2018 NFL Mock Draft 11/15/17

With the NFL season being well past the halfway point, more is clear about what teams will need and where they will be drafting. Here is the latest 2018 NFL mock draft.

1. Cleveland Browns- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

All of the good quarterbacks that were thought to come out of this draft class have struggled. Rosen has probably been the best overall and has some good arm talent. He does, however, have some flaws to overcome. Rosen needs to make better decisions and show he can lead a franchise. One thing he has proven is that his shoulder injury from last season won’t be a major factor going forward.

2. San Francisco 49ers- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

After the trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, it is unlikely the 49ers will take a quarterback in this draft. They will take the best player in the class in Barkley. He is a do-it-all running back who will immediately improve the quality of the running game for San Francisco. Barkley is a premier talent who runs with great moves that are reminiscent of Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith. This isn’t an area of need for the 49ers, but they can’t pass up the best player.

3. New York Giants- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Giants could go for a replacement for Eli Manning, but the quarterback position won’t get any better with their bad offensive line. McGlinchey has had an up and down season and most recently didn’t play well against Miami. He has the ability to play either tackle position and can start from day one.

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Arden Key (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Key is a very good edge rusher that uses his speed as his main way of getting to the quarterback. He had a better season in 2016 than this season, but still shows he can pressure the quarterback. The Colts need to get after the quarterback more as they only have 19 sacks on the season.

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

Cleveland needs to improve its secondary. They just drafted Jabril Peppers and like Peppers, Fitzpatrick can play multiple positions in the secondary. He will most likely fit in at safety, but should be able to cover batter than most safeties. With two top five picks, the Browns have a chance to vastly improve their roster.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

N.C. State has had a great season, in large part due to Chubb’s play. He has gotten better every year in Raleigh and has had at least ten sacks this season and last. Not only can he rush the passer, but he is also good at stopping the run. The Buccaneers need to re-haul their defense and they can start by getting after the quarterback more consistently.

7. Cincinnati Bengals- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

The Bengals have a terrible offensive line and need to upgrade almost every position. They can start by taking a cornerstone at 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.

8. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Chicago has decided to make Mitch Trubisky the starting quarterback and he has played decently well. 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.

9. Denver Broncos- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Darnold raised some eyebrows when reports came out that he may skip out on the 2018 draft if it looks like the Browns will select him. He hasn’t even played well enough to deserve being a number one pick, but the Broncos would love to have him. With good arm strength and stature, Darnold will entice some teams, but he needs to stop turning the ball over. Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian aren’t getting the job done and Paxton Lynch has yet to take it away from them, so a quarterback would be a nice option.

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

Florida State hasn’t played well this season, but James is one of the best safety prospects in the class. He can do almost anything on a football field and can start for 10 years in the back end of a defense. The Chargers can make a young promising defense even better with this pick.

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

Josh McCown has played well for the Jets, but he isn’t the future. Lamar Jackson would be an exciting player to see in New York. He can make plays and has improved as a thrower this season. His accuracy needs to continue to improve, but with his athletic ability and speed, he will remind people of Michael Vick.

12. Arizona Cardinals- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Carson Palmer is likely not going to ever be a decent quarterback ever again with his aging and injuries. Allen has NFL size, arm strength and great athletic ability. His problem is that he can’t perform against top competition in college, which will likely make him a project in the NFL. Bruce Arians would be a coach that could take that challenge on, as he likes big, strong armed quarterbacks.

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Quenton Nelson (Photo by fansided.com)

It is not often that a guard is talked about as a top 15 pick, but Nelson is one of the best prospects at the position in years. He is very mobile, can pick up blitzers and has a high football IQ. The Dolphins offensive line hasn’t been good this year and will need to protect Ryan Tannehill when he returns.

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

The Ravens need to get some playmakers at wide reciever to help out Joe Flacco. Flacco hasn’t played well in years, but they won’y move on, so they need to help him out. Kirk gets separation and has big play ability. With better quarterback play, he’d likely be the first receiver taken off the board.

15. Washington Redskins- Ken Webster, CB, Ole Miss

Webster is a lengthy corner that has really come on this season. The question is: Can he fit into Washington’s scheme? They run the cover 2 and with Josh Norman shutting down one side of the field, he will have to shut down the other.

16. Oakland Raiders- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith has done a little bit of everything for Georgia and has displayed his athletic ability in the process. He can stop the run, cover and blitz well. The Raiders need a quality linebacker on their roster if they want to take the team to the next level.

