New England Patriots 2017 NFL Draft Profile

By: Jonathan Reiter

Happy 32nd Day of Draftmas! To conclude our NFL Draft breakdown, we turn to the defending Super Bowl Champions.

Summary

The New England Patriots finished the season with a league best 14-2 record. Even with Tom Brady being suspended for the first four games of the season, the Patriots did not falter. The Patriots’ stellar season culminated with the raising of the Lombardi trophy after a 25-point comeback to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28.

Tom Brady (Photo courtesy: abcnews.com)

The Patriots are setting their sights on another title run this upcoming season, but there have been a few key departures which threaten the chances of defending their crown. On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots saw Jabaal Sheard leave for the Colts and Chris Long went to the Eagles. Their defensive line is not getting any younger either with Rob Ninkovich entering his 13th season.

LeGarrette Blount still finds himself without a team. Patriots are still considering the possibility of bringing Blount back, but it would have to be at a discount rate with James White, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead already formulated into Brady’s offense.

The Patriots also may be looking into the possibility of an addition to the secondary. The Patriots resigned Super Bowl 49 hero Malcom Butler after he shopped around his services as a restricted free agent. Malcom Butler is still at the center of trade rumors, and he could be Bill Belichick’s ace-in-the-hole to trade into the first round.

New England also recruited some new faces to their title defense. Most notably, the Patriots traded for Brandon Cooks this offseason to add speed to Tom Brady’s spread offense. Rob Gronkowski found a new partner in crime in the veteran tight end Dwayne Allen. Martellus Bennett took on the work load at the tight end position after Gronkowski’s injury, but he will find himself playing at Lambeau Field with the Green Bay Packers next season.

Luckily for the Patriots they were able to re-sign Dont’a Hightower to lead the linebacker core for the defense. New England was also able to trade for Carolina’s DE Kony Ealy to help with the pass rush burden.

The Patriots fulfilled many of their key needs in offseason trades and free agency signings, but the kings of the NFL could use this 2017 NFL draft to solidify their spot as the Super Bowl 52 champions in 2018.

THE DRAFT:

New England’s draft plan will have to wait until the third round this year unless they trade up into the first two rounds.  Most teams’ plans would be hindered by such a late start in the draft, but the Patriots’ ability to find great, late round talent is unparalleled.  The Patriots find themselves with less picks due to trades and sanctions of the “ridiculous” Deflategate.

PICKS:

Third Round: 72nd and 96th Picks

Fourth Round: 131st Pick

Fifth Round: 163rd and 183rd Picks

Sixth Round: 200th

Seventh Round: 237th Pick

NEEDS:

Defensive End

The top priority for the Patriots is to solidify the defensive line. The Patriots will most likely find a player who works opposite of Kony Ealy at the defensive end position. New England’s rush defense was tied for 3rd best in the league last season, and an addition to the defensive line is key to keeping a top tier defense intact.

Cornerback

The Patriots also need to focus on a secondary option with the question surrounding Malcom Butler. A young cornerback is never a bad idea for a team with the youth needed at the position today. Even with the possibility of Butler staying on the roster, developing a rookie cornerback this year would be a great investment into the future of the defense.

Tight End

Rob Gronkowski has a new counterpart in Dwayne Allen, but both tight ends have been prone to injury. Tight end by committee could be an option for this upcoming season if the Patriots take a tight end with a mid-round.

Offensive Line

The Patriots do not have many needs on the offensive side of the ball with the trades and free agency signings, but they should invest for the future with a pick on the o-line. New England’s blind side tackle is in the last year of his contract, and the Patriots do not have anyone to fill his role after the 2017 season. The Patriots need to find someone in the draft to be groomed for the 2018 system. They need to find a reliable player in this draft to take over the role because protecting Tom Brady’s blindside may be the most important job in the NFL.

 

THIRD ROUND BREAK DOWN

72nd Pick: Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic

Hendrickson comes from a small school, but he turned heads at the NFL combine. He had 51 tackles last season with 13.5 of them being sacks.

96th Pick: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Sidney Jones (Photo courtesy: cbssports.com)

Jones, who was considered the top corner in the draft, tore his Achilles during his pro day with NFL scouts watching. Jones’ ability to be ready for this upcoming season is unlikely, but he could be the investment into the secondary the Patriots need for the future.

Conclusion

The Patriots are not in the ideal drafting scenario for 2017, but they will still be a top team for the upcoming season. If they can find the right players in the mid to late rounds of the draft to solidify the defense, the New England Patriots will be on pace for a second straight Super Bowl victory.

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

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

“From Our Haus to Yours”

Minnesota Vikings 2017 NFL Draft Profile

It’s day 31 of Draftmas and the Vikings are on the clock.

Summary

The Minnesota Vikings had a lot to deal with last season, as Teddy Bridgewater went down with a knee injury right before the start of the season. Sam Bradford was acquired and competed admirably, but Minnesota failed to make the playoffs at 8-8.

