Super Bowl series 2017: NFC South

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC South

Football is right around the corner and The Game Haus is going to get you ready for the 2017-18 NFL season. The Super Bowl series is going to explain how every team in the NFL can win Super Bowl LII. The Super Bowl series will be divided into eight editions, one for each division. This is the fifth edition, Super Bowl series: NFC South.

Atlanta Falcons

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC South

(Photo credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Falcons are going to have to bounce back from one of the worst Super Bowl collapses of all time. After finishing the season 11-5, the Falcons marched through the playoffs with ease. They beat the Seahawks by 16 and the Packers by 23 to earn the crown of NFC Champions.

Atlanta then blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. In order to win Super Bowl LII, the Falcons must avoid one of the worst hangovers ever.

The key to the Falcons’ success last season was their offense. Getting back to the Super Bowl will require their offense to repeat last year’s performance. The Falcons ranked first in all of the following categories: points per game (34.1), points per play (0.55), points per second quarter (11.1), points per third quarter (8.5) and points per first half (18.9).

The reason their offense was so great was due to balance in yardage. Atlanta ranked second in yards per game with 416.4. The Falcons were second in passing yards per game (298.9) and fifth in rushing yards per game (117.5). Atlanta only ran the ball 42 percent of the time and in order to return to the big game, the Falcons should get their play selection closer to 50-50.

Their two-headed monster in the backfield, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman, will continue to take pressure off of Matt Ryan. Julio Jones will also continue to dominate defensive backs. Offensively, the Falcons shouldn’t be too concerned and their defense is where this team will really need to pick it up to make a return to the Super Bowl.

Atlanta’s defense got off to a slow start last season and finished 27th in points allowed per game with 25.3. That improved to just 20.3 points allowed per game in their final three games which ranked 10th during that time. If the Falcons can duplicate that final stretch over the course of the entire season, then the Falcons could easily become the best team in the NFL.

Bringing down that 25.3 points per game total begins with being better in the fourth quarter. In the final period of games, the Falcons gave up an average of 9.9 points, which was 31st in the NFL.

It isn’t difficult to see why the Falcons were so bad defensively in the fourth quarter. They played an average of 66.8 snaps per game. That was fourth-most in the league. The biggest reason they were on the field for so many plays was that the Falcons struggled to get off the field on third down as they allowed teams to convert 42.2 percent of the time.

The Falcons defense must improve against the pass in order to fix all of these problems. Giving up 272.9 yards passing per game is not a formula for success.

In order to make it back to the Super Bowl, the Falcons defense must improve and become a middle of the pack defense. Signing Dontari Poe should provide some help up front. Their offense is so good that the defense doesn’t have to be anything more than average.

If the Falcons are able to duplicate last season’s offensive numbers and become an average defense, they will easily get back to the Super Bowl.

Getting back is one story, winning it is another. If the Falcons do make it back, they need better play calling. Being up 28-3 in a Super Bowl should guarantee a victory. Atlanta must learn from their previous mistakes and run the ball more. If they avoid the hangover and do this, the Falcons will redeem one of the worst choke jobs ever and win the franchise’s first-ever Lombardi Trophy.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC South

(Photo Credit: http://www.tampabay.com)

Tampa Bay was very close to making the playoffs last season, finishing 9-7. The Bucs were a middle of the pack team both offensively and defensively and if they want to take the next step to make the playoffs, they must improve on both sides.

Defensively, Tampa Bay struggled in both pass and run defense. They ranked 22nd in both categories giving up 117.2 rushing yards per game and 250.8 yards per game through the air. Tampa Bay acquired defensive tackle Chris Baker to help them up front alongside Gerald McCoy. Defensive end Noah Spence tallied 5.5 sacks as a rookie and with an expanded role, should provide more pressure off the edge this season.

To help the struggling secondary, the Bucs acquired safety, J.J. Wilcox. Vernon Hargraves will need to have a big second season in order for the Buccaneers to improve defensively as well.

The defense has made changes but they won’t likely make a huge improvement. They gave up 25.3 points per game last season with 12 points per game coming in the first half. The offense is going to need to be on the field often to help this defense bring down a number of points they gave up.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Bucs have lots of room for growth. Tampa Bay averaged 22.1 points per game last season.

The strength of their offense was in the passing game. Tampa averaged 245.4 yards per game and Winston improved in a lot of areas. He improved his completion percentage by 2.5 percent, had 48 more yards and six more passing touchdowns. The addition of DeSean Jackson and drafting tight end O.J. Howard could allow Winston to make a bigger leap in his third season.

The running game must also improve on its 101 yards per game. In five seasons, Doug Martin has only played a full 16 game season twice. In both years, he ran for over 1,400 yards. With the growth of Winston and Martin staying healthy, the Buccaneers could become a top 10 offense in the NFL.

In order to make the playoffs and win Super Bowl LII, the offense needs to carry this team. They also need to start defending their home field. Since 2009, the Buccaneers are 21-42 at home and went 4-4 last season. Tampa has to win at least six games at home this season. If the Bucs defense can be average and the offense moves into the top 10, then the Buccaneers can win Super Bowl LII.

