2017 NFL Mock Draft February 27

2017 NFL Mock Draft

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

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

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

There is a new regime in San Francisco, but all visible signs show them not taking a quarterback with the number two pick. That may change, or maybe they are protecting their real thoughts. For now, Jonathan Allen would be a great pick. He can play any position on the defensive line and succeed. Allen could not be blocked with one blocker consistently and continuously disrupted plays. He doesn’t always have the best gap integrity, but does have great play recognition skills.

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

Kizer has the size and arm strength to be a franchise quarterback. He has some issues with being consistent with the accuracy of his passes, but for the most part is decent. If he wants to be successful he should work on putting passes in areas for wide receivers to run after the catch. His mobility is good enough to get him out of jams. The Bears will love his big hands because he will have to play late season games in the cold weather at home and at Green Bay.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Fournette can do everything required as a running back and can handle a heavy dose of carries. He played this last season with a lingering ankle injury and still averaged 6.5 yards per carry. His combination of speed, size and vision makes him an elite running back prospect. The Jaguars have other needs, but Fournette is too good to pass up. Jacksonville will likely give Blake Bortles one more season to figure things out, and a good running game will help his chances.

5. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

In the National Championship Game, Mike Williams was the difference maker for Clemson. Williams is the best red zone threat in college football from the wide receiver position. He is tall and lanky, but athletic enough to make great catches. Mariota needs a go to receiver to throw to and the Titans may have to take one earlier than expected.

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

Lattimore is a shut-down corner, who has good ball skills. Even though Ohio State got blown out by Clemson, he only gave up one catch and it was to Mike Williams on a screen pass. Lattimore is decent in run support too. The Jets need secondary help and will likely cut Darrelle Revis due to his his huge cap number. Lattimore could slide right in and start for the Jets.

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

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

8. Carolina Panthers- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

The Panthers may not have had the season they wanted, but they don’t have too many needs to fill. One position they do need to upgrade is corner after not fairing so well without Josh Norman. Humphrey guarded Mike Williams well in the National Championship game, but Williams made some crazy catches through the good coverage. Humphrey is a good man to man corner, who can get confused while playing zone.

9. Cincinnati Bengals- Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford

When Cincinnati was at their best, they rushed the passer well. Michael Johnson no longer does that well, so he needs to be upgraded. Thomas is a well rounded defensive end, who is as good at stopping the run as he is rushing the passer. He’s very quick at the snap of the ball. His best quality is his versatility. He can play almost any position on the defensive line and be successful.

10. Buffalo Bills- Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC

I haven’t mocked a quarterback to Buffalo, but it is looking more like they are going to need one with the Tyrod Taylor situation not being resolved. Trubisky only has one year of starting experience, which is concerning, but he is very accurate. He also rarely makes bad decisions, which is a rarity for quarterbacks in this draft class. On top of all that, Trubisky is an athlete that has above average speed and can throw well while on the move.

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

The Saints need defensive help wherever they can get it. Improving the pass rush will be an easy decision if they see Derek Barnett on the board. Barnett is one of the best pass rushers in the class, but does not do much against the run. He uses his speed to get around the tackle blocking him, but rarely uses pass rushing moves to get to the quarterback.

12. Cleveland Browns- Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Hue Jackson believes in Cody Kessler, so he may not elect to take a quarterback in the first round. They will have a really good draft if they get both Garrett and Foster. Foster was the best player for Alabama in the National Championship Game. He was all over the field and showed great closing speed on ball carriers. In addition to that, he was a very effective when blitzing, knocking down Deshaun Watson plenty of times. He is also good in coverage, which doesn’t leave many holes in his game.

13. Arizona Cardinals- Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

Wilson is a tall corner, who has good speed. He is a good man to man cover corner, but is susceptible to pass interference calls. He doesn’t offer much in terms of run support and sometimes looks as if he doesn’t want to tackle anybody. The Cardinals need to get another corner across from Patrick Peterson and beside Tyrann Mathieu in order to have a great defense.

14. Indianapolis Colts- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

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

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

Davis is a premier talent at wide receiver. He is big, at 6 feet 3 inches, but his skills match that of a smaller receiver, making him a unique prospect. Davis knows where to go on broken plays and fights for the football with resiliency. The Eagles need to get a wide receiver for Carson Wentz as a lot of their young receivers have been disappointments.

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

The Ravens need a rushing attack if they want to get back to being a premier team. Cook is an elusive, speed back who is hard to catch. He is a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield. There are some concerns with the amount of injuries he has had, but when healthy Cook is an elite running back prospect.

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

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

18. Tennessee Titans- Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Adams will likely not fall this far, but if he does the Titans will pick him within minutes. Tennessee needs secondary help and luckily, this class is loaded with it. Adams is a hard-hitter, who helps in run support. He has shown the capability to guard elite college level tight ends like Evan Engram, which will help him a lot at the NFL level.

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

Hooker is another safety that will not likely make it this far in the round, but the Bucs would love to get him. He would be an immediate upgrade for their lackluster secondary. Hooker has the best range of any safety in the class. He is a ball-hawk, who isn’t afraid to come up and help in the run.

20. Denver Broncos- Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

The Broncos desperately need tackle help for the upcoming season. They might be able to address the issue in free agency, but in case they can’t, it would be prudent to take one here. Ramczyk is a solid left tackle, who is a good run and pass blocker, who did a pretty good job blocking Taco Charlton when the Badgers played the Wolverines. He doesn’t have good mobility and athleticism and can be beat by fast rushers and blitzers.

21. Detroit Lions- Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan

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

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

Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh hold down half of the Dolphins’ defensive line, but the other half leaves a lot to be desired. Harris is a good pass rusher, who is also solid against the run. He doesn’t have great length for a edge rusher, but does have good strength.

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

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

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

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

25. Houston Texans- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

If the Texans miss out on the Tony Romo sweepstakes and don’t get a free agent signal caller, they will be forced to pick a quarterback in the draft. Watson doesn’t have great accuracy and consistently relied on receivers to make plays for him. The most alarming thing about Watson is his decision making, as he makes throws that have no chance of being completed. Watson has shown flashes of greatness, particularly against Alabama, but needs to be more consistent. One thing is for sure, Watson steps up in the clutch.

26. Seattle Seahawks- Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah

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

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

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

28. Dallas Cowboys- Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

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

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

Aaron Rodgers has the offense rolling, so the defense has to get better in order to win the Super Bowl. White is a good team leader, who is very athletic. He doesn’t have the best size for a corner, but can cover with the best of them. His added value comes in the return game, where he did a solid job for LSU.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers- Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

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

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

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

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

Martellus Bennett is set to hit free agency. Rob Gronkowski is often injured and the Patriots like having multiple tight ends anyways. Bill Bellichick loves Alabama players, so this pick will make sense if Howard falls to the Patriots. Howard is a great receiving tight end, who didn’t get the chance to produce much at Alabama due to play-calling and quarterback issues.

For more mock drafts: DC Pro Sports Report

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Cleveland Can't Pass on Watson

Cleveland Can’t Pass on Watson

Cleveland can’t pass on Deshaun Watson. It is that simple. We all know the sad story that is the current Cleveland Browns. Their history is littered with unfortunate events and bad decisions. Their biggest success came in 1964 when they won the NFL Championship. Since then, there has been little to cheer about in Cleveland.

