Michigan at Notre Dame: Betting trends, things to watch
What Though the Odds: Notre Dame - Michigan Spread
Notre Dame vs. Michigan: Betting Line, Odds, Prediction
NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2020
We have talked a lot about the draft, biggest remaining needs for every NFL team, some breakout candidates and other stuff, so let’s now get back to more of a big picture and look at some teams from an angle of where could they go next season. In this article, I am analyzing those teams that finished fourth in their division this past year and why they could win it in 2020 or land at the bottom once again, plus an outlook where I actually see them. Of course much of this is about these eight teams and how much better or worse I feel about them than the general public, but it was heavily dependent on their three division rivals as well. The top half I could certainly see earn a playoff spot and surprise some people if everything goes right. After that a lot of my faith is more built around the lack of great competition and giving some hope to these respective fan bases. As the cliché goes – everybody is 0-0 right now. https://preview.redd.it/rs90lt6ckf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3ddfc8945862472b52b5ef8c69076acde904c44c
1. Arizona Cardinals
Why they can win the division: Let’s just start with the main point here – this Cardinals squad has all the ingredients to make a big jump in 2020. I expect Kyler Murray to enter the superstar conversation in year two, after impressing with his arm talent and ability to extend plays in a (somewhat controversial) Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Steve Keim managed to unload a bad David Johnson contract and basically acquire an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick. Kenyan Drake now has a full offseason to learn this offense and make himself a major factor once again, following up an outstanding second half of the season once the Cardinals traded for him with Miami. He perfectly fits into this offense with a lot East-West based rushing from shotgun sets and his involvement in the pass game, including those quick throws as an extension of the rushing attack. Arizona’s defense should be a lot better with run-stoppers being added in the draft that fit their 3-4 base front with Utah’s Leki Fotu and LSU’s Rashard Lawrence, since they can stay in those packages against the other teams in their division running a lot of 12 and 21 personnel probably. Add to that a do-it-all player with ridiculous range and overall athleticism in Isaiah Simmons at eight overall, plus all the other guys being in their second year under DC Vance Joseph. I love Budda Baker as a missile from his safety spot and I think some of the other young guys on that unit will take a step forward, like second-year corner Byron Murphy, who I talked about last week. Now let’s get to rest of the West – every other team in that division has some issues. The 49ers are facing the objects of a potential Super Bowl hangover and some limitations with Jimmy G at the helm. The Seahawks have question marks on the edge on either side of the ball with Cedric Ogbuehi and Brandon Shell fighting for the starting gig at right tackle and Jadeveon Clowney still on the open market, with a bunch of draft picks these last couple of years having to step up. And the Rams had one of the worst O-lines in football last season and they lost some pieces on defense. The Cardinals already gave all these teams issues in 2019 and have now added pieces that were clearly missing when last matching up against each other. Why they could finish last again: Most importantly, I am still not completely sold on the Cardinals offensive line, with D.J. Humphries being signed to a rather expensive deal as a below-average left tackle, third-rounder Josh Jones – while earning a late first-round grade from me – still needing an overhaul on his footwork before he can slide in at right tackle and guard Justin Pugh finally having played a full 16 games for the first time since 2015 last season. NFL coaches had a lot of time to study Kliff Kingsbury’s Air-Raid offense, which when you break it down is pretty simplistic in the amount of schemes they run. Yes, he diversified it a little as last season went along, going under center and running some pro-style rushing plays, but at its core, you can learn how to create some issues for all those mesh concepts and spread sets. As far as the Cardinals defense goes, it is more about pieces than proven commodities. Patrick Peterson is seemingly on the decline, they are thin in the secondary and could Chandler Jones follow soon, after he has been one of the most underrated pass-rushers in the league for a while now? You are staring the reigning NFC champs in the eyes, a team that was a few inches away from earning a playoff bye and another squad that went to the Super Bowl just two years ago. This is probably the best division in the entire league. Bottom line: I still believe the 49ers have done enough to repeat as division champs, re-tooling for all the losses they have suffered this offseason. However, I’m feeling pretty good about the Cardinals earning a wildcard spot. While I believe in the Seahawks quarterback and the Rams head coach respectively to not allow their teams to not have throwaway seasons, I also see enough issues with those squads to make me believe the Cardinals could have the second-best year of anybody in the West. To me they are pretty clearly the best of these eight teams, because they have a young phenom at quarterback, stars at pretty much every position, a different type of system around them and what I’d like to call “juice” coming into 2020. https://preview.redd.it/anrr9erfkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=5655b4452baff2691a0e060e8d70918d58801a4c
2. Detroit Lions
Why they can win the division: Matt Stafford is back healthy and when he was in the lineup last season, this was a team that defeated the Eagles, Chargers and only didn’t finish the job against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs because of some crazy stuff going on late. The veteran QB stood at 19 touchdowns compared to five picks and was playing at a near-MVP type level. However, Detroit’s identity will be built on the run game with re-investments in the offensive line as well as adding D’Andre Swift to form a dynamic one-two punch with him and Kerryon Johnson. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones may be the most underrated receiving duo to go with Danny Amendola as a tough guy in the slot and T.J. Hockenson coming into year two as a top-ten pick a year ago, having shown flashes when he was healthy. The defense is finally starting to take shape with third-overall Jeffrey Okudah as an elite corner prospect being added to an underrated secondary, Jamie Collins being a chess piece in the front seven after already having worked well with Matt Patricia and some young guys up front trying to prove themselves to go with the versatile Trey Flowers. Maybe more importantly than the Lions themselves – Nobody else got that much better and none of the other three really stand out to me. Other than the Vikings probably – who had the advantage of making a record-breaking 15 selections – the Lions might have had the best draft within the division. Thanks to that last-place schedule, they get to face the Redskins in the East (instead of Eagles & Cowboys) and Cardinals in the West, who I just talked about taking a step forward, but are still a better draw than the reigning conference champions or possibly having to travel to Seattle. I believe that new regime in Detroit has finally built an identity on both sides of the ball with the heavy investments in the run game and back-seven on defense. Winning ten games might earn you a division title, if everybody plays each other tough. Why they could finish last again: Can these guys finally stay healthy? Matt Stafford to my surprise played a full 16 games in eight straight years before last season, but a lot of that had to do with his toughness to fight through pain and he had major issues with that shoulder early on in his career before basically breaking his back after putting the team on it for the last decade. Kerryon Johnson has missed 14 of 32 possible starts and he has never carried the ball more than 118 times a season. Their receiving corp has been banged up quite a bit too. More glaring even – how will all these additions of former Patriots players work out? Can Matt Patricia build a New England 2.0 in Michigan or is he just bringing in players he knows will listen to him and the way he wants things to be done? Detroit could also rely on a lot of rookies to be immediate impact players – possibly two new starting guards on offense, running back D’Andre Swift probably sharing the load with Kerryon, Jeffrey Okudah having to immediately become their CB1 and Julian Okwara being asked to become a much more consistent player if they give him major snaps. And I recently talked about how their uncertainty at punter could be an issue for their ball-control, defense-minded style of play. They also have an early bye (week five), which I’m never a big fan of, after facing the Bears, Packers, Cardinals and Saints, which probably includes three playoff teams. If Chicago can get any competent QB play, all these teams should be highly competitive. Bottom line: I don’t think any team in this division wins more than ten games. Unfortunately I don’t see the Lions go over that mark themselves either. The Packers won’t come out victorious in so many close games (8-1 in one-possession affairs), the Vikings have lost a few proven commodities and look for young talent to immediately replace those and the Bears still have a quarterback competition going on. So if Detroit can do any better than just split the season series with those three teams, I see them finishing above .500, but ten wins is the ceiling for me. In terms of the competition inside the division, the Lions may be my number one team in this conversation, but I see a much clearer path to things crashing down for Matt Patricia and them having another disappointing season than I do with the Cardinals. No team in this division may finish below that 8-8 mark. https://preview.redd.it/7ivo914ikf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=d029ddd274b78e78f5bc932d00086b8c697a466e
3. Miami Dolphins
Why they can win the division: When you ask the general public, the Buffalo Bills right now are the favorites to win the AFC East, but they haven’t done so since 1995 and they still have to prove they really are that team. The Patriots lost several pieces on defense and Tom Brady of course, which probably leads them to starting a quarterback, who over his four career pass attempts has thrown more touchdowns to the opposing team than to his own. The Jets are still building up that roster, with GM Joe Douglas trying to plant seeds on burnt earth, and they face a BRUTAL schedule. So Miami has a lot of things going in their favor for an organization that I believe in what they are trying to build. Depending on what happens at quarterback, you could have a veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was by far the best inside the division in several key categories last season and/or Tua Tagovailoa, who had one of the most prolific careers we have seen from anybody in the SEC. They added at least two new starters on the O-line, they now have one of the premiere cornerback trios in the league with the all-time highest paid player at the position in Byron Jones and first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene to go with Xavien Howard and with some added beef up front, they are finally looking a lot like what Brian Flores had in New England. DeVante Parker really broke out over the second half of 2019 and Miami should have a much better rushing attack because of the additions up front and two quality committee backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida being added. They have two other young pass-catchers ready to break out this upcoming season in tight-end Mike Gesicki and a UDFA receiver from a year ago in Preston Williams. Whenever Tua’s name is called upon, he will be a perfect fit for Chan Gailey’s horizontal passing game. Why they could finish last again: As much as I like what I see from this entire organization, it is probably just a year too early for Miami. So many young players could be thrown into the fire and a lot of them I look at as needing that experience – 18th overall pick Austin Jackson (USC) is more of a developmental tackle still with his footwork and hand-placement issues, 30th overall pick Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn) has only played cornerback for two years and was bailed out by his athletic tools at times, third-rounder Brandon Jones has to develop more of a feel in deep coverage and at least one more rookie lineman will likely start for them. Even outside of this year’s draft class, they already had several players on their roster that are still moving towards their prime. Whether you look at last year’s first-rounder Christian Wilkins, a lot of second- and third-year pass-catchers or their young linebackers outside of Kyle Van Noy. The Bills are entering year four of that turn-around under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, the Patriots still have the greatest coach of all time and will be a tough matchup solely based on that and the Jets at least have people playing for their jobs, plus a very talented young quarterback I still believe in. As much as I doubt Adam Gase, as long as Sam Darnold doesn’t get mono again, the offense should at least be competent, and the defense could potentially have a top-five player at every level with All-Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, an 85-million dollar linebacker in C.J. Mosley and my number one prospect in last year’s draft on the interior D-line with Quinnen Williams. Bottom line: As I mentioned before, the Bills are the front-runners in this division for me. As much respect as I have for Bill Belichick, I haven’t seen enough from Jarrett Stidham to make me a believer and he shrunk in some big moments at Auburn. The Jets to me could be a lot better than they were in 2019 and still go 6-10 just because of the type of schedule they are up against. So the Dolphins to me could easily finish anywhere from second to fourth, depending on how some of the players on that roster progress. I wouldn’t bet on them actually making the playoffs, but they could absolutely be a pain in the butt for some of the better teams in the AFC and in 2021 they might be the pick here. https://preview.redd.it/nme3explkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3998c6026125c1b9b48438e3fc9afaf9601b116e
4. Los Angeles Chargers
Why they can win the division: First and foremost, this Chargers defense is absolutely loaded with no real hole that you can point to. Derwin James is back healthy after a first-team All-Pro rookie campaign, Chris Harris Jr. comes in to make this secondary one the elite units in the NFL to go with two more Pro Bowlers among it and they have some guys I expect to break out like Jerry Tillery, Drue Tranquill and Nasir Adderley. In terms of having matchup pieces and a versatile pass rush to challenge Kansas City, nobody in the league may be on the same level as these guys. Offensively, Ihave talked about how the left tackle spot is concern for L.A. with a battle between Sam Tevi and Trey Pipkins for the starting job, but the other four spots are as good as they have been in a while, acquiring Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner via trade, signing a top five right tackle in Bryan Bulaga and getting Mike Pouncey back healthy. Tyrod Taylor can steer the ship and even if Justin Herbert is thrown into the fire – which I wouldn’t recommend – they have the skill-position players and willingness to run the ball to take pressure off those guys. While the Chiefs return 20 of 22 starters from a year ago, this wouldn’t be the first time we saw a Super Bowl champion have some issues the following season and as much as we want to hype up the Broncos and Raiders, both their quarterbacks (and other players of course as well) have a lot to prove still. Outside of KC, the Chargers likely have the smallest changes to what they do other than moving on from Philip Rivers and we saw that formula work the year prior, when they challenged Kansas City until the very end for the division crown and the conference’s top seed potentially. While they probably would have liked to bring in Tom Brady over the offseason, the fact they decided against signing Cam Newton to a roster that is ready to win right now, shows you the confidence they have in that quarterback room. Why they could finish last again: I’m not a huge fan of Derek Carr, but the Chargers will probably have the worst quarterback in the division in 2020. And their starting left tackle could be the worst in the entire league. As good as their defense will probably be, you can not consistently win games in which your offense doesn’t put up 20+ points in the league today – especially when all these teams in their division have spent so much on acquiring offensive firepower these last couple of years. I believe all three of their division rivals got better this offseason and the Chargers spent their top draft pick (sixth overall) on a young quarterback, who might not even help them win games this season. As I already mentioned, Kansas City brings back almost their entire starting lineups and they went 12-4 despite Mahomes seemingly having his knee cap facing the sideline while laying on his back. I have uttered my thoughts on Denver several times now, which you can read up on later. As for Las Vegas’ new team, they did start last season 6-4 and just heavily invested into their two major issues – wide receiver and linebacker. And while I don’t like to talk about it – injuries have been a huge issue for this Chargers team in recent years and I don’t really know what it is even, but I can’t assume that they all of a sudden can stay healthy. Bottom line: In terms of talent on the roster outside of the quarterback position, you could make a pretty compelling argument that the Chargers are ahead of all the other teams on this list. That’s the reason they have a pretty high floor of finishing around .500 and if everything works out, they could absolutely be a playoff contender. However, for this exercise in particular, I believe their upside is capped by what they have under center. Tyrod Taylor can be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL this season and in terms of upside, Justin Herbert has all the tools to become a difference-maker once he steps on the field, but they don’t have the explosiveness the Chiefs or the Broncos have for that matter. With so much continuity on a team that has the best player in the entire league, I can’t go against the Chiefs and in the end we are evaluating the chances to actually win the division. https://preview.redd.it/rywropjokf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=ed77a7303af810b862abb2100c4f0b86841a2d38
5. Washington Redskins
Why they can win the division: These guys are very reminiscent of the 49ers with their defensive line, in terms of having invested a lot of high draft picks into the unit these last couple of years and now with that second overall pick bringing in a true stud from Ohio State – this time in Chase Young. When you look at all those guys up front – with the Bama boys patrolling the middle, Matt Ioannidis capable of moving around the front, Montez Sweat looking to break out in year two and Ryan Kerrigan still being there as a productive veteran – they will wreak some havoc this season. Ron Rivera could finally bring some structure to this organization and help them turn it around on defense with the addition of an old companion in Thomas Davis, plus some high-upside players like Reuben Foster and Fabian Moreau looking to prove themselves. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a very underwhelming rookie campaign, but he clearly wasn’t ready to be out there and found himself in a bad situation in terms of the support system around him. I like a lot of their young skill-position players the front office has surrounded him with, when you look at Terry McLaurin trying to become a young star in this league, who produced despite shaky quarterback play last season, Kelvin Harmon and Antonio Gandy-Golden being two big-bodied targets I liked these last two drafts, Derrius Guice hopefully finally being able to stay healthy to lead this backfield and this year’s third-round pick Antonio Gibson being a chess piece that you can manufacture touches for. Somebody I forgot to mention in this discussion recently is Steven Sims Jr., who is a jitterbug with the ball in his hands. New offensive coordinator Scott Turner will implement a system that should make life easier on his second-year signal-caller as well, while relying heavily on the run game. Why they could finish last again: Haskins is by far the least proven QB of the bunch, with Daniel Jones even being head and shoulders above him in their respective rookie seasons. No pass-catcher outside of Terry McLaurin had any major production to speak. Counting on a 37-year old Thomas Davis to not only be a leader for them, but also make plays on the field, could create issues, and Washington lost some pieces in the secondary. This offseason is a challenge for any team, that is looking to implement a new system on each side of the ball, but I think especially for a motivator like Rivera, who can give his squad a heartbeat and push them to success, not being there in person with those guys will hurt. Most importantly however, this division to me will be a two-man race between the Eagles and Cowboys – as it has been for a while now. They both will likely have top ten quarterbacks, better receiving corps, better offensive lines and more experienced defenses. The Giants may not blow anybody away coming into 2020, but looking at the two matchups from last year between them and the Redskins, Big Blue beat them 24-3 the first time around, when Daniel Jones threw one touchdown compared to two interceptions and then he diced them up for five TDs and no picks in week 16. The one area Washington would have had the clear upper hand was with their front-four, but New York just invested a lot of draft capital into their O-line to prevent that. Just go through the Redskins’ schedule and show me more than six wins. I dare you. Bottom line: These last two sentences really say it all. Even if Philly and Dallas split the season series and Washington can get a game off either one of them, it will be tough to turn around this squad as quickly as this season – with reduced practice time and team activities – to a point where they can finish above both of them. Both of them could easily win double-digit games in 2020 and while I think the Redskins are on the right track if Haskins looks more like the Ohio State version of himself, other than their defensive line, no unit for them is ready to compete for the division quite yet. Just going through their schedule in an objective manner, it is tough to find any lay-ups and say Washington has some baseline of wins they count on. To not have them any lower than this is more due to the respect for Riverboat Ron and how high I was on a lot of the guys they drafted recently. https://preview.redd.it/szpawv9rkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=62ca5fe882d8155d83eb3328e9bf1f1681a17384