New Orleans Saints

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC South

(Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org

The Saints went marching into free agency and got the best running back of this generation. New Orleans’ offense was one of the best in the NFL last season and they added Adrian Peterson. The Saints needed a lot of help on defense and did well to address that in free agency and the draft as well. They’ve set themselves up nicely for a run to the Super Bowl.

New Orleans has been held back by its defense over the past couple of seasons. Last year they were awful, giving up the second-most points at 28.4 per game. They struggled closing out halves giving up 11.3 points in the second quarter and 7.2 points in the fourth quarter per game.

What makes the Saints defense even worse is that despite only playing the 11th least amount of plays per game (63) they ranked 14th in rushing yards (101.6) and 31st in passing yards (273.8). New Orleans didn’t spend much time on the field defensively but got torched during that time.

Their biggest area of concern was getting off the field on third down. Opposing offenses converted 43 percent of their third downs against the Saints.

In order to get back to the Super Bowl, the Saints must improve in all areas defensively. New Orleans added linebackers A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o to provide this help. They also drafted cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Marcus Williams to deepen the secondary. These additions should go a long way in restoring the defense in New Orleans and get them back to the playoffs.

As mentioned earlier, the Saints had an unbelievable offense last season. They scored the second-most points in the NFL with 29.3 per game. The bulk of that scoring came in the second half. New Orleans averaged 15.2 points in the second half last season, ranking first in the NFL. The Saints were first in yards per game (426), first downs per game (24.7) and passing yards per game (317.1).

Trading Brandin Cooks was OK because of the stellar rookie season Michael Thomas had. The rookie had 92 receptions, 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns emerging as Drew Brees’ favorite weapon. The addition of Ted Ginn will help replace Cooks but Brees has made a career of turning receivers into stars. The passing game will not suffer from the loss of Cooks.

The offense just needs to continue doing what they have been doing. They already help keep the defense off the field by holding the ball for an average of 31 minutes per game. The Saints offense also averaged 108.9 yards rushing last season. They can’t do much more to help the team win.

All of New Orleans’ hopes and dreams rest on the defense. Drew Brees and the rest of this offense have carried the team on their shoulders for far too long. If the defense can improve just a little bit, then the Saints can become Super Bowl contenders.

Carolina Panthers

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC South

(Photo Credit: http://www.espn.com)

Cam Newton and the Panthers had a major Super Bowl hangover last season. They went from 15-1 to 6-10 and looked like a completely different team. With Cam Newton on your team, you always have a shot to make it to the Super Bowl again. It won’t take much for the Panthers to capture the magic they had in 2015.

The Panthers averaged 343.7 yards per game which were a 24-yard dropoff from 2015. They also went from rushing for 141.9 yards per game to 113.4 yards per game. In order for the Panthers to get to the Super Bowl, they must get back to the numbers they put up in 2015.

Carolina averaged 23.1 points per game and they were pretty consistent putting up points throughout the course of the game. The Panthers scored an average of 12 points in the first half and 11.1 points in the second half. They could improve on their scoring if they improve their third down conversion rate of 37 percent.

The Panthers must begin to run more like they did in 2015 in order to get back to the big game. They called a running play only 43 percent of the time. Along with this, the Panthers must cash out in the red zone. Carolina only scored on 59 percent of their red zone trips. Improving in these areas can turn the Panthers back into an elite team.

On the defensive side of the ball, it starts with the secondary. The Panthers ranked 28th in passing, giving up 268.2 yards per game. The defense also went from giving up 19.5 points per game in 2015 to 25.1 points per game last season. Part of the problem was the amount of time the Panthers spent of the field. Carolina ranked 22nd in plays with 64.7 per game. This caused them to give up the most fourth quarter points in the NFL last season at 10.7.

Stopping the pass and giving up fewer points will go a long way in making the Panthers Super Bowl contenders again. Offensively, the addition of Matt Kalil, Christian McCaffery and Curtis Samuel will help Cam Newton become an MVP candidate once again. If the Panthers mirror the team they were in 2015, then not only will they get back to the Super Bowl, but this time they will win it.

 

Thank you for checking out the Super Bowl Series: NFC South. Stay tuned the remaining editions of Super Bowl series and check out the previous editions of the Super Bowl series here.

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Jameis Winston on the Rise

Jameis Winston on the rise in fantasy

Jameis Winston had an average fantasy season in 2016. He ranked outside of the top 12 on a per game basis but finished 10th in overall fantasy points at the quarterback position. He was, however, able to score at least 20 fantasy points in nine of his 16 games played and failed to post at least 15 fantasy points just once. Winston had 21.2 fantasy points per game that ranked 14th among QB’s. This was better then Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Derek Carr who were all drafted higher then him. Jameis Winston is on the rise and poised to have a breakout 2017 fantasy football season. He is in route to being a top quarterback this year and you don’t want to miss it.

Winston should be expected to have a great season in large part due to the plethora of weapons he has. The Buccaneers signed wide receiver DeSean Jackson, drafted tight end O.J. Howard and they still have wide receiver Mike Evans and tight end Cameron Brate. This creates more opportunities as Winston is expected to have more designed roll-out plays called for him in 2017, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

Jameis on the Rise

DeSean Jackson (Photo by: thefantasygreek.com)

Winston will have a deep threat to work with this season in Jackson. Last season Winston ranked towards the bottom in 40+ yard completions.  Jackson has proven he is one of the best deep threat receivers in the NFL, having five catches of 40+ yards that ranked seventh in the category. In fact, three of his four touchdowns came off from 40+ yard catches. With Jackson on the field, safeties will be forced to play a little deeper to respect his speed. This will open up the field for Winston to hit his underneath receivers.

