Detroit Lions 2017 NFL Draft Profile

On day 19 of Draftmas, the Detroit Lions are on the clock.

Summary

Detroit faced their first year without Calvin Johnson and got themselves into the playoffs with a 9-7 record. They ended up losing to the Seahawks in the Wild Card round, but they exceeded expectations.

The offense was below average, scoring 21.6 points per game. While the rush offense was near the bottom of the league, Matt Stafford led the passing offense to be the 11th best in the league. Stafford had one of his best seasons with 4,327 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and a passer rating of 93.3. Marvin Jones and Golden Tate are solid receivers for him, but they could use some depth behind them.

Detroit has a great offensive line going into this season, as they signed Ricky Wagner and T.J. Lang. If there is a weak spot, it’s at left guard.

The defense was average in terms of yards allowed, giving up 3,975 passing yards and 1,701 rushing yards.

In order to improve the defense, the Lions need to get some help on the defensive line. They had just 26 sacks last season, which was second worst in the NFL. Linebackers also need to be addressed, because they don’t have a great one on the roster. D.J. Hayden was signed to help out at corner, but he was signed hoping he can play better than he ever has. If they feel like he has shown in the past, they need more corners.

Picks and Needs

The Lions have eight picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. To get back to the playoffs they will need to get a few impact players.

First round: (1) No. 21

Second round: (1) No. 53

Third round: (1) No. 85

Fourth round: (1) No. 128

Fifth round: (1) No. 165

Sixth round: (2) No. 205, No. 215

Seventh round: (1) No. 250

These needs are in no particular order.

Offensive Needs:

Running Back- Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah are both decent backs who are good at receiving out of the backfield. They could decide to get more of a true runner, due to the great class of backs coming in.

Wide Receiver- Detroit doesn’t have much behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones and even they aren’t elite. Getting another receiver in this class would be a good idea.
Tight End- Eric Ebron hasn’t lived up to his potential yet and the Lions want to use more two tight end sets.
Defensive Needs:

Defensive Line- The interior of the defensive line needs to be improved and an edge guy could be used to provide depth.

Linebacker– There isn’t a great linebacker on the roster and one if not a few need to be taken in this draft.

Cornerback- Darius Slay is a good corner, but more help is needed behind him on the depth chart.

Targets and Thoughts

The picks here are who the Lions could realistically get where they are drafting.

First Round:

Pick #21: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

Detroit needs linebackers badly 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. The Lions will need to work with Reddick, but if they see his potential, they may elect to try and develop him into a good pro.

Second Round:
Pick #53: Chris Wormley, DT/DE, Michigan

Wormley can play defensive tackle or defensive end for the Lions. He will be useful next to A’Shawn Robinson and Ansah. He can stop the run on the early downs and rush the passer on third and long.

Third Round:

Pick #85: Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State

Godwin put on a show at the Rose Bowl and presents good value at pick number 85. He has good speed and creates separation. With improved quarterback play at the NFL level, Godwin can blossom into a star.

 

 

Conclusion

The Lions can get back to the playoffs with another great season from Stafford and support from this draft class.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2017 NFL Mock Draft February 27

2017 NFL Mock Draft

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.

2. San Francisco 49ers- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

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. For now, Jonathan Allen would be a great pick. He can play any position on the defensive line and succeed. 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.

3. Chicago Bears- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

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. The Bears will love his big hands because he will have to play late season games in the cold weather at home and at Green Bay.

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.

5. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

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. Mariota needs a go to receiver to throw to and the Titans may have to take one earlier than expected.

6. New York Jets- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

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. The Jets need secondary help and will likely cut Darrelle Revis due to his his huge cap number. Lattimore could slide right in and start for the Jets.

7. Los Angeles Chargers- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Phillip Rivers deserves the most credit in the league for keeping his team competitive with all of his skill position players hurt and a bad offensive line. Robinson can slide right in and start protecting the aging Rivers and give him more time to make plays. There aren’t many great tackle prospects in this class, so the Chargers may elect to snag one early, regardless of value. Robinson did a solid job pass blocking Myles Garrett in their match-up.

8. Carolina Panthers- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

The Panthers may not have had the season they wanted, but they don’t have too many needs to fill. One position they do need to upgrade is corner after not fairing so well without Josh Norman. 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.

9. Cincinnati Bengals- Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford

When Cincinnati was at their best, they rushed the passer well. Michael Johnson no longer does that well, so he needs to be upgraded. 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.

10. Buffalo Bills- Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC

I haven’t mocked a quarterback to Buffalo, but it is looking more like they are going to need one with the Tyrod Taylor situation not being resolved. 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.

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

The Saints need defensive help wherever they can get it. Improving the pass rush will be an easy decision if they see Derek Barnett on the board. 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- Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Hue Jackson believes in Cody Kessler, so he may not elect to take a quarterback in the first round. They will have a really good draft if they get both Garrett and Foster. 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.

13. Arizona Cardinals- Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

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 Cardinals need to get another corner across from Patrick Peterson and beside Tyrann Mathieu in order to have a great defense.

14. Indianapolis Colts- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Indianapolis needs defensive help all over. Stopping the pass could be a place to start, as they already have decent players at safety. Jones is the best corner in this class in zone coverage. He needs to work on his man to man coverage, but in the right scheme, should fit in well. Jones does not have great size, but makes up for it with his great coverage.

15. Philadelphia Eagles- Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

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. The Eagles need to get a wide receiver for Carson Wentz as a lot of their young receivers have been disappointments.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

The Ravens need a rushing attack if they want to get back to being a premier team. 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, but when healthy Cook is an elite running back prospect.

17. Washington Redskins- Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

Washington has other needs, but McDowell could really bolster their defensive line and be a great value pick. McDowell can rush the passer, but his main impact will be helping out a bad Washington run defense.

18. Tennessee Titans- Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Adams will likely not fall this far, but if he does the Titans will pick him within minutes. Tennessee 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.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Hooker is another safety that will not likely make it this far in the round, but the Bucs would love to get him. 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.

20. Denver Broncos- Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

The Broncos desperately need tackle help for the upcoming season. They might be able to address the issue in free agency, but in case they can’t, it would be prudent to take one here. Ramczyk is a solid left tackle, who is a good run and pass blocker, who 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.

21. Detroit Lions- Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan

Detroit defied the odds to make the playoffs, but their defense needs a lot of work. Interior defensive line play was bad. Wormley can play defensive tackle in their scheme and be an absolute force in the middle of the defensive line.

