Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Edge Rushers

Edge rusher is one of the most important positions in the NFL and is routinely a position taken very highly in NFL Drafts. Here are the best  2018 NFL Draft prospects at the edge rusher position playing in college football this season:

Bradley Chubb, N.C. State

Bradley Chubb NFL

Bradley Chubb (photo by: rivals.com)

Chubb had a breakout season last year to put him on a lot of NFL Scouts’ radars. He has good size at 6’4″ and 275 pounds and with a good campaign in 2017, can be one of the first edge rushers off the board in the 2018 NFL Draft.

N.C. State will have a great defensive line in the upcoming season and Chubb will be the best player on it. He totaled 21 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2016. Chubb did a great job of beating one on one blocks with his strength and was effective in run support and pressuring the quarterback.

The Wolfpack will play plenty of tough teams in 2017, giving Chubb a chance to play against good competition. They play Florida State, Louisville, Notre Dame, Clemson and North Carolina. The game against the Fighting Irish will be a really good matchup, if Chubb gets matched up with Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey.

Marcell Frazier, Missouri

Another year and another Missouri defensive lineman heading to the NFL as a top prospect. Frazier is 6’5″ and 265 pounds, which gives him the necessary length to win on the outside.

The most impressive thing about Frazier’s 2016 play was his ability to come on strong at the end of the season. He had 6.5 of his 8.5 sacks in the last three games of the season. If he can continue that progression into the 2017 season, he can be one of the first edge rushers taken in the 2018 NFL Draft.

With games against Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, the Tigers will have to go up against some good offensive lines. How Frazier fares against the Florida offensive line especially could have a huge impact on his draft stock.

Sam Hubbard, Ohio State

Hubbard got his start at Ohio State when Joey Bosa served a suspension in 2015. He didn’t disappoint with 6.5 sacks and even helped out when Bosa came back from suspension.

Last season he only had 3.5 sacks, but still impressed scouts with his play. He stands at 6’5″ and 266 pounds, which is good height for an NFL defensive end, but he likely needs to add on a few pounds of strength. Hubbard will have to show increased production in 2017 in order to justify a high selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Ohio State plays a lot of good teams next season. Hubbard will have to show up against Oklahoma, Nebraska, Penn State, Iowa, Michigan State and Michigan. The big game for Hubbard could be Oklahoma, where it is possible he could be going up against Orlando Brown, a top tackle prospect.

Arden Key, LSU

Although it is still early in the draft process, Key is the front runner to be the first edge rusher selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. He has great height at 6’6″, but needs to add muscle to his 231 pound frame.

Key has produced since day one at LSU with 16 career sacks in his first two seasons. He has experience as a 4-3 defensive end and a 3-4 outside linebacker, which will make him appealing to all NFL teams. If he can get stronger and use his play strength to his advantage this season, he should be a top 15 pick.

LSU has a tough schedule that features BYU, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas A&M. Going up against the Tennessee and Alabama offensive line will adequately test Key and if he performs well, he will be the first edge rusher off the board.

Harold Landry, Boston College

Harold Landry NFL

Harold Landry (Photo by: Bostonglobe.com)

Landry was one of the most improved players in college football in 2016. He went from 3.5 sacks in 2015 to 16.5 last year. If he puts up production like that again, teams will have a hard time passing on him.

At 6’3″ and 250 pounds, Landry has the necessary strength and weight, but his length is just adequate. There is no doubt he can produce, but the combine could hold him back after the 2017 season.

With games against Notre Dame, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Florida State, the Eagles will play the best of the best in the 2017 season. Landry will be going up against good offensive lines specifically against Clemson and Notre Dame.

 

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2018 NFL Mock Draft May 6

The 2017 NFL draft has just concluded, but it is never too early to look to next year. Draft picks are ordered by Super Bowl Odds.

1. San Francisco 49ers- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Brian Hoyer isn’t the long term answer for the 49ers and they reached on C.J. Beathard in the 2017 NFL Draft. Allen may be from a small school, but he has legitimate talent. He has the prototypical size for an NFL quarterback at 6’5″ and 222 pounds. Allen will have to prove himself in his big games against Iowa, Oregon and Boise State in the 2017 season.

2. Cleveland Browns- Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama

Joe Haden is aging and the Browns did a great job of addressing the rest of their defense in the 2017 NFL Draft. Fitzpatrick has started since his freshman season and is a very versatile defensive back.

3. Los Angeles Rams- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

If Jared Goff is going to be the long term quarterback, he needs more weapons. Ridley is a good option with 1,814 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in two years at Alabama. He can be a good outside receiver for the Rams, which is not something they currently have.