The signing of Jackson doesn’t only help Winston, it also helps Evans. With Jackson’s speed making safeties play deeper, it will be more difficult to roll coverage in Evans’ direction. That will result in a lot more man-to-man coverages for Evans which he the size, speed and soft hands to take advantage of.

Winston will also have two tight ends to throw to. We have seen a quarterback by the name of Tom Brady excel with two reliable tight ends . Winston loved throwing to Brate last year as he was the second leading receiver on his team. Brate also led the league in touchdowns for tight ends and was second among receiving touchdowns inside of the 20-yard line.

O.J. Howard (Photo by: mmqb.si.com)

Winston will also have first round draft pick Howard to go along with Brate. Howard, from Alabama, could struggle early but he is still a weapon that defenses will have to respect. He can also be a valuable deep threat option along with Jackson. At Alabama three of his seven career touchdowns were from 40+ yards with two of them coming against Clemson in the National Championship game in 2015. Howard can be a game changer tight end the Winston can rely on especially a big target in the red zone.

Last but not least, the running game in Tampa is finally healthy. All of the moving parts in the backfield from last year have created a deeper, more confident stable of runners that offer multiple pass-catching options for Winston. This will help Winston from having to force the ball down field which led to 18 interceptions. Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers will be the primary pass-catchers out of the backfield and Doug Martin will pound the ball taking some of the pressure off Winston (after finishing is PED suspension).

Winston may not be a top five quarterback but he is a quarterback you should be targeting after the top players at the position are gone. He will rarely lose you a week as Tampa’s offense is built around him. Winston looks to be ranked between the 10th to 12th quarterback and thus won’t be drafted high. He could be the steal of your fantasy draft at quarterback as people aren’t quite sold on him yet. He enter as a high-end QB2 in most leagues but has the potential to be a QB1 as the season progresses.

 

Featured image from nytimes.com

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NFL Field

Fun With Projected NFL Win Totals

I am a football nerd and proud of it. With the NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, another favorite offseason event of mine took place earlier this week. Las Vegas released their projected regular season win totals for all 32 NFL teams. Here are my three favorite over/under bets for 2017.

Cowboys (Under 9.5 wins)

Unless you are an all-time great, this league has a way of humbling players whose careers get off to a hot start. Dak Prescott could be the latest example of that.

If he takes just a half step back from his 2016 season that saw him toss 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions, the effect will be dramatic.

In addition to their own division where all three opponents are at least reasonably capable, Dallas squares off with the western divisions in each conference, along with the Falcons and Packers. That is a really tough schedule for any team.

Dallas will still be very competitive, but that defense is not scaring anyone. The addition of Brandon Marshall makes the Giants the most complete team in the NFC East, and they already beat Dallas twice last year.

Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will have to be superhuman again for this team to be close to where they were last year. That is a tough thing to bank on.

Browns (Over 4 wins)

This one is a bit dicey given the quarterback situation. None of Cleveland’s options are particularly appealing in the short term.

Even so, accumulating talent is the name of the game in the NFL. They’ve added linebacker Jamie Collins and three freakishly talented first-round draft picks that actually made sense. Add that to franchise mainstay Joe Thomas and this roster is already much better than last year’s 1-15 squad.

Cleveland Browns

Photo: dawgpounddaily,com

Several of Cleveland’s losses last year were relatively close. They’ve improved via the draft and free agency. They also have a schedule that includes the likes of Jacksonville, Minnesota, the Jets and division rival Cincinnati twice. Four wins does not seem like much to ask.

Bucs (Over 8 Wins)

In each of the last two seasons, an NFC South team has risen from relative obscurity to reach the Super Bowl. If you are a fan of odd trends, here are a few reasons why Tampa Bay could follow their division rivals.

The thought of Jameis Winston throwing to Mike Evans along with new additions O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson is enough to make any defender lose sleep. Winston gets better with every snap. The organization surrounding him with this kind of talent will only expedite that process.

Jameis Winston

Photo: cbssports.com

Most of the same faces are on the young defense that is far from perfect. They did have a few shining moments last year, including holding Seattle and the Saints to under 15 points.

The Super Bowl might be a reach in the minds of some, but eight wins feels like stealing.

 

Featured Image by flannerysdublin.com

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2017 NFL Mock Draft January 12

2017 NFL Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

The Browns reportedly have a very high grade on Garrett and are not targeting a quarterback with their first pick. Garrett is the premier pass rusher in college football, but has also proven to be a good run defender as well. Cleveland has to acquire talent all over their roster, so they need to take the best player available, who is Garrett.

2. San Francisco 49ers- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

San Francisco has a lot of needs, including a new coach. Kizer has the size and arm strength to be a franchise quarterback. He has some issues with being consistent with the accuracy of his passes, but for the most part is decent. If he wants to be successful he should work on putting passes in areas for wide receivers to run after the catch.

3. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Matt Barkley has played better than expected, but the Bears will still need a new quarterback. Trubisky has protected the football very well, with the exception of a couple of games. Issues that scouts will find with him are that he has only started one season of college football and a lot of his stats come from screen passes where receivers run after the catch.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

Allen is the best prospect available and fills a need. Malik Jackson was the only defensive lineman who played well for the Jaguars. At six feet three inches tall and 291 pounds, Allen can play any position on the defensive line and can fit into any system.

5. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

In the National Championship Game, Mike Williams was the difference maker for Clemson. Williams is the best red zone threat in college football from the wide receiver position. He is tall and lanky, but athletic enough to make great catches. Mariota needs a go to receiver to throw to and the Titans ma have to take one earlier than expected.

6. New York Jets- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama

The Jets finished the season with just 29 sacks. Their secondary needs improvement, but improving the pass rush will help the secondary. Williams will fit in great in the Jets’ 3-4 defense. He has played better against the pass this season too, which will make him more desirable.

7. San Diego Chargers- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Phillip Rivers deserves the most credit in the league for keeping his team competitive with all of his skill position players hurt and a bad offensive line. Robinson can slide right in and start protecting the aging Rivers and give him more time to make plays.

8. Carolina Panthers- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Cam Newton and Leonard Fournette in the same backfield may be too much, but Jonathan Stewart is wearing down. Fournette can do everything required as a running back and help take some carries away from Newton. Their offense can be dynamic with the combination of the two.

9. Cincinnati Bengals- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

When Cincinnati was at their best, they rushed the passer well. Michael Johnson no longer does that well, so he needs to be upgraded. Barnett is one of the best pass rushers in the class and can also help stop the run at an average level.

10. Buffalo Bills- Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Adams is the most complete safety in the class. He stops the run, covers well and even hits hard. Against Ole Miss he showed he can cover tight ends when he was matched up against Evan Engram. The Bills have a lot of uncertainty at safety with Aaron Williams, but Adams could be the pick anyways.

11. New Orleans Saints- Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

The Saints need defensive help wherever they can get it. Improving the pass rush will be an easy decision if they see Solomon Thomas on the board. Thomas is a well rounded defensive end, who is as good at stopping the run as he is rushing the passer.

12. Cleveland Browns- Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

While Mike Williams was the best player for Clemson, Foster was the best player for Alabama in the National Championship Game. He was all over the field and showed great closing speed on ball carriers. In addition to that, he was a very effective when blitzing, knocking down Deshaun Watson plenty of times. He is also good in coverage, which doesn’t leave many holes in his game.

13. Arizona Cardinals- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

This is a great value pick for the Cardinals, as Humphrey is a top ten talent. The pick also fills a need with Arizona’s secondary not playing as well as in previous seasons.

14. Indianapolis Colts- Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC

Indianapolis needs to start playing better defense to give Andrew Luck a chance to win games. Jackson is one of the fastest players in the entire class and almost qualified for the track and field team in the Olympics this summer. He is a shut down corner, who plays like Deion Sanders. The most impressive thing he does is slow down to bait the quarterback into throwing a pass and then speed up to intercept it.

15. Philadelphia Eagles- Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

The Eagles defense was a lot better this season, but could still use some help at the corner position. Florida has plenty of good defensive players, but Wilson is the one who has risen up draft boards the most.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

If Cook falls to Baltimore, which he may not, the Ravens will be all over him. They need a good running back to help make that offense more dynamic. Cook and Fournette are really close in terms of who is the better running back. Joe Flacco will have an extra receiving target, while the running game should see a huge boost too.

17. Washington Redskins- Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

Washington has other needs, but McDowell could really bolster their defensive line and be a great value pick. McDowell can rush the passer, but his main impact will be helping out a bad Washington run defense.

18. Tennessee Titans- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Titans already have a great receiver drafted to help Mariota, now they need to help their secondary. Lattimore was the best corner back in the Big Ten this season and can start immediately to help Tennessee’s horrid pass defense.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Secondary play is where the Bucs fall short, especially at safety. Fortunately for them this class has a lot of good safeties. Hooker is a ball-hawk who has great coverage skills, but needs to provide more run support.

20. Denver Broncos- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

John Elway has to find a new right tackle as Donald Stephenson isn’t the answer. McGlinchey played left tackle this season, but was more successful as a right tackle during his college career.

21. Detroit Lions- Chris Wormley, DE/DT, Michigan

Detroit defied the odds to make the playoffs, but their defense needs a lot of work. Interior defensive line play was bad. Wormley can play defensive tackle in their scheme and be an absolute force in the middle of the defensive line.

22. Miami Dolphins- Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida

Tabor has fallen down draft boards, which may have come at the expense of teammate Quincy Wilson’s improved stock. Lock down coverage is Tabor’s best asset, but he also has good ball skills once passes come his way. The Dolphins need to spend some picks on their secondary and their defensive line this year and Tabor can compete for a starting job.

23. New York Giants- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

It seems like every year the Giants need linebackers, but they hardly address those issues. Cunningham is tall and lanky, but makes plays. He is a tackle machine that can vastly improve the run defense.

24. Oakland Raiders- Jabrill Peppers, CB/LB/S, Michigan

The Raiders’ defense wasn’t good this season. They have to get better to help Derek Carr and the high-powered offense win games. Peppers can be successful at any position in the back seven of the defense and will give the Raiders a lot of flexibility and a good player behind Khalil Mack.

