Full10Takeaways

By Tim Monk, Shaun Blundell and Lawrence Vos

Week 1 is in the books and there are a good % of you lovely people out there that had a nice takeaway whilst watching the game or Redzone.

Talking of takeaways, this 2nd new weekly edition NFL article features our takeaways from the week’s games. So look out for more puns, play on words but more importantly some insight in to the real storylines from the NFL action.

Kellen Moore, Kellen Moore-did he get very far?

IMAGE CREDIT: Matthew Emmons /USA TODAY

The Kellen Moore era is here and boy, the sky is the limit.

Multiple pre snap motions, guys wide open, PASSING ON 1ST DOWN! Things not synonymous with the Cowboys certainly since I have been a fan looked liked pure poetry in motion on Sunday.

In fact, I am so excited that I created a song to the tune of “Tell Me More” in Grease (have I gone viral yet?).

Dak Prescott threw lasers all afternoon, culminating in Dak becoming the first Dallas QB to have a perfect QB Rating. He also become the 3rd Dallas QB alongside Meredith and Romo to have multiple 400yd passing games.

Multiple players getting open helped Dak and the Cowboys score touchdowns on 5 straight drives, something not seen in these parts for years if not decades if not ever. 7 different players caught passes from #4 and that included 4 passing Touchdowns to 4 different players including Witten, who loves the endzone vs Big Blue.

Yes, it was the Giants but the way they were dispatched of that was the impressive part. Elliott dipped his toes in before being rested late on and even when plays didn’t go as planned, there was an air of expectancy on the following play that they drive would just continue on and that the Giants could do nothing about it.

Cowboys next travel to the nation’s capital to face a feisty Redskins. Confidence is high and Kellen Moore seems to be unlocking new rooms in the Cowboy’s playbook mansion.

Is it the first time as a Cowboys fan that I don’t need to worry about a sucker punch of a performance?


Melvin Gor-done?

IMAGE CREDIT: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson could be off of Melvin Gordon’s Christmas card list this year.

Gordon, 26, is currently away from the team due to contract demands and is probably writing his list to Santa as we speak. Especially when he would have been sitting at home watching the game vs Colts where his backfield teammates WENT. OFF.

Austin Ekeler – 18 touches, 3 Total TDs, 16yards per reception, 4.8yards per carry including the game sealing TD in OT.

Justin Jackson – Averaged 9.5 (!) yards per carry.

That’s a set of numbers for Ekeler that will win you fantasy games. For Jackson, he is proving that he belongs on the big stage and is ready to go as a quality handcuff. The Chargers are hanging about in this win-now window and 2019 may be the last time the playoff portal remains open. Melvin might end up getting traded at this rate.

This was the nightmare scenario that played out for Gordon if he had any slither of a chance of getting any more moolah not just in LA but anywhere. Yes, the Chargers were taken to overtime by the Colts, but the fact is even with Melvin Gordon being in the lineup, not a lot would have played out different.

Gordon is slated to return in “6-8 weeks” according to Mike Garafalo/Ian Rapoport when he needs to report in order to accrue a season. Judging by this, he won’t be more than someone in the rotation in this backfield if things keep playing out how they did in week 1.

To use a phrase from Jerry Jones: “Melvin Who?”


Vikings mean business

IMAGE CREDIT: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

The only thing that could stop the Vikings making a deep run this season is health.

Dalvin was cooking, the defence was mean. The Vikings pretty much snuffed out anything the Falcons had to offer. Falcons did not score until their final 2 drives and had everything from blocked punts to interceptions.

The Vikings will be very tough to beat, especially at home this season and a special mention to Kirk Cousins and his play vs the Falcons; Despite only attempting 10 passes (yes 10, do not refresh your box scores), he still had to stand tall in the pocket and make plays whilst his opposite signal caller couldn’t replicate and looked jitterey behind his new revamped offensive line that abandoned the run very early on.

Mike Zimmer wants to run the ball, they did. The Falcons knew they wanted to run the ball, they still couldn’t stop it. Cook had 2 TDs and averaged 5.3yards per carry on 21 touches (Alexander Mattison also showed well) and the result was never in doubt from when the first points were on the board. Matt Ryan is now 0-4 vs Minnesota in the Mike Zimmer era, Devonta Freeman was stifled and frustrated in his return, this was all one way traffic. There is a slight chance that Atlanta are not as good as they look on paper but all the same, this could eventually turn out to be a tiebreaker come week 17 and the way the Vikings handled business says to me they are ready for a deep playoff run.

On a side note, Garrett Bradberry had a baptism of fire in this game, not grading well according to PFF for both pass block and run blocking standpoint.


Steeling a living

IMAGE CREDIT: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Despite being handed one of the toughest draws on opening night, the Pittsburgh Steelers looked awful. The Patriots dominated in all facets of the game and Big Ben and co just weren’t given an inch. Aside from the fact that the false start penalty on the Steelers where everyone moved apart from the centre, there was nothing to make you smile as a terrible towel waver.

Josh Gordon made big plays, Julian Edelman was once again uncoverable and sexy Rex had a cut as beautiful as my latest trip to the barbers. Imagine if Antonio Brown was on the field…

It was a performance which epitomises the Patriots; Prepared, confident and executed to perfection. Everything the Steelers didn’t look capable of being.

On the Steelers’ side, yikes. This is only the 2nd time the Steelers have lost by 30+ since Big Ben was drafted and the lowest score posted by the Steelers since week 3 2016. Donte Moncrief had more drops than the Fantasy Footballers podcast mustering 3 receptions for 7 yards on 10 TARGETS!

On a recent podcast topic about head coaches on the hot seat, Mike Tomlin was earmarked as someone that could be under a lot of pressure with poor performances this season as there is no longer a hiding place with the divas out the door. I think his seat is just getting that little bit warmer…


BAKE AND WAKE

Image Credit – Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

It was everything it was meant to be…until it wasn’t. Baker came out firing as the Browns marched there opening possession down the field for the touchdown, the first season opening drive touchdown since 1995. Unfortunately for the hyped up team of the off season, the Titans had not read the script.

Aided in no small part by 18 Browns penalties for 182 yards the Tennessee defence swarmed the Browns much maligned O-line with Cameron Wake looking like a younger version of himself and the ball hawking secondary picking off Mayfield on 3 separate occasions.

The game was close at one point 15-13 with momentum feeling as though it was shifting towards Cleveland but a 75 yard screen pass to Derrick Henry stretched the Titans back out to a 2 score lead and they never looked back, racking up 21 points in the 4th quarter. 

For the Titans its business as usual. Under the radar, limited expectations but a sneakily good team. The defence looks better than last year with an improved pass rush and IF Mariota can play this way week to week they have a nicely balanced team. As for the Browns? Someone pass me that drawing board!


With The 1st Pick Of The XFL Draft……

Image credit – Allie Goulding – Tampa Bay Times

Even the supposed quarterback whisperer cannot save Jameis Winston. The former number one pick has flashed potential for 4 years but has ultimately provided frustration behind center. Much hope was pinned on the out of retirement Bruce Arians to be the man with the magic answer, so far, not so good.

The interception shy 49ers fresh of just 2 picks during the entire previous campaign surely provided a nice opportunity for Winston and the Bucs offense to get a nice confidence booster under their belts. Well an opening day stat line of 20/36 with 3 INT feels very much like the same old Jameis.

With a pair of picks being returned to the end zone for pick 6’s the Bucs offense wasted auch improved effort from the defensive side of the ball. Vernon Hargreaves returned a pick six of his own for the Todd Bowles led unit that appeared more aggressive despite being dealt a poor hand from the offense.

Jimmy G was efficient (outside of the pick 6) if not spectacular but importantly, he didn’t lose the game for his team. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay fans however, this is an accusation that we can once again aim at your quarterback. Maybe the only way he can be saved is getting his name called by the Tampa Bay Vipers.


No Winners In Overtime

Image credit – Marcio Jose Sanchez – AP

Let it be known, I hate the NFL overtime rules! 2 games on opening Sunday went to the extra period with Colts/Chargers and Lions/Cardinals both level at the end of regulation. The extra periods gave us 1 winner and 1 tie but the whole set up of it drives me nuts.

Firstly make no mistake about it, things have improved. Once upon a short time ago we would have crowned 2 winners on Sunday evening. The Cardinals kicked a field goal to take the overtime lead which back in 2009 would have clinched the ball game. At least 10 years on the Lions had a chance to respond and they did just that this weekend with a Matt Prater field goal.

The Colts however were not so fortunate. A brilliant Jacoby Brissett game tying drive in the 4th quarter had the Colts with all of the momentum. That momentum was wiped away by the flip of a coin, had the coin landed the other way I’m convinced the Colts would be sitting at 1-0. It went the way of the Chargers who marched the field and scored the game winner on Austin Ekelers 3rd score of the game.

I get the argument that the defence has to step up and keep the opposition out of the end zone but surely it’s time that both teams get the opportunity to possess the ball in overtime, even if a touchdown is scored. My opinion would have been the same had the Colts won the coin flip, as Philip Rivers would have seen his team up by 8 following his last possession, to losing the game without seeing the field again. Surely it can’t be right? Maybe in another 10 years we might get there!


Number 1 pick number 1 shirt

IMAGE CREDIT: Mark J Rebilas

The biggest curiosity in the entire NFL this season, Kyler Murray the overall number one pick by the Arizona Cardinals made his long-awaited debut against the Lions. Murray looked out of place, frustrated and out of rhythm for three quarters. What made Murray the top pick was his fourth quarter heroics, going 15 of 19 for 154 yards and two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Unfortunately, the comeback was not enough as the rare result was a tie. Murray has proved he can succeed in the NFL with 300 yards passing on his debut. You can be safe to start him in fantasy now, as Murray will be having to perform fourth quarter and overtime heroics for the next 15 weeks.

Da Pack D gelling early

IMAGE CREDIT: Stacy Revere / Getty Images

With a big reliance on a series of fresh faces on the Green Bay Packers defense, this was a situation that was unpredictable, but with Week 1 in the books it was the most impressive defensive unit performance of the week. We know Mitch Trubisky is a rollercoaster of a QB, but on the Thursday opener he looked like a lost rookie, and not a third-year pro. The Packers defense was spectacular, forcing 21 incompletions, with corner Jaire Alexander looking great and Adrian Amos the free-agent safety sharking around the field. Aaron Rodgers managed just enough output to defeat an aggressive Bears defense, but without the touchdown the Packers would have walked away with the W with just two field-goals. You have been warned Mike Pettine’s Packers defense is going to surprise people.

One for the road….

Rusty Tackling

Whats new?

New year, same tackling standards.

Austin Ekeler, Vernon Davis (hurdle alert!) amongst others including their fantasy owners benefitted from poor tackling which helped contribute to their touchdown plays this weekend.

It wasn’t the first time and definitely won’t be the last, but this modern day NFL defensive players place far too much emphasis on punching the ball loose instead of try to bring their offensive player down that it costs the defence more yards and conceding more points. Yes, rules are far more favouring to the offence in terms of how you neutralise a player (sounds sadistic, doesn’t it?) in the open field but the fundamentals of tackling are being a lost art of the game. I can appreciate that creating plays and causing turnovers give you more chance to win the game, but you could also argue it may help you lose it.

Part of it maybe that offensive players are harder to tackle (guys are getting bigger, faster, stronger. Evolution and all that) but the amount of broken tackles seen in week 1 isn’t a good thing for defences, even if it is good for highlight reels and Fantasy Football.

