Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

What was Bill O’Brien thinking?

If NFL teams were run by complex algorithms and AI then all of the trade/free agent decisions would be defensible or at least consistent. It’s a human game run by smart, hard-working but ultimately bound-by-feeling human beings. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien traded two first round picks, a second round pick, special teamer Johnson Bademosi, and offensive tackle Julie’n Davenport for left tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills, a 4th and a 6th round pick (according to Kevin Patra at NFL.com).

It’s clear O’Brien massively overpaid for an average left tackle and an average wide receiver. Thinking about this trade from Bill O’Brien’s perspective, he just saw Andrew Luck, one of the league’s elite QBs retire in his prime. While the Colts certainly invested relatively high draft capital on offensive linemen for Andrew Luck, he was still repeatedly sacked and hit which ended in his early retirement this past month. Young QB DeShaun Watson has already missed substantial time in his career. If O’Brien thinks Tunsil represents the best fix for Houston to improve their offensive line, he would rather give up multiple high draft picks than lose his star QB to injury or retirement. That doesn’t mean Bill O’Brien made the right move, he could have just drafted offensive linemen or traded those picks for decent offensive linemen instead of giving them all up for one player. The Texans, like the Vikings, repeatedly draft high-pick offensive linemen who continue to not produce at an NFL level. The “sure-thing” status of having seen Laremy perform at a starting level was obviously enticing for O’Brien.

It is my opinion that Miami won this trade by a mile.

Jalen Hurts, Jacob Eason, others petition for first round draft status in week one

Hurts put on a ridiculous stat line against Houston. 87% completion, three passing touchdowns, 176 yards rushing and three touchdowns rushing (0 Fumbles/INTs). Certainly Houston does not have the same caliber defense as Washington or Michigan they are still a D1 school, most other starting (top 25) QBs put up less gaudy numbers against DII programs this week. If nothing else, Hurts is on the right track and quickly shedding his ‘game-manager’ reputation from his time at Alabama. It will be exciting to see Oklahoma to player other ranked teams to see what Lincoln Riley and Jalen can do on a consistent basis.

UW QB Jacob Eason waited out Jake Browning’s time at Washington and blew up the scoreboard against Eastern Washington. Browning played more a ball-control scheme in 2018 and ’17 and only passed more than 36 times twice in ’18. Eason completed 75% of his passes on 36 attempts for four touchdowns. Like Hurts, his numbers won’t mean anything unless he can continue to play at a high level against better caliber teams.  Eason had played very little collegiate ball before earning the start at Washington and looks very promising so far.

The guys everyone forgot about/overlooked

  • Houston QB D’Eriq King has been playing well and was on the losing end of the Jalen Hurts how but played reasonably well as a dual threat passer against Okla.
  • 5’11” Mason Fine is still taking snaps for the PRESTIGIOUS U. of North Texas and had another great outing, this time against Abilene Christian. While small school prospects like Fine are unlikely to be drafted before round seven, the emergence of Pat Mahomes has shown that College system QBs (Mahomes played at Texas Tech which throws OFTEN) can be successful at the next level. Fine has consistently produced strong numbers
  • Mizzou QB Kelly Bryant (former Clemson QB) had a strong showing in a loss to Wyoming throwing for 400+ yards, 2 TD, 1 INT for a 64% completion.
  • Utah State’s Jordan Love got outdueled by Wake Forest passer Jamie Newman and a surprisingly competitive Wake Forest team.

Week one predictions

Posted: August 29, 2019 in Football, New entries, NFL

Chicago over Green Bay – NFL’s number one defense should win a home game against Green Bay with a new head coach. Green Bay has a nucleus in place and they definitely have the QB, but Chicago’s more complete right now. Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery all attract coverage. 

Minnesota over Atlanta – Minnesota is a very complete team with one of the league’s most skilled defensive units. Atlanta won’t be able to stop Minnesota from scoring, but Minnesota can stop Atlanta.

