defensive backs

Top 10 DBs that could make an impact in the NFL

There were a lot of players that were in the NFL Draft that would make an impact next season. Every defense needs good defensive backs that will be able to make plays and help win games. Here are the top ten defensive backs that could make an impact in the NFL.

1. Denzel Ward, CB—Cleveland Browns

defensive backs

Denzel Ward hits receiver. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

No question that the Browns are blessed to have one of the most phenomenal cornerbacks in the draft. Ward is a game changer. He plays excellent man coverage and is very physical. During his college career, Ward had a total of 67 tackles, 24 pass breakups and two interceptions. Ward is able to play tight on receivers and read routes very well.

2. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S—Miami Dolphins

Fitzpatrick is everything you want in a defensive back. He can read the quarterback really well, he’s a ballhawk, able to return interceptions back and is able to blitz and make plays in the backfield.  Fitzpatrick was a Freshman All American when he played for the University of Alabama. He was also named first team All American in 2017. He had a total of 171 tackles, five sacks, nine interceptions, 24 pass breakups, and ran four interceptions back for touchdowns. With his size and speed, Fitzpatrick will be a dangerous threat in the secondary.

3. Jaire Alexander, CB—Green Bay Packers

Alexander is an excellent playmaker who is able to cause turnovers. He’s able to play well in man coverage, and he’s able to catch interceptions and return them for touchdowns. Alexander is also phenomenal on special teams, catching punts and returning them to score. He had 77 total tackles, seven interceptions and 15 pass breakups for his whole career at Louisville.

4. Donte Jackson, CB—Carolina Panthers

defensive backs

Donte Jackson tackles receiver at LSU
(NOLA.com)

Jackson is young, tall, fast and physical. He is excellent at playing man coverage, and he knows how to track the ball very well. During his college career, Jackson had a total of 109 tackles, 17 pass breakups, four interceptions and a forced fumble. Jackson has also been second team All-SEC in 2017. He uses his speed in order to track down the ball and make something out of nothing.

5. Derwin James, S—Los Angeles Chargers

James was known for being one of the hardest hitting safeties in the ACC. Not only that he can read the quarterback in zone coverage, and play man-to-man coverage, he can come down and lay the boom on any offensive player. James is an athlete that can track down and make a play on the ball, and he is able to go down and blitz. James had a total of 186 tackles, 11 pass breakups, 5.5 sacks, and three interceptions during his college career at Florida State. He also earned second AP All American and All ACC honors. With James’ natural athletic ability, he will be a dangerous threat in the NFL.

6. Deshon Elliot, S—Baltimore Ravens

Here’s another hard-hitting safety that could also possibly become a threat later on. Elliot is an incredible athlete who can play outstanding zone defense, catch interceptions and can come down and lay the boom. He can also play the linebacker position. Elliot was a first team All-American and first team All-Big 12 honors back when he played for the University of Texas. He had a career total of 105 tackles, nine pass breakups and nine interceptions.

7. Anthony Averett, CB—Baltimore Ravens

Here is an underrated defensive back that is really slept on. Averett was able to show what he could do in the 2016-2017 season. Averett caught a lot of people’s attention, starting in 13 games and playing excellent man coverage on receivers. He may not be that big in size, but he’s fast and able to get to the quarterback during blitzes.

Averett had a career total of 90 tackles 15 pass breakups and an interception.

8. Josh Jackson, CB—Green Bay Packers

Jackson is an outstanding athlete who can play man coverage very well and play zone coverage. He is fast and has hands like a receiver. Jackson was the nation’s leader with eight interceptions and 26 pass breakups. He also earned first-team AP All American and first team all-Big Ten.

9. Mike Huges, CB—Minnesota Vikings

Huges is a major threat when it comes to making interceptions. He is an extraordinary ball hawk, he has speed and he can play zone and man coverage. Huges can also make an impact on special teams, returning kicks and running them in for touchdowns. He was an All American first team as a defensive back, with 44 tackles and four interceptions, and first team as a returner with 635 yards and two touchdowns.

10. Quenton Meeks, DB—Jacksonville Jaguars

Meeks is an all-around defensive back who can play the cornerback and safety position. He can read the quarterback really well and pick the ball off, and he can lock down a receiver pretty well. Meeks had a total of 113 tackles, seven interceptions and 12 pass breakups for his career at Stanford. With his amazing athletic ability, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ will be a great fit for him.

