2018 NFL Mock Draft 10/17/17

 

With over a third of the NFL season in the books, it is getting easier to see where teams will be drafting in the 2018 NFL Draft. Here is a first round NFL mock draft.

1. Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Browns look like the worst team in football right now. DeShone Kizer has been pulled in favor of Kevin Hogan, which means they may be in the market for a quarterback, if Kizer doesn’t figure things out. Darnold has the stature of an NFL quarterback, but has nine interceptions on the season already and has to make better decisions if he wants to be the number one pick.

2. San Francisco 49ers- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Rosen is among the FBS leaders in passing yards and has had a good junior season thus far. He too has to work on decision making, but most importantly has shown that he doesn’t have any arm problems after incurring nerve damage in his throwing arm last season. The 49ers may get Kirk Cousins, but if they can’t, they need a quarterback.

3. New York Giants- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

The Giants got their first win of the season and they got the running game going against a tough Broncos team. Orleans Darkwa looks like he is better than any running back they have had for years. Because the running back situation is a little bit better, the Giants will likely draft a tackle. Williams isn’t the biggest guy, so he may need to add some weight, but he is very athletic. He is currently injured with damaged ligaments in his knee and will have to prove he is healthy to be selected highly.

4. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Calvin Ridley (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

Chicago has decided to make Mitch Trubisky the starting quarterback. They have to get him some weapons in the passing game other than Tarik Cohen. Ridley is a dynamic playmaker that can make people miss once he gets the ball in his hands. He may be better as a pro than as a college player, as Jalen Hurts isn’t the greatest throwing quarterback.

5. Los Angeles Chargers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

The Chargers now have two wins on the season and are playing better football. They have a lot of solid players, but could upgrade their safety position. James is one of the best players in this class and looks like he is capable of doing anything on a football field. If he doesn’t get selected early, it is due to concerns about his injuries. He missed most of the 2016 season with a shoulder injury.

6. Oakland Raiders- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

Oakland only has 11 sacks on the year and could use an elite pass rushed to go with Khalil Mack. Key is starting to create havoc and get into a groove for the Tigers. He is a great speed rusher that would benefit from adding some more pass rushing moves to his arsenal.

7. Indianapolis Colts- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Barkley is a premier talent who runs with great moves that are reminiscent of Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith. Frank Gore may look like he can play forever, but he is nearing the end of his career. Getting a dynamic playmaker like Barkley would balance the offense and take some pressure off of Andrew Luck when he comes back.

8. Cincinnati Bengals- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Cincinnati has one of the worst offensive lines in football and need to address it badly. McGlinchey would have been selected pretty highly had he come out last season, but elected to go back to school. He has struggled so far this season, but the Notre Dame running game has started to get going. He has shown better athletic ability this season, which should help his value.

9. Tampa Bay Bucs- Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama

Fitzpatrick has played both safety and corner in his time at Alabama. He has all the physical tools to be successful, but needs to work on his technique and positioning. Tampa Bay just got torched by Carson Palmer and needs to get some more athletes in the secondary.

10. Tennessee Titans- Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

The Titans have just eight sacks on the season. If they want to start winning more, Marcus Mariota will need to stay healthy and they need to have a better pass rush. Bryant has 5.5 sacks on the season, but could be more consistent. Four of his sacks came against Auburn. He will need to prove himself in the back half of the college season.

11. Dallas Cowboys- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Payne makes freakish plays for a defensive tackle. He hasn’t done much in the stats department this season, but takes on multiple blocks at a time. Starting defensive tackle Stephen Paea decided to retire, leaving the Cowboys even thinner on the interior of the defensive line. Payne will help them stop the run better.

12. New York Jets- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Allen has struggled this season, but what most hurts his cause is how often he struggles against good competition. He is very raw as a prospect and needs a year to sit and learn, as well as work on his craft. The Jets have somehow managed to get to .500 and can have Allen sit behind Josh McCown.

13. Arizona Cardinals- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Lamar Jackson (Photo by twitter.com)

Carson Palmer looks better, but the Cardinals still need to think about the future. If Palmer continues to play well, Jackson can sit and learn behind him. Jackson still has issues throwing the ball, but is a dynamic runner. He has improved his efficiency this year, which has helped his draft stock.

14. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Cleveland doesn’t have too much at receiver. Kenny Britt isn’t a number one and Corey Coleman can’t stay healthy. In order to help their young quarterbacks they need to get a good receiver. Kirk has some big play ability and demonstrated that against Arkansas with 110 receiving yards and 136 kick off return yards. He will be tested in the coming weeks against good secondaries in the SEC.

15. Baltimore Ravens- James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

Joe Flacco needs someone legitimate to throw to on a consistent basis. Washington has been making big plays for years at Oklahoma State and couldn’t hurt Flacco’s production. As with a lot of quarterbacks, there will be a question about what system he plays in, but Washington produces and makes big plays, which will appeal to NFL scouts.

16. Detroit Lions- Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State

Martinas Rankin is a very efficient pass blocker and can be a great left tackle in the NFL. The Lions have a terrible left side of the offensive line and need to upgrade it. The Lions like to pass a lot so they will likely love the pass blocking of Rankin. They need to keep Stafford upright since he is so highly paid now.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

The Jaguars can either draft to improve the offensive line or they can take one of the many talented quarterbacks in this class. Rudolph isn’t getting a lot of love right now, but when people watch his tape they will like his deep ball. He has had a lot of production in college and can be a successful NFL quarterback.

