2018 NFL mock draft April 24

It is NFL Draft week! A lot will come and go by Thursday night, but here are how the draft could look. Check back for updates throughout the week.

2018 NFL mock draft April 24

Josh Allen (Photo by newyorkupstate.com)

1. Cleveland Browns- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

The Browns have smoke-screened so much, that they may not even know what they are doing with this pick. While Allen certainly has flaws in his decision-making and accuracy, he does have a strong arm and is athletic. He competed in all the drills at the combine and got some audible cheers when he displayed his arm strength. When general manager John Dorsey was with the Chiefs last year, he drafted a risky, strong-armed quarterback in Pat Mahomes and may take a similar risk this year, being that he has Tyrod Taylor behind center.

2. New York Giants- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

As far as rumors go, the Giants taking Barkley at pick number two is the biggest one going. It is earlier than running backs usually go, but Barkley is the best player in the class and fills a need. He can do a little bit of everything at the position and the Giants can use him to have some semblance of a running game.

3. New York Jets- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Jets fans get who they’ve wanted for over a year now. Darnold struggled this season with his decision-making which led to a lot of turnovers. He also has a flawed throwing motion. Although he went to the NFL Combine, he didn’t compete on the field and just interviewed with teams. Some have Darnold as their top quarterback, but his decision-making and ball security need to improve. He can learn behind Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown for the time being if he can’t beat them out for the job.

4. Cleveland Browns- Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

With Barkley gone, the Browns would likely take Bradley Chubb. Head coach Hue Jackson has publicly praised Chubb and he is one of the best players in the class. Chubb is a great pass rusher who has 10 sacks in each of the past two seasons. He displayed a good combination of size and speed at the combine. He and Myles Garrett could be a great pass-rushing tandem for years to come.

5. Denver Broncos- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Denver is in a prime position to get the fourth best quarterback in the class, Quenton Nelson or trade down to other teams seeking quarterbacks. C.J. Anderson was just released, so they could be looking to draft Barkley, but he’s off the board. If they stay at this pick and John Elway isn’t enamored with the remaining quarterbacks, he will select Nelson. 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. He has Hall of Fame potential.

6. Indianapolis Colts- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

With Chubb off the board, the Colts will definitely explore trading down again. Since this mock doesn’t predict trades, Ward would be the pick. Quincy Wilson is currently slotted as the number one corner. He had a decent rookie season, but the Colts don’t have much behind him. The Ohio State product is a good cover corner, who isn’t afraid to get physical. He is a little slight and will need to put on some weight.

2018 NFL mock draft April 24

Derwin James (Photo by sbnation.com)

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

He is athletic but doesn’t necessarily have a set position, which is turning some teams off. He ran a 4.48 at the combine and has great size for a defensive back, making him valuable. Tampa Bay can continue to play Justin Evans at free safety and get James to play strong safety.

8. Chicago Bears- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Edmunds does just about everything on the football field well, as a good cover linebacker, rusher and run stopper. He is also big and athletic. The Bears miss out on Ward to improve their secondary, but can get a linebacker that can develop into a great linebacker.

9. San Francisco 49ers- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

Jimmie Ward is at best an average NFL safety, so the 49ers can fill out a solid secondary with this pick. He likely fits in best as a safety in the NFL, but can also play corner. Whichever he needs to play, he will excel at. His 4.47 40 yard dash time at the combine was right in line where he should have run.

10. Oakland Raiders- Vita Vea, DT/NT, Washington

Vea can play both defensive tackle and nose tackle, depending on the scheme a team runs, which is valuable. He has great size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds, which makes him disruptive. Vea did suffer a hamstring injury at the combine. Oakland needs to get someone on the interior of the defensive line to stop the run and take some of the blockers off of Khalil Mack.

11. Miami Dolphins- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith was the best linebacker in college football this year and does a little bit of everything well. He is especially fast, which is crucial for his coverage and tracking down of ball carriers. The Dolphins have Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso, but McMillan got injured before his impact could be seen. They will still need a third linebacker.

12. Buffalo Bills- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Reports are that Rosen is falling. No major questions about Rosen arose from the NFL Draft Combine interviews, which is good news for him. Rosen had to carry UCLA and ended up having a successful season. He needed to have a good year to clear up any doubts about his shoulder injury he suffered during his sophomore season.The Bills are reportedly not looking to move up anymore, but can still get a solid quarterback at pick number 12 and would get a steal here.

13. Washington Redskins- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

Washington’s interior of the defensive line can be improved, as they allowed the most rushing yards per game in the NFL. Payne’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he often gets double teamed. He is very athletic for his size and even played some offense in certain situations for Nick Saban at Alabama.

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 don’t have much at corner and will need to improve the pass defense to keep up in their division.

2018 NFL mock draft April 24

Baker Mayfield (Photo by insidethepylon.com)

15. Arizona Cardinals- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Mayfield 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 enough to avoid pass rushers. His main calling card is his accuracy, which is the best in this draft class. He said as much in his interviews with the media at the NFL Combine. The Cardinals will need a quarterback for when Sam Bradford gets injured.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Ridley is the best route-runner in the class and only lacked production in college because of the system he played in and inconsistent quarterback play. The Ravens signed Michael Crabtree, but still need a lot of receiver help, which they can fill with this selection.

17. Los Angeles Chargers- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Chargers’ offensive line is not good at all. If they want Phillip Rivers to play much longer, they need to protect him better. Orlando Brown had a rough combine, while Connor Williams has some questions about his length. McGlinchey might be the safest pick because even if he can’t be a great left tackle, he can move over to the right and be successful.

18. Seattle Seahawks- Marcus Davenport, DE/OT, UTSA

Davenport has the build of a great pass rusher and can rush from the outside linebacker position, but reports are the media like him more than NFL teams do. The Seahawks lost Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril may not be the same player with his neck injury. They will need to make up for the loss in production.

19. Dallas Cowboys- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Evans is a quick, run stopping linebacker that can help out right away. He can fit in next to Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee. With Lee’s injury history it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have another linebacker ready to step in as well.

20. Detroit Lions- Isaiah Wynn, OG/C, Georgia

Detroit needs to have a better run game in order to have a more balanced offense. Running back is a position they will likely address in this draft, but can start by improving the interior offensive line play. Wynn played well in the Senior Bowl and the College Football Playoff for Georgia. He played tackle in college and will move inside for the NFL.

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State

Cincinnati got Cordy Glenn with their trade down to this pick, but their offensive line is still very weak. Price has tons of experience at guard and center for Ohio State and will start right away.

