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2017 NFL Mock Draft: 1.0

Annually I like to release four Mock Drafts leading up to the draft. The first coming after free agency opens. There’s nothing better than a good mock draft, however, dishing them out before teams start reshaping their rosters is a bit trigger happy. I mean, who saw the Patriots  making the type of splashes they’ve made so far via free agency?

So, here is the first break down of how things could shape up on April 27th in the “City of Brotherly Love” Philadelphia, PA.

1.) Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
This pick won’t change unless the Browns decide to trade the pick.

2.) San Francisco 49ers: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
The Niners have brought in some of vets, but still have a ways to go before their defense actually resembles a defense. At safety, Antoine Bethea was cut and Eric Reid has contemplated retirement due to concussions. Adams is a Day One starter and provides some security.

3.) Chicago Bears: Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
There are considerable red flags with Allen’s shoulder. He has arthritis, but the doctor’s say it won’t be an issue until after Allen’s playing days. If the Bears feel comfortable about it, Allen could solidify the front line.

4.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
This is a “best available” pick. In this scenario, Jacksonville should aim for the best player available. Enter Fournette. He’s an old school back and with Tom Coughlin running the front office, it could be a perfect marriage.

5.) Tennessee Titans: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio St.
The Titans added some pieces to the secondary via free agency in Jonathan Cyprien and Logan Ryan, but more needs to done for a unit that finished 30th in the league. Hooker, is a playmaker who has incredible range.

6.) New York Jets: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio St.
Dee Milliner was the last Top-10 draft pick used to replace Darrelle Revis, hopefully, Lattimore can be more productive. He has some injury history to consider and pulling out of the Combine didn’t help quell those worries, but he has the explosiveness and ball skills to be special.

7.) Los Angeles Chargers: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Philip River’s window isn’t getting any bigger and his best weapon, Keenan Allen, hasn’t been able to stay healthy. If the talent they have can stay healthy, the Chargers have enough to push for a wild card seed. This is security.

8.) Carolina Panthers: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
Carolina has brought in a lot of aging veterans. Drafting the versatile Thomas and allowing him to learn from Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers, will only make the pay off better down the road.

9.) Cincinnati Bengals: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
The Bengals defensive line is only getting older and thinner in regards to depth. The rush defense was lackluster, ranking 21st in the league. Barnett can set the edge and provide a little juice in the pass rush.

10.) Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Williams, is the big target Buffalo needs. They lost Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin via free agency, leaving the cupboard bare. With a passing attack that ranked 30th in the league last year, Williams would pair well with fellow ex-Clemson Tiger Sammy Watkins.

11.) New Orleans Saints: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
New Orleans had the worst pass defense in the league last year and cornerback is their most pressing need. This pick, of course, is now up in the air with news breaking that Jones went down with an injury at his pro day. Until further details emerge on the severity of the situation, Jones is the pick here.

12.) Cleveland Browns: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
What the Browns need more than anything is stability and Howard provides that. He can block, is a match-up nightmare in the passing game, and comes from a pro style offense. Best of all, he’ll provide a security blanket for…whoever is quarterbacking the team.

13.) Arizona Cardinals: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Between injury concern and his dismissal from the Combine, I believe Foster may slip. Now, the Combine issue has been addressed and seems to be more of a nonissue. None the less, the Cards get the missing link to their defense: a high-motor, thumper who will set the tone.

14.) Philadelphia Eagles: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Philly has done well to bolster the offense and supplying weapons for Carson Wentz to utilize. Now, they need to focus on the other side of the ball. Last year’s starters are gone and the cupboard is pretty bare. Humphrey could start Day One.

15.) Indianapolis Colts: Haason Reddick, ILB, Temple
The Colts need to totally rebuild their defense. They brought in some edge rushers via free agency and should continue to address the linebacking corps. Reddick has the versatility, explosiveness, and awareness to become a Day One starter.

16.) Baltimore Ravens: John Ross, WR, Washington
With the retirement of Steve Smith, the Ravens receiving corps became alarmingly thin. Mike Wallace, looked like the Mike Wallace of old, but Breshad Perriman has failed to make an impact yet. Ross, adds a dynamic playmaker to stretch defenses.

17.) Washington Redskins: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Team president Bruce Allen has ran the organization in the ground…again. And it was particularly embarrassing this time around. Kirk Cousins is all but gone after this season and they need someone to succeed him. The unfortunate task lands on Trubisky’s shoulders.

18.) Tennessee Titans: David Njoku, TE, Miami
Delanie Walker has been tremendous for the Titans, but at 32 years of age it’s time to start looking for his replacement. Njoku is raw, but an athletic freak. With a year or two to develop under Walker, Njoku could develop into a Pro Bowl caliber weapon.

19.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida St.
Veteran Doug Martin has been unable to stay healthy and some off-field issues have popped up. It’s time to go in a new direction. Cook has familiarity with quarterback Jameis Winston, having played together at Florida State. Cook, also provides an upgrade in the passing game.

20.) Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
While they have added some pieces in Menelik Watson and Ronald Leary, the left tackle position still needs to be addressed. Ramczyk, took a long road to get to the FBS level, but has the talent and technique to protect their young franchise quarterback Paxton Lynch.

21.) Detroit Lions: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Charlton, has been tagged with the “inconsistent” label, but Charlton is still an ascending talent. He was moved around a lot at Michigan, which stunted his development. In the right situation, like this playing opposite Ziggy Ansah, Chlarton could take the next step.

22.) Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
The Dolphins have addressed some glaring needs adding Lawrence Timmons via free agency and trading for Julius Thomas and William Hayes. Laremy Tunsil will move to his natural left tackle position, but that leaves glaring needs at guard. Lamp, will start Day One.

23.) New York Giants: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
McCaffrey is the perfect fit for the Giants offensive scheme. Offensive whiz Ben McAdoo can maximize McCaffrey’s versatile skill set as a rusher, receiver, and returner. McCaffrey is a dynamic Swiss army knife that paired with Odell Bechkham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Brandon Marshall would terrify any opposing defense.

24.) Oakland Raiders: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
While Oakland’s offense took the next step in 2016, the defense lagged behind. Most notably in the secondary. White, is an excellent cover corner, but he may not have enough size which could force him to play the slot.

25.) Houston Texans: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan St.
With Vince Wilfork retiring there will be some shuffling along the defensive line and some gaps will emerge. That’s where McDowell comes in. McDowell, has the ideal traits to be a five-technique in Houston’s system and in time could develop into a quality starter.

26.) Seattle Seahawks: Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah
Bolles has taken quite a long road to get to this point, but this is an ideal fit. He has the size, athleticism, and nastiness to excel in Seattle’s zone. While it may take a year or two for him to reach his potential, Bolles can be the blindside protector Russell Wilson needs.

27.) Kansas City Chiefs: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
This qualifies as a luxury pick, but a great scenario none the less. With a year or so to acclimate to the NFL game, Watson is the perfect passer for Andy Reid’s west coast, minimal mistake, super game-manager scheme.

28.) Dallas Cowboys: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
The Cowboys took a hit in free agency, losing both Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. That leaves a massive whole in the secondary. Peppers, can be the player to change that. He is a classic playmaker who can be deployed all over the field.

29.) Green Bay Packers: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio St.
Conley started every game his last two years in Colombus, excels in press coverage, and has experience playing the slot. What more could Green Bay ask for? He fits their scheme perfectly and will provide an instant talent boost to a lackluster position.

