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?
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?
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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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 Indianapolis Colts 2018 NFL Draft profile.
The Colts have had a rough couple years and last year showed just how many flaws this team has. Andrew Luck didn’t play all year and his status for next year is uncertain. They went 4-12 in 2017 which was good enough for third in the AFC South. Jacoby Brissett came over in a trade right before the season and was a pleasant surprise. With the trade to the Jets, which was a steal, they have shown that they are fine with starting Brissett until Luck returns.
The Colts showed that Anthony Castonzo, TY Hilton, Luck (if he ever plays again, sorry Colts fans), Jack Doyle, Malik Hooker, Mathias Farley and Jabaal Sheard are worth building around. Other than that every position could use an upgrade or two. They have been pretty quiet this offseason, even though they need major upgrades, only resigning some backup players and signing Eric Ebron to go alongside Jack Doyle.
One major area of struggle for the Colts was the offensive line. As mentioned before Castonzo was a pretty solid tackle last year, outside of that this unit was not good. They will hope that Ryan Kelly, a former first-round pick, can stay healthy and prove he was worth the selection. They gave up 56 sacks as a unit in 2017, which would kill drives constantly.
This team did not do a whole lot right last year overall, as their offense looked anemic at times and their defense got beat at just about every level. They are in full rebuild right now as they let a lot of older players walk. This draft is going to be very important for them.
Picks and Needs
After what can only be called a steal of a trade for the third overall pick to the Jets the Colts have positioned themselves well in this draft and even got a bit for next years. They go in with nine picks:
First round (1 pick): 6
Second round (3): 36, 37, 49
Third round (1): 67
Fourth round (1): 104
Fifth round (1): 140
Sixth round (1): 178
Seventh round (1): 221
Wide Receiver – The Colts still have T.Y. Hilton and not much else. Luck and Brissett need someone else to get the ball to in order for T.Y. to stop being double covered constantly.
Offensive Line – They should take the best offensive lineman they can get. Remember, 56 sacks led the league last season.
Courtesy of: SB Nation
Running Back – Frank Gore is gone and Marlon Mack has shown flashes, but a lot of teams have two good running backs these days and the Colts have maybe one.
EDGE – Last season they only had 25 sacks which was second last in the league. With a switch to a 4-3 defense they will need someone disruptive up front.
Linebacker – There was not a whole lot going on with this group either. John Simon and Jon Bostic weren’t bad but also weren’t anything to write home about. Jabaal Sheard was mostly an edge rusher so he could go either way.
Cornerback – Vontae Davis is sadly gone. So too is Rashaan Melvin. Quincy Wilson is getting better but will definitely need some help on the other side.
Pick No. 6: Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, N.C. State
Courtesy of: si.com
As stated before the Colts need to put more pressure on the quarterback and there is probably no one better at this than Chubb. Even with a trade down it is likely the Colts will get exactly who they have been looking for. He is fast and has great size at 6’4″ 276 pounds. He is a freak athlete and will give many opposing tackles a tough time as he is able to get around them or go inside.
His speed is going to be key in a division where all of the starting quarterbacks, Mariota, Watson and Bortles are not afraid to use their legs. Keeping them contained, even on his side of the ball, will allow for players like Jabaal Sheard to come up and make big plays.
Pick No. 36: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
It is odd to see a player of his caliber still here, but many experts have him falling and some even have him as the fourth or fifth best tackle in the draft. That being said, McGlinchey boasts great technique and is able to handle either right or left tackle after getting plenty of experience from starting the last three years.
Castonzo playing opposite of McGlinchey would give the Colts two nice bookends for their offensive line. This would limit sacks which is especially important, as the Colts can only be competitive if Andrew luck is able to stay on the field. It is likely that this pick would be a great start to the overhaul this offensive line needs.
Pick No. 37: Braden Smith, OG, Auburn
Courtesy of: AL.com
Guess what? The Colt get to pick again and here is another chance to upgrade the offensive line, specifically at guard. While some may have him going later there is a significant dropoff in guard talent after him. Losing out on a chance to improve an area of significant need would be a crime.
Smith is very strong as he did 35 reps at the combine, 11 more than McGlinchey. He will be a formidable presence in the middle for this offensive line. Scouts and others worry about his quick twitch movements and balance as he allows for defenders to get in on him. It may not be a sexy pick, but Colts fans will be happy when they see Luck upright and healthy throughout the season.
Pick No. 49: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
It seems possible that Chubb will go before this, but if not he should fit right in. Before his injury Chubb was seen as a star in the making. This is still possible, but he is not nearly as explosive as he was before. He will have to rely on the fact that teams will be looking for the Colts to pass first. This will allow him the chance to be a quiet 1,000 yard rusher.
Chubb also fits in well with the way the NFL is moving with two running back systems. Mack can handle passing situations and some running downs to keep Chubb from overworking. Also, now the Colts have the Chubb cousins.
Pick No. 67: D.J. Chark, WR, LSU
There are some nice wideouts that could compliment T.Y. Hilton in the seconnd, third and possibly even fourth rounds this year and Chark is one of them. Hilton is much smaller at 5’9 and he gets double teamed, but is still able to put up big numbers. Chark would give the Colts a bigger option down the field at 6’3 and in the endzone while taking a defender off of Hilton.
The Indianapolis Colts need a ton of work. They are absent of talent at some pretty important positions. With Luck coming back and five picks in the first three rounds this team has the chance to start heading in the right direction.
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A month ago this was no question. The Fighting Irish were on the outside looking in, and it wasn’t even close. Now, time has rolled on, Notre Dame has gotten its feet under them, and has gotten their leading scorer back.
