2018 NFL Mock Draft January 19

All but four teams  now know where they are drafting. Teams are looking to rebuild and get to the playoffs for the seasons to come. Here is the latest 2018 NFL Mock Draft:

1. Cleveland Browns-Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Rosen has had to carry UCLA this season and ended up having a successful season. He needed to have a good season to clear up any doubts about his shoulder injury his sophomore year. The Browns have a new GM, who has no allegiances to anyone on the roster, which means DeShone Kizer is likely done as quarterback.

2. New York Giants- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Giants still need a head coach, so it’s hard to figure out what they will do. Maybe Eli Manning can mentor Sam Darnold for a year. Darnold struggled this season with his decision-making which led to a lot of turnovers. He also has a flawed throwing motion. Some have Darnold much higher in mock drafts, but his decision-making won’t get too much better in the NFL.

3. Indianapolis Colts- Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Bradley Chubb (Photo by fanragsports.com)

Indianapolis also doesn’t have a coach yet, but most importantly don’t have Andrew Luck healthy. When he is back, the offense will figure itself out. They can improve the defense to make the team more complete when Luck comes back. Chubb is a great pass rusher who has 10 sacks in each of the past two seasons.

4. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Barkley is one of the most complete running backs to ever come out of college and might be the best player in the entire class. The Browns tried to improve the defense in last year’s class, but now need to focus on the offense. With Rosen, a good offensive line and now Barkley, the offense should improve.

5. Denver Broncos- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

While Allen certainly has flaws in his decision-making and accuracy, he does have a strong arm and is athletic. John Elway went to Idaho to watch him in his bowl game personally. The Broncos have a solid roster, but just need a quarterback to lead the team.

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

The Jets had a better season than anyone expected and now just need a quarterback to take them to the next level. Some people are questioning whether Jackson can play quarterback, but he showed improved accuracy this season and is a dynamic playmaker. He should be given a shot to play the position in the NFL and the Jets could use his talents.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

Tampa Bay’s defensive line isn’t as good as it once was and they need some pass rushing help. Key only played eight games this season and had four sacks, but has proven in the past to be a good speed rusher.

8. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The Bears have some nice young pieces in Trubisky and Howard, but now need to get a weapon at wide receiver. Ridley is the best route-runner in the class and produces even without the best quarterback play.

9. San Francisco 49ers- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Ward is the best cover corner in the draft. He had to really make his way this season, as he had to sit and wait his turn to get playing time. The 49ers got their defensive lineman and linebacker in the first round last year and can now get a good secondary player to go along with them.

10. Oakland Raiders- Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Oakland really needs to improve the interior of their defensive line and their defense in general. Vea can play both defensive tackle and nose tackle, which is valuable. He has great size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds.

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Quenton Nelson (Photo by onefootdown.com)

Adam Gase has said that Ryan Tannehill is the starting quarterback. There are other holes on the team, but they need to have better offensive line play if they are going to be successful. Nelson is one of the best players in the class and will be drafted early despite playing a position that doesn’t usually get talked about this soon.

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

The Bengals were able to go 7-9 with a terrible offensive line. They need help at just about every position and can start with tackles. They have taken tackles before in the first round, but they haven’t panned out. McGlinchey would’ve been a first round pick last year and the Bengals can get good value and fill a need with this pick.

13. Washington Redskins- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

Last draft, the Redskins got good value in Jonathan Allen and can do so again with Fitzpatrick. He likely fits in best as a safety in the NFL, but can also play corner. Fitzpatrick can play next to D.J. Swearinger next season.

14. Green Bay Packers- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson turned into an All-American corner at Iowa this season and has shown the ability to make acrobatic interceptions. The Packers need to improve the secondary and make the defense better for when Aaron Rodgers gets the offense going again.

15. Arizona Cardinals- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Cardinals have to find a new quarterback now that Carson Palmer is retired. Baker has defied all the critics who have mentioned his size as a reason not to draft him. He can make all the throws and is athletic to avoid pass rushers.

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

The Ravens’ defense is really good, but the offense needs some work. Mike Wallace, Breshard Perriman and Jeremy Maclin aren’t cutting it for the Ravens. Kirk is dynamic when he has the ball in his hands and can play in the slot or on the outside.

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

James’ stock is falling, but teams will fall back in love with him again throughout the next few months leading to the draft. He is athletic, but doesn’t necessarily have a set position. The Chargers can use the help at safety and James would be a great addition.

18. Seattle Seahawks- Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

Reports have come out that it will be tough for Cliff Avril to play football again and Michael Bennett has said that he doesn’t think he’ll be back in Seattle. Davenport isn’t a household name because he played at UTSA, but he’s a good pass rusherwho fills a need.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Da’Ron Payne (Photo by bleacherreport)

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

The Cowboys are seemingly always weak up the middle of their defense. Shutting down their opponents’ running game would allow them to control the clock like they love to do. Payne’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he often gets double teamed.

20. Detroit Lions- Billy Price, OG/C

Detroit hasn’t had a solid running game in Matthew Stafford’s tenure as quarterback. Some more balance on offense would make it even better. They may be able to achieve this if they improve the offensive line. Price has tons of experience at guard and center for Ohio State and will start right away.

21. Buffalo Bills- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith is the best linebacker in college football and does a little bit of everything well. His game is fueled by his speed. The Bills are thin at linebacker and Smith is a day one starter.

22. Buffalo Bills- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Davis is a lengthy corner for Auburn, who has withstood a lot of good SEC competition. The Bills took Tre’Davious White last year and will likely want to get another corner to pair with him.

