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Antonio Brown, The Baltimore Ravens, and More Week 1 Reactions // Roughing the Caster Ep. 4

FTS Writers Adam Simkowitz and Dylan White return for a quick conversation about the NFL’s first week.

In this edition of Roughing the Caster, lead NFL Writers Dylan White and Adam Simkowitz give their reactions and analysis to Week 1 of the NFL season. Topics discussed include the horrible Dolphins and Steelers, and the elite Ravens and Patriots. And yeah, it’s a little late, but who really cares?

Roughing the Caster, Episode 4.
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The Post-Preseason-Podcast + Week 1 Preview // Roughing the Caster Ep. 3

In this edition of FTS’s flagship podcast, lead NFL Writers Dylan White and Adam Simkowitz connect over Skype to discuss some of the preseason’s final headlines. This includes takes on Ezekiel Elliot and Jared Goff’s new contracts, Andrew Luck’s retirement, and the dumpster fire that is the Houston Texans’ front office. Download, comment, and leave a like! Thanks for listening!

Roughing the Caster, Episode 3.
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2019 NFL Season Preview: AFC North Edition

As the juggernaut of the AFC, the North could send three teams to the playoffs this season.

As a part of our preparation for the upcoming NFL season, my fellow FTS Writer Adam Simkowitz and I decided to dive deep into every teams’ offseason, picking the most interesting players and storylines to follow this season. Accompanying these players and storylines are draft class summaries, teams’ strengths and weaknesses, and record predictions. We’ll release two AFC and NFC division previews per week, and we now we’ll kick off the second week with the northern divisions.

Here are the previous division previews:

AFC East Preview

NFC East Preview

NFC South Preview

AFC South Preview

Baltimore Ravens

2019 Draft Grade: A- – As a Steelers fan, it pains me to see Baltimore continuing to draft well. They drafted three playmaking athletic freaks; Miles Boykin’s (WR) athletic profile is almost identical to D.K. Metcalf’s, Justice Hill (RB) is as explosive as any RB in this class, and Marquise Brown (WR)s pretty much a more refined Desean Jackson. Their offensive is slowly morphing into a powerhouse, but it all depends on whether or not Lamar Jackson can consistently throw the ball accurately. If his ball placement improves, the Ravens will wreak havoc on NFL defenses for the next 5-8 years with these playmakers. Trace McSorely (QB) looked really good this preseason, and he’ll likely make the final roster as a third QB. Jaylon Ferguson (EDGE) wreaked havoc at Louisiana Tech, and I think the second rounder will get a chance to showcase his pass-rushing prowess this season.

Player to Watch: Earl Thomas III, Free Safety – This is kind of a weak pick. Earl Thomas is a household name, and everyone knows how dominant he can be. I’m just really interested in seeing the impact that he will have on the Ravens’ defense. Thomas III is a rare talent, and he’s one of the most valuable and impactful defensive players in the NFL at a position that isn’t traditionally viewed as valuable. He’s coming off of a broken leg, and he’ll be 30 years old this season. I think that he was by far the most important free agent signing this offseason, and I really believe he can change this Baltimore defense.

Positional Strengths: Cornerback, Safety

Positional Weaknesses: Quarterback, Wide Receiver

Projected Record: 9-7

Cincinatti Bengals

2019 Draft Grade: B- – Jonah Williams (OT) at #11 is my favorite pick of the draft, and it’s not close. It’s a damn shame that he’s already landed on the IR. The Bengals haven’t had the best injury luck with their recent first round picks. The second round pick of Drew Sample (TE) fills the hole left by Tyler Kroft and the oft-injured Tyler Eifert, and Germaine Pratt (LB) will add depth at inside linebacker, their weakest position. Rodney Anderson (RB) had potential to get some touches backing up Joe Mixon this year, but he went down with a torn ACL this preseason.

Player to Watch: Carl Lawson, Edge Rusher – This is a true sleeper pick. I pretty much had to choose an obscure player though, because the Bengals suck. Last year, Lawson played in seven games. He registered 25 pressures in these games while playing only 225 defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s an efficient pass rusher, and that was just his second season. I’m really looking for another jump to be made by Lawson this year.

Positional Strengths: Running Back, Edge Rusher

Positional Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Linebacker

Projected Record: 5-11

Cleveland Browns

2019 Draft Grade: B+ – Browns’ General Manager John Dorsey has proven again and again that he has a ridiculous eye for talent. Greedy Williams (CB) was one of my favorite picks of the draft, falling all the way to the mid-second round due to tackling concerns? Denzel Ward and Greedy will make for one of the scariest secondaries in the NFL come ~2022. I don’t love the selections of Sione Takitaki and Sheldrick Redwine, who are also two of my nominees for the best worst names of the draft. Redwine fills the Browns’ only true need at safety though, and I like his athletic profile. Mack Wilson is a young, raw inside linebacker who showed glimpses of coverage skills and natural instinct in the preseason. I absolutely believe that the Browns could turn him into an impact starter, and I bet we’ll see him this regular season.

Player to Watch: Myles Garrett, Edge Rusher – There’s currently a clear tier of transcendent defensive talents in the NFL. It consists of Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, Von Miller, and Bobby Wagner. By the end of this season, Myles Garrett will be included in this tier. This year will be his third season in the NFL, and this offseason has seemed to be the trademarked “I’m going to morph into an absolute physical monstrosity this year” offseason, as made popular by athletes like Victor Oladipo and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Myles Garrett has a shot at having a Defensive Player of the Year season, and I’m really excited to watch him wreck offensive tackles this year.

Positional Strengths: Wide Receiver, Quarterback, Running Back, Defensive Tackle, Defensive End

Positional Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Linebacker

Projected Record: 10-6

Pittsburgh Steelers

2019 Draft Grade: A – For the seventh year in a row, the Steelers have drafted a defensive player in the first round. And in the words of fellow FTS writer Adam Simkowitz, “Their defense is still not good.” HOWEVER, I really like their draft class this year. This totally isn’t the Steeler fan in me talking, but I believe in a Devin Bush (MLB) DROY run this year. They’ve had a need for a good corner for about 25 years, so I’m guessing that third-round pick Justin Layne (CB) is the answer. Diontae Johnson (WR) is a wideout that severely underperformed in the combine, but his on-field speed is unreal. He’s undersized, he creates separation at an elite level, and he’s one of the best route-runners in this class. Overall, it was a solid draft for the Steelers. Much better than last year.

Player to Watch: Devin Bush, Linebacker – My expectations for Devin Bush are way too high this year. But they’re totally justified. The rookie from Michigan is one of the most electric linebackers I’ve ever watched in college football, and his combine numbers backed that on-field speed up. He led all Steelers in tackles in the preseason, he was literally everywhere on the field at all times. He’s an inside linebacker that can move from sideline to sideline as quickly as anyone, and he still has insane pass-rushing efficiency, which is a skill that is needed in Keith Butler’s defense. I’m expecting a defensive rookie of the year award for Bush, and I will accept nothing less.

Positional Strengths: Quarterback, Defensive End, Running Back

Positional Weaknesses: Cornerback (Just for now, don’t sleep on Cam Sutton and Mike Hilton)

Projected Record: 11-5

STORYLINES TO WATCH

The Good, the Bad, and the Bengals – The AFC North will most likely be the best division in the AFC this year, and they’re really only being challenged by the AFC West. The Steelers, Browns, and Ravens are all teams that are worth paying close attention to, they’re all capable of making deep runs in the playoffs this year. The Bengals on the other hand, are extremely bad. Just check out their linebacking corps. They literally have four linebackers on their roster. Their offensive line is a mess; they have a fourth-round rookie starting at guard, the corpse of Cordy Glenn at tackle, and their 2018 first-round pick Billy Price has been benched in favor of Trey Hopkins, a former undrafted player.

The Baltimore Ravens’ Offense – This season, the Baltimore Ravens are going to run the ball with a passion and ferocity that the NFL hasn’t seen since the 1970’s. Their new offensive coordinator is Greg Roman, who was the mastermind behind Colin Kaepernick’s record-breaking rushing performances in the early 2010’s. Lamar Jackson is one of the most exciting quarterbacks I’ve ever watched, and his running abilities are going to be absolutely unleashed this season. While the entire NFL is turning toward a pass-first, play-action heavy offensive approach, the Ravens are attempting to do the contrary.

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2019 NFL Season Preview, NFC West Edition

As a part of our preparation for the upcoming NFL season, Dylan White and I decided to dive deep into every team’s offseason, picking the most interesting players and storylines to follow this season. Accompanying these players and storylines are draft class summaries, teams’ strengths, weaknesses, and record predictions. Here is my 2019 NFC West Season Preview. This wraps up the 2019 NFC Season Preview series. Be sure to check out the rest of our Season Previews below.

Arizona Cardinals

2019 Draft Grade – A+, In my opinion the Cardinals absolutely crushed this draft, landing numerous impact players. First overall pick Kyler Murray may not have been the best player of the class, but he filled a need in the most important position in football. After landing Murray, The Cardinals added 3 talented WRs in KeeSean Johnson (6th), Hakeem Butler (4th), and Andy Isabella (2nd). Giving Murray these weapons is a great sign of confidence in the young QB. One of my favorite players in the 2019 Draft, Byron Murphy, was a great get to start the 2nd round and he should be a quality starter for Arizona. Zach Allen and Deionte Thompson were two more value picks, and I won’t be surprised if they are considered two of the biggest draft steals come the end of the season.

Player to Watch – Kyler Murray, QB – The Cardinals were quite a good landing spot for Murray to prove himself year one. He’s got one of the better running backs in David Johnson, a future Hall-of-Fame wideout in Larry Fitzgerald, and he’s got other young WRs to develop chemists with (Isabella, Butler, Johnson and Christian Kirk). I’m personally not a huge fan of Murray but he’s being placed in a much better situation, with a lot more weapons, than other rookie QBs like Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and Ryan Finley, so I’d expect a solid year from the #1 overall pick.

Positional Strengths – Edge Rusher, Wide Receiver Depth

Positional Weaknesses – Guard, Center

Projected Record – 5-11

San Francisco 49ers

2019 Draft Grade – B, Nick Bosa is a great addition to the 49ers already deep defensive line. Health has been an issue, but if healthy, Bosa should be the most productive player of the 2019 draft class. Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd give the 49ers some decent depth at WR, but neither stands out as anything more than a #3 WR. Although the 49ers may have gotten the best player in the Draft, they could have done better with their later picks.

Player to Watch – Tevin Coleman, RB – Having been in the shadow of Devonta Freeman for most of his time in Atlanta, Coleman should see a good amount of work with the 49ers. Jerrick McKinnon’s knee issues will keep him out a second consecutive season, so Matt Breida is the only real threat to dig into Coleman’s workload. With Jimmy Garoppolo healthy, the 49ers should have a more efficient offense, so Coleman could be a pleasant surprise in 2019.

Positional Strengths – Offensive Tackle, Tight End, Defensive End, Defensive Tackle

Positional Weaknesses – Wide Receiver, Safety

Projected Record – 6-10

Seattle Seahawks

2019 Draft Grade – B-, The 2019 Seahawks draft class is solid, yet I don’t see any one player becoming a star at their respective position. LJ Collier and Marquise Blaire are both “fine” picks, but neither is a game changer on defense. DK Metcalf and Gary Jennings Jr. are two solid wideouts, but in an offense like Seattle, I don’t see either thriving in a system like that. The Seahawks had a lot of picks, 11 in total, so it’s to early to say none of their later round picks will turn out well, but my early impression is that there isn’t really any other names worth mentioning.

Player to Watch – Chris Carson, RB – In an offense as run-heavy as Seattle, you’d think Carson would be putting up monster stats. Well that wasn’t the case in 2018, but that could be blamed on a weak O-line and limited opportunities as a pass-catcher. Though the offensive line didn’t get too much better, Carson is expected to get a lot more work as a receiver out of the backfield. This could be beneficial to the Seahawks as a whole, and this could also make Carson a valuable fantasy asset.

Positional Strengths – Quarterback, Middle Linebacker

Positional Weaknesses – Cornerback, Guard, Center

Projected Record – 9-7

Los Angeles Rams

2019 Draft Grade – B+, The first pick the Rams had was one of the last picks in the 2nd round, but they managed to get a very good safety in Taylor Rapp. 3rd rounder Darrell Henderson is a valuable backup to Todd Gurley II, and he may wind up seeing more work than originally expected. Landing David Long in the back-end of the 3rd round was a very good selection, as he offers a good amount of upside at CB. Bobby Evans (3rd) and David Edwards (5th ) give LA good depth on the O-line as well.

Player to Watch – Todd Gurley II – There’s no question that Todd Gurley is one of the most talented backs in the NFL, the issue is his health and potential work-load management. Trading up to draft Darrell Henderson in the 3rd round is a sign that Gurley’s reps will be reduced, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be a valuable player. The Rams are expected to easily make the playoffs, so by week 10 or so, I could see LA severely limiting his touches.

Positional Strengths – Offensive Tackle, Wide Receiver, Running Back, Safety, Cornerback, Defensive Tackle

Positional Weaknesses – Linebacker

Projected Record – 10-6

STORYLINES

Elite Pass-Rushers – The NFC West was notorious for having poor offensive lines and strong defensive fronts, a QB’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately for NFC West quarterbacks a bunch of big-name pass-rushers are joining the division. Nick Bosa, Jadeveon Clowney, Ezekiel Ansah, Terrell Suggs, and Clay Matthews are all moving to the NFC West. These stars are join a division already filled with talent up front including Aaron Donald, Deforest Buckner, Dee Ford, and Chandler Jones. Needless to say, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jared Goff can’t be thrilled to face these guys twice a year.

Rams, Best Offense and Defense?? – It is quite probable that the Los Angeles Rams have the best offense or defense for the 2019 NFL season. What is less talked about is that the Rams may indeed have the best offense AND the best defense in the NFL. Though the Rams lack a top 5 receiver, Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods are all top 20 WRs, making for one of (if not the) best wide receiver cores. Todd Gurley is still undoubtedly one of the premier running backs, even though injuries are a concern. At QB, Jarred Goff just signed the largest contract ever and he continues to prove worthy of a #1 overall selection. On the defensive side, the Rams have one of the best players in Aaron Donald. Clay Matthews, Eric Weddle, and Aqib Talib are three veterans past their primes, but all three are still good football players, and make an impact on the field. Young safeties John Johnson III and Taylor Rapp offer exciting youth and energy to the squad. Marcus Peters, Michael Brockers, and Dante Fowler Jr. round out this star studded defense. The only potential weakness is at linebacker, but the Rams will definitely be in the conversation for best defense come the end of the 2019 season.

ALL DIVISION TEAM

QB: Russell Wilson, SEA RB: Todd Gurley II, LAR

WR: Brandin Cooks, LAR WR: Tyler Lockett, SEA

TE: George Kittle, SF  C: Weston Richburg, SF

OT: Joe Staley, SF OT:  Duane Brown, SEA

OG: Austin Blythe, LAR OG: Mike Person, SF

DE: Jadeveon Clowney, SEA  DE: Chandler Jones, ARI

DT: Aaron Donald, LAR MLB: Bobby Wagner, SEA

LB: Jordan Hicks, ARI  LB: Kwon Alexander, SF

CB: Patrick Peterson, ARI CB: Richard Sherman, SF

FS: Eric Weddle, LAR  SS: John Johnson III, LAR

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2019 Top 100 MLB Prospect Rankings 3.0 (Late-Season)

Julio Rodriguez (SEA), the #8 overall prospect in the MLB

About two months have gone by since my Mid-Season Rankings, so the third installment of my MLB Prospect Rankings is here. This list consists of any player who qualifies as a “rookie” according to MLB’s rules (under 130 ABs/50 IP in MLB games). This is the final update for the 2019 season. Coming up in the next few weeks my 2019 Minor League Farm Systems Rankings will be updated, ten teams at a time, so stay tuned for those 3 articles. Looking ahead to 2020, expect to see three new Top 100 Prospect updates in April, July, and September.

The Top 100:

  1. Luis Robert, OF, CHW
  2. Wander Franco, SS, TB
  3. Jo Adell, OF, LAA
  4. Gavin Lux, SS/2B, LAD
  5. MacKenzie Gore, SP, SD
  6. Casey Mize, SP, DET
  7. Nate Pearson, SP, TOR
  8. Julio Rodriguez, OF, SEA
  9. Jesus Luzardo, SP, OAK
  10. Brendan McKay, SP/DH, TB
  11. Adley Rutschman, C, BAL
  12. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, KC
  13. Royce Lewis, SS, MIN
  14. Cristian Pache, OF, ATL
  15. Jared Kelenic, OF, SEA
  16. Marco Luciano, SS, SF
  17. Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU
  18. Alex Kirilloff, OF, MIN
  19. Joey Bart, C, SF
  20. Alec Bohm, 3B, PHI
  21. Matt Manning, SP, DET
  22. Luis Patino, SP, SD
  23. Sixto Sanchez, SP, MIA
  24. Michael Kopech, SP, CHW
  25. Brendan Rodgers, INF, COL
  26. Carter Kieboom, SS, WSH
  27. Drew Waters, OF, ATL
  28. Nick Madrigal, 2B, CHW
  29. Taylor Trammell, OF, SD
  30. Jasson Dominguez, OF, NYY
  31. Kristian Robinson, OF, ARI
  32. Jesus Sanchez, OF, MIA
  33. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CHW
  34. Matthew Liberatore, SP, TB
  35. Ian Anderson, SP, ATL
  36. Jazz Chisholm, SS, MIA
  37. Josh Jung, 3B, TEX
  38. Alek Thomas, OF, ARI
  39. Riley Greene, OF, DET
  40. Logan Gilbert, SP, SEA
  41. Heliot Ramos, OF, SF
  42. Forrest Whitley, SP, HOU
  43. CJ Abrams, SS, SD
  44. JJ Bleday, OF, MIA
  45. Dylan Carlson, OF, STL
  46. Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE
  47. Grayson Rodriguez, SP, BAL
  48. Nolan Gorman, 3B, STL
  49. Vidal Brujan, 2B, TB
  50. Hunter Greene, SP, CIN
  51. Shane Baz, SP, TB
  52. Hans Crouse, SP, TEX
  53. Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, BAL
  54. Nico Hoerner, SS, CHI
  55. Brady Singer, SP, KC
  56. Jackson Kowar, SP, KC
  57. Dustin May, SP, LAD
  58. Deivi Garcia, SP, NYY
  59. Keibert Ruiz, C, LAD
  60. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT
  61. Jonathan India, 3B, CIN
  62. Nick Lodolo, SP, CIN
  63. Oneil Cruz, SS, PIT
  64. Sean Murphy, C, OAK
  65. Colton Welker, 1B/3B, COL
  66. AJ Puk, SP, OAK
  67. Brusdar Graterol, SP, MIN
  68. Estevan Florial, OF, NYY
  69. Jeremiah Jackson, SS, LAA
  70. DL Hall, SP, BAL
  71. Evan White, 1B, SEA
  72. Trevor Larnach, OF, MIN
  73. Seth Beer, 1B/OF, ARI
  74. Tyler Freeman, CLE
  75. Leody Taveras, OF, TEX
  76. Bobby Dalbec, 3B, BOS
  77. Tristan Casas, 1B/3B, BOS
  78. Corbin Carroll, OF, ARI
  79. Edward Cabrera, SP, MIA
  80. Kris Bubic, SP, KC
  81. Shane McClanahan, SP, TB
  82. Monte Harrison, OF, MIA
  83. Ronaldo Hernandez, C, TB
  84. Ronny Mauricio, SS, NYM
  85. Daniel Lynch, SP, KC
  86. Spencer Howard, SP, PHI
  87. Noelvi Marte, SS, SEA
  88. Khalil Lee, OF, KC
  89. Travis Swaggerty, OF, PIT
  90. Calvin Mitchell, OF, PIT
  91. Jorge Guzman, SP, MIA
  92. Jonathan Stiever, SP, CHW
  93. Braxton Garrett, SP, MIA
  94. Cole Winn, SP, TEX
  95. Luis V. Garcia, SS, WSH
  96. Brent Honeywell, SP, TB
  97. Jordan Groshans, SS, TOR
  98. Kyle Wright, SP, ATL
  99. Freudis Nova, SS, HOU
  100. Jeter Downs, SS, LAD
Heliot Ramos (SF), the #41st overall prospect

Graduates

  • Yordan Alvarez, OF, HOU (4)
  • Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL (5)
  • Bo Bichette, SS, TOR (9)
  • Luis Urias, SS/2B, SD (22)
  • Dylan Cease, SP, CHW (26)
  • Zac Gallen, SP, MIA (78)
  • Jordan Yamamoto, SP, MIA (82)

Risers

  • Julio Rodriguez, OF, SEA (34 to 8) – One of the best teenage talents in all of MiLB, Rodriguez is one of my personal favorites. Having seen him play multiple times throughout 2019, I recognized that he was way too good for Class-A West Virginia. After a promotion to A-Advanced Modesto, Rodriguez really broke out hitting over .450 in 16 games there. His ceiling is higher than any other prospect, so Rodriguez could wind up as the #1 prospect by 2021.
  • Jorge Guzman, SP, MIA (Unranked to 91) – Though Guzman had been having a respectable 2019, what really caught my attention was his recent performances. During the month of August, Guzman notched a 1.20 ERA while only allowing 6 hits in 30 innings (.066 AVG). With such elite velocity, Guzman’s floor is a high-leverage reliever, but his ceiling of front-line starter is becoming more and more likely.
  • Marco Luciano, SS, SF (52 to 16) – For my Mid-Season ranking, slotting Luciano at 52 was more of a guess than anything, considering he hadn’t played a single MiLB game. So far it seems as if #52 was too conservative. Luciano exceeded my original expectations, hitting 10 HRs (179 ABs) while batting just a tad over .300. Another youngster, Luciano played all of 2019 at age 17.

Fallers

  • Forrest Whitley, SP, HOU (19 to 42) – After a breakout 2017 season, many experts considered Whitley to be the best pitching prospect in baseball. His 2018 season was cut short by a drug related suspension, but his numbers were still respectable. 2019 was supposed to be a bounce-back year for Whitley, but it has been anything but that. After a promotion to Triple-A, Whitley posted a terrible 12.21 ERA across 8 games. After a stint on the IL, Whitley was demoted to Double-A, but not before another 2 poor rehab outings in the low-level Gulf Coast League. Hovering around an 8.00 ERA on the season, it’s safe to say 2019 has been a year to forget for Whitley. If 2020 is anything close to 2019 for Whitley, it’s possible to see him slide out of the top 100.
  • Mitch Keller, SP, PIT (47 to Unranked) – I’ve never been as high on Keller as some others, but I can’t say I expected him to do so poorly in his short MLB stint. In 7 starts, Keller posted a 8.62 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .362 against him. Keller should see a decent amount of innings in September, so he has a chance to turn things around.
  • Kyle Wright, SP, ATL (69 to 98) – Former 5th overall pick, Wright, dropped in my rankings for the same reasons as Mitch Keller. Wright didn’t have a bad season in Triple-A, but after receiving the call to Atlanta, Wright struggled mightily, posting an ERA above 9.00. Like Keller, Wright should see some innings as a September call-up, but he needs a few quality outings to make 2020’s list.

Overview

This update includes 2019 draftees and international signees, so the class is a bit stronger than the Mid-Season list. We will get a chance to see many of the top 100 prospects in the majors, as many big names are to be September call-ups. Gavin Lux, AJ Puk, Sean Murphy, and Brusdar Graterol are highlights of early call-ups. It will be interesting to see if guys like Luis Robert or Jo Adell are called up, since their teams would be giving up an extra year of contract control by brining them up this season.

The two Florida teams, Miami and Tampa, have the most players on the list. Miami drastically improved their system before the trade deadline, and they will be making a huge jump in my Farm System Rankings update. The Brewers are the only team not represented on the list, as Keston Hiura is no longer a prospect and Bryce Turang has not impressed this season. There shouldn’t be too many players losing prospect-status before my 1st 2020 list, so expect to see a lot of the same names, but the Arizona Fall League can be a make-or-break for many of the players involved.

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2019 NFL Season Preview, NFC North Edition

As a part of our preparation for the upcoming NFL season, Dylan White and I decided to dive deep into every team’s offseason, picking the most interesting players and storylines to follow this season. Accompanying these players and storylines are draft class summaries, teams’ strengths, weaknesses, and record predictions. Here is my 2019 NFC North Season Preview. NFC West is up next!

Detroit Lions

2019 Draft Grade – B-, T.J. Hockenson is the obvious player to talk about here. Jesse James is not a valuable asset at TE, so adding Hockenson give Matthew Stafford a very solid option at tight end. If not for such a stacked Detroit defensive line, 4th round pick, Austin Bryant could be a starting caliber defensive end. Detroit also added some secondary depth with Will Harris (3rd) and Amani Oruwariye (5th) so they now have some more security on defense.

Players to Watch – Kenny Golladay, WR – With Golden Tate going to the Giants and Marvin Jones on the decline, Golladay has a real chance to become a highly regarded wideout. With a very competent quarterback in Stafford, and being a part of a balanced offense, Golladay’s name could be seen near the top of 2020’s best WRs.

Damon Harrison Sr., DT – in the 2018 offseason, Harrison was dealt from the New York Giants to the Lions for a 5th round pick. This was largely due to to his salary and age. Taking many by surprise, Harrison actually had his best year in 2018, landing his highest grade according to Pro Football Focus. Though he is entering his 30’s, Harrison can still play at a high level, the question is if he can remain as effective this year for Detroit.

Positional Strengths – Defensive Tackle, Defensive End, Safety

Positional Weaknesses – Guard, Linebacker

Projected Record – 6-10

Green Bay Packers

2019 Draft Grade – B+, I really liked the first few picks of Green Bay’s 2019 draft. Rashan Gary wasn’t the best option, but I think he’ll be a valuable piece of the Packers defense regardless. Darnell Savage Jr was a guy I liked a lot, so I’d have to say trading up for him was a good move. Elgton Jenkins is yet another quality piece obtained via the Draft, as quality centers are hard to come by. Overall I liked the Packers Draft, and while they don’t have a name that stands out as a perennial Pro-Bowl candidate, they added some very quality players just under the “star” threshold.

Players to Watch – Rashan Gary, LB/Darnell Savage. S – I picked this pair of 2019 1st rounders for the same reasons. The youth among the Packers defense is exciting. Gary and Savage will be nice additions to a young defense already including Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Josh Jackson, and Kenny Clark. If both (or even one) of these guys perform anywhere close to their potential, the Packers could have one of the best defensive cores in the NFL.

Positional Strengths – Offensive Tackle, Quarterback, Safety

Positional Weaknesses – #2 Wide Receiver, Tight End, Middle Linebacker

Projected Record – 9-7

Chicago Bears

2019 Draft Grade – B+, Landing All-Pro, Khalil Mack, cost Chicago a lot of its draft capital, but its hard to complain when you land one of the best defenders in the NFL. With only 5 picks in total it is hard to make a “splash”, but the Bears managed to add a couple quality players to their roster. David Montgomery has been a nice find, and he could wind up playing a larger role than expected. Cavin “Riley” Ridley was another good pickup, as the Bears could use all the help at WR they can get. Don’t expect too much from this class, but remember that Chicago didn’t have a 1st or 2nd round pick.

Player to Watch – Mitch Trubisky, QB – In my opinion Trubisky has one of the worst supporting casts in the entire NFL. Without an above average offensive line, a true #1 wideout, or a “work-horse” running back, there is not one player Trubisky can rely on to make big plays. I’d expect Trubisky to wind up outside of the top 20 fantasy quarterbacks this year, potentially winding up in the high 20’s.

Positional Strengths – Linebacker, Safety, Defensive Tackle

Positional Weaknesses – Wide Receiver, Running Back

Projected Record –  8-8

Minnesota Vikings

2019 Draft Grade – C+, The Vikings sure did have a lot of picks in the Draft, but the majority of those resided in the last couple rounds. Their first two picks are the only ones I see as having a impact this season. Garrett Bradbury fills a weakness at center, though adding a OT would have been ideal. Irv Smith Jr. is a very athletic tight end who will complement Kyle Rudolph nicely until he winds up as the #1 TE. Minnesota did add an additional 10 players via the Draft, but as of now, I wouldn’t expect much from that bunch.

Player to Watch – Dalvin Cook, RB – After being drafted by Minnesota in 2017, Cook looked like he was primed to be one of the best running backs in the NFL. Injuries have really limited his opportunities though, as he has appeared in just under half of his team’s games. 2019 looks like it could be Cook’s year if he can stay healthy. Both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are extreme threats so defenses can’t just focus on the run versus the Vikings. If healthy, all signs point towards to a top 10 season for Cook.

Positional Strengths – Defensive End, Safety

Positional Weaknesses – Guard, Center

Projected Record – 9-7

STORYLINES

Breakout RB’s – Aaron Jones, Dalvin Cook, and Kerryon Johnson are all running backs with the potential for breakout years. All three have been limited by lack of opportunity or injuries, but at least one of these guys should take a huge leap forward in 2019. Although the NFC North is one of the best divisions in terms of defense, expect to hear all three of these guy’s names a lot more frequently this year.

ALL DIVISION TEAM

QB: Aaron Rodgers, GB RB: Aaron Jones, GB

WR: Davante Adams, GB   WR: Adam Thielen, MIN

TE: Kyle Rudolph, MIN  C: Corey Linsley, GB

OT: David Bakhtiari, GB OT: Taylor Decker, DET

OG: Graham Glasgow, DET  OG: Cody Whitehair, CHI

DE: Trey Flowers, DET  DE:  Danielle Hunter, MIN

DT: Kenny Clark, GB  MLB: Eric Kendricks, MIN

LB: Khalil Mack, CHI  LB: Anthony Barr, MIN

CB: Darius Slay, DET CB: Kyle Fuller, CHI

FS: Eddie Jackson, CHI  SS: Harrison Smith, MIN

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The Next Golf Superstars

Golf is already in a great place. Tiger is back and just won the Masters. Brooks, DJ, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, and Patrick Cantlay are a group of fairly young guys keeping the tour events star studded. But golf fans should be really excited for the next wave of players to get on tour. These kids are going to be superstars. I’m going to list a couple of players who I am really excited to see on tour in a couple of years and break them down.

#1. Matthew Wolff

Took him not even 5 PGA Tour starts for him to record his first win. Whats going to help Matthew get so famous is his extremely unique swing. However, in my opinion, that is going to add a future to golf that no one sees coming. Working with swing coach George Gankas, together these two might just be able to push out the traditional swing thoughts and following the plane, and get players and coaches who will swing their own swing. And I think this is going to add to more exciting golf in the future. Wolff is going to have to hold the majority of golfs future in his hands eventually, but he isn’t going to have to do it alone.

#2. Viktor Hovland

Often talked about in the same sentence of Matthew Wolff, Viktor has the potential to honestly be the best golfer out of this class. Low amateur at the Masters and US Open thanks to a impressive US Amateur victory at Pebble Beach, Hovland has played well in his first few PGA tour starts. In his last three events finishing with two T13 and a T16, he has shot a 65 and two 64s in the final rounds. Expect Hovland to bomb drivers and score low on his way to a elite PGA Tour career.

#3. Collin Morikawa

Recording a T2, T4, and a T14 along with already taking home over a million dollars, Morikawa is quickly making a name for himself on his rise to the top. With a scoring average of 68, he has yet to miss a cut all season. And without Wolff draining a eagle putt from off the green at the 3M championship, he should have been in a playoff with Wolff and DeChambeau. Morikawa is going to be one of the more consistant golfers out of this group of young ones and is going to be near the top when it is all said and done.

As for the rest of young golfers, there is to many to break down. A few on my radar are Will Gordon, Karl Vilips, Akshay Bhatia, Joe Pagdin, and Brandon Wu. The future of golf is in great hands, and the young kids coming up know that they are the future.

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2019 NFL Season Preview: AFC South Edition

The shocking news from Indianapolis has made the AFC South the Houston Texans’ to lose.

As a part of our preparation for the upcoming NFL season, my fellow FTS Writer Adam Simkowitz and I decided to dive deep into every teams’ offseason, picking the most interesting players and storylines to follow this season. Accompanying these players and storylines are draft class summaries, teams’ strengths and weaknesses, and record predictions. We’ll release two AFC and NFC division previews per week, and we now we’ll finish off the first week with the southern divisions.

Here are the previous division previews:

AFC East Preview

NFC East Preview

NFC South Preview

Houston Texans

2019 Draft Grade: D+ I didn’t really love what the Texans did this year. Tytus Howard felt like a total reach to me, probably as a result of the Eagles leapfrogging them to draft Andre Dillard, the superior tackle prospect. Lonnie Johnson Jr. is a somewhat understandable pick at 54, filling the absence of Kevin Johnson and the eventual departure of Jonathan Joseph. I appreciate the Texans’ effort to bolster their offensive line, but they may have gone about it in the wrong way. We’ll definitely see Tytus Howard and Max Scharping get regular-season reps this year, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up about these first-year tackles.

Player to Watch: Deshaun Watson, Quarterback – I’m going to be honest for a second. When times get tough, and my spirits are down, I try to go to my happy place. My happy place is a wonderful, make-believe land where bad things don’t happen, the clouds are made out of cotton candy, and everyone is happy. In my happy place, Deshaun Watson plays behind 5 Hall-of-Fame offensive linemen. Here are a few stats regarding Deshaun Watson’s 2018 season. In 2018, Deshaun Watson was sacked 62 times in 16 games, which averages out to be about 3.8 times per game. Despite this, he managed to account for over 4500 yards and 30 touchdowns. If Deshaun Watson has a somewhat functional offensive line, his production has no ceiling. With the addition of two Top-100 draft picks to his offensive line, I’m hoping that this year will be a little easier for Watson. The world deserves to see Deshaun Watson at his highest potential.

Positional Strengths: Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Edge Rusher

Positional Weaknesses: Running Back, Cornerback, Offensive Line

Projected Record: 10-6

Indianapolis Colts

2019 Draft Grade: B – Chris Ballard seems to have figured out the draft (For now). The Colts recognized their team needs (WR, Secondary,LB), found out where the value was for these positions (picks 30-90), and put their resources into dominating that section of the draft. Rock ya-Sin is a physical, instinctual corner with a good amount of room to grow. Ben Banogu and Bobby Okereke are both ridiculous athletic specimens in their own ridiculous ways. Parris Campbell is a modern Swiss Army Knife at WR. This class could easily become as successful as their class from last year. However, their appearances will be limited this year, as the Colts are in championship contention. As of now, Okereke and Ya-Sin are the only rookies slotted to get a good amount of playing time this season, but I bet we’ll see some of Campbell and Banogu this year.

Player to Watch: Jacoby Brissett, Quarterback – This doesn’t need much explanation. Just kidding.

Positional Strengths: Linebacker, Edge Rusher

Positional Weaknesses: Cornerback, Right Side of Offensive Line

Projected Record: 8-8

Jacksonville Jaguars

2019 Draft Grade: A- – I think the Jaguars may have the league’s most immediate impact from their draft class (Outside of the Arizona Cardinals). Josh Allen (EDGE) and Jawaan Taylor (OT) are both future starters, and Allen is a very strong candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He showcased his defensive versatility in the preseason, wrecking offensive tackles from the edge and being a complete playmaker in the open field. Taylor is slotted to start at right tackle, and he played very well in the preseason, which is rare for a rookie offensive lineman. Josh Oliver (TE) out of San Jose State will see some playing time, both as a blocker and as a possible mismatch in the passing game.