17. Green Bay Packers- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Ohio State’s secondary didn’t start the season off well, but Ward has been a nice find. He is a shut down corner that is capable of shutting down the nation’s top receivers. The Packers’ secondary is awful and needs to be upgraded immediately.

18. Buffalo Bills- 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. The great recuruit coming out of high school is a better pass rusher than he gets credit for and can also stop the run well. Buffalo is another team that just needs to get one talented linebacker on their team.

19. Detroit Lions- 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. The Lions need to improve the interior of the defensive line and Payne can fit in with his old teammate at Alabama, A’Shawn Robinson.

20. Dallas Cowboys- Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State

Ranking has been great as a pass blocker this season and has helped lead Mississippi State to a solid season thus far. Dak Prescott got killed in the game against the Falcons, so picking Rankin to protect him is the right call. Rankin can play right tackle and Chaz Green can stay on the bench.

21. Atlanta Falcons- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Carlton Davis (Photo by al.com)

Davis is a lengthy corner who will likely move up draft boards when the draft comes closer. Desmond Trufant is a good corner, but the Falcons need more at the position.

22. Tennessee Titans- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Harrison has the chance to be a good safety in the NFL with his great size. He is 6’3″, 214 pounds and impacts games in a variety of ways. Johnathan Cyprien is having a rough season and needs to be replaced.

23. Seattle Seahawks- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

If the Seahawks don’t start protecting Russell Wilson, he will get killed. They traded for Duane Brown, but the line is still bad. Seattle always does a good job of coaching bad offensive lineman to excel at the middle and end of the season. Brown has good size and with good coaching can be molded into a solid lineman.

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

Blake Bortles still isn’t playing good football and isn’t signed for next season. They will likely sign him, but getting a quarterback as a backup plan isn’t a bad idea. Rudolph has a great long ball and good accuracy. He plays in a system that will raise some questions, but he has good talent.

25. Buffalo Bills (via KC)- Iman Marshall, CB, USC

The Bills picked Tre’Davious White last year in the first round, but still need more help at the corner position. Marshall is a good cover corner, who has stepped up after replacing Adoree’ Jackson as the top guy for USC.

26. Carolina Panthers- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Carolina traded away Kelvin Benjamin and now needs to get Cam Newton some weapons on the outside. Sutton has been able to produce at SMU for years and would have been drafted in the first or second round in last year’s draft.

27. New Orleans Saints- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Wilkins is a good prospect who can stop the run and get after the quarterback from the interior. The Saints’ defense is getting better, but they can still improve. Wilkins can slide right in next to Sheldon Rankins to create a pretty good defensive line overall.

28. Los Angeles Rams- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

The Rams don’t have too many needs, but could use some help at corner. McFadden can shut down his man and isn’t afraid to be physical. Los Angeles has a lot of nice young pieces and a good young corner would vastly improve the team’s future contending hopes.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma 

2018 NFL mock draft

Baker Mayfield (Photo by newsok.com)

Ben Roethlisberger has mentioned retirement too many times for it not to be taken seriously. Mayfield has always been seen as a guy who plays in too much of a college system and a quarterback that was too undersized for the NFL. He has had a fantastic season and has protected the football while putting up huge numbers. Mayfield can battle it out for the starting job if Big Ben does leave football.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson got more name recognition after getting two pick sixes against Wisconsin, but he has been playing well for a while now. The Vikings need to start thinking about some new corners to go opposite of Xavier Rhodes. Trae Waynes looks like a bust and Terrance Newman is ancient, so a corner could be the pick.

31. New England Patriots- Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Although he is just a redshirt sophomore, Ferrell is producing at a big time level. In his very young career, he already has tallied 13.5 sacks. The Patriots need to get some pressure on the quarterback if they want to be as dominant as they used to be.

32. Philadelphia Eagles- Justin Reid, S, Stanford

The Eagles don’t have too many areas to improve, but could do so at safety. Reid can do a little bit of everything at safety, but doesn’t have any elite traits.

 

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Is Jonathan Stewart a worthy fantasy player?

Jonathan Stewart fantasy football: A worthy running back?

The Carolina Panthers went from a 15-1 season with one of the league’s best rushing attacks to a putrid 6-10 season in which the running game was almost invisible. Now the Panthers made the interesting choice to draft Christian McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft.

