Atlanta Falcons 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is under two weeks away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Atlanta Falcons 2018 NFL Draft profile.


Atlanta Falcons NFL Draft profile

Julio Jone (Photo by

After their Super Bowl appearance two seasons ago, the Falcons won 10 games last year. They were bounced out of the playoffs in the Divisional Round by the eventual champions, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Their defense stepped up last season, ranking eighth in points allowed per game. Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t get going like in previous years and they ranked 15th in point per game. The Falcons were able to move the ball decently but failed to reach the end zone on a lot of drives.

A lot of the blame has been placed on offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, as he failed to get wide receiver Julio Jones involved in the offense near the goal line. Jones finished the season with just three receiving touchdowns, which severely limited the Falcons’ offense.

Sarkisian and most players from the Falcons’ offense return for next season, so they will have to figure out how to get the most out of the talent on their roster. Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu and Austin Hooper are the playmakers on offense. Atlanta should be pretty set with that but may need some more depth at some of those positions heading into next season.

The offensive line was solid for Atlanta last season, but this might be a place where they try to use a draft pick for depth or to enhance one of their weaker positions.

On the defensive side of the ball, the unit was improved, but Adrian Clayborne left via free agency. Takkarist McKinley will be tasked with stepping up on the opposite side of the field of Vic Beasley Jr. Beasley only had five sacks in 14 games and will also need to improve for next season. Grady Jarrett is solid at the defensive tackle position, but more will be needed.

Their linebackers are young and talented, leaving little to be addressed at the position. The Falcons have made a concerted effort to improve their secondary through the draft the last couple of years and have built a good secondary, which allows the 13th fewest passing yards per game in the league.

Atlanta still has a solid roster and with a good draft, can put themselves right back in the Super Bowl next season.

Picks and Needs

The Falcons have seven picks in the draft. They traded their fifth-round pick to the Bills and received a compensatory pick in the seventh round to reach that number.

First Round (1 pick): 26

Second Round (1): 58

Third Round (1): 90

Fourth Round (1): 126

Fifth Round (0): 

Sixth Round (1): 200

Seventh Round (2): 244, 256

Offensive needs:

Wide receiver- Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu are a good start to a receiving core, but there isn’t much behind them. They can take a receiver in the middle rounds of the draft, who should be able to give them more depth at the position.

Offensive line depth- Brandon Fusco was signed to play guard, but a few more players to fill out the roster could be added in the draft.

Backup quarterback- Matt Ryan is here to stay, but if he goes down with an injury, the Falcons aren’t looking too great. Matt Schaub and Garrett Grayson are the other quarterbacks on the roster, but Atlanta could take a project quarterback to sit and learn behind Matt Ryan.

Defensive needs:

Defensive tackle- Jarrett is good, but after Dontari Poe left in free agency a replacement is needed. They gave up the ninth fewest rushing yards in the league last season and will want to keep that up.

Defensive end depth- Brooks Reed and McKinley will help fill the void left by Clayborne, but more pass rushers will be needed in to bolster their depth chart.  


Atlanta Falcons 2018 NFL Draft profile

Taven Bryan (Photo by

First round: 

Pick No. 26: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida 

The Falcons can likely get a replacement for Poe in round one. With a few talented defensive tackles in the class, one could fall to number 26. Bryan is athletic for a defensive tackle and can start from day one if needed. He is most known for stopping the run, but can also help out the pass rush, as he had four sacks last season for the Gators.

Second round: 

Pick No. 58: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

In order to find another viable option at the receiver position, the Falcons can select Anthony Miller. He has the versatility to play in the slot or on the outside and made tons of highlight reel catches in college. He does have inconsistent hands and isn’t the biggest, but he makes plays. With him, Sanu, Jones and Hooper on the field, the Falcons should be able to return to offensive prominence.

Third round:

Pick No. 90: Austin Corbett, G/C, Nevada

Atlanta will see how Fusco does at right guard but may want to have a backup plan in case things don’t go well. Corbett has drawn comparisons to the Browns’ Joel Bitonio because they both played at Nevada and will move from tackle to the inside of the line. If he can figure out the nuances of playing guard at the NFL level, he could take the job from Fusco.


There isn’t much separating this team from another shot at the Super Bowl. If Sarkisian calls the right plays, this team has the talent to do a lot of damage. If they can fill their few needs in the draft, they will be ready to roll for the start of the 2018 season.