Cleveland Can't Pass on Watson

(Photo Credit: http://www.ramweb.org)

Cleveland came close to glory twice in the 1980s. The first unfortunate event was later called “The Drive” that took place in the 1986 AFC Championship game. With just a little over five minutes left in the game, the Browns led the Denver Broncos 20-13.

The Broncos had the ball at their own two-yard line. John Elway proceeded to lead the Broncos on a 15-play 98-yard drive to tie the game at 20 with only 37 seconds remaining. The wind had been sucked out of Cleveland and the Broncos won in overtime 23-20.

The second unfortunate event is labeled “The Fumble” and took place the following year in a rematch with the Broncos in the AFC Championship game again. The Broncos jumped out on the Browns early with a 21-3 halftime lead.

Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar threw four second-half touchdowns, but the game was tied 31-31 in the third quarter. With six minutes remaining in the game, John Elway threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to give the Broncos a 38-31 lead.

Cleveland Can't Pass on Watson

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

With only 1:12 remaining in the game, the Browns had driven down to the eight-yard line. Earnest Byner took a handoff and looked like he was about to tie the game when he was stripped at the 1-yard line and the Broncos took an intentional safety and won the game 38-33. For the second season in a row, the Browns were devastated in the game prior to the Super Bowl.

One of the last major unfortunate events for the Browns franchise was “The Move.” Browns owner Art Modell announced in 1995 that he was moving the franchise to Baltimore and thus, the Baltimore Ravens were born.

The history of the franchise would remain in Cleveland, but what hurt the most for the city is that the Ravens would go on to win the Super Bowl just five seasons later. Cleveland fans have always felt that that championship should have been theirs.

The Browns returned to Cleveland in 1999 and have had 28 different starting quarterbacks. 28 is a ridiculous amount of quarterbacks in just an 18-year span. There has been zero stability at the position and they need a franchise quarterback badly.

The Franchise Savior

It is laughable that Deshaun Watson is getting such little respect in the draft. So-called experts say he lacks accuracy and good decision making for a quarterback. What tape or games are they watching of Watson?

Cleveland Can't Pass on Watson

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

Watson had a legendary college career. He was the first player in college football history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. He went 32-3 as a starter and led Clemson to two straight national championship games. Both were against Alabama and the legendary Nick Saban.

In his entire career at Clemson, Watson threw for 10,168 yards, 90 touchdowns and only 32 interceptions. Where people go wrong in analyzing Watson is saying he runs too much, or that he is a run-first quarterback. That is absolutely false. Yes, he did rush for 1,934 yards and 26 touchdowns in his career, but Watson only runs when he needs to. He keeps his eyes down field while extending plays.

One thing Watson must work on is his down field accuracy. At his young age, he has time to develop that aspect of his game. Where Watson excels most is when the game is on the line. If there are less than four minutes in the game and you need a touchdown, Deshaun Watson delivers.

Cleveland Can't Pass on Watson

(Photo Credit: https://me.me/t/deshaun-watson)

He is the most clutch quarterback in college football history. He has proven it time and time again and his latest example was against one of the greatest defenses in college football history on the biggest stage. This is one of the greatest traits a quarterback can have, and it can’t be taught.

For so long, the Browns have been stuck at the bottom of the barrel. Their franchise has made so many head-scratching moves. They have overthought decisions and jumped at quarterbacks that had no business leading a franchise. Cleveland has had a lot of bad luck in the process as well. They can end all that by getting a franchise quarterback.

This one is right in front of their face. Do not make the mistake that the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers made. Dabo Sweeny is absolutely correct, any team that passes on Deshaun Watson is passing on Michael Jordan.



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Franchise Analysis – New Orleans Saints

For almost half the teams in the NFL, they are approaching 2017 with one question: do we have a championship caliber quarterback? Thankfully, the New Orleans Saints don’t have to answer that question. But how does a team with Drew Brees and Sean Payton go three years without making the playoffs?

As both are nearing the end of their tenure in New Orleans, what needs to happen in 2017 to have Saints fans celebrating next February?

2016 Evaluation – Offense

There’s not much to say. When Sean Payton calls the plays and Drew Brees is the field general, this offense will always be prolific. This offense finished second in points and first in yards in 2016. Brees and company finished first in passing yards and second in passing attempts. This team also took an important step for its rushing attack this season.

New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees and Sean Payton are a historically great duo, but will it translate into a playoff birth in 2017? (Courtesy of: Sporting News)

Since 2013, the Saints have made a concerted effort to run the ball on first down. Since 2013, while they only attempted 87 rushes on first down, they have run the ball on first down at least 98 times. Sean Payton is trying to put this offense in the best position possible and is not falling in love with throwing the football.

The Saints routinely finish as one of the most efficient third down offenses and have gotten better when they run the ball more on first down. Since 2013, the Saints third down conversion rate is above 48 percent.

What the Saints are doing is incredibly effective and should be continued, especially as Drew Brees continues to age. However, this unit is not without flaws.

You’ll find play makers all over this offense except at one position: tight end. No matter who was playing, the production was still poor. Using Pro Football Focus player ratings, every Saints tight end was more effective as a pass blocker than they were a receiver.

While these ratings don’t tell the whole truth, it’s clear that Coby Fleener struggled this season. To be fair, it was his first season in Payton’s offense. This position could absolutely use in upgrade via the 2017 NFL Draft if Fleener continues to be incompetent.

2016 Evaluation – Defense

You could answer my initial question with one word, defense. Perennially weak defense is why this team continues to miss the playoffs and 2016 was no different.

New Orleans Saints

Delvin Breaux will look to bounce back in 2017 after missing 8 games this year. (Courtesy of: Alchetron)

The Saints defense finished 31st in points and 27th in yards. Specifically, this unit was horrible against the pass. What’s really troubling was the fact that this defense gave up the most passing yards on the 19th most attempts. This means that offenses, even if they were marginal, were incredibly efficient against this defense through the air.

What makes a team operate more efficiently? In the passing game, it happens when quarterbacks have more time than usual to make decisions and throw. The Saints lacked a consistent pass rush all season as they finished 27th in the NFL with 30 sacks. Cameron Jordan is a great player, but he alone is not enough.

They could also look to upgrade the linebacker position given how much they blitz. However, if you’re blitzing more than 40 percent of the time and still can’t apply pressure, a scheme change may be necessary. While either option could be effective, the best decision is likely a combination of the two.

Of course, there is also the option to upgrade players in the secondary. I don’t think this is as pressing as establishing a pass rush. Delvin Breaux, apart from having a great last name, is a talented player who struggled. He missed half the season, so it’s reasonable to think missing that many snaps would impact his performance. Breaux, along with Sterling Moore and potentially a talented free agent or rookie, could take this defense out of incompetency.

Divisional Analysis

I still maintain that this is the best division in football in terms of quarterback play. To combat these great quarterbacks, you have to keep them off the field and apply pressure. Offensively, the Saints are phenomenal. Aside from adding depth at a few positions and upgrading others, they don’t have pressing needs.

On defense, the Saints will have plenty of opportunities to accumulate talent. Secondary players like Marshon Lattimore, Adoree Jackson and Malik Hooker could absolutely improve this pass defense. There are also great free agents like A.J. Bouye and Trumaine Johnson available at the corner position that the Saints could target.