With Bradford and Bridgewater, the Vikings have two solid, but not great quarterbacks. If Bridgewater isn’t ready to go following the injury, Bradford will start until a competition can get underway. Adrian Peterson was not re-signed and is now a free agent, while Latavious Murray was signed to replace him. Stefon Diggs is a good young receiver, but last year rookie Laquon Treadwell didn’t see the field much and didn’t play all that well when he was on it. Minnesota does have a good tight end in Kyle Rudolph.

Mike Zimmer (Photo courtesy: upi.com)

The offensive line still needs to be addressed and was a major issue last year. Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff were signed to start at the tackle spots, but both had bad seasons last year. The Vikings will likely target a few offensive linemen in this draft.

Defense was the Vikings forte last season. They gave up the third fewest passing yards and were average stopping the run. The defense does have a few things to address this offseason.

Sharrif Floyd had complications with his recovery from knee surgery, which could be career ending. That leaves the Vikings thin on the interior of the defensive line. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffin both had good years at defensive end.

Anthony Barr did not play well last year, but should be able to bounce back to good form. Eric Kendricks had a solid second season, but they might need some depth behind those two. Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes are both young corners who still need growth. Harrison Smith is one of the best safeties in the game, but needs a partner in crime at the safety position.

 

Picks and Needs

The Vikings have eight picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, but none in the first round.

First round: (0)

Second round: (1) No. 48

Third round: (2) No. 79, 86

Fourth round: (2) No. 121, 129

Fifth round: (1) No. 160

Sixth round: (1) No. 199

Seventh round: (1) No. 232

These needs are in no particular order.

Offensive Needs:

Offensive Line- There is a pressing need for offensive line help and signing veterans who aren’t great, will only go so far.

Running Back- Murray was signed, but they will need depth behind him to groom.
Defensive Needs:
Defensive Tackle- This may not have been a huge need before the Floyd news, but it is now.
Outside Linebacker- Another linebacker is needed to go with Kendricks and Barr.

Safety- They will likely just get depth at this position to start.

Targets and Thoughts

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

Second Round

Pick #48: Dan Feeney, G, Indiana

Dan Feeney (Photo courtesy: Drafttek.com)

Feeney is a physical guard that can help get the Vikings ground game going. They could go with a tackle here too, but there may not be any worth taking at this spot.

Third Round:

Pick #79: Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson

With the Floyd injury, the Vikings need to get at least one defensive tackle in this class. Watkins is good at stopping the run, but was Clemson’s best interior pass rusher last season.

Pick #86: Semaj Perine, RB, Oklahoma

Perine is a power back that can be a nice compliment to Murray. He set the single game rushing record for division I college football during his time in Norman.

Conclusion

The Vikings have more needs than originally anticipated, but if they get the right players in this draft, they can find themselves back in the playoffs.

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

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

“From Our Haus to Yours”

Los Angeles Rams 2017 NFL Draft Profile From Chat Sports

The Rams are on the clock for day 30 of Draftmas.

Summary

The 2016 season was not kind to the Los Angeles Rams. No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff struggled behind an iffy offensive line (as did RB Todd Gurley) and the Rams limped through the year as NFL’s worst offense with just 14 points per game. The defense was just below league average, but they couldn’t work miracles. A better offense would lift some of the burden off the defense and likely result in better play.

Todd Gurley (Photo courtesy: latimes.com)

