2018 NFL Mock Draft 11/15/17

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

1. Cleveland Browns- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Arden Key (Photo by gridironnow.com)

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

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

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

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

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

7. Cincinnati Bengals- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

The Bengals have a terrible offensive line and need to upgrade almost every position. They can start by taking a cornerstone at tackle. Williams isn’t the biggest guy, so he may need to add some weight, but he is very athletic. He is currently injured with damaged ligaments in his knee and will have to prove he is healthy to be selected highly.

8. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

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

9. Denver Broncos- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

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

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

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

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

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

12. Arizona Cardinals- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

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

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Quenton Nelson (Photo by fansided.com)

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

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

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

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

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

16. Oakland Raiders- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

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

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

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

18. Buffalo Bills- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas 

Jefferson is a talented linebacker, who is starting to live up to his potential. He was all over the field against Oklahoma State. The great recuruit coming out of high school is a better pass rusher than he gets credit for and can also stop the run well. Buffalo is another team that just needs to get one talented linebacker on their team.

19. Detroit Lions- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Payne makes freakish plays for a defensive tackle. He hasn’t done much in the stats department this season, but takes on multiple blocks at a time. The Lions need to improve the interior of the defensive line and Payne can fit in with his old teammate at Alabama, A’Shawn Robinson.

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

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

21. Atlanta Falcons- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Carlton Davis (Photo by al.com)

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

22. Tennessee Titans- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

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

23. Seattle Seahawks- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

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

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

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

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

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

26. Carolina Panthers- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

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

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

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

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

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

29. Pittsburgh Steelers- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma 

2018 NFL mock draft

Baker Mayfield (Photo by newsok.com)

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

30. Minnesota Vikings- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

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

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

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

32. Philadelphia Eagles- Justin Reid, S, Stanford

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

 

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Five things we learned in college football week 9

Week nine was wild and crazy. College football is an awesome sport an there is still a lot more to be played. Here are five things we learned in college football week nine:

1. It’s going to be chaotic

There has already been a fair amount of chaos, but there is more coming. This weekend Ohio State beat Penn State, which knocks the Nittany Lions out of the top four for now. TCU was also in the top four and lost to Iowa State. In a matchup of two good teams Notre Dame enhanced their case to be considered for the CFP with their win over N.C. State.

The field has been narrowed down to four teams from power five conferences who are undefeated. Alabama and Georgia are two of these teams and will likely play each other in the SEC Championship. Miami and Wisconsin are also undefeated, but haven’t played anyone of note. With plenty more good games (Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech-Miami, Notre Dame-Miami, Alabama-Auburn, etc.) the current rankings will not hold to form.

Buckle in, more great football is coming.

2. J.T. Barrett is Clutch

week 9 college football recap

J.T. Barrett (Photo by bleacherreport.com)

J.T. Barrett is a record setting quarterback at Ohio State, but takes a lot of blame for the losses he has suffered while at Ohio State. His first few years as quarterback he had a lot of NFL talent around him, but lately that hasn’t been the case, particularly this season. He hasn’t played well in big games and he hasn’t had much help from the rest of the offense.

Ohio State needed to win to stay alive in the College Football Playoff race and that was a tall order with Penn State coming to town. They started off trailing and had to try to play catch up the rest of the game. It looked like the game was over at several different points, but Barrett kept on scoring. In the fourth quarter he was 13/13 passing for 170 yards and three touchdowns. This concluded with a touchdown pass to Marcus Baugh with under two minutes left to take a one point lead over the Nittany Lions. The Buckeyes were able to hold on for the big win.

Barrett turned in one of the best fourth quarter performances of all time to get his team the victory and proved a lot of haters wrong in the process.

3. Iowa State is really good

When Iowa State beat Oklahoma a lot of people thought it was a fluke, but the Cyclones have put a nice season together now. This week they took on TCU and won a tough, physical game 14-7. They have now beaten two top five teams this season and are 6-2. Because of their success Iowa State is in a four way tie for first place in the Big 12.

Matt Campbell has done a great job of turning this program around and they are already bowl eligible. They still have tough games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia, but there is a possibility they can go to the Big 12 Championship Game. Even if they don’t get that far, Campbell has to be in the discussion for a lot of coach of the year awards.

4. Notre Dame’s offensive line is the best in college football

Notre Dame got another good win this week over the N.C. State Wolfpack. The big matchup in the game was the Notre Dame offensive line against the stout Wolfpack defensive line. The Fighting Irish were able to control the line of scrimmage again and win the game, which put themselves in the thick of the College Football Playoff picture.

