Joe Flacco

NFL training camp injuries: The walking wounded

With last night’s Hall of Fame game, NFL football is officially back in our lives. While that is a beautiful thing, the injury bug is running wild through NFL training camps as it does every year. It is impossible to cover them all, but here is a summary of some early NFL training camp injuries.

Quarterbacks

While Shane Ray and a few other notable defenders will miss some time, most of the early injuries have been on the offensive side of the ball. The league’s most important position is no exception.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has a herniated disc in his back. That is really all anyone knows for sure. Reports have Flacco missing anywhere from a single week to six weeks.  The front office in Baltimore has said a lot while doing very little in regards to controversial former 49ers signal caller Colin Kaepernick.

Miami Dolphins

Photo: cbssports.com

The training camp reports on current backup Ryan Mallett have been far from glowing. Combine that with the fact the Kaepernick chatter has not exactly been squashed, and the whole situation becomes worth monitoring.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a non-contact injury to the same knee that was hurt at the end of last year. The results of his MRI showed no structural damage in the knee, however there’s no timetable for his return. Any sort of long term injury to Tannehill would be very difficult to overcome and a possible momentum killer for a franchise that surprised many by making the playoffs last year.

As far as backup quarterbacks go, Matt Moore is one of the best around. Even so, he is the backup for a reason.

Andrew Luck and Cam Newton are also not doing much early in training camp due to lingering effects from offseason surgeries.

Offensive lines

You cannot put offensive lineman on your fantasy football team. Thus, many people do not pay much attention to them. However, the offensive line is a key element to any great football team.

Quarterback is just the beginning of the issues in Baltimore. The group that will protect whoever is throwing the ball for the Ravens this year is already shuffling. Marshal Yanda has been one of the best offensive lineman in the game for the last handful of years, but he is also not fully healthy from offseason surgery.

Forrest Lamp

Photo: San Diego Union Tribune

Additionally, center/guard John Urschel suddenly retired a few days ago to further pursue his academic career. Also, rookie guard Nico Siragusa is already out for the year with a knee injury. John Harbaugh’s team may very well have to mix and match on the offensive line well into the regular season. That never turns out well.

Keeping Philip Rivers upright and away from the freakishly talented pass rushers of the AFC West has been a challenge for the Chargers in recent years. Rookie guard Forrest Lamp was supposed to help change that. However, the second-round pick is out for the year with a torn ACL.

The Ravens and Chargers already faced uphill battles in highly competitive divisions this year. Offensive line issues at the very beginning of training camp are a nightmare for any coaching staff to deal with.

Wide Receivers

The injuries are piling up elsewhere. Speedy Texans wideout Will Fuller is sidelined indefinitely with a broken collarbone. Chargers first-round pick Mike Williams may also miss extended time. The former favorite target of Deshaun Watson is dealing with a bad back.

The only thing coaches and fans should really hope for this time of year is for every player that goes down to get back up. We all know that it does not always happen that way. Training camp is our first yearly reminder of what a war of attrition the NFL can be.

 

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Houston Texans

Predicting the 2017 NFL quarterback battles

If you do not have a quarterback, you don’t have anything in the NFL. Like any other year, quarterback battles are sprinkled throughout training camps. Here is a look at the top battles to keep an eye on during the preseason.

Houston Texans

The players: Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson

Context: These first two situations are different from most quarterback battles. Whoever wins them will be inheriting a team that has realistic aspirations of playing meaningful games when the weather gets cold.

2017 nfl quarterback battles

Photo: Houston Chronicle

Houston’s top-ranked defense carried them to the playoffs last year, but quarterback play was perhaps the only real weakness all year long. Brock Osweiler was the main source of that and is now in Cleveland.

Tom Savage was pretty ordinary in spot duty last year. In three games played, he completed just 46 of 73 passes while not throwing a touchdown. He was forced back to the bench for the playoffs due to injury.

Meanwhile, Watson comes in with all the hype and the glitzy college numbers. The first-round pick led Clemson to consecutive national title games and was named the MVP of last year’s comeback win over Alabama.

While back to back seasons of double digit interceptions scare me, the winning is hard to ignore. Throw in his mobility and the recent success we have seen by other NFL rookie quarterbacks, and his upside becomes very intriguing. The roster in Houston is loaded with talent. Thus, Watson presents the highest risk, but also the highest reward and may be able to take this team to the next level.

Winner: Watson

Denver Broncos

The players: Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch

Context: Even though the players themselves are saying as much, the notion that the Broncos had some kind of massive Super Bowl hangover last year is simply not accurate. They went 9-7, meaning a couple different bounces of the ball would have resulted in at least a return to the playoffs.

2017 nfl quarterback battles

Photo: denverpoast.com

Surprise starter Trevor Siemian was by no means a disappointment in 2016. Throwing for 3,400 yards and eight more touchdowns than interceptions is nothing to sneeze at. Siemian also dealt with a shoulder injury for most of the year that required offseason surgery.

Despite winning one, Lynch was pretty bad as he started two games for an injured Siemian. He posted just 327 combined passing yards and struggled to complete half his throws. His numbers are somewhat skewed due to playing well in garbage time.

Lynch was drafted in the first round to be the franchise quarterback, but it is no secret that he was a project coming out of Memphis where he simply let it fly and never lined up under center.

