Dark horse candidates for the 2018 Heisman Trophy

The Heisman Trophy is awarded to the best player in college football but that doesn’t always mean they were the favorite to in the award heading into the season. Whether it is Jameis Winston or Johnny Manziel winning it as freshmen or RGIII winning at Baylor, the unknown names sometimes come out on top. Here are some of the players that can win the award with odds of 25/1 or worse:

Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn

Jarrett Stidham Auburn

Jarrett Stidham (Photo by al.com)

Current odds: 25/1

Stidham was actually on this same list last year but qualifies again because of the odds. In his first year at Auburn, after playing at Baylor and junior college, Stidham threw for 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns. With him at quarterback, the Tigers were able to finish with a 10-4 record and made an appearance in the Peach Bowl.

Auburn has a typically tough schedule with Washington, LSU, Mississippi State, Georgia and Alabama on the docket. All these games will help him get the eyes of Heisman voters. He can start off the season as a frontrunner with solid games against Washington and LSU within the first three weeks of the season.

The schedule is tough, but if they can win eight games in the regular season, Stidham could be in contention for the award. If the defense can keep up with the offense, Stidham should be able to win enough games to help him get some consideration for postseason awards.

Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma

Current Odds: 25/1

While Baker Mayfield got all the headlines last year, Anderson had a solid season as the starting running back for the Sooners. Anderson finished with 1,161 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 6.2 yards per carry. His running abilities helped Oklahoma get to the College Football Playoff and this year he will be the focal point of the offense.

The Big 12 may be down with Oklahoma State losing key players and TCU needing to take a step forward. They won’t have a lot of great games for Anderson to show off his skills, but they do play UCLA and Florida Atlantic along with their Big 12 schedule.

With the Big 12 not being the most competitive and their non-conference schedule, which features two decent, but not great, teams, Oklahoma could get through the season unscathed if they play at their best. They will need new starting quarterback Kyler Murray to really step up and produce, as well as their defense to play at an average level too.

A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College

Current Odds: 25/1

Dillon made headlines on National Signing Day when he flipped his commitment from Michigan to sign with Boston College. In his freshman season he rushed for 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Eagles went 7-6 last season with Dillon and are hoping he can lead them to new heights this season.

The non-conference schedule features Notre Dame, which would be a good game to show out in. There is a stretch of games that could get Dillon a lot of attention featuring games against N.C. State, Louisville, Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson and then Florida State.

While that is ample opportunity to make an impression, the downside is that Boston College may not have the talent to beat those teams. An unwritten rule of the Heisman Trophy is that the player winning the award has to play on a winning team and the Eagles will be lucky to get to 6-6.

Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Current Odds: 33/1

Oregon went 7-6 last year, but Herbert was only able to play eight games for the second consecutive season. When he stays healthy he has the ability to play well and be a star. He threw for 1,983 yards and 15 touchdowns, while only throwing five interceptions last season.

The Ducks’ schedule is pretty light so Herbert will have to make the most of the few big games he will play in. Games against Washington and Stanford will help decide the Pac-12 North. Games against Stanford and Arizona will pit Herbert against other Heisman contenders in Bryce Love and Khalil Tate respectively.

With the easier schedule, the Ducks should be able to win enough games to get Herbert the Heisman, if he puts up the stats. A key thing to note is that Herbert will have to deal with his third different coach in three years after Mark Helfrich was fired and Willie Taggart left for Florida State within the last two years.

D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

Current Odds: 33/1

D'Andre Swift Georgia

D’Andre Swift (Photo by zimbio.com)

Swift worked his way into getting carries as a freshman in a backfield that included Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. With limited touches, he was able to rush for 618 yards and three touchdowns on 7.8 yards per carry. He helped Georgia get to the National Championship as a freshman and now will see most of the workload at running back.

South Carolina, LSU, Florida and Auburn are all on the schedule this season enabling Swift to have some time on national television. They are also the frontrunners to win the SEC East, giving him another game to pad his stats and be in the spotlight.

Georgia lost a lot from their team last season but should be able to recover for another solid season. Their recruiting has been great and there aren’t many threats to their SEC East title. Ultimately, Georgia’s record shouldn’t hold Swift back from winning the Heisman.

Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State

Current Odds: 33/1

Florida State’s season went south as soon as Francois was lost for the season in the opener against Alabama. In 2018 Francois was able to throw for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns, while only throwing seven interceptions. This is especially impressive given that his offensive line was not good at all. During that season the Seminoles went 10-3 with a win over Michigan in the Orange Bowl.

Playing Notre Dame and Florida is as good as it gets for the nonconference schedule while playing Virginia Tech, Louisville, Miami and Clemson in conference should give him a chance to showcase his skills. The first game of the season against Virginia Tech can get him going on the right path for the Heisman, as they are a solid team, even though they lost a lot from their defense last season.

With a new coach in Taggart, Florida State will have to make adjustments for this season. They can win a lot of games but if they don’t fit into Taggart’s new system, they could lose as many as five or six games. Francois will need to help transition to the new coaching staff and lead the team to better results than last season to win the Heisman.