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
Why they can win the division: I was going back and forth between my number six and seven teams, because the Jaguars are projected to pick first overall come next April for a reason – they did lose a lot of pieces. However, to me it came down to the fact that the AFC South might be won at 9-7 or 10-6 and this coaching staff actually has to win to keep their jobs. There is a lot noise about the Colts, but when you go back to last season, Philip Rivers was a turnover machine with serious questions about his arm strength. Bill O’Brien made some very questionable decisions for Houston and Tennessee is counting on a formula that is built on a 250-banger running the ball 25+ times and Ryan Tannehill finally repeating a career year, as they are coming off an AFC title game appearance. As far as Jacksonville goes, Gardner Minshew was the highest-graded rookie quarterback according to PFF and altogether I would have put him second only behind Kyler Murray. D.J. Chark broke out as one of the young star receivers and I had a first-round grade on Colorado’s Laviska Shenault if he can be healthy, because his talent is off the charts. I think the O-line would have benefitted from another tackle to kick Cam Robinson inside to guard, but those guys are some road-graders to make the run game work. Defensively the only real contributor from that Sacksonville group a couple of years ago who actually wants to be there is Myles Jack, but I really like their young duo off the edge in first-rounders Josh Allen last year and now K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU). There are some questions about the back-end, but they were built front-to-back with a lot of zone coverage behind it and depending on the development of ninth overall pick C.J. Henderson, they can roll away from him matching up with the opposing team’s number one receiver. Avoiding some of the better AFC squads altogether is pretty sweet as well, to go with facing no playoff team from last year outside their division until the middle of November. Why they could finish last again: I’m just not sure if all of these players are ready to fight for that coaching staff and organization. Two of their remaining veterans (Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue) have openly talked about how they want to be traded, they only have a few actually proven commodities on that entire roster and with the way they have unloaded big cap numbers, they have set themselves up for a true rebuild potentially, as they are expected to be in the Trevor Lawrence-Justin Fields sweepstakes come next April. Even if they can get a few breaks and the division is up for grabs, does this organization even want to win this season? If not for the injury to Jacoby Brissett in the middle of the season, all three other teams in that division would have almost certainly finished above .500 and the Colts are actually the team that improved by far the most among them. That Texans, who have actually won the South four of the last five years, including last season, may be the smallest challenge and still sweep Jacksonville. Vegas rarely misses completely and the Jaguars right now are the odds-on favorite to pick first overall come next April, with an NFL-low OveUnder of 4.5 wins on the season. And as favorable as the early portion of their schedule looks like right, check out this eight-game stretch after their week seven bye – at Chargers, vs. Texans, at Packers, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns, at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Ravens. Ouch. They might go winless over that period. Bottom line: The Jaguars to me are a very interesting team, because I believe they have accumulated a bunch of young talent, which gets lost a little when you see all the names that aren’t there anymore. There is a lot to like about this roster, when you look at what these players could develop into, but that doesn’t mean they will have success this year already. The Colts have the best 53 currently in the division (or 55 now), the Texans have the best quarterback and the Titans are coming off an AFC Championship game appearance. Gardner Minshew could make this kind of a tough decision if they end up picking anywhere after first overall and I think some of those other kids will put up pretty good numbers, but they are still pretty clearly fourth in the South as for now. https://preview.redd.it/5myv276vkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=7fb25f47d0759e9b5a07876ea01787898c6cc817
7. Carolina Panthers
Why they can win the division: Nobody knows for sure what Matt Rhule and his new coaching staff will throw at them. Joe Brady gets to work with Teddy Bridgewater once again, who he already coached in New Orleans – so there will be familiarity for him in this system and they already “speak the same language”. That young receiving corp with D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, free agency addition Robby Anderson and even an up-and-coming tight-end in Ian Thomas is pretty underrated actually, plus of course they have one of the truly elite weapons out of the backfield in Christian McCaffrey, who is probably set to break his own RB reception record once again. The Panthers defense-only draft has brought them a monster in the middle in Derrick Brown (Auburn), a really talented edge rusher in Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) on the opposite of last year’s rookie stud Brian Burns, a super-rangy safety with linebacker size in Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois), what I think is a starting corner in Troy Pride Jr. (Notre Dame) and some other pieces in the secondary. The talent is clearly there and now you bring in a scheme that is probably going to be unique for the NFL level as well, when you look at that 3-3-5 Baylor ran under Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. As much as we want to praise our legends of the game, the quarterbacks of the two front-runners in this division will be 41 and 43 years old respectively and let’s not forget that Atlanta started out last season 1-7. Why they could finish last again: Especially this offseason, without certainty if there will be anything like training camp or even a real preseason, that completely new staff with new systems they are trying to teach will certainly have some growing pains. Bridgewater has been a top-20 starting QB maybe one year of his career and even when he was applauded for the way he filled in for Drew Brees last season, he finished dead-last in intended air yards among quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts. How will that mesh with a lot of vertical targets around him? When he has those guys running free on slants and dig routes, the ball will get there, but will he be willing to throw that deep post or give his guys a chance on go-balls? Defensively they are counting on a lot of young players and they have nobody to even come close to replacing Luke Kuechly, as well as making the switch to an unproven scheme possibly, if they actually use some of those 3-3-5 looks coming over from Baylor. When you look at Rhule’s track-record, it always took him until year two to show improvement and then in that third season is when those teams can really make some noise. And that was in the AAC and Big 12 respectively. Now he is in the NFC South with a team that just went 13-3 in the Saints and a Bucs squad that already was 7-9 and lost six of those games by one score, only because despite finishing fifth in takeaways, they ranked in the bottom five in turnover differential due to easily leading the league with 41 giveaways. That should get a lot better with Tom Brady coming in, who has never even quite thrown half of Jameis Winston’s 30 interceptions in any of his 20 years in the league. Even the Falcons – for as poorly as they started last season – went 6-2 after really coming together and making some changes in their bye week last season. Bottom line: The Panthers are clearly the most unproven team in this division. While new systems that haven’t been scouted yet certainly have an advantage in terms of game-planning early on, especially in this offseason with heavily limited live reps most likely, that might equal a net minus. You have to root for a guy like Teddy Bridgewater and the way he has worked his way up to a starting spot again, but I just don’t look at him as a surefire franchise signal-caller. The other three teams in the South all have top ten quarterbacks in the league in my opinion and much more continuity around them. Until the Panthers finally get to their bye week at the start of December, I don’t see them winning more than four of those twelve games. At that point they may have their eyes on a different goal already, if Teddy B isn’t the clear answer under center. https://preview.redd.it/y7agj2n2lf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=221af0a1f689d3b19d5e250fac0b58a35877edad
8. Cincinnati Bengals
Why they can win the division: We’re not that far away from 2015, when the Bengals won the AFC North with a 12-4 record as the fifth year in a row making the playoffs. Since then this is the first time I feel like there really is change happening with this team. Marvin Lewis was replaced by a young Zac Taylor, trying to prove himself to the league, they drafted Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow first overall to replace as average a quarterback as we have had over the last decade in Andy Dalton and the front office finally spent some money in free agency. While you would think a quarterback going first overall usually comes into a situation, where he is devoid of talent around him, Cincinnati suddenly has one of the better group of skill-position players in the entire league, assuming A.J. Green is back healthy. Tyler Boyd is a stud in the slot, who will be Burrow’s version of Justin Jefferson, a 50-50 ball specialist in second-round pick Tee Higgins (Clemson) matches perfectly with Burrow’s expertise of winning with ball-placement and if they get anything from former first-rounder John Ross at least as a decoy with his speed, that’s a plus. I expect Joe Mixon to be among the league leader’s in running back receptions and be more effective in space with those receivers around him as well. The signings the Bengals have made on defense gives them a lot more talent and complements very well what they already had. D.J. Reader is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league and frees everybody up along the front, they completely overhauled that linebacker group, which was a major issue these last couple of years, they brought in a starting CB2 and nickel from Minnesota to pair up with William Jackson III, who is ready to announce himself as one of the best corners in football, and Von Bell is a great match with the rangy free safety Jessie Bates. Why they could finish last again: As talented as all those guys throwing, catching and running the ball may be, it all starts with what’s happening up front and the Bengals offensive line is still in transition. They could have two of the worst starters in the league at both guard spots and right tackle once again, with the prior ones close to reaching that bust status and Bobby Hart still somehow having a starting job. As great as Joe Burrow was last year at LSU and how clean his evaluation was, how much better than Andy Dalton will he be right away, especially going up against those scary defensive fronts inside his division? Defensively they could easily have six new starters, which obviously can be looked at as a positive sign, considering they allowed 20+ points in all but two games last season, but there is also a lack of continuity and reduced time to fit all those pieces together. Cincinnati’s coaching staff hasn’t really proven anything yet and they will be facing a massacre of a schedule, with three occasions of back-to-back road games and while three of their final four games of the season are at home, they will face the Cowboys, Steelers and Ravens, to go with a trip to Houston in-between. If they don’t beat the Chargers in the season-opener, they probably don’t get that first W until week four against the Jaguars and then they have to hope they can sneak out another one until their bye week. Baltimore is tied with Kansas City for the highest projected win total with reigning MVP coming into just his third season, Pittsburgh is favored to make the playoffs with Big Ben back under center and Cleveland was the offseason favorite in 2019, while fielding an even better roster this year. Bottom line: I feel bad for putting this team last, because I thought Joe Burrow was the top quarterback and definitely worthy of that number one pick and the Bengals finally spent big money in free agency to retool the defense. To me this is less about them than the Ravens, who just were the number one overall seed in the playoffs at 14-2 and haven’t done anything other than get better themselves, a Steelers team that made a run at the playoffs with the worst quarterback play in the league now getting Ben back and a Browns roster that is among the top ten league-wide in most people’s opinion. Still, there is a lot to like about this team at the skill-positions, which is probably behind only Cleveland in terms all the weapons they have, some young standouts on defense and hope that all of this brings a fresh breath of air. If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece (with video clips) - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/06/16/nfl-teams-most-likely-to-go-from-worst-to-first-in-2020/ You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9kCcuPobNU
The Green Bay Packers surprised just about everyone (except James Jones) with their successful campaign under first year HC Matt LaFleur. Before the season, he hired former Jaguars OC Nathaniel Hackett to fill the same role in his offense, and he elected to keep DC Mike Pettine who served in that capacity the year before under former HC Mike McCarthy. The team ended the year 13-3 on the regular season, including a complete sweep of the division, plus a win against the Seahawks in the division round of the playoffs. Despite their success, there were many critics who considered them to be the worst 13-3 team in NFL history. The Packers were accused of "winning ugly" and not resembling a true contender. Those chickens would come home to roost in San Francisco as they were no match for the 49ers in the NFC championship game. The team gave a horribly flat performance on defense, plus an offense that had no answer to San Francisco's elite defensive front 7. Even though they didn't achieve their Cinderella story, the Packers would go into the offseason with much of the starting roster returning intact for a chance at a second run in 2020. The roster is mostly comprised of players 27 or younger, and only three starters needed to be replaced from the prior season. The team is banking on the growth and development of their young players to help propel the team to that next level. Their upcoming schedule will be much more challenging than 2019's on paper, but working on building more consistency on both sides of the ball will hopefully produce a better overall "team" than the one which overachieved a year ago.
2020 FREE AGENCY
Departures: This offseason saw the end of the road for two longtime Packers in Green Bay with RT Bryan Bulaga (EYE-WAH) and ILB Blake Martinez (aka pussyfucker69). They signed deals elsewhere after giving the team many years of consistent on field play. Replacing them will not come easy. Jimmy Graham, on the other hand, will not be greatly missed. His best games of the season came in the playoffs after two seasons of dropped passes, lazy routes, and non-existent blocking. (But at least he was better than Martellus Bennett.) The only other significant loss was Tramon Williams who played lights out as the nickel corner last year. At 36 years old, it is more likely the team will go with younger and cheaper alternatives to fill his role next season, but a return to the team isn't out of the question. The contracts signed by Martinez and Bulaga, along with OLB Kyler Fackrell, should mean the Packers are in line to be rewarded three compensatory choices in 2021 in the 4th, 5th, and 7th rounds respectively. Bulaga's compensation is capped at a 5th rounder due to being a 10 year veteran. * = former starter
Bryan Bulaga *
3 yr / $30 mil
Blake Martinez *
3 yr / $30 mil
Jimmy Graham *
2 yr / $16 mil
1 yr / $4.6 mil
1 yr / $2.4 mil
1 yr / $1.3 mil
1 y $825 K
1 yr / $800 K
1 yr / $750 K
Additions: The Packers used the $8 mil in cap savings they got back from releasing Jimmy Graham to add Christian Kirksey (ILB - Browns), Ricky Wagner (OT - Lions), and Devin Funchess (WR - Colts) once they were released from their former teams. Kirksey is an athletic ILB with 4.55 speed and playmaking ability, but he has missed substantial time due to injuries recently and only played in 9 games the last two years. Wagner has had one brilliant season with the Ravens in 2017 followed by two average ones with the Lions, but a starter is a starter. Funchess is a former 2nd round pick and still only 25, so hopefully he can finally reach the potential he has flashed now that he has Rodgers at the helm. They did not sign a TE to replace Graham because the team will be using returning players instead. The favored starter is 2019 3rd round pick Jace Sternberger, after he missed most of his rookie season due to injuries. He is accompanied along with the returning ageless veteran Marcedes "Big Dog" Lewis (who is now famously known as the only 1st round player Rodgers has thrown a TD pass to). By making these moves and essentially locking up their starters pre-draft, they allowed themselves some flexibility with their approach to how they would spend their picks. *= projected starter
Christian Kirksey *
2 yr / $13 mil
Ricky Wagner *
2 yr / $11 mil
1 yr / $2.5 mil
3 yr / $2.3 mil
1 yr / $850 K
Gerald Willis III
1 yr / $675 K
Jamal Davis II
1 yr / $675K
3 yr / $13 mil
1 yr / $2.3 mil
1 yr / $1 mil
1 yr / $750 K
2020 NFL DRAFT
1 (26) - JORDAN LOVE (QB - UTAH ST) \pick acquired from Houston thru Miami for #30 and #133 overall* The Packers shocked everyone by passing on a player who may have helped the team right away when they instead traded up for Utah St. QB Jordan Love. This has been an endless point of criticism and even ridicule since the draft ended. But this pick made a lot of sense at its core. I go into much greater detail in regards to this pick elsewhere, but here are the main points that led to this selection:
The team was unable to move up for a WR they were targeting and didn't want to reach for the next one down.
They had a very high grade on Love and expected him to be gone before the #20 pick - he was probably rated higher than any other player in the draft late in round 1.
In 2017, they considered drafting Deshone Kizer at #33 but ultimately chose CB Kevin King instead. Then in 2019, they had a lot of reported interest in Drew Lock – including an official team visit. However, the Broncos moved up ahead of the Packers in round 2 to take him, so we will never know how interested Green Bay truly was. But there is a clear pattern being established of open interest in top rated QB's.
In 2020, the Packers made Jordan Love and Jalen Hurts two of their official “visits” in the pre-draft process, once again showing a clear interest in an early round signal caller.
The Packers do not believe in passing on a high rated player if he is available, especially at QB which is the most important position in the game
"I think it's always kind of been in my DNA that anywhere in the draft, if you have an opportunity to take a quarterback you really think can play, you need to consider it."
-Brian Gutekunst, GM of the Packers Jordan Love is a 6'4 and 224 lb QB with large 10.5" hands and a rocket for an arm. He is a self-described playmaker, which is evident when you watch him on tape. At Utah St in 2018, Love put on a clinic, throwing for 3500 yards, 32 TD's, and only 6 INT's. This put him on the radar as a potential top 10 or even top 5 prospect heading into the 2019 season. Unfortunately, after a coaching change and losing 9 offensive starters, Love saw a major drop in his numbers (3200 yards, 20 TD's, and 17 INT's). Love started to develop some bad habits such as staring receivers down and forcing risky throws, which is what led to the spike in turnovers. However, it needs to be mentioned that Jordan Love put the team on his shoulders all season. He frequently had limited choices available but to either try and make a play or take the sack. Had he not been dealing with this adversity, he probably would have heard his name called much sooner and the Packers would not have had a shot at him in the late 1st round.