Quite frankly, the project is probably coming along slower than the Broncos would like. Even so, whoever wins the job will have the benefit of playing behind a revamped offensive line, two top-notch wide receivers, a crowded but talented backfield and a defense that remains one of the best in football.

New head coach Vance Joseph has spoken very highly of Lynch this offseason, but Siemian has done nothing to lose the job. Until that happens, he is the present, even if Lynch or late-round draft pick Chad Kelly end up being the future.

Winner: Siemian

New York Jets

The players: Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg

Context: The Jets seemingly endless search for a franchise quarterback rolls on. McCown is what he is. That is a 38-year-old journeyman who has never been healthy (or good) enough to start for an entire 16-game season. He was clearly brought in to be a one-year bridge to one of the younger guys.

2017 nfl quarterback battles

Photo: nydailynews.com

A brief late-season glimpse of Bryce Petty last year was nothing to write home about. Hackenberg is where all the intrigue lies here. The former Penn State star did not see the field in his rookie year. However, he is the only guy on the current roster who could be the future at quarterback.

No matter how little offensive talent they have around him, the Jets have to explore that possibility.

Winner: Hackenberg

Cleveland Browns

The players: Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler and DeShone Kizer

Context: Hue Jackson and company have done an outstanding job adding talent to a roster that won just a single game last year. Additions like Kenny Britt, Kevin Zietler and Myles Garrett, among others have set the table for vast improvement in 2017.

2017 nfl quarterback battles

Photo: cleveland.com

Quarterback remains a major question mark though. Cody Kessler went winless in eight starts last year. DeShone Kizer was given the project label coming out of Notre Dame. The Browns say he is ahead of schedule, but it would be a surprise for him to start a game this year. Even so, his long-term upside has some folks salivating.

Despite posting a winning record as a starter in Houston, Brock Osweiler struggled in a big way after signing the big contract last year, completing just 59 percent of his throws and accounting for more turnovers than touchdowns.

Osweiler was just a bad fit from the start in Houston. He spent most of his time in the shotgun, which was not a strong point when he held down the fort quite well for the 2015 Broncos.

It has never been a work of art, but there is something to be said for going 13-8 as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Supporting casts are not created equal, but no other quarterback in this competition has ever won an NFL game. If Osweiler has anything to give, Jackson is the kind of offensive mind that will get it out of him.

Winner: Osweiler

Chicago and San Francisco

Two other shaky quarterback situations reside in Chicago and San Francisco. However, those organizations continue to articulate their commitment to Mike Glennon and Brian Hoyer respectively. As much as we all like to speculate this time of year, a quarterback competition can only exist if management says there is one.

 

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Super Bowl 52

If not the Patriots, then who in the AFC?

To call the Patriots heavy favorites to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LLI is a gross understatement. Additions like Brandin Cooks have made a team that already ran roughshod over the conference last year even better on paper heading into 2017. However, sports are a funny thing.

What if the Patriots are finally derailed by the injury bug or just simply pick a bad day to have a bad day in the playoffs? Here are four teams ready to pounce.

Kansas City Chiefs

Ever since Andy Reid came to town, the Chiefs run the ball, play solid defense and do not beat themselves. This is a good formula for winning. However, when that formula comes up against a buzz saw like New England, it is also easy to end up in too deep of an early hole.

Tyreek Hill

Photo: kansascity.com

The divisional playoff matchup between the two teams following the 2015 season was a perfect example of this. Despite holding New England to just 14 points in the first half, Kansas City managed just two field goals and never got caught up.

While Tyreek Hill has provided a much needed boost to KC’s ability to strike quickly, half of their scoring drives in last year’s playoff loss to Pittsburgh were over ten plays. While those are nice, striking quickly is almost a must against the Patriots.

Hope for the Chiefs in a matchup with New England lies in Hill and their pass rushers, led by Justin Houston. With three double digit sack seasons under his belt, Houston is more than capable of wrecking a game for Brady and company, similar to what Von Miller did on Denver’s Super Bowl 50 run.

Kansas City’s opening night matchup with the Super Bowl LI champs will be a nice measuring stick for them.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos have questions at quarterback. Ordinarily, that would disqualify them from an article like this, but the Broncos happen to be the only team Tom Brady has a losing record against.

Von Miller

Photo: dailysnark.com

Denver has beaten New England with Jake Plummer, Brock Osweiler and an aging Peyton Manning at quarterback over the years. Knowing that, why not Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch?

Denver invested most of its offseason resources into bolstering the backfield and offensive and defensive lines Thus, the two biggest weaknesses on this team have been addressed.

If the additions help Denver run the ball and stop the run consistently, Miller, Shane Ray and the rest of the defense will keep Denver in almost every game like they have for the better part of the last two seasons. Against New England, that is half the battle.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have not given the Patriots any trouble in recent years. If last year’s AFC title game was a boxing match, it would have been stopped early. The last Steelers’ victory against New England was in 2011.

However, any team that has Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell and flirts with putting up 30-plus points every time out is always dangerous. The bad news for Steeler fans is that the Steel Curtain has been made of feathers in recent meetings with the Pats. Twenty-seven points is the fewest New England has scored during its ongoing four game winning streak against Mike Tomlin’s crew.

With the cast of characters basically the same on defense, the only way Pittsburgh beats New England this year is in a shootout. It is unlikely, but not impossible. They are one of very few teams with the firepower to beat New England in that way.