The offensive line did allow a sack to future NFL player Bradley Chubb, but otherwise played a great game. Josh Adams was able to rush for 202 yards, which is partially due to his talent and partially because of the great line in front of him. Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, future NFL draf picks on the Notre Dame offensive line were able to clear a lot of holes for Adams. McGlinchey did allow the sack to Chubb, but the line still looks like the class of college football.

5. Arizona can win the Pac-12

College football week 9 recap

Khalil Tate (Photo by sfgate.com)

Arizona picked up another win this week to set them up nicely for the Pac-12 race. This week they beat Washington State 58-37, which officially ended Washington State’s CFP hopes. The offense has been sparked by quarterback Khalil Tate, who has used his dual threat abilities to torch opposing defenses. This game Tate had 275 yards passing and 146 yards rushing.

With Tate at the Helm, Arizona can win the Pac-12. Right now their main competition in the Pac-12 South is USC. The Trojans still only have one loss in Pac-12 play and look to be back on track with their domination of Arizona State this weekend. Arizona has been on a tear and can take advantage of the holes in USC’s defense. If they can get by USC they will find themselves in the Pac-12 Championship Game after starting the season off with lower expectations.

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2018 NFL Mock Draft 10/24/17

The NFL season is almost halfway through, so it is getting easier to see where teams will be drafting in the 2018 NFL Draft. Here is a first round NFL mock draft.

1. Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

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

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

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Connor Williams (Photo by: hookem.com)

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

Orleans Darkwa had a tougher game against the Seahawks, but the Giants should still address the tackle position. Because their tackles are so bad, the Giants will likely draft a tackle. Williams isn’t the biggest guy, so he may need to add some weight, but he is very athletic. He is currently injured with damaged ligaments in his knee and will have to prove he is healthy to be selected highly.

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

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

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

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

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

Tampa Bay has a terrible secondary and needs to get better, especially when considering what division they play in. James is one of the best players in this class and looks like he is capable of doing anything on a football field. If he doesn’t get selected early, it is due to concerns about his injuries. He missed most of the 2016 season with a shoulder injury.

7. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

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

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

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

9. Arizona Cardinals- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Carson Palmer is injured again and it highlights the Cardinals’ need for a quarterback. If Palmer can return, Jackson can sit and learn behind him. If Palmer is done Jackson can make some plays as a starter, but won’t be developed. Jackson still has issues throwing the ball, but is a dynamic runner. He has improved his efficiency this year, which has helped his draft stock.

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

Key is starting to create havoc and get into a groove for the Tigers. He is a great speed rusher that would benefit from adding some more pass rushing moves to his arsenal. Baltimore does have a decent number of sacks on the season, but Terrell Suggs will need to be replaced soon. If Key falls, the Ravens need to scoop him up.

11. Los Angeles Chargers- Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama

Fitzpatrick has played both safety and corner in his time at Alabama. He has all the physical tools to be successful, but needs to work on his technique and positioning. The Chargers could try to improve the offensive line, but they used two selections on that last year in Forrest Lamp, Dan Feeney and Sam Tevi.

12. Oakland Raiders- Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

Oakland only has 12 sacks on the year and could use an elite pass rusher to go with Khalil Mack. Bryant has 5.5 sacks on the season, but could be more consistent. Four of his sacks came against Auburn. He will need to prove himself in the back half of the college season.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Christian Kirk (Photo by: cbssports.com)

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

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

14. Washington Redskins- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

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

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

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

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

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

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

One thing is for sure: The Broncos can’t win it all with Trevor Siemian at quarterback. They drafted Paxton Lynch two years ago, but he hasn’t been able to beat out the sub par Siemian yet. Rudolph isn’t getting a lot of love right now, but when people watch his tape they will like his deep ball. He has had a lot of production in college and can be a successful NFL quarterback.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Iman Marshall (Photo by: zimbio.com)

18. Atlanta Falcons- Iman Marshall, CB, USC

Marshall would immediately help out the secondary. He was overshadowed by Adoree Jackson last year, but is now shining. He is a shutdown corner that has started since his freshman season as a Trojan. Teams are actively looking to not throw his way when they play USC. Desmond Trufant is a good corner, but the Falcons need more if they are going to stop some of the best offenses in the NFC.

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

The Titans have just 11 sacks on the season. If they want to start winning more, Marcus Mariota will need to stay healthy and they need to have a better pass rush. Landry led the FBS in sacks last year and decided to go back to school for his final season. He only has five sacks this season, so he needs to pick up the pace.

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

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

21. Carolina Panthers- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

While Cam Newton is playing better, the offensive line still needs to be improved upon. They need to get the ground game going to set up Cam Newton in the passing game. Brown has NFL bloodlines and a big body.  He needs to prove that he has the athleticism and speed to deal with the fast pass rushers in the NFL.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

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

23. Miami Dolphins- Kevin Toliver, CB, LSU

The Dolphins don’t have a good secondary and it was evident when they let the Jets throw for 249 yards on 18 of 23 passing. Toliver hasn’t done much, but he will face stiffer competition as the season goes on. The potential is there, but he still needs to prove it on the field.