30.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
The Steelers have spent a lot of capital on their linebacking corps and have to go back to the well again. Former-first rounder Jarvis Jones couldn’t cut it and James Harrison can’t defy age forever. McKinley, would be able to grow behind Harrison and, in time, give the Steelers the pass rush they’ve sorely been missing.

31.) Atlanta Falcons: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
The defensive end position has been dogging the Falcons for some time now. Harris could solve that. Harris, has an explosive burst and would team well with Vic Beasley to provide a constant threat to the opposing quarterback.

32.) New Orleans Saints: Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
By shipping wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots, New Orleans picked up the last selection on Day One. In this scenario any need would be a reach, so in that case why not find Drew Brees’ heir? Mahomes, would be a perfect fit for Sean Payton’s shotgun friendly offense and sitting behind Brees would only benefit Mahomes, who is as raw as they come.


The Pro Football H.O.F Is Broken

On Saturday night during the NFL Honors award show, the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2017 was announced and instead of celebrating the careers of seven new inductees, we are now forced to look at a system that has embarrassed itself to tremendous effect.

The 2017 HOF class includes running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Terrell Davis, quarterback Kurt Warner, defensive end Jason Taylor, and kicker Morten Anderson; along with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones via the Contributors Committee and safety Kenny Easley via the Seniors Committee.

Now, back in August 2016, I predicted the class to include Tomlinson and Taylor. You’d be foolish not to consider them first ballot hall-of-famers. But here is the crux of the issue, how the hell is wide receiver Terrell Owens not in?!

Before we go ahead and break down the stats (and lets make one thing crystal clear, any hall of fame consideration should be about nothing other than HARD, OBJECTIVE STATS) lets take a look at how the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee operates.

How the H.O.F Works

This group of alleged old football sages consists of 48 members, all of who work in the media. Each NFL city gets one reporter (New York and LA get two – one for each team) as a representative, with the remaining 16 spots going to current at-large reporters, including one representative from the Pro Football Writers of America and two Hall of Fame members.

Each member then pitches a player from their respective city and from there the squabbling begins. The list starts at around 100 Modern-Era nominees and over the year the Committee chips away at the list until there are just 15 nominees left, from which they make their final selection of who get inducted.

The current rules stipulate that between four and eight Modern-Era nominees go in each year. To be inducted a player, coach, contributor must receive at least 80% of the vote and, of course, the voting totals aren’t announced.

As for the subcommittees, each of these is curated by nine members plucked from the general Selection Committee. For the Seniors Committee, a player must be 25 years removed from his playing days. For Contributors, it’s just an opportunity for  the big-wigs to get their fair share and are not overshadowed by the Modern-Era nominees.

Why the H.O.F. is Hot Garbage

Lets just look at the initial rule that stipulates there must be a certain number of players to go in. By forcing the Committee to hit a number of players to put in, eventually you dilute the Hall of Fame, because the Committee is forced to select nominees to hit the quota. While I believe there should be a ceiling on how big a class can be, no way should there be a floor. Even Cooperstown can get that right.

Cooperstown, let’s jump into that swamp, shall we? As we all know, the voting for the MLB Hall of Fame is notoriously pig nosed over who they let in, with the BBWA acting as “gatekeepers”. Well it’s a new day and age, jack. Starting in 2017, Cooperstown is forcing each individual ballot to be made public in a show of transparency. This is something the NFL needs to adopt, because T.O. not getting in is an insult to players, fans, and the history of the game.

No T.O.?!

Terrell Owens played for 15 seasons and at the time that Owens retired in 2010, he was fifth all-time in receptions, second all-time in receiving yards, and second all-time in touchdown receptions. And it should be noted that in 2005, he only played in seven games and still tallied 763 yards on the season.

Then, of course, there is the six Pro Bowls, five First-team All Pros, and placement on the 2000s All-Decade team (which the Hall of Fame selects). Oh yeah, and he led the NFL in touchdown receptions three times.

The only excuse the Committee can hide behind is that his off the field antics cost him. Which is a delicious argument to get into when there is this guy named O.J. Simpson, who is in the Hall of Fame, and another guy named Ray Lewis, who is up for his year on the ballot next year. I won’t dig into it that much further, but you get the picture.

And to have a player of that stature out while Terrell Davis makes his way in, simply  is not just. Nothing against TD, that Broncos team of the late 90s was the first team I ever rooted for, but a player who (realistically) only played for four seasons, tremendous as they were, does not have the complete body of work to get in, comparatively.

Now Davis, who knows, maybe he could have been the greatest running back of all-time. His numbers trend that way, but having careers being cut short is nothing new, whether it be by injury or tragedy. If you vote a player in on “what could have been” then why isn’t Sterling Sharpe in the Hall of Fame? Or Tony Boselli, Greg Cook, Bo Jackson, Jerome Brown, Sean Taylor, Darryl Stingley, Ernie Davis, or Andy Katzenmoyer? The list goes on.

2016 AFC East Preview

What is there to say about the AFC East at this point? It’s the same thing every year. The New England Patriots dominate. It’s that simple. Under the reign of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the Patriots have lost the division crown only twice, once in 2002 (Brady’s second year as a starter) and once in 2008. But lets take a closer look.

The Jets won the division in ’02 with a 9-7 record, the same record as the Patriots, but due to the tie-breaker the Jets claimed the division. The’08 title was claimed by the Miami Dolphins, but Brady missed that entire season due to a knee injury in Week 1 and, even then, the Matt Cassel led Patriots finished with an identical 11-5 record, but missed out on division supremacy by way of a tie breaker once again.

However, the 2016 campaign could offer the Pats’ division rivals a jump of the juggernauts. Tom Brady will be suspended for the first four games following the  nauseating “Deflategate” ruling. (Here’s to hoping for a lengthy holdout next CBA discussions and the players get their rights back from Commissioner Roger Goodell ). The stage is set. Let’s rank ’em…

1.) New England Patriots

Brady or no Brady, this organization is too powerful and backup Jimmy Garoppolo has a lot of talent. He still has plenty to work on, but his second preseason game looked very impressive. Garoppolo led scoring drives on all but two series, one of which ended with a fumble near the Chicago Bears’ goal-line. They key to success will be the offensive line remaining healthy and efficient, after a very sub-par 2015.

It’s worth nothing the weapons Garoppolo will have at his disposal come Week 1. Already armed with Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Rob Gronkowski, the Pats went out and picked up Chris Hogan from the division rival Buffalo Bills and traded for Bears tight end Martellus Bennett. Yup, Gronk AND the Black Unicorn on the same team. Good luck.

The defense still has room for improvement despite finishing ninth in overall defense in 2015. That growth will look to come from the secondary. The starters are entrenched with Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Devin McCourty, and Patrick Chung. The issue is depth and second-round pick Cyrus Jones, looks to be the man to anchor the nickle position.

The front seven is as talented as it comes, highlighted by the elite linebacker tandem of Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins. The Patriots traded away edge rusher Chandler Jones and will rely heavily on a rotation that includes starters Jabaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich, as well as youngsters Geno Grissom and Trey Flowers. Not to mention new comer and former first-round pick Chris Long. Expect a big leap from tackle Malcom Brown.