 

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2018 Heisman Trophy watch list

The spring football season is over and now fans can start gearing up for the regular season in a few months. As with every season, the Heisman Trophy is awarded to the game’s best player. With oddsmakers already putting out odds for the award, here are the top players to watch out for in the 2018 season.

Bryce Love, RB Stanford

Current odds: 5/1

Love wasn’t expected to go back to Palo Alto for his senior season after having a great season as a junior. Love rushed for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns and was an All-American. He was invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony but ended up watching Baker Mayfield take home the award.

The production will be back for Love, who had over 100 rushing yards against multiple top 25 rushing defenses last season. He will have marquee matchups with Washington, Oregon, Notre Dame and USC. If he can put up big numbers against these teams on the big stage, Love can set himself up well to win the award.

Part of the award is playing on a good team and Stanford should be able to have a solid season. While tough games against the teams mentioned earlier, they should be able to win at least eight games and as many as 10 or 11 if they reach their potential.

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

Current odds: 13/2

No one was expecting Taylor to have as good of a freshman season as he did. Taylor rushed for 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns while helping Wisconsin to a 13-1 record and an Orange Bowl win. He has a lot of his offense returning with him and should be poised for another big season.

The Wisconsin schedule is pretty light again, so Taylor will have to make the most of his opportunities. Games against Michigan and Penn State will be his big chances. Last year, against a tough Michigan defense, Taylor was able to rush for 132 yards, so tough competition doesn’t always slow him down.

Wisconsin should be heavily favored once again to win the Big Ten West, even if they drop the games against Michigan and Penn State. With another season that is similar in the stat line and the win column for Taylor, he could see himself hoisting the Heisman Trophy in December.

 

Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona

2018 Heisman Trophy watch list

Khalil Tate (Photo by ocregister.com)

Current odds: 14/1

Although he didn’t start the season as the starting quarterback for Arizona, Tate created some major buzz last season after taking over. He amassed over 3,000 total yards (1,591 passing and 1,411 rushing) in just 11 games played. His team didn’t have the best season, going 5-5 in games with him attempting over one pass, but he had a nice season nonetheless.

Arizona plays Houston and BYU outside of their conference schedule, making it tough. Tate won’t be on national television for a lot of games so will have to do well the few times he gets that opportunity. Games against USC and Oregon will be big games but if the team does well, he could have bigger games down the stretch.

The biggest question for Tate is if his team can be successful. Since they were only 5-5 with him in the lineup, he’ll have to prove he can lead his teams to victories this season. The Wildcats have a new head coach in Kevin Sumlin, which means Tate will have to get used to a new coach. He needs to go 8-4 while producing good stats to have a chance to win the Heisman.

Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan

Current odds: 16/1

Patterson has been cleared to play by the NCAA after transferring in from Ole Miss. He played seven games in Oxford last season before being lost for the season with a knee injury. In that short time frame, Patterson threw for 2,259 yards and 17 touchdowns on 63.8% passing.

The spotlight will be on Patterson from day one and he will have plenty of opportunities to show what he’s got. There are going to be four or five really big games that Michigan plays in this season: Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State. He has mixed results against good competition with bad outings against Alabama and LSU, but a solid game against Auburn. If he wants to win the award he’ll need to cut out those bad games.

Michigan fans have been waiting for a true contending team for a while now. They should have it this season with so many key players coming back and Patterson transferring in to play quarterback. Making the College Football Playoff isn’t out of the question, but they’ll need to get hot against their tough schedule. If Patterson can lead Michigan to a good record and maybe a Big Ten Championship he will be right in the thick of the Heisman talk.

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

2018 Heisman Trophy watch list

Tua Tagovailoa (Photo by golfdigest.com)

Current odds: 10/1

He still doesn’t have a start in his career but he played so well in the National Championship Game has him high on oddsmakers’ lists to win the Heisman. Realistically he still has to beat out Jalen Hurts for the job, even if he looks like the better player. He did see action in eight games, passing for 636 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Tagovailoa benefits from playing at Alabama, where they will be the talk of college football as long as Nick Saban is there. They have big games against Louisville, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn. To beat teams like this, Tagovailoa will have to be at his best.

The schedule is a little tougher than last season but no one in their right mind would bet against Alabama right now. They should get a large number of wins and Tagovailoa will get a lot of credit being the quarterback. If his stats are decent he’s a threat to win the trophy.

Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

Current odds: 10/1

Fromm was the backup when Jacob Eason went down with an injury and filled in without looking over his shoulder. He led them to the National Championship Game with 2,615 passing yards and 24 touchdowns on 62.2% passing. While his production will need to go up to win the award, he should improve in year two as Bulldogs’ quarterback.

He too will have many chances to help showcase why he should win the Heisman. The Bulldogs play LSU, Florida and Auburn, which should make it tough on Fromm. He did have limited production against the better teams on the schedule last season and only had one game with 300 yards passing total but he will be asked to do more with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb taking their talents to the NFL.

Georgia may not be able to make it back to the National Championship but should have a solid season. If they win the games they should and Fromm improves in year two, Georgia could have their first Heisman winner since Herschel Walker in 1982.

