2018 NFL Mock Draft 10/17/17

 

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

1. Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

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

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

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

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

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

4. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Calvin Ridley (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Tennessee Titans- Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

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

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

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

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

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

13. Arizona Cardinals- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Lamar Jackson (Photo by twitter.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18. Miami Dolphins- Iman Marshall, CB, USC

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

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

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

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

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

21. Washington Redskins- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Malik Jefferson (Photo by hornfm.com)

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

22. Seattle Seahawks- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

26. Carolina Panthers- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

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

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Jordan Thomas (Photo by youtube.com)

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

28. Minnesota Vikings- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

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

29. Pittsburgh Steelers- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

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

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

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

31. Philadelphia Eagles- Simmie Cobbs Jr., Indiana

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

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

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

 

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2018 NFL Mock Draft 10/9/17

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

1. Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

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

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

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Saquon Barkley (Photo by pennlive.com)

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

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

4. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

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

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

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

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

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

7. Arizona Cardinals- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

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

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

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

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

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

10. Tennessee Titans- Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Connor Williams (Photo by youtube.com)

11. Dallas Cowboys- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

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

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

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

13. Miami Dolphins- Iman Marshall, CB, USC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 NFL mock draft

Lamar Jackson (Photo by courier-journal.com)

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

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

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

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

20. Jacksonville Jaguars- Trey Adams, OT, Washington

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

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

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

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

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

23. Detroit Lions- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

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

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

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

2018 NFL mock draft

Orlando Brown (Photo by tulsaworld.com)

25. Seattle Seahawks- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29. Philadelphia Eagles- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

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

30. Carolina Panthers- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Cam Newton struggles

What happened to Cam Newton?

Cam Newton has not been the same player he was back in 2015 when he was the NFL MVP. The Panthers’ quarterback had a disappointing season last year following the MVP and Super Bowl appearance and looks even worse this season. What is going on with Cam?

Newton is coming back from shoulder surgery and didn’t have much time to get back in shape before the season, so that may have something to do with his slow start this year. Could it be that he does not have enough support around him? Maybe his MVP season was just a fluke?

Newton is now 28 years old and in his seventh season, so it is not like he is an inexperienced quarterback that still needs to develop. This is Newton’s prime. Is this as good as he will be?

Let’s take a look inside Newton’s numbers and the weapons he has had around him.

Newton’s numbers

Below is a chart with Newton’s stats from his first six seasons in the NFL. I left off his numbers this year since there have only been three games played.

Comp pass yds pass TD INT rush yds rush TD
2016 52.9 3,509 19 14 359 5
2015 (MVP) 59.8 3,837 35 10 636 10
2014 58.5 3,127 18 12 539 5
2013 61.7 3,379 24 13 585 6
2012 57.7 3,869 19 12 741 8
2011 60.0 4,051 21 17 706 14

As you study Newton’s numbers, you will notice a few things. The first thing that jumps out to me is his completion percentage. His most accurate season was just 61.7 percent. Nineteen starting quarterbacks topped that number last season, and 10 of them finished above 65 percent. Newton’s 52.9 completion percentage last year ranked 30th. Completing just over 50 percent of your passes is not good.

Cam Newton struggles

We saw a lot of dabs during Newton’s MVP season. (Photo by USATSI)

Another thing you will notice is that he has only topped 4,000 passing yards once. Newton accomplished that when he threw 4,051 in his rookie season. Newton has ranged from 3,100-3,800 ever since.

Last year, 13 quarterbacks topped 4,000 yards. In the season before that there were 12. The NFL is a passing league now and the quarterback play is showing it.

One thing I have always liked about Newton is that he doesn’t throw interceptions. He threw a career-high 17 in his rookie season, but has not thrown more than 14 since.

Let’s take a look at that MVP season. It is definitely Newton’s best season of his career. For starters, he had a career-high in touchdown passes and a career-low in interceptions. He had the Panthers sitting at 15-1 and took them to the Super Bowl where they lost to the Denver Broncos.

So far this season, Newton has completed 61 percent of his passes for 566 yards and has also thrown two touchdowns and four interceptions. Newton also has 46 yards on the ground and another score.

The bottom line is Newton’s numbers have never been fantastic. Could Newton possibly have been carried by his team all this time?

The supporting cast

Newton has definitely had talent all around him throughout his career. Let’s start by looking at his running game.

The Panthers’ rushing attack has always been one of the best in the league during Newton’s career. Since 2011 when he entered the NFL, Carolina has ranked third, ninth, 11th, seventh, second and 10th in total rushing yards.

Newton of course has been one of the main contributors to the team’s rushing yards. He has also had reliable running backs like DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to help take pressure off the passing game.

Cam Newton struggles

Newton has always been surrounded by talented teammates like Luke Kuechly. (Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire)

Now let’s take a look at Newton’s receivers. He has had guys like Steve Smith, Greg Olson, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn, Jericho Cotchery and Kelvin Benjamin. It is definitely not the most talented bunch. Yes Smith, Olson and Benjamin are big playmakers, but he hasn’t had the opportunity for all of them to be together at once in their primes.

During Newton’s MVP season, his top targets were Olson, Ginn, Cotchery and Devin Funchess. Olson was the only one of those guys to have more than 50 catches (77 to be exact). However, the Panthers ranked 27th in pass attempts that season, so that would explain why the receivers had such few catches.