 

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Minnesota Vikings depth chart

Way-too-early Minnesota Vikings’ depth chart prediction

With the NFL Draft over and training camp over a month away, we are officially in the “dead zone” of the NFL offseason. With that being said, it is never too early to speculate how teams’ depth charts will look heading into next season.

The Minnesota Vikings have the majority of their depth chart set in stone, aside from some spots on offense. Here is a way-too-early Minnesota Vikings’ depth chart prediction.

Offense

Below is the current projected depth chart for the Minnesota Vikings. Rookies are in bold.

1 2 3 4 5
Quarterback Kirk Cousins Trevor Siemian Kyle Sloter
Running back Dalvin Cook Latavius Murray Mack Brown
Fullback C.J. Ham
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs Adam Thielen Kendall Wright Laquon Treadwell Tavarres King
Tight end Kyle Rudolph David Morgan Tyler Conklin
Left tackle Riley Reiff Rashod Hill
Left guard Nick Easton Cornelius Edison
Center Pat Elflein Josh Andrews
Right guard Mike Remmers Danny Isidora Colby Gossett
Right tackle Brian O’Neill Cedrick Lang
Minnesota Vikings depth chart

Kirk Cousins as a Washington Redskin. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

There are not too many surprises with the quarterback position. The Vikings signed Cousins to a massive three-year, $84 million contract during free agency. He will be the team’s franchise quarterback going forward.

Dalvin Cook missed most of last season due to an ACL tear. Prior to the injury, Cook was a favorite to win rookie of the year. His dynamic ability as a runner and receiver out of the backfield will make this offense one to be reckoned with.

There was some movement along the offensive line, as this was the Vikings’ biggest need heading into the offseason. Second-round pick Brian O’Neill will start at right tackle, forcing Mike Remmers inside at guard. It is likely that several of these linemen rotate to find the best combination of players.

Defense

Now moving on to defense, here is the anticipated depth chart. Again, rookies are in bold.

1 2 3 4 5
Left defensive end Danielle Hunter Brian Robison
Left defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson Jalyn Holmes
Right defensive tackle Linval Joseph Jaleel Johnson Dylan Bradley
Right defensive end Everson Griffen Tashawn Bower
Weak-side linebacker Ben Gedeon Reshard Cliett
Middle linebacker Eric Kendricks Eric Wilson
Strong-side linebacker Anthony Barr Kentrell Brothers
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes Trae Waynes Terence Newman Mike Hughes Mackensie Alexander
Strong safety Andrew Sendejo Anthony Harris
Free safety Harrison Smith Jack Tocho
Minnesota Vikings depth chart

Sheldon Richardson as a New York Jet. (Photo from turnonthejets.com)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The only new starter on the Minnesota Vikings’ defense is Sheldon Richardson. Richardson signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the team in March. He should provide an additional pass rush to Minnesota’s already stout defensive line.

Due to the amount of depth on the Vikings’ defense, rookies Mike Hughes and Jalyn Holmes will struggle to find playing time in 2018. However, Hughes should get on the field early as a returner.

One big question on the defense is the fate of linebacker Kentrell Brothers. Last month, Brothers was suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Seventh-round pick Devante Downs has the best chance of any of the Vikings’ linebackers to fill in for Brothers. However, this remains unlikely, due to Downs recovering from a serious leg injury.

Special Teams

Minnesota Vikings depth chart

Former Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson. (Photo by Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports)

  • Kicker: Daniel Carlson
  • Punter: Ryan Quigley
  • Long Snapper: Kevin McDermott

Don’t forget about special teams! The only change from the Vikings’ 2017 roster is at the kicker position. It is facetious to guess who will win the Vikings’ kicking job this early, but Daniel Carlson does appear to be the favorite.

At Auburn, Carlson displayed one of the strongest legs in football. Although his accuracy took a small dip in 2017, the Minnesota Vikings believe he can be the team’s long-term answer at the position.

 

Featured image by Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune

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Minnesota Vikings rookies

Instant impact: The Minnesota Vikings’ rookies

Every year, we hear the same question being asked after the NFL Draft: Who will be the next Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara or Andrew Luck? Rookie sensations take over the NFL each season, reshaping both their team and the league in the process. In 2017, Kamara made the Saints’ even more formidable, turning them into Super Bowl contenders.