22. Miami Dolphins- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh hold down half of the Dolphins’ defensive line, but the other half leaves a lot to be desired. 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.

23. New York Giants- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

Cunningham is tall and lanky, but makes plays. He is a tackle machine that can vastly improve the run defense. The Giants never seem to have good linebackers. They filled a lot of their needs last season through free agency, so now they can get a linebacker to anchor their defense.

24. Oakland Raiders- Jabrill Peppers, LB/S/CB, Michigan

The Raiders’ defense wasn’t good last season. They have to get better to help Derek Carr and the high-powered offense win games. Peppers can be successful at any position in the back seven of the defense and will give the Raiders a lot of flexibility and a good player behind Khalil Mack. He will likely play safety/nickel corner back when he settles in, but he can also help the Raiders at linebacker.

25. Houston Texans- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

If the Texans miss out on the Tony Romo sweepstakes and don’t get a free agent signal caller, they will be forced to pick a quarterback in the draft. 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. 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.

26. Seattle Seahawks- Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah

Seattle’s offensive line problems have been well documented. Any lineman prospect near this range should be considered. Bolles is an athletic tackle prospect, who uses his mobility to his advantage. He may need to add some strength to be successful in the NFL.

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

Tyreke Hill jump started the Chiefs offense this season, so they may try to open up the offense even more. Ross is a play-maker like Hill, but is more polished as a receiver. He is very speedy and even expects to run in the 4.3 range at the combine.

28. Dallas Cowboys- Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

Brantley only had 2.5 sacks on the season, but did a great job of getting pressure on quarterbacks and disrupting the pocket. He is very good at run-stopping and is quick at the snap of the ball. The Cowboys need to get better defensively and Brantley’s ability to push back into the pocket would help a lot.

29. Green Bay Packers- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

Aaron Rodgers has the offense rolling, so the defense has to get better in order to win the Super Bowl. 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.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers- Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

The Steelers’ linebackers played terribly this season and they need to select another one in the first round this year. Davis is a strong linebacker who is decent in coverage. His willingness to make plays in the running game is something that wasn’t seen too often last season by Steeler linebackers.

31. Atlanta Falcons- Takkarist McKinnley, DE/OLB, UCLA

Atlanta’s offense is amazing, so they can try to improve their defense with this pick. McKinnley is a good edge rusher who had 10 sacks for the Bruins in his senior year. He doesn’t have prototypical size for an edge rusher, but makes up for that with his strength.

32. New England Patriots- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Martellus Bennett is set to hit free agency. Rob Gronkowski is often injured and the Patriots like having multiple tight ends anyways. Bill Bellichick loves Alabama players, so this pick will make sense if Howard falls to the Patriots. 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.

For more mock drafts: DC Pro Sports Report

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2017 NFL Mock Draft February 16

2017 NFL Mock Draft

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

The Browns reportedly have a very high grade on Garrett and are not targeting a quarterback with their first pick. Garrett is the premier pass rusher in college football, but has also proven to be a good run defender as well. Cleveland has to acquire talent all over their roster, so they need to take the best player available, who is Garrett.

2. San Francisco 49ers- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

San Francisco has a lot of needs, including a new coach. 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.

3. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Matt Barkley has played better than expected, but the Bears will still need a new quarterback. Trubisky has protected the football very well, with the exception of a couple of games. Issues that scouts will find with him are that he has only started one season of college football and a lot of his stats come from screen passes where receivers run after the catch.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

Allen is the best prospect available and fills a need. Malik Jackson was the only defensive lineman who played well for the Jaguars. At six feet three inches tall and 291 pounds, Allen can play any position on the defensive line and can fit into any system.

5. Tennessee Titans- Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Adams is the most complete safety in the class. He stops the run, covers well and even hits hard. Against Ole Miss he showed he can cover good tight ends when he was matched up against Evan Engram. The Titans need to improve the pass defense if they want to make the playoffs next season, making Adams the pick.

6. New York Jets- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

It is obvious that Matt Forte isn’t the same player that he once was. The Jets need to get a play-maker and although running back isn’t their biggest need, shouldn’t pass on Fournette. Fournette can do everything required as a running back. Their offense can be dynamic with the combination of him and Forte.

7. Los Angeles Chargers- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Phillip Rivers deserves the most credit in the league for keeping his team competitive with all of his skill position players hurt and a bad offensive line. Robinson can slide right in and start protecting the aging Rivers and give him more time to make plays.

8. Carolina Panthers- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Panthers may not have had the season they wanted, but they don’t have too many needs to fill. One position they do need to upgrade is corner after not fairing so well without Josh Norman. Lattimore is a shut-down corner, who has good ball skills.

9. Cincinnati Bengals- Solomon Thomas, DE/DT, Stanford

When Cincinnati was at their best, they rushed the passer well. Michael Johnson no longer does that well, so he needs to be upgraded. Thomas is a well rounded defensive end, who is as good at stopping the run as he is rushing the passer.

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

Malik Hooker

The Bills have a lot of uncertainty at safety with Aaron Williams, but Adams could be the pick anyways. Hooker is a ball-hawk who has great coverage skills, but needs to provide more run support.

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

The Saints need defensive help wherever they can get it. Improving the pass rush will be an easy decision if they see Derek Barnett on the board. Barnett is one of the best pass rushers in the class and can also help stop the run at an average level.

12. Cleveland Browns- 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.

13. Arizona Cardinals- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

This is a great value pick for the Cardinals, as Humphrey is a top ten talent. The pick also fills a need with Arizona’s secondary not playing as well as in previous seasons.

14. Indianapolis Colts- Adoree Jackson, CB, USC

Indianapolis needs to start playing better defense to give Andrew Luck a chance to win games. Jackson is one of the fastest players in the entire class and almost qualified for the track and field team in the Olympics this summer. He is a shut down corner, who plays like Deion Sanders. The most impressive thing he does is slow down to bait the quarterback into throwing a pass and then speed up to intercept it.

15. Philadelphia Eagles- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Cook and Fournette are really close in terms of who is the better running back. Cook is elusive and quick. He provides a real weapon out of the backfield as a receiver. The Eagles need a running back, and help elsewhere, in order to enhance Carson Wentz’s development.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Quincy Wilson, CB Florida

Quincy Wilson

The Ravens have a lot of options with this pick, but taking a corner will help shut down receivers in the AFC North like A.J. Green and Antonio Brown. Wilson is a tall corner, who has good speed. He isn’t the best in run support and is suseptible to pass interference calls.

