LaQuvionte Gonzalez has made a few more stops in his football career than most NFL prospects.
Originally a 4-star recruit from the class of 2013 out of Cedar Hill High School in Texas, Gonzalez signed with Texas A&M.
Gonzalez played in all 13 games his freshman year with the Aggies. He caught 21 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown. He also had 164 kick return yards in the first three games of the season.
Gonzalez’s playing time took a dive in his sophomore season. He only saw action in eight games with five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.
After his second season with the Aggies, Gonzalez decided to take his talents elsewhere. His wide receiver coach at Texas A&M, David Beaty, was hired as the head coach at Kansas. Gonzalez decided to follow him there and after sitting out the 2015 season, had his best season to date with the Jayhawks.
Gonzalez played in all 12 games his junior year, including 11 starts, and finished as the team’s second-leading receiver. He caught 62 passes for 729 yards and three touchdowns and also returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Gonzalez, along with fellow starting receiver Steven Sims Jr., were able to thrive as receivers despite the team’s poor quarterback play.
In July of 2017, just over a month before the Jayhawks’ first game, Gonzalez was dismissed from the football team due to an issue with his grades. With little time before the season started, Gonzalez joined Southeastern University, an NAIA school in Florida and a football powerhouse. He was eligible to play right away due to NAIA transfer rules.
Photo by Ben Queen, USA TODAY Sports
Gonzalez found Southeastern due to a connection he had with offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. Lebby, a former assistant at Baylor, had recruited Gonzalez back when he was in high school.
Gonzalez said he choose Southeastern for more than just the football though. He enjoyed the competition in the SEC and Big 12 conferences, but got more out of his experience at Southeastern than just football.
“It’s a Christian school. So I just went there and I really did get closer to God,” Gonzalez said. “I really enjoyed that part. I enjoyed the football part too.”
Gonzalez had an incredible senior season, catching 60 passes for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns in just eight games. He averaged 127.3 yards per game, which ranked second in the NAIA, and 7.5 catches per game, which ranked fourth.
Gonzalez is now focused on preparing himself for the draft and making himself the best receiver he can be. He is working out with D-Rob, who has trained some of the NFL’s best receivers like Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Gonzalez is looking to improve things like his 40 yard dash time, vertical and route running.
Gonzalez is definitely a speedster as his fastest 40 yard dash time is 4.36. He is also working to improve his run-blocking skills. He believes he is a guy teams can count on to make plays.
“I feel like I’m a dynamic player,” he said. “If they need a guy to make a big play, I feel like I’m a guy they can go to.”
LaQuvionte Gonzalez Scouting report
While being 5-foot-11 won’t draw him any comparisons to Calvin Johnson, it is still ample height to be a receiver on the inside or outside of an offense, as receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. are that size and are stars. He will need to add some weight to his 175-pound frame to help fight through contact at the NFL level, but that should come with an NFL team’s weight-lifting program.
Gonzalez is quick off of the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball. He finds the soft spots when going against zone coverage, while his speed helps him separate against man-to-man coverage. His route running is solid, but if improved, could really help him get open at the NFL level.
He catches the ball well, and once he gets the ball in his hands, he is hard to contain. Gonzalez has good agility and moves, which makes him hard to catch and tackle. As a senior in high school, Gonzalez was able to rush for nearly 1,500 yards, which is where he probably honed his ability to make people miss. He also uses these abilities to help him return punts and kicks, which is an asset he can use to make an NFL team.
At Kansas in 2016, he had a great season despite not having the greatest quarterback play. While facing the adversity of a losing season at Kansas, Gonzalez did not give up and played hard.
His speed will get him in the door with an NFL team, but if he can prove to block and run routes well, he could make the roster.
A game-winning shot by Donte Ingram put the Ramblers passed the Miami Hurricanes in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Nine days later, the Ramblers punched their ticket to the Final Four with a win over Kansas State in the Elite Eight.
What does the future hold for the most surprising team in the NCAA Tournament? Can they cut down the nets come early April?
Loyola has given up 62.4 points per game this season, which is fifth in Division I basketball. They have played less-talented offensive teams, but allowing under 65 points per game is still impressive. They struggle on the glass (326th in rebounds per game in all of Division I), but are sound on both offense and defense.
They also share the ball extremely well. Loyola averages 15.9 assists per game, which means they are not dominated by scoring off the dribble. They pass to get an open shot and are a balanced scoring team.
How they got here
Victory over the Miami Hurricanes. (Photo by Kion)
The Ramblers have won four games in this NCAA tournament. The first three of them were won by a total of four points before beating Kansas State in the Elite Eight by 16 to get to the Final Four.
They are doing it through balance. Loyola has had six different double-digit scorers in their four wins in the NCAA tournament. They have had just one player over 18 points in any of those four games. The most impressive thing is how efficient they have been on both offense and defense.
In their most recent game against Kansas State, they held the Wildcats to 34.8 percent shooting from the field and just 23.1 percent from behind the arc. They won the rebounding battle by eight against a bigger team. Had they not turned the ball over nine more times than the Wildcats, they could have truly run away with the game in Atlanta.
The Ramblers have shot over 47 percent in each of their four tournament games. Despite a lack of forced turnovers, the Ramblers have battled on the glass, and have made each possession count on both ends of the floor. They have turned in solid performances and made teams grind out possessions. The Ramblers are a team that wears their opponent down and comes up with big plays because they are built to outlast other teams.