With the 2018 NFL Draft long gone, it is time to predict which rookies will make an immediate impact with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have one of the best rosters in the league, but could still use an influx of young talent.

The following players are the three most likely to make an instant impact with Minnesota in 2018.

Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh

Minnesota Vikings rookies

Pitt tackle Brian O’Neill (No. 70). (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Leading the pack is the Vikings’ second-round pick, Brian O’Neill. The Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line has struggled for the last several years, making tackle a position of need. Last offseason, the Vikings signed tackles Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff in free agency. Both are just average starters and are getting older (29 years old each).

With Reiff locked in at left tackle, O’Neill will likely start on the right side. This will also allow Remmers to move inside at right guard, a position he is more suited for.

O’Neill is not the strongest of tackles, but was one of the most athletic offensive linemen in this year’s draft. He also has very long arms and good mechanics. At Pittsburgh, O’Neill played every game, which is a testament to his outstanding durability.

While he needs to become stronger to take on NFL pass rushers, the Vikings’ lack of depth along the offensive line will allow O’Neill to play early and often in 2018.

Chance of starting next season: 85 percent

Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

Despite him being Minnesota’s first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Mike Hughes is just a notch below O’Neill here. This is in large part due to the Vikings’ outstanding depth at the cornerback position. Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Terence Newman all have a greater chance at starting Week 1.

Minnesota Vikings rookies

UCF corner Mike Hughes returns a kickoff for a touchdown against rival USF. The return would end up being the game-winning score. (Photo by Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

In addition, coach Mike Zimmer is infamous for bringing along his rookies slowly. For example, both Waynes and Anthony Barr had to fight for playing time as rookies, despite being selected high in their respective drafts.

Hughes may not be quite ready to start on defense either. With limited experience at UCF, he would benefit from seeing a reduced role in 2018.

That being said, there is a high probability of Hughes becoming a force on special teams. He was one of the most dynamic kick returners in college, returning two kickoffs and a punt back for six points. His speed and physicality would make him an excellent gunner as well.

Hughes has the traits of a lockdown cornerback, but he needs some time to develop early on. Expect him to be featured on special teams, and eventually move into the slot corner role.

Chance of starting next season: 70 percent

Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan

Minnesota Vikings rookies

Former Central Michigan tight end Tyler Conklin. (Photo by Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)

Conklin is one of the more intriguing players in this year’s class. In 2016, he was one of the most dynamic players at the position, displaying great body control, hands and blocking ability. He is the stereotypical “basketball player converted tight end” and will be a great red zone target in the NFL.

Unfortunately, a severe foot injury derailed his 2017 season. Conklin looked unlike himself last season, struggling to find separation and was sluggish on the field. In order for him to make the 53-man roster, Conklin will need to bounce back from his injury fast. If he can return to his 2016 form, he could be a draft steal.

There is little depth at the tight end position behind Kyle Rudolph, so Conklin could easily become the Vikings No. 2. Kirk Cousins also enjoys utilizing his tight ends, making Conklin’s role even more important.

He still needs to fully recover, but Conklin could see plenty of playing time early in 2018.

Chance of starting next season: 35 percent

Bonus pick: Daniel Carlson, K, Auburn

Stop the presses. We got a kicker battle on our hands!

Carlson will be competing with 2017 starter Kai Forbath for the Vikings’ kicking job this summer. The outcome of these kicking competitions is always difficult to predict, making Carlson impossible to rank.

At Auburn, he displayed one of the strongest legs in football, making 13 field goals of over 50 yards. His accuracy took a slight hit compared to his 2015-16 stats, but was still one of the best kickers in the draft.

 

Featured image from the Associated Press

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A dream come true: Shaquem Griffin

Dreams really do come true during the NFL draft. Every year, players are surrounded by family and loved ones, waiting for their names to be called across the screen. Emotions are built up to this moment. Many players that have struggled in the past feel accomplished as they walk across that stage. They stand proud, holding their new jerseys, and they finally say, “I made it.”

They all have been through adversity, and this player is an example. He even did it with one hand! Yes, Shaquem Griffin made it to the NFL with only one hand.

