ACC Preview By Thomas Rowberry

Welcome to the Full 10 Yards ACC Conference Preview

Looking Ahead…

The ACC is very much a talent laden conference but realistically Clemson will again sit atop the conference when all is said and done. The defending National Champs return one of the most talented offenses in all of football with Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross and a handful of offensive linemen returning to Death Valley.

Whilst I expect Clemson to run away with the ACC there are still teams that on their day could cause an upset against the Tigers. Syracuse gave the Tigers everything they could handle at the Carrier Dome in 2018, Miami look to be much improved in Manny Diaz’s first full season as Head Coach and Virginia return one of the most explosive quarterbacks in the conference in Bryce Perkins.

What About 2018?

Well…. Clemson finished the season 15-0, atop the Atlantic Division, beat the Pitt Panthers comfortably in ACC Championship game (winning 42-10) and then went on to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 44-16 in the College Football Championship game.

The Pitt Panthers (7-7) were the best team in a competitive yet somehow underwhelming Coastal Division in 2018. 5 teams finished above .500 in 2018 with Pitt (7-7), Georgia Tech (7-6), Virginia (8-5), Miami (7-6) and Duke (8-5) all besting the mark, unfortunately for Virginia and Duke who both posted better overall records than the Panthers their conference play was mediocre at best, Virginia finished 4-4 in conference play whilst the Blue Devils somehow managed to put together a 3-5 conference record.

Behind Clemson the Atlantic division was a little more competitive with both Syracuse (10-3) and North Carolina State (9-4) both posting records that would have come atop the Coastal division. No team in the ACC took a bigger step back in 2018 than the Louisville Cardinals, they went from finishing 8-5 in 2017 to just 2 wins. Losing Lamar Jackson, one of the most dynamic players college football has seen proved to be too big an issue to get over. Florida State went into 2018 with a new Head Coach for the first time in 8 years as Jimbo Fisher left for the challenges of the SEC and Texas A&M, a combination of Willie Taggart’s first season as head coach plus bad play from tumultuous quarterback Deondre Francois saw the Seminoles drop from 8 wins to just the 5 wins in 2018.

Back to Looking Ahead?

So, is there anybody in the ACC that can realistically push the Clemson Tigers? Probably the most suited to do so is are the Syracuse Orange, last season the Orange gave Clemson everything they could handle in a 23-27 loss, they go into this season with Tommy DeVito as their new starting quarterback. Whilst serving as Eric Dungey’s backup in 2017 DeVito flashed that he might be something special, against Florida State (whilst spelling for an injured Eric Dungey) DeVito guided the Orange to 24 second half points, against North Carolina the Orange blew a lead in the third quarter DeVito came in and changed their fortunes, tossing three touchdowns in a triple overtime victory. As well as going into the season with DeVito as QB1 the Orange return seven defensive starters, including Andre Cisco, one of the best safeties in the country who led College Football in interceptions in 2018.

The Miami Hurricanes look to be a completely different kettle of fish in 2019. This offseason they’ve seen a quarterback battle become the concentration of their Spring and Fall practices with returning sophomore N’Kosi Perry, freshman Jarren Williams and transferred ‘star’ Tate Martell battling for QB1. On August 12th Manny Diaz officially announced that Jarren Williams will be Miami’s starting quarterback heading into 2019, whilst Williams is a freshman and the decision was somewhat unexpected the hopes are that he can lead a much improved ‘Canes offense. Only four starters return from last years offense that finished 13th in the ACC in yards per game. Defensively Miami look to remain the best in the ACC and one of the best nationally, last season they finished 1st in the ACC and 14th nationally and bring back the best linebacking group in the country with Michael Pinckney, Shaq Quarterman and Zach McCloud returning for their senior years. The Coastal Division looks to run through Miami as they Hurricanes play both Virginia and Virginia Tech on home soil in 2019.

Speaking of Virginia, everything revolves around the play of Senior quarterback Bryce Perkins. Last season Perkins threw for 2680 yards and 25 touchdowns whilst rushing for an additional 923 yards and 9 touchdowns… that’s electric. Two of his top three receivers (Hasise Dubois & Joe Reed) return for 2019 so should help cover the loss of the Cavaliers leading guy in Olamide Zaccheaus and provide a level of stability going into this season. Virginia returns seven starters on one of the best defenses in the ACC, an explosive offense plus a very good defense in a division that has uncertainty for talented teams could mean the Cavaliers win the Coastal division for the first time.

Who Else Should You Keep Tabs On?