24. New Orleans Saints- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith has done a little bit of everything for Georgia this season with 53 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack and two passes defended. New Orleans needs better linebackers, as none have played particularly well this season.

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

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

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

Nelson provides good value and would’ve been a first round pick had he come out in last year’s draft class. He is very quick and athletic, making him the best guard prospect in a while. The Seahawks have to start protecting Russell Wilson better or he won’t last much longer. They also haven’t been able to run the football at all.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Carlton Davis (Photo by: auburntigers.com)

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

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

28. Minnesota Vikings- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

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

29. Pittsburgh Steelers- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

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

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

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

31. Buffalo Bills (via KC)- Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

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

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

The Eagles have Alshon Jeffrey on a one year deal and Torrey Smith isn’t doing much. Carson Wentz needs some more weapons as he continues to develop. St. Brown has had a hard time getting involved in the Notre Dame offense early, but that is only partially on him. He is a big athletic receiver that looks like he could be more productive in the NFL than he has been in college.

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Five things to watch for in college football week 9

It is coming down to the end of the season, which means more good games are on the way. Here are five things to watch for in college football in week nine:

1. Notre Dame’s offensive line vs. Bradley Chubb

Week 9 college football

Bradley Chubb (Photo by: fansided.com)

Notre Dame is coming off of a good win against USC and now has a bunch of hype surrounding them. N.C. State only has one loss and will be traveling to South Bend with high hopes. This game will be a marquee win for whichever team ends up winning and the game will be won in the trenches.

N.C. State has one of the best defensive linemen in the country in Bradley Chubb. Chubb has 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks on the season. He has worked his way into being in the talk to be a first round draft pick. Chubb has been able to help the Wolfpack defense to hold opponents to 639 rushing yards on the season. He and the entire N.C. State defensive line will need to step up to stop Notre Dame’s running game.

Josh Adams has worked his way into the Heisman conversation now. He is a big play threat and has had several long runs for touchdowns. The offensive line has been key in clearing holes for Adams. Both Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson anchor the left side of the offensive line and are probably going to be selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The team that wins the trenches will win the game and move up in the rankings.

2. Big Ten East Clash

Both teams have been waiting to play each other again after last season. Penn State beat Ohio State, which gives the Buckeyes a reason to want revenge, while the Nittany Lions missed the CFP in favor of OSU, so they will want to leave no doubt who the better team is. This game will be one of the best games of the college football season, so it needs to be watched.

Penn State won big over Michigan and looks like one of the best teams in the country. The offense is star-powered with Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley and the defense hasn’t allowed more than 19 points this season. The Nittany Lions still haven’t won a game over a great team so they have a chance to do that for the first time this year.

Ohio State also hasn’t beaten a good team all season. They have likely been itching for a chance to win a big game since their loss to Oklahoma early in the year. The Buckeyes have the top scoring offense in the country and the tenth best scoring defense, albeit against mostly lackluster competition. These units will be put to the test this weekend against Penn State.

The environment will be electric in Columbus on Saturday and the winner will likely make the CFP this time.

3. important Big 12 Shootouts

There are five teams in the Big 12 with one loss or less and four out of the five will be trying to knock each other off this weekend. While there is still a lot of football to be played, this will be a key weekend to figure out who will be in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Oklahoma State and West Virginia matchup in a game in Morgantown, West Virginia. There will be a lot of offense and passing yards, as both teams are ranked in the top five in scoring and passing yards. Whichever defense can get more stops will win the game and put themselves in a good position in this weird round robin Big 12 setup.

In the other game, TCU will take on the hot Iowa State Cyclones. TCU looks like the best team in the Big 12, with a good offense and defense. They are also the only undefeated team left in Big 12 play. Iowa State has a loss to Texas, but got the big upset win over Oklahoma. The Cyclones have gone to Kyle Kempt at quarterback with Jacob Park on injured leave and Kempt has done well. Iowa State is still a pretty big underdog, but they are used to that by now.

4. Pac-12 after dark games

College football week 9

Khalil Tate (Photo courtesy: washingtonpost.com)

Pac-12 after dark always has wild and crazy games and this week is no different. There are two matchups that will be exciting, while also featuring some of the favorites to make the Pac-12 Championship Game.

In the first game, Washington State takes on Arizona. Both teams can put up a lot of points. Washington State has only one loss on the season, coming at the hands of Cal. They are still in good position to make the Pac-12 Championship Game and have a great offense. Arizona is a surprise team that could end up winning the Pac-12 South. They have found new life with quarterback Khalil Tate, who has amassed over 1,000 yards in his three starts. There will be a lot of offense and a lot on the line.

