Tag Archives: NFL Draft

NFC South: First Round Mock

This is a division that has represented the NFC Conference in the last two Super Bowls.  Unfortunately for the Falcons and Panthers, they ended up on the wrong side of memorable losses.  The Saints are trying to give coach Sean Payton and veteran QB Drew Brees “one more run” and the Buccaneers are a team definitely on the come up.  . .

Carolina Panthers

Finished 2016 with a 6-10 record

Def Yards: 21st  Off Yards: 19th

When you’re below average in offense and below average in defense, it’s easy to see you’re a team that has issues.   In Free-Agency they brought back defensive end Julius Peppers, who is somewhere in the range of 55-65 years old, second year man Devin Funchess’ supposed break-through season, ended up being a bust and Cam Newton was the NFL’s punching bag, literally and figuratively last season.

This is a situation in which you try to figure are you better off giving Cam Newton a chance out there, or do you start to rebuild a defense?  If you’re Ron Rivera and the Panthers brass, you’ve got to hitch your ride on Cam Newton.  Cam was the league two seasons ago and they’ve got to rebuild that confidence, because the entire team goes off of his vibes.  This is why with the 8th pick in this draft the Panthers should select Clemson wide-receiver Mike Williams.  We already mentioned the disappointing season had by Devin Funchess, but the number one option Kelvin Benjamin couldn’t record 1,000 receiving yards (that went to the tight end of the team, Greg Olsen).  Williams is a 6’3″ 205 pound man-child, who is a strong receiver who out-muscles defenders and is an excellent red-zone target.  The Panthers offense isn’t too difficult which is a perfect situation for any rookie wide-out, but Williams has the potential to be a top-10 receiver in the league, some where down the line, and he could end up being Cam’s new number one by the end of the season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Finished With a 9-7 Record

Def Yards: 23rd  Off Yards: 18th

When your starting safety is Chris Conte, it’s pretty obvious where you should go in the first round.  Bad news is, the top three safeties might be gone by the time the clock starts ticking on the Bucs’ 19th overall pick.  Adams, Hooker and Peppers might very well be gone, which leaves the Bucs to choose from UConn’s Obi Melifonwu and Utah’s Marcus Williams.  Melifonwu is more of the physical type, while Williams is the more skill-base-type of safety.  Williams might be a bit of a stretch this early, so if this is who the Bucs want, they might try to trade further back into the first round and take him, but Williams is a player who came out of a very good defensive school, in a division that has high-powered offenses.  The Pac-12 is a conference that loves to throw the ball around and he did exceptionally well against that.  He has a great knack for being around the ball and can help a defense that gave up 250 passing yards a game last year.

Atlanta Falcons

Finished with a 11-5 Record

Def Yards:25th   Off Yards:2nd

Without depressing Falcons fans (and Patriots haters) on how the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. . . ugh, how can we ignore that?  What a debacle.  Bad play-calling, decision-making and effort all rolled into one of the most classical “choke-jobs” in professional sports history. . . but ANYWAY. . . the Falcons have no use for drafting anything offensively, and although their defense finished 25th in total yardage, towards the end of the season, this unit seemed to be getting it altogether. . .until the end of the Super Bowl.  Getting to the quarterback is what the Falcons needed to do more of against Tom Brady and they failed.  Vic Beasley is the only consistent pass rusher on this defense and with the 31st pick of the NFL Draft, the Falcons might luck in and be able to grab Takkarist McKinley, of UCLA.  McKinley is an outside linebacker who can also play as a defensive end if needed.  He has a good burst off the line and has the ability to become a nuisance off the edge and through the gut.

New Orleans Saints

Finished With a 7-9 Record

Def Yards:27th     Off Yards: 1st

When looking at the defensive and offensive yardage rankings between the Falcons and the Saints, it’s hard to believe that one team was dominant during last season, and the other was the Saints.  Of the Saints 9 losses, only two of those games were determined by double digits, and six of those games were determined by five or less points. The Saints are painfully mediocre with a stellar offense – it’s a tough place to be. . .or even end up at, if we’re being honest.  With Brandin Cooks now in New England (where he will be an amazing addition) it only makes sense that the Saints go after the speedster out of Washington, John Ross.   Ross was the talk of the NFL Combine for running a 4.22 forty-yard-dash and he is the natural comparison to Brandin Cooks.  A small, shifty receiver, with good route running skills and the ability to stretch the field.  The Saints know that with their veteran quarterback Drew Brees, they can’t have him lack a weapon he used as often as he did last season.  If all goes well, it should be a perfect fit and the Saints would not lose a step in their offensive attack.

G.W. Gras

@GeeSteelio

NFC West: First Round Mock

It was just less than five years ago that the NFC West was thought to be the toughest division in football.  Every team had a tough defense, and the division games were grueling matches, usually decided at the line of scrimmage.  Now a days, it’s more like a Seahawks team with a lot of bark, an under achieving Cardinals team and two of the most poorly run franchises in the league in the Rams and the 49ers.

Here we will discuss the best option for these squads and what they should do with their first round pick.

San Francisco 49ers: 2nd Overall Pick
Finished 2016 with a 2-14 record
Def Yards: 32nd Off yards: 31st

Talk about a complete disaster.  The San Francisco 49ers were once considered one of the most cherished franchises in the league, but last year further cemented the “bottom feeder” persona that they really are.  The team’s best player is an above average running back in Carlos Hyde and a veteran left tackle in Joe Staley.  They went out and signed wide receiver Pierre Garcon but at quarterback they are looking at Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer.  The “woes” don’t stop there either.  Defensively they are led by two veteran linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Navorro Bowman – but as 2016 showed, that isn’t scaring anybody. . .


Automatically, people may say: “You need to build this team around a quarterback,” and if that’s the case, have your pick with these “maybe-average-at-best” options, in Deshaun Watson and Mitchel Trubisky.   But just what can a rookie quarterback do with this team?  Exactly.  The only real option for the 49ers here is to auction off this pick to the highest bidder.  There is no shame in trading back and getting more picks, when you have one of the worse rosters in the NFL.  Since nobody has been able to get a clear feel on how teams feel about these quarterbacks, trading back may still ensure the Niners securing Watson or even maybe a Pat Mahomes or Brad Kaaya (Kaaya in maybe the 4th round).  But aside from the quarterback position, the Niners can benefit by getting multiple picks in rounds as last as the 4th or 5th and start plugging in players in positions of need. . . which will be easy because the 49ers need everything.

Los Angeles Rams: 5th Overall Pick
Finished with a 4-12 record
Def Yards: 9th    Off Yards:32nd

The draft helps bad teams like the Rams, get a good early pick to bolster areas needed.  Defensively, they were in the NFL’s top ten of yards given up, but finished dead last in offensive yardage.  They have a potential bust in their quarterback selection last year, have a weak offensive line and no real receiving threat.  .  . They most likely would’ve went on the offensive side of the ball, but unfortunately this pick is owned by the Tennessee Titans, so. . . that’s it for the Rams, who will continue to be a brutal on the offensive side of the ball.

