2021 3 Round Divisional Mock : NFC WEST

To kick off our Divisional Mock Draft series we head out to the NFC West, arguably the leagues best division. With all four of these teams in their respective Super Bowl windows, let’s see if we can find some fits for teams that are all expecting playoff seasons come this fall. There are no trades allowed in this exercise, so each team will be make their selections as they stand here in early April.

San Fransisco 49rs:

Round 1 Pick 3 – Justin Fields QB Ohio State

While I’ve been the BackJudge’s most vocal proponent of Zach Wilson and his ceiling, I also love the NFL prospects of Justin Fields. Fields is a superb athlete with arm strength and accuracy to boot. In two years of starting at Ohio State, Fields has demonstrated leadership, moxy, and some great tape against the nations top competition. Like Wilson, where Fields gets into some trouble is with his decision making and occasionally the ability to properly read the defense leading to some poor decisions and ugly turnovers. Enter Kyle Shanahan and his offense in San Fransisco, a system that I’ve long loved and consider to be elite. Shanahan’s system will be able to make Fields’ transition to pro game as seamless as possible while curbing some of the issues Fields has shown to have with going through his progressions. Despite my endless adoration for Kyle Shanahan and more broadly the San Fransisco organization, I will be disappointed if they pass on Fields, and to a lesser extent Trey Lance, for Mac Jones. 

Round 2 Pick 43 – Asante Samuel Jr. CB Florida State

Perhaps I’m just higher on Samuel than most, who’s lack of size will likely push him to day 2. Samuel’s lack of ideal size and physicality can lead to him getting bullied a bit by bigger, more physical receivers. However, he checks are the requisite athletic boxes to play the position at a high level and has multiple impressive moments of feel and instinct littered all over this tape. I think he’s a high floor, scheme diverse player, who at the very least can be a starting slot corner in the NFL. 

Round 3 Pick 102 – Jaelon Darden WR North Texas 

Despite having two young studs in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, receiver is still a sneaky position of need for the 49rs. While it seems prudent to bring in a receiver who fits, the recently departed, Kendrick Bourne’s mold, adding another RAC freak to Samuel and Aiyuk is too juicy for me to pass up. Darden has been a popular draft sleeper for good reason, he’s a twitched up jitterbug, who’s change of direction and make you miss ability is as elite as it gets. At 5’8 174 pounds, Darden will likely be restricted to the slot and gadget plays, but who better to give a weapon like this to than Kyle Shanahan. The idea of Justin Fields throwing to Kittle, Samuel, Aiyuk, and Darden already has me wanting to gobble up all the San Fransisco futures I can find. 

Asante Samuel Jr. will be a steal on Day 2

Arizona Cardinals:

Round 1 Pick 16 – Jaycee Horn CB South Carolina 

Despite being a well documented Kyler Murray fan and believer, I’m still hesitant too fully buy into the 2021 Arizona Cardinals. While most of this caution is due to my lukewarm opinion of Kliff Kingsbury, also a lot of my reservation stems with this defense. JJ Watt is no doubt a great piece to add the trenches and help free up Chandler Jones. Buddha Baker is an elite safety and Isiah Simmons should continue to develop towards being a high end starter. While Byron Murphy has justified my CB1 grade on him coming out in 2019, the rest of the corner room is a mess; enter Jaycee Horn. Horn is the modern cornerback prototype; 6’1 205 with 4.39 speed and a 42” vertical. On top of the measurables and projections, Horn’s tape is also impressive. He’s got that dawg mentality, he competes every snap and backs up his talk. While his tackling ability leaves a lot left to be desired, his coverage floor and upside gives him a firm round 1 grade. 

Round 2 Pick 49 – Joseph Ossai EDGE Texas 

Behind Chandler Jones there isn’t a lot of quality depth in the EDGE room. Joseph Ossai is a high floor edge who lacks the physical traits of the names we see more frequently mentioned in this EDGE class. He still however is a impressive athlete for this position positing a 4.65 40 yard dash and a 42” vertical. Ossai has a tremendous motor, which lead to so much of his production at Texas. While he may never become an elite pass rusher, he has the tools to be productive and should be plus as a run defender. I think he offers a higher ceiling than Markus Golden and Devon Kennard and should have a solid role from day 1. 

Jaycee Horn has that dawg mentality

Seattle Seahawks:

Round 2 Pick 56 – Walker Little OT Stanford 

As a result of “Organization Hubris,” (insert:BJP Trademark) Seattle has stripped themselves of their draft capital. Their seemingly harmonious marriage with Russell Wilson showed some deep seeded resentment and tension this offseason; supposedly stemming from philosophical differences between Wilson and Pete Carrol, on top of continued porous play from the offensive line. If Seattle has any interest in repairing their fractured relationship with their elite QB, it should start in the trenches come day 2. Walker Little is a former five-star recruit who was the ninth-best overall recruit in 2017. He has an impressive build at 6’8 313 pounds and has the potential to grow into a starting NFL left tackle. The concerns with Little come from the fact that he hasn’t played in two years, opting out this past year and tearing his ACL week 1 of 2019. Little played 783 snaps in 2018, impressing in pass pro while struggling a bit in the run game. While there is considerable risk with Little, the Seahawks should be enamored by his upside. 

Walker Little is a mountain of a man with upside for days

Los Angeles Rams:

Round 2 Pick 57 – Jevon Holland DB Oregon

Like the Seahawks, the Rams have also sacrificed major draft capital with their past acquisitions, most notably Jalen Ramsey. Unlike the Seahawks, the Rams have very few glaring needs on their roster. The biggest hole is currently the free safety position, the departure of John Johnson hurts and leaves a hole across from Taylor Rapp. Jevon Holland is one of my dudes in this draft class. Another 2020 opt out, Holland’s 2018 and 2019 tape shows a high floor, immediate contributor, who has positional versatility playing both slot corner and free safety. Holland excels in coverage, racking up 20 interceptions and pass breakups through his two years as a starter in Eugene. Paired with his coverage ability, he is a willing and sure tackler in run support who absolutely sells out to make tackles in space. If Holland were to fall to late round 2, I think he’d be an excellent Johnson replacement and an immediate starter in Los Angeles’ vaunted secondary. 

Round 3 Pick 88 – Jamin Davis LB Kentucky 

Another position of need for the Rams is off ball linebacker, as Micah Kiser and Kenny Young are serviceable, yet replacement level starters. Insert Adam Klepp’s boy Jamin Davis; Davis likely wont fall to pick 88 after destroying his pro day’ measuring 6’3 234 with a 4.41 40 yard dash and a 42 inch vertical. However, in this simulation Davis falls to the needy Rams, who could use a high ceiling off ball linebacker. Davis is a bit raw but has the tools to develop into an absolute stud at the second level for a team that is currently in their Super Bowl window. 

Round 3 Pick 103 – Kendrick Green iOL Illinois 

Guard is another position that could use a influx of depth and upside, Kenrick Green screams both those things. A three year starter in Champaigne, Green has consistently improved, playing both guard and center. He thrives in the run game and is a adequate pass blocker. His athletic testing is obscene too; 6’2 305, 4.85s 40 yard dash (99th%) and a 36” vertical (99th%). Green is a certified freak who has a high ceiling because of these traits, which are so rare for guards. Green is more than worth a shot at the end of round 3 for a team who has replacement level players starting across their interior offensive line. 