Carolina’s offensive line has been pretty consistent through Newton’s time with the team. They have always ranked around the middle in terms of sacks and quarterback hits. Last season was probably the worst Newton’s line has been as they ranked 19th in sacks allowed and 18th in quarterback hits. That may have played a factor into why last season was also Newton’s worst season. The best it has been was during his MVP season when they ranked 11th in sacks allowed and third in quarterback hits.

Lastly, let’s look at Newton’s defenses. Carolina has almost always had a solid defense to back up Newton and get him and the offense back on the field quickly. In four of Newton’s first six seasons, they have ranked in the top 10 in total yards allowed. The two times they didn’t were Newton’s rookie season when they ranked 28th and lost 10 games and the other time was when they ranked 21st last season and lost 10 again. The team has definitely been at its best when the defense is top notch.

This tends to get overlooked, but a system and coaches can also make the difference with a quarterback’s development. Quarterbacks have a more difficult time when they have had multiple coaches and playbooks to work with.

In Carolina, Newton has had Ron Rivera as his head coach his whole career. He has had Mike Shula as his quarterback coach for his first two years and his offensive coordinator for the rest. Ken Dorsey took over as his quarterback coach once Shula got promoted and Rob Chudzinski was his offensive coordinator in his first two seasons. Not much has changed for Newton in terms of coaching.

What is Cam’s problem?

Cam might not have a problem per se. He has been mostly the same throughout his career. The biggest things that have hurt him are the fact he was the first overall pick and the fact he won MVP.

Cam Newton struggles

Newton’s numbers have been about the same his whole career. (Photo by Jeremy Brevard-US Presswire)

Expectations for Newton to perform have been sky high. If you take away his MVP season, Newton is mostly an average quarterback. He can get the job done as long as he has a great supporting cast around him. He can’t really put the team on his back like other star quarterbacks in the league. He needs that running game, offensive line and defense to carry him.

Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Kirk Cousins are all quarterbacks that have lead a team to the postseason without a top 10 defense or running game. Now of course Stafford, Cousins and Luck haven’t played in a Super Bowl and Rodgers has only won one. To win the big one you need that supporting cast. Newton just can’t get it done by himself.

That is okay too. There are many great quarterbacks in this league. Newton certainly isn’t one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s not my first choice, or even my tenth choice, but he’s definitely a starting quarterback. Newton is not the only good quarterback that needs his team to carry him.

As mentioned earlier, Newton is also recovering from injuries. Newton only threw two passes all preseason and focussed on resting his shoulder. He also twisted his ankle in their game against the Bills. Newton’s health is worth keeping an eye on.

 

Featured image by Jeff Siner/The Charlotte Observer

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Drafting the right quarterback in the NFL

According to CBSSports.com and a plethora of other mock drafts, the 2018 NFL Draft will produce at least three first-round quarterbacks. Sam Darnold of USC, Josh Rosen of UCLA and Josh Allen of Wyoming are all projected top 10 picks in the upcoming draft. Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph could also potentially be first rounders.

The projected number one pick, Sam Darold (SportingNews.com)

If the NFL Draft were today, Darnold would most likely go first overall to Cleveland, and Rosen would head to San Francisco at number two. Allen would then fall to the next team looking for a quarterback. This would most likely be the Jets.

So, how can we determine who will have the most success in the NFL? Is it based off numbers? Wins? Where they were born? Let’s take a quick look at these five college studs.

Depending on the conference you play in, as well as strength of schedule, certain players’ stats can be inflated. Because of this, we will be focusing on how much experience these players have had at the collegiate level, how accurate they are with the football, and how often they turn the ball over.

Sam Darnold- USC (SOPHOMORE) BORN IN CA

17 CAREER GAMES:

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 67.2%

PASSING ATTEMPTS: 512

INT’S PER GAME: .94

Josh Rosen- UCLA (JUNIOR) BORN IN CA

23 CAREER GAMES

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 61%

PASSING ATTEMPTS: 918

INT’S PER GAME: .87

Josh Allen- Wyoming (JUNIOR) BORN IN CA

20 CAREER GAMES

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 55.9%

PASSING ATTEMPTS: 494

INT’S PER GAME: .90

Lamar Jackson- Louisville (Junior) BORN IN FL

29 CAREER GAMES

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 57%

PASSING ATTEMPTS: 805

INT’S PER GAME: .69

Mason Rudolph- OKLAHOMA STATE (SENIOR) BORN IN SC

33 CAREER GAMES

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 62.9%

PASSING ATTEMPTS: 1093

INT’S PER GAME: .60

A lot goes into whether or not a quarterback will have success at the next level, but with three guys projected to be top 10 picks, it is important that we dive into the past numbers to attempt to predict what their careers could look like.

QUARTERBACKS OF THE LAST 14 SUPER BOWL WINNING TEAMS (COLLEGE STATS)

NAME YEARS IN COLLEGE COMPLETION PERCENTAGE ATTEMPTS INT’S PER GAME
TOM BRADY 4 61.9% 638 ATTEMPTS .59
PEYTON MANNING 4 62.5% 1381 ATTEMPTS .73
RUSSELL WILSON 4 60.9% 1489 ATTEMPTS .60
JOE FLACCO 3 63.2% 942 ATTEMPTS .54
ELI MANNING 4 60.8% 1363 ATTEMPTS .81
AARON RODGERS 4 (ONLY CAL STATS INCLUDED) 63.8% 665 ATTEMPTS .52
DREW BREES 4 61.1% 1678 ATTEMPTS 1.0
BEN ROETHLISBERGER 3 65.5% 1304 ATTEMPTS .89

What does this tell us? All of these Super Bowl winning quarterbacks went to school for at least three years. They all completed about 61 percent of their passes. These stars varied with the amount of turnovers per game in college, so people who fault Darnold for turning the ball over too much can relax. Especially when you observe that the great Drew Brees averaged an interception per game.