"He’s not a bad decision-maker. That was one of my biggest pet peeves in the draft process was people calling that kid a bad decision-maker. He’s not. He’s a kid that’s played with nobody around him and he was competitive and he was trying to win football games. Did he force throws? Absolutely. Did he have to force throws? Absolutely. You didn’t see bad decision-making on ’18 tape, when he threw 32 touchdowns and six picks. You never heard those numbers brought up the whole process. All you heard was 20 touchdowns, 17 picks. Like, nobody ever went back and talked about ’18….. He is the only QB I’ve ever scouted who will be throwing into bigger windows in the NFL than he threw into in college.”
-Jim Nagy, Senior Bowl director and former NFL scout Numbers aside, there are glimpses and flashes of his game that make you swear you are watching Aaron Rodgers himself. He flourishes when the play breaks down displaying the ability to throw off various platforms to keep the play alive. Love has that same gunslinger mentality that Patrick Mahomes had at TX Tech – no throw is impossible in their minds. And when I say that Jordan Love didn’t have any help, it isn’t just making an excuse. He was essentially the only threat Utah St. had on offense in 2019, so Love took it on his shoulders to will the team forward, similar to other top picks like Daniel Jones at Duke and Josh Allen at Wyoming. As far as his fit with the Packers, clearly they have to like his arm talent and his hand size, along with his experience playing in frigid environments - those are three important boxes that need to be checked if a QB wants to succeed at Lambeau Field. One could argue that of all the QB's in this draft, Love may have the most upside just due to his physical traits but is also the least ready to play. I don't think he could have landed in a better position than on a team built to win championships with a future Hall of Famer to learn from. 2 (62) - AJ DILLON (RB - BCU) According to Peter King, the Packers were trying to trade up in round 2 for one of two specific WR's. Once Chase Claypool was selected at #49, they stopped calling teams. We can take this to mean that at that point, the Packers felt all the impact players at WR in the draft were gone. The Packers were content to look for other ways they could improve the offense. The team did not want to simply draft a receiver just to say they took one. And that's where AJ Dillon comes in. Even with the breakout season of Aaron Jones in 2019, there is reason to suspect the Packers view AJ Dillon as the long term primary RB in this offense. Unlike Jones who is a quick and elusive 5’9 and 200 lb RB, Dillon is a north/south runner with surprisingly light feet for his 6'0 and 247 lb frame. He has proven he can withstand the workload of a RB1 posting three 1,000+ yard seasons in college. Similar to Jordan Love, he did it without much of a supporting cast. He led the FBS in the amount of stacked boxes he was facing by a wide margin (46% of the time). He also led the FBS in yards after contact (over 800) because teams knew he was getting the ball but it just didn't matter - he ran it hard just the same. Dillon is best known for his balance and being able to keep himself moving through first contact. He is knocked by evaluators by his lack of presence in the passing game, catching only 21 career passes, but not being asked to do it isn’t the same as not being able to do it. Dillon also has a tendency of not exhibiting the patience to let the play develop, which leads to him missing opportunities for cut back lanes on occasion. These two things are hardly fatal flaws, and he can improve with proper coaching. But why Dillon, and why Round 2? That seems to be what gets people scratching their heads the most. Well, the Packers love to draft athletes, and as far as RB prospects go Dillon is a rare player. He is bigger than Eddie Lacy and faster than Aaron Jones. Dillon posted the best SPARQ score (97%) among all RB's at the combine, and his speed score (117) was in the 97th percentile. Running 4.53 and jumping 41" should simply not be allowed from a RB who is also 247 lbs. I also believe the front office had Dillon rated extremely high on their board compared to other options at RB. Dillon and Jonathan Taylor (96% SPARQ) had to be the 1a and 1b of this class for the Packers. Gutekunst just can't help himself, he loves size and speed. The Packers will also be facing a lot of difficult decisions with their group of free agents in 2021, which includes #1 RB Aaron Jones and #2 RB Jamaal Williams. Drafting Dillon makes it so the team can choose to keep one of those two next year, while potentially grooming their long-term starter. Now LaFleur has his own Derrick Henry that will help him run the kind of offense he wants to execute. Short yardage and goalline situations will be a different story in 2020 compared to the struggles a year ago. Frankly, fewer positions are as NFL ready as RB's are, and few of them are as rare of an athletic prospect as Dillon. He is likely going to be a big part of the offense moving forward. Especially in December and January when it is freezing cold and actual football begins. 3 (94) - JOSIAH DEGUARA (TE/HB - CINCINNATI) The Packers missed on all the WR's that might have made a difference for them, but they were ready to find a pass catcher in an unconventional way. So at pick #94, with only two TE's selected at that point (Cole Kmet and Devin Asiasi), the Packers had their choice of player at the position. It is safe to say the Packers got their preferred one with Josiah Deguara. This pick was considered a reach by most analysts when it was made, but context is important. Matt LaFleur was the QB coach in Washington in 2010 under Mike Shanahan. That year Chris Cooley, a 6'2 and 250 lb TE/HB, had 77 catches on 126 targets for 849 yards. That position was currently vacant on the Packers depth chart, so it can't be underestimated how integral this role could be going forward as LaFleur continues to shape the team to fit his philosophy. Josiah Deguara is the perfect player to fill that Chris Cooley (or Kyle Juszczyk) role in this Shanahan-style offense. At only 6'2, Deguara played in-line TE 60% of the time in college because they tried to move him around to take advantage of his versatility. He played TE, HB, FB, and WR at Cincinnati, where he ended his career as the school record holder for catches at the position with 92 catches in 2 years. The former record holder was Travis Kelce, so he is in good company. It also just so happens that Mike Denbrock, the OC for Cincinnati, coached alongside Matt LaFleur at Notre Dame previously - I bet the two discussed together all the ways Deguara could be a factor within the Packers offense. The main thing that I keep reading about Deguara is how great his character is both on and off the field. The Packers believe strongly in finding players who "carry the G", and Deguara is just a high effort, hard-working, bring-your-lunch-pail-to-work kind of guy that everyone wants to root for. He will play on all the special teams units, learn to play in whatever role the offense asks him to, and he will always give 100% effort. It would be premature to say Josiah Deguara is an impact player as a late 3rd round pick, but he is a wild card who could potentially open this offense up and take it in several new and creative directions. P.S. LaFleur showed this play during one of his team meetings in 2019 as the prime example of what it means to never give up on a play (he starts at the top of the screen as a blocker, then chases the defender down to make the TD-saving tackle). https://twitter.com/ethanthomthom/status/1254590868507557890?s=19 Six months later, the Packers selected him with the #94 pick. It is clear looking back that Deguara was meant to wear green and gold. LaFleur was more excited about this pick in his post-draft interviews than any other player chosen that weekend. 4 (133) - to Miami *traded along with #30 overall to move up to #26 for Jordan Love 5 (175) - KAMAL MARTIN (LB - MINNESOTA) Kamal Martin is one of those LB's that would have been talked about more had he not been battling injuries and been able to compete in the pre-draft functions. Injuries cut his season short to just 8 games, but he still finished with 66 total tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 FF, and 2 INT's - his knack of finding ways to always be around the ball had to stand out to Gutekunst. Jim Nagy, the director of the Senior Bowl, called Martin a top 3 senior LB and a steal for the Packers as a 5th round pick. He has prototypical size for a 3 down LB at 6'3 and 240 lbs along with 34" arms and an 81" wingspan. The Packers scouts estimated that he runs between 4.55 - 4.65 in the 40, but he wasn't able to participate in the drill while recovering from his knee injury. Martin is a former high school QB, and he uses that experience on the defensive side to help give him a unique perspective of the action in front of him. He lined up at both OLB and ILB at Minnesota and was a playmaker at both positions. And that position versatility is what attracted the Packers to him. He will need to get stronger and play with better pad level, but there is a lot going for Martin as a prospect. As the first defensive selection in the draft for the Packers, Martin will be given a chance to compete with other young players, such as Oren Burks, Ty Summers, and Curtis Bolton, for a chance to be the #2 ILB next to Christian Kirksey. Burks and Summers are two very athletic guys who have played mostly on special teams, and Bolton was a UDFA last year who made waves in preseason before getting hurt. This group is young, athletic, and horribly inexperienced, making it the most open of all the roster competitions on the team. Kamal Martin is the definition of a sleeper who could have landed in a fortuitous situation based on the uncertainty surrounding the LB group in Green Bay. He is a proven playmaker who finds ways to get to the ball, and those instincts could serve him well as he fights for a spot. Martin is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Blake Martinez to become an every down starter as a day 3 selection. 6a (192) - JON RUNYAN JR (G/T - MICHIGAN) *pick acquired from Raiders for WR Trevor Davis The Packers have had a very positive track record selecting OL on day 3 of the draft. They had three picks to spend in the 6th round, and considering they have veterans with expiring contracts coming up and nothing but UDFA's as depth, they felt it was an area of the team that could use an infusion of new competition. They have a good shot of one of the next three players becoming a starter down the road. With their first of three IOL choices in round 6, they selected Jon Runyan Jr who comes to the Packers with a great NFL pedigree (his father had a very long and successful career for the Oilers/Titans and Eagles). After being a backup OG for his first few seasons, Jr. made the switch to RT and then LT under the coaching of Ed Warriner who coached Packers center Corey Linsley at Ohio St. Jon Runyan would go on to start 25 games at LT for Michigan over the next 2 years, earning 1st team all-Big 10. While Runyan is a bit smaller than you would like out of an NFL tackle (6'4 and 306 lbs with 33" arms and a 79" wingspan), his agility and athletic ability were near the top of the draft class. He had the 3rd best 3-cone time at 7.57, and his 40 time of 5.08 was 9th best in the class. His 10 yard split of 1.79 met the threshold that you want for OL by 0.01 (good enough by NFL standards and that's all that matters). Due to his size, Runyan is more of a pass blocker than run blocker at this point in his career. He excels by using his quickness and athleticism to keep up with dangerous pass rushers but sometimes struggles with moving bigger guys back in the ground game. Runyan will compete at guard, which is what he was announced as during the draft, but his versatility makes him a potential swing tackle and utility guy in the early part of his career. Fortunately he comes from a zone blocking scheme at Michigan, which will help him adjust to the Packers version. A lot will depend on how well he transitions inside and how he makes the jump to the speed and complexity of the NFL. If he can make a similar leap like he made entering his junior season, the future looks very bright for him in the NFL. 6b (208) - JAKE HANSON (C - OREGON) *pick acquired from Titans for OLB Reggie Gilbert There is always something to be said when the Packers select a true center in the draft because they rarely do. Elgton Jenkins played 4 different positions at Miss St and JC Tretter played OT before the Packers moved him inside. The only true center Ted Thompson ever drafted was Corey Linsley - an athletically limited and undersized player but a consistent technician who played in a big time program at Ohio St. Now, Linsley at 28 years old is heading into 2020 as the 6th highest paid member of the team and 3rd highest paid center in the NFL. He is also entering the final year of his contract. Next year is going to be judgment day for many starters on the team, and decisions will need to be made to see who will be offered an extension including David Bakhtiari (LT), Kevin King (CB), Aaron Jones (RB), and Kenny Clark (DT). The Packers may not have the cap space to keep Linsley around beyond this season. The Packers also dislike handing out third contracts to their players who may be starting to head towards the back end of their careers. That means the search to find a successor is part of the plans, and that leads us to this next pick. Jake Hanson may not have had the flashiest combine (5.5 in the 40 at 6'4 and 303 lbs), but when it comes to centers, it is more about their technique and ability to make the right calls at the line. That being said, he did have 33 reps in the bench press which was #4 among all OL. Hanson comes to Green Bay as a 4 year starter who boasted 49 career starts. He was the anchor of one of the best lines in the country since he first won the job as a true freshman, and Oregon may not have been as successful without him in the middle making sure the assignments were correct. Hanson plays with an incredible motor, even if he lacks the desired size to compete against linemen one on one, but the Packers' zone system should be able to hide some of those deficiencies. He has strong hands and a sticky grip (which I'm sure will make our division rivals happy), and he works well with guards in double teams. He still needs some fine tuning with his snap placement as he can occasionally misfire out of the shotgun. But as a developmental 6th rounder, Hanson can continue working on those techniques while learning behind one of the best technicians in the game. Not to mention he can use this valuable time on the scout team practicing with Jordan Love. Should the time come when both players are ready to start, they would have already developed a rapport thanks to their time on the practice field together. 6c (209) - SIMON STEPANIAK (G - INDIANA) With the selection of Simon Stepaniak, the Packers believe they got a player who could have been selected as early as the 4th round had he not tragically torn his ACL last December. Stepaniak is the opposite of Runyan and Hanson - he is a tough-nosed mauler in the run game who likes to pick fights and look for people to punish. He played RG at Indiana, and it is likely with his 32" arms that he may be limited to play interior OL as a pro. His 37 reps (!!!) on the bench press in Indianapolis frequently showed up on tape where he routinely manhandled defenders in one-on-ones and would flatten other guys out on double teams. (The fact he could even do 37 reps while recovering from his surgery is astounding.) His main issues will be dealing with poor agility when matched up against quicker speed rushers, where relying on his upper body strength alone won't be enough. Despite his athletic shortcomings, Stepaniak allowed a pressure on only 3.3% of passing plays per PFF. With some fine tuning of his game, there is potential that Stepaniak could become the top OL of the three the Packers selected in round 6. Stepaniak resembles a guard in a power running scheme from 1993, who would rather be out hunting for defenders than settling back and waiting for them to come to him. In a way, this could be a pick for the future direction of the offense, especially after the Packers selected AJ Dillon and Josiah Deguara earlier. This shows a subtle shift in the offense away from 5 WR shotgun formations and hinting more towards pounding the rock to punish the new mold of smallefaster defenses. It makes sense that they would take a gamble on Stepaniak late this year. Even though he may wind up on the PUP/IR list, the Packers liked his talent this late in day 3. 7a (236) - VERNON SCOTT (S - TCU) *pick acquired from Browns for OG Justin McCray and #244 Who the hell is Vernon Scott? He was only Dane Brugler's 61st ranked safety out of 62 in the 2020 draft, of course! But really, this is a name that most people just shrugged their shoulders to and probably overlooked. Let me now be the one to introduce you to him. Vernon Scott is a player that is all about two things: versatility and upside. At 6'2 and 206 lbs, he has the prototype size you are looking for in a modern defensive back. He wasn't invited to the combine, and his pro day was canceled hence why he was invisible to the draft community. His athletic testing will unfortunately remain a mystery, but the Packers estimated he ran a 4.40, which would be outstanding for a player at his size. Scott was a one year starter at TCU who lined up all over the secondary. He was primarily a key contributor on special teams for all 4 years before taking over as a starter this past season. While Texas WR Devin Duvernay made him look silly in 2019 (seriously, don't watch the tape), Vernon Scott really started to come on towards the end of the year. In the last three games of the season he had 4 total takeaways, a sack, and a TD. He had a particularly strong game against Oklahoma where he made 7 tackles, a fumble recovery, and a 98 yard INT for a TD. He would finish the year with 44 tackles (4th on the team) and 7 PBU's (ranked 3rd). Where did this sudden playmaking skill come from? Scott moved to the nickel corner role, and he was told to let loose. The Packers are clearly banking that his ability as a slot CB, while also having experience playing the other 4 positions in the secondary, will translate to the NFL and give him an edge to win a roster spot. Not often is a player drafted because of a 3 game stretch, but hey, it is the 7th round so why not? He joins a secondary that is led with Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos but was often exposed when other players such as Will Redmond had to see meaningful snaps. The team also allowed Ibraheim Campbell to walk this offseason who had been with the team for two years. Needless to say, the Packers liked the direction where Vernon Scott’s arrow was pointing, and the more competition in the secondary the better. 7b (242) - JONATHAN GARVIN (OLB - MIAMI) *pick acquired from Ravens for RB Ty Montgomery Jonathan "Spider" Garvin comes to Green Bay with a nice resume from his last two years at Miami. He is an impressive physical specimen at 6'4 and 263 lbs with 34" arms and an 80" wingspan. While his 4.82 probably didn't help him, when you watch the tape his explosiveness jumps off the screen - literally. His 36" vertical was #1 among edge rushers and DL at the combine. Garvin put up 60 tackles, 17 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and 5 pass breakups his sophomore season (not to mention a fumble returned for a TD) while playing across from Joe Jackson. That sort of production tends to get a player noticed, and so his junior season in 2019 was all about fighting for whatever he could get while dealing with the extra attention. Garvin would enjoy much of his time fighting off double- and triple-teams in 2019, which caused a dip in his overall numbers from the year prior. Garvin ended the season with just 37 tackles, 9 TFL, 5 sacks, 4 hurries, and 2 FF. However, his pressure rate of 14.8% was still 5th best in the ACC according to PFF. The drop in production along with the 4.82 in the 40 is likely why he didn't hear his name called in the early part of day 3. Even so, at his size, length, and explosiveness, he could find a home as part of the rotation at OLB in Green Bay. Kyler Fackrell played over 400 snaps on defense as the #3 OLB last year while 1st round pick Rashan Gary played 245. Now that Fackrell left to join the Giants in free agency, Gary will presumably be in line to pick up the snaps left behind which still allows enough opportunities for Garvin to find a role as a situational pass rusher on defense if he can win the #4 spot. Garvin comes to Green Bay with very similar measurables as Za'darius Smith. He has the strength to hold up on the edge but also the explosiveness off the line to get up field to rush the passer. Garvin has a lot of tools to work with, and having both the Smith's as mentors could go a long way as far as how he learns to master them. The OLB depth has a lot of juice on the team for once, and Garvin makes this group even more exciting. 7 (244) - to Cleveland *traded along with OG Justin McCray for #236
OVERALL DRAFT EVALUATION
The Packers were in an interesting position heading into the draft, coming in as a 13-3 team without any major holes on the roster. All the starting spots were filled ahead of time, which already put this draft class at a disadvantage compared to other teams in the league. The rookies may not be relied upon to start or play much in 2020, barring an injury to someone ahead on the depth chart. It isn't too farfetched to think that the Packers could have selected 9 completely different players and would have received the same level of impact from this class year 1. That isn't to say some of the members of this class can't find a role as part of a rotation - I expect Dillon, Deguara, and Martin to all get involved - but there isn't a need to have any of these guys start right out of the gate. Which can be a good thing. It reminds me of the old school days where rookies yielded to veterans and had to bust their asses to earn playing time, rather than being handed a job as soon as they walked through the door. At the end of the day, regardless of what happens with any other player, this draft will ultimately be judged based on the success or failure of one single player: Jordan Love. The legacy (and possibly the future employment) of GM Brian Gutekunst is also now firmly tied to this selection. The coaching chops of Matt LaFleur will also be thoroughly put to the test to see how he develops. A lot is riding on getting this one right. But in the end, because Jordan Love plays the most important position in the game, if he becomes a successful starter, this whole draft is a win. For now all he needs to do is focus on being the best scout team QB the Packers have had the luxury to have on the team since Aaron Rodgers himself. Nothing will be easily given to Love. Proving to the organization that he is worthy of being the heir apparent to Aaron will greatly depend on how he prepares himself for what comes next.