17. Washington Redskins- Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

Washington has other needs, but McDowell could really bolster their defensive line and be a great value pick. McDowell can rush the passer, but his main impact will be helping out a bad Washington run defense.

18. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

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. Mariota needs a go to receiver to throw to and the Titans ma have to take one earlier than expected.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida

Secondary play is where the Bucs fall short. Fortunately for them this class has a lot of good secondary players. Tabor has fallen down draft boards, which may have come at the expense of teammate Quincy Wilson’s improved stock. Lock down coverage is Tabor’s best asset, but he also has good ball skills once passes come his way.

20. Denver Broncos- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

John Elway has to find a new right tackle as Donald Stephenson isn’t the answer. McGlinchey played left tackle this season, but was more successful as a right tackle during his college career.

21. Detroit Lions- Chris Wormley, DE/DT, Michigan

Chris Wormley

Detroit defied the odds to make the playoffs, but their defense needs a lot of work. Interior defensive line play was bad. Wormley can play defensive tackle in their scheme and be an absolute force in the middle of the defensive line.

22. Miami Dolphins- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

The Dolphins need to spend some picks on their secondary and their defensive line this year and Jones can compete for a starting job. He is a great cover corner, who grew a lot his last year in college and has the potential to grow even more at the next level

23. New York Giants- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

It seems like every year the Giants need linebackers, but they hardly address those issues. Cunningham is tall and lanky, but makes plays. He is a tackle machine that can vastly improve the run defense.

24. Oakland Raiders- Jabrill Peppers, CB/LB/S, Michigan

The Raiders’ defense wasn’t good this season. They have to get better to help Derek Carr and the high-powered offense win games. Peppers can be successful at any position in the back seven of the defense and will give the Raiders a lot of flexibility and a good player behind Khalil Mack.

25. Houston Texans- Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

Quarterback play has been an issue, so they may go for one here, but the offensive line hasn’t performed either. If they want to build a good offense, it starts in the trenches. Ramczyk is a good run blocker, but needs to improve his pass blocking. He can fit in at right tackle for the Texans.

26. Seattle Seahawks- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

It is the same story, but a different day for Seattle. Their offensive line is atrocious. Quenton Nelson is a solid prospect who can help out on the interior of the offensive line. He will be the selection if there aren’t any tackles good enough to get drafted in this range.

27. Kansas City Chiefs- Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

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. The Chiefs can draft the receivers, but ultimately Alex Smith has to throw it to them to make this pick worthwhile.

28. Dallas Cowboys- John Ross, WR, Washington

John Ross

The Cowboys’ defense needs to be addressed, but they could also find a good target to go on the opposite side of the field of Dez Bryant. Terrance Williams could be upgraded and has yet to sign a deal for next season. Ross is really fast and can stretch the field for the offense.

29. Green Bay Packers- Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

Aaron Rodgers will always have the offense rolling, so the defense needs to start getting more stops. The secondary was awful. Conley is one of many talented corners in this class that can have an immediate impact.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

The Steeler pass rush hasn’t been the same recently. Jarvis Jones is a bust and James Harrison can’t play forever. Harris is a good edge rusher that can, at the very least, push the veterans with some competition and provide depth.

31. Atlanta Falcons- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Jacob Tamme is a decent tight end, but he isn’t great. Levine Toilolo hasn’t proven that he can be the starter. Matt Ryan would love the addition of Howard, who would just add to the number of targets he has. The Falcons could, and probably should go defense here, but Howard may be too good to pass up.

32. New England Patriots- Caleb Brantley, DE, Florida

New England’s front seven has been depleted the past couple of seasons. They will need to make up for players traded and ones that are still on the team, but aging. Brantley can help provide depth on the interior of the defensive line.

For more mock drafts: DC Pro Sports Report

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Franchise Analysis – Oakland Raiders

Depending on the media outlets you follow, the Oakland Raiders’ success in 2016 may or may not have surprised you. Every year, a few teams are able to take the next step and get into the postseason. Today, let’s look into one team who was able to push into the playoffs in 2016, with some Oakland Raiders analysis.

But why was 2016 the year for the Raiders? Well, it was the accumulation of prudent free agent signings, smart and fortuitous drafting and patience. So, what do the Raiders need to do in 2017 to catapult themselves to the top of the AFC West?

2016 Evaluation – Offense

The Oakland Raiders quickly burst onto the scene as one of the most exciting NFL offenses. Led by Derek Carr, they finished as the seventh-ranked offense in terms of points and sixth in terms of yards. Other than improved play by Carr, what other factors allowed this offense to blossom in 2016?

A common theme in most of my analysis is the focus on every team’s offensive line. This was the second-most impacted factor in this season’s offensive success. They were one of the best line units in all of football.

Oakland Raiders analysis

Derek Carr had a breakout year in 2016 by entering the NFL MVP conversation and will look to improve on his success in 2017 (Courtesy of; sportsnaut.com).

Why? Because this franchise spends the second most cap space on their offensive line in the NFL. This unit accounts for over 23% of their cap space at $37.5 million. Acquiring Kelechi Osemele and Rodney Hudson in free agency and drafting Gabe Jackson were critical to this team’s breakout performance in 2016.

For some perspective, this unit allowed the least amount of sacks in the NFL with 18. That is absolutely incredible. Some defensive players will amass more sacks by themselves than the Raiders allowed as a unit. So, if the offensive line doesn’t need improvement, what does Oakland need to do to take the next step in 2017?

While this offense was entertaining to watch and scored a lot of points, they didn’t do it by attacking down the field. Carr often targeted Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree with short and intermediate throws of 15-25 yards.

For example, Carr completed 50 passes of 20 yards or more in 2016, but only eight passes of 40 or more yards, according to NFL.com. Surprisingly, Carr had a lower yards per attempt mark than Alex Smith and Andy Dalton with just 7.03. While they had great offensive success, the Raiders offense can ascend to another level in 2017.

2016 Evaluation – Defense

It was evident to even the most fair weather of Raiders’ fans, if those even exist, that this defense struggled to play consistently at an just an average level. As a whole, this defense finished 20th in points and 26th in yards. Based on this team’s personality, it will be hard for this defense to ascend into the top-10 category.

Because their offense can score so effectively, they will have to get better against teams in “comeback mode”. Meaning, by mid-third quarter, the opposition will have to throw their way back into the game.