AFC North Breakdown

By Thomas Rowberry (@Rowberry_)

Last Season

Baltimore Ravens 10-6

Pittsburgh Steelers 9-6-1

Cleveland Browns 7-8-1

Cincinnati Bengals 6-10

Baltimore Ravens

Draft Selections: Marquise Brown, WR (1.25), Jaylon Ferguson, OLB (3.85), Miles Boykin, WR (3.93), Justice Hill, RB (4.113), Ben Powers, G (4.123), Iman Marshall, CB (4.127), Daylon Mack, DT (5.160), Trace McSorley, QB (6.197)

Offseason Key Additions: Earl Thomas, S (Seattle Seahawks), Mark Ingram, RB (New Orleans Saints), Seth Roberts, WR (Oakland Raiders)

Offseason Key Departures: Terrell Suggs, OLB (Arizona Cardinals), CJ Mosley, LB (New York Jets), Eric Weddle, S (Los Angeles Rams), John Brown, WR (Buffalo Bills), Za’Darius Smith, OLB (Green Bay Packers), Joe Flacco, QB (Denver Broncos), Michael Crabtree, WR (Free Agent)

Super Bowl Odds: 40-1

Analysis: Eric DeCosta’s first offseason as ‘the guy’ was spent overhauling the Ravens roster to fit the skills of their young signal caller. DeCosta completely overhauled the offensive threats around Lamar Jackson, ridding the team of starting receivers John Brown and Michael Crabtree whilst adding former Saints running back Mark Ingram to be a bell cow back and drafting college standouts Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown and Miles Boykin as downfield threats.

Defensively the Ravens lost as much talent as any team in the league, losing stalwarts Terrell Suggs, CJ Mosley and Eric Weddle as well as pass rushing specialist Za’Darius Smith. That being said they may now have the best defensive backfield in the league thanks to the addition of former All-Pro Earl Thomas who joins Marlon Humphrey, Travon Young, Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson. The one area that remains a concern for the Ravens is the front seven, the losses of CJ Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith haven’t really been addressed in the offseason meaning the likes of Tyus Bowser, Kenny Young and third round pick Jaylon Ferguson are going to need to have big seasons to cover the losses.

Don’t get it wrong, Baltimore still have one of the best situations in the league. There is talent at the offensive skill positions, they have one of the best offensive lines in the league and arguably the best defensive backfield in the league. Baltimore will be good.

Look Out For: The thing everyone is looking out for regarding the Ravens is the evolution of Lamar Jackson, will he take the steps to become a true passer in the NFL or will the Ravens zig whilst the league zags and lean into the running game that served them so well last year? One team played the Lamar Jackson led Ravens last year, the Los Angeles Chargers, they figured the Ravens out and forced Jackson to throw the ball to disastrous results so unless Jackson has improved the Ravens could struggle offensively even with the talent around him.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Draft Selections: Devin Bush, LB (1.10), Diontae Johnson, WR (3.66), Justin Layne, CB (3.83), Benny Snell Jr, RB (4.122), Zach Gentry, TE (5.141), Sutton Smith, LB (6.175), Isaiah Buggs, DE (6.192), Ulysees Gilbert III, LB (6.207)

Key Offseason Additions: Donte Moncrief, WR (Jacksonville Jaguars), Mark Barron, LB (Los Angeles Rams), Steven Nelson, CB (Kansas City Chiefs)

Key Offseason Departures: Antonio Brown, WR (Oakland Raiders), Le’Veon Bell, RB (New York Jets), Morgan Burnett, S (Cleveland Browns), Jon Bostic, LB (Washington Redskins)

Super Bowl Odds: 20-1

Analysis: Has a team ever lost two of the best players at their respective positions in one offseason before? Because that’s what happened to the Steelers this offseason. Following a 9-6-1 season that saw Le’Veon Bell sit out the year and Antonio Brown ‘quit on the team’ the Steelers parted ways with both, allowing Bell to sign as a UDFA for the New York Jets and trading Brown to the Oakland Raiders for a pair of draft picks (2019 third and fifth round picks).

In Bell and Brown’s absences last year the Steelers saw running back James Conner and receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster breakout as two of the best young players at their respective positions, they’re hoping for similar jumps from their supporting casts. Ben Roethlisberger remains one of the best quarterbacks in the league so with Conner, JuJu and a supporting cast that features Vance McDonald, Eli Rogers and James Washington the Steelers offense should remain one of the best in the league.

In Devin Bush the Steelers have one of the most highly touted rookies in the league and look to have finally found someone to have filled the gap created by Ryan Shazier’s devastating injury a few seasons ago. Reports suggest that Bush is already showing up as a leader for the Steelers defense, a unit which has been missing a true leader in the middle of the field.  The Steelers defensive backfield should be much better in 2019 with the additions of Steven Nelson from the Chiefs and rookie Justin Layne, both of who should feature somewhat heavily after seeing disappointing play from the likes of Artie Burns in 2018.

Look Out For: In order for the Steelers to be great this season they’re going to need Big Ben to have one of his best seasons, their schedule looks one of the most difficult in the league with them typically facing three tough games to every ‘easy’ game this season – First four quarter of the season see them play the Patriots, Seahawks, 49ers and Bengals, the second quarter sees them play the Ravens, Chargers, Dolphins and Colts, the third quarter they play the Rams, Browns, Bengals and Browns before finally ending the season with games against the Cardinals, Bills, Jets and Ravens.

This team is still one of the most talented in the league, and they still haven’t had a losing record with Mike Tomlin as Head Coach but the schedule is rough, the offensive skill position players surrounding Conner and JuJu are mostly unproven at this point so if Big Ben doesn’t have a big season the Steelers could be in for a long season.

Cleveland Browns

Draft Selections: Greedy Williams, CB (2.46), Sione Takitaki, LB (3.80), Sheldrick Redwine, S (4.119), Mack Wilson, LB (5.155), Austin Seibert, K (5.170), Drew Forbes, T (6.189), Donnie Lewis Jr, CB (7.221)

Key Offseason Additions: Odell Beckham Jr, WR (New York Giants), Kareem Hunt, RB (Kansas City Chiefs), Olivier Vernon, DE (New York Giants), Sheldon Richardson, DT (Minnesota Vikings), Morgan Burnett, S (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Key Offseason Departures: Kevin Zeitler, G (New York Giants), Jabrill Peppers, S (New York Giants), Emmanuel Ogbah, DE (Kansas City Chiefs), Brien Boddy-Calhoun, S (Houston Texans), Breshad Perriman, WR (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Super Bowl Odds: 20-1

Analysis: After a 7-8-1 season that saw Hue Jackson, Todd Haley and Gregg Williams given their marching orders and Baker Mayfield break the rookie touchdown passing record the Browns & John Dorsey have spent the offseason building arguably the most talent laden roster in the entire league. This offseason has seen the Browns acquire arguably the best receiver in the league in Odell Beckham Jr, one of the best but most troubled backs in the league in Kareem Hunt, beefed up a defensive line that already featured Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi with the additions of Olivier Vernon & Sheldon Richardson.

The Browns offense has the potential to be one of the best units in the league, Baker Mayfield threw 27 touchdowns in just 13 games last season as a rookie. With a full offseason working as ‘the guy’ in Cleveland it’s fair to expect him to make a leap this season, especially when you look at the talent Dorsey has put around him. Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Antonio Callaway, David Njoku as receiving targets, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the backfield…. There isn’t a more talented offensive roster in the league.

The Browns defense isn’t to be laughed at either, Dorsey and his staff have put together a defense that could be every bit as good as the offense. There aren’t too many defensive lines better than the Browns in the league right now, the linebacking group is solid without having a true superstar and now their secondary has a cornerback tandem that could develop into one of the best in the league with rookie second round pick Greedy Williams partnering sophomore Pro Bowler Denzel Ward.

Look Out For: Is it wrong to say the Browns as a whole? A team that went 7-8-1 last year probably shouldn’t be as high on people’s radars as the Browns are but they became one of the most fun teams to watch once Baker Mayfield took over last year and now have a roster full of blue chip talent. This Browns team could go onto win the Super Bowl as early as this year BUT they also have the potential to implode.

As good as Mayfield has been he runs his mouth a lot and could rub his teammates, will Odell Beckham continue to be as divisive as New York media would have you believe he was for the Giants? Can he co-exist with Jarvis Landry? Is Freddie Kitchens up to being a Head Coach after only a handful of games experience as an offensive co-ordinator? Will suspensions for Kareem Hunt and Antonio Callaway hurt in the early part of the season? And will the weight of expectations be too much for the Browns young roster to handle?

Cincinnati Bengals

Draft Selections: Jonah Williams, OT (1.11), Drew Sample, TE (2.52), Germaine Pratt, LB (3.72), Ryan Finley, QB (4.104), Renell Wren, DT (4.125), Michael Jordan, G (4.136), Trayveon Williams, RB (6.182), Deshaun Davis, LB (6.210), Rodney Anderson, RB (6.211), Jordan Brown, CB (7.223)

Key Offseason Additions: John Miller, OG (Buffalo Bills), Kerry Wynn, DT (New York Giants), B.W. Webb, CB (New York Giants)

Key Offseason Departures: Vontaze Burfict, LB (Oakland Raiders), Michael Johnson, DE (Free Agent)

Super Bowl Odds: 100-1

Analysis: Has a team had as bad an offseason as the Bengals this offseason? The Bengals FINALLY made a good move in letting Marvin Lewis leave, replacing him with 36-year-old Zac Taylor but since then they have done very little to inspire confidence going into this season.

They spent very little in the offseason, John Miller will likely start at guard for them but he isn’t exactly great. Kerry Wynn and BW Webb were both backups for the Giants and will likely struggle to get into the Bengals rotation in the defensive line and secondary respectively. Many have questioned the quality of the Bengals draft class, which is now under more scrutiny with top pick Jonah Williams likely missing the entirety of the 2019 following surgery on a torn labrum. Star receiver AJ Green suffered ligament damage in a preseason practice session and will now likely miss 6 to 8 weeks, oft-injured speedster John Ross was expected to have a bigger role this year but he’s been out with a hamstring injury since July.

There just isn’t a lot to talk about with the Bengals, their draft was underwhelming, their offseason additions don’t inspire confidence and they’ve suffered injuries to two of their most important players this season. The only real positives for this team is that they do have talented young players and have one of the best running backs in the league in Joe Mixon. This could be a long year.

Look Out For: The Bengals aren’t going to be good in 2019, I know it’s a bit harsh to be so blunt but they play in a division that features the Ravens, Steelers and much improved Browns. In Andy Dalton you could argue they have the worst starting quarterback in the division and a have an unproven 36-year-old at Head Coach, that’s just not a recipe for success in 2019.

2019 Season Prediction

Browns 10-6

Ravens 10-6

Steelers 8-8

Bengals 3-13

Podcast 40 – Week 3 Match Preview

Lee Wakefield (our NEW co-host) joins us to preview EVERY week 3 matchup giving you everything from sit/start decisions to what the betting lines are.

We review the Thursday Night Football game where the Browns finally got the Bud Light fridge open and the takeaways from that game (there were many!).

This is the 1st part of 2 podcasts this weekend. Check out part 2 for Kickers Corner with the boys fro the Kickers Matter Podcast, Punting with Adam Walford (@touchdowntips) and Roger Goodgroves joins us to talk about the officiating in the first few weeks including his very special trip to Florida to meet a GOAT.

Passing the Baton – Which rookie QB sees the field first?

So draft season is finally over, the rookies have had their mini camps and will now be joined by their veteran colleagues to battle for starting positions and roster spots. There were 5 Quarterbacks selected in the first round of the draft this year, which means there are 5 QB’s around the league who are looking around and seeing someone who is there to take their job. What I’m going to do is take you through how long I think it’ll take for each of the 5 rookies to see the field.

I’m approaching this without taking past or potential injuries into account. I’m not a doctor, nor can I predict the future.