25. Houston Texans- Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

Quarterback play has been an issue, so they may go for one here, but the offensive line hasn’t performed either. If they want to build a good offense, it starts in the trenches. Ramczyk is a good run blocker, but needs to improve his pass blocking. He can fit in at right tackle for the Texans.

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

It is the same story, but a different day for Seattle. Their offensive line is atrocious. Quenton Nelson is a solid prospect who can help out on the interior of the offensive line. He will be the selection if there aren’t any tackles good enough to get drafted in this range.

27. Green Bay Packers- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

McCaffrey sat out his bowl game and will now have to see if his draft stock falls. As of now, he could be a great fit for the Packers, who are playing Ty Montgomery, a wide receiver, at running back. Even when Eddie Lacy comes back, he hasn’t performed enough to keep his job. McCaffrey can run in between the tackles, but Aaron Rodgers will love his ability as a receiver.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

The Steeler pass rush hasn’t been the same recently. Jarvis Jones is a bust and James Harrison can’t play forever. Harris is a good edge rusher that can, at the very least, push the veterans with some competition and provide depth.

29. Atlanta Falcons- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Jacob Tamme is a decent tight end, but he isn’t great. Levine Toilolo hasn’t proven that he can be the starter. Matt Ryan would love the addition of Howard, who would just add to the number of targets he has. The Falcons could, and probably should go defense here, but Howard may be too good to pass up.

30. Kansas City Chiefs- Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Davis is a premier talent at wide receiver. He is big, at 6 feet 3 inches, but his skills match that of a smaller receiver, making him a unique prospect. The Chiefs can draft the receivers, but ultimately Alex Smith has to throw it to them to make this pick worthwhile.

31. Dallas Cowboys- John Ross, WR, Washington

The Cowboys’ defense needs to be addressed, but they could also find a good target to go on the opposite side of the field of Dez Bryant. Terrance Williams could be upgraded and has yet to sign a deal for next season. Ross is really fast and can stretch the field for the offense.

32. New England Patriots- Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois

New England’s front seven has been depleted the past couple of seasons. They will need to make up for players traded and ones that are still on the team, but aging. Smoot can provide good depth at defensive end.

 

For more mock drafts: DC Pro Sports Report

 

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NFL Draft Prospects to Watch in the 2016 Peach Bowl

If a team makes it to the College Football Playoff, they more than likely have a lot of guys that are NFL prospects. In the 2016 Peach Bowl, Washington and Alabama have plenty of players who will be playing in the NFL next season. These are the best prospects from this game:

Washington Huskies

Sidney Jones, CB

Projected Draft Range: First round-second round

Jones is a shut down corner for a Huskies’ secondary that has been compared to the Legion of Boom for the Seattle Seahawks. He doesn’t have many balls thrown his way, but he makes plays on them when they do. Jones has average height at six feet tall, but needs to add muscle to his 181 pound frame so he isn’t pushed off of the line of scrimmage.

John Ross, WR

Projected Draft Range: First round-second round

Peach Bowl

John Ross (Photo courtesy: lmtribune.com)

A lot of people have called Ross one of the fastest players in college football. His speed has helped him to create a lot of separation for big plays. He isn’t the biggest at five feet eleven inches tall, but Odell Beckham Jr. is the same height and is effective. He will be able to play on the outside and in the slot.

Budda Baker, S

Projected Draft Range: Second round-fourth round

Baker is a great free safety for the Huskies. His coverage is great and he is decent at coming up and playing the run too, with 8.5 tackles for loss. He has the versatility to play safety or slot corner at the next level. His ball skills aren’t great, but he does have good range for a safety.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Jonathan Allen, DL

Projected Draft Range: Top 10

Allen has so many diverse talents that he can play any position on the defensive line. He has played on a three man front at Alabama as a defensive end. With 8.5 sacks, he is a great pass rusher, that often times gets double teamed. Allen is really good at stopping the run too, making him one of the best prospects in the class.

Cam Robinson, OT

Projected Draft Range: First round

Peach Bowl

Cam Robinson (Photo courtesy: walterfootball.com)

This is a weak offensive tackle class and although Robinson isn’t the greatest prospect ever, he should be one of the first taken. He has good size at six feet six inches tall and 310 pounds and has decent athletic ability. At times he can look stiff on the field and needs to demonstrate better mobility against the pass rush.

Marlon Humphrey, CB

Projected Draft Range: First round

Humphrey should be one of the first corners taken in a very deep draft class at the position. He has good size at six feet one inch and is still growing into his body as a red-shirt sophomore. Humphrey has completely locked down his side of the field. In order to be elite he needs to help stopping the run more.

O.J. Howard, TE

Projected Draft Range: First round-second round

Alabama doesn’t utilize Howard as much as they should. Howard shouldn’t be faulted for his lack of production, as they just don’t throw him the ball often enough. At six feet six inches tall and 251 pounds, Howard already has a good body for the NFL. His athleticism is also good enough for the NFL. Hopefully the team that drafts him knows how to use him.

Tim Williams, DE/OLB

Projected Draft Range: First round-second round

Williams is a great pass rusher with 8.5 sacks this season, making him a great edge rusher prospect. He has gotten better at defending the run, but still needs to work on that. Williams has the necessary size and athleticism to get after the quarterback in the NFL, but has to get better at other facets of his game to stay on the field for all three downs.