18. Miami Dolphins- Iman Marshall, CB, USC

The Dolphins don’t have a good secondary and it was evident when they let the Jets throw for 249 yards on 18 of 23 passing. Marshall would be an immediate upgrade at corner. He was overshadowed by Adoree Jackson last year, but is now shining. He is a shutdown corner that has started since his freshman season as a Trojan. Teams are actively looking to not throw his way when they play USC.

19. New Orleans Saints- Harold Landry, DE/LB, Boston College

Landry led the FBS in sacks last year and decided to go back to school for his final season. He has started to heat up this season with five sacks in seven games, but has played some stiff competition. New Orleans has been doing well at rushing the passer, but that likely won’t keep up, so they need to address the issue.

20. Buffalo Bills- Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

St. Brown has had a hard time getting involved in the Notre Dame offense early, but that is only partially on him. He is a big athletic receiver that looks like he could be more productive in the NFL than he has been in college. Tyrod Taylor needs a better option as his top receiver and St. Brown can be that guy.

21. Washington Redskins- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Malik Jefferson (Photo by hornfm.com)

Jefferson is a talented linebacker, who hasn’t totally lived up to his potential, but is starting to show flashes that he can. Mason Foster is old and hasn’t played particularly well this year, so Jefferson could play next to Zach Brown.

22. Seattle Seahawks- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Brown has NFL bloodlines and a big body.  He needs to prove that he has the athleticism and speed to deal with the fast pass rushers in the NFL. If he can do that, he can see himself move up draft boards. The Seahawks have to start protecting Russell Wilson better or he won’t last much longer. They also haven’t been able to run the football at all.

23. Atlanta Falcons- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

Desmond Trufant is a good corner, but the Falcons need more if they are going to stop some of the best offenses in the NFC. McFadden provides good value here and has been a shut down corner this season.

24. Denver Broncos- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

The Broncos are another team that don’t have too many needs. Nelson provides good value and would’ve been a first round pick had he come out in last year’s draft class. Ronald Leary can kick out to right tackle so Nelson can play right guard, or he can play left guard for Denver.

25. Los Angeles Rams- Kevin Toliver, CB, LSU

The Rams allowed Brian Hoyer to throw for 332 yards on them a few weeks ago, so they really need to improve their secondary. In four games so far this season, Toliver hasn’t done much, but he will face stiffer competition as the season goes on. The potential is there, but he still needs to prove it on the field.

26. Carolina Panthers- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

While Cam Newton is playing better, the offensive line still needs to be improved upon. They need to get the ground game going to set up Cam Newton in the passing game. Hyatt looks like a player who could be versatile at the NFL level and could play multiple positions on the offensive line.

27. Green Bay Packers- Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Jordan Thomas (Photo by youtube.com)

The Packers need to get some better players in the secondary. Thomas has a lot of experience at Oklahoma and would address a big need. With a good rest of this season, he could compete for a starting spot in the NFL.

28. Minnesota Vikings- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Wilkins is a part of the very productive and talented defensive line at Clemson. He already has 3.5 sacks and four tackles for loss on the season and does a good job at both defending the run and rushing the passer from the interior. The Vikings can’t rely on Shariff Floyd to stay healthy and need to get a replacement.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Pittsburgh doesn’t have a good safety on their roster. Mike Mitchell specifically needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Harrison has the chance to be a good strong safety in the NFL with his great size. He is 6’3″, 214 pounds and impacts games in a variety of ways.

30. New England Patriots- Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

Chubb has been a catalyst in N.C. State’s wins over Louisville and Florida State. He has already accrued 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. The Patriots need help all over on defense, but have lost some of their best pass rushers in recent years and need to replace them.

31. Philadelphia Eagles- Simmie Cobbs Jr., Indiana

The Eagles have Alshon Jeffrey on a one year deal and Torrey Smith isn’t doing much. Carson Wentz needs some more weapons as he continues to develop. Cobbs has produced a lot at Indiana and is a big receiver who can create matchup problems in the NFL.

32. Buffalo Bills (via KC)-  Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith has done a little bit of everything for Georgia this season with 53 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack and two passes defended. Buffalo’s linebackers have not performed this year and getting better there would pay dividends.

 

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from great TGH writers!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

2018 NFL Mock Draft 10/9/17

This NFL mock draft is ordered using current NFL records with estimated finishes.

1. Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Browns look like the worst team in football right now. They had to pull DeShone Kizer from the game and put in Kevin Hogan, which means they may be in the market for a quarterback, if Kizer doesn’t figure things out. Darnold has the stature of an NFL quarterback, but has nine interceptions on the season already and has to make better decisions if he wants to be the number one pick.

2. San Francisco 49ers- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Rosen currently leads the FBS in passing yards and has had a good junior season thus far. He too has to work on decision making, but most importantly has shown that he doesn’t have any arm problems after incurring nerve damage in his throwing arm last season. The 49ers may get Kirk Cousins, but if they can’t, they need a quarterback.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Saquon Barkley (Photo by pennlive.com)

3. New York Giants- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

The Giants are still win-less this season and now have had injuries to their three best receivers. The Giants have terrible tackles and may elect to go that route, but they also have no running game because their running backs aren’t good. Barkley is a premier talent who runs with great moves that are reminiscent of Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith.

4. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Chicago has decided to make Mitch Trubisky the starting quarterback. They have to get him some weapons in the passing game other than Tarik Cohen. Ridley is a dynamic playmaker that can make people miss once he gets the ball in his hands. He may be better as a pro than as a college player, as Jalen Hurts isn’t the greatest throwing quarterback.

5. Los Angeles Chargers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

The Chargers finally got a win, albeit over the Giants. They have a lot of solid players, but could upgrade their safety position. James is one of the best players in this class and looks like he is capable of doing anything on a football field. If he doesn’t get selected early, it is due to concerns about his injuries. He missed most of the 2016 season with a shoulder injury.

6. Indianapolis Colts- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

Indianapolis has to get some more quality players on their roster, because they look lost without Andrew Luck. In their first three games they only have six sacks, so getting a pass rusher early makes sense. Key has only played in three games so far due to suspension, with only a half sack.

7. Arizona Cardinals- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Allen has struggled this season, but what most hurts his cause is how often he struggles against good competition. He is very raw as a prospect and needs a year to sit and learn, as well as work on his craft. The Cardinals can afford to sit him behind Carson Palmer next season (assuming Palmer comes back for another year) and let him learn. Arizona has shown that they like tall, strong armed and athletic quarterbacks as they tried to work with Logan Thomas, who fit that mold.

8. Cincinnati Bengals- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Cincinnati has one of the worst offensive lines in football and need to address it badly. McGlinchey would have been selected pretty highly had he come out last season, but elected to go back to school. He has struggled so far this season, but the Notre Dame running game has started to get going. He has shown better athletic ability this season, which should help his value.

9. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama

With running back already addressed, the Browns can start to improve their defense. They signed Jason McCourty, who is in his ninth NFL season, to play corner, but they don’t have much else at the position. Fitzpatrick has played both safety and corner in his time at Alabama. He has all the physical tools to be successful, but needs to work on his technique and positioning.

10. Tennessee Titans- Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

The Titans have just seven sacks on the season. If they want to start winning more, Marcus Mariota will need to stay healthy and they need to have a better pass rush. Bryant has five sacks on the season, but could be more consistent. Four of his sacks came against Auburn. He will need to prove himself in the back half of the college season.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Connor Williams (Photo by youtube.com)

11. Dallas Cowboys- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

While the three best players on Dallas’ offensive line have played well, they do have week spots at right tackle and left guard. If Jonathan Cooper, La’el Collins and/or Chaz Green don’t step up they may elect to take a tackle in a heavy tackle class. Williams isn’t the biggest guy, so he may need to add some weight, but he is very athletic. He is currently injured with damaged ligaments in his knee and will have to prove he is healthy to be selected highly.

12. Oakland Raiders- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

Landry led the FBS in sacks last year and decided to go back to school for his final season. He has gotten off to a slow start with only two sacks in five games, but has played some stiff competition. He is likely going to start turning it on now. Oakland needs to find a pass rushing partner for Khalil Mack.

13. Miami Dolphins- Iman Marshall, CB, USC

The Dolphins don’t have a good secondary and it was evident when they let the Jets throw for 249 yards on 18 of 23 passing. Marshall would be an immediate upgrade at corner. He was overshadowed by Adoree Jackson last year, but is now shining. He is a shutdown corner that has started since his freshman season as a Trojan. Teams are actively looking to not throw his way when they play USC.

14. New Orleans Saints- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Yes there are a lot of quarterbacks in this mock, but it is a loaded class (as of now). The Saints might be looking towards the future with Drew Brees aging and becoming a free agent. Rudolph can put up numbers like Brees, at least in college, and isn’t dependent on arm strength, much like Brees too. He has been very good at protecting the football as well, with only four interceptions thrown and 67.6% completion.

15. Washington Redskins- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

This is all assuming that Kirk Cousins is back again to quarterback the Washington Redskins. They don’t have a lot of weak areas on their team, but could use a wide receiver if Terelle Pryor leaves in free agency. Kirk has some big play ability and demonstrated that against Arkansas with 110 receiving yards and 136 kick off return yards. He will be tested in the coming weeks against good secondaries in the SEC.

16. Tampa Bay Buccanneers- Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State

Donovan Smith has been given a long time to play tackle better and has yet to do so. The Bucs need to keep their franchise quarterback upright. They also need to help get the running game going to take some pressure off of Jameis Winston. Martinas Rankin is a very efficient pass blocker and can be a great left tackle in the NFL.

17. Minnesota Vikings- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

The Vikings can’t rely on Shariff Floyd to stay healthy and need to get a replacement. Minnesota can have an even scarier defensive line with this pick. Payne will likely go earlier than this once the quarterbacks separate themselves more, because he makes freakish plays for a defensive tackle.

2018 NFL mock draft

Lamar Jackson (Photo by courier-journal.com)

18. New York Jets- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

With all of the talk of the Jets being pleased with Chritian Hackenberg, he hasn’t been good enough to work himself onto the field consistently. In what looks to be a good quarterback class, they need to take one with their pick. Jackson still has issues throwing the ball, but is a dynamic runner. He has improved his efficiency this year, which has helped his draft stock.

19. Baltimore Ravens- James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

Joe Flacco needs someone legitimate to throw to on a consistent basis. Washington has been making big plays for years at Oklahoma State and couldn’t hurt Flacco’s production. As with a lot of quarterbacks, there will be a question about what system he plays in, but Washington produces and makes big plays, which will appeal to NFL scouts.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars- Trey Adams, OT, Washington

Jacksonville hasn’t had the greatest offensive line play yet. They could elect to take Adams and move Cam Robinson inside or reconfigure the line in another way. With Blake Bortles playing better fixing the offensive line seems like the best option for now.