 

Baker Mayfield

Tyrod Taylor has already been named as starter for the 2018 season by Hue Jackson and he’s even gone so far to say that the plan is for Baker to sit the whole season. I think this is a smart plan, however I’m not too sure how clever it was to announce it to the world. He’s put pressure on himself and his coaching staff by backing Taylor to deliver, which owners sure fire thing.

Cleveland have been desperate to find a franchise Quarterback and have been for many years. Because of this they’ve have broken young QB’s in the past by throwing them in when they’re simply not ready to play. John Dorsey went out and signed Tyrod Taylor to guard against this happening again, despite wanting to draft a possible franchise saviour soon after.

Taylor is a perfectly capable starter in this league, he’s experienced, everyone knows his strengths and weaknesses; he’s not going to turn the ball over and can extend plays and drives with his legs but he isn’t going to make a tonne of big throws or win a game on his own.

Taylor has been equipped with more than adequate weaponry this off season and on paper, the Browns’ offense looks like it could cause some problems for other teams. If the offense ticks over, puts points on the board and Cleveland win a few games, the pressure will be off and it’ll just be up to Baker to soak up knowledge and be a good teammate.

Mayfield will play in the pre season and playing against backups, he’ll probably look pretty good and get a lot of people excited. This will put pressure back on Jackson and on Taylor. If Taylor doesn’t perform, fans will be calling for the number 1 overall pick and Jackson will be on the hot seat. Mayfield being the competitor he is, he’ll be planning on getting on the field as soon as possible but this all comes down to coaching and pressure. How will his pan out?

I think Cleveland will be much improved this season and I think they’ll win at least 6 games but their schedule is pretty tough the start off. With this in mind they’ll be out of the playoff race between week 12 and 14, so when the games become meaningless, they’ll probably test the waters with Mayfield.

 

Prediction: First start, week 13 vs. Texans.

 

Sam Darnold

The path to the field feels easier for Darnold in comparison to Mayfield as his situation in New York sees him pitted against an aging veteran and a player who is returning from a major knee injury.

Josh McCown to me, is a non-factor in this QB battle and was brought in more for his leadership and mentoring skills inside the locker room. Todd Bowles did name McCown as the starter but that was prior to drafting Darnold and September is still a long time away.

So it boils down to Darnold vs. Bridgewater. Teddy’s surgically repaired knee was something he “wasn’t comfortable talking about” in March and has only just made it back to the practice field. Bridgewater is only guaranteed $500,000 of the $6 million contract, so if the knee doesn’t check out, he might not even make the team and his career is most likely done.

I’m hoping that the knee is fine and if that’s the case the former Viking almost certainly has the inside track to the starting job. Bridgewater has done it in the NFL and performed at a good level, if he can do so in white and green, he’ll be an upgrade on what the Jets have been fielding at Quarterback recently.

On the other side of the battle, Sam Darnold was rated by many as the best QB available in the draft and he was widely tipped to be taken with the first overall pick. So he’s clearly talented but like the rest of the 2018 QB class, he’s got his flaws. In college he turned the ball over far too much and I’m sure Todd Bowles and the Jets coaching staff would prefer to sit him for a while whilst he works out the kinks.

However like Hue Jackson, Bowles will be coming under fire from fans and the media if the Jets have a stuttering start. There will be clamour to throw Darnold in to try to kick start the team and jolt them into life. Since the supporting cast is pretty poor and it’ll be throwing Darnold to the wolves a little bit and be asking too much of his improvisational skills but it may the the last roll of the dice from Bowles.

I don’t see the Jets making much noise this season, their schedule is pretty favourable to start off, with winnable games early. In the flip side, those teams will be looking at the Jets and thinking the same.

 

Prediction: First start, week 9 vs. Dolphins

 

Josh Allen

So this is where it gets really interesting. Josh Allen is the least pro ready of all of the first round QB’s but he also has the least competition for the starting role.

As the veteran, A.J. McCarron has the inside track and Bills officials have actually said that to begin camp, Allen will start as QB3 on the depth chart, ahead of Nate Peterman. Yep, this isn’t a great Quarterback situation in upstate New York.

Whilst it’s usual for the message coming from Head Coaches to be that the veteran player will start, I kind of believe this one.

The lack of a star QB and the lack of talent across the offence as a whole plays into McCarron’s hands in terms of his chances to play. McCarron has been in the building longer, so he’s had more time with the play book so therefore should pick up quicker, plus the game should also be “slower” for McCarron too. Nathan Peterman had a horrible debut in Los Angeles but at least he’s been a pro for 12 months and knows the play book. On the flip side of this, Allen really needs to spend at least a year working on a lot of aspects of playing the position and learning how to be an NFL player as opposed to being in college and having class to deal with alongside football.

Sean McDermott should know this and we shouldn’t see Allen until 2019 at the very earliest. It will also be up to McDermott to resist the temptation to throw Allen in too early as a first round pick in the event that things are turning sour. The Head Coach shouldn’t be on the hot seat at any point throughout the season so this should help the situation and Allen’s development in the long run.

McCarron will likely play the whole season barring injury and barring Buffalo being a complete mess. His deal is a 2 year deal but it’s structured in a way that the Bills can get rid of him after 12 months without too much of a financial penalty.

 

Prediction: First start, week 1, 2019 season.

Josh Rosen

From the least pro ready to the QB who is most pro ready. Josh Rosen endured a mini slide on draft night but the Cardinals did well to trade up to the 10th overall pick to claim their man under center for the foreseeable future. Standing in his way are Mike Glennon and the oft injured Sam Bradford. I feel like Rosen could bypass both of his veteran colleagues during the pre season and wrap up the starting job. I am going to go out on a limb and say that he will do exactly that too. Here’s why…

So firstly, Mike Glennon was quickly displaced by Mitchell Trubrisky last season in Chicago and I think Rosen is a better QB now than Trubrisky was a year ago. So personally, I don’t see Glennon as much of a factor, I see him as the likely QB3 on this team. The Cardinals said they were going to be aggressive in drafting a QB and they were and brought in Bradford to compete, they brought in Glennon for if Bradford gets hurt.

So on to Bradford; he’s certainly a talented guy but he’s just not been healthy enough throughout his career, which is a real shame but it’s just the way it goes for some players. How healthy is he currently? How much permanent damage has been done? Will he ever be the same as he once was? These are all big question marks hanging over him at this stage. He’s obviously fit enough to pass a physical but is he just a ticking time bomb? Lots of questions.

Then onto Rosen. He slid mainly due to character concerns but unless he completely hates the game of football and isn’t committed long term to being a pro, is it unusual for a young man to have other interests? Not really. A lot of people who know him or know of him say stuff along the lines of, coaches have to challenge him intellectually. Well, New Arizona Offensive Coordinator, Mike McCoy runs quite a complex system, which is a variation of the West coast offense. So that should keep Rosen’s mind from wandering. Like I said, I think we’ll be seeing the new era start early in the desert.

 

Prediction: First start, week 1 @ Redskins.

 

Lamar Jackson

I think it was quite telling that Baltimore traded back into the first round to select Jackson and therefore have the 5th year option built into his rookie deal – they see him and their offense with a long term view.

When you look at Joe Flacco, you’ll see a prototypical Quarterback; tall, strong, big arm… you look over at #8, Lamar Jackson, he’s the completely different… he’s tall but lean, he’s mobile and he looks more like your modern day signal caller.

Joe Flacco is on his way out, he’s probably got a year or two left but his days are numbered. So is the offense too, that’ll be left behind with Flacco. Jackson being drafted signalled that a new era is imminent in Baltimore.

This total remodel of the offensive side of the ball will take time though and that’s a good thing for Jackson too. He’s got his flaws that he himself recognises and the fact that Flacco is entrenched as the starter gives everyone the time to work on the future whilst the present ticks along.

Baltimore won’t want to ostracise their Superbowl winning QB just yet either so all this points towards a season on the bench for Jackson in 2018, if not beyond. Obviously if Flacco gets hurt they will incorporate some elements into the offense which play to Jackson’s strengths, because they will be forced to throw him into the deep end in the event that Flacco’s troublesome back flares up, for example.

The Ravens also made a nice move bringing in Robert Griffin III too. RGIII will probably be used as a mentor for Jackson as a mobile QB and once Flacco is gone, they will then have two QB’s with similar styles – More long term thinking in Baltimore, something good teams do well.

 

Prediction: First start, mid 2019 season.

 

NFL Draft 2018: Round 1 Analysis: Picks 1-10

First things first: I just about managed to break even on the NFL draft bets. Had Vita Vea fell 1 more place to the Redskins (who would have taken him as they also took a defensive tackle…annoying), it would have been fairly profitable.

As it was my first experience of watching the draft (watched on Sky Sports, who had the NFL network coverage) was fairly enjoyable..more so had it been profitable I suppose.

Things started badly with Baker Mayfield going first overall, when I pinned my Sam Darnold colours to the mast and was fairly dismissive of the Saquon Barkley to the Giants pick, which I still believe was a bad decision by the Giants and it will be interesting how the rest of their picks pan out addressing the holes on the defence and to this point, not picking a QB (and still havent at the end of round 3).

The NAP selection was an ultimate sweat, with it taking the Ravens trading in to the last pick of the first round to select Lamar Jackson. I really tilted when the Patriots passed on him twice and figured that the bets were all going to go down the pan, but luckily, we got out of jail.

I think next year, I will just sit and enjoy the draft and enjoy it for what it is. I found that with the draft, because the possibilities are endless, it is impossible to be happy with just a single bet or 2 and always try and find an angle that is not there and end up hedging all over the place. If I do end up having a bet next year (let’s face it, it’s likely), it may just be simple bets like total number of QBs/WRs/etc to be drafted in the first round. No long accas, no predictions on the first 3 picks etc.

Anyway, moving to the point of the article, the analysis of the first round. This will also be in a podcast coming your way later in the week where Lee Wakefield will join me to discuss the NFL draft, focusing on the first few rounds.

The accolade of the first overall pick in an NFL draft for 2018 was decided when the Cleveland Browns picked Baker Mayfield, confirming the stories coming out on the day and a few days before. I was quite surprised that Baker did not attend the draft in Dallas actually,  especially considering he was a lock for a top 5 pick (further to that point, why is it not mandatory for the top 10 picks (or assumed top 10 picks) to be in the house for the draft. Are there any rules or is it just a location thing? Answers on a postcard please.

Baker Mayfield for me, was always going to be my best bet at the QB that is likely to be the most successful out of the “Big 4”. Sam Darnold also ticked a lot of boxes, but if you have followed the blog or my social media, we love Baker Mayfield. He will be exciting to watch and Cleveland will be a fascinating team to follow in the 2018 season (really hope they are the “Hard Knocks” or “All or Nothing” team next year. Baker has a perfect QB to learn from in Tyrod Taylor and hopefully, Baker will be able to compete for the starting job, but ultimately sit for a year. There will be no pressure to put the guy in and I think if Cleveland were clever (not always the case), they would use Tyrod this year to ensure that the offensive line is perfect for when Baker steps in and steps up to the plate.

For fantasy, he will have a good floor with his running ability and his accuracy, and I don’t think the landing spot in Cleveland will kill his ceiling either. He will have weapons and a pair of safe hands in Jarvis Landry (if he stays past 2018).

The only thing restricting him from thriving will be Hue Jackson, the Head Coach. Whilst they have some weird play calls coming from him ( remember the few 4th down calls last year to try and win games instead of kicking field goals against the Jets), he is simply not what that organisation needs. I’m not overly enamoured with his coaching style, his culture and how he has stayed in a job whilst winning only 1 game in 2 years is truly a miracle. Their misses on QBs in the last few drafts are comical, choosing the likes of Kizer and Kessler over Deshaun Watson and hell, even Mitch Trubisky.

I really hope for Baker’s, the Cleveland Browns and the NFL’s sake, that their #1 pick in the 2018 draft will not fizzle out and kill his talents and his style of play.