Head coach Jeff Fisher was fired mid-year and now the young Sean McVay is in charge. He has a bright future and the presence of Wade Phillips as the defensive coordinator will help on multiple levels. The main mission for McVay, who is a bit of a wunderkind and did great work in Washington, will be to ensure Jared Goff becomes the franchise option. Goff was not good last year, completing 54.6 percent of his passes of 1,089 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions. He never looked fully comfortable, likely due to a combination of a poor offense around him and Fisher’s strange decision to hold off on playing Goff early in the year. McVay will need to set up a system friendly to Goff, much like the Titans and Cowboys have done a fantastic job of doing with their young QBs.
Todd Gurley should be primed for a bounce back year, especially with the changes the Rams made on the offensive line. Andrew Whitworth, one of the better left tackles in the NFL, comes over from the Bengals. It was one of the best signings off the offseason: at a team-friendly price (compared to the rest of the OT market), Whitworth will provide a badly need blindside protector and veteran leadership. The rest of the offensive line will likely shake out as Rodger Saffold at LG, John Sullivan at C, Rob Havenstein at RG and Greg Robinson at RT. Havenstein and Robinson could flip spots, but the hope is Robinson locks down the RT spot after struggling badly on the left side. Sullivan isn’t a long-term answer, but he can be a stop-gap if the Rams select a young center in the draft. Maybe not for this year, but more OL help could be on the way if the unit doesn’t gel.
Weapons for Goff remain an area of concern. Tavon Austin has ability, but he’s on an unfriendly contract and the Rams have yet to use him properly. Robert Woods was signed to a big deal, but he never proved himself in Buffalo and that deal could look bad in a year or two. Pharoh Cooper has upside, but he’s not a legit No. 1 weapon. Getting that true No. 1 WR for Goff is a must in the near future. At tight end, last year’s fourth round pick Tyler Higbee might not be the answer. In a loaded TE class, the Rams should look for another option. Lance Dunbar will assume some of the third down duties at RB.
As mentioned, Phillips comes to town on the defensive side of the ball. The dirty little “secret” of Phillips vaunted defense is that it’s really just a 4-3 under with a defensive end standing up. So, Aaron Donald will still be one of the best 3-techniques in the NFL. How the rest of the defensive line fits is still up for grabs. Dominique Easley might be better as a 3-technique than a 5-technique or a 1-technique, so he might be relegated to backup duty. Michael Brockers could end up at either spot, but he’ll start somewhere. Where exactly he lines up most of the time might not be decided until after the draft.
The Rams overhauled the edge rusher spot, with Robert Quinn and Ethan Westbrooks the only notable players returning. Connor Barwin was a smart signing, as he’ll provide a veteran option. But a young piece or two is needed, especially if Robert Quinn can’t return to form. Alex Ogletree and Mark Barron should work as the two ILBs, but there isn’t much proven ability behind them.
In the secondary, picking up Kayvon Webster and Nickell Robey-Coleman were great moves. Webster, who knows Phillips defense, could break out as the No. 2 corner. Robey-Coleman will man the nickel role. That allows LaMarcus Joyner to assume free safety duties, as Maurice Alexander shifts to strong safety. Trumaine Johnson is back, for the time being, as the No. 1 CB.

Picks and Needs

The Rams have eight picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. They are without a first round pick as a result of the Jared Goff trade, which also cost them a compensatory draft pick in the third round. The extra fourth is a compensatory pick, while the sixth is via the Dolphins from the William Hayes trade. The seventh is from the Ravens as part of the Chris Givens trade, as the Rams’ original pick was swapped in the Hayes deal.

First round: (0)
Second round: (1) No. 37
Third round: (1) No. 69
Fourth round: (2) No. 112, No. 141
Fifth round: (1) No. 149
Sixth round: (2) No. 189, No. 206
Seventh round: (1) No. 234
These needs are in no particular order and are the top ones.
Offensive Needs:
Wide Receiver – Tavon Austin has been inconsistent, while Pharoh Cooper hasn’t proven himself yet. Robert Woods is a No. 2, at best, so getting a legit No. 1 option for Goff is needed.
Tight End – It’s an amazing draft class for tight ends. The Rams should either add a legit No. 1 TE or a compliment for Tyler Higbee.
Offensive Line – I’ll group this together, since there are multiple needs. Whitworth and Sullivan are not long-term options, so young pieces will be needed at some point. In a bad tackle class, a center might be the route the Rams elect to go. A guard, even if it’s just a future backup, wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Defensive needs:
Defensive Line – Maybe it’s a true nose guard or maybe it’s another 5-technique. Either way, the Rams could use another piece alongside Brockers and Donald.
Edge Rusher – This might be the Rams’ biggest need. Robert Quinn is one keeper (hopefully: he’s had two down years in a row), but Connor Barwin isn’t a long-term option. Phillips’ defense is based on getting pressure. It’s a really good edge rusher class, so adding one early makes sense.
Cornerback – Kayvon Webster could have a breakout year and Nickell Robey-Coleman will man the slot, but Trumaine Johnson’s future is a question mark. He’ll likely get a year to see how he fits under Phillips, but there are no guarantees. With little reliable depth behind those three, another mid-round pick is needed.

Targets and Thoughts

Below are some potential targets for the Rams for each of their Day 1 and Day 2 picks.

Second Round: 

Pick No. 37: Carl Lawson, EDGE, Auburn

Carl Lawson (Photo courtesy: profootballfocus.com)

If it wasn’t for injuries at Auburn, Lawson would likely be a first round pick. The production is there and although he’s a bit undersize, he should fit in the Rams’ system. He could be a part-time player in year one before replacing Barwin full-time once Barwin’s deal is up. There will plenty of edge options on the board here for Los Angeles.
Third Round: 
Pick No. 69: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
The Rams have shown quite a bit of interest in the physical, productive WR from USC. He might not be a full-fledged No. 1 option, but he’s a very different player than Austin or Cooper. Concerns around his speed and separation ability (think Laquon Treadwell) could cause him to slide out of the first two rounds.
Conclusion
The Rams aren’t ready to truly contend next year. It’s a rebuild year, with the focus on Goff improving. Not having a first round pick doesn’t help, but the Rams can add a few pieces, on either side of the ball, as they continue their rebuild.
You can read all of the previous days of Draftmas here!
You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles!
To read more sports stories by Tom Downey go to Chat Sports!
“From Our Haus to Yours”

2017 Atlanta Falcons NFL Draft Profile

For day 29 of draftmas, the Atlanta Falcons take center stage.

Summary:

Atlanta had a terrific season last year, finishing with a regular season mark of 11-5. Unfortunately, all that will be remembered is the Falcons blowing a 25 point third quarter lead in the Super Bowl.

Matt Ryan (Photo courtesy: twitter.com)

There are not many weaknesses on this football team. The Matt Ryan led offense remains loaded. A lineup that features Julio Jones, Tevin Coleman, Mohamed Sanu and Devonta Freeman makes for an embarrassment of riches. Throw in an offensive line that was galvanized by free agent signing Alex Mack, and this offense went from talented to lethal last year. They were held under 20 points in just a single game

The defense was statistically below average, but the emergence of 2016 sack champion Vic Beasley and rookie safety Keanu Neal provides reason for optimism in 2017.

Pushing the right button on draft day makes a chance a Super Bowl redemption even more realistic than it already is. Here is a look at where the Falcons stand.

Picks and needs:

First round: (1) No. 31

Second round: (1) No. 63

Third round: (1) No. 95

Fourth round: (1) No. 136

Fifth round: (1) No. 174

Sixth round: (0)

Seventh round: (1) No. 249

These needs are in no particular order.

Defensive Needs:

Defensive Line- Vic Beasley needs someone else to get after the quarterback, while they could use some depth on the interior as well.

Linebacker- Deon Jones is great, but they don’t have much outside of him.

Offensive Needs:

Guard- Chris Chester retired and Ben Garland is the projected starter at right guard. They need to get that fixed before the start of the season.

Tight End- Austin Hooper is solid, but they don’t really have a big pass-catching threat at tight end.

 

Possible Targets:

These players could realistically be drafted by the Falcons where they are selecting. There will be no trades.

First Round:

Pick #31: Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

Charles Harris (Photo courtesy: stltoday.com)

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

Second Round:

Pick #63: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

McMillan needs to work on pass coverage, but can help stop the run. He will likely be a two down linebacker in the NFL to start. Atlanta doesn’t have many good linebackers outside of Deon Jones, so they can get another one with good value at this selection.

Third Round: 

Pick #95: Ethan Pocic, OG/C, LSU

Pocic has a lot of experience playing on the interior of the offensive line at LSU. He needs to work on his pass blocking, but is good at run blocking. He can start at guard from day one with a good training camp and preseason showing.

 

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

 

 

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Dakota Cox

Dakota Cox definitely made his mark at New Mexico over the last four years.

The former Lobos linebacker started 43 of the 46 games he played in. He finished his career with 403 tackles, which ranks sixth in school history and third in the Mountain West.

Cox also was able to help rebuild the Lobos’ football program. The team finished with a 4-9 record the year before he got there.

“Coming here in 2013, the team wasn’t really where it needed to be,” Cox said. “Coming in, I knew I could help get it to the level where it should be and kind of put the Lobos back on the map.”

By the end of his career, he was able to help the Lobos to back-to-back winning seasons in 2015 and 2016. The team also played in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl in both of those winning seasons, losing the first year and winning the second. Cox said playing with his New Mexico teammates was an awesome experience.

“I’ve made plenty of awesome friendships, just really kind of a brotherhood around here,” Cox said. “Guys I know are going to be friends for life.”

Photo Courtesy of footballmatters.org

Before 2015, the last time the Lobos finished with a winning season was 1997 when another stud linebacker, Brian Urlacher, was on the team. Urlacher was one of the guys Cox admired growing up.

“Brian Urlacher was one of the first I watched play,” Cox said. “He was a guy I watched growing up pretty heavily because I wanted to be a linebacker just like him.”

Urlacher and Cox were definitely standouts in college. One thing that does separate them is size. Urlacher stands 6-foot-4, 258 pounds while Cox stands 6-foot and 229 pounds. Cox is considered undersized for a linebacker, but he said his film proves his size should not be a concern.

“If you watch my film, I’m a guy that plays hard all the time,” Cox said. “I bring 100 percent effort everytime I’m on the field and try to bring that intensity. I do think I play much bigger than I actually am. That is kind of what I take pride in.”

Cox has not talked to any teams personally, but a few have contacted his coaching staff to see how he has progressed. Cox has been training at New Mexico with the strength coaches and had a great pro day. He ran a 4.62 40-yard dash and put up 20 reps on the bench press. Since then he has been doing more football specific workouts to get bigger, faster and stronger for the NFL.

Cox believes one of the biggest things he can provide an NFL team is his experience.

“I bring a different aspect to the linebacker position,” Cox said. “Just being knowledgable of the game. I definitely have a good football I.Q., which I take pride in.”

Cox believes his film and stats speak for themselves and that no team would regret giving him a chance.

“If I can get the opportunity to play on a team I definitely think that no one would regret signing me,” Cox said. “I definitely think I can be a great contribution to any team.”

