective in the run game, while also having the strength to stave off edge rushers.

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

With three quarterbacks off the board, it’s hard to see the Chiefs reaching for one that shouldn’t be drafted in the first round.  So, they look elsewhere.  With Derrick Johnson’s career winding down, it’s time to find a viable replacement.  Zach Cunningham has improved significantly in his time at Vanderbilt, and can come in right away and be a tackling machine.  He has the quickness and instincts to become a centerpiece on that defense.

28. Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charlton, EDGE, Michigan

The Cowboys desperately need defensive help.  With two corners from last season gone, and no guarantees with the pass rush, the Cowboys elect to go with a big, strong edge rusher who can help rejuvenate this group.  Taco Charlton has the power and quickness to win on the outside, and the strength to stack up blockers when defending the run.  His physical traits show that he has the potential to succeed in the NFL.

29. Green Bay Packers: Charles Harris, EDGE, Missouri

Yes, Packer fans, one at a time.  The need for more corners is apparent.  There isn’t much depth at that spot right now, but with young guys developing, the Packers elect to wait till later to draft a corner.  Even though Nick Perry re-signed with the Packers, they still need help off the edge.  Charles Harris could come in and shine from day one.  His spin move is second to none in this class, and he has quickness and power to consistently win against tackles.  This move could also allow Clay Matthews to move around the Packers defense.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

The Steelers see too much value here to let Corey Davis slip any further.  His stock is slipping only because he hasn’t been talked about.  That is ludicrous.  With Martavis Bryant’s future still uncertain, and not much progress being made by Sammie Coates, Corey Davis would fit right in here.  Antonio Brown needs someone to complement his game, and Davis’ route running ability and the danger after the catch make him the pick here.

31. Atlanta Falcons: Adoree Jackson, CB, USC

It’s quite clear that Atlanta needs to find help for Vic Beasley, who can’t do it all himself off the edge, but with all the top guys gone, it’s time to be patient there.  Instead, the Falcons look to a secondary that was more vulnerable without Desmond Trufant in the lineup.  Adoree Jackson has the makings to play corner on the outside.  He has good speed and quickness to keep up, and can also make his presence known in the return game.

32. New Orleans Saints (from Patriots): John Ross, WR, Washington 

The Saints are also looking for a pass rusher, but they find themselves in the same spot as Atlanta.  So, with Cooks departing for New England, why not grab his replacement right here?  John Ross is more than just a burner.  He can run very good routes and would be very tough to cover wherever you line him up.  Drew Brees and Sean Payton would love another chess piece on the offensive side of the ball.

What do you think about this draft?  Agree on your team’s pick?  Disagree?  Put your thoughts in the comments or reply on Twitter.

Jake Schyvinck covers the NFL and NFL Draft for The Sports Guys. For more draft content, follow him on Twitter @JSchyvinck13.

A New Position On The NFL Coaching Staff?

There has been plenty of time to digest what went down in Super Bowl LI.  The Patriots completed the ultimate comeback, pairing their tactics of out scheming the Falcons with a little magic of their own, courtesy of a Julian Edelman catch for the ages.  We can talk about what happened in the final 23 minutes for eternity, but one thing sticks out over the rest.

With just under five minutes to play, Matt Ryan scrambled out of the pocket and fired a dart to Julio Jones, who made an incredible sideline catch at the New England 22 yard line.  All Atlanta had to do was run it three times and kick a field goal.  The Lombardi comes to the city of Atlanta for the first time.

But, it wasn’t meant to be.  The Falcons got extremely cute once they reached the 22 yard line.  The run with Freeman that lost a yard wasn’t a big deal.  If they had done that twice more, a 42 yard field goal would have been no problem for Matt Bryant.  Game over.  Instead of running it on second down, the Falcons came out throwing.  With the play taking a while to develop, Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers sacked Matt Ryan for a 12 yard loss.  Now, you have to get some back for a field goal try.  Matt Ryan dumps it short for Mohamed Sanu, who works his way back to the 26 yard line.  Crisis averted.  Except, Jake Matthews got called for holding.  And now, backed up to the 45 yard line, Atlanta watched their Super Bowl hopes disappear right then and there.

