Who are the Early Candidates for Offensive Rookie of the Year?

We’re four weeks in and this season has been nothing short of riveting. As a draft geek, I love seeing how rookies fit with their new teams, and there have been some standouts thus far on both sides of the ball.

Today, let’s take a look at who are the early offensive rookie of the year candidates.

8. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb.

Just barely nudging into consideration is an emerging weapon for Baker Mayfield. Chubb has been an afterthought thus far, but his performance against the Oakland Raiders put the league on notice.

Chubb rushed for 105 yards on 3 attempts (yeah, that’s an average of 35 yards per carry) against Oakland, and the Browns are looking to give him more carries moving forward.

7. Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals QB Josh Rosen.

This is a true dark-horse pick, but if Rosen can turn this struggling franchise around, then he’ll most definitely be considered for OROY. I thought it was foolish to throw him into the fire against the Bears, but he showed some encouraging traits in his first start against Seattle.

Against the Seahawks, Rosen went 15 for 27 for 180 yards and 1 touchdown. Although these aren’t great stats, given that this was his first start and he didn’t throw any picks, it’s not bad. If Rosen can show that he can be an upper-tier QB in the NFL, he’ll OROY consideration.

6. Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay.

Lindsay is the only undrafted rookie I have on this list, but boy is he deserving of it. I wanted to also include Lindsay’s teammate, Royce Freeman on this list, but Lindsay has shown way more explosiveness and he jumps off your screen.

So far this season, Lindsay has 267 yards rushing and he’s averaging 5.9 yards per carry. If Lindsay can continue with this type of production and be a factor in the passing game, Lindsay should get be in the OROY discussion.

5. Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold.

In some aspects, it’s been a tough transition for the former USC quarterback. He’s thrown 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, and his first appearance on Thursday Night Football ended in a loss to Baker Mayfield’s Cleveland Browns. However, Darnold has shown that he’s the future of the Big Apple.

His performance against the Detroit Lions put him on a pedestal that was probably too high for him, but he showed some spark. If he can revive this season and put the Jets in the middle of the pact, Darnold could become this year’s OROY.

4. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions 

Detroit Lions RB Kerryon Johnson.

Johnson has had a quite, but impressive first four weeks of the NFL season. He became the first Detroit Lions running back since 2013 to rush for over 100 yards in one game.

Through four weeks, Johnson has run for 216 yards for 5.7 yards a carry. He has also been a factor in the passing game, too. In order for Johnson to become OROY, he must be entrusted to be the bell-cow and he must be given the ball more in the passing game.

3. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns 

Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield.

It looks like Hue Jackson’s plan of benching Baker for Tyrod Taylor for a year didn’t work in his favour. That’s alright, though, since Mayfield has shown promise in both his first appearance and first start, respectively. Could Mayfield become Cleveland’s saving grace? If so, would a mediocre record be enough of an accomplishment for him to win OROY?

In his first appearance against the New York Jets, Baker went 17 for 23 and 201 yards. In his first start against the Raiders, the Oklahoma QB went 21 for 41 and 295 yards, with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Not a stellar performance, but Cleveland’s offence putting up 42 points is noteworthy. The title of number one overall pick has lofty expectations, and if Baker can meet them, he’ll be OROY.

2. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley.

Let’s not lie to ourselves, everyone thought Saquon would be the unanimous OROY coming into the 2018 NFL season. Has he lived up to expectations? I don’t think he has, but I blame a lot of that on how poor the Giants are as a collective. It’s no secret: Barkley is versatile. However, in order to win OROY, he must demonstrate that he is an elite running talent.

Over the first four weeks, Saquon has accumulated 260 rushing yards with 3 touchdowns. As well, Barkley has 27 receptions for 193 receiving yards. He’s been good, but he has to push it into the next gear to get my OROY vote.

1. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley.

Perhaps an unlikely leading candidate for OROY, Alabama’s Calvin Ridley has been incredible in the first quarter of the season. Ridley has been an excellent complimentary piece to Julio Jones, and while that isn’t translating into wins, the Falcons must be happy with what they’ve seen.

Ridley has 264 receiving yards and a league-leading 6 receiving touchdowns. Julio takes a lot of targets, as he leads the league in receiving yards, but Ridley will get his fair share of attention from Matty Ice. Look out for Ridley to be my pick for OROY.

Cleveland Browns 2018 Season Preview

Cleveland Browns 2018 Season Preview

Giving my season preview for the Cleveland Browns 2018 NFL Season including my win-loss prediction, bold predictions, statistical projections and analysis of the team’s strengths, weaknesses, and key players Baker Mayfield, Josh Gordon, and Myles Garrett. Will Baker Mayfield succeed in his rookie year?

Bold Predictions for the 2018 NFL Draft Class

Bold Predictions for the 2018 NFL Draft Class

The 2018 NFL Draft has come to an end. Now that the dust has settled, let’s talk about how the first round picks will pan out.

2018’s first round picks will be graded using a scale ranging from future Hall of Famer to absolute bust. Let’s see how each team’s pick will do for them.

1. Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Prediction: Bust

The pick that shocked the world will end up in flames. Mayfield is accurate and an electric playmaker. However, I have my concerns with him. He’s had legal issues, unsportsmanlike conduct on the field and on the sidelines, which does not bode well for the prototypical NFL quarterback. He isn’t Johnny Manziel, but he won’t be Peyton Manning, or even Joe Flacco, for that matter.

Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield.

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

Prediction: Pro Bowler

This is a match made in heaven. Some suggested that the Giants should have drafted a quarterback, but when’s the last time Eli Manning had a running game? The answer: since Tiki Barber. Barkley will be an electric playmaker for the Giants and the trio of Manning, Beckham and Barkley will be quite the spectacle.

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley.

3. New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Prediction: Pro Bowler

The Jets must have sprinted to get that draft card in to the commissioner. Darnold fell into their lap, and he should be a nice fit in the Big Apple. Darnold has good leadership intangibles and has great QB traits. I doubt he’ll be a Hall of Famer, but he’ll make a few Pro Bowls and lead his team to some respectable playoff runs.

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold.

4. Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Prediction: Quality Starter

Many suspected that the Browns would have taken Bradley Chubb with the fourth pick, but they opted for local standout Denzel Ward. Personally, I like the move, since I’m not as high on Chubb as some are, and I like the idea of having more Ohio State players. Ward won’t be as good as his former teammate Marshon Lattimore, who won Defensive Rookie of the Year, but look for Ward to make some Pro Bowls in the future.

Cleveland Browns CB Denzel Ward.

5. Denver Broncos: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State

Prediction: Quality Starter

Like I said before, I’m not as high on Chubb compared to others, but he’ll be a quality starter. It’ll be interesting to see who will start opposite Von Miller, since Shane Ray is still a solid starter. The Broncos will likely regret picking Chubb, since there will be players who were picked after who could make a great impact for their respective teams. However, I’m happy they didn’t select a quarterback.

Denver Broncos DE Bradley Chubb.

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

Prediction: Future Hall of Famer

The Colts may have gotten the steal of the draft. Yes, Nelson is a guard, but ask any QB who has to play Aaron Donald or Fletcher Cox and they’ll tell you that guard play is important. Andrew Luck has been a human piñata since he got into the league, and his resurgence will be attributed to the additional protection.

Indianapolis Colts G Quenton Nelson.

7. Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Prediction: Bust

Buffalo traded up with Tampa Bay to select their quarterback of the future. Allen has a cannon of an arm, but he’s very unpolished and will need to adapt to NFL defensive schemes. His football IQ is lacking and he has to play Bill Belichick twice a year. Evidently, he’ll become a bust in Buffalo.

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen.

8. Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Prediction: Quality Starter

I’m a big fan of Smith going to the Bears. He fits Chicago’s mantra of being blue collar and tough, and he gets to join his former teammate Leonard Floyd. Smith will end up being a staple in the Bears’ defense.

Chicago Bears LB Roquan Smith.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Prediction: Quality Starter

San Francisco invested in Jimmy Garoppolo’s future by getting a tackle in Mike McGlinchey. Left tackle Joe Staley is old and they traded their right tackle Trent Brown to the New England Patriots. McGlinchey will start at right tackle and eventually slide over to left tackle. McGlinchey will struggle early in his career, but I see him having a Eric Fisher type career where he struggles early on, but improves as the years pass.