McCaffrey was put into a situation where there was already a workhorse back in Jonathan Stewart. Now the hype surrounds Christian McCaffrey but the question remains, is Jonathan Stewart a worthy fantasy running back?

Red Zone Work

Is Jonathan Stewart a worthy fantasy running back?

http://prod.static.panthers.clubs.nfl.com

The one advantage that Jonathan Stewart holds over Christian McCaffrey is his ability to work in the red zone, now that Mike Tolbert is gone and there is no real competition other than Cam Newton for red zone work. Christian McCaffrey will definitely help with the passing game in the red zone but if the Panthers are looking for a primary red zone running back, then Jonathan Stewart is the guy.

In fact last season, all nine of Jonathan Stewart’s rushing touchdowns came inside of the 20-yard line. Along with the fact that the Panthers want Cam Newton to throw the ball more than he has in his career, Jonathan Stewart should see most of the work inside of the 20-yard line which could lead to double digit touchdowns for the veteran.

Short Yardage Work

The Panthers won’t cut out Stewart’s workload altogether but it does seem more likely that Christian McCaffrey will be the feature running back in the Carolina offense. According to training camp and media reports, Jonathan Stewart’s carries will come in short yardage situations. Mainly he’ll be used in third and short situations while gaining some carries on first and second down to give McCaffrey a break while prolonging his career.

Now it is true that Jonathan Stewart hasn’t played a full season since 2011 when Deangelo Williams was still on the team and the dual running back scheme worked in Carolina. Now that Jonathan Stewart is out of his prime and there is a new primary back in Carolina, the Panthers will look to utilize Stewart to the best of his abilities to prolong his career.

Jonathan Stewart fantasy football value

Jonathan Stewart holds interesting fantasy value this upcoming season. While McCaffrey is clearly the lead back and the much better choice for your fantasy team, Stewart will still play an important role in Carolina’s offense this season. The Panthers have the 16th easiest schedule in the NFL this season and Stewart has the chance to stay healthy and take advantage of the opportunities given to him.

He should be owned in every league and is a quality flex play week one against the San Francisco 49ers. As the season progresses we’ll see how McCaffrey adapts to the work he’s given, but in the meantime Stewart is a quality fantasy running back and he should be started while he’s getting his reps.

 

Feature image courtesy of http://prod.static.panthers.clubs.nfl.com

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2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 20-11

A good wide receiver one is important for any fantasy team. Last article, I featured some solid WR2s with WR1 upside. This list contains some low WR1s and some great number one receivers for your team.

20. Brandin Cooks (New England Patriots): How is it possible that the defending Super Bowl champs got even better? In this offseason, the Patriots made the blockbuster deal to acquire Saints stud Brandin Cooks. After playing under Drew Brees for the last two seasons, Cooks has gotten at least 75 receptions and 1,100 yards.

fantasy football wide receivers

(Photo credit: https://www.profootballfocus.com/brandin-cooks-wins-his-routes/)

Cooks was reliable and productive for the Saints last season. He ranked sixth in the league in yards per target with an even 10.0 and ranked 14th in yards after the catch with 383. Now he is playing alongside arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady.

With the Patriots Cooks will primarily be used in the slot. We’ll have to see how he adjusts to the slot more often in New England. He has the ability to be a top five wide receiver if he pans out in New England.

19. Terrelle Pryor (Washington Redskins): The breakout story of 2016 now takes his talents to Washington to play with Kirk Cousins. Cousins has already said that he wants to get Pryor the ball.

One of the NFL’s Swiss army knives, Pryor can do it all. Last season he had 1,007 yards and four touchdowns. In 2013 with the Raiders, Pryor rushed for 567 yards on 83 attempts. Now with Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson out of Washington, Pryor is the No. 1 receiver and there are good things to come from it.

18. Keenan Allen (Los Angeles Chargers)- Last year I had so much hope for Keenan Allen. I drafted him early and was sure he would finish as a top ten receiver. He then tore his ACL in the end of the first half of the first game of the season. He has all the talent to be a stud receiver in this league, if he can stay healthy. Since he’s been in the league, he hasn’t played a full season.

As a matter of fact, he’s only played nine games over the past two seasons. In 2015, he was very efficient ranking third in catch rate. Now hopefully he can play a full season with Phillip Rivers, who has the ability to throw for 5,000 yards. If that does happen, Allen can be a top 10 receiver easily.