We drafted him in the first round, we certainly think he has that kind of talent. But that’s not enough in the National Football League. You’ve got to work, you’ve got to earn it, you’ve got to become a good enough player. Again, we have one of the best to ever lace them up, and we’re shooting for championships as long as he’s here, and we expect him to be here for quite a while. -Brian Gutekunst
I've been getting a lot of individual questions so I thought we'd do a mini-update for Offense and Defense respectively QB - 0 Current QBs: 3 (Ideal is 4) Potential Departures: 0-2 2021 Needs: 1 Overview: Alabama had a 2021 QB commited, got Bryce Young in 2020 and lost their 2021 QB. This basic dynamic is probably the biggest story of Alabama's recruiting: who wants to go up against Bryce Young. Alabama is actively recruiting both prospects and is a legit options for both
Top Schools (List within the List)
1. Miller Moss - EE
4* (#52, #5 PRO)
Moss is an California QB with a big arm and a sturdy frame. Moss has a final 4 of USC, UCLA, Alabama, and LSU. LSU has a QB commit and Moss hasn't visited Baton Rouge so they aren't a legit option. Current pulse favors him staying out West (Covid should have that effect on multiple kids this cycle). UCLA does not feel good (despite a mid confidence CB pick), given their past few years and Chip Kelly's allergy to recruiting. USC is the presumed favorite, due to proximity, peer connections, and personal rooting interest but USC already has a QB in the 2021 class in high 4* Jake Garcia. Moss himself isn't bothered by multiple QBs in the same class (Bryce Young isn't a deterrant either) but there is concern on how Garcia will react. Alabama and Steve Sarkisian has recruited Moss well, prioritizing him in this class and building those relationships, so much so that sources have said that if geography wasn't as much of a factor, he would already be commited to UA. USC makes the most sense today but I do think Alabama is close and realistic option that will be close to watch over the next few weeks.
40% USC, 34% Alabama, 25% UCLA
June (Next 2-3 Weeks)
2. Texas Commit Jalen Milroe
4* (#79, #4 DUAL)
Milroe is a dual threat QB playing at the highest level in Texas and thriving as a smooth operater. Milroe and Drake Maye were the final 2 for Alabama's QB commit last summer, Drake took that spot andMilroe went to Texas. Alabama has been in contact, alongside Miami, but Milroe seems pretty solid and has been an active peer recruiter for Texas. Would take a lot to flip, as of today.
85% Texas, 15% Alabama
RB - 0 Current RBs: 7 (Ideal is 4-5) Potential Departures: 2 2021 Needs: 0-1 Overview: Alabama signed 3 RBs in 2020, so RB recruiting in 2021 is pretty far down the list. Alabama could lose its top 2 rushers and still have ideal numbers. Alabama would like a back in 2021 but it's not a requirement and I'd be hard-pressed to project any guy on this list, as of today.
Top Schools (List within the List)
1. Jaylin White
4* (#220, #13 RB)
Jaylin is a in-state RB with a compact frame, quick feet, and a slippery frame. White runs low to the ground and doesn't heisitate in his cuts. I see Jaylin as the most likely RB addition and Alabama hasn't even offered (that should tell you how RB recruiting is going in 2021). FSU has an early lead but I fell Jaylin will wait on at least one of the in-state schools to pursue him.
50% FSU, 50% Alabama
1. Donovan Edwards
4* (#37, #3 RB)
(Michigan) UGA, Penn State, Notre Dame, Alabama
Alabama has had success with Michigan RBs and Edwards is Coach Huff's top guy on the RB board. Originally seen as a likely Ohio State commit until they filled up. Michigan has surged, even ahead of UGA, and is the likely choice. I think he stays up north regardless.
50% Michigan, 30% UGA, 20% Penn State/Notre Dame, 5% Alabama
2. Camar Wheaton
5* (#16, #1 RB)
(Oklahoma, Texas) SMU, LSU, Alabama
Camar Wheaton is the nation's #1 RB; kid runs angry. General consensus is Wheaton doesn't want to go too far from home, which is why Oklahoma and Texas seems to be in a good spot alongside SMU of all schools. LSU and Alabama also have some buzz due to some campus visits last season but the current thought is staying close to home, particularly Oklahoma.
Johnson is another elite Texas RB and is a workhorse at the high school level. TAMU has surged here and though he does want to revisit UGA before commiting, this may not go past the summer
80% TAMU, 7% UGA, 7% Texas, 6% LSU
Summer or early fall
4. Kyree Young
3* (#458, #30 RB)
(Kentucky) Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, UGA, Michigan State
Kyree is a lesser known RB from Ohio. Not a ton of film at this point. Buzz is still on Kentucky
WR - 2 Current WRs: 10 (Ideal is 9+) Potential Departures: 2-3 2021 Needs: 3-4 Overview: WR is a big priority position in the 2021 class and Alabama is in on numerous elite receivers. Alabama's got a great sales pitch for 2021, with recent elite production, playing time to offer, and a shiny new QB to pass the ball. It's key for Alabama to hit on WR in this class and there's a good feeling here.
1. Jacorey Brooks - ES
4* (#38, #3 WR)
Brooks reminds me a lot of Tee Higgins: Tall/long but still quick, great on contested balls, consistent scoring threat. Alabama beat out Florida at the last minute for a guy who could end up back in the 5* range at the end of the cycle. Well respected guy in South FL and should help in peer recruiting the area in 2021 and 2022
2. Agiye Hall - EE
4* (#74, #13 WR)
Hall is another taller WR who I think is one of the best athletes in the whole class. A little raw but the ceiling is so high if he buys in. Minor risk taken by Alabama but worth it IMO and in the opinion of the staff.
Top Schools (List within the List)
1. Brian Thomas Jr
4* (#63, #9 WR)
(Alabama, LSU) UGA, TAMU
Thomas is a Louisiana receiver with big-catch ability and a surprising amount of speed. As a Louisiana recruit, his top 2 is automatically Alabama and LSU. It's still Alabama-LSU, with a slight edge to the Tide due to deeper built relationships between Thomas as the UA staff
55% Alabama, 45% LSU
2. Christian Leary
4* (#130, #23 WR)
(Alabama,) Florida, Oklahoma, Auburn
Leary is a dynamic WR and wildcat QB for his high school team. This kid can fly when he gets going. Oklahoma, Alabama, Aubrun, and Florida are his top 4 and all 4are realistic options leading up to his commitment. Leary was considered a OK silent in the spring, along with Mario Williams and Caleb Williams but a lot of that confidence has dissapated. Alabama has really surged here, selling proximity (important to mama), a professional approach and a Jaylen Waddle comparision. Florida is always an option, as the closest school an a school that's really selling the upcoming NLI situation but it feels like Alabama/Florida to me and there's Bama buzz out there now.
Johnson is another speedy receiver who can play the slot, like Leary. Johnson has been very complementary of Alabama so far and in a suprising turn, Oklahoma did not make his top 8. Alabama could be seen as the early favorite but the other SEC Powers are in her also
Hilton is another Louisiana wideout of a similar build to those Alabama and LSU had success with last year: 6 foot even, shifty, speed, and effortless cuts to shake defenders. Unlike Thomas, Hilton is more likely a LSU lean but this is a close recruitment that Alabama is still very involved in. Hinton should commit soonish
Worthy is another recent addition to the WR, with near Ruggs-esque speed and acceleration. Michigan and Oregon are the front-runner at this time but Alabama could get in the mix, depending on how long this recruitment goes and its luck with the other slot targets.
Franklin is an elite west-coast receiver defined by one word: smooth. Franklin releasted a top 4 on Tuesday of Oregon, Washington, ASU, and Alabama. Oregon is the presumed favorite, due to a great recruiting staff and buzz as the Pac-12 contender of the future, followed by Washington, whose QB and WR commits are on the same team as Franklin. Alabama has gained ground here, selling a Smitty comparison, that was unheard of in the spring but it's still difficult to see him leaving the West Coast. A lot will be dependant on what Thomas does.
50% Oregon, 25% Washington, 15% Alabama, 10% ASU
4. Malik McClain
3* (#405, #64 WR)
TAMU, Tennessee, Alabama
McClain is a former Alabama resident with Julio Jones comparision (no, really). McClain is a behemith of a receiver, who catches over, around, and through defenders; I think he could make a hell of a TE if weight was added to his frame. TAMU and Tennessee have been the early names here but as a former AL resident and Julio fan, Alabama could be in a good spot.
5. Jahlil Farooq
4* (#133, #23 WR)
(Oklahoma,) Penn State, Alabama, UGA, Maryland
Farooq is a DMV receiver that I'd call a poor man's Devonta Smith: good on the deep ball, good size, strong hands. Oklahoma is the heavy favorite, with Farooq being another Caleb Williams fan. Alabama has interest but not the connection Oklahoma has.
80% Oklahoma, 10% Penn State, 5% Alabama, 5% Everyone Else
6. Deion Colzie
4* (#45, #5 WR)
(UGA,) Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee
Colzie is another elite, tall WR native to Athens, Georgia. Until recently, Colzie was commited to Notre Dame. I am surprised he hasn't commited to UGA yet.
7. Caleb Johnson
3* (#583, #93 WR)
TAMU, Oklahoma, Alabama, UGA, LSU
A recent WR addition, Johnson is another slot guy Alabama likes. Pretty early in his recruitment so hard to say where he stands with Alabama or any other schools.
TE - 0 Current TEs: 7 (Ideal is 5-6) Potential Departures: 2 2021 Needs: 1-2 Overview: TE is another priority position in the 2021 class, as Alabama has spent the last few seasons attempting to add an elite tight end to this dynamic offense. The question right now is more on talent than numbers but Alabama will lose 2 tight ends after the season but it's more key that Alabama gets at least 1 elite player at the position.
Top Schools (List within the List)
1. Hudson Wolfe
4* (#225, #9 TE)
(Ohio State, Alabama,) Tennessee, UGA, Ole Miss
Wolfe is a big-bodied in-line blocker, but runs well with the ball in his hands and gets physical with defenders. Alabama had been a long favorite here but current belle of the ball Ohio State has locked in on Hudson Wolfe for one of their final scholarship spots and has likely taken the lead. It will be critical for Alabama to get Wolfe back on campus before he commits; otherwise, he's all Buckeye.
55% Ohio State, 45% Alabama
Preseason, maybe early Fall
2. Robbie Ouzts
3* (#755, #35 TE)
(South Carolina, Alabama,) VT, Duke, UNC
Ouzts is a Carolina TE with a big frame and long legs. Ouzts has always liked Alabama but it remains to be seen how hard the staff will push. South Carolina is the early favorite but UNC is one to watch. Currently has a preseason commitment timeline but I would bet this goes into the fall
40% South Carolina, 30% Alabama, 30% UNC
3. Gunnar Helm - EE
3* (#547, #24 TE)
Alabama, Auburn, LSU
Helm is a more recent addition to the TE board with an established connection, as his sister attends the University of Alabama, despite the family residing in Colorado. Another in-line blocker type, Helm reminds me of Hale Hentges, as a great blocker but a big rumbler with the ball in his hands. It is still pretty early in his recruitment but Alabama, Auburn, LSU would be some early realistic contenders
4. Thomas Fidone
4* (#91, #2)
(Nebraska, Iowa,) LSU, Michigan, Alabama
Fidone is a midwestern prospect, with a big frame and WR receiving skills. Fidone is highly coveted by SEC programs such as Alabama and LSU, but has focused much of his recruitment of Big10 schools closer to home. Alabama would REALLY like to get him in on a visit and Fidone does have interest there but if he sticks to his current timeline, it would be tough to project UA as the selection. LSU could be a dark horse here.
60% Nebraska, 40% Iowa
5. Cal Commit Jermain Terry
4* (#200, #7 TE)
Terry is a west-coast TE with jumbo size and big play potential. Terry is a coveted prospect for the Tide, despite being commited to Cal, and Steve Sarkesian is working hard to get him on campus in the fall. Definitely one to watch.
80% Cal, 20% Alabama
6. Mizzou Commit Ryan Hoerstkamp
3* (#937, #47 TE)
A new addition, Ryan is a recent Mizzou commit and is an active recruiter for the Tigers. Not much to see here.
OL - 0 Current OLs: 15 (Ideal is 15) - 7 OT/4 OG/ 4 OC Potential Departures: 4-5 2021 Needs: 4-5 (At least 2 OTs, 1-2 IOL, 1-2 as flex) Overview: OL is the most important position in the 2021 class, purely based on the potential number of departures and additions. Alabama is looking to bolster both the tackle positions, as well as the interior, and has numerous high-quality targets with high interest in the Tide
Top Schools (List within the List)
1. Tommy Brockermeyer - EE
5* (#5, #1 OT)
(Alabama, Texas) LSU, Auburn
Tommy is the top offensive tackle in the 2021 and with good reason, possessing an NFL-ready body, athletic pedigree, and advanced technical knowledge. As a Texas legacy, the Longhorns would always be a player in this recruitment but Alabama has taken a nice lead here, thanks to their simultaneous pursuit of Tommy's twin brother James (the rare legit Package Deal). The Brockermeyers like the winning pedigree, have hit it off with the new S&C staff, and had actually planned to take 2 OVs to Alabama, as they can attend as the brother of the other for each visit. Alabama's in the driver's seat for a recruitment that should not go past August.
75% Alabama, 25% Texas
2. JC Latham
5* (#17, #5 OT)
(Ohio State, Alabama,) LSU, Oklahoma
JC Latham is amongst the top athletes amongst linemen in the 2021 class and a guy Alabama has surged for over the past few months. Ohio State and LSU were the early top 2 but success in the NFL draft and a relationship with Evan Neal has caused Alabama to move squarely into Latham's top 2 with Ohio State. Latham's family is in Chicago so proximity favors the Buckeyes but sources have said that Alabama has sold itself better to Mom so far. Latham likely won't commit without visits, which will be crucial for Alabama's chances.
Mims is a nice complement to Brockermeyer: Mims is a physical mauler and absolute specimen at the tackle spot. Mims has stated Alabama is his leader throughout the spring and heading into summer, citing his relationship with Coach Flood and earlier playing time at UA but most feel a kid that close to UGA's campus with so many UGA connections will still end up in Athens. Visits will be huge for Mims and helps the Tide, as he won't commit until October.
45% UGA, 40% Alabama, 10% Tennessee, 5% Auburn
4. James Brockermeyer - EE
4* (#192, #1 OC)
(Alabama, Texas) LSU, Auburn
James is the twin of Tommy and is a high-quality center to boot. Same thing as Tommy: Alabama leads by a good bit for the twins but Texas will always be in the background. Look for a preseason commitment.
