NFL Draft Recap: Day One

NFL Draft Recap: Day One

The NFL Draft is known for its unpredictability and this draft has been called one of the most mysterious drafts in recent memory. With that being said, an epic first round has finally come to a close so lets recap the moves made here on day one.

1. Cleveland Browns

Pick: QB Baker Mayfield

Opinion: Wow. Reports had surfaced over the coming days speculating that the Browns were interested in selecting Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick and I honestly did not believe they would do it. Mayfield is in my opinion the third best quarterback in this draft and though he may have potential, his attitude and issues on and off the field are a concern, but not enough for the Browns to take him off their big board as their number one ranked prospect. I think there were better and safer options out their and the risk of taking Mayfield is really high, but if you believe a player may be your guy, no matter what or where, you pick him and that is what the Browns just did.

 

2. New York Giants

Pick: RB Saquon Barkley

Opinion: Barkley has been connected to the Giants since he had declared back in January and Dave Gettleman had never once denied the possibility of selecting a running back with the second overall pick and now we see why. Barkley is a high potential player and I can describe him as a more mature version of Ezekiel Elliot. Barkley now pairs with Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., and Evan Engram as a nice tandem on offense as the Giants look to make one more run with Eli under center.

USC quarterback Sam Darnold about to throw a pass.

3. New York Jets

Pick: QB Sam Darnold

Opinion: Sam Darnold is the most NFL ready quarterback in the draft. Turnovers have been a question mark for him during his collegiate career but you can coach a player away from making mistakes. Darnold has good size, a solid arm and good pocket presence and if he could reduce the turnovers, he has the potential to not only be a winner, but finally be the franchise guy the Jets have been looking for since Joe Namath left the Jets in 1977 to sign with the Rams.

 

4. Cleveland Browns

Pick: CB Denzel Ward

Opinion: It has been long rumored that the Browns may trade the fourth overall pick but make the right decision by staying at fourth overall and selecting maybe the top corner in this draft in Denzel Ward. Though Cubb is a better player, the Browns looked at need rather than best player available and see Ward as a pro bowl talent and a day one starter. Ward is a grinder who always seems to be around the ball and will be a big upgrade to an already improved secondary

 

NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb.

5. Denver Broncos

Pick: DE Bradley Chubb

Opinion: The Broncos had Bradley Chubb fall right into their lap at 5th overall. Chubb is without a doubt the best defensive player in this draft and some may argue he is the best player in the draft overall. Chubb will play alongside All Pro linebacker Von Miller and former first round pick Shane Ray. The Broncos have officially commit to Case Keenum for at least this season with them passing up on both Josh Allen and Josh Rosen.

 

Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson.

6. Indianapolis Colts

Pick: OG Quenton Nelson

Opinion: I have Nelson as the safest pick in the 2018 draft and after years of struggling to build a decent offensive line, the Colts pick up a franchise guard with the sixth pick. Nelson has the potential to be All-Pro as a rookie and with the Colts getting their day one starter at guard at sixth overall and acquiring more draft capital after trading back from 3rd overall, this is the best overall pick in the draft.

 

Photo Credit/Sean M. Haffey, Getty Images

7. Buffalo Bills( from Tampa Bay Buccs)

*Tampa Receives picks 12, 53 and 56. The Bills also received a 7th round pick*

Pick: QB Josh Allen

Opinion: It took 6 picks, but we finally have the first trade of the night. The Bills have finally got their wish of trading into the top ten and did not have to give up both first round picks. With the 7th pick, they take Josh Allen who I think has the highest potential at the quarterback position in the draft. Allen has a canon for an arm, has the pocket presence and the size to succeed but accuracy has been the major issue with him. Allen has been compared to Carson Wentz, who has nearly the same measurables as Allen. I believe if Allen could improve his accuracy issue, he has the potential to be a Ben Roethlisberger and Tony Romo type player.

Photo Credit/Jamie Squire, Getty Images

 

8. Chicago Bears

Pick: LB Roquan Smith

Opinion: After trading up the previous two seasons, the Bears stay put at 8th overall and select Roquan Smith out of Georgia. Smith is a high touted linebacker that has the qualities to be a four down linebacker in the NFL. He has the size and the ability to be a solid producer in the NFL and has Ray Lewis like qualities. He will join a solid Bears defense who finished top 10 in the NFL last season.

 

9: San Francisco 49ers

Pick: OT Mike McGlinchey

Opinion: The 6’8 Tackle has the commitment and the passion to be a elite level tackle in the NFL. He learns from his mistakes and is the cleanest tackle in this draft. This may not be the “sexiest” pick on paper, especially since there were players like Marcus Davenport, Tremaine Edmounds, Vita Vea and Derwin James on the board, but the offensive line is the most important part of a football team after getting a quarterback. Jimmy G. gets himself a solid offensive lineman and will most likely move over to replace Joe Staley after the 2018 season.

 

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen about to complete a pass.

10. Arizona Cardinals( via Oakland Raiders)

*Raiders receive picks 15, 79, and 152

Pick: QB Josh Rosen

Opinion: Some may say that Rosen is the best pocket passer in the draft, and while he may look decent in the pocket, I am not a fan of Rosen overall and still believe that he is a 2nd round pick. He lacks mobility, makes somewhat questionable throws and his injury history in college makes him a major question mark. Not to mention his off the field issues. With all that said, Rosen still has the potential and could have a career similar to Eli Manning if he cleans up his attitude and his game(maybe not the rings but that is to be seen later).  Like the Browns, the Cardinals got their guy and hope that he will be their starter for the next ten years.