17. Allen Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars): Another case of a wide receiver with high hopes who didn’t amount to much last season. When Blake Bortles’ production decreased, so did Robinson’s. He had 600 less receiving yards and eight less touchdowns than the season before.

Bortles, the king of garbage time, threw most of his touchdowns when the team was trailing in 2015. Robinson thrived in the red zone, especially when the Jags were behind. His production comes down to whether or not Robinson can get his numbers from 2015 back.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 20-11

(Jim Steve-USA TODAY Sports)

16. Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers): Davante Adams finally lived up to his expectations in 2016. While he had 997 yards and 12 touchdowns, owners can’t be expecting the same numbers as last year.

Behind the scenes, Adams wasn’t very efficient but he ranked 12th in production and tenth in yards after the catch with 408 yards. Last season Adams had nine drops which is way too many for a player like him. If he can improve his catch rate his yardage will improve.

The double digit touchdowns aren’t a lock to repeat, however 7-8 is reasonable for a player like Adams. It also helps that he’s playing under Aaron Rodgers. Expect low WR1 numbers from Davante Adams.

15. Sammy Watkins (Buffalo Bills): Like Keenan Allen, Watkins has the talent and ability to be a top five wide receiver if he can stay healthy. Just a year removed from a 1,000 yard season, Sammy Watkins followed it up with a horrid 430 yards in eight games.

The thing that makes Watkins different from the rest of the receivers on this list is how he’s top dog in Buffalo. There are little to no targets around Sammy Watkins. He has Zay Jones and Marquise Goodwin as his supporting cast which is a little scary.

The targets will be there for Sammy Watkins but he won’t break the bank with his yardage numbers. Tyrod Taylor has the ability to throw for around 3,200 yards so it will be hard for Watkins to get 1,300 yards, but he’s worth it at the right price.

14. Alshon Jeffrey (Philadelphia Eagles): I’ve never been a big fan of Alshon Jeffrey, and supported drafting him as a WR1 except for this year. Jeffrey is playing under a young quarterback in Carson Wentz. People have said that Alshon Jeffrey has been a disappointment over the last two seasons, but he has still eclipsed 800 yards in both of those years.

Now Jeffrey just needs to work on his red zone production. Jeffrey only caught four of his 12 targets in the red zone for only three touchdowns. If Jeffrey can improve his catch rate inside of 20 yards, he’ll be the number one receiver we’ve all been waiting for.

13. Deandre Hopkins (Houston Texans): The Brock Osweiler experiment didn’t last long in Houston. DeAndre Hopkins also never benefited from Osweiler being there. With his big arm and love for targeting tight ends, Brock Osweiler and DeAndre Hopkins never clicked like people thought they would. After saying that, he still had 954 yards and four touchdowns.

Now DeAndre Hopkins has Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson throwing him the ball and it isn’t much different. Savage started the last three games of the season and didn’t throw a single touchdown which isn’t good for fantasy owners. Watson probably won’t get the start until midseason, and even then it isn’t likely he’ll have an amazing rookie year. The touchdowns are going to lack again for Hopkins, but he has a chance to top 1,100 yards.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 20-11

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

12. Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos): Even with the horrible quarterback situation in Denver, Demaryius Thomas provided a good season. Thomas had 1,083 yards and five touchdowns.

He’s been as reliable as anyone in the league, with 1,000 receiving yards in each of his seasons since 2012. Thomas has been consistent since he entered the league, averaging 2.29 yards per route which is far better than the NFL average of 1.54.

He’s shown that he can play under any quarterback and still succeed. If he can get more touchdowns this season, then Demaryius Thomas will be a top 10 or a top five receiver easily.

11. Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys): Dez Bryant should be a top five wide receiver in this league. But now with the run heavy scheme that the Cowboys have, it’s hard for Bryant to put up top WR1 numbers. Couple that with the fact that he hasn’t played a full season since 2014, I’m nervous about Dez this year.

After putting up 796 yards and eight touchdowns last year, Dez is in line for a similar season this year. If he can stay healthy, he could easily put up 200 more yards and another touchdown or two. Dez won’t put up the numbers he did in 2014 behind Prescott and Elliot but if Dak Prescott can play like he did last year, 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns isn’t out of reach.