OTHER NOTABLE QB’S WHO HAVE WON AT LEAST 11 GAMES IN 3 OR MORE SEASONS (COLLEGE STATS)                                 

NAME YEARS IN COLLEGE COMPLETION PERCENTAGE PASSING ATTEMPTS INT’S PER GAME
ANDREW LUCK 3 67% 1064 .57
PHILIP RIVERS 3 63.6% 1710 .69
ALEX SMITH 4 66.3% 587 .32
MATT RYAN 4 59.9% 1347 .86

When you compare these NFL stars to the five college players, you can conclude that at least three have serious potential at the next level. Darold, Rosen and Rudolph are accurate with the football, and do not make any more mistakes than these pros did when they were in school. Jackson and Allen are, unfortunately, on the wrong end of the stick.

The experience factor is clearly massive when it comes to winning a championship in the NFL, or even succeeding for multiple seasons. Josh Rosen, Sam Darold and Josh Allen will each play less than 30 games in their college careers if they choose to enter the 2018 NFL Draft.

History has also told us that at least one of the top three quarterbacks selected in the draft will not perform up to expectations. Here is 10 years of data to back this up. In bold are the players who are widely considered “busts”.

2006-2015 FIRST THREE QUARTERBACKS SELECTED IN DRAFT

YEAR PLAYERS CURRENT STARTERS PICKED AFTER FIRST THREE QB’S (# QUARTBACK SELECTED)
2015 JAMEIS WINSTON

MARCUS MARIOTA

GARRETT GRAYSON

Trevor Siemian (7th)
2014 BLAKE BORTLES

JOHNNY MANZIEL

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER

Derek Carr (4th)

 

2013 EJ MANUEL

GENO SMITH

MIKE GLENNON

NONE
2012 ANDREW LUCK

ROBERT GRIFFIN III

RYAN TANNEHILL

Russell Wilson (6th)

Kirk Cousins (8th)

2011 CAM NEWTON

JAKE LOCKER

BLAINE GABBERT

Andy Dalton (5th)

Tyrod Taylor (11th)

2010 SAM BRADFORD

TIM TEBOW

JIMMY CLAUSEN

NONE
2009 MATTHEW STAFFORD

MARK SANCHEZ

JOSH FREEMAN

NONE
2008 MATT RYAN

JOE FLACCO

BRIAN BROHM

NONE
2007 JAMARCUS RUSSELL

BRADY QUINN

KEVIN KOLB

NONE
2006 VINCE YOUNG

MATT LEINART

JAY CUTLER

NONE

 

The eigth quarterback selected from his class, Kirk Cousins (Zimbio.com)

While history cannot tell us what will happen in the future, it sure can help us predict it. We also can see that talent can easily be overlooked. We all know about Tom Brady, and most recently Dak Prescott, two players who were heavily slept on, but don’t forget about guys like Kirk Cousins and Tyrod Taylor.

Cousins was the eighth quarterback selected in his class, and has shown he is a franchise quarterback, not just a franchise tag player. Taylor, the 11th quarterback selected in his class, has shown he is capable of being the guy in Buffalo.

 

Based off these names, let’s break down exactly how to tell if someone will be successful or struggle in the NFL.

Are they a Pocket Passer?

If you look at the Super Bowl champions and even the players who have found success in the regular season, you can see that they are pocket passers. There is usually one outlier, and for this particular argument, it would have to be Russell Wilson, who is not your typical stay in the pocket and throw type of quarterback. Wilson likes to move around, but has an incredibly gifted arm.

Unfortunately, mobile quarterbacks tend to not be the answer. E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, Robert Griffin III, Tim Tebow, Josh Freeman and Vince Young, were one of the first three quarterbacks selected in their draft class. They also all were mobile guys who relied heavily on their legs. Lamar Jackson falls into this category.

Also, stay away from lefties like Leinart and Tebow. Only two lefty quarterbacks in the history of the sport have won the Super Bowl: Ken Stabler and Steve Young.

Are they getting drafted into a good culture?

Culture absolutely matters. Jacoby Brissett is currently starting in the NFL because of how he looked on the Patriots, the most well-run organization in the NFL. Players like Johnny Manziel, Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden were destined to fail as soon as the Cleveland Browns selected them. Historically, the Browns have shown they do not know how to develop a quarterback, or even win games.

Trevor Siemian was the seventh quarterback taken in his draft class. Fortunately for him, he landed with the Denver Broncos, an extremely well run organization led by John Elway. Because of this, it is easier to find success, as he is off to a great start this year.

Sometimes, all it takes is a good coach to change the culture. Jared Goff looked like a bust under Jeff Fisher, but so does every quarterback that Fisher works with. Now with Sean McVay, people believe the Rams have a legit shot to win the NFC West. Pete Carroll took over the Seahawks and immediately turned Seattle into a winning franchise. This made it easier for Russell Wilson to slide into stardom. That, and a little help from the rest of the roster.

What does their roster look like?

Of course, you can’t win many games with a bad roster. The quarterback is usually the one to blame when a team starts losing, but it is all situational. If you are drafted into a bad roster, there is literally nothing you can do. Take Derek Carr for example. In his first season, Carr went 3-13. His leaders in targets that year? James Jones, Mychal Rivera and Andre Holmes. The next season, the Raiders gave him Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, and now they are a Super Bowl contending team.