San Francisco 49ers OT Mike McGlinchey.

10. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Prediction: Pro Bowler

The Arizona Cardinals traded with the Oakland Raiders to nab their future starting QB. Rosen is loved by some and hated by many, due to his smug behaviour. Because of this, Rosen fell to 10. The UCLA product was my favourite QB in this year’s draft, but I think his ceiling is limited. He may make a few Pro Bowls, but he won’t be a generational talent.

Arizona Cardinals QB Josh Rosen.

11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

Prediction: Pro Bowler

Miami got a great player in Minkah Fitzpatrick. His outstanding work ethic and Alabama pedigree makes him a special talent. The Dolphins lack hard working, dependable players, and Fitzpatrick has the ability to be a culture changer. Because of this, he will make a few Pro Bowls in a likely successful career.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Prediction: Bust

I like Vea, but I don’t see him succeeding in Tampa Bay. The thought of him and Gerald McCoy in the middle of the defensive line is scary, but Vea will be marginalized by McCoy’s exceptional play. Hopefully this doesn’t happen, but I envision Vea being a bust.

13. Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Prediction: Quality Starter

I was not a fan of this pick, but Washington won’t be too disappointed by this pick. Payne gets to join former Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen in the Capital, but Payne won’t be a difference maker, even with a supporting cast. He’ll be a decent player, and that’s about it.

14. New Orleans Saints: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

Prediction: Bust

The Saints traded a boat load to the Green Bay Packers in order to select Marcus Davenport, and it will end up not being worth it. Davenport tests well, but he doesn’t dominate his lower level competition as much as one would want. Davenport won’t end up being the dominant edge rusher opposite Cam Jordan that NOLA wants him to be.

15. Oakland Raiders: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

Prediction: Quality Starter 

Oakland shocked many draft analysts when they selected Kolton Miller. Their right tackle position hasn’t been solidified, and Donald Penn is getting closer to retirement. Miller will be a decent tackle, but Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie could have maximized the value of this pick more.

16. Buffalo Bills: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Prediction: Pro Bowler

Buffalo traded up to select their next great defender in Tremaine Edmunds. His impressive tape and athletic ability will make him a Pro Bowl talent for the Bills.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida State

Prediction: Pro Bowler

The Chargers were the beneficiaries of James slipping to them. His instincts and playmaking ability will make him a great safety. He learned his swagger from former Florida State teammate Jalen Ramsey, and that alone will earn him a few Pro Bowls.

18. Green Bay Packers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Prediction: Quality Starter

The Packers nabbed one of the best corners in this year’s draft. Alexander is a physical, ball hawking corner who’s skill set can fill a void in the Packer defense. His flashy play will help him be respected around the league, but his size will hurt him from being a Pro Bowl talent.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Prediction: Quality Starter

The Dallas Cowboys have been solid at drafting in recent years, and Vander Esch shouldn’t disappoint. Some analysts believe he could be Brian Urlacher, which I vehemently disagree with, but he has that old school mentality. He won’t be a Pro Bowl level linebacker, but he’ll be a solid starter.

20. Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

Prediction: Quality Starter

I’ll never understand this pick, but to be fair, I’d consider it a safe pick. It’s a reach, most definitely, but Ragnow will be a quality starter in the NFL. He didn’t warrant a first round pick, and James Daniels is the better center prospect, but Matthew Stafford should be happy that he has a quality snapper now.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Billy Price, C, Ohio State

Prediction: Quality Starter

Again, I don’t understand why these teams take average centers in the first round. Again, the Bengals and Andy Dalton will be happy to have a decent center with Price, but they could have gotten better offensive linemen at this stage of the draft. In essence, bad pick, yet still a good player.

22. Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Prediction: Pro Bowler

The Titans’ strategy in this draft was quality over quantity. They traded up for three of their four draft picks, and it should work out for them. Rashaan Evans, their first round pick, has Pro Bowl potential and will slide right into this defense.

23. New England Patriots: Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia

Prediction: Quality Starter 

With Nate Solder signing with the New York Giants, the Patriots used one of their first round picks on an undersized tackle. Isaiah Wynn is a good prospect who could be a great guard, but it seems as though Bill Belichick wants to play him at tackle. His 6’2″ height is concerning for a blindside tackle, but perhaps he can make it work.

24. Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

Prediction: Bust

I didn’t understand the D.J. Moore hype train during the late stages of the draft. He’s a solid prospect, but he’s not a first round talent, so I expect him to be a bust. Cam Newton might be able to make him a better player, but Carolina would have been better off with a Calvin Ridley or Courtland Sutton.

25. Baltimore Ravens: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

Prediction: Quality Starter

The Maxx Williams experiment didn’t work out, so the Ravens got two of the top tight end prospects in Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews. Hurst is a volume catcher who can be a game changer, and Joe Flacco (or Lamar Jackson) will love to throw to him.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Prediction: Quality Starter

Julio Jones’ future in Atlanta is up in the air, but if he comes back and is paired up with Calvin Ridley, the league will be put on notice. Matt Ryan should be ecstatic to get Ridley who’s an excellent compliment to Jones. I don’t see him being a Pro Bowler, but he’ll be respected around the league.

27. Seattle Seahawks: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

Prediction: Bust

Seattle had one of the most surprising selections of the first round in drafting Rashaad Penny. Ultimately, it’ll end up not panning out for them. Penny is an all-round back, but he doesn’t warrant a first round pick and the expectations surrounding a first round running back.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech

Prediction: Quality Starter

Pittsburgh surprised the football world when they picked Edmunds, but he’ll end up being a good player for them. He has good instincts and a solid work ethic, and should personify the Pittsburgh Steelers well.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

Prediction: Bust

The Jags opted to draft another Florida product in the first round. Bryan has a lot of good physical traits, but he lacks instincts and might find himself lost in the mix in Jacksonville’s competitive defensive line.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida

Prediction: Future Hall of Famer

This prediction might seem bold, but I really like this fit for Hughes. Him and Xavier Rhodes will be an exciting one, and they could have a better Legion of Boom on their hands.

31. New England Patriots: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

Prediction: Quality Starter

New England picked two Georgia products in Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel. Michel was highly productive at Georgia, even with Nick Chubb taking some of the carries. Michel is a great fit in New England, since they have a running back by committee approach.

32. Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Prediction: Pro Bowler

Few players fit their team’s mantra quite like Lamar Jackson does to the Baltimore Ravens. His electric play will make him supersede the average Joe Flacco. Eventually, I see Jackson becoming a Pro Bowl quarterback.

Grayzee’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft

Grayzee’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft

Welcome to my NFL Mock Draft!  I’m not the hugest mock draft guy, as it truly is impossible to predict where all these guys land.  However, since it is the day before the draft and we’ll have more information than we ever will, I might as well do a mock draft.  There will be no trades, even though Buffalo, Arizona, and possibly New England seem like candidates to trade up.  Let’s get started.

Pick #1: Cleveland Browns select Sam Darnold (QB- USC)

Some rumors suggest Cleveland likes Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield, but I think they’d be foolish to not go with Darnold at #1.  He seems least likely to bust out of all the QBs in this draft class, which the Browns could certainly use given their history with drafting QBs.  Darnold had a rocky year compared to his 2016 campaign, but losing JuJu Smith-Schuster clearly hurt his production.  Though his turnovers can be concerning, Darnold has all the skills to be a great QB at the next level.

Pick #2: New York Giants select Saquon Barkley (RB- Penn St.)

New GM Dave Gettleman has talked about drafting a player who would “wear a golden jacket” one day, so I don’t think he would pass up on Barkley’s talent.  People think the Giants could be selecting Bradley Chubb because of the JPP trade, and I believe that would be a good fit as well.  However, the thought of having Barkley and Odell Beckham on the same offense could light up defenses for years.  And no, I don’t think the Giants signing the old and injury-prone Jonathan Stewart will deter them from drafting Barkley.

Pick #3: New York Jets select Josh Rosen (QB- UCLA)

Josh Rosen seems like the perfect fit for the Jets, who traded up to #3 to presumably get a QB.  Rosen is the most pro-ready QB in this class, and though his durability and personality scare people, he has the traits to succeed in a big market like New York.  The Jets gave up a lot to get a QB, and I think Chosen Rosen is a lot less risky than Baker Mayfield.