 

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Miami Hurricanes

Miami Hurricanes: Rebuilding “The U”

The Miami Hurricanes began rebuilding their dynasty last year in 2017. Most of the best NFL players have come from this excellent school. Players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Reggie Wayne, and Santana Moss. The real question is: Will they be able to have another great season and earn a spot in the college football playoffs?

The U has a long history of winning from way back in the 80s. They’ve won only five national championships throughout the years. The last time they’ve won was back in 2001, in which Miami was the greatest team in college football history. Years after, they continued to bulldoze through teams, but they have yet to make an appearance in the national championship scene again.

New Era

Miami Hurricanes

The 2001 Miami Hurricanes
(the comeback.com

Last year, in 2017, the Hurricanes had made a comeback, going undefeated throughout the regular season. They’ve caught the whole nation’s attention especially with their famous turnover chain for their defense. They had an entire team filled with talent on both sides of the ball, and they took the ACC conference by storm until the last three games of the season.

During those last three games, the Hurricanes fell downhill. Their first loss was to Pittsburg 24-14, then came the devastating loss to Clemson in the ACC championship 33-8. At this point, it seemed like Miami couldn’t find a way to pull themselves together. They even lost in the Orange Bowl, 24-34.

Miami Hurricanes

Jeff Thomas
(stateoftheu.com)

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During those last three games, the Hurricanes fell downhill. Their first loss was to Pittsburg 24-14, then came the devastating loss to Clemson in the ACC championship 33-8. At this point, it seemed like Miami couldn’t find a way to pull themselves together. They even lost in the Orange Bowl, 24-34.

Hurricanes’ Defense

On the defensive side, the Hurricanes have a lot of defensive backs that are returning, including Jaquan Johnson, Malek Young, Robert Knowles, Sheldrick Redwine, and Michael Jackson. This group can make plays and force turnovers all over. Last season, Miami’s defense had a total of 17 interceptions and 30 turnovers overall including fumble recoveries.

Miami Hurricanes

Miami Defense
(itsAUthing.com)

For the defense to succeed, they’ll need a strong defensive line to sabotage offenses. The key returner for the Hurricanes’ defensive line is junior Joe Jackson. He became second on the team last year with 59 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 11.5 tackles for loss. Linebacker Shaquille Quarterman is a critical factor to the defense as well, totaling 83 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and five pass deflections last season.

The future seems promising for the Hurricanes. They have talented players that can lead this team all the way, but will they be able to finish strong?

 

 

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College football top 10 predictions

The NFL Draft is over, now it’s time for college football to start back up again. As summer begins, teams prepare for camp and work their way towards having a good season for this upcoming year. As the countdown for college football begins, here are the top 10 teams that could make an impact in the 2018-2019 season.

1. Alabama

college football

Jalen Hurts stiff arms defender
(sec country)

Coming off of winning a National Title, the Alabama Crimson Tide might be able to go back for a fourth time. They still have leading junior quarterback, Jalen Hurts, who is a talented playmaker. He also has sophomore Tua Tagovailoa right behind him; he is also a very talented quarterback who is able to make plays. Even tho Bo Scarborough has moved on to the NFL, the Tide still has Damien Harris to run the ball past defenders on offense. On the defensive side, the Tide has the two good linebackers in Dylan Moses and Mack Wilson. They also have one of the most dangerous defensive linemen in the SEC with Raekwon Davis leading the herd.

2. Georgia

college football

Jake Fromm
(AI.com)

Georgia may have lost their starting linebackers and running backs, but this season still looks promising for the Bulldogs. During the spring game, there were some freshman that showed a lot of potential for the upcoming season. Sophomore, Monty Rice, was one of the linebackers in the spring game that showed out and could make an impact on the Bulldogs’ defense. Georgia still has a talented receiving core, including wide receivers Terry Godwin, Riley Ridley, Mecole Hardman and tight end Isaac Nauta. Not only the Bulldogs have talented receivers, they have quarterback Jake Fromm, who finished his season out with 2,173 total passing yards and 21 touchdowns.

3. Clemson

Clemson is a young team that had an outstanding season last year. The question is, can they do it again? The Tigers have major key players on defense that are returning this season, including senior linebacker Kendall Joseph and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Clemson lost key receivers due to the NFL draft, and they are still predicting who is going to fill in these empty holes, and become a threat on offense.

4. Oklahoma

Without Heisman winner Baker Mayfield in the picture, the Sooners have questions about who will be the next quarterback. During the spring game, redshirt sophomore Austin Kendall proved that he is the man for the job. The Sooners are also waiting to see if redshirt junior Kyler Murray will play this year or play professional baseball.

5. Ohio State

college football

Urban Myer and his team prepare for the game
(Ohio State athletics)

The Buckeyes have put in a lot of work during the offseason. Even though they’ve lost a handful of key players on the defensive line due to the draft, head coach Urban Myer still contains talented players and incoming freshman lined up ready to play. Sophomore defensive end, Chase Young, showed that he was ready to be placed on the line during the spring ball game. This season, he may start alongside Dre’Mont Jones and Nick Bosa. Not only will the Buckeyes have a good defense, but they also have promising key players on offense as well, including sophomore J.K Dobbins, who ran for 1,364 yards last season, and junior wide receiver Parris Campbell.

6. UCF

college football

UCF
(the ringer.com)

The Knights had a perfect season last year, and they had one of their best linebackers, Shaquem Griffin, make it to the NFL draft. UCF also has an outstanding running back core led by Adrian Killins Jr. who rushed for 762 yards last season. That’s not all, the Knights have quarterback McKenzie Milton that can put the ball in any pocket to any receiver and can run the ball like a tailback. Last season, he threw for 4,037 yards and rushed for 497 yards. UCF may cause problems on offense with this duo next season.

7. Stanford

The Cardinals have had a pretty decent season in 2017, even though they lost in the Alamo Bowl to TCU. They also lost their star Heisman runner-up, Bryce Love due to a sprained ankle. He didn’t even participate in the spring, because he is still recovering. By this fall, Love should be able to return and take the Pac 12 by storm. Stanford’s defense will play a key factor for next season.

8. TCU

In replacement of Kenny Hill, sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson will lead the offense for next season. Their offensive line is fairly young, but the receivers are pretty talented including KaVontae Turpin and Jalen Reagor.

9. Miami

The Hurricanes had begun to rebuild a dynasty last season, until they were exposed to Pittsburgh. They can still have another shot in the College Football Playoff next season. They have key receivers, including sophomore Jeff Thomas, Ahmmon Richards and return running back Travis Homer. On the defensive side, safety Jaquan Johnson, and linebacker Shaquille Quarterman are returning and will lead the defense for next season.

10. Michigan State

The Spartans still have a majority of their starters coming back. Brian Lewerke will lead the offense; he is a gunslinger that threw for over 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. LJ Scott is in the backfield with him and he will cause a lot of damage in the Big Ten.

 

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Philadelphia Eagles undrafted rookie free agents

Rookie free agent signings by the Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles did a great job adding talent last year by acquiring quality undrafted rookie free agents. Three of the eagles undrafted rookies from last year are still on the roster today. Those players are running back Corey Clement, tight end Billy Brown and saftey Tre Sullivan. Clement went on to become a integral part of the offense and one of the heroes of Super Bowl LII.

This year, coaxing undrafted free agents to Philadelphia might not be so easy. This is because of the depth the Eagles have, meaning that free agents feel it will be harder to stay with a team with such quality depth to compete with.

That being said, it appears the Eagles still managed to sign some quality players that could make the roster in the fall. All of these signings are as of yet unconfirmed by the Eagles themselves. However, these players have most likely been signed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

The undrafted rookie free agent signings

Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame

Jeremiah Briscoe, QB, Sam Houston State

Asantay Brown, S, Western Michigan

Aaron Evans, OT, UCF

Danny Ezechukwu, LB, Purdue

Jordon Gandy, WR, Murray State

Bruce Hector, DT, South Florida

Anthony Mahoungou, WR, Purdue

Ryan Neal, S, Southern Illinois

Joe Ostman, DE, Central Michigan

Ian Park, OG, Slippery Rock

Jeremy Reaves, S, South Alabama

Stephen Roberts, S, Auburn

Brandon Silvers, QB, Troy

Chandon Sullivan, CB, Georgia State

Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma

Toby Weathersby, OT, LSU

Which players have the best chance to make the roster?

Philadelphia Eagles undrafted rookie free agents

Stephen Roberts makes a tackle. (Photo from AL.com)

According to pre-draft grades, the best bets to potentially make the roster are Joe Ostman, Toby Weathersby, Stephen Roberts and Josh Adams. Roberts and Adams most likely have the best shot at making the roster because of the positions they play.

Roberts could become the third option at safety, much like Corey Graham was last year. His only current competition for that spot is Tre Sullivan. It will be interesting to see how that positional battle goes.

Adams is a big power runner, and the Eagles usually carry five running backs on their roster. This means there are two spots behind Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles and Corey Clement. Adams, Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey will be fighting for those spots.

Smallwood has been an injury risk and has not showed enough when he has been on the field. The Eagles would be best served going another route. Pumphrey was too undersized last year and got stashed on IR all year as a result. Pumphrey was supposed to be a Darren Sproles replacement, but he disappointed last year in training camp and preseason.

Honestly, Adams could beat out both of them if the Eagles only wanted to carry one more running back. The fact that they usually carry two makes him a very good bet to make the roster.

Which players will have the hardest time making the roster?

Philadelphia Eagles undrafted rookie free agents

Jeremiah Briscoe (Photo from the Houston Chronicle)

The players who will have the toughest time making the roster are the two quarterbacks Jeremiah Briscoe and Brandon Silvers. The Eagles have established starters and backups in Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. They also have another quarterback they are interested in developing in Nate Sudfeld.

The presence of Silvers and Briscoe on the roster can amount to Philadelphia wanting to have some extra arms around for offseason practices and training camp. If one of them impresses, there is an outside chance they could land on the practice squad or as the third option at quarterback.

Overview of the undrafted rookie free agents

Most of the players signed will not even make the final roster. The Eagles are just utilizing all the possible avenues to bring talent onto the roster. While most of the players that they have signed will not make the roster, who knows? There could be a great player that just needs a little time and a chance in this group.