Buffalo over NYJ – Josh Allen is not the most polished passer but performs as a surprisingly effective dual threat. The Bills are heavily remade with almost a brand new offensive line and a group of new skill position players (John Brown, Cole Beasley, Frank Gore, Devin Singletary). The Bills defense is still respectable. Adam Gase hasn’t shown the world he can field a competitive football team.  

Philadelphia over Washington – The Redskins won’t be competitive 

LAC over Indianapolis – https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/08/28/capt-andrew-luck-twitter-colts-retirement

Dallas over NYG – The Giants are still rebuilding and Dallas is tough to beat at home. They don’t need Elliot to win this game.

Detroit over Arizona – The Kyler Murray Experience(TM) is still in Beta testing. Detroit isn’t awful at any one position. That defense should have no issues against this struggling offensive line and rookie QB.

New Orleans over Houston – Houston may not have Jadeveon Clowney for this contest. The Texans are moving in the right direction trying to build out their offensive line, but the Saints are already where they need to be in most positions on their depth chart. 

Kansas City over Jax – I really wanted to pick Jacksonville as the trap pick here. They have the defense to be able to win this game. I don’t think Foles will have the weapons in Jacksonville that he had in Philadelphia to score on Kansas City at will. Jacksonville has an elite (statistically) defense and Kansas City has an elite offense, but Kansas City has a better defense than Jacksonville has offense. The Chiefs pass rush and secondary performance are built to keep Pat Mahomes ahead in games. And there’s still a real possibility Leonard Fournette’s going to Eddie Lacy his career after his 2018 disaster, which would leave the Jaguars with no effective running game.

Cleveland over Tennessee – The Browns have the more balanced roster, being able to both pass and run the ball with Baker and Nick Chubb. The defense can’t perform any worse than top 15 with Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson brought in on the defensive line and Steve Wilks running the show. I like Vrabel as a play caller maybe more than Kitchens but I don’t see this game coming down to a crucial, 2 minute drive.

TRAP Miami over Baltimore – Admittedly, Baltimore is the much more talented team here. Miami has found a way to win at home. They were 7-1 at home last year. Including wins over the playoff-qualifying Bears and Patriots. Ryan Fitzpatrick is starting for Miami who will challenge that Baltimore secondary. I’m not sold on Lamar yet winning in a tough environment against an underrated defense with Xavien Howard, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Eric Rowe forming a strong young secondary. I also expect preseason standout Preston Williams to show up here against Baltimore.

LAR over Carolina – This is a potential trap game if Cam is healthy and playing at 100%. The Rams should be the favorite in 95% of their games until they prove otherwise.

Seattle over Cincinnati – Seattle may be making a play to sign JaDeveon Clowney. 

San Francisco over Tampa Bay – I’m a 49ers fan, so take this with a grain of salt. Jameis has never been consistent and he has fewer weapons that last season. For the record, Vegas has Tampa winning at home here. Tampa has the worst running game in football (still) and that defense, while they’ve added some young, needed talent with White, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy-Bunting they still look like they lack top end coverage talent. Shanahan will want multiple receiving weapons on the field (Kittle, Goodwin, Jalen Hurd, Deebo Samuel) and I doubt Tampa’s defense will be able to cover that group consistently.

New England over Pittsburgh – Bill Belichick should be able to win the revenge game against Pittsburgh in Foxboro. The Steelers should actually be OKAY without Mr. Big Chest and Le’Veon Bell as JuJu, James Washington, and James Conner have all stepped up in a big way. The Steelers secondary should continue to be a liability the Patriots will try to expose. The Patriots recently got Josh Gordon back from suspension and should be able to gameplan for the likely missing Patrick Chung who got busted with cocaine.

Denver over Oakland – Denver’s defense looks suffocating right now. Bradley Chubb is playing like a top five selection (in preseason) and the secondary is still performing well.