Photo Credit/www.sbnation.com

11. Miami Dolphins

Pick: DB Minkah Fitzpatrick

Opinion: I am a huge fan of Fitzpatrick. He is a lengthy player that plays with heart and has the speed to play both saftey and corner in the NFL. He reminds me a lot of Malcom Jenkins and will more than likely be used in the same way the Eagles use Jenkins. I would assume he will pair up next to Xavien Howard at corner come week one. The only concern is where he will play on the field, but as a mentioned before, I believe he could play both secondary positions at a high level and be a major upgrade for this Dolphins team that has been desperate for help.

 

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers(from Buffalo Bills)

Pick: DT Vita Vea

Opinion: Vea has been called a “more athletic version of Haloti Ngata” and that is the perfect comparison for him. He may not have the sack numbers or the super flashy statistics, but he is a fierce run stopper and will pressure the quarterback when asked. He slides in nicely on that Tampa defensive line and the Buccs drop back, add draft picks and receive a monster on the defensive line as a result. Nice job by the Tampa front office.

 

13. Washington Redskins

Pick: DT Da’Ron Payne

Opinion: Payne is a prototypical defense tackle and will now pair up with his former teammate Jonathan Allen. He is known for being one of the best run stoppers who can clog up lanes and stop anyone in his direction, but the potential for sacks is there. The Redskins really need help on that defensive-line and now add Payne who they believe will be a starter from day one.

UTSA Defensive End Marcus Davenport.

14. New Orleans Saints (from Green Bay Packers)

Pick: DE Marcus Davenport

Opinion: I love the Saints being aggressive and moving up i the draft to add the player they think would take their championship caliber team to the next level. Do not get me wrong, I love Marcus Davenport and I think he will be a good player on that team, but the Saints gave up their 2019 first round pick to select a non-quarterback at 14 and had a shot at drafting Derwin James and making a major upgrade to their secondary. Non the less, Davenport is a athletic lineman who can get to the quarterback and stop the run. He is a boom or bust type player, but I believe he has more qualities to succeed in the league than fail. The Saints add another quality piece to their defense as they look to win another title before the Drew Brees era comes to an end.

 

15. Oakland Raiders (from Arizona Cardinals)

Pick: OT Kolton Miller

Opinion: I am not a big fan of this selection. Some may say that he is the best tackle in the draft but I beg to differ. He has the intangibles to be a franchise player, but his game tape, to me, shows day two talent. The bigger thing is the fact that the Raiders have big defensive needs and had so many more talented and safer players at their selection. Yes, they have more draft picks as a result of their trade with Arizona, but you want to make a solid pick in the first round(see Tampa Bay) and the Raiders failed to do so. Raiders fans have the right to feel concerned.

The Raiders also announced that they traded a third round pick to the Steelers for wide receiver Martavis Bryant. I will be making post draft outlooks for every team in the future , but Bryant helps make up for the Raiders first round selection as he is a number one type weapon for Derek Carr.

 

16. Buffalo Bills (from Baltimore Ravens)

* Ravens receive picks 22 and 65 in this years draft. Bills also get pick 154

Pick: LB Tremaine Edmounds

Opinion: Edmounds is the youngest player in this draft. Being only 19, Edmounds is yet to completely fill up his frame and that should not be a probably once beginning an NFL training program. He was predicted to be drafted top ten, so it is a suprise that he was still on the board at 16, which led the Bills to trade up once again to get him. I rated Edmounds as the best linebacker in this draft and his ability to play in cover and his long lengthy body only adds to his athleticism. This Buffalo defense is looking extremely solid.

 

Florida State S Derwin James.

17. Los Angeles Chargers

Pick: S Derwin James

Opinion: James is an absolute steal at pick number 17. He is the best pure safety in the draft and fits the Chargers defense perfectly. His play style is similar to Eric Berry and is an absolute stud when playing cover. This pick makes the Chargers defense very nasty and continues their goal of getting  younger. He will add to a secondary that already consists of Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett, giving the Chargers a ligament chance at being a top ten, even top 5 defense in all the NFL.

 

Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander picks off a pass against Purdue.

18. Green Bay Packers (from Seattle Seahawks)

*Seattle receives picks 27, 76 and 186. Packers also get pick 248

Pick: CB Jaire Alexander

Opinion: The Packers desperately needed a cornerback after all the losses this secondary had this offseason. Not only did they acquire more draft picks to add to the 12 they had before the draft even started, they get a day one starting corner who plays with swagger and enthusiasm. He is a smooth cover corner and will hopefully not have the career Morgan Burnett had with Jay Cutler, with Mitchell Trubisky.

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – DECEMBER 16: Leighton Vander Esch #38 of the Boise State Broncos tackles quaterback Justin Herbert #10 of the Oregon Ducks during the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium on December 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Boise State won 38-28. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

19. Dallas Cowboys

Pick: LB Leighton Vander Esch

Opinion: The Cowboys are the next team to get a steal in this draft by selecting Leighton Vander Esch. He has been compared to and called the next Brian Urlacher for many reasons, but I believe he plays just like his new teammate Sean Lee. The Cowboys now have a solid line backing core consisting of Vander Esch, Lee and Jaylon Smith as the Cowboys try and make the playoffs after missing them last season.