DAKOTA COX SCOUTING REPORT

Dakota Cox has adequate size standing just under six feet tall and weighing 226 pounds, but plays bigger than that. Cox is one of the most experienced linebackers in the draft class, leading the New Mexico Lobos in tackles for all four of his seasons. He displays his good football IQ on the field every game.

When the ball is snapped, Cox recognizes plays well and has a quick first step. He has adequate speed for a linebacker and ran a 4.62 40 yard dash at his pro day.  He is good at shedding or dodging blockers and get to the ball carrier on running plays. Once he reaches the ball carrier, he tackles well and almost always makes the play, if he can reach it.

He is good at zone coverage and has a lot of experience playing zone at New Mexico. For him to be a good NFL linebacker, he will have to prove he can cover better in man to man coverage and stay on the field for all three downs.

Cox’s best asset is tackling and nose for the ball. He seemingly always comes up with tackles and stops big plays before they happen.

For Cox to make it at the next level he will have to use his great tackling abilities on special teams. With his skill of dodging and shedding blockers, he can use that on the punt and kick coverage teams and eventually earn more playing time at linebacker. He is a player that could make the Pro Bowl as a special teamer.

Watch Dakota Cox’s career highlights here.

You can listen to Josh Burris interview Dakota Cox in its entirety below.

Josh Burris contributed the story portion of this article. Joe DiTullio provided the scouting report.

You can “Like” The Game Haus on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles written by other great TGH writers along with Josh and Joe!

“From Our Haus to Yours”

Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 NFL Draft Profile

It’s day 28 of Draftmas and the Steelers will now be analyzed.

Summary

Pittsburgh went 11-5 last season, before losing to the Patriots in the AFC Championship. It was a successful season, but the Steelers will be looking for more in 2017.

Ben Roethlisberger (Photo courtesy: bleacherreport.com)

Ben Roethlisberger has decided not to retire and will be back to lead the high-powered Steelers’ offense once again. He led the team to averaging the fifth most passing yards per game in the league. Le’Veon Bell has missed 20 games in his first four seasons due to suspension and injury, but looks to be ready for 2017. He finished with 1,268 rushing yards on 4.9 yards per carry.

The Steelers have Antonio Brown, one of the NFL’s best players, locked up at wide receiver for years to come. Behind him there are a lot of young and suspension-prone players. Martavis Bryant should be back for next season after sitting out 2016 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Eli Rogers played solidly in his rookie campaign last year, but another young receiver is needed. Roethlisberger wants (although he took a step back from that later) and needs a new tight end as the Steelers haven’t adequately replaced Heath Miller and luckily for him this class is loaded with great tight ends.

The offensive line is one of the best in the NFL and really doesn’t have much of a weak point. If anything Pittsburgh just needs to add depth, as players have gotten injured in the past (Maurkice Pouncey) and left the Steelers in a bind.

Pass defense for the Steelers was average in 2016, as they allowed 3,882 passing yards. The run defense was a little bit better, ranking 13th in the league and allowing 1,600 yards on the ground. Pittsburgh will load up on this side of the ball in the draft.

Starting in the trenches, Javon Hargrave had a solid rookie season at nose tackle. Stephon Tuitt is a good defensive end for the 3-4 scheme and so is Cameron Hayward, but he was injured last year.

Leading the team in sacks was an aging James Harrison, while Bud Dupree played the other outside linebacker when healthy, but was likely still dealing with injury issues when he came back. Dupree did have good showings in the playoffs though. Ryan Shazier has had a rough first few seasons in the NFL, but progressed last year and will need to continue that progression to be a leader for the Steelers’ defense. Vince Williams is projected to start at the other inside linebacker position and may need to be upgraded.

With William Gay, Ross Cockrell and Artie Burns, Pittsburgh has a lot of decent corners, but none that are elite. They need to add depth in this draft class at corner at the very least. Sean Davis and Mike Mitchell played safety last season, but the Steelers could do better.

Picks and Needs

Pittsburgh have eight picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Steelers need to find the key pieces in this draft that can help get them a Super Bowl ring next season.

First round: (1) No. 30

Second round: (1) No. 62

Third round: (2) No. 94. 105

Fourth round: (1) No. 135

Fifth round: (1) No. 173

Sixth round: (1) No. 213

Seventh round: (1) No. 248

These needs are in no particular order.

Offensive Needs:

 

Tight End- Jesse James is an adequate tight end, but Roethlisberger has said he needs help at that position. Ladarius Green hardly played last year due to injury.
Wide Receiver- This isn’t a huge need, but if Bryant gets suspended again, the Steelers need a young receiver to fall back on.
Running Back- Bell misses a lot of games (five per year on average) and Knile Davis was signed, but Pittsburgh may want to take a young running back in the late rounds to develop.
Defensive Needs:
Edge Rusher- Despite doing well so far, James Harrison can’t play forever. Dupree needs to step his game up as well.

Inside Linebacker- Shazier started playing well last year, but Williams needs to be upgraded.

Cornerback- They just need a little more depth at corner, but it’s not a huge need.

Safety- Mike Mitchell and Sean Davis may not be the answer to get Pittsburgh’s passing defense where they want it to be.

Targets and Thoughts

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

First Round:

Pick #30: Jabrill Peppers, S/LB/CB, Michigan

Jabrill Peppers (Photo courtesy: si.com)

Pittsburgh reportedly loves Peppers. He would fill one of their needs at safety and looks like a player that could buy into the Steelers’ culture. Peppers can be successful at any position in the back seven of the defense, but will be the safety that Pittsburgh needs. Peppers’ downside his his ball skills. He has all the fundamentals down, but had only one career interception in college.


Second Round

Pick #62: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

Another inside linebacker is needed and McMillan presents good value at the end of the second round. McMillan will help a lot against the run, but needs work on his coverage skills.

Third Round:

Pick #94: Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama

Williams is a first round talent, but has off the field issues. The Steelers’ will like his upside and could see him as the eventual replacement to James Harrison.

Pick #105: Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech

If Roethlisberger wants a tight end, he will likely get one. Hodges is a great receiving tight end who can even split out wide as a receiver. He does have to refine his blocking skills.

Conclusion

The Steelers are only a few players and plays away from being able to win a Super BDraftowl. With a solid draft this year, Pittsburgh can win a Lombardi Trophy.

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

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

“From Our Haus to Yours”

Green Bay Packers 2017 NFL Draft Profile

The Packers are on the clock for day 27 of Draftmas.

Summary

Green Bay had an up and down season last year, losing four games in the middle of the season, then ripping off a streak of six straight wins to end the regular season. They ended up losing to the Falcons in the NFC Championship game, but are poised to have a great season again this year.

Aaron Rodgers (Photo courtesy: packers.com)

With Aaron Rodgers at the helm, the quarterback position and the passing offense are in good hands. Eddie Lacy is now gone and the Packers are hoping that Ty Montgomery can continue to produce from the running back position. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry in 2016 and Mike McCarthy is putting his faith in him.

The wide receiver position is always stacked, when they can stay healthy. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams are all good receivers. Green Bay also signed Martellus Bennett to play tight end, giving Rodgers a lot of weapons for next season. The offensive line is great, but right guard is the weak point.

Defensively, the Packers had a tough time stopping plays through the air, as they gave up the second most passing yards in the NFL. The good news is they stopped the run well, ranking eighth in rushing yards allowed.

With the pass defense doing so poorly, the only great players Green Bay has in the secondary are Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett, the safeties. After showing flashes as rookies, Quentin Rollins and Damarious Randall both took steps backwards last season. Davon House was signed, but had a terrible season last year.

Clay Matthews had a rough season, but will likely bounce back. Meanwhile, Nick Perry played well at the other outside linebacker position. Jake Ryan had a solid season at inside linebacker, while rookie Blake Martinez struggled, but showed flashes that he can be a good player in future. Mike Daniels had a great season at defensive end, while Kenny Clark and Dean Lowery, both had solid rookie seasons at the other two defensive line positions.

Picks and Needs

The Packers have eight picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Packers can get the key pieces to help Rodgers win the Super Bowl in this draft.

First round: (1) No. 29

Second round: (1) No. 61

Third round: (1) No. 93

Fourth round: (1) No. 134

Fifth round: (2) No. 172, No. 182

Sixth round: (1) No. 212

Seventh round: (1) No. 247

These needs are in no particular order.

Offensive Needs:

Wide Receiver- With Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb getting injured often and Ty Montgomery moving to running back, a wide receiver may be taken late.

Right Guard- Don Barclay needs to be upgraded and Lane Taylor only has one solid season under his belt.
Running Back- Ty Montgomery is the new running back, but if the Packers aren’t confident in him, they will take one to compete for the job.
Defensive Needs:

Inside Linebacker- Blake Martinez didn’t have a great rookie season and Jake Ryan has one solid year and one bad year in his career.

Cornerback- Green Bay doesn’t have any great corners and they need to stop the pass better next season.

Targets and Thoughts

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

First Round:

Pick #29: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

Tre’Davious White (Photo courtesy: nola.com)

White would fill the Packers most glaring need, but could also provide a good kick returner. He is a leader for LSU and a solid cover corner. Size, strength and run support are the big question marks for White, but his man to man cover skills should make him worth it at this pick.


Second Round

Pick #61: T.J. Watt, DE/OLB, Wisconsin

Green Bay can get their replacement for Julius Peppers. Watt is a local guy from Wisconsin and has the ability to grow into a great edge rusher. He needs some time to develop as he only played on defense for one year at Wisconsin.