Oakland Raiders analysis

Ever since the Raiders drafted Khalil Mack with the number two overall pick, he’s proved his worth, but he can’t play all 11 defensive positions (Courtesy of; Endzonescore.com).

Given this situation, the Raiders can better in of two ways. They can pair Khalil Mack with another pass rusher to pressure the quarterback. Or, they could invest in their secondary, giving the players they already have more time to accumulate sacks.

The Raiders would be best served to target defensive linemen, given that they finished dead last in the NFL with only 25 sacks.

Ideally, they should look to upgrade Denico Autry for their base defense. Autry wasn’t able to excel in stopping the run or applying pressure.

It was unfortunate what happened to Mario Edwards Jr. and how he was unable to build upon the productivity of his rookie season. If he returns healthy, maybe Edwards Jr. could a suitable replacement for Autry.

If you disagree and think the Raiders should look to strengthen their secondary, I have no issue with that either.

They could look to upgrade D.J. Hayden as the slot corner. Hayden’s injury history and inability to improve over his first four seasons needs to be addressed.

With all the talent at corner in free agency and the draft, the Oakland Raiders have plenty of options available to them.

Divisional Analysis

The Oakland Raiders were in control of this division for the majority of 2016. Barring an injury to their best player, I believe they would have won the AFC West. The Raiders need to add players this offseason that will help them challenge the Kansas City Chiefs for AFC West supremacy.

I think we can sum up where the Raiders need to allocate the majority of their resources with one word- defense. As stated earlier, they could address their aerial deficiencies by improving their secondary, or pass rush.

If they used free agency to address their needs, the top players. Calais Campbell, Kawann Short, Trumaine Johnson and A.J. Bouye headline this years class. Of course, that’s assuming they aren’t resigned to their current teams.

If they wanted to address these needs with young talent by way of the NFL Draft, there are also a bevy of options. At the defensive line position, it is possible that Chris Wormley from Michigan will be available. Or, in true Raiders fashion, they could draft a physical freak like Tanoh Kpassagnon from Villanova in the third round or later.

If they wanted to address their secondary, they could potentially select Jalen Tabor from Florida or Sidney Jones from Washington. It’s also possible that these players will warrant trading up for, as there are teams ahead of the Raiders with similar needs. Overall, a solid defensively focused draft and prudent free agent signings could make this Oakland Raiders defense look drastically different in 2017.

PostSeason Prospects

This section is largely irrelevant for teams that have made the playoffs. But, it still serves as a good measuring stick for critical areas that need improvement. Below are, in my opinion, the most relevant offensive and defensive statistics that can determine post season success and where the Oakland Raiders stack up.

Oakland Raiders analysis

As you can see, the Raiders offense wasn’t perfect. For all the success Derek Carr had, I was genuinely surprised to see where he and the offense ranked in yards per attempt. Now, he did injure his finger and that limited the amount of downfield throws he could make.

Maybe next year, with a clean bill of health, this number will increase. This could be the result of an underrated rushing attack and the possession receivers Carr is targeting. Also, the Raiders need to become more efficient on third down against secondaries like Denver and Kansas City.

Oakland Raiders analysis

Even with a healthy Derek Carr and a divisional title, I don’t think the Oakland Raiders would have gotten past the Steelers. Why? Because of this defense. Sure, they probably would have capitalized on some errant throws by Ben Roethlisberger, but that isn’t enough.

Methodical, consistent defense is the goal once you reach the post season. Sadly, nothing about these defensive metrics say consistency. They must find a way to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks; and find a way to limit teams to field goals, not touchdowns. While the situation may look bleak, this defense can look completely different in 2017 after signing and drafting defensive players.

2017 Prediction

You may have noticed there’s one looming issue I haven’t addressed yet. The potential move to Las Vegas. Honestly, I have no idea how or if the move would effect this team. Given their veteran coach, general manager and rising quarterback, the impact will be minimized if they are approved to move.

If the organization makes prudent free agent and draft decisions that are focused on the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders will take the next step. I like the Raiders to finish 12-4 again, but this time, as champions of the AFC West.

 

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2017 NFL Mock Draft January 24

2017 NFL Mock Draft

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

The Browns reportedly have a very high grade on Garrett and are not targeting a quarterback with their first pick. Garrett is the premier pass rusher in college football, but has also proven to be a good run defender as well. Cleveland has to acquire talent all over their roster, so they need to take the best player available, who is Garrett.

2. San Francisco 49ers- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

San Francisco has a lot of needs, including a new coach. 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.

3. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Matt Barkley has played better than expected, but the Bears will still need a new quarterback. Trubisky has protected the football very well, with the exception of a couple of games. Issues that scouts will find with him are that he has only started one season of college football and a lot of his stats come from screen passes where receivers run after the catch.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

Allen is the best prospect available and fills a need. Malik Jackson was the only defensive lineman who played well for the Jaguars. At six feet three inches tall and 291 pounds, Allen can play any position on the defensive line and can fit into any system.

5. Tennessee Titans- Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Adams is the most complete safety in the class. He stops the run, covers well and even hits hard. Against Ole Miss he showed he can cover good tight ends when he was matched up against Evan Engram. The Titans need to improve the pass defense if they want to make the playoffs next season, making Adams the pick.

6. New York Jets- Derek Barnett, DE, Tenessee

The Jets finished the season with just 29 sacks. Their secondary needs improvement, but improving the pass rush will help the secondary. Barnett is one of the best pass rushers in the class and can also help stop the run at an average level.

7. San Diego Chargers- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Phillip Rivers deserves the most credit in the league for keeping his team competitive with all of his skill position players hurt and a bad offensive line. Robinson can slide right in and start protecting the aging Rivers and give him more time to make plays.

8. Carolina Panthers- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Cam Newton and Leonard Fournette in the same backfield may be too much, but Jonathan Stewart is wearing down. Fournette can do everything required as a running back and help take some carries away from Newton. Their offense can be dynamic with the combination of the two.

9. Cincinnati Bengals- Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

When Cincinnati was at their best, they rushed the passer well. Michael Johnson no longer does that well, so he needs to be upgraded. Thomas is a well rounded defensive end, who is as good at stopping the run as he is rushing the passer.

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

Malik Hooker

The Bills have a lot of uncertainty at safety with Aaron Williams, but Adams could be the pick anyways. Hooker is a ball-hawk who has great coverage skills, but needs to provide more run support.

11. New Orleans Saints- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama

The Saints need defensive help wherever they can get it. Improving the pass rush will be an easy decision if they see Tim Williams on the board. He has played better against the pass this season too, which will make him more desirable.