A couple teams that could surprise in 2019 are the Florida State Seminoles and Virginia Tech Hokies The Seminoles were horrific in 2018, Deondre Francois and all that comes with having him at quarterback are no longer on the roster, instead Willie Taggart will choose between James Blackman and Wisconsin transfer Alex Hornibrook. Both of which should represent an upgrade over Francois, who will now be competing at the FCS level. There is a considerable amount of hype surrounding Florida State this offseason, they have bounce back candidates in running back Cam Akers and return eight starters on the defensive side of the ball. Florida State should bounce back and get themselves back into a bowl game.

The Virginia Tech Hokies finished last season 6-7 and yet they go into this season with a little bit of hype surrounding them. Defensively the Hokies put together the worst season that a Bud Foster unit has ever had, finishing 77th in the nation. The same eleven starters are coming back in 2019, and whilst that might sound bad it isn’t, all eleven starters come back more experienced than the year before and with a chip on their should after such a bad year. The main reason the Hokies are getting a bit of hype? Senior quarterback Ryan Willis, the former Kansas-transfer replaced Josh Jackson after two games last year (Jackson went down with an injury) and honestly outplayed all expectations, Willis threw for 2716 yards with 24 touchdowns to just the 9 interceptions. It is fair to expect Willis to replicate and even improve on those numbers in 2019, especially if the defense makes the jump people expect.

Anyone Else?

This might be slightly out on the limb but I really like what Wake Forest have coming into 2019. They have one of the best quarterback situations in the conference with both Sam Hartman and Jamie Newman proving to be more than capable starting quarterbacks. Before breaking his leg Hartman had thrown for 1984 yards, 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in nine games, whilst Newman played in six games tossing 9 touchdowns, 4 interceptions for 1083 yards. Head Coach Dave Clawson should be more than happy with whoever trots out as the week one starter.

The biggest question marks surrounding the Demon Deacons revolve around their mediocre defense, last season they had no real stars and struggled to rush the passer with only 25 sacks all season long. They return only four starters from that defense so it’s unknown as to how their defense will look in 2019, there is a chance they could be every bit as bad but the hope is that an almost completely new defense can provide a little more test for teams than last year’s showing.

Dropping Down a Notch from 2018?

One team stands out as a team that is almost certainly going to take a step back in 2019 – the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Following back to back 9 win seasons you would be forgiven for thinking that NC State could build on that momentum, the problem is that they have lost as much offensive talent as any team in the country. They lost 3900 yards and 25 touchdowns in Ryan Finley, 1000 yards and 19 touchdowns in Reggie Gallaspy II, a combined 2000 yards and 11 touchdowns in Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers, All-American centre Garrett Bradbury and their offensive co-ordinator Eliah Drinkwitz left to become Head Coach of the Appalachian State Mountaineers. This many losses might be too much for the Wolfpack to overcome in 2019.

Shout Out To?

Boston College, Pittsburgh Panthers, North Carolina Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils. All four of these teams won’t be good enough to compete for either the Atlantic or Coastal division in 2019 but have talented players and should be at least interesting to watch.

Boston College are Boston College, they’re about as consistently average as a college football programme can be, they more or less float around seven wins every season and there isn’t really any reason to expect differently this year. They return a trio of very good offensive players in quarterback Anthony Brown, receiver Kobay White and potential dark-horse Heisman candidate AJ Dillon. Unfortunately for BC their defense is bad, they only return three starters, this will probably halt any progress the offense has made.

Pittsburgh finished the 2018 season atop the Coastal division, they did so by having two 1000 yard rushers in Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall… unfortunately for Pittsburgh both Ollison, Hall and four of their starting offensive linemen are no longer on the team. Pitts defense should remain solid in 2019, their season will hang on the play of Kenny Pickett at quarterback. Pickett was less than spectacular in 2018, he threw for just shy of 2000 yards and just the 12 touchdowns. Those numbers need to improve, without Ollison and Hall Pickett will see far more opportunity to utilise his arm.

Why are the Tar Heels interesting to watch in 2019? One reason really, the return of Mack Brown. North Carolina don’t have a particularly good roster, there is a reason they won just the two games in 2018 but Mack Brown has proven to be a fantastic college coach (might be understating that a bit), if anybody can inspire a Tar Heels turn around its him.

The Blue Devils finished the 2018 season with an 8-5 record and a win against Temple in the Independence Bowl, so why isn’t there any real buzz surrounding them going into 2019? Well, they have a new quarterback in senior Quentin Harris but don’t have many weapons surrounding him. Their defense should remain solid as they return nine starters, but they have a brutal schedule in 2019, in non-conference play they face both Alabama & Notre Dame and face Syracuse & Wake Forest from the Atlantic division. The only way this could have been worse is if they ended up with Clemson on their schedule as well.

Also Rans?

There are only two teams that I expect very little from in 2019, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Louisville Cardinals.