Third Round:

Pick #93: Nico Siragusa, G, San Diego State

Siragusa was a big part of running back Donnell Pumphrey breaking the all time rushing record for a career in college football at San Diego State. The Packers would at the very least like the depth Siragusa can provide on the interior of the offensive line.

Conclusion

The Packers will always have a shot at a Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers and selecting the right players in this draft class can support Rodgers at the quest for another Lombardi Trophy.

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

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

“From Our Haus to Yours”

Dallas Cowboys 2017 NFL Draft Profile

The Dallas Cowboys are on the clock for day 26 of Draftmas.

Summary

The Cowboys had a better year than anyone could’ve expected, given that they started a rookie quarterback and running back. Dallas finished 13-3 and were a favorite to go on to the Super Bowl. They ended up losing to the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional round of the playoffs.

Dak Prescott (Photo courtesy: wfaa.com)

 

Although Tony Romo has been released from the team, there is a lot of hope in the future of the team with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot and a great offensive line. Left guard Ronald Leary left in free agency, but he only started last season because La’el Collins was injured. The real loss on the offensive line that is going to hurt them is right tackle Doug Free retiring. Chaz Green will get his shot to step up and fill in at that role.

Terrance Williams was brought back to be a solid number two to Dez Bryant, while Cole Beasley holds down the slot. Tight end Jason Witten was given an extension to provide a great security blanket for Prescott.

The defense lost a lot of players that need to be replaced. Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, J.J. Wilcox and Brandon Carr all left in free agency out of the secondary. Young players like Byron Jones and Anthony Brown will need to continue to play well. Orlando Scandrick, Nolan Carroll and Jeff Heath will be expected to elevate their level of play and be leaders in the secondary.

Sean Lee is one of the best linebackers in the game and is joined by Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson in the starting lineup. The Cowboys are excited about the progress of Jaylon Smith, who was drafted in last year’s draft, but had a drop foot injury and nerve damage, so had to sit out last season. If he can get healthy, he would be a great addition to the linebackers.

Defensive line is perennially a problem for Dallas. Randy Gregory getting suspended for one season really exacerbated the problem. Tyrone Crawford and Demarcus Lawrence will hold down the defensive end positions, but the rest of the line could be a turnstile of tackles. The defensive line was able to be the best rush defense in football last season, but that was in large part due to the offense controlling the clock and getting leads, forcing opponents to pass.

 

Picks and Needs

The Cowboys have seven picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. With some solid picks, these players can help Dallas win a Super Bowl in the near future.

First round: (1) No. 28

Second round: (1) No. 60

Third round: (1) No. 92

Fourth round: (1) No. 133

Fifth round: (0)

Sixth round: (1) No. 211

Seventh round: (2) No. 228, No. 246

These needs are in no particular order.

Offensive Needs:

Wide Receiver- Terrance Williams isn’t a great number two receiver, but he is cheap.

Right Tackle- Doug Free retiring creates another need for the Cowboys. Chaz Green will be given a chance to play immediately, but an upgrade may be needed.
Tight End- Jason Witten needs a successor for when he retires, but the Cowboys could use a tight end for sets where they use two.
Defensive Needs:

Defensive Line- Any defensive linemen would be welcomed by Dallas. An edge rusher would be nice to cope with the loss of Gregory, though defensive tackle is the weaker of the positions on the line.

Cornerback- Nolan Carroll was signed, but with the losses of Carr and Claiborne, they need more.

Safety- Jeff Heath played well last season, but he is not a long term solution.

Targets and Thoughts

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

First Round:

Pick #28: Jabrill Peppers, S/LB/CB, Michigan

Jabrill Peppers (Photo courtesy: cbssports.com)

Peppers will likely fill in at strong safety, even though he can play multiple positions. He provides good value at pick number 28. With Byron Jones next to him, the Cowboys could have a great safety pairing for years. The downside to Peppers is that he lacks elite ball skills and he could be a “Tweener” who never finds a real position.

Second Round:

Pick #60: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE/DT, Villanova

Dallas needs to get some defensive linemen in this draft. Kpassagnon is seen as raw because he comes from the FCS level, but Kpassagnon has the size that the Cowboys will love. They can use him in multiple formations at different positions on the defensive line. He will help cope with the loss of Gregory for the year.

Third Round:

Pick #92: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida

Tabor has great tape, but has run terrible 40 times in preparation for the 2017 NFL Draft. The Cowboys need to get some corners in this draft class and could take a risk on Tabor in the third round. If his playing speed is faster than his workout speed, Dallas will get a steal.

 

Conclusion

If the Cowboys can address the defensive side of the ball properly in this draft, they could build a team that is great for years to come.

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

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

“From Our Haus to Yours”

Seattle Seahawks 2017 NFL Draft Profile

The Seattle Seahawks are up for day 24 of Draftmas.