Josh Rosen

Photo from: AP Images

Pick #4: Cleveland Browns (from HOU) select Bradley Chubb (DE- NC. St.)

The Browns will have their pass rush set for at least the next 5 years, as they double down at defensive end.  Myles Garrett and Bradley Chubb could be deadly, and I think GM John Dorsey could learn from the Eagles model that you can never have enough edge rushers.

Pick #5: Denver Broncos select Baker Mayfield (QB- Oklahoma)

Mayfield is another QB who’s attitude has come into question, and his size has as well.  And while John Elway does love tall QBs, I think he’ll take Mayfield here.  Mayfield is quite a competitor, and could take the starting position from Case Keenum by year one possibly.

Pick #6: Indianapolis Colts select Quenton Nelson (OG- Notre Dame)

Nelson has been called a can’t miss/can’t bust prospect, and ideally he could help protect Andrew Luck for the next decade plus.  The Colts SB Nation page mentions that Nelson would help an o-line that desperately needs it, and that seems true.  Nelson is strong, has great footwork, and should be an All-Pro at the next level.

Pick #7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Minkah Fitzpatrick (CB/S- Alabama)

Minkah can play both cornerback and safety, and immediately help a Bucs secondary no matter where they choose to play him.  After all, Tampa gave up the most passing yards among any defense in the NFL last season.

Pick #8: Chicago Bears select Tremaine Edmunds (LB- Virginia Tech)

The Bears will have a solid inside ‘backer duo with Danny Trevathan and Edmunds.  Edmunds recorded well over 200 tackles in college, and won’t even turn 20 until after he hears his name called on draft night.

Pick #9: San Francisco 49ers select Roquan Smith (LB- Georgia)

John Lynch mentioned that Reuben Foster’s career with the 49ers could already be in jeopardy.  It looks as though there’s a strong possibility that the Niners will double down on ILBs, as Roquan Smith led his team in sacks last season.

Pick #10: Oakland Raiders select Denzel Ward (CB- Ohio St.)

The Raiders, much like the Bucs, played below expectations in 2017 partially due to poor secondary play.  Ward would join sophomore Gareon Conley to form a young core at the cornerback position.

Pick #11: Miami Dolphins select Calvin Ridley (WR- Alabama)

Truthfully, the Dolphins have a lot of needs, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were a team picking in the top 5 in the 2019 draft.  However, wide receiver is now a big one thanks to the departure of Jarvis Landry.  Ridley seems to be the consensus top pick at the receiver position, due to his speed and route-running abilities.

Pick #12: Buffalo Bills (from CIN) select Josh Allen (QB- Wyoming)

Allen’s strong arm and his experience playing in cold weather make him an ideal fit for Buffalo.  The Bills are so desperate for a QB that they’ve reportedly been “trying like hell” to trade up once again.  In this scenario however, Allen falls in their lap at #12.

Pick #13: Washington Redskins select Vita Vea (DT- Washington)

The Redskins will have a great foundation on the d-line with Jonathan Allen, and now Vita Vea.  Vea is a huge run-stuffer, and will fit the nose tackle position perfectly for the Skins.

Pick #14: Green Bay Packers select Derwin James (SS- Florida St.)

The Packers let go of Morgan Burnett, which means they need a new strong safety.  Derwin James fits the bill.

Pick #15: Arizona Cardinals select Lamar Jackson (QB- Louisville)

Jackson goes from being a Louisville Cardinal to an Arizona Cardinal, as the Cards can’t possibly consider Sam Bradford as their franchise QB (despite paying him $20 million).  Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has worked with a mobile QB before in Tim Tebow, so I think it could work.

Pick #16: Baltimore Ravens select Da’Ron Payne (DT- Alabama)

Given Ozzie Newsome’s love of Alabama prospects, it may make sense for him to take the best player available here in Payne.  Taking a WR here (which the Ravens do really need) might be too much of a reach.

Payne-FTR-GEtty-Images.jpg

Photo from: Getty Images

Pick #17: Los Angeles Chargers select Orlando Brown (OT- Oklahoma)

Joe Barksdale has been serviceable at right tackle, but the Bolts could be looking for an upgrade at the position.

Pick #18: Seattle Seahawks select Josh Jackson (CB- Iowa)

Will Hernandez and Billy Price could be possibilities for Seattle, as the Seahawks have struggled on the o-line for years.  However, I think they’ll address the secondary that recently lost Richard Sherman.

Pick #19: Dallas Cowboys select D.J. Moore (WR- Maryland)

With Dez Bryant gone, Dallas has a hole in the receiving corps.  Adding Allen Hurns and Moore can alleviate that.

Pick #20: Detroit Lions select Marcus Davenport (DE- UTSA)

The Lions franchised Ziggy Ansah, and he could use a partner in crime on the d-line.  Davenport has great size and speed, and the Lions will take him.

Pick #21: Cincinnati Bengals (from BUF) select Will Hernandez (OG- UTEP)

Cincy traded for Cordy Glenn to help a weak o-line, but the interior needs help as well.  Losing Kevin Zeitler last offseason did no favors for the Bengals, and so they’ll draft Hernandez.

Pick #22: Buffalo Bills select Billy Price (C/OG- Ohio St.)

The Bills have lost center Eric Wood to retirement this offseason, and even if Richie Incognito comes out of retirement, he is 34 years old.  The Bills need new blood on the interior of their o-line, and they’ll get that with Price.

Pick #23: New England Patriots (from LAR) select Mike McGlinchey (OT- Notre Dame)

The Pats lost Nate Solder this offseason, and need a new man to protect Brady’s blindside.

Pick #24: Carolina Panthers select Jaire Alexander (CB- Louisville)

The Panthers still need some help in their secondary, and they’ll get it here.

Pick #25: Tennessee Titans select Harold Landry (DE- Boston College)

The Titans departure against the Patriots in the playoffs proved that not only were they a young team that couldn’t stack up to a juggernaut like New England, they also couldn’t get any pressure on the QB.  Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel could consider Landry, who had a 16.5 sack season in 2016.

Pick #26: Atlanta Falcons select Maurice Hurst (DT- Michigan)

Despite Hurst’s heart condition possibly scaring away some teams, the Falcons lost Dontari Poe this offseason and need help at defensive tackle.

Pick #27: New Orleans Saints select Mark Andrews (TE- Oklahoma)

Drew Brees will get another weapon, as Coby Fleener hasn’t exactly worked out in New Orleans.

Pick #28: Pittsburgh Steelers select Mason Rudolph (QB- Oklahoma St.)

Ben Roethlisberger is 36 and has mentioned retirement before.  The Steelers could do a traditional Steeler thing and take a linebacker with their first round pick, but I think think they could develop Rudolph behind Big Ben for the next few years.

Pick #29: Jacksonville Jaguars select Christian Kirk (WR- Texas A&M)

With the two Allens having left in free agency (Robinson to the Bears and Hurns to the Cowboys), the Jaguars need a new weapon for Blake Bortles.  The speedy Kirk fits the bill.

Photo from: AP Images

Pick #30: Minnesota Vikings select Connor Williams (OT- Texas)

The Vikings need to protect their big investment in Kirk Cousins, and the o-line still isn’t where it needs to be.  Williams can find a starting spot on the o-line.

Pick #31: New England Patriots select Leighton Vander Esch (LB- Boise St.)

Vander Esch will help a front 7 that was one of the weaker links for the Super Bowl runner-ups last year.

Pick #32: Philadelphia Eagles select Derrius Guice (RB- LSU)

It’s a deep runningback draft, and the Eagles can take advantage of that with this pick.  Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, and Guice can form a three-headed monster in the Eagles backfield.

Nick’s Picks: 2018 NFL Draft 9.0 (7 Round Mock Draft)

Nick’s Picks: 2018 NFL Draft 9.0 (7 Round Mock Draft)

Ladies and gentlemen, it is finally here! The 9.0 version of Nick’s Picks, which includes seven rounds and a one sentence explanation for each pick. Let’s get to it!

Round One

1. CLE: Sam Darnold, QB, USC: Cleveland finds their QB for the future.

USC quarterback Sam Darnold about to throw a pass.