Arizona Cardinals: 13th Overall Pick
Finished with a 7-8-1 record
Def Yards: 2nd    Off Yards: 9th

This Arizona team confused just about everybody.  Even I touted them as the best team in the league last year and was left looking as if I had no business talking football ever again. . . keeping that in mind, let me continue to talk about this sport of football. . .  The Cardinals lost two safeties in the off-season, but at the start of 2017 they’ll have a healthy Tyrann Mathieu back there, and he is possibly the best at the position.  Patrick Peterson is the lone corner on this team, so expect the Cardinals to go after Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey. BleedingGreenNation.com referred to him as “a tone setter in the secondary,” and his aggressiveness proves this to be true.  The issue is, he’ll probably be scooped up by Buffalo with the tenth pick, because they just lost Stephon Gilmore to the Patriots in free agency.  This leaves them with options though at corner, and the versatile  Adoree’ Jackson of USC comes to mind.  Not only is he a great athlete at the position (11 passes defensed and five interceptions) – his versatility as a kick returner and a wide receiver can open the door for a mad-scientist-head-coach like Bruce Arians.

The Cardinals, lacked a “spark” or “energy” last season, Jackson is the kind of electric player who can provide that to this franchise. It may be a bit of a stretch at the 13th spot, but I just believe he’s a better corner than Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore and way better than Washington’s Sidney Jones.  Jackson is a player, who loves the spotlight and his kind of attitude would fit in great with Mathieu and Peterson.

Seattle Seahawks: 26th Overall Pick
Finished with a 10-5 record
Def Yards: 5th  Off Yards: 12th

The Seahawks are the one team in this division that seem to take winning seriously.  Even with that being understood, their franchise quarterback Russell Wilson has a tough go the last few years when it comes to not being sacked.  Some of it may be attributed to his inability at times of trying to do more than he can, but the sack numbers since 2013 to 2016 are: 44, 42, 45 and 41 — and last year he coupled that forty-one with his lowest number of touchdown passes, 21.  Seattle “helped” Wilson by signing tackle Luke Joeckel to a one year deal. . . Joeckel has been more of a “joke-el” after being selected with second pick overall in the 2013 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.


Seattle will most likely address this offensive line issue, although this draft doesn’t really have any standouts – at least not too many ‘first-round’ standouts.  The minds at Pro Football Focus ranked this unit as the worst in the league, and although my pick for them is somewhat of a gamble, the selection here is LSU guard Ethan Pocic. He can play both center and guard, but it is likely when drafted he would start out at guard.  LSU’s offensive line is one of the more dominant in college football, it didn’t matter if Leonard Fournette or Derrius Guice ran the ball – the ground game was able to pick up yards in chunks.  He is a patient player, who was trusted to make adjustments from the line.  He finished 2016 as a First-Team All American and SEC player. Some folks have him as a late second round talent, but I have him as one of my top three offensive linemen in the draft.

G.W. Gras
twitter @GeeSteelio

Three Potential First-Round Busts

It’s never nice to predict which of these kids will become a “bust.”  It’s a harsh title to bequeath upon a youngster who has his entire future/career ahead of him, BUT – it happens.  Some are noticeably horrendous like Jamarcus Russell, while others suffer injuries and personal setbacks like Brian Bosworth.  Whatever happens in the future, let’s just make it clear – I’m not wishing for the worse, just predicting it.

DeForest Buckner, DE,49ers, Seventh Overall Pick:

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This isn’t even Buckner’s fault as much as it where he came from (Oregon) and where he landed (San Francisco).   There are only two names that come to mind when one thinks of successful Oregon Ducks selected in the first round, Haloti Ngata and Kyle Long (and Long, at the time, was a real reach for Chicago in the first round. . .).  Dion Jordan proved to be a bust in Miami and the 49ers drafted Arik Armstead out of Oregon last year . . .  it’s apparent they were so impressed by Armstead’s mediocrity that they decided to roll the dice on another Oregon Duck in DeForest Buckner.  Buckner is a “stiff” player with very little fluidity in his game.  He lacks that aggressive nature you’d want from the edge and his instincts are a second too slow or just wrong altogether.  His potential will rot away on a team that is currently a sinking ship.

Eli Apple, CB, New York Giants, Tenth Pick Overall:

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The Giants appeared to be a mess on the first day of the draft.  They acted as if they didn’t have time to plan, or the date just “snuck up on them.”  The Bears jumped in front of the Giants and took OLB Leonard Floyd from Georgia, who was someone the Giants had their eyes on and then something weird happened.  The Giants decided to draft a corner back and instead of going for Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves, they went with Ohio State’s Eli Apple.  I get it, from a public relations standpoint it’s cute to say things like “Another Eli in the Big Apple” but in the football world, this was a confusing pick.  Eli Apple was second-team all conference.  He plays in the Big Ten.  He went up against maybe 3 good quarterbacks all year and plays on one of the best defensive units in college football. . . and with all that, this first round pick was “second-team” all conference.   He has slow reaction times, and gets beat a lot.  He’ll have his hands full with the Redskins and Cowboys receiving cores — he’ll even struggle with the likes of Jordan Matthews of Philadelphia.  This is a situation where the Giants went for need and not best player available.  Although the best player available was probably Vernon Hargreaves who plays the same position.  There is a good chance that on the night of the draft, general manager Jerry Reese was drunk.

Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams, First Pick Overall:

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First pick overall Jared Goff has some interesting foot-notes on his resume: In the 2015 season he struggled against Washington, struggled against USC and looked pitiful against Utah.  What do those three teams have in common?  They all have athletic, talented defenses with NFL-ready guys on them.  Something else that hits a nerve when looking at Goff’s resume – he never beat Stanford.  Now, I’m far from the guy who puts wins and losses on a quarterback, but the bottom line is, Stanford is a very blue collar and aggressive team – and he couldn’t figure them out.  He holds the ball for too long if you watch his tape;  and he benefited from the world of college football where you can zip a pass right off the snap from the shotgun/pistol.  He has “the look”, has the strong arm and talks a good game but the Rams didn’t draft their franchise quarterback this time around.  They drafted a guy who can “fill in” at best – until a better option comes along.  Having Todd Gurley in the backfield should help him out, but teams are going to stack the box all year and force him to come out from under center and deliver passes to, what is, a below average receiving core in Los Angeles.  Truth be told, his best option may be fellow rookie Tyler Higabee out of Western Kentucky – but he’s a rookie, who’s off the field decision making is a huge question and will have to prove himself against veteran tight end Lance Hendricks.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

 

 

3 Immediate Impact First Rounders

Every year in the NFL draft there are players who will be stars, players who will play a role and players who will “bust.”  When a young man is a first round pick in the NFL draft, there is a certain aura around that player.  He is expected to help a team get to the next level, or even carry them into a new era.  This is a lot to put on the shoulders of a kid straight out of frat-parties, juggling girlfriends and handing in a science lab on time.  When you’re a star though, you welcome that pressure and are excited to see how well you will be in the NFL.  Here are three players taken in the first round who will have a positive impact on their teams from week one.

Ezekiel Elliot, Dallas Cowboys, Fourth Pick in the Draft

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This one is the most obvious choice.  The Cowboys thought they could lose Demarco Murray and replace him with just about anybody behind that offensive line.  Joseph Randle was the one people though would carry the torch, but he proved himself to be a knucklehead (for lack of better words) and Lance Dunbar proved to be “just a guy” on the roster.  They were lucky enough to take a gamble on Darren McFadden last year, when most teams in the league didn’t want to touch the often-injured back.  McFadden carried the ball for over a 1000 yards, but to expect that again would be asking for a lot.  The Cowboys signed Alfred Morris to a deal which many thought would be enough.  The pairing of Morris and McFadden behind the offensive line seemed to be a match that could work but the Cowboys, like most gunslingers in the wild west would think – there is never enough ammunition.  Looking at his play in college, Elliot has the abilities to transcend himself in the league to be a top-five back in the NFL today.  That’s something McFadden can’t say, and Morris – well to be nice, he could be a top ten back. . .