I’ll keep this short and sweet, the Yellow Jackets hired Geoff Collins as their new head coach but don’t really have the personnel to play his traditional system. They return just four starters on offense and only the three starters on defense. That is a LOT of gaps that need filling, if that wasn’t enough to say the Yellow Jackets were going to be bad their schedule should put the final nail in the coffin. In 2019 they travel to Clemson, Miami (Fla) and Virginia whilst hosting Virginia Tech, North Carolina State and Georgia to end the season…. I struggle to see a win in any of those games.

I’ll be equally as short with Louisville, they just don’t have a talented roster. The offense without Lamar Jackson was abysmal in 2018, quarterback Jawon Pass was really bad (8:12 TD:INT & less than 2000 yards in ’18), their leading rushers were backup quarterback Malik Cunningham and freshman Hassan Hall (who had only 303 yards) and their defense was horrendous, finishing last in the ACC in both scoring defense and yards allowed. Not a lot has changed heading into 2019, the Cardinals have seemingly fallen even further behind the rest of the ACC.

Predictions:

Atlantic

1. Clemson 12-0

2. Syracuse 10-2

3. Florida State 8-4

4. North Carolina State 8-4

5. Wake Forest 6-6

6. Boston College 6-6

7. Louisville 3-9

Coastal

1. Miami 10-2

2. Virginia 9-3

3. Virginia Tech 8-4

4. Pittsburgh 6-6

5. Duke 4-8

6. North Carolina 3-9

7. Georgia Tech 3-9

Follow Thomas on Twitter @Rowberry_

Follow us on Twitter @Full10YardsCFB

Supply Lines – Clemson Wide Receivers By Lee Wakefield

Welcome back for another episode of Supply Lines, this week I am looking at Clemson wide receivers and this is just about one of the most prolific supply lines that there has been in recent years for a certain position! Not only have Clemson supplied the NFL with 10 receivers in 10 years via the draft but the quality of those receivers has been very high indeed… and that’s not even counting undrafted receivers that have made it to the NFL.

To this tune the Clemson athletics website proudly boasts,

“10 former Clemson wide receivers are on NFL rosters, the most players from one position in school history in the NFL at the same time.”

What’s more, the trend doesn’t show any hints of slowing down with the likes of Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross currently on the Tigers depth chart. Higgins, a Junior enters this coming college football season as one of the best receivers in the country and is draft eligible, should he choose to enter the 2020 NFL draft. Ross is a Sophomore and will have to wait until 2021 at the earliest to get drafted. Both of these guys are on course to get drafted high whenever they come out – which will prolong the Supply line even further. I mean, it doesn’t hurt that they both have Trevor Lawrence throwing them the ball.

Anyway, more of those two guys later on, right now, I want to talk about the guys who are currently plying their trade in the NFL.

So, I’m going to come right out and say it and I don’t think it’s a hot take at all. The current, best wide receiver in football right now is DeAndre Hopkins, a former Tiger.

In 6 years in the league, Hopkins has amassed, 7,437 yards and an eye-popping 47 touchdowns. Nuk has missed and grand total of one game in all that time and maybe most impressively, did not drop one, single ball in the 2018 season.

Hopkins has vice-like mits, he displays mind-bending body control and concentration on catches and is his QB throws it up as a 50/50 ball, well… it’s not a 50/50 ball. Hopkins is just too strong for almost anyone who guards him… I’d say, at worst Hopkins instantly makes it a 70/30 ball in his favour.

Yeah, he’s pretty special. He was also pretty damn good when he was representing the Tigers too. 39 games in 3 years, yielded 3,020 yards and 27 TD’s, 18 of which came in his Junior season, before he was drafted 27th overall in the 2013 draft by the Texans and was the second wide receiver taken in the first round.

Just imagine being a St. Louis Rams and having the 8th overall pick, needing a receiver and drafting Tavon Austin instead of Hopkins…

Talk about things you hate to see.

It’s almost like after Hopkins, the NFL then realised that Clemson really produces top talent at the position, because since Hopkins, Clemson has had two top 10 receivers drafted; Sammy Watkins, 4th overall in 2014 and Mike Williamsm 7th overall a couple of years ago.

Let’s talk about those two guys.

Both Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams have had their ups and downs in the NFL. Watkins has looked excellent at times but injuries have taken their toll, both on his body and also on his reputation in the minds of fans –  despite only just having turned 26 years old this summer, not many see him as a premier wide receiver and some even see him as over the hill. Watkins has played in high powered offenses the past couple of seasons for the Rams and the Chiefs but hasn’t topped 600 yards either year, so perhaps those detractors are correct. A far cry from the guy who was drafted 4th overall and racked up just under 1,500 yards in his final year for Clemson and possessed elite, track-star speed which caused no end of problems to cornerbacks.

