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.

Way too Early Prediction for the NY Giants 2018 Season

As a New York Giants fan, I am extremely confident in the new regime of Pat Shurmur and Dave Gettleman.  I believe they will eventually lead this team in the right direction, and possibly to Super Bowls.  However, they key word there is eventually, as I have never been so pessimistic entering a Giants season.  This is partially due to the Giants disastrous season last year, but it also has to do with what should be a brutal schedule for New York.  7 out of the 16 games are against playoffs teams from 2017, and many others are against teams on the rise.  It also doesn’t help that the Giants don’t have a single homestand on the schedule.  So now that it’s been released, here’s my walkthrough of the Giants schedule.

Week 1: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1:00 PM)

It’s Tom Coughlin’s homecoming, and already the Giants schedule is tough.  The revamped o-line will have a tough task stopping Jacksonville’s elite defense, and Odell Beckham vs. Jalen Ramsey should be a super fun matchup.  On defense, the Giants could help secure a win if Blake Bortles makes mistakes.  However, I don’t see the Giants winning this one. (Record: 0-1)

Week 2: @ Dallas Cowboys (8:20 PM, SNF)

The Giants and Eli Manning have been historically good at Dallas.  They didn’t win last year, but they stunk last year.  The Cowboys will attempt to bounce back after having Zeke suspended in 2017, and I suspect they’ll make this game close.  But I think the Giants will take the W here. (Record: 1-1)

Week 3: @ Houston Texans (1:00 PM)

The Giants will be facing another Texas team getting their star player back.  The Texans have a talented, yet injury-prone defense.  By Week 3 though, everyone should still be healthy, including QB Deshaun Watson.  If this game was later in the season, I think the Giants would win it.  However, I don’t see them winning it here. (Record: 1-2)

Week 4: vs. New Orleans Saints (4:25 PM)

The Saints were a Marcus Williams tackle away from the NFC Championship last year, and their roster’s talent is undeniable.  If this was in the Superdome, I would definitely mark this down as an L.  However, I trust the Giants to win this one. (Record: 2-2)

Week 5: @ Carolina Panthers (1:00 PM)

Dave Gettleman’s new squad will play his old squad, and though Carolina made the playoffs last year, I think this is a winnable game for the Giants.  Cam Newton battled with inconsistencies in 2017, and Carolina also lost All Pro guard Andrew Norwell.  The Panthers are still a talented team, but I think the Giants will win a close one. (Record: 3-2)

Week 6: vs. Philadelphia Eagles (8:20 PM, SNF)

Since 2010, the Giants have been 15-22 in primetime slots and 4-12 against the Eagles.  History repeats itself, this is a loss.  Especially against such a talented Eagles team. (Record: 3-3)

Week 7: @ Atlanta Falcons (8:15 PM, MNF)

I don’t trust the Giants defense against such a talented offense, even if said offense stalled a bit from their stellar 2016 performance.  Primetime road games are not a good recipe for the Giants. (Record: 3-4)

Week 8: vs. Washington Redskins (1:00 PM)

The Redskins went from Kirk Cousins to Alex Smith at QB, and so I’m not sure exactly what they’re doing.  Washington seems like a mediocre team, and the Giants often beat them at home (they even did it in last year’s disastrous season). (Record: 4-4)

Week 9: BYE

A lot of the Giants schedule doesn’t work in their favor, but they at least got a good bye week.  Often times, teams get screwed over by a Week 4 or Week 12 bye, but the Giants get one right in the middle of the year.

Week 10: @ San Francisco 49ers (8:15 PM, ESPN)

The NFL has embraced the Garoppolo/Shanahan/Lynch trifecta, as this is only one of San Francisco’s 5 primetime games this season.  Compare that to last year, where San Fran had a grand total of 1 primetime matchup.  I think this is a winnable game, as I’m not so sure Jimmy G and this young San Francisco team is ready for the bright lights.  However, I will give the slight edge to the Niners. (Record: 4-5)

Week 11: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1:00 PM)

The Bucs had a disappointing season last year.  Perhaps this is the year that Jameis Winston and the Bucs finally get back to the playoffs after a decade-long drought.  However, Tampa probably should’ve fired Dirk Koetter in my opinion, as I don’t think he’s the guy to lead this team to success.  While I like the additions of Vinny Curry and JPP on the d-line, I see the Giants taking this game at home. (Record: 5-5)

Week 12: @ Philadelphia Eagles (1:00 PM)

It’s a pivotal game for the Giants if they do happen to be 5-5 at this point.  Will they sink below .500, or go a game above it?  It’s the Eagles, so they’ll probably sink. (Record: 5-6)

Week 13: vs. Chicago Bears (1:00 PM)

The Mitch Trubisky-led Bears should surely see some improvement under new coach Matt Nagy.  Heck, they may even repeat the success story of the 2017 Rams.  However, I don’t quite see them stacking up to the Giants here. (Record: 6-6)

Week 14: @ Washington Redskins (1:00 PM)

The Skins will get revenge on the Giants in this game, as the Giants will have to travel to Fed-Ex Field here. (Record: 6-7)

Week 15: vs. Tennessee Titans (1:00 PM)

The Titans are a very talented team that could be vying for a playoff spot at this point.  Marcus Mariota, Derrick Henry, and Corey Davis could truly break out this season.  However, I see the Giants managing to hold onto this game with their home-field advantage. (Record: 7-7)

Week 16: @ Indianapolis Colts (1:00 PM)

The Colts trading down for a bunch of 2nd round picks was a very smart move by GM Chris Ballard, and a sure sign that Indy will be good… in 2-3 years.  Giants win. (Record: 8-7)

Week 17: vs. Dallas Cowboys (1:00 PM)

The Eagles will have probably locked up the NFC East by now (let’s be honest here), but Dallas could still be going for a playoff spot, too.  And so I have the Giants close out the year with a loss. (Record: 8-8)

Overall, I think there’s nowhere to go but up for the 2018 Giants.  I said the same thing about the Browns of last year, and they went from 1-15 to 0-16.  But the Giants are a much prouder franchise than the Browns, and I think they’ll at least make it to .500 this year.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the Giants could very well make it back to the playoffs.  But to me, competing in this tough NFC will not do New York any favors.  So if I had anything to say to the Giants, it would be this: Prove me wrong.

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.

Three Draft Sleepers at Every Position: Defensive Tackle

Three Draft Sleepers at Every Position: Defensive Tackle

The defensive tackle position has been tremendously undervalued in recent years. Remember when Andrew Billings slipped in the fourth round a few years ago? During the present day, however, players like Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox are wreaking havoc on a weekly basis. Although I’m not suggesting that any of the players listed in this article will be as good as Donald or Cox, they could still be serviceable defensive tackles at the next level.

 

Kendrick Norton, Miami (FL)

As I was watching Norton’s tape, he reminded me of a throwback player who will punch you in the mouth. He’s got some feisty in him and can play in different sub-packages on the defensive line.

Projected Round: 5th Round

Projected Team: Carolina Panthers

Norton embodies the “Keep Pounding” mantra. Star Lotulelei signed with the Buffalo Bills this offseason, so they’ll need to fill in some depth at the defensive tackle position in this year’s draft.

Miami (FL) defensive tackle Kendrick Norton.

Poona Ford, Texas

I’m surprised that people are not talking about Ford, considering he had a decent Senior Bowl and he was a space eater at his time in Texas. He’s a prototypical nose tackle, but he’s athletic enough to play in a 4-3 defense.

Projected Round: 4th Round

Projected Team: Chicago Bears

Chicago has an underrated defensive line, but they need to add depth and competition at the defensive tackle position. Is Eddie Goldman the best the Bears could do? Ford can compete for starting snaps day one.

Texas defensive tackle Poona Ford.

Bilal Nichols, Delaware

Every year, there’s a handful of small-school defensive tackles that get some buzz. This year, Fort Hays State Nathan Shepherd is that guy, but Bilal Nichols is the true under the radar prospect in this draft. He’s athletic and a dominant force at the small-school ranks, and it should translate in the NFL.

Project Round: 6th Round

Projected Team: Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have a bunch of needs, but the defensive tackle position is one that they need more competition, rather than an immediate upgrade. Hassan Ridgeway and Grover Stewart are underwhelming, and they’ll need someone like Nichols to push them further.

Delaware defensive tackle Bilal Nichols.

Nick’s Picks: 2018 NFL Draft 8.0

The 2018 NFL Draft is almost here and everyone’s mock is becoming finalized. With so little time left, the rumours are coming in and it’s up to the fans on how to interpret them. With that being said, let’s jump into the 8.0 version of Nick’s Picks. 

1. CLE: Sam Darnold, QB, USC: I don’t buy these Josh Allen smokescreens. Darnold is the runaway number one pick.

2. NYG: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: I’ve really struggled with this pick, but Giants GM Dave Gettleman said that if you’re picking this high, it better be a Hall of Famer. Barkley is the pick.

3. NYJ(IND): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: The Jets breathe a sigh of relief that they get their guy. Rosen can handle the Big Apple and will fortify the struggling New York Jets.

UCLA QB Josh Rosen.

4. CLE(HOU): Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State: Do you know what the good teams do in this league? They stockpile talent. Yes, they have Garrett, but you need to rush the passer on both sides, so Chubb goes to The Land.

5. DEN: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame: This is a coin-flip, but I think the Broncos are invested in Case Keenum. So, to help him succeed, GM John Elway will give him an outstanding guard in Nelson.

6. IND(NYJ): Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech: The linebackers in this draft are very top-heavy, so GM Chris Ballard will try and nab a solid linebacker in Edmunds with their first round pick.

7. TB: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama: Tampa needs some versatility in their secondary. Fitzpatrick is a lock at this pick.

8. CHI: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia: I’m sure the Bears would like to select Edmunds, but Smith personifies the Chicago Bears better. Plus, he can join his former teammate Leonard Floyd on this ascending defense.

9. SF: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: Richard Sherman will likely be the first cornerback on the depth chart, but Ward will become probably the best pairing Sherman’s ever had at the second corner position.

10. OAK: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame: Donald Penn is solid, but old. Their right tackle position is shaky, so selecting McGlinchey will be an important one as Jon Gruden’s first pick in a decade.

11. MIA: Vita Vea, DT, Washington: Ndamukong Suh was a cap casualty and is off to Los Angeles, so Vea could be his replacement. Vea is bigger than Suh and can play both as a 4-3 defensive tackle and as a nose tackle.

12. BUF(CIN): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: I’m not sold on Allen, but Buffalo will fall in love with his size and ability to throw in the wind.

13. WAS: Derwin James, S, Florida State: Washington can’t pass up on James at this pick, since this is the best prospect at this point in the draft. Also, it fills a need.

Florida State safety Derwin James after a play.

14. GB: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: Jordy Nelson was released and is now an Oakland Raider, and Randall Cobb and Davante Adams are good, but not elite. Ridley can solidify himself as a number one or two option for Aaron Rodgers.

15. AZ: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: Lamar over Baker? I believe Mayfield will have a Manziel-esque slide in the draft, but not too far. Also, Jackson can reinvigorate this offense and learn some fundamental passing skills from Sam Bradford.

16. BAL: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP: I don’t see many people having this, but trust me, teams like Hernandez more than you think. Marshal Yanda is old and their interior offensive line is now in shambles with Ryan Jensen going to Tampa Bay.

17. LAC: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: I think the Chargers is the best fit for Mayfield. Rivers is getting old and can be a good mentor for a fiery Mayfield. This could be an interesting Favre-Rodgers scenario.

18. SEA: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa: Richard Sherman is now with the division-rival San Francisco 49ers, so they’ll need a number one corner. Jackson is Seattle’s best option at this point in the draft.

19. DAL: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama: The Cowboys are in desperate need for a safety, and Harrison just screams “America’s Team.” The draft is in Dallas this year, so it’s important to make a big splash.

20. DET: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: The Lions need a running game for the first time in forever. Guice is their best available option.

21. CIN(BUF): James Daniels, C, Iowa: The Bengals’ offensive line is in shambles, but I think if they add a few linemen, the Bengals can have a decent 2018 campaign.

22. BUF: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia: The Bills had a solid offensive line last year, but they lost Eric Wood to retirement, Richie Incognito to retirement, but then asking for his release to play again, and Cordy Glenn to a trade with the Bengals. Wynn is versatile and can be a starter day one.

23. NE(LAR): Harold Landry, DE, Boston College: New England needs a pass rusher, since they essentially lost the Super Bowl because of a lack of pass rush. The Pats select Landry so they can grow some homegrown talent.

Boston College DE Harold Landry.

24. CAR: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU: If you look at the Carolina Panthers receiving corps, you’ll realize how scarce they are. Sutton can become Newton’s number one receiver and develop some chemistry.

25. TEN: Justin Reid, S, Stanford: I’ve had this mocked for a while and I’m locking this in. The Titans will want to create a new Legion of Boom and to compete with the solid receiving corps in the AFC South.

26. ATL: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama: The Falcons have few needs and will be the beneficiary of Payne slipping in the draft. With Dontari Poe off to Carolina, they’ll need to replace him.

27. NO: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA: This is a bit of a slide, but Davenport isn’t very polished but has good size and strength. Cam Jordan and Davenport can become a lethal pass rushing duo.

28. PIT: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State: Six quarterbacks in the first round? It could happen. Although Rudolph needs work, Roethlisberger can mentor him and once Big Ben finally retires, Rudolph can become the starter.

29. JAX: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma: Brown had a terrible combine, but the tape doesn’t lie: this guy can play. Cam Robinson played decent last season, but the right tackle position is weary and Brown could be a plug-in-play in Duval County.

30. MIN: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU: Trae Waynes has been a bust and the Vikings need a corner opposite Xavier Rhodes. Jackson is athletic and can be a bona fide number two corner.

31. NE: Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh: Nate Solder has left for the Giants, and they need a starting left tackle to keep Tom Brady upright. O’Neill is athletic and versatile, which Belichick loves in his players.

32. PHI: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado: Patrick Robinson left for New Orleans and Daryl Worley was released following an arrest. Oliver can compete for starting snaps and can make this a competitive position on the roster.

Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver.

Tune in on April 23 for the seven round mock draft, which is the final version of Nick’s Picks.

Three Draft Sleepers at Every Position: Edge Rusher

Three Draft Sleepers at Every Position: Edge Rusher

Ask any NFL GM what the three most important positions are, and they’ll say: quarterback, left tackle, and edge rusher. Disrupting the entire offense is the edge rusher’s job. It’s an important one, no doubt, and few can do it at an elite level.

There have been some notable steals at the edge rusher position in NFL history. Some examples include: Justin Houston, taken in the third round; Robert Mathis, taking in the fifth round; and who could forget Cameron Wake, who went undrafted and played in the CFL before terrorizing the NFL?

So, in the 2018 NFL Draft class, who are some sleepers who could emerge as steals at the edge rusher position?

Joe Ostman, Central Michigan

If any teams need someone who has that lunch-pail mentality, Joe Ostman is your guy. He’s a hard-working, weight room machine who racks up a ton of sacks. As a redshirt junior, he collected nine sacks. In his senior season, he produced fourteen sacks, which was in the top five in college football.

Projected Round: 6th Round

Projected Team: Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City released Tamba Hali this offseason, and they need another sack production artist. Ostman will fit well in the Chiefs’ system, and his blue-collar mentality will fit in Kansas City.

Central Michigan DE Joe Ostman.

Marcell Frazier, Missouri

Missouri is known for it’s solid pass rushers, with players like Sheldon Richardson, Shane Ray and Markus Golden having respectable NFL careers. Marcell Frazier could join them in that conversation. He’s active in both the run and the pass game and is a true sleeper in this year’s draft.

Projected Round: 4th Round

Projected Team: Buffalo Bills

Buffalo needs some youth in their front seven. Shaq Lawson hasn’t lived up to the hype and there’s no one else on the roster screams “I am the future.” Frazier can come in and compete for some solid snaps.

Missouri DE Marcell Frazier.

Kemoko Turay, Rutgers

I often think that the word “raw” is an inaccurate assessment of most prospects. However, Turay is the exception. He’s an amazing athlete but needs to be fine-tuned to become a great player.

Projected Round: 4th Round

Projected Team: New England Patriots

What makes Bill Belichick one of the great NFL coaches is that he learns from past experiences. In the AFC Championship game, Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue was disruptive and symbolizes a new wave of skinnier, athletic edge rushers. Also, Belichick loves Rutgers prospects, so this seems like a good fit.

Rutgers DE Kemoko Turay.