 

 

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Quarterback rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season: 10-1

Here’s the list you’ve all been waiting for… Quarterback Rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season: 10-1. This is the group of quarterbacks that most of you will have on your teams, especially if you’re in a 10-team league or an 8-team league. Many people have their own opinions concerning the top 3 quarterbacks that are on this list, but believe me if you can snag one of hose guys, don’t hesitate.
10. Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)- Jameis is only going to get better. New targets such as OJ Howard, and Desean Jackson will team up with Mike Evans for the new look Tampa Bay offense this year. You might have to take him early, but Jameis is worth it.

(Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

9. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)- Russell Wilson may be the most talented quarterback in the NFL. He just doesn’t have the wide receivers or offensive line to crack the top 5. Looking to run the ball more this season, the Seahawks brought in Eddie Lacy but didn’t do too much to address the problem at wideout. Other than Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin, Wilson is lacking targets. He’s never a risky pick so if you want to go safe go with Wilson.

8. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)- Did Matt Stafford hit his peak last year? I sure think so. He’s a great player don’t get me wrong, and having Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick at full health will help, but I don’t see Stafford doing much better than last year. If you want to grab a elite level QB for the price of a second tier guy, Stafford is your man.

7. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)- I know what everyone is thinking, “Drew Brees deserves to be in the top 5!” Not this year. I can’t say anything bad about Brees except that he might hurt from the loss of Brandin Cooks. Michael Thomas will be great once again but it won’t be enough. I love Brees this year, I just believe that the other 6 quarterbacks will outplay him.

(http://sacrificefly.blogspot.com)

6. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)- Matt Ryan is an elite QB in the NFL. Mark my words because he will not be as good as he was last year. The dreaded super bowl hangover will haunt him and it will be hard to regain MVP status without Kyle Shanahan as his play caller. There’s nothing wrong with taking Matt Ryan this year, just don’t expect him to be a carbon copy of last year.

5. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)- Here is a prime example of a Super Bowl hangover. The combination of the big loss and the fact that he had to deal with a torn rotator cuff for the majority of the season, caused Cam to have the worst season of his career. Expect a bounce back year however. With new additions of Christian McCaffery and Curtis Samuel, the Panthers have the ability to have the most explosive offense in the NFL. The most important thing is if his offensive line can hold up.

4. Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders)- My way too early pick for MVP this year is Derek Carr. He’s young and hungry and looking for revenge from his early exit last year. Pair that with the receiving corps of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree and the addition of Marshawn Lynch, Carr is in for a huge year.

3. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts)- Another player who could easily be number one on this list if he could stay healthy. Andrew Luck has the size, arm strength, and arm accuracy to be successful in the NFL. He just needs more targets. Get him those targets and he is my number one quarterback.

(Foxboro, MA, 01/18/15) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws in the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, January 18, 2015. Staff Photo by Matt Stone

2. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)- This was by far the toughest decision I had to make. If you told me that Aaron Rodgers is the number one fantasy quarterback I’d have no problem with that, I just believe Brady is better. Rodgers has all the targets and a consistent offensive line, give him a legitimate running back and he’s my number one quarterback.

1. Tom Brady (New England Patriots)- Isn’t life just great for Tom Brady? Coming off his fifth super bowl win, he gets Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen and Rex Burkhead, all of whom will help out Brady immensely. Give the already best quarterback in the league a great offensive line and an influx of great receivers and running backs, he’s only going to get better.

 

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Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Safeties

Three safeties in the 2017 NFL Draft were selected in the first round. The 2018 draft class should also produce some good safeties that are good enough to be selected early on in the NFL Draft. Here are the best safety prospects playing college football in 2017:

Derwin James, Florida State

James is an elite safety prospect, that will in no doubt be a first round pick if he can stay healthy. He was sidelined for much of the 2016 campaign with a knee injury. He has great size that NFL teams will love at 6’3″ and 211 pounds.

In 14 games played for the Seminoles, James has totaled 102 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, one interception, four passes defended, two forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles. He displays great speed and athleticism, which makes him a unique player.

The Seminoles will play Alabama, Miami, Louisville, Clemson and Florida in the 2017 season. He won’t play too many pocket passing quarterbacks, but does have a chance to play a lot of good receivers this season. James can also help slow down some good rushing attacks this season.

Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

While he hasn’t hit the level of a lot of Alabama secondary players yet, Harrison is still a good NFL prospect. He too has good size at 6’3″ and 216 pounds.

Last year, Harrison had 83 tackles, seven passes defended and two interceptions. While he has the measurables to be a good NFL player, Harrison needs to back up all his potential with some good tape this season.