Player(s) to Watch: Taven Bryan, Defensive Tackle; D.J. Chark, Wide Receiver – I chose both of these players for the same reason. You could probably guess why; they’re both second-year players in which the Jaguars invested a good amount of draft capital, and neither of them have shown their worth yet. It’s not necessarily a make-it or break-it year for these sophomores, but another disappointing year from these two could spell trouble for the rest of their respective careers. From what I’ve seen this offseason, it’s more likely that D.J. Chark will be able to progress in a substantial way this season.

Positional Strengths: Defensive Line, Cornerback, Interior Offensive Line, Linebacker

Positional Weaknesses: Running Back, Tight End,Wide Receiver

Projected Record: 6-10

Tennessee Titans

2019 Draft Grade: A -This draft for Tennessee has been par for the course on their upwards trend as a franchise. They selected Jeffery Simmons (DE) in the first, who’ll likely succeed Brett Urban as a starting defensive end by the end of the season.A.J. Brown (WR) was one of my favorite receivers from the draft. He runs like a running back after the catch, and he’s able to create separation at a borderline elite level. Given their weak receiving corp, I’d imagine that he’ll get a healthy amount of playing time this season. Amani Hooker (S) and D’Andre Walker (LB) were both picks of a high value, but it’ll be a while before they see first-team reps, barring injuries to their current starters.

Player(s) to Watch: Derrick Henry, Running Back – Okay, this was a selfish and possibly a mean pick. At most sports-books, the line for the over/under for Henry’s rushing yards this season is around 1220 yards right now. Last year, Derrick Henry rushed for 1059 yards. This included a 99 yard rush against Jacksonville. If you remove that one anomaly of a play from his 2018 stats, he ran for 960 yards; while missing zero games. There is nothing, and I mean nothing that indicates that he will increase that total by about 250 yards this year. Their offensive line remains the same, except they’re losing Taylor Lewan for four games. Their quarterback is the same, and he’ll likely play more than he did last season, taking away even more from Henry’s production.

The recency bias on Derrick Henry’s rushing abilities is strong. It reminds me of when Jay Ajayi broke out, rushing for over 200 yards three times in 2016; then regressed in an extreme way in 2017, rushing for 20 less yards per game. I love watching Derrick Henry play, when else are we going to see a running back that is almost always the strongest player on the field? I just think that the NFL Media has hyped him up far too much, and he’s due for regression this year.

Harold Landry II, Edge Rusher – I decided to include Harold Landry in my players to watch only because I felt guilty after writing my thoughts about Derrick Henry. I’ve loved Landry since his sophomore year at Boston College, where he racked up 16 TFL and completely wrecked Florida State in primetime. He rushes the passer with a blend of power and finesse, showcasing a beautiful array of pass-rushing moves, and he has a great motor. He was a steal in the second round of the 2018 draft, and he played very efficiently in his limited reps as a rookie. Now he’s a starting edge rusher for Tennessee, and I’m really excited to see if he makes a leap in his second NFL season.

Positional Strengths: Offensive Line, Secondary

Positional Weaknesses: Wide Receiver

Projected Record: 8-8

Storylines to Watch

Marcus Mariota’s Fifth Season – This year, the former #2 overall pick is entering the fifth and final season of his rookie contract. Up to this point, his career has been painfully average in just about every way. He is 27-28 as a starter, his QBR has hovered around 55 in every season of his career, and he graded as the 18th best quarterback in the league last year, according to Pro Football Focus. It’s actually impressive that Mariota never seemed to slip into the lower tiers of NFL QBs, he’s had to deal with three different head coaches in his four years in the NFL. He’s never had an above-average supporting cast of skill-position players, and his offensive line has at times been objectively horrible. This is the most important year of Mariota’s young career, his level of play this year will likely decide his future with the Titans’ organization.

The Houston Texans’ General Manager (Or Lack Thereof) – After firing Brian Gaine, their incumbent general manager, this past June, the Texans were without a general manager heading into the 2019 season. Another interesting aspect to this situation is the fact that they fired their GM after the 2019 draft and the entirety of free agency. One would assume that a general manager is necessary for an NFL franchise, but Houston has decided to roll into the regular season using a GM-by-committee approach. So far, this has led to the Texans trading a fourth-round pick for a one-down running back. It’s rare for a team with the opportunity to contend for the AFC Championship to have such a lack of stability and leadership at the top of their front office.

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2019 is Jacoby Brissett’s Year

Jacoby Brissett has the opportunity of a lifetime. Will he capitalize on it?

Perhaps the most shocking news of the NFL’s past decade surfaced yesterday when former #1 overall pick and 2018 Comeback Player of the Year Andrew Luck retired at the age of 29. It left the entire NFL in shock, including media, fans, and the players themselves.

It is absolutely horrible to see injuries causing such a talented player to leave the game in his prime. However, Andrew Luck is an extremely smart, kind, and likable person, so I expect that he’ll find happiness in his post-NFL life. Now we need to switch gears.

Jacoby Brissett, the former Patriot and North Carolina State- Wolfpack? Wolf??, is the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. To quote Darren Rovell, “I feel bad for our country. But this is tremendous content.” I think this monstrosity of a quote (formerly referring to the election of Donald Trump) relates to Brissett’s upcoming season for a number of reasons. Primarily, Brissett will face an unprecedented amount of adversity for someone who has always just been a backup quarterback. Every single throw and decision he makes this year will be put under a microscope. He’ll be looked at through the lens of ‘What Would Andrew Luck have done?’. To add to this attention, it has been an unreasonably active offseason for Brissett, as his weird quasi-philosophical tweets and preseason hype articles have already put him into the national spotlight.

Just six days ago, Bob Kravitz of The Athletic wrote an extensive piece on the relationship between Colts’ Head Coach Frank Reich and Jacoby Brissett. Given the events of the past 24 hours, the timing of that article is strange and unbelievably good. I’m not into conspiracies, but isn’t it a little weird that less than a week before an NFL team’s indisputable franchise quarterback retired, a piece is written about his backup’s ability to be a starting quarterback? There are plenty of quotes from this article that reinforce the Colts organization’s confidence in Brissett.

“The Colts have said it innumerable times: They believe Brissett is a top-20 quarterback. In other words, a quarterback capable of starting and winning.” (Bob Kravitz, The Athletic)

““Any time anybody asks me (what qualities a starting quarterback needs), I always say the same thing: mental and physical toughness,”[Frank] Reich said. “And Jacoby is a 10 out of 10 there.””(The Athletic)

I feel like including some of Jacoby Brissett’s more notable stats would serve this piece well. In his 17 career games as a starting quarterback, his record is 5-12. Quarterback wins are a bad stat to measure quarterback efficiency, but in those starts, his defense gave up an average of 22 points per game, which would’ve been good for the NFL’s 14th ranked scoring defense last season. In his defense, though, (defense, nice one) he was sacked 52 times over 15 1/2 games in his 2017 season. He led the league in times sacked that year, although he ranked 6th in Time to Throw, according to NFL’s next-gen stats. Over his career, he has posted a subpar 59% completion percentage per Pro Football Reference.

There is one last fold to Brissett’s situation that raises the stakes even higher: He will be a free agent after this season. So, in review. Brissett is now for the first time ever, the bonafide starter for an NFL franchise. I almost forgot to mention, this franchise had Super Bowl hopes heading into this season, and everyone (especially their fans) was aware of this. So in this first year of being a 16-game starter, he’s playing for his second contract, the Super Bowl, and he’s playing to get out of Andrew Luck’s shadow. I have some confidence in Brissett, he has as good of a coach/GM combo as anyone in the league (except for Tom Brady), he has quality skill-position players in T.Y. Hilton, Marlon Mack, Eric Ebron, and Parris Campbell, and he has plenty of talent himself. The spotlight will be on Jacoby Brissett this year, and I cannot wait to see what he does with it.

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2019 NFL Season Preview, NFC South Edition

As a part of our preparation for the upcoming NFL season, Dylan White and I decided to dive deep into every team’s offseason, picking the most interesting players and storylines to follow this season. Accompanying these players and storylines are draft class summaries, teams’ strengths, weaknesses, and record predictions. Here is my 2019 NFC South Season Preview. NFC North is up next!

Carolina Panthers

2019 Draft Grade – B+, Brian Burns was the big addition of the Panthers 2019 draft class. He’s a quick, athletic edge rusher who will make an immediate difference for an already solid Carolina defense. Greg Little was a good value pick and gives the Panthers a talented backup incase of injuries. Will Grier was a good get in the 3rd round, but he is unlikely to see any meaningful playing-time barring an injury to Cam Newton.

Player to Watch – DJ Moore, WR: With Devin Funchess gone, DJ Moore is Cam Newton’s clear #1 target to throw to. Although Christian McCaffery is going to be a workhorse for Carolina, definitely expect a boost in DJ Moore’s targets. Fellow wideout Curtis Samuel could see similar increases as well.

Positional Strengths – Running Back, Defensive Tackle, Middle Linebacker

Positional Weaknesses – Defensive Back, Big-Bodied Wide Receiver

Projected Record – 9-7

atlanta falcons

2019 Draft Grade – C-, I was quite puzzled by the Falcons draft strategy. They ended up with 2 first-round picks (#14 and #31), taking offensive linemen, Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary. While both players are solid, I didn’t have either projected to land in the first round. This being said, the Falcons definitely improved their offensive line and have more flexibility to move them around.

Players to Watch – Devonta Freeman, RB: With Tevin Coleman now in San Francisco, Freeman is the clear #1 back in Atlanta. After an injury-plagued 2018, Freeman should have much higher success in the upcoming season as long as he can stay healthy.

Keanu Neal, SS: Neal missed all of 2018 after tearing his ACL in week 1, but he is primed for a great comeback. The leader of a sneaky-good defense, a healthy Neal is a necessity for the Falcons to make it far in the talented NFC South.

Positional Strengths – Safety, Wide Receiver

Positional Weaknesses – Tight End

Projected Record – 8-8

new orleans saints

2019 Draft Grade – C, Another team with a limited amount of picks, New Orleans only had one selection in the top 100 picks. They managed to pick up a decent center in Eric McCoy, and safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson could be a value pick in the 4th, but no one in this draft class offers elite upside for the Saints.

Player to Watch – Michael Thomas, WR: After signing a huge contract extension, Thomas is now the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. That puts a lot of pressure on Thomas to keep up his elite production, even with his future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, Drew Brees, entering his age 40 season. The only concern here would be Thomas drawing a lot of double coverage without other talented wideouts around him. Even so, expect another huge year for Thomas.

Positional Strengths – Offensive Tackle, Quarterback

Positional Weaknesses – Linebacker, Wide Receiver Depth

Projected Record – 8-8

tampa bay buccaneers

2019 Draft Grade – B, Replacing Kwon Alexander with Devin White is huge. The Bucs have relied on Alexander and Lavonte David to lead their defense, and White should fill Alexander’s role perfectly. The majority of their selections wound up on the defensive side of the ball, so no major improvements on offense should be expected.

Player to Watch – O.J. Howard, TE: It has become clear that O.J. Howard is one of the best young tight ends around. The unique athleticism makes Howard a deep threat risk unlike any other player at his position. 2019 should be Howard’s best season as he should have Jameis Winston as his QB for the entire season. Without much of a run game, Howard, along with Cameron Brate and Mike Evans, will all receive a large number of red-zone targets

Positional Strengths – Tight End

Positional Weaknesses – Running Back, Offensive Tackle, Cornerback, Safety

Projected Record – 6-10

Storylines

Best QB?: Currently, I would have to say the NFC South had the strongest group of starting quarterbacks. Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston have all been very good in past years. While all four are not equal in terms of status, they can all post great numbers on a weekly basis, and it will be a good contest to see who leads NFC South QB’s by the end of the season.

Elite RBs: Its clear Saquon Barkley is the best running back in the NFL, but with Ezekiel Elliot and Melvin Gordon both questionable to start the season, it is increasingly likely that Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffery are the 2nd and 3rd best RBs of 2019. With Mark Ingram gone Kamara could see even higher volume, and McCaffery is said to be looking even better than last year. Though Atlanta and Tampa Bay don’t have elite running backs, McCaffery and Kamara make this a division worth watching.

All division team

QB: Matt Ryan, ATL RB: Christian McCaffery, CAR

WR: Julio Jones, ATL WR: Michael Thomas, NO

TE: O.J. Howard, TB C: Alex Mack, ATL

OT: Jake Matthews, ATL OT: Ryan Ramczyk, NO

OG: Trai Turner, CAR OG: Ali Marpet, TB

DE: Cameron Jordan, NO DE: Brian Burns, CAR

DT: Grady Jarrett, ATL MLB: Luke Kuechly, CAR

LB: Lavonte David, TB LB: Deion Jones, ATL

CB: Marshon Lattimore, NO CB: Desmond Trufant, ATL

FS: Ricardo Allen, ATL SS: Keanu Neal, ATL

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2019 NFL Season Preview: AFC East Edition

Is this the year that the New England Patriots finally give up the division title? No, obviously.

As a part of our preparation for the upcoming NFL season, my fellow FTS Writer Adam Simkowitz and I decided to dive deep into every teams’ offseason, picking the most interesting players and storylines to follow this season. Accompanying these players and storylines are draft class summaries, teams’ strengths and weaknesses, and record predictions. We’ll release two AFC and NFC division previews per week, and we decided to kick it off with the eastern divisions.

Buffalo Bills

2019 Draft Grade: A- – In this past draft, the Bills were lucky enough to have Ed Oliver (DT/DE) fall to them at #9. I really like Cody Ford (OT), their second-round pick, who successfully protected Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray’s respective blindsides for the past two years. I could also see Dawson Knox (TE) becoming a productive starter in the league. Between Devin Singletary (RB), Vosean Joseph (LB), and Jaquan Johnson (S), there will be at least two future starters from that group. However, that may not be the case for this season. This was a fantastic draft from the rebuilding Bills. As of right now, Ed Oliver and Cody Ford are the two from this class that are slotted to start immediately.

Player to Watch: Josh Allen, Quarterback – Okay, look. I’m not saying Josh Allen is a good quarterback. I’ll be the first to criticize him when he overthrows Cole Beasley by 10 feet on an underneath route. However, he might be the most entertaining quarterback to watch; aside from Lamar Jackson. Allen is a surprisingly fast, high-flying QB with an insanely powerful arm. Watching him play quarterback is like watching Michael Vick in Brock Osweiler’s body. I think it’ll be an interesting year for Allen; we’ll see how his style of play changes once defenses figure out his game.

Positional Strengths: Defensive Line, Secondary

Positional Weaknesses: Quarterback, Running Back

Projected Record: 6-10

Miami Dolphins

2019 Draft Grade: C+ – The Dolphins didn’t have a ton of picks this year. With their two Top-100 picks, they elected to stay in the trenches with Christian Wilkins (DT) and Michael Deiter(LG). I appreciate the Dolphins draft strategy though; linemen are the first position that you want to draft when beginning a rebuild. Wilkins and Deiter will be week one starters, but outside of that, the only production that’ll be seen from this draft class is from Andrew Van Ginkel (LB), who’ll showcase his athleticism on special teams.

Player to Watch: Charles Harris, Edge Rusher – I’m going to keep it simple here. This is a make-it or break-it season for Charles Harris. That will come as a surprise to approximately zero Dolphins fans, as they’ve had to watch their former first-round edge rusher rack up THREE total sacks in his first two seasons as a pro. However, Harris has looked relatively dominant thus far in preseason action. This is the season to prove that he belongs in the NFL. His offensive-minded head coach Adam Gase is in New York now, and he was replaced by Brian Flores, who coached linebackers in New England. Now that he has a favorable coaching staff and plenty of opportunity for this rebuilding defense, he either needs to put up or shut up this season.

Positional Strengths: Cornerback

Positional Weaknesses: Pretty much every position except for cornerback.

Projected Record: 2-14

New York Jets

2019 Draft Grade: B+ – I have mixed feelings about the Jets’ 2019 draft class. I absolutely love Quinnen Williams (DT). I think he’ll be great right off the bat; he’s one of my favorite bets for defensive rookie of the year. Outside of Williams though, I kind of hate the rest of the New York draft class. Third round picks Jachai Polite (EDGE) has had a subpar preseason so far, and Chuma Edoga (OT) understandably won’t be an immediate starter for them. I think Quinnen Williams’ success will likely overshadow the rest of the class’s shortcomings.

Player to Watch: Jamal Adams, Safety – Jamal Adams is one of the two defensive players that I expect to leap into Superstar-Dom this season. This offseason has been an onslaught of praise and good reports for Adams, from offering to switch positions to staying hours after a preseason game just to sign autographs and take pictures. He was Pro Football Focus’s 2nd highest-graded safety last year, and this year I expect him to solidify himself as one of the league’s premier safeties.

Positional Strengths: Skill Positions

Positional Weaknesses: Offensive Line

Projected Record: 8-8

New England Patriots

2019 Draft Grade: A – Although I didn’t love the selection of N’Keal Harry (WR) with the 32nd pick in this past year’s draft, I still love the Patriots draft class. Their draft class was mostly about building depth on their lines, both defensive and offensive. They had a stronghold on picks in this draft too, so it’s likely that rookies will see more action than they did last year. Last year, the Patriots ranked in the bottom two of the NFL in terms of rookie playing time. This is due both to a season-ending injury to their first-round pick, Isaiah Wynn, and Bill Belichick’s general coaching philosophy of playing mid-level veterans over rookies. According to their current unofficial depth chart, none of the current rookies surpass the third string. I would bet that Harry, JoeJuan Williams (CB/S), Chase Winovich (EDGE), and Byron Cowart (DT) will all see playing time this season. I included Winovich and Cowart because of rave reviews from training camp, and dominant performances in the preseason.

Players to Watch: The Entire Offensive Line – Okay, this probably needs an explanation. Later in this preview, I’ll talk a little bit more in-depth about Tom Brady’s situation this year. And to be honest, there aren’t that many more big personalities or entertaining players on the Patriots. Wow, I wonder why they’ve won 5 championships since 2001… So I picked their offensive line. They have the unarguably best offensive line coach in the NFL, Dante Scarnecchia, and with the addition of Isaiah Wynn, this might be the most talented group New England has had since the late 2000s. They have a group of monsters up there, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Patriots continue the ground-and-pound approach that they switched to mid-season last year. I think it could be a big year for their running game, and they’ll do a great job of protecting their 42-year-old quarterback.

Positional Strengths: Offensive Line, Quarterback, Linebacker, Secondary

Positional Weaknesses: Tight End

Projected Record: 12-4

Storylines to Watch:

Tom Brady vs. Father Time (And the Patriots?): This will be one of the leading storylines of the AFC East’s season no matter what. Personally, I hate to bet against time, because time is undefeated. But here’s an interesting fact: Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time, and he won a Super Bowl at age 41. So I’m betting on Tom Brady. I think he’ll be as efficient as ever, even if that means not throwing the ball down the field as often. However, it’ll be very interesting to see what happens if Brady slows down this season. A few weeks ago, the Patriots restructured Brady’s contract, giving him a ton of money this year, but giving the Patriots the ability to cut him with minimal financial repercussions after this season. Essentially, if Brady doesn’t play to a certain level this season, there’s a chance he gets cut, then retires. I don’t think it’s likely, but anything can happen.

Second Year Quarterbacks: Here is a very likely scenario:It’s Week 5, and three 2018 top-ten picks are starting quarterbacks for 75% of the AFC East. Sam Darnold and Josh Allen are clearly starters for the Jets and Bills, respectively, but Josh Rosen has to win the Dolphins’ starting job from the ageless and seemingly magical Ryan Fitzpatrick. I cannot confirm this, but that will probably be the first time that three Top-Ten QBs’ from the same draft class are starting in the same division. Twitter will be all over this, and it’ll turn into a year-long comparison of these three guys. That is all I have to say about that. Oh, and my rankings of those QBs are: 1. Sam Darnold …………………………………………………2a. Josh Rosen, 2b. Josh Allen.

ALL-Division Team

QB – Tom Brady, NE

RB: Le’Veon Bell, NYJ RB: James White, NE

FB: James Devlin, NE

WR: Julian Edelman, NE WR: Robby Anderson, NYJ

TE: Chris Herndon, NYJ

OT: Laremy Tunsil, MIA OT: Marcus Cannon, NE

OG: Shaq Mason, NE OG: Joe Thuney, NE

C: David Andrews, NE

EDGE: Jerry Hughes, BUF EDGE: Leonard Williams, NYJ

DL: Ed Oliver, BUF DL: Quinnen Williams, NYJ

LB: C.J. Mosley, NYJ LB: Dont’a Hightower, NE

LB: Tremaine Edmunds, BUF LB: Kyle Van Noy, NE

CB: Stephon Gilmore, NE CB: Xaiven Howard, MIA

S: Jamal Adams, NYJ S: Devin McCourty, NE

DB: Micah Hyde, BUF DB: Tre’Davious White, BUF

K: Stephen Gostkowski, NE P: Matt Haack, MIA

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2019 NFL Season Preview, NFC East Edition

As a part of our preparation for the upcoming NFL season, Dylan White and I decided to dive deep into every team’s offseason, picking the most interesting players and storylines to follow this season. Accompanying these players and storylines are draft class summaries, teams’ strengths, weaknesses, and record predictions. We’ll release two AFC and NFC division previews per week, and we decided to kick it off with the eastern divisions.

Washington Redskins

2019 Draft Grade – C+, The grade of C+ might seem like a bit of a surprise, but outside of Dwayne Haskins and Montez Sweat, I don’t see any impact players in Washington’s 2019 draft class. Haskins should compete for the starting QB job, while Sweat should be a lock to start on a middle-of-the-road Redskins defense. Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon offer some decent depth to one of the worst receiving corps in all of football, but neither has an elite upside. The Redskins shouldn’t expect more than two or three impact players from this draft class.

Player to Watch – Derrius Guice, RB: After missing his entire rookie campaign, Guice could be a potential breakout player for Washington. The only issue with Guice is that Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, and Bryce Love make for a crowded backfield, so Guice will need to show he is ready for a full load before he starts to get high volume attempts.

Positional Strengths – Running Back Depth

Positional Weaknesses – Wide Reciever, Quarterback, Defensive Back Depth

Projected Record – 6-10

New York Giants

2019 Draft Grade – A, The only reason I’m don’t give the Giants an A+ is their pick of Daniel Jones. I’m personally a fan of Daniel Jones and think he has a great mentality for New York. The only thing I didn’t like about the pick was the spot he was chosen. Although the Giants may have reached just a bit for Jones at #5, they sure did make up for it with there later selections. Deandre Baker (1st), Julian Love (4th), and Corey Ballentine (6th) could wind up being New York’s starting three CBs by the end of the year. Dexter Lawrence II will also make an immediate impact on a Giants defensive line, as he shares many attributes with former Giant, Damon “Snacks” Harrison. Linebacker Oshane Ximenes was one of my favorite picks of the draft, and he could be a factor as well.

Players to Watch – Sterling Shepard, WR: With Odell Beckham gone and Golden Tate set to miss the first 4 games, Shepard is the clear-cut #1 WR for New York. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers he puts up, as he should be in line for a large volume role.

Jabrill Peppers, SS: One of the more exciting players from the 2017 draft class, Peppers made great strides in 2018 before being dealt to the Giants in the Odell Beckham trade. His freakish athleticism and versatility are going to make him a very important part of New York’s young defense.

Positional Strengths – Running Back, Quarterback Depth

Positional Weaknesses – Linebacker, Offensive Line Depth

Projected Record – 8-8

Dallas Cowboys

2019 Draft Grade – D, Without a 1st round pick, it can be quite difficult to make an impact on your roster. Surely enough, the Cowboys couldn’t seem to gather much talent due to their lack of a top pick. There’s not even one guy who is likely to make a big difference for the Cowboys this year, so there is not much to discuss here.

Players to Watch – Leighton Vander Esch, LB: After a stellar rookie season in 2018, all eyes will be on Vander Esch to see if he can repeat his dominance. Taking over Sean Lee’s role as the defensive cornerstone, Vander Esch is a critical component in Dallas’s playoff hopes.

Travis Frederick, C: Considering Frederick missed all of 2018 it will be interesting to see if he remains the same elite blocker he was earlier in his career. Having Frederick healthy is crucial to the success of the entire Cowboys offense.

Positional Strengths – Guard, Linebacker

Positional Weaknesses – Tight End, Wide Receiver Depth

Projected Record – 9-7

Philadelphia Eagles

2019 Draft GradeB-, With only 5 picks in the 2019 Draft, the Eagles still managed to find 3 impact offensive players within the top 60 picks. Andre Dillard, Miles Sanders, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside all provide valuable depth to an already capable Eagles offense.

Players to Watch – Dallas Goedert, TE: Zach Ertz is a star TE, but that doesn’t mean Goedert can’t succeed as well. With his stock on the rise, Goedert could be more of a factor to the Eagles than most would expect. Seeing the Eagles with two TE’s on the field for a majority of their plays would not be surprising.

Carson Wentz, QB: An injury cost Wentz the chance to take his team to the playoffs in 2018, and Nick Foles eventually led Philly to a Super Bowl victory. With Foles now in Jacksonville, the Eagles no longer have that safety net to fall back on. If the Eagles want to make it far in the playoffs it all depends on Wentz regaining his form and remaining an above-average QB in Philadelphia.

Positional Strengths – Tight End, Offensive Tackle, Defensive End

Positional Weaknesses – Bell-Cow Running Back

Projected Record – 10-6

Storylines

Dak Prescott/Ezekiel Elliot Contract Statuses: With Dallas’s two offensive leaders contracts making big news, the extensions of both Prescott and Elliott will be closely monitored as the NFL season approaches. Prescott’s desire for a 40 million dollar contract is a bit absurd, but something closer to 32 million could happen.

Eli Manning/Daniel Jones: Though Eli Manning is expected to be New York’s starting QB for 2019, Daniel Jones’s great start to the pre-season could make it a tough decision for giants staff. If Manning struggles early in the season, he may have a shorter leash if Jones continues to play well.

All-Divison Team

QB: Carson Wentz, PHI RB: Saquon Barkley, NYG

WR: Amari Cooper, DAL WR: Alshon Jeffrey, PHI

TE: Zack Ertz, PHI C: Travis Frederick, DAL

OT: Tyron Smith, DAL OT: Lane Johnson, PHI

OG: Zack Martin, DAL OG: Kevin Zeitler, NYG

DE: Demarcus Lawrence, DAL DE: Brandon Graham, PHI

DT: Fletcher Cox, PHI MLB: Jaylon Smith, DAL

LB: Leighton Vander Esch, DAL LB: Ryan Kerrigan, WAS

CB: Byron Jones, DAL CB: Deandre Baker, NYG

FS: Rodney Mcleod, PHI SS: Landon Collins, WAS

Featured

Roughing the Caster Ep. 3: Fantasy Football Preview

FTS Writers Dylan White and Adam Simkowitz return to the RTC Podcast to give their favorite fantasy football takes for this upcoming season.

In this episode, FTS Lead Writers Dylan White and Adam Simkowitz return from their summer break to talk about this season of fantasy football. They discuss sleepers like Josh Gordon (pictured), and some possible fantasy letdowns, like Colts TE Eric Ebron. Guest appearances include Max White, Mr. E, and more!

Roughing the Caster: Episode 3.
Featured

2019 Top 100 MLB Prospect Rankings 2.0 (Mid-Season)

Shane Baz, SP (TB). Baz is new addition to the top 100

About two months removed from my Early Season Rankings, the second installment of my MLB Prospect Rankings is here. This list consists of any player who qualifies as a “rookie” according to MLB’s rules (under 130 ABs/50 IP in MLB games). My list will be updated throughout the season to keep the rankings accurate.

The Top 100:

  1. Wander Franco, SS, TB
  2. Luis Robert, OF, CHW
  3. Jo Adell, OF, LAA
  4. Yordan Alvarez, OF, HOU
  5. Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL
  6. Casey Mize, SP, DET
  7. MacKenzie Gore, SP, SD
  8. Royce Lewis, SS, MIN
  9. Bo Bichette, SS, TOR
  10. Brendan Rodgers, SS, COR
  11. Brendan McKay, DH/SP, TB
  12. Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU
  13. Cristian Pache, OF, ATL
  14. Alex Kirilloff, OF, MIN
  15. Joey Bart, C, SF
  16. Jarred Kelenic, OF, SEA
  17. Jesus Luzardo, SP, OAK
  18. Michael Kopech, SP, CHW
  19. Forrest Whitley, SP, HOU
  20. Carter Kieboom, SS, WAS
  21. Gavin Lux, SS/2B, LAD
  22. Luis Urias, SS/2B, SD
  23. Matt Manning, SP, DET
  24. Alec Bohm, 3B, PHI
  25. Matthew Liberatore, SP, TB
  26. Dylan Cease, SP, CHW
  27. Sixto Sanchez, SP, MIA
  28. Taylor Trammell, OF, CIN
  29. Nick Madrigal, 2B, CHW
  30. Ian Anderson, SP, ATL
  31. Luis Patino, SP, SD
  32. Nolan Gorman, 3B, STL
  33. Jesus Sanchez, OF, TB
  34. Julio Rodriguez, OF, SEA
  35. Nate Pearson, SP, TOR
  36. Drew Waters, OF, ATL
  37. Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, BAL
  38. Keibert Ruiz, C, LAD
  39. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT
  40. Triston McKenzie, SP, CLE
  41. Shane Baz, SP, TB
  42. Hunter Greene, SP, CIN
  43. A.J. Puk, SP, OAK
  44. Hans Crouse, SP, TEX
  45. Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE
  46. Jonathan India, 3B, CIN
  47. Mitch Keller, SP, PIT
  48. Grayson Rodriguez, SP, BAL
  49. Sean Murphy, C, OAK
  50. Vidal Brujan, 2B, TB
  51. Jazz Chisholm, SS, ARI
  52. Marco Luciano, SS, SF
  53. Shane McClanahan, SP, TB
  54. Heliot Ramos, OF, SF
  55. Colton Welker, 3B, COL
  56. Corbin Martin, SP, HOU
  57. Estevan Florial, OF, NYY
  58. Brady Singer, SP, KC
  59. Jackson Kowar, SP, KC
  60. Logan Gilbert, SP, SEA
  61. Monte Harrison, OF, MIA
  62. Leody Taveras, OF, TEX
  63. Khalil Lee, OF, KC
  64. Calvin Mitchell, OF, PIT
  65. Jon Duplantier, SP, ARI
  66. Travis Swaggerty, OF, PIT
  67. Brusdar Graterol, SP, MIN
  68. Dustin May, SP, LAD
  69. Kyle Wright, SP, ATL
  70. Adrian Morejon, SP, SD
  71. Freudis Nova, SS, HOU
  72. Seth Beer, OF/1B, HOU
  73. Jeremiah Jackson, SS, LAA
  74. Victor Victor Mesa, OF, MIA
  75. Jeter Downs, SS/2B, LAD
  76. Bryce Turang, SS, MIL
  77. Jordyn Adams, OF, LAA
  78. Zac Gallen, SP, MIA
  79. Diego Cartaya, C, LAD
  80. Oneil Cruz, SS, PIT
  81. Brent Honeywell, SP, TB
  82. Jordan Yamamoto, SP, MIA
  83. DL Hall, SP, BAL
  84. Ronny Mauricio, SS, NYM
  85. Luis V. Garcia, SS, WAS
  86. Deivi Garcia, SP, NYY
  87. Edward Cabrera, SP, MIA
  88. Trevor Larnach, OF, MIN
  89. Evan White, 1B, SEA
  90. Ryan Weathers, SP, SD
  91. Mauricio Dubon, SS/2B, MIL
  92. Andres Gimenez, SS, NYM
  93. Adonis Medina, SP, PHI
  94. Ronaldo Hernandez, C, TB
  95. Xavier Edwards, SS, SD
  96. Nico Hoerner, SS, CHI
  97. Tyler Freeman, SS/2B, CLE
  98. Dane Dunning, SP, CHW
  99. Braxton Garrett, SP, MIA
  100. Anthony Seigler, C, NYY

Graduates

  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr, 3B, TOR (1)
  • Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, SD (2)
  • Eloy Jimenez, OF, CHW (3)
  • Nick Senzel, 3B, CIN (8)
  • Chris Paddack, SP, SD (9)
  • Peter Alonso, 1B, NYM (14)
  • Mike Soroka, SP, ATL (26)
  • Austin Riley, 3B, ATL (35)
  • Francisco Mejia, C, SD (41)
  • Griffin Canning, SP, LAA (48)
  • Touki Toussaint, SP, ATL (52)
  • Michael Chavis, 3B, BOS (56)

Risers

Marco Luciano, SS (SF). Luciano is a top prospect in the makings
  • Luis Robert, OF, CHW (13 to 2) – It is hard to argue that Luis Robert is having one of the best seasons in all of MiLB. Batting over .350 with double-digit home runs and stolen bases, Robert has been nothing but excellent. Earning a promotion to Double-A in his age 21 season, the only thing holding Robert back in his past seasons were injuries. Now with full health, Robert has proven worthy of his 26 million dollar signing bonus and continues to push to be the #1 prospect.
  • Jo Adell, OF, LAA (18 to 3) – Similar to Robert, had Adell been fully healthy for the first round of rankings, he would have slotted a few slots higher. Now healthy, Adell is having another great season, showing off his true 5-tool potential. Adell should be joining Mike Trout in Anaheim by 2020, making for an exciting duo for the Angels.
  • Marco Luciano, SS, SF (Unranked to 52) – Although the 2018 international class was full of talent including Victor Victor Mesa, Diego Cartaya, and Noelvi Marte, Luciano appears to be the best of the group. Making his much anticipated pro-debut this year, Luciano has been dominant, and a promotion to a full-season team is not far away. Luciano could prove to be the best prospect in the Giants system before the end of this season.
  • Yordan Alvarez, OF, HOU (28 to 4) – Alvarez has been the breakout prospect this year. After leading all of Triple-A in home-runs, Alvarez earned a promotion to Houston and leapfrogged both Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker to become the Astros best prospect. Currently a key piece of the first-place Astros roster, Alvarez is already making the Dodgers regret trading him back in 2016.

Fallers

  • Justus Sheffield, SP, SEA (66 to Unranked) – Getting demoted from Triple-A is never a good sign. After posting an ERA near 7.00, Sheffield was sent to Double-A Arkansas. Needless to say, 2019 has not been a good season for Sheffield. The only bright side was that Sheffield made his MLB debut, but that did not go as planned (allowed 6 baserunners in 3 IP).
  • Brent Honeywell, SP, TB (27 to 81) – After missing all of 2018, Honeywell was on track to return mid-2019. Unfortunately, another injury forced him to be shut down for the entire 2019 season. When Honeywell returns in 2020 he will be in his age 25 season after missing two full seasons. Although these injuries likely won’t hurt his floor, Honeywell lost two very valuable years of development and will see his stock drop until he can prove he is the same as pre-injury Honeywell.
  • Julio Pablo Martinez, OF, TEX (61 to Unranked) – Although he is not having a terrible season, JPM is not hitting as well as many expected, largely the reason for his fall in the rankings. His power numbers have been somewhat impressive considering his smaller frame, but he will need to get on base much more often to return somewhere in the range of his previous ranking at 61.
  • Corey Ray, OF, MIL (81 to Unranked) – Ray’s 2019 season has to be a large disappointment to Brewers fans. Ray was just starting to turn things around in 2018, but major regression occurred in 2019 as he has struggled to bat over .200. Ray still has time to grow but is becoming less and less likely that Ray lives up to his original hype

Overview: With 10 of the top 50 prospects graduating, it is evident that the list is not as strong as it was at the beginning of the year. Things could change when 2019 draftees make their debuts. There are six 2019 draftees on “The Next 20”, and are likely candidates to be on my Late-Season update. The amount of young international talent is extreme in this group, with guys as young as 17 making the Top 100. Tampa Bay leads all teams with 9 Top 100 prospects, but every team has at least one prospect in the Top 100.