 

20. Detroit Lions

Pick: C Frank Ragnow

Opinion: He is touted as the best center in the entire draft and for the third time in four seasons, the Lions pick an offensive linemen in the first round to protect Matthew Stafford. Ragnow will slide right in between Taylor Decker and TJ Lang and the Lions hope Ragnow is a hit unlike Laken Tomlinson and Riley Reiff, whose tenures as Lions first round draft picks where not as promising. It is to note that Ragnow can also play guard.

 

Ohio State guard Billy Price running onto the field with his teammates.

21. Cincinnati Benglas

Pick: C Billy Price

Opinion: Price was the best center to me in this draft and unfortunately suffered a pectoral injury at the combine. However, he is expected to be ready for training camp and could be a solid player for them at 21. The Bengals needed a center so this pick makes sense.

 

22. Tennessee Titans (from Ravens)

*Ravens receive picks 25 and 125. Titans also get pick 215

Pick: LB Rashaan Evans

Opinion: With the loss of Avery Williamson in the offseason, Evans will replace him nicely and look to be a leader on that Tennessee defense that keeps on improving. Evans is a three down linebacker and may have a few flaws in his game but it is nothing major or concerning.

 

23. New England Patriots (from Rams)

Pick: OT Isiah Wynn

Opinion: The Patriots needed an offensive tackle now that Nate Solder is now with the Giants. He was a beast in Georgia and with the Patriots depth at guard, I would be surprised to see Wynn play anywhere other than tackle.

 

24. Carolina Panthers

Picks: WR D.J. Moore

Opinion: Big fan of this pick and Moore at of Maryland. He had an impressive combine which led to him leaping over Calvin Ridley as the number one receiver in the draft. The Panthers wanted to get a speedy pass catcher for Cam Newton and they get a darn good one with the 24th pick.

 

25. Baltimore Ravens (from Titans)

Pick: Hayden Hurst

Opinion: The Ravens add more picks by trading down and fill a major need by selecting the best overall tight end in the draft. The Ravens have struggled with their selections a of tight ends with both Maxx Williams and Crockett Gilmore and their past free agent signing of Benjamin Watson. Hurst reminds me of Jason Witten and is a good blocker, which will help Joe Flacco out a ton.

 

Photo Credit/Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

26. Atlanta Falcons

Pick: WR Calvin Ridley

Opinion: Usually one player falls in the first round and this year, that player was Calvin Ridley. Ridley was a star at Alabama but he did lack to break out in big games. He did not have a great combine, and as a result, he started to slide straight down draft boards. The Chicago Bears were trying to trade back into the first round to select Ridley, but the Falcons ended that scenario with this selection. Calvin Ridley will still be a good receiver and putting him in a receiving core with Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu will only make him better and allow him to go. This pick puts the NFC on notice and arguably makes the Falcons the scariest offense in the league

 

27. Seattle Seahawks (from Packers)

Pick: RB Rashaad Penny

Opinion: Not of fan of this. He is a very nice runner but he is under six feet and may not be an every down back in the NFL. The Seahawks have many other needs and while running back was a major one, they did not even take the best one in this draft.

 

28. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick: S Terrell Edmounds

Opinion: He is the brother of now Bills linebacker Tremaine. Edmounds had a good combine and was a prime example of a rising player in the draft process. He is a prototypical Steelers pick but he is a playmaker. This selection was over shined by Ryan Shaizer who walked out to the podium and announced this selection. Extremely powering and inspirational. Brought a tear to everyone’s eye.

 

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

Pick: DT Taven Bryant

Opinion: The Jags add to an already stacked defensive line and it makes sense. Any championship type team needs depth at all defensive positions. It is to note that with all these defenive linemens, the Jags cant afford to sign them all so Bryant is a cheap option who can play. Good pick.

 

Jan 1, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Central Florida Knights defensive back Mike Hughes (19) returns a kickoff against the Auburn Tigers in the fourth quarter in the 2018 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

30. Minnesota Vikings

Pick: CB Mike Hughes

Opinion: Watched Hughes a lot at UCF and he is a sneaky good cover corner. He has length and size and it is known that Mike Zimmer loves working with corners so it will be interesting to see how great he will play on a stacked Viking defense.

 

31. New England Patriots

Pick: RB Sony Michel

Opinion: He will replace Dion Lewis who is now with the Titans. He is the typical Patriots running back: the receiving back. There were questions abouthis knee injury and numerous reports came out saying that Michel may slip in the draft because of concern over his knee injury being “bone to bone”. Non the less, he might have been taken higher than expected as he was projected to be a second round pick. He was a productive runner and receiver at the college level and he will join Rex Burkhead, James White, and Mike Gillislee in a loaded running back room.

 

32. Baltimore Ravens (from Eagles)

*Eagles get picks 52 and 125 in this draft, and a 2nd round pick in 2019. The Ravens also get pick 132

Pick: QB Lamaar Jackson

Opinion: The last first round pick for Ozzie Newsome was a big one, selecting a former Heisman winning in Lamaar Jackson. Jackson did not run a 40 at all through the draft process as teams had been rumored to of been interested in Jackson as a receiver, which did not flatter him at all. Jackson had all talent and speed to be a quarterback in the NFL, but his small frame is a concern. He is a developmental quarterback and will be looked to be Joe Flacco’s replacement. Flacco could be released without a cap penalty at the end of the season, so Lamaar may see action as soon as 2019. Now, with a major chip on his shoulder, watch for a motivated Lamaar Jackson to work his butt off and become the NFL starter he and others know he could be.