Alabama plays Florida State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn this season. Harrison will be tested against Auburn’s high-powered offense and good receivers on the rest of the teams.

Armani Watts, Texas A&M

Armani Watts NFL

Armani Watts (Photo by: gridironnow.com)

Watts has been a playmaker for the Aggies ever since he stepped on campus. It is fitting that he will be taken in the first few rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. He is a bit undersized at 5’11” and 200 pounds.

In his career at Texas A&M, Watt has accrued 237 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and six interceptions. He has played in a total of 33 games and brings a lot of experience to the table. His best season was in 2015, when he played 13 games. Last year he tore his hamstring against Ole Miss and only ended up playing in eight games. He needs to stay relatively healthy this season to make teams have a vote of confidence in him.

The Aggies play a very difficult schedule in 2017 and their opponents include: UCLA, Alabama, Florida, Auburn and LSU. These teams provide a wide variety of assets for Watts to go up against and should allow him to prove himself many more times for NFL scouts.

Jordan Whitehead, Pittsburgh

Jordan Whitehead NFL

Jordan Whitehead (Photo by: zimbio.com)

Another safety prospect that has been starting from his freshman season, Whitehead has been a star for the Panthers. He too is a little undersized at 5’11” and 190 pounds.

As a freshman in 2015, Whitehead had 110 total tackles. He is very physical and able to come up and stop the run, but also demonstrates good range while defending passes. He was lost to the season with an arm injury last year after playing in the first nine games of the season.

The Panthers play a tough schedule that should test Whitehead. Their big games are against: Penn State, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech. The biggest games that will impact Whitehead’s draft stock are against Penn State and Oklahoma State, who should have high-scoring offenses.

 

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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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Best 2018 NFL Draft Prospects: Linebackers

Linebacker is a position that is often overlooked, but very important nonetheless. In the 2017 NFL Draft there were plenty of talented linebackers selected. There are a lot of linebackers in this class that have potential, but will have to play well to justify a high draft pick. Here are the top prospects heading into the 2017 college football season:

Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

Tremaine Edmunds NFL

Tremaine Edmunds (Photo by: zimbio.com)

Edmunds is one of three brothers that have played for Virginia Tech and will look to have a big junior year. He has the most draft potential and has great size at 6’5″ and 236 pounds.

Last year Edmunds finished with 94 tackles. He has a great all around game with 16.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, an interception and three passes defended. If he can improve his coverage skills this season and keep consistent production, he will be a highly sought after prospect.

The Hokies play West Virginia, Clemson, North Carolina, Miami and Pittsburgh. Edmunds will need to step up in the game against Clemson for his team to win and if he does, his draft stock will be improved.

Malik Jefferson, Texas

One of the more highly touted linebackers coming out of high school, Jefferson has played early and often for the Longhorns. With solid size at 6’3″ and 238 pounds, he has all the tools to be the first linebacker selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Jefferson has 121 total tackles in his two seasons at Texas. He has great athleticism that makes him a well-rounded linebacker. With 16 tackles for loss, nine sacks, five passes defended and a touchdown scored he makes a lot of plays. Coverage and ball skills are things he will need to work on this season, but what he has already accomplished has made him a top prospect.

Texas has some big matchups this year that will require Jefferson’s best. They play USC, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. If he can help slow down the USC and Oklahoma offenses, he could be the first linebacker taken in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Kendall Joseph, Clemson

Joseph may have been overlooked because of all the talent on Clemson’s roster last year, but he will need to be the one making headlines this season. He is a little undersized at 6’0″ and 230 pounds, but makes plays.

Last year was his first season getting a lot of playing time and he broke out. He finished the season with 106 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. If he can have a solid campaign to follow up his breakout season, NFL teams will move him up on their boards.

Clemson plays Auburn, Louisville, Virginia Tech and Florida State, which should give Joseph a lot of opportunities to prove what he can do. He needs to produce against these good offenses this season to hold his ranking.

Skai Moore, South Carolina

Skai Moore NFL

Skai Moore (Photo by: cbssports.com)

Moore is a good prospect, but did miss all of the 2016 season with a neck injury. Staying healthy will be key to preserve and enhance Moore’s draft stock. He has average size at 6’2″ and 220 pounds.

In 2015, the last season he played, Moore finished with 110 total tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. He is a good run stopper and coverage linebacker, with 11 career interceptions, but could improve his blitzing ability. If his neck checks out and he has a productive year he will be one of the first linebackers taken.