Mike Williams is another former Tiger who has had his injury issues and serious injuries at that. Williams suffered a vertebra fracture in his neck in college, which was then followed by a herniated disc in his back, during his rookie training camp. These injuries had a huge bearing on his rookie year and he was facing an uphill battle in year two but my, oh my… Wiliams answered those questions by looking every bit the dominant wide receiver he was when he played in South Carolina. A jump-ball, red-zone monster for the Chargers last year as he accumulated 10 receiving touchdowns and also ran one in, against Kansas City in the big victory at Arrowhead Stadium late in the season.

Whilst Williams did his damage by way of scoring TD’s last year and not so much by gobbling up yardage (664 yards last year) like he did at Clemson, where he topped 1,000 yards twice, we can kind of excuse this when there are so many mouths to feed over in L.A. I mean, not many offenses could draft a wideout 7th overall and be ok with him not being the WR1 on the roster.

Two receivers who are in different moulds who have enjoyed fantastic collegiate success before reaching the NFL and were drafted in the top 10 of their respective drafts. However, neither holds the record for career catches at Clemson… And nor does DeAndre Hopkins.

Who am I talking about?

You can stop searching the past few NFL drafts for the answer because this guy wasn’t even drafted.

The guy you’re looking for is Artavis Scott. 245 career receptions, 5 more than the aforementioned Watkins and before you look, no, Scott didn’t achieve this because he simply played for longer – both players played for three years in college.

Of course, Scott is a pure chain mover, a possession receiver with sure hands and not nearly as athletically gifted as those mentioned before him but to have that many receptions for a top class programme like Clemson is no mean feat and exactly why he has a chance to claim the Chargers WR3 job behind his friend and former college running mate, Mike Williams.

It’s not only high end draft talent that Clemson produce at the wide receiver position; the supply line ticks over with guys who can do a job, fill a role and have some success too. Aside from Scott, this would apply to Martavis Bryant, who was decent a few years back for the Steelers, until his off-field habits caught up with him. Then after that we have roster fillers such as Jordan Leggette, Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud all of whom could come good should the opportunity arise. As I’ve said all through this series, schools can’t kill it every year but this is clear evidence of a supply line.

Fast forward to present day and we have rookie, Hunter Renfrow in his first training camp for the Oakland Raiders. An undersized, 5th rounder who walked on at Clemson after only being offered scholarships to play FCS football. A few years later and Renfrow is about as sure-handed and gritty of a receiver as you can find; he’s very much in the Julian Edelman mould.

Really looking forward (as much as a Chargers fan can) to seeing what Renfrow does in the NFL. I think he could quickly become a trusty friend to Derek Carr what a shaky offense in 2019. Knowing that Carr struggles down the field, their new man (and ex-Charger) Tyrell Williams could turn into an expensive decoy and clear space for Renfrow to work in underneath. 

Watch this space!

SO! The big question, one that I hinted at earlier in the piece, is, who is next off the conveyor belt?

Well, I gave you guys the answer earlier on, it’s Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross.

Higgins is entering his first draft eligible season hoping to continue his upward trajectory and cement his place at the top table of wide receivers this coming season. Nice footwork and route running ability, married to good long speed at 6’4, 205lbs and then sprinkle in the ability to make contested catches down the field and you have something special. Trevor Lawrence or not… Watch out for the young man.

Not to be upstaged is Sophomore, Ross… When you get 1,000 yards as a freshman, you turn some heads and Justyn Ross does just that, especially when the yards come at over 20 yards a pop. Look for the second year man to reel in more than 46 catches for Clemson this year and probably go beyond the 1,000 yard mark again. If he does that, Ross will have fans coming down with Leonard Fournette syndrome*. 

That said, if Ross does increase his numbers in catches and yardage, and maybe even touchdowns… Maybe I will be struck down too.

I can feel it coming on now actually and all because this is one hyper-productive supply line.

*An illness where a fan becomes so hyped up by a prospect that they make numerous social media posts chastising the NCAA/NFL for not allowing supremely talented student athletes to declare prior to completing their Junior year of college.


Thanks for reading this weeks’ edition of Supply Lines. Be sure to be back next week when we talk Ohio State edge defenders.

Follow Full 10 Yards College Football @Full10YardsCFB on Twitter

Follow Lee on Twitter @Wakefield90

Pick It Apart; Dexter Lawrence

The Draft is in the books and the dust has settled. But how well did your team do in the first round?


We are taking a look back at every selection in the first round and giving you the lowdown on the pick; Was it a reach? Was it a steal? We’ll tell you and give you the impact for fantasy football….


Pick: 17


Player: Dexter Lawrence


Drafted By: New York Giants


Grade: B


Analysis: 

Lawrence was draft a few spots behind teammate Christian Wilkins (13); I wonder if they had a side bet on that. This was the pick in the trade deal with the Browns for OBJ.