On the other hand, they could go a different route and address their weak pass rush. Derek Barnett seems like the right decision at the number eleven slot if he’s available. There are other defensive options like Reuben Foster, Solomon Thomas and Taco Charlton, but they may not be right in their scheme or warrant selection at the Saints position.

I know I claimed the offense doesn’t need to be a focus of the offseason, but, there’s always the idea of finding an eventual successor to Brees. I’m not saying spend a first-round pick on Deshaun Watson or Mitch Trubisky, if they are even available. I am saying that the sooner the Saints plan for the future, the smoother the transition will be.

Postseason Prospects

While there are seemingly endless amounts of stats to comb through, some are more important than others. Here is where the Saints stack up in the following offensive and defensive categories.

New Orleans Saints

As we’ve outlined, the Saints offense is incredibly productive. It’s almost unprecedented to have an offense finish in the top six in every category and not make the playoffs. If the defense is able to improve in 2017, it is likely that their yards per attempt will decrease because they won’t be playing in as many shootouts.

New Orleans Saints

Conversely, the Saints defense needs to improve in every category. Thankfully, they don’t need to be top five or even top ten in every category to make the postseason. They just have to stop being totally inept. If the Saints are able to apply more pressure to opposing quarterbacks in 2017, look for improvements in sacks, third down percentage and turnovers.

2017 Prediction

While they have major defensive flaws, the Saints are prime to break their playoff drought. In 2016, the Saints lost four games by three points or less and another game by five points. If they won two of those five games against the right teams, they could have made the playoffs. I believe the Saints will find a way to win those close games in 2017 and make the playoffs as a Wild Card team at 10-6.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Preview

It all comes down to this game. A rematch of last year’s National Championship. The Alabama Crimson Tide will take on the Clemson Tigers in the biggest game of the season in Tampa Bay, Florida.

There are so many talented players making this match-up great. Alabama has a lot of defensive NFL prospects, while Clemson has prospects on both sides of the ball.

This game will be a clash of the titans.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama’s team was more thoroughly reviewed before the Peach Bowl.

Jalen Hurts is going to have to complete passes in this game for Alabama to win. In the win over Washington Hurts threw for just 57 yards. Lane Kiffin didn’t have a great game plan and is now off to Florida Atlantic, but Hurts is also to blame. Having Steve Sarkisian calling plays won’t likely help that much, as he is very similar to Kiffin.

National Championship

Reuben Foster (Photo courtesy: Profootballfocus.com)

Alabama has great play-makers as targets for Hurts in Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart and O.J.Howard. That doesn’t matter if he can’t get the ball to them. Hurts is the key to the Alabama offense, because if he can’t complete passes, Clemson’s defense can focus on just stopping the run.

The Crimson Tide rode the hot hand in the Peach Bowl. Damien Harris, along with Hurts, had been the best at running the ball for Alabama. Against the Huskies, big Bo Scarborough rumbled for 180 yards on just 19 carries for two touchdowns. He doesn’t have great vision, but if the holes are there, is tough to bring down at 235 pounds. Between the two of them, either Harris or Scarborough need to produce in this game.

The defense has been dominant for Alabama all season long. They scored ten touchdowns this season and don’t show any signs of stopping. The front seven is great and led by Jonathan Allen. He had a sack, two tackles for loss and one fumble recovery against Washington. Reuben Foster is one of the best inside linebacker prospects in a while. With pass rushing help from Tim Williams, the front seven is stacked with great players.

Eddie Jackson, the safety, will be out for this game, but the secondary has done well without him in the past few games. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey will be the ones making plays for Alabama in the secondary. Both have plenty of experience and should feel a sense of pride after allowing Clemson to score 40 points in last years National Championship Game.

Clemson Tigers

Clemson was more thoroughly reviewed before the Fiesta Bowl.

The Tigers have one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Deshaun Watson. He is dynamic with his legs and pretty good with his arm. He will have to use both effectively to beat Alabama. Watson only rushed or 57 yards against Ohio State, but had two rushing touchdowns. With Ohio State playing so poorly, he didn’t need to run much more. He did, however, throw two interceptions. This has been a big theme all season long, as his decision making has been questionable at best. With 17 interceptions thrown on the year, his main priority has to be protecting the football against a good Alabama secondary.

National Championship

Mike Williams (Photo courtesy: si.com)

Mike Williams is the good news for Watson. He is the top NFL Draft prospect at the wide receiver position and creates match-up problems for opposing teams. With other productive players like Hunter Renfrow, Jordan Leggett and Artavis Scott on the team, opponents can’t really double team Williams much either. If Watson makes a bad decision, these guys have to turn into defenders and knock the ball down to keep possession of the football.

There are a lot of good running backs in college football, but Wayne Gallman might be the most underrated of all of them. He did decently in the Fiesta Bowl with 85 rushing yards and a touchdown. Going up against that Crimson Tide front seven will be tough, but if Gallman can keep chipping away early with four and five yard runs, he should be able to bust one loose late in the game.

Clemson’s defense haven’t scored as much as Alabama’s, but they are coming off one of the best performances of the season, holding Ohio State to no points.

The Tigers also had a great defensive line this season, which is led by Carlos Watkins. He has 10.5 sacks with two coming against Ohio State. Watkins is one of the best interior pass rushers in college football.

Ben Boulware leads the linebacking core. The senior had 81 total tackles in the 2015 season and has 110 this season. He only had three total tackles in last year’s National Championship, but will have to do more to help stop the Alabama rushing attack in this game.

In the secondary Jadar Johnson is a safety that covers the whole field and has five interceptions on the season. The corners, specifically Cordrea Tankersley, shut down opposing wide receivers.


Both teams have distractions going into this game. A new offensive coordinator for Alabama. A mini-scandal for Clemson’s defense after Christian Wilkins violated Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel during the Fiesta Bowl. Keeping that stuff out of their minds and focusing on the game is imperative.

The quarterbacks will be the key in this game. Can Hurts complete passes? Can Watson make good decisions and protect the football? Both have tall orders, as they go up against great defenses.

Alabama’s rush defense is the best in the country and holds opposing teams to just 62 yards per game. That is 61 yards better than what Clemson’s good run defense holds opponents to. The last time a team held a team to below that number of rushing yards was 2008.

All of Nick Saban’s national title teams with the Crimson Tide have been featured the top rush defense, besides the 2009 season, when they placed second to National Runner-up Texas. In the years since 2009 that they didn’t win it all, Alabama didn’t finish as the top rush defense in the country (once finished second in 2014 in that span).

National Championship

Nick Saban (Photo courtesy: sltrib.com)

That classic Alabama rush defense will save the day and be the difference-maker. Gallman will be shut down by Alabama. Watson will probably have a good rushing performance, but it won’t be enough.

When the run game is shut down by Alabama’s run defense, Watson will throw and be intercepted in a key situation. The Crimson Tide will run the clock out and be champions once again in another close game against Clemson.