PART 1:

  • For regular season performance, of the top ten rushing defense teams in 2018, only two made the playoffs (Chiefs, Rams). The BOTTOM ten rushing defenses produced eight teams that went to the playoffs (Bears, Saints, Texans, Ravens, Cowboys, Eagles, Colts, Chargers).  I’m not suggesting Run Defense makes your team bad, but that premium resources such as early draft picks or high cap space dollars should be spent on pass defense or a passing game, as those two categories much more strongly correlate to qualifying for the playoffs than run defense. This is why the PFF crowd criticized the Giants and Raiders for drafting run defense talent like Dexter Lawrence and Jonathan Abram when players like CB Greedy Williams or DE Jaylon Ferguson would have pushed their respective teams closer to the playoffs than the run-stop specialists who were drafted.
  • A statistic that slaps traditional NFL analytics in the face; The New York Giants had the number one scoring offense in the NFC East (23.06 points per game) and were their last place team (5-11).
  • The Miami Dolphins are my dark horse pick for wild card surprise of 2019. Everyone seems to be under the impression Brian Flores is tanking 2019 but they upgraded at QB from Ryan Tannehill who earned a number thirty-eight overall grade out of eligible QBs and went to Ryan Fitzpatrick with a number nine overall PFF grade (that’s including all of his pick-sixes).  The Dolphins are also quietly building one of the league’s better pass defenses with Xavien Howard recently signing a big contract, newcomer Christian Wilkins as a disruptive interior defender, and starting DB Eric Rowe joining Miami after winning a championship in New England. The ‘Phins finished 7-9 last season. Screenshot this and save it for after 2019 when the Dolphins finish 3-13 so you can roast me on social media.

 

PART 2:

Nonsense QB stat comparisons:

(Boston College) Matt Ryan College Stats  – 59.9%, 6.9 YPA, 9,313 Passing yards, 56 TD 37 INT, 1.5 TD/INT Ratio. 11 Rushing TDs.

(Duke) Daniel Jones College Stats – 59.9%, 6.4 YPA, 8,201 Passing yards, 52 TD 29 INT, 1.79 TD/INT Ratio. 17 Rushing TDs.

 

(OU) Baker Mayfield College Stats  – 68.5%, 9.8 YPA, 14,607 Passing yards, 131 TD 30 INT, 4.36 TD/INT ratio. 21 Rushing TDs. (Started approx. 3 1/2 seasons)

(OU) Kyler Murray College Stats  – 67.4%, 10.4 YPA, 5,406 Passing yards, 50 TD 14 INT, 3.57 TD/INT ratio. 13 Rushing TDs. (Started approx. 1 1/2 seasons)

 

(Michigan State) Kirk Cousins College Stats  – 64.1%, 8.1 YPA, 9,131 Passing yards, 66 TD 30 INT, 2.2 TD/INT ratio, 1 Rushing TD.

(Ohio State) Dwayne Haskins College Stats – 70.0%, 9.1 YPA, 5396 Passing yards, 54 TD 9 INT, 6.0 TD/INT ratio, 4 Rushing TD.

 

PART 3:

DRAFT AUSTIN EKELER

THE 49ERS DIDN’T UPGRADE THEIR CRIPPLED-ASS SECONDARY AND WILL BE BAD AGAIN THIS YEAR. NICK BOSA CAN’T COVER ROBERT WOODS. WE’LL HAVE ROBERT SALEH AS INTERIM COACH IN 2020. JAQUASKI TARTT IN A WHEELCHAIR AIN’T COVERING ANYBODY.

The Bears can’t sustain their level of success and Mitchell Trubisky is just Taysom Hill but younger. I’m expecting 9-7.

Vic Fangio on Depression Drew Lock: “I was hoping for more, but I’m not surprised.”

The Eagles will have the highest scoring offense in the NFL (barring a Carson Wentz injury) . Their receiving depth is silly. 

THE LIONS, TEXANS, AND TITANS ARE ALL STARTING TO RESEMBLE THE SAME TEAM FOR SOME UNKNOWABLE REASON. TRULY A QUANDARY.