The Next 20:

  • Noelvi Marte, SS, SEA
  • Luis Gil, SP, NYY
  • Blaze Alexander, SS, ARI
  • Kristian Robinson, OF, ARI
  • Alek Thomas, OF, ARI
  • Steele Walker, OF, CHW
  • Ethan Hankins, SP, CLE
  • Mike Siani, OF, CIN
  • Justin Dunn, SP, SEA
  • Daniel Lynch, SP, KC
  • Jhaiyln Ortiz, OF, PHI
  • Victor Mesa Jr, OF, MIA
  • Triston Casas, 1B, BOS
  • Bobby Dalbec, 3B, BOS
  • Adley Rutschman, C, BAL
  • Bobby Witt Jr., SS, KC
  • CJ Abrams, SS, SD
  • JJ Bleday, OF, MIA
  • Riley Greene, OF, DET
  • Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CHW
Featured

8 Creative Deals That Should Happen Before the 2019 MLB Trade Deadline

Almost halfway through the 2019 MLB season, most teams know at this point if they will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. Every year at the deadline there are multiple important deals made that affect both the current season and years to come. Here are some unique trade scenarios which are unlikely to happen, but are reasonable and would benefit both sides.

1.) Madison Bumgarner to the Yankees

The Deal:

NYY receives: Madison Bumgarner (SP)

SF receives: Chance Adams (SP), Frank German (SP) and Glenn Otto (SP)

Analysis: The odds of any team paying a large sum for an aging rental in Bumgarner is extremely unlikely, so a package of three middle-of-the-road starters would be adequate for the Giants. Chance Adams has shown flashes of greatness but has also struggled heavily at times. Both German and Otto are playing in A-Advanced, so they have time to develop into back-end starters.

The Yankees need for pitching has been brought around only due to injuries. A healthy Yankees rotation includes Luis Severino, Domingo German, Masahiro Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia, and James Paxton, with J.A. Happ, Jonathan Loaisiga, Jordan Montgomery, and Chance Adams as reserves. Currently, only four of these pitchers are fully healthy, so a trade may be necessary. With loads of depth on the major league roster, dealing a player such as Clint Frazier or Gio Urshella may not be out of the question.

2.) Trevor Bauer to the Rays

The Deal:

TB recieves: Trevor Bauer (SP)

CLE receives: Jesus Sanchez (OF), Nate Lowe (1B), Taylor Walls (SS), and Tommy Romero (SP)

Analysis: The Rays have been dominating using only three starters (two with Tyler Glasnow injured), so imagine what they could do with four lights-out pitchers. Landing Bauer and getting Glasnow back soon would vault the Rays into series competition with the Astros, Yankees and Dodgers as World Series favorites.

The package in this scenario leaves Tampa’s youthful MLB roster intact while giving the Indians much needed young talent. Jesus Sanchez fills a huge void in the Indians organization at outfield and should be ready to see MLB action as soon as 2020. With Brent Honeywell losing another season to injury, I can’t imagine he would be dealt anytime soon and as much as Cleveland would want pitchers in return, I’d expect Tampa to hold on to their young starters. Matthew Liberatore, Shane McClanahan, and Shane Baz have been outstanding at Class-A Bowling Green, and the Rays would be foolish to part with any of the trio. Brendan McKay is Tampa’s other elite arm, but his unique DH/SP combo is too valuable to give up.

3.) Bauer to the Padres

The Deal:

SD recieves: Trevor Bauer (SP)

CLE receives: Adrian Morejon (SP), Ryan Weathers (SP), Michel Baez (SP) and Cal Quantrill (SP)

Analysis: Trevor Bauer is likely the best available pitcher available at the deadline, and the Padres have what it takes to pry him away from Cleveland. In this scenario, the Indians would have to choose between the Rays package featuring three potential plus bats, and the Padres’ which offers four mid-rotation starters. Out of the four Padres prospects in the package, Weathers has the highest ceiling, and he is the only one I would project as a #2/#3 starter. Morejon, Baez and Quantrill I view as #3/#4 starters in an ideal situation. While this package may not blow Cleveland away, the Padres are in no rush to make a deal as the majority of their core is controlled for many years to come.

4.) Marcus Stroman to the Padres/Rays

The Deal:

SD/TB receive: Marcus Stroman (SP)

TOR receives: Ryan Weathers (SP), Logan Allen (SP), and Manuel Margot (OF) (from SD) or Jesus Sanchez (OF) and Nick Solak (2B) (from TB)

Analysis: If Trevor Bauer is dealt, it would likely be to either of these two teams, which would eliminate them as options for Stroman. Assuming one lands Bauer, the other should look at Stroman as a cheaper alternative who could wind up being acquired at a much better value.

Taking a look at the potential packages, the Rays would be keen to keep their young pitchers, so Sanchez is the top prospect on the move. Nick Solak has been a nice surprise as well, so Toronto would be getting two quality hitters in exchange for Stroman. The Padres offer is based around pitcher Ryan Weathers. He’s the name most teams would be after assuming Fernando Tatis Jr, Luis Urias, and MacKenzie Gore aren’t available. Luis Patino could be swapped out with Weathers, although San Diego may be more hesitant to let Patino go.

5.) Max Scherzer on the Move

The Deal:

WSH receives: Kyle Tucker (OF), Freudis Nova (SS), Abraham Toro (3B) and J.B Bukauskas (SP)

HOU receives: Max Scherzer (SP)

Analysis: With Houston’s lineup completely stacked, their pitching is the only part of their team that could use improvement. There is no better pitcher to acquire than Max Scherzer. With three years left on his contract, Scherzer would cost a boatload but would be worth it when he leads them to the World Series. They’d be adding Scherzer to a rotation that already features two stars in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, so the addition of Scherzer would likely give the Astros the best rotation in all of MLB.

After losing Bryce Harper to free agency in the offseason, the Nats have not been able to keep up there winning ways and are currently well under .500. Dealing Scherzer might be a big blow to Nationals fans, but it would signify a rebuild, that if done correctly, could have the Nats back in contention before 2022. Dealing Scherzer, as well as Anthony Rendon, would bring back five or six top of the line prospects who would replenish a weak farm system. In this deal, Washington gets four very talented players led by outfielder Kyle Tucker. Though Tucker struggled in his MLB debut, he has been excellent in Triple-A and would help as soon as this year. Nova, Toro and Buskauskas are at least two years away, but that’s not a problem if Washington does decide to rebuild.

6.) Phillies Land an Outfielder

The Deal:

PHI receives: Adam Jones (OF) and Greg Holland (CP)

ARI receives: Enyel de los Santos (SP), Simon Muzziotti (OF), Nick Maton (SS) and Edgar Garcia (SP)

Analysis: Having a 2nd baseman play center field is not ideal for a contending team, and that is what the Phillies are stuck with, as Scott Kingery has been forced into action in the outfield. With Andrew McCutchen lost for the season and Odubel Herrera in legal trouble, the Phillies would benefit from adding a 3rd outfielder. The Diamondbacks are a likely candidate to rebuild this offseason, and there’s no better time to start than at the trade deadline. Dealing rental veterans Jones and Holland will land lower-tier prospects than guys such as Zack Greinke or Ketel Marte, but it’s a start for a team in desperate need of talented prospects. The return for the Diamondbacks isn’t great, but it does offer a solid group of prospects who could become more relevant as their careers progress.

7.) Ketel Marte Blockbuster

The Deal:

LAA receives: Ketel Marte (OF)

ARI receives: Brandon Marsh (OF), Jordyn Adams (OF), Jeremiah Jackson (SS) and Kevin Maitan (3B)

Analysis: The Angels have a window of time to win, and that coincides with Mike Trout of course. Trout signed a massive contract last year and will be getting paid over 35 million dollars a year up until his age 38 season. As good as he is, it is improbable that Trout can perform at his usual standards into his late 30s. That gives the Angels 5-6 years to build a dynasty and contend for the World Series. Instead of waiting for their prospects to develop and wasting valuable time, the Angels could go for it all in 2019 and beyond.

Landing Marte would be huge for the Angels, adding a 3rd scary power bat (4th if you could Pujols) to their lineup. Add the surprise emergence of Tommy la Stella and you have 5 quality hitters at the top of the lineup. If they manage to hold on to Jo Adell, he could become another weapon in the outfield. With Trout and Marte both locked up 5+ years and Jo Adell, a young outfielder on the rise, the Angels should feel comfortable parting with both Jordyn Adams and Brandon Marsh.

From the Diamondbacks point of view, they are dealing their only “star” remaining, and although he is under contract through 2024, without dealing him Arizona would be lucky to field a solid team before 2022. Marsh is the only incoming player above Single-A, so the return package fits with the Diamondbacks’ timeline perfectly. Although this is the least likely deal to happen, it could benefit both teams in unforeseen ways.

8.) Angels go all In

The Deal:

LAA receives: Didi Gregorius (SS), Starling Marte (OF)

NYY receives: Chris Archer (SP), Jo Adell (OF)

PIT receives: Clint Frazier (OF), Estevan Florial (OF), Jamhai Jones (2B)

Analysis: The first thing to mention is that this whole trade is in a scenario in which the Angels acquire Ketel Marte (trade #7) and that the Yankees don’t add another pitcher (trade #1). This is the most complex of the 10 proposals, this deal has lots of moving parts, but it would benefit all the teams involved. In this rare three-team trade, the combination of prospects and MLB-caliber players would present a unique, one-of-a-kind deal.

For the Angels, acquiring Ketel Marte would be a great start to building a championship team, but they’d still be a couple of pieces away. Didi Gregorius is set to become a free agent after the 2019 season, but he could be a candidate for an extension with Los Angeles. Starling Marte has three years left on his contract, so he would be the Angels third outfielder with Mike Trout and Ketel Marte. Both Starling Marte and Ketel Marte are long term solutions with very reasonable salaries. The only real downside for the Angels is that their farm system would be completely depleted. If their organization is willing to pair these three All-Stars with Trout and Ohtani, that could put the Angels in the running for the top Wild Card this season, and potentially the division in 2020.

Clint Frazier has not worked out for the Yankees and it is becoming increasingly apparent that he will not be in New York much longer. Although Chris Archer has not been very good with the Pirates, he has proved to be excellent in the AL East in the past, so the Yankees could take a chance on him. Gregorius is a great ballplayer but could see limited playing-time with Giovani Urshella, Gleyber Torres, and DJ LeMahieu taking up three infield spots. An extension for Gregorius is even less likely as Miguel Andujar will be returning in 2020, making the Yankees infield extremely crowded. Jo Adell has shown much more potential than Estevan Florial, so the Yankees improve their farm system in this trade too. Adell could eventually make an impact in 2020 when Giancarlo Stanton replaces Edwin Encarnacion as the primary DH.

Acquiring Archer for the package of Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and Shane Baz might have seemed bad for Pittsburgh at the time, but now looks like an absolute catastrophe for the entire franchise. Archer has been extremely inefficient for the Pirates, posting an ERA well over 5.00 since being acquired. Meanwhile, Meadows and Glasnow have taken off for the Rays, both performing like All-Stars, helping the Rays be near the top of the stacked AL East. Shane Baz was a surprise addition to the trade as a PTBNL (player to be named later), and has been nothing but lights out in Single-A this year. Cutting ties with Archer might be tough given how much they gave up to land him, but sometimes it’s best to know when you messed up. Frazier, Florial, and Jones are three young players who could be the core of a Pirates rebuild.

Featured

NBA Offseason Preview: The End of an Era… and the Beginning of a New One?

As the Toronto Raptors closed out the 2019 NBA Finals, it was widely agreed upon that this has been the most entertaining Finals experience of the 21st Century. I’ve never seen an NBA Finals in which the unrelated subplots were as important (if not more important) than the actual basketball being played in late May and June.

While the Raptors clinched their first ever NBA Championship over the Golden State Warriors, the NBA Rumor Mill couldn’t have been more active. After a playoff run for the ages, speculation of Raptors star and upcoming free agent Kawhi Leonard’s future was at an all-time high, in both importance and ambiguity. The same could be said for Warriors stars and upcoming free agents Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson; until they both suffered catastrophic injuries. In news that was unrelated to the Finals, Kyrie Irving declined his player option for the 2019-2020 season with the Boston Celtics, fired his agent, then signed with a different agency. He signed with Roc Nation, whose President (Michael Yormark) is the twin brother of the Brooklyn Nets CEO (Brett Yormark).

Now, as the age of player empowerment hits its stride, what happens next?

Let’s start with a timeline.

June 20, 2019

  • NBA draft.

June 24, 2019

  • Last day for potential restricted free agents to exercise player options.
  • NBA awards are announced.

June 29, 2019

  • Last day for decisions on player, team and early termination options, unless individual contracts specify otherwise.

June 30, 2019

  • Last official day of the 2018/19 NBA league year.
  • Last day for teams to make qualifying offers to players eligible for restricted free agency.
  • Last day for players eligible for veteran extensions in 2018/19 to sign them.

July 1, 2019

  • Official start of the 2019/20 NBA league year.
  • July moratorium begins. The moratorium allows teams and players only to agree upon deals in principle, no pen-to-paper deals are allowed.
  • Free agents can begin reaching verbal agreements with teams.
  • Restricted free agents can sign an offer sheet.
  • Teams can begin signing players to rookie scale contracts, minimum salary contracts, and two-way contracts.

July 6, 2019

  • July moratorium ends (11:00am CT)
  • Teams can begin officially signing players, extending players, and completing trades.
  • The two-day period for matching an RFA offer sheet signed during the moratorium begins.

Who makes this offseason so important?

Here are some important names of this year’s offseason. These are the players that will in one way or another, change the landscape of the NBA’s next 5-7 years in this offseason. Included are their current team, their age at the beginning of next season, their stat line from this past season (PPG/RPG/APG/SPG/BPG, FG%/3FG%/FT%), their contract status, and my prediction for where they’ll land this offseason.

  • *Kevin Durant, GSW: 31, 26 PPG/6 RPG/6 APG/1 SPG/0.7 BPG, 52 FG%/35 3FG%/88.5 FT%, Unrestricted Free Agent. Prediction: New York Knicks
  • Kyrie Irving, BOS: 27, 24 PPG/5 RPG/7 APG/1.5 SPG/0.5 BPG, 49 FG%/40 3FG%/87 FT%, Unrestricted Free Agent. Prediction: Brooklyn Nets
  • **Klay Thompson, GSW, 29: 21.5 PPG/4 RPG/2 APG/1 SPG/0.6 BPG, 47 FG%/40 3FG%/82 FT%, Unrestricted Free Agent (Eligible for Super Max). Prediction: Golden State Warriors
  • Kawhi Leonard, TOR: 28, 26.6 PPG/7 RPG/3 APG/1.8 SPG/0.4 BPG, 50 FG%/37 3FG%/85 FT%, Unrestricted Free Agent. Prediction: Los Angeles Clippers or Toronto Raptors
  • Kemba Walker, CHA: 29, 25.6 PPG/4 RPG/6 APG/1.2 SPG/0.4 BPG, 43 FG%/36 3FG%/84 FT%, Unrestricted Free Agent (Eligible for Super Max). Prediction: Charlotte Hornets
  • Jimmy Butler, PHI: 30, 19 PPG/5 RPG/4 APG/1.9 SPG/0.6 BPG, 46 FG%/35 3FG%/85.5 FT%, Unrestricted Free Agent. Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers or Los Angeles Lakers
  • D’Angelo Russell, BKN: 23, 21 PPG/4 RPG/7 APG/1.2 SPG/0.2 BPG, 43 FG%/37 3FG%/78 FT%, Unrestricted Free Agent. Prediction: Utah Jazz or Indiana Pacers
  • Nikola Vucevic, ORL: 29, 20.8 PPG/12 RPG/4 APG/1 SPG/ 1 BPG, 52 FG%/36 3FG%/ 79 FT%, Unrestricted Free Agent. Prediction: Orlando Magic
  • Kristaps Porzingis, DAL: 24, 2017-18 Stats: 22.7 PPG/ 6.6 RPG/1 APG/ 0.8 SPG/ 2.4 BPG, 44 FG%/ 39.5 3FG%/ 79 FT%, Restricted Free Agent. Prediction: Dallas Mavericks

*Durant suffered a ruptured achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, sidelining him for the entire 2019-20 season, therefore diminishing his value as a free agent. **Thompson suffered a torn ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, likely keeping him out of the upcoming regular season.

The most important part of this list lies within the two Warriors mentioned. The injuries to Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant will keep both of them out for at least the 2019/2020 regular season. So even if Golden State somehow re-signs both of them, the Warriors won’t be nearly as strong as they’ve been. The Warriors have been a perennial powerhouse of the NBA. The collapse of a superpower seems like it should be accompanied by the passing of the proverbial powerhouse torch, but things haven’t ever worked that quickly in the NBA. After Russell’s Celtics fell, it took about a decade for Larry Bird and Magic to take over the league (Although Kareem just about completely dominated the 70’s). The transition from the 80s’ Celtics/Lakers era to the 90’s Jordan Bulls era was relatively smooth, but it was separated by a buffer called the Bad Boy Pistons. After Michael took six rings, it took a few years for the Kobe/Shaq Lakers to take hold of the league. What I’m trying to say is, don’t expect a new era of the NBA to be ushered in as quickly as the Warriors have fallen.

The Short-Term Future (1-2 Years)

If we’re looking at the next couple years of the league, we have to pay complete attention to Kawhi and Anthony Davis. If the Clippers sign Leonard, they automatically become a contender in the West. If Kawhi stays in Toronto, the West is left wide open. There will be a black hole where content used to spawn in the West naturally, and it could be filled by just about any teams or players. Here are some of the teams from the West that I think could make their case as perennial contenders next year:

  • Dallas Mavericks – It’s hard to think of a team that has a better long-term core than the Mavs. Luka Doncic just had one of the most impressive rookie seasons of the past 20 years, and he’ll only be 20 by the beginning of next year. Kristaps Porzingis has been almost forgotten about since he tore his ACL. He was a borderline All-NBA level player for the Knicks at 22 years old, but, understandably, he lost hype after his knee injury. It’s difficult for a 7’3″ man to rehab a knee injury and return to 100%. Dallas has a ton of cap space, they have over $50 Million free this offseason, but they’ll likely sign Porzingis to a deal worth over $30 Million annually. They still have enough salary cap room to sign a third all-star level player. There are rumors that they’ll offer Kemba Walker. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pursued someone like Khris Middleton, although Dallas hasn’t had a ton of recent success in the free agent market.
  • Los Angeles Lakers – This is an obvious one. Even though it’s premature to crown the Lakers as the favorites to win it all next year, they’ll dominate the NBA news cycle no matter how successful they are as a team. I think they could go one of two ways in free agency this year. They have somewhere from $23-27 million in cap space and five players on their active roster (Lebron, AD, Kuzma, Isaac Bonga, Mo Wagner). The first option is to target a ball-handling star and try to convince him to take a pay cut (i.e., Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, D’Angelo Russell, Jimmy Butler) then use the veteran minimum to fill out a lackluster bench. The second option is to try and sign a few solid role players to round out a balanced 7-8 man rotation. They could target guys who could take $6-9 million annually, like Patrick Beverly, Danny Green, Paul Milsap, Marcus Morris, or Seth Curry. I like the latter option, but I think it’s more likely that Rob Pelinka will go with the superstar route.
  • Los Angeles Clippers – Sticking with another Los Angeles team, I think this is pretty straight forward. If the Clippers sign Kawhi, they’re the favorites to win the 2020 NBA title. It’s as simple as that. It’ll be a battle in Staples Center for control of the West, and I think that could be the most entertaining storyline of this offseason.
  • Utah Jazz – This is less of a breakout candidate because they’ve already broken out as a contender. However, they’re rumored to be targeting D’Angelo Russell in free agency. I love his fit with Utah, although they already have a slightly inefficient, volume-shooting, ball-dominant guard in Donovan Mitchell. Replacing Rubio with Russell adds an entirely new dimension to their already-solid offense, and their defense will barely take a hit.

There’s a lack of Eastern Conference teams for several reasons. Mainly, everything is pretty much set out there. If Kawhi re-signs in Toronto, they’re defending their title with a good chance to repeat. If they don’t re-sign him, they go into a rebuild. The Bucks are mostly figured out for the next few years, as are the Sixers (Barring a surprise Ben Simmons trade.)

The Long-Term Future (5-7 Years)

  • Boston Celtics – It seems like Danny Ainge’s asset-stacking strategies never really resulted in any notable success, which is bad. I like the Celtics’ long-term roster, though, which is good. Jayson Tatum had a pretty bad sophomore slump this past year, but I think he just completely over-performed in his rookie year. The Celtics are going to be relevant no matter what, but I don’t see a championship window opening for them over the next four or five years. They’re eventually going to have to pay Jaylen Brown and Tatum, and I don’t see either of them ever being the best player on a championship team, and I only see Tatum has potentially being a great number two. It’s going to be tough to build around those two.
  • New Orleans Pelicans – The Pelicans currently have a dream team. More specifically, a dream team if you’re playing Franchise Mode in NBA 2K. They have the greatest abundance of young talent that the league has seen in the past 25 years, and it’ll be exciting to see what happens with it. I love the backcourt duo of Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball. They’re two young, extremely intelligent, unselfish, and very defensively savvy guards, and their team-first brand of basketball will be perfect for a budding superstar like Zion Williamson. They also have what seems like every single one of the Lakers’ first-round draft picks for the next four-five years, so if Zion, Lonzo, Jrue, and Brandon Ingram blossom into a cohesive, efficient core, it won’t be hard to surround them with more talent. I don’t love Brandon Ingram’s fit in New Orleans, a pure scorer may be all he amounts to in the NBA, and I don’t know how he’ll develop as a defender due to his thin frame. It’ll be interesting to see what the Pelicans do with their fourth pick. There are reports that they’re negotiating with Washington in a deal for Bradley Beal. Sending the fourth pick, Brandon Ingram, and a future first-rounder for Beal would make sense for both teams. It would free up cap room for Washington, give them two future assets to boost their rebuild, and a potential star in Ingram. For New Orleans, it would introduce a win-now culture while developing their young players, plus it wouldn’t damage their rebuild due to all of the picks they acquired from Los Angeles. I think the Pelicans will be a League Pass must-watch for the next decade.
  • Milwaukee Bucks – I had to include them on this list. Whichever team has Giannis for the next ten years will be a force to be reckoned with. I hope that they can continue building a roster with championship potential around Giannis before his contract expires. They’ve already done a better job of this than how Cleveland and New Orleans treated Lebron and AD on their rookie contracts, respectively.
  • Philadelphia 76ers – I don’t have a great feeling about the 76ers’ future, but what do I know? I think Joel Embiid is a little too fragile, and he already moves like he’s 40. I got some real Greg Oden vibes in the playoffs this year, but he was technically nursing a back injury (and gastrointestinal issues.) Okay, now I have to go out and say it: I don’t think Ben Simmons is a Top 25 player in the NBA, and I will continue to believe this until he either develops a jumper or decides to show up in the playoffs consistently. If I were a GM trying to win a championship, I wouldn’t feel comfortable having him as my second option. I hope he improves, though. I hope he proves me wrong, and I would like to see the Sixers win a title over the next 5-7 years. If things go right for them, they could win a couple.

NBA Award Predictions

Sixth Man of the Year: Lou Williams, SG, Los Angeles Clippers

Coach of the Year: Mike Malone, Denver Nuggets

Most Improved: Pascal Siakam, PF/SF, Toronto Raptors

Rookie of the Year: Luka Doncic, SF, Dallas Mavericks

Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks

Most Valuable Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks

How to Keep Track of Everything:

Keeping up with all of the happenings in the NBA’s offseason is tough. There’s smokescreens, welched deals, false reports, internet trolls, etc. If you need a way to stay connected to all of the news, I suggest following these twitter accounts. Rob Perez of the Action Network, @WorldWideWob, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, @WojESPN, Shams Charania of The Athletic, @ShamsCharania, and Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, @KevinOConnor . NBA Twitter is the best part of twitter, don’t forget that.

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2019 1st Round MLB Mock Draft 1.0

Adley Rutschman, catcher for Oregon State, projected #1 overall pick.

We are currently under two weeks away from the 2019 MLB Draft, which means it is time for my first 2019 MLB Mock Draft. This draft class is loaded with hitters, but lacks depth in both college and high school pitching. With pretty much a consensus top six picks, the rest of the first round will have many unexpected picks as well as many late round steals. Here are my predictions for the 2019 MLB Draft.

  1. Baltimore Orioles – Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
  2. Kansas City Royals – Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville Heritage HS (Texas)
  3. Chicago White Sox – Andrew Vaughn, 1B, California
  4. Miami Marlins – CJ Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (Georgia)
  5. Detroit Tigers – Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS (Florida)
  6. San Diego Padres – JJ Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt
  7. Cincinatti Reds – Nick Lodolo, SP, TCU
  8. Texas Rangers – Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State
  9. Atlanta Braves* – Bryson Stott, SS, UNLV
  10. San Francisco Giants – Jackson Rutledge, SP, San Jacinto JC (Texas)
  11. Toronto Blue Jays – Matthew Allen, SP, Seminole HS (Florida)
  12. New York Mets – Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor
  13. Minnesota Twins – Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside HS (Washington)
  14. Philadelphia Phillies – Alek Manoah, SP (West Virginia)
  15. Los Angeles Angels – Zack Thompson, SP, Kentucky
  16. Arizona Diamondbacks – George Kirby, SP, Elon
  17. Washington Nationals – Gunnar Henderson, SS, Morgan Academy (Alabama)
  18. Pittsburgh Pirates – Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech
  19. St. Louis Cardinals – Logan Davidson, SS, Clemson
  20. Seattle Mariners – Brett Baty, 3B, Lake Travis HS (Texas)
  21. Atlanta Braves – Quinn Priester, SP, Cary-Grove HS (Illinois)
  22. Tampa Bay Rays – Hunter Barco, SP, The Bolles School (Florida)
  23. Colorado Rockies – Keoni Cavaco, 3B, Eastlake HS (California)
  24. Cleveland Indians – Brennen Malone, SP, IMG Academy (Florida)
  25. Los Angeles Dodgers – Kameron Misner, OF, Missouri
  26. Arizona Diamondbacks* – Daniel Espino, SP, Georgia Premier Academy (Georgia)
  27. Chicago Cubs – Michael Busch, 1B/OF, UNC Chapel Hill
  28. Milwaukee Brewers – Will Wilson, SS, NC State
  29. Oakland Athletics – JJ Goss, SP, Cypress Ranch HS (Texas)
  30. New York Yankees – Jack Leiter, SP, Delbarton HS (New Jersey)
  31. Los Angeles Dodgers* – Kody Hoese, 3B, Tulane
  32. Houston Astros – Seth Johnson, SP, Campbell
  33. Arizona Diamondbacks* – Tyler Callihan, 3B, Providence HS (Florida)
  34. Arizona Diamondbacks* – Maurice Hampton, OF, Memphis University HS (Tennessee)
  35. Miami Marlins** – Rece Hinds, 3B, IMG Academy (Florida)
  36. Tampa Bay Rays** – Matthew Lugo, SS, Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy (Puerto Rico)
  37. Pittsburgh Pirates** – Josh Wolf, SP, St. Thomas HS (Texas)
  38. New York Yankees** – Sammy Siani, OF, Penn Charter HS (Pennsylvania)
  39. Minnesota Twins** – Greg Jones, OF, UNC Wilmington
  40. Tampa Bay Rays** – Glennallen Hill Jr., OF, Santa Cruz HS (California)
  41. Texas Rangers** – Logan Wyatt, 1B, Louisville

* – Compensation pick for unsigned 2018 draftee

** – Competitive balance pick

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2019 Post-Lottery NBA 1st Round Mock Draft 1.0

With the much debated NBA Draft Lottery recently completed, we now know where every team will select, making it possible to do a full 1st round mock draft. While the top few picks might seem like locks, the rest of the Draft could go in many different directions. Here are my projections for the 1st round of the 2019 NBA Draft.

  1. New Orleans Pelicans – Zion Williamson, F, Duke
  2. Memphis Grizzlies – Ja Morant, G, Murray State
  3. New York Knicks – R.J. Barrett, F, Duke
  4. Los Angeles Lakers – De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers – Jarrett Culver, F, Texas Tech
  6. Phoenix Suns – Cam Reddish, G/F, Duke
  7. Chicago Bulls – Darius Garland, G, Vanderbilt
  8. Atlanta Hawks – Coby White, G, UNC
  9. Washington Wizards – Jaxon Hayes, C, Texas
  10. Atlanta Hawks – Sekou Doumbouya, F, International
  11. Minnesota Timberwolves – Romeo Langford, G/F, Indiana
  12. Charlotte Hornets – Bol Bol, C, Oregon
  13. Miami Heat – Kevin Porter Jr., G, USC
  14. Boston Celtics – Nassir Little, F, UNC
  15. Detroit Pistons – Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga
  16. Orlando Magic – P.J. Washington, F, Kentucky
  17. Brooklyn Nets – Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga
  18. Indiana Pacers – Cameron Johnson, F, UNC
  19. San Antonio Spurs – Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech
  20. Boston Celtics – Keldon Johnson, G, Kentucky
  21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Talen Horton-Tucker, F, Iowa State
  22. Boston Celtics – Grant Williams, F, Tennessee
  23. Utah Jazz – Tyler Herro, G, Kentucky
  24. Philadelphia 76ers – K.Z. Okpala, F, Stanford
  25. Portland Trailblazers – Daniel Gafford, F, Arkansas
  26. Cleveland Cavaliers – Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue
  27. Brooklyn Nets – Ty Jerome, G, Virginia
  28. Golden State Warriors – Admiral Schofield, G/F, Tennessee
  29. San Antonio Spurs – Goga Bitadze, C, International
  30. Milwaukee Bucks – Naz Reid, C, Louisiana State
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Ranking MLB’s Best Minor League Farm Systems, Early-2019 (1-10)

These are my 2019 Early Season Rankings for MLB’s top farm systems. In this article, we will be looking at the systems ranked 1-10. Numbers 11-20 and 21-30 were released earlier in May.

10.) Los Angeles Angles

  1. Jo Adell, OF (18)
  2. Griffin Canning, SP (48)
  3. Jeremiah Jackson, SS (98)
  4. Jordyn Adams, OF (100)
  5. D’Shawn Knowles, OF
  6. Brandon Marsh, OF
  7. Jose Suarez, SP
  8. Kevin Maitan, OF
  9. Jahmai Jones, 2B
  10. Jose Soriano, SP

LAA Overview: In their past few drafts, the Angels have been targeting athletic prep players with their early picks. Jo Adell, Jeremiah Jackson, Jordyn Adams, Brandon Marsh, and Jahmai Jones were all selected within the first two rounds of recent drafts, and all five of them show 5-tool abilities, exactly what the Angels were hoping for. Getting Kevin Maitan must have been a pleasant surprise for LA, as they were able to land him thanks to international scandals involving the Atlanta Braves. Though his numbers aren’t the best, he is still very young and was compared to some of the greats before his struggles. Griffin Canning has done okay in his first few MLB starts and the hope is that he’ll stick in the weak Angels rotation for years to come. With Adell, Adams, Knowles, Marsh, and Maitan all being quality outfield prospects, the hope is at least two will live up to their potential, giving the Angels two outfielders to surround Mike Trout.

9.) Texas Rangers

  1. Hans Crouse, SP (60)
  2. Julio Pablo Martinez, OF (61)
  3. Leody Taveras, OF (93)
  4. Anderson Tejeda, 2B (94)
  5. Bubba Thompson, OF
  6. Cole Winn, SP
  7. Cole Ragans, SP
  8. Osleivis Basabe, SS/2B
  9. Jonathan Ornelas, UTIL
  10. Christopher Siese, SS

TEX Overview: The top five prospects of the Rangers are very underrated in my opinion. Hans Crouse has been dynamic for Class-A Hickory, and word is that he will be moved up a level within a week. With his promotion, 2018 1st rounder Cole Winn will fill his spot in Hickory, where he will make his first ever professional stats. Bubba Thompson, JP Martinez, and Leody Taveras make up a stacked Down East (A-Advanced) outfield. While Martinez is ranked higher, that is mostly due to his three year age difference with Thompson and Taveras. Martinez should move up the ranks quicker, but Taveras and Thompson have better long term potential in my opinion, as both possess the size Martinez does not. Tejeda is a great middle infielder and his bat isn’t too shabby either. His power/speed combo could fit well at the top the Rangers order come 2021/2022. Both Chris Siese and Owen White will miss all of 2019 due to injury, but both recent draftees could climb in the rankings when they return.

8.) Detroit Tigers

  1. Casey Mize, SP (19)
  2. Matt Manning, SP (34)
  3. Alex Faedo, SP
  4. Beau Burrows, SP
  5. Franklin Perez, SP
  6. Christin Stewart, OF
  7. Dawel Lugo, INF
  8. Parker Meadows, OF
  9. Willie Castro, SS
  10. Jose Azocar, OF

DET Overview: By far the most pitcher heavy farm system, all of the Tigers top five prospects are starters. Casey Mize was absolutely unhittable in his four starts in A-Advanced and has been just as good since his promotion to Double-A. Not only is he holding opposing hitters to a batting average in the low .100s., but Mize has also only given up three walks in 45 innings this year. His excellent command will put him on the fast-track to the majors and I’d expect to see him in Detroit around this time next year. Former 9th overall pick Matt Manning has been stellar as well, posting a sub-2.50 ERA through his first seven starts of the season. Add in two more former 1st round picks, Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows, along with high-ceiling prospect Franklin Perez, and the Tigers have 5 of the best starting pitcher prospects in all of baseball. Using these five guys, Detroit could field an entire rotation of quality starters with just their prospects. Outside of their pitchers, Christian Stewart, Dawel Lugo, and Daz Cameron are all MLB ready prospects primed to make an impact in 2019.

7.) Toronto Blue Jays

  1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B (1)
  2. Bo Bichette, SS (6)
  3. Nate Pearson, SP (71)
  4. Cavan Biggio, 2B (89)
  5. Jordan Groshans, SS/3B (90)
  6. Eric Pardinho, SP
  7. Orelvis Martinez, SS
  8. Adam Kloffenstein, SP
  9. Kevin Smith, SS/3B
  10. Anthony Alford, OF

TOR Overview: Having the best, most hyped prospect of the decade would automatically vault any farm system to the upper tier of the rankings, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is not the only talented prospect in the Blue Jays organization. Shortstop Bo Bichette does not have nearly as much power as Guerrero but could be just as good of a hitter while surpassing him in areas such as base-running and defense. Nate Pearson has been just as dominant as Casey Mize of the Detroit Tigers this season. Like Mize, Pearson started the season in A-Advanced but received a well-deserved promotion to Double-A. The third Blue Jays’ prospect with strong baseball bloodlines, Cavan Biggio, has been outstanding this season at Triple-A Buffalo. At 24 years old, Biggio might be the next high profile call-up for Toronto.