75% Alabama, 25% Texas
5. Jager Burton
4* (#160, #10 OG)
(Ohio State, Kentucky, Alabama,) Oregon, Clemson
Burton is a midwester lineman Alabama likes a lot and one Alabama has surged for, placing themselves in good competition with Ohio State and Kentucky. Proximity and need favor the Buckeyes but Kentucky is a real contender. Despite this, sources say Alabama is right there behind the scenes.
40% Ohio State, 35% Kentucky, 25% Alabama
6. Terrence Ferguson - EE
4* (#52, #3 OG)
Another big-time road grader on the interior, it's generally bad gambling to bet against UGA for an in-state offensive lineman but Alabama is definitely making things interesting, with serious interest from Mr. Ferguson around joining the Tide.
Parker is a Tennessee tackle that has more recently emerged as a more serious target. Parker lists Alabama as his dream school but both Alabama and Parker are taking things slow at this point. Tennessee is the biggest competition here so far.
80% Tennessee, 20% Alabama
2. Noah Josey
4* (#284, #17 OG)
(UGA, Alabama,) Ohio State
Josey is a Kyle Flood favorite, as another diamond -in-the-rough, blue coller, guard. UGA surged in the spring but it appears no team in his top 3 are ready to take his commitment.
33% UGA, 33% Alabama, 33% Ohio State
3. Ross Maseuli
3* (#618, #28 OG)
(USC) Michigan, Alabama
Maseuli is another Cali lineman who's a USC lean with Alabama interest. I know he was somewhat star-struck by the Alabama offer but I think a campus visit will be the real litmus test. Michigan is a realistic option also.
80% USC, 10% Michigan, 10% Alabama,
As always, feel free to ask any question that comes to mind. Defensive Update should come Fri morn.
Disclaimer #1: This is based on what I would do not what I think will happen Disclaimer #2: This mock will include trades 1.01 CIN - Joe Burrow QB LSU Duh 1.02 WAS - Chase Young EDGE The Ohio State Again, duh Trade: MIA receives 1.03. DET receives 1.05, 2.39, 2.56, & 2021 MIA 2nd 1.03 MIA via DET - Tua Tagovailoa QB Alabama In a bidding war between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Miami Dolphins, Miami just has too much draft capital to spend for their QB of the future. If this was a normal year where teams would be able to get Tua in their building for updated medicals, then I'd be much more willing to spend extra 1st round capital to trade up and get him for either LA or Miami. The injury concerns obviously make this pick very risky, but some of it has simply come down to bad luck for Tua. When healthy, he's obviously an extremely talented passer who can cut apart a defense in so many different ways. Personally, I don't think the Fins are going to trade up for a QB. I think they want to keep as many draft picks as possible and are more than happy with either Tua or Justin Herbert at 5. However I have a solid gap between Tua and Herbert as prospects, so for me I feel like I need to go up and make sure I get my far and away top QB available.0 1.04 NYG - Jedrick Wills OT Alabama I think this pick will be Isaiah Simmons come Thursday, however I would definitely be looking at taking one of these OTs at 4 for the G-Men. At the end of the day, Daniel Jones needs more help on the offensive line and specifically with his bookends. Nate Solder has been plagued by poor play since signing with the Giants, and Cam Flemming is much more suited to being a backup than relied on as a starter. With Wills, there might be freakier athletes in this OT class but I don't see anyone who has more pluses to their name than Jedrick. He's a very good athlete, has good length, and is probably the most technically sound OT in this draft class. Rarely is a pick ever "safe" but Wills is as good as it gets when it comes to tackle prospects in the NFL Draft. 1.05 DET via MIA - Jeffery Okudah CB The Ohio State For the third time, duh 1.06 LAC - Andrew Thomas OT Georgia So this pick has pretty much always been Justin Herbert, however I wanted to do something different and go through a scenario where the Chargers don't go QB. When I look at Herbert, I'd be okay with his currently development if he were a 2 year starter instead of a 4 year starter. I'm worried about some of the mistakes Justin makes with so much experience under his belt, however he dealt with numerous WR injuries in 2019 and Marcus Arroyo was (IMO) way too conservative in his play calling throughout much of the year (the Auburn loss in particular I blame a lot on Arroyo). There were flashes of Herbert being able to handle a heavier offensive load in 2019, however we never really got to see that come to fruition consistently. Herbert, like Jordan Love, really needs the right place to develop and I'm not sure the Chargers are it. I don't think it's a horrible place for him, with guys like Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, and Austin Ekler as targets. However that OL needs some serious work, and after playing with the best OL in the nation at Oregon I think the adjustment could be tough for Justin. Instead I want to experiment with a different route in Andrew Thomas. Thomas has SEC experience at both RT and LT, along with solid athleticism, technique, and amazing strength and length. Thomas is as solid as they come, and whether it's for Tyrod Taylor, another vet, or a young QB, he should be a rock on the OL for whoever the Bolts starter is in 2020 and in the future. 1.07 CAR - Isaiah Simmons DEF Clemson My #2 overall player comes off the board to Matt Rhule and the Panthers here at 7. Carolina has a lot of needs, and at the end of the day I think they just need to take the most talented player on the board at their pick. Enter Isaiah Simmons, the do-it-all slot cornesafety/linebacker who has the talent and athleticism to transform a defense. Simmons isn't a 1-to-1 replacement for Luke Kuechly, but you need a similar type of game changer on the defense. I believe Simmons is that player, and he should provide day 1 impact to a team in a rebuilding phase. With Brian Burns at DE and Donte Jackson already at CB, now Carolina has a young building block on all 3 levels of their defense. 1.08 ARI - Tristan Wirfs OT Iowa This pick has got to be on either the offensive line or the defensive line for the Cardinals unless a player like Isaiah Simmons or Jeffery Okudah falls to them. I think a guy like Javon Kinlaw makes a lot of sense here, however like with the Giants, I am most concerned with protecting my young QB. Tristan Wirfs is an other-worldly athlete who has P5 experience at LT and RT. In terms of athleticism and strength, Wirfs has a rare combination of both of those tools to work with at the NFL level. Tristan needs some more development in the technical department in the NFL, but even though the Cards have vets like DeAndre Hopkins, Chandler Jones, Larry Ftizgerald, and Patrick Peterson, I don't feel that they need him to be awesome from day 1 and they can just let him learn at his own pace. If you can develop Wirfs properly, you'll have a fantastic bookend for Kyler Murray for a very long time. Trade: TB receives 1.09. JAX receives 1.14, 3.76, 4.117, & 2021 2nd 1.09 TB via JAX - Mekhi Becton OT Louisville I think this trade makes a ton of sense for both sides. Jacksonville's roster has been gutted over the past couple needs, and they just need to get as many picks as possible to try and build back up their roster. Tampa acquired the services of Tom Brady in free agency, and their win-now window has become obvious. The Buccaneers have a really good offense with guys like Brady, Howard, Evans, Godwin, Brate, Marpet, and Jensen as well as a great offensive mind in Bruce Arians as head coach. At this point with where the Bucs are at, I'm most concerned with fortifying the rest of the OL and spending whatever draft capital I have to in order to do it. Becton is by far the best OT left on my board and he's worthy of this pick. He's an absolute freak with incredibly nimble, explosive feet at 6'7 364 lbs. Leverage will probably always be a bit of an issue for Becton since he's so big and I think he needs work on his hand placement, but at the end of the day someone that huge and that athletic will be able to stop plenty of pass rushers. For Tampa, your time is now so let's go get someone who will have an immediate impact protecting your new investment at QB. Trade: DEN receives 1.10. CLE receives 1.15, 3.77, 3.95, 4.118 & 2021 3rd 1.10 DEN via CLE - Jerry Jeudy WR Alabama With all 4 top OTs off the board, Cleveland has the freedom to trade down and get a couple more assets for missing out on their top need. Denver gets to jump up into the top 10 after trading out of the top 10 in the 2019 draft. With the top WR still available, this is a no-brainer choice for the Broncos to help round out their offense. Denver seems to be prioritizing a top WR in this draft to pair with Courtland Sutton and I feel like that's a great approach to take. While Henry Ruggs would also be a great fit in Denver, I just can't pass on the overall talent that someone like Jeudy brings. Route running, speed, YAC, production, Jerry has it all and an offense with Jeudy, Sutton, Fant, Lindsay, and Gordon should give Drew Lock all the weapons he needs to have a good sophomore campaign in the Rocky Mountains. 1.11 NYJ - Henry Ruggs WR Alabama And well, here's my WR2 coming off the board. The Jets have made an effort to sign a lot of offensive linemen in free agency and while none of them are good enough to stop them from taking an OT in the 1st round, it does give them somewhat of a safety net in case they aren't able to get one of the top 4 OTs. Henry Ruggs is a top 10 rated player in this entire class for me and I feel like he'll be an absolute game changer at the NFL level. Ruggs has good hands, amazing speed, and really promising route running as an underclassman. Ruggs can win at any level and take any route to the house. Sam Darnold needs as much help on offense as possible and a playmaker like Ruggs will sure go a long way in making Darnold's life better in the Big Apple. 1.12 LV - CeeDee Lamb WR Oklahoma Yeah this pick is another real easy one for me. The Raiders need another WR to complete their offense and give Derek Carr all the weapons he could hope for. With that OL, Lamb as a #1 option, Tyrell Williams, Renfrow in the slot, Waller at TE, and Jacobs at RB, Las Vegas should have one of the better offenses in the league if Carr can perform like a quality starting QB. 1.13 SF - Javon Kinlaw DT South Carolina I don't necessarily think the Niners need to be desperate for a Deforest Buckner replacement, but in this spot the board just lines up perfectly to take a DT. Kinlaw is the best player left on my board and although San Fran already has a talented DL, they certainly could use a player like Kinlaw. With the top 3 WRs all off the board, that leaves SF the freedom to really take BPA and I love the fit for Kinlaw. He would be able to make an impact early while not having the pressure on him to develop right away with all the talent around him. This is a BPA pick that could really keep the gravy train rolling in the bay area. 1.14 JAX via TB - CJ Henderson CB Florida Time for CB2 to come off the board. The teens are right around the sweet spot for CJ to go and a place like Jacksonville makes a lot of sense. With both Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye gone from the team, there's a large hole that needs to be filled in the secondary for the Jags and Henderson has the talent to help fill those holes. With long arms, great speed, smooth hips, and the ball skills to make plays on the ball, CJ can make an immediate impact in coverage for a team that needs to reload with impact players. 1.15 CLE via DEN - Kenneth Murray LB Oklahoma This is a really tough pick for me, because nothing they can take here is particularly great value. I considered taking Denzel Mims just because I think he offers something a bit different to that WR room. I also considered safety here but with Karl Joseph, Andrew Sendejo, and Sheldrick Redwine already in house I just wasn't sure if addressing it with their first pick was the right move. At the end of the day I went with Murray because when I talked to Browns fans it seemed like LB was the other big need. I'm personally not a Takitaki fan but I'm a big Mack Wilson fan. With Mack having the main coverage responsibilities at the 2nd level, Murray can be allowed to do what he does best on passing downs and blitz the QB and make plays happen underneath. Murray can be slot into a starting spot immediately for Cleveland and make a terrifyingly athletic LB duo with Mack for years to come. 1.16 ATL - Kristian Fulton CB LSU I know many might consider this pick a reach, but I believe that this is around the right value for Kristian Fulton. Fulton is still a talented corner with good, patient footwork and smooth hips. Fulton proved that he has the long speed to compete on the outside at the combine with a 4.46 40 yard dash. Fulton doesn't have great length, but he's got the athletic traits to still be a quality corner, and he gave many of the SEC's best WRs a ton of trouble as a CB. With the loss of Desmond Trufant, corner is solidified as the top need for the Falcons, and a player like Fulton will help in plugging up that hole on their roster. 1.17 DAL - K'Lavon Chaisson EDGE LSU Another LSU Tiger comes off the board in the teens, the Cowboys have a number of options to consider here at 17. Even though a few corners are off the board, guys like Jeff Gladney, Trevon Diggs, AJ Terrell, and Jaylon Johnson could be considered in the first round. Safety is an option too with none of them being selected so far. However at this spot I went with a pass rusher since it's become a sneaky important need following the departure of Robert Quinn. Chaisson has the burst and hand usage to develop into a dynamite pass rusher on Demarcus Lawrence's opposite side. K'Lavon also has the discipline and strength to hold up as a stout run defender on the edge. Chaisson doesn't wow with amazing size or arm length, but he's got the necessary package of traits to be a quality DE in the NFL. He also had the honor of wearing the #18 for LSU this season, so his character and work ethic will not be questioned in the NFL either. After Chase Young if I had to bet on any other EDGE in this draft class being a successful pro, it would be K'Lavon Chaisson. Trade: BAL receives 1.18. MIA receives 1.28, 2.55, 4.129, & 2021 3rd 1.18 BAL via MIA from PIT - Patrick Queen LB LSU Well look at this, 3 LSU Tigers get selected in a row here in the middle of the first round. I think a trade up makes sense from Baltimore's perspective since they actually have a good amount of picks to work with and not a lot of holes on their roster. After trading away a couple 2nds to get Tua, Miami is able to recoup a 2nd round pick and move up 40 spots on day 3. The weakest spot on the Ravens team is at LB. They lost CJ Mosley to free agency in 2019, traded away Kenny Young to LA for Marcus Peters in-season, and lost Patrick Onwuasor in free agency this year. These departures leave a talent gap that needs to be filled, and with Isaiah Simmons and Kenneth Murray already off the board, Queen is clearly the best LB on the board and there's a significant gap between Queen and the rest of the LBs on the board. With a fairly desperate need and a big talent drop off, it makes sense for Baltimore to be aggressive in trading up for Patrick in their contending window. 1.19 LV via CHI - Jeff Gladney CB TCU This is another easy pick for me to make. Gladney is my CB4 and final CB with a first round grade. Jeff brings the competitiveness that Jon Gruden absolutely loves, with ball skills and athleticism that should help him be a quality corner on the opposite side of Trayvon Mullen. Other than WR, CB is the biggest need for the Raiders but with the pair of Big 12 playmakers that I've taken for them in the 1st round, their roster rounds out really well and should be a tough team to play in a very competitive AFC West. 1.20 JAX via LAR - AJ Epenesa EDGE Iowa I know AJ isn't the most popular prospect after a pretty disappointing combine, but I still think there's a lot of talent there to work with, and over the past couple seasons of Big 10 play we've seen how good Epenesa can be. With Yannick Ngakoue wanting out of Jacksonville despite receiving the franchise tag (we'll get to this later), The Jags will need a new running mate for Josh Allen with Calais Campbell also out of town. AJ Epenesa still flashes a lot of burst, flexibility, and hand usage off the edge despite the pedestrian combine numbers. On a defense where he can still make an impact but not have the pressure of being the #1 pass rusher, Epenesa and Allen could form to make a formidable pass rush duo on the outside for the Jacksonville Jaguars. 1.21 PHI - Justin Jefferson WR LSU Justin Jefferson is actually my WR5 on my board, however I feel like the fit in Philadelphia is too perfect to pass up. Jefferson's combination of hands, athleticism, route running, and ball skills should fit very well to Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson, and that Eagles offense. With how much Pederson likes to keep defenses off balance with the quick game and RPOs, Justin should transition seamlessly into that offense and be an immediate contributor whether he's in the slot or out wide. Overall not only does Philly need athleticism at WR, but they also need reliability and with the receivers left on the board, no one is as reliable as Justin Jefferson. 1.22 MIN via BUF - Denzel Mims WR Baylor And now here we are getting to my WR4. Mims has the traits you want out of an outside receiver wit his size, catch radius, and athleticism. His combine and senior bowl proved that he can run any route you want him to, and that he can also win against press and physical coverage. While this is somewhat a Stefon Diggs replacement, they are different body types and do some different things. What will be present from day 1 is the type of receiving threat that Mims can be, he'll win with his size and speed on intermediate and deep routes from day 1 and I think he'll be the product of some favorable coverages with teams worrying more about Adam Thielen. Minnesota needs to make some key picks for the talent they lost in the offseason, and I believe that Mims is a high upside pick that can help that offense keep on chugging even in Diggs' absence. Trade: IND receives 1.23. NE receives 2.34, 4.122, & 2021 2nd 1.23 IND via NE - Justin Herbert QB Oregon Finally we're seeing some QBs come off the board after the Chargers passed on Herbert at 6. I personally see Indianapolis as a much preferable spot for Justin's development compared to the Chargers. The main reason I believe this is for a couple reasons. 1. Having Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers would be really good for Herbert, as I feel like they have a less likely chance to force Justin into starting than Tyrod Taylor, who failed to Baker Mayfield off the bench in Cleveland. 2. Most of all though, I have more trust in Indy's OL compared to LA's. With Anthony Costanzo back after contemplating retirement, Quenton Nelson as one of the best young OGs in the NFL, and other solid starters on the OL, Justin will having comfort in his OL much more similar to his Oregon days than anything he could dream of for the Chargers. Having a target like TY Hilton and an all-around RB like Marlon Mack for the future as weapons doesn't hurt either. With Brissett and Rivers both on 1 year deals, Herbert can then take over the starting job after a year learning the offense and learning from 2 veteran QBs. 1.24 New Orleans - Jordan Love QB Utah State Similar deal here at 24 with New Orleans. The Saints have a very limited number of holes on their roster and with Drew Brees getting older and older, this is the perfect spot for Jordan Love to develop. With coaches like Sean Payton and Pete Charmichael, a veteran HOF QB in Brees, a very good and young OL, and young weapons like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, Love is in a prime position to grow his first year or two and then thrive as Brees' successor. I really feel like NOLA is the best possible place for Love to end up and I think the Saints could be able to keep the good times rolling after Drew with Jordan at the helm. 1.25 MIN - AJ Terrell CB Clemson I actually have Trevon Diggs slightly above AJ Terrell in my CB rankings, however I think AJ is the better fit in Minnesota. Diggs is very raw since he's only been playing CB for a few years, and I feel like the Vikings need a corner who will offer better play in year 1 because of how many CBs they need and because the Vikings probably still fancy themselves as playoff contenders. Terrell offers versatility in coverage, great athleticism/speed, and great length as a boundary corner. I don't think AJ offers a ton in the way of playmaking like someone like Trevon Diggs does, but AJ is still a very solid CB prospect who should be considered here in the late 1st round. 