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 Playstation Fiesta Bowl

Penn State and Washington both have a lot of quality players and as a result are in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. There is plenty of talent on the field and NFL scouts will be watching intently. Here are the top NFL draft prospects in the 2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl:

Washington Huskies 

Vita Vea, DT/NT

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl

Vita Vea (Photo by youtube.com)

Vea is one of the best defensive tackles in the class. He has experience on a three man defensive front, but could easily fit into a 4-3 system as well. Because he plays on a three man front, he doesn’t produce a lot, but he does take on a lot of double teams. This season Vea has 37 total tackles, 5.5 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

He has tremendous size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds and a lot of teams will want to take a chance on him based on that. Vea will likely go in the first round in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Dante Pettis, WR

Pettis produces in a lot of ways for the Huskies. He is a record setting return man and also catches a lot of passes. This season he has 62 catches for 721 yards and seven touchdowns. He has nine career punt returns for touchdowns and is a threat every time he touches the ball.

He has decent size at 6’1″ and 195 pounds, but his speed is his greatest asset. His ability to play on special team elevates his draft stock. Pettis is probable to play in the Fiesta Bowl with a leg injury.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-3rd round

Keishawn Bierria, LB

Bierra has gotten a lot of playing time at Washington. He has 229 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. While he has only played nine games this season, he still has 49 total tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack. His production isn’t great, but he is a good player on a good defense.

He isn’t the biggest at 6’1″ and 223 pounds, but has good enough size. He will be selected in the late rounds of the draft, but will get a chance to make a roster.

Projected draft range: 5th round-7th round

*LB Azeem Victor is out for this game with a suspension.

Other notable Washington prospects: LB Azeem Victor (4th round-5th round), RB Myles Gaskin (5th round-7th round), C Shelton Coleman (5th round-7th round), QB Jake Browning (6th round-undrafted free agent)

Penn State Nittany Lions

Saquon Barkley, RB

Barkley is one of the best prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft class. He will be selected in the top ten and has 3,706 rushing yards, 1,157 receiving yards and 49 touchdowns in his career. Barkley is one of the most complete backs to ever come out of college and is able to do just about everything well.

He is well-built at 5’11” and 228 pounds, which has put him in good position to get drafted early. If he lasts past the top ten picks, it will be a surprise.

Projected draft range: Top 10 pick

Mike Gesicki, TE

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl

Mike Gesicki (Photo by post-gazette.com)

Gesicki has really produced the past two seasons for Penn State. In his four seasons as a Nittany Lion, he has 1,419 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. This season, he has become a great red zone target and has nine receiving touchdowns.

At 6’5″ and 257 pounds, Gesicki is big enough to handle tight end duties in the NFL. He will be one of the first tight ends selected, but that might mean being taken on day two or three.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Jason Cabinda, LB

Cabinda is the defensive leader of Penn State. He has 281 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss and seven sacks in his career at Penn State. This season he has 86 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. He doesn’t produce as much as other linebackers, but still is one of the best players on the field.

He is 6’1″ and 234 pounds, which isn’t the biggest, but he can be successful. Cabinda is a prime candidate for the middle rounds of the NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

Other notable Penn State prospects: S Marcus Allen (4th round-6th round), QB Trace McSorley (6th round-undrafted free agent), OT/G Brendan Mahon (Undrafted free agent)

 

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2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl preview

Two teams that had hopes to make the College Football Playoff will be playing in the 2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl. Both Penn State and Washington stumbled a little bit in the regular season, but were still able to make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. Here is the 2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl preview:

11 Washington Huskies (10-2)

2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl preview

Jake Browning (Photo by texasfootballexpo.com)

Washington made the CFP last season, but this year will have to settle for the Playstation Fiesta Bowl. They got to 10 wins on the season and beat five bowl eligible teams. Their notable wins include Fresno State and Washington State.

The offense scores 36.9 points per game and has some stars at almost every position. Their running game is the strong point and averages 189.8 rushing yards per game. Myles Gaskin leads the charge with 1,282 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. His backups, Lavon Coleman and Salvon Ahmed, each have over 300 yards on the season in relief.

Jake Browning still operates the offense and has had an efficient season. He has thrown for 2,544 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions on 68.8% completion. Dante Pettis is his favorite target and makes plays on offense and is a record setting return man. He has 62 catches for 721 yards and seven touchdowns. He has blazing speed and gets separation from anyone covering him.

The defense is one of the best in the country, allowing 14.5 points per game. They have the number one rush defense in the country and are 21st against the pass. Defensive lineman Vita Vea is a big part of helping Washington stop the run. He has 37 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks this season. He is often double teamed, which frees up teammates to get to the ball.

8 Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)

2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl preview

Saquon Barkley (photo by usatoday.com)

Penn State lost two tough games on back to back weeks to knock them out of playoff contention. They lost at Ohio State and at Michigan State, but won every other game on their schedule to get to 10 wins. Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa are some of their notable wins.

The offense has been great the past few seasons and this year they averaged 41.6 points per game. Their running game has one of the best players in the country in Saquon Barkley. Barkley rushed for  1,134 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, while cementing his status as one of college football’s best players. Quarterback Trace McSorley runs the ball well too with 431 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

McSorley had a great season passing the ball with 3,228 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions on 65.3% passing. He has plenty of good targets to throw to between DaeSean Hamilton, Juwan Johnson, Barkley and tight end Mike Gesicki. All of the players listed have over 500 yards receiving. Hamilton leads the team with 747 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Their defense has been elite this season and allows 15.5 points per game. They rank 16th against the run and 47th against the pass. Senior linebacker Jason Cabinda is the leader of the defense and has 86 total tackles, seven tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks this season.

Prediction

Penn State will find a way to get Barkley the football, whether it’s handing it to him, throwing it to him or letting him return kicks. Washington’s defense is good, but Barkley will be the best player on the field. Bryce Love was the last running back that Washington played that was somewhat near Barkley’s ability and Love gashed them for 166 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Expect much of the same.

Penn State Nittany Lions 26 Washington Huskies 21

 

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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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