Blaine Gabbert, who was selected by the Jaguars, was given Mike Thomas and Jason Hill to throw the ball to. When Notre Dame star Brady Quinn was named the starter for Cleveland, his leading running back was Jerome Harrison, and his most targeted receivers were Mohamad Massaquoi and Chansi Stuckey.

Jamarcus Russell took over a terrible Raiders team with no talent. (Zimbio.com)

It gets worse. When JaMarcus Russell took over in 2008, Oakland’s leading rusher was Justin Fargas. Their three most targeted recievers were Ronald Curry, Ashley Lelie and Johnnie Lee Higgins. And Colin Cowherd says Andrew Luck doesn’t have help around him?

On the other hand, certain players can be blessed by getting drafted into elite rosters. Dak Prescott was given one of the best offensive lines in football, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

The Bucs helped out Jameis by grabbing DeSean Jackson from free agency, to play along Mike Evans, one of the best receivers in the game. Marcus Mariota has two lethal running backs, and Tennessee also made serious upgrades to the wide receiver position.

In regards to this past draft, Deshaun Watson has inherited one of the best defenses in the league, and his NFL career is already off to a solid start. Patrick Mahomes has Andy Reid as his coach, who turned Alex Smith into an efficient stud. On the flip side, Mitchell Trubisky is stuck in Chicago, with a poor roster and a bad culture

Who will be the best?

Of course, we will have to wait until draft day to find out where these three stars end up. Darnold, Rosen and Allen are all from California, which is also the home of six other starting quarterbacks.

 

2017 Starting Quarterbacks by High School State

Cali- Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Derek Carr, Jared Goff (6)

Texas- Drew Brees, Josh McCown, Matthew Stafford, Andy Dalton, Case Keenum (5)

Ohio- Ben Roethlisberger, Brian Hoyer, Deshone Kizer (3)

Florida- Trevor Siemian, Jacoby Brissett, Blake Bortles (3)

Virginia- Russell Wilson, Tyrod Taylor, Mike Glennon (3)

Louisiana- Eli Manning, Dak Prescott (2)

Alabama- Philip Rivers, Jameis Winston (2)

Georgia- Cam Newton, Deshaun Watson (2)

Pennyslvania- Matt Ryan

Indiana- Jay Cutler

New Jersey- Joe Flacco

Hawaii- Marcus Mariota

North Dakota- Carson Wentz

Michigan- Kirk Cousins

 

So is Mason Rudolph at a disadvantage being from South Carolina? Keep in mind that Jimmy Clausen, and Mark Sanchez are from California, so it’s not like Rosen, Darnold, and Allen are locks to find success.

Who do you think will have the most success at the next level?  The less experienced Cali boys, the inaccurate Jackson and Allen, or the senior from South Carolina?

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Todd Gurley hot start

Can Todd Gurley keep up his hot start?

Todd Gurley had an amazing rookie campaign, rushing for 1106 yards and 10 touchdowns in only 13 games. He followed that up with a subpar sophomore year, with 885 yards and six touchdowns.

Now at the start of the 2017 season, Gurley is starting to look like his old self again with 241 yards and six total touchdowns in only three games. The question remains whether or not he can keep up his hot start.

Hot Start

Todd Gurley hot start

Courtesy of, www.univision.com

Gurley is off to the start that every fantasy owner was hoping he would have. He’s never been much of a receiving back so far in the NFL, but now that Jared Goff is improving his play, he looks to be more of a dual threat back than ever.

 

In three games to start the season, Gurley has 13 receptions for 140 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He’s only 48 yards away from matching his total from his rookie campaign. Those two receiving touchdowns are also his first receiving touchdowns that he’s ever had in the NFL. That shows his use in the red zone.

The red zone volume is there for Gurley, which is a positive sign. In three games so far, he has 12 rushes for 21 yards and all four of his touchdowns. The Rams have shown that their game plan revolves around a strong run game, and Gurley is the focal point of that run game.

Another positive sign for fantasy owners is the snap percentage that he has played so far. Gurley has played in 85 percent of the teams offensive snaps, giving him plenty of opportunity to touch the ball and succeed.

Outlook for the rest of the season

The offensive line, which was addressed in the offseason, has played a big role in the success of the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. The Rams’ offensive line has allowed Jared Goff to have a clean pocket while opening up running lanes for Gurley. The fact that the Rams can sustain a good passing attack with a lethal run game causes terror in opposing defenses.

Now I know that the defenses that the Rams have played don’t have the greatest defensive front. Gurley and the Rams will face a couple of tough defenses when they play the Seahawks, Jaguars, Cardinals and Giants in four consecutive games. Those games will be a real test for Gurley, and we’ll really see if his season is as legit as we think it is.

Now to answer the question I started the article off with: can Todd Gurley keep up his hot start? I have been on the Jared Goff train since he was drafted by the Rams. I said that if the Rams could get their passing game going, which they are doing now with Goff and Sammy Watkins, the run game would follow.

It’s interesting what a different one year makes. With the additions of Andrew Whitworth, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Watkins and the emerging play of Goff, Gurley can and should maintain his hot start to the season.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Cody Thompson NFL Draft

Cody Thompson hopes hard work can push him to the NFL

The Mid-American Conference, better known as the MAC, has been gaining respect in the college football world. The latest big win the conference got was last Saturday when Northern Illinois won at Nebraska 21-17. Ohio State and Wisconsin now are the only Big Ten teams not to go down to a MAC team this century.