Indianapolis Colts

This inclusion to the list might surprise some, but the AFC is nowhere near as deep as the NFC. Something has been off in terms of the head coach/management dynamic in Indianapolis for the last two years. General manager Ryan Grigson is gone. With former players tweeting in response to the move, one can only assume that Grigson was a significant part of the problem.

One guy who is not part of the problem is quarterback Andrew Luck. Despite near constant drama in the front office and a flawed roster, the Colts have never posted a losing record under his on-field leadership. However, they have missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons.

Staying healthy has been a challenge for Luck, but 132 touchdowns to just 68 interceptions in almost five full years as a starter are the numbers of a quarterback who can carry a team on his back. The roster still lacks elite players outside of Luck. Also, Indianapolis has been obliterated by the Patriots in two fairly recent playoff meetings.

Even so, the Colts finally fall on the right side of one of a precious few things that is always true in the NFL. If you have a stable front office and a top-notch quarterback, you have a chance every single time you take the field.

Texans and Raiders miss the cut

Two teams that many people would have expected to see in this article are the Texans and the Raiders. They were each left out for very specific reasons. Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson battling for the starting quarterback job means that the Texans will not even be able to spell Super Bowl, much less get there.

Las Vegas Raiders

Photo: USA Today

Anyone who tries to lump Denver’s quarterback situation into the same category as Houston should watch what Trevor Siemian was able to do on the road in Cincinnati and New Orleans last year. The home game against Kansas City also speaks volumes about Siemian’s potential.

As for the Raiders, it is also fairly simple. Derek Carr is no doubt a special quarterback. Despite that, Oakland’s ongoing stadium and relocation drama is worthy of its own article. It is hard not to see it dragging down the on-field product.

Also, even when they were the talk of the league last year, the Raiders still led the world in penalties and got shredded by the opposing quarterback almost every week.

 

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Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

Football is right around the corner and The Game Haus is going to get you ready for the 2017-18 NFL season. The Super Bowl series is going to explain how every team in the NFL can win Super Bowl LII. The Super Bowl series will be divided into eight editions, one for each division. This is the sixth edition, Super Bowl series: AFC South.

Houston Texans

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

(Photo Credit: http://cover32.com)

The Houston Texans have finished 9-7 for three straight years. Last season, it was enough to win the division but the Texans should be striving for better.

Houston has been led by its defense and has been a quarterback away from being one of the best teams in the NFL. That is why they took a shot on Deshaun Watson in this year’s draft. Houston is very close to winning a Super Bowl so explaining how they can win it this season will be relatively simple.

Houston’s defense is nothing short of elite. J.J. Watt only played in three games last season which may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Watt’s injury allowed Jadeveon Clowney to finally show signs of stardom. Clowney made some amazing plays against the Raiders in the playoffs, to the point where it looked like he was taking over the game. With Watt returning, the combination of these two great defenders may push Houston’s defense to legendary status.

The Texans gave up the fewest yards per game last season, allowing teams to just over 300 yards per game. Unfortunately, that didn’t always stop teams from scoring on them. Houston gave up 20.5 points per game last season, which ranked 11th in the NFL. They also struggled closing out halves giving up 7.4 points per second quarter and seven points per fourth quarter.

If the Texans can do a better job at closing out halves, their defense will take the next step. They must also replace nose tackle Vince Wilfork, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Quinton Demps in order to continue being an elite defense. Houston must also do a better job at creating turnovers. They only had 1.1 takeaways per game.

Houston’s offense is the part of the team that needs the most work. The offensive unit ranked at the bottom of most offensive categories including points per game (17.4, ranking 29th), points per game in the first half (7.6, ranking 32nd), yards per game (314.7, ranking 29th), third down conversions (37.3 percent, ranking 22nd) and passing yards (198.5, ranking 29th). The lack of success from the offense resulted in the Texans drafting Watson and trading Brock Osweiler.

If it wasn’t for Houston’s run game, its offense would have been one of the worst of all time. The Texans ran for 116.2 yards per game on the 28.5 attempts per game. Lamar Miller was a bright spot on this offense as he ran for 1,073 yards and five touchdowns on just 268 carries. He needs to build on this season to help whoever lines up under center. This may be difficult with the loss of right tackle Derek Newton who is out for the season with patellar tendon tears.

If the Texans can go from one of the league’s worst offenses to being one of the top 15, then this defense will be able to carry Houston to a Super Bowl LII victory.

Tennessee Titans

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

(Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Titans finished the season tied with the Texans at 9-7 but lost the division on tiebreakers. Marcus Mariota broke his leg in week 15 and the Titans lost to the Jaguars 38-17 in that contest. Had the Titans won that game, they would have won the division. Mariota is young but the Titans can go as far as he will lead them.

Marcus Mariota is becoming the face of the franchise but part of his success is due to the sustainable running game of the Titans. Tennessee ranked third in the NFL with 136.7 yards per game on the ground. They also ran the ball often, averaging 28.5 attempts per game. This effective running game has taken the pressure off of their young quarterback which has given him the opportunity to succeed.

Taking the next step means giving Mariota receivers that will allow him to improve on the Titans 25th-ranked passing attack. Tennessee drafted Corey Davis and signed Eric Decker to be that help. The Titans’ coaching staff must now open the playbook and allow Mariota to take charge of the offense.