2. NYG: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: Eli Manning still has some left in the tank, but he needs a better supporting cast, so Barkley is the pick.

3. NYJ(IND): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: The Jets need a quarterback and Rosen will be able to handle the New York media.

4. CLE(HOU): Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State: The best teams have a multitude of pass rushers, so Chubb should be the pick.

5. DEN: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame: John Elway won’t fall in love with any of this year’s quarterbacks, so he’ll get a Pro Bowl offensive lineman instead.

6. IND(NYJ): Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech: The Colts are bare at linebacker, and Edmunds is the best available option.

7. TB: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama: The Bucs get a versatile defender who brings a hard-working attitude.

8. CHI: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia: The Bears need a thumper in the middle of their defense.

9. SF: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: The 49ers could have an intriguing cornerback duo in Richard Sherman and Denzel Ward.

10. OAK: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame: Donald Penn is old and the right tackle position is in question, so the Raiders get a solid blocker in McGlinchey.

Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey.

11. MIA: Vita Vea, DT, Washington: Ndamukong Suh didn’t live up to his historic contract and he’s now a Ram, and Vea can come in to replace Suh’s void.

12. BUF(CIN): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: The Bills need a strong arm quarterback who can play in cold weather, and Allen can be the quarterback for the future.

13. WAS: Derwin James, S, Florida State: Washington gets a dynamic playmaker in their secondary.

14. GB: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: Jordy Nelson was cut and signed with the Raiders, so getting a young playmaker in Ridley fills that void.

15. AZ: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: The Cardinals get an electric playmaker in Lamar Jackson.

16. BAL: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP: Marshal Yanda is old and Baltimore’s offensive line is underwhelming.

17. LAC: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: Mayfield will have a slip in the draft and learn from Philip Rivers.

18. SEA: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa: Richard Sherman left for San Francisco, which leaves a void at the cornerback position.

19. DAL: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama: Dallas lacks depth at safety and Harrison is the best at the position.

20. DET: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: The Lions have been desperate for a running back for the last five years, and Guice is the best available.

LSU running back Derrius Guice celebrating after scoring a touchdown.

21. CIN(BUF): James Daniels, C, Iowa: The Bengals need a center and Daniels is a special talent.

22. BUF: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia: The Bills have some holes in their offensive line and Wynn is as versatile as they come.

23. NE(LAR): Harold Landry, DE, Boston College: The Patriots are desperate for a pass rush and Landry is the purest edge rusher in this draft.

24. CAR: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU: The Panthers need a bona fide number one receiver.

25. TEN: Justin Reid, S, Stanford: The Titans can create their new Legion of Boom with a safety.

26. ATL: Da’Ron Payne: The Falcons are the recipients of Payne slipping in the draft.

27. NO: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA: Cameron Jordan needs a partner to bend the edge with.

28. PIT: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State: Big Ben isn’t getting any younger and Rudolph can become a starter in a few years.

29. JAX: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma: The Jags need to make sure Blake Bortles can stay upright and that Leonard Fournette has adequate blockers for the future.

30. MIN: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama: Kentrell Brothers is suspended for the first four games for violated the NFL’s PED policy, and having Evans with Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr makes a fantastic young linebacking corps.

Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans.

31. NE: Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh: Nate Solder left in free agency to the New York Giants, so Bill Belichick will look to find a new blindside protector for Tom Brady.

32. PHI: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU: The Eagles lost Patrick Robinson to the Saints in free agency and they released Daryl Worley after his arrest, so a new cornerback is needed.

Round Two

33. CLE: Connor Williams, OT, Texas: Future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas retired this offseason, so Williams will be the pick.

34. NYG: Billy Price, C, Ohio State: Weston Richburg left in free agency to the San Francisco 49ers, so the G-Men will look to find a new center.

35. CLE(HOU): Sony Michel, RB, Georgia: Carlos Hyde needs a new versatile back to pair up with and have an Ingram-Kamara type relationship with a receiving back.

36. IND: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado: Vontae Davis is now a Buffalo Bill and Quincy Wilson isn’t ready to be the number one corner, so Oliver provides some competition.

37. IND(NYJ): Ronald Jones II, RB, USC: Marlon Mack thinks he can be the bell-cow, but he’ll need some competition to make that happen.

38. TB: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia: Doug Martin is off to Oakland and the Bucs desperately need a premier back.

39. CHI: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M: The Bears need to ensure Mitchell Trubisky has enough weapons to succeed, and Kirk is a versatile weapon on offense and special teams.

40. DEN: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State: The Broncos will look at the value of selecting Vander Esch at this position and will want to select him.

Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.

41. OAK: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF: Sean Smith was released and Gareon Conley is unproven, also, T.J. Carrie left for Cleveland, so Hughes will be the pick.

42. MIA: Arden Key, DE, LSU: The edge rushers in Miami are old and Key has loads of potential.

43. NE(SF): Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma: Rob Gronkowski may retire or leave New England, so getting a young tight end should be on the to-do list.

44. WAS: Duke Dawson, CB, Florida: Kendall Fuller was traded to the Chiefs and Washington needs some young corners.

45. GB: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan: Green Bay will take the risk on Hurst’s medical issues and potentially get a first round talent.

46. CIN: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA: Cordy Glenn was acquired via trade from the Bills, but their offensive line is still in shambles.

47. AZ: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland: Larry Fitzgerald is likely done after this season, so the Cardinals will look to find a new number one receiver.

48. LAC: Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest: The Chargers likely won’t retain Tre Boston, so Bates will be a younger, more versatile safety for Los Angeles.

49. IND(NYJ via SEA): Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE, Oklahoma: The Colts need a new pass rusher for their 4-3 defense, and Okoronkwo is as explosive as they come.

50. DAL: Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State: Anthony Hitchens left for Kansas City in free agency, and Sean Lee is injury prone, so Jerry Jones will look to find an athletic linebacker.

South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard.

51. DET: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State: The Lions released Eric Ebron and they need a new red zone threat.

52. BAL: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina: Maxx Williams hasn’t worked out and Flacco needs a new red zone threat.

53. BUF: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington: The Bills’ receiving corps is a bit shaky and Pettis has offensive and special teams ability.

54. KC: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida: Bennie Logan left to sign with the Tennessee Titans, and Bryan is great value at this part of the draft.

55. CAR: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State: Greg Olsen will retire soon and Newton still needs someone to be a reliable target.

56. BUF(LAR): Kevin Toliver II, CB, LSU: Second year corner Tre’Davious White will want to pair up with his college partner in Toliver.

57. TEN: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame: The Titans need a new receiver and to not put as much pressure on Corey Davis.

58. ATL: Braden Smith, G, Auburn: The Falcons need some interior offensive line help.

59. SF(NO): D.J. Chark, WR, LSU: Chark can eventually become the number one receiver for the recently paid Jimmy Garoppolo.

60. PIT: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville: The Steelers need another young corner in the mix, and Alexander is far and away the best at this position.

Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander picks off a pass against Purdue.

61. JAX: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State: Both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are no longer on the roster, and Washington can become a top option.

62. MIN: Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State: The Vikings need more competition at the tackle position.

63. NE: Luke Falk, QB, Washington State: Tom Brady is likely going to retire sooner rather than later, so they need to find his replacement.

64. CLE(PHI): J.C. Jackson, CB, Maryland: The Browns need to find a number one corner early in this draft.

Round Three

65. BUF(CLE): Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas: Eric Wood had to retire due to injury concerns, and Ragnow is the best available.

66. NYG: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn: Eli Apple is on thin ice in New York and Davis provides quality competition at the position.

67. IND: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas: The Colts need to get multiple linebackers in this draft.

68. HOU: Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan: Duane Brown was traded to the Seahawks and they need a new tackle moving forward.

69. TB: Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon: Donovan Smith has been a disappointment and the Bucs need to find a new tackle for Jameis Winston.

70. SF(CHI): Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia: Reuben Foster is in serious legal trouble and they’ll need to find a potential replacement.

Virginia linebacker Micah Kiser.

71. DEN: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford: The Broncos need some more depth in their interior defensive line.

72. NYG(TB): Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia: The Giants need a new edge rusher who has some coverage ability in Carter.

73. MIA: Shaun Dion Hamilton, LB, Alabama: The Dolphins released Lawrence Timmons, so they’ll need to find a replacement at middle linebacker.