Many thought that Dallas should upgrade their defense with this pick, but the Cowboys realized one young player on their defense won’t help to satisfy all their woes, so they decided to stockpile on the offensive side of the ball where they can do their damage.  Elliot can give the Cowboys a running game closer to what they had with Murray, which will make this offense one of the best in the league (of course this all goes hand in hand with keeping quarterback Tony Romo healthy, but a strong running game will leave the veteran QB less vulnerable.)

Predicted Stat line: 1,350 Rushing  Yards, 10 Rushing Touchdowns, 4.8 yards per carry

Robert Nkemdiche, Arizona Cardinals, Thirtieth Pick in the Draft

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If it wasn’t for “character concerns,” Nkmediche would have been a top ten pick, easily.  This was a smart move by the Cardinals who have a good roster as is, and were only looking for most pass rushers, particularly from the inside.  NFL.com has him listed as a defensive tackle, but his athleticism and quickness will no doubt see him attacking from the outsides more.  He is an aggressive pass rusher who uses his athleticism and balance well against the opposition.  If Nkemdiche can’t work with head coach Bruce Arians, who is without a doubt one of the best in the NFL, then he won’t be able to work with any coach in this league.  This is a great landing spot for Nkemdiche who is used to a winning tradition with talent around him and now he has that same formula at the next level where his skills should show an immediate impact.

Predicted Stat Line:  7 sacks, 80 tackles

Corey Coleman, Cleveland Browns, Fifteenth Pick in the Draft

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Although the best receiver of this class is Laquon Treadwell, who got drafted by the Vikings with the twenty-third pick overall – it’s Coleman who will be more heavily relied on in the Browns offense.  Where Treadwell has Adrian Peterson, Coleman has Isiah Crowell and Duke Johnson. . . Where Treadwell has Teddy Bridgewater, Coleman has RG3 and/or Josh McCown.  In other words, everything around Coleman is inconsistent where Treadwell is steady.  This is good and bad for Coleman.  Bad because, well. . . the Browns are bad.  There is just no other way around it.  The good news for Coleman though,  is that he is already the team’s best wide receiver and outside of left tackle Joe Thomas, he is also the teams best offensive weapon.  Coleman is the type to make a catch and immediately tries to make something big happen.  McCown and/or RG3 are both capable enough at the quarterback position (and smart enough) to get the ball into Coleman’s hands as much as they can.  If RG3 happens to catch half the magic he played with in his rookie year, Coleman will put up monster numbers.  He’s a deep threat, and chances are the Browns will be faced with a lot of second and long and third and long situations. . . they’ll also be playing from behind a lot. .  .  . so there’s that.  . .

Predicted Stat line: 85 catches, 1235 yards, 7 touchdowns

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Analyzing the Bears Draft

Now that we’ve had time to let it all sink in maybe we can just be real.  Maybe now we can speak realistically in terms of expectations that come with the Chicago Bears’ 2016 rookie class.   Do we really have future stars?  Did we really come away with a steal in the draft?  Truth is, only time will tell.

Chicago Bears first-round draft pick Leonard Floyd poses for a photo, after taking questions from reporters at Halas Hall, Friday April 29, 2016. He said he s very happy he landed with the bears, who have a great defensive history. (Tribune photo/Abel Uribe)

First Round Pick – Leonard Floyd OLB, Georiga

Personally, this is the guy I wanted the Bears to take and they jumped a spot ahead of the New York Giants to do it.  At 6’6″ and 244 pounds, Bears fans are hoping for something along the lines of Aldon Smith, without all the mental baggage.   In the Bears 3-4 scheme, it would be expected for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to place Floyd, all over the field and exploit his athleticism as a straight-pass-rusher.  He gets a little lost when he drops back into zone coverage which might be a concern early, unless he picks up the NFL’s speed at a fast rate.  Regardless, he’s quick enough to recover and will be a disturbance to the oppositions outside rush attacks.  A lot of people are judging Floyd because of his size – or lack thereof – but in truth, that will either come in time, or his lack of bulk will actually become a positive in the long run.  The NFL has become a faster place, which is why Lloyd is a perfect hybrid-type of player for the Bears to have in this defense moving forward.

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Second Round – Cody Whitehair G, Kansas State

Let’s all be honest, although Whitehair is a need and will probably be a starter from day one, let’s not forget – he’s our consolation prize.  The Bears were hoping to land Indiana tackle, Jason Spriggs but the Green Bay Packers (like the snakes we know they are) jumped ahead of us and took him.  This action left us to go with the next best man on the offensive line list  which happened to be Cody Whitehair.  Whitehair is an instinctive linemen who was able to give his quarterback, Luke Falk, a lot of time in their pass heavy attack. With Grasu at center, Kyle Long at right guard and Whitehair at left guard (although he played tackle in Washington State) – the Bears might have the nucleus of their offensive line set for years to come.

Third Round – Jonathan Bullard DE, Florida

Another instinctive player, but this one is on the defensive side of the ball.   Lance Zierlin of NFL.com had him going in the second round of the draft, so right there shows value in this pick.  He’s another “lack of size” guy, but the Bears are getting what they want in this defense – athleticism and speed.  The Florida Gators have had one of the most blue-collar and grittier defenses over the last three years and it’s because of players like Bullard.  He was a sure tackler in college and should really find his way nicely.

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Fourth Round – Nick Kwiatkoski ILB,  West Virginia

Here is one of those “depth-guy” picks.  It’s not a knock on Kwiatkoski – just don’t expect him to be Mike Singletary out there. He’s a tough kid, with a nose for the ball.  He converted from safety to linebacker successfully in school and was a leader on the field.  The issue with Kwiatkoski is that he is used to just knocking guys down and not really wrapping them up and he’ll surely get gobbled up by offensive linemen more than we’ll ever see him run through them.

Fourth Round -Deiondre’ Hall, CB/FS, Northern Iowa

This was another one of those guys I really was glad to see the Bears get.  Hall has freakishly long arms at his position (34″ arms to go with his 9.5″ sized hands) and standing at 6’2″ it only adds to his full extension when he leaps.  He doesn’t have the speed or technique to become a number one or number two corner in the league and although his frame is a bit under what one would want a safety to be – his skill set is a better fit for the position.  He’s a physical player who will be a starter in this league.  To get him in the fourth round is a steal.  He’ll be the one to keep your eyes on this year.  . .

Fifth Round – Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana

He has a pretty boring name and comes from a pretty boring program, but Howard is a strong north-south rusher who you could argue – was one of the top five backs in this year’s draft.  Of course we all know running backs are not valued like they once were, but Bears coach John Fox is known to use the running game to open things up and he is also known for mix and matching his backs.  Howard was able to put up big numbers against stout competition, but he also ran behind a pretty good offensive line in college.