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Minnesota Vikings pre-draft visits

Minnesota Vikings pre-draft visit tracker

In the NFL, draft season is also referred to as smokescreen season. We have seen countless teams pump out rumors of being “all in” on certain players to send other teams into a frenzy. At this time of the year, it can be extremely difficult to discern what is true and what is false. Despite this, looking at a team’s draft prospect visits can shed some light on who they are truly interested in.

So far, the Minnesota Vikings have had 25 of their allotted 30 private visits of college draft prospects. Listed below are the most notable of the Vikings’ pre-draft visits.

Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia

Minnesota Vikings pre-draft visits

Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter (Photo from

Carter reportedly visited the Vikings as a top-30 visit on April 4. He also met with the team during the NFL Combine last month. Carter is a tremendous athlete with good pass rushing skills and is expected to be a second-round pick. His main concerns are his lack of strength and hand usage when pass rushing, which hurts his ability to play as a 4-3 defensive end. This should be corrected through proper conditioning and coaching, however.

Although he was outshined by teammate Roquan Smith, Carter has the ability to become an NFL starter. If taken by the Vikings, Carter would likely fill in as a weakside linebacker.

Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida

Mike Hughes of UCF is another defensive star that had a top-30 visit with the Vikings. Hughes is a pretty raw corner prospect, with only two years of playing experience. However, he has the traits and ball skills that defensive coordinators covet, making him a likely first-round pick.

Along with this, Hughes is also an explosive kick returner. Last season at UCF, Hughes returned two kickoffs and a punt back of six points, including a game-winner against rival South Florida. Hughes is primed to make an immediate impact as a returner and will gradually gain more snaps on defense.

Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

McGlinchey is one of the top tackle prospects in this year’s draft, and for good reason. He is very athletic and has pro-ready technique, allowing him to become an early NFL starter. He needs more strength to hold up against powerful pass rushers, but is still seen as a first-round talent. With an offensive line desperate for more depth, the Minnesota Vikings may very well draft McGlinchey with the 30th overall pick.

Frank Ragnow, C/G, Arkansas

Minnesota Vikings pre-draft visits

Arkansas Center/Guard Frank Ragnow (Photo by

Arkansas’ Frank Ragnow made a top-30 visit with the Minnesota Vikings on April 3 and 4, according to several reports. The Vikings also interviewed Ragnow during the NFL Combine. He is one of the most versatile interior offensive lineman in this year’s draft, with experience at both center and guard.

He excels at both pass and run protection, making him a likely first or second-round pick. If Minnesota does select Ragnow, he will likely be moved to guard and is expected to start right away.

Connor Williams, G/T, Texas

Minnesota Vikings pre-draft visits

Texas tackle Connor Williams (Photo from

Williams is one of the more intriguing tackle prospects in this year’s draft. After a stellar 2016 season, he followed it up with a rather disappointing 2017 season. Williams’ clean technique and footwork regressed last year, leaving some scouts to doubt whether he is a true first-round talent.

Williams has the build and athleticism to play at any spot along the offensive line, which is an extremely valuable trait to have. With the Vikings, he would most likely start his career as a guard and eventually be moved out to the tackle position.

Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Harrison is a complete safety prospect and is likely to be picked in the early rounds of the draft. Harrison has the speed and skill to play either free or strong safety, although he is more suited for the latter. He needs additional coaching on pass coverage, but should be a solid starter early in his career. The Vikings do not have a huge need at safety, but Harrison could be an eventual replacement for strong safety Andrew Sendejo.

Other notable top-30 visits

  • Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
  • P.J. Hall, NT, Sam Houston State
  • Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State
  • Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA
  • Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
  • Uchenna Nwosu, OLB, USC
  • Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
  • Justin Reid, S, Stanford

Featured image by Joe Robbins / Getty Images

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Green Bay Packers 2018 Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is less than a month away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Green Bay 2018 NFL Draft profile.


The Green Bay Packers were riding high early in 2017. They went 4-1 in the first five games of the regular season. Furthermore, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was red hot on the field, throwing 13 touchdowns and only three picks. But on Oct. 15 last year, the ride was ruined.

Green Bay Packers 2018 NFL Draft profile

Aaron Rodgers (Photo by Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

Rodgers fractured his right collarbone in a loss to the Minnesota Vikings. With their Pro Bowl field general on injured reserve, Green Bay failed to regain its footing.

Brett Hundley took over the next few games. He did his best to keep the Packers in playoff contention, but defenses took advantage of not seeing No. 12 under center and delivered the pain.