Lawrence was ranked the no.2 recruit in his class when coming in to College in 2016 and was a highly sought after DT. That was backed up when being named the 2016 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and recorded 4 tackles when winning the National Title vs Alabama for Clemson.

His whole college production was good, but you have to wonder the reasons as to why his production dropped in his Junior year (doesn’t help he missed the playoffs after testing positive for PEDs, a requisite for entering the NFL).

So what does Lawrence bring?

Size, length, power and versatility; his athleticism allows him to fit in a 4-3 or a 3-4 front. His strength will obviously be a run stuffer for the Giants as long as they can rekindle his production from his 1st year in College. He isn’t going to be a guy that feasts on the flesh of the QB that often judging by his pass rush abilities but he will certainly do a job for the New York Football Giants.

The jury is out as to whether he was worth the pick here and whether he is a 3 down guy in the NFL (and wont have the luxury of having the talent around him like he did in the Clemson D), but he is a guy that will warrant double teams, be a disruptive menace in the gut of the defensive line and is a Gettleman guy in terms of big and strong on the D line.

At the very worst, he is someone that can be built around in the next few years.


Fantasy Football Impact: 

Similar to most other teams in the top half of the draft, defences will not be taken for most of these teams in fantasy unless it’s a stream or a deep league.

Lawrence will probably not trouble the top end of scoring in IDP and screams a real life decent player, but not for the stat sheets.

Pick It Apart; Christian Wilkins

Pick it Apart!

The Draft is in the books and the dust has settled. But how well did your team do in the first round?

We are taking a look back at every selection in the first round and giving you the lowdown on the pick; Was it a reach? Was it a steal? We’ll tell you and give you the impact for fantasy football….

Pick: #13

Player: Christian Wilkins

Drafted by: Miami Dolphins

Grade: B

Analysis: I think it’s fair to assume that if you ask 10 different ‘Fins fans about how they thought the Dolphins would approach their first 1st pick in the draft, I think you’d get a lot of different answers;

From trading back and accumulating yet more picks, to a Quarterback such as Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock etc.

I am not too sure how many of them would have selected a Defensive Tackle, and even less of those would have selected Christian Wilkins.

Brian Flores, the former Patriots DC, decided to beef up the O-Line with a 6”3, 315lb brute from Clemson. This will no doubt add help to a defence that were 27th in total points allowed and 29th in total yardage surrendered and bottom 10 in most rushing defence categories.

He’ll be remembered on draft day as the guy who jump bumped the Commish (shame it wasn’t a bit harder) and you can tell by his aura that he is a leader.

He is a hardworker, illustrated by the fact he got his degree in 2 and a half years. On the field, he racked up tackles from his freshman year, all the way to his final year. Wilkins can do it all, break up passes, tackles, stuff the run and sack the QB. The reason the grade is a B (if you haven’t noticed, I’ve given a lot of A’s thus far), is that I question whether or not it was the right pick at this position.

Whilst the Dolphins are lacking in a multitude of areas and have a bucket load of picks in 2020, I wonder if they had any calls from other teams to move up because I think Wilkins would have been there for another 5-10 picks. Even if he wasn’t, there would be comparable alternatives for them to choose from.

The positives though, he has character, talent and the athleticism to succeed in the NFL and will be asked to do a lot of it on his own in year one considering the rest of the talent on the roster. Next year and a few years from now though, if Miami invest wisely, it could be a force to be reckoned with Wilkins being the jewel in the crown.

Fantasy Football Impact:

Miami are not relevant for fantasy defences, unlikely to be too relevant in IDP but will certainly be the stud player and top points scorer of this team in my opinion. Just depends on how many points he can get. The defence will be on the field a fair bit so individual opportunity is there.

Don’t get all defensive

We turn our attentions to the defensive side of the ball for this podcast and are helped out by Joel Bishop of The Inside Zone, Inside the Pylon and Pro Football Ready.

Before that we find out whether Game of thrones returning was a greater comeback than Tiger Woods’s win at Augusta, what Wilson’s contract means for the next guys up and why avocado share prices have soared.

Adam Foxcroft tries to better Adam Walford’s score on the Full10Questions and we announce the winner of the April competition (you have 1 week to claim!)

Times:

1st Down – News and Notes : 4:29

2nd Down – Defence draft prospects : 10:51

3rd Down – Full10Questions: 49:15

4th Down – Podcast housekeeping and Competition winner: 57:39

Mock Draft 2019 – Never too early!

