Tag Archives: NFL Draft

A Golden Opportunity

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After the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 2009 National Football League season, they suffered a pair of heartbreaking postseason losses in 2010 and 2011 respectfully. Since then the Saints have only had one playoff appearance which can be traced back to the organization’s punishment for “Bountygate” which saw the NFL strip them of several draft picks, and the five-year, $100 million extension that quarterback Drew Brees signed in 2012. These two moves saw the Saints have a huge dip in their depth and overall talent pool as they were now fighting an uphill battle. Each of the last three years have seen the Saints finish with a record of 7-9 as they were a couple of breaks away from getting back to the postseason. But for the first time in a long time the Saints have a chance to put their inconsistencies behind them and get back to the playoffs if they continue to take care of business this off-season.

Brandin Cooks

In a surprising move this off-season the Saints traded wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots. Cooks was a first-round selection of the Saints in 2014 and he led the club in receiving yards in each of the last two seasons. Cooks was rapidly emerging as one of the best receivers in the National Football League; however he was falling out of favor in New Orleans after he began to publicly criticize the routes that he was sometimes asked to run. In exchange for sending Cooks to the Patriots, the Saints received a first and third-round pick, while they are also sending a fourth-round selection to New England. And with this additional arsenal of picks, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis could be ready to knock one out of the park.

Sean Payton

Saints head coach Sean Payton is one of the sharpest offensive minds in the National Football League, while Brees is a future Hall of Famer. And thus New Orleans has been one of the top offenses in the NFL in recent years. But Brees’ golden right arm alone can’t carry the Saints. The Saints issues have been on the defensive side of the football where they have not finished higher than 27th in total defense in each of the last three years which could be finally remedied later this month in the National Football League Draft.

The Saints are scheduled to pick three times within the first 42 selections and they could rack up on some defensive talent. After New Orleans was only able to tally 30 sacks last season with defensive end Cameron Jordan leading the team with 7.5, they have a chance to beef up their pass rush. Quality defensive ends such as Taco Charlton, Derek Barnett, and Charles Harris are all expected to be available when the Saints pick 11th. And as the Saints secondary has been barbecued in recent years, players such as cornerback Marlon Humphrey and strong safety Obi Melifonwu could be in play for them early as well. At some point the Saints are going to have to attempt to replace Cooks and his production. But being that most wide receivers in New Orleans are a product of having Brees throw them the football, I don’t see replacing Cooks as a top priority when the draft begins as their defense must find a way to neutralize Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback if they want to win the NFC South.

Mickey Loomis

In 2015, Loomis took some heat when he traded All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks. In exchange for Graham, New Orelans received center Max Unger and Seattle’s first-round pick. The Saints would use that selection on outside linebacker Stephone Anthony who in a short period of time has become a leader on the defensive side of the football. And if Loomis can find some game changing play makers on the defensive side of the football later this month in the draft, he could make the folks on the bayou forget about Cooks; especially if the Saints can get back to the playoffs.

This is the first time in a long time that the Saints will have a chance to get back on track. And if Loomis and Payton are able to it right, New Orleans could still be playing football when January rolls around.

Source: Pro-football-reference.com

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2017 NFL Mock Draft 3.0

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1. Cleveland Browns-Myles Garrett-Defensive End-Texas A&M

The Cleveland Browns could mess this up, but at some point common sense has to kick in.

2. San Francisco 49ers-Solomon Thomas-Defensive End-Stanford

There are several directions in which the 49ers could go here, but they need more play makers on their defensive line

3. Chicago Bears-Jamal Adams-Strong Safety-LSU

If the Chicago Bears are hopeful for a quick turnaround in 2017, they are going to have to go through the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers which means that they are going to have to beef up the secondary.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars-Leonard Fournette-Running Back-LSU

The Jaguars are in the business of improving the team around quarterback Blake Bortles which means that the running game is a top priority.

5. Tennessee Titans-Malik Hooker-Free Safety-Ohio State

The Titans are just one or two play makers away from being the team to beat in the AFC South. And the addition of Malik Hooker will get Tennessee closer to that goal.

Mitch Trubisky

6. New York Jets-Mitch Trubisky-Quarterback-North Carolina

The Jets could go quarterback here which would mean that they are giving up on quarterbacks Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenburg.

7. Los Angeles Chargers-Jabril Peppers-Strong Safety-Michigan

Jabril Peppers could be the ultimate wild card in the National Football League Draft as he could be selected anywhere from 5-25 in the first round.

8. Carolina Panthers-Dalvin Cook-Running Back-Florida State

When the Panthers were one of the top teams in the NFL in 2015, their bread and butter was the running game which they need to get back to.

9. Cincinnati Bengals-Derek Barnett-Defensive End-Tennessee

Under head coach Marvin Lewis, the Bengals have always had a litany of athletes on their defensive line which continues here with the addition of Derek Barnett.

10. Buffalo Bills-Marshon Lattimore-Cornerback-Ohio State

For the Buffalo Bills to assert themselves as a playoff team in 2017, they are going to have to go through the New England Patriots in the AFC East which means having as many athletes as possible in their secondary.

11. New Orleans Saints-Haason Reddick-Outside Linebacker-Temple

The Saints already have one of the top offenses in the National Football League, and now it is time to develop a complimentary defense.

Deshaun Watson

12. Cleveland Browns-Deshaun Watson-Quarterback-Clemson

Just like if the Browns avoid taking Myles Garrett, they will regret not taking Deshaun Watson here because he is a winner.

13. Arizona Cardinals-Corey Davis-Wide Receiver-Western Michigan

After wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had 1,023 receiving yards, J.J. Nelson was the next closest wide receiver on the Cardinals with just 568 yards which means that they need to get more players that can stretch the field.

14. Philadelphia Eagles-Christian McCaffrey-Running Back-Stanford

With running back Darren Sproles being 33-years of age, the Philadelphia Eagles need another versatile running back who can fill that void.

15. Indianapolis Colts-O.J. Howard-Tight End-Alabama

The Colts need to get more play makers around quarterback Andrew Luck and a tight end such as O.J. Howard who is theoretically a big wide receiver could help that process.

16. Baltimore Ravens-Jonathan Allen-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

If Jonathan Allen falls this far, he would come into the NFL with a chip on his shoulder, and he would join an organization that knows how to win.

17. Washington Redskins-Mike Williams-Wide Receiver-Clemson

After allowing wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to leave in the free agency, the Washington Redskins must do everything possible to keep quarterback Kirk Cousins happy.

18. Tennessee Titans-John Ross-Wide Receiver-Washington

As the Titans have one of the top rushing attacks in the NFL, they need a burner at the wide receiver position that can stretch the field on play action.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Reuben Foster-Inside Linebacker-Alabama

If the Buccaneers are going to be a legitimate playoff contender in 2017, they are going to need more leaders on the defensive side of the football.

20. Denver Broncos-David Njoku-Tight End-Miami

As the Denver Broncos hardly got any production out of the tight end position in 2016, they need to improve there regardless of whether it will be Trevor Semian or Paxton Lynch under center this year.

Taco Charlton

21. Detroit Lions-Taco Charlton-Defensive End-Michigan

After the Detroit Lions only registered 26 sacks last season, they need all of the help that they can get on their defensive line.

22. Miami Dolphins-Charles Harris-Defensive End-Missouri

If the Miami Dolphins are serious about pushing the Patriots for supremacy in the AFC East, they need as many pass rushers as possible in order to slow down quarterback Tom Brady.

23. New York Giants-Malik McDowell-Defensive Tackle

After the Giants recently lost defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins in free agency to the Colts, this is a no-brainer selection here for general manager Jerry Reese.

24. Oakland Raiders-Marlon Humphrey-Cornerback-Alabama

After watching the Raiders secondary once quarterback Derek Carr got injured last year, they need all the help that they can get.

Patrick Mahomes II

25. Houston Texans-Patrick Mahomes II-Quarterback-Texas Tech

The Texans thought that they were going to get quarterback Tony Romo which led them to trading quarterback Brock Osweiler to the Browns. But when Romo decided on retirement, it changed the thought process in Houston.

26. Seattle Seahawks-Ryan Ramczyk-Offensive Tackle-Wisconsin

As quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked 41 times last year, it is not a recipe for good things if the Seahawks want to be a legit title contender once again.

27. Kansas City Chiefs-Forrest Lamp-Guard-Western Kentucky

The Chiefs have several needs as they enter the NFL Draft, but Forrest Lamp is simply too good for them to pass up on.

Carl Lawson

28. Dallas Cowboys-Carl Lawson-Defensive End-Auburn

Ever since the Cowboys released defensive end DeMarcus Ware in 2014, they have lacked a quality edge rusher which has prevented them from being a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

29. Green Bay Packers-Tre’Davious White-Cornerback-LSU

After the Packers were lit up in the NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons, the secondary will be a top priority for them in the draft.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers-Zach Cunningham-Outside Linebacker-Vanderbilt

If you watched Zach Cunningham play in college, he is prototypical Steeler linebacker.

31. Atlanta Falcons-Garrett Bolles-Offensive Tackle-Utah

Whereas quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked 37 times last year, the Falcons are going to have to give him more protection if they want to get back to the Super Bowl.

32. New Orleans Saints-Kevin King-Cornerback-Washington

If the Saints fix their defense in this draft, they could be a playoff team this season.

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2017 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

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1. Cleveland Browns-Myles Garrett-Defensive End Texas A&M

Entering the 2017 National Football League Draft, Myles Garrett is the best player available which makes this an easy selection for the Browns.

2. San Francisco 49ers-Jonathan Allen-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

The Niners need a quarterback, but they get a value pick in Jonathan Allen while still having the ability to address that issue later in the draft.

3. Chicago Bears-Jamal Adams-Strong Safety-LSU

In a division that features quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, the Bears must get better in their secondary.

Dalvin Cook

4. Jacksonville Jaguars-Dalvin Cook-Running Back-Florida State

As the Jaguars leading rusher last season was T.J. Yeldon with just 465 yards. And with Tom Coughlin entrenched as the Jags executive vice president of football operations, Jacksonville will be a better running team by hook or by crook.

5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams)-Solomon Thomas-Defensive End-Stanford

The Titans are on the verge of being a playoff team and it’s time to get defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau some more play makers.

6. New York Jets-Marshon Lattimore-Cornerback-Ohio State

The Jets can go in several directions with this selection, but their safest choice could be cornerback.

Jabril Peppers

7. Los Angeles Chargers-Jabril Peppers-Strong Safety-Michigan

Not since the days of Rodney Harrison have the Chargers had an enforcer in their secondary which could change if they draft Jabril Peppers.

8. Carolina Panthers-Leonard Fournette-Running Back-LSU

The Panthers took a huge step backwards in 2016, and in order for them to resemble the team that went 15-1 in 2015, they have to get back to the basics which means a power rushing attack.

9. Cincinnati Bengals-Ryan Ramczyk-Offensive Tackle-Wisconsin

After allowing veteran offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth to leave in free agency, the Bengals need to get more athletic on their offensive line.

10. Buffalo Bills-Marlon Humphrey-Cornerback-Alabama

New Bills head coach Sean McDermott is a defensive minded coach. And after Buffalo allowed cornerback Stephon Gilmore to leave in free agency, this is a chance for them to address that void.

11. New Orleans Saints-Malik Hooker-Free Safety-Ohio State

If the Saints are going to squeeze another title run out of quarterback Drew Brees, they must assemble a defense that can stop opponents.

Deshaun Watson

12. Cleveland Browns (From Philadelphia Eagles)-Deshaun Watson-Quarterback-Clemson

With the luxury of two, first-round picks the Browns can get the best player available along with their franchise quarterback.

13. Arizona Cardinals-Reuben Foster-Inside Linebacker-Alabama

As the Cardinals are looking to bounce back in 2017, the first thing that they need is a leader on the defensive side of the football.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (From Minnesota Vikings)-Derek Barnett-Defensive End-Tennessee

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is working on getting this team back to what it was during the 2000’s which was being a consistent playoff team, and a defensive end like Derek Barnett who can wreak havoc is a step in that direction.

15. Indianapolis Colts-Corey Davis-Wide Receiver-Western Michigan

The Colts have a new general manager in Chris Ballard and it is time for this organization to put more talent around quarterback Andrew Luck.

16. Baltimore Ravens-Zach Cunningham-Outside Linebacker-Vanderbilt

The Ravens have always been an organization that is known for defense and player like Cunningham plays with a nasty disposition.

17. Washington Redskins-Mike Williams-Wide Receiver-Clemson

After the Redskins allowed wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson to walk in free agency, this is an opportunity to keep quarterback Kirk Cousins happy.

18. Tennessee Titans-John Ross-Wide Receiver-Washington

The Titans love to run the football and a burner like John Ross could be dangerous off of play action.

Christian McCaffrey

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Christian McCaffrey-Running Back-Stanford

The Buccaneers front office is showing that they are serious as far as putting a team around quarterback Jameis Winston and here they would get one of the best play makers in the draft.

20. Denver Broncos-O.J. Howard-Tight End-Alabama

The Broncos still have questions at the quarterback position, but bringing in a solid pass-catching tight end will benefit whoever is taking the snaps.

21. Detroit Lions-Taco Charlton-Defensive End-Michigan

As a team the Lions only had 26 sacks last year with no player accumulating more than 8 which makes selecting Taco Charlton here a no-brainer.

22. Miami Dolphins-Obi Melifonwu-Strong Safety-Connecticut

As the Dolphins continue to bring in play makers on the defensive side of the football, they’ll be out to show that their playoff run last year wasn’t a fluke.

23. New York Giants-Cam Robinson-Offensive Tackle-Alabama

There are several directions in which the Giants can go here, but it might be time for them to move Ereck Flowers to right tackle.

24. Oakland Raiders-TreDavious White-Cornerback-LSU

When quarterback Derek Carr suffered a fractured fibula last year, the Raiders secondary got exposed when the offense wasn’t putting up 30 points per game anymore.

25. Houston Texans-Forrest Lamp-Guard-Western Kentucky

The Texans already have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, and it could get better here by adding Forrest Lamp.

26. Seattle Seahawks-Garrett Bolles-Offensive Tackle-Utah

Last year Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked 41 times and that isn’t going to cut it if Seattle wants to get back to the Super Bowl.

27. Kansas City Chiefs-Curtis Samuel-Wide Receiver-Ohio State

In 2016, the Chiefs didn’t have a wide receiver gain 600 yards as they need explosiveness at the position in order to take some attention off of tight end Travis Kelce.

28. Dallas Cowboys-Charles Harris-Defensive End-Missouri

The Dallas Cowboys have everything on offense to be a Super Bowl contender, but until they can improve their pass rush, it won’t mean a thing.

29. Green Bay Packers-Malik McDowell-Defensive Tackle-Michigan State

In three playoff games last season the Packers surrendered 88 points as quarterback Aaron Rodgers cannot bail them out all of the time.

Tim Williams

30. Pittsburgh Steelers-Tim Williams-Outside Linebacker-Alabama

Tim Williams could be the steal of the first round as he goes to a team in the Steelers that loves to have versatile linebackers.

31. Atlanta Falcons-Takkarist McKinley-Outside Linebacker-UCLA

The Falcons had a solid defense in 2016, but after watching the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 51, it is clear that they need more pass rushers.

32. New Orleans Saints (From New England Patriots)-Carl Lawson-Defensive End-Auburn

If the Saints are able to fix their defense, a trip to the postseason is very likely here in 2017.

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2017 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

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1. Cleveland Browns Myles Garrett-Defensive End-Texas A&M

The Cleveland Browns have a ton of needs heading into the National Football League Draft, and a good place to start is to pick the best player that will be available.

 

Mitch Trubisky

2. San Francisco 49ers- Mitch Trubisky-Quarterback-North Carolina

The San Francisco 49ers are set to begin life with a new general manager in John Lynch, and a new head coach in Kyle Shanahan as it only makes sense for them to find a new franchise quarterback as well.

3. Chicago Bears-Jonathan Allen-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

In order for the Chicago Bears to once again be a player in the NFC North, they are going to have to get tougher in the trenches.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars-Dalvin Cook-Running Back-Florida State

In 2016, the Jacksonville Jaguars leading rusher was running back T.J. Yeldon with just 465 which is all that you’ll need to know why they must select a running back here.

5. Tennessee Titans-Solomon Thomas-Defensive End-Stanford

The Tennessee Titans are on the cusp of being the team to beat in the AFC South. And with Dick LeBeau as the Titans defensive coordinator, it’s time to stockpile up on versatile edge rushers.

6. New York Jets-Marshon Lattimore-Cornerback-Ohio State

There are numerous ways that the New York Jets can go with this selection. But with an aging Darrelle Revis at cornerback, the Jets must get younger in the secondary.

7. Los Angeles Chargers-Malik Hooker-Free Safety-Ohio State

2016 saw the Los Angeles Chargers go out of their way to lose games, and a turnaround begins with solidifying the secondary.

 

Leonard Fournette

8. Carolina Panthers- Leonard Fourtnette-Running Back-LSU

The Carolina Panthers love to run the football which is something that they got away from last year. But it won’t take the Panthers that long to get back to what won them the NFC Championship in 2015.

9. Cincinnati Bengals-Mike Williams-Wide Receiver-Clemson

Injuries have taken away from the effectiveness of wide receiver A.J. Green, and it’s time for the Cincinnati Bengals to add some depth at the position.

10. Buffalo Bills-DeShone Kizer-Quarterback-Notre Dame

This selection will signal the end of Tyrod Taylor’s time with the Buffalo Bills.

11. New Orleans Saints-Zach Cunningham-Outside Linebacker-Vanderbilt

The NFC South is littered with quality quarterbacks, and if the New Orleans Saints are going to get to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, they are going to need more pass rushers.

12. Cleveland Browns-Reuben Foster-Inside Linebacker-Alabama

Browns head coach Hue Jackson is looking to change the culture within his locker room. And what a better way to begin that process than by bringing in a player such as Reuben Foster who is a winner.

13. Arizona Cardinals-Ryan Ramczyk-Offensive Tackle-Wisconsin

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer was sacked 40 times last year. And if the Cardinals are going to entertain any chances of making the Super Bowl, they must protect Palmer.

14. Indianapolis Colts-Cam Robinson-Offensive Tackle-Alabama

For too long the Indianapolis Colts organization has asked quarterback Andrew Luck to do too much by himself. Luck is one of the better play makers in the NFL, but he needs protection in front of him.

15. Philadelphia Eagles-Teez Tabor-Cornerback-Florida

In a division with wide receivers such as Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr., and DeSean Jackson, the Philadelphia Eagles need as many athletes as possible in their secondary.

16. Baltimore Ravens-Derek Barnett-Defensive End-Tennessee

When the Baltimore Ravens are at their best, they are rushing the passer.

17. Washington Redskins-Jamal Adams-Strong Safety-LSU

Last season the Washington Redskins were 25th in the NFL in pass defense as they need a play maker in their secondary.

 

Jabril Peppers

18. Tennessee Titans-Jabril Peppers-Strong Safety-Michigan

Don’t expect the Titans to be pushed around defensively in 2017.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-O.J. Howard-Tight End-Alabama

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have their franchise quarterback as they are continuing the process of putting quality players around him at the skill positions.

20. Denver Broncos-Christian McCaffrey-Running Back-Stanford

For many years wide receiver Ed McCaffrey was one of the go-to guys for quarterback John Elway with the Denver Broncos. And with Elway now serving as the Broncos executive vice president of football operations, he’ll find another play maker from Stanford who’ll make a huge impact in Denver.

21. Detroit Lions-Taco Charlton-Defensive End-Michigan

Last year the Detroit Lions only managed to register 26 sacks, and if they’re going to overtake the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, they must find a way to get to quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

22. Miami Dolphins-David Njoku-Tight End-Miami

David Njoku won’t spend that much money on moving expenses as he’ll just move to another locker room at Hard Rock Stadium.

23. New York Giants-Carl Lawson-Defensive End-Auburn

Just in case that the New York Giants don’t re-sign defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, they’ll get themselves some insurance.

24. Oakland Raiders-Marlon Humphrey-Cornerback-Alabama

The Oakland Raiders issues in their secondary were exposed when quarterback Derek Carr suffered a fractured fibula. And if the Raiders are going to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender, they must improve the secondary.

25. Houston Texans-Takkarist McKinley-Outside Linebacker-UCLA

If the Houston Texans can get themselves a quality veteran quarterback, they’ll have a championship caliber defense to pair him with.

26. Seattle Seahawks-Garrett Bolles-Offensive Tackle-Utah

The Seattle Seahawks don’t resemble the team that won the Super Bowl in 2013. And for the Seahawks to get back to being a championship team, they are going to have to run the football more effectively, while also protecting quarterback Russell Wilson which begins with better play on the offensive line.

27. Kansas City Chiefs-Corey Davis-Wide Receiver-Western Michigan

There is a huge drop off in the passing offense of the Kansas City Chiefs once you eliminate tight end Travis Kelce from the equation as they need some more production from the wide receiver position.

28. Dallas Cowboys-Charles Harris-Defensive End-Missouri

The Dallas Cowboys were 14th in the NFL last year in total defense, but through injuries and suspensions, they lacked a game changing edge rusher.

 

Desmond King

29. Green Bay Packers-Desmond King-Cornerback-Iowa

With the issues that the Green Bay Packers had in their secondary last season, they could use a tough minded player in the unit who can also contribute on special teams if asked to.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers-Tim Williams-Outside Linebacker-Alabama

Bud Dupree has begun to show flashes as a quality edge rusher for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but this team needs a versatile enforcer for the unit.

31. Atlanta Falcons-Evan engram-Tight End-Ole Miss

As good as the Atlanta Falcons offense is, they still need a tight end who can take some pressure off of wide receiver Julio Jones.

32. New England Patriots- Dan Feeney-Guard-Indiana

The rich get richer as the defending Super Bowl Champions will continue to add depth on the offensive line in front of quarterback Tom Brady.

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To Play, Or Not To Play

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Like it or not, you are going to see more college football players skip their bowl games in favor of the National Football League Draft. And you cannot blame them.

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2016 AFC East Draft Grades

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New England Patriots

Grade: C

First Round Pick: None

Best Pick: Round Six-Elandon Roberts-Inside Linebacker-Houston

The New England Patriots entered the 2016 National Football League with a deck that was stacked against them. The Patriots lost their first-round selection after Deflategate which changed their draft strategy. 59 picks went by before the Patriots got started and they would use their first selection on Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Cyrus Jones. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick loves versatile players, and what Jones provides New England with is an athlete that can return kicks while also being able to contribute defensively in nickel packages.

Surprisingly in the third round, the Pats would select North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Brissett had an up and down collegiate career which saw spend his first two years of eligibility with the Florida Gators before transferring to N.C. State. At 6’4″, 231 lbs., Brissett has great size to be a quarterback in the National Football League, but he is a project at best while he more than likely he would have been available much later in the draft for the Pats.

Elandon Roberts

But in the sixth round, Belichick found his kind of player when he pegged Houston Cougars middle linebacker Elandon Roberts. In 2015, Roberts was a member of the American Athletic Conference’s All-Defensive first team as he tallied 142 tackles. Roberts is a very smart football player and Belichick will definitely find a roster spot for him.

 

New York Jets

Grade: C-

First Round Pick: Darron Lee-Outside Linebacker-Ohio State

Best Pick: Round Two-Christian Hackenburg-Quarterback-Penn State

After being on the cusp making the National Football League Playoffs in 2015, the New York Jets don’t want to take a step back this year. The Jets entered the National Football League Draft last month appearing to be at an impasse as they and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick are still far apart on contract negotiations. In the first round of the draft, the Jets had the opportunity to select Memphis Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch which would have signaled the end of Fitzpatrick’s time with the team. Instead the Jets opted for Ohio State Buckeyes outside linebacker Darron Lee. At 6’1″, 238 lbs., Lee is undersized to be an outside linebacker in the Jets 3-4 defensive scheme which makes you wonder if a move to safety for him could be in the works.

Christian Hackenburg

The second round did see the Jets dip into the quarterback pool when they tabbed Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenburg. A few months ago Hackenburg appeared to be a top-five pick until his 2015 college football season unraveled for him. Hackenburg didn’t have the best season at Penn State due to a coaching change along with the fact that the Nittany Lions didn’t have a talented team around him due to NCAA sanctions. But coming out of high school, Hackenburg was a highly touted prospect who could flourish in a pro-style offense. At 6’4″, 228 lbs., Hackenburg has the size and arm strength to flourish in the National Football League; now it’s just a matter of him getting familiar with the Jets playbook. In Florham Park, Hackenburg will be under the tutelage of Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey who has a history of developing quarterbacks in the NFL.

Buffalo Bills

Grade: A

First Round Pick: Shaq Lawson-Defensive End-Outside Linebacker-Clemson

Best Pick: Round Two-Reggie Ragland-Inside Linebacker-Alabama

After the Buffalo Bills finished the 2015 National Football League season ranked 19th in total defense while only amassing 21 team sacks, you knew that Rex Ryan wanted to remedy that as defensive football is his specialty. At the 2016 NFL Draft, the Bills began by owning the 19th overall pick of the draft. And in typical Ryan fashion, he took a chance on a defensive player that was slipping in the draft.

Shaq Lawson

In the first round the Bills would select Clemson Tigers defensive end Shaq Lawson. Last year Lawson was on the Atlantic Coast Conference’s first-team All-Defense after totaling 12.5 sacks. Lawson gutted out the season with a shoulder injury which will eventually require surgery, but the Bills are hopeful that he’ll have enough to give them a solid impact this year.

In the second round the Bills got themselves a value pick in Alabama Crimson Tide middle linebacker Reggie Ragland. Ragland was talented enough to be a first-round pick, but he fell to the second round where the Bills decided to make a deal with the Chicago Bears in order to secure the 41st overall selection which they used on him. At 6’1″, 247 lbs., Ragland is a football player’s football player. And on top of that, Ragland is a leader which is exactly what the Bills need on defense.

The Bills continued to stockpile talent as they selected Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Adolphus Washington in the third round, while they picked his college teammate in quarterback Cardale Jones in the fourth round.

Cardale Jones

Jones is an anomaly as he had the potential to have been a first-round pick last year had he decided to leave school early even though he only made three starts in college. But when Jones decided to return to school, he found that his draft stock dropped. Jones is 6’5″, 253 lbs., and he is extremely athletic, but the best way to describe him is that he still “raw”. However if there is a coach that can motivate Jones to practice each day with a chip on his shoulder, it is Ryan.

In the fifth round, the Bills selected Arkansas Razorbacks running back Jonathan Williams in what I deem as a low risk, high reward move. In 2014, Williams led the Razorbacks in rushing with 1,190 yards, but a foot injury put him on the shelf for the entire 2015 college football season. However after carrying the football 211 times in 2014, Williams should be fresh which will be a welcome sight as he could take some carries away from Bills running back LeSean McCoy who is recovering from a knee injury.

Miami Dolphins

Grade: C-

First Round Pick: Laremy Tunsil-Offensive Tackle-Ole Miss

Best Pick: Round Three-Kenyon Drake-Running Back-Alabama

Since 2004, the Miami Dolphins have only have had one winning season, and a big reason for that is their struggles in the National Football League Draft. The Dolphins have consistently failed to find impact players early on the NFL Draft which is also a solid implication as to why they only have one postseason appearance over that stretch, and they’re still searching for their first playoff victory since 1999.

Laremy Tunsil

Originally, the Dolphins entered the 2016 National Football League Draft in possession of the eighth overall selection. But prior to the draft, the Dolphins would engage in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles that would see Miami receive the 13th overall selection. The Dolphins did receive offers for the choice, but instead they opted to select Mississippi Rebels offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil.

Dark clouds hung over Tunsil’s head at the draft after a questionable photo of him surfaced on Twitter on April 28th. And as some people had Tunsil pegged as the best prospect entering the draft, he found himself falling. There’s no question that Tunsil has the talent to become an impact player for the Dolphins; it’s just a matter of whether or not that his head will be screwed on properly. And unfortunately, I don’t see any leadership within the Dolphins locker room that is going to hold Tunsil accountable.

Aside from selecting Tunsil, the rest of the Dolphins time at the 2016 National Football League Draft was sketchy at best as they didn’t find enough impact players that are going to help them end their playoff drought in 2016, or build a solid core of players for the future.

Sources: Pro-football-reference, Cfbstats.com

 

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2016 NFC North Draft Grades

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Minnesota Vikings

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Laquon Treadwell-Wide Receiver-Ole Miss

Best Pick: Laquon Treadwell

For the first time since 2010, the Minnesota Vikings entered the National Football League Draft as NFC North Champions. And this time around the Vikings are looking to build off of last year’s success in the hopes of winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl Championship. Teddy Bridgewater is entrenched as the Vikings starting quarterback, but Minnesota has not had a signal caller pass for at least 4,000 yards in a season since Brett Favre in 2009.

Laquon Treadwell

The Vikings were 31st in the National Football League last year in passing offense, and first step to remedying that was using their first-round pick on Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell gives the Vikings a solid option at wide receiver, but he will have to work on his consistency as far as route running, and catches.

Minnesota knows that they’ll once again have to go through the Green Bay Packers in order to win the NFC North which means that they are going to have to find a way to neutralize quarterback Aaron Rodgers. In the second round, the Vikings looked to add another play maker in their secondary when they drafted Clemson Tigers cornerback Mackensie Alexander. In two years at Clemson, Alexander showed solid coverage skills, and he should be able to continue honing those skills as he can learn from veterans in the Vikings secondary such as Terrance Newman and Captain Munnerlyn.

The rest of the National Football League Draft was pretty pedestrian for the Vikings, but they are hopeful that the additions of Treadwell and Alexander can make them a legitimate Super Bowl contender this year.

Green Bay Packers

Grade: B+

First Round Pick: Kenny Clark-Defensive Tackle-UCLA

Best Pick: Round Four-Blake Martinez-Inside Linebacker-Stanford

Under general manager Ted Thompson, the Green Bay Packers haven’t been known for drafting players that were superstars in college, but more of the variety that fit into their system and this year was no different. The Packers came into the 2016 National Football League Draft knowing that they had a hole to fill on their defensive line after the sudden retirement of nose tackle B.J. Raji.

The Packers would use the 27th overall pick on UCLA Bruins defensive tackle Kenny Clark. At 6’3″, 310 lbs., Clark has solid size to be a nose tackle in the National Football League and the big fella is athletic as he was second on UCLA’s team last season in tackles with 75.

Blake Martinez

But in the fourth round of the National Football League Draft, the Packers found themselves a bargain in Stanford Cardinal inside linebacker Blake Martinez. The last two years have seen Martinez lead the Stanford defense in tackles which included 140 in 2015. Martinez is a very instinctive football player who’s presence should allow Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers to shift Clay Mattews back to outside linebacker where he’ll able to rush the quarterback more frequently.

Detroit Lions

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Taylor Decker-Offensive Tackle-Ohio State

Best Pick: A’Shawn Robinson-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

If you followed the Detroit Lions during the 2015 National Football League season you know that this was a team that struggled in the trenches on both sides of the football which was the area that the team’s new general manager Bob Quinn concentrated on the most during the NFL Draft last month. The Lions used their first-round pick on Ohio State Buckeyes offensive tackle Taylor Decker. Coming into the draft process I viewed Decker as going later in the first round, but there was a run on left tackles that forced the Lions to use the 16th overall pick on him. Decker does come to the Lions as an All-American along with being the Big Ten Conference’s Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2015. At 6’7″, 310 lbs., Decker has great size to be a left tackle in the NFL which could be a welcoming sight to Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford who has been sacked 89 times over the last two years.

A’Shawn Robinson

Like the offensive line for the Lions, their defensive line was in need of help, and in the second round, Detroit would select Alabama Crimson Tide defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson. During his time at Alabama, Robinson was a menace to opposing offenses in the Southeastern Conference as all he did was eat up space. Now the Lions are hopeful that Robinson can bring that same production to Motown along with his winning persona.

The third round round would see the Lions keep the trend of the trenches going when they selected Michigan Wolverines center Graham Glasgow, while Washington State Cougars guard Joe Dahl was selected in the fifth round, and Penn State Nittany Lions defensive tackle Anthony Zettel was their selection as Detroit is hopeful that this is dawn of a new brand of physical football for them.

Chicago Bears

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Leonard Floyd-Outside Linebacker-Georgia

Best Pick: Leonard Floyd

Leonard Floyd

For the first time since 2000, the Chicago Bears are coming off of consecutive last place finished. And like the Detroit Lions in the NFC North, the Bears have to get back to playing a physical brand of football. The Bears were aggressive in the early stages of the National Football League Draft when they made a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to move ahead of the New York Giants in order to select Georgia Bulldogs outside linebacker Leonard Floyd with the ninth overall selection. The Bears now find themselves running a 3-4 defensive scheme, and they need that prototypical outside linebacker/defensive end that can rush the passer. At 6’6″, 244 lbs., Floyd has that size along with speed as he is expected to become an impact player for them in 2016.

The Bears used their second round pick on Kansas State Wildcats guard Cody Whitehair as they are looking to sure up their protection of quarterback Jay Cutler. In the third round the Bears picked Florida Gators defensive end Jonathan Bullard. At 6’4″, 283 lbs., Bullard could be a hybrid player, but I see the Bears using him more as a defensive end in their 3-4 system where he could still have a very solid impact for them.

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2016 AFC South Grades

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Houston Texans

Grade: C

First Round Pick: Will Fuller-Wide Receiver-Notre Dame

Best Pick: Will Fuller

Although that the Houston Texans will enter the 2016 National Football League season as the defending champions of the AFC South, they need to improve on several flaws. The Texans went 9-7 last year and they have issues on the offensive side of the football which they have begun to address.

The Texans feel like they’ve found their franchise quarterback as they signed former Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweilier to a four-year, $72 million deal at the start of free agency. And during the National Football League Draft last month, the Texans attempted to get Osweiler some help in the earlier rounds when they used their first-round selection on Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Will Fuller, which was followed by a third-round selection of Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Braxton Miller.

Will Fuller

Speed is the name of the game for both Fuller and Miller. At the National Football League Scouting Combine, Fuller was picking them up and putting them down as he ran a 4.32 in the 40-yard dash. Miller went to Ohio State as a quarterback, but he eventually converted to wide receiver, and upon drafting him, the Texans feel that he has untapped potential. And don’t think that gadget plays with Miller is something that hasn’t crossed the mind of Texans head coach Bill O’Brien who learned that from his time as an assistant coach for the New England Patriots under Bill Belichick.

But the Texans only had five picks in the draft, and they failed to upgrade their offensive line which needed to be upgraded. The Texans are rolling the dice on an unproven quarterback in Osweiler, and they need to sure up every position around him.

Indianapolis Colts

Grade: C

First Round Pick: Ryan Kelly-Center-Alabama

Best Pick: Round Four-Antonio Morrison-Inside Linebacker-Florida

Heading into the 2016 National Football League Draft, there weren’t questions surrounding the quarterback position for the Indianapolis Colts as Andrew Luck in entrenched as the guy there. But the team that is around Luck is where the issues begin as this is a Colts organization with a general manager in Ryan Grigson that must do a better job of putting play makers around their franchise quarterback on both sides of the football.

Luck took a beating last year as he played behind a porous offensive line. But Grigson began to fix this in the first round of the National Football League Draft when he selected Alabama Crimson Tide center Ryan Kelly. Kelly comes to the Colts as the Rimington Award winner as the nation’s top center. And the Colts are hopeful that Kelly will be able to anchor their offensive line in the mode the Jeff Saturday did at the position for so many years.

Antonio Morrison

Grigson and the Colts found themselves selecting several projects in this draft, but he might have found an impact player in the fourth round in Florida Gators inside linebacker Antonio Morrison. At 6’1″, 232 lbs., Morrison doesn’t have the physical intangibles that the National Football League is looking for at middle linebacker, but he is a football player that plays with determination and major instincts which is evident by his 294 career tackles at Florida. And for Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, he might have a solid starter on his hands with Morrison.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Grade: B+

First Round Pick: Jalen Ramsey-Free Safety-Florida State

Best Pick: Jalen Ramsey

Jalen Ramsey

2007 was the last time that the Jacksonville Jaguars made the playoffs in the National Football League, but the team is beginning to assemble play makers that could end that drought. The Jaguars hit it big in the early stages of the 2016 NFL Draft when they used the fifth overall pick on Florida State Seminoles safety Jalen Ramsey. In each of my mock drafts I had the Jags selecting Ramsey as the match between the player and organization appeared to be a perfect fit. For the longest time Jacksonville has needed impact players in their secondary, and what Ramsey provides them with is tremendous range.

In the second round the Jaguars selected UCLA Bruins linebacker Myles Jack. Jack suffered a knee injury last year in college that prevented him from being a top-10 pick in the draft, but he fell to the Jags who see him has another first-round pick. And once you factor in that Jacksonville is counting on the return of outside linebacker/defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., from a knee injury, this team could be ready to roll out three rookies in the starting lineup come September.

Tennessee Titans

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Jack Conklin-Offensive Tackle-Michigan State

Best Pick: Derrick Henry-Running Back-Alabama

Trading back and still getting value was a theme for the Tennessee Titans at the 2016 National Football League Draft. The Titans came into the draft with the first overall pick. But with teams such as the Los Angeles Rams very desperate to move up in order to select a quarterback, Tennessee moved down and they received compensation in the form of additional picks in the process. And after striking a deal with the Cleveland Browns, the Titans used the eighth overall pick on Michigan State Spartans offensive tackle Jack Conklin.

Jack Conklin

Conklin was the safest pick for the Titans at the time due to the fact that teams were passing on Mississippi Rebels offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil due to a questionable photo of him popped up on Twitter. At 6’6″, 308 lbs., Conklin has prototypical size to play left tackle in the National Football League, while Tennessee is hopeful that he can protect the blind side of quarterback Marcus Mariota who is clearly their franchise quarterback.

The Titans had three selections in the second round with the first one being used on Clemson Tigers defensive end Kevin Dodd. In Dodd’s last year at Clemson, he recorded 12 sacks in helping the Tigers reach the national title game. And at 6’5″, 277 lbs., the Titans are hopeful that he provide pressure off of the edge. Later in the second round, Tennessee selected Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry. Last year Henry won the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s top player, and at 6’3″, 247 ls., he was a runaway freight train with the football. Henry’s presence in Tennessee will give the Titans a solid inside-out combination at the running back position with veteran running back DeMarco Murray who was acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this off-season. The arrival of Henry will be a welcome sight to the folks of Tennessee as they saw enough of him torching their beloved Tennessee Volunteers, and now they are hopeful that he can light up the scoreboard in their favor.

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2016 AFC North Draft Grades

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Cincinnati Bengals

Grade: B

First Round Pick: William Jackson III-Cornerback-Houston

Best Pick: Round Two-Tyler Boyd-Wide Receiver-Pittsburgh

Although that the Cincinnati Bengals have failed to win a playoff game since 1991, they have done a solid job of stockpiling talent under head coach Marvin Lewis at the National Football League Draft, and 2016 was no different.

William Jackson III

The Bengals were getting older in the secondary and thus they used their first-round pick of the draft on Houston Cougars cornerback William Jackson III. Jackson III comes to the Bengals as a two-time, first-team All-American Athletic Conference member. And last year at Houston, Jackson III led the Cougars in interceptions with 5, while he wasn’t afraid to mix it up as he tallied 43 tackles which was ninth on the team.

In the second round, the Bengals selected Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Tyler Boyd. Coming into the 2015 college football season, Boyd was expected to be a big-time contributor at Pittsburgh, but he was slowed by injuries which saw him fall in the second round. However Boyd does have exceptional ball skills, and at 6’2″, he can be a matchup problem for opposing defensive backs.

The fourth round would see Cincinnati select Baylor Bears defensive tackle Andrew Billings. Like Boyd, Billings watched himself slip at the National Football League Draft, but he did go to a team in the Bengals where he could be a rotational player on their defensive line as a rookie.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Artie Burns-Cornerback-Miami

Best Pick: Round Seven-Tyler Matakevich-Outside Linebacker-Temple

Since 1969, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been the best team in the National Football League as far as finding and drafting talent which is evident by their six Super Bowl Titles over that stretch being that it is the most in the league. The Steelers entered the 2016 NFL Draft owning the 25th overall pick which they used on Miami Hurricanes cornerback Artie Burns.

Artie Burns

The Steelers need help in their secondary, and although that Burns wasn’t the player that they were seeking at that position, he is still a guy that fits into the team’s mold as he has possesses solid ball skills which was highlighted by him having 6 interceptions last year at Miami. At 6’0″, Burns has good size which will give him the chance to match up with some of the bigger wide receivers that the AFC North has, while he’ll get a workout everyday in practice as he faces the likes of wide receiver Antonio Brown.

The Steelers kept the secondary theme going in the second round where they selected Maryland Terrapins safety Sean Davis. Unlike Burns, the Steelers like Davis’ range and physicality as his 88 tackles were second on Maryland’s team in 2015. And since the retirement of Troy Polamalu in 2014, the Steelers have missed having a player at safety that plays like a linebacker.

In the sixth round, the Steelers might have found themselves another player in the mode of Brown when they selected Houston Cougars wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers. At 5’9″, 182 lbs., Ayers is a burner that knows how to get in and out of breaks as any defensive back that is covering him needs to make sure that his ankle are taped.

And in the final round of the National Football League Draft, the Steelers found themselves a good old-fashioned football player in Temple Owls linebacker Tyler Matakevich. Matakevich fits the mold of what the Steelers seek from their linebackers as his grit and toughness are a throwback to the days of players such as Jack Lambert. Last year at Temple, Matakevich recorded 138 tackles while taking home the Bednarik and the Bronko Nagurski Awards for his defensive prowess as it won’t take him that long to find himself on the field making plays for the Steelers.

Baltimore Ravens

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Ronnie Stanley-Offensive Tackle-Notre Dame

Best Pick: Ronnie Stanley

Like the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens know a thing or two about hitting on their selections at the National Football League Draft. Ozzie Newsome has been the only general manager that the Ravens have ever employed in their 21-year history and he has a keen eye for talent; especially in finding impact players early on in the draft.

Ronnie Stanley

2016 was no different for the Ravens as their first-round pick was used on Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley. Stanley comes to the Ravens as an All-American and he’ll be expected to anchor Baltimore’s offensive line for the next decade.

But the Ravens most intriguing pick came last Saturday in the sixth round when they selected Navy Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds comes to the Ravens as a very decorated player as he set an NCAA record with 88 career rushing touchdowns while he finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting last year which is the highest that a Naval cadet has finished since Roger Staubach in 1963. Reynolds will be used as a running back in the National Football League, and the Navy could make it

possible for him to play this year with a special waiver.

Cleveland Browns

Grade: A+

First Round Pick: Corey Coleman-Wide Receiver-Baylor

Best Pick: Round Three-Carl Nassib-Defensive End-Penn State 

One way to describe the Cleveland Browns at the 2016 National Football League Draft was that they were active. The Browns drafted 14 players and unlike in year’s past, they appear to have found some impact players.

The Browns used their first-round pick on Baylor Bears wide receiver Corey Coleman. Coleman comes to the Browns after winning the Biletnikoff Award winner last year as the nation’s top wide receiver, and Cleveland is hopeful that they won’t get burned again that position like they have in year’s past.

Carl Nassib

The Browns then turned to the trenches where they selected Oklahoma State Cowboys defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Carl Nassib. Ogbah had 13 sacks last year at Oklahoma State and he should be able to come in and immediately contribute while Nassib has a relentless motor that will allow him to make plays and win over the folks in the “Dawg Pound”.

The Browns used a third-round choice on Auburn Tigers offensive tackle Shon Coleman. Coleman comes to the National Football League as a 24-year old rookie, and he has had his fair share of issues as medical issues were attempting to derail his collegiate career. But now Coleman has overcome all of that as his determination is a testament of the new direction that the Browns are attempting to go in. Also in the third round, Cleveland found Southern California Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler who will push quarterback Robert Griffin III for reps in training camp as he is an accurate signal caller along with having terrific pocket awareness.

In the seventh round, the Browns found an absolute steal in Arizona Wildcats linebacker Scooby Wright III. In 2014, Wright was the Pac-12 Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year and if he had been eligible for the draft in 2015, he would have been a top-10 choice. But Wright was only a sophomore, and in 2015, a knee injury slowed him down. However the Browns found themselves an absolute football player in Wright that is now healthy and he should be a starter come Week 1 of the regular season.

Source; Cfbstats.com

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