 

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2017 NFL Mock Draft December 14

1. Cleveland Browns- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

The Browns reportedly have a very high grade on Garrett and are not targeting a quarterback with their first pick. Garrett is the premier pass rusher in college football, but has also proven to be a good run defender as well. Cleveland has to acquire talent all over their roster, so they need to take the best player available, who is Garrett.

2. San Francisco 49ers- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

Chip Kelly needs to attempt to find a quarterback to run his system. Kizer has the size and arm strength to be a franchise quarterback. He has some issues with being consistent with the accuracy of his passes, but for the most part is decent. If he wants to be successful he should work on putting passes in areas for wide receivers to run after the catch.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory haven’t been great for the Jaguars so they can get a running back who has game-changing capabilities here. Fournette can do everything required as a running back and can really help out the struggling Blake Bortles by providing a running game.

4. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Matt Barkley has played better than expected, but the Bears will still need a new quarterback. Trubisky has protected the football very well, with the exception of a couple of games. Issues that scouts will find with him are that he has only started one season of college football and a lot of his stats come from screen passes where receivers run after the catch.

5. Tennessee Titans (via LA)- Adoree Jackson, CB/WR, USC

Tennessee has two first round picks via the Jared Goff trade and have to use one of those picks on secondary help. Jackson is one of the fastest players in the entire class and almost qualified for the track and field team in the Olympics this summer. He is a shut down corner, who plays like Deion Sanders. The most impressive thing he does is slow down to bait the quarterback into throwing a pass and then speed up to intercept it.

6. New York Jets- Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

Florida has plenty of good defensive players, but Wilson is the one who has risen up draft boards the most. The Jets could use a good corner as theirs are aging. Their defensive line is good so now they need to improve the secondary to make their defense better.

7. Cleveland Browns- Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama

Inside linebackers don’t usually get drafted this high, but Foster is that good. The Browns drafted their pass rusher and now can get an inside linebacker. Foster and Garrett can be the start to a decent defense if Hue Jackson is sold on starting Cody Kessler.

8. Carolina Panthers- Jonathan Allen, DT/DE, Alabama

Carolina hasn’t been the same team as last year and that starts in the trenches. Allen is the best prospect available and fills a need. The Panthers would have a dynamic defensive line heading into next season if they could score Allen, leading to another playoff run.

9. New Orleans Saints- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Saints defense gives up 27 points per game and is one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Their offense is great as usual, but if they want to win the division they need to select a corner like Lattimore.

10. San Diego Chargers- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Phillip Rivers deserves the most credit in the league for keeping his team competitive with all of his skill position players hurt and a bad offensive line. Robinson can slide right in and start protecting the aging Rivers and give him more time to make plays.

11. Cincinnati Bengals- Jabrill Peppers, CB/S/LB, Michigan

The Bengals defense has a lot of deficiencies and Peppers can fill in at several different positions. He has been successful at corner and safety for his career and done well at linebacker this season. He could fit in wherever the Bengals feel they have the biggest hole and be productive.

12. Arizona Cardinals- Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

Calais Campbell can’t play forever and at the very least McDowell can play alongside him. McDowell is a great run stopper and often takes up two blockers when opponents try to pass.

13. Indianapolis Colts- Jamal Adams, S, LSU

The Colts defense is an absolute mess, but they really need safeties. Adams is the best one in the class and has proven to come up and play the run well. He has also shown the ability to cover elite college tight ends, which should translate well to his future role in the NFL.

14. Buffalo Bills- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Buffalo has a pretty good pass rush, but it could be better. Barnett is one of the best pass rushers in the class and can also help stop the run at an average level.

15. Philadelphia Eagles- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

The secondary play has improved since the departure of Chip Kelly, because they aren’t on the field as much, but they still aren’t great. If the Eagles can nab a corner, their defense could become elite.

16. Houston Texans- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Houston would really like a quarterback after whiffing on Brock Osweiler, but none will fit in this range. They can improve their defense though, as their corners haven’t played great this season. Jones will be an upgrade over the Texans corners from two on down.

17. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Williams is the best red zone threat in college football from the wide receiver position. He is tall and lanky, but athletic to make great catches. Mariota needs a go to receiver to throw to, if they improve their secondary with their first pick.

18. Baltimore Ravens- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

The Ravens haven’t had a good running back since Ray Rice when he was in his prime. Cook is a fast back, who can still run in between the tackles. He will also be a very valuable target for Joe Flacco out of the backfield.

19. Green Bay Packers- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

Cunningham is from Alabama, but wasn’t recruited by the big name schools in the state, so he elected to go to Vanderbilt. He is long and lanky, some say too much for an inside linebacker, but has used that to his advantage. He is a tackle machine who is great at diagnosing plays. He also had a great blocked kick, which was one of the plays of the season.

20. Washington Redskins- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

With the exception of Josh Norman, the rest of Washington’s secondary has been horrendous. White is a great corner, who also can be dynamic in the kick return game. He is a team leader who was awarded the number 18 for two straight years at LSU, which is given by the former wearers of the number.

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

The Buccaneers defensive line needs to be upgraded. Gerald Mccoy and Noah Spence have played well, but no one else has. Harris can play the opposite end of Spence and provide a good pass rusher and an average run defender.

