https://pigskinnut.com Crazy About Football Mon, 03 Aug 2020 03:01:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5 https://i0.wp.com/pigskinnut.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/cropped-PSN-Helmet-ONLY-site-use-1.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Baltimore Ravens – PigSkinNut Football https://pigskinnut.com 32 32 159110224 Lamar Jackson: Then, Now, and Today https://pigskinnut.com/lamar-jackson-then-now-and-today/ https://pigskinnut.com/lamar-jackson-then-now-and-today/#respond Mon, 03 Aug 2020 03:01:13 +0000 https://pigskinnut.com/?p=12815 Action Jackson!!! There wouldn’t be enough words to put into this article if there were words to describe the 32nd overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. This kid has done nothing but exceeds expectations the moment he started his NFL career. Coming into the league with tremendous speed, and superior athletic ability. Lamar Jackson [...]

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]]> Action Jackson!!!

There wouldn’t be enough words to put into this article if there were words to describe the 32nd overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. This kid has done nothing but exceeds expectations the moment he started his NFL career. Coming into the league with tremendous speed, and superior athletic ability. Lamar Jackson is one of few QBs in the NFL who are looked at as the Next-Gen QB. You can check out more details on how the QB position evolved today here.

So far, Lamar Jackson has racked up 4328 yds (3127 in his first year as a starter in 2019), 42 TDs, 9 INTs, 1901 rushing yards (1206 in the 2019 season), and 12 rushing TDs. He has a passing completion rate of 63.7%, with a passer rating of 113.3 (A newest record). I can go on and on about Jackson’s stats, but let me give you the rundown on who Lamar Jackson is and what he will be in the future.

 

The New Kid on the Block

Lamar Jackson was a rookie prospect, excuse me, one of the top rookie prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. He did not participate in the 2018 NFL Combine, but he was still selected as one of the top QBs in the draft. Many fans expected Jackson to be drafted in the top 10 positions inside the selection, but instead, Jackson was selected at number 32 by the Baltimore Ravens. Like many others who expected to be selected early, Jackson had a chip on his shoulder. He felt like a lot of teams passed up on him too soon, but John Harbaugh did not wait to jump. It was a late pick and a tremendous steal. I guess you can say that Harbaugh had the last laugh.

 

Who is Lamar Jackson

Anyone can lead a team, but it takes a great leader who respects his teammates that can make the team thrive into winning seasons in the future. The respect Lamar Jackson has from his teammates; they can very well vouch for this young athlete.

RB Mark Ingram II

“I think it’s his mindset, his attitude, his focus. You can have the tools and the abilities, but if you don’t have the proper mindset, it’s not worth anything. I just think his dedication, his mindset, his competitive nature, that’s what separates him.”

QB Robert Griffin III

” The thing that makes him special is the same thing that a lot of teams didn’t like about him. It’s his playful demeanor. When you get in the NFL, a lot of teams like the cookie-cutter, boring answer, ‘I’ve got to go look at the tape’ guy. Lamar’s personality and demeanor is very playful; he’s very real when he talks.”

S Earl Thomas III

“I would say his mental side of the game. He understands the game really well. He understands spots where to throw the ball in real, live time. I think that’s very, very important.”

CB Marlon Humphrey

“He’s one of the most humble guys that I’ve ever been around. And as he’s been having more and more success, it seems like he’s just gotten more and more humble.”

[You can see more comments from teammates here]

The Show has Begun… Here comes the MVP

In the 2018 NFL season, Jackson backed up veteran ex-Ravens QB Joe Flacco, until the 9th week of the season. Jackson has helped the Ravens finished the end of the season with a 6-1 stretch to the playoffs. Ravens ended that season 10-6, but it was evident that the Ravens were going with Lamar Jackson for the future, as they traded Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos.

In the 2019 NFL offseason, there were questions whether Jackson could repeat what he has shown he can do in the 7 games he started in 2018. Well… let’s say this, he came, he saw, and he most certainly conquered. Most fans asked if he could surpass the athleticism that ex-Falcons QB Michael Vick has brought early in the 2000s. Anybody who saw Lamar Jackson’s spin move touchdown in Cincinnati in week 10, or the way he weaved through Houston Texans defenders in week 11, can see that he’s a special kind of athlete. No quarterback, not even Michael Vick, in my opinion, runs the way Lamar runs.

Jackson finished the 2019 season with a completion rating of 66.1%, 3127 passing yds, 36 tds, 1206 rushing yards, and 7 rushing tds. He took the Ravens to the playoffs but losing in an upset battle with the Tennessee Titans. It was a brutal defeat, but Lamar Jackson held his head up high and did not let that loss break his mental capacity. Lamar was selected as the NFL 2019 MVP recipient, 2019 First Team All-Pro, a 2019 Pro-Bowl selection, and a Bert Bell Player of the Year recipient. That MVP title is an accomplishment like no other, being labeled as the best, and Lamar Jackson has truly earned that title.

 

Where to Go from Here

As the 2020 season approaches slowly with the COVID-19 pandemic happening, where does Lamar Jackson lie among the QBs in the NFL? In the 2020 NFL Top 100 players list, Lamar Jackson has earned the honor of being the number 1 guy on the top 100 list. Some disagree, but for his athleticism and ability to bring his team to a tremendous winning season, I cannot see why he isn’t the top guy. Is he the top guy? Is it still Tom Brady? Better yet, is it the Superbowl Champ and MVP QB, Patrick Mahomes?

I think Lamar Jackson will be able to continue to wow his fans and doubters with the same athleticism and quick pro speed he has been given since making his way into the NFL. He has the tools and capability to assist the Ravens with winning the division again, and possibly reaching the Superbowl once again. I think Jackson will have a 4000+ yard season with 45+ tds and 10-15 rushing tds. He has the ability and team to do so, and that is my take on his 2020 season. That is only if we have a 2020 season during this pandemic.

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]]> https://pigskinnut.com/lamar-jackson-then-now-and-today/feed/ 0 12815 5 Second-Year Players Primed to Explode in 2020 https://pigskinnut.com/5-second-year-players-primed-to-explode-in-2020/ Thu, 11 Jun 2020 04:19:20 +0000 https://pigskinnut.com/?p=11492 NFL training camps are set to begin in a few weeks and we here at PigskinNut couldn’t be more excited. The 2019 NFL season featured some great second-year players, including the league’s MVP Lamar Jackson. Players like Miami’s Pittsburgh’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander, Denver’s Courtland Sutton, Dallas’ Michael Gallup, and Cincinnati’s Sam Hubbard [...]

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]]> NFL training camps are set to begin in a few weeks and we here at PigskinNut couldn’t be more excited. The 2019 NFL season featured some great second-year players, including the league’s MVP Lamar Jackson. Players like Miami’s Pittsburgh’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander, Denver’s Courtland Sutton, Dallas’ Michael Gallup, and Cincinnati’s Sam Hubbard all saw great improvements in their second season as well, headlining a group of future stars in the NFL. In this article, we’ll take a look at five second-year players that are primed for similar success in 2020.

Kyler Murray, QB – Arizona Cardinals

If there’s one team in the NFC West that I have high expectations for, it’s the Arizona Cardinals. After swindling the Texans for an All-Pro receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and retaining Kenyan Drake, Kyler Murray is set up for success in 2020. One could say that his rookie season was better than average by the numbers considering he won the Rookie of the Year Award, but adding Hopkins with an already dangerous receiving corps and a second year with Kingsbury makes for an explosive combination. If he can cut down on the sacks and utilize his new weapon, Murray should put up huge numbers in the desert.

Brian Burns, EDGE – Carolina Panthers

How is no one talking about Brian Burns more? The dude had 7.5 sacks, 23 quarterback pressures, and 8 hurries in only 478 snaps. That’s a sack every 63.7 snaps. Compare that to 2018’s rookie sack leader Bradley Chubb, who had 12 sacks in 844 snaps, an average of one sack per every 70.3 snaps.

Burns should’ve seen the field a lot more in his rookie campaign and should see it a lot more in his sophomore season with the different coaching staff in town. The addition of Derrick Brown in this year’s draft should help Burns get more one-on-one matchups on the edge.

Marquise Brown, WR – Baltimore Ravens

We criminally undersold Hollywood Brown getting drafted by the Ravens in 2019. We knew the Oklahoma product had speed, but he never truly flashed that real speed in the 2019 season, due in part to an injury. Now that he is healthy, Brown is ready to come out of his shell. The offseason departure of Hayden Hurst and additions of Devin Duvernay and James Proche likely means less three tight end sets and more spread formations.

Duvernay and Proche pose serious downfield threats and adding them to this offense with Brown pose an issue for opposing secondaries. If Brown’s offseason work with cousin Antonio Brown makes an impact, Hollywood could become a star.

Drew Lock, QB – Denver Broncos

If you’re familiar with my writing, you’re probably either not surprised by me including Lock or you’re rolling your eyes so hard that you fall out of your chair. No matter, you’re still going to read this. John Elway has done everything right to supplement his second-year quarterback with the necessary weapons to win.

He got a top free-agent offensive lineman in Graham Glasgow and drafted a starting center in Lloyd Cushenberry. The interior offensive line is set. He then drafted not one, but two playmaking receivers in Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. Those two with Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant? Fuhgettaboutit. He also went out and signed an above-average running back to pair with Phillip Lindsay. Then he went and hired Mike Shula and Pat Shurmur to take over for one of the most disappointing offenses in the league.

Lock showed what he could do with a limited cast. Now he has a great supporting cast to showcase his skills. Could he be a dark-horse MVP? Perhaps, but let’s just look at him improving in Year 2.

Devin Singletary, RB – Buffalo Bills

Singletary had a very successful rookie season, rushing for 775 yards on only 151 carries and scoring two rushing touchdowns. He makes this list, however, based on the fact that he is likely going to be taking over the majority of carries in Buffalo after mega-veteran Frank Gore signed with the New York Jets.

Singletary’s 5.1 yard per carry mark is impressive along with his 6.7 yards per reception, so I see his uptick in carries resulting in an uptick in production. If Buffalo stays true to the run game while Josh Allen still works to improve his game, Singletary might be able to work his way to the top of the rushing leaders.

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]]> 11492 Around the NFL: One UDFA for each team with a chance to make the roster https://pigskinnut.com/around-the-nfl-one-udfa-for-each-team-with-a-chance-to-make-the-roster/ Tue, 26 May 2020 20:02:30 +0000 https://pigskinnut.com/?p=11446 Arizona Cardinals Zane Lewis CB Air Force Comments: Lewis received the highest guaranteed bonus of any player Arizona signed following the draft and has ideal physical traits for the position at nearly six feet, one inch tall with 4.45 speed and a 33-inch vertical jump. The former-Falcon also shows quick feet but will need to [...]