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

Darnold needs to improve his mechanics and have a strong second season as USC’s starting quarterback. If he does so, he will be a first rounder with no doubts. The Jets need to get a franchise signal caller and so far, this looks like a good quarterback class coming in.

5. Chicago Bears- Derwin James, S, Florida State

Derwin James NFL

Derwin James (Photo by: si.com)

Quintin Demps has had just one good season as a pro and that shouldn’t be expected to continue. James is an elite athlete at defensive back and will likely go in the top ten in the 2018 NFL Draft if he can stay healthy.

6. Jacksonville Jaguars- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The USC-UCLA game will feature two great quarterbacks. Rosen has been a phenom since his freshman year at UCLA, but last year got his throwing shoulder hurt and even had some nerve damage. He needs to stay healthy and if he is able to, is capable of being the first quarterback selected. If the Jaguars are picking this high, Blake Bortles is out as the starting quarterback.

7. Buffalo Bills- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Wilkins is overlooked because of how many talented players were on Clemson last season, but with a lot of them gone, it is his time to shine. The Bills need to address the defensive line early in this draft. Two first round picks gives them some versatility in this draft.

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

The Chargers doubled up on guards in the 2017 NFL Draft, but the tackles could be improved to protect the aging Phillip Rivers. McGlinchey would have gone first round in 2017, but elected to go back to school for one more year.

9. Detroit Lions- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Kirk might end up being the best receiver in this class, but will likely see his stock slide if he doesn’t produce this season with a new quarterback. He is a little shorter than most teams like at 5’11”, but can play on the outside and be a difference maker. The Lions need to upgrade their receiving corps to give Matthew Stafford some more weapons.

10. New Orleans Saints- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

One thing that the Saints didn’t address in the 2017 NFL Draft was a pass rusher who could play opposite Cameron Jordan. Key is a great speed rusher, who elected to go back to school for another season. The Saints would love if they fell to them so they could get after Cam Newton, Jameis Winston and Matt Ryan more often.

11. Washington Redskins- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Mason Rudolph NFL

Mason Rudolph (Photo by: ncaa.com)

The Washington front office doesn’t have a good relationship with Kirk Cousins. He will likely leave after the season due to being franchise tagged the last two seasons. Rudolph is another quarterback who has great size at 6’5″ and 235 pounds. He only threw four interceptions last season, which shows how well he protects the ball.

12. Miami Dolphins- Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

Interior offensive linemen usually don’t go this high, but Nelson would’ve been a first rounder in the 2017 draft had he come out. The Dolphins were able to address a lot of their needs this offseason, but they still need to get a guard because they are moving Laremy Tunsil out to tackle.

13. Cincinnati Bengals- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

Cincinnati addressed all of their skill positions in the first two rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, but their offensive line is not good. Williams has a lot of experience at Texas and should upgrade the offensive line instantly.

14. Philadelphia Eagles- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Barkley helped lead Penn State to a Big Ten Championship last year and was their best offensive player. He does a little bit of everything well and will be one of the first running backs off of the board. The Eagles drafted Donnell Pumphrey, but he isn’t an every down back in the NFL.

15. Tennessee Titans- Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

The Titans don’t have too many needs, but can improve the pass rush. He was a monster for the Boston College defense last year, finishing with 16.5 sacks. There were only two games were he didn’t register a sack, which bodes well for his NFL future.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

Donovan Smith hasn’t gotten his career off to a great start, meaning if he struggles again he will be replaced. Protecting Winston’s blindside has to be the number one priority for the Bucs.

17. Baltimore Ravens- Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

The Ravens haven’t had an effective running back in years. Guice showed flashes of what he could do when Leonard Fournette sat out with injury last season. He should have a breakout year for LSU.

18. Carolina Panthers- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

The Panthers continue to not address the offensive line well. They need to clear some holes for McCaffrey and protect Cam Newton. Brown is a big prospect, who is another good tackle prospect in this draft class.

19. Arizona Cardinals- Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

Luke Falk NFL

Luke Falk (Photo by: seattletimes.com)

This year’s quarterback class is going to be loaded, if everything happens the way most think it will. That paired with the fact that there are a lot of aging quarterbacks and as usual teams that are bad and need new ones, A lot might go in the first found in the 2018 NFL Draft. Falk is a system quarterback, but Patrick Mahommes overcame that to be the second quarterback selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. He will need to have an impressive senior season where he shows he can read defenses to maintain his spot in the first round.

20. Minnesota Vikings- Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah

The Shariff Floyd injury complicates things for the Vikings. Lotulelei is a big physical defensive tackle that can really plug up the running lanes.