 

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My Thoughts on Dez Bryant’s Release

Today, April 13th, 2018, the Dallas Cowboys have official released their number one wide receiver Dez Bryant. Dez Bryant has been a Cowboy since being drafted 24th overall back in 2010. Now, 8 years later, Dez will now have the opportunity to pick where he wants to play for next season.

Since the moment it was announced the two parties were parting ways, social media and news outlets have blown up. Numerous websites such as ESPN, CBSSports, TheScore, Bleacher Report and more released numerous articles on this breaking news talking about “Top Ten Landing Spots for Dez Bryant”, “Best fits for Dez”, and “Dez Bryant being recruited by..”. Lets face it, Dez Bryant(in my opinion) is no longer a top 5 wideout. He is not a top ten wide receiver. I could even argue he is not even top 15 or even top 20 in the league.

Bryant’s most productive seasons came in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In those three seasons combine, he tore up secondaries in the NFL compiling 41 touchdowns, 3,935 receiving yards on 273 catches. He also has two career punt return touchdowns. He did all this damage with Tony Romo under center. Though he had major production during that time, since then, Bryant has not reached the thousand yard mark. Bryant has had a major drop off since fracturing his foot week one against the Giants in 2015. You could say his drop off came as a result of not being 100 percent healthy and playing with a young quarterback in Dak Prescott, and that may be the case. However, the Cowboys in 2016 had an elite offense and was targeted 96 times. He only had 50 catches.

Dez Bryant has struggled with drops in recent years and has lost the ability to gain separation from defenders. Being 29, his window as a number one receiving option is over. It is widely believed by NFL coaches and executives that once a running back turns 30, their career drops off. This belief is partly because of all the hits and all the touches a running back gets during a season. For a wide receiver, that necessarily isn’t the case, especially due to all the new pass interference and personal foul calls to protect the receiver. There are three key traits to have success in the NFL as a pass catcher: good hands, strong legs, and the ability to gain separation. Does Dez Bryant has any of these traits at this point of his career? The answer is no. He drops a lot of passes, and to me catches a lot of balls with his body. As talked about before, he has not been the same since fracturing his foot three years ago and does not have the speed or the separation ability he had once had.

Now, it is not impossible for Dez to be a productive receiver. There were cases of older wide receivers, Brandon Marshall,  Anquon Boldin and Steve Smith Sr. for example, that have had Pro Bowl caliber seasons after the age of 30. Those players were in situations where they played with veteran quarterbacks and had more talent around them and all three are potential future Hall of Famers.

Another thing that has rubbed me the wrong way along with many others is his maturity issues. It is not a secrete that Bryant was immature in his first few years in the NFL. For example, Dez was caught going out and breaking the teams curfew back in 2012 after the Cowboys had set a new policy. He contradicted himself that year by saying he supported the new policy, yet he went out and broke it. Though he had the off day the night after the incident, if you are going to break the rules, do not go out and support the rule prior to you breaking it. He also was nursing an injury at the time and had other issues on the field. Though he is not as immature as he was earlier in his career, he still does show signs of not being that mature person the Cowboys wanted him to be. Looking back at earlier today, Dez Bryant was tweeting nonstop, blaming  the “Garrett guys” for his release and responding to and retweeting tweets directed towards him regarding his release. He also walked out of his meeting and told reporters  that he will see Dallas twice a year, expressing his interest in wanting to stay in the NFC East. He did tell NFL Network reporter Jane Slater that he would have taken a paycut if asked and was never offered that option. It is, though, understandable to why he was very eager to speak out due to how personal he took it.

Josh Norman jawing with Dez Bryant

Photo Credit SI.com

Now, I do not have to go back and recap the rest of the off the field issues and sideline tantrums he has thrown because those are known. Unfortunately for him, now at the age of 29, Dez wants to get a receiver coach and be 100 percent committed to football. What NFL players do not always realize is how important they are to their team when they are not on the field.  The time for Dez Bryant to be a game changer and a leader in the locker room is over. That window has closed in Dallas. I mentioned before the lack of ability to separate, and with Dez now wanting to train with a receiving coach is too late. With teams looking at what the Eagles and Rams have done, teams would rather opt to take a chance on a wideout in the draft and develop that player in their system. For football players, it is important to be mature. As a journalist, it is okay to be immature at 23. It is okay to be immature at 29. The reason is because the window to make money in journalism or broadcasting or a lot of fields is on going. You could afford to be immature(to an extent obviously) because the window is much larger than being an athlete. Bryant had eight seasons to smarten up and commit his mind fully to football, and now that he wants to, it was too late, at least in Dallas.

I believe that for Dez Bryant to succeed, he needs to sign with a team with a accurate quarterback(preferably a veteran one) and a team were he does not have to be the go to guy. I do not think that the Giants and Eagles would sign him due to salary cap issues. The Redskins would be a very interesting option as I do think he would play well with Alex Smith and they have the room to add him but reports have stated that he is not on their radar and they are content with their receiving core. Obviously Bryant will sign with a team outside of the NFC East if he is not offered a contract by one of those teams. Teams like the Patriots, the Chargers, the Panthers and the Falcons would all be nice fits for Bryant. I believe he has some gas left in the tank, but the majority of his success should be in the red zone as he still is a taller receiver.