Sixth Round -Deiondre Houston-Carson, FS , William & Mary

I wont even pretend as if I know anything about anybody from William & Mary, but it looks like he converted from corner back to free safety and was a beast playing both positions at the FCS level.  When it comes to these small school athletes it’s just hard to gauge  how good they’ll become based on their level of competition in college.

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7th Round – Daniel Braverman, WR, Western Michigan

Last season, the Western Michigan Broncos  were  a program that put up points in bunches.  Braverman added to that with his 108 catches and over 1300 receiving yards.  The comparisons to Julian Edelman and Wes Welker have been made hundreds of times and it’s because at 5’10” and 175 pounds, the only thing he can be is a slot receiver.  Then again, Braverman proved while in college he’ll line up just about anywhere.  He has great hands, always looking to gain yards after the catch and has great footwork.  He will definitely push guys like Eddie Royal and Marquis Wilson when it comes to getting that slot position locked down – he’s also a pretty good special teams player – so Marc Mariani’s days in Chicago may be coming to an end soon.

Undrafted: Ben Braunecker, TE, Harvard

This was an intriguing signing after the draft.  Braunecker was rated by the Wall Street Journal as the best player at the NFL combine.  He destroyed the Ivy league, but that’s because he’s the biggest guy standing in a room with a  bunch of lawyers – let’s be honest.  Still though, he shows great abilities as a pass catching tight end and if we look at the tight end depth chart on the Bears it reads something like Zach Miller, Khari Lee and Rob Housler.  Although Miller showed flashes last year, to just think that’ll be him week in and week out is insanity.  Braunecker is obviously smart enough to understand an NFL playbook and it shouldn’t surprise anybody to see him make the 53 man roster this year.

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This Bears draft was intriguing.  They did away with the “traditionalist” way of football thinking and decided to go for athletes they could plug in their positions of need.  It’s clear that general manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox have a plan and they’re sticking to it.  This is a draft class  Bears fans should be excited about.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

The “Filthy As Ever” Eagles

Remember when Andy Reid coached the Eagles?   The fans in Philadelphia were almost guaranteed a 10 win season.  They even expected playoff success.  Sure, there wasn’t a Super Bowl win during Andy Reid’s reign, but there was a successful and confident stability within the organization.   When Reid was told that his services were no longer needed, Eagles fans were elated with the hiring of then, Oregon Ducks head coach, Chip Kelly.  Chip Kelly never delivered the high flying offense that was promised to Philadelphia but did finish 10-6 in his first two seasons.  The third season is when turmoil grew within the organization under Kelly, and after going 6-9, the Eagles were done with Kelly.

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The off-season found the Eagles dumping any remains of the Kelly era throughout the league.  Ridding the Eagles of players that Kelly signed to the team.  This was an impressive move by the Eagles in terms of cleaning up shop, but it also left them with one of the worse rosters in the NFL.

Now what’s left of the Philadelphia Eagles?  Not much.

The Eagles made a head scratching move in trading up in this year’s draft to take North Dakota State quarterback, Carson Wentz.  It was head scratching because for a team with so many holes in it they gave up a lot.  They gave up three picks in this year’s draft including their first rounder, next year’s first rounder and 2018’s second round pick.

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Let’s consider the potential drama that will unfold in Philadelphia.

Current quarterback Sam Bradford wants out of Philly and although he was just handsomely paid by the Eagles, he feels ‘insulted’ to some degree and wants out.   Bradford got grossly over-paid at the tune of 2 years for $36 million – he is barely average and the Eagles paid him like a franchise guy.  With that price tag many teams in the league are not interested so it should be an interesting stale-mate.  The Eagles want Wentz to sit down for a year and then start the following season, but if this situation with Bradford doesn’t ease up, the Eagles will be throwing the rookie to the wolves.

Wentz might be a kid with potential, but the “right now” says he’s a FCS quarterback who played weak competition and has no idea what the speed of the NFL holds for him.  Add to the fact that his best weapon is a second year receiver in Jordan Matthews; and that he will be guided by a rookie head coach in Doug Pederson (who by the way was the offensive coordinator for none other than Andy Reid).

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The Eagles, if they’re lucky will win four games this season and they can’t even cash in on the one benefit of being terrible – cashing in with an early first round pick, because it was traded away.  Sorry, Carson Wentz – you’re not getting any help, any time soon.

If the Eagles could do it all over again, Andy Reid would’ve stayed in Philly.  All the Eagles did in the last three years is confuse a fan base, lose a culture and make themselves look foolish.  They will once again be at the bottom of the NFC East looking up to the Redskins, Cowboys and even the Giants.

The Philadelphia fans are known to be the most rowdy and insane in the sports world, so it should be interesting to see what kind of revolution happens in the city of brotherly love when the Filadelfia Feebles take the field this year.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Heartthrob’s Mock Draft 2.0

Yeah, this mock draft stuff is frustrating. . . As soon as I was done with my mock  the first two picks in the draft were traded.  I couldn’t sit idly by and do nothing about, so here is a quick rundown/update of the 2016 NFL Draft as I see it.  Let’s see what I have your team doing in the first two rounds.  The 2.0 won’t be as in-depth as the first time around, just the teams and the players I expect them to take in this fictional world of mine. . .

*players names in “(       )” indicate who teams took in first mock draft

Round 1:

  1. Rams (from Titans) – After this trade they go and snatch up Jared Goff, QB from Cal.  They should’ve taken Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State but whatever – both of these QB’s will disappoint.
  2. Eagles (from Browns) – They’ll take the  other over-hyped QB, Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State.  The Eagles are going to be terrible for the next four-five years.
  3. Chargers – Jalen Ramsey, CB/Saftey out of Florida State.(De’Forest Buckner)
  4. Cowboys – Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Ohio State
  5. Jaguars – Leremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss (Myles Jack)
  6. Ravens – De’Forest Buckner, DE, Oregon (Ronnie Staley)
  7. 49ers – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis (Shaq Lawson)
  8. Browns – Ronnie Staley, OT, Notre Dame
  9. Bucs – Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida (Kevin Dodd)
  10. Lions (get this pick after mock trade with Giants) – Joey Bosa,  DE, Ohio State (A’Shawn Robinson)
  11. Bears – Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia (Jalen Ramsey)
  12. Saints – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson (Leonard Floyd)
  13. Dolphins – William Jackson III, CB, Houston (same)
  14. Raiders –  A’Shawn Robinson,DT, Alabama (Robert N’kemdiche)
  15. Titans – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
  16. Giants (get this pick after mock trade with Lions) – Myles Jack, UCLA, LB (Joey Bosa)
  17. Falcons – Robert N’kemdice, DE, Ole Miss (Eli Apple)
  18. Colts – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss (same)
  19. Bills – Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State (same)
  20. Panthers (get this pick after mock trade with Jets) – Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
  21. Redskins – Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama (Jalon Smith)
  22. Chiefs – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor (Will Fuller)
  23. Vikings – Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame (Michael Thomas)
  24. Bengals – Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State (Josh Doctson)
  25. Steelers – Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford (Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson)
  26. Seahawks – Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State (Reggie Ragland)
  27. Packers – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama (same)
  28. Vikings – Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson (Corey Coleman)
  29. Cardinals – Sheldin Rankins, DT, Louisville (Emmanuel Ogbah)
  30. Jets (get this pick after mock trade with Panthers) – Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
  31. Broncos – Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State (Dak Prescott)