1.26 MIA via HOU - Josh Jones OT Houston I would love to take Lucas Niang at this spot, but I just can't bring myself to take not 1, but 2 players with serious hip injuries for a single team. Instead I'm going with the senior bowl standout in Josh Jones. I wasn't in love with Jones' feet or hand placement on his college tape, but he could absolutely rock any pass rusher on a punch with his heavy hands and he certainly has the athleticism to play tackle in the NFL. Even as someone who didn't love his Houston tape, even I have to admit he was fantastic down in Mobile and that performance has me more comfortable with the prospect of taking him in the 1st round, I just wouldn't do it in the early or middle parts of round 1. Other than QB though, OT is the biggest need for the Fins. With a QB like Tua who does his best work in the pocket and has had the injury problems he's had, you need to build a strong OL to keep him upright and Jones has the potential to be a rock at either tackle spot for Tua for a long time. 1.27 SEA - Lucas Niang OT TCU Trust me, this late 1st round Seattle pick from TCU has much better film than the late 1st round Seattle pick from TCU in 2019. Niang had a hip injury that cost him the 2nd half of his senior season, but his 2018 tape is some of the best tackle tape of anyone in this class. Niang has nimble feet, strong hands, great length, and good athleticism when healthy to be a pass protector in the NFL. He's also a very powerful run blocker who has strength and athleticism in his arsenal. Seattle has needed to address their OL for a while now, while they did that a couple of years ago by trading for Duane Brown, Brown is getting older and they haven't done a ton outside of that. Now all of a sudden the Seahawks have a nice mix of vets and young guys on the O-line to help Seattle and Russel Wilson in their playoff contention. 1.28 MIA via BAL - Grant Delpit S LSU I know that Delpit is an extremely polarizing prospect and has many detractors, but I still think Grant is the beset safety in this class and for me he still has a 1st round grade. I actually think this is a tad bit late for Delpit, however there just isn't a great spot for him above this where he fits better than the other prospects taken. Combine that with the fact that it's a deep safety class and now you can see why Delpit has fallen a bit. While his 2019 left something to be desired, Delpit's 2018 tape is still incredible and needs to be taken into account when evaluating him. His size, range, instincts, and playmaking are exactly what you want for a safety who can play in a number of roles. For Miami, after addressing their 2 biggest needs in QB and OT, I feel like they can just start taking BPA and at this spot in the draft, Grant Delpit is just about BPA for me. 1.29 TEN - Justin Madubuike DT Texas A&M My surprise DT2 makes an appearance in the first round! I'm not really sure why the Titans traded away Jurrell Casey for a mere 7th round pick, but there's a definite hole in his absence that I feel Madubuike can fill. The reason that I have Justin rated higher over Derrick Brown is simply because I think Madubuike can offer more pass rush than Brown. Justin has fantastic burst to combine with hand usage and a good frame for an interior pass rusher. With 22 TFLs and 10.5 sacks the past 2 years as a DT for the SEC TAMU Aggies, Madubuike is a proven disruptor that will help replace some of the production lost from Casey. 1.30 GB - Brandon Aiyuk WR Arizona State Once again an Arizona State WR finds himself in the back end of the 1st round. Aiyuk is a dynamite athlete as seen by his combine testing, who flashes a good ability to create separation in his routes and has a great ability to create with the ball in his hands. With so much attention going towards Davante Adams, Aiyuk should get plenty of chances to wreak havoc with the ball in his hands like he did in the desert in 2019. Aaron Rodgers needs more weapons on offense outside of Adams and Aaron Jones and Aiyuk should provide precisely the playmaking the Packers need. Trade: DET receives 1.31. SF receives 2.39, 3.67, & 3.85 1.31 DET via SF - Yetur Gross-Matos EDGE Penn State With all the extra draft capital that the Lions picked up from trading back with Miami, it allows them the freedom to jump back in the first round to a team that really need to trade out of 31 and get some more draft picks. With no 2nd, 3rd, or 4th round pick, San Fran trades back to 39 and gets an early 3rd and early 5th for their troubles. Even though Detroit gave up those picks, they still have plenty of good assets. Outside of corner, Detroit's next biggest need is probably at pass rusher. The Lions defense was pretty poor overall, and Trey Flowers needs a solid running mate opposite his side on the DL. YGM lacks a lot of consistency, especially against the best competition he faced, but he has all the traits you look for in a 1st round pass rusher. The Penn State product has length, explosiveness, and strength that you want out of a DE, and he doesn't have bad bend either. He needs to work on his hands and his plan as a pass rusher, but those were areas that he improved on a little bit last season. If he continues to improve in those areas, he could become a young cornerstone for a defensive revival in Detroit. Trade: CAR receives 1.32. KC receives 2.38, 3.69, & 2021 3rd 1.32 CAR via KC - Derrick Brown DT Auburn It's okay Derrick Brown fans, I still have the big Auburn man going in the first round. Carolina needs help in the trenches so with someone like Brown still on the board, it makes sense just to go up and get him before anyone else can. I think Derrick has some serious limitations in terms of his upside as a pass rusher, but he should still be a damn good run defender and with his size he'll be able to always make an impact in the NFL. Kansas City shouldn't feel any desperation at 32, and being able to get a couple of 3s to move down a handful of spots is fine business for a team that doesn't really have a prospect staring them in the face that they have to take at 32. I think this is a sensible deal for both sides. 2ND ROUND 2.33 CIN - Lloyd Cushenberry IOL LSU 2.34 NE via IND from WAS - Laviska Shenault WR Colorado 2.35 DET - Cesar Ruiz IOL Michigan Trade: JAX receives 2.36. NYG receives Yannick Ngakoue 2.36 JAX via NYG - Xavier McKinney S Alabama 2.37 LAC - Jalen Reagor WR TCU 2.38 KC via CAR - Jaylon Johnson CB Utah 2.39 SF via DET from MIA - Bryan Edwards WR South Carolina 2.40 HOU via ARI - Terrell Lewis EDGE Alabama Trade: WAS receives 2.41. CLE receives Trent Williams 2.41 WAS via CLE - Austin Jackson OT USC 2.42 JAX - Jacob Eason QB Washington 2.43 CHI via LV - Trevon Diggs CB Alabama 2.44 IND - Michael Pittman Jr WR USC 2.45 TB - D'Andre Swift RB Georgia 2.46 DEN - Prince Tega Wanogho OT Auburn Trade: MIN receives 2.47 & 2021 5th. ATL receives 2.58 & 3.105 2.47 MIN via ATL - Matt Peart OT UCONN 2.48 NYJ - Isaiah Wilson OT Georgia Trade: KC receives 2.49 & 2021 6th. PIT receives 2.63 & 3.96 2.49 KC via PIT - JK Dobbins RB The Ohio State 2.50 CHI - Jeremy Chinn S Southern Illinois 2.51 DAL - Bryce Hall CB Virginia 2.52 LAR - Tyler Biadasz IOL Wisconsin 2.53 PHI - Ashtyn Davis S Cal 2.54 BUF - Jonathan Taylor RB Wisconsin 2.55 MIA via BAL from NE - Cam Akers RB Florida State 2.56 DET via MIA from NO - KJ Hamler WR Penn State 2.57 LAR via HOU - Julian Okwara EDGE Notre Dame 2.58 ATL via MIN - James Lynch DT Baylor 2.59 SEA - Josh Uche EDGE Michigan 2.60 BAL - Zack Baun EDGE Wisconsin 2.61 TEN - Jack Driscoll OT Auburn 2.62 GB - Noah Igbinoghene CB Auburn 2.63 PIT via KC from SF - Neville Gallimore DT Oklahoma 2.64 SEA via KC - Donovan Peoples-Jones WR Michigan 3RD ROUND 3.65 CIN - Akeem Davis-Gaither LB Appalachian State 3.66 WAS - Adam Trautman TE Dayton 3.67 SF via DET - Ben Bredeson IOL Michigan 3.68 NYJ via NYG - Michael Ojemudia CB Iowa 3.69 KC via CAR - Malik Harrison LB The Ohio State 3.70 MIA - Ezra Cleveland OT Boise State Trade: DAL receives 3.71. LAC receives 3.82, 5.165, & 5.180 3.71 DAL via LAC - Kyle Dugger S Lenoir-Rhyne 3.72 ARI - Ross Blacklock DT TCU 3.73 JAX - Cameron Clark OT Charlotte 3.74 CLE - Antoine Winfield Jr S Minnesota 3.75 IND - Jonathan Greenard EDGE Florida 3.76 JAX via TB - Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB LSU 3.77 CLE via DEN - Tee Higgins WR Clemson 3.78 ATL - Antonio Gibson RB Memphis 3.79 NYJ - Jabari Zuniga EDGE Florida 3.80 LV - Jalen Hurts QB Oklahoma 3.81 LV via CHI - Troy Dye LB Oregon 3.82 LAC via DAL - Matt Hennessey IOL Temple 3.83 DEN via PIT - Willie Gay Jr LB Mississippi State 3.84 LAR - Zack Moss RB Utah 3.85 SF via DET - Damon Arnette CB The Ohio State 3.86 BUF - Kenny Willekes EDGE Michigan State 3.87 NE - Brycen Hopkins TE Purdue 3.88 NO - Troy Pride CB Notre Dame 3.89 MIN - Cameron Dantzler CB Mississippi State 3.90 HOU - Darnay Holmes CB UCLA Trade: PHI receives 3.91. LV receives 4.127, 4.145, & 2021 3rd 3.91 PHI via LV from SEA - Reggie Robinson II CB Tulsa 3.92 BAL - Lynn Bowden Jr WR Kentucky 3.93 TEN - Terrell Burgess DB Utah 3.94 GB - Cole Kmet TE Notre Dame 3.95 CLE via DEN from SF - Robert Hunt IOL Louisiana-Lafayette 3.96 PIT via KC - Van Jefferson WR Florida 3.97 CLE via HOU - Darrell taylor EDGE Tennessee 3.98 NE - Jordan Elliot DT Missouri 3.99 NYG - Isaiah Hodgins WR Oregon State 3.100 NE - Curtis Weaver EDGE Boise State 3.101 SEA - Amik Robertson CB Louisiana Tech 3.102 PIT - Hakeem Adeniji OL Kansas 3.103 PHI - Jordyn Brooks LB Texas Tech 3.104 LAR - Logan Wilson LB Wyoming 3.105 ATL via MIN - Markus Bailey LB Purdue 3.106 BAL - Ben Bartch OL St. John's MN
Illinois: Prediction 6-6 (3-6) Some way somehow, Lovie Smith got 6 wins and by god he’ll get 6 more this year. Illinois is a weird program and it would be crazy if Lovie Smith turned this program around. He somehow rallies the troops and plays above their level 2-3 games a year. The key for the Illini this year is finding their identity on offense and defense. Their offense seemed very hit or miss with no in between, they need to be more consistent and get those 4-6 yard, plays. On defense they need to be more aggressive and be more creative with coverages and blitz’s. They return a decent amount of players including Brandon Peters, which Illinois fans hope will be their most improved player and can stay healthy. They start the season off pretty easy, including Illinois State, UConn, Bowling Green, and Rutgers. That’s an easy 4 wins now all they have to do is win 2 of their last 8, and you’re bowling. Their best bets are probably Purdue, at Northwestern, and at Nebraska. Lovie is 4 years in now, so this is all of his players, so this is a statement year for him. His recruiting has been slim the past two years because he only got a total of 29 high school players between the two, and 14 transfers, which are essentially rentals. If these transfers and young players bloom this year they could make a splash in the west, probably won’t win it, but their ceiling could be 8 wins. Iowa: Prediction 7-5 (5-4) I think Iowa will be a little broken spirited, while the ship slowly crashes, they still have time afloat and get 7 wins. Kirk Ferentz is probably in jeopardy, as he should be, so this might be the last year for him, you never know. But anyways, Iowa is losing Nate Stanley this year and has to break in a new QB quickly since weeks 2 and 3 are Iowa State and at Minnesota. I think they lose both of those games because of the new QB. Epenesa did a lot for their defense and they are going to miss him, and they are going to need someone to step up quickly. They return Koerner who was second on the team in tackling last year to lead the defensive backs, and this defense. I’m guessing that some players will transfer before the season starts, so that will take them down a notch, but they should still easily be bowl eligible and compete in the west. I think their losses are Iowa State, at Minnesota, at Ohio State, at Penn State, and Wisconsin. Look out for losses at Illinois and at Purdue, as those teams could catch them off guard easily, as both those teams made close games last year. Minnesota: Prediction 11-1 (8-1) P.J. Fleck enters year 4 at Minnesota, and this is the breakthrough year. Returning Tanner Morgan and Rashod Bateman is pretty much all they need to ignite the offense, and the rest should fall into place. While Mike Sanford and Matt Simon take over the play calls after Kirk Ciarrocca left for Penn State. The coaching at this point matters more for the Gophers because the talent is there and is ready for more success. They have a huge offensive line that can match up with almost any team in the country and return all of their starters on the line might I add. The defense has a lot of guys that have played last year, but they need someone to step up, because all of their stars from last year graduated or went pro. Finding an identity on defense and having players step up and become leaders as soon as possible is key, since the Wisconsin game has been moved up to the middle of October. With that being said I think that is the one game they lose on this schedule, but the other tough games they have are all at home, so hopefully they should win those. They could lose to Michigan and Iowa and 9 wins should be the floor for this team, but if they play their cards right, they could play Ohio State in the Big Ten title game as two undefeated teams. Nebraska: Prediction 5-7 (3-6) Nebraska is a team that people are high on at the beginning of the season, and at the end realize how bad they were. From the gun I think they’re bad, they have lots of flaws that I think Scott Frost won’t fix and could cost him his job within the next couple of years. They lose their leading WR JD Spielman on, which could affect how well Martinez plays this season, because he wasn’t that great last year, throwing for 10 touchdowns and 9 INT’s. They have a veteran line that should protect him if healthy, but he needs to stay healthy and work on his own mechanics. On defense they essentially lost everything, their leaders in tackles, sacks, and picks. They are probably going to throw a lot of young and unexperienced players into the mix early because of how much they lost and how little Frost and the staff have recruited defensive players. They were one of the worst defensive teams in the conference last year and losing everything won’t help at all, expect them to play fast paced shoot-out games where the total score is in the 70’s and 80’s. The games they should probably win are CMU, SDSU (South Dakota State), at Northwestern, Illinois, and at Rutgers. Realistically they could only win 3 or four, and on the flip side they could also win 7 and if they’re lucky 8. Ohio State being their cross-division rival doesn’t do them any favors but a couple years from now the fans in Lincoln should be demanding a game in Indy, or else Scott Frost is gone. Year 3 is usually the year where you have the players you like still from the previous coach and also your own, so it should be a year where you at least make a bowl game. But I think Frost was a fluke from the start and that year at UCF was more of a program thing rather than Scott Frost being a good coach, as that was proven when he left. Nebraska has lost a lot of its value in the past couple years, and has found them under the radar in the middle of the Big Ten. If this program can be turned around, that would benefit the conference and the division a ton. Northwestern: Prediction 4-8 (1-8) I don’t think Northwestern is that bad of a team, I think they have some rotten apples in terms of some of the coaching staff and they just need to step up recruiting, because a lot of their good players are seniors this year. Honestly Northwestern could be bowl eligible this year and last year could’ve just been a fluke, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Mike Bajakian is the new OC, and they are changing to a completely new system, which in most programs need more than a year to adjust to. That’s the key for them going bowling this year is how quickly is this offense going to click. Hunter Johnson was a failed project, and I think that was on the offense he was in though. Peyton Ramsey will be a good guy to take the snaps under center in this transition year and be able to layout the blueprints for this offense. Lots of guys played last year so they will have a decent amount of experience this year, including star Paddy Fisher. The Wildcats under Fitzgerald have always had these downhill linebackers that are high production players. They do lose Joe Gaziano and Alex Miller, which hurts their defensive line, so they expect Jake Saunders to step to produce at a high rate. Pat Fitzgerald has been a good coach and last year was a surprise to all of us, and I don’t think they got that much better. In the long haul these years won’t be remembered during his tenure. But if he wants to retire rather than be fired, he needs to get this team back on the tracks. Purdue: Prediction 7-5 (4-5) Purdue will be a very boom or bust team in the Big Ten this year. They have a chance a making a run at winning the west, but that is a shot in the dark until they keep players healthy and they improve their defense quickly. They start the season at Nebraska and host Memphis and Air Force, which are two tough group of 5 teams. Keeping Moore, Bell and whoever starts at QB healthy is the most important key for Purdue having a successful. They return two lineman to protect whoever it may be, and need the other three to grow up fast. Brohm brought in a new DC Bob Diaco after a disaster on that side of the ball last year. Rutgers was probably the only worse defense than them. They return 5 starters on defense but lose their leading tackler from last year. Having one of the most entertaining offenses in the Big Ten can take them places and can be really good. On the other side there is one of the worse power 5 defenses and is one of the biggest question marks for any unit in the whole Big Ten. Purdue will go as far as their defense takes them, they could be one of the biggest surprises in the country, or just be an average team that doesn’t make a bowl. I think they lose at Nebraska, at Michigan, at Minnesota, Wisconsin, and at Indiana. Honestly, they only games that I am almost sure they will lose are at Michigan and at Minnesota, the rest are almost tossup games. Realistically they could finish with a 10 win season or have a 4 win season. Wisconsin: Prediction 10-2 (8-1) Wisconsin yet again benefits from being in a weak division. This is kind of a down year for the Badgers, yet they will still dominate. Notre Dame and Michigan seem like the two obvious losses there, and tough games like Minnesota and Appalachian State. Losing Taylor and Cephus are huge, but Wisconsin is good at replacing backs and receivers. What they aren’t good at replacing is Zack Baun, no way anyone can amount to his productivity from last year. Jim Leonhard is a great coordinator and will find a way to keep that defense one of the best in the country. Jack Coan will take the Badgers as far as he wants to go, because that position has been a huge problem since Russell Wilson. Wisconsin will always be a great but not elite team because of the QB play, and is the reason they made 4 Rose Bowls this decade, and lost all 4. Paul Chryst has air tight job security so if they end up with only 8 wins this year it won’t really matter. Nothing will change in Madison anytime soon so expect another 8-11 wins for the next few seasons.