21. Indianapolis Colts- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson has all the potential in the world and it should all come together for him this season for Texas. The Colts have started to revamp their defense, but it still needs a lot more work.

22. Buffalo Bills (via KC)- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Sutton was a fringe first rounder had he come out this year and will likely be one of the best wide receivers coming out next season. With Sammy Watkins possibly leaving in free agency, Sutton can be paired with current rookie Zay Jones.

23. New York Giants- Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State

The Giants didn’t draft a tackle and now will need to get one next year. Fortunately for them, as it now stands, there are a lot of good tackles in this draft class.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers- Troy Fumagali, TE, Wisconsin

Troy Fumagali NFL

Troy Fumagali (Photo by: WXYZ.com)

If Jesse James doesn’t step up, the Steelers will need a new tight end. Fumagali made some incredible grabs in the Cotton Bowl and with a good season, will move himself into first round consideration.

25. Denver Broncos- Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

Jamal Charles was just signed, but that isn’t a long term solution. Chubb could be the selection if the Broncos lose faith in Devontae Booker. He has some injuries, but when healthy Chubb is  a great running back.

26. Oakland Raiders- Da’Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama

Hand has been burried on the depth chart at Alabama, but will get his chance this season. The Raiders have a terrible defensive line and need to start addressing it.

27. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh

Whitehead can play a variety of positions in the secondary and can fit in next to Jabrill Peppers. The Browns’ luxury of a lot of picks, gives them a lot of options.

28. Atlanta Falcons- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

The Falcons need to get some players on the interior of the defensive line. Payne, like Hand, will get his chance to shine this season.

29. Seattle Seahawks- Martez Ivey, OL, Florida

Ivey could play guard or center for the Seahawks, but they need offensive line help so badly, it doesn’t matter. Protecting Russell Wilson hasn’t been a concern in the past for Seattle (even though it should have been), but it should be going into the future.

30. Green Bay Packers- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

McFadden is a lengthy corner that can help the Packers stop the pass. They addressed the secondary this offseason, but if it doesn’t improve, they will target more secondary help.

31. Dallas Cowboys- Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

Hubbard got to start in Joey Bosa’s place when Bosa was suspended, but made a name for himself. After a few more years of good play, he could go in round one. Dallas picked Taco Charlton in the first round in the 2017 NFL Draft, but could still use pass rushing help.

32. New England Patriots- Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State

The Patriots have a glaring need at pass rusher and Lewis might be their guy. He has a lot of experience at Ohio State and New England can turn him into a star.

 

For more mock drafts go to: DC Pro Sports Report

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2016 Citrus Bowl Preview

Louisville and LSU play in the 2016 Citrus Bowl in match-up that pits a good quarterback versus a good defense.

LSU Tigers

The Tigers awarded Ed Orgeron the head coaching position after finishing the season 5-2, bringing the LSU total record to 7-4. Their four losses were all to bowl eligible. They have four wins over bowl eligible teams, including: Texas A&M, Arkansas, Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State.

Citrus Bowl

Tre’Davious White (Photo courtesy: the advertiser)

Danny Etling took over the quarterback job midway through the season. He played decently with 1,906 passing yards, nine interceptions and four interceptions. He was a vast improvement over Brandon Harris, but is still not an ideal quarterback for the Tigers.

Wide receiver Malachi Dupre has been the most productive target. He has 454 receiving yards and three touchdowns. D.J. Chark and Travin Dural also can create separation and be viable receivers to Etling.

Leonard Fournette has decided to sit out this game due to chronic ankle injuries that have plagued him all year. Derrius Guice has been a star himself filling in for Fournette, with 1,249 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. He runs as hard as any running back in the country.

The rush defense of the Tigers is great, giving up 122 yards per game. Their secondary is one of the best in the country and shows it by only 201 yards per game.

Arden Key has been the best pass rusher with 10 sacks on the season. Kendell Beckwith is a great tackler behind him with 91 total tackles. The secondary features a lot of draft prospects including Tre’Davious White and Jamal Adams.

Louisville Cardinals

The Cardinals won nine of their first 10 games before losing their last two to finish at 9-3. Despite their good record Louisville only beat four bowl eligible teams: Florida State, NC State, Boston College and Wake Forest. They only lost games to bowl eligible teams.

Citrus Bowl

Lamar Jackson (Photo courtesy: Twitter)

The Heisman Trophy winner, Lamar Jackson, has elevated the level of his team’s play. He threw for 3,390, 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Jackson is also the team leader in rushing with 1,538 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. He will go up against one of the best defenses he has ever faced in LSU. The key is protecting the football, as in his last game against Kentucky he turned the ball over four times.