Breakout Candidate: Joe Thuney, OG

2.) New York Jets

I anticipate the Jets to slide a little from their very successful 10-win campaign in 2015. Make no mistake this is a very talented team with a great head coach in Todd Bowles, but the Jets will also be fielding the oldest unit in the league this season and they didn’t get any younger with the additions of Matt Forte and Ryan Clady.

The offense ran well under Ryan Fitzpatrick last year and, after a lengthy holdout, finally brought the 33 year-old back. He has two top flight targets in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. The question remains who is after that? This will be a big year for former-second round pick Jace Amaro at the tight end position. He needs to prove himself with consistent hands and the ability to stay healthy.

Antonio Cromartie was cut once the offseason opened and Darrelle Revis, at 31, finally started showing signs of his play declining. The big gamble will be the movement of cornerback Buster Skrine from the nickle position to an outside cornerback. If it doesn’t pan out, expect him to shift back and Marcus Williams to man the outside. He led the team with six interceptions last season.

Age will be the calling card for Gang Green in ’16, but they are starting to build a youth movement on defense. Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Leonard Williams form arguably the best defensive line in football. And at linebacker rush ends Lorenzo Mauldin and rookie Jordan Jenkins could form into a dangerous tandem.

Breakout Candidate: Marcus Williams, CB

3.) Buffalo Bills

Here is where things get muddy. The Bills and the Dolphins could easily flip-flop, but I’m going with the more organizationally grounded team for the bronze. Year One under head coach Rex Ryan was something else. The team finished better in total offense (13th) than defense (19th). Very odd for a Ryan unit.

The Bills posted the best rushing attack in the league last year with LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams leading the backfield. But over the offseason Williams ballooned up to 260-pounds and was cut. They’ll need help from rookie Jonathan Williams and veteran Reggie Bush. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was second on the team in rushing.

Speaking of Taylor, what a year for him last year. Signed from Baltimore obscurity and given the keys to car in Buffalo. And overall? He performed pretty well, surpassing 3,000-yards and throwing 20 touchdowns to just six interceptions. Of course it helps when being protected by one of the most underrated lines in the league. It was good to see Sammy Watkins finally breakout for a 1,000 yard season.

The defense is simply in shambles. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has been suspended the first four games for substance abuse and has since checked himself into a treatment facility. First-round pick Shaq Lawson underwent surgery and could potentially miss the whole season. Second-round pick Reggie Ragland tore his ACL and will, in fact, miss the entire season. Both were expected to start.

It’s always important to find a silver lining, though. In that case, club house cancer Mario Williams is no longer with the team and team captain Kyle Williams is back from injury. The Bills can also rest their hat on the emergence of a possibly elite cornerback tandem of Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby.

Breakout Candidate: Ronald Darby, CB

4.) Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are rebuilding, but have a lot of upside. They have a lot of dynamic young talent on offense and by bringing in top coaching prospect Adam Gase to run the team, could maximize their ability much sooner than later. And the first place to look at is the wide receiver group which boasts Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and speedster Kenny Stills.

The big question mark is in the backfield. The club’s old regime never fully utilized former running back Lamar Miller. He’s gone and that leaves a platoon of Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake, and Arian Foster. All three have the potential to have a 1,000 season, the only question is who? The team will give Ajayi first crack.

Where the offense packs a punch, the back seven of the Dolphins defense doesn’t. The Dolphins swapped picks with the Eagles during the draft and also took the Eagles salary dump in the form of Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell. Alonso, has a wealth of talent, but has had trouble staying healthy going back as far as his Oregon days. The bright spot is unheralded Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones.

The teeth of the Dolphins’ D comes from their front four which boasts Ndamukong Suh, Mario Williams, and Cameron Wake. Wake is coming off an Achilles injury at 34 and will be unproven until Week 1. Williams, should have a bounce back year at his natural end position in a 4-3 defense.

Breakout Candidate: DeVante Parker, WR

2016 NFC East Preview

Each team in the NFC East has one the division at least once over the past five, with the Washington Redskins being the only repeat winner. Yeah, that’s right this division makes no sense.

Last year the Washington Redskins finally got out of their own way and ended the quarterback controversy that surrounded the team for the previous two seasons to put together a successful campaign and took advantage of the injury bug breaking down the Dallas Cowboys, to come out on top of the division. The celebration was short lived as they went one-and-done, getting blown out by the Green Bay Packers on Wild Card Weekend.

The division always seems to be in flux and this year only highlights the notion as both the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles have new (and first time) head coaches in Ben McAdoo and Doug Pederson, respectively. With some new faces in the crowd, lets take a look at how things could shape up this year.

1.) Dallas Cowboys

Much like last year, this is a very, very speculative placement. The Cowboys effectively have all the pieces to make a serious post-season run, but there is an “if”. They can make a strong post-season run “if” they stay healthy.

Tony Romo, played in only four games last season and isn’t getting any younger. The man is protected by, arguably, the best line in football, but Romo has a lengthy injury history and while he has admirably battled through many of them, the question must be asked: how much more of a beating can he take?

Rookie fourth-round pick Dak Prescott has been a pre-season sensation, but the team would like not to use that insurance policy. Instead, expect them to lean heavily on a running game that boasts two 1,000-yard rushers Alred Morris and Darren McFadden, as well as the fourth-overall pick in Ezekiel Elliott.

On defense, character issues are the major story line. Poised to release one of the most young and dynamic pass rushes in the league, the Cowboys were hammered by news that both Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence both received four-game suspensions for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

It was such an issue that Gregory checked himself into a rehabilitation facility and potentially could face another six games added to his suspension. And if that were to take place, Gregory would become the second Cowboy to be hit with a 10-game suspension as starting middle linebacker Rolando McClain was also hit with a 10-game suspension.

Breakout Candidate: Byron Jones, S

2.) Washington Redskins

Should the Cowboys falter, the Redskins should claim the division. Of course, a lot of that rides on the continued development of quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins, took the reins of the franchise last season and turned in a quality season with over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns to 11 interceptions.

The Redskins took steps to bolster his arsenal by adding veteran tight end Vernon Davis as an insurance policy to oft-injured star Jordan Reed. They also spent their first-round pick on receiver Josh Doctson, giving Cousins a potent trio of receivers including DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. The big question mark comes at running back where Matt Jones will be heavily relied on.

The team was hoping to get more from the defense after finishing the season 28th in total defense last year, but took an early hit when pass rusher Junior Galette was lost for the season, after he suffered a torn Achilles. His second in as many seasons.

To replace the pass rush threat opposite of Ryan Kerrigan will be last year’s second-round pick Preston Smith, who impressed as a rookie with eight sacks. Any quarterback pressure will be welcomed by a shape-shifting secondary that will see long time starter DeAngelo Hall move from cornerback to safety and a new comer in lockdown corner Josh Norman — cannot wait for those match-ups against the Giants!

Breakout Candidate: Preston Smith, OLB

3.) New York Giants

In his two seasons under offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo (now head coach), Eli Manning has attempted more passes than at any other time in his 12 year career. That’s a lot to ask an aging quarterback, but Manning has risen to the occasion consistently completing over 60% of his passes, surpassing over 4,000 yards, and tossing at least 30 touchdowns each season. Good right?

Well, he’s also thrown 28 interceptions and only won 12 games, despite having Odell Beckham Jr. to throw to, who has emerged as one of the best wide receivers in the game. The the problem has come from three areas 1) no true secondary target after Beckham, 2) an oft-injured and vastly under-performing line, and 3) virtually no running attack.