The second game on the docket for Pac-12 after dark is USC at Arizona State. Both these teams, along with Arizona and UCLA, are still vying to win the Pac-12 South title. USC just lost to Notre Dame big time and need to get back on track. That starts with Sam Darnold protecting the football better and the defense being more physical. Arizona State surprisingly beat Washington to get on track. The Sun Devils’ defense has stepped up as of late, giving up 17 points in their last two games.

As crazy as it may sound it is likely the Arizona schools that will provide the biggest competition for USC in the south.

5. USF vs. Houston

USF is a team that a lot of people thought would go undefeated due to their easy schedule. There schedule is a little tougher with the emergence of other teams in their conference. Even so, the Bulls have to win out to make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

This week they play a Houston team that was supposed to be one of their toughest games of the season. Houston has stumbled a bit, but it will still be a good test for USF. If the Bulls can win this game they will likely win all others until their regular season finale.

If this result holds to form and there are no upsets in the AAC, the last few games will have a lot riding on them. First USF will play UCF in a rivalry game in a battle of unbeaten teams. The winner will go to the AAC Championship Game to face Memphis, who has only one loss. The winner of that game will likely be in a New Year’s Six Bowl.

Buckle up. The last few weeks of college football are going to be wild.

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2018 NFL Mock Draft 10/17/17

 

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

1. Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

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

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

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

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

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

4. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Calvin Ridley (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Tennessee Titans- Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

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

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

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

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

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

13. Arizona Cardinals- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Lamar Jackson (Photo by twitter.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18. Miami Dolphins- Iman Marshall, CB, USC

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

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

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

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

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

21. Washington Redskins- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Malik Jefferson (Photo by hornfm.com)

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

22. Seattle Seahawks- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

26. Carolina Panthers- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

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

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Jordan Thomas (Photo by youtube.com)

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

28. Minnesota Vikings- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

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

29. Pittsburgh Steelers- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

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

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

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

31. Philadelphia Eagles- Simmie Cobbs Jr., Indiana

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

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

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

 

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2018 NFL Mock Draft 10/9/17

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

1. Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

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

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

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Saquon Barkley (Photo by pennlive.com)

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

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

4. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

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

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

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

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

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

7. Arizona Cardinals- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

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

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

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

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

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

10. Tennessee Titans- Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Connor Williams (Photo by youtube.com)

11. Dallas Cowboys- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

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

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

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

13. Miami Dolphins- Iman Marshall, CB, USC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 NFL mock draft

Lamar Jackson (Photo by courier-journal.com)

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

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

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

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

20. Jacksonville Jaguars- Trey Adams, OT, Washington

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

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

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

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

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

23. Detroit Lions- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

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

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

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

2018 NFL mock draft

Orlando Brown (Photo by tulsaworld.com)

25. Seattle Seahawks- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29. Philadelphia Eagles- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

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

30. Carolina Panthers- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

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

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

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

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

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

 

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2018 NFL Mock Draft September 26

There are three weeks finished in the NFL season and we are starting to see which teams will contend and which teams will be looking forward to the NFL Draft. This mock draft will use current standings to determine draft order and will not include trades.

1. San Francisco 49ers- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Sam Darnold (Photoy by sportingnews.com)

The Jets picked up a win over the Dolphins in week three, moving the 49ers up to the number one pick. Many think they will avoid taking a quarterback in order to try and sign Kirk Cousins. If they are able to sign Kirk Cousins, they will likely trade down. If they are not they will take a quarterback.

Sam Darnold is a good prospect, but has had his fair share of issues to start the season. In four games this season he has thrown seven interceptions. He has great arm talent, but will start moving down draft boards if he doesn’t start making better decisions.

2. Cleveland Browns- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

While most people don’t think running backs shouldn’t go early in the NFL Draft, the ones that have recently been selected have panned out. Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliot and Todd Gurley are all playing well at the moment. Barkley still has a little to prove until he can be considered as good as those guys, but is a great running back in his own right. He has great moves and can catch the ball out of the backfield. The Browns could use a good young running back to go with their other young offensive weapons.

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

Cincinnati has one of the worst offensive lines in football and need to address it badly. McGlinchey would have been selected pretty highly had he come out last season, but elected to go back to school. He has struggled so far this season, but the Notre Dame running game has started to get going. He may be a player who is best at right tackle due to not being the most athletic player, but can play both tackle spots.

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

The Chargers are pretty unlucky to find themselves at 0-3. They have a lot of solid players, but could upgrade their safety position. James is one of the best players in this class and looks like he is capable of doing anything on a football field. If he doesn’t get selected early, it is due to concerns about his injuries. He missed most of the 2016 season with a shoulder injury.