22. Buffalo Bills- James Daniels, C, Iowa

When Eric Wood had to retire, the Bills lost a great player. They also traded Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati and need to upgrade their offensive line. Daniels has risen up draft boards lately and can immediately fill in for Wood. This pick may be traded if they move up higher to draft a quarterback.

2018 NFL mock draft April 24

Mason Rudolph (Photo by cincyjungle.com)

23. New England Patriots- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

The Patriots just traded for this pick by giving the Rams Brandin Cooks. Having two first-round picks is an odd territory for New England to be in. They are reportedly interested in Rudolph and have brought him in for a visit. Brian Hoyer is the current backup, but the Patriots need another young quarterback after trading Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo.

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- Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State

Tennessee has Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan but can use a young pass rusher as well. Hubbard lacks elite athleticism, but can get after the quarterback and stops the run well for and edge rusher.

26. Atlanta Falcons- Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Alexander is a fast and physical corner that will likely go in round one. Atlanta needs another corner to pair with Desmond Trufant and should try to take one early.

27. New Orleans Saints- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The Saints signed Tom Savage, but that’s not going to solve their issue after Brees retires. Taysom Hill is a backup they reportedly love, but he wasn’t highly thought of out of BYU. Jackson will likely go higher than this with a team trading up for him.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Vander Esch is another player that has been moving up draft boards. With Ryan Shazier not playing next year, the Steelers signed Jon Bostic. He and Vince Williams will start, but that leaves a lot to be desired.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Sutton is a great outside receiver, who produced a lot at SMU. He does have some questions as to if he can produce against NFL competition. The Jaguars have a decent crop of young receivers but could use some more help at the position after the loss of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Brown had a bad combine, which may hurt his stock a little, but his game tape is great and shows a mauler. He may not have the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL but could be a great right tackle. The Vikings’ offensive line is much better than last year, but can still be improved. With a good offense and defense, they can afford to make a good unit better.

31. New England Patriots- Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

With Malcolm Butler leaving, the Patriots need more help at corner. Hughes is a good cover corner, but has some off the field concerns.

32. Philadelphia Eagles- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

They just won the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback and have a very solid roster. This pick could depend a lot on the health status of left tackle Jason Peters. If he isn’t healthy they’ll need a tackle. Williams’ draft stock has been all over the place, going from early first round to third round back into the first round.

 

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Kansas City Chiefs 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is less than one week away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the 2018 Kansas City Chiefs NFL Draft profile.

Summary

Kansas City Chiefs 2018 NFL Draft profile

Patrick Mahomes (Photo by arrowheadaddict.com)

The Kansas City Chiefs won 10 games and the AFC West last season but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Tennessee Titans. It was a good season for the Chiefs, but there have been and will be more changes to the roster before next season starts.

The offense ranked in the top 10 in both passing and rushing yards per game and sixth in points per game at 25.9. Alex Smith led the offense last year, but has been traded to the Washington Redskins. That means Patrick Mahomes will take over. The gun-slinging rookie passed for 284 yards and an interception in his only game of last season. He will have to step up big time in his second season.

Mahomes will have some of the fastest receivers in the game to throw to between Tyreek Hill and newly acquired Sammy Watkins. On the inside, Travis Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the game and should act as a safe set of hands for Mahomes to throw to. Kareem Hunt had a fantastic rookie season and will be back to provide a good running game and a solid receiver out of the backfield. The offensive line will need some bolstering before through the draft.

The defense was average last season ranking 15th in points per game allowed at 21.2. Through offseason moves, the defense will also look a little different next season as well.

Marcus Peters was traded for draft picks. Kendall Fuller and David Amerson were both acquired this offseason and will start at the corners. Eric Berry will return from his torn Achilles to play safety. It is difficult to come back physically from this injury so he’ll have to rely on his instincts more than ever. Outside of him there isn’t much safety talent on the roster.

Anthony Hitchens was brought in from Dallas to play one of the inside linebacker positions, while Reggie Ragland mans the other. Dee Ford and Justin Houston are good pass rushers from the outside linebacker spots. Chris Jones is a good 3-4 defensive end, but more is needed on the defensive line.

A lot has changed with the Chiefs, but with the right moves in the draft and new faces living up to their potential, they can make the playoffs once again.

Picks and Needs

The Chiefs have eight picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, but are without a first-round selection this year.

First round (0 picks):

Second round (1): 54

Third round (2): 78, 86

Fourth round (2): 122, 124

Fifth round (0):

Sixth round (1): 209

Seventh round (2): 233, 243

Offensive needs:

Guard- Zach Fulton is now a Texan and needs to be replaced. If they want Hunt to have another successful season, they need to find a good, physical guard in this draft.

Tackle- Eric Fisher hasn’t lived up to expectations after being the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. He likely won’t be replaced in this draft, but a developmental tackle might be selected to eventually take over.

Defensive needs:

Edge Rusher- Houston is aging and Ford didn’t have as good of a season as last year. Outside of these two there isn’t much in terms of a pass rusher on the roster.

Nose Tackle- Xavier Williams was signed, but if he doesn’t work out another nose tackle will be needed.

Safety- Berry is coming off the Achilles injury and the rest of the safeties on the roster aren’t great.

Targets

Kansas City Chiefs 2018 NFL Draft profile

Orlando Brown (Photo by Sbnation.com)

Second round: 

Pick No. 54: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Brown had a bad combine, but his tape over the last few seasons at Oklahoma was good. He has been falling down most mock drafts, but if he falls to the Chiefs, they can select him and develop him into a solid left tackle. A good left tackle will be needed to protect Mahomes as he develops.

Third round:

Pick No. 78: Tim Settle, DT/NT, Virginia Tech

Settle is another prospect that didn’t have the best combine, but could be a steal in the draft. He is the perfect fit for the Chiefs’ 3-4 defense at nose tackle. With better technique and a little more quickness, Settle can become a solid player at the NFL level.

Pick No. 86: Frank Ragnow, C/G, Arkansas

Ragnow can play either guard or center, but can start right away in the right situation. This fits an area of need for the Chiefs and could pay off big time if he plays up to his potential.

 

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New England Patriots 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is now under a week away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into the NFL Draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. You will find it here. Draftmas will continue with the New England Patriots 2018 NFL Draft profile. 

Summary

New England Patriots 2018 NFL Draft profile

Tom Brady (Photo by bleacherreport.com)

New England made it to the Super Bowl again last season but were unable to keep up with the Philadelphia Eagles. They had a good season, but losing in the biggest game of the year created an offseason that has been far from normal.