Kyle Shanahan defended his play calling in his press conference, stating that he wanted to give kicker Matt Bryant a shorter field goal try.  But, in the Super Bowl, up eight points, you need to churn clock and get points to ensure a two-score game.  Atlanta didn’t do that.  They ignored the situation at hand in order to go for the jugular.  It cost them, and here we sit with New England back on top.

As I sat and digested what I had just watched, the same thing hit me that hit me after Green Bay’s collapse in Seattle two years earlier.  How in the world is there not a position on the coaching staff that can be in everyone’s ear in certain game situations?

With this aspect of puzzling decisions in mind, I will provide the most recent examples where this new position would have been imperative for teams.

January of 2015.  The NFC Championship game is looking like a snooze with Green Bay out ahead 16-0 in the second half.  Seattle finally puts a solid drive together, but they stall in the red zone.  Seattle lines up for a field goal, but runs a fake.  Green Bay comes up to stop the punter, but a Seattle player leaks out for a touchdown.  That completely changes the momentum and ends up leading to a monumental collapse by Green Bay.  The funny thing about it?  After the game, Packers coaches said they usually have an alert put on for the defense to watch for the fake.  That play?  They didn’t have the alert on and weren’t expecting a fake.  I don’t know the idea behind lining up to block a field goal rather than playing base defense and watching for the fake.

Next, we head to Kansas City.  The Chiefs have always had clock management issues with Andy Reid at the helm.  The most recent issue?  We could talk about the issues against Pittsburgh in the divisional round this past season, but I want to go back to 2015 one more time.  The Chiefs had a road divisional tilt against the Patriots two years ago.  They were trailing 27-13 with 6:29 to go in the game.  The funny thing about this?  Had the Chiefs hurried up instead of running their normal offense with zero urgency, they might not have needed to attempt an onside kick.  But, Andy Reid didn’t play with urgency.  The Chiefs scored with 1:13 remaining, and an onside kick remaining as their only option.

Finally, let’s take a look at one regular season game in 2016.  The Browns were visiting the Titans in mid October still searching for their first win.  They were trailing 28-13 with under seven minutes to play.  The Browns marched down and scored with just over two minutes to go, bringing the score to 28-19.  Then, in a bonehead move, the Browns decide to go for two.  Of course, the conversion fails.  So, instead of taking the extra point to secure a one possession game with a chance to get the ball back, the Browns fail on the conversion, and it remains a two possession game.  The worst part of it all?  The Browns recovered the onside kick and got in the end zone.  But, because it was a two possession game, they had no way to tie it up.  Had they taken the extra point the previous possession, they were in perfect position to tie it up.  Alas, the comeback failed, thanks to poor awareness.

So what am I proposing?  I want the coaching staff to form a new position called “Game Flow Management”.  This position would consist of a person who would see the game as a whole, and be able to diagnose momentum and advise the coaching staff.

What would this position do? Here are just a few things that the person would do.

  • Clock management (knowing when to speed up the offense or when to slow things down)
  • Be sure coaches are ready for trick plays that could shift momentum
  • Make sure coaches know when to go for two (don’t do it too early)
  • Tell coaches when to challenge plays or when not to

This position could have prevented all of the scenarios above, utilizing the point above, amongst others. Whether it is preparing a team to watch out for a fake, to advising a coach to challenge a play, this position could help teams out in key moments during a game.  There are ways to avoid big blunders, and this position would fix those mistakes.

Obviously, coming from the other side, we do criticize coaches very often for decisions they make during a game.  Yes, down on the sideline you have to make instant judgments.  Yes, sometimes you aren’t prepared for trick plays because you are focused on getting the personnel that you need out on the field.  Yes, coaches do stick to their plan most of the time and it usually pays off.

When it comes to the Falcons in the Super Bowl, it’s not an easy call in that situation.  Two big plays on that drive in the passing game got them down to the 22 yard line, so it makes sense to go for the jugular instead of playing not to lose.  But, they were in a safe spot to settle for a field goal.

Obviously, some coaches would be opposed to something like this.  But the evidence does not lie.  There are certain situations throughout the season where having one more person in coaches’ ears would be a good thing.  With all this laid out, I think it’s time to consider making this an official position.

Jake Schyvinck covers the NFL and the NFL Draft for The Sports Guys.  Follow him on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 for all things NFL and NFL Draft.