[Game Thread] Michigan vs Notre Dame (7:30 on ABC)
#16 Michigan (5-2) vs #8 Notre Dame (6-1)
When: Sat, 10/26, 7:30 PM Eastern Where: The Big House, Ann Arbor TV / Streaming: ABC Betting Line: -1 Notre Dame Be respectful and report rule-breakers. For more discussion join our Discord or follow our Twitter. GO BLUE
Hey guys. I posted my three-round mock a couple days back and it went pretty well. In doing so, I came with a big board and explanations for each player and I thought I would share to supplement it. It's a Top 53 big board; that number has nothing to do with NFL rosters or anything, it's just that's the point that I had to cut it off. I wanted to stop at an organic point that made sense. I'll also add comps to current NFL players for the most part.
Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State: What is there to say? He's the most dominant edge rusher I've seen in some time and has elite pass-rushing traits to pair with elite level production on the biggest stage in college. I guess he's a little one-dimensional at times but if I could just casually jog around opposing OTs, I wouldn't worry about my number of moves either. I'm not overthinking this. Pro Comp: Danielle Hunter
Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson: In the modern NFL, off-ball linebackers really aren't at a premium position and don't tend to be terribly difficult to replace in terms of production. That is not the case with Isaiah Simmons. A nightmare to block, create separation from, break a tackle from, or just generally gameplan against, I've never seen a defensive player at his size do what he can do athletically. I think he's a once-in-a-generation type of player and we should appreciate him while we have him. Pro Comp: I'm not even going to try
Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State: Jeff is one of the most pro-ready CBs I've seen come out in a while. Some have gotten on about his 40 time but I think that's wildly overblown. He excels in man coverage and is silky smooth and fluid. He plays high level, mistake-free football and cancels out anyone he's covering. He has the length and positional understanding to play zone as well making him very valuable to DCs running mix coverages. He has All-Pro potential. Pro Comp: Marshon Lattimore
Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn: If you're a stat whore, you are going to completely miss the appeal of Derrick Brown. For anyone who watched Auburn's defense last year, you know instantly the type of impact Derrick Brown has. He was able to blow up the run against constant double and sometimes triple teams often using nothing more than his brute force and sheer athleticism. He's never going to be a 6 sack per year guy, but that's not why he's on the field. He's one of those guys who "magically" makes everyone else's job easier. He sets 'em up, they knock him down. He won't go as high as #4, but there's no way he gets out of the top 10. Pro Comp: Linval Joseph
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU: I was one of the most skeptical Joe Burrow Stans at the beginning of the year. I refused to believe that same QB I watched in 2018 was any better than the year before, the new offense just made it easier to put up numbers. I watched every game from Florida onward and as much as I tried, it's been hard to pick him apart. He's really fucking good. He may not wow with any single trait except pinpoint accuracy and elite pocket presence, but he does everything at a very high level. Teammate quality be damned, Joe's the real deal. Pro Comp: Tony Romo
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma: CeeDee is one of those players that grows on you the more you watch him. He doesn't have elite speed, let's get that out of the way. But everything else he does at an elite level. He's a silky smooth route runner with a good catch radius and hangs on to nearly everything. I think a large part of Baker, Kyler, and Jalen's success has had some part to do because of how easy Lamb made it for them. His numbers don't pop out necessarily, but that's due to how Oklahoma plays. Make no mistake, he'll be a #1 for a long time. Pro Comp: Deandre Hopkins
Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa: I'll be honest, I really didn't get the Wirfs hype to start the season. The first game I watched was the Michigan game live and all I noticed was Nate Stanley getting the ball and then proceeding to run for his life every down. As I've watched more, I've noticed he was largely the only good thing about that OL. Hyper athletic, silky smooth in pass pro, and a nasty player in the run game, he's the entire package. I don't really care that he allowed 2 sacks last year or that he's only played RT; when you have the traits Wirfs does, you jump on it right away. Pro Comp: Lane Johnson
AJ Epenesa, DL, Iowa: Epenesa is one of the most misunderstood players in this draft. Any team that drafts him as a 3-4 edge rusher is going to be sorely disappointed when he becomes a (consistent) 7-8 sack per season kind of guy. Epenesa's best work comes on stunts and breaking down double teams on the inside to work his way to the QB. Players with his kind of power, speed, and length combination are rare. Play him on the edge at your own risk; play him inside at the 3 or 5T and you may have an All-Pro. Pro Comp: DeForest Buckner
Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama: After Wirfs, I think Wills has the highest ceiling out of all the tackles in this draft. I've actually followed Wills since he was tearing up the Lexington high school scene in Kentucky and his progression has been insAane. He continues to get leaps and bounds better every season. Always a very physical player in the run game, he's been very good in the pass game on his way to allowing just one sack last year. He didn't always face the opposition's best rusher, but it doesn't matter. Projecting to LT shouldn't be a problem. Pro Comp: Taylor Lewan
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama: Jeudy is arguably the most established collegiate receiver in this draft. The 2018 Biletnikoff winner has had a ton of hype around him even before Tua won the starting job at Alabama. An unreal route runner with a sneaky gear change in his acceleration, he's certainly a threat to take it to the house on every play. I have questions about his play strength and his ability to win outside against the NFL's best, but we'll let his unbelievable production against the SEC's best CBs speak for itself. Pro Comp: Amari Cooper
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama: Tua has to be the most famous player in the draft, right? There's good reason for it: he's put together arguably the greatest statistical two-year run of any college QB since what? Tim Tebow? Ever? He's small in stature but makes up for it with a quick release, good footwork, insane deep ball accuracy, and fantastic timing. There are obviously concerns about his injury history but people bring up valid complaints against his composure playing from behind and his ability to compete without elite supporting members. I won't dismiss them, but they're certainly not enough to knock him any lower. Pro Comp: Drew Brees
Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina: There may not be a more imposing physical specimen outside the Top 5 than Javon Kinlaw. Standing 6'5" and 325 (the same size as Derrick Brown) but moving like a defensive end, Kinlaw is a matchup nightmare for anyone on the interior OL. He is tenacious in getting into the backfield and has been productive as a pass rusher. I question his effort and consistency in production at times but not to the point that it's a major problem. If he can keep that motor on even 15% more often, he's going to be hard to pass up. Pro Comp: Chris Jones
Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia: AT has to be one of the safest picks in this entire draft. A multi-year starter at LT for the Dawgs, he's been consistent in pass protection and very physical in the run game throughout his time. I think he lacks the foot speed to excel against the absolute fastest speed rushers but he has very good technique and does little poorly. He may never been a top 5 OT but he'll be a left tackle you won't have to worry about replacing for 10 years. Pro Comp: Mitchell Schwartz
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: Taylor has been a workhorse at Wisconsin the last 3 years as they continue to churn out yet another elite RB. Superficial scouts may see a 4.39 and think he's just a speed runner but he's much more. Very physical, hard to tackle, fantastic balance and vision, and developed nicely in 2019 in the pass game, he's become a do it all back. I'm personally not worried about the workload and I think you take the best back first. That shouldn't be controversial. They don't make many like JT and we may look back and wonder why we didn't put him in the conversation with Zeke, Saquon, and Fournette. Pro Comp: Adrian Peterson
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma: In another draft where you didn't have some superhuman lab creature ahead of him, Murray would be getting a lot of attention for his play at linebacker. Far more than just a mike/sam who can play downhill, Murray is a very effective pass rusher and has all the twitch you need to be successful covering RBs and TEs to boot. Having been the pulse of an improved Oklahoma defense over the past season, a lot of that starts with Murray. Pro Comp: Demario Davis
Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State: One of the currently most slept on edge rushers in the class in my opinion. Many will cite YGM's lack of discipline in the run game but I think it's well overblown. He sets a very good edge when he's patient and has arguably the best size/speed/power combo outside of Chase Young. There isn't a more consistently productive edge rusher in this class at the P5 level despite drawing lots of attention from teams all year long. I really hope people keep sleeping on him because he fits my Titans perfect at #29. I think GM's will wise up by April though. Pro Comp: Chandler Jones
Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama: I have been one of Ruggs' most vocal critics over the past few months as I was curious how fast he actually was. I had a strong feeling he wouldn't break the record but I though anything between 4.28 and 4.35 was in play. He exceeded those expectations. I still think he may be relegated to the slot often and I question his ability to win outside and grow on his limited production. He has insanely quick feet to match that top end speed, though, and has done a good job hanging onto the football. Ultimately, dude's fast. And speed sells. Pro Comp: Desean Jackson
K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU: Chaisson is one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft to me. There might not be a rusher that is more disruptive in terms of just running at you and beating you after Chase. Injuries have slowed him down and he didn't really produce until midway through the season. He finished very strong, though, and I would bet on him to continue that trend in the league. His athletic gifts are undeniable and will give him continued opportunities to succeed. Pro Comp: Shaquil Barrett
Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama: Brother of Stefon, Diggs clearly has some of the good family genes in him. His ball skills are possibly his best attribute and he attacks the ball like a wide receiver. Beyond that, he has all the measurables you want with great size and length and good speed for the position. He's tailor-made to play outside and has a good punch and is sticky in man coverage. People cite how JaMarr Chase wrecked him, and he did. But Joe Burrow and JaMarr Chase wrecked everyone and that's a high standard to hold him to. Ultimately, he's coming off a great year and will be a great press-man CB at the next level. Pro Comp: Xavier Rhodes (before he sucked)
Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU: Coming off a fantastic year on the title-winning Tigers team, Jefferson has gained a lot of notoriety since December. Thanks to three high level postseason games- where he racked up 30 catches for 448 yards and 5 TDs- and a very good combine performance, JJ is skyrocketing up boards. What people forget though is that he's been doing it all year. He's got great size and uses it very well attacking the ball aggressively (he won a ridiculous 92% of contested catches last year, almost double any other receiver in the class) and rarely drops passes. He has very good top speed, is a smooth route runner, and has a good release. Sure, he only ran at #2 CBs for a lot of the year, but he is a ridiculously complete receiver and, honestly, I may have him too low. Pro Comp: AJ Green
CJ Henderson, CB, Florida: Henderson is one of my favorite CB prospects in this draft and the sky is the limit on his potential. Often lumped together with failed Florida CBs of yesteryear (Quincy Wilson, Hargreaves, Teez Tabor, etc), it's foolish to gloss over this guy. He's an absolutely unreal springy, twitchy athlete with all the size and length you could want. He does a great job staying in front of 90% of plays and has the make-up speed you want in your OCB. He delivers a great hit when running downhill as well. You may knock him due to some big plays allowed in 2019, which he needs to correct, but is due partially to randomness, IMO. If he averages anywhere close to his 2018 play, he'll be a great pickup at #21. Pro Comp: Marlon Humphrey
Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson: Higgins has been one of the most productive receivers in CFB over the last 3 years and has made life very difficult for opposing CBs. Using his impressive size constantly to his advantage, he's an elite jump ball winner and an eraser for inaccurate QBs. I have questions over his top speed after he declined to run at the combine, but he certainly looks fast enough to get the job done in the NFL. He doesn't always separate but when you have the catch radius and sticky hands he does, you can get away with it. He'll never be the best receiver in the league but he's very safe and you'll never have to doubt having an option on the outside. Pro Comp: Mike Williams
Josh Jones, OT, Houston: I'm a big Josh Jones Stan as well. At Houston, he excelled in both pass protection and run blocking on a team that didn't have much to play for early on in the year. He's a pretty athletic tackle prospect with an opportunity to play at either spot. He needs to improve his anchor to not get off balance but I think experience and anticipation will help. I think people saying he's this year's Andre Dillard may be right; he doesn't have the highest pedigree but when you have a guy that big who can play like he does, you take him. Pro Comp: Jake Matthews
Zack Baun, OLB, Wisconsin: Baun may not be the most naturally gifted athletes but he's one of the most productive defenders in this class for good reason. He's a very complete defender who excels at doing a variety of things. Largely ask to play as an edge rusher at Wisconsin (but off-ball as well), he is exceptional at getting after the passer. He came in light to the combine all but confirming the move to OLB, but a team wanting to use him like Seattle used Bruce Irvin could see a lot of success. He has good instincts, a few good rush moves, and is fast enough to cover out of the backfield. Some say he's a so-so tackler but I haven't seen it. Take him and be prepared to get a little creative. Pro Comp: Clay Matthews
JK Dobbins, RB, Ohio State: What a career Dobbins has had at OSU. Two years ago he was already on draft boards as a potential scat back in the NFL. After a not-as-hoped progression in '18, he really showed his colors last year. Dobbins has developed into an electric and dominant runner who excels at finding a crease and smacking the hole. He ran like a man possessed this year on his way to a 2,000 yard and 21 TD season. He still retains that scat back ability though, flipping out of the backfield to constantly hoard free yards by being a nightmare for opposing LBs. He's a little undersized but he's bulked up in recent years. And his breakaway speed is may not as good as you'd think. But he's a wicked player and will have a long career. Pro Comp: Dalvin Cook
Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU: I was a critic of Fulton early on in the evaluation process but he's slowly started to prove me wrong. Besides a tough game against a very potent pass attack in Clemson and a so-so one against Alabama, Fulton was one of the best lock-down CBs all year. He had one of the best pass-defense ratings in CFB all year. The large questions for me around Fulton have to do with him staying in front of the football. He didn't seem to get his head turned around quick enough on film and that gives me pause for someone moving on to the next level. Still, he did it against CFB's best last year and he certainly has the speed to do it. A little undersized, he still has a good press and will be successful. He reminds me of another LSU CB who came out a couple years ago with similar concerns. Pro Comp: Tre'Davious White
Patrick Queen, ILB, LSU: Arguably no player improved their stock more through the national championship game than Patrick Queen. On many radars already, he exploded onto the scene after they called his name again and again against the nation's best. A very physical mike linebacker who loves playing downhill, he possesses elite athletic traits you want in a modern linebacker and delivers a ferocious boom when he times it right. He struggles with gambling at times, though he will develop as he becomes more experienced. Discipline can be taught, but that type of athleticism can't. Pro Comp: Rashaan Evans
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor: After an extremely impressive combine, Denzel Mims is rapidly ascending draft boards across America right now. If you weren't already looking, though, that's on you. After putting up nearly 3,000 yards the last 3 seasons at Baylor, Mims has been one of the most established threats in the Big12 for a while. A very long receiver with obviously great top speed and a great catch radius, there's very little that Mims can't do. There's very few receivers who come into the draft so pro-ready as blockers as well. I have concerns about his drop rate (8% is a little high) but he was reliable in 2019 and I forsee that not being a big issue in the leauge. Pro Comp: DeVante Parker
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon: Herbert has been one of the most polarizing prospects throughout this past season. Depending on who you ask, what he was able to achieve at Oregon may be very impressive or somewhat underwhelming. Same for his performance at the Senior Bowl. I don't feel as strongly, but I don't think Herbert will be a top 10 QB. He has the tools: a very good arm, good mobility, solid mechanics, is accurate for the most part. But, as many note, the game still looks like it moves too fast for Herbert. He's slow to process a lot of reads and struggles under pressure at times. I don't think he'll be horrible, for the record, and I think he has a big will to win. He's still worth a top 10 pick for a QB-needy team because he can lead a lot of teams to very be successful. But for all his good traits, there's just obviously something missing and I'm not sure if he'll ever acquire it. Higher floor, but lower ceiling than many think. Pro Comp: Sam Darnold
Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama: McKinney moves on from a great career at Alabama as a hyper-athletic, hard-hitting safety who finds the ball well. Don't let his combine fool you: he's much faster than 4.6. In a class where there aren't any great surefire safety prospects, McKinney will make some team very happy with his consistency in play. He needs to get better in coverage but he's the level of athlete that you believe it's teachable. He's not the sexiest pick but you can count on him as a good, versatile safety for years to come. Pro Comp: Shawn Williams
D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia: Many may scoff that I have Swift as the RB3 in this class but I still have him as one of the best 32 players. It's a testament to the depth of this class. Swift played in tandem with a combination of Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, and Elijah Holyfield for his first 2 seasons but really burst onto the scene as the guy in '19. He's a very twitchy, patient back who is expertly able to make defenders looked stupid with some violent cuts and spins. He's a very good back catching balls out the backfield and one of the best route runners in the class. Less so than the others, he doesn't have one thing that I think he's elite at but he does everything proficiently. It doesn't matter as much to me, but some teams will fall in love with the fact that he's only seen 400-odd touches in college, too. I don't think he's dominant, but he's certainly a feature back for most teams in the league. Pro Comp: Miles Sanders
Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame: There's our first TE on the board. When I watched through Kmet's tape at first, I'll be honest: I was a little bored. Kmet isn't exactly the flashiest player in this class and you won't see him wowing fans week-after-week with highlight plays. He is, though, extremely polished coming into the league. He obviously very big and moves well for his size. He's very sure-handed and is a very good in-line blocker. He only burst onto the scene this season, so there will be some doubts whether he can keep it up. But if you want sound TE play and a guy that just quietly does what you need him to, he's your man. Pro Comp: Mark Andrews
Grant Delpit, S, LSU: I really feel for Grant Delpit because it's very tough to go from a top 5-10 pick to a fringe first rounder. He hasn't done himself any favors this year, though. Infamous for many missed tackles this year, he also didn't flex his incredible ball skills the way he did in '18 and struggled with a nagging ankle injury. Despite all of this, he's still one of the best athletes in the draft and has all the size you want for someone playing safety. He's rangy with good make-up speed and still can deliver a pop when he does find the ball carrier. For all his problems tackling, I don't see it as an effort problem and that's important to note. He may hurt you, but he's also worth a significant gamble and can be a perennial Pro-Bowler. Pro Comp: Marcus Williams
Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame: Chase is one of my draft crushes since the middle of the season. If you want to watch a guy take over, just watch his 4th quarter performance against a good Virginia Tech secondary (I think it was before their starter got hurt). Claypool is a big guy for the position but I was stunned when he came in at 238. Still, he moves very fluidly and has great hands. He's an underrated route runner with great YAC ability. Of course, he also uses his size very well and is a proficient jump ball winner. I have questions about his hands in the past but in 2019 he was reliable. He was the only offensive threat and helped carry that Notre Dame offense to a 11-2 record. He needs a little polish but his God-given ability is off the charts. Pro Comp: Kenny Golladay
Mehki Becton, OT, Louisville: Becton is an absolute freak. A guy standing at 365 lbs has no business running a 5.1 forty. That's just stupid. He paved the way well all year for a resurgent Louisville rushing attack and just moved guys as he wanted all year long. You also can't help but notice how well he moves for his size: he won't win Dancing with the Stars, but he he's got good footwork. The only issue I have with Mehki lies in his effort/conditioning. It's hard to tell if he took some plays off because he was gassed or if it was because he didn't have effort, but he can't do that in the NFL. He may also struggle with the absolute best speed rushers. But guys with his size, quickness, and long arms are rare. He's still likely a first rounder. Pro Comp: Donovan Smith
Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama: Terrell Lewis is a lab-creation on the edge. The blend of his length, speed, and power is special. On his day, he is able to effortlessly glide through, around, over, etc opposing tackles at will. He struggled in the 2nd half of the season for Alabama and failed to register a sack after the Tennessee game. He plays undisciplined often and shows a poor repertoire of counters when his first move doesn't work. He weighs in well but is very lanky and looks very thin out there. He's missed a lot of time due to injury in his career each season he's played. It doesn't matter. When Lewis gets downhill and gets a step to a tackle, it's over. He's not my favorite prospect and comes with much risk, but there's no denying his top level ability if he can grow and stay healthy. Pro Comp: Montez Sweat
James Lynch, IDL, Baylor: I'm one of the biggest James Lynch fans in this draft. Lynch may not have the athletic profile of some of the other players on this list but by George is he not one of the most effective and refined players you have to choose from. After bursting on the scene as the best player on a dominant Baylor defense in 2019, he was a load to handle in the middle for opposing defense all year on his way to 13 sacks. He has a nasty initial punch that takes guards off balance and lives in the backfield. He won't get that at the NFL but for a 3 or 5 technique, he'll excel and is a very balanced defender. Very high floor on this one. Pro Comp: Cam Heyward
Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma: On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, you have an absolute freak in Neville Gallimore. Gallimore was able to shed 30 lbs last offseason to transition from a nose tackle to a more effective 3T and boy did it pay off. He was good before but he looked much more explosive this season and that showed through at the combine. Able to use his elite get off to get you off balance and his natural power to push through, he was able to live in the backfield. His only questions lie in the consistency of his effort. But if he can find another level in his motor and continue to condition, the sky's the limit. Able to play either a 3T or shade nose position at the next level easily. Pro Comp: Kenny Clark
Michael Pittman, WR, USC: Sometimes being an elite football player is just in your DNA. Pittman was a star at USC this past season after the team was relegated to their 3rd(?) starting QB early in the year. Slovis played well but it was in no small part to Pittman. Making highlight catch after highlight catch, he also wowed me with his quick feet and ability to get separation as well. He has an incredible contested catch rate and rarely drops the ball, creating a formula that makes almost any receiver successful in the league. There will be some questions about PAC12 DBs he faced, but it's silly. Pittman is one of my favorite receivers in the draft and wherever he lands in the 2nd round will be getting a steal. Pro Comp: Mike Evans
Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU: Ross has been a nfl_draft favorite for several months now but his stock in the public eye is finally starting to match perception. Blacklock excelled as a 3T at TCU last season and was able to use his tremendous athleticism to get in the backfield. He's very natural as a pass rusher and when he beats the guard to the first step, he's gone. A little small, he does get off balance at times. And there will be some concerns about injuries that have derailed him in the past. Still, when he's on his game, there are few better. Now that I think about it, I feel sorry for the talent that Big 12 guards saw last year. Pro Comp: Larry Ogunjobi
Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU: Another Horned Frog makes his way onto the board here and it's for good reason. Despite his size, Gladney feasted last year with TCU on his way to a productive 2019 campaign. A very intelligent player with very good speed, it takes quite a bit to get past Gladney in either man or zone. There will be some concerns whether his lack of size will keep him from playing OCB in the NFL but smaller CBs have done it and regardless there is a great future for him in the nickel as well. Physical and consistent, there's always a place for those CBs. A so-so combine doesn't deter me. Pro Comp: Kyle Fuller
Justin Madubuike, DT, Texas A&M: I. Love. Madubuike. My board is mostly set but he may continue to go up because the more I watch, the more I love. The guy has elite get off on the defensive line and has elite production in the SEC to match. 11 sacks and 20 TFL in the last 2 seasons is nothing to sniff at. He uses his great burst and mean punch to quickly accelerate past guards like they're not there. He's an efficient run defender and a great pass rusher. He needs to improve his work against double teams and add some to his frame but come on. The guy's a stud. Pro Comp: Gerald McCoy
Ashtyn Davis, S, California: Another favorite of people on the sub, Ashtyn Davis has everything you could want out of a prospect. To match his top-level athleticism, he's a safety with great instincts and ball-skills with very high character that appears very coachable. I have soft spot for former walk-ons and he's one of those guys that's grinded to get where he is. He has good size, to boot. He doesn't have many primary areas he struggles with but he can continue to develop against the run. He's a guy that can certainly sneak into the first round if the right team lands in the right situation. Pro Comp: Kevin Byard
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU: The 3rd Horned Frog in 5 spots, but Reagor finally settles in. I was a huge fan of Reagor when I started on the film and it's hard not to notice his incredible burst and top speed. Some will cite his so-so combine but I have no problem believing he's much faster than that. IMO, there's two things that separate Reagor from your traditional speed-demon prospect. First, he is one of the better 50/50 ball winners in this class and that's saying something. He has not let his height/weight keep him from attacking the ball catching it at full extension. Second, he is an extremely poor cutter for his natural speed. There's a lot of wasted movement and he nukes his own acceleration. Looks a little uncoordinated even. Still, he has a future in this league even with his limited route tree and drop problems. You can't take your eyes off him for one second. Pro Comp: DK Metcalf, minus a few inches
Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado: Very receivers in CFB the last two years have been as electric as Laviska Shenault. Able to play out wide, out of the slot, out of the backfield, or even in the wildcat, Viska uses his large frame and athleticism to power through defenders at will. As a receiver, he lacks quite a bit of polish. His route running can be sloppy and his hands can be questionable. But his YAC and running ability in general will keep him in the league for a long time. He's the type of guy you want to get the ball in space and let him go. Tackle at your own risk. Pro Comp: AJ Brown
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State: The last in a very difficult group of WRs for me to sort through, Aiyuk isn't far behind the others. After coming through the junior college ranks, Aiyuk burst onto the scene for ASU posting nearly 1200 yards and 8 TDs last year with an absolutely stupid 18 yards per catch. He is able to beat press on the outside (if you can get your hands on him) and use his incredible speed and acceleration to glide in between defenders rather effortlessly. He's pretty sure handed, though I wouldn't bank on him to go for many jump balls. Still, even if in the slot, Aiyuk will be a problem for opposing DCs for several years due to his ability to break one at any given time. He's a top 20 pick in most drafts. Pro Comp: DJ Moore
AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson: AJ is another in a long line of Clemson CBs that are really great on paper but on tape you just don't know about. Few had a more impressive showing at the combine and he assured scouts of his legit OCB size to match with elite athleticism. On film, he shows to be a very willing tackler and can deliver some pop on unsuspecting ball carriers. Still, you have to worry about Terrell as a gambler at times and he does seem to get lost in coverage. He was beat pretty badly in the NCG but I don't hold that against him. Ultimately, I think his level of play held him back and I'm confident he can adapt at the next level. Whether he will is up to him but there's no doubt he has all the tools to do it. Pro Comp: Byron Jones
Albert Okwuegbuman, TE, Missouri: The Big O was arguably the most heralded TE prospect coming into the past season but, like many flashy players before, he was exposed a little on film throughout the year. An absolute terror in the red zone with incredible big-play ability and obviously elite top-end athleticism, Albert has a lot of traits you want in a feature TE. He is, of course, a very inconsistent blocker and his lack of effort at times is concerning. There's no reason a TE that big and that athletic doesn't dominate on every play. You put Kmet in Albert O's body and you have a top 10 pick. Still, you have to hope the right coaches and environment can bring the best out of him. I wouldn't want to line up across from him on any given play. Pro Comp: Jimmy Graham
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne: Dugger is one of the great mysteries of the draft to me. Coming from a D2 school where he looked like Ed Reed playing against Pop Warner kids, it's really hard to judge how good this guy actually is. He had a great combine and that was one of the first benchmarks I needed to see him hit. He measured well, ran well. He clearly has good ball skills and has big plus upside as a return man at the next level. He's very powerful and used his size well. It's hard to say much more because right now he's mostly a blank canvas. But he's an incredible athlete and we could be talking about a future Pro Bowler. Pro Comp: Rayshawn Jenkins
Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan: Our first interior lineman sneaks on the board and it's well deserved. Cesar Ruiz starred in the middle of the Michigan OL the past couple seasons and is known for his consistency. He may not wow you with his athleticism but he's a very willing run block and very consistent pass protector. He's a cerebral player in the middle who plays very physically. It may not sound like the most glowing recommendation, but consistency is what you want the most from your interior lineman. He has as good a shot as any player to be a consistent Pro-Bowler. Pro Comp: Rodney Hudson
Kenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State: One of my favorite prospects in an otherwise rough edge class. Another former walk-on for MSU, Willekes has been one of the most productive edge defenders the last 3 seasons on his way to 50(!) TFLs and 23.5 sacks. Knocked for his athleticism, I don't totally understand why. He looks a little slow footed at times but at others is quick to blow right through tackles and even tight ends. He's very disciplined in the run game and his sack totals have gotten better each season. He's an absolute terror to block and projects best as 3-4 strong-side OLB. Pass on him because of his size if you want, I hope he suits up for my team next year. Pro Comp: Jordan Jenkins
Antoine Winfield, S, Minnesota: He may be pint-sized but he packs a mean punch. Playing safety for the Golden Gophers the last 4 season, Winfield burst on the scene this year after recording 7 picks on the year. Despite his small stature, he is not afraid to deliver some physical hits and plays very downhill. He excels in zone coverage but isn't to be picked on in man either and has little trouble reading the play. I have questions about how he will hold up after injuries derailed his previous two seasons, but he has football in is blood. I don't know if he'll hold up in the league, but he'll be damn good when he's out there. Pro Comp: Tyrann Mathieu
Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame: The last on the list is an explosive edge rusher who comes downhill as well as on the list. I am pretty critical of Okwara's lack of production- just 15 sacks and 20 TFLs in the last 3 seasons- and 2019 wasn't his best. He struggles to stay on the field. He gets stonewalled too easily. But when you turn on the tape, you know why he's so highly sought after. When he gets going at tough speed, you can't adjust to him. You almost can't see him coming. There's nothing gradual to his game. He either gets there quickly, or he doesn't at all. He needs to work hard on adding counters and becoming more physical. But if he can supplement that at all, he can be a dangerous pass rusher in the NFL. Pro Comp: Harold Landry
That's it guys. Hope you can glean something from it. Let me know where I screwed up in the comments. Lol. Cheers.
Initial Betting Line Released For Michigan-Notre Dame. SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 01: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines warms up with the team prior to their game against the Prediction. This line has played tricks on me all week, fluctuating back and forth between Michigan -1 and Notre Dame -1. Usually, when a team flips from the underdog to the favorite it’s a very Michigan was a 1.5-point road favorite against the Irish, but the line has moved back to favor Notre Dame at -1. Keep in mind the Wolverines are 0-3 on the road against ranked teams under Harbaugh The Michigan Wolverines (5-2) entertain the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-1) at Michigan Stadium Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET in a key game for both teams. Notre Dame is ranked seventh after its narrow win over USC last week.. Michigan is ranked 20th in the Amway poll, dropping four sports after a seven-point loss to Penn State last week. Notre Dame at Michigan: Betting trends and tips Notre Dame is 5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS, and 4 of their 6 games have hit the under. Notre Dame – Michigan Betting Odds & Point Spread Game Spread: Opened Michigan -4/ Current ND -1
by The Crowd's Line. 1:19. Shaun Nua on Wednesday of Notre Dame Week by TheWolverine. 8:50. ... Notre Dame vs Michigan NCAAF Week 9 Betting Picks and Preview by Big Man On Campus. Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Michigan Wolverines Predictions, Picks, and Odds for their showdown on Saturday October 26, from Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI. Direct from Las Vegas, the WagerTalk ... Bet On It - NFL Picks and Predictions for Week 11, Line Moves, Barking Dogs and Best Bets - Duration: 49:25. WagerTalk TV: Sports Betting Picks and Tips 6,980 views New Irish are taking on Michigan the weekend before Halloween! After a rough finish to 2017, Notre Dame looks to make the College Football Playoffs for the first time. Our predictions for 2018. Vote with your predictions...