Meet Shaquem Griffin

Griffin was born with amniotic syndrome, which is a congenital disorder that narrows the appendages, including the hands and feet. He was born with soft tissue in his fingers. When Griffin was four years old, he attempted to self-amputate his fingers with a kitchen knife, because he was in so much pain. Then, his parents caught him and they scheduled an amputation on his left hand the next day. His parents raised him the same way along with his twin brother, Shaquil.

Shaquem Griffin

Shaquem Griffin
(Sporting news)

When Shaquem started playing football at a young age, a coach tried to get him disqualified because he believed that football was a two-hand sport. That didn’t stop Griffin. He and his brother continued to play the sport that they love all the way through high school. Both of them were offered and ended up committing to the University of Central Florida during their senior year.

Career at UCF

Shaquem only played one game during his sophomore year and a little bit of special teams. Then he was moved down to third string while his brother started at corner, and eventually making it to the league a year later. Shaquem was left behind, being demoted to a redshirt, then getting sent back home during the start of his third season. It felt like all hope was lost for him, but he still refused to give up. Shaquem returned to UCF in 2016, and played linebacker. He led the Knights with 92 total tackles, 11.5 sacks, 20 tackles for loss and an interception, yeah, an INTERCEPTION. He was also named the American Athletic Conference Defensive player of the year.

Shaquem Griffin

Shaquem Griffin sacks Auburn quarterback
(yahoo sports)

During 2017, Griffin led the defense again with 74 tackles, seven sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, three pass break ups and an interception. Pretty amazing for a guy that’s six foot, weighing 227 lbs, with one hand right? He even made first team all-conference for the second year in a row and helped UCF to become the only undefeated team in the nation. Shaquem even tried out for the NFL combine.

Pro Day

On his day at the combine, Griffin showed the scouts what he was made of. He ran a 4.38 in the 40 yard dash, (which is the fastest time from a linebacker since 2013), 20 reps on bench press with 225 lbs, and 117 inches on the broad jump. Due to his numbers, many NFL scouts were impressed.

On Saturday, April 22, 2018, it was Griffin’s moment of truth. With the 141st pick in the fifth round of the NFL draft, Griffin was selected by the Seattle Seahawks. That’s not all, he is also reunited with his twin brother who plays as a corner for them. This has been the brothers’ dream to play on the same team with each other, since they were little and now it’d finally became a reality.

Shaquem Griffin going through drills at the NFL draft Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

He would be an outstanding addition to the Seahawks’ legendary defense. Sources say that head coach Pete Caroll would put Shaquem at outside linebacker where he can put his speed to good use and come off the edge to make plays. Safe to say, that dreams do come true to those who are patient and never give up.

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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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2018 NFL Draft recap

4 things we know after the 2018 NFL Draft

The 2018 NFL Draft is in the books. It takes a couple years to really know which teams nailed it and which teams whiffed. Thus, the concept of giving out nothing more than simple draft grades in the days immediately following it is fun, but somewhat foolish.

However, we now have a better idea of how teams view themselves and how they will fare in the fall. Here are a few things we learned over the three day extravaganza.

Denver does not view Case Keenum as a stopgap 

After scouting every elite quarterback in the draft, Denver passed on drafting a quarterback altogether. Instead, the Broncos bolstered an already loaded pass rush after Bradley Chubb fell into their lap. Then, John Elway spent five of his remaining picks on running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.

Incoming rookie receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton in particular could be asked to make an impact right away. A consistent third pass catcher to take the heat off of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders has been lacking for a few years now.

2018 NFL Draft recap

(Photo from wralsportsfan.com)

The Broncos clearly think Case Keenum can lead them right back into contention in 2018 and beyond. He has almost everything a quarterback needs to succeed, much like he did in Minnesota. Defense was the centerpiece of the Vikings last year and it will be for the Broncos this year.

It is a little bit surprising that Denver spent only one draft pick on offensive line. The decision-makers there are putting their faith in Garett Bolles to make a huge leap forward in his second year and veterans Ronald Leary and Jared Veldheer to stay healthy and stabilize a unit that has needed help for a long time.

Still, it is now apparent that the Broncos think they can win now and are reloading, not rebuilding.

Cleveland did not learn from history, but also hopes not to repeat it 

Baker Mayfield and Johnny Manziel are different people, but the comparison really does write itself. They are both undersized quarterbacks who won the Heisman Trophy after dominating college football for a very short period of time. Moreover, the Browns ignored significant off-the-field concerns in hopes that they could resurrect a dead franchise.