With this being said, I never wish to see anyone fail and I hope Dez could bounce back from this and use it as motivation to be the best player he could be. We will only be able to tell once the season is underway.

 

Three Draft Sleepers at Every Position: Running Backs

Three Draft Sleepers at Every Position: Running Backs

In every draft, NFL teams and fans generally have a good idea about the top prospects in the draft. What makes some teams better at drafting than others is there ability to scope out the sleepers in the draft. These late round picks keep the lights on at these GMs’ homes.

The running back position has always been of hot debate. Should teams spend a first round pick on one? Well, it depends on what type of offense a team has. Teams like the Rams have a bell cow in Todd Gurley, while the Patriots have a committee of running backs. There are pros and cons to both, but nonetheless, it’s easy to get a sleeper at the running back position.

With that being said, who are the three sleepers at the running back position in the 2018 NFL Draft?

Akrum Wadley, Iowa

Wadley is one of my favourite players in this draft. I think he can come in and compete for a starting job somewhere, or he can be a solid number two back. He’s well versed in all angles of the game.

Projected Round: 4th round

Projected Team: Oakland Raiders

Wadley can compete for the number two running back spot to Marshawn Lynch. He’ll be a nice compliment to him and who knows? He could start by mid-season.

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley.

Mark Walton, Miami (FL)

Walton has had some injuries, but wow can this guy play. He’s got speed, strength and has some receiving ability. He’ll be a nice mid-round steal for any team.

Projected Round: 3rd round

Projected Team: Los Angeles Chargers

Melvin Gordon has become the true number one back in L.A. However, they’ll want to have someone to get some decent reps behind him. Walton will be a great change-of-pace back.

Miami (FL) running back Mark Walton.

Nyheim Hines, North Carolina State

This guy has speed. He reminds me of De’Anthony Thomas, and I think teams will be interested in the receiving and running ability he has.

Projected Round: 5th round

Projected Team: New York Giants

The Giants will likely get a running back in the earlier rounds, but many teams draft more than one running back nowadays. Hines will be a versatile weapon for Pat Shurmur’s new offense.

North Carolina State running back Nyheim Hines.

Kirk Cousins: Choose Your Weapons

Kirk Cousins: Choose Your Weapons

 

Associative Press

Last year in July, I wrote a predictive article: “Kirk Cousins: The Hero the NFL Players Need, but the Hero They Don’t Deserve.” It’s worth the read considering recent events surrounding Kirk Cousins, but in essence, I compared NFL salaries and free agency to those of the NBA and MLB. Kirk Cousins’s impending free agency and franchise tag debacle has made me a fan of his, especially because he has the rare opportunity to break through the ceiling of NFL contract issues for players. It took a dysfunctional franchise, an underrated quarterback, and a huge free agency market for a franchise signal-caller to create this perfect storm. If players, fans, and the sports media thought Matthew Stafford’s 5-year 135 million dollar contract was pricy, just wait until Kirk Cousins officially hits the open market. 

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Mel Kiper’s Mock Draft 1.0: Epitomizing the Stupidity and Hypocrisy of Big Media Draft Analysts

Mel Kiper’s Mock Draft 1.0: Epitomizing the Stupidity and Hypocrisy of Big Media Draft Analysts

Mel Kiper’s Mock Draft is given a lot of attention and while Kiper was major in growing the popularity of the draft, this attention is completely unjust. In my opinion, one that is shared amongst many within the draft community, Kiper has been resting on his laurels and not been doing his job very well at all. It shows in his mock drafts.

Starting with pick number 1

Kiper had Josh Allen, Quarterback out of Wyoming going number 1 overall. This is priceless in it’s comedic value and given the incompetence of the Browns’ organization is not entirely impossible, but given where we are now, Kiper should not be mocking Josh Allen this high, and certainly not ranking him as his number 1 quarterback. There are a plethora of quarterbacks in this draft that are better than Allen right now, and while Allen may have more upside than most of them, he is not anywhere close to as polished as the many other quarterbacks. Kiper said that “the other quarterbacks have warts” and while this is true, if the others have warts then Allen must be a leper.

Leaving out Lamar

This one I can leave to an article that I wrote completely about Lamar, which you can read here.

Cornerback Confusion 

Kiper has Minkah Fitzpatrick being taken at 6th overall as a cornerback. This probably isn’t smart because Fitzpatrick didn’t play much on the outside at Alabama and if he were elite out there he probably would have. Joshua Jackson is the best cornerback in this class. He is a big-time playmaker and has the length and athleticism for the NFL. Kiper has him as the third cornerback off the board. Big media scouts seem obsessed with Ohio State’s Denzel Ward because he is expected to run a fancy 40 time (in the 4.3’s or possibly 4.2’s) and has very fluid hips. The problem is that Ward isn’t much of a playmaker, isn’t great in coverage, gets bullied at the college level, and is only 5’10” or 5’11”. Ward projects to be a less polished, faster Vernon Hargreaves. Translation: he can be decent, but not someone you want to take in the top 20.