Second Round

32. Browns – Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt (same) — huge bust potential

33. Titans –  Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State (Jason Spriggs)

34. Cowboys – Yannick Ngakue, DE, Maryland (same)

35. Chargers – Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M (Braxton Miller)

36. Ravens – Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (same)

37. 49ers – Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana (Joshua Garnett)

38. Jaguars – Cody Whitehair, OG, Washington State (same)

39. Bucs – Kamalei Correa, DE, Boise (same)

40. Giants – Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State (Devonte Booker)

41. Bears – Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia

42.  Dolphins – Keanu Neal, S, Florida (same)

43. Titans – Xamien Howard, CB, Baylor

44. Raiders – Su’a Cravens, LB/S, USC (same)

45. Titans – Deion Jones, LB, LSU

46. Lions – Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma (Shilique Calhoun)

47. Saints – Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky (Sheldon Day)

48. Colts – Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama (same)

49. Bills – Justin Simmons, S, Boston College (same)’

50. Falcons – Sheldon Day, DE, Notre Dame (Noah Spence)

51. Jets – Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas

52. Texans – Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State (same)

53. Redskins – Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida (Kendall Fuller)

54. Vikings – Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona

55. Bengals – Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA (same)

56. Seahawks – Kyler Frackell (same)

57. Packers – Nick Vigil (same)

58. Steelers – Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State (Darian Thompson)

59. Chiefs – Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma (Scooby Wright)

60. Patriots -Kendall Fuller, CB, Virgina Tech(Zack Sanchez)

61. Patriots – Alex McCallister, LB, Florida (same)

62. Panthers – Tajae Sharpe, WR, Umass (same)

63. Broncos – Beniquez Brown, LB, Miss State (Kenneth Dixon)

 

No matter what happens from here till draft day – this will definitely be the last mock draft you’ll see from your boy the Heartthrob, until 2017.  Enjoy the draft and good luck to your favorite team!

 

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

 

The Heartthrob’s 2016 NFL Mockery Draft

Here is my disclaimer:

I am not a draft guru.  I don’t pretend to be.  Eh, I kind of pretend to be at least. . .  Regardless, if you want REAL breakdowns of NFL draft prospects – check out the following guys: Josh Zimmer (@JZimmer_NFL), Montel Hardy (@MontelNFL), Joe Wedra (@JoeWedra) and Justin Higdon (@afc2nfc).  Well, now that that’s out of the way, let’s proceed with the ridiculous! (Only doing the first two rounds)

Round 1:

  1. Titans – The obvious, no brainer pick.  The Titan’s think they have a franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota, so it makes perfect sense to select Ole Miss, left tackle Laremy Tunsil.  Laremy+Tunsil+NFL+Combine+Day+3+ddhVEdGdq63l
  2. Browns – Does it really matter who they pick?  No, it doesn’t.  They just signed RG3, but is that really signing a starting quarterback? Who knows. They’ll still take Carson Wentz, quarterback out of North Dakota State.  Keep in mind, every single division one college could’ve had this guy. . . or at least that’s what I tell myself.  He played for North Dakota State. . . And killed it, at North Dakota State. We know nothing about the state of North Dakota except that there is a south to it apparently.
  3. Chargers – An interesting team.  Do we root for them purely for their powder blue jerseys?  Probably.  Why not, those jerseys are probably the flyest things you can purchase on NFLshop.com.  I have a powder blue Rivers jersey, it’s beautiful.  Usually I rock it with grey sweats, grey sneakers and a powder blue hat.  The pick? Does it matter, really?  They’ll over-shoot the value of Oregon defensive end, DeForest Buckner who’ll end up being a bust.
  4. Cowboys – They need defense. Sure.  But they also know that with a good running back behind this offensive line, they can go back to being the offense they were before last season.  In a surprise move they take Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliot. Ezekiel+Elliott+BattleFrog+Fiesta+Bowl+Ohio+txBvI6Keximl
  5. Jaguars – The Jags can score, they just need to stop other teams from doing it to them.  They go after UCLA’s linebacker, Myles Jack.  A great athlete who can make up for some of the holes in this defense
  6. Ravens – They keep giving money to Joe Flacco, because they love living in a world of mediocrity. Protect that mediocre investment with Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Staley.
  7. 49ers – Kapernick realizes there are worse things in the world like playing for a this team and being coached by Chip Kelly – like chewing tin foil. So he sticks it around, mostly because nobody else will pay him what he’s owed.  They take Shaq Lawson out of Clemson, which is funny because they should’ve taken the better defender out of Clemson Kevin Dodd.
  8. Eagles – Funny, they pick right after Chip Kelly does. They lock up Florida corner back Vernon Hargreaves. III+Vernon+Hargreaves+Florida+State+v+Florida+VYIGliSqY87l
  9. Bucs – Call the 49ers real quick to thank them.  They select Clemson’s Kevin Dodd.
  10. Lions – Giants general manager Jerry Reese is on the hot seat.  Spent a lot of money on defense in the off-season and was really hoping for Ezekiel Elliot to drop to number 10.  Calls Detroit for a swap of picks – Detroit wants to fill that defensive tackle spot so they take Alabama’s A’Shawn Robinson.
  11. Bears – Everyone the Bears wanted, Hargreaves, Robinson and Staley are gone.  They remember they have a corner in Kyle Fuller who is awful, so they select Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey in hopes of something better.
  12. Saints – Nobody knows why Sean Payton and Drew Brees are still here.  They go after Leornard Floyd, linebacker out of Georgia – who will end up being a good building block for them, when they realize they stink and should be rebuilding. Leonard+Floyd+Georgia+Southern+v+Georgia+dvAMtXsRZG1l
  13. Dolphins – They are tempted to take a receiver here but they have two young ones in DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry who should be okay moving forward.  Only issue is that this poor team still thinks Ryan Tannehill is a true franchise quarterback.  In a surprisingly smart move, they take Houston corner William Jackson III. 
  14. Raiders – Ignore the red flags and take Robert Nkemdiche, out of Ole Miss.  The gamble will pay off in the long run for the boys in silver and black.
  15. Rams – They think they got lucky with Cal quarterback Jared Goff, dropping to them but much to their dismay he turns out to be horrible at playing quarterback.  In a surprising twist he can hold a clipboard and root his teammates on from the sidelines really well, so there’s that. . .Jared+Goff+Arizona+State+v+California+pTp-DWGfgNdl
  16. Giants – Much like the Rams, the Giants think they’ve gotten lucky that Ohio State linebacker Joey Bosa has fallen to them.  But they realize by week three Bosa can get shoved around a lot and doesn’t play as “big” as he did for Ohio State.  Jerry Reese goes on twitter and starts to write childish memes about Joey Bosa before being fired by the Giants half  way through the season.
  17. Falcons – The Falcons continue the love for Ohio State in the first round and select corner Eli Apple.
  18. Colts – Realizing that their overall talent and depth chart are extremely underwhelming – they decide to put this entire season on the shoulders of a healthy Andrew Luck.  They help him out by drafting Ole Miss wide out Laquon Treadwell.
  19. Bills – Rex Ryan don’ care.  Takes a sure bust in Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee.
  20. Jets – Funny how the Jets draft after Ryan, huh?  The Jets traded for Ryan Clady because of the retirement of left tackle D’Brickshaw Ferguson.  Clady is a veteran and the Jets are a little paranoid.  So they go after Ohio State’s (yes, another Buckeye) Taylor Decker, who  is more of a right tackle, than left – there is enough value in the potential of him moving forward for the Jets to feel this is the best move now.
  21. Redskins – Don’t look now, but the Redskins actually have a pretty decent squad. This allows the Redskins to take a gamble on injured Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith. Jaylon+Smith+BattleFrog+Fiesta+Bowl+Ohio+State+gLEhp-h8F7zl
  22. Chiefs – After swapping picks with the Texans, the Chiefs decide to draft wide receiver Will Fuller out of Notre Dame.
  23. Vikings – The Vikings draft wide receiver Michael Thomas out of Ohio State.  No cute story here or anything, they just need wide receivers.
  24. Bengals – They need wide receiver’s too, to help opposite of AJ Green, they go after TCU’s Josh Doctson.
  25. Steelers – Tempted to go wide receiver here as well, they decide instead to help out a secondary that was destroyed last year and draft Clemson corner back, Mackensie Alexander.
  26. Seahawks – The rich get richer, the Seahawks add an inside linebacker to their rotation in Alabama’s Reggie Ragland.
  27. Packers – The Packers need someone in that defensive tackle spot, they knew Alabama’s Jarran Reed would be here, so it’s a no brainer.  Deep down, they were hoping Robert Nkemdiche would’ve dropped to them.  Tough luck, Wisconsin.
  28. Vikings – Minnesota wants back in, so they trade their second and third round picks to the Texans.  Vikings go wide receiver again, to help out their quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.  They select Baylor’s Corey Coleman.
  29. Cardinals – They have the coolest coach in the league in Bruce Arians.  Emmanuel Ogbah, defensive end from O.K. State is still there.  Arians now turns from the draft, lights up a cigar and turns on the radio.  Straight chillin’.
  30. Panthers – Carolina is pissed off.  They thought they’d get one of the receivers they wanted so they could pair him up with a healthy Kelvin Benjamin.  Instead they get Sterling Shepard out of Oklahoma.  He’s not the biggest of guys, but he’s got what it takes to be a slot receiver in this league for a long time.
  31. Broncos – They still don’t have a quarterback.  In a surprise move John Elway and the Broncos lock in on Mississippi State’s quarterback Dak Prescott.  His DUI is scaring some team’s off, but Elway sees a natural leader who can make minimal mistakes with the football. Dak+Prescott+Mississippi+State+v+Texas+n4im673x0QKl