Summary

Seattle had a good season, but ended up losing to the Falcons in the Divisional Round of the 2016 NFL Playoffs. Their 10-5-1 record was solid, but they do have some things to address in the draft to get back to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

Russell Wilson (Photo courtesy: Wikipedia.org)

The pass offense was good under Russell Wilson, ranking 10th in the league, but the Seahawks had one of the worst rushing attacks in the league. Wilson carried the offense to score 22.1 points per game.

Wilson is and will be the franchise quarterback for years to come. Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise are both solid running backs and Eddie Lacy was signed in hopes he regain the form he had early in his career. At wide receiver Doug Baldwin continues to play well and Paul Richardson has played decently in his first three years, while Tyler Lockett returns from injury. Jermaine Kearse had a bad season last year, but should be able to do well again this season. Wide receiver may be addressed in the draft, but like running back, they most likely won’t take a wide receiver until late in the draft. Jimmy Graham is a great tight end and Seattle has Luke Wilson backing him up.

Offensive line, like the past few years, is a big area of concern for the Seahawks. Luke Joekel was signed to give some experience at left tackle, but he hasn’t played up to the hype of being the number one overall pick. Oday Oboushi was signed to play guard, but he isn’t that great either. Basically at this point they could use all the help they can get. They do have a center that played well last season in Justin Britt, but that may have just been a flash in the pan.

Seattle, as it usually does, had a great defense last season that ranked eighth against the pass and seventh against the rush last season.

Earl Thomas needs to get healthy after breaking his tibia last season, but if he is healthy, he and Kam Chancellor are the best safety duo in the league. The trade rumors surrounding Richard Sherman make it necessary for the Seahawks to acquire a corner. Even if Sherman doesn’t get traded, Seattle still likely needs to draft a corner or two.

Another linebacker could be used for their base 4-3 defense, but do already have K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner. On the defensive line the Seahawks have a lot of versatile players, but could use a few more for depth.

Picks and Needs

The Seahawks have eight picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Five are in the first three rounds, so they will be able to get a few impact players for next season.

First round: (1) No. 26

Second round: (1) No. 58

Third round: (3) No. 90, No. 102, No. 106

Fourth round: (0)

Fifth round: (0)

Sixth round: (1) No. 210

Seventh round: (2) No. 226, No. 244

These needs are in no particular order.

Offensive Needs:

Guard- Mark Glowinski and Oday Oboushi should not be starting. At some point the Seahawks have to start protecting Russell Wilson.

Tackle- Luke Joekel was signed, but he isn’t a sure thing. Gary Gilliam needs to be upgraded.
 Defensive Needs:

Defensive Line- With some versatile players on the defensive line, the Seahawks need to take some players for depth, regardless of position.

Cornerback- Sherman is in trade rumors, but even if he stays, they need help at corner.

Linebacker- Just one linebacker is needed to play alongside Wright and Wagner.

Targets and Thoughts

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

First Round:

Pick #26: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Garett Bolles (Photo courtesy: denverpost.com)

Improving the offensive line has to be a top priority for the Seahawks. Bolles only has one year of starting experience at Utah, but has good mobility and flexibility for a tackle. He can play left tackle if Joekel fails, or start at right tackle.

Second Round:

Pick #58: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

Wilson is a tall corner, who has good speed. He is a good man to man cover corner, but is susceptible to pass interference calls. He doesn’t offer much in terms of run support and sometimes looks as if he doesn’t want to tackle anybody. The Seahawks will like his length and may think they can teach him their zone coverage scheme.

Third Round:

Pick #90: Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn

Adams can help the Seahawks by being a pass rusher from the defensive tackle position. This enables them to keep Michael Bennett on the outside. There are some questions with his motor, but Seattle will be able to get the most out of him.

Pick #102: Pat Elfein, OG/C, Ohio State

Elfein has experience at both guard and center at Ohio State and can be a good value pick in the third round to help out the offensive line immediately. This isn’t a great class for offensive linemen, but Elfein should be one of the few interior linemen able to have an impact at the NFL level.

Pick #106: Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida

Anzalone is a fast player that has experience playing outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. He can start in the base defense for the Seahawks and learn from Wright and Wagner. He will need to improve to stay on the field in more than just the base defense.

Conclusion

Seattle is a perennial power in the NFL and just needs a few more things to make their quest for another Super Bowl happen. With a good draft this season, they can shore up some holes and help bring the city another Lombardi Trophy.

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

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

“From Our Haus to Yours”

Houston Texans 2017 NFL Draft Profile

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picks and Needs

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

First round: (1) No. 25

Second round: (1) No. 57

Third round: (1) No. 89

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

Fifth round: (1) No. 169

Sixth round: (0)

Seventh round: (1) No. 243

These needs are in no particular order.

Offensive Needs:

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

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

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

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

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

Targets and Thoughts

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

First Round:

Pick #25: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Deshaun Watson (Photo courtesy: cbssports.com)

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


Second Round:

Pick #57: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova

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

Third Round:

Pick #89: Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

“From Our Haus to Yours”

Page 1 of 612345...Last »