Written by Kieran Patterson – @TrueHybridKP

2019 Mock Draft 1st Round

The upcoming 2019 NFL Draft is going to be one of the most stacked drafts in recent history in terms of defensive talent, with many experts having maybe 20 or so players in their top 25. I’m not an expert but my draft board is no different. So without further adieu let’s get into this 2019 NFL Mock draft.

Pick Number 1: Oakland Raiders select defensive end Nick Bosa (Ohio State)

Nick Bosa is holding first place on many draft boards this year and with good reason, the Ohio State defensive end has shown himself to be the best defensive end in this years draft class, despite his decision to sit his final year to make sure he is injury free. We all know the Raiders tend to make crazy picks that very often don’t pan out but Bosa is a sure fire pick to bolster the struggling Raiders defense.

Pick Number 2: San Francisco 49ers select defensive tackle Ed Oliver (Houston)

Ed Oliver has Aaron Donald like potential and is arguably just as good if not better than Nick Bosa. Pair him with Buckner, Armsted and Thomas and the 49ers have one of the scariest looking defensive lines in the league. Once Jimmy G is healthy again pairing him with a defence like this puts the 49ers on the right track heading into the next season.

Pick Number 3: Arizona Cardinals select wide receiver N’Keal Harry (Arizona State)

While an offensive tackle might be a smarter move, Arizona definitely needs to give young quarterback Josh Rosen more weapons. Pair N’Keal Harry with Christian Kirk and Rosen suddenly has a lot more options on what he can throw. N’Keal is fast, fluid and smart, he runs routes flawlessly and has great hands. This pick might be a little off given the offensive line but I really think it’s a better pick for the Cardinals.

Pick Number 4: New York Giants select quarterback Justin Herbert (Oregon)

After passing on quarterbacks like Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen to draft generational talent Saquon Barkley in 2018 The Giants are now in position to address the biggest issue within the team, the quarterback position. While not a particularly deep draft for quarterbacks Justin Herbert is head and shoulders above most quarterbacks going into this draft. The Giants would be insane to pass up on Herbert.

Pick Number 5: Buffalo Bills select wide receiver AJ Brown (Ole Miss)

Now on this pick I was torn between Kelvin Harmon from NC State or AJ Brown but watching both play, Brown just seems to be a more capable receiver. Fast, smooth and athletic this might be a perfect weapon for Josh Allen to do some real damage with going into his sophomore NFL season.

Pick Number 6: New York Jets select cornerback Greedy Williams (LSU)

Even with a pair of good safeties in Jamal Adams and Terrence Brooks the Jets would be kicking themselves missing out on a chance to take such a good cornerback. As an LSU fan I watch Greedy Williams play every week and he might be the best cornerback in D1 football right now. Long, fluid and dangerous Williams can do big thing for the Jets in the 2019 season.

Pick Number 7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers select defensive end Clelin Ferrell (Clemson)

Another brilliant edge rusher in this draft, Clelin Ferrell possesses all the traits of an elite edge rusher and would give Tampa Bay a much-needed edge on the D-Line that they seem to missing right now. While many would suggest a quarterback it is unlikely that the front office are willing to give up on Jameis Winston just yet.

Pick Number 8: Jacksonville Jaguars select safety Deionte Thompson (Alabama)

If this season has shown us anything it’s that a big mouth and poor attitude can’t make your secondary great, so the Jaguars drafting the talented safety Deionte Thompson will give them some much needed help in their secondary. I hope for the Jaguars sake that this season is a temporary blip. Thompson is a sure fire way to help them next season, even if they need a new quarterback too.

Pick Number 9: Detroit Lions select Raekwon Davis defensive tackle (Alabama)

Another defensive tackle, are you starting to see a trend here? With just another all around poor season for the Lions (despite wins over the Patriots and Packers) they definitely need more help on that defensive line. With a big strong defensive lineman like Raekwon Davis crashing into opposing tackles this pick just reinforces the general theme of this draft. Pass rushing and shutting down the run.

Pick Number 10: Atlanta Falcons select wide receiver Hakeem Butler (Arizona State)

Now this might be a slightly unexpected pick given Ridley, Jones and Sanu but with the Falcons paying out such a huge amount to Matty Ice they need to give him some weapons. Hakeem fills that role perfectly whether it’s in open field on in the slot, Hakeem shines. If Atlanta take this talented receiver it will be interesting to see how much he improves the Atlanta offence.

Pick Number 11: Cleveland browns select wide receiver Kelvin Harmon (NC State)

Like AJ Brown and Hakeem Butler, Kelvin Harmon is a strong athletic receiver with smooth route running and dominates in the high point department. Couple this with the accurate Baker Mayfield throwing to him Harmon could be a very dangerous addition to an already deadly offence.