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

Jay Ajayi and Ryan Tannehill brought their games to a new level on their win streak, but the offensive line still isn’t great. The interior of the line is the main issue that will have to be addressed. Nelson is a plug and play guy from Notre Dame who is overshadowed by McGlinchey, but has had an impressive season himself.

23. Denver Broncos- Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

Jared Crick hasn’t played well this season. Brantley cloggs up running room in the middle of the defense and can make guys like Von Miller even better.

24. Atlanta Falcons Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois

Vic Beasley is killing it this year for the Falcons, but needs a partner in crime. Smoot is a good pass rusher that can develop into a better players in the pros. The year under Lovie Smith at Illinois can’t hurt either.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers- Desmond King, CB, Iowa

There is talk of King having to switch to safety due to his lack of speed, but both positions are needs for the Steelers. King was the defensive back of the year in 2015 and was still productive this season. He has safe hands in the return game and can bust some loose. The Steelers need to stop putting Antonio Brown back for returns, as he is too valuable to get hurt.

26. Seattle Seahawks- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Seattle’s offensive line struggles have been well documented. McGlinchey’s versatility is key for the Seahawks as he has played left tackle, right tackle and could play guard if needed.

27. Detroit Lions- Chris Wormley, DE, Michigan

Wormley isn’t the greatest pass rusher, but has a great motor. He is also above average at stopping the run. His six foot six inch height and 302 pound weight will be something that NFL teams covet. The Lions’ defensive line needs some consistent production like Wormley will provide.

28. New York Giants- Carroll Phillips, DE/OLB, Illinois

The Giants’ defensive line stepped up in the Dallas game, but for now they still need help there. Phillips can be another pass rusher that can at the very least come in on third downs and help out.

29. Oakland Raiders- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Clive Walford is ok, but the position could be upgraded to provide an even more dynamic offense. O.J. Howard is under utilized at Alabama, but Derek Carr will use him to make a good offense great.

30. Kansas City Chiefs- John Ross, WR, Washington

There may not be a faster player in college football than John Ross. The Chiefs’ offense looked a lot better with Alex Smith actually throwing the ball downfield.

31. New England Patriots- Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M

Watts is good in coverage and can also hit hard on occasion. The Patriots need to get Patrick Chung out of the lineup, as he has really struggled.

32. Dallas Cowboys- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama

The Cowboys need defensive line help yet again and can go for Williams, who was a pass rush specialist last year, but has improved against the run this year.

 

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2017 NFL Mock Draft December 9

1. Cleveland Browns- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Hue Jackson loves Cody Kessler, and now RGIII is in the mix to start for the Browns. It would be a mistake to take a quarterback here, but I wouldn’t put it past Cleveland to make that mistake. If Jackson is able to have a say in who is drafted, Garrett will be the pick. Garrett is a freak athlete, who is a great pass rusher, but is also good at stopping the run. He is the best player in the draft class and can help the Browns get a defense to help their young offense.

2. San Francisco 49ers- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

No quarterbacks are worthy of being taken in the first round, but their values always rise on draft day. Kizer has all of the physical tools to be a franchise quarterback with a strong arm and good build. He misses some easy throws that he should make, which means accuracy is an issue. The 49ers need a quarterback to replace Collin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, as neither have been good this season.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

The Jaguars’ defensive line has been terrible. A lot of people thought that Jacksonville would be a surprise team this season, but you can’t win games if you aren’t good in the trenches. Allen is a good pass rusher and play-maker for the Alabama defense, as he has scored touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.

4. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC

Matt Barkley has been playing well, but the Bears will still want to go in a new direction. Trubisky only has one season of college football experience under his belt, but he has played well for the Tar Heels. His main asset is protecting the football, with only four interceptions thrown on the year, two thrown during a hurricane and two against rival Duke.

5. New York Jets- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Humphrey is only a sophomore, but has proven he is a reliable shut-down corner. He only has two interceptions on the season, which is a result of other teams not testing him too often. His length will be something that NFL scouts will like. The Jets need to upgrade their secondary, as they are getting torched far too often.

6. Tennessee Titans (Via LA)- Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama

The Titans have a lot of needs, but luckily have two first round picks to fill those. Their linebacker core hasn’t gotten the job done this season. While inside linebackers don’t typically go this high, Foster might be the best linebacker that Alabama has produced under Nick Saban.

7. Carolina Panthers- Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Secondaries that need upgrading is a problem that a lot of teams have. The Panthers could use a corner or a safety here. Adams can cover tight ends and play the run well, making him the most desirable safety in this draft class.

8. Cincinnati Bengals- Jabrill Peppers, LB/S/CB, Michigan

Peppers is a highly sought after player due to his versatility on defense. He was an elite defensive back, before moving to linebacker this season. His ball skills are his only true weakness, as he doesn’t have many passes defended and only one interception in his career. The Bengals have been terrible on defense all season and could use a versatile player like Peppers.

9. New Orleans Saints- Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

New Orleans’ defense isn’t playing as badly as they did to start the season, but they still aren’t an acceptable NFL defense. Jalen Tabor was supposed to be the first corner taken out of Florida, but Wilson has quietly had a great season across the field from him.