Alabama Crimson Tide 38 Clemson Tigers 33


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NFL Draft Prospects in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl

Ohio State and Clemson are two teams that are able to reload every year in recruiting. They then develop all of the talent they get and ship them out as NFL prospects. There will be NFL players all over the field in this game. Here are the best prospects in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl:

Ohio State Buckeyes

Pat Elflein, C

Fiesta Bowl

Pat Elflein (Photo courtesy: thelantern.com)

Projected Draft Range: Second round-third round

Elflein has adequate height at six feet three inches tall, but already has the weight he needs at 300 pounds. He has great mobility to go block defenders on the move. Elflein will likely be one of the first two centers taken in the draft, but his name may not be called to the second or third round due to the lack of centers being taken early in the NFL Draft.

Curtis Samuel, RB/WR

Projected Draft Range: Second round-fourth round

If teams are looking for a Percy Harvin-like player (the easiest comparison to make), Samuel is that guy. He has great speed and quickness and can impact the game in a lot of ways. He has rushed the ball well and also been a great receiver for the Buckeyes. NFL teams will have to game plan against Samuel, much like they did against Harvin. He may not have the same NFL impact, but Samuel will be a nice find for an NFL team.

Gareon Conley, CB

Projected Draft Range: Second round-fourth round

Conley has eight passes defended and three interceptions this season, making him fit in well with the rest of the Ohio State secondary, who make plays on the ball. He has good size at six feet one inch tall and can match-up with a variety of receivers. If this class didn’t have so many good corners, Conley could sneak into the first round.

Clemson Tigers

Mike Williams, WR

Projected Draft Range: First round

Size is Williams biggest competitive advantage. At six feet three inches and 220 pounds, there aren’t many corners that can match up with him. His speed and quickness are both good for his size. Williams can improve as a blocker and a route-runner for the next level.

Deshaun Watson, QB

Projected Draft Range: Second round-fourth round

Watson is a great play-maker at the college level. His athleticism will translate to the NFL level well. He isn’t the greatest decision maker and turns the ball over. His accuracy is inconsistent on throws of the intermediate variety and beyond. The good news is that Watson has all the tools needed for an NFL quarterback, but just needs to protect the ball better and put the ball right on receivers.

Carlos Watkins, DT

Fiesta Bowl

Carlos Watkins (Photo courtesy: greenvilleonline.com)

Projected Draft Range: First round-second round

Watkins is versatile enough to play in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. At six feet three inches tall and 305 pounds he has the necessary length and strength to go against NFL offensive linemen. Watkins is good at stopping the run, but is better at rushing the passer from the interior. He has 8.5 sacks on the season, which is a lot for a player that plays on the inside.

Cordrea Tankersley, CB

Projected Draft Range: First round-third round

Tankersley will probably be drafted in a similar range as Conley. He is about the same height and weight as Conley. Tankersley is more of the shut-down corner, rather than a guy who makes plays on the ball. Unfortunately he won’t have all of the greatest chance to improve his draft stock in this game with not many good outside receivers for Ohio State. He needs to focus on stopping the run to help his team win and impress scouts.


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2016 Fiesta Bowl Preview

The Ohio State Buckeyes played a tough schedule and got into the College Football Playoff without winning the Big Ten. Clemson won the ACC to get to the National Semi-final. Ohio State and Clemson will clash in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.

Ohio State Buckeyes’ Offense

Fiesta Bowl

J.T. Barrett (Photo courtesy: usatoday.com)

The Buckeyes went 11-1 this season to get a bid to the playoff. Their loss was to a really good Penn State team on the road. They have beaten eight bowl eligible teams, which includes Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska.

J.T. Barrett has to be one of the most trusted quarterbacks in college football at this point in his career. He has 2,428 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and five interceptions. His receivers have been inconsistent this season, so his numbers being down aren’t entirely his fault. He has added 847 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Barrett isn’t the fastest runner, but is effective.

Curtis Samuel has been the best receiver for the Buckeyes with 822 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He also has 704 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. No other receiver has been great for the Buckeyes, although Noah Brown has shown flashes. He will need to have a big game to help stretch Clemson’s defense.

Running back Mike Weber has 1,072 rushing yards on 6.1 yards per carry. His nine touchdown runs ties Barrett for the team lead. Weber, Samuel and Barrett creating a dynamic rushing attack is a key to this game.

Ohio State Buckeyes’ Defense

Fiesta Bowl

Malik Hooker (Photo courtesy: Buckeye Dispatch)

Ohio State’s run defense is among the best in the country allowing 118 yards rushing per game. The pass defense is just as good, only allowing 158 yards per game through the air.

Tyquan Lewis has been the best pass rusher for the Buckeyes with 7.5 sacks. Malik Hooker has six interceptions as a ball-hawk safety, which helps the pass defense greatly. Raekwon McMillan will be tasked with stepping up his run defense against Deshaun Watson and Wayne Gallman.

Clemson Tigers’ Offense

Fiesta Bowl

Deshaun Watson (Photo courtesy: nypost.com)

The Tigers only lost one game, but won the ACC Championship. Their one loss was to a tough Pittsburgh Panthers team. Clemson, like Alabama, has beaten 10 bowl teams on the season.

At quarterback Clemson has a dynamic athlete in Deshaun Watson. He has thrown for 3,914 and 37 touchdowns, but a lot of his stats are padded because of screens. He has trouble with decision-making on his throws down the field, which is why he has thrown 15 interceptions. Watson has mobility with 529 yards rushing and six rushing touchdowns. He has to be careful to take care of the ball with an opportunistic Ohio State secondary.

Watson has a lot of different targets. Mike Williams is the most highly touted with 84 receptions, 1,171 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is a match-up problem at six feet three inches tall. Other good targets include tight end Jordan Leggett, Deon Cain, Artavis Scott, Ray Ray McCloud and Hunter Renfroe. All are capable of making plays, but Scott could have a great game due to his quickness.

Wayne Gallman gets the bulk of the carries for the Tigers. He has rushed 1,002 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season. Gallman even missed some time with injury and still put up those numbers.

Clemson Tigers’ Defense

Fiesta Bowl

Ben Boulware (Photo courtesy: zimbio.com)

The rush defense is great, only allowing 126 yards per game. Clemson’s pass defense is also good and within the nation’s top 20 at 188 yards allowed per game.

Carlos Watkins has been great at getting after the quarterback with 8.5 sacks. Jadar Johnson has helped out with six interceptions. Ben Boulware is a great linebacker for Clemson and is a sure tackler. All will need to step up and help stop the rushing attack of Ohio State.


Deshaun Watson hasn’t been a great decision maker this season, which will result in turnovers to the Buckeyes’ secondary. The Ohio State offense won’t be great, but they will make the most of the turnovers. This game will go back and forth and it may come down to who has the ball last.


Ohio State Buckeyes 34 Clemson Tigers 32


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2016 Heisman Race: Lamar Jackson vs Deshaun Watson

The Heisman Trophy is awarded to the most outstanding player in college football each December. This year, the debate, although not highly-argued, is between two ACC quarterbacks, one of which deserves the award much more than the other. Let’s match up the two leaders for the Heisman race: Lamar Jackson vs. Deshaun Watson.

Lamar Jackson took the country into a frenzy this season, as he scored 25 touchdowns in his first four games. Since then, he’s come back down to earth, but only by a little.

Deshaun Watson was a frontrunner to win the award when the season began, and he’s played well enough to be invited to New York City for the award presentation. Watson has managed better passing numbers than Jackson, but to being a Heisman than just throwing the football.