23. Los Angeles Rams- Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State

Los Angeles has good inside pressure in Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers, but need better outside pass rushers. Hubbard will not only provide that, but is also one of the best run-stopping defensive ends in the class.

24. Carolina Panthers- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

The Panthers signed Julius Peppers, but he won’t last much longer and they aren’t very deep at defensive end. Landry had a great 2016 season that put him on the map and followed it up with a solid season this year.

25. Tennessee Titans- Justin Reid, S, Stanford

Johnathan Cyprien has been bad for the Titans this year, in one of their lone weak spots on the roster. Reid took a huge leap this season in terms of production and has put himself on the map for a first round selection.

26. Atlanta Falcons- Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

Jackson has the potential to develop into a great cover corner. Atlanta needs another corner to pair with Desmond Trufant and should try to take one early.

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

The Saints need to plan for the end of Drew Brees’ career sooner rather than later. Not everyone likes Rudolph, but he has a lot of experience and quite possibly the best deep ball in the class.

2018 NFL Mock Draft January 19

Ronnie Harrison (Photo by al.com)

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Harrison is a good strong safety prospect, who plays physically. Despite being known for all of their great safeties throughout their history, the Steelers are very bad at the position right now.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Jacksonville has talented young receivers, but due to injury have been spread thin at the position. Sutton is a bigger receiver who has put up big numbers in the AAC. As a team with not too many needs, the Jaguars can afford to spend this pick on a receiver.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

The Vikings’ offensive line is much better than last year, but can still be improved. With a good offense and defense, they don’t have too many needs. Brown has great size for an offensive tackle and his father played in the NFL.

31. Philadelphia Eagles- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Another team that doesn’t have too many needs is the Eagles. They could use another linebacker for depth and a future starter. Jefferson was a highly-touted recruit that hasn’t reached his potential yet.

32. New England Patriots- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

The Patriots’ defense needs to be revamped. Edmunds is a linebacker who can do it all. He rushes the passer, covers and helps to stop the run.

 

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2018 NFL Mock Draft January 5

The teams that did not qualify for the playoffs now know where they are drafting. Teams are looking to rebuild and get to the playoffs for the seasons to come. Here is the latest 2018 NFL Mock Draft :

1. Cleveland Browns-Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Rosen has had to carry UCLA this season and ended up having a successful season. He needed to have a good season to clear up any doubts about his shoulder injury his sophomore year. The Browns have a new GM, who has no allegiances to anyone on the roster, which means DeShone Kizer is likely done as quarterback.

2. New York Giants- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The Giants still need a head coach, so it’s hard to figure out what they will do. Eli Manning is probably gone and they have somewhat of a talented roster, so taking a quarterback might be the call. Jackson is a great athlete that makes plays with his legs, but has to prove he can pass at an NFL level.

3. Indianapolis Colts- Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. Stat

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Bradley Chubb (Photo by fanragsports.com)

Indianapolis also doesn’t have a coach yet, but most importantly don’t have Andrew Luck healthy. When he is back, the offense will figure itself out. They can improve the defense to make the team more complete when Luck comes back. Chubb is a great pass rusher who has 10 sacks in each of the past two seasons.

4. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Barkley is one of the most complete running backs to ever come out of college and might be the best player in the entire class. The Browns tried to improve the defense in last year’s class, but now need to focus on the offense. With Rosen, a good offensive line and now Barkley, the offense should improve.

5. Denver Broncos- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

While Allen certainly has flaws in his decision-making and accuracy, he does have a strong arm and is athletic. John Elway went to Idaho to watch him in his bowl game personally. The Broncos have a solid roster, but just need a quarterback to lead the team.

6. New York Jets- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Baker has defied all the critics who have mentioned his size as a reason not to draft him. He can make all the throws and is athletic to avoid pass rushers. The Jets had a better season than anyone expected and now just need a quarterback to take them to the next level.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

Tampa Bay’s defensive line isn’t as good as it once was and they need some pass rushing help. Key only played eight games this season and had four sacks, but has proven in the past to be a good speed rusher.

8. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The Bears have some nice young pieces in Trubisky and Howard, but now need to get a weapon at wide receiver. Ridley is the best route-runner in the class and produces even without the best quarterback play.

9. San Francisco 49ers- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Ward is the best cover corner in the draft. He had to really make his way this season, as he had to sit and wait his turn to get playing time. The 49ers got their defensive lineman and linebacker in the first round last year and can now get a good secondary player to go along with them.

10. Oakland Raiders- Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Oakland really needs to improve the interior of their defensive line and their defense in general. Vea can play both defensive tackle and nose tackle, which is valuable. He has great size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds.

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

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Quenton Nelson (Photo by onefootdown.com)

Adam Gase has said that Ryan Tannehill is the starting quarterback. There are other holes on the team, but they need to have better offensive line play if they are going to be successful. Nelson is one of the best players in the class and will be drafted early despite playing a position that doesn’t usually get talked about this soon.

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

The Bengals were able to go 7-9 with a terrible offensive line. They need help at just about every position and can start with tackles. They have taken tackles before in the first round, but they haven’t panned out. McGlinchey would’ve been a first round pick last year and the Bengals can get good value and fill a need with this pick.

13. Washington Redskins- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

Last draft, the Redskins got good value in Jonathan Allen and can do so again with Fitzpatrick. He likely fits in best as a safety in the NFL, but can also play corner. Fitzpatrick can play next to D.J. Swearinger next season.

14. Green Bay Packers- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson turned into an All-American corner at Iowa this season and has shown the ability to make acrobatic interceptions. The Packers need to improve the secondary and make the defense better for when Aaron Rodgers gets the offense going again.

