2018 NFL Mock Draft 10/24/17

The NFL season is almost halfway through, so 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 and Cody Kessler, 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 turns the ball over way too much 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.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Connor Williams (Photo by: hookem.com)

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

Orleans Darkwa had a tougher game against the Seahawks, but the Giants should still address the tackle position. Because their tackles are so bad, 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. 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.

5. 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. The Notre Dame running game has become dominant in the last few weeks. He has shown better athletic ability this season, which should help his value.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

Tampa Bay has a terrible secondary and needs to get better, especially when considering what division they play in. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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 three wins and can have Allen sit behind Josh McCown.

9. Arizona Cardinals- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Carson Palmer is injured again and it highlights the Cardinals’ need for a quarterback. If Palmer can return, Jackson can sit and learn behind him. If Palmer is done Jackson can make some plays as a starter, but won’t be developed. 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.

10. Baltimore Ravens- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

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. Baltimore does have a decent number of sacks on the season, but Terrell Suggs will need to be replaced soon. If Key falls, the Ravens need to scoop him up.

11. Los Angeles Chargers- 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. The Chargers could try to improve the offensive line, but they used two selections on that last year in Forrest Lamp, Dan Feeney and Sam Tevi.

12. Oakland Raiders- Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

Oakland only has 12 sacks on the year and could use an elite pass rusher to go with Khalil Mack. 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.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Christian Kirk (Photo by: cbssports.com)

13. 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.

14. Washington Redskins- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson is a talented linebacker, who is starting to live up to his potential. He was all over the field against Oklahoma State. Jefferson is a better pass rusher than he gets credit for and can also stop the run well. Mason Foster is old and hasn’t played particularly well this year, so Jefferson could play next to Zach Brown.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. Denver Broncos- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

One thing is for sure: The Broncos can’t win it all with Trevor Siemian at quarterback. They drafted Paxton Lynch two years ago, but he hasn’t been able to beat out the sub par Siemian yet. 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.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Iman Marshall (Photo by: zimbio.com)

18. Atlanta Falcons- Iman Marshall, CB, USC

Marshall would immediately help out the secondary. 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. 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.

19. Tennessee Titans- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

The Titans have just 11 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. Landry led the FBS in sacks last year and decided to go back to school for his final season. He only has five sacks this season, so he needs to pick up the pace.

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

McFadden is a shut down corner who isn’t afraid to get physical. The Packers need to get some better players in the secondary if they want to help Aaron Rodgers out with a defense.

21. Carolina Panthers- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

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. 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.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

Hyatt looks like a player who could be versatile at the NFL level and could play multiple positions on the offensive line. This would be beneficial to the Jaguars as they need help in multiple places on the line.

23. Miami Dolphins- Kevin Toliver, CB, LSU

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. 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.

24. New Orleans Saints- 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. New Orleans needs better linebackers, as none have played particularly well this season.

25. Buffalo Bills- James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

Tyrod Taylor needs a better option as his top receiver and St. Brown can be that guy. Washington makes big plays and fights for the football on deep throws. Pairing him with Zay Jones for the future would be a good idea.

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

Nelson provides good value and would’ve been a first round pick had he come out in last year’s draft class. He is very quick and athletic, making him the best guard prospect in a while. 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.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Carlton Davis (Photo by: auburntigers.com)

27. Los Angeles Rams- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

The Rams need to upgrade their corners, as they haven’t been able to adequately do so since Janoris Jenkins left. Davis is a lengthy corner who will likely move up draft boards when the draft comes closer.

28. Minnesota Vikings- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Wilkins is a part of the very productive and talented defensive line at Clemson. He 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. Buffalo Bills (via KC)- Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

Hubbard was expected to have a good season, but has amassed just two sacks. He does get pressure on the quarterback more often than that and helps stop the run. The Bills need to get better at rushing the passer.

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

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. 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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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College football preseason 2017 top 25: 15-11

We are down to only a couple weeks before college football starts again. For teams in the top 15 their goal is to make it to the College Football Playoff. This installment features teams that want to get back to their winning ways and have not made it to the College Football Playoff since its inception.

For the last installment of the top 25, click here.