The conference is also putting out more NFL talent. Former Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis was just drafted fifth overall by the Tennessee Titans in this year’s NFL Draft. Khalil Mack (Buffalo), Eric Fisher (Central Michigan), Joe Staley (Central Michigan) and Ben Roethlisberger (Miami) are all MAC products that were drafted in the first round. Other MAC talent includes Antonio Brown (Central Michigan), Julian Edelman (Kent State) and Doug Free (Northern Illinois).

One other MAC product is looking to get to the NFL. Toledo Rockets wide receiver Cody Thompson could very well be the next top NFL product to come from the MAC.

Thompson is currently leading the conference with 391 receiving yards and four touchdown catches. Last year he set the school record for receiving yards in a season with 1,269. He’s helped the Rockets to a 3-0 start to the season and they are heading to Miami for a big test with the Hurricanes. Things are looking bright for Thompson and the Rockets.

Thompson thinks the MAC is starting to get more recognition for their hard-working style of football.

“I definitely think the MAC is getting more respect,” Thompson said in an interview with The Game Haus. “I’ve always had respect for the MAC. It’s a great conference; competitive, hard-nosed gritty football. Everybody is going to give you their best day in and day out no matter what the team is.”

Early years and recruiting

Thompson started his high school football at Huron High School off with a bang. As a sophomore, he finished the year with 48 catches for 865 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Then things changed up a bit. Thompson’s quarterback graduated and the team was looking for a replacement. Thompson’s coach decided to move him to quarterback and see what he could do.

Cody Thompson NFL Draft

The Rockets were the only Division I offer Thompson got, and he has not disappointed. (Photo by Andy Morrison/The Toledo Blade)

Thompson didn’t disappoint. In his first year at quarterback he threw for 1,574 passing yards and 22 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,001 yards and 14 more touchdowns. He followed up his senior year with even better numbers, throwing for 1,883 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushing for 1,139 yards and 22 more scores.

Thompson had fun playing quarterback, but his heart has always been at the receiver position.

“I enjoyed quarterback, but I knew I had a passion and love for receiver,” Thompson said. “So when it came to the recruiting process I went to all my camps and everything as a receiver or an athlete. Then when I got the opportunity at Toledo, I moved to receiver. I was excited to get back to receiver.”

Thompson said switching back to receiver wasn’t a problem despite playing two years of quarterback. He said the upperclassmen on the team helped make the transition easier.

“It was pretty smooth and I’m happy with it,” he said. “I love the position I’m at now and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

When it came to recruiting, Thompson didn’t get that much attention from the Division I scene. Toledo was the only offer Thompson received. Head coach Matt Campbell (currently at Iowa State) liked what he saw in Thompson and offered him a spot on the team.

Thompson said joining the Rockets has been his greatest football-related memory to date.

“I was beyond happy and excited and kind of at a loss for words,” Thompson said. “At that moment I knew they gave me a shot and I was going to take it and commit here, and that’s what I did and I ran with it.”

Rocket life

Thompson started off slow as most freshmen do. He caught just four passes for 34 yards in his first year as a Rocket. Most of his snaps came on special teams. It wasn’t until his sophomore year that he started to make an impact on offense.

Cody Thompson NFL Draft

Thompson has been a playmaker since he first got a shot as a sophomore. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)

In his sophomore season, Thompson led the Rockets in receiving yards with 825 on 37 catches, five being touchdowns. Toledo finished 10-2 that season with big wins over No. 18 Arkansas, Iowa State and No. 24 Temple in the Boca Raton Bowl. Thompson had four catches for 119 yards and a touchdown in the bowl game.

Thompson continued to get better in his junior year. The Rockets finished 9-4, although they lost in the Media Camellia Bowl against Appalachian State. But Thompson’s numbers got even better. Thompson got a school-record 1,269 receiving yards off of 64 catches and scored 11 touchdowns.

Thompson is in his senior year now and dominating the field so far. He leads the MAC conference in yards (391) and touchdown catches (four). Thompson and the Rockets have a big test Saturday against the Miami Hurricanes, who are currently ranked 14th. You can catch that game on the ACC network to watch Thompson showcase his skills.

NFL Draft

Thompson’s hard work is paying off and has captured the attention of sites like Sports Illustrated. He was also put on the NCAA’s Biletnikoff Award watch list at the beginning of the season.

Thompson now has a legit shot at the NFL. The MAC’s leading receivers for the last decade have all had stints in the NFL. Some sites like Hero Sports think Thompson could get picked as high as the third round. Depending on how well Thompson plays this season, it could be even higher.

Thompson believes NFL teams will like his intelligence and work ethic.

Cody Thompson NFL Draft

Thompson has gained college football’s attention with his hard work, intelligence and talent. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)

“I’m still a pretty smart football player when it comes to football IQ, understanding the game coverages and defenses and how we gameplan and study and why we’re doing certain things,” Thompson said. “I also think I’m pretty good at tracking the ball, blocking on the perimeter, really just being a hard-nosed gritty person.”

Thompson also understands that his game has room for improvement. He believes every player has aspects of their game that can get better.

For me that is a quicker burst off the line, creating more separation at the top of my route, really every aspect of my game has room to improve on,” he said. 

Thompson’s former teammate Kareem Hunt has been the latest product from the MAC to make noise in the NFL. Hunt has already set the record for most yards from scrimmage by a player in their first game. Thompson said watching Hunt has served as motivation for him to get better and get to the next level.