The Patriots averaged the second most points in the league at 28.6 points per game. They ranked in the top 10 in both passing (second) and rushing (10th). Tom Brady is expected to be back for next season, even though reports have come out this week that he hasn’t committed to it yet. Brian Hoyer is his backup and is in his second stint in New England, meaning he should be able to run the offense decently well if Brady gets hurt, or opts for retirement.

Brandin Cooks was traded to the Rams and Danny Amendola signed with the Dolphins, meaning new wideouts will be needed. Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman return, although Edelman will have to prove he is back from his torn ACL. Jordan Matthews was signed to help bolster the receiving core, but they will likely need to add more in the draft.

Rob Gronkowski has been in headlines all offseason for contemplating retirement and for possibly being on the trading block. Odds are he returns. The offensive line will look a lot different next season as Nate Solder and Cameron Flemming are no longer Patriots.

The running backs are mostly the same, but Dion Lewis left for the Titans. Jeremy Hill was added to the crew in which no one knows who will produce on any given game.

While the defense struggled early in the season, they recovered to finish fifth in the league in points allowed. Adrian Clayborne and Danny Shelton were acquired to bolster the defensive line that was notably pretty weak in 2017. They now have turned it into a solid unit that even has a little bit of depth.

The linebackers did not perform well last season, but there is some talent at the position in Donta’ Hightower and Kyle Van Noy. Malcolm Butler was signed by the Titans, so Jason McCourty was acquired, but they still need a few good young corners. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty are solid safeties, but they aren’t among the best in the NFL.

There has been a lot of change to the roster this offseason, but with the right moves in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Patriots could make it to another Super Bowl.

Picks and Needs

The Patriots have eight picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, five of which are in the first three rounds. This is a luxury they haven’t had in a while.

First round (2 picks): 23, 31

Second round (2): 43, 63

Third round (1): 95

Fourth round (0):

Fifth round (0):

Sixth round (2): 198, 210

Seventh round (1): 219

Offensive needs:

Quarterback- Who knows how long Brady can play for? Hoyer is a good backup, but after trading Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett a new young quarterback to develop is needed.

Offensive Tackle- With both Solder and Flemming gone, the Patriots need to get a tackle who they can trust to protect Brady for the rest of his career. There aren’t a lot of great tackle prospects in this draft class, so they will need to strike gold.

Wide Receiver- The Patriots have a few solid wide receivers in Edelman, Hogan and Matthews, but should add more to the roster. A young target who could develop into a number one would be a nice addition to the roster.

Defensive needs:

Defensive Tackle- Shelton and Malcolm Brown make a decent tandem, but depth is needed. They will also need a player to rush on passing downs.

Linebacker- Hightower and Van Noy had down years and they’ll, at the very least, want to get a third linebacker.

Cornerback- McCourty is a solid replacement for Butler, but he isn’t the youngest. With so many picks early in the draft, they should use one on a corner.

Targets

New England Patriots 2018 NFL Draft profile

Lamar Jackson (Photo by cincyjungle.com)

First round:

Pick No. 23: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The going rumor for the first round is that the Patriots love Lamar Jackson. With Brady’s career winding down, they do need to add a plan for the future. With Bill Belichick’s genius, they could use Jackson before ever making him the starting quarterback. Sitting and learning behind one of the best quarterbacks of all time is a great way to start a career.

Pick No. 31: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

To address the losses on the offensive line, the Patriots can select a tackle at the end of the first round. Williams is athletic, but has short arms and isn’t the strongest. New England will have to develop him, like any other tackle in the class, but could turn him into a great lineman.

Second round:

Pick No. 43: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

With the departure of Malcolm Butler, Oliver can be the new young corner on the Patriots. He is lengthy, but slight and will need to add length to his frame. With time he can grow into a shutdown corner.

Pick No. 63: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson has good athletic ability and speed, but could never seemingly put it all together at Texas. New England’s coaching staff should be able to get the most out of him.

Third round: 

Pick No. 95: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

St. Brown is tall and fast, but needs improved route-running. Playing with Brady will immediately help him out and make him a good pro.

 

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Candidates to be the next Reds’ manager

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cincinnati Reds, after a 3-15 start to the season. Jim Riggleman was appointed the interim manager and a search for a permanent replacement for Price will be conducted later in the season. That leaves the question: Who will be in contention for the job?

Jim Riggleman

Candidates to be the Reds' new manager

Jim Riggleman (Photo by nydailynews.com)

Riggleman has been with the Reds’ organization since 2012 and has served a number of roles for the club. He has been a manager in the minor leagues and a third base/bench coach in the major leagues. He has been given the chance to manage the Reds for the rest of this season and if he impresses, could be awarded the job on a permanent basis.

As a manager in the big leagues, Riggleman has posted a record of 662-824. He has only had a .500 record in three different seasons and two of those were only partial seasons.

Getting the job will be a longshot for Riggleman, but he does have the first crack at it. The Reds aren’t expecting to win much of anything this season, but if he can show that the team can grow and improve under his leadership, he will be considered for the job.

Barry Larkin

The 1995 National League MVP has been a rumored candidate for manager of the Reds for years now. Larkin was born and raised in Cincinnati and played his entire career for the Reds. He was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2012 for his illustrious career.

Larkin’s only managerial experience was with Brazil in the World Baseball Classic. Although they qualified for the event, they did not win a game once the event started. Since 2015 he has been with the Reds as a coach in different capacities and has been credited with helping the development of Zack Cozart.

He has been a candidate for the manager position in past years for the Detroit Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays. Since his retirement as a player, he has also been involved in the Nationals’ front office and a media member for ESPN.

This would be the time for the Reds to take a shot on a new manager, as the expectations aren’t high and Larkin would help nostalgic fans a reason to go to Great American Ballpark.

John Farrell

Farrell was fired as manager of the Red Sox two days after losing the ALDS in 2017. He posted a 586-548 over his seven seasons as a manager with the Blue Jays and Red Sox. He won the World Series with Boston in 2013.

He was hired as a scout for the Reds in March of this season. He doesn’t have a lot of ties to the Reds’ organization before being hired, but his son Luke did pitch in nine games for Cincinnati last season.

There is a large contingent of Boston fans who would not recommend Farrell as a manager, but for possible candidates, he does work for the organization currently, has above a .500 record and a World Series title, which is more than a lot of other candidates can say.

Joe Girardi

Candidates to be the Reds' new manager

Joe Girardi (Photo by sportingnews.com)

The Yankees decided not to offer Girardi a new contract after they made it to the ALCS last season, as they wanted a different type of manager. Girardi has a career record of 988-794 in his 11 seasons as a manager. His greatest accomplishment is winning the World Series with the club in 2009. He also managed the Florida Marlins for a season in 2006 before joining the Bronx Bombers in 2008.