5. New York Giants- Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State

The Giants are literal proof that you can’t ignore the offensive line and just focus on skill position players to win football games. Their tackles are awful and still aren’t figuring it out. Rankin is a good tackle, who is great at pass blocking. He may not be getting love from other mock drafts, but will if he continues his good play.

6. New York Jets- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

With all of the talk of the Jets being pleased with Chritian Hackenberg, he hasn’t been good enough to work himself onto the field consistently. In what looks to be a good quarterback class, they need to take one with their pick. Rosen was injured for most of the 2016 season and had some nerve damage in his throwing arm. He looks good so far this season with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions thrown, but did have a bad performance against Memphis.

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

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

8. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Calvin Ridley (Photo by freep.com)

Alshon Jeffrey is gone and Kevin White keeps getting hurt. The Bears need a good wide receiver to help Mitch Trubisky as he develops. Ridley is producing well enough so far this season with 262 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Without the greatest quarterback play, he is still playing well and making a case to be the first wide receiver off of the board.

9. Arizona Cardinals- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

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

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

Yes there are a lot of quarterbacks in this mock, but it is a loaded class (as of now). The Saints might be looking towards the future with Drew Brees aging and becoming a free agent. Rudolph can put up numbers like Brees, at least in college, and isn’t dependent on arm strength, much like Brees too. He has been very good at protecting the football as well, with only three interceptions thrown and 66% completion.

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

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

12. Seattle Seahawks- Trey Adams, OT, Washington

Adams has started to move up draft boards and no one will know more about him than the team from the same city. The Seahawks are likely to do better and get a pick later in the round, but if they keep stumbling they could get him. He has been noted for his athleticism and should be able to start at left tackle for Seattle. The Seahawks have to start protecting Russell Wilson better or he won’t last much longer.

13. Miami Dolphins- Iman Marshall, CB, USC

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

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

Donovan Smith has been given a long time to play tackle better and has yet to do so. The Bucs need to keep their franchise quarterback upright. So far they have only given up four sacks in two games, but that will get much worse. They also need to help get the running game going to take some pressure off of Jameis Winston. Williams is injured now, which may hurt his draft stock, but if he clears out health-wise, he is one of the best tackles in the class.

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Kevin Toliver (Photo by tigerdroppings.com)

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

16. Jacksonville Jaguars- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Jacksonville is going to need a new quarterback next year. They have done well to get two wins already with Blake Bortles starting. Jackson still has issues throwing the ball, but is a dynamic runner. The Jaguars can have a great ground attack with him and Leonard Fournette leading the way. The key will be keeping defenses honest by completing just enough passes.

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

Joe Flacco needs someone legitimate to throw to on a consistent basis. Kirk has some big play ability and demonstrated that against Arkansas with 110 receiving yards and 136 kick off return yards. He will be tested in the coming weeks against good secondaries in the SEC.

18. Buffalo Bills- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

The Bills could use some help on the interior of the defensive line. Sean McDermott has criticized Marcel Dareus and Kyle Williams is aging. Payne will likely go earlier than this once the quarterbacks separate themselves more, because he makes freakish plays for a defensive tackle.

19. Washington Redskins- James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

This is all assuming that Kirk Cousins is back again to quarterback the Washington Redskins. They don’t have a lot of weak areas on their team, but could use a wide receiver if Terelle Pryor leaves in free agency. Washington has been making big plays for years at Oklahoma State and could compliment Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder well.

20. Carolina Panthers- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Carolina needs to improve the left tackle position because Matt Kalil isn’t getting the job done. Brown has NFL bloodlines and a big body.  He needs to prove that he has the athleticism and speed to deal with the fast pass rushers in the NFL. If he can do that, he can see himself move up draft boards.

21. Detroit Lions- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

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

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

St. Brown has had a hard time getting involved in the Notre Dame offense early, but that is only partially on him. He is a big athletic receiver that looks like he could be more productive in the NFL than he has been in college. Nelso Agholor and Alshon Jeffrey have played well, but Jeffrey is a free agent and Agholor needs to prove he can produce consistently.

23. Tennessee Titans- Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Harold Landry (Photo by bostonglobe.com)

Landry led the FBS in sacks last year and decided to go back to school for his final season. He has gotten off to a slow start with only one sack in four games, but has played some stiff competition. He is likely going to start turning it on now. The Titans need to get after the quarterback more, as they only have five sacks on the season.

24. Minnesota Vikings- Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia

The Vikings can’t rely on Shariff Floyd to stay healthy and need to get a replacement. Thompson was productive last year and has three tackles for loss this season. If he can hold up against some good SEC offensive lines he will deserve this spot in mock drafts.