 

Featured image from USA TODAY

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Philadelphia Eagles draft grade

Breaking down the Philadelphia Eagles’ draft picks

The Philadelphia Eagles made five selections in this year’s draft. By most accounts, the Eagles had a good draft. In addition to the selections they made this year, they received a second-round pick from the Baltimore Ravens in the 2019 NFL Draft. They traded out of the first round, but still managed to acquire a lot of talent in important positions.

2nd round (49th pick) – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

Philadelphia Eagles draft grade

Dallas Goedert makes a one-handed catch. (Photo from Hero Sports)

This is a great pick, not only in the quality of the player taken, but in the fact that he was kept off a divisional rival’s team as well. The Philadelphia Eagles had traded back to the 52nd overall pick, but traded back up to 49th just before the Dallas Cowboys to draft Goedert.

Goedert is heralded as a Zach Ertz-like playmaker, who has also received comparisons to Travis Kelce and Jimmy Graham. These comparisons are no doubt best-case scenarios. However, Goedert should more than make up for the losses of Brent Celek and Trey Burton in this offseason.

The Eagles added a talented player in a position of need and kept him from helping the Cowboys, who are still reeling from the surprise retirement of Jason Witten. What a win!

Grade: A

4th round (125th pick) – Avonte Maddox, CB, Pittsburgh

Maddox is a bit undersized for a corner at 5-foot-9, but that does not take away from his abilities as a corner.

While he is on the small side, he makes up for it with his toughness and athleticism. He possesses a great combination of both long speed and short area quickness, meaning that he will be a great fit in Philadelphia’s secondary as a slot corner. In addition, Maddox should match up well with quick slot receivers in the NFC East like Dallas’ Cole Beasley.

However, he is not guaranteed to start this season. The Eagles are loaded at the corner position. Ahead of him on the depth chart are Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas. Maddox will face an uphill battle if he wants to earn the starting slot position.

There may have been some slightly better prospects available to draft at this spot, but Maddox is certainly not a bad choice.

Grade: B+

4th round (130th pick) – Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State

Philadelphia Eagles draft grade

Josh Sweat sheds a block. (Photo from Glenn Beil of USA Today)

Josh Sweat is an athletic freak. He stands at 6-foot-5, 251 pounds and has nearly 35-inch arms. Yet with this massive frame, he still managed to run a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash.

Sweat was a true luxury pick for Philadelphia as they have an extremely talented defensive line. However, Sweat has first-round talent and slipped this far in the draft only because of injury concerns.

If his knee issues are indeed behind him, he could end up becoming one of the biggest steals in this draft.

Grade: A+

6th round (206th pick) – Matt Pryor, OT, TCU

Matt Pryor was not graded extremely well, nor did he test amazingly at the combine. He does, however, have immense size at 6-foot-7, 332 pounds.

He is very strong, but could struggle with speed rushers in today’s NFL due to his slower speed. In addition, there are concerns about his lack of effort and issues of weight maintenance. Those issues, combined with his lack of lateral speed, caused him to fall into the sixth round.

Overall, Pryor could develop into a good tackle or guard and has value because of his ability to play both positions.

Grade: B

7th round (233rd pick) – Jordan Mailata, OT, South Sydney Rabbitohs

Philadelphia Eagles draft grade

Jordan Mailata’s measurables. (Photo from Pacific Sports Management)

Jordan Mailata was a rugby player for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and is an absolute giant. Mailata stands 6-foot-8, 345 pounds with an athletic build.

He is a project, as he has never before played American football. This means the leap to the NFL will be a big jump mentally. He will probably need a couple years to develop as an NFL player before he even comes close to starting. However, if he can learn the game and an NFL playbook, he could use his huge frame and athleticism to dominate as an offensive tackle.

If you have not seen any of his rugby tape, do yourself a favor and watch this video from the NFL’s twitter.

Taking a flyer on a project in the seventh round is a good idea. After all, the Pittsburgh Steelers took a chance on a former Eagles defensive end (Alejandro Villanueva) and turned him into one of the best offensive tackles in football. With the athleticism that Jordan Mailata has, anything is possible.

Grade: B

Overall opinion of the draft class

Take this with a grain of salt as you never know how good a player is going to be until they play for a few years. For example, Nelson Agholor was considered a bust until his breakout season this year.

That being said, the Eagles drafted at least two future starters in Dallas Goedert and Josh Sweat, as well as a potential future slot corner in Avonte Maddox. Mailata and Pryor could surprise and turn out to be starters as well, At the very least, Pryor should turn out to be a decent backup swing tackle in the mold of Allen Barbre.

The Eagles also managed to acquire what could amount to a early second-round pick next year as well, which is always something to keep in mind when considering the success of a draft.

Overall draft grade: A

 

Featured image from 247 Sports

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Alabama

Tua Tagovailoa vs. Jalen Hurts: The battle for the starting spot

After the College Football National Championship in January, Alabama has been figuring out if quarterback Jalen Hurts will start next season. It’s obvious he didn’t play up to his full potential when his team needed him most. Then, along came the backup quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, stealing the spotlight in the second half of the National Championship. The competition is really tight between the two, but who will come out on top as the leader of the offense?

Jalen Hurts

Hurts has been the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback for two years. He has a strong arm, and he is able to run the ball. Hurts came in as a freshman, won the starting spot, and led his team to a 14-0 record in 2016 and a trip to the National Championship. The Crimson Tide lost to the Clemson Tigers in overtime 35-31. He led the team to a one-loss season the following year with the Auburn Tigers exposing the Tide.

Alabama

Jalen Hurts (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Alabama still made it to the National Championship, but Hurts didn’t play like Hurts. He only threw for 47 yards, Georgia’s defensive devoured him in the backfield and he threw the ball out of reach of his receivers. Nick Saban’s patience was running low, and it was Tagovailoa’s turn to take over. He sparked a major comeback and threw a 41 yard touchdown in overtime to win the championship. Overall, Tagovailoa had a total of 166 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

Tua Tagovailoa

Tagovailoa is a true freshman heading into his sophomore season. He was mainly called in games for the final minutes when the Tide were up by a lot. The young quarterback has a lot of comparisons to Hurts. He is a fearless, young quarterback who is able to make throws in traffic and is extremely dangerous with his feet. The only difference between the two quarterbacks is size and experience.

Alabama

Tua Tagovailoa
(Sports Illustrated)

What’s Next?

Now that Tagovailoa had made a name for himself, coach Saban has put the quarterback job up on the market. The two quarterbacks competed for the starting spot during the spring game; and from the look of things, Hurts lost confidence in himself. He only completed 19 of 39 passes, threw one interception and didn’t throw any touchdowns. Tagovailoa suffered a major injury during spring ball, which caused him to miss most of the season.

There have been rumors that Hurt’s dad told Bleacher Report that he would be transferring if he doesn’t get the starting position.The fight for the starting spot isn’t over yet. These two, young, talented quarterbacks still have room left to grow. The final decision will be made during fall practice and the first two games of the 2018 season. For now, the job is up for grabs between the two. Who will win it?

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2019 NFL mock draft April 28

The 2018 NFL Draft is wrapped up and it is never too early to look ahead to next year’s draft. A lot will change from now until the 2019 Draft, but let’s take a look at who could be selected in the first round. The draft order is decided by current Super Bowl Odds.

2019 NFL Mock draft April 28

Trey Adams (Photo by youtube.com)

1. New York Jets- Trey Adams, OT, Washington

The Jets just selected Sam Darnold, so they will want to protect him. The offensive line is a position of weakness right now and Adams. Adams could have declared for the 2018 NFL Draft, but decided to go back to school for one more year. He now could be the first overall selection.

2. Chicago Bears- Nick Bosa, DE/OLB, Ohio State

One area that could be improved is the defensive front of the Bears 3-4 scheme. Bosa could fit in and give them another good pass rusher. There will be those who question if Bosa can play in the scheme, but his brother Joey is fitting in nicely in the same scheme for the Chargers.

3. Miami Dolphins- Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan

If the Dolphins are selecting this highly, Ryan Tannehill will definitely need to be replaced. Patterson is athletic and has a talented arm. He was just cleared to play at Michigan this season after transferring from Ole Miss.

4. Cincinnati Bengals- Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

The Bengals will not want to give up on Andy Dalton most likely. When the Bengals were at their best, they had a great defensive line. Oliver might be the best player in the class and can create a crazy good defensive tackle combo with Geno Atkins.

5. Cleveland Browns- Devin White, LB, LSU

Cleveland has tried to do a good job of filling needs in the NFL Draft. This could be an offensive lineman if Austin Corbett doesn’t move stick as a tackle. White can help the Browns fill their biggest area of need after the 2018 NFL Draft.

6. Buffalo Bills- A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss

Whoever is the quarterback, either A.J. McCarron or Josh Allen, will need more than just Zay Jones to throw to at the receiver position. Brown is athletic and has potential, but likely won’t have the best quarterback play or team around him this season for Ole Miss.

7. Arizona Cardinals- Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

The offensive line is still not great after the 2018 NFL Draft. They need to clear some room for David Johnson and keep Josh Rosen clean.

8. Washington Redskins- Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

Lock still has a little bit to prove as a prospect, especially with his accuracy. The Redskins just got Alex Smith, but he won’t be around for much longer.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin

Donovan Smith has been given long enough to figure out the tackle position. Jameis Winston needs to be protected for the future and Edwards can aid that.

10. Indianapolis Colts- Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

Lawrence is one of the many talented defensive tackles in this class. The Colts need to improve the defense and Lawrence can help stop the run and rush the passer, making him valuable.

2019 NFL mock draft April 28

Rashan Gary (Photo by onthebanks.com)

11. New York Giants- Rashan Gary, DE/DT, Michigan

The Giants got a running back and quarterback for the future but could use someone who can get after the passer. Gary was a highly rated recruit, who should have a breakout year this season.

12. Tennessee Titans- Collin Johnson, WR, Texas

Tennessee needs to get the offense going. The defense was improved in the 2018 NFL Draft and now they can give Marcus Mariota more receiver help. Johnson is a big receiver who will need to run a fast 40 yard dash time to keep his value up.

13. Detroit Lions- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Wilkins has been on the draft radar for a while but decided to finish out his career at Clemson. The Lions didn’t address the offensive line enough in the 2018 draft, so they need to do so in 2019.

14. Baltimore Ravens- Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Terrell Suggs is another player who is aging and needs to be replaced. Even with him the Ravens need to generate more of a pass rush. Ferrell would need to fit the 3-4 scheme, but he can get after the passer.

15. Seattle Seahawks-Raekwon Davis DE/DT, Alabama

Seattle is starting to re-tool a new defense, but is still thin up the middle. Davis can fit in the middle of their 4-3 scheme.

16. Los Angeles Chargers- Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

Little was a highly rated recruit and will likely be selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The Chargers focused on defense in this year’s draft and need to get some protection for Phillip Rivers next season, before finding his eventual replacement.

17. Denver Broncos- Connor McGovern, OG, Penn State

The Broncos ignored the offensive line early in the 2019 NFL Draft and can’t afford to do it again. A developmental quarterback may also be needed.

2019 NFL mock draft April 28

DeAndre Baker (Photo by gridironnow.com)

18. Oakland Raiders- DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia

Baker had a great season for Georgia in 2017 and will be one of the first corners selected. He may have to start off in the slot, but has the potential to become a number one corner.

19. Kansas City Chiefs- Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

The Chiefs traded Marcus Peters away and need to get a replacement.

20. Houston Texans- Michael Deiter, OT, Wisconsin

Houston has to make sure they protect Deshaun Watson or their team will have to struggle without a quarterback yet again.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars-Ahmmon Richards, WR, Miami

D.J. Chark was selected, but they need players to step up to help cope with the loss of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.

22. Carolina Panthers- Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

The Panthers need to replace Julius Peppers and didn’t address the pass rushers early in this draft. Bryant is one of many great Clemson defensive linemen.

23. San Francisco 49ers- Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

Love let up the college football world this season and decided to go back to college. The 49ers currently have Jerrick McKinnon and Matt Breida as their top running backs.

24. Green Bay Packers (via NO)- Joe Jackson, DE, Miami

The Packers really addressed the secondary this year with their selections. They need to get some pass rushers, as Clay Matthews isn’t the same player he was a few years ago.

25. Atlanta Falcons- Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State

Jones is another prospect who could’ve come out this year but went back to school. The Falcons need to get some help in the middle of their defense.

26. Dallas Cowboys- Taylor Rapp, S, Washington

Dallas is very thin at safety and needs to address the issue.

2019 NFL mock draft April 28

Josh Allen (Photo by al.com)

27. Los Angeles Rams- Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky

Allen can play the role of rushing linebacker or play in the middle. The Rams need some pass rushing and linebacker help, so Allen would be a solid choice.

28. Minnesota Vikings- Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

The Vikings’ offensive line was improved a little through this draft with the addition of Brian O’Neill. They need to add more.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers-Anfernee Jennings, LB, Alabama

Pittsburgh took care of the safety position in this draft and can then move on to the inside linebacker position. Ryan Shazier won’t be playing for at least a year and may never be the same player again.

30. Green Bay Packers- Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma

Anderson will be the featured player in Oklahoma’s offense this season. The Packers need to find a running back that can be consistently relied on.

31. Philadelphia Eagles-Marlon Davidson, DE, Auburn

The Eagles have a lot of good pass rushers, but some of them are aging. They can afford to take the best player available.

32. New England Patriots- Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn

Tom Brady can’t play forever and the Patriots need to find a new, young developmental quarterback.

 

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draft

Eagles trade back out of the first round

The first round of the NFL draft is in the books. While the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t make the flashiest choice, trading out of the first was the best way to maximize value. The second round will be tonight which will be when the Eagles finally make their first selection.

What did Philadelphia get out of the trade?

draft

Philadelphia’s remaining 2018 picks. Photo from Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles gave up their 32nd and 132nd overall picks to acquire the Baltimore Raven’s 52nd and 125th overall picks as well as next years second round choice. So in essence, the Eagles moved down 20 spots to move up five spots in the fourth round and receive Baltimore’s second round pick next year.

Why would the Eagles make this trade?

Philadelphia clearly was not in love with any of the prospects that are in line to be chosen at the beginning of the second round. In addition, they saw that they could move back and still draft a player with a similar grade and acquire the Ravens second-round pick in 2019 as well.

This year’s draft is considered unusually strong. This means that the difference between a third rounder and a second rounder, or even a late first-round selection is not as large as usual. The Eagles knew this and used it to their advantage. They leveraged the final pick in the first round to gain a second round pick next year. Lamar Jackson still being available also helped to increase the return in the trade. Now, if the Baltimore Ravens struggle next season, the Eagles could have a very valuable early second round pick.