Girardi had the task of managing a high-payroll, big market team and did have to go through a lot of different things. He had a player suspended for steroids(Alex Rodriguez), a Yankee legend’s (Jeter) play decline then retire, a lot of overpaid players and overbearing owners.

He is the most experienced manager that is also near the top of the Reds’ wish list and will be one of the first people called when the search starts.

Other notable contenders

Billy Hatcher- Hatcher has been with Reds for a long time as a coach but hasn’t ever seriously been considered for the manager position. He likely won’t get the job this time either but should get a look due to his tenure with the Reds.

Matt Williams- He is currently the third base coach of the Oakland Athletics, but has managerial experience with the Nationals. In his two seasons in Washington, he had a record of 179-145 and one postseason appearance.

Fredi Gonzalez- Gonzalez has managed both the Braves and Marlins but is currently the third base coach for Miami. He has a career record of 710-692.

Brad Ausmus- The Tigers decided not to extend Brad Ausmus for 2018 and he is now a special assistant for the Los Angeles Angels. In his four seasons with the Tigers, he was 314-332 with one postseason appearance.

Jim Tracy- Tracy is a scout for the Pirates, but is a former manager, who won the manager of the year award in 2009. He was born in Hamilton, Ohio and has a career record of 856-880, but hasn’t managed since 2012. He is not favored to get the job but has the local ties, which make him a candidate.

 

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Reds fire Bryan Price

The Cincinnati Reds have fired Bryan Price after a 3-15 start to the season. Reds’ pitching coach, Mack Jenkins, has also been let go in the organization’s sweeping changes Thursday morning.

Jim Riggleman will take over as interim manager for the time being, but a search for a new permanent manager will be happening at a later time that has not been announced by the club. He has been the Red’s bench coach this season. Riggleman has posted a 662-824 record over his 12 seasons as a manager of the Padres, Cubs, Mariners and Nationals.

Louisville Bats’ manager Pat Kelly has been promoted from the AAA level to bench coach to fill Riggleman’s place. Pensacola pitching coach Danny Darwin will move up from AA pitching coach, all the way to the Reds.

Price took over at the start of the 2014 season after the Reds decided they no longer wanted Dusty Baker in the dugout. In his four-plus seasons as manager, Price posted an overall record of 279-378.

After the 2014 season, Cincinnati went into rebuild mode and it looked like they were willing to stick with Price through the rebuild. The start to this season was not going well for the Reds and after 18 games, they decided a move was needed.

 

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Jacksonville Jaguars 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is over a week away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Jacksonville Jaguars 2018 NFL Draft profile.

Summary

Jacksonville Jaguars 2018 NFL Draft profile

Blake Bortles (Photo by usatoday.com)

Jacksonville has completed the franchise turnaround with a 10-6 record and an AFC South title. In the playoffs, they were able to beat the Bills and Steelers before falling to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. All things look good heading into 2018 for the Jaguars.

The defense was one of the best in all of football, as they allowed just 16.8 points per game, which ranked second in the NFL. They have stockpiled talent through the draft and free agency to be good on all three levels of the defense. The secondary features one of, if not the best corner pairings in the league with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church are solid safeties that can cover up any mistakes.

Paul Posluszny decided to retire, but the linebacking core still has Telvin Smith and Myles Jack, who were both fantastic last season. With a stacked defensive line, which includes Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Marcell Dareus, Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr., they have earned the nickname “Sacksonville”.

On offense, Blake Bortles has drawn a lot of hate but played well in the playoffs to earn his keep. Adding as much support to Bortles as possible would be a smart use of their draft picks. He will be without Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, who left in free agency and will need some new targets to throw to this season.

Luckily, the running game was the best in the league last season with Leonard Fournette leading the way. The offensive line is solid and they even signed Andrew Norwell to play guard for next season.

With a great defense and a solid offense, the Jaguars should look to add players in this draft who can help them get over the top to win a Super Bowl.

Picks and needs

The Jaguars have seven picks in the draft. They traded their fifth-round pick to the Bills as a part of the deal to acquire Dareus. An extra seventh-round pick was added from Cincinnati.

First Round (1 pick): 29

Second Round (1): 61

Third Round (1): 93

Fourth Round (1): 129

Fifth Round (0): 

Sixth Round (1): 203

Seventh Round (1): 230, 247

Offensive needs:

Quarterback- The Jaguars signed Bortles to three more years. They clearly believe in him a little bit, but not enough to make him the franchise quarterback. Another quarterback should be taken to back him up and develop in case Bortles’ play falters. Currently, Cody Kessler is the only other quarterback on the roster.

Wide Receiver- Donte Moncrief was signed, but more is needed at the position. Robinson and Hurns departing leaves Moncrief with Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, Jaelen Strong and Rashad Greene. They need a true number one receiver as well as more playmakers. Supporting Bortles with better receivers is a good way to find out if he’s worthy of a longer deal.

Tight End- Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul were signed, but they had fewer than 500 yards receiving between the two of them last season. This isn’t a high-priority need, but if they can snag a viable prospect in the middle to late rounds of the draft, it would benefit them greatly.

Offensive Line- Cam Robinson didn’t have the greatest season as a rookie left tackle. Hopefully, he can improve in year two, but if he can’t, he could be a candidate to move to guard. They either need a tackle or guard, but need to decide what they are doing with Robinson and make a draft selection accordingly.

Defensive needs:

Cornerback- Aaron Colvin left in free agency and D.J. Hayden was signed to be a slot-corner specialist. He hasn’t played the greatest the last few years, so a backup plan might be needed if he doesn’t work out.

Linebacker- With Posluszny retiring, Blair Brown will step into the starting lineup. He played decently last year when given the chance, but depth needs to be added behind him.

Targets

Jacksonville Jaguars 2018 NFL Draft profile

Courtland Sutton (Photo by windycitygridiron.com)

First round:

Pick No. 29: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

To address the wide receiver need, the Jaguars can take one at the end of the first round. Sutton is a bigger outside receiver who put up a lot of production at SMU. He uses his size to make plays on 50/50 balls and is a deep threat. He has struggled against good competition but didn’t get too many opportunities playing in the AAC.

Second round:

Pick No. 61: Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State

The Jags already have the best rushing offense in the NFL, so when addressing the offensive line they can find a tackle that specializes in protecting the quarterback. Rankin can develop into a good left tackle, which could afford Robinson to move inside.

Third round:

Pick No. 93: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State

More support for Bortles comes in the form of an athletic receiving tight end. Gesicki had a really good combine and can be brought in to help Bortles, while developing into an all-around tight end behind Paul and Seferian-Jenkins.

 

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2018 NFL mock draft April 17

The NFL Draft is just over a week away and teams are prepping for the three days that can bolster their rosters. Here is the 2018 NFL mock draft April 17.

1. Cleveland Browns- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

The rumors now are that the Browns are going to select Josh Allen with the first overall pick. How long will this rumor last? Nobody knows. While Allen certainly has flaws in his decision-making and accuracy, he does have a strong arm and is athletic. He competed in all the drills at the combine and got some audible cheers when he displayed his arm strength. When general manager John Dorsey was with the Chiefs last year, he drafted a risky, strong-armed quarterback in Pat Mahomes and may take a similar risk this year, being that he has Tyrod Taylor behind center.

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

When one rumor starts, the other rumors will start. Now it looks like the Giants will select Darnold if he is still available. Darnold struggled this season with his decision-making which led to a lot of turnovers. He also has a flawed throwing motion. Although he went to the NFL Combine, he didn’t compete on the field and just interviewed with teams. Some have Darnold as their top quarterback, but his decision-making and ball security need to improve.

2018 NFL Mock draft April 17

Josh Rosen (Photo by washingtonpost.com)

3. New York Jets- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The Jets traded up to three and guaranteed themselves a quarterback, but they don’t even know who they will get. In this scenario, they would take Josh Rosen. No major questions about Rosen arose from the NFL Draft Combine interviews, which is good news for him. Rosen had to carry UCLA and ended up having a successful season. He needed to have a good year to clear up any doubts about his shoulder injury he suffered during his sophomore season.

4. Cleveland Browns- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Yes, the Browns did just sign Carlos Hyde, but Barkley is still the best player in the class. With the trades for Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland is making a concerted effort to improve the offense and with Barkley, they would have a lot of options in 2018.

5. Denver Broncos- Quenton Neslon, OG, Notre Dame

Denver is in a prime position to get the fourth best quarterback in the class, Quenton Nelson or trade down to other teams seeking quarterbacks. C.J. Anderson was just released, so they could be looking to draft Barkley, but he’s off the board. If they stay at this pick and John Elway isn’t enamored with the remaining quarterbacks, he will select Nelson. 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. He has Hall of Fame potential.

6. Indianapolis Colts- Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, N.C. State

The Colts pulled off a fantastic trade and will likely still get their first target in the NFL Draft. They could even trade down again. Frank Reich will be looking forward to working with Andrew Luck. 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. He displayed a good combination of size and speed at the combine.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

He likely fits in best as a safety in the NFL, but can also play corner. Whichever he needs to play, he will excel at. His 4.47 40 yard dash time at the combine was right in line where he should have run. Tampa’s secondary needs to be upgraded immediately if they wish to compete in the NFC South.

8. Chicago Bears- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Chicago has signed Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel to bolster its wide receiver core. This means they may choose to address the secondary. The Ohio State product is a good cover corner, who isn’t afraid to get physical. He is a little slight and will need to put on some weight.

2018 NFL mock draft April 17

Tremaine Edmunds (Photo by roanoke.com)

9. San Francisco 49ers- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Edmunds does just about everything on the football field well, as a good cover linebacker, rusher and run stopper. He is also big and athletic. San Francisco could have some serious linebacker issues if Reuben Foster is not able to play due to his off the field issues.

10. Oakland Raiders- Vita Vea, DT/NT, Washington

Vea can play both defensive tackle and nose tackle, depending on the scheme a team runs, which is valuable. He has great size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds, which makes him disruptive. Vea did suffer a hamstring injury at the combine. Oakland needs to get someone on the interior of the defensive line to stop the run and take some of the blockers off of Khalil Mack.

11. Miami Dolphins- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith was the best linebacker in college football this year and does a little bit of everything well. He is especially fast, which is crucial for his coverage and tracking down of ball carriers. The Dolphins have Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso, but McMillan got injured before his impact could be seen. They will still need a third linebacker.

12. Buffalo Bills- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Bills are trying to move up again to get a quarterback but could be deciding between Mayfield and Lamar Jackson. Mayfield 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 enough to avoid pass rushers. His main calling card is his accuracy, which is the best in this draft class. He said as much in his interviews with the media at the NFL Combine.

13. Washington Redskins- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

Washington’s interior of the defensive line can be improved, as they allowed the most rushing yards per game in the NFL. Payne’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he often gets double teamed. He is very athletic for his size and even played some offense in certain situations for Nick Saban at Alabama.

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 don’t have much at corner and will need to improve the pass defense to keep up in their division.

15. Arizona Cardinals- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Cardinals signed an injury-prone quarterback in Sam Bradford, and Mike Glennon, so they need to protect them. Orlando Brown had a rough combine, while Connor Williams has some questions about his length. McGlinchey might be the safest pick because even if he can’t be a great left tackle, he can move over to the right and be successful.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Ridley is the best route-runner in the class and only lacked production in college because of the system he played in and inconsistent quarterback play. The Ravens signed Michael Crabtree, but still need a lot of receiver help, which they can fill with this selection.

2018 NFL mock draft April 18

Derwin James (photo by bucsnation.com)

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

He is athletic but doesn’t necessarily have a set position, which is turning some teams off. He ran a 4.48 at the combine and has great size for a defensive back, making him valuable. The Chargers could use him next Jahleel Addae and have a solid safety pair.

18. Seattle Seahawks- Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

Davenport has the build of a great pass rusher and can rush from the outside linebacker position, but reports are the media like him more than NFL teams do. The Seahawks lost Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril may not be the same player with his neck injury. They will need to make up for the loss in production.

19. Dallas Cowboys- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Evans is a quick, run stopping linebacker that can help out right away. He can fit in next to Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee. With Lee’s injury history it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have another linebacker ready to step in as well.

20. Detroit Lions- Isaiah Wynn, OG/C, Georgia

Detroit needs to have a better run game in order to have a more balanced offense. Running back is a position they will likely address in this draft, but can start by improving the interior offensive line play. Wynn played well in the Senior Bowl and the College Football Playoff for Georgia. He played tackle in college and will move inside for the NFL.

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State

Cincinnati got Cordy Glenn with their trade down to this pick, but their offensive line is still very weak. Price has tons of experience at guard and center for Ohio State and will start right away.

22. Buffalo Bills- James Daniels, C, Iowa

When Eric Wood had to retire, the Bills lost a great player. They also traded Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati and need to upgrade their offensive line. Daniels has risen up draft boards lately and can immediately fill in for Wood. This pick may be traded if they move up higher to draft a quarterback.