6.) Minnesota Twins

Nick Gordon, SS (MIN)
  1. Royce Lewis, SS (4)
  2. Alex Kirilloff, OF (11)
  3. Brusdar Graterol, SP (77)
  4. Wander Javier, SS (96)
  5. Nick Gordon, SS/2B
  6. Griffin Jax, SP
  7. Ryan Jeffers, C
  8. Brent Rooker, OF
  9. Trevor Larnach, OF
  10. Luis Arraez, 2B/OF

MIN Overview: 2017 1st overall pick Royce Lewis has the most potential out of the bunch, but Alex Kirilloff might be the safer player as of now. Either way, both of these guys are above average in nearly every aspect of the game and they should both have a place on the Twins’ roster come 2021. Starter Griffin Jax has been a pleasant surprise this season. After having issues with his military status holding him out of much of his career, Jax was allowed to continue baseball full-time thanks to new rules this season. It seems like he has not lost a step, and he has been superb through his first seven starts in Double-A. 77th overall prospect Brusdar Graterol has also been lights-out in Double-A, posting number even better than those of Jax. One of the most advanced Twins prospects is Nick Gordon (brother of Dee Gordon). While Nick does not have the same top-line speed as his brother, Nick shows more power and he has a great all around feel for the game. Wander Javier is a bit of a wild card after missing all of 2018 and the first chunk of 2019 due to injuries, but if he comes back strong, Javier has the abilities to compete to be the Twins future shortstop.

5.) Houston Astros

  1. Forrest Whitley, SP (10)
  2. Yordan Alvarez, OF (28)
  3. Kyle Tucker, OF (37)
  4. Corbin Martin, SP (57)
  5. Freudis Nova, SS
  6. Seth Beer, OF
  7. Bryan Abreu, SP
  8. Peter Soloman, SP
  9. J.B. Bukauskas, SP
  10. Ronnie Dawson, OF

HOU Overview: All four of Houston’s top 4 prospects are currently either in Triple-A or at the MLB level. This is a great sign for Houston, as they should have quality players able to join their roster when needed. Forrest Whitley has had a rough stretch the past two years including a long suspension in 2018 and struggles in 2019. He is still one of the best pitching prospects and could join fellow top prospect, Corbin Martin, in Houston soon. Kyle Tucker did not perform well during his time in Houston last season and has been as good as hoped for in 2019. Like Whitley, these struggles are likely a fluke as he is too talented to put up weak numbers for an extended period of time. Quite the opposite of Tucker, Yordan Alvarez has been absolutely outstanding in 2019. In his first 130 ABs, Alvarez has already hit 15 HRs and hit over .400. After this amazing start to 2019, Alvarez leapfrogged Tucker as the Astros’ best outfield prospect. Freudis Nova has yet to make his debut with a full-season club, but he excelled during his two seasons in the DSL and GCL, making 2019 an exciting year for the 19 year-old shortstop. 2018 first rounder, Seth Beer, possesses tantalizing power and has been flying through Houston’s system. Beer could reach Triple-A in his 2nd professional season, and a September call-up is not out of the question.

4.) Atlanta Braves

  1. Cristian Pache, OF (21)
  2. Mike Soroka, SP (26)
  3. Austin Riley, 3B (35)
  4. Ian Anderson, SP (40)
  5. Kyle Wright, SP (50)
  6. Touki Toussaint, SP (52)
  7. Drew Waters, OF (62)
  8. Williams Contreras, C
  9. Kyle Muller, SP
  10. Joey Wentz, SP

ATL Overview: The top four farm systems are in a tier of their own in my opinion. Each of these four teams has at least ten high-quality prospects that make up well-rounded systems with talent at almost every position. In the Braves system Cristian Pache has been a name on the rise. Drawing exciting comparisons to Ronald Acuna Jr., Pache fits the same mold as the former Rookie of the Year, but these comparisons might be coming a bit too early. Even if Pache isn’t quite as talented as Acuna, his all-around talent is hard to ignore. Switch-hitting outfielder prospect, Drew Waters, has 5-tool abilities as well, and an outfield of Waters, Pache, and Acuna could be a possibility come 2020/2021. Austin Riley had been tearing it up in Triple-A before his promotion in mid-May. In the race for most HRs in all of minor league baseball, Riley should be able to continue his home run barrage in Atlanta. The best aspect of the Braves farm system is its wealth in young starting pitching. Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint, Luiz Gohara, Kolby Allard, and Bryse Wilson all are guys who have had a taste of the majors, albeit with varying results. Ian Anderson, Kyle Muller, and Joey Wentz are also a big part of the Braves future, with the only question being which of these prospects will make the rotation. With well over ten candidates for the rotation, some of these pitchers could be moved to the bullpen or used as trade chips.

Wander Franco, SS (TB)

3.) Tampa Bay Rays:

  1. Wander Franco, SS (5)
  2. Brendan McKay, SP/DH (20)
  3. Brent Honeywell, SP (27)
  4. Jesus Sanchez, OF (30)
  5. Matthew Liberatore, SP (32)
  6. Vidal Brujan, 2B (78)
  7. Ronaldo Hernandez, C (87)
  8. Shane McClanahan, SP
  9. Lucius Fox, SS
  10. Shane Baz, SP

TB Overview: The Rays’ system is one of my personal favorite in terms of individual talent and the Rays’ group of pitching prospects might be my favorite out there. Brendan McKay is the most interesting guy on this list as he is one of the only two-way players around. Having been much better as a pitcher than a hitter, McKay is in his third season of playing both ways. Brent Honeywell should be beginning his rehab assignment pretty soon and might make the Rays’ rotation later in the summer. 2018 first rounders Matthew Liberatore and Shane McClanahan are currently in Class-A and both did excellent in their Rookie League debuts in 2018. I fully expect both to excel as they climb the ladder to the MLB. I was very surprised to hear Shane Baz was the PTBNL (player to be named later) in the Chris Archer trade with the Pirates. Austin Meadow and Tyler Glasnow were already quite a bundle, so adding the 19 year-old first round pick really made the deal lopsided for Tampa. Wander Samuel Franco may very well be the #1 overall prospect in my Late-2019 rankings, and it appears as if this would be very well deserved. Franco’s superb play these past couple years have vaulted him in the top ten of almost all prospect lists. Infielders Vidal Brujan and Lucius Fox possess similar skill sets to each other. Both are speedy middle infielders who can hit from both sides of the plate. Tampa also has a good bit of talent outside their top ten with guys like Nick Solak, Taylor Walls and the Lowe brothers (Nate and Josh). Jose de Leon is about to return from Tommy John surgery and could be an intriguing option for the Rays rotation.

2.) Chicago White Sox:

Luis Robert, OF (CHW)
  1. Eloy Jimenez, OF (3)
  2. Luis Robert, OF (13)
  3. Michael Kopech, SP (15)
  4. Dylan Cease, SP (24)
  5. Nick Madrigal, 2B (31)
  6. Dane Dunning, SP (84)
  7. Micker Adolfo, OF
  8. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF
  9. Steele Walker, OF
  10. Alec Hansen, SP/RP

CHW Overview: The White Sox are at the final stages of a massive rebuild, and their wealth of prospects is what will make them contenders once again. After signing a six-year deal with the White Sox, Eloy Jimenez made his much-hyped MLB debut. Michael Kopech also has made his MLB debut (2018), but succumbed to Tommy John surgery, keeping him out all of 2019. Dane Dunning and Micker Adolfo also will be missing all of 2019 with arm injuries which required surgery too. Although the injuries have been bad for the White Sox prospects, there is still a lot to like in the system. Luis Robert has been on a tear in 2019 and earned a promotion to Double-A early this season. Steele Walker also was promoted and took Robert’s spot in Winston-Salem (A-Advanced). Outfielders are plentiful in the White Sox organization with Jimenez, Robert, Adolfo and Walker being joined by Luis Basabe, Blake Rutherford, Luis Gonzalez and Joel Booker as possibilities for Chicago’s future lineup. The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A) boast one of the best catching tandems in all of minor league baseball. Both Zack Collins and Seby Zavala narrowly missed the White Sox top ten list and would have made the top ten on almost any other team. With all the talent in Chicago’s system, it is hard to argue against what the White Sox have been building for their future.

1.) San Diego Padres:

  1. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS (2)
  2. Chris Paddack, SP (9)
  3. MacKenzie Gore, SP (23)
  4. Francisco Mejia, C (41)
  5. Luis Urias, SS/2B (42)
  6. Ryan Weathers, SP (63)
  7. Luis Patino, SP (76)
  8. Adrian Morejon, SP (97)
  9. Michel Baez, SP
  10. Luis Campusano, C

SD Overview: The number one farm system rightfully has the most prospects on my top 100 list. Fernando Tatis Jr. made his debut around the same time as Chicago’s Eloy Jimenez and experienced the same amount of hype. Tatis made a great impression in San Diego before suffering an injury in his 27th game. He should be returning soon and will be welcomed back enthusiastically. Chris Paddack is another guy who has been killing it in his first MLB games. Already in the conversation for Rookie of the Year and even the Cy Young, Paddack has been nothing short of excellent. The most surprising thing about Paddack and Tatis is that neither were rated very highly before being traded to San Diego, therefore the Padres got both at bargain prices. Both the White Sox (Tatis Jr.) and the Marlins (Paddack) already must regret dealing these youngsters, and the regret will only increase as Tatis and Paddack continue to dominate. MacKenzie Gore is the best left-handed starter of the Padres, but he is not alone in that field. Ryan Weathers, Adrian Morejon, and Logan Allen are all quality lefties as well, showing the depth of the Padres pitching prospects. Luis Urias struggled in his time with the Padres, but has been performing very well after being optioned back to Triple-A and should be recalled within a few weeks. Having guys like Josh Naylor, Cal Quantrill, and Xavier Edwards being left off the Padres’ top ten list shows how deep this system truly is.

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Ranking MLB’s Best Minor League Farm Systems, Early-2019 (11-20)

These are my 2019 Early Season Rankings for MLB’s top farm systems. In this article, we will be looking at the systems ranked 11-20. Numbers 11-20 were released earlier this week and 1-10 will be released later in May.

20.) Oakland Athletics

  1. Jesus Luzardo, SP (16)
  2. A.J. Puk, SP (65)
  3. Sean Murphy, C (67)
  4. Jorge Mateo, SS
  5. James Kaprielian
  6. Lazaro Armentaros, OF
  7. Austin Beck, OF
  8. Sheldon Neuse, 3B
  9. Skye Bolt, OF
  10. Grant Holmes, SP

OAK Overview: There is not much excitement in Oakland’s system except for Jesus Luzardo. The 21 year-old southpaw is in the running with San Diego’s MacKenzie Gore for the best young left-handed starter. Though he has missed a good chunk of the 2019 season, Luzardo has a chance to debut with the Athletics late-summer. AJ Puk missed well over a year with TJ surgery, but could also make Oakland’s rotation along with Luzardo. Adding both these young lefties would greatly improve a weak A’s rotation. One of the good things about Oakland’s farm system is that most of the talent is at (or nearing) Triple-A. Assuming Puk and Luzardo both return to Triple-A, six out of their top nine prospects would be at that level in 2019. Injuries have been a huge problem for the A’s pitching prospects as Luzardo, Puk, Kaprielian, and Holmes have all missed significant time in 2019. The hope is when all four of these guys are healthy that at least two or three turn out to be mid-rotation starters.

19.) Arizona Diamondbacks

  1. Jazz Chisholm, SS (45)
  2. Jon Duplantier, SP/RP (55)
  3. Dalton Varsho, C
  4. Alek Thomas, OF
  5. Blaze Alexander, SS
  6. Yoan Lopez, RP
  7. Kristan Robinson, OF
  8. Matt Tabor, SP
  9. Pavin Smith, 1B
  10. Geraldo Perdomo, SS

ARI Overview: Aside from Jazz Chisholm and Jon Duplantier who were already part of my Early-Season top 100 rankings, Arizona has a few young guys who I expect to skyrocket up the standings. The 19 year old Alek Thomas is the first candidate. The left-handed outfielder is not necessarily a power hitter, but he does have 15-20 HR ability and will only get stronger as he matures physically. The next guy, Blaze Alexander, another 19 year-old, might be the future shortstop of the Diamondbacks (competing with Chisholm). He profiles similarly to Thomas, as both are around the same size and should progress through Arizona’s system with similar timeframes. Outfielder Kristian Robinson will be only 18 for the 2019 season and may be one of the breakout prospects of the year. He has raw power similar to fellow Bahamian, Jazz Chisholm, yet he is a superior all-around player and is 3 years younger. These guys, coupled with Andy Yerzy/Dalton Varsho, two promising catcher prospects, are the main reason for the D-Backs being in the top 20. Outside these few guys there is not a whole bunch of top-end talent.

18.) Seattle Mariners

  1. Jarred Kelenic, OF (44)
  2. Justus Sheffield, SP (66)
  3. Julio Rodriguez, OF (83)
  4. Justin Dunn, SP
  5. Logan Gilbert, SP
  6. Evan White, 1B
  7. Noelvi Marte, SS
  8. Shed Long, 2B
  9. Kyle Lewis, OF
  10. Dom Thompson-Williams, OF

SEA Overview: Through many different trades, the Mariners drastically improved their wealth of prospects. Their top two prospects, Kelenic and Sheffield, were both acquired via recent trades and five of their top ten were as well. Julio Rodriguez is one of my favorite prospects in all of baseball and he is only 18 years old. Rodriguez is one of the most exciting outfield prospects and I believe he will be nearing my top 20 by the time I release my Late-Season top 100 rankings. Had he had more at-bats in professional games, he would have been much higher than 83. With a very well rounded system in terms of positional needs, the Mariners have one of the deeper systems in this grouping. As young players like Rodriguez, Marte, Kelenic and Gilbert develop, expect to see the Mariners rise in the Farm System Rankings.

17.) Baltimore Orioles

  1. Ryan Mountcastle, 3B (39)
  2. Grayson Rodriguez, SP (59)
  3. DL Hall, SP (82)
  4. Austin Hays, OF
  5. Zac Lowther, SP
  6. Yusniel Diaz, OF
  7. Blane Knight, SP
  8. Adam Hall, SS
  9. Jean Carlos Encarnación, 3B
  10. Keegan Akin, SP

BAL Overview: The Orioles have a solid farm system, but the biggest issue is that Baltimore’s system has not improved as much as would be expected for a rebuilding team. With one of the worst rosters in all of MLB, it is hard to gain good prospects via trades, so players must be acquired through the Draft or via international signing periods. Both Ryan Mouncastle and Austin Hays are chomping at the bit to join the Orioles in Baltimore sometime soon. Grayson Rodriguez has been lights out in Class-A at only 19 years old. It is looking like he may be a future ace for the O’s, but it is obviously too early to know for sure. After receiving a whopping 30+ million dollar signing bonus from the Dodgers, Yusniel Diaz has not done too well since being acquired for Manny Machado. Starters Luis Ortiz and Dillon Tate are two former 1st round picks who have done poorly, but are looking to reach their lofty expectations originally placed on them when drafted. Shortstops Cadyn Grenier and Adam Hall have done well for Class-A Delmarva and are vying for promotions.

16.) Pittsburgh Pirates

Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B (PIT)
  1. Mitch Keller, SP (36)
  2. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B (38)
  3. Oneil Cruz, SS (73)
  4. Travis Swaggerty, OF (91)
  5. Calvin Mitchell, OF
  6. Bryan Reynolds, OF
  7. Cole Tucker, SS
  8. Lolo Sanchez, OF
  9. Kevin Kramer, 2B
  10. Braxton Ashcraft, SP

PIT Overview: Pittsburgh is the first team to have four prospects in my top 100. Keller, Hayes, Cruz, and Swaggerty make up the top of their system, but there is quite a bit of talent beyond them. Calvin Mitchell is one of the next to make the leap into the top 100, as he was very close to making it this time around. Outfielder Lolo Sanchez has been having a very nice 2019 season and should see a promotion sometime soon. Both Cole Tucker and Bryan Reynolds have recently been promoted to Pittsburgh, making their MLB respective MLB debuts. Although Tucker has struggled a bit, Reynolds has been on fire and is looking like a reliable player. Hayes and Keller should be able to contribute sometime soon as both have been doing well at Triple-A Indianapolis.

15.) Colorado Rockies

  1. Brendan Rodgers, SS (7)
  2. Colton Welker, 3B (64)
  3. Ryan Rolison, SP
  4. Ryan Vilade, SS
  5. Grant Lavigne, 1B
  6. Peter Lambert, SP
  7. Sam Hilliard, OF
  8. Daniel Montano, OF
  9. Terrin Vavra, SS
  10. Riley Pint, SP

COL Overview: Brendan Rodgers is one of the best hitters in all of the minor leagues, and is the main reason for Colorado’s top 15 ranking. Since being drafted 3rd overall in 2015, Rodgers has done nothing but hit. He has posted a career .294 batting average and is doing even better this year. Already with 7 HRs and a .336 AVG in 2019, Rodgers should get the call within the next month or so. Colton Welker, the Rockies only other top 100 prospect, has been excellent as well and has shown signs of improvement as well. Pitchers Peter Lambert and Riley Pint have struggled the past couple seasons, but a lot of that can be attributed to pitching at hitter-friendly parks the majority of their starts. Ryan Rolison, another starter, has shown that it doesn’t matter what stadium he is pitching in. Posting a 1.17 ERA across Class-A and A-Advanced, Rolison is looking like the best pitcher in the Rockies system.

14.) Los Angeles Dodgers

  1. Gavin Lux, SS/2B (47)
  2. Keibert Ruiz, C (49)
  3. Dustin May, SP (54)
  4. Diego Cartaya, C
  5. Jeter Downs, SS
  6. Mitchell White, SP
  7. Josiah Gray, SP
  8. Jeren Kendall, OF
  9. Will Smith, C
  10. Tony Gonsolin, SP

LAD Overview: A unique system, the Dodgers have three quality catcher prospects, an extremely rare commodity to possess. Keibert Ruiz, Diego Cartaya, and Will Smith all ranked in the Dodgers top ten prospects and are solid catchers behind the plate. At only 17 years old, Cartaya is a bit of a wild-card after signing for 2.5 million dollars in 2018. Gavin Lux and Jeter Downs could be the futures shortstop/2nd base combo for the Dodgers and they both have similar skill sets. With 20/20 potential, both could also hit close to .300, Lux being the more likely to do so. Mitchell White and Josiah Gray have impressed on the mound this year, making them two of the Dodgers best pitching prospects. Pitcher Yadier Alvarez showed so much potential early on after signing in 2015, but he has deteriorated enough to keep him off the Dodgers’ top ten. The hope is that he can regain his control and return to form.

13.) Kansas City Royals

Seuly Matias, OF (KC)
  1. Brady Singer, SP (33)
  2. Khalil Lee, OF (99)
  3. Jackson Kowar, SP
  4. Seuly Matias, OF
  5. MJ Melendez, C
  6. Nicky Lopez, SS/2B
  7. Daniel Lynch, SP
  8. Nick Pratto, 1B
  9. Kris Bubic, SP
  10. Kyle Isbel, OF

KC Overview: Kansas City has one of the more underrated farm systems in my opinion. While only two out of their top ten prospects are at Double-A or above, that means they have youth and a lot of potential to improve. 2018 1st rounders Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar have been dominating for Class A-Advanced Wilmington Blue Rocks, and have posted nearly identical stat lines. Matias, Melendez, and Pratto have all struggled mightily with the Blue Rocks, but are all only 20 years old. Lynch and Isbel are also part of a stacked Blue Rocks roster, making for one of the most talented teams in all of MiLB. Khalil Lee just made my top 100 rankings and he should be joined by other Royals prospects come the end of 2019.

12.) Miami Marlins

  1. Sixto Sanchez, SP (29)
  2. Victor Victor Mesa, OF (74)
  3. Monte Harrison, OF (85)
  4. Zac Gallen, SP
  5. Jordan Yamamoto, SP
  6. Edward Cabrera, SP
  7. Jorge Guzman, SP
  8. Trevor Rogers, SP
  9. Braxton Garrett, SP
  10. Jordan Holloway, SP

MIA Overview: The Marlins might have one of the deepest systems out of this grouping of teams. After dealing stars such as Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Dee Gordon, JT Realmuto, and Marcell Ozuna, the Marlins system was rejuvenated with much needed talent. Zac Gallen has been one of the best starters in all of MiLB, taking many by surprise. Other starters Sixto Sanchez (extended Spring Training), Braxton Garrett (TJ surgery), and Jordan Holloway (TJ surgery) all had late starts to their 2019 seasons, but are looking like quality pitchers at A-Advanced Jupiter. Other starters Yamamoto, Rogers, Cabrera, and Guzman have all performed very well at their respective levels. While the Marlins top ten is predominately pitchers, outfielders Victor Victor Mesa and Monte Harrison both made the back end of my top 100 rankings and have done well so far in 2019. One of the first teams that I had a hard time picking guys to leave out of the top ten, the Marlins have depth well beyond ten. Osiris Johnson, Jose Devers, Tristan Pompey, Isan Diaz, Nick Neidert and Connor Scott are all very talented players who could be among the top ten in my end of season rankings.

11.) Cincinatti Reds

  1. Nick Senzel, 3B, (8)
  2. Taylor Trammell, OF (17)
  3. Hunter Greene, SP (43)
  4. Jonathan India, 3B (68)
  5. Mike Siani, OF
  6. Jose Siri, OF
  7. Mariel Bautista, OF
  8. Tyler Stephenson, C
  9. Tony Santillian, SP
  10. Ibandel Isabel, OF

CIN Overview: Right on the cusp of the top ten, the Reds’ farm system falls in at #11 overall. Top prospect Nick Senzel has recently made his MLB debut and is a key player in the Reds organization. Unfortunately flamethrower Hunter Greene will miss all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, but he is still the best pitcher in the Reds system by a wide margin. Outfielder Taylor Trammell and Jose Siri are both doing well in Double-A and have been flashing 5-tool potential. Though Trammell is much higher rated than Siri, I expect both will get a promotion around the same time, possibly this June. Ibandel Isabel is one of the best power hitters in all of the minors, but he has struggled with his all-around game. If he can step up his defense and/or reduce his strikeout percentage, then he could be a very valuable asset as well. Bautista might be the most underrated Reds prospect as he possesses the very sought after combination of power and speed.

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2019 NFL Draft Grades: Full Team-by-Team Analysis – NFC Edition

In a surprising turn of events, Dave Gettleman and Dan Snyder may have been two of this year’s draft winners. The same can’t be said for the Houston Texans.

Some draft analysts argue that immediate draft reactions are useless. I disagree with that. I believe that there is value in assessing a combination of how a team filled its positional needs relative to the value of the pick that the player was selected. For example, if the Falcons had a dire need for edge-rushing talent, then selected edge rushers in the sixth and seventh rounds, they did not get enough value for a positional need. This would result in a lower grade. So obviously, these teams’ grades will lean more on how the teams drafted early.

See my AFC Draft Analysis here.

It’s clearly impossible to truly tell who the winners of the draft are the day after it ended, so I wouldn’t normally put a lot of weight into immediate analysis. But I’m right about this stuff, I swear.

Arizona Cardinals: A+

  • Round 1 (1): Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma – A+
  • Round 2 (33): Byron Murphy, CB, Washington – A+
  • Round 2 (62): Andy Isabella, WR, UMass – A
  • Round 3 (65): Zach Allen, DE, Boston College – A-
  • Round 4 (103): Hakeem Butler, WR, Arizona State – B
  • Round 5 (139): Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama – A
  • Round 6 (174): KeeSean Johnson, WR, Fresno State – A
  • Round 6 (179): Lamont Gallard, C, Georgia – A
  • Round 7 (248): Joshua Miles, OT, Morgan State – C
  • Round 7 (249): Michael Dogbe, DE, Temple – C
  • Round 7 (254): Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA – A

The Cardinals by far had the flashiest draft this year. Almost every pick saw either huge college production or huge athletic numbers this past year. The Cardinals are a team with a lot of holes in their roster, so their clear strategy of selecting the best player available will hopefully work out for them. They drafted three extremely polarizing wide receiver prospects this year. It’s going to be interesting to see how they mesh with Kyler Murray, perhaps the most polarizing overall prospect in the draft. Not only did they find value early after selecting my CB1 in the second round, but they also found tons of value late, Lamont Gallard, Caleb Wilson, and KeeSean Johnson are three of my favorite late-round picks this year. This could be a franchise-altering draft for Arizona. The only concern is that they didn’t address their putrid offensive line until late, which could delay their rebuild.

Atlanta Falcons: C+

  • Round 1 (14): Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College – B+
  • Round 1 (31): Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington – B+
  • Round 4 (111): Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State – C
  • Round 4 (135): John Cominsky, DE, Charleston – C
  • Round 5 (152): Qadree Ollison, RB, Pittsburgh – C-
  • Round 5 (172): Jordan Miller, CB, Washington – C
  • Round 6 (203): Marcus Green, WR, Louisiana-Monroe – C

The Falcons had one of the stranger draft classes this year. They reached for Chris Lindstrom, who was almost universally graded as a late first-early second rounder. They traded back into the first round to select Kaleb McGary, who I also thought was a bona fide second rounder. They didn’t add anyone to their pass rush until late in the fourth round, which is an area of concern for them.

Carolina Panthers: A-

  • Round 1 (16): Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State – A
  • Round 2 (37): Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss – A
  • Round 3 (100): Will Grier, QB, West Virginia – B+
  • Round 4 (115): Christian Miller, LB, Alabama – B+
  • Round 5 (154): Jordan Scarlett, RB, Florida – B
  • Round 6 (212): Dennis Daley, OT, South Carolina – C
  • Round 7 (237): Terry Godwin, WR, Georgia – C

The Panthers were the true beneficiaries of the surplus of pass-rushing talent in this year’s draft. In almost any other class, Brian Burns almost certainly would have been drafted in the Top 12. He’s an athletic unicorn with somewhat refined pass-rush moves, and he has a high motor. Greg Little is another prospect that I love. Per PFF, Little allowed 26 total pressures and three sacks in 993 pass-blocking snaps over his past two seasons. He’s been consistently productive, has no major injury concerns, and no athletic red flags. He’s perfect for a Carolina O-Line that needs work. The third-round selection of Will Grier could be hit-or-miss for Carolina. He has an incredible arm, but his feet and decision-making are iffy. He has great poise, and his issues are definitely fixable. With Cam Newton’s status up in the air for this season and no real backup, Grier is a good pick.

Chicago Bears: D+

  • Round 3 (73): David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State – B+
  • Round 4 (126): Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia – B+
  • Round 6 (205): Duke Shelley, CB, Kansas State – C
  • Round 7 (222): Kerrith Whyte Jr., RB, FAU – C
  • Round 7 (238): Stephen Denmark, CB, Valdosta State – C

The Bears had very few selections due to the Khalil Mack trade, which is a problem I’m sure they’re content with. David Montgomery is a great between-the-tackles runner (Tarik Cohen is not.), and he’ll serve as a good two-down runner for them. Riley Ridley is a pass catcher that slid in this draft, probably due to athletic limitations and average college production. I still believe he’ll be productive for the Bears, although their depth chart at receiver is a little clogged up right now.

Dallas Cowboys: C

  • Round 2 (58): Trysten Hill, DT, UCF – C
  • Round 3 (90): Connor McGovern, G, Penn State – B
  • Round 4 (128): Tony Pollard, RB, Memphis – C
  • Round 5 (158): *Michael Jackson, CB, Miami – B
  • Round 5 (165): Joe Jackson, DE, Miami – B
  • Round 6 (213): Donovan Wilson, S, Texas A&M – C
  • Round 7 (218): Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State – B
  • Round 7 (241): Jalen Jelks, DE, Oregon – B

This may be my least favorite draft class from this year. Although Trysten Hill will likely become a starter on the Dallas D-Line in a couple years, I still feel like they reached for him at 58. It does fill a positional need for them, with the bizarre, seemingly substance-influenced surprise retirement of David Irving this offseason. Connor McGovern was a solid player at Penn State, and Jason Garrett will be able to move him throughout the interior of his offensive line in the future. Past that, I don’t see a ton of impact from their late-round players, except for some potential from Michael Jackson, the defensive back from Miami.

Detroit Lions: C+

  • Round 1 (8): TJ Hockenson, TE, Iowa – A-
  • Round 2 (43): Jahlani Tavai, LB, Hawaii – D+
  • Round 3 (81): Will Harris, S, Boston College – B
  • Round 4 (117): Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson – B
  • Round 5 (146): Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State – A
  • Round 6 (184): Travis Fulgham, WR, Old Dominion – C
  • Round 6 (186): Ty Johnson, RB, Maryland – C
  • Round 7 (224): Isaac Nauta, TE, Georgia – C
  • Round 7 (229): P.J. Johnson, DT, Arizona – C

I didn’t exactly understand the game-plan with the Lions’ draft. I’m not going to argue the T.J. Hockenson pick, I think he’ll be a great pro, but they already put resources into the TE spot this offseason with the signing of Jesse James. They have needs at almost every defensive position, which I’m assuming explains the apparent overcorrection that followed Hockenson, drafting defensive players in rounds 2-5. I don’t love Jahlani Tavai, I never really saw anything that made him deserving of a second round pick, but I have no quarrels with the 3rd and 4th round picks of Harris and Bryant. A pick that I actually do like is of Amani Oruwariye in the fifth round, which I think is excellent value for a player of his caliber. I didn’t see any apparent reasons for his fall to the fifth, he put up good production in coverage and performed fine in his workouts. Overall, it was a confusing draft from the Lions.

Green Bay Packers: A-

  • Round 1 (12): Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan – B-
  • Round 1 (21): Darnell Savage Jr., S, Maryland – A
  • Round 2 (44): Elgton Jenkins, C, Mississippi State – A
  • Round 3 (75): Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M – A-
  • Round 5 (150): Kingsley Keke, DT, Texas A&M – A
  • Round 6 (185): Ka’Dar Hollman, CB, Toledo – C
  • Round 6 (194): Dexter Williams, RB, Notre Dame – C
  • Round 7 (226): Ty Summers, LB, TCU – C

Despite all of the negative press surrounding the Packers’ selection of Rashan Gary, I kind of love their draft class. Even if Gary doesn’t pan out, they still may have built the most dangerous young secondary in the NFL, adding Darnell Savage Jr. to a secondary with Jaire Alexander, Adrian Amos, and Josh Jackson. Stealing Elgton Jenkins from the Saints in Round 2 was one of the more underrated moves from the draft, and adding Kingsley Keke to their already-dominant defensive line was a great move. Jace Sternberger was one of my higher-rated tight ends in this class, he has one of the more refined route trees in this year’s loaded class. Overall, the Packers added serious firepower to their defense, and they gave Aaron Rodgers another weapon at tight end.

Los Angeles Rams: A+

  • Round 2 (61): Taylor Rapp, S, Washington – A
  • Round 3 (70): Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis – A-
  • Round 3 (79): David Long, CB, Michigan – A+
  • Round 3 (97): Bobby Evans, OT/OG, Oklahoma – A
  • Round 4 (134): Greg Gaines, DT, Washington – A
  • Round 5 (169): David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin – A-
  • Round 6 (243): Nick Scott, S, Penn State – C
  • Round 7 (251): Dakota Allen, LB, Texas Tech – C

The Rams maximized the values of their respective picks this year. They drafted secondary early, added another playmaker to their electric offense, added depth to their defensive line, and added depth and versatility to their offensive line. My philosophy for building winning football roster goes something like this: When you already have a quarterback, the next most important thing is bolstering your linemen on both sides, and being able to cover on defense. The Rams did exactly this in their draft. I love Taylor Rapp’s versatility on defense, although his strong suit is in the box. Darrell Henderson averaged an insane 8.9 YPC over his last two seasons at Memphis, his explosiveness will be properly utilized in Sean McVay’s offense. David Long is an undersized corner out of Michigan, but his production, instinct, and cover skills will make him a valuable part of the Los Angeles defense. I see him having a similar impact to what Desmond King does for the Chargers, or more realistically what Jourdan Lewis does for Dallas.

Minnesota Vikings: B-

  • Round 1 (18): Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State – A
  • Round 2 (50): Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama – B-
  • Round 3 (102): Alexander Mattison, RB, Boise State – C
  • Round 4 (114): Dru Samia, OG, Oklahoma – C
  • Round 5 (162): Cameron Smith, LB, USC – C
  • Round 6 (190): Armon Watts, DT, Arkansas – B
  • Round 6 (191): Marcus Epps, S, Wyoming – C
  • Round 6 (193): Oli Udoh, OT, Elon – C+
  • Round 7 (217): Kris Boyd, CB, Texas – C
  • Round 7 (239): Dillon Mitchell, WR, Oregon – C
  • Round 7 (247): Olabisi Johnson, WR, Colorado State – C
  • Round 7 (250): Austin Cutting, LS, Air Force – B

It’s rare that a non-playoff team has few holes to fill come draft day. It’s not rare when a roster stages a mutiny on its offensive coordinator, and when their offensive line and defense is ravaged by injuries. The Vikings have the second worst offensive line out of any team over .500 from this past year, second to the Texans. I would’ve been happy for the Vikings if they had selected an offensive lineman with every pick in this draft. That (obviously) didn’t happen, and they rolled with Garrett Bradbury in the first round. Although interior linemen aren’t nearly as valuable as tackles, I like Bradbury as the 18th pick in the draft. Irv Smith Jr. is an understandable pick in the second round. Kirk Cousins historically works well with athletic tight ends, and he’s yet to have one in Minnesota. None of their later round picks stand out to me, but I do like Armon Watts out of Arkansas.

New Orleans Saints: C+

  • Round 2 (48): Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M – B
  • Round 4 (105): Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida – A
  • Round 6 (177): Saquan Hampton, S, Rutgers – C
  • Round 7 (231): Alizé Mack, TE, Notre Dame – C
  • Round 7 (244): Kaen Eliss, LB, Idaho – C

With a lack of picks due to the Marcus Davenport trade, the Saints had few opportunities to address their team needs. After Max Unger’s surprise retirement, center was the highest priority for the Saints. They picked a center, Erik McCoy with their first pick, a player that I think has a bright future. The stopped the slide of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the fourth round, a safety with little experience and subpar instincts.

New York Giants: B (Excluding Daniel Jones: A+)

  • Round 1 (6): Daniel Jones, QB, Duke – D+
  • Round 1 (17): Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson – B
  • Round 1 (30): Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia – A
  • Round 3 (95): Oshane Ximines, EDGE, Old Dominion –A
  • Round 4 (108): Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame – A
  • Round 5 (143): Ryan Connelly, LB, Wisconsin – C
  • Round 5 (171): Darius Slayton, WR, Auburn – C
  • Round 6 (180): Corey Ballentine, CB, Washburn – A-
  • Round 7 (232): George Asafo-Adjei, OT, Kentucky – C
  • Round 7 (245): Chris Slayton, DT, Syracuse – C

I see the Giants’ draft class in two different respects. There is a clear good and a clear bad side. Here’s the good side: I think that they built an extremely strong foundation to their defense, rebuilding their aging secondary with Deandre Baker, Julian Love, and Corey Ballentine. Dexter Lawrence II is another player that I think will be a difference-maker for their defense, although I don’t really know how valuable a 340 pound, run-stuffing DT is these days. (See: Damon Harrison Trade) Oshane Ximines was one of my favorite picks in the third round, he was an extremely productive player in college, even though his competition at Old Dominion may not have been too strong. Here’s the bad: Daniel Jones. I’ve never seen a pick that was more universally hated than Daniel Jones. It seems as if every expert, analyst, and general fan of football knows that Jones was a complete reach at pick six. I agree with these sentiments. Although he has the somewhat prototypical size for an NFL quarterback, he has severe concerns with accuracy. He also has a subpar arm, there’s rarely any ‘zip’ on his passes. It seems likely that David Gettleman may have wasted the sixth overall pick. It’s not a franchise-crippling pick though, due to their success in the later rounds.