Who could the Eagles select in the second?

draft

Darrius Guice. Photo from CBS Sports

The Eagles should be expected to be in the market for a running back, tight end, safety, offensive tackle or linebacker. The Eagles are such a strong team that they can wait until their pick and choose the best available prospect. That being said, offensive picks to look out for are: tight ends Dallas Goedert or Mike Gesicki. Offensive tackle Connor Williams and running back Darrius Guice will also be targeted. As for defensive picks, corners Isaiah Oliver and Donte Jackson, as well as saftey Justin Reid could be the pick.

At the end of the day, the person the Eagles pick will be the best player still available at 52nd.

Featured image from Philly Influencer

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NFL Draft Day sliders and risers

NFL Draft Day sliders and risers

With the NFL Draft beginning later today, all of the rumors of the the last few months will finally be shown to be either true or false. Today we cut through the noise and misdirection employed by many of the NFL’s teams and give a reasonable summary of some things to expect in this upcoming draft. To be more specific, who could slide and become a bargain, and who could be selected earlier than expected?

Sliders

Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen is the most pro-ready quarterback in this draft, playing in three separate pro-style offenses at UCLA. He knows much of the terminology used in the NFL as a result.

NFL Draft Day sliders and risers

Josh Rosen (Photo from AP)

However, with Sam Darnold the likely first overall pick in the draft and Baker Mayfield looking like he may have jumped up to be the second quarterback selected, Rosen could be left in a bit of a free fall. In addition to all of this, if a team becomes enamored with Josh Allen, he could be selected before Rosen. Therefore, it is not out of the question that he could fall all the way until the Miami Dolphins take him at the 11th pick.

Look for a team like Arizona to trade up to 10th to get ahead of the Dolphins if Rosen does slide. Overall, a slide on draft day might work out in Rosen’s favor. This is because he could end up on a team with a much higher talent level. For example, the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals are much better than a team like the New York Jets.

Antonio Callaway

News recently broke about Callaway testing positive for marijuana in his combine drug test. Callaway was considered a high upside day-2 pick. However, now he could be a late-round pick or even undrafted.

Callaway has the talent of a first-round prospect. This is offset by the fact that he has a poor reputation. He has already faced significant concerns off the field regarding a sexual assault allegation and drug misdemeanor charges. Although he was eventually cleared of wrongdoing in the sexual assault case, many people worry because the investigator looking into the incident was also a Gators football booster.

Callaway should still be selected. An NFL team would be hard-pressed to overlook the talent of a prospect who, minus the character concerns, could have been a day-1 selection.

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Minkah Fitzpatrick is a very talented defensive back. The issue that could cause him to slide is that teams may value Derwin James over Fitzpatrick. This is because James is more athletic and versatile. This is supported by the fact that Fitzpatrick may have been a little overhyped as a top-10 lock, especially when not many teams in the top 10 are looking for a defensive back. There also may be a rush for quarterbacks in the top 10, forcing top prospects at other positions to slide back.

Risers

Josh Sweat

NFL Draft Day sliders and risers

Josh Sweat (Photo from Glenn Beil of USA Today)

Pass rushers are valued at a premium in the NFL. The only position considered more important by evaluators is quarterback.

Josh Sweat went to Florida State as a five-star prospect and has all the athletic tools to become a dominant pass rusher. He stands at 6-foot-5 with long arms and a 4.53 40 time, which projects well for his ability at the next level. Main concerns about Sweat are his thin frame and injury history.

If we have learned anything in the last few drafts, it is that teams are willing to overlook some problems. Recent years of the draft have shown us many teams reach for a guy whose potential they believe in. In 2014, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Marcus Smith in the end of the first round despite his thin frame. In last year’s draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Taco Charlton at the end of the first round regardless of concerns about him. This year could be similar with Josh Sweat sneaking into the end of the first round.

Baker Mayfield

Over the last few weeks, we have seen Heisman winner Baker Mayfield rise from being projected in the mid to late teens. Now he is seen as a potential top-five pick. Originally, many thought he would not be selected early due to his size and character concerns. However, rumors have recently surfaced that Mayfield was being considered by the Browns at first overall. Plus, many well-informed insiders have been projecting him to be drafted in the top five or top 10.

Courtland Sutton

Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley has been considered the top receiver in this year’s draft for the most part. After a middling combine performance that failed to build hype, concern has been voiced about Ridley’s size and athleticism.

In addition, Courtland Sutton had a very nice combine performance and has prototypical size at 6-foot-3, 218 pounds. This means that he could rise up and surprise as the first receiver selected in the NFL draft. He has even been endorsed by the all-time best receiver Jerry Rice through a tweet on April 23.

Justin Reid

NFL Draft Day sliders and risers

Justin Reid at the NFL Combine. (Photo by Pats Pulpit)

Reid is an athletic playmaker at the safety position. He is able to play a center fielder type role as well as cover the slot. He could actually be the best center fielding safety in this whole draft.

Teams will see this, and a team who needs a cover safety as opposed to an enforcer type box safety could draft him towards the end of the first. At that point in the draft, many teams are looking to grab players they think will not last through the beginning of the second round. Teams to look out for are the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.

In the end, just like every year, this draft is sure to have some major surprises that no one saw coming. It will be interesting to see who will rise and fall this year.

 

Featured image from Yahoo Sports

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