25. Dallas Cowboys- Dremont Jones, DT, Ohio State 

Dallas seems to have a good pass rush with Demarcus Lawrence stepping up. They need to improve the interior of the defensive line though. Jones offers an athletic defensive tackle prospect that has room to grow.

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

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

27. Pittsburgh Steelers- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

After dumping Ross Cockrell and trading for Joe Haden, the Steelers showed they are willing to shake it up in the secondary. Haden hasn’t played particularly well so far and is aging so a replacement is needed. McFadden provides good value here, but he has to step up with only one pass defended in two games played.

28. Oakland Raiders- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson is a talented inside linebacker and would be an immediate upgrade for the Raiders. He has 17 tackles already on the season and will rack up a lot more in Big 12 play.

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

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

30. New England Patriots- Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Sam Hubbard (Photo by landof10.com)

New England only has six sacks on the season and that has to improve. The retirement of Rob Ninkovich came at a bad time and now they need to replace him. Hubbard was a safety in high school and has the necessary athleticism to be a good speed rusher in the NFL.

31. Atlanta Falcons- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Desmond Trufant is a good corner, but the Falcons need more if they are going to stop some of the best offenses in the NFC. Davis will have a chance to go against Ridley at the end of the season, which is a must-watch matchup.

32. Buffalo Bills (Via KC)- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

The Bills right side of the offensive line is bad. Really, the only good lineman they have right now is Richie Incognito, so that needs to be fixed. Hyatt will be able to compete for a starting job early on in his career and already has a National Championship under his belt.

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College football preseason 2017 top 25: 25-21

The college football season is about a month and a half away and it can’t come soon enough. As rosters are finally completed with transfers (thank you Malik Zaire) and spring ball all wrapped up, it’s time to look forward to the fall. Who will be the top 25 teams in college football this season?

25. Kansas State Wildcats

Bill Snyder is back for another season as the head man of Kansas State. He had his youngest team ever last season and still finished 9-4. This year should show improvements for the Wildcats, but the record will likely be similar. They will grind out games in typical Snyder fashion.

College football preseason 2017 top 25: 25-21

Byron Pringle

Jesse Ertz will be back to lead the offense at quarterback with his dual-threat abilities. He led the Wildcats in both rushing and passing last year and looks like he will do the same this season.

A few running backs will get a chance to help him out on the ground, including Alex Barnes and Justin Silmon. Byron Pringle and Dominique Heath are good wide receivers on the outside, and will have to make the most of their opportunities, as Ertz only threw for 1,755 yards last season.

The bulk of the offensive line is back including center Reid Najvar and tackles Scott Frantz and Dalton Risner, which should help create more than the 32.2 points per game last year.

Defensively, the Wildcats will have to replace the pass-rushing ability of Jordan Willis, who is off to the NFL, but they do return the other three starters from the defensive line. They help make this defense great at stopping the run which ranked 11th in the country.

The linebackers will be all new starters this year, but keep an eye on Da’Quan Patton who was one of the best JUCO linebackers last season.

Three out of four starters from the secondary return to a unit that needs to improve from its 114th ranking against the pass a year ago.

With an easier non-conference schedule this season, the Wildcats should be undefeated heading into conference play. Their big games at home will be TCU, Oklahoma and West Virginia, while they will be on the road to face Texas and Oklahoma State. With these games posing problems, Kansas State should be able to get out of the regular season with a maximum of four losses by grinding out games and winning the turnover battle.

24. Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern had a solid 7-6 season last year that was capped off with a win over Pittsburgh in the Pinstripe Bowl. This season they return a lot of key players that should help them compete for the Big Ten West.

College football preseason 2017 top 25: 25-21

Justin Jackson (Photo by: Chicago Tribune)

The backfield is stacked with talent for the Wildcats, featuring three-year starter Clayton Thorson at quarterback and the man who will likely be the school’s all-time leading rusher at year’s end, Justin Jackson at running back. Both can run the ball really well and Thorson improved significantly as a passer from his freshman to his sophomore year. With his natural progression he can make Northwestern’s scoring offense one of the best in the Big Ten.

Four starters return on the offensive line, but they will need to replace Big Ten leading receiver Austin Carr from last year’s squad.

Defensively the Wildcats are best in the secondary, with Godwin Igwebuike and Kyle Quiero, who are two of their best players and are paired with two other returning starters.

They lose Anthony Walker from their linebacking core, but feature a lot of capable replacements. There isn’t much depth on the defensive front, but their starters are solid. The defense lost its best player in Walker, but there is no reason why they should take a step back this year after ranking 24th in the country in scoring defense.