Hundley finished 2017 with 1,836 passing yards, nine touchdowns with 12 interceptions. In addition, the Packers finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs.

Overall, 2017 was not very kind to Green Bay. Offensively, the Packers finished 26th in yards and 21st in points. Their offensive line allowed 51 sacks last season, the fifth most in the NFL, and 104 quarterback hits, which was the ninth most. On defense, the Packers surrendered 24 points per game and 348.9 yards per game.

The Packers’ offseason was nothing short of eventful. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson won’t be calling Lambeau Field home anymore. Other starters have gone on to free agency. But Green Bay has brought known names into its ranks, including tight end Jimmy Graham, former Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson.

But even with these notable names on board, the Packers still have work to do.

Picks and Needs

The Green Bay Packers have the highest number of picks in this draft with 12. Green Bay can impact its roster with youth and depth where needed most.

First round (1 pick): 14

Second round (1): 45

Third round (1): 76

Fourth round (2): 101, 133

Fifth round (3): 138, 172, 174

Sixth round (2): 186, 207

Seventh round (2): 232, 239

Offensive needs:

Wide receiver – With Jordy Nelson no longer a Packer, Rodgers will need another dependable weapon. With Jimmy Graham, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, adding another receiver can create a nightmare air attack.

Right guard – Releasing their Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton in 2016 was a bad idea. Rodgers has been pelted left and right even more since then, sometimes leading to injuries. Drafting an offensive lineman can help prolong Rodgers’ career.

Running back – Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery both fought through injuries last season. Though both players are young with plenty of potential, drafting another running back can create depth in the backfield. This can also take pressure away from the passing game and keep defenses guessing.

Defensive needs:

Cornerback – Green Bay gave up 236.8 yards per game through the air, the 10th most in the league. The Packers will need an impact player at cornerback that can take wide receivers out of the game. Adding 35-year-old former Packer Tramon Williams can bring leadership and experience to that department, but more must still be done at this position.

Strong safety – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has no doubt found his groove at free safety. But the Packers will need more for the secondary. Green Bay can grab a strong safety that can both fly around to the ball and bring pressure to the strong side.

Outside linebacker – Clay Matthews’ days in the NFL are not infinite, and the rest of Green Bay’s outside linebackers are young. The Sam and Will backer spots will need someone that can shut down the outside run and create more pressure on the quarterback.

Inside linebacker – For their 3-4 scheme, the Mike and Rover linebackers are crucial for stopping the inside ground game and leading the front seven. The Packers can draft someone with a nose for the football and can fly around, disrupting the pass game in coverage.


These are the players the Green Bay Packers can reasonably add to their roster. Though most of their picks are in later rounds, Green Bay can set the tone with their first three picks.

First round:

Pick No. 14: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama

Green Bay Packers 2018 NFL Draft profile

Fitzpatrick while in University of Alabama (Photo from Full Press Coverage)

The reigning Jim Thorpe Award winner brings versatility that Green Bay needs in the secondary. During his time with the Crimson Tide, Fitzpatrick showcased his blitzing capability, along with experience at different defensive back positions. His competitive attitude can ignite a spark for his teammates, and he can be a weapon on special teams. At 6-foot-1, 201 pounds, his size can give him the advantage in numerous situations.

Second round:

Pick No. 45: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia

Though many predict he will walk the stage in the first round, Wynn can bring much-needed protection up front. His footwork and fluidity can produce problems for the defensive line. Though not the biggest frame-wise at the guard position, Wynn’s ability to stay with the block until the whistle will prove vital for offensive production.

Third round:

Pick No. 76: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

The former Memphis Tiger has proven his worth and productivity while in college. Being a former walk-on has fueled his competitive drive and has earned himself All-American and All-AAC honors, along with school receiving records to his name. If Green Bay picks him up, Miller can become a lethal slot receiver. Though not from a Power Five conference and under 6-foot tall, Miller no doubt can prove overlooking him to be a grave mistake.


The Green Bay Packers have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball. But as the team with the largest number of picks in the draft, they should be able to tighten those loose screws. Every pick will be important if Green Bay wants to get back in the playoffs.

Enjoy the rest of the 2018 Draftmas! Tune in tomorrow as we cover the Arizona Cardinals 2018 Draft profile.


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San Francisco 49ers 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is now under a month away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into the NFL Draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. You will find it here. Draftmas will continue with the San Francisco 49ers 2018 NFL Draft profile. 


