What to Expect From the Carolina Panthers

At this point every year, I sit down and talk myself into the Panthers going anywhere from 11-5 to 13-3. This year however, I am struggling to get to that point, but don’t worry, after enough time I got there. Throughout this post, I am doing to mention and breakdown a couple of players, do a quick run through of their draft, and end it with a complete breakdown of their schedule.

Obviously there is Luke Kuechly, Cam Newton, and Greg Olsen. They HAVE to preform and stay healthy for the Panthers to have ANY kind of success. Obviously the secondary has not shown up at all for the past few season, but I expect that to change. Bradberry and Jackson are both going to have fantastic years. Eric Reid is going to return to form, and we welcome back Tre Boston, who can remember the energy we need to have to match the 2015 season. As for the linebackers, a key offseason signing of Bruce Irvin is going to, in my opinion, prove very crucial as he will be able to pass off a ton of his knowledge to our already talented linebacker group. Every year this player seems to be “the breakout guy” but he never has proven to be. And that is Shaq Thompson. A tremendous outside linebacker, but has never taken it to the next level that the Panthers are looking for. And then we get to the front four. Fantastic. Gerald McCoy was a great offseason acquisition and I am predicting a bounce back season for Dontari Poe. You can always expect KK Short to have a great year along with Mario Addison. And then there is the newcomer Brian Burns, and I will touch on him later. But I will say one thing, I am very excited for this man to join the Carolina Panthers. VERY.

As for the offense, the offensive line is terrible. Just terrible. A somehow ranked middle of the pack pass blocking o-line, they have got to just add a few more seconds for Cam. And part of this is on Cam too. He takes way to long for a play to develop. He needs to go through his drop back and by the time his back foot plants know who he is throwing too. As for the run block, we were the 6th worse run blocking team. And if you think of how good McCaffrey was, just imagine him on a team that could actually block for him. Wild right. I think the run block is going to make a lot of improvements and the pass blocking is actually going to suffer. Which brings me to my next point, Cam Newton. What a wild ride he is. Cam needs to stay healthy if the Panthers want ANY sort of success. Coming off a shoulder surgery, I think we are going to see a Cam Newton similar to his MVP season. DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel are both going to have breakout seasons with this improved Cam Newton and McCaffrey is going to continue to be one of the best backs in the league.

Now for the most interesting part. Dissecting the Panthers schedule. Probably none of what I actually said above is going to happen which means that the next part is also gonna be wrong.

Week #1: At home playing the Los Angeles Rams

Plain and simple the Panthers are going to get thrashed. We are not going to come out hot, the Rams are going to run all over us and just dominate us. Very little chance the Panthers actually win this game.

Week #2: At home playing the Tampa Bay Bucs

After a probable demoralizing loss in week one, the Panthers are going to come back strong in a early division game. It is always going to be a tough game with the NFC South, but the Bucs are definitely the easiest team to play. I believe the Panthers will come out on top but it won’t be easy.

Week #3: Away playing the Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals are probably going to be one of the worst teams in football. However, the Panthers can never get up for these kinds of games. They seem to play down to the level of the opponent. However, the Panthers are going to win this game easily and it won’t be much of a contest.

Week #4: Away playing the Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson is going to pick apart the Carolina Panthers. We will have no solution. We will lose this game to get to 2-2 on the season through 4 games.

Week #5: At home playing the Jacksonville Jaguars

This is going to be one of the closest games of the Panthers season. I believe that we are going to come out on top after a tough battle and improve to 3-2.

Week #6: Away playing the Tampa Bay Bucs

The Panthers will easily win this game. It won’t be much of a challenge, but will prove to be a very big win as we will continue to gain momentum. 4-2 on the season and getting into a rhythm.

WEEK 7 BYE

Week #8: Away playing the San Francisco 49ers

The Panthers should easily win this game. 5-2 on the season.

Week #9: At home playing the Tennessee Titans

I do not like Mariota and especially don’t think his career is going ANYWHERE. Panthers win another easy game to get to 6-2.

Week #10: Away playing the Green Bay Packers

Away at Lambeau is always challenging. Especially if the Packers have a defense which I believe they will be pretty tough this year. Panthers drop this game. And it won’t be close.

Week #11: At home playing the Atlanta Falcons

NFC South games are always challenging whether it is home or away. Panthers win this game behind a fantastic McCaffrey game. 7-3.

Week #12: Away playing the New Orleans Saints

We get smashed. Never can play the Saints. Kamara tears us apart. 7-4.

Week #13: At home playing the Washington Redskins

I believe by this time Haskins is going to be playing for the Redskins and he torches us. Panthers drop back to back games to get to 7-5 on the year.

Week #14: Away playing the Atlanta Falcons

Panthers lose three straight and start to get frustrated with the way things are going. After a close loss in Atlanta the Panthers begin to think about firing Ron Rivera. 7-6 on the year.

Week #15: At home playing the Seattle Seahawks

Four straight losses for the Panthers after a great start to the season leads to even more thought about Rivera’s job security. 500 on the year sitting at 7-7 with 2 weeks left.

Week #16: Away playing the Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are going to be one of the worst teams in football. Panthers win this one to at least finish at 500 for the season. It seems as if Rivera will be safe. 8-7.

Week #17: Away playing the New Orleans Saints

The Panthers get absolutely embarrassed in this game. Finishing at 500 on the season and not making the playoffs, Rivera is definitely on the hot seat. 8-8 on the year. Disappointing to say the least.

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.

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.

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: 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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.