74. SF: Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn: The 49ers signed Jerick McKinnon, but he isn’t the feature back, and Johnson has the potential to become that.

75. OAK: Dorance Armstrong, DE, Kansas: Outside of Khalil Mack, the Raiders need new edge rushers.

76. GB: Mark Walton, RB, Miami (FL): There’s no number one running back on the Packers’ roster, and Walton is the best available.

77. CIN: Kurt Benkert, QB, Virginia: Andy Dalton has been a subpar starter and Benkert could give him a run for his money.

78. KC(WAS): Holton Hill, CB, Texas: The Chiefs need a new number one corner now that Marcus Peters is in Los Angeles.

79. AZ: Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin: The Cardinals need a new tight end to help in the red zone.

80. HOU(SEA): Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State: Lamar Miller hasn’t lived up to his contract and Ballage gives competition to both Miller and D’Onta Foreman.

Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage.

81. DAL: Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State: Dez Bryant was released and the Cowboys need a new number one receiver.

82. DET: Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia: Haloti Ngata is now a Philadelphia Eagle and they need some interior pressure on their defensive line.

83. BAL: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State: The Ravens need speed on their defensive line, and Hubbard is an explosive athlete.

84. LAC: Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC: The Chargers need more help in their linebacking corps.

85. CAR(BUF): Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF: The feel-good story of the draft lands with the Carolina Panthers.

86. KC: Sean Welsh, G, Iowa: The Chiefs will look to add more competition in their interior offensive line.

87. LAR: Chad Thomas, DE, Miami (FL): Although the Rams have an amazing interior rushing attack, they need some edge rushers to supplement the double-teams Donald and Suh will receive.

88. CAR: Deshon Elliott, S, Texas: The Panthers need a young safety to replace their older secondary.

89. TEN: Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech: The Titans need to find a dominant nose tackle, and Settle is best available.

90. ATL: Cam Serigne, TE, Wake Forest: Austin Hooper isn’t the long-term solution at tight end, and Serigne gives Hooper some competition.

Wake Forest tight end Cam Serigne.

91. NO: Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond: Drew Brees isn’t going to be in NOLA for the long-term future, and Lauletta has as much potential as anyone.

92. PIT: Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa: No one knows if Ryan Shazier will ever be what he used to be, and Jewell is a prototypical Steeler.

93. JAX: Jeff Holland, DE, Auburn: The Jaguars should find another edge rusher to get into the mix with their dominant attack.

94. MIN: Auden Tate, WR, Florida State: The Vikings have a solid receiving group, but they need a big body receiver for Kirk Cousins to succeed.

95. NE: Quin Blanding, S, Virginia: The Patriots safety tandem in Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung is getting old and there’s no immediate replacement.

96. BUF(PHI): Marcell Frazier, DE, Missouri: The Bills need another young edge rusher for the future.

97. AZ: Tony Brown, CB, Alabama: Arizona will look to find a new slot corner.

98. HOU: Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State: Houston could look to get a new corner to add some competition.

99. DEN: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis: Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are old and could use a young, dynamic receiver.

100. CIN: Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State: The Bengals have a nice tandem in edge rushers, but Sweat adds some quality depth and even competition.

Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat.

Round Four

101. GB(CLE): Isaac Yiadom, CB, Boston College: The Packers like long, rangy corners, and Yiadom could compete for starting snaps.

102. TB(NYG): Kemoko Turay, DE, Rutgers: Tampa would benefit from another dynamic edge rusher in Turay.

103. HOU: Mason Cole, C, Michigan: Nick Martin might not be the long-term solution at center, so adding competition is important.

104. IND: Ike Boettger, OT, Iowa: The Colts need more protection for Andrew Luck once and for all.

105. CHI: Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech: The Bears could look to get more competition at the safety position.

106. DEN: Kameron Kelly, CB, San Diego State: Aqib Talib is now a Los Angeles Ram and Kelly has loads of versatility.

107. NYJ: Geron Christian, OT, Louisville: Whoever is going to be quarterback needs protection.

108. NYG(TB): Deon Cain, WR, Clemson: With Brandon Marshall being released, the Giants need a new receiving threat.

109. WAS(DEN via SF): Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest: Washington needs some competition at the edge rushing position.

110. OAK: B.J. Hill, DT, North Carolina State: The Raiders need to add another defensive tackle in their average defensive line room.

111. LAR (MIA): Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State: Jared Goff needs another target to further grow his development.

112. CIN: Dimitri Flowers, FB, Oklahoma: The Bengals will get an offensive weapon and get Joe Mixon’s fullback from his college days.

113. DEN (WAS): Simmie Cobbs Jr., WR, Indiana: Denver should look to get multiple receiving threats in this draft.

114. CLE (GB): Austin Corbett, G, Nevada: The Browns should look to get more depth in their offensive line.

115. CHI (AZ): Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon: The Bears love to nab mid-round running backs and feature them in their offense, and Freeman is this year’s sleeper.

116. DAL: Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State: The Cowboys need more players who could potentially start on their defensive line.

117. DET: Fred Warner, LB, BYU: Detroit needs to find another linebacker opposite Jarrad Davis to make their linebacking corps a decent one.

118. BAL: Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State: The Ravens receiving corps is old and has limited talent, and Ateman could emerge as the number one target.

119. LAC: Desmond Harrison, OT, West Georgia: Keeping Philip Rivers upright must be a priority for the Chargers.

120. SEA: Alex Cappa, OT, Humboldt State: Russell Wilson has been running for his life the last few years, so some offensive line help is necessary.

121. BUF: Kyzir White, S, West Virginia: Buffalo’s safeties need some depth at safety.

122. KC: Deontay Burnett, WR, USC: Ensuring Patrick Mahomes has weapons for the future is vital for the Chiefs’ success.

123. MIA(CLE via CAR): Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama: Averett has the ability to compete for the starting job in Miami.

124. KC(LAR): Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana: Travis Kelce is elite, but injury prone, so finding a solid number two target is important for this offense.

125. TEN: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State: Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis should be a nice duo, but Penny acts as a good insurance policy in case of injury.

126. ATL: Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana: The linebacking corps is bare in Atlanta, and Scales has the ability to compete for starting snaps.

127. NO: Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State: Baker is good value at this stage of the draft and fills a need for the Saints.

128. SF(PIT): Devron Davis, CB, UTSA: The 49ers need multiple corners in order to create competition.

129. JAX: R.J. McIntosh, DT, Miami (FL): Marcell Dareus is getting old and expensive, so finding a cheaper replacement should be on the to do list for the Jags.

130. PHI(MIN): DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State: The Eagles need more depth at receiver and upcoming contracts could make their current players expensive down the road.

131. MIA(PHI via NE): Keke Coutee, WR, Texas Tech: The Dolphins lost their slot receiver in Jarvis Landry, so finding a decent replacement is necessary.

132. PHI: Rasheem Green, DT, USC: Philadelphia has a dominant defensive line, but having quality depth is important for future success.

133. GB: Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin: Some quality depth at linebacker is vital for the Packers.

134. AZ: Scott Quessenberry, C, UCLA: Arizona should try to find a starting center in this draft, and Quessenberry has leadership experience and has potential.

135. LAR(NYG): Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama: A duo with Todd Gurley and Scarbrough would be a scary site to see.

136. LAR(NE): Zachary Crabtree, OT, Oklahoma State: The Rams need competition at the right tackle position, and Crabtree was almost exclusively a right tackle at Oklahoma State.

137. DAL: Andrew Brown, DE, Virginia: Drafting Brown creates quality competition opposite Demarcus Lawrence.

Round Five

138. GB(CLE): Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA: The Packers need more depth at the receiver position.

139. NYG: Jason Cabinda, LB, Penn State: The Giants need some more athletic linebackers with the addition of Alec Ogletree.

140. IND: Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State: Indianapolis will look to find some depth behind T.Y. Hilton, Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers.

141. SEA(HOU): Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida: Callaway has had some off the field issues, but Seattle’s locker room can embrace him and ensure he succeeds.

142. WAS(DEN): Robert Foster, WR, Alabama: Washington needs more receivers to compete with their underwhelming starting group.

143. SF(NYJ): Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State: Joe Staley is old and Jones has starting potential.

