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2018 NFL Cheat Sheet: NFC East

Over the past five years the Dallas Cowboys have won the division twice, the Philadelphia Eagles have won it twice, and even the Washington Redskins have stood atop the division. So, where do things stand ahead of 2018? Well by our breakdown it looks like this…

1.) Philadelphia Eagles
2.) New York Giants
3.) Dallas Cowboys
4.) Washington Redskins

Of course, the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles are atop the division, but there are some question marks surrounding them. None greater than the health of franchise quarterback Carson Wentz.

Wentz lead the Eagles to prominence in 2017, but after a knee injury in December sidelined the star it was backup Nick Foles that lead them on their improbable playoff run. And it will be Foles who starts the 2018 season as Wentz is still not fully recovered from the surgery to repair the ACL and LCL in his left knee.

Can Foles continue to be as efficient as he was in the post-season? Time will tell, but regardless the Eagles will want Wentz back sooner than later. Especially with the re-emergence of the G-Men and a budding defense in Dallas.

One Giant Step
The Giants won 11 games in 2016 and made the playoffs. The following year all hell broke loose. Eli Manning was benched, head coach Ben McAdoo was fired, as was GM Jerry Reese. In the months following the season, the G-Men hired Pat Shurmur as head coach and rehired Dave Gettleman to be their new GM.

From there, the duo began a major overhaul. First in free agency which saw the departure of long time veterans Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Pugh, and Weston Richburg and the arrive of Nate Solder, Alec Ogletree, and Jonathan Stewart. Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr received his record breaking contract extension that came in at five years and $95 million, with $65 million guaranteed. Plus there was their loaded draft class that welcomed in Saquon Barkley, Will Hernandez, and Lorenzo Carter among others.

But for all the new additions two big questions remain. Can new defensive coordinator James Bettcher successfully transform the Giants long time 4-3 front to a 3-4? And can Shurmur successfully raise Manning’s completion percentage away from his pedestrian career mark of 59.8%?

Defense Key in Dallas
The Cowboys offense ranked second overall in rushing and 26th overall in passing. Those numbers should tell you everything you need to know about the Dallas Cowboys offense heading into 2018. They hoot and holler about Dak Prescott taking more control over the offense this year, but it’s Ezekiel Elliott who takes the pressure off of Prescott and sets the table for his success.

If Elliot delivered Prescott the second best running attack in the league last year when Prescott still had Dez Bryant and Jason Witten as targets, how much of a step up will he really take with Cole Beasley and Allen Hurns as his starting receiving duo?

An unforeseen issue lies with All-Pro center Travis Frederick, who was diagnosed with Guillian-Bare Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes nerve pain and severe weakness. It seems to have been caught early, thankfully, yet in terms of football there is no timetable for Frederick to resume playing.

With so many question marks on offense, it will need to be a big year for the Cowboys defense. Loaded with young stars like DeMarcus Lawrence, Jaylon Smith, Jourdan Lewis, and Chidobe Awuzie the Cowboys defense as a whole will have to make that jump to the next level. Part of that includes veteran linebacker Sean Lee remaining healthy and fellow linebacker, rookie Leighton Vander Esch proving his first-round evaluation correct. They will also need a successful year from former safety-turned-cornerback Byron Jones. His versatility will be distinctly counted on.

DC Needs a Doctor
The long suffering Kirk Cousins is off to greener pastures. Now it’s Alex Smith’s turn. The veteran quarterback is now tabbed with the responsibility of bringing the Redskins back to the playoffs for the first time in three years. However, he doesn’t have a lot of weapons to work with.

The team is till hoping former first-round pick Josh Doctson will emerge. The other starting receivers are newly acquired Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder. Richardson had his best season last year with 44 receptions for 703 yards and touchdowns. Crowder led the team in receptions last year despite starting only six games. Behind them, the cupboard is pretty bare.

And if Alex Smith looks to the running game for help, he should keep looking. The promise of a resurgent ground game ended when rookie Derrius Guice was lost for the season because of a knee injury suffered during their preseason bout with the New England Patriots. Behind Guice is Samaje Perine who quickly picked up an injury and is on the mend, Chris Thompson who missed six games with injury last year, Rob Kelley who only played in seven games last year due to injury, and newly acquired Adrian Peterson who also missed six games last year with a neck injury.

But that’s okay, because if the Redskins stay healthy they’ll be protected by a quality offensive line started with Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams…who missed six games last year with injury. Are you seeing a trend yet?

Potential Breakout Stars
Dallas Cowboys: Jaylon Smith, LB
Smith, was set to be a Top 5 draft pick when he had a severe knee injury in his final collegiate game threaten his career. The Cowboys took a second round gamble on him and it paid off sooner than later. Smith, tallied 81 tackles in limited time last year. This season will be his first as a full time starter.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB
I know. Barkley, isn’t a surprise pick, but he’s simply too good to not be recognized. Barkley, will have all eyes on him this year. It will be interesting to see how the Giants offense will lean on Barkley.

Philadelphia Eagles: Sidney Jones, CB
Jones, like Smith, had first-round talent, but fell to the second-round after an Achilles injury during a pre-draft workout. Now back to 100%, Jones has the potential to be something special as he can line up outside the numbers and in the slot.

Washington Redskins: Fabian Moreau, CB
Another in the Smith and Jones camp, Moreau suffered an injury during his pro day before the draft and fell to the third-round. Starting behind the eight ball, Moreau only appeared in seven games as a rookie. Now healthy, he could become a terror against slot receivers.

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2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC North

The 2017 season for the NFC North went through Minnesota, who had a miracle run with their third string quarterback Case Keenum. After second stringer Sam Bradford went down with injury and star rookie Dalvin Cook was also lost, it was Keenum who steered the Vikings to a NFC Championship appearance.

And after all that, the Vikings still moved on from Keenum…and Bradford for that matter, and even Teddy Bridgewater, who before a gruesome knee injury was viewed as a franchise quarterback for them. Instead, they went out and signed Kirk Cousins. A signal to all that the Vikings are ready to win now.

Despite going 9-7, the Lions fired their head coach and brought in New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to lead the team. It’s not a rebuild as much as it is a re-envisioning. The Bears also tabbed a first time head coach to lead them in Matt Nagy, the former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator.

But for all this hope springing around the division, the Green Bay Packers are still the sleeping giants. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers only made it seven games before a broken clavicle ended his season. The Pack also made a mini shift in Brian Gutekunst taking over the GM position from longtime leader Ted Thompson.

So, how did Gutekunst and the rest of the new look NFC North due this weekend? Here’s the breakdown…

Chicago Bears: B+
1.) Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
2.) James Daniels, C, Iowa
2.) Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
4.) Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky
5.) Bilal Nichols, DT, Delaware
6.) Kylie Fitts, OLB, Utah
7.) Javon Wims, WR, Georgia

The Bears did a stellar job. Their first three picks could all start as rookies. Smith, is the defensive leader the Bears have needed for a long time. With veterans Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan injury prone, Smith could wrestle a starting spot for himself sooner than later. Some may find Daniels selection curious with a quality guard in Cody Whitehair already in place. Whitehair’s best position is guard, so by selecting Daniels (a potential Day One starter), the Bears now can shift Whitehair back to left guard and suddenly the Bears offensive line is a real strength. With the healthy duo of Allen Robinson and Kevin White, the Bears needed someone to work the middle of the field and that’s Miller. His last two years he totaled 191 catches for 2,896 yards and 32 touchdowns. Fitts and Wims are quality late round additions with who could grow into serviceable players.

Detroit Lions: B-
1.) Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
2.) Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
3.) Tracy Walker, S, Louisiana-Lafayette
4.) Da’shawn Hand, DT, Alabama
5.) Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon
7.) Nick Bawden, RB, San Diego St.

The Lions were aggressive in first time head coach Matt Patricia’s first draft. If there is one consistent thread through all of these picks it’s that all the players are big and physical. Ragnow, should start Day One (if healthy) and man the pivot. He’ll bring some nastiness to the trenches and that’s always a plus. Bringing in Crosby later in the draft continues to bring depth and nastiness. Like Ragnow, Crosby is a road grader. A right tackle by nature, but may kick inside to guard. He has starter upside. Johnson, in Round 2, is an intriguing pick. He is a massive running back who just ran all over the SEC last year, racking up 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns, while flashing the ability to be a playmaker in the passing game as well. The only downside there is injuries. With a big back, you also get a big target. Hand and Walker help bolster depth along the defense.

Green Bay Packers: B
1.) Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
2.) Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
3.) Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt
4.) J’mon Moore, WR, Missouri
5.) Cole Madison, OG, Washington St.
5.) JK Scott, P, Alabama
5.) Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, USF
6.) Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
7.) James Looney, DT, Cal
7.) Hunter Bradley, LS, Mississippi St.
7.) Kendall Donnerson, OLB, Southeast Missouri

Last season the Packers drafted a cornerback and a safety with their first two picks. And as you can see this year, brought in two more cornerbacks at the top of the draft. That is an incredible amount of capital spent on the secondary. Alexander, is a playmaker, who make work best in the slot while Jackson and Kevin King (last year’s top pick) work on the outside. Burks, was a bit of a reach, but should contribute on special teams and sub packages. He’s a bit of a Swiss army knife. The wide receiver additions is most interesting. All are well over six feet tall. Moore had the best college career, posting back to back 1,000 yard seasons and 18 touchdowns over the past two seasons. St. Brown, is raw but has the size to be a factor in the red zone. Valdes-Scantling, is the most intriguing. He is fast and can fly down field. If he continues to work on better route running, he could be a factor. The Scott addition is also worth noting. In a division that is becoming more and more contentious, a punter who can flip the field is a big asset.

Minnesota Vikings: B
1.) Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
2.) Brian O’Neill, OT, Pitt
4.) Jalyn Holmes, DE, Ohio St.
5.) Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan
5.) Daniel Carson, K, Auburn
6.) Colby Gossett, OG, Appalachian St.
6.) Ade Aruna, DE, Tulane
7.) Devante Downs, LB, Cal

The Vikings really fleshed out their roster with this draft. Hughes, is a classisc Mike Zimmer cornerback. He should make his way onto the field sooner than later. He has off the field concerns, but should he keep things in line, he’ll be a factor. O’Neill, offers great versatility. He could start at right tackle, he could be kicked inside to guard. Either way, they needed help in the trenches and they got some. Holmes, didn’t do much in college, but that could be more of a result of having such tremendous depth at defensive end at Ohio State. He has upside and could develop into something special. Remember that time the Vikings missed a field goal in the playoffs against the Seahawks? So does every Minnesotan. Hopefully Carson can become a steady contributor. He’s got the leg, the accuracy is the question.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: AFC West

In a year that many expected the Oakland Raiders to plant their flag atop the AFC West, it was the Kansas City Chiefs who won the crown. In fact the Oakland Raiders completely fell off, so much so that coach Jack Del Rio was fired and former head coach John Gruden was finally coaxed out of the press box.

The Denver Broncos also took a significant step back under first time head coach Vance Joseph. The team still thinks they have enough on defense to make a Super Bowl run and went out and signed Case Keenum to steer the ship. He and senior personnel advisor Gary Kubiak have familiarity going back to Houston.

There’s also the Chargers, who actually took a good step forward last year despite once again being decimated by injury. The team looks to be in good hands with Anthony Lynn. He brought in coordinators with head coaching experience in Gus Bradley (defense) and Ken Whisenhunt (offense) and that brain trust seems to be really clicking. Maybe Phillip Rivers has one last playoff race in him.

So with all these ups and downs in the division. Who is up and who is down after this weekend? Well here’s the breakdown…

Denver Broncos: A
1.) Bradley Chubb, OLB, NC State
2.) Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
3.) Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
3.) Isaac Yiadom, CB, Boston College
4.) Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa
4.) Daesean Hammilton, WR, Penn St.
5.) Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin
6.) Sam Jones, C, Arizona St.
6.) Keishawn Bierria, LB, Washington
7.) David Williams, RB, Arkansas

It was a dream come true for the Broncos when Chubb fell to them. They had already set up a trade with the Bills, but when Chubb fell to them they called it off. Arguably the best prospect in the draft, Chubb paired with Von Miller should give the quarterbacks of the AFC West night terrors. Chubb tallied 20 sacks and 46.5 tackles for loss in his last two seasons. Jewell and Bierria, also help flesh out the linebacking corps. Injuries and age are becoming an issue in the middle of their 3-4 defense. Jewell, is a tackling machine and should help sooner than later. He has starter upside. The addition of Sutton, Freeman, Hamilton, and Fumagalli tells us that the Broncos are confident that Case Keenum was not a one year wonder. They are bolstering his arsenal. Freeman, will be the most intriguing to watch. He is a tank and develop a good one, two punch while paired with Devontae Booker.

Kansas City Chiefs: C-
2.) Breeland Speaks, DT, Ole Miss
3.) Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida St.
3.) Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Clemson
4.) Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M
6.) Tremon Smith, CB, Central Arkansas
6.) Reginald McKenzie, OG, Tennessee

The Chiefs draft class is perplexing to say the least. After trading away Marcus Peters, cornerback became their greatest need and they waited until the sixth round to address that need. Instead they decided to address the defensive line with Speaks and Nnadi. Nnadi, is a quality addition as he can man the middle as the nose tackle. But Speaks will likely sit behind Chris Jones and Allen Bailey. Then there are Speaks’ off-field issues that are worth noting. Watts and O’Daniel are the teams best picks. O’Daniel can step in at inside linebacker, a position long held by Derrick Johnson, but he was cut during the offseason. Watts, provides depth and possible succession plan to veteran Ron Parker, who is good, but the Chiefs could get more out of the position. Watts had six interceptions over the past two seasons.

LA Chargers: B+
1.) Derwin James, S, Florida St.
2.) Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC
3.) Justin Jones, DT, NC State
4.) Kyzir White, S, West Virginia
5.) Scott Quessenberry, C, UCLA
6.) Dylan Cantrell, WR, Texas Tech
7.) Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern

The Chargers needed to rebuild their defense and have done so in tremendous fashion. James, was considered a Top 10 talent, and they got him at No. 17. James and White, are tone setters. Clearly the Bolts are looking to charge up their defense and these two safeties can do just that. White, can play the ball while James enforces the middle of the field. It will be fun to watch their development. Most pressing was their need along their linebacking corps. Nwosu, really progressed well at USC. He capped off his senior year with 75 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and 13 passes broken up. He’s a problem off the edge, but he may take a minute to adjust to the Chargers 4-3 system. Jones, is the rock LA needed in the middle. He can clog up the running lanes. Jackson, is a good prospect, but had an insane workload.

Oakland Raiders: C+
1.) Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
2.) PJ Hall, DT, Sam Houston St.
3.) Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T
3.) Arden Key, DE, LSU
4.) Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin
5.) Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
5.) Johnny Townsend, P, Florida
6.) Azeem Victor, LB, Washington
7.) Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma St.

The Raiders did a lot of interesting things in the draft, none more so than the selection of Nelson and Hurst. Both were considered Day Two prospects, but Nelson was injured during a pre-draft workout and Hurst was found to have a heart condition at the combine, which he was eventually cleared of. Both players have immense talent and could develop into starters. They will be worth watching. Oakland also took a flier on Arden Key. He was viewed as one of the best pass rushing prospects in the nation coming into the season last year, but he was out of shape and tallied just four sacks after tallying 12 in 2016. If Key has gotten past his issues, he could be a steal. Clearly, new head coach John Gruden didn’t like the tackles he inherited. Miller, could start on the right side as a rookie before eventually replacing stalwart Donald Penn. Parker, will need some time to develop. He has starter upside. Ateman, is a big target to develop behind the starters. He could be a red zone weapon. A lot of risk and development in this draft class.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: AFC South

After Peyton Manning left the AFC South, the division went through a scramble for supremacy and all seemed to flounder. The Colts and (a healthy) Andrew Luck got first crack and got as far as the AFC Championship, then the Texans made a few runs into the playoffs and didn’t get too far, the same went for the Titans, but last year and the Jacksonville Jaguars were different.

Sure, the Jags went into the AFC Championship game and lost, but barely. The Jaguars surprised many in 2017 and they controlled portions of that game, but they simply left too much time on the clock for Tom Brady to do Tom Brady things. The question now is, can they make it back?

But then there are the Colts who look to have Andrew Luck coming back. The Texans will have Deshaun Watson back. The Titans have retooled with a new head coach in Mike Vrabel, and they made the playoffs under the wild card banner. This division is no longer floundering. Something special is building in the AFC South. Lets take a look at how they added to it during the draft…

Houston Texans: B
3.) Justin Reid, S, Stanford
3.) Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi St.
3.) Jordan Akins, TE, UCF
4.) Keke Coutee, WR, Texas Tech
6.) Duke Ejiofor, OLB, Wake Forrest
6.) Jordan Thomas, TE, Mississippi St.
6.) Peter Kalambayl, OLB, Stanford
7.) Jermaine Kelly, DB, San Jose St.

The Texans didn’t draft until the third round, because of the trade up to get quarterback Deshaun Watson last year. Despite, that Houston still came away with a quality haul. Reid, could start as a rookie. He’s a classic free safety with great instincts, proven by his five interceptions and 13 pass breakups over the past two seasons. Rankin, is a bit raw, but he has starter upside. He could stay on the left side, could move to play on the right side. Maybe he gets kicked into guard. No matter what, he’s a starter. Akins and Coutee, gives Watson some needed auxiliary weapons. As a second tight end, Akins could create some great mismatches. He is a raw prospect though. Coutee, is a burner who should help in the slot and on special teams. Ejiofor, an end in college may be moved to linebacker in the Texans 3-4 system, maybe he stays on the line as a five-technique, regardless he’s a quality pass rusher with 33.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks over the past two seasons.

Indianapolis Colts: B
1.) Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
2.) Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina St.
2.) Braden Smith, OG, Auburn
2.) Kemoko Turay, DE, Rutgers
2.) Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio St.
4.) Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State
5.) Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa
5.) Jordan Wilkins, RB, Ole Miss
6.) Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
7.) Matthew Adams, LB, Houston
7.) Zaire Franklin, LB, Syracuse

It was a bit interesting to see the Colts wait so long to address their receiving corps, but the plan of GM Chris Ballard was pretty clear. The Colts, who are in the midst of a massive rebuild, were going to rebuild the trenches. They took arguably the best player in the draft in Nelson. He’s a plug-and-play player who will start for 10 years. He’s special. Smith offers versatility, as he can also play tackle. Clearly, Ballard wanted to better protect Andrew Luck and he did just that. On the defensive side of the ball, Turray and Leis offer quality edge rushers. The team is moving to a 4-3 system and need classic edge players. Lewis, was a steady producer at Ohio State and can set the edge. Turay, is raw, but has special talent. He’s still new to the game, but he could grow into a nightmare for quarterbacks. The run of offensive skill players is much needed depth. Two names that most stick out are Hines and Cain. Hines has proven production and a playmaker anytime he touches the ball. Cain, is new to the position after being converted from quarterback, but has good size and has impressed so far. He is raw, but could developmental into a quality weapon.

Jacksonville Jaguars: A
1.) Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
2.) DJ Chark, WR, LSU
3.) Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
4.) Will Richardson, OT, NC State
6.) Tanner Lee, QB, Nebraska
7.) Leon Jacobs, LB, Wisconsin
7.) Logan Cooke, P, Mississippi St.

I don’t know who they do it, but every year the Jags bring in another exceptional draft class. Their first three picks could all significantly contribute as rookies. Bryan, is raw, but is a bull in a china shop. He fits in line with the toughness and aggressive nature that the Jaguars defense prides themselves on. The same could be said for Harrison. He’s a hammer over the middle and has some ball skills too. Chark, is an intriguing prospect. He has the size and athleticism to be special, but rarely got the chance to show his skills at quarterback starved LSU. Paired with Blake Bortles, Chark could really show off what he can do. Richardson, is a developmental prospect and a massive one at that. If he can continue to work on his technique, he could start in a few years. Lee, has everything you want in a quarterback he just has to put it together. A good developmental pick. Jacobs, will start as a special teamer, but could emerge as a starter.

Tennessee Titans: B+
1.) Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
2.) Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College
5.) Dane Cruikshank, S, Arizona
6.) Luke Falk, QB, Washington St.

The Titans, under the leadership of head coach Mike Vrabel and GM John Robinson, twice jumped ahead of the Patriots in the opening rounds of the draft. Both Vrabel and Robinson spent time in Foxboro, so maybe they knew something. Either way, the Titans gave up a lot to move up, but addressed their two biggest needs with two quality prospects. Evans, is a classic Alabama linebacker, who will man the middle and dominate. He has the athleticism to cover and blitz as well as any. Landry, dropped much to the surprise of everyone and the Titans were quick to put an end to it. Landry led the nation in sacks in 2016, but injuries and double teams crushed his ability to follow up the stellar campaign. Cruikshank, should hits hard and should be an important special teams ace. Falk, put up big time numbers at Washington State, but comes from a spread offense. He’ll have to adapt to taking snaps under center.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: AFC North

The AFC North seems to be going through a changing of the guard. For years it was the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm and the Ravens with Joe Flacco, but are close to the end. The Steelers lost in the divisional round of the playoffs and no other team in the division made it to the playoffs, a rare occurrence when considering recent history.

What is not a rare occurrence is the Browns in a total rebuild after becoming just the second team in NFL history to go winless over a season. To put a positive spin on it, maybe that was rock bottom? Now there’s only progress to be had in Cleveland and with new leadership in the form of GM John Dorsey, that progress could come sooner than later as the last administration left him a boatload of picks and a ton of cap space.

As for the Bengals, after an early flash with Andy Dalton and AJ Green, the team has cooled and is in dire need to rejuvenate their playoff hopes. Some are calling for the replacement of Dalton, which is overreaction, but the team does need to provide a better supporting cast. How did they do? Lets give it a look…

Baltimore Ravens: B+
1.) Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
1.) Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
3.) Orlando Brown Jr, OT, Oklahoma
3.) Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
4.) Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama
4.) Kenny Young, LB, UCLA
4.) Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico St.
5.) Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA
6.) Daeshon Elliott, S, Texas
6.) Greg Senat, OT, Wagner
6.) Bradley Bozeman, C, Alabama
7.) Zach Sieler, DE, Ferris St.

It’s pretty clear what GM Ozzie Newsom’s gameplan was in his final draft at the helm of the Ravens front office. The offense was clearly the Ravens biggest problem last year and they went all in to fix it. Drafting Jackson spells the end for Joe Flacco. Trading up to take him with the final pick of the opening night was smart. That gives the Ravens an option year with the former Heisman Trophy winner. Hurst and Andrews are two experienced and valuable targets underneath. Hurst started off as a baseball prospect, before flaming out and walked on for the Gamecocks. He’s an older prospect, but has the athleticism to excel. The Brown pick was not only a good fit and addressed a need, but Brown will also be playing for the same team his father did. He needs to get stronger. Of the defensive picks, but offer depth in areas of need. Averett, could turn into a starter on the outside in the future. Elliott is quality depth addition to the safety, as are Senat and Bozeman to the offensive line.

Cincinnati Bengals: A-
1.) Billy Price, C, Ohio St.
2.) Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forrest
3.) Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio St.
3.) Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
4.) Mark Walton, RB, Miami
5.) Davontae Harris, CB, Illinois St.
5.) Andrew Brown, DT, Virginia
5.) Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan
7.) Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo
7.) Rod Taylor, OG, Ole Miss
7.) Auden Tate, WR, Florida St.

The Bengals have brought in an absolutely stellar draft class. Price, will be a Day One starter. He injured his pec during the combine, but he’ll be back by the time the season starts. The Bengals clearly saw a weak secondary developing and moved fast to address it, bringing in three players to provide some depth. Bates, is a rangy center fielder. He gives the Bengals the ability to develop three safety sets, a popular trend spreading around the league. Jefferson, fills a colossal need and is a tremendous fit. He is a heat seeking missile, who should play on the outside. Walton, is an intriguing addition. He ran for over 1,000 yards in ’16, but failed to follow up last season due to injury. Woodside, is a quality developmental draft pick. Tate, brings needed depth to the position. He can be a terror in the red zone.

Cleveland Browns: B
1.) Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
1.) Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.
2.) Austin Corbett, OT, Nevada
2.) Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
3.) Chad Thomas, DE, Miami
4.) Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
5.) Genard Avery, LB, Memphis
6.) Damion Ratley, WR, Texas A&M
6.) Simeon Thomas, DB, Louisianna-Lafayett

The Browns kicked off the draft with the selection of Mayfield. Everybody has a different opinion on Mayfield, but when you just look at the tape, it’s simple. He’s a winner. A two time walk-on at Texas Tech and Oklahoma, he may be undersized, but he has the ability and the drive to succeed. Fingers crossed for the Dawg Pound. They’re a great fan base, who don’t deserve the trash heap they’ve had to deal with since 1999. Ward, was a bit of a surprise at No. 4 due to his short stature, but the talent is there. He had 24 passes broken up over the past two seasons. Corbett, will be worth watching. He’s capable of playing tackle and guard. Maybe he develops at tackle behind Chris Hubbard and takes over down the line. Callaway, is a classic John Dorsey pick. Highly talented, highly problematic off the field. Chubb, may be the most surprising pick, only because the team already has Duke Johnson and gave a big free agency deal to oft-injured Carlos Hyde. As a player, Chubb is an exceptional talent and could very well wrestle the starting spot for himself as a rookie.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B
1.) Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech
2.) James Washington, WR, Oklahoma St.
3.) Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma St.
3.) Chuks Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
5.) Marcus Allen, S, Penn St.
5.) Jaylen Samuels, FB, NC State
7.) Joshua Frazier, DT, Alabama

Edmunds was a surprise to some coming off the board in Round 1, but many within the NFL saw this as a possibility. He has quality ball skills, picking off six passes and breaking up seven more over the past two seasons. Allen, the other safety, is someone who can play in the box as well as provide the expected coverage duties. It will be interesting if the Steelers start running three safety sets with Sean Davis or move the veteran to cornerback. The Oklahoma State pair of Washington and Rudolph, will be worth watching. The team traded Martavis Bryant to Oakland, thus opening a spot in the slot – a place Washington can excel. The Steelers have been looking for Ben Roethlisberger’s heir for a few years now. Maybe Rudolph is finally it. Samuels, is an intriguing prospect. He played as a tight end, receiver, running back, and full back in college. Pittsburgh likes their H-Backs. He’ll be a fun weapon to use and try to create mismatches. Okorafor is raw, but has starter upside.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: AFC East

Despite having the reigning NFL MVP on their roster and coming off of yet another Super Bowl appearance, the New England Patriots are having somewhat of a turbulent offseason with noise surrounding the team and their relationships with said MVP Tom Brady and All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. Things seemed to have cooled recently, but some are starting to see possible cracks in the organizations foundation.

With that being said and the Bills coming off a season that saw them finally make it back to the playoffs, a strong Miami side in a mini-rebuild, and the Jets in position to finally land a franchise quarterback, intrigue was certainly swirling around the division.

Now, lets get right to it and see how things came together over the course of the weekend…

Buffalo Bills: B-
1.) Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
1.) Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
3.) Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
4.) Taron Johnson, CB, Weber St.
5.) Siran Neal, S, Jacksonville St.
5.) Wyatt Teller, OG, Virginia Tech
6.) Ray-ray Mccloud, WR, Clemson
7.) Austin Proehl, WR, North Carolina

The Bills maneuvered tremendously in Round 1, twice moving up and taking Allen and Edmunds. It was only a matter of when and how much it would cost the Bills to move into the Top 10 for whichever quarterback began to fall. It came to fruition at the seventh overall pick and two second round picks. Selecting Phillips in Round 3, could turn out to be a steal. He is the perfect fit for Buffalo’s 4-3 front. He will be a starter sooner than later. Adding depth to the secondary with Johnson and Neal was smart. Especially with Neal. He has the ability to lineup at either corner or safety. Teller, was a quality pick in Round 5. He has the nasty disposition that you need in the trenches, but the failure of the Bills to further address the offensive line is a problem. They lost three starters and their right side could have been upgraded, regardless of the losses suffered on the left side of the line. This is a big whiff, especially after drafting a franchise caliber quarterback.

Miami Dolphins: B-
1.) Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
2.) Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn St.
3.) Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio St.
4.) Durham Style, TE, Notre Dame
4.) Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona St.
6.) Cornell Armstrong, DB, Southern Miss
7.) Quenton Poling, LB, Ohio
7.) Jason Sanders, K, New Mexico

It’s clear that the Miami Dolphins are sticking with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. They reloaded the tight end position in order to give him both a safety valve in Gesicki and an extra inline blocker in Style. Ballage is the good compliment to Kenyan Drake and can help take the pressure off of Tannehill. He can be a thumper between the tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield. He had 64 catches over his last two seasons. On the defensive side of the ball they addressed their two biggest concerns in the secondary and at linebacker. Hopefully Baker will finally sure up the linebacking corps after years of failed attempts. It will be intriguing to see if the ‘Phins will use Fitzpatrick more at corner or safety, either way he’s an upgrade and brings the kind of leadership that head coach Adam Gase is looking for.

New England Patriots: B-
1.) Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
1.) Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
2.) Duke Dawson, CB, Florida
5.) Ja’whaun Bentley, LB, Purdue
6.) Christian Sam, LB, Arizona St.
6.) Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami
7.) Danny Etling, QB, LSU
7.) Keion Crossen, DB, Western Carolina
7.) Ryan Izzo, TE, Florida St.

The Pats caught some people off guard by selecting two offensive players in the first round. It was obvious during the season that the defense was the team’s weak link and yet they made an effort to further protect 40-year old Tom Brady with Wynn and give him an extra weapon in Michel, who is a special talent. In line with the “Patriot Way” both players were captains at Georgia. Dawson, in the second round, is an intriguing prospect. He was stuck behind first-round talent at Florida, but finally shined when given his opportunity. He could develop into a valuable slot corner, especially in today’s sub-package heavy defenses. The weakest link in the Pats defense in 2017 was there linebacking corps. They addressed that with back to back picks in Bentley and Sam. Both are tackling machines. Berrios and Izzo are your classic Patriot selections.

New York Jets: B
1.) Sam Darnold, QB, USC
3.) Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hayes St.
4.) Chris Herndon, TE, Miami
6.) Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane
6.) Foley Fatukasi, DT, UConn
6.) Trenton Cannon, RB, Virginia St.

All of the Jets fans’ prayers were answered with the selection of Darnold. Things didn’t workout too well the last time the organization drafted a USC quarterback in the Top 5 (Mark Sanchez), so hopefully things will go better this time. They paired him with a safety valve in Herndon later on in the draft, who could emerge as a starter. He was injured his final year in college and that hampered his development. Herndon will be worth watching, especially with Austin Seferian-Jenkins gone. The Jets took two developmental defensive lineman in Shepherd, a small school prospect who turned heads at the Senior Bowl, and Fatukasi who had a tremendous season in 2015 and failed to duplicate it.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC East

The NFC East is regularly one of the best divisions in the league and it is home to the reigning Super Bowl champion. The Eagles became world champions after a wild shoot out with the New England Patriots that left them victorious. Now, they have to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

The Eagles are getting back Carson Wentz from injury. The Redskins finally concluded the Kirk Cousins debacle by trading for Alex Smith. The Cowboys are now giving total control over Dak Prescott. The Giants are putting their full trust in Eli Manning and gearing up for one last Super Bowl push under new head coach Pat Shurmer.

There is a lot of exciting story lines in the division and that was all before the draft. So how did the NFC East fare in the draft? Did they manage to obtain the missing pieces to their puzzles or are the Super Bowl champs still king? Lets break it down…

Dallas Cowboys: B
1.) Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.
2.) Connor Williams, OG, Texas
3.) Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado St.
4.) Dorance Armstrong, DE, Kansas
4.) Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford
5.) Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky
6.) Chris Covington, LB, Indiana
6.) Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise St.
7.) Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama

The host team brought in a quality haul, but failed to address pressing needs. Before the draft the team cut Dez Bryant, then during the draft Jason Witten unofficially announced his retirement, and yet the Cowboys did not address those positions until Round 3 and Round 4. You can’t expect your quarterback to continue to grow if he doesn’t have a quality arsenal of weapons. That being said the team did take late flyers are a couple intriguing prospects in Cedrick Wilson and Bo Scarbrough. As for the early picks, they weren’t missed picks. The linebacking corps has been innjury plagued regularly and Vander Esch offers a wealth of potential. He’s a one year wonder, but if he’s a great fit. He just has to prove his one colossal season in college wasn’t a fluke. Williams, in the second round, fits a need at left guard. The offensive line is the strength of the team, it’s important to keep it that way. He should start Day One.

New York Giants: A
1.) Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St.
2.) Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
3.) Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia
3.) BJ Hill, DT, NC State
4.) Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
5.) Rocky McIntosh, DT, Miami

What is better than going into your divisional rivals home and swiping a better a draft class? The G-Men’s draft haul is an impressive one. Some have problems with Barkley going second overall, but look, the best player is the best player and Barkley has the potential to be a generational player. The Giants then turned around and helped Barkley by giving him an absolute road grader in Hernandez. What a perfect union that is. New York is switching to a 3-4 defense and need the right personal to thrive. Carter as a rush linebacker is just what they needed and to get him in the third round is tremendous value. In a similar vein, adding Hill and McIntosh to really flesh out the nose and five-technique along the odd man front is smart. Lauletta, gives the team another quarterback to develop behind Manning.

Philadelphia Eagles: C
2.) Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St.
4.) Avonte Maddox, CB, Pitt
4.) Josh Sweat, DE, Florida St.
6.) Matt Pryor, OT, TCU
7.) Jordan Mailata, OT, None

The team traded out of the first round to try and pick up some extra picks to help their cash strapped roster and then took those assets to move up and take Goedert. Yes, they have Zach Ertz, but Philly likes to run two tight end sets and Goedert can really work the seam and be a mismatch for defenses. Sweat, keeps the strength of the Eagles along their defensive line. He had 12.5 sacks over the last two years. Rounding out the draft with depth pieces at corner and tackle was wise. The most intriguing pick is Mailata, an professional rugby player from Australia who is trying his hand at American football.

Washington Redskins: B-
1.) Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
2.) Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
3.) Geron Christian, OT, Louisville
4.) Troy Apke, S, Penn St.
5.) Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech
6.) Shaun Dion Hamilton, LB, Alabama
7.) Greg Stroman, CB, Virginia Tech
7.) Trey Quinn, WR, SMU

To be honest, after the past few years I don’t have a lot of trust that the Redskins front office will do the right thing. That being said, they actually brought in a quality haul. The team had the worst rush defense in the entire league last year and needed to sure that up. They did so with Payne and Settle. Settle, could develop into the starting nose tackle, while Payne plays the five-technique opposite last year’s first round pick and former Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen. Guice, fell due to character concerns. Nonetheless, getting a first round target in the second round is always a plus. He could really help Alex Smith. Christian, is a developmental prospect with starter upside. Shaun Dion Hamilton, has serious injury concerns, but if he can beat them Hamilton has the ability to develop into a starter and a quality one at that on the inside of the Redskins 3-4 defense.

2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

This offseason has been nothing short of chaotic. I like to wait until free agency has kicked off before revealing my first mock draft of the season. Good thing I did, because things have radically changed. Lets just look at the draft order first.

Two massive trades have completely shaken things up. The Buffalo Bills jumped into the Top 15 with a swap deal with the Cincinnati Bengals, then the New York Jets jumped up into the Top 3 to presumably land their future franchise quarterback.

That’s just for offseason moves affecting the draft. Through free agency we’ve seen the Seattle Seahawks completely blow up the Legion of Boom, the Vikings let three starting quarterbacks leave and gave another quarterback a fully guaranteed contract — the first of it’s kind.

Now after all that, lets try and sort things out in regards to their effects on April 26th. Here’s our first voyage into mock draft season…

1.) Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Browns are in the driver’s seat (we’ll get into that more at No. 4). But to kickoff the draft the Browns get their choice of quarterback. There’s still a ways to go, but it seems that this is Darnold’s spot to lose.

2.) New York Giants: Saquan Barkley, RB, Penn St.
This is an early turning point in the draft. Given what the Giants have done so far in the offseason (signing Nate Solder and trading for Alex Ogletree) it looks like the team is looking to make one last Super Bowl run with Eli Manning. But with a rare Top Five pick, the organization has an opportunity to land another franchise quarterback to succeed Manning. At this moment, I see them continuing to build a team to win now.

3.) New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Jets bundled a bevy of second-round picks to move up just three spots. That is a clear sign they are looking to draft a quarterback. For this mock draft I see them landing Rosen.

4.) Cleveland Browns: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
This is where the Browns are really in the driver’s seat. If two quarterbacks are off the board by the fourth pick, the Browns can expect a lot of phone calls from teams looking to trade up. Why? The Broncos are hunting for a franchise quarterback as well, which means the Browns can request a very rich trade package from teams looking to jump ahead of Denver. I don’t project trades in mock drafts, so if the Browns stay I think Fitzpatrick is their man. Look at the impact Jalen Ramsey has had in Jacksonville. Fitzpatrick is a similar caliber player.

5.) Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Broncos are lucky in this scenario and Allen drops right into GM John Elway’s hands. With Case Keenum now on the team, will have a year to develop Allen.

6.) Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, OLB, NC State
GM Chris Ballard continues to show an impressive acumen. He drops three spots, picks up three second-round picks, and lands the player they would have selected at three overall. That is how you rebuild a team.

7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.
The Buccaneers had the worst pass defense in the league last year and they play in a division where they face off against Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Drew Brees twice a year each. The Bucs have to address that problem quickly. Ward is the player to do it.

8.) Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
This is a dream come true for the Bears. If Nelson falls to Chicago, they will be over the moon. You traded up to take Mitch Trubisky last year. Now you have to protect him. Nelson has all the makings of a ten year starter.

9.) San Francisco 49ers: Derwin James, S, Florida St.
The Niners have struggled to properly address their secondary over the past few years. Bringing in veteran Richard Sherman was a start, now they have to address the safety position. GM John Lynch knows what a good safety looks like and James fits the bill.

10.) Oakland Raiders: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
New head coach Jon Gruden has said linebacker Bruce Irvin will move back to his more familiar defensive end position. That opens yet another spot on a thin linebacking corps. Edmunds, is a physical freak and the type of throwback player Gruden is after.

11.) Miami Dolphins: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
This is an interesting spot. They could look at a quarterback, but overall I think Smith is the better option in this mock draft. Head coach Adam Gase is looking for leadership. Smith fills a need and brings loads of leadership.

12.) Buffalo Bills: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Bills traded up from the 21st overall pick in a swap deal with the Cincinnati Bengals. In this mock draft, the Bills get lucky and land Mayfield, but in reality they will most likely have to trade up into the Top 10 to select their quarterback.

13.) Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The Redskins finished last in rush defense in 2017. That can’t stand. They landed a quality building block last year in Jonathan Allen, but injuries are a concern there and there isn’t much depth outside of him. Payne, gives them another prospect to clog the rushing lanes.

14.) Green Bay Packers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Green Bay secondary needs a serious renovation. Davon House isn’t the answer, they traded away Damarious Randall, and Kevin King missed time with injury. Alexander, is a playmaker who can provide some juice to the lagging cornerback position.

15.) Arizona Cardinals: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Cardinals have been in the hunt for a quarterback since last year’s draft. They could reach for Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph. They could pull off a major trade and jump into the Top 10, but if they’re stuck here Ridley is their man. They need help and an heir to Larry Fitzgerald at the wide receiver position.

16.) Baltimore Ravens: James Daniels, C, Iowa
When John Urschel abruptly retired before last season the Ravens were left scrambling at the center position. Then Ryan Jensen emerged as a stalwart and solidified the offensive line. Now, the Ravens are back in the hunt for a pivot as Jensen signed with Tampa Bay. Daniels would be a safe, sound selection.

17.) LA Chargers: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Bolts got run all over last season, boasting the second worst run defense in the league. The entire front seven needs some work, so what better way to start addressing the problem than addressing the line? Veta is a mountain of a man and continue the youth movement along the defensive front.

18.) Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Davenport is a freak, plain and simple. The talent is there to be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks, but it will take some time to get there. Davenport is raw, but has all the tools to develop into a classic Seahawk edge rusher.

19.) Dallas Cowboys: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
The Cowboys haven’t addressed a single need in free agency outside of issuing the franchise tag to DeMarcus Lawrence, which means Dallas has a lot of areas to address via the draft. Dallas believes they have a franchise quarterback in Dak Prescott. He is already well protected, now it’s time to get Dak some weapons in his arsenal.

20.) Detroit Lions: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Outside of Darius Slay and Glover Quin the Lions are pretty scant in the secondary. They drafted Teez Tabor in the second round last year, but they need more help. Hughes, is a potential lock down corner.

21.) Cincinnati Bengals: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
Is this a reach? Probably, but that’s why we deliver three to four mock drafts every year. For where the Bengals are drafting this isn’t the most outrageous reach. Hayden, is arguably the best tight end this year, and veteran Tyler Eifert has failed to stay healthy.

22.) Buffalo Bills: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Buffalo lost veteran Preston Brown via free agency. He played 99.2% of the snaps last year and racked up 144 tackles. That’s a lot of production to cover. Lucky for them, they land Evans.

23.) LA Rams: Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College
The Rams have already traded away Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree. Then there is Connor Barwin who is currently out there on the free agency market. They need a pass rusher and Landry could be the man. He led the country with 16.5 sacks two years ago.

24.) Carolina Panthers: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
When Andrew Norwell signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he left a massive hole for the Panthers to fix. Cam Newton gets battered enough as is, the Panthers can’t wait around. Hernandez is a road grader who can help both Newton and last year’s first-round pick Christian McCaffrey.

25.) Tennessee Titans: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.
The linebacking corps was already an area the Titans needed to address and then they lost Avery Williamson to free agency. Vander Esch was a one year starter in Boise, but what a year it was. Vander Esch racked up 141 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss. If he can prove it wasn’t a fluke, he could add a lot to Tennessee.

26.) Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Atlanta’s strength is their fast flowing defense. With young stars like Grady Jarrett, Tak McKinley, Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, and Keanu Neal adding Bryan to the mix would make things even more interesting. He’s a bit undersized, but has the raw strength and explosion to be special.

27.) New Orleans Saints: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St.
Like the Bengals and their tight end, this is probably a reach. But for how this mock draft has shaken out, Goedert is the best bang for the Saints’ buck. The Saints were trying hard to reconnect with Jimmy Graham on the free agency market, but things didn’t work out. Getting production from the tight end position is a high priority and Goedert, though from a small school, could be the man to make it happen.

28.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
After running back Le’Veon Bell got the franchise tag for the second straight year, it seems like the relationship may be beyond repair at this point. With an aging franchise quarterback, it’s probably best to rebuild the running game as soon as possible.

29.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
The Jaguars allowed veteran Allen Robinson leave via free agency. While the Jaguars did resign Marqise Lee and brought in Donte Moncrief, you can never have enough weapons for your quarterback and Sutton supplies Blake Bortles with a big target.

30.) Minnesota Vikings: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
The Vikings boasted the best defense in the NFL last year. It’s important they keep it that way. Age is starting to creep up along the interior defensive line, so injecting some youth would be smart. Phillips and his relentless motor would be a good fit.

31.) New England Patriots: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
If Williams dropped to the Patriots it would be a dream come true. New England got crushed via free agency and left tackle Nate Solder was among those who left. Williams, if healthy, could be a starter from Day One.

32.) Philadelphia Eagles: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Super Bowl champion Eagles go with an offensive tackle. Future Hall-of-Famer Jason Peters ended the season on IR and is nearing 40 years of age. Molding McGlinchey to be Peters’ heir wouldn’t be the worst thing.

The Too Early NFL Mock Draft

We’re back, baby! It has barely been a month since the Philadelphia Eagles were crowned Super Bowl champions and somehow it feels like we’ve been without football for an eternity. Well, that long painful wait is over.

Forget the warm weather. Forget the longer days. Spring is about one thing and one thing only – the NFL Draft.

Now, typically I only like to do four mock drafts per season. The mock draft is precious thing and we have to treat it so. I usually don’t get into it until free agency has kicked off, because a lot of needs for a lot of teams can be addressed via free agency.

Hell, look at what’s transpired so far this winter. Vontae Davis, Chris Ivory, Marcus Peters, Robert Quinn, Michael Bennett, and Alex Smith have already moved to new teams. That’s six Pro Bowlers relocating before the offseason has even began!

Maybe winter has been particularly long or maybe I’m just looking forward to free agency a little more than usual (a terrifying notion), but I’ve decided to whip up an irrational and way too early mock draft.

I’ll still deliver my annual four mocks, this one is just for fun. We’ve still got a long road to April 26th and it will be littered with big trades and bigger pro days. Here’s our look.

1.) Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St.
Here’s the thing. The Browns are in the drivers seat. Is taking a running back first overall a reach? To some, sure. But only one other team (the Giants) will be looking at a quarterback before they are back on the clock. Unless they are head over heels with one of the quarterbacks, Barkley should be their guy.

2.) New York Giants: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The Giants recently shipped a pair of draft picks to the LA Rams for linebacker Alec Ogletree. That’s a sign they are still trying to win now with Eli Manning and if that is the route you want to take, you need to protect him. Taking a guard second overall may not be sexy, but Nelson is a rare talent.

3.) Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, OLB, NC State
Chubb decided to stay in school after a strong junior season and capped his collegiate career by winning the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. Pretty smart decision. The Colts need help across the board. Adding a pass rusher is always a plus.

4.) Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Look at that! In this scenario the Browns walk out with the best running back and arguably the best quarterback in the entire draft. Patience is a virtue.

5.) Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Rosen comes into the league with questions about his commitment to the game. Once upon a time Broncos GM and hall-of-fame quarterback John Elway entered the league with a similar cloud over him. If anyone can get Rosen to rise to his potential it would be Elway.

6.) New York Jets: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The run on quarterbacks will inevitably happen this year and this scenario for the Jets is actually pretty stellar IF they resign veteran Josh McCown. McCown is the consummate professional and giving Allen a year to marinate behind a leader like him would be a great benefit to both the player and the franchise.

7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
Fitzpatrick is a Swiss army knife. Like a growing number of players in the league, Fitzpatrick can lineup at corner, safety, or at the nickle. Tampa’s pass defense has been lackluster for a few years now. Fitzpatrick provides an instant upgrade.

8.) Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.
Like the Colts, the Bears need a little bit of everything. In this scenario, it’s a matter of taking the best player on the board. Ward, isn’t the biggest prospect, but he has the ball skills and toughness to be special.

9.) San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds is an intimidator who would pair extremely well with last year’s first round pick Reuben Foster. Edmunds has rare sideline-to-sideline playmaking ability and while raw as a pass rusher, has the potential to grow into a nightmare for quarterbacks.

10.) Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Smith is the saving grace to the linebacking woes of the Oakland Raiders. Smith, has tremendous awareness and makes plays all over the field. While a bit undersized, he brings a lot to the position whether it be blitzing or covering opposing running backs or tight ends on pass plays

11.) Miami Dolphins: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
If you have to keep asking if so-and-so is the guy, he’s not. Coach Adam Gase inherited the solid, but unspectacular Ryan Tannehill. Now, Gase brings in a quarterback of his own choosing. Mayfield has the moxie to thrive in the NFL and provides a lot, for a quarterback whisperer like Gase, to work with.

12.) Cincinnati Bengals: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Williams missed seven games last year with a knee injury that, in the end, did not need surgery. Nonetheless, selecting a tackle who is coming off a knee injury at twelfth overall is a bit risky. However, that is how bad the Bengals offensive line was last year. The Bengals have invested a lot upfront in recent drafts, but little to none has panned out. Hopefully, Williams bucks the trend.

13.) Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
It’s the oldest adage there is – you build a team from the inside out. That means starting in the trenches. The Redskins had the worst run defense in the entire league last year. There’s little talent and even then it’s injury prone.

14.) Green Bay Packers: Marcus Davenport, OLB, UTSA
Davenport is a freak. That simple. And Green Bay could really use a freak pass rusher. Starters Clay Matthews and Nick Perry combined to deliver 15.5 sacks last season, but Matthews is getting older and Perry has always had injury issues.

15.) Arizona Cardinals: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Cardinals are in an interesting position. What they do in free agency will be of particular interest. Do they reach for a quarterback? Maybe make a trade up? That should be there first priority, for this scenario they stick at fifteenth overall and nab Alexander. A highly talented prospect, but comes with injury concerns.

16.) Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Baltimore loves Alabama prospects. Given everything that shakes out in this mock draft, Ridley landing in their laps is too perfect. Arguably the best receiver in the draft, the Ravens have their fingers crossed they don’t run into another Breshad Perriman situation.

17.) LA Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida St.
James is an intriguing prospect. He could go much higher. For this, he lands in a perfect scenario. Coordinator Gus Bradley’s system thrives with a thumper in the mix that he can deploy all over the field like he did with Kam Chancellor, while he was in Seattle. James, has that type of ability in him.

18.) Seattle Seahawks: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Hughes doesn’t have the size typically associated with Seahawk cornerbacks, but Hughes is a game changer. Seemingly, with Richard Sherman on his way out, cornerback becomes a pressing need and Hughes has the playmaking ability to step in and contribute right away.

19.) Dallas Cowboys: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Over the course of Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension, we saw just how exposed quarterback Dak Prescott was. The Cowboys offensive passing game ranked 26th in the league last year. Who knows what will happen with Dez Bryant. If the longtime Cowboy is brought back or not, Prescott needs more weapons. Kirk, is an intriguing prospect.

20.) Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
The Lions have a quality quarterback, a quality pair of wide receivers, and a quality offensive line. If they intend to regularly make it to the playoffs, they need to invest in a quality running back. Guice, can be the powerful dynamic option to help take the pressure off of Matt Stafford and keep Ameer Abdullah healthy.

21.) Buffalo Bills: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Veteran Kyle Williams is nearing the end and the team shipped out former All-Pro Marcell Dareus in the middle of the season. They need depth help in the trenches. Payne could walk in and be a Day One starter.

22.) Buffalo Bills: James Daniels, C, Iowa
Similarly, the Bills need help at the pivot. Veteran Eric Wood was forced to retire due to injury. He had been a steady, Pro Bowl talent and now that spot is abruptly vacant. Daniels, is a proven starter and versatile player with experience at the guard position as well.

23.) LA Rams: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.
As mentioned earlier, the Rams dealt Ogletree to the Giants. That leaves them with a gap in the middle of their defense. Vander Esch, came out of nowhere in 2017 and racked up 141 tackles with 8.5 for loss. That is tremendous production from a one year starter and at the same time worrying, because he only started last year. If he can prove it wasn’t a fluke, pairing Vander Esch with Mark Barron would be tremendous.

24.) Carolina Panthers: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
In the middle of the season the Panthers traded away receiver Kelvin Benjamin, leaving the team very thin at the position. The Panthers need to provide Cam Newton with weapons. Sutton would pair well with Devin Funchess and at a welcomed size as Sutton stands 6’3″ tall.

25.) Tennessee Titans: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
The Titans have a good roster. They just need depth. So this position in the draft is tricky. With a power run game the focus of their offense and declining guard Josh Kline entering free agency, replacing the vet with a young road grader like Hernandez is a perfect situation.

26.) Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
Like the Titans, the Falcons do better when they run the ball. That being said, they need to get tougher and deeper along the interior of their offensive line. Veteran Andy Levitre missed five games last year and could be a cap casualty. Wynn, has starting experience at multiple positions along the offensive line.

27.) New Orleans Saints: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St.
Another small school prospect making it to the first round. Goedert, is the type of size and speed prospect that give opposing defenses fits. The team has failed to get much production from the position ever since trading away Jimmy Graham. Goedert, could fix that problem.

28.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The very scary and very unfortunate neck injury to young star Ryan Shazier has put the Steelers back in the hunt for an inside linebacker. Evans fits the bill as a tone setter, who can also provide help in coverage.

29.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
Like the Saints, the Jaguars have failed to get much production from the tight end position over the past few years. They’ve gone the free agency route and failed. Now it’s time to look at the draft. While Hurst is an older prospect, he flashes pass catching and blocking abilities. A rare combination with tight end prospects, of late.

30.) Minnesota Vikings: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
McGlinchey is another in the long line of top offensive line talent to come out of South Bend. While he isn’t the polished prospect that some of his contemporaries have been, McGlinchey is a proven starter that if he fine tunes his abilities could be a ten year starter.

31.) New England Patriots: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
This is a dream come true should Jackson fall to the Patriots. There aren’t many cornerback prospects that boast Jackson’s combination of size and ball skills. After the Malcolm Butler drama that poured out post Super Bowl, it should be no surprise that the position is a top concern for the boys from Boston.

32.) Philadelphia Eagles: Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Oklahoma
This is a luxury pick. Brown boasts the the size and experience that typically would make scouts drool, but a closer look reveals a lot of problems with his technique. Brown could go higher, he could slip into Round 2.

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.