The schedule matches up favorably for Northwestern. They travel to Wisconsin and play Penn State at home in back to back games, but the rest of the games on their schedule should be manageable. The Wildcats will be going to a bowl game and expect at a very minimum eight wins.

23. Washington State Cougars

Winning the Holiday Bowl would have been a nice way to cap off the season, but the Cougars fell to Minnesota to finish with an 8-5 record. Mike Leach got the team rolling and won all eight games in a row, including seven of them being in conference. Washington State got the most important player to return to school for one more year, which will give them another solid season.

College football preseason 2017 top 25: 25-21

Luke Falk (Photo by: seattletimes.com)

Luke Falk could’ve gone to the NFL Draft, but elected to come back to Pullman for his senior season. Falk has two-straight 4,000-yard passing seasons and has a touchdown to interceptions ratio of over three to one. He will have another big year, even though he loses key receivers River Cracraft and Gabe Marks.

Multiple wide receivers are capable of stepping up, but Tavares Martin Jr. is the big play guy. Three returning starters on the offensive line will help protect Falk and the Cougars are also very deep at running back.

Last season, Washington State ranked in the top half of the country in scoring defense, and with that offense humming that’s all they really have to do to make the team successful.

The passing defense is awful and they lost Shalom Luani which hurts. They do return four starters from the secondary, two linebackers and two defensive linemen. Peyton Pelluer is a great linebacker who brings back a lot of experience with 233 career tackles. They will need the secondary and pass rush to get a lot better to be a successful defense.

Washington State has it’s fair share of tough games in 2017 including: Boise State, USC, Stanford and at Washington. Having three of those key games at home is a huge boost to the Cougars. They should be able to beat Boise State at the very least. Getting USC in the crossover game is tough, but Washington State could max out at 10 wins or bottom out with eight, assuming they don’t lose to an FCS opponent for the third year in a row.

22. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

There is no doubt that Brian Kelly’s seat is hot after finishing 4-8 last season. He brought in new coordinators so now the onus is totally on him. No Notre Dame team should ever go 4-8, especially given their schedule. A lot of players need to step up this season, but the talent is there.

College football preseason 2017 top 25: 25-21

Equanimeous St. Brown (Photo by: usatoday.com)

Notre Dame will be breaking in a new quarterback in Brandon Wimbush. He was a highly-touted recruit, but he didn’t play well in the spring game. The key for Wimbush’s development is the great offensive line he has in front of him. Four of the linemen are returning starters and two, Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, could have been drafted very early in the 2016 NFL Draft.

A lot of the wide receivers are inexperienced, but Equanimeous St. Brown (along with being one of the coolest names in college football) is blossoming into a star. Durham Smythe and Alize Mack (formerly Alize Jones), provide good targets at tight end.

Running the ball is a versatile player who is capable of running and catching out of the backfield, Josh Adams.

The Fighting Irish have been decimated with injuries the past few seasons on the defensive side of the ball and don’t return many starters. The good news is that a lot of players have gotten experience over the last few years. The bad news is they didn’t play particularly well.

This season they need to get better at stopping the run. Nose tackle Jerry Tillery and linebacker Nyles Morgan will do what they can, but will need help. The secondary and defensive lines are shaky overall, but the linebackers are talented and will have to lead the team.

As always, Notre Dame does have some marquee games this season. They host Georgia and USC and travel to Miami and Stanford. Other games on the schedule are tricky, but those are the bigger games. Their matchup with Georgia in week two will let everyone know if the Fighting Irish are bouncing back or not. Notre Dame should win eight games during the regular season and if they don’t Kelly likely won’t be on the sidelines anymore.

21. Virginia Tech Hokies

Justin Fuente rejuvenated the Hokies last year and got them a 10 win season after they defeated Arkansas in the Belk Bowl. They lost some key players, but with Fuente, Virginia Tech will be able to figure it out.

College football preseason 2017 top 25: 25-21

Tremaine Edmunds (Photo courtesy: athlonsports.com)

Jerod Evans surprisingly left for the NFL Draft and went undrafted, so the Hokies will likely turn to Josh Jackson, who has great playmaking ability. Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges also left school early, but Cam Phillips will be a great target for Jackson. Other receivers need to produce as well.

Travon McMillan saw his production slip during his sophomore season, but is a solid running back and should have a good junior season. Three returning offensive linemen will help the Hokies move the chains.

The defensive front has one starter returning in Viny Mihota, but the back seven brings back a lot of experience. Their secondary should be one of the best in the country with Terrell Edmunds, Brandon Facyson and Greg Stroman. Tremaine Edmunds will stand out as the best linebacker in the ACC. Virginia Tech was good on defense last year, but should be able to take it to another level in 2017.