Pick Number 12: Philadelphia Eagles select offensive tackle Greg Little (Ole Miss)

The Eagles really need to start planning for their future and keeping Carson Wentz protected is a priority. Little has the skill set to be a franchise tackle if he gets a little help with his footwork. This isn’t an exciting pick, it’s a necessary one.

Pick Number 13: Denver Broncos select quarterback Daniel Jones (Duke)

Jones has the size and arm to be a quality quarterback at the pro level. If he gets to sit behind Case Keenum for the 2019 season to develop his knowledge and game he could be very dangerous. While this draft isn’t really packed with quarterback talent the way the 2018 draft was there are still a few gems available for teams to pick up.

Pick Number 14: Green Bay Packers select safety Lukas Denis (Boston College)

While he might not be as big of a difference maker as Deionte Thompson, Lukas Denis is not to be overlooked. With amazing pace and great vision Denis could be the new star of the Packers secondary. The Packers young secondary is just one or two pieces away from being one of the best in the NFC. Lukas could elevate them to that point.

Pick Number 15: Cincinnati Bengals select offensive tackle Dalton Risner (Kansas State)

In 2018 the Bengals began to rebuild their offensive line with Cordy Glenn and Billy Price. This will continue with Risner. Maybe the best right tackle prospect of this draft class. Like I said with the Eagles this isn’t a flashy or exciting pick but it can certainly lead to a big difference in what Andy Dalton can do with talented tackles holding up a pocket for him.

Pick Number 16: Miami Dolphins select defensive end Josh Allen (Kentucky)

The Dolphins are another team that will benefit from this heavily defensive draft. Cameron Wake isn’t as young as he used to be so adding a productive player like Josh Allen will be a massive help to the defence. Not only is Allen a high production speed rusher he can also make plays in coverage.

Pick Number 17: Minnesota Vikings select offensive guard Ben Powers (Oklahoma)

With a quarterback like Kirk Cousins and stellar receivers in Diggs and Thielen, Ben Powers is the perfect fit for the Vikings. Displaying some of the best pass blocking in college football currently, he could well prove to be a franchise player for the Vikings providing Cousins with brilliant protection for years to come.

Pick Number 18: Washington Redskins select cornerback Julian Love (Notre Dame)

Julian Love is a disruptive, ball hawking corner. He’s not the most athletic player in the draft, not by a long shot but his football IQ is through the roof and his motor is incredibly high. Definitely a welcome addition to the Redskins secondary giving them more options to break up pass plays and pick opponents off.

Pick Number 19: Tennessee Titans select tight end Kaden Smith (Stanford)

The Titans might be the team most in need of a tight end right now, Delanie Walker’s days are definitely numbered so Smith’s speed and massive catch radius will be a welcome addition to the Titans offence and a great weapon for Marcus Mariota.

Pick Number 20: Baltimore Ravens select wide receiver Anthony Johnson (Buffalo)

The Ravens are slowly but surely making a new receiving corps for Lemar Jackson to utilise in Baltimore. Johnson is a big deep threat and looking at his college stats he has a very impressive yards after catch ability. A skill that could make him one of the top receivers in the NFL with a talented quarterback like Jackson throwing to him.

Pick Number 21: Carolina Panthers select defensive end Brian Burns (Florida State)

Burns has all the tools to be an All-Pro player providing he can pack on a little weight and get himself stronger. Carolina addressing their edge concerns with a pick like this is vital. Burns has the dimensions and athleticism to be a great NFL player provided he addresses the aforementioned weight and strength concerns. If he addresses those issues Carolina have an all time great on their hands.

Pick Number 22: Seattle Seahawks select safety Khaleke Hudson (Michigan)

Needing to replace a hole left by Earl Thomas III leaving the team, Seattle need a young and instinctive safety to fill that gap. In my opinion Seattle should try and trade up to get Deionte Thompson earlier as he is heads and shoulders above any other defensive back in the draft. Not to discount Hudson who would give lots of quarterbacks in the NFL trouble. With great vision and natural instinct Hudson is still a very smart pick for Seattle to make.

Pick Number 23: Indianapolis Colts select defensive lineman Christian Wilkins (Clemson)

The Colts have a very overlooked defence currently and adding a more muscle up front on the line could benefit this team exponentially. Wilkins is a very physical but versatile defensive lineman who can put the Colts defence on the map next year. Couple that with Andrew Lucking coming off one of his best years in the league and the Colts could start looking like a serious play off team for the first time in a long time.

Pick Number 24: Oakland Raiders (from Dallas Cowboys) select linebacker Devin White (LSU)

White shows rare athletic ability giving him scary speed on the outside and when he gets going there’s not stopping him. Fast, physical and menacing Devin White could replace the void left by Khalil Mack as a mean edge rusher. Despite recent form White still might be the best linebacker in this draft class.