Second Round – This one will be quick

32. Browns – The Browns need a receiver but totally force the issue and overshoot the value of Pitts’ Tyler Boyd.

33. Titans – Jason Spriggs, guard out of Indiana to help continue the protection of this supposed “franchise” quarterback, Marcus Mariota.

34.Cowboys – Many don’t know about Maryland’s defensive end  Yannick Ngakoue, but they will.  Bonus: Cowboys snag another running back in the fourth round, Alabama’s Kenyan Drake.  The Boys are going to move the chains a lot this year. . . Kenyan+Drake+Goodyear+Cotton+Bowl+Alabama+Ox7bWOp6wcql

35. Chargers – They love the versatility of Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and role the dice on someone who could potentially have the play maker ability of a healthy Percy Harvin.

36.Ravens  – Derrick Henry, Alabama running back, helps this team get back to just running the ball.

37. 49ers – Joshua Garnett, guard out of Stamford.  Has potential to become a ten year starter.  That’s unless the 49ers kill this kid’s passion to play football and he retires early. . .

38. Jaguars – Follow suit and take a guard, this time it’s Washington State’s Cody Whitehair.

39. Bucs – Boise State has a guy named Kamalei Correa.  . . sure, why not?

40. Giants – Reese just can’t catch a break.  Wanted Elliot in the first round, then wanted Henry in the second.  Couldn’t get either and settles for Utah running back Devonte Booker.

Sheldon+Rankins+Temple+v+Louisville+_ZUrb1twU9ol

41. Jets  – Jets trade Mo Wilkerson to the Bears for a second round pick.  After the Jets select Louisville defensive tackle Sheldin Rankins , the Bears realize they could’ve done the same thing and saved money.  .  .Bonus: the Bears have the steal in the draft when in the fifth round they select tight end Tyler Higbee out of Western Kentucky. . . BearDown!

42. Dolphins – Keanu Neal, safety out of Florida.  Miami keeps the in-state talent.

43. Rams – Xamien Howard, corner out of Baylor will easily fill the void left by Janoris Jenkins.

44. Raiders – Raiders like the versatility of USC safety Su’a Cravens.

45. Rams  – Take Texas A&M tackle, Germain Ifedi.

46. LIons – Go after a defensive end, Shilique Calhoun out of Michigan State.  There are about three better options at this position, but y’know, it’s Detroit.

47. Saints – Go after defensive end, Sheldon Day, out of Notre Dame.  There are two better options at this position, but y’know, it’s Detro— er, New Orleans.

48. Colts – Makes sense for the Colts to draft Alabama center, Ryan Kelly here – let him grow with Luck for years to come.

49. Bills – Look at Boston College safety, Justin Simmons.

50. Falcons – Need some youth at pass rusher – they select Noah Spence out of Eastern Kentucky.

51. Jets – Jets roll the dice with quarterback Paxton Lynch out of Memphis.  Although Ryan Fitzpatrick has been signed back to the Jets (in this fantasy world) the organization knows Fitzy is not the “future,” and neither are Bryce Petty or Geno Smith.

52. Texans – Decide to finally draft somebody and to no-one’s surprise, Bill O’Brien snags the kid he coached at Penn State, quarterback Christian Hackenberg.Christian+Hackenberg+Penn+State+v+Wisconsin+btrwQIi2wN_l

53. Redskins – Redskins draft the brother of Bears corner back Kyle Fuller – Kendall Fuller out of Virginia Tech.  The Redskins hope they got the better Fuller.

54. Texans – Previously the Vikings pick, the Texans decide to select the slightly undersized yet speedy defensive end Jonathan Bullard out of Florida.

55. Bengals – UCLA D-tackle Kenny Clark gets selected by Cincy.

56. Seahawks – Utah State has two linebackers of pretty equal quality to take here, Kyler Frackell and Nick Vigil. They flip a coin, heads is Frackell.

57. Packers – The penny pinching Packers pick up the quarter left on the ground by the Seahawks and draft Nick Vigil out of Utah State.

58. Steelers – Select Boise State safety Darian Thompson.

59. Chiefs – Snatch up the instinctive Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright, who ends up being a nice rotational piece on an NFL defense.

60. Patriots – After having to sit out the first round, the Pats get back to back picks. Cornerback out of Oklahoma, Zack Sanchez is the pick here. Zack+Sanchez+Oklahoma+State+v+Oklahoma+FuaSalb_aLCl

61. Patriots – Alex McCallister out of Florida will try to pick up where Chandler Jones left off.

62. Panthers – In a surprise reach, the Panthers nab Umass wide receiver Tajae Sharpe.  Bonus: In the sixth round they snatch up Tennessee wide out Marquez North, who proves to be the best of the three receivers they got this year.

63. Broncos – Kenneth Dixon, running back out of Louisiana Tech.

That does it.  Only two rounds and I’m beat.  You got to give credit to the guys who can do this for all seven rounds.  Anyhow, hope you can tell who I liked and didn’t like and who’s fortunes I hope turn around and who I hope sinks to the bottom.