Jevon Holland; Elite Aesthetic meets Elite Ability

2020 NFL DRAFT GRADES: AFC EAST

Miami Dolphins 

Round 1 (5): QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Round 1 (18): T Austin Jackson, USC
Round 1 (30): CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn
Round 2 (39): IOL Robert Hunt, Louisiana
Round 2 (56): DI Raekwon Davis, Alabama
Round 3 (70): S Brandon Jones, Texas
Round 4 (111): IOL Solomon Kindley, Georgia
Round 5 (154): DI Jason Strowbridge, UNC
Round 5 (164): Edge Curtis Weaver, Boise State
Round 6 (185): LS Blake Ferguson, LSU
Round 7 (246): QB/WR Malcom Perry, Navy

While the Dolphins may passed on some of my guys, for their guys, all in all I think they had a solid haul. It starts at five overall with Tua Tagovailoa, despite not being as refined as Joe Burrow, Tagovailoa possesses a dynamic skillset that is tailor made for NFL stardom.  Like many other pundits, I am worried about his ability to stay healthy due to his occasional reckless play and an bottom five offensive line in Miami. However, he can sit behind Fitzpatrick and learn the nuances of the position, before being sprung into action hopefully towards season end. Selecting OT Austin Jackson and CB Noah Igbinoghene with their remaining first round picks were rich for me, but are both players with the requisite youth and athletic profile for the position. Outside of OL Robert Hunt their day 2 haul was also unspectacular, as Raekwon Davis and Brandon Jones were day 3 guys in my book. Day 3 was more of the same, however drafting EDGE Curtis Weaver at pick 164 was fantastic value and a selection I expect to pay dividends.  While I disagree a majority of the individual selections, the logic displayed here by Chris Grier and co makes sense. They attacked high positions of need and value; quarterback, offensive line, defensive line and secondary. Miami opted for doubles with their 11 picks, let’s see if it pays off for them Cotton.

GRADE: B-

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Will Tua reach his sky high potential?

New York Jets 

Round 1 (11): T Mekhi Becton, Louisville
Round 2 (59): WR Denzel Mims, Baylor
Round 3 (68): S Ashtyn Davis, California
Round 3 (79): EDGE Jabari Zuniga, Florida
Round 4 (120): RB La’Mical Perine, Florida
Round 4 (125): QB James Morgan, FIU
Round 4 (129): OT Cameron Clark, Charlotte
Round 5 (158): CB Bryce Hall, Virginia
Round 6 (191): P Braden Mann, Texas A&M

I’ve been critical of Joe Douglas’ first offseason so far, especially in the way he addressed the offensive line, opting for diversifying his cap across 5 OL signings rather than being aggressive in pursuing the top end of the OL market. Douglas’ draft however, was one of my favorites. Getting Mekhi Becton at pick 11 was great value as Becton is an upgrade over newly signed George Fant, with upside to develop into a perennial Pro Bowl LT. Their day 3 haul was even more impressive, WR Denzel Mims at the end of round 2 is another pick similar to Becton, Mims should win the WR1 spot and has the potential to be an elite outside WR. In Round 3 they took two of my favorite players at their respective positions; S Ashtyn Davis and EDGE Jabari Zuniga. Both of these players are Day 1 talents who slipped to day 2 because of injury concerns. Zuniga should be an impact player at a position of need immediately and a Davis/Adams safety tandem could be the leagues best by 2021, no cap. Day 3 provided more good value, namely, RB La’Mical Perine and CB Bryce Hall. Perine is a guy who I had higher than most, he’s experienced and has a NFL ready skill set to be a three down back. Bryce Hall would have been a top 40 pick last year but returned to school and was playing great until he suffered an ankle injury mid season. The Jets CB room is one of the leagues worst and Hall should play an immediate role from the jump.

GRADE: A

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Ashtyn Davis will have a long productive NFL career.

Buffalo Bills 

Round 2 (54): EDGE AJ Epenesa, Iowa
Round 3 (86): RB Zack Moss, Utah
Round 4 (128): WR Gabriel Davis, UCF
Round 5 (167): QB Jake Fromm, Georgia
Round 6 (188): K Tyler Bass, Georgia Southern
Round 6 (207): WR Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State
Round 7 (239): CB Dane Jackson, Pittsburgh

In acquiring Stefon Diggs, the Bills were left without a 1st round pick. Brandon Beene was not phased however as the Bills selected quality players with limited picks, proving their competence once again. On day 2, the Bills took two of the Murray boy’s favorite prospects in EDGE AJ Epenesa and RB Zack Moss. Epenesa is a versatile defensive lineman who can set the edge on running downs and kick inside on passing downs. Moss is a RB who has all the tools outside of elite burst, I compared him to Kareem Hunt multiple times throughout the draft process and I expect him to carve out a role instantly in this offense. With their remaining picks on day 3 they took one of my top 5 QB’s in Jake Fromm. Fromm is the polar opposite of Josh Allen; he lacks the requisite arm talent for the position but has the mental intangibles to be a serviceable NFL QB. The rest of their day 3 picks I’m less keene on but I wont be surprised to see Beene hit on any of these late round picks.

GRADE: B+

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Zack “Contact Balance” Moss

New England Patriots

Round 2 (37): S Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne
Round 2 (60): EDGE Josh Uche, Michigan
Round 3 (87): EDGE Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
Round 3 (91): TE Devin Asiasi, UCLA
Round 3 (101): TE Dalton Keene, Virginia Tech
Round 5 (159): K Justin Rohrwasser, Marshall
Round 6 (182): IOL Michael Onwenu, Michigan
Round 6 (195): OT Justin Herron, Wake Forest
Round 6 (204): LB Cassh Maluia, Wyoming
Round 7 (230): IOL Dustin Woodard, Memphis

With the 2020 draft kicking off the post Tom Brady era, the Patriots yielded a mixed bag. After trading out of round 1, they picked versatile players on both sides of the ball on day 2. S Kyle Dugger seems to fit into a coverage off ball LB spot on this defense and EDGE Josh Uche can be the Kyle Van Noy replacement. Uche can put his hand in the dirt and also has the movement skills to operate in space as an off ball LB. Double dipping at TE was a little rich for me, especially not addressing the WR position in this class. Day 3 saw New England bring in some offensive line and special teams depth. Overall, this haul was uninspiring and it seems New England will present the same strengths and weaknesses as last year, only with Jared Stidham under center.

GRADE: C+

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Josh Uche seems like a career Patriot

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West 4 Round Mock Draft

This is the first installment of my dual mock series in which I’ll be doing a 4 Round Mock for each team in the AFC and NFC West. With 8 user controlled teams, the burden of realism  is placed on the Draft Network Mock Draft Simulator’s AI, controlling the other 24 general managers. Therefore there won’t be draft-to-draft big board consistency and  there’s also a good chance you’ll be seeing the same players making a recurring appearance across drafts.  With that as precursor, lets address the needs and potential fits of the AFC and NFC West. (I will be posting the NFC West Mock as a separate article)

AFC WEST

Kansas City Chiefs 

Round 1, Pick 32: Damon Arnette CB Ohio State; While taking an elite RB prospect surely is enticing, the defending super bowl champions don’t have that luxury. With Rashad Fenton and Chardavious Ward currently slotted as starting corners, adding quality corners has to be imperative. Arnette is a scheme diverse first round talent who excelled for the past 4 years in Ohio State’s vaunted secondary. He would be Kansas City’s best corner on day 1, giving this defense a dynamic they’ve missed since departing with Marcus Peters. 