The Gamecocks have Texas A&M, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Clemson all on the schedule. Moore will be called upon to be at his best this season for South Carolina and will reap the rewards if he answers that call.

 

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Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Defensive Tackles

There aren’t many defensive tackles who have made a name for themselves in the 2018 NFL Draft class, but more will emerge. As of now, these are the top defensive tackles in the 2018 NFL Draft class:

Da’Ron Payne, Alabama

Payne is the only returning starter from Alabama’s defensive line and now will have to step up for all of the talent they lost in the 2017 NFL Draft. He is 6’2″ and 319 pounds and fits in nicely at nose tackle for the Crimson Tide, but can probably play as a 4-3 defensive tackle in the pros.

While Payne doesn’t have a lot of stats, just four tackles for loss and two sacks in two years, he does a great job of taking on multiple blockers and shutting down running lanes. If he can continue to do that, he won’t need too many stats to be selected highly in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The junior will have multiple chances to go up against elite competition. The Crimson Tide play Florida State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn. Both Florida State and LSU will feature some interesting duels between Payne and their interior offensive linemen.

Vita Vea, Washington

Vita Vea NFL

Vita Vea (Photo by: scout.com)

He only started five games, but Vea had a huge impact for the Huskies that would’ve gotten him drafted pretty early in the 2017 NFL Draft. He decided to come back to school for his redshirt junior season. At 6’5″ and 335 pounds, he has elite size for the position.

Vea demonstrated the ability to rush the passer in his limited action last season with five sacks. He needs to progress at stopping the run, but for only a few starts he is well on his way to improving in the 2017 season. A 3-4 nose tackle is likely his best fit at the NFL level.

The Huskies have key games against Colorado, UCLA, Oregon, Stanford, Utah and Washington State. If Vea can increase his production with increased playing time, he will be one of the first interior defensive linemen drafted.

Christian Wilkins, Clemson

Christian Wilkins NFL

Christian Wilkins (Photo by: youtube.com)

Wilkins has good size at 6’4″ and 310 pounds and is coming off of an impressive season that ended with a National Championship. With the exodus of talent from Clemson’s team, it will be Wilkins time to lead the team.

One of the best assets that Wilkins has is his ability to stop the run. He finished last season with 13 tackles for loss. He is a decent pass rusher, but could improve this season to make himself a more complete prospect. His best fit is as a 4-3 defensive tackle and isn’t really fit to play in a 3-4 scheme.

The Tigers will play Auburn, Louisville, Virginia Tech, NC State and Florida State. The Florida State game always features a lot of NFL Draft prospects and will likely be Wilkins biggest test.

 

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Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Edge Rushers

Edge rusher is one of the most important positions in the NFL and is routinely a position taken very highly in NFL Drafts. Here are the best  2018 NFL Draft prospects at the edge rusher position playing in college football this season:

Bradley Chubb, N.C. State

Bradley Chubb NFL

Bradley Chubb (photo by: rivals.com)

Chubb had a breakout season last year to put him on a lot of NFL Scouts’ radars. He has good size at 6’4″ and 275 pounds and with a good campaign in 2017, can be one of the first edge rushers off the board in the 2018 NFL Draft.

N.C. State will have a great defensive line in the upcoming season and Chubb will be the best player on it. He totaled 21 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2016. Chubb did a great job of beating one on one blocks with his strength and was effective in run support and pressuring the quarterback.

The Wolfpack will play plenty of tough teams in 2017, giving Chubb a chance to play against good competition. They play Florida State, Louisville, Notre Dame, Clemson and North Carolina. The game against the Fighting Irish will be a really good matchup, if Chubb gets matched up with Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey.

Marcell Frazier, Missouri

Another year and another Missouri defensive lineman heading to the NFL as a top prospect. Frazier is 6’5″ and 265 pounds, which gives him the necessary length to win on the outside.

The most impressive thing about Frazier’s 2016 play was his ability to come on strong at the end of the season. He had 6.5 of his 8.5 sacks in the last three games of the season. If he can continue that progression into the 2017 season, he can be one of the first edge rushers taken in the 2018 NFL Draft.

With games against Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, the Tigers will have to go up against some good offensive lines. How Frazier fares against the Florida offensive line especially could have a huge impact on his draft stock.