21. Los Angeles Rams- Kevin Toliver, CB, LSU

The Rams allowed Brian Hoyer to throw for 332 yards on them a few weeks ago, so they really need to improve their secondary. In four games so far this season, Toliver hasn’t done much, but he will face stiffer competition as the season goes on. The potential is there, but he still needs to prove it on the field.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers- Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

Ben Roethlisberger has lost something and doesn’t look himself. Pair that with the fact that he has contemplated retirement recently and the Steelers may be scrambling for a quarterback. Josh Dobbs or Landry Jones are likely not the answer so Pittsburgh may elect to draft a quarterback. Falk is an efficient quarterback, but will need to prove to teams he isn’t a “system quarterback”.

23. Detroit Lions- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

The interior of the Lions’ defensive line is atrocious. They need to address it in the draft. Wilkins is a part of the very productive and talented defensive line at Clemson. He already has 3.0 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss on the season and does a good job at both defending the run and rushing the passer from the interior.

24. Buffalo Bills- Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

St. Brown has had a hard time getting involved in the Notre Dame offense early, but that is only partially on him. He is a big athletic receiver that looks like he could be more productive in the NFL than he has been in college. Tyrod Taylor needs a better option as his top receiver and St. Brown can be that guy.

2018 NFL mock draft

Orlando Brown (Photo by tulsaworld.com)

25. Seattle Seahawks- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Brown has NFL bloodlines and a big body.  He needs to prove that he has the athleticism and speed to deal with the fast pass rushers in the NFL. If he can do that, he can see himself move up draft boards. The Seahawks have to start protecting Russell Wilson better or he won’t last much longer. They also haven’t been able to run the football at all.

26. New England Patriots- Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

Chubb has been a catalyst in N.C. State’s upsets of Louisville and Florida State. He has already accrued 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. The Patriots need help all over on defense, but have lost some of their best pass rushers in recent years and need to replace them.

27. Atlanta Falcons- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

Desmond Trufant is a good corner, but the Falcons need more if they are going to stop some of the best offenses in the NFC. McFadden provides good value here and has been a shut down corner this season.

28. Denver Broncos- Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

The Broncos are another team that don’t have too many needs. Nelson provides good value and would’ve been a first round pick had he come out in last year’s draft class. Ronald Leary can kick out to right tackle so Nelson can play right guard, or he can play left guard for Denver.

29. Philadelphia Eagles- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Philadelphia doesn’t have too many needs, but could upgrade at safety. Harrison has the chance to be a good strong safety in the NFL with his great size. He is 6’3″, 214 pounds and impacts games in a variety of ways.

30. Carolina Panthers- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

While Cam Newton is playing better, the offensive line still needs to be improved upon. They need to get the ground game going to set up Cam Newton in the passing game. Hyatt looks like a player who could be versatile at the NFL level and could play multiple positions on the offensive line.

31. Green Bay Packers- Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma

The Packers need to get some better players in the secondary. Thomas has a lot of experience at Oklahoma and would address a big need. With a good rest of this season, he could compete for a starting spot in the NFL.

32. Buffalo Bills (via KC)- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson is a talented linebacker, who hasn’t totally lived up to his potential. Buffalo can improve a lot of areas on their roster with their two first round picks and getting a good linebacker that presents good value could be the option here.

 

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from great TGH writers!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

2018 NFL Mock Draft September 26

There are three weeks finished in the NFL season and we are starting to see which teams will contend and which teams will be looking forward to the NFL Draft. This mock draft will use current standings to determine draft order and will not include trades.

1. San Francisco 49ers- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Sam Darnold (Photoy by sportingnews.com)

The Jets picked up a win over the Dolphins in week three, moving the 49ers up to the number one pick. Many think they will avoid taking a quarterback in order to try and sign Kirk Cousins. If they are able to sign Kirk Cousins, they will likely trade down. If they are not they will take a quarterback.

Sam Darnold is a good prospect, but has had his fair share of issues to start the season. In four games this season he has thrown seven interceptions. He has great arm talent, but will start moving down draft boards if he doesn’t start making better decisions.

2. Cleveland Browns- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

While most people don’t think running backs shouldn’t go early in the NFL Draft, the ones that have recently been selected have panned out. Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliot and Todd Gurley are all playing well at the moment. Barkley still has a little to prove until he can be considered as good as those guys, but is a great running back in his own right. He has great moves and can catch the ball out of the backfield. The Browns could use a good young running back to go with their other young offensive weapons.

3. Cincinnati Bengals- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Cincinnati has one of the worst offensive lines in football and need to address it badly. McGlinchey would have been selected pretty highly had he come out last season, but elected to go back to school. He has struggled so far this season, but the Notre Dame running game has started to get going. He may be a player who is best at right tackle due to not being the most athletic player, but can play both tackle spots.

4. Los Angeles Chargers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

The Chargers are pretty unlucky to find themselves at 0-3. They have a lot of solid players, but could upgrade their safety position. James is one of the best players in this class and looks like he is capable of doing anything on a football field. If he doesn’t get selected early, it is due to concerns about his injuries. He missed most of the 2016 season with a shoulder injury.

