2017 NFL Draft Day 3

2017 NFL Draft Day 3: Future Stars

The first two days and three rounds of the NFL draft have finished. The third day of the draft is rounds four through seven. These players drafted on day three sometimes do not even make the roster. So what players remaining, after day two, have a chance to become stars in the NFL? Here are some who may answer that question.

Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss

2017 NFL Draft Day 3

(Photo Credit: Chuck Cook, USA TODAY Sports)

Chad Kelly is flying high under the radar. Kelly is the nephew of Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly. Chad Kelly had a pretty solid career while at Ole Miss. Going 14-8 as a starter and even notched a win against Alabama. Kelly threw for 6,858 yards, 50 touchdowns, and just 21 interceptions. He also added 958 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground in his career.

Kelly had a lot of problems off the field that have derailed his career. He was kicked off the team at Clemson for actions against the coaching staff. Once he left Clemson he landed at East Mississippi Community College, more commonly known as Last Chance U. There Kelly led EMCC to a 12-0 season and an NJCAA National Football Championship.

If Kelly has learned from his past mistakes and can be a model citizen off the field then there is a chance he can become a star in the NFL. He has great arm strength and can make NFL throws. Kelly has played primarily in the shotgun and will need to work on his under center mechanics. Also he has great touch passing skills and is much better when moving outside the pocket and throwing. If a team takes a risk in the sixth or seventh round there is a good chance Kelly becomes an NFL starter one day.

Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma

Dede Westbrook was one of the top five receivers in all of college football last season. Some would argue he was the best. Last season he had 80 receptions, 1,524 yards, and 17 touchdowns. Westbrook is an excellent route runner with big play capability. In the open field, Westbrook is explosive and turns a lot of good plays into big plays. Some say his size is an issue but make no mistake, Westbrook could be a scary playmaker in the NFL.

 

Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego St.

Donnel Pumphrey is only still available because of his size, 5-foot-8 and 176 pounds.. The Las Vegas product is the all-time leading rusher in NCAA history. NFL tacklers will be able to arm tackling him but that is only if they can catch him. He is so quick and fast that when he sees a hole he hits it without a second thought.  Pumphrey may not become an every-down back in the NFL but he can create momentum-changing plays. One NFL team will be very happy one day because of the risk they took on him.

 

Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU

Malachi Dupre has fallen mostly because LSU has not had a quarterback capable of helping any receiver. LSU has had some of the worst quarterback play in the country which is why Dupre only put up 98 receptions, 1,609 yards, and 14 touchdowns in his three years at LSU. If you throw the ball in Dupre’s direction there is a good chance he will catch it. He has one of the best catch radii of all the prospects. He will have to work on his route running but with a solid quarterback Dupre could break out as the next great LSU wideout to turn pro.

Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina

2017 NFL Draft Day 3

(Photo Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OC3Yp4T7KI)

Ryan Switzer may be the most underrated, underappreciated player in this draft. Similar to Dede Westbrook and Donnel Pumphrey, size is the only reason for that. In his senior season at North Carolina, Switzer snagged 96 receptions for 1,112 yards, and six touchdowns. He has also proven to be a great return man who returned seven punts for touchdowns in his collegiate career. Switzer can be a Wes Welker or Julian Edelman type playmaker in the NFL and that is a reason teams should draft him as soon as possible.

Connor Harris, LB, Lindenwood

Connor Harris could have been a first round pick. He has it all, the size, the speed, and the intangibles. Teams seem to be holding it against him that he played in division II but Harris is a tackling machine. Harris holds the record at 633 career tackles. He has the ability to drop in coverage and has shown impressive ball-hawking skills as well. Any team that drafts him is getting a player who doesn’t have to come off the field and is a prototypical, old-school linebacker.

Jake Butt, TE, Michigan

Jake Butt is the victim of a bad injury at the worst time. Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffery got a lot of heat for skipping their bowl games but had Jake Butt done the same then he wouldn’t have torn his ACL for the second time in his career. Butt would have been a second round pick without the injury but now teams are scared. He averaged 11.9 yards per reception for his career and is a guaranteed first down waiting to happen. Every team in the NFL needs a tight end that can get them out of a jam like that. If Butt can become healthy and get a shot, he has a great chance of being a top 10 tight end in the league.

 

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2017 NFL Draft Grades

The first round of the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books and it is now time to see how the teams fared.

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills: B

They traded down with the Chiefs and acquired future picks, while still getting a great cover corner in Tre’Davious White out of LSU. This will help them cope with the loss of Stephon Gilmore.

Miami Dolphins: B

The Dolphins needed to get a younger edge rusher and luckily pass rushers fell in this draft class. Charles Harris is a good pass rusher that needs to develop into a good run stopper.

New England Patriots: A

Brandin Cooks was acquired in a deal that sent pick number 32 to the Saints. Cooks will make the Patriot’s offense more dynamic. New England also got very good value in the trade.

New York Jets: A+

Jamal Adams (Photo courtesy: nj.com)

The Jets loved the safeties in this class and they got Jamal Adams. Adams is a safer pick and should have a great and long NFL career. Safety wasn’t the biggest need, but they got great value in Adams.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens: C

Baltimore got decent value in Marlon Humphrey, but could have addressed different needs. All three tackles with first round grades were still available. Humphrey can improve and will have to to cover Antonio Brown and A.J. Green in the division.

Cincinnati Bengals: F

John Ross is the fastest player in the class, but the Bengals reached on him. Cincinnati could have gotten him later in the round if they had traded down. They also had other needs that could have been addressed at nine. Ross can develop into a good NFL player, but also has injury issues to deal with.

Cleveland Browns: A-

The Browns did not screw this up and in fact had a good draft. They took Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, who should be a good pass rusher for years to come. Cleveland traded the number 12 pick to the Texans and acquired more Picks. With the pick they got from Houston, they selected safety Jabrill Peppers, which fills a huge need. After this, they traded into the first round and took tight end David Njoku, who should be a great receiving threat next season.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B

Pittsburgh needed to get pass rushing help, as James Harrison led the team in sacks last year and is aging. Watt was taken a little bit high for his value, but can develop into a good player with time.

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans: D

The Texans traded all the way up to 12 to get Deshaun Watson. Had they stayed at their pick and gotten him, it would have been a great pick, as it fills a great need. Watson has accuracy and arm strength issues, but does have good intangibles. He will need the offense to help out a lot around him.

Indianapolis Colts: A+

Malik Hooker somehow fell all the way to number 14. The Colts needed to improve the defense, even though this didn’t fill a huge need. Hooker has some concerns with injuries, but is a great middle of the field safety.

Jacksonville Jaguars: A

Leonard Fournette (Photo courtesy: nola.com)

The Jaguars don’t have a great running back on the roster and now has a once in a lifetime running back. Leonard Fournette will give the Jaguars a good running game and allow them to evaluate Blake Bortles after the season.  With the defense addressed in free agency, Jacksonville should be able to compete for the division.

Tennessee Titans: B-

Tennessee got good players, but they reached on both picks in the first round of draft.  Corey Davis and Adoree’ Jackson will both be players capable of starting for the Titans for years, but they could have gotten them later. They both however fill big needs at wide receiver and corner.