Roquon Smith at Inside

Kiper mocks Roquon Smith to the Raiders calling him a “force in the middle”. Roquon Smith is a really good linebacker and could potentially go in this draft range, but he is NOT a force in the middle and is NOT an inside linebacker. He is not strong enough to get off blocks in the middle of the field. He would be best in a 4-3 scheme as an outside linebacker.

…..and the rest is…..interesting

I honestly have no idea what to say about the second half of this mock because it just makes no sense.

Kiper’s Laurels and Education Yourself on the Draft

Mel Kiper seems to have given up on actually watching film. He makes takes that pretty clearly could not have been derived from film. Kiper, McShay, Matt Miller and the rest of the major media scouts are NOT reliable sources for actual football knowledge. They can sometimes give insight into the thoughts of league sources, but their opinions on prospects are frequently mislead. Good sources for draft knowledge can be seen on SFE’s Harun Muhamed’s twitter account @AboutTheScout but the best way is to simply watch film yourself. My favorite sources outside of the SFE network include Voch Lombardi on Youtube (@VochLombardi on twitter) and Derrick Klassen of B/R (@QBKlass on twitter).

SFE has a couple of it’s own mock drafts by people who actually watch film. Nick Holcolme’s Draft is here. Harun, Jon and I made a collaborative mock here. MJ made his mock draft on youtube here. Enjoy and happy draft season.

NFC & AFC Championship Picks + Divisional Round Recap

NFC & AFC Championship Picks + Divisional Round Recap

Before I pick who I think will end up in the Super Bowl, let’s go over a crazy weekend of divisional round games.  Let me mention that I went a horrendous 1-3 with my picks last week.

PHI 15 – ATL 10

I mentioned in my preview of this game that Atlanta didn’t need many points to win.  They didn’t.  However, their offense could only muster a mere 10 points, and it is playoff disappointment once again for Atlanta.  Atlanta led 10-6 until Jake Elliot kicked a 53-yard field goal after missing an extra point, and the Eagles were down by 1 heading into halftime.  But, the Eagles defense completely shut down the Falcons offense, including a great goal line stand at the end of the game.  Nick Foles is now two wins away from giving Philly their first Super Bowl.  A Jeff Hostetler-like run could definitely be a possibility.

NE 35 – TEN 14

So, this is the one game I picked right.  The catch is that literally anyone could’ve done that.  When the Titans got up 7-0 early on, I buckled my seatbelt for the possibility of a shocking upset.  But Tennessee couldn’t get their run game going, and they didn’t get pressure on Brady.  If you don’t sack Brady the entire game, it’s little wonder he drops 35 points on you.  The most surprising result of this game is the firing of Coach Mike Mularkey.  I understand the reason for this is his intention to keep a coaching staff with a porous offensive coordinator and an ancient (albeit very well-respected) defensive coordinator.  However, the coaching field is quite thin.  The Titans will hope to get a guy like Josh McDaniels, and not an unproven guy like John DeFilippo.

JAC 45 – PIT 42

In a game I expected to be low-scoring, there was a total of 87 points.  Leonard Fournette had a great day, and Blake Bortles was efficient.  Bortles only attempted 26 passes, as that was a great game plan for him.  Give Jags offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett a lot of credit, as Bortles avoided the interceptions.  And like I always say, when he doesn’t throw a pick, the Jags win.  Still, Bortles deserves a lot of credit for going toe to toe with Big Ben in the second half.  The Killer Bs were on full display on Sunday, as the Steelers put up 42 points and had many incredible touchdowns.  However, offensive coordinator Todd Haley will take a lot of deserved heat for not having Big Ben run a QB sneak on that 4th and 1 call.  Ultimately, the defensive touchdown that Telvin Smith made was the deciding factor of this game.

MIN 29 – NO 24

One of my first thoughts after watching the end to this incredible game was “Will it get a nickname?”  I found an extensive Wikipedia article written about the “Minneapolis Miracle” the very next day.  The internet doesn’t take long.  People will make this game all about that final play, so it’s going to be forgotten that Minnesota had a 17-0 lead at one point.  They were very close to choking it all away, and continuing a string of playoff heartbreak.  Drew Brees stepped it up in the 2nd half, throwing for 3 touchdowns to 0 interceptions against an elite Minnesota defense.  The Saints kicked a field goal to go up 24-23, but then the miracle happened.   All I can say is poor Marcus Williams.  He actually made a pick earlier in the game that gave New Orleans momentum.  But like I said, that’s all going to be forgotten now.

Photo Courtesy: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images.  Diggs had an incredible walk-off touchdown to end the game as time expired, as I’m sure you’ve heard.  The point after attempt was accurately summed up by Joe Buck as “the most anti-climactic moment in NFL History.”

JAC @ NE: How the Jags Make the Super Bowl

Even if the Jags lose to the Pats, saying this season was a success would be an understatement for them.  Jacksonville getting out to a 21-0 lead in the Divisional Round told me this team is tired of being disrespected (and they’re 9 point underdogs in this game).  It certainly seems disrespectful to me.  However, Colin Cowherd made a good point about the Pats not only beating teams they’re heavily favored against, but also covering the spread.  But somehow this Jags team feels different.  The Jaguars have an elite pass rush, which is something you need to beat Brady.  Calais Campbell is a defensive player of the year candidate, and the rest of the d-line is stacked with young talent.