23. New England Patriots- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

The Patriots just traded for this pick by giving the Rams Brandin Cooks. Having two first-round picks is an odd territory for New England to be in. They are reportedly interested in Rudolph and have brought him in for a visit. Brian Hoyer is the current backup, but the Patriots need another young quarterback after trading Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo.

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.

2018 NFL mock draft April 18

Sam Hubbard (Photo by bleacherreport.com)

25. Tennessee Titans- Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State

Tennessee has Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan but can use a young pass rusher as well. Hubbard lacks elite athleticism, but can get after the quarterback and stops the run well for and edge rusher.

26. Atlanta Falcons- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Atlanta needs another corner to pair with Desmond Trufant and should try to take one early. Davis is a lengthy corner that has experience covering some good receivers in the SEC.

27. New Orleans Saints- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Six quarterbacks going in the first round is looking like more of a likelihood. The Saints signed Tom Savage, but that’s not going to solve their issue after Brees retires. Taysom Hill is a backup they reportedly love, but he wasn’t highly thought of out of BYU. Jackson will likely go higher than this with a team trading up for him.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Vander Esch is another player that has been moving up draft boards. With Ryan Shazier not playing next year, the Steelers signed Jon Bostic. He and Vince Williams will start, but that leaves a lot to be desired.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Sutton is a great outside receiver, who produced a lot at SMU. He does have some questions as to if he can produce against NFL competition. The Jaguars have a decent crop of young receivers but could use some more help at the position after the loss of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Brown had a bad combine, which may hurt his stock a little, but his game tape is great and shows a mauler. He may not have the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL but could be a great right tackle. The Vikings’ offensive line is much better than last year, but can still be improved. With a good offense and defense, they can afford to make a good unit better.

31. New England Patriots- Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

With Malcolm Butler leaving, the Patriots need more help at corner. Hughes is a good cover corner, but has some off the field concerns.

32. Philadelphia Eagles- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

They just won the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback and have a very solid roster. This pick could depend a lot on the health status of left tackle Jason Peters. If he isn’t healthy they’ll need a tackle. Williams’ draft stock has been all over the place, going from early first round to third round back into the first round.

 

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Atlanta Falcons 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is under two weeks away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Atlanta Falcons 2018 NFL Draft profile.

Summary

Atlanta Falcons NFL Draft profile

Julio Jone (Photo by thefalcoholic.com)

After their Super Bowl appearance two seasons ago, the Falcons won 10 games last year. They were bounced out of the playoffs in the Divisional Round by the eventual champions, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Their defense stepped up last season, ranking eighth in points allowed per game. Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t get going like in previous years and they ranked 15th in point per game. The Falcons were able to move the ball decently but failed to reach the end zone on a lot of drives.

A lot of the blame has been placed on offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, as he failed to get wide receiver Julio Jones involved in the offense near the goal line. Jones finished the season with just three receiving touchdowns, which severely limited the Falcons’ offense.

Sarkisian and most players from the Falcons’ offense return for next season, so they will have to figure out how to get the most out of the talent on their roster. Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu and Austin Hooper are the playmakers on offense. Atlanta should be pretty set with that but may need some more depth at some of those positions heading into next season.

The offensive line was solid for Atlanta last season, but this might be a place where they try to use a draft pick for depth or to enhance one of their weaker positions.

On the defensive side of the ball, the unit was improved, but Adrian Clayborne left via free agency. Takkarist McKinley will be tasked with stepping up on the opposite side of the field of Vic Beasley Jr. Beasley only had five sacks in 14 games and will also need to improve for next season. Grady Jarrett is solid at the defensive tackle position, but more will be needed.

Their linebackers are young and talented, leaving little to be addressed at the position. The Falcons have made a concerted effort to improve their secondary through the draft the last couple of years and have built a good secondary, which allows the 13th fewest passing yards per game in the league.

Atlanta still has a solid roster and with a good draft, can put themselves right back in the Super Bowl next season.

Picks and Needs

The Falcons have seven picks in the draft. They traded their fifth-round pick to the Bills and received a compensatory pick in the seventh round to reach that number.

First Round (1 pick): 26

Second Round (1): 58

Third Round (1): 90

Fourth Round (1): 126

Fifth Round (0): 

Sixth Round (1): 200

Seventh Round (2): 244, 256

Offensive needs:

Wide receiver- Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu are a good start to a receiving core, but there isn’t much behind them. They can take a receiver in the middle rounds of the draft, who should be able to give them more depth at the position.

Offensive line depth- Brandon Fusco was signed to play guard, but a few more players to fill out the roster could be added in the draft.

Backup quarterback- Matt Ryan is here to stay, but if he goes down with an injury, the Falcons aren’t looking too great. Matt Schaub and Garrett Grayson are the other quarterbacks on the roster, but Atlanta could take a project quarterback to sit and learn behind Matt Ryan.

Defensive needs:

Defensive tackle- Jarrett is good, but after Dontari Poe left in free agency a replacement is needed. They gave up the ninth fewest rushing yards in the league last season and will want to keep that up.

Defensive end depth- Brooks Reed and McKinley will help fill the void left by Clayborne, but more pass rushers will be needed in to bolster their depth chart.  

Targets

Atlanta Falcons 2018 NFL Draft profile

Taven Bryan (Photo by draftblasters.com)

First round: 

Pick No. 26: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida 

The Falcons can likely get a replacement for Poe in round one. With a few talented defensive tackles in the class, one could fall to number 26. Bryan is athletic for a defensive tackle and can start from day one if needed. He is most known for stopping the run, but can also help out the pass rush, as he had four sacks last season for the Gators.

Second round: 

Pick No. 58: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

In order to find another viable option at the receiver position, the Falcons can select Anthony Miller. He has the versatility to play in the slot or on the outside and made tons of highlight reel catches in college. He does have inconsistent hands and isn’t the biggest, but he makes plays. With him, Sanu, Jones and Hooper on the field, the Falcons should be able to return to offensive prominence.

Third round:

Pick No. 90: Austin Corbett, G/C, Nevada

Atlanta will see how Fusco does at right guard but may want to have a backup plan in case things don’t go well. Corbett has drawn comparisons to the Browns’ Joel Bitonio because they both played at Nevada and will move from tackle to the inside of the line. If he can figure out the nuances of playing guard at the NFL level, he could take the job from Fusco.

Conclusion

There isn’t much separating this team from another shot at the Super Bowl. If Sarkisian calls the right plays, this team has the talent to do a lot of damage. If they can fill their few needs in the draft, they will be ready to roll for the start of the 2018 season.

 

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Thunder vs. Jazz series preview

The long NBA regular season is now over and the playoffs can begin. There are a lot of “super” teams that are coming together, some injuries and some contenders who are playing unusually poorly, which should create some competitive matchups. The Thunder and Jazz will meet in one of the more intriguing first-round series.