Pick number 2 in the draft is the one that will forever divide opinion until we have the hindsight to know whether it was a good call or a bad call by Dave Gettleman and the New York football Giants. Saquon Barkley is now a Giant and was argued beforehand as one of the best prospects at Running Back for the past 15 years. That’s a pretty high accolade when coming in to the league. The New York Giants arguably had bigger needs than at running back (though, that was also a need considering their current depth there) but they decided that he was the best player in the draft, and they selected him. Whilst it will take a little while to pan out and see how he does in this offence, I think it is now even more intriguing as to how the Giants go about the rest of their draft.

They signed Nate Solder from New England, which is a good move for the offensive line (and they subsequently selected Will Hernandez in the second round) but their defensive needs up front with the exit of Jason Pierre-Paul was the main reason why I thought that Bradley Chubb should have been selected here. Whether or not the new GM Gettleman and new HC Pat Shurmur feel like they will take the “we’ll score more than you” approach this year or they just wanted to sort out the running back position once and for all, it’s undeniable that Saquon is the “name” of the draft and it will alleviate some media pressure and ensure that people still wanted to queue an hour for parking beforehand to turn up to MetLife stadium and drink overpriced beer. Things could turn sour quite quickly however, and I have likened to Barkley in this offence like a Ferrari in rush hour, not going anywhere.

A main criticism of Barkley going in to the draft was the fact that he rarely put his head down and gained the tough yards, instead opting for tippy tapping around in the backfield to find a hole. This may lead to some poor ypc averages for Barkley if Solder and their draft picks cannot sort out the lanes or blocking for their new running back. As there are a lot of haters on this pick, it will need to reap rewards fairly quickly otherwise a lot of people will turn quickly in New York and it wont take much for that to happen. Overall, if I were a Giants fan, I think I can trust Gettleman and Shurmur with the dealings here and it’s just fortunate that Ben McAdoo is no longer there.

From a fantasy perspective, Barkley will get a full workload from the get go. His pass catching ability will mean that he will likely go in the first round of your fantasy drafts.

It would surprise to see Barkley easily surpass 1000 yards, but the touchdowns may not be there as much as people expect. It will be imperative that Nate Solder helps that offensive line hugely and elevates the play of those around him (along with any players they accumulate in the draft).

Moving to pick 3 by the New York Jets, they sure did hit the jackpot. With hindsight, they got exactly what they would’ve wanted from pick 3, the choice of QB. Darnold, Allen and Rosen were sitting there waiting and they were proactive in deciding that they wanted to choose their destiny in the draft. With the Giants seemingly happy to not go a Quarterback in the first round, they guaranteed themselves either Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold. And that has to be a big win for the franchise. Darnold ticks a lot of boxes and will likely be successful in the league for a long time, something the Jets have looked at settling at the Quarterback position since Ken O’Brien. Like the Browns, the Jets have struggled to have a competent QB for more than 2 years in succession and set their stall out early in the offseason when trading their 2nd Round picks with the Colts to move up to 3. The back office will be in danger of losing their positions at the end of the season should this one not work out but I believe they have selected correctly here (Josh Allen could have been a disaster here). Like the Giants, the Jets have a few other holes to plug in the draft and I am sure that they will all be tailored around ensuring that Darnold has the best chance to succeed (mainly because they don’t have a lot of picks left, with no pick in round 2).

One thing is for sure, they will be talking about this draft for years to come in New York… because it could be the year the Jets surpassed them and became a better team (not the team with the best players), all because the Giants didn’t go QB and the Jets did.

Fantasy-wise, Darnold should slide straight in to the lineup and is one for dynasty leagues as this team are kind of still in rebuild mode. Robby Anderson could miss a lot of time, if not the whole season. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has left and only Terrelle Pryor has joined the ranks at this point.

The first shock of the draft happened at pick 4; No the Browns didn’t trade back and they didn’t pick Bradley Chubb. The Browns select Denzel Ward, the Corner from Ohio State. Not too much to discuss here from a fantasy perspective but it was surprising to most people that they didn’t go Chubb to partner their #1 pick last year in Myles Garrett and have a loaded front defensive line.

Chubb didn’t have much longer to wait in the draft, however, and was immediately selected at pick 5 by John Elway and the Denver Broncos. He partners Von Miller to bolster back up that defence. The way that the first 4 picks turned out proved to be decisive, as the Bills reportedly had a trade in place for the Bills to come up to pick 5. But as Chubb was there, Denver cut the deal off and selected Chubb so clearly they felt he was going to be picked by the Giants or the Browns, too.

Quenton Nelson is now a Colt in the most non-surprising pick of the draft at number 6. He will be a multi year pro bowler and will have the job of protecting Andrew Luck for years to come. You would expect the Colts to continue to fill their cheese grater of a squad with their multiple 2nd round picks.

The Bills finally managed to get in the top 10 at pick 7, selecting Josh Allen in what will be a meticulously analysed pick in the next few years. Many suggest that Allen is the most likely bust candidate from the top 4 QBs that were selected. He looks to be a Buffalo type player, has a crazy strength arm and will be erratic, but Buffalo will likely still be a run first team this season, mainly due to the lack of weapons for Allen to throw to. He isn’t touchable in fantasy, maybe not even in dynasty leagues due to his errors and how prone he is to errant passes. Buffalo on the whole aren’t going to be a goldmine for fantasy, and that includes LeSean McCoy. That said, the arm strength Allen possesses, may just about keep the defences honest, something Tyrod was never really able to do.

Chicago boosted their linebacking depth with Roquan Smith in a move most saw coming at pick 8, whilst San Francisco went offensive line at pic 9 with Mike McGlinchey, ensuring that their star QB doesn’t hit the deck much.

Chicago, who overhauled their offence in the free agency, should continue to bolster the front 7 in the draft. The 49ers have similar needs to the Bears, but decided against addressing that in the 1st round.  For fantasy purposes, these 2 defences will be middle of the road defences and will rely a bit on their respective offences staying on the field, scoring and putting the pressure back on the opposing teams offences, rather than their own defence.

Pick 10 saw the Arizona Cardinals possibly beat Miami to the punch, trading with Oakland and selecting the final QB of the big 4. Josh Rosen will sit behind Sam Bradford (until he gets injured) and will be a nice fit there in desert county. Similar to Buffalo, Arizona will need to give Allen some WR to throw to in the coming years, especially with Larry Fitzgerald likely retiring after this season. Don’t be surprised if Arizona address the WR position later in the draft.

So there are the first 10 picks in the draft covered. Below are the best and worst picks of the rounds:

Best Pick: Quenton Nelson – Indianapolis

The Colts have a long way to go in order to fill their gaps on both sides of the ball, but Quenton Nelson falling to 6, who could be a future Hall of Fame type player is a great start.

Worst Pick: Josh Allen

May be a cop out here, but Josh Allen could have fallen to them at 12 and Josh Allen is possibly the riskiest proposition of the big 4 QBs. Likely to start early in the season, if not week 1, Allen will have a steep learning curve to overcome if he is to avoid being the next Nathan Peterman.

Picks 11-21 will be up sometime Sunday evening.

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Thank you for your support.

 

Mock Draft 3.0 w/Lee Wakefield

Lee Wakefield here, back again for Mock Draft 3.0 for The Full 10 Yards and this time we’re going to get a little wild! I’ve drawn up something that’s a little bit alternative and thrown in a few players who could go in the first round but who I don’t necessarily feel will have their name called next Thursday night. This also gives you an insight into more players, as opposed to it being the same 32 players each time just in a different order. Also, trades are included and there are a few… So let’s go! I hope you think it’s more “Philly Special” than that weird fake punt that The Colts tried to run against The Patriots a few years ago.

#1. Cleveland Browns – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

This would put the cat amongst the pigeons, wouldn’t it? Everyone seems to be of the opinion that The Browns are choosing between Sam Darnold and Josh Allen here. The Browns are going to pick Darnold but in this alternative reality, Cleveland picks Mayfield, the most accurate QB in the class. The fact that Mayfield seemingly isn’t even in the conversation to be the first overall pick, despite completing 70% of his passes in both of his final two years as a Sooner, is kind of weird to me. Allen, who is very much in the conversation, has never hit 60% in any season in Wyoming. To me this shows how much value fans, writers and General Managers place in measurables like height, weight and “arm strength”. Allen looks like a quarterback dressed in his uniform or in shorts and a t-shirt but last time I checked the job of the quarterback in the throw the ball to your guys, not throw it really far. Mayfield isn’t perfect but if he was 6”2 or 3, he’d be the consensus number 1 pick. No doubt.

#2. New York Giants – Bradley Chubb, Edge, N.C. State

This pick could go multiple ways, including The Giants trading back. I think New York and Dave Gettleman still believe in Eli Manning as a starting calibre QB and earlier in the off season, they were complimentary about Davis Webb as a player, so they may feel like they have a capable backup and possible future bridge QB who already has experience in their system. Quenton Nelson is going to be a great player for many years but #2 overall is probably going to be too rich for any guard, even if the position has become more valuable in recent years. So for me, it’s come down to Saquon Barkley or Bradley Chubb here. Chubb is the bigger need due to the trade of Jason Pierre-Paul and the draft class is much deeper at running back in comparison to pass rusher. New York also has a history of great pass rushers to continue, so Chubb heads to The Big Apple.

#3. New York Jets – Sam Darnold, QB, USC

 As a result of Mayfield being taken first overall, The Jets have the choice of Darnold, Rosen or Allen at 3. I know this is a slightly alternative mock but there’s really no point in considering any other position here, even with the presence of Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown on the roster. Darnold needs to work on his ball security but The Jets have Bridgewater who was a very capable player before his devastating knee injury and essentially a player/QB Coach in McCown, so bringing Darnold in and having him learn from both of them could be the ideal scenario. They’ve already seemingly given up on their last project QB, in Christian Hackenberg, without any success, so I don’t see Allen being the pick here as he’s essentially the same player.

#4. Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn. State

 The Browns are back on the clock and with two of the big four QB’s still on the board, they’ll be taking some calls from teams in need of a signal caller. However they resist all offers and take Barkley to complete the offence as they are in “win now” mode after years of production by the factory of sadness. They also have lots more picks to fill their other areas of need so adding blue chip talent at the top of the draft is the smart thing to do. The Browns are often the butt of jokes in the NFL but to me, their roster really isn’t that far away from being really competitive. Mayfield or Tyrod Taylor, Barkley, Carlos Hyde, Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku and a decent offensive line looks like a unit that can put up points in Todd Haley’s system. Cleveland have a good front seven, headlined by Myles Garrett, Jamie Collins and Pro Bowler, Joe Schobert. They need a cornerback and some more depth pieces but Cleveland are coming.

#5. Denver Broncos – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

 John Elway could take another swing from the fences in an attempt to find Denver’s next franchise QB but chose to select the best player available instead. They brought in Case Keenum to pilot the offence, which to me, says they’re probably going to play it safe on offence via the pass and run the ball often. I think that they would love to pick up Barkley to support this way of playing and make him the focal point of the offence and I believe there could be a chance of Denver calling The Giants to try to move up to the second overall pick so that they get ahead of Cleveland at four. I seriously considered this scenario for this but I think they’d prefer Chubb over Nelson so want to stay put. As I mentioned above, the draft class is deep at running back this year so Elway and The Broncos take Nelson to keep Keenum upright and to open up holes for a new rookie or one of their other young guns in the back field. The release of C.J Anderson is a little puzzling given he just topped 1,000 yards for the first time in his career and played a full 16 game slate, this past year. Maybe Denver are looking at a potential second round selection at the position and Anderson is a couple of years away from hitting the dreaded 30 years old mark, which usually marks a decline in production. Another reason why Nelson is the pick here, as he makes their running backs better.