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

The Giants are literal proof that you can’t ignore the offensive line and just focus on skill position players to win football games. Their tackles are awful and still aren’t figuring it out. Rankin is a good tackle, who is great at pass blocking. He may not be getting love from other mock drafts, but will if he continues his good play.

6. New York Jets- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

With all of the talk of the Jets being pleased with Chritian Hackenberg, he hasn’t been good enough to work himself onto the field consistently. In what looks to be a good quarterback class, they need to take one with their pick. Rosen was injured for most of the 2016 season and had some nerve damage in his throwing arm. He looks good so far this season with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions thrown, but did have a bad performance against Memphis.

7. Indianapolis Colts- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

Indianapolis has to get some more quality players on their roster, because they look lost without Andrew Luck. In their first three games they only have six sacks, so getting a pass rusher early makes sense. Key has only played in one game so far due to suspension, but does have half of a sack.

8. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Calvin Ridley (Photo by freep.com)

Alshon Jeffrey is gone and Kevin White keeps getting hurt. The Bears need a good wide receiver to help Mitch Trubisky as he develops. Ridley is producing well enough so far this season with 262 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Without the greatest quarterback play, he is still playing well and making a case to be the first wide receiver off of the board.

9. Arizona Cardinals- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Allen has struggled this season, but what most hurts his cause is how often he struggles against good competition. He is very raw as a prospect and needs a year to sit and learn, as well as work on his craft. The Cardinals can afford to sit him behind Carson Palmer next season (assuming Palmer comes back for another year) and let him learn. Arizona has shown that they like tall, strong armed and athletic quarterbacks as they tried to work with Logan Thomas, who fit that mold.

10. New Orleans Saints- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Yes there are a lot of quarterbacks in this mock, but it is a loaded class (as of now). The Saints might be looking towards the future with Drew Brees aging and becoming a free agent. Rudolph can put up numbers like Brees, at least in college, and isn’t dependent on arm strength, much like Brees too. He has been very good at protecting the football as well, with only three interceptions thrown and 66% completion.

11. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama

With running back already addressed, the Browns can start to improve their defense. They signed Jason McCourty, who is in his ninth NFL season, to play corner, but they don’t have much else at the position. Fitzpatrick has played both safety and corner in his time at Alabama. He has all the physical tools to be successful, but needs to work on his technique and positioning.

12. Seattle Seahawks- Trey Adams, OT, Washington

Adams has started to move up draft boards and no one will know more about him than the team from the same city. The Seahawks are likely to do better and get a pick later in the round, but if they keep stumbling they could get him. He has been noted for his athleticism and should be able to start at left tackle for Seattle. The Seahawks have to start protecting Russell Wilson better or he won’t last much longer.

13. Miami Dolphins- Iman Marshall, CB, USC

The Dolphins don’t have a good secondary and it was evident when they let the Jets throw for 249 yards on 18 of 23 passing. Marshall would be an immediate upgrade at corner. He was overshadowed by Adoree Jackson last year, but is now shining. He is a shutdown corner that has started since his freshman season as a Trojan. Teams are actively looking to not throw his way when they play USC.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

Donovan Smith has been given a long time to play tackle better and has yet to do so. The Bucs need to keep their franchise quarterback upright. So far they have only given up four sacks in two games, but that will get much worse. They also need to help get the running game going to take some pressure off of Jameis Winston. Williams is injured now, which may hurt his draft stock, but if he clears out health-wise, he is one of the best tackles in the class.

15. Los Angeles Rams- Kevin Toliver, CB, LSU

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Kevin Toliver (Photo by tigerdroppings.com)

The Rams just allowed Brian Hoyer to throw for 332 yards on them, so they really need to improve their secondary. In two games so far this season, Toliver hasn’t done much, but he will face stiffer competition as the season goes on. The potential is there, but he still needs to prove it on the field.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Jacksonville is going to need a new quarterback next year. They have done well to get two wins already with Blake Bortles starting. Jackson still has issues throwing the ball, but is a dynamic runner. The Jaguars can have a great ground attack with him and Leonard Fournette leading the way. The key will be keeping defenses honest by completing just enough passes.

17. Baltimore Ravens- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Joe Flacco needs someone legitimate to throw to on a consistent basis. Kirk has some big play ability and demonstrated that against Arkansas with 110 receiving yards and 136 kick off return yards. He will be tested in the coming weeks against good secondaries in the SEC.

18. Buffalo Bills- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

The Bills could use some help on the interior of the defensive line. Sean McDermott has criticized Marcel Dareus and Kyle Williams is aging. Payne will likely go earlier than this once the quarterbacks separate themselves more, because he makes freakish plays for a defensive tackle.

19. Washington Redskins- James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

This is all assuming that Kirk Cousins is back again to quarterback the Washington Redskins. They don’t have a lot of weak areas on their team, but could use a wide receiver if Terelle Pryor leaves in free agency. Washington has been making big plays for years at Oklahoma State and could compliment Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder well.

20. Carolina Panthers- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Carolina needs to improve the left tackle position because Matt Kalil isn’t getting the job done. Brown has NFL bloodlines and a big body.  He needs to prove that he has the athleticism and speed to deal with the fast pass rushers in the NFL. If he can do that, he can see himself move up draft boards.

21. Detroit Lions- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

The interior of the Lions’ defensive line is atrocious. They need to address it in the draft. Wilkins is a part of the very productive and talented defensive line at Clemson. He already has 3.0 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss on the young season and does a good job at both defending the run and rushing the passer from the interior.