144. TB: Bryce Bobo, WR, Colorado: Tampa should look to find a slot receiver to compete with Adam Humphries.

145. CHI: Poona Ford, DT, Texas: Ensuring there’s some competition in the defensive line is imperative for the Bears.

146. SEA(OAK): Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford: Seattle has quickly turned bare at the corner position, so finding some replacements is imperative.

147. NO(MIA): Rashaan Gaulden, CB, Tennessee: The Saints will look to find a physical slot corner.

148. PIT(SF): Brett Toth, OT, Army: Pittsburgh already has an Army offensive tackle in Alejandro Villanueva, so Toth could definitely be an option for the black and gold.

149. DEN(WAS): Nyheim Hines, RB, North Carolina State: C.J. Anderson was released and the Broncos are in need of a receiving back, and Hines fills both of those needs.

150. CLE(GB): Darius Jackson, LB, Jacksonville State: Jackson provides quality depth at linebacker with some upside.

Jacksonville State linebacker Darius Jackson.

151. CIN: Mike McCray, LB, Michigan: Vontaze Burfict is suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL’s PED policy, so finding some quality linebackers is essential.

152. AZ: Greg Senat, OT, Wagner: Long-time right tackle Jared Veldheer was traded to the Broncos this offseason, and Senat is a natural right tackle.

153. DET: Hercules Mata’afa, DE, Washington State: This versatile defender will find his spot with defensive mind Matt Patricia.

154. BAL: Levi Wallace, CB, Alabama: The Ravens will look to get two things with this pick: a depth corner and another Alabama prospect.

155. LAC: Marcus Allen, S, Penn State: The Chargers need multiple young safeties to compete for starting positions.

156. SEA (PHI via SEA): Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky: The Seahawks have reportedly been interested in getting a backup QB.

157. NYJ (DAL): Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame: Matt Forte retired this offseason, so finding a potential starter in Adams is a priority.

158. CIN (BUF): Marquis Haynes, DE, Mississippi: The Bengals will jump at the potential to nab one of the best prospects at this stage of the draft.

159. OAK (NE via CLE via KC): Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa: Marshawn Lynch likely won’t be with the team after this upcoming season and Doug Martin isn’t dependable, so finding a running back should be on the to-do list.

160. DEN (LAR): Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame: Smythe is one of the top blocking tight ends in the draft, and John Elway will appreciate his versatility.

161. CAR: Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami (FL): Star Lotulelei left in free agency to Buffalo, so finding some depth at defensive tackle is needed.

162. TEN: Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State: Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan have peaked and are old, so finding some rotational edge rushers is necessary.

163. WAS (DEN via ATL): Tanner Lee, QB, Nebraska: Alex Smith will only be the answer for a few seasons, so offensive minded coach Jay Gruden will try and find a successor.

164. NO: Tre’Quan Smith, WR, UCF: Willie Snead is now a Raven, so finding some depth at receiver is important.

165. PIT: James Hearns, LB, Louisville: Pittsburgh will look to find some depth at outside linebacker.

166. BUF(JAX): J.K. Scott, P, Alabama: The Bills need a punter for the foreseeable future.

167. MIN: Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU: Minnesota will look to find depth in their offensive line.

168. SEA(NE): Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, DE, Arkansas State: The Seahawks traded Michael Bennett to the Philadelphia Eagles, and Rolland-Jones is a sack machine.

169. PHI: Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T: Jason Peters will retire soon and Hal Vaitai is still unproven, so the Eagles could find a hidden gem in Parker.

170. CIN: Jester Weah, WR, Pittsburgh: The Bengals will look to add depth at the receiver position.

171. DAL: Tyrone Crowder, G, Clemson: Dallas is known for adding quality offensive linemen, and Crowder is a sleeper at the guard position.

172. GB: Van Smith, S, Clemson: Damarious Randall was sent off to Cleveland, and finding a safety should be a priority.

173. OAK (DAL): Ola Adeniyi, DE, Toledo: Jon Gruden will look to find some sleepers later in the draft, and Adeniyi has loads of upside.

174. GB: Parry Nickerson CB, Tulane: Nickerson is one of the biggest sleepers in this draft, and Green Bay will jump at the chance to grab him.

Round Six

175. CLE: Darren Carrington II, WR, Utah: Cleveland could look for more depth at receiver in the later rounds of the draft.

176. LAR(NYG): Wyatt Teller, G, Virginia Tech: The guard position in Los Angeles has been subpar, so finding a player like Teller is important.

177. HOU: Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State: There’s no definitive starter at defensive tackle, and drafting Nnadi at this stage of the draft is exceptional value.

178. IND: Drew Bailey, DT, Louisville: There’s no number one defensive tackle with the release of Johnathan Hankins, so finding a sleeper like Bailey is imperative.

179. NYJ: Chris Worley, LB, Ohio State: Demario Davis is no longer with the Jets, so finding a potential replacement should be prioritized.

180. TB: Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan: Tampa must find some more depth at the corner position.

181. CHI: Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin: Nelson will slip in the draft because of an injury he sustained during a visit with the Lions, so Chicago will be the beneficiary of his slip.

182. AZ(DEN): Korey Robertson, WR, Southern Mississippi: Arizona lost a few receivers this offseason, so getting some extra receivers for depth and competition is vital.

183. LAR(MIA): Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State: The Rams need some potential starters at linebacker now that Alec Ogletree is a New York Giant.

184. SF: D.J. Reed, CB, Kansas State: This will be the third corner the 49ers draft, which is still necessary to sustain a competitive roster.

185. OAK: Matthew Thomas, LB, Florida State: Oakland gets solid depth at linebacker with Thomas.

186. GB: Will Clapp, C, LSU: Clapp is a versatile blocker and will work well in Green Bay.

187. BUF(CIN): Jalyn Holmes, DE, Ohio State: Buffalo gets a quality depth player in Holmes.

188. WAS: Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech: Washington needs to get a few corners to develop in this draft.

189. NO(AZ): Du’Vonta Lampkin, DT, Oklahoma: New Orleans will look to get another quality defensive lineman later in the draft.

190. BAL: Riley Ferguson, QB, Memphis: Joe Flacco might not be the answer long-term, and getting Ferguson in the sixth round is tremendous value.

191. LAC: Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham: The Chargers will look to find a second running back behind Melvin Gordon.

192. DAL(OAK via SEA): M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina: Dallas needs to find some quality corners to work for the nickel role.

193. DAL: Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado: Lindsay is a good blocking running back and will fit great behind Ezekiel Elliott.

194. LAR(DET): Jaylen Dunlap, CB, Illinois: The Rams will want some quality corners behind Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters.

195. LAR(BUF): Taylor Stallworth, DT, South Carolina: Behind Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, the Rams need more depth at defensive tackle.

196. KC: Joe Ostman, DE, Central Michigan: Tamba Hali was released and Ostman is a sack artist.

197. CAR: Will Richardson, OT, North Carolina State: Richardson gives great depth to a shaky offensive line room.

198. LAR: Brendan Mahon, G, Penn State: Los Angeles should try and add multiple offensive linemen in this draft.

199. TEN: Jacob Pugh, LB, Florida State: Avery Williamson is now a New York Jet, so finding a decent linebacker is important for the Titans’ defense.

200. ATL: D’Montre Wade, CB, Murray State: Jalen Collins was released and the Falcons need more competition at corner.

Murray State cornerback D'Montre Wade.

201. NO: Greg Stroman, CB, Virginia Tech: The Saints find solid depth at corner in Stroman.

202. TB(PIT via CLE via PIT): Breeland Speaks, DE, Mississippi: Speaks provides good depth and versatility on the defensive line.

203. JAX: Siran Neal, S, Jacksonville State: The safeties in Jacksonville are decent, but old, so finding potential replacements is a need.

204. MIN: Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford: Schultz is a solid receiver and can compete for starting time.

205. CLE(NE): Deadrin Senat, DT, USF: Danny Shelton was traded to the New England Patriots this offseason, so the Browns will get more defensive line talent through the draft.

206. PHI: Michael Dickson, P, Texas: Longtime Eagles punter Donnie Jones retired following the Super Bowl victory, so getting one of the top punters in college football will be an asset.