Round 2, Pick 63: Clyde Edwards Helaire RB LSU; This would be an absolute dream scenario for the Chiefs, as I would be shocked if Edwards Helaire finds himself still on the board at the end of round 2. Edwards Helaire is easy to fall in love with, his game is pro ready, perhaps being the best pass catching back in the class. His running ability is nothing to frown upon either, he has elite contact balance and toughness and reminds me a bit of a prime Doug Martin. He would take this offense to next level (if possible) and would be a welcome upgrade over Damien Williams. 

Round 3, Pick 96: Damien Lewis OG LSU; The Chiefs offensive line over-performed last year and has to improve on the inside, enter another LSU Tiger Damien Lewis. Lewis is powerful guard who thrives in the run game and has championship pedigree. I’d expect him to start at left guard week one. 

Round 4, Pick 138: Justin Strnad LB Wake Forrest; Kansas City lacks depth in their linebacker room. Strnad is a redshirt senior who was a captain this past year and was on his way to national recognition before a season ending injury in week 7. Strnad has sideline to sideline ability and I think could challenge for a starting job in year 1 with developmental upside going forward. 

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Denver Broncos 

Round 1, Pick 15: Henry Ruggs III WR Alabama; I’ve been vocal about this fit throughout the process #chalk. If Denver believes Drew Lock is their franchise QB they have to surround him with talent. Tim Patrick is Denver’s #2 WR right now and while this class perhaps has unprecedented depth, an elite prospect like Ruggs III would potentially give Lock the best wide receiver duo in the NFL. Ruggs is no John Ross, his world class speed is met with a nuanced route tree, sure hands and a versatile skill set bred for the modern game.

Round 2, Pick 46: Troy Dye LB Oregon; John Elway did a good job of filling defensive holes with veterans AJ Bouye and Jurrel Casey, linebacker however, is still a need. Troy Dye is a long rangy coverage linebacker who isn’t as physical as perhaps Vic Fangio would like but has the processing and athletic profile to grow into a very good NFL linebacker. 

Round 3, Pick 77: Darnay Holmes CB UCLA; Another need for Denver, Holmes is a former five star recruit who can come be your Chris Harris Jr. replacement in the slot. He’s undersized like Harris, but is a fluid athlete and doesn’t shy away from contact. Holmes is a high floor rotational piece from day one.

Round 3, Pick 83: Malik Harrison LB Ohio State; Six picks later, we grab the run stuffing thumper to compliment the second round selection of Dye. Harrison has an NFL ready frame and game, while his ceiling isn’t of Dye’s, they both would play to each others strengths and gives this team two future starters on day 2. 

Round 3, Pick 95: Natane Muti OG Fresno State; Guard over tackle here for Denver, Muti could be the draft’s best guard but has been plagued by injury throughout his college career. He’s a mauler in the run game who would do wonders for Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon. The upside is worth it with Muti and will be a steal if he can stay healthy.

Round 4, Pick 118: Rashard Lawerence DL LSU; Lawrence is a high floor depth piece who should be able to come in on running downs and be a rotational plug next to Jurrel Casey, Dre’Mont Jones, and Shelby Harris.   

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Las Vegas Raiders 

Round 1, Pick 12: Jerry Jeudy WR Alabama; While the Raiders weren’t completely inept with Antonio Brown unexpected departure last fall, Jerry Jeudy is an elite prospect who will be a NFL number 1 on day one with an absolute floor of a Calvin Ridley esque fringe number 1. Jeudy would give whomever the quarterback of the future is in Vegas and elite receiver and would make Darren Waller, Tyrell Williams, and Hunter Renfrow’s life much easier. 

Round 1, Pick 19: Jeff Gladney CB TCU; A dream scenario for the Raiders here, where best player available meets need. They are sorely lacking in the corner room opposite 2019 second round pick Trayvon Mullen. Gladney has a play style that I could see both Gruden and Mayock falling in love with. Gladney is a high floor CB that reminds me a lot of Jaire Alexander, home run for Vegas.   

Round 3, Pick 80: Kyle Dugger S/LB Lenoir-Rhyne; Dugger was a physical force at the division II level and I think could be utilized well at the second level of this defense. Dugger is raw, but has desirable traits that would work as a “undersized” outside LB or as a safety across from Jonathan Abram, who supposedly is set to play Free Safety this year. 

Round 3, Pick 81: Jalen Hurts QB Oklahoma; Speaking of Gruden/Mayock players, Hurts screams a quarterback that Gruden would love to get his hands on. Hurts has all the toughness and poise you want from the position, and I think his passing deficiencies can be schemed around. Pairing him with former teammates in Josh Jacobs and first round pick Jerry Juedy, would give this team an exciting young core. I would expect Hurts to compete with Carr and Mariota for the starting job with the luxury of sitting him if need be. 

Round 3, Pick 91: Jordan Elliot DL Missouri; The Raiders actually have some nice depth on the interior defensive line. That being said, Elliot brings a valuable rushing ability to the interior and can be worked in as a rotational interior rusher on passing downs. High ceiling pick here for Mayock and co. 

Round 4, Pick 121: Michael Ojemudia CB Iowa; Ojemudia is a zone corner who has length and physicality requisite for the position. While he might not be a perfect scheme fit in Las Vegas, the Raiders need all the corners they can get. 

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Los Angeles Chargers 

Round 1, Pick 6: Justin Herbert QB Oregon; While taking a left tackle here and heading into 2020 with Tyrod Taylor might be the best move in order to win now, the value of the sixth pick and not having a QB for the future in LA is too good to pass up. While Herbert checks all the physical boxes, boasting NFL arm strength, accuracy and a 4.68 forty, he needs further development before being an franchise QB.  Sit behind Tyrod and when ready reap the benefits of LA’s impressive offensive arsenal. 

Round 2, Pick 37: Prince Tega Wanogho OT Auburn; Here we address the aforementioned need at left tackle. It’s probably best if Wanogho sits for a year and further learns the position as an already raw prospect. Wanogho has ideal NFL size, length and functional athleticism. 

Round 3, Pick 71: Troy Pride CB Notre Dame; Strength on strength here as the Chargers add a developmental outside corner who can develop under Desmond King, Chris Harris, and Casey Hayward. He has all the tools to be an impact corner at the next level and can thrive in possibly the NFL’s best secondary. 

Round 4, Pick 112: Tyler Johnson WR Minnesota; One of my more favorite fits in this draft, Tyler Johnson is a joy to study on tape. He’s an NFL ready slot who wins consistently at the short and intermediate levels. He would thrive in a complimentary role with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, with the upside to become a high level WR 2 if the Charger’s decide to pass on paying Mike Williams.  