Michigan is the team that stands between the Ramblers and the championship game. The strength of Michigan is their spacing. They force teams to spread the floor on defense, which makes a team more vulnerable to cutters and to open shooters. Defenses tend to help and tend to leave open players. Michigan has five guys on the floor at all times that can shoot the three and make a team pay for helping too much.
If Loyola can contain dribble penetration to avoid helping and leaving open shooters, they can limit the threes that the Wolverines have poured in. Michigan struggled against a smaller and more athletic Florida State team, shooting just 4-for-22 from behind the arc. The Ramblers are a smaller team that can mimic what the Seminoles have just previously done.
Their team tends to mimic Florida State more than they mimic Texas A&M, a team that Michigan beat by 27 points less than a week ago. Texas A&M uses two big men, which the Ramblers do not have and do not use. The Ramblers match up well and could cause some problems for the Wolverines.
Can a Cinderella to win a National Championship?
At this point, we really cannot call the Ramblers a Cinderella. They are a very balanced team and not one that is just playing out of their element. The Ramblers clearly belong and are proving that to teams like Miami, Tennessee, Nevada and Kansas State. Three of those teams have been ranked at some point this season. Loyola has a balanced attack and continues to prove that they belong.
They are no longer a Cinderella and proved that no matter the team they play, they are going to be a tough out.
Featured image from The Star.
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If any team is looking for a wide receiver early in this draft, they may be taking them too early. The NFL has been blessed with several high-quality wide receiver classes over the last five years.
Because of these classes, there seems to be a stigma on this one, due to the lower quality of players. However, there are a few players that can make an impact for teams next season.
Calvin Ridley, Alabama
Photo from foxsports.com
Ridley has stood out amongst the rest of the pack in terms of draftable receivers. The 6-foot-1 receiver from Alabama does not have the stats that are going to jump off of the page, but that is mostly due to the lack of quarterback talent and a heavy run game.
After starting for three years, Ridley has received a lot of praise for his solid hands, quick feet, long speed and great route-running ability. He has the size to play on the outside, while having the shiftiness and speed to play in the slot.
Though he is a late first-round talent, he will probably go anywhere within the top 15 picks.
Courtland Sutton, SMU
If there is a wide receiver that might be better than Ridley, it may be Courtland Sutton. Sutton racked up over 1,000 yards for his second straight season while totaling 22 touchdowns during that span.
Sutton doesn’t have the versatility of Ridley, but he is more of a threat in the red zone with his great body control. His body control allows him to high point the ball and make great catches over defensive backs. Sutton’s size and hands make him a great red zone guy and a matchup nightmare because he is still relatively quick for his size.
Sutton will be picked anywhere between late in the first round to the beginning of the third.
Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
Kirk may be the only other potential first round pick at the receiver position. He has been a big part of the Aggies’ offense for the last three seasons where he has totaled 234 catches and nearly 3,000 yards.
However, not only is he a great wide receiver, but he is a dangerous returner too. In his career at Texas A&M, Kirk has scored seven special teams touchdowns, six of them from punt returns.
At 5-foot-11, he will mostly play in the slot and on special teams because of his speed and quickness. One thing that many have questions about is the consistency of route running and his catching ability.
There are several talented wide receivers in this draft, but these three are the only ones that have the opportunity to be taken in the first round. This can change depending on how the draft process goes for each of these players.
Some receivers just missed the cut. That includes James Washington (Oklahoma State), Deon Cain (Clemson), Jordan Lasley (UCLA) and Deontay Burnett (USC).
Featured image by Brett Deering from Bleacher Report
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The gauge of greatness is measured in time. For the league’s most heralded superstars, their careers have been evaluated, scrutinized, criticized and praised, all in accordance of time. Some superstars find solace in individual recognition while others define their legacy along with the team’s they coveted. That success comes in waves or spurts. Some might see success fairly early in the career, cashing in on a team’s expectations on the individual. Other might be left to stay on the sideline in their anticipation for one day to sitting on that illustrious throne (ex: Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady).
But for all players that set foot into the NFL, the vast majority don’t achieve much. Some don’t ever find their rightful place to call home. Even when all arrows lead up, some players can’t just get pass the hump. For those, we wonder what if and how. For example, the spotlight of our discussion, Johnny Manziel.
Johnny Manziel was one of the most electrifying college football players in history. With a strong arm, vision, ability to move around the pocket and scrambling prowess, Manziel was a legitimate threat to defenses. What critics frowned upon either being too small to play in the league or downright reckless, his fans praised his ability to be instinctive and play with heart. Despite being only a three star recruit out of high school, with performances against heavily loaded Southeastern athletic conference bill, Manziel was able to reach heights unlike before.
In his first year starting as a redshirt freshman, Manziel went on to break many records in the SEC and for NCAA. He became the first freshman to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season. After an amazing year, Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman trophy, the youngest in history.
After completing his third year at Texas A&M, Manziel would forgo his last two years as a college athlete and pursue a career in the NFL. But the critics came on hard about whether drafting Manziel was wise. As the success came in heaps, so did the pressure to stay on the up-up. During his stay at Texas A&M, Manziel was center stage for a number of controversies. From suspect tweets wanting to leave College Station to Manziel being suspended for allegedly receiving payments for signing autographs. Even when before Manziel became starting quarterback at Texas A&M, the redshirt freshman at the time was arrested and charged with three misdemeanors. After pleading guilty with failure to produce identification, the other charges were dropped and Manziel was named the starting quarterback for the Aggies.