207. GB: Leon Jacobs, LB, Wisconsin: The Packers love Wisconsin players, and Jacobs fills a need at depth linebacker.

208. DAL: Chris Jones, CB, Nebraska: Dallas will take the risk on the injury prone Jones, who has loads of potential.

209. MIA(LAR via KC): Nic Shimonek, QB, Texas Tech: Ryan Tannehill may not be the long-term answer, but the Dolphins can’t afford to spend a decent pick on QB.

210. NE (via OAK): Jaylen Samuels, FB, North Carolina State: Bill Belichick loves players from North Carolina State and getting an offensive weapon in Samuels fills a need.

211. HOU: Daniel Carlson, K, Auburn: Houston needs a proven kicker for the future.

212. OAK: K.C. McDermott, OT, Miami (FL): The Raiders lack depth on their offensive line, and McDermott provides upside.

213. MIN: Danny Johnson, CB, Southern: Terence Newman is as old as time and will need to be replaced soon, and Johnson has loads of potential coming from a small school.

214. HOU: Da’Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama: Hand never lived up to his potential, and having hard workers like J.J. Watt and Tyrann Mathieu on this defense will hopefully extract Hand’s potential.

215. BAL: Janarion Grant, WR, Rutgers: Grant has great return ability, which Baltimore is in dire need of.

216. OAK: John Atkins, DT, Georgia: Oakland adds depth to their defensive line with the addition of Atkins.

217. OAK: Will Dissly, TE, Washington: The Raiders released Clive Walford this offseason, and Jon Gruden will try and find a new depth tight end.

218. MIN: Eddy Pineiro, K, Florida: Minnesota will look for an upgrade at kicker.

Round Seven 

219. NE(CLE): Deion Harris, CB, North Dakota: New England will try and get another corner sometime in the draft.

220. PIT(NYG): Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee State: James provides solid depth at receiver.

221. IND: Justin Lawler, DE, SMU: Adding some edge rusher depth is needed in Indianapolis.  

222. HOU: Jordan Akins, TE, UCF: C.J. Fiedorowicz retired this offseason, and Akins is the best option at tight end.

223. SF(MIA via TB): Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M: Drafting Watts in the seventh round is exceptional value, and John Lynch will jump at the chance to get him.

224. CHI: Cole Madison, G, Washington State: Chicago will look to add some quality offensive line help in the later rounds.

225. MIN(DEN): James Looney, DT, California: Minnesota needs some defensive line depth behind Linval Joseph and Sheldon Richardson.

California defensive tackle James Looney.

226. SEA(NYJ): Nyles Morgan, LB, Notre Dame: Seattle will look to add depth at linebacker, and Morgan will fit into their defense nicely.

227. MIA(SF): Taylor Hearn, G, Clemson: The Dolphins need more competition in their interior offensive line.

228. OAK: Godwin Igwebuike, S, Northwestern: The Raiders lack quality depth at safety.

229. MIA: Adam Breneman, TE, Massachusetts: The Dolphins released Julius Thomas, and Breneman provides some upside.

230. JAX(CIN): Maea Teuhema, G, SE Lousina: The Jags signed Andrew Norwell to a massive contract, but their guard play is subpar besides him.

231. WAS: Josh Frazier, DT, Alabama: Washington lacks a big run stuffer, and Frazier could join former Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen.

232. GB: Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State: Green Bay lacks depth at receiver, at Wieneke provides some upside.

233. KC(AZ): Steven Mitchell, WR, USC: Making sure Patrick Mahomes has a lot of weapons is crucial for his development.

234. CAR(BUF via LAC): Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma: The Panthers are pretty bare at corner, so they’ll try and add some quality pieces.

235. NYJ(SEA): Timon Parris, OT, Stony Brook: New York needs more depth at offensive line, and Parris’ small school pedigree could make him a sleeper.

236. DAL: Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh: Dallas is bare at safety, so they’ll need to double-dip at this position.

237. DET: Troy Apke, S, Penn State: Detroit will look to beef up their secondary in the later rounds.

238. BAL: Bradley Bozeman, C, Alabama: Ryan Jensen left in free agency, and GM Ozzie Newsome would love to end his final draft with an Alabama product.

239. GB(BUF): John Kelly, RB, Tennessee: This would be an absolute steal, and Green Bay could look to add depth in running back.

240. SF(KC): Justin Jones, DT, North Carolina State: The 49ers’ defensive line is stacked and young, but they need depth, and Jones is the best available.

241. WAS(LAR): Coleman Shelton, C, Washington: Washington needs some competition in the interior offensive line.

242. CAR: Justin Crawford, RB, West Virginia: Christian McCaffrey is about to take the reigns in the running back room, but he needs someone behind him to do the heavy lifting.

243. KC(TEN): Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Clemson: The Chiefs released Derrick Johnson this offseason, and although O’Daniel won’t be Johnson, they’ll need an instinctual linebacker f0r the future.

244. ATL: Toby Weathersby, OT, LSU: Weathersby is a natural right tackle, which the Falcons need for depth.

245. NO: Trey Quinn, QB, SMU: New Orleans needs depth at receiver, and Quinn is an intriguing prospect.

246. PIT: Ito Smith, RB, Southern Mississippi: James Conner is decent, but Smith can compete for playing reps.

247. JAX: Michael Joseph, CB, Dubuque: Aaron Colvin is now a Houston Texan, so Joseph could potentially compete for being a nickel back.

248. SEA(MIN): Lavon Coleman, RB, Washington: Seattle is shaky at running back, so they’ll look to add a running back in Coleman.

249. CIN: Azeem Victor, LB, Washington: Cincinnati will look to add multiple linebackers to replenish their aging roster.

250. PHI(SEA via NE via SEA via PHI): Dane Cruikshank, S, Arizona: Philadelphia could look to add some safety depth in the late part of the draft.

Arizona safety Dane Cruikshank.

251. LAC: Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan: Antonio Gates will likely retire soon, and Hunter Henry isn’t the bona fide number two tight end, so Conklin could give him a run for his money.

252. CIN: Byron Pringle, WR, Kansas State: Pringle is a sleeper talent and could work in Marvin Lewis’ system.

253. CIN: Ade Aruna, DE, Tulane: Aruna is an athletic freak and is great value late in the seventh round.

254. AZ: Sam Jones, G, Arizona State: Jacob Pugh got massively overpaid, but the Cardinals still need some quality depth.

255. TB: Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah: Chris Baker is now a Cincinnati Bengal, and Lotulelei has pro pedigree.

256. ATL: Quadree Henderson, WR, Pittsburgh: It’s hard to predict who Mr. Irrelevant will be, but for now, it’s this guy.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Quadree Henderson.

2018 NFL Draft: FAQs

What are some of the most commonly talked about topics about the 2018 NFL Draft? Daniel and Harun address some of the top headlines as we inch closer to draft night:

 

Why are teams so high on Josh Allen? – Daniel

Josh Allen is a physical specimen and there is no argument about that. The issue with Allen is that his mental processing, pocket presence, and accuracy is not good right now. When Mel Kiper and others talk about drafting Allen on projection, this is not entirely accurate. Team’s take projection and upside well into account when scouting prospects, but especially at the quarterback position, current NFL readiness is also a significant factor. Allen checks off every box in the upside category, but is very lacking in the current readiness department. This leads to a lot of the confusion between the draft community and Allen’s draft stock.

 

Why the Baker Mayfield-Johnny Manziel comparisons don’t make sense. – Harun

One of the hot topics throughout this draft cycle are comparisons between Baker Mayfield and Johnny Manziel. The Manziel-Mayfield comparisons start with:

  • Undersized
  • Operated in a spread offense in college
  • Off-field issues of some sort

And the comparison just about stops there. Manziel had a pattern of erratic behavior and even arrived drunk to a December 2015 Browns practice. Mayfield’s only “incident” that took place was a one time thing (resisting arrest, intoxication, disorderly conduct) is well renowned for his leadership skills. He has NFL-caliber arm strength, anticipation, and accuracy to all levels of the field the Manziel lacked. Johnny Football was quite a bit reliant on receivers, in particular Mike Evans, to bail him out on bad decisions. He had a tendency to take off out of the pocket once his first read was blanketed and struggled to play within structure. Mayfield isn’t at all similar in this regard. He’s able to play at a high level in the pocket and is much better at scanning the field looking for open targets. So while the basis for comparison between the two is present in some ways, the necessary skills they possess (or in Manziel’s case, lack) in translating to the NFL couldn’t be more different.