Philadelphia Eagles: A-

  • Round 1 (22): Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State – A+
  • Round 2 (53): Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State – B-
  • Round 2 (57): J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford – A-
  • Round 4 (138): Shareef Miller, EDGE, Penn State – B+
  • Round 5 (167): Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern – C+

The Eagles had a productive draft despite their lack of picks. They traded up in the first round to take offensive tackle Andre Dillard. Jumping ahead of the offensive-line needy Houston Texans was another savvy move by GM Howie Roseman. They swapped first-rounders with the Ravens, sending them back only three spots, so the compensation that they had to give for the 22nd pick wasn’t too bad (They gave up the 127th and 197th overall picks). Andre Dillard may be the second most NFL-ready tackle prospect behind Jonah Williams, he as ideal size and experience in a pass-happy offense at Washington State. In the second round, they added more offensive weapons to compliment Carson Wentz. This was a necessary move, their running back corps has been weak for years, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside will be a red-zone target to draw attention from Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery. Clayton Thorson will hopefully develop into a solid backup quarterback, and Shareef Miller will eventually serve as valuable pass-rushing depth.

San Francisco 49ers: B (Excluding Nick Bosa: D+)

  • Round 1 (2): Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State – A++
  • Round 2 (36): Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina – B
  • Round 3 (67): Jalen Hurd, WR/RB, Baylor – C-
  • Round 4 (110): Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah – C-
  • Round 5 (148): Dre Greenlaw, LB, Arkansas – C
  • Round 6 (176): Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford – C
  • Round 6 (183): Justin Skule, OT, Vanderbilt – C
  • Round 6 (198): Tim Harris, CB, Virginia – C+

I have mixed opinions about the 49er’s draft. They were able to take Nick Bosa with the second pick, who I believe is the best player in this draft. I don’t really like the rest of their draft though. They needed offensive weapons to pair with Jimmy Garoppolo, but I think they could’ve drafted better talent than Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd. The picks make sense, Kyle Shanahan runs a west-coast scheme that will normally have Garoppolo going through his progressions quickly, throwing a good amount of shallow, quick routes. Both Deebo Samuel and Hurd are crisp route-runners, and they produced mostly from the slot in college. Jalen Hurd is 6’4”, an absurd height for a slot receiver, it’ll be interesting how he’s able to separate early given his big frame. It’ll also be interesting to see if they both remain lined up in the slot in the NFL because picking two slot receivers with your second and third round selections don’t make a ton of sense value-wise. They picked a punter in the fourth round which is strange, but if John Lynch thinks he has the 49ers’ punter for the next 10 years, it’s not a bad pick.

Seattle Seahawks: B-

  • Round 1 (29): L.J. Collier, EDGE, TCU – B
  • Round 2 (47): Marquise Blair, S, Utah – B-
  • Round 2 (64): D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss – A
  • Round 3 (88): Cody Barton, LB, Utah – C
  • Round 4 (120): Gary Jennings Jr., WR, West Virginia – B+
  • Round 4 (124): Phil Haynes, OG, Wake Forest – C
  • Round 4 (132): Ugochukwu Amadi, S, Oregon – C
  • Round 5 (142): Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, Washington – C
  • Round 6 (204): Travis Homer, RB, Miami – C
  • Round 6 (209): Demarcus Christmas, DT, Florida State – B+
  • Round 7 (236): John Ursua, WR, Hawaii – C

I would question the selections of L.J. Collier and Marquise Blair if this was any team but the Seattle Seahawks. At first glance, I saw these selections as complete reaches. I thought of Collier as a mid to late second round pick, and Blair as a third. I then watched a solid amount of film on both of them, and my opinions changed. Collier has an extremely powerful first step, which is one of the more important qualities of a college pass-rusher. He has a solid variety of pass-rushing moves, and he displays the ability to counter. Marquise Blair is a linebacker in a safety’s body. He hits with reckless abandon, and his closing speed while defending the run is impressive. I think that Pete Carroll could turn him into one of the league’s best box safeties, if not converting him into a hybrid safety/SAM linebacker. D.K. Metcalf was one of the more highly-touted prospects coming into the draft. He has insane straight-line speed, but he has concerns with change of direction and footwork. His route-running will be questionable in the NFL, but he’s been blessed with Russell Wilson, who has turned Tyler Lockett and David Moore into elite-seeming players.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B

  • Round 1 (5): Devin White, LB, LSU – B+
  • Round 2 (39): Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan – B
  • Round 3 (94): Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn – B+
  • Round 3 (99): Mike Edwards, S, Kentucky – B+
  • Round 4 (107): Anthony Nelson, EDGE, Iowa – B
  • Round 5 (145): Matt Gay, K, Utah – C-
  • Round 6 (208): Scott Miller, WR, Bowling Green – C
  • Round 7 (215): Terry Beckner, DT, Mississippi State – C

Tampa Bay came into this draft with a clear strategy: building a foundation for their defense. With the loss of Kwon Alexander and Brent Grimes, their defense has been their priority for their entire offseason. They signed Shaq Barrett, made a splashy hire as Todd Bowles as their defensive coordinator, and used 6 of their 8 draft picks on their defense. Sean Bunting, Mike Edwards, and Anthony Nelson were relatively safe picks, they were productive in college and had solid workouts. Jamel Dean was one of the winners of this year’s combine, dominating almost every event. Overall, it was a productive draft for the Bucs, although their franchise turmoil will likely not end until they figure out the quarterback position, as this year is pretty much Jameis Winston’s last shot to prove himself as a franchise quarterback.

Washington Redskins: B+

  • Round 1 (15): Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State – A+
  • Round 2 (26): Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State – A
  • Round 3 (76): Terry McLaurin, WR, Ohio State – B
  • Round 4 (112): Bryce Love, RB, Stanford – C+
  • Round 5 (131): Wes Martin, OG, Indiana – C
  • Round 6 (153): Ross Pierschbacher, OG, Alabama – C
  • Round 7 (173): Cole Holcomb, LB, North Carolina – C
  • Round 6 (206): Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State – A
  • Round 6 (227): Jimmy Moreland, CB, James Madison – C
  • Round 6 (253): Jordan Brailford, DE, Oklahoma State – B+

The Redskins won this year’s award for Luckiest Team on draft night. They didn’t trade up for a quarterback (which they were rumored to do), and Dwayne Haskins fell into their lap. In my eyes, Haskins is the second most talented quarterback in this draft, behind Kyler Murray. He has an NFL-ready body, and he has the anticipation, timing, and arm talent necessary to become a franchise quarterback. They traded up for Montez Sweat and barring any career-threatening injuries, he could be one of the best picks of the draft. Sweat is undoubtedly the best athlete for his position in this class, and there are no limits on his potential in the league. It’s just a question of work ethic and motor with Sweat, both of which have never been problems for him. They added two offensive weapons to complement Haskins, but I’m not crazy about either of them. Terry McLaurin was the primary deep-pass receiver for the Buckeyes this past season and will be good with Haskins from a chemistry standpoint. I don’t love the selection of Bryce Love. Love was once a Heisman Hopeful who had his college career derailed by an ACL injury, and there have been several roadblocks on his path to recovery. I doubt that he will ever return to full strength.

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Ranking MLB’s Best Minor League Farm Systems, Early-2019 (21-30)

These are my 2019 Early Season Rankings for MLB’s top farm systems. In this article, we will be looking at the systems ranked 21-30. Numbers 11-20 and 1-10 will be released later in May.

30.) St. Louis Cardinals

  1. Nolan Gorman, 3B (46)
  2. Andrew Knizner, C
  3. Malcom Nunez, 3B
  4. Jhon Torres, OF
  5. Dylan Carlson, OF
  6. Genesis Cabrera, SP
  7. Justin Williams, OF
  8. Johan Oviedo, SP
  9. Ryan Helsley, SP
  10. Luken Baker, 1B

STL Overview: After graduating players like Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes and Harrison Bader, and dealing other top prospects like Oscar Mercado and Carson Kelly, there is not much talent remaining in St. Louis’ farm system. Nolan Gorman is the exception, coming in at #46 on my 2019 Top 100 MLB Prospect Rankings 1.0 (Early Season). Gorman, along with catcher Andrew Knizner, are the only two Cardinals prospects who I see as reliable guys, who I would be confident in saying they will be successful major leaguers.

29.) Chicago Cubs

  1. Nico Hoerner, SS (79)
  2. Brailyn Marquez, SP
  3. Miguel Amaya, C
  4. Oscar De La Cruz, SP
  5. Adbert Azolay, SP
  6. Aramis Ademan, SS
  7. Corey Abbott, SP
  8. Zack Short, SS
  9. Tyson Miller, SP
  10. Nelson Velazquez, OF

CHI Overview: I was very close between St. Louis and Chicago for the last spot in my rankings, as I dislike both systems equally. After multiple terrible trades (Jose Quintana/Aroldis Chapman) the Cubs lost elite prospects Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, and Dylan Cease. It is very hard for a system to recover after trades like these, especially if their major league club is not willing to part with any talented veterans. Nico Hoerner is their only top 100 prospect, and may be their only one for quite a while. Oscar de la Cruz was one of my favorite Cubs prospects a couple years ago, but injuries and a long suspension have dampened expectations. If he can turn things around, de la Cruz is probably the only possible candidate to make my Late-2019 top 100 list.

28.) Washington Nationals

  1. Carter Kieboom, SS (25)
  2. Luis V. Garcia, SS/2B/3B (72)
  3. Mason Denaburg, SP
  4. Tim Cate, SP
  5. Wil Crowe, SP
  6. Sterling Sharp, SP
  7. Yasel Antuna, SS/3B
  8. Jeremy De La Rosa, OF
  9. Seth Romero, SP
  10. Jose Sanchez, SS

WSH Overview: Out of all the MLB systems, I’d have to say the Nationals’ is the one lacking the most depth. Outside of the top two or three guys, I wouldn’t consider many of the rest to be quality prospects. Carter Kieboom just recently made his MLB debut, so when he ends up losing his prospect status, I would have the Nationals as the last ranked group. Luis V. Garcia is a decent prospect, but he has struggled mightily after his promotion to Double-A in 2019. To be fair he is only 18 years old (well under the average for Double-A), but I’m sure the Nationals expected a bit more. Mason Denaburg, the Nationals’ 2018 1st round pick, has yet to pitch in a professional game, but could wind up being their best pitching prospect. Yasel Antuna is an intriguing guy, but he is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery.

27.) Cleveland Indians

  1. Triston McKenzie, SP (51)
  2. Nolan Jones, 3B (88)
  3. Ethan Hankins, SP
  4. Tyler Freeman, SS/2B
  5. Oscar Mercado, OF
  6. Lenny Torres Jr., SP
  7. Brayan Rocchio, SS
  8. Bo Naylor, C
  9. Luis Oviedo, SP
  10. Daniel Johnson, OF

CLE Overview: The Indians have one of the youngest farm systems out of any team. While this means their rank is quite low, most of their players have plenty of time to develop, and I could see Cleveland making a big jump in my Late-2019 rankings. 2018 draftees, Noah “Bo” Naylor and Ethan Hankins are both guys I could see being in my Late-2019 Top 100 Rankings. Both offer high ceilings and they will both be 19 for the majority of the 2019 season. Oscar Mercado is one of the more underrated prospects in my opinion. On the brink of reaching the MLB, Mercado is a speedy outfielder who could make a big impact on the major league roster. The Indians’ top two prospects, Triston McKenzie and Nolan Jones, are only 21 years old and also have plenty of time to increase their stock. The only issue with having such a young farm system is that Cleveland won’t be able to get much help within the next year or two, but youth is always a benefit when it comes to building superstars.

26.) San Francisco Giants

Heliot Ramos, OF (SF)
  1. Joey Bart, C (12)
  2. Heliot Ramos, OF (80)
  3. Marco Luciano, SS
  4. Jake Wong, SP
  5. Shaun Anderson, SP
  6. Sean Hjelle, SP
  7. Seth Corry, SP
  8. Jairo Pomares, OF
  9. Jalen Miller, 2B
  10. Luis Toribio, 3B

SF Overview: The Giants possess one of the rarest things among their prospects, an elite catcher. Joey Bart is not only the best catching prospect, but he is one of the very best prospects at any position. It is extremely rare to see a catcher rated so highly as both a defender and as a hitter. As of now Bart has a huge gap between him and the next best catching prospect, but that may change when Adley Rutschman (projected #1 overall pick in 2019) gets drafted. Aside from Bart, Heliot Ramos and Marco Luciano are the only other two guys who I’d consider to be “top prospects”. Ramos has shown a lot of power amidst his inconsistency, and Luciano would likely have ranked in my top 100, but he is yet to appear in a professional game. The rest of the system has some talent, but I don’t see anyone currently in San Francisco’s system else ever reaching my top 100 list. Seth Corry is a name to watch as a guy who has been flying under the radar. Corry has dominated in Class-A, and I’d expect a promotion within weeks assuming he keeps it up.

25.) Philadelphia Phillies

  1. Adonis Medina, SP (58)
  2. Alec Bohm, 3B (70)
  3. Luis Garcia, SS (95)
  4. Adam Haseley, OF
  5. Spencer Howard, SP
  6. Mickey Moniak, OF
  7. Enyel De Los Santos, SP
  8. Jhailyn Ortiz, OF
  9. Cole Irvin, SP
  10. Kevin Gowdy, SP

PHI Overview: Even after losing their best prospect, Sixto Sanchez, in the trade for J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia still had three prospects in my top 100 rankings. Both Alec Bohm and Luis Garcia started the 2019 season in Class-A, but Bohm already received a well deserved promotion to A-Advanced. One of the biggest names in the Phillies system Mickey Moniak, was the #1 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. Yet to break out as a professional, Moniak is still only 20 years old and there is still a chance he turns out to be the star that the Phillies expected when taking him first overall. Outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz offers exciting raw power and Adam Haseley, another outfielder, has a very well rounded skill set that should keep him moving up the system. Medina, Howard, and De Los Santos offer relatively high floors as starters, and should all be contributing within a year.

24.) New York Yankees

  1. Estevan Florial, OF (69)
  2. Albert Abreu, SP
  3. Jonathan Loaisiga, SP
  4. Clarke Schmidt, SP
  5. Anthony Seigler, C
  6. Deivi Garcia, SP
  7. Domingo Acevedo, RP/SP
  8. Thairo Estrada, UTIL
  9. Luis Gil, SP
  10. Josh Stowers, OF

NYY Overview: For one of the best MLB rosters, the Yankees farm system is understandably depleted. Recent graduates include stars like Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier and Domingo German. Their only top 100 prospect in my rankings, Estevan Florial, is yet to play in 2019 due to a broken wrist. Recent 1st round picks, Clarke Schmidt and Anthony Seigler, seem to be worthy of those high selections, but are very far from contributing to the Yankees. 2017 2nd round pick, Matt Sauer, would have ranked in the Yankees’ top 10 list, but will miss all of 2019 and a large part of the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery. With Estrada and Loaisiga already called up to the MLB, Domingo Acevedo or Albert Abreu could be next. Both at Double-A, with the amount of injuries to the Yankees’ MLB team, Acevedo or Abreu could be up before expected.

23.) Boston Red Sox

  1. Michael Chavis, 3B/2B (56)
  2. Darwinzon Hernandez, SP (86)
  3. Bobby Dalbec, 3B
  4. Tristan Casas, 1B
  5. Antoni Flores, SS
  6. Jarren Duran, OF
  7. C.J. Chatham, SS
  8. Bryan Mata, SP
  9. Jay Groome, SP
  10. Tanner Houck, SP

BOS Overview: Ever since losing Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and Luis Alexander Basabe in the Chris Sale trade, Boston has not had the same top tier talent. Chavis, my number 56 overall prospect, may be the exception. After being called up to Boston early in the 2019 season, Chavis has gotten off to an extremely hot start. Darwinzon Hernandez also got a taste of the majors, pitching well in one relief appearance before being optioned back to Double-A. #9 prospect, Jay Groome, has been derailed by injuries, but may be Boston’s best pitching prospect when healthy. Antoni Flores is a guy who I could see doing very well, but he has not had enough at-bats to constitute a top-100 ranking.

22.) New York Mets

Ronny Mauricio, SS (NYM)
  1. Peter Alonso, 1B (14)
  2. Andres Gimenez, SS (53)
  3. Ronny Mauricio, SS (75)
  4. Anthony Kay, SP
  5. Adrian Hernandez, OF
  6. Simeon Woods-Richardson, SP
  7. Mark Vientos, 3B
  8. Junior Santos, SP
  9. David Peterson, SP
  10. Shervyen Newton, SS

NYM Overview: One of the best rookie performances so far in 2019 has been Pete Alonso’s amazing stretch with the Mets. Taking opponents by storm, Alonso already has 10 HRs in just over 100 at bats. Alonso will soon no longer be “prospect eligible”, which will most likely make the Mets system drop in the rankings. Shortstops Andres Gimenez and Ronny Mauricio are two former international signees who will likely be the Mets’ future SS/2B combo if all goes well. The Mets pitching lacks a “front of the rotation” guy after the trade of Justin Dunn, but they still have quality depth with David Peterson, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods-Richardson all projected to be mid-to-back end rotation guys.

21.) Milwaukee Brewers

  1. Keston Hiura, 2B (22)
  2. Corey Ray, OF (81)
  3. Mauricio Dubon, SS/2B
  4. Brice Turang, SS
  5. Joe Gray Jr., OF
  6. Lucas Erceg, 3B
  7. Larry Ernesto, OF
  8. Troy Stokes Jr., OF
  9. Tristan Lutz, OF
  10. Marco Feliciano, C

MIL Overview: Keston Hiura is the gem of the Brewers’ system. The former #9 overall pick has been excellent at the plate, and is looking like he will make a huge impact sometime in 2019. The Brewers’ second top 100 prospect is Corey Ray. The #5 overall pick in 2016, Ray had struggled in 2016 and 2017, not living up to the expectations of a top five pick. 2018 was a breakout year for Ray as he showed his exciting 5-tool abilities. Both Ray and Hiura started their 2019 seasons in Triple-A, so both may be up in Milwaukee as early as June/July. Their top three prospects (and five out of the top ten), are in Triple-A, so the Brewers should have some available talent during the 2019 season. Although all ten of the Brewers top prospects ore position players, they do have some quality pitching prospects as well. Starters Zack Brown and Trey Supak narrowly missed my MIL top 10, and both are having great starts to 2019.

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Trade Review: Chris Sale, CHW & BOS

Yoan Moncada, the key piece of the Chris Sale trade

At the 2016 Winter Meetings, the topic of a potential Chris Sale trade was prominent throughout the week. Eventually the Red Sox pounced, prying super star pitcher, Chris Sale, from the rebuilding White Sox. This was the first domino to fall in Chicago’s rebuild which included the White Sox dealing Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, and David Robertson. The Sale trade got the White Sox the biggest return, landing them four pieces in total.

The Deal: December 6th, 2016

Red Sox Receive: Chris Sale (SP)

White Sox Receive: Yoan Moncada (2B/3B), Michael Kopech (SP), Luis Alexander Basabe (OF), and Victor Diaz (SP)

General Overview: After multiple unpleasant incidents between Chris Sale and the White Sox organization, many expected Sale to be dealt over the offseason. On his way to the Red Sox, Sale joined a rotation already featuring the likes of David Price, Rick Porcello, and Drew Pomeranz. Joining a winning organization was something Sale greatly desired, so all three parties were happy with the deal. The Red Sox got the ace they desperatly needed, while the White Sox got two top tier prospects and two lower end guys who they felt could step up as well.

Red Sox Overview: No matter how well any of the players the Red Sox gave up do, it is hard to argue that they will be more valuable than Chris Sale was for them. Sale was not the only star player on the team in 2018, but he was one of the main reasons they made it to the World Series. Though doing poorly in his World Series start, without Sale, it is unlikely that the Red Sox would have even made it as far. Giving up two top tier prospects is tough, but it is hard to compare that to a World Series victory. Unfortunately for Boston, Sale’s 2019 season has been about as disastrous as possible, starting the season with an ERA over 6.00.

White Sox Overview: In the return for Sale, the White Sox got a massive haul of young talent. Just after reaching the majors, Yoan Moncada was MLB Pipeline’s #1 overall prospect in all of baseball. After his arrival, Moncada starred in Triple-A Charlotte for the first half of 2017 until his promotion to Chicago. Things did not go great for Moncada as his batting average and strikeout rate both worsened after the jump to the majors. In 2018, Moncada played the entire season at the MLB level, showing his 5-tool abilities, but again struggled with his contact. So far in 2019, Moncada has been excellent, looking like a true #1 overall prospect. His strikeouts have fallen drastically, while his HRs and AVG are both well above his previous season’s. It is a bit to early to tell for sure, but it appears as if Moncada was well worth being the centerpiece for Chris Sale. If he keeps performing at this rate, the Red Sox will soon (if not already) regret parting with him

Michael Kopech, another top prospect at the time, was dealt as a 2nd headliner to pair with Moncada. His combination of a high 90s (up to 100mph) fastball and a devastating slider really caught the eye of White Sox scouts. After doing well in Double-A (2017) and Triple-A (2017/2018), Kopech finally got a taste of the majors at the back end of the 2018 season. After a dominating first three starts, Kopech got absolutely shelled in his 4th. A day later, it was discovered Kopech needed Tommy John surgery, sidelining him for 2018 as well as 2019. He is expected to be fully healthy by 2020, and will be a crucial part of Chicago’s rotation then.

Though not as highly rated at the time, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, may turn out to be the 3rd very good player the White Sox got. A switch hitting outfielder, Basabe was traded away from his twin brother, Luis Alejando Basabe, who also played in the Red Sox organization. Though both were viewed as similar level players, Luis Alexander took off upon his arrival in the White Sox organization, and has proved himself to be an important member of their rebuild.

Victor Diaz, the 4th and final piece of the deal has not been much of a factor at all. After the trade, Diaz pitched 12 inning of relief between Class-A and Class A-Advanced, combining for a disgustingly bad 12 walks, and a 14.25 ERA. Diaz has been sidelined since 2017 due to injuries, so he is hoping to bounce back later this year. It’s always hard to tell for sure, but it appears that Diaz will be a pretty irrelevant part of this deal, essentially making it a 3:1 deal.

Chris Sale pitching vs Orioles (9/20/17)

Player Grades:

Chris Sale: A

Yoan Moncada: A-

Michael Kopech: A-

Luis Alexander Basabe: B-

Victor Diaz: D

Winner: Chicago White Sox

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Prospect Profile: Wander Samuel Franco, TB

Wander Franco, TB

Wander Franco, the Tampa Bay Rays top prospect, is the next player in the Prospect Profile spotlight. Franco came in at #5 overall in my Early Season Prospect Rankings, and he is only getting better. Coming into the 2019 season at 18, Franco is one of the youngest players in all of Minor League Baseball.

Height:5’10″ Weight: 190 lbs. Age: 18

Position: SS Bats/Throws: S/R ETA: Early 2021

Overview: The future is looking very bright for the Tampa Bay Rays. With one of the best records in the MLB so far, and one of the best farm systems, they should also be expecting young pitchers Brent Honeywell, Anthony Banda and Jose De Leon to all return from Tommy John surgery this season. Wander Samuel Franco is at the top of Tampa’s prospect rankings, yet he is only 18 years old. Franco is at the top of a stacked system that contains players like Honeywell, Brendan McKay, Matthew Liberatore, Jesus Sanchez, and Shane McClanahan. Factor in current major league Rays like Austin Meadows, Willy Adames, Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow, the Rays have the best organizational depth in young, high-potential talent. I would expect the Rays to be in contention for the next 6-7 years at least, as they have the makings of a dynasty.

Signed in 2017 for just about four million dollars, Franco has not disappointed in his first profesional seasons, proving worthy of the large signing bonus. The switch hitting shortstop is one of the highest rated prospects by both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America. Coming in at such a young age (18) and already at Class A, Franco has the potential to be a complete superstar for the Rays. One of his most impressive stats is his strikeout rate, striking out only 9% of the time. Hitting well over .300 in both Rookie League (2018) and Class-A (2019), expect Franco to fly through Tampa’s system. Barring injuries, Franco will surely reach A-Advanced, and I don’t find it hard to believe that he’ll finish 2019 in Double-A Montgomery.

Ceiling: Troy Tulowitski – Currently, Tulowitski isn’t the star he used to be, so many people may have forgotten how dominant he used to be. He had a great bat, as well as a very good glove as well. During his career, Tulowitski had eight All-Star worthy seasons, and I could see Franco producing similarly to him. Franco has the tools to hit close to 30 HRs a season, while hovering around a .300 BA.

Projection: Gleyber Torres – One of the rising stars, Torres could be a very accurate comparison for Wander Franco. While its too early to tell for sure, Franco appears to be a pretty solid defender, who is an elite hitter both in terms of power and contact. Being a switch hitter is a plus as well, and he can produce from both sides of the plate, although he has more power from the left.

Floor: Willy Adames – One of the Rays former top prospects, shortstop Willy Adames was expected to be the Rays future shortstop as well as a franchise player. Adames has done pretty solid, but I’m sure they would have hoped for more. Francos expectations will be higher, so I view Adames as a worst case for Franco. If Adames is good enough to stay long term, he may have to relocate positions to make room for Franco.

Player Grades: Contact: A Power: B+ Speed: A- Fielding: B Arm: B- Potential: A+ Overall: A

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2019 NFL Draft Grades: Full Team-by-Team Analysis – AFC Edition

In a surprising turn of events, Dave Gettleman and Dan Snyder may have been two of this year’s draft winners. The same can’t be said for the Houston Texans.

Some draft analysts argue that immediate draft reactions are useless. I disagree with that. I believe that there is value in assessing a combination of how a team filled its positional needs relative to the value of the pick that the player was selected. For example, if the Falcons had a dire need for edge-rushing talent, then selected edge rushers in the sixth and seventh rounds, they did not get enough value for a positional need. This would result in a lower grade. So obviously, these teams’ grades will lean more on how the teams drafted early.

It’s clearly impossible to truly tell who the winners of the draft are the day after it ended, so I wouldn’t normally put a lot of weight into immediate analysis. But I’m right about this stuff, I swear.

Baltimore Ravens: A

  • Round 1 (25): Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma – A
  • Round 3 (85): Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech – A-
  • Round 3 (93): Miles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame – A
  • Round 4 (113): Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State – A-
  • Round 4 (123): Ben Powers, G, Oklahoma – C
  • Round 4 (127): Iman Marshall, CB, USC – B
  • Round 5 (160): Daylon Mack, DT, Texas A&M – C
  • Round 6 (197): Trace McSorely, QB, Penn State – D+

As a Steeler fan, it pains me to see Baltimore continuing to draft well. They drafted three playmaking athletic freaks; Miles Boykin’s athletic profile is almost identical to D.K. Metcalf’s, Justice Hill is as explosive as any RB in this class, and Marquise Brown s pretty much a more refined Desean Jackson. Their offensive is slowly morphing into a powerhouse, but it all depends on whether or not Lamar Jackson can consistently throw the ball accurately. If his ball placement improves, the Ravens will wreak havoc on NFL defenses for the next 5-8 years with these playmakers. One last thing- Jaylon Ferguson may be the most productive pass rusher in college football history, and him being on the Ravens’ defense scares me.

Buffalo Bills: A-

  • Round 1 (9): Ed Oliver, DT, Houston – A+
  • Round 2 (38): Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma – A
  • Round 3 (74): Devin Singletary, RB, FAU – B
  • Round 3 (96): Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss – B+
  • Round 5 (147): Vosean Joseph, LB, Florida – B
  • Round 6 (181): Jaquan Johnson, CB/S, Miami – B
  • Round 7 (225): Darryl Johnson Jr., DE, North Carolina A&T – C
  • Round 7 (228): Tommy Sweeney, TE, Boston College – C

The Bills were lucky enough to have Ed Oliver fall to them at #9. This is what made their draft, I see him being a perennial All-Pro player in the NFL, his lateral, vertical, and north-south athleticism is off the charts, and once he fills into his frame completely, he’ll be close to unstoppable. I also really like Cody Ford, who successfully protected Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray’s respective blindsides for the past two years. I see Dawson Knox becoming a productive starter in the league, and between Singletary, Jospeh, and Jaquan Johnson, there will be at least two starters from that group. this was a fantastic draft from the rebuilding Bills.

Cincinnati Bengals: B-

  • Round 1 (11): Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama – A++
  • Round 2 (52): Drew Sample, TE, Washington – C+
  • Round 3 (72): Germaine Pratt, LB, NC State – B
  • Round 4 (104): Ryan Finley, QB, NC State – B
  • Round 4 (125): Renell Wren, DT, Arizona State – C
  • Round 4 (136): Michael Jordan, G, Ohio State – C
  • Round 6 (182): Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M – C
  • Round 6 (210): Deshaun Davis, LB, Auburn – C
  • Round 6 (211): Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma – A
  • Round 7 (223): Jordan Brown, CB, South Dakota State – C

Jonah Williams at #11 is my favorite pick of the draft, and it’s not close. He’s about as much of a sure-thing prospect as Quenton Nelson was last year, and he plays a much more valuable position. Not only did the Bengals get insane value with Williams, it was also at a position of need. The second round pick of Drew Sample fills the hole left by Tyler Kroft and the oft-injured Tyler Eifert, and Germaine Pratt will add depth at inside linebacker, their weakest position. I also really like Rodney Anderson, a big, powerful runner with receiving skills and a solid amount of elusiveness. He has severe injury concerns though.

Cleveland Browns: B+

  • Round 2 (46): Greedy Williams, CB, LSU – A
  • Round 3 (80): Sione Takitaki, LB, BYU – B
  • Round 4 (119): Sheldrick Redwine, S, Miami – B+
  • Round 5 (155): Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama – B
  • Round 5 (170): Austin Seibert, K, Oklahoma – B+
  • Round 6 (189): Drew Forbes, OT, Southeast Missouri State – B
  • Round 7 (221): Donnie Lewis Jr., CB, Tulane – C

It’s very possible that Greedy Williams and Austin Seibert end up being the only starters from the Cleveland draft class. However, Greedy Williams will be a very good starter for the Browns. It’s widely believed that Williams slid in this draft due to concerns with tackling. My response to that is the same of John Dorsey’s: “Cornerbacks are paid to cover.” Williams was the best man corner from this draft, and his long arms and good range will directly translate to the league. Denzel Ward and Greedy will make for one of the scariest secondaries in the NFL come 2022. I don’t love the selections of Sione Takitaki and Sheldrick Redwine, who are also two of my nominees for the best worst names of the draft. Redwine fills the Browns’ only true need at safety though, and I like his athletic profile. Mack Wilson is a young, raw inside linebacker with a lot of room to grow. I absolutely believe that the Browns could turn him into an impact starter. Do I think they will, though? Probably not.

Denver Broncos: A-

  • Round 1 (20): Noah Fant, TE, Iowa – B+
  • Round 2 (41): Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State – A
  • Round 2 (42): Drew Lock, QB, Missouri – A-
  • Round 3 (71): Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State – A
  • Round 5 (156): Justin Hollins, LB, Oregon – C
  • Round 6 (187): Juwann Winfree, WR, Colorado – C

The Broncos did about as much as they could’ve with the lack of picks that they had this year. They masterfully traded back from the 10th spot, acquiring the picks necessary to trade up for Drew Lock while simultaneously being able to fill a need, drafting Noah Fant, adding a playmaker that they desperately needed. With the departure of Demaryius Thomas and the tragic achilles injury to Emmanuel Sanders, there are almost zero dynamic pass-catchers on the roster, Courtland Sutton has yet to prove himself. Dalton Risner is one of the most versatile linemen in this draft class, playing highly-graded seasons at center, right tackle, and left tackle at Kansa State. He will likely become the center for the Broncos, but if needed, he can shift around the line. I didn’t love Drew Lock coming into this year’s draft, but he’s well worth the position at which the Broncos were able to select him. The biggest issue with his QB play is his inconsistent footwork, but being around two longtime NFL quarterbacks in Joe Flacco and John Elway will absolutely help him. Dre’Mont Jones was one of my favorite mid-round picks in this draft. On film, he’s an extremely slippery defensive tackle, moving laterally as if he were a linebacker. His workout numbers don’t match that, which caused him to slip in the draft. The Broncos have been thin at DT ever since the departure of Malik Jackson, Dre’Mont Jones will be a good piece for them.

Houston Texans: D+

  • Round 1 (23): Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State – C+
  • Round 2 (54): Lonnie Johnson Jr., CB, Kentucky – B-
  • Round 2 (55): Max Scharping, OT, Northern Illinois – B
  • Round 3 (86): Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State – C
  • Round 5 (161): Charles Omenihu, DE, Texas – C
  • Round 6 (195): Xaiver Crawford, CB, Central Michigan – C
  • Round 7 (220): Cullen Gillaspia, RB, Texas A&M – C

Personally, I really didn’t love what the Texans did this year. Not one of their picks was on my pre-draft Top 60 board, and they made 3 picks in the top 60. Tytus Howard felt like a total reach to me, probably as a result of the Eagles leapfrogging them to draft Andre Dillard, the far superior tackle prospect. Lonnie Johnson Jr. is a somewhat understandable pick at 54, filling the absence of Kevin Johnson and the eventual departure of Jonathan Joseph. I appreciate the Texans’ effort to bolster their offensive line, but they may have gone about it in the wrong way.

Indianapolis Colts: B+

  • Round 2 (34): Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple – B+
  • Round 2 (49): Ben Banogu, LB, TCU – A
  • Round 2 (59): Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State – A
  • Round 3 (89): Bobby Okereke, LB, Stanford – A
  • Round 4 (109): Khari Willis, S, Michigan State – B
  • Round 5 (144): Marvell Tell III, S, USC – C+
  • Round 5 (164): E.J. Speed, LB, Tarleton State – C
  • Round 6 (199): Gerri Green, DE, Mississippi State – C
  • Round 7 (240): Jackson Barton, OT, Utah – C
  • Round 7 (246): Javon Patterson, C, Ole Miss – C

Chris Ballard seems to have temporarily figured out the draft. The Colts figured out their team needs (WR, Secondary,LB), found out where the value was for these positions (picks 30-90), and put their resources into dominating that section of the draft. Rock ya-Sin is a physical, instinctual corner with a good amount of room to grow. Ben Banogu and Bobby Okereke are both ridiculous athletic specimens in pretty much opposite ways. Parris Campbell is a modern Swiss Army Knife at WR. This class could easily become as successful as their class from last year.

Jacksonville Jaguars: B-

  • Round 1 (7): Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky – A
  • Round 2 (35): Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida – N/A (Injury Questions)
  • Round 3 (69): Josh Oliver, TE, San Jose State – C
  • Round 3 (98): Quincy Williams, LB, Murray State – C
  • Round 5 (140): Ryquell Armstead, RB, Temple – C
  • Round 6 (178): Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State – C
  • Round 7 (235): Dontavius Russell, DT, Auburn – C

It’s going to be interesting to see where the Jaguars utilize Josh Allen in their front seven. His blend of size, strength, speed, and instincts already make him one of the versatile linebackers in the NFL. I hope that they use Allen in a way that’s similar to Chandler Jones in Arizona; majorily as a pass-rusher. I gave Jawaan Taylor a N/A grade, he has concerns with a degenerative knee problem. The Jaguars have no problem with taking risks on talent with injury history, though (Myles Jack). If Taylor remains healthy, he’s pretty much the perfect tackle for Jacksonville. He’s powerful and quick as a run blocker, and he’s had plenty of experience as a pass blocker too. Aside from those prospects, I don’t see much else impact from their class. Josh Oliver is a big, fast tight end that is mostly seen as a project, but he does have a relatively high ceiling.