15. Florida Gators

College football top 25

Martez Ivey (photo by gridironnow.com)

Jim McElwain is entering year three as the head man in Gainesville and would rather focus on football than the viral picture of his doppelganger naked with a shark. Last season Florida went 9-4 with losses on the road and in the SEC Championship Game with Alabama. They capped off the season with a win in the Outback Bowl against Iowa. The Gators have 13 returning starters and will be looking to make yet another SEC Championship Game.

The offensive line is the strength of the offense and returns four starters, including the very talented left tackle Martez Ivey. Unfortunately the offense has lacked the playmakers in the past and will need players to step up this season. Jordan Scarlett is the leading returning rusher and averaged 5 yards per carry, but the team ranked 113th in rushing yards last season.

Feliepe Franks will likely take over at quarterback after a solid spring. The redshirt freshman is big and has a strong arm, but still has a lot to prove. The best receiver on the team is Antonio Callaway, who is capable of doing great things, but has some off the field issues going on right now. If he is on the field he is a difference maker and one of the few the Gators have.

Defensively, Florida loses a lot, but they are stocked with talent. The defensive backfield does have depth issues, but their starters are solid. Corner Duke Dawson will be relied upon to have a great season and safeties Marcell Harris and Nick Washington will as well.

There is a lot of inexperience at linebacker, but David Reese was a Freshman All-American playing in place of the injured Jarrad Davis last season. The front four features one returning starter, but a lot of the players have gotten a significant amount of playing time in years past. Cece Jefferson has to step up and get after the quarterback, while Jabari Zuniga needs to add to his sack total of five in 2016. The defense will take a small step back and need the offense to get a little better.

Florida starts their season with a game against Michigan before taking on Northern Colorado, UAB and Florida State in the rest of the non-conference. Challenges in conference will be games against Tennessee, LSU and Georgia. The Gators will bottom out at 7-5, but will likely end up at 8-4 with their challenging schedule.

14. Louisville Cardinals

College football top 25

Lamar Jackson (Photo by sportingnews.com)

Louisville got off to a hot start before losing their last three games to finish 9-4. They lost to LSU in the Citrus Bowl. Bobby Petrino will have his team in the thick of the ACC Atlantic race this season. They have 11 returning starters, but a lot of them provide a lot of value.

The Heisman Trophy winner from last season, Lamar Jackson, returns to lead the offense. He is a very good runner, but needs to prove he can pass better. Even so, he led the Cardinals to the sixth best scoring offense in the country. Jackson led the team in rushing, but will have help this season from Jeremy Smith, who averaged 6.7 yards per carry in 2016.

Former quarterback Reggie Bonnafon and wide receivers Jaylen Smith and Dez Fitzpatrick will need to make plays in the passing game for Louisville. Fitzpatrick and Smith have tremendous talent and will get a chance to make a huge impact this year. Geron Christian and Lukayus McNeil are the only returning starters on the offensive line, that will be expected to protect Lamar Jackson.

Seven starters return on defense, including three of four starters in the secondary. Corner Jaire Alexander had the most interceptions last year out of the returnees with five and will be asked to cover well similarly in 2017. James Hearns returns at linebacker after recording 8 sacks in 2016. Drew Bailey has experience at defensive end and recorded two sacks last season in the Cardinals’ 3-4 scheme.

There are only a few tough games for the Cardinals. They have a game at home against Clemson, on the road at Florida State and a rivalry game at Kentucky to end the season, a team they lost to last season. Due to their easy schedule and the brilliance of Jackson, Louisville will at least finish 9-3, but likely finish 10-2 with a shot at a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

13. LSU Tigers

College football top 25

Derrius Guice (photo by theadvocate.com)

Ed Orgeron is now the main man for the Tigers and helped lead them to an 8-4 finish last season. They lost only twice after he took over, to Alabama and Florida. He now gets 12 returning starters to help him out in his first year.

The problem for LSU over the years has been the offense and quarterback play. Danny Etling played better as last season went on and will need to be a steady hand in Matt Canada’s offense. Helping him in the backfield is the leading rusher in the SEC from last season Derrius Guice. With Leonard Fournette injured he amassed 1,387 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

A lot of talent left the receiving core this offseason, but D.J. Chark has the chance to blossom if the quarterback play is decent. The offensive line took a hit when Maea Teuema was granted his realease from the program. They still return two starters, including center Will Clapp.