San Francisco 49ers 2018 NFL Draft profile

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. (Photo from

For the San Francisco 49ers, the beginning of the 2017 season was a complete disaster. The 49ers lost their first nine games and entered December with a 1-10 record. They then got hot, winning their last five games in a row. This hot streak was sparked by the addition of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who came in a trade with the New England Patriots.

Offensively, the 49ers exceeded all expectations, thanks to new head coach Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers ranked ninth in passing yards per game and 12th in total offense. Their rushing attack was not as impressive, ranking 21st in the league. The struggles in the running game were mainly due to average offensive line play and constantly playing from behind last season.

The Garoppolo trade was the highlight of the year in San Francisco, and it appears that the 49ers now have their quarterback of the future. Garoppolo signed a five-year, $137 million contract extension with the team in February. The 49ers will look to add talent around their new quarterback during the offseason. They recently signed running back Jerick McKinnon and center Weston Richburg in free agency.

On defense, the 49ers ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every category. Despite having some talented players (DeForest Buckner and Reuben Foster), the Niners struggled to stop anyone in 2017. The team signed former Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman to a three-year deal, but there is still much more work to be done.

Aside from defensive tackle and cornerback, the 49ers could use help at any position on the defensive side of the ball.

Picks and Needs

The San Francisco 49ers have nine picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. This will give them plenty of opportunities to continue rebuilding their team with young talent.

First round (1 pick): 9

Second round (1): 59

Third round (1): 70, 74

Fourth round (1): 128

Fifth round (1): 143

Sixth round (1): 184

Seventh round (1): 223, 240

San Francisco 49ers 2018 NFL Draft profile

Former Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon signed a four-year deal with the 49ers this offseason. (Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

Offensive needs:

Running back – This may be an odd choice since the 49ers recently signed Jerick McKinnon to a four-year, $30 million deal. However, McKinnon and Matt Breida are both pass-catching backs. Adding a power back later in the draft for early downs will form a more complete running back room.

Wide receiver – Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin are talented pass catchers, but neither are true No. 1 receivers. Finding Garoppolo a legitimate weapon in the passing game would make this offense one of the league’s best.

Guard – The 49ers signed free agents Weston Richburg and Jonathan Cooper in free agency to help their offensive line. However, if you are going to pay your quarterback over $27 million per year, you need to do everything possible to protect him.

Defensive needs:

Linebacker – When he is on the field, Reuben Foster is a force in the middle of the 49ers defense. However, outside linebackers Malcolm Smith and Eli Harold are just average starters. Adding more talent around Foster will help unlock his full potential and fix the run defense.

Safety – The absence of Eric Reid leaves a hole in the back of the defense. The 49ers’ pass defense was below average in 2017, and a rangy free safety will help limit any big passing plays. With a new safety and an improved cornerback group, the 49ers’ secondary could greatly improve.


First round:

Pick No. 9: Derwin James, S, Florida State

As a former safety himself, general manager John Lynch knows the importance of an enforcer in the backfield. Derwin James is best suited as a strong safety but can play free safety as well. He is extremely versatile and can excel in almost any defensive scheme. In his time at Florida State, he displayed excellent ball skills and tackling ability. If the 49ers can pair James with their improved cornerback corps, their secondary could quietly be one of the league’s best.

Second round:

Pick No. 59: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

Hernandez may not make it past the first round, but this year’s draft is very deep for interior offensive linemen. This may allow Hernandez to slip to the 49ers at pick No. 59. Hernandez is somewhat undersized but has all of the traits of a starting guard in the NFL. He displayed excellent strength and run-blocking ability and performs adequately in pass protection. If Hernandez manages to fall to pick No. 59, the 49ers should jump at the chance to draft him.

Third round:

San Francisco 49ers 2018 NFL Draft profile

Georgia running back Nick Chubb. Chubb is expected to be picked between the second and fourth round. (Photo from

Pick No. 70: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

Nick Chubb is the type of running back that could be the thunder to Jerick McKinnon’s lightning. He does not display excellent speed or catching ability but could be a solid early-down back. Chubb runs with a low center of gravity and is very strong in between the tackles. If he falls this far in the draft, the 49ers can form an impressive three-headed running back committee.

Pick No. 74: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

Wide receiver is not a deep position in this year’s draft, so it may be wise to wait until the later rounds to add another pass catcher. Miller is not the big-bodied threat the 49ers need but can be a strong supporting member in the passing game. He shows outstanding potential with good route running and work ethic. Miller still needs to improve his reliability and avoid costly drops. If so, he could get playing time early as the 49ers’ third receiver.