Jalen Ramsey has guaranteed a Super Bowl win for the Jags, and there truly seems to be a chance he’ll be eating his words, considering he’s going up against the GOAT.  However, Ramsey and the secondary have complimented the pass rush extremely well all season.  As for the offense, the thing they do best is run the ball with Leonard Fournette.  As we all know with Bill Belichick, he likes to “take away” what a team does best.  Know what that means?  Blake Bortles will have to make plays.  But what Bortles mostly has to do is avoid interceptions.  If he doesn’t get picked in this game, to me the Jags pull off the upset.  If he gets picked one or more times, the Pats are heading to another Super Bowl.

Related imageImage Courtesy: John Raoux/AP.  The Jags had the talent, but they needed the discipline.  Tom Coughlin brought it, taking a team from 3-13 to the Final Four of the NFL.

What the Pats Need to do to Avoid the Upset

Well, the Pats are in their 7th straight AFC Championship.  Just think about that for a moment.  The Pats are looking to add to their legacy of success with their third ring in four years.  This is something they did at the start of the 2000s.  This is why if they do win the Super Bowl, I’ll view their run of dominance as two separate dynasties.  Standing in the Pats way is the kind of team that has given them fits in the playoffs before.  The most crucial thing the Pats must do to win is protect Brady.  If the offensive line can protect Brady, chances are he’ll do quite well.  After all, the Jags did give up 42 points last well.  The Steelers may have had the Killer Bs, but the Pats only need one Killer B to win… well, Gronk helps as well.

Because the Jags defense will be very committed to stopping Gronk, passing to Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks could definitely get the offense going.  Not to mention, the screen game with James White and Dion Lewis was great against the Titans.  Dink and dunk plays truly help the Pats offense succeed.  On defense, the Pats can’t let the Jags jump out to an early lead.  The Jaguars getting off to a 21-0 lead against Pittsburgh stunned the crowd, and made the home field advantage less of a factor.  New England must avoid this at all costs.  The most important thing for the Pats is to pick off Bortles at least once.  Like I said, if they do that, they will win this game.

My Prediction: Patriots win 21-17

I do see the Jags covering the spread, but it ultimately won’t be enough to go to Foxborough and beat New England.  As a Giants fan, I know teams with Tom Coughlin as a leader tend to beat New England.  And trust me, I’m pulling for the Jags just as much as most other non-Patriots fans.  But realistically, Bill Belichick-coached teams are well-oiled machines, and they’re on their way back to the Super Bowl.

MIN @ PHI: How the Eagles Make it to the Super Foles (Pardon the Awful Pun)

While Steve Sarkisian will take a lot of heat for his poor-play calling against Philadelphia, the Eagles defense must truly be commended for their effort against the league’s reigning MVP.  Their #1 ranked rushing defense combined with the emergence of second year QB Carson Wentz is what brought them here.  Unfortunately, they don’t have Wentz anymore.  However, they do still have that amazing run defense, which means Case Keenum will have to step up and make plays.  And despite Keenum’s incredible season where he has proven doubters wrong on a weekly basis, he’s now playing in the not-so-friendly confines of Lincoln Financial Field.

However, another backup QB that must make plays in order for his team to win is Nick Foles.  Fortunately, the Eagles are likely feeling a lot more confident in their signal caller.  While he didn’t have any touchdowns in his game against the Falcons, he also had no interceptions, and his passer rating was over 100.  Granted, this Vikings defense is going to be a lot tougher than the Falcons.  While the Vikings run defense is great, so is the Eagles rushing attack.  Something has to give.  With Philly having home field advantage, Foles can concentrate much better than Keenum.  That could be the difference.

How the Vikings Go Back Home For the Super Bowl

While the crowd may distract Case Keenum, he has a nice set of weapons to work with.  Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph have to exploit the Eagles secondary, as that is not the strong point of this Eagles defense.  Much like the Eagles, the Vikings run game will likely get stuffed.  Philly and Minnesota are the first and second ranked run defenses respectively.  The offensive line for Minnesota can’t let Keenum get under duress, as that could make him throw a ball up in the air for an interception.

As I mentioned with the Vikings in last week’s article, don’t let the ghosts of past failures haunt you.  Kai Forbath, you better not be thinking about Gary Anderson and Blair Walsh.  Forbath nailed a 53 yarder in the game against New Orleans, so that’s a good sign.  However, in a game that will likely be a defensive slugfest, it could ultimately come down to the kicker.  You gotta put it through the uprights.  On defense, the Vikings got what would seem like a favorable matchup in Nick Foles.  While Foles has solid weapons in Alshon Jeffrey and Zach Ertz, he won’t be able to get to them if Minnesota takes advantage of replacement left tackle Halapoulivaati Vatai (with a name like that, there’s a reason they call him Big V).  If the Vikings can come away with some turnovers, they could be “Bringing it Home”.

My Prediction: Vikings win 16-14

To prove what a weird season this has been for football, I’m projecting the Vikings to actually win this one on a last second field goal.  Just think about if folks, we could be getting a Super Bowl matchup of Bortles/Foles or Bortles/Keenum.  To conclude, no one’s preseason predictions are coming true.  Well, maybe Malik Jackson’s might (just not the undefeated part): http://jaguarswire.usatoday.com/2017/07/22/malik-jackson-boldly-predicts-the-jaguars-to-go-undefeated-and-win-super-bowl-lii/

Will the Vikings Commit to Case Keenum?