Utah Jazz

Thunder vs. Jazz series preview

Donovan Mitchell (Photo by slcdunk.com)

The Jazz finished the season with a 48-34 record, which secured them the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Utah has been able to win so many games thanks to their elite defense, which allows 99.8 points per game. They are currently nursing a few injuries between Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum, but they did play in the season finale against the Trail Blazers.

Rudy Gobert anchors the Jazz defense with 2.3 blocks per game. He makes it hard for any opponent to drive the lane and pulls down a lot of defensive rebounds when he is challenged with 10.7 rebounds per game. His offensive game isn’t as good as last year, but he still averages 13.5 points per game.

The big surprise for the Jazz this season has been the emergence of rookie Donovan Mitchell. He was selected with the 13th overall selection in the draft and has outdone all expectations, averaging 20.5 points per game. Mitchell will draw a lot of defensive focus and will have to up his game in his first ever playoff series.

Mitchell and Gobert are the leaders of the offense and defense, respectively. The Jazz have Ricky Rubio, Joe Ingles and Derrick Favors rounding out the starting five. Rubio is tasked with running the offense and has done a solid job at 5.3 assists per game from the point guard position. He also leads the team with 1.6 steals per game. Ingles, the three, also makes plays for his teammates, with 4.8 assists per game. He is also Utah’s ace shooter from deep at 44%. Favors is the power forward who brings experience and is second on the team in PER (player efficiency rating) at 18.8.

The bench has some solid players, like Jae Crowder, Dante Exum, Alec Burks, Jonas Jerebko and Royce O’Neale, but leaves some to be desired. They rank 21st in bench scoring in the NBA. Crowder leads the bench scoring with 11.8 points per game. If the Jazz want to win the series they need to rely mostly on their starters.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder vs. Jazz series preview

The OK3 (photo by thunderousintentions.com)

Oklahoma City also finished the season with a 48-34 record but got the fourth seed via tie-breakers. A lot was expected out of the NBA’s newest big three with Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony joining forces, but it took some time for the team to gel together.

Westbrook was just able to complete his second straight season averaging a triple-double, which has never been done in NBA history. He will always have critics who knock him for not being a great team player, but those critics can’t away how much he has done these past two years.

George has been a great two-way player for the Thunder this year, averaging 21.9 points and two steals per game. Anthony has struggled to find his role with his new team, but still averages 16.2 points per game. Steven Adams is underrated at the center position, who plays solid defense. Corey Brewer was brought in to help fill the void that was left when Andre Roberson was lost for the year. He is banged up but expects to play in game one to help round out the starting five. Brewer is a good defender and has shot 34.3 percent from three-point range since being acquired by the Thunder.

Raymond Felton, Patrick Patterson, Alex Abrines, Terrance Ferguson and Josh Huestis all play over 10 minutes a game from the bench. Felton plays the point when Westbrook needs a breather and helps steady the second unit. Patterson is a glue guy, who can match up with bigs while also shooting from deep at 38.3 percent. The three-point sharpshooter off the bench though is Alex Abrines at 38.0 percent. Ferguson and Huestis are still young and developing. They rank 28th in bench scoring, which means they will likely make sure that one star player is on the court at all times to help carry the scoring punch.

Analysis

The Thunder have taken three out of four games against the Jazz this season, but the teams haven’t played since December. The Jazz took the first game of the year between the two teams, but that was before Mitchell blew up and OKC’s big three had completely gelled together.

With both benches being below average, this series will be won by the starting lineups. The Thunder have the stars, but the Jazz have some balance and defense. The series could go either way, but the Thunder have the edge heading into the series.

Paul George was one of the best defenders in the league this season and can guard Donovan Mitchell to slow him down. If he can’t score as much as he usually does, the Jazz will struggle to find who can score consistently. Utah has a record of 17-18 when Mitchell doesn’t play or score twenty points. Their defense is good enough to make up for it on some occasions, but in the playoffs, they may not find much luck.

The Thunder are a streaky team who win several games in a row then lose several in a row. If the Jazz can take game one, a thing every team wants to do, they could get the Thunder to slide. Their best hopes lie in keeping Westbrook out of the paint. Gobert will have to be at his absolute finest protecting the rim and the perimeter defenders have to run Anthony and George off of the three-point line.

Prediction

With the Thunder taking the season series and the Jazz being led by a rookie, who needs to get used to playing playoff basketball, Oklahoma City will win the series. It may take a few games to seal the series, due to the tough Jazz defense, but they will win the series and advance to round two.

Thunder in six. 

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2018 NFL mock draft April 10

It’s just two and a half weeks until the NFL Draft. With the draft coming up at the end of the month, who will each team pick in the first round?

1. Cleveland Browns- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

The rumors now are that the Browns are going to select Josh Allen with the first overall pick. How long will this rumor last? Nobody knows. While Allen certainly has flaws in his decision-making and accuracy, he does have a strong arm and is athletic. He competed in all the drills at the combine and got some audible cheers when he displayed his arm strength. When general manager John Dorsey was with the Chiefs last year, he drafted a risky, strong-armed quarterback in Pat Mahomes and may take a similar risk this year, being that he has Tyrod Taylor behind center.

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

When one rumor starts, the other rumors will start. Now it looks like the Giants will select Darnold if he is still available. Darnold struggled this season with his decision-making which led to a lot of turnovers. He also has a flawed throwing motion. Although he went to the NFL Combine, he didn’t compete on the field and just interviewed with teams. Some have Darnold as their top quarterback, but his decision-making and ball security need to improve.

3. New York Jets- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The Jets traded up to three and guaranteed themselves a quarterback, but they don’t even know who they will get. In this scenario, they would take Josh Rosen. No major questions about Rosen arose from the NFL Draft Combine interviews, which is good news for him. Rosen had to carry UCLA and ended up having a successful season. He needed to have a good year to clear up any doubts about his shoulder injury he suffered during his sophomore season.

4. Cleveland Browns- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Yes, the Browns did just sign Carlos Hyde, but Barkley is still the best player in the class. With the trades for Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland is making a concerted effort to improve the offense and with Barkley, they would have a lot of options in 2018.

2018 NFL mock draft April 10

Quenton Nelson (Photo by onefootdown.com)

5. Denver Broncos- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Denver is in a prime position to get the fourth best quarterback in the class, Quenton Nelson or trade down to other teams seeking quarterbacks. If they stay at this pick and John Elway isn’t enamored with the remaining quarterbacks, he will select Nelson. 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. He has Hall of Fame potential.

6. Indianapolis Colts- Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, N.C. State

The Colts pulled off a fantastic trade and will likely still get their first target in the NFL Draft. They could even trade down again. Frank Reich will be looking forward to working with Andrew Luck. 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. He displayed a good combination of size and speed at the combine.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

He likely fits in best as a safety in the NFL, but can also play corner. Whichever he needs to play, he will excel at. His 4.47 40 yard dash time at the combine was right in line where he should have run. Tampa’s secondary needs to be upgraded immediately if they wish to compete in the NFC South.

8. Chicago Bears- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Chicago has signed Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel to bolster its wide receiver core. This means they may choose to address the secondary. The Ohio State product is a good cover corner, who isn’t afraid to get physical. He is a little slight and will need to put on some weight.

9. San Francisco 49ers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

Eric Reid is a free agent, which leaves Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt at safety. Neither has been overly consistent throughout their careers and the 49ers will likely feel the loss of Reid. He is athletic but doesn’t necessarily have a set position, which is turning some teams off. He ran a 4.48 at the combine and has great size for a defensive back, making him valuable.

10. Oakland Raiders- Vita Vea, DT/NT, Washington

Vea can play both defensive tackle and nose tackle, depending on the scheme a team runs, which is valuable. He has great size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds, which makes him disruptive. Vea did suffer a hamstring injury at the combine. Oakland needs to get someone on the interior of the defensive line to stop the run and take some of the blockers off of Khalil Mack.

11. Miami Dolphins- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith was the best linebacker in college football this year and does a little bit of everything well. He is especially fast, which is crucial for his coverage and tracking down of ball carriers. The Dolphins have Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso, but McMillan got injured before his impact could be seen. They will still need a third linebacker.

2018 NFL mock draft April 10

Baker Mayfield (Photo by fansided.com)

12. Buffalo Bills- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Bills are trying to move up again to get a quarterback but could be deciding between Mayfield and Lamar Jackson. Mayfield 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 enough to avoid pass rushers. His main calling card is his accuracy, which is the best in this draft class. He said as much in his interviews with the media at the NFL Combine.

13. Washington Redskins- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

Washington’s interior of the defensive line can be improved, as they allowed the most rushing yards per game in the NFL. Payne’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he often gets double teamed. He is very athletic for his size and even played some offense in certain situations for Nick Saban at Alabama.

14. Green Bay Packers- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Edmunds does just about everything on the football field well, as a good cover linebacker, rusher and run stopper. He is also big and athletic. The Packers need to make the defense better for when Aaron Rodgers gets the offense going again and he has alluded to it as much this offseason.

15. Arizona Cardinals- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Cardinals signed an injury-prone quarterback in Sam Bradford, and Mike Glennon, so they need to protect them. Orlando Brown had a rough combine, while Connor Williams has some questions about his length. McGlinchey might be the safest pick because even if he can’t be a great left tackle, he can move over to the right and be successful.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Ridley is the best route-runner in the class and only lacked production in college because of the system he played in and inconsistent quarterback play. The Ravens signed Michael Crabtree, but still need a lot of receiver help, which they can fill with this selection.

17. Los Angeles Chargers- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

The Chargers need safety and defensive tackle help, but could also use a linebacker. Evans is a quick, run stopping linebacker that can help out right away.

18. Seattle Seahawks- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson turned into an All-American corner at Iowa this season and has shown the ability to make acrobatic interceptions. With Richard Sherman gone, the Seahawks need a corner and can take Jackson if they feel he can fit in their zone-coverage scheme.

2018 NFL mock draft april 10

Taven Bryan (Photo by gridironnow.com)

19. Dallas Cowboys- Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

The Cowboys need interior defensive line depth could pick up Bryan here. He’s very athletic and can be a depth player until he develops into a starter.

20. Detroit Lions- Isaiah Wynn, OG/C, Georgia

Detroit needs to have a better run game in order to have a more balanced offense. Running back is a position they will likely address in this draft, but can start by improving the interior offensive line play. Wynn played well in the Senior Bowl and the College Football Playoff for Georgia. He played tackle in college and will move inside for the NFL.

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State

Cincinnati got Cordy Glenn with their trade down to this pick, but their offensive line is still very weak. Price has tons of experience at guard and center for Ohio State and will start right away.

22. Buffalo Bills- James Daniels, C, Iowa

When Eric Wood had to retire, the Bills lost a great player. They also traded Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati and need to upgrade their offensive line. Daniels has risen up draft boards lately and can immediately fill in for Wood. This pick may be traded if they move up higher to draft a quarterback.

23. New England Patriots- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

The Patriots just traded for this pick by giving the Rams Brandin Cooks. Having two first-round picks is an odd territory for New England to be in. They are reportedly interested in Rudolph and have brought him in for a visit. Brian Hoyer is the current backup, but the Patriots need another young quarterback after trading Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo.

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- Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

Davenport has the build of a great pass rusher and can rush from the outside linebacker position, but reports are the media like him more than NFL teams do. The Titans have Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan but can use a young pass rusher as well.

26. Atlanta Falcons- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn 

Atlanta needs another corner to pair with Desmond Trufant and should try to take one early. Davis is a lengthy corner that has experience covering some good receivers in the SEC.

2018 NFL mock draft April 10

Lamar Jackson (Photo by dawgsbynature.com)

27. New Orleans Saints- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Six quarterbacks going in the first round is looking like more of a likelihood. The Saints signed Tom Savage, but that’s not going to solve their issue after Brees retires. Taysom Hill is a backup they reportedly love, but he wasn’t highly thought of out of BYU. Jackson will likely go higher than this with a team trading up for him.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Vander Esch is another player that has been moving up draft boards. With Ryan Shazier not playing next year, the Steelers signed Jon Bostic. Him and Vince Williams will start, but that leaves a lot to be desired.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Sutton is a great outside receiver, who produced a lot at SMU. He does have some questions as to if he can produce against NFL competition. The Jaguars have a decent crop of young receivers but could use some more help at the position after the loss of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Brown had a bad combine, which may hurt his stock a little, but his game tape is great and shows a mauler. He may not have the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL but could be a great right tackle. The Vikings’ offensive line is much better than last year, but can still be improved. With a good offense and defense, they can afford to make a good unit better.

31. New England Patriots- Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

With Malcolm Butler leaving, the Patriots need more help at corner. Jackson is a fast corner who is good in man to man coverage.

32. Philadelphia Eagles- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

They just won the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback and have a very solid roster. This pick could depend a lot on the health status of left tackle Jason Peters. If he isn’t healthy they’ll need a tackle. Williams’ draft stock has been all over the place, going from early first round to third round back into the first round.

 

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