 

 

Father and Son Play GM 1.0

At this point in draft season, with just over a month to go, I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of mock drafts.  So, with that being said, what makes this different?  To spice it up a little, I brought in my dad to play GM along with me.  In this round one mock, we alternated picks starting at the top and worked our way down to number 32.  Here is a look inside our heads, based on what we have seen so far from the players, and what we think each team might need.  My dad took the first, and we alternated from there.  Enjoy!

**NOTE: This is not what we think will happen.  This draft is based on my dad’s and my thoughts on players and what we would do at each team’s spot.  This will probably look much different on draft day.  Also, we did this before free agency.**

Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M

Scott: He’s the best pass rusher in this draft and a freakish athlete.  Cleveland needs help in a ton of places, with quarterback being one to circle.  I’m not a fan of the quarterbacks, especially this early, so as Cleveland, we won’t complicate this.  Give me the best player on the board.

San Francisco 49ers: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Jake: The Niners could do a number of different things here.  The secondary could use a face lift, and the quarterback position needs a long term solution.  But, let’s go with the number two player on my board at the moment.  Yes, Foster’s odd incident at the combine raises questions, but he’s too good of a player to let that incident define him. With NaVorro Bowman’s injury history, Foster provides immediate help and can be the next Patrick Willis for that defense.

Chicago Bears: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

Scott: The Bears have built a solid front seven that should only get better as the players gain experience.  The secondary is the issue for Chicago right now.  Marshon Lattimore has the ability to play right away and force opposing quarterbacks to look elsewhere.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Jake: The Jaguars have a number of areas to address.  Maybe the quarterback position becomes their focus with the inconsistency of Blake Bortles.  We know there was inconsistency in the secondary last season, and a presence on the back end is important.  Adams can come up and play the run in the box or stay back in coverage.  The influx of young talent continues for Jacksonville.

Tennessee Titans (from Rams): Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Scott: Like everyone else who’s up this high, the needs are evident.  The Titans could be serious division contenders once again if they nail these picks.  Humphrey is a top corner in this class, and his physicality is what separates him from the rest.

New York Jets: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

Jake: The Jets could go quarterback, but what’s the rush?  None have left the board yet.  With that in mind, let’s grab the heir apparent to Darrelle Revis.  Wilson is very technical and is a great zone corner.  He can also run with guys in man coverage.  Todd Bowles needs speed on the outside with his heavy blitzing scheme, so Wilson is a nice fit.

Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Scott: The Chargers are an up and coming defense.  They nailed the Bosa pick last year, and now need some help on the back end to fill out their unit.  Malik Hooker has tremendous range to play the back end.

Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

Jake: The fall stops here.  It seems unnecessary for the Panthers to address a position with good depth, but Allen could rush from the interior or off the edge.  His versatility could help the pass rush continue to thrive and make things easier for the young secondary.

Cincinnati Bengals: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama

Scott: I’m a huge fan of OJ Howard.  He’s the most ready tight end I’ve seen coming out.  Of course the Bengals have other needs, but why not help Andy Dalton out on the offensive side of the ball?  With Jones and Sanu gone last season, Dalton struggled more.  Pairing Howard with Eifert would be a nice combination.

Buffalo Bills: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Jake: Is Tyrod Taylor the long term answer?  Who knows, but adding insurance with a value pick here isn’t the worst thing.  The Bills have offensive pieces in place.  They just need a leader who can make all of the throws.

New Orleans Saints: Solomon Thomas, EDGE, Stanford

Scott: There isn’t much weakness to Thomas’ game.  He can play inside and outside, and having a disruptor like Thomas alongside Cameron Jordan and Sheldon Rankins is tough to pass up.

Cleveland Browns (from Eagles): Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Jake: I was hoping for Howard here, but I knew he wouldn’t last long in this draft.  The Browns need instant impact wherever they can find it, and I still don’t trust taking a QB here.  Dalvin Cook has all the makings of an every down back.  He has breakaway speed and can line up outside in the passing game.

Arizona Cardinals: Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan

Scott: Another one of my favorites still sits on the board.  I’m higher on him than a lot of people, but I see a great football player.  He can line up in multiple spots and create havoc.  The Cardinals would love having another defensive piece they can move around the formation.

Philadelphia Eagles: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Jake: The Eagles need help on the offensive side of the ball.  Carson Wentz doesn’t have too many options, even with the signing of Jeffery and Torrey Smith.  The more the merrier here.  Davis is an excellent route runner who can excel in any scheme.  Wentz to Davis could be a lethal combination for years to come.

