Reid’s Chiefs Show Practice Makes Perfect

Reid’s Chiefs Show Practice Makes Perfect

As the clock ticked down to the final seconds of the Kansas City Chiefs AFC Championship Game against visiting Tennessee, fans of the tortured franchise finally could celebrate another Super Bowl appearance.

While Chiefs fans watched the postgame celebration, which included the Hunt family hoisting the trophy named after their dad, head coach Andy Reid answered his critics as well (Chiefs inaugural owner and founder of the AFL, Lamar Hunt coined the term “Super Bowl”).

The Chiefs were hosting their second straight AFC Championship Game after losing last season to the Patriots in OT. Perhaps fans’ expectations were not as high then as they were this season. Entering last season, the Cheifs had lost six straight home games in the postseason – a streak that dated back to 1993.

What was different last season became apparent this season, as QB Patrick Mahomes continued his mastery of NFL defenses in dominating wins over the Texans and Titans. Mahomes magnificent play vaulted the Chiefs to the Super Bowl and ended a streak that saw Kansas City on a rather embarrassing list.

After appearing in two of the first four Super Bowls as members of the AFL, the Chiefs were one of four teams around at the time of the merger to fail and reach the Super Bowl.

NFL Franchises, No Super Bowl Appearances
Since AFL-NFL Merger in 1970
Championship Game W-LLast Appearance
New York Jets>>0-42010
Cleveland Browns0-31989
Detroit Lions0-11991
>>Won Super Bowl III (Member of AFL)

The Chiefs offense explosions were quite a difference from the offense Reid featured in Philadelphia. The previous arguments used against Reid’s failure to achieve success hosting a conference championship game, no longer applied with his third-year QB.

While Donovan McNabb did not possess the offensive threats Reid has in Kansas City, productive regular-season numbers in 2002 & 2003 disappeared in sluggish playoff performances.

Andy Reid Offense, Playoff Year
Reached AFC/NFC Champ at home
2019 Chiefs2018 Chiefs2003 Eagles2002 Eagles
Champ Game ResultW, 35-24L, 37-31L, 14-3L, 27-10
Yards PG419356.5326315
Comp. Pct.65.762.350.858.2
TD Drives/Possessions13/208/222/242/22

Whatever fears Mahomes and company faced falling behind Houston 24-0 in the Divisional Round was quickly overcome with the Chiefs execution of seven consecutive TD drives. The Chiefs 51-31 victory saw Mahomes become the sixth QB in NFL Playoff history to throw five TD without an interception.

In what looked like a repeat performance in the AFC Championship Game, Kansas City turned an early deficit into a yawnfest. Trailing 17-7, Mahomes offense outscored Tennessee 28-7 the rest of the way.

Patrick Mahomes vs QB Greats
First Four Playoff Starts
W-LComp Pct.Pass YdsTD/INT
Patrick Mahomes3-162.81,18811/0
Tom Brady4-058.67732/1
Peyton Manning1-354.99356/2
Joe Montana4-062.19487/5
Brett Favre2-258.31,0085/4
John Elway2-251.28084/6
Dan Marino2-261.01,19412/7

While fans in Kansas City are excited to get back to the Super Bowl, Mahomes Madden-like numbers in his four playoff starts dwarf his competition.

Mahomes and the Chiefs should get a significant challenge from the NFC Champion 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, but what an impressive show NFL fans have been privy to so far with Mahomes playing the lead.

Henry & Tannehill Keys in Titans in Historic Run

Henry & Tannehill Keys in Titans in Historic Run

Entering the 2019 NFL season, very few prognosticators figured the Tennessee Titans would be playing in their fifth AFC Championship Game in franchise history.

After a successful five-year run from 1999-2003, where they appeared in two AFC Championship Games and Super Bowl XXXIV, they fell on hard times. Only three times in the previous 17 seasons has the franchise reached the postseason, winning just one game.

After a dominant 43-13 victory at Cleveland to start the season, Tennessee fell flat, losing four of their next five games. Their offense was non-existent in those losses, totaling just 31 points.

The Titans decided to replace franchise QB Marcus Mariota with Ryan Tannehill, who was once viewed the same way as a member of the Miami Dolphins. However, injuries and inconsistency ended his tenure leaving many to doubt his ability to lead a consistent, productive offense.

Tannehill’s presence ignited the Titans stagnant offense in consecutive wins against the Chargers & Buccaneers (completed just under 71 percent of his passes while throwing for 505 yards, 5 TD, and 1 INT). However, a loss to the Panthers dropped their record under 500 again at 4-5. While Tannehill’s calm demeanor helped provide direction, something else was missing.

Enter Derrick Henry.

Derrick Henry Rushing Numbers
Last 8 Games (Includes Postseason)
Rushing Totals (Last 8 Games)
Total Yards1,273
Yards Per Game159.1
Yards Per Carry6.3
>> 588 yards, 6.1 YPC, 196.0 YPG, 4 TD in last 3 games

Tennessee won their next four games behind Henry’s running, as he averaged 149.8 YPG and 6.7 YPC. A sore left hamstring saw Henry post only 86 rushing yards in a loss to the Texans and miss their 38-28 loss at New Orleans.

Facing a win and in scenario against division rival Houston (who had already clinched the AFC South), Henry returned with a vengeance. His 211 rushing yards helped him become the first Heisman Trophy winner since Barry Sanders in 1997 to win the NFL rushing title, while also clinching the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC for the Titans.