Jackson has a lot of receivers to throw to. James Quick has 688 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Tight end Cole Hikutini leads the team with eight receiving touchdowns and has added 656 yards. Jaylen Smith is their big play guy with 22.2 yards per reception.

Running back Brandon Radcliff has rushed for 877 yards and six touchdowns on 6.6 yards per carry to supplement Jackson.

Louisville has an elite rush defense that allows just 110 yards per game. Their pass defense is solid giving up 206 yards per game.

Linebacker James Hearns has been a great blitzer with eight sacks on the season. Jaire Alexander has five interceptions on the season. Louisville has a load of other players who are play-makers on defense too.

Prediction

LSU will force Jackson to turn the ball over and will pound the rock with Guice to win this game.

 

LSU Tigers 28 Louisville Cardinals 24

 

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What’s Next For LSU?

Stacy Revere/ Getty Images

Stacy Revere/ Getty Images

Les Miles has been on the hot seat since the end of last year, and after the heartbreaking loss against Auburn, the seat got too hot.

On Sunday, Les Miles was fired and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was also relieved of his job. Ed Orgeron will be the interim coach of the LSU Tigers the rest of the season.

So what is next for the LSU football program?

In the short term, interim head coach Orgeron needs to get his football team focused on winning the SEC West. Year in and year out, the SEC West is one of the hardest divisions in college football and the LSU Tigers are always in the hunt. That needs to be the prime objective for Orgeron and his football team. The first step to doing that is to rebound against the Missouri Tigers this Saturday.

The Missouri offense has been putting up a lot of points and also features the second-leading passer in college football. Drew Lock, through four games, has already thrown for over 1500 yards and has 14 passing touchdown. The Missouri offensive line has kept Lock pretty clean in the first four games, as opposing defenses only have one sack on Lock.

Courtesy of LSU Sports.net

Courtesy of LSU Sports.net

That number might be a little bit higher after Lock leaves Tiger Stadium on Saturday night. The LSU Tiger defense features the nation leader in sacks. sophomore Arden Key, who has 6.5 sacks. It will be near impossible to beat LSU at home, at night and after a heartbreaking loss. The LSU Tigers should win these game rather easily.

Winning the SEC West will be a whole lot harder. As of Week 5, LSU is fourth behind Alabama (A team they have not beaten since November 5, 2011), Texas A&M and Auburn. So, the Tigers of LSU have some work to do if they hope to get Atlanta and play in the SEC Championship game.

In the longer term, LSU needs to find a new head coach and to find a good one fast. Nick Saban and Les Miles were the last two hires for this job. LSU has to get a coach with a big name and a coach that will win early and often. Les Miles leaves LSU as the winningest head coach in school history. He finished with a record of 141-55.

So who do I think LSU could get?

Courtesy of CBS Sports

Courtesy of CBS Sports

I think the first candidates would be the Stanford head coach David Shaw and the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. LSU has enough money to pay both of those candidates. Shaw has done a great job with Stanford and would only make sense for a SEC school to try and bring him to the southeast.

And Mike Tomlin is probably one of the only NFL coaches now that I could see making the move to the college level. He will definitely connect with the players and could definitely keep recruits at LSU and take some from other schools. He can also make a new recruiting pipeline in the state of Pennsylvania for the LSU Tigers.

Courtesy of AP

Courtesy of AP

They could also give one of the great college football coordinators a promotion. If they are looking for a more offensive-minded coach, look no further than Lane Kiffin. Kiffin has been waiting for the perfect head coach spot since September 28, 2013, and LSU is that perfect head coach spot. He would already be in a state to recruit in and he has his two pipelines to California and Alabama. Those three states continually pump out great high school talent.

Another option is Clemson’s defensive coordinator Brent Venables. He is one of the great defensive minds in college football. And has produced many top college defenses. He is also a great recruiter. His high-energy attitude helped him to become the National Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.com.

Whoever they pick to become the next LSU head football coach will have huge shoes to fill.

Four Teams That Will Make The College Football Playoff

The college football season has just kicked off, which begins the season long quest for teams to make it to the playoffs that conclude the season. The first two years of the College Football Playoff has produced great results and this year might have more anticipation for the Playoff than any other. Could their be a rematch between some of the teams involved in last year’s playoff? Here are the four teams that will make the College Football Playoff:

1.Clemson Tigers

Deshaun Watson looks to lead Clemson to a second straight College Football Playoff appearance. (Courtesy cbssports.com)

The Tigers finished as the runner-up in college football last season and return a lot of players, which have Clemson fans ready to kick-off the season. Quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for over 4,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000 yards last season and should be more efficient this season, with more talented receivers suiting up this year. Wide Receiver Mike Williams, who missed most of last season with a neck injury, is back and should provide another great receiver for Watson to throw too. The other great receiver is Artavis Scott, who led the Tigers in receiving yards last year. Clemson also returns tight end Jordan Leggett, who will be playing on Sundays soon. Wayne Gallman will man the running back spot, after rushing for over 1,500 yards last season. He is one of the most underrated players in the country because Watson overshadows him. The offense does lose a few offensive lineman, but Clemson recruits enough to fill the void left on the offensive line. Last season the Tigers averaged 38.5 points per game last season and that should increase this season.