15. Arizona Cardinals- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Darnold struggled this season with his decision-making which led to a lot of turnovers. He also has a flawed throwing motion.  Some have Darnold much higher in mock drafts, but his decision-making won’t get too much better in the NFL. The Cardinals have to find a new quarterback now that Carson Palmer is retired.

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

The Ravens’ defense is really good, but the offense needs some work. Mike Wallace, Breshard Perriman and Jeremy Maclin aren’t cutting it for the Ravens. Kirk is dynamic when he has the ball in his hands and can play in the slot or on the outside.

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

James’ stock is falling, but teams will fall back in love with him again throughout the next few months leading to the draft. He is athletic, but doesn’t necessarily have a set position. The Chargers can use the help at safety and James would be a great addition.

18. Seattle Seahawks- Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Reports have come out that it will be tough for Cliff Avril to play football again and Michael Bennett has said that he doesn’t think he’ll be back in Seattle. Ferrell is a good pass rusher who could help start the rebuilding process for the Seahawks.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Da’Ron Payne (Photo by bleacherreport)

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

The Cowboys are seemingly always weak up the middle of their defense. Shutting down their opponents’ running game would allow them to control the clock like they love to do. Payne’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he often gets double teamed.

20. Detroit Lions- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Wilkins is a good interior pass rusher, but isn’t as good of a run stopper as the other defensive tackles who were higher in this mock draft. Akeem Spence is having a decent year, but that likely won’t continue.

21. Buffalo Bills- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith is the best linebacker in college football and does a little bit of everything well. His game is fueled by his speed. The Bills are thin at linebacker and Smith is a day one starter.

22. Atlanta Falcons- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Davis is a lengthy corner for Auburn, who has withstood a lot of good SEC competition. Atlanta needs a corner to pair with Desmond Trufant.

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

Tennessee could use some help at pass rusher now because they have focused so much on improving the offense over the last several years. Landry had a great 2016 season that put him on the map and followed it up with a solid season this year.

24. Carolina Panthers- Austin Bryant, DE/OLB, Clemson

Although he is inconsistent from game to game, Bryant is a good pass rusher that can heat up in a hurry. The Panthers signed Julius Peppers, but he won’t last much longer and they aren’t very deep at defensive end.

25. Buffalo Bills (Via KC)- Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

The Bills had luck taking an LSU corner last year in Tre’Davious White and may try to get another. Jackson has a lot of similar traits to White and can develop into a great cover corner.

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

The Saints need to plan for the end of Drew Brees’ career sooner rather than later. Not everyone likes Rudolph, but he has a lot of experience and quite possibly the best deep ball in the class.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Jacksonville has talented young receivers, but due to injury have been spread thin at the position. Sutton is a bigger receiver who has put up big numbers in the AAC. As a team with not too many needs, the Jaguars can afford to spend this pick on a receiver.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Sam Hubbard (Photo by si.com)

28. Los Angeles Rams- Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State

Los Angeles has good inside pressure in Aaron Donald and Sam Hubbard, but need better outside pass rushers. Hubbard will not only provide that, but is also one of the best run-stopping defensive ends in the class.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Harrison is a good strong safety prospect, who plays physically. Despite being known for all of their great safeties throughout their history, the Steelers are very bad at the position right now.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

The Vikings’ offensive line is much better than last year, but can still be improved. With a good offense and defense, they don’t have too many needs. Brown has great size for an offensive tackle and his father played in the NFL.

31. Philadelphia Eagles- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Another team that doesn’t have too many needs is the Eagles. They could use another linebacker for depth and a future starter. Jefferson was a highly-touted recruit that hasn’t reached his potential yet.

32. New England Patriots- Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

Davenport has been shooting up draft boards recently due to his crazy measurables and production. He may get selected higher than this, but the Patriots always find a way to get players at a good value.

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Cotton Bowl

This may not be a College Football Playoff game, but the 2017 Cotton Bowl has some really good players in it. With Ohio State and USC matching up, it should be a good game and a foreshadowing of what some players can do at the NFL level. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Cotton Bowl:

USC Trojans

Sam Darnold, QB

Darnold was the projected top pick before the season started, but had issues turning the ball over early in the season. He has 12 interceptions, with six coming in the first three games. The sophomore redshirt has also had issues fumbling the ball. He has rebounded well for a solid season with 3,787 passing yards and 26 touchdowns on 63.7% completion.

He is the prototypical size for an NFL quarterback at 6’4″ and 220 pounds. Darnold has the arm strength and accuracy to make any throw, but has trouble with decision-making. If a good NFL coach gets him on his team, he can work out the kinks.

Projected draft range: Top 15 pick

Ronald Jones III, RB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Cotton Bowl

Ronald Jones (Photo by dailynews.com)

Jones has been the best running back USC has had since Reggie Bush. The junior has 3,555 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns on the ground. He is overshadowed by Darnold, but Jones is a great running back. This season he has 1,486 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

At 6’0″ and 200 pounds, Jones can be an every down back in the NFL. He doesn’t have the most experience catching the ball out of the backfield, but he can do a lot of things when the ball is in his hands.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Porter Gustin, DE/OLB

Gustin is doubtful for this game with a toe injury, but is a good prospect. He has experience playing defensive end and linebacker. The junior has only been able to play four games this season, but last year he was dynamic. In 2016 he had 68 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

He has the size of an NFL pass rusher at 6’5″ and 255 pounds. The most sacks he had in a season was 5.5, so there will be some concerns about his pass rushing ability.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Other notable USC players: LB Cameron Smith (3rd round-5th round), DE/DT Rasheem Green (3rd round-5th round), DE Uchenna Nwosu (3rd round-5th round), G Viane Talamaivao (5th round-7th round)

Ohio State Buckeyes

Denzel Ward, CB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Cotton Bowl

Denzel Ward (Photo by ohiostatebuckeyes.com)

Ward started off the season with a bad start against Indiana, but has been great ever since. The junior has two interceptions and 15 pass break ups this season. With the more playing team he gets, the more he produces. Ward has shut down some pretty good wide receivers in the Big Ten over the last three seasons.