An Inevitable Downfall
Despite his size and the nature of his game on and off the field, the… Cleveland Browns selected Manziel in the first round as the 22nd pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, for Manziel, the trouble didn’t stop. Honestly, it got worse. Even though Manziel proved that he was able to see playing time on the professional level, his off field antics kept him off the field. After a season that showed promise for the young quarterback, it unfortunately led to an early ending for Manziel after suffering a concussion and he would not return for the 2015 season. The day before the Browns’ final game, Manziel was seen in a Las Vegas casino. The next day, as mandatory for all concussed players, Manziel failed to appear in front of the team medic.
Ugly, Ugly, and more Ugly
Not too long after, Manziel saw a string of problems going forward. In 2016, LRMR, a marketing agency that represented Manziel, reported that they would no longer work with him. Later that year, after only two months representing him, Manziel’s new agent removed Manziel from his itinerary of represented clients. Manziel stayed in the negative light due to an ongoing investigation by the Dallas Police Department. The investigation included a claim of domestic violence against Manziel’s former girlfriend. According to the victim, Manziel had forced her in a car, pulled her hair and threatened to kill her and himself. Manziel eventually accepted a plea deal that included counseling and monitoring by the state for a year or face prosecution.
From then, Manziel spent the next year at the bottom of bottles alleging an alcohol addiction. Manziel was also on record for abusing drugs, however, which drugs were never specified. In the beginning of the 2016 season, Manziel was suspended by the league for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. Soon after, the Browns released Manziel. In addition to the death of his playing career, Manziel’s supporters had concern of his well being.
His father, Paul Manziel, told ESPN, “”He’s a druggie. It’s not a secret that he’s a druggie. Hopefully, he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses. I mean, I hate to say it, but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him. I’m doing my job, and I’m going to move on. If I have to bury him, I’ll bury him.” After a year of counseling Manziel found out that he was suffering from bipolar disorder and is now medicated.
A Bright Future
Johnny Manziel sat with reporters from ABC News discussing his new outlook on life. He talked about getting engaged, following his recovery and embracing his roots. All which see that point to a comeback. First and foremost, this article is not an advocation for Manziel’s defense. A lot can point to his downfall from his upbringing or his destination in Cleveland. Manziel came from a wealthy background, received more recognition than players that had worked harder and (or) were better, played in the NFL and threw his life away because of his sense of entitlement.
With that being said, the boy can play, which means a lot in this day and age of football. The Browns were looking for a player when Manziel needed a sense of mentorship. A franchise that is arguably the worst in NFL history didn’t have enough leaders for a kid like Manziel. From what he was in the past and his tenure with the Browns and how we see it today, no one can be surprised at the outcome.
(AP Photo | DAVE MARTIN)
At the age of 25, despite not playing football for about two years, Manziel is more than able to make a comeback in this league. For the ones that see it as impossible, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Manziel had been offered with a chance to play in the Canadian Football League and for Manziel, that is a good enough platform to show his skills and the progress he made as a person during his hiatus.
Manziel is a good player that allowed his personality and behavior off the field inveigle who he was on the football field. Some might believe that that attitude gave him that star studded ability. That is for us to see going forward. The prospect of Manziel joint the NFL one day are pretty high depending on his performance in the Canadian Football League. Fortunately, Manziel is in no rush. At 25, a start in a career would be he usual for an NFL quarterback. Manziel has already seen the good, the bad, and the ugly and seems to be looking towards the right path.
Like always, only time will tell whether Manziel would be ever to step up to the plate. Fortunately, the pressure is as high at it can get for him. To being able to take care of himself and live an honest life should be enough as his top priority. Football should definitely come second unless it is paramount for his recovery. What people will say, fans and doubters, shouldn’t matter as his destiny lies in only one person’s hands. For Manziel, well, he has a lot of time, none for mistakes but much to prove his rightful spot in this league or at least his place in our universe.
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After being seen doing passing drills with Odell Beckham Jr., Johnny Manziel is ready for a comeback and absolutely deserves a shot. Let’s take a quick trip back through his recent years.
In Aug. of 2012, to much surprise, Johnny Manziel beat out Jameill Showers, Matt Joeckel and Matt Davis, to win the Texas A&M starting quarterback job. On Oct. 13, Manziel goes for 576 total yards against Louisiana Tech, becoming the first player in SEC history to have multiple 500-yard games in one season.
Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M knock off No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 10, 2012 (Bleacher Report)
Manziel and A&M were off to a quick 6-2 start going into November. On Halloween, as Johnny was climbing up the Heisman watch list, Manziel went out in an incredible Scooby-Doo costume. Why? Because he is a legend.
On Nov. 10, 2012, Johnny Manziel shocked the world. Throwing for 253 yards and two touchdowns and 92 yards on the ground, Johnny Football and Texas A&M knocked off No. 1 Alabama, 29-24, in Tuscaloosa.
About a month later, Manziel was the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Leading the Aggies to a 10-2 record with over 3,400 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, 19 rushing touchdowns, and later a 41-13 romping over the Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl, Manziel was on top of the world.
The day after the Cotton Bowl, Manziel posted a photo to Instagram in which he held a wad full of cash at a casino.