Indianapolis Colts: Takk McKinley, EDGE, UCLA

Scott: I’m sure everyone knows how much the Colts are hurting for defensive talent.  There’s no reason they shouldn’t contend with Andrew Luck at QB.  Pass rusher is a good place to start.  McKinley is dynamic coming off the edge.

Baltimore Ravens: Taco Charlton, EDGE, Michigan

Jake: I debated for about eight of the allotted 10 minutes at this spot.  I decided to follow my strategy of need based drafting.  Terrell Suggs isn’t getting any younger, and Elvis Dumervil has been released.  It’s time for a new force to come off the edge.  The Ravens like big, long players off the edge.  Charlton is the fastest off the snap, but his strength makes him very effective.  I’m probably going to regret passing on the guy taken next.

Washington Redskins: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Scott: Yeah, I think you’ll regret that.  I get arguably the best running back in the draft at 17?  Sign me up.  The Redskins don’t have a sure fire long term answer at running back, and Fournette is the type of player who can instantly change an offense.

Tennessee Titans: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Jake: Tennessee is on the verge of contending, but there’s one thing they desperately need: a number one wide receiver.  They do have possession receivers on their roster, but a big bodied pass catcher who is masterful on deep balls is necessary for this offense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

Scott: Tampa Bay doesn’t really need a lot.  They are a solid roster.  So, why not get some more help protecting Jameis Winston?  Ramczyk has the potential to be another standout Wisconsin lineman in the NFL.

Denver Broncos: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Jake: There’s a big reason Denver struggled towards the end of the season.  One, they didn’t have the Sheriff.  Two, the running game struggled and they didn’t have the balance to get opposing defenses on their heels.  Bringing in strong offensive linemen can help put the Super Bowl 50 Champs back on track.  Bolles can come in and be effective from the jump.

Detroit Lions: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

Scott: Reddick impressed me in the Senior Bowl a lot, and his speed as a linebacker is eye popping.  The Lions could use another key piece on defense, and Reddick can play right away.

Miami Dolphins: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

Jake: The Dolphins have multiple areas of need on defense, but it’s time to find a middle linebacker.  I know Timmons has signed, but him and Alonso aren’t necessarily the future. Davis is a downhill mauler with above average coverage skills.

New York Giants: Tim Williams, EDGE, Alabama

Scott: You can never have enough pass rushers, and the Giants will use Denver’s recent philosophy.  Even with JPP and Vernon outside and Okwara behind them, Tim Williams provides speed off the edge and can come in on third downs.

Oakland Raiders: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Jake: This did not take into account the torn achilles Jones suffered on his pro day.  But, with his talent, the Raiders could plan for the future and expect him back after redshirting.  The Raiders have a larger window than most teams, so this pick wouldn’t harm them.  Jones has great length and coverage ability to fit right in and be a lock down corner.

Houston Texans: Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA

Scott: Moreau was a big riser at the combine, and his speed can’t be overlooked, especially in the passing league we see today.  Moreau has good ball skills and plays tough at the line of scrimmage. Moreau comes in and takes the place of departed CB AJ Bouye.

Cleveland Browns (trade with Seahawks): DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

Jake: First trade of the draft.  The Seahawks move back with no issue, and the Browns come back into round one to grab the quarterback of the future.  Kizer has the strong arm to fit with Hue Jackson, and his athleticism is another plus.

San Francisco 49ers (trade with Chiefs): Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

Scott: This will remind some of the Niners trade up to get Joshua Garnett last year.  Kansas moves back and acquires a couple picks in a deep draft.  As for the Niners, they get their quarterback to develop into a starter in a couple seasons.  Mahomes has a strong arm and makes plenty of wow throws.  He can sit behind Hoyer for a while.

Dallas Cowboys: Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee

Jake: The Cowboys desperately need help off the edge, and a top name fell right into their lap.  Barnett has technique questions, but his motor never stops.  With all the departed corners in free agency, Barnett needs to make an impact early on.

Green Bay Packers: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

Scott: Green Bay needs an overhaul at corner.  Even as Randall and Rollins progress, they need corners with better coverage skills.  Conley is overshadowed a bit by Lattimore, but he’s a top 15 player himself.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Adoree Jackson, CB, USC

Jake: Speed, speed, speed.  It’s all about speed on both sides of the ball these days.  Pittsburgh has other needs, but Jackson has multiple strengths in his game.  He will help out a very depleted cornerback group with his speed and ball skills.  Don’t forget about his ability as a returner, which he will excel at from the get go.