OVerall numbers

As mentioned above, Deshaun Watson has statistically been the better passer of the two major candidates. Watson has thrown for 3,914 yards and 37 touchdowns. Lamar Jackson, on the other hand, has thrown for 3,390 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Lamar Jackson Vs. DeShawn Watson

Did Lamar Jackson foreshadow a Heisman win in his game against NC State? (Photo: USA Today Sports)

When diving deeper into the numbers, Jackson gets a slight advantage. He’s completed passes for an average gain of 15.4 yards, which is sixth in the nation. However, Deshaun Watson is barely at 8.0 yards per completion. Jackson also has a better longest pass on the year, as he’s thrown a 79-yard bomb to Jaylen Smith.

Although Jackson’s edge over Watson in the passing category is small, the difference in rushing totals is huge. Jackson has ran for 1,538 yards, which is almost 1,000 more yards than Watson’s total of 549 yards. Jackson also has 15 more rushing scores than Watson, with a grand total of 21. All in all, Jackson has 51 total touchdowns compared to Watson’s 43.

Jackson is also first in the NCAA among quarterbacks in rushing yards per game. He’s put up 128.2 yards per game, which is 10 yards better than the next best passer. The sophomore quarterback is also second in the NCAA in total offense, fourth in total touchdowns, and eighth in total rushing yards.

In comparison, Deshaun Watson’s best ranking in overall stats comes in passing completions, as he is fourth in the nation. He’s also fifth in passing touchdowns and passing yards.

If the Heisman goes to the most outstanding player in college football, Lamar Jackson has shown he is much more deserving than Watson in terms of season stats.

Individual Bests

In terms of total yards, Lamar Jackson’s best game came against Syracuse. Jackson passed for 411 yards, while rushing for 199 yards. Combined, that’s a healthy 610 total yards. Jackson also scored five touchdowns in the 62-28 win.

For Watson, he accounted for the most yards of his career in a game against Pittsburgh. The Tiger threw for 580 yards on 70 passing attempts. Watson threw three scores, but also threw three picks in the one-point loss.

When it comes to touchdowns, Jackson yet again has the edge. In his first game of the year, Jackson scored eight touchdowns, six of which came threw the air.


Deshaun Watson has had a spectacular year, but will it be enough to win the Heisman? (Photo: Brett Davis/Fox Sports)

Watson reached paydirt five times in two games this season. His first came against Jackson’s Cardinals. He also threw three picks in the game. The second time he scored five times in a game was against Virginia Tech, as he tossed three scores and scampered into the end zone twice.

ESPN’s QBR stat evaluates quarterbacks on every play of a game, and Jackson blows Watson out of the water in this one. Not only did Jackson have a better season-best of the two at 99.8 (100 is a perfect score), but he’s also been better throughout the year. Jackson had a rating of 90.0 or better five times this season, while Watson only had three of such games. Jackson’s season average of 77.2 is better than Watson’s 74.8.

Individual Worsts

As we dive into worst games each has played, it turns each player was basically as bad as the other.

Jackson was stifled by Houston late in the year, putting up 211 passing yards and 33 rushing yards on 25 attempts. Jackson scored just once, but did not throw an interception.

Deshaun Watson’s worst performance came against Auburn. In the game, Watson managed just 248 passing yards. Watson added 21 rushing yards on 11 attempts. He also threw for one touchdown and one interception.

The Head-to-Head Matchup

It is ridiculous that people use the fact that the two played each other in the same game and that that game should be a part of the Heisman argument. If one played cornerback and the other played wide receiver, then I could appreciate the argument. However, just because the two played each other, doesn’t mean they faced the same competition.

Just for kicks and giggles, let’s compare the numbers. Jackson completed 27 of his 44 passes for 295 yards. He threw one touchdown and one pick. Jackson was stellar on the ground, as he ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns.

Watson converted 20 of his 31 passing attempts for 306 yards. He passed for five scores, but was also picked off three times. On the ground, Watson rushed for 91 yards and didn’t score.

In total, Jackson was more efficient. He racked up 457 total yards, compared to Watson’s 397. Although Watson had more touchdowns, he also had three interceptions and a fumble. Jackson had the better game, but this argument should not be used.

The Verdict

The better season has been had by Lamar Jackson. He’s had way more rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and total yards. He’s had a few hiccups as the season has gone on, but that doesn’t take away from how great he’s been.

The Heisman Trophy is awarded to the most outstanding player in college football, Lamar Jackson has been the most outstanding player in the nation this season.

2017 NFL Mock Draft October 23

The draft order of this mock is determined by roughly estimating the NFL final standings.


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


Notre Dame may be slumping right now, but people are still raving about how good Kizer is. He has all the tools you want in a franchise quarterback: arm strength, accuracy, build and football IQ. His build fits with Hue Jackson very well, as before he worked with Andy Dalton, he preferred big strong armed quarterbacks. The Browns are starting to build a roster, but need a quarterback to help them win games.

2. San Francisco 49ers- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

If Chip Kelly is still the head coach, he’s going to need some of his type of players to succeed. Watson is appealing because of his dual-threat abilities and should fit right into how Kelly wants to run his offense. At Clemson this season, Watson hasn’t looked quite as good as he did last season, but scouts have enough tape to see what he is capable of.

3. Chicago Bears- Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami

Three quarterbacks in a row? If these three teams draft in the top three they will all be looking for quarterbacks. The Bears are going to move on from Jay Cutler. Kaaya is more inclined to stay in the pocket than the other two quarterbacks, but has decent mobility himself. He is accurate, has average arm strength and makes smart plays with the ball. One knock on Kaaya is that he doesn’t make the big plays that you would expect out of a highly touted quarterback. He also doesn’t have many impressive wins at Miami

4. New York Jets- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

The Jets have many issues on offense, including quarterback, but before a quarterback can be successful for them, they need the offensive line to step up. If the Jets can improve their offensive line play and get a running game going, it’s possible one of their young quarterbacks (Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty) can be moderately successful.


5. Carolina Panthers- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU


The defense hasn’t been great for the Panthers this season, but the running game has also been an issue. A backfield with Cam Newton and Fournette would be hard for any defense to stop. Fournette has been injured this season, but did come back and have a career day against Ole Miss. The Panthers can get a steal here, as Fournette is one of the two best players in this class.

6. San Diego Chargers- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Garrett is the best player in this class, but quarterbacks always rise on draft day. The Chargers got Joey Bosa in the first round this season, and can have one of the best young front sevens in football with Garrett and him paired together. Garrett is a better pass rusher than he is a run stopper, but is still good at stopping the run. He pursues plays very well and is a sure tackler.

7. Miami Dolphins- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Ryan Tannehill is taking baby steps under new head coach Adam Gase, so they will likely want to see how he progresses after another year in the system. Cook can run the ball in between the tackles, but can also be a valuable receiving weapon for Tannehill out of the back field. If Jay Ajayi continues his good play, the Dolphins may be able to address other needs.

8. Indianapolis Colts- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

Alabama’s win over Texas A&M was highlighted by a scoop and score by Allen. He is a versatile defensive lineman who can stop the run and rush the passer at very high levels. He has six sacks in eight games for the Crimson Tide. Indianapolis needs to upgraded every position on defense, so they can take the best defensive player available.