The San Francisco 49ers’ main goal during the draft should be to surround Jimmy Garoppolo with as much talent as possible. With a limited amount of talented tight ends and wide receivers, the 49ers may focus on improving the running game, which was one of the league’s worst in 2017. After having a solid draft, the 49ers may have a chance at making the playoffs as a Wild Card in 2018.

Enjoy the days of Draftmas here at The Game Haus! Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the Oakland Raiders 2018 NFL Draft profile.


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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Memphis and Iowa State may not seem like a great bowl game, but it should be competitive. There will be a few key players making impacts for both teams and some of them will be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl:

Iowa State Cyclones

Allen Lazard, WR

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Allen Lazard (Photo by

Lazard has played on some bad teams and had a lot of quarterback changes, but he still produces. The senior has 3,218 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns in his career. This season, which saw Jacob Park have a medical leave and Kyle Kempt step in, Lazard still put up 799 receiving yards and nine touchdowns

One of his biggest strengths is his size. Lazard is 6’5″ and 225 pounds, making him a big NFL target. His production and size will get him through the door with NFL teams and he should be drafted in the middle rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

Joel Lanning, LB

Lanning was a quarterback, but moved to linebacker this season to do what was best for the team. It might be a decision that was the best for him too. He has athleticism and this year proved he has the physicality and instincts to be a linebacker. He has 110 total tackles and five sacks, which is great for someone new to the position.

He has good size for an NFL linebacker 6’2″ and 230 pounds. Only playing one season at linebacker is a concern, but he did enough to pique some interest. If a team wants to work with him, he could turn into a decent pro.

Projected draft range: undrafted free agent

Memphis Tigers

Anthony Miller, WR

Miller is one of the best receivers in the country and continually produces. The past two seasons he has over 1,400 yards receiving. This season he has 1,407 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. He specializes in making spectacular catches and highlight plays.

He is 5’11” and 190 pounds, but has shown the ability to play on the outside. Miller could also play in the slot, which makes him versatile. He may not go until day two, but has a chance to be a star.

Projected draft range: 1st round-3rd round

Riley Ferguson, QB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Riley Ferguson (Photo by

Ferguson has been the leader of a great passing attack for two seasons now. He had Paxton Lynch’s big shoes to fill and hasn’t disappointed. In his two seasons, he has 7,669 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has completed 63.1% of his passes at Memphis, making him efficient.

He has the prototypical size for 6’4″ and 210 pounds. Ferguson has a lot of production, but hasn’t gotten to play against the best competition at Memphis. The tape of his against good competition will be scrutinized.

Projected draft range: 3th round-5th round


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2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl preview

Iowa State and Memphis will match up in the 2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl. With the Big 12 and the AAC playing each other, it will be competitive. Here is the 2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl preview:

Iowa State Cyclones (7-5)

2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Joel Lanning (Photo by

Matt Campbell has successfully turned Iowa State around and gotten them to a bowl game for the first time since 2012. The Cyclones got to seven wins by beating four bowl eligible teams. They won games over Oklahoma and TCU for their most notable victories of the season.

The offense averages 29.9 points per game, which is impressive given the changes the team has had to go through this season. Running the ball hasn’t been easy for the Cyclones, who rank 113th in the country. David Montgomery is the primary running back and has 1,094 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. No one else really produces on the ground for Iowa State, so it all rides on Montgomery.

Kyle Kempt was forced into the fire against Oklahoma and has been solid ever since. In seven games he has 1,473 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions on 66.8% completion. Wide receiver Allen Lazard is one of the best receivers in the Big 12 and has 799 receiving and nine touchdowns. He is very difficult to cover and sometimes double teams don’t even work.

The Iowa State defense has been really solid, allowing 21.0 points per game. They rank 31st against the run and 82nd against the pass. Linebacker Joel Lanning is a former quarterback who has turned into a star at linebacker. He has 110 total tackles, five sacks and one interception.

20 Memphis Tigers (10-2)

2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl preview

Anthony Miller (Photo by

Memphis only had two losses on the season, with both coming to undefeated UCF. They have solid wins over UCLA, Navy, Houston and SMU. The Tigers have a solid program that is playing in its fourth straight bowl game.