As the Titans prepare to take on the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, Henry is enjoying a historic playoff run (literally). He set an NFL record on Saturday in defeating the AFC #1 seed Baltimore Ravens 28-12, posting his third straight game with at least 180 rushing yards. That followed his 182-yard performance that ended the Patriots run of eight consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances.

QB Throwing for under 100 Yds, Consecutive Playoff Wins
NFL Playoffs, Super Bowl Era
2019 Ryan Tannehill, TEN72 at Patriots88 at Ravens
1974 Terry Bradshaw, PIT95 at Raiders96 vs Vikings

After finishing the regular season averaging 228.5 passing yards per game with 22 TD and just 6 INT during the regular season, Tannehill has played a different role in the postseason. In both the Titans postseason wins, Tannehill has thrown for under 100 yards (72 at Patriots, 88 at Ravens). He is only the second QB in NFL playoff history to win consecutive playoff games without throwing for 100 yards in either game (Terry Bradshaw threw for 95 & 96 yards in wins over the Raiders & Vikings).

While Tannehill’s run at NFL playoff history could not happen without help from his teammates, perhaps its overall meaning can be seen in another example. The only other QB in franchise history to throw for under 100 yards and win a postseason game was Steve McNair. McNair finished 13-24 for 76 yards in the Titans 22-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the 1999 AFC Wild Card Game. Most people refer to that game as the “Music City Miracle”, which Kevin Dyson returned a kickoff 75 yards for the game-winning TD after receiving a cross-field lateral from Frank Wycheck. Could the NFL world be witness to another Titans Super Bowl run featuring this rare feet by a QB?

Craig Morton set the NFL postseason record for fewest completions (4) and passing yards (38) in a NFL postseason win when the Cowboys defeated the Detroit Lions 5-0 in the 1970 NFC Divisional Round.
Craig Morton set the NFL postseason record for fewest completions (4) and passing yards (38) in a NFL postseason win when the Cowboys defeated the Detroit Lions 5-0 in the 1970 NFC Divisional Round.

If Tannehill and the Titans are able to defeat the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, they will join the Dallas Cowboys as the only teams to feature two different QB leading their team to a Super Bowl in the same postseason they won a game throwing for under 100 yards.

On December 26, 1970 in the first ever NFC Divisional Round, Dallas Cowboys QB Craig Morton set NFL records by throwing for the fewest yards (38) and completing the fewest passes (4) in a postseason win. Morton and the Cowboys defeated the Lions 5-0 on their way to losing to the Colts in Super Bowl V. A year later, Roger Staubach threw for 99 yards while leading the Cowboys to a 20-12 win over the Vikings in the NFC Divisional Round. Dallas went on to win their first Super Bowl, defeating the Miami Dolphins 24-3 in Super Bowl VI.

Fewest Regular Season Wins, Advanced To Super Bowl
Non-Strike Seasons
W-LSuper Bowl Result
2011 New York Giants9-7Defeated Patriots 21-17
2008 Arizona Cardinals9-7 Lost vs Steelers 27-23
1979 Los Angeles Rams9-7Loss vs Steelers 31-19
1967 Green Bay Packers9-4-1Defeated Raiders, 33-14
>>Tennessee Titans (9-7) at Kansas City in AFC Championship

What will the Titans show the NFL against the Chiefs? If it’s anything like what we have seen so far, Tennessee might become just the fifth team to win nine regular-season games and advance to the Super Bowl.

Vikings, 49ers Bring Up Ghosts of Playoffs Past

Vikings, 49ers Bring Up Ghosts of Playoffs Past

The NFL season has grown into a mutation of one of the greatest seasons in NFL history. Fans saw history made seemingly every week of the season, and Wild Card weekend kept that trend going.

The Divisional Round of the NFL postseason is my favorite weekend of the season. This year’s matchups provide fans who appreciate reminiscing about playoff games from yesteryear with a bevy of memories.

Saturday, Jan. 11: No. 6 Minnesota Vikings at No. 1 San Francisco 49ers, 4:35 p.m. NBC

While this is the first foray into the postseason for Jimmy Garappolo’s San Francisco 49ers, hosting divisional round playoff games is not rare for this franchise.

Saturday marks the 15th time the 49ers will receive a first-round bye and home playoff game. Saturday also marks the fifth time they will be taking on the Minnesota Vikings. 

San Francisco has won three of the four previous matchups, culminating in a memorable three-year stretch from 1987-89. 

The 1988 & 1989 49ers avenged one of the biggest upsets in NFL playoff history, outscoring the Vikings 75-22 in consecutive divisional round matchups. The 49ers won their third & fourth Super Bowl titles of the 1980s in those seasons. Despite accomplishing that significant feat, the sting of the 1987 Divisional Round playoff loss at home still left a mark.

The 1987 49ers were a result of consecutive playoff beatings by the New York Giants at the Meadowlands in 1985 & 1986. San Francisco lost those games by a combined score of 66-6. 

The Giants slapped the 49ers silly with their physical play. The 1986 Divisional Round matchup saw Joe Montana get knocked unconscious by Giants defensive lineman Jim Burt on the same play Lawrence Taylor returned his pass attempt 34-yards for a TD.