22. Philadelphia Eagles- Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

St. Brown has had a hard time getting involved in the Notre Dame offense early, but that is only partially on him. He is a big athletic receiver that looks like he could be more productive in the NFL than he has been in college. Nelso Agholor and Alshon Jeffrey have played well, but Jeffrey is a free agent and Agholor needs to prove he can produce consistently.

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Harold Landry (Photo by bostonglobe.com)

Landry led the FBS in sacks last year and decided to go back to school for his final season. He has gotten off to a slow start with only one sack in four games, but has played some stiff competition. He is likely going to start turning it on now. The Titans need to get after the quarterback more, as they only have five sacks on the season.

24. Minnesota Vikings- Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia

The Vikings can’t rely on Shariff Floyd to stay healthy and need to get a replacement. Thompson was productive last year and has three tackles for loss this season. If he can hold up against some good SEC offensive lines he will deserve this spot in mock drafts.

25. Dallas Cowboys- Dremont Jones, DT, Ohio State 

Dallas seems to have a good pass rush with Demarcus Lawrence stepping up. They need to improve the interior of the defensive line though. Jones offers an athletic defensive tackle prospect that has room to grow.

26. Denver Broncos- Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

The Broncos are another team that don’t have too many needs. Nelson provides good value and would’ve been a first round pick had he come out in last year’s draft class. Ronald Leary can kick out to right tackle so Nelson can play right guard, or he can play left guard for Denver.

27. Pittsburgh Steelers- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

After dumping Ross Cockrell and trading for Joe Haden, the Steelers showed they are willing to shake it up in the secondary. Haden hasn’t played particularly well so far and is aging so a replacement is needed. McFadden provides good value here, but he has to step up with only one pass defended in two games played.

28. Oakland Raiders- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson is a talented inside linebacker and would be an immediate upgrade for the Raiders. He has 17 tackles already on the season and will rack up a lot more in Big 12 play.

29. Green Bay Packers- Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma

The Packers need to get some better players in the secondary. Thomas has a lot of experience at Oklahoma and would address a big need. With a good rest of this season, he could compete for a starting spot in the NFL.

30. New England Patriots- Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Sam Hubbard (Photo by landof10.com)

New England only has six sacks on the season and that has to improve. The retirement of Rob Ninkovich came at a bad time and now they need to replace him. Hubbard was a safety in high school and has the necessary athleticism to be a good speed rusher in the NFL.

31. Atlanta Falcons- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Desmond Trufant is a good corner, but the Falcons need more if they are going to stop some of the best offenses in the NFC. Davis will have a chance to go against Ridley at the end of the season, which is a must-watch matchup.

32. Buffalo Bills (Via KC)- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

The Bills right side of the offensive line is bad. Really, the only good lineman they have right now is Richie Incognito, so that needs to be fixed. Hyatt will be able to compete for a starting job early on in his career and already has a National Championship under his belt.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from great TGH writers!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

College football preseason 2017 top 25: 10-6

The football season is right around the corner so let’s dive into more rankings. This installment will go over top ten teams that will be vying for a title. For a spot on this list, teams need to have a lot of talent on their rosters.

To look at the previous list of teams, go here.

10. Georgia Bulldogs

College football top 25

Jacob Eason (Photo by 247sports.com)

Kirby Smart had a decent first season as head coach of the Bulldogs and helped them finish 8-5. They won the Liberty Bowl to finish last season, beating TCU 31-23. Smart will have 15 returning starters to work with, which includes 10 on the defensive side of the ball. This season the Bulldogs look to take a step forward and win the SEC East.

Offensively, the Bulldogs are set in the backfield. Jacob Eason will be entering his second season and there are high hopes for his career. He was a highly-touted prospect that threw for 2,430 yards as a freshman. He will have two good running backs in Nick Chubb and Sonny Michel. They will get the bulk of the carries and have amassed almost 6,000 yards on the ground during their time in Athens. Chubb is the lead man and averages 6.4 yards per carry over his career.

The offensive line returns two starters and will be the key to the Georgia attack. There isn’t too much experience returning at the receiver position, but tight end Isaac Nauta is getting a lot of hype. At 6’4″ 246 pounds he provides a good target for Eason, while the receiving unit as a whole needs to step up.

There may not be a weak point on the defense with how much experience they have returning. John Atkins returns in the middle of the defensive line, while Trenton Thompson returns at defensive end. Thompson had five sacks last season. The linebackers might be the most talented unit on the defense. Lorenzo Carter is a good pass rusher from outside linebacker, while Roquan Smith is a good run stopper from his inside linebacker position.

Dominick Sanders is the most talented out of the secondary players and has the most interceptions returning to the team from last year with three. Georgia’s defense was good last year and now must take the step forward to become elite.

Tough non-conference games will be had against Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. Their games that could give them trouble in conference are Tennessee, Florida and Auburn. Georgia has the talent on their roster to win every game on the schedule. They will likely drop two of the tough games on the schedule and go 10-2 on the season, with a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

9. Clemson Tigers

College football top 25

Christian Wilkins (Photo by si.com)

The Tigers lost a lot from the team that won the National Championship last season, but some respect has to be shown to the fantastic job Dabo Swinney has done recruiting. They do still return 12 starters from last year’s team and will be looking to get back to the College Football Playoff.