LSU returns one of the best players in the country in Arden Key. The pass rushing star finished last season with 12 sacks. Christian LaCouture will need to transition to a 3-4 defensive end, but will likely do well. At linebacker the team will be as thin as they have been in years and will need players to step up.

The Tiger secondary has been a strength of the team fro years and this year should be no different. Kevin Tolliver and Donte Jackson are both good corners and John Battle also returns at safety. They helped LSU finish fifth as a scoring defense in the country and should help them be very good once again.

There are a number of difficult games in the LSU schedule in 2017. They have tough games against: BYU, Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee. If the defense plays up to par, LSU should be able to finish 9-3 in a very difficult SEC West.

12. Wisconsin badgers

college football top 25

Jack Cichy (photo by uwbadgers.com)

The Badgers had a tough schedule and did well in 2016, only losing to the top teams in the Big Ten East and winning the Cotton Bowl against Western Michigan. Paul Chryst has only lost six games in his first two seasons as head coach and will be able to keep the losses minimal this year. There are 15 returning starters that will make this team successful in 2017.

Alex Hornibrook shared quarterback duties with Bart Houston last season, but now brings some experience in his sophomore season. His numbers will need to improve, but he showed flashes of being a good college quarterback. The running back duties will be split between Pittsburgh transfer Chris James and sophomore Bradrick Shaw. Both of them haven’t proven much in their young careers, but have potential.

The wide receiving core is anchored by Jazz Peavy and one of the best tight ends in the country Troy Fumagalli. Fumagalli will be an early draft pick and really exploded in the Badgers’ win over Western Michigan with some great catches. The offensive line will be a strength of the team, as they return a lot of experience with four starters.

Wisconsin had the fourth best scoring defense in the country last season and return six starters. Their rush defense will be good once again with Chikwe Obasih and Conor Sheehy returning on the defensive line. Jack Cichy was lost for the season with a torn ACL, but the other linebackers returning are talented. T.J. Edwards had 89 tackles last year, which is the most out of anyone on the team coming back for this year.

The secondary didn’t perform as well as the front seven, but that was hard to do. They were still good enough to rank 30th against the pass last season. D’Cota Dixon and Derrick Tindal bring back a ton of experience. Dixon recorded four interceptions for the Badgers last season and will need to help them get turnovers again this year. In 2016 they had a turnover margin of +16.

The schedule sets up very favorably for the Badgers this season. They only play one of the three Big Ten East powers in Michigan and their next toughest games are against Northwestern, BYU and Iowa. There is a possibility they run the table, but they will likely end the season with a loss or two before heading to the Big Ten Championship Game.

11. Auburn Tigers

college football top 25

Jarrett Stidham (photo by oanow.com)

New life has been found for the Auburn Tigers after finishing last season 8-5. They lost to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, but return 16 starters from that team. Gus Malzahn was on the hot seat, but made it through the season and now has a chance to make some noise with this year’s squad.

Jarrett Stidham will likely be taking the vast majority of the snaps at quarterback for the Tigers after finding some success at Baylor. He will be asked to have a high completion percentage like he did when he was in Waco. Auburn found a running back last year in Kamryn Pettway. Pettway is a bruising running back that showed his power with 1,224 yards and nine touchdowns in 2016.

The offensive line returns three starters and should help make the rushing attack dynamic like they were last year when they ranked sixth in the country. While they don’t have a good go-to-guy at receiver, they have a lot of young talent that is capable of stepping up with Stidham at quarterback this season.

The defense ranked seventh in the country in scoring last year and returns eight starters. Carlton Davis leads the secondary from his corner position. Behind him are two senior safeties in Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts that have a lot of experience and will make for a good unit.

Rushing the passer has to be an emphasis this season, as their returning leader is Andrew Williams who had three. There are plenty of good pass rushers on the team who will need to step up, including former highly-touted prospect Byron Cowart. The linebackers have experience as well as speed to make them a great unit.

The schedule is pretty difficult to manage, but that hasn’t hampered the high expectations for this team. They have tough matchups with Clemson, LSU, Georgia and Alabama, along with some other tricky games along the way. Auburn has enough talent to win 10 games, but may fall to 8-4 with the very tough schedule they face.

Featured image by nola.com

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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.

 

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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