Pick Number 25: Houston Texans select offensive lineman Trey Adams (Wasington)

Adams has displayed he can play both sides of the line. Dominating at right tackle in 2017 and having a strong year on the left side in 2018. This pick is a must for the Texans as they need more protection for Deshaun Watson up front. Adams versatility means the Texans can use him to bolster either side of the line they need to the most.

Pick Number 26: Pittsburgh Steelers select cornerback Deandre Baker (Georgia)

Baker has been a difference maker at Georgia this season and he’d be a welcomed addition to the Steelers secondary. He possesses all the traits of an elite cornerback.  Vision, speed and great hands. All of this makes him a brilliant pick for the Steelers giving their secondary the extra support it needs.

Pick Number 27: Los Angeles Chargers select defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence (Clemson)

Another Clemson prospect on this list, Lawrence has proven himself to be a premier nose tackle with brilliant handwork and an impressive burst off the line. A mountain of a human being Lawrence is going to be a problem for a lot of offensive lineman upon his arrival in the NFL. Due to Brandon Mebane’s contract being up this season the Chargers may have to fill his spot and Lawrence is the man to do it.

Pick Number 28: Oakland Raiders (from Chicago Bears) select wide receiver Ahmmon Richards (Miami)

Losing Amari Cooper was a serious blow to the Oakland offence and Richards can be a great replacement for him. Gruden needs a legit star at receiver and Richards can be that guy. With explosive speed and great hands Richards can be a threat anywhere on the field. The Raiders need to make picks like this to ensure they can have a better year than the tumultuous season 2018 as Gruden has taken over.

Pick Number 29: New England Patriots select quarterback Drew Lock (Missouri)

Now this pick may be controversial at least to my fellow Patriot fans who think Tom Brady is going be playing even into his 50’s. The Patriots need a new quarterback and Drew Lock could be a potential replacement if he’s groomed right coming in. While many would have the Patriots take a linebacker or defensive back to help out Gilmore and Hightower I think a quarterback pick is essential. While I looked at sleeper picks like KJ Costello, I think Lock is just a better fit for the Patriots organisation.

Pick Number 30: Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans Saints) select defensive end Zach Allen (Boston College)

The Packers need to address the outside edge rusher spot in their team and Allen can transition into that role quickly. A player who is very quick and alert on the field with great hand and footwork make him a formidable edge rusher who can put quarterbacks under pressure and force desperation throws while collapsing a pocket.

Pick Number 31: Kansas City Chiefs select defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones (Ohio State)

In their game against the LA Rams the Chiefs made it painfully apparent that they need some serious talent on their defence, especially on the D-Line. Dre’Mont Jones is a very similar prospect to Chris Jones (the only Chiefs player who was doing anything against the Rams offence) so pairing them together would be a much needed helping hand on the Chiefs defence.

Pick Number 32: Los Angeles Rams select cornerback Bryce Hall (Virginia)

A tall, playmaking cornerback would elevate the Ram’s secondary to deadly levels. While Hall isn’t the twitchy reactionary player like earlier cornerbacks in this draft he does have a nose for the ball, which means he is always lurking, and hawking balls from all over the field. I’m excited to see how much the Rams can elevate themselves with a defence as effective as their offence.

 

Wildcard Prospects:

Dakota Allen linebacker (Texas Tech)

Defensive star of Netflix documentary ‘Last Chance U’, Dakota Allen has been maybe the hardest working linebacker in the country after arriving back at Texas Tech. With a high motor and ridiculous work ethic Allen would be a steal for any team willing to take him. I don’t see him going any later than round 3 but I can easily see him being picked up early second round by a team who needs a solid linebacker to add to their roster.

 

KJ Costello quarterback (Stanford)

Now this might be a long shot for a lot of people but I really like KJ Costello and think he can make a splash in the NFL if he’s picked up by the right team. A potential fit for the Jaguars if they need someone game ready to step in for Bortles. Costello is very competent and accurate with the football and I see him doing good things in a pro style offence.

 

Jalen Hurd wide receiver (Baylor)

After switching to Baylor and making the move from running back to receiver in order to take less punishment on his body Hurd has shown he can play both positions well. A fast athletic receiver with great vision and awareness would be a steal for any team wanting to add a little more depth to their wide outs.

 

Bryce Love runningback (Stanford)

The second Stanford player I’m adding to this list is probably going to be overlooked in the first round due to the amount of defensive and receiving talent in the first round. Love is a fast and agile running back with a great football IQ helping him see gaps and lanes very quickly. He shows great patience and versatility on the field, which can make him a very big name in the NFL.

 

If you have any thoughts or corrections to share you can find me over on Twitter @TrueHybridKP even if you just want to tell me your predictions for a first round draft or ask me why I have chosen these players feel free to get in touch!