Clemson will win a lot of games because of the play of their offensive line, which returns four starters. This includes Mitch Hyatt, who is a 2018 NFL Draft Prospect. The running backs getting carries behind this offensive line will change a lot, but C.J. Fuller looks to be the lead man.

Kelly Bryant has to fill some big shoes that were left by Deshaun Watson. The junior was a good prospect himself out of high school and has all the tools to be successful. If he does end up struggling, Clemson has recruited freshman Hunter Johnson to step in. Deon Cain is a good receiver that now gets his chance to shine without Mike Williams on the team. Hunter Renfroe will continue to do work and make clutch plays from the slot.

The defensive line will be stacked with talent, with Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence returning. All three were highly productive for the team last year, with Ferrell leading them all with six sacks. Kendall Joseph leads the linebackers now after the departure of Ben Boulware, but is pretty accomplished himself with 124 tackles last season.

Van Smith is the leader of the secondary from his safety position and has the most interceptions returning with two. The pass defense will likely take a slight step back, while the run defense will stay about the same.

The schedule is tough and will be tougher with the fact that now Clemson will have a target on their back. They have games that will challenge them in Auburn, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia Tech and South Carolina. For the most part Clemson should be able to manage these tough games, but will likely drop two or three of them.

8. Oklahoma Sooners

College football top 25

Baker Mayfield (photo by usatoday.com)

Oklahoma’s ranking would’ve been higher had Bob Stoops still been the head coach. Lincoln Reilly takes over now and will have a good team to work with. They went 11-2 last season and beat Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. With a lot of talent returning, the Sooners will be looking to make the College Football Playoff.

The offense will start with Heisman Trophy Finalist Baker Mayfield. He has had a storied career so far for Oklahoma and will continue to put up big numbers this season. The problem is that he doesn’t have all the weapons he had in previous years. Jeff Badet transferred in from Kentucky and should provide a spark to a receiving core that only returns one starter, Jeffrey Mead.

There is good news for Oklahoma fans: The offensive line returns every starter. Orlando Brown is getting looks from the NFL and is a dominant force. The bad news is that there isn’t much experience returning at running back and Abdul Adams and Rodney Anderson will fight for carries.

Defense for the Sooners was average at best in 2016. The secondary gave up a lot of passing yards, but does return some good players. Jordan Thomas is a good college corner, but teams find a way to throw around him and pick up a lot of yardage.

Ogbonnia Okronkwo returns at linebacker and leads the pass rush with nine sacks last season. The Sooners will be inexperienced up front, with no returning starters on the defensive line.

Oklahoma gets to play Ohio State, Texas (neutral), Kansas State and Oklahoma State all away from home. West Virginia travels to Norman to give them plenty to focus on for this year. The Sooners’ offense will be high-powered enough to get them 10 wins this season and a spot in the new Big 12 Championship Game.

7. Oklahoma State Cowboys

College football top 25

Mason Rudolph (Photo by ncaa.com)

The Cowboys finished 10-3 last season and blew Colorado out in the Alamo Bowl. Mike Gundy has one of his most talented teams ever. His team is good enough to win the Big 12 and get to the College Football Playoff, but they have a long road a head and a lot of history to overcome.

Mason Rudolph returns at quarterback, after flirting with the idea of going pro. He will put up big numbers while protecting the football, which makes him an elite college quarterback. The good news for him was that his teammate and top target James Washington also chose to return to school. Tyron Johnson, an LSU transfer, will be eligible to play this season and will provide another good target for Rudolph.

Three offensive linemen return, but the unit will be more than capable of protecting Mason Rudolph. Oklahoma State found their running back of the future last season in Justice Hill. Hill ran for 1,142 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman last season. He will be asked to put up similar numbers in 2017.

In terms of scoring defense, Oklahoma State ranked third in the Big 12, but that isn’t saying too much. Essentially they were an average defense. Five starters return including two in the secondary. Ramon Richards and Tre Flowers will be starting again at safety, while new corners are broken in.

Chad Whittener returns to the linebackers and will be asked to step up his production this season after finishing with 71 tackles a year ago. The Cowboys don’t have much returning in the middle of the defensive line, but do have a lot of experience at defensive end. Both starters return as well as Trelund Webber, who comes off the bench to rush the passer. He returns as the team leader in sacks in 2016 with six.

The schedule features games against Pittsburgh, Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kansas State. Oklahoma State will win at least nine games, but probably finish at 10-2, getting them a rematch with Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game.

6. USC Trojans

College football top 25

Sam Darnold (photo by dailynews.com)

The Trojans went on a magical run to the Rose Bowl last season and beat Penn State in a thriller. Clay Helton did a fine job last year as head coach, but has a new challenge this year. Only 10 starters return, meaning a lot of players will need to step up to help USC win the Pac-12.

Sam Darnold is the potential number one overall pick in the 2018 draft. He still has a lot to prove, but finished the season with 3,086 yards and 31 touchdowns, which is even more impressive considering he didn’t start the first few games of last season. Darnold won’t have an elite receiver to throw to this season, unless someone really improves, but Deontay Burnett is the leading returning receiver with 670 yards in 2016.

Ronald Jones II is overlooked because of how well Darnold played last year, but he can flat out run the football. His 1,082 yards and 12 touchdowns will be improved upon this season. Just two offensive linemen return this season. If the newcomers don’t step in and do their jobs the whole offense will suffer.