#6. [TRADE] Buffalo Bills – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA [Colts receive 2018 first round picks, 12th and 22nd overall]

 Still two QB’s on the board and this may represent a little bit of a slide for Rosen, whom many consider the best quarterback available this year. The reason for the slide is down to the fact that Rosen has already had some serious wear and tear despite not having taken an NFL snap as of yet. Shoulder injuries and concussions are pretty serious concerns for a young QB as well. In addition to this, there are reports that Rosen can be difficult to coach and may rub coaches and teammates up the wrong way and the dreaded question of, “does he really love football?” has been mentioned. Rosen is evidently at least a little bit of a polarizing character, topped off by the fact that his college Head Coach, Jim Mora, said in an interview that he would pick Sam Darnold over Rosen if he was an NFL GM. Concerning at least, outright damming at worst. He’s also the worst athlete of the so-called big four, which closes some doors (although definitely not all) as some schemes and OC’s want at least a certain level of athletic agility under centre. Fortunately for Rosen, he’s still a good quarterback and there are QB needy teams aplenty, so he’ll still be selected high. The Bills would almost certainly be delighted in this scenario.

#7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derwin James, S, Florida State

 If this pick went in, I feel like Derwin James has a chance at being John Lynch reincarnated for The Bucs. James is an alpha male who can be take over the defensive back room and become a leader of the defence, along with Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy. I feel that wherever he lands, the fire and passion for the game that James has, combines with his skill set as a safety, will raise the level of those around him. He reminds me a little bit of fellow ex-FSU DB, Jalen Ramsey, in the sense that he’s chippy and plays with a point to prove and I’m sure practices against another FSU alumnus, Jameis Winston would be very interesting!

#8. Chicago Bears – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

 I’m almost certain that Chicago will take a linebacker at 8. Edmunds has been compared with Bears great, Brian Urlacher, Vic Fangio has coached linebacking gods like Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis… this all makes far too much sense. Chicago have lost Parnell McPhee and Jurrell Freeman too, so they need to fill a couple of spots on their roster and Edmunds has the versatility to fill one or both of those roles. I like him next to Danny Trevathan in the centre of The Bears 3-4 base defence but in sub packages, he could be used as a pass rusher alongside Leonard Floyd and Aaron Lynch.

#9. San Francisco 49ers – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

 As I said in my last mock, Reuben Foster is not going to see a football field as a professional, for a long time and nor should he. With this in mind, I now can’t see anyone here aside from either Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith. Due to more ideal size, length and also since he’s younger, I see Edmunds probably going first bit if I’m right, Smith isn’t a bad consolation prize. He’s going play in the league for a long time at a high level, despite concerns that he is undersized. Smith is a top 5 player in this draft class so to get him at 9 and immediately replace a problem on your team is a good pick.

#10. Oakland Raiders – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

 After the last two picks that I see as close to being locks, I’m going to drop a bombshell. If he didn’t have a heart scare at the combine, this is where Maurice Hurst would be being mocked on the regular. Based on talent alone, Hurst is a top 10 player and here, he just about sneaks into the top 10 with Oakland taking the plunge, especially given that Oakland are switching to a base 4-3 defence. Oakland do have bigger needs but they could go for BPA at this point. The D line could use a boost with both tackle spots being manned by mid round picks from the past few years. Hurst gives The Raiders a top talent who should give them some interior pass rush and help to give Mario Edwards and Khalil Mack some help when trying to get to the QB.

 

#11. Miami Dolphins – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

 So to a lot of people this would be a big shock. To me, this is still too high but I’ll roll with it anyway. Miami needs a quarterback, despite having Ryan Tannehill under contract as don’t believe they see him as the long term solution at the sport’s most important position since he’s 30 years old and coming off an ACL tear. Obviously in Tannehill, Miami do have a capable starter and could be used as a bridge QB whilst they develop Allen and as I have expressed a lot over these mock drafts, Allen needs to be given time, and I mean years, before he gets on the field. If he gets thrown in the deep end in year 1, it could ruin the team’s season, Allen as a player and the career of the General Manager who picks him.

#12. [TRADE] Indianapolis Colts – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

 So after trading back again in the first, Indy finally makes a pick and what a pick this is. This is an absolute bargain. The top corner in the whole class has dropped right into their laps at 12th overall! It fills a big need for The Colts and gives them another blue chip prospect in the defensive backfield alongside Malik Hooker and this continues the rebuild on that side of the ball for Indianapolis. Ward could go as high as 4 in my opinion, depending on whether The Browns stay there or trade back and also how the rest of the top 5-10 picks pan out. As I have mentioned previously, the real value of a team like The Browns or Colts trading back with a QB need squad, is that they get to gather more picks and possibly more first round picks to fill out their roster with top end players.

#13. Washington Redskins – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

 Derrius Guice could go this high if someone out there really believes in him. There are plenty of people out there who do believe a hell of lot in him, some even think he’s a better prospect than Saquon Barkley. The ‘Skins need a running back because they need to spread the load and give Alex Smith an outlet, as everyone knows he’s not a world beater through the air and is very much a dink-and-dunk QB. Guice would give great balance to Jay Gruden’s offence and is much better than anyone on their depth chart and has a higher ceiling, despite them recently drafting Samaje Perine last year. The Redskins have pretty good offensive line to open up the holes for Guice too, which could mean they can control the clock on offence and therefore control the game, especially when they have Alex Smith a QB to manage the game for them.

#14. Green Bay Packers – Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College

 I feel like this is Harold Landry’s floor, I cannot see Green Bay letting the second ranked pass rusher in the class slide by. They need freshen up on edge players and on defence as a whole. Corner is a possibility here too but pass rusher is more valuable in the league nowadays and I would personally rank Landry above the cornerbacks in the tier below Denzel Ward, especially since Green Bay could be hoping that at least one of those guys will be around for them to pick in the second. I think this will also be seen as a bargain pick in years to come too, as I said in my last mock, Landry has had big production in college and still no one is talking about those Von Miller esque combine numbers.

On a side note; I have seen Green Bay mocked as a possible trade back in a few mocks that I have come across but I really don’t see it as they already own 12 picks in the draft, so therefore don’t need any more. However, they could use some of those later round selections to move up in the mid rounds, should a player they really like be falling towards them at some point.

#15. Arizona Cardinals – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

 Entering the top 15 is an alternative WR1 for this class and in comparison to my guy, Anthony Miller, Ridley is probably a player you’ve heard more about. He played at a top, Power 5 college programme and has had national title success in a pro style offensive system. Ridley possesses rare speed and impeccable route running for a player who hasn’t played in the NFL yet. His drawbacks are his age, he’ll be 23 when he enters the league and due to both the nature of Alabama’s offence being run heavy and below average quarterback play, Ridley’s college production doesn’t jump off the page at you. The Cardinals need to fill a lot of holes and need players to hit the ground running and this is part of the reason why I feel like this is a nice fit. Ridley is safe. He’s not going to take as much time to adjust to the pros as players who have come from lesser colleges, like Anthony Miller. Ridley can come in and learn what he can from Larry Fitzgerald and then take over from him once The Cards legend hangs them up.

#16. Baltimore Ravens – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

 Long time Ravens General Manager, Ozzy Newsome is retiring after this season. One thing Ozzy Newsome has done for a long time is select players from his old college, Alabama. In this scenario, Newsome gets his final draft off to the perfect start, in that Alabama defensive back, Minkah Fitzpatrick drops right into his bread basket at 16. Not only is he delighted about which school Fitzpatrick attended but also that this is another absolute bargain pick in this mock draft. He would be a chess piece that new DC, Wink Martindale would have fun moving all over his defence and he could form a nice trio of safeties with Tony Jefferson and Eric Weddle. Weddle came out recently saying that he likes what Martindale is bringing to the table and that the defence looks to be more aggressive. Fitzpatrick’s playmaking abilities will help that and boost a defence which had a nasty habit of blowing leads and giving up yards a year ago.

#17. Los Angeles Chargers – Mike McGlinchley, OT, Notre Dame

 This pick would complete the offensive line for The Bolts and probably make it one of the best units in the game today. A sneaky stat from last year was that Los Angeles actually gave up the least sacks of any team in the league and that was with Spencer Pulley at the pivot, no Forest Lamp all year and a bit of turnover at the right tackle position. Now The Chargers have Mike Pouncey on board, Lamp back from injury and with this pick, McGlinchley locking down the right side of Philip Rivers’ line. The protection should be even better which is dangerous for The Chargers opponents as it gives Rivers more time to pick his pass. However the main reason it will benefit the team will be that the line will be far more better equipped to open up holes in the running game as they are now comprised of better blockers and better athletes. This is how HC, Anthony Lynn wants his offence to operate and is further aided by the free agent signing of Virgil Green, an excellent blocking tight end. This is evidence that The Charges want to go this way and why they select the best offensive tackle in the draft here.

#18. Seattle Seahawks – Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

 This could be considered as a big reach here. This could also be Seattle replacing Richard Sherman with Richard Sherman 2.0. Davis is a big, physical cover man with excellent traits to play the position at a high level for a long time. He is used to going toe to toe with the best wide receivers in the SEC, the best conference in college football, which gives him a lead start compared to other guys in this class. It is said that in practice, Auburn QB, Jarrett Stidham shied away from throwing the ball to Davis’ side of the field because he knew it had a higher chance of being an incomplete pass…Sounds a little bit like another corner who didn’t get targeted often and had the ability to lock down one half of the field, doesn’t it? This is another great fit for Seattle who I figure to draft heavily on the defensive side of the the ball next Thursday night.

#19. Dallas Cowboys – Vita Vea, DT, Washington

 Dallas don’t have a bad roster at all and could be a position to just take the best player available. Now, they obviously have a big need at wide receiver after Dez Bryant was cut at the back end of last week and players like Anthony Miller, D.J. Moore and Christian Kirk are definitely in play here but it may be considered it to be too rich for any wide receiver to be taken at 19 and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if we didn’t see a wideout taken on Thursday night, at all, as it’s a class which generally lacks star power. Although I do think there are some good pass catchers in the draft. Dallas also has a hole at safety but when your division rivals are the current Superbowl champions and two other teams who want to get better quickly, you have to match that ambition. Hence why Vea is the pick here as BPA. Like I’ve mentioned with other interior D linemen, he will make the pass rushers in the team better as a man of his size and athletic ability will command double teams, thus taking away attention from other players.

#20. Detroit Lions – Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

 As I’ve mentioned in previous mocks, Detroit hasn’t had a ball carrier of note for a long, long time and that needs to change if they’re ever going to make any noise in a crowded NFC North and if they aren’t going to waste Matt Stafford’s career. Michel is definitely RB3 in a strong class and will provide The Lions with a hard running back to take the strain off Stafford and the passing attack. Jim-Bob Cooter could also use Michel as a pass catcher out of the back field and get creative in that way, as he has shown evidence in college of having soft hands and being a capable receiver during his time at Georgia. I mention this a lot with running backs and about when an offence has a capable one paired with a good quarterback, it adds balance and the ability for that offence to control the game clock. Always useful when you play up north, in cold weather against other teams who rely on running the ball well and keeping the ball out of your hands. Especially if that means keeping that Aaron Rodgers bloke from getting on the field as much.

#21. Cincinnati Bengals – Connor Williams, OT, Texas

 Much Like the fact I’ve mentioned about the Lions needing a running back before, I am going to keep saying that The Bengals need to revamp their offensive line. Williams is a player I haven’t mocked here before but I’ve previously gone for Isaiah Wynn and Mike McGlinchley – One guard and one tackle, now I’m going for a player who could in theory play either of those positions, giving Cincinnati an element of flexibility moving forward as they surely add more players to their offensive line. I would play Williams at right tackle opposite Cordy Glenn to start with, giving The Bengals two good bookends. If I was them I would also double down, adding a guard or centre prospect in rounds 2 or 3. They have to give Joe Mixon some running lanes and keep Andy Dalton clean if they are to have any chance moving forward.

