Tag Archives: NFL Draft

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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2016 NFC South Draft Grades

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Carolina Panthers

Grade: C-

First Round Pick: Vernon Butler-Defensive Tackle-Louisiana Tech

Best Pick: Round Five-Zack Sanchez-Cornerback-Oklahoma

Even though that the Carolina Panthers went 15-1 in 2015 en route to winning the NFC Championship, they were a flawed team. The Panthers relied on their running game and a strong defense, but it wasn’t enough for them to win the Super Bowl. And after losing Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos, it was clear that the Panthers had issues on the offensive line and in the passing game. But at the 2016 National Football League Draft, Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman missed an opportunity to remedy that.

Vernon Butler

Instead Gettleman opted to use the Panthers first-round choice on Louisiana Tech Bulldogs defensive tackle Vernon Butler. The Panthers had a stout defensive line last season and Butler will be a welcome sight to their rotation as head coach Ron Rivera would like to have a wave of fresh bodies that can collapse the pocket, but they missed the boat on addressing their issues at both wide receiver and offensive tackle.

After releasing Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman, the Panthers went heavy in the defensive back category at the draft where they selected three cornerbacks with the most intriguing one being Oklahoma Sooners cornerback Zack Sanchez in the fifth round. And like Norman, Sanchez has an eye for the football as it should not take him that long to become a household name in Charlotte.

Atlanta Falcons

Grade: C-

First Round Pick: Keanu Neal-Safety-Florida

Best Pick: Keanu Neal

After Dan Quinn went 8-8 in his first season as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 2015, he is looking to build off of that and get this team back to the postseason for the first time since 2012. And that process began at the National Football League Draft.

Keanu Neal

The Falcons needed to concentrate on their defense which needs more play makers. The Falcons had the 17th overall pick which they used on Florida Gators safety Keanu Neal who has solid range in the secondary. Atlanta needs a player like Neal due to the fact that the NFC South is home to some quality quarterbacks that can put pressure on opposing defenses as the Falcons need a strong general in their secondary.

But unfortunately for the Falcons and their fan base, the highlight of the 2016 National Football League Draft was selecting Neal as they were unable to bring in other quality players that can have an immediate impact which puts a dark cloud over the upcoming NFL season in Atlanta.

New Orleans Saints

Grade: C+

First Round Pick: Sheldon Rankins-Defensive Tackle-Louisville

Best Pick: Round Two- Michael Thomas-Wide Receiver-Ohio State

The New Orleans entered the National Football League Draft not owning that many picks, but they attempted to make the most with their selections. Last year the Saints defense was torched as they were 31st in the National Football League in total defense. And for Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, he couldn’t go wrong by adding bodies at any level of the defense.

Sheldon Rankins

In the first round the Saints decided on Louisville Cardinals defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins who has solid speed for a player his size which will be important as he looks to penetrate gaps on the offensive line. The Saints also used a second round pick on Ohio State Buckeyes safety Vonn Bell as they are hoping that he can bringing some swagger to the Bayou after winning a national championship in college. The Saints would also select Bell’s college teammate in the second round in wide receiver Michael Thomas. At 6’3″, 212 lbs., Thomas has some size at the wide receiver position that the Saints need while it shouldn’t take him that long to get on the same page with quarterback Drew Brees who knows how to keep all of his receivers involved in the offense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Grade: B-

First Round Pick: Vernon Hargreaves-Cornerback III-Cornerback-Florida

Best Pick: Vernon Hargreaves

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers already have their franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston, and now they are looking to sure things up on the defensive side of the ball. The 2016 National Football League Draft saw the Buccaneers concentrate heavy on defense as they are looking to become a playoff contender.