The defense has been average at best over this time as well, which is why the Giants went out and spent $200 million on defensive players Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Janoris Jenkins. While they helped out the front four and the secondary, the linebacking corps still leaves much to be desired.

The G-Men are still a ways away from contending for division supremacy again. They need help at the safety position, could upgrade virtually any of the linebacking spots, and Victor Cruz needs to get healthy again. While, there’s not much the team can do for that last part, they still need to bolster Manning’s weapons to succeed.

Breakout Candidate: Sterling Shepard, WR

4.) Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles made splash after splash this offseason. First was firing head coach Chip Kelly, then hiring first time head coach (and former-Eagles quarterback) Doug Pederson, followed by GM Howie Roseman purging the roster of Kelly’s high priced signings, then trading up for the second overall pick in the draft, and lastly was the massive $103 million resigning of Fletcher Cox.

The team left many scratching their heads by how they handled the quarterback position. They resigned Sam Bradford to starter money, then signed backup Chase Daniel to a very lucrative contract, but once they traded up to second overall and selected quarterback Carson Wentz, Bradford requested to be moved, but eventually backed down. This mess has led to a whole new type of quarterback controversy.

On defense, things were much simpler. Cox got his mega contract and earned it. He’s one of the most disruptive interior players in the league and the main building block for the Eagles’ defense. The tricky part for the defense, will be transitioning from a 3-4 to 4-3 base defense, leaving one end spot up for grabs.

The secondary has a lot of room for growth. They added a lot of pieces during free agency in the shape of safety Rodney McLeod and cornerbacks Ron Brooks and Leodis McKelvin. A lot of the leadership comes from strong safety Malcolm Jenkins, who had a tremendous season last year and led the team in tackles with 109.

Breakout Candidate: Jordan Hicks, ILB

2017 Hall of Fame Predictions

The 2016 NFL season is officially underway with tonight’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It’s a night of absolute legends with Brett Favre, Marvin Harrison, Tony Dungy, Kevin Greene, Orlando Pace, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Kenny Stabler, and Dick Stanfel all entering the hallowed halls of Canton.

At moments like these it’s hard to not think of those who are missing from the Hall. As the NFL floods our minds with highlight reels of miraculous plays and legendary drives, we often start to think “well what about so-and-so” or ask our friends for reaffirmation that (insert name here) is already inducted, only to find out he is not.

So in that light, lets look ahead at the potential class of 2017. After running through the history books. We narrowed it down to these eight, assuming the class is an eight man class again. Here is who we have come up with…

1.) Don Coryell, Head Coach
St. Louis Cardinals/San Diego Chargers

It should be considered a crime that Coryell is not already in the Hall. When people hear the name, they instantly recall the “Air Coryell” offense and for good reason. A dynamic innovator, the offensive scheme Coryell ran helped introduce the likes of the “move” tight end (in the shape of Hall-of-Famer Kellen Winslow) and the one running back backfield. After winning the Super Bowl in 1999, St. Louis Rams head coach Dick Vermeil noted that their offensive, nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf”, was founded by using Coryell’s philosophy.

Then there is Coryell’s coaching tree, where you will find Hall-of-Fame coaches John Madden and Joe Gibbs getting their start. Not to mention famous coordinators Ernie Zampese and Al Saunders. While he may not have the most wins in history (111) and posts a 3-6 playoff record, Coryell did change the game forever and in the process developed four Hall of Fame players (Winslow, Dan Fouts, Charlie Jonier, and Fred Dean) and two Hall of Fame coordinators. That pretty much says it all.

2.) Everson Walls, Cornerback
Dallas Cowboys/New York Giants/Cleveland Browns

Another criminal absence. Of the 24 defensive backs already enshrined in the Hall of Fame today, Walls has more career interceptions (57) than 16 of them. That says a lot. He was a four time Pro Bowler and a first or second-team All Pro three times. In fact, until the likes of future Hall-of-Famer Ed Reed, Walls was the only man in NFL history to lead the league in interceptions three times. An impressive resume for any player, but especially for one who went undrafted.

Some may think of Walls as the player on the wrong side of Dwight Clark’s infamous play “The Catch”, that sent the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XVI. But did Walls ever atone. After he joining the New York Giants, Walls made a critical play, tackling Thurman Thomas in the open field late in fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXV. Erasing a potential touchdown and keeping the score 20-19, the stage was set for another infamous play as Buffalo Bills’ kicker Scott Norwood would go on to miss his field goal thus anointing the New York Giants Super Bowl champs.

3.) Isaac Bruce, Wide Receiver
St. Louis Rams/San Francisco 49ers

Ninth all-time in receptions, fourth all-time in receiving yards, and 12th all-time in touchdown receptions make the case for Isaac Bruce simple. A five time Pro Bowl player, Bruce’s consistency help aid the hardships of a team relocating from Los Angeles to St. Louis.

In his second season, the team’s first in St. Louis, Bruce boosted his stats from 21-272-3 as a rookie on a 4-12 team to 119-1,781-13 on a 7-9 team. He would lead the league in receiving yards in 1996 and in 1999 (his lone AP All-Pro season), Bruce would haul in the (eventual) game winning 73-yard touchdown from Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXIV. The argument is simple here.

4.) Ty Law, Cornerback
New England Patriots/New York Jets/Kansas City Chiefs/Denver Broncos

Law was one of the best cornerbacks in the league while in his prime and played with swagger as if he were the best. A five time Pro Bowler, two time AP All Pro, and two time league leader in interceptions illustrates just how dominate he was. A measure further displayed by being named to the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team. Law, was one of the vital cogs to the New England Patriots Super Bowl championship run of the early 2000s, making big plays at the biggest moments.

First making his impact by intercepting the Rams’ Kurt Warner and returning it 47 yards for a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVI, which gave the Patriots their first points of the game, which they would go on to win 20-17. Then, two years later, Law would intercept Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning three times in the AFC Championship to send the Patriots back to their second Super Bowl in three years.

5.) Alan Faneca, Guard
Pittsburgh Steelers/New York Jets/Arizona Cardinals

The linemen never get enough respect. Faneca, easily, should have been enshrined in his first year of eligibility. A Pro Bowler nine times, a first or second-team All Pro player eight times and a member of the NFL’s 2000 All-Decade team, Faneca was consistently elite. Not only did he help pave the way for Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis, but he helped establish Willie Parker as an effective ground game element in 2005 that ended with the team beating the Seattle Seahawks to win Super Bowl XL.

In 2008 he signed with the New York Jets as Rex Ryan took control of his first ever head coaching job and was looking to add veteran leadership. Faneca, made an instant impact on the field and in the locker room. Over his two seasons with the team, Faneca helped the Jets churn out over 4,000 rushing yards and make it to the AFC Championship in 2009 after making the postseason as a Wild Card team.

6.) Terrell Owens, Wide Receiver
San Francisco 49ers/Philadelphia Eagles/Dallas Cowboys/Buffalo Bills/Cincinnati Bengals

Owens slight this year is offensive. Say what you will about his antics off the field, Owens should have been a first ballot hall-of-famer by every logical means. The Hall is the crowning achievement of what you do ON the field and during his time in the league no one (arguably) did it better. Sixth all-time in receptions, second all-time in receiving yards, and third all-time in touchdowns receptions? Are you kidding? How is that guy not in first go-around? And I’m saying this not as a TO supporter, but as someone who looks at the numbers.

Sure, Owens flamed out in multiple spots, but give the man credit. Few have tried so hard to be great and achieved it. A third-round selection out of the lowly UT-Chattanooga, Owens maximized his potential to become a six time Pro Bowler, five time first-team All Pro, and member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade team. Lets not forget the player who led the Eagles with nine receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXIX despite having surgery less than a month and a half before the game to insert two screws and a plate. That is incredible.

7.) LaDanian Tomlinson, Running Back
San Diego Chargers/New York Jets

Next year will be Tomlinson’s first year of eligibility and it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways: Tomlinson is a first ballot hall-of-famer. His numbers are staggering when looking back over them. It is incredible what he did in just 11 years and in retrospect it seems a bit ironic that he played for the “Bolts”.

The meat of Tomlinson’s career numbers came in just nine years, in which Tomlinson torched the NFL for 11,760 yards and 126 touchdowns. That is nine straight years of rushing for at least 1,100 yards. It is truly Barry Sanders-esque what Tomlinson was able to accomplish. His only two years in New York, were the only two in which he didn’t have double digit touchdowns. He retired as the fifth all-time in rushing yards and second in rushing touchdowns.

8.) Jason Taylor, Defensive End
Miami Dolphins/New York Jets/Washington Redskins

Another first-year eligible player who should make it is Taylor. He may yet have to wait a year, but if the senior committee nomination(s) and contributor nomination are accepted and we have an eight man class Taylor is number eight.

The list of accolades speak for themselves: sixth all-time in sacks (139.5), six Pro Bowls, four All Pros, 2006 Defensive Player of the Year. From 2000 to 2007 there was simply no pass rusher more dominate than Taylor. Having played basketball in addition to football while attending the University of Akron, the 6’6″ Taylor learned to use his length to dominate left tackles around the league. The battles between Taylor and division rival New England Patriots tackle Matt Light provided some of the greatest trench battles/rivalries of the early 2000s.

2016 NFL Draft Grades: NFC West

The argument could be had that the NFC West is the best division in football and few would argue. Over the last five years the NFC West has delivered, at least, one team to the NFC Championship game and in three consecutive years had a team in the Super Bowl (San Francisco in 2012 and Seattle 2013-14).

Yeah, they’re that good. And with the Rams moving back to Los Angeles after a 20-year stint in St. Louis, it should only be more fun to watch. But some teams have fallen on tough times.

LA has floundered around mediocrity and this may be Jeff Fisher’s make it-or-break it year. Then there is San Francisco, who after a return to glory under head coach  Jim Harbaugh, suffered an ugly divorce and then failed to sustain any success with his successor Jim Tomsula, who was fired after one year and replaced with Chip Kelly.

There is a lot to anxiousness in seeing what the NFC West will do next, whether it’s free agency or the draft. There is, now, an expectation that whoever comes in to one of these four teams will be another piece of a Super Bowl contender. So lets breakdown who was brought in over this year’s draft weekend…

Arizona Cardinals: B+
1.) Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
3.) Brandon Williams, CB, Texas A&M
4.) Evan Boehm, C, Missouri
5.) Marqui Christian, S, Midwestern St.
5.) Cole Toner, OT, Harvard
6.) Harlan Miller, CB, SE Louisiana

A big part of this grade comes from their second-round pick, which they traded (with first-round bust Jonathan Cooper) to New England for pass rusher Chandler Jones, their biggest need. Nkemdiche, was the perfect selection for the Cards. In a locker room with so much leadership and accountability, Bruce Arians will make his character red flags a thing of the past (see: Tyrann Mathieu). Cornerback was a major area of need and Williams seems to be part of the answer. An intriguing choice as he has only played one season at the position, having played running back until his senior season. Christian, is a classic small-school stud who should excel in the desert. Toner, has starter upside on the right side. Miller will fight for a spot, but was a three-year starter and has the upside to work with.

Sleeper: Evan Boehm
The Cardinals have struggled to find a permanent answer at center for years. Boehm, may be what they were looking for. He holds the record for career starts at Mizzou and relies on his wrestling background to effectively leverage and drive against opposing players. He should start Day One, but his progress over the season will be pivotal.

Los Angeles Rams: C+
1.) Jared Goff, QB, Cal
4.) Tyler Higbee, TE, Western Kentucky
4.) Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina
6.) Temarrick Hemingway, TE, South Carolina St.
6.) Josh Forrest, ILB, Kentucky
6.) Mike Thomas, WR, Southern Miss

The Rams broke the bank to move up and select Goff. The California kid should feel right at home with the team back in LA, but he’ll still have to win a training camp battle against Case Keenum to start Week 1. That could be tough as Keenum has developed enough to be a game manager and has the command of the locker room. Higbee, was arrested 18 days before the draft for assault. The Rams must have vetted the incident enough to take a chance on him. He is a reliable option over the middle of the field. Hemingway, has developmental upside. Forrest, is another fast flowing linebacker who should fit in nicely as a depth piece.

Sleeper: Pharoh Cooper
Cooper isn’t the biggest target, but man, does he produce. He posted 135 receptions for 2,109 yards and 17 touchdowns in two years on subpar South Carolina teams. With a weak receiving corps in LA, don’t be surprised if Cooper starts taking over.

San Francisco 49ers: B-
1.) DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
1.) Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford
3.) Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi St.
4.) Rashard Robinson, CB, LSU
5.) Ronald Blair, DE, Appalachian St.
5.) John Theus, OT, Georgia
5.) Fahn Cooper, OT, Ole Miss
6.) Jeff Driskel, QB, Louisiana Tech
6.) Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida
6.) Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan St.
7.) Prince Charles Iworah, CB, Western Kentucky

The Niners are rebuilding, but things could be exciting with Kelly prowling the sidelines. And luckily, he doesn’t control the roster (which did him in in Philly). And even then, Kelly still got an ex-Duck of his. Buckner, should start be mid-season. Garnett, was a surprise, but with the departure of Alex Boone and little depth behind him, you have to protect your quarterback. Redmond and Robinson, addressed their biggest need. Redmond, has ideal size and versatility to contribute early. Robinson, has major red flags after being suspended from LSU, but the raw talent is there. Theus and Cooper, add depth and starter upside. Cooper, could transition to guard. Burbridge, could surprise over time. A late bloomer, he turned into the go-to man in East Lansing in 2015.

Sleeper: Ronald Bleir
He has the size you look for in a five-technique and could develop into a quality rotation player. He had 32 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks over the past two seasons. If he can handle the jump in competition, he could turn into something.

Seattle Seahawks: C+
1.) Germain Ifedi, OG, Texas A&M
2.) Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
3.) C.J. Proise, RB, Notre Dame
3.) Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio St.
3.) Rees Odhiambo, OG, Boise St.
5.) Quinton Jefferson, DT, Maryland
5.) Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
6.) Joey Hunt, C, TCU
7.) Kenny Lawler, WR, Cal
7.) Zac Brooks, RB, Clemson

The Seahawks are built to be perennial contenders for the Lombardi trophy, but the roster has been hemorrhaging talent lately and the cupboards are getting bare. Non more noticeably than along the offensive line. Ifedi, has all the talent in the world, but has sloppy technique. Line coach Tom Cable should get Ifedi ready to be a Day One starter. Not that they really have a choice. Same goes for Reed. The team was first against the rush, but then lost Brandon Mebane leaving not much behind him. Reed will start at some point as a rookie. The Seahawks run on running backs shows how important Marshawn Lynch was to the team. Proise, might be better in the long run, but for rookie impact you have to look at Alex Collins to be the complimentary back to Thomas Rawls. Vannett, seems to be a security blanket if Jimmy Graham isn’t 100% coming off his injury. Jefferon adds depth as well.

Sleeper: Rees Odhiambo
The Sehawks line is in shambles and, if things get worse, you could see Odhiambo make a rookie appearance. He is massive and has the versatility coaches love. However, he does have some injury concerns. But a great depth piece with starter upside for this prospect, who didn’t even play football until high school.

2016 NFL Grades: NFC South

The NFC South has always been notorious for having a high turnover rate. The division, as we know it now, had not had a back-to-back division champion in its first ten years, until the Carolina Panthers broke the streak by holding onto the crown with a 7-8-1 record in 2014. So, what transpired in 2015?

The Panthers tallied the best record in the NFL at 15-1, quarterback Cam Newton won the league MVP, and the team made it to the Super Bowl. The Atlanta Falcons topped out at 8-8 under first time head coach Gus Bradley. The New Orleans Saints continued to tread the water at 7-9 while continuing to rapidly rebuild around their future hall-of-fame quarterback Drew Brees. Then there is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who made a marked four win improvement in head coach Lovie Smith’s second year on the job, and yet was still fired after the season.

As for 2016, it’s anyone’s ballgame. Of course, the Panthers have the inside track but the Falcons are clearly building something exciting and the Saints are always eligible to steal a division title with Brees under center. The Bucs are in flux, but have some of the best young talent in the league. And speaking of which, here is how each team fared with their own youth injections via the draft.

Falcons: C
1.) Keanu Neal, S, Florida
2.) Deion Jones, OLB, LSU
3.) Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford
4.) De’Vondre Campbell, OLB, Minnesota
6.) Wes Schweitzer, OG, San Jose St.
7.) Devin Fuller, WR, UCLA

It’s clear that Bradley has a distinct plan for the Atlanta Falcons and it’s fast. Neal and Jones addressed massive needs that had plagued the Falcons for the past few years. Neal, has some limitations in coverage and Jones, only started for on year at LSU, but both could earn starting positions. Hooper, is the latest ex-Cardinal tight end to wind up in the league. He could become the security blanket quarterback Matt Ryan hasn’t had since Tony Gonzalez retired.

Sleeper: De’Vondre Campbell
Campbell, is a high character team leader who racked up 92 tackles and four sacks in his final season as a Golden Gopher. He can fly around the field and can add something to pass rush. It will be interesting to see if he reaches his full potential.

Panthers: D+
1.) Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
2.) James Bradberry, CB, Samford
3.) Daryl Worley, CB, West Virginia
5.) Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma
7.) Beau Sandland, TE, Montana St.

Give credit to GM Dave Gettleman for sticking to his draft board, but this whole thing was perplexing. The selection of Butler isn’t the worst thing. Vets Kawaan Short and Star Lotulelei will become free agents over the next two years and, most likely, only one will be retained. From there though, it seemed like reaches. Bradberry and Worley have good size, but come with questions. Bradberry, despite being a four-year starter, still has concerns over the level of competition and his ability to play man. Worley, like Bradberry, is a bit stiff and has red flags off field. Sandland has plenty of talent, but is incredibly raw.

Sleeper: Zack Sanchez
Over three years at Oklahoma, Sanchez racked up 15 interceptions and broke up 28 passes. The numbers speak for themselves. He is an absolute ballhawk on one hand and on the other needs a lot of help with his footwork and technique. A lot of potential here though.

Saints: C+
1.) Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
2.) Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio St.
2.) Vonn Bell, S, Ohio St.
4.) David Onyemata, DT, Manitoba
7.) Daniel Lasco, RB, Cal

The Saints defense has been atrocious in recent years, so it came as no surprise when New Orleans tabbed Rankins as their first-round pick. The lack of depth and poor play along the interior defensive line all but assures Rankins will be a Day One starter. However, a player with his motor should take some opponents’ attention away from veteran pass rusher Cameron Jordan. Thomas, should thrive in New Orleans playing the possession receiver role that Marques Colston perfected for so many years with Drew Brees. Bell, is a dynamic defensive back. He offers insurance behind the oft-injured Jairus Byrd and could offer some assistance as a nickleback.

Sleeper: David Onyemata
Four years ago the Saints with their third-round selection Akiem Hicks out of the University of Regina. This year they tabbed another Canadian in Onyemata. Onyemata is raw, but his tape and week at the Senior Bowl highlight the nastiness and athleticism to excel at the next level, should he develop properly.

Buccaneers: B+
1.) Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
2.) Noah Spence, DE, Western Kentucky
2.) Roberto Aguayo, K, Florida St.
4.) Ryan Smith, CB, North Carolina Central
5.) Caleb Benenoch, OT, UCLA
6.) Devante Bond, OLB, Oklahoma
6.) Dan Vitale, FB, Northwestern

Since joining the team in 2014, general manager Jason Licht has added six starters to the Bucs lineup. That’s an impressive feat in a short amount of time and he could potentially be adding four more after this 2016 haul. Hargreaves was a gift at No. 11 overall. They moved back and still got their guy, that’s how you manage the draft (unsurprisingly Licht comes from the New England management tree.) Spence, in the second is nothing but good value. It won’t be a shock to see him starting by year’s end. Smith, could develop into a starter after a year or two. Benenoch and Bond are depth selections. Vitale, is a quality bulldozer for Doug Martin and he has good hands out of the backfield to boot.

Sleeper: Roberto Aguayo
That’s right a kicker is the Bucs’ sleeper. Some view them as a necessary evil, but nothing is more pivotal than a consistently great kicker. And for years, the Bucs’ kickers have been marred by a rotating door of poor play, injury, old age, and MRSA. Insert Aguayo, the most accurate kicker in NCAA history. He is so good he left school early to go into the draft and then the Bucs traded up for him!

2016 NFL Draft Grades: NFC North

Entering the 2015 season, the Detroit Lions were considered a team to make a quality push for the playoffs following a Wild Card birth in 2014. However, the Lions stumbled out of the gates to a 1-7 start. That left the gates open for the Minnesota Vikings, who won the division after improving from 7-9 to 11-5 in head coach Mike Zimmer’s second year steering the ship.

The Lions lost All-Pro Calvin Johnson to retirement and have conducted a major overhaul of their front office. Head coach Jim Caldwell was kept on for a make or break season. In Chicago, the team had it’s growing pains under head coach Jim Fox’s first year in the Windy City. Then in Green Bay…well…they were Green Bay again. Some ups and downs, but ultimately they made their way into the playoffs yet again.

So, where does that leave us for 2016? Everything is up for grabs in the division that always seems to fluctuate from year to year. Lets breakdown there youngest addition to their rosters.

Chicago Bears: A
1.) Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
2.) Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas St.
3.) Jonathan Bullard, DT, Florida
4.) Nick Kwiatkowski, ILB, West Virginia
4.) Deon Bush, S, Miami
4.) Deiondre’ Hall, CB, Northern Iowa
5.) Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana
6.) DeAndre Houston-Carson, S, William & Mary
7.) Daniel Braverman, WR, Western Michigan

The Bears jumped up a few spots to take Floyd and he should fit well. It was so surprise, as the linebacking corps was lacking and Floyd could grow into a dynamic pass rusher. Kwiatkowski, is a throwback thumper who should excel in the 3-4. Whitehair, fills a need as well and gives them a versatile interior lineman who could very well be a Day One starter. Bullard is a versatile five-technique. Hall and Houston-Caron gives the Bears versatile and big defenders in the secondary. Bush, is a heat-seeking missile, but lacks in coverage. He could star as a special teams ace. Howard, adds to a youthful and talented backfield that will hope to ease the departure of longtime vet Matt Forte.

Sleeper: Daniel Braverman
The team lost Brandon Marshall, but will get last year’s first-round pick Kevin White back. That leaves the slot position virtually up for grabs. Braverman, is sneaky good. While undersized, he provides the hands, agility, and speed to really excel.

Detroit Lions: B
1.) Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio St.
2.) A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
3.) Graham Glasgow, C, Michigan
4.) Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah
5.) Joe Dahl, OG, Washington St.
5.) Antwione Williams, LB, Georgia Southern
6.) Jake Rudock, QB, Michigan
6.) Anthony Zettel, DT, Penn St.
6.) Jimmy Landes, LS, Baylor
7.) Dwayne Washington, RB, Washington

The Lions new GM Bob Quinn made things clear with his draft day approach: build from the inside out. The Lions are essentially rebuilding and landing mammoth building blocks in Decker, Robinson, and Glasgow provide Detroit with pieces they could have for the next ten years. Dahl and Zettel, provide depth and versatility as they continue to grow. Killebrew never posted an interception in college but had over 100 tackles and 16 pass breakups as a senior. His development is worth watching in this new hybrid safety/linebacker role the NFL is trending towards. Is it really any surprise that someone from the Bill Belichick tree drafted a long snapper?

Sleeper: Antwione Williams
Williams, was everywhere in his two years at Georgia Southern. Williams has NFL size and can make things happen. As a senior he posted over 100 tackles and had four forced fumbles. He still has room to grow, but he could be a starter.

Green Bay Packers: B+
1.) Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
2.) Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
3.) Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah St.
4.) Blake Martinez, ILB, Stanford
4.) Dean Lowry, DE, Northwestern
5.) Trevor Davis, WR, Cal
6.) Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford

Like Detroit, Green Bay’s biggest needs came along the trenches and with their first two picks addressed the needs. Clark, could fill the shoes of B.J. Raji in his first year, but he could marinate for a year. The same goes for Spriggs. Lowry, gives the Packers a versatile five-technique who could develop into a quality role player. Fackrell, brings youth and depth to the pass rushers in the linebacking corps. It may seem like Julius Peppers can play forever, but will retire at some point and when he does Fackrell should be ready to go. The selection of Murphy in the sixth-round is an absolute value steal. He’ll become a valuable swing tackle.

Sleeper: Blake Martinez
Only a two year starter while at Stanford, Martinez shined when his number was called. He racked up back-to-back 100 tackle campaigns and has the athleticism to provide some better than average coverage. He could be a Day One starter.

Minnesota Vikings: B
1.) Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
2.) Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
4.) Willie Beavers, OT, Western Michigan
5.) Kentrell Brothers, ILB, Missouri
6.) Moritz Boehringer, WR, Germany
6.) David Morgan, TE, Texas-San Antonio
7.) Stephen Weatherly, OLB, Vanderbilt
7.) Jayron Kearse, S, Clemson

The Vikings are riding high after a great 2015 and turned their 2016 draft into an opportunity to bolster the depth of their roster. Treadwell, was a no-brainer in the first-round and provides an excellent compliment to last year’s breakout rookie receiver Stefon Diggs. Zimmer, is known as the cornerback whisperer, so the Alexander selection wasn’t too shocking. He should excel as the team’s nickleback in time. Beavers and Brothers provide malleable talent with starter upside. Kearse, is a giant who could become a special teams ace.

Sleeper: Moritz Boehringer
We all know the story. First foreign football player ever drafted. Their have been other foreign players to make it to the NFL, but they came through the draft via American colleges. Hollywood script aside, this is a great selection. Addressed a need and has the size and raw talent to potentially develop into a high caliber receiver. A player certainly worth watching develop.

2016 NFL Draft Grades: NFC East

It was yet another wild and crazy season in the always unpredictable NFC East. After a huge playoff run in 2014, the Dallas Cowboys entered the season as the division favorites and failed to repeat due to Tony Romo going down with an injury. Even then, the Cowboys were in the midst of a media maelstrom having signed Greg Hardy, a convicted woman abuser.

But that wasn’t all. The Eagles plummeted after Chip Kelly was given full control of the roster. He lost the locker room and subsequently fired. The Giants lost their long-time head coach Tom Coughlin, who was virtually pushed out. As for the Redskins, ownership finally succumbed to reality and benched Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy winner who Washington sacrificed three years of first-round picks to move up and select, and they ended up the division winner.

With each team trying to push past the issues of 2015, each team put their attention on the draft to continue to distance themselves from the previous seasons media circuses. It didn’t take long either, as the Eagles shipped a boat load of picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up to second overall. Here is how the rest of the draft shook out.

Dallas Cowboys: A
1.) Ezekiel Elliott, RB Ohio St.
2.) Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame
3.) Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska
4.) Charles Tapper, DE, Oklahoma
4.) Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi St.
6.) Anthony Brown, CB, Purdue
6.) Kavon Frazier, S, Central Michigan
6.) Darius Jackson, RB, Eastern Michigan
6.) Rico Gathers, TE, Baylor

The Cowboys have done great each year with Stephen Jones, taking over as the loudest voice in the room. The Cowboys stuck to their board and got a huge weapon in Elliott. The team got tremendous value in Smith, early in the Round 2. Smith, was a lock Top 5 pick before blowing out his knee. They must have faith in the medicals to make this selection and if Smith returns to full health — look out. Collins and Tapper, are perfect fits for the Cowboys Tampa-2 defense. Tapper could grow into a starter sooner than later. Prescott, finally gives Dallas a legitimate backup and potential heir apparent to Tony Romo.

Sleeper: Rico Gathers
This is a no risk, huge reward pick. Gathers, was a standout basketball at Baylor over the past three years and hasn’t played football since middle school. However, all you need to do is look at Antonio Gates. A basketball star at Kent State turned undrafted prospect, turned future NFL Hall-of-Famer. I’m not saying Gathers is going to go to the hall of fame, but he has the size and skill set to excel.

New York Giants: B
1.) Eli Apple, CB, Ohio St.
2.) Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
3.) Brandian Thompson, S, Boise St.
4.) B.J. Goodson, ILB, Clemson
5.) Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA
6.) Jerrell Adams, TE, South Carolina

The Giants surprised many by selecting Apple over Florida Gator Vernon Hargreaves. There is star potential with good size and movement skills, but he is raw and is a bit overly physical with receivers which could lead to flags. Shepard is the perfect pick for Giants new head coach Bob McAdoo’s west coast offense. He is a sharp route runner and has vacuums for hands. Thompson, could develop into a quality center fielder for the G-Men and allows Landon Collins to play more in the box. Goodson and Perkins add depth extra bodies to positions under producing.