#22. [TRADE] Indianapolis Colts – Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

 The Colts used their trade down from 6 to enable themselves to really pick up a greater number of top prospects to really refresh their roster quickly. Earlier on they picked up a defensive player and now they flip over to the other side of the ball and take their running back of the future. Ronald Jones is another of the top backs in the class, he isn’t quite Saquon Barkley but he is going to be a very useful back and is in the second tier of runners alongside the likes of Derrius Guice and Sony Michel. All four have a big chance to go in the first round, especially if a couple are off the board early on and it creates and bit of a rush for players at that position. Frank Gore has been pretty decent for Indy since he came over from San Francisco a few years back and still managed over 950 yards at the age of 34, last season and did crack the 1,000 yard mark the year before last. In doing so however, he has been a massive anomaly in terms of doing so at his age. Jones will take the pressure of Andrew Luck or Jacoby Brissett and be a reliable runner who should delivery more yards per attempt score than Gore did, which was only 3.7.

#23. New England Patriots – Rashaan Evans – LB, Alabama

 I’m going back here again with Evans ending up is New England as it just makes too much sense should the board end up falling like this. There are plenty of linebacker needy teams who will be waiting to pounce before the 31st pick, should The Patriots be silly enough to wait and when do New England do silly things? (Throwing a pass to Tom Brady perhaps? I hear you say), not very often, so this has to happen now. Evans has the big time and big game experience to work well in The New England defence and he also possesses enough versatility to cope at different spots in this complex and multifaceted defence.

#24. Carolina Panthers – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

 Here’s another new name for you and another wide receiver. Christian Kirk is a player I really like. I feel like he’s a good fit for the Carolina offence too as he’s a little bit different to Devin Funchess and he’s less of a running back than Curtis Samuel. Kirk is a solidly built and sturdy looking receiver, who has good hands, speed and can also help the team he lands on as a punt and kick returner, where he had good success as an Aggie. 24, and maybe the whole first round is possibly a little bit rich for him but I wanted to include him in this alternative setting to get his name out there for those who maybe haven’t heard of him and as a way of recognising how highly I rate him. He’s another one of this class’s smaller, quicker pass catchers who I feel will contribute from very early on in his career.

#25. Tennessee Titans – Josh Sweat, Edge, Florida State

 Another new name for my mocks is Josh Sweat. To some the FSU pass rusher could have been a top 5, if not top 1, player in this class had it not been for a devastating knee injury in his senior year of high school, which resulted in a dislocation of the knee and the rupturing of all the major ligaments of the knee. At one point it looked like Sweat’s leg may have had to have a below knee amputation as it was first feared that there would be artery damage. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case and Sweat is working his way back to having the explosiveness that had him being compared to Jadeveon Clowney. Sweat has ideal length and is talked about as a very coachable as a player, these aspects help him out massively…probably not enough to get him drafted this highly but someone will take a flier on someone with huge upside potential like Sweat. Sometimes they work (Myles Jack), sometime they don’t (Malik McDowell).

#26. [TRADE] Indianapolis Colts – Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA [Atlanta receives 2018, 2nd round pick, 36th overall and 3rd round pick, 67th overall]

 This would make things interesting for Indy as they flip back to the defensive side of the ball. As a team with a lot of high value picks they are well armed to either take a lot of quality players or pull something like this. Here The Colts trade back into the back of the first round, targeting one of the squads with stacked rosters as a trade partner, to pick up another high upside player in Marcus Davenport. Trading back into the first round gives Indianapolis the 5th year option, so it gives players more time to develop under their first contract. As I’ve previously stated, Davenport needs some work and needs to be in a situation where he can come in and play as a situational rusher, rather than a full time starter right away. The Colts don’t possess a bevy of top edge rushers but they have a group of guys who rotate and could use a boost. Davenport would come in and learn from good pros like Jabaal Sheard and John Simon, who have been around the league a little bit and he could possibly be joined by another edge rusher or defensive tackle later in the draft as Indy looks to revamp both the back and front of it’s defence. As I’ve also said, Davenport has the ingredients but it’s really up to him to soak it all in and learn as much as he can, as quickly as he can. If he is successful in doing so, he can be a beast coming off the edge.

#27. New Orleans Saints – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama 

The Saints don’t have a lot of holes in their roster so are a prime candidate to trade as they did in my last mock draft. This could be to trade up, mortgaging their future in order to get a QB to take over from Drew Brees in future or trading back to accumulate more picks so they can do so in future. I think The Saints are going to be good for a while with the roster that they possess, so I doubt they will be picking in the top 10 any time soon, so are likely to need to make a move to find their next long term QB. However, if a team like Atlanta beats them to the trade back and they don’t have a partner, I can see them picking a tackle like Payne or Taven Bryan. Payne is the better player so they go in that direction here and the strong get stronger. Trading away multiple picks is always a little scary and New Orleans have a Superbowl window open the whole time Brees lines up under centre so they’re in “win now” mode.

#28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State 

One of the top four linebackers is available and Pittsburgh have to take him to safeguard their possible post-Ryan Shazier future. As I’ve said, I personally hope we see Shazier back on the field again but the signing of Jon Bostic was another safeguarding move from the front office. Vander Esch does need work but I am a big fan of how he can affect the game in multiple ways. He’ll be an asset for whoever he joins when he gets on the field but this situation where he joins a good team where the pressure isn’t on his shoulders immediately may be best for him, as he isn’t a complete player yet.

#29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville 

What if the Jags don’t want to make a pick to protect Blake Bortles but want to keep an eye on the future should he not blossom into the player they want him to be? Blake was great in the playoffs last year but throughout the season defences began to figure it out and load the box to guard Leonard Fournette and dared the offensive play caller to let Bortles throw it against them. Jacksonville can’t harbour Superbowl ambitions if they are going to allow that to happen again. Jackson is a good quarterback and an electric athlete who can always make a play with his legs, who if coupled with Fournette would be very fun to watch (unless they’re playing against your team). Get the Jags some pass catchers and add in the outrageous defence and Duval could be bringing home the Lombardi soon.

#30. [TRADE] Cleveland Browns – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa [Vikings receive 2018, 2nd round pick, 33rd overall and 4th Round pick, 114th overall] 

We have another trade. Cleveland address another need and use some of the draft capital they’ve stockpiled to get back into the first round. This trade is almost identical to the one they pulled off last year in order to go up and get David Njoku. Jackson is a longer, more physical corner who Gregg Williams should love and should match his aggressive style of coaching. Jackson should play opposite from E.J. Gaines and match up with the bigger wide receivers in the AFC  North. Like I’ve mentioned previously with this kind of trade, this is worthwhile because it gives the team a 5th year option on the player. This means they aren’t a unrestricted free agent until they’re into their 7th year, should the team exercise the option. That’s the majority of the player’s career in most cases which is a lot of control and time to develop a prospect.

  #31. New England Patriots – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville 

Everyone knows The Patriots have three major needs; right tackle, corner and linebacker. The earlier pick of Rashaan Evans fills one need so it comes down to a tackle or a corner here. Since there’s been a run on corners, especially with Cleveland trading up for one and teams like Green Bay probably looking to pick one up in the second round, New England look to jump in and take one whilst there are still really good players available. Alexander fits The Patriots physical, press-man corner style as well so this should be a great fit for both the player and the team.

 

#32. Philadelphia Eagles – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

Philadelphia, as the Superbowl champion, have not got a lot of holes in their roster. So with this in mind, they have a lot of freedom with the 32nd pick. They’re pretty deep at cornerback already but with Hughes they get a super athlete who can help both on defence and in the return game. Hughes only started one year at UCF so he isn’t the most experienced of players but like a few players, he has the physical ingredients to be a great player. Also like a few players in the first round, he is best suited to landing on a good team, who don’t necessarily need him to contribute immediately. This pick also fills the spot of Daryl Worley who was released this last weekend after his DUI and weapons possession arrest and thinking further ahead, Hughes and last year’s first rounder Sidney Jones, could form a nice cornerback tandem for a long time.

 

So there we are, that’s another mock draft in the books from me on behalf of The Full 10 Yards. I hope you enjoyed reading about a few alternative scenarios. With that in mind please take certain picks with a pinch of salt but as always, hit me up with comments and criticism on Twitter (@Wakefield90) or on Facebook. I’ll be appearing on the next Full 10 Yards podcast that will be recorded and released very soon, which I’m very  excited about. So keep an eye out for that one for more draft content, it should be a lot of fun.

Mock Draft 1.0 w/ Lee Wakefield

Hey there, I’m Lee Wakefield and I’ll be here dropping mock drafts like Louisville receivers drop passes over the next couple of weeks in the lead up to draft night. I’ll run through a few scenarios and mix things up a little, then my final mock will be posted up on the eve on the big night. Ok? Let’s go!

Just a quick qualifier before we get started. For the purpose of this exercise, I’m not including trades. I DO believe there will be trades on the night but I’ll include trades in future mocks.

#1, Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Sashi and The Browns tried to get cute and maybe tried to be too clever throughout his tenure and got burned, passing on Carson Wentz and DeShaun Watson in the past two drafts. They don’t here. They take a quarterback 1st overall and this time they have the luxury of being able to let him develop for a year or so, behind a capable starting quarterback in Tyrod Taylor. Darnold has a sky high ceiling and a relatively high floor too which is what gives him the edge over his classmates this year. He’s by no means perfect and did suffer with fumbles quite a bit at USC, losing 9 last season as well as throwing 13 picks. This obviously needs cleaning up so it suits him to sit for a year or two before taking the reins.

 

#2, New York Giants – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn. State

Eli Manning may have been benched last season but he’s still got enough in the tank for another season, so the Giants go and get the best player in the entire class with the second pick and take some of the pressure of Eli. Saquon will likely give Big Blue a 1,000 yard rusher for the first time since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012. Eeesh.

Barkley is a strong and aggressive runner with soft hands when catching out of the backfield. He’s a physical specimen who many rate more highly than Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette coming out of collage.

 

#3, New York Jets – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

During the recent league owners meetings the Jets said they’re considering “6 or 7 players” players for the number 3 pick… well if that REALLY is the case, then why did they pay a king’s ransom to trade up from 6? Hmmm… make no mistake they’re taking a QB here, bet your house on it. The Meadowlands other occupant gets a pretty good one here, Josh McCown’s newest pupil is Josh Rosen. It’s a pretty crowded QB room over in Florham Park but I’d expect Rosen to rise up and beat McCown and Teddy Bridgewater out of the stating job by the end of the season.

 

#4, Cleveland Browns – Bradley Chubb, Edge, N.C. State

I expect Cleveland to field calls for this pick on the night but I’m not including trades in this mock. If Cleveland do make a pick here They could do much worse than getting Myles Garrett a running mate. This would give the Browns a young and ferocious pairing to chase down the AFC North’s quarterbacks for the foreseeable future and the bonus factor in this pick is that Garrett and Chubb make the other a little bit better by taking attention from each other from blockers. We could be seeing the birth of a premier pass rush duo to rival those from the Jags and Chargers.

 

#5, Denver Broncos – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Denver could go a number of ways here and again could be fielding calls for trades, especially if Cleveland stay at 4. Here John Elway takes another swing at trying to find his quarterback of the future after misses on Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Allen is a big project in my opinion but he can marinate behind Case Keenum for a year or two before taking the controls himself. It’s questionable whether he’ll reach his ceiling but it only takes one team to believe with these boom or bust prospects.

 

#6, Indianapolis Colts – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

The Colts began remodelling the defensive backfield in last year’s draft with the selections of Malik Hooker and Quincy Wilson. Here Indy selects the top cover man in the class to play with Wilson and Hooker once they both recover from their perspective injuries and they get a young core to protect the end zone for years to come. As with the past couple of picks, the number 6 pick is going to be up for auction on draft night and if there are no trades in the first five picks, if expect the phones to be on fire in the Colts’ war room with calls from Baker Mayfield fans incoming.

 

#7, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

In this scenario Tampa Bay will be jumping around with delight. The run on quarterbacks means the most fireproof prospect in the class falls right into their laps at 7, which even for a guard is an absolute bargain because Quenton Nelson is not an ordinary guard. Nelson is regarded as pretty much as close to a sure thing as possible and will be making multiple trips to the Pro Bowl. Who wouldn’t want a guy on their team who says that they play football with the intention of breaking the will of the guy opposite. That is bad ass. I love it!!

 

#8, Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Chicago have had a nice off season so far with their free agency signings and need to follow on from that by having a good draft if they’re going to give themselves a chance of getting out of the cellar of an absolutely loaded NFC North. The Bears kick off their draft by selecting the best linebacker available to give their front 7 an alpha dog and fill the hole left by Jurrell Freeman.

 

#9, San Francisco 49ers – Derwin James, S, Florida State

Over the past 3 drafts, the 49ers have used their first round selections to beef up the front 7 with Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and Reuben foster. Some guy called Richard Sherman signed this offseason too and here the 49ers continue their defensive makeover taking James. James is a versatile safety who has an All Pro ceiling and will be an instant contributor to Robert Saleh’s defence.

 

#10, Oakland Raiders – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech.

Long, athletic, young and versatile. Sounds like a great prospect huh? Well they’re four words that describe Edmunds. Once drafted, at 19 years old, he will be the NFL’s youngest player, which in itself means there’s just that little bit more time to develop and mould him into what you want him to be. Some in the scouting community are saying Edmunds will play outside linebacker or even defensive end, I don’t see it that way. He CAN rush the passer in some situations but he’s best using this athleticism to go sideline to sideline and rack up tackles.

 

#11, Miami Dolphins – Vita Vea, DT, Washington

As everyone knows, Miami cut Ndamukong Suh and he’s gone out west to join this decade’s “Dream Team” in Los Angeles, leaving a big hole, both literally and figuratively in the defensive line. What better way to fill it than drafting a 340lb human wrecking ball with feet like a ballerina. Vea is unbelievably powerful, evident in that he threw up 41 reps in the bench press in the combine and he uses his power to overwhelm guards and centres regularly but is also likely to be chasing down ball carriers and making tackles at the sideline. Vea has a motor which does not stop. Quarterbacks and running backs beware, this man will be in your backfield.

 

#12, Buffalo Bills – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Bills get their quarterback of the future. If The Bills do get Mayfield then I could see him beating out A.J. McCarron for the starting job before the season even starts. Mayfield walked on at Texas Tech… as a freshman… and then started. Then transferred to Oklahoma then won the starting job there, leading to Trevor Knight leaving for Texas A&M. Are you spotting a theme here? Baker Mayfield is the ultimate competitor and the most accurate quarterback in the draft. I, for one, can’t wait to see him play in the NFL.

On a side note; if this were to happen and Buffalo did get their QB at 12, without having to trade up at all, there would be no table in Western New York that hadn’t had a Bills fan jump through it by the time the party was over.

 

#13, Washington Redskins – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

This would be another selection which would call for street parties in Landover. Fitzpatrick is everything that the modern day franchise looks for in a defensive back and he should be everything the ‘Skins wanted Su’a Cravens to be. Words you’ll be hearing a lot when people talk about Fitzpatrick are “chess piece” and “Swiss army knife”. He’ll move all over the defensive formation in order to fill a need on a certain play or situation as he did in college with the Crimson Tide. Single high safety, in the box, blitzing, playing corner outside or in the slot, he can do it all.

 

#14, Green Bay Packers – Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College

Green Bay adds some juice to it’s pass rushing attack. Clay Matthews has been around for a long time and it’s time to pass the torch to a younger guy. Landry didn’t put up great numbers for Boston College last year due to a nagging ankle problem but his 2016 tape is fantastic with 22 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks. Now the injury is cleared up, that’s the Harold Landry Green Bay should be getting and with Matthews still around the building, he should have a great tutor to help refine this techniques and counters and give The Packers a premier sack artist for years to come.

 

#15, Arizona Cardinals – Connor Williams, OT

The Cardinals went out and paid Justin Pugh this off season and here They continue to bolster the offensive line. Williams played left tackle for The Longhorns but could easily play guard too in the NFL as he’s athletic for his size. Some teams may see him as a guard anyway because some teams believe in myths regarding ideal arm length for offensive linemen, which Williams does not have. However the Cards see Williams they get a great prospect to protect Sam Bradford and as we all know, Sam Bradford needs protecting.

On a side note; Arizona is a candidate to trade down since they’re in rebuild mode and have a lowkey average roster. I may include this in future mocks.

 

#16, Baltimore Ravens – Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA

Another team with an aging pass rusher on his way out drafts his replacement. Davenport is incredibly raw as a prospect and needs serious development but he has the ingredients to do some damage in the NFL. He played at a pretty average level in college and basically just bullied and intimidated the guy across from him and he looked like a star… fast forward to the senior bowl where he was lining up against, guys who knew how to actually play offensive line and he was almost anonymous. Make of that what you will but like I said above, it only takes one team to believe.

 

#17,  Los Angeles Chargers – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Upgrade the run defence. That should be Tom Telesco’s modus operandi for the first round of the draft. This could come in the form of a defensive tackle, especially since Corey Liuget is suspended for the first 4 games on the season due to a PED’S violation but here Los Angeles goes for an alpha dog linebacker to play alongside Denzel Perryman and sets them both loose to hunt down ball carriers. It could be a good competition I for who ends the season with more tackles. This also has the added bonus of rewarding Darius Philon for his upturn in play last year in Liuget’s absence. Gus Bradley’s defence is quickly becoming the strength of this team, with all 3 levels having genuine stars and promising youngsters alike. Rashaan Evans has the potential to go from being a promising youngster to a genuine star very quickly.

 

#18, Seattle Seahawks – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

Seattle are rebuilding, make no mistake but they’re not going to lose they’re hard nosed identity under Pete Carroll. Guice should fit that perfectly as he’s quick, strong and physical. Some rate him more than old running mate Leonard Fournette… who didn’t do badly in Northern Florida his rookie year. Guice is a Back that will take huge pressure off Russell Wilson who was their leading rusher last season. The Seahawks are a better team with a pounding runner who can grind down opposing defences and take control of the clock. Having a clock controlling offense will also help to mask he possibly deficiencies Seattle may have on defence after losing multiple key pieces on that side of the ball this off season. This is possibly my favourite pick of the whole first round.

 

#19, Dallas Cowboys – Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia

The Cowboys use another pick to protect Dak Prescott and open up holes for Ezekiel Elliott to run through. Here, La’el Collins would play at right tackle with Wynn at right guard. Smith, Martin, Frederick, Wynn, Collins give America’s Team the best line in football… Zeke will eat again. Wynn is a smart and strong lineman who played left back tackle  Bulldogs but projects as a guard in the NFL due to lack of ideal size. Dallas could interchange Wynn and Collins to find the best fit for them. This selection also takes pressure off Prescott, who regressed last year when without Elliott.

 

#20, Detroit Lions – Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

An second consecutive Georgia Bulldog comes off the board. Is it just me or does it feel like Detroit have needed a running back since Barry Sanders? Michel’s selection should mean Ameer Abdullah can play a more complimentary role, which should suit him better and give The Lions a thunder and lightning style rushing attack. Michel had great success at Georgia sharing backfield duties with Nick Chubb so he should be ok with the shared role. One person that will be ecstatic should be Matt Stafford, who will now have a functioning running game to open things up for Jim-Bob Cooter’s offence rather than having all the pressure on his shoulders.

 

#21, Cincinnati Bengals – Mike McGlinchley, OT, Notre Dame

The Bengals need to upgrade their offensive line. Their attempt to claim bookend tackles in 2015 with their first two picks has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster with Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher failing to live up to their billing for a multitude of reasons. Time to start over again for Cincy and in doing so they get McGlinchley, who is a rock solid tackle prospect. He’s got size, smarts and enough athletic ability to hold down one side of the line for the next 10-12 years. As well as protecting Andy Dalton, McGlinchley has great ability in the run game too, so Joe Mixon will also be pleased. It isn’t flashy but this makes The Bengals much better.

 

#22, Buffalo Bills – James Daniels, C, Iowa

Eric Wood having to retire means that Buffalo is on the lookout for an interior anchor. They immediately satisfy that need here by drafting the top centre in the class. Pencil James Daniels in for the next 10 years, he’s a smooth and fluid mover for a big man and he’s got a good amount of experience in college, even starting 2 games at left guard as a freshman for the Hawkeyes. He could bring that versatility to the pros and play as a guard in future if required. Probably needs to get a touch bigger but he can easily do so once he gets in an NFL weight programme.

 

#23, New England Patriots – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Malcolm Butler needs replacing. Bill Belichick evidently thought that before the Superbowl and now Butler is out of town he brings in Alexander to replace him. An undersized but chippy and physical corner who should fit perfectly in the Pats press, man coverage system. Plays bigger than he is and is very instinctive, he may need to play with a little more discipline in future as he’s a gambler on throws and routes. This does mean he can make a lot of plays on the ball but leaves him open to getting burned. I’m a big fan and if he landed in New England, in certain they would refine him and we’d be looking at a top corner in 3 years time… just in time for him to be cut… in cold blood… for no apparent reason. The Patriot way.

 

#24, Carolina Panthers – Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

Carolina picks up my top rated wide receiver here. They have gone through a little bit of a pass catcher evolution over the past couple of seasons, getting rid of the likes of, Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn and replacing with Curtis Samuel and promoting Devin Funchess. This off season we’ve seen Jarius Wright and Speedy wideout Torrey Smith come in. Miller comes in and adds variety to the attack. Norv Turner will have no excuses if he can’t get The Panthers in a good flow offensively, especially considering he’s got Cam Newton, Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey to play with also.

If expect Miller to climb the depth chart quickly due to his great hands, precise route running and due to the fact he plays bigger than he is. Many of you will doubt this pick but remember this later on this year when Anthony Miller is killing it.

 

#25, Tennessee Titans – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

This just makes so much sense, if Vander Esch falls to 25 it almost makes too much sense not to happen! Tennessee have an aging linebacker group and need to get younger and more athletic at these positions. Vander Esch is certainly athletic and should become new HC, Mike Vrabel’s star pupil, considering he used to play the same position. Vander Esch was the 2017 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and was a team captain, the amassed 141 tackles, 8.5 for loss and 4 sacks, 4 pass break ups and 4 forced fumbles, so he affects the game in multiple ways. This to me is a match made in heaven and I wouldn’t be shocked to see The Titans add an outside linebacker on day 2, to continue the rejuvenation of the front 7.

 

#26, Atlanta Falcons – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Atlanta are definitely a candidate to trade back as their roster is pretty deep in most areas but here they take the Crimson Tide tackle who blew up the National Championship game with Alabama limiting Georgia to 142 yards in the second half. Payne is super strong and a great technician at the defensive tackle position. He’d come in, replace Dontari Poe and play at a high level from day 1 and the sky really is the limit for him.

 

#27, New Orleans Saints – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

New Orleans “won” the draft last year and they kick off this year’s edition with a pick for a player with big upside but also a low floor. I’m not sure Bryan starts right away in the league but he’s very athletic, tough (son of a navy SEAL) and has great burst and closing speed. Very much still a work in progress but the Saints are a good team with a veteran head coach and well established culture, so it could be a great landing spot

 

#28, Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Reid, S, Stanford

Pittsburgh would really like to get a Ryan Shazier insurance policy with this pick but all the premier linebackers are off the board at this point so they’ll have to address this need later on. Justin Reid is not a bad consolation prize in this instance. A very capable safety with great instincts and the ability and savvy to play either safety position. Reid has great athletic ability and ball skills. He also has the family name to live up to! Brother, Eric is currently a free agent having been released by the 49ers.