Daniel Jones may actually, really have a better career than Haskins as the Giants have a QB-friendly system and are working with him to slowly improve. The Redskins seem to randomly attack their players with hammers to the knee every 10 weeks or so.

This isn’t going to be a list of fantasy football players that have already broken out (Eric Ebron, James Conner) or rookies that every NFL analyst is talking about (David Montgomery, Josh Jacobs) as these are not sleeper picks. They are great fantasy players, but not sleepers. Lettuce begin:

Josh Oliver, Jaguars rookie Tight end. – Foles will need reliable pass-catchers in Jacksonville where Marqise Lee and Dede Westbrook haven’t come up strong in the past as reliable pass-catchers. Oliver was a high volume receiver (among tight ends) at San Jose State and is set up nicely to become a starting caliber, high volume pass-catcher for Jacksonville and the Nick Foles show.

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Wide Receiver. – With the departure of Desean Jackson and Adam Humphries Godwin will have substantial opportunities to grow his involvement in the Tampa offense. UDFA Anthony Johnson will be worth a look at in non-ppr leagues due to his “explosiveness” at the University of Buffalo and how much Tampa is likely to run three or four man receiver sets with one of the league’s most inefficient rushing attacks.

Terry McLaurin, Washington Wide Receiver. – McLaurin is instantly the best wide receiver on the Redskins roster. Whether Case Keenum or Dwayne Haskins is throwing McLaurin the ball he demonstrated elite speed and ‘get-open’ skill as a deep threat at Ohio State. McLaurin shared time with Johnnie Dixon and Parris Campbell who were both very productive so his college numbers weren’t as gaudy as say Davante Adams at Fresno State who was the lone big dog.

Mark Andrews, Ravens Tight end. – Andrews outperformed first round pick Hayden Hurst last season in his rookie season with QB Lamar Jackson. With a full offseason working together, Andrews will become a more trusted weapon in the Ravens offense.

Daniel Jones, Giants QB. – Hear me out. Jones ran for 17 TDs in his three seasons at Duke. Dual threat passers are GOLD in fantasy. Unless Jones totally reeks of bad during the preseason there will be enormous fan pressure for the Giants to start Jones over Eli as early as week one. Jones doesn’t have to Rex Grossman the ball every play 60 yards downfield to Odell Beckham. Shurmur’s offense is asking the future starter to throw a short pass to Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, or Golden Tate, who are all excellent at catching passes of that manner. Jones will have a much stronger supporting cast in New York with a reasonably talented offensive line and skill position players that don’t drop tons of passes.

Arizona Cardinals Defense  – New DC Vance Joseph earned a head coaching gig because of his work with the 2016 Miami Dolphins defense that thrived despite substantial injury issues. The Cardinals legitimately have a group of successful athletes in the secondary and in the defensive line. Newcomers Byron Murphy, Zach Allen, Deionte Thompson all thrived on elite defenses in college and present value acquisitions for the worst team in football. Kingsbury’s Air raid offense will invite opposing offenses to throw the ball quite a bit and the addition of Terrell Suggs to a defense that already had Chandler Jones and Brooks Reed sets up the Cardinals secondary to capitalize on rushed throws. It’s worth nothing that Arizona’s secondary is very strong before adding Deionte Thompson and Byron Murphy.

Spencer Ware, Colts RB – Colts back Marlon Mack is a great runner and a not so great receiver. Nyheim Hines is a great pass catcher and not an elite runner from the backfield. Spencer Ware has thrived as both a runner and a receiver in his offenses he’s been a part of in the past. Whoever gets the most carries for the Colts should have plenty of running room as the Colts now have actual receiving weapons (Parris Campbell, Eric Ebron, Devin Funchess) who will stretch the field. Ware’s ability to catch well and run well should give him the edge up in that backfield.

Matt Gay, Tampa Bay Kicker – If you miss the boat on a kicker in the draft, former Utes specialist Matt Gay connected on over 85% of his kicks and repeatedly made kicks past 50 yards. This is an asset Tampa Bay’s not had in some time. Obviously you’ll want to make sure Gay makes the final roster and kicks well in preseason. Roberto Aguayo had great college stats too but failed to transition at the next level.