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos: B

Denver filled their biggest need by selecting tackle Garett Bolles. With the top three tackles on the board, the Broncos elected to go with the most athletic of the three in Bolles. He will be a good pass blocker form day one.

Kansas City Chiefs: C-

It was a very risky move to trade up in the draft and get quarterback Pat Mahommes at pick 10. He has great arm strength and good accuracy, but is a gunslinger who throws a lot of interceptions. The transition from Alex Smith to Mahommes should be a fun one to watch.

Los Angeles Chargers: B

Wide receiver was a need and Mike Williams is a stud. He will provide great value if Keenan Allen gets injured again, or playing along side him. Williams is a great red zone target who will be productive in his first year. Phillip Rivers did a great job with little talent at receiver last year and should be overjoyed heading into next season.

Oakland Raiders: C-

Gareon Conley is a great corner who had value being taken at number 24 overall. The problem is that he was accused of rape on April 9. If he comes back clean this is a steal of a pick, but if it doesn’t he could be suspended or worse.

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys: B

Taco Charlton wasn’t supposed to fall to the Cowboys, but he now gets to play for Dallas. They needed more edge rushers and Charlton has the size that can be molded into a dominant force.

New York Giants: C

Tight End was a need, but they should have addressed the tackle position with so many on the board. Engram is a fast tight end, who is more of a glorified wide receiver. He will be a good weapon for the Giants, but only if Manning has the time to deliver the ball to him.

Philadelphia Eagles: B-

Derek Barnett presented good value, but they don’t have many good corners. The Eagles will give up  a lot of yards through the air if the pass rush doesn’t get to the quarterback in time. Running back was also a good option with Dalvin Cook on the board.

Washington Redskins: A+

Jonathan Allen (Photo courtesy: washingtonpost.com)

Washington had Jonathan Allen fall all the way to pick number 17 and rushed to the podium to get him. Allen is a top five player in the class, who will have an immediate impact.

NFC North

Chicago Bears: F

The Bears traded up one pick, to get a quarterback that they likely could’ve gotten at their original pick, number 3. Mitch Trubisky is the best quarterback in this class, but none of them warranted a pick at number two overall. This grade also takes into account the big deal that the Bears gave Mike Glennon.

Detroit Lions: B-

Jarrad Davis was selected and he is a good linebacker and should’ve been drafted in that range. The problem is that the best linebacker in the class, Reuben Foster was still on the board.

Green Bay Packers: A

The Packers traded out of the first round with the Browns to get the first selection in the second round. None of the players the Packers were likely targeting were selected in the picks after the trade.

Minnesota Vikings: C-

Sam Bradford was acquired with the Vikings first round selection in this draft class. Bradford did set a record for completion percentage in a season, but overall Minnesota’s offense sputtered.

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons: B

Atlanta traded up to get Takkarist McKinley. He has the best motor of anybody in the entire class, although he is a bit undersized. He will be a good speed rusher across from Vic Beasley.

Carolina Panthers: A

Christian McCaffrey is a very versatile player that will get touches as a running back, wide receiver and return man. Drafting McCaffrey will allow Cam Newton to take less hits and create an interesting dynamic with Jonathan Stewart still in the backfield.

New Orleans Saints: C+

The Saints had a good pick at number 11 in the first round when they selected Marshon Lattimore. They likely didn’t think he would fall to them, but got great value. Lattimore fits what New Orleans needs, which is a lot of defensive help. After this they went on to select Ryan Ramczyk with the last pick in the first round. He does provide value, but the Saints already have too many tackles on their roster.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A-

Tampa Bay didn’t absolutely need a tight end, but O.J. Howard was a great value pick at number 19. He is going to make their offense fun to watch and should help the development of Jameis Winston.

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals: C-

The Cardinals reached for Haason Reddick. He is a converted edge rusher now trying to play linebacker in the pros. At the very least he is a guy they will need to develop. Reddick could have been selected a little later in the round.

Los Angeles Rams: D+ 

Jared Goff was acquired as part of a deal that sent the Rams’ first round pick this year. While Goff hasn’t played the greatest yet, he still has potential and a new coaching staff can get some good things out of him.

San Francisco 49ers: A+ 

Solomon Thomas (Photo courtesy: oregonlive.com)

San Francisco started off the draft by trading the number two pick to the Bears and likely got the player they wanted all along in Solomon Thomas. Thomas should be able to help immediately. They then traded back up into the first round and selected Reubuen Foster, who is the best linebacker in the class.

Seattle Seahawks: ??

The Seahawks traded out of the first round with the 49ers. They only moved down a few spots and can likely still get the offense line help they need. More will be learned about their grade once they actually make their selections.

 

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Calm Yourself Cleveland: Why the Browns Draft Strategy Makes Sense

Less than 24 hours in, national media outlets and local Cleveland Browns fans alike have condemned the Cleveland Browns draft strategy as an abject failure. All in response to the Browns decision to trade back from 12 with the Texans.

The result of the trade netted Houston their quarterback after promptly snagging Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. The Browns secured pick 25, which turned into Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, and a future first rounder.

Cleveland Browns Draft Strategy

Photo: Brandon Wade, AP

Now I can understand the national media’s annual witch hunt. If they aren’t clubbing Cleveland over the head, who else would they direct that pent-up aggression at? But Cleveland fans are better than this.

Now I understand the arguments, the anger, and some of it is completely justified. “It’s been years”. “You need players not picks”. “What good are picks if you can’t identify talent”. “At this rate, me and everyone I know will be dead by the time we win anything” etc, etc.

But let’s take a step back here and talk about why this is all going to work out in the long run.

“This front office can’t identify talent”

Really? We’re one year in. I understand several “regimes” have floated through Cleveland the last few years. That said, Sashi Brown and Co. have only had their finger on the trigger for one complete draft thus far. That same draft where they amassed an insane amount of capital for the future.

Granted, the jury’s still out on Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah and Cody Kessler. Writing off an entire draft class, based on one rookie season with little talent around them is premature at best.

Cleveland Browns Draft Strategy

Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown addresses the media during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

How are we doing so far in 2017? Consensus top overall player in the draft. Fills a need.

Versatile safety, who can play multiple positions, on a team that needs athletes at multiple positions. Fills a need.

Sashi utilizing that “future capital” to move up and acquire the second ranked tight end in the draft. Fills a need.

Obviously, as with any pick, it remains to be seen how these decisions play out. What you absolutely can’t say is the Browns didn’t acquire starting caliber talent in round one.

“Players not picks”

“Picks are just a promise of something in the future, not guarantees.” If you’re searching for guarantees in the National Football League, keep searching. Guess what a good strategy is to hedge against one player being a bust, having another player.

“This team has holes everywhere.” Agreed, how would you like to fill those holes? I understand the Hue Jackson’s award winning smile helped the Browns net Jamie Collins, but free agents aren’t exactly breaking down the door to come to Cleveland. I know you want to fill all the holes now, or a decade ago, but you can’t have that.

Embrace the realization that the only way to plug this many holes is with a lot of picks. Collecting a lot of picks takes a lot of time. Sashi has done a fantastic job of amassing a lot of picks in a “relatively” short period.

I know it’s relative for us because we’ve been waiting near two decades for this, but we must hold on. Pink Floyd once said “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding, and you can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat.” In this terrible analogy, getting picks is the meat, and getting wins is the pudding.