He has shown to be a great decision maker already in his career. Mariota converted at the third-best rate in the NFL on third down last year. He also has helped the Titans to a 72 percent conversion rate in red zone scoring while never throwing a red zone interception in his career.

Aside from continuing to dominate the run game and opening up the passing attack for Mariota, Tennessee needs to do a much better job of scoring in the second half. The Titans ranked 23rd in second half scoring, averaging 9.7 points. Shoring up these loose ends will turn the Titans’ offense into a playoff-caliber offense.

Defensively, the Titans are much closer to Super Bowl caliber. Tennesse only gave up 23.6 points per game which may seem impressive considering its defense got off to such slow starts. The Titans ranked 29th in first quarter points allowed. Getting off to quicker starts will bring that 23.6 point total down and result in more wins.

Tennessee had a horrible secondary last season. Their pass defense was the third-worst in the NFL. The Titans addressed this problem in the offseason. They let go of Jason McCourty but drafted cornerback Adoree Jackson and signed defensive backs Logan Ryan and John Cyprien. The combination of these three players can help the Titans catch up to their second-ranked rush defense.

If the Titans allow Mariota to sling the rock more then the offense can become more balanced. Defensively, the Titans secondary must give up less than 250 yards a game through the air. Simply doing these two things, in addition to what the Titans already do well, will push Tennessee from fringe playoff team to Super Bowl contender.

Indianapolis Colts

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

(Photo Credit: Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

The story of the Colts’ failures are well documented. Their defense is pathetic and they are contributing to wasting away Andrew Luck’s career. Indianapolis went 8-8 last season and has missed the playoffs for two consecutive years. In order for the Colts to really have a shot at winning Super Bowl LII, they need this defense to become much better.

The Colts have finally begun to realize they need to address the defense. In the draft, the Colts selected safety Malik Hooker who many believe is the next Ed Reed and cornerback Quincy Wilson.

During free agency, the Colts signed numerous defenders that will fit in with the new 3-4 scheme. These players include defensive ends Margus Hunt, Jabaal Sheard and John Simon along with linebackers Sean Spence and Jon Bostic.

This complete change in scheme and personnel is what is supposed to cure a defense that ranked 22nd in points allowed. Indianapolis’ defense didn’t have a strength. They ranked 27th against the pass (269.2 yards per game) and 25th against the run (120.4 yards per game) for a total of 382.9 yards allowed per game. The unit as a whole must improve if the Colts are to have a shot at making the playoffs.

On the other side of the ball, the Colts are led by a great quarterback. Andrew Luck has put up impressive numbers so far, with 19,078 yards, 132 touchdowns and just 68 interceptions but needs more balance. Indianapolis only ran the ball 39 percent of the time for an average of 101.8 yards per game. Frank Gore did rush for over 1,000 yards last season but he is 34 years old. The Colts drafted running back Marlon Mack as a possible spell or replacement for Gore.

Even with their unbalanced offense, the Colts managed to put up 25.7 points per game last season, good for eighth best in the league. Adding a rushing attack will only improve the offense, thus the team’s chances at a Lombardi Trophy. If the defense comes around to being a top 15 defense, you can guarantee that Andrew Luck will win Super Bowl LII.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

(Photo Credit: http://www.firstcoastnews.com)

The Jacksonville Jaguars have been so bad that they have picked in the top five of the NFL Draft for six years running, which is an NFL record. Jacksonville is far from competing for a Super Bowl, or so it seems. It is going to be difficult for the Jaguars to make the playoffs, let alone win the Super Bowl, but it is possible.

Jacksonville has a very good and underrated defense. Although they gave up 25 points per game, they ranked sixth in yards allowed at 321.7. The Jaguars offense put them in bad situations often as displayed in Jacksonville’s amount of giveaways per game.

Jacksonville had 1.8 turnovers per game, tied for 26th in the NFL. Jacksonville’s secondary led the way allowing just 215.2 yards per game through the air.

Jacksonville’s secondary led the way allowing just 215.2 yards per game through the air. They lost defensive backs John Cyprien and Prince Amukamara but signed A.J. Bouye and Barry Church, both of which are upgrades over their counterpart.

To improve this defense even more, the Jags signed defensive end Calais Campbell. The Jacksonville defense will be elite and as long as their offense doesn’t make crucial mistakes, they can lead this team to the playoffs.

Getting to the playoffs is one thing, but getting to the Super Bowl is an entirely different beast. Jacksonville is going to need a complete resurgence from its offense. They signed tackle Brandon Albert and drafted tackle Cam Robinson to bolster their offensive line. If this unit plays well, they can open up running lanes for one of the most dynamic running backs to enter the league since Adrian Peterson.

Leonard Fournette, the man to be the best running back since Adrian Peterson, will be asked to be a workhorse and improve the 22nd-ranked rushing game. Jacksonville must also run the ball more than 37 percent of the time if Fournette is going to become a threat on the offense.

Generating a solid running game will help in a multitude of areas for Jacksonville. The Jaguars ranked 28th in third down conversion percentage at 35.3 percent. Shortening the chains will go a long way in fixing this problem. Converting more on third down can lead to more points as well.

Jacksonville scored 19.9 points per game last season. By now you can see the pattern starting to form. Running the ball leads to shorter third downs, which leads to more points, which all leads to taking the ball out of Blake Bortles’ hands. Bortles has shown flashes of brilliance but the entire weight of the offense is too much for him. If Leonard Fournette can make an immediate impact, then this offense can become really good.