How does the committee see the Irish? Do they look at the team that is 12-4 team with Bonzie Colson? Or do you look at the team that is 18-13 overall and lost seven conference games in a row? It’s hard to be a committee member, but Notre Dame is a tournament team with Bonzie Colson on the floor, there just might not be a big enough sample size to prove it.
It is hard to argue that as a complete team Notre Dame is a tournament team. They have 12 wins with Bonzie and the best two are a one point win against Wichita State and a 39 point win over LSU. Those aren’t exactly incredible resume builders, but Bonzie was hurt most of the season where Notre Dame could do their damage.
What we can do is look at the differences with and without Bonzie. Unfortunately the only team that Notre Dame played both with and without Bonzie was Georgia Tech. With Bonzie they won 68-59. They were +11 in the rebounding battle and shot 38 percent from both three and the field overall. Bonzie contributed heavily in this win being that he had 22 points and 17 rebounds on 8-21 shooting.
Without Bonzie they lost by the score of 60-53. They lost the rebounding battle by six and shot just 22 percent from three and 36 percent from the field overall. Without Bonzie this team is 6-9. They didn’t necessarily hurt themselves with big loses that hurt their resume, but did so with missed chances for signature wins.
Bonzie Colson (Irishsportsdaily.com).
Well Notre Dame is 9-12 against the RPI top 150 and are just 3-9 against the RPI top 50 this season. They lack a signature win in a conference that might send nine teams to the NCAA tournament.
Against the nine teams in the ACC that Joe Lunardi has projected “in” the NCAA tournament, Notre Dame is just 2-9. In other words, their Bonzie Colson sample size isn’t enough right now.
What also hurts the Irish is a weak non-conference strength of schedule. Their strength of schedule falls at 170th in the nation which, if it were better, being that they had Bonzie through that entire period, could have put them in a better position than they are in right now.
Ultimately this would be a different story had the Irish not dropped games to both Ball State and Indiana (with Bonzie), but they still have a chance to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive.
Not too many teams get by with a conference record below .500 and as Notre Dame sits at 8-10 entering conference tournament play they have to essentially “play themselves into” the NCAA tournament.
What the committee will look at is what Notre Dame has done lately among other things. A lot of that comes down to what the Irish do in the ACC tournament. If they manage to grab a few wins and improve their stock, they could potentially play their way into the NCAA tournament just before the clock hits midnight.
Where they end up next sunday:
What do we make of the Notre Dame fighting Irish. They went from a preseason nationally ranked team to dropping eight of nine in the heart of conference play. Losing their star player and in turn losing tons of inside play couldn’t have helped them as a team.
With Bonzie the Irish have proven they are more than capable. Unfortunately their just doesn’t seem to be enough of a resume for them with their two stars, Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell on the floor together.
Bonzie came back a little to late to really make a difference here. The last two games they ended up beating a very bad Pittsburgh team and then losing by single digits to Virginia.
Had Bonzie come back earlier I think this team would have enough on their resume to get into the tournament. Barring a ACC tournament title, I think the Irish will be on the outside looking in on selection sunday.
Featured image from USA Today.
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It finally happened, the Vegas front runner for the NBA Rookie of the Year played his first professional game. Ben Simmons has taken the NBA by storm with his flashy plays and supreme athleticism.
What has been a long awaited debut has been well worth the wait. So now it’s time to trust the process and see how far it takes the Philadelphia 76ers.
Ben Simmons Debut
Simmons out in transition. Photo Courtesy of 6ABC.com.
Ben Simmons, a converted point guard, is providing a spark for the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s hard to say that the point-forward position has been brought back but it’s hard to doubt Simmons’ ability in the open court. Simmons has the ability to take a rebound down and bring it the length of the floor and create an easy basket.
Despite a loss, Simmons finished his debut with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists to go along with two steals and a block. In translation, he stuffed the stat sheet. Simmons led the team in assists, minutes played, offensive rebounds and steals and finished second on the team in total rebounds.
He can impact the game in more ways than scoring and he showed that opening night. Despite losing to the Washington Wizards, the 76ers played some good basketball on the offensive end. They created open shots and scored 115 points which will win you a lot of games.
What won’t win games is their lack of defensive stops when the game gets tough. In the second half, the 76ers were outscored 64-56, when the game gets toughest teams need important stops to win games.
The 76ers may have lost to the Wizards, but it was only by five. This was a matchup between a team that finished fourth in the Eastern Conference versus a team that finished 28-54.
The 76ers were impressive opening night and Ben Simmons was one of the major reasons for that. In his 35 minutes, he attacked the rim with regularity, gave up good shots to get great ones and looked extremely comfortable running the break.
He is a pure playmaker and he’s already looking like he can handle the bright spotlight and more of a point guard role.
Translating College to Pros
In 33 games at LSU, Ben Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists. Based on his college career and his first NBA game, this is what Ben Simmons does. In college he was given a team with much less talent comparatively to the team he has in Philadelphia.
The numbers will only get better for Simmons as he gets both increasingly more comfortable and plays against lesser opponents. Lesser opponents includes more traditional big men who he can beat off the dribble or small players who he can take into the post and score over.
The 76ers have been waiting a long time for this, and despite a loss, they are in a great position for the near future. They have some great young talent and look to position themselves in the top part of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Featured Image from NBA.com.
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Football is right around the corner and The Game Haus is going to get you ready for the 2017-18 NFL season. The Super Bowl series is going to explain how every team in the NFL can win Super Bowl LII. The Super Bowl series will be divided into eight editions, one for each division. This is the seventh edition, Super Bowl series: NFC West.