Darwin Thompson, Chiefs RB – Thompson was one of the top backs in college for yards after contract. He stands at 5’8″ but repeatedly pushed past contact better than almost anyone else draft eligible for 2019. The Chiefs made it work last season after parting ways with Kareem Hunt, Thompson has every opportunity to thrive in KC.

NOT A SLEEPER

Marquise Brown, Ravens WR – Brown is widely regarded as the top receiver in the 2019 draft class. He will wow Lamar Jackson with his ability to get open and his ability to catch the football, and his ability to not drop the football after catching it (Michael Crabtree). Brown moves crazy fast during speed drills and in real world game-play. Jackson has the arm strength and has a reasonably deep ball to be able to find Brown when he inevitably gets open against the rest of the AFC North’s old man defensive backs.

The Redskins and Bills backfield is an interesting situation to watch. Adrian Peterson performed well in 2018 and Derrius Guice and Bryce Love will both be motivated to show they are true lead backs after struggling from injury during the 2018 season. In Buffalo, LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore are both performing well and motivated to show they’re not too old to compete. Rookie Devin Singletary was essentially a one man show at Florida Atlantic and should eventually win the starting role in Buffalo, though getting those meaningful snaps may be difficult.

  • With Tyreek Hill‘s future on the team uncertain, the Chiefs are VERY LIKELY to spend one or both of their second round selections on wide receivers, if they don’t move up to draft a wide receiver in the second round. Sammy Watkins will line up as the team’s number one wide receiver if Hill doesn’t play for the team in 2019.
  • The Cardinals may trade Josh Rosen to Miami for a second round pick if Yahoo Sports is to be believed, though no deal has been completed. This runs counter to the narrative the Dolphins are “Tanking for Tua” though after Steve Keim drafted first round passers in back to back drafts, Miami could convince their fanbase they can draft a passer in 2020 if Rosen doesn’t win the starting job in a convincing fashion.
  • The Giants Daniel Jones draft selection seems to be a colossal error. Daniel Jones’ best season is measurably about half as good as Dwayne Haskins starting season. The reporter who interviewed Dwayne Haskins after he was selected by Washington mentioned some in the room for Dan Snyder’s Redskins were vocalizing a desire to draft Daniel Jones over Dwayne Haskins. Suggesting this wasn’t a Dave Gettleman specific situation but Jones has some highly desirable traits as a QB prospect. PFF senior analyst noted Jones “does the little things at an NFL level already.”  He goes on to predict Jones will be a top ten selection because Jones “looks like a seasoned veteran” with some of the on-field behaviors (Renner mentions ‘avoiding sacks’ and ‘throwing with anticipation’ as examples of the little things) he’s shown at Duke. Maybe these subtle cues spoke to talent evaluators at an emotional level that numbers cannot. While Dwayne Haskins may not reach the heights he did with Ohio State, an average Dwayne Haskins projects to be a substantially better passer than the best version of Daniel Jones (going off of college production).
  • Sbnation.com’s Dan Kadar correctly points out that Clelin Ferrell played 4-3 defensive end at Clemson, whereas expected draftee Josh Allen lined up as a linebacker which are similar but different positions. Ferrell dominated at Clemson and having a preference for him over Allen because of scheme fit isn’t as crazy as I initially thought. The Raiders other two selections showed no interest in consensus-value drafting as they took a running back in the first round and a safety when prospects like Montez Sweat and Greedy Williams who were top ten value picks on many people’s draft boards were still available.
  • A number of players could potentially be traded after the first round has brought in high level competition for their spot. 49ers DL Solomon Thomas or Jets DL Leonard  Williams may be on the move throughout this draft as teams try to reshape their rosters for 2019.