Sam Hubbard, Ohio State

Hubbard got his start at Ohio State when Joey Bosa served a suspension in 2015. He didn’t disappoint with 6.5 sacks and even helped out when Bosa came back from suspension.

Last season he only had 3.5 sacks, but still impressed scouts with his play. He stands at 6’5″ and 266 pounds, which is good height for an NFL defensive end, but he likely needs to add on a few pounds of strength. Hubbard will have to show increased production in 2017 in order to justify a high selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Ohio State plays a lot of good teams next season. Hubbard will have to show up against Oklahoma, Nebraska, Penn State, Iowa, Michigan State and Michigan. The big game for Hubbard could be Oklahoma, where it is possible he could be going up against Orlando Brown, a top tackle prospect.

Arden Key, LSU

Although it is still early in the draft process, Key is the front runner to be the first edge rusher selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. He has great height at 6’6″, but needs to add muscle to his 231 pound frame.

Key has produced since day one at LSU with 16 career sacks in his first two seasons. He has experience as a 4-3 defensive end and a 3-4 outside linebacker, which will make him appealing to all NFL teams. If he can get stronger and use his play strength to his advantage this season, he should be a top 15 pick.

LSU has a tough schedule that features BYU, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas A&M. Going up against the Tennessee and Alabama offensive line will adequately test Key and if he performs well, he will be the first edge rusher off the board.

Harold Landry, Boston College

Harold Landry NFL

Harold Landry (Photo by: Bostonglobe.com)

Landry was one of the most improved players in college football in 2016. He went from 3.5 sacks in 2015 to 16.5 last year. If he puts up production like that again, teams will have a hard time passing on him.

At 6’3″ and 250 pounds, Landry has the necessary strength and weight, but his length is just adequate. There is no doubt he can produce, but the combine could hold him back after the 2017 season.

With games against Notre Dame, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Florida State, the Eagles will play the best of the best in the 2017 season. Landry will be going up against good offensive lines specifically against Clemson and Notre Dame.

 

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Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Guards and centers

The interior of the offensive line is not usually a position that is highly sought after in the NFL Draft. In the 2017 NFL Draft Forrest Lamp may have been the best lineman in the class, but he didn’t get drafted until the second round. These are still valuable players and will get some attention this season, even if it isn’t all the attention they deserve. Here are the best interior offensive linemen for the 2018 NFL Draft, as the college football season approaches:

Mason Cole, Michigan

Mason Cole NFL

Mason Cole (Photo by: mlive.com)

Cole is one of the few linemen in this class who has the capability to play both tackle and center. His best NFL position is center, so he moved there permanently in 2016. He has good size at 6’5″ and 305 pounds.

While he has played solidly, another year of good tape is needed to be the best interior lineman in this class. Getting better at pass protections would be a nice bonus heading into this season.

The Wolverines will go up against some good teams in 2017 that should give Cole the opportunity to prove why he should be the first center selected in the draft. Michigan plays Florida, Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State this season.

Will Clapp, LSU

LSU had a few good interior offensive linemen last season, but Clapp is the best one remaining. He can play both guard and center and likely will play the latter this season.

He is 6’5″ and 309 pounds, giving him decent size. Staying healthy will be a key for Clapp, as he has had some shoulder issues in the past. Clapp is good at both pass and run blocking and needs to continue to show that this season.

The Tigers will have a tough schedule as always in the SEC West. They have tough games against BYU, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

Nelson is another good offensive line prospect out of Notre Dame and would have been one of the first interior offensive linemen off the board. Nelson has great size at 6’5″ and 325 pounds.

He has the necessary athleticism to pass block in the NFL, but has been more of a run blocker at the college level. He has started for the past two seasons and helped get the Notre Dame run game going.

Notre Dame has some good teams on the schedule this year and they play Georgia, Michigan State, USC, North Carolina, NC State, Stanford and Miami.

Billy Price, Ohio State

Billy Price NFL

Billy Price (Photo by: landof10.com)

A lot of the interior linemen have good experience, and Price does as well. He has started since 2014 and really helped Ezekiel Elliot emerge as a top running back.

He is 6’4″ and 315 pounds, which is solid for a guard. He has the experience and the run blocking down, but needs to improve his pass blocking in his last season of college football.

Ohio State plays Oklahoma, Nebraska, Penn State, Iowa, Michigan State and Michigan. Price will have his hands full with a reloaded Michigan offensive line, but he has played well against them in the past. With a good season he could go in the top two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

 

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