The linebackers return the most experience, with three of four starters returning. Porter Gustin and Cameron Smith are both playmakers. Smith had 83 tackles last season. Only one of three returns on the defensive line, Rasheem Green. Green had six sacks last season and will need to improve production to lead the pass rush.

Iman Marshall returns at corner and will now be asked to shut down the other teams’ best receivers, as Adoree Jackson is now in the NFL. He has a chance to be drafted early, like Jackson was, in the 2018 NFL Draft. Marveil Tell is back at safety and Chris Hawkins will be solid at the other starting safety spot in 2017. The defense was good last year and if they want to get to the College Football Playoff, need to improve this year.

USC has a tough schedule, which includes games against Stanford, Texas, Washington State, Notre Dame and UCLA. While they should have their fair share of struggles, they will have at least 10 wins entering the Pac-12 Championship Game. At that point it may be a play-in game for the College Football Playoff.

 

Featured image by usatoday.com.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Joe!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Cornerbacks

Cornerbacks were a hot commodity in the 2017 NFL Draft and the 2018 NFL Draft could offer some more quality players at the position. Here are the top cornerbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft class as of now:

Adonis Alexander, Virginia Tech

Alexander is one of the bigger corners in this class at 6’3″ and 193 pounds. He needs to add some weight to fill out his frame, but offers great length to shut down some of the taller NFL wide receivers.

He has six career interceptions and 13 passes defended in his two seasons in Blacksburg. While his length and cover skills are good, he needs to make sure he runs a good 40 yard dash time at the 2018 NFL Draft Combine to insure that a team will take him with a high pick.

Virginia Tech will play West Virginia, Clemson, North Carolina, Miami and Pitt. Alexander will face a handful of good receivers against Clemson, including Deon Cain.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Minkah Fitzpatrick NFL

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Photo by: seccountry.com)

Alabama always has good secondary players, but Fitzpatrick was able to break into the starting lineup as a freshman and hasn’t left. He is 6’1″ and 203 pounds and should follow other Crimson Tide defensive backs who have been selected in the first round.

In is two seasons at Alabama, Fitzpatrick has eight interceptions and 17 passes defended. He has all of the physical tools to make it at the next level, but does need to work on his positioning and technique before he gets to the next level.

Alabama plays Florida State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn. When the Crimson Tide play Texas A&M, Fitzpatrick will have to guard Christian Kirk, one of the best receivers in college football. If he is able to shut down Kirk, Fitzpatrick can prove once again that he can shut down NFL-level receivers.

Iman Marshall, USC

Marshall was a highly sought after recruit and has played across from the great Adoree’ Jackson the last two seasons. He is a good corner in his own right and could end up going first round too with a good season. He has decent size at 6’1″ and 200 pounds.

So far at USC, Marshall has six interceptions and 17 passes defended. Marshall does need to work on his run support and tackling ability, but he can cover, which is the most important thing.

This season USC will face Stanford, Texas, Washington State, Utah, Notre Dame and UCLA. The games against UCLA and Washington State will pit Marshall against some of the best quarterbacks in college football, Josh Rosen and Luke Falk.

Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State

McFadden got his first taste of major action in 2016 and showed some great flashes of potential. He has good size standing 6’2″ and 198 pounds, which should help him be one of the first corners selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

He tied for the NCAA lead with eight interceptions in 2016, demonstrating his great ball skills. One of his problems was he totaled only 19 tackles and needs to do better in run support to enhance his draft stock.

The Seminoles will play a lot of big games in 2017 including: Alabama, Miami, Louisville, Clemson and Florida. The games against Clemson and Alabama will give McFadden a chance to go up against Deon Cain and Calvin Ridley, two good receiver prospects.

Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma

Jordan Thomas NFL

Jordan Thomas (Photo by: newsok.com)

When a player seems like he has been around forever, that usually means they have been great. Thomas has tons of experience and will get another full slate of games this season. He is decently big, at 6’0″ and 192 pounds.

Thomas has seven career interceptions and 25 passes defended. He is a physical, cover corner who usually doesn’t have too many balls thrown his way. He did get beat more in 2016 than in 2015, but still had a solid season last year overall.

Oklahoma will play a lot of good offenses this season, which should test Thomas. The Sooners play Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. Against Oklahoma State Thomas will have to go up against a great duo in quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington. He will also look to get redemption against Ohio State, who he played badly against in 2016.

Kevin Toliver, LSU

Toliver is another big time recruit that LSU signed to be a part of their great legacy. He has gotten playing time since his freshman year for the Tigers. He had a variety of injuries that held him back last season. At 6’2″ and 193 pounds he has great size and length.

In 18 games played for the Tigers, Toliver has just one interception and six passes defended. Now that he is healthy those numbers will increase drastically. He shows the ability and desire to help in the run game. The biggest key for Toliver is staying healthy long enough to put up good tape in 2017.

LSU plays BYU, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas A&M. Like other players on this list, his toughest assignments will be against Kirk of Texas A&m and Ridley of Alabama. With a productive season, Toliver can put himself among the top 2018 NFL Draft prospects.

 

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Joe!

“From Our Haus to Yours”

 

 

Four Teams That Will Make The College Football Playoff

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

1.Clemson Tigers

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

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

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

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

2. LSU Tigers

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

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

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

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

3. Oklahoma Sooners

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

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

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

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

4. Ohio State Buckeyes

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

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

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

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

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