Kansas City Chiefs: B-

  • Round 2 (56): Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia – C+
  • Round 2 (63): Juan Thornhill, CB/S, Virginia – A-
  • Round 3 (84): Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois – A
  • Round 6 (201): Rashad Fenton, CB, South Carolina – C
  • Round 6 (214): Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State – A-
  • Round 7 (216): Nick Allegretti, G, Illinois – C

The fact that Kansas City used their first pick of this years’ draft to select a small, fast, receiver highlights a more significant issue that arose this weekend. With the possible absence of Tyreke Hill for the entire 2019 season and perhaps longer, the Chiefs are thin outside the hashmarks. Before the draft, they had by far the weakest cornerback room out of any playoff team from 2018. They didn’t exactly address cornerback, either. They took Juan Thornhill in Round 2, an athletic freak that I love as a prospect. He has an athletic profile that strongly resembles Donte Whitner’s, so I don’t really know if they’ll be able to relocate him to cornerback. Khalen Saunders is possibly my favorite pick from the third round, he’s undersized but incredibly explosive, I think he can be a disruptor on the interior of Kansas City’s line. Overall, they didn’t really fill their most significant needs, but they drafted a solid amount of talent.

Los Angeles Chargers: B+

  • Round 1 (28): Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame – A
  • Round 2 (60): Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware – A
  • Round 3 (91): Trey Pipkins, OT, Sioux Falls – D
  • Round 4 (130): Drue Tranquil, LB, Notre Dame – C
  • Round 5 (166): Easton Stick, QB, North Dakota State – C
  • Round 6 (200): Emeke Egbule, LB, Houston – C
  • Round 7 (242): Cortez Broughton, DT, Cincinnati – C

For the second year in a row, the Chargers knocked it out of the park in the first round. Jerry Tillery was an extremely efficient pass-rusher at Notre Dame this past year, and he may be an immediate starter for their lackluster interior defensive line. Nasir Adderley was a best-player-available pick for Los Angeles in the second. He showed out at the Senior Bowl, and performed well in his workouts. I see them as two impact starters by the end of this season, but I don’t see much else in the rest of their draft. Trey Pipkins is pretty much the definition of a project prospect at a position that takes some time to develop. Drue Tranquil is an athletic inside linebacker, he’ll provide depth for them behind Jatavis Brown and Denzel Perryman.

Miami Dolphins: C+

  • Round 1 (13): Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson – B+
  • Round 3 (78): Michael Deiter, G, Wisconsin – B+
  • Round 5 (151): Andrew Van Ginkel, LB, Wisconsin – A-
  • Round 6 (202): Isaiah Prince, OT, Ohio State – C
  • Round 7 (233): Chandler Cox, RB, Auburn – D
  • Round 7 (234): Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington – D

The Dolphins did’t have a super flashy draft this year. With their two Top-100 picks, they elected to stay in the trenches with Wilkins and Deiter. I appreciate the Dolphins draft strategy though, linemen are the first position that you want to draft when beginning a rebuild. I like the selection of Andrew Van Ginkel, a raw, rangy inside linebackers with similarities to fellow late-round pick Fred Warner. I don’t like their late-round running back picks, they have their running back depth chart pretty much set with Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage.

New England Patriots: A

  • Round 1 (32): N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State – C
  • Round 2 (45): Joejuan Williams, CB/S, Vanderbilt – A
  • Round 3 (77): Chase Winovich, EDGE, Michigan – A
  • Round 3 (87): Damien Harris, RB, Alabama – B
  • Round 3 (101): Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia – A
  • Round 4 (118): Hijalte Froholdt, OG, Arkansas – A
  • Round 4 (133): Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn – B
  • Round 5 (159): Byron Cowart, DT, Maryland – C
  • Round 5 (163): Jake Bailey, P, Stanford –B
  • Round 7 (252): Ken Webster, CB, Ole Miss – C+

This draft would have been an A++ if it weren’t for the N’Keal Harry pick at the end of the first round. Harry is a fine prospect, he reminds me of Dez Bryant in good and bad ways. He has ideal size for a WR at 6’2″ 228 lbs, and his workout numbers are outstanding, but he struggled to create separation in college, and he definitely will struggle in the NFL. The Patriots had a need at safety before the draft due to injuries to Patrick Chung, and it seems that they selected the oversized, fast Joejuan Williams to develop as a safety. Getting Chase Winovich at 77 is a classic perfect Patriots pick. He’s a high-motor, high-production, high-athleticism player. The only reason for him to slide to the third round is the fact that he’s 24 years old, but that’s a bad excuse not to take a player like him. Yodny Cajuste and Hijalte Froholdt are both players that don’t seem like great picks right now, but after four years of coaching from Dante Scarneccia, they’ll probably be the league’s highest-paid players at their respective positions. (Sarcasm?) Jarret Stidham is a fundamentally sound QB that throws the ball inconsistently, it’ll be interesting to see if Tom Brady mentors him similarly to Jimmy Garoppolo.

New York Jets: B+

  • Round 1 (3): Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama – A
  • Round 3 (68): Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida – B+
  • Round 3 (92): Chuma Edoga, OT, USC – B
  • Round 5 (157): Blake Cashman, LB, Minnesota – B
  • Round 6 (196): Blessuan Austin, CB, Rutgers – C

The Jets had a relatively successful draft given their lack of picks. There were several reports that Quinnen Williams was the #1 player on multiple teams’ draft boards. There was even a report that Jachai Polite was the #2 pass-rusher on the Jet’s board despite his lackluster workout showings. Blake Cashman was another player that was hurt by combine his performance and measurements. It was clear that the Jets’ strategy in this draft was chasing college production. Chuma Edoga was a player the received a ton of draft hype before this college football season due to his athleticism and success protecting Sam Darnold. His play declined this year, but getting him in the late third round way a steal for the Jets. The Jets had an extremely successful offseason. They fixed their most glaring issues as well as they could have, addressing their lack of playmaking in free agency with Le’Veon Bell, and stocking up on pass rushers in the draft. Their interior offensive line is still relatively weak, but it’s not a crippling issue.

Oakland Raiders: A-

  • Round 1 (4): Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson – B+
  • Round 1 (24): Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama – C+
  • Round 1 (27): Jonathan Abram, S, Mississippi State – A
  • Round 2 (40): Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson – B+
  • Round 4 (106): Maxx Crosby, EDGE, Eastern Michigan – B
  • Round 4 (129): Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston – C
  • Round 4 (137): Foster Moreau, TE, LSU – A
  • Round 5 (149): Hunter Renfrow, WR, Clemson – C
  • Round 7 (230): Quinton Bell, DE, Prairie View A&M – C

The quality of the Raiders’ draft class may be the the most universally disagreed upon by draft analysts. Drafting a running back in the first round is pretty much criminal these days, and experts are arguing whether or not Jonathan Abram is just a box safety. Personally, I liked the Raiders’ draft. It could have been better, but it’s not going to set them back as a franchise. Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden were clear in their attempt to create a winning culture in Oakland, they drafted four players who played in this years’ CFB Championship. I love the selection of Foster Moreau late in the fourth, he has exceptional athleticism, he was a captain and leader of the LSU team for the past few years, and he fits into most blocking schemes. The Raiders had a clear plan for this year’s draft, and that’s about all you can ask for given the chaos that preceded their draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers: A-

  • Round 1 (10): Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan – A
  • Round 3 (66): Diontae Johnson, WR, Toledo – A-
  • Round 3 (83): Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State – A
  • Round 4 (122): Benny Snell Jr., RB, Kentucky – B-
  • Round 5 (141): Zach Gentry, TE, Michigan –C+
  • Round 6 (175): Sutton Smith, DE, Northern Illinois – C
  • Round 6 (192): Isaiah Buggs, DT, Alabama – C
  • Round 6 (207): Ulysses Gilbert III, LB, Akron – C
  • Round 7 (219): Derwin Gray, OT, Maryland – C

For the seventh year in a row, the Steelers have drafted a defensive player in the first round. And in the words of fellow FTS writer Adam Simkowitz, “Their defense is still not good.” I think Devin Bush will be an immediate impact player for the Steelers, I can see him finding his place in the front seven by week ten. I like the mid-round picks for Pittsburgh too. They’ve had a need for a good corner for about 25 years, so I’m guessing that Justin Layne is the answer. Diontae Johnson is a wideout that severely underperformed in the combine, but his on-field speed is unreal. He’s undersized, he creates separation at an elite level, and he’s one of the best route-runners in this class. Sound familiar? As for the rest of their draft, they seem to have picked some depth for James Conner, even though Jaylen Samuels performed at a high level as a rookie. This enables them to properly utilize Jaylen Samuels’ true versatility. Zach Gentry should end up serving as a replacement for Jesse James, who they lost to Detroit in free agency. Overall, it was a solid draft for the Steelers. Much better than last year.

Tennessee Titans: A-

  • Round 1 (19): Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State – A-
  • Round 2 (51): A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss – A
  • Round 3 (82): Nate Davis, OG, Charlotte – C
  • Round 4 (116): Amani Hooker, S, Iowa – A
  • Round 4 (121): Trevon Wesco, TE, West Virginia – B+
  • Round 5 (168): D’Andre Walker, OLB, Georgia – A
  • Round 6 (188): David Long Jr., LB, West Virginia – A

This draft for Tennessee has been par for the course on their upwards trend as a franchise. They’ve built an extremely deep roster, due to their ability to hit on a high percentage of late-round picks. Amani Hooker and D’Andre Walker were both picks of a high value, as they both produced at an elite level at their respective Power-5 schools. Amani Hooker has tackling concerns, but he’ll be able to cover well in the NFL. As for their early round picks, they selected Jeffery Simmons in the first, who’ll likely succeed Jurrell Casey as their cornerstone interior defender. He has character concerns stemming from an incident from high school, as everyone saw on national TV on Thursday, but he’s remained clean throughout college. He also tore his ACL, but it wasn’t a severe tear. It’s likely that he’ll return to full strength and go back to the extremely powerful, disruptive defender that he was at Mississippi State. A.J. Brown was my favorite receiver from the draft. He runs like a running back after the catch, and he’s able to create separation at a borderline elite level. He struggles with breaking the press, so he’ll produce the most from the slot in the league. The middle of the field will be open for him, as Delanie Walker is being phased out of the offense, and former first-rounder Corey Davis mostly works outside the hash marks. Of course all of their superb years of drafting will become obsolete if Marcus Mariota continues to be plagued by injury, never reaching his full potential.

Featured

2019 NFL Draft Grades and Analysis

With the 2019 NFL Draft all wrapped up, I will be taking a close look at many of the players selected. Here are my 1st round grades, as well as my favorite late round picks, and my winners/losers of the Draft.

Round 1 Grades

Josh Allen, #7 overall pick by JAX
  1. ARI – Kyler Murray, Oklahoma, QB: C+ – Don’t get me wrong here, I like Kyler Murray a lot. He is a dynamic athlete who proved himself to be elite during his collegiate career. As much as I like Murray, I think the Cardinals really put themselves in a bad spot with Josh Rosen. After taking Murray every team knew Rosen was going to be moved, so Arizona lost all leverage. They wound up trading Rosen for what should be an early 2nd round pick as well as a 5th. That is just inadequate for someone who was picked 10th overall just one year ago. Had Rosen be dealt before, this pick would’ve received a better grade, but the Cardinals handled this situation poorly in my opinion.
  2. SF – Nick Bosa, Ohio State, DE: A – Much like his brother, Joey Bosa, Nick was well worthy of a top three pick. It was between Bosa and Quinnen Williams for the 49ers, and they obviously felt like Bosa fit their defensive scheme better. Nick may indeed be better than his brother, so there’s really nothing bad to say about this pick.
  3. NYJ – Quinnen Williams, Alabama, DT: A – The Jets were either going to go with Bosa or Williams, whoever the 49ers passed on. After Bosa was taken 2nd, the choice here was obvious. Williams is one of the two defenders in this draft who I have absolutely no doubt will be a star in the NFL. Being paired with Leonard Williams gives the Jets a scary combo up front.
  4. OAK – Clelin Ferrell, Clemson, DE: D – This was probably my least favorite pick of the 1st round. In my mock draft, I had Ferrell at 19, and I haven’t seen him in the top 10 of any other mock. Now if Ferrell was really the guy the Raiders wanted, they easily could have traded down with a team like the Steelers, Packers or the Redskins. A guy like Josh Allen or Jonah Williams could have been a bitter pick here.
  5. TB – Devin White, LSU, ILB: A- – There wasn’t a better Kwon Alexander replacement than Devin White in the draft. White will pair with Lavonte David nicely, giving the Buccaneers two elite linebackers one again. The only other spot the Bucs could have gone this early was with a O-lineman, but David will make their defense so much better.
  6. NYG – Daniel Jones, Duke, QB: C – The more I’ve thought about this pick the less I hate it. Yes, the Giants did take Jones too early, but I feel like someone with his personality is needed in a city such as New York. Dave Gettleman obviously felt the same way, using his top pick on his Eli Manning replacement. I gave this pick a C just because Jones would likely have been available at 17, which would have allowed the Giants to get Josh Allen with this pick.
  7. JAX – Josh Allen, Kentucky, OLB: A – The Jags could not have been happier with the way things unfolded in the top 6. I’m sure they expected Allen, Williams, and Bosa all be gone by 7, but the sup-rise selection of Clelin Ferrell gave the Jags to snag Allen. Getting Allen at 7 gives Jacksonville its 4th above average D-lineman on an already stacked defense.
  8. DET – T.J. Hockenson, Iowa, TE: B+ – Joining an extremely well rounded squad, Hockenson should succeed with the Lions. Dynamic both as a pass-catcher and as a blocker, he gives Detroit an elite option at TE. Even if it doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet, Hockenson is a guy who will contribute in more ways than one.
  9. BUF – Ed Oliver, Houston, DT: B+ – As a team with so many holes on the roster, the Bills were wise to go with the top talent on the board. Ed Oliver reminds me think of a guy like Oliver Vernon, who can get to the QB and disrupt the run game.
  10. PIT – Devin Bush, Michigan, ILB: B- – Trading up to select Devin Bush in the top 10 was a very surprising move by Pittsburgh. Giving up their 1st and 2nd round in the 2019 draft as well as a 2020 3rd, the cost was quite steep. While I believe Bush can fill the void left by Ryan Shazier’s devastating injury, I would question if giving up 3 early round picks was worth it.
  11. CIN – Jonah Williams, Alabama, OT: A – This is exactly where I mocked Williams to go, and I still believe it is the best match for him. The Bengals desperately needed help on the O-line, and Williams is someone who I consider to have the potential to be a well above average LT. The only other two picks the Bengals might have taken here (Devin Bush/Devin White) were already off the board, so Williams was a very smart choice.
  12. GB – Rashan Gary, Michigan, DE: C+ – I’m personally not a huge fan of Rashan Gary, so I feel like a guy like Christian Wilkins or Jeffery Simmons would have been a better selection here. In college, Gary was very good in the run game, but really lacked explosiveness in the pass rush. The guy the Packers were looking to get, TJ Hockenson, was off the board at 12, so they really missed out on their first choice.
  13. MIA – Christian Wilkins, Clemson, DT: A- – I really like this pick for the Dolphins here. Since the Josh Rosen trade was already in the works, QB wasn’t a need here, and Wilkins was the best available player. Wilkins was ranked among the top two at his position in both run defense and pass rushing. Not only is Wilkins great on the field, but he is a well rounded individual who will be a defensive leader as well.
  14. ATL – Chris Lindstrom, Boston College, OG: B- – Lindstrom is a pretty solid addition to the Falcons O-line which already features two above average linemen in Alex Mack and Jake Matthews. He should help injury-prone Devonte Freeman stay on the field most of the season, especially with the loss of fellow RB, Tevin Coleman.
  15. WAS – Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State, QB: A- – The Redskins must have though Haskins would be gone by now. The Cardinals, Giants, Broncos, Bengals, Dolphins, and maybe even the Raiders, were all though to be looking at QBs in the 1st round. As it turns out, only two teams took QBs ahead of the Redskins, one being someone they were likely not interested in anyways (Daniel Jones). Getting Haskins at 15 give the Skins a quality QB prospect at a very good value.
  16. CAR – Brian Burns, Florida State, OLB: B+ – An athletic specimen, Burns’ explosiveness off the line of scrimmage will no doubt make an impact in the NFL. Burns should be able to get 8+ sacks a season since he shouldn’t be having to face many double teams.
  17. NYG – Dexter Lawrence, Clemson, DT: B+ – A true big fella, Lawrence ranked in the top six in both run stopping and pass rush defense. I feel like Lawrence could have a similar presence to former Giants, Damon Harrison in the run game, while being more of a factor in pass rush as well.
  18. MIN – Garrett Bradbury, NC State, C: B- – The Vikings offensive line healthy has struggled as of late, so it can’t hurt to add a 1st round center into the mix. Without any other glaring holes on either offense or defense, selecting an O-lineman was a good choice for Minnesota.
  19. TEN – Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State, DT: A- – Simmons could be one of the biggest steals of the draft. Had he not torn his ACL earlier in the season, Simmons would have surely been taken in the top 10. Simmons is joining what I believe to be the most underrated defense in all of the NFL. Looking through their depth chart, there is not a single defensive starter who I would consider to be below average, so Simmons makes that defense even better.
  20. DEN – Noah Fant, Iowa, TE: B+ – When I see Noah Fant, I am instantly reminded of O.J. Howard. An outlier at the TE position, Fant’s extreme athleticism should cause mismatches against linebackers or cornerbacks that try to cover him. While he is not the blocker that former Iowa teammate TJ Hockenson is, Fant’s athleticism and verticality are both far superior.
  21. GB – Darnell Savage Jr., Maryland, S: C+ – At the time this was a pretty good pick, getting a solid safety for a team with a weak secondary. As it turns out, safeties were not highly sought after, so they could have waited till their 2nd round pick to draft a safety. Had they done that they could have still got a guy like Taylor Rapp or Chauncey Gardner-Johnson while freeing up a pick for any other need.
  22. PHI – Andre Dillard, Washington State, OT: A+ – What a move this was by the Eagles. Trading up right in front of Houston really ruined the Texans’ selection while giving the Eagles a very high quality blocker who can take over for the aging Jason Peters.
  23. HOU – Tytus Howard, Alabama State, OT: C+ – After loosing out on their obvious target, Andre Dillard, the Texans had to look elsewhere for offensive line help. Unfortunately for the Texans, they did not really pick an NFL ready guy. More of a project, Howard will not be starting close to the same level as Dillard or other options that the Texans could have went for like Dalton Risner or Jawaan Taylor.
  24. OAK – Josh Jacobs, Alabama, RB: B- – Jacobs is one of the bright spots in an extremely weak RB class. This being said, I don’t believe he, or anyone else in the class, was worthy of a 1st round selection. Running behind a below average O-line won’t help Jacobs either, so I’d expect his production to be limited early on.
  25. BAL – Marquise Brown, Oklahoma, WR: B – The first WR off the board, the Ravens definitely did need to fill the wide receiver spot. Lamar Jackson desperately needs weapons, as he can’t perform as a runner without downfield threats. Brown is a vertical target, who can be used to help Lamar Jackson become more of a passer.
  26. WAS – Montez Sweat, Mississippi State, DE: A+ – By far the best athlete at his position, Sweat fell due to health concerns. Reports are out now stating that these conditions were incorrectly measured, so the Redskins felt like he would be worth a gamble. If healthy, Sweat could be one of the biggest steals of the first round.
  27. OAK – Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State, S: C – The 3rd first round pick of the Raiders, and another guy I’m not a huge fan of. I feel like Abram wasn’t even one of the best safeties available at the time, with 2-3 other guys I liked better. I’m not sure what the Raiders were thinking with their three 1st round picks, but as of now, I can’t say I’d be happy as a Raiders fan.
  28. LAC – Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame, DT: B – One of the best interior defenders in the pass rush, Tillery is joining a stacked Los Angeles defensive line. Not a real flashy guy, Tillery will be able to face 1-on-1 matchups almost 100% of the time, with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the ends.
  29. SEA – L.J. Collier, TCU, DE: B – The Seahawks are going to need lots of time to bring their defense anywhere near the level it was a few years ago. I’d expect many early round picks in 2020 spent on defense as well. Collier is a quality end, someone to lessen the loss of Frank Clark. Unfortunately this means that the Seattle offensive line will likely struggle once again, making Russell Wilson’s job a lot harder.
  30. NYG – Deandre Baker, Georgia, CB: A+ – One of the best picks of the first round, the Giants traded up to select Baker, the first CB off the board. I was amazed no other corner was taken before 30, and the Giants obviously felt like Baker was a bargain here. Had it not been for character issues, Baker would have been taken well before this pick, so I believe that the Giants got lucky no other team was willing to select him.
  31. ATL – Kaleb McGary, Washington, OT: C+ – After drafting offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom, the Falcons went right back to the same spot, getting tackle Kaleb McGary. I don’t think McGary is anywhere near the play Lindstrom is, and one of his biggest issues is excessive amounts of penalties. If McGary can’t fix that, then there will be no way for him to succeed in the NFL
  32. NE – N’Keal Harry, Arizona State, WR: B- – While receiver was definitely a need for the Patriots, I was a bit suprised that N’Keal Harry was there guy here. With DK Metcalf, AJ Brown, Parris Cambell, and Deebo Samuel all on the board. Harry will fill the question mark left by Josh Gordon, but we will have to look back to see if he was the best option.

Best Late Round Picks of the Draft

ARI – Byron Murphy: 2nd (33rd) – The first pick of the 2nd round, the Cardinals must have been estate when day one ended, knowing they’d select Murphy the next day. Arguably the best CB in the draft, Murphy was a first round talent who happened to fall based upon team needs.

DEN – Dalton Risner/Drew Lock: 2nd (41st/42nd) – Two back to back picks for the Broncos resulted in a much improved offense. With Noah Fant taken in the 1st round, that totals to three talented players being added to the Broncos roster. Risner is an extremely versatile lineman who played all over the place for Kansas State. Drew Lock, My 3rd ranked QB, gets Risner for protection, and a receiving TE to throw to as well. Going into the 2019 season and beyond, I’d expect the Broncos offense to be much better than in the past.

CLE – Greedy Williams: 2nd (46th) – After trading their 1st round pick for Odell Beckham Jr., the Browns could not have expected to land a player of Greedy Williams’ caliber. One of the top tier CBs in the draft, the Browns now have Williams to pair with rising star, Denzel Ward.

LAC/LAR – Nasir Adderley/Taylor Rapp: 2nd (60th/61st) – Adderley and Rapp were two safeties that I surely though would be gome by the very end of the 2nd round. Fourtunatly for the two already stacked defenses of the Chargers and Rams, Adderley and Rapp fell into their laps. Rapp was one of the best tackling safeties in all of college football, so he will be a major presence for the Rams. Adderley is the best coverage safety of the class in my opinion, so he will be a big factor for the Chargers’ defense as well.

SEA – DK Metcalf: 2nd (64th) – Metcalf was my #1 receiver in the class, so for Seattle to get him at the very end of the 2nd is a steal in my book. Metcalf will replace Doug Baldwin as WR1, although he is a different type of player. One of the best athletes out there, Metcalf should have decent production, even on a run-heavy team like Seattle.

NYJ – Jachai Polite: 3rd (68th) – Had it not been for disastrous results at his pro days and the combine, Polite would have been picked 1st or early 2nd round. Looking to prove doubters wrong, Polite should be very good at putting pressure on the QB, while being a decent run stopper, and even dropping into coverage on occasion.

NE – Chase Winovich: 3rd (77th) – Winovich is a guy I think will really thrive in New England. One of the more underrated prospects, Winovich couldn’t have been selected to a better team to reach his potential. I definitely see Winovich becoming an above-average player, if not even better, possibly like former Patriot, Rob Ninkovich.

NYG – Oshane Ximines: 3rd (95th) – Ximines is a guy I really like for the Giants. A lot of people thought that New York would select Josh Allen with their 6th overall pick but they instead went for Daniel Jones. Later in the 1st round they got Dexter Lawrence, who is an interior presence. One other spot they really needed was edge rusher, so getting a value guy like Ximines is a great pick. After starring at Old Dominion, Ximines has a very good chance to start for the Giants as early as this year.

CAR – Will Grier: 3rd (100th) – This pick is based on the future of the franchise. Cam Newton has been suffering from shoulder problems, and his performance has been effected by that. Under contract only two more seasons, Grier could save the Panthers from spending big on Newton. I considered Grier to be a 2nd round pick, so they also got good value snagging him late 3rd.

NO – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson: 4th (105th) – Gardner-Johnson was another DB who I was surprised to see fall this late. After performing really well in his last season at Florida, and a very respectable showing at the Scouting Combine, I figured Gardner-Johnson to go late 2nd. Luckily for the Saints, they were able to grab him in the early 4th round, adding him to an already young secondary.

NYG – Julian Love: 4th (108th) – Another pick I like by the Giants, Love will be a very good CB, a position which the Giants really need. Love should be paired up with fellow 2019 draftee, Deandre Baker for many years to come.

TEN – Amani Hooker: 4th (116th) – A really high ceiling safety, Hooker should have time to develop on a loaded Titans defense, but he should also be able to make in impact in the short term as well. The hope is that Hooker’s great coverage skills will translate into the NFL, making for a versatile safety to pair with Byard.

Winners

Kyler Murray #1 overall pick by ARI

Kyler Murray – Being picked 1st overall, it’s hard not to be considered a winner. Proving to any doubters about his size wrong, Murray earned this selection with his elite performance. Also, after giving up a massive signing bonus from the Oakland Athletics, had he fallen down the board, he would have been losing millions.

Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals really cleaned up this draft. Not only did they get their franchise quarterback, but they added three quality WRs for him to throw to. On the defensive side, defensive backs Byron Murphy and Deionte Thompson were both great value picks. I also like Zach Allen a lot, making for an extremely deep draft for the Cards.

Drew Lock – Luckily for Lock, he was drafted to a team where he will surely become the starting QB by year two, if not before. Joe Flacco is clearly not the answer for Denver, so Lock should have the job whenever he is ready. Conveniently for Lock, Denver just added a great pass protecter in Dalton Risner as well as a great pass-catching TE in Noah Fant.

New York Giants/Dave Gettleman – After what seemed like a disastrous pick at #6 overall with Daniel Jones, the Giants really recovered with a pair of excellent selections in the 1st round. Dexter Lawrence and Deandre Baker are elite defenders, both in the conversation for being the best at their respective positions in the draft class. Their 3rd and 4th round picks, Oshane Ximines and Julian Love, were both value picks, and should contribute as soon as this year.

Losers

Josh Rosen – It can’t feel that good being given up on in under a year. Hours after the Cardinal’s selection of Kyler Murray, Rosen was on his way to Miami via a trade. The former 10th overall pick will be joining a very weak offensive team, where I doubt he’ll find too much success right away. With a pretty terrible offensive line, and close to no offensive weapons, it wouldn’t surprise me if Rosen performs a lot worse than he did with the Cardinals.

A.J. Brown – Tennessee might just be the worst team for a WR to be drafted to. An extremely run heavy team, even the QB, Marcus Mariota’s game is more based on the run. 5th overall pick in 2017, Corey Davis, found trouble reaching his potential in his first two seasons in Tennessee, and I fear Brown will experience the same troubles. Brown would have been much better off going to a team like the Patriots, who instead took K’Neal Harry over Brown.

Oakland Raiders – Being a team with holes all around the roster, Oakland should have been taking the best available with their first few picks. Starting off with Clelin Ferrell at 4th was a huge mistake in my opinion. There were at least 5-6 guys that would have been better picks, or trading down would have been a much better option. I don’t think the Raiders got much talent on the back end of their draft either, making for a terrible draft. Considering Oakland had some of the best draft capital (3 first round picks), I couldn’t be more disappointed with the Raiders selections.

Cam Newton – With the selection of Will Grier, it is apparent that the Panthers don’t fully believe that Newton is 100% healthy. After undergoing two shoulder surgeries, Newton may not be the same QB he was during his electric first few seasons. The hope is Grier’s presence will give Newton extra motivation to pick up his performance, and if not, be a replacement in 2021.

Te’Von Coney – Coney was someone I though would be gone by the late 2nd-early 4th. For whatever reason, Coney would up being undrafted before signing a deal with the Raiders. I’m sure Coney thought he could be picked day two as well, and he must have been shocked to not hear his name called on day three.

Houston Texans – There’s not much to say here other than the Texans just had a really bad draft. After missing out on Andre Dillard, Houston took a lottery ticket in Tytus Howard, not someone many considered to be 1st round worthy. Lonnie Johnson may wind up being a decent cornerback, but other than that, there isn’t anyone else I like in Houston’s draft class.

Russell Wilson, SEA

Russell Wilson – I’m sure Wilson thought he’d get some help on the O-line within the first two rounds, but three Seattle’s first five picks were on defense. DK Metcalf and Gary Jennings give Wilson a couple decent receiving options, but it’s unlikely they’ll have the same impact a healthy Doug Baldwin did, who is considering retirement. Also neither will make an impact when it comes to pass protection, on a O-line that has struggled many years in a row. Wilson will also be facing newly improved NFC West defenses which include additions of Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Jason Verrett, Kwon Alexander, Jordan Hicks, Terrelle Suggs, Byron Murphy, Taylor Rapp, and Clay Matthews. Couple that with the fact Wilson lacks pass protection and elite receiving options, 2019 is shaping up to be a bad year for Wilson.

Defensive Backs – With no defensive backs selected in the top 20, and only three DBs taken in the first round, I was very surprised to see many cornerbacks and safeties fall. Guys like Byron Murphy, Greedy Williams, Taylor Rapp, Nasir Adderly, and Deionte Thompson I expected to fall somewhere in the late 1st round, but most fell outside the top 50.

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Mid-Major Dive

McKillop Court at Belk Arena in Davidson, North Carolina

This is going to be a new series I am going to start about diving into about different Mid-Major teams. Mid-Majors have it rough and usually are these cinderella stories who somehow preform in the NCAA tournament. This is going to look into their returning players and their schedules once they come out, or if some have been announced.

Our first team will be my favorite, Davidson Wildcats.

Davidson finished the season at 24-10 after a tough loss to Lipscomb in the NIT tournament. A 14-4 conference campaign in the A-10 and and a bad loss in the A-10 tournament left the Wildcats a bit stunned for this offseason. Bad early season losses against Temple and Wake Forest really looked bad on the résumé. As for the A-10, most of their losses were ones that shouldn’t have happened, the Saint Joseph loss by 1 early, a 3 point loss to UMASS, and a 1 point loss at home to Dayton were tough to swallow for the Cats. Davidson was eliminated from the A-10 conference tournament with a 23 point loss to Saint Louis and then again eliminated from the NIT with a 8 point loss to Lipscomb.

After a terrible way to end their season, and definitely undeserved, the Wildcats were hit with two bombshells on the same day. BOTH Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson declared for the NBA Draft. They are going to have until into June to decide if they are going to return to school for this upcoming year. Without these two, Davidson is going to have a very hard time finding any sort of success next year. 6’5″ guard Luke Frampton had a really good redshirt freshman year, and if Grady and Gudmundsson come back, these three could be a real threat within the A-10. Luka Brajkovic had a very good freshman year and is the first player in a long time to add a true post feel to McKillop’s offense. Davidson’s success is going to completely depend on Grady and Gudmundsson for next season.

As for the upcoming season, Davidson has announced it will be competing in the 2020 Maui Jim Maui Invitational. A decent field will provide the Wildcats a chance to show everyone that they are a true tournament team. Included in the field, Alabama, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas, and UNLV.

Projection for next season: With Grady and Gudmundsson: above 20 wins, below 15 losses, NCAA Tournament appearance; Without Grady and Gudmundsson: around .500 record, no postseason appearance

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Prospect Profile: Ke’Bryan Hayes, PIT

Ke’Bryan Hayes fielding ground balls at third base.

Pirates third baseman, Ke’Bryan Hayes, is the focus in the third article of the “Prospect Profile” series

Height:6’1″ Weight: 210 lbs. Age: 22

Position: 3B Bats/Throws: R/R ETA: Mid 2019

Overview: The best tool of Ke’Bryan Hayes is no doubt his glove. While his hit tool is very developed as well, the fielding abilities could easily win him a Gold Glove within his first few season in the MLB. Already participating in many “big stage” events such as the Futures Game and the Double-A All Star Game, Hayes has proven he is ready for the majors. After finishing 2018 at Double-A Altoona, Hayes has little left to prove at Triple-A, and should be up in Pittsburgh within a few months.

Part of a pretty depleted Pittsburgh farm system, Hayes is one of the few bright spots for Pirates fans. After seeing fellow top prospects Cole Tucker and Bryan Reynolds called up to Pittsburgh this past week, Hayes is not far behind. In what will be a rejuvenating boost for a lacking Pirates roster, Hayes will likely be better than both Reynolds and Tucker. Pirates top pitching prospect, Mitch Keller, should be up around the same time as Hayes, as bother are currently in Triple-A.

Ceiling: Miguel Andujar – Another young 3rd basemen, Andujar’s minor league numbers are not too far off Hayes’. Not showing too much power his first few seasons, Andujar really picked it up by year four. I think it is very realistic to see Hayes doing the same, as both have almost identical height/weight and similar body types. Comparable to Andujar, Hayes could hit around .280 while staying in the low 20s/high teens in terms of HRs. An advantage of Hayes is that he is much more fluid at 3rd base, a position which requires advanced defensive skills.

Projection: Martin Prado – One of the most underrated contact hitters, Prado is a guy who doesn’t have too much power, but contributes in many other ways. I see him as a very similar player, not only on the field, but in the clubhouse as well. Both Prado and Hayes have a reputation to be very great in the locker room, a plus to any athlete. Although Prado is in his mid 30s now, Hayes could very well be like Prado in his prime, with a high AVG, 10-15 HRs, 10 SBs, all while being an elite defender as well.

Floor: Yangervis Solarte – A decent ballplayer, Solarte has been around for a while putting up solid (not great) numbers. I’d say this would be Hayes at his worst, just because I’d would find it hard to believe that someone with his vision at the plate would be a below average hitter. No matter his struggles at the plate, Hayes will always be a great defender at any level.

Player Grades: Contact: A Power: B- Speed: B Fielding: A Arm: A Potential: B+ Overall: B

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Early PGA Championship Predictions

Bethpage Black 18th Hole

Bethpage Black is the next course to host a major. We last saw this course during the FedEx Cup a few years back in 2016, and the last major there was the 2009 U.S. Open, the one where Lucas Glover one. Cannot say I expect a repeat of that this year. Back then the course played as a par 70 and at 7,426 yards, and when Patrick Reed won it back in 2016, it was a par 71. Both cuts were similar, 2009 it was 4 over par, and 2016 it was 3 over par. Sean O’Hair finished top 10 in both, but I also don’t see that happening again this year. Maybe he will have a round like major championship round one Charley Hoffman, but like Charley Hoffman, he won’t keep it up. As for finalist in the ’09 U.S. Open, Tiger back-doored a top-10 finish, as well as Sergio, and Rory. Hunter Mahan tied Tiger at T6 and Phil Mickelson finished T2, 2 shots back.