9. Cincinnati Bengals- Adoree Jackson, CB, USC

The Bengals picked a corner with their first pick last season, William Jackson III, but Adam Jones’ play has been declining and Dre Kirkpatrick hasn’t lived up to expectations. Jackson is a great cover corner, who is one of the most athletic corners in college football. He also can provide a spark in the return game for the Bengals.

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jalen “Teez” Tabor, CB, Florida

Tampa Bay needs to improve their defense if they want to continue to grow in the NFC South. They are in the bottom half of the league in pass yards allowed. A lot of scouts have said that Tabor is better than his former Florida teammate Vernon Hargreaves III, who was selected 11th in last years’ draft by the Buccaneers and is having a good season thus far.

11. New Orleans Saints- Jabril Peppers, LB/DB, Michigan

Peppers is the best defensive player in college football this season. He is versatile enough to play corner, safety, linebacker and even return kicks and plays offense for the Wolverines. The only knock on Peppers defensively, is that he isn’t a ball hawk. He has zero interceptions in his career at Michigan, but is a sure tackler and hardly ever gets beat in coverage. The Saints will be happy to have someone so versatile on their defense, which is so bad.

12. Jacksonville Jaguars- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

If Gus Bradley wants to bring a legion of boom feel to Jacksonville, he needs to bring a couple more players in. The Jaguars are doing better against the pass this season, but can continue to build in their secondary. Humphrey isn’t necessarily a shut-down corner, but makes plays on the ball when it is thrown his way.

13. Detroit Lions- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

Detroit doesn’t have the same defensive line depth they had a few years ago. All four players on the Lions’ defensive line have failing grades according to Profootballfocus.com. Harris follows a line of good pass rushers coming from Missouri, but is really good at stopping the run. He had 18.5 tackles for loss last season for the Tigers.

14. Tennessee Titans- Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Adams is the best safety in this class (if Peppers isn’t counted). He is really good at stopping the run, but proved he can cover elite tight ends, by holding Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram to 15 yards receiving. The Rebels tried to find Engram in the end zone a couple times, but Adams shut him down. The Titans have a solid pass rush, but can improve their secondary to make their defense more dynamic.

15. Baltimore Ravens- JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC

Smith-Schuster had a slow start at the beginning of the season, but is picking it up as of late. He is the best receiver right now in a bad class of wide receivers and has good speed, but sloppy route running at times. The Ravens have Mike Wallave and Steve Smith at wide receiver so replacements will be needed.

16. New York Giants- Malik Mcdowell, DL, Michigan State

Mcdowell can play multiple positions on the defensive line and eats up multiple blockers. This will be great news for the Giants who have an NFL-low six sacks on the season.

17. Tennessee Titans (via Rams)- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Williams is tall and long with a lot of speed, making him a great target for Clemson. He is recovering nicely from his severe neck injury last season. Tennessee needs a good target for Marcus Mariota, other than Delanie Walker, to make their offense more potent.

18. Arizona Cardinals- Caleb Brantley, DL, Florida

The Cardinals do have Robert Nkemdiche from the NFL Draft last year, but Calais Campbell can’t play forever. Brantley can be a future replacement for him.

19. Cleveland Browns (via Eagles)- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The future of Joe Thomas in Cleveland is in doubt, but to be honest the Browns have a lot of needs. McGlinchey has played both left tackle and right tackle in his college career, but will probably end up as a right tackle in the pros.

20. Kansas City Chiefs- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

Marcus Peters has played really well for the Chiefs, but the other corners have not played well. White is a very athletic corner, who is also a leader on the field for the Tigers. LSU awards the number 18 to a player who is a leader and White is in his second straight year with that number. He is a leader among leaders at LSU.

21. Green Bay Packers- Desmond King, CB, Iowa

King is the best corner against the run in this class. He is also a ball-hawk with eight interceptions last year. His athleticism is apparent on punt and kick returns. The Packers don’t have many good corners so upgrading is key for that position.

22. Houston Texans- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

The Texans don’t have too many glaring needs. Brock Osweiler is still up in the air, but for now he is still the quarterback. Houston could at the very least use some depth for their secondary. Hooker makes plays at safety, but is a little bit inexperienced.

23. Washington Redskins- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Washington already has a good pass-rush, but if their isn’t a chance to upgrade their offense with this pick, they should continue to build that defense. Barnett is one of the best pass-rushers in the class and can have an instant impact, but has been battling injuries this season.

24. Buffalo Bills- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama

Rex Ryan has the Bills getting to the quarterback this season, but they are in the same boat as the Redskins with this pick. Williams is almost exclusively a pass-rusher, but college football analysts and scouts are raving about the impact he can have at the next level.

25. Oakland Raiders- Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

The inside linebackers for the Raiders have played awful. In order to become the elite team they want to be, Oakland needs to improve this position. Davis is one of the best players on one of the best defenses in the country. He is a solid player, but won’t have any elite qualities as a pro.

26. Denver Broncos- Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State

At 20 years old, Johnson’s body is still developing, but he is already 6’7″ and 311 pounds. He has developed into a great tackle at Florida State, but can blossom in Denver. The Broncos might be relying on an unproven quarterback, so they will need to make his protection a priority.

27. Atlanta Falcons- Dawuane Smoot, DE/OLB, Illinois

The Falcons are another team that has a bad defense that needs improving. Smoot might appear to be a good pass rusher based on his DE/LB capabilities, but is actually a better run stopper.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Reuben Foster just feels like a Steeler. Pittsburgh’s linebackers aren’t that talented and they need inside linebackers to step up. Foster is a sure tackler who might be the most talented linebacker to come out of Alabama in the Nick Saban era.

29. Seattle Seahawks- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Christine Michael has been solid for the Seahawks, but they have a chance to take a guy who might be the most versatile running back in the class. McCaffrey can run in between the tackles, runs routes like receivers and is one of the best kick returners in college football.

30. Dallas Cowboys- Carroll Phillips, DL, Illinois

There has been one constant for the Cowboys in terms of needs and that is defensive line depth. Phillips has five sacks on the season and forced a fumble against Michigan.

31. New England Patriots- Marcus Maye, S, Florida

The Patriots don’t absolutely need safety help, but they will take the bst player available or trade the pick. Maye is the hardest hitting safety in the class and will deter receivers from going across the middle.

32. Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings)- Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson

The Eagles’ defense is having a great year, now that they aren’t on the field so much like they were under Chip Kelly. The weak spot for the defense is the corner back position. Tankersley had five interceptions last season, but isn’t getting thrown at as much this season, and thus has none this season.


For more good mock drafts visit: DC Pro Sports Report


Heisman Watch

It is mid-October, which means the College Football season is heating up. We truly have a good enough body of work to look at which players are ready for a run at the legendary 25-pound trophy named Heisman.

And in no particular order, here are the players I have on my Heisman Watch List. Every week, even if I don’t write about it, I always talk about my Heisman Watch list on my new podcast Across The Goal Line with my co-host Robert McCachren.

Lamar Jackson, QB Louisville

Courtesy of The Crunch Zone

Courtesy of The Crunch Zone

One of the greatest beginnings to a season in college football history. Jackson has otherworldly tangible talent. He leads his teams in passing yards and is the team leader in rushing yards. Through Week 7, he has passed for over 1806 yards and has rushed for 832 yards. He has 15 passing touchdowns and 15 rushing touchdowns. That is only through seven weeks. Many quarterbacks won’t get 30 touchdowns this season. But, that’s what makes Lamar Jackson who he is. Jackson, at the quarterback position, is the fifth-leading rusher in the FBS and he is the FBS leader in rushing touchdowns, from the quarterback position!