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Tommy’s 2019 NFL Preview

AFC WEST 

Kansas City Chiefs – I’d like to start this preview with an anecdote from my preview last year; “A gunslinger in the true sense of the word, Mahomes might just have the strongest arm the league has seen. However he still is prone to errant decisions and I’m expecting this season to be a road of bumps and bruises…but the real question all season will be can Mahomes consistently play winning football while retaining the natural improvisation of his game.” I think we can all agree Mahomes managed to do just what I was skeptical of, his first full season as a starter was unprecedented and he was rightly awarded the MVP at seasons end. With Mahomes looking every part of a generational quarterback, the team surrounding him is improved entering 2019. The loss of Kareem Hunt proved insignificant with Damien Williams doing fine in his absence. Plus the additions of LeSean McCoy and rookie Darwin Thompson round out an impressive group in the backfield. The addition of rookie speedster Mecole Hardman to Kelce, Hill, and Watkins seems to be an absolute embarrassment of riches. Defensively, Frank Clark is a significant upgrade over Dee Ford at edge rusher. Tyrann Matheiu and rookie Juan Thornhill are both upgrades in the secondary. Behind a lethal offense and a improved defense, the Chiefs have the most legitimate chance at dethroning the Patriots as the AFC’s top dog.

X Factor: Frank Clark EDGE; Clark has been one of the more underrated pass rushers in the NFL, consistently producing over the past five years in Seattle. If Clark can continue to hit double digit sacks, he paired with Chris Jones, can be one of the leagues most lethal pass rush duos. 

Rookie To Watch: Juan Thornhill DB; While I’m tempted to put Mecole Hardman here due to his potential to put this offense over the edge, I’m going to go with second round pick Juan Thornhill. Thornhill is a versatile defensive back, that I expect to be placed all over the field in this chiefs defensive scheme. Whether he’s lined up at corner or next to Tyrann Mathieu, I see Thornhill as an instant impact player for a unit that needs dynamic playmakers.

Los Angeles Chargers – The BackJudge has collectively been pumping the Charger’s tires since it’s inception back in the spring of 2017. That being said, it’s hard not to see this teams super bowl window as being in the rearview. Despite the fact that they have everything you’d want in an elite football team on paper (outside of their offensive line), they simply don’t seem to have the intangibles. I’m still not completely sold on Phillip Rivers ability in big games, and I’m surely not sold on Anthony Lynn as a premier head coach. However, I do expect them to compete for a wild card spot after falling short of a division title, but when it comes to competing with the NFL’s elite the Chargers fall short. 

X Factor: Hunter Henry TE; Henry was a burgeoning star at TE after recording 8 touchdowns as a rookie in 2016. His development has been curbed by injuries in 2017 and more notably an offseason ACL tear in 2018 forcing him to miss all of last year. If Henry can return to form, the Chargers add another dynamic pass catcher. 

Rookie To Watch: Jerry Tillery DL and Nasir Adderly DB; I’m going to cheat here and put the Chargers first two picks. With Tilery, the Chargers add a versatile defensive lineman to a group that has zero presence in the middle. The Chargers were absolutely gutted by Sony Michel in their playoff loss in January. Tillery is a solid run defender with high pass rash upside. With Adderely, they’ve added a versatile defensive back who will be leaned on even more as a playmaker with Derwin James out for the foreseeable future.   

Denver Broncos – The Broncos have been in a sort of purgatory since their super bowl win in 2015. Despite having an impressive defense behind the edge tandem of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, this team has struggled to figure it out on offense. They made some strides last year with rookies Phillip Lindsay, Cortland Sutton, DeSean Hamilton, and Royce Freeman, but they have yet to figure out the quarterback situation. Case Keenum is out, Joe Flacco is in, with second round project Drew Lock behind him as the “future.” Vic Fangio is also in to replace the abysmal Vance Joesph. While Fangio has much more experience and success as a coordinator than Joesph, I still am skeptical of him being the head ball coach of the future. That being said, this team should be a tough out, with a solid roster and the infamous mile high home field advantage. 

X Factor: Bradley Chubb EDGE; Chubb surprised no one last year as an instant impact player for the Broncos defense, recording 60 tackles and 12 sacks. Heading into his sophomore campaign, Chubb is a dark horse for sacks leader and will continue to give offenses nightmares with Von Miller.

Rookie To Watch: Dalton Risner G; Risner was a certified BJP boy this past draft cycle, as one of the safest picks out there. Risner will bring instant consistency to an improved unit.

Oakland Raiders – The Raiders are improved in year two of John Gruden’s ten year reign. Mike Mayock played it safe in his first draft, opting for doubles instead of homers with EDGE Clelin Ferrel, RB Josh Jacobs, and S Jonathan Abrams. Despite not offering the high ceiling of some of their classmates, they all have relatively high floors and will be expected to be impact players from day one. Speaking of impact players, this team also added Antonio Brown this offseason. The future hall of famer has been a well chronicled headache for the team throughout offseason. Whether thats a sign of things to come or a ploy to avoid the dull drums of training camp has yet to be seen. Along with AB the team added solid veterans in Trent Brown, Lamarcus Joyner, Tyrell Williams, and Richie Incognito. While this team has made some improvements, they still are littered with holes, specifically on defense. And by in large, I don’t see Derek Carr as a franchise quarterback. Even if everything goes right for Oakland, it’ll be hard to breach divisions ceiling forged by Kansas City and Los Angeles. 

X Factor: Derek Carr QB; As I alluded to, I’m not a Derek Carr believer. I view his 2016 “MVP” season as more fluke than tangible skill. If he can’t prove me wrong with Antonio Brown, Josh Jacobs, and an improved offensive line, I’m not sure he ever will.

Rookie To Watch: Clelin Ferrel EDGE; Considered a reach by the majority of NFL media, Ferrel will have a chance to make an instant impact on a porous defensive line. He should lead this team in sacks. 

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans – Now that we live in a post Andrew Luck world (long sigh), the Texans have vaulted to the top of the AFC South. Deshaun Watson is the best quarterback in this division, and the Texans clearly have the highest upside in the division. In acquiring LT Laremy Tunsil they gave up the farm in a ill-advised, yet honest attempt at protecting their young stud quarterback, which I respect. This offensive line as a unit should be better. De’Andre Hopkins will attempt to some how one up his fantastic year in 2018. While Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, and Keke Coutee round out an impressive supporting receiver group. Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde will supplement the loss of Lamar Miller well. As long as 4 is healthy the offense really isn’t a concern. I do think the defense is vulnerable, especially in the secondary. Overall, Houston deserves to be the division favorite, and anything less of a playoff berth would be a colossal failure. 

X Factor: Laremy Tunsil LT; The newest Texan will have the lions-share of responsibility in finally giving Deshaun Watson the protection he needs. If he can lock down the left side and bring consistency to a unit that has never had it during Watson’s tenure, the sky’s the limit. 

Rookie to Watch: Charles Omenihu DL; Omenihu is a guy I really liked coming out of Texas, he’s long and can play multiple positions. While the fifth round pick won’t start, I think he can be a valuable rotation piece to a unit that lacks depth. 

Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles is no longer the Jaguars starting quarterback, which is a massive upgrade to this teams outlook. While I don’t expect Nick Foles to be the elite super bowl MVP quarterback he’s being paid to be, this team will be a tough out and should be in the conversation come December. Leonard Fournette should be better too after having an awful sophomore slump. If the defense can be somewhere close to their elite form of 2017, there is no question they’ll be in the conversation. Foles will be a steadying presence for this offense and if he can limit the turnovers, while pushing the ball downfield this team will find success. 

X Factor: Jalen Ramsey CB; If Jalen Ramsey can curb his ego and let his play do the talking, he’s the best corner in the NFL. If he can return to that form, while retaining the contagious swagger he possesses, the Jags will be a playoff team. 

Rookie to Watch: Jawan Taylor T; Taylor, a first round talent, fell into the Jags laps at the beginning of the second round. He’s a complete mauler who perfectly compliments this teams attitude. He should be a full time starter by seasons end.  