Ballers do baller things.
Stuff kids dream about
Manziel enjoying life with NBA superstar Kevin Durant, and music icon Drake (USA Today)
After winning the Heisman, Manziel went on a run. He was seen sitting courtside at Rockets games and posting pictures with James Harden. Manziel also took part in the Super Bowl week festivities by partying with celebs like Jessica Biel, Rob Gronkowski and Justin Timberlake.
He then followed this up in March of 2013 by going to Toronto and partying with the GOAT in the music game, Drake. Johnny even showed up at the NBA Finals and hung out with LeBron James. A few first pitches and parties later, Manziel ran into some trouble at the Manning Passing Academy.
In the summer of 2013, after being sick and dehydrated, Manziel left the Manning Passing Academy early. He was faced with serious criticism from the media. The day after he left, Manziel was seen out at a club.
Then there was the NCAA investigation in which it was said that Manziel had accepted money to sign hundreds of items for autograph brokers. He was hit with a first half suspension against Rice.
His sophomore season stats were even better than the previous season’s. He would go on to throw for over 4,000 yards with 41 total touchdowns. Manziel left college in style with 455 total yards and five total touchdowns in a come-from-behind win against Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
DRAFT DAY, JOHNNY MANZIEL
With the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Manziel. Arguably the worst franchise in sports, the Browns are as dysfunctional as it gets. The constant hire and fire strategy has yet to work.
Since 1999, they have had 26 different quarterbacks behind center. To make matters worse, the Browns have been terrible in the draft. Of the last five year’s picks, none of the Browns selected have made a Pro Bowl. With all that said, Manziel was walking into a losing situation.
In two seasons, Manziel went 2-6 as a starter. Is his record an appropriate way to judge his ability? Absolutely not. In his first season, the Browns ranked 32nd in rushing yards allowed per game. Luckily, in his second season, they moved all the way up to 30th, and finished 27th in total yards allowed per game.
Think that is irrelevant for someone who controls the offense? Of the 10 teams that finished in the bottom for total yards allowed per game, only one of them, the Washington Redskins, made the playoffs. The Browns gave Manziel no shot to succeed.
Money Manziel. (cnn.com)
In his sophomore campaign, Manziel was one of only four quarterbacks to throw for at least 160 yards and rush for at least 100 yards in a single game. He was one of only two quarterbacks to throw for at least 160 yards and rush for at least 30 yards versus the Bengals defense.
Manziel was also one of the toughest quarterbacks the Titans had faced all year, posting the second-highest passing rater against their defense. The only qualified quarterback who had a higher passing rating against Tennessee was Blake Bortles.
In his 15 career games, Manziel has seven passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and seven interceptions. His career passer rating of 74.4 ranks ahead of Mark Sanchez and Derek Anderson, who both serve as backups. In eight starts, Manziel threw six touchdowns and five interceptions.
Let’s take a look at the two best quarterbacks of this generation: Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. In Manning’s first eight starts, the soon-to-be Hall of Famer threw 16 interceptions and had the Colts sitting at 1-7. Tom Brady threw seven interceptions within his first eight games as a starter.
#LOST IN THE SAUCE
After rehab, a tough breakup that involved a domestic violence case, and partying with endless celebs, Manziel was officially lost in the sauce. He was waived by the Browns on March 11, 2016.
After being waived, Manziel fluttered down a tough path in which he was followed by TMZ Sports, who would constantly catch him outside of nightclubs.
After getting more tattoos, hanging with Justin Bieber and Leonardo DiCaprio, being allegedly the passenger in multiple hit-and-run accidents, having to pay thousands of dollars in damage to a multi-million-dollar home, going to Coachella with Josh Gordon and watching the NFL Draft at a bar, Manziel was ready for a change.
Sporting a Josh Gordon jersey, Manziel clearly enjoying the view in Cabo (Larry Brown Sports)
I believe in Johnny Manziel, and you should too. This past March, Manziel proposed to model girlfriend Bre Tiesi. You may have seen her on MTV’s “Wild’n Out”. Tiesi is in full support of Johnny’s comeback and is exactly what he needed.
A stable girlfriend who can keep him focused, Tiesi could be the piece that Manziel needed. With Tiesi and support from friends, the sky is the limit for Manziel.
The talent has never been the problem. The 24-year-old has been training and working out hard, hoping for another shot at the sport he loves.
Not only is he working on his own game, but Manziel has also been working out with Wyoming’s quarterback, Josh Allen. Allen is projected to be a top pick in next year’s draft and claims Manziel has been “very informative” to him. Manziel has taught Allen the importance of “staying out of the spotlight, and doing the right things.” This is a clear sign of maturity from Manziel.
In a recent interview, former teammate Travis Benjamin spoke about Manziel and explained how the former college star is “ready to comeback”. Manziel is a “more determined man now” said Benjamin. Manziel is ready to prove himself, and prove to the doubters that he can succeed in the NFL.
Now, happy, healthy, and sober, Johnny Football is back and deserves another chance in the NFL.
Featured image by nike.com
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Three safeties in the 2017 NFL Draft were selected in the first round. The 2018 draft class should also produce some good safeties that are good enough to be selected early on in the NFL Draft. Here are the best safety prospects playing college football in 2017:
Derwin James, Florida State
James is an elite safety prospect, that will in no doubt be a first round pick if he can stay healthy. He was sidelined for much of the 2016 campaign with a knee injury. He has great size that NFL teams will love at 6’3″ and 211 pounds.