At 5’10” and 191 pounds, he is a little undersized, but has proven to be able to match up with bigger receivers. He has speed, athleticism and ball skills which will help him get drafted early in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Sam Hubbard, DE

Hubbard has great athleticism for a defensive end and even played safety in high school. He has 26.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks in his three years at Ohio State. While he is solid at rushing the passer, Hubbard is one of the best defensive ends at stopping the run.

It is weird to think that a 6’5″ and 265 pound defensive end played safety in high school, but with more time to learn his position, Hubbard could turn into a star. He is limited to playing 4-3 defensive end, but is a good prospect.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Parris Campbell, WR

Campbell has been the best receiver for Ohio State. At times he can be inconsistent, but that isn’t entirely his fault. This season he has totaled 576 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Ohio State has given him some experience running the ball out of the backfield as well.

He is 6’1″ and 208 pounds, which is good enough for the NFL. His production isn’t great, but in Ohio State’s system players often don’t reach their full potential while in college.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Other notable Ohio State players: G/C Billy Price (1st round-2nd round), OT Jamarco Jone (2nd round-4th round), LB Jerome Baker (2nd round-4th round), DT Dremont Jones (2nd round-4th round), S Damon Webb (3rd round-5th round), QB J.T. Barrett (6th round-undrafted free agent)

 

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2017 Cotton Bowl preview

The two winners of the power five conferences that did not make the College Football Playoff will play in the 2017 Cotton Bowl. These teams have played a lot historically, with USC leading the all-time series with a 12-9-1 record. It should be another good one in Dallas. Here is the 2017 Cotton Bowl preview:

USC Trojans (11-2)

2017 Cotton Bowl preview

Sam Darnold (Photo by nj.com)

USC was a trendy pick to make the College Football Playoff, but ended up not being able to live up to expectations. They still won the Pac-12 and got to ten wins, while beating seven different bowl eligible teams. The Trojans lost a close game to Washington State and got blown out by Notre Dame, which cost them their chances to play in the CFP.

The offense has some future NFL players on the unit and score 34.5 points per game. Ronald Jones II and the running game are a huge part of that and average 194.9 yards a game. Jones II has 1,486 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns on the season. He is often overlooked because he plays next to Sam Darnold, but is a star in his own right.

Darnold was thought to be the first overall pick, but struggled early on in the season. He has since rebounded and finished well. He has 3,787 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on 63.7% completion. After throwing six interceptions in the first three games of the season, Darnold has only thrown six the rest of the season. Deontay Burnett has 74 catches for 974 yards and nine touchdowns to lead the team Other receivers have produced, but will need to step up against Ohio State.

Their defense is average, allowing 26.3 points per game. They rank 56th against the run and 97th against the pass. Defensive linemen Christian Rector and Rasheem Green have created a good pass rushing duo. Rector has 7.5 sacks, while Green has nine. Corner Jack Jones leads the team with four interception. There is talent on the defensive side of the ball, but they are going to be put to the test against Ohio State.

Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2)

2017 Cotton Bowl preview

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

The Buckeyes thought they should have been in the CFP over Alabama, but a loss at Iowa held them back. Other than the loss to Iowa, their only other loss was to Oklahoma. They do have quality wins over Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin on their resume.

Offensively they have stepped up this season by scoring 42.5 points per game. They do have struggles at times, but overall they have had a good year. The Buckeyes do a lot of damage on the ground with 249.4 rushing yards per game, which ranks 15th in the country. J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber and quarterback J.T. Barrett create a three headed rushing attack behind Rimington Award-winning center Billy Price. Dobbins has 1,364 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, while Weber has 608 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Barrett makes the offense dynamic with his running ability with 732 rushing yards and 10 toucdhowns.

Throwing the ball hasn’t been the most consistent thing for Barrett, but he is a very experienced starter. He has 2,939 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 64.7% completion. Barrett threw four interceptions in the loss to Iowa, but otherwise has played well for most of the season. They spread the ball around with eight receivers having over 200 receiving yards. Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill are the top receivers with over 500 receiving yards and three touchdowns a piece.

The defense has been really good this season, allowing 19.9 points per game. They rank eighth against the run and 20th against the pass. Their defensive line is one of the best in the country and has helped the Buckeyes get 37 sacks on the year. Nick Bosa, Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis all are excellent pass rushers that are hard to deal with.

Prediction

Ohio State’s offense will be able to run the ball on USC and will throw to keep them off balance. Darnold has been doing better at protecting the ball, but will be pressured into making mistakes by the Buckeyes’ defensive front.

Ohio State Buckeyes 41 USC Trojans 34

 

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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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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: 5-1

The college football season is about a week away and even the things that most fans take for granted can’t come soon enough. Good guard play, a gunslinger quarterback, hook and ladders and craziness are all things that need to happen sooner rather than later. The rest of the rankings are out and we are down to the top five teams, who will all be trying to make the college football playoff.