Most importantly – hope you were at least entertained.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

NFC East Team Needs

Philadelphia Eagles: OL, DE, LB, CB,QB

Artie+Burns+NFL+Combine+Day+6+0JqyTelyaL3l

Philly just seems like the most interesting place to start because, well – in all honesty, they are a complete mess.  They have holes all over the place and are shedding themselves of anything that reminds them of former head coach, Chip Kelly.   They might have to go offensive line in the first round of the draft to at least show a dedication to reconstructing something in the positive direction.  They signed former Houston Texans guard Brandon Brooks, to a five year deal which will pretty much wrap up the 26 year old guard in the prime of his career.  In the first round Ohio State’s tackle Taylor Decker should be available for them at pick number fourteen.  There are some pretty good prospects at guard that might’ve been available to them in the second round, but the Eagles’ next pick is in round three of the draft.  Since this is the case, they may want to grab what they can at the corner position here.  If they are lucky they’d be able to grab Miami’s Artie Burns – but Burns is an intriguing man with a strong story behind him and may go earlier than expected – but Minnesota’s Eric Murray might prove to be a strong pick in the third.  A physical corner with a nice feel for zone coverage.  With their second pick in the third round, they should look at  in-state favorite Carl Nassib, defensive end out of Penn State – or they may want to go with the better athlete in the third round like Charles Tapper out of Oklahoma.  Tapper forces turnovers and can get to the ball quickly – might be able to transition from defensive end to linebacker if need be . . .  No matter the guaranteed money or what coaches say, Sam Bradford has had his time to do something in this league and it’s evident he is not the “future” for any team.  Taking a quarterback late is never a promising look for a future “team leader,” but if the Eagles take a shot at Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson either late or as an undrafted free agent – it might turn out better than starting Bradford.  He’s got some mobility and a strong arm.   The Eagles really can go anywhere in the draft so it’s difficult to pin point exactly what they should do – best player available might be the way they go – this year and next year.

 

Washington Redskins: CB, RB, QB

Right off the bat, people will see “QB” in there and say “Why would they need a quarterback?  Especially after retaining the services of Kirk Cousins?!”  Well for starters, they franchised Cousins which means they are paying him a lot of money to see if he is worth the big time contract and secondly – before the season started, we were all questioning the abilities of Cousins.  With that being said – Cousins could’ve just gotten “lucky” last year or maybe just “figured out how to play above average in this league.”  Whichever it is, the Skins need some kind of insurance at that position next season. Colt McCoy is still there as a back up and that might be just as good as the names that are currently available like T.J. Yates and Tavaris Jackson.  If they want to take a gamble in the third round, NC State’s Jacoby Brisset could be a nice look and if they wait later – maybe a wild card like Oregon’s small – yet strong armed and athletic quarterback – Vernon Adams Jr might deserve some consideration.  The Skins have  a quality corner in Brashard Breeland, but they need to give him help on the opposite side of the field.  William Jackson, the corner back out of Houston ran a 4.37 at the combine, and even beforehand was considered to be a steal, even at the late first round spots. If Cousins plays as well as he did last year, the Redskins have more than enough talent to win the NFC East in back to back seasons.  .  .Do the Skins really have enough trust in running back Matt Jones to be “the guy” though?  Much like Cousins at quarterback, it wouldn’t hurt the skins to get some kind of “insurance” at that position.  There are always decent names in free agency at that position like Ronnie Hillman or Bobby Rainey.  It would be interesting to see the price tag that comes with Arian Foster though.  If healthy (that’s a big “IF”) he could be a huge impact on this roster as a whole and it might be worth it for the Skins to make that kind of play right now.

Arian+Foster+Tampa+Bay+Buccaneers+v+Houston+96l6jL9bbQ7l

 

New York Giants:RB, DE, LB, CB, WR

Ezekiel+Elliott+NFL+Combine+Day+3+m5iWCUiyR7ml

The Giants are a team reeking of the word “desperate” right now.  General manager Jerry Reese hasn’t been too impressive with his mid to late round draft picks and he’s spending money left and right trying to rectify those mistakes.  The Giants have given a little over $100 million  in guaranteed money to Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins and Damon Harrison.  All three got five year deals and all three have expectations to hit that they never had to measure up to previously.  With that said, when a team breaks bank like that in free agency it almost always is a recipe for disaster.   With the tenth pick overall the Giants may have a shot at the best running back in the draft in Ezekiel Elliot.  Elliot would be the dynamo half back they’ve been looking for for nearly a decade.  The combo backfield of Shane Vereen and Rashard Jennings was less-than-amusing to watch and Elliot would actually fit in perfectly with this offense.  Afterwards, the Giants should be looking to stock up on defensive talent wherever they can get it.  Yannick Ngakoue of Maryland is an outside linbacker/defensive end hybrid that is going mostly under the radar but he could be an instant starter and that kind of quality on a bad defense is worth the second round pick.  He’s got length, speed and size – three things that most the Giants defensive players don’t have a combination of. . . Jaylon Smith of Notre Dame is scaring teams off because of his medical issues and slow recovery – but before this was being touted as a sure fire first-round pick.  The Giants usually have luck with players of this talent falling to them and if he’s there in the third they will definitely not pass on him.   The Giants’ secondary needs help in a big way.  Landon Collins played well as the physical safety they needed him to be and them paying Janoris Jenkins the big bucks, proves that they need help in a big way.  Maurice Canady out of Virginia is a pretty physical corner who might be a nice compliment on the outside – while a later round pick (fifth-round maybe) would be Florida’s Brian Poole, who might be able to rotate as a fill in spot-number-two corner while being a mainstay in the nickel spot.  Victor Cruz came back at a discount to be the number two wide-out but the truth is, he’s garbage now and won’t go over the middle.  A veteran free agent signing like Marques Colston might be a nice way to try to mentor the young hot head wide-out Odell Beckham Jr.  Beckham seemingly answers to nobody and although his talents conceal his mental lapses – it’s becoming a tired act that should finally be controlled by this team.

 

Dallas Cowboys: LB, DE, QB, RB

Dez+Bryant+New+York+Jets+v+Dallas+Cowboys+P2m3Hi3B0Uil

The Cowboys have the fourth pick overall in this year’s draft.  Not bad for a team many projected to be one of the NFL’s best in 2015 and failed miserably at achieving that.  The Cowboys are in a tough spot though.  When quarterback Tony Romo plays – he looks like an MVP candidate and everyone loves the Cowboys, BUT when Romo goes out with an injury, they play horribly and become the butt of everyone’s jokes.  The Cowboys won’t be spending a first round pick on a quarterback but maybe the second round wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) be that far fetched.  Ohio State’s Cardalle Jones might fit in well here.  Behind a strong offensive line and a capable receiving group, the athletic Jones, won’t have to “do too much” but learn how to be coach-able through it all.  Dak Prescott out of Mississippi State may be the more polished version of Cardalle Jones and in a time of “Greg Hardy and Dez Bryant” in the Cowboys’ locker room, a natural leader with a level head, might help out as a building block for Dallas’ future.  Back to the fourth overall pick though. . . The Cowboys should have their choice between some great linebacker prospects: UCLA Myles Jack, Georgia’s Leonard Floyd and Alabama’s Reggie Ragland.  Ragland might be a reach at number four as he is mainly projected to go in the “teens” of the first round and the choice of Floyd or Jack depends on how well Dallas can trust Jack coming off of a knee injury that ended his 2015 campaign.  Floyd on the other hand is a 6’6″ 244 pound man-child who played extremely well this year and enters the draft as one who can start right away and impact the game right away.  The Cowboys need an answer behind Romo so they can utilize their best strength which is running behind the offensive line.  While folks were enamored with Alabama’s Derrick Henry running the ball, it may be Kenyan Drake who turns out to be a  steal for any team in the third or fourth round.  He has decent hands and is a strong runner who is more elusive than advertised.   Drake would easily beat out the backfield on the Cowboys as is, and would be a rookie of the year candidate behind this offensive line.

