Nick’s Picks: 2019 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

Welcome back to Nick’s Picks. With the divisional round done and over with, the draft order has been updated. With each week that goes by, prospects’ draft stock are in constant flux, so look for some inconsistencies in where prospects are put in the draft.

1. AZ: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

New week, same pick. Yes, with Kyler Murray declaring for the NFL Draft and Kliff Kingsbury’s documented interest in the Oklahoma QB, it could be possible the Cardinals take him. However, for this mock draft, I have them taking Bosa.

2. SF: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

I have been skeptical on putting Williams here, but I think the 49ers will look at what the Rams have in Aaron Donald and see how critical defensive tackles are in the modern NFL.

3. NYJ: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

The first order of business for new head coach Adam Gase: protect Sam Darnold. Williams is a great offensive line prospect and can help both the run and pass game.

4. OAK: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Looks like Kyler plays in Oakland after all! (Assuming they don’t move to Vegas next season). I think Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock will look to move Derek Carr and start fresh with the Heisman trophy winner.

5. TB: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky

The Bucs are so deprived of talent that they need to get the best player available. Allen could play at the edge position or as an outside linebacker, and I’m sure Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles will extrapolate the most out of him.

6. NYG: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

This is the second week where I have Haskins going to the G-Men, and it’s looking more and more likely. Manning needs to depart before his entire reputation is tarnished.

7. JAX: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

In last week’s mock, I had the Jags taking a receiver, but I’d like to see how the mock draft shakes out with them taking a QB. Lock could be a nice fit in Duval County.

8. DET: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

Man, I love this fit. The Lions are so desperate for a receiving threat for Stafford and Metcalf is among the best big body receivers in the draft.

9. BUF: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

Josh Allen missed a decent amount of games this year due to injury. In order for the Bills to have success moving forward, protecting their quarterback is essential.

10. DEN: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

The Demariyus Thomas + Emmanuel Sanders duo was nice while it lasted. Now, with Thomas gone and Sanders coming back from injury, the Broncos need a new receiving duo. Courtland Sutton and N’Keal Harry could very well be the newest tandem to rock the AFC West.

11. CIN: Devin White, LB, LSU

The Bengals can go so many different directions with this pick, but their defence was historically bad this season. White brings attitude and would become an immediate starter for Cincy.

12. GB: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

What a steal this would be if it comes into fruition. Ferrell is a great pass rusher who brings an immediate presence to this Packers defense.

13. MIA: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

Oliver slips a little bit, but I think the Dolphins will find a lot of value in replacing what they miss in Ndamukong Suh.

14. ATL: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

I didn’t have Wilkins going in the first round in my previous mock draft, but his national championship performance and his above and beyond football personality will make teams fall in love with him. Wilkins can either replace or play alongside Grady Jarrett and fortify this defence.

15. WAS: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

I still can’t believe that Washington released D.J. Swearinger. I liked the move to trade for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but who knows if he re-signs with them. Thompson acts as a nice insurance policy (also, he’s an Alabama defender, which seems to be a trend for this team).

16. CAR: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

Byron Murphy is shooting up draft boards, but I don’t see the cornerbacks in this draft going too high in this draft. Murphy will be a nice edition to a cornerback group with includes Donte Jackson and James Bradberry.

17. CLE: Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State

The Browns are pointing in the right direction, but protection was a bit of an issue for them in 2018. Risner can become the franchise left tackle for years to come.

18. MIN: Cody Ford, G, Oklahoma

The main thing Minnesota needs to focus on is protecting Kirk Cousins and giving holes for Dalvin Cook. Oklahoma’s Cody Ford can make Cousins’ crazy deal look like it was worth it.

19. TEN: Rashan Gary, DT, Michigan

I don’t see Gary going super high in the first round due to his size and his lack of production, but his potential is through the roof. With Jurell Casey getting older, Gary can slide in and be a new face on this defensive line.

20. PIT: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Wow, what a slip for Greedy Williams. The Steelers need some better quality defenders, and Williams is arguably the top corner in this year’s draft.

21. SEA: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

The Seahawks surprised many by getting into the playoffs, but they still need to protect Russell Wilson. By the way, it seems like this is always my message every year and the Seahawks never solve this issue. Hopefully they invest in Wilson’s future is all I’m saying.

22. BAL: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

I initially had a receiver going into the first round, but would that really help the development of Lamar Jackson? He doesn’t love to throw to wide receivers, as he heavily utilizes his tight ends. So, I chose to focus on defence in this mock with this dominant DT.

23. HOU: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

Houston has a few offensive needs such as offensive line and tight end. I was tempted to pick an offensive lineman here, but Noah Fant would help Deshaun Watson progress into a top 10 QB.

24. OAK (via CHI): DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia

The Raiders have a ton of needs, and with Baker falling to 24, Oakland can have a shutdown CB for the future.

25. PHI: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida

I’m surprised Gardner-Johnson isn’t getting more first round love, but I think he’d fit perfectly in Philadelphia. By adding a safety, this youthful secondary can be lead by Gardner-Johnson and veteran Malcolm Jenkins.

26. IND: Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

Wow, the Colts surely over-performed this season. Their defence is most definitely underrated, but they could use some more interior pressure, and Simmons is among one of the best interior defensive line prospects in this year’s draft.

27. OAK (via DAL): Brian Burns, DE, Florida State

I’m convinced that the Raiders didn’t sign Khalil Mack because Mark Davis didn’t have enough money. That’s the only reason. Now, they have to settle for Brian Burns – who could be a good player, but he won’t be Khalil Mack.

28. LAC: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College

The Chargers have a really solid roster, but they struggled at guard all season long. Lindstrom is a solid guard and could start day one.

29. KC: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame

The Chiefs defence really impressed me against Indianapolis, but their cornerback play is suspect. Love can compete for the CB1 day one.

30. GB (via NO): Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

Aaron Rodgers needs more weapons and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown could be a dynamic playmaker for the Packers.

31. LAR: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama

The Rams are in good shape moving forward, but they need some improvement at linebacker. Wilson is an athletic thumper who is going to be yet another product of Nick Saban’s defence.

32. NE: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

Tom Brady won’t last forever (even though it’s looking like it). Jones can come in and learn from the GOAT and eventually be the Pats QB for the future.

Nick’s Picks will be posted weekly and draft orders will be updated.

Nick’s Picks: 2019 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

Welcome back, fans of Nick’s Picks! It’s been some time.

With the 2018 NFL Regular Season complete, 20 teams now have their draft slot solidified (unless they trade their pick). These picks are subject to change, due to the typical NFL draft nonsense (risers, fallers, Laremy Tunsil-like situations, etc). Now, let’s take a look at the 1.0 version of Nick’s Picks – 2019 edition.

1. AZ: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

Have you taken a look at the Arizona Cardinals’ depth chart? Good God, it needs work.

I contemplated putting Quinnen Williams with this pick, since the Cardinals have a decent pass rush with Chandler Jones and Markus Golden, but there’s no guarantee that Golden returns in free agency (and Bosa’s just so much better than Golden). Bosa’s the pick, and the Cardinals ought to hit a few home runs in this year’s draft.

2. SF: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky

I struggled with this pick a lot, since the best player available is Quinnen Williams, but he doesn’t fill a need. I think Devin White could be in the mix for this pick, but it’s a bit rich for my taste.

Allen is a versatile defender who can rush the passer and also play coverage. He’s a tone setter for this defence and will hopefully make John Lynch look smart.

3. NYJ: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

Maybe I’m looking at the wrong mock draft sites, but I can’t seem to find anyone who has Williams to the Jets – and I cannot understand why.

I think some believe that the Jets’ defensive line is good – it’s not bad – however, Quinnen Williams with Leonard Williams would be a nice pairing for years to come.

4. OAK: Devin White, LB, LSU 

I can’t stand looking at the Raiders’ roster. Jon Gruden has littered this roster with washed up veterans who he liked in 2008. Did you know that Leon Hall is playing for them? Unbelievable. Anyway, the Raiders need a tone setter on the defence, and Devin White is a culture changer.

5. TB: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

The Bucs are putting all their chips in with Jameis Winston, and they need to better protect him. Donovan Smith has been a disappointment throughout his career, so potentially Williams could be a franchise blind-side protector.

6. NYG: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

Eli Manning will likely start next year, but I envision a Joe Flacco – Lamar Jackson transition with Manning and Dwayne Haskins.

I still can’t believe that Justin Herbert is going back to school. But, at least Haskins can cash out on his impressive year and be the successor to the fringe Hall of Fame quarterback.

7. JAX: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

Wait, what??? Not a QB? In this scenario, I believe the Jags will realize that the QBs in this draft are not a high enough calibre to build a franchise around, so they acquire Joe Flacco on a one year prove-it deal.

Jacksonville once had a nice wide receiver duo in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, but now all they have is the underrated Keelan Cole. Harry adds a new dimension to this offence.

8. DET: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

Remember in the 2017 NFL Draft when 3 wide receivers went in the top 10? I don’t think it’ll escalate to 3, but there could be multiple.

The Lions need a weapon for Matthew Stafford. He gets a lot of flack, but I don’t think people realize what he’s working with. Metcalf brings a big body presence to the Lions’ receiving corps.

9. BUF: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

I wasn’t a big fan of the Josh Allen selection in 2018, but he looks like someone you can build around. The Bills need to revamp this offence to tailor to Allen’s strengths.

Little is a solid protector and I believe has the versatility to play left and right tackle, or even guard. He’s exactly what Allen needs, and Buffalo will recognize that.

10. DEN: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

The Broncos have quite a few needs – including quarterback – but I wouldn’t draft any QB here. Their secondary needs a playmaker, and Thompson fits this scheme well.

11. CIN: Cody Ford, G, Oklahoma

Side note: I’m shocked that I lived to see the day that Marvin Lewis was fired as Cincy’s head coach.

The Bengals need a lot of help on the offensive line, even with the draft pick of Billy Price last year. Yeah, the pick isn’t sexy, but I’ve never really attributed sexy to the Bengals anyway.

12. GB: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

This season exposed the Packers’ lack of defensive talent. The bright side of Green Bay’s defence are their corners, linebacker Blake Martinez and defensive tackle Kenny Clark – that’s about it. Ferrell brings a spark of pass rush to this struggling defence.

13. MIA: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

Ryan Tannehill looks to be out of Miami at the beginning of next season. Lock, although limited, looks to be a good leader and the best QB available. A new horizon is setting in South Beach.

14. ATL: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Some may think that Williams is a top 10 pick, and he very well could be, but I believe that there are more talented prospects that will be selected before him.

Atlanta needs some more personality on their defence. When you get someone named “Greedy”, you get some personality.

15. WAS: DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia

Josh Norman is on the decline, and there’s no one else on this team with CB1 potential. Baker is among one of the best defenders in this draft and will give stability to this rocky franchise.

16. CAR: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

I like James Bradberry and Donte Jackson, but I think they need a bona fide shut down corner.

Carolina’s defence has an odd mix of both young and old players. They must stop relying on old vets like Julius Peppers, Thomas Davis and Captain Munnerlyn and add more young players.

17. CLE: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

How did Ed Oliver slip this far into the draft? I question Oliver’s size transitioning into the NFL, and I know that some don’t care about the “jacket-gate” situation with Houston’s head coach, but I think some teams will question Oliver’s character. Cleveland selects him opposite Larry Ogunjobi.

18. MIN: Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State

It seems like a lot of people have this, and I tend to agree with the mock draft community. I didn’t like the Kirk Cousins signing, but I do think that he’d be better with more protection.

19. TEN: Rashan Gary, DT, Michigan

The Titans have a few needs, one of which is a versatile defensive lineman. Gary would be a steal at this stage of the draft and would be a nice pairing with veteran Jurell Casey.

20. PIT: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

Wow, who would have thought that the Steelers would be just shy of making the playoffs? One of the main reasons why I’m surprised is that they have a very complete roster. Perhaps having a right tackle for the future will help Ben in his final years.

21. SEA: Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

The Seahawks surprised me this year, but they need to build up their defence. Simmons is among the best defenders still available, and he’d pair up nicely with Jarran Reed in the interior of that defensive line.

22. BAL: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss

Is Lamar Jackson the future in Baltimore? I’d say yes, but he needs help at wide receiver. It’s up for debate as to who’s the best receiver available, but A.J. Brown has some nice traits and will fit well with the Ravens.

23. HOU: Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia

Deshaun Watson was fighting for his life against the Colts in the Wild Card round. If he had a bit of protection, perhaps Watson leads the Texans to victory. Houston finds a versatile lineman in Cajuste.

24. OAK (via CHI): Brian Burns, DE, Florida State 

I like the Mike Mayock hire for one reason: he knows how to evaluate talent in the draft. Burns is a nice pass rusher who probably won’t be as good as Khalil Mack, but he could emerge as a double digit sack artist.

25. PHI: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College 

Regardless on where you stand on the Nick Foles/Carson Wentz debate, it’ll be important for the Eagles to protect their QB. Their left guard position has been shaky, and Lindstrom is a plug-and-play type of player.

26. IND: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama

Darius Leonard is in contention for DROY, but the rest of the linebacking corps is suspect. Fifth rounder Anthony Walker and seventh rounder Zaire Franklin get a lot of reps currently, which could be an issue against the Chiefs. Wilson adds another athlete to this defence.

27. OAK (via DAL): Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Oakland has many options on how to build via the draft, and I think they’ll try and build their front seven. Brown is an upgrade over P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst and has a tough mentality.

28. LAC: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

Philip Rivers is having an excellent year, but how many years does he have left? Since they hardly have any needs, I think getting an intriguing QB prospect in Jones is a smart move.