12. Cleveland Browns- 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.

13. Arizona Cardinals- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

This is a great value pick for the Cardinals, as Humphrey is a top ten talent. The pick also fills a need with Arizona’s secondary not playing as well as in previous seasons.

14. Indianapolis Colts- Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC

Indianapolis needs to start playing better defense to give Andrew Luck a chance to win games. Jackson is one of the fastest players in the entire class and almost qualified for the track and field team in the Olympics this summer. He is a shut down corner, who plays like Deion Sanders. The most impressive thing he does is slow down to bait the quarterback into throwing a pass and then speed up to intercept it.

15. Philadelphia Eagles- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Cook and Fournette are really close in terms of who is the better running back. Cook is elusive and quick. He provides a real weapon out of the backfield as a receiver. The Eagles need a running back, and help elsewhere, in order to enhance Carson Wentz’s development.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Quincy Wilson, CB Florida

Quincy Wilson

The Ravens have a lot of options with this pick, but taking a corner will help shut down receivers in the AFC North like A.J. Green and Antonio Brown. Wilson is a tall corner, who has good speed. He isn’t the best in run support and is suseptible to pass interference calls.

17. Washington Redskins- Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

Washington has other needs, but McDowell could really bolster their defensive line and be a great value pick. McDowell can rush the passer, but his main impact will be helping out a bad Washington run defense.

18. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

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. Mariota needs a go to receiver to throw to and the Titans ma have to take one earlier than expected.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

Secondary play is where the Bucs fall short. Fortunately for them this class has a lot of good secondary players. Lattimore is a shut-down corner, who has good ball skills.

20. Denver Broncos- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

John Elway has to find a new right tackle as Donald Stephenson isn’t the answer. McGlinchey played left tackle this season, but was more successful as a right tackle during his college career.

21. Detroit Lions- Chris Wormley, DE/DT, Michigan

Chris Wormley

Detroit defied the odds to make the playoffs, but their defense needs a lot of work. Interior defensive line play was bad. Wormley can play defensive tackle in their scheme and be an absolute force in the middle of the defensive line.

22. Miami Dolphins- Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida

Tabor has fallen down draft boards, which may have come at the expense of teammate Quincy Wilson’s improved stock. Lock down coverage is Tabor’s best asset, but he also has good ball skills once passes come his way. The Dolphins need to spend some picks on their secondary and their defensive line this year and Tabor can compete for a starting job.

23. New York Giants- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

It seems like every year the Giants need linebackers, but they hardly address those issues. Cunningham is tall and lanky, but makes plays. He is a tackle machine that can vastly improve the run defense.

24. Oakland Raiders- Jabrill Peppers, CB/LB/S, Michigan

The Raiders’ defense wasn’t good this season. They have to get better to help Derek Carr and the high-powered offense win games. Peppers can be successful at any position in the back seven of the defense and will give the Raiders a lot of flexibility and a good player behind Khalil Mack.

25. Houston Texans- Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

Quarterback play has been an issue, so they may go for one here, but the offensive line hasn’t performed either. If they want to build a good offense, it starts in the trenches. Ramczyk is a good run blocker, but needs to improve his pass blocking. He can fit in at right tackle for the Texans.

26. Seattle Seahawks- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

It is the same story, but a different day for Seattle. Their offensive line is atrocious. Quenton Nelson is a solid prospect who can help out on the interior of the offensive line. He will be the selection if there aren’t any tackles good enough to get drafted in this range.

27. Green Bay Packers- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

McCaffrey sat out his bowl game and will now have to see if his draft stock falls. As of now, he could be a great fit for the Packers, who are playing Ty Montgomery, a wide receiver, at running back. Even when Eddie Lacy comes back, he hasn’t performed enough to keep his job. McCaffrey can run in between the tackles, but Aaron Rodgers will love his ability as a receiver.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

The Steeler pass rush hasn’t been the same recently. Jarvis Jones is a bust and James Harrison can’t play forever. Harris is a good edge rusher that can, at the very least, push the veterans with some competition and provide depth.

29. Atlanta Falcons- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Jacob Tamme is a decent tight end, but he isn’t great. Levine Toilolo hasn’t proven that he can be the starter. Matt Ryan would love the addition of Howard, who would just add to the number of targets he has. The Falcons could, and probably should go defense here, but Howard may be too good to pass up.

30. Kansas City Chiefs- Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

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. The Chiefs can draft the receivers, but ultimately Alex Smith has to throw it to them to make this pick worthwhile.

31. Dallas Cowboys- John Ross, WR, Washington

John Ross

The Cowboys’ defense needs to be addressed, but they could also find a good target to go on the opposite side of the field of Dez Bryant. Terrance Williams could be upgraded and has yet to sign a deal for next season. Ross is really fast and can stretch the field for the offense.

32. New England Patriots- Caleb Brantley, DE, Florida

New England’s front seven has been depleted the past couple of seasons. They will need to make up for players traded and ones that are still on the team, but aging. Brantley can help provide depth on the interior of the defensive line.

For more mock drafts: DC Pro Sports Report

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2017 NFL Mock Draft January 12

2017 NFL Mock Draft

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

The Browns reportedly have a very high grade on Garrett and are not targeting a quarterback with their first pick. Garrett is the premier pass rusher in college football, but has also proven to be a good run defender as well. Cleveland has to acquire talent all over their roster, so they need to take the best player available, who is Garrett.

2. San Francisco 49ers- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

San Francisco has a lot of needs, including a new coach. 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.

3. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Matt Barkley has played better than expected, but the Bears will still need a new quarterback. Trubisky has protected the football very well, with the exception of a couple of games. Issues that scouts will find with him are that he has only started one season of college football and a lot of his stats come from screen passes where receivers run after the catch.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

Allen is the best prospect available and fills a need. Malik Jackson was the only defensive lineman who played well for the Jaguars. At six feet three inches tall and 291 pounds, Allen can play any position on the defensive line and can fit into any system.

5. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

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. Mariota needs a go to receiver to throw to and the Titans ma have to take one earlier than expected.

6. New York Jets- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama

The Jets finished the season with just 29 sacks. Their secondary needs improvement, but improving the pass rush will help the secondary. Williams will fit in great in the Jets’ 3-4 defense. He has played better against the pass this season too, which will make him more desirable.