In 1987 the 49ers featured a re-energized Joe Montana at QB. After appearing in just eight games and throwing one more INT than TD in 1986, Montana came ready to play in 1987. 

Montana threw a career-high 31 TD in only 13 games (the players walked out after Week 2 & the NFL used replacement players for three games). Jerry Rice made people forget about his fumble on the opening drive of their playoff loss at New York the year before, by setting an NFL record with 22 TD receptions (in just 12 games!). 

The 1987 49ers finished first in total yards on offense and defense. They won their games by an average of 13.8 PPG. Their defense was physical and aggressive.

The 1987 Minnesota Vikings finished with a record of 8-7, earning them the final playoff spot in the NFC. The Vikings quickly showed their postseason run would be memorable, easily defeating the New Orleans Saints 44-10 in the franchise’s first postseason game. The Saints finished 12-3, owning the second-best record in the NFL.

Anthony Carter was in his third season with the Vikings, coming over from the USFL. Carter made a name for himself at the University of Michigan & the Michigan Panthers (USFL) by making big plays. 

Carter set the NCAA record for yards per play (17.4). He scored the game-winning TD in the first USFL Championship Game in 1983, helping Michigan upset Philadelphia. During the 1987 regular season, Carter led the NFL in yards per reception (23.4), becoming just the fourth WR since the merger to reach that number.  

Carter kept his penchant for playing well in big moments during the Vikings win over the Saints, setting an NFL record for most punt return yards (143 – since broken by Allen Rossum of ATL in 2005). and giving the Vikings a lead they never relinquished with his 84-yard punt return.

Against San Francisco, Carter took his game to another level. Carter finished with 227 receiving yards on ten receptions while adding 51 yards rushing (30) & returning (21). Overall, his 278 total yards from scrimmage ranks as the third-highest total for an NFL postseason game since the merger. 

After putting together his most impressive regular season in his career, Montana struggled in the first half, completing just 12 of 26 passes for 109 yards. The final blow for Montana occurred just before halftime. Trailing 13-3, Montana was intercepted by Najee Mustafaa, who returned it 45 yards to give the Vikings a 20-3 halftime lead. 

Bill Walsh then did the unimaginable. He replaced Montana to start the second half with Steve Young. Keep in mind, at this point in his career, Young was not the NFL MVP. He was not playoff-tested. He was a talented QB who had a lot to prove. Young did his best, completing 12 of 17 passes for 158 yards and a TD, while also running for 72 yards and a TD. Walsh’s move set the stage for the QB controversy that started during training camp in 1988.

The Vikings 36-24 victory shocked everyone around the NFL, including Niners owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. who made changes to the 49ers front office. Bill Walsh, winner of Super Bowls XVI and XIX, would later call the game “the most traumatic experience I’ve had in sports.” Asked immediately after the game, if Walsh would be back as head coach, DeBartolo said, “Until you hear otherwise.” He stayed on as coach, but Walsh was no longer team president.

For Anthony Carter and the Vikings, their season ended the next week in Washington. Carter finished with 642 yards from scrimmage during their 1987 playoff run, a record that still stands for a single postseason.

Do the Jets have Deep Pockets for the Deep Threat, Robby Anderson?

Do the Jets have Deep Pockets for the Deep Threat, Robby Anderson?

We all knew Robby Anderson’s contract with the Jets was ending at the end of this season but we didn’t know how depleted the entire team would be. The 26 year old wide receiver has surely grown into himself. Anderson has had a decent year with 5 touchdowns on 49 receptions at Week 17. But if the rumors are true, that he’s looking for a 4 year, 10 million dollar contract the Jets might not be able to resign him.

Robby Anderson was once labeled a “One Trick Pony” since most of his plays were speedy deep routes. This year he was utilized in more plays and short passes. He has had his ups and downs with this team but the fact remains that Sam Darnold loves him. Unfortunately, the might not be able to afford to the Sam and Robby duo.

Robby’s career high is 63 catches for 941 yards – two years ago. That’s definitely not a $10 million dollar caliber receiver. Many have tried to compare him to his wide receiver counterparts such as Tyler Lockett, Emmanuel Sanders and Larry Fitzgerald. All are getting paid between 10-12 millions dollars a year. Yet they all have more receptions and/or yards than Anderson. A valid argument could be made for an 8 million dollar a year contract with performance incentives. Outside of that, 10 million for a number 2 wide receiver with mediocre numbers seems outlandish.

Joe Douglas will have his hands full this off season as he tries to rebuild the Jets from the ground up. The team is depleted and needs a new offensive line, pass rush, and corner backs which will be quite costly! What a difference a year can make in the NFL. The Jets went from having the 2nd highest cap in the league to having to try and get position players on a budget. After addressing these issues he will have little left to figure out how to address his wide receiver and running back situation. If Anderson is unwilling to negotiate, his return is highly unlikely.

2020 Post-Regular Season NFL Mock Draft

2020 Post-Regular Season NFL Mock Draft

For all of the teams that didn’t make the playoffs, it is officially draft season for you. For 20 NFL fan bases, their Google search history will be flooded with mock drafts and prospect highlight tapes. The draft in some way, shape, or form gives teams and their fans hope for following years. New players excite people and speculating on their future destinations keeps everybody talking until draft night.