10. Cleveland Browns (via PHI)- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Fournette will likely not drop this far, but running backs aren’t usually taken in the top ten, so maybe the Browns can get lucky for once. Cleveland already got their pass rusher in Garrett and now can take Fournette to help out Kessler and the rest of the Browns’ offense. Fournette has all the tools to be an elite NFL running back.

11. San Diego Chargers- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

What Phillip Rivers has done with the Chargers this season is nothing short of amazing. He has a coach that isn’t great, an offensive line that is below average at best and not many weapons to throw to. The first thing the Chargers should do is get him some more help on the offensive line. Robinson will need to grow into it, but can be an effective starting tackle in the league.

12. Arizona Cardinals- Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

Calias Campbell can’t play forever and is soon to be a free agent. The Cardinals should take a replacement here. McDowell is great at taking on double teams and stopping the run, but won’t ever record many sacks.

13. Indianapolis Colts- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Colts defense needs to be upgraded as a whole, and they can take the best player available. Lattimore is a ball-hawk at corner with four interceptions on the season.

14. Houston Texans- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Brock Osweiler has been a problem, but there are no quarterbacks worth taking here. The right side of the offensive line needs to be upgraded and McGlinchey will probably wind up at right tackle or guard for his pro career.

15. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

It isn’t a secret that Marcus Mariota needs more weapons. Williams provides a tall receiver who will be a great red zone threat for the Titans.

16. Buffalo Bills- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

The biggest surprise of this season may be how good Washington’s secondary has played. The Bills’ corners haven’t played well this season, but at the very least Jones can provide some good depth.

17. Philadelphia Eagles (via Min)- Adoree Jackson, CB, USC

Jackson is one of the best play-makers in the class. He plays both sides of the ball and returns kicks for the Trojans. His best skill is his speed. Jackson almost qualified for the Olympics in track, but came up just short. People watching Jackson play will be reminded of Deion Sanders with the way Jackson baits quarterbacks into throwing to receivers, before speeding up and intercepting the pass.

18. Green Bay Packers- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

The running game has been a huge issue for the Packers. Cook is a first round talent, who can be a great receiving threat out of the backfield for Aaron Rodgers.

19. Washington Redskins- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Hooker plays like Ed Reed. He follows the quarterback’s eyes very well and then makes a play on the ball. He may return to school, but if he comes out, he can start for the Redskins from day one.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

The Buccaneers drafted Noah Spence last year, who is having a solid rookie season. Williams Gholston is not playing well on the other side of the line. Barnett has had his best pass-rushing year at Tennessee of his career with 16 sacks. He is also able to stop the run at an average level for prospects.

21. Miami Dolphins- Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

Miami’s offensive line hasn’t played well, despite Jay Ajayi and Ryan Tannehill heating up. Drafting Nelson will give the Dolphins options. They can move Laremy Tunsil back to tackle or just use Nelson to replace Jermon Bushrod, who has struggled this year.

22. Baltimore Ravens- Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida

Some scouts believe that Tabor is better than Vernon Hargreaves III, who was drafted number eleventh overall last season, which shows how loaded this year’s class is at corner. Tabor’s ball skills will be questioned because he didn’t have an interception for the second half of the season, but for the most part he shuts down opposing receivers.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

Pittsburgh is known for having great pass rushers, but they are right in the middle of the pack as a team for sacks. The Steelers drafted secondary help in last year’s draft and now can select  a pass rusher to supplement them.

24. Atlanta Falcons- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

There aren’t many better stories in college football than Cunningham. He grew up in Alabama, but was shunned by both Alabama and Auburn and elected to go to Vanderbilt. He is great at diagnosing plays and making great plays for his team. The Falcons need a lot of defensive help and can start by getting a great linebacker in Cunningham.

25. Detroit Lions- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama

The Lions’ edge rushers haven’t played well this season. They rank near the bottom in sacks in the league and need to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Williams may not be an every down player in the NFL, but can rush the passer really well, helping out on third downs.

26. New York Giants- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Howard is under-utilized at Alabama, but is a good target and decent blocker. The Giants could use a good tight end to take some of the coverage off of Odell Beckham Jr.

27. Denver Broncos- Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

Jared Crick hasn’t played well this season and if the Broncos want to keep up the elite defense they have, they will need to fill holes like this. Brantley is a good run stopper for Florida, making him a perfect fit for the Broncos defense.

28. Seattle Seahawks- Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple

There aren’t really any offensive linemen in range here, but the Seahawks are desperate. Dawkins may take some work, but could be an upgrade on a bad offensive line.

29. Kansas City Chiefs- JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC

The Chiefs offense is really opening up now with the emergence of Tyreek Hill. Smith-Schuster has had a disappointing season, but is talented nonetheless. If Kansas City wants to make their offense even more dynamic they can take Smith-Schuster here.

30. Oakland Raiders- Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

Oakland’s corners are overpaid for the amount of their production. They need to continue to improve their defense to become an elite NFL team.

31. New England Patriots- Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois

This season the Patriots have some glaring weaknesses. One of those is the front seven on defense. They need to start drafting players for depth purposes at the very least.

32. Dallas Cowboys- John Ross, WR, Washington

Ross is one of the fastest players in college football and makes explosive plays for the Huskies. The Cowboys’ defense can use some work, but Ross can be a great number two receiver behind Dez Bryant, making Dallas’ offense even better.

 

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