Vernon Hargeaves

The Bucs used their first-round choice on Florida Gators cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. At 5’10”, Hargreaves will be looking up to the majority of the wide receivers that he’ll be covering, but he will make up for it with the solid coverage skills that he possesses. The second round saw the Buccaneers select Eastern Kentucky Colonels defensive end Noah Spence. At 6’2″, 251 lbs., Spence could be a hybrid player at both defensive end and outside linebacker which gives defensive coordinator Mike Smith options as far as using his skill set.

But I was surprised with Tampa Bay selecting Florida State Seminoles kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round. Aguayo does possess a big leg, however that early in the draft isn’t typically reserved to see a specialty player chosen. And that is something that could come back to haunt the Buccaneers in the long run.

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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 NFC West Draft Grades

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Arizona Cardinals

Grade: B-

First Round Pick: Robert Nkemdiche-Defensive Tackle-Ole Miss

Best Pick: Robert Nkemdiche

There has been a definite culture change for the Arizona Cardinals in their three years under head coach Bruce Arians as they now find themselves among the elite teams in the National Football League. After making the NFC Championship Game last season, the Cardinals found themselves picking near the end of the first round of the NFL Draft. And there Arians would take a chance on Mississippi Rebels defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche.

Robert Nkemdiche

Nkemdiche had the talent to be selected in the top five of the National Football League Draft, but off-the-field issues saw him slide. It appeared that Nkemdiche would fall out of the first round completely until Arians took a chance on him. Arizona should be a solid fit for Nkemdiche as there is leadership in the locker room and he will be held accountable for his actions.

Aside from Nkemdiche, the Cards were able to add depth in the secondary with their second round selection of Texas A&M Aggies cornerback Brandon Williams and in the sixth round with cornerback Harlan Miller from the Southeastern Louisiana Lions. But Arians and the Cardinals did miss an opportunity to draft a quarterback to groom behind Carson Palmer who is 36-years of age along with having a history of injuries. Instead the Cardinals decided to bring in Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback as an undrafted free agent, but it will be interesting to see if he’ll impress enough to make the roster.

Seattle Seahawks

Grade: A

First Round Pick: Germain Ifedi-Offensive Tackle-Texas A&M

Best Pick: Round Two-Jarran Reed-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

Since Pete Carroll became the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, this has been an organization that has made a habit of nailing it at the National Football League Draft which is why they have five playoff appearances and a Super Bowl appearance over that stretch.

The Seahawks really got busy at the 2016 National Football League Draft. In the first round, Seattle traded down five slots and still managed to draft Texas A&M Aggies offensive tackle Germain Ifedi. In Ifedi, the Seahawks get a versatile player that can play multiple positions on the offensive line, but he’ll most likely fill the void at left tackle after Russell Okung left to join the Broncos.

Jarran Reed

Seattle really lucked out near the end of the second round where they selected Alabama Crimson Tide defensive tackle Jarran Reed. In some of my mock drafts, I had the Seahawks selecting Reed in the first round, and he still managed to be available that late in the draft process for them which was a huge coup for them.

The running back position in the National Football League is a spot where teams always need depth. And whereas the Seahawks must fill the void of running back Marshawn Lynch who retired, they stocked up on ball carriers with Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back C.J. Prosise in the third round and Arkansas Razorbacks Alex Collins in the sixth round. Prosise and Collins will provide the Seahawks with depth and speed. But for Collins he comes to the NFL with a ton of carries under his belt at Arkansas and you just wonder if that will wear on him in Seattle.

Los Angeles Rams

Grade: C

First Round Pick: Jared Goff-Quarterback-California

Best Pick: Jared Goff

Jared Goff

It wasn’t a big secret that the Los Angeles Rams were going to use the first overall pick of the National Football League Draft on a quarterback; it was just a matter of which one. Heading up to the start of the draft, the Rams were able to keep one of the biggest secrets in sports to themselves, but they ultimately decided on California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff. At 6’4″, 215lbs., Goff has the prototypical height for the position, but he will need to bulk up to deal with the potential hits. Goff didn’t come from a pro-style offense at California which means that there will be a learning curve. However with all that the Rams gave up to get Goff, he will probably be thrown to the wolves too early.