This class is loaded with offensive talent that is unlike most others. There are possibly up to seven quarterbacks, four running backs, and roughly up to 15 wide receivers that could find themselves in the first round of this year’s draft. That leaves open the possibility of teams waiting on offensive skill players until the later rounds so they can get an early bid on the top tier defensive players and offensive linemen. With that being said, let’s see how the draft could possibly shakeout before the playoffs commence.

1. 2020 Post-Regular Season NFL Mock Draft

It is no secret that this pick is virtually a no-brainer. The Bengals need a quarterback and Joe Burrow is the best one in the class. Not only that, but he’s from Southeast Ohio so there should be a sense of comfort for Burrow. Burrow had one of the best seasons in college football history completing almost 80% of his throws and leading LSU who quickly became the best team in the country. He’s a real solid athlete that can move outside the pocket and deliver the ball from weird angles. His accuracy is off the charts and he certainly has suitable arm strength for the NFL. This pick is a no-brainer for the Bengals and it has been for a long time.

2. Washington Redskins- Chase Young (DE, Ohio State)

Chase Young could very easily be the best player in the draft and possibly the best prospect we have seen in a significant amount of time. Young was by far the most dominant defensive player in the country this year and showed that he is virtually unblockable, even by future NFL offensive linemen. Washington is getting a player that solidifies their front seven and could step into their defensive line from day one and be their best player. Pairing 6’6” Young and 6’6” Montez Sweat would be a dream come true for the Redskins. Throw Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne in the middle and that sets up one of the best defensive fronts in football. It’s understandable when people say that they should address the offensive side and help out Dwayne Haskins, but Chase Young is just too good to pass up.

3. Detroit Lions- Jeffrey Okudah (CB, Ohio State)

The Lions have a nice plethora of young corners already on the roster with Darius Slay, Justin Coleman, and Amani Oruwariye, but this secondary would jump to another level with Okudah. He is clearly the best corner in this draft and possibly the best corner since Jalen Ramsey. Okudah at 6’1” has good size for the position and can line up both on the perimeter and in the slot. His strength comes in man coverage, but can be coached up to become more consistent in zone. The Lions have a lot of options here, but Okudah is a can’t miss prospect at the position and if Darius Slay ends up elsewhere in the future, they have a future number one corner to fill in just fine.

4. New York Giants- Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)

This is the sexy pick that Giants fans can get excited about. Jerry Jeudy is just simply fun to watch. He is unbelievable at creating space and is possibly the best route runner evaluated in the past two decades. There is no doubt that Jeudy is a special talent. The Giants were heavily criticized two years in a row for taking Saquon Barkley instead of a quarterback in 2018 and then taking Daniel Jones as the heir apparent to Eli Manning last year. Taking Jeudy here will give the G-Men one of the most dynamic and exciting combination of skill players in football. Jones proved that he can be starter in this league and Barkley has established himself as one of the league’s best backs. Jerry Jeudy should explode from day one in the NFL and give the Giants a receiving core to be feared.

5. Miami Dolphins- Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama)

Ok, here we go. Everybody drop your tomatoes and hear me out. Tua Tagovailoa is still a special prospect despite the injury. We haven’t heard anything new about the hip and that’s good news. It’s understood that hip injuries are serious and need to be monitored heavily, but if the Dolphins are still infatuated with Tua and think he is the future of the franchise, they should take him at this spot. He has a great arm with great accuracy that can be paired with solid athleticism and scrambling ability. He is unique in the fact that he is left handed and can complete passes at a 70% clip. He has developed fast and barring health, he should continue to get better in Miami. The fit just feels seamless. Tua to Miami. It feels meant to be.

6. Los Angeles Chargers- Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon)

Justin Herbert could have come out last year and have been the best quarterback in the draft, but he decided to go back for one more season at Oregon to try and compete for a national title. Though his title aspirations fell short, he showed NFL scouts how special he can be. He has a big athletic body that can move extremely well. Herbert has a very good arm that will definitely translate to the NFL. His accuracy and decision making could use some work, but he is a really coachable kid with a team-first mentality and should improve quickly. Philip Rivers does not look like he will continue his career in LA and the Chargers don’t have their future answer on the roster so Herbert feels like a great fit here.

7. Carolina Panthers- Derrick Brown (DT, Auburn)

The Panthers are in a really uncomfortable spot because they’re too low to draft a quarterback, but too high to address a definitive position of need. So they go with the best interior defensive lineman in the draft with Derrick Brown. Brown is the definition of a disruptor on the defensive line. He has the size to clog running lanes and the speed to be a legitimate pass rusher from inside. Brown is incredibly explosive and consistently bullies offensive linemen. There are questions about him when he can’t get his arms extended, but Brown is so quick off of his first step that he shouldn’t get caught too much. Carolina’s front seven was one of the strengths of the team and they should make the effort to keep the defensive line young and explosive.