Will the Vikings Commit to Case Keenum?

Case Keenum is looking like the answer to the Vikings’ Super Bowl drought, but will they sign him for next season and beyond?

Currently, there are four quarterbacks on Minnesota’s roster, and three of which could be potential starters for an NFL franchise. The fact that there are four QBs could indicate that they aren’t sold on Keenum yet. However, Keenum was a late bloomer this season, so maybe the Vikings have just been stuck with four QBs. Nonetheless, the question must be asked: Are the Vikings all in on Case Keenum?

To answer this, we must analyze three key components to this dilemma. One, the current competition on the roster; two, Minnesota’s options in free agency and the draft; and three, what the rest of the league is doing–and the contract controversy that is Kirk Cousins.

The Four-Headed Pocket-Passing Minneapolis Monster

The Vikings’ QBs range greatly in talent, style and background. First, there’s Keenum. Undrafted out of Houston, Keenum has been a journeyman in the NFL. He’s already played with the Houston Texans, St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams and now the Minnesota Vikings. He’s been relatively unheralded up until this year, yet all of a sudden, he may be the man to lead Minnesota to its first Super Bowl victory.

Vikings QB Case Keenum.

Second, we have Sam Bradford. As the number one overall pick in 2010 by the Rams, Bradford was expected to be the face of the franchise. Injuries plagued the Oklahoma Sooner’s early years, which evidently made him go to Philadelphia. After the Eagles traded up for the second overall pick to nab Carson Wentz, Bradford wanted out of the City of Brotherly Love and found home in Minnesota via trade. His injury bug has come back to bite him, however, after having a promising year last season.

Third, we have Teddy Bridgewater. As the second first round pick the Vikings had in 2014, the Louisville product was a project, but a potential starting QB for this franchise. Bridgewater had a few promising games early in his career, but two back-to-back devastating knee injuries has sidelined him ever since. Although healthy now, the emergence of Case Keenum has limited Bridgewater’s playing time. Teddy B’s time in Minneapolis could be numbered.

Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater.

Lastly, we have Kyle Sloter. Now, the majority of football fans don’t know who this guy is, so let me tell you. Sloter is an undrafted QB out of Northern Colorado and first found playing time with the Denver Broncos in the preseason. Although he had some impressive performances, he was inevitably cut and signed by the Vikings. Sloter hasn’t seen action in the regular season, and his presence on the roster is simply because the Vikings’ QB chart has injury-prone written all over it.

With these four in mind, it seems as though Keenum is the best possible answer. If Bradford and/or Bridgewater were healthy, though, that could change things. Bradford has shown that he cannot stay healthy, and it’s unclear as to what Bridgewater’s durability is. This, in summary, has created a complex issue for the Vikings.

What are the Vikings’ options?

Just because you have four quarterbacks on your roster, doesn’t mean you can’t add some competition.

This year’s draft and free agency period is teeming with QB talent, and the Vikings will surely want a taste of it. It is likely that the Vikings do not retain Teddy Bridgewater, since his contract will be up. If one can remember from long ago, the Vikings also did not exercise the fifth-year option on Bridgewater, either.

Sloter will likely be gone and it wouldn’t shock me if he never finds work in the NFL again–it’s that kind of league, folks.

The two remaining are Keenum and Bradford. The Vikings have more invested in Bradford, since they traded a first round pick to get him. However, has Keenum shown enough for him to get a big extension? Surely, the Vikings won’t just let him walk, but they might have to pay more than they’re willing to keep him. However, they might have to keep Bradford in case Keenum turns out to be a one-hit wonder. This creates a salary cap dilemma, so if a team offers Keenum a large contract, Bradford could be the last man standing. This is all dependant on whether Keenum gets an external contract offer.

As for the draft, I don’t think they should bother early on–they have needs elsewhere. Later on, they could be intrigued to pick someone, however. Some names to look out for would Memphis’ Riley Ferguson or Nebraska’s Tanner Lee. They will only draft someone if Bridgewater is not retained and Keenum goes elsewhere– Sloter isn’t really a factor.

Memphis QB Riley Ferguson.

Minnesota’s QB situation is an absolute mess, and it is up to Case Keenum to be a reasonable negotiator in order for everything to be figured out.

Kirk Cousins: The Man, The Myth, The Franchise Quarterback?

As if Minnesota’s QB dilemma wasn’t already difficult enough, the Washington Redskins have inadvertently made it harder.

Kirk Cousins has been a solid QB over the last few seasons. In fact, he’s better than average. The football world is not sure what kind of personal vendetta the Redskins organization has against Cousins, but they won’t give him a big contract.

Since Cousins was a fourth round pick and was a late bloomer, Washington has always been skeptical on giving him a big contract. They fear that he isn’t as good as he’s playing (which is ridiculous). It also doesn’t help that Keenum went undrafted and didn’t emerge until this year. Nonetheless, the way the Redskins have dealt with Kirk Cousins has made it difficult for situations like the Vikings-Keenum relation to have a smooth landing.

Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins.

Keenum’s going to want big money, but will the Vikings offer it to him? Will another team swoop him and give him the money he wants?

At the end of the day, it isn’t up to the Vikings front office. It isn’t up to Teddy B, Sam, or Sloter. It is up to Case Keenum and whether he wants to chase the money or stay in the Twin Cities.