Those are all of his tangible talents, but this sophomore quarterback is a leader and has the respect of his team. His team looks to him when they are down and in a jam. He is the playmaker of the offense and he does not melt under the bright lights.

The Clemson game told me everything I needed to know about Jackson. Down 28-10 at halftime, he and the offense came out on fire. They started the second half with 26 unanswered points on a very good Clemson Tiger defense. Jackson never lost composure during the whole game no matter if the score was 28-10 or 28-36. He just has that baller mentality. He never quits and he goes 100% every play he is on the field. I love it.

Even though the Clemson game didn’t end in his team’s favor, it definitely won over many of the people watching him on primetime. After the game, he didn’t throw his receiver under the bus for not getting upfield and getting the first down. Instead, he took responsibility for the loss and took the loss like the veteran leader he has grown to be.

Deshaun Watson, QB Clemson

Courtesy of Sporting News

Courtesy of Sporting News

Last year, he was the premiere athlete at the quarterback position in college football. This year, he and his offense started very slow. He struggled to be the “Deshaun Watson” that we had deemed him to be. He had a slow start to the season opening up against Auburn on the road and at home against Troy. In those two games, his completion rate has about 53% and his adjusted QBR was 60.6. That is way below the bar Watson has set for himself. From Week 3 and on we have seen more of the Deshaun Watson we expected to see.

This year when the lights shined the brightest, Watson showed up. On Week 5 against Lamar Jackson and the surging Louisville Cardinals, Watson reintroduced himself into the Heisman race. He did throw three interceptions and one on a critical drive in the fourth quarter, but in Watson-like fashion he came back after being down 38-26 to win the game 42-38. Watson manufactured two straight touchdown drives in fourth quarter to give the Tigers a chance to win the game.

Yes, he started the season very slow. However, I like that after the second game of the season against Troy, he addressed his below average play. After that press conference, we were back to seeing the Deshaun Watson we wanted to see.

Through Week 7, Watson has thrown for 1950 yards, 20 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He has also contributed 279 yards on the ground and one score. If he can continue to win and play at a high level, people will start to forget his first two games of the season.

Jalen Hurts, QB Alabama

Ron Jenkins/ Getty Images

Ron Jenkins/ Getty Images

Surprisingly enough Jalen Hurts is still not on many people’s Heisman List, but he has been on my radar since Week 2. He is the quarterback of the best team in college football. How is this kid not getting any recognition? It’s because his numbers don’t really jump at you. He has 1385 yards passing, nine passing touchdowns, and three interceptions. On the ground, he has 428 yards and eight touchdowns. The kid is very special.

He is the first freshman to start for Nick Saban, ever! He is only 18. Think about what you were doing at 18 and I mean really think about it. Many of us were flunking our first year of college Spanish, drinking at frat parties, and making “Mom, I’m broke. Please send money” signs for College Gameday. This true freshman beat the odds and became the starting quarterback of the University of Alabama.

He has passed every test in front of him with flying colors. He beat USC in his first game on a neutral field. He has played some of his best ball against Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

Most noticeable game being his last game against rival Tennessee on the road when he gained 275 yards rushing and passing and scored three times using his legs. That Tennessee game is not even his best statistical game, but this game was probably the most important game he has played. It really showed the whole nation that he should be on everyone’s Heisman watch list.

Even though his numbers don’t jump off the screen at you, his play on the field does jump out to me. He is playing some of the most efficient ball from all FBS quarterbacks. He doesn’t put his team in bad situations and he has the respect of his peers. Many college quarterbacks don’t do these things, but as a freshman, Jalen Hurts is a leader of men and that can’t be measured in the stat books.

J.T. Barrett, QB Ohio State

Courtesy of Sporting News

Courtesy of Sporting News

J.T. Barrett, just like Deshaun Watson, has managed Heisman hype in previous seasons and going into this season he was definitely on everyone’s Heisman watch radar. But during this season, he hasn’t been the consistent player we know he can be. Even though he has gained 1641 total yards and has scored 20 touchdowns, it just feels like he can do so much better.

Barrett and Watson are having almost completely different years. Watson started off slow and has picked up steam now. While, Barrett started off very hot out of the gate. In two of his first four games, he completed 70% or more of his passes. Also in that four game stretch, he completed no less than 63% of his passes.

In his last two games he has not played up to his standards. In the Indiana game, he posted his career-low in adjusted QBR (46) in any game that he started and finished. In the first half of the Wisconsin game, he and his team struggled to move the ball. Barrett lead the troops in the second half and they escaped the upset at Camp Randall. All of his three touchdowns came in the second half and overtime.

Out of all four players on my Heisman watch list, J.T. Barrett has to show me he can keep the Indiana game and the first half of the Wisconsin in his rear view mirror. I think he can do that.

Heisman Watch Honorable Mention

Michigan defensive back/linebacker Jabrill Peppers is one of the most dangerous players in College Football. He is on the verge of being on my Heisman watch list. He is a game changer for the Wolverines on defense. He can play defensive back and he is even strong enough to come down and play linebacker. He also leads the country in punt return yards. The Wolverines have also used him to spark their offensive. In their last game, Peppers scored two rushing touchdowns. This player is probably the only player in the country that has the possibility to score every kind of touchdown. He can do everything on the football field. There hasn’t been a player like him since Charles Woodson, and Woodson and Peppers have something in common. The Maize and Blue.


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“From Our House to Yours”

2017 NFL Mock Draft October 3

The draft order of this mock draft is decided by using current NFL standings and predictions on where teams will finish.

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

Kizer has flown up draft boards since the season began due to his great play. He has the size, arm strength and accuracy to make all throws required of an NFL quarterback. His athleticism is also a huge plus and he doesn’t run recklessly, which will make Browns fans happy after the RGIII injury. Hue Jackson likes Cody Kessler, but Kizer fits more of what he had at quarterback before being successful with Andy Dalton in Cincinnati.

2. Chicago Bears- Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami

Could there be two straight years of quarterbacks going number one and number two in the draft? The Bears need to move on from Jay Cutler. John Fox has said Cutler isn’t guaranteed the starting job back after he returns from injury, which means he is most likely on his way out after the season. Kaaya isn’t as athletic or big as Kizer, but he is great at knowing how much heat, or lack thereof, to get the ball to his receivers and is very accurate at making throws down field.

3. New Orleans Saints- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

New Orleans has a chance to be the worst defense in the history of football…again. If they draft this high they need to take a guy who can be an elite player for years. Garrett is one of the best pass rushers to come into the league in the past few years. He has great speed and power, but more impressively he is able to set up his opponent to get where he wants to and make a play. He needs to work on his run defense, but the Saints can’t pass up on his pass-rushing abilities.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

The Jags aren’t thrilled with T.J. Yeldon’s production and Chris Ivory certainly isn’t a long term solution. Blake Bortles is accused of being a garbage-time quarterback, because he and his talented receivers are putting up numbers when the game is already lost. One way to help fix this problem is to run the ball early to open things up. Fournette is a physical freak and can do just about anything asked of him. With Fournette, Jacksonville could have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.