7. San Diego Chargers- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Phillip Rivers deserves the most credit in the league for keeping his team competitive with all of his skill position players hurt and a bad offensive line. Robinson can slide right in and start protecting the aging Rivers and give him more time to make plays.

8. Carolina Panthers- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Cam Newton and Leonard Fournette in the same backfield may be too much, but Jonathan Stewart is wearing down. Fournette can do everything required as a running back and help take some carries away from Newton. Their offense can be dynamic with the combination of the two.

9. Cincinnati Bengals- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

When Cincinnati was at their best, they rushed the passer well. Michael Johnson no longer does that well, so he needs to be upgraded. Barnett is one of the best pass rushers in the class and can also help stop the run at an average level.

10. Buffalo Bills- Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Adams is the most complete safety in the class. He stops the run, covers well and even hits hard. Against Ole Miss he showed he can cover tight ends when he was matched up against Evan Engram. The Bills have a lot of uncertainty at safety with Aaron Williams, but Adams could be the pick anyways.

11. New Orleans Saints- Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

The Saints need defensive help wherever they can get it. Improving the pass rush will be an easy decision if they see Solomon Thomas on the board. Thomas is a well rounded defensive end, who is as good at stopping the run as he is rushing the passer.

12. Cleveland Browns- Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

While Mike Williams was the best player for Clemson, 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.

13. Arizona Cardinals- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

This is a great value pick for the Cardinals, as Humphrey is a top ten talent. The pick also fills a need with Arizona’s secondary not playing as well as in previous seasons.

14. Indianapolis Colts- Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC

Indianapolis needs to start playing better defense to give Andrew Luck a chance to win games. Jackson is one of the fastest players in the entire class and almost qualified for the track and field team in the Olympics this summer. He is a shut down corner, who plays like Deion Sanders. The most impressive thing he does is slow down to bait the quarterback into throwing a pass and then speed up to intercept it.

15. Philadelphia Eagles- Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

The Eagles defense was a lot better this season, but could still use some help at the corner position. Florida has plenty of good defensive players, but Wilson is the one who has risen up draft boards the most.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

If Cook falls to Baltimore, which he may not, the Ravens will be all over him. They need a good running back to help make that offense more dynamic. Cook and Fournette are really close in terms of who is the better running back. Joe Flacco will have an extra receiving target, while the running game should see a huge boost too.

17. Washington Redskins- Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

Washington has other needs, but McDowell could really bolster their defensive line and be a great value pick. McDowell can rush the passer, but his main impact will be helping out a bad Washington run defense.

18. Tennessee Titans- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Titans already have a great receiver drafted to help Mariota, now they need to help their secondary. Lattimore was the best corner back in the Big Ten this season and can start immediately to help Tennessee’s horrid pass defense.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Secondary play is where the Bucs fall short, especially at safety. Fortunately for them this class has a lot of good safeties. Hooker is a ball-hawk who has great coverage skills, but needs to provide more run support.

20. Denver Broncos- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

John Elway has to find a new right tackle as Donald Stephenson isn’t the answer. McGlinchey played left tackle this season, but was more successful as a right tackle during his college career.

21. Detroit Lions- Chris Wormley, DE/DT, Michigan

Detroit defied the odds to make the playoffs, but their defense needs a lot of work. Interior defensive line play was bad. Wormley can play defensive tackle in their scheme and be an absolute force in the middle of the defensive line.

22. Miami Dolphins- Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida

Tabor has fallen down draft boards, which may have come at the expense of teammate Quincy Wilson’s improved stock. Lock down coverage is Tabor’s best asset, but he also has good ball skills once passes come his way. The Dolphins need to spend some picks on their secondary and their defensive line this year and Tabor can compete for a starting job.

23. New York Giants- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

It seems like every year the Giants need linebackers, but they hardly address those issues. Cunningham is tall and lanky, but makes plays. He is a tackle machine that can vastly improve the run defense.

24. Oakland Raiders- Jabrill Peppers, CB/LB/S, Michigan

The Raiders’ defense wasn’t good this season. They have to get better to help Derek Carr and the high-powered offense win games. Peppers can be successful at any position in the back seven of the defense and will give the Raiders a lot of flexibility and a good player behind Khalil Mack.

25. Houston Texans- Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

Quarterback play has been an issue, so they may go for one here, but the offensive line hasn’t performed either. If they want to build a good offense, it starts in the trenches. Ramczyk is a good run blocker, but needs to improve his pass blocking. He can fit in at right tackle for the Texans.

26. Seattle Seahawks- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

It is the same story, but a different day for Seattle. Their offensive line is atrocious. Quenton Nelson is a solid prospect who can help out on the interior of the offensive line. He will be the selection if there aren’t any tackles good enough to get drafted in this range.

27. Green Bay Packers- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

McCaffrey sat out his bowl game and will now have to see if his draft stock falls. As of now, he could be a great fit for the Packers, who are playing Ty Montgomery, a wide receiver, at running back. Even when Eddie Lacy comes back, he hasn’t performed enough to keep his job. McCaffrey can run in between the tackles, but Aaron Rodgers will love his ability as a receiver.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

The Steeler pass rush hasn’t been the same recently. Jarvis Jones is a bust and James Harrison can’t play forever. Harris is a good edge rusher that can, at the very least, push the veterans with some competition and provide depth.

29. Atlanta Falcons- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Jacob Tamme is a decent tight end, but he isn’t great. Levine Toilolo hasn’t proven that he can be the starter. Matt Ryan would love the addition of Howard, who would just add to the number of targets he has. The Falcons could, and probably should go defense here, but Howard may be too good to pass up.

30. Kansas City Chiefs- Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

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. The Chiefs can draft the receivers, but ultimately Alex Smith has to throw it to them to make this pick worthwhile.

31. Dallas Cowboys- John Ross, WR, Washington

The Cowboys’ defense needs to be addressed, but they could also find a good target to go on the opposite side of the field of Dez Bryant. Terrance Williams could be upgraded and has yet to sign a deal for next season. Ross is really fast and can stretch the field for the offense.

32. New England Patriots- Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois

New England’s front seven has been depleted the past couple of seasons. They will need to make up for players traded and ones that are still on the team, but aging. Smoot can provide good depth at defensive end.