This post I am going to analyze a couple of dark horses, front-runners, and questionable players and dive into the PGA Championship.

Front Runners

#1. Dustin Johnson

Pretty much an obvious pick here, not much surprise. However, Dustin has not had his best even though he remains ranked number one in the world, or battling Justin Rose for it. Most recently shooting 6 over in the final round at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town finishing T28. Had a runner-up finish at The Master behind great, consistent play all week, a T5 at The Players finishing 3 shots back, and a runaway 5 shot victory down in Mexico at the WGC. In 2016 Dustin finished T18 at 2 under par during The Barclays, and made the cut but finished T-40 at the 2009 U.S. Open. Expect a made cut and a high finish.

#2. Rory McIlroy

Yet another pretty obvious selection. Rory is always a favorite for pretty much any tournament he enters in. A pretty poor couple of years from Rory ever since that FedEx Cup victory, Rory is back trending upwards. A two-time winner of the PGA, his last major victory was the 2014 PGA Championship. As of late however, he’s won the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational, and the 2019 Players Championship. As of his career at Bethpage, he finished at even and a 31 in 2016, and just slid into a top 10 finish in 2009. Expect him to play well at Bethpage this year.

#3. Brooks Koepka

Consistent theme, an obvious choice. Out of my front-runner choices, I like Koepka the best to win. Seems like he only wins major championships. The first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to defend U.S. Open victories. He’s got 5 victories on tour, 3 are majors. He just shows up when it matters, clutch gene. Its hard to say this because I don’t like to judge past results in the PGA, but he has played well in this event. Finished T70 at 7 over par in 2016 at The Barclays, I do not think Koepka will play well during the PGA.

Dark Horses

#1. Rickie Fowler

Now most of these Dark Horses are going to seem like Front-runners, but this is my opinion on these players. Fowler has played well this year, and seems like he’s always in the conversation to win majors. Picking up a win at the Waste-Management Open, Rickie just does not seem to have the game to win a major, but yet, at some points, Rickie shows us he could win anything. A very consistent player, Rickie will make the cut like he typically does, and last time at this course, he finished T7 after a very disappointing final round 74. I predict the 10th ranked player in the world to finish strong and inside the top-1o, and maybe even win.

#2. Tony Finau

Finau had a great 2019 Master, playing in the final group with Tiger and ultimately finishing T5. With only one PGA Tour victory under his belt coming way back in 2016, and even in a event that was on a off week. Finau had a fantastic 2018 major campaign. Top 10 finishes in The Masters, U.S. Open, and British Open. Last years PGA Championship saw Finau finish at T42. With the power that he has, and his ability to show up in majors, especially playing well as of late, I expect Finau to have a good week. He also finished solo 12th at 4 under during The Barclays back in 2016. I think Finau will make the cut and finish high.

#3. Matt Kuchar

He’s got 9 PGA Tour Victories, and 2019 is proving to be a GREAT year for Matt. Picking up a early victories down in Mayakoba and Hawaii, the most negative thing was the whole caddie situation. Kuchar seems like he is just a sneaky guy who can maybe get the job done. But a T64 finish back in 2016 at Bethpage has me wondering if this time is the time that Matt finally captures a major. The 2019 PGA Championship just does not feel like a tournament or major that Matt is going to win.

#4. Louis Oosthuizen

One of the best, if not THE best swings on tour, the results do not show how good it is. He ran away with the Open Championship back in 2010 winning by 7 shots, he lost in a playoff in both the 2012 Masters, and the 2015 Open Championship. A solid T7 finish at The Masters this year definitely has me interested in Oosthuizen’s stock. A very good T18 finish back in 2016 was behind a final round 67. I think that Louis is going to have a fantastic week during the PGA and I am excited to watch him.

#5. Patrick Reed

Reed has a decent track record coming into this event. He has won a couple of PGA Tour Events, he won The Masters a year ago, and back in 2016 he won The Barclays at Bethpage Black. Ranked 19th in the world, Reed has not had a great 2019 campaign. His highest finish this year comes at Sony down in Hawaii and Famers Insurance Open, both in which he finished T13. Being a past champion at Bethpage means a lot due to the difficulty of the course. And also being a past major champion gives a lot of confidence as well, especially to Patrick. However, a tough go of things in 2019 is proving tough to decide how he is going to play. Expect him to make the cut and play well on the weekend.

Questionable Players

#1. Jordan Spieth

I think everyone can agree, this is the top choice as to questionable players right now. His last win was the 2017 Open Championship, and since them we have seen him fall all the way to 35th in the Official World Golf Rankings. A rough 2018 season left Jordan stunned when he did not make it all the way to East Lake. And things seem to be carrying over into 2019. His highest finish for the year is a T21 at The Masters. Jordan has just gotten way to technical with his swing and his putting. Once that putter is cooking like it was back in 2015, expect Spieth to return to the top. However, playing like this is good for one thing for Spieth. He is trying to complete the career grand slam, and a PGA Championship where he is freed up and the main thing on his mind isn’t the grand slam, could prove to benefit him. Finishing T10 is going to help Jordan a lot, but winning seems like it won’t happen for Spieth. I expect him to not play well, maybe even miss the cut.

#2. Justin Rose

For some reason, Rose just seems shaky to me. He picked up a early win at the Farmers Insurance Open, but a recent missed cut at The Masters has me thinking Rose won’t play well during the PGA. Ranked 2nd in the world currently, and trading off frequently with Dustin Johnson, Rose is quiet and not talked about. And that is what leads to the questions around him. He has not played many events in 2019, and I really don’t expect him to play all that well during the PGA. He finished T31 during The Barclays at even par for the week.

#3. John Rahm

Rahm has not won on the PGA Tour since the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge if you don’t count the Hero World. After that win he was ranked 2nd in the world and has since dropped 11th. And a terrible shot out of a fairway bunker cost him a chance to win The Players. A T9 finish at The Masters after playing the first two rounds with Tiger is extremely good. Rahm needs to manage his emotions to be able to win. And he needs to do it even better during the week of a major. I expect Rahm to make the cut and play well, I don’t think he will win.

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2019 NFL Mock Draft (1st Round)

With the 2019 NFL draft right around the corner, now is the best time to release a mock draft. Only 2 days away, the hype and buzz around certain prospects is at its highest. These selections are based off of hours of analysis put into player strengths/weaknesses and team needs, as well as advanced analytics and film studies.

Top Prospects Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray, Joey Bosa, and Quinnen Williams

2019 NFL MOCK DRAFT:

  1. ARI: Kyler Murray – This is the most obvious pick of the draft. With the idea of baseball in the rear-view mirror, Murray is fully committed to the sport he loves. Giving up on a first round pick (#10) after just one season is not inspiring, but the Cardinals obviously feel like Josh Rosen does not fit the role. Getting a generational talent like Kyler Murray will be a game-changer for the Cardinals, but don’t expect a huge return on Josh Rosen. COMP: Russell Wilson
  2. SF: Nick Bosa – While the 49ers have used their most recent 1st round picks for defensive stars, none compare to the talent and potential of Bosa. Adding a potential All-Pro would make the 49ers in the running for best defense in the NFL. COMP: Joey Bosa
  3. NYJ: Quinnen Williams – A rebuilding team like the 49ers, the Jets have focused the rebuild on defense. After adding 2 starting safeties in the 2017 draft and adding a pair of talented linebackers during free agency, an addition to Leonard Williams would greatly improve the defensive line. As one of the highest graded players in the draft it is possible he is off the board before #3. COMP: Gerald McCoy
  4. OAK: Ed Oliver – For the past 3 seasons Oliver has shown consistent play on an elite level. While Oakland could go with Josh Allen or Montez Sweat here, Oliver is the safer pick and could make Oakland a sneaky good team. COMP: Sheldon Richardson
  5. TB: Josh Allen – Josh Allen would be the perfect fit for the Buccaneers. With the aging Jason Pierre-Paul and Gerald McCoy, Allen would be paired with another early first round pick in Vita Vea for years to come. While they could use help on offense, Allen is the best player available and they would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to get one of the game’s next great talents. COMP: Leonard Floyd
  6. NYG: Dwayne Haskins – It is increasingly apparent that Eli Manning is not capable of manning the Giants. After the loss of Odell Beckham, his weapons have become depleted, so it is needless to say he will not be successful. This is likely a situation in which Dwayne Haskins would be mentored for the season, but if Mannings struggles continue, I would expect Haskins to be given opportunities as the season progresses. COMP: Jameis Winston
  7. JAX: Jawaan Taylor – While Blake Bortles replacement, Nick Foles, might not be miles above him, Jacksonville’s receiving core is an extremely underrated, well rounded group. With really only TE and OT being weak spots on offense, the Jags would be wise to take the most projectable O-linemen of the class. Taylor would be an excellent run-blocker for Leonard Fournette. COMP: Taylor Lewan
  8. DET: Montez Sweat – With Ezekiel Ansah likely moving on, Montez Sweat would be an ideal replacement. An explosive and athletic edge rusher, Sweat is also the top remaining talent. As a team with many holes, Detroit may as well take the best and hope to get lucky in the later rounds. COMP: Carlos Dunlap
  9. BUF: Devin White – There are not many positions at which the Bills can say “we’re set”, so they may as well go for the player with the highest potential. White is an excellent cover LB and he will prove valuable as Buffalo continues its rebuild. COMP: Deion Jones
  10. DEN: Drew Lock – Joe Flacco is obviously not the answer for Denver. With Haskins and Murray likely off the board at 10, I could see Denver trying to trade up for one of those guys, or trading down for multiple picks. If sticking at the 10, Denver should try to get a capable QB who can lead their team. While Lock may be a good bit behind Haskins and Murray, he is the next best option at a position which the Broncos desperately need COMP: Andy Dalton
  11. CIN: Jonah Williams – Arguably the best offensive linemen of the class, the Bengals could use an elite O-linemen to help improve their offense. With a surprising amount of depth at WR, RB, and TE, Williams could take the Bengals offense to the next level. COMP: Jake Matthews
  12. GB: TJ Hockenson – Jimmy Graham has not been the dynamic presence that he was as a member of the Saints and Seahawks. Yes, the Packers could opt to go for a receiver or O-lineman, but Hockenson is one of only a few elite TE prospects and they would be foolish to pass on him. While he is not the athletic receiver like former teammate Noah Fant is, Hockenson is an elite blocker and will contribute in more ways than one. COMP: Cameron Brate
  13. MIA: Rashan Gary – At 13, Rashan Gary is not someone who will be an All-Pro player as he does not have the ceiling of guys like Montez Sweat or Josh Allen. Gary is someone who will be a quality starter, who is above league average. Not the most exciting pick, but he would be just the start of Miami’s defensive makeover. COMP: Worse Bradley Chubb
  14. ATL: Greedy Williams – With the majority of positions on offense set, the Falcons will likely decide to spend their 1st rounder on a defensive stud. I could see them going either LB or CB here, but in this scenario, Greedy Williams is who the Falcons should take. Adding Williams to a secondary already infused with talent like Desmond Trufant, Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen would vault the Falcons secondary into the elite status. COMP: Eli Apple
  15. WSH: Devin Bush – While Christian Wilkins would be a great pick here, the Redskins just don’t have the need for another defensive lineman. Adding a great coverage LB like Bush would allow the strong pass rushers more time to get to the QB. Adding Bush along with Landon Collins would make the 2019 Redskins defense a completely different squad. COMP: Myles Jack
  16. CAR: Christian Wilkins – Wilkins might be one of the steals of the draft. After 3 quality seasons at Clemson, Wilkins had an even better breakout season in 2018. Joining an already solid D-line in Carolina, Wilkins would be a nightmare for opposing offensive coordinators and would help make up for the Panther’s weak secondary. COMP: Fletcher Cox
  17. NYG: DK Metcalf – What better way to help a rookie QB then adding the top WR of the draft? Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley are all very good pass catchers, but adding Metcalf as a deep threat would allow Haskins to flourish for years to come. Even after losing Odell Beckham via trade, adding these two weapons could keep the offense at the same level, or even above that. COMP: Tyler Boyd
  18. MIN: Andre Dillard – Without many holes on the roster, Minnesota would be wise to improve upon one of their worst positions. Dillard might not able to make the Vikings O-line very strong by himself, but if they could manage to use 1-2 mid round picks on O-line guys, Minnesota would have a top 5 team. COMP: Garrett Bolles
  19. TEN: Clelin Ferrell – Tennessee has a very well balanced roster. Being what might be one of the most underrated teams, there is no real spot which the Titans desperately need. That being said, Ferrell would give Tennessee a great pass rusher, as well as someone who can help clog up the run game. COMP: Kevin Dodd
  20. PIT: Brian Burns – I would see the Steelers going for a receiver here, but with a pretty weak WR class, I would think they wait until the 2nd round before going WR. Burns would give the Steelers much needed depth, and a pass-rusher who will excel at disrupting the QB. COMP: Barkevious Mingo
  21. SEA: Dalton Risner – Seattle has had one of the worst offensive lines for the past few years. Dalton Risner could be the best O-lineman of the draft. At Kansas State, Risner performed at an elite level all 4 seasons, and there is no reason to expect a decrease in production. If taken late 1st round, I could see Risner being one of the best value picks of the draft, someone worthy of top 15 consideration. COMP: Joel Bitonio
  22. BLT: Deandre Baker – Although the Ravens would likely prefer to use their 1st rounder on offense, there are not many offensive players worthy of a 1st round pick. While I could see them trying to trade down, Baker would be a fine selection as well. Baker would be the Raven’s 4th quality CB, opening up many possibilities for them. COMP: A.J. Bouye
  23. HOU: Noah Fant – Imagine an offense Deandre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and an athletic OJ Howard type TE, with Deshaun Watson at QB. All of that athleticism would make opposing defensive coordinators panic and change their gameplans. While not the blocker that former teammate TJ Hockenson is, Fant is much more agile and athletic, making a great fit for the Texans. COMP: O.J. Howard
  24. OAK: Josh Jacobs – It was very apparent that the combination of Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, and Deandre Washington was not working well in 2018. Josh Jacobs is not an elite RB prospect, but he is one of the best in what is a very weak class. With additions of Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, Oakland’s offense should be much better than in 2018. COMP: D’Onta Foreman
  25. PHI: Byron Murphy – Although I have Murphy at 25 here, I could easily see him being gone before 20. In this situation Murphy would fill a much needed position on the Eagles who really only lack strong CBs on defense. As one of the more underrated 1st rounders, the Eagles would be ecstatic to get Murphy this late. COMP: Vernon Hargreaves III
  26. IND: Marquise Brown – In 2018 Andrew Luck somehow managed to take a bottom tier offense to the playoffs, even winning their 1st round game. With a very weak arsenal of weapons, Luck did this, so imagine adding one of the top WRs of the class. Brown would give Luck a shifty deep threat who would add a whole new dimension to the Colts offense. COMP: Dede Westbrook
  27. OAK: Dexter Lawrence – One of the more underrated 1st round picks, I could see Lawrence easily being worth a top 10 pick. Although he was part of a stacked Clemson defense, Lawrence would have thrived on almost any team. A dual threat as a run stuffer and a pass disrupter, Lawrence should be one of the best value picks in the 1st round. COMP: Dontari Poe
  28. LAC: Jeffery Simmons – One of the best run defenders in 2018, Simmons would boost an already talented Charger’s D-line. With two elite edge rushers, Simmons would either get a lot of 1-on-1 matchups and feast, or reduce the amount of double teams on Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. COMP: Fletcher Cox
  29. SEA: Taylor Rapp – One of the best coverage safeties of the class, Rapp’s elite ball skills should translate very well. With the “Big Three” of Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman crumbling over the past couple years, the one elite Seahawks defense can be viewed as average at best. With a O-lineman a certainty with either first round pick, in this situation Seattle would get a great addition to their weak offensive line, and gain a versatile playmaker on the defensive side. Rapp should be the first of many defensive picks for SEA. COMP: TJ Ward
  30. GB: Cody Ford – While Green Bay needs help on the line, I don’t believe Ford is a great NFL prospect. While a very good pass blocker, his 10 penalties in 2018 will not translate well onto a Packers team. With Aaron Rodgers always trying to extend plays, Ford would almost certainly have double digit penalties every season. COMP: Ereck Flowers
  31. LAR: Jachai Polite – While many may have though Polite would be an early-mid first round pick, he has not performed well in his pre-draft evaluations. Even though this is the case, the Rams can afford to take a risk on Polite and hope he can live up to his lofty expectations. COMP: Vic Beasley Jr.
  32. NE: AJ Brown – With Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson almost certainly off the board, there is not a TE who could come close to replacing Rob Gronkowski. Instead, getting a wide receiver, AJ Brown, would give the Patriots a quality receiver to develop with all of the question marks at WR. Julian Edelman is aging, Chris Hogan is in Carolina, and Josh Gordon’s status is up in the air. Getting AJ Brown might give Tom Brady some motivation to play for an extra year or two. COMP: Stefon Diggs
Featured

2019 NFL Draft Official Preview: Big Board, Draft Night Predictions, and more.

With the draft just days away, I had to get a few things off my chest. Featuring a finalized 60-prospect Big Board, and some prospects that I love and don’t love.

Left to Right: Kyler Murray (OU), Drew Lock (MIZZOU), Daniel Jones(DUKE), Dwayne Haskins (OSU)

The draft is only a few days away, and honestly, I couldn’t be more excited. There’s a good amount of ambiguity surrounding the first overall pick, which has been and will be extremely entertaining to monitor. It could be argued that some of the most aggressive front offices have the most amount of draft capital – the Giants and Raiders both have multiple first-rounders, and I predict they’ll make some noise come draft night. So without further ado, I’d like to give some more organized thoughts about this year’s draft.

  • It’s an excellent year for rebuilding teams, and it’s an especially good year to have a surplus of picks, the prospect pool is extremely strong in the second-third round range and it’s top heavy too. The talent in this draft is a little more concentrated in places like offensive line, defensive line, and the secondary; positions that are becoming a premium in this era of football. In terms of the strongest and weakest position groups, skill position players are scarce this year, the running backs and wide receivers have no clear top-tier players. Don’t be surprised to see teams reach for players at these positions, similar to how players like Corey Davis, John Ross, and Zay Jones were over-drafted in 2017.
  • If I were to rank the position groups in this year’s draft class, it would have to look like this:
  1. Interior Defensive Line – There will be value in every round for this position, and players like Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver could be transcendent.
  2. EDGE Defenders – Perhaps the most well-rounded of the positions, and the athletic prowess of this group is unprecedented. There are some hidden gems in the later rounds.
  3. Wide Receiver – The amount of talent in this position group is highly disputed this year, but I believe there could be six future pro bowlers in this WR class.
  4. Offensive Tackles – An abnormal amount of talent for a position that is difficult to project.
  5. Safety – There are so many safety prospects in this draft that I love. Very balanced class.
  6. Cornerback – A ton of talent in the first two rounds.
  7. Tight End – It’s T.J. Hockenson then everyone else, but there’s a surprising amount of depth.
  8. Interior Offensive Line – A balanced position group without a clear #1.
  9. Quarterback – It’s Kyler, then everyone else.
  10. Linebacker – Extremely top heavy.
  11. Running Back – Lacking all-round talent.
  12. Special Teams (Obviously)
  • Based off of team needs, here are the teams that benefit from the distribution of talent this year:
  • CAR, OAK, CHI, GB, IND, MIN, ATL, JAC, DEN, LAC, CLE
  • These are mostly teams with deficiencies in their secondary and at wide receiver. All of these franchises will likely be comfortable with picking for specific needs on Thursday, don’t expect any crazy moves from any of these teams. (Except for the Raiders)
  • And on the opposite side, the teams that do not benefit from this:
  • PHI, NYG, NO, CIN, MIA, BAL
  • These are mostly teams that need quarterbacks for the future (NYG/NO/CIN/MIA), or have a serious lack of talent at running back (MIA/PHI), interior O-Line (NYG/NO/BAL), or linebacker (CIN/BAL/PHI). Converse to what I said about the beneficiaries of this draft class, these teams may be more adept to trading up to fill the holes in their respective rosters. Also with teams like Baltimore, don’t be surprised if they trade out of the first round to build draft capital for a future class that may suit them better.

Big Board ft. Pro Comparisons (Top 60 Prospects):

  • Tier One: Potentially Transcendent Prospects. Ceiling: Multiple All-Pro selections or better. Ranks 1-10.
  • Tier Two: Elite Prospects. Ceiling: A few All-Pro Selections. Ranks 11-21.
  • Tier Three: Day One Starters. Ceiling: Perennial Pro Bowlers. Ranks 22-44
  • Tier Four: Future Starters. Ceiling: Impact Starter, one or two Pro Bowls. Ranks 45-60.
  1. EDGE/Ohio State – Nick Bosa, 22. Player Comp: Joey Bosa
  2. QB/Oklahoma – Kyler Murray, 22. Player Comp: Russell Wilson
  3. DT/Alabama – Quinnen Williams, 21. Player Comp: Ndamukong Suh
  4. DL/Houston – Ed Oliver, 22. Player Comp: Geno Atkins
  5. OT/OG/Alabama – Jonah Williams, 22. Player Comp: Joe Staley
  6. TE/Iowa – TJ Hockenson, 21. Player Comp: Tyler Eifert/George Kittle
  7. EDGE/Kentucky – Josh Allen, 22. Player Comp: Chandler Jones
  8. ILB/LSU – Devin White, 21. Player Comp: Deion Jones/Jaraad Davis
  9. CB/Washington – Byron Murphy, 21. Player Comp: Ronde Barber/Desmond King
  10. OT/Washington State – Andre Dillard, 22. Player Comp: Jake Matthews
  11. DT/Mississippi State – Jeffery Simmons, 21. Player Comp: Chris Jones
  12. RB/Alabama – Josh Jacobs, 21. Player Comp: Kareem Hunt
  13. EDGE/FSU – Brian Burns, 21.. Player Comp: Leonard Floyd
  14. LB/Michigan – Devin Bush, 20. Player Comp: Fast Vince Williams
  15. QB/Ohio State – Dwayne Haskins, 21. Player Comp: Nick Foles/Jameis Winston
  16. DE/DT/Notre Dame – Jerry Tillery, 22. Player Comp: Kenny Clark
  17. OG/C/NC State – Garrett Bradbury, 22-23. Player Comp: Travis Frederick
  18. WR/Oklahoma – Marquise Brown, 21. Player Comp: Desean Jackson
  19. WR/Ole Miss – AJ Brown, 21. Player Comp: Juju Smith-Schuster
  20. EDGE/Missouri – Montez Sweat, 22. Player Comp: Danielle Hunter
  21. OT/OG/Kansas State – Dalton Risner, 23. Player Comp: Brandon Scheriff
  22. CB/Georgia – Deandre Baker, 21. Player Comp: A.J. Boyue
  23. WR/Ole Miss – D.K. Metcalf, 21. Player Comp: Poor Man’s Terrell Owens
  24. CB/LSU – Greedy Williams, 21. Player Comp: Joe Haden
  25. DT/Clemson – Christian Wilkins, 23. Player Comp: Grady Jarrett
  26. DT/Clemson – Dexter Lawrence, 21. Player Comp: Akiem Hicks
  27. CB/Michigan – David Long, 21. Player Comp: Chris Harris Jr.
  28. WR/Stanford – J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, 22. Player Comp: Eric Decker
  29. EDGE/Michigan – Chase Winovich, 23. Player Comp: Ryan Kerrigan
  30. S/Alabama – Deionte Thompson, 22. Player Comp: Marcus Williams
  31. EDGE/Clemson – Clelin Ferrell, 21. Player Comp: Everson Griffen
  32. S/Delaware – Nasir Adderley, 21. Player Comp: Adrian Amos
  33. OT/Florida – Jawaan Taylor, 21. Player Comp: Morgan Moses
  34. TE/Iowa – Noah Fant, 21. Player Comp: O.J. Howard
  35. OT/Ole Miss – Greg Little, 21. Player Comp: Duane Brown
  36. RB/Iowa State – David Montgomery, 21. Player Comp: Devonta Freeman
  37. OG/Boston College – Chris Lindstrom, 22, Player Comp: Andrew Norwell
  38. WR/Ole Miss – D.K. Metcalf, 21. Player Comp: Poor Man’s Terrell Owens
  39. S/Maryland – Darnell Savage Jr., 22. Player Comp: Donte Whitner
  40. OG/OT/Oklahoma – Cody Ford, 22. Player Comp: La’el Collins
  41. S/Virginia – Juan Thornhill, 22. Player Comp: Damontae Kazee
  42. WR/Massachusetts – Andy Isabella, 22. Player Comp: T.Y. Hilton
  43. QB/Missouri – Drew Lock, 22. Player Comp: Jay Cutler
  44. OG/C/Mississippi State – Elgton Jenkins, 23. Player Comp: Weston Richburg
  45. QB/West Virginia – Will Grier, 24. Player Comp: Andy Dalton with a Stronger Arm
  46. S/Mississippi State – Jonathan Abram, 22. Player Comp: Keanu Neal
  47. CB/Vanderbilt – JoeJuan Williams, 21. Player Comp: Ahkello Witherspoon/Richard Sherman
  48. CB/Michigan State – Justin Layne, 21. Player Comp: Kendall Fuller
  49. WR/Arizona State – N’Keal Harry, 21. Player Comp: Demaryius Thomas
  50. S/Washington – Taylor Rapp, 21. Player Comp: Jordan Poyer
  51. EDGE/Louisiana Tech – Jaylon Ferguson, 23. Player Comp: Michael Johnson
  52. WR/Ohio State – Parris Campbell, 21. Player Comp: Percy Harvin
  53. S/Florida – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, 21. Player Comp: Lamarcus Joyner
  54. QB/Duke – Daniel Jones, 21. Player Comp: Josh Allen with a weaker arm.
  55. EDGE/Michigan – Rashan Gary, 21. Player Comp: Vernon Gholston/Bradley Chubb
  56. WR/South Carolina – Deebo Samuel, 23. Player Comp: Randall Cobb
  57. LB/Notre Dame – Te’Von Coney, 21. Player Comp: Wesley Woodyard
  58. CB/Central Michigan – Sean Bunting, 22. Player Comp: Robert Alford
  59. DE/Boston College – Zach Allen, 22. Player Comp: Aaron Smith
  60. CB/Notre Dame – Julian Love, 21. Player Comp: Malcolm Butler

Sleepers/Late Round Value:

  • LB/West Virginia – David Long Jr. – Versatility at inside linebacker is a trait that’s becoming more valuable by the year. David Long Jr. is a bit undersized, but his range and run-stopping productivity make up for it. He runs and hits with reckless abandon, and he was able able to shoot through Big 12 offensive lines and and be a game wrecker in the running game. He lacks instincts and experience in pass coverage, which is a pretty significant red flag, which will end up causing him to slide to the middle rounds. Projection: Late Third Round
  • DT/Western Illinois – Khalen Saunders – Saunders was one of the several winners of this year’s Senior Bowl, showcasing his athleticism both on and off the field. He’s undersized, but he’s able to generate enough power and disruption to overcome his size. Projection: Mid Fourth Round
  • OG/Wisconsin – Beau Benzschawel – Benzschawel was a one-year-wonder of sorts in his senior year at Wisconsin. He was extremely productive, but showed signs of inconsistency. According to Pro Football Focus, he was efficient in both run and pass blocking. He ranked in the Top 10 in both inside and outside pressures allowed per snap among all draft-eligible offensive guards. I can see him becoming a perennial starter in the NFL, as long as he’s developed in the right scheme. Projection: Third Round
  • TE/LSU – Foster Moreau – Moreau is one of my favorite late-round prospects in this draft. He’s one of the most gifted athletes among the tight ends in this class and he has an extremely high motor. He has the athleticism and effort, he was graded well during his career at LSU, but he just didn’t have the production to back it up. Production doesn’t always translate to NFL success and vice versa. Projection: Early Third Round
  • WR/Notre Dame – Miles Boykin – He’s a projected third or late-second round pick. His athleticism is off the charts- his broad jump ranked second among WRs, his vertical jump and 3 cone time ranked first, and his twenty and sixty yard shuttles ranked in the Top 5. There are no major red flags on or off the field. He’s a little stiff for his position, and his route tree needs improvement, but his ability to create separation and athleticism will compensate for that. Projection: Late Second Round/Early Third
  • WR/Missouri – Emmanuel Hall – He’s similar to Miles Boykin in an athletic sense, they tied for the furthest broad jump at this year’s combine. He’s much less laterally explosive, which limits his potential route running-wise. He stands at 6’2″, which is about the perfect height for the modern wide receiver. He most likely will never be the WR1 for a team, but he can make an impact as a solid WR2/WR3, and his ceiling is probably becoming one of the league’s premier deep threats. Projection: Mid Fourth Round
Featured

NBA Lottery Mock Draft 1.0

First round of the 2019 NBA Draft lottery picks. Analysis and projections. Complete first round is coming later.

2019 MOCK DRAFT

  1. NYK – Zion Williamson, Duke, Zion Williamson is a generational player. Someone has not come around since LeBron. He needs to lose weight and trim down to about 250-260 for his body to be able to withstand a 82 game season. Could go down as one of the best/most influential players of our lifetime, NBA Projection: Multiple All-NBA Selections
  2. PHX – Ja Morant, Murray State, Morant is a great scorer of the ball. However, he is an even better floor general/passer/true point guard. His defense and scoring and passing is all there, he just needs to lower the turnovers, NBA Projection: Multiple All-NBA Selections
  3. CLE – RJ Barrett, Duke, Barrett is a great rebounder, scorer, and passer of the ball. For him to be one of the best in the NBA he needs to lower the turnovers, work on his off hand dribbling, and get the free throw percentage up especially if he is going to play the 2, however, expect him to play the 3, NBA Projection: Multiple All-Star Selections
  4. CHI – Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech, An average college 3 point shooter expect that to fall off in the transition to the NBA, Culver is an outstanding defender. A very good guard already, leading Texas Tech to a National Championship game appearance helped Culver’s stock a TON. He has potential to be a top 3 player coming out of this draft. Expect Chicago or Atlanta to take him and I do not see him falling out of the top 5. At 6’6” and and 20 years old Culver is developing into a great rising star, NBA Projection: better Jeremy Lamb, All-Star Selections
  5. ATL – Cam Reddish, Duke, Reddish is a great shooter. Something that the Hawks need, however, he is going to need to step up his defense and his rebounding if he wants to reach his career ceiling, NBA Projection: Ceiling is Multiple All-Star Selections, Floor is Rotation Player like a worse defending but better shooting Andre Iguodala
  6. MEM – De’Andre Hunter, Virginia, I am BIG on De’Andre, but I do not think that he is going to be great. I want him to so bad and I really hope that he elevates his game, I think right now it translates well into the NBA, but there is always room for improvements. If he can get into the right system to start, and get around the right people, expect this guy to be GREAT, UPDATED 4-9-19: EASILY the biggest game of De’Andre’s young career, Hunter proved that nothing was too big for him. Scoring 27 points and grabbing 9 boards, Hunter proved to be the best player on the court. Shooting 50% from the floor and ⅘ from 3, Hunter helped Virginia to its first National Championship. A face up between the legs crossover step-back from the extended free throw line was a clutch shot to make. However it was his corner 3 in regulation with 15 seconds left, helped Virginia force overtime. Hunter is proving himself to be one of the best players in this draft. STOCK RISING, NBA Projection: Multiple All-Star Selections
  7. ATL – Jaxson Hayes, Texas, At 6’11” Hayes averaged 5 rebounds a game for Texas. 5. He’s a young kid and needs to reel back his urges and be comfortable to play solid defense possession after possession and not try to block every shot. He is going to foul A LOT, but, he is good enough that he will block the shot A LOT also. Hayes is a great post player, on defense and on offense and he understand really well where to be and how to run the floor properly. His post moves are solid but I do not think that they are going to translate that well into the NBA. Hayes has a lot of potential and is a good player for the Hawks to pick at 7 ONLY IF they take a smaller 3 and D player earlier. I just do not think that Hayes will be able to find success in the NBA, NBA Projection: Bust, Sixth Man
  8. WSH – Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga, At 6’8”, 225 Hachimura is a little old to be taken with a higher draft pick. Already 21, 8 might be considered a stretch pick for the power forward. An average rebounder in college, Hachimura is a great defender and he understands where to be on the floor. Runs the pick and roll extremely well and can face up on the extended post. With his length he is a very good shot blocker down in the post and can run with a driving guard to block his shot. His post moves are a little weak and need to be worked on to be a great talent in the NBA. He can take it coast to coast and handle to ball fine for a 4, but do not expect that to carry over well into the league, NBA Projection: Slightly smaller Derrick Favors
  9. NOP – Coby White, UNC, I am also VERY big on Coby White. Watching him dominate the ACC and especially that final game at home against Duke, White finally established himself to me. VERY quick guard, extremely fast and agile White needs to take care of the ball just a little better, but that does not mean to much in the NBA. A decent shooter of the ball, White is a very good floor general. Can get his shot off quick and has the NBA range, expect Coby to be one of the better NBA players from this draft, NBA Projection: Multiple All-Star Selection, Potential for All-NBA
  10. LAL – Bol Bol, Oregon, Unfortunately a left foot injury left Bol Bol out for the season after only playing 9 games. Averaging 21-10 and also averaging 3 blocks a game, Bol Bol is one of the better prospects, NBA Projection: Multiple All-Star Selections
  11. MIN – Sekou Doumboya, France, Standing at 6’9″ with a 6’11” wingspan, Doumboya has potential to be a NBA star. Not a great rebounder at his length Doumboya needs to limit his fouls and improve on his rebounding to reach his ceiling. A lot of drive and dump offs after a shot fake move, I do not think most of his moves are going to translate well into the NBA. When he gets into the post, his moves are terrible. Do not expect him to be great in the league, NBA Projections: Average NBA Player, Probable bust
  12. CHA – Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga, In my opinion Clarke is one of the most underrated players in the NCAA and that is probably due to his age. He is 22 and only a junior, this is a major setback for Clarke. However, he’s got the game to be able to make up for it. Does a fantastic job of catching and making a decision to turn and face up, or put a post move on his defender. He is a tremendous finisher at the rim and can go above or below the rim. The first step on the face up is very quick. Expect him to succeed in the league, NBA Projection: Average NBA Player
  13. ORL – Darius Garland, Vanderbilt, A great shooter, and rebounder as a point guard, he needs to up the assists and lower the turnovers. If he can work on his defense as well he can be a multiple time all star. NBA Projection: Ceiling is Multiple All-Star Selections, Floor is Jameer Nelson/Raymond Felton
  14. BOS – Romeo Langford, Indiana, Langford had a lot go hype surrounding him going into college at Indiana. He was not a great 3 point shooter, and will probably be even worse on into the league, he is a young, good defensive guard. Langford played well in a tough Big 10 league, but he needed to show out a little more and lead the Hoosiers a little better than their 19-16 record and a season ending NIT appearance. Expect just a average player to compliment this great Boston team, NBA Projection: Poor Man’s Khris Middleton

Roughing the Caster Ep. 2: NBA Offseason Edition

An episode featuring FTS Sports’ three Founders: Hank Grzeszczak, Dylan White, and Adam Simkowitz.

In this episode of FTS’s official podcast, we talk about everything the NBA has to offer. In this jam-packed, hour-long podcast, we give some draft reactions, scorching hot trade takes, and free agency predictions. Give it a listen!

Roughing the Caster Episode 2.

Impacts the Wells Fargo Championship has on the PGA Championship.