1 Arizona – Kyler Murray, QB Oklahoma. Would you rather have Jay Cutler and Joey Bosa or Russell Wilson?

2 San Francisco – Nick Bosa, DE Ohio State. I like Quinnen better here, but Bosa will feel safer for John Lynch.

3 New York Jets – Josh Allen, OLB Kentucky. Allen fits the mold of Anthony Barr who the Jets almost signed from Minnesota.

4 Oakland – Quinnen Williams, DT Alabama. Best player available. The Raiders want Devin White. They could say to themselves they got “that guy” in Vontaze Burfict and get more value out of a pass-rusher with Williams if that need has been filled with Burfict.

5 Tampa Bay – Devin White, ILB LSU. White’s perceived value has skyrocketed.  While Tampa Bay needs secondary help, the Kwon Alexander departure may have signified a move to add an inside linebacker as his replacement. White’s generally considered to have ‘top ten value’ where the corners and safeties like Greedy Williams, DeAndre Baker or Nasir Adderley are more rank 15-25 draft value prospects.

6 New York Giants – Ed Oliver, DT Houston. Oliver may not be the next Aaron Donald, he still routinely beats his blocker and will more than replace Olivier Vernon. Dwayne Haskins should be the pick here, but the Giants look like they want to hold out until the 2020 class.

7 Jacksonville – Rashan Gary, DL Michigan. Tom Coughlin won two championships in New York with a front four that could pressure the QB without sending additional blitzers. Jawaan Taylor is the heavy favorite here for the Jaguars in most other mock drafts. Taylor is a run-blocking Right Tackle who’s ceiling, at its very highest doesn’t justify a top-ten selection in any universe. T.J. Hockenson is also very popular here. I struggle to see Jacksonville drafting a Tight End this early. Nick Foles isn’t the identity of the Jaguars, the Defense is. Gary’s a boom-or-bust prospect who will be attractive for Coughlin to move around the D-Line. I would want Jonah Williams here, but I think Tom Coughlin will want Gary at number Seven.

8 Detroit – T.J. Hockenson, TE Iowa. Hockenson can competently block and has demonstrated value as an athletic and reliable pass-catcher. Hockenson can have a Gronk-like impact on the field for Detroit as a dual threat tight end.

9 Buffalo – Christian Wilkins, DL Clemson. Wilkins can take over for Star Lotulelei after the 2020 season, Lotulelei is the highest paid player on the Bills roster with an out after the 2020 season. Lotulelei plays well enough to be a starter but not enough to justify his contract. The Bills starting depth chart has been heavily redone through free agency with four new projected starters on the offensive line, new offensive weapons in John Brown, Tyler Kroft and Frank Gore. Bringing in Wilkins will free up cap space in the future for Buffalo and start alongside Lotulelei in the mean time.

10 Denver – Drew Lock, Missouri QB. John Elway seems to like Lock more than any other QB prospect and he’s still running the show. The Broncos are actually a pretty complete roster with holes at maybe tight end and safety.

11 Bengals – Devin Bush, Michigan ILB. The Bengals are stable on offense but have an aging defense. Dwayne Haskins is being mocked here, but Andy Dalton is still performing better than the majority of first round QBs drafted year after year. Bush can contribute immediately.

12 Green Bay – Montez Sweat,  Miss. State OLB. Sweat has a sky-high ceiling with improving college production throughout his time in school. If Sweat actually falls this far the Packers they can get a value pick.

13 Miami – Jonah Williams, Alabama OL. Williams is a top ten athlete in this draft class. If Miami really wants to embrace the tank, building on the offensive will set up their future QB for success.

14 Atlanta – Clelin Ferrell, Clemson DL. Beasley struggled last season and Atlanta’s defense overall struggled with injuries in the secondary. Ferrell has a tops resume after consistently pressuring the QB. Ferrell has the size to be able to move inside if McKinley moves outside.

15 Washington – Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State QB. If Haskins is available here Washington has to strongly consider drafting Alex Smith’s replacement. Bruce Allen has been drafting defensive talent early as of late, Haskins had a phenomenal season with Ohio State and may be the closest the Redskins get to a heir apparent passer for some time depending on how the 2019 season plays out.