Tennessee Titans –  If this team had a quarterback I liked, they’d be a lock for my top team in the division. Marcus Mariota isn’t a viable option for this team. He lacks durability and high end play when he is healthy. I expect a rookie play caller in Nashville for 2020. That aside, this team is incredibly talented. It gave them the luxury of essentially redshirting Jeffery Simmons, a top 5 talent, the first pick of one of my more favorite drafts. I think Mike Vrabel is a good coach who has the potential to be great. It really does just come down to my lack of faith in Mariotta or Tannehill, whomever is under center.

X Factor: Derrick Henry RB; If Henry can build upon the performance we saw in the last quarter of 2018, this teams rushing attack could keep them in every game they play. The talents there, will he be given the required work load though.

Rookie to Watch: AJ Brown WR; Brown is a guy I really liked as a high floor option at receiver in April. He’s a good athlete who does everything pretty well, reminds me a lot of a young Jarvis Landry.    

Indianapolis Colts – The most unfortunate part about Andrew Luck’s retirement is that this Colts squad is prob the best its been since he was drafted. Their offense has pieces at every position and their defense showed it was much better than anticipated. So as the Jacoby Brissett era begins, this team’s fate is tied to his production. He’s been known as the arguably the best backup in the league, now it’s time to prove he’s a competent starter, something the Colts seem sure of.

X Factor: Jacoby Brissett QB; As I talked about above, this teams success hinges on Brissett. If he’s anything more than a quality starter, it’s not outrageous to see this team being a playoff team.

Rookie To Watch: Rock Ya Sin CB; Ya Sin is slotted as this teams starting nickel, a role he should thrive in. Ya Sin is a willing tackler and is impressive in coverage.

AFC NORTH 

Cleveland Browns  I’m buying into the Browns hype. They finally have their quarterback, the best one in the division in my opinion. They have elite skill position players. They have an elite pass rush and a solid surrounding defense. They have a impressive management team lead by John Dorsey. And a rookie head coach that I have a gut feeling is just the man for the job. Their offensive line is a concern, but I think this team can over come that weakness. Other than that being their downfall, I can’t see another route to failure other than themselves. They will win the division for the first time since 1989. 

X Factor: Myles Garrett EDGE; Garett has been very impressive in his first two NFL seasons, but this is the year he needs to breach the elite stratosphere. With a proven pass rusher in Olivier Vernon opposite him, Garrett should hit at least 15 sacks. 

Rookie To Watch: Mack Wilson LB; Mack Wilson shined during the pre season, showing why he could be a potential steal in the 5th round. In a linebacker group that is solid, Wilson has a chance to elevate it. 

Pittsburg Steelers – The Steelers are flying under the radar sans LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown, and I have a feeling thats just how Mike Tomlin likes it. The drama of years past should be gone and this team can get back to playing winning football. Big Ben has a surrounding cast of young hungry players; with James Connor looking to build upon his fantastic 2018 campaign and James Washington looking to fill the roll that JuJu filled the past two years. The defense should be better, the young secondary is a year older. 1st round pick Devin Bush is the consensus favorite for DROY, and TJ Watt continues to be an underrated threat from the EDGE. The steelers will be a playoff team, whether thats a pesky wild card team or division winners.

X Factor: Devin Bush LB; The rookie linebacker will have his hands full in year one as the young leader of this defense, and I’m sure he’d have it no other way. Bush is the prototypical modern MLB, and should finally fill the void left by Ryan Shazier. 

Rookie To Watch: Justin Layne CB; Layne is a bit of a project at corner, but has all the physical tools to be a future impact player. He was a dawg at Michigan St. and had a great battle with N’Keal Harry down in Arizona. 

Baltimore Ravens   The Ravens will be a tough matchup week in and week out due to their efficiency running the ball and stingy defense. That being said they lack the top end upside to compete with the top teams in their division and the league. This all really comes down to Lamar Jackson’s ability to improve as a passer. Will he be able to win games with his arm? If he can this team very well could win the division.

X Factor: Lamar Jackson QB; If Lamar can continue his development in an offense that is friendly to his ability, this team should have super bowl aspirations. If not, and he clearly cant win games with his arm, this will be a long couple of year(s) in Baltimore.

Rookie To Watch: Marquise “Hollywood” Brown WR; Hollywood was one of CFB’s most electric talents last year and has a skill set that every team covets. If he’s healthy and the Ravens can find ways to get him the ball in space he will make huge plays weekly.

Cincinnati Bengals – While this team has some nice young pieces in Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, William Jackson, and Jessie Bates, this will be another disappointing year in Cincy. I have no reason to believe Zac Taylor will be the offensive savant he’s being advertised as and even if I grant that he is, Andy Dalton aka “Mediocrity” is still the quarterback. This spells a potential tear down year in cincy, as they look to rebuild in 2020. 

X Factor: Joe Mixon RB; Mixon had a good year in 2018 and flashed the talent that was advertised throughout the 2017 draft. He’s a do it all back who seems tailor made for a Sean McVey system. He has the talent to win the Bengals games they have no business being in.

Rookie To Watch: Germaine Pratt LB; Pratt is a former safety convert who was scooped up in third round. He’s got the measurables of a modern linebacker and should see playing time in a weak group.

AFC EAST 

New England Patriots – The twenty year reign continues! Despite losing “key” players in Trey Flowers, Trent Brown, Malcom Brown, Eric Rowe ect. The Patriots collect the compensatory pick if adjudicated, draft studs, rinse and repeat. I have no reason to think this team is on the decline, because they’ve lost more integral pieces and never declined. Brady and Belichick are still in place and this team will continue to contend for a championship. 

X Factor: Isiah Wynn OT; Last years 23rd overall selection Isiah Wynn is back after tearing his achilles in OTA’s last summer. Wynn was a stud as a senior at Georgia, and should be an upgrade at left tackle. 

Rookie To Watch: Chase Winovich EDGE; Winovich is the definition of an effort player with the skill to boot. He terrorized offenses as a senior at Michigan and will look to do the same in New England. 

New York Jets – The New York Jets are on the come up. Joe Douglas is a hot shot young GM. New coach Adam Gase should be reinvigorated with a new team and a twenty one year old franchise quarterback. While spending big money on Le’Veon Bell isn’t my forte, it’s much more acceptable with Sam Darnold on a rookie deal. Jamison Crowder, Kelechi Osemele, and Ryan Khalil are talented veterans who should be huge for this young team. And while losing Avery Williamson hurts at linebacker, CJ Mosley is more than talented enough to take more onto his plate. Overall, this team should be in the playoff conversation behind a improved year two Sam Darnold.

X Factor: Sam Darnold QB; It’s no secret I’m a huge Darnold guy (fight on!), that being said objectively he has all the weapons you could want for a young QB outside of an elite alpha wide receiver. The Jets success will hinge on Darnold’s development in year two.
Rookie To Watch: Quinnen Williams DL; The third overall pick is a complete game wrecker. I’m not concerned with his single year of production, chalking that up to lack of opportunity not lack of talent. Paired with Leonard Williams, this combo has lethal potential.    

Buffalo Bills – The Bills are very similar to their down state division foe in the Jets. A good offseason has the infrastructure of this team looking nice. Im a fan of adding John Brown and Cole Beasley to the group of pass catchers. The offensive line should improve behind Mitch Mose and rookie Cody “F 150” Ford. The defense is one of the leagues more underrated unit’s and I expect Ed Oliver to be an absolute force from the inside from day one. Like the Jets, this will come down to Josh Allen’s development in year two. Unlike Darnold, Allen is wildly inaccurate and seems to rely to much on his physical gifts. If Allen can play winning football, this can be a wild card team.

X Factor: Josh Allen QB; Josh Allen needs to prove he’s this teams future in year two. If he takes that next step, the Bills will be a force to be reckoned with. 

Rookie To Watch: Ed Oliver DL; This time last year Oliver seemed to be the consensus #1 pick. I think he’ll make the league pay for passing on him, dominating in a feisty Bills front seven. 

Miami Dolphins – Miami is doing their best to tank as an NFL team. Ryan Fitzpatrick/Josh Rosen will be exposed behind the worst offensive line in recent memory. Their skill positions are lacking any real skill and their defense is mediocre behind some nice burgeoning talent. While I do like Brian Flores’ potential as a head coach, I will be pleasantly surprised if they aren’t picking #1 in April. 

X Factor: Brian Flores HC; If this team some how manages to eclipse 4 wins, it’s hard for that not be a direct result of Flores culture and infrastructure. 

Rookie To Watch: Christian Wilkins DL; The Dolphins first round pick is great talent and a transcendent leader. He can be a young bright spot on a team that lacks talent from top to bottom. 

NFC WEST

Los Angeles Rams – The Rams are fresh off a super bowl berth and have officially ascended into the NFL’s elite, winning the NFC West decisively the past two years. Sean McVey has crafted the modern NFL offense, with copy cats being issued throughout the league (Bengals, Cardinals, Packers). Despite having an elite coach that elevates this team really regardless of talent, there are some major questions facing the Rams. Jared “ The Boy King” Goff was just awarded the richest extension for a quarterback in NFL history. Something that I believe with hamper this teams ability to acquire the surrounding talent they have been able to enjoy the past two years. Goff is a system quarterback, a good one at that. He can make all the throws in the book, but needs the guidance of McVey and struggles when his game plan falls apart (see Super Bowl 53). Goff, Gurley, Cooks, and Donald account for 91 million dollars against the cap starting in 2020. Les Snead will need to prove his worth as a quality general manager to continue this run the Rams have enjoyed. But for 2019, this Rams team is reared to go and is the top dog in the West. 

X Factor: Brian Allen C; Allen a fourth round pick from 2018 will be thrust into the starting lineup, replacing John Sullivan. The center is huge in this zone run scheme and if Allen struggles to set the run game for Gurley, Brown, Henderson, or Kelly, the effects will be felt throughout the offense. 

Rookie To Watch: Darrel Henderson RB; Henderson could be a dynamic option out of the backfield if Gurley’s knee concerns are for real and he’s placed on a snap count. The run game dictates the success of this whole offense by setting up the play action and taking pressure off Goff, if Henderson can be three fourths the back Gurley is, this team should survive.

San Fransisco 49rs – The 49rs have been an offseason darling of mine for the past two off-seasons, picking them to win the division last year. They looked the part to start the year, before Jimmy G tore his ACL in a shootout with the Chiefs week 3. Despite losing their franchise quarterback, Kyle Shanahan has shown his ability to craft an enticing offense around minimal talent. UDFA Nick Mullens surprised in Garoppolo absence, something I attribute more the Shanahan’s offensive mind. Now barring catastrophic injury, this team has the pieces in place to compete. If sophomore Dante Pettis and rookie Debby Samuel are able to join George Kittle as legit weapons this offense can be electric. The defense looks the part, if Nick Bosa and Dee Ford can stay healthy coming off the edge. Something that will do wonders for a secondary lacking in elite talent and depth. Overall, I am biased with this team. I see the potential and I’m not willing to jump ship yet. The 49rs should be in the conversation come December.

X Factor: Jason Verrett CB; Verrett enjoyed being one of the NFL’s best young corners before knee injuries decimated the majority of his past couple seasons. Still only 28 years old, if Verrett can stay healthy, a huge IF, Richard Sherman will have a more than competent corner across from him. Giving this team a dynamic they’ve lack for a long time.

Rookie To Watch: Nick Bosa EDGE; Bosa a consensus elite talent coming into the draft was a perfect fit to San Fransisco at #2. Talent isn’t the concern with Bosa, he’s dealt with a variety of injuries dating back to Ohio State. If he’s healthy he should be the favorite for DROY, giving this team a lethal defensive line.

Seattle Seahawks – Despite awful drafting and BJP certified “organizational hubris” plaguing the Seahawks for the past couple years (Rashad Penny, Ignoring glaring holes on offensive line) this team will have a high floor as long as Russel Wilson is under center. They over performed last year behind brilliant play from Wilson and that isn’t a sustainable formula year in and year out. I do think rookie DK Metcalf will perfectly compliment Tyler Lockett, forming an imposing duo for opposing secondaries. The recent addition of Jadeveon Clowney is nice replacement for Frank Clark although they probably are losing some sack production. All in all, this team will compete weekly, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they are a wild card team, or even a division winner. 

X Factor: Russell Wilson QB; Wilson is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL and this teams current and future success will alway predicate on him. Any regression whether thats due to injury or surrounding talent, will decimate this franchise.

Rookie To Watch: DK Metcalf WR; DeKaylin Zecharius Metcalf is a physical specimen, the likes of we haven’t seen since Julio Jones or Calvin Johnson. He’s in the perfect situation to develop under Russell Wilson and at the very least be one the leagues best deep threats. He will shed the “Lab King” label thrust upon him by my little brother Leigh.

Arizona Cardinals – Ah man, I really want to put this team as a wild card threat but their personnel, and more precisely depth, isn’t there. Leigh and I have both been very vocal about our faith in Kyler Murray’s (no relation) ability to transcend the quarterback position. After selecting Kyler, they had a draft that was straight outta my book; CB Byron Murphy, WR Andy Isabella, DL Zac Allen, WR Hakeem Butler, and S Deionte Thompson. While I have my reservations about Kliff Kingsbury, I completely respect the move to go out and get your guy. All in all this team is trending upwards and is my way too early pick to win the division next year. That being said this should be a fun, but ultimately unsuccessful season.

X Factor: David Johnson RB; Johnson has quietly lost the label of an elite running back due to all the new young exciting players at the position and poor team play in 2018. Johnson is a do it all back who should be relied upon heavily in Kyler/Kliffs year one. I expect him to have a year that reminds us all of his immense talent. 

Rookie To Watch: Byron Murphy CB; While I expect Kyler to have a successful rookie campaign, CB Byron Murphy is my rookie to watch. With Patrick Peterson suspended and Robert Alford hurt, Murphy will be thrust into a prime roll immediately. What he lacks in size he makes up for is tenacity and scheme versatility, he’ll be a joy to watch.

NFC SOUTH 

New Orleans Saints – This is the Saints, and more specifically Drew Brees’ last shot at a Super Bowl. The division remains competitive and Brees’ window of elite play is dwindling. However, I still believe him to be the best quarterback in this division and this team, the best team in the division. Alvin Kamara will have the brunt of the workload with Mark Ingram now in Baltimore, Latavius Murray should fill that void well. Despite a limited number of picks this team mended their wounds quite well. Rookie Eric McCoy should fill in well at center for the recently retired Max Unger and fourth round pick Chauncey Gardiner-Johnson is a versatile defensive back who can play all over the defensive backfield. I’d be lying if I didn’t make the contention that the result of last years NFC championship is a major factor in my faith in this team. 

X Factor: Drew Brees QB; If the hype surrounding Brees’ diminishing arm strength and overall regression are valid, then the Saints could sink to the bottom of this division. Brees is forty years old and if he’s not up to snuff, the team will suffer.

Rookie To Watch: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson DB; I hope CGJ gets a chance to show his ability this year in a crowded saints defensive backfield. He was all over the field at Florida last year and I think can be a valuable rover piece for Dennis Allen and his defense.

 Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons are hot on the Saints tail and its easy to see why. Last year they underperformed, and where depleted by crucial injuries to their defense. This year they are healthy and Steve “The Sieve” Sarkisian is out of the building, which I think is HUGE for this offense. They drafted OG Chris Lindstrom and OT Khaleb McGary to try and improve their awful line play from 2018. Matt Ryan quietly had a phenomenal season last year, despite all of the struggles the team had. All in all, this team presents the highest floor of the division and should be a lock for a wild card, if not the division.

X Factor: Isiah Oliver CB; My rookie to watch from last year is primed for a breakout year starting opposite Desmond Trufant. Oliver was a steal in round 2 and fits the mold for a long cover corner with lockdown potential.

Rookie To Watch: Chris Lindstrom G; This guy just mauls and he’s a BC eagle (shout out Tom Sr.) He was one of the safer picks in the draft and should be an instant ten year starter at guard, with Pro Bowl potential. 

Carolina Panthers – The Panthers are on the decline. Cam has always been an inconsistent passer and now his long term health is a legit concern. They were world beaters starting last season off 6-0 before being derailed, losing 7 straight, finishing 7-9. While I expect the Panthers to be more consistent week to week this year, I think they are clearly the third best team in the division with Tampa not too far behind. They do present the higher floor right now, which is why I have them slotted for third.

X Factor: Cam Newton QB; What Cam will we see this year? He’s got great weapons around him in McCaffrey, Moore, and Samuel. Will their talent be cohesive will Cam’s game? If this team wants to make a run, Cam will need to be close to his MVP form of 2015

Rookie To Watch: Brian Burns EDGE; I was the only BJP guy who was high on Burns. While his frame isn’t ideal for a future menace off the edge, his production and pass rush ability is enticing. I like Burns as a dark horse for sack leaders among rookies.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Bucs are a very enticing team this year. Bruce Arians has retuned to the sideline with his guys; DC Todd Bowles and OC Byron Leftwich. I really like what this team is building. That being said their are two major factors that are holding me back from completely buying the hype; QB Jameis Winston and this Defensive unit. While I expect to see improvements on both fronts due to Arians and Bowles stepping in, it’s not enough to propel this team into the playoff race, let alone their division. Like the Cardinals I see this team as being very entertaining, but ultimately setting the foundation for the future. 

X Factor: Chris Godwin WR; The early returns from camp have Godwin slotted for a breakout year. With Bruce Arians stating “I think Chris Godwin is going to be close to a 100-catch guy, especially because I think he can play in the slot…He’s never coming off the field.” If Arians is indeed right, Godwin will take this offense over the edge. 

Rookie To Watch: Devin White LB; Much like fellow rookie Devin Bush, Devin White is an explosive playmaker at linebacker. You pop on his film at LSU its easy to see why he was the fifth overall pick. He’s a fantastic athlete with coverage upside and is a heat seeking missile in every other facet of the game. 

NFC NORTH 

Green Bay Packers –  This will be a monumental year in the Packers illustrious history. Aaron Rodgers for my money is still the best quarterback in the NFL. The mediocrity of Mike McCarthy is gone. Their defense should be improved bringing in some nice vets and solid young players. The offensive line added some much needed depth and I’m expecting the young receivers behind Devante Adams to step up. In my opinion this year is all on Rodgers if he’s healthy, unlike years past. If the Packers continue to be mediocre, falling behind superior teams on paper like Minnesota and Chicago, this will be Rodgers’ last year in Green Bay. 

X Factor: Jaire Alexander CB; My rookie to watch from last year did not disappoint. He was an immediate impact and is on the fringe of being one of the leagues best corners. I expect him to step up and give the Packers something they haven’t had since Charles Woodson and Al Harris. 

Rookie To Watch: Darnell Savage S; Savage is a guy who I really like late into the draft process. He’s rangy as all heck and is a sure tackler. He’s an Eddie Jackson esque playmaker who I expect to have an immediate impact.

Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings had a forgettable 2018. Despite having one of the league’s better rosters they under performed, mostly due to a porous offensive line. They addressed that in the first round with Garrett Bradbury, a perfect fit for Gary Kubiack’s zone run scheme. I don’t expect Kirk Cousins to do anything he hasn’t done throughout his career. He’ll keep them competitive, especially with his two top receivers and a rejuvenated Dalvin Cook. The defense should also be better too, although I do think they will need Mike Hughes to step up with Xaiver Rhodes declining. To conclude, the Vikings floor should be in the hunt come week 14, that being said I think they lack the elite ceiling to compete with the cream of the crop.

X Factor: Dalvin Cook RB; Dalvin’s health has robbed him of getting a chance to be in the elite RB conversation. While health is a concern, especially at his position, Dalvin has all the talent to lead this team offensively.

Rookie To Watch: Irv Smith Jr TE; Smith is a interesting wrinkle to this offense. He’s an athletic matchup weapon, who is a plus blocker in the run game. He lacks real weaknesses, and I would expect him to over take Kyle Rudolph at some point this season. 

  Chicago Bears – The Bears have the best team in the division on paper, Mitchell Trubisky is their quarterback. While the Bears had no problem winning the division last year with Trubisky, they were unusually healthy and I expect some regression with Nagy’s system with the league having a year of tape on them. Despite struggling at quarterback, this defense should still be elite. Khalil Mack can get 16 sacks in his sleep. They’ll keep them in every game they play.  Trubisky ultimately spoils the Bears attempt at another division title. 

X Factor: Mitchell Trubisky QB; For the second straight year Mitchell is this team’s X Factor. If he does the impossible and marketably improves, this team should be the clear favorite to repeat as division champs.

Rookie To Watch: David Montgomery RB; My RB2 behind Josh Jacobs, Montgomery is a stud. He can catch, block, and is nearly impossible to bring down on first contact. He should take the load off of Tarik Cohen and is a clear impact player for the future. 

   Detroit Lions – The Lions should be improved off their abysmal 2018 campaign. Why Matthew Stafford was playing last year with a broken back is beyond me. If he’s fully healed, this offense should be better under Darell Bevell. Kerryon Johnson is ready to be a three down workhorse, and Kenny Golladay is ready to take the mantle of WR1. On Defense, the addition of Trey Flowers and Mike Daniels gives this team strength and depth on their front four that they haven’t had since the Suh-Fairley days. TJ Hockenson is a future stud, but passing on Ed Oliver and Devin Bush will come back to bite this team in the butt. While there is reason for optimism in Detroit, I simply am not a fan of Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn. That combined with the competition in this division, spells another fourth place finish in Detroit.

X Factor: Kerryon Johnson RB; Kerryon showed glimpses last year of what type of ability he has as a true dynamic back. In a world where the Lions are a competitive playoff contender, Johnson has to be their MVP offensively.

Rookie To Watch: Jahlani Tavai LB; Tavai was universally seen as a reach in round 2 this past April. Hell have to prove those doubters wrong quite quickly, with Jaraad Davis injured for the first part of this year.

NFC EAST

Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles for my money are the best team in the NFL. Their roster is near impeccable, this all comes down to Carson Wentz. If Wentz returns to his MVP form this team is clearly the NFL’s top dog. If not, and he looks like he did last year, they’re still the NFC East’s favorite. Their offensive line and defensive line not only elite, but have great depth. Their receivers are deep and talented, their corners are deep and talented. This team is flawlessly designed and managed, and Doug Pederson is one of the leagues best coaches. Anything short of a playoff berth would be a colossal failure. 

X Factor: Miles Sanders RB; The rookie Sanders looks to break out of this running back committee as the clear lead back. He’s the most talented one and if he reaches his potential in year one he’d push the Eagles offense over the edge.

Rookie To Watch: JJ Arcegia Whiteside WR; Arcegia Whiteside is the clear successor to Alshon Jeffrey and should at the very least be a red zone nightmare in year one. He’s a jump ball magician and has a complete game to go with it, winning in a multitude of ways. 

Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys have one of the NFL’s better rosters behind a stout defense, lead by DeMarcus Lawerence, Jaylon Smith, LVE, and Byron Jones. Their offense runs through Zeke Elliot. Dak Prescott is tasked with limiting turnovers and succeeding on third down. That formula was struggling to find success until Amari Cooper was acquired mid season, catapulting this offense into the playoffs. And while I’d like to think last year was a preview of things to come, I’m having trouble seeing Dallas playing meaningful football in January. I hope I’m wrong, but I still have little to no faith in Jason Garett as an in-game manager, and hope this is his last season at the helm of the Cowboys regardless of result. (Hi Lincoln Riley:) I am optimistic that Kellen Moore will be the shot in the arm this offense needs after Scott Linehan’s awful tenure as Offensive Coordinator.  And while I’ll never be able to thank Dak Prescott enough for what he’s brought this franchise these past 3 years; he’s not a top tier quarterback and should be paid like one. Regardless of how this season ends, I’d let Dak hit the open market and margate whatever future assets I need to acquire a quarterback of the future. 

X Factor: Byron Jones CB; If Byron Jones continues his play from last year, the Cowboys will have no choice but to pay him as one of the leagues best corners. He shutdown the oppositions number one receiver week in and week out.

Rookie To Watch: Tony Pollard RB; I didn’t know a lot about Pollard when he was drafted on day three, after focusing mostly on his teammate Darrel Henderson. It didn’t take long for me to become a believer. Not only is he a great backup to Zeke, but a offensive weapon that I expect Kellen Moore to use heavily in a variety of ways.

Washington Redskins – While most people have the Redskins destined for a top five draft pick, I see this team having some nice upside. I think their roster is impressive enough to present a certain floor weekly. I expect Derrius Guice to have a great first year as the starting running back with Chris Thompson and Adrian Peterson providing a nice complements. Their defense is good enough to play bend don’t break, giving their offense a chance to compete. I’m a Dwayne Haskins believer, and think he can be a big time player in this league. Why he isn’t starting week 1 is beyond me, he should be the starter week 4 against Daniel Jones in the “revenge game.” 

X Factor: Jonathan Allen DL; Allen has been good when he’s available but has struggled to remain healthy. If he can play a full 16 this year, this Washington D line could be a sneaky top unit.

Rookie To Watch: Terry McLaurin WR; McLaurin has been uber impressive since he tore up the senior bowl and rocketed his stock in the draft. He already has a fantastic report with Haskins from their college days, and I expect him to be an impact player no matter the QB.

 New York Giants – The Giants are a dumpster fire with an decrepit quarterback five years past his prime and Saquon Barkely, the best running back I’ve ever seen. They took Daniel Jones at six, which I’m fine with if he’s your guy. Yet they still start Manning who is awful and has been awful. Pat Shurmur is meh. Dave Gettleman is a horrid general manager who’s philosophy is stuck in 1985. They traded Odell after signing him and committing to him. Just writing this is infuriating and confusing. This team is a mess, who’s absolute ceiling is third in the division. 

X Factor: Daniel Jones QB; The only way I see this team being relatively successful is if Jones comes in and sets the world on fire. I realize this is near impossible, but he’s the only variable that could push this team into relevance.

Rookie To Watch: DeAndre Baker and Julian Love CBs; While i disagreed with their first two picks, I think the Giants did well with Baker and Love. Baker had the highest floor in my opinion of the rookie corners and should be an upgrade across from Janoris Jenkins. Love I expect to play well if called upon, but as a developmental corner for the future, I think has a good chance to be starting across from Baker in a years time.

PLAYOFFS

AFC

Patriots 

Chiefs 

Browns

Texans 

Steelers 

Chargers 

Jets 

Ravens 

Jaguars 

NFC

Eagles 

Saints 

Rams 

Packers 

Falcons 

49rs

Vikings 

Cowboys

Seahawks 

Championship Weekend

Chiefs @ Patriots 

Saints @ Eagles 

Super Bowl

Patriots 24

Eagles 31

7 Round Cowboys Mock

Following Master Klepp’s lead it’s about time the Dallas Cowboys get some draft love.

Despite not having a first round pick (much to October Tommy’s shagrin) this team has needs across the board and 5 picks to fill them.

Shoutout https://thedraftnetwork.com/ for their great mock draft simulator.

Round 2 Pick 58: Charles Omenihu DL Texas

An incredibly versatile lineman that could do wonders for a group thats been decimated this offseason. Omenihu spent time both on the EDGE and inside. His rare combination of size, length, and versatility will give Rod Marenilli a high floor/high ceiling prospect to help bolster this unit.

Round 3 Pick 90: JJ Arcega-Whiteside WR Stanford

I will be shocked if Arcega-Whiteside is still on the board in round 3, but this is the BPA and fits a need as WR2 next to Amari Cooper. Despite not being an elite athlete, JJ is a nuanced route runner who wins in a variety if ways. He might not have the potential of some of his fellow receivers, but might have the highest floor in the class. Love this pick.

Round 4 Pick 128 Sutton Smith LB Northern Illinois

Despite being a highly effective EDGE terrorizing the MAC, Sutton Smith projects as an off ball linebacker at the next level. He is an above average athlete but damn is he a smart instinctual football player. He wont have to start right away, can contribute on special teams while learning the nuances of the positions from Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and LVE.

Round 4 Pick 136 Khari Willis SS Michigan State

Jeff Heath, I love you, but you’re time as our starting safety ends now. Enter Khari Willis, a physical, high character safety who I think will be a solid box safety at the next level. If he fails, his effort will get a spot on this team.

Round 5 Pick 165 Elijah Holyfield RB Georgia

Holyfield has seen his stock plummet a bit after running a 4.8 at the combine in March, say less. Sit behind Zeke, touch the ball 5-10 times a game and be the battering ram you were put on this earth to be. Throw this guy’s tape on, violent runner who is a nightmare to tackle.

Round 7 Pick 241 Ken Webster CB Ole Miss

The Cowboys can afford to bring in a guy like Webster who I was surprised was still on the board. He’s played since being a true freshman in 2014 in the highly competitive SEC. The Cowboys can afford to let him compete in their stacked CB room, at the very least this guy should be a rotational piece.