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]]> Arizona Cardinals Zane Lewis CB Air Force Comments: Lewis received the highest guaranteed bonus of any player Arizona signed following the draft and has ideal physical traits for the position at nearly six feet, one inch tall with 4.45 speed and a 33-inch vertical jump. The former-Falcon also shows quick feet but will need to get stronger to handle the physicality of the NFL game. Lewis is still awaiting approval to play football prior to his five-year commitment to the Air Force, which requires that he have a viable opportunity to play in the NFL as one of its stipulations. While he may only have one career interception, he knocked down 15 passes as a senior and should have a realistic chance to push for one of the final spots on that roster.
Atlanta Falcons Jared Pinkney TE Vanderbilt
Comments: Some thought Pinkney would be drafted, and after a 2018 season in which he reeled in 50 passes for 774 yards and seven touchdowns, some had him as their top tight end coming into his senior year. Still, he took a big step backward in his final season, and while poor quarterback play was part of the problem, his commitment to getting better came into question. Pinkney has the size and athleticism to be the Falcons second-best tight end if Atlanta can get the most out of him, and he would pair well with Hayden Hurst as more an H-Back who moves around the formation. He shows excellent ball skills in traffic, but his routes and discipline as a blocker both need to improve dramatically.
Baltimore Ravens Trystan Colon-Castillo C Missouri
Comments: There are a pair of tight ends in this group (Oregon’s Jacob Breeland, Georgia’s Eli Wolf) that can push for a spot on the roster, and I’m intrigued about Tyler Huntley’s skillset fitting in this offense. Still, Colon-Castillo is the guy I think can really push for a roster spot. He’s a smart, gritty player that can push for the backup center position. He doesn’t have great length for the position, but he is got solid mobility for the inside, and there is savvy to his game that helps him get the job done. The Ravens have a couple of players with the versatility to play center, but Bradley Bozeman and Ben Powers end up starting at guard, it might be nice to have a true backup center on the roster.
Buffalo Bills Trey Adams OT Washington
Comments: While Florida Atlantic’s Brandon Walton received $50K guaranteed from Buffalo, I think his better fit is going to be on the interior in the NFL, and the tackle position is where the Bills have room for an undrafted free agent to squeeze in. At one point, Adams was considered to be a first-round talent, but a series of injuries over the past few years took a toll on his draft stock. Still, if Adams can prove healthy, I could see him pushing to be the fourth tackle on this roster. At six feet, eight inches tall, with over 34-inch arms, he has impressive size that is difficult to get around. I’m not sure he has the upside of a starter like he once did, he could grow into a capable swing tackle.
Carolina Panthers Omar Bayless WR Arkansas State
Comments: The Panthers guaranteed Bayless $100K to convince the former-Red Wolf to sign with Carolina, and he’s got a strong chance at making the team. Their depth at the receiver position is less than impressive, and Bayless combines some intriguing traits with an incredible 2019 campaign that had me feeling he would be drafted. He’s got a strong build and elevates well to bring in 50-50 balls. Bayless attacks the ball in the air, and his size should make him a capable player on special teams.
Chicago Bears Trevon McSwain DT Duke
Comments: McSwain has very intriguing size and length that could give him an upper hand at making this roster. This defensive line needs youth and depth, and the former-Blue Devil offers both. With only 8.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss in 38 games at Duke, the stat line doesn’t look overly impressive, but his best football may be ahead of him. If Chuck Pagano and Jay Rodgers can get the most out of his 35-inch arms and sturdy frame, McSwain could be a post-draft steal.
Cincinnati Bengals Mitchell Wilcox TE South Florida
Comments: I almost went with Tyler Clark here, but Wilcox has a skillset that the Bengals could take advantage of as a blocking H-back. I don’t know if he will ever be a versatile option in the passing game, but Wilcox did have an impressive 2018 campaign that included 43 receptions for 540 yards. Still, where he is going to impress the Bengals coaching staff is with his physical play. They can move him around the formation and ask him to be part of the blocking scheme, and I also expect him to be a capable player on special teams.
Cleveland Browns Kevin Davidson QB Princeton
Comments: There are some very interesting names in this group. Oklahoma State cornerback, A.J. Green, was guaranteed $145K by the Browns to sign in Cleveland. This team was desperate for tackles coming into the draft, and while they filled their need at left tackle with first-round pick Jedrick Wills, Alex Taylor could push for a roster spot with his exceptional combination of size and length. Still, Davidson is intriguing. I thought he might get drafted, thanks to his prototypical size and arm strength. He will have to beat out Garrett Gilbert for that third spot, or could even play his way on to the practice squad for a year of development.
Dallas Cowboys Ron’Dell Carter OLB/DE James Madison
Comments: This was a tough one to narrow down because Dallas rounded up an impressive group after the draft, but Carter was guaranteed $145K to sign. He also fits the walk-down linebacker role that Dallas is looking to implement in their new hybrid scheme. Carter had an impressive career at James Madison after leaving Rutgers, with 23 sacks and 48 tackles for loss in 44 games. The Cowboys don’t have a lot of viable options to compete for that role giving Carter a realistic chance at making the roster. Kansas’ Azur Kamara also fits that role, and has incredible athleticism and length, but needs further development if he is going to make the roster.
Denver Broncos DeVante Bellamy RB Western Michigan
Comments: The Broncos don’t exactly have a shortage off running backs, but still, they chose to give Bellamy $60K in guaranteed money to sign with them. What Bellamy brings to the table is big-play ability. In his 617 career rushes, he averaged six yards a carry while gaining 6.5 on his 57 career receptions. Overall, he compiled 4,090 yards and 36 scores thanks to his impressive open-field ability. Bellamy ran a 4.5 at the combine while showing off his explosion with some of the top jumps at the event. If he can prove to more of a factor on passing downs, he can push Royce Freeman and Khalfani Muhammad for that third running back spot on that roster.
Detroit Lions Hunter Bryant TE Washington
Comments: Bryant received $60K to sign in Detroit and brings a skillset that Detroit doesn’t currently possess on their roster. While Jesse James, T.J. Hockenson, and Isaac Nauta are all more traditional tight ends, Bryant is more of an H-back that can line up all over the formation. He’s also a nightmare to match up with as a receiver, no matter where he is lined up and has terrific ball skills. Detroit is committed to running a lot of multi-tight end sets, and Bryant would allow them to get more creative in that area. He can really stretch the field and averaged at least 15 yards a reception each of his three years in college. The one area of concern, which was the likely culprit of him going undrafted, was a pair of knee injuries early in his career at Washington.
Green Bay Packers Darrell Stewart WR Michigan State
Comments: I think former-Utah State defensive end, Tipa Galeai will push to offer to make this roster, but the receiver position is wide open, giving Stewart a strong chance to make this roster. Stewart will have to get a lot more polished at the position, but he has intriguing size and physicality that can give him added value after the catch and as a blocker. He should also be able to help on the coverage units because of his size. He’s not the most explosive athlete and may be best suited in the slot where his play strength can make up for it.
Houston Texans Scottie Phillips RB Ole Miss
Comments: The Texans are set at the top two running back positions with David and Duke Johnson, but Phillips could push for that third spot. Neither of Houston’s two starters are physical runners, which could be what gives Phillips an edge. He is a stout, shifty runner with a low center of gravity that is tough between the tackles. Phillips also has surprising burst and acceleration. There might be some more intriguing names in this bunch like Nick Tiano or Tyler Simmons, but if Houston is truly interested in keeping a third running back, Phillips has a strong chance to fill the slot.
Indianapolis Colts Rodrigo Blankenship K Georgia
Comments: There has still been no decision made by Adam Vinatieri on his future, but the fact that Blankenship was given $20K to sign with the Colts could mean Indianapolis is prepared to move on. Blankenship leaves Georgia as the all-time points leader with 440 points, hitting 82.5 percent of his attempts over four years. Chase McLaughlin made 18 of his 23 kicks filling in last season, and with Blankenship in the fold, the Colts should have a genuine kicking competition during training camp. I’d also keep my eye on Kendall Coleman, who may end up playing linebacker and can help on special teams.
Jacksonville Jaguars James Robinson RB Illinois State
Comments: There are some intriguing defensive backs in this bunch, including Georgia’s J.R. Reed, Wake Forest’s Amari Henderson, and San Diego State’s Luq Barcoo, but I went with Robinson. The former-Red Bird impressed me at the East-West Shrine Game, and it forced me to go back and find some more tape on him. He is a big-bodied running back with good vision and a surprising ability to change direction. Robinson is also a hard worker that will pass protect or even play special teams, which is essential to being a third back. He rushed for 4,462 yards and 44 touchdowns during his time at Illinois State.
Kansas City Chiefs Lavert Hill CB Michigan
Comments: It was tough to settle on one, in what looks like a competitive bunch. Offensive linemen like Yasir Durant and Darryl Williams were tempting, as is a solid route-runner like receiver, Kalija Lipscomb. Still, Kansas City is thin at the cornerback position, which was true before Bashaud Breeland’s recent issues off the field. Hill is best suited to play in the slot, where his short-area quickness can shine, as can his physical nature. Not only did the Chiefs give him $110K to sign with them, but there is a strong chance they could already have a role carved out for him.
Las Vegas Raiders Madre Harper CB Southern Illinois
Comments: The Raiders have a lot of young, talented corners, which would usually spell long odds for an undrafted free agent. Still, Harper is gifted enough to win a job. At six feet, two inches with nearly 34-inch arms, the 4.42 and 40-inch vertical jump make for an awe-inspiring package. He is going to need to improve his footwork and play-strength a lot, and there are some concerns involved with his dismissal from Oklahoma State that likely kept him from being drafted. Still, if they have room to carry a developmental player, Harper should be the guy.
Los Angeles Chargers Brieden Fehoko DT LSU
Comments: Fehoko is an interesting player, as he was a bit of an unsung hero at times in the middle of the LSU defense. He is a stout defender that plays with good pad-level and solid upper body strength, but he will need to continue to add weight to fit this system. Still, Fehoko is a leader that understands his role as a player who frees up others, and that is something that could help him stick on the roster.
Los Angeles Rams Trishton Jackson WR Syracuse
Comments: The Rams have a solid group of receivers between Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, and second-round pick, Van Jefferson, but none of them have great deep speed. That is what Jackson has coming out of Syracuse. He is far from a finished product, but he can absolutely fly, and I thought that speed would get him drafted later on day three. Another player to keep an eye on is Bryce Perkins. He had a terrific career at Virginia, and Sean McVay is one of the more innovative offensive minds in football. I’ll be interested to see how McVay grooms him as a backup quarterback, as well as possibly implementing a special package with him behind center.
Miami Dolphins Benito Jones DT Ole Miss
Comments: Jones was a player I expected to get drafted, and the Dolphins were a team starved for talent heading into this draft. With that being the case, Jones should have a realistic chance of making this roster. He is a big, run-stuffing defensive tackle that can push to be part of a rotation on the interior. Brian Flores likes to mix his fronts, and Jones is someone that would fit well lined up as a nose. He won’t offer much as a pass rusher, but he put up 31 tackles for loss over his four years at Ole Miss.
Minnesota Vikings Quartney Davis WR Texas A&M
Comments: I fully expected Davis to be drafted as a receiver with good numbers across the board in his measurements. He is just over six feet, one inch, at 201 pounds with a mid-4.5 forty and a 35.5 inch vertical. The production hasn’t been great at Texas A&M, but the Aggies have been anything but consistent on offense. Davis is a player that can play both inside and out, and will likely have to prove valuable on special teams to push for one of the final receiver positions. The Vikings also paid him $100K to sign following the draft.
New England Patriots Nick Coe DE Auburn
Comments: Coe has the kind of versatility that Bill Belichick loves to maximize in the front seven. Coe can play inside or out, and even stand up as a linebacker. An injury spoiled his 2019 season, but in 2018 Coe collected seven sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. With arms that measure just under 34 inches, I expect the Patriots to leave him on the edge. Still, if he makes the team, look for him to find a role in the rotation anywhere they can fit him in, as well as on special teams.
New Orleans Saints Joe Bachie LB Michigan State
Comments: The Saints were able to nab several players I had draftable grades on, and Bachie was the highest of the group. He’s an old school linebacker that is at his best when things stay in the box. The former-Spartan isn’t going to offer much on passing downs, but he can back up multiple positions while also helping on special teams. It also helps that the top four linebackers on the depth chart are all free agents this coming offseason. With the Saints having to continuously find ways to create cap space over the next year or two, I could see Bachie sticking around for future depth.
New York Giants Austin Mack WR Ohio State
Comments: The Giants brought in several skilled position players that I think can compete for a roster spot. Mack was the one I felt had the best chance of earning a job because of his size. The Giants could use some bigger targets in their receiving corps, and Mack has the ability to help on coverage units as well. His production at Ohio State was anything but impressive, but if he can continue to learn how to put his long arms and strong frame to good use, I think he has the upper hand at making this team.
New York Jets Shyheim Carter DB Alabama
Comments: The Jets brought in three defensive backs that all have a chance to make this roster. While Utah’s Javelin Guidry and Nebraska’s Lamar Jackson will compete for one of the final cornerback spots, Carter has the versatility to make this team as a slot corner or a safety. That is what gives Carter the edge in my book. The Jets are desperate for depth in the secondary, and he can handle multiple roles. That could ultimately save the Jets a roster spot if he continues to show the kind of toughness and instincts that always seemed to get him on the field in that loaded Crimson Tide defense.
Philadelphia Eagles Raequan Williams DT Michigan State
Comments: I went with Williams, but two players I am also intrigued with are running back Michael Warren and offensive weapon Khalil Tate. Warren is a physical runner which could be a necessary trait if Miles Sanders and Boston Scott are going to be the top two backs. Tate also has the kind of explosive athleticism that was a menace for Pac 12 teams during his time at Arizona. Still, Williams is a guy I thought would be drafted due to his position flexibility, and productive play at Michigan State. He’s going to have to continue to get stronger, especially in his lower half, but he has good length and the Eagles depth concerns on the interior of their defensive line.
Pittsburgh Steelers Calvin Taylor DL Kentucky
Comments: I’m not sure anyone truly jumps off the page in this bunch, although cornerback Trajan Bandy is an intriguing athlete despite less-than-ideal size and polish. Still, Taylor is a prospect that caught my eye when I was studying Andrew Thomas this past summer. For starters, he’s got incredible size at six feet, nine inches, and 310 points, and his basketball background has provided him with a fair amount of athleticism. After being more of a five-technique (which is where he should fit for Pittsburgh) as a junior, Kentucky asked him to line up as a defensive tackle more often in his final year, and he racked up 8.5 sacks. Taylor is probably the only player that Thomas had trouble moving on tape, and that is what he brings to the table. If that shows up in camp, he could force his way onto the roster.
San Francisco 49ers DeMarkus Acy CB Missouri
Comments: San Francisco could have a number of guys listed here. Baylor’s JaMycal Hasty and Washington’s Salvon Ahmed both have skillsets that could push to be the third running back on this roster, especially if Jerick McKinnon isn’t healthy. I had a draftable grade on Darrion Daniels, but Acy is the one I’m going with in this slot. He had a tremendous junior campaign that included three interceptions and ten passes defensed. He’s got good length and fluid hips that teams look for on the perimeter. I was shocked when San Francisco chose not to address the secondary during the draft, and while I’m not going go so far as to say that Acy will carve out a role in the sub-packages, it’s certainly a possibility if he is healthy.
Seattle Seahawks Anthony Gordon QB Washington State
Comments: Gordon is one of only three quarterbacks under contract in Seattle, giving him a strong chance to make this roster if the Seahawks are planning to keep three quarterbacks. Also, Geno Smith has only agreed to a one-year deal and is on his fourth roster in as many seasons, so if the Seahawks are looking to develop a quality backup, Gordon has the slight upper hand. In his only season as a starter for Mike Leach, Gordon finished only behind Burrow for the most passing yards (5,579) and touchdowns (48) in the nation. There are physical limitations to his game, but Gordon is a smart player that proved he can develop in a backup role while at Washington State.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Zach Shackelford C Texas
Comments: There were several names that I could have went with here, considering the Bucs still have quite a few holes on their roster. I know the hype surrounding Tom Brady coming to town has increased the excitement in Tampa Bay, but that only solves one position for a franchise that has one winning record in nine seasons. Outside Shaq Barrett, this team doesn’t have a particularly impressive group of edge rushers. Cam Gill can add depth to that bunch, while Michael Divinity has an impressive skillset that could make him an option to back up multiple positions. Josh Pearson is an explosive athlete that could push for one of the final receiver positions. Still, this offensive line is a group that needs help inside, as well as depth, and Shackelford can give them that. He was a four-year starter at Texas with outstanding leadership and work ethic, and Tampa Bay is looking for a backup center.
Tennessee Titans Cale Garrett LB Missouri
Comments: I was a big fan of Garrett at Missouri, but an injury his senior year was enough to keep him from getting drafted. Still, this is a player that is always around the ball, and Garrett is usually a step ahead of everyone else on the field. His awareness on the field is outstanding, and while he’s not an extraordinary athlete, I think he can start games in the NFL. The Titans are pretty set at linebacker, but he can make this roster as a backup on the inside while pushing for playing time in the defense down the road.
Washington Redskins Thaddeus Moss TE LSU
Comments: The Redskins have a few offensive prospects that went undrafted that could make this roster, but Moss is the one with the best chance. The Redskins are wide open at the tight end position, and while they have some good young options, Moss is the only one who fits more of an H-back. If that is a skillset Washington is interested in, I think he’s going to make this roster. Moss is a willing blocker, although he needs to add strength, and his physical nature can help on special teams as well. He’s not an exceptional athlete in the passing game, but he is serviceable and can haul in contested passes.

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]]> 11446 Divisional Draft Grades: AFC North https://pigskinnut.com/divisional-draft-grades-afc-north/ Wed, 13 May 2020 17:17:08 +0000 https://pigskinnut.com/?p=11307 The 2020 NFL Draft is complete and fans around the NFL are breaking down their team’s draft hauls with a microscope. Here at PigskinNut, we are going to take a look at each team’s draft haul and give analysis and grade of every team’s pick. This installment will take a look into the AFC North. [...]

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]]> The 2020 NFL Draft is complete and fans around the NFL are breaking down their team’s draft hauls with a microscope. Here at PigskinNut, we are going to take a look at each team’s draft haul and give analysis and grade of every team’s pick. This installment will take a look into the AFC North. We’ve already taken a look at the AFC West, the AFC East, and the AFC South so make sure you check those grades out!

Cincinnati Bengals

Round 1, Pick 1: Joe Burrow, QB LSU – A+ – There was no chance that the Bengals would miss out on a blue-chip prospect like Burrow. Andy Dalton had certainly run his course and the Bengals new coaching staff needed a fresh new face for their franchise. Expect great things from the Tiger King.
Round 2, Pick 33: Tee Higgins, WR Clemson – B – Now for a lot of people, Higgins was a first-round prospect. For me, he was meh. Picking Higgins instead of Denzel Mims, K.J. Hamler, or Michael Pittman here was confusing for me, considering that A.J. Green is presumably healthy for next season. However, given that Higgins will likely get jump ball reps, this isn’t a terrible pick for Burrow.
Round 3, Pick 65: Logan Wilson, LB Wyoming – A – This was a great steal for the Bengals and they add a quality future starting linebacker to their new-look defense. Wilson is fast, athletic, and strong and will be a quality player for Cincinnati.
Round 4, Pick 107: Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB Appalachian State – A+ – What. A. Steal. Davis-Gaither was one of the players that gathered steam ahead of the draft and gathered it quickly. He’s a bit raw, but has great sideline-to-sideline speed and can even rush off the edge. Another quality add to this young defense.
Round 5, Pick 147: Khalid Kareem, EDGE Notre Dame – B- – This is a decent addition to their defensive depth. Kareem lacks the explosiveness of a true EDGE rusher but he sets the edge well and has great length. He’ll be a solid option as a rotational edge defender.
Round 6, Pick 180: Hakeem Adeniji, OT Kansas – B+ – Excellent value pick for the Bengals here. Adeniji was a four-year starter for the Jayhawks and has potential to be a future starter in the NFL.
Round 7, Pick 215: Markus Bailey, LB Purdue – A – Three linebackers in one draft. Talk about a new-look defense. Getting Bailey in the seventh round is another great value pick for Cincinnati and they look to be building for the future. He’s a high IQ player with tenacious tackling skills and good zone coverage skills.
Final Grade: A-
The Bengals needed to absolutely kill in this draft. They absolutely killed it. Higgins and Kareem, while not the sexiest picks, still will provide depth and quality reps on both sides of the ball. This was a home run class for the Bengals. The AFC North could be in for quite a shock.

Cleveland Browns

Round 1, Pick 10: Jedrick Wills, OT Alabama – A+ – Absolutely amazing pick for the Browns. Some fans expected the team to go wide receiver, but with Wills still on the board and the team desperate for another offensive tackle, this was the home run selection. Wills was arguably the best tackle in this class, even though Andrew Thomas was selected 6 picks ahead of him. He has great feet and can easily play either side of the line. He’ll be protecting Baker’s blindside for the foreseeable future.
Round 2, Pick 44: Grant Delpit, S LSU – B- – As hard as I was on Delpit during the draft process, this is about where I had him going. He’s a tremendous athlete with great range. The issue is, the kid can’t tackle. As long as Cleveland keeps him in deep zone coverage responsibilities, he’ll be a good addition to the defense.
Round 3, Pick 88: Jordan Elliott, IDL Missouri – A- – Solid selection here by Cleveland as they add more pressure to opponents’ pockets. Elliott is big, nasty, and a sneaky good athlete. He will allow Myles Garrett more one on one opportunities off the edge.
Round 3, Pick 97: Jacob Phillips, LB LSU – C – Phillips, unlike his former LSU teammates Devin White and Patrick Queen, doesn’t really possess that sideline to sideline speed and processing skills. Phillips is a great tackler but doesn’t offer much outside of that. He will likely be a run down linebacker and provide depth. The third round was a bit rich for my taste.
Round 4, Pick 115: Harrison Bryant, TE FAU – D – The team that has David Njoku and just signed Austin Hooper is drafting a tight end in the fourth round? Bryant was one of my favorites to watch from this terrible draft class, but I feel like there were definitely other needs that needed to be addressed instead.
Round 6, Pick 187: Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR Michigan – B- – This is actually a great value pick for the Browns. I had DPJ going a lot higher than this, but perhaps the drops at Michigan lowered his value. He has a good blend of size, speed, and has good ball skills. He suffered greatly from shotty quarterback play and we never really got to see his full potential. I think learning under guys like Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry will be great for his growth.
Final Grade: B-
Wills and Elliott were great picks in my opinion and Delpit and DPJ will offer quality roles, respectively. However, Phillips in the third round and Bryant at all were head-scratchers for me and dragged this grade down. All in all, not a bad class for the dawg pahnd. The Browns add to what should be a competitive team in the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens

Round 1, Pick 26: Patrick Queen, LB LSU – A+ – You have got to be kidding me. The rich only get richer. Queen is a fantastic athlete with great instincts and sideline to sideline speed. He’ll fit right into the Ravens’ locker room as well.
Round 2, Pick 55: J.K. Dobbins, RB Ohio State – A+ – YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! One of the best rushing offenses in the NFL gets a running back with extremely fresh legs and is a perfect complement to Mark Ingram? The NFL is in for a treat next season.
Round 3, Pick 71: Justin Madubuike, IDL Texas A&M – A – This is really starting to irritate me. The Ravens get a great value pick here and a guy who is going to be a wrecking ball in the NFL.
Round 3, Pick 92: Devin Duvernay, WR Texas – A – Another explosive weapon for the Ravens offense. Duvernay is an absolute track star and acts like a running back after the catch. Just wait until Duvernay plays against Cleveland and sees Grant Delpit again.
Round 3, Pick 98: Malik Harrison, LB Ohio State – B+ – Another quality addition to their defense, Harrison is projected to be a quality starting linebacker down the road.
Round 3, Pick 106: Tyre Phillips, IOL Mississippi State – C – This is more of an upside selection rather than immediate impact. Phillips has a ton of power and is an absolute mauler in the run game, but is not very mobile. He will likely need a year or so to get used to the NFL game.
Round 4, Pick 143: Ben Bredeson, IOL Michigan – B – Good pick here for the Ravens. They get a potential replacement for Marshall Yanda, who retired this offseason.
Round 5, Pick 170: Broderick Washington, Jr., IDL Texas Tech – C+ – Adding more depth to their defensive front with this pick. Washington has good leadership skills and great power at the point of attack with decent lateral mobility.
Round 6, Pick 201: James Proche, WR SMU – B – The Ravens get even deadlier on offense with this selection and add another slot receiver to help build their passing offense.
Round 7, Pick 219: Geno Stone, S Iowa – C – Stone could be a sleeper for this Ravens defense, but will likely provide special teams depth.
Final Grade: B
This is overall a great class for the Ravens, especially with their first four picks. They did a great job adding depth to all three phases of the game and got several high-quality players in this group. This remains the best team in the AFC North.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Round 2, Pick 49: Chase Claypool, WR Notre Dame – B+ – I didn’t necessarily love this pick for the Steelers considering the receivers that were still available, but I don’t think it’s a bad pick. Claypool has the size and speed to be a big target for Pittsburgh and take some pressure off of Juju Smith-Schuster.
Round 3, Pick 102: Alex Highsmith, EDGE Charlotte – B+ – Highsmith is an ATHLETE and will be a great rotational edge rusher in his first season in Pittsburgh. What I’m interested in, however, is his transition from a small school to the NFL.
Round 4, Pick 124: Anthony McFarland, Jr., RB Maryland – B – One of the more forgotten running backs in this class, I think McFarland could be a great complement to James Conner.
Round 4, Pick 135: Kevin Dotson, OT Louisiana-Lafayette – A – One of my draft sleepers, I think that Dotson and his former Ragin’ Cajun teammate Robert Hunt will go down as steals in this year’s class. Great fit for the Steelers.
Round 6, Pick 198: Antoine Brooks, Jr., S Maryland – A – This is excellent value. Brooks was one of the most underrated safeties in college football last season and is a great addition to the Steelers secondary.
Round 7, Pick 232: Carlos Davis, IDL Nebraska – C – The Steelers add more depth on the defensive front. Davis needs some work in his pass rush and lateral movement but could be a developmental rotation nose tackle.
Final Grade: B
The Steelers made better selections in the mid-to-late rounds, but their first two picks were still quality additions to their team and each of their first five picks could make immediate impacts on the field.

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]]> 11307 2020 NFL Draft: Grades on all 32 Team’s Draft Classes https://pigskinnut.com/2020-nfl-draft-grades-on-all-32-teams-draft-classes/ https://pigskinnut.com/2020-nfl-draft-grades-on-all-32-teams-draft-classes/#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2020 07:54:58 +0000 https://pigskinnut.com/?p=11225 Arizona Cardinals Favorite Pick: Josh Jones Least Favorite: Isaiah Simmons Class Grade: B+ Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking 1 8 Isaiah Simmons LB Clemson 4 3 72 Josh Jones OT Houston 25 4 114 Leki Fotu DT Utah 53 4 131 Rashard Lawrence DT LSU 73 6 202 Evan Weaver LB California NA [...]

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Arizona Cardinals

Favorite Pick: Josh Jones Least Favorite: Isaiah Simmons Class Grade: B+ Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking 1 8 Isaiah Simmons LB Clemson 4 3 72 Josh Jones OT Houston 25 4 114 Leki Fotu DT Utah 53 4 131 Rashard Lawrence DT LSU 73 6 202 Evan Weaver LB California NA 7 222 Eno Benjamin RB Arizona State NA Comments: To say Simmons was my least favorite pick needs further explanation. First of all, Arizona has a good group of talent here, which made it tough to hone in on one that I didn’t care for in the bunch. I’m also a huge fan of Simmons and the kind of player he is going to be in that defense, and I hope the Cardinals take advantage of his unique skillset by creating a role tailored to him. However, when you have three of the big four tackles on the board, as well as the smallest quarterback in football who was sacked a league-high 48 times as a rookie, you’ve got to take one of them. Simmons was my best player available, but Jedrick Wills was my second at the time.

Having said that, the Cardinals were able to nab Jones in the third round, who many thought could find his way into the first round. The arm length is a little worrisome, but he is an easy mover. Fotu and Lawrence were right on Jones’ heals for my favorite pick. The pair are both imposing presences inside, Fotu for his strength, Lawrence for his tenacity. There is no doubt in my mind that Benjamin can make this roster, and even have an early impact with his versatility and ability to break tackles. Weaver should push to make the team as a depth player that can accel on special teams. He’s also one of the more instinctual linebackers in this class that could start in a pinch, where he is more capable of defending the run that he is the pass.

Atlanta Falcons

Favorite Pick: Marlon Davidson Least Favorite: A.J. Terrell Class Grade: B-
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 16 A.J. Terrell CB Clemson 50
2 47 Marlon Davidson DE/DT Auburn 47
3 78 Matt Hennessy C Temple 96
4 119 Mykal Walker LB Fresno State NA
4 134 Jaylinn Hawkins S California NA
7 228 Sterling Hofrichter P Syracuse NA
Comments: This was a solid group after the Falcons shocked everyone by taking Terrell at 16. The truth is we didn’t know what order the cornerbacks were going in after Okudah and Henderson came off the board because many of them fit specific schemes well and others not so great. Despite having Terrell ranked at 50 on my big board, I felt he could slide into the late-first round to a team that likes their corners up near the line of scrimmage. However, I didn’t think he would go this high, as the Falcons let need outweigh value. Perhaps there were no options to move back to make this a better value, and as we saw, they weren’t the only team willing to reach on a corner on day one.

Still, contenders are made from the teams that build the best 53-man rosters and not those with the best 22 starters, which means value can never be ignored like this when you’ve got guys like CeeDee Lamb and K’Lavon Chaisson on the board. However, the Falcons turned the tables in the middle rounds. I predicted Davidson to Atlanta in my final two-round mock draft, and he is going to be an excellent fit as a versatile defensive lineman that can play a number of spots on the front. Alex Mack is set to turn 35 this season, making the Hennessy pick a smart one. He is a technically sound player that could allow the Falcons to save $8M in cap space by moving on from the veteran, or Hennessy could learn behind the former-Pro Bowl center for a year before taking over.

Walker has a skillset that Dan Quinn likes as an undersized linebacker that can fly around the field. Hawkins adds depth and special-teams ability to the safety position. The Falcons also appear to seek competition for Ryan Allen, who is the final year of his deal, which would be why they brought in Hofrichter.

Baltimore Ravens

Favorite Pick: J.K. Dobbins Least Favorite: Justin Madubuike Class Grade: A
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 21 Patrick Queen LB LSU 28
2 55 J.K. Dobbins RB Ohio State 31
3 71 Justin Madubuike DT Texas A&M 60
3 92 Devin Duvernay WR Texas 76
3 98 Malik Harrison LB Ohio State 99
3 106 Tyre Phillips T Mississippi State NA
4 143 Ben Bredeson G Michigan 81
5 170 Broderick Washington DT Texas Tech NA
6 201 James Proche WR SMU NA
7 219 Geno Stone S Iowa NA
Comments: Let me preface this by saying that I was not sold on Baltimore being a Super Bowl contender last season, despite the record. I felt that defense was average at best, and aided by the offense’s ability to shorten the game. I also felt the offense they built around Lamar Jackson was not going to sustain success against the top competition, who would force him to throw the football where he is still sub-par in his abilities. Yes, he was the MVP, and a lot of that credit goes to Greg Roman for the scheme he built that allowed Jackson to do what he does best as a runner.

Having said that, this draft firmly puts the Ravens as one of the most talented rosters in football. I wrestled with what Baltimore would do in round one because I didn’t think Queen or Kenneth Murray would get to them, yet Queen fell in their lap. He is also the better fit of the two, considering Baltimore likes beef on their defensive front so their linebackers can roam free. That’s when Queen is at his best. Dobbins is tailor-made for this zone-read offense, with the ability to grind out tough yards between the tackles and the speed to get into the secondary in a hurry if teams focus too much on Jackson. I’m not in love with Madubuike fitting in their scheme, as I feel he’s best served shooting gaps and getting up the field. However, neither Brandon Williams or Derek Wolf offer much in the nickel, where Madubuike could shine as a pass-rush specialist.

Duvernay was just behind Dobbins for my favorite pick of this class. He joins Marquise Brown as a deep threat that is going to make it tough on teams to keep an extra safety in the box. Tyre Phillips and Ben Bredeson could both push for jobs at guard, giving this offense line valued depth, and Phillips has the arm-length and upside to possibly fill the role of a swing tackle. Washington is a similar case to Madubuike, where I question the scheme fit, but his character and team-first mentality are something every coach wants on the roster.

Proche gives them another versatile option in the slot, and while Baltimore may struggle to find a place for him in their improved receiver corps, the value on this one was a steal, as I thought he’d be off the board in round four. Stone is another good value as a guy that can bring toughness to the secondary, and immediately have an impact on special teams.

Buffalo Bills

Favorite Pick: Zack Moss Least Favorite: Jake Fromm Class Grade: B
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
2 54 A.J. Epenesa DE Iowa 22
3 86 Zack Moss RB Utah 86
4 128 Gabriel Davis WR UCF NA
5 167 Jake Fromm QB Georgia 82
6 188 Tyler Bass K Georgia Southern NA
7 207 Isaiah Hodgins WR Oregon State NA
7 239 Dane Jackson CB Pittsburgh NA
Comments: The Bills draft technically started when they were negotiating to trade for Stefon Diggs, but when the three-day event finally came, I liked what they were able to do with limited resources. Not sure I love the fit of Epenesa in their defense, but there could be some scheme tweaks that take advantage of his ability to line up in a variety of roles in the front. I also love the value late in the second round, as I had him going a full round earlier.

Moss, on the other hand, is a perfect fit for the back they are looking to pair with Devin Singletary. While Singletary is a player that thrives in space, Moss has the power and vision to make a living between the tackles in a zone-scheme. While I loved the addition of Diggs in the trade, I still believed this group of wide receivers lacked size, and that is something both Davis and Hodgins offer. Neither is a lock to be a top-three target of Buffalo, but they will have a chance to make the roster where they can be an option for Josh Allen.

As for Fromm, this pick scares me because he is the polar opposite of Allen. He’s a physically limited player with an outstanding ability to process the game mentally. The reason I worry is that if Allen continues to have mixed results in some of the areas Fromm excels in, then it could create tension in that locker room. Don’t get me wrong, if the Bills are continuing to climb up the ranks, that won’t be an issue. However, if they get stagnant and can’t get to that point where they are competing at the level of other Super Bowl contenders, the fan base and some guys in the locker room could start to call for Fromm.

Bass was my top kicker in this class, and I love the way he relishes the opportunity to kick in the big moment, he could allow them to get cheaper at the position with a good training camp. Jackson will need to carve out a role on special teams to make this roster, but if he does, he has the potential to grow into a sub-package corner for this defense.

Carolina Panthers

Favorite Pick: Derrick Brown Least Favorite: Stanley Thomas-Oliver Class Grade: B
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 7 Derrick Brown DT Auburn 5
2 38 Yetur Gross-Matos DE Penn State 41
2 64 Jeremy Chinn S Southern Illinois 62
4 113 Troy Pride CB Notre Dame NA
5 152 Kenny Robinson S West Virginia (XFL) NA
6 184 Bravvion Roy DT Baylor NA
7 221 Stanley Thomas-Oliver CB Florida International NA
Comments: Wow, an entire draft spent on defensive prospects, and I must say, I don’t hate the idea. This team is making some changes on the defensive side of the ball, and they have not been shy to let a lot of last year’s defenders walk in the offseason. They nailed the first pick with Brown. Not only is he a difference-maker on the interior of the defense, but he will be one of the faces of this franchise in the locker room and community moving forward. This team needs new leadership now that Ron Rivera, Cam Newton, Luke Kuechley, and Greg Olsen are no longer with the franchise.

Gross-Matos has a lot of upside coming off the edge but will need to develop better technique to take advantage of his length. Chinn was another excellent value as a guy with an intriguing blend of size and athleticism for a safety. That will be a pick to keep your eye on because if they hit on him, it could speed up the transition of this defense. Pride is a corner with terrific make-up speed that can compete to help in the sub-packages from day one.

Robinson adds good depth in the secondary, along with a touch of professional experience thanks to the XFL. Matt Rhule knows precisely what he is getting in Roy, as he coached him at Baylor. Adding another potential run-stuffer could go a long way to keeping Kawann Short fresh on obvious passing downs. Thomas-Oliver does have some upside, but this is where I thought they’d break from their run on defenders. This offense has gotten better in the offseason, but there are still secondary roles that could use another possible suitor in the mix. There were some receivers on the board that could have pushed to make this roster, and the guy I was big on here went one pick later in Eno Benjamin. He’s a tough runner on the interior with a low center of gravity that could have pushed for snaps to spell Christian McCaffrey in year one.

Chicago Bears

Favorite Pick: Jaylon Johnson Least Favorite: Cole Kmet Class Grade: C+
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
2 43 Cole Kmet TE Notre Dame 65
2 50 Jaylon Johnson CB Utah 63
5 155 Trevis Gipson OLB/DE Tulsa NA
5 163 Kindle Vildor CB Georgia Southern NA
5 173 Darnell Mooney WR Tulane NA
7 226 Arlington Hambright OL Colorado NA
7 227 Lachavious Simmons OL Tennessee State NA
Comments: For starters, I love Cole Kmet as a prospect and believe he should be a day one starter for the Bears. However, how many tight ends do you need? They signed veterans Jimmy Graham and Demetrius Harris. They have younger guys like Ben Braunecker, Adam Shaheen, and Dax Raymond. I don’t believe in prioritizing need over value and scheme fit, but I don’t believe in ignoring need with a second-round pick either. Kmet is an upgrade over what they have, but not more of an upgrade than players like Grant Delpit, Marlon Davison, or A.J. Epenesa could have been, or even the second of their two second-round picks, Jaylon Johnson.

Fortunately, they were able to snag Johnson at 50 after a run that saw teams reaching for corners throughout the top 50 picks. For Bears fans that loved the days of Chris Tillman, and the feisty demeanor he played with, you’re going to like Johnson. He is a competitor that played most of last season with a torn labrum. If he is full-go when training camp hits, I expect him to be the front-runner to start across from Kyle Fuller. Gipson was great value in the fifth round, and he is what I consider a luxury pick. The Bears are set at outside linebacker with Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, but the former-Golden Hurricane is good enough to push for snaps that allow the pair to stay fresh when they are on the field.

Vildor has the upside to help in sub-packages once he is polished up a bit, and Mooney could be an intriguing option that can bring big-play ability as a gadget player like Tarik Cohen did to earn a spot on the roster in back in 2017. With Hambright and Simmons, both have the potential to grow into more than just depth players, which is what they will start out as if they make the roster. However, Hambright has impressive mobility for his size, while Simmons offers exceptional length that gives them both upside to eventually push for a starting role.

Cincinnati Bengals

Favorite Pick: Joe Burrow Least Favorite: Logan Williams Class Grade: B+
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 1 Joe Burrow QB LSU 2
2 33 Tee Higgins WR Clemson 26
3 65 Logan Wilson LB Wyoming NA
4 107 Akeem Davis-Gaither LB Appalachian State 84
5 147 Khalid Kareem DE Notre Dame NA
6 180 Hakeem Adeniji OL Kansas NA
7 215 Markus Bailey LB Purdue NA
Comments: The Bengals shocked no one by taking Burrow, who gives them not only a franchise quarterback but also a leader that is going to raise the standard in that locker room. He has roots in that state and is someone that the Cincinnati fan base can rally behind. I love the value of Tee Higgins in the second round, but it is going to raise questions about who eventually becomes the odd man out at wide receiver. John Ross is a likely candidate to be on the way out in Cincinnati. Still, with Tyler Boyd and Alex Erickson being reliable options, I wonder if A.J. Green’s franchise tag could be as long-term as the front office is willing to commit to him.

I would have prioritized the Davis-Gaither over Wilson, but they were fortunate enough to get them both, which is good considering how much they needed to improve at linebacker. Wilson is likely to be far more limited on passing downs where Davis-Gaither should thrive, but both will need to develop more strength and bulk on their frame to hold up as starters. Kareem is a technically-sound overachiever that teams love to add to the back end of their defensive line rotation.

Adeniji will likely be better suited to play guard in the NFL but has some raw potential that could be unmasked with good coaching. Bailey is the wild card, as injuries probably prevented him from going much higher. Still, he is the most physically ready to play of the linebackers Cincinnati drafted and may have the best instincts and ability to finish in that group as well.

Cleveland Browns

Favorite Pick: Donovan Peoples-Jones Least Favorite: Nick Harris Class Grade: A-
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 10 Jedrick Wills OT Alabama 7
2 44 Grant Delpit S LSU 19
3 88 Jordan Elliott DT Missouri 94
3 97 Jacob Phillips LB LSU NA
4 115 Harrison Bryant TE Florida Atlantic 93
5 160 Nick Harris C Washington NA
6 187 Donovan Peoples-Jones WR Michigan 74
Comments: There were mock drafts that I did back in March, where I had Wills and Delpit being the top two selections for Cleveland, and that turned out to be the case. Some may have concerns about Wills’ ability to play on the blindside, but with the amount of play-action Cleveland is expected to run, I think he will hold up just fine. Wills also adds to the narrative that the Browns are going to push to have the best rushing attack in football.

Delpit slid out of the first round for obvious reasons. He’s an undisciplined tackler that lunges and fails to wrap up far too often, and his pursuit angles were off once he moved further away from the line of scrimmage in 2019. Still, those are teachable areas of improvement, and you can’t teach the fact that none of the top safeties in this class have better range or ability in coverage. Elliott is a great pickup because he needs time to develop, and the Browns can be patient with him. Both Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi are versatile enough to play the under-tackle position, but long-term, Elliott has Geno Atkins-like upside.

Phillips is a linebacker who is solid across the board, but may not have one trait that sets him apart. He will likely take the same path to former-Brown, Joe Schobert, who had a similar skillset and started as a versatile backup before latching on to a starting role. Bryant was a terrific value on day three and could have an instant impact considering we are going to see a lot of formations with multiple tight ends under Mike Stefanski. I pegged Harris as my least favorite pick, but let me point out that I still like this pick. He fits Stefanski’s offensive scheme well and should provide quality depth behind J.C. Tretter. However, there were some guards still available that I felt had a chance to be part of a competition for the right guard spot, like Michigan’s Michael Onwenu.

I was secretly wondering if Cleveland would take a chance on Jake Fromm there. He has a lot of similarities to Kirk Cousins, who Stefanski worked well with in Minnesota, and Fromm has a high football-IQ, making him ideal as a backup option to Baker Mayfield. Peoples-Jones drop shocked me, but there is likely more to the story than just his talent. I consistently had his name on my list of top options for Cleveland because he provides the size and play-strength that the Browns lack at the position. If he can play up to his potential in Cleveland, Peoples-Jones can be a day-one contributor that turns out to be one of the biggest steals in this draft.

Dallas Cowboys

Favorite Pick: CeeDee Lamb Least Favorite: Neville Gallimore Class Grade: A
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 17 CeeDee Lamb WR Oklahoma 9
2 51 Trevon Diggs CB Alabama 27
3 82 Neville Gallimore DT Oklahoma 44
4 123 Reggie Robinson CB Tulsa NA
4 146 Tyler Biadasz C Wisconsin 59
5 179 Bradlee Anae DE Utah 54
7 231 Ben DiNucci QB James Madison NA
Comments: This was an incredible haul for America’s Team, as they corralled five players in my top-100 prospects, despite only having three of their seven picks come on day one or two. Dallas led things off by capitalizing on some puzzling moves in the first half of the first round that led to CeeDee Lamb falling in their laps. He’s the perfect receiver to give to Dak Prescott given his huge catch-radius, and the body control, torso flexibility, and ball skills he uses to consistently bring in off-target throws. Lamb makes less-accurate quarterbacks more accurate, and I think his best football is good enough to make him a top-10 receiver in the NFL.

Diggs is a versatile option that many felt would land in the latter parts of day one. Instead, the Cowboys got tremendous value again by bringing in the younger brother of Stefon Diggs. He’s got an exceptional combination of size and athleticism that could make him a stud on the perimeter as he continues to develop as a defender. It should go to tell you how could this bunch is when I’ve got Gallimore as my least favorite despite him being the 44th-ranked player on my board that the Cowboys grabbed at 82. My only question is the scheme fit. Dallas is moving to a two-gap strategy up front, where technique is prevalent to success. Gallimore currently gets by with his outstanding physical gifts and tenacity, but there is room to grow as a technician.

Robinson comes in a similar, albeit slightly less athletic package as Diggs, which tells me this team is going to crowd the line of scrimmage on the perimeter. With Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis both entering their final year under contract, and Byron Jones having left for Miami, I thought there was a strong chance that Dallas could double-up at corner. While this was one of only two of the Cowboys’ picks that I didn’t see as being great value, I was in the minority among those I correspond with, in ranking Robinson at 133 on my overall board. The selection of Biadasz was nearly the pick for my favorite, but I’ll caution Cowboys fans that he is not a lock to be a day-one starter. There are flaws that he needs to clean up, most notably with his pad-level and balance. However, he is similar to Frederick in his football-IQ, and his best tape was as good as any center’s in this class.

Count Anae as another player that nearly pushed Lamb for my favorite selection. The guy is one of the most technically sound players in this draft, and he gave offenses fits throughout his time at Utah. In fact, go watch how he consistently beat Austin Jackson last year, who was the 18th player selected in this draft. Even if the lack of ideal athleticism and shorter arms are deterrent to him being a similar disruptor in the NFL, his desire and work ethic will get him on the field in a rotation. DiNucci is a player the Cowboys weren’t comfortable allowing to get into the free-agency process, so they secured his services by drafting him late. Dallas needs someone to develop behind Prescott, and DiNucci has some similarities to Prescott’s game.

Denver Broncos

Favorite Pick: Lloyd Cushenberry Least Favorite: Michael Ojemudia Class Grade: A
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 15 Jerry Jeudy WR Alabama 8
2 46 K.J. Hamler WR Penn State 42
3 77 Michael Ojemudia CB Iowa NA
3 83 Lloyd Cushenberry C LSU 34
3 95 McTelvin Agim DT Arkansas NA
4 118 Albert Okwuegbunam TE Missouri 77
5 178 Justin Strnad LB Wake Forest NA
6 181 Netane Muti G Fresno State 46
7 252 Tyrie Cleveland WR Florida NA
7 254 Derek Tuszka LB North Dakota State NA
Comments: There were few scenarios that I could make sense of that would have allowed the Broncos to have their choice of Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb, yet that was the case at 15. It was the right choice to go with Jeudy considering the way his big-play ability and crisp route-running compliment Courtland Sutton’s possession-receiver skillset. When the Broncos doubled-down on receiver at 46, I was initially surprised. Still, I quickly became fond of the selection, considering how dangerous Jeudy was moving all over the formation at Alabama. With Hamler as the more traditional slot receiver, the Broncos can make the most of Jeudy’s versatility.

Hamler will be a player that should quickly become a safety valve for Drew Lock. He is lightning quick and can turn quick throws into big chunks of yardage. Also, it helps that that player I wanted them to take at 46 was Cushenberry. How in the world he fell to the third round, I’ll never know? He is tailor-made for this offense as a pivot with excellent mobility. After Denver has seen their starting center walk in each of the last two offseasons, they got that position sured-up moving forward.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the selection of Ojemudia based on him being a bit more of a project. Still, the Broncos have the luxury of being patient with him, considering they have veteran options like A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan in the fold. Ojemudia does fit what Vic Fangio likes with his size and make-up speed that makes him capable of succeeding in a variety of coverages. In a year, we could see him push Callahan back into his nickel role. Agim is another talented yet technically-raw prospect that will need time to develop. However, the potential is there for him to become a starter early in his career as well.

Okwuegbunam was a steal and should have Lock thrilled to have his former-Missouri Tiger back in the huddle with him. He was rarely used properly during his time at Missouri and should thrive in an offense that takes advantage of his skillset. He and Noah Fant should form one of the most dangerous tight end duos in football if Pat Shurmur can make the most of their unique athleticism at the position. The selection of Muti was a swing for the fence in the sixth round. His injury history was obviously too much for teams to ignore, as he had the skills to be the first guard drafted in this class. If he can stay healthy, it just pads what I believe was one of the top five draft classes this year. Cleveland and Tuszka can both push to make this roster, but it will likely be a result of their ability to help on special teams.

Detroit Lions

Favorite Pick: D’Andre Swift Least Favorite: Logan Stenberg Class Grade: B+
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 3 Jeffrey Okudah CB Ohio State 3
2 35 D’Andre Swift RB Georgia 18
3 67 Julian Okwara OLB/DE Notre Dame 90
3 75 Jonah Jackson G Ohio State 67
4 121 Logan Stenberg G Kentucky NA
5 166 Quintez Cephus WR Wisconsin NA
5 172 Jason Huntley RB New Mexico State NA
6 197 John Penisini DT Utah NA
7 235 Jashon Cornell DE/DT Ohio State NA
Comments: The only reason I gave the nod to Swift over Okudah for my favorite pick is that Swift should have been off the board by 35. However, the pick Okudah at three was a winner based on the temptation the Lions had to move down with a quarterback-needy team. Okudah was the third-best prospect in this class, and the best corner I’ve graded since Patrick Peterson. It was also a pressing need for the Lions. The Lions have consistently struggled to keep running backs healthy for more than a decade, which is why it was wise for them to grab Swift, regardless of how good Kerryon Johnson has looked when he was healthy. Swift offers far more versatility at the position, and should instantly become one of the Lions top big-play threats.

I thought Detroit reached on Okwara, but the upside is there for this to be a great pick. It was frustrating that he didn’t get more out of his physical gifts while at Notre Dame, but with his older brother Romeo already in Detroit, the classic overachiever may be able to help Julian reach his potential. The selection of Jackson and Stenberg were both great picks on their own, but I’m not sure I would have doubled-up on the position. Both should have a chance to push to make the roster. One could even win a starting job, but if that is not the case, I’m not sure they will have a roster spot for each.

Cephus and Huntly will both need to prove their worth on special teams to make this roster, although Huntly is an intriguing receiving option that could carve out a role on passing downs to spell Swift. Penisini and Cornell should both compete to add depth on the defensive line. While Penisini is a bit more one-dimensional as a run-stuffing nose tackle, Cornell has position-flex and the ability to have success on any down.

Green Bay Packers

Favorite Pick: Jordan Love Least Favorite: A.J. Dillion Class Grade: C-
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 26 Jordan Love QB Utah State 21
2 62 A.J. Dillion RB Boston College NA
3 94 Josiah Deguara TE Cincinnati NA
5 175 Kamal Martin LB Minnesota NA
6 192 Jon Runyan OL Michigan NA
6 208 Jake Hanson OL Oregon NA
6 209 Simon Stepaniak OL Indiana NA
7 236 Vernon Scott S TCU NA
7 242 Jonathan Garvin OLB/DE Miami NA
Comments: The national media really made a big deal of Green Bay’s decision to draft Aaron Rodger’s future successor instead of an offensive weapon for him. I thought they would look for a receiver too, but I’m not as down as on this as everyone else. The Packers know first-hand what a luxury it can be to have someone waiting in the wings behind their aging future-Hall of Famer. That coaching staff also has a better idea of where Rodgers is in their future plans than anyone. Also, we don’t know what Matt LaFleur’s relationship is like with his 36-year old quarterback. Rodgers has been part of toxic relationships in the past, and that could’ve led to them jumping at the opportunity to bring in Love. He’s got incredible upside with his arm strength, size, and mobility, and Green Bay can be patient with him.

As for the next two picks, I thought Green Bay really reached. Dillion was my 12th-ranked running back and had a mid-day three grade. I understand LaFleur has had success with a big back during his time in Tennessee with Derrick Henry, and while Dillion comes in a similar package, I’m not sure he has that kind of upside. I had a borderline seventh-round grade on Deguara, who they selected at 92. He did catch a lot of passes at Cincinnati, but I’ve got questions about that translates at the next level, considering he has below-average size and athleticism. With Jace Sternberger in place, I thought they’d target a more traditional tight end to pair with him.

On the positive side, I love the picks of Martin and Garvin that add depth at the linebacker position. Martin could even push for a starting job if he can improve his abilities in coverage. Runyan, Hanson, and Stepaniak all have the position flexibility that will be valued at the end of the roster, but I’m not sure there is room for all three unless one of them earns a starting job. Scott also offers position-flex in the secondary, as well as the ability to have an impact on special teams.

Houston Texans

Favorite Pick: Jonathan Greenard Least Favorite: John Reid Class Grade: C
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
2 40 Ross Blacklock DL TCU 40
3 97 Jonathan Greenard OLB Florida NA
4 126 Charlie Heck OT North Carolina NA
4 141 John Reid CB Penn State NA
5 171 Isaiah Coulter WR Rhode Island NA
Comments: It’s hard to give the Texans anything better than a C when they were so limited in their opportunities. I know Laremy Tunsil and Brandin Cooks are in Houston as a result of that, but the musical chairs Bill O’Brien is playing with bad contracts and players in search of them is a strong reason why this team needs a general manager. Having said that, I like the pick of Blacklock. I do have questions about where he fits in their scheme, but this team needs players that can get after the quarterback from the interior.

Greenard is another strong selection as I had him ranked just barely outside of my top 100. He may not be a day one starter, but long-term, they may have found the player that lines up across from Whitney Mercilus. Heck gives them a developmental project that can eventually fill the role of a swing tackle. However, they lost me after that. Houston took a flyer on both Reid and Coulter, and I thought we would see less of that with the limitations of working these guys out in the pre-draft process. In the sixth or seventh round, I can understand reaching on a player without a draftable grade, but these were fourth and fifth-round selections, and I’m not sure if either of these guys has a chance to make the team, much less improve the end roster better.

Indianapolis Colts

Favorite Pick: Jonathan Taylor Least Favorite: Jacob Eason Class Grade: B-
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
2 34 Michael Pittman WR USC 52
2 41 Jonathan Taylor RB Wisconsin 33
3 85 Julian Blackmon S Utah NA
4 122 Jacob Eason QB Washington 72
5 149 Danny Pinter G Ball State NA
6 193 Robert Windsor DT Penn State NA
6 211 Isaiah Rodgers CB UMass NA
6 212 Dezmon Patmon WR Washington State NA
6 213 Jordan Glasgow LB Michigan NA
Comments: There are elements to this draft that I liked and some that I question. For starters, this team needed a big target on the perimeter, and while I might have gone with Denzel Mims over Pittman, that is splitting hairs. He is a big, reliable target that will make a fine addition to the big-play ability of T.Y. Hilton and the versatile Parris Campbell. I went back and forth on whether I thought the Colts would go after a running back because I’m just not sure if Marlon Mack can’t take that next step to be a feature-player. Obviously, Indianapolis had similar sentiments, as they moved up to grab Jonathan Taylor. He can help take that rushing attack to the next level as a powerful between-the-tackles runner with surprising burst. Blackmon was solid pick as well, as he gives them another option at safety, and could push to be the starter across from Malik Hooker.

As for the Eason pick, I don’t get it, and here is why. I had the Colts taking him in the second round because of his exceptional physical tools. However, there were genuine concerns about his commitment to getting better, and whether or not he’d ever make the most of his potential. We got our answer on the Colts’ feelings towards those concerns when they passed on three-separate times. Now, I’m not saying you don’t draft, but early in the fourth round, I still had players with top-100 grades available. The Colts clearly had concerns about Eason, meaning you have to exhaust every opportunity to take a player that you believe can be an impact player early before reconsidering him. I just don’t think that was the case at 122. However, I am a fan of the additions of Pinter and Windsor, who can add quality depth in the trenches, and Rodgers, Patmon, and Glasgow can push to improve the end of that roster.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Favorite Pick: Laviska Shenault Least Favorite: Ben Bartch Class Grade: B+
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 9 C.J. Henderson CB Florida 17
1 20 K’Lavon Chaisson OLB/DE LSU 16
2 42 Laviska Shenault WR Colorado 32
3 73 Davon Hamilton DT Ohio State 75
4 116 Ben Bartch OL St. Johns (MN) NA
4 137 Josiah Scott CB Michigan State NA
4 140 Shaquille Quarterman LB Miami NA
5 157 Daniel Thomas S Auburn NA
5 165 Collin Johnson WR Texas 91
6 189 Jake Luton QB Oregon State NA
6 206 Tyler Davis TE Georgia Tech NA
7 223 Chris Claybrooks CB Memphis NA
Comments: The Jaguars has busy three days, but I like what they did to replenish a roster that is losing as much as they are gaining in recent years. Henderson may have concerns about how physical he plays, but he is terrific in coverage, and you don’t know when you are going to get another opportunity to corral a player like that. I also thought Chaisson would be long gone by 20, but the second-best edge rusher in this class fell right in their laps. I think he is better suited to play standing up, and Josh Allen is already entrenched in that role, but they can tweak that system to accommodate both.

Shenault was a steal in my eyes. I understand an injury during the pre-draft process dropped his stock a bit, and that he isn’t a fit for every offensive coordinator, but I expect Jay Gruden to take full advantage of this versatile playmaker. Hamilton is another solid pick, as a player they can plug into the middle of that defense early in his career. I didn’t necessarily care for the pick of Bartch because I still had players with top-100 grades on my board that could help this team early on, and he is going to need some time to develop. However, players like Scott, Quarterman, and Thomas can add quality depth immediately to that defense, while Johnson gives them a guy that can compete for snaps at receiver. Still, it’s likely to be an uphill battle to make the roster for Luton, Davis, and Claybrook.

Kansas City Chiefs

Favorite Pick: Lucas Niang Least Favorite: L’Jarius Sneed Class Grade: C-
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 32 Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB LSU 56
2 63 Willie Gay LB Mississippi State NA
3 96 Lucas Niang OT TCU 97
4 138 L’Jarius Sneed S Louisiana Tech NA
5 177 Mike Danna DE Michigan NA
7 237 Thakarius Keyes CB Tulane NA
Comments: I’m not the biggest fan of this group as a whole. The first pick of Edwards-Helaire was a reach, considering all three of the top running backs in this class were still available. However, I do like his fit as a versatile option in the backfield. It’s also tricky to add a running back to this offense because they are going to play second fiddle to Patrick Mahomes. While guys like D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins, and Jonathan Taylor have been featured players during their college days, Edwards-Helaire has always been that overachiever in a secondary role, which is what will fit best in Kansas City.

Once again, the selection of Willie Gay was a head-scratcher. This wasn’t an overly-talented group of linebackers, so you knew there would be teams reaching on a few. Still, Gay has some character concerns, and at this point, he is a much better athlete than a football player. My favorite pick in this bunch is Niang, who has the size and ability to be a starting tackle in this league. Mitchell Schwartz is 30 while Eric Fisher will be too in the next year, and neither played particularly well in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory. Niang is massive and would have likely gone higher if not for an injury in 2019.

I thought the selection of Sneed was the biggest reach of the bunch. The straight-line speed is impressive, but he isn’t the most fluid athlete on the perimeter. He does have experience at safety, but he’s also not the most physical player. While he can improve the end of the roster, I felt there were players that could push for playing time still on the board. Danna is an effort guy that could possibly play a linebacker role for Kansas City, and Keyes is a project with good physical tools to work with on the perimeter. If he can clean up his footwork during training camp, he could jump Sneed on the depth chart.

Los Angeles Chargers

Favorite Pick: Kenneth Murray Least Favorite: Joe Reed Class Grade: B
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 6 Justin Herbert QB Oregon 14
1 23 Kenneth Murray LB Oklahoma 23
4 112 Joshua Kelley RB UCLA NA
5 151 Joe Reed WR Virginia NA
6 186 Alohi Gilman S Notre Dame NA
7 220 K.J. Hill WR Ohio State NA
Comments: I’m sure the Chargers did their due diligence on moving up, but in the end, we didn’t see that blockbuster trade like we thought we might. That’s what could have elevated my grade for this class. However, the Chargers have their future signal-caller in Herbert. There are some that question whether or not he has an alpha personality, but he’s got a skillset that fits the modern-NFL perfectly.

The selection of Murray was my favorite for the Chargers. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Saints were selecting him at 24, but Los Angeles jumped ahead of them to fill one of their most significant needs with the best linebacker this class has to offer. Murray still has room to grow instinctually, but he has terrific athleticism and leadership that should help elevate this defense.

I thought they might address running back earlier than this, but Kelley has a chance to have an instant impact in a committee approach with Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. I’m also quite fond of their other three day-three picks. All three have a chance to add quality depth to this roster. To say Reed is my least favorite of the bunch is more a sign that I liked each pick made, but the Chargers will have to be creative with how they use him.

Los Angeles Rams

Favorite Pick: Cam Akers Least Favorite: Terrell Lewis Class Grade: B
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
2 52 Cam Akers RB Florida State 78
2 57 Van Jefferson WR Florida 79
3 84 Terrell Lewis OLB Alabama 30
3 104 Terrell Burgess S Utah NA
4 136 Brycen Hopkins TE Purdue 85
6 199 Jordan Fuller S Ohio State NA
7 234 Clay Johnston LB Baylor NA
7 248 Sam Sloman K Miami (OH) NA
7 250 Tremayne Anchrum G Clemson NA
Comments: For a team that has clearly undervalued this process, I came away quite pleased with their class. While the Rams took Akers a bit higher than I had projected, I love the fit, and Akers should be on the radar of every fantasy football fanatic. He can impact the game on all three downs, and pairing him with Darrell Henderson could give this team an exciting young duo moving forward. In Jefferson, they are adding a terrific route-runner to a roster that values that trait. Between he, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp, they have three players that can defeat man coverage with precise routes.

The selection of Lewis is one with tremendous upside, but as I watched him fall, it became clear that teams were not thrilled with what they saw in his medical checks. That’s why it’s my least favorite. If his injury history is a long-term concern, then using a top-100 pick on him is foolish, in my opinion, no matter the upside. Burgess and Fuller should both sure up the depth at safety, and could even push for playtime across from Taylor Rapp. I also think Hopkins has a chance to push for meaningful snaps in an offense that likes to use a variety of different personnel groupings. Sloman gives them another option in their kicking competition, but Johnston and Anchrum will each have an uphill battle at making the roster. Still, there is room for competition for one of the final spots on that offensive line in the case of Anchrum, and Johnston could win a job due to his effort on special teams.

Las Vegas Raiders

Favorite Pick: Bryan Edwards Least Favorite: Henry Ruggs Class Grade: B
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 12 Henry Ruggs WR Alabama 13
1 19 Damon Arnette CB Ohio State 64
3 80 Lynn Bowden WR Kentucky NA
3 81 Bryan Edwards WR South Carolina NA
3 100 Tanner Muse LB Clemson NA
4 109 John Simpson G Clemson 83
4 139 Amik Robertson CB Louisiana Tech NA
Comments: I’m not disappointed in this group, but Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden are struggling to get value on day one during these last few years. Clelin Ferrell was a tremendous reach a year ago, and I thought both Ruggs and Arnette were poor value as well. In Ruggs’ case, it was more about the fact that Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb are more complete receivers worthy of that pick. I love his speed, but I’m not sure that should have been the determining factor to reach on him ahead of the other two, considering Derek Carr attempted the fewest deep passes of any starting quarterback in 2019.

As for Arnette, I like his skillset, as he is one of the more complete corners in this class capable of playing in zone or man coverage. However, 19 was way too high for a player that is a good-not-great athlete. I know Atlanta started a panic by reaching on A.J. Terrell, but the Raiders had plenty of others areas they could have improved this roster. Don’t get me wrong, I think both can be day-one starters. However, they could have moved down in both instances and still gotten ahold of each, in my opinion.

Bowden gives them another player like Ruggs who is a playmaker with the ball in his hands. While not as fast as Ruggs, he has a versatile skillset that can see him lineup all over the field, including the backfield. Edwards could end up being their most reliable receiver out of this class with the size and play strength to consistently beat physical coverage. Muse is a special teams ace that can push for a starting role at linebacker, although his playing speed is far less impressive than his combine numbers suggest. Simpson and Robertson are both great picks on day four, as I could see them each pushing for playing time early in their career.

Miami Dolphins

Favorite Pick: Tua Tagovailoa Least Favorite: Solomon Kindley Class Grade: B+
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 5 Tua Tagovailoa QB Alabama 6
1 18 Austin Jackson OT USC 39
1 30 Noah Igbinoghene CB Auburn 58
2 39 Robert Hunt G Louisiana-Lafayette 89
2 56 Raekwon Davis DL Alabama 68
3 70 Brandon Jones S Texas NA
4 111 Solomon Kindley G Georgia NA
5 154 Jason Strowbridge DL North Carolina NA
5 164 Curtis Weaver OLB/DE Boise State 48
6 185 Blake Ferguson LS LSU NA
7 246 Malcolm Perry WR Navy NA
Comments: I like the Dolphins’ draft because they stuck to the narrative that this team is not going to be fixed in one offseason. What I mean by that is Miami didn’t shy away from players that need some polish. There is a good chance that Tagovailoa sees minimal playing time as a rookie because of his rehabilitation from the hip injury, and that affords them the patience to develop raw players with a ton of upside over the next year. Starting with Tagovailoa, I thought there was no chance they could stay put at five and expect him to be available, and I was wrong. They got a player that, if healthy, can be a franchise cornerstone at the position.

With that in mind, I like the picks of Jackson, Igbinoghene, and Hunt. None of those three are going to be ready to start on day one, but each has the upside to be stars at the next level. Jackson has the size and athleticism to be a starting left tackle with some refining. Igbinoghene is still figuring things out on the defensive side of the ball, but he has the kind of athleticism teams covet at cornerback. Hunt is a physically imposing player that can play at tackle or guard. I like him best on the inside, but either way, he has to get better with his pad-level and balance.

Davis and Strowbridge can line up in a variety of spots on the defensive front, which is something Brian Flores craves on that side of the ball. I’m not a huge fan of Kindley, who not only has some of the same issues as Hunt but also has weight concerns. Still, he moves surprisingly well for his size, and with better discipline, he can push for a starting role early in his career. The fall of Weaver was probably the biggest shock for me in this draft, as he is a talented edge rusher. He doesn’t have the ideal build for the position, but I’m excited to see how they use him, and I won’t be shocked if he is playing meaningful snaps as a rookie. Ferguson and Perry should improve the special teams units, while Perry could also force them to find a role for him on offense thanks to his ability with the ball in his hands.

Minnesota Vikings

Favorite Pick: Ezra Cleveland Least Favorite: D.J. Wonnum Class Grade: A-
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 22 Justin Jefferson WR LSU 20
1 31 Jeff Gladney CB TCU 35
2 58 Ezra Cleveland OT Boise State 43
3 89 Cameron Dantzler CB Mississippi State 71
4 117 D.J. Wonnum DE South Carolina NA
4 130 James Lynch DT Baylor 57
4 132 Troy Dye LB Oregon NA
5 169 Harrison Hand CB Temple NA
5 176 K.J. Osborn WR Miami NA
6 203 Blake Brandel OT Oregon State NA
6 205 Josh Metellus S Michigan NA
7 225 Kenny Willekes DE Michigan State NA
7 244 Nate Stanley QB Iowa NA
7 249 Brian Cole S Mississippi State NA
7 253 Kyle Hinton G/C Washburn NA
Comments: It’s not often you see a team make 15 picks in one draft, but it makes sense based on the tone Minnesota has set this offseason. The Vikings have had to part with veteran players at a number of positions, and it’s clear they wanted to get younger and cheaper across the roster. That’s the only reason a team picks this many times, as opposed to packaging picks to move up. They started this draft by targeting value. Jefferson fell in their lap at 22. I’m curious to see how they use him with Adam Thielen, considering they have very similar skillsets. Still, it gives the Vikings another talented pass-catcher on that offense.

After three significant losses to their cornerback ranks over the past few months, getting Gladney and Dantzler reinforces that position with two talented, yet diverse players. I thought Ezra Cleveland might slip into the latter parts of the first round with his unique blend of size and athleticism. Cleveland can be a future starter at left tackle with continued development in his hand and footwork. I have my questions about the scheme fit of both Wonnum and Lynch, but both are versatile players that could ease those concerns if they can get after the quarterback.

Dye is a player that I like a lot, as he brings intensity and versatility to their linebacker room. He, as well as Hand, Metellus, Willekes, and Cole, can all push to add quality depth to this defense. Osborn has talent but was inconsistent during his time in college. However, special teams could be his ticket to a roster spot. Both Brandal and Hinton are good fits for their zone-heavy scheme but may have an uphill battle to make the roster. As for Stanley, he’s got some similarities to current backup Sean Mannion, and if Gary Kubiak can improve his decision-making, he could make this team.

New England Patriots

Favorite Pick: Devin Asiasi Least Favorite: Anfernee Jennings Class Grade: C
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
2 37 Kyle Dugger S Lenoir-Rhyne 55
2 60 Josh Uche OLB Michigan 66
3 87 Anfernee Jennings OLB Alabama NA
3 91 Devin Asiasi TE UCLA NA
3 101 Dalton Keene TE Virginia Tech NA
5 159 Justin Rohrwasser K Marshall NA
6 182 Michael Onwenu G Michigan NA
6 195 Justin Herron G/T Wake Forest NA
6 204 Cassh Maluia LB Wyoming NA
7 230 Dustin Woodard C Memphis NA
Comments: I’m not sure I always understand New England’s thought process during the draft, but they’ve proven me wrong before. Still, everyone is waiting to see what comes after the Belichick-Brady dynasty, and I’m not sure this is going to knock their socks off. I like the fit of Dugger, but I was a bigger fan of Xavier McKinney, who they could have taken before trading down. Still, Dugger has a versatile skillset that Belichick can take advantage of with his unique personnel packages.

Uche is a similar player as an edge rusher with incredible arm length on his linebacker build. I look forward to seeing what he can do with a staff that makes the most of his abilities. However, the addition of another edge-rushing linebacker like Jennings was a bit perplexing to me. A year ago, they brought in Chase Winovich, who also fits that mold, and I’m not sure how they make the most of all three. I thought New England would target a tight end or two in this draft, and I am quite impressed with the pair of Asiasi and Keene. Asiasi is much more of a “move” tight end with the athleticism to take advantage of linebackers and safeties in coverage, while Keene is more of a blue-collar player that thrives with his toughness. Both should play early and often in New England.

This roster needed a kicker and targeted Rohrwasser at 159. They’ve also fallen victim to the injury bug on their offensive line quite a bit in recent years, and Onwenu, Herron, and Woodard are all candidates to add depth to this roster. Maluia can be an instant contributor on special teams but will have an uphill battle to make this roster if he can’t provide the kind of versatility Belichick covets in his defenders.

New Orleans Saints

Favorite Pick: Adam Trautman Least Favorite: Tommy Stevens Class Grade: B
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 24 Cesar Ruiz C/G Michigan 29
3 74 Zack Baun OLB Wisconsin 37
3 105 Adam Trautman TE Dayton 95
7 240 Tommy Stevens QB Mississippi State NA
Comments: Considering the salary cap issues New Orleans is set to have in the future, it’s tough for me to give them anything higher than a B when they only make four selections. The draft is the ultimate way to add young, inexpensive players to a roster, and while I understand the Saints going all in for the final leg of Drew Brees’ career, I think it’s a mistake to completely ignore the five-year plan.

However, I am a big fan of their first three picks. Cesar Ruiz is a versatile player that could allow them to shop Larry Warford, or just replace him. Baun is a versatile linebacker with a nose for the ball that I felt had a chance to go late on day one. Maybe there is more to the diluted test sample than we know, but I was shocked to see him fall this far. Trautman is my favorite player of this group, thanks to his imposing size and surprising athleticism. He’s got the makings of a Pro Bowl tight end once he catches up to the speed of the NFL.

To say Stevens was my least favorite is simple because I really like the other three picks. He’s got an intriguing set of skills for the quarterback position, and while he may not have a strong chance at making the roster, he could be a developmental project that can learn on the practice squad.

New York Giants

Favorite Pick: Andrew Thomas Least Favorite: Cam Brown Class Grade: B
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 4 Andrew Thomas OT Georgia 10
2 36 Xavier McKinney S Alabama 24
3 99 Matt Peart OT UConn NA
4 110 Darnay Holmes CB UCLA NA
5 150 Shane Lemieux G Oregon NA
6 183 Cam Brown OLB Penn State NA
7 218 Carter Coughlin OLB Minnesota NA
7 238 T.J. Brunson LB South Carolina NA
7 247 Chris Williamson CB Minnesota NA
7 255 Tae Crowder LB Georgia NA
Comments: I have to say, I’m impressed with the Giants for staying at home and grabbing Thomas. No tackle in this class is more ready to step in on day one and start on the blindside than the former-Bulldog. He changes direction better than any of the top options and has the longest arms of the bunch as well. Marc Columbo will need to polish his technique up a bit, but he’s got plenty of experience doing that in Dallas, and I expect him to get the best out of Thomas.

I did not expect McKinney to fall into the second round, and by doing so, the Giants were able to grab a versatile safety that Joe Judge can move all over the defense. McKinney was one of the surest tacklers in this class, and he can really get moving when he finds the football. There may be some limitations in coverage, but the value was too good to pass up at 36. Matt Peart was just outside of my top 100, and I like the Giants grabbing him at 99. If Nate Solder sticks around, it will allow them to be patient with a player that has plenty of upside but is also a long way away from being a finished product. Still, you can’t coach being nearly six feet, seven inches with a wingspan of over 86 inches.

Holmes has a chance to have an immediate impact as a slot corner. He is a dynamite athlete with tons of confidence, and if he were three inches taller, we’d have been talking about him as a first-round pick. The addition of Lemieux should send a signal to Giants fans that Dave Gettleman is no longer interested in this unit being the weak link of the offense. The Oregon-product will add quality depth to that group and could push Will Hernandez if his issues in pass protection don’t improve.

Between Brown and Coughlin, I like the former-Gopher better in that scheme. Brown may look like an edge rusher, but he has minimal experience doing it and may be better suited inside. Coughlin was a menace in opposing backfields throughout his career, and while he may not have the desired athleticism, he can provide good depth at outside linebacker. Brunson and Crowder will provide depth as more traditional linebackers on the inside and will need to prove capable on special teams to give themselves the edge, as will Williamson.

New York Jets

Favorite Pick: Denzel Mims Least Favorite: Jabari Zuniga Class Grade: A-
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 11 Mekhi Becton OT Louisville 15
2 59 Denzel Mims WR Baylor 45
3 68 Ashtyn Davis S California 70
3 79 Jabari Zuniga DE Florida NA
4 120 La’Mical Perine RB Florida NA
4 125 James Morgan QB Florida International NA
4 129 Cameron Clark OL Charlotte NA
5 158 Bryce Hall CB Virginia 49
6 191 Braden Mann P Texas A&M NA
Comments: I thought they might go with Tristan Wirfs over Becton, but it’s they wanted someone suited for the blindside. Becton’s potential is as enormous as he is, but they are going to have to polish him up. I thought Mims had an outside chance at slipping into the first round, so to get him at 59 was is outstanding. There is a strong chance Mims is the Jets’ number-one target by the time the season is over. He’s a big target with more than enough athleticism, and he catches everything within reach.

Davis has terrific range to be a deep safety, and while he still needs to become more instinctual at the position, he’s got the upside of a future starter. I don’t dislike the pick of Zuniga, but I still had more than a few players with top-100 grades available at 79, and he wasn’t one of them. Still, I like his motor and overall athleticism, and I do think he can stand up at linebacker. Him being my least favorite is a product of how much I like this group. Perine is a tough runner, and should instantly push to spell Le’Veon Bell as a complementary back. Morgan is a guy that has a lot of upside, and considering Sam Darnold is set as New York’s starter, the former-Panther can continue to develop behind him.

Clark is another one of my favorites as a guy with a nasty demeanor, and he and Becton are going to set the standard for that offensive line. While many have Clark projected as a tackle, I think he could push to start at guard from day one. Hall is the wild card of the bunch. He fell to day three because of an injury in 2019, but when healthy, he is a guy that can push for a starting job. He is long, with good make-up speed, and gets his hands on a lot of passes. Mann was my top punter in this class, and I have no doubt that the job is his for the taking heading into training camp.

Philadelphia Eagles

Favorite Pick: Jack Driscoll Least Favorite: K’Von Wallace Class Grade: C+
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 21 Jalen Reagor WR TCU 36
2 53 Jalen Hurts QB Oklahoma 87
3 103 Davion Taylor LB Colorado NA
4 127 K’Von Wallace S Clemson NA
4 145 Jack Driscoll G Auburn NA
5 168 John Hightower WR Boise State NA
6 196 Shaun Bradley LB Temple NA
6 200 Quez Watkins WR Southern Miss NA
6 210 Prince Tega Wanogho OT Auburn 100
7 233 Casey Toohill OLB/DE Stanford NA
Comments: It seemed as if the board didn’t exactly fall like the Eagles wanted early on in this process, but as the draft went on, I thought they got better value with their selections. In the first round, you know the Eagles were doing everything they could to move up and grab CeeDee Lamb. It just wasn’t meant to be, and the sting burns that much more by seeing him land in Dallas. However, I thought Justin Jefferson would be their contingency plan, considering they need a player that can operate out of the slot. Jefferson was versatile enough to play anywhere in the formation, but Philadelphia had a different plan in mind.

While I’m a big fan of Reagor, there are two issues I have with this pick. The first is that the former-Horned Frog has a very similar skillset to DeSean Jackson, and I’m not sure how they get the most out of both. The other is that Philadelphia had a major issue with dropped passes in 2019, and Reagor comes with similar concerns. I love Hurts as a player and person, and I’ll be interested to see what they do with him. Is he going to play a Taysom Hill role, or are they looking to develop him as a passer? Doug Pederson is clever enough to do both, but it will take years of patience, and this is a second-round pick. Taylor and Bradley are a pair of rangy linebackers that can both compete for snaps early in their career.

The Wallace pick is a bit of a head-scratcher for me because I felt there were better defensive backs available at the time. Still, he brings the energy and intensity that the Eagles like on that side of the ball. Driscoll can push for playing time right away as a guard, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he is starting games at some point in 2020. He has great mobility and plays with very good awareness on the field. Hightower has the skills to earn a job as well. He has a great combination of size and speed and judging by the addition of Reagor, Hightower, and Watkins, it appears the Eagles want to get faster on the perimeter.

I love the Wanogho pick because I think his best football is ahead of him. He makes up for slightly less-than-ideal arm-length with outstanding mobility and could be groomed into a future swing tackle. Toohill is a versatile player that could line up at linebacker, while also rushing the passer in the nickel. However, special teams will earn his ticket to the roster.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Favorite Pick: Alex Highsmith Least Favorite: Chase Claypool Class Grade:C-
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
2 49 Chase Claypool WR Notre Dame NA
3 102 Alex Highsmith OLB Charlotte NA
4 124 Anthony McFarland RB Maryland NA
4 135 Kevin Dotson G Louisiana-Lafayette NA
6 198 Antoine Brooks S Maryland  NA
7 232 Carlos Davis DT Nebraska NA
Comments: This class was a disappointment to me in a variety of ways. First, this team has no answer for their future at quarterback, and that hasn’t changed. Roethlisberger is 38 and has become even more turnover prone as he has aged. Rudolph is a tough sell to that fan base after what they saw last season, and Hodges doesn’t inspire much confidence either. I get how not having a first-round pick can be detrimental to finding a quarterback, but there were still developmental players that could have been added.

I don’t care for the selection of Claypool that high. He’s a productive receiver thanks to his big frame and play strength, but the athleticism he showed at the combine is not indicative of what we see on tape. The Steelers are stacking up top-100 picks at receiver, and they are missing far more often than they are getting them right. Highsmith is a player that can push for playing time immediately and may allow them to move on from Bud Dupree. It’s not that I don’t like Dupree, but I am always hesitant when it comes to paying players who have a breakout season in their contract year. Highsmith is a balanced defender who can be just as disruptive against the run as he can the pass, which was never more evident than 2019 when he had 21.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks.

McFarland can also have an immediate impact as a big-play running back that may remind Steeler fans of Willie Parker. His straight-line speed is an element that this offense sorely needs coming out of the backfield. Dotson has the look of a future-starter, with his size and desire to put his opponents on their backs. He needs to become more technically sound, but this could be a steal in a year or two. Brooks sand Davis both bring solid physical traits that could help them add valued depth to this defense, and will push for roster spots.

San Francisco 49ers

Favorite Pick: Javon Kinlaw Least Favorite: Brandon Aiyuk Class Grade: B
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 14 Javon Kinlaw DT South Carolina 11
1 25 Brandon Aiyuk WR Arizona State 61
5 153 Colton McKivitz OT West Virginia NA
6 190 Charlie Woerner TE Georgia NA
7 217 Jauan Jennings WR Tennessee NA
Comments: I gave this class a B simply because I don’t get the first two picks. At 14, San Francisco had an opportunity to bring in one of my top receivers in this class in Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb, and I thought there was no better player in this class to help Jimmy Garoppolo than Lamb. Everything Aiyuk could be for them, I feel Lamb can be at a much higher level. He was also higher on my board than Kinlaw.

Now, I don’t dislike the pick of Kinlaw, as he was ranked 11th on my board. However, the whole scenario of that defensive line is confusing. A year ago, they brought in Dee Ford and Nick Bosa because Arik Armstead hadn’t worked out. He has a breakout year, creating a surplus of wealth on the defensive line that was the driving force to a Super Bowl. They decide to pay him a hefty contract but dip into their surplus by sending DeForest Buckner to Indianapolis for a pick that they use to grab Kinlaw. I get wanting to get cheaper and younger on the defensive line, so why bring back Armstead instead of paying Buckner. At least in that scenario, you keep a player better suited on the interior, where they were they had less depth in 2019. In the end, Kinlaw is going to be a great player, and that defensive line is going to continue to be a strength. It just seemed like the 49ers took an unconventional path that included them burning that first pick.

After that, they had to reach on Aiyuk to satisfy their need for another playmaker, and while I do like his upside, he still needs a lot of work getting open. Also, where is the help for a secondary that got shredded by Patrick Mahomes despite the fact that this defensive line had him running for his life most of the night? McKivitz has the ability to develop into a swing tackle. Woerner is a versatile option at tight end that can compete to improve the back end of this roster. I also like Jennings as a big target that can make this team, but there are some serious character concerns that come with him that would have kept him off my draft board completely.

Seattle Seahawks

Favorite Pick: Damien Lewis Least Favorite: Jordyn Brooks Class Grade: C
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 27 Jordyn Brooks LB Texas Tech NA
2 48 Darrell Taylor LB Tennessee NA
3 69 Damien Lewis G LSU 69
4 133 Colby Parkinson TE Stanford NA
4 144 DeeJay Dallas RB Miami NA
5 148 Alton Robinson DE Syracuse NA
6 214 Freddie Swaain WR Florida NA
7 251 Stephen Sullivan TE LSU NA
Comments: The Seahawks march to the tune of their own beat on draft day, and while it has helped earn them a Super Bowl in the past, it’s also made for some significant busts. It’s not that I dislike Brooks, who has very good instincts, straight-line speed, and the ability to finish. However, I’ve got him ranked 101 on my board, and while I may be a little lower on him than some, I don’t know of anyone that had a first-round grade on him. Maybe everyone, including me, is wrong, but this is not maximizing the value of the 27th-overall pick.

Taylor was 112 on my board, and while that is not as big of a reach, it’s still not good value. He has the ability to play that hybrid linebacker role in Seattle and also gives them a player that can get after the quarterback in the nickel. There are some focus issues, but I could see him pushing Bruce Irvin for snaps. The best pick, by far, in this draft was that of Lewis. I’ve continuously voiced my concerns about their play on the offensive line, and not only is this great value, but he should be a day-one starter.

The Seahawks like to play several tight ends, and it’s clear they wanted to add a tall, more-mobile target to that group. Parkinson and Sullivan should compete to fill that void, while Sullivan could even slim down and help at receiver as more of a Devin Funchess-type. I’m a big fan of Dallas, who can help in a variety of ways. He has big-play ability as a runner, and while he’s not a finished product in the passing game, he is ahead of the curb thanks to his history as a receiver. Robinson has the ability off the edge to earn a spot in that defensive end rotation, and while Swain is not the most polished-receiver, his speed should give him a chance to find a place on that roster.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Favorite Pick: Ke’Shawn Vaughn Least Favorite: Antoine Winfield Class Grade: B
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 13 Tristan Wirfs OT Iowa 12
2 45 Antoine Winfield S Minnesota 51
3 76 Ke’Shawn Vaughn RB Vanderbilt NA
5 161 Tyler Johnson WR Minnesota 88
6 194 Khalil Davis DT Nebraska NA
7 241 Chapelle Russell LB Temple NA
7 245 Raymond Calais RB Louisville-Lafayette NA
Comments: I like this group for Tampa Bay, but I didn’t love the way the board fell to them early. Of the top four tackles in this class, I felt Wirfs was the least capable in pass protection, and yet he was the one to fall to them. He is an extremely powerful player with exceptional explosion of the snap that makes him a terrific run-blocker. Still, with Tom Brady in place, this team needed a player that could keep him clean. With Winfield, I just don’t see the need. Mike Edwards and Justin Evans are both top-100 picks in their respective drafts, and M.J. Stewart was as well and can be used in a safety role. There were areas in the front seven that could have been addressed with a player like A.J. Epenesa or Marlon Davidson, and J.K. Dobbins was still on the board as well.

However, I’m a huge fan of Vaughn, and fantasy football fanatics should keep their eye on him. He is instantly the best running back on that roster and can take the heat off of Brady with the way impact he can have on the ground. Tyler Johnson is also a steal as a player that could immediately step into the role of a slot receiver. That is a position that Brady loves to depend on, and Johnson could quickly become a trusted target for him. Davis is a better athlete than football player at this point but has some intriguing physical gifts to develop as a defensive lineman. Russell will need to win a spot due to this play on special teams, as will Calais as a return man that can offer big-play ability in a gadget role.

Tennessee Titans

Favorite Pick: Larrell Murchison Least Favorite: Darrynton Evans Class Grade: C+
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 29 Isaiah Wilson OT Georgia 92
2 61 Kristian Fulton CB LSU 38
3 93 Darrynton Evans RB Appalachian State NA
5 174 Larrell Murchison DT North Carolina State NA
7 224 Cole McDonald QB Hawaii NA
7 243 Chris Jackson S Marshall NA
Comments: This group has some intriguing names, but I’m not sure how much better it makes Tennessee right now. Wilson is mammoth at right tackle, but 29 was just too high. He still has a lot of areas to clean up to be the kind of player Jack Conklin was, and I have my concerns with his weight moving forward. Fulton is a solid player across the board, but I’m not sure he has one trait that will make him a special player. Still, he gives this team another capable corner.

I live Evans, as well as the fact that the Titans targeted someone to complement Derrick Henry, but 93 was a little rich for me, considering some of the players that were still available that could have helped on the defensive line. They found that help in Murchison, who may not have the ideal length to fit their scheme, but he gives them an interior pass-rush presence that Tennessee lost when they traded Jurrell Casey. McDonald is a nice developmental player that they can try and groom at the quarterback position, while Jackson may need to prove his worth on special teams to snag a job.

Washington Redskins

Favorite Pick: Chase Young Least Favorite: Antonio Gibson Class Grade: B
Round Pick Player Position School Top-100 Ranking
1 2 Chase Young DE Ohio State 1
3 66 Antonio Gibson RB/WR Memphis NA
4 108 Saahdiq Charles OT LSU NA
4 142 Antonio Gandy-Golden WR Liberty NA
5 156 Keith Ismael C San Diego State NA
5 162 Khaleke Hudson LB Michigan NA
7 216 Kamren Curl S Arkansas NA
7 229 James Smith-Williams DE North Carolina State NA
Comments: Anytime you can secure the top player in the class, it boosts your grade, and that is what we have here. Chase Young is a stud that they can pair with Montez Sweat to give them one of the most gifted edge-duos in the NFL. That pick was enough to say the Redskins had a good class. The next two picks caught me by surprise. Not sure where they plan to play Gibson in the offense, but there were better running backs and wide receivers still on the board. I understand if his versatility was what gave him the edge on their board, but I’m not sure his upside warrants the 66th selection.

After trading Trent Williams, I figured they’d target a tackle, but Ezra Cleveland fell all the way to 58, which was more than close enough for them to move up to, and Josh Jones was still on the board. Charles has good athleticism for the position, but his arm-length is concerning, and consistency was an issue throughout his career. Gandy-Golden can push for meaningful snaps from day one, as the Redskins need a receiver with size in their offense. Ismael is also someone who could push for a starting job. I thought he’d be valued toward the top of day three, so to get him in the fifth round was a steal. The Redskins finished strong with the additions of Hudson, Curl, Smith-Williams, who can all bring valued depth to the roster, and each can help on special teams as well.

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]]> https://pigskinnut.com/2020-nfl-draft-grades-on-all-32-teams-draft-classes/feed/ 2 11225 How Players From The AFC North Are Making Differences In Their Communities https://pigskinnut.com/how-players-from-the-afc-north-are-making-differences-in-their-communities/ Wed, 22 Jan 2020 01:18:06 +0000 https://pigskinnut.com/?p=9670 The NFL is a prime platform for players and coaches alike to give back to their communities and those in need. They are blessed to perform a job they love and have a passion for, all the while getting paid handsomely. Many players come from rough backgrounds and hard times and do whatever they can [...]

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]]> The NFL is a prime platform for players and coaches alike to give back to their communities and those in need. They are blessed to perform a job they love and have a passion for, all the while getting paid handsomely. Many players come from rough backgrounds and hard times and do whatever they can to give back to those who support them. These a few of the stories from players from teams in the AFC North.

Andy Dalton-QB-Cincinnati Bengals

Dalton and his wife helped fulfill the dream of a disabled girl. They put together the Royal Prom, specified for all children with a disability. The pair also created the Dalton Foundation, which helps kids at the Cincinnati Hospital. When Dalton defeated the Ravens in 2017 and helped the Bills end their 17-year playoff drought, many fans and players of Buffalo donated over $360,000 to Dalton’s foundation.

Anthony Levine-S-Baltimore Ravens

The two-time Super Bowl-winning safety is part of Happiness to Others. This group helps pay for SAT vouchers for students in need that live in the Baltimore area.

Ben Roethlisberger-QB-Pittsburgh Steelers

Big Ben is very invested in his Swiss heritage, even becoming a spokesman for Swiss Roots. This is a campaign that helps Americans of Swiss origin connect with their ancestors and heritage. He also has the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, which supports police and fire departments, especially the K-9 units.

Odell Beckham Jr-WR-Cleveland Browns

One of the most polarizing players in the league, OBJ also gives quite a bit back to his community. He donated half a million dollars to aid in his hometown’s rebuild after floods. Also, Beckham personally flew out to visit a child struggling with cancer who said OBJ was his favorite player. The two spent time together, all the while raising funds and awareness. There were donations made by Odell were also given to Watt’s Hurricane Harvey relief fund and towards ending hunger in America.

My Cause, My Cleats

Players from across the league are creating custom cleats for charity. They will present and likely wear these cleats during games, which will later be auctioned off. 100% of the auction money will be donated to the organization of the player’s choice. These are some of the players from the AFC North who are involved:

Cincinnati Bengals

RB Giovani Bernard: Run Gio Foundation- Underprivileged Youth

QB Andy Dalton: The Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation- Youth Illness

DE Carlos Dunlap: Carlos Dunlap Foundation- Anti-bullying

WR Alex Erickson: Hodan Community Services- Learning Disability Support

WR AJ Green: Hope Road Nicaragua- International Relief

Cleveland Brown

CB T.J. Carrie: TJ Carrie Foundation- Heart Health

WR Rashard Higgins: Mesquite Animal Pawtners- Animal Cruelty Prevention

WR Jarvis Landry: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation- Cystic Fibrosis Awareness

QB Baker Mayfield: Special Olympics- Special Needs, Providence House Cleveland- Youth Support

TE David Njoku: Hands for Hunger- Hunger Prevention

DE Chad Thomas: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention- Suicide Prevention and Awareness

CB Denzel Ward: Make Them Know Your Name- Heart Health

Baltimore Ravens

TE Mark Andrews: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation- Diabetes Research

LB Tyus Bowser: Autism Speaks- Autism Awareness

CB Brandon Carr: Carr Cares Foundation- Youth Literacy

LS Morgan Cox: Agape North Foundation- Poverty

S Tony Jefferson: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance- Mental Health

S Anthony Levine: Criminal Justice Reform

WR Chris Moore: Lupus Foundation of America- Lupus Awareness

NT Michael Pierce: Israel Collective- Israel Conflict Resolution

DE Brandon Williams: Maryland Food Bank- Hunger Prevention

Pittsburgh Steelers

T Zach Banner: B3 Foundation- Youth Mentorship

DE Cameron Heyward: The Heyward House- Pediatric Cancer

LB Tyler Matakevich: Show Your Soft Side- Animal Rescue

T Chukwuma Okorafor: Stomp Out Bullying- Anti-bullying

WR Juju Smith-Schuster: Call of Duty Endowment- Military Appreciation

 

How Players From The NFC South Are Making Differences In Their Communities

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]]> 9670 NFL Takeaways – Week 15 https://pigskinnut.com/nfl-takeaways-week-15/ Tue, 17 Dec 2019 08:55:53 +0000 https://pigskinnut.com/?p=9443 Lamar Jackson and Ravens keep rolling With the 42-21 victory over the New York Jets on Thursday, the Baltimore Ravens have now won 10 straight games. Lamar Jackson contributed 5 TDs through the air with another 86 yards on the ground, which helped him surpass the legendary Michael Vick for the most rushing yards in [...]

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]]>
  • Lamar Jackson and Ravens keep rolling
  • With the 42-21 victory over the New York Jets on Thursday, the Baltimore Ravens have now won 10 straight games. Lamar Jackson contributed 5 TDs through the air with another 86 yards on the ground, which helped him surpass the legendary Michael Vick for the most rushing yards in a single season by a QB. On a weekend where Joe Burrow won the Heisman at 23 years old, Lamar Jackson (currently 22, will be 23 on Jan. 7) has a chance to join the Chief’s Patrick Mahomes as one of the youngest NFL MVP winners since Dan Marino won the award in 1984. At 12-2, the Ravens will look towards locking up the number 1 seed in the AFC this upcoming weekend against the reeling 6-8 Cleveland Browns.

     

    The Carolina Panthers could be in the market for a QB in the 2020 NFL Draft

    You heard it here at PSN first. After being inserted into the starting lineup for Week 3 following Cam Newton’s season-ending injury, undrafted and former #1 ranked HS QB in the nation Kyle Allen led the Panthers to 4 straight victories. Many executives across the league and media analysts around the nation, myself included, touted Allen as the future of the Panthers at the NFL’s most important position. Oh, how things change. Since their Week 7 bye, Carolina has lost 7 of their last 8. It’s being reported that rookie QB Will Grier will get his first NFL start Week 16 against the Colts. No pressure Will, but he’ll have to show future franchise QB traits and then some the final 2 weeks of the season to prevent the Panthers from being major players for a QB in the 2020 draft. In a world where a top-10 overall selection in Josh Rosen can be moved on from after a single season, even in a less than ideal situation, it’s fair to wonder if the Panthers are doing their homework on 2020 QB’s regardless of how Will Grier performs. It certainly doesn’t help his cause that at this point in the season, current players on the roster are likely already planning their family vacations for several weeks from now.

     

    Eagles & Cowboys keep the NFC East a mystery, Eli wins

    After their 37-27 win at Washington on Sunday, the Eagles have now won 2 straight and have stayed in contention for the NFC East. Despite the Eagles’ overall struggles and lack of depth on the roster, with all the injuries they have dealt with all season long, Carson Wentz has quietly enjoyed a solid season with a 25 to 7 TD/INT ratio and has managed to keep his passer rating over 90. This was on full display this past Sunday when he completed nearly 70% percent of his passes with 3 TDs and 0 INTs while working with a makeshift WR core. Next week’s matchup with the 7-7 Dallas Cowboys looms large as the Eagles could take first place with a W.

    The Cowboys have been one of the more frustrating teams of the 2019 NFL season. They have remained in 1st place within the NFC East despite losing 4 of their last 5 games heading into this past weekend. So, how did they fare against the then 8-5 LA Rams? 44-21 blowout victory. This year’s NFC East has other NFL coaches openly questioning a playoff format adjustment, and quite frankly, it’s easy to see why. The win against the Rams was the first time in 7 tries this season that the Cowboys have beat a team with a winning record.

    Eli Manning didn’t light up the stat sheet, but he got the victory for the Giants in what may have been his last start ever at MetLife Stadium. Say what you want about Eli, but he’s always been universally known as a class-act member of the community and his locker room. Don’t be surprised if he ends up with a gold jacket.

     

    Texans get the much-needed win, Steelers blow it.

    Analysts across NFL Network and ESPN predicted the Titans to not only win this past Sunday, but to sweep the Texans in their 2 matchups within the last 3 weeks of the season. It wasn’t pretty, but the Texans reminded the Titans and everyone else why they’ve won the AFC South 3 out of the past 4 seasons with their gritty 24-21 win on Sunday. The defense stepped up huge against the Ryan Tannehill led Titans, highlighted by a game-changing red-zone interception by OLB Whitney Mercilius which changed the course of the game. Houston will have a big opportunity to cement their playoff status this Saturday when they take on the explosive 7-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are riding a 4 game win streak. It’s worth mentioning that after Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans was lost for the season last week, it’s being reported that WR Chris Godwin will miss the final 2 weeks of the seasons after suffering a hamstring injury this past Sunday.

    The Steelers didn’t have much of a quack against the Bills at home Sunday night. Devlin “Duck” Hodges fell back to reality in dramatic fashion, looking like a deer in the headlights much of the night. He sailed too many passes, generally showed poor pocket awareness, and several times over the course of the game it felt like he would just close his eyes and chuck the football up for grabs. He finished 23/38 with 1 TD and 4 INTs in what was easily his worst outing as a professional. Pittsburgh’s 17-10 loss opened the door for 2 AFC South teams to potentially make the playoffs. The Steelers enter Week 16 with a must-win matchup against the 5-9 Jets, considering the Week 17 matchup with the division-leading Ravens and the potential Texans/Titans outcomes to end the regular season.

     

    Browns do Browns things

    Cleveland had the chance two weeks ago to sweep the Steelers and control their Wild-Card hopes moving forward. They lost but rebounded with a victory last week against the Bengals. It wasn’t a stretch to assume the Bills would beat the Steelers on Sunday night, so the Browns had a golden opportunity to become playoff relevant again this past weekend against the 3-9-1 Arizona Cardinals.

    Sike.

    The Cardinals dominated to the tune of 38-24, and it wasn’t even really that close. Midseason acquisition RB Kenyan Drake had 4 TDs, Kyler Murray looked solid, and suddenly there’s optimism in the desert heading into 2020.

    If only Cleveland could say the same. Rumor has it that multiple players on the Browns roster want out, and it might take a coaching change this offseason to right the ship. Keep an eye on this situation several weeks after the season ends.

     

    Drew Brees gets 540 

    Not only did Drew Brees break Peyton Manning’s NFL career TD record, but he also set the NFL’s single-game completion percentage record, completing over 96% percent of his passes to 9 different receivers against the now playoff eliminated Indianapolis Colts. Read that again. Kudos to a guy that the lowly Miami Dolphins wouldn’t sign because of injury concerns, and a guy that had a replacement drafted before he ever hit his prime. The now 11-3 Saints will flirt with a first-round bye the last 2 weeks of the season if they continue to win.

     

    Vikings are Super Bowl contenders

    Kirk Cousins had his worst game in weeks. Dalvin Cook had an injury scare. None of it ultimately mattered as the Vikings forced 7 turnovers on their way to a 39-10 rout of the usually competitive LA Chargers. The 7 TO’s were the most the franchise has caused in a single game since 1995. The defense has the goods, and if the offense can stay healthy, the 11-3 Minnesota Vikings will be a problem within the NFC come playoff time.

     

    Final Thoughts

    1. The New England Patriots are probably the worst 11-3 team in NFL history. Maybe the defense will be good enough to carry them in the playoffs, but the rest of the AFC elite smells blood.

    2. Pencil in Joe Burrow to the Bengals.

    3. There may be hope in D.C., Haskins and McLaurin are growing….will Urban Meyer be their next HC? He was reported to be with Redskins owner Dan Synder on Monday.

    4. Mahomes getting healthier is a problem for the rest of the AFC.

    The post NFL Takeaways – Week 15 appeared first on PigSkinNut Football.

    ]]> 9443 NFL Takeaways – Week 12 https://pigskinnut.com/nfl-takeaways-week-12/ Wed, 27 Nov 2019 04:37:30 +0000 https://pigskinnut.com/?p=9239 Baltimore stakes claim as the NFL’s best Another week, another blowout. Since the week 4 loss to the Browns, the Ravens have won 7 straight. The last 3 victories have been by the average score of 45-9. Last night’s demolishing of the Los Angeles Rams surprised no one, but 6 straight TD’s in consecutive drives [...]

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    ]]> Baltimore stakes claim as the NFL’s best

    Another week, another blowout. Since the week 4 loss to the Browns, the Ravens have won 7 straight. The last 3 victories have been by the average score of 45-9. Last night’s demolishing of the Los Angeles Rams surprised no one, but 6 straight TD’s in consecutive drives to begin the game put the rest of the league on notice that this might be the team to beat in the NFL. The Ravens will have another opportunity this Sunday when they host the 10-1 San Francisco 49ers. Speaking of the 49ers…

     

    San Francisco brings Green Bay back down to earth

    If you chose Green Bay to go into San Francisco to pull out the W this past weekend, I wouldn’t have argued with you. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers, a solid run game, and a much-improved defense than what they had last year.

    None of that mattered. Aaron Rodgers was mostly held in check, Aaron Jones surprisingly only touched the ball 13 times (targeted only once in the passing game as well), and the defense looked average at best against Jimmy G and the 49ers offense.

    Right now you have to love what San Francisco brings to the table with a healthy George Kittle, a stable of running backs and emerging rookie WR Deebo Samuel. DE Nick Bosa added another sack this weekend and continued to show why he’s on the shortlist for the NFL’s Defensive ROY.

    As we mentioned last week, the margin for error in the NFC is slim. The 49ers still remain on top for the time being and have a chance for a statement win at Baltimore this Sunday.

     

    Hello playoffs: Houston and Pittsburgh

    Less than 7 days after an embarrassing showing in Baltimore, Houston arguably had one of it’s most important games of the year in battling the Indianapolis Colts in NRG stadium. It wasn’t pretty, but the Texans managed to scrap their way into a 20-17 victory. With the win, the Colts and Texans have now split games for the season but as of now, the Texans have a one-game lead in the AFC South. Next up for the Texans: at 10-1 New England. Colts: at the 6-5 Titans. This battle isn’t going anywhere soon and the Titans have a chance to assert themselves into the conversation this week.

    Meanwhile, if the season ended today the Steelers would be the 6th seed. Yeah, the Big Ben-less Steelers. Mike Tomlin does not get enough credit for holding this squad together despite everything that has happened within the past year. Pittsburgh’s 6-5 record hasn’t come easily. The Steelers defense has led the way this year while the offense has done just enough to keep winning. It was announced today that undrafted rookie Devlin “Duck” Hodges will get the start this week against the highly anticipated matchup with the Browns. It’s unclear whether the Steelers organization is simply trying to protect Mason Rudolph after the heavily scrutinized scuffle with Myles Garrett two weeks ago, or if the Steelers are truly signaling that he may not be the future of the team post-Big Ben. This is a team and situation to watch closely the last quarter of this season. Keeping it in the AFC for now…

     

    Knocking on the door: Oakland, Tennessee, Cleveland

    The Colts are obviously still not dead in the AFC South or the wildcard race. But let’s shed some light on the teams mentioned above.

    One week after we lauded the Raiders as a potential surprise playoff team, they got absolutely dominated by the Jets by the tune of 34-3. Ouch. This loss opened the door for the Steelers to take control of the 6th seed, for now. Every week is a challenge in the NFL, but it’s more difficult to imagine the Raiders playing themselves into the playoffs than it was a week ago. Up next: at Kansas City.

    The Tennessee Titans have emerged as one of the more surprising teams within the AFC. After a week 6 shutout loss to the Broncos which left the team at 2-4, the Titans have won 4 out their last 5 with Ryan Tannehill starting at QB. Tennessee has a chance to bypass the Colts and other potential AFC wild-card hopefuls if they go into Indy this weekend and get a W.  Cleveland beating the Steelers in this scenario would place the Titans as the 6th seed heading into week 14. Fun fact: The Titans also travel into Oakland week 14 that will have major playoff implications.

    Cleveland may be the most intriguing of the bunch. After a 4 game slide during the middle of the season, the Browns have won 3 straight. If they win this Sunday in Pittsburgh (against an undrafted rookie QB), the Browns will be back to .500 and will have swept the Steelers this season. Depending on what happens this weekend, they could possibly even sneak into the 6th seed. Looking ahead to their final 4 games of the season after this week: Bengals at home, at Arizona, Baltimore at home, at Bengals. If they beat the Steelers this Sunday, is a 9-7 record possible? The way things are currently going in the AFC, that record could quite possibly be enough to get into the playoffs. The loss of Myles Garrett could ultimately be a big reason why if they don’t.

     

    Seattle, New Orleans stay the course

    Both teams won ugly. But both teams kept their first-round bye hopes alive.

    In possibly the worst game over the weekend, the Seahawks took care of business in Philly with the 17-9 win in which Russell Wilson did not have his best game. This matters, because it showed (even against a struggling Eagles squad) that the Seahawks can still win games without Russell Wilson playing at an MVP-level. Despite trailing the 49ers within their own division, the ‘Hawks still have a legitimate chance to earn the number 1 seed in the NFC.

    New Orleans is now sporting a 2 game win streak with their 34-31 victory over the Panthers, and have the direct head-to-head advantage over the Seahawks from their week 3 win in Seattle. The last 5 games of their season will be tough with games against the 49ers, Titans, and the Colts looming. It’s fair to say that the Saints still have more control of their playoff seeding moving forward than Seattle does.

     

    Buffalo close to clinching a playoff birth

    I’m not sure how many of you reading this had the Bills penciled in as a playoff team before the season, but here we are. 8-3 speaks volumes to the character of this football team. GM Brandon Beane has done a tremendous job of building this team with blue-collar talent/character, highlighted by hiring Sean McDermott away from the Panthers several years ago. Josh Allen has seemingly done just enough this season and this defense has some thinking that they could make some noise in the playoffs this year. As crazy as this sounds, the Bills are one or two wins away from clinching their 1st playoff appearance in nearly 20 years.

     

    5 College Football Takeaways – Week 13

    The post NFL Takeaways – Week 12 appeared first on PigSkinNut Football.

    ]]> 9239 Comeback Story for 2019: Darren Waller https://pigskinnut.com/pigskinnuts-comeback-story-for-2019-darren-waller/ Tue, 05 Nov 2019 02:22:44 +0000 https://pigskinnut.com/?p=9052 Everyone loves a comeback story. Life is full of them. But sometimes, one just sticks out and deserves a little more attention. That’s how I see the story of a man named Darren Waller. Most of us met him during 2019’s HBO series Hard Knocks: The Oakland Raiders. And those who may not know the [...]

    The post Comeback Story for 2019: Darren Waller appeared first on PigSkinNut Football.

    ]]> Everyone loves a comeback story. Life is full of them. But sometimes, one just sticks out and deserves a little more attention. That’s how I see the story of a man named Darren Waller.

    Most of us met him during 2019’s HBO series Hard Knocks: The Oakland Raiders. And those who may not know the full story of the Raiders tight end, let me have the privilege of telling it to you.

    Waller was born on September 13th, 1992, in Landover, Maryland. He is the great-grandson of jazz composer Fats Waller, best known for his song “Ain’t Misbehavin'”. So the limelight is no stranger to his bloodline. Sports entered his life early, and after high school he chose to take his talents to Georgia Tech, to play wide receiver for the Yellow Jackets.

    Chosen in the 6th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, Waller’s rookie season was cut short due to an injury, and he was placed on injured reserve in October of that year.

    Before the 2016 season could get started, he was suspended 4 games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. That season he appeared in 12 games and caught 10 passes, 2 for touchdowns.

    But he would not play the 2017 season, as he was once again suspended, this time for a year, for another violation of the policy.

    This one was the proverbial straw. Waller had overdosed on heroin, not far from the Ravens facility, and because of this, and the suspension, he spent the next few months in detox and rehab, in an attempt to straighten his life up.

    The addiction, as Waller says, started when he was 15. Pain pills from a friend’s medicine cabinet gave him an early way to cope with being a teenager. He said that they gave him a way to not care what others thought about him, and the anxiety he felt daily.

    Waller spent the next 6 months of his life deciding what he would do, now in recovery. Part of that time was spent working in the rehab he went through. He says that humbled him, and reminded him of what a days work really means to his life. Giving him a purpose.

    During that time, he didn’t really know if he wanted to play again, but in the end, he chose football. Waller was reinstated in 2018 and placed on the Ravens practice squad, where he stayed until November when the Raiders signed him to their active roster.

    A long-shot to make the team this year as the Raiders also brought to camp former (and now current) Seahawks TE Luke Willson to help them with depth. But as you probably know by now, Waller didn’t just make the team, he’s their starter. Leading the league in receptions at the position and getting constant praise from his teammates, and coach Gruden.

    “He’s really a rookie playing tight end. He was a wide receiver in college,” Gruden said. “He sat out football for a year. He leads the league in receiving right now at that position, and if you watch him block, I don’t know if there’s a better tight end in football, really.”

    His QB Derek Carr has also spoken about him:

    “You know how many people that helped by being that vulnerable? To see someone that vulnerable and that open … imagine how many more people could get out, how many people we could help. To know that story and to watch this guy play on ‘Monday Night Football’ and make these crazy plays … I mean, you have to root for that guy.

    “I told him, ‘Bro, you don’t know how many people that story, your story, is going to bless and help and change their life. Maybe today they’ll go and ask for help. Maybe tomorrow they finally realize, man, if he could do it, then I can do it.’ … It’s a powerful thing, and I think that needs to be talked about more.”

    Waller was open about his story during the filming of Hard Knocks, sharing that he attends 12-step meetings regularly.

    Waller said, “It’s difficult, but it’s easier now because I know, I feel like I have a purpose in my life,” he said. “I feel like I live with an intention. Before, I didn’t really know who I wanted to be or what I stood for or what I was trying to accomplish.”

    He says he shares his story because professional athletes are often seen as superhuman, impermeable to the same struggles the rest of us have. And he wants to have his story out there. So that maybe someone who is struggling with addiction can see his journey, and what recovery has offered him.

    It should be noted that the NFL paid for his treatment. It would be so easy for the league to turn away from their struggling players, but we have seen the teams and the league show support for those with issues like substance abuse, and mental health.

    I know all-too-well what addiction can do to someone. How dark it is at the bottom. When it came time to decide who I was going to write about for this article, choosing Waller felt natural. We have walked some of the same paths in our lives. So if I can help spread the message of hope, I’m going to jump at it.

    His story doesn’t end here. No, there’s more. He recently signed a 3-year $27 million extension with the Raiders, to keep him in the silver and black for the foreseeable future.

    I chose Darren Waller because of what he has been through. An addict at a young age, who somehow made it to the NFL, but almost lost it because of substance abuse. To redemption, a nice new contract, and helping the Raiders to currently a 4-4 record. Second place in the division, 2 games out of 1st.

    “I’ve come a long way, but at the end of the day, it’s all about [stacking]days, and you go to meetings, and there’s people in there with 20-something years. It’s like, you’re doing good things, but it’s a lifelong commitment. Don’t rest on it. Don’t get complacent with it.”

    I won’t. Not today. And part of that is because of your openness, sharing your story, and spreading the message of hope. In August, Waller celebrated 2 years clean from all mood and mind-altering substances.

    Congratulations on your recovery. Keep doing what you’re doing. We are enjoying watching you succeed. Against all odds. Truly being, a comeback story for years to come.

    Darren Waller is PigskinNut’s Comeback Story of 2019.

    The post Comeback Story for 2019: Darren Waller appeared first on PigSkinNut Football.

    ]]> 9052 Ravens Training Camp: The Case For QB Trace McSorley https://pigskinnut.com/ravens-training-camp-the-case-for-qb-trace-mcsorley/ Thu, 15 Aug 2019 23:07:19 +0000 https://pigskinnut.com/?p=8141 Lamar Jackson. Robert Griffin III. These were supposed to be the only two quarterbacks we talked about when watching the Baltimore Ravens begin their training camp. Lamar Jackson was entering camp trying to prove he s more than just a pair of legs and Griffin was looking to prove that he can still be worthy [...]

    The post Ravens Training Camp: The Case For QB Trace McSorley appeared first on PigSkinNut Football.

    ]]> Lamar Jackson. Robert Griffin III. These were supposed to be the only two quarterbacks we talked about when watching the Baltimore Ravens begin their training camp. Lamar Jackson was entering camp trying to prove he s more than just a pair of legs and Griffin was looking to prove that he can still be worthy of getting a look for a solid backup or maybe even a starting role for a team in need.

    Many things are for certain in the NFL: the Patriots will win games with a bunch of unknowns on offense, Andrew Luck will have some sort of mystery injury, and the Bears will struggle to find a kicker to make an average kick. As for everything else, it can turn on a dime. Robert Griffin broke his thumb in practice and could be out for the first couple games in the regular season. Enter sixth-round underdog Trace McSorley

    Not A Good Enough Quarterback For NFL?

    McSorley is well-known in Pennsylvania for his time as the starter of the Nittany Lions at Penn State. He led the Lions to a bowl berth in each of his three full years at the helm. His overall record was 31-9 with a Fiesta Bowl MVP honor in 2017. Some of the school records under his belt include most single-season passing and total yardage, most single-season passing touchdowns, and most consecutive games with a touchdown (27). When returning for his senior year, he didn’t put up stellar numbers but did finish the season strong.

    The 2019 NFL Draft came around and McSorley had his name in the ring. Early reports from draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr and Adam Schefter were mixed. Despite a strong showing at the combine with a 4.57 40 time, Kiper didn’t see McSorley’s name being called on draft day. Schefter, on the other hand, had a buzz in his ear that teams were still high on him and could be taken as high as the third round.

    We are now in the era where if a quarterback in college doesn’t fit the prototypical mold for a NFL quarterback, scouts will start asking them to practice as a different position (receiver and defensive back being the popular ones).In high-school, McSorley played safety and scouts felt he was too undersized (6 foot, 200 pounds) to play quarterback. When some asked him to showcase as a safety, he politely declined.

    Ravens Take A Shot In The Dark

    After posting the fastest 40-yard dash for a quarterback in his draft class, it would be hard for teams to overlook Trace late in the draft. The Baltimore Ravens entered the sixth-round in an interesting position. They had what they thought to be their next face of the franchise in Lamar Jackson. They traded long-time starter Joe Flacco to the Broncos and put their full faith in the mobile youngster. Robert Griffin III was their journeyman backup with something to prove. Neither of these two men was solid passers and relied mostly on their legs. In the sixth round of the draft, Trace McSorley heard his name called and the Ravens picked up a more polished passer.

    The Underdog Story Continues

    When training camp first opened, McSorley was still not a lock to make the final roster. Lamar was the starter and Griffin was a proven veteran No.2. Trace came in every day with his head in the game and just put in work where he was asked to. He worked on special teams and got some reps with the back-end of the depth chart. Fortunately for him, one of the biggest sayings in the NFL is “Next Man Up”.

    Robert Griffin was diagnosed with a broken thumb and could be shelved into the regular season. McSorley instantly found himself as Jackson’s backup. The front office saw something special in him when they drafted him and had already seen how quickly he picked up the playbook. They simply told him Griffin was injured and he was going to see an increased workload. Nothing else changed. McSorley continued to put in the same effort he had since Day 1.

    McSorley has been putting those criticizing scouts in their place ever since. He has been throwing the best passes in practice on a freshly rebuilt offense. Jackson might be the starter, but he is a step behind the rookie when it comes to arm talent. In the first preseason game, Trace ran during the game only when it was necessary. To top it off, he was never sacked while Jackson was taken down three times. He is still a rookie and will make those rookie mistakes. He stared down his receiver way too long and got it picked off. What most rookies don’t do after a similar situation is bounce back and not let it get to them. McSorley would go on to throw some of his best passes after being intercepted.

    Here is just one example from the Jaguars game:

    https://www.baltimoreravens.com/video/highlight-trace-mcsorley-to-miles-boykin-td-gets-called-back

    The Case

    Is Trace McSorley going to jump Lamar Jackson to the starter this year?

    Zero chance. Even if Jackson falters this year, the Ravens have invested too much in him to pull the plug that quickly.

    Is Trace McSorley able to keep the No.2 spot when Griffin returns?

    50/50 chance. Griffin has the experience over McSorley, but that is about it at this point.

    Will Trace McSorley going to make the 53-man roster?

    It would be irresponsible not to. You have two mobile quarterbacks, one who is injury-prone and another who struggles with the passing game more often than not. You need that arm talent on the roster and McSorley has proven he is the best passer at this point in camp. There are still three more games in the preseason remaining and anything can happen. Nonetheless, keep an eye on McSorley has the preseason pans out. If he builds off of his first showing, he can easily find his way ahead of Griffin on the depth chart. Unless Jackson gets injured or turns into a complete bust, Trace will be nothing more than a great backup quarterback in the league, which is something to hang your hat on. If he can play to his size as Russell Wilson can, he will have a long career.

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