It’s been amazing,” Thompson said. “Something I know he’s dreamed of his entire life and now he’s got the opportunity to do it. He’s really taken it and ran with it. What he’s done so far is just a testament to the player he is and the person he is.”

The NFL is also something Thompson has dreamed about. Right now he is focussed on working hard and finishing his time at Toledo strong.

Playing in the NFL has been a dream of mine since I was little and couldn’t even pick up a football,” Thompson said. “Ultimate goal right now is to win a championship and have the best possible senior year I can and this team can. I want to chase that with everything I have and make the most out of every opportunity.”

Thompson has been working hard his whole life to get where he is and doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon. Any team that gives him a shot in the NFL won’t regret it. Thompson is the type of player that goes 100 miles an hour at all times and isn’t going to let anybody get an edge on him.

I’m always going to play and practice and compete as if i’m fighting for my spot still,” Thompson said. “I don’t think I’ve lost any complacency. It’s something that will get you beat or get your job taken from you. I don’t want to be complacent with anything.”

 

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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.

 

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2017 AFC South division preview

2017 AFC South division preview

The NFL regular season is fast approaching. The season opener is just one day away and the Chiefs and Patriots will be kicking off the 2017-18 NFL season. In the meantime, Hagan’s Haus will be bringing you the divisional previews and predictions of how teams will finish in their respective divisions. Without further ado, here is the 2017 AFC South division preview.

4: Jacksonville Jaguars

Last season: 3-13

Strength of schedule: 30

Cleveland is the one organization that gets joked about the most in terms of putrid franchises but Jacksonville is arguably just as pathetic. The Jaguars have picked in the top five of the NFL Draft for six years running, which is an NFL record. It is safe to assume the Jaguars will finish fourth in this division given this tragic recent history.

Jacksonville has not won more than eight games in a season since 2007. Over these past nine seasons, they have averaged just 4.6 wins per year. The prediction will be somewhere right around that number until they can prove to win more or until they find a quarterback that is actually decent.

2017 AFC South division preview

(Photo Credit: Bob Mack/The Florida Times-Union via AP)

The Jaguars offense has been abysmal. Jacksonville only managed to score 19.9 points per game last season. This stems from the lack of a two-dimensional offense. The Jags are always behind the chains, making life much more difficult for Bortles. Jacksonville drafted Leonard Fournette to fix its 22nd ranked rushing attack.

An improved rushing attack could improve their 35.3 percent third down conversion percentage. Running the ball efficiently will lead to shorter third downs which theoretically should lead to more points. This is the formula for success because it takes the ball out of Blake Bortles’ hands.

A better offense can help the Jaguars under the radar defense look even better. Although the Jaguars defense gave up 25 points per game, they ranked sixth in yards allowed at 321.7 per game. The offense kept turning over the ball and putting the Jags’ defense in short fields.

Jacksonville also acquired A.J. Bouye and Barry Church, both are upgrades over the departed defensive backs John Cyprien and Prince Amukamara to improve their defense. Their secondary will likely improve on the 215.2 yards per game they gave up last season due to these additions.

It seems like the Jaguars have made the right moves to be a better team but they do not have history on their side. They also stink at home and defending homefield is crucial. In the past four years, the Jaguars are 9-29 at home. Playing in such a humid and hot climate should provide a better homefield advantage. Because of history, Blake Bortles or Chad Henne, the Titans and Texans, are all reasons the Jaguars draft in the top 10.

Prediction: 5-11 (2-4), miss the playoffs

Losses: @Hou, Ten, @NYJ, @Pit, @Ind, Cin, @Cle, @Ari, Sea, @SF, @Ten

3: Indianapolis Colts

Last season: 8-8

Strength of schedule: 30

The Indianapolis Colts only have one thing going for them and that is Andrew Luck. The problem is he will be out the first week of the season and possibly longer. Without Luck, the Colts are going to struggle and would be bottom feeders over the course of a 16-game season. Andrew Luck has been stellar in his career throwing for 19,078 yards, 132 touchdowns and just 68 interceptions.

2017 AFC South division preview

(Photo Credit: http://rotoprofessor.com/football/?p=9227)

His weapons at receiver are T.Y. Hilton, who had a career high in receptions (91) and yards (1,448) last season and Donte Moncrief. These two receivers have tons of talent but will falter if Luck is unavailable. Aside from the wideouts, Jack Doyle will be the go to tight end. These options are all solid but the Colts must try and run the ball more or these players will be useless.

The Colts are too predictable. They only ran the ball 39 percent of the time for 101.8 yards per game. Frank Gore is 34 years old and his best days are far behind him. Indianapolis is hoping Marlon Mack can become the feature back as this season rolls forward. There are no signs that the Colts will run the ball more or efficiently this season and that will hold their offense back and in turn, the rest of the team as well.

Defensively, there has been a change in the scheme in an attempt to fix a defense that ranked 22nd in points allowed. They also ranked 27th against the pass giving up 269.2 yards per game. The rush defense wasn’t much better as they ranked 25th against the run allowing 120.4 yards per game. The unit as a whole must improve if the Colts are to have a shot at making the playoffs.

There have been no moves that indicate this defense will show improvement. The Colts have an easy schedule and Andrew Luck, but aside from that, there is little to look forward to from this team this upcoming season. Indianapolis will struggle and this time next year the Colts will have a new head coach.