 

Is Lamar Jackson’s decision to not hire an agent hurting him? – Daniel

Any answer to this question in uncertain given that I am not on the staff of an NFL team, but if I had to guess, I would have to guess no. This should not at all affect Jackson’s ability communicate with teams and as there is very little room for negotiation in rookie contracts, it is unlikely to hurt him from that standpoint. My best guess would be that these reports are coming from two places: 1. Jackson actively avoiding teams scouting him as a non-quarterback prospect (if such teams exist) and 2. People in the media helping their agent friends which there have been proven connections with.

 

Is this is a bad receiving class? – Daniel

This receiving class is an intriguing one in that it doesn’t have any top tier prospects, leading to frequent remarks calling this a bad class. This class is not bad in my opinion because what it lacks in top talent it makes up for in depth and variety. There are all types of receivers in this class from the sure-handed Christian Kirk to the explosive yac DJ Moore, to the polished vet Calvin Ridley to the undersized beast Anthony Miller to the prototypical Equanimeous St. Brown. All these and more bring their own unique twists to the position and have major strengths and weaknesses, but in all likelihood with the sheer number of talented guys, there will be some good receivers from this class.

 

To take a running back in the first round or not to take a running back in the first round? – Daniel

This is a question that frequently gets draft analysts into philosophical debates on the running back position. The true answer isn’t very simple at all. Running backs are heavily reliant on their offensive line for success, but a bad running back behind a great line can only do so much. A lot of this depends on a team’s individual situation in determining the value a running back can bring to their team relative to other prospects. A Saquon Barkley for example provides a tremendous value for the Browns and would be worth one of their top 5 picks. Barkley can provide running and receiving value and be the Brown’s young quarterback’s best friend. The Browns have the offensive line for Barkley to be successful running the ball as well. Barkley might not be worth taking for the Colts at 6 for example with a bad offensive line.

 

The EDGE rusher class – Harun

The top of the edge rusher class has been dominated by talk of nearly consensus #1 EDGE Bradley Chubb and what he can do at the next level. However, the dominant Combine showing of Harold Landry put him back into the conversation as the draft’s premier pass rushing talent. His tape in 2016 was arguably better than the film any other EDGE as he showed innate technique and ability to win around the edge with burst and bend. The same could be said for Arden Key, who also put up big sack numbers last season. He displayed a tremendous explosion and pass rushing skills in 2016 and was much improved as a run defender this past season. His absence from the LSU team over the offseason is obviously a red flag, as are some of the injuries he’s suffered over the course of the year. But he could still go late in the first round if teams believe they can get it together with Key and get him to play well at a more consistent rate. Marcus Davenport emerged out of nowhere late in 2017 as a potential top 10 pick and has some of the highest upside of any prospect in this draft class. He’s very lengthy, powerful, and athletic but has an incredibly basic approach as a pass rusher. Davenport should go in the 1st round with his skill set with the hopes of being molded into the star he’s capable of being. And rounding out the top guys, former #1 recruit Josh Sweat is all of a sudden viewed as a potential late 1st round pick, after lighting up the Combine with an electric 40 yard dash, looking fluid on field drills, and came away with clean medicals. His tape is also quite impressive, and I think he’s arguably the best player at the position in the draft.

After the first few guys, including sleepers Duke Ejiofor and Hercules Mata’afa, the EDGE talent drops off significantly with players like Sam Hubbard, Jeff Holland, and Chad Thomas.

 

Overall impressions on the class – Daniel

For me this class is a great class, but there is a bit of a gap in talent between my top 3 prospects in Lamar Jackson, Quenton Nelson, and Saquon Barkley and the rest of the class. This works out fine with the draft thought because since the quarterback class is so strong, quarterbacks flying off the board in the top 10-15 will allow for teams to not have to reach on lesser talents in that range. This class also has incredible depth at nearly every position aside from EDGE and also has pretty good top talent at all the positions. Some teams may want to maneuver around the draft to maximize their pick value to fill their team needs.

 

Most underrated players

-Daniel: Jessie Bates III, Derrius Guice, Duke Ejiofor, Lamar Jackson, Harold Landry, Anthony Miller, Dante Pettis, Equanimeous St. Brown, Will Hernandez, Cam Serigne

Harun: Deontay Burnett, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Jessie Bates III, Dante Pettis, Duke Ejiofor, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Breeland Speaks, Duke Dawson Jr., Frank Ginda

 

Most overrated players

-Daniel: Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Bradley Chubb, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Denzel Ward, DJ Moore, Marcus Davenport, Justin Reid, Sony Michel

-Harun: Josh Allen, Bradley Chubb, Marcus Davenport, Rashaad Penny, Denzel Ward, Taven Bryan, Hayden Hurst, Maurice Hurst Jr.

Bold Predictions and Guarantees in the 2018 NFL Draft

Bold Predictions and Guarantees in the 2018 NFL Draft

With mock drafts and draft rumours being released every which way, one thing is for certain: the 2018 NFL Draft is so close you can almost touch it.

Today, we’ll talk about some bold predictions and some guarantees within this 2018 NFL Draft.

Guarantee: There will be no tight ends drafted in the first round. 

Last year’s draft was an enigma. Three tight ends going in the first round is virtually unheard of, so don’t expect that to happen. This year, there’s a group of quality tight ends, but I would not draft any in the first round. The top four tight ends, Hayden Hurst, Mike Gesicki, Mark Andrews and Dallas Goedert will all go in the second round.

South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst.

Bold Prediction: Baker Mayfield falls to the Chargers.

Not many people see this coming, but who saw Johnny Manziel or Aaron Rodgers slipping in the draft? Baker Mayfield has loads of talent, but his character concerns will scare teams to want to invest in him. Mayfield can play behind Philip Rivers, who’s also a fiery, vocal quarterback.

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield.

Guarantee: Josh Rosen will play in the state of New York (or New Jersey).

I have Rosen going to the Jets, but the Giants could make him the heir to Eli Manning’s throne. A dark horse team to select the UCLA quarterback is the Buffalo Bills, who are apparently interested in him. Nonetheless, Rosen will play in a New York state-based team.

UCLA QB Josh Rosen.

Bold Prediction: Will Hernandez will be a top 16 pick. 

NFL Draft scouts have been raving about Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson since the start of the draft process, but he’s not the only remarkable guard. UTEP guard Will Hernandez is a stout run and pass blocker who is an athletic freak. The Baltimore Ravens, who hold the 16th overall selection, could select Hernandez to build up their interior offensive line.

UTEP guard Will Hernandez.

Guarantee: There will be more safeties drafted in the first round than cornerbacks. 

Wait, what? Cornerbacks have historically came at a premium in the first round, while safeties are an afterthought. This year, however, the safety class is top tier and the cornerback class is lacking in first round talent. Safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick, Derwin James, Ronnie Harrison and Justin Reid will outnumber the cornerbacks. The cornerbacks selected in the first round will be Denzel Ward, Josh Jackson and Donte Jackson, according to my latest mock draft. Could this be the new trend in future NFL Drafts?

Florida State safety Derwin James after a play.

 

Bold Prediction: Mike McGlinchey will be a top 10 pick. 

This year’s offensive tackle class is historically not great, but still better than last year’s class. Last year, Utah offensive tackle Garett Bolles was selected 20th overall by the Broncos, which was the first tackle selected in that draft. McGlinchey is much better than Bolles, and a lot of teams are in need of a tackle. In my mock draft, I have McGlinchey going to the Oakland Raiders with the 10th pick.

Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey.

 

Guarantee: Lamar Jackson will get drafted before Baker Mayfield. 

Wouldn’t this be interesting? If a team selects Jackson, they’ll need to transform their offense around him, but his attitude and willingness to learn is so much greater than Mayfield’s that someone is bound to fall in love with him. I have the Arizona Cardinals selecting Lamar Jackson with the 15th pick.

Louisville QB Lamar Jackson.

Bold Prediction: Six QBs will be selected in the first round. 

Rarely does this happen, but this could be the year it happens. The big four QB names often going in the first round are Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield. However, the two wildcards in Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph could very well go in the first round as well. Hey, it could happen.

Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph.