Tag Archives: Ezekiel Elliot

2017 NFC East Projections

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X-Philadelphia Eagles 11-5

2016 was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Philadelphia Eagles as they were beginning life with a new head coach in Doug Pederson as well as a new starting quarterback in Carson Wentz. But whereas that the expectations were not that high for Philadelphia, they came out of the gate like gangbusters by winning their first three games. But with Wentz taking his lumps as a rookie quarterback, the losses began to show up for the Eagles. However the Eagles would remain a tough out in spite of the fact that they finished in last place in the NFC East. But Philadelphia’s last place finish was deceiving as they went 7-9 which included picking up victories over both the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys who survived the riggers of the division en route to earning a playoff berth. And as Wentz is only going to get better, while the Eagles did a solid job in regards to putting a quality team around him heading into a new season, there is plenty to like about this team.

Carson Wentz

Wentz’s transition to the National Football League was made easier in part due to the fact that he played in a pro-style offense collegiately for the North Dakota State Bison, while now playing for a head coach in Pederson who himself played in the NFL adds to his transition. Wentz had his fair share of ups and downs as a rookie which was evident by him throwing 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, but he was able to hang in there and take his lumps. Through it all Wentz displayed solid pocket awareness and in the process the youngster was able to earn the respect of his teammates.

Now as Wentz’s sophomore campaign is beginning, credit to the Eagles front office in regards to putting talent around him on the offensive side of the football. This off-season saw Philadelphia and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery agree on a one-year deal for $14 million. At 6’3″, 218 lbs., Jeffery gives the Eagles a play maker at the wide receiver position which is something that they’ve lacked over the past few seasons. When healthy Jeffery can be one of the most productive receivers in football, however the operative term is when he is healthy. Over the last two years Jeffery has missed 11 games to either injury or suspension, but the fact that he only signed a one-year deal should put him in line to be extra motivated this season.

The past three years have seen running back LeGarrette Blount be a big contributor to a pair of Super Bowl Championships for the New England Patriots. But as much as Blount enjoyed his time winning with the Patriots, he decided that is was time for him to have a change of scenery. Blount is coming off of his best season in the National Football League as he gained 1,161 yards on the ground last year, while also leading the league in rushing touchdowns with 18. And Blount’s presence in Philadelphia should help to boost an Eagles rushing attack which was already 11th in the NFL last into possibility being a top-five unit.

The Eagles already had a solid offensive line and they received a boost during the off-season by signing guard Chance Warmack. Warmack may have never lived up to his full potential with the Tennessee Titans who made him a first-round pick in 2013, but now he has the opportunity to be on an Eagles offensive line which includes right tackle Lane Johnson as well as left tackle Jason Peters who is a nine-time Pro Bowl selection.

Philadelphia was only able to generate 34 sacks on defense last season, however their defensive line has been upgraded during the off-season. The Eagles used their first-round pick on defensive end Derek Barnett who has the potential to be an anchor on the defensive line for years to come, while they also signed veteran defensive end Chris Long. Like Blount, Long was a member of the Patriots Super Bowl Championship team last season, and his postseason experience as well as knowledge of what it takes to rush the passer will be a vital for an Eagles team that is looking to become a contender in 2017.

Malcolm Jenkins

Strong safety Malcolm Jenkins continues to be a leader on the defensive side of the football, but Phiiladelphia will need young players such as cornerback Jalen Mills who is in his second year in the National Football League to be able to step up and take his game to the next level.

Two of Philadelphia’s first three games are within the NFC East, and a strong a strong start could put them in line for their first division title since 2013.

Y-New York Giants 10-6

The 2016 National Football League saw the beginning of the Ben McAdoo era as the head coach of the New York Giants. Under McAdoo, the Giants went 11-5 for their first playoff berth since their last Super Bowl Title in 2011. There were many positives for the Giants which included having a stingy defense as well as going 7-1 at MetLife Stadium. But New York would be one-and-done in the playoffs as a slew of dropped passes along with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers would prove to be too much for them as they were eliminated in the NFC Wild Card Game. But as a new NFL season is set to begin, will the Giants be able to do something that they’ve been unable to do since 2008 which is to make the postseason in consecutive years?

Eli Manning

One of McAdoo’s luxuries is that he has Eli Manning as his starting quarterback. Throughout Manning’s National Football League career he has had his detractors as he has led the league in interceptions three separate times. However Manning is 108-91 as starting quarterback and he’s also the most prolific quarterback in Giants franchise history. Manning is closing in on becoming just the seventh player in NFL history to pass for 50,000 career yards, while he still has the pocket awareness as well as the arm strength to get it done at the age of 36.

But even though that Manning is coming off of the sixth 4,000-yard passing season of his National Football League career, the Giants were still 17th in the league in passing. The Giants offense was inconsistent at times last year; especially in the red zone.

John Mara

Giants general manager Jerry Reese has attempted to remedy this by upgrading Manning’s passing options. In free agency, the Giants signed wide receiver Brandon Marhsall who gives them size at the position. At 6’5″, 232 lbs., Marhsall is a matchup nightmare for most defensive backs in the National Football League due to his size and sheer athleticism. And this size should pay dividends for New York and Manning as the quarterback will definitely lean on him in the red zone in jump ball situations. The Giants will be the fifth NFL team that Marshall has suited up for, and when this season comes to an end, he will more than likely find himself in the NFL’s all-time top-20 list for receiving yards.

The Giants would also use a first-round pick in this past spring’s National Football League Draft on tight end Evan Engram. Since the Giants traded tight end Jeremy Shockey to the New Orleans Saints in 2008, they have used a “tight end by committee” approach which has not worked that often. And by not having a quality option at the tight end position, it has taken away from the Giants ability to have a more effective offense.

The Giants didn’t draft Engram for his blocking ability as he was used as more of an H-back in college for the Mississippi Rebels, but what he gives New York is a fluid receiver at the tight end position. And aside from the fact that Engram attended the same college that Manning did, he could become one of the quarterback’s favorite options in the passing game this year.

Odell Beckham Jr.

But you can’t talk too much about the Giants offense without mentioning the exploits of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. In just three years with the Giants, Beckham is making a strong case to be recognized as the most prolific wide receiver in Giants franchise history. Beckham has already racked up 4,122 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns while getting the Pro Bowl nod in each of his three seasons. Beckham has become the most polarizing and exciting player that the Giants have employed since Hall of Fame outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor, and his rare combination of speed as well as elusiveness have made him one of the best wide receivers in the National Football League. Beckham falls into that category of being a “coverage buster” as it doesn’t matter if teams want to give him extra attention because he still finds a way to make the catch. But if opposing defenses want to pay too much attention to Beckham this year, the Giants have options in their passing game such as Marshall, Engram, and wide receiver Sterling Shepard who can make them pay.

There was a time when the Giants were primarily known for their ability to run the football, however they’ve now built a reputation the National Football League for the inability of their ground game. You have to go back to 2012 to find the last time that the Giants had a ball carrier gain at least 1,000 in a season, while they were 29th in the NFL last season in regards to rushing.

The Giants will once again use a running back by committee. But between Paul Perkins, Orleans Darkwa, and Shane Vereen, if one of these running backs gets hot for the ground attack, it would not surprise me to see McAdoo stick with the guy who is getting it done.

Ben McAdoo

McAdoo’s offensive system is all about Manning getting the football out quickly which doesn’t put as much stress on the offensive line. Manning was sacked 21 times last year which was his lowest total since 2012. However for the Giants offense to be as productive as their potential adds up to, the offensive line must find to step up in big situations.

In 2015, the Giants used a first-round pick on left tackle Ereck Flowers. The Giants immediately plugged Flowers in at left tackle, but throughout his brief stint in the National Football League, he has lacked the footwork necessary to be a successful left tackle. And in order for Manning to find Beckham and Marshall for those big pass plays, it all starts with Flowers being able to protect Manning’s blindside.

Defensively the Giants were tenth in the National Football League as Steve Spagnuolo began his second stint as the team’s defensive coordinator. Spagnuolo’s first stint with New York was predicated by his ability to consistently create pressure with his defense. As a team the Giants had 35 sacks last year, but they knew how to consistently create pressure; sometimes with just their front four.

Damon Harrison

The Giants lost defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins in free agency as he signed with the Indianapolis Colts, but they still have a formidable defensive line which features defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison along with defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon.

New York has not had a strong linebacking unit in years, but they possess arguably the best secondary in the National Football League. The Giants were 23rd in the NFL in passing yards allowed, however they were second in the league in points allowed per game at 17.8. The Giants had a “bend, but don’t break” mentality as they stiffened in the red zone. And as cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie led the team in interceptions with 6, while strong safety Landon Collins has 5, along with the coverage ability of cornerback Janoris Jenkins, the Giants secondary dubbed themselves the NYPD (New York Pass Defense). This unit could get better, while Collins who barely missed out on being the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 is making his case to be recognized as the best safety in the game.

McAdoo was somewhat able to fly under the radar in 2016, but it will be important for him to bring all of the talent that the Giants have together in 2017 for a potential Super Bowl run.

Y-Dallas Cowboys 10-6

It’s been a topsy-turvy ride for the Dallas Cowboys as in 2014 they would go 12-4 to win the NFC East which was followed by them going 4-12 in 2015. Dallas would then respond by going 13-3 last year to not only win the NFC East again, but they also finished with the best record in the NFC. However the Cowboys would be one-and-done in the postseason as they fell at home to the Green Bay Packers, and you have to go back to the 1995 National Football League season to find the last time that they made it past the divisional round of the playoffs. The Cowboys enter this season with a very exciting team, but will they have enough in their arsenal to live up to the Super Bowl expectations that have been thrust upon them?

Ezekiel Elliot

The Cowboys expected running back Ezekiel Elliot to have a strong impact in 2016 after they used the fourth overall pick in the National Football League Draft on him. Elliot was able to burst onto the scene as he led the NFL in rushing with 1,631 rushing yards, while he drew comparisons to Hall of Fame running backs in Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith who also played for the Cowboys. Elliot provided Dallas with a “home-run hitter” at the running back position as he was always a step away from breaking a big play. And in the process Elliot was able to make Cowboys owner/president Jerry Jones look like a genius after investing several first-round picks into his offensive line and coming to his senses by putting an explosive ball carrier behind the line after he let running back DeMarco Murray leave as a free agent in 2014.

Elliot was the engine for the Cowboys offense as he carried the football 322 times. And in the process his ability helps the passing game in Dallas due to the fact that opposing defenses must consistently focus on him.

Like Elliot, quarterback Dak Prescott was a part of the Cowboys draft class in 2016. But unlike Elliot, Prescott didn’t enter the National Football League with as much fanfare. Dallas used a fourth-round selection on Prescott who was simply expected to simply be a backup to starting quarterback Tony Romo. However when Romo suffered a compression fracture in his back during the preseason, the starting quarterback job became Prescott’s to lose.

Dak Prescott

After the Cowboys lost their first game with Prescott as their starting quarterback, Dallas would reel off 11 consecutive wins as they became the team to beat in the NFC. Prescott was not going to overtake Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers or New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in order to be the top signal caller in the National Football League, but he was still effective due to his smarts. Prescott learned very quickly to allow the game to come to him which means not trying to win by himself. Prescott is not a “game manager” but he is someone who knows how to put the football into the hands of the play makers around which has seen him draw comparisons to another former Cowboys quarterback in Troy Aikman.

Prescott has the luxury of not only handing off to Elliot, but he also can pass the football to a talented trio of wide receivers in Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and Terrance Williams, while you cannot overlook the ageless one at tight end in Jason Witten who even at the age of 35 can still split the seams in a defense with the best of them. Witten continues to be “Steady Eddie” in the Cowboys offense, and by the end of the season he’ll be in the top five of the National Football League’s all-time list for receptions.

The current Cowboys offensive line might not be as good as the unit from the 1990’s which changed the game, but these guys are still very effective. The Dallas offensive line is littered with first-round selections which includes left tackle Tyron Smith. And as long as this unit can continue to effectively open holes for Elliot, pass protection for Prescott will be easier due to opponents being so conscience of the Cowboys running game.

For Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, he must find a way for his unit to wreak more havoc in order to offset the team’s explosive offense. Strong safety Barry Church led Dallas in interceptions last season with only 2, and he is no longer with the club, while no Cowboys defender was able to record at least 10 sacks last year.

Jaylon Smith

Dallas should get a boost in their front seven with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith returning from injury. Smith would have been a first-round pick last year had it not been for him tearing ligaments in both his ACL and LCL during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. The Cowboys would draft Smith in the second round last year due to his potential when healthy. And after Smith sat out the entire 2016 National Football League season while recovering, he is ready to be an impact player this year.

Dallas’ pass rush has the potential to be solid if everyone is able to get on the same page. There is potential in defensive end Taco Charlton who Dallas selected in the first round this year, but this team needs more depth in regards to pass rushers, and thus it is important for the Cowboys to get both defensive end Randy Gregory as well as defensive end Damontre Moore back as they are both currently suspended by the National Football League.

It will also be important for the Cowboys to create pressure with their front seven as the team’s secondary still has question marks after they were 26th in the National Football League last year in pass defense. And as this unit lacks play makers, the Cowboys could be susceptible to the deep ball.

The Cowboys will continue have one of the better special teams units in the National Football League due to the strong right leg of kicker Dan Bailey. In six years with the Cowboys, Bailey has become one of the most accurate kickers in league history which has also seen him make 24-of-35 attempts from beyond 50 yards. And that powerful and accurate leg of Bailey should help to win a few games for the Cowboys here in 2016.

After the Cowboys had the best record in the NFC last year, they have to be ready to take every opponent’s best punch. However all of the Cowboys losses last year came within the NFC East as it will be very tough for them to repeat as division champs.

Washington Redskins 6-10

Ever since the Washington Redskins won the Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 1991 National Football League season, things have gotten away from this once proud franchise. The Redskins only have six playoff appearances to their credit since then with just three postseason victories. Washington would come out of nowhere to win the NFC East in 2015, but when the expectations rose for them last year, they hung in there until the final week of the regular season when a loss to the New York Giants eliminated them from postseason contention. Now as Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and his team look to bounce back this year, they’ll have their work cut out for them with a team that will be much different from the squad that took the field last season.

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins has been the Redskins starting quarterback for the last two years, but his relationship with the organization has been contentious at best. After Cousins set a Redskins record by passing for 4,166 yards in 2015, the organization used the franchise tag on him for 2016. And after Cousins and Washington could not come to an agreement on a long-term deal, he went out last season and passed for 4,917 yards.

Cousins and the Redskins would continue to have problems as the team allowed his top two wide receivers in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to leave in free agency. Cousins was reluctant to sign his franchise tender as he was seeking to be traded to the San Francisco 49ers, but his request would not be obliged. Cousins is still on the Redskins roster, but generally nothing good comes when there is an unhappy camper on the team.

Terrelle Pryor

Cousins’ new go-to-guy in passing will be wide receiver Terrelle Pryor. Pryor initially entered the National Football League as a quarterback, but he was converted to wide receiver. Last year Pryor led the Cleveland Browns in receptions (77), and receiving yards (1,007). At 6’6″, 240 lbs., Pryor is an imposing figure, but it will be important for him to get onto the same page with Cousins early.

Tight end Jordan Reed will also be important to Washington’s passing game. Reed is listed as a tight end, but Gruden tends to use him in the H-back mode as he can do a little bit of everything. However Reed must find a way to stay on the field as he has never appeared in all 16 games during his five-year career in the National Football League.

But as sharp as Cousins can be in the passing game, he can’t do it by himself and the Redskins need their running game to improve in order to provide some balance. Last year Washington was 21st in the National Football League which is not going to cut if they intend to win the NFC East. Running back Robert Kelley should receive the bulk of the carries for the ‘Skins, but keep an eye on rookie running back Semaje Perine who at 5’11, 236 lbs., was a load to bring down during his collegiate career with the Oklahoma Sooners.

It’s been some time since Washington was solid on defense which included them being 28th in total defense last season. The Redskins defense suffered a huge blow when outside linebacker Trent Murphy was lost in the preseason to a torn ACL. As a rookie in 2016, strong safety Su’a Cravens showed the promise of being a difference maker, but now the Redskins are without his services as he is flirting with retiring. Washington still has outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan who has tallied a combined 34 sacks over the last three years, as well as cornerback Josh Norman who is solid in coverage. However not having having more play makers on this side of the football will makes things tougher for Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.

In 2015, Gruden had the Redskins headed in the right direction, but things have gotten away from him rather quickly as another losing campaign appears to be on the horizon.

X-Division Winner

Y-Wild Card

Source: Pro-football-reference.com

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There’s No “D” In Big D

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The 2016 National Football League season saw the Dallas Cowboys re-emerge as a power. The Cowboys went 13-3 which tied their franchise best mark which was set in 1993 and 2007. And just like 2007 when the Cowboys had home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, they were one and done in the postseason. But even in defeat the Cowboys can hold their heads high as they were put in this position by a pair of promising rookies.

Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott

Running back Ezekiel Elliot was the fourth overall pick of the 2016 National Football League Draft and he delivered in a big way this season for the Cowboys as he had 1,631 rushing yards which led the league while also having 15 rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Dak Prescott didn’t come to the NFL with lofty expectations as he was a fourth round pick out of Mississippi State University. But when starting quarterback Tony Romo suffered an injury in the preseason, it opened the door for Prescott to become the Cowboys starting signal caller. Prescott was merely expected to keep the seat warm until Romo got healthy, however the wins kept piling up for the Cowboys with him under center and thus head coach Jason Garrett decided to stick with him.

And when the Cowboys faced the Green Bay Packers this past Sunday in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, before you blinked they were down 21-3 at home. However it was the combination of Prescott and Elliot who got the Cowboys back into the contest. With just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys managed to tie the score at 28. Even when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to put Green Bay in position to kick to go-ahead field goal to make it 31-28 with 93 seconds remaining, Prescott drove the Cowboys down the field to give kicker Dan Bailey the opportunity to once again tie the contest. But with just 35 seconds left, Rodgers found a way to get his team into field goal position which was highlighted by finding tight end Jared Cook and a 36-yard completion on third-and-20 which set up kicker Mason Crosby to make a 51-yard field goal as time expired to win the game for the Packers, and dash the Super Bowl dreams of the Cowboys.

And now as the Cowboys are left to lick their wounds after their heartbreaking loss, it is up to team owner/president/general manager Jerry Jones to address his defense.

The Cowboys were 14th in the National Football League in total defense this season and plus-five in the turnover category which was tied for ninth in the league. Dallas also managed to tally 36 sacks which were 13th in the NFL, but as they had game changers on offense, they were missing that element on defense.

The Cowboys lacked an edge rusher that could consistently put stress on an opposing offensive line, a menacing linebacker, or a game changer in their secondary. And even though that the Cowboys entered the playoffs with the best record in the NFC, it wasn’t a slam dunk that they were going to make the Super Bowl due to their inefficiencies on the defensive side of the football. The Cowboys were able to score points to keep up with the Packers as their rally was sparked by an interception by safety Jeff Heath in the second half. But when Dallas needed their defense late in the fourth quarter to prevent the Packers to get into scoring range, they were missing in action.

As good as Rodgers is, under no circumstances should he be allowed to make a 36-yard completion on a third-and-20 situation as he had enough in the pocket time to make dinner reservations if he needed to. And this is something that the Cowboys must address in the off-season if they want to become a realistic Super Bowl contender.

Randy Gregory

Jones attempted to remedy this by using a second round pick on defensive end Randy Gregory in 2015, but he has more suspensions (three) by the National Football League for failed drug test than he does sacks (1) as he cannot help the team win games while he is rehab. Last spring the Cowboys selected linebacker Jaylon Smith in the second round of the NFL Draft, but a knee injury that he suffered in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl while playing for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish forced him to miss this NFL season. The Cowboys also attempted to acquire defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson from the New York Jets this season. But the two sides could not agree on the compensation as the Jets wanted a first-round selection for Richardson, while the Cowboys were only willing to part with a third.

Improving the defense must be the Cowboys top priority in the off-season as it isn’t a guarantee that Elliot and Prescott can have these kind of seasons in 2017 due to the fact that teams in the National Football League will now have a year’s worth of game film on them. You can’t also overlook that all three of the Cowboys losses came within the NFC East this season as this division is on the verge of once again being one of the best in the league. The microscope will be concentrated on Prescott as I don’t see any scenario in which the Cowboys will keep Romo next season as they’ll definitely look for a trade partner being that so many teams around the league are desperate to have a quality starting quarterback which means that it is Dak’s time.

Jerry Jones

Jones has once again created a buzz around his franchise as he has constructed the Cowboys in the same fashion which led to three Super Bowl Championships over a four-year span in the 1990s. But Jones doesn’t have those impact players on defense in the mode of Charles Haley, Deion Sanders, and Darren Woodson that could take over a game. And until Jones addresses this issue, his beloved Cowboys won’t get any closer to winning the Super Bowl than they did this season.

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As Good As Advertised

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The ability to effectively run the football is a lost art in the National Football League. Last year only seven running backs gained more than 1,000 yards on the ground while ten had more than 900 yards. Once upon a time the 1,000-yard mark was the holy grail to measure a running back’s success by, but as the NFL has become a more pass happy league, along with the wear and tear that ball carriers are faced with, effective running has become a lost art.

But one team that doesn’t fit the norm in the National Football League is the Dallas Cowboys. In 2014, the Cowboys were second in the NFL in rushing which led to them winning the NFC East. And here in 2016, Dallas is once again second in the league in rushing. The Cowboys are 8-1 which is the best record in the NFL. Since 2011, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has used three, first-round picks on offensive linemen as he is looking to return his team to the glory days of the 1990’s when they won three Super Bowl Titles which was predicated on their ability to run the football. Jones has built his team in the trenches, but he was missing that one game changer that he now has.

After the 2014 National Football League season, the Cowboys surprisingly allowed running back DeMarco Murray to leave as a free agent after he led the league in rushing. And without Murray in 2015, along with injuries to starting quarterback Tony Romo, the Cowboys record reflected that as they went 4-12. The Cowboys subpar record meant that they would be selecting early on in the NFL Draft this past spring. And after the Cowboys missed out on drafting quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, Jones was more than happy to settle on running back Ezekiel Elliot.

Elliot joined the Cowboys as a very accomplished runner. As a sophomore in 2014, Elliot rushed for 1,878 yards and 18 touchdowns as he helped the Ohio State Buckeyes win the national title. Last year Elliot rushed for 1,821 yards as he was named as the Big Ten Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year.

In Elliot’s first game as a paid professional, he was limited to just 51 yards on the ground as the Cowboys lost to the New York Giants 20-19. The following week would see Elliot gain 83 yards rushing against the Washington Redskins, but a pair fumbles dipped into his playing time as head coach Jason Garrett would lean on veteran running back Alfred Morris. However the Cowboys would go on to win the contest 27-23. In Week 3 against the Chicago Bears, Elliot would explode for 140 yards as he and the Cowboys would begin to get their footing. Elliot has five, 100-yard rushing performances to his credit so far this season which includes him getting the Green Bay Packers for 157 yards in Week 6, and this past Sunday where he gained 114 yards rushing, along with 95 yards receiving as he was a one-man wrecking crew against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

So far for the season Elliot has 1,005 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns. And as Elliot’s play making ability has helped the Cowboys ascend to possessing the best record in the National Football League, he is also in line to possibly take home some hardware as the league’s MVP and Rookie of the Year.

At 6’0″, 225 lbs., Elliot is in that rare air as he has speed, elusiveness, vision, and power which are all vital to being a quality running back in the National Football League. Elliot’s rookie campaign can make the folks in Dallas reminisce about 1977 when Tony Dorsett joined the Cowboys after he won the Heisman Trophy in 1976 for the Pittsburgh Panthers. Dorsett provided the Cowboys with the backfield speed that they had been lacking as he gained 1,007 yards on the ground to help Dallas win the Super Bowl. But as Elliot has the speed of Dorsett, he also has the power of Emmitt Smith who’s legs churned in the 1990’s to help the Cowboys win three more Super Bowl Titles. And the more that Elliot can run to daylight, the optimism about the Cowboys winning another championship in the near future will continue to increase.

Right now the Cowboys appear to be one of the most complete teams in the National Football League due to their ability to run the football as effective as they’ve been with Elliot. Elliot’s ability has made life easier for Cowboys rookie running back Dak Prescott who doesn’t have to win the game by himself, as well as a defense which is 11th in total defense, as well as being plus-three in the turnover category. The running game has kept them fresh as they don’t have to be in the field as much.

And as it is getting close to the stretch run in the National Football League, the Cowboys will rely on Elliot and their running game more than ever in order to close out games, along with executing when the temperatures drops as the rushing attack will definitely be called upon. The Cowboys still have three divisional games remaining as they look to sew up home-field advantage in the NFC, and regardless of how far that they’ll go this season, the legs of Elliot will be a big part of it.

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2016 NFC East Projections

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X-Dallas Cowboys 9-7

After winning the NFC East in 2014, the bar of expectations for the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2015 National Football League season increased. But when quarterback Tony Romo suffered a broken clavicle last September, the Cowboys chances went up in smoke. Dallas would go 4-12 for their worst season since 1989 and they are now hopeful for a quick turnaround.

Ezekiel Elliot

With a porous season for the Cowboys, it resulted in them gaining the fourth overall pick in the National Football League Draft which led to them selecting former Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot is a home-run hitter at the running back position that is always on the verge of breaking a big play. Elliot will run behind an offensive line that is one of the biggest and physical groups in football as they are reminiscent of Dallas’ line in the 1990’s.

Left tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick are developing into two of the better players at their respective positions, and guard La’el Collins has the potential to be a Pro Bowl selection this year. And this offensive line will be very important as they must find a way to protect Romo.

Like Romo, wide receiver Dez Bryant is looking to bounce back after an injury hampered his 2015 campaign. Bryant only appeared in nine games last season due to a foot injury and his presence is vital for any success that the Cowboys intend on having. But Bryant has had to deal with his fair share of feet and ankle injuries and you have to wonder if he’ll begin to lose some of his speed and explosiveness. However having Bryant on the field opens things up for the other Cowboys wide receivers such as Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams who then tend to get more one-on-one coverage on them.

But the Cowboys chances simply come down to the health of Romo. Collarbone and clavicle injuries have been taking their toll on Romo who is one or two good hits away from having to bid farewell to the National Football League. And unfortunately for the Cowboys, they don’t have any insurance behind Romo as they have not used a first-round pick on a quarterback since selecting Troy Aikman in 1989.

Defensive for the Cowboys, team owner/general manager Jerry Jones took some chances on some players and it has recently come back to bite him in the rear end. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, middle linebacker Rolando McClain, and defensive end Randy Gregory are facing suspensions from the National Football League this year as each player was expected to have an impact on that side of the football for Dallas.

In the secondary, cornerback Morris Claiborne has nine lives and he might be on his ninth life with the Cowboys as it simply has not worked out for him in Dallas. But cornerback/safety Byron Jones could be ready to step into a leadership role on that side of the football.

Kicker Dan Bailey has been a key cog for the Cowboys in recent years as he is almost automatic from within 55 yards, and more importantly he has a strong leg to get it done when the temperature changes which will be big for Dallas’ chances of getting to the postseason.

Jason Garrett

For Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, he and his squad have a chance to get on the right foot as they’ll host the New York Giants in Week 1 before traveling to face the Washington Redskins in Week 2. The Redskins won the NFC East last year and the Cowboys definitely want to try to set the tone for themselves in 2016 with a strong start within the division.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Giants 9-7

There will definitely be a different feel to the New York Giants this year as for the first time since 2003, Tom Coughlin is not the team’s head coach. Coughlin was at the forefront of one of the greatest stretches in Giants franchise history, but after three consecutive losing seasons and not making the postseason since 2011, he was relieved of his duties at the end of the 2015 National Football League season. But if you’ve watched the Giants over the past two years, you saw the writing on the wall when Ben McAdoo was hired to be the team’s offensive coordinator in 2014. McAdoo has been groomed to be the Giants head coach and the time is now for him to have his opportunity.

Eli Manning

For Giants quarterback Eli Manning, he is hands down the most prolific quarterback in the 92-year history of the franchise. But what has hurt Manning recently is that the Giants have not put the most talented team around him. However Manning is entering his third season working with McAdoo which should benefit him and the Giants offense.

One thing that will definitely help Manning is wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. In just two years in the National Football League, Beckham has already amassed 2,755 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns as he is on the fast track to becoming the best wide receiver in the history of the Giants.

But the Giants will holding their breath on wide receiver Victor Cruz who has been hit with the injury bug over the last two years. In 2014, Cruz suffered a torn patellar tendon, while a calf injury kept him out for the entire 2015 National Football League season. The deck is stacked against him as far as having the same explosiveness that made him an overnight sensation in 2011, however the key for him is to be healthy.

Sterling Shepard

In the second round of the 2016 National Football League Draft, the Giants selected wide receiver Sterling Shepard who is Cruz with the explosiveness. The last few years have seen Shepard be one of the most dynamic wide receivers on the college football scene and it shouldn’t take him that long to become a favorite of Manning; especially on third down.

However as good as Beckham, Cruz, and Shepard can be, they are all smaller wide receivers which doesn’t help the Giants in the red zone where they need a big, physical receiver, or tight end. The Giants haven’t had a wide receiver with that presence since Hakeem Nicks in 2011, and they’ve lacked a player with that ability at tight end since Jeremy Shockey who last played with the team in 2007. However the Giants believe in their combination at tight end in Will Tye and Larry Donnell to be good options for Manning.

Under McAdoo, Manning has worked on getting the football out quicker which has taken away some stress from the Giants offensive line. But after having so much continuity on the offensive line from 2005-2012, the Giants have spent the past few years getting younger and more athletic. The Giants have used first-round picks on left tackle Ereck Flowers and guard Justin Pugh who along with center Weston Richburg need to become consistent contributors on the offensive line in 2016 if New York’s offense is going to have some success.

Defensively in 2015, the Giants never got on track as they were the worst unit in the National Football League. It was ten times easier for opponents to navigate their way through the Giants defense than traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike as they simply couldn’t stop anyone. As Steve Spagnuolo is in the second year of his second stint as Giants defensive coordinator, he is looking to get the unit back to what he had in 2007 when they made life tough for opposing quarterbacks en route to winning the Super Bowl.

A fireworks incident appeared ready to derail the career of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul who played last year in spite of losing two fingers. Pierre-Paul played with a “club” on his right hand, and although that he was able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, he was unable to record sacks. Pierre-Paul had a surgery on his hand this off-season that means no more club for him on his right hand, but he will still be fighting an uphill battle to tally quarterback sacks.

To offset Pierre-Paul, Giants general manager Jerry Reese went out and spent big in free agency on the defensive side of the football. The Giants signed defensive end Olivier Vernon to a five-year contract that could potentially be worth $85 million. In four seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Vernon had 29 sacks, but with the contract that he signed, the folks in the Tri-State Area want to see him become a great pass rusher in the mode of Lawrence Taylor and Michael Strahan.

Aside from Vernon, the Giants also signed defensive tackle Damon Harrison and cornerback Janoris Jenkins to big deals this off-season, while using their first-round pick on cornerback Eli Apple. The additions of Jenkins and Apple give the Giants much needed depth in the secondary as veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could be the team’s nickel cornerback, or Apple could assume that role as he gets his feet wet.

Landon Collins

After a solid rookie season in 2015, strong safety Landon Collins could be ready to take a bigger role defensively as he showed flashes last year of being a game changer which will be vital if the Giants are going to end their playoff drought.

The Giants linebacking core has been weak in recent years and this is a unit that has been searching for a leader since Antonio Pierce retired in 2009. And it will once again be a patch work unit here in 2016 which will hurt New York’s chances.

It seems like just about each National Football League season in recent years has the Giants opening with the Dallas Cowboys and that will be the same in 2016 when New York travels to AT&T Stadium to get things started in a few weeks. But the pressure will be on Reese to get the Giants to the playoffs for the first time since winning Super Bowl 46 as he has run out of people to fire and team co-owner John Mara wants to see some positive results from his team.

Washington Redskins 6-10

The Washington Redskins found themselves as one of the pleasant surprises during the 2015 National Football League season as they came out of nowhere to win the NFC East. But the Redskins will begin 2016 looking to do something that they have not done since 1992 which is to make the playoffs in consecutive years. And to give you an idea of how long that has been, it was the last year of Joe Gibbs’ initial run as Redskins head coach, while the team still also called RFK Stadium home.

Kirk Cousins

In 2015, Kirk Cousins shocked many skeptics (myself included) to have the finest passing season of any Redskins quarterback to date. Cousins passed for 4,196 yards and 29 touchdowns as his famous catchphrase “you like that” was right at the forefront. The emergence of Cousins would see the Redskins part with quarterback Robert Griffin III who was the second overall pick of the 2012 National Football League Draft. Ironically Cousins was a seventh-round selection that year, but he was the one that was more prepared for the pro-style offense that Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is running. But the biggest question around Cousins entering the upcoming season is whether or not that last year was a fluke, or is he ready to become the Redskins franchise quarterback?

The Redskins allowed running back Alfred Morris to leave in free agency which means that running back Matt Jones will have an increased role this year in the team’s rushing attack. Morris was the team’s leading rusher last year with just 751 and Washington cannot afford to have an imbalance on offense like they did in 2015.

Tight end Jordan Reed and wide receiver Pierre Garcon should once again be the recipient of the majority of Cousins passes, but the Redskins must find a way to incorporate wide receiver DeSean Jackson into the offense more. Jackson missed six games last year due to injury and and Washington needs him to be healthy as he is their deep threat at wide receiver.

Last year under defensive coordinator Joe Barry, the Redskins defense was a no-named band of brothers. But there will be some swagger in D.C. this year with the addition of cornerback Josh Norman. In four years with the Carolina Panthers, Norman developed a reputation around the National Football League as a solid cover corner. However we’ll soon find out if what we’ve seen from Norman was his ability, or the fact that he played behind a solid front seven with the Panthers.

Washington will have the luxury of beginning the upcoming season with consecutive home games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. But it will be tough for the Redskins to once again find the formula that worked so fluidly for them in 2015.

Philadelphia Eagles 6-10

Jeffrey Lurie

After nearly three years of seeing the Chip Kelly experiment destroy his locker room, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie decided to make a change. Lurie had gotten away from what had made his Eagles successful when he fired longtime head coach Andy Reid in 2012, in favor of a college coach in Kelly. Kelly tried to run the Eagles in the same mode that he ran his college program with the Oregon Ducks, but in the National Football League he didn’t realize that he was dealing with grown men. Lurie gave Kelly full autonomy over all personnel decisions which was a recipe for disaster. But Lurie saw the ills of his ways and he has decided to go back to the formula that made his Eagles a perennial playoff contender in the 2000’s.

With the termination of Kelly, Howie Roseman who is the Eagles executive vice president of football operations is now back to being the main decision maker when it comes to the team’s personnel moves. Roseman’s first order of business was to hire Doug Pederson as the Eagles new head coach. Pederson is very familiar with the Eagles family as he played for them as well as serving as an assistant coach under Reid.

Doug Pederson

Pederson is looking to rebuild the Eagles from the ground up and the first order of business for him was to find a franchise quarterback. At the 2016 National Football League Draft, the Eagles moved up to the second overall spot to select quarterback Carson Wentz. At 6’5″ 237 lbs., Wentz has the size to be a solid NFL quarterback, along with a strong arm. But Wentz has a tough task ahead of him as he looks to win over the fans in Philadelphia who’ve been known to be rather hostile.

However the Eagles are going about in the right way as Wentz is not expected to begin the season under center for the Eagles as he’ll have a clipboard in his hands, and an earpiece in his ear. Sam Bradford was the Eagles starting quarterback in 2015, and even though that the writing is on the wall as far as him not being in the long term plans of Philadelphia, he isn’t ready to give up the starter’s role without a fight.

It’s best that the Eagles are not ready to throw Wentz to the wolves as they don’t have a solid running game to protect him. The Eagles will more than likely employ a running back by committee system with Ryan Matthews and Kenjon Barner more than likely getting the bulk of the carries.

Zach Ertz

Philadelphia does have some young talent to catch the football in wide receiver Jordan Matthews and tight Zach Ertz who should once again be able to click with Bradford in the passing game. And it also didn’t hurt that the Eagles recently acquired wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham from the Tennessee Titans. Green-Beckham has immense potential, but it is just a matter of him becoming consistent.

The Eagles defense has been undersized in recent years with Kelly at the helm, but there will be a new brand of physical and aggressive football under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. The Eagles were 30th in the National Football League last year in total defense and in order for them to improve, safety Malcolm Jenkins cannot lead this unit in tackles for a second consecutive year. The Eagles have veteran pass rushers in defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and defensive end Connor Barwin who must get after opposing quarterbacks and possibly force some turnovers.

The Eagles will more than likely be fighting an uphill battle in 2016, but Pederson is in the process of laying the foundation for his time in Philadelphia.

X-Division Winner

Source: Pro-football-reference.com

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2016 NFC East Draft Grades

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Washington Redskins

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Josh Doctson-Wide Receiver-TCU

Best Pick: Round Seven-Keith Marshall-Running Back-Georgia

The Washington Redskins found themselves in an unfamiliar spot during the National Football League Draft as they were picking in the later portion of each round. After winning the NFC East last year, Washington came into the NFL Draft with the 21st overall pick. The Redskins would end up trading back one spot in the first round with the Houston Texans and they still got their guy in Texas Christian University Horned Frogs wide receiver Josh Doctson.

Doctson comes to the Redskins after he was one of the best wide receivers in the Big 12 Conference last year. As a senior at TCU, Doctson tallied 79 receptions for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns. And at 6’2″, Doctson gives the Redskins some size at the wide receiver position which is an element that their offense has lacked for quite some time.

Su’a Cravens

The second round saw Washington select Southern California Trojans linebacker Su’a Cravens. Cravens went to USC as a safety, but over time he began to play more in the box. At 6’1″, 226 lbs., Cravens is undersized for a linebacker as he could be a classic tweener in the National Football League, and it’ll be interesting to see how he will be used in the D.C.

Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Kendall Fuller suffered an injury which prevented him from being drafted in the first round of the draft. Fuller fell to the third round where the Redskins selected him, and if healthy, he will give them depth in their secondary due to his tremendous coverage skills.

In the seventh round the Redskins selected Georgia Bulldogs running back Keith Marshall. After a solid freshman campaign, Marshall appeared ready for stardom until a knee injury derailed him which resulted in him being available so late. But if Marshall is healthy, the Redskins may have gotten themselves one of the biggest steals of the draft.

Philadelphia Eagles

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Carson Wentz-Quarterback-North Dakota State

Best Pick: Carson Wentz

The Philadelphia Eagles and new head coach Doug Pederson followed the trend in the National Football League which is for head coaches to draft a quarterback upon taking over a club. The Eagles are hopeful that they have their guy in North Dakota State Bison quarterback Carson Wentz who they selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

The Eagles entered the National Football League Draft with the with 13th overall pick. The Eagles first moved up to the eighth overall slot when they traded with the Miami Dolphins, before they inched up the ladder some more when they came to an agreement with the Tennessee Titans to obtain the second overall selection.

Carson Wentz

At 6’5″, 237 lbs., Wentz has solid size and he came from an offense in college that won’t have a steep learning curve as far as him getting accustomed to a pro-style offense. And after the Eagles moved up so much to acquire Wentz, this marriage between he and Pederson must work, or they’ll both be out of Philadelphia in a few years.

By giving picks to the Titans, the Eagles didn’t have the opportunity to build on depth in the middle rounds, but they did have three, seventh round picks with one being used on LSU Tigers safety Jalen Mills. Mills will be a special teams contributor at the outset, but it won’t take him that long to get into the Eagles rotation in their secondary.

New York Giants

Grade: B-

First Round Pick: Eli Apple-Cornerback-Ohio State

Best Pick: Round Two-Sterling Shepard-Wide Receiver-Oklahoma

The New York Giants entered the 2016 National Football League Draft expected to beef up a defense that was one of the worst in the league last season. But after the Chicago Bears jumped ahead of them to select Georgia Bulldogs outside linebacker Leonard Floyd in the first round, they set their sights on Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Eli Apple.

In Apple, the Giants added depth in their secondary while his presence should be able to sure up their nickel packages as they already have cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Sterling Shepard

The Giants found themselves an impact player in the second round where they selected Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Shepard is a terrific route runner that Giants quarterback Eli Manning will learn to lean on when it comes time to moving the chains on third down.

In the fifth round the Giants selected UCLA Bruins running back Paul Perkins who will definitely compete for carries, while their sixth round in South Carolina Gamecocks tight end Jerell Adams will be a project as they are hopeful that he can develop into a solid contributor.

Dallas Cowboys

Grade: B-

First Round Pick: Ezekiel Elliot-Running Back-Ohio State

Best Pick: Ezekiel Elliot

Coming into the 2016 National Football League Draft, I expected the Dallas Cowboys to select Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Joey Bosa. But after the San Diego Chargers surprised the football world by selecting Bosa with the third overall pick, the Cowboys decided on his collegiate teammate in running buck Ezekiel Elliot.

Ezekiel Elliot

What Elliot provides Dallas with is a home-run hitter at the tailback position that can be equally explosive in the running in passing games. The Cowboys took a chance in the second round on Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith who would have been a first-round pick had he not suffered a horrific knee injury during the Fiesta Bowl this past January.

The Cowboys did use a fourth-round selection on Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott. But I don’t see his skill set of being a dual-threat quarterback in college translating to being a solid professional quarterback as Dallas needs to groom a player to be the heir apparent to their current starting quarterback in Tony Romo. And at Mississippi State, Prescott never showed the ability to consistently make passing plays from the pocket.

Dallas did use a sixth-round pick on tight end Rico Gathers who is very interesting being that he spent his entire collegiate career with the Baylor Bears as a basketball player as they are hopeful that his athleticism on the hardwood will transfer to the gridiron.

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2016 NFL Mock Draft 3.0

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Carson Wentz

1. Los Angeles Rams-Jared Goff-Quarterback-California

This is a make or break pick for Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher.

2. Philadelphia Eagles-Carson Wentz-Quarterback-Nortk Dakota State

Regardless of who the Philadelphia Eagles select here, the fans in Philly will boo the choice.

3. San Diego Chargers-Laremy Tunsil-Offensive Tackle-Ole Miss

Here the San Diego Chargers will find a player than can anchor their offensive line for the next decade.

 

4. Dallas Cowboys-Joey Bosa-Defensive End-Ohio State

The Dallas Cowboys could go in several directions here, but they need to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars-Jalen Ramsey-Free Safety-Florida State

Jalen Ramsey will be a starter from his first day in Jacksonville and his playmaking ability will put fear into opposing offenses.

6. Baltimore Ravens-Ronnie Stanley-Offensive Tackle-Notre Dame

With quarterback Joe Flacco returning from a knee injury, the Baltimore Ravens must protect him up front.

Laquon Treadwell

7. San Francisco 49ers-Laquon Treadwell-Wide Receiver-Ole Miss

San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly loves speed, and he’ll get a wealth of it here with Laquon Treadwell.

8. Cleveland Browns-Ezekiel Elliot-Running Back-Ohio State

The Cleveland Browns could have one of the fastest backfield tandems in the National Football League with Ezekiel Elliot and quarterback Robert Griffin III.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Jack Conklin-Offensive Tackle-Michigan State

Last year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers found their franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston, and now they’ll find a left tackle that will protect his blindside.

Leonard Floyd

10. New York Giants-Leonard Floyd-Outside Linebacker-Georgia

It will come down to Shaq Lawson or Leonard Floyd here for the New York Giants. But right now Floyd is trending upwards.

11. Chicago Bears-Taylor Decker-Offensive Tackle-Ohio State

Jay Cutler is still the guy for the Chicago Bears at quarterback. And being that Cutler loves to throw the deep ball, Chicago must provide protection for him.

Vernon Hargreaves III

12. New Orleans Saints-Vernon Hargreaves III-Cornerback-Florida

Last year saw the New Orleans Saints secondary cooked by opposing offenses which makes the selection of Vernon Hargreaves III here a no-brainer.

13. Miami Dolphins-Eli Apple-Cornerback-Ohio State

The Miami Dolphins will get a cornerback in Eli Apple that isn’t afraid to play press coverage as he’ll bring some swagger to South Florida.

14. Oakland Raiders-Reggie Ragland-Inside Linebacker-Alabama

Very quietly the Oakland Raiders could have one of the best linebacker units in the National Football League.

15. Tennessee Titans-DeForest Bucker-Defensive End-Oregon

The Tennessee Titans could go with Shaq Lawson here, but DeForest Buckner possesses a little more versatility.

16. Detroit Lions-A’Shawn Robinson-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

The Detroit Lions need help in the trenches on both sides of the football, and A’Shawn Robinson is too talented to pass up on.

17. Atlanta Falcons-Sheldon Rankins-Defensive Tackle-Louisville

Brick by brick the Atlanta Falcons are building a solid defensive line.

18. Indianapolis Colts-Shaq Lawson-Defensive End-Clemson

Plain and simple the Indianapolis Colts need younger and more athletic players that can rush the quarterback.

Myles Jack

19. Buffalo Bills-Myles Jack-Outside Linebacker-UCLA

Myles Jack has top five talent, but concerns about his knee will see him fall in the draft.

20. New York Jets-Noah Spence-Defensive End-Eastern Kentucky

The New York Jets could go with quarterback Paxton Lynch here, but Noah Spence gives them another versatile edge rusher.

21. Washington Redskins-Corey Coleman-Wide Receiver-Baylor

The Washington Redskins have made it known that Kirk Cousins is their guy at quarterback which means that they need to give him more options at quarterback to get the football to.

22. Houston Texans-Jason Spirggs-Offensive Tackle-Indiana

The Houston Texans found their franchise quarterback in free agency when they signed Brock Osweiler; now it is time to protect him.

23. Minnesota Vikings-Will Fuller-Wide Receiver-Notre Dame

Speed is the name of the game in the National Football League, and wide receiver Will Fuller has a wealth of it.

24. Cincinnati Bengals-Keanu Neal-Strong Safety-Florida

The Cincinnati Bengals enter the National Football League Draft with needs on the defensive line and secondary and Keanu Neal fills one of those voids.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers-William Jackson III-Cornerback-Houston

The Pittsburgh Steelers need help on their defensive line, but they also need a cornerback to compliment William Gay.

26. Seattle Seahawks-Jarran Reed-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

The last two years have seen the Seattle Seahawks decimated in the trenches through free agency and trades as the rebuild begins here with Jarran Reed.

Vernon Butler

27. Green Bay Packers-Vernon Butler-Defensive Tackle-Louisiana Tech

With the surprising retirement of defensive tackle B.J. Raji, the Green Bay Packers need to find a new nose tackle that can plug up the middle.

28. Kansas City Chiefs-Josh Docston-Wide Receiver-TCU

During the Kansas City Chiefs playoff loss to the New England Patriots, their lack of production at the wide receiver position finally caught up to them.

Mackensie Alexander

29. Arizona Cardinals-Mackensie Alexander-Cornerback-Clemson

The Arizona Cardinals already have one of the best cornerbacks in the National Football League in Patrick Peterson, and the youngster Mackensie Alexander could learn from one of the best in the business.

30. Carolina Panthers-Germain Ifedi-Offensive Tackle-Texas A&M

The Carolina Panthers need more play makers at the wide receiver position, but they also need to provide more protection for quarterback Cam Newton.

31. Denver Broncos-Derrick Henry-Running Back-Alabama

The Denver Broncos could go quarterback here, but the talent of Derrick Henry is too good to pass on.

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2016 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

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1. Tennessee Titans-Laremy Tunsil-Offensive Tackle-Ole Miss

The Titans appear to have their franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota and they need to protect his blindside.

Jared Goff

2. Cleveland Browns-Jared Goff-Quarterback-California

It wouldn’t be a National Football League season without the Cleveland Browns starting over with a new general manager, head coach, and of course, a quarterback.

3. San Diego Chargers-Ronnie Stanley-Offensive Tackle-Notre Dame

The Chargers still appear to be committed to Philip Rivers as their starting quarterback which means that they may want to protect him.

4. Dallas Cowboys-A’Shawn Robinson-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

If not A’Shawn Robinson, the Cowboys could go with Joey Bosa here, but the bottom line is that they need help on their defensive line.

Jalen Ramsey

5. Jacksonville Jaguars-Jalen Ramsey-Cornerback-Florida State

It’s been awhile since the Jaguars have had themselves a shutdown corner.

6. Baltimore Ravens-Laquon Treadwell-Wide Recieiver-Ole Miss

The Ravens did use a first-round pick last year on a wide receiver in Breshad Perriman, but Laquon Treadwell is too good to pass on.

7. San Francisco 49ers-Myles Jack-Outside Linebacker-UCLA

The 49ers could go in several directions with this pick, but new head coach Chip Kelly covets athletic players.

8. Miami Dolphins-Vernon Hargraves-Cornerback-Florida

With wide receivers such as Sammy Watkins, Brandon Marshall, and Julian Edelman all calling the AFC East home, the Dolphins must solidify their secondary.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Taylor Decker-Offensive Tackle-Ohio State

The Buccaneers are looking to build around their young quarterback in Jameis Winston which means that is time for them to work on the offensive line in Tampa.

Joey Bosa

10. New York Giants-Joey Bosa-Defensive End-Ohio State

If Joey Bosa falls this far, the Giants won’t pass him up as they are desperate for pass rushers.

11. Chicago Bears-Andrew Billings-Defensive Tackle-Baylor

Bears head coach John Fox is looking to make his team tougher in the trenches.

Shaq Lawson

12. New Orleans Saints-Shaq Lawson-Defensive End-Clemson

The only way for the Saints to have a shot in the NFC South is to get more pressure from their defensive line.

13. Philadelphia Eagles-Paxton Lynch-Quarterback-Memphis

With the Chip Kelly experiment over in Philadelphia, new Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is looking to get back to the basics which includes him finding a franchise quarterback that he can develop.

14. Oakland Raiders-Jack Conklin-Offensive Tackle-Michigan State

Don’t look now, but the Raiders are picking later than they normally would while also drafting talent.

15. Los Angeles Rams-Carson Wentz-Quarterback-North Dakota State

The Rams will have a new city to play in for 2016; so why not get a young quarterback that can lead them into the future on the field?

Jonathan Bullard

16. Detroit Lions-Jonathan Bullard-Defensive End-Florida

In a division with Aaron Rodgers, Teddy Bridgewater, and Jay Cutler, the Lions cannot have enough pass rushers.

17. Atlanta Falcons-DeForest Buckner-Defensive End-Oregon

Last year it was Vic Beasley, and this time DeForest Buckner could be the guy that helps the Falcons to improve their front seven in 2016.

18. Indianapolis Colts-Shon Coleman-Offensive Tackle-Auburn

2015 was a nightmare for Colts quarterback Andrew Luck as he was injured which means that it is time to beef up the protection in front of him.

19. Buffalo Bills-Mackensie Alexander-Cornerback-Clemson

Rex Ryan is searching for the next Darrelle Revis, and he’ll take a chance on Mackensie Alexander.

20. New York Jets-Leonard Floyd-Outisde Linebacker-Georgia

The Jets have a ton of free agents and they need to get younger and more athletic at linebacker.

21. Washington Redskins-Eli Apple-Cornerback-Ohio State

If the playoffs showed us anything, it is that the Redskins need help in their secondary.

Connor Cook

22. Houston Texans-Connor Cook-Quarterback-Michigan State

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien doesn’t appear to be committed long term to Brian Hoyer at quarterback which means that Connor Cook could sneak in the back door.

23. Minnesota Vikings- Darron Lee-Outside Linebacker-Ohio State

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer loves defense and he finds another play maker here.

Robert Nkemdiche

24. Cincinnati Bengals-Robert Nkemdiche-Defensive Tackle-Ole Miss

If Robert Nkemdiche falls to the Bengals here, he might be the steal of the first round.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers-Germain Ifedi-Offensive Tackle-Texas A&M

With a veteran quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers must protect him.

26. Seattle Seahawks- Emmanuel Ogbah-Defensive End-Oklahoma State

The rich get richer as the Seahawks will get another freak of nature on the defensive side of the football.

27. Green Bay Packers-Reggie Ragland-Inside Linebacker-Alabama

The Packers need an upgrade at the inside linebacker position in order to allow Clay Matthews to be utilized more at outside linebacker.

28. Kansas City Chiefs-Jason Spriggs-Offensive Tackle-Indiana

The Chiefs are expected to be hit hard in free agency; especially on their offensive line.

29. Arizona Cardinals-Jarran Reed-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians loves physical play makers and he gets one here late in the first round.

Ezekiel Elliot

30. Carolina Panthers-Ezekiel Elliot-Running Back-Ohio State

The Panthers need to upgrade the passing game, but Ezekiel Elliot is too talented to pass up.

31. Denver Broncos-Derrick Henry-Running Back-Alabama

The Broncos love to run the football with their zone-blocking scheme, but when Derrick Henry gets a head of steam, look out.

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