Defensively, the Tigers lost a lot from last season. Ben Boulware and Cordrea Tankersley are the players who started last season who will have to lead the team this year. The pass rushers are inexperienced, but Clemson has a knack of producing top-level pass rushers. With the offense being so good this season, the defense just has to be average and timely for the Tigers to win the ACC this season.

Key Games: Oct. 1 Louisville, Oct. 29 at Florida State

2. LSU Tigers

Leonard Fournette is going to have another great season for the Tigers. (Courtesy bleacherreport.com)

LSU has the most talented team from top to bottom in the country. Everyone knows what you are getting from Leonard Fournette, a possible 2,000 yard rusher this season. The offensive line should be great on the interior and solid on the outside, which will be capable of opening up holes for Fournette and pass protecting.The top two receivers from last season in Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural, who are both long and lengthy, return and can be threats on the outside of the offense. The problem is they don’t have a lot of depth at the position. To help though, Colin Jeter, their tight end, should be able to help over the middle. The x-factor for this team is Brandon Harris at the quarterback position. He has a strong arm, but isn’t very accurate. He needs to complete passes to keep defenses honest and not completely focused on Fournette.

The secondary of the Tigers is the best in the country. Tre’Davious White, Kevin Toliver, Jamal Adams and Rickey Jefferson will make it hard for any offense to throw against them. The defensive line will also be stacked on the interior and the exterior. Their defensive line is huge and should help plug running lanes. Arden Key will rush the passer with his great length and speed from his outside linebacker position. Kendall Beckwith is the leader in the middle and will rack up a lot of tackles. The defense allowed 24.3 points per game last season, but they should be one of the best in the country this season.

Key Games: Oct. 22 Ole Miss, Nov. 5 Alabama

3. Oklahoma Sooners

Baker Mayfield does a little bit of everything for the Sooners. (Courtesy usatoday.com)

The Sooners will make a run to the College Football Playoff, much like last year, thanks to Baker Mayfield. he can throw the ball with accuracy, he completed 68% of his passes last season, and run the ball to keep the defenses on their toes. His partner in the backfield, running back Samaje Perine, will run over people and create a dynamic duo that will create havoc for defenses. The problem for the Sooners is the wide receiving core. Losing Sterling Shepard to the NFL hurts a lot. They really need Dede Westbrook to step up and be the go-to receiver this season without Shepard. The offensive line has a lot of experience returning and should be solid to set up the skill position players for great seasons.

Defense will be the key for the Sooners, much like Clemson. Last season they allowed just 22 points per game, but need to replace a lot of players. The secondary is the most experienced group and Jordan Thomas should be a dynamic player for Oklahoma at corner back. He will be able to shut down most of the Big 12’s best receivers.The rest of the defense will need to step up in some of their close games. If the Sooners have a weakness, it will be stopping the run, which could cost them in a few games.

Key Games: Sep. 3 vs. Houston (NRG Stadium), Sep. 17 vs. Ohio State, Oct. 1 at TCU

4. Ohio State Buckeyes

J.T. Barrett is the unquestioned leader of the Buckeyes this season. (courtesy cbssports.com)

J.T. Barrett returns as the full-time starter and will have a lot of new pieces to fit in with. The good news for Barrett is the two other returning starters on offense are offensive linemen Billy Price and Pat Elflein. The skill position players will need to step up, but the Buckeyes are one of the few university’s that just reload.

The Buckeyes lose a lot on defense this year, but get a player returning on each level of the defense. Defensive end Tyquan Lewis returns after recording eight sacks last year. Sam Hubbard also had experience from the defensive end position, and will need to have an improved season. Raekwon McMillan is the best inside linebacker in the country and should be considered for Big Ten defensive player of the year after the season. Gareon Conley played well last season, but will need to lead an inexperienced secondary that could be the defense’s weak point.

Ohio State can afford to lose to Oklahoma in week three if they sweep the rest of their schedule.

Key Games: Sep. 17 at Oklahoma, Nov. 19 at Michigan State, Nov. 26 vs. Michigan