8. Arizona Cardinals- Ceedee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)

This is a fit that should get everybody excited. Kyler Murray and Ceedee Lamb are quite familiar with each other as they were teammates at Oklahoma and they will be playing in a very similar system as they did in college as well. Ceedee Lamb should thrive within Kliff Kingsbury’s offensive scheme. His size and catch radius fits perfectly in an offense that is based around spacing and making plays in the open fields. Lamb has great hands and a ton of big play ability that should benefit the arm of Kyler Murray. The only knock on Lamb is that he is not lightning fast, but by no stretch of the imagination is he slow. Lamb can still run very well, but he isn’t Tyreek Hill. Adding Lamb to this offense should help elevate the production of the team and the development of Murray going forward.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars- Isaiah Simmons (LB, Clemson)

The Jaguars defense took a clear step back this year after the injury to Myles Jack and the trade of Jalen Ramsey. So the Jags use the first of their first round picks on Isaiah Simmons who is as versatile of a defensive player as there is in college football. He began his career at safety with Clemson and then outgrew the position so he shifted to linebacker and became an elite prospect at that spot. Simmons can line up virtually everywhere on a defense. Pass rusher, inside linebacker, safety, slot corner, pick a spot and he can probably play it to some level. The Jags need somebody that can help this defense rebound and adding a crazy athletic linebacker in Simmons to pair with Myles Jack should help that from the beginning.

10. Cleveland Brown- Andrew Thomas (OT, Georgia)

The Browns get very fortunate here by snagging the best offensive lineman in the draft. We can point the blame in a lot of areas for Cleveland’s disappointing season. Recently fired coach Freddie Kitchens, Baker Mayfield, an inconsistent defense, were all contributors, but the offensive line was a big factor in their lack of success. Thomas is a stepping stone to fixing that problem. Thomas is great in both run blocking and pass protection and should be able to start at left tackle week one. One of the things that makes Thomas so intriguing is his versatility. Her played both left tackle and right tackle at Georgia this year and has the ability to play guard if needed. This is a must have for the Browns and they would be really fortunate to have Thomas fall into their lap like this.

11. New York Jets- Jedrick Wills (OT, Alabama)

Once Sam Darnold came back from mono this season, the Jets were actually not a terrible football team. Darnold played very well when given some sort of protection from his offensive line. The problem was that almost never happened. The Jets had one of the lowest graded offensive lines in football last year so that becomes top priority here. Wide receiver, pass rusher, and corner are also needs, but none as urgent as this need in the trenches. Wills had the benefit of being Alabama’s best offensive lineman protecting Tua’s blindside at right tackle. He should be able to move over to left tackle easily if the Jets decide to move him there. Wills thrives more in run protection as of now and needs to get quicker on his feet in pass pro, but he’s a strong kid that can be more than serviceable right out of the gate.

12. Las Vegas Raiders- Henry Ruggs III (WR, Alabama)

The second of possibly three Alabama wide receivers goes off the board here to the Raiders who are opening a new stadium in Vegas next year. Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden did well last year in the draft hitting on a lot of players that made an impact right away. Maxx Crosby, Trayvon Mullen, Clelin Ferrell, Johnathan Abram, and of course Josh Jacobs, just to name a few. I don’t buy the fact that the Raiders are dying to move on from Derek Carr. So instead they give him a weapon that can be viewed as a mirror image to Tyreek Hill. He has elite speed and over the top ability and should have no problem creating space with his speed. His route running is not great and that may plague him in the short and intermediate passing game, but Ruggs is definitely a difference maker in any offense and the Raiders could use a legitimate speed threat at receiver to pair with Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow.

13. Indianapolis Colts- Javon Kinlaw (DT, South Carolina)

The Colts are another team that are in an uncomfortable spot. They could easily use a wide receiver as well as possibly a quarterback, but at 13, they don’t really have those options. So they address the defensive line where they can use an upgrade on the interior by drafting Kinlaw. Javon Kinlaw has risen up draft boards like crazy over the course of the season because of his aggressiveness and explosiveness. He is incredibly strong and will bully NFL guards on a week to week basis. He can affect the game in both run stoppage and pass rushing. The knock on Kinlaw is that he has a raw mind and will misdiagnose offensive schemes and plays from the line of scrimmage. He also has a tendency to show a lack of energy late in games, but with solid coaching (and the Colts definitely have that), he should reach his potential as a massive disruptor on the defensive line. Chris Ballard hits another homerun here.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin)

Most people will have the Bucs entertaining a quarterback here, but I don’t see a quarterback worth taking at this spot that fits with Bruce Arians. I think they will give Jameis Winston another shot and instead give him a future superstar running back in Jonathan Taylor. Taylor is one of the best running backs I have seen at the college level. He has dominated for years at Wisconsin and has gotten better every year. He is great in open space and has a knack for finding gaps in the line and down the field. He has good speed for a running back and can definitely break one when he finds the right hole. He isn’t as good of a pass catcher as you would want him to be, but in Tampa, they have plenty of pass catching options with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Cameron Brate, OJ Howard, Ronald Jones, etc. Taylor is a great fit for Tampa as they finally give Jameis Winston a suitable running game.

15. Denver Broncos- Tristan Wirfs (OT, Iowa)

Some view Tristan Wirfs as the best tackle in the draft. I think his anticipation can get a little better, but there is no doubt that he is a phenomenal talent. Wirfs has a huge frame at 6’5” 322 lbs and should immediately be able to handle NFL pass rushers. He played right tackle at Iowa, but he should be able to move to left tackle and replace Garett Bolles without issues. The Broncos look like they might have something with Drew Lock at quarterback, Philip Lindsay in the backfield, and with Courtland Sutton at wide receiver. Noah Fant at tight end also looks really solid. They just need to get better up front. Wirfs gives them two bookend tackles along with Ja’Wuan James who they signed last year in the offseason. 

16. Atlanta Falcons- AJ Epenesa (DE, Iowa)

The second straight Iowa player goes here with AJ Epenesa. He is a gifted pass rusher with great size and athleticism which the Falcons desperately need. The Falcons are reportedly planning to keep Dan Quinn as their head coach and Epenesa should be a nice new toy to play with in Quinn’s defensive scheme. He is a strong player that wins a lot with a bull rush style of pass rush. He has the speed to use more finesse moves when needed, but he doesn’t often use it. He may need to gain more confidence in that area, but his talent along with his size could force him into the top ten. The Falcons are getting a steal here with Epenesa and are addressing a need due to the inconsistency of Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley.

17. Dallas Cowboys- Grant Delpit (S, LSU)

The Cowboys have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL and still missed the playoffs. It says a lot about their coaching staff. But that roster could take a hit in free agency as they could lose multiple players in the secondary. Grant Delpit is the pick here. He is easily the best safety in the draft and the Cowboys have needed one for a while. Delpit has a ton of talent in multiple different areas and doesn’t have a glaring weakness. He is extremely affective as a box safety stopping the run and in blitz packages. He can be really versatile in both man and zone coverage. Delpit is a special talent and should make an immediate impact. His only knock is that he isn’t the best tackler and that’s what is causing him to slip somewhat. He is still a physical player, but he does have a tendency to miss tackles that he shouldn’t. The Cowboys getting Delpit here would be very fortunate and he should fit with whoever their new coach is.

18. Miami Dolphins (via PIT)- D’Andre Swift (RB, Georgia)

The second of three picks here for the Dolphins and they take the second running back off the board in D’Andre Swift. After nabbing Tua with their first selection, Miami takes a running back that some people have as RB1 on their boards. He is incredible in the open field and despite his small frame (5’9” 215 lbs), he runs with plenty of power. Swift runs with great balance and can be really hard to take down. He is incredibly agile and can make people miss with ease. Swift can also make plays in the passing game when needed as he is a solid route runner out of the backfield. Swift’s primary issue is that he isn’t a great blocker as a running back so that may limit his snaps on third down. He has to become a better pass protector if he wants to consistently be an every down back. However, Miami needs talent and playmaking at running back and Swift definitely brings that. Pairing him with Tua should be fun to watch right out of the gate.

19. Las Vegas Raiders (via CHI)- Kenneth Murray (LB, Oklahoma)

Yes, a defender from Oklahoma is getting drafted this early. Despite being in the Big 12 which has a reputation for terrible defenses, Murray is an extremely talented player that can win in multiple facets. He tends to be more of a finesse player than a power player in most cases. He’s extremely patient in the second level and doesn’t overly commit to one side leaving himself vulnerable. He has great speed and athleticism and anticipates how plays should shape up to be. His lack of aggressiveness does show at points where he gets caught looking weak in some aspects, but he does find ways to make plays when needed. The Raiders need to get better in the middle of their defense. Aside from Tahir Whitehead, they don’t have much at that position so adding Murray would improve that defense immensely.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR)- Kristian Fulton (CB, LSU)

After the Jags traded Jalen Ramsey to the Rams, we have to assume that they will use one of their two first rounders to address corner. So they will use the pick they got from the Rams to pick up Kristian Fulton who has the potential to be a number one corner in the NFL. Fulton is great in press coverage and can lock down receivers with ease especially in the short and intermediate passing game. He has decent size for a corner (6’0” 200 lbs) and he pairs it with solid speed to not get burnt on deep routes. Fulton struggles with 50/50 balls and isn’t a great timing player. He also isn’t the most physical tackler so he will have a tendency to miss tackles in the open field. The Jaguars now have to address corner and sure up this defense that took a step back this past year. They do so by adding Fulton and Isaiah Simmons in the first round.

21. Philadelphia Eagles- Paulson Adebo (CB, Stanford)

The Eagles were riddled with injuries all season long, but the fact remains that they have struggled to get corner right for a number of years. Sidney Jones, Ronald Darby, and Rasul Douglas have all taken steps back so they address it again by getting Adebo. He has great size for the position (6’1” 190 lbs) and can run with almost any wide receiver and not get lost. Adebo is a former wide receiver and it shows with his ability to follow routes, cause turnovers, and battle in the air for the ball. This is something the Eagles need in a corner. The challenge will be that he is only a two year starter and is very new to the position. Sometimes his anticipation wavers and he’s late on reads. But at this stage, the Eagles have to take a chance on a kid with massive upside because they have to hit a homerun at corner. Pass defense has been a problem for years and they have to flood talent in this area.

22. Tennessee Titans- K’Lavon Chaisson (DE, LSU)

The Titans might have found their answer at quarterback with Ryan Tannehill at least for the time being so they address the defense by adding another pass rusher in K’Lavon Chaisson. Chaisson has a great sized frame at 6’4” 250 lbs and has some great speed off the edge. Injuries caused him to miss the entire 2018 season so he is a little raw in his skillset right now. But the physical tools are all there and he can win at the point of attack in multiple ways. Chaisson also works well in a lot of defensive sets with his ability to cover and spy as a linebacker. Mike Vrabel will love this kid’s versatility going forward as he continues to improve as a player. Adding Chaisson to this defensive front should scare teams. Having Chaisson, Harold Landry, Jurrell Casey, and Jeffrey Simmons on the same line will cause problems in the AFC.