16 Carolina – Jawaan Taylor, UF OT. Taylor fits the Panthers identity as a successful run blocker. He is an adequate pass-blocker as well.

17 New York Giants – Daniel Jones, Duke QB. I don’t like Daniel Jones being drafted in the first round, but supposedly the Giants are high on Jones. Talent evaluators have discussed his height and college coach as reasons why Jones can compete at the next level.

18 Minnesota – Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame DT. The Vikings keep whiffing on early round offensive linemen. Dexter Lawrence has the build of a talent on a 3-man down scheme. Tillery graded well in Pro Football Focus. I think he’ll fit right in on a elite Vikings Defense.

19 Tennessee – Noah Fant, Iowa TE. Delanie Walker is 8,000 years old. Fant can mismatch against linebackers that Mariota can use.

20 Pittsburgh – Greedy Williams, LSU CB. The Steelers secondary needs help. Greedy is a tops coverage man.

21 Seattle – Byron Murphy, Washington CB. Seattle could use an offensive lineman like Cody Ford. Pete Carroll likes defensive backs.

22 Baltimore – A.J. Brown, Ole Miss WR. The Ravens don’t pass a ton, but Brown does an excellent job at getting open and making yards after the catch. The Ravens have NO receivers.

23 Houston – Cody Ford, Oklahoma OL. The Texans still have a bad offensive line. Deshaun Watson needs an offensive line.

24 Oakland – Deandre Baker, Georgia CB. Baker is the most reliable corner prospect in this class. Gruden loves building out the defense.

25 Philadelphia – Andre Dillard, Washington State OT. Jason Peters is 37 years old and not competing at the same level as he once was. Dillard is an elite pass blocking prospect.

26 Indianapolis – Marquise Brown, OU WR. Brown is arguably the best wide receiver in the class. Andrew Luck deserves a real wide receiver.

27 Oakland – Brian Burns, Edge FSU. Gruden is an analytics guy and I don’t buy that he’ll draft a first round running back. Burns helps the Raiders anemic pass defense.

28 Chargers – Dalton Risner, Kansas State OL. The Chargers need help at inside linebacker and offensive line. Risner can play at right tackle in 2019.

29 Seattle (LOL) – Jeffery Simmons, Miss. State DL. Simmons won’t play in 2019, but he has the potential to be a top five player when he gets healthy. Seattle didn’t necessarily plan on having this pick, so they could take this opportunity to draft for talent over need.

30 Green Bay – Parris Campbell, Ohio State WR. Campbell moved well at the combine and caught 90 passes at Ohio State. Campbell fits the mold for speedy, productive wide receivers the Packers have liked to draft.

31 Rams – Dexter Lawrence, DT Clemson. The Rams could draft a tackle to eventually replace Andrew Whitworth. Lawrence can help fill the void left by Ndamukong Suh.

32 New England – Will Grier, WVU QB. Ageless Tom Brady can’t play forever. Grier had a poor Senior Bowl performance but was consistently competitive throughout his college career. Bill Connelly gave Grier good marks in his “success rate” metric for ranking a QB in terms for advancing on 3rd downs and making plays when they count.

U. of Minnesota Safety, Jacob Huff – Huff excelled as both a run-stop safety and in pass coverage, grading out in the top ten of both categories according to ProFootballFocus.com. His playing weight is 210 at the University of Minnesota, so Huff wouldn’t have to bulk up for the NFL. Huff batted down 7 passes, intercepted 2 passes, and forced 2 fumbles during his senior season. Overall Huff performed well throughout the season. During his 13 game senior season, Jacob Huff as the leader of the Minnesota Golden Gophers defense allowed a QBR (score out of max 100) of 54.64 between the 13 starting QBs he faced. That score ranks between Mason Fine of North Texas (#73/128) and Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati (#74/128). Huff faced some serious high level QB talent in first rounder Dwayne Haskins (OSU), Nate Stanley (Iowa), Adrian Martinez (Nebraska), and David Blough (Purdue) throughout the season. I contend Huff performed at a high level on a defense without tons of high level talent around him unlike, say,  safety Taylor Rapp at Washington who functioned as part of an elite defense or Deionte Thompson who played for the fearsome Crimson Tide Defense.