 

#29, Jacksonville Jaguars – Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

The Jaguars acquire one of the top members of this year’s deep interior offensive line class. They’ve already made an effort to reinforce this area with the big money signing of Alex Norwell. Hernandez would start in the other guard spot and solidify the interior of the Jags line. He’s fantastic in the run game, he real bulldozer of a man, which would be great news for Leonard Fournette. This move would also give Blake Bortles a little more protection and he could really use it. He’s on his last life in Jacksonville with the team winning in spite of him as opposed to because of him for much of last season.

 

#30, Minnesota Vikings – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

Minnesota are another team picking late in the first round who could either trade back and acquire more picks or so what have them doing here and taking the best player available. Hurst is a top 10 talent on paper, a really pocket pusher who makes life difficult for offensive linemen and quarterbacks alike. He drops only because of a heart scare at the combine. Fortunately he’s been cleared to play football but I do think it’ll affect his draft stock. Fortunately for The Vikings, they’re looking pretty good along the defensive line and the picked up Sheldon Richardson on a one year, “prove it” deal. Hurst will be spending his first year learning and taking what comes to him but if Richardson doesn’t prove it, The Vikes have his replacement on board already.

 

#31, New England Patriots – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

New England have lost some players since the end of last season but none hurt then more than Tom Brady’s blindside protector leaving town. Kolton Miller is a big, strong and technically proficient linemen, he’s not the finished article by any stretch but he’s got the raw ingredients to become a top tackle in the NFL. The Patriots have got by with much worse on their line during TB12’s era since he gets the ball out of his hands so quickly that his blockers don’t have to block for that long. Miller could start right away and he absolutely fine and get better quickly. Miller was one the best tackles ever at the combine from an athletic point of view, I’m sure that Josh McDaniels would love to get Miller out in space on screens and swing passed blocking ahead of his stable of scat backs.

 

#32, Philadelphia Eagles – Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

Philly have the Lombardi and a roster which is primed to take a run at defending the trophy. They really don’t have too many holes on the roster. Cornerback is a possibility here but instead they opt to replace LeGarrett Blount and give Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement another running mate. Jones does have a light frame which works to his advantage as he is a classic one cut and go kind of back which touchdown potential on every touch. His frame holds him back though as he’s already been criticised by some for taking too many punishing hits so therefore may have to temper his once he comes up against bigger, faster and stronger opponents in the pros. If The Eagles picked him, Jones and Ajayi could form a deadly backfield tandem, which I’m sure the rest of the league will enjoy reading.

 

So that wraps it up. Please get in touch with me and let me know what your thoughts are on this opening mock draft. I’m available on Twitter @Wakefield90 so hit me up! All comments and abuse is welcome.

So as I said at the top, I’ll be dropping another mock later this week that will definitely include trades, so I’ll be cooking up some interesting scenarios with that one. Then following that I’ll release one more than a final mock on the eve of the draft before sitting down and analysing the draft in the week after it’s all gone down so keep your eyes peeled for all of that!

 

Are You Mocking Me?

First attempt at a mock draft. Not the greatest on College football but this will be the first year I stay up and watch the draft and have a few opinions on who goes where.

To start off, we’ll go easy and assume that there is no more trading (however unlikely).

#1 Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold (QB)

Impressed in his pro day in the rain (how poetic). Browns will hopefully be sensible and sit him for the season to learn behind the master in not turning the ball over, Tyrod Taylor.

#2 New York Giants – Bradley Chubb (DE)

Really hard to tell what the Giants will do, with ranges including even trading back to acquire more picks. Wouldn’t be surprised to see them go for a QB (have worked out some QBs on pro days and they need a successor for Eli, unless they believe in Webb still). However, for me, with Jason Pierre-Paul going to the Bucs, i can see them using this pick to get their replacement.

#3 New York Jets – Josh Rosen (QB)

Could easily be Josh Allen here instead but one thing is for sure: they are selecting a QB and they HAVE to get it right. Jets paid a king’s ransom to move up just 3 spots and get one of the big 4 QBs rather than choose the one that falls in their lap. This signals to me that they have either Rosen or Allen in mind. They’ll be hoping Giants don’t take either Rosen or Allen so they have a choice, which would go about 10% to justifying the price they paid to get to #3.

#4 Cleveland Browns – Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB)

I don’t buy in to the Saquon Barkley draft pick here. You’ve just traded for Carlos Hyde, who granted isn’t Saquon, but is more than competent in the NFL. Alongside Duke Johnson, they have enough at RB. Drafting Barkley here muddles the backfield and could mean the Browns have too many riches to be able to effectively get the most out of them all. I think they go defence here (Chubb definitely if still available at #4) and Fitzpatrick can add to a tough defence on the back end and start from week 1.

#5 Denver Broncos – Saquon Barkley (RB)

Denver are in a really tough spot at 5, as there are lots of different combinations that can go before leaving them with a multitude of options. In this mock, we still have Barkley, Allen and that doesn’t even include a possiblility of trading back with either the Cardinals or Bills. I would suggest that this does happen. WIth Case Keenum being their QB for the next 2 years and Thomas and Sanders both still in Denver, i think they’ll upgrade with Barkley and it’ll look like the AFC west could be one of the best division in 2018.

#6 Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson (OL)

Seeing at how much Indianapolis have struggled on both sides of the ball (and lines) over the past few years and having received all those picks from the Jets, I think Indy go Quenton Nelson here. Need to protect the (hopefully) returning Andrew Luck and get more out of their run game to help both sides of the ball or risk falling way behind in the AFC South.

#7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Denzel Ward (CB)

Considering the moves Tampa have made in the offseason (Re-sign Mike Evans, Cameron Brate and beef up their pass rush), one of the final pieces to play out would be Tampa taking Denzel ward to help their secondary. He is potentially a shut down corner and would help stop the leaks that appeared last season and help the new formed D-Line to get pressure on opposing QBs.

#8 Chicago Bears – Trumaine Edwards (LB)

With the Offence being overhauled in Free agency, expect Chicago to go front 7 with their draft pick. Their secondary is fine with Fuller and Amukamara so I would be surprised if its not either Edwards, Vita Vea or Roquan Smith.

#9 San Francisco 49ers Derwin James (S)

Seen quite a few mocks with James heading to SF, potentially creating a new Legion of Boom in the NFC west. With Sherman and Witherspoon able to hold down the corners, James could make an impact straight away to compliment the offence nicely.

#10 Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith (LB)

Oakland will likely address their defence, like they have done in FA and will probably go best player available. Either Smith or Harold Landry could go here.

#11 Miami Doplhins – Vita Vea (DT)

With the release of Suh, I see the Dolphins maybe overpaying for Vea, who has rocketed up most people’s draft boards for the last few weeks.

#12 Buffalo Bills – Josh Allen (QB) 

Whilst doing this mock and writing in Josh Allen at 12, it almost feels like steal of the draft for Buffalo. This will likely not happen when it comes to draft day as there will be teams that trade picks and it’ll be interesting to see where the Bills and Cardinals end up in Round 1. If they want a more mobile QB, they’ll go Baker Mayfield, but either should solve Buffalo’s QB situation.

#13 Washington Redskins – ???

Washington could go either Offensive Line or defensive line here. Their run blocking was not great last year, nor was the protection for Cousins. However, their defence also is depleted with a couple of people leaving in Free agency. VIta Vea would be a candidate if still there, as would Maurice Hurst. Good luck guessing the number 13 pick.

#14 Green Bay Packers – Courtland Sutton (WR)

Likely that Green Bay also go defence here but with the departure of Jordy Nelson, I am going to take a massive punt in that they go WR. No, it’s not Calvin Ridley either. Courtland Sutton has done nothing but help his draft stock in the combine and has great measurables.

#15 Arizona Cardinals – Baker Mayfield (QB)

In the unlikely event that Arizona stay at 15, they’ll still be likely getting a QB. either 1 of the big 4 that are left, or could go with Lamar Jackson. As Baker Mayfield is more NFL franchise type quarterback, I’ve taken the Cards to get a solution in a needy position.

#16 Baltimore Ravens – Calvin Ridley (WR)

Considering their awful offence ( and probably should be addressing the defence too), they’ll pair Ridley with Crabtree. Not that Ridley will be happy about it. Josh Jackson (CB) or Marcus Davenport (LB) are other considerations. They’ll likely be picking in the top 10 next season too, likely for a QB.

#17 Los Angeles Chargers – Da’Ron Payne (DT)

Funnily enough, wouldn’t be surprised to see a QB go here. But with realistically all 4 big guys gone, i don’t think they will chance Lamar Jackson, and will pick up a QB later in the draft. There isn’t much need for anything else for the Chargers except maybe someone to run stuff as Bosa and Ingram are nasty on the outside.

#18 Seattle Seahawks – anyone

Seattle are in a huge mess right now, most of the defence has been reshuffled, their offensive line was/is/will be terrible so Seahawks will likely take best player available approach. Considering they would probably want to trust WIlson, they’ll go offensive line, which brings Mike McGlinchey, Connor Williams, Kolton Miller or Isaiah Wynn in to play.

#19 Dallas Cowboys – Arden Key (OLB)

Dallas have done a lot this week in free agency to their O-Line and WR options, so even if Sutton or Ridley were available here, i doubt they would take them (though Dallas loves drafting a name). I think they will probably go defensive side of the ball and have gone for Key, who could be one of the best pass rushers in the draft, to help if Sean Lee gets injured again)

#20 Detroit Lions – Derrius Guice (RB)

Taking a bit of a punt here. Detriot need a running game. They have LeGarrette Blount signed from free agency, but i think they move on from Ameer Abdullah. Lions don’t have any gaping holes anywhere but they aren’t the most efficient either. They may go O-Line so other possibilities are Connor Williams or James Daniels to help with the run blocking.

#21 Cincinnati Bengals – O- Line 

#22 Buffalo Bills – Defensive front 7 (Van der Esch/Marcus Davenport)

#23  Los Angeles Rams – Sam Hubbard (DE/OLB)

With the talented back end of the defence, Hubbard will bring more pressure up front, which proved costly in the playoffs last season.

#24 Carolina Panthers – WR

Carolina probably go best available WR here to go with Torrey Smith and Devin Funchess. As Sutton and Ridley are gone, next up are James Washington or Christian Kirk. Offensive line also not out of the question for Carolina.

#25 Tennessee Titans – Defence (front 7)

#26 Atlanta Falcons – Defence (front 7)

#27 New Orleans Saints – TE

As the Saints did not bring Jimmy Graham back home, it could signal that they will go tight end in the draft. Hayden Hurst or Dallas Goedert are 2 that spring to mind.

#28 Pittsburgh Steelers – Defence

As their offence looks to be all set, expect them to draft on defence.

#29 Jacksonville Jaguars – Lamar Jackson (QB)

As Blake Bortles got sympathy money and another year stay in Jacksonville, they could draft Lamar Jackson, his successor. The extra year could help his development in this type of offence, as it’s not the best fit for him, despite being NFL ready.

#30 Minnesota Vikings – Who knows?

Minnesota could go anywhere with their pick, possibly O-Line.

#31 New England Patriots – No Idea

Patriots have had somewhat of an overhaul so could go for anything from RB/WR to defensive help to replace Butler.

#32 Philadelphia Eagles – Not overly bothered

As you can probably tell, my depth in knowledge isn’t great and I’m t a big fan of the eagles for obvious reasons, so I don’t really care on who they draft. Gun to the head, probably an O-Lineman or  TE