“You need a quarterback to win”

I’m so sick of this *insert expletive here*

Here you go, here are some quarterbacks…

2016     Robert Griffin III (5) / Josh McCown (3) / Cody Kessler (8)

2015     Josh McCown (8) / Johnny Manziel (6) / Austin Davis (2)

2014     Brian Hoyer (13) / Johnny Manziel (2) / Connor Shaw (1)

2013     Jason Campbell (8) / Brandon Weeden (5) / Brian Hoyer (3)

2012     Brandon Weeden (15) / Thad Lewis (1)

2011     Colt McCoy (13) / Seneca Wallace (3)

2010     Colt McCoy (8) / Jake Delhomme (4) / Seneca Wallace (4)

2009     Brady Quinn (9) / Derek Anderson (7)

2008     Derek Anderson (9) / Brady Quinn (3) / Ken Dorsey (3) / Bruce Gradkowski (1)

2007     Derek Anderson (15) / Charlie Frye (1)

2006     Charlie Frye (13) / Derek Anderson (3)

2005     Trent Dilfer (11) / Charlie Frye (5)

2004     Jeff Garcia (10) / Kelly Holcomb (2) / Luke McCown (4)

2003     Kelly Holcomb (8) / Tim Couch (8)

2002     Tim Couch (14) / Kelly Holcomb (2)

2001     Tim Couch (16)

2000     Doug Pederson (8) / Tim Couch (7) / Spergon Wynn (1)

1999     Tim Couch (14) / Ty Detmer (2)

 

Cleveland Browns Draft Strategy

Cody Kessler (AP Photo/David Richard)

Of the quarterbacks drafted in round one this year, how many are franchise guys? Of course, no one knows. What we do know is that in nearly every draft one to four quarterbacks are taken in the first round.

What we also know is that a small percentage of those end up being franchise guys. Of those franchise guys, a small percentage of them end up being in the top tier or even top 15.

The point here is that all teams, not just the Browns, are constantly reaching for quarterbacks. The mantra around the league is do what it takes to get your guy. Given the high failure rate for the position, if a team doesn’t feel like the guy is there, how can you fault them for not going that route.

Ultimately, do you need a quarterback to win? Yes. Should the Browns waste draft picks, on players they evaluate as mid-tier, during years they aren’t going to compete? No.

This is not a re-tool or re-load, it’s a re-build. It’s a completely unfair ask of Browns fans at this point but additional patience is required here. Even if you’re not sold on the names in the front office, at least there’s a strategy in place. It’s clear, it’s long term, and if they stick with it we may just see some winning football a few years down the line.

Stay strong fellow Browns fans!

 

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NFL Draft Profile: Nick Holshoe

Former Concordia safety and current NFL draft prospect Nick Holshoe loves football and loves to hit. It is something NFL scouts have taken note on.

Holshoe was working out at the College Gridiron Showcase in Texas when he was approached by a scout from the San Francisco 49ers who asked him two questions.

“The first thing he asked me was if I love football,” Holshoe said. “I said yes sir. And he asked if I love to hit. I told him yeah I love to. He said those are two notes I have on you after watching you practice today.”

Nick Holshoe

Photo Courtesy of Mlive.com

Holshoe said his biggest attribute is passion for the game. It is something he has enjoyed watching at the professional level growing up in players like John Lynch, Ray Lewis and Brian Dawkins. Holshoe said he admired their blue-collar work ethic they brought to the field.

“That’s what I think I bring to the table,” Holshoe said. “They just had so much passion for the game. I loved people that liked to hit and that is one of my favorite things to do.”

Holshoe finished his career at Concordia with 381 career tackles, which ranks second in school history. He also is the school’s all-time leader in interceptions with 14. In his senior year he finished with 88 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Holshoe also finished 11th in the country in punt return yards.

Holshoe said along with being a hard hitter, he would also consider himself a ball hawk. He said it comes from when he used to play offense.

“I just love having the ball in my hand and making plays. I like to come down with the ball rather than the receiver.”

Holshoe has been working out with Concordia head strength coach David Lawrence, who is also the head strength and conditioning coach at Michigan Elite Conditioning for Athletes. Lawrence is considered one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the world and has worked with guys like former NFL No. 1 pick Eric Fisher, Frank Zombo and Brandon Pettigrew.

Holshoe hopes he won’t be walking the stage at graduation because it means he will be at rookie camp. The exercise science major hopes to take his football career as far as possible and then plans to open a gym in Tampa Bay, Florida. Holshoe believes his work ethic and love for football are some of the biggest traits he can offer an NFL team.

“My biggest attributes would be passion for the game and my relentless pursuit to perfection,” Holshoe said. “I can offer 100 percent commitment and my total hustle and pursuit to the ball.”

Nick Holshoe Scouting Report

Nick Holshoe has adequate size at 5’11” and 198 pounds. He has a lot of experience at Concordia racking up 381 tackles and 14 interceptions.

From the snap, Holshoe diagnoses the play well and then does his assignment. In running plays he runs downhill towards the ball carrier and makes a sure tackle. In passing plays he tracks his man if he is in man coverage or starts reading the quarterback’s eyes if he is in zone coverage.

He is great at zone coverage because he reads the quarterback’s eyes so well. He plays the deep zone most of the time and uses his good speed to cover a big portion of the field.

Holshoe has good experience playing special teams in college, which should help him out with his quest to make an NFL roster. His speed and tackling ability make him a perfect fit for punt and kick coverage. With his ability he should be able to make it on the field as a special team player early in his career.

In order to make it on the field as a safety, Holshoe will have to prove that he can cover NFL level receivers in man to man coverage and track them down if he is in zone.

 

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2017 NFL Mock Draft April 27

The NFL Draft is hours away and more information is coming out about these prospects. This NFL Mock Draft will have no trades.

ROUND ONE

1. Cleveland Browns- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

The Browns need to take the best player available, instead of reaching for a quarterback. Garrett is the premier pass-rushing prospect. He has a solid jump off of the ball and then uses his athleticism and speed to get to the quarterback. Garrett is great at containing opposing quarterbacks in the pocket. He is good against the run and even makes teams run to the other side of the field like Alabama did against him. His good gap integrity on running plays will help him transition to playing against NFL offenses. He had a good NFL Combine, so the Browns should feel very comfortable picking Garrett.

2. San Francisco 49ers- Solomon Thomas, DE/DT, Stanford

There is a new regime in San Francisco, but all visible signs show them not taking a quarterback with the number two pick. That may change, or maybe they are protecting their real thoughts. Jonathan Allen is a premier talent, but may not be the greatest fit as they have drafted two different five-technique defensive linemen the last two years. Whether John Lynch wants to keep these guys or draft his own people remains up in the air. As the team currently sits Solomon Thomas is the best fit. They need pass rushing help and Thomas is a well rounded defensive end, who is as good at stopping the run as he is rushing the passer. He’s very quick at the snap of the ball. His best quality is his versatility. He can play almost any position on the defensive line and be successful.

3. Chicago Bears- Jonathan Allen, DE/DT, Alabama

If Allen falls to three and the Bears aren’t worried about his shoulder injuries, they will run to the podium to pick Allen. He is a good fit in their 3-4 defense and can start from day one. Allen could not be blocked with one blocker consistently and continuously disrupted plays. He doesn’t always have the best gap integrity, but does have great play recognition skills.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Fournette can do everything required as a running back and can handle a heavy dose of carries. He played this last season with a lingering ankle injury and still averaged 6.5 yards per carry. His combination of speed, size and vision makes him an elite running back prospect. The Jaguars have other needs, but Fournette is too good to pass up. Jacksonville will likely give Blake Bortles one more season to figure things out, and a good running game will help his chances. The Jaguars flirted with signing free agent running backs, but elected not to, which may show where they are leaning with this pick.

5. Tennessee Titans- Marson Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Titans cut Jason McCourty, which may signal where they are going with this pick. Lattimore is a shut-down corner, who has good ball skills. Even though Ohio State got blown out by Clemson, he only gave up one catch and it was to Mike Williams on a screen pass. Lattimore is decent in run support too.

6. New York Jets- Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC

The Jets don’t have a quarterback worthy of starting for the long haul currently on their roster. Josh McCown is capable of bridging the gap between now and a franchise quarterback being ready. Trubisky only has one year of starting experience, which is concerning, but he is very accurate. He also rarely makes bad decisions, which is a rarity for quarterbacks in this draft class. On top of all that, Trubisky is an athlete that has above average speed and can throw well while on the move.

7. Los Angeles Chargers- Jamal Adams, SS, LSU

The Chargers needs secondary help and luckily, this class is loaded with it. Adams is a hard-hitter, who helps in run support. He has shown the capability to guard elite college level tight ends like Evan Engram, which will help him a lot at the NFL level.

8. Carolina Panthers- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Ron Rivera has commented on taking a running back early and McCaffrey is rising up draft boards. McCaffrey is a big play guy who can run in between the tackles. He is also good at receiving out of the backfield, which should help Cam Newton.

9. Cincinnati Bengals- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Cincinnati takes the best player available and that could be Mike Williams. He can be a great number two receiver to A.J. Green and the Bengals can keep Tyler Boyd in the slot. In the National Championship Game, Mike Williams was the difference maker for Clemson. Williams is the best red zone threat in college football from the wide receiver position. He is tall and lanky, but athletic enough to make great catches.

10. Buffalo Bills- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

The Bills desperately need safety help and would be overjoyed if Hooker fell to them. He would be an immediate upgrade for their lackluster secondary. Hooker has the best range of any safety in the class. He is a ball-hawk, who isn’t afraid to come up and help in the run.

11. New Orleans Saints- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

New Orleans needs defensive help badly. They can start by getting a pass rusher across from Cameron Jordan. Barnett is one of the best pass rushers in the class, but does not do much against the run. He uses his speed to get around the tackle blocking him, but rarely uses pass rushing moves to get to the quarterback.

12. Cleveland Browns- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

The Browns are likely going to take a signal caller with this pick if they don’t take one with the first pick overall. Watson doesn’t have great accuracy and consistently relied on receivers to make plays for him. The most alarming thing about Watson is his decision making, as he makes throws that have no chance of being completed. His arm strength has also been called into question by only throwing 49 mph at the combine. The accepted low for an NFL quarterback is 55 mph. (Dak Prescott threw 54 mph last combine, but had a hurt shoulder) Watson has shown flashes of greatness, particularly against Alabama, but needs to be more consistent. One thing is for sure, Watson steps up in the clutch.

13. Arizona Cardinals- Pat Mahommes, QB, Texas Tech

Mahommes has the chance to prove that system quarterbacks can make it in the NFL if they have talent. His arm strength is second to none in this class. He is a gunslinger that loves extending plays and showing off his arm. The Cardinals will likely want to get a future quarterback behind Carson Palmer and with a year or two to learn, Mahommes can develop in to a great quarterback.

14. Philadelphia Eagles- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

The Eagles need corner help badly. They will likely have to take Humphrey even though he was most likely behind Sidey Jones (achilles) and Gareon Conley (rape accusations) on their board. Humphrey guarded Mike Williams well in the National Championship game, but Williams made some crazy catches through the good coverage. Humphrey is a good man to man corner, who can get confused while playing zone.

15. Indianapolis Colts- Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Foster was the best player for Alabama in the National Championship Game. He was all over the field and showed great closing speed on ball carriers. In addition to that, he was a very effective when blitzing, knocking down Deshaun Watson plenty of times. He is also good in coverage, which doesn’t leave many holes in his game. The Colts have a lot of defensive holes to plug and Foster is the best defensive player available. He has some character issues, but is a top ten talent in this class.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

The Ravens need to protect Joe Flacco and can take tackles in two consecutive years. Many scouts question whether Robinson can be a left tackle in the NFL and if he can’t he can play right tackle or guard for the Ravens. Robinson did a solid job pass blocking Myles Garrett in their match-up.

17. Washington Redskins- Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC

Washington has had multiple visits with Jackson and they could use a corner to go alongside Josh Norman. Jackson has all of the capabilities necessary to be a lock-down corner for many years in the NFL. He can play both sides of the ball and also help in the return game. His ability to play both ways and to bait quarterbacks into throwing passes, just so he can intercept them, shows his likeness to Deion Sanders.

18. Tennessee Titans- Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Marcus Mariota needs a number one target to throw to. Davis is a premier talent at wide receiver. He is big, at 6 feet 3 inches, but his skills match that of a smaller receiver, making him a unique prospect. Davis knows where to go on broken plays and fights for the football with resiliency.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

A lot of people think that Tampa Bay will go running back here, but if Howard were to fall, he would be the selection. Howard is a great receiving tight end, who didn’t get the chance to produce much at Alabama due to play-calling and quarterback issues. He can be another good target to help Jameis Winston.

20. Denver Broncos- Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Before the Broncos give up on Trevor Siemian they need to protect him to give him a fair shot. Bolles uses his mobility to his advantage by stopping speed rushers who try to pass him by. He may need to add some strength to be successful in the NFL.

21. Detroit Lions- Taco Charlton, DE/DT, Michigan

Someone other than Ziggy Ansah has to be able to rush the passer. Charlton has great size at 6’6″ tall and can get to the quarterback with 10 sacks last season.

22. Miami Dolphins- Forrest Lamp, OT/G, Western Kentucky

Lamp played tackle in college, but will likely be kicked inside in the NFL. He is currently considered by most the best interior line prospect in the class. Miami is moving Laremy Tunsil out to left tackle after trading Brandon Albert to the Jaguars and will need some help on the interior.

23. New York Giants- David Njoku, TE, Miami

Njoku is a fast tight end who should be a good receiving threat in the NFL. He may be able to develop into a good blocker as well. The Giants have solidified their offense by signing Brandon Marshall, but could use a decent tight end threat over the middle.

24. Oakland Raiders- Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

The Raiders need help at inside linebacker and Reddick is changing positions to become one. He was an edge rusher in college, but has looked good in the events leading up to the draft at inside linebacker. Oakland will need to work with Reddick, but if they see his potential, they may elect to try and develop him into a good pro.

25. Houston Texans- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

Tom Savage will get his shot to start, but the Texans need a long term answer at quarterback. Because they are picking so late in the round, they may have to trade up to get one. Kizer has moved up and down draft boards constantly, which makes him a wild card. Kizer has the size and arm strength to be a franchise quarterback. He has some issues with being consistent with the accuracy of his passes, but for the most part is decent. If he wants to be successful he should work on putting passes in areas for wide receivers to run after the catch. His mobility is good enough to get him out of jams.

26. Seattle Seahawks- Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

Seattle’s offensive line problems have been well documented. Any lineman prospect near this range should be considered. Ramczyk is a solid left tackle, who is a good run and pass blocker. He did a pretty good job blocking Taco Charlton when the Badgers played the Wolverines. He doesn’t have good mobility and athleticism and can be beat by fast rushers and blitzers.

27. Kansas City Chiefs- John Ross, WR, Washington

Kansas City doesn’t have too many needs, but could be better with another offensive weapon. They do have Jeremy Maclin and Tyreek Hill, but could become more explosive with another guy who can burn a defense. A lot of people are overvaluing Ross because of his 40 time at the NFL Combine. The hope for him is that NFL teams also overvalue him. His speed is apparent and helps him be productive in the return game.

28. Dallas Cowboys- Jabrill Peppers, S/CB/LB, Michigan

The Cowboys lost Barry Church to the Jaguars in free agency. They will need a safety to go alongside Byron Jones. Peppers can be successful at any position in the back seven of the defense, but will be the safety that Dallas needs. Peppers’ downside his his ball skills. He has all the fundamentals down, but had only one career interception in college. He does have a diluted sample on his drug test at the combine, but the Cowboys usually aren’t worried about those things.

29. Green Bay Packers- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Mike McCarthy likes Ty Montgomery at running back, but Cook might present too much value to pass up. Cook is an elusive, speed back who is hard to catch. He is a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield. There are some concerns with the amount of injuries he has had and off the field issues, but when healthy Cook is an elite running back prospect.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers- Obi Melifonwu, S/CB, Connecticut

The Steelers need to draft more secondary help and Melifonwu has been rising up draft boards with his outstanding combine. Melifonwu played safety, but could also play some corner in the NFL. At 6’4″ with a 4.4 40 yard dash time, the Steelers can get a star at the end of the first round.

31. Atlanta Falcons- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

Harris is a good pass rusher, who is also solid against the run. He doesn’t have great length for a edge rusher, but does have good strength. The Falcons had Vic Beasley last season, but need to get more pass rushers around him to have a better defense.

32. New Orleans Saints- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

New Orleans needs to improve every level of their defense. White is a good team leader, who is very athletic. He doesn’t have the best size for a corner, but can cover with the best of them. His added value comes in the return game, where he did a solid job for LSU. The bottom line is that White can cover.

ROUND 2

33. Cleveland Browns- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

Cunningham is tall and lanky, but makes plays. He is a tackle machine that can vastly improve the Cleveland run defense. The outside linebackers for the Browns are solid, but Demario Davis isn’t.

34. San Francisco 49ers- Kevin King, CB, Washington

The 49ers don’t have a good corner on their roster. King has elite height at 6’3″ for the position and ran a blazing 4.43 40 yard dash at the combine. He will need to add some muscle to his frame to be able to jam receivers and shed blocks.

35. Jacksonville Jaguars- Takkarist McKinley, DE/OLB, UCLA

McKinley has one of the best motors in the class for a pass rusher. The Jags need to get another defensive end in case Fowler and Ngakoue don’t improve his season.

36. Chicago Bears- Zay Jones, WR, ECU

The Bears lost Alshon Jeffrey to free agency and now have to get someone for Mike Glennon to throw the ball too. Zay Jones may be overlooked because of the wide receiver prospects ahead of him, but he is a talented receiver himself, who set the FBS career record for receptions.

37. Los Angeles Rams- Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss

If the Rams want Jared Goff to continue to develop, they have to get him some weapons. Engram is one of the best receiving tight ends in this draft class, but needs to block better.

38. Los Angeles Chargers- Dan Feeney, G, Indiana

Protecting Phillip Rivers has to be a top priority. Feeney could have gone higher in this year’s draft, but dealt with injury issues last year.

39. New York Jets- Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

The Jets already addressed the quarterback position in round one and now can try to improve the secondary. Wilson is a tall corner, who has good speed. He is a good man to man cover corner, but is susceptible to pass interference calls. He doesn’t offer much in terms of run support and sometimes looks as if he doesn’t want to tackle anybody. The Jets can use another corner or two, as Morris Claiborne will likely get injured at some point this season.

40. Carolina Panthers- Demarcus Walker, DE, Florida State

Walker is good at rushing the passer and disrupts passes by sticking his hands up into the passing lane. Carolina needs to get a young pass rusher.

41. Cincinnati Bengals- Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova

When Cincinnati was at their best, they rushed the passer well. Kpassagnon fits the mold of a big defensive end that they like and could be a player to develop for the future.

42. New Orleans- JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC

Smith-Schuster is creating a lot of buzz lately and has moved up into the second round. The Saints can add a receiver with one of their many early picks and try to replace Brandin Cooks.

43. Philadelphia Eagles- Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

With taking a CB in the first round, the Eagles can now get a dynamic offensive weapon. Darren Sproles is getting older and Ryan Matthews is often hurt. Kamara will be a great target for Carson Wentz out of the backfield.

44. Buffalo Bills- Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech

Hodges has a great combination of size and speed, but doesn’t run great routes or block well. He can be a valuable target for Tyrod Taylor and can even split out wide for the Bills.

45. Arizona Cardinals- Malik McDowell, DE/DT, Michigan State

McDowell has a lot of talent, but doesn’t have a great motor and gets discouraged when his team is losing. The Cardinals will hope they can get him to play hard every down. Arizona needs to get better defensive ends for their 3-4 scheme.

46. Indianapolis Colts- Chris Wormley, DE/DT, Michigan

Foster is a good add for the first round, but the Colts need to upgrade a lot of positions in this draft. Wormley can play defensive end and help with the pass rush.

47. Baltimore Ravens- T.J. Watt, DE/OLB, Wisconsin

Baltimore only had 31 sacks as a team last season. Watt may not be as good as his brother, but makes plays and can help rush the passer.

48. Minnesota Vikings- Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple

The Vikings have addressed some of their line problems via free agency, but they still need some upgrades there. Dawkins can play tackle in the NFL, but some believe he would be better off as a guard.

49. Washington Redskins- Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn

Lawson would have been in the talks for a first round pick, but he was often injured at Auburn. Washington has to get a few more solid players on their defensive line.

50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- D’onta Foreman, RB, Texas

With Doug Martin’s injury and substance abuse issues the Bucs need to take a running back in this loaded class. Foreman is big, but ran a good 40 yard dash and should be selected on day two.

51. Denver Broncos- Montravious Adams, DT, Auburn

Adams is a great interior pass rusher and played well at the Senior Bowl. Denver needs to get some better players on the interior of the defensive line.

52. Cleveland Browns- Budda Baker, S, Washington

Cleveland needs secondary help badly. Baker makes plays in the passing game, but isn’t afraid to come up and help in the run either. He isn’t the biggest safety, but is productive. His ball skills aren’t great, but should be worth the pick.

53. Detroit Lions- Curtis Samuel, WR/RB, Ohio State

Samuel is going to be a good slot receiver and can also play running back. Detroit can move Golden Tate back out wide or use Samuel and Tate on the inside of four receiver sets.

54. Miami Dolphins- Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado

The Dolphins need to get some help at corner to slow down the pass. Awuzie is a physical corner who is good at jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage.

55. New York Giants- Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

Davis will likely go higher, but is a perfect fit for the Giants. They rarely take linebackers early in the draft, but this value is hard to pass up.

56. Oakland Raiders- Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson

The Raiders need to improve their defensive line. Watkins is a good defensive tackle who rushes the passer well.

57. Houston Texans- Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan

Moton had a great career at Western Michigan, but may get moved inside. The Texans need offensive line help and can’t afford to ruin quarterbacks like they did David Carr.

58. Seattle Seahawks- Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado

With the Richard Sherman trade talks and a need at corner anyways, Witherspoon would be a good pick. He is slight and doesn’t provide much run support, but is talented in coverage.

59. Kansas City Chiefs- Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson

The Chiefs need to get some depth behind Marcus Peters and Terrance Mitchell. Tankersley is good in a lot of coverages, but needs to work on his technique.

60. Dallas Cowboys- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Dallas has a knack for taking risks on players in the second round and Jones is a player that would’ve gone in the first, but tore his Achilles. The Cowboys can reap the reward of taking a guy who may not be ready for week one, but could have a successful career.

61. Green Bay Packers- Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA

Moreau raised his draft stock by doing well in the workouts leading up to the draft. Green Bay desperately needs corner help and will be enticed by his testing results.

62. Pittsburgh Steelers- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama

Williams has off the field issues, but could be a steal for Pittsburgh if they get him here and he can stay out of trouble. He would be a great edge rusher that can take over for James Harrison at some point.

63. Atlanta Falcons- Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

McMillan needs to work on pass coverage, but can help stop the run. Atlanta doesn’t have many good linebackers outside of Deon Jones.

64. Carolina Panthers- David Sharpe, OT, Florida

The Panthers seem to always need offensive line help and need to take one here to protect Cam and help out a potential new running back.

 

For more mock drafts: DC Pro Sports Report

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NFL Draft Quarterback

Contenders Who Should Take a Quarterback Early in the NFL Draft

The NFL Draft is upon us. More so than any other year in recent memory, there is a wide range of opinions on the quarterback class.

Whether it is the small sample size of Mitchell Trubisky, the turnovers of Deshaun Watson, the college system that Patrick Mahomes played in or something else with another prospect, they all seem to have at least one thing that makes them very risky propositions in the NFL.

There isn’t a true first-round prospect at quarterback in this draft. Moreover, there is not a rookie that will be ready to play from day one. However, we all know how important the quarterback position is and how desperate teams like the Jets and Browns are for a good one.

So, these rookies will probably get drafted earlier than their talents merit and inherit bad situations where they are set up to fail.

In a perfect world, the ideal scenario would be for the youngsters to sit and learn behind a veteran quarterback on a contending team for a year or two. However, the NFL landscape has changed so much in recent years when it comes to quarterbacks.

Contending teams do not have high enough draft picks to get their hands on a coveted quarterback. If that is not true, many teams are simply afraid of wasting a draft pick on a signal caller who will not play right away.

With the stage set, here are three teams who should (but probably will not) take quarterback early in the draft.

Alex Smith Andy Reid

Photo: CBS Sports

Kansas City Chiefs

Alex Smith is a fine quarterback. However, last year proved once again that there is a ceiling as to how far Kansas City can go with him taking snaps. With a rock solid defense and the emergence of Tyreek Hill at wide receiver, Kansas City does not have a ton of needs.

Thus, snagging whoever the organization feels is the best available quarterback with pick number 27 would make sense. The Chiefs can remain competitive with Smith while grooming his replacement.

In an astonishing statistic, the last quarterback the Chiefs drafted to start and win a game for the franchise was Todd Blackledge in 1987. It is time to draft and develop a young quarterback.

New York Giants

Despite an uneven career, Eli Manning has given the Giants two Super Bowl titles, but he is 36 now. The organization has spoken openly about the need to find his successor. Free agent signing Geno Smith appears to be getting the latest crack at that gig and the Giants are clearly in win now mode. Even so, finding a way to snag a raw talent like Deshone Kizer wouldn’t hurt.

With the improvement of the defense last year and the addition of Brandon Marshall on offense, the Giants can afford such a move. The ownership of the Mara family always ensures this franchise has its act together. Any young quarterback has every chance to eventually thrive.

Arizona Cardinals

deshone kizer

Photo: Scout.com

Like the other two teams, Arizona has enough talent on the roster to win now. However, at 37 and with two major knee injuries under his belt, Carson Palmer is on his last leg.

Bruce Arians has rightly earned a reputation as one of the best quarterback coaches in the business. Patrick Mahomes would be an interesting project for him to work with.

While rumors of these teams addressing their long term quarterback needs are increasing, they are more likely to address short term needs that will get them from good to great. If I am a quarterback prospect, I would give up my non-throwing arm to go to one of these situations as opposed to one like the Jets, Browns or 49ers.

 

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New England Patriots 2017 NFL Draft Profile

By: Jonathan Reiter

Happy 32nd Day of Draftmas! To conclude our NFL Draft breakdown, we turn to the defending Super Bowl Champions.

Summary

The New England Patriots finished the season with a league best 14-2 record. Even with Tom Brady being suspended for the first four games of the season, the Patriots did not falter. The Patriots’ stellar season culminated with the raising of the Lombardi trophy after a 25-point comeback to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28.

Tom Brady (Photo courtesy: abcnews.com)

The Patriots are setting their sights on another title run this upcoming season, but there have been a few key departures which threaten the chances of defending their crown. On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots saw Jabaal Sheard leave for the Colts and Chris Long went to the Eagles. Their defensive line is not getting any younger either with Rob Ninkovich entering his 13th season.

LeGarrette Blount still finds himself without a team. Patriots are still considering the possibility of bringing Blount back, but it would have to be at a discount rate with James White, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead already formulated into Brady’s offense.

The Patriots also may be looking into the possibility of an addition to the secondary. The Patriots resigned Super Bowl 49 hero Malcom Butler after he shopped around his services as a restricted free agent. Malcom Butler is still at the center of trade rumors, and he could be Bill Belichick’s ace-in-the-hole to trade into the first round.

New England also recruited some new faces to their title defense. Most notably, the Patriots traded for Brandon Cooks this offseason to add speed to Tom Brady’s spread offense. Rob Gronkowski found a new partner in crime in the veteran tight end Dwayne Allen. Martellus Bennett took on the work load at the tight end position after Gronkowski’s injury, but he will find himself playing at Lambeau Field with the Green Bay Packers next season.

Luckily for the Patriots they were able to re-sign Dont’a Hightower to lead the linebacker core for the defense. New England was also able to trade for Carolina’s DE Kony Ealy to help with the pass rush burden.

The Patriots fulfilled many of their key needs in offseason trades and free agency signings, but the kings of the NFL could use this 2017 NFL draft to solidify their spot as the Super Bowl 52 champions in 2018.

THE DRAFT:

New England’s draft plan will have to wait until the third round this year unless they trade up into the first two rounds.  Most teams’ plans would be hindered by such a late start in the draft, but the Patriots’ ability to find great, late round talent is unparalleled.  The Patriots find themselves with less picks due to trades and sanctions of the “ridiculous” Deflategate.

PICKS:

Third Round: 72nd and 96th Picks

Fourth Round: 131st Pick

Fifth Round: 163rd and 183rd Picks

Sixth Round: 200th

Seventh Round: 237th Pick

NEEDS:

Defensive End

The top priority for the Patriots is to solidify the defensive line. The Patriots will most likely find a player who works opposite of Kony Ealy at the defensive end position. New England’s rush defense was tied for 3rd best in the league last season, and an addition to the defensive line is key to keeping a top tier defense intact.

Cornerback

The Patriots also need to focus on a secondary option with the question surrounding Malcom Butler. A young cornerback is never a bad idea for a team with the youth needed at the position today. Even with the possibility of Butler staying on the roster, developing a rookie cornerback this year would be a great investment into the future of the defense.

Tight End

Rob Gronkowski has a new counterpart in Dwayne Allen, but both tight ends have been prone to injury. Tight end by committee could be an option for this upcoming season if the Patriots take a tight end with a mid-round.

Offensive Line

The Patriots do not have many needs on the offensive side of the ball with the trades and free agency signings, but they should invest for the future with a pick on the o-line. New England’s blind side tackle is in the last year of his contract, and the Patriots do not have anyone to fill his role after the 2017 season. The Patriots need to find someone in the draft to be groomed for the 2018 system. They need to find a reliable player in this draft to take over the role because protecting Tom Brady’s blindside may be the most important job in the NFL.

 

THIRD ROUND BREAK DOWN

72nd Pick: Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic

Hendrickson comes from a small school, but he turned heads at the NFL combine. He had 51 tackles last season with 13.5 of them being sacks.

96th Pick: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Sidney Jones (Photo courtesy: cbssports.com)

Jones, who was considered the top corner in the draft, tore his Achilles during his pro day with NFL scouts watching. Jones’ ability to be ready for this upcoming season is unlikely, but he could be the investment into the secondary the Patriots need for the future.

Conclusion

The Patriots are not in the ideal drafting scenario for 2017, but they will still be a top team for the upcoming season. If they can find the right players in the mid to late rounds of the draft to solidify the defense, the New England Patriots will be on pace for a second straight Super Bowl victory.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Minnesota Vikings 2017 NFL Draft Profile

It’s day 31 of Draftmas and the Vikings are on the clock.

Summary

The Minnesota Vikings had a lot to deal with last season, as Teddy Bridgewater went down with a knee injury right before the start of the season. Sam Bradford was acquired and competed admirably, but Minnesota failed to make the playoffs at 8-8.

With Bradford and Bridgewater, the Vikings have two solid, but not great quarterbacks. If Bridgewater isn’t ready to go following the injury, Bradford will start until a competition can get underway. Adrian Peterson was not re-signed and is now a free agent, while Latavius Murray was signed to replace him. Stefon Diggs is a good young receiver, but last year rookie Laquon Treadwell didn’t see the field much and didn’t play all that well when he was on it. Minnesota does have a good tight end in Kyle Rudolph.

Mike Zimmer (Photo courtesy: upi.com)

The offensive line still needs to be addressed and was a major issue last year. Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff were signed to start at the tackle spots, but both had bad seasons last year. The Vikings will likely target a few offensive linemen in this draft.

Defense was the Vikings forte last season. They gave up the third fewest passing yards and were average stopping the run. The defense does have a few things to address this offseason.

Sharrif Floyd had complications with his recovery from knee surgery, which could be career ending. That leaves the Vikings thin on the interior of the defensive line. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffin both had good years at defensive end.

Anthony Barr did not play well last year, but should be able to bounce back to good form. Eric Kendricks had a solid second season, but they might need some depth behind those two. Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes are both young corners who still need growth. Harrison Smith is one of the best safeties in the game, but needs a partner in crime at the safety position.

 

Picks and Needs

The Vikings have eight picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, but none in the first round.

First round: (0)

Second round: (1) No. 48

Third round: (2) No. 79, 86

Fourth round: (2) No. 121, 129

Fifth round: (1) No. 160

Sixth round: (1) No. 199

Seventh round: (1) No. 232

These needs are in no particular order.

Offensive Needs:

Offensive Line- There is a pressing need for offensive line help and signing veterans who aren’t great, will only go so far.

Running Back- Murray was signed, but they will need depth behind him to groom.
Defensive Needs:
Defensive Tackle- This may not have been a huge need before the Floyd news, but it is now.
Outside Linebacker- Another linebacker is needed to go with Kendricks and Barr.

Safety- They will likely just get depth at this position to start.

Targets and Thoughts

The picks here are who the Vikings could realistically get where they are drafting. There will be no trades.

Second Round

Pick #48: Dan Feeney, G, Indiana

Dan Feeney (Photo courtesy: Drafttek.com)

Feeney is a physical guard that can help get the Vikings ground game going. They could go with a tackle here too, but there may not be any worth taking at this spot.

Third Round:

Pick #79: Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson

With the Floyd injury, the Vikings need to get at least one defensive tackle in this class. Watkins is good at stopping the run, but was Clemson’s best interior pass rusher last season.

Pick #86: Semaj Perine, RB, Oklahoma

Perine is a power back that can be a nice compliment to Murray. He set the single game rushing record for division I college football during his time in Norman.

Conclusion

The Vikings have more needs than originally anticipated, but if they get the right players in this draft, they can find themselves back in the playoffs.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Los Angeles Rams 2017 NFL Draft Profile From Chat Sports

The Rams are on the clock for day 30 of Draftmas.

Summary

The 2016 season was not kind to the Los Angeles Rams. No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff struggled behind an iffy offensive line (as did RB Todd Gurley) and the Rams limped through the year as NFL’s worst offense with just 14 points per game. The defense was just below league average, but they couldn’t work miracles. A better offense would lift some of the burden off the defense and likely result in better play.

Todd Gurley (Photo courtesy: latimes.com)

Head coach Jeff Fisher was fired mid-year and now the young Sean McVay is in charge. He has a bright future and the presence of Wade Phillips as the defensive coordinator will help on multiple levels. The main mission for McVay, who is a bit of a wunderkind and did great work in Washington, will be to ensure Jared Goff becomes the franchise option. Goff was not good last year, completing 54.6 percent of his passes of 1,089 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions. He never looked fully comfortable, likely due to a combination of a poor offense around him and Fisher’s strange decision to hold off on playing Goff early in the year. McVay will need to set up a system friendly to Goff, much like the Titans and Cowboys have done a fantastic job of doing with their young QBs.
Todd Gurley should be primed for a bounce back year, especially with the changes the Rams made on the offensive line. Andrew Whitworth, one of the better left tackles in the NFL, comes over from the Bengals. It was one of the best signings off the offseason: at a team-friendly price (compared to the rest of the OT market), Whitworth will provide a badly need blindside protector and veteran leadership. The rest of the offensive line will likely shake out as Rodger Saffold at LG, John Sullivan at C, Rob Havenstein at RG and Greg Robinson at RT. Havenstein and Robinson could flip spots, but the hope is Robinson locks down the RT spot after struggling badly on the left side. Sullivan isn’t a long-term answer, but he can be a stop-gap if the Rams select a young center in the draft. Maybe not for this year, but more OL help could be on the way if the unit doesn’t gel.
Weapons for Goff remain an area of concern. Tavon Austin has ability, but he’s on an unfriendly contract and the Rams have yet to use him properly. Robert Woods was signed to a big deal, but he never proved himself in Buffalo and that deal could look bad in a year or two. Pharoh Cooper has upside, but he’s not a legit No. 1 weapon. Getting that true No. 1 WR for Goff is a must in the near future. At tight end, last year’s fourth round pick Tyler Higbee might not be the answer. In a loaded TE class, the Rams should look for another option. Lance Dunbar will assume some of the third down duties at RB.
As mentioned, Phillips comes to town on the defensive side of the ball. The dirty little “secret” of Phillips vaunted defense is that it’s really just a 4-3 under with a defensive end standing up. So, Aaron Donald will still be one of the best 3-techniques in the NFL. How the rest of the defensive line fits is still up for grabs. Dominique Easley might be better as a 3-technique than a 5-technique or a 1-technique, so he might be relegated to backup duty. Michael Brockers could end up at either spot, but he’ll start somewhere. Where exactly he lines up most of the time might not be decided until after the draft.
The Rams overhauled the edge rusher spot, with Robert Quinn and Ethan Westbrooks the only notable players returning. Connor Barwin was a smart signing, as he’ll provide a veteran option. But a young piece or two is needed, especially if Robert Quinn can’t return to form. Alex Ogletree and Mark Barron should work as the two ILBs, but there isn’t much proven ability behind them.
In the secondary, picking up Kayvon Webster and Nickell Robey-Coleman were great moves. Webster, who knows Phillips defense, could break out as the No. 2 corner. Robey-Coleman will man the nickel role. That allows LaMarcus Joyner to assume free safety duties, as Maurice Alexander shifts to strong safety. Trumaine Johnson is back, for the time being, as the No. 1 CB.

Picks and Needs

The Rams have eight picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. They are without a first round pick as a result of the Jared Goff trade, which also cost them a compensatory draft pick in the third round. The extra fourth is a compensatory pick, while the sixth is via the Dolphins from the William Hayes trade. The seventh is from the Ravens as part of the Chris Givens trade, as the Rams’ original pick was swapped in the Hayes deal.

First round: (0)
Second round: (1) No. 37
Third round: (1) No. 69
Fourth round: (2) No. 112, No. 141
Fifth round: (1) No. 149
Sixth round: (2) No. 189, No. 206
Seventh round: (1) No. 234
These needs are in no particular order and are the top ones.
Offensive Needs:
Wide Receiver – Tavon Austin has been inconsistent, while Pharoh Cooper hasn’t proven himself yet. Robert Woods is a No. 2, at best, so getting a legit No. 1 option for Goff is needed.
Tight End – It’s an amazing draft class for tight ends. The Rams should either add a legit No. 1 TE or a compliment for Tyler Higbee.
Offensive Line – I’ll group this together, since there are multiple needs. Whitworth and Sullivan are not long-term options, so young pieces will be needed at some point. In a bad tackle class, a center might be the route the Rams elect to go. A guard, even if it’s just a future backup, wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Defensive needs:
Defensive Line – Maybe it’s a true nose guard or maybe it’s another 5-technique. Either way, the Rams could use another piece alongside Brockers and Donald.
Edge Rusher – This might be the Rams’ biggest need. Robert Quinn is one keeper (hopefully: he’s had two down years in a row), but Connor Barwin isn’t a long-term option. Phillips’ defense is based on getting pressure. It’s a really good edge rusher class, so adding one early makes sense.
Cornerback – Kayvon Webster could have a breakout year and Nickell Robey-Coleman will man the slot, but Trumaine Johnson’s future is a question mark. He’ll likely get a year to see how he fits under Phillips, but there are no guarantees. With little reliable depth behind those three, another mid-round pick is needed.

Targets and Thoughts

Below are some potential targets for the Rams for each of their Day 1 and Day 2 picks.

Second Round: 

Pick No. 37: Carl Lawson, EDGE, Auburn

Carl Lawson (Photo courtesy: profootballfocus.com)

If it wasn’t for injuries at Auburn, Lawson would likely be a first round pick. The production is there and although he’s a bit undersize, he should fit in the Rams’ system. He could be a part-time player in year one before replacing Barwin full-time once Barwin’s deal is up. There will plenty of edge options on the board here for Los Angeles.
Third Round: 
Pick No. 69: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
The Rams have shown quite a bit of interest in the physical, productive WR from USC. He might not be a full-fledged No. 1 option, but he’s a very different player than Austin or Cooper. Concerns around his speed and separation ability (think Laquon Treadwell) could cause him to slide out of the first two rounds.
Conclusion
The Rams aren’t ready to truly contend next year. It’s a rebuild year, with the focus on Goff improving. Not having a first round pick doesn’t help, but the Rams can add a few pieces, on either side of the ball, as they continue their rebuild.
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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2017 Atlanta Falcons NFL Draft Profile

For day 29 of draftmas, the Atlanta Falcons take center stage.

Summary:

Atlanta had a terrific season last year, finishing with a regular season mark of 11-5. Unfortunately, all that will be remembered is the Falcons blowing a 25 point third quarter lead in the Super Bowl.

Matt Ryan (Photo courtesy: twitter.com)

There are not many weaknesses on this football team. The Matt Ryan led offense remains loaded. A lineup that features Julio Jones, Tevin Coleman, Mohamed Sanu and Devonta Freeman makes for an embarrassment of riches. Throw in an offensive line that was galvanized by free agent signing Alex Mack, and this offense went from talented to lethal last year. They were held under 20 points in just a single game

The defense was statistically below average, but the emergence of 2016 sack champion Vic Beasley and rookie safety Keanu Neal provides reason for optimism in 2017.

Pushing the right button on draft day makes a chance a Super Bowl redemption even more realistic than it already is. Here is a look at where the Falcons stand.

Picks and needs:

First round: (1) No. 31

Second round: (1) No. 63

Third round: (1) No. 95

Fourth round: (1) No. 136

Fifth round: (1) No. 174

Sixth round: (0)

Seventh round: (1) No. 249

These needs are in no particular order.

Defensive Needs:

Defensive Line- Vic Beasley needs someone else to get after the quarterback, while they could use some depth on the interior as well.

Linebacker- Deon Jones is great, but they don’t have much outside of him.

Offensive Needs:

Guard- Chris Chester retired and Ben Garland is the projected starter at right guard. They need to get that fixed before the start of the season.

Tight End- Austin Hooper is solid, but they don’t really have a big pass-catching threat at tight end.

 

Possible Targets:

These players could realistically be drafted by the Falcons where they are selecting. There will be no trades.

First Round:

Pick #31: Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

Charles Harris (Photo courtesy: stltoday.com)

Harris is a good pass rusher, who is also solid against the run. He doesn’t have great length for a edge rusher, but does have good strength. The Falcons had Vic Beasley last season, but need to get more pass rushers around him to have a better defense.

Second Round:

Pick #63: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

McMillan needs to work on pass coverage, but can help stop the run. He will likely be a two down linebacker in the NFL to start. Atlanta doesn’t have many good linebackers outside of Deon Jones, so they can get another one with good value at this selection.

Third Round: 

Pick #95: Ethan Pocic, OG/C, LSU

Pocic has a lot of experience playing on the interior of the offensive line at LSU. He needs to work on his pass blocking, but is good at run blocking. He can start at guard from day one with a good training camp and preseason showing.

 

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