Penn State QB, Trace McSorley – McSorley had a nightmare senior season, completing 53% of his passes and a career low 7.0 (counting full time starter seasons) yards per attempt. In fairness to McSorley, Penn State lost starters Mike Gesicki (Tight End), Daesean Hamilton (wide receiver), and pass-catching fiend Saquon Barkley to the NFL. McSorley also had the #1 drop rate (10%) of receivers in division one college football. If we give McSorley an average drop rate (4%) instead, his completion percentage looks like 59%, which while still a far cry from the 66% he posted in his junior season, is much more forgivable than 53%. McSorley is extremely productive as a runner with over 700 yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns (career highs). Against THE Ohio State University, McSorley only completed half of his passes (16/32), for two touchdowns (0 INT), but roasted the Buckeyes defense for 175 yards on the ground with 25 carries. While McSorley likely will need an offense that’s maybe more QB-friendly (Chargers, Giants) but has the deep ball (PFF ranking of 10/53 eligible QBs in average depth of target, how deep a receiver is on the field when pass is thrown) and athleticism to be worth the gamble of a 4-6 round selection.

Utah State RB, Darwin Thompson – The 5’8″ 200-lber averaged 6.9 yards a carry at Utah State. Thompson’s low center of gravity can actually be an asset if we go back and look at the successful careers of Warrick Dunn and Maurice Jones-Drew. Thompson created substantial yards after the carry. Thompson forced 48 missed tackles on 151 handoffs, (PFF.com’s NFL draft guide, subscription required). So on just under one third of Thompson’s carries, he forced a missed tackle. Running backs are undervalued by the nature of playing a in pass-friendly league, and Darwin Thompson who didn’t even get a  combine invite will likely go overlooked in favor of large edge rushers and slot receivers. Thompson didn’t play at a larger program but has shown about as much as a running back can show in order to be a strong NFL prospect.

Northern Illinois EDGE, Sutton Smith – The undersized small school prospect excelled at both stopping the run and pressuring opposing quarterbacks (Top 25% ranking in run-stop percentage and pressures generated according to PFF.com NFL draft report). Smith showed up at the combine weighing in at 233 and ran an unconvincing 4.69 40 for a smaller pass-rusher. Smith may have to get his start on an NFL squad as a special teams contributor. Where Sutton Smith does show up is actual, real football. He sacked the ultra-athletic Utah QB Tyler Huntley twice in a performance where Northern Illinois was over-matched talent-wise and coaching-wise. 230-lb Sutton Smith sacked 6’7″, 245-lb Tyree Jackson twice in the MAC championship game. He can clearly compete against high level athletes despite his size and sub-par 40 time. Smith’s performance at Northern Illinois is no guarantee of success at the NFL level, but his ability to perform at a fundamental level against “better” talent suggests he can do the same at the pro level.

San Diego State WR, Fred Trevillion – Trevillion’s sample size at SDSU is smaller (22 catches, 598 yards, 27.2 yards per catch, 3 TDs) but he shows clear promise as a deep threat receiver in the vein of Brandin Cooks or Josh Gordon. Trevillion stands at 6’2″ but weighed in at 182 on his pro day, so he may struggle with strong press coverage. For those who value the 40 time, Trevillion ran a low-4.4 40 at his pro day (according to draftanalyst.com).  With the success of slot receivers in New England, more teams may be looking for a slot receiver, Trevillion didn’t make a name for himself as a slot receiver at SDCCU Stadium. In a pass-heavy offense, like in New Orleans, Kansas City, or Chicago Trevillion can be an extremely valuable deep threat as a mid to late round player.