5. San Francisco 49ers- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Watson hasn’t played great this season, but last year more than makes up for his slow start this year, so far. Watson can run the ball, but hasn’t done so  effectively this year. His passing has been off and he locks on his best receiver Mike Williams a lot. If Chip Kelly is still with the 49ers next year, Watson would be a good fit for his system and would give the 49ers more help on offense.

6. Miami Dolphins- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

If Ryan Tannehill doesn’t start playing well, the Dolphins could go after a quarterback. For now they can get a talented running back, which fills a need. Cook is elusive as a runner and is a great receiver out of the backfield. He is not great as a pass protector, but could improve in time.

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

The left side of the Chargers’ offensive line hasn’t played well. Phillip Rivers can play for several more years if he has the proper protection. Robinson is the best offensive tackle in the class by far, making this an easy pick for the Chargers.

8. Tennessee Titans- Adoree Jackson, CB, USC

Jackson is one of the best athletes in this draft class and can do a little bit of everything. The Titans will need him at corner, but he will also help in the return game and could also help out on offense as a receiver. The defense has been awful for the Titans and Jackson can start immediately in their secondary.

9. Detroit Lions- Malik McDowell, DT, MSU

The Lions don’t have great players on the interior of their defensive line. McDowell has great size and athleticism and uses his talents to get through blockers to make plays in the running game. He won’t put up huge numbers as a pass rusher, but he does take on double teams to free up other players on defense to get to the quarterback.

10. Buffalo Bills- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

Rex Ryan is a defensive guru, but his players can’t get to the quarterback. The Bills offense may never be too dynamic, so they need to get to the opponent’s quarterback to help keep their team in the game. Allen had 12 sacks last year and already has three this season.

11. Washington Redskins- Jabril Peppers, LB/S, Michigan

Josh Norman is the only player on the Redskins’ defense who has played great this season. If they want to continue being competitive they need to upgrade a lot of positions, because their offense won’t win them too many games. Peppers may be the best all-around defender in this class. He has the versatility to play linebacker or safety in the NFL. He is a sure tackler who is always in great position. One knock on him is that he doesn’t have an interception in his college career, so he needs to show the ability capitalize when quarterbacks throw his way. His ability to return kicks will be highly coveted.

12. Indianapolis Colts- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

Indianapolis has two options in the draft: 1. help protect Andrew Luck or 2. improve the defense. There aren’t many great offensive lineman in this draft, so the selection should be easy. Harris is a great pass rusher, with three sacks on the season for the Tigers. He can also help stop the run behind the line of scrimmage, he totaled 18.5 tackles for loss last season.

13. New York Jets- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Darrelle Revis hasn’t played well all season. The Jets’ other corners haven’t been the greatest either. Jets’ fans may not like taking another corner from Alabama (they just cut Dee Milliner, a former Alabama player), but Humphrey is certainly talented enough to be selected in the first half of the first round. Humphrey is young, but has already made a lot of great plays for the Crimson Tide. He should continue to grow and get better as this season goes on.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Barnett is a great pass rusher, who is overshadowed by Myles Garrett. His 21 career sacks are amazing for playing on an SEC team, but he needs to stop the run better to be an elite prospect. The Bucs need better defensive line play to help Jameis Winston take this team where they want to go.

15. Carolina Panthers- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Another team that could use offensive linemen, but there isn’t one worthy of being picked. The Panthers can upgrade over Kurt Coleman, who has been a below average player so far this season. Hooker has been a ball hawk this season and has great size and speed.

16. Arizona Cardinals- Caleb Brantley, DE, Florida

The Cardinals have had a need on defensive line for a long time, but it has been better recently. Calais Campbell can’t play forever though. Brantley is one of the best players on a great collegiate defense at Florida.

17. Cincinnati Bengals- Micke McGlinchy, OT, Notre Dame

Before week four of the NFL season the Bengals had given up the most sacks in the NFL. Right tackle and center need to be upgraded so Cincinnati can fill one of those void here. McGlinchey plays left tackle at Notre Dame now, but has extensive experience at right tackle in previous seasons.

18. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Williams is a tall lanky receiver who is capable of making plays. He isn’t the fastest guy, but uses his size to make grabs over defenders. The Titans’ best receiver is Tajee Sharpe, who has potential, but another good receiver is needed for Mariota’s development.

19. Houston Texans- Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida

Jonathan Joseph has played horrible this year. The Texans look to have a decent offense now, but upgrading the secondary can make their defense elite.

20. Oakland Raiders- Tim Williams, LB, Alabama

Oakland has a terrible defense and needs upgrades everywhere. Even Khalil Mack hasn’t played well this season. Williams has impressed as a pass rusher who has athletic ability this season.

21. Atlanta Falcons- Desmond King, CB, Iowa

The Falcons also has an awful defense and need help just about everywhere. King is a ball-hawk who can turn an interception into a touchdown quickly. He is also a sure tackler who can help in the running game.

22. Dallas Cowboys- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

White is not only an athletic corner who makes plays, but is also a team leader. He has worn the number 18 at LSU for two years now, which symbolizes that leadership. The Cowboys still need pass rushers, but taking a corner here would fill a need as well.

23. New York Giants- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

McCaffrey may be the most complete back in this class. He can return kicks, catch passes and run the ball inside the tackles. He would bring a whole new dimension to the Giants offense and make it better.

24. Kansas City Chiefs- JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC

Kansas City really only has Jeremy Maclin as a viable receiver. Smith-Schuster has disappointed scouts this season, but still has the necessary size and speed to be molded into a good NFL pass-catcher.

25. Green Bay Packers- Jamal Adams, S, LSU

The Packers have a talented roster as always, so they can take the best player available. Adams is the most accomplished safety in the class as he has started at LSU for multiple years now.

26. Pittsburgh Steelers- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Jesse James hasn’t played great yet and Ladarius Green isn’t reliable. Howard can make the Steelers’ offense even more dynamic. He is very talented, but is underutilized at Alabama.

27. Seattle Seahawks- Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State

Russell Wilson needs to be protected and he hasn’t been for the last two years. Johnson has fallen in most mock drafts, but should produce good value at the end of the first round, while also filling the Seahawks’ biggest need.

28. Cleveland Browns- Dawaune Smoot, DE, Illinois

Smoot is an underrated player because he goes to Illinois, but he can get after the quarterback. The Browns need help across the board to help their young team. They picked Kizer with the first pick and can now address the pass rush.

29. Baltimore Ravens- Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennesse

Sutton has been hampered by injury this season, but is still a great shut down corner. The Ravens upgraded their safety position by adding Eric Weddle, but can now get some corners to go with him.

30. Philadelphia Eagles- Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

Carson Wentz has looked great despite not having a great running game. If Chubb can overcome his injuries, he can be a workhorse back in the NFL.

31. Denver Broncos- Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

The Broncos lost a few linebackers from their Super Bowl winning team last year and can now get some young guys to help out at that spot. McMillan will fit nicely next to Brandon Marshall, if he is still with Denver next season.

32. New England Patriots- Devonte Fields, DE/OLB, Louisville

Fields won the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year when playing at TCU. There are some concerns about his character, as he was kicked out of TCU, but his on-field play has been great. The Patriots have taken players with questionable backgrounds before and made them into stars.



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