The Winner: Max Homa

He played good all week but it was really the second round 63 that propelled him to be in a position to win. He was first in strokes-gained putting all week and his scrambling was fantastic. He is sneaky long off the tee averaging 312 on every drive all week, but I really don’t expect him to even contend at the PGA at all.

Players Previously Talked About: Rickie Fowler

Rickie captured his first win at Quail back in 2012, and for how good he is, he does not have the performances to back it up. In my opinion, Rickie is the best player without a major championship victory. My favorite putter on tour, and is a tremendous long distance putter, Rickie had a decent week at the Wells. He backed doored a top five finish behind a really strong weekend finish. As for what this means for the PGA, this puts nothing but positive thoughts in my head about Rickie. I really feel that he has a good shot at winning his first major at Bethpage.

Justin Rose

Former world number 1 and current 2nd player in the world, Justin Rose had a very solid week finishing in 3rd place four shots back. Back to back 68’s on the weekend as well as a Friday 67 propelled Rose to this finish. At 4th in strokes gained putting, Rose was awful around the greens and off the tees. Hitting just under half of the fairways all week, its amazing Rose finished this high especially at a course like Quail Hollow. With playing well during the Wells while not hitting many fairways, I think thats going to translate well over to a course like Bethpage. From my previous prediction of Rose not playing well, after this week, I think Rose will actually have a decent finish.

Rory McIlroy

Current world number 4, Rory continued his good form at Quail Hollow. But it was a final round 73 that left Rory, and Rory fans like me, questioning his performance heading into the PGA Championship. The only two time winner of the Wells Fargo, you can pretty much expect Rory to be around on Sunday. Rory made very little mistakes this week and it was not until the final round when they affected him. Just a plain AWFUL week of putting, Rory was lost 2 shots on the greens, and 2 shots around the greens. This is a constant theme in Rory’s game and the putting may never be fixed. If this continues to Bethpage, Rory is going to have a terrible week. I think Rory will make the cut, but not be in contention after watching him this week.

Patrick Reed

After the first two days, Reed was in contention to win this tournament with a good weekend. However, losing a stroke on the greens mainly jus from the weekend where it was losing 2 strokes on the greens, Reed just didn’t have it, a reoccurring theme for him this year. I’m intrigued by Patrick because he won last time the Tour was at Bethpage, but after his performances this year, I really don’t expect Patrick to play well.

Roughing the Caster Episode #1: NFL Draft Recap and Reactions

It’s a little late, but here’s the inaugural episode of FTS Sports’ main podcast. In this episode, FTS writers Adam Simkowitz and Dylan White give their immediate reactions to the 2019 NFL Draft. This includes their favorite and least favorite picks from the draft, and the teams who won and lost this year’s draft. It’s only 30 minutes so it’s a quick, easy, and condensed listen!

2019 Top 100 MLB Prospect Rankings 1.0 (Early Season)

#5 overall prospect, Wander Franco, SS (TB)

With both the MLB and MiLB seasons well underway, my first MLB Prospect Rankings is here. This list consists of any player who qualifies as a “rookie” according to MLB’s rules (under 130 ABs/50 IP in MLB games). My list will be updated throughout the season to keep the rankings accurate.

The Top 100:

  1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. , 3B, TOR
  2. Fernando Tatis Jr. SS, SD
  3. Eloy Jimenez, OF, CHW
  4. Royce Lewis, SS, MIN
  5. Wander Franco, SS, TB
  6. Bo Bichette, SS, TOR
  7. Brendan Rodgers, SS, COL
  8. Nick Senzel, 3B, CIN
  9. Chris Paddack, SP, SD
  10. Forrest Whitley, SP, HOU
  11. Alex Kirilloff, OF, MIN
  12. Joey Bart, C, SF
  13. Luis Robert, OF, CHW
  14. Peter Alonso, 1B, NYM
  15. Michael Kopech, SP, CHW
  16. Jesus Luzardo, SP, OAK
  17. Taylor Trammell, OF, CIN
  18. Jo Adell, OF, LAA
  19. Casey Mize, SP, DET
  20. Brendan McKay, SP/DH, TB
  21. Cristian Pache, OF, ATL
  22. Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL
  23. MacKenzie Gore, SP, SD
  24. Dylan Cease, SP, CHW
  25. Carter Kieboom, SS, WSH
  26. Mike Soroka, SP, ATL
  27. Brent Honeywell, SP, TB
  28. Yordan Alvarez, OF, HOU
  29. Sixto Sanchez, SP, MIA
  30. Jesus Sanchez, OF, TB
  31. Nick Madrigal, 2B, CHW
  32. Matthew Liberatore, SP, TB
  33. Brady Singer, SP, KC
  34. Matt Manning, SP, DET
  35. Austin Riley, 3B, ATL
  36. Mitch Keller, SP, PIT
  37. Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU
  38. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT
  39. Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, BAL
  40. Ian Anderson, SP, ATL
  41. Francisco Mejia, C, SD
  42. Luis Urias, SS/2B, SD
  43. Hunter Greene, SP, CIN
  44. Jarred Kelenic, OF, SEA
  45. Jazz Chisholm, SS, ARI
  46. Nolan Gorman, 3B, STL
  47. Gavin Lux, SS/2B, LAD
  48. Griffin Canning, SP, LAA
  49. Keibert Ruiz, C, LAD
  50. Kyle Wright, SP, ATL
  51. Triston McKenzie, SP, CLE
  52. Touki Toussaint, SP, ATL
  53. Andres Gimenez, SS, NYM
  54. Dustin May, SP, LAD
  55. Jon Duplantier, SP/RP, ARI
  56. Michael Chavis, 3B, BOS
  57. Corbin Martin, SP, HOU
  58. Adonis Medina, SP, PHI
  59. Grayson Rodriguez, SP, BAL
  60. Hans Crouse, SP, TEX
  61. Julio Pablo Martinez, OF, TEX
  62. Drew Waters, OF, ATL
  63. Ryan Weathers, SP, SD
  64. Colton Welker, 3B, COL
  65. AJ Puk, SP, OAK
  66. Justus Sheffield, SP, SEA
  67. Sean Murphy, C, OAK
  68. Jonathan India, 3B, CIN
  69. Estevan Florial, OF, NYY
  70. Alec Bohm, 3B, PHI
  71. Nate Pearson, SP, TOR
  72. Luis V. Garcia, INF, WSH
  73. Oneil Cruz, SS, PIT
  74. Victor Victor Mesa, OF, MIA
  75. Ronny Mauricio, SS, NYM
  76. Luis Patino, SP, SD
  77. Brusdar Graterol, SP, MIN
  78. Vidal Brujan, 2B, TB
  79. Nico Hoerner, SS, CHI
  80. Heliot Ramos, OF, SF
  81. Corey Ray, OF, MIL
  82. DL Hall, SP, BAL
  83. Julio Rodriguez, OF, SEA
  84. Dane Dunning, SP, CHW
  85. Monte Harrison, OF, MIA
  86. Darwinzon Hernandez, SP/RP, BOS
  87. Ronaldo Hernandez, C, TB
  88. Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE
  89. Cavan Biggio, 2B, TOR
  90. Jordan Groshans, SS/3B, TOR
  91. Travis Swaggerty, OF, PIT
  92. Justin Dunn, SP, SEA
  93. Leody Taveras, OF, TEX
  94. Anderson Tejeda, 2B, TEX
  95. Luis Garcia, SS, PHI
  96. Wander Javier, SS, MIN
  97. Adrian Morejon, SP, SD
  98. Jeremiah Jackson, SS, LAA
  99. Khalil Lee, OF, KC
  100. Jordyn Adams, OF, LAA
#75 overall, Ronny Mauricio (NYM), at bat in an exhibition game.

Overview: Overall, the top 100 prospects are as strong as any other class from the past few years. With extreme depth, almost any of the 100 have the potential to be perenial All-Stars. Currently, shortstop is extremely deep, with 5 of the top 7 prospects playing SS and 17 in total at the position. First base is very weak with only Pete Alonso (soon to graduate) representing the position. While every team has at least 1 on the list, The San Diego Padres have the most prospects on the list (8) and they one of the best systems overall.

The Next 20:

Shane McClanahan, TB pitching for USF
  • Dalton Varsho, C, ARI
  • Austin Hays, OF, BAL
  • Bobby Dalbec, 3B, BOS
  • Micker Adolfo, OF, CHW
  • Luis Alexander Basabe, OF, CHW
  • Ryan Rolison, SP, COL
  • Freudis Nova, SS, HOU
  • Seth Beer, OF, HOU
  • Jackson Kowar, SP, KC
  • Seuly Matias, OF, KC
  • Jeter Downs, SS, LAD
  • Diego Cartaya, C, LAD
  • Zac Gallen, SP, MIA
  • Jorge Mateo, SS, OAK
  • Calvin Mitchell, OF, PIT
  • Michel Baez, SP, SD
  • Luis Campusano, C, SD
  • Marco Luciano, SS, SF
  • Shane McClanahan, SP, TB
  • Bubba Thompson, OF, TEX

Trade Review – Christian Yelich, MIA & MIL

Christian Yelich with the Milwaukee Brewers

Having been over a year removed from the Christian Yelich blockbuster trade, now is as good a time as any to look back upon the deal and see how things have been working out for both sides.

The Deal: January 25th, 2018

Brewers Receive: Christian Yelich

Marlins Receive: Lewis Brinson (OF), Isan Diaz (2B), Monte Harrison (OF), and Jordan Yamamoto (SP)

General Overview: At the time of the deal, Miami was in the middle of one of the biggest, most impactful rebuilds of the decade. Moving Yelich was more of a “when” as opposed to an “if”. Every talented player wanted out of the crumbling franchise. Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Dee Gordon, AJ Ramos, and David Phelps are a few names dealt around the same time. The main focus of the organization was to bring in as many top prospects as possible to reboot their farm system with young talent. On the Brewers’ end of things, the playoffs were well within reach. The acquisitions of both Yelich and Lorenzo Cain greatly improved Milwaukee’s roster. Though Brinson, Diaz, and Harrison were ranked among the top 100 prospects by many experts, gaining Yelich seemed to be worth it for Milwaukee.

Brewers Overview: So far is seems as if the clear winner of the deal is Milwaukee. Yelich has performed at a legitimate MVP level since being dealt to the Brewers, while the prospects sent to Miami have not done anything that would make the Brewers regret the deal. Being on such a team friendly contract doesn’t hurt Yelich’s value either, making it seem like an even bigger steal for the Brewers. Hitting .326 with 36 HRs in his first season with the Brew Crew, Yelich is on his way to an even better season in 2019. While giving up 4 prospects has depleted their system of top tier talent, Milwaukee could not be happier with the way Yelich has performed.

Marlins Overview: The Marlins return in the Christian Yelich trade was extremely deep, and included 4 highly rated prospects. Outfield Lewis Brinson was the headliner of the deal, being ranked in the top 20 of almost all prospect rankings. Unfortunately for Miami, Brinson also appears to be the biggest bust of the deal. After a short time with Marlins minor league affiliates, Brinson made his Marlins debut in 2018 . Unable to even reach a .200 AVG within his first two seasons in Miami, he has struggled mightily at the plate, with an OBP of an alarming .241. While it is too early to declare the 24 year old a true bust, his performance can not be viewed as encouraging to Marlins fans.

Monte Harrison with Marlins Double-A affiliate, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in 2018

The second piece to the deal was Monte Harrison. Another speedy Brewers outfielder coming to the Marlins, Harrison had a superb 20+/20+ season before being dealt. In his first season in the Marlins organization, Harrison showed off his 5-tool abilities in Double-A Jacksonville, but had issues with a very high strikeout rate. Currently in Triple-A, the hope is that he can reduce his strikeouts while retaining his speed/power combination versus tougher competition. Harrison is currently the highest ceiling player acquired by the Marlins from their rebuild, so everyone in the organization will be sure to give him the assistance and coaching he needs to be as successful as possible.

Second baseman Isan Diaz was the third position player to be dealt during this trade. So far Diaz has not performed well for Miami, but he has also showed some signs that he may become another 5-tool guy for the Marlins. the real trend with these three position players was their 5-tool potential, with low floors and high ceilings. The expectation was that at least one of the three could become an elite “face of the franchise” to replace all the departed veterans, but so far that has not happened.

Jordan Yamamoto, RHP

Lastly, the only pitcher the Marlins acquired in this trade was Jordan Yamamoto. So far the Hawaiian native, Yamamoto, has pitched like an ace for the Marlins Class A-Advanced and Double-A teams. Posting a 1.82 ERA since the trade, he appears to have been the best part of the package. With a great WHIP and respectable strikeout numbers, the Marlins are hoping Yamamoto can surpass his lower expectations and become the best part of the deal.

Player Grades:

Christian Yelich: A+

Lewis Brinson: C-

Monte Harrison: B

Isan Dian: C+

Jordan Yamamoto: A

Winner: Milwaukee Brewers

Prospect Profile: Seuly Matias, KC

In the second installment of the “Prospect Profile” series, we will be taking a look at Royals slugger, Seuly Matias

Height:6’3″ Weight: 198 lbs. Age: 20

Position: OF (RF) Bats/Throws: R/R ETA: Early 2021

Overview: Matias’s best tool is his cannon for an arm. After making the transition to right field, he really stood out for both his arm strength, and throw accuracy. After struggling at the plate his first two season (2016-2017), Matias really impressed during his 2018 season in A-Class Lexington. Even though his season was cut short due to a thumb injury, Matias hit 31 HRs in just 338 at-bats. Well on pace for over 50 HRs in 2018, Matias should be able to manage around 35-40 HRs in the more pitcher-friendly parks of the Carolina League. If his recent seasons are any indicator, Matias is going to produce at an elite level throughout his career.

Currently on a stacked Wilmington Blue Rocks team, Matias has outperformed fellow Royals prospects Nick Pratto and MJ Melendez, but at the same age as them, I would expect all three to follow similar timelines on their journey to Kansas City. Probably reaching Double-A in late 2019, and Triple-A late 2020, all three should be in Kansas City in the early stages of 2021. With a lack of any real talent on Kansas City’s roster and in the early stages of a major rebuild, getting these talented players along with other prospects like Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar and Khalil Lee, KC might be able to contend as early as 2021.

Ceiling: Giancarlo Stanton – If Matias can manage to put in a lot of work at the plate, a Stanton-like ceiling is not out of the picture. While I doubt that Matias will ever have a below-average strikeout rate, if he can continue to drive the ball with immense power that should not be an issue. With his good defensive skills and great arm, Matias should stick at right field for the majority of his career. A slash line of .265/.340/.500 with 40+ HRs is not out of the question.

Projection: Eloy Jimenez – Jimenez just made his MLB debute in 2019, but I really think that Matias will follow a similar path to Jimenez. Both had a rough fist few pro seasons, but then by their third season, both showed elite power abilities. While it is unlikely he hits for as high an average as Jimenez, Matias could easily hit as many home runs while being a superior defender. Matias should be able to hit around .250 while being in the upper tier of home run hitters.

Floor: Ian Happ – If his plate approach does not translate well to the MLB, Matias should still retain his plus power tool at the highest level. While Happ as the floor for Matias might seem really high, I really do believe Matias has all the necessary tools to become a perenial All-Star. Worst case I see Matias as a .235 hitter with 25 HRs, similar to Happ’s first 2 MLB seasons.

Player Grades: Contact: C+ Power: A Speed: C+ Fielding: B+ Arm: A+ Potential: A Overall: B+

Tiger Woods, Masters Analysis, and 2019 Projections

Woods on 18 after winning the 2019 Masters Tournament.

Well, yes, that did just happen. Tiger Woods is a major champion yet again. This past Sunday, Woods captured his 15th major championship and 81st PGA Tour Victory. When Tiger was at his lowest of lows, I stood confident and declared Tiger would win again, and yes, he would win another major. Tiger, in my opinion, is the greatest of all time. Once he won the Tour Championship that pretty much solidified himself to me that he was the GOAT. Throughout the week at The Masters, Tiger just had that aura around him that he could win this week. He was just calm and in his own words he did a great job of “plotting around the golf course”.

He opened with a 70, like he has on his 3 of his other 4 Masters victories. His putter was a little shaky to start in the first round and he missed a good amount of putts from 5-10 feet. “I felt like I played well,” Woods said after his first round concluded. He made birdies on 2, 9, 13, 15 and bogeyed 5 and 17. Tiger has overcome a lot, and even that is such an unbelievable understatement. But one really impressive feat is overcoming the chipping yips. If you can think back to that Hero World Challenge at Isleworth, the one where Spieth absolutely annihilated(like he normally does when he wins), but if you can think of the way Tiger’s short game was then. And then to take it from Isleworth, and compare it to now, the change is crazy. Scrambling at 88% percent for the week is a very underestimated accomplishment.

Second round was a a great addition to a start that Tiger was absolutely comfortable with. Opening with 3 straight pars, Tiger birdied the TOUGH par 3 4th hole, Flowering Crab Apple. After a bogey on the 5, like he would turn out to have all week on that hole, he bounced back with a birdie on Juniper, the par 3 6th. The putter defiantly rebounded the second and helped him out. After a deflating bogey on the par 5 8th, Woods fired straight back with a birdie on the 9th, making the turn in 1 under, and 3 under for the tournament. Woods then played a FANTASTIC back nine. Birdies on 11(yes 11.), 14, and 15, Woods should have actually scored a bit lower. Yes the birdie on 11 was a rare feat, Woods should have birdied 13, and 17. He played a great little baby draw into a tucked left pin on 17 and his putt just did not break like he thought it would. And a par on 18 left him shooting a 68 on day 2, and -6 for the tournament heading into the weekend at The Masters.

The third round was much of the same and if not better. Four straight pars and the standard for the week bogey on 5 left Tiger at 1 over on the day through 5 holes. Tiger was patient all week, but this patience really showed on the weekend. After this frustrating bogey on 5, Tiger rolled in three straight birdies on 6, 7, and 8. All of a sudden from 1 over through 5, Tiger sat at 2 under through 8. The shot on 7 was one of his best of the week. A hold off fade that just rode with the wind, landed a foot from the pin, and stayed there. Another misread on 8 lead to around a 15 footer for eagle sliding by on the left side leaving Tiger with a birdie. Another fantastic back nine with birdies on 13,15, and 16. One of the best moments of the tournament could be the putt on 16 from like 8 feet in which Tiger walked in like it was 2005 all over again, especially with the mock turtle neck. 11 under for the tournament and trailing leader Francesco Molinari by 2 heading into the final round.

Fans and players around the world braced themselves for what could be one of the most historic days in all of sports. The day that people have waited so long for. 14 years to be exact. The final round started just the way every other round did. A par to begin with, but it was a clutch, very fast, downhill slider on 3 that he buried for birdie and put a little pressure on Molinari. Bogeys on 4 and 5 killed pretty much all of his momentum. Another bad bogey on 10 and a final one on 18 combined with birdies on 7, 8, 13, 15, and a almost hole-in-one on 16. Tiger’s patience finally proved to be the X-factor on the famed 12th hole, Golden Bell. Molinari, Koepka, and Finau all put it in the water while Tiger took it over the middle of the front bunker, safely on the green. But to be honest, almost made a bogey. Walking up to the reception on 18 and making the final putt, you could see the sheer excitement and happiness on Tiger’s face.

As for the rest of the majors, Tiger is very familiar with 2 out of the remaining 3. Bethpage and Pebble are two courses Tiger has won majors at. Most famously the 2000 U.S. Open where he won by 15 shots and computer simulations literally cannot even reproduce what he did. As well as a wire-to-wire win at Bethpage Black in 2002 where he was the only player to finish under par. I do not think Tiger will capture another major this season and I believe this is his best shot to win a major outside of Augusta again. This is only due to his prior history at these courses. I think that if he wins a major again this season it is the US Open at Pebble. However, I do not think that The Masters is going to be his last win this season. I think that he will definitely win again on tour and I believe he will capture Sam for the most wins all-time.

Tiger is playing some really great golf right now. All of the talks about “he’s back” and “the Tiger we know is back” is a bit outrageous. THAT Tiger will NEVER be back. During he rise, the rate he won at is absolutely absurd. The way he closed out, and just the sheer intimidation will never be back IN FULL. I do agree a little has come back. When players see his name they do get a little nervous. Not to the point they used to, but there is a little there. Do not be surprised to see this as a regular thing from Tiger.

Prospect Profile: Luis Robert, CHW

To start of the “Prospect Profile” series, we will be taking a look at White Sox superstar outfielder, Luis Robert.

Height:6’3″ Weight: 185 lbs. Age: 21

Position: OF (CF) Bats/Throws: R/R ETA: Early-mid 2020

Overview Luis Robert is an excellent athlete, and among the most promising talents in the White Sox organization. Having been signed in 2017, Robert’s first two pro seasons were very respectable, although both were shortened due to injury trouble. So far in 2019, Robert has been fully healthy, and his stats could not be any better. Through his first 12 games he is hitting .471, with an OBP of a whopping .518. Not only having an excellent stint at the plate, Robert has flashed his 5 tool talent with 5 HRs and 6 SBs during the same timespan. On pace for well over a 20/20 season, Robert is a guy who could hit 30 HRs or record 30 SBs in any given season. For the first time, fully healthy, it appears as if Robert has exceeded expectations and will make his massive 26 million dollar contract well worth it.

The hope in Chicago is that Robert will pair up with Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jiminez to bring a championship to the city. All three are very young international players under contract for at least 5 years. While Jimenez and Moncada were both ranked among the top 3 prospects in all of baseball while Robert is ranked in the mid 20’s, I could easily see Robert outperforming both. With 3 positions in the lineup locked for years to come, the White Sox are building a dynasty which Robert will play a huge role in.

Ceiling: Mike Trout – Mike Trout is the ultimate 5-tool player, and it is unlikely that Robert will ever reach Trout’s level, but if Robert reaches his true potential, he has as good a chance as any prospect to reach the same status. The start to his 2019 season as a prime example, Robert has the ability to absolutely dominate competition with his superior athleticism and combination of raw power and speed. At his prime Robert could hit around .300 with 25+ HRs and 30 SBs. If he can work on his approach at the plate and cut down on his strikeouts (something he has done early 2019), Robert could be a top 5 outfielder in all of baseball.

Projection: Yoan Moncada – There are some very obvious differences here. Moncada is an infielder while Robert is in the outfield. Moncada is a switch hitter whereas Robert is right handed. These differences aside, if looking upon the two purely based on projected stats, I can’t think of a better comparison. Both players are young, international players from Cuba. Both were highly rated prospects in the same organization. Both are high ceiling guys with strikeout concerns. Both will likely be at least 20/20 guys, although both may struggle to make contact consistently. A fair projection for Robert is a .270 AVG with 18 HRs and 25 SBs.

Floor: Billy Hamilton – If Robert’s hit tool and plate discipline don’t translate to the MLB level, his speed and defensive skills certainly will. Even if he turns out to be a below average hitter, he would still make a big impact with his other tools. At his worst I could see Robert slashing .240/.300/.410 with an elite 2.5 dWAR (defensive wins above replacement), and at least 15 SBs.

Player Grades: Contact: B Power: B- Speed: A+ Fielding: B+ Arm: A Potential: A+ Overall: A-

2019 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Round 1

With the NFL Draft beginning in just about a week, it seems like as good of a time as any to release my first official mock draft. After gathering information from all across Draft Twitter, scouting reports, player film, and the league’s rumor mill, this is as good of an explanation as I can give as to what should happen in this year’s draft. Obviously this won’t be accurate at all (no mock drafts are accurate), but based off of team needs and prospect buzz, these are my predictions.

  1. ARI: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma – The media’s confidence in Arizona selecting Murray with the first pick is decreasing. The trade buzz around Josh Rosen is slowly dying, and I highly doubt that Arizona would draft Kyler with Rosen still on the roster. Kyler is one of the better QB prospects of this decade despite his height concerns, and I think that he’ll go first overall to whichever team ends up with this pick.
  2. SF: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama – San Francisco has a ton of money and talent tied up at EDGE so it would make sense for them to take Williams with this pick. SF just put money into Dee Ford, which is probably why they’ll go with Williams, who’ll still be a game wrecker. He dominated thoroughly at Alabama, pretty much destroying the interior of every offensive line he faced this past season. He has good hands, a high motor, and fantastic size, all which will translate to the NFL.
  3. NYJ: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State – Is pretty much a photocopy of his brother Joey, except with much more refined pass rushing moves for his age. He’s also slightly more athletic than his brother. Getting Bosa at #3 will give the Jets the dominant pass rusher that they’ve been searching for since John Abraham left.
  4. OAK: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky – There’s no replacing a player of Khalil Mack’s caliber, but Josh Allen would be a great consolation. He’s extremely versatile, he can work as a pass rusher or as a coverage linebacker. His strong suit is by far as an edge rusher, both as a 3-4 linebacker and a 4-3 defensive end. This versatility makes him an excellent pick for Oakland.
  5. TB: Devin White, ILB, LSU – He has excellent range, although I think he’s being hyped up too much. I don’t see what makes him so much better than Deion Jones, a similarly quick ILB from LSU, who was taken in the second round in 2016. I still think he’ll be a good player, and he’s going to be picked high due to the lack of depth at ILB in this class.
  6. NYG: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State – I really have no idea what the Giants are going to do here. Dave Gettleman seems to still have attachment issues with Eli Manning, but I have a feeling that it’s just a smoke screen. Dwayne Haskins was a one-year starter for Ohio State, setting Big Ten records in passing yard and passing touchdowns. He has an NFL build, although he’s terribly slow and a bit unathletic.
  7. JAX: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama – Jonah Williams is being supremely underrated. He’s not a guard, he’s not an RT. He is a franchise LT, and he has done nothing to disprove this in his two extremely productive seasons at Alabama. The Jaguars are a team with a ton of holes on offense, so you can never go wrong with the best available player.
  8. DET: Ed Oliver, DE/DT, Houston – The Lions will be lucky if Oliver slides this far, but I think it’ll happen. He’ll replace Ziggy Ansah with ease. He has as high of potential as anyone in the draft. Crazy Stat: He had a faster 20-yard shuttle than Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey. At 280 pounds. Also, his 3 Cone Shuttle time would’ve placed him in the Top 5 of this class’s WRs. He’s undersized at around 6’1″, but just like Geno Atkins and Aaron Donald, his lateral speed will make up for his lack of size.
  9. BUF: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Missouri – The Bills need offensive weapons, but I don’t think any of this year’s receivers are worthy of a Top 10 pick. Montez Sweat would be a nice addition to their already solid pass rush. I predict a trade back for the Bills, but if not, Sweat has about as much potential as any edge rusher we’ve seen.
  10. DEN: Devin Bush Jr., LB, Michigan – This is a perfect fit for a team with a glaring need at ILB. Coverage linebackers are at an all-time premium in the NFL, and Bush can cover the field as well as any LB with his sub 4.5 40 speed. He’s also the most talented pass-rushing inside linebacker in this draft. Bush is a little undersized at 5’11”, but he plays much bigger than what he’s listed at.
  11. CIN: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington – Murphy has incredible ball skills and good measurables, and is more disciplined than Greedy, who I think is the second-best CB. He’s a good fit for Cincinnati, but he’d be a good fit anywhere, he’s explosive and has the best instincts out of any cornerback in this draft. Him and William Jackson III would make for one of the best young secondaries in the NFL.
  12. GB: TJ Hockenson, TE, Iowa – Outside of the top three picks, I don’t think you can get any safer than Hockenson in this draft class. Luckily for the Packers, they need a TE. Hockenson is a great receiver, great blocker, and he’s been through the same coaching as All-Pro TE George Kittle at Iowa.
  13. MIA: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri – Personally, I don’t love Drew Lock as a prospect. However, the QB room in Miami is looking extremely dire, featuring Ryan Fitzpatrick and Luke Falk as QB1 and QB2, respectively. It sounds like a crime, putting a rookie QB into a system with a new (defensive) head coach, but the Cardinals did it last year. If there’s any organization dysfunctional enough to make the same mistake this year, it’s the Miami Dolphins. Lock has an NFL-level arm, and the production in college to back it up. He has accuracy concerns though.
  14. ATL: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida – Although the Falcons tried to upgrade their talent at tackle with their signing of Ty Sambrailo, they don’t have much of a future at RT. I If Hockenson slips, I could see them going with a TE here. They need an upgrade at CB and EDGE too, so their pick is a toss-up. I could also see them taking Rashan Gary or Brian Burns here too.
  15. WSH: Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan – If I had to pick one first-round-projected prospect that I trust the least, it would be Rashan Gary. He’s an athletic marvel, but there are serious concerns with his pass-rushing inconsistency and his unreliable work ethic. It works out, though, because the organization that I trust the least is the Washington Redskins, who could pick Gary to replace an aging Ryan Kerrigan.
  16. CAR: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson – This is one of my favorite potential picks of the first round. Ferrell is being overlooked when it comes to this class of edge rushers. He set the edge for Clemson’s 3-4 just as well as anyone in CFB, and I think his talents will translate directly to what the Panthers run in Carolina. 19.5 TFL and 13 sacks on that stacked Clemson line are insane, and he has the pro-level measurables to back everything up.
  17. NYG: DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss Player Comparison: With this pick, I think the Giants will try to make a splash. There isn’t a more splash-inducing pick than DK Metcalf. After trading Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants have no deep threats at wide receiver. And when you’re a team that’s (not admittedly) rebuilding, you’re more adept at taking risks in the draft, which is precisely what Metcalf is; a risk. College production isn’t always an indicator of NFL success (George Kittle), and Metcalf may be one of the most physically talented receivers the NFL’s ever seen.
  18. MIN: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson – The Vikings need to address two significant sections of their roster in this draft: Their defensive line, and their offensive line. In my opinion, the class of offensive linemen is slightly deeper than the defensive line class this year, so in round one, I have them choosing a defensive tackle that will eventually take Linval Joseph’s place. Wilkins eats space like no other DT in this class and has the agility and lateral speed to become a run-stuffing stalwart in the NFL.
  19. TEN: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa – Titans GM Jon Robinson has sneakily built one of the deepest and balanced rosters in the NFL; there are just about zero red flags when it comes to their needs in this year’s draft. However, after Delanie Walker’s gruesome ankle injury this past season, it is time for the Titans to find their future at Tight End. Noah Fant would be a great fit on just about any team, and I think he’ll come in and make an immediate impact for the Titans. He was highly graded in his junior season at Iowa, and he had WR-like numbers at the combine. He needs to add muscle and weight to his frame to adjust to the physicality of the NFL, but I think he’s still a solid prospect.
  20. PIT: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU – Williams is a sticky, agile man-to-man cover corner, with great instincts and natural talent while playing the ball in the air. He’s long and athletic, he’ll be able to run with almost anyone and challenge almost anyone physically. He doesn’t love to defend the run, but the Steelers have been drafting a ton of non-tackling defensive backs lately with players like Artie Burns and Senquez Golson.
  21. SEA: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State – This past season, Seattle solidified its identity as a run-first team; ignoring the emergence of the high-powered, pass-first offense that is dominating the new NFL. Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has dedicated his life to perfecting the art of the power run scheme, and for that to rise to its full potential, the Seahawks need to add more talent to its offensive line. They already have Duane Brown at LT, but he’s aging, and they Dillard can still fill in at RT.
  22. BLT: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma – Despite his below-average stature and concerning weight, Marquise Brown has maintained a first-round status throughout combine season. He’s the most talented route-runner in this class, and he has Desean Jackson-esque burners. He’s pretty much a souped-up version of John Brown, a player that the Ravens lost this offseason.
  23. HOU: Dalton Risner, OT/OG, Kansas State – Dalton Risner is one of the more underrated players of this draft class. I’ve seen several experts that are projecting him as a guard in the league, but after four extremely productive seasons at tackle for Kansas State, I see no physical or football-related reasons for him converting to guard. Houston’s offensive line is unarguably the worst in the NFL, and their number-one priority for this draft HAS to be to protect Deshaun Watson more, who is the future of their franchise. I can see Risner as a franchise LT, which would be insane value at 23.
  24. OAK: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State – Oakland is (in)famous for taking freakish athletes with their high picks. Obi Melifonwu, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Darren McFadden; players along those lines. Brian Burns fits right in with those guys. He ran a 4.5 40 and broad jumped about eleven feet at around 250 pounds at the NFL Combine. Those types of numbers are unheard of (unless we’re talking about Montez Sweat). Brian Burns is a high-ceiling, productive edge rusher that could somewhat fill the shoes of players like Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, two pass rushers that the Raiders have gotten rid of lately.
  25. PHI: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama – According to Pro Football Focus, there are five college running backs in the past 6 years with running and receiving grades above an 85: Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, Joe Mixon, and Josh Jacobs. All four of these players have translated exceptionally well to the pros, and I have no doubts that Jacobs will be elite. It works out well, as the Eagles probably have the most significant need for a running back, and although I disagree with drafting running backs early, they have very few holes on their roster outside of running back.
  26. IND: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame Jerry Tillery is one of the more underrated prospects in this class. He’s an incredibly disruptive pass rusher, possibly as effective as any interior pass rusher in this class. (Except for Quinnen Williams) He’s a little inconsistent in run defense, which is the cause for his lack of hype. In the right scheme, he could become one of the league’s premier pass rushers. The Colts are a franchise with a ton of momentum, and hitting on a player like Tillery could push Indianapolis into the upper echelon of AFC teams.
  27. OAK: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama – The Raiders knock out another team need with this pick. Thompson is a player with limited range athletically, but his instincts and playmaking are what propels him into the first round. After whiffing on Obi Melifonwu and reaching for Karl Joseph, the Raiders hopefully can counter their tendencies of falling for uber-athletic players, and instead, take a much safer prospect in Deionte Thompson.
  28. LAC: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State – The Chargers have just about an equal need for depth at interior defensive line and offensive line, so with the 28th pick, I have them taking the best available player of the two positions. Although he recently suffered a torn ACL, Jeffery Simmons was an absolutely dominant player at Mississippi State, comparable to what Fletcher Cox did during his time there. He was a monster in the run and pass game, and the Chargers will be lucky if he slides due to his injury.
  29. KC: Taylor Rapp, S, Washington – This pick fills one of many holes on the Kansas City defense. Come to think about it, the only position that isn’t a need on their defense is in their interior defensive line. That is a problem. If I were the Chiefs, I wouldn’t select a single offensive player in this draft. Taylor Rapp played well at Washington, and he’ll be a fine pro.
  30. GB: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss – A.J. Brown could go anywhere from the 15th overall pick to the 45th overall pick in this draft. Personally, I think he has a ton of talent and a ton of charisma. Brown can be an elite receiver out of the slot or outside of the numbers. He’s a crisp route runner, and he has a strong build with good height. There aren’t many concerns with his hands, about zero total red flags. He’d work beautifully with Aaron Rodgers, who’s desperate for a middle-of-the-field receiver.
  31. LAR: Garrett Bradbury, OG/C, NC State -Garrett Bradbury is an excellent fit for the Rams, an organization with a quickly aging offensive line and a Super Bowl window that’s wide open. He plays as hard as any O-Lineman in this class, and he does it efficiently.
  32. NE: Jonathan Abram, S, Mississippi State – The Patriots’ most glaring need is at playmaking positions like wide receiver and tight end. Given Bill Belichick’s inability to draft wide receivers, I believe that the Patriots will avoid that position in the first round, especially given the depth at WR. Instead, the Patriots improve the depth of their secondary, the unit that can be most credited for winning their past Super Bowl. Abram is an active, instinctual, hard-hitting safety that can properly replace Patrick Chung, who is getting older and has been riddled with injuries lately.