For the last installment of the rankings: click here.

5. Penn State Nittany Lions

College football top 25

Saquon Barkley (Photo by youtube.com)

Penn State surprised everyone by going 11-3 and making the Rose Bowl in James Franklin’s third season as the head coach. The good news for the Nittany lions is that they return 16 starters from that team and should be a force in the Big Ten again this season.

Saquon Barkley is one of the best players in college football and returns at running back. He totaled 1,496 rushing yards last year and will produce again this season. Four of his offensive linemen return to help pave the way for him. With that, Barkley should be in the thick of the Heisman race if he can have some big games against good competition.

The quarterback position is filled by Trace McSorley, who was a catalyst to taking their team to the Rose Bowl last season. He threw for 3,614 yards, 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2016, but will need to improve his efficiency. He also provides an extra running threat for Penn State. He has plenty of good targets returning in DaeSean Hamilton, Saeed Blacknall and Mike Gesicki. Gesicki is one of the best tight ends in the country.

On defense, Penn State returns seven starters and brings a little experience back at every level of the defense. Two new starters will be needed at defensive end, but Parker Cothren and Curtis Cothran return at defensive tackle. They will be tasked with stopping the run, which they did at an average rate last season.

Jason Cabinda thought about leaving for the NFL draft, but elected to return for his senior season. He is a great linebacker, who will lead the defense this season. Marcus Allen, a safety, also considered leaving early for the NFL, but came back and is the leading returning tackler. With Grant Haley and John Reid returning at the corners, Penn State’s defense should improve this season.

Penn State plays in one of the toughest divisions in all of college football, the Big Ten East, which results in a tough schedule. In all, their tough games will be against Pittsburgh, Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska. While the schedule does have some tough opponents on it, the Nittany Lions should be able to get through the regular season with only a loss or two and put themselves in the conversation for the College Football Playoff.

4. Washington Huskies

College football top 25

Jake Browning (photo by si.com)

The third year at a school must provide some magic, because Chris Petersen took Washington to the College Football Playoff in just his third season as the head coach. Although they lost to Alabama, they have a lot of talent returning this season, which could result in them getting back to the College Football Playoff this season.

Jake Browning is back at quarterback and should have gotten more consideration for the Heisman last season. He threw for 3,430 yards and 43 touchdowns. While John Ross is on to the NFL, Dante Pettis is a good receiver in his own right and will step up. The speedster Chico MClatcher also returns to provide a unique weapon for Browning.

Three offensive line starters return from last year’s team and should be a good unit. Behind them, Myles Gaskin was able to rush for 1,373 yards and 10 touchdowns. He will produce again this season, making Washington’s offense multi-faceted and dynamic.

Only five starters return on defense, but a lot of these players have experience. Greg Gaines returns on the defensive front, while Vita Vea has the potential to be a star at nose tackle and had five sacks last season. Azeem Victor and Keishawn Bierria are both talented linebackers who are returning.

The “Death Row” secondary needs to be revamped with the departures of Sidney Jones, Kevin King and Budda Baker. JoJo McIntosh and Taylor Rapp both have experience at safety, while Byron Murphy and Jordan Miller will need to play well at corner. Murphy was redshirted last season after being a solid recruit and should have the tools to be a lock-down corner.

Washington plays no one outside of the Pac-12 that is worth noting, but do play Stanford, Oregon, UCLA, Colorado and Washington State in conference. All in all that is a pretty lousy schedule, which will allow the Huskies to escape with only a loss or two before likely heading to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

College football top 25

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

The Buckeyes were good enough to get to the College Football Playoff last season, but got blown out by Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. Urban Meyer continually loses talent to the NFL, but has 15 returning starters this season. The goal for Ohio State every season should be to get to the College Football Playoff.

J.T. Barrett is back for what seems like his tenth season at Ohio State. He’s a senior now and has completed 63% of his passes over his career for 6,381 passing yards. The problem is that the people he is throwing to don’t have too much experience. Parris Campbell and Marcus Baugh return, but need to step up their production, while others will need to succeed early in their careers.

Four of five offensive linemen return and are a great unit. Billy Price is a good lineman could have gone pro, but decided to stay on for his senior season. Mike Weber will be a sophomore at running back and had a solid freshman season. He finished 2016 with 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns and will build on that this season.

The front four starters all return and features a lot of talent. Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Nick Bosa are all very good players and are fighting for playing time at the defensive end positions. Lewis led them in sacks with eight. Dre’Mont Jones and Michael Hill return at the tackle position.

Jerome Baker and Chris Worley both are back at linebacker. Baker had 83 tackles last season. The only returning starter in the secondary is Damon Webb at safety. The defense was the third best scoring defense in the country last season and will be great again this season.

Oklahoma, Nebraska, Penn State, Iowa and Michigan are all going to be tough games for the Buckeyes. With Urban Meyer as head coach and a talented roster returning, Ohio State should be able to get out of the regular season with at most two losses, but could go undefeated if they reach their potential.

2. Florida State Seminoles

College football top 25

Derwin James (Photo by zimbio.com)

Florida State finished last season at 10-3 and won a thrilling Orange Bowl against Michigan. Jimbo Fisher has a lot of returning talent including some of the best players in all of college football. They have a tough schedule, but should still be able to make the College Football Playoff.

Deondre Francois had a good freshman season, despite bad offensive line play in front of him. He threw for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns. Ryan Izzo returns as a starter at tight end, but no starters are back at wide receiver. Nyquan Murray did have 441 receiving yards and five touchdowns last year and will be the go-to-guy this season.