Being better on defense and offense simply aren’t enough. Jacksonville must become more disciplined as well. The Jaguars gave up 8.1 penalties per game for an average of 74.2 yards per game. Both ranked 31st in the NFL. Improving on this is a must if the Jaguars want to start drafting outside of the top five.

Defending home field is also vital in acquiring success in the NFL. In the past four years, the Jaguars are 9-29 at home. Playing in such a humid and hot climate should provide a better home field advantage.

If Jacksonville can put all these things together, then it is possible for them to win Super Bowl LII. The odds of that happening though are the about as equivalent of the Patriots going 0-16.

 

Thank you for checking out the Super Bowl series: AFC South. Stay tuned the remaining editions of Super Bowl series and check out the previous editions of the Super Bowl series here.

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Featured image courtesy of http://www.steelcityunderground.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/afc-south.png

Quarterback rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season: 32-21

In the NFL today, quarterbacks are easily the most important position on the field. With an elite quarterback, winning comes easily (just look at the Patriots). But in fantasy, the demand for the position just isn’t what it used to be. Today, we’ll take a look at my 2017 fantasy football quarterback rankings, starting with numbers 32-21.

These quarterback rankings are unlike the others you’ll find. They are based on a variety of things: athletic ability, arm accuracy, arm strength, strength of receivers and strength of offensive line.

Here’s the start to my early quarterback rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season.

32. Josh McCown (New York Jets)

What happened to the Josh McCown we saw four years ago? In 2013, McCown threw for 13 touchdowns and one interception with the Chicago Bears. Do I think that he still has the ability to put up decent numbers in the NFL? Yes, just not with the broken, receiver-less Jets.

31. Cody Kessler (Cleveland Browns)

I have hope for Cody Kessler or any starting quarterback for the Browns, as they have an improved offensive line and still have some decent weapons on the team. Kessler showed signs of improvement and potential last year, but doesn’t have enough experience to be higher on this list. Plus four fumbles in nine games. I’ll take my chances with a different quarterback in fantasy this year.

30. Jared Goff (Los Angeles Rams)

I still believe that Jared Goff has the potential to be something great in the NFL, but is this year his year? I’m gonna have to say no. In an offense centered around young stud Todd Gurley, with minimal receiving help, Goff is just waiting for his time to come. I’m gonna say pass on Goff this year but keep him on your radar for the future.

29. Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars)

2017 fantasy football quarterback rankings

(Photo: USA Today)

I was big on Blake Bortles last year, but clearly things didn’t pan out. I know this is pretty low for a guy that finished in the top five for fantasy quarterbacks just two years ago, but I don’t believe what the Jaguars did this offseason is going to help Bortles. They brought in Leonard Fournette which makes me think they’re ready to go run-heavy, especially in the red zone. Be cautious with Bortles this year.

28. Brian Hoyer (San Francisco 49ers)

I like Brian Hoyer this year, just in fantasy football. Under Kyle Shanahan, I actually think Hoyer can make some noise in this league, as he’s got some big targets like Vance McDonald and Pierre Garcon. I just don’t believe that a quarterback leading a team to probably around four wins can do well in fantasy.

27. Mike Glennon (Chicago Bears)

The Bears were a little risky giving Glennon this much money after only a few career starts. With some nice weapons at his disposal, like Jordan Howard, Victor Cruz and Kevin White, I’d suggest keeping Glennon on your radar and picking him up on a top tier quarterback’s bye week depending on the matchup.

26. Trevor Siemian (Denver Broncos)

If I had one word to describe Trevor Siemian, it would probably be mediocre. He’s an average quarterback who will throw for 250 yards, a touchdown and a pick per game, letting the dirty Broncos defense do their work. Draft another quarterback, but consider Siemian on bye weeks due to his copious amounts of targets.

25. Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo Bills)

I don’t really understand the big hype around Tyrod Taylor this year. How will Taylor succeed so well in a run-first system? Coming off his huge year, Lesean McCoy will continue to get a majority of the touches while in the red zone the Bills will use their newly signed fullbacks. I see Tyrod Taylor being nothing special again this year, so keep him off your team.

24. Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals)

2017 fantasy football quarterback rankings

(Photo: cincinnativseveryone.com)

Alright, I’ll be the first to say it: Carson Palmer is no longer a top-tier quarterback in the NFL. Going into this season with arguably the best running back in the NFL, Bruce Arians will probably focus on the running game this year. To make a long story short, stay away from Carson Palmer.

23. Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans)

I really want to put Watson higher on this list but how can I do that when he has never thrown an NFL pass? With weapons like Lamar Miller, Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller IV, Watson is in the perfect position to succeed. Stash Watson on your team and wait for him to breakout midway through the season.

22. Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals)

I believe Andy Dalton is a good quarterback in the NFL and can be great. This year won’t be his year though. He has two huge targets in A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, but his offensive line took a hit this offseason. Losing two starters is hard to replace and I believe Dalton will feel the pressure this season and it will affect his numbers in a negative way.

21. Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs)

Smith is the go to guy if your quarterback is on his bye week and you want to know you’ll get at least 12 points out of your fill-in. He’s not flashy and he doesn’t make big plays, but he’s safe with the ball and he makes the right decisions. If you want to wait to pick a quarterback late in your draft, Alex Smith is your guy.