23. Buffalo Bills- Tee Higgins (WR, Clemson)

The Bills added Cole Beasley and John Brown at wide receiver in the offseason to give Josh Allen more targets and they certainly helped. But the Bills could still use a guy with a larger catch radius than those two. Tee Higgins gives them that. Trevor Lawrence’s go to guy this year stands at 6’4” 215 lbs and can go up and get it with the best of them. Higgins has great hands and can win a lot of matchups as a deep threat. He isn’t the most polished route runner, but that could be because Clemson limited him in the route tree. Higgins has great breakaway speed for his size and should make up for some of the deficiencies that Josh Allen occasionally has with his accuracy. He’s a go to redzone threat every time down the field. Tee Higgins is a perfect fit in Buffalo and should make an impact right away.

24. Minnesota Vikings- Alex Leatherwood (OT, Alabama)

The Vikings offensive line made big strides this year with the development of Brian O’Neill and Garrett Bradbury. But they could still make upgrades and turn this into a strength of their team. Leatherwood might be the most athletic offensive lineman in the draft and he can play wherever you need him to along the front line. He played left tackle at Alabama and can certainly make that transition in the NFL, but if the Vikings need him to play guard, he can absolutely do that. At 6’6” 310 lbs, he has a large, but athletic body that can move quickly both vertically and laterally. He isn’t the most polished as far as technique and using his hands to keep rushers out of the pocket, but he is a coachable kid and should develop into a real consistent pass protector. Leatherwood would fit well with what Minnesota is trying to establish along the offensive line.

25. Miami Dolphins (via HOU)- Yetur Gross-Matos (DE, Penn State)

Gross-Matos is an extremely long player with great athleticism. He stands at 6’5” 264 lbs and uses those long arms to win battles and the point of contact from the outside. He plays with a ferocious motor and he never gives up on a play. He is very advanced with his pass rushing moves as far as hand usage and rushing from different spots along the line. Gross-Matos has a great head on his shoulders and is very developed as a player. He does have a tendency to play slower than he should not because of a lack of effort, but lack of understanding. He has trouble making reads at certain points and sometimes struggles finding the football after contact. With that said, the Dolphins have to get better in the front seven and after using their first two picks on offensive players, they invest in a high-upside pass rusher here.

26. Seattle Seahawks- Austin Jackson (OT, USC)

The Seahawks need offensive linemen and they need them badly. They haven’t had a good offensive line in a long time and they need to start protecting Russell Wilson who they just paid $35 million per year. Austin Jackson has been flying up boards and the Seahawks snag him right here. Seattle has to replace Germain Ifedi at right tackle and Jackson should do that immediately. Jackson has a long athletic body that makes him affective in both pass and run blocking. He has great footwork and uses his hands really well to irritate defenders. He has a tendency to “tip his pitches,” based on his stance. He can sometimes give away the play based on how he stands at the line of scrimmage. Jackson can also panic when he goes up against faster pass rushers so he can be prone to penalties. With that being said, the Seahawks have to upgrade the offensive line and Jackson definitely does that.

27. New England Patriots- Jake Fromm (QB, Georgia)

The time has come. The Patriots have to address quarterback. Tom Brady has taken a significant step back this year and his age might finally be catching up to him. There is no shame in the Patriots addressing quarterback early in the draft this year. Plus, the guy that they are getting fits perfectly with what they want to do. Jake Fromm’s best quality is his head. He is the smartest quarterback in the draft and it isn’t particularly close. He would work incredibly well with Bill Belichick and Fromm’s lack of skill in certain areas can be coached around with Bill. Fromm has a solid arm with good athleticism. He can get spotty with throws, but overall, has a good all-around skillset. If he can cut down on the interceptions and become a little more accurate, than Jake Fromm should become an excellent quarterback in this league.

28. New Orleans Saints- Justin Jefferson (WR, LSU)

The Saints have a very well-rounded roster with talent all over the field. One of the things that they need however is a number two receiver. Justin Jefferson fills that need very well. He has good size at 6’3” 192 lbs and has great big play ability. Jefferson is supremely athletic and can make plays down the field with his speed and ability to create separation. He is coming out of LSU playing with Joe Burrow who was the most accurate quarterback in college football this year. Jefferson should make the easy transition to playing with the most accurate quarterback in NFL history in Drew Brees. Jefferson can sometimes play smaller than his frame suggests. He isn’t great at 50/50 balls despite his athleticism, he can sometimes let the ball get too deep on his body instead of extending his hands for catches, and he doesn’t use his hands well to separate at the line of scrimmage. However, he’ll only have to be the number two wide receiver as Michael Thomas is the clear number one. Jefferson should fit really well with the Saints without leaving the state of Louisiana.

29. Kansas City Chiefs- Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama)

Kansas City has to commit to building this defense. They will have no problem outscoring you on any given night, but they can allow a lot of points on the other side of the ball. The Chiefs have to address corner in order for that to get any better. This is where Trevon Diggs comes in. Diggs is an exceptional corner with great zone coverage ability. He has great size for the position (6’2” 207 lbs) and shows it. He can win the battle at the end of the route consistently and is great at going after the ball while it’s in the air. His biggest weakness is as a tackler and it’s a pretty big weakness. He comes off with the impression that he doesn’t like to hit. For his size, he should definitely be better at bringing guys down in space. However, as a coverage corner, he is outstanding and the Chiefs need guys that can keep the ball from getting down field.