In 14 games played for the Seminoles, James has totaled 102 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, one interception, four passes defended, two forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles. He displays great speed and athleticism, which makes him a unique player.
The Seminoles will play Alabama, Miami, Louisville, Clemson and Florida in the 2017 season. He won’t play too many pocket passing quarterbacks, but does have a chance to play a lot of good receivers this season. James can also help slow down some good rushing attacks this season.
Ronnie Harrison, Alabama
While he hasn’t hit the level of a lot of Alabama secondary players yet, Harrison is still a good NFL prospect. He too has good size at 6’3″ and 216 pounds.
Last year, Harrison had 83 tackles, seven passes defended and two interceptions. While he has the measurables to be a good NFL player, Harrison needs to back up all his potential with some good tape this season.
Alabama plays Florida State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn this season. Harrison will be tested against Auburn’s high-powered offense and good receivers on the rest of the teams.
Armani Watts, Texas A&M
Armani Watts (Photo by: gridironnow.com)
Watts has been a playmaker for the Aggies ever since he stepped on campus. It is fitting that he will be taken in the first few rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. He is a bit undersized at 5’11” and 200 pounds.
In his career at Texas A&M, Watt has accrued 237 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and six interceptions. He has played in a total of 33 games and brings a lot of experience to the table. His best season was in 2015, when he played 13 games. Last year he tore his hamstring against Ole Miss and only ended up playing in eight games. He needs to stay relatively healthy this season to make teams have a vote of confidence in him.
The Aggies play a very difficult schedule in 2017 and their opponents include: UCLA, Alabama, Florida, Auburn and LSU. These teams provide a wide variety of assets for Watts to go up against and should allow him to prove himself many more times for NFL scouts.
Jordan Whitehead, Pittsburgh
Jordan Whitehead (Photo by: zimbio.com)
Another safety prospect that has been starting from his freshman season, Whitehead has been a star for the Panthers. He too is a little undersized at 5’11” and 190 pounds.
As a freshman in 2015, Whitehead had 110 total tackles. He is very physical and able to come up and stop the run, but also demonstrates good range while defending passes. He was lost to the season with an arm injury last year after playing in the first nine games of the season.
The Panthers play a tough schedule that should test Whitehead. Their big games are against: Penn State, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech. The biggest games that will impact Whitehead’s draft stock are against Penn State and Oklahoma State, who should have high-scoring offenses.
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This mock draft will factor in team needs heavily rather than who is the best player. The draft order won’t be set in stone until the lottery takes place, but the talk is already starting on who will go number one overall.
Many scouts and experts are picking Markelle Fultz to go first, but it depends on who wins the lottery. Right now these predictions will be based solely off current standings and will continue to be until the draft lottery takes place. Here is Hagan’s Haus 2017 NBA mock draft.
1: Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Josh Jackson sG Kansas
(Photo Credit: Allen Kee / ESPN Images)
The Boston Celtics do not need a point guard. Fultz may be the best player in the draft, but Isaiah Thomas isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Thomas is also a proven player while any player coming out of college is unproven.
Fultz may be the best player in the draft but doesn’t fit what the Celtics need. The Celtics play great team defense and need a scorer to take the load off of Thomas.
Josh Jackson could prove to be a valuable scoring option for Boston as he averages 16.7 points per game. Jackson in a two-way player capable of becoming a superstar. Boston would be smart to add him to their core.
2: Los Angeles Lakers: Markelle Fultz pG Washington
Picking what the Lakers will do is extremely difficult. They just spent the 2015 second overall pick on a point guard. The Lakers issue is veteran leadership. They have a core of young players who just need time to develop. L.A. could trade this pick for a star player, but if they do keep it expect them to take the best available player.
That would be Washington guard Markelle Fultz. Fultz is averaging 23.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and six assists per game. Fultz also has a player efficiency rating (PER) of 28.6 and is clearly the best player in the draft. The Lakers can not pass on that just to fill a position of need.
3: Phoenix suns: Jayson Tatum Sf duke
Jayson Tatum has a well-polished iso game that is NBA ready. The Suns have a star in the making with Devin Booker and need to find a player to grow alongside him.
Tatum could grow to be a solid second option in the NBA. He can score anywhere on the floor due to his ability to create off the dribble.
One of his biggest weaknesses is his shot selection. Due to his height and ability to shoot over defenders, Tatum tends to settle for difficult shots. Shot selection will improve over time and the Suns may be able to find a Robin for their Batman.
4: Orlando Magic: Lonzo Ball Pg UCLA
Everyone is talking about LaVar Ball’s opinions rather than the play of Lonzo Ball. Ball can ball. It is as simple as that.
His father may be onto something when talking about how good his son can be. However, talking so openly may hurt his son’s draft stock.
Sticking strictly to Lonzo and his basketball ability, it is clear that he is a top prospect. Ball is a great passer with a high basketball I.Q. In the NBA Ball will be a floor general capable of running the team from the court.
Many scouts compare him to Jason Kidd, which is a pretty accurate comparison. Having a Kidd-like career would be an amazing accomplishment for anybody. Orlando needs a franchise player and that is exactly what Lonzo Ball will be.
5: Philadelphia 76ers: Malik Monk Sg Kentucky
Trusting the process hit yet another bump in the road this season. Joel Embiid suffered another injury after appearing in just 31 games. If that wasn’t enough, last year’s first overall pick, Ben Simmons, will not make his debut this year either. The 76ers still believe those pieces will result in playoff appearances and maybe even titles.
Interestingly enough, reports came out that Philadelphia brass believes Simmons will be the point guard. That is why they will use this top-five pick on Malik Monk.
Monk has proven to be a flat-out scoring machine and that will translate to the NBA. Drafting Monk will allow the Sixers to develop Simmons as their point guard while putting a scorer in the backcourt beside him.
Creating a powerful backcourt could be the key to a deep postseason run. They already have a great frontcourt player in Embiid.
6: New York Knicks: Dennis Smith Pg N.C. State
(Photo Credit: William Howard/Icon Sportswire)
The Knicks need a young explosive point guard who will grow alongside Kristaps Porzingis. Carmelo Anthony is on the back half of his career and will most likely be out of the picture soon. Derrick Rose has been very respectable in New York, but he is not the same player that won the league MVP.
Dennis Smith is a top-five talent who will fall a bit due to some of the other needs teams have. Not all are looking for a point guard.
The Knicks would get a Russell Westbrook type of player by drafting Smith. He can score, pass and rebound with the best of them in college. He also has insane athleticism that allows him to posterize defenders.
Smith would be a great pick here if the Knicks want to take steps towards becoming a playoff team.
7: Sacramento Kings: Jonathan Issac PF Florida State
The Kings need to start from scratch. Buddy Hield seems to be the guy that Sacramento will build this team around. It looks like Willie Cauley-Stein will be the man up front with DeMarcus Cousins now out of the picture.
Jonathan Issac would be a great fit with this team. Issac is a great rebounder and can run the floor well for a big man. He also shoots well from all areas of the floor. He could play at small forward or power forward in today’s NBA style. The Kings would find a great player with lots of potential.
8: Sacramento Kings (Via Pelicans): De’Aaron Fox PG Kentucky
The Kings can afford to be risky with one of their two top-10 picks. Buddy Hield will need a backcourt partner in crime, and Fox could fit that mold.
Fox is unique because he is left handed. It is sometimes hard to defend left-handed players because defenders are used to right handed defenders. He is also extremely quick and defenders may have trouble keeping up with him.
Fox will need to work on shooting with more consistency. With Hield alongside him, all Fox needs to do is run the offense.
9: Dallas Mavericks: Lauri Markkanen PF Arizona
(Photo Credit: http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu)
Dallas got their center when they traded for Nerlens Noel. The guard positions seem to be held down as well with the emergence of Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry. That makes Lauri Markkanen a perfect option for the Mavericks.
Dirk Nowitzki will be going into his final season and the Mavericks need to find his future replacement. Markkanen is a 7-foot stretch big who will be able to shoot the three in the NBA. He has all the intangibles to replace the greatest European player in NBA history.
Drafting Markkanen will allow him to develop in his first season before Dirk rides off into the sunset.
10: Minnesota Timberwolves: Harry Giles PF Duke
The Minnesota Timberwolves are right on the cusp of becoming a great NBA team. Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins are continuing to grow and will be one of the most dangerous duos in the NBA in the coming years. They have already begun to show signs of it. Point guard is not an issue as they have Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, and Kris Dunn. Picking Giles would be a shock here at number 10, but could be a huge steal.
Giles was considered the best player coming out of high school and was projected to be the number one overall pick before he began having injury problems. We have not seen what Giles is fully capable of, but his potential is through the roof. He is an athletic finisher who can be molded into a great defender under Tom Thibodeau.
This pick could be a bust, but it will more likely create a young core in Minnesota capable of winning championships.
11: Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges SF Michigan St.
(Photo Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports)
The Hornets need a solid wing player and Miles Bridges would be a good fit.
Bridges is a dunking machine and plays with an extremely high motor. One of Bridges’ weaknesses is that he has no true position. Shooting guard, small forward and power forward are all in play for Bridges. Charlotte would likely play him at small forward.
Bridges has also shown consistent improvement in his shooting since high school.
12: Portland Trailblazers: Robert Williams PF Texas A&M
Robert Williams can jump out of this world. He can put anyone on a poster and loves to do so. There are countless highlights of him dunking on opponents.
Williams has a 7-foot-5 wingspan, and he knows how to use it. That wingspan allows him to excel as a rebounder and shot blocker.
One thing going against Williams is that he is raw as a big man. He lacks consistency like many raw prospects. The better competition gave him trouble, but with development from NBA coaches, he can turn into a solid NBA starter.
13: Miami Heat: Isaiah Hartenstein PF Germany
The Heat have been amazing in the second half of this season. Hassan Whiteside is a franchise centerpiece at center. Their guard play has been tremendous, and Justise Winslow is really coming into his own. That leaves the power forward position as their biggest need. The Heat need a power forward that can stretch the floor since Whiteside is the inside presence.
Isaiah Hartenstein would be a great fit in Miami. He is a versatile left-handed player who can not only score inside, but outside as well. Hartenstein is a great passing big man with a high basketball I.Q.
The downside with Hartenstein is his immaturity and lack of experience against tough competition. However, his potential makes him a lottery pick.