Prediction: 6-10 (3-3), miss the playoffs

Losses: @LAR, @Sea, @Ten, @Cin, @Hou, Pit, @Jax, @Buf, Den, @Bal 

2: Houston Texans

Last season: 9-7

Strength of schedule: 25

Here is something you have probably heard before: The Texans have had three straight 9-7 seasons. That won’t happen this season though as the Texans continue to struggle in their pursuit of finding their franchise quarterback. The weakness of the Texans has consistently been their offense and it will continue to haunt them this season.

Houston only had a successful run game and without it, the entire offense would have been one of the worst the NFL had ever seen. Houston ran for an average of 116.2 yards per game on 28.5 attempts per game. Lamar Miller had 1,073 yards and five touchdowns on just 268 carries. Miller is going to be a workhorse as Tom Savage lines up under center.

2017 AFC South division preview

(Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite the successful rushing attack, the fact of the matter is that the Texans’ offense ranked at the bottom of most offensive categories including points per game (17.4, ranking 29th), points per game in the first half (7.6, ranking 32nd), yards per game (314.7, ranking 29th), third down conversions (37.3 percent, ranking 22nd) and passing yards (198.5, ranking 29th). Every bad play this offense has in 2017 will have the fans clamoring for Deshaun Watson. That much distraction is going to take a toll on the team.

As mentioned previously, the Texans are led by their fantastic defense. Houston ranked 11th in scoring defense 20.5 points per game but first in yards allowed at just 301.3 yards per game. The Texans were led by their pass defense which ranked second allowing 201.6 yards per game. This may slip a bit with the loss of A.J. Bouye but as crazy as it sounds the secondary can improve even more with the return of J.J. Watt.

Watt paired with Jadeveon Clowney will create tons of mismatches. They will be completely unblockable causing teams to dump the ball off quickly so that the secondary won’t have to cover for too long. Whitney Mercilius, Brian Cushing and Bernardrick McKinney are great linebackers who will continue to light up opposing offenses making the Texans defense one of the top five yet again.

Houston is in the same situation it has been in recently. The offense is going to falter while the defense remains Super Bowl worthy. A bad offense and the rise of the Titans will cause the downfall of Houston.

Prediction: 8-8 (3-3), wildcard candidate

Losses: @NE, @Sea, @LAR, @Bal, @Ten, @Jax, Pit, @Ind

1: Tennessee Titans

2017 AFC South division preview

(Photo Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qijh_Au8B0)

Last season: 9-7

Strength of schedule: 30

Tennessee is the darkhorse team to watch this season. Marcus Mariota is entering his third season and the organization has done well to build around him. There were flashes of greatness from this team last season and they might have made the playoffs had Mariota not broken his leg in the second to last game. This season they take that next step and win the division.

Tennessee ranked third in the NFL with 136.7 yards per game on the ground to lead the offense. DeMarco Murray led the way in the rushing attack averaging 80.4 yards per game. His counterpart, Derrick Henry averaged just 32.7 yards per game. That number should increase this year and this will be one of the best backfields in the entire league.

This top rushing attack is going to help take pressure off of Mariota and the passing game. Marcus Mariota has been phenomenal in his short career already. Mariota has completed 61.6 percent of his passes while throwing for 6,244 yards, 45 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions. He has shown to be a great decision maker already in his career. Mariota converted at the third-best rate in the NFL on third down last year. He has also never thrown a red zone interception in his career.

Mariota accomplished all of this with Delanie Walker being his leading receiver. The Titans drafted Corey Davis and signed Eric Decker to address this issue. Mariota will have legitimate receivers to sling the ball to, making the offense impossible to predict or defend. These two additions may seem small but will make all the difference on the offensive side of the ball.

For all the Titans have going for them on offense, it is their defense that makes this team a possible Super Bowl contender. Tennesse gave up 23.6 points per game which is actually impressive considering the slow starts they were accustomed to. The Titans ranked 29th in first quarter points allowed.

Tennessee’s’ horrible secondary last season has also been improved upon as they drafted cornerback Adoree Jackson and signed defensive backs Logan Ryan and John Cyprien. The additions of these three players can help the Titans catch up to their superb rush defense which ranked second in the NFL, allowing 88.3 yards per game.

The secondary is much improved and Mariota has finally been blessed with some receiving threats. Pair that with a weak division and the third easiest schedule in the NFL means that the Tennessee Titans will finish the season as AFC South champions.

Prediction: 11-5 (4-2), division champion

Losses: Oak, Sea, @Hou, @Pit, @Ind

 

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Featured image https://calvinayre.com/2014/08/06/sports/afc-south-preview/

Is Ty Montgomery a reliable fantasy football running back?

Is Ty Montgomery a reliable fantasy football running back?

Everybody knows that the Packers have a high powered, pass first offense in the NFL today. The one thing the team has struggled to find in recent memory is a consistent, quality running back. Last season Ty Montgomery made the switch from wide receiver to running back, something that doesn’t happen often in the NFL.

Last season was a good sign for Packer fans in terms of Ty Montgomery. He had 457 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns while staying active in the receiving game with 348 receiving yards. Ty Montgomery was a very efficient running back last season. He had 5.9 yards per carry and ranked sixth in the NFL with 6.7 yards per touch. Montgomery became one of the leagues best dual threat running backs in a short amount of time, but the question is can he carry that into this season and be a reliable fantasy football player. Montgomery will have some competition as the Packers drafted three running backs in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Ty Montgomery has his opportunity in front of him to be a feature back, but recent camp and preseason struggles are affecting his opportunity. In the first preseason game, all of the Green Bay running backs struggled, but Montgomery might’ve had the worst night. He had three carries for a total of zero yards and he lost a fumble while catching his only target for eight yards. Now it’s time to analyze Montgomery’s value in both standard and PPR leagues.