Kenyan+Drake+CFP+National+Championship+Alabama+M-2i2x0zy4ol

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

NFC South Team Needs

New Orleans Saints: DE, LB, TE, WR

Kevin+Dodd+CFP+National+Championship+Alabama+dmJQ2_p-CKwl

It seems that the Saints are going to continue to milk this head coach/quarterback combo of Sean Payton and Drew Brees for at least another year but it won’t matter, because this duo is a far cry from what it once was.  While the offense does need help, it’s the 27th ranked defense that will get most of the attention.  The secondary was flamed last year, but mostly because the pass rush was pitiful.  With the number 12 draft pick in the first round this year, the Saints will probably have to choose between the likes of Alabama’s A’Shawn Robinson and Clemson’s Kevin Dodd.  Robinson is the bigger of the two and has some range being able to play defensive tackle and defensive end.  Having that kind of versatility might be key for them, and if not, they can get Dodd, who is a “straight up” edge rusher.  Due to his character issues, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss, may be available to them in the second round.  Sure, he’s a head case, but he’s also an amazing athlete, and if he can keep his head on straight, Nkemdiche can be an All-Pro in the NFL.   Keeping this focus in the first two rounds is a step in the right direction for the Saints defense.  New Orleans lost tight end Ben Watson in free agency to the Ravens, but they signed a younger tighter end in Coby Fleener.  Fleener, surprisingly didn’t max out his potential playing with his college quarterback Andrew Luck in Indianapolis and maybe a fresh start in a tight end friendly system is what he needs.  The Saints have two good, young receivers in Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks, but neither of them are “big” receivers.  The Saints can look to get some bigger, veteran wide-outs at a cheap price like Nate Washinton or a Hakeem Nicks.  The Saints needs a viable red-zone target at that position – even a late round gamble on Tennessee’s Marquez North (6’2″, 223) might be worth the risk.

NFL+Combine+Day+5+f2iCwh_p7RAl

Atlanta Falcons: LB, DE, S, TE

Tyler+Higbee+Western+Kentucky+v+Marshall+6MHt4pd4bN9l

The Atlanta Falcons were pretty much in the middle of the pack on defense and slightly below average offensively.  Put that together and you get a collective “shrug” from NFL fans who barely noticed the Falcons all year.  Head coach Dan Quinn is a defensive minded coach who knows he has mainstays at the quarterback, wide receiver and running back spots, which may be enough for him to go big on defense in free agency and in the draft.  Many were surprised to see former Seahawk  Bruce Irvin not sign with Quinn and the Falcons but since he didn’t, this means Alabama linebacker, Reggie Ragland – could be the seventeenth pick of the draft.  Emmanuel Ogbah, defensive end of Oklahoma State, could slide into Atlanta’s favor as well, but Ogbah might need time to develop where Ragland is more good to go, now.   If the Falcons get lucky they can use their second round pick on Ohio State safety Vonn Bell, who plays well against the run and good-enough in the secondary.  Free agent safties James Ihedigbo and Bacarri Rambo just sound like less than stellar signings were used to the Falcons making, but let’s just hope this is a new regime/new method under Dan Quinn. . . The Falcons have had a void in that tight end position since the retirement of Tony Gonzalez and with what’s left in free agency and late round picks – it looks like it might be another year to struggle at that spot.  Western Kentucky tight end Tyler Higbee might be a sneaky fifth round selection for Altanta – Higbee had 563 yards and 8 touchdowns for the Hilltoppers last season and offers some nice size at 6’6″, 250 pounds.
Carolina Panthers:  WR, RB,

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If Cam Newton is truly Super-Man, than the Super Bowl proved that Super-Man needs a Justice League.  Sure the Panthers defense was tremendous this season, but the offense went as far as Cam Newton could carry them.  Enough is enough already – give the league’s MVP some help out there!   The Panthers had the built in excuse at the start of last season that their number one wide out – sophomore receiver Kelvin Benjamin – was out due to injury.  Be cautious of Benjamin though.  It seemed that by the second half of his rookie season, defenses in the league started making life difficult for him.  The problem is, the Panthers have the next to last pick in the first round and might miss out on the stud receivers in this draft.  If the football gods favor the Panthers, TCU’s Josh Doctson will be there, but with the Vikings, Steelers and Packers all drafting before the Panthers, it’s highly doubtful.  In truth, they may find some value in signing veteran wide outs like Marques Colston or Anquan Boldin – even if just on one year deals.  A nice sleeper pick for the Panthers could be the wide receiver out of UMass, Tajae Sharpe.  Sharpe provides nice size at 6’2″, 194 – but more importantly has impressed scouts with his route running and his good hands (aren’t we all tired of Tedd Ginn getting wide open and dropping perfectly placed passes from Cam Newton?).   Jonathan Stewart had a nice season, but to expect that kind of production from him again is almost insane.  There are more than enough free agent veteran backs that can fit into the mix – Tim Hightower, Ronnie Hillman and LeGarrette Blount to name a few.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB, DE, WR, OT

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Dirk Koetter (who?) has taken the place of former head coach Lovie Smith to lead a team that, for the most part doesn’t look terrible on paper but on the field – different story.   With the ninth pick in the first round of the draft, the Bucs have a good shot at fulfilling any of their team needs immediately.  Florida’s cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is the  popular “can’t miss” prospect and it would help shore up a secondary that desperately needs it.  Yes, it’s understood that Alterraun Verner and Brent Grimes are there. . . it’s understood so much in fact that drafting Hargreaves at this spot is a must if he is available.  They might want to address this position again later in the draft by taking Oklahoma’s Zack Sanchez or Mississippi State’s Will Redmond.  Aside from the corner spot, the defensive end needs an upgrade as well.  Acquiring Robert Ayers in free agency was a nice move and it also might have included a little bit of brain washing on the part of the Bucs. . . Corey Wooten has been on Chicago and Detroit and has been pretty average at best, but he might serve well as a rotational piece if just for his size and athletic combination.  Quarterback Jameis Winston is going to need more around him and they should just toss a veteran receiver and a few late round picks for him to work with.  Former Green Bay Packer James Jones might be worth a look.  After being cut by the Giants last season, he was instantly signed by the Packers and had a surprisingly productive season.   Stamford wide receiver Devon Cajuste, can be a nice fifth or sixth round pick for Tampa.  He adds more size to this receiving core at 6’3″, 233 and is a smart route running wide out.  Even a late round pick in Baylor’s Jay Lee might be a nice investment.  Remember this is a receiving core that will have wide out Mike Evans and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins to grow with, it could work out nice for the Bucs.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio