The best player in college basketball: Trae Young

Every year in college basketball, there is one player who stands out over the rest. Two years ago it was Buddy Hield, while last year Josh Hart was argued as the best player, although Caleb Swanigan had a pretty good case as well. The best player doesn’t necessarily mean the person who scores the most, gets the most assists or rebounds the best, but it sometimes ends up that way. This year there is only one choice for the best player in college basketball: Trae Young.

The sooners’ Rise

The best player in college basketball: Trae Young

Trae Yong (Photo by 247sports.com)

Young came in to college as the 23rd best recruit in the class according to ESPN. As the fourth best point guard in the class, he was highly sought after, but wasn’t by any means projected to be this good. He chose to go to Oklahoma because he was a fan of the team growing up and rooted on players such as Blake Griffin.

Oklahoma wasn’t highly thought of coming into the season, as they were picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 during the conference’s media day. Most thought that they had lost too many good players from years past, like Hield, Ryan Spangler, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard.

Most Oklahoma fans probably would have taken a bid to the NCAA Tournament, but because of Young, the Sooners have been able to do much better than this.

There were signs of Oklahoma’s offense being explosive after their first two games. They beat Ball State and Nebraska-Omaha while scoring 108 points in each game. Oklahoma lost their third game of the season to a solid Arkansas team, but that was the game that Young proved he could play against good competition. He finished with 28 points and five assists.

The Sooners did not lose another game until conference play started. Their biggest non-conference wins were over Wichita State, Northwestern, Oregon and USC. Against Oregon, Young finished with 43 points and seven assists for an impressive performance against a big conference team. He also had a game against Northwestern State, in which he had 26 points and 22 assists. This tied the NCAA Division I record for assists in a game.

Conference play has provided some stiff competition. Still though, Oklahoma is 4-3 in conference and ranked 12th in the country. They have wins against TCU (twice), Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Their losses have come at the hands of West Virginia, Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

While he continues to score, with a good shooting stroke, and assist at a high rate, there are some concerns about his decision making and turnovers. Any player who has the ball that much will turn over the ball a lot, but most of the problems can be fixed with a little coaching and a change in mindset.

The stats

The best player in college basketball: Trae Young

Trae Young (Photo by oudaily.com)

Young leads the country with both 30.5 points and 9.7 assists per game. If he finishes the season well, he can be the only person in NCAA Division I history to lead the country in both statistics. Keeping up that stat line makes him a legend and is a feat that may never be seen again.

The points are impressive enough. Not many people that walk the earth can say they averaged over 30 points per game in a season. Since 1985 only ten players have averaged that many points per game for a season. Young can join the likes of Glenn Robinson and Hersey Hawkins with a strong finish. Before this time frame, Pete Maravich, Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird all averaged at least 30 points per game. This again, puts him among the all-time greats.

He has the points, but he also sets up a lot of teammates for easy scores. Since 1985 only 26 players have averaged more than nine assists per game. If Young can complete the season at that rate, he will be in company with Avery Johnson, Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd.

While there are some players who have done one or the other, there is no other player in the history of college basketball that have officially put up at least 30 points and nine assists per game. Young is in a class all by himself.

From here on out

It won’t be easy, but keeping up the stat line would cement his legacy in college basketball history. He does need to cut down on turnovers and step up his defense, but is still by far the best player on the college hardwood.

Outside of the stats, Young has completely elevated the Sooners’ level of play and made them national contenders. What else can he do to make his time in college better? A deep run in the NCAA Tourament, would certainly do it.

While Young is the best player in college basketball, don’t get too comfortable with him in a Sooners uniform, because the NBA will be calling his name this offseason.

 

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology 1/22/18

Conference play is now in session, which means a lot is known about college basketball teams already. There is still more to be known throughout conference play, as a lot of teams have already been upset in the first few weeks. The NCAA Tournament is just over two months away. Here is the latest NCAA Tournament bracketology. Click to zoom.

First four out: Syracuse, Maryland, Georgia, Washington

Next four out: Western Kentucky, Baylor, UCLA, St. Bonaventure

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2018 NFL Mock Draft January 19

All but four teams  now know where they are drafting. Teams are looking to rebuild and get to the playoffs for the seasons to come. Here is the latest 2018 NFL Mock Draft:

1. Cleveland Browns-Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Rosen has had to carry UCLA this season and ended up having a successful season. He needed to have a good season to clear up any doubts about his shoulder injury his sophomore year. The Browns have a new GM, who has no allegiances to anyone on the roster, which means DeShone Kizer is likely done as quarterback.

2. New York Giants- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Giants still need a head coach, so it’s hard to figure out what they will do. Maybe Eli Manning can mentor Sam Darnold for a year. Darnold struggled this season with his decision-making which led to a lot of turnovers. He also has a flawed throwing motion. Some have Darnold much higher in mock drafts, but his decision-making won’t get too much better in the NFL.

3. Indianapolis Colts- Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Bradley Chubb (Photo by fanragsports.com)

Indianapolis also doesn’t have a coach yet, but most importantly don’t have Andrew Luck healthy. When he is back, the offense will figure itself out. They can improve the defense to make the team more complete when Luck comes back. Chubb is a great pass rusher who has 10 sacks in each of the past two seasons.

4. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Barkley is one of the most complete running backs to ever come out of college and might be the best player in the entire class. The Browns tried to improve the defense in last year’s class, but now need to focus on the offense. With Rosen, a good offensive line and now Barkley, the offense should improve.

5. Denver Broncos- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

While Allen certainly has flaws in his decision-making and accuracy, he does have a strong arm and is athletic. John Elway went to Idaho to watch him in his bowl game personally. The Broncos have a solid roster, but just need a quarterback to lead the team.

6. New York Jets- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The Jets had a better season than anyone expected and now just need a quarterback to take them to the next level. Some people are questioning whether Jackson can play quarterback, but he showed improved accuracy this season and is a dynamic playmaker. He should be given a shot to play the position in the NFL and the Jets could use his talents.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

Tampa Bay’s defensive line isn’t as good as it once was and they need some pass rushing help. Key only played eight games this season and had four sacks, but has proven in the past to be a good speed rusher.

8. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The Bears have some nice young pieces in Trubisky and Howard, but now need to get a weapon at wide receiver. Ridley is the best route-runner in the class and produces even without the best quarterback play.

9. San Francisco 49ers- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Ward is the best cover corner in the draft. He had to really make his way this season, as he had to sit and wait his turn to get playing time. The 49ers got their defensive lineman and linebacker in the first round last year and can now get a good secondary player to go along with them.

10. Oakland Raiders- Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Oakland really needs to improve the interior of their defensive line and their defense in general. Vea can play both defensive tackle and nose tackle, which is valuable. He has great size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds.

11. Miami Dolphins- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Quenton Nelson (Photo by onefootdown.com)

Adam Gase has said that Ryan Tannehill is the starting quarterback. There are other holes on the team, but they need to have better offensive line play if they are going to be successful. Nelson is one of the best players in the class and will be drafted early despite playing a position that doesn’t usually get talked about this soon.

12. Cincinnati Bengals- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Bengals were able to go 7-9 with a terrible offensive line. They need help at just about every position and can start with tackles. They have taken tackles before in the first round, but they haven’t panned out. McGlinchey would’ve been a first round pick last year and the Bengals can get good value and fill a need with this pick.

13. Washington Redskins- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

Last draft, the Redskins got good value in Jonathan Allen and can do so again with Fitzpatrick. He likely fits in best as a safety in the NFL, but can also play corner. Fitzpatrick can play next to D.J. Swearinger next season.

14. Green Bay Packers- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson turned into an All-American corner at Iowa this season and has shown the ability to make acrobatic interceptions. The Packers need to improve the secondary and make the defense better for when Aaron Rodgers gets the offense going again.

15. Arizona Cardinals- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Cardinals have to find a new quarterback now that Carson Palmer is retired. Baker has defied all the critics who have mentioned his size as a reason not to draft him. He can make all the throws and is athletic to avoid pass rushers.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

The Ravens’ defense is really good, but the offense needs some work. Mike Wallace, Breshard Perriman and Jeremy Maclin aren’t cutting it for the Ravens. Kirk is dynamic when he has the ball in his hands and can play in the slot or on the outside.

17. Los Angeles Chargers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

James’ stock is falling, but teams will fall back in love with him again throughout the next few months leading to the draft. He is athletic, but doesn’t necessarily have a set position. The Chargers can use the help at safety and James would be a great addition.

18. Seattle Seahawks- Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

Reports have come out that it will be tough for Cliff Avril to play football again and Michael Bennett has said that he doesn’t think he’ll be back in Seattle. Davenport isn’t a household name because he played at UTSA, but he’s a good pass rusherwho fills a need.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Da’Ron Payne (Photo by bleacherreport)

19. Dallas Cowboys- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

The Cowboys are seemingly always weak up the middle of their defense. Shutting down their opponents’ running game would allow them to control the clock like they love to do. Payne’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he often gets double teamed.

20. Detroit Lions- Billy Price, OG/C

Detroit hasn’t had a solid running game in Matthew Stafford’s tenure as quarterback. Some more balance on offense would make it even better. They may be able to achieve this if they improve the offensive line. Price has tons of experience at guard and center for Ohio State and will start right away.

21. Buffalo Bills- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith is the best linebacker in college football and does a little bit of everything well. His game is fueled by his speed. The Bills are thin at linebacker and Smith is a day one starter.

22. Buffalo Bills- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Davis is a lengthy corner for Auburn, who has withstood a lot of good SEC competition. The Bills took Tre’Davious White last year and will likely want to get another corner to pair with him.

23. Los Angeles Rams- Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State

Los Angeles has good inside pressure in Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers, but need better outside pass rushers. Hubbard will not only provide that, but is also one of the best run-stopping defensive ends in the class.

24. Carolina Panthers- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

The Panthers signed Julius Peppers, but he won’t last much longer and they aren’t very deep at defensive end. Landry had a great 2016 season that put him on the map and followed it up with a solid season this year.

25. Tennessee Titans- Justin Reid, S, Stanford

Johnathan Cyprien has been bad for the Titans this year, in one of their lone weak spots on the roster. Reid took a huge leap this season in terms of production and has put himself on the map for a first round selection.

26. Atlanta Falcons- Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

Jackson has the potential to develop into a great cover corner. Atlanta needs another corner to pair with Desmond Trufant and should try to take one early.

27. New Orleans Saints- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

The Saints need to plan for the end of Drew Brees’ career sooner rather than later. Not everyone likes Rudolph, but he has a lot of experience and quite possibly the best deep ball in the class.

2018 NFL Mock Draft January 19

Ronnie Harrison (Photo by al.com)

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Harrison is a good strong safety prospect, who plays physically. Despite being known for all of their great safeties throughout their history, the Steelers are very bad at the position right now.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Jacksonville has talented young receivers, but due to injury have been spread thin at the position. Sutton is a bigger receiver who has put up big numbers in the AAC. As a team with not too many needs, the Jaguars can afford to spend this pick on a receiver.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

The Vikings’ offensive line is much better than last year, but can still be improved. With a good offense and defense, they don’t have too many needs. Brown has great size for an offensive tackle and his father played in the NFL.

31. Philadelphia Eagles- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Another team that doesn’t have too many needs is the Eagles. They could use another linebacker for depth and a future starter. Jefferson was a highly-touted recruit that hasn’t reached his potential yet.

32. New England Patriots- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

The Patriots’ defense needs to be revamped. Edmunds is a linebacker who can do it all. He rushes the passer, covers and helps to stop the run.

 

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Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Alabama had a thrilling comeback to win yet another title. It included putting in a freshman quarterback, who hadn’t played a meaningful snap all season long. The game just goes to show that college football is unique and great. While the 2017 season is now over it is time to look ahead to the 2018 season. Here is the early college football top 25 for the 2018 season:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

While they always lose talent to the NFL, Alabama can replace it. Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa will lead the offense alongside any of the talented running backs that decide to return to school. Najee Harris found some daylight in the title game and will also be back. The defense will lose a lot more talent to the NFL, but they always step up. A lot of players got experience this season due to injuries.

2. Clemson Tigers

Clemson made a third straight College Football Playoff and will compete for another next season. Kelly Bryant and the talented running backs will be back. Deon Cain and Hunter Renfrow need to make their decisions still, but Clemson can replace them. The defense always reloads and will at the very least have stud defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence to build around.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

J.K. Dobbins (Photo by cleveland.com)

J.T. Barrett may be leaving, but Dwayne Haskins looked good in relief against Michigan. Add him with J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber and the majority of the offensive line returning and it has the makings of a good offense. The defense will still have Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones, which will help make up a good defensive line.

4. Washington Huskies

The Huskies had a young team this season that saw them replace a lot of NFL talent on defense. Jake Browning should return to school to lead the team at quarterback. Myles Gaskin and Dante Pettis could both be lost to the NFL, but if Gaskin elects to return to school, the offense will be solid. The majority of the defense will return, but will have to fill holes left by Vita Vea and some very good linebackers.

5. Miami Hurricanes

Is Malik Rosier the answer at quarterback? Only time will tell. The Hurricanes should have him, Mark Walton and Ahmmon Richards back to make plays. They do lose a lot on the offensive line, but should be able to replace it. Miami should also get most of their defense back, which includes a great back seven of talented linebackers and a good secondary.

6. Michigan State Spartans

L.J. Scott decided to return to school, giving Michigan State almost all their starters back for next year. After winning ten games this season, they should be expected to compete even more next season. Brian Lewerke is a dual-threat that is expected to improve this offseason. The defense was very young and should also get a lot better next season.

7. Georgia Bulldogs

The Bulldogs just played in the National Championship, but are going to lose a lot of talent, especially on their defense. They could lose up to nine or ten players from the defense, which will not be easy to replace. Georgia has some playmakers on offense returning in Jake Fromm, D’Andre Swift and Riley Ridley. Most of their offensive line also returns.

8. Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin got a huge win when linebacker T.J. Edwards said he was returning for his senior season. He will give the defense some stability, as they lose a lot this offseason. The offense will be expected to pick up the slack, as Jonathan Taylor had a fantastic freshman season and most of his offensive line will return. The question is: How well can Alex Hornibrook play?

9. Oklahoma Sooners

Lincoln Riley did a fantastic job in his first year as head coach, but now has to move on without Baker Mayfield. Kyler Murray was a highly-touted recruit that Riley can mold. Freshman running back Rodney Anderson also returns after having a great season and Rose Bowl. Add those two to wide receiver “Hollywood” Brown and the offense should be set. Defensively, some talent will move on, but the offense is the strength of the team.

10. Virginia Tech Hokies

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Josh Jackson (Photo by cjonline.com)

Josh Jackson had a fantastic freshman season that resulted in nine wins. His progression is what carries this ranking. Travon McMillan and Cam Phillips, his two offensive weapons at running back and wide receiver, are gone. Young receivers will need to step up and they will also need to replace a few offensive linemen. The Hokies will return about six or seven starters on defense, but will need to replace some NFL-level talent.

11. Penn State Nittany Lions 

Saquon Barkley is gone, but Trace McSorley is back again. He will now have to be the focal point of the offense with a new offensive coordinator. Most of the offensive line returns, but a lot of new faces will have to step up on defense, as they had a lot of seniors getting significant playing time.

12. Auburn Tigers

The Tigers had a great season that resulted with them playing in the Cotton Bowl. Auburn gets quarterback Jarrett Stidham back, while Kerryon Johnson is leaving for the NFL. They will lose some quality players on defense, but will get the majority back for 2018.

13. Stanford Cardinal

Bryce Love is likely going to the NFL. The good news for Stanford is they can seemingly plug in a lot of running backs into their system to be productive. K.J. Costello also showed some flashes of being a very good quarterback. They lose more than half of their defense to seniors, but the returning players are solid.

14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Both Josh Adams and Equanimeous St. are trying to make it at the next level. Losing Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson deals a significant blow to the offense of Notre Dame. They still have some good offensive linemen, running backs and wide receivers who will step up next season. That only leaves the matter of quarterback. Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush will battle it out in the offseason for the starting role. The seniors leaving the defense will leave a mark, but a lot of players returning have gotten significant playing time due to injuries over the previous few seasons.

15. Boise State Broncos

Boise State has a chance to be in the national spotlight again this year, after fading in the past few seasons. Quarterback Brett Rypien and running back Alexander Mattison return, which should help keep the offense rolling. Losing wide receiver Cedrick Wilson and some offensive linemen will hurt, but they will manage. The defense is young and pretty much all returning next season, meaning they should be dominant.

16. LSU Tigers

The Tigers will have to replace a lot of their offense, but they have some talented recruits waiting to take the team to the next level. Myles Brennan looks to take over at quarterback after seeing action in six games this season. He was a highly-touted recruit that should be able to make plays with another year under his belt. A lot of good players from LSU’s defense will be missing as well, so they’re recruits will need to step up.

17. Michigan Wolverines

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Shea Patterson (Photo by freep.com)

Michigan won the Shea Patterson sweepstakes and the quarterback transfer from Ole Miss. Brandon Peters also showed potential at the position this season. They’ll need skill position players to step up next season. Donovan Peoples-Jones is in store for a big year at wide receiver if the quarterback play is good enough. The defense returns most of its key players. A player to watch is linebacker Devin Bush, who is one of the best in the country.

18. USC Trojans

Sam Darnold helped lead USC back to prominence, but now he is gone. Gone too are running back Ronald Jones and wide receiver Deontay Burnett. Two offensive linemen also graduate, so they will have some big shoes to fill in Los Angeles. A lot of their players on the defensive side of the ball will be testing the NFL Draft waters, so sophomore corner Jack Jones will have to step up and be a leader.

19. West Virginia Mountaineers

Will Grier had a great season for West Virginia and has decided to return to school. With most of his weapons back, Grier should have the Mountaineers in good position to have one of the best offenses in the country once again. While the defense isn’t the strength of the team, a lot of returning players will be good to work with.

20. Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida Atlantic hit a home run when they hired Lane Kiffin. He took a team that was supposed to be very bad and made them a conference championship team. Running back Devin Singletary was one of the most productive running backs in the country this season and will be back for his junior year. A young defense should also improve as a lot more people hop on the “Lane Train”.

21. Kansas State Wildcats

Bill Snyder is back for another season. They won nine games in 2016 and eight games this season with young teams. Now, with a bunch of veterans, the Wildcats are looking to compete more in the Big 12. Wide receiver Byron Pringle will be asked to do a lot for this team, but they will mainly try to run the football. If D.J. Reed decides to return at corner, it should be another solid year for the Wildcats.

22. Northwestern Wildcats

They won ten games this season and will be back for more next season. While their career leading rusher, Justin Jackson, is graduating, they seem to believe freshman Jeremy Larkin can be a workhorse back in his sophomore year. Quarterback Clayton Thorson is also back for next season, but is recovering from a torn ACL in the Music City Bowl. Freshman linebacker Paddy Fisher looks like he will be on of their all-time greats.

23. Florida State Seminoles

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Deondre Francois (photo by gridironnow.com)

Willie Taggart did a good job of turning around Oregon in his one season in Eugene. He is a solid coach who will get some talent returning. With Deondre Francois back at quarterback, Cam Akers at running back and a lot of good receivers, they should be solid on offense. The offensive line has struggled in the last few years, they are young and shold improve. A lot might need to be replaced on defense, but they have recruited well.

24. Mississippi State Bulldogs

If Nick Fitzgerald can recover from a gruesome leg injury, the Bulldogs have the makings of a good team. They get most of their team back, which is encouraging, but Dan Mullen left for Florida. Joe Moorehead will try to make Mississippi State’s offense a lot better, just like he did at Penn State.

25. Texas A&M Aggies

Jimbo Fisher is a great haul for Texas A&M. He will have to work with quarterbacks Kellen Mond and Nick Starkel, but they can be successful. Trayveon Willliams returns at running back, along with a lot of the offensive line, but they will have to replace Christian Kirk. A lot of their best defensive players will be playing on Sundays next year, so Fisher has a little bit of work cut out for him on that side of the ball.

 

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology 1/8/18

Conference play is now in session, which means a lot is known about college basketball teams already. There is still more to be known throughout conference play, as a lot of teams have already been upset in the first few weeks. The NCAA Tournament is just over two months away. Here is the latest NCAA Tournament bracketology. Click to zoom.

 

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2018 NFL Mock Draft January 5

The teams that did not qualify for the playoffs now know where they are drafting. Teams are looking to rebuild and get to the playoffs for the seasons to come. Here is the latest 2018 NFL Mock Draft :

1. Cleveland Browns-Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Rosen has had to carry UCLA this season and ended up having a successful season. He needed to have a good season to clear up any doubts about his shoulder injury his sophomore year. The Browns have a new GM, who has no allegiances to anyone on the roster, which means DeShone Kizer is likely done as quarterback.

2. New York Giants- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The Giants still need a head coach, so it’s hard to figure out what they will do. Eli Manning is probably gone and they have somewhat of a talented roster, so taking a quarterback might be the call. Jackson is a great athlete that makes plays with his legs, but has to prove he can pass at an NFL level.

3. Indianapolis Colts- Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. Stat

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Bradley Chubb (Photo by fanragsports.com)

Indianapolis also doesn’t have a coach yet, but most importantly don’t have Andrew Luck healthy. When he is back, the offense will figure itself out. They can improve the defense to make the team more complete when Luck comes back. Chubb is a great pass rusher who has 10 sacks in each of the past two seasons.

4. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Barkley is one of the most complete running backs to ever come out of college and might be the best player in the entire class. The Browns tried to improve the defense in last year’s class, but now need to focus on the offense. With Rosen, a good offensive line and now Barkley, the offense should improve.

5. Denver Broncos- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

While Allen certainly has flaws in his decision-making and accuracy, he does have a strong arm and is athletic. John Elway went to Idaho to watch him in his bowl game personally. The Broncos have a solid roster, but just need a quarterback to lead the team.

6. New York Jets- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Baker has defied all the critics who have mentioned his size as a reason not to draft him. He can make all the throws and is athletic to avoid pass rushers. The Jets had a better season than anyone expected and now just need a quarterback to take them to the next level.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

Tampa Bay’s defensive line isn’t as good as it once was and they need some pass rushing help. Key only played eight games this season and had four sacks, but has proven in the past to be a good speed rusher.

8. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The Bears have some nice young pieces in Trubisky and Howard, but now need to get a weapon at wide receiver. Ridley is the best route-runner in the class and produces even without the best quarterback play.

9. San Francisco 49ers- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Ward is the best cover corner in the draft. He had to really make his way this season, as he had to sit and wait his turn to get playing time. The 49ers got their defensive lineman and linebacker in the first round last year and can now get a good secondary player to go along with them.

10. Oakland Raiders- Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Oakland really needs to improve the interior of their defensive line and their defense in general. Vea can play both defensive tackle and nose tackle, which is valuable. He has great size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds.

11. Miami Dolphins- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Quenton Nelson (Photo by onefootdown.com)

Adam Gase has said that Ryan Tannehill is the starting quarterback. There are other holes on the team, but they need to have better offensive line play if they are going to be successful. Nelson is one of the best players in the class and will be drafted early despite playing a position that doesn’t usually get talked about this soon.

12. Cincinnati Bengals- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Bengals were able to go 7-9 with a terrible offensive line. They need help at just about every position and can start with tackles. They have taken tackles before in the first round, but they haven’t panned out. McGlinchey would’ve been a first round pick last year and the Bengals can get good value and fill a need with this pick.

13. Washington Redskins- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

Last draft, the Redskins got good value in Jonathan Allen and can do so again with Fitzpatrick. He likely fits in best as a safety in the NFL, but can also play corner. Fitzpatrick can play next to D.J. Swearinger next season.

14. Green Bay Packers- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson turned into an All-American corner at Iowa this season and has shown the ability to make acrobatic interceptions. The Packers need to improve the secondary and make the defense better for when Aaron Rodgers gets the offense going again.

15. Arizona Cardinals- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Darnold struggled this season with his decision-making which led to a lot of turnovers. He also has a flawed throwing motion.  Some have Darnold much higher in mock drafts, but his decision-making won’t get too much better in the NFL. The Cardinals have to find a new quarterback now that Carson Palmer is retired.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

The Ravens’ defense is really good, but the offense needs some work. Mike Wallace, Breshard Perriman and Jeremy Maclin aren’t cutting it for the Ravens. Kirk is dynamic when he has the ball in his hands and can play in the slot or on the outside.

17. Los Angeles Chargers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

James’ stock is falling, but teams will fall back in love with him again throughout the next few months leading to the draft. He is athletic, but doesn’t necessarily have a set position. The Chargers can use the help at safety and James would be a great addition.

18. Seattle Seahawks- Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Reports have come out that it will be tough for Cliff Avril to play football again and Michael Bennett has said that he doesn’t think he’ll be back in Seattle. Ferrell is a good pass rusher who could help start the rebuilding process for the Seahawks.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Da’Ron Payne (Photo by bleacherreport)

19. Dallas Cowboys- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

The Cowboys are seemingly always weak up the middle of their defense. Shutting down their opponents’ running game would allow them to control the clock like they love to do. Payne’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he often gets double teamed.

20. Detroit Lions- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Wilkins is a good interior pass rusher, but isn’t as good of a run stopper as the other defensive tackles who were higher in this mock draft. Akeem Spence is having a decent year, but that likely won’t continue.

21. Buffalo Bills- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith is the best linebacker in college football and does a little bit of everything well. His game is fueled by his speed. The Bills are thin at linebacker and Smith is a day one starter.

22. Atlanta Falcons- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Davis is a lengthy corner for Auburn, who has withstood a lot of good SEC competition. Atlanta needs a corner to pair with Desmond Trufant.

23. Tennessee Titans- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

Tennessee could use some help at pass rusher now because they have focused so much on improving the offense over the last several years. Landry had a great 2016 season that put him on the map and followed it up with a solid season this year.

24. Carolina Panthers- Austin Bryant, DE/OLB, Clemson

Although he is inconsistent from game to game, Bryant is a good pass rusher that can heat up in a hurry. The Panthers signed Julius Peppers, but he won’t last much longer and they aren’t very deep at defensive end.

25. Buffalo Bills (Via KC)- Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

The Bills had luck taking an LSU corner last year in Tre’Davious White and may try to get another. Jackson has a lot of similar traits to White and can develop into a great cover corner.

26. New Orleans Saints- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

The Saints need to plan for the end of Drew Brees’ career sooner rather than later. Not everyone likes Rudolph, but he has a lot of experience and quite possibly the best deep ball in the class.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Jacksonville has talented young receivers, but due to injury have been spread thin at the position. Sutton is a bigger receiver who has put up big numbers in the AAC. As a team with not too many needs, the Jaguars can afford to spend this pick on a receiver.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Sam Hubbard (Photo by si.com)

28. Los Angeles Rams- Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State

Los Angeles has good inside pressure in Aaron Donald and Sam Hubbard, but need better outside pass rushers. Hubbard will not only provide that, but is also one of the best run-stopping defensive ends in the class.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Harrison is a good strong safety prospect, who plays physically. Despite being known for all of their great safeties throughout their history, the Steelers are very bad at the position right now.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

The Vikings’ offensive line is much better than last year, but can still be improved. With a good offense and defense, they don’t have too many needs. Brown has great size for an offensive tackle and his father played in the NFL.

31. Philadelphia Eagles- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Another team that doesn’t have too many needs is the Eagles. They could use another linebacker for depth and a future starter. Jefferson was a highly-touted recruit that hasn’t reached his potential yet.

32. New England Patriots- Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

Davenport has been shooting up draft boards recently due to his crazy measurables and production. He may get selected higher than this, but the Patriots always find a way to get players at a good value.

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 National Championship

The National Championship is now set between Alabama and Georgia. Like most years, there will be a lot of talent on the field that will be in the NFL in a short time. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 National Championship:

Alabama Crimson Tide

Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB

Fitzpatrick has experience at both corner and safety for Alabama, but will fit in better as a safety in the NFL. He has gotten playing time since his freshman season at Alabama and is now a junior. In his three seasons he has 166 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, nine interceptions, 24 passes defended and one forced fumble.

At 6’1″ and 201 pounds, Fitzpatrick has good enough size for the NFL at either position he has played. He likely won’t have to wait long to hear his name called.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Calvin Ridley, WR

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Sugar Bowl

Calvin Ridley (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

Ridley is one of the best receivers in the draft class, if not the best. He has continued to put up numbers, despite not always having the greatest quarterback play. At Alabama, he has 2,749 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns. His best season was his freshman year with Blake Sims at quarterback.

He is 6’1″ and 190 pounds and will need to add some play strength to beat his man off the line of scrimmage. If he isn’t the first wide receiver drafted, Ridley will be shortly after.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Da’Ron Payne, DT

Payne doesn’t have the production of a lot of other prospects, but is asked to do something completely different for Alabama. He is a freakish athlete who takes on multiple blockers and helps stop the run well. Payne caught a touchdown pass against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl and had an intercpetion. He has 96 total tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks in his time at Alabama.

At 6’2″ and 308 pounds, Payne has good size for an interior defensive lineman. He plays nose tackle in Alabama’s 3-4, but can also play defensive tackle in the 4-3 system.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Other notable Alabama prospects: RB Damien Harris (2nd round-4th round), RB Bo Scarbrough (4th round-6th round), G/C Ross Pierschbacher (3rd round-5th round), C Lester Cotton (5th round-7th round), C Bradley Bozeman (3rd round-5th round), DE Da’Shawn Hand (6th round-undrafted free agent), LB Rashaan Evans (3rd round-4th round), LB Shaun Dion Hamilton (3rd round-5th round), CB Anthony Averett (3rd round-5th round), CB Tony Brown (4th round-6th round), S Ronnie Harrison (1st round-2nd round)

Georgia Bulldogs

Roquan Smith, LB

Smith is the most complete linebacker in the 2018 NFL Draft class and is the leader of the Georgia defense. The past two years he has produced a lot, but this year he took his game to a whole new level. He has 124 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

He is 6’1″ and 225 pounds which is good enough size to play inside linebacker. He could play in any system that is thrown out there in the NFL. Smith will be the first inside linebacker to be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Trenton Thompson, DT

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Rose Bowl

Trenton Thompson (redandblack.com)

Thompson doesn’t have many stats, but the good play of a defensive tackle doesn’t always show up in the stat line. He has 35 total tackles and three tackles for loss. The lack of production is a little concerning, but he does a good job with gap integrity and stopping the run.

At 6’4″ and 295 pounds, Thompson is a perfect fit as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Defensive tackles don’t usually go high in the draft, but should be selected on day two.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-3rd round

Nick Chubb, RB

Chubb is one of the best running backs in SEC history. He has battled injuries, split carries and played against tough competition and has still produced. In his career he has 4,744 rushing yards and 44 touchdowns for the Bulldogs. He isn’t the best running back in the class, but has some of the best production.

He is 5’10” and 225 pounds which is good enough for the NFL. Day two of the NFL Draft is likely when Chubb will hear his name called.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Other Georgia prospects: RB Sony Michel (3rd round-5th round), TE Jeb Blazevich (7th round-undrafted free agent), OL Isaiah Wynn (2nd round-4th round), LB Lorenzo Carter (2nd round-4th round), LB Davin Bellamy (4th round-6th round), LB Reggie Carter (7th round-undrafted free agent), CB DeAndre Baker (4th round-6th round), S Dominick Sanders (4th round-6th round)

 

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2018 College Football Playoff National Championship preview

The SEC is going to win the National Championship, it’s just a matter of which team. Both Georgia and Alabama were able to win their semi-final matchups and now will go to Atlanta for the big game. Nick Saban will go up against his former defensive coordinator for a shot at his fifth national championship. Here is the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship preview:

4 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1)

2018 College Football Playoff National Championship preview

Jalen Hurts (Photo by seccountry.com)

Alabama didn’t struggle at all with Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. Saban had his team ready to play with the defense not even allowing a touchdown. A lot of critics said that Alabama didn’t deserve to be in the College Football Playoff, but they used that as fuel to beat Clemson. Now they find themselves in the same position most great Alabama teams find themselves in: a chance to win a National Championship.

The offense wasn’t explosive, but got the job done against Clemson. Jalen Hurts completed 66.7% of his passes for 120 yards and two scores. He did what he has been doing all year, protecting the football and moving the chains. Hurts still has just one interception on the season. Protecting the ball will be at a premium once again when he goes up a very good Georgia defense.

Top receiver Calvin Ridley wasn’t the most productive he’s ever been, but had four receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown. Surprisingly defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne scored the other receiving touchdown when he was in as a fullback on the goal line. They have talent at the wide receiver position, especially with Ridley, but the key is making the most of their chances since Alabama isn’t the greatest passing offense.

Only three rushers got the ball in the semi-final against Clemson. Damien Harris led the way, like he has all year, with 77 rushing yards. Hurts added 40, while Bo Scarbrough could only muster 24 yards on 12 carries. They played an elite defensive front in Clemson, so this wasn’t a great surprise. Georgia’s defense is good, but the defensive line isn’t nearly as good as Clemson’s, so Alabama should have more success running the ball.

The defense stepped up to the challenge against Clemson and held the Tigers to under 200 total yards. They allowed wide receiver Deon Cain to do well, but for the most part didn’t let receivers get separation and completely shut down the running game. Rashaan Evans stepped up at linebacker with nine tackles, which was needed due to a lot of injuries at the linebacker position for Alabama. There are a lot of good players on this defense, who will have to step up against the Bulldog’s great running backs.

3 Georgia Bulldogs (13-1)

2018 College Football Playoff National Championship preview

Nick Chubb (Photo by fanragsports.com)

Georgia looked like they were going to lose to Oklahoma right before the half, when they were down by 17 points. They were fortunate to get a field goal before the break and then the defense started to play up to their potential in the second half. The game went into two overtime periods. In the second, Bulldog linebacker Lorenzo Carter blocked a field goal attempt and then Sony Michel ran in a touchdown to seal the victory for the Bulldogs.

Jake Fromm also did a great job of protecting the football with 210 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. If he can protect the football and help move it a little bit, the offense usually does well with the great running backs they have. He completed 20 of 29 passes in the game and didn’t waste too many opportunities.

The top receiver for the Bulldogs against Oklahoma was Javon Wims, who had six receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. Sony Michel showed again that he can do more than run the ball with four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. Like Alabama, the passing game isn’t the strong point of the team. The Bulldogs’ strongest position on offense is running back.

Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are the most dynamic duo of running backs in the history of college football. It is a great one-two punch, but Georgia also has freshman D’Andre Swift in the mix as well. Chubb and Michel had great games in the semi-final with 367 total yards and six touchdowns between the two. While Chubb is the more physical runner, Michel is multi-talented and has great quickness. They compliment each other really well and will need to have good games against Alabama.

The defense started off slow against Mayfield, but in the second half looked completely different. Oklahoma was only able to score 14 second half points, with seven of them coming from a defensive touchdown. While they allowed 48 points, no one is going to completely stop Oklahoma’s offense, but they hope to slow it down like Georgia did.

Roquan Smith had a rough first half, but when he stepped it up in the second half, the whole defense played better. He led the team with 11 total tackles. Smith did a good job spying on Mayfield, which will also come in hand against Alabama and Hurts. The other linebackers of Georgia are special too and will have to aid the defensive front in stopping the run.

Prediction

Beating Alabama at their own game is very tough and that is what Georgia will have to do. LSU has tried the blue print of having a pro-style offense, running the ball and playing tough defense for a while and have been largely unsuccessful against the Crimson Tide. Alabama definitely has the edge due to their history of beating teams who play similar styles.

Stopping the run is going to be something both teams focus on, which means it will likely come down to which quarterback and receivers can make the most plays. Hurts is the more experienced, has less turnovers and can run the ball well if he is pressured. He also has Calvin Ridley, one of the best receivers in college football, to throw to. The Crimson Tide have the advantage here too.

On defense, Georgia has the better linebackers. They have so many good ones they can’t even get all of them on the field all the time, while Alabama is struggling to stay healthy at the position. On the rest of the defense, Alabama is better than Georgia.

Expect a low-scoring game that centers around that style of running the ball and stopping the run. Alabama will let Hurts run, while feeding Scarbrough and Harris. If it doesn’t work, Hurts will protect the football and get it in Ridley’s hands. The Crimson Tide defense will at least be able to slow down the Georgia running backs, helping them secure the win.

 

 

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Sugar Bowl

The two best programs in college football the past two seasons are Alabama and Clemson. They produce great players and play in the biggest games. There are a lot of players from this game that will be stars in the NFL. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Sugar Bowl:

Alabama Crimson Tide

Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB

Fitzpatrick has experience at both corner and safety for Alabama, but will fit in better as a safety in the NFL. He has gotten playing time since his freshman season at Alabama and is now a junior. In his three seasons he has 163 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, nine interceptions, 23 passes defended and one forced fumble.

At 6’1″ and 201 pounds, Fitzpatrick has good enough size for the NFL at either position he has played. He likely won’t have to wait long to hear his name called.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Calvin Ridley, WR

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Sugar Bowl

Calvin Ridley (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

Ridley is one of the best receivers in the draft class, if not the best. He has continued to put up numbers, despite not always having the greatest quarterback play. At Alabama, he has 2,710 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. His best season was his freshman year with Blake Sims at quarterback.

He is 6’1″ and 190 pounds and will need to add some play strength to beat his man off the line of scrimmage. If he isn’t the first wide receiver drafted, Ridley will be shortly after.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Da’Ron Payne, DT

Payne doesn’t have the production of a lot of other prospects, but is asked to do something completely different for Alabama. He is a freakish athlete who takes on multiple blockers and helps stop the run well. He has 94 total tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks in his time at Alabama.

At 6’2″ and 308 pounds, Payne has good size for an interior defensive lineman. He plays nose tackle in Alabama’s 3-4, but can also play defensive tackle in the 4-3 system.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Other notable Alabama prospects: RB Damien Harris (2nd round-4th round), RB Bo Scarbrough (4th round-6th round), G/C Ross Pierschbacher (3rd round-5th round), C Lester Cotton (5th round-7th round), C Bradley Bozeman (3rd round-5th round), DE Da’Shawn Hand (6th round-undrafted free agent), LB Rashaan Evans (3rd round-4th round), LB Shaun Dion Hamilton (3rd round-5th round), CB Anthony Averett (3rd round-5th round), CB Tony Brown (4th round-6th round), S Ronnie Harrison (1st round-2nd round)

Clemson Tigers

Clelin Ferrell, DE

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Sugar Bowl

Clelin Ferrell (Photo by independentmail.com)

Ferrell has been the leading sack-man on the Tigers’ defense this season. That is impressive due to how much talent they have on their roster. In his two years of playing time at Clemson, Ferrell has 106 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks.

At 6’5″ and 265 pounds which is good size for a defensive end in the NFL. He will have to battle some fellow teammates for positioning in the draft class.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Austin Bryant, DE

Bryant is the other half of a great sack tandem of defensive ends. He has 7.5 sacks on the season to make it tough on opposing quarterbacks. In his career, he has 82 total tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. He has some inconsistency, as some games he will have multiple sacks and some he will have none, but NFL teams can work with that.

He also has solid size at 6’4″ and 265 pounds. The junior could go back to Clemson and work on his consistency, but he already has enough tape to be drafted early in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Christian Wilkins, DT

Wilkins is a leader for Clemson and one of the best defensive tackles in the country. The junior was a big part of the National Championship team last year. He has 133 total tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in his career. Wilkins has shown the ability to rush the passer from the interior, which is appealing to NFL teams.

He is 6’4″ and 310 pounds, which makes his best fit as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Wilkins will be one of the first interior defensive linemen selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Other notable Clemson prospects: WR Deon Cain (3rd round-5th round), WR Hunter Renfrow (5th round-7th round), OT Mitch Hyatt (2nd round-4th round), LB Kendall Joseph (3rd round-5th round), CB Mark Fields (2nd round-4th round), S Van Smith (4th round-6th round)

 

2018 Sugar Bowl preview

The Sugar Bowl features a rematch of the last two National Championship Games. Clemson and Alabama will be fighting for the right to go to a third straight National Championship. While some are upset this game isn’t happening for a title, it will be a great matchup of familiar foes. Here is the 2018 Sugar Bowl preview:

4 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1)

2018 Sugar Bowl preview

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Photo by youtube.com)

Alabama lost one game to Auburn and had to watch the SEC Championship Game from home. They were still able to get into the College Football Playoff despite not playing in the final week. Their best wins are over Fresno State, LSU and Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide aren’t just happy to be here, they are in it to win it.

The offense scores 39.1 points per game and is based off of the running game. They rank eighth in the country with 265.3 rushing yards per game. Damien Harris is the leading running back with 110 carries for 906 yards and 11 touchdowns. His backup, Bo Scarbrough, has added 549 yards and eight touchdowns. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is a dual-threat who has 768 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Hurts isn’t the greatest passer, but has protected the football. He has thrown for 1,940 yards, 15 touchdowns and one interception on the season. They have one receiver that produces a lot in Calvin Ridley. Ridley has 896 receiving yards and three touchdown catches.

They have the best scoring defense in the country that allows 11.5 points per game. They are first in rush defense and sixth in pass defense. Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the best players in college football. He has 52 total tackles six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception and six passes defended.

1 Clemson Tigers (12-1)

2018 Sugar Bowl preview

Kelly Bryant (Photo by ncaa.com)

The Tigers are the ACC Champions and number one seed in the College Football Playoff. They lost on the road to a bad Syracuse team, but didn’t have their quarterback, Kelly Bryant, for the entire game. Clemson beat nine bowl eligible teams with their best wins coming over Miami, Virginia Tech and Auburn.

Offensively, they scored 35.4 points per game. Their run offense isn’t as good as Alabama’s, but is still solid at 204.1 rushing yards per game. Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster have split carries and done well. Etienne has 744 rushing yards, while Feaser has 659. Bryant is also a threat to run from the quarterback position with 646 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

Bryant is efficient in his passing at 67.4% completion. He has 2,678 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. Three receivers do a lot of damage for the Tigers. Deon Cain leads the team 659 with receiving yards and six touchdowns. Hunter Renfrow leads the team with 55 catches and to go with it, has 571 yards. Ray-Ray McCloud has 502 receiving yards and one touchdown.

The Tigers have the second best scoring defense in the country at 12.8 points per game. They rank 12th against the run and seventh against the pass. Clemson has the most sacks per game at 3.38 this season and are led by the likes of Austin Bryant (7.5 sacks) and Clelin Ferrell (8.5 sacks).

Prediction

While Alabama looks better statistically, Clemson has played the tougher schedule and has still gotten to the College Football Playoff as the number one seed. The defensive line will pressure Hurts and make it hard to throw the ball. Alabama will be one dimensional with the run game, which is easier to stop. Bryant is mobile and can throw, which has caused problems for Alabama’s defense in the past. With all this, Clemson should be able to edge out a win.

Clemson Tigers 34 Alabama Crimson Tide 29