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2017 NFL Mock Draft April 27

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

ROUND ONE

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Carolina Panthers- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

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

9. Cincinnati Bengals- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

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

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

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

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

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

12. Cleveland Browns- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

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

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

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

14. Philadelphia Eagles- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

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

15. Indianapolis Colts- Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

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

16. Baltimore Ravens- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20. Denver Broncos- Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24. Oakland Raiders- Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

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

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

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

26. Seattle Seahawks- Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROUND 2

33. Cleveland Browns- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

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

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

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

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

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

36. Chicago Bears- Zay Jones, WR, ECU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

41. Cincinnati Bengals- Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova

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

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

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

43. Philadelphia Eagles- Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

48. Minnesota Vikings- Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple

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

49. Washington Redskins- Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn

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

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

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

51. Denver Broncos- Montravious Adams, DT, Auburn

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

52. Cleveland Browns- Budda Baker, S, Washington

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

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

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

54. Miami Dolphins- Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado

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

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

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

56. Oakland Raiders- Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson

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

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

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

58. Seattle Seahawks- Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado

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

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

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

60. Dallas Cowboys- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

64. Carolina Panthers- David Sharpe, OT, Florida

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

 

For more mock drafts: DC Pro Sports Report

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NFL Draft Quarterback

Contenders Who Should Take a Quarterback Early in the NFL Draft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Smith Andy Reid

Photo: CBS Sports

Kansas City Chiefs

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

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

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

New York Giants

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

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

Arizona Cardinals

deshone kizer

Photo: Scout.com

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

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

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

 

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Houston Texans 2017 NFL Draft Profile

It’s day 23 of Draftmas and the Houston Texans are on the clock.

Summary

Last year the Houston Texans got to the playoffs yet again, but lost in the Divisional Round for the third time since 2011. They will be trying to build on that this season, but will have a hard time doing so without a franchise quarterback.

The offense was pretty miserable last season, scoring 17.4 points per game. Rushing offense was their forte, as they ranked eighth in the league.

Brock Osweiler is gone, which is addition by subtraction, but Tom Savage is the top quarterback on the depth chart now. The Texans have said they are confident in him, but will likely want to find at the very least, a quarterback for the future in this draft. Lamar Miller did the most he could last season behind a not so good offensive line. If they draft a running back it will only be a change of pace back.

Deandre Hopkins is a great receiver, but behind him there are some problems. Will Fuller showed flashes last season, but was very inconsistent. Braxton Miller has to step up next season too. C.J. Fiedorowicz is a good option at tight end. The offensive line will need some improvements, as left tackle Duane Brown and center Greg Mancz were the only players who played well up front last season.

J.J. Watt (Photo courtesy: si.com)

Defensively, Houston was in the top half of the league in rush defense, allowing 1,595 rushing yards on the season. Their pas defense ranked second in the league last season, but has some key components to replace.

J.J. Watt will return from injury and the hope is that he can return to the great form he had just a few seasons ago. The rest of the defensive line needs to be addressed, especially with the risk of Watt re-injuring himself. Outside linebacker is set with Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. Inside linebacker is also solid for the time being with Brian Cushing and Benardrick McKinney, but the Texans could elect to take a guy in the late rounds to groom for the future.

The secondary will need some work as well. A.J. Bouye has left for the Jaguars. Jonathan Joseph is aging and while Kevin Johnson and Kareem Jackson are solid, they will need to find some more good corners behind them. Corey Moore and Andre Hal are both average safeties, but could be upgraded.

Picks and Needs

The Texans have seven picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. If they select the right players, they can find themselves back in the playoffs again.

First round: (1) No. 25

Second round: (1) No. 57

Third round: (1) No. 89

Fourth round: (2) No. 131, No. 142

Fifth round: (1) No. 169

Sixth round: (0)

Seventh round: (1) No. 243

These needs are in no particular order.

Offensive Needs:

Guard- Xavier Su’a-Filo hasn’t lived up to expectations and Jeff Allen only played good for one season. They could at least use one from the later rounds.

Right Tackle- Chris Clark shouldn’t be starting and the Texans can really benefit from taking a tackle early in the draft.
Quarterback- Brock Osweiler is gone, but Tom Savage is the starter as of now. They will need to take one quarterback in this draft class.
Defensive Needs:

Defensive Line- The Texans need help and depth around J.J. Watt.

Cornerback- Losing A.J. Bouye is tough, but Houston still has a few decent corners. They will need one for the future and that can play in the dime.

Safety- Both Moore and Hal are average and improvements can be found in this draft.

Targets and Thoughts

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

First Round:

Pick #25: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Deshaun Watson (Photo courtesy: cbssports.com)

 Watson is a quarterback that the fans and media love, but that NFL scouts aren’t as sold on. He could go higher than this if a team likes him like the fans do, but if he is drafted closer to where scouts say he should be, the Texans will be able to get him. He needs to develop and become better mentally as a quarterback, as his decision making was not good last season at Clemson. Watson is a dynamic playmaker though and could battle Savage for the starting job.


Second Round:

Pick #57: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova

Kpassagnon is a huge defensive end that needs to get better while in the NFL. He comes from the FCS level, which will raise some questions about the level of competition he faced, but he will be a perfect fit for the Texans 3-4 defense.

Third Round:

Pick #89: Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan

The Texans need to get improved offensive line play and Moton will be available. He played right tackle in college and can do that in the NFL, or move to guard. He should be able to fit in at one of the positions of need on the offensive line for Houston.

Conclusion

The Texans have gotten to the playoffs without a franchise quarterback before and can do it again. Even if they take Watson, or any other quarterback in this draft class, he likely won’t play lights out from day one. Taking good players in this draft and getting J.J. Watt back to form can lead the Texans back to the playoffs.

You can read all of the previous days of Draftmas here!

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2017 NFL Mock Draft March 31

The 2017 NFL Draft is just under a month away, so it is time to get ready for one of the biggest events of the football season.

Round 1

 

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

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

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

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

3. Chicago Bears- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

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

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Leonard Fournette

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

5. Tennessee Titans- 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- Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC

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

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

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

8. Carolina Panthers- 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. Carolina didn’t fully recover from losing Josh Norman last season and will need to get a corner to compensate.

9. Cincinnati Bengals- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

When Cincinnati was at their best, they rushed the passer well. 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.

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

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

11. New Orleans Saints- Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

New Orleans needs defensive help badly. They can start by getting a pass rusher across from Cameron Jordan. Charlton has great size at 6’6″ tall and can get to the quarterback with 10 sacks last season. The Saints have started to put together a defensive line with Jordan, Nick Fairly and Sheldon Rankins from last year’s draft.

12. Cleveland Browns- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

DeShone Kizer

The Browns already have Myles Garrett on board and now can get their quarterback of the future. 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.

13. Arizona Cardinals- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Arizona could go for a quarterback to be a long term solution or defensive help here. 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.

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

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. Philadelphia addressed their wide receiver needs via free agency and can now help out Carson Wentz by providing him with a good running back and receiver out of the backfield.

15. Indianapolis Colts- Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

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

16. Baltimore Ravens- Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Baltimore needs to get some offensive weapons, as Joe Flacco doesn’t have many good players to throw to. Davis is a premier talent at wide receiver. He is big, at 6 feet 3 inches, but his skills match that of a smaller receiver, making him a unique prospect. Davis knows where to go on broken plays and fights for the football with resiliency.

17. Washington Redskins- 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 Redskins have a lot of needs on the defensive side of the ball they could go after, but Cunningham can have an impact immediately.

18. Tennessee Titans- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

Tre’Davious White

The Titans will take a wide receiver here if they don’t get one with their first pick. If not they will try to improve their defense. White is a good team leader, who is very athletic. He doesn’t have the best size for a corner, but can cover with the best of them. His added value comes in the return game, where he did a solid job for LSU.

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

Tampa Bay signed Desean Jackson so they likely won’t draft a wide receiver. Howard is a great receiving tight end, who didn’t get the chance to produce much at Alabama due to play-calling and quarterback issues. He can be another good target to help Jameis Winston.

20. Denver Broncos- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Robinson can slide right in and start on a team that doesn’t have good tackles. He did a solid job pass blocking Myles Garrett in their match-up. Before the Broncos give up on Trevor Siemian they need to protect him to give him a fair shot.

21. Detroit Lions- Haason Reddick, OLB, 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.

22. Miami Dolphins- Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC

Jackson has all of the capabilities necessary to be a lock-down corner for many years in the NFL. He can play both sides of the ball and also help in the return game. His ability to play both ways and to bait quarterbacks into throwing passes, just so he can intercept them, shows his likeness to Deion Sanders. The Dolphins have Byron Maxwell at corner, but don’t have much else.

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

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

24. Oakland Raiders- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Christian McCaffrey

The Raiders lost Latavius Murray in free agency and have not signed Adrian Peterson or brought Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. Their offense is predicated on big plays and McCaffrey can provide that in a variety of ways. His impressive showing at the combine solidified his first round status. Behind Oakland’s offensive line and with Derek Carr at quarterback, McCaffrey could have a season of greater than 2,000 all purpose yards.

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. His arm strength has also been called into question by only throwing 49 mph at the combine. The accepted low for an NFL quarterback is 55 mph. (Dak Prescott threw 54 mph last combine, but had a hurt shoulder) Watson has shown flashes of greatness, particularly against Alabama, but needs to be more consistent. One thing is for sure, Watson steps up in the clutch.

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

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

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

Jabrill Peppers

The Cowboys lost Barry Church to the Jaguars in free agency. They will need a safety to go alongside Byron Jones. Peppers can be successful at any position in the back seven of the defense, but will be the safety that Dallas needs. Peppers’ downside his his ball skills. He has all the fundamentals down, but had only one career interception in college.

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

Conley has risen up draft boards, partially because of injuries and bad 40 times by other corners. He does have good play recognition skills that he uses to his advantage.The Packers had terrible corner play last season and need to take one early in this loaded draft class.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers- Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut

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

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

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

32. New Orleans Saints- Kevin King, CB, Washington

The Saints have already addressed their pass rushing need and can now focus on coverage. King is a big corner who can cover big receivers, but also possesses speed to keep up with the faster ones.

 

Round 2

33. Cleveland Browns- Budda Baker, S, Washington

Cleveland needs secondary help badly. Baker makes plays in the passing game, but isn’t afraid to come up and help in the run either. He isn’t the biggest safety, but is productive.

34. San Francisco 49ers- Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

John Lynch is going to want to sure up the offensive line and can get Ramczyk with good value here. Ramczyk is a solid left tackle, who is a good run and pass blocker. He did a pretty good job blocking Taco Charlton when the Badgers played the Wolverines. He doesn’t have good mobility and athleticism and can be beat by fast rushers and blitzers.

35. Jacksonville Jaguars- Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss

Engram is a good receiving tight end that will help the Jaguars because they traded Julius Thomas to the Dolphins. If this truly is the last year for Blake Bortles to prove himself, Jacksonville will give him plenty of weapons to use to be sure.

36. Chicago Bears- Zay Jones, WR, ECU

Zay Jones

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

37. Los Angeles Rams- Forrest Lamp, OG/C, Western Kentucky

Lamp played tackle in college, but will likely be kicked inside in the NFL. The Rams do need other positions, but in order for this team to be successful, they need to open up some holes for Todd Gurley.

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

With the Chargers already getting Jamal Adams, they can work on protecting Phillip Rivers for a few more years. Feeney would be a great value to them at this point.

39. New York Jets- 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 Jets can use another corner or two, as Morris Claiborne will likely get injured at some point this season.

40. Carolina Panthers- 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 Panthers need to get some more interior linemen.

41. Cincinnati Bengals- Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

The Bengals signed Kevin Minter to a one year deal, but could still use linebacker help. Davis is a strong linebacker who is decent in coverage. His willingness to make plays in the running game can really help the Bengals defense.

42. New Orleans Saints- Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

New Orleans needs more offensive weapons, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be a wide receiver. Kamara can be a nice change of pace back, who can thrive with Drew Brees throwing him the ball out of the backfield.

43. Philadelphia Eagles- Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado

The Eagles need to focus on improving their secondary and can get quality players after the first round in this draft. Witherspoon has speed, but needs to add strength for the NFL.

44. Buffalo Bills- Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, USC

Smith-Schuster was once thought of as one of the premier wide receivers in this draft class, but he lacks the speed necessary to go round one. The Bills need to get a receiver across the field from Sammy Watkins.

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

Patrick Mahommes

Bruce Arians loves big, strong-armed quarterbacks and can get one for the future in round two. Mahommes has the chance to prove that system quarterbacks can make it in the NFL if they have talent.

46. Minnesota Vikings- Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan

The Vikings have addressed some of their line problems via free agency, but they still need some upgrades there. Moton at the very least can provide depth, which is not something Minnesota had last year.

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

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

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

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

49. 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.

50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Curtis Samuel, RB/WR, Ohio State

Samuel had a good combine and can help a team as a slot receiver or running back. Jameis Winston will love all these new weapons.

51. Denver Broncos- Montravious Adams, DL, Auburn

Jared Crick should not be starting for Denver. Adams may not be the best fit in this defense, but Denver will make the most of him.

52. Cleveland Browns- Cooper Kupp, WR, EWU

Cleveland can now get another target for whoever their quarterback might be. Kupp did not run well in his 40 yard dash, but is a solid receiver and the stats don’t lie.

53. Detroit Lions- Teez Tabor, CB, Florida

Jalen Tabor has shown that he doesn’t have great speed, but he is physical and has a high football IQ. The Lions still need to upgrade their secondary.

54. Miami Dolphins- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama

Cameron Wake is still a very good player, but the Dolphins need more pass rushers. Williams is very good and has a quick first step, but some have brought up character concerns with him.

55. New York Giants- Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple

The Giants got their tight end in the first round and can now get some offensive line help. Dawkins wouldn’t regularly go this high in the draft, but the lack of good offensive linemen will work out for him.

56. Oakland Raiders- Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson

The Raiders have some pass rushers, but need interior defensive lineman. Watkins is a good pass rusher for a defensive tackle and finished with 10.5 sacks last season.

57. Houston Texans- Ethan Pocic, G/C, LSU

Pocic has a lot of experience and is a solid interior offensive linemen. The Texans have a terrible offensive line and need to protect whoever ends up being their starting quarterback.

58. Seattle Seahawks- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Jones tore his Achilles at his pro day, but is optimistic about his return to football. The Seahawks can bring him on slow and reap the rewards for years.

59. Kansas City Chiefs- Desmond King, CB/S, Iowa

The Chiefs could use a guy like King who can play multiple positions in the secondary. His best position will likely be safety, due to his good run support and lack of speed.

60. Dallas Cowboys- Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA

McKinley has fallen down in mocks because of his shoulder injury, but he is a good pass rusher. He should be ready for training camp. The Cowboys have a desperate need for pass rushers and will love McKinley’s value.

61. Green Bay Packers- Marcus Williams, S, Utah

Green Bay doesn’t have much of a secondary. Williams can play beside Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He is a safety with range, but isn’t the greatest tackler.

62. Pittsburgh Steelers- Demarcus Walker, DE, Florida State

Demarcus Walker

Pittsburgh needs to get to the quarterback more often. James Harrison led the team in sacks last season and he is aging. Walker is good at rushing the passer and disrupts passes by sticking his hands up into the passing lane.

63. Atlanta Falcons- Pat Elflein, OG/C, Ohio State

The interior of the offensive line could use some upgrades for the Falcons. Elflein is versatile enough to fill in at multiple positions.

64. Carolina Panthers- Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU

Dupre didn’t have great quarterback play, but was productive at LSU. The Panthers need some wide receivers to step up for Cam Newton.

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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.

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