The schedule shouldn’t be too rough on the Hokies, but they do have a few big games. They play a neutral site game against West Virginia, Clemson at home, at Miami, at Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech should be able to win most of those games. The Hokies can win anywhere between nine and 11 games in the regular season and can get back to the ACC Championship Game.

 

Featured image: mysanantonio.com

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Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Guards and centers

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

Mason Cole, Michigan

Mason Cole NFL

Mason Cole (Photo by: mlive.com)

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

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

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

Will Clapp, LSU

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

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

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

Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

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

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

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

Billy Price, Ohio State

Billy Price NFL

Billy Price (Photo by: landof10.com)

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

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

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

 

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Is it Time for Notre Dame to Fire Brian Kelly?

Brian Kelly has taken a Notre Dame program that was down and led them to a National Championship game. Unfortunately, he has also led the Fighting Irish full circle, as they finished 4-8 last season. That isn’t the only reason that Kelly is catching heat right now, but is it too soon to consider firing a coach that took a team to a National Championship just five years ago?

The Wins and Losses

In his seven years as Notre Dame’s coach, Kelly has posted a 59-31 record. This makes his winning percentage 65.6 percent, which ranks 18th in Fighting Irish history. At most schools, this would be a good record, but at a school that has the history and pageantry of Notre Dame, that’s not good enough. He was given some leeway because he made the team better, but it seems they are trending back downward.

Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly with Nick Saban (Photo by: cleveland.com)

The height of his success was a thrilling 12-0 regular season in 2012, which resulted in an appearance in the 2013 National Championship game. They ended up getting killed by the Alabama Crimson Tide, 42-14.

What stands out for Kelly is that he only has two ten-win seasons in his seven years, a trend that will likely continue this season. With multiple eight-win seasons and a four-win season, Kelly has to turn it around to save himself.

There is a lot of turnover from last year’s team to the team that will take the field against Temple on the opening weekend of college football. The good news for Kelly is that the offensive line should be great with Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson returning to school. While it may be a tall order, if Kelly doesn’t get at least eight wins, he might get fired.

Off The Field

The win-loss record isn’t great, but issues surrounding the team will also play a factor in the decision to let him go if it comes to that point. Some of this actually affects the on the field results, as 21 wins have been vacated (not demonstrated in earlier statistics). The 21 wins had to be forfeited due to academic misconduct by eight players.

There have been numerous cases of players being suspended for academic issues, arrests, DUIs and other transgressions under Kelly’s tenure. These incidents are something that give a black eye to the university that prides itself on molding players into better people. While a coach shouldn’t be responsible for every bad thing his players do, at some point enough is enough. One more incident like this could put the boosters over the edge to get rid of Kelly.

While these incidents surely aren’t great, the worst thing that has happened has been the death of Declan Sullivan. Sullivan was a junior manager who died when a scissor lift collapsed while he was video taping practice. It was a windy day when this happened and the head football coach should have moved practice indoors or scrap the video taping of practice from a lift.

The report found that Notre Dame was at fault and that the staff was negligent about wind conditions and how they affected lifts. If Kelly truly was negligent and didn’t know that 50-60 mile per hour winds can knock things over, he isn’t fit to be the coach at Notre Dame.

Attitude and Responsibility

Another thing that has been turning people off of Brian Kelly is his demeanor. It is very common to see him chewing out a player on the sidelines. Other coaches do this too and are good disciplinarian coaches, but Kelly has no limits and seemingly does it more than any other coach in America.

Brian Kelly Fired

Photo by: athlonsports.com

During interviews he very rarely takes the blame for a loss and usually finds a way to throw his players under the bus. He even said after the loss to Duke last season that he felt good about the coaching. Kelly decided to make all positions open for competition. Later that week defensive coordinator Brian Vangorder was fired.

This criticism for players, while taking no blame on himself, doesn’t just last while the players are at school. He recently said DeShone Kizer wasn’t ready for the NFL, even saying he has maturing to do. Whether he agrees or not with Kizer’s decisions, it definitely didn’t help Kizer’s draft stock.

So the question becomes why say anything like that? The best case scenario for saying that is that Kelly is right. The worst case scenario is that it hurt Kizer’s draft stock. At a time in a player’s life when the former coach should be supporting and selling that player to pro teams, Kelly couldn’t resist the urge to criticize Kizer one last time.

Conclusion

A lot has to be weighing on Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick’s mind as he goes into this season. He has a good coach with some issues. The saying that “winning cures everything” might be true at other places, but Notre Dame is supposed to hold themselves to a higher standard than most places.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Kelly will be the coach to start the 2017 college football season. He likely won’t be fired for his and the program’s off field issues, because he’s already been given a long leash. The decision will be made on wins and losses and if the Irish don’t win at least eight games in the regular season, it’s time for the Fighting Irish to move on from Brian Kelly.

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