Is Ty Montgomery a reliable fantasy football running back?

http://www.packers.com/

Standard Leagues- Montgomery is an interesting pick in standard leagues this year. His current ADP in standard leagues is around the eighth pick of the third round. That’s a little early to draft a running back playing alongside the best quarterback in the NFL. Montgomery is being drafted ahead of players such as Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon and Carlos Hyde. Currently the 17th running back off the board, Montgomery is being drafted as a RB2 while he’s more likely to put up RB3 numbers in Green Bay.

Standard leagues don’t bode well for Montgomery. He won’t get as many points as he’s capable of. With the other running backs on the Packers’ roster, Montgomery can have some of his carries taken away and won’t evolve into a true three down back. Mike McCarthy has told the media that Ty Montgomery should have his carries doubled from last season meaning he’ll have around 150 rushing attempts, not RB2 worthy for a 10-12 team standard league. Don’t pull the trigger on Montgomery in the third round of standard fantasy football drafts.

PPR- PPR is a different story for Ty Montgomery. Dual Threat backs thrive in PPR leagues. Just look at Danny Woodhead and his production when he plays a full season. Montgomery had 44 receptions last season and those numbers should only increase. Even in a half point PPR league, Montgomery is a very valuable running back. There are still concerns revolving around the other running backs on the roster but PPR is a different story. His ADP stays consistent between standard and PPR leagues, as Montgomery is being drafted as the 15th overall running back which is a high RB2. I still believe Montgomery is overvalued at that ADP. He isn’t a lock to keep his starting job and a third round pick is a big risk to take.

All in all Montgomery is a tough sell for fantasy owners but the faith that Coach McCarthy has in Ty Montgomery and his stats from last season make me believe that he will be a RB2 in PPR leagues. Draft him in the fifth or later in standard leagues and he’s a solid fourth rounder in PPR.

Feature image courtesy of https://cdn-s3.si.com

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Five 2017 bounce back candidates for fantasy football

There’s always those players in fantasy football that you draft early and have high hopes for that end up costing your team a shot at the playoffs and maybe even the championship. The players on this list are some examples of those players and have a chance to bounce back and actually lead your team in the right direction this year.

5. Allen Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars): In his second year in the league, Allen Robinson had himself a career year. He had 1,400 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

bounce back candidates fantasy football

(Jim Steve-USA TODAY Sports)

Let’s just say that Robinson didn’t put up the same numbers last year. Instead of WR1 numbers, Robinson put up WR3 numbers while begin drafted as a WR1. He had 883 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Most of that decrease in play had to do with the horrid play of quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles had 500 less throwing yards and 12 less touchdowns than 2015. When Blake Bortles was a QB1, Robinson was A WR1.

With the addition of Leonard Fournette, the Jags are going to have a more balanced offense and there’s no where to go but up for Robinson. If the offense clicks, Robinsons could be a WR1 again.

4. Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams): Talk about a sophomore slump. Todd Gurley was amazing in his rookie year with 1,106 yards and ten touchdowns. With an increased workload last season, Gurley’s numbers decreased to 885 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

Defenses adapted and crowded the box against Gurley. He couldn’t adapt to that and his numbers changed drastically. Now Gurley is in line for a big year in L.A. While the Rams added some muscle on their offensive line, with players like Andrew Whitworth, the improved quarterback play is the key for Gurley’s success.

If Jared Goff can breakout and preform like the number one overall pick he is, then Gurley will have a great year.

3. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers): From the QB1 in fantasy to the QB18, Cam Newton had himself a down year. It might’ve been because he played with a torn rotator cuff or because of the horrid play of his offensive line.

The Panthers addressed that in the offseason but we don’t know how it’s going to play out. The big contract they gave Matt Kalil may give them nightmares one day but he’s definitely an upgrade from last year. They also drafted the monstrous Taylor Moton who can give them some balance and depth on the o-line.

In terms of his weapons, Cam Newton gained Curtis Samuel and college stud Christian McCaffrey. Samuel and McCaffrey will give the opposing defenses tough matchups and give the Panthers opportunities to protect Cam and give him more options. If the offensive line holds up, Cam can be the QB1 again.

2. C.J. Anderson (Denver Broncos): C.J. Anderson has a chance to be a RB2 in Denver this year. He’s stated that he’s in the best shape he has been in this past offseason and that he’s ready to play all 16 games after his season got cut short from a torn meniscus.

The Broncos’ backfield is wide open and whoever gets the ball has an opportunity to succeed after offseason improvements in Denver.

bounce back candidates fantasy football

Brandon Marshall (Photo by:giants.com)

Let’s not forget that Anderson has 4.55 yards per carry over the last three years and can handle a workhorse load. If all goes well for C.J. Anderson, he can regain status as a RB2.

1. Brandon Marshall (New York Giants): From one New York team to the next, Brandon Marshall finds himself in the best position to succeed in the NFL today. Playing alongside Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning, Marshall has the opportunity for double digit touchdowns and 900+ yards this year.

There’s not much to talk about in terms of Marshall’s play from last year because of the terrible situation he had with the Jets. We can only address his upside for the 2017 season.

Manning is the best quarterback that Marshall has ever had but don’t expect him to put up exact numbers as his career year in 2015. Sterling Shepard will take away receptions and yards from Marshall and Odell is still the clear number one, but Marshall can easily regain WR2 numbers this year.

Feature Image Courtesy of, blogs.buffalobills.com

 

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