The offensive line only returns two starters, but that may not be such a bad thing given how poorly they played last season. The hope is that Fisher’s recruiting will pay off. Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers will split time in the backfield for the Seminoles. Patrick is a junior and Akers is one of the best freshman in the country.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Seminoles have a lot of key players that should help them improve immensely. Josh Sweat, Derrick Nnadi and Demarcus Christmas all return on the defensive line, but Brian Burns, who didn’t start last year, comes back with 9.5 sacks. Their front four will make plays all year. The linebackers aren’t as talented as in year’s past, but they do have experience with three starters back from last year’s team.

The secondary always produces NFL-level talent. Derwin James sat out most of last season with an injury, but is back this season. He not only is a great NFL Draft Prospect, but if healthy, could be the best defensive player in college football this season. Tarvarus McFadden returns at corner and will be a high draft pick himself.

Florida State should be a team that has the offense and defense take a small step forward from last season. Their schedule is brutal and will give them challenges. They have games against Alabama, Miami, Louisville, Clemson and Florida. The Seminoles should be able to get out of the regular season with only a loss or two, which should put them in the ACC Championship Game, if things fall their way.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

College football top 25

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Photo by draftblaster.com)

Losing in the National Championship Game has left a sour taste in Alabama’s mouth. Nick Saban is ready to lead his team back to prominence again this season and they will have another great season.

Jalen Hurts led the team to the title game last season and will be attempting to throw the ball better this season. Saban has admitted that he should’ve let Hurts throw more last season and it may have cost them. He did manage to throw for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns. O.J. Howard and ArDarius Stewart are gone, but Calvin Ridley returns. Other playmakers on the outside need to live up to their recruiting ranking this season.

The offensive line has three starters coming back and will be solid again with all the good recruiting Saban does. Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough return at running back to provide an elite one-two punch. Harris is shiftier, while Scarbrough runs with power. They create a great dynamic.

The defense has five starters that are returning for this season, but Alabama always has talented replacements waiting. Da’Ron Payne returns on the defensive line and will be flanked by Da’Shawn Hand and Josh Frazier. All of which will stop the run well. Shaun Dion Hamilton is back in the middle of the defense to patrol things as the next man in line to be Alabama’s top inside linebacker. Rashaan Evans had four sacks last season from his outside linebacker position.

Minkah Fitzpatrick can do anything in the secondary, but will line up safety this year. Ronnie Harrison will be at the other safety and is the leading returning tackler with 86. Anthony Averett and Trevon Diggs will be the corners and will need to prove to Saban, a former defensive backs coach, that they are up to par with previous Alabama secondary players.

Alabama too has a very tough schedule. Their tough games are against Florida State, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn. While predicting anyone to go undefeated in today’s college football is tough, Alabama should be able to get out of the season with a maximum of two losses and a minimum of none. Either way they will be in the SEC Championship Game and will be in contention for the College Football Playoff.

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Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Edge Rushers

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

Bradley Chubb, N.C. State

Bradley Chubb NFL

Bradley Chubb (photo by: rivals.com)

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

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

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

Marcell Frazier, Missouri

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

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

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

Sam Hubbard, Ohio State

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

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

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

Arden Key, LSU

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

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

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

Harold Landry, Boston College

Harold Landry NFL

Harold Landry (Photo by: Bostonglobe.com)

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

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

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

 

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2018 NFL Mock Draft May 6

The 2017 NFL draft has just concluded, but it is never too early to look to next year. Draft picks are ordered by Super Bowl Odds.

1. San Francisco 49ers- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Brian Hoyer isn’t the long term answer for the 49ers and they reached on C.J. Beathard in the 2017 NFL Draft. Allen may be from a small school, but he has legitimate talent. He has the prototypical size for an NFL quarterback at 6’5″ and 222 pounds. Allen will have to prove himself in his big games against Iowa, Oregon and Boise State in the 2017 season.

2. Cleveland Browns- Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama

Joe Haden is aging and the Browns did a great job of addressing the rest of their defense in the 2017 NFL Draft. Fitzpatrick has started since his freshman season and is a very versatile defensive back.

3. Los Angeles Rams- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

If Jared Goff is going to be the long term quarterback, he needs more weapons. Ridley is a good option with 1,814 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in two years at Alabama. He can be a good outside receiver for the Rams, which is not something they currently have.

4. New York Jets- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Darnold needs to improve his mechanics and have a strong second season as USC’s starting quarterback. If he does so, he will be a first rounder with no doubts. The Jets need to get a franchise signal caller and so far, this looks like a good quarterback class coming in.

5. Chicago Bears- Derwin James, S, Florida State

Derwin James NFL

Derwin James (Photo by: si.com)

Quintin Demps has had just one good season as a pro and that shouldn’t be expected to continue. James is an elite athlete at defensive back and will likely go in the top ten in the 2018 NFL Draft if he can stay healthy.

6. Jacksonville Jaguars- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The USC-UCLA game will feature two great quarterbacks. Rosen has been a phenom since his freshman year at UCLA, but last year got his throwing shoulder hurt and even had some nerve damage. He needs to stay healthy and if he is able to, is capable of being the first quarterback selected. If the Jaguars are picking this high, Blake Bortles is out as the starting quarterback.

7. Buffalo Bills- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Wilkins is overlooked because of how many talented players were on Clemson last season, but with a lot of them gone, it is his time to shine. The Bills need to address the defensive line early in this draft. Two first round picks gives them some versatility in this draft.