The Seahawks are coming off a 10-5-1 season in which they lost in the playoffs to the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons. This franchise has become one of the most consistent in the NFL, making the playoffs for five straight seasons and six of the last seven.
Winning Super Bowl LII is not as daunting of a task as it may be for other teams. There are some issues the Seahawks need to fix though in order to win the Super Bowl.
Seattle is led by its defense and everyone knows it. The Seahawks finished the season giving up just 18.2 points per game, which ranked third in the NFL. They also finished in the top 10 in rush defense (seventh, 92.9 yards per game), pass defense (eighth, 225.8 yards per game) and total defense (fifth, 319.6 yards per game).
(Photo Credit: https://www.richardsherman25.com)
In the 2017-18 season, Seattle’s defense should be even better. Up front, they drafted defensive tackle Malik McDowell from Michigan State to play along side Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and even Frank Clark. Seattle also has one of the best linebacking corps led by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. The Seahawks’ front seven will be extremely talented which will allow the Legion of Boom to continue their dominance.
Speaking of the Legion of Boom, the unit will get some much-needed help back at safety. Earl Thomas will be returning from his leg injury and that couldn’t be better news for this secondary. Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor have proven to be great players, but Earl Thomas may just be the heart and soul of this defense.
Before Thomas went down with a broken leg, the Seahawks were only allowing 16.2 points per game. After Thomas went down, that number jumped to 23.3, an entire touchdown more per game. As long as this secondary can remain healthy, it will be safe to assume that Seattle will have a top five defense capable of leading this team to a Super Bowl berth.
The offensive side of the ball is where fans should worry. Getting back to the Super Bowl is going to require going back to their original identity. The Seahawks were known as a defensive team that could run the ball. Last season, that changed dramatically.
Seattle only ran the ball 40.7 percent of the time. They also ranked 20th in rushing attempts per game at 25.2. That number dropped from 2014 when they averaged 31.8 attempts per game, and from 2015 in which they averaged 31.2 attempts per game. Running the ball less resulted in the 21st ranked rushing attack in the NFL at just 103.8 yards per game.
The Seahawks made many moves to address their running game. Seattle’s offensive line was pretty awful last season in both run and pass protection. This led to the signing of Luke Joeckel and the selection of center/guard Ethan Pocic from LSU in the NFL Draft. They also signed running back Eddie Lacy from Green Bay.
The Seahawks hope these additions will bring back the identity that led them to two straight Super Bowl appearances.
If Seattle can become a dominant rushing team again, then they will continue making deep playoff runs. The Seahawks also need to earn home-field advantage. Over the past five seasons, Seattle has gone 39-6 at home, including the playoffs. They must also become more disciplined as a team. Seattle had the seventh most penalties per game at 7.3. As long as Seattle does these things, then the Seahawks can once again become Super Bowl champions.
(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
The Arizona Cardinals may be the most overlooked team in the NFL. They did finish second in the NFC West last season at 7-8-1 but missed the playoffs. Carson Palmer looked old, yet the offense was still able to be successful. Defensively, the Cardinals dropped off a bit from previous years. So, what is it going to take to see Arizona win its first Lombardi Trophy?
Answering that question takes us back to the saying that defense wins championships. Carson Palmer can’t lead this team to a Super Bowl at the age of 37, but the defense can. Arizona’s defense is going to hurt from the losses of Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson.
They are hoping that rookies Haason Reddick and Budda Baker can fill these holes, but that will be a tough task. Rookies don’t always make immediate impacts so the Cardinals made moves in free agency to help with these departures as well. Arizona signed Jarvis Jones, Karlos Dansby and Antoine Bethea.
In order to win a Super Bowl, these roster changes must improve on the 22.6 points allowed per game last season. Arizona struggled to stop opponents mostly in the second half of games, allowing the 21st most points per second half at 11.8 per game. Not every area of the Cardinals defense was bad. They only gave up 305.2 total yards per game last season which was second-best in the NFL.
If Arizona’s defense can turn these small yardage totals into fewer point totals, then they can easily make the playoffs and possibly the Super Bowl. But as is the case for every team, they need some help from their counterpart.
Arizona must balance out their offense. The Cardinals only ran the ball 36.7 percent of the time last season. They have to put the ball in David Johnson’s hands and take it out of Carson Palmer’s in order to make a deep playoff run. 24.9 rushing attempts for 108.2 rushing yards per game will not be enough in the NFL. The best teams in the NFL still run the ball well even though it is a passing league.
Although they pass the ball too frequently, it has led to a lot of points. Arizona averaged the sixth-most points in the NFL at 26.1 per game. The offense has been really good but balance will be the key. If the Cardinals do this and can improve on allowing fewer points per game, then Arizona will be the next Super Bowl champions.
Los Angeles Rams
(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
The Los Angeles Rams are going to need a miracle season to win Super Bowl LII. After going 4-12, there have been many changes within the organization.
Head coach Jeff Fisher was rightfully fired in favor of Sean McVay. McVay has brought in new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur and well-known defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. There is optimism in L.A. that a new coaching staff can send this team in the right direction and it all starts with that loaded defense.
Wade Phillips will be taking over a defense that was much better than it looked on paper. The Rams gave up 24.6 points per game, which ranked 23rd in the NFL. Despite giving up so many points, they only gave up an average of 337 yards per game which was ninth-best.
The defense was constantly in tough situations. Los Angeles tied for 26th in the NFL with 1.8 giveaways per game. Despite all this, the Rams defense can become elite.
The reason this defense has a chance to become the best in the NFL is the combination of talent and their new coordinator. The defensive line is headlined by superstar Aaron Donald and defensive end Robert Quinn. Other top defenders on this team include Connor Barwin, Michael Brockers, Alec Ogletree, Mark Barron, Trumaine Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner.
Phillips will transition the Rams to a 3-4 scheme and his track record as a coordinator is impressive. Since 2011, Phillips’ defenses have ranked eighth, 24th and fourth (twice) in points allowed. They have also ranked second, seventh (twice), first and fourth since 2011 in yards. Phillips and the Rams are a match made in heaven that will turn this already talented defense into being Super Bowl elite.
The biggest question mark for the Rams is their offense and how Jared Goff will fair in his first season as full-time starter. Goff looked bad in his minimal action during his rookie campaign. He had a 54.6 completion percentage and threw for 1,089 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions in seven games.
Overall, the Rams ranked in the bottom of almost every offensive category. They ranked 31st in all of the following: points in third quarter (1.6 per game), points in first half (7.8 per game), points in second half (6.2 per game), plays (60 per game), rushing yards (78.2 per game) and passing yards (184.4 per game).
They also ranked 32nd in the following: points (14 per game), second quarter points (3.3 per game), total yards (262.7 per game), yard per play (4.4), third down conversion (31.5 percent) and first downs per game (15).
As you can see, the offense was horrible. The good news is Goff can’t get any worse. Los Angeles also signed center John Sullivan and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth to help their struggling offensive line. The Rams hope these additions will allow talented running back Todd Gurley to run for more than 3.2 yards per carry like he did last year.
The Rams also did plenty to help their passing game in the offseason. They signed Robert Woods and drafted other receivers in Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds. Los Angeles also drafted tight end Gerald Everett. There is nowhere to go but up and these additions should help improve the Rams’ offense.
It is going to take everything falling into place perfectly for the Rams to bring a Super Bowl victory to L.A. Wade Phillips must turn this defense into an elite defense similar to the ones he had in Houston and Denver. Todd Gurley is going to have to win the rushing title as well. If the Rams do both of these things and Jared Goff begins to show the talent of a number one overall pick, then the Rams can miraculously win Super Bowl LII, just don’t bet on it.
San FRANCISCO 49ers
(Photo Credit: http://www.49ers.com/)
It was hard trying to find reasons the Rams could win the Super Bowl so finding reasons for the 49ers is like asking a dog to meow, but this is what the Super Bowl series is all about.
San Francisco had a horrible season, finishing 2-14. It was one of the worst seasons in franchise history. This year they will be looking to bounce back under new general manager John Lynch and new head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Finding themselves in the playoffs means fixing the worst rush defense in the NFL. San Fransisco gave up 165.9 rushing yards per game last season. Running backs would see the 49ers on their schedule and smile as if it was Christmas. This caused Lynch to focus hard on the defensive side of the ball this offseason.
San Francisco added defensive end Elvis Dumervill and linebacker Malcolm Smith in free agency. They also used their first two picks of the draft on defense. The 49ers selected defensive end Soloman Thomas and linebacker Rueben Foster.
The 49ers weren’t just bad against the run, they were just bad all around. San Francisco ranked 32nd in points allowing 30 per game. The bulk of the points came at the end of halves. They allowed 9.5 points per second quarter and 8.2 points per fourth quarter. These numbers will have to come down drastically if the 49ers are to make a run towards the playoffs. Their pass defense was average, giving up 240.5 yards through the air per game, which ranked 14th.
Similar to the Rams offense, the 49ers’ defense can’t get much worse. Improving over time will happen but becoming a top 15 defense is what it will take to get to the Super Bowl.
Offensively, the 49ers did have an identity under Chip Kelly and that was running the ball. Since Chip Kelly is no longer around, it will be interesting to see if Shanahan will continue to build off that foundation. The 49ers averaged 126.4 yards on the ground, which was fourth in the NFL.
Despite running the ball well, the 49ers struggled to open up the passing attack and converting on third down. San Francisco only managed to throw for 181.9 yards per game. They also only converted on third down 35 percent of the time. Struggling in these two areas caused the Niners to average 19.3 points per game.
Adding to their offensive woes, the Niners only managed to convert points in the red zone 68 percent of the time. All of these handicaps must improve in order for the 49ers to win the Super Bowl. That and hoping the rest of the league forfeits their season but hey, this was worth a shot.
Thank you for checking out the Super Bowl series: NFC West. Stay tuned the final edition of the Super Bowl series and check out the previous editions of the Super Bowl series here.
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Featured image courtesy of http://www.steelcityunderground.com/2016/09/09/2016-nfl-predictions-nfc-west/
The first two days and three rounds of the NFL draft have finished. The third day of the draft is rounds four through seven. These players drafted on day three sometimes do not even make the roster. So what players remaining, after day two, have a chance to become stars in the NFL? Here are some who may answer that question.
Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss
(Photo Credit: Chuck Cook, USA TODAY Sports)
Chad Kelly is flying high under the radar. Kelly is the nephew of Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly. Chad Kelly had a pretty solid career while at Ole Miss. Going 14-8 as a starter and even notched a win against Alabama. Kelly threw for 6,858 yards, 50 touchdowns, and just 21 interceptions. He also added 958 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground in his career.
Kelly had a lot of problems off the field that have derailed his career. He was kicked off the team at Clemson for actions against the coaching staff. Once he left Clemson he landed at East Mississippi Community College, more commonly known as Last Chance U. There Kelly led EMCC to a 12-0 season and an NJCAA National Football Championship.
If Kelly has learned from his past mistakes and can be a model citizen off the field then there is a chance he can become a star in the NFL. He has great arm strength and can make NFL throws. Kelly has played primarily in the shotgun and will need to work on his under center mechanics. Also he has great touch passing skills and is much better when moving outside the pocket and throwing. If a team takes a risk in the sixth or seventh round there is a good chance Kelly becomes an NFL starter one day.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
Dede Westbrook was one of the top five receivers in all of college football last season. Some would argue he was the best. Last season he had 80 receptions, 1,524 yards, and 17 touchdowns. Westbrook is an excellent route runner with big play capability. In the open field, Westbrook is explosive and turns a lot of good plays into big plays. Some say his size is an issue but make no mistake, Westbrook could be a scary playmaker in the NFL.
Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego St.
Donnel Pumphrey is only still available because of his size, 5-foot-8 and 176 pounds.. The Las Vegas product is the all-time leading rusher in NCAA history. NFL tacklers will be able to arm tackling him but that is only if they can catch him. He is so quick and fast that when he sees a hole he hits it without a second thought. Pumphrey may not become an every-down back in the NFL but he can create momentum-changing plays. One NFL team will be very happy one day because of the risk they took on him.
Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU
Malachi Dupre has fallen mostly because LSU has not had a quarterback capable of helping any receiver. LSU has had some of the worst quarterback play in the country which is why Dupre only put up 98 receptions, 1,609 yards, and 14 touchdowns in his three years at LSU. If you throw the ball in Dupre’s direction there is a good chance he will catch it. He has one of the best catch radii of all the prospects. He will have to work on his route running but with a solid quarterback Dupre could break out as the next great LSU wideout to turn pro.
Ryan Switzer may be the most underrated, underappreciated player in this draft. Similar to Dede Westbrook and Donnel Pumphrey, size is the only reason for that. In his senior season at North Carolina, Switzer snagged 96 receptions for 1,112 yards, and six touchdowns. He has also proven to be a great return man who returned seven punts for touchdowns in his collegiate career. Switzer can be a Wes Welker or Julian Edelman type playmaker in the NFL and that is a reason teams should draft him as soon as possible.
Connor Harris, LB, Lindenwood
Connor Harris could have been a first round pick. He has it all, the size, the speed, and the intangibles. Teams seem to be holding it against him that he played in division II but Harris is a tackling machine. Harris holds the record at 633 career tackles. He has the ability to drop in coverage and has shown impressive ball-hawking skills as well. Any team that drafts him is getting a player who doesn’t have to come off the field and is a prototypical, old-school linebacker.
Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
Jake Butt is the victim of a bad injury at the worst time. Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffery got a lot of heat for skipping their bowl games but had Jake Butt done the same then he wouldn’t have torn his ACL for the second time in his career. Butt would have been a second round pick without the injury but now teams are scared. He averaged 11.9 yards per reception for his career and is a guaranteed first down waiting to happen. Every team in the NFL needs a tight end that can get them out of a jam like that. If Butt can become healthy and get a shot, he has a great chance of being a top 10 tight end in the league.
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On the third day of Draftmas TGH gave to me! The Chicago Bears Draft Profile! (It makes more sense if you sing it..)
The Bears had a very underwhelming season in a very tough division. The Vikings, Packers and Lions were all solid teams last year and will probably continue that into next year.
The offseason was an interesting one for the Midway Monsters. They let go of Jay Cutler much to the surprise of no one and they brought in Mike Glennon who seemed to have been forgotten about until this offseason. Personally I think Glennon has a lot to prove and deserves a starting role. We will see if the Bears risk will pay off.
They also strengthened their Wideout core by adding Markus Wheaton, Rueben Randle and Kendall Wright. While all of them have their issues they also all have a lot of talent in completely different ways. Paring them with the surprise in Cameron Meredith and the hopefully healthy Kevin White and this could be one of the more interesting Wide Receiver groups in the NFL.
Lastly they added Prince Amukamara and Quitin Demps to try and shore up their Defensive Backs. While they aren’t big names they still should add some much needed help in the secondary.
Picks and Needs
The Bears have 7 picks in this draft. It is good that they have kept so many and should be able to fill some major holes with them.
First round: (1) No. 3
Second round: (1) No. 36
Third round: (1) No. 67
Fourth round: (2) No. 111, No. 117
Fifth round: (1) No. 147
Sixth round: (0)
Seventh round: (1) No. 221
Having two fourth round picks should allow Chicago to find some solid depth players. Also while I won’t be looking at trades in this Profile I can definitely see the Bears making some moves up or down in the draft depending on their board.
The worst thing Chicago can do with these picks is pick an early Quarterback or panic and trade up for someone they do not really need.
Here are their needs at Offense:
Backup Pass Catching Tight End (Preferably one that they can grow)
Now for Defense:
Safety (Either one)
Edge Rushing Defensive End
Inside Linebacker to go along with Trevathan
Targets and Thoughts
I will pick who I think is best for the team just as I did in my other draft profile. There will be no trades and I will be looking at just the first three rounds.
Courtesy of: Youtube.com
Pick #3: Jamal Adams SS, LSU
What is not to like about this kid? He is everything you could ask for in a safety and more. Many people believe he might be the safest pick in the draft.
Pick #36: Cordrea Tankersley CB, Clemson
It seems as though his choice to go back for his Senior Year payed off. He won a National Championship and is now one of the best Corners in the draft. It is very possible he could be off the board before the 36th pick but, if he is still here I think the Bears continue adding to their defense.
Pick #67: Roderick Johnson OT, Florida State
At 6’7, 298, Johnson has the size and arm length to be a very productive left tackle. His footwork needs some fine tuning but, he has the potential to be an extremely good asset for the Bears offensive line.
The Bears can add some needed pieces to help them contend in the brutal NFC North. Shoring up the secondary and adding a tackle may not seem like much but, it can go a long way for a team that struggled much of last season. Hopefully Mike Glennon will be the Quarterback they needed.
Thank you for joining us on our third day of TGH Draftmas! Check back tomorrow where we will be bringing you the Draft Profile of the Jacksonville Jaguars!
You can read all of the previous days of Draftmas below!
Change. It is a simply spelt and pronounced word, but becomes complex when people start to deal with change. People run away from change out of fear. People usually grimace at the thought of change. Change is often looked at as a bad thing, but change can also be viewed as a great thing. Change is needed for growth and knowledge. Society finds it hard to change things that are long standing traditions, even if they do not work, are outdated, or completely wrong.
(Photo: Daniel Gluskoter, AP)
Take a look at the national anthem controversy for instance. Rather than admit its flaws, people are back-lashing against Colin Kaepernick. Why can’t we admit our faults as people or as a society? Because people hate change, whether it’s for the betterment of society or not. It is so much easier to go with the flow rather than to adapt.
It is time for a change in college football by eliminating any and all conferences. They are unnecessary in this day and age. They serve no purpose other than to please tradition. This is a highly unpopular opinion but hear me out before you grab your pitchforks.
(Sep 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers players celebrate defeating the LSU Tigers by doing the Lambeau Leap following the game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY)
The best teams need to play each other weekly regardless of their region or conference. Week one was one of the greatest weeks of college football ever. People are still glamorizing it because it was that epic. We saw great games all over such as (15) Houston defeating (3) Oklahoma. We saw Wisconsin upset (5) LSU. We saw unranked Texas A&M upset (16) UCLA. (18) Georgia beat (22) North Carolina. (2) Clemson had to sneak by unranked Auburn by six points. Fans saw Texas upset (10) Notre Dame in an overtime classic. On a Monday night game, (4) Florida State beat (11) Ole Miss.
Week two also saw some great programs matching up for exciting games. Arkansas was unranked and upset (15) TCU. (17) Tennessee beat Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway in the most attended game in college football history with 156,990 in attendance.
Since the first two weeks there still have been great non-conference games even as teams have gotten into conference scheduling. In week six, Navy upset (6) Houston 46-40 in one of the most exciting back and forth games of the year. Most recently in week 12, the same Houston team that was upset by Navy, and was unranked, ended (5) Louisville’s shot at making the playoffs. They upset the Cardinals 36-10.
All these non conference match-ups with top programs facing off gave us excitement. Fans of football rejoiced over how fun it was to watch these teams play their hearts off to win these big time games. These games mean so much more with the rather new playoff system that determines a true champion in college football. Eliminating conferences would not eliminate rivalries because schools would be able to schedule 10-12 games completely how they want. The only thing each school would have to do is make sure they schedule their rival schools annually.
These huge games are what the fans want to see. It doesn’t have to be just about the fans either. The college football playoff committee highly values a team’s strength of schedule. Nobody wants to see Alabama playing teams like Chattanooga or Kent State, teams in which they manhandled this year. Ohio State shouldn’t be playing teams like Rutgers, who happens to be in their conference, or Tulsa. Clemson games are boring when they play teams like South Carolina State or Syracuse. Imagine Clemson scheduling Alabama, Michigan, and Ohio State. If a team goes undefeated with a non-conference schedule as tough as this, there would be no question they deserve to be in the playoffs.
One of the biggest problems with the state of college football now is that great teams still get snubbed from making the playoffs. We need the best four teams in the country making the playoffs as long as it is a four team format. Maybe one day it will be a six or eight team format to eliminate more doubt, because there will always be a team or two on the bubble.
Currently the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac 12 and the Big 12 are known as the power five conferences. Most people can agree these are the top five conferences in the country, with each taking turns on where they rank within the power five.
In the current playoff system, one of the power five conferences will not be represented. A champion from one of these conferences will not have the chance to play in the playoffs and prove they are the best team in the country. This doesn’t account for a team without a conference, such as Notre Dame, who could go undefeated and cause two power five conferences to be left out of the playoffs. It also doesn’t account for a year like this one in which Ohio State and Michigan both look like teams capable of winning a national championship.
The first ever college football playoff left out TCU and/or Baylor in favor of Ohio State. The debate raged on about which of these teams should have gotten in. Ohio State then went on to win the National Championship as a four seed to quiet the debate, but how do we know, without a doubt, that TCU or Baylor would not have done the same? How do we know TCU or Baylor would’t have beat Ohio State? This is the problem with conferences. The Big Ten was assumed to be the better conference which is why the playoff committee chose to take Ohio State over one of the Big 12 teams. It was all because the Big 12 conference doesn’t have a conference championship game.
There is another issue at hand when it comes to conferences and the entire playoff format. There is always a talk of two teams getting into the playoffs from the same conference. If that were to happen, two conference champions from a power five conference would be left out. This was the problem with the BCS system that the playoffs were suppose to fix. The question that should be asked is how can you be a champion of the nation if you weren’t a champion of your conference? Essentially that is what happens if two SEC or two Big Ten teams get into a four team playoff. Eliminating conferences erases all the doubt. It makes teams schedule harder competition and creates more exciting games. If a school didn’t do it, they wouldn’t get into the playoffs.