 

For more mock drafts: DC Pro Sports Report

 

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NFL Draft Prospects to Watch in the 2016 Orange Bowl

The Orange Bowl features two of the teams with the most NFL-ready talent in college football. Jim Harbaugh has the Michigan defense filled with prospects, while Florida State is always loaded with good players. Here are the best prospects from the Orange Bowl:

Michigan Wolverines

Jabrill Peppers, LB/CB/S

Projected Draft Range: Top 15

Peppers is the most versatile player in college football. He has played linebacker, corner back, safety, running back, quarterback, wide receiver and returner. Peppers is great at the fundamentals and has good speed. The only question with him is his ball skills, as he only has one interception in his college career. He is also a “tweener”, player without a true position, which may scare teams away.

Taco Charlton, DE

Projected Draft Range: First round-third round

Charlton is a great pass rusher with 8.5 sacks on the season. He has great size, at six feet six inches and 272, and athletic ability to go with it. Charlton isn’t the greatest at stopping the run, so he needs to show he can do that against Florida State.

Jake Butt, TE

Projected Draft Range: First round-third round

Orange Bowl

Jake Butt

Butt has great size at six feet six inches tall and 250 pounds. He isn’t the fastest, but is a secure target. His average of 12 yards per catch is a testament to him getting open over the middle. His blocking is good for a tight end and should improve with time in the NFL. Teams will like him as a good, solid receiver.

Chris Wormley, DT

Projected Draft Range: First round-second round

If a team runs a 4-3 scheme and needs a defensive tackle, Wormley will fit right in. He has good size at six feet six inches and 302 pounds. Wormley is great at defending the run, but is also a decent pass rusher for a defensive tackle. He has six sacks on the season. His interior play makes the players around him better.

Florida State Seminoles

Dalvin Cook, RB

Projected Draft Range: First round-second round

Orange Bowl

Dalvin Cook (Photo courtesy: bostonherald.com)

Cook is a great speed back. He uses his vision to find the right hole, then uses his lightning speed to hit the hole hard and leave defenders in the dust. His moves are also good and he gets good tacklers to miss often. Cook is a good receiver out of the backfield making him a threat in many ways. He has been plagued by injuries, which he played through as a sophomore, which could hurt his stock.

Demarcus Walker, DE

Projected Draft Range: Second round-third round

Walker is one of the premier pass rushers in college football with 15 sacks. He uses his speed and strength to get by blockers. In the NFL he can probably play in just about any scheme. Walker needs to work on his run support as he doesn’t always show good gap integrity.

Roderick Johnson, OT

Projected Draft Range: Second round-third round

Johnson had the capability to be the first tackle to be selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. He didn’t have the best season pass-blocking so he will move down a lot of teams’ boards. Fortunately, Johnson is a great run blocker. He can play either tackle spot, increasing his value. His hands will be full, as he takes on a very tough Michigan defensive front.

 

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2016 Capital One Orange Bowl Preview

Michigan was a couple seconds and a Big Ten Championship Game away from going to the College Football Playoff. Florida State had a few tough losses, but rebounded well. These two teams meet in an interesting and exciting game for the 2016 Capital One Orange Bowl.

Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines won their first nine games, but lost two of their last three to finish at 10-2. They lost to Iowa and Ohio State, who are both solid teams. Michigan beat seven bowl eligible teams, including wins over Colorado, Penn State and Wisconsin.

Orange Bowl

Jabrill Peppers (Photo courtesy: bleacher report)

Wilton Speight had a decent season as the starting quarterback for the Wolverines. He has 2,375 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. He isn’t the reason Michigan wins many games, but also doesn’t lose games for them either.

Wide receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson provide good outside threats for Speight. They have combined for almost 1,300 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. The Wolverines also have one of the best tight ends in all of college football in Jake Butt. He has 518 yards receiving and four receiving touchdowns, but always provides a good target.

De’Veon Smith is one of the best power running backs in college football. He has 810 yards on the ground and 10 touchdowns. They have five other players with over 20 carries and all but one have average yards per rush of over five.

Michigan’s defense is what makes them great. They allow just 117 rushing yards per game and 136 passing yards per game. The Wolverines likely wouldn’t trade their defense for any other college football team’s.

Taco Charlton has 8.5 sacks on the season and teams up with Chris Wormley to create a great front. They have one of the best athletes in college football behind them in Jabrill Peppers. He is a great tackler who has great fundamentals. Jourdan Lewis is a great shut down corner behind them.

Florida State Seminoles

The Seminoles were thought to be National Championship contenders, but finished 9-3. They only lost to the class of the ACC in UNC, Clemson and Louisville. Their solid wins include USF, Miami, Wake Forest, NC State, Boston College and Florida.

Deondre Francois had a terrific freshman season for the Seminoles, despite not always having the greatest protection. He threw for 3,128 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. His mobility is also a factor with four rushing touchdowns. Francois is a play-maker who will just improve with time.

Orange Bowl

Dalvin Cook (Photo courtesy: espn.com)

For the passing game, wide receiver Travis Rudolph is the only player who has stepped up in a big way this season. Rudolph finished the regular season with 807 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Running back Dalvin Cook is one of the most dynamic play-makers in all of college football. He finished the season with 1,620 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns. Cook is fast and has good moves. In addition to rushing the football, he also is good in the receiving game with 426 yards and another touchdown.

The Seminoles are good at run defense with only 131 yards per game given up. The pass defense is average allowing 226 yards per game.

Demarcus Walker is one of the best pass rushers in the country and has 15 sacks in just 12 games. Tarvarus McFadden has the most interceptions in the country with eight. These two players have to step up in order for Florida State to win.

Prediction

Michigan’s defense will shut down Cook and the Florida State offense, while the Michigan offense will score just enough to win.

 

Michigan Wolverines 28 Florida State Seminoles 24

 

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2017 NFL Mock Draft December 14

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

The Browns reportedly have a very high grade on Garrett and are not targeting a quarterback with their first pick. Garrett is the premier pass rusher in college football, but has also proven to be a good run defender as well. Cleveland has to acquire talent all over their roster, so they need to take the best player available, who is Garrett.

2. San Francisco 49ers- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

Chip Kelly needs to attempt to find a quarterback to run his system. 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.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory haven’t been great for the Jaguars so they can get a running back who has game-changing capabilities here. Fournette can do everything required as a running back and can really help out the struggling Blake Bortles by providing a running game.

4. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Matt Barkley has played better than expected, but the Bears will still need a new quarterback. Trubisky has protected the football very well, with the exception of a couple of games. Issues that scouts will find with him are that he has only started one season of college football and a lot of his stats come from screen passes where receivers run after the catch.