29. NE: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

The end is near for the Pats. Perhaps Brady has a few more decent years left, but he needs more weapons. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is an electric playmaker who could extend TB12’s career.

30. LAR: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida

When watching the Peach Bowl this year, I was shocked by how active and productive Gardner-Johnson was against Michigan. His ascension has made him worthy of a first round grade, and the Rams could use his talents.

31. KC: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame

The loss of Marcus Peters has made Kansas City’s defence among the worst in the league. Love can be a day one starter and make the Chiefs’ secondary respectable again.

32. GB (via NO): Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State

The Packers need to help out Aaron Rodgers, one way or another. Harmon is a solid receiver who is better than everyone other than Davante Adams in the Packers’ receiving room.

Nick’s Picks will be posted weekly and draft orders will be updated.

Who are the Early Candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year?

Who are the Early Candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year?

We’re in the middle of Week 7 of the NFL regular season, and as fans, we’ve gotten to see what the rookies of our favorite teams have been able to accomplish thus far. A few weeks prior, we discussed potential offensive rookie of the year candidates, and today we talk defense.

Personally, I think the DROY race is much more fascinating than the OROY race. Why? The sheer talent on the defensive side has been impressive. I look forward to seeing the progress of these defensive studs for the remainder of their rookie year.

8. Donte Jackson, CB, Carolina Panthers 

Carolina Panthers CB Donte Jackson.

In starting five games for the Panthers, Donte Jackson has shown that he can ball out, despite his pedestrian frame of 5’10”, 180 lbs. Thus far, he’s amassed 28 tackles, a forced fumble and 3 interceptions.

To move up in the rankings, Jackson must assert himself as a ball-hawking corner. He’s tied for being the league leader in interceptions, so if he can continue this trend by finishing the season as the interception king, some voters will give him the nod.

7. Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch.

To quote Skip Bayless, the “Tackling Dutchman” has been a welcomed addition to the Cowboys’ linebacker corps. His 50 tackles on the season may not be a wildly impressive stat, but his influence on the field, as well as the fact that he plays for “America’s Team” may push him into consideration.

If Vander Esch wants to win DROY, he’ll have to collect a few sacks and prove to be a quality coverage linebacker. The trio of him, Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee will be an exciting one to watch for the rest of the season.

6. Roquan Smith, LB, Chicago Bears 

Chicago Bears LB Roquan Smith.

Like Vander Esch, Smith’s production hasn’t been stellar, but his impact has been. In his four games starting, Smith has racked up 31 tackles and 1 sack. Again, not wildly impressive, but his impact can be felt by helping other defensive standouts like Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd get to the QB through his good coverage ability.

Smith must become a more proficient and active tackler to receive DROY consideration. He must also get to the quarterback more, as 1 sack isn’t going to cut it. Regardless of the DROY race, Smith has a promising future in the Windy City.

5. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Before the draft, Fitzpatrick was labeled the “safest” prospect to select. Thus far, it’s hard to argue with that logic. His hard-working mentality has been a welcomed edition to Miami’s lax culture. Through his three games starting and his six overall games playing, the Alabama product has 37 tackles and 1 interception to his name.

Again, his presence is felt through the culture change he’s given this Dolphins squad. To receive more consideration, he’ll have to assert himself as an elite cover safety.

4. Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns 

Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward.

The highest picked defensive player in the 2018 NFL Draft ranks #4 in the DROY race (for now). Ward has had a strong start to his rookie campaign. He’s amassed 28 tackles, a forced fumble and 3 interceptions thus far.

I’d give Ward the same advice as I did Donte Jackson – assert yourself as a ball hawk. If Ward becomes the interception king and is regarded by season’s end as a top 10 corner, he should win DROY.

3. Bradley Chubb, DE, Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos DE Bradley Chubb.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a massive Bradley Chubb fan during the draft process, but I am now. He’s been as dominant as anyone, with 20 tackles and 6.5 sacks through seven games.

If Chubb wants to run away with the DROY trophy, he has to finish with 13+ sacks and show that him and Von Miller are going to be an issue in the AFC West.

2. Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard.

Is this my Colts bias talking? Potentially, but Leonard has the stats to back me up. In five games, “The Maniac” has put up 62 tackles, 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. It’s safe to say that he’s been an issue for opposing QBs.

To be DROY, Leonard just has to keep playing his best football and stay healthy. Leonard should aim to get at least one or two interceptions, as well.

1. Derwin James, S, Los Angeles Chargers 

Los Angeles Chargers S Derwin James.

Derwin James is laughing at all the teams who passed on him on draft day. Through six games, James has eclipsed 36 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 1 interception. What separates James from Leonard is his reputation of being a thumper, but it will be interesting to see who take it home.

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.