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Conferences started mostly due to how difficult it was to travel when teams were still taking buses. Colleges can afford to fly their teams in today’s sports and traveling is not as hard as it use to be. What is the need for conferences then? The idea of no conferences at all is highly appealing in my eyes, but will not be popular to most. It would be revolutionary to eliminate conferences. The most remarkable changes in the world once were thought to be outlandish. Conferences are a tired idea that is outdated and the sport can become more exciting by eliminating them.
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The Associated Press’ NCAA Basketball Preseason Poll has a dual nature in that, it is both meaningful and not meaningful simultaneously. Every year the poll comes out creating a buzz about who should be higher and who should be lower. As with any preseason poll, power ranking or vote basis is complete speculation. So why should you care? Aside from bringing attention and excitement at the approaching season what does it provide us with? History shows that the AP Preseason Poll provides us with a gaze into the future and that we should give it significantly more attention.
Every year in the NCAA tournament brings with it new surprises, bigger upsets and more underdogs advancing. However, the trends found between the AP Preseason Poll and the NCAA Tournament can’t be ignored.
Despite Ben Simmons choosing LSU, the Tigers were the only team ranked in the preseason not to make the 2016 NCAA Tournament. (Photo courtesy of thebiglead.com)
To begin, a high volume of teams appearing in AP Preseason Poll make the NCAA tournament. The 2015-16 season preached having no definitive power. Still, only one team in the preseason Top 25, LSU, did not make the Big Dance. Over the past ten years, an astounding 85 percent (214/250) of teams in the preseason poll make it to March Madness. In addition, two teams counted against the percentage were Syracuse in 2014-15 and Connecticut in 2012-13. Syracuse made a self-imposed ban so they became ineligible. UConn became ineligible due to Academic Progress Reports. Removing those two blemishes moves the 10-year average to 86 percent. Even the most inaccurate year, 2009-10, was still extremely predictable before the season began. Essentially, the Associated Press is able to make an educated guess about one-third of the NCAA field before the season begins.
Percentage of Teams in AP Preseason Poll to Make Tournament
*=Syracuse self-imposed ban.
^=Uconn APR ban.
Not only do they predict who the teams who will be in the tournament well, but in general they are able to identify the very best teams in the tournament. At the end of the year, out of 350-plus teams, we watch four play in April. The majority of those teams are included on the AP’s radar.
Shaka Smart and the 2011 VCU Rams were one of the biggest surprises in the past decade. (Photo courtesy of csmonitor.com)
Over the past decade of basketball, an average of 90 percent of the Final Four has appeared in the poll. Only four teams in the decade were not in the poll, but made the Final Four. Two of them were the surprising runs of VCU and Wichita State to the Final Four in 2011. The poll of the 2007-08 preseason contains a nice surprise. The top four teams in the poll are the four teams that made the Final Four. That was also the only year since tournament expansion that all four Number One seeds made the Final Four.
Moreover, 81 percent of the teams in the Elite Eight and 68 percent of teams in the Sweet 16 made appearances in the poll. Every year, of course, there are schools like Davidson that make a run. It is difficult to predict those runs during your bracket challenge in March, but the point is, the AP has their finger on the best teams in October.
Teams in Each Round that Appeared in AP Preseason Poll
Not only does the AP know about the best teams, but also about the best team. In the past decade, only three champions began the year outside the top ten. Only one began the year unranked. Having the champion ranked at the top spot twice shows that the writers have a deep insight. The average rank for the champion in the preseason, not including the unranked Huskies in 2011, is 5.7.
Preseason Ranking for Champion
While the Associated Press may not always rank the Final Four as the top four teams, this is still impressive. The AP shows the ability to weed out the teams not up to par before teams play their first game. This is weeks before teams have even scrimmaged or had an exhibition.
In the next month or so, the AP will release the 2016-17 Preseason Poll. This ranking should be given serious consideration. Remember that history proves this ranking to be quite informative.
Ben Simmons took a lot of heat for his decision to attend LSU for his mandatory year of service after high school. He pledged himself early and the promise was solidified with the hiring of his godfather as an assosciate head coach. Due to the NBA regulation, one-and-done situations like that of Simmons, have become common for top recruits. Frequently, players are committing to schools that would not be considered among the best in the nation. The 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes are no exception. Washington has grabbed two 5-stars in those classes and Western Kentucky landed 5-Star Center Mitchell Robinson. Analysts have criticized players like Simmons for making the decision to go to a non-powerhouse basketball program. The truth is that it does not matter what people say, the results matter.
The main goal of almost any athlete in basketball is to reach the pinnacle of the sport: the NBA. Any decision that a player makes could be an impact one. In any other career path where you choose to attend school can certainly make all the difference. Are young men in the sport making a poor decision by choosing a less than spectacular program? While it is a big decision, the fact is that a player’s college choice is not as impactful as we make it out to be in terms of professional progression.
Past NBA Examples
There have been dozens of precedents for players coming from smaller schools and programs being successful in the NBA. Their success is one piece of evidence that college is not the leading factor in professional development in the sport.
One of the better examples would be four time all-star and four time Defensive Player of the Year, Ben Wallace. Wallace went undrafted out of Division II Virginia Union, and previously was at Cuyahoga Community College. Ben Wallace had an NBA aspirations, NBA drive and NBA talent. Players in his situation slip through the cracks for being extremely raw at recruitment time or undersized for their position. He went from being a 6 foot 9 under recruited center to one of the leaders on the 2004 Detroit Pistons NBA Finals squad.
There are plenty of examples like that of Wallace from the past: Steve Nash (drafted 15th overall, Santa Clara), Karl Malone (dafted 13th overall, Louisiana Tech), John Stockton (drafted 16th overall, Gonzaga), and many others. These are not role players in the Association. Rather, these are current or future Hall of Famers. However the league has changed over even the past decade. With a dilution of talent, does this assertion hold up currently?
Current NBA Examples
While the league is, in fact, filled with may players from powerhouse schools, some of the league’s best have come from small, mid-major, and power conference schools not exactly well known for their NBA talent production.
Kawhii Leonard was a 4-star recruit before selecting San Diego State. Granted he did have Steve Fisher as his guide through the years, the results of his career thus far have been astounding. After being selected 15th overall by the Indiana Pacers and traded to the San Antonio Spurs he became Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016. All-NBA First team and NBA Finals MVP also rank among the best of his accomplishments thus far.
Paul Millsap’s combination of power and finesse led to him being drafted out of Louisiana Tech. (Photo Courtesy of draftexpress.com)
Paul Millsap has put together an overwhelming NBA career. He was not a highly touted recruit. He did shine at Louisiana Tech, but was still only drafted in the middle of the second round. Millsap is a three time NBA All-Star.
Damian Lillard is one of the best examples out there. He was a 3-star recruit and was not even ranked among the top 50 point guards of his class. Portland took him 6th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. After a stellar first season with the Trailblazers he became the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2013. The two time All-Star shows much promise for the years to come in his career.
The league contains a plethora of other examples. Two play on the same team in Stephen Curry (drafted 7th overall, Davidson) and Klay Thompson (drafted 11th overall, Washington State). Paul George (drafted 10th overall, Fresno State), James Harden (drafted 3rd overall, Arizona State) and C.J. McCollum (drafted 10th overall, Lehigh) also all went to smaller schools or non-traditional basketball powers.
The 2016 NBA All-Star Rosters fully embody the notion presented here. The East Roster has 14 members, with Chris Bosh and Jimmy Butler unable to play due to injury. 50% of the East’s roster went to non-traditional basketball powers or smaller schools (Fresno State, USC, Louisiana Tech, Washington, Georgia Tech, and two from Marquette). Marquette made the Final Four with Dwayne Wade, but that actually proves the point further. Wade made that run for the school, along with help of course, and did not end up at a more traditional basketball power. He is now a perennial All-Star.
The West All-Star roster mimics the trends of the East. 58.3% of the West’s roster attended a smaller school or non-traditional power (Davidson, San Diego State, Arizona State, Wake Forest, and two from Texas). Some would argue that Texas and Wake Forest players do not belong in this category, however, neither school has a championship and Kentucky has more Final Fours this decade than either program has in its history. They are hardly basketball powerhouses. However, the All-Star rosters indicate that players do choose these schools and still end up amazing professional talents. Therefore, a trip to UK, UCLA, Duke or North Carolina is not the only path to NBA excellence.
Schools that Guarantee a Draft Spot
Granted that all eligible UK players in the past year entered their names in the draft, there is plenty of proof that powerhouse schools do not guarantee being drafted or NBA success. There is a laundry list of players that enrolled at big schools with their sights set on the pros yet did not blossom for one reason or another.
Marquis Teague is a prime example, being the top point guard in his class in 2011. Teague played a roll in Kentucky’s 2012 National Championship run. Since entering the league in 2012, he averages less than ten minutes per game. Accruing a pedestrian stat line of 2.3 points per and 1.4 assists, he is leagues from the promise that his recruitment showed.
Cheik Diallo did not fill the promise that he had coming into Kansas. (Photo Courtesy of kusports.com)
Even though he has not debuted in the NBA yet, Cheik Diallo (Kansas) is another example. Coming in as a top ten recruit, scouts and coaches thought only the best for him. In his one season at Kansas he averaged a whopping 3.0 points per game in 7.5 minutes of floor time per game. The Pelicans selected Diallo in the 2016 NBA Draft, but it was not until the second round of the draft.
Dozens of other names fit the criteria of players enrolling at a big school that did not work out for one reason or another. Cliff Alexander (Kansas) had academic issues, but did not even come close to expectations. Rasheed Sulaimon (Maryland) was a top 15 recruit but Duke dismissed him and after that no team drafted him. The list goes on and on. Top recruits just do not get a guaranteed pass for attending basketball powerhouses.
The Reality behind the Myth
So why does it not always work? Why do guys come in highly touted with all of the promise in the world but exit without fulfilling expectations? The simple answer would be that players are just overrated as recruits. There is more to it thank that, though.
To begin, NBA talent is NBA talent. This may seem like a simple assertion, but it has broad consequences. Some players do come in raw and due to their college experience, develop into NBA greats. Even then, that usually has little to do with what school they select. Occasionally a coach takes on a protege and turns them into something that they were not before. This is extremely rare and does not come without the player putting in the effort anyway. Most times a player’s work ethic is what ultimately turns them into a star, if they come in with untapped potential.
Additionally, players’ talent can be diluted in programs where there are many a star. At a program with less talent, there is less keeping a player from standing out head and shoulders above the competition as a superstar. At a bigger program, players can take a back seat post injury or to new blood. The next man up mentality is much easier to believe in when there is another five star recruit to fill a void.
So there are several reasons why going to a powerhouse can actually hinder a player from their NBA dreams. In fact, perhaps the best thing for them to do to enter a league full of isolation play is to isolate themselves from other stars.