5. Tennessee Titans (via LA)- Adoree Jackson, CB/WR, USC

Tennessee has two first round picks via the Jared Goff trade and have to use one of those picks on secondary help. Jackson is one of the fastest players in the entire class and almost qualified for the track and field team in the Olympics this summer. He is a shut down corner, who plays like Deion Sanders. The most impressive thing he does is slow down to bait the quarterback into throwing a pass and then speed up to intercept it.

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

Florida has plenty of good defensive players, but Wilson is the one who has risen up draft boards the most. The Jets could use a good corner as theirs are aging. Their defensive line is good so now they need to improve the secondary to make their defense better.

7. Cleveland Browns- Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama

Inside linebackers don’t usually get drafted this high, but Foster is that good. The Browns drafted their pass rusher and now can get an inside linebacker. Foster and Garrett can be the start to a decent defense if Hue Jackson is sold on starting Cody Kessler.

8. Carolina Panthers- Jonathan Allen, DT/DE, Alabama

Carolina hasn’t been the same team as last year and that starts in the trenches. Allen is the best prospect available and fills a need. The Panthers would have a dynamic defensive line heading into next season if they could score Allen, leading to another playoff run.

9. New Orleans Saints- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Saints defense gives up 27 points per game and is one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Their offense is great as usual, but if they want to win the division they need to select a corner like Lattimore.

10. San Diego Chargers- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Phillip Rivers deserves the most credit in the league for keeping his team competitive with all of his skill position players hurt and a bad offensive line. Robinson can slide right in and start protecting the aging Rivers and give him more time to make plays.

11. Cincinnati Bengals- Jabrill Peppers, CB/S/LB, Michigan

The Bengals defense has a lot of deficiencies and Peppers can fill in at several different positions. He has been successful at corner and safety for his career and done well at linebacker this season. He could fit in wherever the Bengals feel they have the biggest hole and be productive.

12. Arizona Cardinals- Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

Calais Campbell can’t play forever and at the very least McDowell can play alongside him. McDowell is a great run stopper and often takes up two blockers when opponents try to pass.

13. Indianapolis Colts- Jamal Adams, S, LSU

The Colts defense is an absolute mess, but they really need safeties. Adams is the best one in the class and has proven to come up and play the run well. He has also shown the ability to cover elite college tight ends, which should translate well to his future role in the NFL.

14. Buffalo Bills- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Buffalo has a pretty good pass rush, but it could be better. Barnett is one of the best pass rushers in the class and can also help stop the run at an average level.

15. Philadelphia Eagles- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

The secondary play has improved since the departure of Chip Kelly, because they aren’t on the field as much, but they still aren’t great. If the Eagles can nab a corner, their defense could become elite.

16. Houston Texans- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Houston would really like a quarterback after whiffing on Brock Osweiler, but none will fit in this range. They can improve their defense though, as their corners haven’t played great this season. Jones will be an upgrade over the Texans corners from two on down.

17. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Williams is the best red zone threat in college football from the wide receiver position. He is tall and lanky, but athletic to make great catches. Mariota needs a go to receiver to throw to, if they improve their secondary with their first pick.

18. Baltimore Ravens- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

The Ravens haven’t had a good running back since Ray Rice when he was in his prime. Cook is a fast back, who can still run in between the tackles. He will also be a very valuable target for Joe Flacco out of the backfield.

19. Green Bay Packers- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

Cunningham is from Alabama, but wasn’t recruited by the big name schools in the state, so he elected to go to Vanderbilt. He is long and lanky, some say too much for an inside linebacker, but has used that to his advantage. He is a tackle machine who is great at diagnosing plays. He also had a great blocked kick, which was one of the plays of the season.

20. Washington Redskins- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

With the exception of Josh Norman, the rest of Washington’s secondary has been horrendous. White is a great corner, who also can be dynamic in the kick return game. He is a team leader who was awarded the number 18 for two straight years at LSU, which is given by the former wearers of the number.

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

The Buccaneers defensive line needs to be upgraded. Gerald Mccoy and Noah Spence have played well, but no one else has. Harris can play the opposite end of Spence and provide a good pass rusher and an average run defender.

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

Jay Ajayi and Ryan Tannehill brought their games to a new level on their win streak, but the offensive line still isn’t great. The interior of the line is the main issue that will have to be addressed. Nelson is a plug and play guy from Notre Dame who is overshadowed by McGlinchey, but has had an impressive season himself.

23. Denver Broncos- Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

Jared Crick hasn’t played well this season. Brantley cloggs up running room in the middle of the defense and can make guys like Von Miller even better.

24. Atlanta Falcons Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois

Vic Beasley is killing it this year for the Falcons, but needs a partner in crime. Smoot is a good pass rusher that can develop into a better players in the pros. The year under Lovie Smith at Illinois can’t hurt either.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers- Desmond King, CB, Iowa

There is talk of King having to switch to safety due to his lack of speed, but both positions are needs for the Steelers. King was the defensive back of the year in 2015 and was still productive this season. He has safe hands in the return game and can bust some loose. The Steelers need to stop putting Antonio Brown back for returns, as he is too valuable to get hurt.

26. Seattle Seahawks- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Seattle’s offensive line struggles have been well documented. McGlinchey’s versatility is key for the Seahawks as he has played left tackle, right tackle and could play guard if needed.

27. Detroit Lions- Chris Wormley, DE, Michigan

Wormley isn’t the greatest pass rusher, but has a great motor. He is also above average at stopping the run. His six foot six inch height and 302 pound weight will be something that NFL teams covet. The Lions’ defensive line needs some consistent production like Wormley will provide.

28. New York Giants- Carroll Phillips, DE/OLB, Illinois

The Giants’ defensive line stepped up in the Dallas game, but for now they still need help there. Phillips can be another pass rusher that can at the very least come in on third downs and help out.

29. Oakland Raiders- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Clive Walford is ok, but the position could be upgraded to provide an even more dynamic offense. O.J. Howard is under utilized at Alabama, but Derek Carr will use him to make a good offense great.

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

There may not be a faster player in college football than John Ross. The Chiefs’ offense looked a lot better with Alex Smith actually throwing the ball downfield.

31. New England Patriots- Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M

Watts is good in coverage and can also hit hard on occasion. The Patriots need to get Patrick Chung out of the lineup, as he has really struggled.

32. Dallas Cowboys- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama

The Cowboys need defensive line help yet again and can go for Williams, who was a pass rush specialist last year, but has improved against the run this year.

 

For more mock drafts: DC Pro Sports Report

 

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