Due to the fact that the Rams moved up 14 spots to take Goff, they had to part with several draft picks which robbed them of the chance to add depth. And hopefully for the Rams and Goff, we’ll see them have a successful marriage in Hollywood.

San Francisco 49ers

Grade: C-

First Round Pick: DeForest Buckner-Defensive End-Oregon, Joshua Garnett-Guard-Stanford

Best Pick: DeForest Buckner 

This off-season has not been a good one for the San Francisco 49ers. First, the 49ers hired a head coach in Chip Kelly who had just been fired by the Philadelphia Eagles after he lost the locker room there. And secondly, the Niners have been unable to trade a disgruntled quarterback in Colin Kaepernick.

After the Niners failed to complete a deal to send Kaepernick packing, they passed up on quarterbacks in the National Football League Draft until the sixth round when they selected Louisiana Tech Bulldogs quarterback Jeff Driskel. Driskel is a mobile signal caller that will fit into Kelly’s system. However there are a ton of questions around his ability to lead and execute an offense.

After San Francisco used their first-round pick on Oregon Ducks defensive end DeForest Buckner, they surprisingly traded back into the first to select Stanford Cardinal guard Joshua Garnett who they could have gotten much later in the draft process.

Unfortunately for the 49ers, these past few months are a clear example that the 2016 National Football League season is going to be a very long one for them.

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2016 AFC West Draft Grades

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Denver Broncos

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Paxton Lynch-Quarterback-Memphis

Best Pick: Paxton Lynch

The defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos entered the 2016 National Football League Draft knowing that they had several holes to fill and that is exactly what the team’s executive president of football operations John Elway set out to do. The Broncos were hit hard by free agency and Elway went to work as far keeping the Broncos machine going.

Paxton Lynch

The Broncos picked last in the first round, but Elway moved up five spots to select Memphis Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch. At 6’7″, 244 lbs., Lynch is the big quarterback that Elway covets and he along with Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak will look to groom into being a solid starter.

Aside from Lynch, the Broncos added depth in the trenches with the likes of defensive tackle Adam Gotsis and guard Connor McGovern. But if Denver’s fourth-round pick in running back Devontae Booker is able to stay healthy, he could become one of the steals of the draft.

Kansas City Chiefs

Grade: B

First Round Pick: None

Best Pick: Round Five-Kevin Hogan-Quarterback-Stanford

In 2015, the Kansas City Chiefs came out of nowhere to earn a wild card berth in the AFC. And after advancing to the AFC Divisional Playoffs, the Chiefs lack of talent at the wide receiver position finally caught up to them. But for some reason Chiefs head coach Andy Reid passed on several opportunities to address that issue early in the National Football League Draft.

Kevin Hogan

This draft process was simply about adding depth for the Chiefs, but they may have struck gold in the fifth round when they selected Stanford Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan. Hogan was a four-year starter at Stanford which included leading his team two three Rose Bowl appearances. To me Hogan was the most pro-ready quarterback in this year’s draft and if Reid coaches him up properly, he should become a solid player. Another sleeper pick came for the Chiefs in the sixth round when they selected Virginia Tech Hokies defensive end Dadi Nicolas. Nicolas has solid edge rushing skills and he can now learn from two of the best in the business in Kansas City from outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.

Oakland Raiders

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Karl Joseph-Safety-West Virginia

Best Pick: Round Three-Shilique Calhoun-Defensive End-Michigan State

The Oakland Raiders are showing that they are ready to get back to the National Football League Playoffs for the first time since 2002. The Raiders may have reached with their first round selection of West Virginia Mountaineers safety Karl Joseph, but they made up for it after that.

Reggie McKenzie

The middle rounds of the National Football League Draft saw Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie go to work in finding play makers. McKenzie has a thing for the Big Ten Conference as in the second round he selected Illinois Fighting Illini defensive end Jihad Ward which was followed by the selection of Michigan State Spartans defensive end Shilique Calhoun in the third round. Calhoun had the talent to go in the early portion of the second round, but he fell to Oakland at the middle of the third round. Both Ward and Calhoun will compete from their first day in training camp and they could set the Raiders up with solid edge rushers for the coming years.

In the fourth round, McKenzie found Calhoun’s collegiate teammate in quarterback Connor Cook. Some people felt that Cook could have gone in the first round, but this could be a situation where McKenzie will groom him to trade him in a few years as the Raiders have their franchise quarterback in Derek Carr.

The fifth round saw the Raiders select Texas Tech Red Raiders running back DeAndre Washington who’ll be used on third down situations while also becoming an impact player on special teams.

San Diego Chargers

Grade: C+

First Round Pick: Joey Bosa-Defensive End-Ohio State

Best Pick: Joey Bosa

Joey Bosa

The 2016 National Football League Draft went downhill for the San Diego Chargers as soon as it started. The Chargers appeared poised to select Ole Miss Rebels offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil until a questionable photo appeared of him on Twitter. The Chargers then decided on Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Joey Bosa in spite of the fact that selecting an edge rusher wasn’t their biggest need.

The Chargers did select Arkansas Razorbacks tight end Hunter Henry in the second to be the heir apparent to tight end Antonio. But throughout the entire National Football League Draft, San Diego failed to properly address their issues on the offensive line as this unit has had problems in protecting quarterback Philip Rivers.

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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 Draft 2.0

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Carson Wentz

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

The future of Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher is riding on this pick.

2. Cleveland Browns-Jared Goff-Quarterback-California

Although that the Cleveland Browns signed quarterback Robert Griffin III, it won’t prevent them from drafting another quarterback.

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

Heading into the 2016 National Football League Draft, Laremy Tunsil is looked at as the best prospect available for most people, and the San Diego Chargers will get themselves a player that can anchor their offensive line for years to come.

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

If the Browns pass on Jared Goff, I expect the Dallas Cowboys to select him. But if Goff is gone, expect the Cowboys to beef up their pass rush.

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

For years the Jacksonville Jaguars have been lacking a play maker in their secondary, and they will get one here in Jalen Ramsey.

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

The Baltimore Ravens might be tempted to trade up for Joey Bosa, but they must also protect the blindside of quarterback Joe Flacco who is coming off of knee surgery.

Myles Jack

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

It wouldn’t be San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly if he didn’t think outside of the box as he would be taking a player here with red flags due to medical issues.

8. Philadelphia Eagles-Paxton Lynch-Quarterback-Memphis

The Philadelphia Eagles could go with running back Ezekiel Elliot here, but new head coach Doug Pederson needs a young quarterback to develop.

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

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are entrusting quarterback Jameis Winston to be their franchise player, and thus they must do everything in their power to put a solid team around him.

Shaq Lawson

10. New York Giants-Shaq Lawson-Defensive End-Clemson

New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese has been busy this off-season in solidifying his defense, and he’ll find himself another quality edge rusher here in Shaq Lawson.

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

The Chicago Bears are committed to quarterback Jay Cutler who loves to throw the deep ball which means that he needs a solid offensive line in front of him.

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

The New Orleans Saints could go in several directions with this pick, but they need help in the secondary which was torched last season.

13. Miami Dolphins-Darron Lee-Outside Linebacker-Ohio State

Here the Miami Dolphins will get a player that could be an impact player from his first day with the team.

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

In drafting Reggie Ragland, the Oakland Raiders could possess one of the best linebacking cores in the National Football League this season.

Leonard Floyd

15. Tennessee Titans-Leonard Floyd-Outside Linebacker-Georgia

The Tennessee Titans have switched the 3-4 defensive scheme, and they are still searching for a dominant edge rusher.

16. Detroit Lions-Laquon Treadwell-Wide Reciever-Ole Miss

The Detroit Lions needs help on their offensive line, but with the retirement of wide receiver Calvin Johnson, they also need a play maker that can stretch the field.

17. Atlanta Falcons-A’Shawn Robinson-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

The Atlanta Falcons continue to beef up the defensive line here.

18. Indianapolis Colts-Ezekiel Elliot-Running Back-Ohio State

If Ezekiel Elliot falls this far, the Indianapolis Colts would have their best running back since Edgerrin James.

19. Buffalo Bills-Noah Spence-Defensive End-Eastern Kentucky

This pick has Rex Ryan written all over it as Noah Spence is his kind of football player.

20. New York Jets-Eli Apple-Cornerback-Ohio State

The New York Jets could be tempted to take a quarterback here, but they also need help in their secondary.

Mackensie Alexander

21. Washington Redskins-Mackensie Alexander-Cornerback-Clemson

The Washington Redskins could be tempted to select a wide receiver here, but the talent of Mackensie Alexander is too good to pass up on.

22. Houston Texans-DeForest Buckner-Defensive End-Oregon

The defensive line of the Houston Texans is not a weakness, but DeForest Buckner will eat up double teams which will help players such as defensive end J.J. Watt.

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

Speed kills in the National Football League, and the speed of wide receiver Will Fuller will test the arm strength of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

24. Cincinnati Bengals-Jason Spriggs-Offensive Tackle-Indiana

In a division that features the quality defenses of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals must upgrade their offensive line.

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

After recently releasing cornerback Cortez Allen, the Pittsburgh Steelers need to get their hands on another cornerback.

26. Seattle Seahawks-Sheldon Rankins-Defensive Tackle-Clemson

The off-season hasn’t been good to the Seattle Seahawks who have lost quality players in the trenches on both sides of the football. And for Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, it’s time for him to start restocking some athletes.

Jarran Reed

27. Green Bay Packers-Jarran Reed-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

With the sudden retirement of nose tackle B.J. Raji, this is a no-brainer pick here for the Green Bay Packers.

28. Kansas City Chiefs-Corey Coleman-Wide Receiver-Baylor

It was rather obvious that the Kansas City Chiefs lacked speed at the wide receiver position last year, and the addition of Corey Coleman would be a huge upgrade for them.

29. Arizona Cardinals-Vernon Butler-Defensive Tackle-Louisiana Tech

The NFC West might be the most physical division in the National Football League, and the Arizona Cardinals need to keep up by adding another “big ugly”.

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

The Carolina Panthers could decide to draft another wide receiver here, but they also need to protect quarterback Cam Newton.

Connor Cook

31. Denver Broncos-Connor Cook-Quarterback-Michigan State

The Denver Broncos could be tempted to move up and select a quarterback, or they could wait patiently and select a signal caller without having to part with draft picks.

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Rolling The Dice

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The Los Angeles Rams have been one of the top stories during this off-season in the National Football League. After 21 years of playing in St. Louis, Missouri, Rams owner Stan Kroenke decided to move the franchise back to Los Angeles which had been the team’s home from 1946-1994. And if that wasn’t enough for the Rams, they pulled off a shocker last week when they decided to push all of their chips to the middle of the table for the NFL Draft next week. Originally the Rams owned the 15th overall pick in the NFL Draft, but they decided to make a trade with the Tennessee Titans in order to obtain the first overall pick of the draft. The Rams will receive Tennessee’s first, fourth, and round choices next week, while Los Angeles will be parting with their first-round pick, a pair of selections in the second round, and a third-round pick this year, along with their first and third-round selections for next year which puts immense pressure on the Rams to wins right now.

Jeff Fisher, Les Snead

Rams general manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher are each entering the final year of their respective contracts, and they are working for an owner in Kroenke who doesn’t have a stellar reputation as far as compensating his executives. And being that the Rams are back in Los Angeles, they will once again be under the microscope as they’ll be playing in the second largest media market in the United States.

The reason why the Rams moved up in the National Football League Draft is due to their desperation to find a franchise quarterback. In four years under Fisher, the Rams have never had a quarterback whom they could refer to as a franchise player. And it is no surprise that over that stretch the Rams have failed to produce a winning record. Overall the Rams have not had a winning record since 2003 while they’ve failed to reach the postseason since 2004 which is the fourth longest active streak in the NFL.

Jared Goff

Now with the first overall pick, the Rams have their sights set on either California Bears quarterback Jared Goff or North Dakota State Bison quarterback Carson Wentz. Goff checks in at 6’4″, while Wentz is 6’5″. Both players have the prototypical size to play quarterback in the National Football League, but is either player worthy of being the first overall pick next week?

Goff played in a pass-happy offensive system of head football coach Sonny Dykes at California which doesn’t translate to the pro-style offense that he’ll need to adjust to in the National Football League. Wentz is heading to the NFL after spending his collegiate career at a Division-II school and you have to wonder if the lack of competition will hinder him as he is ascending to a professional career?

With more than a week to go before the National Football League Draft, the Rams are still unsure as to whether it will be Goff or Wentz whom they’ll pick, but in actuality, Los Angeles could have stuck with the 15th overall selection and gotten a solid quarterback there. However the Rams allowed themselves to be controlled by the elephant in the room which is fear.

The Cleveland Browns own the second overall pick in the draft, and even though that they signed quarterback Robert Griffin III this off-season, it is not out of the realm of possibilities to see them still select a signal caller next week. The Dallas Cowboys own the fourth overall pick and with an aging and injury prone Tony Romo playing quarterback for them, there is a chance that Dallas will pick a quarterback. After making a trade with the Miami Dolphins, the Philadelphia Eagles now own the eighth overall selection. And with the Eagles hiring Doug Pederson as their new head coach, there is a pretty good possibility that they’ll be looking for a signal caller as well.

The Titans came into the process owning the first overall pick which has been historically reserved for selecting a quarterback. But that wasn’t going to be the case for Tennessee as they drafted their cornerstone in quarterback Marcus Mariota last year which meant that they held all of the cards. And it is that fear of the Browns, Cowboys, Eagles, or another team moving up to make a run on the quarterback position which has forced the Rams hand in this draft process.

Snead and Fisher are desperate to keep their respective jobs which also gives them the chance to bask in the Southern California sunshine which means that you can expect the young quarterback that they select to be under center for them in Week 1 of the regular season against the San Francisco 49ers which will only add to the pressure as it could make or break the youngster.

Carson Wentz

But what Goff and Wentz represent are the new National Football League where teams are more desperate than ever for find a quarterback whom they can deem as their franchise guy. This isn’t a situation where the Denver Broncos pulled off the trade of the century to acquire the draft rights to quarterback John Elway from the Baltimore Colts in 1983, or when the New York Giants sold the farm in 2004 to acquire a disgruntled quarterback in Eli Manning from the San Diego Chargers, as to me neither Wentz or Goff represent a franchise-caliber quarterback. What it does represent is the new NFL which is similar to an SAT exam which comes down to choosing the best option available. Since 2010, 16 quarterbacks have been been selected in the first round of the draft. Of those 16 quarterbacks, only eight of them are still with their original team, while two in Tim Tebow and Christian Ponder are out of the league altogether which doesn’t bode well for either Wentz or Goff who don’t have the pedigree of being franchise quarterbacks.

The Rams have rolled the dice in moving up in the National Football League Draft which has opened to door for the Titans, who if they hit this draft process with precision over the next two years could build a solid team around their franchise quarterback in Mariota which could make the decision by Los Angeles to pull the trigger on this move that much more questionable. And without possessing a first round pick in next year’s draft process, the pressure will be on the Rams next Thursday as they look to avoid having their new stint in Southern California begin like their previous one did which was with a whimper.

 

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