Atlanta Falcons: Charles Harris, EDGE, Missouri

Scott: Atlanta’s defense began to stand out with rookie studs Keanu Neal and Deion Jones.  Now, they need someone to help out Vic Beasley off the edge.  Charles Harris has so many different moves off the edge and is as technical as any rusher in this draft.  Bringing him in continues the reload in Atlanta.

New England Patriots: Desmond King, CB/S, Iowa

Jake: I know the Patriots will go with a versatile player wherever they draft as they continue to build their defense.  The reigning champs need some help on the back end with the departure of Logan Ryan.  Desmond King can play nickel for them and also shift back to safety.  He does very well in coverage and can be another Belichick-groomed star.

What would you do at your team’s spot?  Comment here or find me on Twitter below.

Jake Schyvinck covers the NFL and the NFL Draft for The Sports Guys.  For continuous coverage, follow him on Twitter @JSchyvinck13.

Peyton Manning: A Legend, Retired

March 7th, 2016 will go down in history as the end of an era for fans of the great game, and for fans of the good guy. On March 7th, the entire country said goodbye to one of the great heroes of modern football as we know it. On the 7th day of March in the year 2016, Peyton Manning announced his retirement from the National Football League. 2x Super Bowl winner, five-time MVP winner made the announcement at a Bronco’s press conference, not even a month after winning Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers.

During the conference, it was easily viewable to even the non-football fan watching the video of the announcement that football was more than just a game to Manning. The New Orleans-born Quarterback was emotional, and showed just how much the game truly meant to him. The same man whom thousands grew up not just watching, but idolizing. Whenever the football left the hands of Manning, hearts skipped a beat around the world. The impossible, suddenly became possible. It wasn’t just how good he was. He was testament that with a lot of hard work, and endless pursuance, you, or I, could be in his shoes. Whether it be in his 13 full seasons with the Colts of Indianapolis, or in the seasons until his retirement with the Denver Broncos, there was always a little sparkle about the way Peyton Manning played, and also handled himself. Young men all over America, and in other parts of the world, grew up watching this commanding general lead his teams to records, trophies, and perhaps most importantly for kids such as myself whom grew up watching his every move, memories.

Memories come in abundance with the mention of Peyton Manning. He holds a stunning total of over 20 records in the National Football League, and leaves a legacy that, without a doubt is bound for Canton. It’s an emotional affair for sports fans any time that a sports icon retires, and the case for Manning is no different. There has been a clear switch in the way football has been played in recent years. The pocket-controlling, long-pass hurling quarterbacks of old are becoming fewer and fewer in today’s league, being replaced with the (just as fun to watch, no less) quick-passing, quarterbacks who are built on speed, and escaping defenses. Still, the NFL, will always have a place for quarterbacks who are able to control the field like Manning has done for the past eighteen seasons.

Good quarterbacks will come and go, but for a generation of still-young football fans, the man who we idolized growing up, will go with a special kind of sorrow. Never again will we see the famed matchup of Peyton Manning taking on Tom Brady. Never again, as evidenced by his changed reaction after the most recent Super Bowl, will we hear Peyton say “I’m going to Disney World!” as he stands in the confetti shower on the field after almost assuredly winning the MVP of the game. Manning is the first quarterback to ever reach 200 wins, and the only player to ever win a Super Bowl with two different teams. Upon his announcement, players like DeMarcus Ware, Vernon Davis, and Cam Newton (his most recent Super Bowl opponent) all congratulated Manning on his retirement, and joined in the chorus of thousands of football fans all over the world that sung of his accomplishments.

As for the young men who grew up idolizing Peyton Williams Manning, the ones now coming into their prime, both as players themselves, and as the fans, we will continue to love the great game, even after heroes like Manning and the countless others who have announced retirement this year, are gone. Though, there will always be a special place in our heart for “The Sheriff,” “The Middle Manning,” and simply, Peyton. Football goes on, as modern superstars rise up to take the places of Peyton and others like him, just as they took the place of others before them. On the 7th of March, in the year 2016, a legend stepped back from football. Though he may be walking away from the game, his memories, will always remain.