30. Green Bay Packers- Tyler Biadasz (C, Wisconsin)

The Packers made a lot of moves both in the draft and in free agency to improve their defense last year. This year, they should focus on the offensive side. The depth at wide receiver in this class is incredible so they will elect to wait on one until the later rounds. Instead, they address a need on the interior offensive line. David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga are good tackles and Elgton Jenkins took strides this year at left guard. But they need to address the center position specifically. Corey Linsley is not getting the job done up the middle. He is the clear weak link. Adding Biadasz should help significantly in both the run and pass game. He plays with a ton of heart and should quickly become a leader in that offensive unit. He wouldn’t have to leave the state of Wisconsin and can settle in nicely as the starting center for Aaron Rodgers. He can sometimes get crossed up by different blitz packages, but that should improve with experience. Biadasz would be an excellent pick for the Packers this late.

31. San Francisco 49ers- Bryce Hall (CB, Virginia)

The 49ers are one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NFL, but they could use some help at corner now and in the future. Bryce Hall provides that. An ankle injury limited his season to just six games, but he has great tools to be a great corner at the next level. Richard Sherman is getting older and they don’t have a reliable number two. Bryce Hall gives you great physicality at the position at the line of scrimmage, in the open field as a tackler, and in blitz packages. He also has great ball skills and can create turnovers at a high rate. He needs to work on his ability to stick to his man in man coverage, but he plays well as a zone player and could possibly move to safety in some sets. Hall has great upside and if it weren’t for the injury that shortened his season, he could have been a top 15 selection without question.

32. Baltimore Ravens- Dylan Moses (LB, Alabama)

The Ravens drafting Dylan Moses at the end of the first round could end up being the steal of the draft. The Ravens need somebody that can officially replace CJ Mosley at middle linebacker. Dylan Moses can do that from day one. He is an extremely physical player who is phenomenal at stopping the run. He can cover at a high level in zone coverage concepts and is phenomenal when used at a second level spy. His athleticism allows him to make some really impressive plays when making tackles and chasing down players. He isn’t great in man coverage, but the Ravens have an incredibly deep secondary so his responsibilities in that area should be pretty limited. Moses saw his stock fall significantly due to an injury that caused him to miss the entire season, but when healthy, he is an elite linebacker prospect that the Ravens should jump on. They could also address pass rusher, but with a player like Moses on the board, they can’t pass him up.

All That Glitters Isn’t (Red and) Gold

All That Glitters Isn’t (Red and) Gold

Last nights nail biter regular season finale game between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers wasn’t pretty. After last nights game, I think we saw two teams that are flawed and not Super Bowl bound. Unfortunately, the Seahawks flaws seem to come from injuries. They have lost their 3 starting running backs, #1 tight end, their star offensive tackle, all cornerbacks and Clowney on defense is believed to playing hurt. They lost their receiver Jaron Brown in the first series of last nights game leaving only Lockett, Metcalf, Moore and Ursula, making any kind of offense very challenging. The 49ers on the other hand are all healthy with the exception of Tart and Dee Ford. They had all of their starters including Bosa and Staley that they didn’t have in the first Seattle matchup. Why is this important to know? A Super Bowl destined team that’s almost completely healthy doesn’t let Russell Wilson come back from such a lead in the 2nd half with a completely decimated team.

The Niners appeared to dominate the whole first half when they went up by 13 at the half. The return of Marshawn Lynch this week actually Appeared to hurt the Seahawks as the Niners defense could almost guarantee he wouldn’t be involved in the pass game. Getting the offense started for Seattle seemed to be a real struggle going into half-time as they trailed 13-0.

The 2nd half Seattle offense definitely picked up the pace at the helm of Russell Wilson but the Niners seemed to have dropped off. Wilson led 3 touchdown drives and on the next drive he brought them back within 4 points. With the game on the line and seconds to play Wilson spiked the ball to stop the clock since there were no timeouts remaining. He had one incomplete pass and then game the first game changing moment. Jacob Hollister was completely draped by Fred Warner as a clear and blatant pass interference. The ball actually hits off of Hollister’s face mask as he couldn’t move his arms to catch it! This became a no call and no New York review that actually cost the Seahawks the game as they would’ve had a fresh set of downs at the goal line. The game ended with a costly delay of game and a 4th down stoppage of a Hollister catch within inches at a score of 26-21. The refs managed to make that call but ignored the pass interference that could’ve won the game for Seattle.

Strong teams don’t allow leads to slip away in over a third of their games. They put the final nail in the coffin and move on. Some say that’s what the 49ers do on a technicality because it’s a win but football is more intricate than that. From the Cardinals, first Seahawks matchup Saints, Rams and last nights game vs Seattle we watch them continually struggle to win games.

They’re very fortunate to have clinched the Bye and after last night they’ve showed the world they’re going to need it. This Seahawks-Niners game could very well have a part 2 in 2 weeks at Levi Stadium where the Hawks beat the Niners back in November and broke their undefeated record. More will be revealed in this playoff contention. One thing for sure, there is a team that knows how to get it done and they’re led by the man who set the Highest Comletion Record in NFL history. Just a friendly reminder to fans: All that Glitters Isn’t Gold.