14: Chicago Bulls: Frank Ntilikina Pg France
(Photo Credit: https://hardwoodhoudini.com
One thing is clear in the NBA: teams need a franchise point guard. The Bulls do not have a franchise point guard on their roster and will be looking for one in this year’s draft. Drafting at the end of the lottery does not leave them with many options, but it will allow them to take Frank Ntilikina out of France.
Ntilikina has excellent size for a point guard. He is listed at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds. Ntilikina is a pass-first point guard with a high I.Q. He has developed a mid-range game and excellent floater, but is a really inconsistent shooter. Ntilikina also has great lateral quickness that makes him an elite defender.
All the skills are there for Ntilikina to become the franchise point guard the Bulls desperately need.
15: Denver Nuggets: John Collins Pf Wake Forest
Denver has a lot of young talent, and Collins is a bit of a project. If the Nuggets take a year or two to develop Collins, then he can become a valuable asset.
16: Milwaukee Bucks: Justin Patton C Creighton
There have been a lot of problems with Greg Monroe in Milwaukee. The Bucks have found a star in Giannis Antetokounmpo and need a big man inside to feed off of him. Justin Patton from Creighton can be that guy.
17: Detroit Pistons: Ivan Rabb C Cal
There have been swirling rumors that Andre Drummond was going to be traded just before the deadline. That still may happen in the offseason, and the Pistons need to prepare for that. Ivan Rabb would be a great fit with Stan Van Gundy.
18: Indiana Pacers: Luke Kennard SG Duke
(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)
Kennard has been unbelievable in the second half of the season for Duke. Paul George is rumored to be on his way out of Indiana via trade or free agency in two years. Kennard may not become a franchise player, but will come into the NBA as a scoring machine.
19: Atlanta hawks: TJ Leaf PF UCLA
Drafting a power forward may not make sense with Paul Millsap around, but TJ Leaf is a bit of a project. Millsap will want to be on a contending team as his career unwinds. Everyone knows the Hawks are not winning a championship. Drafting Leaf now gives him time to develop until Millsap leaves.
20: Portland Trailblazers (Via Memphis): Justin Jackson SF North Carolina
Justin Jackson would be a great fit in Portland alongside Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The two guards can focus on the scoring and Jackson can be the team’s wing defender. Jackson is capable of guarding multiple positions and would be a solid pick by the Trailblazers.
21: Oklahoma City: DILLON BROOKS SF OREGON
(Photo Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports)
It is clear that Russell Westbrook needs help. He is an animal but can’t do it on his own. Dillon Brooks is one of the most underrated players in all of college basketball. Brooks is capable of being the second option to Westbrook and a true sidekick that Westbrook desperately needs.
22: TORONTO RAPTORS: DWAYNE BACON SF FLORIDA STATE
Toronto has one of the best backcourts in the NBA. Bacon can come in and be a solid rotation player allowing the Raptors to deepen their bench as they continue to chase a championship.
23: ORLANDO MAGIC (VIA LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS): TYLER LYDON PF SYRACUSE
Orlando is a tough team to gauge and need a lot. Lydon would be a head-scratching pick, but something they would do. Lydon won’t become an All-Star but will be a solid rotation player in the NBA.
Brooklyn needs anything and everything and is nowhere close to being a good NBA team. Josh Hart could bring a culture change to the franchise. He is a leader and a winner and the Nets could use some of that in their locker room.
Adding Bam Adebayo to pair up with Hart could be the start of turning things around. They won’t win many games, but the rebuild has to start somewhere. Adebayo is a solid prospect with lots of potential.
26: UTAH JAZZ: CALEB SWANIGAN PF PURDUE
The Jazz are in as good of a position as the Celtics. They will finish as the fourth or fifth seed in the tough Western Conference and have two first-round draft picks. Swanigan can come right into the NBA and contribute off the bench.
27: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS (VIA CLEVELAND): RODIONS KURUCS SF LATVIA
Kurucs is a project and Portland can afford to draft a developmental player this late in the first round. Kurucs is versatile and can be a valuable scoring option in the NBA.
28: LOS ANGELES LAKERS (VIA HOUSTON): DONOVAN MITCHELL SG LOUISVILLE
(Photo Credit: By Pat McDonogh, The CJ)
The Lakers have youth on their side and drafting Mitchell will allow them to continue to build assets as trading blocks so that they can get superstars back in Hollywood. Mitchell is a solid shooting guard who can be a solid sixth man in the NBA.
29: UTAH JAZZ (VIA GOLDEN STATE): JOHNATHAN MOTLEY PF BAYLOR
Utah needs some frontcourt athleticism. Derrick Favors has only had one really productive season and looks to be on the decline. Motley’s offensive I.Q. makes him a perfect fit in Utah to be a solid role player on a solid playoff team.
30: SAN ANTONIO SPURS: THOMAS BRYANT C INDIANA
The Spurs are like the Patriots. They know what they are doing and you don’t question them. LaMarcus Aldridge’s future is in jeopardy due to health concerns. With Kawhi Leonard being a two-way star, the Spurs need a big man who can protect the paint.
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There are a lot of great prospects for Texas A&M, but unfortunately the case isn’t the same for Kansas State in the 2016 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl. The talent discrepancy is apparent, but Kansas State will play any team tough. The Aggies’ prospects will have to step up for them to win. Here are the prospects to watch from this bowl game:
Willis has produced this season with 11.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. He can stop the run and rush the passer, but may lack the necessary athleticism to be successful at the next level. At six foot five and 260 pounds, he is strong at the point of attack and is a good size for NFL teams.
Texas A&M Aggies
Myles Garrett, DE
Projected Draft Range: Top five
Garrett is one of the premier talents in the draft class. He is an elite pass rusher, but still really good at stopping the run too. Unless character issues or injuries come up about him, he will be taken in the top five. Minor injuries have plagued him this season. He has great size at six feet five inches tall and 270 pounds and will fit right in athletically.
Justin Evans, S
Projected Draft Range: Second Round-Fourth Round
Justin Evans (Photo courtesy: thebatt.com)
With decent size at six feet tall and 200 pounds, Evans just needs to add muscle to have an NFL body. He is a great tackler and had multiple games with over ten tackles. If Evans wants to improve his draft stock, he has to prove he can guard NFL-level receivers and tight ends.
Reynolds has great size for an NFL receiver at six feet three inches tall. He has been productive with 885 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions. For Reynolds, he needs to prove that he can create separation consistently to be taken seriously at the next level. Big plays are his forte right now, but some consistency would go a long way to making him a good NFL player.
Daeshon Hall, DE
Projected Draft Range: Third Round-Fifth Round
Hall gets overlooked because he plays on the opposite side of Garrett, but he is a legit pro prospect himself. He has great size like Garrett at six feet six inches tall and 270 pounds. He isn’t as athletic as Garrett and isn’t the same pass rusher as him, but is still good at both. Hall is a solid run defender and can hope to use that to bolster his draft stock.
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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 six premier college teams of Texas all look to be in great shape. Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU all scheduled easy games to begin the season, but all won in a great fashion.
Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images
Baylor beat Northwestern State 55-7 in Waco. The most important part of the game was the return of quarterback Seth Russell. Russell is coming back from a neck injury he suffered last year. Russell went 14-20, threw for 163 yards and also threw for four touchdown pass. Baylor is also working with a new head coach. Jim Grobe is the new head coach after the firing of Art Briles. Baylor fired Briles after an investigation that Baylor University allegedly mishandled many sexual assault complaints, many of which included some players for the Baylor football team.
Texas Tech had an easy time with Stephen F Austin. Red Raider junior quarterback Patrick Mahomes II lit up the Lumberjack defense. He had over 500 total yards of offense and six touchdowns. He threw for 483 yards and threw four touchdowns. While on the ground, he ran for 57 yards and scored twice using his legs. Texas Tech ended up winning the game 69-17.
In Fort Worth, the TCU Horned Frogs had a scare against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Before the end of the first half, TCU was down by as much as 10 points. TCU won the game 59-41. Most importantly, new quarterback Kenny Hill had a great game. Hill ran for three scores and threw for two more. He threw for over 400 yards, but head coach Gary Patterson would love for Hill to throw less interceptions. Hill threw two during the game.
As for the other three teams in Texas, they scheduled big time opponents. Houston, Texas A&M and Texas were all underdogs in their games, but they all came out on top.
George Bridges/ AP Photo
Last year, the Cougars beat the Florida State Seminoles in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Many thought it was fluke, but after Saturday the Cougars showed why they belong in the National Championship conversation. Houston’s first opponent of the 2016 season was the Oklahoma Sooners.
Freshman defensive tackle Ed Oliver had a great college debut. Oliver is former five star recruit from the Houston area. Oliver is the first five star recruit to go to a non-Power 5 conference. On the field, he showed his worth. He had seven tackles and sacked Baker Mayfield twice on the day. The defense held the Sooners to 70 yards rushing. Senior corner back Brandon Wilson had a 100-yard missed field goal return.
On offense, the Cougars were clicking. Greg Ward Jr. had over 300 yards passing and threw for two scores. Running back Duke Catalon had 88 yards rushing and receiver Steven Dunbar had 125 yards on seven catches. The Cougars would end up beat the Oklahoma Sooners 33-23 and this was their second straight Top 10 victory.
The Texas A&M Aggies hosted the UCLA Bruins for a SEC-Pac 12 match-up. The Aggies were trying out new quarterback Trevor Knight and his first outing was good. He threw for over 200 yards and one touchdown. On the ground, Knight had 31 yards rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. In overtime, Knight’s second rushing touchdown was the game-clinching touchdown.
The Aggie defense picked off Josh Rosen three times during the game. Justin Evans had two of them and Priest Willis had the other one. The defense also got to Rosen five times. Texas A&M won the game 31-24 in overtime.
The Texas Longhorns beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Sunday. It took two overtimes to do it, but they beat Notre Dame 50-47. It was a battle of the two quarterback systems. It was Notre Dame’s Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer versus Texas’ Tyrone Swoopes and true freshman Shane Buechele. Buechele is the first freshman starting QB at Texas since 1944. It paid off for the Longhorns. Buechele threw 280 yards and two scores, while Swoopes was the running quarterback. Swoopes ran for 53 yards and also had three rushing touchdowns. His third rushing touchdown was the dagger. Swoopes leaped over the goal line and ended the game.
This weekend was huge for college football, but it was especially big for the state of Texas. Vince Young’s ’05 Texas team was the last team from Texas to win a National Championship, but that was 10 years ago. All six of these teams want to be the team that brings the state of Texas back to the National Championship game.