Sleeper: Jerrell Adams
The Giants always seem to pluck tight ends out of obscurity and turn them into quality starters. Adams could be the next. He isn’t the most elite blocker, but is an absolute matchup nightmare with his size-to-speed ratio and strong hands.

Philadelphia Eagles: C+
1.) Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota St.
3.) Isaac Seumalo, OG, Oregon St.
5.) Wendell Smallwood, RB, West Virginia
5.) Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OT, TCU
6.) Blake Countless, CB, Auburn
7.) Jalen Mills, S, LSU
7.) Alex McCalister, OLB, Florida
7.) Joe Walker, ILB, Oregon

The Eagles made a big leap up to get Wentz. While, the ability is evident as he lead a powerhouse school in the FCS division, the jump in competition wil have to be something to watch. Also, the Eagles muddied their quarterback position due to the selection, having already invested a lot of guaranteed money to veterans Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. Seumalo, is a raw talent with tremendous strength. Smallwood, averaged 116 yards a game last season and has good hands out of the backfield, but has some serious red-flags off the field. Vaitai, besides having an awesome name, has starter upside and tremendous size, but is very raw.

Sleeper: Jalen Mills
A versatile defensive back, Mills has the tools to succeed and excels in man coverage. He won’t mix it up in the running game, but could be a top-end nickleback. The only concerns are off-field issues and injuries.

Washington Redskins: B
1.) Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
2.) Su’a Cravens, LB, USC
3.) Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
5.) Matthew Ioannidis, DT, Temple
6.) Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana
7.) Steven Daniels, ILB, Boston College
7.) Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia

The Redskins stuck to their board and made a smart selection in Doctson. Many regarded him as the top receiver in the draft and with, potentially, two starting receivers up for free agency next year, Doctson gives them leverage. The Cardinals revolutionized the inside linebacker position after moving safety Deone Bucannon to the position. Cravens, fits the new hybrid linebacker/safety mold and is a tremendous talent. He can do anything and do it at a high level. Ioannidis, gives Washington a bully in the trenches. He is a classic five-technique, he has a nonstop motor and can set the edge. Marshall, was the fastest player at the combine.

Sleeper: Kendall Fuller
Fuller, could have been a first-round selection had it not been for tearing his meniscus three games into his junior year. A three-year starter, Fuller has the size and coverage skills to be a top corner.

2016 NFL Draft Grades: AFC West

The AFC West was the division that produced the 2015 Super Bowl Champions, the Denver Broncos. It was also the division that produced some of the more interesting storylines of the season, whether it be the Kansas City Chiefs and their incredible streak of 10 straight wins after starting the season 1-5 or the Oakland Raiders taking another step forward with dynamic young talent or the bizarre fall off by the San Diego Chargers.

It was a division that saw some major turnover as well. The revels of Super Bowl success were short lived, as a mass exodus from Denver saw six starters walk via free agency. San Diego brought back former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt to right the ship. With the stage set for all teams in the division to build up and restock, the draft was of keen interest. Especially for a depleted Broncos.

Denver Broncos: B
1.) Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
2.) Adam Gotsis, DT, Georgia Tech
3.) Justin Simmons, S, Boston College
4.) Devontae Booker, RB, Utah
5.) Connor McGovern, OG, Missouri
6.) Andy Janovich, FB, Nebraska
6.) Will Parks, S, Arizona
7.) Riley Dixon, P, Syracuse

With Peyton Manning retiring and Brock Osweiler departing via free agency, the team had virtually no quarterback. With Mark Sanchez, only serving as a stopgap, the Broncos moved aggressively to jump up and acquire Lynch. He could start by midseason. Gotsis, is the same unheralded addition that Derek Wolf was back in 2012. Simmons, gives the Broncos a quality safety to develop behind Darian Stewart. The offensive line was a problem last season, especially within the interior. McGovern, lives in the gym and has some roadgrading qualities to him.

Sleeper: Devontae Booker
Many thought Booker would be selected in the second-round, but he slid to the fourth. Can you say value? Booker, had over 2,700 yards and 20 touchdowns in just two years. He is the perfect fit for head coach Gary Kubiak’s zone offense.

Kansas City Chiefs: B-
2.) Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi St.
3.) KeiVarre Russell, CB, Notre Dame
4.) Parker Ehinger, OG, Cincinnati
4.) Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota
4.) Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida
5.) Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford
5.) Tyreek Hill, WR, West Alabama
6.) D.J. White, CB, Georgia Tech
6.) Dadi Nicolas, OLB, Virginia Tech

The Chiefs lost their third-round pick due to tampering charges over their acquiring of Jeremy Maclin in 2015. The Chiefs did a great job of working the draft to reacquire the pick and then some. Moving down and still landing Jones is solid, but Jones leaves a lot to desired. Russell, Murray, and White give the Chiefs a trio of young talent to develop. Russell, could grow into a starter. Ehinger, could be a Day One starter. Nicolas, is small, but has the raw tools to possibly become a pass rushing threat.

Sleeper: Kevin Hogan
Hogan, has the most wins as a starting quarterback in Stanford History. Think about that. Hogan, ran a pro-style offense for the Cardinal and has the ability to be a playmaker. He has a quirky throwing motion, but give him time and he could be Alex Smith’s heir.

Oakland Raiders: B
1.) Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
2.) Jihad Ward, DE, Illinois
3.) Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan St.
4.) Connor Cook, QB, Michigan St.
5.) DeAndre Washington, RB, Texas Tech
6.) Cory James, OLB, Colorado St.
7.) Vadal Alexander, OG, LSU

The Radiers were 26th in pass defense and their best player in the secondary, Charles Woodson, retired, leaving the safety position virtually empty. Insert Joseph. He only played in four games as a senior before tearing his ACL, but he already had five interceptions. Joseph, is expected to be ready to play in 2016 and he is a force at a safety. Ward and Calhoun, give depth and a bookend to All-Pro Khalil Mack. Ward, is versatile enough to play tackle as well. The decision to trade up to select Cook was smart. You’re only as good as your backup quarterback.

Sleeper: Vadal Alexander
He tested poorly during the draft process, disappointing many, but the game tape speaks for itself. He is a brute and versatile mauler, who could develop into a quality backup if not a starter.

San Diego Chargers: C+
1.) Joey Bosa, OLB, Ohio St.
2.) Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
3.) Max Tuerk, C, USC
4.) Joshua Perry, ILB, Ohio St.
5.) Jatavis Brown, ILB, Akron
6.) Drew Kaser, P, Texas A&M
6.) Derek Watt, FB, Wisconsin
7.) Donavon Clark, OG, Michigan St.

The Chargers draft was a curious one. An argument could be made that they reached with their first two picks and ignored more pressing needs. Regardless, Bosa could turn into a Ryan Kerrigan clone. Henry, is the heir to Antonio Gates once he retires. The Bolts have been very underwhelming at center for the past few seasons. Tuerk, has tremendous ability and movement skills but is undersized. He needs to add weight, but could be a Day One starter. Perry and Brown fix a lack of depth at inside linebacker. Perry, has starter upside. Kaser, has a field flipping leg.

Sleeper: Derek Watt
Yes, a fullback. Hear me out. The Chargers running game was terrible in 2015 and first-round pick Melvin Gordon was underwhelming. What better way to help pump some life into it than pairing Gordon with his old lead blocker? Smart pick.