They have one of the best offenses in the country that averages 47.8 points per game. The running game averages 209.1 yards per game. Darrell Henderson leads the rushing attack with 1,154 yards and nine touchdowns. His backup, Patrick Taylor Jr., has 798 rushing yards and 13 scores.

While the running game is solid, the passing game is what makes the offense great. Quarterback Riley Ferguson is one of the best in the country. He has 3,971 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 63% this season. His top receiver is one of the best in college football as well. Anthony Miller has 1,407 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. The two have made plenty of highlights and have good chemistry.

The defense isn’t as good, allowing 33.4 points per game. They rank 99th against the run and 121st against the pass this season. Linebackers Curtis Atkins and Austin Hall rack up the tackles for the Tigers. Hall has 62 solo tackles, while Atkins has 56.


Memphis is one of the few teams that gets to stay at home for their bowl game. That paired with the fact that they have an explosive offense should be enough to get them the victory. Ferguson and Miller will connect a lot for big plays.

Memphis Tigers 43 Iowa State Cyclones 34


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2016 Boca Raton Bowl Preview

The Memphis Tigers, with first year head coach Mike Norvell, take on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers with their interim head coach Nick Holt in the Boca Raton Bowl.

Memphis Tigers

Norvell had a very good first season with the Tigers, finishing at 8-4 with very impressive wins over Temple and Houston. All of their losses came to very good competition, including Ole Miss, Navy, Tulsa and USF. A lot of people thought that Memphis would take a step back without former coach Justin Fuente and quarterback Paxton Lynch, but they overcame the losses of personnel to be successful.

Riley Ferguson (Photo courtesy

Riley Ferguson (Photo courtesy

Riley Ferguson had to take the reins from Paxton Lynch this season and exceeded expectations. He threw for 3,326 passing yards and 28 touchdowns, while only throwing nine interceptions. That’s not too bad for a first year starting quarterback. His top target is Anthony Miller who finished the season with 1,283 receiving yards and eleven touchdowns.

Running back Doroland Dorceus didn’t have the most rushing yards with 783 rushing yards, but he made the most of his touches with 6.2 yards per carry. He didn’t see as many carries this season, because they have plenty of running backs who get playing time.

The kicking game can be a valuable tool for the Tigers, as Jake Elliot has made all 54 extra points and 20 out of 24 field goals this season. He has some serious range, making two field goals of over 50 yards on the season.

Defense is the main problem of Memphis. They allow 200 rushing yards per game, which ranks 85 out of 128 for FBS teams. The pass defense isn’t much better, ranking 81 in the country and giving up 242.5 yards per game.

Genard Avery Jr. does a little bit of everything for the Tigers with 72 total tackles, 5 sacks and two interceptions. He will have to lead the defense in this game, because they will need to play better than they did in the regular season.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

The Hilltoppers only lost to Alabama, Vanderbilt and Louisiana Tech this season and like Memphis overcame the loss of their quarterback from last season, Brandon Doughty. They have multiple wins over teams .500 and above including Miami (OH), Middle Tennessee State, Old Dominion and their rematch with Louisiana Tech in the Conference USA Championship Game.

Mike White (Photo Courtesy:

Mike White (Photo Courtesy:

Quarterback Mike White did a great job stepping into the role that was previously held by Doughty. He finished this season with 4,027 passing yards and 34 touchdowns. The most impressive thing about White though, is that he has only thrown six interceptions on the year. His size and frame, at six feet four inches tall and 215 pounds, makes him look like a future pro.

White has two great targets in Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris, who both have over 1,000 receiving yards on the season. Norris is more of the slot receiver at five foot nine inches tall, but also has 13 touchdowns, which is rare for his size. Taylor is a good outside receiver who has also scored a lot of touchdowns with 12 on the season.

It’s hard to believe with all of the passing stats that there would be room for a rusher to get over 1,000 yards, but Anthony Wales has accomplished that, finishing with 1,376 rushing yards. With Wales on the ground and the passing game being so good, the offense is great.

The rush defense of the Hilltoppers is excellent with fewer than 100 rushing yards allowed per game, which ranks third in the country. Pass defense is the issue, allowing 268.7 passing yards per game, which ranks 110 in the country.

Keith Brown has been a great player for the Western Kentucky defense at linebacker and has had eight games of ten tackles or more to go with his six sacks.


The rush defense of Western Kentucky will make Memphis one dimensional, which they are somewhat used to. The Hilltoppers will use their high powered offense to take advantage of the adequate Tiger defense.


Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 41 Memphis Tigers 30

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