Manziel failed spectacularly, and that is largely on him. But Cleveland has been the worst culture for young quarterbacks to develop in the last 20 years. Manziel had no chance to succeed there. Tyrod Taylor is a solid quarterback that is more than capable of getting the Browns at least four wins this year. That should lessen the immediate pressure on Mayfield. This, combined with the fact that Mayfield’s rough edges are a little smoother than Manziel’s give him a better chance to do well in Cleveland.

Still, the Browns going with Mayfield after the Manziel experience straddles the line between gutsy and stupid. No one would argue that Sam Darnold is not a safer prospect, even the temperamental Josh Rosen would have raised a few less eyebrows.

The Patriots are not concerned about Tom Brady’s age 

Whether it is Robert Kraft or Bill Belichick calling the shots in Patriot land nowadays, this is the only conclusion that can be drawn. Jimmy Garoppolo is in San Francisco, Tom Brady is 40 and New England passed on taking Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph.

New England did take a quarterback in the seventh round, but LSU’s Danny Etling was not on most radars as a draftable prospect. The Patriots have outsmarted everyone with quarterbacks in the late rounds of the draft before, but it is hard to imagine Etling was drafted with the idea of being Brady’s successor. We know that 32-year-old Brian Hoyer certainly is not Brady’s successor either.

Regardless of how dedicated Brady is, quarterbacks fall off a cliff quickly in the NFL. The most recent example of this is Peyton Manning, who was younger than Brady is now when he played his final season, which was also his worst statistically. The lack of a long-term plan at quarterback is slowly putting New England’s position as the NFL’s gold standard in more and more jeopardy.

Russell Wilson is going to run for his life again in 2018 

When the awesome story of the Griffin brothers is put aside, Seattle’s draft as a whole is worrisome. They reached by as much as two rounds for running back Rashaad Penny and tight end Will Dissly, but that is not all.

2018 NFL Draft recap

(Photo from nocoastbias.com)

Seattle’s offensive line was atrocious last year. At its worst, there were games where Russell Wilson was pressured on a third of his drop backs. The only reason Wilson lived to tell about it is because he is one of the most mobile quarterbacks on the planet. His arm and legs created all but one of Seattle’s offensive touchdowns last year. Wilson was able to keep Seattle relevant until the very end of the regular season.

Wilson will need a repeat performance to do the same this year. The Seahawks continued their long standing reputation of refusing to invest in the offensive line. They only took one and waited until the fifth round to do so. They even traded up to take a punter before paying any attention to their biggest need.

This was a very deep draft for offensive lineman. Thus, it feels like the Seahawks missed a big chance to improve. With the “Legion of Boom” pretty much a memory, Wilson really is the only thing this franchise has going for it. After this draft, the weight of the world remains on his shoulders.

 

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Rookies to target in fantasy football 2018

With the NFL Draft being over, fantasy owners can start plotting their picks for months down the road. A lot of fantasy eligible players were drafted, but not all will have successful rookie seasons. Here are rookies to target in fantasy football for 2018.

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

This one is the biggest no-brainer. Barkley is going to be the workhorse back from day one for the Giants. He is capable of handling 20+ carries a game and also provides a good receiver out of the backfield. The Giants likely won’t use him as a returner, but he also is good at that. The most talented running back in the class will have an opportunity to get a lot of touches in his rookie season.

If he doesn’t work out as a great fantasy player, it will be due to his offensive line. It was addressed this offseason with the acquisition of Nate Solder. The Giants also got the best run blocker in the class in Will Hernandez, who will be clearing holes for Barkley for years to come. It still isn’t a great offensive line but it should be vastly improved over last season.

Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Rookies to target in fantasy football 2018

Josh Rosen (Photo by arizonasports.com)

Taking a rookie quarterback in fantasy is always a risk, but if a rookie quarterback does pan out, it will be Rosen. He was selected with the 10th overall pick after the Cardinals traded up to get him. The Cardinals do have Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon, but Bradford has been unable to stay healthy throughout his career, leaving opportunity for Rosen to take over if he doesn’t beat them out for the job at the start of the season.

Rosen is one of the most pro-ready quarterbacks in the class and playing on the Cardinals will help his development. David Johnson will return from injury to give him a running game and a safety valve of a receiver. Larry Fitzgerald is back for another season and the legend should be able to help Rosen come on more quickly. Arizona also selected Christian Kirk for Rosen to grow with. The offensive line wasn’t good last year, which could be an issue for Rosen if he does get snaps this season.

Calvin Ridley, WR, ATlanta Falcons

Ridley fell all the way to pick number 26 in the NFL Draft, but he ended up in a great position. Matt Ryan will love Ridley’s athleticism and route-running abilities and will likely try to get the ball to him often. He didn’t have the best quarterback play in college and projects as a better pro than a college player.

Steve Sarkisian could hold Ridley back if he calls plays the way he did last year. Ridley could also be the fourth option a lot of times with Jones, Sanu and Hooper. The hope is that he can end up being the number two receiver in the offense when it’s all said and done.

D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

Moore was the first receiver selected in the NFL Draft and even if he isn’t the best receiver in the class, he is going to have a lot of balls thrown his way next season. Cam Newton has Greg Olsen and Devin Funchess to throw to and that’s about it. He figures to get the second or third most targets on the team.

In college, Moore excelled on almost entirely screens and slants, so he’ll have to adjust his game a little bit. He has good run after the catch ability but needs to show he can run routes down the field and be successful. If he does only excel at short routes, he is at risk of having Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel steal some of his targets.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Rookies to target in fantasy football 2018

Rashaad Penny (Photo by fieldgulls.com)

The Seahawks may have reached to select Penny in the NFL Draft but that likely means they have big plans for him. Penny is the most talented running back on the roster with the others being Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise, Mike Davis, JD McKissic and Tre Madden. He should get the majority of the work in the 2018 season.

Penny had a great season at San Diego State and can stay on the field for all three downs with his receiving ability. The offensive line for the Seahawks still isn’t great, with Duane Brown being the only solid offensive lineman on the roster, so he may need to catch more passes for his yardage than if he were on a team with a normal offensive line.

Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones was selected early in the second round and will have a chance to be the starting running back. Doug Martin is now a Raider, while Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers leave a lot to be desired at the position. The Bucs will want to establish more of a running game this season to help open things up for Jameis Winston in the passing game.

Tampa Bay is another team that doesn’t have a great offensive line, but it is much better than the Seahawks’ and Giants’. Jones is quicker than fast and will have to use that ability in tight spaces. Winston will need to look for him out of the backfield as a receiver to maximize his potential.

Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins

Guice fell in the draft due to reported character concerns so the Redskins scooped him up late in the second round. If he can stay focused on the field, he was a great value pick. Chris Thompson will be a great third down back for Alex Smith to use as a target out of the backfield, but Washington needed a workhorse back and Guice can fill that role.

There are holes on the offensive line, but they have a few really good offensive linemen as well. Guice has a good combination of speed and power and will be a good running back early on in his career if he sees the field.

 

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Best undrafted players for the 2018 NFL Draft

A lot of picks were made over seven rounds, 256 to be exact, but there are still some really good rookies on the market looking for a team. Who were the best players that weren’t drafted?

Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia

Thompson left Georgia early and went undrafted. He had a lot of experience playing for the Bulldogs but didn’t produce a lot for them. He was an important cog on a really good defense that carried the team to a CFP Championship Game Appearance.

Any team looking for interior line depth should give Thompson a camp invite. He is athletic and disruptive and could make a team if given the opportunity to do so.

Skai Moore, LB, South Carolina

There are some concerns about Moore’s durability, but he was a great college player at South Carolina. Teams may not have wanted to use a pick on someone with injury issues, but may rather invite him to camp and see what he can do and if he can stay healthy there.

Moore is especially good in coverage, intercepting a lot of passes over his years as a Gamecock. He also has great awareness and instincts, which is a great quality to have in a player who will likely be a backup.

Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa

Best undrafted players 2018 NFL Draft

Akrum Wadley (Photo by youtube.com)

Wadley isn’t an every-down back but definitely can fill a role for an NFL team. He is undersized, which may have given teams a reason to pause and think about if they want to invest in him. His top end speed also came into question with his 4.54 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine.

His greatest asset is his ability to catch passes out of the backfield. If he can learn to block, he can become a good third down back for an NFL team. He has good moves to make defenders miss and good quickness. He will likely get scooped up early in the undrafted free agent market.

Jeff Holland, DE/OLB, Auburn

Holland was another player who left school early for his shot in the pros. The decision may be something that he wants back now, but he could garner some interest in the UFA market. He lacks elite athleticism at the position, which likely scared teams away.

His motor and tough play style are the biggest things he has going for him. He had a lot of pressures last year and can get off the snap quickly. He shouldn’t be sitting on his couch for long.

Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame

Best undrafted players 2018 NFL Draft

Josh Adams (Photo by onefootdown.com)

Adams left school early as well, but the decision is a little bit different for running backs who have a short shelf life. He runs to high and is an easy target to find for defenders because he is so tall. Most of his production is attributed to having two first-round linemen, Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey, blocking ahead of him.

He is fast, big and can catch out of the backfield, but his acceleration, agility and power aren’t great. There will be a spot for him in a camp, but he needs to show that his production had a lot to do with him and not just the blockers in front of him.

Other notable undrafted players: Tegray Scales LB Indiana, Kevin Toliver CB LSU, Holton Hill CB Texas, Quenton Meeks CB Stanford, Tony Brown CB Alabama, Sean Welsh OG/C Iowa, Kurt Benkert QB Virginia, Tarvarus McFadden CB Florida State, Quinton Flowers QB USF

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Best prospects left for day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft

Three rounds of the NFL Draft are now over, but more quality players still are without a team. Who are some of the best prospects still waiting to find out where their pro career will start?

Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

Hurst was a borderline first-round prospect and still has not been selected. He did have a heart issue that was found at the NFL Combine, which must be what is holding him back. Doctors in Michigan said that he was cleared to play, but team doctors could have found something different that is making them hesitate to pick him.

Although Hurst is a little undersized for a defensive tackle he is disruptive and has a good motor. He can be an impact player in the NFL if he is healthy. Look for Hurst to be selected early in day three if there aren’t more reports that come out about his heart condition.

Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

Best players available for day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft

Equanimeous St. Brown (Photo by und.com)

St. Brown is better than a few receivers that have already been selected. He didn’t have consistent quarterback play at Notre Dame last season and fails to run routes well, but the latter is coachable and the former is out of his control.

The Notre Dame product is a good combination of size and speed, which would lead people to believe he should already be selected. He made acrobatic catches and is good after the catch as a receiver. In the right system, and possibly playing with the right quarterback, St. Brown can develop into a star.

Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa

Jewell doesn’t have all the athletic traits that teams want out of a linebacker at the NFL level. He also ran a 4.82 40 yard dash time, which means he will have to react to plays much quicker in order to make plays on the ball, as he doesn’t have the speed to get there. Since he isn’t the biggest linebacker either, he has fallen down draft boards.

His instincts and awareness made him a great college player and will be what he has to rely on in the pros. He has a good motor and plays physically. Despite his physical limitations, a coach would love to have Jewell on their team because he works hard and has a high football IQ.

Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech

Best players available for day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft

Tim Settle (Photo by roanoke.com)

The Edmunds brothers are off the board now, but there is another Virginia Tech defender who will get drafted on day three in Tim Settle. He is likely in this position due to a poor combine and the tape shows a player who needs to add more moves to get around blockers. Settle can also be a better hand fighter, which will help him be successful at the NFL level.

Settle is huge and can fit in the middle of a team’s 3-4 defense as the nose tackle. For a player that size, Settle has surprisingly light feet and quickness. He is decently fast at the snap of the ball and should be able to take on multiple NFL blockers. Teams with a 3-4 scheme will want to get him sooner rather than later.

Duke Ejiofor, EDGE, Wake Forest

The best edge rusher left is Duke Ejiofor. He isn’t the most athletic edge rusher but was able to be an impact player in college. He was on the NFL Draft radar dating back to last year and likely thought he would be drafted by now.

What Ejiofor lacks in athleticism he makes up for with great hands that he uses to disrupt an offensive tackle’s blocking technique. He also provides some versatility as he can rush the passer from both the inside and out, which is more important now in the NFL as edge rushers now move inside sometimes on passing downs.

Other notable players still available: Dalton Schultz TE, Trenton Thompson DT, Da’Shawn Hand DE, Anthony Averett CB, Shaquem Griffin LB, Kyle Lauletta QB 

 

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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?

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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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