8. Los Angeles Chargers- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Chargers doubled up on guards in the 2017 NFL Draft, but the tackles could be improved to protect the aging Phillip Rivers. McGlinchey would have gone first round in 2017, but elected to go back to school for one more year.

9. Detroit Lions- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Kirk might end up being the best receiver in this class, but will likely see his stock slide if he doesn’t produce this season with a new quarterback. He is a little shorter than most teams like at 5’11”, but can play on the outside and be a difference maker. The Lions need to upgrade their receiving corps to give Matthew Stafford some more weapons.

10. New Orleans Saints- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

One thing that the Saints didn’t address in the 2017 NFL Draft was a pass rusher who could play opposite Cameron Jordan. Key is a great speed rusher, who elected to go back to school for another season. The Saints would love if they fell to them so they could get after Cam Newton, Jameis Winston and Matt Ryan more often.

11. Washington Redskins- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Mason Rudolph NFL

Mason Rudolph (Photo by: ncaa.com)

The Washington front office doesn’t have a good relationship with Kirk Cousins. He will likely leave after the season due to being franchise tagged the last two seasons. Rudolph is another quarterback who has great size at 6’5″ and 235 pounds. He only threw four interceptions last season, which shows how well he protects the ball.

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

Interior offensive linemen usually don’t go this high, but Nelson would’ve been a first rounder in the 2017 draft had he come out. The Dolphins were able to address a lot of their needs this offseason, but they still need to get a guard because they are moving Laremy Tunsil out to tackle.

13. Cincinnati Bengals- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

Cincinnati addressed all of their skill positions in the first two rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, but their offensive line is not good. Williams has a lot of experience at Texas and should upgrade the offensive line instantly.

14. Philadelphia Eagles- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Barkley helped lead Penn State to a Big Ten Championship last year and was their best offensive player. He does a little bit of everything well and will be one of the first running backs off of the board. The Eagles drafted Donnell Pumphrey, but he isn’t an every down back in the NFL.

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

The Titans don’t have too many needs, but can improve the pass rush. He was a monster for the Boston College defense last year, finishing with 16.5 sacks. There were only two games were he didn’t register a sack, which bodes well for his NFL future.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

Donovan Smith hasn’t gotten his career off to a great start, meaning if he struggles again he will be replaced. Protecting Winston’s blindside has to be the number one priority for the Bucs.

17. Baltimore Ravens- Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

The Ravens haven’t had an effective running back in years. Guice showed flashes of what he could do when Leonard Fournette sat out with injury last season. He should have a breakout year for LSU.

18. Carolina Panthers- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

The Panthers continue to not address the offensive line well. They need to clear some holes for McCaffrey and protect Cam Newton. Brown is a big prospect, who is another good tackle prospect in this draft class.

19. Arizona Cardinals- Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

Luke Falk NFL

Luke Falk (Photo by: seattletimes.com)

This year’s quarterback class is going to be loaded, if everything happens the way most think it will. That paired with the fact that there are a lot of aging quarterbacks and as usual teams that are bad and need new ones, A lot might go in the first found in the 2018 NFL Draft. Falk is a system quarterback, but Patrick Mahommes overcame that to be the second quarterback selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. He will need to have an impressive senior season where he shows he can read defenses to maintain his spot in the first round.

20. Minnesota Vikings- Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah

The Shariff Floyd injury complicates things for the Vikings. Lotulelei is a big physical defensive tackle that can really plug up the running lanes.

21. Indianapolis Colts- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson has all the potential in the world and it should all come together for him this season for Texas. The Colts have started to revamp their defense, but it still needs a lot more work.

22. Buffalo Bills (via KC)- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Sutton was a fringe first rounder had he come out this year and will likely be one of the best wide receivers coming out next season. With Sammy Watkins possibly leaving in free agency, Sutton can be paired with current rookie Zay Jones.

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

The Giants didn’t draft a tackle and now will need to get one next year. Fortunately for them, as it now stands, there are a lot of good tackles in this draft class.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers- Troy Fumagali, TE, Wisconsin

Troy Fumagali NFL

Troy Fumagali (Photo by: WXYZ.com)

If Jesse James doesn’t step up, the Steelers will need a new tight end. Fumagali made some incredible grabs in the Cotton Bowl and with a good season, will move himself into first round consideration.

25. Denver Broncos- Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

Jamal Charles was just signed, but that isn’t a long term solution. Chubb could be the selection if the Broncos lose faith in Devontae Booker. He has some injuries, but when healthy Chubb is  a great running back.

26. Oakland Raiders- Da’Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama

Hand has been burried on the depth chart at Alabama, but will get his chance this season. The Raiders have a terrible defensive line and need to start addressing it.

27. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh

Whitehead can play a variety of positions in the secondary and can fit in next to Jabrill Peppers. The Browns’ luxury of a lot of picks, gives them a lot of options.

28. Atlanta Falcons- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

The Falcons need to get some players on the interior of the defensive line. Payne, like Hand, will get his chance to shine this season.

29. Seattle Seahawks- Martez Ivey, OL, Florida

Ivey could play guard or center for the Seahawks, but they need offensive line help so badly, it doesn’t matter. Protecting Russell Wilson hasn’t been a concern in the past for Seattle (even though it should have been), but it should be going into the future.

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

McFadden is a lengthy corner that can help the Packers stop the pass. They addressed the secondary this offseason, but if it doesn’t improve, they will target more secondary help.

31. Dallas Cowboys- Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

Hubbard got to start in Joey Bosa’s place when Bosa was suspended, but made a name for himself. After a few more years of good play, he could go in round one. Dallas picked Taco Charlton in the first round in the 2017 NFL Draft, but could still use pass rushing help.

32. New England Patriots- Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State

The Patriots have a glaring need at pass rusher and Lewis might be their guy. He has a lot of experience at Ohio State and New England can turn him into a star.

 

For more mock drafts go to: DC Pro Sports Report

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Four Teams That Will Make The College Football Playoff

The college football season has just kicked off, which begins the season long quest for teams to make it to the playoffs that conclude the season. The first two years of the College Football Playoff has produced great results and this year might have more anticipation for the Playoff than any other. Could their be a rematch between some of the teams involved in last year’s playoff? Here are the four teams that will make the College Football Playoff:

1.Clemson Tigers

Deshaun Watson looks to lead Clemson to a second straight College Football Playoff appearance. (Courtesy cbssports.com)

The Tigers finished as the runner-up in college football last season and return a lot of players, which have Clemson fans ready to kick-off the season. Quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for over 4,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000 yards last season and should be more efficient this season, with more talented receivers suiting up this year. Wide Receiver Mike Williams, who missed most of last season with a neck injury, is back and should provide another great receiver for Watson to throw too. The other great receiver is Artavis Scott, who led the Tigers in receiving yards last year. Clemson also returns tight end Jordan Leggett, who will be playing on Sundays soon. Wayne Gallman will man the running back spot, after rushing for over 1,500 yards last season. He is one of the most underrated players in the country because Watson overshadows him. The offense does lose a few offensive lineman, but Clemson recruits enough to fill the void left on the offensive line. Last season the Tigers averaged 38.5 points per game last season and that should increase this season.

Defensively, the Tigers lost a lot from last season. Ben Boulware and Cordrea Tankersley are the players who started last season who will have to lead the team this year. The pass rushers are inexperienced, but Clemson has a knack of producing top-level pass rushers. With the offense being so good this season, the defense just has to be average and timely for the Tigers to win the ACC this season.

Key Games: Oct. 1 Louisville, Oct. 29 at Florida State

2. LSU Tigers

Leonard Fournette is going to have another great season for the Tigers. (Courtesy bleacherreport.com)

LSU has the most talented team from top to bottom in the country. Everyone knows what you are getting from Leonard Fournette, a possible 2,000 yard rusher this season. The offensive line should be great on the interior and solid on the outside, which will be capable of opening up holes for Fournette and pass protecting.The top two receivers from last season in Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural, who are both long and lengthy, return and can be threats on the outside of the offense. The problem is they don’t have a lot of depth at the position. To help though, Colin Jeter, their tight end, should be able to help over the middle. The x-factor for this team is Brandon Harris at the quarterback position. He has a strong arm, but isn’t very accurate. He needs to complete passes to keep defenses honest and not completely focused on Fournette.

The secondary of the Tigers is the best in the country. Tre’Davious White, Kevin Toliver, Jamal Adams and Rickey Jefferson will make it hard for any offense to throw against them. The defensive line will also be stacked on the interior and the exterior. Their defensive line is huge and should help plug running lanes. Arden Key will rush the passer with his great length and speed from his outside linebacker position. Kendall Beckwith is the leader in the middle and will rack up a lot of tackles. The defense allowed 24.3 points per game last season, but they should be one of the best in the country this season.

Key Games: Oct. 22 Ole Miss, Nov. 5 Alabama

3. Oklahoma Sooners

Baker Mayfield does a little bit of everything for the Sooners. (Courtesy usatoday.com)

The Sooners will make a run to the College Football Playoff, much like last year, thanks to Baker Mayfield. he can throw the ball with accuracy, he completed 68% of his passes last season, and run the ball to keep the defenses on their toes. His partner in the backfield, running back Samaje Perine, will run over people and create a dynamic duo that will create havoc for defenses. The problem for the Sooners is the wide receiving core. Losing Sterling Shepard to the NFL hurts a lot. They really need Dede Westbrook to step up and be the go-to receiver this season without Shepard. The offensive line has a lot of experience returning and should be solid to set up the skill position players for great seasons.

Defense will be the key for the Sooners, much like Clemson. Last season they allowed just 22 points per game, but need to replace a lot of players. The secondary is the most experienced group and Jordan Thomas should be a dynamic player for Oklahoma at corner back. He will be able to shut down most of the Big 12’s best receivers.The rest of the defense will need to step up in some of their close games. If the Sooners have a weakness, it will be stopping the run, which could cost them in a few games.

Key Games: Sep. 3 vs. Houston (NRG Stadium), Sep. 17 vs. Ohio State, Oct. 1 at TCU

4. Ohio State Buckeyes

J.T. Barrett is the unquestioned leader of the Buckeyes this season. (courtesy cbssports.com)

J.T. Barrett returns as the full-time starter and will have a lot of new pieces to fit in with. The good news for Barrett is the two other returning starters on offense are offensive linemen Billy Price and Pat Elflein. The skill position players will need to step up, but the Buckeyes are one of the few university’s that just reload.

The Buckeyes lose a lot on defense this year, but get a player returning on each level of the defense. Defensive end Tyquan Lewis returns after recording eight sacks last year. Sam Hubbard also had experience from the defensive end position, and will need to have an improved season. Raekwon McMillan is the best inside linebacker in the country and should be considered for Big Ten defensive player of the year after the season. Gareon Conley played well last season, but will need to lead an inexperienced secondary that could be the defense’s weak point.

Ohio State can afford to lose to Oklahoma in week three if they sweep the rest of their schedule.

Key Games: Sep. 17 at Oklahoma, Nov. 19 at Michigan State, Nov. 26 vs. Michigan